Those poor oiled birds, and….the troops

(9AM EST – promoted by Nightprowlkitty)

Cross-posted at Dkos…

We’ve all seen the photos of the wildlife stricken by the oil spill, and I expect most who’ve seen them have been saddened and outraged.

I’ve been plenty horrified and outraged myself.

The following photos are upsetting.

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oil bird 5

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Gulf Oil Spill

Such photos remind me of pictures we saw back in the 60s that were dropped onto coffee tables, in tens of millions of homes, by weekly newsmagazines such as Time and Life.  They similarly horrified large segments of the populace.

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Feb 11, 1966

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VIET NAM - 1966: Wounded Marine Gunnery Sgt. Jeremiah Purdie (C) being led past stricken comrade after fierce firefight for control of Hill 484 south of the DMZ. -- Larry Burrows./Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images -- Jan 01, 1966

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These days, print media such as TIME and LIFE do not have the kind of circulation they did in the 60s.  And, sensibilities about our service members’ suffering limit, at times, access to photos of reality, out of respect for their privacy.  

As a result, the populace does not have many images of reality abruptly placed into their consciousness, as the old editors of newsmagazines could more easily do in the 60s.  Service members’ suffering is something of which much of the populace is unaware, as they scramble to keep a roof over them and groceries on the shelf, or, as they shop at the mall and watch their favorite “reality” shows on TV.

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That, coupled with a “Hey! the troops volunteered, didn’t they?” mentality, and lack of a draft (where CENTCOM has 250,000+ contracted workers instead of draftees, cleaning the latrines and serving the chow in the areas of operation), and you have widespread complacency on the part of the populace.  Who wants to go to all the trouble of questioning and challenging the reasoning for constant, endless war exported to one of the poorest places on Earth?  when they are singularly unaffected by it, and are not paying any price or bearing any burden for it all?



Fortunately, there are images we can see of current reality.  

Bill Moyers has a series on his website that pulls no punches.  Here’s a few examples by photographer Nina Berman:

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The New York Times Magazine ran an excellent set of photos taken by Lynsey Addario:

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And, the wire services sometimes come through with some reminders of reality:

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CPT Samuel Brown

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LIFE magazine ran this one:

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The oil spill and the poor economy are getting alot of attention, as well they should.  No arguments from me about it.  The spill, and the crushing effects of this economic depression on tens of millions, while Wall Streeters suck the nation dry, has me POBAR (pissed off beyond all recognition).

I’m posting the above photos to make sure some time is given to the reality of our state of constant, endless war.

But, it takes more than some photos to portray the reality of the situation in the Quicksand Graveyard Of Empires.  

What’s needed is to QUESTION the necessity and to CHALLENGE the premises.  No amount of synthetic, contrived gobbledygook, mouthed off by a guy in a suit with a chest full of medals and stars on the shoulder, can fool me.

What in hell are our service members really going to accomplish in Afghanistan? Really?  Seriously? The counter-insurgency manual says that to do counter-insurgency, you have to have a legitimate and functional government in place to support; otherwise, you’re just supporting one group of hoods against another. (News flash: Karzai and cronies are NOT a legitimate, functional government.)

We made the same damned mistake in Vietnam.  We supported a corrupt government, and had no understanding of the culture and history into which was injected a huge armed force.

And, if you’re paying attention to the realities on the ground in Afghanistan, then it’s obvious that our troops are being forced to support one group of hoods against another, while trying to stand up in a gigantic pool of quicksand.


Who ever thinks of the fact that the Taliban movement is as much a Pashtun nationalist movement as it is Islamist?  Forty-two million Pashtuns are just not going to go away, do you think?  Same for the Taliban.  

More here, from a former CIA station chief in Kabul:

The Taliban represent zealous and largely ignorant mountain Islamists. They are also all ethnic Pashtuns. Most Pashtuns see the Taliban — like them or not — as the primary vehicle for restoration of Pashtun power in Afghanistan, lost in 2001. Pashtuns are also among the most fiercely nationalist, tribalized and xenophobic peoples of the world, united only against the foreign invader. In the end, the Taliban are probably more Pashtun than they are Islamist.

And, the Taliban movement was born in Kandahar, as a reaction against corrupt and brutal warlords.  Of course, the Pakistanis figured out pretty quickly that the Taliban would be an excellent means to keep India’s business interests out of Afghanistan, and began supporting it for that purpose.  (I sure hope this isn’t news to anyone.)

One writer describes the situation as “… a fractured landscape of shifting allegiances that ebb and flow with tribal, ethnic and personal rivalries”, and, “In Afghanistan, the struggle is utterly local, changing from valley to valley, in what feels sometimes to Americans fighting there like a dozen different wars, each one requiring its own calibrated response.”

More quicksand.

And, you know, the Taliban is being funded by, of all things, the U. S. government.  The U. S. funds Pakistan’s military, which funds the ISI, which funds….the Taliban!  Also, the Taliban skims truckloads of money off of contractors.  This has been reported over and over.

So, what this means is, we fund the Taliban, which increases their capacity to mount attacks against our troops, which causes Washington bigshots to conclude that….we have to send in more troops to fight the Taliban???

Not to mention all the money that’s being siphoned off by Karazai and cronies.  Why would these people EVER want the U.S. to leave?

The quicksand goes on and on.

The Pentagon and intelligence brass say there are only a few hundred actual AQ international jihadists along the Af-Pak border.  So, why is a huge military footprint spread across Afghanistan necessary to protect us against a few hundred jihadistas on the border? Eh?

Moreover, why in hell is Obama allowing himself to be suckered in by OBL?  

OBL’s own words:

All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa’ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits to their private companies. This is in addition to our having experience in using guerrilla warfare and the war of attrition to fight tyrannical superpowers as we alongside the Mujahedin bled Russia for 10 years until it went bankrupt and was forced to withdraw in defeat. All Praise is due to Allah. So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy.

Deeper and deeper we go into the quicksand.



There is no shortage of retired intelligence and military brass who are free to speak their minds about the huge mistake of the huge military footprint in Afghanistan.

Gen. Chuck Krulak, the 31st Commandant of the Marine Corps, doesn’t mince words about the enormity of the chunk which Obama has bitten off for our troops to chew:

Typical of the 21st Century fight, we are fighting ideas as well as warriors.  You cannot defeat ideas with bullets…you must defeat them with better ideas.  For many reasons such as the dysfunction found in the Karzai government, the tribal nature of the country, the abject poverty of the average citizen, the inextricable link to Pakistan, we have been unable to come up with better ideas.

And just last Thursday, on The Diane Rehm Show, retired Col. Douglas Macgregor, one damed fine soldier and historian, had this to say about Afghanistan:

Ultimately, the people that live there will wait us out.  That’s what they’ve done historically.  We’re not going to fundamentally change anything.  They know that.  This is a bottomless pit for American resources and money.  The Pashtun, who are the basis for the Taliban, have made it very clear that they will wait.  They’ve said it before.  They enjoy considerable support inside Pakistan.  I don’t see any evidence that anything is going to change.  I don’t see this brilliant, coherent strategy at all.  I see an attempt to repeat much of what we did in Iraq, which I think has had unfortunate consequences: build large garrisons, fill them with lots of troops, spend lots of money on the contractors.  And we forget there are valleys in Afghanistan that could swallow 150,000 US troops.  The Soviets concluded they needed 600,000 men to seal the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan.  The objectives are effectively unattainable.  I think that’s what people now realize.


I think we should end this and get out.  I think there’s this supposition that somehow or another that we can put a happy face on a dead rat before we leave.  The truth is, the people who live there will sort this out.  We may not care for the ultimate outcome, but that outcome is also going to be profoundly influenced by Iran, by the Central Asian republics, and Russia and India, because what happens there is really their principal strategic problem.  [Diarist’s transcription]

And, that’s just a sample of what Col. Macgregor had to say.  (I highly recommend listening to the entire program, at the above link, as well as to more of his commentary again this past Wednesday on the Diane Rehm Show  (neo-con Michael O’Hanlon was also on the panel, and that asshat mostly rolled over and played dead!!!)

All I have, to push back against flawed, oppresive actions by the government are my freedoms of speech, assembly and press.  I don’t have a sack of money to put on the desk at some congress person’s campaign office, and wouldn’t do it if I did.  Nope!  

If you want these deployments to end, and to end this misuse and abuse of our Armed Forces, then call, write, and VISIT the local offices of your senators and representatives during the coming July 4th break and during the August recess.



Update: This is has been another live blog from the front porch at Sen. Dick Durbin’s office in Springfield, Illinois, in the Lincoln Home National Historic Site.  It’s a beautiful little park full of historic Lincoln-era homes, owned by the Dept. of the Interior, and managed by the National Park Service.  Sen. Durbin has rented office space in the George Shutt House since Sen. Durbin was a member of the House of Representatives.  As is shown on the bottom of his Senate web site home page, the address is 525 S. 8th St, Springfield IL 62703. Thanks! to Sen. Durbin’s Springfield office staff who have always been gracious.


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    • Edger on June 24, 2010 at 23:16

    in preview, Hound Dog. I copied the source from dkos to here. Would you like me to edit this essay and post it here for you?

  1. For a number of reasons, including these:

    1. Oil drives the war–w/o burning ungodly amounts, the military couldn’t do this thing at all.

    2. Ironically, one of the factors causing the war is the pursuit of new oil.

    3. Another factor causing the war is the economy–it almost all the US knows how to do.  

    The military and complex offers jobs, when just about nothing else does (now up to 45 years of age)

    4. Corporations & the US military are in charge. They tell our political leaders what to do, and they do it.  

  2. and heading home.  I’ll hop back on in an hour or two, to reply to anyone.  ; – )

  3. …and thanks to Sen. Dick Durbin and his gracious staff for the use of the porch!

  4. but there is nothing to be done inside this country.

    it goes on and on and on.

    i blog because i am stuck here immobile a lot of the time and it blows off energy which i can’t use for concentration on my work.

    johnny got his gun.

    it would be good to go somewhere less corrupt, but i am stuck here.

    i encourage as many of you as possible to get out.

    after all, our taxes support all this and we cannot stop that from happening.

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