Iraq

US officials leak information about the ISIS raid that’s more sensitive than anything Snowden ever leaked – Trevor Timm

May 20, 2015

Over the weekend, the US government announced that special forces soldiersentered Syria to conduct a raid that killed an alleged leader of ISIS, Abu Sayyaf. In the process, anonymous US officials leaked classified information to the New York Times that’s much more sensitive than anything Edward Snowden ever revealed, and it serves as a prime example of the government’s hypocrisy when it comes to disclosures of secret information. Here’s how the New York Times described how the US conducted this “successful” raid: The raid came after weeks of surveillance of Abu Sayyaf, using information gleaned from a small but growing network of informants the C.I.A. and the Pentagon have painstakingly developed in Syria, as well as satellite imagery, drone reconnaissance and electronic eavesdropping, American officials said. The White House rejected initial reports from the region that attributed the raid to the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria. Read

The American Military Uncontained – William J. Astore

May 18, 2015

It’s 1990. I’m a young captain in the U.S. Air Force.  I’ve just witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, something I never thought I’d see, short of a third world war.  Right now I’m witnessing the slow death of the Soviet Union, without the accompanying nuclear Armageddon so many feared.  Still, I’m slightly nervous as my military gears up for an unexpected new campaign, Operation Desert Shield/Storm, to expel Iraqi autocrat Saddam Hussein’s military from Kuwait.  It’s a confusing moment.  After all, the Soviet Union was forever (until it wasn’t) and Saddam had been a stalwart U.S. friend, his country a bulwark against the Iran of the Ayatollahs.  (For anyone who doubts that history, just check out the now-infamous 1983 photo of Donald Rumsfeld, then special envoy for President Reagan, all smiles and shaking hands with Saddam in Baghdad.)  Still, whatever my anxieties, the Soviet Union collapsed without a whimper and the campaign against Saddam’s battle-tested forces proved to be a “cakewalk,” with ground combat over in a mere 100 hours. Think of it as the trifecta moment: Vietnam syndrome vanquished forever, Saddam’s army destroyed, and the U.S. left standing as the planet’s “sole superpower.” Post-Desert Storm, the military of which I was

Failing to Hide Israel-Iran-Iraq Secrets – Robert Parry

May 12, 2015

By recently releasing a redacted version of top secret “talking points” that Secretary of State Alexander Haig used to brief President Ronald Reagan about Mideast developments in spring 1981, the U.S. government has inadvertently revealed what it still wants to hide from the public some 34 years later – because I found the full version in congressional files in late 1994 and first wrote about it in early 1996. The key points that the U.S. government still doesn’t want you to know include that in early 1981 Israel already was supplying U.S. military equipment to Iran for its war with Iraq; that the Saudis had conveyed a “green light” supposedly from President Jimmy Carter to Saddam Hussein to invade Iran in 1980; and that the Saudis agreed to finance arms sales to Pakistan and other states in the region. All three points have relevance today because they reveal the early seeds of policies that have grown over the past three decades into the twisted vines of today’s bloody conflicts. The still-hidden sections of Haig’s “talking points” also could cause some embarrassment to the nations mentioned. For instance, the Israelis like to present their current hostility toward Iran as derived from a principled opposition to the supposed

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

Darkness in the Morning: American Policy in the Middle East – JOSEPH GROSSO

April 29, 2015

In one way, since the end of the Second World War, when the U.S. assumed its role as the leading global hegemon, American policy towards the Middle East has resembled a damaged pinball machine gone tilt. There was the CIA led 1953 coup against Iran’s democratically elected Prime Minister Mohammad Mosaddeq, whose sin was nationalizing the British Anglo-Iranian Oil Company, that resulted in the reinstallation of Shah Mohammad Reza Pahlavi. When the ghastly Shah regime finally fell decades later and Iran was soon after at war and Washington’s tilt away from Iran was towards Iraq, of course ruled by none other than Saddam Hussein (his Baath Party’s coup in 1963 also was helped along by the CIA), this tilt coinciding with the worst of Hussein’s atrocities, including the use of chemical weapons against Iranian soldiers (U.S. intelligence provided imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements) and the Kurds. A few years later Hussein overstepped his bounds by seizing Kuwait, perhaps due to misreading shady diplomatic signals -then American ambassador to Iraq April Glaspie was quoted as telling Hussein ‘We understand that and our opinion is that you should have the opportunity to rebuild your country. But we have no opinion

The Kingpin Strategy – Andrew Cockburn

April 29, 2015

As the war on terror nears its 14th anniversary — a war we seem to be losing, given jihadist advances in Iraq, Syria, and Yemen — the U.S. sticks stolidly to its strategy of “high-value targeting,” our preferred euphemism for assassination.  Secretary of State John Kerry has proudly cited the elimination of “fifty percent” of the Islamic State’s “top commanders” as a recent indication of progress. Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi himself, “Caliph” of the Islamic State, was reportedly seriously wounded in a March airstrike and thereby removed from day-to-day control of the organization. In January, as the White House belatedly admitted, a strike targeting al-Qaeda leadership in Pakistan also managed to kill an American, Warren Weinstein, and his fellow hostage, Giovanni Lo Porto. More recently in Yemen, even as al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula took control of a key airport, an American drone strike killed Ibrahim Suleiman al-Rubaish, allegedly an important figure in the group’s hierarchy.  Meanwhile, the Saudi news channel al-Arabiya has featured a deck of cards bearing pictures of that country’s principal enemies in Yemen in emulation of the infamous cards issued by the U.S. military prior to the 2003 invasion of Iraq as an aid to targeting its leaders.  (Saddam Hussein was the ace

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

America Being Crushed by a Mountain of Escalating Debt

April 7, 2015

America, without question, is drowning in a sea of debt, barely holding its head above water. There is the massive national debt of the U.S. government, personal/consumer debt, student debt, and an increasing number of U.S. cities and states that are in debt over their heads. America is literally destroying itself by the monumental debt that we as a nation, government and society have incurred. We are being consumed by this ever-escalating debt running rampant throughout this country. And we seem to be totally incapable of addressing the underlying problems and finding the ways to bring this situation under control. Massive debt is a destructive force, one that once it gains momentum is almost impossible to bring under control. When we use the word destroying to describe what debt is doing to America we can also use the word killing, in that debt kills creativity, innovation, and constructive endeavors. There is a complete lack of funding available for new, revolutionary initiatives for which America once was known and greatly respected. This country’s national debt has escalated from $5.7 trillion in the year 2000 to the current staggering amount of $18.2. That’s an increase of some 319% in just 14 years;

War With Iran, by the Numbers

April 2, 2015

Sen. John McCain and others on the American Right are in favor of dropping those pesky negotiations with Iran and just bombing their nuclear enrichment sites.  Doing so, however, would only set them back a year or so, and would certainly put Iran on a war footing with the USA.  Those who think such bombing runs would be the end of the story, however, are fooling themselves.  Bombing Iraq in 1991 and the no-fly zone had a lot to do with taking the USA down the path to a ground war in 2003.  Bombing now will almost certainly lead to a similar ground war. Iran is 2.5 times more populous than Iraq and much bigger geographically.  It is likely that Iran war numbers would be three times those of Iraq, at least. Casualties from a strike on Bushehr NuclearPlant:  Hundreds of thousands. Likely US troop deaths:  15,000 Likely US troops lightly injured:  270,000 Read

Body Count Report Reveals At Least 1.3 Million Lives Lost to US-Led War on Terror

March 30, 2015

How do you calculate the human costs of the U.S.-led War on Terror? On the 12th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, groups of physicians attempted to arrive at a partial answer to this question by counting the dead. In their joint report— Body Count: Casualty Figures after 10 Years of the ‘War on Terror—Physicians for Social Responsibility, Physicians for Global Survival, and the Nobel Prize-winning International Physicians for the Prevention of Nuclear War concluded that this number is staggering, with at least 1.3 million lives lost in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan alone since the onset of the war following September 11, 2001. Read More
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