Category Archives: War

For What Will We Go to War With China? by Patrick J. Buchanan

The US will not go to war for islands and rocks in the South China Sea, including Taiwan, and China knows it. The Chinese will make their moves when the US has completely destroyed itself. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

In his final state of the nation speech Monday, Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte defended his refusal to confront China over Beijing’s seizure and fortification of his country’s islets in the South China Sea.

“It will be a massacre if I go and fight a war now,” said Duterte. “We are not yet a competent and able enemy of the other side.”

Duterte is a realist. He will not challenge China to retrieve his lost territories, as his country would be crushed. But Duterte has a hole card: a U.S. guarantee to fight China, should he stumble into war with China.

Consider. Earlier this month, Secretary of State Antony Blinken assured Manila we would invoke the U.S.-Philippines mutual security pact in the event of Chinese military action against Philippine assets.

“We also reaffirm,” said Blinken, “that an armed attack on Philippine armed forces, public vessels or aircraft in the South China Sea would invoke U.S. mutual defense commitments under Article IV of the 1951 U.S.-Philippines Mutual Defense Treaty.”

Is this an American war guarantee to fight the People’s Republic of China, if the Philippines engage a Chinese warship over one of a disputed half-dozen rocks and reefs in the South China Sea? So it would appear.

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US Collective Suicide, by Chris Hedges

Governments die, people live on. Most of us will still be around after the US empire departs this veil of tears, so the “Collective Suicide” is overwrought. It’s still a good article. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

The return of the Taliban to power will be one more signpost of the end of the American empire — and nobody will be held accountable.

(Original illustration by Mr. Fish)

The debacle in Afghanistan, which will unravel into chaos with lightning speed over the next few weeks and ensure the return of the Taliban to power, is one more signpost of the end of the American empire.

The two decades of combat, the one trillion dollars spent, the 100,000 troops deployed to subdue Afghanistan, the high-tech gadgets, artificial intelligence, cyberwarfare, Reaper drones armed with Hellfire missiles and GBU-30 bombs and the Global Hawk drones with high-resolution cameras, Special Operations Command composed of elite rangers, SEALs and air commandos, black sites, torture, electronic surveillance, satellites, attack aircraft, mercenary armies, infusions of millions of dollars to buy off and bribe the local elites and train an Afghan army of 350,000 that has never exhibited the will to fight, failed to defeat a guerrilla army of 60,000 that funded itself through opium production and extortion in one of the poorest countries on earth.

Like any empire in terminal decay, no one will be held accountable for the debacle or for the other debacles in Iraq, Syria, Libya, Somalia, Yemen or anywhere else. Not the generals. Not the politicians. Not the CIA and intelligence agencies. Not the diplomats. Not the obsequious courtiers in the press who serve as cheerleaders for war. Not the compliant academics and area specialists. Not the defense industry. Empires at the end are collective suicide machines.

The military becomes in late empire unmanageable, unaccountable, and endlessly self-perpetuating, no matter how many fiascos, blunders and defeats it visits upon the carcass of the nation, or how much money it plunders, impoverishing the citizenry and leaving governing institutions and the physical infrastructure decayed.

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The Price of Conscience — Hale Sentenced to 45 Months, by Chris Hedges

As Orwell said, truth is dangerous in the empire of lies, especially to the truth teller. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

Drone warfare whistleblower Daniel Hale was sentenced to 45 months in prison on Tuesday for telling the American people the truth.

Daniel Hale, a former intelligence analyst in the drone program for the Air Force who as a private contractor in 2013 leaked some 17 classified documents about drone strikes to the press, was sentenced Tuesday to 45 months in prison.

The documents, published by The Intercept on October 15, 2015, exposed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people. Of those, only 35 were the intended targets. For one five-month period of the operation, according to the documents, nearly 90 percent of the people killed in airstrikes were not the intended targets. The civilian dead, usually innocent bystanders, were routinely classified as “enemies killed in action.”

The Justice Department coerced Hale, who was deployed to Afghanistan in 2012, on March 31 to plead guilty to one count of violating the Espionage Act, a law passed in 1917 designed to prosecute those who passed on state secrets to a hostile power, not those who expose to the public government lies and crimes. Hale admitted as part of the plea deal to “retention and transmission of national security information” and leaking 11 classified documents to a journalist. If he had refused the plea deal, he could have spent 50 years in prison.

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Whither Afghanistan? Getting Out Is Harder Than Getting In, by Philip Giraldi

The US government’s forever wars always end in disaster, and that never stops the government from getting in another forever war. From Philip Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

Given the lack of any deep thinking going on in the White House, Americans could easily find themselves in yet another Afghanistan.

The inability of the United States to comprehend what it was becoming involved in when, in the wake of 9/11, it declared a Global War on Terror, has to be reckoned one of the singular failures of national security policy over the past twenty years. Not only did the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq make bad situations worse, but the fact that no one is Washington was able to define “victory” and think in terms of an exit strategy has meant that the wars and instability are still with us. In their wake has been hundreds of thousands of deaths and trillions of dollars spent to accomplish absolutely nothing.

As a result, Iraq is unstable and leans more heavily towards America’s adversary Iran than it does to Washington. The Iraqi Parliament has, in fact, asked U.S. forces to leave the country, a request that has been ignored both by Donald Trump and Joe Biden. Trump actually threatened to freeze Iraqi bank assets to pressure the Iraqis into accepting the continued U.S. occupation. At the same time, American troops illegally present in neighboring Syria, continue to occupy that country’s oil fields to deprive the government in Damascus of much needed resources. Neither Iraq nor Syria threatens the United States in any way.

Given that history, it should be no surprise that the withdrawal from the twenty year-long nation building project in Afghanistan, long overdue, is not quite going as smoothly as the Pentagon and White House apparently planned. U.S. forces pulled out of their principal base in the country, Bagram Air Base, in the middle of the night without informing the incoming Afghan base commander. A frenzy of looting of the left behind equipment followed.

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U.S. P.O.W.s Abandoned in ’Nam, by Philip Kraske

This is one of the ugliest stories out there. From Philip Kraske at unz.com:

As Ron Unz has noted occasionally in his columns, mainstream publications as one refused to publish Sidney Schanberg’s exposé on John McCain: his unsavory acts as a prisoner-of-war in Vietnam and his efforts to bury the evidence of P.O.W.s left behind after the war. A “parallel universe,” Unz called the article. It cut straight across the mainstream’s fawning narrative of presidential-candidate McCain the noble war hero. But the story of McCain and the evidence that many American prisoners were never returned from Vietnam, which Schanberg summarizes at the end of his article, is far more than a matter of media disregard. Doing research for a novella based on the abandoned-prisoners issue, I found that it concisely describes the incipient rot in American political culture.

The controversy about the left-behind P.O.W.s is decades old now, so here is a brief summary of it. The 1973 treaty that ended the Vietnam War declared in its Article 21 that America would pay war reparations to the Vietnamese. The amount, however, was left unstated. A letter from President Richard Nixon to North Vietnamese Prime Minister Pham Van Dong specified that $3.25 billion would be paid by America up front, with an additional $1 billion to $1.5 billion to be paid later, depending on different conditions. (If the U.S. had ended up paying, say, $3.75 billion, that would be $21.88 billion today, roughly double the budget of the U.S. Commerce Department.) The Vietnamese accepted this letter as a binding commitment; the Yankees had a different idea. As Richard Holbrooke told a Senate committee about his 1977 meeting with the Vietnamese, “It was then that I realized that it was more than a negotiating ploy, that they really believed it…The Vietnamese believed the Kissinger-Nixon letter to have standing…Our position was simple:…That letter has no standing….it is an outrageous document…which should never have been sent.” Nixon’s letter was, in true Kissingeresque fashion, kept secret, and when it came to light after Watergate, Congress immediately passed a law saying that America would not pay Vietnam a nickel.

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Warmongers Should Be Treated Like Serial Killers And Child Rapists, by Caitlin Johnstone

Murder is murder, and murdering millions doesn’t make you a hero. From Caitlin Johnstone at caitlinjohnstone.com:

California Representative Ro Khanna announced on Monday that he’d just hung out with Iraq war architect Bill Kristol and had a wonderful exchange of ideas, fully discrediting the myth of the progressive Democrat with a single tweet.

“Bill Kristol is one of the most thoughtful voices in defending liberalism and democratic institutions in our country,” Khanna tweeted. “Learned a lot in our conversation about shaping also an inclusive narrative around American patriotism.”

When Khanna’s Twitter followers began reacting with shock and disgust at a congressman who is generally regarded as one of the most progressive elected officials on Capitol Hill saying sweet things about a murderous arch-neocon, he added:

“I was a strong and early critic of the war in Iraq, and Kristol and I have very different worldviews on foreign policy. But to have a discussion about strengthening liberalism and liberal institutions with people you disagree is in my view needed in a pluralistic democracy.”

“I’m back in the office after a stimulating lunch with Ro Khanna and see he’s tweeted about it,” Kristol posted on Twitter. “Which is fine! But not with some on the Left! I’m sure Ro can take the heat. As for me, I benefited from our talk, and admire Ro’s willingness to argue—and occasionally (gasp!) agree.”

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New ‘Great Game’ Gets Back To Basics, by Pepe Escobar

The US quasi-withdrawal in Afghanistan will certainly complicate the Eurasian political situation. From Pepe Escobar at zerohedge.com:

Russia-China-Iran alliance is taking Afghanistan’s bull by the horns…

The Great Game: This lithograph by British Lieutenant James Rattray shows Shah Shuja in 1839 after his enthronement as Emir of Afghanistan in the Bala Hissar (fort) of Kabul. Rattray wrote: ‘A year later the sanctity of the scene was bloodily violated: Shah Shuja was murdered.’ Photo: Wikipedia

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is on a Central Asian loop all through the week. He’s visiting Turkmenistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. The last two are full members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, founded 20 years ago.

The SCO heavyweights are of course China and Russia. They are joined by four Central Asian “stans” (all but Turkmenistan), India and Pakistan. Crucially, Afghanistan and Iran are observers, alongside Belarus and Mongolia.

And that leads us to what’s happening this Wednesday in Dushanbe, the Tajik capital. The SCO will hold a 3 in 1: meetings of the Council of Foreign Ministers, the SCO-Afghanistan Contact Group, and a conference titled “Central and South Asia: Regional Connectivity, Challenges and Opportunities.”

At the same table, then, we will have Wang Yi, his very close strategic partner Sergey Lavrov and, most importantly, Afghan Foreign Minister Mohammad Haneef Atmar. They’ll be debating trials and tribulations after the hegemon’s withdrawal and the miserable collapse of the myth of NATO “stabilizing” Afghanistan.

Let’s game a possible scenario: Wang Yi and Lavrov tell Atmar, in no uncertain terms, that there’s got to be a national reconciliation deal with the Taliban, brokered by Russia-China, with no American interference, including the end of the opium-heroin ratline.

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Bless the Traitors, by Chris Hedges

Daniel Hale’s conscience wouldn’t let him keep secret what he knew about the US military’s drone programs. Too bad so many in the military and intelligence have no such qualms. From Chris Hedges at consortiumnews.com:

Daniel Hale, an active-duty Air Force intelligence analyst, stood in the Occupy encampment in Zuccotti Park in October 2011 in his military uniform. He held up a sign that read “Free Bradley Manning,” who had not yet announced her transition. It was a singular act of conscience few in uniform had the strength to replicate. He had taken a week off from his job to join the protestors in the park.

He was present at 6:00 am on Oct. 14 when Mayor Michael Bloomberg made his first attempt to clear the park. He stood in solidarity with thousands of protestors, including many unionized transit workers, teachers, Teamsters and communications workers, who formed a ring around the park. He watched the police back down as the crowd erupted into cheers. But this act of defiance and moral courage was only the beginning.

At the time, Hale was stationed at Fort Bragg. A few months later he deployed to Afghanistan’s Bagram Air Force Base. He would later learn that that while he was in Zuccotti Park, Barack Obama ordered a drone strike some 12,000 miles away in Yemen that killed Abdulrahman Anwar al-Awlaki, the 16-year-old son of the radical cleric and U.S. citizen Anwar al-Awlaki, who had been killed by a drone strike two weeks earlier.

The Obama administration claimed it was targeting the leader of Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, Ibrahim al-Banna, who it believed, incorrectly, was with the boy and his cousins, all of whom were also killed in the attack. That massacre of innocents became public, but there were thousands more such attacks that wantonly killed noncombatants that only Hale and those with top-security clearances knew about.

Starting in 2013, Hale, while working as a private contractor, leaked some 17 classified documents about the drone program to investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill, although the reporter is not named in court documents. The leaked documents, published by The Intercept on October 15, 2015, exposed that between January 2012 and February 2013, U.S. special operations airstrikes killed more than 200 people.

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U.S. ‘Mission Accomplished’ in Afghanistan… and Other Fantasies, by The Strategic Culture Editorial Board

Biden sounds more deluded about Afghanistan than Bush did about Iraq on the deck of that aircraft carrier. From the Strategic Culture Editorial Board at strategic-culture.org:

Afghanistan is often referred to as the graveyard of empires. But in America’s case, it also dug its own grave.

Joe Biden, the fourth U.S. President to oversee the American war in Afghanistan, announced this week the end of that operation. He claimed with an impossibly straight face, “the United States did what we came to do… get the terrorists who attacked us on 9/11”. Now, it’s time to bring the troops home.

In other words, according to President Biden, after waging a war for 20 years in Central Asia, it is time to hail “mission accomplished”.

Contrary to previous presidential iterations, he said the U.S. did not come to “nation build” and that from now on “it’s up to the Afghans to make decisions about the future of their country.” That almost sounds like the Americans liberated the Afghan nation to choose its destiny – instead of the appalling reality that the country is being abandoned for the giant mess that it has become under Washington’s tutelage.

The truth is the United States is scurrying out of Afghanistan like a rat from a sinking ship. Two decades of war costing trillions of dollars and millions of casualties have destroyed a nation. Another nation in a long list of others destroyed by another criminal American war.

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A Saigon Moment in the Hindu Kush, by Pepe Escobar

The Chinese, Russians, Indians, and Pakistanis will fill the void. From Pepe Escobar at unz.com:

The US is on the verge of its own second Vietnam repeated as farce in a haphazard retreat from Afghanistan

US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana
US Marines from the 2nd Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment of the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Brigade wait for helicopter transport as part of Operation Khanjar at Camp Dwyer in Helmand Province in Afghanistan on July 2, 2009. – The US pullout from the Pentagon’s once mighty Bagram Air Base in the dead of night, while Taliban fighters pour across the country, looks a lot like a military defeat. Photo: AFP / Manpreet Romana

And it’s all over

For the unknown soldier

It’s all over

For the unknown soldier

The Doors, “The Unknown Soldier”

Let’s start with some stunning facts on the Afghan ground.

The Taliban are on a roll. Earlier this week their PR arm was claiming they hold 218 Afghan districts out of 421 – capturing new ones every day. Tens of districts are contested. Entire Afghan provinces are basically lost to the government in Kabul, which has been de facto reduced to administer a few scattered cities under siege.

Already on July 1, the Taliban announced they controlled 80% of Afghan territory. That’s close to the situation 20 years ago, only a few weeks before 9/11, when Commander Ahmad Shah Masoud told me in the Panjshir valley , as he prepared a counter-offensive, that the Taliban were 85% dominant.

Their new tactical approach works like a dream. First, there’s a direct appeal to soldiers of the Afghan National Army (ANA) to surrender. Negotiations are smooth and deals fulfilled. Soldiers in the low thousands have already joined the Taliban without a single shot fired.

Map by CIG / Telegram / Counter-Intelligence (t.me/CIG telegram) showing recent Taliban advances and Afghan districts being captured, as of July 5, 2021

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