Afghanistan

The Fraud of War – Julia Harte

May 6, 2015

U.S. Army Specialist Stephanie Charboneau sat at the center of a complex trucking network in Forward Operating Base Fenty near the Afghanistan-Pakistan border that distributed daily tens of thousands of gallons of what troops called “liquid gold”: the refined petroleum that fueled the international coalition’s vehicles, planes, and generators. A prominent sign in the base read: “The Army Won’t Go If The Fuel Don’t Flow.” But Charboneau, 31, a mother of two from Washington state, felt alienated after a supervisor’s harsh rebuke. Her work was a dreary routine of recording fuel deliveries in a computer and escorting trucks past a gate. But it was soon to take a dark turn into high-value crime. She began an affair with a civilian, Jonathan Hightower, who worked for a Pentagon contractor that distributed fuel from Fenty, and one day in March 2010 he told her about “this thing going on” at other U.S. military bases around Afghanistan, she recalled in a recent telephone interview. Troops were selling the U.S. military’s fuel to Afghan locals on the side, and pocketing the proceeds. When Hightower suggested they start doing the same, Charboneau said, she agreed. Read

The new global arms race – Thomas Gaist

May 5, 2015

Since the 1980s, in an effort to maintain the position of unchallenged global primacy it achieved during and immediately following the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the US ruling elite has spearheaded a global arms race and militarization drive that now threatens to produce a third imperialist world war. After a superficial and short-lived drawdown during the “peace dividend” years of the 1990s, the US military’s expenditures have grown fantastically since the beginning of the 21st century, under the fraudulent banner of the “global war on terrorism.” Between 2000 and 2006 alone, the US Department of Defense budget rose from $300 billion to over $530 billion. As of 2014, official US military expenditures totaled $610 billion, or nearly 35 percent of total military spending globally. Taking into account the US military’s secret “black budget” and the various “contingency” funding packages for wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere, the real amount consumed every year by US militarism is closer to $1 trillion. These expenditures are necessary to fulfill the US government’s openly stated commitment to endless and total war. As reaffirmed in the Obama administration’s 2014 National Security Strategy document, the Pentagon is committed to safeguarding America’s status as “the world’s

Let’s Give Up Insanity and Try a Sane Approach in Dealing with the World – Joseph Clifford

May 4, 2015

Since 9/11 the US government has spent more than 1.5 trillion dollars on the War on Terror. Fourteen nations have been bombed or attacked by the US military, and we are no safer today than we were one day prior to 9/11. As a matter of fact, we are probably less safe with the world being torn apart by US bombs and the spreading of anarchy throughout the Middle East, yet the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same results. We have an insane policy of bloodletting and killing, thinking this will make the problem go away, but as any rational person knows the more people you kill the more enemies you create. Every time you kill someone with a drone bomb, you create 10 new enemies. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the onetime commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan, created the phrase “Insurgent Math” when he rightfully pointed out “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” Every rational person would probably agree with McChrystal’s assessment, but the US government doesn’t, and we continue to make the same mistakes of killing innocents and thinking we can “kill our way

The New York Times deploys to Nepal – For What Real Purpose? – Bill Van Auken

April 30, 2015

“First comes the missionary, then the soldier,” was an old maxim borne out by the bitter experience of a century of bloody colonial conquest in Africa, Asia and the Middle East. The missionaries are still at it, particularly in lands where souls can be bought most cheaply, but they hardly play the role allotted to them in the 19th century. A more modern version of this same epigram—better suited to the ongoing militarist drive by US imperialism for global domination—might substitute for missionary, “the man from the Times.” From the wars of aggression in Iraq and Afghanistan to the proxy war for regime change in Syria and the fascist-spearheaded coup in Ukraine, theNew York Times has dispatched its correspondents to produce the propaganda—in all of these cases involving fabrications and outright lies—needed by Washington to justify its predatory policies. In Iraq, America’s so-called “newspaper of record” was an invaluable partner of the Bush administration in dragging the American people into a criminal war of aggression that claimed the lives of roughly a million Iraqis, killed nearly 4,500 US troops and left an entire society in a state of devastation. The Times senior correspondent at the time, Judith Miller, used her intimate connections with US

A Psychedelic History of the CIA – JEFFREY ST. CLAIR and ALEXANDER COCKBURN

April 28, 2015

On June 17, 1999 the state of Texas put to death by lethal injection John Stanley Faulder, a Canadian who had been convicted in 1977 of murdering Inez Phillips, an oil heiress. Faulder’s case received more press attention than most executions these days, mainly because the Canadian government tried to intervene on his behalf and urged Texas governor George W. Bush to spare his life. Unmoved by arguments that after his arrest Faulder had been denied his right to consult with officials from the Canadian embassy, Bush sent him to the death chamber. What went entirely unmentioned by the American press was that 37 years ago Stanley Faulder had been the unwitting victim of medical experiments partially funded by the CIA. According to Faulder’s sister, Pat Nicholl, who lives in Jaspar, Alberta, “At 15 Stanley was arrested for stealing a watch and sent to a boys’ home for six months. At 17, another theft got him six months in jail. At 22 he was caught in a stolen car and sent to jail in New Westminster, B.C. for two years. There, he asked for psychiatric help and was put in an experimental drug program which involved doses of LSD”. Faulder

Helping Veterans with PTSD Using Yoga – Constance Scharff Ph.D.

April 21, 2015

We have come a long way in our efforts to treat PTSD and other psychological disorders. Some of the best information has come from veterans themselves. For example, after suffering from the 9/11 attack on the Pentagon, Army veteran John Thurman used his experience with yoga to help others, in a program that packs rooms. There are many complementary therapies that have shown great results in treating PTSD and other issues. With the number of veterans in need of these resources, it is important for healthcare professionals to put these resources to greater use. The Washington Post reports: Of the 2.3 million American veterans who returned from wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 20 percent suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, which often includes anxiety,depression, and hypervigilance, which means they feel always on guard. Read

What the Hell are We Doing in Yemen? – SHELDON RICHMAN

April 20, 2015

The U.S. government has charged into another civil war in the Middle East. When you find yourself repeatedly asking, “Will they ever learn?” the answer may be that the decision-makers have no incentive to do things differently. What looks like failure may be the intended outcome. Quagmires have their benefits — to the ruling elite — if American casualties are minimized. The Obama administration is assisting Saudi Arabia in its bombing of Yemen, creating — in concert with the Saudi embargo — a humanitarian catastrophe in the Middle East’s poorest country. Civilians are dying, and what infrastructure the country has is being destroyed. Why? Secretary of State John Kerry says the United States won’t “stand by while the region is destabilized.” Kerry is a veteran, and presumably a student, of America’s Indochina war. So he must know that bombing is a terrible way to prevent destabilization. Kerry isn’t stupid — but that means he’s a liar and a demagogue. Note that he says “the region,” not “Yemen.” Why would a civil war in Yemen affect the region? Because according to the official narrative, faithfully carried by most of the news media, Yemen is under siege by agents of Iran, the Houthis. Iran

Beyond Blackwater Massacre, Renewed Concern Over Rise of Mercenary Armies – Lauren McCauley

April 17, 2015

Following the sentencing of four private security guards convicted in the notorious 2007 massacre of innocent Iraqi civilians, attention has shifted to the growing role such private mercenaries are having on battlefields throughout the world. On Monday, three former employees of Blackwater Worldwide were given thirty-year prison sentences while one guard, Nicholas Slatten, who fired the first shot, was sentenced to life in prison for a shooting spree which resulted in the deaths of 14 Iraqi civilians in Nissour Square. The accused say they will appeal. In a statement on Tuesday, human rights expert Elzbieta Karska, chair of the United Nations working group on the use of mercenaries, said that while the group welcomed the sentencing, such examples of accountability are the “exception rather than the rule.” “The outsourcing of national security to private firms creates risks for human rights and accountability,” Karska said. The UN is calling for an international treaty to “address the increasingly significant role that private military companies play in transnational conflicts.” Critics of the military industrial complex have long-warned about the difficulties of holding private security firms accountable for rights violations in foreign war zones. As Karska notes, these four Blackwater security guards are merely the tip of the

New Silk Road Meets Eurasian Union – Pepe Escobar

April 15, 2015

Any — exceptionalist — wishful thinking that Russia and China will abandon their solid “win-win” strategic partnership, fully crafted to their mutual national interests, was dispelled by a crucial visit to Moscow by Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi. In Moscow, Wang stressed both Russia’s Look East policy and China’s Go West — which essentially encompass the massive New Silk Road(s) project — “have created historic opportunities for docking the two countries’ development strategies.” And fully “docked” they are. Russia’s Look East strategy is not only about China. It’s as much about Eurasian integration as China’s New Silk Roads — as Moscow needs Asia-Pacific to develop Eastern Siberia and the Russian Far East. The always-evolving strategic partnership is not only about energy — including the possibility of Chinese-controlled stakes in crucial Russian oil and gas projects — as well as the defense industry; it’s increasingly about investment, banking, finance and high technology. The partnership’s reach is extremely wide, from Russia-China cooperation within the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to the Russia-China stake in the new BRICS development bank, and to Russian support to the Chinese-led Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) and the Silk Road Foundation. Beijing and Moscow, along with the other BRICS nations,

The Burden of Denial

April 10, 2015

It occurred to me the other day that quite a few of the odder features of contemporary American culture make perfect sense if you assume that everybody knows exactly what’s wrong and what’s coming as our society rushes, pedal to the metal, toward its face-first collision with the brick wall of the future. It’s not that they don’t get it; they get it all too clearly, and they just wish that those of us on the fringes would quit reminding them of the imminent impact, so they can spend whatever time they’ve got left in as close to a state of blissful indifference as they can possibly manage. I grant that this realization probably had a lot to do with the context in which it came to me. I was sitting in a restaurant, as it happens, with a vanload of fellow Freemasons.  We’d carpooled down to Baltimore, some of us to receive one of the higher degrees of Masonry and the rest to help with the ritual work, and we stopped for dinner on the way back home. I’ll spare you the name of the place we went; it was one of those currently fashionable beer-and-burger joints where the waitresses
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