July 12, 2010
Last week, the Obama
administration named Marine Corps Gen. James N. Mattis to replace Gen.
David Petraeus as chief of US Central Command, giving the Marine officer
overall command of US forces in Afghanistan and Iraq and across the
Middle East and Central Asia.
elevation of Mattis is further confirmation that last month’s firing of
Gen. Stanley McChrystal and appointment of Petraeus to take command of
US and NATO forces in Afghanistan signaled a major escalation of US
military violence against the Afghan people. Mattis, also known,
according to Wikipedia, as "Chaos," "Warrior Monk" and "Mad Dog Mattis,"
is notorious inside and outside of the military for his bloodlust and
enthusiasm for killing.
He has a long record leading combat
operations in US wars of aggression in the Middle East and Central Asia.
He served as a lieutenant colonel in Operation Desert Storm (the US
invasion of Iraq in 1991), commanded the first ground troops that went
into southern Afghanistan after the 2001 US invasion of that country,
and led Marines in the 2003 invasion of Iraq. In April of 2004 he headed
up the first US assault on the Iraqi city of Fallujah and helped plan
the siege later that year that destroyed the city and killed thousands
of its residents.
In February of 2005, at a public forum in
San Diego, Mattis said that "it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot"
Afghans. He continued: "Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. You know,
it’s a hell of a hoot. It’s fun to shoot some people. I’ll be right
upfront with you, I like brawling." A bit later he spoke of the
"emotional … satisfaction you may get from really whacking somebody."
Mattis received an official rebuke for his
comments. They were, however, not an aberration. In his 2006 book Fiasco:
The American military Adventure in Iraq, Thomas Ricks writes that
one of the rules the Marine commander gave his troops to live by was,
"Be polite, be professional, but have a plan to kill everybody you
In a speech to Task Force Ripper during
Desert Storm, he reportedly said, ‘It’s the mission of every Marine in
the battalion to send one dead Iraqi home to Mama."
In announcing the appointment, Defense Secretary
Robert Gates lauded Mattis as "one of our military’s outstanding combat
leaders and strategic thinkers, bringing an essential mix of experience,
judgment and perspective to this important post." He shrugged off the
official rebuke against Mattis, saying the incident was five years old.
Obama’s elevation of this fascistic killer to the
overall command of two major wars, covert and overt military operations
in Yemen and Somalia, and the planning of new wars evoked no protest
either from prominent Democrats, the major media, or supposedly "left"
liberal organizations such as the Nation magazine. On the other
hand, it drew enthusiastic praise from the Wall Street Journal,
which published an editorial Friday headlined "An Obama Home Run." The Journal
declared that "it is to Mr. Obama’s credit that he has chosen to
draw a line from Iran to Afghanistan with the one-two punch of Petraeus
It has not taken long to expose the
gullibility of all those who hailed the sacking of McChrystal—ostensibly
because of disparaging remarks about Obama and other civilian officials
made by the general and his aides in a Rolling Stone article—as
a powerful affirmation of civilian control over the military. The World
Socialist Web Site concluded within days of McChrystal’s firing
that the issue of civilian control was used to give a democratic gloss
to a decision to intensify the military slaughter in Afghanistan.
McChrystal had fallen out of favor because of his
failure to suppress the growing popular insurgency against the US-led
colonial occupation. His position was fatally undermined in June when he
acknowledged that last February’s offensive against the town of Marjah
in Helmand province had failed to dislodge the Taliban, and then
postponed for several months the long-planned offensive against the
Taliban stronghold of Kandahar.
particular concern in the military, the intelligence establishment and
the Obama administration—as indicated by the Rolling Stone piece
and articles in the New York Times and other newspapers—were
McChrystal’s rules of engagement, which somewhat restricted the use of
American firepower against Afghan towns and villages in the name of
limiting civilian casualties.
sooner had Petraeus been nominated to replace McChrystal than the former
commander of the US surge in Iraq announced that he would review the
rules of engagement with an eye to enabling US troops to more freely
kill and maim Afghan civilians. Petraeus also made clear at his Senate
confirmation hearing that the war would continue indefinitely,
notwithstanding Obama’s token "drawdown" date of July 2011.
The entire political and media establishment
immediately swung behind the shift in military tactics, as symbolized by
the Senate’s unanimous confirmation of Petreaus within days of his
Petraeus has yet to officially loosen the
rules of engagement. But in the week since he formally assumed command,
a series of US and NATO massacres of Afghan civilians has
occurred—although, it must be added, the US media has barely reported
On July 7, US forces killed two civilians
and arrested three others during a pre-dawn raid in the northern city of
Mazar-i-Sharif. Hundreds of residents protested Saturday, carrying
banners reading, "Death to America!"
claimed that a commando raid in the eastern province of Paktia last
week killed a Taliban operative and captured eight others. Villagers
protested outside of government offices Saturday, insisting that the men
were innocent civilians.
On Wednesday, a NATO
airstrike in Ghazni province in the east killed five Afghan soldiers and
wounded two others.
The next day, NATO artillery shells
killed six civilians and wounded several others in the Jani Khel
district of Paktia province. NATO officially admitted the massacre on
Friday, issuing the usual perfunctory statement of regret.
At the same time, the killing and wounding of US
and other NATO forces continues to escalate. Last week, at least 14
American soldiers were killed, bringing to a total so far this month to a
minimum of 23. June was the most deadly month for US and other
occupation troops since the US invasion nearly nine years ago, with 102
killed, including 60 Americans.
the face of growing popular support in Afghanistan for the entirely
legitimate resistance against US colonial domination, a deteriorating
military/security situation for the US and NATO in the country, and
rising opposition to the war at home, the Obama administration has
decided to step up the killing in an attempt to drown the resistance in
This is a war crime. It must be stopped by
the development of a mass working class movement against imperialist
war and the capitalist system that breeds it.