James Mattis has been in the thick of a string of failed wars, but don’t look for any humility or regrets. From Danny Sjursen at truthdig.com:
Last week, in a well-received Wall Street Journal op-ed, former Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis delivered a critique of Donald Trump that was as hollow as it was self-righteous. Explaining his decision to resign from the administration, the retired Marine general known as “Mad Dog” eagerly declared himself “apolitical,” peppering his narrative with cheerful vignettes about his much beloved grunts. “We all know that we’re better than our current politics,” he observed solemnly. “Tribalism must not be allowed to destroy our experiment.”
Yet absent from this personal reflection, which has earned bipartisan adulation, was any kind of out-of-the-box thinking and, more disturbingly, anything resembling a mea culpa—either for his role in the Trump administration or his complicity in America’s failing forever wars in the greater Middle East. For a military man, much less a four-star general, this is a cardinal sin. What’s worse, no one in the mainstream media appears willing to challenge the worldview presented in his essay, concurrent interviews and forthcoming book.
This was disconcerting if unsurprising. In Trump’s America, reflexive hatred for the president has led many in the media to foolishly pin their political hopes on generals like Mattis, leaders of the only public institution the people still trust. Even purportedly liberal journalists like MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, who was once critical of U.S. militarism, have reversed course, defending engagements in Syria and Afghanistan seemingly because the president has expressed interest in winding them down. The fallacy that Mattis and other generals were the voice of reason in the Trump White House, the so-called “adults in the room,” has precluded any serious critique of their actual strategy and advice.
Mike Pompeo wants to tell Iranians about how much the US government cares for them. From Jacob G. Hornberger at fff.org:
In a tiff over whether Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif and his delegation would be permitted to enter the United States as part of a meeting of the United Nations and over whether they would be free to travel freely around New York City, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told a whopper, one that might have even embarrassed Pinocchio. Expressing a desire to be invited to appear on Iranian television, Pompeo said that he would tell Iranians that “we care deeply about them, that we’re supportive of the Iranian people, that we understand that the revolutionary theocracy is not acting in a way that is in their best interest.”
Why, that’s just a lie, a plain old, downright, old-fashioned lie.
When Pompeo is using the pronoun “we,” he is referring to U.S. officials. And the fact is that U.S. officials, from President Trump on down, couldn’t care less about the well-being of the Iranian people. All that U.S. officials care about is re-installing a pro-U.S. dictatorship in Iran, no different from that of the Shah, who U.S. officials made Iran’s brutal dictator in 1953.
After all, look at the U.S. sanctions on Iran. They target the Iranian people for economic impoverishment and even death. The idea is that if the U.S. government can squeeze the life out of the Iranian people, they will rise up in a violent revolution against the ruling regime and replace it with one that is acceptable to U.S. officials.
There is no maximum limit on the impoverishment or death toll that would cause U.S. officials to lift their sanctions. That is, even if sanctions were causing thousands of people to die every week from starvation, illness, or plane crashes owing to the sanctions, U.S. officials would not lift the sanctions. No price in terms of suffering or death of the Iranian people could be high enough to cause U.S. officials to cease and desist.
By the end of this column, it will be clear which country the United States will invade and topple next. Or failing that, it will be clear which country our military-intelligence-industrial complex will be aching to invade next.
We all want to know why America does what it does. And I don’t mean why Americans do what we do. I think that question still will be pondered eons from now by a future professor showing his students a video mind-meld of present-day UFC fighters booting each other in the head while thrilled onlookers cheer (not for either of the fighters but rather for more booting in the head).
But we all seem to assume that America—the entity, the corporation—has some sort of larger reasoning behind the actions it takes, the actions put forward by the ruling elite. And almost all of us know that the reasons we’re given by the press secretaries and caricature-shaped heads on the nightly news are the ripest, most fetid grade of bullshit.
We now know that the invasion of Iraq had nothing to do with weapons of mass destruction. We now know that the crushing of Libya had nothing to do with “stopping a bad man.” If one does even a cursory check of what dictators around the world are up to recently, you’ll find that the U.S. doesn’t care in the slightest whether they are bad or good, whether they’re using their free time to kill thousands of innocent people or to harmonize their rock garden. In fact, the U.S. gives military aid to 70 percent of the world’s dictators. (One would hope that’s only around the holidays though.)
Generals are boot-licking careerists. They won’t speak up against the US’s next idiotic military misadventure. From Danny Sjursen at theamericanconservative.com:
U.S. Pentagon brass listen to President Trump’s State of the Union Address, Feb. 5, 2019. (CSPAN/You Tube/Screengrab)
Poll after poll indicates that the only public institution Americans still trust is the military. Not Congress, not the presidency, not the Supreme Court, the church, or the media. Just the American war machine.
But perhaps that faith in the U.S. Armed Forces is misplaced. I got to thinking about this recently after I wrote articles calling for dissent among military leaders in order to stop what seems to be a likely forthcoming war with Iran. While I still believe that dissent in the ranks stands the best chance of galvanizing an apathetic public against an ill-advised, immoral conflict in the Persian Gulf, I also know its a pipe dream.
These are company men, after all, obedient servants dedicated—no matter how much they protest otherwise—to career and promotion, as much or more than they are to the national interest. The American military, especially at the senior ranks, is apt to let you down whenever courage or moral fortitude is needed most. In nearly 18 years of post-9/11 forever war, not a single general has resigned in specific opposition to what many of them knew to be unwinnable, unethical conflicts. Writing about the not-so-long-ago Vietnam War, former national security advisor H.R. McMaster, himself a problematic war on terror general, labeled in his book title such military acquiescence Dereliction of Duty. That it was, but so is the lack of moral courage and logical reasoning among McMaster and his peers who have submissively waged these endless wars in Americans’ name.
A former soldier applauds Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange’s exposure of US war crimes. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:
It’s a matter of principles over personalities. Whether one loves or hates Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange is besides the point. The First Amendment freedom of the press is at stake now. In this case the government’s tool for oppression is the Espionage Act, an archaic relic from America’s repressive World War I-era legislation. Chelsea Manning already served seven years of a 35-year sentence, one of the longest ever meted out to a whistleblower, and was recently jailed again after she refused to testify about WikiLeaks.
That was harsh and disturbing enough for those of us who value transparency regarding our national security state. Now the Trump administration has gone a step further and threatens, for the first time ever, to imprison an actual publisher – in this case Julian Assange. Charged on 17 counts of violating the Espionage Act, Assange – currently jailed in Britain – faces extradition and a lengthy sentence in the United States.
I’ve been called a whistleblower, myself, for my decision to write a book and articles critical of the American warfare state and the military to which I dedicated my entire adult life from the age of seventeen. But the truth is I’ve got nothing on Chelsea Manning and Julian Assange. Manning broke the law, risked it all, went to prison for her principles. Assange is headed for the same fate. And as a soldier I’m glad they did what they did!
The title question answers itself. Of course we won’t see any consequences, other than those borne by the people of Yemen. From Dave DeCamp at antiwar.com:
The war in Yemen is still raging on with no end in sight and the Saudis are beginning to see the war come home to them. The Houthi regime has been increasing drone strikes inside of Saudi Arabia, hitting an oil pipeline and an arms depot in recent weeks. While the Saudis are beginning to see blowback from their brutal military campaign in the country, we must not forget that this war would not be possible without US intelligence and weapons. President Trump recently bypassed congress by declaring a state of emergency to sell more weapons to the Saudis, using the “Iranian threat” as the excuse.
In 2015 Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and their allies launched an attack on Yemen after the Houthis began to take control of some key cities, including the capital Sanaa. On March 25th 2015, the Obama administration released a statement pledging military and logistical support to the coalition. Four years and over 19,000 airstrikes later the UN has estimated if the war ended in 2019 it would account for 233,000 deaths, 140,000 of those deaths being children under the age of five. Eighty percent of the country’s population relies on humanitarian aid for their food, with 13 million at risk of starvation.
The UN report said the conflict is Yemen was turning into a “war on children,” they estimated 330,000 could be dead by 2022. The Saudis are known to target vital civilian infrastructure in their airstrikes, such as water treatment plants, hospitals, schools and markets. The Saudis have even targeted fisherman to further squeeze the country’s food supply.
This “war on children” is similar to the US campaign against Iraq after the invasion of Kuwait in 1990. After Saddam Hussein’s forces invaded Kuwait over a discrepancy of a contested oil field on their vague border, the UN security council, led by the US, imposed economic sanctions on Iraq. The sanctions were intended to make Iraqi forces withdraw from Kuwait, but even after they did, the US refused to allow the sanctions to be lifted.
Here’s a radical new idea: maybe the US government could leave one or more tiny corners of the world alone for a while. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:
In 2003, George W. Bush took us to war to liberate Iraq from the despotism of Saddam Hussein and convert that nation into a beacon of freedom and prosperity in the Middle East.
Tuesday, Mike Pompeo flew clandestinely into Baghdad, met with the prime minister and flew out in four hours. The visit was kept secret, to prevent an attack on the Americans or the secretary of state.
Query: How successful was Operation Iraqi Freedom, which cost 4,500 U.S. lives, 40,000 wounded and $1 trillion, if, 15 years after our victory, our secretary of state must, for his own security, sneak into the Iraqi capital?
Topic of discussion between Pompeo and the prime minister:
In the event of a U.S. war with Iran, Iraqis would ensure the protection of the 5,000 U.S. troops in country, from the scores of thousands of Iranian-trained and Iranian-armed Shiite militia.
That prospect, of war between the U.S. and Iran, had been raised by Pompeo and John Bolton on Sunday, when the USS Abraham Lincoln carrier task force and a squadron of U.S. bombers were ordered into the Middle East after we received reports Iran was about to attack U.S. forces.
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