by Tom Turnipseed
Successful professionals enjoy their work. The Obama administration has picked a successful and happy warrior in Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to head the US Central Command. The command includes all US forces in Afghanistan, Iraq, the entire Middle East and Central Asia. Mattis has gloated that it is “fun to shoot some people” and “have a plan to kill everybody you meet”.
Killing is the key to success in military actions. Killing enough insurgents by invading and occupying US forces enables the winners to subdue and subjugate the survivors. The real winners in the Middle East are the US based corporations who seek to exploit the resources of energy and mineral rich countries like Iraq, Afghanistan and Iran. Also the corporate war profiteers of the defense industry are making out like bandits. They furnish the killing tools, the hired mercenaries and other wasteful and expensive materials, equipment and supplies for our never-ending wars-on-terror.
Mattis has a strong resume in the military killing business. He was a lieutenant colonel in the US invasion of Iraq in 1991, directed the Marines in the 2003 invasion of Iraq, headed the US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah in 2004 and helped design the siege that destroyed the city and killed thousands of Iraqi civilians. Mattis also commanded the initial troops that went into Afghanistan in 2001.
Describing his feelings about the people in Afghanistan, General Mattis said, “… It’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them. Actually it’s quite fun to fight them, you know. It’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right up there with you. I like brawling.”
Author Thomas Ricks wrote that Mattis told his troops to, “Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you meet.”
During Operation Desert Storm in Iraq, Mattis reportedly told his troops, “It’s the mission of every Marine in the battalion to send one dead Iraqi home to Mama.”
Perhaps World War II Army General George S. Patton, Jr. is a role model for Mattis in his glorification of military madness and the joy of killing. Patton said “Magnificent! Compared to war all other forms of human endeavor shrink to insignificance. God help me, I do love it so!” and “No bastard ever won a war by dying for his country, He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country.” Patton also said, “America loves a winner, and will not tolerate a loser, this is why America has never, and will never, lose a war.” Of course that was before our ill-fated military ventures in Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates called Mattis “one of our military’s outstanding combat leaders and strategic thinkers, bringing an essential mix of experience, judgment and perspective to this important post.” Asked about Mattis’ bloodthirsty rhetoric, Gates brushed off an official rebuke against Mattis saying it was five years ago.
In Afghanistan, US and NATO forces casualties continue to escalate. The number of Americans killed so far this month is at least 23 with 14 killed last week. In June, 102 occupation troops were killed including 60 Americans. 1,149 American soldiers have been killed in the war in Afghanistan, and countless numbers of Afghan civilians have died. We don’t do body counts of “the enemy” because, as former Defense Secretary Rumsfeld said, “death has a tendency to encourage a depressing view of war.”
Our economic crisis is directly tied to the cost of the war. It costs $1 million per year to maintain a single soldier in Afghanistan. The 2010 Pentagon budget is $693 billion, which surpasses all other discretionary spending programs combined–while our deficit soars. We desperately need money to create green jobs, rebuild our crumbling infrastructure and improve education.
President Obama replaced General McChrystal with General Petraeus as commanding general of US and NATO forces in Afghanistan. McChrystal had made derogatory remarks about Obama and his administration’s conduct of the war. Petraeus was head of the Central Command and will be replaced by Mattis. Obama said, “War is bigger than any one man or woman, whether a private, a general or president.”
The war in Afghanistan is a big loser. Rearranging deck chairs to include one more “fun to kill” military madman will not keep it from sinking like the Titanic. Only ending the war will save Obama.
A recent ABC / Washington Post poll found that people felt the war was not worth fighting by a 53 to 44 margin. An NBC/Wall Street Journal poll had 62% of the American people saying the country was going in the wrong direction and Obama’s approval rating at 45% with 48% disapproval.
President Obama was the most successful politician in the US who seemed to enjoy being elected to the highest office in the land. Fulfilling his promise of peace, hope and change is a winner. However his failure to conclude killing for fun military madness will make him a loser in 2012 and doom his party in November
Tom Turnipseed is an attorney, writer and peace activist in Columbia, SC. His blog is here.