Category Archives: U.S. Military

U.S. ‘Deep State’ Sold Out Counter-Terrorism to Keep Itself in Business

Gareth Porter writes for Middle East Eye:

New York Times columnist Tom Friedman outraged many readers when he wrote an opinion piece on 12 April calling on President Trump to “back off fighting territorial ISIS in Syria”. The reason he gave for that recommendation was not that US wars in the Middle East are inevitably self-defeating and endless, but that it would reduce the “pressure on Assad, Iran, Russia and Hezbollah”.

That suggestion that the US sell out its interest in counter-terrorism in the Middle East to gain some advantage in power competition with its adversaries was rightly attacked as cynical.

But, in fact, the national security bureaucracies of the US – which many have come to call the “Deep State” – have been selling out their interests in counter-terrorism in order to pursue various adventures in the region ever since George W Bush declared a “Global War on Terrorism” in late 2001.

The whole war on terrorism has been, in effect, a bait-and-switch operation from the beginning. The idea that US military operations were somehow going to make America safer after the 9/11 attacks was the bait. What has actually happened ever since then, however, is that senior officials at the Pentagon and the CIA have been sacrificing the interest of American people in weakening al-Qaeda in order to pursue their own institutional interests.

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Pictures Reveal Inside of Afghan Caves at ‘Mother of All Bombs’ Blast Site

The Telegraph reports:

Afghan soldier patrols the area where US forces dropped GBU-43 bomb for the first time against caves used by Islamic State Pictures have emerged of the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (Isil) tunnel network in Afghanistan which the US targeted with “the Mother of All Bombs”.

The US dropped the bomb – its largest explosive short of a nuclear weapon – on April 13 targeting what it said was a tunnel complex used by the jihadist group’s Afghan affiliate.

The GBU-43/B weighs 21,600lbs (9,797-kg) and was dropped from a cargo plane. It has the equivalent power of 11 tonnes of TNT explosives.

But Reuters photographs from the scene of the blast in Nangarhar province in eastern Afghanistan gave an ambiguous sense of the bomb’s power.

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The Most Dangerous Moment in U.S.-Russian Relations Since Cuban Missile Crisis

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Sheikh speaks with Stephen Cohen, professor emeritus of Russian studies and politics at New York University and Princeton University, about U.S.-Russia relations after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent visit to Moscow. They are also joined by British journalist and author Jonathan Steele, a former Moscow correspondent for The Guardian, to discuss U.S.-Russia relations in reference to the situation in Syria. (Democracy Now!)

Pundits Who Helped Sell NATO’s Destruction of Libya Push for Trump to Lead Syria Regime Change

Ben Norton writes for AlterNet:

Pundits across the U.S. are amplifying the calls for further military intervention in Syria, as the Trump administration indicates regime change may be back on the agenda. The U.S. attacked the Syrian government on April 6, launching 59 Tomahawk missiles at a major air base, destroying 20 percent of its planes, according to the Pentagon.

Major media outlets, most politicians from both sides of the aisle and irascible war-hawk writers applauded the Trump administration’s strike with gusto. The uniformity with which the commentariat has embraced the attack hearkens back to six years ago, when many of these same people and publications cheered as NATO overthrew Libya’s government, plunging the oil-rich North African nation into chaos from which it is still reeling.

The 2011 war in Libya was justified in the name of supposed humanitarian intervention, but it was a war for regime change, plain and simple. A report released by the British House of Commons’ bipartisan Foreign Affairs Committee in 2016 acknowledged that the intervention was sold on lies — but by the time it was published, the damage was already done.

Today, Libya is in complete ruins. There is no functioning central authority for swaths of the country; multiple governments compete for control. The genocidal extremist group ISIS has, in Libya, carved out its largest so-called caliphate outside of Iraq and Syria.

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Bannon Down, Pentagon Up, Neocons In?

Jim Lobe writes for LobeLog:

170403-D-PB383-001The apparent and surprisingly abrupt demise in Steve Bannon’s influence offers a major potential opening for neoconservatives, many of whom opposed Trump’s election precisely because of his association with Bannon and the “America Firsters,” to return to power after so many years of being relegated to the sidelines. Bannon’s decline suggest that he no longer wields the kind of veto power that prevented the nomination of Elliott Abrams as deputy secretary of state. Moreover, the administration’s ongoing failure to fill key posts at the undersecretary, assistant secretary, and deputy assistant secretary levels across the government’s foreign-policy apparatus provides a veritable cornucopia of opportunities for aspiring neocons who didn’t express their opposition to the Trump campaign too loudly.

Ninety days into the administration, the military brass—whose interests and general worldview are well represented by National Security Advisor Gen. H.R. McMaster and Pentagon chief Gen. James Mattis (ret.), not to mention the various military veterans led by National Security Council (NSC) chief of staff Gen. Kenneth Kellogg (ret.) who are taking positions on the NSC—appears to be very much in the driver’s seat on key foreign policy issues, especially regarding the Greater Middle East. Their influence is evident not only in the attention they’ve paid to mending ties with NATO and northeast Asian allies, but also in the more forceful actions in the Greater Middle East of the past two weeks. These latter demonstrations of force seem designed above all to reassure Washington’s traditional allies in the region, who had worried most loudly about both Obama’s non-interventionism and Trump’s “America First” rhetoric, that the U.S. is not shy about exerting its military muscle.

Nor could it be lost on many observers that Bannon’s expulsion from the NSC took place immediately after Jared Kushner returned from his surprise visit to Iraq hosted by Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Joseph Dunford—reportedly the culmination of a calculated strategy of seduction by the Pentagon. Kushner has emerged as the chief conduit to Trump (aside, perhaps, from Ivanka). The timing of Bannon’s fall from grace—and Kushner’s reported role in it—was particularly remarkable given that Kushner and Bannon were allied in opposing McMaster’s effort to fire Ezra Cohen-Watnick from the NSC just a week before Kushner flew to Baghdad.)

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“Mother of All Bombs” Never Used Before Due to Civilian Casualty Concerns

Alex Emmons reports for The Intercept:

Fulfilling Donald Trump’s campaign promise to “bomb the shit” out of ISIS, the Pentagon dropped the “mother of all bombs” — one of its largest non-nuclear munitions — for the first time on Thursday, in Afghanistan. The 21,600 pound weapon was developed over a decade ago, but was never used due to concerns of possible massive civilian casualties.

The Pentagon said it used the weapon on an ISIS-affiliated group hiding in a tunnel complex in the Nangarhar province. The group, according to the Pentagon, is made up of former members of the Taliban.

The Massive Ordnance Air Blast Bomb (MOAB), nicknamed the “mother of all bombs,” has a mile-long blast radius.

When it first introduced the bomb, the Pentagon said it was designed to terrify America’s enemy into submission. “The goal is to have the capabilities of the coalition so clear and so obvious,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld said in 2003, “that there is an enormous disincentive for the Iraqi military to fight against the [invading] coalition.”

Thursday’s attack drew condemnation from Hamid Karzai, the U.S.-backed former president of Afghanistan. “This is not the war on terror,” he said, “but the inhuman and most brutal misuse of our country as testing ground for new and dangerous weapons.”

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‘Biggest Humanitarian Catastrophe Since 2003 Invasion’: Anand Gopal on Battle for Mosul

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Sheikh speak with Anand Gopal, a journalist and a fellow at The Nation Institute, who recently returned from the Middle East and has reported extensively from the region. (Democracy Now!)

Donald Trump Has Raised His Approval Ratings by Embracing His Inner Bomb

Annalisa Merelli reports for Quartz:

In this April 6, 2017, photo, President Donald Trump walks from the podium after speaking at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Fla., Thursday, April 6, 2017, after the U.S. fired a barrage of cruise missiles into Syria. Trump’s White House, one perpetually plagued by infighting among aides jockeying for the president’s ear, has been sharply divided by a new rivalry, one pitting his powerful son-in-law with unfettered access to the president against the sharp-elbowed ideologue who fueled Trump’s populist campaign rhetoric. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)Since before he became president on Jan. 20, Donald Trump’s approval ratings have been low, to say the least: Trump has consistently registered lower than any president in recent history, even when comparing his performance with predecessors dealing with especially difficult circumstances (the Great Recession, for instance).

As of April 18,—88 days into his term—Trump’s approval rating is 39% according to the Marist Poll, 41% per Gallup, and 40% per a CBS News poll. Low as these numbers may be, there are good news for the president, significantly up from the end of March, when at 35% according to Gallup, Trump had its worst rating ever.

The trend has flipped upward for Trump. And it’s not because his record on keeping electoral promises has significantly improved. No, something else looks to be the cause of his increase in popularity—war, or the threat of it.

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North Korea Says Syria Airstrikes Prove Its Nukes Justified

The Associated Press reports:

TV screen broadcasting a news report on North Korea's long range rocket launch on February 7, 2016.North Korea has vowed to bolster its defenses to protect itself against airstrikes like the ones President Donald Trump ordered against an air base in Syria.

The North called the airstrikes “absolutely unpardonable” and said they prove its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington’s “evermore reckless moves for a war.”

The comments were made by a Foreign Ministry official and carried Sunday by North Korea’s state-run Korean Central News Agency. The report did not name the official, which is common in KCNA reports.

The airstrikes, announced shortly after Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping wrapped up dinner at a two-day summit in Florida last week, were retaliation against Syrian President Bashar Assad for a chemical weapons attack against civilians caught up in his country’s long civil war.

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When Humanitarianism Became Imperialism

Gregory Afinogenov writes for Jacobin:

In the 1980s Afghanistan, two world powers converged on each other, obliterating the national borders that stood in their way. The first was the Soviet state, bent on defending the precarious gains of a 1978 Communist coup d’état that it had actively tried to prevent. The second, caught in an even more painful paradox, was an uneasy alliance of foreign-funded jihadists, Western intelligence, and NGOs like Doctors Without Borders.

The way we remember the Afghan War today is as a kind of prologue. We care that the United States (along with, far more importantly, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia) helped fund jihadists because those insurgents would later turn against the United States, serving as the ultimate indictment of Reaganite Cold War politics. We care that the Soviet Union failed in Afghanistan because that failure foreshadowed the Afghan quagmire of today. We care about the Afghan War because it spawned Osama bin Laden.

Timothy Nunan’s new book, Humanitarian Invasion: Global Development in Cold War Afghanistan, shows how incomplete this retrospective, US-centric view is. Though he does not venture beyond the 1990s, his argument is essential for understanding the world of imperial warfare today.

Afghanistan did not create the Islamic State, but it did serve as the laboratory in which the destruction of Third World sovereignty came to be fitted with justifications rooted both in human rights and in regime security — the recipe for modern “humanitarian interventions.”

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No Peace In Syria Until Assad Ousted, Says Nikki Haley

The Guardian reports:

Image result for No Peace In Syria Until Assad Ousted, Says Nikki HaleyNikki Haley, the US ambassador to the UN, has said that she sees regime change in Syria as one of the Trump administration’s priorities in the country wracked by civil war.

Defeating Islamic State, pushing Iranian influence out of Syria, and the ousting of Syrian president Bashar al-Assad are priorities for Washington, Haley said in an interview on CNN’s State of the Union, which will air in full on Sunday.

“There’s not any sort of option where a political solution is going to happen with Assad at the head of the regime,” Haley said, while reiterating that defeating Isis was still the number one policy goal. “If you look at his actions, if you look at the situation, it’s going to be hard to see a government that’s peaceful and stable with Assad.”

“Regime change is something that we think is going to happen.”

The comments represented a departure from what Haley said before the United States hit a Syrian air base with 59 Tomahawk missiles on Thursday in retaliation for what it said was a chemical weapons attack by Assad’s forces on Syrian civilians.

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Chris Hedges: U.S. Media ‘Kneejerk Cheerleading’ After Syria Strike Nothing New

Anya Parampil speaks with award winning journalist Chris Hedges about the U.S. media’s selective use of facts to further their agenda. (RT America)

Five Top Papers Run 18 Opinion Pieces Praising Syria Strikes – Zero Are Critical

Adam Johnson writes for Fairness & Accuracy In Reporting:

NYT: On Syria Attack, Trump's Heart Came FirstFive major US newspapers—the New York Times, Washington Post, USA Today, Wall Street Journal and New York Daily News—offered no opinion space to anyone opposed to Donald Trump’s Thursday night airstrikes. By contrast, the five papers ran a total of 18 op-eds, columns or “news analysis” articles (dressed-up opinion pieces) that either praised the strikes or criticized them for not being harsh enough.

[…] Some, such as “The Riddle of Trump’s Syria Attack” (New York Times, 4/7/17) and “Was That Syria Attack Legal? Only Congress Can Say” (USA Today, 4/7/17) were value neutral—neither expressly in support of the attacks nor opposing them.

Cable news coverage was equally fawning. In the hours immediately following the attack, MSNBC had on a seemingly never-ending string of military brass and reporters who uncritically repeated the assertion the strikes were “proportional” and “limited.”  MSNBC didn’t give a platform to a single dissenting voice until four hours after the attacks began, when host Chris Hayes, according to his own account, had on two guests opposed to the airstrikes in the midnight slot.  MSNBC host Brian Williams got into a bit of hot water when he lovingly admired a slick video sent over by the Pentagon showing tomahawk missiles being fired from US navy vessels (FAIR.org, 4/7/17).

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Trump’s Syria Strike Is Latest Sign of Steve Bannon’s Waning Influence

Gabriel Sherman reports for New York Magazine:

ImageDonald Trump’s surprise decision to launch missile strikes against Syrian president Bashar al-Assad’s forces in response to Tuesday’s horrific chemical attack represented a reversal from Trump’s noninterventionist campaign message. It’s also the most recent sign of the declining power of his chief strategist Stephen Bannon. Two sources close to Bannon told me the former Breitbart executive chairman argued against the strike — not because of its questionable constitutionality, but on the grounds that it doesn’t advance Trump’s America First doctrine. “Steve doesn’t think we belong there,” one Bannon ally told me. Bannon’s position lost out to those inside the White House, including Jared Kushner, who argued Trump needed to punish the Assad regime.

The debate over Syria is the latest fault line that has opened up in the once close Bannon-Kushner relationship. “During the campaign and transition, they had an almost uncle-nephew thing going,” one Bannon associate said. But in recent weeks, Kushner and Bannon have clashed over the direction of Trump’s agenda. While the press has covered it as a personality feud, Bannon allies say the rift is about policy differences. “The press is calling it fighting, we call it debating,” Bannon told an associate, according to a source. On a board in his West Wing office, Bannon keeps a list of promises Trump made to populist voters. Kushner, whose portfolio has ballooned in recent weeks, seems much less interested in keeping those promises.

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The Spoils of War: Trump Lavished With Media and Bipartisan Praise For Bombing Syria

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

In every type of government, nothing unites people behind the leader more quickly, reflexively or reliably than war. Donald Trump now sees how true that is, as the same establishment leaders in U.S. politics and media who have spent months denouncing him as a mentally unstable and inept authoritarian and unprecedented threat to democracy are standing and applauding him as he launches bombs at Syrian government targets.

Trump, on Thursday night, ordered an attack that the Pentagon said included the launching of 59 Tomahawk missiles which “targeted aircraft, hardened aircraft shelters, petroleum and logistical storage, ammunition supply bunkers, air defense systems, and radars.” The governor of Homs, the Syrian province where the attack occurred, said early this morning that the bombs killed seven civilians and wounded nine.

The Pentagon’s statement said the attack was “in retaliation for the regime of Bashar Assad using nerve agents to attack his own people.” Both Syria and Russia vehemently deny that the Syrian military used chemical weapons.

When asked about this yesterday by the Globe and Mail’s Joanna Slater, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau urged an investigation to determine what actually happened before any action was contemplated, citing what he called “continuing questions about who is responsible”.

But U.S. war fever waits for nothing. Once the tidal wave of American war frenzy is unleashed, questioning the casus belli is impermissible. Wanting conclusive evidence before bombing commences is vilified as sympathy with and support for the foreign villain (the same way that asking for evidence of claims against Russia instantly converts one into a “Kremlin agent” or “stooge”).

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Lawrence Wilkerson: Trump Attack on Syria Driven by Domestic Politics

Paul Jay speaks with former Chief of Staff to Colin Powell, Colonel Lawrence Wilkerson, who says that the Syrian Government may not be responsible for the chemical attack and that Trump’s response was a violation of international law. (The Real News)

The Cold War Officially Gets Renewed For a Second Season

Matt Novak writes for Gizmodo:

The US military launched a missile attack on a Syrian airbase last night, and the President of the United States announced it by uncharacteristically invoking God three times in his three-minute speech. The baby known as Cold War II was conceived long ago. But last night, President Trump helped give birth. Congratulations! It’s a war!

There are a lot of things I don’t know. I don’t know how Trump personally feels about Russia; I don’t know what the US will do now that it launched 59 Tomahawk missiles against the Assad regime in Syria; I don’t know if a hypothetical President Hillary Clinton would’ve done things any differently. But I feel pretty confident that I know one thing: The history books will mark 2017 as the official start of the Second Cold War.

Now, this isn’t altogether fair to the concept of the Cold War. As I’ve argued before, the Cold War never really ended, it just got a bit colder during the past two decades. But history books demand dates. These books need coherent stories with a beginning, middle, and an end. They need characters, big and small—some good, others bad. These history books need valor and cowardice and heartbreak and redemption and money and piles of dead bodies. So many dead bodies.

And with all of that, it looks like 2017 is going to be our mark for the beginning of Cold War II.

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Use Latest Tragedy In Syria to End the War, Not Escalate It

Ann Wright and Medea Benjamin write for CounterPunch:

Image result for Use Latest Tragedy In Syria to End the War, Not Escalate It[…] This recent chemical attack is just the latest in a war that has taken the lives of over 400,000 Syrians. If the Trump administration decides to escalate US military involvement by bombing the Syrian government’s power centers of Damascus and Aleppo and pushing rebel fighters to hold territory for a new government, the carnage—and chaos—will increase.

Just look at recent U.S. experience in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya. In Afghanistan after the fall of the Taliban, various militia factions that the U.S. government had supported raced to Kabul for control of the capital and their fight for power in successive corrupt governments has led to the violence that continues 15 years later. In Iraq, the Project for the New American Century (PNAC) government-in-exile, led by Ahmed Chalabi, disintegrated and the U.S.-appointed Pro-Consul Paul Bremer so mismanaged the country that it provided the opportunity for ISIS to fester in American-operated prisons and develop plans to form its caliphate in Iraq and Syria. In Libya, the U.S./NATO bombing campaign “to protect Libyans” from Qaddafi resulted in a country split in three parts.

Would U.S. bombing in Syria lead us into a direct confrontation with Russia? And if the U.S. was successful in toppling Assad, who among the dozens of rebel groups would take his place and would they really be able to stabilize the country?

Instead of more bombing, the Trump administration should pressure the Russian government to support a UN investigation into the chemical attack and take bold steps to seek a resolution of this dreadful conflict. In 2013, the Russian government said it would bring President Assad to the negotiating table. That offer was ignored by the Obama administration, which felt it was still possible for rebels it supported to overthrow the Assad government. That was before the Russians came to the rescue of its ally Assad. Now is the time for President Trump to use his “Russia connection” to broker a negotiated solution.

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If Trump Wanted To Help Syrians, He Would Lift Refugee Ban and Fund Humanitarian Aid

Amy Goodman is joined by Alia Malek, journalist and former human rights lawyer, Yazan al-Saadi, a Syrian-Canadian writer, Medea Benjamin, cofounder of CodePink, and Phyllis Bennis, fellow at the Institute for Policy Studies, to discuss Syria after the United States carried out a missile attack on a Syrian airfield, saying it was a response to a chemical weapons attack that killed 86 people. (Democracy Now!)

This Isn’t the Foreign Policy Trump Campaigned On

Robert W. Merry writes for The American Conservative:

It may be too early to tell for sure, but Donald Trump is looking more and more like a phony. He’s also looking like a weakling. And a political ingrate. All this is coming into stark relief with accelerating events involving Syria. The United States launched dozens of missiles against Syrian military installations to retaliate for the chemical attack on rebel-held territory. Thus did Trump demonstrate that, to the extent that his foreign policy differs from that of his predecessor, it is more aggressive and adventuresome than Obama’s. That’s the opposite of how he campaigned.

So let’s start with the crucial civic adhesive of political gratitude. This is the virtue that impels politicians to give special consideration to the people who put them in office. That can generate anger and frustration on the part of people on the other side of the major issues in play, but those people have to accept that they were on the losing side. The winning side sets the agenda, based on the political conversation of the last campaign. That’s how democratic politics works.

Thinking back to the political conversation of the last campaign, we recall that Trump attacked the Iraq War as a mindless foreign adventure with bitter and ongoing consequences, including ongoing Mideast chaos. He said he certainly wouldn’t make the same mistake in Syria and that joining the struggle against Syrian President Bashar al-Assad would put the United States on the side of the Islamic State and other terrorist organizations in the region. He said that, if Assad were deposed, the country likely would fall to unsavory elements that hate the West—in other words, some of our worst enemies. He touted his oft-expressed desire to develop better relations with Russia, an Assad ally, and said he would work with Russia toward an end to the horrendous Syrian bloodshed.

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Will Washington’s Hawks Get the Syria War They’ve Always Wanted?

Ted Galen Carpenter writes for The National Interest:

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s comment that it must be up to the Syrian people to determine whether beleaguered President Bashar al-Assad stays in power signaled a significant change in Washington’s Syria policy. The Obama administration had consistently maintained that no settlement of the Syrian civil war was possible if Assad remained in power. Only the timing of his departure was deemed a pertinent issue for negotiation—and Obama’s foreign-policy team made even that concession grudgingly.

The apparent shift in policy has triggered outraged responses from the usual flock of hawks in the United States. Their fury intensified when just days after Tillerson’s comment, another chemical attack took place in Syria, killing dozens of civilians. As with the Sarin gas attack in 2013, Western officials and news media were quick to put the blame at the feet of Assad’s government. They did so even though the actual source of the 2013 attack remains uncertain, and even though some evidence pointed to a “false flag” operation by Islamist rebels with the covert assistance of Turkey’s government.

American hawks who demonize Assad exhibited no uncertainty about the perpetrator of either incident. Sen. John McCain railed against the Syrian dictator. “As we once again bear witness to innocent people writhing on the ground and gasping for breath, we know Assad not only disregarded his chemical weapons commitments, but continues to carry on mass atrocities with impunity,” McCain said in a statement. “Unless and until Assad pays a price for his brutality, the slaughter and destruction in Syria will go on.” Instead of backing off on demanding Assad’s ouster, the Trump administration must “take action to address this strategic and humanitarian disaster, which has led to more than 400,000 Syrians killed and six million displaced,” McCain said. Sen. Marco Rubio asserted that it “was no coincidence” that the gas attack took place right after Secretary Tillerson and other administration officials indicated a softened policy toward Assad.

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Khan Sheikhoun Gas Attack: We Don’t Need Conspiracies to Oppose U.S. War in Syria

Joshua Frank writes for CounterPunch:

Photo by Beshr Abdulhadi | CC BY 2.0It was a false flag! Al Qaeda did it! Why would Assad use chemical weapons when he’s winning the war? It had to be those evil terrorists.

These are the petty cries by some on the conspiracy-minded left with regard to this week’s barbaric chemical attack in the rebel-held town of Khan Sheikhoun, which took the lives of at least 74 and injured another 350.

Of course the United States lays all the blame for the attack at the feet of President Bashar al-Assad, who has been implicated in many war crimes over the years. And unsurprisingly, the Russians, Assad’s chief allies, have countered, claiming the Syrians bombed a toxic weapons depot that unleashed the deadly nerve agent. So, in the end, according to Russia, these civilians were simply collateral damage in the War on Terror™ – an endless war, mind you, that the left once opposed.

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Trump Discussing Options for Attacking Syria

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

Image result for Options for Attacking SyriaPresident Trump’s campaign stance, moving away from the  US trying to impose regime change on Syria, appears to have been totally abandoned at this point, with reports that he has informed some members of Congress that he is considering a military attack on Syria.

Trump is said to be discussing the different options on such an attack with Secretary of Defense James Mattis, and that he is likely to rely on Mattis’ judgement on the matter. Officials say the Pentagon has had such plans ready to go for quite some time.

The shift in Trump Administration policy is publicly being justified by a bombing attack in northwest Syria Tuesday, allegedly a chemical weapons attack. President Trump insists Syria has “crossed many lines,” and is insisting that his position on Syria has changed, adding that “I now have responsibility when it comes to Syria.”

US, British, and French diplomats are once again pushing for UN action against Syria now, though a Russian veto at the Security Council is assured, with Russian officials saying the resolution is based on “fake information.” US officials are already looking beyond the UN and threatening unilateral action.

 

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Why Is Trump Embracing Establishment GOP Foreign Policy?

Daniel McCarthy writes for The National Interest:

[…] These developments may all be unrelated, but their net effect is to reassert the Washington foreign-policy consensus over what had, until now, appeared to be a fundamental shift in national-security strategy. Trump came into office with the prospect of thawing relations with Moscow, over the objections of Russia hawks in media and think-tank world. Trump set a new course in the Middle East as well, prioritizing the defeat of ISIS, in place of Obama’s strategy of attempting to undermine Assad and ISIS at the same time. Countering radical Islamism by destroying ISIS and clamping down on immigration from hot spots of extremism was a distinctly different strategy from the one pursued by Obama or the one advocated by neoconservatives and humanitarian interventionists. To change U.S. policy so profoundly, the Trump administration had to weather political attacks from the mainstream media, Democrats, Republican hawks, and much of the national-security establishment.

Bannon appeared to be a key player in this struggle, as the architect of immigration restriction and the chief ideologist of “America First.” Recent weeks, however, have been marked by setbacks on every front of the ideological fight. Immigration restrictions have been frustrated by the courts, while rapprochement was Russia has been politically complicated by investigations into whether Trump campaign officials last year had improper dealings with Russian officials. In domestic matters, the administration found itself in a difficult position over repealing and replacing Obamacare: to many conservative activist organizations, the White House seemed to be on the side of the Republican establishment in pushing an unsatisfactory bill, which was ultimately withdrawn when it failed to garner enough support in the House from moderates or conservatives.

Each setback creates a new opening for Trump’s opponents to press the attack. They are aided by the presence in Trump’s administration of Republicans who, though they may serve the president, fundamentally agree with the old way of doing things and would like to see the president renew the Washington consensus rather than overthrow it. There are grave dangers in this direction, however. George W. Bush and Barack Obama both failed to advance American security by following the standard Washington playbook. Each was a disaster in foreign policy. President Trump is not in a position to improve on their performance with the same strategy—for one thing, he does not enjoy the popular support that Bush and Obama did, and what support he does have comes from voters who want America’s economic interests and cultural cohesion to rank first on the president’s agenda. For Donald Trump to pursue policies that might have come from Hillary Clinton or Jeb Bush would be catastrophic both strategically and politically. Yet the pressure on Trump to conform will continue to grow.

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Trump Expands U.S. Military Role in Saudi War as Yemenis Brace for Famine

Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh speak with Iona Craig, a journalist who was based in Sana’a from 2010 to 2015 as the Yemen correspondent for The Times of London. (Democracy Now!)

U.S. Air Force Preparing for War in Space

Oriana Pawlyk reports for Military.com:

An artist's rendering of Advanced Extremely High Frequency satellite. AEHF-1 launched Aug. 14, 2010 and reached its operational geosynchronous earth orbit Oct. 24, 2011. (Courtesy photo Space and Missile Systems Center)The U.S. Air Force is preparing airmen for a future in which war is waged in space, with training on hardening satellites against anti-jamming technology to protecting spacecraft from incoming missiles.

The goal is to train the service members to combat new and evolving threats against the service’s “vulnerable” space infrastructure, much of which dates to the Cold War, an official said.

The 527th Space Aggressor Squadron at Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, is tasked with training service members to fight in a contested space environment. Historically, that has meant jamming Global Positioning System and satellite communications signals, making it so troops can’t access the space assets they rely upon and forcing them to think of alternatives.

“There really is no such thing as a space war — it’s just war,” said Lt. Col. Kyle Pumroy, chief of Space Force Structure Plans for the Space and Cyberspace Superiority Division of the Air Force’s Directorate of Strategic Plans. Military.com sat down with Pumroy at the Pentagon before he was awarded the General Bernard Schriever Award by the National Space Club last month for his service and enhanced training techniques while leading the space aggressors in 2016.

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The Odds Against Antiwar Warriors

Andrew J. Bacevich reviews War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914–1918 by Michael Kazin for The American Conservative:

Image result for War Against War: The American Fight for Peace 1914–1918slog, but not without rewards: that’s what best describes this account of Americans who opposed U.S. participation in the European War of 1914–1918. While Michael Kazin, a historian of progressive bent who teaches at Georgetown University, tells an important story, his book suffers from a want of zip. The narrative meanders. The prose lacks sparkle. Still, for the patient reader, War Against War offers much to reflect upon.

Kazin’s subject is what he calls “the largest, most diverse, and most sophisticated peace coalition” to that point in all U.S. history. Not until the Vietnam War a half-century later would there be an antiwar movement “as large, as influential, and as tactically adroit.”

Perhaps so, but the American peace coalition that flourished a century ago failed abysmally. It succeeded neither in keeping the country out of the war nor in insulating the home front from war’s corrosive effects once the U.S. eventually intervened.

In what was not even remotely a contest of equals, the forces favoring war proved overwhelming. An approach to “neutrality” that mortgaged American prosperity to Anglo-French victory fostered decidedly unneutral attitudes on Wall Street and in Washington. Ultimately, however, arguments for staying out of war fell prey to vast ideological pretensions. As the stalemate on the Western Front dragged on, more and more Americans succumbed to the conviction that Providence was summoning the United States to save Civilization itself. Foremost among those Americans was President Woodrow Wilson.

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Aiding Saudi Arabia’s Slaughter in Yemen

Gareth Porter recently to Dennis J Bernstein of Consortium News:

Saudi Arabia continues to escalate its war against Yemen, relying on the strong support of the U.S. government even as the poverty-stricken Yemenis are pushed toward starvation, according to investigative reporter/historian Gareth Porter.

Porter says the U.S. corporate press has failed to report the Saudi slaughter in a way in which it could be fully understood.

I spoke with Porter, an independent investigative journalist who wrote  Manufactured Crisis: The Untold Story of the Iran Nuclear Scare and whose articles on Yemen include “Justifying the Saudi Slaughter in Yemen.”

Dennis Bernstein: Is Saudi Arabia using starvation as a weapon of war against Yemen where there is mass hunger bordering on a famine? Gareth Porter has been writing extensively about this for Consortiumnews and other sources. I want to … begin with a bit of an overview because a lot of people don’t really understand the level of suffering, and the situation in Yemen. So, just give us a brief overview of what it’s like on the ground now. How bad is it? And then I want to talk to you about this new policy about starvation as a weapon.

Gareth Porter: Sure. Well, unfortunately the way this war in Yemen has been covered, thus far, with a few exceptions, of course, the public does have the impression that this is a war in which a few thousand Yemenis have been killed, and therefore, it’s kind of second to third tier, in terms of wars in the Middle East. Because people are aware that Syria is one in which hundreds of thousands of people have died. So, and I think that’s the frame that most people have on the conflict in Yemen.

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Obama’s Foreign Policy Was a Mess, Trump’s Is Even Worse

Michael Brendan Dougherty writes for The Week:

Image result for Obama's Foreign Policy Was a Mess, Trump's Is Even WorsePresident Trump is barely two months into his term, and already he’s on course to make the foreign policy mistakes of the Obama administration much, much worse. Instead of cutting American losses in unwinnable situations, moving toward retrenchment, and re-assessing America’s long war in the Middle East, the Trump administration seems to be taking bigger gambles in operations, loosening the rules of engagement for the military, and doubling down on conflicts that only have the most marginal relation to core U.S. interests.

It’s a bitter result for those who hoped that a candidate opposed by most foreign policy hawks would turn out to be a dove as president. But getting to a more peaceful and restrained foreign policy was always going to be a problem for Trump. As a candidate, Trump was always of two minds on foreign policy. Non-interventionists and other peaceniks hoped that Trump would lean toward his conviction that the United States has been fighting dumb wars for years, and that these wars resulted in gains for our enemies and enormous costs in blood and treasure for America.

But candidate Trump didn’t just criticize our leaders for their impulsiveness and stupidity. He also lambasted them as weaklings who followed politically correct rules and had lost the will to achieve victory. He said that’s he’d bring back worse than waterboarding, and that he wouldn’t rule out nuclear weapons. He would “knock the hell out of” the Islamic State, and we would win wars again.

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3,330 Killed in Iraq During March

Margaret Griffis reports for Antiwar:

Image result for iraq mapAt least 3,330 people were killed during March, and another 929 were wounded. These figures are a very conservative estimate of the casualties occurring in Iraq. The true figures could be hundreds or even thousands higher. The government has refused to give any honest figures; however, there is evidence that the numbers are being underreported.

According to news reports, at least 1,126 civilians, 104 security personnel, three Kurdistan Workers Party (P.K.K.) guerrillas, and 2,097 militants were killed during March. Another 798 civilians, 82 security personnel, and 49 militants were reported wounded. The figures add up to 3,330 killed and 929 wounded. During February, at least 2,748 people were killed and 1,224 were wounded in the conflict.

These estimates are unsurprisingly low, with the possible exception of Islamic State fatalities. Because there is little to no independent reporting from behind enemies, it is unclear if these figures are valid. The Iraqi government could be elevating the number of militant fatalities for propaganda purposes. Or, the numbers may be accurate, but the dead may include civilians, such as militant wives and children.

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