Various factors are complicating our ability to do substantial posts here at the moment, but we will return to more or less regular programming soon. Meanwhile, here are a few choice tidbits that cry out for more comment than we can provide right now.
When is a withdrawal not a withdrawal? When it's an "encirclement." The indefatigable Jason Ditz at Antiwar.com points us to this rather obscure little gem from the Christian Science Monitor: "US forces withdrawing from Iraqi cities will move instead to encircle them." As Ditz notes:
The Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Iraq and the United States requires that all US combat forces leave Iraqi cities by the end of Tuesday. The US is going to be going along with the requirement, more or less, but those troops won’t be going far. According to Major General Robert Caslen, the commander of US forces in the north, the troops that are being pulled from the cities will be massing along the outskirts of the cities, encircling them in what the general called an attempt to replicate the surge strategy outside of the cities.
But come on, now. If there were say, 15,000 Chinese troops encamped outside your city limits, bristling with ordnance and overflying your neighborhood night and day with drones, attack copters and bombers, and barreling down your street with heavy weapons every time the local cops called them in -- wouldn't you feel sovereign? Liberated? Free? You know you would.
Jeffrey St. Clair points out yet another progressive betrayal in full swing from the Obama Administration: the corporate bagmen and eager accomplices of landscape rape that the president has appointed to oversee his environmental policies: "Meet the Retreads." St. Clair makes the salient point that here -- as in so many other areas -- Obama's appointments speak far louder than his rhetoric:
Of all of Barack Obama’s airy platitudes about change none were more vaporous than his platitudes about the environment and within that category Obama has had little at all to say about matters concerning public lands and endangered species. He is, it seems, letting his bureaucratic appointments do his talking for him. So now, five months into his administration, Obama’s policy on natural resources is beginning to take shape. It is a disturbingly familiar shape, almost sinister.
It all started with the man in the hat, Ken Salazar, Obama’s odd pick to head the Department of Interior. Odd because Salazar was largely detested in his own state, Colorado, by environmentalists for his repellent coziness with oil barons, the big ranchers and the water hogs. Odd because Salazar was close friends with the disgraced Alberto Gonzalez, the torturer’s consigliere. Odd because Salazar backed many of the Bush administration’s most rapacious assaults on the environment and environmental laws. Odder still because Salazar, in his new position as guardian of endangered species, had as a senator repeatedly advocated the weakening of the Endangered Species Act. Salazar never hid his noxious positions behind a green mantle. Obama certainly knew what he was buying.
And as St. Clair details, Salazar is just the tip of the (soon-to-be-melted) iceberg.
Barack Obama is also reviving the Bush Regime's strategy of direct intervention in Somalia -- and the Washington Post is dutifully doing its bit with this headline: "U.S. Sends Weapons to Help Somali Government Repel Rebels Tied to Al-Qaeda." It is of course superfluous in us to point out that the aforementioned rebels have consistently denied any ties to al Qaeda.
Which is not to say they are a bunch of sweethearts. But the rise of this faction of militant religious extremists is the inevitable (deliberate?) result of the bipartisan Terror War that the United States has been conducting in Somalia for years. With American backing, blessing -- and direct military support -- a coalition of Islamist factions that had brought the first measure of stability to Somalia in many years was shattered by foreign invasion and local warlords in the pay of the CIA. Some factions in the broken coalition were further radicalized by the brutal war that followed; others have sought compromise with the Western-backed transitional government. Tens of thousands of innocent civilians have died, and millions more have been driven into exile, ruin and terrible suffering -- and still the Great Game goes on.
Finally, Stars and Stripes give us the quintessence of the American empire's oh-so-effective "counterinsurgency" strategy, with this quote from a U.S. officer toiling in the killing fields of the oh-so-good war in Afghanistan:
"I tell my men they have to be thinking warriors," Capt. Bobby Davis of Columbus, Ga., whose platoon went out to help the convoy, said the following day. "You have to be able to go out and talk to people and in the flick of a switch, like yesterday, to kill and then continue the mission — go out again and talk to people."
Hearts and minds -- blow their brains out -- then hearts and minds again. Yep, that sounds like a winning plan, all right! Criswell predicts: another 25 years of road-building, switch-flicking and people-killing in the distant hills of Bactria.
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This story was published on June 30, 2009.