Skip to main content

There is reality-based criticism of Obama's policies, such as what Greenwald, Krugman, and Palast, for instance, offer. And then there is inflammatory crap like this:

I will be blunt, for certain conclusions are now inescapable, even this early in the miraculous, transcendent Age of Obama. Insofar as those who regularly follow political matters are concerned, and especially with regard to those people who write about politics and foreign policy -- which is to say, insofar as commentators and reporters in the mainstream media and on blogs are concerned -- to continue to believe that Barack Obama represents any kind of "improvement" over the abomination of George W. Bush is not an innocent error. To persist in delusions of this kind requires that one intentionally and deliberately blind oneself to evidence that assaults us every day.

But wait -- Arthur Silber continues:

We can now see unequivocally and in full, bloody daylight the nature of the "change" that Obama has brought to the operations of Empire. Obama will alter nothing in those operations, except to expand them and make them still more murderous. But because Obama has been heralded as the exponent of "hope" and "change," and because the majority of Americans exhibit an endless capacity for crediting the most meaningless of slogans, many people will continue to struggle to convince themselves that somehow things might have been worse had he not been elected.

But now, there are very few people to oppose him. Thus, the Empire will continue on its bloody, murderous course, knowing full well that most of the opposition it might have encountered has voluntarily, and very often enthusiastically, joined the ranks of collaborators.

When you make excuses for evil of this kind, and when you attempt to "justify" or "explain" it, you make yourself evil. You are a knowing accomplice to slaughter and brutality. Those who decline to pass the necessary judgments about Obama will expend great effort to avoid this conclusion. But some of us see the truth, and we will be sure to remind such people of their own evil and complicity.

First of all, let me state what this is not -- this is not an attack on Mr. Silber's right to free speech. His blog post, on his own site, is Constitutionally protected stupidity. But free speech works both ways -- and freedom of speech is not the freedom not to be challenged on one's inflammatory BS. First of all, in his headline title, "Obama is a Murderer and War Criminal," Silber makes very specific allegations -- the first of which must be proven in a court of law, and the other allegation under international law based on Nuremburg and other international codes. And there is a big difference between "Murder," as in taking a gun and killing someone, and war, in which civilian casualties are a part. If Mr. Silber wants to claim that Obama broke international law, then let him cite the relevant statues of any legitimate international code so that we can determine this for ourselves. Merely flinging poo is not going to convince people that Obama is somehow a "war criminal." He made the allegation; he needs to provide the proof.

Secondly of all, if we are going to talk about "war crimes," then that term works both ways. The fact of the matter is that Osama Bin Laden planned, implemented, and executed a war of aggression against the United States of America; specifically, his attacks against the World Trade Center on 9/11 as well as the attacks on three US embassies in Africa. In addition, the Taliban sheltered Osama Bin Laden and thus aided and abetted in Bin Laden's war of aggression against the United States. Yet, I do not see Mr. Silber calling for Bin Laden or his Taliban enablers to be brought to justice. And for the record, it doesn't do any good to claim that the Taliban would have turned him over in the weeks after 9/11 if we had just provided more evidence -- they knew that he had already committed an act of war against the United States with his bombings of three different embassies in 1998. They enabled this war; they have to bear the consequences.

But when he accuses those of us who point out these inconvenient facts of "evil," then, he goes even further. He turns this into a purity contest and demonstrates the same sort of "with us or against us" mentality that was part and parcel of the Bush administration. We are a big tent party. Our people range from disgruntled ex-Republicans such as Arlen Specter and Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Buckley to people on the far left such as Jesse Jackson Jr., Dennis Kucinich, Barbara Lee, and Daily Kos' incomparable OPOL. These sorts of purity contests are part of the reason we lost in 2000, as Ralph Nader took away Gore votes in several key states. And sadly, for some, this sort of purity contest mentality lives on even though it has been tried and shown not to work.

Iraq and Afghanistan are two totally different situations. In Iraq, George Bush planned, implemented, and executed a war of aggression that resulted in the deaths of over 1 million Iraqi people when Saddam posed no clear and present danger and was not responsible for the attacks of 9/11. In fact, Saddam shot terrorists -- he had no use for them whatsoever. On the other hand, in Afghanistan, Bin Laden was the clear aggressor.

There is another key difference -- the certainty of a nuclear-armed Taliban in the event of the collapse of the Pakistani government. In that regard, our policy there has already produced results -- the Pakistani army has launched an offensive that has neutralized the recent gains of the Taliban as they are finally starting to see the urgency of the matter. The Taliban would be even more hostile to India than the current Pakistani government, meaning that there is the very real possibility of an armed nuclear confrontation between these two countries resulting in the deaths of tens of millions of people. That is the whole purpose of current US strategy -- to prevent that possibility from ever happening. They could subsequently sell that nuclear technology to Bin Laden or other terrorist entities, raising the chances of nuclear terrorism around the world. And the usual rules about Mutually Assured Destruction would not apply, since we would have no way of retaliating in the latter event. If Mr. Silber is so concerned about the deaths of civilians, then why is he not concerned about the possible deaths of millions of civilians under this scenario?

None of these differences means that we can stay in Afghanistan any more than we could stay in Iraq forever. But Mr. Silber does not take any of these scenarios into account and offers no alternative whatsoever to the President's plan. He is the one who is claiming that Obama is a war criminal. Therefore, he has to provide the alternative plan and why it would be a better plan than the White House plan. To refuse to do so makes him no better than the Republicans who constantly obstruct the Obama administration without offering any coherent plan as to why their plans would be better. In order to develop a reality-based plan for Afghanistan and Pakistan, we must answer the following questions:

  1. How do we prevent a nuclear-armed Taliban from taking power, given the fact that we can't stay in Afghanistan forever?
  1. How do we capture Bin Laden and bring him to justice, given the fact that we can't stay in Afghanistan forever?
  1. How long should we stay in Afghanistan, and what would an exit plan consist of?

It is not in our interest to referee tribal wars in Afghanistan or the conflict between the Taliban and Pakistan -- that is for their people to resolve. Yet, we have a clear interest in bringing Bin Laden to justice for the war crimes that he committed against the US. And it should be in everyone's interest to prevent a nuclear-armed Taliban from blackmailing India or Israel or the rest of the world.

Originally posted to Stop the Police State! on Sat May 16, 2009 at 09:48 AM PDT.

Your Email has been sent.
You must add at least one tag to this diary before publishing it.

Add keywords that describe this diary. Separate multiple keywords with commas.
Tagging tips - Search For Tags - Browse For Tags


More Tagging tips:

A tag is a way to search for this diary. If someone is searching for "Barack Obama," is this a diary they'd be trying to find?

Use a person's full name, without any title. Senator Obama may become President Obama, and Michelle Obama might run for office.

If your diary covers an election or elected official, use election tags, which are generally the state abbreviation followed by the office. CA-01 is the first district House seat. CA-Sen covers both senate races. NY-GOV covers the New York governor's race.

Tags do not compound: that is, "education reform" is a completely different tag from "education". A tag like "reform" alone is probably not meaningful.

Consider if one or more of these tags fits your diary: Civil Rights, Community, Congress, Culture, Economy, Education, Elections, Energy, Environment, Health Care, International, Labor, Law, Media, Meta, National Security, Science, Transportation, or White House. If your diary is specific to a state, consider adding the state (California, Texas, etc). Keep in mind, though, that there are many wonderful and important diaries that don't fit in any of these tags. Don't worry if yours doesn't.

You can add a private note to this diary when hotlisting it:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from your hotlist?
Are you sure you want to remove your recommendation? You can only recommend a diary once, so you will not be able to re-recommend it afterwards.
Rescue this diary, and add a note:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary from Rescue?
Choose where to republish this diary. The diary will be added to the queue for that group. Publish it from the queue to make it appear.

You must be a member of a group to use this feature.

Add a quick update to your diary without changing the diary itself:
Are you sure you want to remove this diary?
(The diary will be removed from the site and returned to your drafts for further editing.)
(The diary will be removed.)
Are you sure you want to save these changes to the published diary?

Comment Preferences

    •  Diary is " d'top rope" Thanx n/t (5+ / 0-)

      Confront all issues in a timely manner...

      by 2questions on Sat May 16, 2009 at 09:52:55 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  "the Taliban sheltered Osama Bin Laden" (5+ / 0-)

      I'm sure the Taliban were simply more concerned with looking to the future than fretting over past misdeeds.

      •  The Taliban less sheltered Bin Laden. . . (4+ / 0-)

        compared to the reality that they didn't have control  over the country and were unable to get him out.

        BTW, I'm always curious and never have been given a straight answer whether it was the fat Bin Laden, the thin Bin Laden, the black-bearded Bin Laden, the gray-bearded Bin Laden (etc) who masterminded 9-11 . . .

        Besides, if getting Bin Laden was the reason for us attacking Afghanistan, why did we deliberately let him get away?

        •  I'm sure that the Taliban had a memo stating (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Johnny Q

          that the actions of al-Qaeda, as an NGO, would not impose any legal liability on the government of Afghanistan.  After all, Bin Laden's legal counsel advised that he was not engaged in terrorism or war was just "enhanced building deconstruction".

          •  I don't quite get your point (0+ / 0-)

            but my perspective is that after the Taliban shelled the heritage Bhudda carvings (or whatever they were) round about 1996 they got in my bad books and I made some effort to read up about them in the foreign press in "real time"

            The general consesus was that they were indeed a bunch of fuckwads, which made it rather curious that even prior to 9-11 there were reports that they really, really want Al Qaeda out of the country (you know, from the "pot calling the kettle black" perspective).  And even more curious was the Bush administration giving them $130-some million in the spring of 2001).

            Basically, it was very strange how everything essentially turned on a dime post-9.11 and they were so effectively demonized  . .

        •  Jezuz! Apologist much? And tin-foil-hatted. (0+ / 0-)

          Stop this insanity.  OBL and A-Q did 9-11.  Abetted by BushCo delusional indifference to the threat and Clinton-hatred, for sure.  But, you sound like the 'FDR bombed Pearl Harbor' nuts.  No one, no one, is taking your conspiracy crap seriously except the off-their-medication crowd.  

          The Taliban were barbarians.  They throw acid in the faces of little girls who only want to go to school.  They killed people for not growing beards.  The blew up priceless, unique, irreplaceable historical treasuries.  The outlawed music, for f-ck's sake..  Music.  Only the likely first creation of humanity actually distinguishing us from the beasts.  They're control over Afghanistan was more complete than the USSRs with 200K troops.
          And the refused to give up OBL because 1) he paid them and 2) they agreed with him attacking the 'Great Satan'.  

          Bush, not 'we', let OBL go.  He did it because Rove and Cheney wanted it.  Rove so Bush could be 'War-President-Guy' in the 2004 election; Cheney because he is an evil f-ck obsessed with stealing every drop of oil in the world.  

          I know you want to think reality is really not that bad.  That the only real villains are nasty imperialists and we have the only imperialists.  That if we just left everyone alone, Hitler would have been contend with part of Czechoslovakia.

          GROW UP.  READ FRAKING HISTORY.  Learn that there are no absolute good guys, but there sure are those who are a whole freaking lot worse.

          And they are not Obama and the Dems.

          Meanwhile, the real neo-cons are planning a comeback behind Palin.  That'd be so much better, right?  Idiotic.

          •  thanks for the overblown rhetoric (0+ / 0-)

            looking at the "big picture" I firmly support Dems because they are much better on Domestic matters.

            Notwithstanding that, I remain firmly and mightily  irked that there is not an iota of difference between the two parties on foreign policy .. .

            •  Your last sentence proves you are not paying atte (0+ / 0-)

              ntion.  It's called geo-politics.  Nations must do certain things, empires even more so.  Whether you like it or not, empire is the way of the world and has been throughout history.  I'd rather it be our Empire that's dominant than there's.

              But, at least one difference between Dems and Rs is Ds generally try to do as little nasty stuff as necessary to maintain empire.  Rs relish in doing it the bloodiest, vilest way.  BushCo and Darth Cheney vs. Obama?  No contest.  If you can't see the difference, its only cause you don;t want to.

    •  Alas there are some on the left... (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      askew, madmsf

      ... who apparently believe that a leftist is a person who shouts "war criminal" as loudly and as frequently as possible --and that the more people you accuse of being war criminals, the better a leftist you are.  

      •  When is a "warrior" a "war criminal" (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        Americans, particularly of the elitist stripe, express shock when critics refer to mass slaughter of civilians as war crimes.  After all, they don't do it on purpose (as Katic Couric told us on 60 Minutes this week).  Civilians are "collateral damage," people who get in the way of chasing the "bad guys."

        We then have to ask, who are the bad guys, and why are "we" chasing them?  When it turns out that the situation is a bit more complicated, when WMDs are never found in Iraq, when no evidence is offered to link the "Taliban" with Bin Laden (nor is any evidence offered to link Bin Laden with 9/11/01, but that is another story), when no justification (or vote of Congress or declaration of war) is given for drone bombings in Pakistan (or Somalia), the very war itself becomes a war crime.  As the Geneva Conventions clearly state, a war of aggression is the ultimate war crime because it contains all the other war crimes within it.  

        The war in Afghanistan is a war crime.  "Eternal Hope" pastes together 2 or 3 justifications, but none even tends to show that anyone now living in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Pakistan represents a real live threat to the US.  The author claims various geopolitical justifications, but none of these shows that the US was under threat of attack.  These wars are in themselves war crimes, and those prosecuting them are war criminals.  Civilians are not simply collateral damage in these wars where the US forces are not fighting against armies.  The civilians are the "enemies".    

        This makes Obama, Gates, Biden, the Congressional leadership, and a cast of hundreds war criminals.  This is not empty rhetoric.  When you engage in mass slaughter of people, the justification better be damn good to avoid its appellation.  When you justify engagement in mass slaughter with excusses want to prevent war between India and Pakistan, or you want (misplaced) revenge for 9/11/01, or other empty rhetoric, your justification falls far short.  Murder is murder.

  •  Add folks that are (9+ / 0-)

    equating Pelosi to Cheney

  •  Since Bin Laden's no longer in Afghanistan, (9+ / 0-)

    how long are we entitled to occupy the country as punishment for his past actions while there?

    Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

    by ben masel on Sat May 16, 2009 at 10:08:32 AM PDT

    •  Well, there are no easy answers. (0+ / 0-)

      I'm totally open to some multifaceted approach which would stop the Taliban from ever returning to power once we left. As I noted, we can't just stay there forever.

      •  Since the US for many years (6+ / 0-)

        harbored terrorists plotting and executing crimes v Cuba, is that island nation entitled to a military occupation, or a  "multifaceted approach which would stop the Democrats and Republicans  from ever returning to power once they left?

        Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

        by ben masel on Sat May 16, 2009 at 10:29:50 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I can see that. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:

          But the US is already in the process of warming up relations with Cuba, as evidenced by the lifting of some sanctions against that country by the Obama administration.

        •  Yes, as well as the support of Boston area (0+ / 0-)

          folk for the IRA - I'm sure no one would have object if Margaret Thatcher had deployed a few cruise missiles into Massachusetts

          . . . but fortunately Argentina proved an easier target back then for her problems-at-home-distracting military adventures.

          •  Not quite analogous. (2+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            Roadbed Guy, Johnny Q

            i'd considered that analogy as well, rejected it for lack of evidence of official US Govt. harboring the IRA. Plenty of other cases tho. Nicaragua, Chile, DR Congo, Russia, could all make cases of official US harboring of terrorists.

            Practicing Law without a License is my 3d favorite Crime.

            by ben masel on Sat May 16, 2009 at 10:51:22 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Well, I'm familiar with Nicaragua. (0+ / 0-)

              What about the other three that you mention?

            •  Sure, that might not be spot on (0+ / 0-)

              (although I really don't think that in any real sense the Taliban were "sponsoring" Al Qaeda - quite the opposite, they did not want them in the country)

              But in any event, yeah, the US government has definitely sponsored it's share of "terrorism" around the world - thus I'm sure totally disinterested observers looking in (any Martians out there?? or maybe those aliens from "The Day the Earth Stood Still") are no doubt totally amused by our recent demonization of terrorism.

              •  If some people can not see the difference b/t (0+ / 0-)

                the Cold War and Afghanistan/Taliban/Pakistan/A-Q ... well, they are idiots.  

                Please go join the anti-evolution wing of your reality-denier's party and jump of very tall buildings without parachutes as quickly as possible.  The rest of us, the sane ones, will be able to fix the world much faster if you 2 would just make like matter-anti-matter.

                •  So I take it that you are in favor (2+ / 0-)
                  Recommended by:
                  radmul, Johnny Q

                  of US terrorism abroad - you know, death squads killing nuns in Central America, predator missiles aimed a wedding parties in Pakistan to possible kill Al Qaeda's Number 2 Man (for the 40th or 50th time . .. !!), and so on??

                  Well, just think if some foreign power was reciprocating in your neighborhood.  I doubt that you would be so sanguine.

                •  Sir you are an idiot.... (0+ / 0-)

                  I guess you do not understand that the United States has always been an imperialistic nation that uses a scapegoat: communism then, islamofascism now, to engage in war crimes for national security's sake.

                  It is the same thing and all presidents engage in it.

                  •  And Joe Stalin was all warm fuzzies? (0+ / 0-)

                    That some people and even President's abused power does not make the US illegitimate.  Nixon did not negate Lincoln.  

                    Hitler was evil and Nazi Germany had to be defeated for the sake of mankind and human civilization.  Same with Stalin and the USSR.

                    'Course, you probably think we're still ruling Mexico, Cuba, the Phillipines, Gernmany, France and the rest of Europe liberated in WWII, and any other place we ever occupied and fought.

                    You're just like Bush: you can only see black and white.    Wake up and realize the world is shades of grey, the human soul is an unperfectable blend of good and evil, and the struggle for human progress never ending.

                    Or continue being as irrelevant and ridiculed as you are.

  •  Silber's diary is way over the top ... (7+ / 0-)

    ...and he wounds himself even in those areas where he makes good points by casting it in such a way. But that has been his approach for years, so nobody should be surprised.

    But just as Silber is wrong, so is team Obama in its approach to Afghanistan. The talk is about a multifaceted approach which recognizes there is no military solution, yet look at the leadership: the ambassador is a general; and the new general in charge of U.S. forces there, a brilliant master of counter-insurgency, also may well have aided and abetted torture and been helping to run Cheney's assassination squads.

    Then, too, look at the budget. How much money goes for military operations and how much for those non-military solutions that are talked about as the real answer? Those numbers are sobering.

    So, no, Obama is certainly not a war criminal, even though the policy he has implemented is sure to lead to more civilian deaths like those we just saw. But Afghanistan without an exit plan has unfortunate echoes of other wars without exit plans.

    "Oh. Who's being naive, Kay?" - Michael Corleone

    by Meteor Blades on Sat May 16, 2009 at 10:13:51 AM PDT

    •  since we're "reality based" (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Johnny Q

      we really should look at:

      The number of US troops in Afghanistan Before Obama and After Obama,

      The number of Afghan civilians killed by US actions BO and AO,

      The number of US "actions" in Pakistan BO and AO,

      The number of Pakistani civilians killed by US "actions" BO and AO,

      The legitimizing "justification" for US "activity" in Afghanistan and Pakistan BO and AO,

      and draw our conclusion based on deeds, not words . . .

  •  Obama surrounds himself with pro-War advisors (5+ / 0-)

    If it walks like a Neocon, talks like a Necon, then it is a NEOCON.

    "All tyranny needs to gain a foothold, is for
    people of good conscience to remain silent."
         --Thomas Jefferson

    by FreeSociety on Sat May 16, 2009 at 10:20:39 AM PDT

  •  Agreed. I'm tired of the crap too! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope
    •  You know what I'm tired of? (2+ / 0-)

      I'm tired of folk like Mr. Obama - who by force of threatening me with prison if I don't financially contribute to his war efforts - who then goes on and uses my money to blow up innocent people in countries such as Pakistan that really haven't done anything to us.

      And then being forbidden from being able to come here and rant about it . ..

  •  Obama is a war criminal... (0+ / 0-)

    and he should be prosecuted for it.

  •  Israel? (0+ / 0-)

    How did Israel end up in this story?

    •  Well: (0+ / 0-)

      If the Taliban were to gain control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenal then that might mean war with Israel, who might try to develop the capability to strike that country. We know that Israel would strike any Middle Eastern country that came too close to developing a nuke, and so if the Taliban were to take over, that might spark an arms race with Israel.

    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope

    NO WAR CRIMINAL!! Now that he is President, for 100 plus days, he has a lot on his plate. He will do the right thing as time permits.

    I believe Obama will lead this nation honorably.
    Bush/Cheney and the enabling Bushies are the war criminals and they will be held accountable.

    Obama is my President, he is not God, but he is a man who has the talent, wisdom and understanding to listen, learn and lead. I will not join a chorus of early detractors who have nothing else to do but demand immediate solutions to long term problems.

  •  Silber is a nutjob and a Robespierrist. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Eternal Hope

    Honestly, who cares what he has to say?

    "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

    by Geekesque on Sat May 16, 2009 at 06:38:16 PM PDT

    •  I violently disagree with that. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      blue earth, Joe Beese

      Arthur has been a strong voice for progressives for years and was a beacon of independent minded progressive/liberal thought all during the Bush years.

      there are sharp divergences between Obama's stated goals after taking offce and now...and that was then-this is now arguments do not adequetely address some of the policy 180's.

      The torture issue will not go away, period, and though extreme; Arthur's point that by doing nothing to end this awful mess Obama makes himself and his administration part of it is logical.

      Iraq has to end, and that right soon.  Afghanistan needs a strong and complete review as to strategic objective, purpose, and means of achievement, and the unofficial action in Pakistan needs a review too.

      But quick dismissals of friends who happen to not be seduced by grins and grimaces, who want substance over speechifying, and though happy about a Democrat being in the White House, do not want to see that Democrat turn into a Bushie does not serve the progressive movement, or Daily Kos, or Obama for that matter.

      Our job as bloggers and progressives IS to hold Obama's feet to the fire.  Not be a fan club! (unless defending against Freepers) Arthur is no Freeper.

      Today, 5/16/09, 4296 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied; President Obama, it is your war now.

      by boilerman10 on Sun May 17, 2009 at 07:43:05 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Yes, but: (0+ / 0-)

        There is a difference between principled disagreement and the kind of bomb-throwing that Silber is guilty of. To say that someone is a war criminal requires that one be able to explain based on international law what war crimes Obama is allegedly guilty of. And to claim that someone is a murderer requires proving that someone plotted to kill someone else. I realize that the torture issue won't go away and that Obama needs to do a review on Afghanistan as you mention, but the kind of inflammatory rhetoric that Silber uses is not going to persuade anyone and it does not serve to accomplish either one of those objectives. It is not a matter of being seduced by smiles at all.

      •  he thinks all Obama supporters are 'evil.' (0+ / 0-)

        His word, not mine.  Robespierre was correct to oppose the monarchy, but that does not redeem him.  

        "[R]ather high-minded, if not a bit self-referential"--The Washington Post.

        by Geekesque on Mon May 18, 2009 at 06:26:59 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Really guys? (0+ / 0-)

          Is this guy throwing bombs too?

          Arthur took a look at one issue, and drew his conclusions, but now he seems to be losing others.

          First the bomb throwers, then the thinkers, how long before really serious people say "Obama is failing?"

          Today, 5/16/09, 4296 Americans, and untold Iraqis are dead, tens of thousands more maimed. Bush lied; President Obama, it is your war now.

          by boilerman10 on Mon May 18, 2009 at 12:19:21 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Eternal Hope is playing the Fear and Panic cards (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    that Bush, Cheney and Condoleezza Rice masterfully played in order to get the public to allow them to invade Iraq in 2003.  It is not legitimate - like screaming "Fire!!" in a crowd when no fire is in the vicinity.

    "How can we prevent the Taliban from getting Pakistan's nukes..."

    This is identical to Rice's comment that "We must make sure the next terrorist attack on American soil does not take the form of a mushroom cloud."

    There is no evidence whatsoever that if we were to withdraw all our forces from that region, the Taliban would get control of Pakistan's nukes.  In fact, the most destabilizing factor for Pakistan's government is the US military's drone attacks on villages and the attacks the US is coercing the Pakistani military into making on other villages.  The Obama Admin is destabilizing Pakistan (presumably out of ignorance, not malice).

    Arthur Silber is basically right: Liberals are far too willing to give Obama the benefit of the doubt, when his policies of escalation are virtually certain to lead to more atrocities in Af-Pak.

    The justifications for the US military involvement in Af-Pak AND Iraq are all exactly as bogus now as they ever were under CheneyBush.  Our wars in the Muslim world are all unjust and illegitimate.  There was some justification for our initial attack against Afghanistan.  At least that can be debated by reasonable people - but that was more than 6 years ago, for God's sake, and we are doing only harm there now.  Any justice in our military intervention in Afghanistan has long since evaporated.  In Iraq, of course, our involvement was criminal from the initial Blitzkrieg until the present moment.

    •  Well, they could end this tomorrow. (0+ / 0-)

      Let the Taliban hand over Bin Laden to be tried for his crimes against humanity, and if the US doesn't accept such an offer, I will join you in condemning Obama. But in the meantime, the US is doing all it can to minimize civilian casualties. We actually expressed regret for the loss of life and are trying to find ways to prevent stuff like the recent bombing that killed 100+ people from happening again. That did not happen under the Bush administration.

  •  No, there I'm with Arthur Silber's right to rant. (0+ / 0-)

    If only because someone has to remind President Obama about the Forrest Gump principle: stupid is as stupid does —> war criminal is as war criminal does.

    I fear "Af-Pak" is merely the next euphemism, bogeyman, and cover story for our troops doing G~d knows what, killing G~d knows whom, for G~d knows how long.

    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

    by lotlizard on Wed May 20, 2009 at 01:17:29 PM PDT

    •  It may be wrong. (0+ / 0-)

      But does that make him a war criminal?

      •  Many think he's already skating on moral thin ice (0+ / 0-)

        … when it comes to continuing Bush's policies under the label of "centrism."

        Supposing we stipulate that the former Administration committed war crimes — then certainly there is great risk of committing war crimes oneself in the new Administration if, aside from some well-publicized cosmetic changes, one insists on keeping most of the old policies in place.

        The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

        by lotlizard on Thu May 21, 2009 at 03:05:39 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I'm not convinced that he is. (0+ / 0-)

          For one thing, the US expressed regret for the loss of life in the recent air strikes that killed 100+ civilians.That is a significant step that is much different from an administration which never gave a rat's behind about that sort of thing. And Obama got rid of the general who was too wedded to conventional means of warfare and who was not getting the job done. In other words, instead of pursuing a blanket policy of air strikes, the Obama administration will be pursuing a policy involving the winning of hearts and minds of civilians -- we know that because he appointed a man who specializes in counterinsurgency techniques.

          That said, we can't stay there forever -- we have to come up with an exit plan. But I cannot see how our presence there would be considered a "war crime" when Bin Laden started a war of aggression against this country and the Taliban aided and abetted that war of aggression by sheltering him and then refusing to hand him over after the attacks. The Taliban could end this tomorrow by handing over Bin Laden for prosecution of his war crimes or cooperating with the US to capture him.

          •  Here's where we disagree. (0+ / 0-)

            when Bin Laden started a war of aggression against this country

            Bin Laden is of course a criminal but at no time did he represent the government of Afghanistan. Simply put, he and the country of Afghanistan (as represented by the Taliban, as atrocious as their rule was and is) are two separate and quite different things — although it serves a certain agenda (which many Dems now seem to be seamlessly adopting from Bush 43) to pretend they are one and the same.

            Seriously, why would one of the weakest, poorest countries on Earth start an impossible-to-win war with the richest and most powerful country the planet has ever seen? Because "they hate us for our freedoms"?

            How much of Bush's post-9/11 rhetoric and foreign policy positions are we and the new Dem Administration endorsing here? Are we now conceding he was right about some things? What things? How wise is it to follow in his footsteps, even partially?

            The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

            by lotlizard on Thu May 21, 2009 at 08:32:33 AM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  But you miss the point. (0+ / 0-)

              You forget who you are dealing with. You are dealing with many of the same people who brought the Soviet Union to its knees. And they brought the Soviet Union to its knees in the same way that they dragged us into Afghanistan -- by fighting a non-conventional war against us. It worked against us in Vietnam, it worked against the Soviet Union. As for this conflict, we'll see. And Bin Laden himself stated what his rationale for starting a war against the US was -- to drive oil prices up to $144/gallon to bankrupt our economy. And his family would be one of the main people to profit from such an arrangement.

              Now, I realize that Bin Laden and the Taliban are two different entities -- but that doesn't change the fact that the Taliban aided and abetted Bin Laden's war of aggression against the US by providing him shelter and by refusing to turn him over.

              •  No, Saudi Arabia = better target than Afghanistan (0+ / 0-)

                … then — that is, if the oil price, Bin Laden's family, money flowing to promote Muslim fundamentalism (Wahhabism) etc. is the point.

                I decline the neocon-ish choice of language, whereby you call an attack by handful of cave-dwellers a "war of aggression." Firstly, in the earlier case I would have thought it was clear that the Soviet Union was the aggressor — making Afghan resistance (which the U.S. supported) justified "blowback."

                Secondly, do we want to emulate the fear-driven "leaden era" (bleierne Zeit) of 1970s Germany when it was faced with Red Army Faction terrorism — the mentality sardonically called "the 'war' of the six versus the 60 million"? A "war of aggression" is a war of conquest. Were six RAF members ever threatening to "conquer" a society of 60 million? Absurd.

                The U.S. has a third of a billion people and spends trillions on its military capabilities. We likewise are in no danger of being conquered — on the contrary, terrorism has served us as a convenient excuse to conquer other countries.

                President Obama, please seriously consider whether it is our own policy of conquest that is criminal and needs changing.

                The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                by lotlizard on Thu May 21, 2009 at 11:22:29 AM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  Wrong again. (0+ / 0-)

                  Saudi Arabia has its problems, but it did not provide aid or comfort to the war criminal Bin Laden by providing him aid or comfort. The Taliban does. And surely, you would not justify Bin Laden's attack on 9/11 as blowback.

                  It's not that Bin Laden and his forces are a threat to conquer us. That's not the point. I reject the "Clash of Civilizations" mentality because of the fact that he doesn't even represent mainstream Islam. And I'm not for any policy of perpetual warfare -- I want to give Obama's policies a chance to work, but if we are not making progress there, then we need to get out of Afghanistan like we are getting out of Iraq. But facts are facts. And the facts are that Bin Laden initiated a war of aggression against the United States in 1998 when he bombed our embassies and when he bombed the World Trade Center in 2001. And let me put it this way -- it doesn't do any good for me to break into your house and steal your stuff and then turn around and point to all the times in the past you have stolen from others.

                  •  No, that framing is wrong. And Giuliani-esque. (0+ / 0-)

                    The idea that a few ragtag figures could initiate a "war of aggression" against us, the greatest military and economic power in history (fact!), is a dishonest framing.

                    It smacks of Rudy Giuliani's rote invocations of 9/11 in the GOP primary debates — refuted by Ron Paul of all people, who pointed out that the "blowback" thesis comes not from apologists for extremism but rests on reams of analysis by the CIA itself.

                    Undoubtedly Bin Laden and his ilk are criminals, but hardly the comic-book archvillains they have been made out to be. Leave aside the fact that we have always suborned and exploited such criminality to serve our own purposes. The day after 9/11 the entire world expressed sympathy and solidarity with us. If our grip on planetary domination is slipping, it is because our wrong response is bankrupting us financially and morally.

                    Here, the two of us will have to agree to disagree. Suffice it to say that in the long run, it will do no one on the planet, American or otherwise, any good to adopt the neocon platform and rationalizations for hegemony simply because a Democrat is now in the White House.

                    The Dutch kids' chorus Kinderen voor Kinderen wishes all the world's children freedom from hunger, ignorance, and war.

                    by lotlizard on Thu May 21, 2009 at 09:53:30 PM PDT

                    [ Parent ]

                    •  lotlizard has identified the policy dangers (0+ / 0-)

                      Throughout this debate, lotlizard has focused on the real dangers facing this country, the people of Af-Pak, and the Obama Administration.  Our "blundering efforts to do good" - quoting from the mainstream assessment of the US War in Vietnam - are really nothing of the kind.  By continuing to  conduct and even escalating the counterinsurgency war in Af-Pak, Obama is guaranteeing, with 100% certainty, that our forces will kill thousands more innocent civilians.

                      The good intentions of the system of institutions that control this superpower CANNOT be assumed.  Obama, as a faithful servant of this death-dealing system, will unavoidably be driven to commit war crimes, unless he changes course radically and immediately.  Tragically, I see no sign that he is moving in that direction.

                      Silber and lotlizard are right, while Eternal Hope has started down the slippery path of excusing and justifying Democratic war crimes while condemning Republican war crimes.  I don't need to remind you of the word that Jesus used to describe that kind of behavior.

                      •  Well, you're not a prophet. (0+ / 0-)

                        So, you can't say with certainty that we will kill thousands of innocent civilians. In fact, in response to the recent bombing of 100 civilians, we are now taking steps to avoid the killing of civilians. Imagine that -- a President who is actually trying to follow international standards for warfare instead of thumbing his nose up at international law. He already is changing course radically and immediately -- he has already replaced generals in Afghanistan. He expressed regret at the loss of life in the air strike in question -- something that Bush never would have done. And you're not Dr. Frist. You don't know Obama's state of mind and you can't psychoanalyze him over the Internet even if you are a licensed psychologist.

                        •  Modern counterinsurgency war kills civilians (0+ / 0-)

                          US military history from Korea and Vietnam onward suggests strongly that escalating the war in Af-Pak is virtually certain to cause the death of thousands more civilians in these two countries. It is willful blindness to assume otherwise.

                          The primary purpose and function of America's military is to kill people and blow things up. That is what our troops are trained to do. To assume that Obama's (assumed) benign wishes and expressions of regret (whether they are sincere or not) can somehow negate the nature of what an army is and does strains credulity. No quantity of sorry official statements can bring a single dead civilian back to life, or erase the bitter hatred their relatives and co-religioninsts now feel against America.

                          Your posts are starting to look like naive hero-worship. War is hell, even when the war is being waged by America. There is no valid justification for our troops and drones to be blundering around on the other side of the world. If the American wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are unjust, they must be ended immediately.

                          •  You didn't hear me say that. (0+ / 0-)

                            My patience with Obama in Afghanistan and Pakistan is not unlimited. I am willing to give Obama's plans a chance to work in that part of the world, but if we are not making progress in a year or two, then we need to leave. But, that said, the Taliban can end it tomorrow if they wanted to by handing over Bin Laden to be tried for his war crimes. The difference between Iraq and Afghanistan is that Bin Laden planned and implemented a war of aggression against the United States and the Taliban aided and abetted that war by providing him shelter. So, I would say that the US has much more of a just cause in Afghanistan than it did in Iraq.

                            And you show concern for the dead civilians in Afghanistan, which is fine. But it works both ways -- it's too bad that you don't show a similar concern for the civilians who were killed in the 9/11 attacks as well as the other attacks against Americans that Bin Laden carried out. Our policies for the last several decades may be wrong, but it's not like the victims of 9/11 planned and carried out those policies.

                          •  Please don't assume (0+ / 0-)

                            that I have no concern for the civilians killed in the 9-11 attacks.  That seemed to be a below-the-belt accusation on your part, exactly the type of attack I get from right-wingers all the time.

                            My patience with Obama's strategy in Af-Pak is nil, because I know that modern counterinsurgency wars kill at least 4 civilians for every combatant killed.  I don't think there has ever been an exception to this hard fact.  In some recent wars, the ratio is even worse.

                            I don't see how we can deny that to escalate in Af-Pak will raise the general level of violence there, kill many more civilians, and create the anti-US fighters that we claim we are trying to defeat.

                            If that analysis is correct, and several experts in Fourth-Generation Warfare state that it is, then the strategy Obama has chosen should have been taken off the table as useless.  It is useless now, and it should be removed from the table now, not in "a year or two."  The sooner his doomed strategy is reversed and removed from the table, the better the situation will become and the fewer civilians will be killed, maimed, and driven from their homes.

                          •  OK: (0+ / 0-)

                            My patience with Obama's strategy in Af-Pak is nil, because I know that modern counterinsurgency wars kill at least 4 civilians for every combatant killed.

                            How do you know this? And what experts of "Fourth Generation Warfare" are you referring to? And what is it in the first place?

                          •  Brief intro to 4th-generation war (0+ / 0-)

                            Good questions, EternalHope.  Wm Lind is one expert:

                            "June 28, 2006
                            War in a Fourth Generation World
                            Neither Shall the Sword

                            By WILLIAM S. LIND

                            Chet Richards is the spider of the web site, which is the best source for material on Fourth Generation war. He is also the only person authorized to give Col. John Boyd's famous "Patterns of Conflict" briefing. Given that background, it is not surprising that he has produced a useful and important discussion of Fourth Generation strategy, in the form of a short book titled Neither Shall the Sword. If Washington were interested in strategy, which it is not (its only genuine interest is in court politics), it would give this small volume large attention.

                            The book begins by asking whether Third Generation maneuver warfare is passé. As the Urvater of maneuver warfare theory in this country, I must agree with Richards that it is. As glorious as the Blitzkrieg was, it now belongs to history; wars between state armed forces, while they may now and then still occur, will be jousting contests more than real wars. The institutional culture of Third Generation armed services, with its outward focus, decentralization, initiative and self-discipline, remains vital to any fighting organization. But unless they are relieving an inside-out Islamic siege of Brussels, Panzer divisions will no longer be streaming through the Ardennes.

                            Rightly, Richards recognizes that the challenge of the present and the foreseeable future is Fourth Generation war. America's most pressing need is for a grand strategy suitable to a Fourth Generation world. In Neither Shall the Sword, Richards examines and compares the suggestions of five strategists: myself, in my cover story "Strategic Defense Initiative" in the November 22, 2004 issue of The American Conservative; Martin van Creveld and his book The Transformation of War; Tom Hammes, The Sling and the Stone; Michael Scheuer, Imperial Hubris; and Thomas Barnett in The Pentagon's New Map and Blueprint for Action.

                            Richards groups these five positions in two major camps, containment and rollback, terms which go back to the early days of the Cold War. Van Creveld and I represent containment, which I can accept; Barnett represents rollback (on steroids); and Hammes and Scheuer are somewhere in the middle. Richards's comparison and analysis of all these positions is thorough and insightful. For those who suspect I may be tooting my own horn here, let me note that he does not end up where I do.

                            Beyond this comparison, Richards makes additional valuable points. One is that the Bush administration has fundamentally miscast the nature of the conflict we now face. He argues that war is terrorism, so a "war on terrorism" is a war on war. We are not in a war on "terrorism" or engaged in a "struggle against violent extremism."

                            Instead, we are faced with an evolutionary development in armed conflict, a "fourth generation" of warfare that is different from and much more serious than "terrorism" to see the difference between 4GW and "terrorism," run this simple thought experiment: suppose bin Laden and al-Qaida were able to enforce their program on the Middle East, but they succeeded without the deliberate killing of one more American civilian. The entire Middle East turns hostile, Israel is destroyed, and gas goes up to $15 per gallon when it is available. Bin Laden's 4GW campaign succeeds, but without terrorism. Do you feel better?

                            This applies to situations like Iraq and Afghanistan:

                               It's not a war followed by a blown peace. That is conventional war thinking, even if the war is waged and quickly won by 3GW. Instead, it will be an occupation against some degree of resistance, followed by the real, fourth generation war.

                            Much of Neither Shall the Sword is devoted to considering what kinds of armed forces the U.S. would require for 4GW, which varies depending on the grand strategy we adopt. He recognizes that the current Department of Defense, and the bulk of our forces, are untransformable.

                            Practitioners of real transformation agree that in such circumstances it is better not to transform but to start over  The sooner these fossils are put to rest, the sooner new enterprises can rise to create innovative business models for satisfying customer desires.

                            Here is where Richards and I part company. DOD is, as he recognizes, Gosplan. But his alternative, at least for a rollback force, includes privatizing the fighting function. The problem with this is that as the state privatizes security functions, for foreign wars or here at home, it strikes at its own reason for being and thus accelerates its crisis of legitimacy, which lies at the heart of 4GW. Once security is privatized, why have a state at all?

                            Conveniently, private armies have a long history of overthrowing states. There is good reason why the rising state of the 17th century abolished private armies and forcefully asserted a monopoly on violence.

                            Even here, Neither Shall the Sword promotes creative thinking on the most important military question of our time: how can states come to grips with Fourth Generation war?

                            Copies are available from the Center for Defense Information in Washington, D.C. ( You might want to send one to your Senator or Congressman. If you enclose a check for at least $1000, they might even pay some attention to it.

                            William S. Lind, expressing his own personal opinion, is Director for the Center for Cultural Conservatism for the Free Congress Foundation."

                          •  Ratios of civilian to combatant casualties worsen (1+ / 0-)
                            Recommended by:
                            Liberal Thinking

                            I believe the following is indicative, not conclusive, in terms of statistics:

                            "Here is the bottom line - War is Increasingly About Civilian Dead.  

                               * In WWI, the total number of Civilian Casualties was 10.74% of the total casualties (106,000 GIs died; 8 million civilians died).
                               * In WWII the civilian casualties were approximately 410,000, or  50.62% of the total (400,000 GIs died; add to the civilian total the 8 million Holocaust; and add 17 to 60 million civilian causality estimates worldwide).  
                               * In the Vietnam War, civilian casualty estimate is 340,000, or 85.74% of total casualties (56,000 GIs died; 200,000 South Vietnamese soldiers died; 1,000,000 North Vietnamese soldiers died, Vietnam War Facts).
                               * In the narrow window of the Gulf War (1990-1991) 5,000 civilian casualties, or 92.89% dead and 383 GIs dead from accident or friendly fire during 1991-1992;
                               * But Since 1992  more than 1.2 million civilians, or 99.15% (estimates range as high as 1.7 million dead) and 10,324 U.S. GIs dead since the war (WPSR, & America's War Fact Sheet; More War Stats; And PeaceAware Vets Factsheet ). Of the 1.2 million civilian casualties, 500,000 are children under five.

                            The number of civilian deaths is why the Gulf War is a particularly egregious violation of the Geneva Convention and the U.S. Legal Code. 1.2 million Iraqi civilians

                            Figure 1 - Civilian and GI Dead form Wars

                            Figure 2 - Percentage of Civilians as Casualty of War

                            Figure 1 suggests that the number of civilian dead is a greater percentage of the total dead in successive wars.

                            Table 1 - Statistics used to compile Figures 1 and 2
                            Civilians Dead GIs Dead Total Dead Percent Civilians Dead
                            WWI 12,755 106,000 118,755 10.74%
                            WWII 410,000 400,000 810,000 50.62%
                            Vietnam War 340,000 56,555 396,555 85.74%
                            Gulf War 90-91 5,000 383 5,383 92.89%
                            After Gulf War 1,200,000 10,324 1,210,324 99.15%

                            Collateral damage, the number of civilians dying in war, is increasing each time, until 99.15% of the causalities are civilians, not military. It is for this reason, that war is no longer heroic or noble. When the majority of casualties are civilians, this is war crime, not heroics. The Gulf Wars are Nuclear Wars, wars that the media portrays as bloodless, surgical strikes. This is the age of video battles, digital displays of war. The state-controlled media knows that if the American public sees the civilian and GI war-dead body bags, then opposition will grow. In Gulf War I, video footage was carefully aimed so that no blood was shown. With massive bulldozers, the corpses of Iraqi soldiers were plowed into seventy miles of defensive trenches. This way there were no war bodies for journalist to report. The success of the war business depends upon keeping the American public ignorant of the war dead (See "The Iraq War They Won't Let You See" articles in March 20, 2003 issue of Rolling Stone, pp. 44-52)."

                    •  That's exactly the problem. (0+ / 0-)

                      Bin Laden and his followers are CRIMINALS. You just admitted it. We want Cheney and his henchmen brought to justice for their war crimes. So, it is therefore only fair to point out that Bin Laden and his ilk are criminals and should therefore be brought to justice. I realize that we have done a lot of bad things during the last several decades. But that does not mean that Bin Laden is not responsible for his actions. That would be like me breaking into your house and stealing some of your stuff and then turning around and pointing out that because you stole some stuff from some people five years ago that my breaking and entering was therefore justified. Try making that kind of a defense in court sometime.

                      There is nothing Giulianiesque about wanting justice for war crimes -- Bush committed a war of aggression against Iraq -- bring him to justice. Cheney committed a war of aggression against Iraq and authorized the torture program -- bring him to justice. Bin Laden committed the heinous crime of planning and implementing a war of aggression against the US. I know it seems foreign to you, but criminal (by your own admission) minds like Bin Laden's are not rational thinkers. Bring him to justice as well. You rightly talk about blowback against the US for what they have done over the past several decades. That does not excuse Bin Laden from responsibility for his horrendous crimes.

Subscribe or Donate to support Daily Kos.

Click here for the mobile view of the site