Monday, July 11, 2011

One Rule to Rule Them All, One Rule to Bind Them

I find this depressing to a degree:
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Monday appeared to justify the U.S. invasion of Iraq as part of the war against al-Qaeda, an argument controversially made by the Bush administration but refuted by President Obama and many Democrats. Panetta made his remarks during his his inaugural visit to Iraq as Pentagon chief. “The reason you guys are here is because on 9/11 the United States got attacked,” Panetta told the troops. “And 3,000 Americans — 3,000 not just Americans, 3,000 human beings, innocent human beings — got killed because of al-Qaeda. And we’ve been fighting as a result of that.”
I suppose you could make the case that the reason that "you guys are here" is because the Bush/Cheney Gang thought that 9/11 made a dandy excuse to do a little foreign adventuring.

But can we just stop fucking repeating this goddamn canard?We went into Iraq because we wanted - or at least a group of people who were at the controls of the U.S. government at the time wanted - to go into Iraq. No, there were no "weapons of mass destruction". No, there was no "Saddam-Osama Connection". We invaded for the same reason that Germany invaded France in 1870, that Japan attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941, that every invader has invaded since Cain whacked Abel out in the tules; because the Other had something we wanted (or something we didn't like) and we had the military power to do something about that.

This goddamn lie just doesn't seem to want to lie down and die and certainly it is important for the national-greatness/PNAC wing of the GOP that it doesn't. But Panetta is supposed to be Obama's man. And Obama was elected - to the degree that anyone voted for him who had qualms about the man himself - because he was supposed to represent the antithesis of the idiots who rammed our national dick into the Middle Eastern meatgrinder because Osama was holding the handle and taunting us; "Hee hee, betcha you Yankees are too pussy to come and stick it to me!" For his new SecDef to be repeating this damn lie...well...damn.

The thing is - I accept that there is a case to be made for invading Iraq and elsewhere in the world to... (fill in the blank here; try and end the cycle of fucked-up despotism that is endemic to that sorry region, exert U.S. power, protect Israel, secure strategic resources such as petroleum or the passage of transportation chokepoints such as Suez or the Sunda Strait).

I disagree with the logic used to make that case; I think it's weak and foolish and based on an entire series of misconceptions, outright delusions and magical thinking. But there's at least an arguable case to be made for the notion.

But "9/11"?


And worse - horseshit that we now KNOW is horseshit, was designed as horseshit to avoid having to argue the harder case above, and to hear the supposed partisan of an Administration that sold itself to the U.S. public as accepting that the "9/11 = invasion of Iraq" rhetoric WAS horseshit is just goddamn depressing and another reminder that regardless of who rules in Washington the Washington Rules rule them all.


  1. Chief,
    I was gonna write on this also.
    The key issue is why is he saying this???!?
    Ranger analysis- we ain't gonna hook up any time soon in IRQ.
    THAAATS all folks.

  2. Chief,
    Todays yahoo news indicates that Pan. said that the US WILL NOT TOLERATE radical militias supported by Iran to exist in IRQ.
    Or words to that effect.
    RQOD- Hasn't that war already been fought and we lost.?!
    The ship has left the dock.

  3. My thought is that: 1. The Obamites are playing by the same Washington Rules as the Bushies were, which say that "Once you have an overseas footprint never, never, give it up unless you absolutely HAVE to regardless of genuine strategic and geopolitical priorities (see: Germany)" and 2. This is a guy who is an insider's insider. I think his thinking - as it slipped out in his remarks in Iraq - reflects the "conventional wisdom" inside the Beltway, which insists that the proles need to hear "9/11 9/11 9/11" everytime our adventures in the Middle East come up. To discuss things like Israel, access to petroleum/transport chokepoints, and geopolitical wheeling-dealing with unsavory Arab dictators would just confuse the trunk monkeys.

  4. What does one say to the troops who are serving in Iraq?

    "Sorry guys, but this was all a dumb mistake. You will learn to laugh about it in years to come. Abject stupidity can be really funny in hindsight. Thank's for putting up with the idiocy of your elected leaders as well as some of your uniformed leaders. Just shows what great troopies you are."

    Do you think the truth would really sell?

  5. Aviator,
    One does not sell the truth- one must sell the lies.
    The troops know the truth w/o us telling them.

  6. What you say is: "You are here because it is in your country's interest that you are here. You are carrying out your country's national will, and how you do that will be crucial to whether those interests, and the intent of that will, are served."

    These guy's ain't draftees getting ready to liberate Europe. They're jannissaries, professionals, and as jim points out, they probably already know the deal - that they are there for the same reason that Roman legionaries were along the Rhine in 70AD and foreign legionnaires were in Algeria in 1845...and the 7th Cavalry were in Montana in 1876 - to keep a heavy thumb on some natives their masters disapprove(d) of.

    A professional soldier doesn't really need much more truth than that, eh?

    ISTM that his little homily was as much for the trunk monkeys back here as it was for the guys there. Or else he truly believes it, in which case he's not a liar, just a fool.

  7. An annual ritual for me is putting the MLB all star game on the tube, while I'm on the computer down the hall in the office. Tonight I heard this guy Joe Buck, the Fox announcer, the guy who got his job announcing what seems like every sports event going the old fashioned way—nepotism—droning on about "survivors and victims of this attack, blah, blah, blah." And I wondered, "WTF? What now?" But no, it was nothing new: it was 9/11.

    And then I began wondering if in 1951 and 1952, politicians and media whores were still blabbering about Pearl Harbor. If survivors and families were still wallowing in self-pity, with some guy with a microphone ever present to record their angst. Shit, we know the answer. Americans were too busy building an economic engine and, OBTW, fighting a new war, to spend much time dwelling on the past, politicians were, by and large, somewhat responsible, journalists (that's what we called the media then) had better things to do, and sports announcers limited themselves to calling balls and strikes.

    9/11 has become a whole cottage industry. Think of how much money has been made through exploitation of this horrible event. Lots. And lots of it by survivors. Last I saw, they got like $2M per head, thanks to a government that was afraid of court cases. The only losers from 9/11 are the victims, their families—although the blow was softened considerably—and the taxpayers.

    Panetta knows better. He's a slick dude (I admire him) and he knows the truth about Iraq. All he's doing here with the troops is making their shit sandwich somewhat palatable by throwing some extra 9/11 sauce on. Conventional wisdom in D.C. is that you can always lie to the troops: they're so stupid and patriotic that they'll never know the difference. The troops belong to the politicians and the troops always go along.

    But the troops know. I recall politicians swinging through Vietnam and giving motherhood talks about how important the mission was and fighting against Communism, blah blah blah. We'd turn to one other and say, "Who the fuck is this guy?" "I dunno, some congressman, senator, whatever." "Well, fuck him, let's go get a brew."

  8. At the base I'm at they have a military tattoo every summer which is usually a lot of fun except for the droning on about 9/11. Each year the base hypes up the very small role that base personnel played in responding to the event. Of course, those personnel probably PCS'd 7-8 years ago but that doesn't keep the base Colonels and General's from riding their coat-tails! Not that this base isn't important - it is - but I'm tired of hearing about it all and I say that as a guy who knew and served with one of the Pentagon victims of 9/11. It's not like I don't personally know someone who died on that day or others who died in Afghanistan (I don't personally know anyone who died in Iraq - never went there).

    I definitely get the sense that there are many in leadership positions who feel the need to use 9/11 to justify our various policies. I tend to not think too much of them because for those of us who have actually been there and have some measure of self-awareness, there is no foolin' us, or at least most of us even though I'm not a combat veteran.

    Ironically, though, I've been at this long enough that I think Panetta and the rest believe their own kool-aid. And it does make a certain amount of sense from a certain point of view. After all, the fight against Saddam's Iraq ended 9 years ago and for much of the interim, we were fighting AQ and various
    AQ affiliates. For a long time we were in Iraq because of AQ since Rummy's wishful thinking plan of a quick war (mission successful!) followed by a quick pull-out (mission not quite as successful!) didn't work out so well. And then there is the simple fact that AQ fighters killed more of our boys and girls than Saddam's Republican Guard.

    So when he says the "reason you guys are here" I suppose he's probably talking about the reason we are STILL in Iraq all these years later and not talking about the reason we went into Iraq to begin with. This is basically how he and his staff later qualified/spun his remarks. Even so, it's still mostly horse dung as there is very little AQ left in Iraq and the people who've been killing American soldiers recently appear to be Iranian-backed shia groups.

    So I guess in light of that unpleasant fact we should be thankful our leaders are promoting a pretty obtuse narrative and not one focused on starting yet another war in the Middle East against Iran.

  9. "Well, fuck him, let's go get a brew."

    Some things never change Publius.

  10. A couple of points:

    First, this is but another example of Obama providing legitimacy to what Bush did (and what Obama had campaigned against in 2008). As Chief concludes, essentially the Washington Rules R "us" meaning our political elite.

    Second, I contrast this to the pep talks I heard in Berlin back in the bad ole days. Same folks making the same stirring speeches, but what they were saying was true - we were an "outpost of freedom", the commies didn't want us there and we were a trip wire for WWIII. The distinction was that Berlin was not a commitment of choice so much as one of necessity and everyone knew what the mission was. That is in spite of being basically political - although involving the military instrument - it was clear. Our current policies seem to all lack that basic clarity, due perhaps to our inability (or unwillingness) to state what our objectives actually are . . . hence the constant fall back to the bloody shirt of 9/11.

  11. Funny, here is an Army Times article about the same:

    Looks like he is just talking out of his ass, not used to the spotlight and media attention, or used to thinking before he speaks.