DID PAT TILLMAN REACH OUT FROM THE GRAVE?
Why would a general want to leave a command, especially one as challenging as Afghanistan? Think of it, no more meetings with President Karzai. Picture yourself, sitting in Kabul. Still in Kabul, looking south at failure. Long ago, when Paul Wolfowitz and Karl Rove, called “Dog Boy and Turd Blossom” by President Bush, were selecting the worst possible weaklings and con men to act as American puppets, the new governments of, first Afghanistan and then Iraq, the names Hamed Karzai and Ahjmed Chalibi were, not just the short list, they were the only list.
The task was simple, as outlined by Vice President Dick Cheney and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld. The candidates had to be weak, corrupt, useless, conniving and distrusted by their own people. Their tasks were clear. They had to set up a puppet dictatorship, a platform for a war their incompetence would turn into years of civil war and low intensity conflicts, an environment for a seemingly endless entangling failure. With billions in no-bid contracts to pay off political allies and opponents alike, each nation would sink into poverty, ethnic, regional and sectarian violence, warlordism and militias would abound.
The major accomplishment would be to attract extremist elements from the Islamic world, into an environment filled with weapons, training expertise and American soldiers to kill. The underlying task was to create, not a ten year war, but a 50 year War on Terror to replace the failed Cold War, a multi-generational conflict that could be controlled like turning the knob on a stove. Just as with Operation Northwood, the Department of Defense plan to stage terror attacks to justify an invasion of Cuba in 1962 or the recent admissions of rogue Israeli operations, operations exposed by the brave admissions of Ambassador Michael Oren, this kind of war could be nurtured, managed a thousand ways.
It was into this environment we dumped General Stanley McChrystal, consigned to babysit President Karzai and oversee a decade of “rope-a-dope” military operations, all with a clear set of operational goals, don’t interfere with the corrupt Karzai dictatorship and leave the $65 billion dollar drug business in the hands of “your elders.” General Stanley McChrystal, during his “Bush years” oversaw phantom operations meant to foment terrorism, radicalize Islam and create a siege mentality inside America.
Why would someone want to quit a job like that? All you had to do to keep your job was to lose and lie, lie and lose. What more would a military commander wish for?
After last months attack on the Loya Jirga, the meeting of Afghanistan’s senior elders, Karzai fired his top security officials, the only men surrounding him capable of any strategic comprehension. The Jirga itself was a sham, with many names omitted and many more added, all to give more of the look of an American political convention than a tribal conference. Karzai’s rule died there and then. Rule? They call him the “Mayor of Kabul.”
McChrystal held on, for awhile at least. With the billions in drug money floating around, floating into so many pockets, buying everyone in sight, no report will come out, certainly not from Holbrooke nor especially from the CIA. Wouldn’t it be nice to hear, “I coudn’t take it anymore. I didn’t sign up to be a security guard at a whore house.” But that isn’t true, that is exactly the job Stanely McChrystal did sign up for. With a bit more talent, he could have played piano.
THE “TILLMAN STAIN”
McChrystal had been bloodied before, particularly by the Pat Tillman affair. Tillman was an amazing man, a top professional footballer who left a multi-million dollar career to become an Army Ranger. Far from being a typical “dumb jock,” Tillman was a brilliant scholar and student of philosophy. On April 22, 2004, Tillman was killed in Afghanistan. He was posthumously awarded the Silver Star and Purple Heart. The death, like every other tragedy from 9/11 to Terry Schiavo, was played for maximum publicity by the Bush administration, milked, not only to promote war but as blatant self aggrandizement for Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and Rove, leaders whose military credentials were in serious need of a bit of polish.
General McChrystal issued a report siting enemy action for the death but later sent out a report indicating possible friendly fire as the actual cause. Chris Matthews of Hardall, on July 26, 2007 cited the killing as “fragging” a form of intentional homocide. Autopsy results indicated no possible rationale for Cpl. Tillman’s death other than a premediated murder, with multiple 5.56mm bullets striking the Ranger in a tight pattern. These were carefully aimed shots fired from only a few feet away, no other explanation is possible although many were given, and supported by the Army. The doctors who examined the wounds said “murder” but the Army had another agenda, one General McChrystal signed onto, one of deception.
What began to come out was that every word released by the Army under the watchful authority of General McChrystal was a lie, not just the murder being depicted as “enemy action” but every detail of the continually changing stories describing what now looks to be a political assassination. Cpl. Tillman had begun to openly discuss views “unfavorable” to the continuation of the war. Tillman was not the “George Bush” crusader robot he was supposed to be. He had disappointed. He was going to have to pay.
With the presence of a sniper team nearby, a fact previously withheld, the source of the virtual “firing squad” salvo that killed Tillman was obvious. What is also obvious is that Tillman was murdered at the direct orders of the highest authorities of the White House. One “dead Tillman” talking peace could have been worth a thousand “live Tillmans” in the field, if all of those threatened and coerced had only kept silent.
Whatever Stanley McChrystal does with his life, pandering to neocon extremists, the “book” and the tours that go with it or real retirement, the murder of Pat Tillman will follow him to the end of his days.
THE KARZAI KLOWN KOLLEGE OF KABUL
Imagine winning a war by hiring your enemy to handle security for your logistics. Imagine doing so in a landlocked country with supply lines not seen since the Burma Road in World War II. Imagine, coercing an enemy to the negotiation table who you are actually paying to fight you. ”Please, if you don’t stop attacking us, we will bring in more troops and have to pay you millions of dollars to deliver their ammunition and food.”
Can it get worse?
Imagine your allies in Afghanistan. You have an army and national police force that, with ten years of training and billions of dollars spent, are less effective each day, a force seen by the people of Afghanistan as a threat. The army, of course, was built with one purpose, to incite a civil war. The Pashtuns of Afghanistan, the majority population, see the army, made up almost entirely of northern tribes who settled the region from the Steppes of Russia, as a national minority. When the same minority is armed and moving into the South under orders from President Karzai, it is an invading force.
Is it a good thing if the people of the country hate the national army, many of whom are mercenary gangsters led by the druglord friends of the Karzai brothers, reputed to be the largest drug cartel in the world. Karzai and Richard Holbrooke, President Obama’s special envoy, see eye to eye on many things, or rather fail to see at all. Neither seem to be able to find a poppy field nor can they find the massive economic corruption that eats up the majority of expenditures earmarked for military and police readiness or nation building projects. Supplied by the US with billions of dollars in discretional personal spending earmarked by “Karzai Incorporated” for other projects, enriching allies, buying loyalty or suppressing dissent, any hope of democracy in Afghanistan is nothing but clowning around.
CUTTING TO THE CHASE
We all know about Joe Biden. I can see him, yarmulke carefully perched on his head, declaring his undying loyalty to Israel. You could smell the lack of character through the television set. Richard Holbrooke is no surprise either, we understand why McChrystal hated him also. Then again, we also remember the Marjeh operation, America’s military tooling its way down to Helmand province, the ragtag rabble of the failed Afghan army in tow, out to oversee the opium harvest in a few small villages misrepresented as a large urban center, a regional Taliban bastion. One “Israeli commando” with a bulldozer could have taken the whole place down in an afternoon.
These realities seemed to escape the general during his tenure in Afghanistan:
- Only a small minority of insurgents fighting the US qualify under our definition of Taliban. As the word “taliban” means “student,” the wider use easily applies to any follower of the teachings, Mohammed (Peace be on Him) , Jesus Christ or Buddha. Had we not placed Karzai in Kabul, we would not have a war today.
- Karzai was defeated in a rigged election. What this means is that, despite massive voter fraud, it was still necessary for him to rig election results too. He lost by that much.
- Karzai’s recent efforts have been to gain further control of the electoral process, using influence paid for with drug money, fraudulent awards of US contracts and outright gangsterism.
- General McChrystal is being criticized for strict rules of engagements to prevent civilian casualties. Many call him weak for this. He is really weak for failing to inform America that we are fighting civilians, the entire nation of Afghanistan. The only person in the country we are sure isn’t Taliban is Karzai. They woudn’t have him.
- It would have simply been acceptable for General McChrystal to resign rather than slinking away from a disastrous military defeat by petty whining, no matter how accurate, carefully calculated to force the president to remove him.
General McChrystal may still have a chance to write his own place in history. There is much he could do for the veterans, tens of thousands, who suffered under his command. There is much he could say about the controlled press or his own failures and what he would do differently, given the chance. Considering he leaves his command in the worst possible condition imaginable, he must have some fascinating insights to pass on.
Some say McChrystal will become the darling of the far right, that medling of guns, oil and kosher baloney. Only time will tell.
Gordon Duff is a Marine Vietnam veteran. A 100% disabled vet. He has been a featured commentator on TV and radio including Al Jazeera and his articles have been carried by news services around the world. He has been a UN Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues. This article first appeared in Veterans and Foreign Affairs Journal.