America’s War Hawks Back in Flight

With America’s government-and-media war hawks back in full flight preparing to swoop down on Syria as well as Iraq wiser heads might reflect on the chaos that previous adventures have caused, as Danny Schechter recalls.

By Danny Schechter

Sound the bugle! Get the press to march along; we are going to war. Again! Enemies R ‘Us!

For a long time with the killing of bin Laden, a jihadi fatigue had set in. With the apparent shriveling up of the Al Qaeda menace, America’s threat-defining and -refining machinery was somewhat adrift. What had been so simple turned too complex to fuse into one sound-bite.

Barack Obama, then President-elect, and President George W. Bush at the White House during the transition.

Barack Obama, then President-elect, and President George W. Bush at the White House during the transition in November  2008.

Former CIA official Thomas Fingar, now at Stanford University, describes his own frustration in finding out what U.S. policy priorities should be in national intelligence. He asked his colleagues to share the threats they worried about. He was soon inundated.

“When I was given responsibility for the process known as the National Intelligence Priorities Framework, almost 2,300 issues had been assigned priorities higher than zero, “ he explained. “My first instruction was, ‘Reduce the number’.”

He knew they needed only one bad-ass enemy to focus fears and attract appropriations to fight. He had too many threats to respond to. They had to go. Now, he and the Obama administration have that new bad guy: the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria or ISIS.

Political scientist/analyst Michael Brenner says Washington is in an ISIS panic: “The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles. From the highest levels of the Obama administration to the media pundits, emotions are flaring over what the United States should/could do. The act in itself has changed nothing insofar as IS’ threat to the United States and its significance for Middle East politics are concerned. It is the mood that has been transformed. Irresistible impulse is displacing cool deliberation. The flood of commentary, as usual, reveals little in the way of rigorous logic but much in the way of disjointed thinking and unchecked emotion.”

The response? Give us a war plan, and not just against ISIS, let’s throw in Syria too. Money is apparently no object.

Breaking Defense.com reports: “US operations against the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (or whatever we’re calling it these days) have probably cost the country about $100 million so far, according to one of the top defense budget experts. It’s difficult to come up with a precise estimate for what current operations in Iraq are costing.”

Don’t forget, as Glenn Greenwald didn’t, before the current focus on ISIS, the U.S. was bombarding Syria’s Bashar al-Assad with calls that he step down amidst threats of overthrowing him.

“It was not even a year ago,” Greenwald writes, “when we were bombarded with messaging that Syrian President Bashar al-Assad is a Supreme Evil and Grave Threat, and that military action against his regime was both a moral and strategic imperative. Now the Obama administration and American political class is celebrating the one-year anniversary of the failed ‘Bomb Assad!’ campaign by starting a new campaign to bomb those fighting against Assad the very same side the U.S. has been arming over the last two years.”

Recall: the campaign for bombing Assad’s military was undercut when public opinion in the U.S. turned against it. The Obama administration negotiated instead, and accomplished something, eventually destroying Syria’s stash of chemical weapons. Why emulate a success when you can make more mistakes?

That was then, and this is now. ISIS is the new boogieman. The next stage of our assault is underway as we can deduce from a build up of recent press reports:

Daily Beast: Obama Wants ISIS War Plan

President Barack Obama wants to make a decision by the end of this week whether or not to expand his war against ISIS into Syria, report Josh Rogin and Eli Lake. However, nobody knows yet how we can do it, or what will happen next. Still, there are plenty of ominous headlines:

Syria and Isis committing war crimes, says UN

Alawites prepare as IS, Jabhat al-Nusra close in on regime areas

Drones a Step Toward Expanding War Into Syria

U.S. Mobilizes Allies to Widen Assault on ISIS 

Specialops.org (Elite Magazine for Elite Warriors) reports:

“Members of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant, or ISIS, were trained in 2012 by U.S. instructors working at a secret base in Jordan, according to informed Jordanian officials. The officials said dozens of ISIS members were trained at the time as part of covert aid to the insurgents targeting the regime of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad in Syria. The officials said the training was not meant to be used for any future campaign in Iraq.

“The Jordanian officials said all ISIS members who received U.S. training to fight in Syria were first vetted for any links to extremist groups like al-Qaida.”

Now, there are reports that the CIA is forming new hit squads to use ISIS tactics against ISIS with an ISIS-like assassination offensive, to “cut off the head of the snake.” (Sounds like beheading doesn’t it?)  Shh! Sounds like we are headed back to the dark side with killings, torture, renditions, secret sites, etc. Will that long-awaited CIA report now be seen as a manual for more of the same.

The last time the U.S. organized assassination teams in Iraq in 2003, it didn’t work out that well, And guess who else was involved? Israel trains US assassination squads in Iraq:

“Israel helping train US special forces in aggressive counter-insurgency (CI) operations in Iraq, including the use of assassination squads against guerrilla leaders, US intelligence and military sources said. … The new CI unit made up of elite troops being put together in the Pentagon is called Task Force 121, New Yorker magazine reported. … One of the planners, highly controversial … Lt. Gen. William ‘Jerry’ Boykin … with calls for his resignation after he told an Oregon congregation the US was at war with Satan who ‘wants to destroy us as a Christian army’.”

Ten years later in 2013 the German magazine Der Spiegel reported U.S. training Syrian rebels in Jordan. And so it goes, as once again, around and around, we become more and more like the enemy we warn against.

Back to Michael Brenner’s take on how our media hysteria is not helping, “There is a more general lesson to be learned from this latest exercise in ad hoc policy-making by press conference. The insistence of senior officials to speak at length in public on these complex, sensitive matters when there is no set policy is inimical to serious planning and diplomacy. If they feel compelled to react to events to satisfy the media and an agitated populace, they should just say a few well-chosen words and then declare themselves on the way to an important meeting preferably not in Martha’s Vineyard.

“Silence, though, is taken to be tantamount to death in the egocentric media age where image is all confusing random motion with focused action.” Amen.

Why look back? No one wants to learn anything! Iraq 2.0 was a disaster for President George W. Bush. Can we expect Iraq 3.0 under President Obama to be any better? Afghanistan is a disaster. Israel failed in its aims in Gaza, whatever bloody “urban renewal” was imposed at a high human toll. Libya is a mess.

Knock, knock: raise your hand if you think Syria will become our next miracle?

News Dissector Danny Schechter blogs at Newsdissector.net and works on Mediachannel.org. Comments to dissector@mediachannel.org

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29 comments for “America’s War Hawks Back in Flight

  1. Abe
    August 29, 2014 at 12:53 pm

    “We have met the enemy and he is us.”

    The US, and its Israeli and Saudi allies, are not “headed back to the dark side.” They never left.

    Aggressive so-called “counter-insurgency” operations ARE terrorism. Bogeymen must be in ample supply in order to justify the terror. However, this terror is primarily directed at destroying civilian political opposition to the desired regime change, not defeating armed opposition forces. Ask the Iraqi Interior Ministry. Ask the current Ukrainian Interior Ministry.

  2. Steve Naidamast
    August 29, 2014 at 1:17 pm

    Why would anyone consider that such people would be reflective on past debacles?

    This is what such people do… They destroy things…

  3. F. G. Sanford
    August 29, 2014 at 1:46 pm

    Political scientist/analyst Michael Brenner says Washington is in an ISIS panic: “The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles…” Except the grotesque beheading wasn’t quite gruesome enough. The production standards of that video were impeccable. It looked liked they used a steady-cam, and the editing was superb. Except there just wasn’t quite enough blood. It so happens that I have before me my personal copy of Pauchet and Dupret’s “Pocket Atlas of Anatomy”, Third Edition, from Oxford Press. (You’d probably be an Anatomical scientist/analyst if you own a copy – mine is from 1937.) But lo and behold, right there on PLATE 195, it shows the left common carotid artery ascending directly from the aorta. (The right one ascends from the innominate artery, which also ascends directly from the aorta.) In an operating room, they have an affectionate nick-name for a carotid artery: they call it. “Big Red”. If you cut it, blood squirts about twenty feet. That can be very exciting if you’re not expecting it. But, I digress. Back in 2012, when our CIA was training those impressionable young minds at that terror camp in Jordan, I doubt they included propaganda film editing and horror movie special effects in the curriculum. So, the question becomes, where did they outsource the skilled editing and high quality production values? Maybe Al Jazeera? Gee whiz, I doubt that the CIA or Mossad would possess the technical skill. Unless, of course, there’s more truth than suspicion in Jason Raimondo’s latest article. Don’t get me wrong – I’m pretty sure they actually killed that guy, but the lethal event didn’t happen in the video.

    • Abe
      August 29, 2014 at 3:29 pm

      Speaking of editing and production values: VICE News, Rupert Murdoch’s 70 million dollar Gen Y-targeted sock puppets, jus’ loves them some terrorists, so long as they are opposed to the governments of Syria and Russia. The lurid propagandists at VICE are happily embedded with anti-Syrian forces (including ISIS) and anti-Russian forces in Ukraine.

      • F. G. Sanford
        August 29, 2014 at 7:30 pm

        Abe, Thanks for your comment. As you obviously speak German very well and understand the culture and folklore, why not do us all a favor and explain to these bewildered Americans who Carl Schmitt is, and what our government has embraced? I can’t believe that the German population thinks that any of our current foreign policy blunders or ridiculous propaganda will not spell eventual disaster.

      • Joe Tedesky n
        August 29, 2014 at 11:12 pm

        May someone who doesn’t know German, in fact I struggle with my English, recommend a link which may interest you. It’s a interview with a fellow by the name of Jim Willie. Willie makes some very interesting statements….listen;

        http://www.tfmetalsreport.com/podcast/6083/summer-ends-jackass-appears

        Reichspräsident

        • Abe
          August 29, 2014 at 11:47 pm

          “My fellow Americans, I’m pleased to tell you today that I’ve signed legislation that will outlaw Russia forever. We begin bombing in five minutes.”
          – Ronald Reagan

          On August 11, 1984, President Reagan, while running for re-election, was preparing to make his weekly Saturday radio address on National Public Radio. During a sound check prior to the address, Reagan made the joke to the radio technicians. Contrary to popular misconception, this microphone gaffe was not broadcast over the air, but rather leaked later to the general populace.

    • Abe
      August 29, 2014 at 9:35 pm

      An important twentieth-century political theorist, Carl Schmitt was a member of the Nazi party between 1933 and 1936. Whether Schmitt’s motivation for collaborating with the Nazis was conviction, opportunism or misjudged belief, he explicitly provided legal justifications for the Nazi regime and its policies.

      Schmitt defined war—the friend/enemy distinction—as the essence of the political.

      For a brief but cogent discussion of Schmitt’s influence on neo-conservative thought and recent events in Ukraine, see http://my.firedoglake.com/otherjones/2014/03/09/ukraine-via-the-chicago-school/

  4. Abe
    August 29, 2014 at 2:15 pm

    Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria, Gaza… these are NOT debacles. Killings, torture, renditions, secret sites, disaster, chaos and destruction are very much intended outcomes of these regime change operations. In all cases, structural mechanisms ensure that resource control and (where desired) extraction are most profitably pursued by the transnational syndicate.

  5. Abe
    August 29, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    “Russia Invades Ukraine”, Strategic NATO Public Relations Stunt. Where are the Russian Tanks?
    http://www.globalresearch.ca/russia-invades-ukraine-strategic-nato-public-relations-stunt-where-are-the-russian-tanks

    Previous “Russian invasions” have been the object of sizable speculative gains on financial markets.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 30, 2014 at 12:43 am

      Abe, I read the linked article. Isn’t it very clear that the US/UK strategy is to make themselves/us the good guys. Whether, we come to the rescue of the poor average Syrian or Ukrainian or whomever, we need the public support that we are all on the RIGHT side. The White Hats!

      In the US/UK governments there are very smart people, who know their history well…well enough to create propaganda to sell on Main Street. They know all about the US Maine, and all the way to 9/11 and beyond. So, grease the wheels, and let’s go to war.

      Since these US/UK genesis’s are the kind of people who are well subscripted to Carl Schmidt we are all in deep trouble. I just wish there were a candidate, or someone who we could put in office in order to reverse this destructive end we are on.

      Enjoy your comments. J.T.

    • Abe
      August 30, 2014 at 12:22 pm

      An important twentieth-century political theorist, Carl Schmitt was a member of the Nazi party between 1933 and 1936. Whether Schmitt’s motivation for collaborating with the Nazis was conviction, opportunism or misjudged belief, he explicitly provided legal justifications for the Nazi regime and its policies.

      Schmitt defined war — the friend/enemy distinction — as the essence of the political.

      For a brief but cogent discussion of Schmitt’s influence on neo-conservative thought with reference to the conflict in Ukraine, see http://my.firedoglake.com/otherjones/2014/03/09/ukraine-via-the-chicago-school/

    • Abe
      August 30, 2014 at 12:42 pm

      J.T. and F.G. – It appears that comments referencing a certain political theorist are now “awaiting moderation”
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5Qf6Sv3A9zs

  6. Andrew Nichols
    August 30, 2014 at 7:23 am

    1880 The Russians are coming!
    1914 The Russians are coming – Oops no – The Germans are coming!
    1918 The Russians are coming!
    1939 The Russians are coming! Oops got it wrong again The Germans are coming!
    1945 – 1990 The Russians are coming!
    Shit – We need a new enemy!
    1991 The Moslems are coming
    2003 The Moslems are coming. The Syrians are our allies!
    2011 The Syrians are coming! The Moselms are our friends
    2013 The Russians and the ISIS are coming! The Syrians are now our allies

    Damn – I cant keep up. Who are we supposed to be fighting now? Next week? Next month?

    Maybe we all calm the f”k down, have a cup of tea and get back to fighting Global Warming…

  7. Hillary
    August 30, 2014 at 10:15 am

    ” Israel failed in its aims in Gaza, whatever bloody “urban renewal” was imposed at a high human toll.”
    Danny Schechter—
    What is this supposed to mean ?
    Quotes for today ?

    “The wars are not meant to be won, but to be continuous.”” – G. Orwell
    .
    “To learn who rules over you simply find out who you are not allowed to criticize.” Voltaire

  8. Abe
    August 30, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    From Minsk to Wales, Germany is the key
    By Pepe Escobar
    http://rt.com/op-edge/183328-minsk-wales-germany-key/

    In the end it’s up to Germany to prevent Cold War 2.0 getting hotter by the day all across Europe.

  9. Jonny James
    August 30, 2014 at 2:33 pm

    Small Nitpick: War Hawks? Wrong metaphor. Let’s not use euhemism either. These cowardly, privileged warmongers, war profiteers and traitors are not War Hawks they are WAR CRIMINALS, mass murderers and enemies of the contitution and the world.
    War criminals and the largest financial criminals in history are not prosecuted or held accountable, they are REWARDED lavishly. Tony Blair is a shining example. JP Morgan has showered him with millions. Jamie Dimon and Tony Blair some of the biggest criminals on earth.

    • Abe
      August 30, 2014 at 3:02 pm

      Black Sabbath – War Pigs
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0GRR_n_yQGA

      • Jonny James
        August 30, 2014 at 4:57 pm

        Cheers! My all-time fave anti-war song. Not bad from a bunch of working class lads from Birmingham. Here is my fave version of the tune. I just turned up my rig to 11 and blasted the neighborhood.

      • Abe
        August 31, 2014 at 12:59 pm

        Eddie, don’t count on Scarlett Johansson to strategically disrobe for the ”Only Losers Commit War Crimes” viral ad campaign and Super Bowl commercial. She’s too busy saving the world one sip of blood bubbles at a time. See https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=U3by9FoEFB8 (especially minutes 4:40-5:10)

    • Abe
      August 30, 2014 at 3:10 pm

      Roy Zimmerman – Chickenhawk
      from the album Faulty Intelligence (2006)
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SsktNLgpCs8

    • Eddie
      August 30, 2014 at 10:52 pm

      @JJ – The following quote I saw elsewhere today pithily explains the international law/war-crimes situation: ” Only losers commit war crimes”. It sounds facile on the face of it, but on further reflection, it does make a lot of sense (unfortunately). For instance, were the US, Russia, Britain, et al, going to prosecute themselves for the war crimes that each undoubtedly committed during WWII? No more likely than the Germans, Japanese, or Italians doing so had they won the war. And with the US rejection of the ICC’s jurisdiction, it’s back to the law of the jungle, where the biggest predator rules supreme by force & fear. We certainly seem to be gaining a blasé attitude in this country towards attacking other countries… an attitude that really worked-out SO well for Germany last century…

  10. Abe
    August 30, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    Washington’s “Pivot” hits a Brick Wall:
    Obama’s “Catastrophic Defeat” in Ukraine
    By Mike Whitney
    http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/29/obamas-catastrophic-defeat-in-ukraine/

    There you have it; there is no Russian invasion anymore than there were WMD, mobile weapons labs, aluminum tubes, Sarin gas etc, etc, etc. It’s all BS concocted by a servile media pursuing the agenda of a warmongering political establishment that wants to escalate the conflagration in east Ukraine at all cost. Even if it leads to a Third World War.

  11. Abe
    August 30, 2014 at 8:53 pm

    ISIS Panic
    http://thecolbertreport.cc.com/videos/2x4lop/isis-panic

    Worst of all, ISIS has now attracted the most violent, heavily armed people on Earth: Americans.

    • Joe Tedesky
      August 31, 2014 at 12:34 am

      Abe, I see you are still at it. Here is a article by Patrick Cockburn.

      http://www.counterpunch.org/2014/08/21/why-washingtons-war-on-terror-failed/

      Lately, I have come to the opinion that America should switch sides. Sorry Saudi Arabia your out. No more support of a brutal Zion occupation of Palestine. Stop poking fingers into China’s eyes. End the war on drugs, and free Latin America. Shake hands and start anew with Fidel (while he is still alive). No more trade agreements, allow a true ‘free market’ to flourish. Peace, take care Abe….. J.T.

      • Joe Tedesky
        August 31, 2014 at 12:36 am

        Oh I forgot team up with Russia. That will certainly end the terrorist. Imagine that!

  12. Gerald Perdue
    September 1, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    “The grotesque beheading of James Foley is stirring passions in Washington policy circles. From the highest levels of the Obama administration to the media pundits, emotions are flaring over what the United States should/could do.” So why doesn’t Washington care about the 19 people Saudi Arabia beheaded the same week of Foley’s murder.

  13. William H. Slavick
    September 2, 2014 at 6:24 pm

    One need not be a pacifist, as I am, to condemn the whole neocon enterprise in the Middle East, as many millions did on streets around the world on the eve of the bogus war to liberate Iraq and save the West from nuclear attack.

    ISIS is a different story. It is killing thousands wholesale–convert or die–and driving millions from their homes into poverty and misery. No, we do not need another neocon war, but I have not seen or heard a proposal for curbing its slaughter short of another U.S. war.

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