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There's No Success Like Failure: The U.S. Military in the World

The Huffington Post The Huffington Post 26/10/2015 Tom Engelhardt
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Cross-posted with TomDispatch.com

If journalism was once considered the first rough draft of history, now, when it comes to American military policy at least, it's often the first rough pass at writing a script for "The Daily Show." Take, for example, a little inside-the-paper piece that Eric Schmitt of the New York Times penned recently with this headline: "New Role for General After Failure of Syria Rebel Plan." And here's the first paragraph:

"The Army general in charge of the Pentagon's failed $500 million program to train and equip Syrian rebels is leaving his job in the next few weeks, but is likely to be promoted and assigned a senior counterterrorism position here, American officials said on Monday."

Yes, you read that right. Major General Michael Nagata is indeed "likely to be promoted." He remains, according to Schmitt, one of "the Army's rising stars" and is "in line to be awarded a third star, to lieutenant general, and take a senior position at the National Counterterrorism Center in Washington." Oh, and one of the reasons for his possible upcoming promotion, other than having overseen a program to produce 15,000 American-backed "moderate" Syrian rebels ready to fight the Islamic State that actually only produced a handful of them who fought no one, is according to "colleagues" his "bureaucratic acumen in counterterrorism jobs at the C.I.A. and the Pentagon."


Bureaucratic acumen! What better skill could you ask for in the new American national security state built since 9/11 on failure? No kidding, wouldn't you give your right arm to be in an organization that essentially called whatever you did success and promoted you accordingly? As TomDispatch's Nick Turse notes in his latest stunning report on America's Special Operations forces, "Iraq, Afghanistan, and Other Special Ops 'Successes,'"the secret military within our military that has in recent years grown to monstrous proportions has also gone from "success" to "success"; that is, as an organization, its expansion has been dependent upon Washington's military failures and disasters, especially in the Greater Middle East. One of Bob Dylan's famed cryptic lyrics seems to cover the situation with a certain precision: "She knows there's no success like failure. And that failure's no success at all."

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