Rodeo Clowns

Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton added her disapproval at a dinner in observance of Iftar, the breaking of the daily fast during the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.

“I am heartened by the clear, unequivocal condemnation of this disrespectful, disgraceful act that has come from American religious leaders of all faiths,” Clinton said.

Of course, Clinton was not referring to the latest Predator drone attack gone awry in Af-Pak; no, instead she was referring to the Koran-burning publicity stunt dreamed up by a crackpot preacher in Florida.  Because what are a few lives snuffed out by an errant Hellfire missile or two compared to an egregious act of cultural insensitivity?

Elsewhere in the article, General Petraeus and White House Secretary of Misinformation, Robbie Gibbs, worry that “images of the burning” might “inflame public opinion and incite violence” and thus put “our [sic] troops in harm’s way.”  Though apparently neither is concerned about the possibility that the presence of a couple hundred thousand US troops in muslim lands and a policy that involves the killing of actual muslims might be inciting and inflaming and putting the troops in harm’s way.

Here we have yet another example of thoroughly corrupt public officials attempting to convince us that empty symbolic gestures are somehow more significant than concrete realities—or, maybe more to the point, attempting to distract us from those realities by making a big stink over largely inconsequential events.*

*In this light, the Clinton bit is particularly layered with irony.  Here we have the US Secretary of State condemning of an act of nonviolent symbolism during a symbolic appearance the ulterior purpose of which is to convince muslims that actual violence being committed by the US against muslims is not actually anti-muslim violence.

Self-Hatred

Over at TNR, Andrew Bacevich writes what I think would be a fairly uncontroversial critique of the “withdrawal” from Iraq, saying, essentially, that it’s another political gloss job, much like the so-called surge, meant to obscure the fact that the war/occupation was a clusterfuck and to prevent the US as a nation from learning the right (or any) lessons—e.g., that maybe using military force to attempt to transform foreign societies into little Americas is a fucking dumb idea.

But anyhow, forget about the article itself, because as usual some dipshit in the comments section steals the show.  Here we have (dim?) bulbman1066, trotting out that tired neocon bugaboo, the self-hating liberal:

Saddam Hussein may have been a bad man, but he was anti-American, anti-Western and anti-Israel, which is enough to make the likes of Andrew J. Basevic regret his fall.

Whatever happened to the heroic Democratic Party of FDR, Truman, Acheson, and JFK? Today’s Democratic foreign policy is feeble, cowardly, cynical, utterly devoid of honor and decency. Its leitmotiv is the self-hatred of of the nabobs of academia and the mainstream media. Obama’s speech reflects this. You could see it in the bored, skeptical faces of the military personnel among those whom our pathetic excuse for a president was addressing.

Really?  Do people actually still believe this shit?  Did they ever?  I thought it was just a cynical ploy used by the warmongers to sell the ever-gullible American public on a war that had nothing to do with national security.*  But then again, I hate America (and Israel, too, apparently), so what do I know?  I have an idea, though.  Next time we decide to invade a country, let’s tie a bulbman1066 to the hood of every Humvee and Bradley Fighting Vehicle on its way in.

*Never mind the moronic nationalistic tripe that equates one’s feelings toward the country they happened to be born in with one’s feelings about him or herself.

The war is over (well, okay, not literally over)

The last U.S. combat brigade has left Iraq, says NPR:

The U.S. military presence in Iraq took a symbolic turn Thursday as the last full Army combat brigade left the country, ahead of President Obama’s end-of-the-month deadline for ending combat operations.

So that means no more fighting in Iraq, right?  Well, not exactly:

The departure doesn’t mark the end of the U.S. military presence, however: About 50,000 troops will remain in Iraq through the end of next year. The troops are officially there in an advisory role, but will carry weapons to defend themselves and will join Iraqi troops on missions if requested.

So even though there are no more combat troops in Iraq the U.S. military will most likely still be involved in combat operations in Iraq?  Kinda, yes:

“‘Combat operations’ is sort of a relative term,” [Marine Reserve Capt. Peter Brooks] said. “I think some troops who remain after this date are going to see things that look kind of like combat.”

Symbolic, indeed.  Of course, for some Obamanoids, no amount of blatant manipulation is enough to diminish the total awesomeness of the “prez” for living up to a meaningless campaign promise.

You don’t mind if I borrow that Predator Drone for a second, do you?

The BBC questions the efficacy of the US government’s use of unmanned aircraft to kill “militants” in the tribal regions of Pakistan (by the way, in case you didn’t know, this is a secret war)—essentially, Are the drones effective in hitting their “targets,” or do they kill too many “civilians” (thereby undermining the policy by providing a free recruiting tool for the Taliban)?  This is accompanied by some dubious figures and claims by US govt spokesdrones about, respectively, the number of non-militants killed and the accuracy of these weapons.  Nowhere, though, does the article question the legitimacy of the policy itself.  Nowhere does it ask: Why is the US shooting missiles from remote control airplanes at people who couldn’t possibly be any threat to the United States?  About as close as it comes to asking that question is when it quotes an “expert on militancy in northwest Pakistan”:

“How many people do you want to kill to get Osama Bin Laden?” he asks.

“How many common militants who may not have done much harm to the US or its allies do you want to kill to get Dr [Ayman] al-Zawahiri [Bin Laden’s deputy]? That is the question.”

Of course, he hedges a bit with that “may not have done much harm” and by granting that all of this has anything to do with killing Bin Laden or his “deputies.”  Add to that a little grousing by Pakistani officials about violations of their sovereignty, and what you have, all in all, is a tepid and largely unnoteworthy “critique” of the GWOT, South Asia edition.

Except for this little nugget tucked in at the end:

What Pakistan says it wants is for the drone strikes to continue, but under its ownership, not that of the US.

“The US should just give us the technology,” says Rehman Malik. “If we do it ourselves, Pakistanis won’t mind.”

Ah, yes: Let us have a turn playing with the big shiny toy.  The Pakistani people won’t mind so much if we’re the ones killing them.

This is a pretty good illustration of the idea that when it comes to disputes between rival governments, or even negotiations between supposed allies, you can rest assured that, no matter the outcome, the people on both sides (or in the middle) are going to get the shaft.

George W. Obama

Our Nobel peace laureate comedian-in-chief delivered this knee-slapper, among other no doubt hilarious jokes, at the recent White House Correspondents’ dinner:

The Jonas Brothers are here; they’re out there somewhere. Sasha and Malia are huge fans; but boys, don’t get any ideas. Two words for you: predator drones. You will never see it coming. You think I’m joking?

As Roderick Long points out, this bears some resemblance to Obama’s chimplike predecessor’s attempt at humor when he pretended to look for the missing WMDs under the furniture in the Oval Office.

This reminds me of the scene in the movie Hearts and Minds in which footage of Richard Nixon doing schtick at some kind of formal affair is juxtaposed with a clip of a Vietnamese man anguishing over the deaths of his two young children who were killed by an American bomb.  The man says, “What have I done to Richard Nixon?”  Indeed.  To Nixon’s credit, at least he didn’t make any jokes about indiscriminately bombing villagers in Vietnam—instead he tried to rationalize [a particular bombing raid apparently] with the “it was the hardest decision I had to make as president” line.

We’ve come a long way.  Apparently there used to be some shame attached, at least publicly, to the practice of killing foreigners for no reason.  Now we just laugh at it.  Is this some of that change we can believe in?

Heroically Defending Our Freedoms

This is a perfect parody of the self-parodying rationalizations that the warmongers trot out whenever they’re faced with the task of explaining why the US government absolutely must kill lots of people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and Pakistan, Somalia, Yemen…), people who’ve done nothing to harm any of us over here in the land of the free, and who, for the most part, probably couldn’t give two shits about the United States–except for the fact that there are all of these guys running around in camo with American flag patches on their sleeves and shooting at them for some reason:

Literally tens of Americans were shocked this week to discover that the United States military likes to kill people. Unsettling news, yes, particularly for those of us who had assumed in good faith that one million Iraqis had accidentally slipped on a banana peel one morning and fallen into a pile of mislaid cruise missiles, but before we leap to all sorts of unsightly conclusions, calling Our Boys “mass-murderers” just because they happen to enjoy the occasional mass-murder, let’s remember that in the fog of war with the eggs and the omelettes and the War Is Hell, who can say what’s right and wrong, what’s good and evil, who’s an unarmed pregnant woman and who’s a ticking time bomb threatening to produce future foreigners? Our troops have a job to do, after all – defending our country from those countries who would defend their country from our country – and if we hounded and nit-picked them after every little massacre, gang rape or atrocity, they’d hardly get any killing done at all.

The Medium Lobster, Fafblog

If the President Does It, It’s Gotta Be OK

I’m pretty sure there’s no act of (U.S., that is) state violence that some “conservative” douchebag won’t excuse.  Then again, we are “at war” and this Awlaki character was a bad man:

Anwar al-Awlaki, a purportedly American-born Islamic cleric, who is now operating in Yemen, ministered to the 9/11 hijackers, inspired the Ft. Hood assassin, probably directed the would-be Christmas bomber, and is believed to be orchestrating and recruiting for violent jihad operations against the United States.

Other diabolical deeds Awlaki probably directed or is believed to have orchestrated: the earthquake in Haiti, the Holocaust, the assassination of JFK, and the crucifixion of Jesus.  (By the way, I like the attempt to casually brush aside Awlaki’s U.S. citizenship–’cause, you know, this is the only possible legitimate objection one could have here.)

Via Frog.