This book is a MUST READ. Of course it is old now and the 911 inside job has uncovered a much deeper level of a criminal empire. BUT IT IS CRITICALLY IMPORTANT for us to have an understanding of the ways that our democracy is undermined by the ILLEGITEMATE OWNERS of this world. The book is freely availabe from zmag.org website. Blogspot adaptation by u2rh2.
Wednesday, June 30, 2010
MEMRI (Mossad neoliberals)
June 22, 2010 Clip No. 2530 American Linguist Noam Chomsky to Iranian TV: The US More Fundamentalist than Saudi Arabia and the Taliban
Following are excerpts from an interview with American linguist and political activist Noam Chomsky, which aired on Al-Alam TV on June 22, 2010. The translation is from the Arabic voiceover.
Noam Chomsky: We must bear in mind that the US is a very fundamentalist society, perhaps more than any other society in the world . even more fundamentalist than Saudi Arabia or the Taliban. That's very surprising. About half of the [US] population believes that all living species were created 6,000 years ago in their current form.
It's entirely possible that Ahmadinejad and George Bush are spiritual brothers. It is likely that they both believe that the Second Coming is near. It may be the Mahdi, or Jesus Christ, or somebody else, but pretty soon, everything is going to be solved, because all the glorious and miraculous things will happen exactly as predicted. All religions know this and believe in this.
Therefore, it does not really matter what you do today . whether you blow up the world with nuclear weapons, or destroy the environment, or anything . because all this would be taken care of.
The Middle East Media Research Institute (MEMRI) is an independent, non-profit organization providing translations of the Middle East media and original analysis and research on developments in the region. Copies of articles and documents cited, as well as background information, are available on request. MEMRI holds copyrights on all translations. Materials may only be used with proper attribution.
The Middle East Media Research Institute P.O. Box 27837, Washington, DC 20038-7837 Phone:  955-9070 Fax:  955-9077 E-Mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
MEMRI IS NOT INDEPENDENT.. it is A PRO ISRAEL; PRO MILITARY -- coporate-whore
The Middle East Media Research Institute, or MEMRI for short, is a Middle Eastern press monitoring organization. Its headquarters is located in Washington, DC, with branch offices in Jerusalem, Berlin, London, Rome, Shanghai, Baghdad, and Tokyo. MEMRI was co-founded in 1998 by Yigal Carmon, a former colonel in Israeli military intelligence, and another Israeli Meyrav Wurmser. It provides a free source of English language translations of material published in Arabic and Persian script, and publishes its analyses and in-depth reports on its website.
The organization's translations are regularly quoted by major international newspapers, and its work has generated strong criticism and praise. Critics have accused MEMRI of selectivity choosing for translation and dissemination the most extreme views from Arabic and Persian media, which portray the Arab and Muslim world in a negative light, while ignoring moderate views that are often found in the same media outlets.
The dire threat of Iran is widely recognized to be the most serious foreign policy crisis facing the Obama administration. Congress has just strengthened the sanctions against Iran, with even more severe penalties against foreign companies. The Obama administration has been rapidly expanding its offensive capacity in the African island of Diego Garcia, claimed by Britain, which had expelled the population so that the US could build the massive base it uses for attacking the Middle East and Central Asia. The Navy reports sending a submarine tender to the island to service nuclear-powered guided-missile submarines with Tomahawk missiles, which can carry nuclear warheads. Each submarine is reported to have the striking power of a typical carrier battle group. According to a US Navy cargo manifest obtained by the Sunday Herald (Glasgow), the substantial military equipment Obama has dispatched includes 387 .bunker busters. used for blasting hardened underground structures. Planning for these .massive ordnance penetrators,. the most powerful bombs in the arsenal short of nuclear weapons, was initiated in the Bush administration, but languished. On taking office, Obama immediately accelerated the plans, and they are to be deployed several years ahead of schedule, aiming specifically at Iran.
.They are gearing up totally for the destruction of Iran,. according to Dan Plesch, director of the Centre for International Studies and Diplomacy at the University of London. .US bombers and long range missiles are ready today to destroy 10,000 targets in Iran in a few hours,. he said. .The firepower of US forces has quadrupled since 2003,. accelerating under Obama.
The Arab press reports that an American fleet (with an Israeli vessel) passed through the Suez Canal on the way to the Persian Gulf, where its task is .to implement the sanctions against Iran and supervise the ships going to and from Iran.. British and Israeli media report that Saudi Arabia is providing a corridor for Israeli bombing of Iran (denied by Saudi Arabia). On his return from Afghanistan to reassure NATO allies that the US will stay the course after the replacement of General McChrystal by his superior, General Petraeus, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Michael Mullen visited Israel to meet Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and senior Israeli military staff along with intelligence and planning units, continuing the annual strategic dialogue between Israel and the U.S. in Tel Aviv. The meeting focused .on the preparation by both Israel and the U.S. for the possibility of a nuclear capable Iran,. according to Haaretz, which reports further that Mullen emphasized that .I always try to see challenges from Israeli perspective.. Mullen and Ashkenazi are in regular contact on a secure line.
The increasing threats of military action against Iran are of course in violation of the UN Charter, and in specific violation of Security Council resolution 1887 of September 2009 which reaffirmed the call to all states to resolve disputes related to nuclear issues peacefully, in accordance with the Charter, which bans the use or threat of force.
Some respected analysts describe the Iranian threat in apocalyptic terms. Amitai Etzioni warns that .The U.S. will have to confront Iran or give up the Middle East,. no less. If Iran.s nuclear program proceeds, he asserts, Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and other states will .move toward. the new Iranian .superpower.; in less fevered rhetoric, a regional alliance might take shape independent of the US. In the US army journal Military Review, Etzioni urges a US attack that targets not only Iran.s nuclear facilities but also its non-nuclear military assets, including infrastructure . meaning, the civilian society. "This kind of military action is akin to sanctions - causing 'pain' in order to change behaviour, albeit by much more powerful means."
Such harrowing pronouncements aside, what exactly is the Iranian threat? An authoritative answer is provided in the April 2010 study of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, Military Balance 2010. The brutal clerical regime is doubtless a threat to its own people, though it does not rank particularly high in that respect in comparison to US allies in the region. But that is not what concerns the Institute. Rather, it is concerned with the threat Iran poses to the region and the world.
The study makes it clear that the Iranian threat is not military. Iran.s military spending is .relatively low compared to the rest of the region,. and less than 2% that of the US. Iranian military doctrine is strictly .defensive,. designed to slow an invasion and force a diplomatic solution to hostilities.. Iran has only .a limited capability to project force beyond its borders.. With regard to the nuclear option, .Iran.s nuclear program and its willingness to keep open the possibility of developing nuclear weapons is a central part of its deterrent strategy..
Though the Iranian threat is not military, that does not mean that it might be tolerable to Washington. Iranian deterrent capacity is an illegitimate exercise of sovereignty that interferes with US global designs. Specifically, it threatens US control of Middle East energy resources, a high priority of planners since World War II, which yields .substantial control of the world,. one influential figure advised (A. A. Berle).
But Iran.s threat goes beyond deterrence. It is also seeking to expand its influence. As the Institute study formulates the threat, Iran is .destabilizing. the region. US invasion and military occupation of Iran.s neighbors is .stabilization.. Iran.s efforts to extend its influence in neighboring countries is .destabilization,. hence plainly illegitimate. It should be noted that such revealing usage is routine. Thus the prominent foreign policy analyst James Chace, former editor the main establishment journal Foreign Affairs, was properly using the term .stability. in its technical sense when he explained that in order to achieve .stability. in Chile it was necessary to .destabilize. the country (by overthrowing the elected Allende government and installing the Pinochet dictatorship).
Beyond these crimes, Iran is also supporting terrorism, the study continues: by backing Hezbollah and Hamas, the major political forces in Lebanon and in Palestine . if elections matter. The Hezbollah-based coalition handily won the popular vote in Lebanon.s latest (2009) election. Hamas won the 2006 Palestinian election, compelling the US and Israel to institute the harsh and brutal siege of Gaza to punish the miscreants for voting the wrong way in a free election. These have been the only relatively free elections in the Arab world. It is normal for elite opinion to fear the threat of democracy and to act to deter it, but this is a rather striking case, particularly alongside of strong US support for the regional dictatorships, particularly striking with Obama.s strong praise for the brutal Egyptian dictator Mubarak on the way to his famous address to the Muslim world in Cairo.
The terrorist acts attributed to Hamas and Hezbollah pale in comparison to US-Israeli terrorism in the same region, but they are worth a look nevertheless.
On May 25 Lebanon celebrated its national holiday, Liberation Day, commemorating Israel.s withdrawal from southern Lebanon after 22 years, as a result of Hezbollah resistance . described by Israeli authorities as .Iranian aggression. against Israel in Israeli-occupied Lebanon (Ephraim Sneh). That too is normal imperial usage. Thus President John F. Kennedy condemned the .the assault from the inside, and which is manipulated from the North.. The assault by the South Vietnamese resistance against Kennedy.s bombers, chemical warfare, driving peasants to virtual concentration camps, and other such benign measures was denounced as .internal aggression. by Kennedy.s UN Ambassador, liberal hero Adlai Stevenson. North Vietnamese support for their countrymen in the US-occupied South is aggression, intolerable interference with Washington.s righteous mission. Kennedy advisors Arthur Schlesinger and Theodore Sorenson, considered doves, also praised Washington.s intervention to reverse .aggression. in South Vietnam . by the indigenous resistance, as they knew, at least if they read US intelligence reports. In 1955 the US Joint Chiefs of Staff defined several types of .aggression,. including .Aggression other than armed, i.e., political warfare, or subversion.. For example, an internal uprising against a US-imposed police state, or elections that come out the wrong way. The usage is also common in scholarship and political commentary, and makes sense on the prevailing assumption that We Own the World.
Hamas resists Israel.s military occupation and its illegal and violent actions in the occupied territories. It is accused of refusing to recognize Israel (political parties do not recognize states). In contrast, the US and Israel not only do not recognize Palestine, but have been acting for decades to ensure that it can never come into existence in any meaningful form; the governing party in Israel, in its 1999 campaign platform, bars the existence of any Palestinian state.
Hamas is charged with rocketing Israeli settlements on the border, criminal acts no doubt, though a fraction of Israel.s violence in Gaza, let alone elsewhere. It is important to bear in mind, in this connection, that the US and Israel know exactly how to terminate the terror that they deplore with such passion. Israel officially concedes that there were no Hamas rockets as long as Israel partially observed a truce with Hamas in 2008. Israel rejected Hamas.s offer to renew the truce, preferring to launch the murderous and destructive Operation Cast Lead against Gaza in December 2008, with full US backing, an exploit of murderous aggression without the slightest credible pretext on either legal or moral grounds.
The model for democracy in the Muslim world, despite serious flaws, is Turkey, which has relatively free elections, and has also been subject to harsh criticism in the US. The most extreme case was when the government followed the position of 95% of the population and refused to join in the invasion of Iraq, eliciting harsh condemnation from Washington for its failure to comprehend how a democratic government should behave: under our concept of democracy, the voice of the Master determines policy, not the near-unanimous voice of the population.
The Obama administration was once again incensed when Turkey joined with Brazil in arranging a deal with Iran to restrict its enrichment of uranium. Obama had praised the initiative in a letter to Brazil.s president Lula da Silva, apparently on the assumption that it would fail and provide a propaganda weapon against Iran. When it succeeded, the US was furious, and quickly undermined it by ramming through a Security Council resolution with new sanctions against Iran that were so meaningless that China cheerfully joined at once . recognizing that at most the sanctions would impede Western interests in competing with China for Iran.s resources. Once again, Washington acted forthrightly to ensure that others would not interfere with US control of the region.
Not surprisingly, Turkey (along with Brazil) voted against the US sanctions motion in the Security Council. The other regional member, Lebanon, abstained. These actions aroused further consternation in Washington. Philip Gordon, the Obama administration's top diplomat on European affairs, warned Turkey that its actions are not understood in the US and that it must .demonstrate its commitment to partnership with the West,. AP reported, .a rare admonishment of a crucial NATO ally..
The political class understands as well. Steven A. Cook, a scholar with the Council on Foreign Relations, observed that the critical question now is "How do we keep the Turks in their lane?" . following orders like good democrats. A New York Times headline captured the general mood: .Iran Deal Seen as Spot on Brazilian Leader.s Legacy.. In brief, do what we say, or else.
There is no indication that other countries in the region favor US sanctions any more than Turkey does. On Iran.s opposite border, for example, Pakistan and Iran, meeting in Turkey, recently signed an agreement for a new pipeline. Even more worrisome for the US is that the pipeline might extend to India. The 2008 US treaty with India supporting its nuclear programs . and indirectly its nuclear weapons programs -- was intended to stop India from joining the pipeline, according to Moeed Yusuf, a South Asia adviser to the United States Institute of Peace, expressing a common interpretation. India and Pakistan are two of the three nuclear powers that have refused to sign the Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), the third being Israel. All have developed nuclear weapons with US support, and still do.
No sane person wants Iran to develop nuclear weapons; or anyone. One obvious way to mitigate or eliminate this threat is to establish a NFWZ in the Middle East. The issue arose (again) at the NPT conference at United Nations headquarters in early May 2010. Egypt, as chair of the 118 nations of the Non-Aligned Movement, proposed that the conference back a plan calling for the start of negotiations in 2011 on a Middle East NWFZ, as had been agreed by the West, including the US, at the 1995 review conference on the NPT.
Washington still formally agrees, but insists that Israel be exempted . and has given no hint of allowing such provisions to apply to itself. The time is not yet ripe for creating the zone, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton stated at the NPT conference, while Washington insisted that no proposal can be accepted that calls for Israel's nuclear program to be placed under the auspices of the IAEA or that calls on signers of the NPT, specifically Washington, to release information about .Israeli nuclear facilities and activities, including information pertaining to previous nuclear transfers to Israel.. Obama.s technique of evasion is to adopt Israel.s position that any such proposal must be conditional on a comprehensive peace settlement, which the US can delay indefinitely, as it has been doing for 35 years, with rare and temporary exceptions.
At the same time, Yukiya Amano, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, asked foreign ministers of its 151 member states to share views on how to implement a resolution demanding that Israel "accede to. the NPT and throw its nuclear facilities open to IAEA oversight, AP reported.
It is rarely noted that the US and UK have a special responsibility to work to establish a Middle East NWFZ. In attempting to provide a thin legal cover for their invasion of the Iraq in 2003, they appealed to Security Council Resolution 687 (1991), which called on Iraq to terminate its development of weapons of mass destruction. The US and UK claimed that they had not done so. We need not tarry on the excuse, but that Resolution commits its signers to move to establish a NWFZ in the Middle East.
Parenthetically, we may add that US insistence on maintaining nuclear facilities in Diego Garcia undermines the nuclear-free weapons zone (NFWZ) established by the African Union, just as Washington continues to block a Pacific NFWZ by excluding its Pacific dependencies.
Obama.s rhetorical commitment to non-proliferation has received much praise, even a Nobel peace prize. One practical step in this direction is establishment of NFWZs. Another is withdrawing support for the nuclear programs of the three non-signers of the NPT. As often, rhetoric and actions are hardly aligned, in fact are in direct contradiction in this case, facts that pass with little attention.
Instead of taking practical steps towards reducing the truly dire threat of nuclear weapons proliferation, the US must take major steps towards reinforcing US control of the vital Middle East oil-producing regions, by violence if other means do not succeed. That is understandable and even reasonable, under prevailing imperial doctrine.
WHAT ACTUAL QUOTES GOT Afghanistan-occupier mcCHRYSTAL FIRED? see below.
But first this news: -- maybe related -- (Israeli citizen) Rahm Emanuel, the White House chief of staff, is expected to leave his job in six to eight months after growing tired of the "idealism" of Barack Obama's inner circle.
No Joke: Pro War Rahm Emanuel...praised Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts for peace.
(I DON'T KNOW WHAT THE OFFENSIVE ACTAUL QUOTES WOULD BE! READ THE WHOLE ARTICLE FOR YOURSELF. There is a CNN article further below that tries to explain Obama's anger. I think Obama was rescued by McChrystal. Now Obama seems "in charge"... while the military clearly is in charge of everything USA.
The Runaway General
Stanley McChrystal, Obama's top commander in Afghanistan, has seized control of the war by never taking his eye off the real enemy: The wimps in the White House
By Michael Hastings -- Jun 22, 2010 10:00 AM EDT
This article appears in RS 1108/1109 from July 8-22, 2010, on newsstands Friday, June 25.
'How'd I get screwed into going to this dinner?" demands Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It's a Thursday night in mid-April, and the commander of all U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan is sitting in a four-star suite at the Hôtel Westminster in Paris. He's in France to sell his new war strategy to our NATO allies . to keep up the fiction, in essence, that we actually have allies. Since McChrystal took over a year ago, the Afghan war has become the exclusive property of the United States. Opposition to the war has already toppled the Dutch government, forced the resignation of Germany's president and sparked both Canada and the Netherlands to announce the withdrawal of their 4,500 troops. McChrystal is in Paris to keep the French, who have lost more than 40 soldiers in Afghanistan, from going all wobbly on him.
"The dinner comes with the position, sir," says his chief of staff, Col. Charlie Flynn.
McChrystal turns sharply in his chair.
"Hey, Charlie," he asks, "does this come with the position?"
McChrystal gives him the middle finger.
The general stands and looks around the suite that his traveling staff of 10 has converted into a full-scale operations center. The tables are crowded with silver Panasonic Toughbooks, and blue cables crisscross the hotel's thick carpet, hooked up to satellite dishes to provide encrypted phone and e-mail communications. Dressed in off-the-rack civilian casual . blue tie, button-down shirt, dress slacks . McChrystal is way out of his comfort zone. Paris, as one of his advisers says, is the "most anti-McChrystal city you can imagine." The general hates fancy restaurants, rejecting any place with candles on the tables as too "Gucci." He prefers Bud Light Lime (his favorite beer) to Bordeaux, Talladega Nights (his favorite movie) to Jean-Luc Godard. Besides, the public eye has never been a place where McChrystal felt comfortable: Before President Obama put him in charge of the war in Afghanistan, he spent five years running the Pentagon's most secretive black ops.
"What's the update on the Kandahar bombing?" McChrystal asks Flynn. The city has been rocked by two massive car bombs in the past day alone, calling into question the general's assurances that he can wrest it from the Taliban.
"We have two KIAs, but that hasn't been confirmed," Flynn says.
McChrystal takes a final look around the suite. At 55, he is gaunt and lean, not unlike an older version of Christian Bale in Rescue Dawn. His slate-blue eyes have the unsettling ability to drill down when they lock on you. If you've fucked up or disappointed him, they can destroy your soul without the need for him to raise his voice.
"I'd rather have my ass kicked by a roomful of people than go out to this dinner," McChrystal says.
He pauses a beat.
"Unfortunately," he adds, "no one in this room could do it."
With that, he's out the door.
"Who's he going to dinner with?" I ask one of his aides.
"Some French minister," the aide tells me. "It's fucking gay."
The next morning, McChrystal and his team gather to prepare for a speech he is giving at the École Militaire, a French military academy. The general prides himself on being sharper and ballsier than anyone else, but his brashness comes with a price: Although McChrystal has been in charge of the war for only a year, in that short time he has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict. Last fall, during the question-and-answer session following a speech he gave in London, McChrystal dismissed the counterterrorism strategy being advocated by Vice President Joe Biden as "shortsighted," saying it would lead to a state of "Chaos-istan." The remarks earned him a smackdown from the president himself, who summoned the general to a terse private meeting aboard Air Force One. The message to McChrystal seemed clear: Shut the fuck up, and keep a lower profile
Now, flipping through printout cards of his speech in Paris, McChrystal wonders aloud what Biden question he might get today, and how he should respond. "I never know what's going to pop out until I'm up there, that's the problem," he says. Then, unable to help themselves, he and his staff imagine the general dismissing the vice president with a good one-liner.
"Are you asking about Vice President Biden?" McChrystal says with a laugh. "Who's that?"
"Biden?" suggests a top adviser. "Did you say: Bite Me?"
When Barack Obama entered the Oval Office, he immediately set out to deliver on his most important campaign promise on foreign policy: to refocus the war in Afghanistan on what led us to invade in the first place. "I want the American people to understand," he announced in March 2009. "We have a clear and focused goal: to disrupt, dismantle and defeat Al Qaeda in Pakistan and Afghanistan." He ordered another 21,000 troops to Kabul, the largest increase since the war began in 2001. Taking the advice of both the Pentagon and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, he also fired Gen. David McKiernan . then the U.S. and NATO commander in Afghanistan . and replaced him with a man he didn't know and had met only briefly: Gen. Stanley McChrystal. It was the first time a top general had been relieved from duty during wartime in more than 50 years, since Harry Truman fired Gen. Douglas MacArthur at the height of the Korean War.
Even though he had voted for Obama, McChrystal and his new commander in chief failed from the outset to connect. The general first encountered Obama a week after he took office, when the president met with a dozen senior military officials in a room at the Pentagon known as the Tank. According to sources familiar with the meeting, McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the roomful of military brass. Their first one-on-one meeting took place in the Oval Office four months later, after McChrystal got the Afghanistan job, and it didn't go much better. "It was a 10-minute photo op," says an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his fucking war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss was pretty disappointed."
From the start, McChrystal was determined to place his personal stamp on Afghanistan, to use it as a laboratory for a controversial military strategy known as counterinsurgency. COIN, as the theory is known, is the new gospel of the Pentagon brass, a doctrine that attempts to square the military's preference for high-tech violence with the demands of fighting protracted wars in failed states. COIN calls for sending huge numbers of ground troops to not only destroy the enemy, but to live among the civilian population and slowly rebuild, or build from scratch, another nation's government . a process that even its staunchest advocates admit requires years, if not decades, to achieve. The theory essentially rebrands the military, expanding its authority (and its funding) to encompass the diplomatic and political sides of warfare: Think the Green Berets as an armed Peace Corps. In 2006, after Gen. David Petraeus beta-tested the theory during his "surge" in Iraq, it quickly gained a hardcore following of think-tankers, journalists, military officers and civilian officials. Nicknamed "COINdinistas" for their cultish zeal, this influential cadre believed the doctrine would be the perfect solution for Afghanistan. All they needed was a general with enough charisma and political savvy to implement it.
As McChrystal leaned on Obama to ramp up the war, he did it with the same fearlessness he used to track down terrorists in Iraq: Figure out how your enemy operates, be faster and more ruthless than everybody else, then take the fuckers out. After arriving in Afghanistan last June, the general conducted his own policy review, ordered up by Defense Secretary Robert Gates. The now-infamous report was leaked to the press, and its conclusion was dire: If we didn't send another 40,000 troops . swelling the number of U.S. forces in Afghanistan by nearly half . we were in danger of "mission failure." The White House was furious. McChrystal, they felt, was trying to bully Obama, opening him up to charges of being weak on national security unless he did what the general wanted. It was Obama versus the Pentagon, and the Pentagon was determined to kick the president's ass.
Official White House photo by Pete Souza
Last fall, with his top general calling for more troops, Obama launched a three-month review to re-evaluate the strategy in Afghanistan. "I found that time painful," McChrystal tells me in one of several lengthy interviews. "I was selling an unsellable position." For the general, it was a crash course in Beltway politics . a battle that pitted him against experienced Washington insiders like Vice President Biden, who argued that a prolonged counterinsurgency campaign in Afghanistan would plunge America into a military quagmire without weakening international terrorist networks. "The entire COIN strategy is a fraud perpetuated on the American people," says Douglas Macgregor, a retired colonel and leading critic of counterinsurgency who attended West Point with McChrystal. "The idea that we are going to spend a trillion dollars to reshape the culture of the Islamic world is utter nonsense.
In the end, however, McChrystal got almost exactly what he wanted. On December 1st, in a speech at West Point, the president laid out all the reasons why fighting the war in Afghanistan is a bad idea: It's expensive; we're in an economic crisis; a decade-long commitment would sap American power; Al Qaeda has shifted its base of operations to Pakistan. Then, without ever using the words "victory" or "win," Obama announced that he would send an additional 30,000 troops to Afghanistan, almost as many as McChrystal had requested. The president had thrown his weight, however hesitantly, behind the counterinsurgency crowd.
Today, as McChrystal gears up for an offensive in southern Afghanistan, the prospects for any kind of success look bleak. In June, the death toll for U.S. troops passed 1,000, and the number of IEDs has doubled. Spending hundreds of billions of dollars on the fifth-poorest country on earth has failed to win over the civilian population, whose attitude toward U.S. troops ranges from intensely wary to openly hostile. The biggest military operation of the year . a ferocious offensive that began in February to retake the southern town of Marja . continues to drag on, prompting McChrystal himself to refer to it as a "bleeding ulcer." In June, Afghanistan officially outpaced Vietnam as the longest war in American history . and Obama has quietly begun to back away from the deadline he set for withdrawing U.S. troops in July of next year. The president finds himself stuck in something even more insane than a quagmire: a quagmire he knowingly walked into, even though it's precisely the kind of gigantic, mind-numbing, multigenerational nation-building project he explicitly said he didn't want.
Even those who support McChrystal and his strategy of counterinsurgency know that whatever the general manages to accomplish in Afghanistan, it's going to look more like Vietnam than Desert Storm. "It's not going to look like a win, smell like a win or taste like a win," says Maj. Gen. Bill Mayville, who serves as chief of operations for McChrystal. "This is going to end in an argument."
The night after his speech in Paris, McChrystal and his staff head to Kitty O'Shea's, an Irish pub catering to tourists, around the corner from the hotel. His wife, Annie, has joined him for a rare visit: Since the Iraq War began in 2003, she has seen her husband less than 30 days a year. Though it is his and Annie's 33rd wedding anniversary, McChrystal has invited his inner circle along for dinner and drinks at the "least Gucci" place his staff could find. His wife isn't surprised. "He once took me to a Jack in the Box when I was dressed in formalwear," she says with a laugh.
The general's staff is a handpicked collection of killers, spies, geniuses, patriots, political operators and outright maniacs. There's a former head of British Special Forces, two Navy Seals, an Afghan Special Forces commando, a lawyer, two fighter pilots and at least two dozen combat veterans and counterinsurgency experts. They jokingly refer to themselves as Team America, taking the name from the South Park-esque sendup of military cluelessness, and they pride themselves on their can-do attitude and their disdain for authority. After arriving in Kabul last summer, Team America set about changing the culture of the International Security Assistance Force, as the NATO-led mission is known. (U.S. soldiers had taken to deriding ISAF as short for "I Suck at Fighting" or "In Sandals and Flip-Flops.") McChrystal banned alcohol on base, kicked out Burger King and other symbols of American excess, expanded the morning briefing to include thousands of officers and refashioned the command center into a Situational Awareness Room, a free-flowing information hub modeled after Mayor Mike Bloomberg's offices in New York. He also set a manic pace for his staff, becoming legendary for sleeping four hours a night, running seven miles each morning, and eating one meal a day. (In the month I spend around the general, I witness him eating only once.) It's a kind of superhuman narrative that has built up around him, a staple in almost every media profile, as if the ability to go without sleep and food translates into the possibility of a man single-handedly winning the war.
By midnight at Kitty O'Shea's, much of Team America is completely shitfaced. Two officers do an Irish jig mixed with steps from a traditional Afghan wedding dance, while McChrystal's top advisers lock arms and sing a slurred song of their own invention. "Afghanistan!" they bellow. "Afghanistan!" They call it their Afghanistan song.
McChrystal steps away from the circle, observing his team. "All these men," he tells me. "I'd die for them. And they'd die for me."
The assembled men may look and sound like a bunch of combat veterans letting off steam, but in fact this tight-knit group represents the most powerful force shaping U.S. policy in Afghanistan. While McChrystal and his men are in indisputable command of all military aspects of the war, there is no equivalent position on the diplomatic or political side. Instead, an assortment of administration players compete over the Afghan portfolio: U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, Special Representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke, National Security Advisor Jim Jones and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, not to mention 40 or so other coalition ambassadors and a host of talking heads who try to insert themselves into the mess, from John Kerry to John McCain. This diplomatic incoherence has effectively allowed McChrystal's team to call the shots and hampered efforts to build a stable and credible government in Afghanistan. "It jeopardizes the mission," says Stephen Biddle, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations who supports McChrystal. "The military cannot by itself create governance reform."
Part of the problem is structural: The Defense Department budget exceeds $600 billion a year, while the State Department receives only $50 billion. But part of the problem is personal: In private, Team McChrystal likes to talk shit about many of Obama's top people on the diplomatic side. One aide calls Jim Jones, a retired four-star general and veteran of the Cold War, a "clown" who remains "stuck in 1985." Politicians like McCain and Kerry, says another aide, "turn up, have a meeting with Karzai, criticize him at the airport press conference, then get back for the Sunday talk shows. Frankly, it's not very helpful." Only Hillary Clinton receives good reviews from McChrystal's inner circle. "Hillary had Stan's back during the strategic review," says an adviser. "She said, 'If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.'."
McChrystal reserves special skepticism for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating the Taliban. "The Boss says he's like a wounded animal," says a member of the general's team. "Holbrooke keeps hearing rumors that he's going to get fired, so that makes him dangerous. He's a brilliant guy, but he just comes in, pulls on a lever, whatever he can grasp onto. But this is COIN, and you can't just have someone yanking on shit."
At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry. "Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke," he groans. "I don't even want to open it." He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
"Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg," an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail.
By far the most crucial . and strained . relationship is between McChrystal and Eikenberry, the U.S. ambassador. According to those close to the two men, Eikenberry . a retired three-star general who served in Afghanistan in 2002 and 2005 . can't stand that his former subordinate is now calling the shots. He's also furious that McChrystal, backed by NATO's allies, refused to put Eikenberry in the pivotal role of viceroy in Afghanistan, which would have made him the diplomatic equivalent of the general. The job instead went to British Ambassador Mark Sedwill . a move that effectively increased McChrystal's influence over diplomacy by shutting out a powerful rival. "In reality, that position needs to be filled by an American for it to have weight," says a U.S. official familiar with the negotiations.
The relationship was further strained in January, when a classified cable that Eikenberry wrote was leaked to The New York Times. The cable was as scathing as it was prescient. The ambassador offered a brutal critique of McChrystal's strategy, dismissed President Hamid Karzai as "not an adequate strategic partner," and cast doubt on whether the counterinsurgency plan would be "sufficient" to deal with Al Qaeda. "We will become more deeply engaged here with no way to extricate ourselves," Eikenberry warned, "short of allowing the country to descend again into lawlessness and chaos."
McChrystal and his team were blindsided by the cable. "I like Karl, I've known him for years, but they'd never said anything like that to us before," says McChrystal, who adds that he felt "betrayed" by the leak. "Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, 'I told you so.'."
The most striking example of McChrystal's usurpation of diplomatic policy is his handling of Karzai. It is McChrystal, not diplomats like Eikenberry or Holbrooke, who enjoys the best relationship with the man America is relying on to lead Afghanistan. The doctrine of counterinsurgency requires a credible government, and since Karzai is not considered credible by his own people, McChrystal has worked hard to make him so. Over the past few months, he has accompanied the president on more than 10 trips around the country, standing beside him at political meetings, or shuras, in Kandahar. In February, the day before the doomed offensive in Marja, McChrystal even drove over to the president's palace to get him to sign off on what would be the largest military operation of the year. Karzai's staff, however, insisted that the president was sleeping off a cold and could not be disturbed. After several hours of haggling, McChrystal finally enlisted the aid of Afghanistan's defense minister, who persuaded Karzai's people to wake the president from his nap.
This is one of the central flaws with McChrystal's counterinsurgency strategy: The need to build a credible government puts us at the mercy of whatever tin-pot leader we've backed . a danger that Eikenberry explicitly warned about in his cable. Even Team McChrystal privately acknowledges that Karzai is a less-than-ideal partner. "He's been locked up in his palace the past year," laments one of the general's top advisers. At times, Karzai himself has actively undermined McChrystal's desire to put him in charge. During a recent visit to Walter Reed Army Medical Center, Karzai met three U.S. soldiers who had been wounded in Uruzgan province. "General," he called out to McChrystal, "I didn't even know we were fighting in Uruzgan!"
Growing up as a military brat, McChrystal exhibited the mixture of brilliance and cockiness that would follow him throughout his career. His father fought in Korea and Vietnam, retiring as a two-star general, and his four brothers all joined the armed services. Moving around to different bases, McChrystal took solace in baseball, a sport in which he made no pretense of hiding his superiority: In Little League, he would call out strikes to the crowd before whipping a fastball down the middle.
McChrystal entered West Point in 1972, when the U.S. military was close to its all-time low in popularity. His class was the last to graduate before the academy started to admit women. The "Prison on the Hudson," as it was known then, was a potent mix of testosterone, hooliganism and reactionary patriotism. Cadets repeatedly trashed the mess hall in food fights, and birthdays were celebrated with a tradition called "rat fucking," which often left the birthday boy outside in the snow or mud, covered in shaving cream. "It was pretty out of control," says Lt. Gen. David Barno, a classmate who went on to serve as the top commander in Afghanistan from 2003 to 2005. The class, filled with what Barno calls "huge talent" and "wild-eyed teenagers with a strong sense of idealism," also produced Gen. Ray Odierno, the current commander of U.S. forces in Iraq.
The son of a general, McChrystal was also a ringleader of the campus dissidents . a dual role that taught him how to thrive in a rigid, top-down environment while thumbing his nose at authority every chance he got. He accumulated more than 100 hours of demerits for drinking, partying and insubordination . a record that his classmates boasted made him a "century man." One classmate, who asked not to be named, recalls finding McChrystal passed out in the shower after downing a case of beer he had hidden under the sink. The troublemaking almost got him kicked out, and he spent hours subjected to forced marches in the Area, a paved courtyard where unruly cadets were disciplined. "I'd come visit, and I'd end up spending most of my time in the library, while Stan was in the Area," recalls Annie, who began dating McChrystal in 1973.
McChrystal wound up ranking 298 out of a class of 855, a serious underachievement for a man widely regarded as brilliant. His most compelling work was extracurricular: As managing editor of The Pointer, the West Point literary magazine, McChrystal wrote seven short stories that eerily foreshadow many of the issues he would confront in his career. In one tale, a fictional officer complains about the difficulty of training foreign troops to fight; in another, a 19-year-old soldier kills a boy he mistakes for a terrorist. In "Brinkman's Note," a piece of suspense fiction, the unnamed narrator appears to be trying to stop a plot to assassinate the president. It turns out, however, that the narrator himself is the assassin, and he's able to infiltrate the White House: "The President strode in smiling. From the right coat pocket of the raincoat I carried, I slowly drew forth my 32-caliber pistol. In Brinkman's failure, I had succeeded."
After graduation, 2nd Lt. Stanley McChrystal entered an Army that was all but broken in the wake of Vietnam. "We really felt we were a peacetime generation," he recalls. "There was the Gulf War, but even that didn't feel like that big of a deal." So McChrystal spent his career where the action was: He enrolled in Special Forces school and became a regimental commander of the 3rd Ranger Battalion in 1986. It was a dangerous position, even in peacetime . nearly two dozen Rangers were killed in training accidents during the Eighties. It was also an unorthodox career path: Most soldiers who want to climb the ranks to general don't go into the Rangers. Displaying a penchant for transforming systems he considers outdated, McChrystal set out to revolutionize the training regime for the Rangers. He introduced mixed martial arts, required every soldier to qualify with night-vision goggles on the rifle range and forced troops to build up their endurance with weekly marches involving heavy backpacks.
In the late 1990s, McChrystal shrewdly improved his inside game, spending a year at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government and then at the Council on Foreign Relations, where he co-authored a treatise on the merits and drawbacks of humanitarian interventionism. But as he moved up through the ranks, McChrystal relied on the skills he had learned as a troublemaking kid at West Point: knowing precisely how far he could go in a rigid military hierarchy without getting tossed out. Being a highly intelligent badass, he discovered, could take you far . especially in the political chaos that followed September 11th. "He was very focused," says Annie. "Even as a young officer he seemed to know what he wanted to do. I don't think his personality has changed in all these years."
By some accounts, McChrystal's career should have been over at least two times by now. As Pentagon spokesman during the invasion of Iraq, the general seemed more like a White House mouthpiece than an up-and-coming commander with a reputation for speaking his mind. When Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld made his infamous "stuff happens" remark during the looting of Baghdad, McChrystal backed him up. A few days later, he echoed the president's Mission Accomplished gaffe by insisting that major combat operations in Iraq were over. But it was during his next stint . overseeing the military's most elite units, including the Rangers, Navy Seals and Delta Force . that McChrystal took part in a cover-up that would have destroyed the career of a lesser man.
After Cpl. Pat Tillman, the former-NFL-star-turned-Ranger, was accidentally killed by his own troops in Afghanistan in April 2004, McChrystal took an active role in creating the impression that Tillman had died at the hands of Taliban fighters. He signed off on a falsified recommendation for a Silver Star that suggested Tillman had been killed by enemy fire. (McChrystal would later claim he didn't read the recommendation closely enough . a strange excuse for a commander known for his laserlike attention to minute details.) A week later, McChrystal sent a memo up the chain of command, specifically warning that President Bush should avoid mentioning the cause of Tillman's death. "If the circumstances of Corporal Tillman's death become public," he wrote, it could cause "public embarrassment" for the president.
(Tilman was going public with an interview with Noam Chomsky... he was mrudered with three shots to the head!)
"The false narrative, which McChrystal clearly helped construct, diminished Pat's true actions," wrote Tillman's mother, Mary, in her book Boots on the Ground by Dusk. McChrystal got away with it, she added, because he was the "golden boy" of Rumsfeld and Bush, who loved his willingness to get things done, even if it included bending the rules or skipping the chain of command. Nine days after Tillman's death, McChrystal was promoted to major general.
Two years later, in 2006, McChrystal was tainted by a scandal involving detainee abuse and torture at Camp Nama in Iraq. According to a report by Human Rights Watch, prisoners at the camp were subjected to a now-familiar litany of abuse: stress positions, being dragged naked through the mud. McChrystal was not disciplined in the scandal, even though an interrogator at the camp reported seeing him inspect the prison multiple times. But the experience was so unsettling to McChrystal that he tried to prevent detainee operations from being placed under his command in Afghanistan, viewing them as a "political swamp," according to a U.S. official. In May 2009, as McChrystal prepared for his confirmation hearings, his staff prepared him for hard questions about Camp Nama and the Tillman cover-up. But the scandals barely made a ripple in Congress, and McChrystal was soon on his way back to Kabul to run the war in Afghanistan.
The media, to a large extent, have also given McChrystal a pass on both controversies. Where Gen. Petraeus is kind of a dweeb, a teacher's pet with a Ranger's tab, McChrystal is a snake-eating rebel, a "Jedi" commander, as Newsweek called him. He didn't care when his teenage son came home with blue hair and a mohawk. He speaks his mind with a candor rare for a high-ranking official. He asks for opinions, and seems genuinely interested in the response. He gets briefings on his iPod and listens to books on tape. He carries a custom-made set of nunchucks in his convoy engraved with his name and four stars, and his itinerary often bears a fresh quote from Bruce Lee. ("There are no limits. There are only plateaus, and you must not stay there, you must go beyond them.") He went out on dozens of nighttime raids during his time in Iraq, unprecedented for a top commander, and turned up on missions unannounced, with almost no entourage. "The fucking lads love Stan McChrystal," says a British officer who serves in Kabul. "You'd be out in Somewhere, Iraq, and someone would take a knee beside you, and a corporal would be like 'Who the fuck is that?' And it's fucking Stan McChrystal."
It doesn't hurt that McChrystal was also extremely successful as head of the Joint Special Operations Command, the elite forces that carry out the government's darkest ops. During the Iraq surge, his team killed and captured thousands of insurgents, including Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, the leader of Al Qaeda in Iraq. "JSOC was a killing machine," says Maj. Gen. Mayville, his chief of operations. McChrystal was also open to new ways of killing. He systematically mapped out terrorist networks, targeting specific insurgents and hunting them down . often with the help of cyberfreaks traditionally shunned by the military. "The Boss would find the 24-year-old kid with a nose ring, with some fucking brilliant degree from MIT, sitting in the corner with 16 computer monitors humming," says a Special Forces commando who worked with McChrystal in Iraq and now serves on his staff in Kabul. "He'd say, 'Hey . you fucking muscleheads couldn't find lunch without help. You got to work together with these guys.'."
Even in his new role as America's leading evangelist for counterinsurgency, McChrystal retains the deep-seated instincts of a terrorist hunter. To put pressure on the Taliban, he has upped the number of Special Forces units in Afghanistan from four to 19. "You better be out there hitting four or five targets tonight," McChrystal will tell a Navy Seal he sees in the hallway at headquarters. Then he'll add, "I'm going to have to scold you in the morning for it, though." In fact, the general frequently finds himself apologizing for the disastrous consequences of counterinsurgency. In the first four months of this year, NATO forces killed some 90 civilians, up 76 percent from the same period in 2009 . a record that has created tremendous resentment among the very population that COIN theory is intent on winning over. In February, a Special Forces night raid ended in the deaths of two pregnant Afghan women and allegations of a cover-up, and in April, protests erupted in Kandahar after U.S. forces accidentally shot up a bus, killing five Afghans. "We've shot an amazing number of people," McChrystal recently conceded.
Despite the tragedies and miscues, McChrystal has issued some of the strictest directives to avoid civilian casualties that the U.S. military has ever encountered in a war zone. It's "insurgent math," as he calls it . for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies. He has ordered convoys to curtail their reckless driving, put restrictions on the use of air power and severely limited night raids. He regularly apologizes to Hamid Karzai when civilians are killed, and berates commanders responsible for civilian deaths. "For a while," says one U.S. official, "the most dangerous place to be in Afghanistan was in front of McChrystal after a 'civ cas' incident." The ISAF command has even discussed ways to make not killing into something you can win an award for: There's talk of creating a new medal for "courageous restraint," a buzzword that's unlikely to gain much traction in the gung-ho culture of the U.S. military.
But however strategic they may be, McChrystal's new marching orders have caused an intense backlash among his own troops. Being told to hold their fire, soldiers complain, puts them in greater danger. "Bottom line?" says a former Special Forces operator who has spent years in Iraq and Afghanistan. "I would love to kick McChrystal in the nuts. His rules of engagement put soldiers' lives in even greater danger. Every real soldier will tell you the same thing."
In March, McChrystal traveled to Combat Outpost JFM . a small encampment on the outskirts of Kandahar . to confront such accusations from the troops directly. It was a typically bold move by the general. Only two days earlier, he had received an e-mail from Israel Arroyo, a 25-year-old staff sergeant who asked McChrystal to go on a mission with his unit. "I am writing because it was said you don't care about the troops and have made it harder to defend ourselves," Arroyo wrote.
Within hours, McChrystal responded personally: "I'm saddened by the accusation that I don't care about soldiers, as it is something I suspect any soldier takes both personally and professionally . at least I do. But I know perceptions depend upon your perspective at the time, and I respect that every soldier's view is his own." Then he showed up at Arroyo's outpost and went on a foot patrol with the troops . not some bullshit photo-op stroll through a market, but a real live operation in a dangerous war zone.
Six weeks later, just before McChrystal returned from Paris, the general received another e-mail from Arroyo. A 23-year-old corporal named Michael Ingram . one of the soldiers McChrystal had gone on patrol with . had been killed by an IED a day earlier. It was the third man the 25-member platoon had lost in a year, and Arroyo was writing to see if the general would attend Ingram's memorial service. "He started to look up to you," Arroyo wrote. McChrystal said he would try to make it down to pay his respects as soon as possible.
The night before the general is scheduled to visit Sgt. Arroyo's platoon for the memorial, I arrive at Combat Outpost JFM to speak with the soldiers he had gone on patrol with. JFM is a small encampment, ringed by high blast walls and guard towers. Almost all of the soldiers here have been on repeated combat tours in both Iraq and Afghanistan, and have seen some of the worst fighting of both wars. But they are especially angered by Ingram's death. His commanders had repeatedly requested permission to tear down the house where Ingram was killed, noting that it was often used as a combat position by the Taliban. But due to McChrystal's new restrictions to avoid upsetting civilians, the request had been denied. "These were abandoned houses," fumes Staff Sgt. Kennith Hicks. "Nobody was coming back to live in them."
One soldier shows me the list of new regulations the platoon was given. "Patrol only in areas that you are reasonably certain that you will not have to defend yourselves with lethal force," the laminated card reads. For a soldier who has traveled halfway around the world to fight, that's like telling a cop he should only patrol in areas where he knows he won't have to make arrests. "Does that make any fucking sense?" asks Pfc. Jared Pautsch. "We should just drop a fucking bomb on this place. You sit and ask yourself: What are we doing here?"
The rules handed out here are not what McChrystal intended . they've been distorted as they passed through the chain of command . but knowing that does nothing to lessen the anger of troops on the ground. "Fuck, when I came over here and heard that McChrystal was in charge, I thought we would get our fucking gun on," says Hicks, who has served three tours of combat. "I get COIN. I get all that. McChrystal comes here, explains it, it makes sense. But then he goes away on his bird, and by the time his directives get passed down to us through Big Army, they're all fucked up . either because somebody is trying to cover their ass, or because they just don't understand it themselves. But we're fucking losing this thing."
McChrystal and his team show up the next day. Underneath a tent, the general has a 45-minute discussion with some two dozen soldiers. The atmosphere is tense. "I ask you what's going on in your world, and I think it's important for you all to understand the big picture as well," McChrystal begins. "How's the company doing? You guys feeling sorry for yourselves? Anybody? Anybody feel like you're losing?" McChrystal says.
"Sir, some of the guys here, sir, think we're losing, sir," says Hicks.
McChrystal nods. "Strength is leading when you just don't want to lead," he tells the men. "You're leading by example. That's what we do. Particularly when it's really, really hard, and it hurts inside." Then he spends 20 minutes talking about counterinsurgency, diagramming his concepts and principles on a whiteboard. He makes COIN seem like common sense, but he's careful not to bullshit the men. "We are knee-deep in the decisive year," he tells them. The Taliban, he insists, no longer has the initiative . "but I don't think we do, either." It's similar to the talk he gave in Paris, but it's not winning any hearts and minds among the soldiers. "This is the philosophical part that works with think tanks," McChrystal tries to joke. "But it doesn't get the same reception from infantry companies."
During the question-and-answer period, the frustration boils over. The soldiers complain about not being allowed to use lethal force, about watching insurgents they detain be freed for lack of evidence. They want to be able to fight . like they did in Iraq, like they had in Afghanistan before McChrystal. "We aren't putting fear into the Taliban," one soldier says.
"Winning hearts and minds in COIN is a coldblooded thing," McChrystal says, citing an oft-repeated maxim that you can't kill your way out of Afghanistan. "The Russians killed 1 million Afghans, and that didn't work."
"I'm not saying go out and kill everybody, sir," the soldier persists. "You say we've stopped the momentum of the insurgency. I don't believe that's true in this area. The more we pull back, the more we restrain ourselves, the stronger it's getting."
"I agree with you," McChrystal says. "In this area, we've not made progress, probably. You have to show strength here, you have to use fire. What I'm telling you is, fire costs you. What do you want to do? You want to wipe the population out here and resettle it?"
A soldier complains that under the rules, any insurgent who doesn't have a weapon is immediately assumed to be a civilian. "That's the way this game is," McChrystal says. "It's complex. I can't just decide: It's shirts and skins, and we'll kill all the shirts."
As the discussion ends, McChrystal seems to sense that he hasn't succeeded at easing the men's anger. He makes one last-ditch effort to reach them, acknowledging the death of Cpl. Ingram. "There's no way I can make that easier," he tells them. "No way I can pretend it won't hurt. No way I can tell you not to feel that. . . . I will tell you, you're doing a great job. Don't let the frustration get to you." The session ends with no clapping, and no real resolution. McChrystal may have sold President Obama on counterinsurgency, but many of his own men aren't buying it.
When it comes to Afghanistan, history is not on McChrystal's side. The only foreign invader to have any success here was Genghis Khan . and he wasn't hampered by things like human rights, economic development and press scrutiny. The COIN doctrine, bizarrely, draws inspiration from some of the biggest Western military embarrassments in recent memory: France's nasty war in Algeria (lost in 1962) and the American misadventure in Vietnam (lost in 1975). McChrystal, like other advocates of COIN, readily acknowledges that counterinsurgency campaigns are inherently messy, expensive and easy to lose. "Even Afghans are confused by Afghanistan," he says. But even if he somehow manages to succeed, after years of bloody fighting with Afghan kids who pose no threat to the U.S. homeland, the war will do little to shut down Al Qaeda, which has shifted its operations to Pakistan. Dispatching 150,000 troops to build new schools, roads, mosques and water-treatment facilities around Kandahar is like trying to stop the drug war in Mexico by occupying Arkansas and building Baptist churches in Little Rock. "It's all very cynical, politically," says Marc Sageman, a former CIA case officer who has extensive experience in the region. "Afghanistan is not in our vital interest . there's nothing for us there."
In mid-May, two weeks after visiting the troops in Kandahar, McChrystal travels to the White House for a high-level visit by Hamid Karzai. It is a triumphant moment for the general, one that demonstrates he is very much in command . both in Kabul and in Washington. In the East Room, which is packed with journalists and dignitaries, President Obama sings the praises of Karzai. The two leaders talk about how great their relationship is, about the pain they feel over civilian casualties. They mention the word "progress" 16 times in under an hour. But there is no mention of victory. Still, the session represents the most forceful commitment that Obama has made to McChrystal's strategy in months. "There is no denying the progress that the Afghan people have made in recent years . in education, in health care and economic development," the president says. "As I saw in the lights across Kabul when I landed . lights that would not have been visible just a few years earlier."
It is a disconcerting observation for Obama to make. During the worst years in Iraq, when the Bush administration had no real progress to point to, officials used to offer up the exact same evidence of success. "It was one of our first impressions," one GOP official said in 2006, after landing in Baghdad at the height of the sectarian violence. "So many lights shining brightly." So it is to the language of the Iraq War that the Obama administration has turned . talk of progress, of city lights, of metrics like health care and education. Rhetoric that just a few years ago they would have mocked. "They are trying to manipulate perceptions because there is no definition of victory . because victory is not even defined or recognizable," says Celeste Ward, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation who served as a political adviser to U.S. commanders in Iraq in 2006. "That's the game we're in right now. What we need, for strategic purposes, is to create the perception that we didn't get run off. The facts on the ground are not great, and are not going to become great in the near future."
But facts on the ground, as history has proven, offer little deterrent to a military determined to stay the course. Even those closest to McChrystal know that the rising anti-war sentiment at home doesn't begin to reflect how deeply fucked up things are in Afghanistan. "If Americans pulled back and started paying attention to this war, it would become even less popular," a senior adviser to McChrystal says. Such realism, however, doesn't prevent advocates of counterinsurgency from dreaming big: Instead of beginning to withdraw troops next year, as Obama promised, the military hopes to ramp up its counterinsurgency campaign even further. "There's a possibility we could ask for another surge of U.S. forces next summer if we see success here," a senior military official in Kabul tells me.
Back in Afghanistan, less than a month after the White House meeting with Karzai and all the talk of "progress," McChrystal is hit by the biggest blow to his vision of counterinsurgency. Since last year, the Pentagon had been planning to launch a major military operation this summer in Kandahar, the country's second-largest city and the Taliban's original home base. It was supposed to be a decisive turning point in the war . the primary reason for the troop surge that McChrystal wrested from Obama late last year. But on June 10th, acknowledging that the military still needs to lay more groundwork, the general announced that he is postponing the offensive until the fall. Rather than one big battle, like Fallujah or Ramadi, U.S. troops will implement what McChrystal calls a "rising tide of security." The Afghan police and army will enter Kandahar to attempt to seize control of neighborhoods, while the U.S. pours $90 million of aid into the city to win over the civilian population.
Even proponents of counterinsurgency are hard-pressed to explain the new plan. "This isn't a classic operation," says a U.S. military official. "It's not going to be Black Hawk Down. There aren't going to be doors kicked in." Other U.S. officials insist that doors are going to be kicked in, but that it's going to be a kinder, gentler offensive than the disaster in Marja. "The Taliban have a jackboot on the city," says a military official. "We have to remove them, but we have to do it in a way that doesn't alienate the population." When Vice President Biden was briefed on the new plan in the Oval Office, insiders say he was shocked to see how much it mirrored the more gradual plan of counterterrorism that he advocated last fall. "This looks like CT-plus!" he said, according to U.S. officials familiar with the meeting.
Whatever the nature of the new plan, the delay underscores the fundamental flaws of counterinsurgency. After nine years of war, the Taliban simply remains too strongly entrenched for the U.S. military to openly attack. The very people that COIN seeks to win over . the Afghan people . do not want us there. Our supposed ally, President Karzai, used his influence to delay the offensive, and the massive influx of aid championed by McChrystal is likely only to make things worse. "Throwing money at the problem exacerbates the problem," says Andrew Wilder, an expert at Tufts University who has studied the effect of aid in southern Afghanistan. "A tsunami of cash fuels corruption, delegitimizes the government and creates an environment where we're picking winners and losers" . a process that fuels resentment and hostility among the civilian population. So far, counterinsurgency has succeeded only in creating a never-ending demand for the primary product supplied by the military: perpetual war. There is a reason that President Obama studiously avoids using the word "victory" when he talks about Afghanistan. Winning, it would seem, is not really possible. Not even with Stanley McChrystal in charge.
== CNN ========
(CNN) -- The fate of the top U.S. military commander in Afghanistan hinges on his meeting Wednesday with President Barack Obama, who was "angry" after reading the general's remarks about colleagues in a magazine profile to be published Friday.
Gen. Stanley McChrystal will likely resign, a Pentagon source who has ongoing contacts with the general said.
The "magnitude and graveness" of McChrystal's mistake in conducting the interview for the article were "profound," White House press secretary Robert Gibbs said. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said McChrystal had "made a significant mistake and exercised poor judgment."
McChrystal apologized Tuesday for the profile, in which he and his staff appear to mock top civilian officials, including the vice president. Two defense officials said the general fired a press aide over the article, set to appear in Friday's edition of Rolling Stone.
"I extend my sincerest apology for this profile. It was a mistake reflecting poor judgment and should never have happened," McChrystal said in a Pentagon statement. "Throughout my career, I have lived by the principles of personal honor and professional integrity. What is reflected in this article falls far short of that standard.
McChrystal has been recalled to Washington to explain his actions to the president. He is expected to meet with Obama in the Oval Office on Wednesday, Gibbs said. Gibbs refused to speculate about McChrystal's fate, but told reporters "all options are on the table."
Obama, questioned about McChrystal before a Cabinet meeting Tuesday afternoon, said he had not made a decision.
"I think it's clear that the article in which he and his team appeared showed poor judgment, but I also want to make sure that I talk to him directly before I make that final decision," he said.
McChrystal is prepared to resign if the president has lost confidence in him, a national security official told CNN. Most of the Pentagon brass, the ofrficial said, hopes he will be upbraided by the commander-in-chief but sent back to continue the mission.
The White House will have more to say after Wednesday's meeting, Gibbs said. He noted, however, that McChrystal did not take part in a teleconference Obama had with Afghan President Hamid Karzai and other top officials on Tuesday.
Several elected officials have strongly criticized McChrystal but deferred to the president on the politically sensitive question of whether the general should keep his position. A couple of key congressmen, however, have openly called for McChrystal's removal.
In the profile, writer Michael Hastings writes that McChrystal and his staff had imagined ways of dismissing Vice President Joe Biden with a one-liner as they prepared for a question-and-answer session in Paris, France, in April. The general had grown tired of questions about Biden since earlier dismissing a counterterrorism strategy the vice president had offered.
"'Are you asking about Vice President Biden,' McChrystal says with a laugh. 'Who's that?'"
"'Biden?' suggests a top adviser. 'Did you say: Bite Me?'"
McChrystal does not directly criticize Obama in the article, but Hastings writes that the general and Obama "failed to connect" from the outset. Sources familiar with the meeting said McChrystal thought Obama looked "uncomfortable and intimidated" by the room full of top military officials, according to the article.
Later, McChrystal's first one-on-one meeting with Obama "was a 10-minute photo op," Hastings writes, quoting an adviser to McChrystal. "Obama clearly didn't know anything about him, who he was. Here's the guy who's going to run his f---ing war, but he didn't seem very engaged. The Boss (McChrystal) was disappointed."
The article goes on to paint McChrystal as a man who "has managed to piss off almost everyone with a stake in the conflict," including U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry, special representative to Afghanistan Richard Holbrooke and national security adviser Jim Jones. Obama is not named as one of McChrystal's "team of rivals."
Of Eikenberry, who railed against McChrystal's strategy in Afghanistan in a cable leaked to The New York Times in January, the general is quoted as saying, "'Here's one that covers his flank for the history books. Now if we fail, they can say, "I told you so.'"
Hastings writes in the profile that McChrystal has a "special skepticism" for Holbrooke, the official in charge of reintegrating Taliban members into Afghan society and the administration's point man for Afghanistan and Pakistan.
"At one point on his trip to Paris, McChrystal checks his BlackBerry, according to the article. 'Oh, not another e-mail from Holbrooke,' he groans. 'I don't even want to open it.' He clicks on the message and reads the salutation out loud, then stuffs the BlackBerry back in his pocket, not bothering to conceal his annoyance.
"'Make sure you don't get any of that on your leg,' an aide jokes, referring to the e-mail."
Both Democrats and Republicans have been strongly critical of McChrystal in the wake of the story. House Appropriations Committee chairman David Obey, D-Wisconsin, called McChrystal the latest in a "long list of reckless, renegade generals who haven't seemed to understand that their role is to implement policy, not design it."
McChrystal is "contemptuous" of civilian authority and has demonstrated "a bull-headed refusal to take other people's judgments into consideration."
Sen. Byron Dorgan, D-North Dakota, became the first member of the Senate Democratic leadership to call for McChrystal to step down, telling CNN that the remarks were "unbelievably inappropriate and just can't be allowed to stand."
Senate Armed Services Committee chairman Carl Levin, D-Michigan, deferred to Obama on the question of a possible McChrystal resignation. He said the controversy was sending a message of "confusion" to troops in the field. I think it has "a negative effect" on the war effort, he said.
Senate Foreign Relations Committee chairman John Kerry, D-Massachusetts, urged a cooling off period before a final decision is rendered on the general. My "impression is that all of us would be best served by just backing off and staying cool and calm and not sort of succumbing to the normal Washington twitter about this for the next 24 hours."
Sens. John McCain of Arizona, Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, Joe Lieberman of Connecticut and Jim Webb of Virginia -- also key senators on defense and foreign policy issues -- were each strongly critical of McChrystal's remarks, but noted that the general's future is a decision for Obama to make.
Karzai weighed in from abroad, urging Obama to keep McChrystal as the U.S. commander in Afghanistan. The government in Kabul believes McChrystal is a man of strong integrity who has a strong understanding of the Afghan people and their culture, Karzai spokesman Waheed Omar said.
A U.S. military official said Tuesday that McChrystal has spoken to Biden, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Adm. Mike Mullen and other officials referenced in the story, including Holbrooke, Eikenberry and Jones.
An official at the U.S. Embassy in Kabul said Eikenberry and McChrystal "are both fully committed" to Obama's Afghan strategy and are working together to implement the plan. "We have seen the article and General McChrystal has already spoken to it," according to a statement from an embassy official, making reference to McChrystal's apology.
"I have enormous respect and admiration for President Obama and his national security team, and for the civilian leaders and troops fighting this war and I remain committed to ensuring its successful outcome," McChrystal said in the closing to his apology.
Rolling Stone executive editor Eric Bates, however, struck a less optimistic tone during an interview with CNN on Tuesday.
The comments made by McChrystal and other top military aides during the interview were "not off-the-cuff remarks," he said. They "knew what they were doing when they granted the access." The story shows "a deep division" and "war within the administration" over strategy in Afghanistan, he contended.
McChrystal and his staff "became aware" that the Rolling Stone article would be controversial before it was published, Hastings told CNN Tuesday. He said he "got word from (McChrystal's) staff ... that there was some concern" about possible fallout from the story.
Obama tapped McChrystal to head the U.S. military effort in Afghanistan in the spring of 2009 shortly after dismissing Gen. David McKiernan.
CNN's John King, Suzanne Malveaux, Barbara Starr, Dana Bash and Alan Silverleib contributed to this report.
======== HuffPo Huffington post ==========
The executive editor of Rolling Stone -- the magazine responsible for the bombshell profile of General Stanley McChrystal -- scoffed at the fact that the first official to be fired for the slew of controversial remarks was the public relations hand that set up the interview.
"The PR person is always the first to go," said Eric Bates, executive editor of "Rolling Stone, of the immediate firing of Duncan Boothby, a civilian press aide to McChrystal. "I don't know if that is really the issue. It is not like McChrystal and his team didn't know who is in the room and how much time was spent with them."
In an interview with the Huffington Post, Bates offered some illuminating details as to how the magazine -- known best for its music coverage and biting, cynical take on the political process -- scored one of the widely discussed profiles of the Obama years. The article's author, freelance reporter Michael Hastings had approached McChrystal's camp many months ago with the proposition of doing a profile for the magazine, said Bates.
He pitched it as a "broad piece," in which he would cover a wide scope of the general's military history, talk to those who knew him on a personal level, and spend time with him in Afghanistan. Much of the reporting took place in April, with Hastings scoring an unusual and profoundly lucky break: Volcanoes over Iceland required McChrystal to travel to Berlin by bus, during which he and his aides were drinking on the road trip "the whole way," according to Hastings.
The magazine, said Bates, knew it was sitting on something deeply newsworthy months before the article was published. "Like any reader you can't read this story and not know from the first sentence that the comments in there are really explosive," he said. "Even before that, Michael had been in touch with me and we had been in touch along the way and it became clear he was getting amazing access."
The magazine did not ask the White House for comment prior to the article being sent on an embargoed basis to reporters on Monday night. The president and his team, Bates said, would have to have heard word about the information either from McChrystal's camp or from reporters who were calling up administration officials for comment.
"I think many of us found out about the [contents] when we were reading the article last evening," White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs said on Tuesday. Story continues below
The editors did a thorough fact-check as evidenced by the lack of dispute over the veracity of the quotes or exchanges. "I haven't heard a word about that and would be shocked if I did," said Bates. They did not, as reported by Politico, show the general and his team the entire article before publication.
"That all stems from Politico misunderstanding my comments on Morning Joe this morning," said Bates. "We never show a story to a source before publication."
The Rolling Stone editor had some other choice words for Politico, beyond an irritation over its inaccurate take on the fact checking behind the piece. Bates chastised the publication for linking Hastings story to its own site, as a means of driving web traffic there and not to Rolling Stone. "They posted our story on their site, which was inappropriate," said Bates. "We contacted them immediately and they took it down."
As for the fallout of the piece, Bates pledged that the Rolling Stone would be posting follow up material some of which could include information that was left on the chopping block during Hasting's first piece.
Night. Utter darkness. Heavy rain. Visibility close to nil.
And suddenly -- a flash of lightning. For a fraction of a second, the landscape is lit up. For this split second, the terrain surrounding us can be seen. It is not the way it used to be.
Our government.s action against the Gaza aid flotilla was such a lightning flash.
Israelis normally live in darkness as far as seeing the world is concerned. But for that instant, the real landscape around us could be seen, and it looked frightening. Then the darkness settled down over us, Israel returned to its bubble, the world disappeared from view.
This split second was enough to reveal a dismal scene. On almost all fronts, the situation of the state of Israel has worsened since the last flash of lightning.
The flotilla and the attack on it did not create this landscape. It has been there since our present government was set up. But the deterioration did not start even then. It began a long time before.
The action of Ehud Barak & Co. only lit up the situation as it is now, and gave it yet another push in the wrong direction.
How does the new landscape look in the light of Barak.s barak? ("Barak" means lightning in Hebrew.)
The list is headed by a fact that nobody seems to have noticed until now: the death of the Holocaust.
In all the tumult this affair has caused throughout the world, the Holocaust was not even mentioned. True, in Israel there were some who called Recep Tayyip Erdogan "a new Hitler," and some Israel-haters talked about the "Nazi attack," but the Holocaust has practically disappeared.
For two generations, our foreign policy used the Holocaust as its main instrument. The bad conscience of the world determined its attitude towards Israel. The (justified) guilty feelings -- either for atrocities committed or for looking the other way -- caused Europe and America to treat Israel differently than any other nation -- from nuclear armaments to the settlements. All criticism of our governments. actions was branded automatically as anti-Semitism and silenced.
But time does its work. New tragedies have blunted the world.s senses. For a new generation, the Holocaust is a thing of the remote past, a chapter of history. The sense of guilt has disappeared in all countries, except Germany.
The Israeli public did not notice this, because in Israel itself the Shoah is alive and present. Many Israelis are children or grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and the Holocaust has been imprinted on their childhood. Moreover, a huge apparatus ensures that the Holocaust will not disappear from our memory, starting from kindergarten, through ceremonies and memorial days, to organized tours "there."
Therefore, the Israeli public is shocked to see that the Holocaust has lost its power as a political instrument. Our most valuable weapon has become blunt.
The central pillar of our policy is our alliance with the United States. To use a phrase dear to Benjamin Netanyahu (in another context): it.s "the rock of our existence."
For many years, this alliance has kept us safe from all trouble. We knew that we could always get from the U.S. all we needed: advanced arms to retain our superiority over all Arab armies combined, munitions in times of war, money for our economy, the veto on all UN Security Council resolutions against us, automatic support for all the actions of our successive governments. Every small and medium country in the world knew that in order to gain entrance to the palaces of Washington, the Israeli doorkeeper had to be bribed.
But during the last year, cracks have appeared in this pillar. Not the small scratches and chips of wear and tear, but cracks caused by shifts of the ground. The mutual aversion between Barack Obama and Benjamin Netanyahu is only one symptom of a much deeper problem.
The chief of the Mossad told the Knesset last week: "For the U.S., we have ceased to be an asset and become a burden."
This fact was put into incisive words by Gen. David Petraeus, when he said that the ongoing Israeli-Palestinian conflict is endangering the lives of American soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan. The later soothing messages did not erase the significance of this warning. (When Petraeus fainted this week at a Senate hearing, some religious Jews viewed it as divine punishment.)
It is not only the Israeli-American relationship that has undergone a fateful change, but the standing of the U.S. itself is changing for the worse, a bad omen indeed for the future of Israeli policy.
The world is changing, slowly and quietly. The U.S. is still by far the most powerful country, but it is no longer the almighty superpower it had been since 1989. China is flexing its muscles, countries like India and Brazil are getting stronger, countries like Turkey -- yes, Turkey! -- are beginning to play a role.
This is not a matter of one or two years, but anyone who is thinking about the future of Israel in 10, 20 years must understand that unless there is a basic change in our position, our position, too, will decline.
If our alliance with the U.S. is one central pillar of Israeli policy, the support of the vast majority of world Jewry is the second.
For 62 years, we could count on it with our eyes shut. Whatever we did -- almost all the world.s Jews stood at attention and saluted. In fire and water, victory or defeat, glorious or dark chapters -- the world.s Jews did support us, giving money, demonstrating, pressuring their governments. Without second thoughts, without criticism.
Not anymore. Quietly, almost silently, cracks have appeared in this pillar, too. Opinion polls show that most American Jewish young people are turning away from Israel. Not shifting their loyalty from the Israeli establishment to Israel.s liberal camp -- but turning away from Israel altogether.
This will not be felt immediately either. AIPAC continues to strike fear into Washingtonian hearts, Congress will continue to dance to its tune. But when the new generation comes to man key positions, the support for Israel will erode, American politicians will stop crawling on their bellies, and the U.S. administration will gradually change its relations with us.
In our immediate neighborhood, too, profound changes are underway, some of them beneath the surface. The flotilla incident has exposed them.
The influence of our allies is decreasing constantly. They are losing height, and an old-new power is on the rise: Turkey.
Hosni Mubarak is busy with his efforts to pass power to his son, Gamal. The Islamic opposition in Egypt is raising its head. Saudi money is trumped by the new attraction of Turkey. The Jordanian king is compelled to adapt himself. The axis of Turkey-Iran-Syria-Hezbollah-Hamas is the rising power, the axis of Egypt-Saudi Arabia-Jordan-Fatah is in decline.
But the most important change is the one that is taking place in international public opinion. Any derision of this reminds one of Stalin.s famous sneer ("How many divisions has the pope?").
Recently, an Israeli TV station showed a fascinating film about the German and Scandinavian female volunteers who flooded Israel in the .50s and .60s to live and work (and sometimes marry) in the kibbutzim. Israel was then seen as a plucky little nation surrounded by hateful enemies, a state risen from the ashes of the Holocaust to become a haven of freedom, equality, and democracy, which found their most sublime expression in that unique creation, the kibbutz.
The present generation of idealistic youngsters from all over the world, male and female, who would once have volunteered for the kibbutzim, can now be found on the decks of the ships sailing for downtrodden, choked and starved Gaza, which touches the hearts of many young people. The pioneering Israeli David has turned into a brutish Israeli Goliath.
Even a genius of spin could not change this. For years, now, the world sees the state of Israel every day on the TV screen and on the front pages in the image of heavily armed soldiers shooting at stone-throwing children, guns firing phosphorus shells into residential quarters, helicopters executing "targeted eliminations," and now pirates attacking civilian ships on the open seas. Terrified women with wounded babies in their arms, men with amputated limbs, demolished homes. When one sees a hundred pictures like that for every picture that shows another Israel, Israel becomes a monster. The more so since the Israeli propaganda machine is successfully suppressing any news about the Israeli peace camp.
Many years ago, when I wanted to ridicule the addiction of our leaders to the use of force, I paraphrased a saying that reflects much of Jewish wisdom: "If force does not work, use brains." In order to show how far we, the Israelis, are different from the Jews, I changed the words: "If force doesn.t work, use more force."
I thought of it as a joke. But, as happens to many jokes in our country, it has become reality. It is now the credo of many primitive Israelis, headed by Ehud Barak.
In practice, the security of a state depends on many factors, and military force is but one of them. In the long run, world public opinion is stronger. The pope has many divisions.
In many respects, Israel is still a strong country. But, as the sudden illumination of the flotilla affair has shown, time is not working in our favor. We should deepen our roots in the world and in the region -- which means making peace with our neighbors -- as long as we are as strong as we are now.
If force doesn.t work, more force will not necessarily work either.
If force doesn.t work, force doesn.t work. Period.
The patriot (Haaretz) - Chomsky AntiIsrael Anti-ITALY
The patriot (Haaretz) - Chomsky AntiIsrael
What does the Israeli patriot want? What state exactly does he dream of before falling asleep at night? What society does he hope for while immersed in his morning routine?
By Gideon Levy
What does the Israeli patriot want? What state exactly does he dream of before falling asleep at night? What society does he hope for while immersed in his morning routine? Incitement, slander and boycott campaigns have recently been launched here against Turkey, Sweden, the High Court of Justice, B'Tselem, the New Israel Fund, the media, Richard Goldstone, Noam Chomsky, Elvis Costello, the Pixies, Ahmed Tibi, Hanin Zuabi, Tali Fahima, Barack Obama, Anat Kamm and the rest of the world, and also a bit against yours truly. A hypocritical, fallacious and depressing worldview emerges from these campaigns.
No, he is not a villain, the Israeli patriot - he is merely brainwashed and blind.
He would like to live in a democracy - of course he wants democracy; after all, he was taught in school that it is a good thing, and he boasts to the world that Israel is "the only democracy in the Middle East." But it's a democracy without most of its mechanisms. He is satisfied with elections and majority rule: The majority will make the decisions, and to hell with the minority.
The Israeli patriot wants to open a newspaper and turn on the television and see what's going on in the world - but only a world in which everything is good. Well, if not the entire world, then at least Israel, as long as it's all good. He wants to take in lots of World Cup soccer, entertainment programs, loads of gossip, and most importantly - only good news. He wants only commentators who "smash" the Arabs and "bash" the left-wingers and other Israel haters, and who call for strikes on Gaza, Hezbollah, Iran and Istanbul again and again.
He is a man of peace, the patriot, but he also wants a war once every two to three years and he wants the media to say so, too. He doesn't really want to know what happened during Operation Cast Lead, or what the world - which hates us - thinks of us and why. He doesn't want to know what is going on in the territories or among the poor, screwed, underprivileged people.
But wonder of wonders, if he feels deprived, where does he run? To the newspapers and the TV, which he loves to hate. He also loves to hate those left-wingers from the High Court of Justice, but the moment he's in any kind of trouble, where does he turn? To the court, of course.
The Israeli patriot wants the world to love us unconditionally and without limits. Yet at the same time, he wants to ignore the whole world and spit contemptuously on its institutions, conventions and laws. He wants a package deal with Turkey, all-inclusive, but not including listening to what the Turks have to say. He wants to spread white phosphorus in Gaza and have the world recite, like himself, that it's white rain. He wants the United Nations to impose sanctions on Iran, but to disregard its own resolutions related to Israel. He wants a half-Iranian regime here, but portrayed as liberal in all the tourist guidebooks.
The world according to the Israeli patriot consists, in fact, only of the United States - but even then only to a certain extent. Obama's America is also starting to get suspicious. The patriot wants America to foot the bill and shut up. He wants the Jewish world to contribute money, to embrace us, to come here in masses with the Taglit-Birthright program. But if J Street, JCall, Goldstone or Chomsky arise from among the Jews, he will hasten to brand them anti-Semites. They're either with us or against us - even the Jews.
He wants a Knesset that represents the people, meaning his kind of people - without Ahmed Tibi and Hanin Zuabi, preferably without any Arabs at all, and if we must then only Ayoob Kara. Let them travel overseas to stretch out on tzadiks' graves, but only in Jewish communities, not in Libya. Let them fight to free abducted soldier Gilad Shalit, but not the myriad prisoners of their own people.
Shalit? The Israeli patriot wants his release, as all Israelis do, but not, under any circumstances, in exchange for freeing terrorists. He also wants NGOs around and donations coming in from abroad, but only to synagogues and hospitals. And above all, he wants to protect Israeli soldiers and their commanders, unconditionally. They must remain immune from any criticism. They killed two women waving a white flag in Gaza? They shot a Jerusalem driver at close range? They killed - perhaps unnecessarily - Turks on a flotilla? Anyone who mentions such things is a traitor.
This is the patriot's impossible country. It is doubtful whether even he actually enjoys living in it. So when will he criticize his beloved country? In the never-ending traffic jam, in the endless queue, and of course, when the IDF isn't killing enough. Any other criticism? No thank you, I'm a patriot.
Patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel.
Samuel Johnson April 7, 1775
Nationalism is power hunger tempered by self-deception. George Orwell
Nationalism is our form of incest, is our idolatry, is our insanity. "Patriotism" is its cult. It should hardly be necessary to say, that by "patriotism" I mean that attitude which puts the own nation above humanity, above the principles of truth and justice; not the loving interest in one's own nation, which is the concern with the nation's spiritual as much as with its material welfare — never with its power over other nations. Just as love for one individual which excludes the love for others is not love, love for one's country which is not part of one's love for humanity is not love, but idolatrous worship.
* Erich Fromm, The Sane Society (1955)
Nationalism ... is like cheap alcohol. First it makes you drunk, then it makes you blind, then it kills you.
* Dan Fried, US diplomat (Jan 07)
Nationalism was so perfectly suited to its double task, the domestication of workers and the despoliation of aliens, that it appealed to everyone - everyone, that is, who wielded or aspired to wield a portion of capital.
* Fredy Perlman, "The Continuing Appeal of Nationalism" (1984)
Is Chomsky 'anti-American'? Noam Chomsky interviewed by Jacklyn Martin The Herald, December 9, 2002. Not only is Noam Chomsky recognized for being an accomplished professor of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he is also famous for being one of the most radical scholars in the United States, both praised and condemned for criticizing American foreign and domestic policies. He is known throughout the world as author of dozens of books, such as What Uncle Sam Really Wants, Understanding Power: The Indispensable Chomsky, and 9-11. Chomsky has made numerous appearances in popular media outlets such as CNN, Good Morning America and Rolling Stone Magazine. The New York Times has called Chomsky "the most important intellectual alive." Chomsky was recently interviewed for the Herald via e-mail.
QUESTION: What were you doing when you when you first heard of the terrorist attacks on the United States? What was your first reaction to the news?
CHOMSKY: I was working, as usual. Heard about it several hours later. [My] reaction was the same as everyone's: shock and horror. But not, I'm afraid, disbelief. It had been known for some years that something like this was likely, and that was known even to people who don't read technical papers about it (as I had, and had written about [it] myself) ever since 1993, when related groups came ominously close to blowing up the World Trade Center, with tens of thousands killed had the plan been more careful, according to the WTC engineers.
QUESTION: Why do you think foreign policy right now is different between the United States and Iraq, as opposed with that of the United States and North Korea?
CHOMSKY: The difference is that North Korea isn't sitting on the second largest oil reserves in the world, and a war against North Korea would be a disaster, leading possibly to the destruction of the South in retaliation. In contrast, a war against Iraq is expected to be a pushover. Most predictions are that many Iraqis will die, but probably very few US casualties, given the awesome disproportion of means of violence. Of course, once the dogs of war are unleashed, no one really knows: not the CIA, not Donald Rumsfeld, not me.
QUESTION: After releasing your book 9-11, many reporters have said that you are anti-American. Others even suggest that you should pack up and move to another country since you believe America to be a leading terrorist state. How do you respond to such remarks?
CHOMSKY: The concept "anti-American" is an interesting one. The counterpart is used only in totalitarian states or military dictatorships, something I wrote about many years ago (see my book Letters from Lexington). Thus, in the old Soviet Union, dissidents were condemned as "anti-Soviet." That's a natural usage among people with deeply rooted totalitarian instincts, which identify state policy with the society, the people, the culture. In contrast, people with even the slightest concept of democracy treat such notions with ridicule and contempt. Suppose someone in Italy who criticizes Italian state policy were condemned as "anti-Italian." It would be regarded as too ridiculous even to merit laughter. Maybe under Mussolini, but surely not otherwise.
Actually the concept has earlier origins. It was used in the Bible by King Ahab, the epitome of evil, to condemn those who sought justice as "anti-Israel" ("ocher Yisrael," in the original Hebrew, roughly "hater of Israel," or "disturber of Israel"). His specific target was Elijah.
It's interesting to see the tradition in which the people you refer to choose to place themselves. The idea of leaving America because one opposes state policy is another reflection of deep totalitarian commitments. Solzhenitsyn, for example, was forced to leave Russia, against his will, by people with beliefs very much like those you are quoting.
QUESTION: Do you think the United States government has justified war against Iraq?
CHOMSKY: No. Not even close. And they know it.
QUESTION: As you know, many people often look to you as a resource or guide when seeking information and ideas. Is there anyone in particular serving a similar role for you?
CHOMSKY: There are plenty of resources, but one should be cautious about "guides." People have to learn to think for themselves. Otherwise we're back to totalitarianism again.
QUESTION: How do you think Thomas Jefferson would react to contemporary American government?
CHOMSKY: With utter disgust, and profound sorrow that the democratic experiment had reached such depths. We don't have to speculate. 200 years ago his friend James Madison warned of something similar, and Jefferson too was much concerned about people like those now in Crawford and Washington.
QUESTION: If there is just one message you could deliver to college students at Arkansas State University, what would that be?
CHOMSKY: Think for yourselves, and observe elementary moral principles, such as taking responsibility for your actions, or inaction.
tags: USA CIA mossad rabin assassination gaza palestine nuclear demona Mordechai Vanunu dimona