Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
DOUBLE YOUR DONATION!
We don’t run corporate ads. We don’t shake our readers down for money every month or every quarter like some other sites out there. We provide our site for free to all, but the bandwidth we pay to do so doesn’t come cheap. A generous donor is matching all donations of $100 or more! So please donate now to double your punch!
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Murder Inc. in Afghanistan

Let me get this straight. Robert Gates, the Secretary-Of-Defense-For-Life, is touring the TV news shows and major newspapers pleading with great angst lines in his forehead that WikiLeaks is “guilty” and “morally culpable” for releasing 75,000 field reports from Afghanistan to the American public because they endanger Afghans allied with US forces.

But he and the US militarists who initiated the war in Iraq and who have continued the war in Afghanistan for nine years, the people who keep everything about these wars secret except what is useful to sustain them, the people who finance these wars on credit without raising taxes, dumping the costs on future generations – these people are not “morally culpable,” “guilty” or endangering anyone?

Do I have that right?

In other words, to reveal information about the war makes one morally guilty of endangering people, while being responsible for the war itself does not.

You have to give a man like Gates credit. He has a pleasant, nice guy manner and earns his salary by being able to lie like a dog with a straight face – and if it’s necessary, even show a modicum of passion on cue.

The playwright Arthur Miller wrote a great little book called On Politics and the Art of Acting, in which he shows that Ronald Reagan was not the only actor in Washington, that in fact acting is an indispensable talent for modern US political leadership — especially in this moment in our history when the ability to deny reality is so critical.

“Perhaps it needs to be said,” Miller writes, “that as a general rule, an axiom if you will, the closer one approaches any kind of power the more acting is required.”

When he was interviewed by ABC’s Christiane Amanpour, Gates was in full thespian mode. He said this:

“I’m not sure anger is the right word. I just — I think, mortified, appalled!”

Amanpour lobbed him a softball: “Is WikiLeaks criminally liable?”

“That’s not my arena,” he said. “But there’s a moral culpability. And that’s where I think the verdict is guilty on WikiLeaks.”

Julian Assange, the Australian founder and director of WikiLeaks, says they held back thousands of the field reports they felt might endanger someone. “We’ve worked hard,” he told reporters in London, “to make sure there’s not a significant chance of anybody coming to harm.”

The WikiLeaks revelations seem to be resonating much farther than their actual news value, which may explain Gates’ passion. As Frank Rich pointed out in the Sunday New York Times, the WikiLeaks revelations, like the Pentagon Papers 39 years ago, aren’t new information; what they are is “a herald of the end of American engagement in Afghanistan.”

If Rich is right, the war in Afghanistan is over — and everybody in Washington is now going into a huddle to get their stories straight.

A front page story in the Sunday New York Times supports this view. It suggests a consensus has been reached that the counterinsurgency campaign is a failure, leaving the default decision that the US military will be relying more exclusively on its Delta Force and Seal assassination teams used to thin out Taliban leaders and intimidate anyone thinking of applying for those leadership openings. The few al Qaeda leaders remaining in Afghanistan are also targets of these teams.

Labeled “counter-terrorism,” this approach has been pushed for some time by Vice President Joe Biden. What it amounts to is jettisoning the more costly counter-insurgency “long-war” of development and “nation building” and focusing more on the secret hunter/killer teams that General Stanley McChrystal was famous for managing under the radar. (One of McChrystal’s claims to fame in Anbar Province in Iraq was preventing the Red Cross from visiting the major hunter/killer task force interrogation center in Baghdad.)

In conjunction with a greater focus on secret killings, this means we will see an easing of the US reluctance to negotiate with Taliban and insurgent elements. We’ll be hearing less and less about Hamid Karzai’s corruption and more what a sterling leader he is as he works with Pakistan General Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, both of whom want to negotiate with Taliban and insurgent forces.

The reality is, the Taliban are Pashtuns, and Karzai is a Pashtun. Plus the Pakistanis have long been allied with Afghan Pashtuns as a check against their bitter enemy India, who is allied with the Afghan Northern Alliance of ethnic groups, our original ally in the war. The WikiLeaks reports made this Pakistani link very evident.

This will allow President Obama to keep to his July 2011 troop removal date, which of course will not satisfy anyone in the peace movement, since, this being Washington-speak, the July 2011 troop removal will not be a total removal of troops — just a reduction down to the bare bones secret assassin teams and their support elements.

What military thinkers have done since the notorious Phoenix Program in Vietnam is deconstruct and analyze the assassination process and juice it up with all sorts of high-technology intelligence interfaces. We are assured this has been done to better identify and locate the correct high-profile target – the real “bad guys.” At that point, the team focuses a quick, highly-lethal assault on the target.

Of course, mistakes are made and innocent civilians die. When this happens, General David Petraeus puts his acting chops into operation and apologizes. That is, after he denies it first.

This all means, as we approach July 2011, our military presence in Afghanistan is going to be effectively reduced to murdering people on secret death lists.

From one political vantage point, this is like something out of a slick Steven Coonts assassin thriller off the grocery store shelf; while from another, it’s like the more crude death squads in a place like El Salvador. Choose your narrative metaphor.

History shows that focused killing and brutality like this works in the short term. Watch The Battle Of Algiers where the French break the FLN in the city of Algiers by this kind of ruthless elimination tactic. But, then, two years later, watch France sent packing by a larger, more democratic upheaval of opposition.

How these death lists are created and who gets on them is the natural question. For instance, is opposition to US military occupation cause for being on a death list? The answers to questions like this are, of course, secret, and what has motivated the creation of WikiLeaks.

US agents are currently investigating and, in several cases, intentionally harassing friends and associates of WikiLeaks. So far, the White House and Department of Defense have not formed a group called The Plumbers.

Two days ago, I spoke with an Iraq veteran who was an Army intelligence analyst like PFC Bradley Manning, the young soldier now being held in Kuwait and charged with leaking to WikiLeaks the video known as “Collateral Murder.”

As someone who worked in radio intelligence in Vietnam, I asked this young veteran about secrecy in Iraq and Afghanistan. He laughed and told of vast internet networks of intelligence reports and other encoded content. This whole web world and everything in it is declared secret.

“The whole war is secret!” he said.

When you add it all up, even if you are a flag-waving American, you have to admit our military, including smooth leaders like Robert Gates, could be getting away with murder.

And we would never even know it.

JOHN GRANT is a founding member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, collectively-owned, journalist-run online newspaper. His work, and that of colleagues Dave Lindorff, Linn Washington and Charles Young can be found at www.thiscantbehappening.net

 

 

 

 

WORDS THAT STICK

?

 

More articles by:

JOHN GRANT is a member of ThisCantBeHappening!, the new independent, uncompromised, five-time Project Censored Award-winning online alternative newspaper. 

October 23, 2018
Dean Baker
Looking for the Next Crisis: the Not Very Scary World of CLOs
Binoy Kampmark
Leaking for Change: ASIO, Jakarta, and Australia’s Jerusalem Problem
Chris Wright
The Necessity of “Lesser-Evil” Voting
Muhammad Othman
Daunting Challenge for Activists: The Cook Customer “Connection”
Don Fitz
A Debate for Auditor: What the Papers Wouldn’t Say
October 22, 2018
Henry Giroux
Neoliberalism in the Age of Pedagogical Terrorism
Melvin Goodman
Washington’s Latest Cold War Maneuver: Pulling Out of the INF
David Mattson
Basket of Deplorables Revisited: Grizzly Bears at the Mercy of Wyoming
Michelle Renee Matisons
Hurricane War Zone Further Immiserates Florida Panhandle, Panama City
Tom Gill
A Storm is Brewing in Europe: Italy and Its Public Finances Are at the Center of It
Suyapa Portillo Villeda
An Illegitimate, US-Backed Regime is Fueling the Honduran Refugee Crisis
Christopher Brauchli
The Liars’ Bench
Gary Leupp
Will Trump Split the World by Endorsing a Bold-Faced Lie?
Michael Howard
The New York Times’ Animal Cruelty Fetish
Alice Slater
Time Out for Nukes!
Geoff Dutton
Yes, Virginia, There are Conspiracies—I Think
Daniel Warner
Davos in the Desert: To Attend or Not, That is Not the Question
Priti Gulati Cox – Stan Cox
Mothers of Exiles: For Many, the Child-Separation Ordeal May Never End
Manuel E. Yepe
Pence v. China: Cold War 2.0 May Have Just Begun
Raouf Halaby
Of Pith Helmets and Sartorial Colonialism
Dan Carey
Aspirational Goals  
Wim Laven
Intentional or Incompetence—Voter Suppression Where We Live
Weekend Edition
October 19, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Jason Hirthler
The Pieties of the Liberal Class
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Day in My Life at CounterPunch
Paul Street
“Male Energy,” Authoritarian Whiteness and Creeping Fascism in the Age of Trump
Nick Pemberton
Reflections on Chomsky’s Voting Strategy: Why The Democratic Party Can’t Be Saved
John Davis
The Last History of the United States
Yigal Bronner
The Road to Khan al-Akhmar
Robert Hunziker
The Negan Syndrome
Andrew Levine
Democrats Ahead: Progressives Beware
Rannie Amiri
There is No “Proxy War” in Yemen
David Rosen
America’s Lost Souls: the 21st Century Lumpen-Proletariat?
Joseph Natoli
The Age of Misrepresentations
Ron Jacobs
History Is Not Kind
John Laforge
White House Radiation: Weakened Regulations Would Save Industry Billions
Ramzy Baroud
The UN ‘Sheriff’: Nikki Haley Elevated Israel, Damaged US Standing
Robert Fantina
Trump, Human Rights and the Middle East
Anthony Pahnke – Jim Goodman
NAFTA 2.0 Will Help Corporations More Than Farmers
Jill Richardson
Identity Crisis: Elizabeth Warren’s Claims Cherokee Heritage
Sam Husseini
The Most Strategic Midterm Race: Elder Challenges Hoyer
Maria Foscarinis – John Tharp
The Criminalization of Homelessness
Robert Fisk
The Story of the Armenian Legion: a Dark Tale of Anger and Revenge
Jacques R. Pauwels
Dinner With Marx in the House of the Swan
Dave Lindorff
US ‘Outrage’ over Slaying of US Residents Depends on the Nation Responsible
Ricardo Vaz
How Many Yemenis is a DC Pundit Worth?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail