Annual Fundraising Appeal

Here’s an important message to CounterPunch readers from
BARBARA EHRENREICH…

BarbaraE

Here at CounterPunch we love Barbara Ehrenreich for many reasons: her courage, her intelligence and her untarnished optimism. Ehrenreich knows what’s important in life; she knows how hard most Americans have to work just to get by, and she knows what it’s going to take to forge radical change in this country. We’re proud to fight along side her in this long struggle.  We hope you agree with Barbara that CounterPunch plays a unique role on the Left. Our future is in your hands. Please donate.

Day9

Yes, these are dire political times. Many who optimistically hoped for real change have spent nearly five years under the cold downpour of political reality. Here at CounterPunch we’ve always aimed to tell it like it is, without illusions or despair. That’s why so many of you have found a refuge at CounterPunch and made us your homepage. You tell us that you love CounterPunch because the quality of the writing you find here in the original articles we offer every day and because we never flinch under fire. We appreciate the support and are prepared for the fierce battles to come.

Unlike other outfits, we don’t hit you up for money every month … or even every quarter. We ask only once a year. But when we ask, we mean it.

CounterPunch’s website is supported almost entirely by subscribers to the print edition of our magazine. We aren’t on the receiving end of six-figure grants from big foundations. George Soros doesn’t have us on retainer. We don’t sell tickets on cruise liners. We don’t clog our site with deceptive corporate ads.

The continued existence of CounterPunch depends solely on the support and dedication of our readers. We know there are a lot of you. We get thousands of emails from you every day. Our website receives millions of hits and nearly 100,000 readers each day. And we don’t charge you a dime.

Please, use our brand new secure shopping cart to make a tax-deductible donation to CounterPunch today or purchase a subscription our monthly magazine and a gift sub for someone or one of our explosive  books, including the ground-breaking Killing Trayvons. Show a little affection for subversion: consider an automated monthly donation. (We accept checks, credit cards, PayPal and cold-hard cash….)
button-store2_19

or use
pp1

To contribute by phone you can call Becky or Deva toll free at: 1-800-840-3683

Thank you for your support,

Jeffrey, Joshua, Becky, Deva, and Nathaniel

CounterPunch
 PO Box 228, Petrolia, CA 95558

When No One Gives a Damn

The Politics of Simulopting

by SAUL LANDAU

“Why can’t we get some of the people in these downtrodden countries to like us instead of hating us."

– President Dwight Eisenhower, March 1953 (NY
Times, August 10, 2003)

Does Washington possess a consistent set of foreign policy principles? Presidents make war ? without after 1941 ??  having Congress declare it as per the Constitution ? and re-assure the public that they have chosen military interventions based on moral values. The public tends to back Presidents who make wars without analyzing their motives ? like creating an image of strength, useful in re-election campaigns.

In Obama’s re-election quest, he seems to return to a method of President Kennedy’s: simulopting.

“Simulopting,” my friend Marcus Raskin explained, was Kennedy’s decision making process. He promised, for example, not to withdraw US military advisers from Vietnam, so as not to appear weak. Simultaneously and secretly requesting plans to downsize out of that Asian “mess”  — after he won the 1964 election. Withdrawing from war would have inspired Republicans to label him “weak.”

To resolve the “Cuba issue,” Kennedy’s brother Attorney General Bobby, assumed the task of eliminating Fidel Castro; simultaneously, JFK sent French journalist Jean Daniel who met with Castro on November 22, 1963, with Kennedy’s wish list for a peaceful resolution. Minutes after the meeting began, an aide notified Castro of a radio news bulletin recounting an assassination attempt on Kennedy. (Fidel to author, July 1974)

Ironically, on that same day a high CIA official delivered to a Cuban agent in Paris a sniper rifle to kill Castro. Simulopting!

Bobby Kennedy, who had collaborated with Mafiosos to kill Castro ? the Mob would get its casinos and hotels back — while his older brother hanky pankied with one of their molls. Bobby even began to prosecute them. “Simulopting with chutzpah,” remarked a former Kennedy aide.

When difficult issues arise, throw conflicting options to the bureaucracy, and one side or the other will prevail. The political elite, Sunday preachers and media stars seemed unconcerned over such seeming unethical decision-making procedures. Old-fashioned American pragmatism. If it works invoke some principal to justify it! Reality rules!

In 1960 or 2008, the most important post election issue became how to win re-election. Kennedy inherited US military “advisers” in South Vietnam from Eisenhower to prop up the US-created Saigon government. Some fifty years later, Obama, inheriting Afghanistan from Bush, showed muscle: a “surge” of troops, while simultaneously opting to soon withdraw troops.

Obama’s critics and even some supporters had called him wussy. He proved his strength (vicariously) when US Seals assassinated Osama bin Laden, thus achieving W. Bush’s original objective there. And, Obama asserted after announcing the withdrawal of 10,000 troops and more to come “the Afghan people,” asserted Obama on June 22, “will be responsible for their own security by 2014. We’re starting this drawdown from a position of strength.”

Neither hawks nor doves discussed the absurdity of sending in more troops and then pulling them out without much gain. Because surging or un-surging are means to win re-election, not war.

Endless counterinsurgency in Afghanistan with uncertain forces on its borders appears foolish. But Republicans would jump with joy if Obama called for immediate withdrawal. Realists recognize the poor odds of our obtaining strategic objectives, but Republicans would spin withdrawal as “weakness”– deadly in an election campaign.

Look at the problems US presidents had in extricating themselves from Vietnam. Afghanistan ? and Iraq ? illustrated the lesson Presidents refuse to learn. One former US commander quipped after the Vietnam War: “Never fight anyone who can fight back.”

Politicians and journalists don’t ask: who invited us to intervene in Vietnam, Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? Who demanded we kill millions of their people and lose more than one hundred thousand of our own, and spend an unspeakable amount of money?

To leave Afghanistan, Obama might discard the Kennedy model and look instead to another method of fellow Nobel Peace Prize recipient, Henry Kissinger.

In August 1972, Nixon worried about how to get out of Vietnam.

“Let’s be perfectly cold-blooded about it,” Nixon said. “I look at the tide of history out there, South Vietnam probably is never gonna survive anyway? [C]an we have a viable foreign policy if a year from now or two years, North Vietnam gobbles up South Vietnam?”

US policy could survive Saigon’s fall, Kissinger opined, if it “looks as if it’s the result of South Vietnamese incompetence. If we sell out in such a way that, say, in a three-to-four month period we have pushed President Thieu [S. Vietnam] over the brink?” What Washington needed, Kissinger continued, was “some formula that holds things together a year or two, after which? no one will give a damn.”(White House tapes in Gideon Rose, “What Washington Would Do,” NY Times, June 26, 2011)

Cynical, bloody, immoral? Some Afghans might even “give a damn” about drones, errant bombs or careless NATO soldiers that whacked their loved ones. By 2018, in Washington, however, Obama will, like W. Bush, have faded into the semi-amnesia realm. The first African American president presided over bad economic times, wasn’t known as Captain Courageous and did or didn’t do something in or to Afghanistan.

Saul Landau’s WILL THE REAL TERRORIST PLEASE STAND UP will screen at the Laemmle 4-plex 1332 2nd Street in Santa Monica, California on July 26 at 7 PM. His BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch.