Sunday, January 09, 2005

Say, has anyone noticed that Bush has decided to fight a dirty war against 1.5 billion Muslims? [encore presentation] 

We were right back in July. Say, how come people who get paid to be journalists didn't connect the dots back then? Newsweek:

Now, NEWSWEEK has learned, the Pentagon is intensively debating an option that dates back to a still-secret strategy in the Reagan administration’s battle against the leftist guerrilla insurgency in El Salvador in the early 1980s. Then, faced with a losing war against Salvadoran rebels, the U.S. government funded or supported "nationalist" forces that allegedly included so-called death squads directed to hunt down and kill rebel leaders and sympathizers. Eventually the insurgency was quelled, and many U.S. conservatives consider the policy to have been a success—despite the deaths of innocent civilians and the subsequent Iran-Contra arms-for-hostages scandal. (Among the current administration officials who dealt with Central America back then is John Negroponte, who is today the U.S. ambassador to Iraq. Under Reagan, he was ambassador to Honduras.)

[Originally posted July 17, 2004]

Just asking....

Bush has taken Ollie North's "covert, off-the-shelf" operations capability off the shelf, and He's using it to run a dirty war in the Middle East. Let's connect a few dots:

(1) dirty war kingpin Negroponte being appointed ambassador to the current Iraqi state,

(2) CIA creature Allawi shooting six insurgents in the head, immediately following his appointment the estimable Mr. Caulfield is all over this one; and Orcinus), whereupon Negroponte does a superb Sergeant Schulz imitation,

(3) the general who ran the torture wing at Abu Ghaib being put in charge of intelligence training (back here)

(4) an extra-constitutional chain of command ("Decoding the handwriting of The Fog Machine"

(5) spending that is not controlled by Congressional authority.

Doesn't this start to look exactly like the Latin American dirty wars that "our" government fought in the Reagan era? Sure looks like it to me. The same players, the same extra-constitutional techniques, the same goals.

Leaving aside the question of whether the nature of this dirty war was discussed with the American people, the basic question is this:

Will the strategy of dirty war that Bush has chosen scale to the Islamic world?

That is, assuming for a moment that the Reaganite dirty wars in Latin America can be considered a success, can we expect a successful replay in the (so-called) war on terror in the Middle East? The answer is almost certainly No.

1. Latin and Central American were in our own hemisphere. The Middle East is not. When fighting a dirty war in the Middle East, logistics, cultural and language issues, intelligence issues, are all orders of magnitude more difficult. And, although Negroponte has obviously been ordered to produce a client state, we have no client states in the Middle East, as we did in our own sphere of influence. (Even Israel, despite the billions we pay them, has a will of its own).

2. No other powers had vital interests in Latin America. Not so in the Middle East. The Middle East, unlike Latin American, is awash in the world's most addictive fluid: oil. We could fight our dirty wars in our own hemisphere without taking into account the needs, actions, or addictions of anyone but ourselves, our clients, and our opponents. In the Middle East, by contrast, the vital interests of Europe, Russia, China, and through Pakistan, India, are all involved. Here again, the balance of forces is an order of magnitude more difficult to manage than in our own backyard.

3. Latin American had no nukes. The Middle East does. Not only is Israel a nuclear power, Iran seeks to be. Worse, in nuclear Pakistan Musharraf could either be (a) is overthrown by the Islamic fundamentalists, or (b) play both ends against the middle by making common cause with them. Even worse, the Middle East has loose nukes everywhere, either as bombs from the former USSR or as dirty-bomb-suitable material (much from Iraq itself, which Rummy inexplicaby failed to secure). Here again, the risks of a dirty war in the Middle East are orders of magnitude greater than they were in Latin America.

4. For the Latin American dirty war, the Constitution could be bent. For the Middle Eastern dirty war, it must be broken. Reagan bypassed Congress's Constitutional funding authority for millions, for a limited objective, for a few years (an impeachable offense, though the Democrats, even then, didn't have the stones to call him on it). Bush is doing the same thing, for billions, for unlimited objectives, with no end in sight. Civil liberties are important, but the way to protect them is to control the funding of the executive. (Remember how Bush hagiographer Woodward reported that Bush blithely reallocated $700 million that Congress appropriated for Afghanistan to Iraq, without telling anyone?) A supposed constitutional republic that cannot control how the executive branch spends money is no longer either constitutional or a republic, but a dictatorship with a referendum every four years. Here again, the stakes of the Middle East are orders of magnitude higher than in Latin America.

5. The Latin American dirty war could be hidden from the average American. Not so in the Middle East. In Reagan's wars, minimal involvement by the average US citizen soldier was required; mercenaries could be used throughout. Not so in the Middle East; the scale is so great that ordinary citizens must become involved. In fact, it's the collision between the tactics and expectations of the dirty war fighters, on the one hand, with the tactics, expectations—and principles—of the citizen soldiers on the other, that has caused Bush so much trouble. The whistleblowers of Abu Ghraib are one example of the power that can be wielded by an outraged citizen soldier acting from principle. For Bush to put an end to this problem, He will have to redefine, for the entire country and for its citizen soldiers, what the United States is about: That we are a nation of torturers; that it is OK to set dogs on naked men; that it is OK to rape shrieking boys. Bush is performing The Stanford Experiment on a national scale; if He succeeds, he will have put in place the essential cultural underpinnings for an American version of the fascist state (Orcinus). Here again, the stakes are immeasurably greater in the Middle East than in Latin America.

6. In Latin America, the risk of blowback was minimal. Not so in the Middle East. In Latin America, what were the Sandinistas going to do? Invade Miami? In the Middle East, the stakes are greater, and the Bush administration has raised the stakes with a fundamentally unserious approach to the problem (For Bush's unseriousness on loose nukes, see "Reckless indifference the nightmare scenario").

Blowback from the Middle East will probably take the form of the loss of an American city to a loose nuke [or a dirty bomb] in the hands of a fundamentalist. However, since most target cities (even Washington, DC) are not part of the base—that is, not SIC, more likely to be gay, more likely to be immigrant, less likely to be white, and much more likely to vote Democratic—they are almost certainly regarded by the Bush administration as expendable. (The rhetoric of "cleansing fire" was already prepared in the aftermath of 9/11. Please refer all comments involving the words "tinfoil hat" to the Department of "No! They would never do that!")

So, yes, the stakes are great in November. Bush—on no authority but His own—has initiated a dirty war in the Middle East that we are almost certain to lose, because a strategy built for Latin America isn't going to scale to the Middle East. In prosecuting this dirty war, which will involve not only "terrorists" but Europe, Russia, and the rest of the Middle East, the United States is going to lose its character as a constitutional republic, plant the cultural seeds of fascism, and lose a city or two to nuclear weapons through blowback.

If you want that, vote for Bush in November. Sigh.

addendum: (by 'the farmer') On topic; not to forget Dan 'The Madman of Montevideo' Mitrione:

"The precise pain, in the precise place, in the precise amount, for the desired effect." ~ Dan Mitrione

Dan Mitrione did not introduce the practice of torturing political prisoners to Uruguay. It had been perpetrated by the police at times from at least the early 1960s. However, in surprising interview given to a leading Brazilian newspaper in 1970, the former Uruguayan Chief of Police Intelligence, Alejandro Otero, declared that US advisers, and in particular Mitrione, had instituted torture as a more routine measure; to the means of inflicting pain they had added scientific refinement; and to that a psychology to create despair, such as playing a tape in the next room of women and children screaming and telling the prisoners that it was his family being tortured. ~ William Blum, author of Killing Hope

Read more about Dan Mitrione back here - via 'farmrunoff' -- Tuesday, July 20, 2004: River of Painted Birds


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