Posts Tagged ‘Jason Ditz’

Obama Slams ‘Obsession’ With Ending War in Afghanistan

June 28, 2010
Insists His Focus Is on Winning the War

by Jason Ditz,,  June 27, 2010

Speaking today in the wake of the G20 Summit, President Barack Obama criticized what he called “a lot of obsession” about ending the war in Afghanistan and withdrawing some 100,000 American troops from the nation.

Obama insisted that instead of considering if and how the war will ever come to some sort of end, his “focus right now is how do we make sure that what we’re doing there is successful, given the incredible sacrifices.”

The US initially invaded Afghanistan in late 2001. The number of troops in the nation has rising precipitously since President Obama took office in 2009, inheriting a war with 30,000 troops and turning it into a war with 100,000 troops.

Obama’s comments reflect those he made earlier this week, disavowing his pledge to begin withdrawing troops from Afghanistan in July of 2011. Now President Obama says that date is just the “beginning of a transition phase” and there is no particular timeline for leaving Afghanistan.

With the war increasingly unpopular, the president presented the 2011 drawdown date as a way to make his most recent escalation more palatable. With the surge troops now deployed, the date appears to have been discarded, and those still clamoring for some sort of end to the nearly decade-long war condemned for losing sight of some ill-defined victory.


US Slams Mention of Israeli Nukes at IAEA Meeting

June 11, 2010
Warns Mentioning Israel’s Arsenal Will Harm ‘Nuclear Free Mideast’ Push

by Jason Ditz,,  June 10, 2010

US officials reacted angrily today at the inclusion of Israel’s nuclear arsenal as a topic of discussion for the IAEA meeting, insisting that it was “untimely and uncalled for.

The meeting is the first IAEA meeting to oficially mention Israel since 1991, and included several Arab nations urging Israel to join the nuclear non-proliferation treaty (NPT). Israel has repeatedly and angrily refused to be a part of the treaty or to submit its arsenal to any international oversight.

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Israeli Commando Who Killed Six Aid Workers to Receive Medal

June 5, 2010

Staff Sergeant Brags of Role in Massacre

by Jason Ditz,,  June 4, 2010

Autopsies are coming out today revealing some details about the circumstances of the Israeli attack which left at least nine aid workers dead. Doctors say that several of the victims were shot in the head and that in at least one case the gun was just inches from the aid worker’s head when fired.

But additional information is also coming in in the form of a report from an unnamed Israeli staff-sergeant, who claims proudly to have single-handedly killed at least six of the civilian aid workers.

The staff-sergeant says he has no doubt everyone on board was a “terrorist” and claimed there were secretly dozens of “hardcore mercenaries” on board.

The staff-sergeant’s story is being well received in Israel, where the killings have been lionized by a sympathetic media and by government officials eager to cash in on the latest jingoist craze. He is now being praised for “stabilizing the situation” and is being considered for a medal of valor for his killings.

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As Obama Wavers, Congressmen Cheer Aid Ship Massacre

June 2, 2010

Foreign Affairs Chair Lauds Killings of ‘Brutal’ Aid Workers

by Jason Ditz,, June 01, 2010

President Obama’s reluctance to comment in any but the most vague terms of the massacre of 19 aid workers by Israeli commandos late Sunday night has left many wondering exactly where the US government will fall on an issue which has been blanketly condemned by virtually every government in the civilized world and virtually every government outside the civilized world.

But the lack of White House comment has opened the door for Congressmen to stake out public positions on the matter and, perhaps predictably, those that have commented have universally praised the killings.

Rep. Gary Ackerman, the House Foreign Affairs chair, praised the raid, saying he supported Israel’s decision to attack the ship and the decision of the commandos to use deadly force against the aid workers, who he said were “brutally attacking” them. He added that the whole matter was secretly Hamas’ fault.

Several of the Congressmen singled out the United Nations for condemnation, claiming that criticizing the massacre was a “double standard” and demanding that President Obama use veto power to prevent any action being taken against Israel for it.

President Obama has called for an Israeli-led “investigation” into the lead up to the massacre, but has stopped short of criticizing the killings in any specific way. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton advised people to be “careful” in their responses.

Hundreds Killed as US Escalates Pakistan Strikes

April 26, 2010

Few Notable Militants Reported Killed

by Jason Ditz,, April 25, 2010

After killing a record 700 civilians last year in at least 44 distinct drone strikes against Pakistan in 2009, the Obama Administration looks to be escalating the rate even further in 2010, to the point that drone strikes have become a decidedly ordinary occurrence.

Less than four months into the new year, the US has already launched 40 attacks and killed at least 268 people. The most recent strike yesteray in North Waziristan killed at least nine people.

The identities of the victims are never particularly easy to ascertain, but the number of named militants killed so far this year is trivial, as it was last year, when most of the “suspects” turned out to have no discernible relation to any militant faction.

Since taking office, President Obama has repeatedly escalated the drone strikes against the tribal areas, to the point where multiple attacks a week are a matter of course. With the normal winter lull seeing such a large number of strikes, a new record for killings seems all but assured again in 2010.

Pentagon: Attack on Iran Always an Option

April 22, 2010
Iran Reiterates Criticism of Nuclear Threat

by Jason Ditz,, April 21, 2010

Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morrell quickly repudiated comments from one of the Defense Department’s undersecretaries today, insisting that attack Iran at any time is “always an option.”

The latest comments came in response to Undersecretary Flournoy’s claims earlier this morning that a military attack against Iran was “off the table in the near term” and that the Obama Administration was focusing on “engagement and pressure.”

The US has been threatening to attack Iran for years, but those threats have gotten increasingly direct since President Obama took office last year.

Meanwhile Iran’s Supreme Leader Ayatollah Khamenei reiterated his nation’s outrage at the Obama Administration’s threat to launch a nuclear first strike against Iran. Earlier this month, President Obama announced that the US would never launch a nuclear first strike against a non-nuclear power, but then quickly noted that Iran was explicitly excluded from this pledge.

US Troops See ‘Expanded Role’ in Pakistan

April 14, 2010

Pentagon Pushes for $10 Million ‘Pool’ for Funding

by Jason Ditz,,  April 13, 2010

Despite an official prohibition at taking any part in Pakistan’s assorted military offensives, the US Special Forces in the nation have continued to expand the definition of “training operations” until now they are overseeing the combat in several areas.

The training mission was originally supposed to be so limited that they weren’t supposed to even train troops directly, they were supposed to train Pakistani trainers who would pass the information along to the paramilitary forces in FATA. Even this was controversial at the time.

But now, the US troops are taking part in “hold and build” operations in FATA, coordinating the operations of the various Pakistani military and civilian authorities in the region.

The Pentagon is now said to be seeking the creation of a $10 million pool for the “trainers” in the nation, to be used for discretionary “hearts and minds” spending, likely mostly on humanitarian aid projects.

But US troops are already showing up in some odd places considering their extremely limited mission. In February three US soldiers were killed in a bombing in the Swat Valley, when the troops were attending a school opening in the area. These photo-op visits are likely to become more and more common as the US presence in the nation grows.

Obama, Israel Agree to ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ Policy on East Jerusalem Settlements

March 19, 2010

Israel Pledges ‘Trust Building’ Moves Short of Actually Stopping Settlement Growth

by Jason Ditz,,  March 18, 2010

After last week’s announced settlement expansion effectively torpedoed the indirect peace talks with the Palestinian Authority, the Israeli government is will to do almost anything to build “trust,” so long as it doesn’t involve the only thing the PA actually wants, abandoning that settlement expansion.

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Pakistani Civilians Among 17 Killed in Latest US Drone Strikes

March 11, 2010

Drone Attacked Crowd of Civilians Rescuing Victims of Previous Drone

by Jason Ditz,, March 10, 2010

An unknown number of civilians were slain today in Pakistan’s North Waziristan Agency, when US drones launched a pair of attacks on a site which left at least 17 people killed and several wounded.

The first drone strike targeted a vehicle which Pakistani officials say was “carrying some miscreants.” The attack killed at least eight people and collapsed a nearby home, which is what precipitated the second attack.

A crowd of civilians gathered around the collapsed building, trying to pull people from the rubble, when a second drone fired missiles into the crowd, killing at least nine people and wounding several others.

“Miscreants” aside, it was unclear if any of those killed were militants of any significant faction, and Pakistani officials say there was no evidence any high-value target at the site. The area is controlled by a nominally “Taliban” militant faction which currently has a peace deal with the Pakistani government.

NATO Forces Kill 10 Afghan Civilians, Mostly Children

December 29, 2009

Deaths Come in Apparent US Raid in Kunar Province

by Jason Ditz,,  December 28, 2009

NATO officially denied having any information about any operations going on in Kunar, but western officials privately conceded that US special forces have been operating in the Taliban-heavy area. A spokesman for the NATO forces promised to “look into” the reports.

Provincial police could provide only sparse details about the killings, and said that a full investigation would take several days, owing to the difficulty in even traveling to the area of the incident. US officials have yet to comment at all.

Though the Taliban has established a growing presence in the province, Kunar has been comparatively ignored by international forces since this summer, when provincial officials accused a US soldier of throwing a hand grenade into a crowd of civilians in a marketplace. The grenade killed two people and injured 56 others.

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