Archive for the ‘The Forever War’ tag
One thing that marks this presidential election is the complete absence of a mainstream anti-war candidate. In 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul was the predominant anti-war candidate for the Republicans and Obama pretended to be anti-war in his 2008 campaign. But this year not a single major candidate is even pretending to be anti-war. When I point this out somebody inevitably brings up Bernie Sanders but even he isn’t hiding his murderous desires:
QUESTION: Senator Sanders, you said that you think that the U.S. airstrikes are authorized under current law, but does that mean that the U.S. military can lawfully strike ISIS-affiliated groups in any country around the world?
SANDERS: No, it does not mean that. I hope, by the way, that we will have an authorization passed by the Congress, and I am prepared to support that authorization if it is tight enough so I am satisfied that we do not get into a never-ending perpetual war in the Middle East. That I will do everything I can to avoid.
But the President, no President, has the ability willy-nilly to be dropping bombs or using drones any place he wants.
HAYES: The current authorization which you cite in what Miguel just quoted which is the authorization to use military force after 9/11. That has led to the kill list. This President — literally, there is a kill list. There is a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill, and it goes about doing it. Would you keep the kill list as President of the United States?
SANDERS: Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves. I think as Miguel said, though, it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way.
HAYES: Do you think what’s being done now is constitutional and legal?
SANDERS: In general I do, yes.
So he’s hoping, as president, he’ll receive authorization to continue doing what Bush and Obama have already been doing. But even more concerning is his support of the kill list.
I’ve discussed the kill list several times but I’ll summarize the problem with it for the benefit of newer readers. The names that appear on the kill list aren’t people who have been found guilty through due process. In fact we only know a little bit about the secret criteria used to justify adding names to the list and that information only came from an unauthorized leak. Sanders believes murdering foreigners without due process is both constitutional and legal.
To put this as diplomatically as I can, fuck Sanders. Anybody who claims he’s an anti-war candidate is either a liar or ignorant.
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – An elite U.S. Special Operations targeting force has arrived in Iraq and will carry out operations against the Islamic State, part of a broader effort in 2016 to strike at the militants and that also includes U.S. Special Operations troops in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday.
The targeting force is now in place and is prepared to work with Iraqis to begin going after militant fighters and commanders, “killing or capturing them wherever we find them,” Carter said, speaking to about 200 soldiers at the home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which is expected to deploy about 500 soldiers next month to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
If you’re psychopathic enough to want to build an empire there are two ways to go about it. You can do it the smart way, the way the Mongols did it, and leave a conquered area to run its own affairs as long as it pays your demanded tribute. Or you can do it the stupid way, the way the United States prefers, and try to micromanage a conquered area even if they do pay your demanded tribute.
The problem with the stupid way is that the people tend to resent you far more. Because of that they continue actively fighting you, which ensures you can never really lay longterm ownership over the region. Even though the war was declared over the United States will likely be fighting it until it finally decides to leave.
If ever there was reason to give up hope on the entire political process this year’s presidential candidates are it. Each an ever one of them is an honest to goodness terrible human being. The Democrats are deciding whether they want Bernie “Promise You Free Shit Nobody Can Pay For” Sander or Killary Clinton. On the other side of the isle there is a contest to see which candidate can say the most horrible thing. Donald Trump has openly stated a desire to take out the family of ISIS members like some kind of mafioso. Ted Cruz, who has been relegated to near obscurity, has decided to trump Trump by flat out saying he wants to nuke the Middle East:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz intensified his rhetoric this weekend in Iowa as he sought to compete with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on tough talk about killing Islamic State terrorists.
“We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” Cruz said at a multi-candidate event in Cedar Rapids sponsored by the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks group. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”
Cruz received loud applause throughout his speech from the more than 1,500 people in attendance and got a standing ovation as he left the stage.
I’m not sure whether Cruz openly supporting the use of nuclear weapons or receiving applause from his audience are scarier. All I know is that this country is fucked.
For those of you who still believe we can vote our way out of this nosedive, assuming there are any of you left, how exactly does the voting process work when every single candidate is a war monger, economically illiterate, and openly hostile towards freedom? The option of damage control doesn’t even exist this election cycle because all of the candidates want same thing: a continuation of the seemingly endless war that is guaranteed to bankrupt the nation (mind you, I’m not against the State bankrupting itself, I just wish it would find a way to do it that didn’t require so many dead bodies).
Furthermore, each of these candidates has supporters. Even if a decent candidate existed and you supported them you would almost certainly be a very small minority voting against an army of psychotic voters who want the very war their candidates are selling.
I feel like a fool. Why? Because I didn’t buy Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, or any other politically connected weapons manufacturer’s stock when the market opened on Monday! Proving the 34th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition true, war is good for business:
The Paris attacks took place on Friday night. Since then, France’s president has vowed “war” on ISIS and today significantly escalated the country’s bombing campaign in Syria (France has been bombing ISIS in Iraq since last January, and began bombing them in Syria in September).
Already this morning, as Aaron Cantú noticed, the stocks of the leading weapons manufacturers – what is usually referred to as the “defense industry” – have soared:
I should have sought a job at one of these companies. They’re profitable so long as there’s war and there’s always war!
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is no longer the only government program to achieve a 90 percent failure rate. Thanks to an unknown whistleblower, who will hopefully remain unknown, we now know that the United States’ drone assassination program enjoys an abysmal failure rate as well:
On Thursday the Intercept published a groundbreaking new collection of documents related to America’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles to kill foreign targets in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen. The revelations about the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command actions include primary source evidence that as many as 90 percent of US drone killings in one five month period weren’t the intended target, that a former British citizen was killed in a drone strike despite repeated opportunities to capture him instead, and details of the grisly process by which the American government chooses who will die, down to the “baseball cards” of profile information created for individual targets, and the chain of authorization that goes up directly to the president.1
90 percent of the people killed by drones in a five month period were innocent bystanders. I can’t imagine how that could possibly create backlash. Surly all of the people in the Middle East understand that we have to bomb innocent bystanders in order to defend ourselves from terrorists!
The documents reveal a frightening fact: the United States government has almost no mechanisms in place to verify targets. It’s basically dropping bombs willy nilly. Based on the success to failure ratio it appears that the United States only succeeds by random chance.
The United States has been in a state of war since 2001 (actually it was in a state of war before that but the war on terror is the war I’m primarily addressing here). In those 14 wars the United States has dropped bombs on a large number of Middle Eastern countries, held prisoners in secret prisons without trial, and expanded a pervasive surveillance apparatus that spies on foreigners and domestic people. Fortunately Obama declared an end to the war effort in Afghanistan. But that was then. This is now. As it turns out the United States isn’t actually planning to leave Afghanistan:
WASHINGTON — The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years.
This should come as no surprise. Obama has continued to drop bombs on the two countries he’s claimed to have ended wars in. But everybody needs to recognize the new definition of war. War no longer carries the implication of two militaries fighting one another in an attempt to achieve some mutually exclusive goal. Today war implies an expansion of empire through military occupation. The United States is playing the same game Britain did at the height of its empire without the honesty of just calling itself an empire. Instead the United States “brings democracy” and “liberates” the citizens of foreign countries from “brutal regimes” and “terrorists.”
Since there is no defined goal an occupation, unlike a war, has no winning condition and therefore is perpetual in nature. This war will not end until the United States can no longer afford to wage it.
Because no tragedy can be allowed to go to waste, almost immediately after the recent shooting in Oregon Mr. Obama stepped behind is podium and demanded his fellow politicians further restricting legal firearm ownership. He did this under the guise of reducing violence. Not too long afterwards the United States bombed a hospital:
Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) U.S., disclosed the updated casualty figures on his Twitter feed, where he also said that the bombing went on for longer than 30 minutes “after American & Afghan military officials in Kabul & Washington first informed of proximity to hospital.”
He added that the precise location of the hospital had been communicated to all parties to the conflict “multiple times” in the past few months. He said MSF was “urgently seeking clarity,” on how the bombing took place.
In a statement, the organization said that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.” Of the 37 wounded, 19 are Doctors Without Borders Staff.
What Mr. Obama purports to be addressing are the approximate 11,000 homicides committed with firearms. Setting aside the absurd belief that disarming the general population will somehow reduce homicides let’s consider the grand scheme of things, namely the number of people murdered by governments.
By far the largest murderers in human history have been governments. This is true today. Only an organization with the means and will to involve itself in outright wars with out such entities can rack up a body country in the thousands or millions. Hell, Operation Enduring Freedom killed somewhere between 1,000 and 1,300 civilians in three months alone. And that’s just one operation in one country out of the known seven the United States is actively bombing.
I’m not condoning the actions of the shooter in Oregon, he was a piece of shit murderer after all, or trying to make his crimes seem less than what they are. What I am pointing out is the hypocrisy of a butcher like Obama talking about reducing violence. We’re talking about a man whose only notable achievement has been maintaining a continuous state of war throughout his entire presidency. He even manages to keep bombing countries he’s said we’re no longer at war with. So you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take any statements he makes about reducing violence seriously.
In addition to war being immoral I also disagree with the United States’ involvement in the Middle East on practical grounds. The biggest one being the fact that nobody in the United States government seems to have a goddamn clue of what they’re doing. I get the feeling that the top brass and other people “in the know” are throwing darts at a dartboard of ideas and going with whatever one they hit. That can be the only explanation for suggesting something like this:
The former commander of U.S. forces in Iraq and Afghanistan has been quietly urging U.S. officials to consider using so-called moderate members of al Qaeda’s Nusra Front to fight ISIS in Syria, four sources familiar with the conversations, including one person who spoke to Petraeus directly, told The Daily Beast.
The circle of unintended consequences continues! Back in the day the United States government funded and armed al Qaeda because it was fighting the Soviet Union in Afghanistan. After the Soviet Union ceased being a thing al Qaeda eventually turned its sights on the United States and flew a few planes into a few buildings. This resulted in the United States basically bombing everybody in the Middle East as it pursued its revenge. Now things are looping back to the beginning where people “in the know” are seriously arguing that the United States needs to fund and arm al Qaeda.
I like to say the government is incompetent at everything it does except wield violence but this kind of shit makes me think it’s event incompetent at that.
It’s hard to remember the days of Obama’s first presidential run. Bush was in office, had dragged us into wars throughout the Middle East, and had lead the charge to increase the already pervasive and unaccountable surveillance state. Obama promises to end the wars and dismantle the surveillance state.
Since then Obama has dragged us into more wars and further empowered the surveillance state. His love of war has become so strong that he can’t even pretend to be reluctant about it anymore. Hilariously a lot of Republicans have been accusing him of not being a big enough war monger because of the deal he’s been negotiating with Iran. Not wanting people to question his dedication to bombing children in the Middle East Obama rebutted the Republicans’ accusations by pointing out just how many countries he’s bombed:
Beyond accurately describing Iran Deal opponents, Obama also accurately described himself and his own record of militarism. To defend against charges that he Loves the Terrorists, he boasted:
As commander-in-chief, I have not shied away from using force when necessary. I have ordered tens of thousands of young Americans into combat. . . .
I’ve ordered military action in seven countries.
By “ordered military actions in seven countries,” what he means is that he has ordered bombs dropped, and he has extinguished the lives of thousands of innocent people, in seven different countries, all of which just so happen to be predominantly Muslim.
It’s amazing how much things have changed since his first presidential run. He’s not even pretending to be anti-war anymore. And why should he? It’s not like he can run for a third term anyways. I think it’s also amusing, and sad, to see how his supporters went from being a huge percentage of the anti-war movement to either entirely silent on the issue of war or proponents of these new wars.
Obesity is being treated as a worldwide health epidemic. It makes sense. There is a whole slew of health problems that comes with being overweight. But obesity may very well be the key to saving an untold number of lives. How? By preventing militaries from being properly staffed:
Minnesota kids are too fat to fight.
That’s the message from a group of retired generals and admirals who say the state’s kids are too fat, eat too poorly, and don’t get enough exercise to qualify to join the military.
As part of a nationwide effort, the generals and admirals recommend more physical education classes and better meals in schools and more walking and biking trails in the state’s communities to get kids in fighting trim.
The report, released today, doesn’t pull any punches, even in the title: “Too Fat, Frail, and Out-of-Breath to Fight.”
If a military isn’t properly staffed it can’t go into a bunch of foreign countries and murder their people. Imagine if the United States lacked the personnel to invalid Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, and every other country we’ve invaded for no good reason. 1.3 million lives could have potentially been saved [PDF].
As an aside it’s also worth noting the state’s motivation in fighting obesity. It’s not because the state feels as though it should be doing whatever it can to protect the health of its subjects. The only motivation it has in fighting obesity is to ensure it has enough meat for the grinder. Once again the state demonstrates that it doesn’t love you, you’re just a resource for it to use.