Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

America’s Mercenary Wars

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2023

In such terms, Scahill shows, men with no military experience talked tough after the debacle of 9/11. Malcolm Nance, a career Navy counterterrorist expert, described Cofer Black and his ilk as “civilian ideologues” who embraced “Tom Clancy Combat Concepts [of ] going hard, … popping people on the streets, … dagger and intrigue all the time” (58). These ideologues found like-minded men within the US military establishment. Special Ops legend Maj. Gen. William “Jerry” Boykin, for example, rejected the criterion of actionable intelligence and boasted “Give me action. I will give you intelligence” (99).

by William J. Astore

A very useful and informative site, Michigan War Studies Review, recently stopped publishing book reviews after 18 years. The site’s editor, James Holoka, posted several reviews written by yours truly, including this one in 2013 on Jeremy Scahill’s book, Dirty Wars.

The idea that “the world is a battlefield” grows ever stronger in America. As disastrous as America’s wars with Iraq and Afghanistan proved to be, together with the whole idea of a “global war on terror,” it will be far worse if America ends up fighting Russia or China in a “new cold/hot war.”

Review of “Dirty Wars,” posted originally on 11/11/2013

Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill is best known for his exposé of the private military contractor Blackwater USA (later Blackwater Worldwide, still later Academi). [1] In his latest book, he considers the “dirty wars” that the United States has been fighting as part of its “global war on terror,” not only in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also in Somalia and Yemen. As national security correspondent for The Nation , Scahill has reported from the front lines and interviewed hundreds of participants. [2] In a detailed and episodic account spanning fifty-seven chapters, he traces the evolution of US anti-terrorism policies and actions, especially the rise of the Joint Special Operations Command after the 9/11 attacks, and their effect on the life and beliefs of Anwar al Awlaki, the American imam killed on 30 September 2011 in a drone strike authorized by President Barack Obama.

Scahill begins by recounting the targeted assassination of Awlaki’s sixteen-year-old son, Abdulrahman, also an American citizen, via drone attack on 14 October 2011. Neither father nor son had been formally charged with any crime. Only in May 2013 did the Obama administration admit to the killing of four American citizens, including the Awlakis, by drone strikes; Attorney General Eric Holder called the slaying of Anwar al Awlaki “lawful,” “considered,” and “just.” [3]

What are we to make of a government that assassinates its own citizens overseas without due legal process? That is the key question for Scahill. His answer is troubling, pointing to clear abuses of presidential authority and violations of constitutional protections.

Dirty Wars is most original in its detailed exposition of Anwar al Awlaki’s life and beliefs and his transformation from reasonable commentator on Islam, sought out after 9/11 by US media and military as a knowledgeable moderate, to radical exponent of jihad against America. Scahill argues that the US government’s overly aggressive approach to the Muslim world, including the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques” (code for torture), “extraordinary rendition” (i.e., kidnapping), and drone strikes that inflicted “collateral damage” (killed innocents), is perpetuating the very terror it claims to want to end.

The author sets himself to tell “the story of the expansion of covert US wars, the abuse of executive privilege and state secrets, the embrace of unaccountable elite military units that answer only to the White House … [and] the continuity of a mindset that ‘the world is a battlefield’ from Republican to Democratic administrations” (xxiii). A documentary film [4] furthering his thesis was released concurrently with the book. [5]

See the rest here

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