RANGER AGAINST WAR: Goodbye to You <

Friday, January 13, 2017

Goodbye to You

Nothin' more to be said
Write me a letter instead
I don't mean to be cruel
But I'm finished with you
--Talk to Ya Later,
The Tubes 

You say yes, I say no
You say stop
and I say go go go 
--Hello, Goodbye,
The Beatles 

These last few weeks of holdin' on
The days are dull, the nights are long
Guess it's better to say
Goodbye to you 
--Goodbye to You,

Capping off an evening of inanity which passes as television news today was departing President Obama's Farewell Address to the nation from Chicago. It was a self-aggrandizing wrap on a lackluster two terms.

Mr. Obama proudly proclaimed that our lives as citizens matter, while inhabiting a podium in a city which he and anyone he knows and loves would not walk the streets sans Gestapo-like personal security details. Say it all you want, but the lives of those city's residents do not matter, not so much.

His boilerplate about how our soldiers, police and security apparatus have protected us from terrorist incidents drew hearty applause, but it is unproven. Mr. Obama was pitching woo over the murders of Osama bin Laden and thousands of terrorists, but the subjects of his kill orders were never near threats to the United States.

Those killings were merely convenient distractions, of the Wag the Dog variety.

The President cannot prove that his actions prevented terrorist attacks, and Ranger cannot prove his contention to the contrary. Neither Ranger nor Obama can prove that he is correct. Both positions, simply hypotheses without proof.

We here at RAW have maintained since 2005 that there have been no follow-on attacks because there are no operational terror assets capable of such actions here in the Homeland. The worst that we can expect are pin-prick attacks by pathetic losers wrongly portrayed as credible threats.

The President talked "democracy", while bragging of killing without trial and proof of guilt. Such actions are not democratic, and look suspiciously like those of the 9th century inhabited by crazed modern jihadists. Our leader is not a monarch wielding the power of life and death. Our Constitution says otherwise.

Ironically, this speech preempted a PBS special, "Super Weapons of the Third Reich". The coincidence provokes thought.

How do the U.S. drones unleashed on terror suspects differ from the V1 and V2 rockets used by the Nazis on the people of England? The U.S. Tomahawk missiles are direct descendants of these rockets. We launch them in the absence of declared war and on people outside the jurisdiction of our legal codes.

What the President did not say about democracy was that we hold detainees in a prison called Guantanamo, and that they are held without consideration of their being Prisoners of War (POW's) nor of their not having been convicted of any crime by any federal court.

One of Mr. Obama's feted election promises -- to dissolve GITMO, remains unfulfilled. 40 prisoners remain held in this legal limbo inflicted upon enemy combatants, our term for what the international community calls POW's.

Mr. Obama was elected on a platform of "hope" and "change", a counter-balance to the legal breeches of his predecessor. As he departs for his new $5 million D.C. digs (yes, the Obama's are leasing this humble abode, but they are buying multi-million dollar homes in California and Hawaii), it seems the main and abiding change will be in his personal and familial well-being.

The Phony War on Terror (PWOT ©) has not achieved much for most of us, but has profited some, handsomely.

History will be the final arbiter of the actions of both President Obama and those of his predecessor.

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Anonymous David said...

Excellent analysis. Your assessment of the relative threat has always struck me as so obvious that it hardly needs to be said, yet obviously it must be, because we are in a small minority.

On Obama's legacy -- because of the slant of the media, which is desperate to have some nostalgic icon to cling to in the face of the incoming Trump administration, I suspect that at least the first version of the "history" of the Obama administration will be overwhelmingly positive, but I think yours is more accurate. One day perhaps we as a people will have the presence of mind to recognize Obama as a minor leader in the history of an empire whose growth continues to cost us in ways we have yet to appreciate.

Now we have a new leader who has again promised to wind back American empire, and I wish could be optimistic about that, but I find I am not.

Friday, January 13, 2017 at 7:56:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

As a postscript to the above - there is an ironic parallel here. Obama swept into office as an imminent Nobel laureate simply because he was not Bush. I suspect he will be remembered as a great president in those very same circles simply because he is not Trump.

Friday, January 13, 2017 at 8:08:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

this is my first reply as Ranger.
i've followed your comments on Lisa's essays.
this reply is not related to my essay, but rather a recommendation that you read woodwards book-OBAMA WARS. pls note that is plural form.
just as any threat analysis must include intent as well as capability, so too must the Natnl command authority address the near and the far threat.
in the pwot our leaders express the view that we must protect our allies, which i categorically refuse to accept.
our allies should protect their interest and security, and we should do the same.
all threats are not the same.

now for some fun.
i'm from cleveland ohio and maintain my bonds. a few years ago some sorry little pip squeeks were sent to prison for attempting to blow up a cement bridge on a us highway.
the bomb was a dummy supplied by the fbi. they placed the dummy, and were sent to federal prison.
the joke is that it would have taken a literal truck load of high grade demo to do the attack.i'm sf and i know these things. ( i'm sorta like Jesse Stone)
in o's war book the pip squeek attacks are listed as credible attacks and we're supposed to quake in our boots.
the ny attack was said by woodward , reflecting administration input COULD HAVE KILLED THOUSANDS
Wrong. it was home made petn or equivalent and was probably ,if correctly made, about the same as a mortar round. all is hyperbole and bs.it was a incindiary rather that high explosive.
the underwear bomber and the shoe bomber were jokes , if ever there were jokes in the field of terrorism.
of course , we are not privy to the classified docs, so its hard to even discuss the topic, but we never are given any thing but propaganda presented as facts.
i hope to talk to you in the future.
now that the election cycle is over, i can return to ranger.
excuse me if i rambled, but i'm a bit out of practice.
jim hruska

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 12:03:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

No need to apologize.

I wouldn't mind hearing your more experienced opinion, if you have one and feel willing to share it, on a couple of thoughts I've long had that seem to be confirmed by your analysis.

First, leaving aside the silliness about fake explosives, it strikes me that if there were large numbers of people inside the U.S. intent on carrying out high-profile attacks, they could do so in crowded public spaces at airports or elsewhere, without explosives and without passing through any security screening. (Yet this does not happen regularly, and even if it did, it would be a serious criminal problem more than an existential threat to our society.)

Second, this must be true in all of America's major allies to the same extent, i.e. Canada could be attacked in this way but its survival is not threatened by terrorists, ditto France, Britain, Germany, etc. on down the line. I'm probably more willing to say America should stand by its allies than you are from what you've said, but it's worth noting that none of the countries where conflict is actually occurring recently, like Ukraine and Iraq and Syria, are American allies or ever were.

Finally, and this is the point I'm really interested in seeing if I might be on the right track with, all of this is wrong-footed anyways because the threats posed by terrorist groups are not conventional military ones in the first place. I am struck by a very strong feeling that we, both civilians and at least some parts of the military establishment, are intent on framing them as military problems because we feel like we have a ready-made solution to military problems, namely our military.

Saturday, January 14, 2017 at 7:53:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

i walk a fine line in writing about Terrorism(T). if i say something that they glom onto then the onus is on me.
so i never talk what i would do if i were planning a T opn.
the military is slap ass happy to assume any mission. this keeps them employed.
the mil is a wash out in this are

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 3:06:00 PM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...


Thanks for responding. First, I apologize if what I wrote came across as a request that you lay out how to conduct a terrorist operation. This was not my intention and I apologize unreservedly for putting you on the spot.

What does interest me is that it seems, speaking only as a civilian here, we've been sold by the government and the media on the theory that there are well-organized terrorist organizations which wish to attack us and, if they succeed in doing so, these attacks will be acts of war that threaten our societies, or "our way of life," or what have you. This applies not just in the U.S. but throughout the West.

If that's true, then military adventures in the Middle East seem more reasonable and justified.

However, if the threat isn't that imminent and existential, then instead of "making us safer," military adventurism exacts a large price in human lives on both sides and destabilizes the Middle East in pursuit of political objectives that maybe weren't all that realistic or feasible to begin with.

It also implies that Obama's legacy is not that he made us "more safe," whatever that might mean, but simply that he made continued warfare more legitimate by promoting the greater use of drones and special forces, which apparently don't lead to protests and demonstrations the way actual invasions do.

Sunday, January 15, 2017 at 7:54:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

the 1st step is to address intent AND capability.
the poor stooges in federal prison all had the intent with little on the capability side.
when a T atks us interests, and there is no state involvement , then that is a crime, and not an act of war.
war is done by nation states.
PLEASE do not apologize for ANYTHING here on RAW.it's an open forum dedicated to legal speech that is non-violent.

Monday, January 16, 2017 at 10:46:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Yes, I see what you mean on both points. Obviously my own attempt at analyzing the situation is more muddled or meandering.

The reason I've been circling back to this in my head is because I'm trying to figure out the sources of the confusion. You say terrorism is defined in the criminal law; it is not an act of war unless conducted by one state against another.

But that thinking is obsolete today. I use that word carefully because I don't mean you're wrong, but rightly or wrongly that view is regarded as antiquated and now we are routinely at "war" with non-state actors.

Now partly this is no doubt just ignorance in what passes for public debate, which I'm certainly guilty of on occasion, but I have been wondering whether it also happens because people feel that the magnitude of the threat posed by terrorist attacks is so great that it can't be thought of "merely" as criminal but must be thought of as an act of war, as a military problem. If I'm correct on that bit, though, it seems like the public perception of the scale of the threat is wildly overblown.

That's at the core of my questioning here, not an attempt to get a professional's opinion on the mechanics of how to conduct an attack, which is why I apologized for the way my first questions were framed.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 at 11:12:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

if what u say is true then we must redefine international law.
if u notice we have not done so.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 10:47:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Jim & David,

IMO, a big issue is that I'm am not so sure that the concept of "state" can really be applied in a good portion of the MENA. It's more like a loose confederation of tribes within a shimmering mirage of something nominally referred to as a state.

That, IMO, is a huge challenge. If one of the Princes is helping send terrorists out into the world from one of the tribal factions, how do you address that?

So far it seems that the answer has been as muddled as the concept of state in the region.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 11:24:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Addendun: Giving the loonie US war masters the benefit of the doubt for a moment - they may have sought to create strong states, friendly to the US, for the very purpose of solving that conundrum.


Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 11:27:00 AM GMT-5  
Anonymous David said...

Jim -- Why rewrite international law when you can simply violate it, instead? I have noticed that those with sufficient power tend to disregard laws when they are inconvenient. This applies to states, corporations, and individuals alike. I get what you're saying, but it seems to me it just means that the U.S. government is now operating outside the bounds of international law. But that's nothing new -- the war on terror had crossed that line by 2003 at the very latest, with the illegal invasion of Iraq.

Avedis -- And here we come to the nub of my issue: the perception that the "old" definitions of war and peace in international law are obsolete in the new world order and therefore new approaches are required. A couple of thoughts:

First, I wish I could give foreign policy elites the benefit of the doubt on this, but I just don't see it. It's generally acknowledged that Islamist groups have received a great deal of support from the Saudis - but Saudi Arabia is the textbook example of these "strong state allies" America created in the Middle East. We've also deliberately destabilized plenty of strong states in the region - Afghanistan in the 1980s, Iraq in 1991-2003, Syria since 2012, etc. Many of our present problems stem from those decisions.

Second, most of those princes spend most of their time plotting against one another. I'm not naive enough to think all of our problems will go away forever if we just follow the golden rule, but our willingness to wade into conflicts in failing states that we understand very little about is what gets us in trouble. Should the Islamic state not target civilians in the West? Obviously not, on any moral or legal level. On the other hand, we have been bombing and killing them for quite some time. Should we expect them to do nothing about it? Prior to that, their main concern was beheading internal enemies, not searching for external ones.

Third, of course that brutality gets liberals in the West interested in rushing in to help, but multi-sided civil wars - your rival princes theory - are the hardest ones to intervene in. Are we allies with Turkey still? If so, why do we support the Kurds in Syria? Do we want a strong state in Syria? If so, why do we support the Kurds? Do we want to help the Kurds carve out a separate state for themselves? If so, why do we support other Syrian rebel groups that want to keep that state intact? Is our priority really to defeat ISIS there? If so, why don't we support Al Qaeda in Syria, since they're at war with ISIS? Conversely, should we support ISIS in exchange for them attacking Al Qaeda? Etc., etc., etc., etc.

It has always seemed to me that if you want to create order in a failed state you need soldiers on every street corner, until a local government has been properly established. This would require millions of soldiers and probably decades of deployments. It is small wonder that our efforts to do so on the cheap usually fail.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017 at 3:18:00 PM GMT-5  
Blogger rangeragainstwar said...

Excellent insights.

We have nothing to add.

Sunday, January 22, 2017 at 3:20:00 PM GMT-5  

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