Archive for the ‘National Security’ Category

The Boston Marathon Bombing: Some Thoughts
April 16, 2013

It’s about seven thirty in the morning, the day after two bombs exploded in the finish area of the Boston Marathon. So far three people are dead and some one hundred fifty injured.

I think this was interesting but not surprising. It was inevitable, if not at Boston then someplace else. Our culture breathes violence, encouraged by right wing politicians, fundamentalist preachers, and psychopaths of all stripes in various political subgroups, including the love-the-fetus-screw-the-child groups. We are a society of hatred and mental illness.

What is more interesting to me than the event itself is the question of who the bomber is, and why he did this.

The Weapon:

Bombs. Two of them, about a hundred yards apart, on sidewalks filled with people. The bomber planted them on the same side of the street. They weren’t there during the morning inspection by bomb sniffing dogs: either the dogs missed them, or the materials were not materials the dogs had been trained on, or the bomber planted them later during the race itself. They were, as far as I can gather now, placed on the sidewalk, ground level. There have been suggestions they were placed in trash cans, but that’s not been verified yet.

The bombs were powerful. People’s lower legs were blown away.

The bombs exploded about ten seconds apart, first the one right near the finish line, and the second about a hundred yards before the finish.

These facts suggest the following:

Choice of weapon. Anonymous. Safe, for him. If he used a cellphone to detonate them he did not have to be in the area when they exploded. The ten second gap could be explained by separate cellphone triggers: as soon as the first bomb exploded he dialed a number to trigger the second. Or it could have been that he had clock triggers that were not quite synchronized.

Placement of the weapons. As noted, he placed them where they would do maximum damage to anonymous civilians. He also placed them about a hundred yards apart and triggered them sequentially. If the sequence was intentional he might have been intending to catch people fleeing the first explosion. The placement suggests that he knew the capability of the bombs to wreak damage from where he placed them, and that he was very confident of his ability to place the weapons without being caught. Placing them at or near the finishing line grandstands suggests high levels of confidence and skill at stealth.

Unexploded weapons. Early reports from the police say that two more bombs were found, apparently in the area of the viewing stands at the finish line. These did not explode and were disposed of by the police, at least one by exploding it, according to the information the news channels are disseminating. If true, that makes four weapons. If they were also cellphone bombs, why didn’t they explode? The police say they shut down cellphone service almost immediately, which would have disabled the bombs, and also that would indicate that the bomber had not built in a backup system. It is also possible that the bombs were faulty, or that the bomber felt some remorse, or that the bomber was actually injured or killed in one of the two explosions, which might tend to eliminate cellphone triggers.

The explosives. At this point we don’t know what sort of explosive the bomber used. We do know that it was powerful, as it was contained in a small package, now suspected to be a backpack. But the fact that it was powerful suggests that the bomber is intelligent enough to either obtain powerful explosives or to manufacture the material, and that he was skilled in working with the material. Further, if he did not manufacture the explosive, he would have to have either stolen it or purchased it from a reliable source of illegal explosives. Stealing it suggests again a high level of confidence and skill at stealth. Purchasing it suggests a knowledge of criminal activity and criminal sources, as well as sufficient confidence in that knowledge that would allow him to deal with criminals without worrying about the danger of the sources implicating him in the bombings. Criminals would likely come forward with information once they realized the material they sold had been used at the Marathon. They would be better off telling what they knew rather than take the chance the bomber would implicate them in a horrendous crime that might well get them executed or imprisoned under a terrorism warrant.

Generally, the choice and use of the weapons suggests an intelligent person, someone who can plan carefully, someone with knowledge of explosives and bombmaking, someone confident enough to manufacture, plant, and explode the weapons with little fear of being caught.

These attributes suggest someone with either military training, possibly a veteran of the Iraq or Afghanistan conflicts, or someone who meticulously sought out information on how to make and place bombs. In either case he is confident and skilled. If he sought the information from public sources, he would have been careful, having formed his intent, to not use one source, say, the Internet or one particular library. He would deliberately have sought his information from a number of sources in order to evade leaving an easy trail.

The Victims:

1. The bomber chose anonymous citizens as victims.

2. The bomber did not choose a government facility, a military facility, an abortion clinic, or a corporate facility.

3. The bomber chose a popular public event which draws worldwide interest.

4. The bomber did not choose an event or a venue with any political significance.

5. The bomber apparently attended the event while it was in full swing in order to leave his weapons on the sidewalks and in the area of the grandstand. He walked among his victims before killing them.

6. The bomber has not at this point released any statement about his intent or purpose which would indicate why he chose to kill anonymous people.

7. Why did he plant bombs in the grandstands? He must have known that when the first two went off that area would be cleared and that there would not be any ceremonies to disrupt. Another possibility is that he intended to blow the grandstand first, and as the people fled from there he would blow the next bomb (the actual first explosion) as people ran that way. If so, the grandstand bombs failed for some reason. Or if he intended to blow the stands last, perhaps to catch a bunch of officials or first responders, he may have been stymied by the police-ordered cellphone shutdown. Or the bombs could simply have been faulty.

The Timing:

1. April 15 is the deadline for state and federal income tax payments.

2. April 19 is important to right-wing militias.

3. April 15 is Patriot’s Day in Massachusetts, again important to right wing militias and the like.

4. The dates may well have been simply coincidental and not important. The bomber may have considered that the public, international nature of the event, and its sheer size were the significant points of interest for his purpose.

5. The explosions occurred when, according to news sources, the sidewalks at the finish area would be crowded. If the bomber was familiar with the Marathon in past years, he would likely know this, and choose that time for a maximum kill. This would also have been well past the time when the elite runners from around the world would have gone from the area. The bomber could well have achieved an even greater effect if he had blown his bombs when the groups of elite runners were finishing. Why did he wait until later? The sidewalks would have been more crowded at that time. Possibly he might have been thinking that with a denser crowd the bombs would actually do less damage, as those closest would have suffered the most damage but would also have shielded those people farther away. If that’s so, then that might indicate that the bomber is extremely thoughtful and meticulous in his planning. If not so, he may have considered it more convenient to plant the weapons at a later time when he might find it easier to leave the area due to the lower density of people.

I’ve put these thoughts together based on what the news media have put out so far. I don’t know that everything they’ve said is accurate, as it is still early in the investigation. My suspicion is that the bomber is intelligent, careful, thoughtful, and meticulous; that he is skilled at handling explosives; that he may be former military, possibly a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan; that he is confident; that he is skilled at stealth; that this is his first bombing; that his politics lean towards the extreme right-wing; that he may have a tangential connection with right-wing militias or other organizations. That there has been no statement of purpose coming from him suggests that this may be personal: that is, he’s in it for the thrill, for the sense of personal power.

This is, of course, speculation. I simply found myself asking why a person would do this, and what kind of person might do this, and I wanted to ask and examine these questions without burdening them with the emotional cloud surrounding the events. As I said earlier, I don’t find the bombing either surprising or shocking, but merely inevitable. Vile and ugly, but inevitable.

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Late news via TPM: Apparently there were no other bombs besides the two that exploded.

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Remember Afghanistan? It’s Not Going Away. The Damn Fool’s In The Big Muddy, Again.
March 29, 2011

Do you remember this, the last verse of Pete Seeger’s song:

Knee deep in the Big Muddy
And the fools keep yelling, Push on
Waist deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling, Push on
Waist deep, neck deep
We’ll be drowning before too long
We’re neck deep in the Big Muddy
And the damn fools keep yelling to push on

Nothing much has changed if you believe Ray McGovern’s piece over at Common Dreams. Same fools, different names, same games.

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Richard Holbrooke, Diplomatic Giant: Not So Much, Not So Much
December 14, 2010

Ray McGovern, former CIA analyst and military intelligence officer, doesn’t agree with all the praise being heaped on the freshly dead Richard Holbrooke. He’s got quite another point of view, expressed at the site Consortium News.

A couple of bits:

And, in the curious standards of Official Washington, Holbrooke’s circumspection and silence – even as countless “small” people get wounded and killed – is cause for lionizing him in death.

And…

And the American troops? It is hard to escape the conclusion that Holbrooke shared the view of Henry Kissinger, another devotee of Realpolitik diplomacy who had little regard for the humanity and value of common soldiers.

In the book Kiss the Boys Goodbye: How the United States Betrayed its Own POWs in Vietnam, Kissinger is quoted as saying: “Military men are just dumb stupid animals to be used as pawns in foreign policy.”

Not the hero our politicos and media pretty boys are making him out to be.

Worth reading.

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Americans Got No Imagination, According To Our Best And Brightest
May 17, 2010

In today’s Common Dreams there’s an article from the Boston Globe about the Department of Homeland Security seeking to take land from a Vermont farmer in order to beef up, to the tune of eight million dollars, a crappy little Canadian border crossing station.

But that’s not the important bit in the piece. This is the really important bit:

Allison Stanger, director of the Rohatyn Center for International Affairs at Middlebury College, said the government is right to shore up aging, little-used border crossings.

"If there’s a weak link in the chain, that’s precisely what our enemies would target for getting things into the country,” she said. "It seems far-fetched to think that something like this could happen in beautiful Vermont. But before it happened, what American would have thought that someone would fly a plane into a building?”

According to Ms. Stanger, Americans are too damn stupid to have looked at the World Trade Center towers, sticking up like two very sore thumbs way above the New York City skyline, and fail to consider that a) an airplane might collide with them or b) that an airplane might be flown into them.

The Lion would venture that most people who looked at those buildings had one or both of those thoughts, and if you had the first one you didn’t have to be too imaginative to come up with the second.

According to Ms. Stanger Americans have no imagination, none at all, despite having access to the vast wealth of news and information that flows around the world twenty-four hours a day and despite having seen some really brutal acts by various terrorist and military groups virtually every week.

So what else could Americans not imagine?

How about floating submerged mines or heavy explosives down to some of the giant dams in the western states?

How about loading a legitimate cargo ship under a flag of convenience with high explosives and sailing it into the piers of the Golden Gate bridge?

How about loading a U-Haul truck with explosives and blowing it up in front of a Federal building? Oh, wait, that’s been done, by an American citizen, all white and crew-cut, in Oklahoma City.

How about sending a team of suicidal Islamic warriors into an attack on underprotected nuclear plants, or pathetically unguarded chemical plants in densely populated areas of the country?

How about spending years developing a plan to infiltrate and take over a liquid natural gas tanker and blowing it up in a major American port? That’s probably already under way.

How about getting some of those now publicly available DNA mixing kits, a competent set of fanatic scientists, and turning loose some suicidal pathogen-infected jihadis in the coffee shops and restaurants of New York City and Chicago and Los Angeles? That should be doable these days.

How about doing a bunch of small things, like weakening water delivery mains around the country to cause blowouts like Boston had a few days ago? Do a lot of small things that add up to huge economic damage, and make them seem like simple infrastructure failures.

How about having fifty operatives in fifty cities drop about a dozen packets in each city, packets containing white powder, some of which is anthrax or something that reads as anthrax in standard tests? Put them in restaurants and supermarkets. That should cause some upset and some economic damage.

How about kidnapping Ms. Stanger and putting her in a creative thinking class for six months or so? She’s obviously not bright enough to hold a position of responsibility that requires the use of some imagination.

She’s not the only one, of course. The United States has had entire governments that didn’t have enough imagination to figure out that there are bright, imaginative, deadly people in the world who can apparently out-think and out-imagine American bureaucrats.

Such people flew airplanes into the World Trade Center because the idiots in charge in Washington just couldn’t imagine such a thing and saw no need to beef up security here in the United States. Especially when they thought it was so much more dramatic and political to attack third world countries to gain votes for re-election.

They didn’t have the slightest idea of what that would unleash. Talk about a lack of imagination! 

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Corrective Rape: The Best People Do It
April 8, 2010

The United States Department of State reports in today’s Globe, in an AP article, that gays in the broken and destitute nation of Zimbabwe ‘face widespread harassment’.  Homosexual acts are illegal in Zimbabwe.

Not only has Zimbabwe stepped back into medieval ignorance and brutality on just about every front imaginable, it has sunk to new depths of stupidity too.

Gay men were forced into heterosexual acts and lesbian women were raped, sometimes by male relatives, to teach them to change their ways, said Amanda Porter, political officer at the US Embassy in Harare and compiler of the report.

“Some families reportedly subjected men and women to corrective rape and forced marriages to encourage heterosexual conduct,’’ she [State Department political officer Amanda Porter in Harare] said Tuesday.

Corrective rape. Think about that for a minute. Let it work around your consciousness for a while. Corrective rape.

If someone doesn’t agree with your rules, your style of living, well, rape them. Brutalize them, and that will turn them into good little conformists, that will bring them around to your way of thinking.

Corrective rape.

But what can you expect from a country driven back into primitive times by a psychotic dictator who is no better than a common thug informed by witch doctors?

Right?

One could argue that the best people, the best governments, do the same thing. The United States did it in Iraq, and Afghanistan. Iraq didn’t fit into George W. Bush and his bunch of neocon witch doctors’ world view, so that country had to be correctively raped. Of course, the gays in Zimbabwe are real gays, and the stuff Bush used to justify raping Iraq had to be made up, but rape is rape. Iraq now stands corrected. If we listen hard we can hear explosions of joy almost every day now in Iraq.

And Afghanistan continues to receive its therapy of corrective rape, begun under Bush and continuing under Obama, who is apparently under the spell of Democratic witch doctors. The Taliban, who never attacked the United States, and who are out of power, or would be if the United States wasn’t supporting a corrupt and apparently addled fellow who may or may not be in control of Kabul, the Taliban are the current recipients of corrective rape as applied by Obama and the United States government and the United States military.

The Taliban are not, of course, the nicest people, and they disagree with the United States and do not want to follow the dictates of the United States. So they should be raped. Correctively. By bombs. By rockets fired from anonymous drones. By American soldiers eager to prove their own ignorance and brutality by killing as many women and children as possible, knowing that the military brass will brush off such murder as ‘collateral damage’. The difference between ‘collateral damage’ and corrective rape? None if you’re the one taking the damage, the one getting raped.

So, the difference between the putatively most technologically advanced nation on earth and one of the most backward nations on earth? None, really.

And Obama and his political shamans brought that home with even more force with the recent revelation that he had ordered the killing of an American citizen, Anwar al-Awlaki, a loudmouth jihadi born in New Mexico, operating overseas, linked to the Fort Hood killings and the Christmas airline bomb plot.  Like it or not, the man is an American citizen, entitled to the protections of the Constitution and laws. That means dragging him into court and proving the case against him and then sentencing him to death if warranted. Like it or not, the United States claims to be a nation of laws. There is no middle ground. You cannot be a nation of laws sometimes, and not at other times when it may be inconvenient or may not suit the particular neurosis of the crew in power.

If an American President can order the murder of this American citizen, then he, or the next one, or the one after that, can order the killing of any American who disagrees with the crew in power. There is no middle ground.

And given the actions of the United States government under George W. Bush and Barack Obama, it has become apparent that the United States is no longer a nation of laws, but has become a nation that justifies the application of corrective rape not only to nations that disagree with it, but to its own citizens.

The virulent right will cheer the application of corrective rape, whether in the United States or overseas. The left will cluck-cluck powerlessly. The middle will continue on in ignorance, letting it happen while they worry about bills and jobs and school bullying, not understanding the significance of the matter because for the most part they understand nothing about the republic in which they live. The ironic thing is that all of them, no matter their persuasion, can now be considered suitable, by some crew in power, for corrective rape.

Not quite what the Founders had in mind, though they were well aware of the difficulty. As Ben Franklin said, “[We’ve given you] a Republic, if you can keep it.” Apparently, the Republic has been correctively raped by its people and its government. Old Ben must be rolling about in his grave with both hands over his ass.

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In The Woods In Afghanistan For Christmas – Double Bogey
December 8, 2009

Tiger Woods…

Apparently he played the wrong club several times.

The Globe reports today, second-hand, that his wife has had enough and moved out.

Tiger himself is reported to be in seclusion. Hiding because of the hiding he’s taking in the press.

One or two women, he might have played through, taking a penalty shot on a bogey fairway. But ten? So far? Unless Tiger’s got a bit of the sociopath in him, he’s got to go a long way to repair his career and his reputation.

Too bad. All the money and the adulation got to him. He let it happen. And he played the squeaky clean athlete all the while. Kind of like the baseball liars pushing their faux heroism while jamming drugs into themselves. It’s the hypocrisy, stupid.

He should have stayed single. He could have banged all the dames he wanted, and been admired for it by millions of fawning males. But with a wife and kids? That puts him down in the moral pits with United States Senators of the Republican and Conservative persuasion (and yes, the occasional Democrat, but at least the Democrats don’t lecture us on morality and virtue while they’re banging their mistresses).

Afghanistan…

The big argument today is whether to call the increased troop commitment a surge or an escalation.

Doesn’t matter what you call it. It’s just bullshit to cover Washington’s political asses and get more people killed and put more money into the pockets of profiteering contractors and corporations.

According to a recent CNN poll 64 percent of Americans agree ‘that Afghanistan is a linchpin for the nation’s security’ and that the ‘safety and security’ of the United States are at stake.

The Lion doubts that five percent of the population could provide an intelligent and informed account of the situation there.

And maybe one percent have asked the question of what would happen if Afghanistan were transformed into a somewhat stable nation next Tuesday. Would the U.S. be safer and more secure?

Hardly. Eight years after the casus belli we’re not fighting anyone responsible for attacking New York and Washington then. To say that Afghanistan attacked us is fatuous in the extreme; we might as well say Boston and New York attacked us – that’s where the weapons came from, that’s where the operatives operated from. That their parent organization had camps in Afghanistan is irrelevant.

Instead the American government keeps cooking up new reasons to fight a scruffy bunch of religious nationalists who won’t ever quit and whose numbers grow as the presence of foreign forces acts as an efficient and effective recruitment tool.  Recruitment is furthered by the Afghan government, which is broadly and profoundly corrupt, from the very top to the very bottom.

It could be said that the Americans are killing for religion and dying for corruption.

It’s the Big Fool and the Big Muddy all over again.

Oh, and that successful surge in Iraq? Five bombs in Baghdad killed over a hundred people yesterday and injured two hundred, and those are just the latest in a long line of post-surge violent acts. Elections are being put off. The same factions are at each other’s throats. And one hundred twenty thousand American troops are still there, still mired in the sandpit of an illegal, immoral, unjust, plain flat out wrong war.

Happy Holidays.

[Christmas present… lookee here…]

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Is Senator Mitch McConnell Really A Frightened Old Woman, Or Is He A Fearmongering Lying Hypocrite?
November 14, 2009

imageLet’s get the ad hominems out of the way first for Republican Senator Mitch McConnell from Kentucky.  He, if the Senator is actually a ‘he’, looks like an old woman. A scary old woman, if you choose to believe the scary things he says. A dumb and frightened old woman if you are considerably saner and more rational than he appears to be.

And what about the facelifts? How many has he had? If his face were stretched any tighter over his skull the skin would probably split, like one of those horror movies where some alien has infested the character and is ready to burst forth. Of course an explosion of Mitch McConnell’s face would be considerably duller. The only thing that would burst forth would be a torrent of hot air feeding a chorus of ‘No, no, no!’

McConnell is the Senate Minority Leader, which is to say he leads the choir of braying fools that the Republican Senators have formed. He tries to push people around, just like the bully he apparently is. It is a truism that bullies and their ilk are usually frightened, immature, pathetic creatures. McConnell is no different.

He’s got a thing for fear. Why else does he try to terrify Americans every time he opens his mouth? His latest fright fest involves the recent decision of Attorney General Eric Holder to try five terrorists in Federal court in New York City. If we listen to McConnell we might begin to think that these five men are superaliens from another planet, with vast supernatural powers that will overcome the United States and reduce Americans to  perpetual servitude. Perhaps he says such things to distract Americans from his and his party’s apparent desire to reduce American minorities and the poor and the workers to perpetual servitude to the mucky-mucks of the Republican Party. Be that as it may, here is McConnell’s latest bit of frighted paranoia, from today’s Globe (hard copy only, unfortunately):

McConnell…said bringing the terrorism suspects into the United States “is a step backwards for the security of our country and puts Americans unnecessarily at risk.”

Right. The United States government can’t handle five men who have spent years locked up, abused, tortured, and otherwise mistreated. The United States is so weak and pathetic that five fanatic ideologues, reduced to bag-headed servitude, can bring the country down.

As for putting Americans ‘unnecessarily at risk’, that’s exactly what McConnell and his boy master, George Bush, and the entire right wing political structure of the Republican Party did when they invaded Afghanistan and Iraq. They did more damage to the United States than the entire complement of al-Qaeda operatives could hope to do in a lifetime.

Republicans like to talk about American values when they blither image in public, but their true colors come blaring forth when people like McConnell and his parallel number in the House, Representative John Boehner of Ohio, open their mouths and spew the corruption festering in their hearts and minds. Boehner had this to say about the decision to try the terrorists in New York:

“The Obama Administration’s irresponsible decision to prosecute the mastermind of the 9/11 attacks in New York City puts the interests of liberal special interest groups before the safety and security of the American people,’’ House minority leader John Boehner, Republican of Ohio, said in a statement. “The possibility that Khalid Sheik Mohammed and his coconspirators could be found ‘not guilty’ due to some legal technicality just blocks from Ground Zero should give every American pause.’’

Boehner has already decided that these guys are guilty. So far all we know for sure is that the central figure was waterboarded 183 times and confessed under torture to multiple activities. He probably confessed that he and his friends nailed Jesus to the cross and stole his wallet too. During a more whimsical torture session he may well have admitted to having threesome sex with George W. Bush and Dick Cheney. In fact, he may well have been driven into serious mental illness (physiologically, in addition to the ideological illness burdening him and his friends).

But for Boehner and McConnell and their friends, the American justice system is incapable, incompetent, and is probably a ‘liberal special interest group’. No way could it handle five broken creatures in a trial.

And the ‘legal technicality’ that Boehner is afraid of? Torture, no doubt, since information gained under torture is not admissible in American courts. But Boehner and his friends would also tell you that the United States does not torture people. The United States did torture people under the Bush administration, killing several, possibly a hundred. It would be foolish to believe that the United States does not still torture human beings just because the President says so.

Boehner and McConnell and their friends apparently consider ‘American values’ to include torture, lying, disparaging the American legal system, insulting the intelligence of Americans, insulting the local and Federal security organizations responsible for handling criminals like these five men, and insisting on the right of every Republican politician to lie about everything and cheat on their wives. That’s the Republican way, as Republicans have proven time and again for the last couple of decades at least.

McConnell and Boehner want all Americans to be frightened, else why the constant fearmongering. They don’t spit fear because there is anything to be afraid of, but because frightened Americans vote for Republicans. And Republicans think Americans are stupid enough to continue falling for the blithering spew of fear that McConnell and friends vomit forth every chance they get.

The sad part is that too many Americans are that stupid. And a stupid electorate is the one thing that Republicans hope for, deep in their heart of hearts, which hearts are in sum about as big as a virus.

Imagine this crowd taking over the Congress next year. Now there’s something that should frighten the toughest, meanest old woman in the country.

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Americans Dying For Voter Fraud In Afghanistan; Pakistan Rips Off Billions Of American Taxpayer Dollars; Iran Ain’t So Stupid As The Wingnut Warriors Want To Believe
October 6, 2009

Some links to interesting things:

Voter fraud from Afghanistan, described by Peter W. Galbraith, fired by the United Nations because he dealt in reality, while the U.N. and the U.S. find it more convenient to promulgate the lie that Hamid Karzai and the Afghan government are legitimate. This is what American and Canadian and British soldiers are dying for, a fraudulent view, sponsored and encouraged by their governments, of a medieval warlord government corrupt right down to its underwear. It’s like the good old days of the Cold War: “We gave them money so they must be good and democratic, right? Right!” That’s the policy that kept dozens of brutal dictators in power, and millions of people living in fear of their United States-supported governments. Nothing learned, nothing gained, people again dying for idiots running the Western governments in London, Washington, Bonn, Ottawa, you name it.

Pakistan rips off billions of American taxpayer dollars to sustain and increase Pakistani corruption. Military aid is routinely sidetracked to private pockets and ego projects, and the United States has no way, or simply refuses, to track where the money goes. It’s just more self-delusion from Washington, pretending that the Pakistani government is legitimate rather than just another collection of corrupt frauds.

A realistic view of Iran’s nuclear policy and potential, contrary to what the neocons and their acolytes in the Obama administration would have us believe about raging maniacs. The writer doesn’t pretty them up, but he casts a rational eye on them.

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Latest Defense Joke: The Afghan War Is Worth Fighting
September 4, 2009

Never mind the nonsense coming from Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates and the Pentagon brass about increasing troop numbers in Afghanistan, and never mind the stupidity of reprising the destructive Bush policy of extending tours of duty.

Focus on the other nonsense, the nonsense that had Gates saying yesterday at a press conference that the war is worth fighting.

“If they [the troops] interact with the Afghans in a way that gives confidence to the Afghans that we’re their partners and their allies, then the risks that I have been concerned about the footprint becoming too big . . . is mitigated.’’ In particular, Gates cited efforts by [General Stanley] McChrystal to distribute US troops to better protect the population and reduce civilian casualties.

Gates and his friends seem to think that the Afghans are simply things about which we have only to worry how big our footprint is on their necks.

The Afghans, for their part, seem to have a more realistic view of the United States presence in their country. We invaded their country. We’ve slaughtered their countrymen and women and children. We support a corrupt government led by Hamid Karzai, seen pretty much as an American puppet. We support rule by warlord and thug.

Our troops don’t speak the language, have nothing in common with the culture, and are rightly more concerned with their own survival than with pretending to be cultural ambassadors. Their job is to kill people wearing funny-looking clothes.

But Gates isn’t done with myopia.

Instead, he said, uprooting terrorist groups requires a more holistic campaign to shore up internal security – the type of effort McChrystal and other top US military leaders envision.

“Even if you want to focus on counterterrorism, you cannot do that successfully without local law enforcement, without internal security, without intelligence,’’ he said.

The idea of internal security run by a corrupt regime is laughable on its face. Afghans want to make a living, want to support their families. In a tribal land ruled by guns, power, greed, and feudal morality, they’ll go where the money is. If the Taliban pay them ten dollars a day to shoot Americans, what the hell, why not, the government only pays five dollars and you have to kick back a couple of those.

Law enforcement? Internal security? Intelligence? Those are opium dreams and you can smell the fumes coming out from under the doors of the Pentagon’s fantasy addicts.

It’s not even clear that Gates and his crew understand that the Taliban is a religious nationalist movement. Thugs, yes. Barbarians, yes. But they’re Afghanistan’s thugs and barbarians, not ours. Their real fight is with other Afghans.

From the physical newspaper, left out of the online version:

Gates cited the continuing threat from Al Qaeda and its Taliban allies as the top reason why the US should stay in Afghanistan. Leaving would allow terrorists to reestablish staging bases in a nation where the political leadership in unable to curb insurgent threats, Gates said in a blunt reference to the Step. 11, 2001 attacks.

“We’re in Afghanistan less for nation-building than we are in giving the Afghan state the capacity to oppose Al Qaeda, to oppose the use of their territory by other violent extremists, and for them to have that capacity that can be sustained over a period of time,” the secretary said.

Sure, Gates, drag out 9/11 again, just like the Republican you are. It’s always good for a scare, as long as you ignore the fact that your former boss in the White House ignored all the intelligence preceding and pointing to that attack.

But never mind that. The Taliban and al Qaeda had at best an arm’s length relationship back in the day. It amounted to two groups of thugs uneasily sharing a neighborhood. Today we’re fighting the Taliban, who are Afghan nationalists. Al Qaeda may have some people in the fight, but mostly they’re snickering at how cleverly they’ve trapped the Great Satan (more accurately the Great Fool) in a quagmire that eats men, machines, blood, and American tax money. Al Qaeda has conned the United States into an illusion worthy of several David Copperfields.

Just how high and how deep into the bone does the delusion go?

By the end of the year, an estimated 68,000 troops will be in Afghanistan, 21,000 of which were ordered there by Obama last spring. Military commanders and State Department officials on the ground, however, say many more are needed to get the job done. [Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike] Mullen described “a sense of urgency” in securing Afghanistan to make sure extremists can no longer hatch terrorist plots against the United States and its allies from within its borders.

So we’re going to throw thousands of more troops into the sausage machine to keep some people from plotting against us? Here’s a flash. There are people in New York City plotting against us. There are people in Washington, D.C. plotting against us. And in Pakistan. And in India. And in Iraq. And in Iran. And in France and England. And in Russia. There are people all over the world plotting against us. What’s the United States going to do? Invade them all? Drop smart bombs in Paris and London and Peoria?  Nutcases in America are bringing loaded guns to President Obama’s public events, and the country’s leaders are fantasizing about crazies in Afghanistan.

The United States is bleeding itself dry in Afghanistan and Iraq because it was attacked by the equivalent of a smart gang of street thugs, none of whom, by the way, were from Iraq, and none of whom were Afghans.

It’s time to get out of Iraq and Afghanistan and start dealing with terrorists as what they are: smart, dedicated, sophisticated   gangs. Go after their money, go after their resources, go after their leaders. Use international police and intelligence resources and financial resources. Use small military teams when necessary. Be relentless, but be smart. Borders and nations mean nothing to terrorists, and it’s way past time the United States leadership understood that fact and changed its ways.

Proof Positive That Republicans Are Marxists
August 8, 2009

There can no longer be any question that Republicans are Marxists, following sheepishly along behind their leader, Marx, as they put into practice his famous maxim: ‘Whatever it is, I’m against it.’

That would be the Marx with the glasses, the moustache, and the cigar, in the film Horse Feathers.

As for the Republicans’ current campaign of sowing civil discord verging on violence and mayhem, and seeding their mindless adherents with ignorance and lies, that would be a policy more in line with Lenin, or any petty, power-hungry tyrant seeking to overthrow a government by ripping apart the citizenry with tactics befitting con men, liars, and gutter fighters.

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