Advertisements

Tag Archives: Syria

‘We’re Killing These Kids, We’re Breaking the Army!’, by Danny Sjursen

Does America have the manpower and resources to keep up with the global interventionist dream? Fro Danny Sjursen at theamericanconservative.com:

Our soldiers are still redeploying at a frenetic pace that cannot keep up with reality—and the cracks are showing.

Members of the Guam Army National Guard’s 1st Battalion, 294th Infantry Regiment, relax during an early-morning, exhausting flight from northern Afghanistan to northern Kabul International Airport aboard a C-160 aircraft in Oct. 2013. (U.S. Army National Guard photo by Sgt. Eddie Siguenza/Released)

I’ll admit I was taken aback. This senior officer and mentor—with nearly 28 years of military service—wasn’t one for hyperbole. No, he believed what he was saying to me just then.

“We’re killing these kids, we’re breaking the army!” he exclaimed.

He went on to explain the competing requirements for standard, conventional army units—to say nothing of the overstretched Special Forces—in 2018: balancingRussia in Eastern Europe, deterrence rotations in South Korea, advise and assistmissions in Africa. Add to that deployments to the usual hotspots in Syria, Iraq, and Afghanistan. He was genuinely concerned about the physical and emotional toll on the active-duty force, pushed to its limits by 17 years of perpetual combat. After all, with high military suicide rates now labeled the “new normal,” and a recent succession of accidental training deaths, it seems reasonable to wonder whether we are, indeed, “killing [our] kids.”

The overall effects of this rapid operations tempo on morale and readiness are difficult to measure in a disciplined, professional, all-volunteer military such as the one the United States possesses. What we do know is that despite former president Obama’s ongoing promises that “the tide of war is receding” and that America could finally “start nation-building at home,” nothing of the sort occurred then, or is now, under President Trump. Though the U.S. military (thankfully) no longer maintains six-figure troop counts in either Iraq or Afghanistan, American soldiers are still there, as well as serving in 70 percent of the world’s countries in one capacity or another in what has become a “generational war.” America’s troops are still being killed, though in admittedly fewer numbers. Nevertheless, U.S. servicemen continued to die in combat in several countries in 2017, including Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan, Somalia, Yemen, and Niger.

To continue reading: ‘We’re Killing These Kids, We’re Breaking the Army!’

 

Advertisements

The Whole World Is Sick and Tired of US Foreign Policy, by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Strange as it may seem, people get tired of being bossed around, even when the boss is supposedly doing it for their own good. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at theantimedia.org:

According to four-star General Wesley Clark, in a 1991 meeting with Paul Wolfowitz, then-under-secretary of defense for policy at the Department of Defense, Wolfowitz seemed a little dismayed because he believed the U.S. should have gotten rid of Saddam Hussein in Operation Desert Storm but failed to do so. Clark summarized what he says Wolfowitz said:

“‘But one thing we did learn. We learned that we can use our military in the region, in the Middle East, and the Soviets won’t stop us. We’ve got about five or ten years to clean up those old Soviet client regimes, Syria, Iran, Iraq, before the next great superpower comes on to challenge us.’” [emphasis added]

This was certainly the case in the years that followed, as the United States used the pretext of 9/11 to attack both Afghanistan and Iraq with little to no substantive resistance from the international community. This trend continued as the Obama administration heavily expanded its operations into Yemen, Somalia, Pakistan, and even the Philippines, to name a few, right up until the U.S. led a cohort of NATO countries to impose regime change in Libya in 2011.

At the time, Russia withheld its veto power at the U.N. Security Council because it had received assurances that the coalition would not pursue regime change. After NATO forces began bombing Muammar Gaddafi’s palaces directly, a furious Vladimir Putin questioned: “Who gave NATO the right to kill Gaddafi?

Following Gaddafi’s public execution on the streets of Sirte, Putin’s criticism of NATO’s betrayal went even further. He stated:

“The whole world saw him being killed; all bloodied. Is that democracy? And who did it? Drones, including American ones, delivered a strike on his motorcade. Then commandos – who were not supposed to be there – brought in so-called opposition and militants and killed him without trial. I’m not saying that Gaddafi didn’t have to quit, but that should have been left up to the people of Libya to decide through the democratic process.”

To continue reading: The Whole World Is Sick and Tired of US Foreign Policy

 

Lies We Tell Ourselves, by Major Danny Sjursen

American war making since 9/11 has been based on lies. From Major Danny Sjursen at truthdig.com:

Pixabay

Life, to be sure, is nothing much to lose,
But young men think it is, and we were young.

— A. E. Housman, 1859-1936

Seven of my soldiers are dead. Two committed suicide. Bombs got the others in Iraq and Afghanistan. One young man lost three limbs. Another is paralyzed. I entered West Point a couple of months before 9/11. Eight of my classmates died “over there.”

Military service, war, sacrifice—when I was 17, I felt sure this would bring me meaning, adulation, even glory. It went another way. Sixteen years later, my generation of soldiers is still ensnared in an indecisive, unfulfilling series of losing wars: Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, Yemen, Somalia, Niger—who even keeps count anymore? Sometimes, I allow myself to wonder what it’s all been for.

I find it hard to believe I’m the only one who sees it. Nonetheless, you hear few dissenting voices among the veterans of the “global war on terror.” See, soldiers are all “professionals” now, at least since Richard Nixon ditched the draft in 1973. Mostly the troops—especially the officers—uphold an unwritten code, speak in esoteric vernacular and hide behind a veil of reticence. It’s a camouflage wall as thick as the “blue line” of police silence. Maybe it’s necessary to keep the machine running. I used to believe that. Sometimes, though, we tell you lies. Don’t take it personally: We tell them to each other and ourselves as well.

Consider just three:

1. Soldiers don’t fight (or die) for king, country or apple pie. They do it for each other, for teammates and friends. Think Henry V’s “band of brothers.” In that sense, the troops can never be said to die for nothing.

No disrespect to the fallen, but this framework is problematic and a slippery-slope formula for forever war. Imagine the dangerous inverse of this logic: If no soldiers’ lives can be wasted, no matter how unmerited or ill-advised the war, then the mere presence of U.S. “warriors” and deaths of American troopers justifies any war, all war. That’s intellectually lazy. Two things can, in fact, be true at once: American servicemen can die for no good reason andmay well have fought hard and honorably with/for their mates. The one does not preclude the other.

To continue reading: Lies We Tell Ourselves

New Year’s Resolution: End America’s Quagmire Wars, by William J. Astore

As New Year’s Resolutions go, this one ranks right up there with obese people resolving to eat less and exercise more, and alcoholics to go on the wagon. Unfortunately, resolutions of the obese and the alcoholics (not mutually exclusive groups) have a better chance of coming to fruition than the resolution in the title. From William J. Astore at antiwar.com:

Here’s a New Year’s resolution: How about ending America’s quagmire wars?

There are many reasons why Afghanistan, Iraq, and similar countries will always be quagmires for the U.S. military. US troops have difficulty identifying friend from foe, and indeed “friendly” troops and police sometimes turn on their US counterparts. US troops will always be a foreign presence, heavily armed and invasive, often (mis)guided by incomplete or misleading intelligence. Almost inevitably, they are seen as backing corrupt and kleptocratic governments, whether in Kabul or Baghdad. At the same time, US bombing and search and destroy missions kill innocents even as they generate refugees – and new enemies. Under such violent and tumultuous conditions, you can forget about winning hearts and minds or creating lasting political stability.

Facing this no-win scenario, savvy US leaders would pull troops out immediately, but of course pulling out is never an option. Whether it’s Bush or Obama or Trump, the preferred “solution” to unwinnable quagmires is to “surge” (more troops, more airpower, more “advisers,” more weaponry) or to dither with tactics. Old theories are trotted out, such as pacification and counterinsurgency and nation-building, dressed up with new terms and acronyms such as asymmetrical warfare, the gray zone, MOOTW (military operations other than war), and VEOs, or violent extremist organizations, known to most people as terrorists.

The mentality among America’s generals is that the war must go on. There must be a can-do way to defeat VEOs in the gray zone using asymmetrical warfare while engaged in MOOTW. Thus B-52s, those venerable strategic bombers from the early Cold War era, are now being used in Afghanistan to “asymmetrically” destroy drug laboratories associated with Taliban funding, yet another instance of the US military swinging a sledgehammer to kill a gnat.

After 16 years, if you’re calling in B-52s to flatten small drug labs, this is not a sign of impending victory. It’s a sign of desperation – a sign of a totally bankrupt strategy.

To continue reading: New Year’s Resolution: End America’s Quagmire Wars

 

US Empire Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria, by Caitlin Johnstone

We’ve seen this movie before. From Caitline Johnstone at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Two weeks ago a memo was leaked from inside the Trump administration showing how Secretary of State and DC neophyte Rex Tillerson was coached on how the US empire uses human rights as a pretense on which to attack and undermine noncompliant governments. Politico reports:

The May 17 memo reads like a crash course for a businessman-turned-diplomat, and its conclusion offers a starkly realist vision: that the US should use human rights as a club against its adversaries, like Iran, China and North Korea, while giving a pass to repressive allies like the Philippines, Egypt and Saudi Arabia.

‘Allies should be treated differently — and better — than adversaries. Otherwise, we end up with more adversaries, and fewer allies,’ argued the memo, written by Tillerson’s influential policy aide, Brian Hook.

With what would be perfect comedic timing if it weren’t so frightening, Iran erupted in protests which have been ongoing for the last four days, and the western empire is suddenly expressing deep, bipartisan concern about the human rights of those protesters.

So we all know what this song and dance is code for. Any evil can be justified in the name of “human rights.”

In October we learned from a former Qatari prime minister that there was a massive push from the US and its allies to topple the Syrian government from the very beginning of the protests which began in that country in 2011 as part of the so-called Arab Spring. This revelation came in the same week The Intercept finally released NSA documents confirming that foreign governments were in direct control of the “rebels” who began attacking Syria following those 2011 protests. The fretting over human rights has occurred throughout the entirety of the Syrian war, even as the governments publicly decrying human rights abuses were secretly arming and training terrorist factions to murder, rape and pillage their way across the country.

We’ve seen it over and over again. In Libya, western interventionism was justified under the pretense of defending human rights when the goal was actually regime change. In Ukraine, empire loyalists played cheerleader for the protests in Kiev when the goal was actually regime change. And who could ever forget the poor oppressed people of Iraq who will surely greet the invaders as liberators?

To continue reading: US Empire Is Running The Same Script With Iran That It Ran With Libya, Syria

Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism? by Philip M. Giraldi

The answer to the title question is not Iran. From Philip M. Giraldi at strategic-culture.org:

As 2017 draws to a close, it is difficult to be optimistic about what will be coming in the new year. The American President, whose margin of victory was certainly based on his pledge to avoid unnecessary wars, has doubled down on Afghanistan, refuses to leave Syria even though ISIS has been defeated, and is playing serious brinksmanship with a psychopathic and unpredictable regime in Pyongyang. The White House has also bought into the prevailing largely fabricated narrative about a Russia and has decided to arm Ukraine with offensive weapons, which has already resulted in a sharp response from Moscow and will make détente of any kind between the two leading powers all but impossible in the upcoming year.

But, as I have observed before, the red hazard light that continues to be blinking most brightly relates to Washington’s relationship with Iran, which has unnecessarily deteriorated dramatically over the past year and which brings with it collateral problems with Russia and Turkey that could trigger a much wider conflict. I say unnecessarily because all the steps taken to poison the relationship have come out of Washington, not Tehran. The Trump administration refused to certify that the Iranians had been in compliance with the nuclear agreement negotiated in 2015 and has since escalated its verbal attacks, mostly at the United Nations, claiming that the regime in Tehran is the major source of terrorism in the world and that it is seeking hegemony over a broad arc of countries running westward from its borders to the Mediterranean Sea.

The only problem with the allegations being made is that none of them is true and, furthermore, Iran, with limited military resources, poses no serious threat to gain control over its neighbors, nor to attack the United States or Europe. The invective about Iran largely derives from Israel and Saudi Arabia, which themselves have hegemonic ambitions relating to their region. Israel’s friends in the US Congress, media and White House have not surprisingly picked up on the refrain and are pushing for military action. Israel has even threatened to bomb any Iranian permanent presence inside neighboring Syria.

To continue reading: Who Are the Leading State Sponsors of Terrorism?

Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers? by Daniel Lazare

The answer is yes, but in a way that preserved a semblance of that old intelligence agency favorite, plausible deniability. From Daniel Lazare at consortiumnews.com:

Exclusive: A new study shows that U.S. government weapons ended up in the hands of Islamic State jihadists, but no one in Washington seems interested in how they got there or what President Obama knew, writes Daniel Lazare.

By Daniel Lazare

Did Barack Obama arm ISIS? The question strikes many people as absurd, if not offensive. How can anyone suggest something so awful about a nice guy like the former president? But a stunning report by an investigative group known as Conflict Armament Research (CAR) leaves us little choice but to conclude that he did.

Journalist James Foley shortly before he was executed by an Islamic State operative in August 2014.

CAR, based in London and funded by Switzerland and the European Union, spent three years tracing the origin of some 40,000 pieces of captured ISIS arms and ammunition. Its findings, made public last week, are that much of it originated in former Warsaw Pact nations in Eastern Europe, where it was purchased by United States and Saudi Arabia and then diverted, in violation of various rules and treaties, to Islamist rebels seeking to overthrow Syrian President Bashar al-Assad. The rebels, in turn, somehow caused or allowed the equipment to be passed on to Islamic State, which is also known by the acronyms ISIS or ISIL, or just the abbreviation IS.

This is damning stuff since it makes it clear that rather than fighting ISIS, the U.S. government was feeding it.

But CAR turns vague when it comes to the all-important question of precisely how the second leg of the transfer worked. Did the rebels turn the weapons over voluntarily, involuntarily, or did they somehow drop them when ISIS was in close proximity and forget to pick them up? All CAR will say is that “background information … indicates that IS [Islamic State] forces acquired the materiel through varied means, including battlefield capture and the amalgamation of disparate Syrian opposition groups.” It adds that it “cannot rule out direct supply to IS forces from the territories of Jordan and Turkey, especially given the presence of various opposition groups, with shifting allegiances, in cross-border supply locations.” But that’s it.

If so, this suggests an astonishing level of incompetence on the part of Washington. The Syrian rebel forces are an amazingly fractious lot as they merge, split, attack one another and then team up all over again. So how could the White House have imagined that it could keep weapons tossed into this mix from falling into the wrong hands? Considering how each new gun adds to the chaos, how could it possibly keep track? The answer is that it couldn’t, which is why ISIS wound up reaping the benefits.

To continue reading: Did Obama Arm Islamic State Killers?

%d bloggers like this: