Category Archives: War

Trump Challenges Pro-War Foreign Policy Elite, by Doug Bandow

Just using the term “crazy endless wars” makes Trump the most antiwar president in decades. From Doug Bandow at theamericanconservative.com:

Calls from experts to continue our current endeavors all fall flat. Intervention is the problem, not the solution.

President-elect Trump with retired Marine Corps General James Mattis, who would soon become Secretary of Defense, November 19, 2016. (By a katz/Shutterstock)

Trump and Biden Should Tell Americans When They Plan To Go to War, by Doug Bandow

What countries will the US defend, and under what circumstances? Inquiring minds would like answers from the two candidates. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

With the election just weeks away, both President Donald Trump and former vice president Joe Biden claim to be the best person to protect Americans in a dangerous world. Yet neither one has explained when they would take the U.S. into war.

Trump was recently asked whether he would let China “get away with” invading Taiwan. That’s an important question, which deserves an answer. What would the administration do? Most important, would the president authorize military action to defend the island state and attack the People’s Republic of China?

He responded: “China knows what I’m gonna do. China knows.” However, he wouldn’t say any more: “I think it’s an inappropriate place to talk about it. … This is just an inappropriate place to talk about it.”

Why is it inappropriate? The president said that PRC officials know. Why shouldn’t the American people know as well? Indeed, with an election just weeks away, he has an obligation to tell us what he would do. Voters should be able to evaluate his foreign policy judgment in deciding who to support.

No doubt offhand presidential comments can be unsettling. Trump knows that very well, indeed, almost every day, but it never stopped him before. Nor is he the only culprit. In 2001 President George W. Bush created a stir when he declared that he would do “whatever it took” to defend Taiwan. However, that controversy reflected the fact that he appeared to be breaking from past policy without have notified anyone in his administration. Moreover, he had not informed Beijing of his policy. Then-Chinese President Jiang Zemin certainly did not know what Bush was “gonna do.”

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The 9/11 Attacks: Understanding Al-Qaeda and the Domestic Fall-Out from America’s Secret War, by Sam Jacobs

This is a good review of the history surrounding 9/11. From Sam Jacobs at ammo.com:

With American military personnel now entering service who were not even alive on 9/11, this seems an appropriate time to reexamine the events of September 11, 2001 – the opaque motives for the attacks, the equally opaque motives for the counter-offensive by the United States and its allies known as the Global War on Terror, and the domestic fall-out for Americans concerned about the erosion of their civil liberties on the homefront.

Before venturing further, it’s worth noting that our appraisal is not among the most common explanations. Osama bin Laden, his lieutenants at Al-Qaeda, and the men who carried out the attack against the World Trade Centers and the Pentagon are not “crazy,” unhinged psychopaths launching an attack against the United States without what they consider to be good reason.

Nor do we consider then-President George W. Bush to be either a simpleton, a willing conspirator, an oil profiteer, or a Machivellian puppet whose cabinet were all too happy to take advantage of a crisis.

The American press tends to portray its leaders as fools and knaves, and America’s enemies as psychopathic. Because the propaganda machine hammered away so heavily on the simple “cowardly men who hate our freedom” line, there was not much in the way of careful consideration of the actual political motives of the hijackers, the Petro-Islam that funded them, the ancient, antagonistic split between Sunni and Shi’a, the fall-out from the 1979 Iranian revolution or the 1970s energy crisis, the historical context of covert American involvement in the Soviet-Afghan War and the Iran-Iraq War of the 1980s, nor the perceived “imperialist humanitarianism” of American military adventures of the 1990s in Muslim nations like Bosnia, Iraq, Somalia and Kosovo. Alone, none of these factors were deadly. Combined, they provided a lethal combination.

It is our considered opinion that the events of 9/11 and those that followed in direct response to the attacks – including the invasion of Iraq – were carried out by good faith rational actors who believed they were acting in the best interests of their religion or their nation. There are no conspiracy theories here; sometimes truth is stranger than fiction.

This opinion does not in any way absolve the principals from moral responsibility for the consequences of their actions. It does, however, provide what we believe to be a more accurate and nuanced depiction of events than is generally forthcoming from any sector of the media – because we see these principals as excellent chess players who, in the broad sweep of events, engaged in actions which are explicable.

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From 9/11 to the Great Reset By Pepe Escobar

From 9/11 to the Great Reset is a steep downhill ride for individual rights and freedom. From Pepe Escobar at lewrockwell.com:

The events of 9/11 were the foundation stone of the new millennium – ever as much indecipherable as the Mysteries of Eleusis. A year ago, for Asia Times, once again I raised a number of questions that still find no answer.

A lightning speed breakdown of the slings and arrows of outrageous (mis)fortune trespassing these two decades will certainly include the following:

The end of history. The short unipolar moment. The Pentagon’s Long War. Homeland security. The Patriot Act. Shock and Awe. The tragedy/debacle in Iraq. The 2008 financial crisis. The Arab Spring. Color revolutions. “Leading from behind.” Humanitarian imperialism.

Syria as the ultimate proxy war. The ISIS/Daesh farce. The JCPOA. Maidan. The Age of Psyops. The Age of the Algorithm. The Age of the 0.0001%.

Once again, we’re deep in Yeats territory: “the best lack all conviction/ while the worst are full of passionate intensity.”

All along, the “War on Terror” – the actual decantation of the Long War – proceeded unabated, killing Muslim multitudes and displacing at least 37 million people.

WWII-derived geopolitics is over. Cold War 2.0 is in effect. It started as US against Russia, morphed into US against China and now, fully spelled out in the US National Security Strategy, and with bipartisan support, it’s the US against both. The ultimate Mackinder-Brzezinski nightmare is at hand: the much dread “peer competitor” in Eurasia slouched towards the Beltway to be born in the form of the Russia-China strategic partnership.

Something’s gotta give. And then, out of the blue, it did.

A drive by design towards ironclad concentration of power and geoconomic diktats was first conceptualized – under the deceptive cover of “sustainable development” – already in 2015 at the UN (here it is, in detail).

Now, this new operating system – or technocratic digital dystopia – is finally being codified, packaged and “sold” since mid summer via a lavish, concerted propaganda campaign.

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Let’s Give Trump Some Credit—On Labor Day He Threw Down the Gauntlet to the Corrupt Military Brass, by Paul Craig Roberts

As he sometimes does, President Trump just came right out and spoke the truth: war is a very profitable racket, and that’s why US wars have become endless. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

Trump said that the Pentagon brass don’t love him, “because they want to do nothing but fight wars so that all of those wonderful companies that make the bombs and make the planes and make eveything else stay happy.”

President John F. Kennedy was assassinated by the military/security complex for making the same point (see, for example, JFK and the Unspeakable by James W. Douglass, Simon & Schuster, 2008).

The US military/security complex has had its crosshairs on Trump since his first presidential campaign when he said that he was going to normalize relations with Russia.  I don’t think Trump realized what a massive NO-NO this is.  Trump was telling the military-security complex that he was going to take away their concocted enemy that justifies the lucrative $1,000 billion annual budget paid by American taxpayers.

This enormous sum enriches a large number of companies along with the CIA’s power and budget. To tell a powerful institutionalized force that you are going to take away their justification for diverting increasingly scarce American resources into their bank accounts is to ask for assassination. President Trump is in the process of being assassinated, but it is not by bullets. Not even dumbshit Americans will believe another “lone assassin” story.  Trump is being assassinated with a coup—https://www.paulcraigroberts.org/2020/09/08/democrats-have-planned-a-coup-if-trump-wins-reelection/ .

The military/security complex responded to Trump’s policy of normalizing relations with Russia with “Russiagate,” an orchestration initiated by CIA director John Brennan and FBI director Comey.  The CIA has had the media in its pocket since Operation Mockingbird dating back to 1950—https://www.thedailybeast.com/cheats/2016/10/14/how-the-cia-paid-and-threatened-journalists-to-do-its-work.

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The Irrational Logic of Leaving Troops in Iraq, by Bonnie Kristian

The case for leaving troops in Iraq is just as solid and air-tight as the cases for leaving troops in Afghanistan and Syria. The only way for outsiders to win in the Middle East is to stay out. From Bonnie Kristian at nationalinterest.org:

Prolonging U.S. military intervention is making it more difficult for Iraq to achieve stability and sapping American defense resources.

raq does not need “direct and military support, and support on the ground” from the United States, new Iraqi prime minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi said in an interview last week before his visit to Washington. His country might want U.S. “cooperation and assistance” at different levels in the future, Al-Kadhimi allowed, depending on “the changing nature of terrorism’s threat.” But the support he mentioned—military training and arms provision—would be a marked drawdown from the current U.S. role in Iraq.

American policymakers should take notice. After seventeen years of fighting, the war in Iraq is a demonstrable failure—and yet a failure with no end in sight.

The Trump administration has repeatedly promised to draw down the U.S. military presence in Iraq, but it’s not clear President Donald Trump really wants to leave. Apparently unguided by any coherent strategy, he threatens further escalation as easily as he condemns the initial invasion. His passion for ending “endless wars” is perhaps not all-consuming.

There are about five thousand American troops in Iraq now, basically the same deployment level as when this administration began. When the Iraqi parliament in January demanded all foreign troops leave their country, the administration rejected the request. “At this time, any delegation sent to Iraq would be dedicated to discussing how best to recommit to our strategic partnership,” said the State Department, “not to discuss troop withdrawal.”

This is unsurprising, as key administration advisers evince no urgency toward departure: the commander of U.S. Central Command, Marine Corps Gen. Kenneth F. McKenzie Jr., is open about his belief that the United States should continue to occupy Iraq forever, perpetually on hand to combat remnants of the Islamic State or whatever group succeeds it. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo on Wednesday promised the U.S. military would be busy in Iraq for a long time to come, refusing to discuss the possibility of withdrawal, asking reporters “not to focus on that.”

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Neocons Levy False Attacks on Trump to Distract From Hideous Waste of Blood and Treasure Overseas, From Revolver

Assuming for the sake of argument that Trump did disparage US World War I soldiers buried in a European cemetery for a century, many of the neocons who have criticized those alleged remarks actually put US military personnel in cemeteries with the wars they’ve promoted. From the Revolver at revolver.news:

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For the past two days, the press and the entire political establishment have crawled out of the fetid swamp to launch one of their most deranged attacks yet on President Trump. They’ve accused him of the grave offense of ridiculing America’s fallen soldiers. This attack has only one goal. They do not want you, dear reader, to actually think deeply about who has really used and abused American’s bravest soldiers. The answer, unambiguously, is our utterly failed ruling class. America’s corrupt ruling class has recklessly sacrificed the precious blood of our brave warriors not for the betterment of America, but for the enrichment of Washington.

The claim, as reported by Jeffrey Goldberg in The Atlantic, is this:

When President Donald Trump canceled a visit to the Aisne-Marne American Cemetery near Paris in 2018, he blamed rain for the last-minute decision, saying that “the helicopter couldn’t fly” and that the Secret Service wouldn’t drive him there. Neither claim was true.

Trump rejected the idea of the visit because he feared his hair would become disheveled in the rain, and because he did not believe it important to honor American war dead, according to four people with firsthand knowledge of the discussion that day. In a conversation with senior staff members on the morning of the scheduled visit, Trump said, “Why should I go to that cemetery? It’s filled with losers.” In a separate conversation on the same trip, Trump referred to the more than 1,800 marines who lost their lives at Belleau Wood as “suckers” for getting killed.

On Memorial Day 2017, Trump visited Arlington National Cemetery, a short drive from the White House. He was accompanied on this visit by John Kelly, who was then the secretary of homeland security, and who would, a short time later, be named the White House chief of staff. The two men were set to visit Section 60, the 14-acre area of the cemetery that is the burial ground for those killed in America’s most recent wars. Kelly’s son Robert is buried in Section 60. A first lieutenant in the Marine Corps, Robert Kelly was killed in 2010 in Afghanistan. He was 29. Trump was meant, on this visit, to join John Kelly in paying respects at his son’s grave, and to comfort the families of other fallen service members. But according to sources with knowledge of this visit, Trump, while standing by Robert Kelly’s grave, turned directly to his father and said, “I don’t get it. What was in it for them?” [The Atlantic]

There is, of course, no evidence that this ever happened. Goldberg cites only unnamed sources who have refused to go on the record. Plenty of on-the-record people deny it. Even Donald Trump’s mortal enemy, John Bolton, denied the charge.

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Time To Halt America’s Endless War in Afghanistan, by Doug Bandow

It there was ever a war the US could just walk away from, it’s the nineteen year Afghanistan fiasco. From Doug Bandow at antiwar.com:

t isn’t easy to analyze President Donald Trump’s foreign policy. It is at times reckless and foolish. And the president has failed to fulfill his promises to halt America’s “endless wars.” Yet, unlike his predecessors going back to Ronald Reagan, Trump has not started any new or joined any old conflicts. Today that passes for a major achievement.

In Afghanistan the president has an opportunity to close out America’s involvement. He apparently intends to nominate Will Ruger, a vice president at the Charles Koch Institute who has worked to promote nonintervention and restraint in the academic and policy worlds.

As a Naval Reserve intelligence officer Ruger served in Afghanistan. He recently pressed the administration to end America’s almost 20-year participation in the Afghan civil war. He warned against allowing “a withdrawal deal to be bogged down by conditions that aren’t necessary for America’s safety.”

The US currently has about 8000 military personnel in Afghanistan. That number is supposed to fall below 5000 by election day, but the Pentagon is desperate to retain a presence in the country. And being there makes it a lot easier for a future president to reverse direction. The result could be another 20 years or more.

Afghanistan demonstrates how war is precisely the sort of “big government” program that conservatives should hate: disruptive, inefficient, expensive. Filled with bad incentives. Attempted social engineering on a massive scale. Harmful to human life. And almost impossible to end, no matter how foolish.

If Washington cannot quit Afghanistan after two decades, the US is destined to be at war forever. It is hard to imagine a commitment less relevant to American security.

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Get Out of Syria, by Daniel Larison

The thinking of the American military-industrial-intelligence complex is that once you’re in a country, you can’t just say it was a mistake getting in and get out. From Daniel Larison at theamericanconservative.com:

Having failed to overthrow the government there, we’re now penalizing the civilian population for our failure. Enough is enough.

AFP via Getty Images

Why are there still thousands of American troops in Syria? The government offers up an official counter-terrorism justification for maintaining an illegal military presence in the country, and the president will sometimes talk about “keeping the oil” there, but the real answer is that no one with any authority or influence in Washington wants to bring them home. The usual mix of inertia, cowardice, and ideology that defines so many of our foreign policy debates also creates perverse incentives for politicians in both parties to defend an illegal, unauthorized mission that has nothing to do with American security.

U.S. troops are in harm’s way in Syria, and they are occasionally engaged in hostilities with pro-regime forces. Four American soldiers were injured in a collision last Wednesday between their armored vehicle and a Russian one. That was just the latest in a string of clashes between U.S. forces and Syrian and Russian government forces that has been going on for months. Last month, a group of American troops came under fire from Syrian government forces. The Syrians claim that a U.S. helicopter had attacked a Syrian government outpost and killed one of their soldiers. There was a bigger clash in February of this year that also resulted in at least one Syrian fatality. These have all been minor incidents, but they show how potentially dangerous it is to keep these troops there.

The longer those troops remain in a country where they aren’t wanted, the more likely it is that some of them will end up getting seriously injured or killed. That would be a senseless waste of lives, and could trigger a larger conflict that could claim many more. Even if the U.S. avoids the worst-case scenario of a new war, there is still no good reason for American troops to be in Syria. All of them need to be pulled out as soon as possible.

 

NATO’s ‘Unified Front’ at Breaking Point, by Danny Sjursen

With its original reason for being vanquished in 1991, how much longer can NATO last? From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Last month, a Turkish warship came one step away from firing missiles at a French naval vessel off the coast of Libya. In response, Paris suspended its involvement in Operation Sea Guardian – a multinational maritime effort to provide security in the Mediterranean Sea and halt the arms trafficking fueling Libya’s ongoing civil war. Initially, only eight member states – notably excluding both the U.S. and U.K. – supported France’s official complaint. This was only the latest incident in the increasingly frequent – and exceedingly awkward – tensions between several of Washington’s core North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) allies. Indeed, from South America to East Asia, NATO members stand divided over many critical foreign policy issues of the moment.

On the subject of NATO – as with much else – President Trump is obtuse and ill-informed. Only here he isn’t exactly wrong. In fact, recent events raise serious questions about the 70-year old alliance’s lingering relevance and utility – as in what, so to speak, NATO is for?

Sure, The Donald is hardly a bridge-builder, but the media’s temptation to blame him alone for NATO’s growing fissures ultimately misses the mark – and the backstory. While his foreign policy fiascoes have widened its divisions, the alliance’s inherent contractions and hypocrisies preceded Mr. Trump. Indeed, some of the current fracture traces back to NATO’s complicated genesis; the rest, mainly, to the problematic pivot after the collapse of its justification-boogeyman – the Soviet Union – and its leading American member’s hyper-imperial post-9/11 turn.

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