Tag Archives: war on terrorism

Back to the Future at the Pentagon, by William Astore

US military leaders are more comfortable gearing up for more conventional wars against China and Russia than they were with the Global War on Terror. However, that doesn’t mean that the US should fight such wars or that it could win them. From William Astore at tomdispatch.com:

Why 2021 Looks So Much Like 1981 — And Why That Should Scare Us

The future isn’t what it used to be. As a teenager in the 1970s, I watched a lot of TV science fiction shows, notably Space: 1999 and UFO, that imagined a near future of major moon bases and alien attacks on Earth. Movies of that era like Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey envisioned colossal spaceships and space stations featuring international crews on mind-blowing missions to Jupiter and beyond. Who’d have thought that, 20 years after Kubrick’s alternate reality of 2001, we humans would effectively be marooned on a warming “sixth extinction” planet with no moon bases and, to the best of my knowledge, no alien attacks either.

Sure, there’s been progress of a sort in the heavens. Elon Musk’s Space X may keep going down in flames, but the Chinese now have their very own moon rocks. As the old-timey, unmanned Voyager probe continues to glide beyond our solar system, Mars is a subject for research by new probes hailing from the United Arab Emirates, China, and the U.S. Meanwhile, the International Space Station continues conducting research in low-earth orbit.

As with space exploration, so, too, with America’s military. What amazes me most in 2021 is how much of its structure and strategy resembles what held sway in 1981 when I joined the Air Force as a college student in ROTC. Instead of futuristic starship troopers flying around with jetpacks and firing lasers, the U.S. military is still essentially building the same kinds of weaponry we were then. They’re newer, of course, glitzier, if often less effective, but this country still has a Navy built around aircraft carriers, an Air Force centered on fighter jets and stealth bombers, and an Army based on tanks, helicopters, and heavy brigades. Admittedly, that Army may soon spend $20 billion on “augmented reality goggles” for the troops. (Perhaps those goggles will be programmed so that “reality” always looks like we win.)

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Terrorist Crackdowns Won’t Keep Us Safe, by James Bovard

A pretty good argument can be made that the US government’s war on terrorism has created more terrorism. From James Bovard at theamericanconservative.com:

The Bush administration’s post-9/11 domestic crusade is a cautionary tale for post-1/6 America.

A scene from the Capitol riot. (By Alex Gakos/Shutterstock)

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9/11 Eighteen Years Later, by Donald Jeffries

9/11 remains the pivotal event of the still-young 21st century. From Donald Jeffries at lewrockwell.com:

Eighteen years ago today, nearly 3,000 Americans lost their lives when both the Pentagon and the World Trade Center were attacked by terrorists. The official narrative is that the terrorists were a group of nineteen Arabs armed with box cutters and plastic knives. The prevailing view in the anti- establishment world is that the terrorists were associated with the U.S. government.

While our leaders did absolutely nothing on the day in question, in response to hijacked planes being crashed into buildings, for some hour and a half, after it was over they reacted quite aggressively. The consensus was that 9/11 had “changed the world forever,” and that we were now battling an unclear, unidentifiable enemy, referred to conveniently as the “war on terror.”

According to the ACLU, some 762 “suspects” were arrested in the wake of 9/11, and none of them were found to have any ties to “terrorism.” Anyone named Mohammad became suspect in the public’s eye. An Arabic fellow I worked with at the time was absolutely terrified, and seriously considered changing his name to something that sounded less “terrorist.”

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Tulsi Gabbard’s Chance to Make the Race About the Wars, by Scott Horton

The big flaw in Tulsi Gabbard’s antiwar stance is that she still believes in something called the war on terrorism. From Scott Horton at antiwar.com:

Tulsi Gabbard, U.S. Representative from Hawaii, is running for president. She’s one of the only Democrats in the race who says anything meaningful or interesting about foreign policy. Unlike the rest of them, she’s decided to make it the center of her campaign.

Gabbard was for Iraq War II before she was against it, serving two tours overseas during the war, one at Balad air base north of Baghdad and another in Kuwait. But she has done the very best thing she could do with that experience, and that is to use it to cover her right flank from hawks’ criticism about “weakness” while demanding retrenchment in the name of her colleagues in the Hawaii National Guard, where she is still an active duty major, and other U.S. military personnel.

The idiots on cable news are terrified of her. The U.S. population now regrets the terror wars by super-majorities. Veterans of the wars themselves agree – and the wars are not even over yet! Then here comes an attractive, credentialed candidate for high office saying exactly what is not supposed to be said – it doesn’t have to be this way – and right where the American people can hear it.

If and when she gets a chance at her Ron Paul moment, like what happened when Paul tangled with Rudy Guiliani about the motives of the September 11th hijackers back in 2007, it could change everything for the campaign and finally give the American people another chance to argue about what is really going on here.

That is why Gabbard needs to step it up right now. She needs to draw a line in the sand on her antiwar position and demand the others pick their side of it. How will the world know that war and peace is up for a vote this time around if she doesn’t take the initiative and make sure that it is? It’s true that she talks about it in her appearances all the time, and she did a pretty good job of beating up on that reflexive hawk, Tim Ryan, over Afghanistan in the last debate.

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What I Don’t Like About Life in Post-9/11 America, by John W. Whitehead

The list is long. From John W. Whitehead at rutherford.org:

“A patriot must always be ready to defend his country against his government.”―Edward Abbey, American author

Life in a post-9/11 America increasingly feels like an endless free fall down a rabbit hole into a terrifying, dystopian alternative reality in which the citizenry has no rights, the government is no friend to freedom, and everything we ever knew and loved about the values and principles that once made this country great has been turned on its head.

We’ve walked a strange and harrowing road since September 11, 2001, littered with the debris of our once-vaunted liberties.

We have gone from a nation that took great pride in being a model of a representative democracy to being a model of how to persuade the citizenry to march in lockstep with a police state. Continue reading

The ‘War On Terror’ Has Cost American Taxpayers $250 Million A Day For 16 Years, by Darius Shahtahmasebi

Perhaps the most horrifying thing about that estimate is that it’s probably on the low side. From Darius Shahtahmasebi at theantimedia.org:

The U.S. government has spent a staggering $1.46 trillion on wars abroad since September 11, 2001, according to the Department of Defense’s (DoD) periodical “Cost of War” report. As International Business Times reports, this amounts to $250 million a day for 16 years consecutively.

The newly released version, published by the Federation of American Scientists’ Secrecy News blog, spans war-related activity from the September 11th terrorist attacks through mid-2017.

According to the report, despite the fact that the war on terror is still ongoing rapidly to this day, Operation Iraqi Freedom (2003-2011) and Operation Enduring Freedom (2001-2014) account for the vast majority of the cost, amounting to more than $1.3 trillion collectively.

It must be noted that this analysis only covers direct war-related expenses and is certainly on the lower side of such estimates of the cost of American wars to date. For example, in 2014, a report from Congress’ nonpartisan research arm found that the government had already shelled out over $1.6 trillion for the war on terror. That estimate would amount to approximately $337 million per day every single day for that 13-year period.

Last year, a report released by Dr. Neta Crawford, professor of political science at Brown University, found that spending by the United States Departments of Defense, State, Homeland Security, and Veteran Affairs since 9/11 was even higher, reaching almost $5 trillion.

That being said, the DoD’s recent report mainly covers the costs of military operational costs, support for deployed troops, and transportation of personnel and equipment. It does not include the expense of veterans’ benefits for troops who served in these wars. The cost of veterans’ benefits alone is projected to be somewhere between $600 billion and $1 trillion. The total also notably does not include “non-DoD classified programs” such as those conducted by the Central Intelligence Agency, which, as we know, has a significant budget of its own.

To continue reading: The ‘War On Terror’ Has Cost American Taxpayers $250 Million A Day For 16 Years

Doing Bin Laden’s Bidding, by Tom Engelhardt

Some day Osama bin Laden will be recognized as a genius. Look at how al Qaeda, despite the occasional setback, has blossomed since 9/11, and it’s sworn enemy, the United States, has deteriorated. From Tom Engelhardt at tomdispatch.com:

Honestly, if there’s an afterlife, then the soul of Osama bin Laden, whose body was consigned to the waves by the U.S. Navy back in 2011, must be swimming happily with the dolphins and sharks. At the cost of the sort of spare change that Donald Trump recently offered aides and former campaign officials for their legal troubles in the Russia investigation (on which he’s unlikely to deliver) — a mere $400,000 to $500,000 — bin Laden managed to launch the American war on terror. He did so with little but a clever game plan, a few fanatical followers, and a remarkably intuitive sense of how this country works.

He had those 19 mostly Saudi hijackers, a scattering of supporters elsewhere in the world, and the “training camps” in Afghanistan, but his was a ragged and understaffed movement.  And keep in mind that his sworn enemy was the country that then prided itself on being the last superpower, the final winner of the imperial sweepstakes that had gone on for five centuries until, in 1991, the Soviet Union imploded.

The question was: With such limited resources, what kind of self-destructive behavior could he goad a triumphalist Washington into? The key would be what might be called apocalyptic humiliation.

Looking back, 16 years later, it’s extraordinary how September 11, 2001, would set the pattern for everything that followed. Each further goading act, from Afghanistan to Libya, San Bernardino to Orlando, Iraq to Niger, each further humiliation would trigger yet more of the same behavior in Washington. After all, so many people and institutions — above all, the U.S. military and the rest of the national security state — came to have a vested interest in Osama bin Laden’s version of our world.

To continue reading: Doing Bin Laden’s Bidding

In Yemen’s secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates, by Maggie Michael

Out of respect for the AP’s stringent conditions governing its intellectual property rights, SLL will only provide the link to the AP article. However, the title is self-explanatory, the journalism top-notch, and the story chilling. From Maggie Michael at apnews.com:

To read the article: In Yemen’s secret prisons, UAE tortures and US interrogates

Are We Fighting Terrorism, Or Creating More Terrorism? by Ron Paul

The question is rhetorical and the answer obvious. From Ron Paul at ronpaulinstitute.com:

When we think about terrorism we most often think about the horrors of a Manchester-like attack, where a radicalized suicide bomber went into a concert hall and killed dozens of innocent civilians. It was an inexcusable act of savagery and it certainly did terrorize the population.

What is less considered are attacks that leave far more civilians dead, happen nearly daily instead of rarely, and produce a constant feeling of terror and dread. These are the civilians on the receiving end of US and allied bombs in places like Syria, Yemen, Afghanistan, Somalia, and elsewhere.

Last week alone, US and “coalition” attacks on Syria left more than 200 civilians dead and many hundreds more injured. In fact, even though US intervention in Syria was supposed to protect the population from government attacks, US-led air strikes have killed more civilians over the past month than air strikes of the Assad government. That is like a doctor killing his patient to save him.

Do we really believe we are fighting terrorism by terrorizing innocent civilians overseas? How long until we accept that “collateral damage” is just another word for “murder”?

The one so-called success of the recent G7 summit in Sicily was a general agreement to join together to “fight terrorism.” Have we not been in a “war on terrorism” for the past 16 years? What this really means is more surveillance of innocent civilians, a crackdown on free speech and the Internet, and many more bombs dropped overseas. Will doing more of what we have been doing do the trick? Hardly! After 16 years fighting terrorism, it is even worse than before we started. This can hardly be considered success.

They claim that more government surveillance will keep us safe. But the UK is already the most intrusive surveillance state in the western world. The Manchester bomber was surely on the radar screen. According to press reports, he was known to the British intelligence services, he had traveled and possibly trained in bomb-making in Libya and Syria, his family members warned the authorities that he was dangerous, and he even flew terrorist flags over his house. What more did he need to do to signal that he may be a problem? Yet somehow even in Orwellian UK, the authorities missed all the clues.

To continue reading: Are We Fighting Terrorism, Or Creating More Terrorism?

Corbyn and Kelly: Two Very Different Responses to Terrorism, by Lucy Steigerwald

DHS chief John Kelly engages in some execrable fear mongering, and the UK’s Jeremy Corbyn steps out on a limb and links terrorism on British soil to British foreign policy. That won’t win him any friends, but the truth seldom wins friends for those who speak it. From Lucy Steigerwald at antiwar.com:

While he was a guest on Fox News’ Fox and Friends, Department of Homeland Security Chief John Kelly described the current safety of US citizens: “if [you] knew what I knew about terrorism, [you’d] never leave the house in the morning.” Anywhere, any time, a terrorist attack can happen, according to Kelly.

His very job exists because of the September 11 attacks. The DHS is a bizarre umbrella of federal law enforcement which is there to protect Americans from immigrants, copyright violations, and cyber attacks, and very occasionally terrorists.

It’s probably correct that Kelly knows a great deal more about reported threats and potential terrorists attacks than you or I. His concern may be sincere. Being bombarded with whispered terrorist plans all day probably makes you particularly pessimistic about their likelihood of success. On the other hand, it’s difficult not to see his comments in the most cynical light possible, even if he isn’t laughing into his sleeve as he says them. Kelly continued, noting that terrorism is “everywhere. It’s constant. It’s nonstop. The good news for us in America is we have amazing people protecting us every day. But it can happen here almost anytime.”

He’s correct that there are more decentralized strikes, making violence feel more possible in places outside of world centers such as New York City. In the years after September 11, savvy commenters argued that those attacks were a fluke. The subsequent successes in London and Madrid killed a few hundred people, and were also surprises. Mostly, the pre-ISIS days after 9/11 were chock full of terrorist attack failures via the shoe bomber or the Time Square bomber. Seemingly, the FBI was reduced to creating plots in order to stop them.

To continue reading: Corbyn and Kelly: Two Very Different Responses to Terrorism