Monthly Archives: November 2010

Nine One What?

Vowing to myself not to succumb to a knee-jerk reaction over the passing of the date of the most significant post-WW ll event I kept it buttoned back in September. Were it so until a November 17th piece by Kevin Ryan in Foreign Policy Journal, an expanded look at well reviewed (overseas) evidence of insider trading upstream of 9/11 that added some weighty bit of ballast to the mounting pile of evidence pointing toward a new, actual investigation. Ryan’s piece added to the fuel provided by W’s aka Whistledick’s claim to have ordered the launch of interceptors following the hit on the South Tower, a claim that the prudent analyst must entertain is based in truth. That fancy leaves 2 troubling possibilities; that both the Air Force and Air National Guard failed at their duty, or “someone” else lower in the chain of command chose to countermand a President’s executive orders. Either event in another dimension would have resulted in the military inquiry that never happened here.
Anyone out there who’s kept up with my stuff knows how I feel about the 911 myth, the one claiming that 19 guys with box cutters flummoxed the world’s most advanced defense system (@ a Billion dollars per day) and on the day when it really mattered penetrated the most stringently protected airspace in the world to put a “jetliner” into the side of the Pentagon. To accept this far-fetched story, the first of a tottering sky-high stack of coinkeedinks, leaves unexamined a similar event a scant year before when Golfer Payne Stewart’s Lear 35 lost cabin pressure resulting in unconsciousness of crew and passengers and death by suffocation. Civilian and NORAD radar operators knew of the problem almost immediately, scrambled fighters from Tyndall AND McDill AFBs and within 15 minutes intercepted the Lear Jet with enough time to mull a shoot down if the plane threatened populated areas until it starved for fuel and crashed in South Dakota.
Actual hard evidence aka unreported facts threatening the Official Conspiracy Theory are becoming so numerous and enlarged that they seem poised to coalesce into a WTC sized amoeba come to swallow the far-fetched fairy tale — if only somehow they were to be published ANYWHERE in the US media. Anyone out there read about the prominent Australian Labor leader who has taken a good look at the material available and declared the official myth to be questionable? I didn’t think so. How about the Colorado Democratic Party’s demand for an investigation? No? Figures. . How about the piece on Evidence Based Inquiry and 911?
For those just joining us, a refresher on some old news, primary pesky details that no official body has made an attempt to answer and have never, NEVER appeared in your morning paper.
In stark contrast to the 911 Commission members having rejected their own findings and declared the report to have been based on “lies,” the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) , Federal Emergency Management Agency FEMA and every other official agency and person involved continue to insist on unsupportable, daft “theories” in the absence of evidence, common sense, historic precedent as well as concordance with accepted laws of physics, like:
1. That 3 steel-framed buildings collapsed, one in just 56 minutes, via office fires ignited by jet fuel, an innocuous accelerant chemically identical to charcoal lighter — kerosene, which would have cooked off in minutes. Despite official accounts and supporting data that the fires did not nor could not have risen over 1800 degrees (and then only briefly) no official agency or person (besides Kevin Ryan, a true patriot who lost his job with UL over his work on the steel issue has dared even speculate on source of the 2400 degrees required to have produced the large quantities of MOLTEN steel that persisted for weeks in the pit, attested to by people on the scene (4) including the same NYFD emergency crews pulled off the scene to make way for a creepy list of robotic specialists, some specializing in ordnance removal.
2. No US official has recognized or bothered to comment on the work of Danish scientist Neils Harriet, et al who co-authored a peer-reviewed paper that extensively reviewed the presence in the dust of the collapsed building of microspheres of solidified molten steel and fragments of a highly specialized form of thermite unavailable to anyone outside of a government or intelligence agencies.
3. There have been no ideas forwarded as to why 5 Israeli Mossad agents detained and later released were doing across the river in Jersey jiving and high fiving as they videotaped the buildings’ destruction especially in light of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu initial elation to the news of the WTC destruction, ”It’s very good,” immediately editing himself: ”Well, not very good, but it will generate immediate sympathy.” certainly a true statement considering the US’s role as Israel’s primary patron.
4. No one has even attempted to provide a consistent explanation as to what brought Building 7 down, an event not even mentioned in the official 911 report. “It” certainly wasn’t an aircraft as the building was not struck by an airplane. History’s sole fire-induced failure of a steel framed building in history, in a major metro area no less, becomes even more curious when viewed the lack of any investigation (the 911 commission report did not even mention it) and lately the additional oddity of some, um, edited videotapes which served via the media to construct the dominate consensus reality of that day. One piece finally pried out of NIST by a lawsuit revealed both 2 snips, one that removed the frames showing the penthouse collapse of building 7, the other a piece of soundtrack that revealed a loud, low frequency rumble that synchronized with the penthouse collapse and data captured by seismic research stations up the Hudson River. The data the stations captured were to non-official geophysicists mindful not so much of a hollow object striking another hollow object but something more akin to heavy explosions heard by hundreds at the site, notably a Janitor, Rodriquez just before the airplane strike
These are just identifiable, documented facts and scientific observations that scatter the contents of the “coincidence” bucket. Good detectives look askance at “coincidences” as do authentic scientists, as should curious laymen. Yet, incredibly, here was the C word used by a senior Military official prefaced by the use of “bizarre” when he spoke of the lack of air response being caused by Vigilant Guardian, an air defense drill supposedly training pilots, yet one more in a tottering stack of the unexplained that test the limits of probability. It might be interesting and useful to contrast that detail with the presence of security teams conducting a “drill” in London for a Tube bombing, exactly the event that occurred there that same day.
Analysis of the original “coincidence,” the lack of air defense, must include a curious account rendered by former Transportation Secretary Norman Minetta, in the Situation Room that morning of a young staffer who continued providing warnings of an approaching aircraft on the radar scopes until a Doctor No drew the kid up with a scolding. Bear in mind, Andrews AFB is 10 miles from the capital.
The only question remaining for me in light of the slow collapse of the myth and repeated pressing of the 911 button that seems to have worn the paint off is: what’s next? The US is in a similar position of the Catholic Church following the bloody end of their heresy scare when to keep parishioners on edge and to retain their hegemony the church stoked up a witch craze. Now that the man has about worn the paint of the 911 button (once we finish playing mop boy on Iran for the Israelis) the US Empire of Fear will be forced to conjure up another invisible, implacable foe to foster a greater, even more unbelievable threat. Don’t look for it to be the Chinese. Who else out there is scaled to churn out sufficient tonnage of consumerist crap for mall fatsos? Nope, the US is fresh out of credible earth based enemies. Amid the military/security/industrial empire’s need for a more menacing, implacable threat, the prescient visionary must look to the stars. That’s right, I’m betting on it being flying saucers. You heard it here first.


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Bye bye Same Old

Notice the new upside-downed stars?


“The state is a fiction sanctified by Hegel and his followers to CONTROL the individual. Sooner or later people will wake up. First we have to dump the trap of right and left, this is a Hegelian trap to divide and control. The battle is not between right and left; it is between us and them.” Antony Sutton*

So, the Republicans, historic heirs of strong central government, banks and anglophile Alexander Hamilton are now the current party of (non) choice poised to finally drive the government of the people off over the edge amid the final sell-off of your country. This election heralds a larger scale version of the pillaging of perfectly good American businesses like Anchor Hocking Glass leveraged-buyout era. To that, one comment. Don’t tell me I didn’t tell you. Someone had to win and someone had to lose; the fictional money won and the fiction of popular government lost.
Me? I am over the confrontations I pursued with great zest in the past. I have been pursued by phalanxes of wall sized men in ballistic nylon, smelled the sweet tang of spillover tear gas and had my picture taken by discreetly dressed chaps enough for one life. All of the demonstrations were tidy, little pre-laid containment vessels, colossal wastes of time and resources and I have hung up my cleats. “They” sit behind their mortar proof window, sip their martinis, shoot you bird and nothing, nothing changes a jot. Shoot, the crew, ALL OF THEM, who rode in following Watergate has made me miss Richard Nixon. The US was a lovely idea and a fair shot for an experiment, but the forces that conspired to suck it dry have prevailed. Done.
It is worth at this point to remind readers that John Kerry, Dumbya i.e. most in power positions are members of various creepy, private elite organizations like the Council of Foreign Relations and its schoolyard version founded by opium smugglers, Yale University’s Skull and Bones, whose very symbol is code for terror, violence and piracy, the SS Death’s Head Division in WW Two, labels on poison bottles so forth. The US was partially founded on piracy and murder; the current leadership is just more of the same, some of the worst war criminals since the Third Reich in civilian body count alone.
I have tried over the years to describe and explain the history and implicit hazards of the Corporate model, historically how successful and murderously unbalanced is their power. Banks served the elites’ needs and then John D. Rockefeller perfected the modern corporation. Like their economic forebears, the knightly orders of the 11th century, the Knights Templar, Knights of St. John, etecera, corporations led by the “successes” of Standard Oil (and locally, American Tobacco) became so wealthy they could capitalize themselves, usurping economic might rivaling that of nations; a third force, created solely for da money. Carrying more weight than King or Pope, big biz is concerned solely for itself, profit and shareholder return.
Mega-capitalism stole the reigns of the your nation from “natural” persons primarily via a scandalous interpretation of the intent of the founders visited on this nation by a Supreme Court case involving the tax value of fence posts. Santa Clara vs Southern Pacific granted to the then nascent corporation Bill of Rights protection that gave corporations institutional sanction among other protections to lie — and a lie is protected speech. This corrupt, bogus court decision paved the way for your leaders to be seduced serially by da money and seize what was to be held in trust for “the people”.
Oh my little friends, there is vitriol to spare. For the executive branch that it has transcended the now quaint, obsolete core tenet of the Constitution. The role of the president was to be a limited executive position, its powers limited to “execute” the will of the people via congress, especially in the grave matter of War. The 1973 War Powers Act, passed on the heels of the disaster of Vietnam states very clearly that war is to be waged under very specific conditions which have been routinely disregarded before and since the law’s passing. For Congress, the same applies. The expense of political campaigns makes “by the people and for the people” and free speech mean something quite different for you and for a Boeing. You make the world you live and live the world you make.
When a nation’s primary remaining major export is death via the defense contractors who steer our government’s paranoid “defense” system, that nation is treading on thin existential ice amid moral and economic vacuity. I’d hoped we learned something from Vietnam. I was wrong. Not one of the presidents for the last several decades has shown reluctance or restraint in the use of military force to appease their contributors in the defense biz. It is worth noting here that Eric Haney, former master sergeant and co-founder of Delta Force said “There is no real threat to the U.S. in the world.” As the Cold War was WW III, perfect for the US’s purposes; trillions of dollars of instantly obsolete gear and not a shot fired, Bush and Yobama’s World War IV, begun for Big Oil and Israel, would seem to be a fine follow-up. Americans have been programmed to build their political beliefs on a foundation of fear and fear is what they will have from now on. Me, I never signed on for piracy and murder.
But far be it from me to try to dissuade others from what they do to themselves via a externally induced hallucination. Far be it from me to even attempt to influence some other’s local reality system. Really Mr. Eichenberger, how presumptuous of you. I have had some bad habits and am in no moral position to cast aspersions nor judgment on anyone for what they do. If people want to eat fried chicken and french fries and waddle from to and from their Suburbans until their hearts clog and they die, let ’em. I have no grounds to berate them while they eat themselves to an early death to a lilting serenade of lies pouring out of the television, riding the ship down, quite content with their murderous, overfed nation.
The only way to fight the monster is to deprive it of its blood, the money. If you find decreasing levels of contentment from the hollow narcotic jolt provided by the empty commercial culture, maybe just maybe you’re ready. If you have moral problems with this hustle, the most revolutionary thing you can do is strive for a smaller life and selectively starve the monster. Don’t like slave states? Don’t buy their crappy, cheap products.
For me the bell finally went off over transportation. A short list of factors made me hang up the keys to my Plymouth but a major one was what I had done in the name of fun and games, the fuel, used lubricating oil, transmission fluid and so forth with which I had fouled the planet. That I also was often consciously a public menace behind the wheel induced me to begin to undo what I had done in the name of kicks. My cavalier attitude, the damage I did to the very planet itself is something that I will not be able to unremember. The surprise was that the absence of a car for a decade has improved my life by fostering a deeper, more direct connection to the earth by walking and bicycles. This is just an example.
I’m just one guy and one tiny life but I’m not the only one who feels like this. Amid colossal levels of political dissatisfaction we are witnessing the emergence of what I call the Alternate State of America aka None-Of-The-Above. “A vote of no confidence,” says my neighbor, Mr. Jolly. Both parties have serially proven themselves perennially, malevolently incapable/unwilling at the task of responsible, legitimate government that the ASA/NOTA would probably get fifty percent of the vote, certainly along the U.S. Gulf Coast. Farfetched? Reflect that around 50 percent of voters are now non affiliated or independent. The two party system is a rigged two horse race and millions are awakening to the truth: one stable owns both nags. Send em to the glue factory.
The purest, early example of the ATA can be seen in alternative food systems, as profound a human connection with the world there is. That is just a beginning. Soon, I predict we are going to begin to witness all manner of parallel, local community-based systems which will begin to give true liberty back to the people. The big players like Monsanto (pure eeee-ville!) are keenly aware of this trend and are busy “conspiring” (there, I said it) with members of Congress to put a damper on the small scale agriculture that promise to reduce their profits via the Food Safety Modernization Act (S.510). This is something both “sides” can agree on as well as a splendid position to begin to wreck the false political duality created to keep ordinary Americans distracted and at each other’s throats while the real bad guys make off with your legacy.
Industrial leaders have sold the middle class out seen in the torrent of jobs “they” are busy outsourcing following the second worst economic crunch in living memory. I say return the favor. You can begin to lessen the power these artificial entities hold over you by rejecting them, by reducing the role they play in your life. Fire em from your world along with their catamite politician butt boys. The best part is you don’t need guns. Just quietly slip away.
As an object or entity become less of a presence in one’s mind, a analog of Quantum Mechanics comes into play. Following that reality is seen by physicists as a construct of consciousness, my analogy suggests that you can make whoever or whatever you wish “disappear” via what I will call Quantum Ethics, sort of like duh holy Market force. If an entity’s actions or potential causes grievous injury to a particular dimension (this one) or its inhabitants, it becomes in one’s interest, a responsibility, to actively reject it as I did with Plymouths. Doing so will cause them to begin to fade, both from your life as well as in objective, external reality. (I have to point out that a few years after my vow, Plymouth ceased production.) Seriously, were QE to gain a substantial foothold, truly wicked agencies/people who engage, for example, in institutionalized death-for-profit might actually wink out, cease to exist. Say you don’t “get it”, oh icky ones? There is nothing to “get.” In the new world of Quantum Ethics, you simply will disappear. Poof. Gone. I’m trying to interest a mathematical physicist wiz to help me with the proof, but for now, it’ll have to be an idea.

*Antony Sutton authored 26 books, among them, America’s Secret Establishment and Best Enemy Money Can Buy. Sutton was persecuted but never prosecuted for his research and subsequent publishing of his findings although his mainstream career was shattered. In 1968, his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development showed how Soviet technological and manufacturing built by US firms and mostly paid for by the US taxpayers supplied the North Vietnamese with armaments and supplies to kill and wound American soldiers. Professor Richard Pipes, of Harvard, said in his book, Survival Is Not Enough: Soviet Realities and America’s Future (Simon & Schuster;1984): “In his three-volume detailed account of Soviet Purchases of Western Equipment and Technology . . . Sutton comes to conclusions that are uncomfortable for many businessmen and economists. For this reason his work tends to be either dismissed out of hand as ‘extreme’ or, more often, simply ignored.”


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Dix closing is Raleigh’s loss

Raleigh’s position as as the social political center of North Carolina for more than two centuries has been challenged but never surpassed. Great movements of people and ideas, some not so pleasant, have been a part of the capital city since its founding. Our somewhat odd, self-assured little city has been the scene of triumph and tragedy, parades and invasions. Through most of it, Dorothea Dix hospital aka “Dix Hill” has provided what many would submit as a touchstone of a civilized society, a presence whose existence was just one facet of a crusade that originally moved the itinerant spokeswoman for the mentally afflicted to alternately shame and cajole state legislator until they were moved to found the institution. Dix’s simple plea/demand rested on a central pillar that no place that considers itself civilized can be truly judged so in the absence of proper medical treatment for all its people.
Prior to Dix’s appearance the mentally/neurologically challenged had an (especially) tough row to hoe. Derided, rejected and scorned by polite society, those lacking a support system who were afflicted by maladies other those of an obvious physical sort were mostly on their own. Contemporary mores and fears of the unknown set a pattern of removal and incarceration in places of punishment and separation, often jails or prisons where abuse and physical punishment were what passed as normal practice. Needless to say, the problems created by the pattern exacerbated the toll on incarcerees and on society both in spirit and cost to the public. Today, our supposedly mature, enlightened society is witnessing an unfortunate shift, a reversion to the patterns of the past.
I live in Boylan Heights, the neighborhood whose location affords a splendid view of the backsliding we as a society seem to be facing. I have been here off and on for decades and have utilized BoHo’s location as an easy laugh line that provided adequate directions for many visitors: “between the penitentiary and the nut house,” a good-natured jab that has lost most of the humor and serves solely as a locational cue. The mile post was set when a new Department of Corrections prison hospital and psych unit began to rise mysteriously unannounced from the earth oddly concurrent with the public announcement of the final closure schedule for Dix. Suddenly we began to witness the undoing of over a century of the enlightened goals of Ms. Dix as well as society.
Possessed of a juxtaposition far to too tragic for inclusion in the irony column, the region’s sole source for mental emergencies and ongoing care for those with head problems is seemingly to the casual observer being literally replaced locally by an institution that bespeaks what Dix dedicated her life to altering, a place whose institutional core screams punishment rather than treatment (although I am certain that the state has all manner of figures and verbiage lined up to dispute that.) The obvious is extent in an unintended (one would hope) psychological message backed by physical reality.
This is serious stuff, y’all. DHHS’s decision to move the remaining patients and employees will strike a blow to the heart of the area, not just to the patients but to the very gestalt of Raleigh. It has been some time since “Dix Hill” set aside days to allow the more functioning patients out to wander around the city but even with that absence having all types of people contributing, even unconsciously, to a society is one central icon of what a fully balanced society should strive for. See, I have a special interest that transcends matters of geography and real estate. I am one of the tribe now. In Dorothea Dix’s time the seizures, visions and, um, notions that are artifacts of my nearly fatal traumatic brain injury 5 years ago would have given good reason for me to be up on the Hill. Even though changes in assessment have (perhaps) denied me qualification (technically) as a “nut-job,” I feel a sense of solidarity and unity with those who do. And were the balance tipped further to the degree that I required hospitalization, the thought of being exiled to the wilds of Granville county at Butner does not engender healthy, positive feelings. Just the presence of others in ones own immediate vicinity engenders constructive, healthy feeling of inclusion, both for patients but more, for the city. Everyone deserves a seat at the table of society instead of exclusion and segregation. The choice and results are stark and present. I won’t even go into the money involved, something that should concern those paying for it, the taxpayer and those with their hands on the purse strings, legislators and administrators. This is an issue that could serve to form a bridge amid this fractious, politically hysterical milieu.
The only thing we can do, you can do, is to be a part of the growing number of people from all political stripes and socio/economic classes who have and are banding together on the issue. Let your legislators, state and city officials know how important Dix is and how strongly you feel about it keeping the facility where it is, for the people and the memory of Ms Dix. It may be too late but maybe, just maybe …

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Get Out

Group, human effort requires timely, accurate information particularly in the case of warfare. In the case of the United States, there is also a historic ideology upon which the United States rests, that of a nation built on a foundation of laws. It followed that balanced, legal military action depends on a clear definition of the floating borders between want and necessity, between accurate, timely consensus-based information and the dangerous realm of guess-work.

In the matter of the current military action in Afghanistan there is more than enough evidence on hand to question that which is pawned as “truth” spouted on the constant yammer of televised 24 hour news. The following is based on a study of Afghanistan and interviews, notably the scrupulous details provided by a long time veteran of the North Carolina US Army National Guard who I will call “Ellis,” a robust, well-preserved veteran in his 60s.

Ellis got a taste for the military via his carpenter father’s WWll experiences. In 1966, he wanted out of Ohio, signed up, shipped out and spent the next 4 decades plus in the service. Ellis retired as a Battalion Command Sergeant Major, the highest non-commission rank one can attain, having received along his journey combat service ribbons for every overseas military mission beginning with his escape from teenage boredom in Vietnam and ending with multiple, extended tours of Afghanistan. His last was  a volunteer hitch specifically for the purpose of contending with the improvised explosive devices that have become a major, deadly factor in the conflict. Ellis’s job involved locating and defusing these primitive yet bloodily effective munitions which have produced so many combat casualties.

There are similarities shared by many post WWII conflicts in which the US has become involved, similarities which evoke in some ways America’s own efforts to shake the clutch of colonialism in the 18th century. In the case of Vietnam and Afghanistan the similarities are at times striking: undeveloped nations possessed of a zeal for independence that transcends politics as well as creating a complicated, demanding situation on the ground for military operations. In both examples another similarity is an absence of substantive reasons justifying the conflict. In the case of Vietnam, the ignition event was a disputed “attack” on the USS Maddox, a Navy destroyer in the Gulf of Tonkin; Afghanistan was invaded via President Bush’s simplistic and irrelevant claim that the supposed perps of 911 trained in Afghanistan, a subject for another discussion.

In order to create a recognizable comparison, Ellis likened military actions in Iraq to the WWII “ETO” or European Theater of Operations where warfare developed familiar patterns via centuries and scores of wars among similar national types and related ethnicities. The action in Afghanistan by contrast is more akin to the war against Japan in the “PTO” or Pacific Theater of Operations. As in the ETO, warfare in Iraq could be qualified as more “civilized,”whereas the Afghanistan/PTO synthesis runs counter to what we westerners recognize as “civilized” warfare, “heads getting cut off”, as Ellis put it.

Afghanistan exists in a temporal gestalt more akin to 700 AD rather than this new millennium. Its  position as a crossroad of the ancient world has left a legacy illustrated by the bewildering array of languages and ethnicities created by itinerant, hegemonic, religious leaders, various plundering hordes and a succession of empires; Persians, Huns, Greeks, Romans, Brits, Soviets and now, the United States. Once in a great while there appears on the scene a leader strong enough to forge nationalistic links but such strong-man leadership has invariably proven to be temporary. Any cohesive, national Afghan leadership remains subject to constant challenges and attack. The consistent collapse of attempts at central governments accompany reversion to tribal conflicts directed by regional warlords.

This new millennium has produced no departure from a familiar, bloody pattern. Only the weapons change, becoming more destructive that whatever there was of permanent, urban structure lies now in ruins. The Kabul of walled gardens, flowers and palaces has been reduced to wreckage. Today, street battles are common enough in most urban areas that the only place in the country one could call  “secure” are the grounds of the presidential palace and only then because of the presence of a phalanx of US guards.

Unlike Iraq, modernized via the Brits, the United States and Aramco, an accurate view of modern Afghanistan runs counter to the misleading soft-balls emitting from the corporate media. In contrast to the pretty pictures painted in Greg Mortenstern’s best-selling “Three Cups of Tea,” Western attempts at implementing non-local “new” ideas about schooling and “progress” beyond the minimally protected areas are dealt by the locals immediately and finally. Afghanistan is a tough, tough place that allows an average 800 dollar income and a 44 year life expectancy for both men and women. There is no fixed, modern infrastructure, no schools, modern roads, utility systems, hospitals, stores or large-scale agriculture (except opium) and no government outside of Kabul, affirms Ellis, making Afghanistan a place lacking even the concept of record keeping, i.e. no ID s, birth certificates, etc. The borders remain unsealed, reducing “nation building” to scratchings on paper. The griding reality of the region is enhanced by a ubiquitous warlord mentality created by millennia of internecine ethnic and religious battles which the ordinary people variously accept or flee. The only legitimate armed conflict that would bring about the great changes trumpeted in the press would be popular, armed rebellion, a means the Afghan people have not as yet displayed any sign of interest nor the organization to carry out.

The large armies and equipment which form the basis of Western military strategy are useless in a place like Afghanistan. Much of the terrain is too rough, steep and elevated for either trucks or helicopter transport. The enemy refuses to cooperate with a pattern that US and associated western forces have prepared and funded for. Afghan warriors materialize, take a few shots and vanish into the rocks before any substantive casualties can be taken, before even a response can be mustered. The only response is to “take a bite and hold on” with small unit tactics involving “3 to 8 guys.”

“One of the largest was an all day firefight that got 8 bad guys,” while the others melted into the void. “Eastern Kandahar, home of the Taliban and Wardak are the worst. You cannot get out of your hole.” Ellis mocks talk of high-tech weaponry. To prevail in combat in Afghanistan takes “guys with rifles.”

Nevertheless, the deadly hit and run tactics have forced the US to alter the nature of the infantry with enhanced use of large, wheeled personnel carriers. The so-called MRAP was introduced to counter  the Taliban’s employment of improvised explosive devices, or IEDs, typically fashioned from 150 to 200 lbs of HME, a local version of a common explosive made with fertilizer and fuel oil made even more powerful by the use of local fertilizers with a higher percentage of the nitrates that supply the ooomph. The amounts typically used are capable of flipping and launching a 40,000 lb MRAP 10 yards. A common trigger consists of strips of wood wrapped in foil and buried using the weight of the overhead vehicle to complete the circuit to the detonator. If you survive, the resultant explosion will likely result in one of the three traumatic brain injuries that’ll get you on a plane home. Ellis described exiting the vehicle in the dark with night-vision equipment and performing multiple perimeter scans of the immediate area before the squad even disembarked. This sort of stuff is learned only through experience, pointing out the demands created by current rotation policies that erase much on-the-ground education. A hitch lasting 3,4 or 6 months equals a loss of knowledge that no computer file can match.

Into this cauldron of endless conflict NATO has deployed 100,000 active military (70,000 from  the US) to subdue a nation the size of Texas with an unprotected border 3700 miles in length butted up to India, Pakistan, China and several of the so-called “Ickystans” states (as they are sometimes impolitely referred to in diplomatic circles) recently released from Soviet hegemony by the fall of the Iron Curtain in ’89. A comparison that may serve to highlight the demands of the current mission would be that the US deployed 565,000 in Vietnam whereas in a hostile region 4 times that size the US currently commands a quarter the number of troops. But even that figure fails to provide an accurate picture of military force by a ratio of 10 to 1, 90% being support personnel rather than what Ellis calls “trigger pullers.” Then there’s the financial drain of the 100,000 or so contractors who in many cases provide redundant services. “They’re paying contractors 80,000 dollars a year to ladle out meals,” the contractor pay coming out of Department of Defense funding, a stellar example of “privatization.” Because of reallocation of DOD funding, more contractors equal more flag draped coffins.

Logistics are a nightmare. Undefended US military transport vehicles are instantly targeted, resulting in a necessary dependence on civilian “Hadji” trucks, the result being that 40% of materiel,   food, medicine, aircraft parts and the like become destroyed or “lost”.  Good guys and bad guys are indistinguishable although one has to assume that all are bad guys coupled with the added complicating factor of diplomatic problems caused by the deaths of civilians. And the mostly US western forces are largely on their own. The ANA or Afghan National Army is “not worth a shit,” according to Ellis. “They’ll muster and equip 10,000 and end up with 5000 minus the sign-up money and equipment.” Contractor costs and unreliable logistics wreak havoc on military operations. Ellis told somewhat bitterly and angrily of having to cancel operations because of a lack of materiel amid a general situation so common in modern American wars: contractors lobbying in Washington to keep the conflict going for the simple goal of profits.

But behind this messy quandary are fundamental detail that not only render the conflict unwinnable but negate the stated reasons for our presence. The reason the US claimed for invading the nation, to eliminate or disrupt this mysterious Al Queda, no longer applies. The best intel the US is in possession of indicates the group is no longer in nation, that they have decamped for other regions, notably Yemen. In the evaporation of the primary, “legitimate” reason for our presence the US mission has been corrupted by fall-back explanations that collapse under examination. The first, the use of the Taliban as a proxy enemy is a disingenuous ploy that obscures that Taliban is an internal force with no connection to “global terrorism.” “They want local control, not world terrorism,” according to Ellis. The second “reason” is the vaunted importation of nationhood and democracy, both abstract concepts the average Afghan neither understands nor accepts. “There is no sense of nation or nationality in Afghanistan by the Afghan people.” They simply want foreigners out of their land, the only thing Afghans have consistently wanted and fought for since the west first invaded. The actual facts destroy justification for the ongoing costly, deadly, military action.


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