Posts Tagged ‘military’

Causing genocide to protect us from terror

April 18, 2015

Neil Clark is a journalist, writer and broadcaster. His award winning blog can be found at www.neilclark66.blogspot.com. Follow him on Twitter

Published time: March 30, 2015 12:52

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007.  (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

An Iraqi family watches U.S. soldiers in in Baquba early June 28, 2007. (Reuters/Goran Tomasevic)

A report called Body Count has revealed that at least 1.3 million people have lost their lives as a result of the US-led “war on terror” in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan. It’s a report which should have made front page news across the world.

In the comprehensive 101 pagedocument ‘Body Count,’

Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival and International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War, have produced figures for the number of people killed from September 11, 2001 until the end of 2013.

The findings are devastating: the in-depth investigation concludes that the ‘war on terror‘ has, directly or indirectly, killed around 1 million people in Iraq, 220,000 in Afghanistan and 80,000 in Pakistan. As awful as that sounds, the total of 1.3 million deaths does not take into account casualties in other war zones, such as Yemen – and the authors stress that the figure is a “conservative estimate”.

“The total number of deaths in the three countries named above could also be in excess of 2 million, whereas a figure below 1 million is extremely unlikely,” the executive summary says.

Continues >>

Advertisements

The men who love war

March 11, 2010

Morning Star Online, March 11, 2010

Solomon Hughes

Two arms dealers attacked Gordon Brown for not spending more on weapons. It doesn’t have the same ring as “army big guns attack Gordon Brown’s defence budget claims” or “Prime Minister is targeted by top brass over army funding claims.” But it is true.

Admiral Lord Boyce and Lord Guthrie are publicly attacking Brown for not buying enough weapons. But Boyce and Guthrie are not merely a retired soldier and a former sailor.

Boyce is a director of the VT Group, which makes hundreds of millions of pounds selling goods and services to the navy.

Continues >>

The 700 Military Bases of Afghanistan

February 11, 2010

The 700 Military Bases of Afghanistan Black Sites in the Empire of Bases

by Nick Turse, TomDispatch.com, Feb 10, 2010

In the nineteenth century, it was a fort used by British forces.  In the twentieth century, Soviet troops moved into the crumbling facilities.  In December 2009, at this site in the Shinwar district of Afghanistan’s Nangarhar Province, U.S. troops joined members of the Afghan National Army in preparing the way for the next round of foreign occupation.  On its grounds, a new military base is expected to rise, one of hundreds of camps and outposts scattered across the country.

Nearly a decade after the Bush administration launched its invasion of Afghanistan, TomDispatch offers the first actual count of American, NATO, and other coalition bases there, as well as facilities used by the Afghan security forces.  Such bases range from relatively small sites like Shinwar to mega-bases that resemble small American towns.  Today, according to official sources, approximately 700 bases of every size dot the Afghan countryside, and more, like the one in Shinwar, are under construction or soon will be as part of a base-building boom that began last year.

Continues >>

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.

Continues >>

Democracy in America is a useful fiction

January 26, 2010

Chris Hedges, truthdig.com,  January 24, 2010

Original: AP / Charles Dharapak

Corporate forces, long before the Supreme Court’s decision in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, carried out a coup d’état in slow motion. The coup is over. We lost. The ruling is one more judicial effort to streamline mechanisms for corporate control. It exposes the myth of a functioning democracy and the triumph of corporate power. But it does not significantly alter the political landscape. The corporate state is firmly cemented in place.

Continues >>

Uncle Sam, More War, Please

August 4, 2009

By Philip Giraldi, Campaign For Liberty, Aug 3, 2009

In “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare’s Brutus counsels “There is a tide in the affairs of men, which, taken on the flood, leads on to fortune.” Shakespeare was describing how powerful men seeking yet more power, blinded by hubris, collectively brought about the destruction of the very republic that they claimed to love. Brutus was urging his fellow conspirator Cassius to fight the forces of Anthony and Octavian on the following day at Philippi in the belief that one more battle would end the civil war that had begun with the assassination of Caesar. Brutus concludes his exhortation with a personal note revealing that for all his high mindedness he was not unmindful of the lure of military glory, “omitted, all the voyage of their life is bound in shallows and in miseries.” As has become increasingly clear to many, in “Julius Caesar” Shakespeare could have as easily been writing about contemporary America as the Roman Republic.

Who can doubt that Washington has recently had more than its share of would be heroes seeking the flood tide that will lift them up to feast in Valhalla. More often than not, that tide has been provided by war and more often than not the decision to cast the die on the battlefield has proven to be an error, leading to a languishing “in shallows and in miseries” for the entire American people. The latest call to arms is coming from the new American Caesar in Central Asia, General Stanley McChrystal who has a plan. McChrystal believes that Afghanistan can be redeemed after eight years of failure if only the United States provides more soldiers and the Afghans can be induced to dramatically increase the size of their own army and police forces. There are several fundamental problems with the McChrystal vision, starting with the fact that the Afghan government cannot even afford to pay for the army and police forces that it already has. Also, the offensive currently taking place in Afghanistan is demonstrating that it is difficult to make progress in an environment where the local population, having been pounded by US air power for the past seven years, is unrelentingly hostile.

But McChrystal thinks he can fix all that by putting more American boots on the ground, reasoning that mixing with the local population rather than pummeling them from the air will prove beneficial. Of course, the good general might discover that the presence of a lot of occupying troops who do not speak the local language and have no knowledge of indigenous customs might not prove an unmitigated blessing, particularly when they have to call in the helicopter gunships to blast the locals whenever they get in trouble. American ability to deal with local cultures has never been a strong point. I recall the advice of my old sergeant from Alabama back in 1969 when I was a member of the US Army’s Berlin Brigade. “If you don’t understand the local lingo whether it’s a gook or a kraut, just speak slowly and very loudly. They’ll figure it out.” What the locals actually figure out pretty quickly is that you don’t care enough about them to even learn out how to order a cup of tea and they act accordingly.

What is most curious about the McChrystal solution, which threatens to involve the US in Central Asia until 2020, is how the decision was made to add more soldiers. In true Washington fashion, McChrystal convened a sixty day review to look at the problem. Some members of the commission like Anthony Cordesman of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, Stephen Biddle of the Council on Foreign Relations, and Andrew Exum of the Center for a New American Security are highly respectable independent thinkers, but some of the other choices are the same people who advised George Bush, drawn from places like The American Enterprise Institute. It is important to note that the advisory group was selected to reflect a certain diversity of opinion in tactical terms, but no one was selected to represent an alternative viewpoint, i.e. that the US should leave Afghanistan as soon as possible. It was a group designed to say “yes.” Not a single board member was opposed to the Iraq War before it began, has spoken out publicly against plans to fight Iran, or has recommended that withdrawal from Afghanistan might be in the US national interest. Not one. So what kind of result did McChrystal expect? The result he got, which is to increase troop levels and deepen America’s commitment to a war that is likely being lost.

Two of the commission members are particularly odd choices, the ubiquitous Kagans, husband Fred and wife Kimberly. Fred is a fellow at the neoconservative American Enterprise Institute who claims to have been a co-creator of the surge policy that was applied in Iraq. His wife Kimberly is a classic neocon entrepreneur who relied on nepotism to work her way through the system. She studied ancient history at Yale under Donald Kagan and then married his son who later claimed to be the co-author of the “surge.” She is now billed as a “military expert” by the neocon media, and apparently also by General McChrystal, in spite of her lack of any actual military experience. For the neocon “Weekly Standard” she wrote a hagiography of the plodding General Raymond Odierno called “The Patton of Counterinsurgency” which might well be considered a comedy piece but for the fact that it was serious. She writes mostly about the Middle East, but does not appear to have working knowledge of either Farsi or Arabic like many of the other so-called experts, and is president of the curiously named Institute for the Study of War.

Another commission member Jeremy Shapiro of the Brookings Institution, has written two articles on Afghanistan entitled “Insurgents are not winning in Afghanistan” and “Optimism in Afghanistan.” The former was written last summer and seems to have been an inaccurate assessment even for that time period. The latter was written last spring. Shapiro might well regret his conclusions but his getting things wrong did not exclude him from McChrystals’s review board. Jeremy speaks French and Spanish and, like the other advisors, could hardly be described as an expert on Afghanistan. In fact, there was no expert on Afghanistan present on the board and no one could speak any of the country’s several commonly used languages. If there was an expertise present it was on fighting wars from behind a desk, something that only occurs in the bizarre quasi-academic Washington beltway think tank culture. As Washington insiders have only rarely seen a war that they didn’t like, the results of McChrystal’s review were more-or-less predictable.

So should Washington follow the example of the British and other Europeans who are seeing no light at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan and are preparing to get out? McChrystal doesn’t think so and he has assembled a cast of Washington think tank luminaries to support his call for more troops, more engagement, and lots more money to pay for the same, even if it has to be printed up in a basement somewhere and converted into treasury bonds to be sold to the Chinese. In Vietnam (and Cambodia and Laos) there came a tipping point when the military effort was widely seen as going nowhere and just not sustainable any longer. When will the American people and its newly elected president come to that same conclusion about Afghanistan (and Pakistan and …)?

Clinton: US Won’t Hesitate to Use Military Against Iran

July 16, 2009

Not a Threat, It’s a Promise, Secretary of State Tells CFR

by Jason Ditz, Antiwar.com, July 15, 2009

In a high-profile policy address before the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR), Secretary of State Hillary Clinton declared that the US wouldn’t not hesitate to use its military to “defend our friends, our interests, and above all, our people” during the segment discussing Iran.

She elaborated on the declaration with “this is not an option we seek nor is it a threat; it is a promise.” Clinton also warned Iran that the US offer to hold talks, which she had previously said she didn’t expect to work to begin with, would not be open-ended and that “our willingness to talk is not a sign of weakness.”

Today’s comments are the latest in a long line of bellicose rhetoric coming from the Secretary of State. Last month during a television interview she said that Iran was risking the possibility of a US invasion, citing the disastrous 2003 invasion of Iraq as a model.

The US has been demanding that the Iranian government abandon its civilian nuclear energy generation program, and several officials have claimed, despite a stark lack of evidence, that Iran is working on nuclear weapons. The IAEA has pointed out no evidence for the accusation exists, and America’s own National Intelligence Estimate says they don’t believe Iran has an active weapons program either.

Iraq, AfPak, beyond: the global cost of war

June 20, 2009

Paul Rogers, OpenDemocracy, June 18, 2009

The toxic phrase “war on terror” has fallen out of use, but the destructive effects of the real thing continue and even escalate in a period of economic crisis.

A major landmark in the in the United States’s military presence in Iraq arrives on 30 June 2009, when the army is scheduled to withdraw its combat-troops from the country’s cities. The terms of the “status-of-forces agreement” with the Iraqi government will see most of these (currently 133,000)  soldiers relocated to a number of major bases in rural areas, though some will join the 30,000 troops that have left Iraq since the peak of the “surge” in mid-2008.

The process is taking place against the background of continuing violence in Iraq, notwithstanding reports of an overall increase in security. Indeed, Iraq’s foreign minister Hoshyar Zebari is warning that al-Qaida and Ba’athist militant clusters will seek to escalate the level of violence in advance of the 30 June deadline, in order to take credit for forcing the Americans into a humiliating retreat (see Patrick Cockburn, “US troops ask Syria to thwart al-Qa’ida offensive“, Independent, 17 June 2009).

Continued >>

War Is Sin

June 2, 2009

by Chris Hedges | Truthdig.com, June 1, 2009

The crisis faced by combat veterans returning from war is not simply a profound struggle with trauma and alienation. It is often, for those who can slice through the suffering to self-awareness, an existential crisis. War exposes the lies we tell ourselves about ourselves. It rips open the hypocrisy of our religions and secular institutions. Those who return from war have learned something which is often incomprehensible to those who have stayed home. We are not a virtuous nation. God and fate have not blessed us above others. Victory is not assured. War is neither glorious nor noble. And we carry within us the capacity for evil we ascribe to those we fight.

Those who return to speak this truth, such as members of Iraq Veterans Against the War, are our contemporary prophets. But like all prophets they are condemned and ignored for their courage. They struggle, in a culture awash in lies, to tell what few have the fortitude to digest. They know that what we are taught in school, in worship, by the press, through the entertainment industry and at home, that the melding of the state’s rhetoric with the rhetoric of religion, is empty and false.

The words these prophets speak are painful. We, as a nation, prefer to listen to those who speak from the patriotic script. We prefer to hear ourselves exalted. If veterans speak of terrible wounds visible and invisible, of lies told to make them kill, of evil committed in our name, we fill our ears with wax. Not our boys, we say, not them, bred in our homes, endowed with goodness and decency. For if it is easy for them to murder, what about us? And so it is simpler and more comfortable not to hear. We do not listen to the angry words that cascade forth from their lips, wishing only that they would calm down, be reasonable, get some help, and go away. We, the deformed, brand our prophets as madmen. We cast them into the desert. And this is why so many veterans are estranged and enraged. This is why so many succumb to suicide or addictions.

War comes wrapped in patriotic slogans, calls for sacrifice, honor and heroism and promises of glory. It comes wrapped in the claims of divine providence. It is what a grateful nation asks of its children. It is what is right and just. It is waged to make the nation and the world a better place, to cleanse evil. War is touted as the ultimate test of manhood, where the young can find out what they are made of. War, from a distance, seems noble. It gives us comrades and power and a chance to play a small bit in the great drama of history. It promises to give us an identity as a warrior, a patriot, as long as we go along with the myth, the one the war-makers need to wage wars and the defense contractors need to increase their profits.

But up close war is a soulless void. War is about barbarity, perversion and pain, an unchecked orgy of death. Human decency and tenderness are crushed. Those who make war work overtime to reduce love to smut, and all human beings become objects, pawns to use or kill. The noise, the stench, the fear, the scenes of eviscerated bodies and bloated corpses, the cries of the wounded, all combine to spin those in combat into another universe. In this moral void, naively blessed by secular and religious institutions at home, the hypocrisy of our social conventions, our strict adherence to moral precepts, come unglued. War, for all its horror, has the power to strip away the trivial and the banal, the empty chatter and foolish obsessions that fill our days. It lets us see, although the cost is tremendous.

The Rev. William P. Mahedy, who was a Catholic chaplain in Vietnam, tells of a soldier, a former altar boy, in his book “Out of the Night: The Spiritual Journey of Vietnam Vets,” who says to him: “Hey, Chaplain … how come it’s a sin to hop into bed with a mama-san but it’s okay to blow away gooks out in the bush?”

“Consider the question that he and I were forced to confront on that day in a jungle clearing,” Mahedy writes. “How is it that a Christian can, with a clear conscience, spend a year in a war zone killing people and yet place his soul in jeopardy by spending a few minutes with a prostitute? If the New Testament prohibitions of sexual misconduct are to be stringently interpreted, why, then, are Jesus’ injunctions against violence not binding in the same way? In other words, what does the commandment ‘Thou shalt not kill’ really mean?”

Military chaplains, a majority of whom are evangelical Christians, defend the life of the unborn, tout America as a Christian nation and eagerly bless the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as holy crusades. The hollowness of their morality, the staggering disconnect between the values they claim to promote, is ripped open in war.

There is a difference between killing someone who is trying to kill you and taking the life of someone who does not have the power to harm you. The first is killing. The second is murder. But in the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, where the enemy is elusive and rarely seen, murder occurs far more often than killing. Families are massacred in airstrikes. Children are gunned down in blistering suppressing fire laid down in neighborhoods after an improvised explosive device goes off near a convoy. Artillery shells obliterate homes. And no one stops to look. The dead and maimed are left behind.

The utter failure of nearly all our religious institutions-whose texts are unequivocal about murder-to address the essence of war has rendered them useless. These institutions have little or nothing to say in wartime because the god they worship is a false god, one that promises victory to those who obey the law and believe in the manifest destiny of the nation.

We all have the capacity to commit evil. It takes little to unleash it. For those of us who have been to war this is the awful knowledge that is hardest to digest, the knowledge that the line between the victims and the victimizers is razor-thin, that human beings find a perverse delight in destruction and death, and that few can resist the pull. At best, most of us become silent accomplices.

Wars may have to be fought to ensure survival, but they are always tragic. They always bring to the surface the worst elements of any society, those who have a penchant for violence and a lust for absolute power. They turn the moral order upside down. It was the criminal class that first organized the defense of Sarajevo. When these goons were not manning roadblocks to hold off the besieging Bosnian Serb army they were looting, raping and killing the Serb residents in the city. And those politicians who speak of war as an instrument of power, those who wage war but do not know its reality, those powerful statesmen-the Henry Kissingers, Robert McNamaras, Donald Rumsfelds, the Dick Cheneys-those who treat war as part of the great game of nations, are as amoral as the religious stooges who assist them. And when the wars are over what they have to say to us in their thick memoirs about war is also hollow, vacant and useless.

“In theological terms, war is sin,” writes Mahedy. “This has nothing to do with whether a particular war is justified or whether isolated incidents in a soldier’s war were right or wrong. The point is that war as a human enterprise is a matter of sin. It is a form of hatred for one’s fellow human beings. It produces alienation from others and nihilism, and it ultimately represents a turning away from God.”

The young soldiers and Marines do not plan or organize the war. They do not seek to justify it or explain its causes. They are taught to believe. The symbols of the nation and religion are interwoven. The will of God becomes the will of the nation. This trust is forever shattered for many in war. Soldiers in combat see the myth used to send them to war implode. They see that war is not clean or neat or noble, but venal and frightening. They see into war’s essence, which is death.

War is always about betrayal. It is about betrayal of the young by the old, of cynics by idealists, and of soldiers and Marines by politicians. Society’s institutions, including our religious institutions, which mold us into compliant citizens, are unmasked. This betrayal is so deep that many never find their way back to faith in the nation or in any god. They nurse a self-destructive anger and resentment, understandable and justified, but also crippling. Ask a combat veteran struggling to piece his or her life together about God and watch the raw vitriol and pain pour out. They have seen into the corrupt heart of America, into the emptiness of its most sacred institutions, into our staggering hypocrisy, and those of us who refuse to heed their words become complicit in the evil they denounce.

© 2009 TruthDig.com

Chris Hedges writes a regular column for Truthdig.com. Hedges graduated from Harvard Divinity School and was for nearly two decades a foreign correspondent for The New York Times. He is the author of many books, including: War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning, What Every Person Should Know About War, and American Fascists: The Christian Right and the War on America. His most recent book, Empire of Illusion: The End of Literacy and the Triumph of Spectacle, will be out in July, but is available for pre-order.

Christian Soldiers in Afghanistan

May 30, 2009

by Valerie Elverton Dixon | Sojourners.net, May 30, 2009

William Faulkner once said: “The past is not dead.  In fact, it’s not even past.”  We often think about time and history as a straight line leading from the past, running through the present, heading into the future. With this conceptualization, the past is past and gone.  However, there is another way to think about time.  Tree time.  When we cut down a tree, the rings of the stump are concentric circles of time. The first year exists at the center and each succeeding year surrounds it.

So it is with the meeting of Christianity and Islam on the battle fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.  The historical center of the present conflict is the history of the Crusades.  Many in the Muslim world consider the U.S. presence in Iraq and Afghanistan as another Crusade.  The Crusades were wars between Christians and Muslims, Christians and Pagans, Christians and Christians over four centuries.  It was a tragic time when armies of the state fought to promote a religious cause.  Crusaders travelled far from home as warriors and pilgrims, warriors and penitents, warriors as walls to stall the spread of Islam.  They won and lost battles.  They destroyed and plundered and raped. They were sometimes brutally massacred when the Muslims won on a particular day.

This historical core has not passed from the consciousness of some observers.  Enter the U.S. military.  The military is full of Christians.  Many of these men and women consider themselves as fundamentalist and evangelical.  An important part of their religious commitment is to witness to Jesus Christ as their personal Lord and savior and to win souls to Christ.  At the same time, the U.S. military has a strict rule against proselytizing.  And so the warriors must walk a fine line between obligations to faith and country.

However, in my opinion, at least one soldier has been unfairly characterized in this discussion.  From what I can tell from the four minute video of a group of Christian soldiers in Afghanistan, army chaplain Captain Emmitt Furner gave them sound advice.  He reminded them of the army regulation and he reminded them that to witness to and for Jesus was more a walk than a talk. It is what we as Christians do that is important.  He said:  “You share the word in a smart manner: love, respect, consideration for their culture and their religion.  That’s what a Christian does is appreciation for other human beings.”  Another soldier in the group spoke of love and respect for the people they meet.

Some observers see Captain Furner’s advice as a sly way to spread the gospel, an element of a 21st century Crusade.  In my opinion, this interpretation is incorrect.  He gave his fellow soldiers the instruction to be living epistles that can be known and read by all (2 Corinthians 3:2).  It is an instruction that we who are not on the front lines in Afghanistan and in Iraq can use.

Dr. Valerie Elverton Dixon is an independent scholar who publishes lectures and essays at JustPeaceTheory.com. She received her Ph.D. in religion and society from Temple University and taught Christian ethics at United Theological Seminary and Andover Newton Theological School.


%d bloggers like this: