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Tag Archives: Iraq

Balance Sheet of the Forever War, by Patrick J. Buchanan

There’s not much on the revenue side of the Forever War, but there’s a long list on the expense side. From Patrick J. Buchanan at lewrockwell.com:

“It is time for this war in Afghanistan to end,” said Gen. John Nicholson in Kabul on his retirement Sunday after a fourth tour of duty and 31 months as commander of U.S. and NATO forces.

Labor Day brought news that another U.S. serviceman had been killed in an insider attack by an Afghan soldier.

Why do we continue to fight in Afghanistan?

“We continue to fight simply because we are there,” said retired Gen. Karl Eikenberry who preceded Gen. Nicholson.

“Absent political guidance and a diplomatic strategy,” Eikenberry told The New York Times, “military commanders have filled the vacuum by waging a war all agree cannot be won militarily.”

This longest war in U.S. history has become another no-win war.

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The Other Side of John McCain That Nobody Is Talking About, by Max Blumenthal

John McCain was a tireless promoter of the American Empire. From Max Blumenthal at consortiumnews.com:

If the paeans to McCain by diverse political climbers seems detached from reality, it’s because they reflect the elite view of U.S. military interventions as a chess game, with the millions killed by unprovoked aggression mere statistics

As the Cold War entered its final act in 1985, journalist Helena Cobban participated in an academic conference at an upscale resort near Tucson, Arizona, on U.S.-Soviet interactions in the Middle East. When she attended what was listed as the “Gala Dinner with keynote speech”, she quickly learned that the virtual theme of the evening was, “Adopt a Muj.”

I remember mingling with all of these wealthy Republican women from the Phoenix suburbs and being asked, ‘Have you adopted a muj?” Cobban told me. “Each one had pledged money to sponsor a member of the Afghan mujahedin in the name of beating the communists. Some were even seated at the event next to their personal ‘muj.’”

The keynote speaker of the evening, according to Cobban, was a hard-charging freshman member of Congress named John McCain.

During the Vietnam war, McCain had been captured by the North Vietnamese Army after being shot down on his way to bomb a civilian lightbulb factory. He spent two years in solitary confinement and underwent torture that left him with crippling injuries. McCain returned from the war with a deep, abiding loathing of his former captors, remarking as late as 2000, “I hate the gooks. I will hate them as long as I live.” After he was criticized for the racist remark, McCain refused to apologize. “I was referring to my prison guards,” he said, “and I will continue to refer to them in language that might offend some people because of the beating and torture of my friends.”

‘Hanoi Hilton’ prison where McCain was tortured. (Wikimedia Commons)

McCain’s visceral resentment informed his vocal support for the mujahedin as well as the right-wing contra death squads in Central America — any proxy group sworn to the destruction of communist governments.

To continue reading: The Other Side of John McCain That Nobody Is Talking About

Deadly Protests in Iraq Push Country to Brink of Revolution, by Middle East Eye

Iraq is yet another shining success for the neoconservative vision of the Middle East. From Middle East Eye at theantimedia.org:

Major protests were set to take place across Iraq on Friday as anger continued to mount over power cuts, unemployment and water shortages in the south, as well as the heavy-handed government response to demonstrations.

Protesters attempted to gather in Baghdad’s Tahrir Square, as well as in public spaces across the country, as a mounting death toll and reports of arbitrary arrests by security forces and militias stoked resentment.

Thousands gathered in Nasiriyah, Dhi Qar province, which has been a hotspot for protests in the south. Placards and Twitter hashtags referred to a “hunger revolution”.

At least 16 people have been killed and hundreds wounded and arrested since protests began less than two weeks ago in Basra over power cuts and high water salination.

 

Some activists have put the death toll much higher, but repeated government shutdowns of the internet have made documenting the violence difficult. The Ministry of Defence has claimed that 274 security personnel have been injured.

In a statement on Friday, military spokesperson Brigadier General Yahya Rasool said that the “right to peaceful protest is guaranteed by the Iraqi constitution” and that Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi had “instructed the security forces to facilitate and protect peaceful protests”.

However, the Iraqi High Commission for Human Rights said on Friday that 336 people had been arrested and then released during the protests in the south.

Amnesty International quoted sources in Baghdad saying that protesters were being “beaten and killed” under the cover of the internet blackouts.

“Deliberately disabling the internet is a sinister restriction to the right to freedom of expression and strongly indicates that the authorities have something to hide,” said Lynn Maalouf, Amnesty International’s deputy director for the Middle East and North Africa, in a statement on Thursday.

“We fear this blackout is deliberately designed to give carte blanche to the security forces to repress peaceful activists without being recorded and held accountable.”

To continue reading: Deadly Protests in Iraq Push Country to Brink of Revolution

Middle East Alliances, Old and New, by Rebecca Gordon

A review of US policies and wars in the Middle East, and it’s not very pretty. From Rebecca Gordon at tomdispatch.com:

My father and I always had a tacit agreement: “We will never speak of That Part of the World.” He’d grown up in an Orthodox Jewish family in Norfolk, Virginia. His own father, a refugee from early-twentieth-century pogroms in what is now Ukraine, had been the president of his local Zionist organization. A liberal in most things (including his ardent opposition to both of the U.S. wars against Iraq), my father remained a Zionist to his dying day. We both knew that if we were ever to have a real conversation about Israel/Palestine, unforgivable things would be said.

As a child in the 1950s, I absorbed the ambient belief that the state of Israel had been created after World War II as an apology gift from the rest of the world to European Jews who had survived the Holocaust. I was raised to think that if the worst were to happen and Jews were once again to become targets of genocidal rage, my family could always emigrate to Israel, where we would be safe. As a young woman, I developed a different (and, in retrospect, silly) line on That Part of the World: there’s entirely too much sun there, and it’s made them all crazy.

It wasn’t until I’d reached my thirties that I began to pay serious attention to the region that is variously known as the Middle East, the Arab world, or the Greater Middle East and North Africa. And when I did, I discovered how deep my ignorance (like that of so many fellow Americans) really was and how much history, geography, and politics there is to try to understand. What follows is my attempt to get a handle on how the Trump presidency has affected U.S. policy and actions in That Part of the World.

Old Alliances…

The United States has a long-standing and deep alliance with Israel. During the Cold War, Washington viewed that country as its bulwark in the oil-rich region against both a rising pan-Arab nationalism and real or imagined Soviet encroachments. In fact, according to the Library of Congress’s Congressional Research Service, “Israel is the largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign assistance since World War II. To date, the United States has provided Israel $134.7 billion current, or non-inflation-adjusted, dollars in bilateral assistance and missile defense funding.”

To continue reading: Middle East Alliances, Old and New

 

War Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore, by Tom Streithorst

Any defenders of the US warfare state who wish to answer the following question, write to your heart’s content in the comment section below. The question: what has been the purpose of the last seventy years of US warfare? From Tom Streithorst at theamericanconservatie.com:

It’s become obsolete, the days of conquest are behind us, yet the military-industrial complex grinds on all the same.

America spends more on its military than all its enemies put together yet it still can’t win wars. Failed adventures in Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan have drained America’s power and diminished its prestige. The bloated Pentagon budget actually makes us weaker.

Here’s the weird bit: nobody seems to care. If any other government department spent as much and accomplished as little, the populace would be in arms, complaining about wasteful government spending. Instead we mumble “Thank you for your service” and increase defense appropriations.

War has always been brutal and destructive, but once upon a time it had a purpose. William of Normandy invaded Britain knowing victory would make him rich beyond dreams of avarice. Soldiers followed Genghis Khan, Hernan Cortes, and Napoleon Bonaparte for the opportunity to steal gold, land, or slaves from their defeated enemies. Loot captured in war could transform a man’s life, give him the money he needed to buy land or start a business. For thousands of years, the opportunities inherent in battle gave many men their only chance to escape their impoverished origins. Success in war could turn a brigand into a king.

Today it is trade and technology, not conquest, that makes us rich. It is a cliché of the left that America went to war in Iraq to take their oil. This is a serious misreading of history. For one thing, had George W. Bush told Saddam to either share his oil wealth with ExxonMobil or face invasion, Saddam would have certainly complied. For another, Korean, Russian, Angolan, and Chinese companies all control more Iraqi oil fields today than do American firms. Had we gone to war to steal Iraqi oil, we might have done a better job of it.

At least in the developed West, conquest is profitable no more. This has been true for over a century. Back in 1910, Norman Angell wrote “The Great Illusion,” a pamphlet proclaiming that war was obsolete. He noted that the intertwined nature of the global economy made war almost as destructive to the victor as the vanquished. Should they go to war, Angell observed, Germany and England would be slaughtering potential clients, not capturing prospective slaves. And victory in the Franco-Prussian War hadn’t made Germany richer: “When Germany annexed Alsatia, no individual German secured Alsatian property as the spoils of war.”

To continue reading: War Doesn’t Make Sense Anymore

Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations, by Tyler Durden

Fifteen years after the US invasion, Iraq still has a way to go before it becomes a model Middle East democracy. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

Widespread protests have gripped multiple Iraqi cities for a week in response to government corruption, rising unemployment, and an electricity shortage which has left residents suffocating in soaring summer temperatures. 

What began as anger over a continued failing infrastructure, however, has increasingly turned into political protests and clashes with police after May 12th parliamentary elections tainted by broad allegations of fraud failed to produce a new government.

And now Iraq’s top Shiite cleric, Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani, has weighed in publicly on the side of the protesters, stating they are facing an “extreme lack of public services”.

Sistani’s words were issued via live television broadcast during a significant escalation in the Shia hotbed of Najaf on Friday, where hundreds of protesters stormed the city’s international airport, bringing air traffic to a halt.

Video showed demonstrators rushing through security barriers while chanting demands, and multiple fires were lit just outside the terminal. Iraqi police appear to have held back, as the protesters numbers were significant — possibly into the thousands according to social media footage — and were able to block key access points to the airport. State TV reported that security was restored and operations resumed as normal by late Friday.

Though sporadic protests over the country’s failing electricity grid have been ongoing throughout the summer, last weekend witnessed the first significant clashes with security forces in the southern city of Basra, resulting in an least one death. And this weekend’s clashes appear to be escalating with at least two more deaths reported in Amara, the capital of the Maysan province on the border with Iran.

In response, Iraqi prime minister Haider al-Abadi reportedly held an emergency homeland security cabinet meeting Friday and personally went to the restive southern city of Basra to address and attempt to calm the current unrest.

To continue reading: Iraq Protesters Storm Airport, Oil Offices Amidst Energy Crisis; Foreign Companies Begin Evacuations

Sen. Paul to Hold Hearing on ‘Unauthorized War’s Effect on Federal Spending’, by Daniel McAdams

Those unauthorized wars have been a big ticket indeed. Perhaps more essential than an accounting of those costs is how the US can fight unauthorized (by Congress) wars in the first place. From Daniel McAdams at ronpaulinstitute.org:

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Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) announced today that on Wednesday, June 6th, he will be holding a hearing on the enormous costs of the endless wars which continue to be fought under the 2001 Congressional Authorization for the Use of Military Force passed after the 9/11 attacks.

According to a press release from Paul’s office, the hearing “will explore both the financial impact and the constitutional implications of open-ended war under the existing Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and examine the potential ramifications if Congress adopts the revised AUMF proposed by Senators Bob Corker (R-TN) and Tim Kaine (D-VA).”

Unlike the great majority of Congressional hearings, Paul’s line-up of witnesses actually promises to provide some serious debate and cogent analysis of the issue. Noted Constitutional scholars Judge Andrew Napolitano (a member of the Ron Paul Institute Board) and Professor Jonathan Turley will provide expert testimony. The two will be joined by Christopher Anders, Deputy Director of the ACLU Washington Legislative Office.

The Corker/Kaine revised AUMF is sold as Congress finally waking up to its Constitutional war obligations, but as Sen. Paul has noted in a letter to his Senate colleagues, “it is clear upon reading that the Kaine/Corker AUMF gives nearly unlimited power to this or any President to be at war anywhere, anytime and against anyone, with minimal justification and no prior specific authority.”

By many estimates, Iraq and Afghanistan alone have cost the American taxpayer close to $3 trillion with no end in sight and no “victory” in sight. That does not include money spent to overthrow and murder Libya’s Gaddafi, to raise an army of jihadists to overthrow Assad in Syria, and to expand the US military presence to 50 out of 53 African countries. And, of course, to backstop Saudi Arabia’s genocide in Yemen.

Sen. Paul’s hearing of the Senate Subcommittee on Federal Spending Oversight and Emergency Management will take place on June 6th at 2:30 p.m. eastern time in SD-342, Dirksen Senate Office Building.

http://ronpaulinstitute.org/archives/congress-alert/2018/june/04/sen-paul-to-hold-hearing-on-unauthorized-war-s-effect-on-federal-spending/

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