04.24.15

Line up the Pro Lickspittles

Posted in Culture of Lickspittle, Shoeshine, War On Terror at 3:30 pm by George Smith

“Mistakes happen, says William Banks, a professor at Syracuse University’s Institute for National Security and Counterterrorism” on the drone strike that killed two humanitarian aid workers, one American and one Italian, in Pakistan.

That’s a quote from the BBC, courtesy of one of many scholars flacks for the forever wars devoted to dropping bombs on the poor people of the world. “Even if you’re up close and personal, it can be difficult,” Banks adds. It’s difficult to tell the “bad guys from the good guys.”

This is what passes for pithy comment, scholarship and critical thinking from the American academy on our many wars in 2015. That’s because the American system virtually wiped out everyone who wasn’t attached to the payroll of the Department of Defense or the national security infrastructure after 9/11. Experts on the matter, you see, are only necessary as fonts of simple-minded justifications, suitable for public consumption, for whatever it is the war machine is doing around the world.

What does Syracuse know about national security and terrorism? Nothing. Its “institute” didn’t exist until 2003.

A visit to its homepage (laugh at it’s unintentionally hilarious acronym) shows it to be almost all middle-aged and older white guys. Like most of these things, funded and fertilized by national security money, it’s a dumping ground for lawyers, military men from the wars still wearing their uniforms for their bio pictures, and lower and middle tier officials from the Pentagon. Plus, they can’t even hire someone to keep their web links working correctly.

“At times mistakes occur because of poor judgment,” continues the BBC. (No link, I won’t do it.)

Then the Beeb White House reporter digs up still another lawyer from the University of Houston to furnish yet one more upper class servant-of-the-military to white-mansplain how it is the war on terror is fought. For the one times ten to the sixth power time.

“There was ‘faulty intelligence,’ says Jordan Paust, an international law professor at University of Houston.” But the target site appeared to be “lawful … despite the unintended deaths,” he tells the Beeb.

“Someone’s got to make a choice …. That’s not necessarily a war crime.”

Faulty intelligence. Hard time telling the “bad guys from the good guys.” Even if you’re up close and personal it’s difficult.

A sack of potatoes could have thought this stuff up.

Do the war flacks passed off as scholars know how bad they sound? Certainly some of them do. But that’s why they’re paid. We need people to convincingly pretend they’re serious and thoughtful so that the news doesn’t veer dangerously into discussions of systematic callousness, inequities, blood and long-term consequences.

And there’s nothing that can be done about it. Except write something supercilious on a blog, something no one will like or share because … why, exactly?

Well, what to like? There’s no appropriate social media reaction widget.


The New York Times editorial board gets to the Bombs of Hope and Renewal matter:

The Obama administration has helped the Saudis with intelligence and tactical advice and by deploying warships off the Yemeni coast. Now it is wisely urging them to end the bombing. The White House seems to have realized that the Saudis appear to have no credible strategy for achieving their political goals, or even managing their intervention.

Seems baldly disingenuous, does it not? There are smart people at the New York Times. When they say “the Saudis appear to have no credible strategy” they certainly know it’s a strategy cooked up and targeted by the US Africa Command after it was surprised by the eruption of revolution. (Google US Africa Command and “stability operations” for a bleak laugh.)

“The deployment of the U.S.S. Theodore Roosevelt aircraft carrier and other warships to the Arabian Sea this week was intended [to help the war effort], writes the Times. “American officials said they were prepared to intercept a nine-ship Iranian convoy headed for Yemen and believed to be carrying weapons for the rebels. Fortunately, the Iranian vessels turned around, avoiding a possible confrontation.”

Yes, an entire nuclear carrier surface action group is needed off one of the poorest countries in the world, just in case.

Perhaps the President or the Times ought to concede that letting Special Operations Command and the East Africa Air Pirates drone crew give Yemen the business for a few years hasn’t done the world any humanitarian favors.

Yemen has almost always teetered close to being a failed state. In 2013, the country’s electrical production was 850 megawatts, down by almost half of what it was the year before.

By contrast, the cities of Burbank, Glendale and Pasadena consumed 962 gigawatt hours of electricity in 2012 for residential use alone. Pasadena, by itself, it’s probably safe to say, has indescribably more electrical production capacity at its disposal than the entire country of Yemen.

Yemen, then, is patently one of the worst off places in the world, it’s deteriorating electrical production capacity only one measure of its very weak and fragile structure.

The US government, or its military, surely cannot say with any straight face (although they may try), that unleashing a vigorous anti-terror campaign upon the country did not significantly contribute to its current terrible condition.


More national security servant whitemansplaining on assassination campaigns in the poors regions:

“Core Al Qaeda is a rump of its former self,” said an American counterterrorism official, in an assessment echoed by several European and Pakistani officials.

The Pakistanis estimate that Al Qaeda has lost 40 loyalists, of all ranks, to American drone strikes in the past six months – a higher toll than other sources have tracked but indicative of a broader trend. Now, they say, Qaeda commanders are moving back to the relative safety, and isolation, of locations they once fled, like the mountains of eastern Afghanistan, and Sudan.

Yet militancy experts caution that it is too early to sound the death knell for Al Qaeda’s leaders, for whom patience and adaptability are hallmarks, and who, despite the adversity, remain the principal jihadist militants focused on attacking the West.

“People always want to know when the job will be finished,” said Michael Semple, a militancy expert at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. “I don’t think we can talk about that. They’re on the back foot, rather than being eliminated.”

The job will not be finished. That would mean the need for so many facile “militancy experts” might come into question.

Militancy experts. Say it again. Sounds delicate, like something for which you have to have brains.

Is there a metric, a “militancy quotient,” used to measure countries we’re working over because terrorists? What’s the quotient of Yemen? Pakistan? Iraq-Syria-Libya?

The newspaper does sort of glumly concede al Qaeda men are has-beens next to ISIS, though.


“A Nobel Peace Prize laureate’s [Barack Obama’s] embrace of drones, partly on humanitarian grounds, is sure to increase their legitimacy as instruments of war in the future,” reads the New Yorker. “But how can Obama’s choice be squared with the accumulating record of mistakes?”

In 2014, Camp Lemmonair in Djibouti (or US Africa Command’s home) was the launching pad for 16 drone sorties a day, most of them into Yemen.

Mark Fiore on Death & Destruction, Inc.

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