Tag Archives: Iraq

Trump’s Plan for Iran: Put Terrorists in Charge, by Ron Paul

Regime change in Iran will build on the policy’s successes in Iraq, Syria, and Libya. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitutue.org:

Back in the 2008 presidential race, I explained to then-candidate Rudy Giuliani the concept of “blowback.” Years of US meddling and military occupation of parts of the Middle East motivated a group of terrorists to carry out attacks against the United States on 9/11. They didn’t do it because we are so rich and so free, as the neocons would have us believe. They came over here because we had been killing Muslims “over there” for decades.

How do we know this? Well, they told us. Osama bin Laden made it clear why al-Qaeda sought to attack the US. They didn’t like the US taking sides in the Israel-Palestine conflict and they didn’t like US troops on their holy land.

Why believe a terrorist, some responded. As I explained to Giuliani ten years ago, the concept of “blowback” is well-known in the US intelligence community and particularly by the CIA.

Unfortunately, it is clear that Giuliani never really understood what I was trying to tell him. Like the rest of the neocons, he either doesn’t get it or doesn’t want to get it. In a recent speech to the MeK – a violent Islamist-Marxist cult that spent two decades on the US terror watch list – Giuliani promised that the Trump Administration had made “regime change” a priority for Iran. He even told the members of that organization – an organization that has killed dozens of Americans – that Trump would put them in charge of Iran!

Giuliani shares with numerous other neocons like John Bolton a strong relationship with this group. In fact, both Giuliani and Bolton have been on the payroll of the MeK and have received tens of thousands of dollars to speak to their followers. This is another example of how foreign lobbies and special interest groups maintain an iron grip on our foreign policy.

Does anyone really think Iran will be better off if Trump puts a bunch of “former” terrorists in charge of the country? How did that work in Libya?

It’s easy to dismiss the bombastic Giuliani as he speaks to his financial benefactors in the MeK. Unfortunately, however, Giuliani’s claims were confirmed late last week, when the Washington Free Beacon published a three-page policy paper being circulated among National Security Council officials containing plans to spark regime change in Iran.

To continue reading: Trump’s Plan for Iran: Put Terrorists in Charge

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Coming Attraction: Lunatic Loose in West Wing, by Ray McGovern

Ray McGovern recounts his history with John Bolton. From McGovern at consortiumnews.com:

As Uber-Hawk John Bolton prepares to take over as national security adviser on Monday, Ray McGovern looks back at when Bolton was one of the “crazies” in the George W. Bush administration.

John Bolton’s March 22 appointment-by-tweet as President Donald Trump’s national security adviser has given “March Madness” a new and ominous meaning.  There is less than a week left to batten down the hatches before Bolton makes U.S. foreign policy worse that it already is.

During a recent interview with The Intercept’s Jeremy Scahill  (minutes 35 to 51) I mentioned that Bolton fits seamlessly into a group of take-no-prisoners zealots once widely known in Washington circles as “the crazies,” and now more commonly referred to as “neocons.”

Beginning in the 1970s, “the crazies” sobriquet was applied to Cold Warriors hell bent on bashing Russians, Chinese, Arabs — anyone who challenged U.S. “exceptionalism” (read hegemony).  More to the point, I told Scahill that President (and former CIA Director) George H. W. Bush was among those using the term freely, since it seemed so apt.  I have been challenged to prove it.

I don’t make stuff up.  And with the appointment of the certifiable Bolton, the “the crazies” have become far more than an historical footnote.  Rather, the crucible that Bush-41 and other reasonably moderate policymakers endured at their hands give the experience major relevance today.  Thus, I am persuaded it would be best not to ask people simply to take my word for it when I refer to “the crazies,” their significance, and the differing attitudes the two Bushes had toward them.

George H. W. Bush and I had a longstanding professional and, later, cordial relationship.  For many years after he stopped being president, we stayed in touch — mostly by letter.  This is the first time I have chosen to share any of our personal correspondence.  I do so not only because of the ominous importance of Bolton’s appointment, but also because I am virtually certain the elder Bush would want me to.

Scanned below is a note George H. W. Bush sent me eight weeks before his son, egged on by the same “crazies” his father knew well from earlier incarnations, launched an illegal and unnecessary war for regime change in Iraq — unleashing chaos in the Middle East.

To continue reading: Coming Attraction: Lunatic Loose in West Wing

Unbridgeable Gap: Who We Were and Who We Thought We Were, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

The slogans wear thin when wars go inconclusively on and on and the only winners are the defense contractors and other recipients, by fair means or foul, of US government largesse. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

Americans, and their soldiers, were led to believe they fought for democracy and freedom these past 17 years; the truth was far murkier.

“War is just a racket… I spent thirty-three years and four months in active military service…during that period, I spent most of my time being a high class muscle-man for Big Business, for Wall Street and for the Bankers. In short, I was a racketeer, a gangster for capitalism.”
~ Major General Smedley Butler, US Marine Corps, 2 time Medal of Honor recipient (1935)

I grew up in blue-collar Staten Island, New York City. My mother was a waitress, my father an overqualified civil servant who also painted houses and delivered Chinese food in Brooklyn. I come from a world where it seems you’re either a cop, a fireman, or a junkie. My mother had four brothers; two, along with my grandfather, were FDNY to the core; the others fell deep into the drug and alcohol game; it killed them both. But not me; no, I was the family’s golden child, always the pleaser, always high achieving, and I’d do something special. I thought it was my destiny.

In July 2001, while my high school friends partied during the summer before college, I found myself at Cadet Basic Training – “Beast Barracks,” as we called – a new officer candidate at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point. Hating it from the start, I wanted out, but, well, quitting wasn’t an option. Four years later, I was one of 911 cadets who graduated – Time magazineprofiled us as the “Class of 9/11” – and commissioned in the US Army on May 28, 2005. Some 18 months later, I arrived in Baghdad.

For me, a high school senior in the year before the world changed, the army seemed glamorous, and, surprisingly safe. Back then there were no long, or “real,” wars. American soldiers almost never fired a shot in anger, let alone got killed. I guess I imagined overseas travel, at worst a tour peacekeeping in Kosovo or something, which, I figured, would provide cool photo ops and interesting stories.

Two months after beginning basic training, in September, while sparring in plebe (freshman) boxing class, the towers fell, and everything changed. I’m embarrassed to admit that, for the next four years at West Point, my biggest fear was that the wars would end before I could ship over and do my part. Truth is, I don’t recognize that kid anymore.

To continue reading: Unbridgeable Gap: Who We Were and Who We Thought We Were

Welcome to Iraq War 3½, by Jason Ditz

America starts wars, it fights them, it prolongs them, but it no longer ends them. From Jason Ditz at antiwar.com:

With the last of the ISIS-held territory in Iraq recaptured, Iraqi officials are cheerfully proclaiming the war is over. Pentagon’s commanders, who recognize that this is the third “end of the Iraq war” in just 15 years, are trying to spin it as a new phase in the continuing war.

It makes sense for them to present it this way, US operations aren’t changing substantially. The troops are staying, which is unsurprising as the Pentagon was insisting from the start of this most recent buildup that the deployment was to be more or less permanent.

So US officials want the public to view this more as the next phase of Iraq. Pentagon officials are upbeat that they are going into the next phase, since ISIS did get mostly defeated, albeit at the cost of badly damaging or outright destroying multiple Sunni cities. As a practical matter, there isn’t much reason for confidence. Everything that derailed the previous US strategies in Iraq will still be a problem, only more so.

As with the brief “shock and awe” period giving way to a much less specific open-ended campaign, the defeat of ISIS will give way to a new round of mission creep, as officials come up with new goals for the war to justify its continuation. Another stability-centric set of missions for a Pentagon that’s been struggling mightily with that wherever they intervene.

A top priority is going to be re-training and building up the Iraqi military, of course. The US has already given Iraq an entire military’s worth of gear before, much of which was looted and lost in the ISIS fighting. High casualties among the best-trained fighters mean in many ways the US is starting from square one again, especially on gear, and Iraq’s economic woes mean they’re in an even worse position to pay for anything the US wants them to have.

Beyond that, Pentagon officials have made a stated goal of ensuring that ISIS doesn’t reemerge, and that some other faction doesn’t emerge to replace them. This is the most open-ended goal, obviously, as it could conceivably take forever. It’s also the least realistic goal, as a cursory look at the last 15 years shows.

To continue reading: Welcome to Iraq War 3½

15 Years of War: To Whose Benefit? by Charles Hugh Smith

Why does the US fight wars but not win them? Here’s a hint: it’s a very profitable arrangement for some. From Charles Hugh Smith at oftwominds.com:

As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil.
Setting aside the 12 years of “no fly zone” air combat operations above Iraq from 1991 to 2003, the U.S. has been at war for almost 17 years in Afghanistan and 15 years in Iraq. (If the word “war” is too upsetting, then substitute “continuing combat operations”.)
Since the burdens and costs of these combat operations are borne solely by the volunteers of the U.S. Armed Forces, the American populace pays little to no attention to the wars unless a household has a family member in uniform who is in theatre.
Permanent combat operations are now a barely audible background noise in America, something we’ve habituated to: the human costs are invisible to the vast majority of residents, and the financial costs are buried in the ever-expanding mountain of national debt. What’s another borrowed trillion dollars on top of the $21 trillion pile?
But a nation continually waging war should ask: to whose benefit? (cui bono) As near as I can make out, the nation has received near-zero benefit from combat operations in Afghanistan, one of the most corrupt nations on Earth where most of the billions of dollars “invested” have been squandered or stolen by the kleptocrats the U.S. has supported.
What did the nation gain for the tragic loss of lives and crippling wounds suffered by our personnel and Afghan civilians?
As for Iraq, the implicit gain was supposed to be access to Iraqi oil. As near as I can make out, the U.S. imports about 600,000 barrels of oil per day from Iraq, a relatively modest percentage of our total oil consumption of 19.7 million barrels a day.
(Note that the U.S. was importing around 700,000 barrels a day from Iraq before Operation Iraqi Freedom was launched in March 2003–and imports from Iraq declined as a result of the war. So what was the energy-security gain from launching the war?)
Meanwhile, Iraq exports over 2 million barrels a day to China and India, where the presumed benefit to the U.S. is that U.S. corporations can continue to produce shoddy goods using low-cost Asian labor that are exported to U.S. consumers, thereby enabling U.S. corporations to reap $2.3 trillion in profits every year.

The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War With Iran, by Gareth Porter

John Bolton has never let facts stand in the way of his warmongering. From Gareth Porter at theamericanconservative.com:

Everyone knows Bolton is a hawk. Less understood is how he labored in secret to drive Washington and Tehran apart.

In my reporting on U.S.-Israeli policy, I have tracked numerous episodes in which the United States and/or Israel made moves that seemed to indicate preparations for war against Iran. Each time—in 2007, in 2008, and again in 2011—those moves, presented in corporate media as presaging attacks on Tehran, were actually bluffs aimed at putting pressure on the Iranian government.

But the strong likelihood that Donald Trump will now choose John Bolton as his next national security advisor creates a prospect of war with Iran that is very real. Bolton is no ordinary neoconservative hawk. He has been obsessed for many years with going to war against the Islamic Republic, calling repeatedly for bombing Iran in his regular appearances on Fox News, without the slightest indication that he understands the consequences of such a policy.

His is not merely a rhetorical stance: Bolton actively conspired during his tenure as the Bush administration’s policymaker on Iran from 2002 through 2004 to establish the political conditions necessary for the administration to carry out military action.

More than anyone else inside or outside the Trump administration, Bolton has already influenced Trump to tear up the Iran nuclear deal. Bolton parlayed his connection with the primary financier behind both Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump himself—the militantly Zionist casino magnate Sheldon Adelson—to get Trump’s ear last October, just as the president was preparing to announce his policy on the Iran nuclear agreement, the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). He spoke with Trump by phone from Las Vegas after meeting with Adelson.

To continue reading: The Untold Story of John Bolton’s Campaign for War With Iran

Illegal Wars: The New American Way, by Danny Sjursen

No doubt about it, most of the wars the US is currently fighting are unconstitutional. From Danny Sjursen at  truthdig.com:

A U.S. Army soldier patrols with Afghans in the village of Yawez in Afghanistan in 2010. (U.S. Army / CC BY 2.0)

[T]he President is authorized to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on September 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons. …
S.J. Res. 23 (107th): Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), Sept. 18, 2001

The President is authorized to use the Armed Forces of the United States as he determines to be necessary … in order to … defend the national security of the United States against the continuing threat posed by Iraq. …
H. J. Res 114 (107th): Authorization for the Use of Military Force Against Iraq, Oct. 18, 2002

It’s all so obvious to a detached observer. Nonetheless, it remains unspoken. The United States of America is waging several wars with dubious legal sanction in domestic or international law.

The U.S. military stands astride the Greater Mideast region on behalf of an increasingly rogue-like regime in Washington, D.C. Worse still, this isn’t a Donald Trump problem, per se. No, three successive administrations—Democratic and Republican—have widened the scope of a global “war” on a tactic (terror), on the basis of two at best vague, and at worst extralegal, congressional authorizations for the use of force (AUMF). Indeed, the U.S. is veritably addicted to waging undeclared, unwinnable wars with unconvincing legal sanction.

Despite 17 years of fighting, dying and killing, there have been no specific declarations of war. Instead, one president after another, and hundreds of derelict-in-their-duty congress members, have simply decided on their own that a vague resolution, rubber-stamped while the rubble in New York was still smoking, authorizes each and every conflict in which America’s soldiers—and many more civilians—continue to die. This AUMF authorized the president to kill or capture those who perpetrated the 9/11 attacks, but, well, few of America’s current adversaries had anything to do with that.

To continue reading: Illegal Wars: The New American Way