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Posts Tagged ‘war’

Obama’s Massive Power Struggle with the American War Machine

Even if Barack Obama is seriously betting on his exit strategy, the Pentagon wants infinite war.
September 24, 2010 |

As that self-appointed court stenographer Bob Woodward reveals in his latest court opus Obama’s Wars – conveniently leaked to the Washington Post and the New York Times – the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) is shelling out the moolah for its own, 3,000-assassin-plus Murder Inc to roam in AfPak. These paramilitary – brigade-size – outfits, “elite and well trained”, have been branded Counter-terrorist Pursuit Teams (CPT).

Much is being made in US corporate media that this shady CPT posse is able to “cross-over” to the tribal areas in Pakistani territory and, like in that famous Heineken ad campaign, reach the parts US intelligence are not able to reach. Aware Latin Americans – with a shrug – will see this as Bad Joke redux: the “Salvador option” is back. As much as these Afghan assassins have been flown to the US for training, the infamous School of the Americas in the 1970s and 1980s trained death squads of natives to kill their compatriots from Chile to El Salvador. The CIA not exactly excels on thinking outside the box.

Old Afghan hands will also be thrilled; this is a small-scale remix of the Afghan mujahideen fighting the anti-Soviet 1980s jihad. Everyone knows what happened afterwards to those bad asses Ronald Reagan called “freedom fighters”; they turned against the US. Maybe some enterprising CIA analysts should share a kebab with their old pal on a payroll, former Afghan prime minister Gulbuddin “bomb, bomb Kabul” Hekmatyar, an eternal mujahid today on Washington’s most wanted list.

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by Paul Woodward, War in ContextJuly 23, 2010

On September 11, 2001, America froze in shock and the shock was followed by a mix of fear, anger and bewilderment.

Yet for some, the first response was also the enduring response: a knowing dread that what followed would be far worse than what just happened; that America’s reaction would be wildly disproportionate and vastly more destructive than the events of that day.

Some of us had the luxury of holding that dispassionate wide-angle perspective from the comfort of distance — I lived on the West Coast at that time. But there were others who saw what was coming even while still breathing the dust from the collapsed Twin Towers. Tom Engelhardt was such an observer and has been chronicling the 9/11 fallout ever since.

Dan Froomkin reviews a distillation of those observations captured in Tom’s new book, The American Way of War; How Bush’s Wars Became Obama’s.

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Could “Success” in Afghanistan Be Worse Than Failure?

Success means that the fifth poorest country in the world and foremost narco state is ours for years to come.

July 12, 2011, Washington, D.C. — In triumphant testimony before a joint committee of Congress in which he was greeted on both sides of the aisle as a conquering hero, Gen. David Petraeus announced the withdrawal this month of the first 1,000 American troops from Afghanistan.  “This is the beginning of the pledge the president made to the American people to draw down the surge troops sent in since 2009,” he said, adding, “and yet let me emphasize, as I did when I took this job, that our commitment to the Afghan government and people is an enduring one.”

Last July, when Gen. Petraeus replaced the discredited Gen. Stanley McChrystal as Afghan war commander, he was hailed as an “American hero” by Senator John McCain, as “the most talented officer of his generation” by the New Yorker’s George Packer, and as “the nation’s premier warrior-diplomat” by Karen DeYoung and Craig Whitlock of the Washington Post — typical of the comments of both Republicans and Democrats, liberals and conservatives at the time. Petraeus then promised that the United States was in Afghanistan “to win.”

In the year since, the Taliban insurgency has been blunted and “a tipping point has been reached,” says a senior U.S. military official with the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan, who could speak only on the condition of anonymity, in keeping with the policy of his organization.  By every available measure — IEDs or roadside bombs, suicide attacks, Taliban assassinations of local officials, allied casualties, and Afghan civilian casualties — the intensity of the insurgency has weakened significantly.  The Afghan military and police, though not capable of taking the lead in the fighting in their own country, have been noticeably strengthened by American and NATO training missions.  President Hamid Karzai’s government, still considered weak and corrupt, has succeeded in putting an Afghan face on the war.

Democratic critics of Gen. Petraeus, and of President Obama’s surge strategy, were notably quiet this week as the general toured the capital’s power hotspots from John Podesta’s Center for American Progress to the American Enterprise Institute, while being feted as the hero of the moment and a potential presidential candidate in 2016.  As in 2007, when he was appointed to oversee George W. Bush’s surge in Iraq after the critics said it couldn’t be done, the impressive charts the general brought to his congressional testimony once again vividly indicated otherwise.  The situation in Afghanistan has undergone an Iraq-like change since the nadir of July 2010 when critics and proponents alike agreed that the nine-year-old war was foundering, the counterinsurgency strategy failing, and polling in the U.S. highlighted the war’s increasing unpopularity.

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Jeremy R. Hammond, Foreign Policy Journal, June 17, 2010

A Palestinian boy throws a stone at an Israeli  tank in the  occupied West Bank.

Myth #1 – Jews and Arabs have always been in conflict in the region.

Although Arabs were a majority in Palestine prior to the creation of the state of Israel, there had always been a Jewish population, as well. For the most part, Jewish Palestinians got along with their Arab neighbors. This began to change with the onset of the Zionist movement, because the Zionists rejected the right of the Palestinians to self-determination and wanted Palestine for their own, to create a “Jewish State” in a region where Arabs were the majority and owned most of the land.

For instance, after a series of riots in Jaffa in 1921 resulting in the deaths of 47 Jews and 48 Arabs, the occupying British held a commission of inquiry, which reported their finding that “there is no inherent anti-Semitism in the country, racial or religious.” Rather, Arab attacks on Jewish communities were the result of Arab fears about the stated goal of the Zionists to take over the land.

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Irish Sun, Friday 11th June, 2010

(IANS)

The toll in the US drone strike in Pakistan’s North Waziristan tribal area has risen to 15 while 10 were wounded in the incident Friday, media reports said.

The drone fired four missiles at a house in Datta Khel area, killing four people on the spot, Xinhua quoted a news channel as saying.

The injured were rushed to a hospital as 11 people succumbed to injuries later, the private Geo News channel reported, citing local sources. Several others were in critical condition.

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Mercenaries, Robot Planes and the CIA Produce Lethal Mix for Secret Afghan War

By Tom Engelhardt and Nick Turse, Tomdispatch.com. Posted January 11, 2010.

In Afghanistan, a militarized mix of CIA operatives and ex-military mercenaries as well as native recruits and robot aircraft is fighting a war in the shadows.

It was a Christmas and New Year’s from hell for American intelligence, that $75 billion labyrinth of at least 16 major agencies and a handful of minor ones.  As the old year was preparing to be rung out, so were our intelligence agencies, which managed not to connect every obvious clue to a (literally) seat-of-the-pants al-Qaeda operation.  It hardly mattered that the underwear bomber’s case — except for the placement of the bomb material — almost exactly, even outrageously, replicated the infamous, and equally inept, “shoe bomber” plot of eight years ago.

That would have been bad enough, but the New Year brought worse.  Army Major General Michael Flynn, U.S. and NATO forces deputy chief of staff for intelligence in Afghanistan, released a report in which he labeled military intelligence in the war zone — but by implication U.S. intelligence operatives generally — “clueless.”  They were, he wrote, “ignorant of local economics and landowners, hazy about who the powerbrokers are and how they might be influenced… and disengaged from people in the best position to find answers… Eight years into the war in Afghanistan, the U.S. intelligence community is only marginally relevant to the overall strategy.”

As if to prove the general’s point, Humam Khalil Abu-Mulal al-Balawi, a Jordanian doctor with a penchant for writing inspirational essays on jihadi websites and an “unproven asset” for the CIA, somehow entered a key Agency forward operating base in Afghanistan unsearched, supposedly with information on al-Qaeda’s leadership so crucial that a high-level CIA team was assembled to hear it and Washington was alerted.  He proved to be either a double or a triple agent and killed seven CIA operatives, one of whom was the base chief, by detonating a suicide vest bomb, while wounding yet more, including the Agency’s number-two operative in the country.  The first suicide bomber to penetrate a U.S. base in Afghanistan, he blew a hole in the CIA’s relatively small cadre of agents knowledgeable on al-Qaeda and the Taliban.

It was an intelligence disaster splayed all over the headlines: “Taliban bomber wrecks CIA’s shadowy war,”  “Killings Rock Afghan Strategy,”  “Suicide bomber who attacked CIA post was trusted informant from Jordan.”  It seemed to sum up the hapless nature of America’s intelligence operations as the CIA, with all the latest technology and every imaginable resource on hand, including the latest in Hellfire missile-armed drone aircraft, was out-thought and out-maneuvered by low-tech enemies.

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John Nichols, The Nation, Dec 28, 2009

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

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

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