USMC General Warns Obama that Pulling Troops out of Afghanistan is Encouraging the Taliban
Yes, that’s right, the head of the USMC, general James Conway, has warned that President Obama’s deadline to begin pulling troops out of Afghanistan is encouraging the Taliban. Anyone who knows anything about how the military works should be worried right now. What this general has done is called insubordination, his job is to implement the orders he receives from the commander in chief. For him to publicly criticize the commander-in-chief’s orders is not in any way implementing them. He should be immediately reprimanded, if not cashiered. That he can get away with this, and sadly since at least Clinton America’s generals have been more and more publicly critical of the president, is a scary sign for the republic and our democracy. This isn’t a freedom of speech issue. When someone joins the military they take an oath to follow the military’s rules. And the military is a totally hierarchal organization where one of the primary rules is that if a superior gives an order, your response is expected to be “Right away, sir.” If a subordinate has an issue with an order he is given, or the policies of his superior, he is expected to bring it up in private. To publicly criticize the president is what got General’s Macarthur and McCrystal fired, General Conway should be no different.
Sadly, the military seems to be more and more calling the shots in the USA, and it’s gotten worse under Obama. The framers of the Constitution made the President the Commander-in-Chief of the military for very good reason, they knew damn well that the more power one gives the military, the more likely one is to be involved in endless wars. Not to mention the dangers of the military meddling in politics. We’ve forgotten that one of the inspirations for independence even was staying out of the endless wars that wracked Europe at the time. And more on point, despite all sorts of patriotic nonsense, the military is a gang. And gang members are loyal to the gang first, not the country. There are exceptions, but when it comes to high ranking military officers, the exceptions are few and far between. And when it comes to the utterly politicized modern US military, as far as I can tell our general officer corps is devoted to their careers and the military above all else.
Sigh. The fact that people aren’t frightened by this, or other recent incidents, is also scary. General Petraeus has been for all practical purposes giving Obama orders lately. This sort of crap started under Clinton. (A lot of our imperial excesses started under Clinton actually.) Shortly after he got into office Colin Powell gave a press conference where he publicly criticized Clinton’s promise to integrate gays into the military. He should have been cashiered, or at the very least publicly reprimanded. Instead we got the horrific “Don’t ask, don’t tell” policy. Horrific because it resulted in a huge increase of people being kicked out of the military for being gay. Oddly enough the Fundamental Christianization of the military seems to have really started to get traction around then, a scary process that continues to this day. Why is is scary? Because armies are supposed to defend the country, not the faith.
Lastly, what gets me about General Conway’s comments, is that they are divorced from reality. The Taliban isn’t scouring the western media and basing their morale on what Obama says. They are fighting to get a foreign invader out of their homeland, they don’t give a rat’s ass about our morale or motivations. They will keep fighting until they achieve their aim, one way of the other. This isn’t a goddamn football game, we aren’t going to win by talking tough and sticking it out. That never works in a war. It does sometimes work in politics though, and this is more proof of just how much our policies, both internal and external, are now driven entirely by domestic politics. Americans are dying in Afghanistan and all our leaders do is jockey for political positioning about same.
What’s gonna be interesting is sooner or later there’s likely to be some terrible catastrophe that brings the whole house of cards down. And I pray that if there is such an event, it’s a fall of Saigon type of event as opposed to a 9/11 event. The former with any luck will lead to a more restrained foreign policy that is about defending the USA, not maintaining a world wide Empire. The later could lead to a police state and very possibly a pogrom against millions of Americans as our leaders blame their failure to prevent disaster on imagined internal enemies, not their own incompetence and foreign adventures.
Maybe I’m being a pessimist, but I think at this point it’s safe to say that the neocon wet dream of America’s crusades abroad leading to grateful natives sweeping away their governments and installing western style “democratic” governments … is dead in the water. Or dead on the streets of Iraq and Afghanistan. It was, basically, an almost infantile fantasy to begin with. I’m beginning to wonder if that’s all politics is, children who never got tired of playing with toy soldiers, and never really grew up.
(The above image was produced by the US State Department and is thus Public Domain under US copyright law. It’s General Macarthur and President Truman in happier days. It was a hell of a thing for Truman to fire Macarthur, he was a hero of two wars. I don’t know if it was a bad thing or a good thing, but that fact that it was possible is a good thing. Still, times change. Petraeus is no Macarthur, and sure as hell Obama is no Truman.)