The long war generals are still trying to shoehorn President Obama into going along with their agenda, and they’re not being a bit subtle about it.
Gen. Ray Odierno, U.S. commander in Iraq, says he may not be able to meet President Barack Obama’s promise to withdraw troops from that country. In an Oct. 20 article from right-wing media maven Rupert Murdoch’s Times of London, Odierno notes that things aren’t going so well in Iraq: increased violence levels, bickering in parliament, a "bloody campaign" brewing in the months ahead from al-Qaeda and other militant groups, a possible postponement of elections, Anbar province getting out of control again. Tut, tut. It sounds like the surge wasn’t so successful after all.
Odierno, who is part of the long war cabal that includes Central Command chief Gen. David Petraeus and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen, is on record as wanting to keep 30,000 or more troops in Iraq until 2014 or 2015.
Elsewhere we have Gen. Stanley McChrystal, another long warrior, attempting to get 40,000 or more troops into Afghanistan for a nation-birthing campaign that could last 20 years or more.
Professor Andrew Bacevich, a retired Army officer, notes in the November issue of Harper‘s that Odierno thinks the insurgency in Iraq may drag on for another five, ten, or fifteen years. "Events may well show that Odierno is an optimist," Bacevich writes.
Violence may be down, Bacevich notes, "but evidence of the promised political reconciliation that the surge was intended to produce remains elusive. America’s Mesopotamian misadventure continues."
Bacevich says Iraq is "bizarrely trumpeted in some quarters as a ‘success’ and even more bizarrely seen as offering a template for how to turn Afghanistan around."
That trumpeting has been the result of propaganda operations on the part of the Pentagon and its military-industrial allies. The military’s ability to manipulate the media is firmly established at this point. The right-wing press and broadcast outlets have always been military friendly, but now the mainstream media has become little more than a steno pool that repeats military public affairs press releases verbatim.
Bacevich, fortunately, is as brutally honest about Afghanistan as he is about Iraq. He calls Afghanistan "The war we can’t win," and says, "Fixing Afghanistan is not only unnecessary, it’s also likely to prove impossible. Not for nothing has the place acquired the nickname Graveyard of Empires." Lamentably, voices like Bacevich’s are hard to come by. (Even sorrier is that his Harper’s article is behind a subscription firewall.)
Much of what we see in the media these days deifies our generals. Thomas E. Ricks is notorious for his hagiographies of Odierno and Petraeus. The recent hoopla over Stanley McChrystal has been disgraceful, most notably the 60 Minutes puff piece and an October 18 New York Times Magazine profile by Dexter Filkins. As Yale professor of literature David Bromwich notes, the Times seems to have gone gaga over McChrystal and his campaign to pile drive the president into going puppy dog for his general’s wishes. "The conclusion draws itself," Bromwich says. "The New York Times wants a large escalation in Afghanistan."
The most frightening moment in the Filkins article comes at the end, where McChrystal promises an Afghan governor, "We’ll stay as long as we have to until our Afghan partners are completely secure, even if that means years." Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Adm. Mullen have made similar remarks for the record.
Who are they to be making promises like that?
Our "partners" Iraq and Afghanistan are crooks and liars. Odierno admits that Iraq’s parliament is a zoo and we’ve seen over the past few months what a hobo Afghanistan’s Hamid Karzai is. Even Gates admits the corruption in Afghanistan will continue regardless of the election results.
Yet the information blitz continues. Bad Taliban. Everyone in the military is mad at Obama. We were on the verge of winning in Vietnam when the bad news media and Congress pulled the rug out from under us, don’t do it again. Must. Stay. Course.
We’re witnessing an open revolt by our top military officers against a sitting president and the citizens who elected him. Our press, the fourth pillar of our democracy that is supposed to guard against such treachery, is aiding it. We’ve seen this sort of thing happen before, not very long ago, when the New York Times helped Dick Cheney sell us the invasion of Iraq by publishing its story on the Nigergate hoax that cited anonymous "officials" more than 20 times.
In a Voice of America article published the same day (Oct. 20) that Odierno said he may not be able to withdraw troops on schedule, Obama assured Iraq’s Prime Minister Nuri al-Maliki that we will withdraw our troops on schedule. Al-Maliki prances back and forth like a dancer in search of a friendly lap — he wants us out of his country one minute but he’s willing to renegotiate the Status of Forces Agreement the next.
Who’s going to win this battle?