Approving War Crimes?

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S1: The show may contain my tips for making money on Bitcoin. It won’t. It also may contain explicit language and it really might.

S2: It’s Monday, December 23rd, 2019 from Slate’s The Gist. I’m Mike PESCA. It is the season. Tis the season they sometimes say forgiving.

S3: And Kim Jong un, recently pictured on a white steed, has intimated that the U.S. is on his Christmas list.

S4: And an end of the year deadline approaching. Pyongyang says it’s up to the U.S. to decide what sort of Christmas gift it wants to receive.

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S5: They say the North Korean regime is secretive and hard to read. But Kim Jong un basically just blew the whole Secret Santa thing right then. And there we get it’s you. Kim Jong un. But still, what could it be? Very curious. Now, the Chinese economy and the contents of American Christmas stockings are both mostly made in China. Maybe that’s a hint. I can’t wait to come down the stairs on Christmas morning to see what Kim Jong un could be hinting at.

S6: Apparently feeling used as a political prop. A North Korean official warned that America may expect, quote, a Christmas gift interpreted to mean either a missile or even a nuclear test.

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S7: Oh, under the mistletoe, the actual missiles. Damn, tough way to find out you’re on the naughty list.

S3: Well, they say the present is called the present because it’s a gift, though, for Tulsi Gabbard. They say the present is a gift for Russia. So I don’t know what to think, but there is someone who does know what to think. Here’s a fluffy moustache and a bone to pick with his former boss.

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S8: Here is a quote for you. The idea that we are somehow exerting maximum pressure on North Korea is just unfortunately not true. That’s not from a Democrat. That’s from the president’s former national security adviser. John Bolton, in an interview with ACSI, is throwing out nothing short of a complete rebuke of Trump’s North North Korea policy.

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S7: Yes, John Bolton has been talking to axios and NPR, excoriating the U.S. policy is all show up in force, mirth and not enough blow up and scorch earth. He told NPR.

S9: This is it’s been the pattern as we’ve watched it for over three decades now. The North Koreans are very happy to declare that they’re going to give up their nuclear weapons program, particularly when it’s in exchange for tangible economic benefits. But they never get around to doing it. And I think the inescapable conclusion is they’re happy to sell that same bridge over and over again. But there’s no serious chance they will ever voluntarily give it up.

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S10: Yeah, this is the perfect analogy for a Trump administration project. You send out a press release about the bridge, you get the tabloids cover the ribbon cutting ceremony on the bridge when you open the bridge up. You also open up the Trump Bridge View apartments on either side of the bridge. Don Junior gets one, Eric gets another. Bolton, speaking to axios said, quote, If Kim Jong un follows through on his threatened Christmas provocation, the White House should do something. Quote, That would be very unusual for this administration. Admit they got it wrong on North Korea. OK, we’re taking diplomatic advice from a guy whose prescription rests on Donald Trump, admitting he got something wrong. That’ll work. And as satisfying as it is to buy what John Bolton is selling, what he’s really selling behind a very attractive assertion that Trump totally screwed up North Korea. Is John Bolton’s idea. He wants to totally blow up North Korea. So sometimes your uncomfortable truth teller need to calm down a little bit when it comes to the action items after even a deserved critique. How about Mr. Bolton speaking up in the Senate trial? There is an area where words and words alone might be enough to avert an international catastrophe. Maybe it’s the purest example of the power of words in your history as a diplomat and you’re not using your words. This could be your Christmas or Kwanzaa or MLK Day or whenever you screw up enough courage day gift to all of us on the show today. Impeachment impass and mykes Christmas carols. But first, the Afghan papers were a huge Washington Post led undertaking which exposed the extent to which American civilian leaders never really had faith in the U.S. strategy in Afghanistan. Was published just a few weeks after President Trump intervened with executive pardons of three military members. Navy SEAL Eddie Gallagher, who was found guilty of posing with a dead detainee. First Lieutenant Clint Lawrence. Major Matt Goldstein. Lawrence was six years into a 19 year prison sentence for ordering his soldiers to fire on men on motorcycles during a patrol in Afghanistan.

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S3: Goldstein allegedly told CIA interviewers that he killed an alleged Afghan bomb maker and conspired to destroy the body. Now, these are the kinds of topics that veterans discuss among themselves in ways the public rarely gets to hear, except they do get to hear it if they know what podcasts to listen to. I listened to Zero blog. 30 were hosts, Kate and chaps, two Marine veterans talk openly and without pretense.

S11: They’re funny, they’re profane. And when they need to be, they’re very frank. They’re here now. Zero block 30. Up next.

S1: So if you know me by now. Come on. I hope you do. You know that I have this eclectic interest in podcasts. I’ve been listening to a podcast lately called Zero Blog 38s from the Barstool Network, and I originally sort it out because I was quite keen on hearing how actual military personnel were talking about the case of Chief Gallagher. It seemed to be genuinely splitting the military. And I wanted to kind of go through the officially quoted sources and people who are involved in activist organizations who you know, how they’re going to come down. I wanted to either hear how enlisted personnel, just a grunt view on the ground of this. And I came across this podcast called Zero BLOCK Thirty. And it’s excellent. It’s former military people talking to each other. From what I gather, it’s really how the actual people would talk rather than talking in a way as if they’d know they were being quoted. Two of the hosts, the two main hosts of Zero BLOCK 30, are here, Kate Manyon, who’s a former Marine, and the guy who calls himself Uncle Chaps. Matthew Katherine, a former staff sergeant in the Marines. Guys, thanks for joining me. Thank you. Thanks for having us. So how do you. It probably came about in a bit of serendipity. And they said, let’s try this. Let’s talk about the things. You guys have another Sirius XM show. Right. But if you had to start with, okay, here’s the mission statement. I assume this wasn’t how it started. What would it be?

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S12: Well, there was very clear mission from the beginning. And what my mission was, is I wanted it to be the modern day VFW where you can listen to it, because a lot of people, whenever they get out of the military, they think I’ve lost that camaraderie. I miss being in a platoon room. I miss talking to my teammates about the things that are going on. So that’s kind of what we designed the podcast to shape around is where you you’re back in the platoon room. We’re not the smartest people in the world. We’re not the most informed yet on the world. And we just talk about the issues as they are.

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S1: So maybe and this fits in with the just the very notion of what the barstool is supposed to be. The guys used to be guys. Now it’s, I think, 18 percent female, but the guys in the VFW hall are talking to each other. And maybe if they get too political, they get shouted down. And maybe if they get on their high horse, they get shouted down. And also they get disagree with each other. Right. It’s not one ideology per cent. Right.

S13: So we have we have both sides of the political spectrum represented on the podcast. And we try to kind of avoid very inherently political subjects. We talk about things that touch the military or even tangibly just touch the military. And that’s really about it.

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S14: We don’t get into the data tangibly or tantric Lee, because that would be a little bit. Yeah. I mean, I dig I said that if President Trump removed us from Afghanistan to give him an over the head pants. Yeah. Now waiting to see or waiting to see incentive or distance. So if it all comes down to how we’re going to do it forever, I’m a man of complete attacks. Yes. That is your task. That is your purpose. Congratulations.

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S15: We also as much as it is like a kind of VFW hangout spot. We also invite non military members. We want it to be something that if you don’t have a single family member in the military, you don’t know anything about it. You could still listen and enjoy and get the gist, too. So it’s kind of a very welcoming for anyone.

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S13: And we’ve stripped out a lot of the military lingo the way we use an acronym in the beginning.

S14: Was it more heavy? Yeah, and it was hard, too, because we just get so many emails. I just got tired of answering emails about what did that mean? And so we just stripped that away and kind of make it civilian friendly. What were the hardest acronyms to let go off, you know?

S15: JJ did tieback. Yeah. The leadership once it was. What’s that mean? Justice. Judgment? Oh, man. We don’t even remember the attributes you’re supposed to keep in the military. And like it’s simple. It’s just JJ did Ty buckle? I’m like, well, that’s like 17 things, you know, it’s like it’s the military version of R.G. give.

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S14: Yeah, yeah. It’s the Rainbow Coalition of things that you don’t. Do you get punished? Exactly.

S1: Yeah. And also what’s the indigo and that like the one that’s like really we got seven colors and one’s indigo. Yeah. So what is the in the did buckle. Is there one for the B in Buckel. Oh man.

S13: Well yes and I would say now the one because I guess purple is the most underrated color hot. So I would say probably courage if you’ve read the Afghanistan papers. Oh yeah. Yeah. Just trying to do things on the sly and so tricky.

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S3: So when a story like that comes out, do you want to go headfirst into it? Okay.

S13: Like if I’m looking at the topics of the day, kind of the things that are going on the week and one like that, that is just pervasive no matter what type of political ideology, I think everybody can come together and say that the acts that were uncovered in the Afghanistan papers are disgusting.

S1: Right. So to take it back to the VFW hall, there probably aren’t too many guys in the hall say, no, we were doing the right thing and they never lied to us. And, you know, all my friends who’ve died there, it was all for the best cause possible.

S13: Right.

S15: Kate’s initial reaction, I think, was very apt also to part of this VFW, that zero blog 30, this kind of hangout spot. A lot of it lives on social media. Yeah. And right away, whenever something big happy. And we start getting tagged immediately, we have at no free press, but at Zero Blog 30 on Instagram and Twitter. But people immediately start hitting us up on those saying and we pose the question, you know. Well, this huge news came out today. How do you guys feel about it? And the answer is just start rolling in. And especially when it comes to the Afghanistan papers. He and our other calls, Karns, they served in Iraq together. Well, not together. But, you know, and I was an Afghanistan veteran who both deployments, especially the first one outside the wire. And as soon as I read it, I had such a visceral reaction to it. My heart was pounding. He looked at me and he was like, all, you’re you’re pumped up for this. I’m like, I saw Mike right now.

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S1: Was it a heart pounding more that it surprise you or confirmed what you always knew?

S15: There was no surprise to it at all. And I think that was the most disappointing part, was that it’s something that we all knew, especially on a lower enlisted boots on the ground outside the wire kind of way. And immediately all the tweets and Instagram posts and and messages I was getting were, Kate, I know how you feel excited tweeted out about it. My unit was here and saw X, Y and Z. And as a as a PFC. One of the lowest ranks. I knew that this was a failure. I knew. And it’s something that even at the lowest levels, everybody knew. Mm hmm. And then to know that the leaders who were looking at the troops and giving these speeches to the troops, you’re winning. Look at all these great things to know that behind the scenes they knew that it was also a failure, but weren’t confirming the things that we were reporting up and feeling and thinking, oh, it was just such a feeling of disillusionment, disappointment. And I could ramble about it all day.

S13: But it’s kind of like when, you know, when you first watch Sixth Sense and then the revealed that the kids can see dead people.

S16: Well, it’s like everybody out there, all the junior troops, everybody who’s in 0 form below an enlisted junior Lycett as well. We’ve all seen the movie. So we know that they can see dead people all the time. And the Afghanistan papers just confirmed that. Yes, you read the movie, correct?

S1: Right. Right. But does it draw a bigger wedge or is there I think there’s a bit of a wedge, but does it make the wedge even bigger between military and civilian? Because it was mostly the civilian leaders who were lying and even the generals were carrying out the orders. But it was Rumsfeld who was lying and Gates who was lying. And, you know, people who wore suit, not a uniform.

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S13: Yeah. I mean, I think that generals have a responsibility to their troops. I think that more so because no matter what we believe politically, the secretary of defense is inherently a political position. Yes, it is. I mean, when it’s Mattis right in mass that was one of the biggest bullshit about Mattis is that he was saying that I don’t want to get political. You you’re inherently in a political position because you’re a political appointment. But whenever you’re a general and you’re actually wearing the uniform, you have a responsibility to your junior troops. And I think that those that are in the papers feel that responsibility. And we talked about it this week. That was our episode that came out this morning. And we call it institutional cowardice that we think that they’ve displayed over the past two decades. Really?

S1: Which generals do you blame all? PETRAEUS Yes, I’ve heard the troops love Petraeus.

S15: I heard the troops love same as Mattis and all that stuff. There’s little cult following and worship of them, kind of this hero worship. But at the end of the day, a lot of these Pentagon Papers, these interviews, a lot of the people who are speaking freely said, well, to be honest with you, bad news isn’t allowed at the top. So say PFC shmuck, Italy sees X, Y and Z. These eight things that are happening that I had to send up a report every time I came back from outside the wire, the first thing I had to do was sit down and write up a report on things. I saw the atmospherics of this that. So I send it up. Well, maybe that officer sees it and is like, yeah, this is true, but knows that that won’t go over well at the next level. So maybe a couple of things get adjusted. Right. And then maybe they see and there’s still like a couple of things get adjusted and by the time it gets to the very top, it’s a squeaky clean, very different version of what’s actually happening on the ground tonight at 80 degree version. Right. And so I think they’re smart enough to realize that clearly looking at the big picture that things weren’t going well. And I think that they just blatantly ignored it and chose to look at the squeaky clean version instead of the reality that they had full access to.

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S1: Well, chaps, I mean, did you ever have a how many people were how many troops were you in charge of at any one time?

S12: Like probably the biggest one was a company. Guterson I had about 220 Marines.

S1: OK, so did you ever not lie to them but not tell them everything they needed to know?

S13: Absolutely right. And that’s just part of the game. Yeah. I mean, boss does that.

S1: Okay. So let’s talk about Chief Gallagher, which you touched on. And you talked about. And I felt you were more pained than anything else by that whole story. So tell me what you thought and what you said.

S13: Yeah, I think that we with the pardons, it’s tough because that is one that rightly or wrongly, it has become inherently political. Yes. And I don’t think that it should have been political. I think we look at things on merit and I think. All three of these cases that just went through, either the pardon or the clemency, whatever, you wanna get wrapped around the technical legal terms, whatever the pardons, essentially, I think that there’s different elements of each one of them that is troubling. Like, yeah, in the in the very least, Lawrence, for example. Lawrence his men turned him in. Yeah, that is huge. Like anyone in the military knows for me that the same guy that turned him in the same rank as me. For me to go against my direct commanding officer and say he committed a war crime. What he did was murder.

S3: And they tried to and they took many steps along the way to try to prevent him even.

S1: Like right to lie to him about if there were, quote unquote, hostiles or civilians outside the wire.

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S12: Right. And his battalion commander before didn’t put him in a leadership position before he actually went and like took another lieutenant getting killed for him to be placed in that position as a platoon commander. Those type of things are shocking to hear. As an enlisted person that those kind of decisions were made.

S15: Yeah, I think with Galagher, I know that Trump that was a reversal of they reinstated his rank and everything before he I think he like just retired this week or last week. But again, that was a case. That whole case was so wacky if he followed the trial or anything like that. I mean, sup- from both sides that the prosecution and the defense both messed up in a variety of ways. But again, people coming forward and saying multiple people coming forward and saying, you know, ultimately the only thing that he got charged with was posing with with an enemy corpse. Yeah. Yeah. But there were so many other stories in there that were backed up by so many other people that like shoving a knife in the guy’s throat to kill him.

S13: Yeah. I actually had less of a problem with Gallaghers getting reprimanded to chief than I did the other two because Galagher actually went to trial. Yeah, he was actually acquitted by a jury of his peers. Right. And I think that if you look at that on its face, if you just took a picture with yourself with a dead enemy combatant, you’re not getting degraded from chief to E-6. That’s just not going to happen. So I think that that in light of him being acquitted, probably was the right decision. Oh, I have I have less problem with that one. It’s the other two that I think are. One was convicted. Yeah. Convicted by a jury of his peers for murder.

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S1: Yeah. And a military tribunal means military people who can’t make the argument of all. And you’ve heard this all these guys in their air conditioned apartments and their air conditioned rooms passing judgment on someone who was actually in a war zone. Everyone who passed literal judgment on him was in the war zone.

S13: And it’s a jury of his same rank like there is his same rank was represented there as well. And that one is just inexcusable. And then him going on and saying that I can’t get a job at Target, like, well, no shit, dude, you killed somebody.

S3: You get did you get pushback from that people? And if so, what was their case?

S13: Yeah, we do get pushback because I think that it’s it became political. And so if you inherently if you criticize the decision of these pardons, you were criticizing Trump as well. Like they are all it’s like you can’t look at a policy without without going after the man.

S1: Okay. So that’s the motivation for the put’s push back. But how did they phrase because they can’t say you don’t know. They can’t specifically point to you guys and say you don’t know what it’s like. They do.

S16: I mean, I think that sometimes criticism is nonsensical. Shah Well, they’ll say, well, you don’t know. Like, I’ll get like, oh, you’re a pug, your dog handler like that. Like, I got shot like a guy awards for valor, like I’ve done my shit to like. So that doesn’t necessarily the they will come at you is like you don’t know you’re not a warrior. This is a warrior mindset. You don’t know what it was like to be a CEO, which is true. You don’t know what it’s like to be a Green Beret. That’s true, too, right? I don’t know. But I do know what it’s like to lead people in combat. Yeah, I do. And you don’t tell people to murder somebody who’s innocent.

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S15: And at the same time, there are lots of people with them. Warrior mindset. There are SEALs and Green Berets who do the right thing all the time.

S1: These are the underlings who turn him in, did the right thing. Right. And you are giving the wrong message. Do you think that that will have. Sometimes I wonder if the counterclaims are a little too grandiose that this will degrade good order and discipline.

S13: I absolutely think it’s way too grand. I don’t see a lot more than that. We were talking about it on the way over here. Ninety nine percent of people in the military, good folks, they’re not going to do that. Even if even if you think as a young specialist, young lance corporal, maybe the president will pardon me if I kill this person. Right. People aren’t doing that. They’re just not going to do it because a majority of them are good people.

S5: And even if they weren’t, the chances that a president will pardon you for that are very, very, very small. Right. I really I agree with you. I don’t think that anyone will be in a situation with a knife in their hand saying, well, if I plunge this in at this moment, I’ll probably get a pardon in the future. I just think that’s great.

S15: But yeah, I think overall, I don’t think it will have like some overarching major or horrible negative effect amongst military members. I think the thing that most of us are just frustrated with and it’s not just Trump, it’s. Pretty much every president ever. The troops become political pawns. And that’s the annoying thing because I don’t know you’re saying it pretty well in the car, chaps, on the way over like we’ve been at this war for 18 years. But this is the stuff we’re focused on.

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S12: Yeah, this is the stuff that is going crazy over when instead where, you know, I wish the news would focus as much as they did on the pardons case about the Afghanistan papers, because I really think that that is a small picture of what we’re allowing by allowing the war in Afghanistan to go on. Like, sure, you have ones, he’s enthuses. It slips through the cracks and they become they commit war crimes. Those cracks shouldn’t be there because we should be at the place now where we removed all of our troops from Afghanistan.

S1: You know what permits someone to commit a war crime being in war. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. Kate Manyon and Uncle Chaps are the hosts of Zero Blog Thirty on the Barstool Podcast Network.

S11: A great insight and whatever that your version is your site into how the military, former military thinks about the military and the world. Thank you, guys. Thank you.

S7: And now the schpiel.

S10: The House passed articles of impeachment, but, says one Harvard professor, that might not even mean that Trump has been impeached. What really isn’t impeachment? Well, if you ask the common man on the street, he’ll almost always be wrong. Right. He’ll say removing the president and asking him for a member of the media. And they’ll probably wonder why. You only asked the man on the street. What’s that say about you? Mitch McConnell has done away with the niceties of pretending to be impartial. Doing away with the niceties that the Mitch McConnell brand, the sides can’t agree on the rules of the trial. The senators can’t agree on if they actually need to mean it when they swear an oath, to be fair, jurors.

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S3: And just when you thought the ball had gotten rolling a little bit, you see the credible threat of the ball being taken away.

S17: And Mitch McConnell either going home or hiding it on a Ukrainian server, maybe given this season, all this news would sound nicer going down like this.

S10: It’s beginning to look a lot like grid lock, which might make Trump irate. We’ve actually yet to begin. According to Noah Feldman, who says impeachment won’t start, the articles reach the Senate. It’s beginning to look a lot like stalemate as we enter the 2012 any race arm again and Bolton mute Pelosi. Don’t find that cute. If her case is so airtight, why does she need more witnesses to make her case? That was Marc Short. Mike Pence’s chief of staff on Fox News. Sorry. Hint, hint. You don’t want to hear that information presented that way. You won’t hear it this way. Mark Short quipping Like a garbage fire. Dick Mars sucking on some tubes. The entire republic being led by a liar. His next chief of staff could be retiring. North Carolina Congressman Mark Meadows. Every but sorry. Where was I? Oh, yes.

S3: It seems like the Christmas break will be the only thing to give us a break from this unbreakable tension between Mitch and Nancy. Oh, the unresolved tension so compelling. After all, it ends. I like to take a break, not just with the holidays, but one way that I take a break that I unwind each Sunday, in fact, and most Thursdays to play fantasy football, because it is indeed a fantasy of mine to acquire the athletic accomplishment of gentlemen that I don’t know. And they don’t know me and they don’t care about my existence, but I mind them for their numbers and curse them as if they were abstract concepts, not people. When they sustain injuries for their be hobbled ment denies me the statistical fruits of their labor is like I say, it is pure fantasy. Yes, a dystopian fantasy like Black Mirror, but I do enjoy a good bout of fantasy football and my season has just ended. And I have to say that my team perfect phone call won the championship. But here’s the thing you might be wondering, Mike, know who are your receivers? What what stratagem did you deploy to deny your opponents that? No, you’re not. You’re not wondering that because conversations about fancy football are the most boring conversations manageable. But if you’re into my team is called perfect phone call, you might have said, wait a minute, Mike, you draft offensive football team. Football begins in early September and the Ukraine mishegoss did not come out until mid to late September. How did you know to name your team that? Does your witchcraft extend beyond starting the Colts defense or are you truly prescient? No, my friends, I’m not pregnant. My fantasy football team names are always trying to encapsulate something, presidential, something of the moment. This goes back to 2016 when my squad, the bloody wherever’s, tried to capture the zakk heist. But what I find and what I am finding is chronicled through the names my fantasy football teams. Is that the zakk heist keeps slipping thanks to. Well, he he who dominates the ether. The bloody wherever’s gave way to the good sized hands, very befitting a football team. But this year I started a new and I started with Ram the Ramparts. Remember that from the 4th of July address. Then it became nukes at Hurricane. Remember that one? I briefly changed it to? I’ll buy Greenland. And finally I landed on perfect phone call. You know, it’s just too much. Years ago, I had a fantasy football team named such as U.S. Americans, remember? And Miss South Carolina said that I stuck with that name for like three or four seasons. People love that name. They got that name. They remembered the reference. It made them laugh. We didn’t need to change with the times every 14 seconds. But now, every two freakin weeks, I could have gone with windmill cancer or 15 flushes or girl dog koenen. It’s just so ever changing, ever mutable the ground beneath me. Never solid, I can take a receiving corps that goes down to injury all at once in the semifinals. I mean, he was going to find some Tampa Bay Buccaneers wideout on the waiver wire, am I right? Fantasy football geeks. But these presidential Meemaw’s and mockeries and blurr stations. It’s so much. It’s too much. It is a wild, wild ride.

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S10: I guess that is why this holiday season we can all agree that a legislative branch that’s stuck in their corners and stuck in their ways and dedicated to maximum opposition and obstruction at every turn.

S17: Well, in a way, what that represents is solidity and status. Perhaps that is the greatest Christmas gift of all.

S10: And so I’m offering these simple words to senators in their first term or their sixth B or majority by one vote or two thirds. Happy Hanukkah. Swift impeachment, some semblance of fairness and your preordained show trial. But most of all, merry Christmas, you.

S18: Goodbye, boys and girls. Merry Christmas to all and to all the dumb fight.

S19: And that’s it for today’s show. Daniel Shrader produced The Gist. And while not a leatherneck or a devil dog, he does have this one quarter Roy shirt with a leather collar and has been known to enjoy a hostess treat from time to time. So Semper Fidelis, fellas. Cristina de jozo would be expecting Kim Jong un to give her a gift of coal in her stocking. But that stocking full of coal would represent eight percent of all North Korea’s energy exports last quarter. The jest hearing John Bolton tell us this is the time to attack North Korea is much less comforting than hearing Michael Bolton sing. Great pipes, but no moustache. Rupert adepero to Peru. And thanks for listening.