Monday, September 10, 2007
General Petraeus speaks. posted by Richard SeymourGeneral Petraeus is, of course, the man who brought you the Special Police Commandos, Iraq's number one death squad service. He is also a typical creature of the American elite. Highly competitive, very capable, very ruthless, and apt at dissimulation. However, it seems he had an outbreak of inexcusable honesty in the run up to his presentation at Capitol Hill today, and composed a script that - due to its sensitive nature - he was obliged to ditch at the last moment. Happily, the Tomb is an international leaking post (so to speak) and I have the pleasure of presenting you with his original speech, with annotations in square brackets:
Well, good day. It's a pleasure to see so many familiar faces here today. [The military leadership cultivates excellent relationships with media and politicans] My purpose at this time is to provide a short update on the situation in Iraq, including a brief description of the operational environment, the challenges Iraq faces, and the status of our operations, and then to take your questions and ram them gently up your Potomac. [The Potomac is a long brown channel.] The operational environment in Iraq is the most complex and challenging I have ever seen - much more so then when I took charge. In one sense, things have never been more difficult: Iraqis continue to attack our troops in ever increasing numbers; they are developing more sophisticated weaponry; our political allies in Iraq are acting far too independently for our liking; much of the world says mean things about us; our fellow countrymen say mean things about us; the newspapers say mean things about us; the war is becoming enormously costly. On the other hand: our casualties, though media-sensitive, are comparatively trivial, and militarily insignificant except in certain sensitive geographical areas; their sophisticated weaponry looks like an archery club compared with our colossal means of violence; we can always substitute current political allies for new ones, and we have ample funds and forms of intimidation to make them comply; mean things being said is the least of our worries until it impacts on the political leadership that directs us in battle - if Iraqis planting IEDs and lobbing rockets at us doesn't deter us, why on earth would we care about criticism?; and the war is only meaningfully costly for us if the total sums of money required are unfeasible - our past experience of empire-building suggests that success pays for itself several times over, while failure is difficult to overcome.
Gentlemen, and those few ladies present, in this circumstance it makes no sense to speak of retreat. I am a military leader, rather than a politician. I am not General Wonderful MacArthur, and I am not grandstanding for public consumption. As I see it, neither our domestic enemies nor our foreign enemies has sufficient clout to obligate us to change course. It is true that American intolerance of combat deaths and outright genocidal violence against our enemies means we can't launch the kinds of attacks that would enable to us to exert meaningful, lasting control over significant portions of Iraq. Nevertheless, we have access to elaborate and sophisticated means by which to induce greater tolerance of combat deaths especially Iraqi combat deaths, since our [racist] assumption is that people are naturally more empathetic to their own kind. We have the means to moralise each mode of destruction that we choose at our disposal, and we are working to find new ways to make it effective. It is true that enemies whose loyalty we purchase can as easily be purchased by others, but it cuts in both directions: any friends we sell can be repurchased.
Unless significant global constituencies, namely Americans, take decisive action to raise the social cost of what we do [strikes, sit-down protests, occupations], thereby causing our political leadership the kind of difficulty that will cause them to restrain our actions [tie one hand behind their backs, in other words], we have nothing to fear from an audacious and wide-ranging, multilayered campaign of violence. The truth is that our domestic enemies are weak, disunited, and lack resolve. They are, at present, no contest. We are not colonialists. Colonialists are set in determinate relations and inevitably accrue responsibilities that cause them to lose dynamism and control. We are engaged an open-ended, simultaneous, and indeterminate operations to obtain political control over strategically significant regions, and to maintain them. The advantage of this is that each 'intervention', as we choose to call it, is disburdened of history. Each military and diplomatic transaction can be discussed as if it is unique, a response to an emergency that we have not helped to create, and therefore we bear no long-term responsibility for its outcomes, and no broad conclusions will be drawn about our actions [unless they confirm the master-narrative of humanitarian intervention and crisis resolution].
Therefore, I request that we make a graduated and slight reduction of troop commitments over the next year to give some of the troops a rest and placate domestic enemies. In the meantime, we will advise our Iraqi allies to hire replacement security consultants from our best mercenary firms, to remove any possible risk - although if truth be known, the mercenaries are capable of engaging in much more direct action than we can manage on account of their insulation from democratic and adversarial review [they can kill Arabs without being called on it]. In short, we have little to lose from managing this conflict exactly as our political leaders direct us, and they remain sufficiently empowered by general acquiescence in their goals that they are not about to restrain us. May I add, in conclusion, before I direct your questions upstream, that I am proud to be an American, and honoured to serve our nation. I hope you all feel the same way. Thanks. Great to see you all again. [Fuck off].