Canada’s real terrorism problem

cold-lake-mosque.jpg

This mosque in Cold Lake, Alberta, was spray-painted by xenophobic vandals. The town is home to an airbase from which CF-18 jet fighters recently departed en route to the war zone of Iraq. The people of Cold Lake have since banded together to clean up the graffiti while the police search for the perpetrators.

Oh, Canada. What’s happening to you?

You used to be such a nice place. Liberal. Socialist, even. And it worked out great for you while it lasted.

You used to be such a livable, lovable place. The country to the immediate south of us may have billed itself the Land of Opportunity, but when it came to real opportunities, we had them beat. Our social safety net ensured that no one got left too far behind by the ups and downs of the mixed economy.

Everyone who came here used to feel so welcome. We got immigrants from all over the world, and they helped make this the most diverse country on the planet. And the most multicultural. And the place where the most disparate people had a chance to coexist peacefully. From Vietnam War draft dodgers to Iraq War refugees, we’ve been enriched by the presence of people who were outcasts in their own lands. And the religious and ethnic clashes of the old country were left far behind, much to the relief and joy of all. Here, it didn’t matter who you were, what you were or where you came from; you were accepted. You were always at home.

And now I feel like a stranger in my own land, even though I was born here.

We seem to have caught terrorism-itis from south of the border. Everyone’s so paranoid now. Instead of waiting to learn what’s going on, we start jumping to false conclusions. The embarrassing truth leaks out too late every time.

Like this week. These past few days saw us “attacked” by two “terrorists” who, it turns out, were something else altogether. One was a paranoid schizophrenic; the other, a drug addict. But since both were Muslims, and chose to attack and kill soldiers of the Canadian army, with a confused mess of ISIL propaganda and madness roaring through their heads, they just automatically got labelled as terrorists. As if they had flown fully loaded passenger jets into the Peace Tower and the banking district of downtown Toronto on a suicide mission co-ordinated from a cave somewhere near the Pak-Afghan border.

The truth is stranger, and sadder, and nowhere near as dramatic as that.

In fact, the “terrorists” were not foreigners, as was initially reported/speculated. They were both native-born French-Canadians. And they both had mental problems that could easily have been treated. This tragedy was totally avoidable, and neither a war nor even changes to our nation’s security systems was necessary to avert it.

Don’t believe me? Let’s look at who these guys were, and how they acted.

Martin Couture-Rouleau was a convert to Islam; he converted only last year. He was not an immigrant. He was not even remotely an Arab, or Muslim by birth. His religious conversion appears to have arisen out of a growing heap of personal problems. Apparently he made enough radical-sounding noises that the RCMP was investigating him, and his passport was revoked, preventing him from travelling to Turkey (and presumably, from there, to Syria to join ISIL forces). He was alienated from his family, and everyone who knew him was bewildered by the recent changes to his personality. He was divorced, and his ex-wife was apparently frightened enough of him to seek sole custody of their child. It was not Islam that had made him that way, though; it was his own schizophrenia. His “radicalization” was concurrent with the worsening of his illness. And his own imam struggled in vain to dissuade him from supporting ISIL or taking up battle — or terrorism — on their behalf.

Michael Zehaf-Bibeau was also not an immigrant, although his father was one (from Libya), and his mother a deputy chair at the federal immigration department. At school he was simply known as Mike Bibeau, the big, gregarious good-time guy voted most likely to succeed, especially with the ladies. But drug addiction shortly after his graduation from high school put an end to all that. He was known to police, but only as a petty criminal and drug abuser. His parents are long divorced, and bewildered as to what has become of him. Like Martin Couture-Rouleau, he was alienated from his family; his mother said she hadn’t seen him in five years. In that time, he had fled to BC, looking in vain to escape his addiction (which had shifted from marijuana and PCP usage to crack cocaine). He tried everything from religion to prison to cure himself. He wasn’t jailed long enough to keep him away from the dealers, and the imam of the mosque where he broke in at night to sleep on the floor locked him out. His religious fervor was a direct outgrowth of his efforts to replace one drug with another. At the time of his final desperate acts, he was homeless and so isolated from humanity that even at the Ottawa homeless shelter where he’d taken refuge, he was an outsider.

Neither man was connected to the other, nor to any known terrorist groups. Both were entirely isolated, and more so thanks to their respective mental conditions.

Meanwhile, our social safety net has eroded. Mental health services have faced severe cutbacks in all provinces. People who should have been hospitalized, as much for their own safety as anyone else’s, are instead left to roam the street, helpless and untreated. A few years ago, we were horrified by a beheading on a Greyhound bus; the killer, in that case, was a schizophrenic too, and should have been hospitalized. Not until he’d killed and partially eaten a complete stranger in the thick of a psychotic episode did he finally get the help he needed. If by “help” one means psychiatric incarceration, that is.

Six years after Vince Weiguang Li began his treatment, our mental health system has not improved a whit. It is still chronically starved of funding and professionals. The mental hospitals we so desperately need are still closed, with no new ones opened to replace them. The few still remaining have waiting lists a mile long. Those who can’t afford private counselling and rehab are shit out of luck.

And worse, we no longer have a federal long-gun registry. That’s right; a crime-fighting tool born out of a terrorist attack in Montréal was scrapped by the same wonderful Conservative party that’s also behind all the other rips in our social safety net! The police are thus officially hamstrung. Who knows if we’ll ever find out how Mike Bibeau, who was legally prohibited from owning firearms due to his criminal and drug record, managed to get his hands on the rifle that enabled him to kill Nathan Cirillo, who was standing guard at the federal War Memorial?

Yeah, tell me the Conservatives are not the real terrorists in all this. They’re using the hysteria surrounding these events, even now, to push their own very anti-Canadian agenda. And the sad part is, too many people are all too happy to LET them.

Of course, salient facts like that have escaped the major media, or the myriads of know-nothings who pontificate in the comments sections of their websites. Most of them seem quite convinced that if we only shut our doors tightly enough, ramped up the security high enough, and went to war in enough foreign countries to “bomb them back to the Stone Age” and “teach them a good lesson”, the “terrorist” problem would be best addressed. Never mind that neither of these guys was a foreigner, and that both in fact were born right here.

Or they’re all full of self-righteous Islamophobia, oblivious to the fact that in both cases, imams actually tried to deter these guys from taking the criminal turns they did. And oblivious, too, to the fact that Canadian Muslims are right on the same page with all the rest of us in condemning such attacks, and terrorism in general.

And above all, they’re oblivious to the role that a too-easy access to guns, and a too-hard access to mental health care, played in this whole goddamn mess. They simply cannot and will not see those connections, even though it doesn’t take a brilliant sociologist to draw them.

Oh yeah, and that’s another thing: We’re not supposed to commit sociology in times of terrorism, according to none other than Stephen Fucking Harper himself. Yes, that’s right…the tough-talking macho PM, who bravely, bravely hid in a broom closet while his underlings barricaded the door with spears made from flag poles!

But hey. At least the parliamentary Sergeant-at-Arms, Kevin Vickers, proved that his role is not merely ceremonial, even though his costume may be. Like René Jalbert many years before him, he was the one who engaged a confused, deranged gunman hellbent on wreaking terror. Unlike Jalbert, though, he couldn’t talk the shooter out of it; he ended up having to kill him. “Terrorist” crisis ended, either way.

And all this without recourse to war.

Now the PM’s security detail has modified its protocol so that they can enter the Commons chamber and protect him at all times. That’s fine; at least it doesn’t unduly curtail anyone’s civil liberties. Not so fine, however, is the legislation the government apparently passed on the same day as Martin Couture-Rouleau ran down Patrice Vincent in a fit of psychosis. We’re now facing intrusive, unconstitutional online surveillance under the pretext of “crime prevention”! Yay!

So, now you know. And if this is the last post you see from me, you’ll know why. I’ll have been arrested for committing the supreme terrorist act of daring to think un-conservatively and sociologically, and tying together all the things they don’t want us to understand are related. If you think Martin Couture-Rouleau and Michael Zehaf-Bibeau were crazy (and they were, alas), you ain’t seen nothin’ . My own country just totally outclassed them in the losing-one’s-shit department.

And since it’s already at war in Iraq, too, it’s also outdone them in terms of real terrorism.

Oh look, another ignorant white woman has an opinion!

know-your-veils

So I was scrolling through my Facebook feed this morning, when up pops this. Yet another ignorant white woman who is strangely offended by Muslim women just being themselves and minding their own damn business. Let’s take her argument point by point so we can see how ridiculous it is, shall we?

The niqab is a ridiculous garment, adopted by a small (but growing) number of women and rejected by many mainstream Muslims. When I see someone wearing it, I’m torn between laughing at the absurdity and irritation with the ideology it represents. In secular countries, the notion that women have to cover their faces whenever they leave the house is rightly seen as weird, and runs counter to the principle of gender equality. Many brave women in the Middle East and Asia have died for the much more important right not to cover their faces, and I have little patience with women in this country who make a mockery of that struggle by trying to pretend they’re the ones suffering oppression.

If it’s so ridiculous and so little worn, Joan, why do you care? And you obviously do, since you feel compelled to point and laugh and be “irritated with the ideology it represents”. WHAT ideology might that be, hmmm?

And what is “right” about seeing a veiled woman as weird? I see someone’s cultural biases doing the talking for her here. Now that’s an offensive ideology.

As for the “gender equality” canard: I should also note that in some North African Muslim countries, the men cover their faces and the women don’t; ever hear of the Tuareg, Joan? And anyway, most Muslim women who veil do not cover their faces; you said so yourself. So why single out the few who do?

And if you want to talk brave, I think you might want to meet Qahera, who doesn’t need your silly directives to unveil, and who rightly takes offence at ignorant westerners trying to “rescue” her from an imagined “ideology”.

Or just refer to my post about Riham Said from yesterday. She doesn’t need your ideology either.

I’m not in favour of the French approach, which is an outright ban on the niqab and the burqa; I’m not keen on banning things and it risks creating martyrs. It makes more sense to treat the face-veil as a political statement and insist on our right to make one in return.

And yet, you feel compelled to rag on how “weird” it is. And to make political statements against it. So, you’re calling for discrimination and razzing instead of an outright ban? Bravo, Joan, what a brave and rational stance to take! I’m sure that will convince everyone!

Covering the face doesn’t make anyone a better human being and the “modesty” argument doesn’t wash; if you wear outlandish clothes, whether it’s a face-veil or fancy dress, of course people will stare.

What is this, an argument for staring? Did your mother not teach you any manners? A veil isn’t a “fancy dress” costume. Not even in not-so-great Britain, anymore.

And how do you know it’s only about “modesty”? You don’t. It may in fact be a statement about nationality or tribal allegiances, not religious belief or a fear of sexual assault. Different women from different regions wear different headgear to say “this is where I come from”. More on this later.

Nor does the niqab discourage violence; evidence from Egypt suggests that veiled women are slightly more likely to suffer sexual harassment, probably because men regard them as easier targets than women in Western clothes. Does anyone seriously believe that women are safer in Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran, where most women wear the veil (many of them against their will) in one form or another? Wearing the niqab or the burqa is self-defeating, exposing women and girls to more oppression rather than less.

Well, isn’t this a hot mess? I’ll gladly concede that there is no article of clothing that will ever really discourage sexual harassment, assault or violence. But the other side of this coin is that removing a veil just because it offends your delicate British sensibilities won’t make those women any safer, either. The only thing that will work is educating the men. And by that, I mean ALL men.

Plus, women in Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran don’t wear niqabs. Iraq is largely secular, and the women there usually wear either a hijab (which shows the face) or no veil at all. Afghanistan? Well, the burqa (which is even more concealing than a niqab, seeing as it has a mesh panel to cover the eyes) has been in fashion ever since we in the “enlightened” west (or at least, Ronald Fucking Reagan) saw fit to help them defeat godless communism by sending in the “Arab-Afghan mujahideen”, otherwise known as al-Qaida. Before that, Afghan women tended to dress a lot more like us:

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As for Iran, they wear the chador there; again, a veil that leaves the face uncovered. And it’s not strictly required of all women, only those who are Shia Muslim.

Oh here, have this handy guide to all the different veils worn by women you know nothing about. Maybe it will help you to stop embarrassing yourself with this ignorant blather.

Where I think the state is entitled to intervene is when a woman’s decision to cover has negative consequences on others, including her daughters; face-covering should never be a component of school uniform, let alone compulsory. Then there’s the example of a courtroom: when someone is giving evidence, she should be subject to exactly the same rules as the rest of us. Vulnerable witnesses need to have their identities protected but as a general rule the judge, jury, defence and prosecution should be able to see witnesses’ faces. I wouldn’t expect to be allowed to appear in court in a balaclava, and the public good of open justice takes precedence over demands for special treatment on religious grounds.

I fail to see what “harm” it does to cover one’s face in public, or in a court of law. Where in the rules of evidence does it say that one must be bare-faced? This “pro-equality” argument is bullshit on the face of it (pun intended).

As for the NHS, I’m aghast at the prospect of being treated by a health professional in a niqab. Patients often have to discuss intimate matters with GPs and nurse-practitioners, from sexual health to domestic violence. If someone doesn’t trust me enough to let me see her face, I’m hardly going to feel comfortable about her carrying out an intimate procedure such as a cervical smear. Nor is it easy to imagine a man discussing the symptoms of prostate cancer with a health professional whose idea of “modesty” doesn’t allow her to expose her nose.

Well, Joan, if you’re so offended by veiled doctors or nurses, don’t use the NHS, then! Take your prejudices private, if they’re so important to you. You’re making an awful lot of assumptions about the hypothetical practitioner’s motive for wearing the veil. Have you ever actually been treated by somebody wearing one? And if so, has it impaired her ability to help you in any way? If not, you have no business complaining.

At one level, it’s hard to believe we’re having this debate.

I quite agree. But since you insisted on yattering ignorantly on about it, there you go. You got yourself a debate, lady! And you’re losing to cold hard fact. Sucks to be you.

Human rights law is clear about the right to manifest religion but it isn’t an absolute right, and can be limited when it conflicts with the rights of others.

Such as…your “right” not to have someone else’s Muslim-ness visible to your virgin eyes? That’s not a right, that’s a privilege. And your column reeks of it. Get over yourself, Joan.

The demand by a small number of Muslim women to cover their faces in all circumstances clearly impacts on the rights of others, and requires a robust response.

No, it doesn’t. And no, it doesn’t.

Secularism is not about forced suppression of religion, or at least it wasn’t the last time I looked. But hey. If a piece of fabric is really so offensive, Joan, maybe you should move to Québec. They just instituted a “Charter of Values” there that has a strangely subjective definition of secularism that, I suspect, would fall right in line with yours.

Never forget.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

I will come back from the burning desert
and come out of the woods and the lakes
and I will evoke, on a mountain in Santiago,
my brothers and sisters who died before.

I, united to those who do much and little,
to those who want a free country,
will fire the first bullets
sooner rather than later, without rest.

The books will come back, the songs
which murderers’ hands burned.
My people will be reborn from their ruin
and pay back their faults to the traitors.

A boy will play on a tree-lined street
and sing to his new friends,
and this song will be the song of the soil
to a life cut short in La Moneda.

I will walk the streets again
in what was bloodied Santiago,
and in a beautiful liberated square
I will stop to weep for the absent.

40 years ago today, 9-11 came to Chile with gunshots and a roar of jets over the presidential palace, La Moneda. The coup was launched from Viña del Mar, on the coast, with CIA and US military “assistance” to the fascist troops of Pinochet. But really, it was Pinochet and Co. helping the US in the end, using Chile as a laboratory for libertarian cuckoo economics enforced by fascism.

The idea that libertarianism is actually a form of fascism may be anathema to those who still naïvely and quaintly assume that it’s all about personal and economic freedom, but the facts are that Chile was on a true course toward freedom under the democratic socialist, Salvador Allende (the “life cut short in La Moneda”), and certain powers-that-be (and still are) in the United States of Amnesia couldn’t have that. There was dire talk of “ruin”, and of course, Milton Freedman’s “Chicago Boys” were only too happy to ruin the Chilean economy ahead of the coup — and destroy it utterly thereafter. THEY reduced it to the irreparable state it is still in today. Chileans cannot forget 9-11, because that is the day their democracy died, and they have yet to get it — and their sovereignty — all the way back.

If you wonder why the OTHER 9-11, the one the US is commemorating today, happened…this might just be a clue. It’s the imperialism, stupid. Other countries want to be free to make their own decisions, and other people deeply resent it when US-trained “experts” parachute in to fuck it all up on them. The OTHER 9-11, the one that happened in 2001, is the blowback from US interference in Afghanistan and the Middle East. What’s truly insane is that it’s still being used to justify wars in countries that have nothing to do with that day at all; the latest to get blamed is Syria, which is still on the warmongers’ radar. After all, there is still that arch-capitalist military-industrial complex to feed. And fascism is nothing but capitalism minus gloves…

It’s just like some people have never learned the lessons of history, isn’t it?

Daniel Cohn-Bendit and the German Greens’ pedophile problem

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“I stand for sex with children! How about you?”

Meet Daniel Cohn-Bendit. He’s a long-standing, high-ranking member of the German Green Party, as well as the Green faction chief in the Europarliament. And he’s also a major component of its Achilles’ heel: the pedophile contingent, which during the 1970s and ’80s was active in trying to wipe out two paragraphs of German criminal law, specifically those dealing with “sex” between adults and children. You’ll notice I put the word in quotation marks. There’s a good reason for that. You’ll see it soon enough, if you don’t already. Meanwhile, let’s talk a bit more about Herr Cohn-Bendit and the ever-spreading toxic stain he is.

For the past week or so there’s been hard talk about bombing Syria. Bashar al-Assad stands accused of using sarin gas on his own people. Evidence now points to the so-called Syrian rebels, who have al-Qaida ties and are financed and armed by the Saudis and the US. They are a most unsavory bunch. But since Bashar is the designated scapegoat in certain pro-war circles, that’s all been swept under the rug. And in a twist of very strange irony, one of those sweepers is Daniel Cohn-Bendit, who gave an interview to Der Spiegel in which he too beats the war drums, and rails against the “cheap anti-Americanism” of those opposed. It’s not the first time he’s done so, either; right there in the first lines of the interview, Cohn-Bendit shows himself to be the greenest warhawk in Germany:

SPIEGEL ONLINE: You were the first Green to call for western military action in the Yugoslavian war [over Kosovo]. Now the Syrian dictator, Assad, has very probably used chemical weapons against his own people. Can the west take that without a military response?

Cohn-Bendit: Assad has overstepped a symbolic boundary. That has to be avenged. But the reaction of the west must be embedded in a political strategy.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Are you against a punitive action that shows Assad that he has overstepped a red line?

Cohn-Bendit: A punitive action without political strategy would be wrong. But the west has to mobilize militarily. As a prerequisite — either for a military strike or to force a cease-fire and end the bloodshed.

SPIEGEL ONLINE: Should Germany also take part in that militarily?

Cohn-Bendit: Yes, the federal government should participate in preparation for a military action with other EU countries.

Translation mine.

I find his phraseology extremely interesting: “overstepped a symbolic boundary”. They accuse Assad of genocide without concrete proof (and the hard evidence, embarrassingly, points the other way), so of course the boundary is merely “symbolic”. Meanwhile, in his own past, Daniel Cohn-Bendit repeatedly overstepped a very real boundary, and remains unpunished for it to this day.

“When a little girl of five or five and a half years old starts to undress you, that’s fantastic. It’s fantastic because it’s a game, an absolutely erotic-manic game.”

With this sentence on a French talk show in 1982, Daniel Cohn-Bendit wanted to provoke the public, in order to stand in the light he regarded so highly, that of the taboo-breaker. He didn’t quite succeed. None of the other guests in the program reacted with any recognizable upset, no one wanted to rein in the chubby-cheeked thug. Even in the press you never read any critical commentaries afterward. The public reacted quite similarly seven years before on the stunning, meanwhile famous-infamous passages from Cohn-Bendit’s “Le Grand Bazar” — not at all.

And why? Among French intellectuals, calls for punishment-free sex with children and adolescents fell on fertile ground. It was “another time”, as Le Monde wrote, somewhat shamefacedly, years later. Eve this reputable paper gave considerable leeway in the 1970s to the pedophilic circles, while the left-republican Libération attested to a “genuine social mission” in sex with children, as historian Anne-Claude Ambroise-Rendu noted in retrospect.

When, in January 1977, three men were facing trial over charges of sexual crimes against 13- and 14-year old children, various intellectuals, including Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, Louis Aragon, Catherine Millet, André Glucksmann, Jack Lang, and Sarkozy’s future foreign minister, Bernard Kouchner, declared solidarity with them. That was just “the times”, and thus, Cohn-Bendit too is trying to exculpate his then declarations: “The sexual debate knew nothing of sexual abuse.” The sexual-freedom impetus sailed in the years after 1968 in the lee of disappointment over the missing political revolution. So the prophets of fundamental change settled on self-reform, on pedagogy, on the emancipation of individuals from the pressures of a bygone, clerical and bigotry-soured class society. That was the jargon of the day. As always in times of deep political disappointment, the hopes fell on the not-yet-corrupted mindset of youth, now even that of children. Pedophilic affection advanced in the ferment of everyday upheaval, coexistence, and liberating love. So it was in France. Thus they experienced it, most particularly, in the Netherlands. And thus did a part of the German “New Left” also develop.

Translation mine.

Here’s the interview (not embeddable, sorry), in French with German subtitles, where Cohn-Bendit raves to his host, Paul Guth, about sex with children. He sounds pretty stoned, which stands to reason; he also brags that he ate hash brownies a short time before he went on air. (The Greens were also in favor of legalizing soft drugs.) Apparently the dope not only loosened his tongue, it got him to proudly reveal things most people would keep a deathly silence about, even if they were not personally ashamed of having done them. That is, most people who’ve actually perpetrated child sexual abuse. Not he! He seems to revel in having done not only that, but in bragging about it.

But here’s the thing: This man truly doesn’t see that what he did there WAS abuse, just because no physical force was involved. His definition of what’s abusive is remarkably narrow, and takes no account of what happens years down the line, when sexually abused children become emotionally disturbed adults. So convinced is he that what he did was not wrong that he even tried to get the laws against it struck off the books in the name of the Sexual Revolution.

And for a while there, it looked as if Germany might go his way. Alice Schwarzer, editor-in-chief and publisher of EMMA, Germany’s leading feminist magazine, knows the dark side of Daniel Cohn-Bendit all too well. She has been watching him and his ilk for decades now, presciently warning of the dangers of their plans, and she recounts:

It was the Greens who, at their second party congress in 1980, were already debating the striking-down of Paragraph 176, which levied punishment for sex with children under 14 years of age, as well as that of Paragraph 174, against sexual abuse of minor wards of the state.

[…]

On the basis of §176, which punished child sexual abuse with up to 10 years’ imprisonment, according to Der Spiegel, some 20-25,000 perpetrators a year were sentenced. Considering that this is just the tip of the iceberg — because most child victims are too confused, intimidated or dependent to fight back — then you get an idea of the magnitude of the crime.

Even non-pedophilic men — that is, those whose desire is not compulsively fixated on prepubescent children — were already frequenting the “kiddie stroll” of Zoo Station [in Berlin], or flying to Thailand or Mexico, in order to buy children even more cheaply there. The women at home had become just too inconvenient — and the children were not so available anymore.

Translation mine.

I caught the tail end of those “revolutionary” but in fact counter-revolutionary times when I started reading grown-up German magazines around age 12 or so. I even read Christiane F.’s now famous “Wir Kinder vom Bahnhof Zoo” (“We Children of Zoo Station”), a firsthand account of teenage prostitution and heroin addiction on the streets of West Berlin, published in two parts in the magazine Stern. (It was later republished in book form.) It was a harrowing read. A lot of the words were unfamiliar to me, but the meaning was clear enough. I was appalled that anyone would do such things to helpless children, especially girls not much older than I was. If I ever had to credit any cautionary tale with keeping me off drugs and out of trouble, that’s the one. (Amazingly, Christiane F. is still alive, and in 2008 she gave this interview at age 45. This despite a decades-long battle with addiction and HIV. She finally got off heroin in 1993, and she has a teenage son whom she credits with giving her the strength to do so. My hat is off to her; she is a survivor in the fullest sense of the word.)

The idea that anyone would want to normalize and legalize sex, and specifically commercialized sex, with children of any age, is appalling. The realization that more than one prominent German Green who did advocate for just that is still on the loose and sitting in the Europarliament? Disgusting. And the fact that this monster is squatting there, beating the drums for war against Syria? Well, let’s just say that even I don’t have a bad enough word for it in my extensive vocabulary. In no sense does Daniel Cohn-Bendit have any moral right to condemn other countries or their politicians. What he’s done in Germany, and to Germany, is bad enough without him dragging the country into yet another horrific war. And if the Greens care about being electable, they’d do well to jettison him…and all his fellow Old Greens who beat the drums for legalized pedophilia, back in “another time”.

A few random thoughts on the Manning verdict…and the Snowden case

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“I’ve been traumatized too much by reality to care about the consequences of shattering the fantasy.”
— Bradley Manning

It was a farce.

Really, what other conclusion can I draw when a military judge decides that Bradley Manning was not guilty of “aiding the enemy”, but still guilty on all counts of “espionage”? What is espionage if you’re not spying FOR someone — in other words, aiding an enemy? Such is the cognitive dissonance that seems to have taken hold of Col. Denise Lind, who presided over this utterly ludicrous case.

Of course, there were plenty of irregularities from the moment Manning was arrested. He was locked up in solitary confinement, physically tortured without striking a blow, and psychologically tortured using every technique in the book (and probably quite a few NOT in the book, too). The skinny little soldier was forced to “sleep” naked under a single rough blanket on chilly nights, and everything that could be done to break him down, mentally and physically, in the more than one thousand days between his arrest and his trial, was done without shame or compunction.

But even before that, Bradley Manning was tortured and tormented by the military and by his country. He was uncommonly bright in a land where averageness and anonymity are the standards. He didn’t conform to “masculine” norms. He came out as gay while DADT was still in effect. His small physical size didn’t help; it intensified his suffering. His barrackmates ragged him so relentlessly that on one occasion, he wet himself out of sheer emotional distress. His relationship with his boyfriend was fraught with long absences and infidelities, so there wasn’t enough support for him to draw strength from. His family were also far less supportive than they could have been. But when you come from Oklahoma — “the buckle of the Bible Belt” — it stands to reason that others will close ranks against you if you diverge in any way from the strict white, heterosexual, Christian norm. Isolation tormented Bradley Manning long before he ever landed up in the brig.

Thus, it’s no surprise that when he saw all the appalling things his own country’s military was doing, in Iraq and elsewhere, something in him just snapped.

Or maybe a better way of putting it would be that something in him just clicked.

Bradley Manning made the connections between his own suffering and that of the innocent Iraqis killed in the Collateral Murder video. He also made the connections between the sufferings of other countries and the skulduggeries of US diplomats and military attachés — CIA employees, actually — operating in them. All of it came together for him in a heap, and that is exactly how he dealt with it, burning all the incriminating data onto what had been a Lady Gaga CD and then sending it off to Wikileaks. As anguished and tormented as Bradley Manning was over just about everything, his mind was nonetheless clear enough to devise a clever, innovative and definitive solution to the entire mess: He became a whistleblower.

Certainly he exposed a lot of “classified” information that embarrassed and incriminated his government in every conceivable way. But there is a difference between revealing state secrets for the purpose of exposing state crimes, and espionage, which implies a direct advantage to a foreign (and enemy) power. What “enemy” benefited from all this previously secret knowledge? None, since all the damage in the leaked cables and Collateral Murder video had long been done. No US troops in any part of the world were exposed to enemy fire as a result of Bradley Manning’s revelations. No diplomatic installation came under attack either, and neither was a single US business interest placed in immediate jeopardy. Nothing terrible that the US was doing in any part of the world was at any greater risk than it already had been. The only thing that changed as a result of Manning’s “espionage” was that suddenly, all the betrayed, cheated and humiliated countries ever pissed on by US interests had documentary proof of their oppression in hand. Suddenly, what their ordinary citizens knew in their bones — and their politicians often railed against — was confirmed. Their one real enemy was exposed, and it was good old “benevolent” Uncle Sam. The troops who tossed candy to local kids from their tanks, the briefcase-toters of the IMF and World Bank, the suit-clad bringers of Coke and Marlboro and what have you — these smiling pretend-friends were the real enemy. They weren’t there to give the Third World — or the Second, or even the rest of the First — an equalizing hand up. They were there to crush them, to subject them to an undying US capitalist hegemony. All the resources and wealth that could be sucked out of any place you could name, would end up in one and the same place, while local miseries deepened and the call for more “foreign aid” intensified. It was the sweetest scam ever, the ultimate vicious circle, and it seemed manifestly destined to keep turning forever. E pluribus unum, with a vengeance.

And then little Bradley Manning came along and threw a monkey wrench into the wheel.

And the Star Chamber of the US military called it espionage, convicted him, and will sentence him — not to death, as that would provoke too much outcry at home, but to over a century in prison. Which amounts to life without parole, unless some future president sees fit to pardon him.

But who would have the wisdom, or the courage, to do that, if the US government is already firmly in the pocket of not only the Military-Industrial Complex, but all major industries? Under capitalism, democracy is but a mask, a pacifier, a means of keeping the people powerless while selling them the illusion of “empowerment”. There is no such thing as a government by, of and for the people. There is only a government by, of and for the money. And the consumer selection, as far as candidates goes, is dismal. Will it be Fascism, or Fascism Lite? Sorry, no substitutions. You cannot have democracy, nor can you have justice. All courts are kangaroo, and all trials are show. The nail that sticks up gets hammered down. Forever and ever, amen.

Which brings me to Edward Snowden. This is the same thing that awaits him, albeit in civilian form, should the former NSA employee ever decide to return to the United States of Amnesia. One can’t really blame him for deciding to stick it out in Russia for the time being, even to the extent of learning the language. When the former Soviet Union is a greater bastion of freedom than one’s own country (which still brashly prints “Liberty” on all its coins!), you know you’re dealing with a world that has gone through the Looking Glass. Up is down, black is white, wrong is right, day is night, truth is shite. When the “freedom-loving” capitalists have the old “communist” Stasi beat for internal espionage, what else can an agent do who has seen it from within, and decided that he’s had enough?

Oh sure, the US government has promised not to execute him. Just as they won’t execute Bradley Manning. I’m sure that’s a great comfort to everyone, knowing that he’ll still face the torments of the damned if he ever falls back into US hands. Just like Bradley Manning did when he was captured. How many days do you suppose Edward Snowden would go untried after he is captured? Place your bets, ladies ‘n’ gentlemen…I’m going to wager at least 1,000.

And if you don’t think he’s going to suffer crazy-making levels of scrutiny and intrusion into his private life, just look at how much of that has already happened, and then multiply it by the number of days he spends in jail before trial. It happened to Daniel Ellsberg, whose sessions with his shrink weren’t even off limits, 40-odd years ago. It happened to Bradley Manning.

And there is a reason why these guys are being treated this way: They are meant as examples to the rest of us. The message is this: Don’t protest. Don’t blow the whistle. Don’t you dare complain, or expose what you know, or terrible things will befall you. Be good, be compliant, keep your head down, and be thankful it hasn’t happened to you…YET.

But that’s the reason these guys blew the whistle: It could happen to all of us, someday, if things continue in this way. Ellsberg leaked the Pentagon Papers because young men were being sent to unwinnable wars willy-nilly, and he wanted that to stop. Bradley Manning leaked Collateral Murder because innocent Iraqis were being killed in cold blood by psychopaths in helicopters who probably got medals for their contract hit-man jobs. And he wanted that to stop. Edward Snowden leaked the NSA’s long-standing cyberspying program because it affects every Internet user, everywhere, and effectively robs us all of our last vestige of online privacy…and by extension, safety and mental security. It doesn’t just target criminals or terror supsects; it targets EVERYONE, treating everyone as a potential criminal. And he wanted that to stop.

All that any whistleblower anywhere wants, is for “that” to stop. But it won’t stop unless we all work together to make it stop. We can no longer afford the luxury of complacency, of leaving the fantasy of “liberty” in place while ignoring the crushing reality of oppression. The plutocratic purveyors of the fantasy would rather we be too apathetic, too overworked, and too scared to protest. But in the past, downtrodden, overworked, scared people still marched, sat in, and freedom-rode for civil rights. Women died and went to prison for the vote. Soldiers, sailors and air-force pilots banded together with civilians to stop the Vietnam war. Individual whistleblowers are easy to isolate, persecute and make into negative examples, but mass protest means that the authorities are outnumbered.

We already know what to do about all this. The only question is, WHEN?

Clip ‘n’ Save: Why are we in Afghanistan?

RED ALERT: International fascists to meet in Argentina

warning-fascism

From Aporrea, a denunciation of what are sure to be nasty things to come:

Our editorial desk has received a denunciation and alert regarding a no-good meeting which will take place in two Argentine cities, and which will involve the most reactionary right-wingers from this zone and from Spain. The alert reads as follows:

MEETING OF REACTIONARIES AND PUTSCHISTS

Between April 8 and 12, the cities of Rosario and Buenos Aires will once again receive visitors who are personae non gratae to those of us who think, work and yearn for the emancipation of the peoples of Latin America and the Caribbean.

The oft-repeated names of the international right-wing, which will reunite the biggest exponents of anti-Cuban and anti-Bolivarian discourse, will come together in our land to attack the Media Law, Latin American unity, and the popular political experiences taking place in the region.

The Peruvians, Mario and Alvaro Vargas Llosa (publicists of neoliberalism and fierce opponents of every form of popular power); the Spaniards, José María Aznar (ex-president, supporter of the invasion of Iraq and the coup d’état against Chávez in April 2002) and Esperanza Aguirre (president of the fascist Partido Popular in Madrid); the Chileans, Joaquín Lavín (Pinochet’s dauphin) and Cristian Larroulet (secretary-general to Sebastián Piñera); the Uruguayan, Luis Alberto Lacalle (ex-president); the Bolivian, Jorge Quiroga (ex-president, accused of narcotrafficking and violations of human rights, opponent of Evo Morales); the Venezuelans, Marcel Granier (president of the TV channel RCTV, supported and pushed for the coup against Chávez in 2002, which was the reason why five years later he did not receive a licence renewal for the station) and María Corina Machado (deputy of the Venezuelan national assembly, opposition putschist); Carlos Alberto Montaner (Cuban-American writer, linked for decades to the CIA), as well as the Cuban, Yoani Sánchez, agent recruited to serve the interests of the United states under the guise of an innocent blogger, whom Wikileaks has singled out for her close relations with US diplomats in Cuba, as well as being regional vice-president of the IAPA (an organization of newspaper owners with headquarters in Miami). All of these sinister personages have been convoked by the Freedom Foundation (created in Rosario in 1988 by a group of businessmen, professionals and intellectuals, all fierce defenders of neoliberalism), the Fundación Pensar (“Idea factory of the PRO”, as the Macri supporters call it) and FAES (created in 1989 and closely linked to the right-wing Partido Popular of Spain.)

These undesirable visitors will come to vomit their fiercely McCarthyite discourse, support the criminal blockade against the people of Cuba, defame once more the revolutionary and dignified trajectory of the recently deceased Comandante Hugo Chávez Frías, plot against the governments who belong to the ALBA, denounce the “politicization” of UNASUR and CELAC, and go on recommending the neoliberal economic formulae dictated by the IMF, which are starving our people and leading Europe off a cliff, and justifying the political, economic and military offensive which imperialism continues to develop all over the continent.

Regarding Argentina, they will not miss the opportunity to rail against the Media Law, in defence of the corporate policies and postulates of the press owners’ syndicate which is the IAPA, and to support the proposals of the right-wing oligarchy headed by the Rural Society and their partners of the PRO.

Joining these sordid visitors and their continent-destabilizing preachments, is a star of conspiratory entrapment, launched by the US State Department and the CIA for their media operations against Cuba, the blogger Yoani Sánchez. With her and her defamatory discourse on Cuban reality and the incontestable achievements of the Cuban Socialist Revolution, they will try to close the circle of lies, insults, provocations and threats thrown by these discredited prophets of intolerance.

In the face of this meeting of the international right wing and their local hosts from the Argentine right wing, we the undersigned:

— Repudiate the presence of these lugubrious messengers of capitalism and their destructive politics against the people and nations of Latin America and the Caribbean

— Denounce the campaign of siege and destabilization which this group of individuals and the entities they represent (and who finance them) come to visit with impunity upon the governments and peoples of the continent who have opted for an independent, progressive and confrontational course against the interventionist politics of the United States and their European allies

— Extend our solidarity to those who, for having denounced terrorist plans against Cuba organized by the mafias of Miami, are today unjustly imprisoned in the United States, as is the case with the five Cuban patriots, political prisoners in the US for more than 14 years

— Advocate for a deeper integration of Latin America, and for extending emancipatory proposals to all the countries of the continent

— Call upon the citizenry to close ranks in order to prevent the campaigns we have denounced here from developing with impunity. For this, the best recourse the people have is their mobilization and organzation, along with their growing awareness, to head off at the pass those who are trying to drag us back to the hell of neoliberalism and submission to the dictates of North American imperialism.

Translation mine.

The denunciation comes courtesy of an Argentine committee in support of the Cuban Five, who are no doubt following all of these lugubrious (I love that word!) imperialists. Watch this space come April 8-12, kiddies, I’ll be following them too.

Iraq, ten years later: Rumsfeld edition

I don’t know if Rummy tweeted this himself, or if he had a flunkie do it for him. But I rather hope he did it himself, just to see the outpouring of, er, AFFECTION that followed:

rummy-10-yrs-later

The Petraeus scandal widens

Meet another possible participant in the Petraeus affair…one whose strange behavior came to light in the course of the FBI’s investigation into some other strange behavior:

US general John Allen, chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, is being investigated for sending “inappropriate” e-mails to Jill Kelley, the same woman who received threatening messages from Paula Broadwell, the alleged mistress of ex-CIA chief David Petraeus, according to sources at the Pentagon.

This revelation comes a few hours after FBI agents searched Broadwell’s home. Petraeus had to step down due to his extramarital affair. Now the Petraeus scandal has touched the man who was to be chief of the NATO mission in Afghanistan, who was found in the course of the investigation to have exchanged numerous e-mails with Jill Kelley, described as a family friend of Petraeus.

General John Allen, 58, was assigned to the supreme command of the allied forces in Afghanistan starting next spring. Allen was to appear at a Senate confirmation hearing on Thursday, but the White House has suspended his nomination.

The investigation has been confirmed by the US Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, who announced early Tuesday morning on board a flight to Perth, Australia, that he ordered the investigation of the US’s troops in Afghanistan, and that the inspector general of the Pentagon was going through some 20,000 to 30,000 pages of documents, many of them e-mails, according to the New York Times.

Panetta read a communication to the journalists who were also travelling with him to the Australia-US summit, stating that he had been informed by the FBI on Sunday of the investigations surrounding the general and his relations with the woman said to be a victim of cyber-stalking by General Petraeus’s biographer-mistress.

Asked by reporters whether the FBI had decided upon a criminal investigation, the defence secretary said that “that will be up to the FBI to decide”, although he didn’t rule out a possible connection to the Petraeus scandal.

Panetta said that the general, who, like Jill Kelley, is married, denied having behaved inappropriately, and added that he “deserves due process”, also emphasizing his successful leadership in the Afghan war.

Meanwhile, at 9:00 p.m. on Monday, a group of FBI agents entered the home of Paula Broadwell in Charlotte, North Carolina. They inspected the home over the course of two hours, then left the premises without recording any of what had transpired during the search.

The scandal blew open when the FBI began to investigate some menacing e-mails allegedly sent by Broadwell to Jill Kelley, a Washington socialite and family friend of Petraeus.

Kelley and her husband, Scott, sent out a press release stating that they have been friends of the Petraeus family for the past five years, and asking that their privacy be respected. Sources of CNN described Kelley as an “innocent victim”. After the scandal broke, Petraeus was forced on Friday to go before the media to acknowledge that he had had a love affair with Broadwell, a 40-year old “journalist” who had written his biography, and to tender his resignation.

Translation mine.

Suddenly, we have a pretty good idea of why Jill Kelley lawyered up with a very high-powered attorney yesterday. I guess this answers Gawker’s question! If Jill Kelley has been carrying on with a general — not Petraeus, but another commander in the Afghan war, this one much more recent, and tapped to head the entire NATO mission come next spring — it would explain a lot. There is a lot more at stake here than just some titillating extramarital hanky-panky; we are now looking at more than one possible very high-level national security breach. At the very least, this means two generals will be under investigation, and an exhaustive search of their e-mail correspondence, both personal and professional, is in order. Might as well inspect them all, say I…and do a radical rethink of why the CIA and the US military have so much power to begin with, while you’re at it. All this military hagiography is surely NOT good for the country.

Now, the only thing I still wonder is who was the FBI agent who sent shirtless pics of himself to the glamorous Mrs. Kelley, who looks like she could be a cousin of the Kardashians (albeit a much more tastefully dressed one.) Josh Marshall says he makes Petraeus look like the sanest of the bunch, and I’m inclined to agree. Hey, who’s to say we can’t enjoy the theatricality of this whole spy circus a bit? There’s gonna be plenty of serious shit surrounding the Benghazi débâcle before long. Might as well enjoy the comic relief while we can get it, kiddies…

PS: The plot thickens. Perhaps we should call our new soap opera As the Pentagon Turns? Also, oops!

PPS: And more thickening! NPR reports that Paula Broadwell is NOT the actual author of All (Up) In (My Vagina), the hagiography of Fmr. Gen. Petraeus. That honor goes to a WaHoPo columnist, Vernon Loeb. Which begs the question: Just exactly what WAS she doing the whole time she was with the general? Clearly not just compiling research files, ha ha.

PPPS: And back to Jill Kelley. Think I should wank-list her for not understanding what “honorary” means?

A few random thoughts on a former general

I have a terrible confession to make: When the news of the Petraeus sex scandal broke this past week, my first reaction was to chuckle. Not in the usual “ha ha, another cheatypants got caught, serves him right” sense (although there was no small amount of Schadenfreude there, either); it was more out of a sardonic sense of irresistible metaphor. It was all about an irony that had been hiding, as all such ironies do, in very plain sight.

And yes, I have to admit, the embarrassment of it all tickled me, too. Aren’t intelligence agents constantly being warned about the dangers of seduction, when they’re not being instructed to use it to gain information they can’t get any other way? How delicious, then, to see the head of the world’s most feared and hated spy agency caught in the same trap his covert agents have set repeatedly, all over the world. And how hilariously ironic that the same terrorist traps the FBI keeps setting in vain, under the auspices of the so-called Patriot Act, ended up catching not some obscure cell with nefarious world-takeover plans, but a four-star general who’d at one point led the war against precisely such insurgencies. Or so we’re told by our lovely presstitutes.

After all, the former general and CIA director wasn’t just boinking some boring little bottle-blonde secretary; the Other Woman was his chief hagiographer. She was a military veteran and West Point grad herself. Just like him, she was in the business of selling neoconservatism, bad ideologies, and wars that cost a fucking fortune in every conceivable sense. She did not keep a low profile, as Other Women are wont to do. She was constantly thrusting herself into the spotlight to sing his praises (and promote her magnum opus). She was the person who spit-shined his medals to a high gloss in a “biography” that seemed to be written, at times, from straight inside his pants. There was no pretense of objectivity, only a constant, unremitting effort to elevate David Petraeus to divinity. A divinity which, even then, we peaceniks and Dirty Fucking Hippies knew he did not deserve.

But the media brushed right past us. It ignored what the former intelligence professionals were saying, too, about the BushCo wars being unwinnable. They hopped right on the pro-war bandwagon. They praised the “brilliant” strategy and lost sight of the reality on the ground. Gosh oh golly gee wow, isn’t David Petraeus wonderful? Yeah, that Iraq surge went great. So great that Iraq is now permanently fucked. Petraeus made that.

And that’s not all he made. He damn near dragged the Obama administration into yet another unwinnable neo-con war, this one with Iran. And on the flimsiest and dumbest of pretexts, too:

One person familiar with the Obama administration’s thinking said President Obama was never close to Petraeus, who was viewed as a favorite of the neoconservatives and someone who had undercut a possible solution to Iran’s nuclear program in 2011 by pushing a bizarre claim that Iranian intelligence was behind an assassination plot aimed at the Saudi ambassador to Washington.

As that case initially evolved, the White House and Justice Department were skeptical that the plot traced back to the Iranian government, but Petraeus pushed the alleged connection which was then made public in a high-profile indictment. The charges further strained relations with Iran, making a possible military confrontation more likely.

At the time, Washington Post columnist David Ignatius, a favored recipient of official CIA leaks, reported that “one big reason [top U.S. officials became convinced the plot was real] is that CIA and other intelligence agencies gathered information corroborating the informant’s juicy allegations and showing that the plot had support from the top leadership of the elite Quds Force of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps, the covert action arm of the Iranian government.”

Ignatius added that, “it was this intelligence collected in Iran” that swung the balance. But Ignatius offered no examples of what that intelligence was. Nor did Ignatius show any skepticism regarding Petraeus’s well-known hostility toward Iran and how that might have influenced the CIA’s judgment.

As it turned out, the case was based primarily on statements from an Iranian-American car dealer Mansour Arbabsiar, who clumsily tried to hire drug dealers to murder Saudi Ambassador Adel Al-Jubeir, though Arbabsiar was actually talking to a Drug Enforcement Agency informant. Arbabsiar pled guilty last month as his lawyers argued that their client suffers from a bipolar disorder. In other words, Petraeus and his CIA escalated an international crisis largely on the word of a person diagnosed by doctors of his own defense team as having a severe psychiatric disorder.

Despite the implausibility of the assassination story and the unreliability of the key source, the Washington press corps quickly accepted the Iranian assassination plot as real. That assessment reflected the continued influence of neoconservatives in Official Washington and Petraeus’s out-sized reputation among journalists.

The neocons, who directed much of President George W. Bush’s disastrous foreign policy and filled the ranks of Mitt Romney’s national security team, have favored a heightened confrontation with Iran in line with the hardline position of Israel’s Likud Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In the post-election period, it is a top neocon goal to derail Obama’s efforts to work out a peaceful settlement of the dispute over Iran’s nuclear program. The neocons favor “regime change.”

If ever there was a reason to be glad Mitt Romney lost the election, there it is. One more foreign policy disaster. Brought to you by the same PNAC/Likud faction that brought you the Afghan and Iraq catastrophes. Let’s not forget that Iran was always on the keeker; it was part of the “Axis of Evil”, remember?

Thankfully Barack Obama wasn’t dumb enough to fall for that flimsy tale. (You can see now why he was wise to end the Iraq invasion, too, can’t you? We’ll talk more about Afghanistan when he realizes it’s past time to shut that one down, too. Maybe now he’ll finally start firing all those BushCo leftovers on his team and start fresh with sane people. Hope ‘n’ change, people — get the fuck ON with it.)

Meanwhile, the same media imbeciles who were so busy promoting every highly-polished Petraeus turd that they couldn’t even look up for an instant, are in mourning. The same David Ignatius who took the Iranian lunatic’s lie and ran with it is now weeping tears of blood. Too bad he forgot something:

Ignatius adoringly adduces the following quote from Petraeus as proof of the ex-general’s acute vision: “As I see it, strategic leadership is fundamentally about big ideas, and, in particular, about four tasks connected with big ideas. First, of course, you have to get the big ideas right — you have to determine the right overarching concepts and intellectual underpinnings to accomplish your organization’s mission.

“Second, you have to communicate the big ideas effectively through the breadth and depth of the organization. Third, you have to oversee the implementation of the big ideas. And fourth, and finally, you have to capture lessons from the implementation of the big ideas, so that you can refine the overarching concepts and repeat the overall process.”

Got that? That’s probably right out of Petraeus’s PhD dissertation at Princeton, or from a how-to book that might be called “Management Rhetoric for Dummies.”

If only Petraeus and his colleague generals remembered the smaller – but far more relevant – ideas inculcated in all of us Army officers in Infantry School at Fort Benning in the early Sixties. This is what I recall from memory regarding what an infantry officer needed to do before launching an operation – big or small – division or squad size.

Corny (and gratuitous) as it may sound, we were taught that the absolute requirement was to do an “Estimate of the Situation” that included the following key factors: Enemy strength, numbers and weapons; Enemy disposition, where are they?; Terrain; Weather; and Lines of communication and supply (LOCS). In other words, we were trained to take into account those “little ideas,” like facts and feasibility that, if ignored, could turn the “big ideas” into a March of Folly that would get a lot of people killed for no good reason.

Could it be that they stopped teaching these fundamentals as Petraeus went through West Point and Benning several years later? Did military history no longer include the futile efforts of imperial armies to avoid falling into the “graveyard of empires” in Afghanistan?

What about those LOCS? When you can’t get there from here, is it really a good idea to send troops and armaments the length of Pakistan and then over the Hindu Kush? And does anyone know how much that kind of adventure might end up costing?

To Army officers schooled in the basics, it was VERY hard to understand why the top Army leadership persuaded President Barack Obama to double down, twice, in reinforcing troops for a fool’s errand. And let’s face it, unless you posit that the generals and the neoconservative strategic “experts” at Brookings and AEI were clueless, the doubling down was not only dumb but unconscionable.

Small wonder all the talk about “long war” and Petraeus’s glib prediction that our grandchildren will still be fighting the kind of wars in which he impressed the likes of David Ignatius.

Ike Eisenhower wasn’t kidding when he talked about the Military-Industrial Complex. And Smedley Butler wasn’t talking out his hat either when he said that war was a racket. What Ray McGovern, the veteran intel pro who opposed these wars from the outset, understands that the media doesn’t, is that wars are not won or lost on the basis of who’s got the “big ideas” and “overarching concepts”. The people on the ground don’t give a shit for those. And the locals will only see foreign invaders and oppressors, NOT Big Ideas And Overarching Concepts. They’re not stupid; they know what a foreign uniform and gun mean. Their hearts and minds are not winnable with big talk; you might as well be tossing cluster bombs to their kids as candy from the tank turrets.

The salesmanlike bullshit of Petraeus ought to be apparent even to those of us who don’t have the privilege of a West Point officer-training course. If you’ve heard similar things from some civilian in a cheap suit and dismissed it accordingly (and I have, and I bet you have too), why buy it when it comes courtesy of some big-brass guy with a folksy-shucksy grin and a chestful of medals?

Oh yeah, that’s right: the only bright spot, if you can call it that, in the Bush Recession, was that there were plenty of job opportunities for young, poor, barely-educated cannon fodder. It’s the economy, stupid! At a time when well-paying manufacturing jobs are being cut and shipped overseas to where labor is so cheap that at times it amounts to outright slavery, what’s left at home? The so-called service economy. Which is also so poorly paid that it might as well be slavery. You can’t afford rent, much less a starter home, on a McJob paycheque. So when the handsome young guys in the spiffy uniforms approach you, ever so personably, at the mall, trying to interest you in the Army/Navy/Air Force/Marines, and tell you you can get your college education and better job opportunities that way, you start to think of entering a different kind of service opportunity, one that will glorify you some day as a Veteran. Assuming that you come out alive. Would you like fries with that?

So yeah, the snickering from my corner is full of a sense of vindication. What has the whole neo-con project been, if not a vast international fuckfest replete with lies, deception, doubletalk and crapaganda? One in which the media whores focused with lover-like intensity on the well-polished turds falling from the lips of “institute” hacks and four-star generals alike, while troops on the ground were killing and dying for, well, nothing?

Ah, maybe I shouldn’t say nothing. They killed and died, committed atrocities and fell victim to atrocities, for something, all right.

They did it all for bullshit.