On Marja, More Bananastan Bull Feathers

The propaganda continues to pile higher and deeper regarding our war in the Bananastans (Afghanistan and Pakistan, our Central Asian banana republics).  The latest piece of manipulation disguised as news comes from Dexter Filkins of the New York Times, who is rapidly supplanting Thomas E. Ricks as the Pentagon’s favorite bull feather merchant.

In a February 15 piece titled "Secret Joint Raid Captures Taliban’s Top Commander," Filkins and co-author Mark Mazetti breathlessly announce, "The Taliban’s top military commander was captured several days ago in Karachi, Pakistan."  The unnamed "American officials" we’ve come to know so well over the course of our woebegone war on terror say that the prisoner, Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar, "ranks second in influence only to Mullah Muhammad Omar, the Taliban’s founder."  Details of the raid are, not surprisingly, "murky."  

Baradar’s capture was supposedly a "joint effort" between the CIA and Pakistan’s Inter Service Intelligence agency (ISI).  "Officials" say that the arrest "had provided a window into the Taliban and could lead to other senior officials," including and especially Omar.  Yeah, right.  

Unnamed officials have told us we’ve captured or killed a number-two evildoer so many times since 9/11 that by now I couldn’t give a number two less.  Regardless, Filkins and Mazetti tell us that the unnamed officials tell them Baradar is "the most significant Taliban figure to be detained since the American-led war in Afghanistan started more than eight years ago."  If that were all I had to show for eight years of war, I wouldn’t brag about it, but the propaganda operatives who fed this tripe to Filkins and Mazetti aren’t targeting the sharpest tools in the American shed.   

Throughout the article, one senses the hidden, guiding hand of Rear Admiral Gregory Smith, the former Chief of Naval Information (CHINFO) who is now the Director of Communication for the International Security Assistance Force (DIC-ISAF).  A career public affairs officer, Smith is in charge of, among other things, General Stanley McChrystal’s "information operations," AKA misinformation, disinformation and deception stratagems. 

Filkins and Mazetti describe Taliban leader Omar as "a close associate of Osama bin Laden before the Sept. 11 attacks," and note that the Taliban "have so far refused to disavow al-Qaeda."  Both statements had to have been cut and pasted from an ISAF press release, and like most of what Smith’s minions put out, are so misleading that they amount to outright falsehoods.   

Thanks to Gareth Porter of Inter Press Service and Arnaud de Borchgrave of United Press International, we know that Omar and bin Laden have never been kissing cousins.  Porter gives us convincing evidence (including, gasp, sources identified by name, just like real reporters used to do back in the real reporter days) that in 1998 Omar placed severe restrictions on bin Laden in an attempt to prevent him from carrying out plots against the United States.  Nine years ago, prior to 9/11, Omar himself told de Borchgrave that he had "offered the United States and the United Nations to place international monitors to observe Osama bin Laden pending the resolution of the case, but so far we have received no reply."

And as Porter also tells us, Taliban leadership in recent months has expressed a willingness to throw al-Qaeda under the caravan, and he notes that "In September, Mullah Omar declared the Taliban has no interest in a global jihadist campaign and in December a Taliban statement said the organization is ready to provide ‘legal guarantees’ against ‘meddling’ in foreign countries – an obvious reference to any al-Qaeda bases – as part of a settlement involving withdrawal of foreign forces." 

How much more of a disavowal do we need.  What do we want Omar to do, make bin Laden kiss his naked rear end live on al Jazeera?  

The Filkins-Mazetti Times article contains a grain of truthiness nested below the headline and lede paragraphs, well past the point where most readers quit reading, which is where our mainstream media most often hide the truth.   

The reporters quote Taliban spokesman Zabiullah Mujahid as saying the news of Barada’s capture "is just rumor spread by foreigners to divert attention from the Marja offensive."  A statement from a Talibani that Barada wasn’t really captured seems hard to swallow, but then again, the guy telling us that went on record, which is a lot more than you can say about the guys telling us Barada was captured.  And unlike "unknown officials," Zabiullah Mujahid never talked us into invading another country by lying about its non-existent weapons of mass destruction program.  

But half of what Mujahid says you can take to the bank: Gregory’s minions are trying to keep headlines in the U.S. from reading "McChrystal Makes Major Mistake in Marja."  The latest news from the front reveals that the best trained, best equipped military in history has been stymied by sniper fire from fighters who likely had to teach themselves how to shoot.   

Marja was supposed to be, according to the Karen de Young of the Washington Post, "a key test of Obama’s strategy."  I’m not sure Obama has a strategy for Afghanistan except maybe to go along with whatever McChrystal and David Petraeus want, which is to make their Long War last as long as possible.  I doubt if even McChrystal has any hopes that the Marja offensive will produce anything more tangible than whatever his publicity people manage to spin out of it.   

Ultimately, the Pentagon is shooting for an official narrative that says whatever peace accord comes to pass was only made possible by offensive U.S. military operations. This is the same pile of bull feathers the warmongery blew up the American public’s skirt over Korea, the three-year war that contained two years of unsuccessful peace talks, and Vietnam, where we pursued "peace with honor" throughout the Nixon presidency, and Iraq, where we’ve been brokering a civil war since young Mr. Bush declared "mission accomplished" nearly eight years ago.

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Author: Jeff Huber

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (retired), was a naval flight officer who commanded an aircraft squadron and was operations officer of the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the carrier that fought the Kosovo War. Jeff earned a master of arts degree in post-modern imperialism at the U.S. Naval War College. His weekly satires on U.S. foreign policy high jinks are archived at his blog, Pen and Sword. Jeff's critically applauded novel Bathtub Admirals, a lampoon of America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now. Jeff lives with dogs in a house by the beach on Chesapeake Bay in Virginia, and in the summer he has a nice tan.