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Bill Moyers With Andrew Bacevich on the Travesty of “Preventive” War

War is an evil that should command our respect
Opinion • Views: 22,483

Vimeo

As we’re being drawn yet again into the mess created by the Bush administration’s disastrous war of choice in Iraq, here are some interesting and very pertinent comments from Bill Moyers and Andrew Bacevich on the immoral nature of “preventive” war.

BILL MOYERS: What is it about how we go to war? We poured blood and treasure into Vietnam and Iraq and wound up with exactly the opposite consequences than we wanted. And we keep repeating, hearing the same arguments and claims that we should do it again.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, war itself is evil. But war is an evil that should command our respect. War is something that we should not take lightly, that we should not discuss frivolously. And I think that that’s one of the great failings of our foreign policy establishment, that our foreign policy establishment does not take war seriously.

It assumes that the creation of precision guided weapons makes war manageable, removes from war the element of risk and chance that are always inherent in warfare. So these are people who, quite frankly, most of them don’t know much about war. And therefore who discuss war in frivolous ways.

BILL MOYERS: And yet, there’s this still almost religious belief in force as the savior.

ANDREW BACEVICH: Well, I think your use of religious terms is very appropriate here. Because there is a theological — quasi theological dimension to their thinking related, again, to this notion that we are called. We are chosen. We are the instrument of providence. Summoned to transform the world, and therefore empowered to use force in ways not permitted to any others. I mean, the ultimate travesty of the immediate period after 9/11 was the Bush administration’s embrace of preventive war that became then the rationale for invading Iraq in 2003. But it was a general claim — a general claim that the United States was empowered to use force preventively.

This is the kind of person who should be on the Sunday talk shows instead of McCain and Cheney and those windbags.

UPDATE at 6/19/14 6:19:22 pm by Charles Johnson

Another clip from this interview:

Vimeo

BACEVICH: We have been engaged in the Islamic world at least since 1980, in a military project based on the assumption that the adroit use of American hard power can somehow pacify or fix this part of the world. We can now examine more than three decades of this effort.

Let’s look at what U.S. military intervention in Iraq has achieved, in Afghanistan has achieved, in Somalia has achieved, in Lebanon has achieved, in Libya has achieved. I mean, ask ourselves the very simple question. Is the region becoming more stable? Is it becoming more democratic?

Are we alleviating, reducing the prevalence of anti-Americanism? I mean, if the answer is yes, then let’s keep trying. But if the answer to those questions is no, then maybe it’s time for us to recognize that this larger military project is failing and is not going to succeed simply by trying harder.

The events that are unfolding in Iraq at this very moment promote a debate within Washington revolving around the question, “What should we do about Iraq?” But there is a larger and more important question. And the larger and more important question has to do with the region as a whole. And the actual consequences of U.S. military action over the past 30 years.

Video: A Glorious Rant by Rachel Maddow on Media Coverage of Benghazi and Iraq

“It’s all too neat”
Opinion • Views: 23,200

MSNBC

Here’s an excellent report by Rachel Maddow on right wing media’s coverage of the capture of the main suspect in the Benghazi attacks, focusing on the king of all wingnut sites, Drudge Report — and segueing into a look at how the media is pushing so many pundits who were disastrously wrong about Iraq as “experts” once again.

GOP Can’t Help Being Hypocritical on, Well, Everything

Priorities askew
Opinion • Views: 22,457

The GOP is bashing the President after his appearance yesterday at the TZ Bridge calling for $300+ billion in new infrastructure investments.

“We’re cutting bureaucratic red tape that stalls good projects from breaking ground,” Obama said, to cheers from the crowd.

The changes will help speed up mega-projects at Boston’s South Station, the Pensacola Bay Bridge, and light-rail construction north and south of Seattle, Obama said.

“All these steps we can do without Congress,” said Obama, who recently pledged to work with Congress when possible, but act on his own when necessary to sidestep the gridlock that’s hampered much of his agenda.

The changes also mean “good jobs” in the construction industry, which was hard hit when the housing market plummeted at the height of the economic crash.

He insisted that infrastructure expansion should be bipartisan, but took a few shots at Republicans - who have shown little enthusiasm for the plan - for pushing tax cuts on the wealthy instead of “rebuilding America.”

“They show up at ribbon-cuttings for projects that they refused to fund,” he said.
Republicans contended Obama was hypocritical for claiming credit for the expedited process while he has yet to decide the fate of a proposed Canada-to-Texas oil pipeline.
The GOP is using that up-in-the-air project to bash Democrats ahead of the November elections.

“It’s a real challenge to listen to the president talk about reforming the permitting system when he’s been sitting on the permit for the country’s largest shovel-ready infrastructure program, the Keystone XL pipeline, for five years,” said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.).

The GOP regularly complain that Obama is sitting on Keystone pipeline approvals. What the GOP seems to completely ignore is that the Keystone project is a privately owned piece of infrastructure, the value of which is uncertain, is not likely to create the jobs claimed, and whose integrity is questionable given the company’s history.

Continue reading…

Washington Post Editors Call Out Marco Rubio’s Crazy Right Wing Rhetoric on Climate Change

By Washington Post Editorial Board, Published: May 12
Opinion • Views: 18,242

I agree with the Washington Post editorial board on this - no serious national stage campaign can hope to take this stance and succeed. Marco Rubio’s managers have to know this so my assumption is that Rubio’s campaign is all puffery to raise money through “Palinesque” posturing. He’s going to tease all the way through the first part of the primaries so he can rake in the dough from the rubes to become not the king, but a kingmaker.

SEN. MARCO Rubio (Fla.), whom many presume to be a contender for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination, said two things Sunday about climate change. Only one could fit into a presidential campaign worth taking seriously.

“Our climate is always changing,” he said on ABC News’s “This Week.” “I do not believe that human activity is causing these dramatic changes to our climate the way these scientists are portraying it,” he went on to say, “and I do not believe that the laws that they propose we pass will do anything about it, except it will destroy our economy.” In previous interviews, at least Mr. Rubio acknowledged that “a significant scientific consensus” attributes measured global warming to human activity before he lodged various criticisms.

It is one thing to invite a debate about the best policy to address rising global temperatures, a problem no country can tackle on its own. It is another to dismiss the evidence that “these scientists” have compiled — “a handful of decades of research,” Mr. Rubio derisively called it — to show that humans are driving much of that warming.

More: Marco Rubio’s Rhetoric on Climate Change Casts Questions About His Judgment

Observations on Evasiveness, Featuring Glenn Greenwald

Revealing
Opinion • Views: 17,841

As Vladimir Putin shuts down dissenting media outlets, cracks down on dissidents and brings Europe to the brink of war, some observations on Glenn Greenwald’s very noticeable evasiveness when the subject turns to Russia’s propaganda machine:

Make of it what you will.

If You Read Down to Paragraph 18, You Discover That Glenn Greenwald’s Latest Article Has No Evidence

Extraordinary claims without extraordinary evidence, or any evidence at all, really
Opinion • Views: 17,861

Glenn Greenwald’s latest headline screams: How Covert Agents Infiltrate the Internet to Manipulate, Deceive, and Destroy Reputations.

But again we find the article itself does not support the almost comically paranoid headline, and again the source for the claim is a series of PowerPoint slides with very little detail and no context.

The documents appear to be British studies and training documents about online manipulation and social engineering techniques (also known as “trolling”), to be used internally by GCHQ. There is not a single shred of evidence in these documents to show that any GCHQ agent is “infiltrating” anything; no programs, no cases, no reports, nothing.

And Greenwald acknowledges this — but as usual, you have to read down to paragraph 18 after tons of overheated commentary to find it:

We submitted numerous questions to GCHQ, including: (1) Does GCHQ in fact engage in “false flag operations” where material is posted to the Internet and falsely attributed to someone else?; (2) Does GCHQ engage in efforts to influence or manipulate political discourse online?; and (3) Does GCHQ’s mandate include targeting common criminals (such as boiler room operators), or only foreign threats?

As usual, they ignored those questions and opted instead to send their vague and nonresponsive boilerplate: “It is a longstanding policy that we do not comment on intelligence matters. Furthermore, all of GCHQ’s work is carried out in accordance with a strict legal and policy framework which ensures that our activities are authorised, necessary and proportionate, and that there is rigorous oversight, including from the Secretary of State, the Interception and Intelligence Services Commissioners and the Parliamentary Intelligence and Security Committee. All our operational processes rigorously support this position.”

Yes, that’s correct — Greenwald does not know whether any of the techniques explained in these documents were ever used by GCHQ in the real world. There’s certainly no evidence of it in the PowerPoint slides he published here; so how can he justify the statement made by his headline?

But he actually goes even further in the conclusion to the article:

Claims that government agencies are infiltrating online communities and engaging in “false flag operations” to discredit targets are often dismissed as conspiracy theories, but these documents leave no doubt they are doing precisely that.

In reality, the documents show no proof — or even any evidence — that “government agencies” are infiltrating anything, but Greenwald has done his best to obscure this crucial point with his usual reams of exaggerated verbiage.

But I do have to admit it’s more than a little ironic that someone who was himself caught red-handed using sock puppets (false identities) to manipulate online communities is pointing fingers at “government agencies.”

Misleading, hyperbolic headlines totally unsupported by evidence — is this the future of journalism?

UPDATE at 2/25/14 1:54:06 pm

Bob Cesca points out another problem with generalizing and leaping to conclusions from PowerPoint slides:

Fred Kaplan at Slate: Edward Snowden Doesn’t Deserve Clemency

What to do with Edward Snowden should the Russians spit him out
Opinion • Views: 16,016

Slate’s Fred Kaplan is leaving the media reservation and telling it like it is about Edward Snowden and the push to grant him immunity from prosecution: Edward Snowden Doesn’t Deserve Clemency: The NSA Leaker Hasn’t Proved He Is a Whistleblower.

Is a clear picture emerging of why Snowden’s prospects for clemency resemble the proverbial snowball’s chance in hell? He gets himself placed at the NSA’s signals intelligence center in Hawaii for the sole purpose of pilfering extremely classified documents. (How many is unclear: I’ve heard estimates ranging from “tens of thousands” to 1.1 million.) He gains access to many of them by lying to his fellow workers (and turning them into unwitting accomplices). Then he flees to Hong Kong (a protectorate of China, especially when it comes to foreign policy) and, from there, to Russia.

This isn’t quite what it would have seemed in Cold War times. Russia and China are no longer our sworn ideological enemies. But in the realm of cyberconflict and cybersecurity, they are our chief adversaries; they hack, or try to hack, into American computer networks more than any other countries (and we hack, or try to hack, into theirs as well).

Did the Times editorialists review the statement that Snowden made to a human rights group in Moscow this past July, soon after Vladimir Putin granted him asylum? He thanked the nations that had offered him support. “These nations, including Russia, Venezuela, Bolivia, Nicaragua and Ecuador, have my gratitude and respect,” he proclaimed, “for being the first to stand against human rights violations carried out by the powerful.” Earlier, Snowden had said that he sought refuge in Hong Kong because of its “spirited commitment to free speech and the right of political dissent.” He also said, in his interview with the South China Morning Post, that he hoped to spread his cache of documents to journalists in every country where the NSA had operated. “The reality is,” he said on another occasion, “that I have acted at great personal risk to help the public of the world, regardless of whether that public is American, European, or Asian.”

Whistleblowers have large egos by nature, and there is no crime or shame in that. But one gasps at the megalomania and delusion in Snowden’s statements, and one can’t help but wonder if he is a dupe, a tool, or simply astonishingly naïve.

Or simply a libertarian.

Read the whole thing.

The Most Insane Holocaust/Nazi Analogies and References of the Year

Opinion • Views: 19,394

2013 saw quite a few politicians and prominent people abusing the English language, and specifically using the absurd argument that events and actions in the present are just like what Hitler and the Nazis did during the Holocaust. It’s Reductio ad Hitlerum and in the process it debases the terminology referring to the Holocaust and the Final Solution. These people have little understanding of history, let alone current events, and they conflate the two to suit their political objectives. Facts fall by the wayside. And the horror of the Holocaust is eroded in the process of making these absurd claims.

Just so we’re working from the same dictionary, here are some actual facts about the Nazis.

Despite the singular nature of the Nazi regime and the Holocaust, there are a whole lot of people who think that making analogies to the Holocaust is acceptable.

I’ve boiled the analogies down to four general themes - based mainly on the focus of the analogy.

The first deals with health care reform, otherwise known as Obamacare or the Affordable Care Act.

Continue reading…

How I Figured Out That Lee Harvey Oswald Killed JFK

by Marc Ambinder
Opinion • Views: 18,173

How I figured out that Lee Harvey Oswald killed JFK
by Marc Ambinder

Confession: I am a JFK assassination buff. I never much liked the term, but it describes me well. I’ve read just about every book ever published on the assassination, watched every documentary, mock trial, and dramatization. And for a long time, until about 14 years ago, I was a conspiracy theory believer. Too many loose ends. Too many coincidences of propinquity. And since I had no understanding of physics, or ballistics, or medicine, or of the world, really, I was fascinated with Oliver Stone’s enormously influential JFK. I remember writing somewhere, and bear in mind I was 14 at the time, that the third act scene with “Mr. X” was one of the most dramatic moments in modern film history. That might have been true to a kid who hadn’t scene many movies and who had no idea how awful New Orleans prosecutor Jim Garrison actually was, or how utterly absurd his theories were.

Lee Harvey Oswald

A year later, the day that Gerald Posner’s Case Closed came out, I remember sitting in my high school library waiting for my chance to page through U.S News and World Report, which was serializing the chapter on the “single bullet.” I was nervous. Part of me didn’t want to read a book that concluded something that was precisely the opposite of what I believed. But, clearly, I wasn’t totally convinced, because I wanted to read it in the first place.

I took the magazine and began to read. I can pinpoint the moment when my blinders came off, when my childhood assassination conspiracy fantasies dissolved. Posner pointed out that (a) the president’s row of seats inside the presidential limousine were built to be higher than the row of seats where Gov. John Connally and his wife Nellie would sit; and (b) all the photographs of the motorcade entering Dealy Plaza showed Connally sitting closer to Nellie, away from the edge of the car.

Continue reading at The Week.

Greenwald’s Shock News of the Day: The US Spies on Foreign Leaders

Gasp
Opinion • Views: 13,050

Josh Marshall has it about right: Ok, Please, Enough.

Churning through countless domestic phone calls is one thing - that has very real constitutional implications. It may be a similar thing with doing that in Spain or other countries in Europe and the Middle East, though the constitutional questions are very different. But please, please spare me the shock and surprise that the US spies on foreign leaders, even allies, even close allies. These countries spy on our leaders too. The only real exception is within the special club of the US, UK, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where, for a variety of historical reasons, a pretty different set of rules and integration apply.

Now, as a domestic political matter, I totally understand why these European leaders are freaked. It’s a big problem for them domestically when it’s laid out so baldly in front of everyone. Beyond national security issues, this will likely take a real economic toll on the US. So I’m not surprised at the reaction. I don’t begrudge it. But the tenor of the reporting in the US is frankly bizarre, either totally tendentious or wildly naive.

The disruption that Marshall mentions in the second paragraph is, of course, exactly what Greenwald intends with these continuing NSA stories. By publicly embarrassing the leaders of Spain, Germany, etc., he forces them to make statements to address the public outcry — which usually ends up making them look even worse.

Meanwhile, Greenwald continues to deny even the possibility that his reckless pseudo-journalism might be causing real harm to national security — not just America’s national security, but all of the countries he’s pulling into his little super-villain ego-driven melodrama.

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 Frank says:

The formal structure of "You Didn't Try to Call Me" is not revolutionary, but it is interesting. You don't care. -- Liner notes for "You Didn't Try to Call Me" on "Freak Out!"