July 7, 2010 by Ted Rall
Democrats, Republicans Equally Dumb
As I pack for my return trip to Afghanistan next month, many people are asking me: Why are we losing? What should we do there?
The short answer is simple: Afghan resistance forces live there. We don’t. Sooner or later, U.S. troops will depart. All the Afghan resistance has to do is wear us down and wait us out. As I have pointed out before, no nation has successfully invaded and occupied any other nation since the 19th century. All occupations ultimately fail.
For those who prefer their punditry longwinded, here’s a longer answer.
Even taking historical precedent into account, America’s post-9/11 occupation of Afghanistan—its longest war ever—has been notably disastrous. Wonder why? Everything you need to know was contained in this week’s war of words between the chairmen of the two major political parties.
The Afghan War kerfuffle that revealed the boundless stupidity of our national political leadership began on July 1st. Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele told GOP donors in Connecticut that the war in Afghanistan could not be won and should never have been fought: “If [Obama is] such a student of history, has he not understood that, you know, that’s the one thing you don’t do is engage in a land war in Afghanistan? All right? Because everyone who’s tried, over a thousand years of history, has failed,” Steele said.
Steele’s main point is beyond dispute. There’s a reason Afghanistan is known as “the graveyard of empires,” as opposed to as, say, the “number one producer of tasty, nutritious pomegranates.”
Steele’s all too typical ahistoricity is in the details. Which he gets wrong.
Would-be conquerors have had trouble with Afghanistan not for over 1,000 years, but for 2,000 years. Alexander the Great sent supplies through the Khyber Pass in 327 BCE in an attempt to subjugate the Konar Valley. Characteristically, the locals waged a ferocious resistance. The Macedonian conqueror, nearly killed by an Afghan arrow, beat a retreat to the Indus River and withdrew.
But it’s Steele’s “land war” qualifier that really gets me. According to the GOP chairman, the British Army might have spared itself total annihilation in 1842 if it had conducted an air war instead. Using what—hot air balloons?
Then things got really weird.
“This was a war of Obama’s choosing,” Steele said.
True, Obama made the Afghan war his own by sending in more troops. But Bush started this mess. Doesn’t Steele remember that? Or—this thought is even more frightening—does he really think WE forgot?
“This is not something the United States has actively prosecuted or wanted to engage in,” he continued. This surely comes as welcome news to the tens of thousands of Afghans killed by tens of thousands of American bombs. Chin up. Imagine how many more would have died if the U.S. had “actively prosecuted” this fiasco!
Not to be outdone in the moronitude department,
Democratic National Committee spokesman Brad Woodhouse retorted that “we are there because we were attacked by terrorists on 9-11.”
Um…We were attacked by Saudis and Egyptians. Who were trained and funded by Pakistanis. None of the major figures linked to 9/11—including Osama bin Laden—were in Afghanistan on 9/11. (Bin Laden was in a Pakistani military hospital in Islamabad.) By 9/11, both Al Qaeda training camps in Afghanistan had been closed. Al Qaeda’s operations were based entirely in Pakistan.
Afghanistan had nothing to do with 9/11.
None of the Afghans I interviewed in November and December of 2001 had even heard of 9/11. None had heard of Al Qaeda. Other journalists reported the same thing.
As far as I can tell, we attacked Afghanistan for fun. To disrupt Iran and India. To test weapons that would be used against Iraq. To test the resolve of the American antiwar movement. And to build an oil and gas pipeline between Central and South Asia.
Not because of 9/11.
Woodhouse continued: “It’s simply unconscionable that Michael Steele would undermine the morale of our troops when what they need is our support and encouragement. Michael Steele would do well to remember that we are not in Afghanistan by our own choosing, that we were attacked and that his words have consequences.”
Dubya—is that you?
Can we even tell which party is which anymore?
No wonder we’re losing. The parties have forgotten what they stand for—and they never learned the history of the countries they invade.
(Ted Rall’s “The Anti-American Manifesto” will be published in September. He will return to Afghanistan in August.)
COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL
July 6, 2010 by Eric Hobbs
It’s been three long years since I commissioned Francesco Francavilla to illustrate a cover for THE BROADCAST. Three years!! That’s a long time, especially in comics. They’ve two Harry Potter movies in that time, I think.
I’m sure Francesco reached a point where he assumed it wasn’t going to come out. Part of me thinks he probably forgot about it all together. Anyway, I was ecstatic to send him an e-mail a while back to let him know we finally had a publisher and the gorgeous piece he did was going to see print.
To celebrate the book’s debut next month, Francesco did a new piece over on his Pulp Sunday blog that features Orson Welles. I’ve already requested a print. I’ve pasted it below, but I highly suggest everyone take a look at his blog. He is incredibly talented and is a future star in comics. We’re going to work together someday… he just doesn’t know it yet.
July 6, 2010 by NBM
“Simply put, Boneyard is a masterful piece of comic book storytelling that has to be seen to be appreciated! ”
July 2, 2010 by NBM
Our 20% off sale comes to its grand finale on this summer celebration weekend, the 5th being the last day!
Order $25 (at full retail value) or more of our books and magazines and the cart will give you 20% off!
This has proven quite popular, if you haven’t taken advantage of this yet, you’ve got a few more days left. All books from Dungeon to Boneyard to Rick Geary, Ted Rall and Eurotica. Also including books to come you that you can pre-order (see Coming Up)!
Spread the word!
And, in advance, our thanks to you for helping us continue to bring you some pretty good stuff…
July 2, 2010 by NBM
Coming this September from NBM and being solicited at your comics store now:
Vol. 3: Heartbreaker
Joann Sfar, Lewis Trondheim, Carlos Nine, Patrice Killoffer
In the first title story, the supremely talented (especially with women) and outrageous Carlos Nine gives us the complete low-down on the sexy and dangerous killer Alexandra that the young Dungeon-keeper fell for so heavily. In the second, Killoffer (“676 Apparitions of Killoffer”) also focuses on a spicy girl, daughter of a prominent character.
6 x 9, 96pp. full color trade pb.: $12.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-591-7
see the preview pages
We have online and in our Fall catalog a special where you can buy all 3 volumes of the Dungeon Monstres sub-series for only $29.99, a 20% discount!
NEW from Eurotica:
The next in this best-selling series!
BARBARIAN CHICKS & DEMONS, Vol. 3
In medieval times, powerful warrior chicks getting their way shamelessly with warlords to powerful demons themselves! Beautiful fully painted artwork.
81/2x11, 48pp., full color trade pb., $11.99, ISBN 978-1-56163-596-2
See more info on this with cover and art in Eurotica, click on the Coming Up September banner on the left.
Also, our sister company PAPERCUTZ has these coming out in September:
NANCY DREW in an all-new series of more complex and darker stories!
By Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney
Sho Murase, artist
Nancy Drew in an all-new harder edged series and new format! Vampire-mania has gripped River Heights, with teenage girls going wild over the new “DieLite” novels and movies. But what happens when a supposedly “real” handsome young vampire arrives on the scene? Will Nancy expose him as a fraud – or fall under his dark spell? As if that wasn’t enough– there’s something dark and sinister happening while everyone’s distracted by the vampire madness. Could this possibly be linked to what’s happening in Bayport, home of the Hardy Boys?
TALES FROM THE CRYPT #9 “Wickeder”
By Stefan Petrucha, David Gerrold, Jim Salicrup
Rick Parker, Mr. Exes, artists
Tales from the Crypt is bigger and “WICKEDER” than ever! After the surprise-success of Tales from the Crypt #8 “Diary of a Stinky Dead Kid,” CRYPT is back and offering an all-new parody of the best-selling “Wicked” book. Plus, the Stinky Dead Kid himself is back in a new story, and Star Trek fan-favorite writer David Gerrold contributes “Sales of a Death Man.”
6×9, 64pp., full color paperback: $6.99 ISBN: 978-1-59707-215-1; also in collector’s hardcover at $10.99 ISBN 978-1-59707-216-8
Not in Previews but also available in September:
NANCY DREW #17-21 Boxed Set
By Stefan Petrucha and Sarah Kinney
Sho Murase, artist
Collecting FIVE Nancy Drew graphic novels with close to 500 pages of full-color comics! This Nancy Drew set has the two part stories “The Secret Within,” where Nancy travels to India, and “High School Musical Mystery” where Nancy Drew teams up with the Dana Girls! A great collection for any Nancy Drew fan.
5×7 1/2, 5 volumes in a box, 484 pp, full color: $39.99
July 1, 2010 by Eric Hobbs
There’s an old saying that every writer has a million bad words in them, and that the only way you can become a decent writer is to get through those first million words as fast as you possibly can.
Now, I can’t say for sure if I’ve written a million words. I think the chances are pretty high. I’ve written an awful lot. But while I can’t tell you for certain how many words I’ve put on the page, I can tell you there was a moment when writing THE BROADCAST when I felt as if the last bad word had escaped and I was finally writing something readers would find special.
Most my stuff sees huge changes as I re-write, but this scene is almost word-for-word exactly as I wrote it the first time out. I’ve written better stuff since. Heck, it probably isn’t even the best scene in THE BROADCAST. But this scene holds a special place in my heart. It was the first time I ever sat down, read my work and believed I actually had a chance to sell the damned thing. :o)
July 1, 2010 by Ted Rall
June 29, 2010 by Ted Rall
Why the U.S. Can’t Talk to the Taliban
Like all Afghans, Hamid Karzai knows history. Which is why he’s talking to the neo-Taliban. The postmodern heirs to the Islamist government Bush deposed in 2001, the generation of madrassah graduates who replaced the mujahadeen vets of the anti-Soviet jihad are gaining strength. Obama, preparing for his 2012 reelection campaign by distancing himself from an unpopular war, plans to start pulling out U.S. troops next year.
Men like Karzai, puppets of foreign occupiers, rarely die peaceful deaths in Afghanistan. Mohammad Najibullah, the former Soviet-appointed head of the secret police who became president under the occupation, was extracted from a U.N. compound where he had taken refuge when Kabul fell in 1996. The Taliban dragged him from the back of a jeep, disemboweled him, cut off his penis and forced him to eat it before hanging him from a lamppost.
Cutting a power-sharing deal with the Taliban may not be possible. But Karzai has to try.
But his American overseers are against dialogue. “With regards to reconciliation,” CIA director Leon Panetta told ABC’s “This Week,” “unless [the neo-Taliban is] convinced that the United States is going to win and that they’re going to be defeated, I think it’s very difficult to proceed with a reconciliation that’s going to be meaningful.”
We Americans have heard this line of policy so often that we don’t think to question it. Never negotiate from a position of weakness. First thrash your adversary. Negotiate afterward.
Insisting upon “peace with honor,” Nixon took Kissinger’s advice to bomb the hell out of North Vietnam before the Paris peace talks. There’s a certain logic to this approach, but no common sense. Three years later, the U.S. lost the same as if it had never dropped a single bomb.
John McCain echoed Nixon at a Senate hearing this week: “If the president would say that success in Afghanistan is our only withdrawal plan—whether we reach it before July 2011, or afterward—he would make the war more winnable and hasten the day when our troops can come home with honor, which is what we all want.”
Win. Then withdraw.
The best time to talk to your opponent—assuming that he’s willing to take your calls—is when you’re losing. Any concession you gain will be more than you’ll otherwise end up with.
If you’re going to win a war, on the other hand, why talk? When the U.S. is winning, it refuses to negotiate. Certain of victory, it insisted upon the unconditional surrender of Japan and Germany in 1945.
Panetta’s statement provides two insights to those who seek to understand U.S. foreign policy.
On a basic level, it parrots Kissinger: The U.S. knows that it will lose in Afghanistan. Withdrawal is inevitable; indeed, it has been announced. America’s next step is a massively violent final offensive—in order to prove to the neo-Taliban that it could win if it really wanted to. So they’d better cut us some slack: oil, gas and mineral concessions, etc. Of course, this reflects a radical misreading of the neo-Taliban as well as of human nature. They understand the simple truth: they live there, and we don’t. Time is on their side. The oppressor’s greatest weakness is his inability to see things from a different point of view.
Moreover, bomb-first-then-talk is a (partly delusional) lie. If by some miracle the upcoming anti-Afghan offensive were to work, the U.S. would never open talks with the neo-Taliban. Whenever the U.S. thinks it holds the upper hand—Cuba since 1962, Iran since 1980, Iraq before the 2003 invasion—it refuses to engage. Only when something tips the balance in favor of a U.S. adversary—North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons, for example—is it willing to chat.
More broadly and interestingly, the Panetta Doctrine helps us resolve the big mystery of U.S. actions abroad after 1945.
The United States hasn’t won a war since World War II. More curiously, it doesn’t seem to want to. When the U.S. invades, it often fails to occupy, much less annex. When it occupies, it does so with fewer soldiers than necessary to control its newly acquired territory. (Note that General Colin Powell, a rare proponent among the military elite of “flooding the zone” with hundreds of thousands of troops to ensure total domination of occupied countries, was quickly replaced as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff. His “Powell Doctrine,” though romanticized by some members of the press, is now forgotten.)
The U.S. has been described as an “empire without empire.” It’s clearer to call it the Great Disrupter. It’s fairly safe to conclude that U.S.’s primary foreign policy objective is to disrupt potentially emerging regional rivals. Iran, for example, is the nation that should logically dominate the Middle East politically and economically. It possesses immense wealth, enviable geography, 5,000 years of civilization, modern infrastructure, and a big, highly educated workforce. The U.S. uses sanctions to prevent Iran’s rise to regional superpower.
You didn’t really think we were still holding a grudge over the hostages, did you?
From a geopolitical standpoint, U.S. policymakers are far more concerned about India’s potential role as the leader of South Asia than the threat that North Korea will nuke Seattle. Which is why the Bush Administration sent billions of dollars in military hardware and cash subsidies to the violently anti-Indian government of General Pervez Musharraf after 9/11. Now Musharraf is out and the current Pakistani government has reduced its pressure on India via, for example, its support for Muslim fighters in Kashmir. So Obama continues to finance Pakistan—but not as much.
Naturally, we can’t talk to the neo-Taliban. (Nor can we let Karzai do so.) An Afghanistan that resumes its 1996-to-2001 role as the global capital of Islamist government and Sharia law could represent a new kind of influence—simultaneously religious, political and military—that the U.S. fears as much as Iran, India, or any other country big enough to suck away American market share.
(Ted Rall’s “The Anti-American Manifesto” will be published in September. He will return to Afghanistan in August.)
COPYRIGHT 2010 TED RALL
June 24, 2010 by Brooke Allen
Oh and P.S. there will be Pins and other goodies up for grabs too:
HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE!!!
THREE CHEERS FOR COMICS!
xox- Brooke Allen!
June 24, 2010 by Ted Rall
In 1967 animal researchers conducted an interesting experiment. Two sets of dogs were strapped into harnesses and subjected to a series of shocks. The dogs were placed in the same room.
The first set of dogs was allowed to perform a task—pushing a panel with their snouts—in order to avoid the shocks. As soon as one dog mastered the shock-avoidance technique, his comrades followed suit.
The second group, on the other hand, was placed out of reach from the panel. They couldn’t stop the pain. But they watched the actions of the first set.
Then both groups of dogs were subjected to a second experiment. If they jumped over a barrier, the dogs quickly learned, the shocks would stop. The dogs belonging to the first set all did it.
But the second-set dogs were too psychologically scarred to help themselves. “When shocked, many of them ran around in great distress but then lay on the floor and whimpered,” wrote Russell A. Powell, Diane G. Symbaluk and P. Lynne Honey in Introduction to Learning and Behavior. “They made no effort to escape the shock. Even stranger, the few dogs that did by chance jump over the barrier, successfully escaping the shock, seemed unable to learn from this experience and failed to repeat it on the next trial. In summary, the prior exposure to inescapable shock seemed to impair the dogs’ ability to learn to escape shock when escape became possible.”
The decrease in learning ability caused by unavoidable punishment leads to a condition called “learned helplessness.”
Which brings us to the midterm elections.
Battered and bruised, with no apparent way out, the American electorate has plunged into a political state of learned helplessness. They’ve voted Democratic to punish rapacious Republicans. They’ve voted Republican to get rid of do-nothing Democrats. They’ve tried staying home on Election Day. Nothing they do helps their condition. They’re flailing.
The great mass of Americans works longer hours for less pay. Until, inevitably, they get “laid off.” Is there a working- or middle-class American who hasn’t lost his job or been close to someone who got fired during the last few years? Even in 2009, when global capitalism entered its final crisis and millions of Americans were losing their homes to the same banks their taxes were paying to bail out, the world’s richest people—those with disposable wealth over $30 million—saw their assets soar by 21.5 percent.
Go ahead, little leftie: smash the windows at Starbucks in Seattle. It won’t stop transnational corporations from raping the planet and exploiting you. Enjoy your Tea Party, little rightie. It sure is cute, listening to you talk about the wee Constitution. “Your” government and the companies that own “your” leaders have your number. And they’re listening to your phone calls.
The public is now in full-fledged flailing mode. Just two years ago, you will recall, Obama and the Democrats swept into power on a platform of hope and change: hope that things might improve, by changing away from the Bushian Republicanism of the previous eight years.
Now, depending who you listen to, people have either turned against the hope and the change, or against the failure of ObamaCo to deliver it. “The voters, I think, are just looking for change, and that means bad news for incumbents and in particular for the Democrats,” says Peter Hart, a Democratic pollster.
Change from change we can’t believe in. Again.
According to the latest NBC News/Washington Post poll, this is the same electorate that “shows grave and growing concerns about the Gulf oil spill, with overwhelming majorities of adults favoring stronger regulation of the oil industry and believing that the spill will affect the nation’s economy and environment.” Because you know the Republicans are all about more regulation of Big Oil. And care so much about the environment.
Does your head hurt yet?
There is some good news: Three major polls find that most Americans don’t believe Obama has a plan to fix the economy. Yes, this is good news; it proves that the public isn’t totally crazy.
Like the poor Set B dogs in that 1967 experiment, Americans are running around aimlessly, veering between two parties that differ only in their degree of harm. Republicans are evil; Democrats enable it.
Next: lying on the ground and whimpering.
The way out is obvious. If a two-party corpocracy beholden to gangster capitalism is ruining your life, get rid of it.
Don’t whimper. Bite.
(Ted Rall is the author of “The Anti-American Manifesto,” to be published in September by Seven Stories Press. His website is tedrall.com.)