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Chongqing, the world’s largest municipal area with a population approaching 34 million has let a contract under its Safe City program to install 500,000 video surveillance devices. 1984 is coming to Chongqing, as one of China’s leading manufacturing hubs (cars, computers, defense) catches up to the future. However, with its dense air pollution, which we experienced in October, it may take even more cameras to see all that is going on in this sprawling population center.
Julien Assange did not steal the documents, he received them from those who did. Thus he is not a spy. He has chosen to publish some of them — OK, a lot of them. That makes him a journalist, like someone who reports for the NY Times, the Washington Post or the Wall Street Journal, all of which have dealt with classified information given to them. Thus, to prosecute Assange is to criminalize journalism, undermining the first amendment and free speech.
What is disturbing to me is not that he has published these diplomatic documents, but what some of the documents contain — characterizations of officials of other countries that are inconsistent with what our government acknowledges, trite and mean spirited personality profiles that should never have been dignified in official documents, and admissions of guilt of what amounts to war crimes or at least violations of public standards and treaties.
The persecution and prosecution should not be focused on the whistleblower, Assange, but on the officials and our and other governments who have not acted ethically or legally, as revealed in these documents.
Somehow, leaving 50,000 troops in Iraq to work as “trainers and advisors” doesn’t smack of an end to the war in Iraq, and it doesn’t even stack up to the shameful 60-year garrisons we’ve left behind in Germany, Japan and South Korea.
While the returning “combat” troops deserve our thanks and appreciation, I hope there are no victory ticker tape parades in NYC or DC, or any crowing from the imperial White House for a so-called “end” to the war that’s gone on longer than the Civil War or WWII.
The criminals in the last White House who committed all these people, all these deaths and injuries, all these resources to a fantasy, remain at large. And 50,000 “trainers” left in Iraq does not end the war, while we pile on new mistakes in Afghanistan. I’m ashamed of our country’s former and current elected and civil leadership in Federal government, and their sick and vicious “defense” strategies…
I started my adult life wasting 3 years in the Army during the dumb Vietnam War, and the beat goes on to this minute.
Below is an except from my blog entry of June 23, and the 90,000 war documents leaked this week lend further support to the premise that our war in Afghanistan is chaotic and leading us nowhere, except to more debt and premature burials of young men and women. The billions we pay Pakistan has something to do with maintaining the security of their nuclear capability, as supposedly does some but not all of our military presence in Afghanistan. We need to hear the truth about this nuclear blackmail, if that’s what it is. We need a lot more, not less, transparency about our motives and strategies in the “Stans,” and I’m not at all sure the American people will like or support what we find, if ever we hear the truth.
June 23: Support for the war in Afghanistan is being held together with bailing wire, and is so fragile that a feature story by a freelancer in a magazine known as an anti-war rock’n-roll sheet could tip it over and bring down one of the country’s most respected military leaders. Who says Washington is not all about optics? The only rationale for staying in Afghanistan with the intensity we do is maintaining the optics of competence of the leadership that keeps us there. The Rolling Stone didn’t portray distorted optics, they spoke the truth. The truth that everyone except millions of our troops and citizens hadn’t yet seen. McChrystal had to go, to put those optics back together and restore the view through rose-colored glasses, a view of a strategic, well-planned and unified U.S. military mission in Afghanistan.
But the crummy magazine has done what the nation’s leading press and elected leadership can’t — they have exposed the chaos of our failed national strategy in Afghanistan.
Today’s Washington Post (http://projects.washingtonpost.com/top-secret-america/articles/a-hidden-world-growing-beyond-control/) begins a lengthy investigative report on national security, revealing that nearly one in every 400 Americans now requires a Top Secret security clearance to man a complex of thousands of government and contract organizations to conduct the American security process.
This process is so arcane and intricate that no person or group of people can begin to understand the work product all this effort and spending produces, concludes the Post. The results are too numerous and complicated to communicate, much less comprehend, according to the Post. Is “less process” therefore the answer to “more security”? Or is “better communications” an answer?
Maybe everyone without at least a Secret clearance, and even I once had one of those, should be rounded up and shipped to Guantanamo. If America finally opens up travel to Cuba, maybe all those without clearances could be sent there on commercial flights, and put up in hotels, to add new vigor to the local revolutionary economy.
That would leave America to those worthies possessing security clearances and we could set our calendar ahead (back) permanently to 1984, or whatever date creation of the ultimate “security state” deserves.
The Russian spy case has left me concerned, not just because the Cold War was supposedly over in 1991, nor because a Russian head of state (Putin) and an American President (Bush Sr.) were each head of their country’s spy networks within just the past generation, but because in a time when the current heads of state are enjoying hamburgers and other symbols of compatibility together, we are still learning that deep cover spy operatives remain on duty around the world, just waiting for some weakness or accident or signal to swing into action to subvert another nation, even a supposed ally.
And our respective government state departments are so nonchalant about it all. Are our governments secretly being held hostage? Are we at risk of having Russian spies stand up and wrest control of elements of the economy or our political system at some declension point of stress or vulnerability? Are there separate centers of power within the Russian and American government apparatus with different agendas, working at odds with one another and risking geopolitical unbalance? Is there a deep lack of communication, understanding and common cause between various elements of our governments at the highest levels?
If the recent very public drama between Obama, McChrystal and Eikenberry on our policies in Afghanistan are any indicator, these dissonances within centers of power, deep below the surface, may be more prevalent than we the public ever suspects, or is allowed to know.
The Washington Post puts their finger on the issue today. Does the lack of civil engagement in our Iraq and Afghanistan wars (read professional military in place of a draft) signal a breakdown in military respect for civilian authority in the U.S.? Could be. The McChrystal mess may not be just a case of a public relations screw-up, but of a much deeper disease. In Vietnam, and I was there, there was a total breakdown in discipline of non-commissioned troops, but perhaps now the disease is reversed, with the professional officer corps, on an endless see-saw of combat assignments, feeling increasingly distanced from and cynical of civilian authority and wisdom.
If true, this is a dangerous development for our democracy. Just look at the headlines: we have great respect for those who have served and been injured and died, but little for those who sent them there. What’s next? Do we begin to trust and elect those in or of the military, and not our civilian leaders? Does the military elite begin to more openly display their disrespect for civilian authority, and begin to challenge it? Now is the time, I believe, for a return to citizen soldiers, and for those citizens who care about the country to demand peace.
I was intrigued as to how McChrystal and Co. were roped into talking with the Rolling Stone. The attached link provides some thoughts. Even if McChrystal wasn’t played, as the piece suggests might be the case, I think it is plausible that his civilian new-media guru thought he could get McChrystal the sort of glamor piece Petraeus got in Vanity Fair. Civilian contractors like SOSi are probably part of the problem, conspiracy or not. I’d like to think that a professional, seasoned military PAO would have been more careful. As someone who’s been personally stung by the Rolling Stone (but not related to the military), I also have disdain for the approach and style of reporting the magazine supports.
In an odd bit of contextual irony, I found myself commenting on the consequences of the BP Gulf oil spill on a Chicago investor radio program this morning, after last night watching the DVD called Diamonds Are Forever, the 1971 James Bond film about a diamond smuggling operation that gets tied into a terrorist-run operation aboard an oil rig off Baja, which is blasted into oblivion by the CIA as the British Secret Service celebrates.
No terrorist plot theories from me regarding the current BP platform disaster, as a plume of oil from an undersea cavern the size of Mount Everest threatens to pollute the entire Gulf from the site of the stricken rig.
Going forward from this, will new offshore oil drilling have a future in the U.S.? I doubt it. Will the U.S. therefore be more dependent than ever on foreign oil? Probably. And will the American economy, ecology and culture be negatively effected for years as a consequence of the BP spill? Undoubtably. Will some terrorist organizations be happy about all this? Why not?