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Health Care & Environment
11.18 Air pollution levels ‘forcing families to move out of cities’ [like from desertification, lack of drinkable water and rising oceans, there will also be pollution-caused immigration until humans fix things]
11.17 Policies of China, Russia and Canada threaten 5C climate change, study finds [Climate catastrophe is increasingly likely without worldwide organization, funding and commitment to winning THE WAR AGAINST GLOBAL WARMING.]
11.16 How pesticide bans can prevent tens of thousands of suicides a year [how many thousands more die early from eating pesticide-laced food?]
11.15 The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us [fossil fuel burning, un-recyclable plastic production/use and methane gas release must cease ASAP.]
11.15 The long read: The plastic backlash: what's behind our sudden rage – and will it make a difference? [the world wants to throw-up...]
11.15 Claws out: crab fishermen sue 30 oil firms over climate change [workers are waking-up...]
11.12 This Land is Your Land: The Zinke effect: how the US interior department became a tool of industry [behaving ignorantly again...]
News Media Matters
US Politics, Policy & 'Culture'
11.19 Last Week Tonight with John Oliver 11/18/2018 (HBO) [29:26 video]
11.19 Trump Says He Was 'Fully Briefed' and Also 'Not Briefed Yet' But Either Way Saudi Crown Prince 'Absolutely' Not Involved Because Trump Knows 'Everything That Went On' Without Listening to Tape of Khashoggi Murder
11.19 'We Need New Leaders, Period': Progressive Newcomers Urge Democrats to Embrace Bold Agenda or Face Primary Challenges [Current Democrat leaders are highly compromised by corporate donations]
11.18 Trump says Pelosi deserves speakership, offers Republican votes [An affirmation of Pelosi's unsuitability]
11.18 Khanna to Pelosi: Don't Just Create Green New Deal Select Committee, Make Ocasio-Cortez Its Chair [Will Pelosi earnestly change, or end her career in disgrace?]
11.18 Chuck Schumer, Feckless Hack [Neoliberal Democrats must go!]
11.18 What the State of the VA Tells Us About Trump’s War on Welfare [Privatizing often results in outright fraud and higher costs by private prisons, privatized health insurance and health care, privatized public schools and online "colleges" like Trump University]
11.17 As Energy for Medicare for All Explodes, Steny Hoyer's Plan Includes Waiting for Trump to Help Make Obamacare Better [Another who is unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.17 'A Staggeringly Bad Idea': Outrage as Pelosi Pushes Tax Rule That Would 'Kneecap the Progressive Agenda' [Unfit to be Democrat leader]
11.14 The Guardian view on Yemen’s misery: the west is complicit [WAR CRIMES]
Economics, Crony Capitalism
11.19 Bankrupt Sears wants to give executives $19 million in bonuses [blatantly immoral and sick to richly reward those who led the company into the bankruptcy]
11.18 Big Pharma Bankrolled Pro-Trump Group As Trump Pushed Pharma Tax Cut [Corruption Central!]
11.16 Amazon’s HQ2 Will Get a Tax Break Designed to Help the Poor [a Republican program that directly helps participating wealthy companies—but only helps workers if and when 'trickle-down' occurs.]
11.16 Trump doesn’t want to punish Saudi Arabia over Khashoggi. His new sanctions prove it. [George W. Bush made a similar immoral decision for the same oily reasons after 9-11, protecting Saudi defense contracts while facilitating the slaughter of poorer Arab "terrorists" in the region.]
International & Futurism
11.18 France demands UK climate pledge in return for Brexit trade deal [Excellent!]
11.17 Thousands gather to block London bridges in climate rebellion [We're losing WWIII because the enemy is invisible while we're like frogs slowly cooking. We aren't informed enough to be alarmed, but must get organized and motivated to fight back. We need a War Plan to ruthlessly pursue the fight of our lives!]
Obama Misses the Afghan Exit Ramp
Originally published in ConsortiumNews.com yesterday, 24 june 2010
Is President Barack Obama so dense that he could not see why Gen. Stanley McChrystal might actually have wanted to be fired — and rescued from the current March of Folly in Afghanistan, a mess much of his own making?
McChrystal leaves behind a long trail of broken promises and unfulfilled expectations. For example, there is no real security, at least during the night, in Marja, which McChrystal devoted enormous resources to conquer this spring.
Remember his boast that he would then bring to Marja a “government-in-box” and offer an object lesson regarding what was in store for those pesky Taliban in Kandahar, Afghanistan’s second largest city?
But it’s now clear that there will be no offensive against Kandahar anytime soon. On its merits, that is surely a good thing, but it is a huge embarrassment for McChrystal and his former boss, the never nonplussed Gen. David Petraeus.
When McChrystal and his undisciplined senior aides let a Rolling Stone reporter know what they really thought of the “intimidated” Obama and most of his national security team, Obama and his advisers rose to the bait.
They let McChrystal fold his tent in the night and steal silently away from the disaster he leaves behind. White House advisers then came up with the idea of replacing McChrystal in Kabul with the straight-arrow Petraeus whose is known for running a tight command.
Since the announcement Wednesday, the Stanley-out/David-in move has been hailed by Official Washington as a political master stroke, but not for the right reasons.
The conventional wisdom holds that Petraeus is the military genius who can still prevail in Afghanistan, but the real cleverness of the choice is that it dumps in Petraeus’s lap a mess that he also helped create, along with McChrystal and Obama (not to mention, Bush, Cheney, et al).
Petraeus gets a mission that virtually everyone but Sens. John McCain, Joe Lieberman, and Lindsey Graham realizes is an impossible assignment. It also gets Petraeus out of the country and, the Obama folks hope, out of contention for the 2012 Republican nomination.
Instead of possibly running against what a mess Obama has made of Afghanistan, Petraeus has been put in charge of the mess.
Still, the White House maneuver is too clever by half — and is extremely dangerous. It also makes the prospects dimmer for Obama executing a rapid withdrawal from Afghanistan beginning in July 2011, as some of the relative doves in his administration had hoped.
In replacing McChrystal with the popular Petraeus, who outnumbers Obama 100 to zero in the merit badges on his left breast, the President has given the sainted general the option of calling for more and more troops and firepower lest we “lose” in Vietnamistan — sorry, Afghanistan.
But where would the additional troops come from, and what would they be able to do that is not already being done?
For those old enough to remember a similar stage in the “counterinsurgency” operation in Vietnam, the ramrod image of Petraeus evokes shivers. He resembles much too closely the American commander in Vietnam, Gen. William Westmoreland, an equally handsome gent decked out with all manner of ribbons and medals with which to dazzle Congress in a way that President Lyndon Johnson could not.
A lawsuit after the war demonstrated that Westmoreland deliberately misled Congress by insisting that there were only half as many Vietnamese Communists under arms as his intelligence analysts knew there were.
Westmoreland’s periodic appeals for more and more troops – as he pursued the light at the end of the tunnel – built U.S. forces up to 536,000.
Finally, in early 1968, President Johnson convened more sober and honest advisers who told him Vietnam was a fool’s errand. Johnson finally told Westmoreland “no,” but it was too late. Johnson wound up losing the presidency as well as the war, opening the door to Richard Nixon and all that followed.
In later mea culpas, Johnson’s Defense Secretary Robert McNamara bemoaned the fact that as many as three million Vietnamese were killed, as well as over 58,000 American troops. As the contemporary song went, “When will they ever learn?”
Rock and Hard Place
Obama’s main dilemma now is likely to be how to say “no” when, as seems inevitable, Westmoreland — sorry, Petraeus — makes requests for more “surges” of troops into Afghanistan.
Petraeus is likely to tell Obama he must have additional forces, or he will go the way of McChrystal and invite removal — and then possibly run for president in 2012. In that case, Obama’s political advisers would probably say send more troops from wherever they might be scrounged up.
Casualties would rise exponentially; there would never be enough troops; most of those NATO allies that have not already withdrawn their troops would do so. The remaining “coalition forces” would not “prevail” (whatever that means).
And by the end of 2011, the Teflon-as-well-as-merit-badge-clad Petraeus might well quit anyway and join McChrystal in blaming the carnage on the “clowns” around President Obama.
We may well end up with either a President Petraeus or another President Clinton in the person of Obama’s hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was one official praised by McChrystal’s wild-boy crew because she favored giving the general whatever troops he wanted.
A McChystal aide is quoted as saying, “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’”
Is it possible that Obama can be blissfully unaware of the dangerous political kill zone into which he has maneuvered his presidency?
The tragedy is that all this is unnecessary. If President Obama could get beyond these ill-conceived short-term political considerations, he already has available some well-reasoned guidance as to how to extricate the United States from the Afghanistan morass.
He got solid advice last fall from retired Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, his ambassador in Kabul, who knows more about Afghanistan than Petraeus, McChrystal and special envoy Richard Holbrooke do, put together.
And that knowledge and experience shows through clearly in sensitive cables Eikenberry sent to Washington in early November 2009. It’s telling that the New York Times editorialists have suggested that Obama should include Eikenberry in a “wider housecleaning” of the administration’s Afghan brain trust.
The news columns of the Times, however, do deserve credit for having published the text of Eikenberry’s cables, posted online. To the credit of the Times’ source (reportedly a U.S. official), he/she was able to do a truly patriotic thing to ensure that those interested could learn about what Eikenberry really thought, especially his doubts about the effectiveness of a military escalation.
Clearly, the source saw what ethicists call a “supervening value” in making that unauthorized disclosure to the Times.
Nevertheless, last fall, President Obama apparently put his finger to the prevailing political winds of Washington and chose to go with McChrystal’s counterinsurgency “surge” rather than the advice from Eikenberry and from Vice President Joe Biden, who also opposed the escalation.
Obama sided with McChrystal, Petraeus and Clinton (as well as Defense Secretary Robert Gates), agreeing to triple the U.S. troop levels to about 100,000. In the months that have passed, the levels of American casualties have jumped but the prospects for victory (or some modicum of success) remain stuck in a deepening quagmire.
Now, with some indiscreet comments to Rolling Stone magazine, McChrystal has managed to get plucked from the swamp as if some “deus ex machina” derrick from a Greek tragedy had appeared magically behind stage and lifted the hero out of an impossible situation.
Obama now has turned to what might be called “Petraeus ex machina” to salvage his benighted strategy in Afghanistan, but this new device is unlikely to lift the larger military cause out of grave danger. Instead, many of the U.S. troops committed to this dubious plan seem doomed in what is becoming a real-life tragedy.
Ray McGovern works with Tell the Word, the publishing arm of the ecumenical Church of the Saviour in inner-city Washington. He served as an Army infantry/intelligence officer in the early Sixties and then as a CIA analyst for the next 27 years. He is now a member of the Standing Group, Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS).
This article is republished in the Baltimore Chronicle with permission of the author.
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This story was published on June 25, 2010.