Some Liberals, And Too Many Other Americans, Are Adopting The McCain Doctrine

Hysteria. That’s what I am witnessing. Plain hysteria.

It is one thing for John McCain and other Republicans to go on television, time after time, and argue that we need to do more to defeat ISIS, by which they mean defining the effort in terms of a religious war and bringing in American combat troops to fight and die in that war. I have come to expect such talk from warmongering right-wingers.

But it is another thing altogether to hear liberals arguing for the McCain Doctrine, a strategy that if followed to its logical conclusion would have us occupying several more countries, losing thousands more lives and spending trillions more dollars.

Last night I heard Ed Schultz on MSNBC say that the beheading of Egyptian Christians by ISIS zealots in Libya “amounts to a religious war” and that “what we’re doing isn’t strong enough, isn’t working.” He offered this criticism of Obama’s declaration about combat troops:

As I see it, the United States is going to have to have continual review of its strategy. We can’t sit back here and watch hordes of people get their heads cut off. And why would we tell ISIS there’s no way we would ever put ground troops in combat situations?

Shultz wasn’t alone on MSNBC. Later Chris Matthews chimed in on the mass murder of Coptic Christians in Libya:

What can we do? Can we do nothing? …We can’t see people killed like this in our face and simply flip to the sports page or the financial news or what’s at the movies or who’s going to win the Oscars and act like America, our country, is not being morally humiliated, because it is, with the lives of at least some of these people, who must, in their last minutes, have to be wondering if there’s any chance the people in the United States could be coming to their rescue because that’s how we were taught that we conduct ourselves. We don’t leave people behind.

I don’t know where Matthews has been. I don’t know what Ed Schultz has been smoking. But we are doing something about ISIS. It’s not like ISIS is some powerful, unconquerable army having their way while we, the United States, are ignoring them. We are killing the bastards every day from the air. We, along with Kurdish fighters and others, are helping to stop their advancement.

But I’m afraid ISIS is succeeding in doing what it is they want to do in another, perhaps more important, sense: they are slowly convincing people that we should see this as a religious war and that we should send American and other Western troops to fight them so they can, as their apocalyptic theological nonsense informs them, usher in the end of this world.

CNN’s National Security Analyst, Peter Bergen, explains:

A key window into understanding ISIS is its English language “in-flight magazine” Dabiq. Last week the seventh issue of Dabiq was released, and a close reading of it helps explains ISIS’ world view.

The mistake some make when viewing ISIS is to see it as a rational actor. Instead, as the magazine documents, its ideology is that of an apocalyptic cult that believes that we are living in the end times and that ISIS’ actions are hastening the moment when this will happen.

The name of the Dabiq magazine itself helps us understand ISIS’ worldview. The Syrian town of Dabiq is where the Prophet Mohammed is supposed to have predicted that the armies of Islam and “Rome” would meet for the final battle that will precede the end of time and the triumph of true Islam.

In the recent issue of Dabiq it states: “As the world progresses towards al-Malhamah al-Kubrā, (‘the Great Battle’ to be held at Dabiq) the option to stand on the sidelines as a mere observer is being lost.” In other words, in its logic, you are either on the side of ISIS or you are on the side of the Crusaders and infidels.

When American aid worker Peter Kassig was murdered by ISIS in November, “Jihadi John” — the masked British murderer who has appeared in so many ISIS videos — said of Kassig: “We bury the first crusader in Dabiq, eagerly waiting for the rest of your armies to arrive.”

In other words, ISIS wants a Western ground force to invade Syria, as that will confirm the prophecy about Dabiq.

Unfortunately, public opinion has been swinging in the direction of giving ISIS what it wants. A recent CNN/ORC poll found that 58% of Americans now think, quite wrongly, that our military action against ISIS is “going poorly.” That’s up from 49% last October. But here is CNN’s scariest and most troubling graphic:

ground troops pollAs you can see, the country is divided on the matter of ground troops. However, back in September of last year, only 38% of respondents favored “sending ground troops into combat” against ISIS. Something has obviously happened to change minds. And if you think it is the way journalists, particularly on television, have reported on ISIS and its evil doings, you are right.

ISIS manipulates the news cycle at will. These terrorist freaks are doing everything they can to bring about their imaginary end-times apocalypse, and that involves broadcasting, or getting others to broadcast, horrific images or stories about horrific murders all over the world. And if we put American combat soldiers into the mix of actions we are undertaking to destroy ISIS, we are playing right into the freaks’ deluded strategy. And if President Obama starts officially referring to this as a war against a form of Islam, as many people are suggesting he do, then we are characterizing the fight exactly the way the jihadists want us to.

Beyond all that, all those people out there who are itching to send in American soldiers to die in a ground war with ISIS should be required to tell us just exactly what will come next. What will come after we have defeated ISIS? How long will we occupy Iraq and Syria and Yemen and now Libya in order to make sure they don’t come back? What other countries are we prepared to occupy, after radical religious zealots pop up and start murdering elsewhere? And how many dead Americans will it take before we are no longer “morally humiliated” by a band of Islamist fanatics with guns and little else besides small slices of territory here and there that they are constantly having to defend?

The truth is that we are right to fight ISIS. A lot of the reason there is an ISIS is because of a colossal mistake we made in 2003 with the invasion of Iraq, which triggered destabilization across the region. But our fight shouldn’t involve ground troops. As many have said, there are plenty of reasons for the regional parties to get involved with combat troops, many of them existential reasons. We shouldn’t let them off the hook by doing the job for them, especially since it will inevitably be a never-ending job.

22 Comments

  1. Ben Field

     /  February 17, 2015

    These are murderous people, united in twisted beliefs, fighting their neighbors and all infidels against them. Seems I’ve heard that before, “you’re either with us or against us”. We live in a secular nation, so there should never be a “religious war” by definition. Should Christians here find it necessary to declare a religious war, then let their evangicals draft their flocks, not my sons. Start their boot camps and training without tax dollars and fly themselves over and have at it. Pentecostal Code Talkers, Episcopal Reconnaissance, think of the possibilities. It’s one thing to protect our national interests, but please no religious wars.

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    • I like your point about living in a secular nation and the impossibility, therefore, of engaging in a religious war. The problem is that those who want such a religious war don’t think this is a secular nation, or are fighting like hell to make sure it isn’t.

      And I like your idea of Pentecostal Code Talkers. Folks who speak in tongues should have an advantage when it comes to secret communication during war time!

      Duane

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  2. Well said, and I especially liked this:

    Beyond all that, all those people out there who are itching to send in American soldiers to die in a ground war with ISIS should be required to tell us just exactly what will come next. What will come after we have defeated ISIS? How long will we occupy Iraq and Syria and Yemen and now Libya in order to make sure they don’t come back? What other countries are we prepared to occupy, after radical religious zealots pop up and start murdering elsewhere? And how many dead Americans will it take before we are no longer “morally humiliated” by a band of Islamist fanatics with guns and little else besides small slices of territory here and there that they are constantly having to defend?

    It is a mistake to even characterize our anti-ISIS efforts as a “war”, a term that, I submit, ought to be reserved for happened in WW II, the last conflict that was among nations and, until its end, free of the threat of nuclear weapons. Ever since that time, war-fighting has been limited by the nuclear reality, such limit being aptly symbolized by Truman’s firing of MacArthur in the Korean “police action”. That term, much-maligned since, actually contained some truth, and these days it is even more a case needing more policing than all-out battle. The U.S constitution ought to be amended as to how the armed forces should be trained and used in this new context, with the term “war” being reserved for conflicts involving WMD’s. This would only recognize reality because the armed forces have already evolved away from their traditional role. You cannot bomb a religion into submission.

    As Duane says, even progressives are falling into the trap of failing to understand how things have changed. That’s scary. Rather than boots on the ground and nation-building, what is needed is a strategy that avoids improving the enemy’s recruiting efforts. It deserves a national debate, one I hope surfaces in the next two years.

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    • Jim, in re my comments below I think you might agree that reviving the draft would certainly force a national debate. It’s bad enough that the oligarchy is eviscerating the middle class, but then putting them in military uniforms and sending them off to war might just be the 2 x 4 needed to smack the people of this country between the eyes so they start paying attention to what out elected officials are doing.

      Herb (not Hefrb)

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      • Herb, I think your assessment of the national ethos relative to the draft is correct, but I don’t think there would be much of a debate. More of a stony silence toward whatever pol suggested it, followed by a resounding defeat at the ballot box.

        The current meme infecting the nation imagines most people in the military as automatic heroes, but it excludes the desire of most to actually have their kids join the 1% on the front lines. That’s reserved for the small cohort that is impecunious but otherwise qualified. Thus, you buttress my point – the all-volunteer military differs drastically from its makeup in the old days. And, it would be an empty threat anyway – the brass learned the hard way just how inefficient a draft is. The soldier of yesteryear was cannon fodder, the soldier of today is more like Terminator, but with a human core.

        I dunno, Hefrb has an interesting ring to it. Reminds me of HerBlock, the political cartoonist. 😀

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    • I struggle with what “war” means these days. I think we probably have to expand our definition a bit in the face of non-state actors like ISIS, who although they don’t have a state to call their own, very much want one. But I like “police action” too, even though expressing that idea probably helped lose the 2004 election for John Kerry. Republicans used his comments to paint him as a dangerous weakling who didn’t understand the nature of the terrorist threat.

      But I don’t think you call something a police action that necessarily involves combat troops on the ground capturing territory. That seems like warfare to me and I’m not sure why it doesn’t fit the common sense definition of war, even absent state players.

      Finally, about your calling for a “strategy that avoids improving the enemy’s recruiting efforts.” I have thought about that for a long time. It seems there is no answer to that problem. Getting involved doesn’t seem to help (Libya) and not getting involved doesn’t seem to help (Syria, early on). Removing a tyrant and occupying a country didn’t make much of a difference (Iraq) nor did pulling out and leaving the folks alone (Iraq withdrawal). 

      The reason there are thousands of mostly young people willing to join an apocalyptic death cult like ISIS are manifold. Some of the recruiting has to do with the economic conditions in the region and in parts of Europe; some of it has to do with the weak condition of the regional states involved; some has to do with fighting longstanding tyranny; some has to do with Shiite-Sunni grievances and counter-grievances; some has to do with the mental health of the recruits; some of it has to do with a “purified” Islam; and so on. So, I don’t know what can be done to address the problem directly.

      I think the best solution available to us—while we keep ISIS under threat of missile attack—is to try to get rational Sunnis to get more skin in the game and convince them, those that aren’t already convinced, that ISIS is their long-term enemy, even if the group at this time seems like a better alternative to either Shiite rule or American imperialism. Until there is a kind of mutually beneficial détente between Sunni and Shiite actors in the region, and until Sunnis who have legitimate grievances against others realize that the way to a better life doesn’t involve psychopaths with a Koran and a dull knife, we can keep killing and killing and the problem will go on and on. 

      Duane

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  3. To me what we’re seeing in the polls is merely a reflection of what people are seeing and hearing in the news media — from MSNBC to Fox News. It’s the warmongers who get all the attention.

    One of the reasons I watch Fareed Zakaria on Sunday morning rather than Meet The Press, is that Fareed has people who actually know what they are talking about rather than politicians who would rather make headlines than consider rational foreign policy; that is, if they could actually consider foreign policy rationally in the first place.

    It seems to me that if we are going to send troops into the Middle East, then we must first reinstitute the draft. Start drafting people to go fight in the Middle East (or anywhere else for that matter) and then take a poll to see how many would support “boots on the ground.”

    In fact, efforts to revive the draft would make a good amendment to the Authorization for the Use of Force that Congress is now considering. Sure, we’ll send troops over to help our allies, but those troops must first be drafted.

    Hefrb

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    • Yes, the warmongers do, and always have I suppose, get all the attention.

      And I, too, like Zakaria’s program. You actually learn something by watching that very serious show, which often features world leaders and experts who don’t make a living, or a political career, off spouting ridiculous things on television. 

      No doubt, Herb, your draft idea would quickly dry up support for a ground war in Iraq and Syria. Which is exactly why there will be no draft. The politicians would then be directly accountable to many more people and that accountability would dampen their television-induced enthusiasm for using American combat troops to settle decades- and centuries-old conflicts in the Middle East.
      Duane

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  4. jdhight01

     /  February 17, 2015

    Much of this gearing up for war is the military-industrial complex, whose holdings include the television networks. War is a very profitable business, and these bastards do not care how many will die as long as they make an obscene amount of money. A case in point is Halliburton, who was hurting financially until their former CEO, Dick Cheney, along with George Bush, bailed them out by invading Iraq. Remember all the no-bid contracts? The thanks that the USA got from Halliburton was they moved their operations to avoid taxes. I see the same thing happening–all Congress needs is a bigger smoking gun to fire the clueless public into demanding another armed conflict. The thirst for profit by the .01 percent will prevail again, and the media will beat the drums of war for them.

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    • I hope you are wrong, Jim. Because if you are right, we are in a bad way as a country. Thankfully, President Obama has, so far, kept his head and has frustrated the efforts of those who are hell-bent on getting us involved in a ground war in, of all places, Iraq and Syria.

      Like

  5. ansonburlingame

     /  February 18, 2015

    To all,

    The point of the blog, as usual, is to critque “right wing warmongers”, etc. Fine with me and go ahead. I am surprised no one posted about O’Reiilly’s call for a Holy War last night. As well he challenged every minister, priest, rabbi and mullah in America to speak in favor of just such a war this weekend!!! He seems to be gearing up for another Crusade for sure.

    But look what is missing from this blog and comments thereto. What is the correct path to take for America in this current conflict, call it whatever you like. I prefer War on Radical Islamists for the time being, or even War on Terror as we used to call it.

    No way can I articulate such matters in a comment, how better to confront ISIS in the world today. I will attempt to form my own conclusions on this matter, at some length in my own blog. It will attempt to find a path between Obama and McCain and yes the term “lily pad” will be used therein. But it will be a “lily pad” set of ideas not considered before, a 21st century form of military intervention but NOT occupation.

    Anson

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    • I saw O’Reilly’s call for a Holy War. It’s just too bad O’Reilly doesn’t have to go and fight his 21st century crusade, which is want the jihadists are begging us to do. 

      You reference what to call this current conflict. I’m not sure what to call it officially, that is, from the lips of the president, but I can tell you what he shouldn’t call it: a war against Islamists. Why? Because even though that is technically correct–and I subscribe to calling it that myself–it is not something the leader of the Western world should say to the very large Muslim world. It sounds too much like a “war against Islam.” People aren’t very good at making fine distinctions, especially people who don’t always have access to good information and are easily manipulated by Islamist propaganda.

      President Obama is doing just fine with the way he describes what is going on. 

      As far as your ideas on your blog, I remind you that John Kerry attempted to define the so-called war on terror in terms of a policing action, just like you did. Many believe that cost him the election, as Republican quickly pounced on it and called him dangerous.

      I happen to agree, though, with a lot of what you said, up until you advocated taking back Iraqi cities with American troops on the ground. There is no good reason to think that now or anytime in the future that we would be able to hand back those cities to the Iraqi government and expect a different outcome than the one we had last time, after many American lives were spent and hundreds upon hundreds of billions of dollars were spent “training” their armed forces. This is their fight and our job now is to keep ISIS on the defensive until such time as the locals have the training–and the will–to fight the bastards themselves.

      Duane

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  6. Duane,

    Damn good Op-Ed in this morning’s Guardian. It makes the arguments similar to those you have in this post. Scares the hell out of me that we are more driven by hysteria than common sense.

    http://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/feb/18/obama-republicans-media-concur-war-with-isis?CMP=ema_565

    Herb

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    • The Guardian piece is indeed “damn good”. It’s straight talk, plain language, and it’s right on target. Unfortunately, most American (potential) voters will be oblivious of it – too many are navel-gazing, being desperately over-worked and under paid, or fixated on Faux News. What is lacking in this picture is political leadership such as wielded by the likes of Winston Churchill.

      But even if Churchill were alive, I think he would be feckless because nobody is actually bombing London, or New York, or taking Paris. (A few dead journalists don’t really get the blood boiling, despite the big one-day parade.) And, there’s no draft and no prospect of one. Ho hum. And in case anyone wonders how the big boys think about this, check out the stock market. 😦

      Like

    • That was interesting, Herb. Thanks for linking to that article. But as much as I like the shots at Bob Schieffer’s dumb comments and others saying stupid shit on Fox “News,” I think I would disagree with a couple of things in it.

      First is the assertion that the new AUMF request is essentially limitless. In fact, I think it is notable in its attempt to at least partially tie the hands of the executive branch in three years (even though that pesky first AUMF is still around). In any case, I don’t think it is a stretch to include ISIS under the 2001 AUMF, since they are most definitely an offspring of al Qaeda. It would be, as far as I’m concerned, lawyerly hair-splitting to tease out much of a difference, in terms of the intent of that original AUMF. If Congress wants to limit the authority of the president under either of the two existing AUMFs, it has the power to do so. Then we’d be in for a real fight, wouldn’t we?

      Second, the writer wants to know about civilian deaths resulting from our efforts against ISIS. Yeah, well, we all know that you can’t drop bombs with the kind of precision that entails no innocent person on the ground ever dying because of it. If one’s salient criterion for engaging in battle is that no innocent civilian will ever be killed, then one won’t fight many battles, especially when the enemy is now hiding in towns with innocents in them (that is the major reason why we aren’t bombing the hell out of them night and day like some advocate). Our intent ought to be to get the bad guys with as little collateral damage as possible, but the possibility of such damage is always there and we best face up to it and either not let it paralyze us with inaction or get the hell out of the war business altogether.

      Duane

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  7. Anonymous

     /  February 19, 2015

    Sport On!

    Like

  8. ansonburlingame

     /  February 19, 2015

    Good discussion throughout.

    Two quick (Ha!) points.

    Read Will’s column in today’s Globe. He speaks of trying to define war-making in nice, crisp legal terms. Can’t be done in my view. Ultimately one must trust the leaders conducting the war. Invade Europe was essentially what the President told Ike to do, Congress had no role in the decision, and we …….., ultimately winning a war. Had Ike failed on the beaches of Normandy, well who knows what next, but ……..?

    Second, Duane, I did not intend to advocate a “police action” against ISIS. I specifically said a “military intervention” but implied it was on a smaller scale, battalion/brigade size interventions, lake a .team taking a building in NYC if you will.

    The difficulty in fighting an asymetrical war is the apparent lack of a center of gravity of the enemy. They have no center of gravity, such as Hitler, or the leadership of the commiunist party in Russia, in times past. Our Vietnamese enemy had no real center of gravity as well. We could have wiped Hanoi off the map, conventionally, and yet ………

    I heard recently that some 22% of all Muslims were “fundamentalists”, (likening them to such as ISIS). Well 22% of 1 Billion is a helluva lot of people, about two- thirds the size in population of the U. S. With no center of gravity to “kill” how do you fight, and win, against such an enemy?

    That is the dilemma of which I write, a diffuse enemy but one with large numbers of people like Chris Kyle (in reverse and without his level of training). No Kyle was not a religious fanatic but he firmly believed all the people he shot or shot at were “savages”. As well he repeatedly said in his book that “I loved it”, meaning I suppose killing as many “savages” as he could find.

    OK, third point (sorry). I thought the Guardian article was “crap”. Typical liberal slant that we started it all by invading Iraq, etc. OK make that point but then tell me what to do next, other than try to “re-educate” 220 Million fanatics!!

    Anson

    Like

    • Anson,

      I haven’t read Will’s column but I will say that I agree with you to a point about trusting the leaders conducting the war. That is so long as they have proper civilian authorization to conduct the war and so long as there is continuing congressional oversight as to whether the authorization remains justified as the war continues. Too many times in our recent history presidents have been given (or they simply took without congressional authority) open-ended powers to prosecute wars for as long as they feel necessary. Of course, Congress can meddle too much, which can also be a problem. Both branches should work together to maintain some kind of unified front, although that is obviously impossible with all the irrational Obama-haters Congress these days.

      As to your “police action” denial, I can only offer you your own words, which seem very much like you are advocating some kind of police action:

      Now think of ISIS as a “global Mafia” today. Then consider how American society degraded and ultimately “defeated” just the Mafia. I submit innovative technology and the effective use of raw physical force by police, the FBI and others did the job, eventually, for the sake of society.

      Could American society have defeated the Mafia without “boots on the ground”? Of course not and anyone thinking that we could have negotiated with the Mafia to make them stop criminal actions would be laughed out of any public discourse at the time. Economic pressure on the Mafia would have failed as well. What are you going to do after you shut down all the grocery stores in a Mafia controlled area of NYC, I wonder???

      As well, while the full array of American society’s power, including law, technology and raw physical power was levied against the Mafia, there were many law abiding citizens that actually supported the Mafia in their towns and neighborhoods. But ultimately the legal forces of society overcame such sentiments. If nothing else that shows that popular opinion is not always right and government must do what is needed to keep society safe, popular opinion in a neighborhood notwithstanding.

      Same with ISIS in my view, globally.

      Like

  9. ansonburlingame

     /  February 20, 2015

    Duane,

    Not to needlessly prolong this but ……. When we can agree, in part at least, that is good in my view. I would suggest that in terms of Congress declaring War, we are in full agreement. As well we both I hope agree that neither Congress not the White House should micro-manage the tactics in war. Leave tactics to people trained to develope and execute them. A key to that approach is counting the ROE’s thrust into the face of military men and women. Don’t do it, period is my view on such matters. When the likes of Calley (Vietnam disgrace) or Marines peeing on dead warriors let military leaders deal with the issues as well, just as Ike dealt with Patton slapping a soldier (or was it a coward?).

    The difference between a police action and military intervention is huge in my view simply because the rules of such engagements are vastly different. Our Constitution controls the actions of all law enforcement actions in America. Only UCMJ controls our men fighting outside of America. OK, international law controls our men in uniform as well but who really knows what that says and can actually achieve. Trying to control action on any battlefield with “law(s)” is not yet something that humans have figured out how to accomplish. If we ever do that then war will cease to exist I suppose.

    Anson

    Like

    • @ Anson,
      You said,

      Leave tactics to people trained to develope and execute them. A key to that approach is counting the ROE’s thrust into the face of military men and women. Don’t do it, period is my view on such matters. When the likes of Calley (Vietnam disgrace) or Marines peeing on dead warriors let military leaders deal with the issues as well, just as Ike dealt with Patton slapping a soldier (or was it a coward?).

      While I agree about leaving tactics to the military experts I completely disagree that Rules of Engagement and standards of conduct ought not be vetted by the civilian branches of government. I’m frankly shocked that you espouse that. I would think that the errors made in the two examples you cite as well as the Abu Ghraib and Gitmo messes would make the point obvious. The military, at least here in America, is an instrument for war-fighting, not a department for formulating laws or even cultural standards. Example: Truman’s racial integration of the armed forces.

      It’s hard to think of a principle of government more consistently observed in the U.S. than civilian pre-eminence over the military. It’s also hard to over-estimate the damage done to America’s reputation and the benefits to our enemy’s recruiting by the publicized excesses mentioned. Avoiding such things and having hight standards is more important than ever, not just because the internet is global but because such standards are a reflection of all the people as expressed through a representative democracy.

      Like

  10. ansonburlingame

     /  February 21, 2015

    Jim,
    .
    Abu Grabi was not caused by lack of “guidance” to soldiers guarding prisoners. It was caused by an absolute failure in leadership by the female Brigader General in charge of the place. She was NOT courts martialed for starters. Why not? The brutality, actually the cowardice of soldiers picking on unprotected prisoners, was a failure in leadership and common sense, not lack of “rules”. You get what you inspect, not what you expect. How many times did she check on the behavior of HER guards, on the back shifts so to speak??

    How high up in the chain of command did disciplinary action reach in the case of the four Marines peeing on dead enemies? Not far at all as I recall. Why? But I bet we have a new rule somewhere telling everyone never to pee on a dead enemy, again. Next step will be to “outlaw” spitting on them as well I suppose, by lawyers sitting 5000 miles away.

    Anson

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  11. Brigadier Karpinski did not run the prison in a vacuum, she was a pawn in a much larger game under the thumb of her superior, General Sanchez, who in turn was responding to historically-unique guidance from his superiors. The story, from Wikipedia, shows very well how these things work, and interestingly, how even civilian control of the military can go awry. And, how it is eventually held accountable by history. Your version, blaming the whole thing on Karpinski, is a good example of revisionist history. (I see in the news that Oklahoma is in the process of legislation that will force AP history books to pare back on “bad” history and present America in a less-critical light. Soon, perhaps, material like the following will be erased, at least in Oklahoma.)

    The administration of George W. Bush attempted to portray the abuses as isolated incidents, not indicative of general U.S. policy. This was contradicted by humanitarian organizations such as the Red Cross, Amnesty International, and Human Rights Watch. After multiple investigations, they stated that the abuses at Abu Ghraib were not isolated but were part of a wider pattern of torture and brutal treatment at American overseas detention centers, including those in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Guantanamo Bay. There was evidence that authorization for the torture had come from high up in the military hierarchy, with allegations being made that Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld had authorized some of the actions.

    The United States Department of Defense removed seventeen soldiers and officers from duty, and eleven soldiers were charged with dereliction of duty, maltreatment, aggravated assault and battery. Between May 2004 and March 2006, these soldiers were convicted in courts-martial, sentenced to military prison, and dishonorably discharged from service. Two soldiers, Specialists Charles Graner and Lynndie England, were sentenced to ten and three years in prison, respectively. Brigadier General Janis Karpinski, the commanding officer of all detention facilities in Iraq, was reprimanded and demoted to the rank of colonel. Several more military personnel who were accused of perpetrating or authorizing the measures, including many of higher rank, were not prosecuted.

    Documents popularly known as the Torture Memos came to light a few years later. These documents, prepared shortly before the Iraq invasion by the United States Department of Justice, authorized certain enhanced interrogation techniques, generally held to involve torture of foreign detainees. The memoranda also argued that international humanitarian laws, such as the Geneva Conventions, did not apply to American interrogators overseas. Several subsequent U.S. Supreme Court decisions, including Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (2006), have overturned Bush administration policy, and ruled that Geneva Conventions apply.

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