FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

The Politics of Simulopting

“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.

 

More articles by:

SAUL LANDAU’s A BUSH AND BOTOX WORLD was published by CounterPunch / AK Press.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
June 21, 2018
Ron Jacobs
Divest From the Business of Incarceration
W. T. Whitney
Angola in Louisiana: Proving Ground for Racialized Capitalism
Susan Babbitt
Assange and Truth: the Deeper (Harder) Issue
Kenn Orphan
Humanity vs. the Rule of Law
Mateo Pimentel
Why on Earth a Country of Laws and Borders?
Michael T. Klare
The Pentagon’s Provocative Encirclement of China
Howard Lisnoff
The Outrageous Level of Intolerance is Happening Everywhere!
Vijay Prashad
The People of India Stand With Palestine
RS Ahthion
Internment Camps for Child Migrants
Binoy Kampmark
Rocking the G7: Trump Stomps His Allies
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Lawrence Wittner
Getting Ready for Nuclear War
Patrick Cockburn
Kurdish Women Protest After Being Told by Turkish-Backed Militias to Wear the Hijab
Dean Baker
When Both Men and Women Drop Out of the Labor Force, Why Do Economists Only Ask About Men?
Bruce Lerro
Big Brother Facebook: Drawing Down the Iron Curtain on Yankeedom
June 20, 2018
Henry Giroux
Trump’s War on Children is an act of State Terrorism
Bill Hackwell
Unprecedented Cruelty Against Immigrants and Their Children
Paul Atwood
“What? You Think We’re So Innocent?”
Nicola Perugini
The Palestinian Tipping Point
K.J. Noh
Destiny and Daring: South Korean President Moon Jae-In’s Impossible Journey Towards Peace
Gary Leupp
Jeff Sessions and St. Paul’s Clear and Wise Commands
M. G. Piety
On Speaking Small Truths to Power
Dave Lindorff
Some Straight Talk for Younger People on Social Security (and Medicare too)
George Wuerthner
The Public Value of Forests as Carbon Reserves
CJ Hopkins
Confession of a Putin-Nazi Denialist
David Schultz
Less Than Fundamental:  the Myth of Voting Rights in America
Rohullah Naderi
The West’s Over-Publicized Development Achievements in Afghanistan 
Dan Bacher
California Lacks Real Marine Protection as Offshore Drilling Expands in State Waters
Lori Hanson – Miguel Gomez
The Students of Nicaragua’s April Uprising
Russell Mokhiber
Are Corporations Behind Frivolous Lawsuits Against Corporations?
Michael Welton
Infusing Civil Society With Hope for a Better World
June 19, 2018
Ann Robertson - Bill Leumer
We Can Thank Top Union Officials for Trump
Lawrence Davidson
The Republican Party Falls Apart, the Democrats Get Stuck
Sheldon Richman
Trump, North Korea, and Iran
Richard Rubenstein
Trump the (Shakespearean) Fool: a New Look at the Dynamics of Trumpism
Kevin Zeese - Margaret Flowers
Protect Immigrant Rights; End the Crises That Drive Migration
Gary Leupp
Norway: Just Withdraw From NATO
Kristine Mattis
Nerd Culture, Adultolescence, and the Abdication of Social Priorities
Mike Garrity
The Forest Service Should Not be Above the Law
Colin Todhunter
Pro-GMO Activism And Smears Masquerade As Journalism: From Seralini To Jairam Ramesh, Aruna Rodrigues Puts The Record Straight
Doug Rawlings
Does the Burns/Novick Vietnam Documentary Deserve an Emmy?
Kenneth Surin
2018 Electioneering in Appalachian Virginia
Nino Pagliccia
Chrystia Freeland Fails to See the Emerging Multipolar World
John Forte
Stuart Hall and Us
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail