Category Archives: Military

Enormous Crowds at Iraq’s Million Man March Tell America to Leave for Good, by Alan Macleod

The US can’t take a hint, but a message coming from 2.5 million people is pretty unmistakeable. From Alan Macleod at mintpressnews.com:

An estimated 2.5 million Iraqis descended on Baghdad to stage a “Million Man March” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of their country.

People from all over Iraq have descended upon its capital Baghdad, heeding the call from influential Shia cleric Muqtada al-Sadr for a “million man march” calling for an end to the nearly 17 year-long U.S. occupation of the country. Images from the event show seas of peaceful crowds walking together through the city center. Sayed Sadiq al-Hashemi, the director of the Iraqi Center for Studies, estimated that more than 2.5 million took part in the demonstrations. While there are many divisions in Iraqi society, marchers hope to send a united message against American imperialism.

“Pompeo keeps going on about respecting Iraqi sovereignty. Well Iraqis want you out of their country,” said Lebanese-American journalist Rania Khalek, adding that the recent U.S. assassination of Major General Qassem Soleimani of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) has seriously backfired, leading to a huge show of anti-American sentiment. She also took aim at the media coverage; “Whenever a couple hundred people protest against Iran, ittrends on twitter. Yet when hundreds of thousands in Iraq protest against the US? No trending,” she said.

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Analysis: The Pentagon has a credibility problem, and it’s only getting worse, by Andrew Clevenger

Actually, the Pentagon has had a credibility problem since at least the Vietnam War, when it kept assuring the American people that there was a light at the end of the tunnel. From Andrew Clevenger at rollcall.com:

The Defense Department’s waffling on casualties from Jan. 8 Iran strike latest in a growing trend

Americans breathed a collective sigh of relief when, the morning after Iran’s Jan. 8 ballistic missile attack on Al Asad air base in Iraq, Defense Department leaders said there were “no casualties.”

That initial assessment hasn’t held up, and neither have the department’s varying statements on the matter since then.

The Pentagon confirmed Friday that 34 personnel have been diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries or concussions from the strike. While half have subsequently returned to duty, 17 continue to be treated in Germany and the United States, Jonathan Hoffman, the Pentagon’s chief spokesman, told reporters.

In the intervening weeks, details on the wounded have been reported in dribs and drabs, from eight initially, to 11. On Wednesday, a top commander in Iraq told reporters the number of injured was “in the teens.”

In the midst of this, President Donald Trump weighed in, saying Wednesday in Davos, Switzerland, that he “heard that they had headaches and a couple of other things.” He added: “But I would say, and I can report, it is not very serious, not very serious.”

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Cruelty to Animals Gets More Media Coverage than Beheaded Christians, by Giulio Meotti

Christians are being slaughtered for their religion in Nigeria and the world cares very little. From Giulio Meotti at gatestoneinstitute.org:

  • The Bishops’ Conference of Nigeria described the area as “killing fields”, like the ones the Khmer Rouge created in Cambodia to exterminate the population.
  • “We are Aramaic people and we don’t have this right to have anyone protect us? Look upon us as frogs, we’ll accept that — just protect us so we can stay in our land”. — Nicodemus Daoud Sharaf, the Syrian Orthodox Archbishop of Mosul the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, home to many of the Christians who fled jihadis, National Catholic Register, April 7, 2017.
  • In an era of round-the-clock information… the abominations suffered by Christians have been left without images, while the brutality against the Chinese pig was streamed all over. Christians are an endangered species; pigs are not.
  • One of the last Nigerian Christians was executed by an Islamic State child soldier. Slaughterhouses’ workers go on trial in France for abuses to animals. But the same France has already repatriated more than 250 ISIS fighters, the same people who turn Iraqi churches into slaughterhouses.

First there was the beheading of 11 Nigerian Christians during the recent Christmas celebration. The next day, a Catholic woman, Martha Bulus, was beheaded in the Nigerian state of Borno with her bridesmaids, five days before the wedding. Then there was a raid on the village of Gora-Gan in the Nigerian state of Kaduna, where terrorists shot anyone they met in the square where the evangelical community had gathered, killing two young Christian women. There was also a Christian student killed by Islamic extremists who recorded his execution. Then pastor Lawan Andimi, a local leader of the Christian Association of Nigeria, was beheaded.

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A Pattern of Passing Up Peace, by Ted Snider

For the warfare state, peace is the worst possible prospect. From Ted Snider at antiwar.com:

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear agreement with Iran was working. Iran was consistently in compliance, the US and Iran were talking and diplomacy was working. Then Trump turned his back on peace, shattered the diplomacy and resuscitated the hostile relation with Iran.

This pass that Trump took on peace was not the first time the US had been offered peace by Iran and passed it up. In 2003, Iranian president Seyyed Mohammad Khatami and Ayatollah Ali Khamenei approved a comprehensive nuclear proposal that they offered to President George W. Bush. Bush ignored the overture and refused to respond.

Illegally pulling out of the JCPOA was not only not the first time the US took a pass on an Iranian offer of peace, it was also not the last. Iranian general Qassem Suleimani went to Baghdad to deliver Iran’s response to a Saudi de-escalation overture. A de-escalation of violence between the leaders of the Sunni and Shi’ite worlds might go a long way toward potentially calming the middle east. So, the US assassinated him.

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The American Chaos Machine, by Danny Sjursen

It is inevitable, given the trend towards decentralized violence, that any attempt at centralized violence such as the US’s many invasions would result only in chaos. From Danny Sjursen at tomdispatch.com:

U.S. Foreign Policy Goes Off the Rails

In March 1906, on the heels of the U.S. Army’s massacre of some 1,000 men, women, and children in the crater of a volcano in the American-occupied Philippines, humorist Mark Twain took his criticism public. A long-time anti-imperialist, he flippantly suggested that Old Glory should be redesigned “with the white stripes painted black and the stars replaced by the skull and cross-bones.”

I got to thinking about that recently, five years after I became an antiwar dissenter (while still a major in the U.S. Army), and in the wake of another near-war, this time with Iran. I was struck yet again by the way every single U.S. military intervention in the Greater Middle East since 9/11 has backfiredin wildly counterproductive ways, destabilizing a vast expanse of the planet stretching from West Africa to South Asia.

Chaos, it seems, is now Washington’s stock-in-trade. Perhaps, then, it’s time to resurrect Twain’s comment — only today maybe those stars on our flag should be replaced with the universal symbol for chaos.After all, our present administration, however unhinged, hardly launched this madness. President Trump’s rash, risky, and repugnant decision to assassinate Iranian Major General Qassem Suleimani on the sovereign soil of Iraq was only the latest version of what has proven to be a pervasive state of affairs. Still, that and Trump’s other recent escalations in the region do illustrate an American chaos machine that’s gone off the rails. And the very manner — I’m loathe to call it a “process” — by which it’s happened just demonstrates the way this president has taken American chaos to its dark but logical conclusion.

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Trump’s Katyusha Conundrum, by William Walter Kay

Katyusha artillery rockets are playing a substantial but virtually unnoticed role in the Middle East. From William Walter Kay at antiwar.org:

Katyushas are short-range, unguided artillery rockets typically fired in salvos from truck-mounted launch-tubes. Iraq’s insurgents deploy three types.

The smallest is 107 millimeters in diameter and 1 meter long. Its 19 kilogram weight includes an 8 kg high-explosive, shrapnel-bearing warhead. The 107mm is often fired from a 12-tube launcher, however, infantry-portable single-tube tripods are common. An experienced crew with a standardized weapon can hit a 400 X 400 meter target from 8 kilometers away. During the Vietnam War the US Army considered the 107mm to be their adversaries’ most formidable weapon.

The 122mm ‘Grad’ Katyusha is 3 meters long and weighs 75 kg. Its warhead spans a third of its length and weighs 18 kg. It has a 20-kilometer range and a 30-meter lethal radius.

220mm Katyushas hurl 100 kg warheads 30 kilometers.

Katyushas have advantages over mortars. They deliver the same payload twice the distance and they fire multiple ordnance more rapidly. The globally ubiquitous BM-21 Grad fires forty 122mm rockets in three minutes. Reloading takes 10 minutes. Thus, Katyushas excel at “shoot-and-scoot” operations. As well, Katyushas’ flat trajectories permit line-of-sight attacks and their 700 meter-per-second velocities provide unique anti-building potential.

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Never the Pentagon, by Mandy Smithberger

In Washington, nothing succeeds quite like failure, and the military-industrial complex is the prime example. From Mandy Smithberger at tomdispatch.com:

How The Military-Industrial Complex Gets Away With Murder in Contract After Contract

Call it a colossal victory for a Pentagon that hasn’t won a war in this century, but not for the rest of us. Congress only recently passed and the president approved one of the largest Pentagon budgets ever. It will surpass spending at the peaks of both the Korean and Vietnam wars. As last year ended, as if to highlight the strangeness of all this, the Washington Post broke a story about a “confidential trove of government documents” — interviews with key figures involved in the Afghan War by the Office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction — revealing the degree to which senior Pentagon leaders and military commanders understood that the war was failing. Yet, year after year, they provided “rosy pronouncements they knew to be false,” while “hiding unmistakable evidence that the war had become unwinnable.”

However, as the latest Pentagon budget shows, no matter the revelations, there will be no reckoning when it comes to this country’s endless wars or its military establishment — not at a moment when President Donald Trump is sending yet more U.S. military personnel into the Middle East and has picked a new fight with Iran. No less troubling: how few in either party in Congress are willing to hold the president and the Pentagon accountable for runaway defense spending or the poor performance that has gone with it.

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