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How the Pentagon punished NSA whistleblowers

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This is the article referenced in the preceding post. As a “long read” in the Guardian, Mark Hertsgaard reports:

By now, almost everyone knows what Edward Snowden did. He leaked top-secret documents revealing that the National Security Agency was spying on hundreds of millions of people across the world, collecting the phone calls and emails of virtually everyone on Earth who used a mobile phone or the internet. When this newspaper began publishing the NSA documents in June 2013, it ignited a fierce political debate that continues to this day – about government surveillance, but also about the morality, legality and civic value of whistleblowing.

But if you want to know why Snowden did it, and the way he did it, you have to know the stories of two other men.

The first is Thomas Drake, who blew the whistle on the very same NSA activities 10 years before Snowden did. Drake was a much higher-ranking NSA official than Snowden, and he obeyed US whistleblower laws, raising his concerns through official channels. And he got crushed.

Drake was fired, arrested at dawn by gun-wielding FBI agents, stripped of his security clearance, charged with crimes that could have sent him to prison for the rest of his life, and all but ruined financially and professionally. The only job he could find afterwards was working in an Apple store in suburban Washington, where he remains today. Adding insult to injury, his warnings about the dangers of the NSA’s surveillance programme were largely ignored.

“The government spent many years trying to break me, and the more I resisted, the nastier they got,” Drake told me.

Drake’s story has since been told – and in fact, it had a profound impact on Snowden, who told an interviewer in 2015 that: “It’s fair to say that if there hadn’t been a Thomas Drake, there wouldn’t have been an Edward Snowden.”

But there is another man whose story has never been told before, who is speaking out publicly for the first time here. His name is John Crane, and he was a senior official in the Department of Defense who fought to provide fair treatment for whistleblowers such as Thomas Drake – until Crane himself was forced out of his job and became a whistleblower as well.

His testimony reveals a crucial new chapter in the Snowden story – and Crane’s failed battle to protect earlier whistleblowers should now make it very clear that Snowden had good reasons to go public with his revelations.

During dozens of hours of interviews, Crane told me how senior Defense Department officials repeatedly broke the law to persecute Drake. First, he alleged, they revealed Drake’s identity to the Justice Department; then they withheld (and perhaps destroyed) evidence after Drake was indicted; finally, they lied about all this to a federal judge.

The supreme irony? In their zeal to punish Drake, these Pentagon officialsunwittingly taught Snowden how to evade their clutches when the 29-year-old NSA contract employee blew the whistle himself. Snowden was unaware of the hidden machinations inside the Pentagon that undid Drake, but the outcome of those machinations – Drake’s arrest, indictment and persecution – sent an unmistakable message: raising concerns within the system promised doom.

“Name one whistleblower from the intelligence community whose disclosures led to real change – overturning laws, ending policies – who didn’t face retaliation as a result. The protections just aren’t there,” Snowden told the Guardian this week. “The sad reality of today’s policies is that going to the inspector general with evidence of truly serious wrongdoing is often a mistake. Going to the press involves serious risks, but at least you’ve got a chance.”

Snowden saw what had happened to Drake and other whistleblowers like him. The key to Snowden’s effectiveness, according to Thomas Devine, the legal director of the Government Accountability Project (GAP), was that he practised “civil disobedience” rather than “lawful” whistleblowing. (GAP, a non-profit group in Washington, DC, that defends whistleblowers, has represented Snowden, Drake and Crane.)

“None of the lawful whistleblowers who tried to expose the government’s warrantless surveillance – and Drake was far from the only one who tried – had any success,” Devine told me. “They came forward and made their charges, but the government just said, ‘They’re lying, they’re paranoid, we’re not doing those things.’ And the whistleblowers couldn’t prove their case because the government had classified all the evidence. Whereas Snowden took the evidence with him, so when the government issued its usual denials, he could produce document after document showing that they were lying. That is civil disobedience whistleblowing.”

Crane, a solidly built Virginia resident with flecks of grey in a neatly trimmed chinstrap beard, understood Snowden’s decision to break the rules – but lamented it. “Someone like Snowden should not have felt the need to harm himself just to do the right thing,” he told me.

Crane’s testimony is not simply a clue to Snowden’s motivations and methods: if his allegations are confirmed in court, they could put current and former senior Pentagon officials in jail. (Official investigations are quietly under way.)

But Crane’s account has even larger ramifications: it repudiates the position on Snowden taken by Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton – who both maintain that Snowden should have raised his concerns through official channels because US whistleblower law would have protected him.

By the time Snowden went public in 2013, Crane had spent years fighting a losing battle inside the Pentagon to provide whistleblowers the legal protections to which they were entitled. He took his responsibilities so seriously, and clashed with his superiors so often, that he carried copies of the Whistleblower Protection Act of 1989 and the US constitution in his breast pocket and pulled them out during office conflicts.

Crane’s attorneys at GAP – who were used to working with all types of government and corporate whistleblowers – were baffled by him: in their experience, most senior government officials cared little for whistleblowers’ rights. So what motivated Crane to keep fighting for the rights of whistleblowers inside the Pentagon, even as his superiors grew increasingly hostile and eventually forced him to resign? . . .

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There’s a lot more: this is a “long read.”

Written by LeisureGuy

23 May 2016 at 11:48 am

Does Israel offers a view of a possible US future?

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Ronen Bergman writes in the NY Times:

IN most countries, the political class supervises the defense establishment and restrains its leaders from violating human rights or pursuing dangerous, aggressive policies. In Israel, the opposite is happening. Here, politicians blatantly trample the state’s values and laws and seek belligerent solutions, while the chiefs of the Israel Defense Forces and the heads of the intelligence agencies try to calm and restrain them.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s offer last week of the post of defense minister to Avigdor Lieberman, a pugnacious ultranationalist politician, is the latest act in the war between Mr. Netanyahu and the military and intelligence leaders, a conflict that has no end in sight but could further erode the rule of law and human rights, or lead to a dangerous, superfluous military campaign.

The prime minister sees the defense establishment as a competitor to his authority and an opponent of his goals. Putting Mr. Lieberman, an impulsive and reckless extremist, in charge of the military is a clear signal that the generals’ and the intelligence chiefs’ opposition will no longer be tolerated. Mr. Lieberman is known for ruthlessly quashing people who hold opposing views.

This latest round of this conflict began on March 24: Elor Azariah, a sergeant in the I.D.F., shot and killed a Palestinian assailant who was lying wounded on the ground after stabbing one of Sergeant Azariah’s comrades. The I.D.F. top brass condemned the killing. A spokesman for Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, the chief of staff, said, “This isn’t the I.D.F., these are not the I.D.F.’s values.”

But right-wing politicians backed Sergeant Azariah. “I.D.F. soldiers, our children, stand before murderous attacks by terrorists who come to kill them,” the prime minister said. “They have to make decisions in real time.” Mr. Lieberman, then still the leader of a small far-right opposition party, turned up in military court to support the soldier. Mr. Netanyahu also called the soldier’s father to offer support.

An I.D.F. general told me that the top brass saw the telephone call as a gross defiance of the military’s authority. The deputy chief of staff, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan, chose one of the most sensitive dates on the Israeli calendar, Holocaust Memorial Eve, to react: He suggested that Israel today in some ways resembles Germany in the 1930s.

Mr. Netanyahu countered that General Golan’s words do Israel an injustice and “cheapen the Holocaust.” His defense minister, Moshe Yaalon, a former chief of staff and a member of Mr. Netanyahu’s party, backed the army. He told a gathering of top officers to speak freely, even if it went against political leaders. . .

Continue reading.

The shooting of the wounded prisoner offering no threat—and by a medic, no less—is clearly and unambiguously a war crime. War crimes now are praised and defended even when they are clearly war crimes. In the US we see Donald Trump call more more torture, and worse torture, and killing the families of (suspected?) terrorists, and being applauded for it.

And of course the approach being taken will motivate more strongly those viewed as “the enemy,” though of course other descriptions might be conceived. (Cf. the essay in Stir blogged earlier.)

We live in dangerous times.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 May 2016 at 12:37 pm

“This will stop only when the American people get fed up”

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In Salon Patrick L. Smith continues his interview with Andrew Bacevich:

Part one of my interview with Andrew Bacevich, the soldier-turned-scholar who has just published America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History, was posted last week. It focused on aspects of what Bacevich, originally, considers one long war now in its 37th year. We looked at the chronology since Jimmy Carter fatefully set the adventure in motion in his 1980 “doctrine” speech, at the American strategy and how it has developed—and at all that is wrong with it.

Somewhere around the halfway mark in our lengthy exchange, which Salon is publishing with only the very lightest edit, the conversation turned. We dilated the lens, let’s say, and found our way into all manner of subjects. He was interesting in his take on the Cold War 1950s as a prelude to the war that is the topic of his book, and on his pilgrim’s progress from West Point cadet to commissioned officer to his retirement and his scholarly work since. He collects old editions of Life Magazine, it turns out. His capacity for critical thought, the honed tool with which he earns his crust, did not develop until after he retired as a colonel, it also turns out. No need to ask about causality on this point: Bacevich is clear as to the dearth of thought in this man’s army.

Bacevich ends his book on a pessimistic note, and our conversation seemed headed in the same direction. But as he finished explaining his perspective and we prepared to part, he forced me back on a point occasionally made in this space: Find the optimism buried within the pessimism. It is usually in there somewhere. The sourest critic is an optimist, otherwise he or she would not bother. In his way Bacevich seemed to agree: The future seems fixed and grim, but it is up to us in the end.

Part 2 of this exchange, like the first half, was scrupulously transcribed by Salon’s Michael Conway Garofalo, to whom I again offer thanks.

Early in the book you cite Hermann Eilts, a former U.S. ambassador in Cairo and Riyadh. He asserted that rather than gearing up for war, the U.S. would be better served if it sought “an equitable solution to the Palestinian problem.” I thought this very interesting, given how assiduously American officials insist that Palestine has nothing whatever to do with the crisis that envelops the entire region all the way to Afghanistan. Do you agree with him?

I do. I knew him slightly. He was one of the founders of the international relations program at Boston University.

Eilts’s implication is that Palestine lies at the very core of the Middle East crisis. As long as it festers, there will be no peace.

I don’t know that. What I do believe is that Eilts is not the only person who has said that. Indeed, this is an argument that is made frequently by Arab leaders and other leaders in the Islamic world. What I believe is that we have an interest in testing that proposition. The counterargument is, “Oh, when the Arab leaders are talking about how much they care about the Palestinians that is simply posturing on their part. They find it politically useful because it plays well with their domestic constituents as a way of distracting attention from the fact that Egypt is a poorly governed, miserable place.” And so on.

I don’t know where the truth lies. I do believe we have an interest in testing the proposition. In other words, yes, let’s respond to the grievances of the Palestinians—they are real grievances—and then let’s see how that affects the attitude of other countries in the reason toward the United States. If there is no real response, then I’ll concede the argument and I’d guess that the Palestinian issue was simply contrived. But it could be that the argument is sincere and genuine, and it could be that the creation of a Palestinian state actually would provide a real breakthrough in terms of trying to bring about an end to the conflict.

Further, I also recognize that from the point of view of the Israeli government, there is not that profound an interest. From the point of the Israeli government, the status quo is not that bad. I think it’s very short-sighted, but democratically elected governments tend to be short-sighted. The way you get reelected is by responding to the needs, the complaints, the concerns of the people here today, not what their concerns might be 10 years from now. It makes democratic political sense for the Netanyahu government to sustain the status quo. They sustain themselves in power. But frankly, just because it’s in the interests of the Netanyahu government doesn’t mean that it should be in the interest of the United States to play along with him—which is, in effect, what we do: minor complaints when they expand settlements, but basically the relationship is unaffected. The military support continues to flow. The diplomatic protection in the United Nations continues.

If we were to test the thesis, I bet we’d find it absolutely transformative.

I don’t know. But I think it is imperative to examine the outcome.

How do you interpret our Syria policy? I’ve reluctantly come to the conclusion that we have been behaving with a fair amount of cynicism. While pretending to hold the humanitarian crisis as our first concern, we tacitly tolerated ISIS until recently. Even now, we continue to view Syria through a Cold War template.

The Russians called our bluff. If you recall, the American bombing campaign started [in 2014] as front-page news and then virtually disappeared. I think the Russians called our bluff last September 30 [when Russian planes began bombing runs]. In my view, the object all along has been to eliminate a Russian ally, the last in the Middle East. Only since Moscow moved last September have we become serious about countering the Islamic State.

I hadn’t thought about it in those terms. You may attributing clearer calculation on the part of the Obama administration than they deserve credit for. My sense would be that when the Syrian civil war began, without thinking through what he was doing, the president made his remarks about “Assad must go” with no appreciation for the implications of that kind of a statement. He didn’t appreciate how difficult dislodging Assad was going to be. So the president’s rhetoric was way out in front of his willingness to act. My sense is that in the utter confusion of the Syrian civil war, where the anti–Assad forces came in various stripes and colors, combined with the emergence of ISIS as a force determined to overturn the regional political order, there was a period of confusion about what the United States should do. My sense is that today the administration has established a pretty clear priority, and the priority is to focus on the destruction of ISIS and worry about Syria somewhere down the road.

That said, mustering the military wherewithal to deal with ISIS has turned out to be a far more difficult proposition than the Obama administration anticipated, I think. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

22 May 2016 at 7:40 am

How US munitions to kill many long after the war is over

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George Black reports in the New Yorker:

On Saturday, President Obama will set out on a trip to Vietnam, for a visit that’s being billed as looking forward to the future rather than back at the bitter history of the past. On the same day, a funeral will be held in Quang Tri province for a man named Ngo Thien Khiet.

Khiet, who died at the age of forty-five, and who leaves behind a wife and two sons, was an expert on the unexploded ordnance, or UXO, left over from the Vietnam War. He was particularly skilled at locating, removing, and safely destroying cluster bombs found in the farm fields of Quang Tri, an impoverished agricultural province that straddles the old Demilitarized Zone, or DMZ, which once divided North and South Vietnam.
Quang Tri is a place of great natural beauty, a narrow strip of land that stretches from the curving beaches and breakers of the South China Sea, in the east, to the misty, forested mountains along the border with Laos, in the west. Perhaps no other part of the country suffered more grievously during the Vietnam War. More ordnance was dropped on Quang Tri than was dropped on all of Germany during the Second World War. The province was also sprayed with more than seven hundred thousand gallons of herbicide, mainly Agent Orange. The names of battlefields like Cam Lo, Con Thien, Mutter’s Ridge, and the Rockpile still give American veterans nightmares. The seventy-seven-day siege of the Marine base of Khe Sanh, in Quang Tri, so obsessed Lyndon Johnson that he kept a scale model of the base in the White House, and demanded daily updates on the course of the battle.
For the eight years before his death, Khiet worked for a nongovernmental organization called Project renew, which is based in the provincial capital, Dong Ha. The organization was founded fifteen years ago by a group of foreigners, including an American veteran named Chuck Searcy, who served in Saigon during the 1968 Tet Offensive. The group’s mission is to help clear the countryside of leftover UXO, and it has grown to employ an all-Vietnamese staff of a hundred and sixty people.
Since the end of the war, in 1975, more than forty thousand Vietnamese have been killed by UXO. About three and a half thousand of these deaths have occurred in Quang Tri. But thanks in large measure to the work of Projectrenew, the numbers of fatalities in the province have been in steady decline. While most of the victims used to be farmers working their fields, these days, with more of the countryside cleared, those most at risk are scrap-metal scavengers, who cut up rusted bombs and shells in the hope of earning a few dollars.
One day last year, I went out to a village in Quang Tri with an emergency crew from Project renew. The crew was following up on a call to the project’s hotline—some unexploded munitions had been found at the edge of a school soccer field. Such calls come in, on average, between three and five times a day. A naval shell turns up in an irrigation ditch, or a couple of hand grenades are found at the edge of a rice paddy. Perhaps an artillery round gets unearthed by a construction crew digging the foundations for a new house. Just this past week, a gigantic thousand-pound bomb, almost seven feet long, was discovered by workers digging a drainage tunnel in Quang Tri township.
On the day I went out with the emergency response team, villagers had found a white phosphorus bomb, three shoulder-fired M-79 grenades, and a 37-mm. projectile. An advance team from Project renew had carefully scooped out small holes in the dirt to expose the rusted munitions, marking the spot with colorful warning flags and surrounding it with sandbags. It was time for the demolition crew to move in. We retreated to a safe distance, someone started a countdown, a technician hit a remote switch, and then there was a dull boom. The kids were safe to go back out and play.
A couple of days later, I met Ngo Thien Khiet. He was a quiet man, with a sober but friendly demeanor. He was dressed in military-style khakis, with his name stitched in red above his breast pocket. A floppy hat on his head bore the Projectrenew logo. As I reported in a story for The Nation, I’d been invited to join him on a survey of a village called Tan Dinh. Surveying for cluster bombs is slow, painstaking work. Before we set out, Khiet showed me a map that represented his prior work in the area. The map was divided into grid sections, each representing a square kilometre. The sections that had already been combed over were color coded according to the findings of the survey team. Green meant all clear. Red meant cluster bombs. Blue meant other kinds of munitions.
Khiet told me that, of all the types of ordnance that still lie buried in the fields of Vietnam, cluster bombs are the most dangerous. They are a particularly devious invention, designed to inflict maximum, indiscriminate harm, and so abhorred that their use, transfer, and stockpiling is prohibited by an international treaty, the Convention on Cluster Munitions. More than a hundred nations have signed or ratified the treaty; the United States is not one of them.
A cluster bomb is made up of as many as six hundred individual bombs, each about the size of a baseball, which are packed into a mother pod. The pod is designed to open several feet above the ground, unloading the bomblets in all directions and shredding anything in their path. Because cluster bombs were dropped by aircraft on fixed flight paths, sometimes clearing the way for Agent Orange spraying runs, unexploded bombs tend to be found in groups. If you find one, you’re likely to find more. After so many years, they are usually heavily pitted with rust and highly unstable.
Before going out in the field with Khiet, . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

21 May 2016 at 11:32 am

Posted in Military

Neocon-Bashers Headline Koch Event as Political Realignment on Foreign Policy Continues

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Zaid Jilani reports in The Intercept:

In the latest example of how foreign policy no longer neatly aligns with party politics, the Charles Koch Institute — the think tank founded and funded by energy billionaire Charles Koch — hosted an all-day event Wednesday featuring a set of speakers you would be more likely to associate with a left-wing anti-war rally than a gathering hosted by a longtime right-wing institution.

At the event, titled “Advancing American Security: The Future of U.S. Foreign Policy,” prominent realist and liberal foreign policy scholars took turns trashing the neoconservative worldview that has dominated the foreign policy thinking of the Republican Party — which the Koch brothershave been allied with for decades.

Most of the speakers assailed the Iraq War, nation building, and regime change. During a panel event also featuring former Obama Pentagon official Kathleen Hicks, foreign policy scholar John Mearsheimer brought the crowd to applause by denouncing American military overreach.

“We need to pull back, stop fighting all these wars. Stop defending rich people who are fully capable of defending themselves, and instead spend the money at home. Period. End of story!” he said, in remarks that began with a denunciation of the dilapidated state of the Washington Metrorail system.

“I completely agree on infrastructure,” Hicks said. “A big footprint in the Middle East is not helpful to the United States, politically, militarily, or otherwise.”

Chas Freeman, a former ambassador to Saudi Arabia, decried U.S. thinking on toppling foreign governments. “One has to start questioning the basic premise of regime change, whether it is to be accomplished by invasion and occupation or by covert action or the empowerment of NGO activity on the ground or other means,” he reflected. “Frankly, it generally doesn’t go well.”

“If you want to know why our bridges are rickety … our children are educationally malnourished, think of where we put the money,” concluded Freeman, pointing to the outsized military budget.

Over lunch, Stephen Walt, the Foreign Policy columnist and Harvard realist foreign policy scholar, said the presidential election is providing evidence that the military-restraint camp is starting to make progress. “On the campaign trail, both Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump have gotten receptive audiences when they questioned certain aspects of foreign policy. Really, Hillary Clinton is the only candidate defending the status quo,” he boasted. “I think those public doubts are not surprising because … our current policy has been a costly failure.”

Walt dubbed his own prescription for foreign policy . . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

19 May 2016 at 8:29 am

A-10 Nose Art Is the Last of a Dying Breed

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Nose art

Robert Beckhusen has a fascinating article at Motherboard:

The A-10 doesn’t need nose art to look mean. A 30-millimeter cannon does that job well enough. But the Warthog is a rare example of a warplane that has kept the tradition going. Motifs of tiger-shark teeth, vipers and, yes, warthogs feature prominently.

Most popular in World War II, nose art fell out of fashion during the Cold War as top brass imposed stricter rules on what could, and could not, feature on the aircraft under their command. It was a radical shift from the 1940s, when a wide variety of pulp art, fangs, and pin-up girls proliferated on fighters and bombers.

Afterwards, “what was once a great morale booster for many in and out of uniform during the war could now only be found fading away on the sides of aircraft in boneyards around the country,” aviation journalist Nicholas Veronico wrote inBoneyard Nose Art: U.S. Military Aircraft Markings and Artwork.

A shift toward low-observable paint schemes also reduced the practice, and most military aircraft today come in standard tactical grey with few creative furnishings, although there was a brief revival during the Persian Gulf War.

But nose art has stayed fresh on certain aircraft, particularly bombers, cargo planes, and the low and slow-flying A-10 Warthog. The US Air Force intends to retire the Warthog in 2022, which means these designs will sadly leave the military with them. . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 May 2016 at 11:14 am

Posted in Art, Military

Washington’s Military Addiction And The Ruins Still to Come

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Tom Englehardt of writes:

There are the news stories that genuinely surprise you, and then there are the ones that you could write in your sleep before they happen. Let me concoct an example for you:

Top American and European military leaders are weighing options to step up the fight against the Islamic State in the Mideast, including possibly sending more U.S. forces into Iraq, Syria, and Libya, just as Washington confirmed the second American combat casualty in Iraq in as many months.

Oh wait, that was actually the lead sentence in a May 3rd Washington Times piece by Carlo Muñoz.  Honestly, though, it could have been written anytime in the last few months by just about anyone paying any attention whatsoever, and it surely will prove reusable in the months to come (with casualty figures altered, of course).  The sad truth is that across the Greater Middle East and expanding parts of Africa, a similar set of lines could be written ahead of time about the use of Special Operations forces, drones, advisers, whatever, as could the sorry results of making such moves in [add the name of your country of choice here].

Put another way, in a Washington that seems incapable of doing anything but worshiping at the temple of the U.S. military, global policymaking has become a remarkably mindless military-first process of repetition.  It’s as if, as problems built up in your life, you looked in the closet marked “solutions” and the only thing you could ever see was one hulking, over-armed soldier, whom you obsessively let loose, causing yet more damage.

How Much, How Many, How Often, and How Destructively

In Iraq and Syria, it’s been mission creep all the way.  The B-52s barely made it to the battle zone for the first time and were almost instantaneously in the air, attacking Islamic State militants.  U.S. firebases are built ever closer to the front lines.  The number of special ops forces continues to edge up.  American weapons flow in (ending up in god knows whosehands).  American trainers and advisers follow in ever increasing numbers, and those numbers are repeatedly fiddled with to deemphasize how many of them are actually there.  The private contractors begin to arrive in numbers never to be counted.  The local forces being trained or retrained have their usual problems in battle.  American troops and advisers who were never, never going to be “in combat” or “boots on the ground” themselves now have their boots distinctly on the ground in combat situations.  The first American casualties are dribbling in.  Meanwhile, conditions in tottering Iraq and the former nation of Syria grow ever murkier, more chaotic, and less amenable by the week to any solution American officials might care for.

And the response to all this in present-day Washington?

You know perfectly well what the sole imaginable response can be: sending in yet more weapons, boots, air power, special ops types, trainers, advisers, private contractors, drones, and funds to increasingly chaotic conflict zones across significant swaths of the planet.  Above all, there can be no serious thought, discussion, or debate about how such a militarized approach to our world might have contributed to, and continues to contribute to, the very problems it was meant to solve. Not in our nation’s capital, anyway.

The only questions to be argued about are how much, how many, how often, and how destructively.  In other words, the only “antiwar” position imaginable in Washington, where accusations of weakness or wimpishness are a dime a dozen and considered lethal to a political career, is how much less of more we can afford, militarily speaking, or how much more of somewhat less we can settle for when it comes to militarized death and destruction.  Never, of course, is a genuine version of less or a none-at-all option really on that “table” where, it’s said, all policy options are kept.

Think of this as Washington’s military addiction in action.  We’ve been watching it foralmost 15 years without drawing any of the obvious conclusions.  And lest you imagine that “addiction” is just a figure of speech, it isn’t.  Washington’s attachment — financial, tactical, and strategic — to the U.S. military and its supposed solutions to more or less all problems in what used to be called “foreign policy” should by now be categorized as addictive.  Otherwise, how can you explain the last decade and a half in which no military action from Afghanistan to Iraq, Yemen to Libya worked out half-well in the long run (or even, often enough, in the short run), and yet the U.S. military remains the option of first, not last, resort in just about any imaginable situation?  All this in a vast region in which failed states are piling up, nations are disintegrating, terror insurgencies are spreading, humongous population upheavals are becoming the norm, and there are refugee flows of a sort not seen since significant parts of the planet were destroyed during World War II.

Either we’re talking addictive behavior or failure is the new success.

Keep in mind, for instance, that . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

12 May 2016 at 12:30 pm


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