Category Archives: Military

Netanyahu Is Meeting Trump To Push For War With Iran, by Trita Parsi

Benjamin Netanyahu has long dreamed of a US war waged against Iran, notwithstanding that the last two war Netanyahu thought the US should fight—Iraq and Syria—haven’t turned out too well for the US. From Trita Parsi at antiwar.com:

Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Donald Trump at the White House and push the U.S. to withdraw from the nuclear accord with Iran. Netanyahu will present an argument that Trump already has come to accept: America’s adherence to the nuclear deal cannot solely depend on Iran’s compliance with the agreement, but also whether Iran’s other policies challenge US national interests. It’s a more honest argument compared to the slogans Netanyahu has used in the past. But it is also a line that fundamentally contradicts Netanyahu’s central message of the past decades: That Iran’s nuclear program constitutes an existential threat to Israel.

The Trump administration has desperately sought a pretext to quit the nuclear deal and shed the limits the deal imposed on the US’s ability to pursue aggressive policies against Iran – even if it also sheds the limits the deal imposed on Iran’s nuclear activities. The latest idea is to use the Congressional certification – due every 90 days – where the president has to report to Congress on whether Iran is complying with the deal or not. But unlike the reports by the International Atomic Energy Agency – who is tasked to oversee the implementation of the nuclear deal – the president’s report to Congress goes beyond the nuclear issue: Trump must also report whether the suspension of sanctions against Iran is “appropriate and proportionate to the measures taken by Iran and vital to US national security interests.”

The Trump plan – as telegraphed by several administration officials – is to certify that Iran is in compliance with the deal (Trump has no leg to stand on to claim otherwise – both the IAEA and the US intelligence services have consistently reported that Tehran is living up to its obligations), but to argue that the deal and its sanctions relief nevertheless is unjustified due to Iran’s policies in the region that are anathema to US national security interests.

To continue reading: Netanyahu Is Meeting Trump To Push For War With Iran

Advertisements

America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup, by Stephen Kinzer

WASHINGTON, DC - AUGUST 28: (L-R) National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, White House Chief of Staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence attend a joint news conference with U.S. President Donald Trump and Finnish President Sauli Niinisto in the East Room of the White House August 28, 2017 in Washington, DC. The two leaders discussed security in the Baltic Sea region, NATO and Russia during their meeting. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images) *** BESTPIX ***

CHIP SOMODEVILLA/GETTY IMAGES/FILE

National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster and White House chief of staff John Kelly watched a presidential appearance alongside Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Vice President Mike Pence in August.

In a democracy, no one should be comforted to hear that generals have imposed discipline on an elected head of state. That was never supposed to happen in the United States. Now it has.

Among the most enduring political images of the 20th century was the military junta. It was a group of grim-faced officers — usually three — who rose to control a state. The junta would tolerate civilian institutions that agreed to remain subservient, but in the end enforced its own will. As recently as a few decades ago, military juntas ruled important countries including Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and Greece.

These days the junta system is making a comeback in, of all places, Washington. Ultimate power to shape American foreign and security policy has fallen into the hands of three military men: General James Mattis, the secretary of defense; General John Kelly, President Trump’s chief of staff; and General H.R. McMaster, the national security adviser. They do not put on their ribbons to review military parades or dispatch death squads to kill opponents, as members of old-style juntas did. Yet their emergence reflects a new stage in the erosion of our political norms and the militarization of our foreign policy. Another veil is dropping.

Given the president’s ignorance of world affairs, the emergence of a military junta in Washington may seem like welcome relief. After all, its three members are mature adults with global experience — unlike Trump and some of the wacky political operatives who surrounded him when he moved into the White House. Already they have exerted a stabilizing influence. Mattis refuses to join the rush to bomb North Korea, Kelly has imposed a measure of order on the White House staff, and McMaster pointedly distanced himself from Trump’s praise for white nationalists after the violence in Charlottesville.

To continue reading: America’s Slow-Motion Military Coup

Rand Paul’s Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State, by Ron Paul

The last thing Congress wants to do is assert its own constitutionally granted war powers, but Ron Paul sees some reason for optimism. From Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reminded Congress that in matters of war, they have the authority and the responsibility to speak for the American people. Most Senators were not too happy about the reminder, which came in the form of a forced vote on whether to allow a vote on his amendment to repeal the Afghanistan and Iraq war resolutions of 2001 and 2002.

It wasn’t easy. Sen. Paul had to jump through hoops just to get a vote on whether to have a vote.

That is how bad it is in Congress! Not only does Congress refuse to rein in presidents who treat Constitutional constraints on their war authority as mere suggestions rather than as the law of the land, Congress doesn’t even want to be reminded that they alone have war authority.

Congress doesn’t even want to vote on whether to vote on war!

In the end, Sen. Paul did not back down and he got his vote. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that nearly 40 percent of the Senate voted with Rand to allow a vote on repealing authority for the two longest wars in US history. I expected less than a dozen “no” votes on tabling the amendment and was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Last week, Rand said, “I don’t think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago … authorized war in seven different countries.”

Are more Senators starting to see the wars his way? We can only hope so. As polls continue to demonstrate, the American people have grown tired of our interventionist foreign policy, which burns through trillions of dollars while making the world a more dangerous place rather than a safer place.

To continue reading; Rand Paul’s Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State

Kill Anything That Moves: Dereliction of Duty, Part One, by Robert Gore

History is not always written by the winners.

I, _____, do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.

United States Army Oath of Enlistment

The Vietnam Memorial lists over 58,000 dead. Many more sustained serious, life-altering wounds, physical and psychological. If only we had taken off the kid gloves, goes the refrain, we wouldn’t have lost in Vietnam. We didn’t bring to bear the full weight of American firepower, and our “warriors” were hampered by senseless, politically driven rules of engagement.

In one sense the refrain is true. The US didn’t carpet bomb North and South Vietnam with nuclear weapons. That kid glove stayed on. Other than that, the assertion is complete bunk.

Between 1965 and 1972, the US and South Vietnam air forces flew 3.4 million combat sorties, the plurality over South Vietnam. Their bombing was the equivalent of 640 Hiroshima-sized atomic bombs, and South Vietnam got the brunt of it. The provincial capital district of Quang Tri, the northernmost South Vietnamese province, received 3,000 bombs per square kilometer. Between 1965 and 1973, the US Strategic Air Command launched at least 126,615 B-52 bomber sorties, again the majority of them targeted to South Vietnam.

In 1969, US units fired 10 million artillery rounds, and over the course of the war they expended almost 15 billions pounds of artillery shells. By the end of the war, formerly scenic South Vietnam featured an estimated 21 million craters, which wreaked havoc on the landscape and largely destroyed its agricultural-based economy. Keep in mind South Vietnam was the US’s ally. North Vietnam, the enemy, also sustained massive casualties and destruction.

Bombs and munitions weren’t the US’s only weapons. An estimated 400,000 tons of napalm, a jellied incendiary designed to stick to clothes and skin and burn, were dropped in Southeast Asia. Thirty-five percent of victims die within fifteen to twenty minutes. White phosphorus, another incendiary, burns when exposed to air and keeps burning, often through an entire body, until oxygen is cut off. The US Air Force bought more than 3 million white phosphorus rockets during the war, and the military bought 379 million M-34 white phosphorus grenades in 1969 alone. The US also sprayed more than 70 million tons of herbicide, usually Agent Orange, further decimating indigenous agriculture and destroying the countryside.

A “pineapple” cluster bomblet was a small container filled with 250 steel pellets. One B-52 could drop 1,000 pineapples across a 400-yard area, spewing 250,000 pellets. “Guava” cluster bombs were loaded with 640 to 670 bomblets, each with 300 steel pellets, so a single guava sent over 200,000 steel fragments in all directions when it hit the ground. Pineapples and guavas were designed to maim, to tax the enemy’s medical and support systems. Between 1964 and 1971, the US military ordered 37 million pineapples. From 1966 to 1971, it ordered 285 million guavas, or seven each for every man woman and child in North and South Vietnam, Laos, and Cambodia combined.

No other conclusion is possible: the US waged unrestricted (other than not using nuclear weapons) industrial war against the far less well-armed Viet Cong and North Vietnamese Army.

Most Americans think the My Lai massacre was an unfortunate anomaly. That delusion is a lingering tragedy of Vietnam. Plenty of villages were burned and leveled, farm animals and crops destroyed, and unarmed and visibly helpless women, children, and old people—generally counted as VC in the often meretricious statistics—murdered. Some of the villages contained Viet Cong, some did not, and that was often not the first concern or even a cited justification for US troops. The slaughter was frequently wanton, or indiscriminate vengeance for American troops killed or wounded, not to fight the enemy.

In 1964, 40 percent of the South Vietnamese countryside was considered under Viet Cong control or influence and was thus a free-fire zone: shoot first, ask questions later. By 1968, according to a US Senate study, an estimated 300,000 South Vietnamese, or over five times the US personnel killed during the entire war, had been killed in free-fire zones. That its rules of engagement prevented the US military from killing anyone in Vietnam is an obscene distortion of reality. My Lai was anomalous only because it was publicized and some of its perpetrators were brought before military justice.

All figures and policies cited are from Nick Turse’s meticulously documented study Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War In Vietnam (American Empire Project) (Metropolitan Books, 2013), which relies primarily on US government archives and sources, and interviews with former military personnel. It’s an excellent book that many Americans should read but few will (it should be required reading for anyone entering the US military or the State Department). Americans would rather stare at their bloodshot eyes and distorted faces in the mirror after a night of drink, debauchery, and dinner discharge than glance at Vietnam.

The war shattered many of those who fought it. There was the inevitable combat violence and horror, and the depravity of murder and destruction inflicted upon innocents. Many turned to drugs, readily available, and many worked the various rackets themselves: drugs, weapons, currencies and military scrip, pimping, and child trafficking.

Over a relatively short period of time, you begin to treat all of the Vietnamese as though they are the enemy. If you can’t tell, you shoot first and ask questions later.

W.D. Ehrhart, quoted in Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War In Vietnam

The quote frames the moral void and the intellectual paradox at the heart of Vietnam: if everyone is your enemy, for who and for what are you fighting? When the devastation and death you’ve inflicted on your ally are greater than what you’ve inflicted on the ostensible enemy, how can you pretend that your ally will not become your enemy? What are you doing there?

A few bought off sycophants within your satrapy will always spout the party line, but out there in the countryside, hamlets, villages, towns, and cities you’ve destroyed, you will be hated and your enemy succored. Common nationality and heritage—and a history of oppression by a string of imperial powers—will inevitably triumph over your money, arms, and feeble “hearts and minds” programs, all designed to cover your imperialistic designs. No one with an ounce of brains and intellectual integrity is fooled, particularly not your own soldiers in the field.

It was almost impossible for those soldiers to question the policies that required them to do what they did, much less oppose or expose them. The risks ranged from ostracism to discipline, court-martial and military prison to death by friendly fire. Any effort would almost certainly have been futile, changing nothing.

But what about the military’s upper echelon? How did it acquiesce to a war that was destroying the country it was ostensibly meant to save, killing the people it was ostensibly meant to protect, clearly and understandably turning allies into enemies, and taking the lives and souls of the soldiers in their charge who had to fight it? Where were they, and where have they been since then as the US government has repeated the same mistaken policies over and over again? Have they supported and defended “the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic,” bearing “true faith and allegiance” to the same?

There are more civilians killed here per day than VC either by accident or on purpose and that’s just plain murder. I’m not surprised that there are more VC. We make more VC than we kill by the way these people are treated. I won’t go into detail but some of the things that take place would make you ashamed of good old America.

From the dairy of US Marine Ed Austin as quoted in Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War In Vietnam

Next: Betrayal by the Brass: Dereliction of Duty, Part 2

WHEN HONOR WAS MORE THAN JUST A WORD

AMAZON

KINDLE

NOOK

Harvard’s Cowardice on Chelsea Manning, by Robert Parry

Chelsea Manning exposed war crimes but Harvard withdraws a fellowship at the insistence of a war criminal. From Robert Parry at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: In an abject display of intellectual cowardice, Harvard’s Kennedy School withdrew a fellowship from Chelsea Manning after hearing protests from accomplices in the war crimes she exposed, reports Robert Parry.

Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government has shown that it is no profile in courage by withdrawing a visiting fellowship that had been awarded to Chelsea Manning, who served seven years in prison for revealing U.S. war crimes committed in Iraq and Afghanistan.

U.S. Army Pvt. Chelsea (formerly Bradley) Manning.

The Kennedy School caved in to pressure from people who shared in responsibility for those and other crimes, including former CIA Deputy Director Michael Morell, who resigned his own fellowship in protest and denounced Manning as “a convicted felon and leaker of classified information.”

Of course, it is also true that Martin Luther King Jr. was jailed for criminal violations pertaining to his protests against “legal” injustices — as was South Africa’s Nelson Mandela. Manning represented perhaps America’s quintessential prisoner of conscience of this decade, someone who was severely punished for exposing wrongdoing.

After serving in Iraq as an Army intelligence analyst and witnessing the often-cavalier attitude toward killing Afghans and Iraqis, Manning decided to release thousands of classified documents, including what WikiLeaks labeled the “Collateral Murder” video of a U.S. helicopter gunship mowing down Iraqis and two Reuters journalists on a Baghdad street. Manning’s decision was an act of moral courage at a time when American Officialdom was violating a host of international laws with impunity.

Indeed, what was almost as troubling as the war crimes themselves was that virtually no one from the presidencies of George W. Bush and Barack Obama was punished for their criminal actions, especially for committing what the Nuremberg Tribunals deemed the “supreme international crime,” the crime of “aggressive war.”

Bush was allowed to retire to a quiet life as an artist; many of his senior national officials have gone on to comfy jobs in the corporate and academic worlds; and Obama has already begun to hit the lucrative lecture circuit. But Manning served seven hard years in prison and has now been further humiliated by Harvard’s cowardice.

In the explanation of the hasty late-night decision to withdraw Manning’s fellowship, the school’s dean Douglas Elmendorf wrote, “I see more clearly now that many people view a visiting fellow title as an honorific, so we should weigh that consideration when offering invitations.”

To continue reading: Harvard’s Cowardice on Chelsea Manning

The Neoconservatives Have Declared War on the Realists, by Ryan McMaken

A better title for this article would have been: “The Unrealists Have Declared War on the Realists.” From Ryan McMaken at mises.org:

In recent years, I’ve increasingly suspected that when it comes to foreign policy, the realists offer some of the most sane observations.

These suspicions were confirmed earlier this year when after the election of Donald Trump, John Mearsheimer, one of modern realism’s current standard bearers, wrote in The National Interest that Trump should “adopt a realist foreign policy” and outlines a far better foreign policy agenda that what we’ve seen coming from Washington.

And what is this realist foreign policy? For Mearsheimer, some main tenets include:

  • Accepting that the US attempt at nation building in Afghanistan, Egypt, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen “has been an abject failure.”
  • “Washington [should] respect the sovereignty of other states even when it disagrees with their internal policies.”
  • “Spreading democracy, especially by force, almost always fails.”
  • Understanding that “America’s terrorism problem … is fueled in part by the U.S. military presence on Arab territory as well as the endless wars the United States has waged in the greater Middle East.”
  • “The Trump administration should let local powers deal with ISIS.”
  • Recognizing that Russia poses no real threat to the United States: “Even if Russia modernizes its economy and its population grows in the years ahead — big ifs — it will still be unable to project significant military power beyond eastern Europe.”
  • “A Syria run by Assad poses no threat to the United States”
  • “The new president should also work to improve relations with Iran.”
  • “Encourage the Europeans to take responsibility for their own security, while gradually reducing the remaining U.S. troops there.”

To continue reading: The Neoconservatives Have Declared War on the Realistshttps://mises.org/blog/neoconservatives-have-declared-war-realists

Germany Launches Probe After Pentagon’s Syrian Arms Smuggling Story Goes Viral, by Tyler Durden

The Pentagon is still sending Syria rebels arms. Germany wants to investigate. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

The German government has opened a probe into an illegal Pentagon arms trafficking operation after a bombshell investigative report on the secret program went viral this week.

On Wednesday we reported on the continuing Pentagon arms pipeline to Syria which runs through Europe, the Balkans, and Caucuses, and which is based on a shady network of private contractors and altered US government paperwork. The Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) and the Balkan Investigative Reporting Network (BIRN) produced conclusive evidence and internal memos proving that not only is the Pentagon currently involved in shipping up to $2.2 billion worth of (mostly old Soviet) weapons from private dealers to US-backed Syrian militants, but is actually manipulating paperwork such as end-user certificates in order to conceal the ultimate destinations of the weaponry (in this case Syria).

The new investigation also confirms Bulgarian journalist Dilyana Gaytandzhieva’s prior findings, which exposed the role of Azerbaijan-operated Silk Way Airlines in the weapons airlifts. Though independent journalists and regional monitoring groups have been digging into the Pentagon arms shipments throughout the summer, mainstream European and American press were reluctant to cover the story, even as a steady flow of incontrovertible proof emerged online in the form of documents, photos, and videos of mysterious cargo planes being loaded with weapons. Over the past two weeks WikiLeaks has also highlighted the emerging details of a developing story which saw at least one journalist come under scrutiny by European security officials.

To continue reading: Germany Launches Probe After Pentagon’s Syrian Arms Smuggling Story Goes Viral