Mr. Obama’s Vietnam: The New Pentagon Papers

-

pent-papers.jpgThe extraordinary WikiLeaks dump of some 91,000 classified reports into the public sphere on America’s war in Afghanistan may be the game-changer in American support for a war that continues to worsen.
This is the “Pentagon Papers moment” in this contemporary war, and it will force President Obama and his team to go back and review first principles about the objectives of this war.
LBJ escalated the Vietnam War that he felt politically unable to escape.
The question is whether President Obama has the backbone and temerity to reframe this engagement and stop the hemorrhaging of American lives and those of allies as well as the gross expenditure of funds for a war that shows a diminished America that is killing hundreds of innocent people and lying about it, of an enemy that is animated and funded in part by our supposed allies in Pakistan, and US tolerance for a staggering level of abuse, incompetence and corruption in our Afghan allies in the Karzai government.
These revelations confirm what the Afghan War skeptics have been arguing for some time — and completely invalidate those who have been promulgating a rosier view of outcomes inside Afghanistan and trying to sell the false illusion that American partnership with Afghanistan is working. Regrettably, Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin — while formally opposed to the surge of combat forces into Afghanistan — has been one most blind to the failures of US-Afghan partnering rather than the successes, of which he so often speaks.
Daniel Ellsberg once told me (see TWN entry for September 28, 2004) that he hoped that a bureaucrat or soldier or spy would eventually take out of his or her safe the several feet thick pile of classified files on America’s ‘war on terror’ and put them out to the public. He said that this person — whoever it might be — would need enormous public support as the downside risks to one’s career and life were staggering given the State’s desire to squelch the nastier truths of war reaching the public.
Ellsberg’s hope has now become a reality — and when we eventually learn of the hero and/or heroes who brought this material to the public — he or they will need society’s thanks and support as the State will work to crush those that made this happen.
– Steve Clemons

Comments

19 comments on “Mr. Obama’s Vietnam: The New Pentagon Papers

  1. Don Bacon says:

    Regarding the impact of this disclosure, one thing to look at this week (before their adjournment) is the stripped-down war-funding bill received last Thursday from the Senate, after senators rejected the $23 billion domestic spending added by the House.
    The last vote, in June, was so shaky in June that Speaker Nancy Pelosi had to resurrect the

    Reply

  2. Carroll says:

    Another day of mind numbing hypocrisy …..
    ‘Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak threatened Lebanon with the implementation of the

    Reply

  3. BigB says:

    I’m not sure what Ms. Bottom Line is talking about. Talk about a non-sequitur.
    Anyway, I have read a lot of reporting on the release of these documents (that range from 2004 to the end of 2009) and no one is sounding an alarm on the revelation of any new and incriminating facts that hurt the US (although I have not read all of them myself).
    What I do think IS the big issue in these reports is the relationship of the ISI (Pakistani intelligence service) and the Taliban. This shady relationship, at the begining, was not intended to serve US interests in the region. As per Michael Scheurer’s article in “The Diplomat” ( http://the-diplomat.com/2010/07/26/us-must-grow-up-on-pakistan/ ), I’m of the mind that this relationship was a fence mending one. I would like to see if any credible evidence (there is a lot of circumstantial evidence) comes forth about the ISI working against US interests in Af/Pak to mend fences in order to keep the Taliban under the guise of the Pakistani government.

    Reply

  4. Ms.Bottom Line says:

    House Resolution 1553 expresses: “Support for the State of Israel

    Reply

  5. Ms. Bottom Line says:

    Reply

  6. Don Bacon says:

    SC: “The question is whether President Obama has the backbone and temerity to reframe this engagement”
    Exactly, Obama’s response is already “reframing” the nine-year war.
    “Some of the disconcerting things reported are exactly why the president ordered a three-month policy review and a[nother] change in strategy,” said one administration official,
    The Dems will fall in line. Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass. suggested the release could lead to a change in policy.
    The released information deals with Afghanistan 200-2008, so Obama is in a ‘cover Bush’s butt’ mode again.
    Obama has nothing against a useless war, if it’s executed properly. Senator Obama, on Iraq, 2004:
    “There’s not much of a difference between my position and George Bush’s position at this stage. The difference, in my mind, is who’s in a position to execute.

    Reply

  7. questions says:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2010/07/26/AR2010072602393_2.html?hpid=topnews&sid=ST2010072502561
    And someone in Pakistan thinks the leak is US policy to put pressure on Pakistan.
    Bring on the popcorn….

    Reply

  8. Don Bacon says:

    White House National Security Adviser James Jones issued a statement that begins:

    Reply

  9. Don Bacon says:

    On this release, we have General Jones response and we have the White House response, which are — surprise! — different. (Or is it the ‘frenzied’ media at work again v. Sherrod?)
    WH: “I don’t think anyone who follows this issue will find it surprising that there are concerns about ISI and safe havens in Pakistan,” read one White House e-mail sent to reporters.
    translation: Move along, no threats to national security here, everybody already knew all this classified information.
    What a bunch of clowns.

    Reply

  10. Don Bacon says:

    and more recently with the 2002 AUMF (Iraq) — another mistake by the bought-and-paid-for Congress.

    Reply

  11. Don Bacon says:

    erichwwk: “the Court gave the president total power over foreign policy, including the right to ignore the Constitution”
    I don’t see it. In Curtiss-Wright the Court decided that it was constitutional for the Congress to delegate foreign policy decisions to the executive.
    Unfortunately the Congress has also done that more recently with the War Powers Act — a mistake.

    Reply

  12. erichwwk says:

    POA writes:
    “We need “whistleblowers” to bring this stuff out???
    You bet. It takes a critical mass to stop a war.
    Otherwise people wouldn’t fall for war scams over and over again.
    There has NEVER been a just war. Try reading Howard Zinn’s essay on “just and Unjust War” where he quotes Admiral Gene LaRocque:
    “I hate it when they say. ‘He gave his life for his country’. Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don’t die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them.”
    In regards to the role of DC:
    “In a decision made in 1936
    (U.S. vs Curtiss-Wright Export Corp.)
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_v._Curtiss-Wright_Export_Corp.
    the Court gave the president total power over foreign policy, including the right to ignore the Constitution”. (more of that in United States vs. Reynolds)

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    Go Steve.
    The United States has three levels of classification: *confidential – information that would “damage” national security if disclosed.
    *secret – release would cause “serious damage” to national security
    *top secret – information that would cause “exceptionally grave damage” to national security if disclosed to the public.
    By law, information may not be classified merely because it would be embarrassing or to cover illegal activity; information may only be classified to protect national-security objectives.
    I assume that these incident reports from years ago were classified “confidential.” Now with their release the public can decide if their release damages national security or not.
    I have faith in the American people. When they are given the truth, they respond. The public, as with the Pentagon Papers, wull lose any reverence they have for classified information, as they should, and recognize that as Thoreau wrote: “Shams and delusions are esteemed for soundest truths, while reality is fabulous.”
    More: “”Let us settle ourselves, and work and wedge our feet downward through the mud and slush of opinion, and prejudice, and tradition, and delusion, and appearance, that alluvion which covers the globe, through Paris and London, through New York and Boston and Concord, through church and state, through poetry and philosophy and religion, till we come to a hard bottom and rocks in place, which we can call reality, and say, This is, and no mistake;”–Henry David Thoreau, Walden
    Americans (and their allies) can also appraise General Jones’s remarks which were put a little differently from the definitions state: “…could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”
    The public might just decide that instead of putting the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, or threatening national security, the reports include information that is embarrassing and/or covers illegal activity, which is probably why ninety one thousand (91,000) reports were classified in the first place, and why they remain classified even now.
    On another level, the US customary wailing about “lack of transparency” on the part of China’s military is a delicious comparison.
    The “fragile swagger” thing with respect to China is interesting, too, in this light. SC on this latest event: “. . .the false illusion that American partnership with Afghanistan is working.” Who excels in fragile swagger? (sorry, Steve)

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    We need “whistleblowers” to bring this stuff out???
    Hardly.
    As far back as nine years ago I was railing about the ISI’s duplicity and loyalties. Even here on this blog I have raised, repeatedly, the question of how an ISI general, Mahmoud Ahmed, escaped indictment for actually FINANCING Mohammed Atta in the months leading up to 9/11.
    Pepe Escobar, in 2004, raises the issue as well…
    http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Front_Page/FD08Aa01.html
    So, there has always been a disconnect with reality in presenting Pakistan as a “most important ally in the Global War On Terrorism”.
    Slowly, leaking out, seeping out, oozing out, are the bits and pieces of real information that call into question THE ENTIRE NARRATIVE surrounding 9/11 and this epic con-job we have been victimized with in order to justify and rationalize two costly and misrepresented military adventures. And yet, Steve Clemons would have you believe sanity and common sense will prevail In Washington DC as a course is charted to steer our policies in regards to Iran.
    Really???? Why should we believe these assholes in DC will suddenly behave rationally and in our best interests???? Are we to ignore history?

    Reply

  15. erich kuerschner says:

    Steve. Thank you for your courage and service. You are a true patriot.
    rc, re H Res 1553, where the statement “to use all means necessary to confront and eliminate nuclear threats” is another lightly veiled threat to reserve the US right to threatened the use of nuclear weapons as a preemptive tactic. This threat is ITSELF a WAR CRIME per an International Court of Justice opinion.
    In fact, as Joseph Gerson points out (Empire and the Bomb: How the US uses Nuclear Weapons to Dominate the World) the US has uses this threat and nuclear hegemony to obtain resource and strategic advantage at least 32 times since WWII. Ironically the very first time was against Iran in 1946, to ensure the Kirkuk oil fields remained in Anglo hands.
    This leaking couldn’t be more timely. The US is on a VERY dangerous course, purporting to be For nuclear disarmament, when in fact it is against, submitting a nuclear weapons budget going forward that even exceeds what GWB proposed under his various “Reliable Replacement Weapon” , “Complex 2030 Transformation”.
    There is currently a film that Shari Namazi wonders “is a docu-ganda or is it propamentary?” by the same folks that produced “An Inconvenient Truth” called ” Countdown to Zero” that on the surface seems to advocate nuclear weapons abolition but in fact is anything but.
    as Darwin Bond-Graham writes:
    http://mrzine.monthlyreview.org/2010/bg220710.html
    “Countdown to Zero is one component of a larger and coherent foundation campaign to stoke up public fears about nuclear weapons for the purpose of extending a near-monopoly on nuclear weapons, and legitimating a more aggressive foreign policy aimed at regime change in Iran and elsewhere. The consensus behind those who funded and produced the film has little to do with disarmament, and a lot to do with stabilizing the American empire.”
    One can study ANY American War (including WWII). As Mark Twain noted, the facts are ALWAYS the same. Wars result from a massive propaganda effort to demonize and enemy, and claim that one is “protecting” the public from a dangerous enemy, all the while being more interested in obtaining resource advantage for the privileged few.
    In fact, studying Gar Alperovitz (The Decision to Use the Atomic Bomb: The Architecture of An American Myth, pp 600-601) led me to discover the role a Leslie Groves film (The Beginning or the End) played in creating this myth of “why the bomb was dropped”.
    From the archive of the MGM “press kit”
    “MGM distributed a publicity brochure to accompany its 1947 film, The Beginning or the End. This brochure is fascinating to look at. It is also historically important because it seems to be the source for a lot of uncorroborated

    Reply

  16. Paul Norheim says:

    “and while running his hands over his Nobel Peace Prize
    gong perhaps think about, and listen to, what he said
    before he was elected.” (rc)
    I think it’s the Nobel Peace Prize Committee that should
    listen to what he said before he was elected. (see my link).

    Reply

  17. rc says:

    Bravo Mr Clemons.
    President Obama needs to respond to this material — and its suppression until now — and while running his hands over his Nobel Peace Prize gong perhaps think about, and listen to, what he said before he was elected.
    He is either going to wake up and start draining this swamp or go down in history as a weak ‘yes man’ for the military industrial complex.
    You can’t fool all the people all the time.
    And while I’m at it — what is this about McCain and “‘Bomb, bomb Iran’ goes mainstream” . . . this is very reactionary.
    “Republican hawks in the US House of Representatives have introduced a bill to support (encourage?) Israeli military action against Iran.
    House Resolution 1553 expresses: “Support for the State of Israel

    Reply

  18. Paul Norheim says:

    Well said, Steve.
    Especially: “The question is whether President Obama has the
    backbone and temerity to reframe this engagement and stop
    the hemorrhaging of American lives and those of allies…”
    The development in Afghanistan was highly predictable. I did a
    search on former Washington Note posts, and found this one,
    written 15th of January 2009, and it was interesting to look
    back to what Steve said, and what POA, DonBacon and yours
    truly said (“the new LBJ”) back then, just before Obama became
    the POTUS. Many of Obama’s supporters understandably
    wanted to believe that his promises to concentrate the efforts
    on Afghanistan, instead of Iraq, were just rhetorics against the
    hawks, but it turned out that he was seriously aspiring to
    become the new LBJ:
    http://www.thewashingtonnote.com/archives/2009/01/obama
    s_military/

    Reply

Add your comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *