Tag Archives: Libya

The U.S. Military’s Lost Wars, by William J. Astore

Once upon a time militaries were supposed to win wars. From William J. Astore ate tomdispatch.com:

Overfunded, Overhyped, and Always Over There

One of the finest military memoirs of any generation is Defeat Into Victory, British Field Marshal Sir William Slim’s perceptive account of World War II’s torturous Burma campaign, which ended in a resounding victory over Japan. When America’s generals write their memoirs about their never-ending war on terror, they’d do well to choose a different title: Victory Into Defeat. That would certainly be more appropriate than those on already published accounts like Lieutenant General Ricardo Sanchez’s Wiser in Battle: A Soldier’s Story (2008), or General Stanley McChrystal’s My Share of the Task (2013).

Think about it. America’s Afghan War began in 2001 with what was essentially a punitive raid against the Taliban, part of which was mythologized last year in 12 Strong, a Hollywood film with a cavalry charge that echoed the best of John Wayne. That victory, however, quickly turned first into quagmire and then, despite various “surges” and a seemingly endless series of U.S. commanders (17 so far), into a growing sense of inevitable defeat. Today, a resurgent Taliban exercises increasing influenceover the hearts, minds, and territory of the Afghan people. The Trump administration’s response so far has been a mini-surge of several thousand troops, an increase in air and drone strikes, and an attempt to suppressaccurate reports from the Pentagon’s special inspector general for Afghan reconstruction about America’s losing effort there.

Turn now to the invasion of Iraq: in May 2003, President George W. Bush cockily announced “Mission Accomplished” from the deck of an aircraft carrier, only to see victory in Baghdad degenerate into insurgency and a quagmire conflict that established conditions for the rise of the Islamic State. Gains in stability during a surge of U.S. forces orchestrated by General David Petraeus in 2007 and hailed in Washington as a fabulous success story proved fragile and reversible. An ignominious U.S. troop withdrawal in 2011 was followed in 2014 by the collapse of that country’s American-trained and armed military in the face of modest numbers of Islamic State militants. A recommitment of U.S. troops and air power brought Stalingrad-style devastation to cities like Mosul and Ramadi, largely reduced to rubble, while up to 1.3 million children were displaced from their homes. All in all, not exactly the face of victory.

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10 Years Challenge, from The Burning Platform

https://www.theburningplatform.com/2019/01/18/10-years-challenge/

How the War Party Lost the Middle East, by Patrick Buchanan

The war party has a lot of nerve, criticizing President Trump for wanting to pull US troops out of the Midddle East. From Patrick J. Buchanan at buchanan.org:

“Assad must go, Obama says.”

So read the headline in The Washington Post, Aug. 18, 2011.

The story quoted President Barack Obama directly:

“The future of Syria must be determined by its people, but President Bashar al-Assad is standing in their way. … the time has come for President Assad to step aside.”

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy and Britain’s David Cameron signed on to the Obama ultimatum: Assad must go!

Seven years and 500,000 dead Syrians later, it is Obama, Sarkozy and Cameron who are gone. Assad still rules in Damascus, and the 2,000 Americans in Syria are coming home. Soon, says President Donald Trump.

But we cannot “leave now,” insists Sen. Lindsey Graham, or “the Kurds are going to get slaughtered.”

Question: Who plunged us into a Syrian civil war, and so managed our intervention that were we to go home after seven years our enemies will be victorious and our allies will “get slaughtered”?

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The Limits of Power – The Myth of the Magical American Soldier, by Maj. Danny Sjursen

By now the belief that the US can solve problems in foreign lands just be sending over the troops should be dead, but it’s not. From Maj. Danny Sjursen, who admits he’s not a miracle worker, at antiwar.com:

Americans worship their fighting men and women; but it is dangerous to believe the mere presence of U.S. troops will achieve the miraculous in the Greater Middle East – it won’t

We aren’t miracle workers. We’re just soldiers after all – kids barely out of their teens and officers in their mid-20s do most of the fighting. Still, policymakers in Washington, and citizens on Main Street both seem convinced that the mere presence of a few hundred or thousand American troops can alter societies, vanquish the wicked, and remake the world.

A colleague of mine refers to this as the myth of the magic soldier: sprinkle US troops in some horrific mess of a country and voilà – problem solved!

It sounds great, but this sort of delusional thinking has led the United States into one failed quagmire after another, killing some 7,000 US troops and close to one million locals. After 17 years of fruitless, indecisive war, its quite incredible that a bipartisan coalition of mainstream Republicans (neocons, mostly) and Democrats (neo-liberal relics) still cling to the idea that American soldiers wield magic powers. It’s long past time to review the record of our over-adulated troopers and reframe the actual – limited – capabilities of military force.

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Libya Urges United Nations To Take “Concrete Action” To Halt Chaos In Tripoli, by Tyler Durden

Libya is one of regime change’s many dark moments. From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

More than seven years after NATO launched a regime change war in Libya on the side of anti-Gaddafi rebels, the West is again being asked to intervene as the country further descends into civil war.

Except this time it’s the internationally recognized government since installed in Tripoli that is at war with itself, and the death toll from inter-factional fighting since August has now reached over 100 and is growing as street battles in Tripoli suburbs rage, causing leaders to urge the United Nations to act.

Tripoli street scene in early September. Via Libya Observer 

The UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) issued a statement late Friday calling on the U.N. to take “concrete and effective” action to protect civilians and halt fighting near the capital. The GNA urged the UN mission to “present the Security Council with the reality of the bloody events in Libya so that it can… protect the lives and property of civilians”.

On Friday alone clashes in Tripoli left 15 dead and dozens more wounded, according to official health ministry statements.

Since fresh fighting again erupted in Tripoli on August 26 (there’s been internecine battles in the capital for years), whole sections of the city have been shut down, especially the southern suburbs where initial street battles began, which has witnessed  the shelling of residential areas, street-to-street fighting, and tanks in the streets all reminiscent of the 2011 war which eventually led to a NATO air campaign and forcible removal and assassination of Libya’s longtime leader Muammar Gaddafi.

According to international reports, some of the feuding militias have come mostly from Libya’s third city Misrata and the town of Tarhouna southeast of the capital; however, the early weeks of fighting were driven mostly by rival factions within the GNA itself.

On Friday UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres issued a statement through his spokesman, saying he is “alarmed by the increasing number of violations of the ceasefire agreement.” Guterres called on the warring militias to respect a prior truce and to “refrain from any actions that would increase the suffering of the civilian population”.

He said groups responsible for “the violation of international humanitarian law and international human rights law must be held responsible,” according to the statement.

Previously the UN Support Mission in Libya voiced concerns over “the use of indiscriminate fire and heavy weapons in densely populated residential areas.”

Since the NATO-backed overthrow of Gaddafi in 2011, Libya has remained split between rival parliaments and governments in the east and west, with militias and tribes lining up behind each, resulting in fierce periodic clashes.

In March 2011 the UN passed Resolution 1973 which authorized the imposition of a No Fly Zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect civilians from pro-Gaddafi forces. The US, UK, France, and other NATO and Gulf allies bombed the country while claiming to act in the name of democracy and human rights.

Though the recently “liberated” Libya has remained conflict-prone after NATO and US forces promised an “Arab Spring”-style “blossoming of democracy” — things have clearly only gone from worse to worse as the capital now again slides toward full blown civil war. Welcome to the “new” Libya.

 

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