Archive for category War
In early December, Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, began saying that his military approach to ISIS would be “carpet bombing.” He said during a speech in Iowa on Dec. 5 that “we will utterly destroy ISIS. We will carpet bomb them into oblivion. I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”
Senator Cruz doubled down on his campaign rhetoric during this week’s CNN Tea-GOP presidential debate.
What makes this scary is the current mood of the Tea-GOP electorate, which is nothing if not utterly irrational and angry. Public Policy Polling found that “30% of Republican primary voters nationally say they support bombing Agrabah. Agrabah is the country from Aladdin.”
To be fair, 19 percent of Dems polled also supported an attack on the made-up Arabian nation from the 1992 animated film. We can’t mince words, you have to call this by its proper name: magic carpet bombing. Which is as good a term as any to describe the insane posturing that dominates the current political debate over national security issues.
Poll: 30 percent of Republicans want to bomb country from ‘Aladdin’
Poll: 30 percent of GOP voters support bombing any Arab sounding nation — even the fictional land of Aladdin
People Want To Bomb The Fictional Kingdom In ‘Aladdin,’ But Don’t Panic Yet
Worst National Security Advisor Ever
Politico provides even more evidence, some of which was left out of the 9/11 Commission’s report, that the Worst President Ever had the Worst National Security Advisor Ever. Not that we needed any more evidence.
By May of 2001, says Cofer Black, then chief of the CIA’s counterterrorism center, “it was very evident that we were going to be struck, we were gonna be struck hard and lots of Americans were going to die.”
…The drama of failed warnings began when Tenet and Black pitched a plan, in the spring of 2001, called “the Blue Sky paper” to Bush’s new national security team. It called for a covert CIA and military campaign to end the Al Qaeda threat—“getting into the Afghan sanctuary, launching a paramilitary operation, creating a bridge with Uzbekistan.” “And the word back,” says Tenet, “‘was ‘we’re not quite ready to consider this. We don’t want the clock to start ticking.’” (Translation: they did not want a paper trail to show that they’d been warned.)
…That morning of July 10, the head of the agency’s Al Qaeda unit, Richard Blee, burst into Black’s office. “And he says, ‘Chief, this is it. Roof’s fallen in,’” recounts Black. “The information that we had compiled was absolutely compelling. It was multiple-sourced. And it was sort of the last straw.” Black and his deputy rushed to the director’s office to brief Tenet. All agreed an urgent meeting at the White House was needed. Tenet picked up the white phone to Bush’s National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice. “I said, ‘Condi, I have to come see you,’” Tenet remembers. “It was one of the rare times in my seven years as director where I said, ‘I have to come see you. We’re comin’ right now. We have to get there.’”
Tenet vividly recalls the White House meeting with Rice and her team. (George W. Bush was on a trip to Boston.) “Rich [Blee] started by saying, ‘There will be significant terrorist attacks against the United States in the coming weeks or months. The attacks will be spectacular. They may be multiple. Al Qaeda’s intention is the destruction of the United States.’” [Condi said:] ‘What do you think we need to do?’ Black responded by slamming his fist on the table, and saying, ‘We need to go on a wartime footing now!’”
“What happened?” I ask Cofer Black. “Yeah. What did happen?” he replies. “To me it remains incomprehensible still. I mean, how is it that you could warn senior people so many times and nothing actually happened? It’s kind of like The Twilight Zone.”
Just as a reminder, several of the al-Qaeda operatives involved in the 9/11 terror plot were already in the USA. Their identities were known to the FBI. If the Bush administration had heeded the numerous warnings, could the pieces of the puzzle have come together before September 11, 2001?
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu returns to the White House next week, looking for more of our money. Israel currently gets $3.1 billion per year in U.S. military aid, which has been used to finance war crimes. After Afghanistan, Israel is already the largest recipient of U.S. foreign aid.
Now Netanyahu wants a new 10-year deal for $4.5 billion a year, which would be close to a 50 percent raise. The answer ought to be a resounding NO. The current Israeli government is adamantly opposed to U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East, they are meddling in American politics, and they are a strategic liability, so why are we paying them anything?
Netanyahu Is Bringing a $4.5 Billion-a-Year Arms Wish List to Obama
US only country to oppose UN holding Israel accountable for war crimes, yet again
Israel is supposedly the only democracy in the Middle East, yet 4.5 million Palestinians under its control can’t vote
Andrew Bacevich: On Building Armies (and Watching Them Fail)
First came Fallujah, then Mosul, and later Ramadi in Iraq. Now, there is Kunduz, a provincial capital in northern Afghanistan. In all four places, the same story has played out: in cities that newspaper reporters like to call “strategically important,” security forces trained and equipped by the U.S. military at great expense simply folded, abandoning their posts (and much of their U.S.-supplied weaponry) without even mounting serious resistance. Called upon to fight, they fled. In each case, the defending forces gave way before substantially outnumbered attackers, making the outcomes all the more ignominious.
“Vietnamization,” the U.S policy that ended in abject failure with the fall of Saigon in 1975, proved that training, weapons, and equipment can never make up for a deficit of will. Also, a weak state with dubious legitimacy can’t be propped up for very long by military force. Jump to the conclusion:
What are the policy implications of giving up the illusion that the Pentagon knows how to build foreign armies? The largest is this: subletting war no longer figures as a plausible alternative to waging it directly. So where U.S. interests require that fighting be done, like it or not, we’re going to have to do that fighting ourselves. By extension, in circumstances where U.S. forces are demonstrably incapable of winning or where Americans balk at any further expenditure of American blood — today in the Greater Middle East both of these conditions apply — then perhaps we shouldn’t be there.
Bacevich doesn’t address the fiasco of the so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels, armed and trained by the U.S., who promptly surrendered and turned over all their equipment to al-Qaeda. The Pentagon recently announced the end of that misbegotten military aid effort (which was probably undertaken solely to make Senator John McCain happy, as if).
The U.S. government has been accused of bombing a large hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan, early in the morning of October 3rd. After an initial statement that the aerial bombardment was “collateral damage” from a nearby strike, new information has emerged that suggests the hospital was the intended target. At least 23 people died, including 13 staff members and 10 patients, three of whom were children.
Hospitals are generally immune from attack under the Geneva Conventions and the Law of Land Warfare. Doctors Without Borders, referred to internationally in French as Medecins Sans Frontières (MSF), stressed that it had “communicated the precise locations of its facilities to all parties on multiple occasions over the past months” and yet, despite this, the NATO bombing of the hospital continued for over 30 minutes, even after MSF “frantically phoned” Washington.
The MSF accusations appear to have been confirmed in a Washington Post article that quoted Hamdullah Danishi, the acting governor of Kunduz Province, and Fawzia Koofi, an Afghan member of parliament. Both men suggested that the hospital was deliberately targeted because of the alleged presence of Taliban fighters. MSF denies that the Taliban were ever on the hospital grounds.
The top U.S. commander in Afghanistan, Gen. John F. Campbell, says that an AC-130 gunship fired on the hospital by mistake.
“To be clear, the decision to provide (airstrikes) was a U.S. decision, made within the U.S. chain of command,” Campbell said. “The hospital was mistakenly struck. We would never intentionally target a protected medical facility.”
Appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee, Campbell said he could not provide more details about what happened, including who may have failed to follow procedures for avoiding attacks on hospitals. He said he must await the outcome of multiple investigations.
INSIDE THE MSF HOSPITAL IN KUNDUZ
An exclusive first look at the horrific aftermath of the U.S. attack in northern Afghanistan.
Re-taking Kunduz, a former Taliban stronghold in northeastern Afghanistan, has been a strategic objective of the insurgents for a long time. The fall of the city counts as the biggest Taliban victory since 2001.
Kabul, Afghanistan (CNN) — Afghan security forces started retaking parts of Kunduz from the Taliban, officials said, one day after the key city had largely fallen in a major victory for the insurgents.
“A big military operation to clear all Kunduz city is about to start,” Interior Ministry spokesman Sediq Sediqqi said Tuesday.
U.S. forces joined in the military action, launching an airstrike in Kunduz on Tuesday, said Brian Tribus, spokesman for U.S. forces in Afghanistan.
The Kunduz prison, a police compound and the neighborhood of Zir Dawra are among the areas Afghan forces have secured, Sediqqi said.
A day earlier, Sediqqi said Kunduz had largely fallen into “the hand of enemies.” Kunduz is the largest city to be overrun by the Taliban since 2001.
Sayed Sarwar Hussaini, a spokesman for the Kunduz police chief, said Taliban insurgents seized the main roundabout in the city and made it to the prison, where they freed more than 500 inmates.
Coalition Forces Engage Insurgents In Combat Near Kunduz
U.S. Airstrikes Back Afghan Security Forces’ Efforts To Retake City From Taliban
Taliban emir seeks to reassure residents of Kunduz
Taliban Withdraws From Kunduz As Clashes Intensify
Seriously? As a senator, Hillary Clinton voted to authorize George W. Bush’s war of aggression against Iraq, an ill-fated invasion and occupation halfway around the word that led to enormous loss of life and ongoing chaos in the Middle East, and mind-boggling deficits at home.
Now she says: “I will not hesitate to take military action if Iran attempts to obtain a nuclear weapon.”
In other words, Hillary has learned nothing about what constitutes an illegal war of aggression. Fortunately for all concerned, Iran does not have a nuclear weapons program and their theocratic government regards nuclear, biological, and chemical weapons as un-Islamic. It’s an empty threat.
We can’t help wondering if Hillary thinks that the first woman president needs to take America to war again just to prove she’s a tough commander-in-chief – and never mind the consequences.
Amanda Marcotte suggests the loud Tea-GOP freakout over peace with Iran is mostly if not entirely about political calculation for 2016.
[P]ainting Hillary Clinton as some kind of weak-willed surrender monkey, mostly by dropping the word “Benghazi” a lot, is clearly going to be the centerpiece of the anti-Clinton strategy.
This may explain, but certainly doesn’t excuse, Hillary doubling down on her hawkish foreign policy views.
I stole the title above from H.A. Goodman because I couldn’t come up with a better one. There is an enthusiasm gap among Democratic primary voters, and Senator Bernie Sanders is way ahead. Polls now confirm this.
From Goodman’s latest post on HuffPo:
Polls once extolling Hillary Clinton’s enormous lead over Sanders are now dwindling for the same reason Sanders beats Republicans in various other polls: Americans have had enough of dynasties, scandals, wars, and Wall Street corruption.
…[M]ore and more Americans have had enough with a two-party system that doesn’t give people a choice.
Bernie Sanders is the only candidate with practical ideas about what he would do to reverse the trend of increasing inequality in America.
Bernie Sanders knew in 2002 that invading Iraq would be a terrible mistake with horrible consequences. He voted not to authorize the use of military force, unlike then-Senator Clinton and then-Senator Biden.
Also too, voters don’t trust Hillary Clinton.
Looks like the campaign dirty tricks are starting now…
Black Lives Matter Seattle Protestor Is A Former Tea Party Palin Supporter
Bernie Sanders rally crasher Marissa “Johnson” Jenae is a Republican
How could two people take over the stage and preempt Bernie’s speech in Seattle? Now he’ll have to get some security and his events won’t be as friendly.
After the event was canceled the Democratic presidential candidate said in a statement, “I am disappointed that two people disrupted a rally attended by thousands at which I was invited to speak about fighting to protect Social Security and Medicare. I was especially disappointed because on criminal justice reform and the need to fight racism there is no other candidate for president who will fight harder than me.”
The so-called protest doesn’t even make sense. Why attack the one candidate who’s most committed to civil rights?
Audience of 12,000. No fake protesters.
#BlackLivesMatter activists believe that this type of behavior is inappropriate and counterproductive, and we will not support it.
Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is running for president as a super-hawk, but this is just ridiculous.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held its own hearing today on the international nuclear agreement with Iran, which regrettably went about as well as the other congressional hearings on the issue. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), a Republican presidential candidate and one of his party’s most unyielding hawks, got especially animated during an exchange with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter:
GRAHAM: Could we win a war with Iran? Who wins the war between us and Iran? Who wins? Do you have any doubt who wins?
CARTER: No, the….
GRAHAM: We win!
The senator seemed pleased with himself, though this doesn’t exactly help the Republican cause. For proponents of the agreement, the concern has long been that GOP lawmakers want to kill the diplomatic deal because they want a military confrontation with Iran. Republicans usually make a point to deny this, instead saying they prefer a “better” diplomatic solution.
Graham, however, is less subtle – his line of questioning suggested the United States would win a war, which makes war an appealing alternative.
Reminder: Iran is larger than Alaska, with a population of 80 million people. They have an active duty military numbering 545,000, with 1.8 million reservists.
By comparison, the entire U.S. Army consists of 475,000 soldiers. To say a war of aggression against Iran is a bad idea would be a massive understatement. Like Iraq, it’s halfway around the world. Unlike Iraq, they have the capability to defend their country – making Senator Graham’s proposed invasion very costly and bloody.
As usual Donald Trump says out loud what the rest of us are thinking: Trump: Graham a ‘total lightweight,’ couldn’t get a job in the private sector
The Badr Organization, an Iranian-backed Shiite militia in Iraq, is in possession of at least one US M1 Abrams tank. The Iraqi government has lost control of many of those lately, mostly to ISIS.
Season 1 of the FX series “Tyrant” was focused on some naive and ham-handed efforts to bring American-style democracy to the fictional Middle Eastern country of Abbudin, leading up to an attempted coup d’etat covertly backed by the U.S. embassy. The second season raises the stakes even higher.
As the newly installed President of Abbudin, Jamal Al-Fayeed (Ashraf Barhom) was by far the most interesting thing about the first season, even as the focus seemed to be on his estranged, Americanized and now-returned brother Bassam aka Barry (Adam Rayner). Well now, with Barry’s coup plans having failed, Jamal has sought new powers and new allies, which has put pedal the dictatorship metal – all of which makes for a better show.
Tyrant Jamal starts off this season by using chemical weapons to wipe out the local anti-government insurgency, but co-producers Gideon Raff and Howard Gordon have introduced a new threat, in the form of a certain extremist jihadist group based in… Raqqa, Syria and led by the shadowy Abu Omar. They call themselves “The Caliphate,” and their pickup trucks fly red flags, but these guys are just as bloodthirsty as ISIS.
It will be interesting to see how successful the American-supported Abbudin military will be in defending the regime. And whether the show can keep from getting bogged down in soap-opera sub-plots.
Peter Van Buren (Reuters), with emphasis added:
In 2011, making good on a campaign promise that helped land him in the White House, President Barack Obama closed out America’s eight-year war in Iraq. Disengaged, redeployed, packed up, departed.
Then America went back. In August 2014, Obama turned an emotional appeal to save the Yazidi people from Islamic State into a bombing campaign. A massive tap was turned and arms flowed into the region. The number of American soldiers in Iraq zoomed up to 3,100, quietly joined by some 6,300 civilian contractors. The reputed mission was training – or whipping the Iraqi Army into shape.
After another inglorious retreat of the Iraqi Army, this time in Ramadi, the Obama administration last week announced a change: America will send 450 more troops to establish a new base at al Taqaddum, Anbar Province.
It is clear the United States no longer believes the Iraqi Army exists. What is left of it is largely a politically correct distribution tool for American weapons, and a fiction for the media. America will instead work directly with three sectarian militias in their separate de facto states (current bases in America’s Iraqi archipelago include one in Sunni Anbar, another in Kurdish territory and three in Shi’ite-controlled areas). The hope is that the militias will divert their attention from one another long enough to focus on Islamic State. It is, of course, impossible; everyone in Iraq — except the Americans — knows Islamic State is a symptom of a broader civil war, not a stand-alone threat to anyone’s homeland.
…In Vietnam, Americans were caught between two sides of a civil war. Iraq has at least three but, once again, America sits in the center, used by all, trusted by none.
A year after ISIS captured Mosul, it seems there is no going back for the internally displaced people who fled the city. At this point there is no force that can re-take Iraq’s third-largest city.
More US troops to Iraq: How it will work
We’re now going to send “advisers” into combat. What could possibly go wrong?
It may be that the U.S. will opt for a strategy of containment versus ISIS, because if the Iraqi Army doesn’t exist then arguably neither does “Iraq” as a unified sovereign country – now or in the future. Maybe that’s the right strategy (Joe Biden suggested something like this in 2006), but it is weird that such a big decisions can be made without any serious public discussion.
ISIS would not exist were it not for the folly of the United States in invading — and breaking — Iraq in the first place; we created the vacuum that ISIS is now attempting to fill.
…For more than a decade and at very considerable expense, the United States has been attempting to create an Iraqi government that governs and an Iraqi army that fights; the results of those efforts speak for themselves: they have failed abysmally.
It’s a meme made famous by Bush administration officials who failed to do their jobs. Over and over again, following each Bush catastrophe from the 9/11 attacks to Hurricane Katrina to the 2008 collapse of the financial sector (causing a near depression), they told us, “no one could have predicted” what would happen.
Now we learn, via a newly declassified document from the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), that in 2012 intelligence analysts predicted the rise of ISIS and the founding of the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq. This would be a direct consequence of the intervention of U.S. allies and the U.S. itself in the Syrian civil war, according to the report.
Just like the 9/11 attacks, we saw it coming and did nothing to prevent it. At the very least, top government officials underestimated the ISIS threat to the region and to our own national security.