Posts Tagged ‘war’

Avi Shlaim: The perils and pitfalls of patriotic history

February 8, 2014

War is said to be too serious a business to be left to the soldiers. By the same token, military history is too serious to be left to the politicians. When politicians pontificate about the past it is rarely in the disinterested pursuit of a complex truth.

Michael Gove’s perspective on the First World War is a classic example of a narrow, nationalistic, blinkered version of history. In an article in the Daily Mail, on 2 January 2014, the education secretary used the centenary of the Great War to declare war on “left-wing academics” whom he accused of peddling unpatriotic myths about Britain’s role in the conflict.

For Gove this was a plainly just war, a patriotic war in defence of the homeland and freedom, a war forced on Britain by imperial Germany’s “aggressively expansionist war aims”. British soldiers, according to Gove, went to war in 1914 to defend “the western liberal order”. Gove also argued that dramas such as Oh What a Lovely War and satires such as Blackadder enable left-wing myths to take hold, leading some people to denigrate the “patriotism, honour and courage” of those who fought and died for their country. Gove’s article provoked a barrage of angry responses, including one from Baldrick, Blackadder’s wily sidekick.

One of the fiercest counter-attacks on the education secretary came from the left-wing journalist Seamus Milne in an article entitled “An imperial bloodbath that’s a warning, not a noble cause” (The Guardian, 9 January). Milne dismissed Gove’s claims about the war and its critics as “preposterous nonsense”. For Milne the 1914-18 bloodbath was not just a war: “It was a savage industrial slaughter perpetrated by a gang of predatory imperial powers, locked in a deadly struggle to capture and carve up territories, markets and resources”.

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Resolving the Kashmir Conflict

January 14, 2011

by Dr. Nasir Khan, Foreign Policy Journal, January 13, 2011

Almost the whole world had condemned the Mumbai attacks of November 2008. Such terrorism had also, once again, reminded us how important it is to combat the forces of communalist terror and political violence in the Indian subcontinent. But what is often ignored or suppressed is the fact that there are deep underlying causes of the malaise that erupts in the shape of such violent actions; the unresolved Kashmir issue happens to be the one prime cause that inflames the passions and anger of millions of people.

Kashmir Conflict

However, to repeat the mantra of “war on terror” as the Bush Administration had done for the last eight years while planning and starting major wars of aggression does not bring us one inch closer to solving the problem of violence and terror in our region. On the contrary, such short-sighted propaganda gimmicks were and are meant to camouflage the wars of aggression and lay the ground for further violence and bloodshed. The basic motive is to advance imperial interests and domination. The so-called “war on terror” is no war against terror; on the contrary, it has been the continuation of the American imperial policy for its definite goals in the Middle East and beyond. Obviously any serious effort to combat terror will necessarily take into account the causes of terror, and not merely be content with the visible symptoms.

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Please Mr. President! Some Truth About Afghanistan

December 23, 2010

Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, Dec 20, 2010

After nine years of war in Afghanistan, costing over $100 billion in taxpayer money and 700 American lives, the full truth about this murky conflict remains elusive.

The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. As the cynic Ambrose Bierce pointedly observed of patriots — “the dupe of statesmen; the tool of conquerors.”

Three interesting reports about Afghanistan emerged in Washington last week.

First, a political whitewash issued by the Obama White House claiming the war was going well and some US troops might be withdrawn next year. This ‘don’t worry be happy’ summary was trumpeted by the pro-war New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other members of the government-friendly US media.

US generals spoke of “progress” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, as US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban.

Second, the Red Cross issued a grim report showing that Afghans were suffering widespread malnutrition and serious health problems after nearly a decade of Western occupation. So much for US-led nation-building.

Third, there were leaks about a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the combined findings of all 16 US intelligence agencies. This key intelligence report is explosive and may not be fully revealed.

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Blowing Billions on War While American Workers Go Under

December 6, 2010

by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe, The Huffington Post,  Dec 5, 2010

When asked by USA Today‘s pollsters last week, sixty-eight percent of Americans said we worry that the cost of the Afghanistan War hurts our ability to fix problems here in the U.S. This week, we learned just how right we were about that. Friday’s terrible jobs report shows that a crushing 9.8 percent of us are unemployed. And, millions of us are about to lose our lifeline because Congress refuses to extend unemployment insurance benefits. We’re spending $2 billion per week — per week! — in Afghanistan while millions of people face going hungry during the holidays.

Do our elected officials not get it? We’re drowning out here, and the administration is throwing money that could put Americans back to work at a failed war on the other side of the planet. In fact, that’s where the president was when the jobs report came out this morning — in Afghanistan, talking about “progress” again.

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Blair Reveals Cheney’s War Agenda

September 7, 2010

by Robert Parry, Consortiumnews.com,  September 8, 2010

Ex-British Prime Minister Tony Blair’s new memoir offers the expected rationalizations for his joining in an illegal, aggressive war against Iraq, even to the point of quibbling about the death toll. But Blair does reveal how much more war was favored by Vice President Dick Cheney and the neocons.

In A Journey: My Political Life, Blair depicts Cheney as believing the United States was at war not only with Islamic terrorists but with “rogue states that supported them” and that “the only way of defeating [this threat] was head-on, with maximum American strength.”

Cheney wanted forcible “regime change” in all Middle Eastern countries that he considered hostile to U.S. interests, according to Blair.

“He would have worked through the whole lot, Iraq, Syria, Iran, dealing with all their surrogates in the course of it – Hezbollah, Hamas, etc.,” Blair wrote. “In other words, he [Cheney] thought the world had to be made anew, and that after 11 September, it had to be done by force and with urgency. So he was for hard, hard power. No ifs, no buts, no maybes.”

Over the years, there have been indications of this larger neoconservative strategy to attack America’s – and Israel’s – “enemies” starting with Iraq and then moving on to Syria and Iran, but rarely has this more expansive plan for regional war been shared explicitly with the American public.

Usually, the scheme could be found only in obscure neocon policy papers or as part of Washington scuttlebutt. After the Iraq invasion, a favorite neocon joke was whether to next head west toward Damascus or east to Tehran with the punch line, “real men go to Tehran.”

Under this neocon plan, once “regime change” was achieved in Syria and Iran, then Israel’s front-line adversaries, Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in the Palestinian territories, would be left impoverished and isolated. Israel could dictate settlement terms to the Palestinians and incorporate the Jewish settlements on prime West Bank land into a Greater Israel.

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The Cold War is over. Long live the Cold War.

July 6, 2010
by William Blum, Foreign Policy Journal, July 6, 2010

I recently attended a showing of Oliver Stone’s new documentary film, “South of the Border”, which concerns seven present-day government leaders of Latin America -– in Venezuela, Bolivia, Ecuador, Argentina, Paraguay, Cuba and Brazil — who are not in love with US foreign policy. After the film there was a discussion panel in the theatre, consisting of Stone, the two writers of the film (Tariq Ali and Mark Weisbrot) and Cynthia Arnson, Director of the Latin American Program of the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars, in Washington; the discussion was moderated by Neal Conan of National Public Radio.

It perhaps was not meant to be a “debate”, but it quickly became that, with Arnson leading the “anti-communist” faction, supported somewhat by Conan’s questions and more vociferously by a segment of the audience which took sides loudly via applause and cries of approval or displeasure. Twenty years post-Cold War, anti-communism still runs deep in the American soul and psyche. Candid criticism of US foreign policy and/or capitalism is sufficient to consign a foreign government or leader to the “communist” camp whether or not that term is specifically used.

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CIA director defends Iraqi killers contract

June 29, 2010
Morning Star Online, Monday 28 June 2010
by Tom Mellen

The CIA has defended its new $100 million (£66m) contract with a notorious mercenary outfit to protect US diplomats in Afghanistan.

In a rare television interview on Sunday, CIA director Leon Panetta confirmed that his agency had hired Xe Services – the company once known as Blackwater – to provide “protective security services” at US consulates in Herat and Mazar-i-Sharif.

Mr Panetta insisted that the US intelligence service did not have “much choice but to accept that contract” after Xe underbid other competitors “by about $26m.”

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Is Petraeus McChrystal’s Replacement or Obama’s?

June 25, 2010

By Paul  Craig Roberts, Counterpunch, June 24, 2010

Our petulant president’s ego can’t handle a general letting off steam. Neither can any of the spoiled children who comprise “our” government in DC, the capital of the “superpower.”

Generals have to fight wars that civilians start, either from the incompetence of their diplomacy or the arrogance of their hubris.  Generals have to get young troops killed because of the stupidity or ambition or corruption of civilian government officials.

All McChrystal did was to let off steam. A real president would have realized that and let it go.

Don’t get me wrong. McChrystal is a militarist, and I am pleased to see him gone.

However, McChrystal didn’t restart America’s aggression against Afghanistan. Obama  did.

People elected Obama, because they were tired of Bush’s wars based on lies. So Obama gave us a new war in Pakistan and reignited the Afghan war. No one knows what these wars are about or why the bankrupt US government is wasting vast sums of money, which it has to borrow from foreigners, in order to murder the citizenry in two countries that have never done anything to us.

Just as Bush/Cheney and their criminal neocon government deceived the world that Saddam Hussein had “weapons of mass destruction” that threatened white people everywhere, Obama has conflated the Taliban with al Qaeda. Obama has sold the tale to white countries that unless the US determines how Afghanistan is ruled and by whom, white people are in danger of being exterminated by al Qaeda Taliban terrorists.

The most telling aspect of the McChrystal-Obama contretemps is that it has caused no one in the US government, or media, to ask why the US is still killing women and children in Afghanistan after 9 years. The US government is prepared for everyone except itself to be tried at the War Crimes Tribunal.

Fred Branfman writing in AlterNet on June 22 reminds us that unnumbered Iraqis were killed, maimed, tortured and displaced by an American invasion based on lies told by the highest officials in the American government.  Yet, no one has been held accountable.

But Gen. McChrystal is held accountable for letting off steam.

Once the Roman senate, the legislative branch, collapsed, the caesars, the executive branch, became the captives of the military. Now with Gen. Petraeus once again moved to the fore as McChrystal’s replacement in Afghanistan, we have  Obama  elevating Petraeus to the Republican presidential nomination in the next election. Thus has Obama replaced himself with a man who will unify the military and executive branch.

Associated Press writers Jennifer Loven and Anne Gearan write (June 23) about the “admired and tightly disciplined Gen. David Petraeus,” the “architect of the Iraq war turnaround,” who is “once again to take hands-on leadership of a troubled war effort.”

Petraeus is an evolved form of general. He “won” in Iraq by paying protection money to the Sunnis who were effectively resisting the US occupation. Petraeus figured out that it was far cheaper and more efficient to put the Sunnis on the US military payroll and to pay them to stop fighting, which is how the war between the Sunnis and the Americans ended. To keep the Americans out of the ongoing large scale sectarian violence that continues to slaughter Iraqis, the US military was confined to remote bases.

If history is a guide, the Afghans will also accept Petraeus’ protection money, and Petraeus has just enough time to buy the Afghan war before the next presidential election.

The Afghans will, of course, take the money and wait us out, just as the Iraqis are doing.

All of this drama is playing out despite the continuing lack of any valid reason for the American invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan. The Washington idiots, trying to dictate how Iraq and Afghanistan are governed, are destroying constitutional government in the United States. In our hubris to determine how Iraq and Afghanistan are ruled, we are losing our own government.

Paul Craig Roberts was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached at: PaulCraigRoberts@yahoo.com

Top Ten Myths about the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict

June 19, 2010

Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2010

A Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli  tank in the occupied West Bank.

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

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American drone strike killed 15 in Pakistan

June 13, 2010

Irish Sun,  Friday 11th June, 2010
(IANS)

The toll in the US drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area has risen to 15 while 10 were wounded in the incident Friday, media reports said.

The drone fired four missiles at a house in Datta Khel area, killing four people on the spot, Xinhua quoted a news channel as saying.

The injured were rushed to a hospital as 11 people succumbed to injuries later, the private Geo News channel reported, citing local sources. Several others were in critical condition.

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