Category Archives: War

President Starts a War? Congress Yawns. Threatens to End One? Condemnation! by Ron Paul

Bizarre but true. It’s harder now for a president to end a war than to start one. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.com:

Last week’s bipartisan Senate vote to rebuke President Trump for his decision to remove troops from Syria and Afghanistan unfortunately tells us a lot about what is wrong with Washington, DC. While the two parties loudly bicker about minor issues, when it comes to matters like endless wars overseas they enthusiastically join together. With few exceptions, Republicans and Democrats lined up to admonish the president for even suggesting that it’s time for US troops to come home from Afghanistan and Syria.

The amendment, proposed by the Senate Majority Leader and passed overwhelmingly by both parties, warns that a “precipitous withdrawal of United States forces from the on-going fight…in Syria and Afghanistan, could allow terrorists to regroup.” As one opponent of the amendment correctly pointed out, a withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan is hardly “precipitous” since they’ve been there for nearly 18 years! And with al-Qaeda and ISIS largely defeated in Syria a withdrawal from that country would hardly be “precipitous” after almost five years of unauthorized US military action.

Senators supporting the rebuke claim that US troops cannot leave until every last ISIS fighter is killed or captured. This is obviously a false argument. Al-Qaeda and ISIS did not emerge in Iraq because US troops left the country – they emerged because the US was in the country in the first place. Where was al-Qaeda in Iraq before the 2003 US invasion the neocons lied us into? There weren’t any.

US troops occupying Iraqi territory was, however, a huge incentive for Iraqis to join a resistance movement. Similarly, US intervention in Syria beginning under the Obama Administration contributed to the growth of terrorist groups in that country.

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The U.S. Military’s Lost Wars, by William J. Astore

Once upon a time militaries were supposed to win wars. From William J. Astore ate tomdispatch.com:

Overfunded, Overhyped, and Always Over There

One of the finest military memoirs of any generation is Defeat Into Victory, British Field Marshal Sir William Slim’s perceptive account of World War II’s torturous Burma campaign, which ended in a resounding victory over Japan. When America’s generals write their memoirs about their never-ending war on terror, they’d do well to choose a different title: Victory Into Defeat. That would certainly be more appropriate than those on already published accounts like Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez’s Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story (2008), or General Stanley McChrystal’s My Share of the Task (2013).

Think about it. America’s Afghan War began in 2001 with what was essentially a punitive raid against the Taliban, part of which was mythologized last year in 12 Strong, a Hollywood film with a cavalry charge that echoed the best of John Wayne. That victory, however, quickly turned first into quagmire and then, despite various “surges” and a seemingly endless series of U.S. commanders (17 so far), into a growing sense of inevitable defeat. Today, a resurgent Taliban exercises increasing influenceover the hearts, minds, and territory of the Afghan people. The Trump administration’s response so far has been a mini-surge of several thousand troops, an increase in air and drone strikes, and an attempt to suppressaccurate reports from the Pentagon’s special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction about America’s losing effort there.

Turn now to the invasion of Iraq: in May 2003, President George W. Bush cockily announced “Mission Accomplished” from the deck of an aircraft carrier, only to see victory in Baghdad degenerate into insurgency and a quagmire conflict that established conditions for the rise of the Islamic State. Gains in stability during a surge of U.S. forces orchestrated by General David Petraeus in 2007 and hailed in Washington as a fabulous success story proved fragile and reversible. An ignominious U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011 was followed in 2014 by the collapse of that country’s American-trained and armed military in the face of modest numbers of Islamic State militants. A recommitment of U.S. troops and air power brought Stalingrad-style devastation to cities like Mosul and Ramadi, largely reduced to rubble, while up to 1.3 million children were displaced from their homes. All in all, not exactly the face of victory.

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Hawks Are Trying To Convince Trump To Keep This Tiny Piece Of Syrian Soil Indefinitely, by Tyler Durden

The hawks want to keep the camel’s nose under the Syria tent indefinitely. You never know when you’re going to want to intervene or stage a regime change. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

As the Pentagon appears to be moving forward on President Trump’s ordered troop draw down from Syria, administration hawks as well as foreign allies like Israel have one final card to play to hinder a total withdrawal. They argue that some 200 US troops in Syria’s southeast desert along the Iraqi border and its 55-kilometer “deconfliction zone” at al-Tanf are the last line of defense against Iranian expansion in Syria, and therefore must stay indefinitely.

Al Waleed border crossing, known in Syria as al-Tanf, is one of three official border crossings between Syria and Iraq. It’s long been blocked and controlled by US special forces and US-backed local militias.

Despite Trump’s pledge for a “full” and complete American exit, the Tanf base could remain Washington’s last remote outpostdisrupting the strategic Baghdad-Damascus highway and potential key “link” in the Tehran-to-Beirut so-called Shia land bridge. Foreign Policy magazine identifies this as but the latest obstacle to an actual complete withdrawal of US forces:

“Al-Tanf is a critical element in the effort to prevent Iran from establishing a ground line of communications from Iran through Iraq through Syria to southern Lebanon in support of Lebanese Hezbollah,” an unnamed senior US military source told the magazine.

Washington’s initial justification for establishing the remote special operations outpost was to train local fighters to counter ISIS; however, not only has ISIS now been driven almost completely underground but Russia has accused US forces at al-Tanf of actually allowing ISIS terrorists to maintain a presence in the area in order to put pressure on Damascus.

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Netanyahu’s Election Bombing Campaign May Lead to Battle: Syria and Hezbollah Have Their Fingeers on the Trigger, by Elijah J. Magnier

Syria may not have to, and may not, sit still for Israel’s bombs any longer. From Elijah J. Magnier at ejmagnier.com:

Israel has attacked Syria many times during the last seven years of war imposed on Syria. It has run red-lights and broken taboos in order to provoke the “Axis of the Resistance” inside Syria, but has refrained from infuriating Hezbollah in Lebanon. Nevertheless, the most recent Israeli attack has pushed Syria and its allies beyond tolerable limits. Thus, President Assad prepared himself for a battle against Israel between the wars, knowing that such a battle could last weeks. But the president of Syria won’t be alone: Assad and Hezbollah’s Secretary general Sayyed Hassan Nasrallah will both be running any future battle against any Israeli aggression when the decision to engage will be taken.

Most recently Israel bombed the Syrian army and destroyed the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) offices and bases in Syria without inflicting any human casualties. At the same time, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put himself on the level of IRGC-Quds brigade General Qassem Soleimani, by challenging him on social media.  In fact, Netanyahu fell right into the trap the Iranian general set for President Donald Trump.

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The New Congress Can End Wars and Constrain the ‘Deep State.’ Will It? by Harry Blain

Once upon a time Congress did things like stopping the Vietnam War. It’s been a long time, though, since it’s done anything close to that worthwhile. From Harry Blain at antiwar.com:

Congress ended the Vietnam war, exposed horrific CIA and FBI abuses, and halted them. Where’s that energy now?

The U.S. Congress has power over two very important things: money and information.

It can, in theory and practice, end a war by refusing to fund it. It can (and has!) compelled the leading architects of American foreign policy – CIA directors, national security advisors, secretaries of defense – to answer for their uses and abuses of executive power publicly and under oath.

As anyone who has served in it will tell you, Congress has never experienced a “golden age” of dispassionate bipartisanship or attachment to high principle. Yet, its recent failures seem to reflect dangerous signs of decay: the rubber-stamping of a new CIA director implicated in the worst excesses of the agency’s torture program; the inability to even moderately question wars that have comfortably outlasted Vietnam; and almost total indifference to arms deals struck by the White House.

The story of how and why we got here is a vivid illustration of our deepening political dysfunction. But it also hints at how Congress can be renewed at a time when we desperately need it.

“An Invitation to Struggle”

As with so many key questions, the US constitution gives mixed answers on the role of Congress in American foreign policy.

Countless books and articles have been written on the subject, but the basic problem is this: The president gets the imperious job title of “commander-in-chief,” while his puny legislators reserve the power to declare and fund wars.

Because the summer of 1787 was hot, and some of our saintly “framers” either stopped paying attention, got drunk, or went home as the supreme law of the land was being written, fundamental tensions like these were never resolved. Instead, an “invitation to struggle” awaited future generations.

Historically, this “struggle” has exhibited some common features: our esteemed members of Congress becoming peculiarly concerned about presidential power when the opposite party occupies the White House; war-authorizing resolutions usually passing by lopsided margins; and anything seriously restricting executive power coming only after media or publicpressure.

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Trump, Pull Them Out of Syria Now, Not Later, by Jacob G. Hornberger

There are plenty of good reasons for the US to exit Syria immediately, and no good reasons to stay. From Jacob Hornberger at fff.org:

n December, President Trump announced that he was finally ordering an immediate withdrawal of all U.S. troops from Syria. Almost immediately, under pressure from the interventionist crowd, including the national-security branch of the U.S. government, Trump reversed course and announced that he intended to delay the pullout by another four months. Today, it’s not clear that he even intends to abide by that deadline.

Meanwhile, while Trump dawdled with the withdrawal, four more Americans were killed in a suicide-bombing attack carried out by ISIS in Syria. They included two U.S. soldiers, a former U.S. soldier serving as a contractor, and an interpreter. Three other Americans were wounded in the attack.

What did those Americans die for? Nothing. All four died for nothing.

They died for nothing because the U.S. government has no business being in Syria. It never has had any business being in Syria. Those 2,000 U.S. troops don’t belong in Syria. Those four Americans deserve to be alive today. So do all other Americans who are killed in Syria the longer that Trump delays the pullout of all U.S. troops from the country.

Interventionists, not surprisingly, are saying that the ISIS attack instead shows that Trump needs to keep U.S. troops in Syria. They’re saying that the attack shows that ISIS hasn’t really been “defeated,” as Trump claimed when he was justifying his original withdrawal order.

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Mr President. End This Shameful War Now! By Eric S. Margolis

The US has no business being in Afghanistan. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

An ancient Hindu prayer says, ‘Lord Shiva, save us from the claw of the tiger, the fang of the cobra, and the vengeance of the Afghan.’

The United States, champion of freedom and self-determination, is now in its 18th year of colonial war in Afghanistan.  This miserable, stalemated conflict is America’s longest and most shameful war.  So far it has   cost over $1 trillion and killed no one knows how many Afghans.

This conflict began in 2001 on a lie: namely that Afghanistan was somehow responsible for the 9/11 attacks on the US.  These attacks were planned in Europe and the US, not Afghanistan, and apparently conducted (official version) by anti-American Saudi extremists.  This writer remains unconvinced by the official versions.

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