But then Galula put the boot in to the aspiring counter-insurgents. Whether it was due to his disenchantment with what had happened in Algeria is not clear - but Galula laid out the central problem for the counterinsurgents when they tried to mirror the communist revolutionaries - they didn’t have a cause:

"One basic difference between insurgency and counterinsurgency is that the insurgent starts out with nothing but a cause and grows to strength, while counterinsurgent often starts with everything but a cause and gradually declines in strength to the point of weakness"

So the RAND corporation decided to find something equivalent to a cause, powerful enough to bring the villagers in SE Asia over to the American side.

Up to this point RAND had been exclusively dealing with the tactics of nuclear warfare, but in the mid 60s it turned its attention to counterinsurgency - or what they started calling COIN. And very quickly there was a furious debate within the think tank.

The traditionalists argued that you stuck with the Hearts and Minds approach - or what they now called HAM. But others said that this never worked because the Americans didn’t have as powerful a vision to offer the peasants as the communist revolutionaries did. They didn’t have a romantic picture of creating a new world.

The solution, they said, was to fuse counterinsurgency with modern economic theory - above all the theory of the free market - and treat the villagers as “rational actors” in an economic system. You didn’t offer them a vision, or a cause, instead you gave them “selective incentives” to co-operate with the government, plus disincentives to stop them resisting.

"How To Kill A Rational Peasant" - Adam Curtis

wow. So a former true-believer who has seen how worthless counterinsurgency is (Galula) tells counterinsurgency wonks the obvious reason why this is so (that frankly I’m baffled no one realized in the first place): They begin to work from a place of zero vision, particularly vision FOR those they want to dominate and pretend to help (this in itself being a problem as well that goes unsaid). So instead of abandoning counterinsurgency the RAND corporation (essentially the forefathers of COIN) try to infuse something that’s even worse and more morally bankrupt than having no vision whatsoever: modern economic theory, the theory of the free market, Rational Choice theory, and all that nonsense for fucking academic 2-year olds…

I mean, I knew COIN was some absurd, dumb shit devised by clueless assholes, but holy crow it’s somehow even a lot worse than that.

we put the Justice Department in a very difficult place if we’re telling them, “This is supposed to be against the law, but we want you to turn the other way.” That’s not something we’re going to do.
President Barack Obama referring to his standard when prosecuting medical marijuana growers but NOT referring to his standard of (yes) turning the other way and NOT prosecuting those who committed and authorized torture and other war crimes. Just in case you got confused for a second there…


— UC-Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi, explaining why she shouldn’t be held accountable for the UC Davis pepper spray incident (numerous videos available at the above link, if by some strange chance you haven’t seen one yet).

“Moving forward” has become a handy euphemism for ignoring abuses of power and shielding the people responsible from consequences. (Though the call for starting the healing process and moving forward is strangely absent when the accusations are against, say, young people of color or non-citizens.)

Katehi’s call to move forward is hardly the first time the language has been code for free pass. As Glenn Greenwald wryly notes, that same day, Vice President Dick Cheney publicly lauded President Obama for not prosecuting people responsible for the Bush administration’s “enhanced-interrogation” policies, itself code for torture. (Just like “Iraq has WMDs” was code for “No it doesn’t.”)

Obama himself has used these words like a mantra, and even gained some devotees:

Oh wait. The last one was Obama referring to ex-Indonesian President Suharto. Apparently we only look backwards when we’re talking about some one else’s skeletons.

 CLICK HERE and read more by Jeannie Rose Field on the topic. 

Let’s weave this into my political platform…. Truth and Reconciliation? Fuck, who needs that, we are people of the Future. Look at that great big Future out there. Keep looking! Nevermind the past. Forget about the present. Look on to Forever, where the Future is, keep reaching for it as it keeps receding into the distance. Don’t look at the Present, that’d be like when the cartoon runs of the cliff and then it looks down to notice that there’s nothing there. CERTAINLY don’t look to the past. 

As long as we’re at it, anything I’ve ever done wrong, let’s just forget about it. Let’s look forward. Again. Forever. why’d you even ever stop? As a friend suggested “I may have messed up all those times I suggested we just move forward, but let’s look ahead and not back to here.” and that time, just now (see there you go again with the Present), that I again said let’s look forward? Well NOW that’s the past, so let’s move forward. Again. Forever.

oh uh, but I just wanted to point out one thing before moving forward. That thing that you did terribly and horribly wrong that you need to be held accountable for. I’m sorry, but we simply can’t look forward without looking back. I know what I said, but that’s for you, YOU look forward, but I must look forward and back because I am like Janus, I am god-like, you’re a fucking mortal. So fuck you. And keep your eyes on the fucking future prize.

Speeches alone will not solve our problems - it will take persistent action. So for those who question the character and cause of my nation, I ask you to look at the concrete actions that we have taken in just nine months.

- President Obama speaking on Peace at the UN today.

I am laughing with vomit in my mouth. It’s getting messy. He even followed with:

On my first day in office, I prohibited - without exception or equivocation - the use of torture by the United States of America. I ordered the prison at Guantanamo Bay closed, and we are doing the hard work of forging a framework to combat extremism within the rule of law. Every nation must know: America will live its values, and we will lead by example.


someone start up a roving big band/orchestra where each member of the band takes on the name of one of these men. The band name could be The Casio Tones. Then take the band to the White House and play as loud as possible as long as possible as close as possible to the Oval Office until that asshole remembers one of his many forgotten promises…..

But it’s long been clear that this is Obama’s understanding of “a nation of laws”: the most powerful political and financial elites who commit the most egregious crimes are to be shielded from the consequences of their lawbreaking — see his vote in favor of retroactive telecom immunity, his protection of Bush war criminals, and the way in which Wall Street executives were permitted to plunder with impunity — while the most powerless figures (such as a 23-year-old Army Private and a slew of other low-level whistleblowers) who expose the corruption and criminality of those elites are to be mercilessly punished. And, of course, our nation’s lowest persona non grata group — accused Muslim Terrorists — are simply to be encaged for life without any charges. Merciless, due-process-free punishment is for the powerless; full-scale immunity is for the powerful. “Nation of laws” indeed.

Glenn Greenwald (via azspot)

The funniest (in that, “I think i’m going to be sick” sort of way) aspects of Obama’s quotes in the video:

  • these weren’t prepared remarks, this really seems to be him speaking from the gut
  • He said “we are a nation of laws” essentially within the same breath of declaring Manning guilty although Manning has not gotten anything even remotely ressembling a trial (this is Law 101 comfortably ignored by President Self-Described Constitutional Scholar)
  • Obama keeps having more and more of these “L’Etat c’est moi” moments.