Comments: Oh Perfect

I’m sure the Pakistan government would gladly arrest many “suspects” in order to keep their American benefactors from invading Pakistan with large numbers of troops.

Posted by Rob Payne at May 20, 2010 06:14 PM

Jon, you don't understand. America never does anything really wrong. Sometimes in our idealistic, naive blundering way, we make mistakes, often because some smooth-talking, insidious, swarthy foreigner has led us astray. Sometimes we make tragic mistakes. But we feel really, really bad about them, until we forget about them five minutes later. We may not be perfect, but our virtues outweigh our defects.

So no one has any business getting mad at us, let alone attacking us. What's all this talk about 327 Pakistani civilians being killed by our drones? In the first place, those were rogue drones, a few bad apples that do not represent this great land of ours. In the second place, those were not civilians, they were terrorists, or we would not have killed them. In the third place, you are overlooking the real victims: us. No one cares about how Americans suffer, and we suffer greatly when people pick on us. As Jimmy Carter said of Vietnam, the destruction was mutual. George Bush Sr. was even more generous: he said he wouldn't demand reparations from the Vietnamese.

All the Vietnamese lost was a few million lives and limbs, plus a few dams and hospitals; we lost our innocence. And now we're losing it again; it's sort of like virginity. We're secondary innocents.

Posted by Duncan at May 20, 2010 07:57 PM

To be an empire is to be, by definition, in a perpetual state of war. This isn't rocket science.

Posted by weaver at May 20, 2010 08:29 PM

The more I learn about Shahzad, the more I think his move is just a warning. Like Rob Payne says above, they don't want the shock troops moving over the border. Concidering who he is, his father's rank in their society, if he had done damage or killed someone, his country could face invasion, NO rationalizing needed for that belief. The Pakistanis ARE intelligent people and they CERTAINLY know how to build a bomb that WILL work. They are nuclear capable and the Times Square Bomb LOOKED like a prank.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 20, 2010 10:08 PM

Shorter Duncan: Americans didn't kill those Pakistanis, robot drones did.

Posted by saurabh at May 21, 2010 12:31 AM

Could saurabh conceivably have missed Duncan's irony? Or am I missing saurabh's?

Friggin' internet.

Posted by weaver at May 21, 2010 05:48 AM

I'd hope that saurabh has read me enough to recognize the irony. Or for that matter, of this here blog right here -- what I was doing was the same sort of thing Jon often does. Only he does it better, of course.

Posted by Duncan at May 21, 2010 09:34 AM

OT -
Try these guys for $5 Friday -

SkyTruth

http://blog.skytruth.org/

Posted by Colorado Bob at May 21, 2010 12:29 PM

The coolest thing of all in this "blowback" argument limned by Pwogs and Lib-wools is the conscious rejection and/or ignorance of the notions that:

1) Al Qaeda and the Taliban are used as scapegoats

2) the recent NYC "SUV bomber" didn't do anything despite Eric Holder's claims that he has "evidence" of Paki Taliban involvement and bombing intent

3) BIG POINT: Al Qaeda and Taliban were created by the USA's covert forces (CIA & contractors) for the express purpose of down-the-line scapegoating.

So go ahead and play the "blowback" game, Brave Progressives.

It's easier to ignore the depth and breadth of criminality, immorality, inhumanity in your own government when you do that.

It's also easier to suggest there are "good" uses for Imperialism's Murderous Armies, and that the thing to be worried about is "blowback" from incompetence and mis-management.

REMINDER: Michael Scheuer's "Imperial Hubris" already made the same arguments Fatburger Moore is making here -- in defense of the Evil Rethuglicans.

OOPS.

Posted by CF Oxtrot at May 21, 2010 12:56 PM

BIG POINT: Al Qaeda and Taliban were created by the USA's covert forces (CIA & contractors) for the express purpose of down-the-line scapegoating.

Sure, you bet. Likewise, Russia created fundamentalist groups in Chechnya for the express purpose of down-the-line scapegoating so they could get them to blow up people on the Moscow subway as part of a false flag operation in 2010. And so on.

Posted by Jonathan Schwarz at May 21, 2010 01:22 PM

C'mon, Jon, you know how devilish clever those CIA and the intelligence agencies are. They can plan that far ahead.

Oxtrot, I wonder who you're talking about. First, I do not "ignore the depth and breadth of criminality, immorality, inhumanity in [my] own government" -- I've been pointing it out for decades -- nor do I "suggest there are 'good' uses for Imperialism's Murderous Armies, and that the thing to be worried about is 'blowback' from incompetence and mis-management."

Second, your 'logic' implies that no people in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, or other countries have been hurt by US actions or those of our contractors, so that no one from those countries could possibly have any interest in attacking the US. Which I must say defies plausibility. To suggest that any violence directed against the US or its citizens can be only the work of US agents is to suggest that our victims are supernaturally forgiving of crimes committed against them. It sounds as if you, too, are more interested in the effects of US policy on Americans (our pain! what about our pain?) and not at all interested in victims of our violence in other countries.

Like some other people around here, you remind me of some Truthers who assume that no one can oppose the "War on Terror" unless they believe that 9/11 was an inside job.

Posted by Duncan at May 21, 2010 02:07 PM

Whose bidding was Shadzad doing--the Taliban? The ISI? A rogue faction of one or both of them? CIA? Other US intel? The Indians? The Chinese? Some or all or none of the above? Others? In a couple of decades somebody will probably have a better idea, but nobody will pay any attention.

In 1898 Lord Curzon, Viceroy of India (which remember then included Pakistan) wrote:

"Turkistan, Afghanistan, Transcaspia, Persia--to many these words breathe only a sense of utter remoteness or a memory of strange vicissitudes and of moribund romance. To me, I confess, they are the pieces on a chessboard upon which is being played out the game for the domination of the world."

Wars come and go, but that game Lord Curzon loved so much never stops, and men like Shazad are just pawns. What makes the game of geopolitics differ from chess is that we can't even tell to whom the pieces really belong. Somebody knows, but they aren't talking, and if they do they'll lie anyway.

Still, we can understand how we keep this game going. As Tariq Ali says in his book about the historic relationship between the US and Pakistan:

"To isolate Pakistan's problem as religious extremism or dual power in Waziristan or the possession of nuclear weapons is to miss the point, to become marooned in a landscape behind enemy lines. These issues . . . are not unimportant, but the problems relating to them are a direct result of doing Washington's bidding in previous decades."

Tariq Ali, The Duel: Pakistan on the Flight Path of American Power at 255 (Scribner 2008)(that book should be available at libraries near you or via interlibrary loan).

Ali also has a fine dry sense of humor; he describes Lord Curzon as Britain's "most self-important" viceroy to India and quotes another of Curzon's famous remarks: "No patchwork scheme will settle the Waziristan problem. . . Not until the military steam-roller has passed over the country from end to end will there be peace. But I do not want to be the person to start that machine." (The Waziris of a century ago were kucky Curzon didn't have drones.)

Curzon also famously said when he was Viceroy of India during the famine of 1899, which killed nearly ten million people: "Any government which imperiled the financial position of India in the interests of prodigal philanthropy would be open to serious criticism; but any government which by indiscriminate alms-giving weakened the fibre and demoralized the self-reliance of the population would be guilty of a public crime."

As my beloved mama often sang in church, 'As it was in the beginning is now and ever shall be.' Being a nonbeliever, I prefer the refrain from Once in a Lifetime by The Talking Heads:

Same as it ever was . . . same as it ever was. . . same as it ever was.

Posted by N E at May 21, 2010 02:18 PM

What? I got the irony. That was a supportive 'shorter'. Just trying to help...

Posted by saurabh at May 21, 2010 02:33 PM

Blowback???? Hell, its a steam pump with scalding hot water spraying out on EVERY stroke. CF Oxtrot makes a fair point. I'm sure that proxy armies are scapegoats at some point, BUT those dayz are long gone. Blowbacks has DEFINATELY turned into paybacks on both sides. Its ONLY cost US 1 trillion in treasure(unless one counts 911, tnen its much more), 5-6 thousand lives (unless one counts 911, then its much more) and NO telling how many wounded, both physically and mentally, (and if one counts 911, its a whole lot more). Scapegoate? Nah, the blame game is way over, WE're down to just plain killing each other. There's enough sin to cover any love on ALL sides of this equation. But then that's paybacks for ya.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 21, 2010 02:41 PM

As for the Taliban and Al Qaeda. . .

The US gave a big boost to the Taliban as a deliberate policy that preceded but roughly coincided with the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan, an invasion which Zbig Brezinski has subsequently admitted/bragged that the US deliberately provoked. The US's pro-Islamic policy encouraged the rise of Islamic fundamentalism in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and the Middle East generally arose initially in the 70s as a response to Nasserism and other socialistic pan-arabism, which were perceived as a very grave danger. Anyone can read all about it in The Devil's Game by Robert Dreyfuss. No one can can intelligently argue that the Saudi's aren't controlled by the US or that they weren't funding the Taliban and Wahabi Islamic fundamentalism across the Middle East as early as 1979, and probably a few years earlier. But the goal certainly wasn't to set up an organization that could be blamed for "down the line" attacks on Americans; the goals were very immediate and of crucial importance. The Carter Doctrine in 1979 expressly recognized the Persian Gulf as an area of strategic importantance to the US.

As for Al Qaeda, that wasn't really even an "organization" back around 1990. Nobody disputes the CIA used OBL and other "mujahadin" in Afghanistan back in the 80s, directly but mostly through Pakistan's ISI. Then, in the late 80s and into the 90s, the CIA and German intel started using the same fighters in Kosovo and the Balkans, as well as in Chechnya. (Hell, Ali Mohammad got training at Fort Bragg while one of these "terrorists." See Peter Lance's books).

Thinking people should recognize that the dissolution of Yugoslavia and then the USSR in 1991 presented an enormous opportunity to move into not just Chechnya and the Ukraine but the whole Caspian area and Central Asia. That was the goal of the new (and for the first time offensive) NATO in the 90s. The purpose of using the freedom fighters from the Afghan war to do this wasn't "down the line scapegoating." It was to get hold of the newly available regions and resources, and everybody used whatever they could use to do it. In the early 1990s, it wasn't possible to send marines to Chechnya or Kosovo, let alone NATO troops, because the public in the US wanted their Peace Dividend and the Europeans have mixed feelings about German troops roaming hither and yon, so some Islamic freedom fighters had to get the job done. By 1995, the political climate had changed significantly, though still not enough to get the US into Asia without political handcuffs. It took more to get that done.

I find the criticism of Michael Moore as not sufficiently conspiratorial to be a little weird. Among other things, he produced Farenheit 9/11, which doesn't exactly perpetuate the worldview that the military and intel agencies would never stoop to killing people to precipitate wars or serve capitalist interests. Give him a break. Don't try and shove opinions down his throat.

That being said, my own opinion is that neither the US nor the Russians nor others are morally above using Islamic fundamentalist groups or other third parties to commit terrorist acts and blame them on others, in Chechnya or elsewhere. They aren't morally above much of anything. Nor do these acts need to be the work of governments. There are transnational entities, legal and illicit, that may be involved. I haven't read the article closely, but Peter Dale Scott has written about this in connection with his research and books on international drug trafficking and the involvement of intel agencies in it (because it gives them access to vast amounts of funds free of oversight). I find the article confusing, which happens to Scott now and again, but it's certainly factual in keeping with his practice, and the interested may look at the article on the web without charge:

http://www.lobster-magazine.co.uk/articles/global-drug.htm

Of course, nobody has to know anything they don't want to know. Too much knowledge can get in the way of being funny, and it can cause headaches, especially for others.

Posted by N E at May 21, 2010 03:21 PM

What? I got the irony.

Ah, well, the problem's me then. As usual.

Posted by weaver at May 22, 2010 12:42 AM

N E:

Whose bidding was Shadzad doing--the Taliban? The ISI? A rogue faction of one or both of them? CIA? Other US intel? The Indians? The Chinese? Some or all or none of the above? Others? In a couple of decades somebody will probably have a better idea, but nobody will pay any attention.

Well, then! I guess we should all just sit on our hands until Teh Truth is revealed in a few decades. (Oddly, though, many of us foolishly think we know enough already to condemn our own government harshly for major crimes. You seem to object to this, or something.)

I find the criticism of Michael Moore as not sufficiently conspiratorial to be a little weird. Among other things, he produced Farenheit 9/11, which doesn't exactly perpetuate the worldview that the military and intel agencies would never stoop to killing people to precipitate wars or serve capitalist interests. ... Peter Dale Scott ... Peter Dale Scott ... blah blah blah ...

I'm sure glad we have Michael Moore to tell us that the military and intel agencies (and multinational corporations, plus various local tyrants and warlords) would "stoop" to killing people. Reading Noam Chomsky or Howard Zinn or Alexander Cockburn or the late Gary Webb (or even Hitchens in the days when he only had a brain) or, say, Tiny Revolution, I'd NEVER have learned that. For example, Cockburn and St. Clair's White Out, which details US intel involvement in the drug trade for many decades, never even hints at such a thing.

Of course, nobody has to know anything they don't want to know. Too much knowledge can get in the way of being funny, and it can cause headaches, especially for others.

Y'see, here's the thing once again, N E. You write blithely on as though everybody else around here were mindless pawns of big media, big gummint, big business, who never would suspect Our Shadowy Overlords of doing anything bad. This shows that you have not paid attention to what most of us, including our host, say constantly. And it occurs to me that there is a fairly clear pattern in your writing: you may be somewhat upset when big intel / big gummint / big bidness kills thousands or millions of dusky brown people, but it doesn't interest you much, because it distracts attention from the Big Picture, which is that the same actors may have killed some American (i.e., Real People) along the way. (Hence, for example, your brushing aside of Wilson's invasion of Haiti, which wasn't Wilson's fault because he was totally an idealist.)

By the way, I got a copy of Scott's Deep Politics and brought it with me on vacation, so I hope to read it in the coming month. But I looked through the introductory material for his comments on Chomsky, and found that Scott really has no clear evidence that JFK really and truly planned to withdraw (how can I leave this behind?) from Vietnam come hell or high water and so was assassinated for it. His most explicit bit of evidence is that somebody told somebody that they'd pull out in 1965 -- i.e., in the Second Term, which in American politics is roughly equivalent to "when Hell freezes over," or the rabbinic cliche "when the Messiah comes."

Posted by Duncan at May 22, 2010 10:08 PM

I've figured it out. N E is a computer. One so amazingly sophisticated that he can pass the Turing test for an hour or even for months. But eventually you catch on.

Posted by Cloud at May 22, 2010 10:29 PM

I'm of the mind that Billy Sol Estes had JFK shot over some FRAUDENTLY MORGAGED Anhydrous Ammonia trailers.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 22, 2010 10:47 PM

Duncan

I'm glad you're going to read Deep Politics even though that isdn't the place to read about the issue of the withdrawal from Vietnam (which was only one of the problems that the Pentagon and CIA had with JFK). Scott in Deep Politics analyzes those shadowy forces that you can't seem to mention without sarcasm, so I don't know if you will enjoy that book very much. If what you're looking for is an undrestanding of JFK and Vietnam, you can read this article by James Galbraith:

http://www.mtholyoke.edu/acad/intrel/vietnam/exit.htm

Galbraith's article is based significanly on a 1992 book about JFK and Vietnam by Jon Newman, which you could pick up for a couple of bucks.

http://www.amazon.com/JFK-Vietnam-Deception-Intrigue-Struggle/dp/0446516783

But as Galbrith notes, subsequent disclosures such as by McNamara and the documents disclosed as a result of the AARB document releases in the 90s, including white house tapes, also reveal that JFK already had ordered a withdrawal of US forces from Vietnam before his death. The Galbraith article canvasses all of this material and shows pretty definitively that Chomsky was wrong in his disagreement with Newman and Scott and his assessment of what JFK did.

The assassination had to do with more than Vietnam, and if you want to know how it was planned in a way that guaranteed a coverup, you can read the 2008 re-release of Newman's Oswald and the CIA, the epilogue of which explains in some detail how the assassination was set up. Jon Newman, a career military intel officer who later became a history professor, concluded that the head of CIA counterintel, James Angleton, was necessarily involved. Newman didn't reach that conclusion for ideological reasons, or because he loves JFK and hates the military, but becasue the facts led him there. None of this ground is unplowed, and I didn't plow it.

Unlike you, I don't trust Cockburn, but I share your admiration of Zinn and in most ways Chomsky (especially for his early work and his present work on Israel). Plus, any time I hear Gary Webb's name I get both angry and sad. But as much as I feel for Gary Webb, and admire him for standing on principle and paying for it with his life, others have stood on principle and paid for it with their lives too. Some of those others were Jack and Bobby Kennedy, and if you ever come to understand why it happened to them, you may regret some of your sarcasm.

Posted by N E at May 23, 2010 08:19 AM

cloud

That does not compute.

Mike Meyer

Nancy Pelosi is holding for you.

Posted by N E at May 23, 2010 08:21 AM

N E: "and if you ever come to understand why it happened to them, you may regret some of your sarcasm."

You know, you are really in no position to attack others for sarcasm, as the passages I quoted from your previous post indicate, especially the last one. But I don't believe you understand why "it" happened to JFK and RFK either; you have some fantasies, some of which might turn out to be true, but so far fantasies is all they are.

Whether you trust Cockburn or not is of little interest to me. I don't "trust" him either, but he has done valuable work. Cockburn was an important defender of Webb while Webb was still alive, and my point (which you seem to prefer to evade) is it isn't necessary to rely on you for information on US intel involvement in drug running -- I believe I first read about it in Kahin and Lewis's The US in Vietnam, which I read about 40 years ago -- nor are you telling me, at least, anything I didn't already know. To repeat what I said before a bit more emphatically, your condescension to others here as though you were the only one with any awareness of these matters is unfounded.

"None of this ground is unplowed, and I didn't plow it." Indeed, and it remains controversial. That's the point. You are quite sure you have the answers, but even in your particular niche there's disagreement. I'll try to read Galbraith's article, but I can find "an undrestanding of JFK and Vietnam" in numerous writers; no one has the understanding of JFK and Vietnam, and probably no one ever will. I've pointed out before how you swerve between trumpeting "our" ignorance of Teh Truth About These Things and hinting about your own superior gnosis.

Your pretense of admiration for Zinn and Chomsky reads oddly given your past attacks on and misrepresentations of them. You keep changing your line. Perhaps you should make up your mind.

Posted by Duncan at May 23, 2010 09:40 AM

N.E. Na she ain't. I'm sure the Speakers Office cares less whether I call or not and probably would rather I wouldn't, just like YOU.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 23, 2010 12:31 PM

Duncan

I don't quite get what you found sarcastic about what I said. That wasn't sarcasm, let alone sarcasm directed at you or someone else.

You wrote: "Indeed, and it remains controversial."

Err, no, it isn't controversial. Things aren't controversial just because people disagree, or EVERYTHING would be controversial. You might at least read the article before going into your spiel.

You wrote that: "no one has the understanding of JFK and Vietnam, and probably no one ever will"

Not so. Twenty years ago perhaps, because we like to keep things secret for a very long time lest the citizenry start meddling in their government. But it's not controversial now just because a lot of bullshit has been published. The truth isn't determined by weight.

I think I'd rather have a root canal than argue about what I've said previously about Chomsky or Zinn.

My statement that people don't have to know anything about anything they don't want to was not directed at you. I really don't think anyone is obligated to try to follow all the complexities of Scott's article on what has been going on with regard to Chechnya and terrorism in the Caucusus, which is hard to follow. I wrote what I did, including the explanation of intel involvement with Islamic terrorism, because people really should understand all that. Plus, I think it a mistake for people to assume that such things are beyond the pale. At this point what mostly keeps this going is public incredulity, which is now sustained in significant part by jokes. Jokes that help make it possible for the government to murder people aren't really a social good. (Of course, if they don't do that, they're funny.)

As for Michael Moore, I like him.

Posted by N E at May 23, 2010 03:08 PM

Here is a comment by one of my favourites, Pankaj Mishra......
"America's exalted capacity for murder"
here

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/may/21/america-murder-waziristan-connecticut

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 24, 2010 04:06 PM

Rupa Shah: Excellent articles both here and above,THANK YOU.

Posted by Mike Meyer at May 24, 2010 05:38 PM

Schwarz and Duncan --

Y'all should investigate what Hank Kissinger authored and implemented re al Qaeda and the Taliban as a method to "destabilize" Afghanis in particular and Islam in the Middle East generally.

You can mock me and deride me all you want. Ignorance is something you've chosen. Mockery won't change that.

Posted by CF Oxtrot at May 25, 2010 03:33 PM

@ Mike Meyer:
Very glad to see you back. Was missing all your CAPITAL LETTERS! And of course, my "USA constitution guru".

Posted by Rupa Shah at May 25, 2010 04:17 PM

Oxtrot: "Y'all should investigate what Hank Kissinger authored and implemented re al Qaeda and the Taliban as a method to "destabilize" Afghanis in particular and Islam in the Middle East generally."

Um, I have. Your point? You're really in no position to complain about being mocked yourself, though you'd better expect it when you read so badly.

NE: I wrote what I did, including the explanation of intel involvement with Islamic terrorism, because people really should understand all that.

Now, you can't really pretend that you weren't addressing me this time. I know that "intel" was involved with Islamic "terrorism"; it's not news to people who have been paying attention, which includes everyone here as far as I can tell. As I said, you're preaching to the choir.

"Plus, I think it a mistake for people to assume that such things are beyond the pale." Who assumes such things are "beyond the pale"? I'm not sure that phrase means what you think it means, by the way. You go on to make it reasonably clear that you are talking about the general public, but those of us who comment here don't seem to be the general public. The trouble, as I've said before, is that I and others differ with you on the conclusions you draw from the evidence, and as I've said before, no one who's seen you in action here would assume that you are speaking accurately.

"I think I'd rather have a root canal than argue about what I've said previously about Chomsky or Zinn." Yes, it's painful to have your past misrepresentations shoved in your face. There's no real argument about what you've said previously about these men. You just throw a tantrum when you're reminded about it. You're very much in the mainstream of the general public in that.

Posted by Duncan at May 25, 2010 11:55 PM