Tag Archives: Iraq

US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid? by Michael Scheuer

Not to spoil it, but because this is SLL, and SLL is generally anti-interventionist you can probably guess that the correct answer is the last choice: just plain stupid. From Michael Scheuer at theburningplatform.com:

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We are halfway through May, 2017, and it seems to be a month that again highlights the dearth of commonsense in the minds of most of those who are responsible for conducting the republic’s foreign and domestic affairs. On this score, one event merits special notice, namely, the arming of the Kurds.
This decision will eventually have such a widespread and disastrous impact on the Middle East region that the interventionist diplomats, media, generals, and academics who advised President Trump to arm the Kurds will have to fall back on a paraphrase of that old Iraq-War, Bush lie, “We did our best and the calamity that resulted from our decision to arm the Kurds is a case of unintended consequences.” When the worst occurs, anyone with a bit of commonsense will recognize that the failure, destabilization, and additional war that has resulted from arming the Kurds was something that (a) was perfectly and easily predictable and (b) another long step into a fatal swamp in which America has nothing at stake save the feelings, sensitivities, and ardor for lucre of the already rich American governing elite. But first, take a quick look at these two maps.

As can be seen, there are substantial Kurdish populations in Syria, Turkey, Iraq, and Iran, and, at least in Iraq, Kurdish territories sit upon enormous oil and natural gas reserves. Each of those four nations has long feared the Kurds’ strident demands for an independent Kurdish state, their fighting abilities, and their fiery nationalism. As fear always does, the nations’ fear of the Kurds has led to their economic, social, linguistic, and – at times — military oppression by each government. In short, Syria, Iraq, Turkey, and Iran have long seen their Kurdish populations as malcontents bent on independence and so a threat to their territorial integrity.

To continue reading: US Thinking on Arming the Kurds: Complex, Intricate, Nuanced, or Just Plain Stupid?

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President Trump: Toss Your Generals’ War Escalation Plans In the Trash, by Ron Paul

The Trump generals’ war escalation plans will work no better than those of the Bush and Obama generals. Not only will they edge the US closer to bankruptcy, they’ll create more terrorists and get the US further stuck on Middle Eastern tar baby. From Ron Paul at the ronpaulinstitute.org:

By the end of this month, Defense Secretary James Mattis and National Security Advisor HR McMaster will deliver to President Trump their plans for military escalations in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria. President Trump would be wise to rip the plans up and send his national security team back to the drawing board – or replace them. There is no way another “surge” in Afghanistan and Iraq (plus a new one in Syria) puts America first. There is no way doing the same thing over again will succeed any better than it did the last time.

Near the tenth anniversary of the US war on Afghanistan – seven years ago – I went to the Floor of Congress to point out that the war makes no sense. The original authorization had little to do with eliminating the Taliban. It was a resolution to retaliate against those who attacked the United States on September 11, 2001. From what we know now, the government of Saudi Arabia had far more to do with the financing and planning of 9/11 than did the Taliban. But we’re still pumping money into that lost cause. We are still killing Afghanis and in so doing creating the next generation of terrorists.

The war against ISIS will not end with its defeat in Mosul and Raqqa. We will not pack up and go home. Instead, the Pentagon and State Department have both said that US troops would remain in Iraq after ISIS is defeated. The continued presence of US troops in Iraq will provide all the recruiting needed for more ISIS or ISIS-like resistance groups to arise, which will in turn lead to a permanent US occupation of Iraq. The US “experts” have completely misdiagnosed the problem so it no surprise that their solutions will not work. They have claimed that al-Qaeda and ISIS arose in Iraq because we left, when actually they arose because we invaded in the first place.

The Silent Slaughter of the US Air War, by Nicolas J. S. Davies

Unless you live in someplace like Iraq or Syria, you probably have no idea how many tons of bombs the US is dropping. The numbers are astounding. From Nicolas J. S. Davies at antiwar.com:

April 2017 was another month of mass slaughter and unimaginable terror for the people of Mosul in Iraq and the areas around Raqqa and Tabqa in Syria, as the heaviest, most sustained U.S.-led bombing campaign since the American War in Vietnam entered its 33rd month.

The Airwars monitoring group has compiled reports of 1,280 to 1,744 civilians killed by at least 2,237 bombs and missiles that rained down from U.S. and allied warplanes in April (1,609 on Iraq and 628 on Syria). The heaviest casualties were in and around Old Mosul and West Mosul, where 784 to 1,074 civilians were reported killed, but the area around Tabqa in Syria also suffered heavy civilian casualties.

In other war zones, as I have explained in previous articles (here and here), the kind of “passive” reports of civilian deaths compiled by Airwars have only ever captured between 5 percent and 20 percent of the actual civilian war deaths revealed by comprehensive mortality studies. Iraqbodycount, which used a similar methodology to Airwars, had only counted 8 percent of the deaths discovered by a mortality study in occupied Iraq in 2006.

Airwars appears to be collecting reports of civilian deaths more thoroughly than Iraqbodycount 11 years ago, but it classifies large numbers of them as “contested” or “weakly reported,” and is deliberately conservative in its counting. For instance, in some cases, it has counted local media reports of “many deaths” as a minimum of one death, with no maximum figure. This is not to fault Airwars’ methods, but to recognize its limitations in contributing to an actual estimate of civilian deaths.

Allowing for various interpretations of Airwars’ data, and assuming that, like such efforts in the past, it is capturing between 5 percent and 20 percent of actual deaths, a serious estimate of the number of civilians killed by the U.S.-led bombing campaign since 2014 would by now have to be somewhere between 25,000 and 190,000.

The Pentagon recently revised its own facetious estimate of the number of civilians it has killed in Iraq and Syria since 2014 to 352. That is less than a quarter of the 1,446 victims whom Airwars has positively identified by name.

Airwars has also collected reports of civilians killed by Russian bombing in Syria, which outnumbered its reports of civilians killed by U.S.-led bombing for most of 2016. However, since the U.S.-led bombing escalated to over 10,918 bombs and missiles dropped in the first three months of 2017, the heaviest bombardment since the campaign began in 2014, Airwars’ reports of civilians killed by U.S.-led bombing have surpassed reports of deaths from Russian bombing.

Because of the fragmentary nature of all Airwars’ reports, this pattern may or may not accurately reflect whether the US or Russia has really killed more civilians in each of these periods. There are many factors that could affect that.

To continue reading: The Silent Slaughter of the US Air War

They Said That? 4/6/17

Some quotes from the past:

In the next century, the community of nations may see more and more of the very kind of threat Iraq poses now – a rogue state with weapons of mass destruction, ready to use them or provide them to terrorists, drug traffickers, or organized criminals who travel the world among us unnoticed. If we fail to respond today, Saddam, and all those who would follow in his footsteps, will be emboldened tomorrow by the knowledge that they can act with impunity, even in the face of a clear message from the United Nations Security Council, and clear evidence of a weapons of mass destruction program.

President Bill Clinton – Remarks at the Pentagon , February 17, 1998.

In Iraq, a dictator is building and hiding weapons that could enable him to dominate the Middle East and intimidate the civilized world — and we will not allow it.”

President George W. Bush addressing the AEI, Washington Hilton Hotel, February 26, 2003

There is no question that Iraq possesses biological and chemical weapons and that he seeks to acquire additional weapons of mass destruction, including nuclear weapons. That is not in debate. I also agree with President Bush that Saddam Hussein is a threat to peace and must be disarmed, to quote President Bush directly.

Senator Chris Dodd (D-Conn.) – Congressional Record , October 8, 2002.

Remember, Peter, this is a man who has used poison gas on his own people and on his neighbors repeatedly. He’s trying to get ballistic missiles, nuclear weapons, chemical and biological weapons. He could be a mass murderer of the first order of magnitude. We are not going to allow that to happen.

Vice President Al Gore – ABC News’ “Special Report,” December 16, 1998.

According to the CIA’s report, all U.S. intelligence experts agree that Iraq is seeking nuclear weapons. There is little question that Saddam Hussein wants to develop nuclear weapons.”

Senator John Kerry – Congressional Record, October 9, 2002.

We must eliminate that [potential nuclear] threat now before it is too late. But that isn’t just a future threat. Saddam’s existing biological and chemical weapons capabilities pose real threats to America today, tomorrow. … [He] is working to develop delivery systems like missiles and unmanned aerial vehicles that could bring these deadly weapons against U.S. forces and U.S. facilities in the Middle East. He could make these weapons available to many terrorist groups, third parties, which have contact with his government. Those groups, in turn, could bring those weapons into the United States and unleash a devastating attack against our citizens. I fear that greatly.

Senator Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) – Congressional Record, October 10, 2002.

[It] is Hussein’s vigorous pursuit of biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, and his present and potential future support for terrorist acts and organizations, that make him a terrible danger to the people to the United States.

Senator Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.), Congressional Record, October 10, 2002.

We have known for many years that Saddam Hussein is seeking and developing weapons of mass destruction. But information from the intelligence community over the past six months does not point to Iraq as an imminent threat to the United States or a major proliferator of weapons of mass destruction.” –

Senator Ted Kennedy (D-Mass.), Remarks at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, October 27, 2002.

It is true that much of the intelligence turned out to be wrong.

George W. Bush . Transcript of Bush speech. CNN (December 20, 2005).

No one was more surprised than I that we didn’t find (WMD’s).

General Tommy Franks . Transcript: An ‘American Soldier’. Fox News (December 5, 2005

Media Downplays America’s Bombing of Civilians in Mosul, by Ben Norton

The media arm of the military-industrial-intelligence obfuscates American destruction and killing and amplifies that of our adversaries. There’s probably nothing new about that, but readers should be alert to it. From Ben Norton at theantimedia.com:

If you read the headlines of major corporate media outlets, you’d think hundreds of Iraqi civilians in Mosul coincidentally died in the same location that just so happened to be hit by a US airstrike.

A March 17 US attack in the city of Mosul resulted in a massacre of civilians. The monitoring group Airwars estimated that between 130 and 230 Iraqis were killed in the incident. Iraqi media reported similar figures.

Civilian victims of the US-led bombing campaign to oust ISIS from the major northern Iraqi city, which has been terrorized by the extremist group for three years, have received little media coverage.

The Washington Post (3/28/17) noted, nevertheless, that the recent airstrike “was potentially one of the worst US-led civilian bombings in 25 years.”

Yet just a few days before the Post published this stark fact, leading news networks went out of their way to craft some of the most euphemistic headlines imaginable.

ABC News (3/25/17) took the cake, giving its report the disjointed title “US Reviewing Airstrike That Corresponds to Site Where 200 Iraqi Civilians Allegedly Died.” (This story was also syndicated by Yahoo News—3/25/17.)

Note that the Iraqis simply died; they weren’t killed. The airstrike was a mere temporal and geographic coincidence.

The Los Angeles Times (3/25/17‎) used similarly obfuscatory language, with the headline “US Acknowledges Airstrike in Mosul, Where More Than 200 Iraqi Civilians Died.” This article, which was republished by the Chicago Tribune (3/25/17), made it sound like 200 Iraqis have been killed in all of Mosul.

To continue reading: Media Downplays America’s Bombing of Civilians in Mosul

From Nuisance to Threat: The High Cost of Truth, by Paul Craig Roberts

Truth, and respect for it, is vanishing. From Paul Craig Roberts at paulcraigroberts.org:

When one gives so much scarce time and energy from one’s life to a large and unknown public, one needs to know that it is sufficiently appreciated to be a worthwhile use of one’s time and energy. This is especially the case when there are large costs associated with the commitment.

Your response to my quarterly request for donations showed me that enough of you value what I am doing to justify its continuation.

I am convinced that the US, and probably the entire Western world, that is, the American Empire, has entered an era in which respect for truth does not exist in public and private institutions. We have been watching this develop for some time. Think, for example, back to August 3, 2002, a recent time in terms of our present predicament, but a time prior to political consciousness of anyone younger today than 33 years old. In the summer of 2002, the world was being prepared by propaganda for a US invasion of Iraq. On August 3 of that year, the prestigous British publication, The Economist, summed up the consensus of ruling opinion in two sentences: “The honest choices now are to give up and give in, or to remove Mr. Hussein before he gets his [nuclear] bomb. Painful as it is, our vote is for war.”

As Lewis Lapham, myself and others asked at the time, what bomb? The only evidence of a bomb was fabricated and known to be fabricated. The UN weapons inspectors concluded that the infamous Weapons of Mass Destruction were a creation of US propaganda. President George W. Bush eventually acknowledged that Iraq had no such weapons. US Secretary of State Colin Powell said that the lies he was deceived by the Bush regime into telling the UN about Saddam Hussein’s WMD are a stain on his career.

Despite the 2003 US invasion known to have been based entirely on lies, US troops were not pulled out of Iraq until 2011, and whether or not they were pulled out, they are back in Iraq now. None of these facts has had any impact on the good opinion that Washington and the media have of themselves.

To continue reading: From Nuisance to Threat: The High Cost of Truth

What a Mess: The US Blunders Deeper Into The Mysterious Levant, by Eric Margolis

Someday, in the distant future, the US will have lost so much in the Middle East that it will try something completely different. It will get out and stay out. The denizens of that region can’t eat their oil, they must sell it to someone, and the US is the world’s largest market. Israel has a nuclear arsenal and can take care of itself. A US withdrawal from the Middle East would be the first glimmer of sanity in US foreign policy in quite some time. From Eric Margolis at lewrockwell.com:

We are now moving rapidly into stage II of Levantine Madness as the US boosts its intervention in the war-torn Mideast.

Five thousand US troops are back in Iraq to bolster the shattered nation’s puppet regime that is propped up by American bayonets. New Iraqi military formations have been formed, totally equipped with modern US M1 Abrams tanks, Humvees, and fleets of trucks. More US forces are on the way.

These US-financed Iraqi units are euphemistically called ‘anti-terrorism forces’ and are supervised by US officers. In fact, what we see is the old British Imperial Raj formula of white officers commanding native mercenary troops.

These Iraqi units are now assaulting ISIS-held Mosul, Iraq’s second city, and smaller towns. Most of America’s Iraqi ‘sepoys’ (as native troops in the British Indian Raj were known) are Shia bitterly opposed to the nation’s minority Sunnis. After its 2003 invasion of Iraq, the US encouraged animosity between Shia and Sunni as a way of breaking resistance to foreign occupation – ‘divide et impera’ as the Romans used to say.

Interestingly, the backbone of ISIS leadership is made up of senior officers of Saddam Hussein’s old Iraqi army. The ‘Mother of All Battles’ continues, as President Saddam predicted shortly before he was lynched.

Meanwhile, thousands of US troops and Special Forces are now also engaged in Syria though just whom they are battling remains confused. Syria has become a mad house of warring factions backed by outside powers – a sort of modern version of Germany’s dreadful 30 Year’s War of the 1600’s.

To continue reading: What a Mess: The US Blunders Deeper Into The Mysterious Levant