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Andrew Bacevich: How to Avert Real Change in Election 2016
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It was the grisliest of stories: a decade and a half ago a former KGB man, Alexander Litvinenko, defected to England and turned on the powers-that-be in his own country, accusing its leader of both acts of assassination and, among other things, pedophilia. Litvinenko died in 2006 thanks to a highly toxic radioactive isotope, Polonium 120, evidently slipped into his tea at a meeting with two Russian agents in a ritzy London bar. That Polonium left a “trail” traced by British investigators from airplane seats to hotel rooms to that bar and finally pinned on the two Russians, one of whom was later elected to parliament and awarded a medal by the very man suspected of ordering the hit: Russian President Vladimir Putin. So says a long-awaited British official inquiry into the death by a respected retired judge.

In other words, it’s quite a tale of state-sponsored horror, the kind of morally dark act you’d expect from an autocrat with Putin’s reputation and, when the report came out recently, it was significant news here. The New York Times editorial page concluded: “Mr. Putin has built a sordid record on justice and human rights, which naturally reinforces suspicions that he could easily have been involved in the murder. At the very least, the London inquiry, however much it is denied at the Kremlin, should serve as a caution to the Russian leader to repair his reputation for notorious intrigues abroad.”

If Putin actually did such a thing, and it remains only a supposition, those comments are on the mark indeed. A state-sponsored, extrajudicial act of assassination should appall us all and it’s the sort of subject that you can expect to be discussed in future election 2016 debates here — as long as the president in question is Russian. (When, last December, Donald Trump suggested in passing some possible equivalency between Putin’s reputed killings and Obama administration ones, he was roundly taken to task.) Let me guarantee you one thing, no mainstream columnist, pundit, or reporter questioning presidential candidates will ever put Putin’s putative act in the same context as the extrajudicial, state-sponsored assassinations regularly ordered by another well-known president. I’m speaking, of course, of the White House campaign of drone killings of “terror suspects,” including American citizens, across the Greater Middle East and parts of Africa that began in 2002 and has never ended. This despite the fact that, whatever doubt there may be about Putin’s order, there is none when it comes to those presidentially approved drone killings.


In fact, President Obama took on the role of assassin-in-chief with evident enthusiasm years ago (as will whoever enters the Oval Office in 2017). He has overseen a years-long drone assassination spree based on a White House “kill list” of candidates chosen in what are called “terror Tuesday” meetings. Keep in mind that that government-planned assassinations were officially banned in 1976. Keep in mind as well that Putin’s order, if true, was directed at a single figure and only he died (though the Russian president is sometimes accused of being behind the deaths of Russian journalists and opposition figures, too). Notoriously enough, however, the American assassination program regularly knocks off not only its intended targets but also a range of “collateral” figures, including in one case much of a wedding party in Yemen.

The likelihood that the role of the president in the drone campaigns will be seriously discussed in any future debate in campaign 2016 is essential nil. And that’s just one of a myriad of subjects that, as TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, author of the much-anticipated book, America’s War for the Greater Middle East: A Military History (due this April), points out today, are out of bounds for media questioners and candidates alike in an election in which so many words are being spoken and so little is truly being spoken about.

(Republished from TomDispatch by permission of author or representative)
• Category: Foreign Policy • Tags: Litvinenko, Putin 
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  1. Tom_R says:


    Thanks for the great article, Sir. You are so right.

    It is quite hypocritical that the Jewish rag New York Times would say “Mr. Putin has built a sordid record on justice and human rights, which naturally reinforces suspicions that he could easily have been involved in the murder” when Israel and its puppet USA have a much longer and more sordid history on justice and human rights and therefore reinforces suspicions that they are involved in the majority of the terror in the world today.

    Framing patriots, drone killings, assassinations of PLO operatives with cell phones by Mossad, killing children for throwing stones in Israel, etc. etc. would be enough to fill a book by itself detailing the terror of Israel and its banana republic, USA.

    But this Jewish terror has a long history. Even the poor harlot noted that the Hebrews were terrorists according to their own texts, thus:

    “And she said unto the men, I know that the Lord hath given you the land, and that your TERROR is fallen upon us, and that all the inhabitants of the land faint because of you” (Tanakh, Book of Joshua 2:9).

  2. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    I can’t believe someone like Bacevich would believe or even entertain this load of crap. Yeah, let’s for the sake of argument, believe the other Litvinenko allegations. Then Putin and the FSB should be held responsible for the London bombings. They were behind the Danish Mohammed cartoon. And the Beslan massacre. They gave material support to all Al Qaeda terrorist operations against the West. Please. I know the West, and its politicians and media, has decayed into a self-destructive dementia, but I thought those on the paleo right still had their faculties. Very disappointing Bacevich. Litvinenko converted to Islam and committed suicide by radioactive polonium. And the stooges in the UK and the media have swallowed this BS, feathers and all.

    • Replies: @SolontoCroesus
  3. @Anonymous

    Bacevich didn’t write this business about Litvinenko.

    Engelhardt wrote it.

    Bacevich wrote this: Out of Bounds, Off-Limits, or Just Plain Ignored
    Six National Security Questions Hillary, Donald, Ted, Marco, et al., Don’t Want to Answer and Won’t Even Be Asked by ANDREW J. BACEVICH

    don’t know why Engelhardt sets up his posts the way he does; it’s confusing.

    • Replies: @Anonymous
  4. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Thanks. I guess it’s a case of seeing what already believe. I read because I saw Bacevich’s name. And I even went to back up to the top to make sure this was Bacevich’s name I saw. Oy.

  5. War for Blair Mountain [AKA "Groovy Battle for Blair Mountain"] says:

    Some years back, Colonel Bacevitich ,then a Professor of History at West Point, exposed Colonel David Hackworth in a book review….The Hack….was a boasting lying medal-accumulator. David Hackworth…a real Hack!!!!

    After a career as a medal accumulator in the US Army, Colonel Hackworth was a member of an audience in an infomercial for organic skin care products for wrinkly middle aged rich women recorded at Oheka Castle in Cold Spring Harbor.

    Colonel David Hackworth…he was no Major Dick Winters and no Ronald Spiers of Easy Company.

    The majority nonwhite Democratic Party=The mass murder of Conservative Orthodox Christian Russians in the Ukraine!!!!!

  6. Anonymous • Disclaimer says:

    Correct the typo: it’s Polonium 210, not 120

    And it’s this simple: if it was Po210, there is really no way to hide it once one suspects the cause and tests for it. Which leaves only two possibilities: 1) UK is lying, 2) someone with advanced knowledge of radionuclide medicine killed Litvinenko.

    • Replies: @manton
  7. manton says:

    No, the third possibility–which I am not saying I endorse, only saying it exists–is that Litvinenko or someone he was working with or close to was smuggling it and something went wrong.

    The problem with this, though, is that the half life of 210Po is quite short–138 days–so whatever plan you might have for it, you’d better execute quickly. It really has only two uses: one is to power thermoelectric generators, the kind of things used to run space probes. How plausible is it that Litvinenko was building a space probe, or selling it to someone who was? The other is as a neutron initiator in a boosted fission nuclear weapon. The problem with this is the short half life. You have to replace the stuff all the time (every 4 months to a year). That’s not really practical for someone buying it on the black market.

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