U.S.-AFGHANISTAN – “Without Vision, the People Perish”

(a summing up; how generals, eagle scouts, and tough-gal-ism got – and is still getting – thousands of people killed, for no good reason)


Afghanistan: President Obama’s Vietnam

By Jonathan Marshall, July 24, 2016



Now we are told that 8,400 U.S. troops will remain in Afghanistan to “support Afghan forces” and “go after” terrorists, when Obama leaves the White House.  As Jonathan Marshall points out, the President asks us to take on faith that this is “in our national security interest – especially after all the blood and treasure we’ve invested in Afghanistan over the years.” (emphasis added)


And so it goes with our Lemming-in-Chief Barack Obama and those who lemmingly lead or follow him.  A cartoon comes to mind: Two lemmings are chatting while standing in the line going up to the cliff. One says to the other, “Of course we have to go over the edge. Anything else would dishonor all the lemmings that have gone before us.”  (NO way is this funny.)


On July 24, Consortiumnews decided to re-run an early piece (#1 below), noting that our young President had let himself be sucked into a fool’s errand (aka quagmire) in Afghanistan by be-medaled, be-ribboned, be-merit-badged, starry-eyed generals, Eagle Scout Robert Gates, and Hillary the Hawk.  (Anyone who had been around a while could have made the same quagmire call; it was a no-brainer.)


That re-run from the Archive, prompted a review of some of the pieces Ray wrote on Afghanistan during the crucial period (2009-2011) when feckless decisions bereft of experience and vision were being made.  Some of the items below have already been republished “from the Consortiumnews Archive.” To avoid confusion, they are listed below chronologically, in the order in which they were originally written.


Lastly, it seems appropriate to tack onto the end some wisdom from Rudyard Kipling – sadly; wisdom not required reading at West Point, the Ivies, or William and Mary.



1 –

Welcome to Vietnam, Mr. President

(Originally published March 28, 2009)

July 24, 2016


Editor’s Note, From the Archive: With still no end in sight for the Afghan War, President Obama can’t say he wasn’t warned. Barely two months into his presidency in 2009, ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern welcomed Obama to his own Vietnam quagmire.



2 –

Kipling Haunts Obama’s Afghan War

October 30, 2009




3 –

Heeding George Kennan’s Sage Advice [on Afghanistan]

November 3, 2009




4 –

Obama Ignores Key Afghan Warning

February 7, 2014


Editor’s Note; From the Archive:  As the 12-year Afghan War grinds to what many Americans see as failure, ex-Defense Secretary Robert Gates and other hawks won’t admit their counterinsurgency “surge” in 2009 was a waste of lives and money or that U.S. Ambassador Karl Eikenberry was right when he warned President Obama, as ex-CIA analyst Ray McGovern wrote in 2010.

(Originally published Jan. 27, 2010)



5 –

Obama Misses the Afghan Exit Ramp [see Hillary Clinton favoring giving the generals “whatever they need.”]

June 24, 2010



“Obama’s main dilemma now is likely to be how to say “no” when, as seems inevitable, Westmoreland — sorry, I mean Petraeus — makes requests for more “surges” of troops into Afghanistan.  Petraeus is likely to tell Obama he must have additional forces, or he will go the way of McChrystal and invite removal — and then possibly run for president in 2012. In that case, Obama’s political advisers would probably say send more troops from wherever they might be scrounged up. …


“We may well end up with either a President Petraeus or another President Clinton in the person of Obama’s hawkish Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was one official praised by McChrystal’s wild-boy crew because she favored giving the general whatever troops he wanted.  A McChystal aide is quoted as saying, “She said, ‘If Stan wants it, give him what he needs.’” … (emphasis added)


“The tragedy is that all this is unnecessary. If President Obama could get beyond these ill-conceived short-term political considerations, he already has available some well-reasoned guidance as to how to extricate the United States from the Afghanistan morass.  He got solid advice last fall from retired Lt. Gen. Karl Eikenberry, his ambassador in Kabul, who knows more about Afghanistan than Petraeus, McChrystal and special envoy Richard Holbrooke do, put together.”



6 –

What Obama Won’t Say Tonight

August 31, 2010


Editor’s Note: President Barack Obama’s aides say his speech Tuesday night marking the end of “combat operations” in Iraq will avoid the vainglorious aspects of President George W. Bush’s infamous “Mission Accomplished” speech in 2003.  However, in this draft of a speech that Obama won’t give, former CIA analyst Ray McGovern suggests that the President pivot away from the phase-out of U.S. troops in Iraq and address the worsening quagmire in Afghanistan:



7 –

Petraeus Cons Obama on Afghan War

Sept. 24, 2010




8 –

“Giant” Holbrooke Failed on Afghan War

December 14, 2010




9 –

Obama Lacks Clarity on Afghan War [or Déjà vu all over again]

March 28, 2011




10 –

More U.S. Soldiers Die in Vain

August 7, 2011




11 –

Lemmingly, We Roll Along

August 19, 2011




… and finally (but, alas, too late)


From Rudyard Kipling


1 –

It is not wise for the Christian white
To hustle the Asian brown;
For the Christian riles
And the Asian smiles
And weareth the Christian down.

At the end of the fight
Lies a tombstone white
With the name of the late deceased;

And the epitaph drear,
A fool lies here,
Who tried to hustle the East




2 –

… from ‘The Young British Soldier’


When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains 

An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier …

A soldier of the Queen!



3 –

If any question why we died,

Tell them, because our fathers lied.

Rep. Rick Larsen Bases Russia Policy on Myth

By David Swanson


Elizabeth Murray of VIPS, a member of our Center for Citizen Initiatives delegation to Russia in late June, was invited to speak at a small meeting on July 22 in Everett, Washington, with Congressman Rick Larsen.  “New Democrat centrist” Larsen showed himself (or professed to be) abysmally ignorant about which side is responsible for the marked increase in tension in Ukraine.  Were Larsen not a member of the House Armed Services Committee, his “ignorance” might be more credible.


A familiar dilemma: It is hard to tell which is worse: real, or feigned ignorance.  If it’s real, well, at least Larsen dovetails comfortably with 90 percent of Americans – malnourished as they are, to the point of starvation, on the reasons Russia reacted as it did to the Western-sponsored Putsch in Kiev on Feb. 22, 2014.  His reaction, rather, points more to a synthetic kind of ignorance – witness how he ignored Murray’s offer to send him additional information on Ukraine.  (Don’t bother me with facts.)  In this piece, David Swanson includes Elizabeth Murray’s account of the cognitive dissonance Larsen seemed to be experiencing (poor fellow).

Ray discusses with Brad Friedman (1) Friday night’s attempted coup in Turkey and (2) damning evidence of tangible support by Saudi government officials for some of the 9/11 hijackers – or – The Importance of Being Earnest (with apologies to Oscar Wilde)


The damning evidence shines through clearly in the until-now-secret “28 pages” of the Joint Congressional Inquiry on 9/11, a redacted version of which was released Friday.  ‘Splaining it all, White House spokesman Josh Earnest chose not to be earnest, joshing instead about there being “no evidence” of Saudi government support for the hijackers.


If Socrates took the hemlock for “making the worst case appear the better,” the same remedy might be chosen for joshing in Earnest.  And some hemlock should be left for the foreign minister of Saudi Arabia, who commented, “This matter is now finished.”  Sorry, Sheikh; not by a long shot.  That’s not how we do things in New York – much less in New Jersey.  You are up against the Jersey Girls and those of us who will not relent in supporting their determination that the real culprits of 9/11 be found and Justice be done.  You ain’t seen nothing yet.



(25 minutes; from 19:40 to 44:30.  Earlier, a 2-min. intro to the segment on Turkey starts at min. 15:53; intro of Ray begins at min. 18:15; discussion of the “28 pages” begins at 32:28)

Ray on Scott Horton re Russian and Ukraine

On Scott Horton’s radio show July 7, Ray gives a short tutorial on the recent history of Russia and Ukraine; how the democratically elected government of Viktor Yanukovych was forced out of Kiev in a Western orchestrated coup d’etat on Feb. 22, 2014; but how NATO “statesmen” start this “phase” of history on Feb. 23, 2014 – as if what George Friedman (accurately) called “really the most blatant coup in history” never happened.  Scott gives Ray enough time to discuss how it all went down, the implications for what now happens in central Europe, and why VIPS decided to write its second corporate memo directly to Chancellor Angela Merkel right before the NATO summit in Warsaw.  Ray adds a word about his two weeks in Russia (including Crimea) in late June as part of a Center for Citizen Initiatives delegation.

(27 minutes)


Deterrence or Dialog? – Successful PR-show at NATO-Summit hides deep cracks

Abschreckung oder Dialog? – Erfolgreiche PR-Show bei NATO-Gipfel verdeckt tiefe Risse 

RT Deutsch  —  International 


by Rainer Rupp




Das hat es in der Geschichte der NATO-Gipfeltreffen noch nicht gegeben: Das in Englisch abgefasste Abschlusskommuniqué der NATO-Staatsoberhäupter und Regierungschefs gleicht diesmal einem Roman, mit 16.500 Wörtern auf über 30 Din-A4 Seiten. Die spontane Reaktion einer langjährigen ehemaligen Mitarbeiterin des NATO-Generalsekretariats in Brüssel auf dessen Inhalt lautete: “Ein deutlicheres Zeichen, dass man sich nicht einig war, kann es gar nicht geben”.

English: This had never happened before in the history of NATO summits.  The final communique was the size of a novel, with 16,500 words … The instinctive reaction of a former long-term worker in the NATO Secretary General office in Brussels to the communiqué:  “There can be no clearer sign of disunity.”


About the author, Rainer Rupp, whose (unusual!) experience gives him good insight into NATO matters.


(From Wikipedia)

Rupp grew up in West Germany.  As a student in Mainz, he was recruited to spy for East Germany on NATO.  Rupp provided 10,000 pages to his controllers, including the precise location plans for the deployment of cruise missiles and Pershing II missiles in Western Europe, as well as key NATO documents, which, of course were shared with the Soviet KGB.  He was captured after the Berlin Wall fell, and served 7 years in prison.


Rupp claims that his activities may have averted a nuclear war in the fall of 1983, a claim that is not entirely unfounded according to American experts.  In an interview for the British Channel 4 program, “1983: The Brink of Apocalypse” about exercise “Able Archer 83” (broadcast in the UK on 5 January 2008), he said that he sent an urgent message to his handlers that NATO was not preparing to launch a surprise nuclear attack against the USSR during the exercise. Rupp claimed his message was vital in preventing a Soviet pre-emptive strike against NATO forces.


Those who do not read German, but have interest, can use a Google (or other) translation.  Rupp’s article on the NATO summit in Warsaw is worth reading:



NATO’s Warsaw Summit suggests US-led military bloc is divided

By Bryan MacDonald, an Irish journalist based in Russia

Ray comment: It will take another year, at least, but the fissures are likely to be come crevices – or even canyons – under a Clinton or Trump administration.  At that point, Europe will be dominated by Germany, and much will depend on whether the Germans, for the first time in 71 years, decide to act like adults. 



NATO Summit: Paper-Thin Consensus on Policy Toward Russia


On July 8, Ray went out on a limb just hours before NATO adopts its final Declaration at the Warsaw summit.  Ray told Sputnik news that he expects the final Declaration will use fulsome “solidarity-rhetoric” to paper over widening fissures in NATO – fissures that may grow into canyons by the next NATO summit.



The U.S. has grossly overplayed its hand and, with aggressive NATO “supreme commanders” like the just-retired Gen. Philip Breedlove, Washington has squandered a good deal of the credibility and trust it once enjoyed.  (On Breedlove, see the VIPS Memorandum of July 6.)


Moreover, European countries like Germany and France seem about to wake up to the reality that they were “had,” when they let Secretary Kerry browbeat them into approving economic sanctions against Russia just a week after he made the confident-but-dubious claim that the Russia was responsible for downing Malaysian Flight MH17 on July 17, 2014.  Sooner or later (probably sooner) the Allies are going to ask Kerry to produce the intelligence he claimed he had just three days after the shoot-down.  The Dutch, who are running the “investigation” of the shoot-down, say that Kerry has not produced that “evidence.”  (But No Worries, say the Dutch, because the Ukrainians have been just a terrific help in the investigation (!).


Kerry to David Gregory on Meet the Press, July 20, 2014:

“We picked up the imagery of this launch; we know the trajectory; we know where it came from; we know the timing and it was exactly at the time this aircraft disappeared from the radar. …”



The day may not be far off when the Germans and French will get up enough courage to ask Kerry, “Where’s the beef?  Produce that evidence.”  Yes, Ray thinks it possible that, out of archaic, inertial deference to the Washington, neither Berlin nor Paris has pressed strongly – up until now, at least – for the “evidence” Kerry claimed to have.


Russian President Vladimir Putin doesn’t trust Kerry.  Putin had already lodged a most unusual – and undiplomatic – complaint against him a year before.  At an open meeting on Sept. 5, 2013, the very day Obama arrived in St. Petersburg for a G-20 summit, Putin publicly said of Kerry: “He lies; he knows that he lies; this is sad.”   It is a safe bet that Putin’s opinion is not unique among European leaders.


Regarding the Warsaw summit, Ray told Sputnik that NATO’s declaration is likely to be highly interesting, since it will probably contain some hints of serious disagreement about the best approach to Russia.  The rhetoric will exude consensus, but widening fissures within NATO are likely to be discernable between the lines, even as Obama and others do their best to project a sense of solidarity and consensus.”  The kind of consensus reached at such meetings in the past is likely to prove elusive in present circumstances.  We’ll know more on Saturday, July 9.

As the NATO summit convenes in Warsaw, VIPS memo gets good coverage


As the NATO summit convenes today in Warsaw, the July 6 VIPS memo to Chancellor Merkel (https://consortiumnews.com/2016/07/06/merkel-urged-to-temper-natos-belligerence/) is receiving unusually good coverage in German media — particularly in “Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten,” which had also carried the text of VIPS’ earlier (August 30, 2014) Memo to Merkel (see Link at bottom).


Frühere US-Geheimdienstler warnen Merkel vor Säbelrasseln gegen Russland



2 –

Offener Brief an Merkel: Hochrangige ehemalige US-Beamte fordern Kursumkehr der NATO





Moskau bleibt NATO-Ziel

Merkel schwört Militärpakt auf Konfrontation ein. Brief ehemaliger US-Nachrichtendienstler warnt vor Katastrophe





Below is the link to earlier (Sept. 2, 2014) Deutsche Wirtschafts Nachrichten article that carried the text of, as well as commentary on, the VIPS Memo to Merkel of Aug. 30, 2014:

Krieg gegen Putin: Ehemalige US-Geheimdienstler warnen Merkel vor falschen „Beweisen“


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