Dirty Wars: The World is a Battlefield, Jeremy Scahill, Part 1.
Jeremy Scahill begins his book, Dirty Wars, by confirming that
Bush-Cheney-Rumsfield cherry-picked intelligence to justify their
disastrous invasion of Iraq, an intention formed well before 9/11.
The infamous attack served only as an excuse for their “imperial”
ambitions. Interesting that these three chicken hawks, an
almost compulsory resume item for the whole administration, took up
an especially macho obsession with war and black ops, secret, usually
violent and ethically challenged operations. Their projects involved
lawless behavior completely at odds with the smug rhetoric these same
actors routinely used for public relations purposes. In fact their
behavior is exactly what they claim to be fighting against. Just as
their compliant lawyers were tasked with justifying an invasion of
Iraq where no justification existed, the same clever dudes were asked
to explain how torture and murder are not torture and murder.
What they were justifying was, indeed, indistinguishable from Mafia
Inc.'s style of exercising power except in scale, much larger. The
cabal that got us into Iraq seems as interested in power and money as
their colleagues in organized crime. Neither “team” seems however
to ever get enough money or power so we can probably assume an
addictive component also.
The macho approach, according to Scahill's research, may have
momentarily titillated top administration officials, but nearly
always produced results the opposite of claimed intent. Or the focus
was so narrow that outcome was guaran-damned-teed to create chaos and
demonstrate the truth of the dictum that violence begets violence.
Supporting warlords in Somalia with weapons and funding in exchange
for their assassination services was both obviously immoral and
ineffective, since they murdered virtually anyone, target-list or
not, for the money... they played the U.S. as anyone would expect a
gangster to do. So the consequences are there to be seen in Somalia
today, a very different place than it might have been. Al Qaeda and
Islamic fundamentalism were strengthened rather than defeated by
So in Afghanistan, a list of Al Qaeda and Taliban leaders to be
captured or killed grew into a list of thousands, most of whom had no
previous relationship to either. The ruthless pursuit of this kill list alienated the population such that enemies
grew exponentially, both in Afghanistan and Iraq. The world could
probably be added to that list, or at least anywhere U.S. forces
operated. Early in the book the radicalization of a moderate Islamic
leader, a U.S. citizen, is sketched, a radicalization essentially
brought about by these same mindless macho tactics.
JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) was special all right, a
military unit whose original function was to provide a versatile,
small unit for little military incursions for the president. It grew
out of the failed Iran hostage rescue operation. A little place in
Texas called Waco received a friendly visit from JSOC. This was the
core out of which the White House macho team created its secret dark
ops, and capture/kill lists, drawing personnel from Army Rangers,
Green Berets, British Commandos and Navy Seals. Another unit provided
more outlet for bottled up chicken hawk energy, JPRA (Joint Personnel
Recovery Agency). Surprisingly they didn't rename it SS – maybe too
much of a tell.
JPRA had one handy set of particular skills: they were expert in
torture techniques so as to train U.S. troops in resisting them. All
that was needed was to reverse engineer the program and voila, back
to the middle ages. Now we knew what to do with Sadaam's torture
chambers. Incorporated into JSOC, the unit could now spend 14 hour
days capturing and interrogating “suspects”, 70 – 90% of whom
they KNEW were completely innocent. Yet they subjected all to the
same gruesome medieval horrors practiced, in U.S. mythology, only by
bad guys like Stalin or those barbaric Japanese of World War II.,
Nazis and other official enemies. The credibility of the U.S., to the
degree that it had any, was severely undermined by these decisions
and by the patently false denial at the highest level. Recall George
W Bush's shameless statement, “The U.S. does not torture.” JSOC
commander, General Billy McCrystal contributed also by denying in his
memoirs the lawless behavior that he oversaw. Ironically McCrystal
was opposed to the invasion of Iraq, seeing what the chicken hawks
could or would not. Colin Powell also, though hardly a dove, opposed
the macho posturing of the inner circle. Thus JSOC was partially a
work-around, reporting directly to Rumsfield-Cheney, avoiding the
“softies” in the upper echelons of the military and the need to
report to congress had they used the agency normally at home in that
world, the CIA.
JSOC's first interrogation center, NAMA, was at a Saddam-era military
base outside Baghdad. It became the model for Abu Graib and other
“facilities” along with other dark sites around the globe. The
model then trickled, in small or greater measure, out to the larger
military operations. You may not have a need-to-know what went on in
these “camps” and you probably don't want to know, yet,
since it was all done in our name we are implicated and perhaps need
to face up to it. We certainly should stop it.
At this point I am 200 pages into a 524 page book so... more to come.
The book does not evade the fact that the U.S. has a genuine “enemy”
and it does not, so far at least, address the question of why. It
makes clear however that the methods used to attempt resolution only
exacerbated the problem. These methods are the same ones utilized by
previous colonial powers whenever their subjects began to resist
occupation. The unsavory was necessary, in the oppressor's view, to
preserve their privileged, inequitable domination.
Can this “enemy” be defeated militarily? Doesn't look like an
affordable project. Can this “enemy” be brought into dialogue for
win-win outcome? Not if our goal remains domination.