Journalism is not an Attack, Wikileaks is not Warfare

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on Firedoglake or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Wikileaks is under attack!

Journalists and politicians are calling for the criminalization of Wikileaks, or worse, the assassination of its members. The US government is coercing companies into blocking access to Wikileaks, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is normally very strong on internet freedom, has been forced to “evolve” her positions.

If you’re a supporter of Wikileaks, or even a relatively dispassionate observer, you likely find these actions to be offensive, or even downright criminal. How dare the US move so arrogantly, so aggressively, against Wikileaks for what seems to be nothing more than the second coming of the Pentagon Papers? We believe in free speech, in transparency and accountability for our government. It’s outrageous that Washington would move so decisively to crush a project like Wikileaks.

But are Wikileaks’ supporters actually feeding this response from the government? In our rush to rationalize and defend Wikileaks and their actions, have we inadvertently opened the door to attacks by the US government?

The answer can be found in how we’ve chosen to frame the debate so far. Continue reading “Journalism is not an Attack, Wikileaks is not Warfare”

David Broder. War with Iran would boost the economy

In a WaPo op-ed, Broder says a jolly little war with Iran would be just the thing to boost Obama’s popularity and the economy as well. Our ruling elite apparently wants another war, even if we are currently losing two (Iraq and Afghanistan), about to start another (Yemen), but heck, it won’t be their kids getting killed in the global conflagration that will ignite should the US attack Iran.

Our “leaders” are deranged.

Afghanistan: Hearts and Minds and Blood and Anger

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

Our troops in Afghanistan have some questions about the strategy in Afghanistan. Spencer Ackerman reports:

Some considered the war a distraction from broader national security challenges like Iran or China. Others thought that its costs — nearly ten years, $321 billion, 1243 U.S. deaths and counting — are too high, playing into Osama bin Laden’s “Bleed To Bankruptcy” strategy. Still others thought that it doesn’t make sense for President Obama simultaneously triple U.S. troop levels and announce that they’re going to start coming down, however slowly, in July 2011. At least one person was convinced, despite the evidence, that firing Gen. Stanley McChrystal meant the strategy was due for an overhaul, something I chalked up to the will to believe.

But if there was a common denominator to their critiques, it’s this: None understood how their day-to-day jobs actually contributed to a successful outcome. One person actually asked me if I could explain how it’s all supposed to knit together.

I’m wondering the same thing. It’s never been clear to me exactly how a massive foreign military occupation translates to a stable, secure and democratic society in Afghanistan. How does one lead to the other, how do we get from A to B? Continue reading “Afghanistan: Hearts and Minds and Blood and Anger”

The fundamentals of radical, transnational counterinsurgency

I am the Afghanistan Blogging Fellow for The Seminal and Brave New Foundation. You can read my work on The Seminal or at Rethink Afghanistan. The views expressed below are my own.

There’s a lot of hate speech floating around out there. You’re used to it by now. The President is a black Muslim Nazi, LGBT destroy families, immigrants are disease-ridden criminals. It’s not just that these lies are offensive, though, is it? It’s that they hint at something darker, more wicked underneath. The argument isn’t that immigrants have diseases (they don’t), so let’s try to help them. It’s that they have diseases, so they’re filthy and must be hunted down and annihilated. The folks who spread this hate speech are not lying out of altruism or compassion, they’re lying as an expression of the dangerous, sociopathic capacities they possess. We know this from our foreign policy as well. It’s not just that the overt anti-semitism of terrorist videos will double you over with vomit, it’s the psycho undercurrent of suicide bombings that really keeps us awake at night.

I thought about this when I read Steve Hynd’s “COIN is like Soviet Communism?,” wherein he exposes counterinsurgency not as a strategy, but an ideology. He’s right, but it’s not just that counterinsurgency is a demented ideology, that it propagates vicious lies like obliterating a houseful of Afghan civilians is “protecting the population.” It’s that COIN is a symptom of an idea more primeval and dangerous: violence is the solution. The fundamental idea behind counterinsurgency is that war is the right tool for the job. It may look different and sound different, but it’s still war, still violently brutalizing a population, us and them, for isolated and selfish political ends. Continue reading “The fundamentals of radical, transnational counterinsurgency”

War. Not inevitable

From DJ

“…A dynamic, often harrowing process of give and take. As long as both sides recognized that they needed each other, there was peace. The next generation, however, came to see things differently… When [war came], it was not becaise relentless and faceless forces had given [them] no other choice. Those forces had existed from the very beginning. War came… because two leaders… allowed it to happen… There was nothing invevitable [about it], and the outbreak of fighting caught almost everyone by surprise.”

So says Nathaniel Philbrick author of Mayflower. He could have been referring to the outbreak of almost any civil conflict. One imagines he could be reflecting back from a few years hence on this period in our history.

I’m more optimistic. There are signs now that senior Republicans are trying to reign in the loonies. Also, compared to the 1930’s or the 1960’s, things are actually kind of placid now. I’m not seeing union strikers getting shot in the back or cities burning. Nor do I think we will see that level of violence any time soon. But forewarned is forearmed. Let’s make sure it doesn’t happen. One way is by listening to what others say.

He actually was writing about politics preceding the outbreak of King Philip’s War in 1675, one of the bloodiest conflicts in our history, now largely forgotten.

Town of Simsbury CT marker. Indian wars.

From The dust jacket of The Name of War: King Philip’s War and the Origins of American Identity By Jill Lepore.

King Philip’s War, the excruciating racial war–colonists against Indians–that erupted in New England in 1675, was, in proportion to population, the bloodiest in American history. Some even argued that the massacres and outrages on both sides were too horrific to “deserve the name of a war.”

I reviewed the book in 2007, when we lived in Simsbury CT. As you can see by the marker, Indians burned it to the ground twice. But I couldn’t finish the book, what happened was just too bloody, violent, and senseless.

And we sure don’t need more of that.