Tag Archives: War

U.S. Increases Risk Of War On Iran Without A Path To De-escalation, by Moon of Alabama

Is the Trump administration painting itself into a corner on Iran? From Moon of Alabama at moonofalabama.org:

Is the U.S. military, which lost its powerful positions in the White House, trying to get National Security Advisor John ‘Stache’ Bolton fired?

A ‘leak’ to the New York Times accuses Bolton of preparing for war on Iran:

At a meeting of President Trump’s top national security aides last Thursday, Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan presented an updated military plan that envisions sending as many as 120,000 troops to the Middle East should Iran attack American forces or accelerate work on nuclear weapons, administration officials said.The revisions were ordered by hard-liners led by John R. Bolton, Mr. Trump’s national security adviser. It does not call for a land invasion of Iran, which would require vastly more troops, officials said.

The development reflects the influence of Mr. Bolton, one of the administration’s most virulent Iran hawks, whose push for confrontation with Tehran was ignored more than a decade ago by President George W. Bush.

If asked for ‘options’ the military typically lays out three scenarios. The first is very minor action unlikely to have any effect. The second is what the military sees as reasonable or wants. The third option is fantastically exaggerated. The 120,000 troop deployment is the third option. The number is too high for an attack by air and on sea and too low for an attack on land, i.e. an invasion of Iran. Releasing the third option number is likely designed to rally against such a move.

More than a half-dozen American national security officials who have been briefed on details of the updated plans agreed to discuss them with The New York Times on the condition of anonymity.

Among those attending Thursday’s meeting were Mr. Shanahan; Mr. Bolton; General Dunford; Gina Haspel, the C.I.A. director; and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence.

In a possible quit pro quo the delivery of ‘options’ by the Defense Department happened on the same day that acting Secretary of Defense Shanahan was finally nominated for the permanent position. The previous Secretary of Defense James Mattis had ignored similar options requests from the White House. Trump fired Mattis at the end of last year.

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Leaked Memo Shows US Overlooked Mass Civilian Deaths In Yemen To Preserve Arms Sales, by Tyler Durden

Mike Pompeo is overlooking Saudi Arabian atrocities in Yemen to preserve $2 billion in arms sales for Raytheon. Let’s hope he at least gets a seat on the company’s board of directors when he leaves “public service.” From Tyler Durden at zerohedge.com:

On rare occasion a story is unearthed in the mainstream media which demonstrates in stunning clarity how major foreign policy decisions are really made in Washington, especially when it comes to waging perpetual war in the Middle East often under the official rhetorical guise of “protecting civilians”.

A bombshell Wall Street Journal report details a leaked classified memo which shows Secretary of State Mike Pompeo decided to continue US military involvement in the Saudi war on Yemen in order to preserve a massive $2 billion weapons deal with Riyadh.

Human Rights Watch 2016 report: Saudi Arabia Uses US-Made Cluster Bombs and Guided Missiles in Yemen.

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Yemen Proves US Needs to Get a Handle on War-Making Powers, by Jason Ditz

There was no authorization whatsoever for the US’s current misguided war effort in Yemen. From Jason Ditz at antiwar.com:

With the Yemen War fast approaching its third anniversary, Afghanistan well into its 17th year, Iraq and Syria seemingly permanent US wars, and escalations ongoing across Africa, the US has seemingly more wars than ever going on. President Trump has been giving the military increasing autonomy in those wars, and the feeling of loss of control is palpable.

It’s been years since Congress has willingly asserted its authority on war-making in any serious way, and the president too is now delegating much to the generals. The American public’s ability to give meaningful input on America’s wars is far more limited.

Recent polls suggest that’s a position the American voters aren’t necessarily all that comfortable with. A November poll from J. Wallin Opinion Research showed the vast majority of Americans, over 70%, want Congress to impose at least some specific limits on overseas conflicts and exercise more direct oversight. It also showed a majority favor withdrawing US forces from the Yemen War.

While there are no shortage of reasons for America’s war-weariness to be skyrocketing, the Yemen War seems to be the tipping point for a number of reasons. The Yemen War was never debated even a little within the US, and is rapidly settling into one of the worst humanitarian crises in a generation.

The Yemen War cut aid off almost entirely to 15 million in the country’s north, led to what has been called the single worst cholera outbreak in human history, with over a million patients, and has been killing civilians by the thousands both in US-facilitated airstrikes and through mass starvation and lack of medicine.

The American public never signed up for doing that to Yemen, nor indeed did Congress. There is no legal pretext of an authorization for the use of military force in Yemen, even with the vague interpretations of the 2001 AUMF that have been used as a pretext for every other war.

To continue reading: Yemen Proves US Needs to Get a Handle on War-Making Powers

Rand Paul’s Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State, by Ron Paul

The last thing Congress wants to do is assert its own constitutionally granted war powers, but Ron Paul sees some reason for optimism. From Paul at ronpaulinstitute.org:

Last week, Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) reminded Congress that in matters of war, they have the authority and the responsibility to speak for the American people. Most Senators were not too happy about the reminder, which came in the form of a forced vote on whether to allow a vote on his amendment to repeal the Afghanistan and Iraq war resolutions of 2001 and 2002.

It wasn’t easy. Sen. Paul had to jump through hoops just to get a vote on whether to have a vote.

That is how bad it is in Congress! Not only does Congress refuse to rein in presidents who treat Constitutional constraints on their war authority as mere suggestions rather than as the law of the land, Congress doesn’t even want to be reminded that they alone have war authority.

Congress doesn’t even want to vote on whether to vote on war!

In the end, Sen. Paul did not back down and he got his vote. Frankly, I was more than a little surprised that nearly 40 percent of the Senate voted with Rand to allow a vote on repealing authority for the two longest wars in US history. I expected less than a dozen “no” votes on tabling the amendment and was very pleasantly surprised at the outcome.

Last week, Rand said, “I don’t think that anyone with an ounce of intellectual honesty believes that these authorizations from 16 years ago and 14 years ago … authorized war in seven different countries.”

Are more Senators starting to see the wars his way? We can only hope so. As polls continue to demonstrate, the American people have grown tired of our interventionist foreign policy, which burns through trillions of dollars while making the world a more dangerous place rather than a safer place.

To continue reading; Rand Paul’s Senate Vote Rolls Back the Warfare State

Does It Matter Who Pulls the Trigger in the Drone Wars? by Peter Van Buren

The victims of US drone strikes are remarkably unconcerned under what rules of engagement the US attacked them. From Peter Van Buren at antiwar.com:

We’re allowing a mindset of “anything Trump does is wrong” coupled with lightening-speed historical revisionism for the Obama era to sustain the same mistakes in the war on terror that have fueled Islamic terrorism for the past 15 years. However, there may be a window of opportunity to turn the anti-Trump rhetoric into a review of the failed policies of the last decade and a half.

A recent example of “anything Trump does is wrong” has to do with his changing the rules for drone kill decision making. In May 2013 President Obama self-imposed a dual-standard (known as the “playbook”) for remote killing. The White House, including Obama himself reviewing a kill list at regular meetings, would decide which individuals outside of the “traditional war zones” of Iraq and Afghanistan would be targeted.

Meanwhile, in America’s post-9/11 traditional war zones, military commanders then made, and now make, the kill decisions without civilian review, with the threshold for “acceptable civilian casualties” supposedly less strict. Of course the idea that any of this functions under “rules” is based on the bedrock fallacy that anything militarily done by the last three presidents has been legal under the never-updated 2001 authorization for war in Afghanistan. For perspective, remember Islamic State never existed, and Iraq, Libya, Syria, and Yemen had stable governments at the time Congress passed that authorization.

In sum: since 2013 the military can kill from the air at will inside Iraq and Afghanistan (the status of Syria is unclear), as well as other areas designated unilaterally by the U.S. government as “traditional,” with allowances for less regard for the collateral damage of innocents slaughtered. It is the president himself who plays judge, jury, and executioner across the rest of the globe, including in several acknowledged cases, ordering the deaths of American citizens without due process.

Supporters of this policy set refer to the president’s role as oversight. And because the president is supposed to make his decisions with more regard than the military for civilian deaths (though there are no statistics to support that has been the outcome), the process represented, in the words of the New York Times, “restraint.”

To continue reading: Does It Matter Who Pulls the Trigger in the Drone Wars?

He Said That? 7/29/15

From William Tecumseh Sherman, Union General during the Civil War:

I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.

War Isn’t Actually Pointless, by Paul Rosenberg

From Paul Rosenberg at freemansperspective.com, with a hat tip to SLL reader Neil M. Dunn, who included the link in a comment yesterday: 

People often say that war is pointless, and it must be admitted that their argument is a good one:

What was gained in Iraq and Afghanistan? Things there are just as bad today as when the Western armies rolled in. And the threat to the West seems no less. To what end were all those people killed, mutilated, and terrorized?

What was the point of all the kingdom-versus-kingdom wars? Borders shifted left; borders shifted right; but the daily lives of the farmers, bakers, and traders mostly went back to normal after all the death.

And so on.

Even in the case of World War II – our best “wild man must be stopped” scenario – the facts don’t actually bear out the effectiveness of war. Yes, I’m very glad that Hitler was stopped (had I been there, I might have undertaken to kill him myself), but in full honesty, we must also admit that while the war stopped Hitler, it also made the world safe for Stalin, who went on to kill more people than Hitler ever did.

And without Stalin and a strong USSR, would Pol Pot have been able to kill a fourth of the population of Cambodia? Would Mao have been able to rack up the greatest death toll in human history… as much as Stalin and Hitler combined?

So, even in our very best scenario, a good argument can be made for war’s pointlessness.

But alas, I am drifting from my title subject, where I maintain that war is not pointless.

The Ruler and the “Poor Slob”

One of the more instructive quotes on war comes from Hermann Göring, a key member of Hitler’s inner circle. Notice the distinction he makes between the people and the leaders.

Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood.

But after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament or a communist dictatorship.

Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the peace makers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.

This explains why we so often see war as pointless: We’re looking at it from the vantage point of the poor slob, not from the vantage point of the ruler.

So, the truth is that war is not pointless… it’s only pointless from the standpoint of the poor slob who has to suffer and die in it.

For the ruler, war has a clear and compelling purpose: it gets rid of competitors.

States fight. That is as accurate as any statement of history that can be found. It was true 6,000 years ago and it is true now. Conflict is part of the core nature of states; they compete like animals over limited territories. Thus, war serves them.

To continue reading: War Isn’t Actually Pointless

He Said That? 7/17/15

From Will Rogers:

You can’t say civilization isn’t advancing; in every war they kill you in a new way.

He Said That? 1/2/15

From Hermann Goering, Adolf Hitler’s Rich-Marshall at the Nuremberg Trials after WWII:

Naturally, the common people don’t want war, but after all it is the leaders of a country that determine policy, and it is always a simple matter to drag people along whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.  Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders.  This is easy.  All you have to do is to tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.  It works the same in every country.

It’s worked for many centuries; it will undoubtedly work for many more.

Can America Fight a Thirty Years’ War? by Pat Buchanan

From Patrick Buchanan at http://buchanan.org/blog/

Can America Fight a Thirty Years’ War?

“The power to declare war, including the power of judging the causes of war, is fully and exclusively vested in the legislature.”

With this citation from Madison, Cong. Walter Jones is calling for a debate and decision on whether America should go to war in Syria and Iraq, when Congress reconvenes after Nov. 4.

Last week’s events make Jones’ request a national imperative.

For former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta says we are heading into a “30-year war” against the Islamic State and the emerging threats in Nigeria, Somalia, Yemen, Libya and elsewhere.

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