Category "War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast"

Gen. Patraeus: Why We’re Really in Afghanistan

January 18th, 2013 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

Can’t say I’m really surprised by this, but it is a bit striking to see some of the overall strategic picture referenced so cavalierly by those in positions of such power (or at least, in Patraeus’ case, were in those positions. But have no fear, he’s still around. He’ll be back. You don’t run the CIA and leave without an arsenal of secrets that can be wielded as a weapon of political influence).

Taking Advantage of the Presidential Election Season Militarily?

September 4th, 2012 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

A close friend of mine, a journalist and an implicitly trusted source, informs me that his military friends are telling him that there is lots of activity going down at the major U.S. military installations that comprise Naval Base Coronado in southern California.

What’s most disconcerting about this is that conversations abound about the impending deployment being sent to Iran (Iran with an “n,” not Iraq). Now anyone familiar with military history knows any and all such deployments are often rife with scuttlebutt and rumors. However, the timing of this is interesting, and there seems to be at the very least an appreciable effort underway in the stepping up of a military presence elsewhere abroad, Iran or not.

I don’t normally ever post based information which could be construed as speculative gossip, but something is clearly in motion right now, and it is not in the mode of “standard operating procedure.”

I pose this information publicly, as to inquire if anyone might have some insight on what these deployments are about, and what is engendering them at this time? Is this an effort to push for the ‘military options’ which have been such an integral part of the long-desired policies advocated by certain political and military elements? The timing is interesting, in that with a national election around the corner, it forces the hand of any political leadership which may be wary of pursuing more military ’solutions’ abroad?

To Obama: You want to stay president? Be on board with whatever we decide.
To Romney: You want to be president?  Be on board with whatever we decide.
Deviate from us, and you’ll be depicted as soft on terror, pro-Islam, and anti-American.

Conspiracy theory? Or simply a simple, straightforward description of the flow of power in a system that is so thoroughly and demonstrably dominated by what Eisenhower called “the military industrial complex”? One which has managed to politically engineer the interests of the Pentagon and its bloated corporate feeders at its never-ending trough, a process well-documented in Eugene Jarecki’s pointed expose’ Why We Fight.

If these deployments are part of enabling the long-standing neo-con wet dream of attacking Iran (after all, “Real Men Go To Tehran”), then its time to be beyond concerned. Today, Tehran can be found on that rocky road through Damascus, which seems one of the more obvious reasons for the dramatically increased focus on that region these days. Such an attack ranks as probably the second most frightening global scenario to me, next to the ever-increasing effects of climate change which seem to be well under way these days.

If a U.S./Israeli axis actually attacked Iran, it could very likely trigger a World War III, with China, Russia, most of the Middle East (and a good portion of the rest of the world), responding in a way that would likely coalesce into a major, concerted anti-American spasm of political, economic, and technological warfare, and even direct military intervention.

In such an event, oil prices will skyrocket, whole economies will implode. Global political instability will careen out of control. It will be the most absurd, ill-fated, and historically transformative military gamble since Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the USSR in 1941.

- Andy Valeri, USTV Media

Israeli Soldiers Attempt To Break The Silence

March 25th, 2011 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

This is an important addition to the public record regarding the activities of Israel, a nation often referred to as an “ally” of America, though no bilateral mutual defense treaty exists between the two nations (thus negating the term in any diplomatic or legal sense). The reasons for the absence of any such treaty is grounds for more in-depth discussion, which would likely prove enlightening to many Americans.

An interview with Avichai Sharon and Noam Chayut, both veterans of the Israeli Defense Forces and members of Breaking the Silence. Sharon and Chayut served during the second intifada, which has claimed the lives of over three thousand Palestinians and nine-hundred-fifty Israelis. After thorough introspection, these young men have chosen to speak out about their experiences as self-described “brutal occupiers of a disputed land.”

Testimonies like these are useful in expanding awareness of what is happening in the territories occupied by the Israeli annexationists, and how what is most often relayed by the corporate press and the IDF does not correspond to the reality on the ground. It helps to explain how facts are concealed from the publics of both nations, which is done in order to continue the justification of occupation policies.

Plus, for additional perspective on this issue, Watch This Video on how IDF soldiers know what they are doing is wrong, but the Israeli government forces them to do it.

Would Israel Be Better or Worse Off Without An Endlessly Abundant Supply of U.S. Military Aid?

March 23rd, 2011 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Isreali writer (and former member of the Israeli Knesset) Uri Avnery weighs in with this insightful and important perspective on the strategic dimensions which define and guide American/Isreali relations.

First of all, a basic rule of Israeli reality: the State of Israel cannot start any large-scale military operation without American consent.

Israel depends on the US in almost every respect, but in no sphere is it more dependent than in the military one.


In 1956, Israel went to war without American consent. Ben-Gurion thought that his collusion with the UK and France was enough. He was vastly mistaken. One hundred hours after telling us that the “Third Kingdom of Israel” had come into being, he announced with a broken voice that he was going to evacuate all the territories just conquered. President Dwight Eisenhower, together with his Soviet colleague, had submitted an ultimatum, and that was the end of the adventure.

Since then, Israel has not started a single war without securing the agreement of Washington. On the eve of the Six-day War, a special emissary was sent to the US to make sure that there was indeed American agreement. When he returned with an affirmative answer, the order for the attack was issued.


Because an Israeli attack on Iran would cause a military, political and economic disaster for the United States of America.

Since the Iranians, too, realize that Israel could not attack without American consent, they would react accordingly.

As I have written here before, a cursory glance at the map suffices to indicate what would be the immediate reaction. The narrow Hormuz Strait at the entrance of the Persian (or Arabian) Gulf, through which a huge part of the world’s oil flows, would be sealed at once. The results would shake the international economy, from the US and Europe to China and Japan. Prices would soar to the skies. The countries that had just begun to recover from the world economic crisis would sink to the depths of misery and unemployment, riots and bankruptcies.


When Netanyahu & Co. criticize the inability of the American leaders to act against Iran, they answer in the same coin: you, too, are not serious.

And indeed, how serious are our leaders about this? They have convinced the Israeli public that it is a matter of life and death. Iran is led by a madman, a new Hitler, a sick anti-Semite, an obsessive Holocaust-denier. If he got his hands on a nuclear bomb, he would not hesitate for a moment to drop it on Tel Aviv and Dimona. With this sword hanging over our heads, this is no time for trivial matters, such as the Palestinian problem and the occupation. Everyone who raises the Palestinian question in a meeting with our leaders is immediately interrupted: Forget this nonsense, let’s talk about the Iranian bomb!!

But Obama and his people turn the argument around: if this is an existential danger, they say, please draw the conclusions. If this matter endangers the very existence of Israel, sacrifice the West Bank settlements on this altar. Accept the Arab League peace offer, make peace with the Palestinians as quickly as possible. That will ease our situation in Iraq and Afghanistan and free our forces. Also, Iran would have no more pretext for war with Israel. The masses of the Arab world would not support it anymore.

And the conclusion: If a new Jewish neighborhood in East Jerusalem is more important to you than the Iranian bomb, the matter is clearly not really so critical for you. And that, with all due modesty, is my opinion, too.

Lots more to this piece, including some interesting insight on the historical connections between Israel and Iran, and how the current showdown is an aberration.

Read Uri Averny’s complete piece Here

How Afghanistan Became a War for NATO

March 9th, 2011 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

An interestingly detailed account by veteran journalist Gareth Porter on the history of how the Afghan war has come to be what it is, and what forces led to such deep European involvement in it. It would indeed be quite an irony of history should this Afghan venture end up spelling the death knell of NATO, after similar military ventures in that country helped lead to the demise of the alliance’s original antagonists, the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact?

“NATO’s role in Afghanistan is more about NATO than it is about Afghanistan,” the officer, who insisted on anonymity because of the political sensitivity of the subject, told IPS in an interview.

The alliance would never have been given such a prominent role in Afghanistan but for the fact that the George W. Bush administration wanted no significant U.S. military role there that could interfere with their plans to take control of Iraq.


But conflicts immediately arose between the U.S. and NATO member countries over the NATO mission in Afghanistan. Britain, Germany, Canada and the Netherlands had all sold the NATO mission to their publics as “peacekeeping” or “reconstruction” as distinct from counterinsurgency war.


But Eikenberry assured the news media that the insurgency was under control. In a Dec. 8, 2005 press briefing at the Pentagon, Eikenberry asserted that the more aggressive Taliban tactics were “very much a sign of weakness”. Asked if he wasn’t concerned that the situation in Afghanistan was “sliding towards an Iraqi scenario”, Eikenberry replied, “[W]e see no indications
that such is the case…”

A few weeks later the Taliban launched the biggest offensive since its regime was ousted in 2001, seizing control of much of Helmand, Kandahar and several other southern provinces.


But Canadian General Rick Hillier, who commanded NATO forces in Afghanistan from February to August 2004 and was later chief of staff of Canadian armed forces from 2005 to 2008, wrote in his memoir “A Soldier First”, published in 2009, that NATO was an unmitigated disaster in Afghanistan.

He recalled that when it formally accepted responsibility for Afghanistan in 2003, NATO had “no strategy, no clear articulation of what it wanted to achieve” and that its performance was “abysmal”.

Hillier said the situation “remains unchanged” after several years of NATO responsibility for Afghanistan. NATO had “started down a road that destroyed much of its credibility and in the end eroded support for the mission in every nation in the alliance,” Hillier wrote.

“Afghanistan has revealed,” wrote Hiller, “that NATO has reached the stage where it is a corpse decomposing…”

Read The Complete Article Here

‘U.S. Withdraws Troops From Iraq’ and Other Newspeak Illusions

August 20th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Many of you have probably been seeing the headlines recently echoing the Obama administration’s triumphant declarations regarding the withdrawal of American combat forces from Iraq. This ranks as possibly the greatest line of PR spin since “Mission Accomplished” was declared 7 years ago. Actually, this is worse, since then at least Bush could claim the pretense of actually believing that to be the case. In this situation, Obama has no excuse for not understanding the depth of his own duplicity.

Seamus Milne of the Guardian U.K. does a good job here in succinctly dismantling the BS behind the recent Orwellian Newspeak headlines. And, oh yeah, it is all about the oil, and foreign corporate control of it. Back to the future. The 1950’s all over again.

The US isn’t withdrawing from Iraq at all; it’s rebranding the occupation. Just as George Bush’s war on terror was retitled “overseas contingency operations” when Obama became president, US “combat operations” will be rebadged from next month as “stability operations”.

But as Major General Stephen Lanza, the US military spokesman in Iraq, told the New York Times: “In practical terms, nothing will change”. After this month’s withdrawal, there will still be 50,000 US troops in 94 military bases, “advising” and training the Iraqi army, “providing security” and carrying out “counter-terrorism” missions. In US military speak, that covers pretty well everything they might want to do.


Meanwhile, the US government isn’t just rebranding the occupation, it’s also privatising it. There are around 100,000 private contractors working for the occupying forces, of whom more than 11,000 are armed mercenaries, mostly “third country nationals”, typically from the developing world. One Peruvian and two Ugandan security contractors were killed in a rocket attack on the Green Zone only a fortnight ago.

I thought we were attempting to rid Iraq of the presence of ‘foreign fighters,’ not hire them. But then, American troops are the most predominate source of ‘foreign fighters’ in Iraq, one of those obvious points which seemed to escape the previous administration when it used to lecture about its goal of eliminating such fighters from the country.

Hillary Clinton wants to increase the number of military contractors working for the state department alone from 2,700 to 7,000, to be based in five “enduring presence posts” across Iraq.


What is abundantly clear is that the US, whose embassy in Baghdad is now the size of Vatican City, has no intention of letting go of Iraq any time soon. One reason for that can be found in the dozen 20-year contracts to run Iraq’s biggest oil fields that were handed out last year to foreign companies, including three of the Anglo-American oil majors that exploited Iraqi oil under British control before 1958.

The dubious legality of these deals has held back some US companies, but as Greg Muttitt, author of a forthcoming book on the subject, argues, the prize for the US is bigger than the contracts themselves, which put 60% of Iraq’s reserves under long-term foreign corporate control.


The Iraq war has been a historic political and strategic failure for the US. It was unable to impose a military solution, let alone turn the country into a beacon of western values or regional policeman. But by playing the sectarian and ethnic cards, it also prevented the emergence of a national resistance movement and a humiliating Vietnam-style pullout. The signs are it wants to create a new form of outsourced semi-colonial regime to maintain its grip on the country and region. The struggle to regain Iraq’s independence has only just begun.

Read The Complete Article

America Detached From War

July 5th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Another essential piece from Tom Engelhardt, regarding America’s ever-increasing distraction and detachment from the moral and political consequences of its own policies and actions. Here, Engelhardt goes into more depth regarding America’s continued pursuit of completely robot-ized warfare, its effects and the questions it raises about our own society. It is interesting to think how Americans would react if any other country on planet earth would give itself the right to patrol robots around the U.S., ones which could at anytime unleash a barrage of firepower, often killing scores of people, many of them guilty of nothing.

According to “new intelligence,” Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein had in his possession unmanned aerial vehicles advanced enough to be armed with biological and chemical weaponry.  Worse yet, these were capable — so the CIA director and vice president claimed — of spraying those weapons of mass destruction over cities on the east coast of the United States.  It was just the sort of evil plan you might have expected from a man regularly compared to Adolf Hitler in our media, and the news evidently made an impression in Congress.

Democratic Senator Bill Nelson of Florida, for example, said that he voted for the administration’s resolution authorizing force in Iraq because “I was told not only that [Saddam had weapons of mass destruction] and that he had the means to deliver them through unmanned aerial vehicles, but that he had the capability of transporting those UAVs outside of Iraq and threatening the homeland here in America, specifically by putting them on ships off the eastern seaboard.”

So where are you now, Senator Nelson, now that this threat of total destruction is actually being manifested? However, the specter of devastation is not coming to pass through the machinations of some mustacheod dictator, but by the regimes of corporate power, such as BP. If some terrorist group was actually able to cause the amount of total destruction the lives and well-being of as many Americans that BP’s reckless actions are causing (and going to cause), the country would be shrieking for vengeance and retribution.

Yet, when spraying mass toxins, spreading death and destruction to whole regions of the country, killing off entire ways of life, are the result of the incessant pursuit of corporate profit, and the satiation of an unsustainable way of life in our society, no one openly proposes any real ‘regime change’ and the shutting of such operations down. This is especially true when these entities are some of these same policy makers most lucrative campaign contributors. And now we have a totalitarian-style blackout of any and all information coming from the Gulf region, and our compliant media doesn’t question it. We are truly reaching some serious day of reckoning in this nation (and on this planet).

Of course, like Saddam’s supposed ability to produce “ mushroom clouds ” over American cities, the Iraqi autocrat’s advanced UAVs (along with the ships needed to position them off the U.S. coast) were a feverish fantasy of the Bush era and would soon enough be forgotten.  Instead, in the years to come, it would be American pilotless drones that would repeatedly attack Iraqi urban areas with Hellfire missiles and bombs.


“We’re talking about precision unsurpassed in the history of warfare”; or as Gordon Johnson of the Pentagon’s Joint Forces Command told   author Peter Singer, speaking of the glories of drones: “They don’t get hungry. They are not afraid. They don’t forget their orders. They don’t care if the guy next to them has been shot. Will they do a better job than humans? Yes.”


Admittedly, there is a modest counter-narrative to all this enthusiasm for our robotic prowess, “precision,” and “valor.”  It involves legal types like Philip Alston, the United Nations special representative on extrajudicial executions.  He recently issued a 29-page report criticizing Washington’s “ever-expanding entitlement for itself to target individuals across the globe.”  Unless limits are put on such claims, and especially on the CIA’s drone war over Pakistan, he suggests, soon enough a plethora of states will follow in America’s footprints, attacking people in other lands “labeled as terrorists by one group or another.”


It’s a moment that could, of course, be presented as an apocalyptic nightmare in the style of the Terminator movies (with the U.S. as the soul-crushing Skynet), or as a remarkable tale of how “networking technology is expanding a homefront that is increasingly relevant to day-to-day warfare” (as Christopher Drew recently put it in the New York Times ).  It could be described as the arrival of a dystopian fantasy world of one-way slaughter verging on entertainment, or as the coming of a generation of homegrown video warriors who work “in camouflage uniforms, complete with combat boots, on open floors, with four computer monitors on each desk… and coffee and Red Bull help[ing] them get through the 12-hour shifts.” It could be presented as the ultimate in cowardice — the killing of people in a world you know nothing about from thousands of miles away — or (as Col. Mathewson would prefer) a new form of valor.


After all, while this country garrisons the world, invests its wealth in its military, and fights unending, unwinnable frontier wars and skirmishes, most Americans are remarkably detached from all this.  If anything, since Vietnam when an increasingly rebellious citizens’ army proved disastrous for Washington’s global aims, such detachment has been the goal of American war-making.


In the process, we’re also obliterating classic ideas of national sovereignty, and of who can be killed by whom under what circumstances.  In the process, we may not just be obliterating enemies, but creating them wherever our drones buzz overhead and our missiles strike.

We are also creating the (il)legal framework for future war on a frontier where we won’t long be flying solo.  And when the first Iranian, or Russian, or Chinese missile-armed drones start knocking off their chosen sets of “terrorists,” we won’t like it one bit.  When the first “suicide drones” appear, we’ll like it even less.  And if drones with the ability to spray chemical or biological weapons finally do make the scene, we’ll be truly unnerved.

In the 1990s, we were said to be in an era of “globalization” which was widely hailed as good news.  Now, the U.S. and its detached populace are pioneering a new era of killing that respects no boundaries, relies on the self-definitions of whoever owns the nearest drone, and establishes planetary free-fire zones.  It’s a nasty combination, this globalization of death.

Read The Complete Article

Dead In The Water: The Attack on the USS Liberty

June 8th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

An informative expose’ on the Israeli attack against the American naval ship the USS Liberty, and the cover up that ensued. Produced by the BBC, it is curiously unfortunate that not only has this program received practically no airtime in the United States, but the entire issue has received next to zero exposure in the U.S. Perhaps that can and will change in the coming days.

PART 2 ** PART 3 ** PART 4 ** PART 5 ** PART 6 ** PART 7

Seven Years of (Unconvincing) Lies In 39 Minutes: A Primer

May 13th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

This op-ed from noted historian Dr. Matthew Feldman published in truthout serves as a sad reminder of how easy it is to politically bank on the currency of lies today in what Gore Vidal has accurately described as “the United States of Amnesia.” Plus, anyone that includes segments from Stanley Kubrick films in their essay is most likely going to be worth reading.

No wonder the US military said the tape was lost .

Those murderous images leave you gasping for air like a punch in the gut at boot camp. Then you hear a bit of cackling, some banter, and more shooting. Dahr Jamail reported in Truthout that a dozen people were killed in the massacre, including two Reuters news staff, with another two children wounded but (amazingly) alive. The US troops sounded as if they were having fun, like aiming for high-score on an arcade game.

Since war and occupation have killed far more in excess of one million Iraqis in this illegal war (and rendered another few million others homeless), the July 2007 events don’t add up to much. An Apache gunship using sauntering Iraqis for target practice, then blasting a vanload of rescuers and children trying to help a wounded, writhing man as an encore. Big deal. Happens all the time in Iraq. Except that this was recorded. And not lost, thanks the courageous Wikileaks’ anonymous source.

Cue momentary hand-wringing by the mainstream media - a bit too much force here, maybe a logistical failure there? - then back to news-as-titillation for us all.

So it goes in Iraq.


Now entering the seventh year of “pacification” in Iraq, these fictions are only getting worse. Not in terms of morality, mind you - that Rubicon was crossed even before this illegal invasion was launched - but these aren’t even good lies any longer. These are lazy lies. Indeed, these are the worst kinds of lies, thought Oscar Wilde, so artless as to be disbelieved when expressed.

[Oscar] Wilde’s wit was legendary, at least until Europe’s self-immolation attempt during the Great War adjudged it too shallow. Interwar society had little to laugh about - or just took itself altogether too seriously, as Wilde might retort. Fittingly, his celebrated dialogue [from] “The Decay of Lying,” jibed that politicians “never rise beyond the level of misrepresentation, and actually condescend to prove, to discuss, to argue. How different from the temper of the true liar, with his frank, fearless statements, his superb irresponsibility, his healthy, natural disdain of proof of any kind! After all, what is a fine lie?”

A fine lie? At 120 years since its publication in Victorian England, I doubt our politicians know any longer, if they even knew in Wilde’s day. Given recent evidence, since our military certainly can’t tell the difference between a news camera and a rocket launcher, asking them for comment is about as useful as asking Bin Laden (remember him?) about his views on the recent passage of US health care reform. With both, you can only get propaganda. Bad propaganda.


The stories of late have all the imagination of a tired and stupid bureaucracy simply going through the motions. In the early days, at least I could watch the humorous lies of Mohammed Saeed al-Sahaf - the Orwellian Iraqi information minister during the 2003 invasion, also known as  ”Comical Ali” - to soften the blow. His imaginative creations were the only funny part of a “liberation” that never, at any time, had truth on its side.

And what’s worse, the lies these days are mirthless. They are no more than dead air, stale and lifeless. They are stillborn lies.

Of course, lies launched us into Operation Iraqi Freedom in the first place. Remember those silly Uranium tubes from Niger, that spectral WMD? Deception, moreover, has kept us afloat when soggy, from a fish-hooked “Coalition of the Willing” to the “bad apples” floating around at Abu Ghraib. Today, under a new administration, also claiming to be leaving Iraq at some point this century, our pack of lies has simply been reshuffled and dealt to us again. No need for new cards here; our war (cheer)leaders are counting on America’s willful ignorance and moral abeyance regarding Iraq.

Read The Complete Essay

Iraq Slaughter Not an Aberration

April 21st, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Constitutional lawyer and published author Glenn Greenwald provides insightful commentary regarding the killing of Iraqi journalists and civilians captured on the army video released by WikiLeaks in April. This article is not only informative, but is embedded with video links from other news sources, including interviews on the topic, which are worth seeing.

The following are a few segments from Greenwald’s posting on

Shining light on what our government and military do is so critical precisely because it forces people to see what is really being done and prevents myth and propaganda from distorting those realities. That’s why the administration fights so hard to keep torture photos suppressed, why the military fought so hard here to keep this video concealed (and why they did the same with regard to the Afghan massacre), and why whistle-blowers, real journalists, and sites like WikiLeaks are the declared enemy of the government. The discussions many people are having today — about the brutal reality of what the U.S. does when it engages in war, invasions and occupation — is exactly the discussion which they most want to avoid.


But at face value it is the most damaging documentation of abuse since the Abu Ghraib prison-torture photos. As you watch, imagine the reaction in the US if the people on the ground had been Americans and the people on the machine guns had been Iraqi, Russian, Chinese, or any other nationality. As with Abu Ghraib, and again assuming this is what it seems to be, the temptation will be to blame the operations-level people who were, in this case, chuckling as they mowed people down. That’s not where the real responsibility lies.


And, of course, imagining what Fallows asks us to imagine — that this was all being done to us, rather than by us — is exactly the exercise which is most steadfastly avoided. Besides, even if it were to be engaged, it would be dismissed as an exercise in “moral relativism.” When we do X, it is right; when others do X to us, it is wrong. That’s the benefit of being so Exceptional.


An active duty U.S. soldier currently deployed in Southeastern Baghdad, where this incident occurred, writes a very thoughtful and nuanced analysis of this matter to Andrew Sullivan, and says:
90% of what occurs in that video has been commonplace in Iraq for the last 7 years, and the 10% that differs is entirely based on the fact that two of the gentlemen killed were journalists.

War is a disgusting, horrible thing. As cliche as that excuse has become, for people to look at the natural heartbreaking nature of it and say that they’re somehow anomalous just shows how far people who have not experienced war have to go to understanding it.

Read the complete post on

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