GORDON DUFF: Afghanistan: Special Forces “Death Squads” Duped Into Helping Gangsters
The following column is reprinted with permission from Gordon Duff, staff writer and Senior Editor at Veterans Today.
Afghanistan: Special Forces “Death Squads” Duped Into Helping Gangsters
© Gordon Duff
Source: Veterans Today
August 23, 2010
“Hit Squads” Meant To “Liquidate” Taliban Leaders Killing Everyone But…
Months ago, JSOC (Joint Special Operations Command) began to roll out their strategy for Afghanistan. After the total failure of the Marjeh operations, it was decided that U.S. Army Special Forces would organize a program to decapitate the Taliban, removing its infrastructure and crippling its operations. Special Forces had done the same thing twice before, once in Vietnam under Operation Phoenix, killing tens of thousands of Vietnamese civilians suspected of opposing the extremely unpopular U.S. backed government. The same program was rolled out again in Central America, with both American personnel and mercenaries again being tasked with eliminating “enemy infrastructure.” This time, the lists began with teachers, nurses and minor public officials in Nicaragua.
We know how Vietnam worked out. Even more embarrassing, the “communist dictatorship” in Nicaragua under Daniel Ortega, targeted for “de-personalization,” lost power in an honest election. American “friends” don’t usually do very well in honest elections as we have seen so often, particularly in Afghanistan.
America’s weakness is its addiction to what the British used to call “the wizard war.” “Special Ops” or “Black Ops” seem heroic, dramatic and always seem to be approved. With the bulk of America’s military budget earmarked for the Air Force, inventing new ways to compete with rival military organizations within the Department of Defense has become a game. When dozens of innocent villagers are obliterated by a “video game” stateside warrior with a joystick and “kill” button 7,000 miles away or the 500th “wrong house” in a row is stormed in the middle of the night, it is time to find less brutal ways for military politics to be played out.
Peddling “irregular warfare” baloney to the Pentagon Princes is easy. Nobody in the Pentagon either fights wars or even lives in the “real world.” All that is needed is a bit of skewed intelligence and a fast talking “used car salesman” to sell the lie. The Pentagon has hundreds of such people, maybe thousands, all mouth, all ambition and all “career.”
America has an extensive history of failures around the world. The new answer is “special operations.” The idea is always the same, make friends with locals using “American charm” and they, being the dull witted “wogs” they are, will start filling the coffers with high quality intelligence that will allow death squads to root out extremists, terrorists and what is now called “the shadow government” of Afghanistan.
As has always been the case, everywhere America has ever operated, hubris comes into play. It is no secret that moving up the ladder in the Pentagon, especially during the Bush/Cheney years was a task best performed by the spineless and mediocre. Now America is fighting its most complex conflict ever in Afghanistan, in a society whose tribal and political structure, whose inter-relationships, grudges, private agendas and history a deluded few pretend to understand but none have a real grasp of.
For years, tribal leaders have assigned minor players the task of “drinking tea” with the Americans. The picture is always the same, some poor local sitting across from a Marine with 80 pounds of gear, 300 dollar boots and a 200 dollar flashlight or with a Special Forces “old timer,” someone who watched Lawrence of Arabia one too many times.
Osama, Where Are You?
This has long been a big joke in Afghanistan. Never would any American be allowed to penetrate the veil of Afghanistan’s real culture. The American adventure in Afghanistan has seen little but the creation of the largest narcotics empire on earth and the disappearance of tens of billions in development and military aid funds into the bank accounts of a criminal culture seen as traitors and collaborators by the entire population of Afghanistan.
Thus, America’s plan for victory is to kill as many people as possible before running away. This also is a British tradition. When they were in Afghanistan over a century ago, it was called “Butcher and Bolt.” This is the action, not of a nation building a democracy but that of a colonial power frustrated by its inability to buy control through local princes as was done in India. All America could afford with hundreds of billions of dollars was Karzai, hardly a bargain and hardly a prince.
One might ask, who makes up America’s intelligence network in Afghanistan other than the collaborators “outed” on Wikileaks? What kind of person would sit with Americans and whisper names to be added to death lists, addresses of homes that Special Forces units would storm in the dark of night, murdering the inhabitants?
We are again reminded of Vietnam. “If they run, they are VC.”
The video released by Wikileaks of Iraq showing American helicopters attacking, not only armed civilians but purposefully butchering innocent bystanders was never adequately explained in the media. There was no mention that Sunni militias were in the pay of the United States, allowed to publicly carry arms and act as security personnel and that those attacked by the American helicopters were clearly, not only authorized to carry weapons but actually employed by the United States. Thousands of Sunni militia members received $300 a month from the U.S. while their leaders were paid millions.
This was America’s solution for peace in Iraq, “the Sunni awakening.” Of course, what America ended up doing was reconstituting the old Ba’athist regime as the criminal network now destabilizing Iraq while America heads for the exit.
In Afghanistan, a country where every male carries a weapon and has since the beginning of time, there will always be a weapon to be recovered, always a cover story. “He reached for his weapon and we killed him. Then his brother reached for the same weapon and we killed him too.”
This was the story U.S. Special Forces used when they murdered a student from Kabul visiting his family for Ramadan. Nobody in Afghanistan believes them and everyone wants to kill an American, any American anywhere in revenge.
This is the kind of successes America has in Afghanistan.
One might ask how America manages to consistently “get it wrong” when hunting the Taliban, why so many schools, hospitals, Mosques, funerals and wedding parties are attacked and how the Taliban manages to move thousands of fighters around the country openly in truck convoys with total impunity.
The answer is simple, when you talk to liars, you hear lies.
American special operations groups are the laughing stock of Afghanistan. They dart from one end of the country to the other, protecting drug shipments, settling personal grudges and working as enforcers for warlords, perhaps unknowingly or are we sure? With $65 billion dollars in opium/heroin revenue floating around, can anyone be trusted?
Back during the 1980s, Afghanistan had a communist government. The U.S., backed by Pakistan and the Taliban, yes, we will call them that, forced the Soviets to leave but the communist government stayed in power for years afterward. America doesn’t talk about that much.
The remnants of America’s old enemy, the communist regime in Afghanistan has been repackaged. What used to be called communist is now called “progressive” and “moderate.” Karzai, with no where else to turn, has begun to reconstitute the old communist regime in Afghanistan and America has now switched sides. Now American “hit squads” are being sent across Afghanistan, settling scores from 20 years ago, killing their old allies on behalf of their old enemies.
Think of the irony of this.
During the Cold War, America developed a love affair with dictatorship. Elected governments, be it Chile, Iran, Korea, the Congo, Panama or three dozen other nations on every continent, had to be replaced with “reliable” puppet regimes. There are rumors that this may have happened in the United States as well, more than once.
The story was always the same, first came the “accidents” and “suicides.” Newspaper editors, labor leaders disappeared first, followed by religious leaders, priests and nuns that stood by the people. In truth, this started long before the Cold War. In 1933, Marine General Smedley Butler stated the following:
War is just a racket. A racket is best described, I believe, as something that is not what it seems to the majority of people. Only a small inside group knows what it is about. It is conducted for the benefit of the very few at the expense of the masses.
I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we’ll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.
I wouldn’t go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket.
There isn’t a trick in the racketeering bag that the military gang is blind to. It has its “finger men” to point out enemies, its “muscle men” to destroy enemies, its “brain men” to plan war preparations, and a “Big Boss” Super-Nationalistic-Capitalism.
It may seem odd for me, a military man to adopt such a comparison. Truthfulness compels me to. I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service as a member of this country’s most agile military force, the Marine Corps. I served in all commissioned ranks from Second Lieutenant to Major-General. And during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.
I suspected I was just part of a racket at the time. Now I am sure of it. Like all the members of the military profession, I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical with everyone in the military service.
I helped make Mexico, especially Tampico, safe for American oil interests in 1914. I helped make Haiti and Cuba a decent place for the National City Bank boys to collect revenues in. I helped in the raping of half a dozen Central American republics for the benefits of Wall Street. The record of racketeering is long. I helped purify Nicaragua for the international banking house of Brown Brothers in 1909-1912 (where have I heard that name before?). I brought light to the Dominican Republic for American sugar interests in 1916. In China I helped to see to it that Standard Oil went its way unmolested.
During those years, I had, as the boys in the back room would say, a swell racket. Looking back on it, I feel that I could have given Al Capone a few hints. The best he could do was to operate his racket in three districts. I operated on three continents.
As Butler tells us, “I never had a thought of my own until I left the service. My mental faculties remained in suspended animation while I obeyed the orders of higher-ups. This is typical of everyone in the military service.”
From the top down, the military “geniuses” that are running the show in Afghanistan, lapdogs for equally inept Pentagon hacks who are little more than hand puppets for a government long divorced of any sign of reflecting American values, can only, at best, claim ignorance as an excuse. Unlike Butler’s day, however, with the “revolving door” allowing our military to join corrupt defense and intelligence contractors, part of the new privatization of war, to a large extent, government is out of the equation. Private companies supply intelligence and can now, if they wish and they do wish, start and sustain wars at will.
Smedley Butler would never have dreamed this possible.
Move the clock forward to 2010. American “death squads,” some military, some private contractors, are rampaging around Afghanistan and now Pakistan as well. With no national interest involved in the conflict, a war fought only for career, promotions and corporate profits, “mistakes,” also known as “collateral damage” makes for “good business.”
America has to be careful. If they killed enough of the right people, the war might end. However there seems little danger of that.
Gordon Duff is a U.S. Marine Vietnam veteran, grunt and 100% disabled vet. He has been a U.N. Diplomat, defense contractor and is a widely published expert on military and defense issues. He is active in the financial industry and is a specialist on global trade. Gordon Duff acts as political and economic advisor to a number of governments in Africa and the Middle East. He is Senior Editor at Veterans Today.