Posts Tagged ‘war’

The Coming Iran War

May 30, 2010

MJ Rosenberg, The Huffington Post, May 28, 2010


It’s happening again.

The same forces — with a few new additions and minus a few smart defectors — who pushed the United States into a needless and deadly war with Iraq are now organizing for the next war.

This time the target is Iran, which, just like Iraq, is said to be on the verge of creating weapons of mass destruction.

Also, just like Iraq, its president is a supposed madman determined to destroy Israel.

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Will Obama Say Yes to Afghan Peace Talks?

May 8, 2010

Robert Naiman, The Huffington Post, May 7, 2010

Afghan President Hamid Karzai is coming to Washington next week to meet with President Obama. Afghan government officials have said that their top priority for these talks is to get President Obama to agree that the U.S. will fully back efforts of the Afghan government to reconcile with senior leaders of the Afghan Taliban insurgency in order to end the war.

On the merits, saying yes to the Afghan government’s request for US support for peace talks would seem like a no-brainer.

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War Crimes Then And Now

April 30, 2010

By Phyllis Bennis, ZNet, April 30, 2010
Source: HP Friday,
Phyllis Bennis’s ZSpace Page

In an earlier era, in an earlier war, the recent exposés from Iraq and Afghanistan – with their shocking images, appalling laughter, video-game ethos – would have ‘shocked the conscience of the nation.’ In an earlier era, in an earlier war, when My Lai was exposed, it shocked the conscience of a whole lot of people who hadn’t been thinking very much about the war till then.
My Lai was hardly the first, and probably was not the worst US massacre of civilians in Vietnam. Casualties in Vietnam were exponentially higher than in Afghanistan. Still, when the reports came out, they hit the front pages. But these days, in today’s wars, the exposés were mostly relegated to page 13 of the New York Times, and there’s no evidence so far that any consciences were particularly shocked. The Pentagon responded that all the helicopter pilots and all the gunners had all operated within the official rules of engagement. No rules were broken.

And the Pentagon officials are probably right. The rules of engagement probably were not violated. The bylaws and directives of this war allow US Army helicopter gunners to shoot at unarmed Reuters photographers, and military convoys to fire on busloads of civilians in Afghanistan, and US Special Forces to murder pregnant women and teenaged girls in Iraq.

Of course the official rules of engagement don’t actually say that’s okay. General Stanley McChrystal, commander of all the US and NATO forces in Afghanistan, has been talking a lot about his concern over killing civilians. He doesn’t talk much about the danger to the Afghan civilians themselves, he talks mostly about how dangerous killing civilians is to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. He apologizes, over and over again, and admits that “We’ve shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat to the force.” He’s apologizing a lot these days, because that “amazing number” is in fact a very large aggregate of people – Afghan civilians – who are being killed by U.S. troops. They’re mowed down in passenger buses on the road, they’re pregnant women and a teenaged girl killed by U.S. soldiers inside their own home, they’re attacked by US helicopter gunners quite certain that the guy with the big camera is a terrorist.

General McChrystal really is sorry. Protecting civilians really is our top priority. It’s the fog of war, the split-second decisions that our young soldiers have to make.

And you know, he’s partly right. Most of these young soldiers are from rural areas and small towns, drafted into the military by the lack-of-jobs draft, the lack-of-money-for-college draft, the lack-of-any-other-options draft. They are themselves victims of Bush’s, and now President Obama’s war, sent to kill and sometimes die in a war that will not make them or their families safer, a war that is impoverishing their own country even as it devastates the countries in which they fight. General McChrystal can apologize all he wants, but counter-insurgency and the U.S. “global war on terrorism” are all about sending U.S. and a few NATO troops to kill Afghans in their own country. No surprise that sometimes – often – they kill the “wrong” Afghans. The split-second decisions are dangerous and difficult and sometimes impossible. But why does the U.S. military get to decide who are the “right” Afghans to be killed in their own country, anyway?

Some of the recent exposés demonstrate that not every operation in Afghanistan or Iraq is shrouded in the “fog of war.” The pilots and gunners in the helicopter gunships hovering over the Reuters journalists and the crowd of Iraqi civilians around them in 2007 were eager, laughing, urging each other on to the kill. When a local van pulled up to help transport some of the dead and wounded, the gunners asked for and got permission to fire again; this time they wounded two children, but blamed the Iraqi victims because “it’s their fault for bringing their kids into a battle.” In the February 2010 incident, if the reports of the Afghan investigators are correct, the US Special Forces – among the most highly trained killers of the US military – killed two innocent men in their Gardez courtyard and three women inside their house, then approached the dead women and girl to remove incriminating evidence (presumably identifiably made-in-the-USA bullets) from their bodies.

Does anyone still need to ask “why do they hate us?” The only ones this war makes safer are the war profiteers pocketing billion-dollar contracts – and the politicians pocketing campaign contributions in return. This war does not make Afghan or Iraqi lives better, the cost is devastating our economy, and there is no military victory in our future. The sooner we acknowledge that, and start withdrawing all the troops and drones and planes and close the bases, the sooner we can begin to make good on our real debt – humanitarian, not military – to the peoples of Iraq and Afghanistan.

Phyllis Bennis is a Fellow of the Institute for Policy Studies and co-author of Ending the US War in Afghanistan: A Primer.

Seven Years of War in Iraq: Still Based on Cheney’s Torture and Lies

March 22, 2010

Andy Worthington, The Huffington Post, March 21, 2010

Friday marked the seventh anniversary of the illegal invasion of Iraq, but by now, it seems, the American people have become used to living in a state of perpetual war, even though that war was based on torture and lies. Protestors rallied across the country on Saturday, but the anti-war impetus of the Bush years has not been regained, as I discovered to my sorrow during a brief U.S. tour in November, when I showed the new documentary film, “Outside the Law: Stories from Guantánamo” (directed by Polly Nash and myself) in New York, Washington D.C., and the Bay Area.

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UN Report: 346 Afghan Children Killed in 2009, Mostly by NATO

February 25, 2010
Largest Portion of Killings Came in Air Strikes

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com,  February 24, 2010

When the record 2009 civilian death toll began to emerge, NATO was quick to brag that they had actually killed fewer civilians than the Taliban. This appears to be the case still, though UN reports suggested the difference wasn’t nearly as dramatic as NATO initially claimed. There is one thing the Taliban can’t compete with NATO on, however, and that’s the killing of children.

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The Terror-Industrial Complex and Aafia Siddiqui

February 9, 2010

By Chris Hedges, TruthDig.com, Feb 8, 2010

AP / Fareed Khan
Mohammad Ahmed, son of Aafia Siddiqui, takes part in a demonstration arranged by Human Rights Network.

The conviction of the Pakistani neuroscientist Aafia Siddiqui in New York last week of trying to kill American military officers and FBI agents illustrates that the greatest danger to our security comes not from al-Qaida but the thousands of shadowy mercenaries, kidnappers, killers and torturers our government employs around the globe.

The bizarre story surrounding Siddiqui, 37, who received an undergraduate degree from MIT and a doctorate in neuroscience from Brandeis University, often defies belief. Siddiqui, who could spend 50 years in prison on seven charges when she is sentenced in May, was by her own account abducted in 2003 from her hometown of Karachi, Pakistan, with her three children—two of whom remain missing—and spirited to a secret U.S. prison where she was allegedly tortured and mistreated for five years. The American government has no comment, either about the alleged clandestine detention or the missing children.

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Obama, the war president

February 9, 2010

by Helen Thomas, The Albany Times-Union (New York), Feb 8, 2010

President Barack Obama does have a foreign policy. It’s called war.

The President has not defined any real difference between his hawkish approach to international issues and that of his predecessor, former President George W. Bush.

Where’s the change we can believe in?

Bush left a legacy of two wars, neither of which was ever fully explained or justified. Obama has merely picked up the sword that Bush left behind in Iraq and Afghanistan.

In the struggle against terrorism, one might say, “Who cares?”

One group that cares consists of Americans who follow the rules and think we should honor all the treaties we have promoted and signed over the years.

The President gave short shrift to foreign policy in his State of the Union address, mentioning neither the lives lost nor the cost of the global hostilities that the U.S. has involved itself in. He also didn’t mention U.S. policies in the Middle East, though those are the root cause of many of our problems.

While U.S. special envoy George Mitchell has a hopeful outlook for the resumption of the stalemated talks between the Israelis and Palestinians after a year of trying, Obama seems to have temporarily thrown in the towel.

Obama said he was keeping his promise to leave Iraq by the end of August.

Meanwhile, frequent suicide bombings continue in that beleaguered country.

Afghanistan is a different story. U.S. forces there are involved in manhunts of al-Qaida and Taliban leaders. But the cost in civilian life is heavy when drones are used and whole families have been wiped out to get one suspected leader.

The U.S. seems to have convinced the governments of Pakistan and Afghanistan that it’s their war too. The Washington Post said the loss of Hakimullah Mehsud has dealt a fatal blow to his followers.

The U.S. military web has spread to Yemen, where American intelligence teams have joined Yemeni troops in planning missions against al-Qaida elements. Scores have been killed there.

Then there’s the ramped-up U.S. saber-rattling toward Iran.

In his speech, Obama warned Iran of “consequences” if it didn’t play ball and co-operate on nuclear inspections. It’s unclear whether those consequences are of the financial variety or of a pre-emptive military strike by the U.S. or Israel.

All this comes at a time when the U.S. has bolstered its naval presence in the Persian Gulf and the neo-conservatives are calling for “regime change” in Iran.

But neo-con Robert Kagan, a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment, sees the possibility of peaceful regime change in Iran. Organic regime change could change the Iranian equation, Kagan concludes in a Washington Post article.

Iran, reacting to Western pressure or from fear of an attack, recently offered to send its uranium abroad for enrichment for industrial use.

There are new tensions in other parts of the world. China is upset with the U.S. $6 billion-plus arms sale to its nemesis, Taiwan. China’s also irked at Google for its belated push-back against Chinese hacking into Google’s G-mail accounts.

So while the President’s Democratic base of support mutters about his abandonment of health reform and immigration reform, Obama can take solace in support from the Republican Party whenever he flexes U.S. military muscle.

And so this president takes his place among other U.S. chief executives who have sought the glory of leading the nation in military conflict. He has attained the desired status of “War President.”

© 2010 Albany Times-Union

Helen Thomas is a columnist for Hearst Newspapers. E-mail: helent@hearstdc.com.  Among other books she is the author of Front Row at The White House: My Life and Times.

An American World of War. What to Watch for in 2010

January 5, 2010

by Tom Engelhardt & Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, Jan 4, 2009

According to the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the Year of the Tiger.  We don’t name our years, but if we did, this one might prospectively be called the Year of the Assassin.

We, of course, think of ourselves as something like the peaceable kingdom.  After all, the shock of September 11, 2001 was that “war” came to “the homeland,” a mighty blow delivered against the very symbols of our economic, military, and — had Flight 93 not gone down in a field in Pennsylvania — political power.

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Joe Lieberman: How About Another War?

January 2, 2010

John Nichols, The Nation,  Dec 28, 2009

Connecticut Senator Joe Lieberman, who began openly and aggressively angling for a war with Iraq just weeks after the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, and who has been the most ardent advocate for expanding the U.S. occupation of Afghanistan, appears to be determined to use the thwarted Christmas Day attack on a Northwest Airlines flight as an excuse to launch another crusade for another war.

Lieberman, the neoconservative solon who wanted to be the Secretary of Defense in the administration of John McCain (his 2008 candidate for president) and who would gladly play the same role in the administration of a Sarah Palin or any other saber-rattling Republican, is proposing the launch of a new preemptive war on Yemen.

Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab, the 23-year-old Nigerian accused of attempting to explode a plastic device aboard a flight from Amsterdam to Detroit on Friday, has told authorities that he traveled to Yemen to link up with al-Qaida operatives.

Lieberman admitted that in a Fox New interview that he was “not sure” whether the Nigerian succeeded in making contact with the individuals he “reached out to” in Yemen.

But “not sure” is good enough for Lieberman.

So, he says, it is time to start lobbing bombs — lots of them. (Presumably, Lieberman is talking about more attacks than have already been taking place as part of a U.S./Yemen partnership that has seen Washington spend $66 million this year on security and military assistance to Yemeni counter-terrorist forces — a project that most observers believe has included the use of U.S. warplanes, drones and/or cruise missiles in recent strikes against al Qaeda targets.)

Referencing his own travels to Yemen, and meetings with unnamed U.S. officials, the senator chirped: “Iraq was yesterday’s war, Afghanistan is today’s war. If we don’t act preemptively, Yemen will be tomorrow’s war.”

Lieberman, whose refusal to serve in the military when he could have during the Vietnam era has never prevented him from spouting hawkish views so over-the-top that his wiser colleagues to keep him off committees that deal with issues of war and peace, seems to be unaware that “acting preemptively” in the manner he suggests, is an act of war.

What’s the alternative? Doing what the Bush-Cheney administration failed to do. By working with the international community and employing smart diplomacy and policing strategies, the U.S. might well be able to address concerns about what is happening in Yemen… and Somalia… and Nigeria and a host of other countries.

Of course, Lieberman does not have much taste for smart diplomacy or policing strategies, as is obvious from his hamhanded tenure as chair of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs Committee.

Perhaps instead of getting all excited about starting another war, Lieberman would do better to focus in on the fact that the troubles on Christmas Day did not exactly reflect positive on the homeland security operations for which he is supposed to provide oversight and guidance.

In War, Winners Can Be Losers

December 26, 2009

By Lawrence S. Wittner, ZNet, Dec 26, 2009
Lawrence S. Wittner’s ZSpace Page


Thus far, most of the supporters and opponents of escalating the U.S. war in Afghanistan have focused on whether or not it is possible to secure a military victory in that conflict.  But they neglect considering the fact that, in war, even a winner can be a loser.

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