Monday, July 11, 2016

It's the Militarization of a Culture at Perpetual War That is to Blame, Not Black Lives Matter

The effort is underway to link the Thursday night police-targeted shootings in Dallas by Army Reserve veteran Micah Johnson with Black Lives Matter. Nowhere have I seen mentioned the obvious linkage, not with Black Lives Matter, but with the U.S. military. Johnson was deployed overseas to Afghanistan. Johnson's CV is all military. According to Richard Faussett, Manny Fernandez and Alan Blinder in "Micah Johnson, Gunman in Dallas, Honed Military Skills to a Deadly Conclusion":
. . . [A]fter Johnson graduated from John Horn High School in Mesquite, Tex., where he had shown some interest in the military, going so far as to participate in the school’s Junior Reserve Officers Training Corps program. He was not, it seemed on Saturday, a standout: Horn’s former J.R.O.T.C. instructor said he had little recollection of Mr. Johnson. 
He enlisted in the Army Reserve in 2009 and was assigned to a unit — a component of the 420th Engineer Brigade — near Dallas. More than four years later, the unit deployed to Afghanistan. But before the soldiers left for the Afghan theater, they stood in formation not far from the streets where Mr. Johnson would someday stage a siege.
Clearly the Army had more to do with the creation of Micah Johnson than Black Lives Matter. So why is Black Lives Matter being blamed for the deaths of police and not the Army Reserve? And why can't we read this as obvious blow back from a culture basted in militarism?

Obama performed his swan song at the NATO summit in Warsaw over the weekend, the main event being the celebration of the alliance's lurch to the East with garrisons in Latvia, Lithuania, Estonia and Poland, as well as four battalions to be based in Romania and Bulgaria.

The man who owes his place in history due to an ability to convince voters that he was a peace candidate has presided over the creation of a New Cold War with Russia and NATO's garrisoning of many of the nations of the former Warsaw Pact. A spectacular achievement of misdirection.

Obama was asked about this at the NATO summit. According to White House scribe Mark Landler in "Obama on ‘Brooding’ Over the Interminable Wars of His Presidency":
[A] reporter asked [Obama] at a NATO news conference about the nature of war in the 21st century — and, specifically, how he felt about the likelihood that he would be the first two-term president to have presided over a nation at war for every day of his presidency.
Speaking with striking candor for a public setting, Mr. Obama said: “As commander-in-chief of the most powerful military in the world, I spend a lot of time brooding over these issues. And I’m not satisfied that we’ve got it perfect yet.” But he added, “I can say, honestly, it’s better than it was when I came into office.” [Talk about chutzpah!]
The president pointed out that when he took office in 2009, the United States had 180,000 troops in Iraq and Afghanistan. Now that number is about 15,000. He also said these service members were not engaged in combat but in training, advising and equipping Iraqi and Afghan troops — though such roles have increasingly put them in combat situations.
Still, a week after announcing that the United States would leave 8,400 troops in Afghanistan for the foreseeable future, Mr. Obama acknowledged that the threat of terrorism, the resilience of groups like Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and the weakness of governments in Iraq and Afghanistan made it difficult for the United States to ever leave.
“It’s very hard for us ever to get the satisfaction of MacArthur and the emperor meeting and a war officially being over,” he said, referring to the surrender of Japan at the end of World War II.
Mr. Obama characterized his approach to war as a hybrid: committing limited numbers of American troops to conflict-ridden countries, but working with those countries to develop their own armies and police. He drew attention to an announcement at the Warsaw meeting that NATO would begin training Iraqi troops inside the country. (The alliance had already been training them in neighboring Jordan.)
In Landler's piece Obama hides behind the straw man that "There are fewer wars today between states, he said, and no wars between great powers," without acknowledging his reboot of the Cold War with Russia and his ballyhooed Asia pivot to confront China which is about to ratchet up several notches with The Hague set to rule tomorrow on the status of China's claim to Scarborough Shoal 140 miles off the Philippine coast.

The obvious is that the U.S. is on perpetual war footing with indefinite deployments in Africa, Afghanistan and the Middle East. Nations are shattered beyond repair. And Obama's overriding concern is that he will leave office before being able to thoroughly routinize this new perpetual warfare with its drones and mass surveillance and secret legal findings:
Earlier in his presidency, Mr. Obama spoke of taking the United States off the perpetual war footing of the post-9/11 era. These days — with troops going back into Iraq and Afghanistan, airstrikes in Libya, and drone strikes in Yemen and Pakistan — he says less about this. 
For Mr. Obama, who was a lawyer, the shadowy legal status of this hybrid form of warfare is another heavy burden. That, he said, helped explain why the White House issued a report two weeks ago disclosing estimates of the civilian casualties from drone strikes. 
“What I’m trying to do there is to institutionalize a system where we begin to hold ourselves accountable for this different kind of national security threat and these different kinds of operations,” he said. 


  1. Unfortunately, this is so true. One of the most frustrating things about having lived sixty-five years is that the lessons learned fifty years ago are rejected and the same propagandistic crap surrounding our endless wars continues. Since 11/22/63 the executive branch has been under the control of our military-industrial complex. So is our media, with each thread of it working for the next war. I noticed during the demonization of OJ Simpson how the the jokes at night dovetailed with the demonization during the trial. Dancing Itos. Now we have John Oliver leading the charge against Putin. Anthony Bourdain, between vodka shots and creme boule, always has something bad to say about how Putin treats the wonderful freedom-loving people so badly.

    When H. Clinton announced her foreign policy in one debate as getting justice for Crimea and establishing a no-fly zone in Syria she essentially declared war on Russia.

    So that's what we have to look forward to. And lest we forget, Russia has nukes.

  2. A good sign was that protests did not die down over the weekend. The youth are committed to staying mobilized. People underestimate the impact of Obama's failure in every single aspect of his presidency. Only the most committed partisans retain any faith in the political system. The shit is coming down. That is how I see it. As you allude, Bob, with Hillary we will be flirting with nuclear annihilation. We are twisting the Bear's tail. Wait until tomorrow when that ruling comes down outlawing all that island-building activity by the Chinese. Do you think the Dragon will kowtow? I think absolutely not. So what, are we going to go war over Scarborough Shoal? With Hillary at the helm, maybe.