Tag Archives: Interventionism

What the Media Aren’t Telling You About Turkey and the Kurds, by Marc D. Joffe

There are good reasons, Marc D. Joffe argues, for the US to stand aside in the Turkey-Kurd conflict. From Joffe at antiwar.com:

Mainstream media are taking occasional breaks from 24/7 impeachment coverage this month to lambaste the Trump Administration for abandoning our Syrian Kurdish allies at the insistence of Turkey’s despotic rulers. Since the original withdrawal announcement, Administration policy has taken on a helter-skelter quality: rushing out sanctions, threatening airstrikes and deploying troops elsewhere in the Middle East. Ultimately Trump policies are producing more foreign adventurism and less freedom of commerce for American companies. But the original decision to pull out was the correct one, and consistent media criticism of the withdrawal often omits important facts that the American public needs to consider. Specifically:

  • As a member of NATO since 1952, Turkey has been a US treaty ally for as long as most of us can remember; the Syrian Kurdish forces are not a recognized state and thus cannot be an ally, a term used in diplomatic parlance to refer to states formally cooperating with one another.
  • The Syrian Kurdish forces are connected with the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) which was designated by the US State Department as a terrorist organization in 1997 and remains on the list in 2019.

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Uncle Sam Sent Me to Rehab for PTSD, by Danny Sjursen

The money paragraph: 

Here it is: I’m left with the profound, if hopeless, wish that every American voter and aspirant adolescent soldier would spend a moment with the veterans in rehab across this country tonight. To know what I know, to see what we – all of us – have allowed to happen in our names. There’s romance, and naivety, in that wish, I know, but I wish it just the same. 

From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

I arrived an absolute mess; most of us did. Bloated cheeks, sunken eyes, wearing my PTSD and depression on every inch of my face. I can’t say I really wanted to be there, even if I had volunteered. Ironic, wasn’t it?

This, a civilian treatment facility in nowhere, Arizona, was to be my last official duty as an officer in the U.S. Army – an ignominious end to a once-bright career. Still, the truth is I needed it: After several years of treatment for post-traumatic stress, depression and anxiety, I wasn’t getting any better. The Army saw it and decided to retire me a few years early. Over the last year, my life ran off the rails – self medicating, spiraling, the standard drill for a broken vet.

Only those closest to me saw it; however, these were the very ones I’d hurt, who couldn’t take it anymore – with the fallout of bridges burned and relationships sabotaged. Nonetheless, most of us remain publicly functional long after these afflictions have taken the wheel. The frightening paradox of it all was that while my writing only improved, my emotional health deteriorated. That said, kudos to the Army, I suppose, for footing the bill and offering the opportunity for inpatient treatment on my way out the proverbial door. That’s how they do it: Ask the impossible, shatter a life, send for help when you’re too far gone to be of much use any longer – the assembly line of endless wars and the unfortunates who fight them.

It was a strange place, this facility on the outskirts of Phoenix. And expensive! Some 60 percent of the “clients” (as the staff unnervingly referred to patients) were wealthy professionals, well-off white folks with afflictions ranging from depression to suicidal ideation to personality disorders to heroin addiction. Some had Cadillac health insurance plans; a surprising number paid cash, a cool 60 grand.

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Mapping the American War on Terror, by Stephanie Savell

Since terror is a tactic that can be used anywhere, the wonder is not the number of countries in which the US is fighting its war on terror, but that there are remaining where it is not. From Stephanie Sevall at tomdispatch.com:

In September 2001, the Bush administration launched the “Global War on Terror.” Though “global” has long since been dropped from the name, as it turns out, they weren’t kidding.

When I first set out to map all the places in the world where the United States is still fighting terrorism so many years later, I didn’t think it would be that hard to do. This was before the 2017 incident in Niger in which four American soldiers were killed on a counterterror mission and Americans were given an inkling of how far-reaching the war on terrorism might really be. I imagined a map that would highlight Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, and Syria — the places many Americans automatically think of in association with the war on terror — as well as perhaps a dozen less-noticed countries like the Philippines and Somalia. I had no idea that I was embarking on a research odyssey that would, in its second annual update, map U.S. counterterror missions in 80 countries in 2017 and 2018, or 40% of the nations on this planet (a map first featured in Smithsonian magazine).

As co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs, I’m all too aware of the costs that accompany such a sprawling overseas presence. Our project’s research shows that, since 2001, the U.S. war on terror has resulted in the loss — conservatively estimated — of almost half a million lives in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone. By the end of 2019, we also estimate that Washington’s global war will cost American taxpayers no less than $5.9 trillion already spent and in commitments to caring for veterans of the war throughout their lifetimes.

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Hypocrisy Without Bounds: The Tragedy of ‘Liberal’ Foreign Policy, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

Liberal foreign policy is indistinguishable from the neoconservatism championed mostly by conservatives. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

If anyone else were president, the “liberals” would be celebrating. After all, pulling American soldiers out of a couple of failing, endless wars seems like a “win” for progressives. Heck, if Obama did it there might be a ticker-tape parade down Broadway. And there should be. The intervention in Syria is increasingly aimless, dangerous and lacks an end state. Afghanistan is an unwinnable war – America’s longest – and about to end in outright military defeat. Getting out now and salvaging so much national blood and treasure ought to be a progressive dream. There’s only one problem: Donald Trump. Specifically, that it was Trump who gave the order to begin the troop withdrawals.

Lost in the haze of their pathological hatred of President Trump, the majority of mainstream liberal pundits and politicians can’t, for the life of them, see the good sense in extracting the troops from a couple Mideast quagmires. That or they can see the positives, but, in their obsessive compulsion to smear the president, choose politics over country. It’s probably a bit of both. That’s how tribally partisan American political discourse has become. And, how reflexively hawkish and interventionist today’s mainstream Democrats now are. Whither the left-wing antiwar movement? Well, except for a few diehards out there, the movement seems to have been buried long ago with George McGovern.

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How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World, by Danny Haiphong

A blockbuster book details the many countries and elections in which the US government meddled. From Danny Haiphong at theantimedia.org:

The U.S. military state overthrows democratically-elected governments that it deems to be a threat to corporate interests.

“There is plenty of evidence that the United States is the most depraved and dangerous “meddler” in the affairs of other nations that history has ever known.”

Dan Kovalik is a labor and human rights lawyer, but most of all he is an anti-imperialist and an author of three books. Kovalik’s first two books tackled the specific US war drives against Russia and Iran. His third installment, The Plot to Control the World: How the US Spent Billions to Change the Outcome of Elections Around the World, addresses the broad scope of US election meddling abroad. The book provides much needed political and ideological life support to an anti-war movement in the U.S that has been rendered nearly invisible to the naked eye.

The Plot to Control the World is as detailed in its critique of U.S. imperialism as it is concise. In just over 160 pages, Kovalik manages to analyze the various ways that the U.S. political and military apparatus interferes in the affairs of nations abroad to achieve global hegemony. He wastes no time in exposing the devastating lie that is American exceptionalism, beginning appropriately with the U.S. imperialist occupations of Haiti and the Philippines at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th. The U.S. would murder millions of Filipinos and send both nations into a spiral of violence, instability, and poverty that continues to this day. As Kovalik explains regarding Haiti, “While the specific, claimed justifications for [U.S.] intervention changed over time- e.g., opposing the end of slavery, enforcing the Monroe Doctrine, fighting Communism, fighting drugs, restoring law and order — the fact is that the interventions never stopped and the results for the Haitian people have been invariably disastrous.”

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Continued American Occupation of the Middle East Does Not Suppress Terrorism, It Causes It, by Craig Murray

That US interventions cause the terrorism they are ostensibly supposed to squelch is a truth that’s been so obvious for so long that only a neoconservative could miss it. From Craig Murray at craigmurray.org:

Even the neo-con warmongers’ house journal The Guardian, furious at Trump’s attempts to pull US troops out of Syria, in producing a map to illustrate its point, could only produce one single, uncertain, very short pen stroke to describe the minute strip of territory it claims ISIS still control on the Iraqi border.

Of course, the Guardian produces the argument that continued US military presence is necessary to ensure that ISIS does not spring back to life in Syria. The fallacy of that argument can be easily demonstrated. In Afghanistan, the USA has managed to drag out the long process of humiliating defeat in war even further than it did in Vietnam. It is plain as a pikestaff that the presence of US occupation troops is itself the best recruiting sergeant for resistance. In Sikunder Burnes I trace how the battle lines of tribal alliances there today are precisely the same ones the British faced in 1841. We just attach labels like Taliban to hide the fact that invaders face national resistance.

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Trump Foreign Policy: Doing the Same Thing and Expecting a Different Result, by Ron Paul

Trump has done nothing to alter the foreign policy of his predecessors. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

After a week of insisting that a meeting with Putin on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Argentina was going to happen, President Trump at the last minute sent out a Tweet explaining that due to a Russia/Ukraine dispute in the Sea of Azov he would no longer be willing to meet his Russian counterpart.

According to Trump, the meeting had to be cancelled because the Russians seized three Ukrainian naval vessels in Russian waters that refused to follow instructions from the Russian military. But as Pat Buchanan wrote in a recent column: how is this little dispute thousands of miles away any of our business?

Unfortunately it is “our business” because of President Obama’s foolish idea to overthrow a democratically-elected, pro-Russia government in Ukraine in favor of what his Administration believed would be a “pro-Western” and “pro-NATO” replacement. In short, the Obama Administration did openly to Ukraine what his Democratic Party claims without proof the Russians did to the United States: meddled in a vote.

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Empire of Lies: Are ‘We the People’ Useful Idiots in the Digital Age? by John Whitehead

The title question almost answers itself. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“Back in the heyday of the old Soviet Union, a phrase evolved to describe gullible western intellectuals who came to visit Russia and failed to notice the human and other costs of building a communist utopia. The phrase was “useful idiots” and it applied to a good many people who should have known better. I now propose a new, analogous term more appropriate for the age in which we live: useful hypocrites. That’s you and me, folks, and it’s how the masters of the digital universe see us. And they have pretty good reasons for seeing us that way. They hear us whingeing about privacy, security, surveillance, etc., but notice that despite our complaints and suspicions, we appear to do nothing about it. In other words, we say one thing and do another, which is as good a working definition of hypocrisy as one could hope for.”—John Naughton, The Guardian

“Who needs direct repression,” asked philosopher Slavoj Zizek, “when one can convince the chicken to walk freely into the slaughterhouse?”

In an Orwellian age where war equals peace, surveillance equals safety, and tolerance equals intolerance of uncomfortable truths and politically incorrect ideas, “we the people” have gotten very good at walking freely into the slaughterhouse, all the while convincing ourselves that the prison walls enclosing us within the American police state are there for our protection.

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“Freedom” the American Way from The Burning Platform

SYRIA

http://www.theburningplatform.com/2016/05/09/freedom-the-american-way/

 

The Quagmire to End All Quagmires, by Robert Gore

There are few good reasons to go to war, but the US faces the danger of being dragged into World War III for the worst of reasons. It will be fighting in a region in which it has no overriding interest, picking a side in a sectarian battle far older than the US, and allied with Machiavellian, despotic regimes who have no regard for its interests. Even proponents of the war cannot specify what a “victory” would look like. They nourish a vague hope that the two primary antagonists will somehow be vanquished and a government cut to the specifications of the US will be imposed by force and magically accepted by its subjects. Such a miracle would require a huge military commitment, trillions of dollars, and years, if not decades, of sustained effort. That miracle would require another miracle: after the last fifteen years of counterproductive and costly warfare in the Middle East, US politicians and the public nevertheless supporting the engagement for its lengthy duration.

Syria is a witches’ brew of conflicting internal and external forces. The US has been at odds with its leadership since Hafez al-Assad, father of the current leader, Bashar al-Assad, seized power in 1970. He aligned Syria with the Soviet Union and launched a war against Israel in 1973. He was a standard issue Middle Eastern autocrat in the Saddam Hussein, Muammar Gaddafi mold and his son has followed in his footsteps. The Assads’ Alawite Shiite Muslim sect, though a minority amidst a Sunni majority, controls the government and the leadership has fingers in all the worthwhile commercial and industrial pies. It has been religiously tolerant and politically intolerant.

The Obama administration saw an opportunity to change the Syrian regime under cover of the Arab Spring movement in 2011. Initially peaceful demonstrations against Bashar al-Assad soon turned violent as the government cracked down on demonstrators. Within a year, the military attacked resistance strongholds and Syria was engulfed in civil war. The main opposition came from an alliance of Sunni groups, mostly al Qaeda and its offshoots, including ISIS. The Obama administration pursued a confused policy that it advertised as aiding moderate Syrian rebels, who were supposedly opposed to both the Assad government and Islamic extremist groups. In truth, most of the ostensible moderates had ties to the latter. The few that didn’t either joined the extremists when confronted or fled, leaving their US-supplied weaponry and provisions behind.

None of this is news to either Obama or Congress. Nor is it a state secret that the Sunni extremists have received funding, supplies, and other aid from Sunni states—and US allies—Saudi Arabia, the Gulf States, and Turkey (See “With Friends Like These…” and “Who Needs Enemies?“). The US government wants to install a compliant regime in Syria, just as it wanted to install such regimes in Afghanistan, Iran, Iraq, Yemen, and Libya. Those efforts failed, stifled by the Sunni-Shiite schism, guerrilla warfare and terrorism, blowback, Middle Eastern intrigue, and the US government’s ignorance, hypocrisy, and duplicity. Although it has done virtually nothing to stop ISIS, it still pretends that its main goal in Syria is the eradication of Islamic extremism rather than Bashar Assad’s government.

With his move into Syria and a remarkable speech at the United Nations, Vladimir Putin revealed the US government’s mendacity for all to see, except for the US public, where the mainstream media ignored his speech in favor of the usual government propaganda. (Some questions were asked about the efficacy of US efforts to defeat ISIS after the San Bernardino shootings last December, but they quickly faded.) At the invitation of Assad, Russia joined with the Shiites—the Syrian government, Iraq, Iran, and Hezbollah—and Syrian and Iraqi Kurds. The Assad alliance treats all those opposed to Assad as terrorist enemies. The tide has turned and the alliance has regained territory. It is on the verge of recapturing Aleppo, Syria’s second largest city.

Turkey, Saudi Arabia, and the Gulf States are alarmed that the Islamic extremists they have funded and supported, and the US and its Western allies, have failed to depose Assad. If the Assad alliance cuts the rebels’ supply line from Turkey and takes Aleppo, it will not only solidify Assad’s hold on western Syria, but also solidify the influence of archenemy Shiite Iran in Iraq, Syria, and Lebanon. It is a make or break moment for the rebellion. The Sunni nations, especially NATO member Turkey, would dearly love to have their fight become Europe and the United States’ fight, too. If they can ensnare the Western nations, then Syria inevitably becomes the launchpad for World War III.

This next world war’s Archduke Ferdinand moment may come if Saudi Arabia, currently hosting a military exercise in its northern region called “Northern Thunder” involving at least 12 other nations, 350,000 soldiers, 20,000 tanks, 2,450 warplanes and 460 helicopters, leads that force into western Iraq en route to Syria. Or the trigger may come if Turkey, either in conjunction with Saudi Arabia or on its own, invades Syria from the north. With 600,000 troops, Turkey’s has the second largest armed forces in NATO. In addition to its loathing of the Shiites and Iran, Turkey fears Kurd nationalism. The Kurds, who have been the most effective fighting force against ISIS in both Iraq and Syria, have long desired their own state. Kurdish separatists are also a vociferous presence in Turkey. The US government has embraced the Kurds in Iraq and Syria, but like the Turkish government, labels the Turkish Kurds as terrorists. Turkey would probably concentrate on subduing the Kurds before it went after Assad.

The US public is blissfully unaware either that the world is a hair’s breadth away from World War III or that their government has had an outsize role in creating that risk. The US may be dragged in by Turkey’s president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, a corrupt, megalomaniac autocrat, or the corrupt, repressive House of Saud. The US will be in direct conflict with Russia and Iran, and lurking in the background, perhaps China. Neither the US’s so-called friends nor its foes care one whit about the best interests of the US and will in fact work against them. The blowback created will dwarf current levels of terrorism and refugee flows. The US’s degeneration into a police state will gain new momentum. Other than its deluded wish that both Assad and the Islamic extremists somehow disappear, the US government will have no clear idea of what would constitute victory, and consequently, no ability to attain it. And this war could go nuclear.

It will be the quagmire to end all quagmires, supported by the same coalition of mental and moral midgets who have backed every disastrous US military foray since Afghanistan. It’s questionable how long the US will retain the support of Europe. Its refugee flood will turn into a deluge as the war spreads from Syria outward to the rest of the Middle East, central Asia, northern Africa, and quite possibly to Europe itself. Nor is it a sure thing that financial markets will fund this war at today’s rock-bottom interest rates. The conflict will add more trillions to the US government’s current $19 trillion debt, and with a depression looming, the government’s ability to pay will be called into question. There would be no political support for a another protracted, expensive, and bloody military commitment in the Middle East if the American people were explicitly told that just such a commitment is under consideration, especially if they were also told that it could lead to World War III. A populace fooled into war is unlikely to back it for any length of time.

In Syria, the US will either fold or go all in. On past form, it will choose the latter and rue it ever after. Few Americans, inside or outside the government, realize either that those are the choices or that the stakes are so high. Sadly, such realizations may come only when their sons and daughters are drafted, or as the image of a mushroom cloud fills the screens of their mobile devices.

FROM A READER REVIEW: “This is a MUST READ for all who wonder what happened to the unflinching American spirit that sparked a revolution…”

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