War, fifth columns, and what won’t be asked on 60 Minutes

As the week ended there seemed to me three things that merited attention, none of which boded well for the United States.

1.) Gee, does war really require killing?: The CIA Director this week said he believed the increased pace of drone attacks into the Waziristan area along the Pakistan-Afghanistan border had put the al-Qaeda organization there “on the run.” He was careful to note he was not saying the organization as a whole was on the run, although that interpretation was given his remarks by much of the media. The Director’s careful remarks, I think, raise an interesting issue. If al-Qaeda is on the run in Waziristan — which is good news — it is because we are applying lethal force diligently and killing more of the enemy. As always, the steady application of military power is an effective means of collecting intelligence that will afford more chances to kill the enemy. This is a callous statement, no doubt, but a true one; people being shot at make mistakes in communications, movements, etc. that assist those who are hunting them to be more effective. In short, the more you kill, the more opportunities you will have to kill.

All of this is commonplace and common sense, but it stands in marked contrast to the U.S. military’s operations in Afghanistan which are based on winning the hearts and minds of the Afghans and killing as few of the enemy as possible. We have heard no news that the Taliban is on the run; indeed, this week our commander in Afghanistan detached 3,000 troops from his force in the country’s south and moved them to the heretofore quiet northern provinces where the Taliban’s insurgency is growing in intensity. This suggests that the campaign to win hearts and minds is going to be a a long, uphill slog, and perhaps ultimately a futile one. If Afghanistan’s history proves anything beyond doubt it is that for Afghans’ “familiarity breeds contempt” when it comes to a foreign occupier.

Perhaps it would be better to have the CIA and the U.S. military operating off the same page. [NB: I must say it is a bit disorienting to find a few dozen CIA officers are at this moment more successful and lethal in killing America’s foes than the entire U.S.-NATO field army.] Maybe both should focus on killing as many of the enemy and its supporters as possible in the shortest possible time and then come home and let the survivors brood over their losses and reflect on the cost of attacking America in North America.

2.) Has there ever been a better Fifth Column?: The Israeli government’s deliberate public humiliation of Vice President Biden — and through him the United States — is playing out in a predictable manner in much of the U.S. media. This week saw the Washington Post, Commentary, the Wall St. Journal, and many other media outlets condemn the Obama administration for making the poor, innocent Israelis’ “blunder” into a “a crisis with America’s best ally.” If any American doubted the pervasiveness of the Israel-First Fifth Column in this country, and its willingness to damage America to any degree necessary to protect Israel, that doubt ought now to be erased. Israel’s treatment of Biden — and Obama’s abject acceptance of it — will very literally ensure that more U.S. soldiers and Marines are killed because it proves to Muslims the Islamists’ claim that Israel owns the U.S. governing elite, which, in turn, will harden the Islamists’ resolve to fight on and prompt both more volunteers and funding for them. Each new settlement house in Jerusalem and each new acre of Palestinian land occupied drives another nail into the coffin of a U.S. serviceman or servicewoman, and increases the likelihood of home-grown terrorism in the United States. While I maintain it is none of Washington’s business to tell Israel what it can and cannot do in terms of settlements and territorial aggrandizement, I do believe that it is time to cut ties with Israel, let it pursue its national defense as it sees fit, and make it clear to the rest of the world that the United States has no hand in Israel’s religious war with Islam, nor in Islam’s religious war with Israel.

3.) Questions that will not be asked on Sunday’s 60 Minutes: There is much ballyhooing going on promoting 60 Minutes’ interview this weekend with Rahm Emanuel, Obama’s chief of staff. Here are a few questions that should but will not be posed to Mr. Emmanuel:

a.) Why during the 1990-1991 Gulf War did you leave the United States and serve with the Israeli military?

b.) Do you carry an Israeli passport? If so, why do you think a person like yourself — with an obvious allegiance to a foreign power — should you be trusted to have access to the most sensitive U.S. intelligence data?

c.) Given your reputation for being the most knowledgeable Democratic Party insider, can you tell us how many Democratic congressman, senators, White House staff, and senior party officials and contributors carry Israeli passports? Can you give us an estimate of how many Israeli passports are help by Republican senators and congressmen?

Author: Michael F. Scheuer

Michael F. Scheuer worked at the CIA as an intelligence officer for 22 years. He was the first chief of its Osama bin Laden unit, and helped create its rendition program, which he ran for 40 months. He is an American blogger, historian, foreign policy critic, and political analyst.