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Craddock scandal rocks NATO PDF Print E-mail
craddock bowedFebruary 1, 2009

In the wake of an international scandal mushrooming around the career of US General Bantz John Craddock, American credibility has collapsed inside the top echelons of NATO. 

General Craddock is the Supreme Allied Commander for Europe (SACEUR) and simultaneously the Commander of the US European Command.

Described as a hard-line partisan deeply committed to the neoconservative ideology of former US President George W. Bush, General Craddock is a controversial commanding officer whose command authority extends to that rather euphemistically termed, “peace-keeping force,” operating in Afghanistan known as the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF).  The political dimensions of the Craddock scandal are slowly emerging, and it now seems likely that European centers of military and political power will succeed in toppling American domination of the aging security organization.

The Craddock scandal erupted upon the public release of his ill-conceived letter ordering the mass execution of thousands of civilians involved in the Afghan trade in illicit drugs.  According to European reports, Craddock’s order targeted “tens of thousands” Afghani civilians.  When NATO officers operating under Craddock’s command rejected his order to launch the mass execution of drug-linked civilians (many are poppy farmers), Craddock became incensed at what he deemed a mutinous conspiracy of treacherous insubordination that threatened his command authority.

mckiernan karzaiUS General David D. McKiernan is currently in charge of NATO forces in Afghanistan.  German General Egon Ramms is the head of the NATO Command Center in Kabul.  Both Generals have written letters stating that they do not wish to follow General Craddock’s order.  To do so would be a violation of international law and would result in a blood bath on a massive scale in Afghanistan.  From any perspective, it is difficult to see how western interests could be served by Craddock’s macabre order.

In his letter ordering the military to exterminate multitudes of Afghanis from rural poppy farmers to chemists working in clandestine labs to mules to dealers on the unpaved streets of Afghanistan, Craddock defined his startling policy in surprisingly reckless and sweeping terms stating that it is, “no longer necessary to produce intelligence or other evidence that each particular drug trafficker or narcotics facility in Afghanistan meets the criteria of being a military objective.”  In effect, this declaration of shoot-to-kill orders targeting the illicit drug industry explicitly deleted the military objective of his role as the SACEUR and projected military power directly into the civilian sphere.

The Craddock Order literally granted a license to kill civilians to every NATO soldier under his command and required the soldiers to perpetrate a massacre of Afghani civilians who were merely ‘suspected’ of involvement in the drug trade.  Authorities in international law decry Craddock’s Order as a clear violation of a multitude of well-established legal principles.  For instance, the International Criminal Court is empowered to prosecute war criminals that order direct attacks against civilians and summary executions.

Following the reports of the Craddock scandal in the popular magazine, Der Spiegel, Germany is the epicenter of the anti-American political outrage.  Popular German politicians are now calling for the immediate removal of General Craddock from his post as SACEUR.  A conservative, pro-business German politician, Elke Hoff, described her reaction to the Craddock scandal, “What we need is a plan to fight drug cultivation, not a license to kill suspects without any evidence.” 

robert gatesThere can be little serious doubt that the Craddock scandal will rock the Pentagon and spill over into the political cauldron of Washington, DC.  Current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has made what now seem to be problematic statements about military doctrine vis a vis the global drug trade.  Last month, Gates stated, “If we have evidence that the drug labs and drug lords are supporting the Taliban, then they're fair game."  The legal distinction between Gates’ position and Craddock’s order might seem tenuous, but it is simply that Gates did not preclude the need for evidence to assassinate civilians in the drug trade, and Craddock granted carte blanche to commit masses of summary executions of the usual suspects sans, “intelligence or other evidence.”

In either case, the policy of expanding NATO and the US military doctrine to involve sweeping targeted assassinations and mass executions of foreign civilians allegedly involved in the drug trade clearly represents mission creep of global proportions.  Ironically, this expansion of the US War on Drugs comes in the first week of the term of a new president who promised drug reform in a high-profile speech that was reported on the pages of The Huffington Post by the Dean of the Howard University School of Law, Dr. Kurt Schmoke.

There can be little serious doubt that if Craddock’s Order were to become US policy it would trigger a new wave of anti-American protests from Afghanistan and Iraq to Colombia, where Plan Colombia is a controversial counter-narcotics operation that the UN, Noam Chomsky and others have criticized as US support for right-wing “death squads.”

US droneIn the first days of the Obama administration, Afghanistan and Pakistan have already become the scenes of tragedies caused by US drones that killed pockets of civilians.  It is interesting to note that in December, 2008 US military doctrine was modified to permit the bombing of drug labs if intelligence suggested that no more than ten civilians would be killed.  The timing of these alterations to US military doctrine and rules of engagement raises questions about the expanding role of the US military in a period when a new president has promised troop withdrawals from Iraq and the final phase of US operations in Afghanistan as well as military reform.

During the last phase of the presidential campaign, both Joe Biden and Barack Obama promised – to cool responses – that the US would surge troops in Afghanistan in pursuit of a what President Barack Obama described in his inaugural address as, “a hard-earned peace.”

Ten days into the Obama administration, it is already apparent that Afghanistan is morphing into a quagmire strikingly reminiscent of Vietnam.  At the same time, the role of the US military is shifting, perhaps, ominously for the hopes of reconstructing the global image of the United States of America in the post-Bush Era.

CRADDOCK HANDSGeneral Craddock is now said to be contemplating his future while preparing to write his memoires in preparation for his emergence as a neoconservative political candidate following in the footsteps of some of his predecessors as SACEUR:  Dwight D. Eisenhower; Alexander Haig, Jr. and Wesley Clark. 

Perhaps, General Craddock’s campaign strap line will echo Shakespeare:  Kill all the Drug Dealers!

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Comments (5)Add Comment
written by Entebbe1, February 03, 2009
If I recall correctly, Obama says that he wants transparency in and throughout his administration. Why, then, has this Craddock scandal been hush-hush? Is the US media still under the spell of Bush? Thanks for putting this issue on our radar screen.
written by aribra, February 04, 2009
This is the philosophical-practical end result of seeding Israeli unaccountability to ever wider areas of potential human crime.
It seems to spread ominously around, Sri Lanka one of the latest members of this despicable trend.
SACEUR chief Craddock is ever more the "natural"product of these Neo days...
We are slipping back into barbarism at a time Reason would have us evolve towards more empathy and synergetical cooperation...World Wide..!
All events have hidden unspeakable truths :^(
written by george in Toronto, February 04, 2009
Prior to NATO invading Afghanistan,there was no big drug problem . CIA has been known to be in the drug business.
NATO has no business being inthe east. How would Europe like if Iran invaded Iceland ? 911 attacks were not done by Arabs or Moslums. NATO UN CIA MOSSAD are America's tools for invasions and mass killings
Craddock's "Drug War"
written by Max Cadenhead, February 04, 2009
No surprize here. The American Military/Industrial complex sees meltdown coming. NATO's demise really scares the Complex...(Think of all the weapons and munitions the US supplies to "allies", read "cliient states".
Europe is truly better than this. NATO should go the way of the Warsaw Pact, and the quicker the better.
Obviously the US military now exists only as an extension of US corporations, and has probably been so since at least the last decade of the Nineteenth Century. Also, if everybody commits war crimes then, of course, there are no such things as war crimes. Wake up, Europe, and the US. We ARE better than this.
written by Reg Corleonis, February 06, 2009
Massacre thousands of peasant farmers? How quintessentially representative of the rampant butchery we associate with the Bush era. Why the hell Obama entangled his campaign with the Afghan war after demostrating so much acuity on the Iraq issue is beyond comprehension. As the American drones of death sow terror among Waziri tribespeople and the civilian death toll mounts, let Obama take note he will be judged just as harshly as his predecessor if not more so. NATO, get out of Afghanistan now!

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