Monday, March 12, 2012

The Latest Afghanistan Massacre -- and The Strange Ways of Propagandists

Interesting take on the latest Afghanistan Massacre in the mass media in this country. I was tooling around the MSNBC site, and it is really quite remarkable. (Note: I do not have cable teevee, and I have actually seen no teevee or video news at all on the Massacre. The information I'm using for this post is from MSNBC's website and other websites.)

The idea that American soldiers sometimes go berserk during our now endless wars of aggression overseas is not new by any means. There have been far too many cases of American soldiers and Marines exterminating this or that many civilians in foreign lands since the start of the Glorious Forever War on (Some) Terrorism. Massacre of civilians in combat zones has been far more frequent during most wars than many Americans realize, and in fact, from time to time in our long and bloody history, it has been policy.

Listen to an American Indian if you would like to know something about it.

Of course, the propaganda about these incidents generally devolves to two factors: 1) The gibbering Natives deserved it; 2) The poor soldier(s) were under so much stress due to battle fatigue or what have you that they couldn't control themselves (implied: nor should they be expected to do so in the face of so much provocation from the gibbering Natives.)

And finally, of course, the excuse is that that This Is War! "Bad things happen in wars!"

Yes, well.

In this case, the propaganda machine was seemingly a little slow and balky out of the starting gate, for it seems that the initial reports of this incident actually came from Afghan sources in the villages in question.

They were decidedly ugly reports. A squad of soldiers from a nearby forward operating base apparently went wilding, the way they sometimes do, and slaughtered everyone and everything they came upon during a nighttime operation of some sort, breaking into houses and killing all inside, as well as killing animals and torching corpses, before they passed on to the next compound and did the same thing.

From these reports, the image I got was of a "punitive expedition" such as might be conducted under the British Crown during the Days of Empire if even one hair on one European head was mussed by a Native during the quest for Empire. For as we know, the Natives of Afghanistan have been restless as all heck lately, and several American troops (officers even) have been rather rudely shot in their offices or training camps (apparently) by uppity Natives since the Koran burning incident some weeks ago. Were such killings of Imperial troops to take place during the British Empire, or even defiance, as an example, there would be massacres. The British were not alone in following up Native insolence with mass murder. It was general Euro-American policy to do so. Teach those Wogs a lesson!

But once the propaganda machine was geared up, the story about this incident was that there was "one" soldier, now being held in custody, a staff sergeant from Fort Lewis, Washington no less, with a wife and kids, who is "suspected" of having gone "rogue" and engaged in this unfortunate killing spree. He must have snapped, you see, under the stress. Just one. Rogue. These things happen. So sad. Dontchaknow. "Bad things happen in War."

But there was something more to the propaganda that was quite remarkable, and I don't know where it is going to lead: while there is no remorse or regret, there is a growing media question over whether this Afghanistan aggression is "worth the cost," and whether a withdrawal is called for sooner rather than later.

Echoes of Vietnam, certainly.

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Military discipline and the 'command climate' in Afghanistan comes into question after a U.S. soldier allegedly opened fire on sleeping civilians in Kandahar province. NBC's Jim Miklaszewski reports.

"These killings only serve to reinforce the mindset that the whole war is broken and that there's little we can do about it beyond trying to cut our losses and leave," said Joshua Foust, a security expert with the American Security Project.

Ordinarily, such fiercely negative commentary about our Imperial Adventures overseas would not appear in mainstream American media, and suggestions that we should perhaps consider leaving one or another satrapy in foreign lands would only be voiced in whispers in the halls of Power; we would rarely see such an open "debate" about such things in print and on the teevee.

What gives?

Obviously -- at least so it seems to me -- there is a strengthening contingent in those very halls of Power calling for an end to American military adventurism (again), and specifically for a quicker withdrawal from Afghanistan which is turning into yet another clusterfuck.

Of course, I take whatever appears in the mass media "news" to be propaganda, often on behalf of the Government (though not always) and always on behalf of the corporate entity that owns and controls the media outlet, essentially never on behalf of the American People, let alone the gibbering Natives overseas.

Thus, commentary such as appears in the "news" report linked from MSNBC is a calculated form of propaganda from "corporate" -- which has decided it is close to time, if not past time, to cut an run. They even post polls saying the American People some time ago decided this Afghanistan Adventure "wasn't worth it." They go so far as to suggest that allies are fleeing the fray.

And here and there on the web there is talk of "helicopters on the embassy roof..."

The departure of the Soviets from Afghanistan led to the eventual breakup of the Soviet Union itself. It was a world-changing event that we're all still stunned by and in some respects still paying for. The result was the catastrophic monopole of American Power that has led, once again, to disastrous Imperial Aggression overseas. So long as there was a Soviet Union, there was some sense of balance though far from perfect, to be sure. But now that the United States has become the sole global superpower, it's military might has become a more and more grotesque -- and rogue -- killing machine, with neither conscience nor higher purpose.

Massacres of unwary or uppity Natives have been far too commonplace since the revival of America's Imperial Juggernaut. Up to now, they have almost all been excused in the propaganda media as little more than aberrations or accidents. This time? No. This time it appears the propaganda is taking the massacre of Afghan civilians as a Sign and Portent.

Time to quit Afghanistan. But is it time for Americans to stand down?


  1. Sadly, the Obama Administration was quick to go full Colonel Klink on the subject.... They saw nothink. Two more years, was the conclusion, while Republicans think a dozen would be better. The truth must be somewhere in between.
    No matter how enormous the bucket of popcorn, it won't last 'till this movie's over.

  2. Sad to say, indeed.

    Every time we get close to thinking this Imperial nightmare might be over, it seems to start up all over again. My impression is that Obama is vexed by it all, whereas the Rs, if they had their way, would be claiming Imperial outposts non-stop, hollering like Daffy Duck at his most manic: "Mine! All Mine!"

    Sheesh, what did we do to deserve this.

  3. Gung-Ho Americans, the crypto-fascist Right, only understand wars of extermination. Like what we did to the Indians for example.

    We aren't fighting a war of extermination in Afghanistan. The goals of our government are supposed to leave behind a compliant client state in pretty firm control of the country and beholden to the U.S. of A. forever and ever. Something like what Pakistan used to be before we started randomly killing people there (or the gold standard for such states, Saudi Arabia).

    This means that while our local Gung-Ho warriors thrill to the destruction of native totems, like the Koran, the people in charge likely did a face palm maneuver and a sad shaking of their heads. (Since you bring up the British, remember that one of the causes of the Sepoy Mutiny was the rumor that gun cartridges, bitten open by native troops, were well greased with beef and pork fat. Why, I found a timely article about it on ABC! )

    As a devotee of Chalmers Johnson (may he rest in peace), I suspect such a client state is beyond current American capacities. And since we are currently losing the war on the moral "hearts and minds" level, it surely is going to end up being more expensive than its worth to our various oligarchs and their mountebank servants even if it is still within the realm of possibility.

    Oh, speaking of mountebanks, did you catch Atkins "humanitarian" defense of the Afghan adventure over on Digbys blog? Comedy gold! Well, if you enjoy gallows humor.

  4. I'm surprised at the Sepoy Mutiny story at ABC; somehow I never thought they'd make the connection. One of the favorite tactics of the British, besides impaling Natives on sharpened tree branches, was blowing them out of cannons. Haw Haw.

    Yes, it is a nasty business.

    As for Atkins, I'm resisting the urge to slap him around some more. I don't actually enjoy it much, but I think he does. Seems like there's always a pile-on over there. Ah, but not to worry. Graham will defend David's honor!


  5. I know... I probably shouldn't rise to his bait (and I do think he was baiting people "I don't understand how people can be against Virginia's new abortion law and not be in favor of the Afghan war.")