Comments: New Tomdispatch

"Will Today's U.S.-Armed Ally Be Tomorrow's Enemy?"

Yes, and I don't doubt anyone here knows that's a feature not a bug.

Posted by Cloud at October 19, 2009 07:48 PM

Clearly, Zbigniew Brzezinski is a figure to watch. He's been meddling in and around Afghanistan for decades. All the terror talk is bullshit, we all know that. This is all about getting petroleum from Central Asia. Pretty simple.

Posted by Bob In Pacifica at October 20, 2009 10:02 AM

I love Tom Englehardt. (How do you not love a guy who actually says he read Eduardo Galleano's Open Veins of Latin America to his kids as a bedtime story?) Tom Hayden's article in The Nation on Kilcullen's Long War, which Englehardt links, is also very good.

The Special Operations Command (SOCOM), which was created in 1987 and has given us McChrystal and his political murder squad, is our most recent Frankenstein Monster. Even before the end of the Cold War, we had created a world economy dependent on US global military supervision. As the Cold War came to an end, the expectations of the US public were completely out of sinc with those of the National Security State, and especially with that generation of post-Vietnam officers taught and trained to expect a different type of future war that would require more secrecy and deception than ever before, lest the US public once again turn victory into defeat. That future war would be different from the war against communism, but in the eyes of our officers corps certainly no less important to US National Security interests.

Madeline Albright was right to call the United States “the indispensable nation” in the 1990s, because the US military is the linchpin of the stability of the existing world order. But what Albright and others of her liberal ilk accept with tough talk that was sometimes just rhetoric (unless you were unlucky enough to be a Serb), military men like Generals Boykin and Petraeus and McChrystal have always been eager to put into practice with cold-blooded military ruthlessness and an ever-larger measure of deception. Everything the Special Forces do, whether domestically or abroad, is shrouded in secrecy and deception, and they have become a completely unaccountable power in our presence. It should not be surprising that this engenders suspicion and even paranoia. Across history, Unaccountable Power has not behaved well, with the history of our own CIA and FBI being no exception.

Those who disagree that our Special Forces are unaccountable should pause to reflect on what checks their power, and how. Certainly not the media nor Congress, which have demonstrated their weakness and corruption over and over in the past decade. Neither the media nor the Congress has the courage to disagree with the military about anything, let alone confront the military about matters of fundamental National Security. The President? Perhaps he has some control, but only to the extent of the loyalty of the leadership of the National Security State. Which is to say, if history is any guide, not much.

These developments have already had tragic consequences, and because nothing has been done to change the situation--or even admit its existence--more tragedies will follow. They may happen abroad or at home, and all we can know for sure without further investigation is that happens will not be what we are told happened. You can count on that.

That’s the system we have allowed to be created, a system that permits reality to come into focus only occasionally, when the disconnect between what is said and what our lying eyes tell us becomes too great. Then the enormous self-protective complacency generated by both prosperity and tough times kicks in again, and the public goes back to daily life.

Just be mindful that whether or not Dietrich Bonhoeffer was right about the worst case scenario, in one sense or another we or are children are sure to be the ultimate victims of this great national project in greed, hubris, and self-deception. Stability maintained in this way cannot endure. The foundations of that stability will eventually collapse under the strain, as is already happening in the US, and when world empires collapse, the human cost historically has been so high as to defy imagination. And that was before modern technology amplified the human destructive power.

So let's see if we can get the wingnuts under control and create some new basis for a stable world that has a chance to endure. That would mean eliminating or tightly controlling these counterinsurgency branches of our military, and they won't allow that without a fight, but if we can do that, an international order built on non-agression, equality and justice just might have a chance. At least it wouldn't have as long a track record of failure as what we have now.

The first step (of many) is stopping McChrystal from getting what he wants in Afghanistan, for all the reasons that Andrew Bacevich identified in his recent article.

Posted by N E at October 20, 2009 01:08 PM

David Bromwich has an excellent article on the pro-war propganda that the NY Times is doing for the Pentagon lately to pressure Obama to approve McChrystal's counterinsurgency plan and troop request.

Posted by N E at October 25, 2009 01:03 PM