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Forum Post: "Our Leaders Do Not Mean Well"

Posted 6 months ago on Jan. 4, 2014, 3:41 p.m. EST by LeoYo (5843)
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"Our Leaders Do Not Mean Well"

Saturday, 04 January 2014 09:20 By Daniel Falcone, Truthout | Opinion

http://truth-out.org/opinion/item/20869-our-leaders-do-not-mean-well

William Blum is an American author, critic of American foreign policy and retired employee of the US State Department. He is the author of numerous books and articles discussing uncoverings of the Central Intelligence Agency and writes about our involvement in worldwide terror operations, often in the name of democracy. Blum is the author of the famous book Killing Hope: US Military and CIA Interventionssince World War II (Common Courage Press). The book enjoyed remarkable success, becoming required reading for students and professions in numerous fields. Professor Noam Chomsky said of the book, “It is far and away the best book on the topic.” The book is astounding, as Blum breaks down the post-war CIA in more than 50 fascinating chapters. Actions everywhere from Albania to Zaire are discussed in the book. I met with William Blum in early December in Washington, DC.

Daniel Falcone: Could you tell me something about your educational background and your schooling and how that formulated your conceptions of foreign policy?

William Blum: My interest in and my knowledge of US foreign policy are entirely self-taught. It doesn't come from school. In college, I majored in accounting, of all things, and I worked as an accountant for years. And then I worked as a computer programmer and systems analyst, including at the State Department, where I wanted to become a foreign-service officer. I was working there with computers only to get my foot in the door. But then this was in the mid-'60s, and a thing called Vietnam came along and changed my entire thinking and my life. And I abandoned my aspiration of becoming a foreign-service officer, and I became a leading anti-war activist in DC in '65 and '66 and '67. The security department at State was not unaware of what of what I was doing, and then they called me in eventually and told me I would be happier working in the private sector. And I couldn't argue with that. So I left, and I began writing. I was one of the founders of the Washington Free Press, the first underground newspaper in DC.

What do you think the people need to know who are interested in military history or the history of the Vietnam War or how American foreign policy is essentially made in the United States?

The most important lesson one can acquire about US foreign policy is the understanding that our leaders do not mean well. They do not have any noble goals of democracy and freedom and all that jazz. They aim to dominate the world by any means necessary. And as long as an American believes that the intentions are noble and honorable, it's very difficult to penetrate that wall. That wall surrounds the thinking and blocks any attempt to make them realize the harm being done by US foreign policy. That's what's in my writing and in my speaking. My main aim is usually to penetrate that wall of belief that we mean well.

How do you think people that are a part of the electorate today and participants in the two major parties differentiate President Bush from President Obama, and what are the differences between the two in approach of the office in terms of diplomacy, meaning in terms of diplomacy or foreign affairs?

Well, in foreign policy there's no difference. I cannot name any significant difference in foreign policy between Bush and Obama. Obama is, perhaps, worse. He's invaded six nations already. I cannot think of any way to point out that Obama is less of an imperialist than Bush. The Obama supporters would love to think he's better and they would argue even - and they do argue that it's the Republicans who forced him to do what he did. It's like - it's on par with the dog ate my homework. I get this again and again. If Obama was free to do what he wants, he would be an angel or at least much better than he is now. I don't buy that. He's the most powerful person in the world, and he's just lacking courage - he's lacking belief, too. That's even more important. I've written this several times about Obama. There's nothing really important to that man except being president of the United States. That he likes. He likes what goes with that. But there's no issue that he would not compromise on. He's willing to take any side of any issue in order to get elected. So he's no better than Bush. Bush at least believes what he says, I think. Obama doesn't even do that.

Going back to what you were saying about education earlier, do you think that it's possible to get an understanding of how the world is organized without being self-taught? Or is this something that is a skill that you must acquire on your own?

One doesn't have to be self-taught. One can learn in all kinds of ways. One can have a teacher that inspires them. If I had had a teacher like that, I might not have had to become self-taught. But I didn't.

Were there any authors that you read that inspired you or were you driven through direct experiences and what you saw and observed?

Well, the first book I read which began to change some thinking was The Origin of a Cold War by D.F. Fleming. It's two volumes. That had an influence on me. Many years later, when I looked over it again, I was not as impressed as I was when I first read it. But when I first read it, it was an eye-opener in various ways, and that's one book. I think mainly, though, more than books, there was the publications of the '60s. The newspapers put out by various groups on the left opened up my eyes, including my own newspaper.

Can talk about interventions and plots and specific portions of your famous book on the CIA that were the most astounding to you? Or is it just the general day-to-day activities of the CIA that you want people to focus on? Was there any event that stood out that told you, I have to write about this?

With every chapter in my first book, which eventually became Killing Hope, every chapter was chosen because I found it as something I thought the average American would find contradicting of what he or she had been taught and believed. So that was the criteria I used and so - and it applied to me, as well. These were things which surprised me to discover, one after another. Now, when I began that book, I knew about the seven or eight most famous interventions – Guatemala and Iran and a few others. I had no idea there was so much wrong. But the more I did research, (it began actually as a magazine article) the sooner I realized this is a book - this is not a magazine article. There were so many things I came across. And even that book now - even though it has 55 chapters, I can add a lot more to it. My next book, Rogue State, lists about 20 major interventions which are not even in Killing Hope. Not in the same rich detail you have in Killing Hope, but it's a shorter concise version of each of these in Rogue State. I have about 20 more cases that were not in Killing Hope. The first version of Killing Hope was published in London by Zed Books. I was living in London when I wrote the book. That's why it was published there. Now both Killing and Rogue are Common Courage Press of Maine.

Professor Noam Chomsky at MIT calls the book the best book on the subject that's ever been written. Are you aware of this endorsement as well as several other noteworthy authors?

Yeah, that was very kind of him. At the time of writing this, of course, I had no idea how it would be received. The closer I got to finishing it, the more enthused I was. I had no expectations that it would be received as well as it has been. It's been in print now for 27 years in one version or another under one name or another. It's basically the book I finished in 1986, so it's been quite a surprise to me. And it continues to sell, and it's in print in several languages.

You said recently in an interview regarding your last book how maybe our goals as Americans are to take a look at our empire and slowing it down. If we can't stop it, perhaps we can slow it down. So what did you mean by that?

Well, because I'm always asked by people what can I do about this? After they hear me talk or write about this long list of terrible things done by the government, I suggest what you said, a slowing down. It's too difficult to stop obviously. You cannot wave a magic wand.

Is this something that you find in American audiences? Do all people overseas ask similar questions? Because the American society is a pretty free society; it has educational opportunities. Usually the answer is just doing what you do. You write. You're an activist. You're engaged in speaking activities. You organize. And that's really the only way to really do this, to slow it down, is it not? I mean, like you said, there's no way to wave a magic wand?

Well, unless you want to take up arms, which I don't recommend. I think we'd be outmanned and outgunned. Yeah, unless you want to look for a violent revolution, it's all you can do is educate yourself and as many other people as you can. That's my main advice and my writing is actually aimed at giving the means and the methods to educate other people. I want people - my readers - to learn what to say and what not to say if they're trying to influence other people about US foreign policy. I have that in mind all the time when I write. How will this help my readers to be activists, activists in changing other people's minds?

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[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

What do you think the public is missing out on in terms of our interactions with Iran and how the media is filtering that story? And what do we need to know about that story?

It's hard to give an overall general statement about what the average American thinks about the Iran question. I'm sure they have all kinds of misconceptions, and I'm sure that the average American thinks Iran is evil and they mean evil and they have done evil. And many of them believe, well, we shouldn't be making any kind of deals with such people. They don't realize how the US has overthrown the Iranian government and instituted a dictatorship which lasted 26 years and how we have done many more bad things to Iran than Iran has done to us. So if they want to approach this question from any kind of moral point of view, they're on the wrong side. We have done much worse to them than they to us. And we've heard so much about their former president, Ahmadinejad, how what a terrible person he was and that's so full of lies. It's been ascribed to him that he called for wiping Israel off the map. That's not true, which implies a violent attack on Israel; that's a total lie. I've written about this many times, and they've said that he has denied the Holocaust. Again, a total lie. He has never done that. I have all this written about in my monthly Anti-Empire Report.

That is to fuel anti-Iranian sentiment?

Well, the people who believe these things get these ideas from the media, and the media get it from the government. And our government is in the business of making Iran look as bad as possible. It's no surprise to see this all the time. The media is un-independent. They are the mouthpiece of the government. They would be shocked to hear you say that. CNN thinks it's really independent. And Fox News and CBS: They all think they're not in a police state, but this is a police state in many important ways. And what the media picks up from the government is what the government wants the American people to believe. Propaganda is almost too nice a word to call it, but that's what the average American believes. So that's my self-appointed task, to counter all this propaganda.

You've written about democracy and the meaning of democracy and I guess that democracy is code for something else. Well, most people around the world, when they compare maybe their region of the world to westernized democracy, they think of freedom, opportunity, a chance to engage in some sort of entrepreneurial spirit, whether it's England or the US, especially the United States. When our presidents invoke the words democratic freedom in their speeches, what do they really mean?

Well, that's automatic. They're trying to sell their current intervention to the American people and to the world – and to the American media. And they know what to say and what not to say. And what they know to say is democracy and freedom and overthrowing a dictatorship and so on. They know how to ignore all the history, including fairly recent history, which contradicts what they're saying. They simply know what not to say and what to say. And it's very predictable, and one has to know the facts to see through what they're saying and what they're not saying. It's not hard for me to say how the average American who's new to all of this can easily be fooled. Easily. And so that's my self-appointed task to counteract all of this, which is not easy. I'm dealing with a people who have had a lifetime of indoctrination beginning in kindergarten and with their comic books and radio and TV and so on - and how can I undo all that education in a few pages. It's not easy.

When the Bush administration was manufacturing war and the necessities to go to war, it had neo-conservatives in the fold, a group of people organized around a philosophy of foreign policy that was generally centered on spreading empire. And the thinking was when you do this, you secure your own nation state and you acquire, I assume, resources and leverage in the world. I guess it's a part of what's called the Bush doctrine. Obama has a doctrine. Who's formulating his policies, or helping to?

Brzezinski played a major role in the US intervention in Afghanistan, which has had a horrible consequence. So he's hardly someone to present as any kind of counterpoint to the neoconservatives. He's proud of what he did. I wonder - well in any case, he, for example, still takes pride in what he did in Afghanistan.

How would Mitt Romney's foreign policy look compared to Obama's? Would it be worse? Or the same? Or better? Or we can't know?

I think it would be very similar. They would still be completely pro-Israel and completely against any kind of leftist or socialist government or movement. They would still attack al-Qaeda types but make use of them where they can. Like what Obama does. You know that the US government has - well, right now in Syria, as in Libya, we have fought on the same side as the terrorists. In fact, we have fought on the same side as terrorists on five separate occasions in the past 30 years or so. Well, it began with Afghanistan. It went Afghanistan and then Bosnia and Kosovo and then Libya and Syria. That is five countries that we have fought on the same side as the terrorists; and it's finally hitting home. Maybe a bit of the reason that the US government and France and the UK have cut back so much on aiding the rebels in Syria in the past few months is maybe they finally have had these terrorists up to their eyes and that's enough. It's gotten to them finally. And they're having a very hard time defending their policies because of that. So it seems that they're finally seeing how absurd their policy was.

You were discussing before about how Osama bin Laden's statement about the introduction of your book was something that he thought Americans should read because it essentially was asking Americans to look within to how their government was constructing foreign policy, maybe unbeknown to them. That picked up sales for your books maybe for a couple days. But then after a while universities didn't want to be associated with you speaking on campus?

I estimated at the time that it was about 20,000 sales I wouldn't have had otherwise. It sounds very nice, but I think I've lost more money as a result of that in lost campus speaking engagements over the years. It's been almost eight years now, and I've had in those eight years as many speaking engagements as I used to have in one year. So I think I've lost money in the end, although that's beside the point. I mean I'm glad it happened anyhow, because I reached many people.

Other than the standard conspiracy theorist who wants to bring up things that you have left out that maybe it's not even within your realm to be interested in discussing, what are some of the counterpoints or some of the arguments you get? You are a radical. What do people need to know about the difference between a radical and a liberal, because people don't understand that maybe? They think there is the left and the right in the United States.

You know, that's fairly unsophisticated thinking on their part, and it used to be even worse. I think more people today understand that Obama is not Chomsky. You know? It's pretty obvious. I get letters indicating that they still don't make a distinction between a liberal and a radical as they should, and I have to point that out to them. That's part of the continuous educational process I go through with my readers. This is an ongoing daily thing. I have 9,000 people on my mailing list, plus many thousands more from the internet magazine sites. So I get lots of email. As we're talking, I have more than 4,000 emails to answer. And that's one of the points that needs to be mentioned, what I have pointed out, that a liberal is not a radical. And I have to point that out, and Obama is not the man they think he is, that he doesn't really believe in anything. I've written this first - back in '08, when Obama was running as a candidate in the Democratic primaries, I'd never heard of him before. I just saw his name in the headlines and I knew that he was a US senator and that he was black; that's about all I knew. And one time I was in my kitchen washing the dishes for a long time and on the radio it was announced that he was going to give a speech. I decided I would listen to see what this guy's all about. And I listened for about 20 minutes, and it hit me right in the head: This man is not saying anything. One sentence after another is just a platitude or a cliché; it's avoiding taking a stand, and he's not saying anything. I knew then who he was and who he wasn't. And it's been confirmed again and again. Most people who think like him are sort of proud of what they think, and that's their ideology. And they make it plain. This is what they believe and what you should believe. But he doesn't have any ideology that he's really proud of or that he pushes to any great extent. That was surprising that he doesn't believe in anything.

[-] 3 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 months ago

the drone policy makes us terrorist

as hell fire missiles are used to terrorize the population into submission

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

What is a better policy? The U.S. populace does not want any potential/accused terrorists on U.S. soil. There are sovereignty issues related to gathering evidence, holding trials, extracting intelligence, incaceration, execution, etc., all to be done in a foreign country perhaps.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

In the country where they were captured makes sense to me.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Under U.S. laws or those of the country of capture? Pakistan, for example, may simply release them to keep their local "peace" although it really wishes the U.S. to execute them and bear the brunt of any retaliations.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

Their terrorist (?) their problem. Fuck em - "WE" are not the dumping ground for other countries problems. In the same vein - we ( the USA ) have no business pretending to be the worlds Police Force.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

The U.S. may not have sufficient intelligence on the ground there to know the difference between "their" terrorists and "our" terrorists. Remember that the U.S. and Pakistan are allies in the fight against the terrorists? The intelligence gatherer in Lahore working on the Osama bin Laden case apparently had people trying to kill him and Pakistan wanted him back to face murder charges for killing those people going after him, as a sovereignty issue.

Pakistan makes a distinction between Afghanistan's Taliban and Pakistan's Taliban although the border there is porous. When U.S. forces chased their targets to across the border, the targets become protected by Pakistan's sovereignty. U.S. supplies for the forces in Afghanistan come through Pakistan so Pakistan can in fact stop the U.S. forces. Then the targets sneak back another day into Afghanistan and the whole cycle begins anew. That is why the war there drags on and on.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

Those in charge right now don't care about distinctions anyway - they just drone em and say so sorry for the "acceptable" collateral damage = innocent civilian lives taken.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

That is exactly the expedient thing to do, for the U.S. and subduedly for Pakistan. Collateral damage without excellent intelligence and ground support is inevitable. Drone warfare is far "cleaner" than conventional warfare but it does strike persistent fear into the innocent civilians as well as creating more terrorists through radicalization of the civilian population. Pakistan is perfectly happy to blame the drone strikes on the U.S.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

Drone warfare is far "cleaner" than conventional warfare

No - actually it is not - well except for those who are doing the droning. For those on the receiving end it is just as awful as conventional war - worse actually - because at least in a conventional war - the civilian might be able to defend them-self some what. Yes droning does create more enemies than it is likely to ever kill.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Are you saying that the U.S. should put soldiers into Pakistan so that the civilians there can defend themselves against the stray bullets of our soldiers?

How would we defend ourselves against stray bullets from our own police, shooting back at them? Do we not suffer collateral damage, too? The big difference would be the police wear our own country's uniform but everyone knows the drones over Pakistan do not belong to Pakistan's police. Yes, the U.S. is considered to be an invader with the drones and even worse with our soldiers on the ground there.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

Are you saying that the U.S. should put soldiers into Pakistan so that the civilians there can defend themselves against the stray bullets of our soldiers?

Currently - we have no business in any capacity to be in Pakistan - and as such droning is a terrorist/criminal action committed by the USA. Declaring war and sending in troops would in no way be better - it would just be more honest - still criminal at this point in time - but more honest. Perhaps if the government sent in troops - there might be larger protest from USA citizens.

As for our police? And I take it - shooting at us? That is a whole different situation - and also criminal - of the police. Still an entirely different situation than the criminal droning in Pakistani villages.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

There is the concept of proportionality. The terrorists strike and escape into the safe haven in Pakistan so the U.S. strikes them and returns the drones to base. They do it with people and the U.S. does it with people, too, albeit thousands of miles away. There IS a person pulling the trigger behind each drone attack, the difference being the very high chance that that person would not be injured or killed in the act. That contributes to the minimization of damages to lives.

[-] 2 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2171) 3 minutes ago

It really all comes down to the fact that Pakistan is a very weak state on the brink of collapse with nuclear weapons ready to be dispersed worldwide. Pakistan cannot police its own domain, especially the so-called lawless tribal areas. The weakness showed when Pakistan allowed a different set of laws to apply in different parts of it, so yes, Shar'ia applies in some places and there are on-going struggles about what laws should apply and where.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

In their area of the world? I do not see them as especially weak. I see them as quite the corrupt government but not especially more so than our government. They play the games of their neighborhood as does the USA. Only Our neighborhood is the world - Pakistans (?) is largely India and Afghanistan.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

The U.S. can muddle worldwide because of its good neighbors. That is far better than fighting over whether or should Mosaic or Islamic laws apply and where.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

I define a state by where its laws apply with near certainty. Pakistan is therefore a weak state. In some areas, the U.S. is no better such as immigration. We do not have a shooting war with illegal immigrants from Mexico like Pakistan does with their unsavory neighbors from Afghanistan. Strangely or not, these illegal immigrants are far more peaceful than the other variety so yes, thank you very much, Mexico!

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2181) 11 minutes ago

Ancient heritage and the curse of societies. Good night.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

All kidding aside - Honestly - my understanding of Mosaic law? Was the fact that it was put forth in all of it's intricate detail as an example of being impossible for a mere mortal to be able to follow - and so the need for understanding and forgiveness.

Good Night.

BTW - for any who might be interested and not aware - the original priests of the Christian Religion - were not forbidden to marry - they were ( according to the written word ) supposed to get married - and their children were supposed to be priests. It was supposed to be a father to son passing a lineage of priests. Another example of something mortals can not follow as instructed/required?

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Ancient religions tend to have later modifications added to their laws to canonize human idiosyncrasies.

Priests not allowed to marry was likely the Catholic Church's way of growing its wealth and that might have contributed to the priest-sex scandals. The Lord's Prayer for Catholics has the phrase "as we forgive those who trespass against us." I remember vaguely that ONLY God has the power to forgive sins. Are we actually corrupting every Catholic with their prayer that usurps God's power to forgive sins? Maybe we should have instead "as we forget the foul deeds of those who trespass against us?"

The subservient status of women was not part of the original Islam. It is likely the result of patriarchy's infusion into Islam.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

The Mosaic Laws were sent to condemn the world - akin to the U.S. tax code's requirements on criminals or gamblers to report their criminal monetary gains or gambling gains to our federal government.

No criminals are stupid enough to declare their criminal monetary gains to our U.S. government but their ignoring our tax code's requirements provides the LEGAL BASIS for reasonable searches and seizures while observing our constitutional right of habeas corpus. Habeas corpus is a right that we inherited from the English who had lived through tyranny to discover the importance of creating and observing rights. I would much prefer Pakistan to help provide the evidence for legal proceedings about accused terrorists in order to stop the drone strikes but like our Obama administration, Pakistan is a weak state that engages in the SELECTIVE enforcements of their laws. Absent ground support from Pakistan, Hopper's choppers drone on, in violation of habeas corpus.

Do Pakistan's laws provide for habeas corpus because without that the U.S. government can simply claim that the proceedings do not observe habeas corpus because they are done according to Pakistan's laws? Ergo my original question about what laws should apply to the cases of the alleged terrorists captured in a foreign country. The ancient Code of Hammurabi (yes, Iran and Iraq can claim credit for being one of the first peoples to bring order out of chaos and becoming civilized) seems to be satisfied by the current state of affairs of the drone strikes - the terrorists do not distinguish innocent civilians from combatants nor do the U.S. drones do that well at all although some shadier parts of the U.S. war apparatus try to achieve just that, often under the threats of being accused of spying by the host countries such as Pakistan.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2181) 1 minute ago

Mosaic means of Moses, the old laws passed down from God through Moses.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

Ahhhhhhhhh - well any and all laws can be - " and are " - abused by those with power.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Laws abused by those with power is an ancient heritage and the curse of societies. Singapore overcame that by paying their public servants huge amounts of money and prestige to ward off power abuses and corruptions. Good night.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2181) 1 minute ago

Corruption is the problem, whether for Pakistan, South America, and so on.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

Absolutely.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2181) 0 minutes ago

The U.S. can muddle worldwide because of its good neighbors. That is far better than fighting over whether or should Mosaic or Islamic laws apply and where.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

??? as in EH??? I like some mosaics - but to be honest art is not a huge passion of mine. But anyway what does that have to do with the price of pickles in this conversation?

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Mosaic means "of Moses," regarding the old laws passed down from God through Moses.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 2 points by grapes (2177) 1 hour ago

Builder types on a qwerty keyboard too fast perhaps?

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

Is there another kind? Other than qwerty? Personally - I think that he is just having fun with the word/concept.

[-] 1 points by MattLHolck (16833) from San Diego, CA 6 months ago

blurry language allows us to get away with murder

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Yes.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2177) 4 minutes ago

Mexico tried to clean up their drug problem but the U.S. had certainly contributed to it through our drug addiction so Mexico is far more dependable fighting drugs than Pakistan fighting terrorists from Afghanistan.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

um yes and no - Mexico and all of South America as well as the USA could be very successful in fighting a real drug war - problem being - there is too much money to be made - on legal as well as illegal drugs - so - corrupt individuals in positions of power will always sabotage any real drug enforcement against the powers of the drug industries.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Corruption is the problem, whether for Pakistan, South America, and so on.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2177) 0 minutes ago

We should all bark up Eric Holder's tree or bring a pruner or chainsaw.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

Yes - YES We Should. The majority of the population is in the range of individual income of just making ends meet and being the abject poor. There is no reason at all - if majority actually rules - that this country is run the way it is by those that have been put in charge.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2177) 1 minute ago

Our problem is in the enforcement of the laws, not the fundamental questioning of whether Old Testament laws apply in Queens or whether there is an insurgency there trying to establish these laws.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

" Our problem is in the enforcement of the laws "

Yes - equal enforcement of all of the laws on all of the people - rich or poor - the laws which society has made - not laws that TPTB have made to control the population to " their " ends.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

We should all bark up Eric Holder's tree or bring a pruner or chainsaw.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by grapes (2177) 0 minutes ago

I define a state by where its laws apply with near certainty. Pakistan is therefore a weak state. In some areas, the U.S. is no better such as immigration. We do not have a shooting war with illegal immigrants from Mexico like Pakistan does with their unsavory neighbors from Afghanistan. Strangely or not, these illegal immigrants are far more peaceful than the other variety so yes, thank you very much, Mexico!

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

" I define a state by where its laws apply with near certainty."

So - in the USA - that would be - law only applies to those who are not super wealthy - and quite a few laws only seem to apply to those who are just making ends meet or are in abject poverty.

Thanks Mexico? For giving us ( USA ) refugees/peaceful people/illegal immigrants fleeing their drug wars.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Mexico tried to clean up their drug problem but the U.S. had certainly contributed to it through our drug addictions so Mexico is far more dependable fighting drugs than Pakistan fighting terrorists from Afghanistan.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Our problem is in the enforcement of the laws, not the fundamental questioning of whether Old Testament laws apply in Queens or whether there is an insurgency there trying to establish these laws.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

That contributes to the minimization of damages to lives.

Oh cont-rare - it multiplies the damages to innocent lives - innocent lives - as those doing the impersonal droning feel no restraints - as our people are not in hazards way - there is no restraint on droning others civilian populations - which in my opinion makes us WORSE than the 911 terrorists - as we do it and do it and do it - over and over and over again and could care less about the innocent lives taken.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

It really all comes down to the fact that Pakistan is a very weak state on the brink of collapse with nuclear weapons ready to be dispersed worldwide. Pakistan cannot police its own domain, especially the so-called lawless tribal areas. The weakness showed when Pakistan allowed a different set of laws to apply in different parts of it, so yes, Shar'ia applies in some places and there are on-going struggles about what laws should apply and where.

[-] -1 points by Builder (4202) 6 months ago

Send in Al Qaeda.

Works everywhere else.

[-] 3 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

Send in Al Qaeda.

Yeah sure - why not? They are the ultimate evil and the best of allies - depending on the spin/goal.

[-] -2 points by Builder (4202) 6 months ago

They are one tool of the ultimate evil.

We are dealing with the debul now.

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by Builder (4164) 0 minutes ago

The creators of the original devil have now denied his existence. There is also no hell, according to the Catholic church.

To all those indigenous peoples that were infected by the churches rather widespread propaganda campaign, the debul is, indeed, still quite real.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

To "MY" understanding - Hell is the land of the dead - there is no eternal torture there - there is no consciousness there - there is nothing there - it is a state outside of time and awareness. The Fire and Brimstone Baptists would have a shit fit with that being expressed though.

[-] 1 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

There is no need to send in Al Qaeda - they have gathered in Afpak since the Soviet occupation of Afghanistan. I am wondering for what the former Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan.

I thought that we had learnt by now that those who played with fire (Al Qaeda) got to be burnt by the fire (9/11, Afpak war, Iraq war).

[-] 1 points by DKAtoday (34876) from Coon Rapids, MN 6 months ago

[-] 1 points by Builder (4164) 2 minutes ago

They are one tool of the ultimate evil.

We are dealing with the debul now.

↥twinkle ↧stinkle permalink

debul? de Bull? or de devil? There is a common thought that the debul? de Bull? or de devil? is a singular entity. I have always thought - that there was an original example and many current examples.

We are dealing with plenty of Bull now - we are also dealing with multitudes of evil ones.

[-] 0 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

Builder types on a qwerty keyboard too fast perhaps?

[-] -2 points by Builder (4202) 6 months ago

The creators of the original devil have now denied his existence. There is also no hell, according to the Catholic church.

To all those indigenous peoples that were infected by the churches rather widespread propaganda campaign, the debul is, indeed, still quite real.

[-] -1 points by AlwaysIntoSomething (42) 6 months ago

"What is a better policy?"

What is causing it? Usually a good place to start.

"Dey hate us fer ar freedums" ?

[-] 2 points by grapes (2763) 6 months ago

No, globalization mushed distinctive cultures and traditions together to create hatred where there was not.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

So what can we call him? A centrist? A liberal Republican? What?

In Europe, he would be center-right. Here, we say he's a centrist. But even that - being a centrist is also an ideology. People who are centrists have certain beliefs; they're not empty-headed. So I don't even know whether to call him that, because he doesn't have any strong beliefs.

The conservative wing of the Republican Party, Tea Party, which might make up, I don't know, 20 percent or 30 percent of the country - does that have any effect on moving the country more to the right and therefore moving whoever's president to the center-right? Or is this something he would do independently regardless of the Tea Party? What are the consequences of having an interest group like the Tea Party in the country? What does that mean for the United States in terms of our discourse, in terms of our day-to-day political life?

Obama would conduct himself the same way, Tea Party or not. I think they may have peaked from what I read. They're best days are gone, I think. That's good. The statements are so stupid. I mean even if you expect conservatives to be stupid, they still stood out. Like when they marched around saying to the government hands off our Social Security, they didn't even realize that the Social Security is in the government. So that is what has caused their short life.

Is there racism toward this president?

Oh, yeah. That's a major reason why he's opposed. I mean if he was white doing the same things, he would have much less opposition. But that's no reason for any progressive to support the man, because other people are racist. That doesn't give me any reason to support him. I mean other people are stupid and racist, that doesn't mean I have to support the object of their hatred. I mean I could just - I could attack the people who are the racists, which I do.

Copyright, Truthout.

[-] 2 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

America's Black-Ops Blackout: Unraveling the Secrets of the Military's Secret Military

Tuesday, 07 January 2014 13:11 By Nick Turse, TomDispatch | News Analysis

http://truth-out.org/news/item/21085-americas-black-ops-blackout-unraveling-the-secrets-of-the-militarys-secret-military

“Dude, I don’t need to play these stupid games. I know what you’re trying to do.” With that, Major Matthew Robert Bockholt hung up on me.

More than a month before, I had called U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) with a series of basic questions: In how many countries were U.S. Special Operations Forces deployed in 2013? Are manpower levels set to expand to 72,000 in 2014? Is SOCOM still aiming for growth rates of 3%-5% per year? How many training exercises did the command carry out in 2013? Basic stuff.

And for more than a month, I waited for answers. I called. I left messages. I emailed. I waited some more. I started to get the feeling that Special Operations Command didn’t want me to know what its Green Berets and Rangers, Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos -- the men who operate in the hottest of hotspots and most remote locales around the world -- were doing.

Then, at the last moment, just before my filing deadline, Special Operations Command got back to me with an answer so incongruous, confusing, and contradictory that I was glad I had given up on SOCOM and tried to figure things out for myself.

US Special Operations Forces around the world, 2012-2013 (key below article)* ©2014 TomDispatch ©Google

Click here to see a larger version http://www.tomdispatch.com/images/managed/socommap4_large.jpg

I started with a blank map that quickly turned into a global pincushion. It didn’t take long before every continent but Antarctica was bristling with markers indicating special operations forces’ missions, deployments, and interactions with foreign military forces in 2012-2013. With that, the true size and scope of the U.S. military’s secret military began to come into focus. It was, to say the least, vast.

A review of open source information reveals that in 2012 and 2013, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) were likely deployed to -- or training, advising, or operating with the personnel of -- more than 100 foreign countries. And that’s probably an undercount. In 2011, then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that Special Operations personnel were annually sent to 120 countries around the world. They were in, that is, about 60% of the nations on the planet. “We’re deployed in a number of locations,” was as specific as Bockholt would ever get when I talked to him in the waning days of 2013. And when SOCOM did finally get back to me with an eleventh hour answer, the number offered made almost no sense.

Despite the lack of official cooperation, an analysis by TomDispatch reveals SOCOM to be a command on the make with an already sprawling reach. As Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven put it in SOCOM 2020, his blueprint for the future, it has ambitious aspirations to create “a Global SOF network of like-minded interagency allies and partners.” In other words, in that future now only six years off, it wants to be everywhere.

The Rise of the Military’s Secret Military

Born of a failed 1980 raid to rescue American hostages in Iran (in which eight U.S. service members died), U.S. Special Operations Command was established in 1987. Made up of units from all the service branches, SOCOM is tasked with carrying out Washington’s most specialized and secret missions, including assassinations, counterterrorist raids, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

In the post-9/11 era, the command has grown steadily. With about 33,000 personnel in 2001, it is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 in 2014. (About half this number are called, in the jargon of the trade, “badged operators” -- SEALs, Rangers, Special Operations Aviators, Green Berets -- while the rest are support personnel.) Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as SOCOM’s baseline budget tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.9 billion between 2001 and 2013. If you add in supplemental funding, it had actuallymore thanquadrupled to $10.4 billion.

Not surprisingly, personnel deployments abroad skyrocketed from 4,900 “man-years” -- as the command puts it -- in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013. About 11,000 special operators are now working abroad at any one time and on any given day they are in 70 to 80 countries, though the New York Times reported that, according to statistics provided to them by SOCOM, during one week in March 2013 that number reached 92.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

The Global SOF Network

Last year, Admiral McRaven, who previously headed the Joint Special Operations Command, or JSOC -- a clandestine sub-command that specializes in tracking and killing suspected terrorists -- touted his vision for special ops globalization. In a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, he said:

“USSOCOM is enhancing its global network of SOF to support our interagency and international partners in order to gain expanded situational awareness of emerging threats and opportunities. The network enables small, persistent presence in critical locations, and facilitates engagement where necessary or appropriate...”

In translation this means that SOCOM is weaving a complex web of alliances with government agencies at home and militaries abroad to ensure that it’s at the center of every conceivable global hotspot and power center. In fact, Special Operations Command has turned the planet into a giant battlefield, divided into many discrete fronts: the self-explanatory SOCAFRICA; the sub-unified command of U.S. Central Command in the Middle East SOCCENT; the European contingent SOCEUR; SOCKOR, which is devoted strictly to Korea; SOCPAC, which covers the rest of the Asia-Pacific region; and SOCSOUTH, which conducts special ops missions in Central and South America and the Caribbean, as well as the globe-trotting JSOC.

Since 2002, SOCOM has also been authorized to create its own Joint Task Forces, a prerogative normally limited to larger combatant commands like CENTCOM. These include Joint Special Operations Task Force-Philippines, 500-600 personnel dedicated to supporting counterterrorist operations by Filipino allies against insurgent groups like Abu Sayyaf.

A similar mouthful of an entity is the NATO Special Operations Component Command-Afghanistan/Special Operations Joint Task Force-Afghanistan, which conducts operations, according to SOCOM, “to enable the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF), the Afghan National Security Force (ANSF), and the Government of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan (GIRoA) to provide the Afghan people a secure and stable environment and to prevent insurgent activities from threatening the authority and sovereignty of GIRoA.” Last year, U.S.-allied Afghan President Ha­mid Karzai had a different assessment of the “U.S. special force stationed in Wardak province,” which he accused of “harassing, annoying, torturing, and even murdering innocent people.”

According to the latest statistics made available by ISAF, from October 2012 through March 2013, U.S. and allied forces were involved in 1,464 special operations in Afghanistan, including 167 with U.S. or coalition forces in the lead and 85 that were unilateral ISAF operations. U.S. Special Operations forces are also involved in everything from mentoring lightly armed local security forces under the Village Stability Operations initiative to the training of heavily armed and well-equipped elite Afghan forces -- one of whose U.S.-trained officers defected to the insurgency in the fall.

In addition to task forces, there are also Special Operations Command Forward (SOC FWD) elements which, according to the military, “shape and coordinate special operations forces security cooperation and engagement in support of theater special operations command, geographic combatant command, and country team goals and objectives.” These light footprint teams -- including SOC FWD Pakistan, SOC FWD Yemen, and SOC FWD Lebanon -- offer training and support to local elite troops in foreign hotspots. In Lebanon, for instance, this has meant counterterrorism training for Lebanese Special Ops forces, as well as assistance to the Lebanese Special Forces School to develop indigenous trainers to mentor other Lebanese military personnel.

Special Operations Command Central (SOCCENT) briefing slide by Col. Joe Osborne, showing SOC FWD elements.

Click here to see a larger version http://www.tomdispatch.com/images/managed/soccent_large.jpg

SOCOM’s reach and global ambitions go further still. TomDispatch’s analysis of McRaven’s first two full years in command reveals a tremendous number of overseas operations. In places like Somalia and Libya, elite troops have carried out clandestine commando raids. In others, they have used airpower to hunt, target, and kill suspected militants. Elsewhere, they have waged an information war using online propaganda. And almost everywhere they have been at work building up and forging ever-tighter ties with foreign militaries through training missions and exercises.

“A lot of what we will do as we go forward in this force is build partner capacity,” McRaven said at the Ronald Reagan Library in November, noting that NATO partners as well as allies in the Middle East, Asia, and Latin America “are absolutely essential to how we’re doing business.”

In March 2013, for example, Navy SEALs conducted joint training exercises with Indonesian frogmen. In April and May, U.S. Special Operations personnel joined members of the Malawi Defense Forces for Exercise Epic Guardian. Over three weeks, 1,000 troops engaged in marksmanship, small unit tactics, close quarters combat training, and other activities across three countries -- Djibouti, Malawi, and the Seychelles.

In May, American special operators took part in Spring Storm, the Estonian military’s largest annual training exercise. That same month, members of the Peruvian and U.S. special operations forces engaged in joint training missions aimed at trading tactics and improving their ability to conduct joint operations. In July, Green Berets from the Army’s 20th Special Forces Group spent several weeks in Trinidad and Tobago working with members of that tiny nation’s Special Naval Unit and Special Forces Operation Detachment. That Joint Combined Exchange Training exercise, conducted as part of SOCSOUTH’s Theater Security Cooperation program, saw the Americans and their local counterparts take part in pistol and rifle instruction and small unit tactical exercises.

In September, according to media reports, U.S. Special Operations forces joined elite troops from the 10 Association of Southeast Asian Nations member countries -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia -- as well as their counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Russia for a US-Indonesian joint-funded coun­terterrorism exercise held at a training center in Sentul, West Java.

Tactical training was, however, just part of the story. In March 2013, for example, experts from the Army’s John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School hosted a week-long working group with top planners from the Centro de Adiestramiento de las Fuerzas Especiales -- Mexico’s Special Warfare Center -- to aid them in developing their own special forces doctrine.

In October, members of the Norwegian Special Operations Forces traveled to SOCOM's state-of-the-art Wargame Center at its headquarters on MacDill Air Force Base in Florida to refine crisis response procedures for hostage rescue operations. “NORSOF and Norwegian civilian leadership regularly participate in national field training exercises focused on a scenario like this,” said Norwegian Lieutenant Colonel Petter Hellesen. “What was unique about this exercise was that we were able to gather so many of the Norwegian senior leadership and action officers, civilian and military, in one room with their U.S counterparts.”

MacDill is, in fact, fast becoming a worldwide special ops hub, according to a report by the Tampa Tribune. This past fall, SOCOM quietly started up an International Special Operations Forces Coordination Center that provides long-term residencies for senior-level black ops liaisons from around the world. Already, representatives from 10 nations had joined the command with around 24 more slated to come on board in the next 12-18 months, per McRaven’s global vision.

In the coming years, more and more interactions between U.S. elite forces and their foreign counterparts will undoubtedly take place in Florida, but most will likely still occur -- as they do today -- overseas. TomDispatch’s analysis of official government documents and news releases as well as press reports indicates that U.S. Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed to or involved with the militaries of 106 nations around the world during 2012-2013.

For years, the command has claimed that divulging the names of these countries would upset foreign allies and endanger U.S. personnel. SOCOM’s Bockholt insisted to me that merely offering the total number would do the same. “You understand that there is information about our military… that is contradictory to reporting,” he told me. “There’s certain things we can’t release to the public for the safety of our service members both at home and abroad. I’m not sure why you’d be interested in reporting that.”

In response, I asked how a mere number could jeopardize the lives of Special Ops personnel, and he responded, “When you work with the partners we work with in the different countries, each country is very particular.” He refused to elaborate further on what this meant or how it pertained to a simple count of countries. Why SOCOM eventually offered me a number, given these supposed dangers, was never explained.

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

Bringing the War Home

This year, Special Operations Command has plans to make major inroads into yet another country -- the United States. The establishment of SOCNORTH in 2014, according to the command, is intended to help “defend North America by outpacing all threats, maintaining faith with our people, and supporting them in their times of greatest need.” Under the auspices of U.S. Northern Command, SOCNORTH will have responsibility for the U.S., Canada, Mexico, and portions of the Caribbean.

While Congressional pushback has thus far thwarted Admiral McRaven’s efforts to create a SOCOM satellite headquarters for the more than 300 special operators working in Washington, D.C. (at the cost of $10 million annually), the command has nonetheless stationed support teams and liaisons all over the capital in a bid to embed itself ever more deeply inside the Beltway. “I have folks in every agency here in Washington, D.C. -- from the CIA, to the FBI, to the National Security Agency, to the National Geospatial Agency, to the Defense Intelligence Agency,” McRaven said during a panel discussion at Washington’s Wilson Center in 2013. Referring to the acronyms of the many agencies with which SOCOM has forged ties, McRaven continued: “If there are three letters, and in some cases four, I have a person there. And they have had a reciprocal agreement with us. I have somebody in my headquarters at Tampa.” Speaking at Ronald Reagan Library in November, he put the number of agencies where SOCOM is currently embedded at 38.

“Given the importance of interagency collaboration, USSOCOM is placing greater emphasis on its presence in the National Capital Region to better support coordination and decision making with interagency partners. Thus, USSOCOM began to consolidate its presence in the NCR [National Capitol Region]in early 2012,” McRaven told the House Armed Services Committee last year.

One unsung SOCOM partner is U.S. AID, the government agency devoted to providing civilian foreign aid to countries around the world whose mandate includes the protection of human rights, the prevention of armed conflicts, the provision of humanitarian assistance, and the fostering of “good will abroad.” At a July 2013 conference, Beth Cole, the director of the Office of Civilian-Military Cooperation at U.S. AID, explained just how her agency was now quietly aiding the military’s secret military.

“In Yemen, for example, our mission director has SVTCs [secure video teleconferences] with SOCOM personnel on a regular basis now. That didn’t occur two years ago, three years ago, four years ago, five years ago,” Cole said, according to a transcript of the event. But that was only the start. “My office at U.S. AID supports SOF pre-deployment training in preparation for missions throughout the globe... I’m proud that my office and U.S. AID have been providing training support to several hundred Army, Navy, and Marine Special Operations personnel who have been regularly deploying to Afghanistan, and we will continue to do that.”

Cole noted that, in Afghanistan, U.S. AID personnel were sometimes working hand-in-hand on the Village Stability Operation initiative with Special Ops forces. In certain areas, she said, “we can dual-hat some of our field program officers as LNOs [liaison officers] in those Joint Special Operations task forces and be able to execute the development work that we need to do alongside of the Special Operations Forces.” She even suggested taking a close look at whether this melding of her civilian agency and special ops might prove to be a model for operations elsewhere in the world.

Cole also mentioned that her office would be training “a senior person” working for McRaven, the man about to “head the SOF element Lebanon” -- possibly a reference to the shadowy SOC FWD Lebanon. U.S. AID would, she said, serve as a facilitator in that country, making “sure that he has those relationships that he needs to be able to deal with what is a very, very, very serious problem for our government and for the people of that region.”

U.S. AID is also serving as a facilitator closer to home. Cole noted that her agency was sending advisors to SOCOM headquarters in Florida and had “arranged meetings for [special operators] with experts, done roundtables for them, immersed them in the environment that we understand before they go out to the mission area and connect them with people on the ground.” All of this points to another emerging trend: SOCOM’s invasion of the civilian sphere.

In remarks before the House Armed Services Committee, Admiral McRaven noted that his Washington operation, the SOCOM NCR, “conducts outreach to academia, non-governmental organizations, industry, and other private sector organizations to get their perspective on complex issues affecting SOF.” Speaking at the Wilson Center, he was even more blunt: “[W]e also have liaison officers with industry and with academia... We put some of our best and brightest in some of the academic institutions so we can understand what academia is thinking about.”

[-] 1 points by LeoYo (5843) 6 months ago

SOCOM’s Information Warfare

Not content with a global presence in the physical world, SOCOM has also taken to cyberspace where it operates the Trans Regional Web Initiative, a network of 10 propaganda websites that are run by various combatant commands and made to look like legitimate news outlets. These shadowy sites -- including KhabarSouthAsia.com, Magharebia which targets North Africa, an effort aimed at the Middle East known as Al-Shorfa.com, and another targeting Latin America called Infosurhoy.com -- state only in fine print that they are “sponsored by” the U.S. military.

Last June, the Senate Armed Services Committee called out the Trans Regional Web Initiative for “excessive” costs while stating that the “effectiveness of the websites is questionable and the performance metrics do not justify the expense.” In November, SOCOM announced that it was nonetheless seeking to identify industry partners who, under the Initiative, could potentially “develop new websites tailored to foreign audiences.”

Just as SOCOM is working to influence audiences abroad, it is also engaged in stringent information control at home -- at least when it comes to me. Major Bockholt made it clear that SOCOM objected to a 2011 article of mine about U.S. Special Operations forces. “Some of that stuff was inconsistent with actual facts,” he told me. I asked what exactly was inconsistent. “Some of the stuff you wrote about JSOC… I think I read some information about indiscriminate killing or things like that.”

I knew right away just the quote he was undoubtedly referring to -- a mention of the Joint Special Operations Command’s overseas kill/capture campaign as “an almost industrial-scale counterterrorism killing machine.” Bockholt said that it was indeed “one quote of concern.” The only trouble: I didn’t say it. It was, as I stated very plainly in the piece, the assessment given by John Nagl, a retired Army lieutenant colonel and former counterinsurgency adviser to now-retired general and former CIA director David Petraeus.

Bockholt offered no further examples of inconsistencies. I asked if he challenged my characterization of any information from an interview I conducted with then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye. He did not. Instead, he explained that SOCOM had issues with my work in general. “As we look at the characterization of your writing, overall, and I know you’ve had some stuff on Vietnam [an apparent reference to my bestselling book, Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam] and things like that -- because of your style, we have to be very particular on how we answer your questions because of how you tend to use that information.” Bockholt then asked if I was anti-military. I responded that I hold all subjects that I cover to a high standard.

Bockholt next took a verbal swipe at the website where I’m managing editor, TomDispatch.com. Given Special Operations Command’s penchant for dabbling in dubious new sites, I was struck when he said that TomDispatch -- which has published original news, analysis, and commentary for more than a decade and won the 2013 Utne Media Award for “best political coverage” -- was not a “real outlet.” It was, to me, a daring position to take when SOCOM’s shadowy Middle Eastern news site Al-Shorfa.com actually carries a disclaimer that it “cannot guarantee the accuracy of the information provided.”

With my deadline looming, I was putting the finishing touches on this article when an email arrived from Mike Janssen of SOCOM Public Affairs. It was -- finally -- a seemingly simple answer to what seemed like an astonishingly straightforward question asked a more than a month before: What was the total number of countries in which Special Operations forces were deployed in 2013? Janssen was concise. His answer: 80.

How, I wondered, could that be? In the midst of McRaven’s Global SOF network initiative, could SOCOM have scaled back their deployments from 120 in 2011 to just 80 last year? And if Special Operations forces were deployed in 92 nations during just one week in 2013, according to official statistics provided to the New York Times, how could they have been present in 12 fewer countries for the entire year? And why, in his March 2013 posture statement to the House Armed Services Committee, would Admiral McRaven mention "annual deployments to over 100 countries?" With minutes to spare, I called Mike Janssen for a clarification. “I don’t have any information on that,” he told me and asked me to submit my question in writing -- precisely what I had done more than a month before in an effort to get a timely response to this straightforward and essential question.

Today, Special Operations Command finds itself at a crossroads. It is attempting to influence populations overseas, while at home trying to keep Americans in the dark about its activities; expanding its reach, impact, and influence, while working to remain deep in the shadows; conducting operations all over the globe, while professing only to be operating in “a number of locations”; claiming worldwide deployments have markedly dropped in the last year, when evidence suggests otherwise.

“I know what you’re trying to do,” Bockholt said cryptically before he hung up on me -- as if the continuing questions of a reporter trying to get answers to basic information after a month of waiting were beyond the pale. In the meantime, whatever Special Operations Command is trying to do globally and at home, Bockholt and others at SOCOM are working to keep it as secret as possible.

*Key to the Map of U.S. Special Operations Forces around the world, 2012-2013

Red markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces deployment in 2013.

Blue markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces working with/training/advising/conducting operations with indigenous troops in the U.S. or a third country during 2013.

Purple markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces deployment in 2012.

Yellow markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces working with/training/advising/conducting operations with indigenous troops in the U.S. or a third country during 2012.

To stay on top of important articles like these, sign up to receive the latest updates from TomDispatch.com here http://eepurl.com/lsFRj

[+] -4 points by AlwaysIntoSomething (42) 6 months ago

"The most important lesson one can acquire about US foreign policy is the understanding that our leaders do not mean well. They do not have any noble goals of democracy and freedom and all that jazz. They aim to dominate the world by any means necessary. And as long as an American believes that the intentions are noble and honorable, it's very difficult to penetrate that wall. That wall surrounds the thinking and blocks any attempt to make them realize the harm being done by US foreign policy. "

Sounds like a lot of people....eh hmmmmm....