Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Pennywise the Political Assassin Missing Trump, Hitting Africom, Disserving Black Americans?

Politico |  Wilson, calling Trump a “jerk” and a “liar,” said in an interview in Miami Thursday that she believed the ambush that led to four deaths two weeks ago resembled the 2012 attack on the diplomatic mission in Benghazi, Libya, that also left four dead, including a U.S. ambassador. The attack led to criticism of former President Barack Obama and then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton by conservatives who said the facility was unprepared for such an incident and also took issue with their handling of the aftermath.

“The circumstances are similar,” Wilson said. She said in Niger, the four soldiers providing counterterrorism training “didn’t have appropriate weapons where they were. They were told by intelligence there was no threat. They had trucks that were not armored trucks. They were particularly not protected. Just like in Benghazi, they were given the impression that everything was fine.”

U.S. Rep. Matt Gaetz, a Florida Republican who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, disputed the comparison. 

“In Benghazi, you had U.S. fighter jets sitting in Crete that could have been there very quickly. Here, we did not have U.S. capabilities that we were freezing in place,” Gaetz said. “It is not like that in Central Africa.” 

In Niger, Gaetz said, U.S. special forces were trying to keep a light footprint so as not to draw attention as they equipped and trained local forces to combat terrorists chased out of North Africa. As a result, he said, the soldiers were exposed because of the dangerous nature of the mission.

“When you’ve got Americans in a zone where there’s really little command and control, it’s a highly volatile environment,” Gaetz said. “It is not atypical to begin these types of operations by having our high-intensity special operators — the Green Berets, the Navy Seals, the air commandos — and then over time increase our capabilities. In Central Africa, it is important that we maintain low visibility in some cases. And having a massive extraction force in the region doesn’t always facilitate low visibility.”

Counterpunch |  The ball is in the Trump court. What were those four men doing in Niger? Is our military presence making things better or worse there? Did US leadership make a bad decision that had unforeseen consequences? Are they relying on secrecy to cover up an embarrassment? And the big question: Is the United States mobilizing its military in Africa? Are we embarking on a huge new foreign adventure? On a large, historic canvas, one can look at the Vietnam and Iraq Wars in this light, as the growth of imperial militarism with expanding commitments of young men and women in uniform. Which brings us back to General Kelly’s schizophrenic press conference: On one hand, there’s his moving call for recognizing the sacrifice of our soldiers and their families. Then, there’s his shameful political attack on a congresswoman who he did not realize had real skin in the game — skin that happened to be darker than his white, privileged Boston skin. The general wonders why the honor and glue of America isn’t what it used to be in the glory days of World War Two, which was a defensive war. Those “values” no longer prevail; something else is going on. General Kelly needs to realize, when he becomes an attack dog for someone like Donald Trump, he’s not on a foreign battlefield — he’s in the trenches of Washington DC, which a recent article in the conservative National Review compared to the climate in the HBO hit Game of Thrones.

Washington politics is uglier than it has been in a long time. Secrecy, dishonesty and corruption are epidemic. As long as our military is rooted in such amoral soil, the respect and sacredness for our  soldiers that General Kelly seeks will remain far out of reach.