Strategery Fail

An exmple of failed US Strategery

U.S. Soldier cradling a dead Iraqi child



I did not—repeat DID NOT—ghost write the Der Spiegel article referred to below, notwithstanding that it comports 100% with what I’ve written about the failed Iraq War strategery in various fora since 2002. (Strategery is a word coined by the writers at Saturday Night Live, enunciated by the actor Will Ferrell to satirize the cognitive foibles of our former Commander in Chief, George. W. What Me Worry Bush. Apologies to Mad Magazine‘s Alfred E, Neuman).

The highlights of the  article are presented by Huffington Post’ Matt Ferner in Monday’s article titled: Former Military Chief: Iraq War Was A ‘Failure’ That Helped Create ISIS, which begins:

Retired Lt. General Michael Flynn, former U.S. special forces commander in Iraq and Afghanistan who was the country’s highest ranking military intelligence official, says that the George W. Bush administration’s Iraq war was a tremendous blunder that helped to create the self-proclaimed Islamic State, or ISIS.

“It was a huge error,” Flynn said about the Iraq war in a detailed interview with German newspaper Der Spiegel published Sunday.

“As brutal as Saddam Hussein was, it was a mistake to just eliminate him,” Flynn went on to say. “The same is true for Moammar Gadhafi and for Libya, which is now a failed state. The historic lesson is that it was a strategic failure to go into Iraq. History will not be and should not be kind with that decision.”

When told by Der Spiegel reporters Matthias Gebauer and Holger Stark that the Islamic State would not “be where it is now without the fall of Baghdad,” Flynn, without reservations, said: “Yes, absolutely.”


Full disclosure: I am not a brilliant military analyst pulling down a hefty six figure salary to write position papers for a leftie think thank squirrelled away somewhere near Foggy Bottom with a view of the Pentagon. I never served in the military, nor do I have close confidants employed in the intelligence industrial complex. Though I have had a lifelong interest in the military and military strategy, beginning with my reading of Robin Moore’s The Green Berets and A General’s Story (about General Omar Bradley, General of the Army from D-Day to the end of WW 2) when I was in my early teens, all my studies and insights and been derived from the public record.


So, having someone with background of Michael Flynn confirm my critique of the USA’s military and foreign policy is heartening, to say the least. It actually gives me hope that, eventually, US policy makers will finally get a clue about the futility of trying to maintain worn out strategery tropes like:  Might makes right, Manifest Destiny, and American Exceptionalism.


Meanwhile, media networks and politicians continue to hire for their “expert” opinions many of the same thoroughly discredited hacks who helped lie our country into catastrophic wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, wars directly responsible for today’s expanded conflicts. It’s like re-employing the surgeon who mistakenly amputated your healthy limb to amputate the actual diseased one. Sooner or later, he’s bound to get it right.

W's failed What Me Worry strategery

What, me worry?


McCain: Pallin’ Around With Terrarists?

Jon Stewart reviews another thrilling episode of the action-adventure  series, “McCain”

Obie Grump Kanobi, as Stewart calls our favorite galavanting action star and former POW, Senator John McCain (Warmonger-Az), has never seen an international conflict where US military forces shouldn’t just stay the fuck home.

As pointed out here about McCain in Tales From The Benghazi Crypt Keeper:

Just as he has never gotten over being tortured by the North Vietnamese, manifest in his ‘bomb the hell out of ‘em’ knee-jerk response to nearly every foreign policy crisis, he will never get over losing to The Black Man in The White House.

Early in President Obama’s first term, McCain beat the war drums on Iran. During the Arab Spring, he demanded that our default response be to arm every opposition group in sight, despite the fact that many of them are Islamic fundamentalists with Al Qaeda sympathies. The strategy of “leading from behind” that operated so effectively in overthrowing Libya’s Mohamar Qadaffi, costing not a single American life, makes McCain’s wrinkled and liver spotted skin crawl right off his malformed skeleton. (That skeletal malformation was the result of a crash landing he endured after being shot down over heavily populated Hanoi by the Vietnamese during one of his 23 bombing sorties.) This is a guy who really, really enjoys the smell of napalm in the morning.

The political point being that arming anyone and everyone who mouths the word “democracy” is not necessarily a trusted ally; that weapons provided to today’s “freedom fighters” won’t be used by anti-US forces tomorrow, a  point that Stewart drives home. (See, e.g. the Muhajadeen in Afghanistan, who we armed to fight the Soviets but who later morphed into today’s Al Qaeda and Taliban.)

In the clip above, one of the vaunted Syrian rebel commanders photographed with McCain during his secret trip to Syria (designed to undermine President Obama’s cautious foreign policy?) appears to be the same guy who kidnapped 11 Shiite religious pilgrims in Lebanon. That would, of course, make him a terrorist, assuming he uses the ransom money to buy weapons.

During the 2008 presidential election, McCain’s hand chosen VP candidate, Sarah Palin, accused Obama of “pallin’ around with terrorists.” This was an apparent reference to Obama’s acquaintance with former Weather Underground co-founder, Bill Ayers, who happened to be a professor at the University of Illinois at the same time Obama was teaching law there.

McCain seems to be as oblivious to irony as he is to critical judgment. A dangerous combination for someone who seems to have an open invitation from the Sunday morning talk show “public affairs” programmers, who regularly offer him a platform from which he can inflict his warmongering bias upon their considerable audience.  

To be fair, McCain seems to be somewhat saner on domestic matters. However, when his carefully self-cultivated image as a political Maverick is seriously challenged by the extreme right wing of the GOP, as it was on the issue of immigration when it could have determined his most recent re-election to the Senate,  he will default to doing whatever it takes to maintain his political survival.

For someone who has so much invested in the legend of his own mind, the image of him as the Crypt Keeper is, well, a keeper.

Mitt Romney: Asshole In Chief Wanna-Be

Mitt Romney Asshole In Chief wanna-be and Former Failed Massachusetts Governor

“The ability to destroy a planet is insignificant next to the power of the force.”
—D. Vader

From Friday’s Fux News Interview with Brett Baier:

BAIER: To hear several speakers in Charlotte … they were essentially saying that you don’t care about the U.S. military because you didn’t mention U.S. troops and the war in Afghanistan in your nomination acceptance speech. … Do you regret opening up this line of attack, now a recurring attack, by leaving out that issue in the speech?

ROMNEY: I only regret you’re repeating it day in and day out. Heh. Heh, Heh. When you give a speech you don’t go through a laundry list, you talk about the things that you think are important— and I described in my speech, my commitment to a strong military unlike the president’s decision to cut our military.  And I didn’t use the word “troops,” I used the word “military.”  I think they refer to the same thing.

Reading between the lines:

ROMNEY: What’s so important about “the troops”?  They’re just little cogs in the larger military machine, which includes a lot of laundry, I’ll admit.  Heck, if their parents had been smarter, had earned enough money, or inherited bundles of it like me and my kids, they could have avoided the draft, like I did by being a religious recruiter.  Try recruiting a bunch of French winos into a dry faith like mine. Now, that’s “hard work,” as my Republican predecessor would say.  Or they could have gone to college without having to join the service at all.  That’s for the other one percent. Heh. Heh. Heh.

As for Afghanistan, they know what they signed up for and they’ll get their just rewards without any mention from me.  Now, I know what you’re going to ask me next:  Do I support the Ryan plan to cut 1.3 million vets from VA Care?  Heck yes!  That $6 billion a year!  How else are we going to pay for all those new tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, and new weapon systems?  Paul and I are fiscal conservatives, after all.  If the “troops” need help paying their hospital bills, they can always just borrow it from their parents.

Did I mention that I look forward to ordering the troops around as their asshole in chief? That’s what I do best. It’s a gift, really. You now what my nickname in prep school was? Mittens Scissors Hands. Heh. Heh. Heh. But it’s not like I never wore a uniform. Back in my Stanford days, I used to dress up as a police officer and scare the willies out my friends by pulling them over for traffic stops. Who says I’m a stiff and don’’t have a sense of humor?

Heh. Heh. Heh.

You can watch the rest of the virtual interview at Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell.

In Gustave Doré‘s illustrations for the fourth circle, the weights are huge money bags.


“There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says:  Fool me once, shame on… … shame on you.  Yi-fool me you can’t git fooled again.”
George W. Bush, Sept. 17, 2002

Gays, Guns, God & Gynecology

Hearing into women’s reproductive issues: What’s wrong with this picture? 

Last summer when the economy was still sputtering and deficit reduction was all the rage, the Rethugs believed they had the perfect campaign theme to run on—restoring the economy.

That they were mainly responsible for its demise was hardly an insurmountable problem in their eyes. Counting on low information voters with short memory spans and a growing impatience with the status quo, aided and abetted by Rupert Murdoch and Roger Ailes’ 24/7 media propaganda machine, right wing hate talk radio and its counterparts in the blogosphere, and a Teabagger dominated House dedicated to absolute legislative obstructionism, GOPers were confident that they could shift the blame for a rotten economy to President Obama and the Dems.

And they had the perfect man for the White House, a former CEO and ¼ billionaire named Willard Mitt Romney. Willard was pitched as a Washington outsider who had spent 25 years in the private sector, a successful turn around artist who knew how to run a company, and who could do the same for the country.  A master of “creative destruction”, the former CEO of Bain Capital could be expected to apply his tough love formula to the federal government. Good times were just an inauguration (and a painful period of austerity)  away.

But as early as last September, the worm began to turn. The economy had started to improve. The White House changed election strategies from a Pete Peterson inspired deficit and austerity regime for a progressive agenda focusing on jobs and wealth inequality. (Thank the OWS!)

Then in December, the Rethugs shot themselves in both feet. Their attempts to hold the economy hostage by refusing to extend the debt ceiling, unemployment insurance, and payroll tax exemptions for the middle class precipitated a huge drop in the polls. By the start of 2012, they found themselves twisting slowly, slowly in the political wind, searching for a new theme to run on.

National Security

One of the GOP’s  traditional go-to issues, national security, has been effectively neutralized.  In contrast to his Rethug predecessor, who at first made a big show of bringing Usama Bin Laden to justice only to state  a few months later that he was no longer concerned about him, Obama delivered. He also succeed in eliminating other high level Al Qaeda leaders like Anwar al-Awlaki, and Badar Mansoor using low cost special op forces and pilotless drones, without a single American casualty.

Obama kept his campaign promise to remove all US troops from Iraq, and despite a failed surge of 30,000 troops,  instituted an exit strategy from Afghanistan (as we  predicted in a 13 post diary titled “Afutilestan.”)  Re Libya, the prez took a lot of flack for co-operating with allies and  “leading from behind.”  The end result was the successful overthrow of one of the world’s most entrenched  and despotic dictators, again without a single American casualty.

Obama also expanded Bush’s draconian  domestic national security state, much to the dismay of his progressive base. In fact, Obama has moved so far to the right on issues like privacy (wire taps, warrantless searches) and rule of law (habeus corpus, extradiction, extra-judicial executions) that the Rethugs have nowhere else to go but right over the cliff.

The Culture Wars Revisited

With the economy and national defense losing their front burner sizzle (an attack on Iran, a steep rise in oil and gas prices, or a Eurozone crisis could, however, bring them roaring back),  the Rethugs needed another hot button theme to keep their brain stem base fired up.

What other issues have the Rethugs successfully exploited in the past? Taking their special edition Delorean out of storage, they crammed its flux capacitor full of high grade garbage and found themselves transported 50 years into the past, to the good old days when the Culture Wars were just getting started.

Recreational drug use, gun control, affirmative action, separation of church and state, environmentalism, privacy, sexual liberation, feminism, homosexuality, abortion, contraception—all had their day in the sun. Of course these issues never really went away (if for no other reason than they have been good fund raising fodder for right wingers intent on enforcing their personal morality on the rest of the world). The trick today is to choose an issue closely related to others. Not only does a constellation of issues separated by a single degree facilitate the creation and maintenance of an overarching narrative, but it has certain tactical advantages as well.

Winger Debating Tactics

Take the truncated world of cable television. (Please!)  A favorite Rethug trick,when they find themselves losing a debate,  is  to rapidly pivot from one issue to another. You can tell when such segues are being triggered: they begin talking loudly over their opponents before the latter can  finish making their point. The new issue  is then framed in such a way as to put the opponent on the defensive,  often accusing them of the very thing that the Rethugs themselves are guilty (aka “political projection”; see e.g., deficit spending, judicial activism, class warfare, etc.) .  Before an opponent can set the record straight, let alone return to a previous argument, it’s off to another issue, or better yet, a debate killing commercial.

The optics leave the Rethug looking confident and in control, the opponent a defensive, sputtering fool. (Don’t even get me started on the woeful performance of most so-called  “moderators .”) I used to chalk up these aggressive displays to simple rudeness. But I suspect that a staple of right wing think tank seminars is training in such disingenuous media manipulation tactics. There are people supremely dedicated to the ethos that the end justifies the means, and they take no prisoners.  (For related observations along this line, see our Evolution of Wingnut Deception Routines.)

The Rethugs’ Political Gamble

It is in the context of cross-fertilization (excuse the pun) that injecting contraception into the presidential campaign today makes any kind of sense. Politically, it risks alienating women voters, who provided a 10 million vote advantage for Obama over John McCain in 2008, with unmarried women voting 70% in favor of Obama.  (The Dems loss of the House in the 2010 “wave election” has been attributed to a drop-off in women voters.)

The calculation seems to be that re-framing women’s health issues as a matter of “religious freedom”  is worth the risk. Making religious freedom the new Rethug theme provides the greatest number of potential connections to other issues, religion being the emotional, open subjective book that it is.

Not that issues like birth control and abortion have ever been off the table.  As Marge Baker of People For the American Way pointed out Friday in the HuffPo:

We all heard about the War on Women’s Health last year, when Tea Party-empowered state legislatures passed record slew of anti-choice laws — including deluded bills such as Arizona’s ban on “race-based abortions” and dangerous ones like Virginia’s attempt to shut down most abortion clinics in the state. These unhinged state legislatures were joined by an enthusiastic right-wing Congress that attempted to defund the entire $317 million federal family program, tried to redefine “rape,” and ate up lies about their favorite bogeyman, Planned Parenthood.

Occupying the News Cycle: Religious Freedom Edition

Given the Rethugs current political predicament, putting social issues front and center is necessary if they want to continue to occupy current news cycles (at least until the economy again begins to deteriorate and they can return to firmer ground).  Example:  On the Hill last week, we witnessed Darrel Issa’s sausage fest committee hearing regarding insurance coverage for women’s reproductive services. That women were noticeably absent from the opening panel’s testimony was explained away as irrelevant because, as Issa explained,  the issue was not about birth control, but “religious freedom.” Continue reading