Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
July 18, 2011

Hunting "High Value Targets" - Two Can Play The Game

[W]e are going after them across the spectrum. We have more of our special, special operations forces going in on the ground, and you've seen the results, you've heard some of the initial results of that with more Afghan shadow governors, the Taliban shadow governors being captured, more of the high value targets being taken down.
'Meet the Press' transcript for February 21, 2010 - David Petraeus

Indeed. Though not as Petraeus announced:

This should lead to some rethinking of Petraeus backfiring "kill the leaders" campaign. The Taliban would probably agree to a ceasefire with regards to "high value targets". Unfortunately it is unlikely that the military will give up on this.

Posted by b on July 18, 2011 at 12:13 AM | Permalink


Doesn't "re-thinking" imply that some thinking was done in the first place? [/snark]

I know, it's fashionable to think our elected "leaders" are idiots, as indeed, many of them are. But they follow the orders of very clever people, who are not idiots. The self-fulfilling prophecy of modern counter-insurgency doctrine is neither undesired, unanticipated, nor unintentional. It is, in fact, the entire point of the doctrine: to generate a meaningful opposition that at once retrospectively "justifies" the brutally callous murders that the doctrine inherently entails, and that leads ineluctably to the escalation of murderous brutality on both sides, promoting the worst and most excessively brutal people and behaviours into the forefront of policy decision making.

There are really only two reasons why this is done: either (A) because the people making these decisions do not care that this destroys all that makes a civil society worthy of the name, or (B) this [destruction of civil society] is what they intend.

I am not sure which prospect is the most disturbing.

For those who are inclined to argue that these are "mistakes" that are meant honestly, or unfortunate side-effects of well-intended decisions, I can only say that I wish I were yet that naive.

And I remember what she said to me
How she swore that it never would end
I remember how she held me oh so tight
Wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then

-Bob Seger and the Silver Bullet Band, "Against the Wind"

Posted by: ScuzzaMan | Jul 18, 2011 3:51:08 AM | 1

Very nice comment, ScuzzaMan!

Posted by: Jake | Jul 18, 2011 9:43:35 AM | 2

This is a frightening interview. It confirms that Petraeus is a full-blown psychopath. Unfortunately, he's in good company at Meet The Press as David Gregory's opening remarks clearly illustrate:
"facing down the threats to America across the globe"

"And Iran, it continues to defy the West and may be closer to producing a nuclear warhead. Can anything be done to stop it?"
Anyone who thinks the mainstream media isn't complicit in the fakery is kidding him/herself.

There's a variety of possible explanations for the aimless futility of the War on Terror but the one which best reflects its course and conduct goes something like this:

"The GWOT provides a political excuse to send US troops to inadequately defended countries to kill people who don't want them there and to wage incompetent, self-protective and costly fake wars to enrich the shareholders of the Military-Industrial Complex."

"Winning" and "losing," and tens of thousands of young Americans prematurely crippled, don't matter so long as the dividend cheques keep rolling in and the US death toll remains within acceptable limits.

Petraeus' unprofessional PR frothings are littered with logical fallacies and baseless assumptions. The Two Can Play observation is a direct result of confusing the PR war with the realities of military conflict. It makes no sense to publicise a good tactical plan - if it's any good the results will speak for themselves. The fact that the High Command publicises its tactical plans in advance is pretty good evidence that either
(a) they had no faith in the plan
(b) they wanted it to fail.

Since continuation of the conflict (and the profits) is the only acceptable outcome for the M-I Complex it's fairly obvious that the people in charge are prepared to resort to sabotage in order to make their dreams of Constant Conflict come true.

Posted by: Hoarsewhisperer | Jul 18, 2011 1:36:48 PM | 3

1 You are right that the war is being staged and for the pursuit of material wealth and not for the destruction of civil society either deliberate or inconsequentially. The questions begs asking, has there every really been a civil society? The English talk of it all the while they were committing horrific barbarism in other lands. Civil society, wherever it claims to exist has been a facade with brutalism to others behind the facade. Today many of us pick on Israel and its brutality towards the Palestinian, while the Israeli's and their supporters claim to be the only true democracy in the Middle East and a bastion of civilization there. But is there claim any more preposterous than that of the old colonial powers? USA in the past century has supported almost every brutal regime in Central and South America; treating those countries just like its own colonies. Israel is doing what everyone else is doing.

That is to say our 'very clever' people are also quite honest in their pursuit of material wealth. Ask them about civil society and they would most likely say 'What civil society?'

Posted by: Khalid | Jul 18, 2011 1:52:42 PM | 4

Khalid, not that you dont have a valid point, but if you want to pretend that these actions are not making things worse then I wont be joining you.

I would contend that "civil society" is never an achievement but rather a vector; we're either moving towards the civilised end of the spectrum or towards the barbaric end. There is no place a society (or an individual) can stop and rest. We see every day the results of people thinking that they are already civilised and no longer need to make any effort to improve ... and that other people are less civilised, and therefore less worthy of consideration.

Isn't that, after all, what this thread is about?

Posted by: ScuzzaMan | Jul 19, 2011 5:32:35 AM | 5

I do agree with your point but the analysis is about those causing havoc. And while we keep struggling for the ideal of a civilized society it keeps slipping through our fingers.

This becomes a philosophical dialogue. It is really tough to get moral when we are enjoying the fruits of all this tyranny unless you are one of the handful off the grid (but that would include no internet). The civilized west is built on the misery of billions. Our need for consumption is insatiable. And now, to make things worse, these ideas have been exported. So there are civilized cities in most countries and the slums and the rural area continues to get deeply deprived. If civilization is our goal we are really going about it a very wrong way.

And I would say that most ordinary people of easily 'bribed' with the opportunity to participating in this gorging. I never could understand how so many Americans were able to buy the line 'They hate our freedome'. What a croc. But people bought it because it justified our actions which kept the 'resources'. Sorry this is a bit rambling but the best I can do. It was all well for Bernard Shaw and the Fabian society to talk of such things but it did not change one iota how the british empire acted. And the same has been true of the American Empire and its wars.

Posted by: Khalid | Jul 19, 2011 5:41:53 PM | 6

When talk of high-value targets and the legalizing of extra-judicial assassination and the acceptance of such takes hold, what you basically have is a Mafia-type Mob scene where different parties kill key people to decapitate the top of the hierarchy, or kill lowly members as ‘warnings’, or kill the uninvolved to force them to take sides, or just to get them to submit and shut up and obey whomever is the Capo at that moment. Instill fear in everyone.

The method favors those who have arms, resources, money, power in informal, unregulated, frameworks, as well as those who hold the keys of International interaction (in this case.)

The US strategy seems to be to turn as many parts of the world as possible into BadLands, destroy states, the rule of law, social cohesion, agriculture, and so on.

khalid wrote: You are right that the war is being staged and for the pursuit of material wealth and not for the destruction of civil society either deliberate or inconsequentially. at 4 - more follows that is just a snippet.

Implies the result is immaterial, unconsidered, not part of the calculation, and thus unintended.

The desire to rake in wealth and the ability to do so is accompanied with the need to recycle to obtain more power, and to continue the same action patterns or schemas to eventually dominate more viciously and effectively, more widely, for longer times, with greater profit, etc.

Mafia-type organized actions are skim-offs. Some functioning group - city block, ethnic community, village, city, district, industry, country - generates a surplus that can be paid off to the parasites, the blackmailers, the gun men, the bombers, the political powers, the murderers. When the parasite kills the host(s), all breaks down.

So some blindness, stupidity, lack of future planning, etc. is evident. However, the proximal, immediate results, such as the destruction of agriculture or a functioning court system (aka ‘civil society’ in a broad sense, as it must include economic circuits) are not only predicted but desired, but there is much leeway is the interpretation of motive and its deliberate implementation.

Posted by: Noirette | Jul 20, 2011 9:25:37 AM | 7

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