Archive for the 'middle east' Category

How far are we willing to go? (Updated)

August 28, 2013

OK, so there’s this:

There is a chorus of criticism over the pending action from those who argue that it will not resolve the conflict in Syria and fear that any action taken will lead to the kind of protracted on-the-ground involvement that has proved so costly and fruitless in Iraq and Afghanistan. These critiques are misguided. There is no reason why targeted and carefully proscribed, but nonetheless potent, air attacks could not effectively deliver a message to Assad that these abuses must stop. His air defenses can be targeted. His weapons stores can be targeted. Economic assets associated with his closest associates, upon which his regime depends, can be targeted. This last approach — targeting the financial backers and cutting off money stream — is what ultimately proved to tip the scales most effectively in the former Yugoslavia during the 1999 bombings known within NATO as Operation Allied Force. This was an example of successful but limited use of air power without ground support that advanced a specific goal — in that case, the withdrawal of Yugoslav forces from Kosovo. (Ironically, tellingly, the rationale President Bill Clinton’s administration gave for the bombing included the fear that failing to undertake it could be a disaster in Kosovo that could claim some 100,000 lives — the same total lost to date in Syria.)

So to be clear, we can bomb them and then they will know that we can bomb them. Some more. Agreed. That is what they will know. Also, Syria is not Yugoslavia. The Serbians didn’t have a defense system meant to counter the Israeli air force.

What is really breaking my brain right now is reading people I respect make the American Exceptionist case:

If it is true that the regime killed hundreds of civilians with nerve gas in a Damascus suburb last week — and Secretary of State John F. Kerry said Monday that the use of chemical weapons is “undeniable” — then Obama has no choice. Such use cannot be tolerated, and any government or group that employs chemical weapons must be made to suffer real consequences. Obama should uphold this principle by destroying some of Assad’s military assets with cruise missiles.

This is a case in which somebody has to be the world’s policeman.

Says who sir? You?

But, what if in being bombed, that is, they become desperate because, well, we just bombed them, and so in desperation they use that pile of chemical weapons we are told they have. I mean, why the hell not at that point?

How far are we willing to go? Once we drop bombs we are fully committed. As is stated above, anything can be targeted. Never mind that those targets include human beings, that collateral damage thing we occasionally hear about.

Where do we draw the red line on our own actions? If the civil war continues to worsen, we will be expected to escalate our response. We will already ‘be there’.

Once we jump into this we are in. Into a civil war that can more accurately be described as chaos. We would be bombing amongst other things targets that would weaken the capabilities of a regime on the side of Russia, China, Hezbollah and Iran, which would have the effect of allowing a highly fractured, and increasingly radicalized, rebel force to, um, suddenly shit a collective rainbow and get along?

I am starting to have flashbacks. I am pretty sure we went through this fairly recently. Has one person actually came out and said there is conclusive proof of these chemical attacks? Or who perpetuated them?

And let’s say they did happen, and the Assad regime committed these crimes. OK. Now what? We bomb, then maybe bomb again. The regime retreats to the coast, doing what ever it takes to get there. Possibly. Then what? Do we sit by and let more ethnic cleansing happen? You think it won’t?

Never mind the battles between rebel forces already happening, never mind that no one seems to know how to deal with the massive refugee issue that is surely to arise from our actions as they intensify. And they will.

Or that no matter what we do we will still be hated even more in the region. Somehow our actions will be used to recruit more terrorists.

Will Russia, China, Hezbollah, and Iran respond? In what ways? Again, how far are we willing to go? And for that matter what concessions are we willing to make to ensure they don’t?

If we do this, we have to acknowledge the fact that we may very well become bogged down, that we will be on the hook for more support, possibly ground troops regardless of what anyone says right now. We have to accept that we will have to help rebuild, and we haven’t proven successful in that endeavor as of late.

Or we don’t, and end up looking like dicks for blowing up their infrastructure, which anyone will need to rebuild.

So what’s our commitment? Drop a few bombs? Make a point? What point exactly? That we can?

Then what? I highly doubt Assad has any plans to surrender. So we are in this till when exactly? And if other countries decide to back him, what is our game plan? And most importantly, what imminent threat does all this pose to the US?

Well, that’s my peace. I would hope it doesn’t happen but I am tired of being disappointed.

Update – Here is a lot more background on the groups involved in Syria.

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Just a thought…

May 11, 2013

Still waiting for those hearings on the invasion of Iraq. Any day now…oh look, Benghazi, that’s a foreign sounding place. Close enough I guess.

McKiller (Updated)

October 6, 2009

Update – And he’s gone.

The Christian Science Monitor posted this article discussing whether or not currently serving military officers should or should not speak publicly about current operations if they might contradict the President. Well, I have always felt that your right to free speech doesn’t end when you don a uniform. In fact I think it’s quite the opposite; when it’s your butt that’s going to get shot at you have every right to speak up.

Wars are generally fought by the young for the benefit of the moneyed. Most young people I met in the army didn’t know a damn thing about the world beyond the farm they grew up on, or the inner city/suburb they grew up in. However, we are not talking about just anyone here. No, we are talking about General Stanley McChrystal.

General McChrystal is in charge of our forces in Afghanistan. Back in Iraq, you know, the war that is apparently over, he ran torture prisons and death squads. Now he wants to ramp up the Afghanistan occupation.

Just what we need. Because the Afghan people haven’t suffered enough. No, it would seem they need to be murdered and tortured much, much more. Ignoring that we shouldn’t be in Afghanistan at all, General McChystal is the wrong person to head anything other than a third world murder mill. He will escalate the occupation, further alienate the Afghan people, no doubt piss off Pakistan and Iran (he does love illegal cross border raids) and generally make a fucked situation worse.

We now have the moral equivalent of a serial killer in charge. Many on the right and in the media like to say General Betrayus’ “surge” worked. No, he just used McChrystal to assassinate everyone and anyone until there was was no one left to speak out.

To me it’s not a matter of whether or not General McChrystal should have spoken up, it’s that he is a fucking psycho who shouldn’t be listened to.

That place named Iran

October 2, 2009

Juan Cole, who continues to amaze me through his consistently, well, amazing analysis, has a great post up titled “Top Things you Think You Know about Iran that are not True“. Well worth the read. A couple of highlights:

Belief: But didn’t President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad threaten to ‘wipe Israel off the map?’

Reality: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad did quote Ayatollah Khomeini to the effect that “this Occupation regime over Jerusalem must vanish from the page of time” (in rezhim-e eshghalgar-i Qods bayad as safheh-e ruzgar mahv shavad). This was not a pledge to roll tanks and invade or to launch missiles, however. It is the expression of a hope that the regime will collapse, just as the Soviet Union did. It is not a threat to kill anyone at all.

Belief: The international community would not have put sanctions on Iran, and would not be so worried, if it were not a gathering nuclear threat.

Actuality: The centrifuge technology that Iran is using to enrich uranium is open-ended. In the old days, you could tell which countries might want a nuclear bomb by whether they were building light water reactors (unsuitable for bomb-making) or heavy-water reactors (could be used to make a bomb). But with centrifuges, once you can enrich to 5% to fuel a civilian reactor, you could theoretically feed the material back through many times and enrich to 90% for a bomb. However, as long as centrifuge plants are being actively inspected, they cannot be used to make a bomb. The two danger signals would be if Iran threw out the inspectors or if it found a way to create a secret facility. The latter task would be extremely difficult, however, as demonstrated by the CIA’s discovery of the Qom facility construction in 2006 from satellite photos. Nuclear installations, especially centrifuge ones, consume a great deal of water, construction materiel, and so forth, so that constructing one in secret is a tall order. In any case, you can’t attack and destroy a country because you have an intuition that they might be doing something illegal. You need some kind of proof. Moreover, Israel, Pakistan and India are all much worse citizens of the globe than Iran, since they refused to sign the NPT and then went for broke to get a bomb; and nothing at all has been done to any of them by the UNSC.

Speaking of that Green Revolution

October 1, 2009

In my last post I mentioned that imposing further sanctions on Iran would mean “more clamping down on democratic protesters”. I am not the only one who feels this way.

Former presidential candidate Mir Hossein Mousavi, Iran’s main political opposition leader, called Ahmadinejad’s foreign policy “wrong and adventurist” this week but came out against new sanctions, saying he worried that “deprived people” would pay the highest price.

“Sanctions would not affect the government but would impose many hardships upon the people, who suffer enough as a result of the calamity of their insane rulers,” Mousavi said in a statement.

Government critics and dissidents, dozens of whom are on trial on charges of fomenting unrest after Ahmadinejad’s disputed June 12 reelection, probably would come under more pressure if tougher sanctions were imposed, according to politicians and analysts on both sides.

“The government will say that critics of their policies are doing the foreigners’ bidding” and will use sanctions as a pretext to silence opponents, said Ali Shakouri-Rad, a leading member of the opposition Islamic Iran Participation Front.

So even the people risking their lives to run against Ahmadinejad can see that sanctions will only give the government an excuse to crack down on anyone who opposes the current regime. And only the average Iranian will suffer from sanctions as it becomes harder and harder to make a living and feed their families.

Kind of like what we did to Iraq for years. Saddam Hussein sure suffered in his many giant homes while we imposed sanctions on his country. Of course all those American companies buying oil through their European subsidiaries helped him live large, as they broke federal law in the process.

The article goes on to mention the possibility that sanctions will fuel unrest against Ahmadinejad’s rule. I disagree. It’s one thing to hate your dictator, it’s another thing entirely to have an outside entity, that has a history already of fucking up your country, try to force it’s will upon you. Something about him being an asshole but at least he’s our asshole.

Given how the US has helped overthrow a dictator in Iraq only to help impose a new one in the making, backed one in Pakistan in opposition to the will of the people until they finally threw him out themselves, our total support of countless dictators across the Middle East, and our help in installing one in Afghanistan; with all that, how could anyone think that any action against Iran will drive it’s people apart? We are to be feared by dictators (not friendly to our business interests) and democratic activists alike.

And as long as we openly and unequivocally support Israel’s constant aggression towards its neighbors and the Palestinians the Iranians would be insane to think we have their interests at heart. We blew that when George Bush called Iran part of the “Axis of Evil”. That little remark is what propelled Ahmadinejad into the presidency; before him Iran had a moderate president, one that was actively working with the US to defeat the Taliban in Afghanistan.

We are repeating the Iraq war build up with a whole one letter change. Iraq, minus a q, add an n, Iran. Wow, that was too easy.

I’ll leave it to the ever amazing Glenn Greenwald to define American imperialism. Read more of his site for further analysis of the Iran war build up hype.

Here we go again

September 28, 2009

Another war in the making. It’s like Iraq all over again. Sanctioning Iran will only further empower the Iranian government to become even more extreme. It’s a downward spiral. The more we threaten them, the more Tehran will say, “Look at what they are doing to our people, we have no choice but to defend ourselves.” That means more clamping down on democratic protesters, more money spent on the military, and as the average Iranian finds it harder to feed their family, fundamentalist religious views will spread.

We are told to believe that Iran is now really the threat we should all fear. Iraq? Yesterday’s news. Afghanistan? As long as it’s profitable for the military industrial complex we will still be told it’s the “good war”. But Iran offers up a whole new market for war profiteers to enrich themselves. After all, Iraq didn’t really put up any real resistance, and the Taliban never had large weapons systems to begin with. But Iran, now there’s a country that would cost quite a bit to invade.

What’s worse, the big players in the game are using Iran as a political tool. Look at the Russian’s response. Once we took the missile defense shield off the table, suddenly they see Iran as a problem. It was good for their politicians to resist us and use Iran as a pawn. Makes me wonder what other concessions our government made. No doubt there is a nice fat oil deal or two somewhere in all this for them.

And I’d bet Israel is busy buying up all the military hardware they can get their hands on in anticipation for a war with Iran. The Israeli government is doing the same thing Bush’s administration did; creating the need for more military spending by pumping fear into their people. When the masses are terrified, they have no problem giving into the notion that war will somehow save us all.

It’s sad really. Iran was once a democracy, but our government couldn’t live with the fact that they wouldn’t bow to western corporate profits. How dare they not let us steal their oil for our own gain. What bastards. And that is what this is really about, corporate profits.

Notice how North Korea isn’t on the “to invade” list right now? Oh sure, maybe to some neo-cons. But China would never agree to that, and the reality is that our country is so heavily dependent on loans from China that we wouldn’t dare piss them off. Never mind that China is now home to all our manufacturing base. No, China sells us too much crap to be made an enemy; too many US corporations are making a killing off their slave labor in Chinese factories filling Walmart’s shelves to want to butt heads with the communists.

But if we can convince enough people that war with Iran is a “good war”, then they will have no problem making corporations richer. Because that is what war is really all about; profit. Nothing pisses off the boardroom executives more than knowing that all that oil in Iran is not in their portfolios. The green revolution? Fuck em. It’s better to create an enemy that will require a larger defense budget than to admit we have no business telling other countries what they can do.

Funny how our insane levels of military spending never seem to get mentioned by the teabaggers. Of course not. A single payer health care system wouldn’t be as profitable for the corporate fatcats. We could insure every citizen and then some with much less than we spend building weapons of war. And it would help the average American a hell of a lot more than buying more jets, more bombs and more missiles. But it wouldn’t make the people that are already rich any richer.

There will always be a grave danger to our society as long as money can be made from war. There will always be a need for new weapons systems, bigger “defense” budgets and a further degrading of our constitutional rights. The cycle will never end because our government and the corporations are too in bed together. And our media is owned by the same people that profit from war (I’m looking at you GE). So don’t look to the evening news for the truth. (On a side note, how many of the teabaggers buy communist made product every day while decrying a fear of communism?)

Will we invade Iran? Personally I think we are being primed for an Israeli attack, one that this country will have no option but to support. This works for Israel because they will use it as an excuse to commit further crimes against the Palestinians in the hope that the Palestinians will rise up in response to bombs being dropped in Iran. Same goes for Lebanon and Syria.

And even if an invasion never happens just the threat of one demands an increase in military spending. We have to be prepared after all. And what a great way to change the subject. Torture? Look over here at Iran. Banks getting richer even as the economy crumbles? Iran wants nukes. Health care crisis? Fucking Iran is going to kill us all! Racism alive and well in America? You’re all going to die! Bomb Iran!

So we threaten, and they threaten, and we say we have no choice but war. After all we tried to be nice when we made it impossible for them to feed their families, when we used our might to make them desperate. We corner them, they react, we are justified. Sounds about right. And profitable too.

Oh for fucks sake

September 25, 2009

This is one of the many idiotic voices attempting to discuss our clusterfuck that is Afghanistan:

If the president turns off the spigot of American assistance in Afghanistan, he will pay a substantial price for it. He’ll be going back on his rhetoric about Afghanistan as the “good war,” a war of necessity. He will cast the withdrawal from Iraq in a different light, endow the jihadist with a public victory (which will only encourage future attacks), and make it more difficult to achieve positive change in Afghanistan as well as collect intelligence on terrorists. He may turn Hamid Karzai’s government into an adversary. He will diminish our ability to help Pakistan fight terrorists, and will likely make the U.S. less trusted in the world. But those prices will be less than the cost of sending young Americans to fight and die in a war the president is not committed to winning.

The military is doing its job in Afghanistan. It’s time the rest of the government does its job. We need to turn our attention to the failures of the nonmilitary parts of our strategy and bring them up to the standard at which our military is performing. Otherwise we will not be doing what is needed to win.

What this fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution and an associate professor at the United States Military Academy seems to not understand is that it is our military stance in the middle east that is the problem. The military doing its job? Just what would that job be exactly? Hey smart one, ever live under the constant fear of drone aircraft bombing your home? We have no business there to begin with. That IS the problem.

Karzai’s government is thoroughly corrupt. Make them an “advesary”? They just stole an election. Doesn’t that already make them an “adversary”? How the hell can a “nonmilitary” anything happen when the “government” of Afghanistan is just another dictatorship hiding behind democracy? Let’s just play your way and assume we should be there; Did it ever occur to you that President Obama is withholding funds until they can figure out how to deal with Karzai’s corruption?

And I doubt short of bombing Iran that we can make ourselves any less trusted in the world. Did you sleep through the last 8 years? The fact that we are in Iraq, in Afghanistan, and positioned in 700 other bases around the world makes it pretty damn hard to trust us. Never mind our unending support of Israel and it’s steady genocide against the Palestinians and saber-rattling at Iran.

Dumping more money into Afghanistan will fix nothing, regardless of whether it is military or nonmilitary spending. President Obama was wrong to call Afghanistan the “good war”. And you’re right, sending our soldiers to die in a war we are not committed to is a horrible thing. So bring them home! The reason we are not “committed” is because there is nothing to commit to.

You are missing the point oh smart one; We create terrorism by invading other countries, by propping up dictatorships and by torturing people in secret prisons. Bagram Airbase is the new Gitmo. Pakistan? Didn’t we back their last dictator? Why would they want to talk to us?

Fellow at Stanford huh. Stanford must not have very high standards.

Oh, and nice try using “or get out” in the title. You never mention that option once in your little rant.

More War, More Death, Oh Boy!

January 18, 2009

In two days we get a shiny new president to kick around. And he is all ready for it, so let’s get to work.

Our military is gearing up for a “surge” in Afghanistan. President-elect Obama said during the debates he wants more war there, and it looks like he is living up to his rhetoric:

A naval brigade is being diverted to Afghanistan to help prepare for the extra U.S. troops that will be sent to that country, a Pentagon spokesman announced Friday….

… Their change in orders was announced just days before President-elect Barack Obama takes office, and one month after Defense Secretary Robert Gates signed a deployment order to move an additional 3,000 troops to Afghanistan.

Military officials say those troops will be part of a combat aviation brigade, bringing helicopters to the region, and will go in late spring or early summer.

There are currently more than 30,000 U.S. troops in Afghanistan, but the U.S. commander there has requested more.

Gen. David McKiernan has requested at least 20,000 more troops be sent to fight resurgent Taliban forces, and Obama has said he would like to see more troops rotated into Afghanistan.

Hooray for the Afghan people. I’m sure this is what they want right about now, more war. Peace is for losers anyway. And let us not forget that Obama has stated he wants to increase the size of the military as a whole, which means a larger budget to support all those new troops, not to mention all their new equipment.

Of course his hands are tied even if he wanted to reduce the military budget, which I don’t think he does. Those bombs are made by middle class Americans, read jobs. Increasing the military would make more jobs or at least keep a lot of people employed.

Look at his response to the Gaza massacre, nothing. Will that change after Tuesday? Don’t hold your breath. Obama openly supported the destruction of Lebanon in 2006 on his campaign website. For those who see him as an anti-war president, your in for a shock.

I wrote not that long ago that I supported Obama because I thought he would make better decisions regarding the military. So far I am not impressed. I guess we will have to wait and see what happens after he is sworn in to truly know where Obama stands on military aggression. Campaign rhetoric is one thing, hat he does from here on out is what really matters.

If he has any sense he will get our troops out of the business of nation building. We are not very good at it:

Whatever the truth of the matter, in the long run, it’s not soldiers but services that count — electricity, water, food, health care, justice, and jobs. Had the U.S. delivered the promised services on time, while employing Afghans to rebuild their own country according to their own priorities and under the supervision of their own government — a mini-Marshall Plan — they would now be in charge of their own defense. The forces on the other side, which we loosely call the Taliban, would also have lost much of their grounds for complaint.

Instead, the Bush administration perpetrated a scam. It used the system it set up to dispense reconstruction aid to both the countries it “liberated,” Afghanistan and Iraq, to transfer American taxpayer dollars from the national treasury directly into the pockets of private war profiteers. Think of Halliburton, Bechtel, and Blackwater in Iraq; Louis Berger Group, Bearing Point, and DynCorp International in Afghanistan. They’re all in it together. So far, the Bush administration has bamboozled Americans about its shady aid program. Nobody talks about it. Yet the aid scam, which would be a scandal if it weren’t so profitable for so many, explains far more than does troop strength about why, today, we are on the verge of watching the whole Afghan enterprise go belly up.

What’s worse, there’s no reason to expect that things will change significantly on Barack Obama’s watch. During the election campaign, he called repeatedly for more troops for “the right war” in Afghanistan (while pledging to draw-down U.S. forces in Iraq), but he has yet to say a significant word about the reconstruction mission. While many aid workers in that country remain full of good intentions, the delivery systems for and uses of U.S. aid have been so thoroughly corrupted that we can only expect more of the same — unless Obama cleans house fast. But given the monumental problems on his plate, how likely is that?

Genocide

January 17, 2009

Well, another year, another massacre perpetrated by Israel. What a surprise. I guess they felt the need to commit genocide to pay tribute to our out going Dear Leader. One last orgy of death to send the Bush administration off in style. Kind of fitting actually.

And it really works out well for the Israelis because this assault will stir up years of radicalism driven by the need for revenge amongst the Palestinians. Since our president-elect has already declared his unwavering support of the nation of Israel and all its crimes, we can be fairly sure the blood letting will continue with vigor.

Oh sure, there will be peace summits, some good photo ops and a determined looking Hillary stating this and that. But let’s be honest with ourselves, as long as the US continues to turn a blind eye to what is going on nothing will ever change.

Then again I guess it’s hard to say anything with forces in Iraq and Afghanistan chewing their way through the locals. Or for that matter considering how well we’ve handled our relationship with the Native Americans I suppose we shouldn’t point fingers.

More on this from the American Conservative:

…The actual purpose is connected to Israel’s long-term vision of how it intends to live with millions of Palestinians in its midst. It is part of a broader strategic goal: the creation of a “Greater Israel.” Specifically, Israel’s leaders remain determined to control all of what used to be known as Mandate Palestine, which includes Gaza and the West Bank. The Palestinians would have limited autonomy in a handful of disconnected and economically crippled enclaves, one of which is Gaza. Israel would control the borders around them, movement between them, the air above and the water below them.

The key to achieving this is to inflict massive pain on the Palestinians so that they come to accept the fact that they are a defeated people and that Israel will be largely responsible for controlling their future. This strategy, which was first articulated by Ze’ev Jabotinsky in the 1920s and has heavily influenced Israeli policy since 1948, is commonly referred to as the “Iron Wall.”

What has been happening in Gaza is fully consistent with this strategy.

Sovereignty is for losers

October 22, 2008

“The Bush administration on Wednesday warned of “real consequences” for Iraq if it rejects a newly negotiated security pact.

Without a deal, the United States could be forced to end its military operations.”

Good. Get our troops out of Iraq now. The Iraqi’s clearly want us out, we the people want us out, seems the only the neo-cons want us there.

I find it odd that one of the big rationals for going into Iraq was to “spread democracy”, but now that the Iraqi’s have a government of their own, we are fighting them over their sovereignty rights. Because, you know, if we leave then our defense industry won’t get that 10 billion dollar a month welfare check anymore.

I really love this line:

“”There will be no legal basis for us to continue operating there without that,” White House press secretary Dana Perino said.”

Um, there never has been a legal reason for us being there in the first place asshole. For the record, we’ve been “there” since 1991 anyways. The latest colonial land grab was based on lies; lies told to the American people, lies told to the UN.

Get out of Iraq, leave those people alone. Haven’t they been trough enough?