Tag Archives: War on Terror

Fight Another ‘Terror War’ Against Drug Cartels? There’s a Better Way! by Ron Paul

The suggestion to send US troops to Mexico to fight drug cartels combines the worst features of the war on drugs and the war on terrorism. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

The 50-year US war on drugs has been a total failure, with hundreds of billions of dollars flushed down the drain and our civil liberties whittled away fighting a war that cannot be won. The 20 year “war on terror” has likewise been a gigantic US government disaster: hundreds of billions wasted, civil liberties scorched, and a world far more dangerous than when this war was launched after 9/11.

So what to do about two of the greatest policy failures in US history? According to President Trump and many in Washington, the answer is to combine them!

Last week Trump declared that, in light of an attack last month on US tourists in Mexico, he would be designating Mexican drug cartels as foreign terrorist organizations. Asked if he would send in drones to attack targets in Mexico, he responded, “I don’t want to say what I’m going to do, but they will be designated.” The Mexican president was quick to pour cold water on the idea of US drones taking out Mexican targets, responding to Trump’s threats saying “cooperation, yes; interventionism, no.”

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Forever War in the Last 20 Years Cost $6.4 Trillion, by Mike “Mish” Shedlock

Think of what could have been done with the at least $6.4 trillion that has been wasted on senseless wars. From Mike “Mish” Shedlock at moneymaven.io:

Since 911, the cost of Forever War totals $6.4 Trillion and 801,000 killed including 335,000 dead civilians. For What?

Neta C. Crawford, Professor and Chair of the Department of Political Science at Boston University and a co-director of the Costs of War Project at Brown University calculates the [Cost of 20 Years of War](https://watson.brown.edu/costsofwar/files/cow/imce/papers/2019/US%20Budgetary%20Costs%20of%20Wars%20November%202019.pdf?utm_source=Daily%20on%20Defense%20(2019%20TEMPLATE%29_11/15/2019&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=WEX_Daily%20on%20Defense&rid=84648).

Summary of War-Related Spending

Changing the Names of the Wars to Hide the Total

One potential barrier for civilians to understanding the total scale and costs of the post-9/11 wars is the changes in the naming of the wars. The US military designates main war zones in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, and Syria as named operations. The longest war so far, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, has had two names: Operation Enduring Freedom, designated the first phase of war in Afghanistan from October 2001; it was designated Operation Freedom’s Sentinel on 1 January 2015. The war in Iraq was designated Operation Iraqi Freedom from March 2003 to 31 August 2010, when it became Operation New Dawn. When the US began to fight in Syria and Iraq, the war was designated Operation Inherent Resolve. For ease of understanding, the costs are not labeled here by their OCO designation, but by major war zone — namely Afghanistan and Pakistan, and Iraq and later Iraq and Syria.

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The So-Called War on Terror Has Killed Over 801,000 People and Cost $6.4 Trillion: New Analysis, by Jessica Corbett

The direct and indirect costs of the war on terror have been staggering. From Jessica Corbett at commondreams.org:

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home.”

A U.S. Army soldier fires an M4 carbine rifle

A U.S. Army soldier fires an M4 carbine rifle during partnered live fire range training at Tactical Base Gamberi, Afghanistan on May 29, 2015. (Photo: Capt. Charlie Emmons/U.S. Army/Flickr/cc)

The so-called War on Terror launched by the United States government in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has cost at least 801,000 lives and $6.4 trillion according to a pair of reports published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home,” said Costs of War co-director and Brown professor Catherine Lutz, who co-authored the project’s report on deaths.

“These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago,” Lutz added. “We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century.”

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The Madness of James Mattis, by Danny Sjursen

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:

The Madness of James Mattis
Former Defense Secretary James Mattis. (U.S. Secretary of Defense / CC BY 2.0)

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.

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Profiles in Absurdity: Remembering the ‘Terror’ Wars, by Danny Sjursen

Nobody even remembers why we went into Afghanistan in the first place, but for some reason we can’t leave. From Danny Sjursen at antiwar.com:

The ‘Gated Communities’ of Afghanistan: An All-American Euphemism

When they saw Afghanistan, all they could think of was Iraq. Indeed, most military thinkers are perennially driven by the tunnel-vision of personal experience; rarely a good thing. Indeed, the generals and colonels managing the foolish, politically driven 2009-12 Obama “surge” into Afghanistan – what he’d absurdly labeled the “good war” – had few fresh ideas. Convinced, and feeling vindicated, by the myth that Baby Bush’s 2007-09 Iraq surge had “worked,” most commanders knew just what to do and sought to replicate these tactics in the utterly dissimilar war in Afghanistan. That meant the temporary infusion of some 30,000 extra troops, walling off warring neighborhoods, and plopping small American units among the populace.

Some of us, mostly captains who’d cut our teeth in the worst days of the Iraq maelstrom, were skeptical from the start. I, for one, had long sensed that the “gains” of that surge were highly temporary, that the U.S. military had simply bought the fleeting loyalty of Sunni insurgents, and that the whole point of the surge – to allow a political settlement between warring sects and ethnicities – had never occurred. The later rise of ISIS, breakdown of centralized governance, and rout of the U.S.-trained Iraqi Army in 2013-14 would prove my point. But that was in the future. From my viewpoint, the legacy of surge 1.0 had really only been another 1,000 or so American troop deaths – including three of my own men – and who knows how many Iraqi casualties.

Then again, no one cared what one lowly, if dreamy yet cynical, officer thought anyway. I was a tool, a pawn, a middle-managing “company man” expected to carry out surge 2.0 with discipline and enthusiasm. And so I tried. My team of cavalry scouts raised a dubiously loyal local militia, partnered with the often drug-addicted, criminal Afghan Army and police, and parsed out my squads to live within the local villages semi-permanently. That’s when things got weird.

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Dirty little wars and the law: Did Osama bin Laden win? By David M. Crane

If Osama bin Laden was trying to cast the US as an illegal, imperialist power, he did a pretty good job. From David M. Crane at thehill.com:

“Common Article 3 [of the Geneva Conventions] … says that there will be no outrages upon human dignity. It’s very vague. What does that mean, ‘outrages upon human dignity’?” — George W. Bush

The past week marked the 70th anniversary of the Geneva Conventions of 1949. This laudable treaty, signed by every country, codified centuries of custom, treaties and protocols to protect individuals found on the battlefield. There are four articles to the Geneva Conventions protecting the wounded and sick, prisoners of war and civilians. This is an attempt to bring law and order onto the battlefield. These conventions are part of a larger set of treaties, protocols and rules called international humanitarian law, or the “laws of armed conflict.”

The Geneva Conventions were part of a promising four years after World War II that attempted to prevent the horrors of future conflict. The Nuremberg Principles were adopted, the United Nations Charter was signed, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the Genocide Convention were created. These became the cornerstones to settle disputes peacefully and use force only as a last resort. The focus was on international peace and security.

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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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