Monday, December 27, 2010

How's the Surge Going?

Dial 1-800-NOT-WELL!
As we enter the tenth year of our Afghanistan War/Occupation/Nation-Build, taking stock is as timely as it is inevitable. Yesterday, the Wall Street Journal published two maps of Afghanistan depicting the progress of NATO's counter-insurgency in Afghanistan.

The contrast was striking!

These maps are used by U.N. and NGO personnel to measure the dangers of traveling and operating in Afghanistan's districts. Nic Lee, director of the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office was quoted:

The country as a whole is dramatically worse off than a year ago, both in terms of the insurgency's geographical spread and its rate of attacks .... Vast amounts of the country remain insecure for the unarmed civilians, and more and more areas are becoming inaccessible.
Happy New Year.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Hope, From Now On, Will Look Like This

Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state.

Chris Hedges gave this speech to the assemblage of Anti-war veterans and activists preparing to be arrested for civil disobedience at the White House gates on Thursday, December 16. Hedges was among the 130+ who were arrested:
Hope, from now on, will look like this.

Hope will not come in trusting in the ultimate goodness of Barack Obama, who, like Herod of old, sold out his people. It will not be realized by chanting packaged campaign slogans or attempting to influence the democratic party. It will not come through our bankrupt liberal institutions-- from the press, to the withered stump that is the labor movement.

Hope will only come now when we physically defy the violence of the state. All who resist, all who are here today, keep hope alive. All who succumb to fear, despair and apathy become an enemy of hope. They become, in their passivity, agents of injustice.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Richard Holbrooke

I always hearted Richard Holbrooke and mourned his untimely death. Greatly. Even before I read Christiane Amanpour's
Eulogy for Holbrooke
. The latter is actually more an eulogy for the times in which Holbrooke contended in behalf of his Nation's interests.

My emphasis added:

What can you say about a problem like Richard Holbrooke? You either loved him or hated him or both. Myself, I loved him. Most of the press did. There is no embarrassment in this. He took us seriously and we took him seriously. We knew how much he valued the platform that we gave to him, but we were not fools and he was not a knave: He plainly wanted the platform just as much, or most of all, not for himself but for his mission. Holbrooke was the rare diplomat who understood the need to make his case publicly—that the press was not always an adversary, but was sometimes an effective method for advancing America’s goals. This was a delicate negotiation—who was the user and who the used, and why; but there were times when America’s goals seemed so obviously right that our professional relationship with Holbrooke, or at least my own, was nothing to trouble our journalistic conscience. He was a very clever man, but in his work he also never lost sight of the moral dimension. He was not a moralist, not by a long shot; but he was a moral man, and he was genuinely committed to using American persuasion and power to lessen the cruelty in the world.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Julian Assange Is Arrested on Another Day in Infamy

WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange was today refused bail and remanded in custody until 14 December over claims he committed sex offenses in Sweden.

Assange writes today in the The Australian. My excerpts & emphasis:

In 1958 a young Rupert Murdoch, then owner and editor of Adelaide’s The News, wrote: “In the race between secrecy and truth, it seems inevitable that truth will always win.”

His observation perhaps reflected his father Keith Murdoch’s expose that Australian troops were being needlessly sacrificed by incompetent British commanders on the shores of Gallipoli. The British tried to shut him up but Keith Murdoch would not be silenced and his efforts led to the termination of the disastrous Gallipoli campaign.

Nearly a century later, WikiLeaks is also fearlessly publishing facts that need to be made public.

I grew up in a Queensland country town where people spoke their minds bluntly. They distrusted big government as something that could be corrupted if not watched carefully. The dark days of corruption in the Queensland government before the Fitzgerald inquiry are testimony to what happens when the politicians gag the media from reporting the truth.

These things have stayed with me. WikiLeaks was created around these core values. The idea, conceived in Australia , was to use internet technologies in new ways to report the truth.

WikiLeaks coined a new type of journalism: scientific journalism. We work with other media outlets to bring people the news, but also to prove it is true. Scientific journalism allows you to read a news story, then to click online to see the original document it is based on. That way you can judge for yourself: Is the story true? Did the journalist report it accurately?

Democratic societies need a strong media and WikiLeaks is part of that media. The media helps keep government honest. WikiLeaks has revealed some hard truths about the Iraq and Afghan wars, and broken stories about corporate corruption.

People have said I am anti-war: for the record, I am not. Sometimes nations need to go to war, and there are just wars. But there is nothing more wrong than a government lying to its people about those wars, then asking these same citizens to put their lives and their taxes on the line for those lies. If a war is justified, then tell the truth and the people will decide whether to support it.

If you have read any of the Afghan or Iraq war logs, any of the US embassy cables or any of the stories about the things WikiLeaks has reported, consider how important it is for all media to be able to report these things freely.

WikiLeaks is not the only publisher of the US embassy cables. Other media outlets, including Britain ‘s The Guardian, The New York Times, El Pais in Spain and Der Spiegel in Germany have published the same redacted cables.

Yet it is WikiLeaks, as the co-ordinator of these other groups, that has copped the most vicious attacks and accusations from the US government and its acolytes. I have been accused of treason, even though I am an Australian, not a US, citizen. There have been dozens of serious calls in the US for me to be “taken out” by US special forces. Sarah Palin says I should be “hunted down like Osama bin Laden”, a Republican bill sits before the US Senate seeking to have me declared a “transnational threat” and disposed of accordingly. An adviser to the Canadian Prime Minister’s office has called on national television for me to be assassinated. An American blogger has called for my 20-year-old son, here in Australia, to be kidnapped and harmed for no other reason than to get at me.

..... Every time WikiLeaks publishes the truth about abuses committed by US agencies, ... politicians chant a provably false chorus with the State Department: “You’ll risk lives! National security! You’ll endanger troops!” Then they say there is nothing of importance in what WikiLeaks publishes.

It can’t be both. Which is it?

It is neither. WikiLeaks has a four-year publishing history. During that time we have changed whole governments, but not a single person, as far as anyone is aware, has been harmed. But the US , with Australian government connivance, has killed thousands in the past few months alone.

US Secretary of Defence Robert Gates admitted in a letter to the US congress that no sensitive intelligence sources or methods had been compromised by the Afghan war logs disclosure. The Pentagon stated there was no evidence the WikiLeaks reports had led to anyone being harmed in Afghanistan . NATO in Kabul told CNN it couldn’t find a single person who needed protecting....

.... In its landmark ruling in the Pentagon Papers case, the US Supreme Court said
“only a free and unrestrained press can effectively expose deception in government”. The swirling storm around WikiLeaks today reinforces the need to defend the right of all media to reveal the truth.
This is the second time I have posted on Julian Assange in these pages. The first was back on 26 July when I nominated him for the Nobel Peace Prize. I'm not sure I have much to add at this time, except to point out the irony, not to mention the mindless hypocrisy of the self-righteous western media and political leaders when they moralize over Nobel Peace Prize recipient Liu Xiaobo's incarceration. He is serving 11 years in China for "inciting subversion of state power".

Monday, November 29, 2010

News Item: More Fraggin' in Afghanistan Goin' On

Afghan police officer kills 6 NATO service members.

ABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — An Afghan border police officer opened fire on NATO troops during a training mission in the east of the country Monday, killing six NATO service members before he was shot dead, NATO and Afghan officials said.

The shooting — the highest toll for NATO forces since nine Americans died in a Sept. 21 helicopter crash — was the latest in a series of shootouts in which Afghan security forces have turned on their NATO partners.

NATO declined to identify the nationalities of the victims. The majority of forces in Nangarhar are American.

NATO is investigating an incident in which two U.S. Marines were killed earlier this month in southern Helmand province, allegedly at the hands of an Afghan army soldier.
Six NATO Soldiers Killed by Man in Afghan Border Police Uniform the headline reads. Have you noticed how American soldiers killed in Afghanistan are now being described as 'NATO Soldiers'? Softens the blow, doesn't it? That's how propaganda works.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Monday, November 22, 2010

Stop the War Coalition

Thousands of protesters took to the streets to march against the war in Afghanistan today as Nato leaders discussed bringing an end to the nine-year conflict.

Demonstrators were led by military families as they carried anti-war placards and banners against cuts to government spending.

As the march moved from Hyde Park, central London, protesters chanted: 'When they say warfare, we say welfare'. The coalition government has stated that Britain's combat role in Afghanistan will end by 2015.

Guardsman Christopher Davies, who was killed on Wednesday in Helmand, was the 100th British member of the armed forces to die this year after being deployed to Afghanistan.

Many of the protesters said the Government's commitment to end Britain's combat role over the next four years was not soon enough.

Clara Torres, 62, said: 'That's far too long for them to be there. They shouldn't be there in the first place.

Ms Torres, a retired nurse from Richmond, Surrey, who marched with her daughter and baby granddaughter, said: 'We don't own them, Afghanistan is nothing to do with us.

'We should leave now.'

Protestors take part in the Afghanistan: Time to Go demonstration, organised by Stop the War

The demonstration came to a halt in front of the fashionable Cookbook Cafe, on Park Lane.

Diners inside the expensive restaurant looked unsettled as they continued with their lunch.

At Trafalgar Square the rally was addressed by a series of speakers.

Seamus Milne, a commentator for the Guardian, said: 'In Lisbon today the Nato leaders will try to make it appear that they are bringing an end to this war, a war that is now in its 10th year

'This talk of an exit strategy is clearly a sham.'

He continued: 'They're stating that their aim is to withdraw combat troops by 2015.

John Hilary, the executive director of War on Want said: 'We have a message for David Cameron and his Liberal Democrat allies.

'Do not dare to tell us that there is no money for public services and public sector workers.

'We want the £11bn that is being spent on the war in Afghanistan to go on things we need in this country.

'Bring home the troops and bring justice to the people of Afghanistan.'

Saturday, November 20, 2010

'Bipartisanship' Is a Filthy Word which Will Bleed Us Dry

and Obama is a counterfeit Progressive.

I don't care how often the article I post below may have been reposted. I clipped it days before, as soon as I saw it because it perfectly expresses what wakes me up at 2:35 A.M. every morning until I can find my Crane radio (product placement!) and tune it in to real news on the BBC.

Joseph A. Palermo is Associate Professor, American History, California State University, Sacramento. His realm of expertise includes political history, presidential politics, presidential war powers, social movements of the 20th century, social movements of the 1960s, civil rights, and the history of American foreign policy.

I have shortened his original article, D-Day in the Class War, just a tad, adding a little emphasis of my own.

After a decade of stagnant or declining real wages, "bipartisan" schemes are proliferating to shift the burden of Washington policymakers' own catastrophic mismanagement of the nation's fiscal policies right onto the shoulders of working people. The press commentary has been abysmal. All "serious" thinkers out there on television or in print are in full agreement that "entitlements" must take a big hit, along with education and health care.

President Obama's "
bipartisan" deficit commission, co-chaired by Erskine Bowles and Alan Simpson, (sometimes referred to as the "Cat Food Commission" because of the likely dietary changes some senior citizens will have to make if its prescriptions are implemented), wants to cut taxes for the wealthy and corporations. Another high-profile group, headed by Pete Domenici and Alice Rivlin, (which might be called the "Kibble Commission"), wants to strip $650 billion out of the Social Security trust fund with a payroll tax holiday (to be paid back later!) that they believe will create economic growth. So the Cat Food Commission views Social Security in crisis and bordering on insolvency, while the Kibble Commission believes that Social Security can absorb a $650 billion hit. And these are the best and the brightest.

Both "
bipartisan" bodies claim that "tough decisions" must be made. Yet their policies are only really tough if you happen to belong to America's struggling working middle class. They want to inflict the "pain" on the government programs that have traditionally given working people a slight leg up. In these "bipartisan" schemes the financial services crooks who wrecked the economy come away smelling like roses.

Are we forgetting that it was working- and middle-class taxpayers who bailed out Wall Street's biggest investment banks in what could be the greatest gesture of working-class benevolence toward the super-rich in American history? Working-class taxpayers also paid for the unemployment insurance and infrastructure projects that were needed following the pillaging of America's housing sector. Working-class taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the bloated military budget and two wars. (They've also sent their sons and daughters off to fight.) And about eight million of them who had jobs in 2005 didn't have them anymore by the middle of 2009.

And how are working taxpayers repaid for the assistance they've given to their fellow citizens of the investing class? They get "commissions" and "foundations" and elite "study groups" that are orchestrating the next giant rip-off of America's middle class.

Few in the press seem to want to educate the public about how we got into this fiscal crisis in the first place or why projected budget surpluses at the beginning of the Bush years were so needlessly squandered. And remember:

  • Those surpluses were turned into deficits through "bipartisan" agreements, such as the Bush tax cuts, the wars, and the bailouts.
  • There's also precious little mention of the grotesque inequality in American society these days, which is worse than even during the Gilded Age.
  • The establishment press seems determined to avoid the obvious conclusion: The rich, the super-rich, and the super-duper rich (as well as the conglomerates) must pay more in taxes to get the United States through the crisis.
  • Ending the two debilitating wars and rolling back what Eisenhower called the "military-industrial complex" should be next.
  • And the billions of dollars wasted in corporate welfare each year must be diverted to human needs.

These steps should be the top priorities before any "deficit-reduction plan" is seriously considered -- "
bipartisan" or otherwise. At this moment in American history, after large swathes of the middle class have been wiped out, the last thing we need is another elite-driven assault on the living standards of working people.

Even though it was Wall Street that fostered the conditions that produced our current economic state, we're told from pundits across the political spectrum that we mustn't tax the rich because it will stymie job-creating investments. But I'm sure Lloyd Blankfein, Hank Paulson, Angelo Mozilo, and their ilk can afford to kick in a little more in taxes to save the country they claim (when under oath at least) to love so much.

In the 2010 midterm elections, the super-rich and their business associations threw around hundreds of millions of dollars in campaign cash like it was so much chump change. And they're gearing up to set new spending records in 2012. They appear to be very civic-minded plutocrats. Yet where is their "pain" and "sacrifice" when it comes to reducing the federal deficit? What "tough decisions" that affect their bottom lines are they being asked to make? And what happened to the quaint notion that those who have so greatly benefited from the opportunities American society has bestowed upon them having a special obligation to pay a little more when their country is in crisis? We're all in this together, right?

President Obama and the Tea Party Congress will most likely end up culling the absolute worst elements from the deficit reduction plans put forth so far, tie them together into a "package," slap a "
bipartisan" label on it (which inside the Beltway is close to godliness), and then ram it down our throats by triangulating against what remains of the progressives in Congress.

Politicians, pundits, commentators, and citizens must choose a side now. You're either on the oligarchy's side or on the people's side. It's D-Day in the class war.

We've been told lately, again from "
bipartisan" sources, that American soldiers will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan well past Obama's July 2011 "deadline," and the war will continue until at least the end of 2014, (at which time they'll just move the bar to 2018 or 2020 or 2030). Newly-minted "deficit hawks" should ask the question: Is it worth it to drop another $350 billion into Afghanistan? Michael O'Hanlon of the Brookings Institute, and others like him, think so, but they aren't making an argument for staying in Afghanistan -- they're manufacturing consent. Now the Peter Petersons and the rest of them are manufacturing consent on the deficit too.

The Republicans have already successfully painted the Democratic president as being outside the mainstream. They've vilified his every move and have suggested that there's a huge conspiracy behind his agenda aimed at extinguishing everything that is great and wholesome about America. With control of the House of Representatives they'll go on fishing expeditions to dredge up anything that can be construed as "corrupt." They'll dirty him up while they block any progress that might improve the lives of ordinary Americans. The people will continue to be perpetually angry and disappointed.

It's not surprising that in 2010 Democratic base voters couldn't match the Republicans vote for vote. We're told that the progressives must organize and mobilize to fight back in the coming years against the right-wing onslaught, which is true. Workers in France and Greece and college students in London are engaging in the kind of protests against austerity that should be happening here.

I guess we're going to find out if a career legislator (in the Illinois State House and the U.S. Senate) can make the adjustment from being one voice among many to take command as president. On the campaign trail it seemed self-evident that Obama would make an extremely effective chief executive. But two years later, it appears he has the temperament of a legislator. He was a great campaigner, but in power he has been a very weak leader ...accepted far too many a priori limits on moving his legislative agenda forward ....It's time for President Obama to tap into his inner community organizer.
Personally, I think the professor is just trying to end his otherwise excellent and objective essay by spinning us an up-note note. I think we've see Obama's inner community organizer. It's too late to tap into it. And there's not much there, there. Now is the time to search for a new horse to switch to, if even in mid-stream; because in two more years of this bipartisanship, our current mount will be hopelessly down stream.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Obama Betrayed Himself

And the rest of us, too!

Marshall Ganz helped devise the grass-roots organizing model for the Obama campaign. His most recent book is "Why David Sometimes Wins: Leadership, Organization, and Strategy in the California Farm Worker Movement." He is a lecturer in public policy at Harvard University.

Ganz Tells Us How Obama Lost His Voice, And How He Can Get It Back:
President Obama entered office wrapped in a mantle of moral leadership. His call for change was rooted in values that had long been eclipsed in our public life: a sense of mutual responsibility, commitment to equality and belief in inclusive diversity. Those values inspired a new generation of voters, restored faith to the cynical and created a national movement.

Now, 18 months and an "enthusiasm gap" later, the nation's major challenges remain largely unmet, and a discredited conservative movement has reinvented itself in a more virulent form.

This dramatic reversal is not the result of bad policy as such; the president made some real policy gains. It is not a consequence of a president who is too liberal, too conservative or too centrist. And it is not the doing of an administration ignorant of Washington's ways. Nor can we honestly blame the system, the media or the public — the ground on which presidential politics is always played.

It is the result, ironically, of poor leadership choices.

Abandoning the "transformational" model of his presidential campaign, Obama has tried to govern as a "transactional" leader. These terms were coined by political scientist James MacGregor Burns 30 years ago. "Transformational" leadership engages followers in the risky and often exhilarating work of changing the world, work that often changes the activists themselves. Its sources are shared values that become wellsprings of the courage, creativity and hope needed to open new pathways to success. "Transactional" leadership, on the other hand, is about horse-trading, operating within the routine, and it is practiced to maintain, rather than change, the status quo.

The nation was ready for transformation, but the president gave us transaction. And, as is the case with leadership failures, much of the public's anger, disappointment and frustration has been turned on a leader who failed to lead.

Obama and his team made three crucial choices that undermined the president's transformational mission.
  1. He abandoned the bully pulpit of moral argument and public education.
  2. He chose to lead with a politics of compromise rather than advocacy.
  3. He chose to demobilize the movement that elected him president.
By shifting focus from a public ready to drive change — as in "yes we can" — he shifted the focus to himself and attempted to negotiate change from the inside, as in "yes I can."

During the presidential campaign, Obama inspired the nation not by delivering a poll-driven message but by telling a story that revealed the person within — within him and within us .....

On assuming office, something seemed to go out of the president's speeches, out of the speaker and, as a result, out of us. Obama was suddenly strangely absent from the public discourse. We found ourselves in the grip of an economic crisis brought on by 40 years of anti-government rhetoric, policy and practices, but we listened in vain for an economic version of the race speech. What had gone wrong? Who was responsible? What could we do to help the president deal with it?

And even when he decided to pursue healthcare reform as his top priority, where were the moral arguments or an honest account of insurance and drug industry opposition?

In his transactional leadership mode, the president chose compromise rather than advocacy. Instead of speaking on behalf of a deeply distressed public, articulating clear positions to lead opinion and inspire public support, Obama seemed to think that by acting as a mediator, he could translate Washington dysfunction into legislative accomplishment. Confusing bipartisanship in the electorate with bipartisanship in Congress, he lost the former by his feckless pursuit of the latter, empowering the very people most committed to bringing down his presidency.
  • Seeking reform from inside a system structured to resist change, Obama turned aside some of the most well-organized reform coalitions ever assembled — on the environment, workers' rights, immigration and healthcare.
  • He ignored the leverage that a radical flank robustly pursuing its goals could give a reform president — as organized labor empowered FDR's New Deal or the civil rights movement empowered LBJ's Voting Rights Act. His base was told that aggressive action targeting, for example, Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), chairman of the Senate Finance Committee — where healthcare reform languished for many months — would reflect poorly on the president and make his job harder. Threatened with losing access, and confusing access with power, the coalitions for the most part went along.
  • Finally, the president demobilized the widest, deepest and most effective grass-roots organization ever built to support a Democratic president. With the help of new media and a core of some 3,000 well-trained and highly motivated organizers, 13.5 million volunteers set the Obama campaign apart. They were not the "usual suspects" — party loyalists, union staff and paid canvassers — but a broad array of first-time citizen activists. Nor were they merely an e-mail list. At least 1.5 million people, according to the campaign's calculations, played active roles in local leadership teams across the nation.
But the Obama team put the whole thing to sleep, except for a late-breaking attempt to rally support for healthcare reform. Volunteers were exiled to the confines of the Democratic National Committee. "Fighting for the president's agenda" meant doing as you were told, sending redundant e-mails to legislators and responding to ubiquitous pleas for money....

During the 2008 campaign, transformational leadership defied conventional wisdom. Funds were raised in wholly new ways. Organizers set up shop in states that no Democratic president had won in recent times. Citizens were engaged on a scale never before imagined .....

Now Obama must take a deep breath, step back, reflect on the values that drew him into public life in the first place and acknowledge responsibility for his mistakes. He must reverse the leadership choices of the first half of his term. His No. 1 mission must be to speak for the anxious and the marginalized and to lead us in the task of putting Americans to work rebuilding our future. He must advocate, not merely try to mediate in a fractious, divided Washington. And he must again rely on ordinary citizens to help us move forward.

Although the stakes are greater than ever, only by rediscovering the courage for transformational leadership can he — with us — begin anew.

Let it be so.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Will the Real 'Citizens United' Please Stand Up?

I feel as if I've wandered with Alice down the rabbit hole and into the midst of "Wonderland". I am heartsick to think that the prognosticators who predict a Republican't sweep on 2 November could be correct.

As Nancy Pelosi has pointed out, this election is about saving our Democracy from the rabid Republican't-Tea Party-ers who want to return us to the nineteenth century. The right is totally energized, the Democrats largely silent. Sadly, the Democrats continue to behave as if they were the victims of spousal abuse, trying to minimize themselves so that they won't incur the verbal attacks inflicted upon them by the vituperative, cynical, hypocritical, obstructionist Republican'ts.

How many of us know that we received a tax cut from the Obama administration? Not many because Obama did what was policy-right - not what was politically expedient and crass (like W did). Obama chose to NOT send out a check to everyone as Bush did - a check that gratuitously stated "From President GW Bush". Instead, Obama's tax cut put money into people's paychecks so that they immediately had more money in their own hands. Bad re-election politics, good economic policy.

Did you know that numerous Republican't governors and Republican't members of Congress publicly rail against Obama's stimulus money while privately imploring the Federal government to give them some of the stimulus money for their states, acknowledging in their letters of request that the effect of the stimulus monies Obama managed to push through Congress (without bipartisan support) are necessary and helpful for their states?

Did you know that most, if not all, of America's largest corporations paid NO taxes whatsoever last year, but the Republican'ts continue to hammer Democrats with being anti-corporations and pro-taxes, and constantly tell us that corporations in America are over-taxed and need relief. How do you give relief to large corporations who pay exactly NOTHING in federal taxes? Note that there is no comment in the MSM to point out that these ads are NOT TRUE.

Nancy Pelosi made a significant statement Friday night on Keith Olbermann's show which needs to be shouted from the rooftops: In the first eight months of 2010, more jobs were created under the Obama administration than were created during all of Bush's eight years in office!

Even more frightening is the fact that members of the Republican't party are so certain they will be in control of Congress once again, that they are openly appealing to white voters using racist and fear-mongering scare tactics, blaming minorities for the country's economic woes, and are openly planning to challenge and intimidate minority voters who attempt to vote in various swing districts and states, and most egregiously, in some states running ads urging minority voters NOT to VOTE. They are publicly declaring their intent to launch impeachment proceedings against Obama (as a way of rendering him politically impotent) and are gearing up to begin holding hearings immediately in 2011, while also promising to return the country to their failed policies which created the economic mess in which we are still mired.

What angers me the most is that after obstructing Obama at every opportunity, and offering NO solutions of their own, is the frighteningly real danger that the very people responsible for all the financial carnage bequeathed to Obama, the lying, hypocritical, Republican't nay-sayers will be rewarded with control of Congress so they can finish the demolition of our Constitution and our democracy begun under Reagan and almost completed under Bush II, unless we get Democrats to understand the extreme urgency of voting on Tuesday, 2 November 2010.

Please don't let that happen. Vote to save our Democracy. Vote Democratic on Tuesday 2 November 2010.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Hillary Speaks up on Progressive Taxation!!!

When I heard Hillary Clinton's voice on BBC this morning, I woke up with a start. She was saying:
It's absolutely unacceptable for those with means in [inaudible] not to be doing their fair share to help their own people while taxpayers in Europe, the United States and other contributing countries are all chipping in....The most important step [inaudible] can take is to pass meaningful reforms to expand its tax base. [Inaudible] cannot have a tax rate of 9 per cent of GDP when land owners and all the other elites do not pay anything or pay so little it’s laughable. The government must require that the economically affluent and elite support the government and people of [inaudible].
I was excited. I thought she was speaking of my own, native, banana republic. Then as I became fully awake, I discovered she was just talking about Pakistan.

The BBC's Syed Shoaib Hasan in Islamabad went on next to explain that Pakistan's tax system has come in for a great deal of criticism in recent years. Tax collection remains abysmal, he said, and Pakistan's elite routinely evade taxation by using political influence. The worst offenders include landlords and industrialists, some of whom are part of the current government.

Well, I'm still glad Hillary spoke up. I just think she could have gone further. Maybe she could have gone a little global?

Saturday, October 9, 2010

Fire Teachers? Wrong Idea! Demobilize the Troops!

News Item: States Lay Off 58,000 Teachers In September:
State and local governments laid off nearly 58,000 teachers and other education workers in September, the government announced on Friday.
This is symptomatic of the wrong direction our sorry-ass political system is moving in. The greatest danger to our national security comes from our broken economy: we need more trained and better educated workers. Working! And we are firing teachers?

Heidi Shierholz, an economist with the progressive Economic Policy Institute, says,

What the payroll numbers show is unambiguous: teachers were cut. A lot of them. States should have gotten more fiscal relief to keep this from happening. The job loss was 58,000 jobs in state and local education in September. These are teachers and other education workers who would have been expected to come back after the summer -- or start new jobs -- with the new school year.
We need to balance the budget? Reduce the deficit? Then fire the troops. Demobilize them and bring them home. One US soldier in Afghanistan costs $1 million per year. Killing each Taliban soldier costs $50 Million. We can't afford that now.

Convert them to teachers. Troops to Teachers is 16-year-old program which needs to enlarge its talent pool in order to attract the waves of younger troops returning from hot spots such as Iraq and Afghanistan and making the not-always-easy transition to civilian life.

TTT is funded by the Department of Education to the tune of about $14.4 million a year and run by a Defense Department outfit called Defense Activity for Non-Traditional Education Support. Essentially a referral and placement service, TTT provides up to $10,000 for military personnel to obtain their teaching certification; they must be retired or have left their service with at least six years of active duty. Many of the more than 11,000 men and women who have participated in the program are nontraditional first-time teachers, middle-aged former officers, sailors, soldiers and Marines who hope to parlay their skills into a very different kind of service career.
Bring our troops home - alive - and train them to serve in our country's national interests.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Af-Pak: It's Logistics, Stupid!

“Amateurs talk strategy.
Professionals talk logistics.”

What’s really important in war is to keep the troops supplied with ammo, food and fuel.

The modern US Army uses about 10 times as much fuel as did Gen. Patton’s troops in World War II. And Patton’s army used about 10 times as much fuel per capita as did the American Expeditionary Force in France under Gen. Pershing in World War I.

Fuel logistics is critical when the campaign is in distant Afghanistan.

The enemies of our International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) now titrate truck traffic into Afghanistan.

Obama's War/Occupation in Afghanistan is far from over in terms of years. But the result? That's been decided. 

The results are in.

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Af-Pak: Good News from the Front(s)

Only 35% of International Security Assistance Force's (ISAF) logistics for this occupation or war are dependent on Pakistan.

Suspected militants in southern Pakistan set ablaze more than two dozen tankers carrying fuel for foreign troops in Afghanistan on Friday, highlighting the vulnerability of the U.S.-led mission a day after Pakistan closed a major border crossing.

And on the same day, another supply route to Afghanistan was closed by the Pakistani government after fighting that led to the deaths of three Pakistani soldiers.

The story behind this was that Pakistani soldiers manning a post fired upon American helicopters. Fire was returned and obliterated the outpost.

But the really good news is that only about half the cargo that flows into Afghanistan comes in via one of the two gates from Pakistan. Another 30 percent uses two major routes through Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan, one via Russia and the other via the Caucasus. The remaining 20 percent -- mostly sensitive items like weapons, ammunition and other critical equipment -- comes in by air.


Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Petraeus or Betrayus?

What was that? What did he say? In his newest tome of yellow journalism, Obama's Wars, Bob Woodward quotes General David Petraeus as saying,
You have to recognize also that I don't think you win this war. I think you keep fighting. It's a little bit like Iraq, actually. . . . Yes, there has been enormous progress in Iraq. But there are still horrific attacks in Iraq, and you have to stay vigilant. You have to stay after it. This is the kind of fight we're in for the rest of our lives and probably our kids' lives.
That's what he said and that's why we are where we are: Baraquagmire.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

News Item: Tony Blair

Culled from various headlines:
Blair cancels book launch party over protest fears
London, England (CNN) -- Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair canceled a launch party for his new book in London Wednesday because of planned protests, his spokesman said.

Of his second London cancellation this week, the unnamed Spokesman said, Blair
did not want to put guests through the unpleasant consequences of the actions of demonstrators of what should have been an enjoyable evening for friends and family .... The party has been postponed indefinitely, (and) will be held sometime in the future. Guests were informed yesterday evening.
Blair's decision came after police made some arrests Saturday in Dublin, Ireland, where he was due for another signing event for his book. A crowd of people, some of them anti-war demonstrators, had gathered outside the shop to protest Blair's role in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and there were unconfirmed reports of eggs and shoes being thrown at Blair.

Blair said in the statement Monday,

I very much enjoyed meeting my readers in Dublin and was looking forward to doing the same in London. However, I have decided not to go ahead with the signing as I don't want the public to be inconvenienced by the inevitable hassle caused by protesters.
Lindsey German, convener of the Stop The War Coalition, which had planned the protest, said
it was a big victory ..... It shows he is running scared. The people who say we should not protest are denying us the right to persist in asking questions about the war and denying the rights of Iraqis who are still suffering because of Blair's policies.
He will not now attend a function at the Tate Modern gallery in London later, having already pulled out of another book signing in the city.

Sunday, September 5, 2010

Friday, September 3, 2010

Obama: Don't Turn the Page Until You Have Read (Out Loud) What's Written On It

90 months of war in Iraq come to an end for America? Maybe. Just to open the endless occupation to follow? I don't think so!

Let's review the pages Barack Obama wants to turn:

  • A Bush-neoCon stampede into war, based upon the mythology that Saddam was tied to al-Qaeda and had a role in 9/11, that he had VX gas, botulism, mustard gas, sarin and anthrax, and was acquiring nuclear weapons.
  • An American invasion of nation that did not attack us, did not threaten us and did not want war with us — to strip it of weapons it did not have.
  • 4,416 American KIA, 35,000 WIA, more than 25,000 with life-changing injuries and life-long disabilites.
  • $700 billion in treasury squandered with the meter still running on funding the 50,000 troops still garrisoned there..
  • Estimates - conservative - of Iraqi war dead run from 70,000 to 100,000.
The new myth is that the surge worked. It has not.
  • Terrorism has returned.
  • Iraq’s casualties are back up to where they were before the U.S. surge.
  • Electricity is off much of the time.
  • Six months after elections, no government exists; no political consensus has emerged. Iraqi statistics dead, wounded, widowed, orphaned, homeless and exiled continue unabated.
But Purge Success is the myth that Obama wants to perserve. That's why he is in a hurry to turn the page. He is a major stakeholder in mythogizing a surge for Afghanistan.

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Sunday, August 1, 2010

America's Summer of Hysteria

Yesterday's Los Angeles Times op-ed page has an article written by Tim Rutten who has just returned from a month spent out of our country. Rutten lists but a few of the many conspiracy theories and regressive policy proposals now openly promulgated not just by right-wing "fringe figures", but by mainstream Republican't congressional and gubernatorial candidates, and by current Republican't office-holders. I strongly encourage your readers to read the complete piece on A25. Here are parts of Rutten's column:
..... it's hard not to conclude that hysteria is now the dominant characteristic of our politics and civic conversation.

How else to explain the fact that questions like secession and nullification — issues that were resolved in blood by the Civil War more than a century ago — have come alive again and are routinely tossed around, not just by fringe figures but by Republican officeholders and candidates?

For example ... a Tennessee congressman who opposes the recently enacted healthcare reforms and is running for governor, told an interviewer that he hopes "the American people will go to the ballot box in 2010 and 2012 so that states are not forced to consider separation from this government."

... GOP candidates for statewide office in various Midwestern and Southern states are promoting the notion that states ought not to enforce any federal law not approved by at least two-thirds of their state legislators. It's as if John C. Calhoun suddenly had risen from the grave and had a talk show

In Nevada, the Republican candidate for the U.S. Senate has discussed abolishing Social Security and darkly mused over whether Washington's alleged overreaching may require a "2nd Amendment solution." That means guns, a prospect that could be facilitated in one state after another by an outfit called Appleseed, which holds weekend seminars whose participants are given a mix of Minuteman pseudo-history and instruction on marksmanship.

... attempts to repeal sections of the Constitution continue apace. The so-called 10thers, who want to roll back 100 years of federal law and regulation in order to assert rights under the 10th Amendment, are almost unremarkably ubiquitous in the GOP.

Candidates across the country pining for "tea party" support have endorsed repeal of the 17th Amendment, which would end popular election of U.S. Senators and return their selection to state legislatures, a step that theoretically would "restore states' rights."

The most popular such movement involves abolishing or gutting the 10th Amendment as a way to deny American citizenship to the U.S.-born children of undocumented immigrants. . . . speculates that such children actually are terrorist moles planted here to grow up as U.S. citizens as part of a long-range plot.

Nothing quite tops the anti-Muslim hysteria, which has led people to organize opposition to the construction of new mosques in places from Lower Manhattan to Temecula. One candidate for statewide office in Tennessee ... argues that the 1st Amendment does not cover Muslims.

Some inclined toward therapeutic explanations of history might attribute all this to a kind of collective post-traumatic stress syndrome engendered by the lingering, still-unresolved aftermath of the horrific events of 9/11. Others might point to the dislocating effect of electing an African American president to govern a society in which strong currents of racial anxiety still eddy beneath the surface of everyday life. Perhaps both forces act in unseen concert.
And, Rutten concludes:
Back in the early 1970s — an era whose tumult we yet may come to regard as benign — social scientists here and in Britain coined the term "moral panic" to describe what can happen when groups of people are seized by an exaggerated fear that other people or communal forces threaten their values or way of life. The scholars described those who promoted the panic's spread as "moral entrepreneurs" — a term that takes on a deep resonance when you consider the commentators and politicians who have attached themselves, and their interests, to the "tea party" and its attendant movements.

In the midst of moral panic, inchoate indignation stands in for reason; accusation and denunciation supplant dialogue and argument; history and facts are rendered malleable, merely adjuncts of the moral entrepreneur's — or should we say provocateur's — rhetorical will. As we now also see, a self-interested mass media with an economic stake in the theatricality of raised and angry voices can transmit moral panic like a pathogen.
He "nailed it", noting that today's "politics and civic conversation" is pure "hysterical moral panic" - a virulent virus that is threatening to destroy our cherished political system.

How do we fight such an out-of-control mortal virus? How do we inoculate those of our citizenry whose immune systems are engaged in fighting off this new and deadly plague?

Monday, July 26, 2010

Julian Assange: My Nomination for Nobel Peace Prize in Journalism

The statement by National Security Advisor Gen. James Jones condemned Julian Assange's Wikileaks as endangering lives of our soldiers and their mission in Afghanistan:
The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security. Wikileaks made no effort to contact us about these documents - the United States government learned from news organizations that these documents would be posted. These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.
What endangers lives is stupidity. What Jones is saying is that leaks endanger Obama's mission.

Personally, I believe military and intelligence services' secrecy should be maintained and guarded as a matter of national security. I am also not opposed to all wars in general. For example, the solutions to problems presented to the world by Iran and North Korea elude me. I am not a bully: I would not kick a good war in the teeth when it's already down on its knees. But I would take any and every opportunity to kick a bad war in its teeth.

Stupidity risks Lives. And it has been the height of stupidity, after all the experience of Vietnam and Iraq, to expect that a democratic and open society will indefinitely support and sustain a prolonged and costly war which does not address core national interests. The height of stupidity.

But on to support my nomination of Julian Assange who is behind Wikileaks' Afghanistan: The War Logs. (Good luck getting in!) This interview from TED will cost my readers some 19 minutes of their valuable time but it reveals Assange's contribution of document journalism is larger than Afghanistan-Nam. (I availed myself of the subtitles):

I rest my case. res ipsa loquitur.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Open Letter

Mr. President,

PLEASE: be the man of your speeches.

Please, please, please: appoint a "Truth Squad" to de-construct and explicate these utterly false, fabricated "news/stories" that frighten, inflame, and incite our fellow citizens. Sadly, we Americans no longer have a viable "Fourth Estate" to do the requisite fact-checking and the necessary investigative reporting they once did. So, YOU must confront these lies and distortions.

First impressions, especially when they appeal to our fears, are long remembered. The bigger and more outrageous the lie, the easier it is to remember. The right has learned these lessons well. They magnify the effectiveness of their machinations by repeating the lie over and over and over.

Right now, there is no one to say: "the emperor is wearing no clothes." We need truth-speakers. We need a president who stands up for his appointees, not a president so intimidated by right-wing talk-show hosts that he acts without all the facts.

Please, please, please: give up your fantasy of changing the Washington atmosphere. It is too toxic, and only getting more so as you refuse to name their destructive tactics. Republican'ts know only how to obstruct and to manipulate. They are incapable of negotiating in good faith and they have made their goal patently clear: Obama must fail. Stop colluding with them. Find your backbone...Please.

Stop giving away YOUR power to the enemy. They are winning the war to capture the hearts and minds of our fellow Americans - because our president is minimizing the damage that the right's lies are doing to our body politic.

By trying to ignore their obfuscating and reprehensible political machinations, trying to "take the high road", you have ceded the national dialogue to the right.

Please, stop trying to "look presidential". You must fight for us. This is a war for the hearts and souls of our fellow citizens, and you are on the sidelines. Get fired up, Mr. President. Mount your stallion! GO! Fight the good fight with all that is within you. NOW. PLEASE.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

What Would Be Worse than Failure in Afghanistan?

Howabout Success?

James Carroll, Boston Globe columnist and author of the bestselling Constantine’s Sword, wrote the following in review of Tom Engelhardt's current book, The American Way of War: How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s:
.... the Pentagon-driven mistakes, myths, self-deceptions, and crimes ... have wreaked havoc in Iraq and Afghanistan. That the American wars are proving to be as fruitless now as they were then unnecessary keeps them from rising to the level of actual tragedy....
Well, I don't know about that. Judging from Engelhardt's current perspectives, American statecraft is well on its way toward tragedy of Shakespearian proportions:

Friday, July 16, 2010

Richard Holbrooke

I've always had the greatest respect for Richard Holbrooke. His skill set in diplomacy and statecraft has proved to be unparalleled. He certainly delivered the goods during the Wars of Yugoslavian Dissolution. And I always thought he was this generation's Best and the Brightest.

But I'm not buying an 8½ year-old war from him.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Afghanization of the Occupation: Variation on a Theme

Three British Troops Are Fragged

Armed with a rocket-propelled grenade launcher and an automatic rifle, a rogue Afghan soldier attacked a group of British troops early Tuesday in southern Afghanistan, killing three of the soldiers and wounding four others before escaping.

The Afghan soldier was assigned to a patrol base shared by NATO troops and the Afghan National Army in the volatile southern province of Helmand, according to NATO spokespeople and Afghanistan's Defense Ministry.

Helmand is where American troops mounted a large-scale offensive earlier this year to uproot Taliban insurgents from a stronghold in the town of Marjah.

The motive for the attack in the Nahr-e-Sarraj district remained unclear.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

On Afghanistan, Ann Coulter and I Agree!

Well, agree somewhat, anyways...

In her July 7th column, Coulter agrees with me when I said that Michael Steele was on to something when he hung our fools' errand in Afghanistan around the President's neck as a war of Obama’s choosing. Of course, it makes me uncomfortable to agree with anything that Ann Coulter says. It's just that it's come to me that I'm feeling even more uncomfortable with General Stanley McChrystal's David Petraeus' "tough sell".

Therefore, I'm only quoting the portion of Coulter's words with which I am in agreement. In turns out that I agree with a large portion:

Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele was absolutely right. Afghanistan is Obama's war and, judging by other recent Democratic ventures in military affairs, isn't likely to turn out well.

It has been idiotically claimed that Steele's statement about Afghanistan being Obama's war is "inaccurate" -- as if Steele is unaware Bush invaded Afghanistan soon after 9/11.

Yes, Bush invaded Afghanistan soon after 9/11. Within the first few months we had toppled the Taliban, killed or captured hundreds of al-Qaida fighters and arranged for democratic elections, resulting in an American-friendly government.

Having some vague concept of America's national interest -- unlike liberals -- the Bush administration could see that a country of illiterate peasants living in caves ruled by "warlords" was not a primo target for "nation-building."

..... (literacy rate, 19 percent; life expectancy, 44 years; working toilets, 7).

..... Obama hasn't ramped up the war in Afghanistan based on a careful calculation of America's strategic objectives. He did it because he was trapped by his own rhetorical game of bashing the Iraq war while pretending to be a hawk on Afghanistan.

At this point, Afghanistan is every bit as much Obama's war as Vietnam was Lyndon Johnson's war. True, President Kennedy was the first to send troops to Vietnam. We had 16,000 troops in Vietnam when JFK was assassinated. Within four years, LBJ had sent 400,000 troops there.

.....Republicans used to think seriously about deploying the military. President Eisenhower sent aid to South Vietnam, but said he could not "conceive of a greater tragedy" for America than getting heavily involved there.

As Michael Steele correctly noted, every great power that's tried to stage an all-out war in Afghanistan has gotten its ass handed to it. Everyone knows it's not worth the trouble and resources to take a nation of rocks and brigands.

Based on Obama's rules of engagement for our troops in Afghanistan, we're apparently not even fighting a war. The greatest fighting force in the world is building vocational schools and distributing cheese crackers to children.

But now I hear it is the official policy of the Republican Party to be for all wars, irrespective of our national interest.

What if Obama decides to invade England because he's still ticked off about that Churchill bust? Can Michael Steele and I object to that? Or would that demoralize the troops?

Our troops are the most magnificent in the world, but they're not the ones setting military policy. The president is -- and he's basing his war strategy on the chants of cretins.

Nonetheless, Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney have demanded that Steele resign as head of the RNC for saying Afghanistan is now Obama's war -- and a badly thought-out one at that. (Didn't liberals warn us that neoconservatives want permanent war?)

I thought the irreducible requirements of Republicanism were being for life, small government and a strong national defense, but I guess permanent war is on the platter now, too.

Of course, if Kristol is writing the rules for being a Republican, we're all going to have to get on board for amnesty and a "National Greatness Project," too – other Kristol ideas for the Republican Party. Also, John McCain. Kristol was an early backer of McCain for president -- and look how great that turned out!

Inasmuch as demanding resignations is another new Republican position, here's mine: Bill Kristol and Liz Cheney must resign immediately.
It's yesterday's conventional wisdom that our 44th President had his Harry Truman moment in firing Stanley McChrystal. Barack Obama still has his Lyndon Johnson's date with destiny looming before him when he has to accept a single-term presidency.

I'm not just askin'... I'm sayin'...

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

The Essential Michael Hastings

As everyone in this universe knows, Michael Hastings has published a major essay in Rolling Stone chronicling how a runaway general Stanley McChrystal seized control of the war by never taking his eye off his real enemy: The wimps in the White House.

I have excerpted and re-arranged Hastings epic essay, shortening it to its essence in 1,275 words.

....Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States.

Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.

.....Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan."

.....From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government – a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it.

.....As McChrystal leaned on Obama to ramp up the war, he did it with the same fearlessness he used to track down terrorists in Iraq.....After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn't send another 40,000 troops – swelling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half – we were in danger of "mission failure." The White House was furious.

McChrystal ... was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass ..... In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted....

Today ..... the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year – a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja – continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer." In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history – and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want.

When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal's side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan – and he wasn'thampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose.....

Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal says
It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win. This is going to end in an argument.
In a classified cable Ambassador Eikenberry wrote in January was leaked to The New York Times warned,
We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos.
Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal says,
The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people. The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren't buying it.....

..... facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn't begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. a senior adviser to McChrystal says.
If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular.
Such realism, however, doesn't prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further.

But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region, says
It's all very cynical, politically. Afghanistan is not in our vital interest – there's nothing for us there.
..... After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over – the Afghan people – do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan, warns,
Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem ... A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we're picking winners and losers.
[And that's] a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word "victory" when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible....

Michael Hastings did not do a hatchet job on Stanley McChrystal. The creeping mission Afghanistan is his real target. And he nailed it.