RANGER AGAINST WAR: February 2011 <

Monday, February 28, 2011


Am I the one who lives on,
or the other, who died?

--In a Cemetary
, Steinn Steinnarr

Although it looks like a tomato,

it's kind of a notional tomato.

I mean, it's the idea of a tomato

--Food, Inc.
, (2008)

Remember Pear Harbor
-- Keep America Alert!

Remember the Alamo!

Remember the Maine!

--U.S. Fighting Mottoes

"We'll Never Forget" is such a feel-good, quasi-tough motto -- but it's more accurate to say, we will never understand.

Remember 9-11 has gained mythic status in the U.S. popular mind because it is facile, like popping a top on a Coke Zero (and just as nutritious). Realism is not an easy sell in a country that likes dirty, pretty things without complication.

The events of that day were criminal, and 3,000 +/- people were killed; but they died in discrete events. Being a nation with a couple of hundred years of experience and a codex of laws, we know how to deal with such hits. What we are unwilling to confront are the ongoing killing blows our society absorbs every day, attacks which are largely preventable.

Among these:

  • 200,000+ die from sepsis in the U.S. annually
  • ~300,000 die from obesity-related illness
  • ~100,000 Americans die annually from medical malpractice
  • ~25,000 die from gunshot wounds
  • ~25,000 are killed on the roads at the hands of drunk drivers rampaging the roads
  • ~400,000 die from tobacco-related illness
  • Diabetes is rampant, yet we continue to mainline soda, ice cream, high fructose corn sweetener (HFCS) and tons pastel yellow, blue and pink packets of chemical sweeteners, their innocuous, sweet colors belying the fact that they compromise our insulin response. (Of course, we have drugs for the ruination, keeping Big Pharma in the pink)
  • Our drinking water is contaminated, our food dusted with fungicides, insecticides, herbicides, pesticides and other carcinogens
  • We have cell phones attached to our heads which may or may not cause cancer, but certainly disrupt the brain's chemical signaling.
  • About 1,700 children die from abuse and neglect annually; ~1,200 women die as a result of domestic violence. (The FBI estimates a woman is beaten every 15 seconds in the US.)

Terror is not the threat we fear. The threat is smiling at us appealingly from our marketer's shelves.

Lest we forget.

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Thursday, February 24, 2011

First Things First

Bless the beasts and the children
for in this world they have no voice
--Bless the Beasts and the Children,
The Carpenters

USA Today is always good for a glimpse into what the average American finds interesting.

Yesterday front and center it was pirates -- always a good topic (Killings Escalate Piracy Crisis). It seems two wealthy people and two friends were killed aboard their 65-foot custom made sloop by pirates as they blithely navigated through known treacherous territory as they romped their way across the world enjoying fair seas and spreading the word of their Christian God via distribution of bibles and occasional sermons.

Meanwhile, buried at the bottom of Page 5D was the story, "Children are Coming to School Hungry", about kids who, well, waited out the clock til lunch when they could fill their empty bellies.
Said Stacey Frakes who taught middle school in Madison Co., Florida (neighboring county to Tallahassee), hungry children would lay their heads on their tables and "almost cry":

She says hungry students "couldn't focus at all. All they could think about was wanting food. They would ask, 'What time is lunch? Is it lunchtime yet?' "

It's hard to teach children when "they are thinking about their next good meal," Frakes says.

Pages 5A and 7A had something about the protests in Cairo and Libya, as that becomes background or foreground chatter like the U.S. wars, as sensational news like pirates dwindles or arises.

I don't know about you, but my concern is how to fix the manifold problems in my country. Proselytizing globetrotters don't mean a whit to me; if they volunteered at home to ameliorate some actual problem I'd give them a nod, but not for going out out converting and cavorting. The political goings on elsewhere are also not primary to my well-being, as they are not for most people.

Ah, but pirates, matey -- now there's something to fill a lunch hour's chatter. Exotic and much more interesting than the grotty little tales of woe of our downtrodden. Except when you realize that the pirates were once the grotty little hungry downtrodden of their own countries.

There is a repetition here.

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Charity Begins at Home

Turnaround, every now and then I know
you'll never be the boy you always

you wanted to be

--Total Eclipse of the Heart
, Bonnie Tyler

Everyone's entranced and distracted with the disruption to daily life they see in the Middle East. Maybe even a little heartened that common folk can fight the power, while probably mistakenly believing that something that looks like the American Revolution is in the making.

The hubris is ponderous -- even egregious. The WaPo's Jim Hoagland says going up in flames would be "a fitting end for the criminal
you have become." It seems he, like Casablanca's Captain Renault, is positively shocked the Brother Colonel has ended up so badly.

Have become?
The present perfect tense is incorrect. Correct: " . . . the criminal you are, were and always have been." My, how naive Hoagland must be to think Moammar has become a bad guy.

What was the U.S. thinking when it invited criminals like Qaddafy to the Good Guys table? Bad guys don't suddenly grow a conscience and become good; they'll sit there and take the goodies all the while thinking they can gobsmack you.

And while the United Nations dithers about the possibility of charging Qadaffi with crimes against humanity while we tie ourselves up talking down these suddenly-appeared rogue monsters, why don't we whip out the birch switches and fillip ourselves?

The monsters in our midst -- Former President George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney and Company -- have never been held to account for their crimes against humanity, after all . . .a legacy which keeps on giving in 2011 and beyond.

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Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Charlie Rules the Night

We held the day in the palm of our hands
They ruled the nights, and the nights

Seemed to last as long as six weeks

--Goodnight Saigon
, Billy Joel

In 1968 Vietnam one thing was certain: While the U.S. could control the terrain on which it stood, Charlie Ruled the Night. 42 years on, different continent, same mantra.

I had the finest and most extensive training a soldier could experience before deployment, but that did not
change the formula which still holds 42 years later in the Sandbox. It is little surprise. Think our Castle Doctrine . . . we are unwelcome guests in their home. The U.S. military remains, as readers Minstrel Boy says, farkling about smartly, cruising for a bruising -- but mostly trying to stay alive.

And U.S. Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano said
recently the terror threat from individuals radicalized inside the United States --
"homegrown terrorists" -- has grown since 2001. Napolitano issued a vague "One of the most striking elements of today's threat picture is that plots to attack America increasingly involve American residents and citizens" (Terror threat 'most heightened' since 9/11, Napolitano Says).

After billions of dollars and ten Long War years, we learn in Senate testimony that our security is more tenuous than when we embarked upon this campaign. What does this mean? Possibilities:

[1] A Phony War on Terror (Phony War on Terror ©) is in fact unwinnable.
[2] Our leaders are not effective leaders

[3] Our goals are unattainable

[4] Everything we are told is a lie

We hew to the Lie Theory. Napolitano is remiss to make a declaration sans qualification. If she cannot quantify the threat, how can she declare for it? Why have we seen no suicide bombers stateside? It feels like Ms. Napolitano is delivering us of a Dilbert Moment:

  • We are not secure
  • All of the money we spent has been wasted to no avail
  • We need more money to solve this problem
  • Oh, and as HSA Director I have no clue as to what constitutes safety from terrorism. But it is on-the-job training . . . baby steps, y'know

If the U.S. had done nothing after 9-11, would we still be at the same, high, threat level? What have the trillions of dollars spent thus far gained us? The real questions are how does a politician with no security or intelligence training provide security to the nation and why do the taxpayers finance this folly?

Since the terrorist attack of 9-11-01, the number of deaths of U.S. citizens at the hands of terrorists CONUS has remained around 3,000 (that is, it hasn't budged). Contrast this to the number of those killed or imprisoned by U.S. counter-terrorism policy: If we are no safer, what did all of this carnage gain us?

The wars have neither addressed the threat nor made us safer.
Therefore, the war is not defensive in nature. The Just War metric has not been met, and people like Napolitano are as much of the problem as are al-Qaeda terrorists.

The larger threat may not be terrorism but rampant institutional ignorance and misdirection.

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Sunday, February 20, 2011

Letter to a Medic

Hey! I know we're all in strung out shape
but stay frosty and alert.

We can't afford to let one of those bastards in here


Life’s goin' nowhere. Somebody help me, yeah.

I’m stayin' alive.

--Stayin' Alive, The Bee Gees

A friend has asked for some advice for a young medic now preparing for his first overseas deploying to Afghanistan. Ranger will give some basic advice, but any medic readers are encouraged to offer their own specifics (that means you, too, FDC).
He will be reading this.

In addition, friend/reader Deryle coincidentally offered the writings this week of Marc Levy, who served with D 1/7 Cavalry as an infantry medic in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970. The piece, "
The Medic at Rest", features a link at bottom to writings on his other experiences in Vietnam, so this may provide some more insight.

As an aging soldier, I can say there is one thing worse than getting killed in combat and that is
not getting killed in combat. Whatever you do, do your utmost to perform to the best of your ability and training, because your actions or inaction will stay with you every day of your life.

Keep it clean, keep it simple. Follow your medical training and live by the oath,
first do no harm. You may lose a few in your time, but those that make it have a lifetime ahead of them.

Focus on the wins and minimize your losses. Always focus on today and tomorrow and do not let the past drag you down. Stay frosty, medic.


Friday, February 18, 2011

Facebook the Nation

--Camel Jockeys, Petar Pismestrovic

A democracy is nothing more than mob rule,

where fifty-one percent of the people

may take away the rights of the other forty-nine

--Thomas Jefferson


Watching U.S. policy floundering in the Middle East is like watching the obsessive-compulsive t.v. character Monk walking a sidewalk.

He knows there are cracks, but he assiduously avoids stepping on them, his arduous crack-avoiding walk allowing him to maintain a measure of equanimity. He would deny that he's making any accommodation for something that is driving him mad -- he would deny even seeing the cracks -- and so it is with U.S. foreign policy.
The fictional Monk is OCD, but how do we diagnose U.S. policy, one as bizarre as Mr. Monk's strange denial and sidesteps?

Our leaders have been all atwitter about the upswell of mob action in Egypt, elevating mobocracy to democracy. This ignores the reality that mob rule should not / cannot be tolerated by any government, democratic, autocratic or otherwise.
The U.S. has never tolerated mob rule, nor should we.

The streets of Washington were planned with crowd control in mind. The School of the Americas at Ft. Benning taught crowd control as a basic element of foreign Army training. U.S. mobile training teams worldwide taught the host nation forces how to control crowds.
Here in the States, elite Airborne Infantry units have performed domestic crowd control, and the National Guard is well-versed in the topic.

So . . . why is the U.S. so optimistic about riots and mobs in the streets of Cairo? Further, was Obama's 2009
Hope - Change Cairo speech the match to this tinderbox (Dictators and Hedgehogs)? We are inconsistent: The U.S. heralds mobs in one place yet quashes them in another, forcing the residents to accept rulers they do not want.

How can the U.S. disingenuously press on with its counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan in the face of such hypocrisy?
It spends trillions of dollars forcing people not to be insurgent, while sitting back on its haunches calling mobs elsewhere constellations of freedom fighting? Furthermore, isn't a mob a form of Low-Intensity Conflict (LIC)?

Will we allow Sadrist mobs to control Baghdad? No, so why can mobs overthrow a regime in Cairo but not in Baghdad? If U.S. policy is to empower mobs, then
COIN should be abandoned as dead-in-the-water.

We need to think versus reacting in a Pollyannaish, vacuous Katie Couric moment. We do not know where Egypt will end up, nor do we know if the results will be constructive or democratic. Additionally, we do not know if democracy in Egypt will benefit the U.S. On the pragmatic side: What leader will cast his lot in with us when he knows he will be tossed to the wolves after he has done our bidding for 30 years?

One thing is certain: Democracy does not prosper in mobs.

[Cross-posted @ milpub]

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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Bench Warmer

Equal opportunity means everyone
will have a fair chance at being incompetent.
--The Peter Principle
Laurence J. Peter

Sen. Howell Heflin

Uh.. what porno movie did you talk about?

Judge Clarence Thomas

Well.. I mainly spoke about a favorite of mine,

called "The Hind-Lick Manuever"

Sen. Howell Heflin

That's a good movie
, Judge!
But do you think hard-core porno is the way to go?

Because I feel women prefer softer porn

--SNL skit of the Clarence Thomas Hearings

What is this guy doing on the bench?

As the Supreme court returned week from its midwinter break, it will have been five years since Justice Clarence Thomas has spoken during a court argument -- five years (No Argument: Thomas Keeps 5-Year Silence).

"If he is true to form, Justice Thomas will spend the arguments as he always does: leaning back in his chair, staring at the ceiling, rubbing his eyes, whispering to Justice Stephen G. Breyer, consulting papers and looking a little irritated and a little bored. He will ask no questions.

"In the past 40 years, no other justice has gone an entire term, much less five, without speaking at least once during arguments ... "

Talk about a cushy job appointment. As we consider the fate of the nation, it seems like we need every able body to be performing some work commensurate with one's ability.

Justice Clarence Thomas, the embodiment of Peter's Principle, Pareto's Principle and then some. Perhaps his best work was done when he was known as Long Dong Silver, his perennial joking of that era indicating he had already reached his level of incompetence, according to Mr. Peter (the other one).
Of course, we noted Clarence's reticence a few years back (He's No Fool).

Sadly now, Thomas has been advanced beyond his apex, and his life can no longer be fun again in that same way, alas.


Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Indian Giver


Talk amongst yourselves . . .

[cross-posted @ milpub]

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Monday, February 14, 2011

Red Light District

The strategic adversary is fascism...

the fascism in us all, in our heads

and in our everyday behavior,

the fascism that causes us to love power,

to desire the very thing that dominates and exploits us

--Michel Foucault

There was of course no way of knowing

whether you were being watched at any given moment.

How often, or on what system, the Thought Police

plugged in on any individual wire was guesswork

, George Orwell

According to biographer Lou Cannon,

[Reagan] called the death of innocent civilians

in anti-terror operations "terrorism itself."

--5 Myths of Reagan's Legacy


A recent reports claims red light cameras save lives ("Red light cameras get Results").

Ranger has commented before on the presumption of guilt that comes with a technological accuser seen as infallible. As a increased source of revenue for the state, the use of the cameras is a no-brainer. But they disallow the accused the benefit of facing her accuser in a court of law. It is as a juvenile friend says when caught like the proverbial cat with the bird in his mouth:
"BUSTED!" But should it be thus?

While one has no expectation of privacy in a vehicle on a public highway, one has in the past had the right to face the witness to his transgression in a court of law: The policeman who wrote the ticket. No matter how indignant the ticketee, it is recognized that the cop is not a thing. However, the policeman's role is now co-opted by a thing, and since this is so,
has the technology now gained a measure of "personhood"?

Are we entering the age of the Borg, and if so, what is the endpoint? Will no area of our lives be sancrosanct? The average Briton is photographed approximately 200 times in the average day (the British publication Philosophy Now! devoted an entire issue to the topic.)
How does the knowledge of this constant surveillance affect the human psyche? Will we become so inured/submissive that we will not mind this evisceration of our bedrock right to face our accusers? Will we come to love Big Brother?

The red light cameras are said to increase safety at intersections.
It is the Santa Claus/God effect: He knows when you've been bad or good, and you have no idea when he is actually watching? If safety is the concern -- as it seems to be the all-consuming God of modern America -- are there not other ways to affect this in a matter more in concert with democratic principles?

Would increasing the yellow light cycle reduce light running? Increased penalties and increased sentences for injuries caused by light-running? In addition to the alternative approaches to the problem, we fail to consider that we are made unsafe on the roads due to inconsiderate and selfish behaviors such as cell phone use, texting, eating, being distracted or overly aggressive or simply failing to use signaling devices.

With more "infallible" intrusions we grow like Patrick McGoohan's
Prisoner, dwelling in a world of shrunken perimeters. Will we welcome a statewide version of Bentham's prison Panopticon, or like Foucault, will see the limitation and limiting factors of such a Big Brother overwatch?

In Nick Parks' classic animal claymation of life in a zoo,
Creature Comforts, a nearsighted sloth with Mr. McGoo glasses says, "I feel secure I'm not worried about anything . . . I know what ever happens they'll look after me and put me where I ought to be." Or will we be the disgruntled Latin lion who protests against his safe, nutritionally adequate but soul-zapping "dog food" diet: "I need meat; I need a-space. I'll go anywhere -- name it, I'll go".

--Jim and Lisa

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Friday, February 11, 2011

Dear John


Someday I'll wish upon a star,
Wake up where the clouds are far behind me

Where trouble melts like lemon drops

High above the chimney top

that's where you'll find me

--Somewhere Over the Rainbow
Israel Kamakawiwo Ole'

Last week was the anniversary of the death of RangerAgainstWar's first blog friend, John (Lurch) of the now defunct blog Main and Central. John went from being an energetic adviser - cheerleader to a friend.

He was a sometimes curt and rough guy who had a deep well of sentimentality. Anyone who spoke so fondly of his little dachshund (The Master of the Universe) understood compassion. When we met, John was still recovering from the loss of his beloved wife; but as time went on, he seemed to be opening to what the universe might bring. One of our last conversations brought forth his saucy but determined observation, "I need a woman!" -- "You most definitely do."

And it was that this gruff, brilliant and funny guy was on the cusp of stepping out that made his loss all the more sad.

I noticed toward the end he was enjoying more happy music. "In a big country, dreams can come true/like a lover's voice, on a mountainside . . ." But it is when someone can ennoble The Captain and Tennille that you remember. Lurch had used their, "Do That to Me One More Time" somewhere in the blogosphere, and I made some snarky comment about the sappiness of the tune, and I was chastened. He stood his ground and maintained that it was a song of some sentiment, and that it was very nice to feel that way.

And of course he was right. I was affecting the snide and cynical attitude of those who surrounded me, and I suddenly felt much less cool. I felt less disdainful of romanticism after our interaction. This tough guy had something to teach me about the marriage of hard and soft.

Thank you, Lurch, and thank you, John. R. I. P.

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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Virtually Yours

--Arend Van Dam

Walking like a one man army

Fighting with the shadows in your head

Living up the same old moment

Knowing you'd be better off instead,

If you could only . . .

Say what you need to say
, John Mayer

Express yourself

[You've got to make him]

So you can respect yourself

Hey, hey, hey!

--Express Yourself, Madonna

Pray what needs prayin'

Say what needs sayin'

Cause we're only here for a little while

--We're Only Here for a Little While,

Billy Dean


We have speculated recently about the lack of protest in the U.S. Perhaps the fact that any protests which do occur tend to be small and easily corralled is the reason we do not hear of them.

The recent protests in Egypt have many pundits glowing about the potential of social networking platforms like Facebook and YouTube to foment change. The NYT suggests they offered a way for the "discontented to organize and mobilize" around a cause like that of Khalid Said, murdered by police because he supposedly uncovered instances of police corruption
(Movement Began With Outrage and a Facebook Page That Gave It an Outlet).

But in order for such networking to manifest in actual social unrest requires waves of disenchanted, a phenomenon that may not resonate with ubiquitous cheap Chinese goods, nachos and wide screens and enough money to pay for a ticket to be distracted by the latest Hollywood drivel at the local multiplex.

Contemplating what a 21st century American protest might look like, I was brought to mind of a new viewing experience held recently in Miami: Wallcast. Wallcast is a 7,000 square-foot outdoor screen onto which was projected a Wagner opera for the viewing pleasure of the outdoor masses who could not score a ticket into the theatre
(New World Symphony in Miami Beach).

The sounds was praised, as 167 speakers were unobtrusively placed behind plants surrounding the outdoor setting, "tucked neatly into a rectangular network of horizontal and vertical tubes. It looks more like an enormous tubular sculpture than an array of speakers." (Terry Gillam's Brazil, anyone?) "[T]he orchestra came through with remarkable presence, body and clarity. Sitting in the park watching the broadcast you do not detect the music coming from any particular set of speakers. Rather, it permeates the space."

And the cameramen were innovative in their use of side and overhead shots, giving the screen viewers a sensation of actually being at the performance (if one is willing to assume the perspective of the innovative cameramen and resist vertigo.) Wallcast may well be a spectre of things to come.

Our protesters may one day arrive, but they will be cordoned off from any meaningful confrontation, instead confronted by a giant wall screen onto which is projected the figures of our leaders gazing out, mutely, upon the rabble.
We will have had our say, and it will feel real because for us, it was.

We will have organized, recruited and we will be tired, having paid for our transport and hotel rooms, and we will have schmoozed with our fellows and duly documented the experience on Facebook and Twitter.

If a tweet is chirped in the woods, is it heard?

And then, the screen will go dark.

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Tuesday, February 08, 2011

Population At Large


Ranger recently happened upon a Cracker Barrel initiative -- "United We Stand" insignias in their homey front porch rockers, with a portion of the proceeds going to the Wounded Warrior Project. Fair enough.

But if you have happened upon a Cracker Barrel in your travels you know the denizens share a certain . . . style, for lack of a better word.
Indeed they are a microcosm of a large swath of America. This caused Ranger to wonder, and, extrapolating to the population at large, he thought:

"Shouldn't this be,
'United We Sit'"?

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Monday, February 07, 2011

Jihad Jane

In India we only read about
death, sickness, terrorism, crime

--Abdul Kalam

Democracy is necessary to peace

and to undermining the forces of terrorism

--Benazir Bhutto


Colleen La Rose, aka "Jihad Jane", pleaded guilty last Tuesday to "plotting to kill a Swedish cartoonist, providing material support to terrorists, and other criminal charges, the U.S. Justice Department said" (Jihad Jane Pleads Guilty in U.S. Terrorism case).

The entire legal approach to the WOT is summarized in this incident.

Since Oct, 2009 is 17 months ago, what has happened to the concept of a speedy trial? This case is not exactly a Gordian knot; the facts, simple and demonstrable. She is guilty of something, even if that something is somewhat questionable, so why the delay?

LaRose is a ne'er-do-well with no operational skills, yet she is being portrayed as a great threat. Yes, she has the intent but her hopes and aspirations were never linked to any actual attempts to murder. Though utterly inadequate in her chosen pasttime, she serves well as a fear-promoting tool for a government in need of keeping the perpetual motion machine of the War on Terror going.

The is the same question regarding tardy trial goes for Khalid Sheikh Mohammed and others held in U.S. custody for seven years on without trail. KSM is a bad guy, so why is there any difficulty proving the cases against him?

the U.S. wishes to be a shiny beacon of hope for those living under tyranny, it must not behave in a tyrannical fashion and call it freedom. Keeping the citizens in the dark about governmental motives and calling it "State Secrets" doesn't equal democracy. Two + two equals four, until such time as one is utterly brainwashed and like Orwell's Winston will then happily call it five.

Since we have abdicated our rights of habeas corpus and all of the rest, it is time to ask what we are fighting for. The bogeyman of terrorism has caused a thorough diminution of our liberal concepts of legality. Where are civil rights organizations like the ACLU at this moment? Much like the muzzled Gray Panthers on the topic of a diminished Social Security, we wonder -- where is the protest?

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Thursday, February 03, 2011

Sands of Time

My name is Ozymandias, king of kings:

Look on my works, ye Mighty, and despair!”

Nothing beside remains. Round the decay

Of that colossal wreck, boundless and bare

The lone and level sands stretch far away.

, Percy Bysshe Shelley

Pride goeth before destruction,

and an haughty spirit before a fall

-- Proverbs 16:18

I remember reading that scientists once believed

the universe was made of hydrogen,

because it was the most plentiful ingredient found.

If that theory holds any truth,

then I believe it to be made of stupidity

--Frank Zappa


Ranger is only now getting around to
Steve Coll's Ghost Wars: The Secret History of the CIA, Afghanistan and Bin Laden, from the Soviet Invasion to September 10, 2001 (2004) is a tour de force of Afghanistan, one war removed.

For anyone still four-square behind this little dust up, Mr. Coll will disabuse you from any patriotic notions of victory in that nation of shifting alliances and canny self-sufficiency. It is not an easy read, but once done the idea of a nation-state in our image is forever gone, and the ability of the Afghans to look out for the Afghans in the face of any intervention is firmly established.

Take one Mr. President Hamid Karzai and family, he of the sweeping silk cape, yak cap and Western business suit, rolled out the American people as an exotic but friendly ally:

  • The Karzai family backed the Taliban in 1994
  • Two Karzai brother operate Afghani restaurants in the U.S.
  • In 1994, Hamid Karzai is reported to be working with Pakistani intelligenc
  • Karzai contributed $50,000 of his personal funds to the Taliban
  • Trucking overlords rather than Pakistan financed the first Taliban military success
  • Pakistan ISI was implicated with the extremist elements of Afghanistan throughout the Russo-Afghanistan war
  • Kandahar was not only a Taliban center of power but also an Arab-financed boom-town

The comments on Karzai show an opportunistic man constantly shifting alliances like the desert sand to consolidate power; as in 1994, so in 2011. His true loyalty and beliefs are safe under his yak cap, but they probably do not parallel U.S. interests. Not only are Mr. Karzai's actions wily as well as those of his Afghani brothers, but Pakistan's ISI plays U.S. operatives like a fiddle.

U.S. clandestine operations in the Russo-Afghan war were completely orchestrated through the Pakistani ISI. At no time did U.S. agents directly coordinate or recruit agents at a meaningful level. In effect, the allies of the ISI were funded and equipped by U.S. taxpayers. The ISI and Afghan resistance co-opted the entire war by transforming the effort into a religious endeavor, relegating the nationalists (as such) and monarchists to untenable positions.

U.S. policy became entwined with ISI policy, and U.S. agencies never questioned the empowerment of the Islamic fundamentalists. In fact, the anti-aircraft shoulder-fired weapon buy-back following the withdrawal of the USSR is accepted as the financial basis of the early Taliban successes in the post-war era (
post-war may be a redundancy as more of Afghanistan's history has been in that state than not.)

The Central Intelligence agency bought back weapons which we had freely delivered to the Afghan resistance through the ISI. The Afghanis then funded themselves by selling them back, the Arab goniff reminiscent of the cartoon characters who would drop a coin into the vending machine, tied to a string, getting both the goody and the coin.

Large weapons caches and tunnel systems were also funded by the U.S. and built by Arabs like UBL throughout this era. These caves were later (and still) used by the groups opposing the current government and subsequent U.S. occupation -- in counterinsurgency terms, the perfect self-licking ice-cream cone.

As an old saying goes, an Arab can steal the yolk from egg without cracking it. We are just accepting that there are different kinds of intelligence. The U.S. may have the baddest technology on the block, but they sure seem to play their cards more ably than any we try to place on the table.

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Tuesday, February 01, 2011

Haze of Rhetoric

We are more often frightened than hurt;
and we suffer more from imagination

than from reality

--Lucius Annaeus Seneca

Fine sounding phrases,

hiding hollow arguments

--Hendrik Van Loon

Gotta get down to it.

Soldiers are cutting us down.

Should have been done long ago
, C,S,N & Y

All the Japanese with their yen

The party boys call the Kremlin

And the Chinese know (oh whey oh)

They walk the line like Egyptian

--Walk Like an Egyptian, the Bangles

Ranger Question of the Day (RQOD):

Would U.S. police allow demonstrations of the magnitude

of those in Egypt on Pennsylvania Avenue?


The U.S. that is trying to steer Egypt's government on moral and democratic behavior vis-a-vis their protesters and/or angry mobs is suffering a serious amnesia in regards to democratic behavior.

This amnesia is a result of the mass hysteria enveloping the Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) which has allowed for the degradation of our founding principles. The U.S. is the apostle of international armed overreaction, yet we shamefacedly promote prudence to other nations. Our words do not accord with our actions.
Likewise, no form of government should be expected to tolerate violent riots; democracy does not issue from this source.

Protesters do have a right of assembly
if they are peaceful, yet in America we have created a new society in which protesters are limited to zones strictly cordoned off by the police. Protest around our leaders is not tolerated and protesters are routinely arrested and removed from public events -- a protest can be large but if avoided by the press, may as well have never happened.

Diligent reader and friend tw shared the non-coverage of an anti-war protest in D.C. last December, noted only, it seems, by a humble blogger:

"About 135 people were arrested yesterday in an anti-war protest outside the White House. This came as President Obama was revealing a new report that touted progress in the war in Afghanistan. ... (t)his act of civil disobediance [sic] and arrests apparently are [sic] not news.

"Those arrested included Pulitzer prize-winning war correspondent, Chris Hedges, Daniel Ellsberg, who leaked the Pentagon papers, retired 27-year CIA analyst Ray McGovern, FBI whistleblower Colleen Rowley . . .(135 arrests in DC and that's not news)."

But while protest in America has died an ignominious death, the U.S. has the gall to encourage Egyptian leaders to accept protest of their government, all the while crouching like the Cheshire Cat, knowing the tanks and armaments wielded by the Egyptian authorities were fronted by them. Egyptian repression is facilitated by U.S. policy

Our advice is disingenuous.
The U.S. has created phony villes of Democracy in Iraq and Afghanistan by the barrel of a gun and the bribe of cash and materiel, yet we would moralize to the Egyptians. The Egyptians, who have tortured prisoners for us in our extra-legal renditions.

We will use their non-democratic features when it behooves us, then come out from behind the skirt and admonish them to be kind and forbearing when their power structure is threatened.

U.S. tax dollars have funded and facilitated dictatorial brutality in the region, and we become poseurs when we pretend it is otherwise.

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