Category Archives: War

All along the watchtower: The follies of history, by Pepe Escobar

The US wants to bring China to heel; there’s no way China is going to allow that to happen. From Pepe Escobar at asiatimes.com:

All along the watchtower: The follies of history

Bayon temple, Angkor World Heritage site in Siem Reap, northern Cambodia. File pic by Bruno Morandi, Robert Harding Heritage / AFP
The ultimate American imperial dream is to engineer a Chinese vassal state

There must be some kind of way outta here
Said the joker to the thief
There’s too much confusion
I can’t get no relief

Business men, they drink my wine
Plowmen dig my earth
None were level on the mind
Nobody up at his word

-Bob Dylan, All Along the Watchtower (immortalized by Jimi Hendrix)

Nothing beats the beguiling, stony smiles at the Bayon temple near Angkor Wat in Cambodia’s Siem Reap to plunge us back into history’s vortex, re-imagining how empires, in their endless pursuit of power, rise and fall, usually because they eventually get the very war they had sought to avoid.

The Bayon was built as a state temple at the end of the 12th century by the undisputed superstar of Khmer empires, Jayavarman VII. Its magical narrative reliefs convey a mix of history and mythology while depicting daily life in Khmer society.

We still don’t know today the identity of the faces shown on the temple’s giant stone carvings. They could be a representation of Brahma, or of Jayavarman himself – a practicing Buddhist. What we do know is that the glorious Khmer empire – incomparable in art and architecture, and even benign in the sense that the mandate for power was based on the king’s relationship with the gods, started to fade after the 15th century, dismembered by war against the Thai and later the Vietnamese.

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When, If Ever, Can We Lay This Burden Down? by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US should quit playing global cop, not just for the sake of the globe, but for its own survival. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

Friday, President Donald Trump met in New Jersey with his national security advisers and envoy Zalmay Khalilzad, who is negotiating with the Taliban to bring about peace, and a U.S. withdrawal from America’s longest war.

U.S. troops have been fighting in Afghanistan since 2001, in a war that has cost 2,400 American lives.

Following the meeting, Trump tweeted, “Many on the opposite sides of this 19 year war, and us, are looking to make a deal — if possible!”

Some, however, want no deal; they are fighting for absolute power.

Saturday, a wedding in Kabul with a thousand guests was hit by a suicide bomber who, igniting his vest, massacred 63 people and wounded 200 in one of the greatest atrocities of the war. ISIS claimed responsibility.

Monday, 10 bombs exploded in restaurants and public squares in the eastern city of Jalalabad, wounding 66.

Trump is pressing Khalilzad to negotiate drawdowns of U.S. troop levels from the present 14,000, and to bring about a near-term end to U.S. involvement in a war that began after we overthrew the old Taliban regime for giving sanctuary to Osama bin Laden.

Is it too soon to ask: What have we gained from our longest war? Was all the blood and treasure invested worth it? And what does the future hold?

If the Taliban could not be defeated by an Afghan army, built up by the U.S. for a decade and backed by 100,000 U.S. troops in 2010-2011, then are the Taliban likely to give up the struggle when the U.S. is drawing down the last 14,000 troops and heading home?

The Taliban control more of the country than they have at any time since being overthrown in 2001. And time now seems to be on their side.

Why have they persevered, and prevailed in parts of the country?

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Dirty little wars and the law: Did Osama bin Laden win? By David M. Crane

If Osama bin Laden was trying to cast the US as an illegal, imperialist power, he did a pretty good job. From David M. Crane at thehill.com:

“Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] … says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?” — George W. Bush

The past week marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This laudable treaty, signed by every country, codified centuries of custom, treaties and protocols to protect individuals found on the battlefield. There are four articles to the Geneva Conventions protecting the wounded and sick, prisoners of war and civilians. This is an attempt to bring law and order onto the battlefield. These conventions are part of a larger set of treaties, protocols and rules called international humanitarian law, or the “laws of armed conflict.”

The Geneva Conventions were part of a promising four years after World War II that attempted to prevent the horrors of future conflict. The Nuremberg Principles were adopted, the United Nations Charter was signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention were created. These became the cornerstones to settle disputes peacefully and use force only as a last resort. The focus was on international peace and security.

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Long Range Attack On Saudi Oil Field Ends War On Yemen, by Moon of Alabama

The Saudi war on Yemen is only over if somebody in the Saudi leadership, notably Mohammad bin Salman, has half a brain. From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Today Saudi Arabia finally lost the war on Yemen. It has no defenses against new weapons the Houthis in Yemen acquired. These weapons threaten the Saudis economic lifelines. This today was the decisive attack:

Drones launched by Yemen’s Houthi rebels attacked a massive oil and gas field deep inside Saudi Arabia’s sprawling desert on Saturday, causing what the kingdom described as a “limited fire” in the second such recent attack on its crucial energy industry.

The Saudi acknowledgement of the attack came hours after Yahia Sarie, a military spokesman for the Houthis, issued a video statement claiming the rebels launched 10 bomb-laden drones targeting the field in their “biggest-ever” operation. He threatened more attacks would be coming.

New drones and missiles displayed in July 2019 by Yemen’s Houthi-allied armed forces
Today’s attack is a check mate move against the Saudis. Shaybah is some 1,200 kilometers (750 miles) from Houthi-controlled territory. There are many more important economic targets within that range:

The field’s distance from rebel-held territory in Yemen demonstrates the range of the Houthis’ drones. U.N. investigators say the Houthis’ new UAV-X drone, found in recent months during the Saudi-led coalition’s war in Yemen, likely has a range of up to 1,500 kilometers (930 miles). That puts Saudi oil fields, an under-construction Emirati nuclear power plant and Dubai’s busy international airport within their range.Unlike sophisticated drones that use satellites to allow pilots to remotely fly them, analysts believe Houthi drones are likely programmed to strike a specific latitude and longitude and cannot be controlled once out of radio range. The Houthis have used drones, which can be difficult to track by radar, to attack Saudi Patriot missile batteries, as well as enemy troops.

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The Saudis Learn the Term “Asymmetric Response”, by Tom Luongo

The Saudis are learning a lesson about the decentralization of violence and the ability of lesser powers and insurgencies to fight major military powers to a standoff. It’s a lesson the US government should have learned many times over. From Tom Luongo at tomluongo.me:

The Saudis just learned that some moments in history show their significance as they unfold. Iran shooting down a U.S. Global Hawk stealth drone and President Trump refusing his war-hawk cabinet in retaliating militarily is one of them.

I said then and still maintain that this was a turning point in the history of the world.

Any retaliation by the U.S. would be catastrophic for the world economy. It would unleash a regional conflict on multiple fronts which would not be any kind of controlled theater…

… That for all the might of the U.S. military and financial empire, its weaknesses are deep enough that even a relatively weak military and economy like Iran’s can stop it all dead cold because of basic things like geography, logistics and simple human resolve.

Many people misinterpreted these statements, and, indeed the entire article, to mean that Iran could stand up to the U.S. in a direct military conflict and prevail. Nonsense.

War today isn’t just fought with soldiers, bombs, guns and drones. It’s fought in all theatres including the commodities futures and forex markets.

And Trump backing down had everything to do with the fragility of the world economy and his own worries over getting re-elected if his military invasion of Iran sent oil to $250 per barrel.

As we move farther downstream from that event things become clearer just how important it was. Sure, Trump et. al. will fulminate and commit provocations, like impounding the Grace 1 oil tanker, but as far as anything substantive it’s all rearguard actions as the U.S.’s opposition in the Middle East counter-attack.

And the Saudis are the natural weak link in the U.S./Saudi/Israeli alliance pushing for the balkanization of Syria, Turkey, Iraq and Iran; the ultimate goal of all U.S. foreign policy objectives in the region.

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Russia’s Sound Proposal for Gulf Peace, by the Strategic Culture Editorial Board

Russia’s proposal makes a lot more sense than anything Trump and Israel have proposed. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

There is an eminently reasonable and feasible way to avoid conflict in the Persian Gulf, and to secure peace. The principles of multilateralism and international law must be adhered to. It seems almost astounding that one has to appeal for such obvious basic norms.

Fortunately, Russia has presented a roadmap for implementing a security concept in the vital waterway based on the above principles.

Russia’s deputy envoy to the United Nations, Dmitry Polyansky, outlined a possible international coalition to provide security for commercial shipping through the strategically important Persian Gulf. The narrow outlet accounts for up to 30 per cent of all globally shipped oil on a daily basis. Virtually every nation has a stake in the safe passage of tankers. Any disruption would have huge negative consequences for the world economy, impacting all nations.

The Russian proposal, which has been submitted to the UN Security Council, is currently being considered by various parties. Crucially, the security concept put forward by Moscow relies on the participation of the Gulf nations, including Iran. Rather than being led by an outside power, the Russian proposal envisages a region-led effort.

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Tulsi Gabbard’s Road to Damascus, by Scott Ritter

Unlike any of the other presidential candidates, Tulsi Gabbard has actually served in the military. And unlike any of the presidential candidates, Gabbard has met Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad. There is a connection between those two facts. From Scott Ritter at theamericanconservative.com:

Tulsi Gabbard speaks to CNN’s Jake Tapper about her 2017 visit with Syrian President Bashar Assad back in January. (CNN/Screenshot)
There’s a good reason the presidential hopeful met with Assad, but the media doesn’t want to talk about it.

It was eight minutes of hell for Kamala Harris. Onstage at the second Democratic debate in Michigan, Harris was subjected to a blistering assault on her record as a California prosecutor at the hands of Hawaii Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard.

Afterwards, Harris was asked about Gabbard’s attack by CNN’s Anderson Cooper. “Listen,” she replied, “I think that this coming from someone who has been an apologist for an individual, [Syrian President Bashar al] Assad, who has murdered the people of his country like cockroaches. She has embraced and been an apologist for him in the way she refuses to call him a war criminal. I can only take what she says and her opinion so seriously, so I’m prepared to move on.”

Harris was referring to a controversial four-day visit by Gabbard to Syria in early January 2017, during which she met with Assad. While Gabbard’s performance during the debate was stellar (her name was the most searched of all the Democratic candidates), Harris’s jab regarding Assad seemed like all the mainstream media wanted to talk about.

“When sitting down with someone like Bashar al-Assad in Syria,” MSNBC’s Yasmin Vossoughian asked Gabbard, “do you confront him directly and say why do you order chemical attacks on your own people? Why do you cause the killings of over half a million people in your country?”

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