Updated: Jul 2, 2020
A Russian Bounty on American soldiers…Really?
It can only be described as a perfect storm, a classic ‘Black Swan’ event. The media has announced that Russia’s Vladimir Putin offered the Taliban a bounty on every American soldier killed in Afghanistan and US President Donald J. Trump did nothing. Could this be the butterfly flapping its wings on a sunflower in North Dakota that touched off a sandstorm in the Sahara? Could this be… oh, God! I’m too overwrought to even think about it. Could this be the long-awaited downfall of the Trump Gang?
Well, probably not.
For one thing, it’s too good to be true. And for another, there are no verifiable facts in the story. It’s simply another tidbit of juicy gossip, welcomed, repeated and embellished by those whose job it has become to pick at straws. Most news sources cite the Associated Press but AP cannot provide any hard evidence or sworn testimony. Nobody can. It's a chicken-and-egg situation.
No matter what Trump does or doesn’t do, he’s proven to be unmovable and that’s a real fact. So, here’s what it’s come down to. Tear a page from the Trump playbook and lie. Invent a monstrous untruth so absurd it even puts the Liar-in-Chief to shame.
Somebody, somewhere, seized on the notion that the one thing Americans of all colors and political stripes, even the maliciously ignorant MAGAts who put Trump in office in 2016 – and that’s roughly half the country’s eligible voters and half of those were women – would take issue with was the mythical invincibility of the American soldier. The one assertion that just might jar these sleepwalkers out of their stupor is Putin paying the Taliban a bounty for the heads of our sons and daughters.
Trump says he was never briefed on the matter. The DNI says they never briefed him. So, true to form, I expressed the idea on Twitter that perhaps, for the very first time since 2016, the Boy-Who-Cried-Wolf might actually be telling the truth.
Some representative responses:
The operative word here is ‘likely.’ But ‘likely’ is purely speculative. It assumes that something took place then something else took place as a result of that something, etc., etc., ad infinitum. Even the word ‘assume’ has a malodorous declension: ASS – U – ME.
The only thing I’m willing to ‘assume’ is that the Russians are tickled pink with the naiveté and easy manipulability of the American media and the gullibility of its readership. That’s how they shepherded Trump into office in the first place. If you want to disrupt and create dissention in the ranks of your opponents, then a scandal is always the way to go. It doesn’t matter how believable or absurd the assertion; the mere fact that the target will expend valuable resources in dealing with the disruption while taking time and money away from actually governing is a win in itself.
But let’s get back to the main issue here: the assertion that the Taliban are accepting Russian money for each American soldier they assassinate in Afghanistan.
First, where did the information originate? Where is the irrefutable source? The wellspring from which this latest ass-ertion flows?
Nobody seems to know.
In 1918, US Senator Hiram Warren Johnson, a California Republican and staunch isolationist, is purported to have warned: “The first casualty when war comes is truth.” Curiously, Johnson died on the same day the US dropped its first atomic bomb on Japan in 1945. Like the phrase “Ignorance is a disease than cannot be truly cured,” this dictum on the demise of truth goes all the way back to Aeschylus (523-456 BC): “In war, truth is the first casualty.”
Second, the international arms trade isn’t politically driven, it’s commercial. The Taliban have all the arms and ammunition they need, without having to learn new tricks to earn their dog treats, or feed for their AK-47s, one cartridge at a time. Anyone can become a licensed arms dealer by simply registering as such with Washington or Moscow. There is a list of embargoed countries and groups to whom an American arms trafficker is not supposed to sell, but the loopholes are so large one could easily drive a convoy of missile launchers through with no consequences whatsoever. Unknown to most folks, practically every military firearm, and a lot of the heavy artillery, that was ever produced since the invention of the breechloading rifle is still being traded in lots of tens-of-thousands around the world. Bullets are sold in million-unit lots. And the Taliban have millions.
And speaking of millions, did you know that one million (that’s one with six zeros) M16 rifles were sold to the North Vietnamese at $1 apiece even as US forces were fleeing Saigon in the mid-1970’s? Where do you think those weapons came from and where did they show up next? And what about the 25,000 Colt 45 automatic pistols, some going back to before WWI that my friend-of-a-friend went to Hanoi to inspect prior to a prospective purchase? Besides more recent Chinese and Russian-made weaponry, American soldiers in Vietnam were killed by rifles manufactured in the late 19th century. What the American public really needs to know is how many of those dollar store M16s are being used to assassinate their sons and daughters in Afghanistan.
Selling new weaponry can be problematic, simply because all the production slots for the latest technology are monopolized by the Pentagon. A dealer with a solid order from an overseas client can jump the cue, but only if he has a silent partner inside the system, usually a retired CIA operative or similar creature, for a cut of the profits. That’s how the CIA looks after its own when they’re put out to pasture. But this is usually the case only for consumables, things like aircraft propellers and brakes, the stuff that can neutralize a war machine if not regularly refitted. When I was in the business, the demand was for Hercules aircraft props and brake linings. All my client’s C-130’s were grounded for lack of brake pads. They could take off okay. But they couldn’t land. From a world peace standpoint, that's a win. From an arms dealer's standpoint, that's an opportunity.
Supply of small arms – that is, the weaponry needed to collect Putin’s bounty on American soldiers in Afghanistan – is a piece of cake. It isn’t sourcing the goods that’s problematic or even the financing; supply outstrips demand. It’s a buyer’s market. But arranging the transportation and customs clearances can be challenging. Even when the US government officially or unofficially engages in arming one faction against another, or both factions at the same time as they did during the Iran-Iraq war (1980-88), there is heavy reliance on Italian and other mafias to provide transportation services. This is how both America and Russia fed the conflict in the Balkans until it burned itself out. One doesn’t simply ring up DHS or Purolator. But the supply itself is readily available and transportation can somehow always be arranged, even to Afghanistan, because, in the end, it’s all about money. In our society predicated on racism and greed, money is the final determinant.
Here’s the point. Asserting that the Taliban are starved for weaponry is about as absurd as the idea that Putin is paying them for each American head-on-a-stake. The truth of the matter is that, because of bad planning and gross mismanagement, the Taliban have fought the Coalition-of-the-Willing to a standstill. Twenty years later, it’s time to scurry home with our tails between our legs. Same with the Russian invasion of Afghanistan only a generation before. Same with the British during the 19th century. We have thrown away thousands of lives and billions of dollars. For once, please let’s be honest. We fucked up. Can’t blame Putin for that.
And let’s face it. This limp-dishrag Congress couldn’t impeach POTUS45 when they had real, verifiable evidence in hand. And they won’t do it on a slice of gossip, either.
Nadler and Schiff could have enforced all those snubbed subpoenas in 2019 when they had a chance. But they didn’t. They could have saved over 100,000 American lives if they removed Trump from office before the Covid-19 epidemic broke out. But they didn’t. And I won’t even mention the GOP. It was the country’s own leaders who wrecked America, not Putin.
Apparently, we’ve now stooped to Trump’s own level by manufacturing yet another falsehood and feeding it to the scandal-hungry media. Neither the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Guardian, nor any of the other news outlets could provide anything but ‘anonymous’ or third-hand sources for their stories. Is that the foundation on which this Congress thinks it can demolish the Trump Presidency? What happened to right-thinking (as opposed to thinking on the Right)? Is it going the way of the Confederate monuments?
Yes. Please do open another investigation and tell us who leaked the information. Give us a name. Subpoena that individual and force him/her to testify before a House or Senate committee. And televise the proceedings.
But they won’t do that. Because there is no individual. Like Trump himself, we’ve sunk to the lowest possible level. Con men.
I’ll stick to my assertion that our willingness to spread gossip disguised as fact and to accuse anyone – even the despicable Donald J. Trump – of treason on the basis of that gossip is a result of the gross failure of education in America. Our education system failed to teach us critical thinking skills. We can’t put one foot in front of the other to walk a straight line. We don’t know the meaning of ASS-U-ME.
Could it be that we actually have the government we deserve? Or even better than we deserve?
Think about it.
The Covid-19 pandemic is still a going concern. You don't have to take POTUS45's advice and die for the American economy. Practice self-isolation. Always wear a mask in public and thoroughly wash your hands. Decline invitations to birthday parties and the beach. Stay home and READ, READ, READ. You can download free reading materials from my website at www.francescorizzuto.com. Support one another. We're all in this together!