Category "War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast"

Video of a US Helicopter Crew Slaying 12 Unarmed Iraqis, Including Reuters News Staff

April 18th, 2010 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

This is pretty disturbing stuff. Released by WikiLeaks, this classified US military video shows the slaying of over a dozen people in the Iraqi suburb of New Baghdad — including two Reuters news staff. Reuters has been trying to obtain the video through the Freedom of Information Act, without success since the time of the attack back in 2007. The video, shot from an Apache helicopter gun-site, clearly shows the unprovoked slaying of a wounded Reuters employee and his rescuers. Two young children involved in the rescue were also seriously wounded.

The incidents captured in this released video material are no real surprise to those knowledgeable about life on the ground in that war torn country. It is unfortunately par for the course for what has been going on in Iraq since its invasion by American and British forces in 2003 (an aggressive act initiated under disingenuously manipulated pretexts, which is a criminal act unto itself).

For more information visit the special project website at

Dan Murphy of The Christian Science Monitor filed this report upon the initial release of the video…

A video released on the Internet Monday by WikiLeaks, a small nonprofit dedicated to publishing classified information from the US and other governments, appears to show the killing of two Iraqi journalists with Reuters and about nine other Iraqis in a Baghdad suburb in 2007 that is sharply at odds of the official US account of the incident.

Read the complete CSM report Here

If We Lose Iraq, You’re To Blame

December 30th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Another excellent analysis by William Astore, retired Air Force lieutenant colonel and an Oxford doctorate and military historian. This could read “Iraq” or “Afghanistan,” or any number of locales we choose to interject our armed forces.

The world’s finest military launches a highly coordinated shock-and-awe attack that shows enormous initial progress. There’s talk of the victorious troops being home for Christmas. But the war unexpectedly drags on. As fighting persists into a third, and then a fourth year, voices are heard calling for negotiations, even “peace without victory.” Dismissing such peaceniks and critics as defeatists, a conservative and expansionist regime — led by a figurehead who often resorts to simplistic slogans and his Machiavellian sidekick who is considered the brains behind the throne — calls for one last surge to victory. Unbeknownst to the people on the home front, however, this duo has already prepared a seductive and self-exculpatory myth in case the surge fails.

The United States in 2007? No, Wilhelmine Germany in 1917 and 1918, as its military dictators, Field Marshal Paul von Hindenburg and his loyal second, General Erich Ludendorff, pushed Germany toward defeat and revolution in a relentless pursuit of victory in World War I. Having failed with their surge strategy on the Western Front in 1918, they nevertheless succeeded in deploying a stab-in-the-back myth, or Dolchstoßlegende, that shifted blame for defeat from themselves and Rightist politicians to Social Democrats and others allegedly responsible for losing the war by their failure to support the troops at home.

The German Army knew it was militarily defeated in 1918. But this was an inconvenient truth for Hindenburg and the Right, so they crafted a new “truth”: that the troops were “unvanquished in the field.” So powerful did these words become that they would be engraved in stone on many a German war memorial.

It’s a myth we ourselves are familiar with. As South Vietnam was collapsing in 1975, Army Colonel Harry G. Summers, Jr., speaking to a North Vietnamese counterpart, claimed the U.S. military had never lost a battle in Vietnam. Perhaps so, the NVA colonel replied, “but it is also irrelevant.” Summers recounts his conversation approvingly, without irony, in his book On Strategy: A Critical Analysis of the Vietnam War. For him, even if we lost the war, our Army proved itself “unbeatable.”

Though Summers’ premise was — and remains — dangerously misleading, it reassured the true believers who ran, and continue to run, our military. Those military men who were less convinced of our “unbeatable” stature tended to keep their own counsel. Their self-censorship, coupled with wider institutional self-deception, effectively opened the door to exculpatory myths.

A New American Stab-in-the-Back?

Warnings about a new stab-in-the-back myth may seem premature or overheated at this moment in the Iraq War. Yet, if the history of the original version of this myth is any guide, the opposite is true. They are timely precisely because the Dolchstoßlegende was not a post-war concoction, but an explanation cunningly, even cynically, hatched by Rightists in Germany before the failure of the desperate, final “victory offensive” of 1918 became fully apparent. Although Hindenburg’s dramatic testimony in November 1919 — a full year after the armistice that ended the war — popularized the myth in Germany, it caught fire precisely because the tinder had been laid to dry two years earlier.

That groundwork is laid regularly today in America on the right-wing media machine of Fox, talk radio, the National Review and the like.

Read The Full Report Here

Tony Blair Warned In 2002 That Iraq Invasion Was Illegal

December 10th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

No real surprise here, though the open discussion of holding a former British Prime Minister accountable for war crimes is noteworthy, and possible grounds for similar pursuits in the United States.

“Today’s revelations show that Lord Goldsmith told Mr. Blair at the outset, and in writing, that military action against Iraq was totally illegal,” The Mail stated.

The disclosures help to wreck Blair’s hopes of proving he acted in good faith when he and former U.S. President George Bush declared war on Iraq. They also could lead to Blair’s being charged with war crimes.

Lord Goldsmith’s letter came about a week after a Cabinet meeting on July 23, 2002, at which ministers were secretly told that the US and UK were set on “regime change” in Iraq.

Read The Full Report

Victory at Last! Monty Python in Afghanistan

December 6th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Another ever-insightful and even somewhat brutal analysis from Tom Engelhardt in the TomDispatch, this regarding some of the reasons behind the seeming folly of the current course of action in Afghanistan and the players involved in convincing Obama to succumb to this decision, one which will almost assuredly result in what what will be years and years of more war there.

A Symbolic Surrender of Civilian Authority

You may not think so, but on Tuesday night from the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, in his first prime-time presidential address to the nation, Barack Obama surrendered.  It may not have looked like that: there were no surrender documents; he wasn’t on the deck of the USS Missouri ; he never bowed his head.  Still, from today on, think of him not as the commander-in-chief, but as the commanded-in-chief. 


Finish the job in Afghanistan?  Based on the plans of the field commanders to whom the president has bowed, on the administration’s record of escalation in the war so far, and on the quiet reassurances to the Pakistanis that we aren’t leaving Afghanistan in any imaginable future, this war looks to be all job and no finish.  Whatever the flourishes, that was the essence of Tuesday night’s surrender speech. 


In addition, the Taliban now reportedly take a cut of the billions of dollars in U.S. development aid flowing into the country, much of which is otherwise squandered, and of the American money that goes into “protecting” the convoys that bring supplies to U.S. troops throughout the country.  One out of every four Afghan soldiers has quit or deserted the Afghan National Army in the last year, while the ill-paid, largely illiterate, hapless Afghan police with their “ well-deserved reputation for stealing and extorting bribes,” not to speak of a drug abuse rate estimated at 15%, are, as its politely put, “years away from functioning independently”; and the insurgency is spreading to new areas of the country and reviving in others.


Meanwhile, the money flowing into Washington political coffers from Wall Street, the military-industrial complex, the pharmaceutical and health care industries, real estate, legal firms, and the like might be thought of as a kind of drug in itself.  At the same time, according to USA Today , at least 158 retired generals and admirals, many already pulling in military pensions in the range of $100,000-$200,000, have been hired as “senior mentors” by the Pentagon “to offer advice under an unusual arrangement”:  they also work for companies seeking Defense Department contracts.  


Unfortunately, the most essential problem isn’t in Afghanistan; it’s here in the United States, in Washington, where knowledge is slim, egos large, and national security wisdom is deeply imprinted on a system bleeding money and breaking down.  The president campaigned on the slogan , “Change we can believe in.”  He then chose as advisors — in the economic sphere as well, where a similar record of gross error , narrow and unimaginative thinking, and over-identification with the powerful could easily be compiled — a crew who had never seen a significant change, or an out-of-the-ordinary thought it could live with — and still can’t. 

As a result, the Iraq War has yet to begin to go away, the Afghan War is being escalated in a major way, the Middle East is in some turmoil, Guantanamo remains open, black sites are still operating in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s budget has grown yet larger, and supplemental demands on Congress for yet more money to pay for George W. Bush’s wars will, despite promises otherwise, soon enough be made. 

As for Obama’s claims that he has a measured plan, and that we will be on schedule to begin removal of U.S. troops within two years, I am left with recollections of Churchill’s statement that one should “Never, never, never believe any war will be smooth and easy, or that anyone who embarks on the strange voyage can measure the tides and hurricanes he will encounter…” The idea that events will unfold as one plans them to within war strategy is near delusional.

Read The Complete Post from

Afghanistan: A Tragic Mistake

December 5th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Bob Herbert from The New York Times here lamenting the course of action this nation is being thrust into…

After going through an extended period of highly ritualized consultations and deliberations, the president has arrived at a decision that never was much in doubt, and that will prove to be a tragic mistake. It was also, for the president, the easier option.

It would have been much more difficult for Mr. Obama to look this troubled nation in the eye and explain why it is in our best interest to begin winding down the permanent state of warfare left to us by the Bush and Cheney regime. It would have taken real courage for the commander in chief to stop feeding our young troops into the relentless meat grinder of Afghanistan, to face up to the terrible toll the war is taking — on the troops themselves and in very insidious ways on the nation as a whole.

More soldiers committed suicide this year than in any year for which we have complete records. But the military is now able to meet its recruitment goals because the young men and women who are signing up can’t find jobs in civilian life. The United States is broken — school systems are deteriorating, the economy is in shambles, homelessness and poverty rates are expanding — yet we’re nation-building in Afghanistan, sending economically distressed young people over there by the tens of thousands at an annual cost of a million dollars each.

As a friend of mine responded in regards to the issues raised by Herbert….

One reason I voted for Obama was that he saw the Iraq fiasco for what it was. I was hoping that he would stand up to the M-I [military-industrial] complex. If that’s political suicide, so be it. Funny how when Ron Paul during the debates said the first thing he would do is withdraw our military from all over the world, not just the hot spots that no one reported it, even though he said it on national TV — was nowhere to be found in the newspapers the next day.

Folks decry the expansion of government into health care, environmental regulation and other areas — calling it socialism — yet fail to acknowledge that the M-I complex has hijacked our country, presumably, I suppose, because militarism is “patriotic,” but also because it comes down to whose ox is getting gored and whose bread is being buttered (Wow, my metaphors are out of control).

The Warfare State rolls on…

Read Herbert’s complete essay Here

Scott Ritter weighs in on the situation with his piece “McChrystal Doesn’t Get It — Does Obama?”

Thus the solution itself becomes the problem, thereby creating a never-ending circular conflict which has the United States expending more and more resources to resolve a situation that has nothing to do with the reality on the ground in Afghanistan, and everything to do with crafting a politically viable salve for what is in essence a massive self-inflicted wound. It is the proverbial dog chasing after its own tail, a frustrating experience made even more so by the fact that any massive commitment of troops brings with it the fatal attachment of national pride, individual hubris and, worst of all, the scourge of domestic American politics, so that by the time this dog bites its tail, it will be so blinded by artificialities that rather than recognize its mistake, it will instead proceed to consume itself. In the case of Afghanistan, our consumption will be measured in the lives of American servicemen and women, national treasure, national honor, and, of course the lives of countless Afghan dead and wounded.

Read The Full Article

Vietnam Vet, Scholar Andrew Bacevich: “The President Has Drawn the Wrong Lessons From His Understanding of the History of War”

December 3rd, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Some excerpts from this insightful interview with one of America’s more lucid scholars on the subject…

I would argue that today President Obama has been similarly ill-served by equally unimaginative advisers: people like National Security Advisor James Jones, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, all of whom I think adhere to an existing consensus with regard to national security policy, a consensus that was affirmed and strengthened as a consequence of the 9/11 attacks and which to the present moment, at least within Washington, among our leading politicians, has not been questioned despite the failures of the past eight or so years. And so when President Obama gets together with his equivalent of McGeorge Bundy and Robert McNamara, he gets presented with a range of options that basically say, Mr. President, you can do anything you want to do, here’s your choices: 10,000 more troops, 20,000 more troops, 30,000, or 40,000. They are unable to conceive of a basis for national security policy that does not involve the increased commitment of American military resources.

And amen that somebody is finally talking about this…

Well we now have a pretty well established tradition in this country and I regret this tradition deeply, a tradition of somebody of a president wishing to be seen as a commander-in-chief using American soldiers as props. I think it may have well been Ronald Reagan and was the first to initiate this practice. Every president since Ronald Reagan, regardless of party, has adhered to this practice. President Obama did last night. I think it’s showing disrespect to American soldiers to use them for political purposes and I wish that the politicians or the political advisors who arrange the sort of events would cease to do that.

Full interview text & video Here

Apocalypse Then, Afghanistan Now: Obama At The Precipice

October 29th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Excellent analysis here from William Astore, former educator at the U.S. Air Force Academy and the Naval Postgraduate School, as well as Tom Englehardt of

Here’s the thing: This may be our next “Vietnam moment,” but Afghanistan is no Vietnam: there are no major enemy powers like the Soviet Union and China lurking in the background; no organized enemy state with a powerful army like North Vietnam supporting the insurgents; no well organized, unified national liberation movement like the Vietcong, and that’s just a beginning. Almost everywhere, in fact, the Vietnam analogy breaks down — almost everywhere, that is, except when it comes to us. Because we never managed to leave Vietnam behind, even when we were proclaiming that we had kicked that “syndrome,” it turns out that we’re still there. Our military leaders, for instance, only recently dusted off the old Vietnam-era counterinsurgency doctrine that once ended in catastrophe, shined it up, and are now presenting it as an ingenious new solution to war-fighting. Let’s face it: everything about American thinking still stinks of the Vietnamese debacle, including the inability of our leaders to listen to a genuinely wide range of options.


It’s early in 1965, and President Lyndon B. Johnson faces a critical decision. Should he escalate in Vietnam? Should he say “yes” to the request from U.S. commanders for more troops? Or should he change strategy, downsize the American commitment, even withdraw completely, a decision that would help him focus on his top domestic priority, “The Great Society” he hopes to build?

We all know what happened. LBJ listened to the generals and foreign policy experts and escalated, with tragic consequences for the United States and calamitous results for the Vietnamese people on the receiving end of American firepower. Drawn deeper and deeper into Vietnam, LBJ would soon lose his way and eventually his will, refusing to run for reelection in 1968.

President Obama now stands at the edge of a similar precipice. Should he acquiesce to General Stanley A. McChrystal’s call for 40,000 to 60,000 or more U.S. troops for Afghanistan? Or should he pursue a new strategy, downsizing our commitment, even withdrawing completely, a decision that would help him focus on national health care, among his other top domestic priorities?

The die, I fear, is cast. In his “war of necessity,” Obama has evidently already ruled out even considering a “reduction” option , no less a withdrawal one, and will likely settle on an “escalate lite” program involving more troops (though not as many as McChrystal has urged), more American trainers for the Afghan army, and even a further escalation of the drone war over the Pakistani borderlands and new special operations actions.

By failing his first big test as commander-in-chief this way, Obama will likely ensure himself a one-term presidency, and someday be seen as a man like LBJ whose biggest dreams broke upon the shoals of an unwinnable war.


As Obama’s military experts wield their battlefield metrics and call for more force (to be used, of course, with ever greater precision and dexterity), I think Mailer might have replied: We think the only thing they understand is force. What if the only thing we understand is force?

Mailer, I have no doubt, would have had the courage to be seen as “weak” on defense, because he would have known that Americans had no dog in this particular fight. I think he would intuitively have recognized the wisdom of the great Chinese strategist Sun Tzu, who wrote more than 2,000 years ago in The Art of War that “to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill.” Our generals, by way of contrast, seem to want to fight those 100 battles with little hope of actually subduing the enemy.

Read The Full Text of this excellent essay

Historian Andrew Bacevich Warns Against Obama’s Escalation of War In Afghanistan

May 11th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

A must read/hear interview with conservative historian Andrew Bacevich, author of “The Limits of Power”, regarding what he considers the potentially tragic implications of the policies of the Obama administration in Afghanistan and the intensifying use of air power in the region.

Less than a week after US air strikes killed over a hundred Afghan civilians, President Obama’s top security adviser, General James Jones, said Sunday that the US will continue its strikes in Afghanistan, despite sharp criticism about rising civilian casualties from Afghan President Hamid Karzai. We speak to Boston University professor and retired military colonel Andrew Bacevich about why Obama’s plans in Afghanistan and Pakistan are counterproductive.

Read, Listen or Watch the interview Here

The War In Iraq

February 4th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast, Video

UnCommon Sense TV - “The War In Iraq” A look at the current state of our armed services and the toll that is being taken on our servicemen and women as deployment obligations increase due to the deepening hostilities in Iraq and the ever-widening ‘war on terror’. What impact does all of this have on future military readiness and our national security? What is the role of civilian ‘contractors’ in the military today? Will there be a resumption of the military draft? What is happening to veterans benefits and why are they being cut? Joining the discussion is Jeff Wellbaum, U.S. Army veteran of the war in Iraq who served as an Army Intelligence Analyst with the 3rd Brigade, 101st Airborne Division.

Bill Moyers On The Situation In Gaza

January 12th, 2009 by Andy in War In Iraq, Afghanistan & The Mideast

Glenn Greenwald posted this report by Bill Moyers regarding the situation in Gaza. Moyers is, once again, one of the few voices in the ‘mainstream media’ working on the national stage to ask some real questions and provide the kind of insight few others seem willing or able to do, unfortunately.

Well worth checking out for anyone aware and interested in this humanitarian disaster and the attempts to obscure or ignore the political responsibility for it.

Watch The Video

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