Secret Wars in the Internet Age

Last week, Jeremy Scahill had a huge story detailing the secret operations being conducted in Pakistan by the Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC) and the private military outfit formerly known as Blackwater. The operations are primarily assassinations and kidnappings (“snatch and grabs”) of high-value targets. The agreement with Pakistan to allow for this to go on was allegedly done with the Pakistani government reserving the right to deny that they made any type of agreement at all.

Not surprisingly, this story is making things difficult for the Pakistani government. Pakistan’s interior minister has promised to resign if it’s true that Blackwater is operating there. Similar to Mexico, allowing for American troops to operate within the country is a major line that the public is reluctant to see crossed. Hillary Clinton got a taste of this when she last visited there.

Much of the illogic of what we’re doing in Pakistan echoes past failures in waging the drug war. In that “war”, we’ve tended to believe that we can just knock off a bunch of high-value targets and we win. This is how the drug war has been fought overseas for decades. We’ve even tolerated secret operations where American forces have become part of the drug trade in order to capture the head honcho, only to see the whole damn trade re-organize under a new head honcho. The lesson has been that you can’t eliminate the trade unless you deal with the underlying demand that drives the trade in the first place.

When it comes to terrorism, that underlying demand comes from anti-American sentiment. And in both Afghanistan and Pakistan, the enemies we’re fighting benefit from both that and drugs. The idea that we can defeat them by doing things that will increase anti-American sentiment (while doing nothing about the underlying demand for drugs) is dangerously foolish. Any time we take out a high-value target in a way that increases the level of radicalism among the Pakistanis, these organizations will simply re-organize under a new leader and continue the war. But that’s exactly what we’re doing, and it’s exactly what a number of people blindly accept as the ideal foreign policy move.

That’s why so many of these idiots are upset that Obama didn’t talk about “winning” or using the word “victory” in his speech at West Point. Obama, for his faults in this escalation, at least understands that Afghanistan is not a video game that you win after killing all the bad guys. There’s no such thing as “victory” in an occupation, just a long hard slog to improve stability. You “win” by convincing the people of that nation that your presence there is beneficial for them, or that your presence is temporary and that they will soon be autonomous again.

What becomes difficult for politicians in wars like this is that they genuinely fear being seen in conflict with those on the front lines in this war, regardless of its futility. The Obama Administration is no different, and their unwillingness to be seen as rejecting what the military wants is going to override everything else. That’s leading them down a dangerous path, both in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and his intent to continue this conflict without increasing anti-American sentiment will be a significant challenge. And nothing can undermine that challenge more than believing that we can fight it under the cover of darkness. Those days are over.

Comments

  1. 1

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Now that’s interesting Lee… Hillary Clinton went on Deface the Nation with Bob “I’m a Progressive” Schieffer and she mentioned

    Pakistan’s civilian and military leadership have had a significant change in attitudes about fighting terrorists.

    As George S Patton said

    Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory.

    And Lee thinks that speech inspired “leadership”?

    George S Patton said

    Americans play to win at all times. I wouldn’t give a hoot and hell for a man who lost and laughed. That’s why Americans have never lost nor ever lose a war.

    Well that last sentence could change soon.

    And George S Patton said

    No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.

  2. 2

    Daddy Love spews:

    The real lesson is that you shouldn’t invade and occupy other countries. The local inhabitants are strangely annoyed by such goings-on, to the extent that they will implacably oppose and fight the hated occupiers until they leave.

    Outside of the outright annexation of contiguous territory, usually followed by ethnic cleansing), this has never worked.

  3. 4

    SJ TrollPatrol (c)2009 spews:

    @2 Daddy Love …

    Outside of the outright annexation of contiguous territory, usually followed by ethnic cleansing), this has never worked.

    ..Roman Empire
    ..Australia
    ..America
    ..Islamic Expansion
    ..British Empire
    ..Spanish EWmpire
    ..Ashoka, Alexander??????????

  4. 5

    SJ TrollPatrol (c)2009 spews:

    Lee’s Demons

    Lee’s world seems occupied by demons. This time it is the military.

    In my own times I seem to remember generals and admirals whom sought peace .. Eisenhower, Marshall, Zumwalt Powell as well as the MacArthgurs, Pattons and Lemays. Was WWII fought by a nazi corporal?

    Ultimately it seems to me that the issue in OUR democracy is not the men in soldier suits but the politicians … including peaceniks and chickenhawks.

    As for the CIA in Pakistan, who does Lee want there? Maybe he thinks the radical muslims would like help from his marijuana crusaders?

    Part of the mutual understanding we need with Pakistanis may discomfort our potheaded Thehimster. If Lee thinks James Imhoff, Sarah Palin and Pope Benedict are insane about pot and suicide, Lee better look out for the Imans. Is Lee ready to use uniformed US troops to oust women from schools and ban alcohol?

  5. 6

    Daddy Love spews:

    4 sj

    Well, “never” is kind of strong. But the experience of the 20th century is the controlling guidance. I would say that pre-mass communication examples are not.

    BTW, Alexander’s “empire” fell apart the moment he died.

  6. 7

    Daddy Love spews:

    4 sj

    Do you think that keeping women in schools is the most worthwhile use of United States military power?

  7. 9

    spews:

    Fighting an insurgency differs from conventional warfare in a number of very important ways pursuant to exactly this.

    Most obviously, rarely are troops in a conventional war motivated primarily by ideology or a literal desire to defeat an enemy. They tend to be uniformed regulars that fight who and when they are ordered. Targeted assassination can work in such circumstances because the next person in command may not agree with the goals of the campaign. It does not work for an insurgency or a resistance movement because the combatants are motivated either by ideology or local self interest rather than by duty to a commander.

    Axiomatically, one can only kill or befriend an enemy. The problem here is that the enemy is not an administration or a government but a large population of like minded, similarly motivated individuals and it’s simply not practical, nor just to try and kill all of them. That leaves only one option.

  8. 11

    Marvin Stamn spews:

    10. my ancestors came from Europe spews:

    Just click on my handle link and see..

     
    Sorry, I don’t follow the orders of left-wingnuts that live off their wives.
     
    My ancestors came from the planet Lovetron. My family was in the business of interplanetary funkmanship, and I became a musician. Go figure.

  9. 12

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Daddy Love…

    That was a movie? Maybe WWII was a movie to Daddy Love…

    Yeah and Climate Change is the “sequel”?

  10. 13

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Do you think that keeping women in schools is the most worthwhile use of United States military power?

    Another sexist comment from the “progressive mind of Daddy Love.

  11. 14

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Just click on my handle link and see..

    Is that becuz nobody pays attention to ylb arschloch so you need to direct attention to your sorry unemployed ASS.

    Still stupid and unemployed this Sunday December 6th 2009. You make morons and idiots look smart.

  12. 15

    Zotz spews:

    I’m giving the President the benefit of the doubt.

    Though he could never say so publically, I think the real action is in and totally about Pakistan. We would probably have left already if it were not for Pakistan’s nucs, that the Taliban own western Pakistan and the destabilization of Pakistan that entails.

    My hunch is the real objective of the Afghan “surge” is to seal off Taliban activity in the border area from Pakistan, then crush the Taliban in Pakistan or seriously knock them down such that they are willing to negotiate a political settlement.

    I’ll be following reports from Scahill closely…

  13. 17

    YLB spews:

    11 – too bad you won’t click – it’s proof positive of yet another right wing liar. You might have learned something – oh I forget, you’re willfully ignorant.. zzzzzZZZZ.. what a loser..

    14 – zzzZZZZZzz… typical refrain from a proven liar..

    be back in a week to taunt your losing asses!

  14. 18

    spews:

    Daddy Love

    “Alexander’s “empire” fell apart the moment he died.”

    Tell that too the Seleucids and Ptolomeys.

    Axs for the 2th century … that is rather recent history but I think the US still rules from sea to shining sea, China is bigger than ever, India is still governed by one natinal government, etc.

  15. 19

    spews:

    @7 DL

    Do you think that keeping women in schools is the most worthwhile use of United States military power?

    Depends on which women they are. I would fight for kjmy daughter.

  16. 21

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Yes your are sad and pathetic headless. How many names are you going to keep using on HA?

  17. 22

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Yes, SJ Patton was a “loon” to leftist loons.

    Rommel SJ?

    In mid-February, II Corps under General Fredenhall, suffered a horrible defeat by Field Marshall Erwin Rommell’s German forces at the Kaserine Pass. Patton was given his third star, and given command of all American forces in North Africa. II Corps men were demoralized and beaten, and Patton “whipped them into shape”. One month later, they soundly defeated Rommel’s army in battle after battle moving across Tunisia. Though, by that time, Patton had been given command of Seventh Army, to prepare them for the invasion of Sicily.

    “Patton was loved by many, and hated by many, and usually misunderstood by all. Eisenhower, one of the few men that really understood Patton, knew that tough shell was really a bluff, and said of him, “Patton’s besetting sin was softheartedness.”

    As his reputation as a soldier, the fitting epitaph comes from one that could speak without prejudice…Field Marshall Karl Gerd von Rundstedt, Commander in Chief of all of the German Armies during the Battle of the Bulge, during an interview for Stars and Stripes magazine said of Patton, “Patton, he iss your best!””

    Yes SeattleJew, another useless historical fact of yours ridiculed!

  18. 23

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    zzzZZZZZzz… typical refrain from HA’s proven arschloch…

    Pitied by all of us who think right, ignored by most all HA Libtardos. Being a monomaniacal chronologically challenged unemployed idiot doesn’t inspire those on your side to communicate the fool AKA ylb arschloch!

  19. 24

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    SJ,

    Patton Movie? Check your historical quotes on Patton dude! You forgot Patton was an Olympian too!

  20. 25

    ArtFart spews:

    @15 You’re right…the main show’s in Pakistan now, and perhaps always was, if the original objective was to get bin Laden and his pals. Then again, since the middle of the last century at least, the United States has had something of a problem keeping track of objectives after the shooting has started.

  21. 26

    ArtFart spews:

    It would seems to make a degree of sense to send a few thugs to go whack a few thugs. It’s certainly more, shall we say, proportionate to the task at hand than to send a hundred thousand, whether or not most of ‘em get sent in the wrong direction. (What the hell were we supposed to be doing in Iraq, anyway?)

    Everyone who really knows anything about fighting terrorists (which would include nobody in the Bush cadre of luminaries) has been saying over and over again that the whole “war on terror” idea is bogus. Just to start with, a huge army is good for a lot of things, but sneaking up on a rabble of a few hundred ain’t one of them.

    On the other hand, the Blackwater folks (or however they’ve rebranded themselves) haven’t shown themselves to be particularly competent at anything other than extracting exhorbitant payments from Uncle Sam and shooting holes in the wrong people. Why Obama hasn’t taken them off the “preferred providers” list escapes me.

  22. 27

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    You can still win wars by depriving the enemy of the means and will to fight. No matter how much will an enemy has, he can’t fight without means — just ask Adolf ca. April 30, 1945. Depriving Al Qaeda of their camps in Afghanistan, killing or capturing their leaders, busting up their organization, interdicting their financial transactions, and killing or capturing their foot soldiers will, at the very least, make it difficult (if not impossible) to carry out offensive operations (i.e., terrorist attacks). Which makes it worth doing, because if we don’t do it, they’ll attack us again.

  23. 28

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    How about we just go back to minding our own business? Then maybe these Islamic fanatics wouldn’t have a reason to want to conduct terrorist attacks on the US.

  24. 29

    czechsaaz spews:

    Puddy, the self proclaimed student of history, doesn’t remember that WWII was vastly different that invading a sovreign country.

    Deluded, ignorant, fool.

  25. 30

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @28 Such forebearance is asking too much of the rapacious plutocrats who own our government lock, stock, and barrel.

  26. 31

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @29 I have absolutely no problem with our invading Afghanistan after 9/11. And calling Afghanistan a “sovereign nation” is a stretch. “Afghanistan” is merely a geographical designation on a map denoting a land area that has no government and is occupied by several tribal groups who, generally speaking, don’t get along with each other. But these are technicalities. The big picture here is that you are absolutely correct in describing puddinghead as a “deluded, ignorant, fool.” But why did you leave out “tool”? He is, above all else, a tool.

  27. 32

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Puddybutter forgets the war of 1812, The War of Jenkins Ear, Korea, Viet Nam, and the Reagan bug out from Beruit, and just to be fair, Clinton’s disaster in Somalia, and further overlooks the long established meme that the South “fought with greater spirt” but the North just had the industrial capacity, yadda, yadda, yadda…and those inept, heartless thugs fighting to eliminate slavery won in spite of themselves.

    But really, Patton? The guy who slapped enlisted men? The Patton who vehemently opposed denazification? The Patton who, luckily for him, died on his way to hunt pheasants shortly after the war and before Truman would most likely have fired him sooner or later, much like he did MacArthur? Brilliant general, but kind of a lunatic? That Patton?

  28. 33

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @28: That would require a complete about face wrt our policy toward Israel……and ending our support for monarchical thugs masquerading as “sheiks” who overlord vast oil wealth in, for example, Saudi Arabia, etc.

  29. 35

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    29. czechsaaz spews: Absolutely nuthin relevant. We’re talking about inspiring soldiers through leadership. If you can’t figger that out you are one lost moron.

    Wait a minute… Mike Rogers comes to mind… You ARE one lost moron!

  30. 36

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Roger Dumb Bunny… Puddy brought up a general who inspired others. Eisenhower understood about inspiring men in war. The Patton who killed Mexican Banditos. The Patton who won Africa against Rommel. The Patton who formed the Army Tank Corps. The Patton who went to the Olympics.

    All the other crap you diarrhead in your post are worthless, useless smelly pellets.

    Puddy may be a tool but Mrs Puddy loves using Puddy’s tool. A Craftsman, guaranteed for life… What is Mrs Rabbit using Roger Dumb Bunny?

  31. 37

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    @36, the humble Pudbutter proclaims: “Puddy may be a tool but Mrs Puddy loves using Puddy’s tool. A Craftsman, guaranteed for life…”

    A classic!!! Guaranteed for life? WhoHa!!!! Who sez? Craftsman gonna’ replace it when it breaks?….well, the laugh lines are well nigh endless for this one.

    Puddybud…straightman (theme for another riff). This is too much. Everybody should bookmark this classic. El stupendo!

  32. 38

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    For an ASS you really are an ASS. God created me Fool. God is the Master Craftsman, guaranteed for life.

    For Puddy to have to explain it to you proves how much of an ASS you are.

    Moronic and Idiotic. Stupid too!

  33. 39

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    What’s going on in Pakistan is trivial compared to the attempts by wingnut global warming deniers to wreck the entire planet! Don’t get me wrong, I don’t mind if they kill themselves off, I just don’t to go with them. What I’m leading up to is that “Memogate” is their fault.

    Lane Wallace, writing in The Atlantic, says, “”The incident raises interesting questions about the impact of divisive political debate on its participants.” She argues the East Anglia University scientists’ e-mails reveal a bunker mentality “developed over too many years of attacks on their data and its import.”

    And that, of course, is the fault of the irrational, anti-science, special-interest-coddling rightwing blowhards who attacked them.

    http://correspondents.theatlan.....bunker.php

  34. 40

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @38 Maybe you should be pissed that God created you a fool. I’d at least want to know why. I thank the Great Mother Rabbit Spirit I’m a rabbit and not a stupid human! I point to you and say to my kids, “Be thankful for what you’ve got! There, but for the grace of the GMRS, goes you!”

  35. 41

    proud leftist spews:

    Proud @ 37
    I must agree with you. Puddy’s post is a classic. Bookmark the nonsense. His egotism exceeds that which any psychologist would characterize as delusions of grandeur. Puddy, has it ever crossed your mind that you don’t know what the fuck you’re talking about?

  36. 42

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Proud Leftist,

    Egotism? Not at all fool! Puddy Glad God created himself! You not glad God created yourself Proud Leftist? Did Satan create you then? Amazing… You are Amazing Proud Leftist.

    At least Puddy didn’t name an award after himself like you did with the – “Golden Goat”.

    Bwaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaa haaaaaa haaaaaaa haaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaa haaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaa haaaaaaaaaa

    Remember Proud Leftist, Roger and checkaaz called Puddy a Tool!

  37. 43

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Roger Dumb Bunny,

    Why would Puddy be pissed Roger Dumb Bunny? In the future God’s Son will come back to claim His own. You have no where to go Roger Dumb Bunny. You claim some Mother Rabbit created you. That’s who you pray too. Puddy knows God created him.

    See ya!

  38. 44

    proud leftist spews:

    Puddy,
    Your post at 42 is rather incoherent. If you are lobbying for the next Golden Goat Award (which would be your third if I recall correctly), the award committee would have to consider whether insanity is a bar to getting the award. Off hand, I’m going to have to guess that insanity, incompetence, and those sorts of mental states, would not be a bar as most of those still proudly proclaiming to be Republicans (or teabaggers or Palinites or whatever) would fit the contemporary diagnosis of insane. Nonetheless, Puddy, I love you. I understand that your faults are not your fault. Someone (or some ideology) over which you have no control did this to you.

  39. 45

    ArtFart spews:

    @32 There’s a case to be made that to be a great general, or for that matter a good soldier, one must be a little crazy. Simply put, the business that soldiers are in (I believe it’s called “war”) is inherently insane. In fact, it’s about the most insane thing in all of human experience.

    This is not to say that participants in a war aren’t often placed in a position to exhibit great acts of nobility–but that’s like a lovely rose growing in a pile of fetid shit. War itself, the sending of young men and women off someplace to slaughter one another because a couple of impotent old dorks couldn’t agree about something, is inherently absurd.

  40. 46

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Proud Leftist ,

    Puddy is not lobbying for an award. Puddy’s post was very coherent. Puddy pointed out the Golden Goat Award was created by you… the Golden Goat of the HA Leftists. Clear as crystal pristine water.

    For a son of a preacher you are a goat when it comes to Bible texts – Matthew 10:32 says “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven.” (also see Revelation 3:5) Puddy acknowledges God authorship in my creation in front of all HA peeps. You can’t and won’t acknowledge that. EPIC FAIL for a preacher man’s son! You are the Golden Goat, AGAIN!

    The rest of your “rant” is irrelevant, worthy of your namesake award.

  41. 47

    Steve spews:

    Lots of crazed holier-than-thou wingnuts like Puddy are wrapping themselves in George C. Scott’s, er, Patton’s flag of late. What’s up with that?

  42. 48

    Steve spews:

    “Puddy is not lobbying”

    Please realize, you third-person, faux ebonics spewing fool, that you lobby for the Golden Goat with your every insipid post.

  43. 49

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Steve,

    Amazing, you Steve don’t even know what Patton really said as “quotes” versus what George Scott emphasized in the movie. Typical leftist pinhead.

    Maybe we on the right should create the HA Historical Golden Moron award. You are a prime candidate.

  44. 50

    Steve spews:

    There you go again, Puddy, making shit up. Where did I write about anything about what Patton or Scott ever said? You know, of course, that there’s been comment recently about wingnut Patton Obsession Syndrome coupled with wingnut confusion or delusion regarding the Patton depicted on screen by Scott and the real Patton – and here you go projecting that whole wingnut psycho-load on me! That’s just too much Puddy-shit to take on at this early hour. Anyways, made up shit followed by the usual infantile namecalling and projection. I worry about you, Puddy. Your already feeble mind seems to be deteriorating.

  45. 51

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Making things up Steve, when you wrote…

    Lots of crazed holier-than-thou wingnuts like Puddy are wrapping themselves in George C. Scott’s

    Dummy. Puddy brought up Patton. It’s you and your ilk who focus on George C. Scott… Then you immediately forget your reference… Puddy delivered two well written biographies above and what did your ilk write… “It was a movie.” Puddy gave your ilk the links to his actual quotes and what did your ilk write… “It was a movie.”

    Rest of your rant irrelevant, worthy of a Proud Leftist… er, Golden Goat award! Steve, historically deficient in many things.

    Steve, habitually crazed leftist progressive!

    Nuff said sucka!

  46. 53

    ArtFart spews:

    @38 Puddy, you were indeed created by God in His perfect image and likeness, not as a fool.

    This means…..(imitating Lee Marvin’s voice here) you, sir…are a self-made man.

  47. 54

    Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Hey ArtFart,

    Ain’t you one of those HA Libtardo Atheists? So how would you understand how Adam’s sin has marred God’s perfect image?

  48. 56

    Steve spews:

    55. Puddybud Remembers Progressives Forget spews:

    Steve,

    Thank you. You proved Puddy’s point!

    Sigh! Puddy, the only point you’ve made here is that you’re dumber than a stump.

  49. 57

    ArtFart spews:

    @54 “Ain’t you one of those HA Libtardo Atheists?”

    Well, no. I’d be willing to wager my IQ is even higher than yours would have been even if your Mommy hadn’t dropped you on your head, and I’m an adult-convert Catholic…which means I chose my faith, instead of just going along with what my folks told me to do.

    “So how would you understand how Adam’s sin has marred God’s perfect image?”

    Sorry, pal…the Book of Genesis wasn’t meant to provide a way for you to let yourself off the hook. Take some responsibility, like you keep telling the rest of us to do.

  50. 58

    spews:

    @22 Patton

    Patton was a loser in the same sense that anyine who fails to get the job is a loser. he lest his post in the Army in disgrace after being passed over by Eisenhower and Marshall. Patton was, unlike you, in that his God created a very imperfect man.

    There isa place for p-atton, in the field much like the CIA needs henchmen. BUT, it would be ainine to use James Bind to run the CIA.

    Do you think George Scott’s character would have made a great replacement for Ike?

  51. 59

    Gordon spews:

    @3 “Um, that was a movie.”

    Ha ha! Very good point. And a pretty good film at that. I always liked the end scene of the movie.

    “For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph – a tumultuous parade. In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him. Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot, or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown, and whispering in his ear a warning: That all glory is fleeting.”

    Sic Transit Gloria…