Comments: Operation Humiliate Now a Huge Success!

Well, there you have it. May I point out that YOU are listening to Henry Kissenger.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 18, 2010 12:52 AM

Will someone remind me why academia chooses to house a war criminal in an ivory tower and provide him with a classroom to pollute young minds?

Posted by knowdoubt at May 18, 2010 05:22 AM

Henry K lies about everything and loves to do it---that's his trademark. Don't waste a lot of time on what he says. He supported the Iraq war because he wanted to be a Player, which is ultimately the basis of his view about everything. And he's not alone in that, or (knowdoubt) in being a war criminal in academia. They just don't all have his panache, or pretend to be liberals and humanists as Henry does when that's in fashion. If the Designers (or Deciders as the case may be) are calling for waterboarding and rendition, Henry K will gladly go that way too.

Posted by N E at May 18, 2010 07:12 AM

It might be Kissinger Performance Art, but even in that case it's just a lie that tells the truth.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 18, 2010 07:44 AM

We're humiliating them over there so we don't have to humiliate them here.

Posted by LA Confidential Pantload at May 18, 2010 09:01 AM

We're humiliating them over there so we don't have to humiliate them here.

Posted by LA Confidential Pantload at May 18, 2010 09:01 AM

I read a quote from a prison psychiatrist once who said he'd never seen an act of violence that wasn't motivated by some perceived humiliation. Of course, I didn't think of 9/11 first and foremost as a blow to America's dick-size.

Posted by Cass at May 18, 2010 10:57 AM

Here's a little quote on the same subject from Juan Cole's blog back in September 2006, when we were in the thick of our murder, mayhem, and humiliation counterinsurgency strategy in Iraq:

http://www.juancole.com/2006/09/over-6000-killed-in-july-august-75.html

"They [the U.S. counterinsurgency planners like Petraeus and Nagl] were all reading that stupid, racist tract, Raphael Patai’s The Arab Mind, which says you can control Arabs by humiliating them. What Patai didn’t tell them is that yes, you can for a short while, but then in order to recover his self-respect, the humiliated Arab has to spend the rest of his life trying to kill you, and so do his 5 brothers and 25 cousins."

Posted by N E at May 18, 2010 11:34 AM

the US ratio of killing:deaths has been near 100:1 for a very long time. two kinds of people attack americans under that condition: the idiot and the provocateur.

Posted by hapa at May 18, 2010 12:38 PM

hapa

don't forget brothers and cousins

Posted by N E at May 18, 2010 04:41 PM

and sisters, neighbors, lovers, wives and friends.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 18, 2010 05:31 PM

what's stupid, if not revenge?

Posted by hapa at May 18, 2010 10:11 PM

What the fuck? It's not revenge, man, it's self defense. Yes, it's ineffective, but that's because we've either bombed or destroyed their governments, and replaced them with our own fucking quislings. We bombed and starved the shit out of Iraq for twenty years. I'm astonished that MORE Iraqis aren't trying to kill the shit out of us - they're actually showing incredible self-restraint. If someone were trying to bomb the shit out of Americans, you can be damn sure they would be fighting back. They're just way, way better armed than most Muslims.

So, yes, it may be stupid under the circumstances, but what else should they do? Sit back and let us bomb them?

Posted by saurabh at May 19, 2010 01:34 AM

Also: the fucking oil.

Posted by saurabh at May 19, 2010 01:36 AM

"LA Confidential Pantload"

Behave yourself.

Posted by godoggo at May 19, 2010 01:50 AM

how did everyday iraqis get the understanding that the americans were invading as an act of genocide? was there some other reason people wanted to throw rocks at tanks or rifle bullets at bombers?

shooting back was stupid. it created a war zone where there didn't have to be one and destroyed the court-of-public-opinion case. that's past, so it doesn't matter, but you asked what else people could do. one thing you do when you are dealing with real cops, which american soldiers pretty much are, is you point to their armored humvee tank and say, "take that home."

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 02:23 AM
you point to their armored humvee tank and say, "take that home."

And then what? You get arrested as an insurgent and disappeared into a military prison? You get shot? Or you simply get ignored? You're vastly overestimating the power of speech in this context. I think violence is much more useful in this regard, just like it was in Vietnam: the Americans will go home when the body count gets too high to justify their little imperialist venture. I don't know what exactly you expect Iraqis to do. I HOPE that if some aggressive alien force was in this country, shooting indiscriminately, dropping depleted uranium shells everywhere, we would not just be politely asking them to take their tanks and leave.

Also, what world do you live in where cops will leave when you tell them to?

Posted by saurabh at May 19, 2010 05:46 AM

With regard to this issue, I would like to bring to your attention a letter written by Prof. Dennis Sandole and published in the Financial Times of May 12 2010:

Sir,

While the alleged Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, may be the “first MBA terrorist” that some Pakistani intelligence officials have ever come across, Rehman Malik, Pakistan’s interior minister, should not have been surprised “at the profile of this man [as] an unlikely terrorist” (May 8).

According to forensic psychiatrist and former CIA case officer in Pakistan, Marc Sageman, whose study of 172 al-Qaeda terrorists was published in 2004, the majority of his sample were middle to upper-class, well-educated, married with children, and occupied professional or semi-professional positions, often as engineers, architects, scientists and physicians.

So, once again we have, among those in whose hands our fate lies, a disconnect between perception and reality that surely must be undermining global efforts to understand and respond to the implications of core identities, vicariously shared humiliation, needs for justice and transcendent meaning, and other factors that can turn a healer or a financial analyst into a murderer.

Dennis J.D. Sandole,

Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution,

George Mason University

Arlington, VA, US


Posted by mistah charley, ph.d., j.s.p.s. at May 19, 2010 07:45 AM

saurabh

You wrote that like in Vietnam, "the Americans will go home when the body count gets too high to justify their little imperialist venture."

I think it's important to understand what "justify" means in that sentence. The history of the end of the war in Vietnam shows the importance of restoring a strong anti-war sentiment to American politics. Nixon really did decide to end the war in Vietnam (though in combination with a terrible escalation) because he wanted to be a successful two-term President, which wasn't otherwise possible. (Ike had predicted he couldn't do it.) Nixon HAD TO end the Vietnam war for selfish political reasons. So even though he was an evil bastard, he did it, betraying his China Lobby kill-all-commies friends in the process, for which they made him pay with his Presidency not long after (See e.g. The 40 Years War; Family of Secrets).

What we have now is quite a step back. Now we have a President who probably doesn't like war much, let alone two at once, but goes along with all that war because he views that as politically expedient if not necessary. No politician can be trusted to act against his political interest as he perceives it.

Posted by N E at May 19, 2010 08:27 AM

@saurabh

people can only respond to outside pressure on an individual basis? can't even manage tribal unity? then why have a country.

the cops thing was metaphorical. we agree that even the FBI is not like secret police under pinochet or stalin, right? that a person has rights and remedies to exercise?

there's a similar difference btwn iraq invasion 2.0 and, say, japan invading china. maybe it's racist -- with so much money involved how can you say? -- but it isn't personal. if (unlike somalia) the merkin powers-that-be want something you have bad enough to occupy your land, and the hardware intimidates you into trying to drive the invaders out by shooting back, you may instead extend the troops' presence, by validating their 'safety & security' sales pitch.

9/11 was unstoppable pretext for grabbing that last light sweet crude. the vision of a mideast south korea or okinawa hasn't been abandoned. what did everybody die for, after the initial push? the right to vote? can someone prove that that was gained by the gun?

---who needs to invade the united states? what would be the point?

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 09:23 AM

if those sadistic assholes can call torture bans 'quaint' then i can say the same about massive land invasions.

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 09:44 AM

Um, N E -- Nixon campaigned in '68 with a claim that he had a secret plan to end the Vietnam War. Instead he escalated and extended it, though with the cover of "Vietnamization", i.e., the idea that South Vietnamese soldiers should do the fighting and dying in order to lower American military casualties. (I specify "military" because, of course, very few American civilians are killed when we invade other countries.) This supports saurabh's point, as does the history of US aggression since Vietnam, which until 2003 aimed at sparing US military lives so that the public wouldn't get restive. This strategy was pretty successful until we invaded Iraq.

Nixon really did decide to end the war in Vietnam (though in combination with a terrible escalation) because he wanted to be a successful two-term President, which wasn't otherwise possible. (Ike had predicted he couldn't do it.) Nixon HAD TO end the Vietnam war for selfish political reasons.

However, he didn't end the Vietnam war, whatever he "decided" -- I know, he was a secret idealist who couldn't end the war because of the intelligence agencies and the hardliners in the Pentagon. The war continued into his second term, and it was I believe Gerald Ford who got the last Americans out; so much for your talk about his second term. Nixon wanted to lower US casualties while maintaining US control of Southeast Asia, and that was what he did, ending the war without ending it. Turns out Ike was right, as if that part of it matters.

Obama might be trying to play the same game; I suspect he is. Unfortunately, Nixon was impeached for comparative trivia, not for his really serious crimes, much like Clinton.

Posted by Duncan at May 19, 2010 09:53 AM

hapa,saurabh,n.e., et al.,

Some important differences between Vietnam and Iraq/Afghanistan: 1) No draft. A volunteer force, ostensibly willing individually to roll the dice. Hence, much of the pressure is off the politicos; 2) Privatization. Contractors taking some of the risks, but also raking in the bucks. That's a built-in constituency for perpetual conflict - no conflict, no paycheck; 3) The rise of Robo-War. Pimple-faced gamers blowing up people from thousands of miles away using drones. Lowered US body counts, while still bringing the hammer down. Sure, there's blowback, but see items 1 & 2.

Faced with, on the one hand, by a motivated cadre of ideologically-motivated Civilizational Warriors (who strangely enough never fight or send their spawn to fight...) and their cheering section of monetarily-motivated contractors/MIC buddies, and on the other hand, by a roiling mass of Consumers (Citizens? How very quaint.) persuaded by focus-group-honed propaganda that the War On Terror must go on, and themselves minimally implicated by military service or taxation tractably

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at May 19, 2010 11:00 AM

(Picking up where I left off.)

...taxation traceably linked to the War, who do you think will get the ear of the politicos and drive the policies?

Sigh.

Posted by JerseyJeffersonian at May 19, 2010 11:08 AM

Turns out Ike was right

and not just about Nixon.

A couple of years ago a letter mentioning Ike was published in the Financial Times. It said, in part:

'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.'

I would add to this that America needs to do what Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary president Ergun Caner apparently needs to do – repent. Through a combination of circumstances (i.e. cable channel-surfing at the right time), recently I found myself watching the opening ceremonies of a NASCAR race near Richmond, VA, not far from where I went to high school. It was a glittering pastiche of religion and patriotism - the Pledge of Allegiance led by a quartet of soldiers (black and white, male and female) from Fort Lee, where my late father Colonel Charley served for several years; the U.S. Marine Band performing the National Anthem; a minister asking God's blessing not only on "the sport we love" but "our soldiers overseas, defending our freedom".

To the audience, it was ritual giving visible and audible form to their Love of Country, God and their fellow Americans. I'm sure they swelled with pride as they pledged loyalty to the Flag, symbol of our forefathers and the sacrifices they made to give us all we have today. Meanwhile, as I watched this spectacle at home, I felt sick at heart as I thought that this handsome facade means, in practice, not just wholesale theft, but mass murder.

What will it take to rip the mask off, to break the trance?

Recently I was reading the Wikipedia entry about Muhammad Asad, born Leopold Weiss – a remarkable story. In looking at the publicity materials for the documentary film about him, titled A Road to Mecca, I found the following sentence: “I fell in love with Islam,” he said matter-of-factly shortly before his death in 1992, “but I overestimated the Muslims.”

Similarly, I feel like someone who fell in love with the idea of America that I learned as a boy, but has been greatly disappointed by the reality of it, and of us.

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d. at May 19, 2010 11:10 AM

It is no surprise that the Islamist terrorists are well-educated elites: that is ALWAYS the type that fancies itself to be the revolutionary vanguard.

Boo-hoo...Faisal Shazad didn't get the respect and position he thought he was entitled to as the son of a heroic fighter in the mighty and glorious Pakistani air force...didn't these foolish Americans recognize his innate charm and presence? Why wasn't he making millions of dollars a year?

This guy was a spoiled brat...I am so glad he will sit in prison forever. What an idiot. His "bomb" was absurd...Jon's high school chem lab partner built a much better one without any assistance or financing from a ring of international terrorists...is this the best they can do...a bunch of fireworks and the wrong kind of fertilizer tied to a can of gasoline? He TRAINED to learn how to do that? Moron.

Honestly I think that most Muslim immigrants who come here are delighted to find out that hard work actually does pay off here, and that unlike their countries of origin, society is not completely dominated by a degenerate class of ameritorious elites. Shazad was just bitter that he wasn't given instant country club membership.

Posted by Seth at May 19, 2010 11:56 AM

Want to stop the wars? Stop paying for them. Its YOUR money financing them. SURE it'll be tough to do. It'll take some creative thinking to figure out how and how to talk others into the same thing. It'll cost YOU (personally)in some very important and unpleasant ways as ALL sacrifices eventually do. BUT then, on the other hand, one might save a wedding party from slaughter, or a town from bombing, think of the children.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 12:08 PM

Shazad was just bitter that he wasn't given instant country club membership

Exactly right, Seth. His stated concern in a private email written four years ago about people being killed in "Palestine, Afghan, Iraq, Chechnya" was all elaborate cover. If he'd just gotten that investment banking job he THOUGHT he deserved his anger would have melted away like the dew. Thank goodness you're here to point that out.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 19, 2010 12:15 PM

OK Jon, so maybe you don't agree with Shazhad's methods, but you think his heart was in the right place...is that what you are saying?

Faisal Shazhad is hardly the first example of an angry person who masked his personal bitterness with political righteousness...it is called "denial."

Why did he take the oath of citizenship if he was so aggrieved? No one made him be here. He didn't flee Pakistan because of persecution or even economic hardship. If he was so mad four years ago, why did he remain here and pay taxes into our war machine?

I can't imagine that I could move to Pakistan and set up house there, practice my religion, go to school, get a job, prosper, etc. I say to Shazhad and all the other immigrants--how about a little gratitude?

Posted by Seth at May 19, 2010 12:35 PM

Seth, if nothing else you're certainly a useful reminder of the mind-boggling hatefulness of which human beings are capable. So thanks for that.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 19, 2010 12:47 PM

Um, Duncan, I know Nixon campaigned on ending the war withhis secret plan, and about the treason he committed by sabotaging LBJ's peace efforts through his backchannel to the South Vietnamese by way of Anna Chennault. That wasn't what I was talking about.

Some really good books explain what was going on in Vietnam, which was more than you describe. I think the best starting place isn't Vietnam but Korea, and I think far and away the best thing to read is Bruce Cumings' history, which gets widely underreported and ignored on the excuse that he's a commie, but I'd say actually because he's the best historian on Korea and very convincingly lays so much blame at the door of the US.

Franz Schurman's The Logic of World Power is very good and explanatory about what led LBJ to his peculiar decisions, as is Peter Dale Scott's The War Conspiracy, which might turn you off because of that C word. That seems to be an off-switch for thinking for you, which is too bad, because otherwise you're on the right track.

I didn't say Nixon was any good, and he certainly wasn't idealistic, but Nixon was self-interested and did know that he would be through politically if he didn't end Vietnam, which the real hawks in military and at Langley were trying to turn into a big war. Say what you will, Nixon did end the Vietnam war even if the final collapse of the South wasn't until Ford's term, though as I said Nixon ended it at a terrible cost. If there's a hell, Nixon will end up there, but he did change our Asia policy for the better, and Vietnamization and The Nixon Doctrine were a little more than you are suggesting. (On that read Superimperialism by Michael Hudson, as mistah charley pdh so kindly suggested to me long ago.) The opening to China was Nixon's bold stroke, and for it he was taken down by the right wing. Seriously, read The 40 Years War, the first half of which is I think quite good. And read Russ Baker's Family of Secrets while you're at it. If you read all that stuff, you'll start to see some things that you don't believe, and seemingly won't ever believe when I say them. And maybe you'll start to see why I like Lily Tomlin's quote so much: "No matter how cynical you become, it's impossible to keep up."

Posted by N E at May 19, 2010 01:06 PM

@Duncan - I think NE's history is better than yours as far as Vietnam is concerned. The Paris Peace Accords were signed in January, 1973 - which would be the start of Nixon's second term.

Fighting continued after the Accords, so I leave it to you to argue about whose side this observation supports. But my personal knowledge about the topic indicates that what we call the "Vietnam War" ended in 1975 only because the Americans quit fighting in 1973.

I have seen the areas of the Central Highlands which the North Vietnamese penetrated to launch their offensive in 1975. I don't know what military historians think, but it seemed pretty clear to me that the 1975 NVA offensive could never have succeeded opposed by American air power.

Posted by Aaron Datesman at May 19, 2010 01:17 PM

DON'T WORRY Seth, Shazhad IS getting some paybacks for his wayward ungratefulness, even as we speak. My guess is his daddy needs to keep a weather eye out for any and all model airplanes flying over head too. Those Hellfire missles are??? are hell.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 01:17 PM

Reviewing Viet Nam is a waste of time---WE learned nothing from the experience. (Example-8 years, 2 quagmires, 0 end in sight.) Take comfort, WE still have GITMO.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 01:31 PM

mistah charley, ph.d.

I concur with your sentiments and likewise identify very much with Mr. Asad's observation.

seth

You wrote: "I think that most Muslim immigrants who come here are delighted to find out that . . . unlike their countries of origin, society is not completely dominated by a degenerate class of ameritorious elites."

Actually, I believe that the degenerate class of ameritorious elites that dominates their societies reports to the degenerate class of ameritorious elites that dominates our society, but perhaps at this point it's a dotted-line reporting relationship even though it definitely did not start out that way (see America's Kingdom by Robert Vitalis). And I get the strong feeling that there still isn't too much real independence out there in the various Perians Gulf Kingdoms or for that matter in Egypt and Pakistan, let alone Iraq. (I like Tariq Ali and Saud Aburish for the Islamic views on all this.)

Anyway, enough of that. For some reason I can't stop saying 'degenerate class of ameritorious elites' out loud over and over. It seems to have put me into a trance, which I fear may lead me to try to nefariously combine used kitty litter, pre-soaked charcoal, and hot sauce. If it does, you may disavow responsibility.

Posted by N E at May 19, 2010 01:43 PM

FACE FACTS--- Shoe Bomber-NOW YOU gotta take your shoes off at the airport. Underwear Bomber-NOW YOU gotta stand naked at some point in front of TSA. Bank Bomber- I'm guessing blast walls on Wall Street and Times Square next. Meanwhile, in Afghanistan, 30 years of war is looking like 40 years of war.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 01:46 PM

NOW as YOU stand naked and shoeless behind a blast wall, waiting to get stuffed into an airplane, under armed guard, by rude airport employees you've just paid $800.00 bucks to and told them YOUR life history, tell me---Who's humiliated now? (Hint-Its what listening to Henry Kissenger gets YOU.)

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 02:07 PM

can't effectively boycott defense spending. pentagon has adamantium credit card.

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 05:40 PM

ps. symbolic gestures do matter.

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 05:42 PM
if (unlike somalia) the merkin powers-that-be want something you have bad enough to occupy your land, and the hardware intimidates you into trying to drive the invaders out by shooting back, you may instead extend the troops' presence, by validating their 'safety & security' sales pitch.

You MAY, of course, do that. But what do you think is going to happen if you DON'T shoot back? They'll pack up and leave? They WON'T loot your country and steal your oil? Pretty much the only thing that makes imperialists leave is the fact that you won't stop shooting back - or at least actively resisting in some form or another. Sure, some other facts might also be involved, but that's a basic principle. They will not go quietly; they must be thrown out.

As for examples of "shooting back" working out against a better-armed foe, see any number of resistance movements - see the United States, for example, or Lebanon in 2006.

Also, regarding the "personal", maybe you should look at this again: http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Everyone%20Else/images-2/abu-ghraib-torture.jpg
How much more personal can it get?

Posted by saurabh at May 19, 2010 05:54 PM
I say to Shazhad and all the other immigrants--how about a little gratitude?

Err - so, what, you think dropping bombs on someone's country of origin should, reasonably, have no material effect on their attitudes? That expatriation should somehow erase all their ties to that country, their relatives there, the people they grew up with and identified with? Do you, also, find it completely unreasonable to be mad about the fact that the US is indiscriminately murdering Pakistani civilians?

Shazhad's response is extreme and decidedly misplaced, but I wouldn't deny that his anger is real, or that the opportunities available in the US somehow absolve it of guilt for crimes overseas:
VENKMAN: You volunteered, didn't you? We're paying you, aren't we?
STUDENT: Yeah, but I didn't know you were going to be giving me electric shocks!

Not really expecting a well-reasoned response, just making the rhetorical point...

Posted by saurabh at May 19, 2010 06:17 PM
You MAY, of course, do that. But what do you think is going to happen if you DON'T shoot back? They'll pack up and leave? They WON'T loot your country and steal your oil?

in the situation of iraq, there's no way to know. it seems like when land grabs aren't done through finance, they're done under the cover of protecting the people in the fog of war. it's not ordinary robbery.

i can't say the baathists' bluster was stupid because i don't understand all the risks they thought they had to deal with between their american punishers and regional rivals.

but i'm decently confident saying that if the invasion had been met without military resistance it would have been a big political mess for the american forces.

Pretty much the only thing that makes imperialists leave is the fact that you won't stop shooting back - or at least actively resisting in some form or another.

'other' doesn't play into the terrorism narrative.

As for examples of "shooting back" working out against a better-armed foe, see any number of resistance movements - see the United States, for example, or Lebanon in 2006.

i'm throwing out any justifications from cold war or earlier. we're in different time now where ideology or ethnicity aren't universal explainer.

lebanon is very different. despite their relatively greater military power, israel's strategic position is weak. they're too close to their enemies and too small (israel population = 1/2 cairo's metro area) to afford a real war.

the united states has neither of those problems.

Also, regarding the "personal", maybe you should look at this again: http://scrapetv.com/News/News%20Pages/Everyone%20Else/images-2/abu-ghraib-torture.jpg How much more personal can it get?

they were punishing 'terrorists.'

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 07:06 PM

ps. if the USDoD's direct civilian employees were a city, it'd be the biggest city in israel.

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 07:34 PM

hard work actually does pay off here, and that unlike their countries of origin, society is not completely dominated by a degenerate class of ameritorious elites

I didn't realise Seth was from Finland.

Posted by weaver at May 19, 2010 08:33 PM

The fact remains that Pakistanis, etc come here for a reason: there is far more economic opportunity in the US than elsewhere. Note that I stress "opportunity." Pakistanis moving to Japan have zero chance of entering Japanese society in any meaningful way, while the children of aspirational Pak-Americans will assimilate very quickly.

Pretending as Weaver does that America does not offer economic opportunities to people who are willing to work hard are just not dealing with reality.

Saurabh would have it that one can opt in to the American experience, vow to cherish the flag, and still want to sow mayhem as a legitimate political expression.

Sure, Shazhad is entitled to be upset about US policy in Asia. But why did he then become a citizen? His affinities are clearly callow and specious. He is either a perfidious traitor or an idiot.

When I say that our society is not totally dominated by degenerate elites, I am not referring to the ruling class, who clearly do fit that description. Rather, I mean that America does possess a professional and technical class that requires diligence, native wit and gumption to enter and thrive in, unlike backwaters like Pakistan or the Arab world where everything runs on
family connections and patronage.

Posted by Seth at May 19, 2010 09:35 PM

"society is not completely dominated by a degenerate class of ameritorious elites"

It's scary how much I find myself agreeing with NE, despite our little differences about 9/11 and other things. But like him I can't help but be mesmerized by the phrase above. I just stare at it, smiling in a goofy sort of way. It does make you feel a certain amount of pride, knowing that our ruling class of war criminals isn't totally without merit, nor are they utterly degenerate. I assume we're speaking about quantum degeneracy, because morally speaking they're pretty far gone.

Posted by Donald Johnson at May 19, 2010 09:38 PM

I'm so glad that everybody likes my little phrase!!!

Posted by Seth at May 19, 2010 09:46 PM

"Saurabh would have it that one can opt in to the American experience, vow to cherish the flag, and still want to sow mayhem as a legitimate political expression."

Where did Saurabh say that an individual has the right to kill random American citizens? Not that I blame you for the misrepresentation--after all, it does make it easier to win internet debates and nothing is more important than that. As for sowing mayhem, well, yeah, that is part of the American experience. It's just that we usually like to farm this out to the military.

I agree that people who plant bombs are moral imbeciles. But then, our foreign policy seems designed to incite them.

Posted by Donald Johnson at May 19, 2010 09:59 PM

As long as we are calling each other out for demolishing strawmen, I'd like to ask Jon where he sees me espousing "hatefulness?"

In any case, Saurabh does defend Faisal's "anger" while eliding his homicidal intent.

Posted by Seth at May 19, 2010 10:15 PM

"but i'm decently confident saying that if the invasion had been met without military resistance it would have been a big political mess for the american forces."

In Fallujah in April and May 2003, it was met with non-violent resistance. The Iraqis got shot and dozens killed for trying to get the US troops out of a local school.

I don't think these incidents, before they took up violence, had any impact on the American forces or the American people. Most likely, they did not even know about them.

Posted by Susan at May 19, 2010 10:42 PM

susan-- i really do mean from the start, as organized response.

Posted by hapa at May 19, 2010 11:01 PM

WE ARE ALL degenerate ameritorious elites, and in fact AMERICAN brand degenerate ameritorious elites. WE suck up the LIONS SHARE of EVERYTHING on the planet and are working on ---beyond. My guess is Shahzad came here with every intention of doing something other than "fitting in" with the rest of the degenerates. Possibly he felt that citizenship would further his cause.
Let us concider that THIS LAND was STOLEN from the Native Americans. WE GOOD AMERICAN CITIZENS aren't about to give it back and don't seem to mind one damn bit that WE live on stolen property--i.e. degenerates.
My guess is that Shahzad sees US for what WE are and Seth (also by definition, every last one of the rest of US, as WE ALL are GOOD AMERICAN CITIZENS) does not.
As for deserving merit or not, I didn't steal this great land, my Grandfathers did, so I suppose its a judgement call.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 19, 2010 11:26 PM

Seth:

As long as we are calling each other out for demolishing strawmen, I'd like to ask Jon where he sees me espousing "hatefulness?"

You certainly are a man with a lot of questions, Seth.

Susan:

"but i'm decently confident saying that if the invasion had been met without military resistance it would have been a big political mess for the american forces."

In Fallujah in April and May 2003, it was met with non-violent resistance. The Iraqis got shot and dozens killed for trying to get the US troops out of a local school.

I actually agree with hapa. The older I get the more I'm convinced that pacifism is both (1) the only rational and moral response to violence, and (2) completely impossible for human beings.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 19, 2010 11:51 PM

Quod erat demonstrandum strikes again, I see!

Posted by seth at May 19, 2010 11:59 PM

Donald Johnson

I bet that does scare you. I'm scared to agree with me too. But for me it's a bit late. All I can do is NOT teach my kids this stuff, which does unfortunately mean they will grow up a bit politically naive, but better that than cynical before their time.

It's too bad that these things can't be fully understood without some damage--what Barbara Bush called spoiling her beautiful mind. But as Nietzsche said, if you look into the abyss, the abyss will look into you. (I bet you didn't realize that Barbara Bush knew some Nietzsche!)

Posted by N E at May 20, 2010 01:52 AM

The figures about middle class enlistment only show up in a Heritage Foundation study from 1999, later repeated by the DoD.

But the Heritage study admits, from the beginning, that it has no access to recruit economic data, because the DoD doesn't collect it, so it's taking aggregate wealth from recruitment heavy areas and making extrapolations.

Posted by Jack Crow at May 20, 2010 09:34 AM

Don't take me too literally, NE. I agree with your attitude on some thing--you don't romanticize violence (some lefties do, if it's revolutionary) and you're suspicious of the military without demonizing everyone in it. I agree with that stuff. I've already said what I disagree with.

Posted by Donald Johnson at May 20, 2010 10:02 AM

I'm getting ready to go on vacation for a month, so while I'll have lots of free time in a few days, I'm kinda busy now. But a few things cry out for reply. It was entertaining to see N E try to dodge around the facts that he'd said Nixon knew he had to end the war in Vietnam if he wanted to be a two-term president, while acknowledging that Nixon had 1) conspired to lengthen and extend the war even before he was elected, and 2) the war lasted into Nixon's second term, yet he still became a two-term president. And c) I've read Bruce Cumings and other commie historians.

Aaron Datesman argued that N E's history was better than mine, pointing to the signing of the Paris Accords at the beginning of Nixon's second term. But that only supports my argument -- Nixon succeeded in becoming a two term president while continuing and escalating the war, to even more horrific levels. (The Cambodian "incursion" was 1970, for example.)

I'll leave aside the Nixon gang's announcement immediately after the accords were signed, of its intention to violate them, which it did. But that's another issue.

hapa:

lebanon is very different. despite their relatively greater military power, israel's strategic position is weak. they're too close to their enemies and too small (israel population = 1/2 cairo's metro area) to afford a real war.

Despite Israel's inability to "afford a real war" (hey, not to worry! the US will faithfully pay for it!), it occupied Lebanon quite brutally for 20 years until armed resistance drove them out. (I just finished reading Joe Sacco's excellent Footnotes in Gaza, which Jon ought to look at if he hasn't. It's far superior to the bits of Waltzing with Bashir that he touted some time ago. But I mention it because of all the Israeli yammering about weapons being smuggled into Gaza through the tunnels! the tunnels! As if vastly greater amounts of more powerful and sophisticated weapons weren't being shipped openly into Israel the whole time. But pay no attention to the arms dealer behind the curtain.)

Posted by Duncan at May 20, 2010 11:15 AM

Killing civilians IS what YOU PAY for. When one goes to war, usually a quick victory over the opposing army is what the agressive population wants and PAYS for and vice versa. Once the "enemy army" is defeated and disbanded as in Iraq then the only ones left ARE civilians. "Mission Accomplished" IS where the Iraqi Army became nonexistant and ALL who served in that army became civilians.
In Afghanistan the Bush Administration OPENLY claimed that there was NO Afghan Army and that ALL fighters, all who carried a gun or grenade, were "Enemy Combatants" NOT REGULAR SOLDIERS, therefore civilians, not entitled to The Geneva Conventions concerning the treatment of soldiers.
Meanwhile, WE, THE AMERICAN CITIZENS as a whole CHEERED and PAID for the wars to continue. PAID to bomb and shoot peoples whom WE either REFUSED to call soldiers, therefore WE designate them as CIVILIANS, or disbanded their military and MADE them CIVILIANS in the world's eyes and OURS. And so U&I R PAYING 2 JUST kill civilians, only.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 20, 2010 12:01 PM

It seems woodworking plans comment "disappeared". Curious!

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 20, 2010 12:10 PM

Emptywheel yesterday linked to an LA Times story reporting that a Pakistani major has been arrested in connection with Shahzad's activities.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-pakistan-major-20100519,0,1667275.story

So once again there is one-degree of separation (not six) between a terrorist or would-be terrorist and the military/intel of a client state, albeit in the case of Pakistan a confusing client with its own agenda (Above all others read Tariq Ali on Pakistan.)

All this talk about enlistment and recruitment data means little if some of the exogenous variables are really endogenous, in statistics jargon. Which means in regular talk, if someone was using Shahzad, then we really should be talking about who is chosen for these things, not who chooses to do them. That's a different type of question and amounts to asking what kinds of recruits would be more useful to someone planning this sort of terrorism. Frankly, I think it would be a lot easier to use people with some education and traiting and exposure to the US and Europe for these particular crimes. Shahzad didn't exactly write the book on how to do this sort of thing, but taking some poor Pashtun kid who doesn't even speak English to Times Square would have been difficult long before the bomb-making started. Plus, we have no idea whether whoever was behind this whole plan even wanted a successful bomb. Perhaps exactly what was supposed to happen did happen. How does one know?

We get bombarded constantly (so to speak) with the narrative of terrorism, so it feels compellingly familiar, but it's also a very pat explanation that is never proved by verifiable facts. What is going on is really just assumed and abundantly repeated, because proof by repitition is effective. And the end result is that the only permitted argument is whether our brutal military policies help stop terrorism or actually cause more of it by creating all these Shahzads. That's the acceptable debate, beloved by mainstream politicians and media and even blogs, and it essentially reduces the whole debate to what kind of military empire we should use to occupy the world--an empire that follows the Geneva Convention and civilized rules and makes us more popular around the world or an empire that fights barbarism with barbarism and makes us feared by our enemies. In many ways, all anyone really talks about is whether our enemies get a trial before we hang them.

Shake your head to clear your mind and ask how we ended up there. It was neatly done, and it has much to do with how we went from talking about a peace dividend fifteen years ago to miltarism on steroids so powerful today that it now looks like it will never stop growing.

Posted by N E at May 20, 2010 12:58 PM

"whether our brutal military policies help stop terrorism or actually cause more of it by creating all these Shahzads. That's the acceptable debate, beloved by mainstream politicians and media and even blogs, and it essentially reduces the whole debate to what kind of military empire we should use to occupy the world"

Uh, no. That's the acceptable debate in the mainstream, when it even gets to the point of mentioning the fact that our policies are brutal. But you can say the policies are brutal, they incite Shahzads and then say NO to any kind of global military empire. It's the mainstream Obama supporters who want a kinder, gentler (Predator drone using) empire.

I'd accept that there might be some interesting connections between the terrorists who attack us and the CIA (or whoever), but will leave that aside unless or until there's real evidence for the plot you imply. But you don't have to believe that every act of violence in the world is secretly directed by Langley (yes, I've decided to strawman you as you strawman everyone you argue with here on these things). You can just assume that people everywhere have a similar range of reactions to high explosives when they are aimed at them--some react by plotting revenge.
Combine that with some basic morality most of us learn (and maybe later unlearn) in kindergarten and that's all you need to oppose a global military empire.

Posted by Donald Johnson at May 20, 2010 01:58 PM

Duncan

Have a nice vacation!

On substance, Nixon prolonged the war by sabotaging LBJ's efforts to end it so that he, Nixon, could get elected the first time. Nixon had to then end the war so that he, Nixon, would have a chance to get elected the second time, or else he would have met the same fate as LBJ (because of him). Nixon didn't want done to him what he had done to LBJ, and he was very aggressive about protecting his own personal interests. Had the opening to China not occurred (which was kept a total secret and pissed off the Pentagon), and had there not been dramatic developments toward peace in Vietnam rather than further escalation toward all-out war with China and maybe even Russia as the hawks always wanted, Nixon would never have won in 72. The war was too unpopular. That's why Ike thought Nixon was screwed, and that's why Nixon negotiated an end to the war while simultaneously forcing the North Vietnamese to negotiate through his order of appalling bombing/war crimes. Thus, Nixon did partly the right thing--though with tactics befitting the Nazis and for selfish reasons. I think you could understand this if you would stop being so determined to disagree with me.

Now I'm sure Nixon had some other motivations, such as attaining Presidential Greatness and enjoying the thrill of playing Diplomacy with Breshnev and Mao, but a lot of what he did he did so he could succeed and get reelected. Cooling off the Cold War with Russia and ending the war in Vietnam and pitting Russia against China and reducing the infernal budding independence of the Europeans and implementing the Nixon Doctrine to use more proxies like the Shah so that we could keep the international economy running after the demise of the Breton Woods system--that was all bound together in Nixon's Grand Strategy, which he didn't run by the JCS or Langley for approval and which they came to believe largely served the interests of him, Nixon. That pissed them all off, and they promptly made sure that Nixon got his. If you think Bob Woodward and the Washington Post are powerful liberal interests, you have been conned. Woodward was naval intelligence and always right wing, and the Post was never much different from Voice of America. It was The Right that took Nixon down. So yes, his plan did go off the rails.

Posted by N E at May 20, 2010 03:36 PM

Donald Johnson

There are whole mountains of evidence. What is lacking is the sort of concise, elegant, conclusive proof that can end all debate and make something indisputable to everyone. And that is lacking because it lives where the unicorns do.

You are certainly correct that terrorism could exist without the direction or facilitation of any intelligence or military agency, because if people don't have tanks or planes or helicopters or Predators they can at least make some bombs. I'm not suggesting that terrorist groups and other countries can't do this stuff too. I'm saying it's basically just guesswork as to what has gone on, both with specific cases like Shahzad and in general, just because there's very little verifiable information; it almost all comes from intelligence sources, and those guys don't even pretend to have any responsibility to tell the truth. We routinely are given information disseminated by professional liars, and yet we're all supposed to act like it's credible. Go figure.

The upshot of this is that there really is little or no verifiable evidence for what you assume to be happening either, and there are more compelling reasons to mistrust the official narratives and the media than there are to believe them. Our military and intel agencies, and those of our clients like Pakistan's ISI and the Saudis and Mossad and MI6 developed relationships with these "terrorist" groups long ago and used them in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Kosovo and the Balkans, and Central Asia for well over a decade before the Global War on Terror became our official jihad. We have in our new era changed the name for marketing reasons, but it's still the same American jihad, undertaken for mostly the same reasons and serving the same ends. And the biggest beneficiary has been the National Security State, not those guys in Guantanamo or the mysterious OBL, who indeed must have great power because even being dead doesn't stop him from sending timely tapes to taunt people and piss them off.

I sometimes think nobody could make this stuff up, but then I remember that Orwell pretty much did make it up, though frankly it wasn't new in his day either. Sometime read Otto Eisenschiml's 1936 book Why was Lincoln Murdered? for an eye-opening look at the politics of the Civil War and the attempt to pin Lincoln's assasination of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. It's a fabulous book by a very careful author, and it's well worth reading to get a more realistic look at Lincoln, the Radical Republicans, and the slimy and very powerful Secretary of War, Edwin Stanton. The book is a little harder to find than something by Doris Kearns Goodwin, but I bet you won't be disappointed if you do get your hands on a copy.

Posted by N E at May 20, 2010 04:26 PM

@hapa at May 19, 2:23 am:

WTF?

On April 28, 2003, a large group of Iraqi men in Fallujah were doing just as you recommend when U.S. troops (1st Battalion, 325th Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division) fired on them and killed 17 of the demonstrators and wounded many more, at least 70.

Just FYI. I suppose you believe the troops' excuse that someone in the crowd fired on them, which makes the demonstrators "idiots or provocateurs". Because, of course, cops and U.S. military never lie about the circumstances under which they mow down opposition.

Posted by Nell at May 20, 2010 05:29 PM

{Sigh}. Unwilling to wade through the entirety of the comments, I missed that Susan made my point much earlier in the discussion.

Posted by Nell at May 20, 2010 05:34 PM

Nell,

Just speaking for myself, I think that's where the pacifism rubber meets the pacifism road. If Iraqis had been able to absorb that and more (much more) punishment without responding in any way, I believe it would have been significantly harder for the US to maintain the occupation and would have led to many fewer Iraqi deaths in the end.

Of course, the fact that they didn't do this is no criticism of them specifically, since no humans anywhere ever have.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 20, 2010 05:36 PM

jonathan schwarz

Good point, and one demoralizing little problem is also that even when people are really, really patient and avoid acting on violent impulses, someone can come along and blow up a mosque or something and blame it on them, thereby provoking retaliation and precipitating a bloodbath.

But Jonathan Schell says it can be done. As I recall, he pointed to the Orange Revolution back in 17th century England as basically bloodless, and the Velvet Revolution when the Cold War ended and the more recent colored revolutions. And of course Gandhi and MLK. But I agree it seems pretty close to impossible most of the time.

Posted by N E at May 20, 2010 06:11 PM
"whether our brutal military policies... actually cause more of it by creating all these Shahzads. That's the acceptable debate"

I think its been accepted to the degree that USGov pays lip service to ameliorating civilian casualties (as it has in the past). But the 'establishment debate' is predictably narrowed when taken to certain logical conclusions- like the military presence being inherently self defeating. Rarely internalized, let alone processed. You'd think a media that revels in being hypothetically scared shitless would be a little more tickled by all these future attacks our policies may be engendering. That bogeyman is still heavily outweighed by that other bogeyman, what happens if we STOP killing?

Posted by BenP at May 20, 2010 06:18 PM

Used copies of Why Was Lincoln Murdered are available for $6 plus postage, or you can read the entire book online (during a free trial, I suppose - they have free trials available at this membership service)

http://www.questia.com/PM.qst?a=o&d=77351124

It's in print, by the way - $45

Posted by mistah charley, ph.d., j.s.p.s. at May 21, 2010 12:49 AM

Jon - I agree that pacifism is the only rational and moral response to violence.

And I wish the Iraqis had stuck with it for a year or two at least. It might have worked if we actually had a functioning press here in the USA. But we don't, so.....who knows?

But then, once someone sees a loved one blown in half by foreign invading troops, it is hard to stick to it. Thereby making your second point also true.

Posted by Susan at May 22, 2010 12:21 AM

From Pepe Escobar, what elites really worry about(which may explain some of their behavior):

"At a recent Council on Foreign Relations speech in Montreal, luminary Dr Zbigniew "let's conquer Eurasia" Brzezinski warned that a "global political awakening", along with infighting among the global elite, was something to be deeply feared. The former US national security adviser remarked that "for the first time in all of human history mankind is politically awakened - that's a total new reality - it has not been so for most of human history"."

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/LE22Ak01.html

(Hillary Clinton as a dominatrix---yuck.)

Posted by N E at May 22, 2010 10:48 AM

@nell

sorry if i sounded like blaming victims. the only way to escape big messes is to critique everyone's game plans.

mmm, usa military has two kinda-fixed factors (staggering power, domestic cultural/economic importance) and some looser (goals, rules, cultural learning curve, public sentiment, international dependence, practical consequences, and so on).

post-9/11, iraq being america's national punching bag, oil being insecure -- what were the reasons to think shooting back would be a deterrent?

whether soldiers committed war crimes doesn't change it.

but the tragedy, beyond american greed & sadism, is how few people, how few shots fired it takes to disrupt non-lethal resistance, on either side.

Posted by hapa at May 22, 2010 02:05 PM

Speaking of evangelical scandals and Liberty University in the same breath, readers can Google “Appendix F: Thou Shalt Not Steal” (line-by-line proof that THE Jerry Falwell’s 1981 “Fundamentalist Phenomenon” book was a huge plagiarism of George Dollar’s 1973 “History of Fundamentalism in America”!). Also Google “Thomas Ice (Bloopers).” Ice is a prof at LU whose “Ph.D” was “obtained” from a tiny Texas school that was fined by the state of Texas for illegally issuing degrees! When “Dr.” Ice reproduced in 1989 Margaret Macdonald’s short “pre-tribulation rapture” revelation of 1830 (Margaret originated this 180-year-old escapist endtime view which had made millionaires of Lindsey, LaHaye etc.!), he somehow left out 49 words when copying it - the same 49 words LaHaye left out in the same sections when a book of his reproduced it three years later! (LaHaye has been one of LU’s biggest donors.) Ice, BTW, also had the same distinctive copying errors Lindsey had when he had reproduced MM’s revelation in his 1983 book! Since Liberty University is one of the top promoters of the same fringe-British-originated pretrib rapture fantasy, interested readers can also Google “Famous Rapture Watchers,” “Pretrib Rapture Diehards,” “Pretrib Rapture Secrecy,” “Letter from Mrs. Billy Graham,” and “Pretrib Rapture Dishonesty” (documented plagiarism and other dishonesty since 1830 by some of the best known names in evangelicalism) - all uncovered by the author of the bestselling book “The Rapture Plot.” (Evangelicals should take some tranquilizers before reading the above!)

Posted by Nick at May 23, 2010 03:46 AM

If Iraqis had been able to absorb that and more (much more) punishment without responding in any way, I believe it would have been significantly harder for the US to maintain the occupation

But without violent resistance, how many in the US would see the occupation as a mistake?

Posted by windy at May 23, 2010 06:01 AM

N E: "And the end result is that the only permitted argument is whether our brutal military policies help stop terrorism or actually cause more of it by creating all these Shahzads. That's the acceptable debate, beloved by mainstream politicians and media and even blogs, and it essentially reduces the whole debate to what kind of military empire we should use to occupy the world--an empire that follows the Geneva Convention and civilized rules and makes us more popular around the world or an empire that fights barbarism with barbarism and makes us feared by our enemies."

As Donald Johnson said, that is indeed the position of the "mainstream", but you're not addressing the mainstream here. No one here that I noticed even argued such positions. So who are you addressing? I considered the possibility that you are merely grandstanding, talking past everyone else to practice your rhetoric, but then I remember that when someone argues against you, you misrepresent their position. So you are aware that there are other people here, you just can't (or won't) attend to what they're saying. The same goes for your dig about Woodward and Bernstein, and your claim that Nixon was blocked from bringing peace to the world by "the right." You're forgetting the original issue, which I don't have time to remind you about. Look it up.

By the way, the relatively nonviolent revolutions you mention are probably not comparable to the situations in Iraq or Afghanistan. And MLK did not run the Civil Rights Movement (I presume that's why you invoke his name), he didn't even run one segment of it. He was an important speaker and sometimes leader, but it wasn't his movement. And American racism, horrific as it was, is probably not comparable to the US invasions of Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, or any number of other places. That being said, Iraqis did use nonviolence, as have the Palestinians. Whether it worked or not is not for me to say. But it's not for any American to say whether someone else should use nonviolence; that's where I part company with Susan. The Iraqi people as a whole never made a commitment to nonviolence that I know of; it's creepy to lament that they didn't "stick to" a commitment they never made.

"Shake your head to clear your mind and ask how we ended up there. It was neatly done, and it has much to do with how we went from talking about a peace dividend fifteen years ago to miltarism on steroids so powerful today that it now looks like it will never stop growing." This is more of the condescension I mentioned in another comment, along with that curious confusion about whom you're addressing, and the facts of history. Who is the "we" who were talking about a "peace dividend"? The "peace dividend" was never talked about by the mainstream; the corporate media and Our Gummint warned us right away that while Communism was in the dustbin of history, we were still menaced by threats: drugs, terrorism, etc., so unfortunately there wouldn't be a peace dividend, suckers.

Posted by Duncan at May 23, 2010 10:05 AM
But without violent resistance, how many in the US would see the occupation as a mistake?

hopefully there won't be another 9/11 to help us figure that out.

Posted by hapa at May 23, 2010 12:45 PM

windy: AMEN!!!

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 23, 2010 12:50 PM

Duncan

I don't feel like repeating myself or trying to explain so I'm going to let all that pass. Enjoy your vacation.

Posted by N E at May 23, 2010 04:06 PM