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December 04, 2009

New Tomdispatch


Victory at Last!
By Tom Engelhardt

Let others deal with the details of President Obama’s Afghan speech, with the on-ramps and off-ramps, those 30,000 U.S. troops going in and just where they will be deployed, the benchmarks for what’s called “good governance” in Afghanistan, the corruption of the Karzai regime, the viability of counterinsurgency warfare, the reliability of NATO allies, and so on. Let’s just skip to the most essential point which, in a nutshell, is this: Victory at Last!

It’s been a long time coming, but finally American war commanders have effectively marshaled their forces, netcentrically outmaneuvering and outflanking the enemy. They have shocked-and-awed their opponents, won the necessary hearts-and-minds, and so, for the first time in at least two decades, stand at the heights of success, triumphant at last.

And no, I’m not talking about post-surge Iraq and certainly not about devolving Afghanistan. I’m talking about what’s happening in Washington.

The rest.

—Jonathan Schwarz

Posted at December 4, 2009 10:53 AM

Marine Corp General Smedley Butler:

War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.

I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.

And war is the most profitable racket in the world!

Entire book:

Posted by: Oarwell at December 4, 2009 11:28 AM

Justin Raimondo at notes how the neocons are loving Obomba 2.0 (and hey, if you're a shilling war pig, what's not to love?):

"A good number of Obama’s most enthusiastic cheerleaders are to be found on the neoconservative Right: we have David "Axis of Evil" Frum, who said we shouldn’t expect Churchillian rhetoric because it is not 1940 (what an admission for a neocon to make, surely a first!). National Review’s editors agreed: "Churchillian it was not." Yet they endorsed the president’s policy prescriptions, for the most part, while disdaining his tone (not bloodthirsty enough for their tastes). Bill Kristol, one of the intellectual architects [.pdf] of the Iraq war, opined in the pages of the Washington Post that, despite the speech’s flaws – notably the mention of a "too cute by half" deadline for the beginning of U.S. withdrawal – he is over the moon that Obama has "embraced the use of military force as a key instrument of national power." The Weekly Standard editor cited an exchange between a reporter and a senior U.S. official who was asked about Iran’s insistence that the Obama surge in Afghanistan is the same as the previous Bush surge in Iraq."

Posted by: Oarwell at December 4, 2009 01:01 PM

. . . "but represented a kind of symbolic surrender of civilian authority."

--in contrast to the ACTUAL surrender of civilian authority that happened a long time ago.

But wait, a raucus chorus of lefties wants to pretend we still have meaningful civilian rule because they enjoy quetching about dirty deceitful liberal Presidents, and I might add, because pretending spares us the horrible headache of figuring out how to fix this stinking mess peacefully, which doesn't seem to work, or non-peacefully, which would definitely not work in an even more spectacularly disastrous fashion. What a mess!

But alas, the military and associated intelligence agencies known as the National Security State actually run our foreign policy and anything that touches upon it, via the media and other parts of mistah charley's delightfully named MICFiC. Whether we're flip or not, that's obviously what has happened.

Oarwell, nice quote of Smedley Butler. He's my favorite general.

Posted by: N E at December 4, 2009 01:05 PM

"War is just a racket"

I would first say, "War is THE WORST CRIME against humanity" and then add Marine Corp General Smedley Butler's description.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 4, 2009 01:58 PM

"This conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. . . .Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. . . . In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist."

Another general who was spot on, Dwight D. Eisenhower and his Presidential Farewell Address.

Posted by: Walt C at December 4, 2009 02:25 PM

Our local news went out to a bar owned by former Navy SEALS to get the "military reaction" to Obama's perfidy. They were positively shaking with outrage that that slimy civilian in to the military on everything they wanted. George Bush would have never, ever shown such weakness.

Posted by: Jimbo at December 5, 2009 03:23 PM

Let us now praise famous Commanders-in-Chief

I see Engelhardt's title is "The Commanded-in-Chief". A recent piece at (which I should have put on my list of favorite grumpy blogs) was titled "The Obama Puppet":

For those just tuning in, MICFiC stands for

M ilitary
I ndustrial
C ongressional
Fi nancial
C orporate media complex

and the elevator description is

"A conspiracy to use, abuse, and confuse the people --- to milk, shear, and slaughter the sheeple, speaking metaphorically --- except the slaughter is literal"

Walt C quotes Eisenhower's Farewell Address, which in the U.S. of A. of our dreams will go in all the history and civics textbooks. Last July there were three letters from readers published in the Financial Times about Eisenhower:


Published: July 12 2008
From Mr David Jodrey, US.

Sir, I am a contemporary of Neil Young, and appreciated your interview “The gentler side of anger” (Life & Arts, July 5/6). I look forward to seeing his new film, CSNY Déjà Vu. However, I take issue with characterising Young’s criticism of the Bush gang as “pure pop-paranoia”.

I have concluded, with much sadness, that the American militarism that brought us war with Vietnam when I was young, and war with Iraq today, is not a flaw of our socioeconomic system, but a feature. I recommend to your writer, and to all interested readers, Eugene Jarecki’s documentary film, Why We Fight, which includes President Eisenhower’s warning about the influence of the “military-industrial complex”.

Until our political leaders lead the fight against these “masters of war” (in Bob Dylan’s phrase), instead of speaking of US soldiers occupying foreign lands as “defending our freedom”, we can expect more war and ruinously expensive preparations for war.

Published: July 19 2008
From Mr Adrian P. Hewitt, UK.

Sir, Whereas Dwight Eisenhower may not have made many or even any memorable speeches during his presidency ("Language a great leader makes (you can quote me on that)", July 12/13), he did not disappoint when giving his valedictory address: he warned of the dangers of the "military-industrial complex". If you can find me a better cautionary lesson by any other leader for the half-century we have just lived through, and which remains valid today, please let me know.

From Mr Charlie West and Mrs Trish West, US.

Sir, Brian Groom (July 12/13) comments: "US President Dwight Eisenhower governed successfully for two terms while doing or saying little that anyone can recall."

However, Eisenhower's speech in Washington on April 16 1953 resonates even more strongly today: "I think that people want peace so much that one of these days governments had better get out of the way and let them have it."

Of course, Eisenhower's instincts weren't always so wise: remember that his choice for vice-president was Richard Nixon!

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 5, 2009 06:50 PM

I read somewhere that Ike was the first presidential candidate to use a political ad on television. The message was “You like Ike, I like Ike.” This was rather like “Yes we can.”

Posted by: Rob Payne at December 5, 2009 11:25 PM

What will it take to disabuse the faithful of the notion that their Mocha Messiah is just another supplicant kneeling at the zipper of the Oiligarchs/Owners for his chance to give FELLATORY satisfaction and receive the rewards for loyal service (see, e.g., THE CLENIS' DISPORTING WITH GHWB, AND THE REST OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS).

Posted by: woody at December 6, 2009 11:09 AM

Oh, those tricksey double negatives...What I meant to say was:

What will it take to disabuse the faithful of the fanciful notion that their Mocha Messiah is NOT just another supplicant kneeling at the zipper of the Oiligarchs/Owners for his chance to give FELLATORY satisfaction and receive the rewards for loyal service (see, e.g., THE CLENIS' DISPORTING WITH GHWB, AND THE REST OF THE RICH AND FAMOUS).

Posted by: woody at December 6, 2009 11:12 AM

“You like Ike, I like Ike.”

At least that was just straightforward idolatry, instead of the deceit of "yes we can," which is of course only true if "we" is Obomber and the warbankers, and not the voters.

But then again, I guess what most Obomberites wanted out of their boy was to win, and they got that.

Posted by: Marcus at December 6, 2009 11:39 AM

Bear in mind Ike didn't have the balls to make that speech until he was headin out the door. "I'm outa here...oh, by the way, been meaning to tell you...did I mention that you're fucked?"

Posted by: Harpfool at December 6, 2009 05:56 PM

Anyone interested in participating in a non-violent protest movement, please checkout

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 6, 2009 09:42 PM

In case you missed the video on the above website,

"LISTEN by Jordan Page"

Posted by: Rupa Shah at December 6, 2009 10:14 PM

imo, pepe escobar at asia times does the best analysis of the war in afghanistan and what it's actually about, which of course has absolutely nothing to do with the public rhetoric.

Posted by: N E at December 7, 2009 08:20 AM

Some amusing video up at The Real News about it too

Posted by: Save the Oocytes at December 7, 2009 09:34 AM

Woody, there's nothing I enjoy quite so much as homophobic abuse directed against people of whom someone disapproves. Not only does it show your righteousness, it shows that you're a real man, and they aren't. We homosexuals -- well, this homosexual at least -- always notices when good liberals prove their bonafides by calling someone else a cocksucker. I mean, there couldn't be anything lower, more depraved, more disgusting than that, could there?

Posted by: Duncan at December 7, 2009 10:30 AM

well, duncan, as much as it pains me to say so, and as little as i gather you'd know of such things, some of my best female friends have been extraordinary cocksuckers, too...go figger...

Posted by: woody at December 7, 2009 12:11 PM

How nice for you, Woody. How then do you justify using fellation as a pejorative? (And what difference does it make how little I know of the skills of female practitioners of the art? What I do know a lot about is the antics of homophobic males, some of whom also give excellent head.)

Posted by: Duncan at December 8, 2009 12:16 AM

@ Rupa Shah re

I came across this website recently, and am giving serious consideration going to the event in Lafayette Park, DC on Saturday. Will you be there?

Posted by: mistah charley, ph.d. at December 9, 2009 12:10 PM