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‘Afghanistan veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly, they are victims of the war.’

3:41 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

For anyone thinking of enlisting, the video above is essential listening. It has the somewhat odd title of “Afghanistan veterans commit suicide from a good conscience,” but don’t let that discourage you. Partial transcript below.

Potential enlistees, don’t become a killer of people you have never met, about whom you know very little or nothing. More morality lessons here.

Hakim: Some people who hear your story may think your mind was weak; you wanted to commit suicide.

Nao Rozi: Veterans who commit suicide are not cowardly, they are victims of the war. They were persuaded to do things they didn’t want to do. Or, if they chose to do those things, don’t we sometimes regret things we’ve done, or feel ashamed? That was exactly what happened in my crisis. I felt ashamed. I regretted what I had done. … Life becomes meaningless. … You think you’ve done something such that you feel you no longer have the right to live. …

The U.S. veterans who have committed suicide had a conscience. They fought in Afghanistan and some killed or were killed. Those thoughts afflicted them day and night. I myself experienced them. When I was sleeping, I would wake up suddenly in the middle of the night shouting. It was not fear, they were nightmares. At times I slept walked. I even thought I was a murderer, though now I think I was not because I didn’t kill anyone. [But] even those who may have killed others should not keep thinking those thoughts.

Hakim: What message do you have for friends and for the world?

Nao Rozi: … How I wish that every human in the world would, just for once, sit down alone and ask, ‘What are we here for? How have we been deceived? How true to self have we been?’ These questions are important.

… I was a captive of the things I heard from society and the media, but now I am free!

Nao Rozi currently lives with and struggles for the Afghan Peace Volunteers, seeking a better life and a better world.

Obama’s Petraeus CIA Nomination: Drones Not Peace in Afghanistan/Pakistan

8:25 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

How’s that Nobel Peace Prize winner working out for us? The Washington Post writes (emphasis added):

. . . perhaps most significantly, the [CIA] is in the midst of what amounts to a sustained bombing campaign over Pakistan using unmanned Predator and Reaper drones. . . .

[CIA insiders] voiced concern that Petraeus is too wedded to the wars in Afghanistan and Iraqand the troop-heavy, counterinsurgency strategy he designed — to deliver impartial assessments of those wars as head of the CIA.

Indeed, over the past year the CIA has generally presented a more pessimistic view of the war in Afghanistan than Petraeus has while he has pushed for an extended troop buildup.

And Blue Floridian adds truth about Obama’s nomination of Petraeus that mainstream places like WaPost won’t:

. . . this means there will never be any accountability for his wrong moves in Afghanistan. Petraeus nearly single handedly destroyed any ability for the U.S. to extricate itself from Afghanistan in the very near future. And his plans did not work, are not working and are leading to the destruction of more lives and our country and their country. He is responsible and he will never be held responsible.

Yeah, let’s not let an immediate and real chance for peace stand in the way of Petraeus’s favored option, a long-term imperial occupation of (“partnership deal” with) Afghanistan (emphasis added):

The Wall Street Journal reports that in an April 16 meeting in Kabul, [Pakistan] Prime Minister Gilani told Afghan President Karzai that the U.S. had failed both Pakistan and Afghanistan and that Karzai should “forget about allowing a long-term U.S. military presence in his country.” Gilani also reportedly urged Karzai to form a long-term partnership with Pakistan and China in order to revitalize Afghanistan’s economy and negotiate a peace deal with the Taliban. Though U.S. officials have privately played down the Pakistani proposal, General Petraeus has met Karzai three times since April 16, “in part to reassure the Afghan leader that he has America’s support, and to nudge forward progress on the partnership deal.”

More on the endless warrior’s plans for Afghanistan:

Gen. David Petraeus and the Pentagon have yet to accept the notion of talks with Taliban leaders. So far they have only embraced a policy of “reintegration,” which aims at splitting and weakening the Taliban, and not “reconciliation” which means negotiating with them.

A European diplomat depicted this stance rather graphically: “the U.S. military only wants to talk with their boots on the Taliban’s neck.” This approach no longer enjoys the confidence either of the international community or of a majority of Americans. Above all the Afghans want an end to the fighting and a chance at peace.

Nobody knows whether the U.S. will leave (YES, DO IT!) because of Petraeus’s failure to effectively pacify Afghanistan or whether it will re-commit to long-term war and death. But, certainly, Obama moving Petreaus to the CIA is bad news for Afghanistan (and for Pakistan too). Pakistani defense analyst Asif Haroon Raja seems of two minds on the “will they leave or won’t they” thing in the following two paragraphs (emphasis added: how does 2024 grab ya?):

The US reinforced the Lisbon plan and extended its departure date from Afghanistan to 2014. It is now having second thoughts and is throwing feelers that it may stay up to 2024. Karzai stated in February 2011 that Washington intends to establish permanent military bases in Afghanistan. The US has for long been planning to convert Baghram in north, Kandahar in south, Shindad in west, Herat and Kabul as military bases from where Pentagon can conduct surveillance and combat operations within and outside Afghanistan. These places are being speedily fortified and modernised. The US Ambassador Cameron Munter has now stated that the US will not leave Afghanistan.

Although hardnosed hawks have softened their mulish stance to some extent, it will still require more time before they get rid of their conceited ego and start seeing the changed ground reality objectively and astutely. It may take another 1-2 years of further bloodshed before the realization sinks into their jaundiced minds that hope of victory, or forcing Taliban to agree to their conditions is illusive. Resurgence of Taliban, casualty factor, growth of psychiatric illnesses among the troops, home pressure, melting economy and growing instability in Middle East are some of the factors that have converted USA from a hunter to a hunted. This change in profile would compel occupation forces to retreat well before the given cutout time.

Yeah, okay, but mebbe defense analyst Raja doesn’t get something about 2011 USA: Jaundiced Minds Rule, BABY!

Ultimately, though, Glenn Greenwald reminds us of the big picture, that Petreaus to the CIA is a symptom but not the disease itself. Know the (emphasis added) disease, people:

The nomination of Petraeus doesn’t change much; it merely reflects how Washington is run. That George Bush’s favorite war-commanding General — who advocated for and oversaw the Surge in Iraq — is also Barack Obama’s favorite war-commanding General, and that Obama is now appointing him to run a nominally civilian agency that has been converted into an “increasingly militarized” arm of the American war-fighting state, says all one needs to know about the fully bipartisan militarization of American policy. There’s little functional difference between running America’s multiple wars as a General and running them as CIA Director because American institutions in the National Security State are all devoted to the same overarching cause: Endless War.

And still the ‘left’ nominates no one to run against Obama, currently conducting five wars in the Middle East (in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen and Pakistan). Amazing, sad, predictable ‘careering’ of Democratic Party fake leftists and fake peaceniks.

‘Afghan Resistance Frees 480 Patriots; No One Hurt’

11:25 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Finding good news while trying to avoid neo-colonial assassination and Bradley Manning guilty stories:

Taliban tunnel more than 480 out of Afghan prison
By Mirwais Khan and Heidi Vogt
Associated Press

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan – During the long Afghan winter, Taliban insurgents were apparently busy underground.

The militants say they spent more than five months building a 1,050-foot tunnel to the main prison in southern Afghanistan, bypassing government checkpoints, watch towers and concrete barriers topped with razor wire.

The diggers finally poked through Sunday and spent 4 1/2 hours ferrying away more than 480 inmates without a shot being fired, according to the Taliban and Afghan officials.

The second piece of good news is that someone in the inner circles of power, this time former Bush Jr. staffer David Frum, in Both parties abandon the jobless has broken the main mainstream taboo in our post-democracy. And, yeah Dave, it’s weird:

The recovery is weak, and job creation is slow. Everybody knows that. But here’s something that we don’t know, or anyway don’t think about enough: Isn’t it weird that in this dismal economic situation, neither of the two great U.S. political parties is offering a plan to do anything about the job situation?

(hip tat to dakine01)

P.S. Colin Crouch originated the post-democracy concept. Here is Nick Anstead’s quick summary:

… In the early years of the century, the manual working class was lauded as the dominant class of the future.  According to Crouch, this prediction reached fruition in the years immediately after the second world war, when the working class, coupled with fellow travelers in the middle and upper classes, were able to construct an electorally dominant political coalition.  This led to the creation of modern welfare states, a focus on employment as the primary economic objective of government and the adoption of Keynesian economic policies.  However this dominance proved to be short-lived, as the manual industries that had fostered working class identity declined.  … 

Parties of the left, who could no longer rely on the electoral power of the working class to propel them to power, had to adjust to a world where voter identities were far less clearly defined.  Furthermore, de-aligned voters proved to be far more fickle than those in their parents’ generation, and were willing to move their vote from one party to the other.  They tended not to join political parties; they consumed politics, but did not partake in it.  In order to win and retain their support, parties moved away from any kind of substantive ideological discourse, promising both lower taxes and better public services.  Additionally, parties stressed valence issues (that is questions of management and efficiency where there is no major partisan distinction, only claims that “it can be done better”) as well as non-economic political issues, such as crime and immigration.  These messages were conveyed in soundbite format to cope with the decreased interest and political attention span of the electorate.    

This observation become especially significant when coupled with the Crouch’s second point, a critique of neo-liberal economic thought.  The architects of this approach, such as Friedrich Von Hayek and Milton Friedman, made two claims.  Firstly, that markets were far more efficient at the allocation of resources than other methods.  Secondly, that human nature, embodied in the profit maximizing firm and micro side of a market, would guarantee the efficiency of the macro element of the system.  These assumptions, however, present a problem when coupled with the circumstances of modern electoral politics.  The two neo-liberal assumptions can, in certain circumstances, be at odds with each other.  In short what would rational human beings do if profit maximization did not not occur through the efficient allocation of resources, but instead through the development and use of political influence?  In the middle years of the twentieth century, the electorate acted as a powerful counterbalance to the corporate interests.  However, in the post-industrial environment, weak relationship between parties and the electorate has left a huge vacuum at the heart of politics; a vacuum that can be exploited by corporate interests. 

… Crouch argues that the inevitable conclusion of his first two observations is a political system that is returning to a form of democracy that is more akin to the late nineteenth century than the democracy of the middle years of the twentieth century.  In other words, whilst many of mechanisms and institutions and democracy exist, power is, in actuality, focused in the hands of a narrow elite.

Terry Jones’s Effective Anti-War Activism

10:42 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

Not that it’s saying much, but Terry Jones’ Koran-burning is the most effective anti-war activism in years. And with the ‘antiwar left’ politically and morally dead during the Obama years, it may be time for antiwarriors to join him and burn a few Korans. Okay, I admit, I wouldn’t do so unless I could egalitarianly throw Bibles and Mormon underpants into my ‘GET OUT NOW!’ blaze. But if it helps get us out of the Afghan-killing business, who’s to challenge such an act on moral grounds?

Let’s face it, when has a leftist march by A.N.S.W.E.R., or whatever stripped-of-Democratic-Party-affiliated-groups coalition is handling antiwar activism these days, ever inspired a ‘serious security challenge’ comment from King David Petreaus?

A recent Florida church’s burning of the Quran has created an “additional serious security challenge” in Afghanistan, warns Gen. David Petraeus, the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan. . . .

Petraeus, in a Sunday interview with the Wall Street Journal, warned that the threat posed to operations in Afghanistan by inciting anger among the masses was very real.

“Every security force leader’s worst nightmare is being confronted by essentially a mob, if you will, especially one that can be influenced by individuals that want to incite violence, who want to try to hijack passions, in this case, perhaps understandable passions,” he told the Wall Street Journal. “Obviously it’s an additional serious security challenge in a country that faces considerable security challenges.”

Here’s what the King David quotes mean: Jones has made it harder for the U.S. the UN, and NATO to fight and kill Afghans, in our multi-generational alleged effort to ‘reform’ and nurture Afghanistan (which since 2008 has been the world’s leading recipient of official development assistance) into a country that will someday be all grown up and mature, one we can get into a good college and be proud of. Or whatever.

Jones has exposed – with an assist from angry Muslim mobs – the stupidity and futility of that messy effort, still the best semi-and-official reason the West can come up with for why, uninvited, it is occupying and generally screwing around with Afghanistan. I know, I know, the UN-centered effort, treating Afghanistan as if it were a Western infant rather than a mature but extremely non-Western civilization, is not the real reason we are in Afghanistan (that would be economic imperialism, of course). But it _is_ apparently the reason most of us Americans have been sold and have bought for why ‘we’ (including the UN) are there. That makes the ostensible reason an important target for antiwar activism.

In sum, Terry Jones has highlighted how spectacularly hopeless Afghanistan is as a potentially ‘Western’ country. And he has put the Afghanistan occupation back in the headlines, and inspired many, mainly on the right, to say stuff like the following:

We need to stop tiptoeing around the problem already, get out of these Islamic cesspools like Afghanistan and Iraq, and let them go ahead and kill each other.

The ugly anti-Islam basis of the typical (not every) right-wing ‘get out of [fill in blank]’ is wrong, but not the endpoint. It has never been wrong to strip that fervor of its ugliness but still appeal to and enlist the millions of similar ‘isolationist’ Americans in an anti-occupation, anti-war effort.

And shouldn’t the West, including its uninvited ‘helping’ agencies, just leave and let Afghanistan get back to being whatever its citizens, mullahs, and ‘warlords’ decide they want it to be? Like they were doing before the Soviets and then the Americans invaded? This may involve mob anger and violence over burned Korans and other ‘profanities’. A society may in fact emerge that is never granted a fawning guest appearance on Oprah, but, hey, it’s not _all_ America out there; we don’t have a right to make over Afghanistan, and most of us don’t want to.

P.S. Glenn Greenwald notes the “extreme irony in Harry Reid and Lindsey Graham, of all people, suddenly worrying about actions that trigger anger and violence in the Muslim world. These two Senators, after all, have supported virtually every one of America’s actions which have triggered vastly more anti-American anger, vengeance and violence in the Muslim world than anything Pastor Jones could dream of spawning — from the attack on Iraq to the decade-long occupation of Afghanistan to blind support for Israel to the ongoing camp at Guantanamo.”

Libya & ‘The War You Don’t See’ documentary

12:28 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

It bears repeating that the mainstream news we’re being fed on Libya is almost certainly inaccurate and skewed toward U.S. economic interests. In sum, it’s propaganda; the probable intent of the propaganda, whether reporters know it or not, is U.S. military intervention. Just like in Iraq, Afghanistan, and so on and yada yada stretching back more than a century. (Afghanistan propaganda headlines, for example, are a constant part of the ‘news’; here are two from today: Gates observes US progress in southern Afghanistan (AP), Obama thanks PM for Afghanistan role (The Age (Australia)).)

We know U.S. reporting on international wars is propaganda because of a history stretching back to the dawn of our mass media. John Pilger‘s recently released documentary, ‘The War You Don’t See’, begins with the Wikileaks-released video of a U.S. helicopter gunship murdering civilians in 2007 (btw, that video is why Bradley Manning is a hero and in solitary confinement (seven months so far)), and then tells the sleazy history back to World War II. A Guardian (UK) reviewer describes Pilger’s film as his J’accuse, in which he indicts “UK and US media for allowing itself to be manipulated by governments into misreporting or ignoring every global conflict since the second world war.”

It’s free to view, and well worth 96 minutes of your time: Watch ‘The War You Don’t See’

I hate making the following disclaimer, because it reminds me how lame the discourse is that requires it, but here goes: pointing out the probably propagandistic nature of Western coverage of the Libyan revolution is not an endorsement, defense, or rejection of Libya’s Gaddafi or of the rebels attempting to oust him.

‘Why No Openly Gay U.S. Heroes Killing Afghan Peasants’ w/ Explanation & Photos

12:31 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

I’m offering the following to fill out on last week’s very brief diary (see P.S. 2 for a belated explanation in reaction to the execution of the original).

US escalates killing on both sides of Afghanistan-Pakistan border
29 September 2010,

… The Karzai regime has appointed a commission to investigate a US air strike that killed 31 Afghans last Friday. While occupation spokesmen claimed that all those who died were “insurgents,” local residents demonstrated against what they charged was the slaughter of innocent men, women and children, and now the local governor has acknowledged that roughly half of the victims were civilians.

Meanwhile, the US military and the Central Intelligence Agency have dramatically escalated their shadowy war on the other side of the border in Pakistan. According to the New York Times, the number of missile strikes by pilotless drone aircraft has been doubled, with at least 21 having been conducted so far this month. …

According to Pakistani authorities, 708 people were killed in 51 drone strikes in 2009, and another 600 or more have died in the 75 such strikes carried out so far this year. This adds up to more than 1,300 slaughtered since Obama entered the White House. The overwhelming majority of the victims – referred to vaguely by officials and the media as “suspected militants” – are civilians, including women and children.

From ‘Tears for Gaza

Shooting Handcuffed Children
By David Swanson
January 2, 2010

The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. …

WikiLeaks VIDEO Exposes 2007 ‘Collateral Murder’ In Iraq
April 5, 2010

None of the members of the group were taking hostile action, contrary to the Pentagon’s initial cover story; they were milling about on a street corner. One man was evidently carrying a gun, though that was and is hardly an uncommon occurrence in Baghdad.

Reporters working for WikiLeaks determined that the driver of the van was a good Samaritan on his way to take his small children to a tutoring session. He was killed and his two children were badly injured.

In the video, which Reuters has been asking to see since 2007, crew members can be heard celebrating their kills.

"Oh yeah, look at those dead bastards," says one crewman after multiple rounds of 30mm cannon fire left nearly a dozen bodies littering the street.

A crewman begs for permission to open fire on the van and its occupants, even though it has done nothing but stop to help the wounded: "Come on, let us shoot!"

Two crewmen share a laugh when a Bradley fighting vehicle runs over one of the corpses.

And after soldiers on the ground find two small children shot and bleeding in the van, one crewman can be heard saying: "Well, it’s their fault bringing their kids to a battle."

From ‘Tears for Gaza

US soldiers ‘killed Afghan civilians for sport and collected fingers as trophies’
Soldiers face charges over secret ‘kill team’ which allegedly murdered at random and collected fingers as trophies of war
Chris McGreal, The Guardian, 9 September 2010

Andrew Holmes, Michael Wagnon, Jeremy Morlock and Adam Winfield are four of the five Stryker soldiers who face murder charges. (Photograph: Public Domain)

My report was too hot to broadcast: Brisbane war correspondent
Kate Dennehy
September 19, 2010
Brisbane Times

…He alleges that a teenager in a remote Iraqi village run by the militant Islamist group, al-Qaeda was carrying a weapon to protect himself.

‘‘(The boy) approached the house we were in and the (US) soldiers who were watching our backs, one of them put a bullet right in the back of his head. Unfortunately it didn’t kill him,’’ he tells Australian Story.

‘‘We all spent the next 20 minutes listening to his tortured breath as he died. …

"I indeed had been [as] indifferent as the soldiers around me whose indifference I was attempting to capture.’’

The preceding inspired BobHiggins diary (my comments in the sub-blockquotes):

Chicken Hawks, Carry Home My Seabag, The Heavy One

… A people that can’t tolerate the sights and sounds of war, the tortured screams of the victims, the faces of the dead and dying, of the orphaned and bereft, should probably stop investing in war industries and voting for chicken hawks who send other people’s kids to die and to kill in the racket that is war.

Who are we to vote for then?

Help carry the sea bag, the big green heavy one, the one containing a large ball of fear and terror, and pain, and guilt and shame and yes, adrenaline and rage and overwhelming sadness.

Sadly, no such weight is carried by many who participated or are over there now. They feel defensive but pretty good, shot up some terrorists, can’t trust even the women and children, you know. Maybe even a little heroic, cuz that’s what the massive media is telling them how they should feel.

Ex-Iraq Soldiers Simpson and Lewis
Eva Golinger
September 8, 2009
Postcards from the Revolution

Eva Golinger: Did people in your class [at Evergreen University, a traditionally very liberal state university in the state of Washington] know you were in the military? What did they say to you?

Josh Simpson: Yes, but people knew I was opposed to the war.

Benji Lewis: The "support the troops" campaign has altered everyone’s perception.

Simpson: I’m actually opposed to that campaign. People should have been more confrontational with the troops.
Golinger: Like in Vietnam.

Lewis: The "support the troops" campaign was engineered to allow for indirect acceptance of the war.

Simpson: People are scared to criticize the troops, it’s considered the most blasphemous thing in the world. At the same time, if you are never criticized then you will never know that what you are doing is wrong.

Lewis: You can’t criticize the troops. It’s a poverty draft, these kids just do it because they have no other way out of poverty.

Simpson: But you have to criticize them, because they will say they are just following orders, but that’s bullshit, the Nazis were just following orders too. The military is fascist, it’s basically blind, unquestioning obedience. Then they try to tell you that the blind obedience is some form of courage and bravery.

The above and much direct testimony on war criminality by U.S. soldiers at the following two diaries:

War criminality, in U.S. soldiers’ words
by fairleft
Mon Nov 16th, 2009

P.S. – The following, about Israel’s conduct in its massacre of Gaza, is so familiar to an American keeping track of our troops:

Tears of Gaza director: “How could one not want to show the world what is happening?”
By Joanne Laurier, 28 September 2010,

… The US government and media, and the Western powers generally, sat by and either encouraged the savagery, or did nothing to stop it. All of the individuals and institutions involved are complicit in war crimes. …


[The film’s producer, Terje Kristiansen]: The Israelis systematically destroy the infrastructure, the water system, building supplies, everything needed to keep a society going.

[The film’s director, Vibeke Løkkeberg]: They even bombed the sewer system. So everything goes straight into the Mediterranean. And this is where they swim. They squeeze them from all sides.

[WSWS’s] David Walsh: It’s called sociocide. The US military did the same thing in Iraq.

TK: That’s why casualty figures don’t give the true emotional sense of the crime. The main purpose of the film is to document the emotional impact of being the victim of a war. Images can change history. …

[WSWS’s] Joanne Laurier: One of the hardest parts of the film to watch is the three small children who had been shot at point blank range. They were deliberately executed.

VL: They took the whole family and shot them. They said, “Come out of the house,” and then shot them all. How could one not want to show the world what is happening in Gaza?

P.S. 2 – And then there was my very short diary:

Why no openly gay U.S. heroes killing Afghan peasants?!
By fairleft
September 22, 2010

Sorry. I can’t seem to find that story.

Deleted by eurotrib; okay, then here it is:

Why no openly gay U.S. heroes killing Afghan peasants?!
By fairleft
September 22, 2010

Why are there no openly gay U.S. heroes killing Afghan peasants?! We need to allow all gay women and men, whether openly or non-openly, the opportunity to heroically kill Afghan peasants evilly attempting to oust us from their country. If given a chance to die as an openly gay U.S. heroic Afghan peasant killer, our openly gay U.S. hero would return to a hero’s funeral, where openly and non-openly gay people and non-gay people too could gather to praise the brave service to country provided by an openly gay and now dead American hero.

afew, one of the eurotrib administrators, first accused me of being homophobic (which I rated ‘troll’) and then deleted the diary and all except his final comment. He justified this abuse because the diary was too short (but, of course, some ‘too short’ diaries aren’t and some are) and because it failed to address "the question of the recognition of homosexuality in the public sphere (whatever we may think of some of the activities involved)."

I said in my comment heading responding to afew’s first "I don’t get it" comment: “I’m not here to write what you want me to write.” (Actually, I can’t remember exactly what I wrote, but that’s what deletion does to rational debate.) I then suggestively and hopefully blockquoted from a comment on the diary at firedoglake’s The Seminal:


If only things like your post could penetrate. I liken it to the fact that there is now, and has been for some time, a phenomenon known as “gay rodeo”, which apparently is meant to prove that gay people can be just as cruel to animals as straights. It’s all too reminiscent of Groucho Marx’s classic joke but in reverse. Why would they want to belong to a club that wouldn’t have them as a member?

And yet, regrettably, my effort at ‘get it’ failed, since that comment was responded to with the ‘homophobic’ accusation.

So, for those who didn’t get the point of the diary, here it is in humor-free summary form: I am opposed to "the public sphere" including state-sanctioned murder, and gays and straights alike should not participate in it, should not want to engage in it, and everyone should ‘man up’ and shout down the war criminals in our midst, even including those sad sack victims (regardless of sexual orientation), the soldiers who are killing, wounding and otherwise bullying the peoples of Afghanistan and Iraq. So, the diary was about opposing anyone participating in "some of the activities involved," i.e., in the immoral (but apparently fun for some) bloodfest that being in the U.S. military involves.

I know, read the FAQ.

P.S. 3

Ad posted at a rural New York high school. It reads,

You can’t be all that you can be if you’re dead. There are other ways to serve your country. There are other ways to get money for college. There are other ways to be all you can be.
THINK ABOUT IT. Before you sign your life away.

Of course, the ad became ‘controversial’ …

Many opposed to the ad noted the school’s "Wall of Honor," which displays photos and names of about 20 recent Warwick graduates currently serving in the military, many of whom are in Iraq or Afghanistan.

Making sure such dissonance/dishonor would never happen again, a couple months later the school board banned newspaper ads that could "associate the school with any position other than neutrality on matters of political controversy."

This is the America many of us live in, and about the only possible way to penetrate it is sideways, with humor.

Wikileaks, Sex and Afghanistan: What Matters Now

11:50 am in Uncategorized by fairleft

SEX! criminal charges have a way of drowning out substance and dominating the mainstream media take on a ‘story’. And, so, Julian Assange being briefly charged over the weekend with rape and still facing allegations of sexual harassment (‘molestation’ is a misleading translation) can’t be particularly good for making the ‘Wikileaks story’ about the routine killing of large numbers of Afghanistan civilians by the U.S. and NATO (continuing as we speak), or for bringing widespread attention to that aspect of the story.

Certain important things, however, are now fairly clear about the ‘Assange charges’ story (the best account of which is now here):

1. The facts we know point away from a conspiracy of intelligence operatives generating the initial and quickly dropped rape charge or the now being investigated ‘sexual harassment’ (or ‘unwanted sexual contact’) charge. The rape charge looks like it was just a mistake made by a "late hours special prosecutor’ not familiar enough with the charges and/or applied Swedish law. However, no one inexpert in the facts and relevant Swedish law should rush to drag the apparently mistaken prosecutor through the mud just yet.

2. The sexual harassment charges are based on testimony from two apparently independent alleged victims, neither of whom seems likely to have been a CIA, Pentagon, or Interpol dupe.

3. Especially for media-outgunned causes, credibility matters and conspiracy mongering damages that; sensitivity to potential victims of sexual harassment also matters. So neither Assange, nor prominent pundits such as Glenn Greenwald, nor leftist media critics such as Gavin MacFadyen should have immediately asserted the charges were probably part of some CIA or Pentagon smear. Even, yeah, when there was a ‘perfect’ conspiracy feel to the way things ‘went down’.

4. If Assange is guilty, from what I gather the crime appears have been insisting on and then having unprotected sex with the two women, despite their refusals. To clarify: the women are charging that although the sex began as consensual it became non-consensual to some extent (to what extent I do not know) when Assange refused to wear a condom. In other Western countries, perhaps in Assange’s home country of Australia, this may or may not be a crime, but that doesn’t matter. He was in Sweden, both alleged victims are Swedish, and they have a right to be protected by their country’s laws.

5. This affair likely will not go away for awhile, despite antiwar activists’ wishes. So it may matter that antiwar activists figure out how to use the Wikileaks revelations to focus on civilians and the war ‘despite’ a sex-hung-up media’s desires.

6. But let’s face it: the ‘Wikileaks story’ was already largely disappeared from mainstream (though not ‘alternative’) news by the time of the charges against Assange. The antiwar movement needs to stay reality-based, and one aspect of that is that the Pentagon and the news ‘masters’ didn’t ‘need’ this incident/story.

7. Wikileaking will not stop the war in Afghanistan; truth telling and punditeering can play only an antiwar support role. They are supposed to support a robust antiwar movement, by a citizenry angry about its young men and women getting killed for no reason, angry about killing Afghanistan civilians for no good reason, angry about wasting half a trillion dollars a year on military imperialism when that money needs to be spent at home, and then expressing that anger massively and in ways that cannot be ignored.

8. What matters about Afghanistan in ‘The West’ is that there is virtually no antiwar movement in the world headquarters of imperialism, the United States. Please, college students, as you come back to school over the next several weeks, wake up from Obamaism and apathy and change that!

“Turncoat [??] Afghan soldier kills 3 British troopers”

5:00 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

That’s the AP headline on Yahoo news at the moment. Hard. to. take. sometimes. So he’s _not_ a turncoat when he fights and kills for the US/UK occupation and its Karzai puppet, who was allowed to steal the last national election, but he _is_ a turncoat when he joins the fighting majority trying to kick out the foreigners occupying a country, his country, for the fun and profit of those foreigners’ corporations and politicians?

But the UK Guardian gets it worse:

Renegade Afghan kills three British soldiers
[subhead:] Murder of troops inside Helmand patrol base deals severe blow to government’s Afghanistan exit strategy

Okay, yeah, I get it, ‘renegade’, so you can get in this connotation from

3. of or like a renegade; traitorous.

And murder? How deep into propaganda do you need to be to call ‘the other guys’ murderers and your own side heroes and warriors? I didn’t think that degree of delusion had reached Britain’s Guardian, but there it is.

And how do the killings deal a "severe blow to government’s Afghanistan exit strategy"?

You mean the British government didn’t know that a great percentage of the native troops the US and UK have hired want the patriotic resistance, I mean the Taliban, to win, and almost all are just trying to stay alive and collect paychecks (and weapons)? Doesn’t this incident provide a boost, actually, to the real exit strategy, which is based on the fact that things are going to hell, all plans to crush the resistance have failed, so it’s time to just leave?

At least the New York Times tells it straight:

Afghan Soldier Kills 3 British Soldiers

No editorializing, just another three ugly and meaningless deaths.

How badly do we dislike that hard truth? Not nearly enough, from what I see of a listless and barely antiwar movement.

‘Chairman Steele, Afghanistan truth is taboo!’

7:42 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

For a brief and shining moment, well more or less just July 1 & 2, a major mainstream political leader told the truth everyone knows about Afghanistan: it’s unwinnable. And he even held his ground for, like, a day. As a consequence, Republican National Committee chair Michael Steele was attacked without mercy by both parties and all of official Washington. That’s even though we all know Steele is right, and we all know our first priority, saving Afghan lives, and second priority, saving foreign soldier lives, mean we need to get international military forces quickly removed from Afghanistan. Here’s Steele, taboo busting:

This was a war of Obama’s choosing. This is not something the United States had actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in. . . .

It was the president who was trying to be cute by half by flipping a script demonizing Iraq, while saying the battle really should be in Afghanistan. Well, if he’s such a student of history, has he not understood that you know that’s the one thing you don’t do, is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right, because everyone who has tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed. And there are reasons for that. There are other ways to engage in Afghanistan.

Wow, refreshing, a normal person might at first react. Admittedly, you could question the beginning of the statement, since we all know Bush started the Afghan war; but it is also true that after deposing the Taliban Bush kept the war on low or simmer for the rest of his time in office. And Obama has turned the heat way up, doubling the number of U.S. troops in Afghanistan (and unleashing McChrystal’s assassination squads there, btw). In that reasonable benefit-of-the-doubt context, Steele’s first two sentences above are accurate. But oh, what a second paragraph: right on Mr. Steele, and take that, warmongers!

As you’d expect, military-industrial complex and warmonger Republicans are on the anti-Steele warpath. And the other war party, the Democrats, are also attacking Steele, nearly accusing him of treason (yup, that sounds Bush-era familiar). As if we haven’t known it for awhile, the party and President swooped into office by peacenik votes is also the other ‘support the war or it’ll make the troops feel bad’ party:

Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse ripped Steele for calling the war in Afghanistan unwinnable.

"The American people will be interested to hear that the leader of the Republican Party . . . is betting against our troops and rooting for failure in Afghanistan," Woodhouse said.

"It’s simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences."

Chuck Hagel, Vietnam vet and former U.S. Senator from Nebraska, had a response for this kind of extreme rhetoric back in 2005, standing up to a Bush administration that attacked the patriotism of those who questioned or opposed the Iraq war:

Hagel [said] in a speech to the Council of Foreign Relations that the Vietnam War "was a national tragedy partly because members of Congress failed their country, remained silent and lacked the courage to challenge the administrations in power until it was too late."

"To question your government is not unpatriotic — to not question your government is unpatriotic," Hagel said, arguing that 58,000 troops died in Vietnam because of silence by political leaders. "America owes its men and women in uniform a policy worthy of their sacrifices."

But, yeah, of course, a day after those quotes were revealed Steele got his warhawk garb back on, and he’s now back dutifully talking soldier-and-civilian-killing nonsense about Afghanistan. Official Washington has calmed, though Steele may still be punished for breaking an official taboo (reminds me of the one about German imperialism broken recently by its now former President, Horst Köhler), but hey, he’s back on board, and what a relief for imperial war and pointless death:

During the 2008 Presidential campaign, Barack Obama made clear his belief that we should not fight in Iraq, but instead concentrate on Afghanistan. Now, as President, he has indeed shifted his focus to this region. That means this is his strategy. And, for the sake of the security of the free world, our country must give our troops the support necessary to win this war.

As we have learned throughout history, winning a war in Afghanistan is a difficult task. We must also remember that after the tragedy of September 11, 2001, it is also a necessary one. That is why I supported the decision to increase our troop force and, like the entire United States Senate, I support General Petraeus’ confirmation. The stakes are too high for us to accept anything but success in Afghanistan.

Truth about Afghanistan still strictly verboten in the two party duopoly. And I expect official Washington will be very unforgiving to Mr. Steele the taboo breaker. On the other hand, Obama’s doubling the intensity of the war in Afghanistan and the resulting increased slaughter? NOT a problem for the powers that be. Slaughter in Afghanistan, by the way, looks a little bit like this:


P.S. – This is a helluva good site; in particular its news and howling on the latest war supplemental (etc.) is irreplaceable. So, support Firedoglake if you can. And you probly can.

Obama Cancels Withdrawal, Peace No, Petraeus

12:30 pm in Uncategorized by fairleft

The U.S. being the U.S., it would be smart not to look with ‘peacenik’ optimism on Afghanistan disarray and Obama’s stubborn pursuit of a failed and fraudulent strategy there, but probably more realistic to consider the possibility of a David Petraeus 2012 presidential run (though admittedly the juvenile thug Stanley McChrystal fits the Republican rogue vibe better). Yeah, that’s more like it: having a general run the U.S. increasingly fits the militarized mood here, or at least what we are provided as the mood by the corporate media. (Media side note of dismay: even the once alternative Nation magazine is now dishing ‘next war’ anti-Iran propaganda.)

American imperialism (like Israel’s, actually, but that’s another diary (that I would be advised on eurotrib to confine to a comment)) will be deterred by effective guerrilla resistance, budget constraints, and/or by politicians among its major ‘allies’ forced to act against U.S. demands/commands by strong and voting antiwar movements. The latter doesn’t appear to be happening now, not in Britain or Germany, the numbers 2 and 3 in contributions to the U.S. (okay, NATO fig leaf) occupation army in Afghanistan. But, somehow, despite the CIA’s efforts, I think prospects for effective war opposition (especially during economic hard times) is better there than it is in the States.

Yeah, and sorry, European anti-warniks, the prospect for effective internal opposition here in the U.S. is virtually nil with Obama in the White House and military-industrial-complex Democrats in control of the party. One of several excellent letters (consistently better than the articles) attached to a Salon article accurately sums up the Stateside antiwar gloominess:

Obama is too arrogant and stubborn to admit that he has made a mistake and he lacks the courage to pull the troops out of Afghanistan. Unfortunately, this country’s mindset about wars will make it impossible for us to reevaluate it and pull out of it. The only reason we left Vietnam is bcz we had a draft and the people here with money got tired of seeing their kids killed and maimed. The Military Industrial Complex quickly learned that volunteers not drafts guaranteed them long wars. . . . — robbep

The volunteer army, frankly, means there’s virtually no U.S. college campus-based antiwar movement. In fact, the U.S. Y and Z generations — if they have any politics at all — are either _still_ Obama-starry-eyed or right-wing-radio-raised "I got mine" wingers. That doesn’t mean college students favor the war (56% of Americans opposed it the last time (May 21-23) they were asked by the mainstream media). Just that they’re not opposed to it enough; they’re disconnected, because the lives of very few people they know are on the line there.

On Petraeus, Beowulf’s comment at firedoglake’s The Seminal is realism about U.S. politics:

. . . Petraues will come out of this a hero, win lose or draw.

What’s the worst case scenario? The Taliban will never be strong enough to eject us by force of arms. The only way we “lose” is if the President orders our forces to withdraw and we then watch on TV as the Taliban quickly take over Afghanistan. The President will take the all the heat for that. Since General Petraeus was just following orders, he will be viewed as blameless. [Or, he will have resigned in protest (to a Republican standing ovation) over a U.S. 'cut and run' in Afghanistan. -- fairleft]

If Petraeus can just keep the lid on the pot so that things seem “a little better” next year, Obama will get no credit, but Petraeus will be credited as the ace relief pitcher who saved the game.

That second part I’m more shaky on: keeping the lid on Afghanistan likely shifts the 2012 focus to economy, where Obama ain’t doing so well either; but, we’ll see.

On Obama effectively canceling the July 2011 withdrawal deadline, we have this yesterday from the President:

"We didn’t say we’d be switching off the lights and closing the door behind us."

LOL, you zinged us! All us ‘withdrawal hopeful’ commoners were so stupid cuz we thought that! But seriously, here’s his withdrawal deadline killer, same source:

Obama said July 2011 should be seen more as a date for a transfer of responsibility to Afghan forces. He also said he will be relying heavily on Petraeus’ advice when the pullout date and war strategy come up for another major administration review in December.

Okay, so Obama has canceled the "begin the transfer of our forces out of Afghanistan in July of 2011" promise he made in December, 2009, and now has left that up to General Petraeus. But, hey, there will be a ‘transfer of authority’ ceremony that no one will believe is real! So that’s now what July 2011 means: nothing.

Last but not least (and thanks, msmolly): A corrective in photographs from the 1950s to the widespread notion that Afghanistan is and always has been a medieval backwater. What the Soviets, the West and their progeny have done to that poor country.

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I’m sure we haven’t seen the last of you, Stanley, but good bye for now.