MCViewPoint

Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Afghanistan’

Congress Plays Hardball to Keep American Troops Overseas | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on July 10, 2020

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) have proposed barring the use of funds to remove any troops. That is, at a time of budget crisis they want to keep more U.S. money flowing into Germany, rewarding a government dedicated to focus on its economy and society while expecting Americans to do the military defending.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/congress-should-serve-americans/

The U.S. should not prop up NATO allies who are unwilling to invest in their own defense.

The Europeans collectively have 11 times the GDP and three times the population of Russia. Germany has the world’s fourth largest economy, alone two and a half times the size of Russia’s.

Yet the Europeans affect to be helpless, vulnerable to attack by a revived Red Army. No European government spends much more than two percent of GDP on the military, not even the Baltic States and Poland, which squeal the most frequently and loudly about evil hordes massing just over the border. At least France and Great Britain have competent forces, though not directed at Moscow. Germany devotes just 1.38 percent of its GDP to a military far from battle-ready. Italy and Spain barely bother to maintain armed forces. And then there are nations like Luxembourg.

So why is it America’s responsibility to protect countries well able to defend themselves but not interested in doing so? Worse, why are U.S. policymakers constantly reassuring the Europeans that no matter how little they do Washington will always be there, ready to save them? Why have lawmakers, elected to represent the American people, turned NATO into a defense dole for what Ronald Reagan today might call foreign welfare queens?

To his credit, President Donald Trump has sharply criticized allies which prefer to leave the heavy lifting to Washington. Alas, his methods are dubious and have had little effect. Their small increases in military spending began before he was elected. His officials have thwarted his policies by increasing U.S. support for NATO, even expanding the alliance to such military behemoths as Montenegro and North Macedonia.

Most bizarre is Congress’s determination to always stand with European officials, who, in sharp contrast, put their own nations first. Legislators constantly ignore the plight of American taxpayers, who are expected to keep funding prosperous, populous allies which believe they have better things to do than enlarging and improving their militaries. Like preserving largescale social welfare programs at U.S. expense.

For instance, the president’s determination to pull 9500 U.S. personnel out of Germany caused congressmen, Republicans and Democrats alike, to go, well, completely nuts. In their view the president was inviting Vladimir Putin to invade Europe and conquer most of the known world. They imagined that a new Dark Ages was descending, the world was about to end, and the lion was poised to eat the lamb.

So, naturally, leading lawmakers are scheming to block the move, in order to ensure that the Europeans need never be bothered to take care of themselves. Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) and Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Tex.) have proposed barring the use of funds to remove any troops. That is, at a time of budget crisis they want to keep more U.S. money flowing into Germany, rewarding a government dedicated to focus on its economy and society while expecting Americans to do the military defending.

Who do Romney and Thornberry believe they are representing? Why do they care more about German than American taxpayers?

Republicans also are taking the lead in the Democratic-controlled House to sacrifice American interests for foreign governments. For instance, Rep. Liz Cheney (R-Wyoming), daughter of “I had other priorities” Dick Cheney, who avoided serving in Vietnam before plotting numerous wars for today’s young, backed a Democratic proposal to limit further withdrawals from Afghanistan, where Americans have been engaged in a nearly 20-year nation-building mission. The measure passed by a 45 to 11 vote: members of both countries seem determined to keep Americans forever fighting in Central Asia. They care more for the corrupt, incompetent regime in Kabul than America service members and taxpayers. In contrast, the president, despite his halting, inconsistent policy, better represents this nation’s interests.

The opposition to the president’s plan for getting out of Afghanistan was modest compared to the hysteria that consumed Washington when he ordered U.S. forces home from Syria. Unsurprisingly, though unfortunately, legislators took the lead in opposing his plan to focus on the interests of Americans.

For instance, Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Ill) complained that Trump’s refusal to keep the U.S. forever entangled in another nation’s civil war, tragic but irrelevant to American security, was “weak.” Sen. Minority Leader Charles Schumer (D-NY) pushed a resolution criticizing the president. Majority Leader Mitch McConnell issued the standard yet mindless response to every proposal to disengage from anywhere: the president should “exercise American leadership.” House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Eliot Engel, apparently (and thankfully) defeated in the recent primary by a young progressive, similarly complained that “At President Trump’s hands, American leadership has been laid low.” For all of them, “American leadership” apparently requires engaging in perpetual war on behalf of foreign governments and interests, irrespective of the human and financial cost to this nation.

It is hard to imagine a deployment more antithetical to U.S. security. In Syria Americans are occupying a foreign nation, expected to oust the incumbent government, fight jihadists created by Washington’s invasion of the country next door, force out personnel from Iran and Russia invited in by the legitimate government to battle insurgents supported by the U.S., and forever protect ethnic fighters considered to be an existential threat by the neighboring state, a NATO ally. All this is to be done through an illegal intervention, lacking both domestic and international legal authority. Yet the congressmen so determined to block the president are unwilling to commit themselves and vote to authorize the deployment. Apparently they fear having to justify their bizarre behavior to their constituents who are paying the price of their perverted priorities. A cynic might think U.S. legislators to be both policy morons and political cowards.

Congress has similarly sought to inhibit any effort by the president to withdraw troops from South Korea. Last year’s National Defense Authorization Act set a floor for U.S. troop deployments in the Republic of Korea. The 2020 NDAA raised the number, essentially prohibiting any reduction in current deployments. According to Congress, the Pentagon must forever provide a specific level of military welfare for one of the world’s most prosperous and industrialized states.

Americans should ask when legislators will be as solicitous of American military personnel and taxpayers as of the ROK government. The South enjoys roughly 53 times the economic strength and twice the population of North Korea. If Seoul needs more troops for its defense, why doesn’t it raise them? Why are Americans expected to pay for what South Koreans should be doing?

Of course, the president is not innocent of the temptation to do the bidding of foreign leaders instead of the American people. He appears to be in essentially full thrall of several foreign dictators and other master manipulators, including Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Egypt’s Abdel Fattah al-Sisi, Israel’s Benjamin Netanyahu, and Saudi Arabia’s Mohamed bin Salman.

In the last case Congress has taken the unusual stance of challenging the president for his unnatural obeisance to a foreign ruler. The U.S. continues to arm and assist the Saudi royals in their murderous campaign of aggression against their neighbor, Yemen, in order to reinstall a pliant regime prepared to carry out Saudi policy. The war has resulted in a humanitarian catastrophe in what already was one of the world’s poorest nations. The Saudi intervention also triggered a sectarian war, giving Iran an excellent opportunity to bleed the ineffective Saudi military, which has proved to be competent at little more than bombing weddings and funerals, destroying apartments and markets, and slaughtering civilians. It is difficult to imagine an intervention more antithetical to American interests. Here, unusually, Congress is on the right side.

Candidate George W. Bush advocated a “humble foreign policy,” a position he forgot after 9/11. Instead, he decided to try to reorder the world, determined to create a liberal, modern state in Central Asia and turn Iraq into the sort of de facto colony that Neoconservatives imagined a proper Arab nation should be. The result was little short of a catastrophe.

The next president should turn genuine humility into policy. And challenge Congress to abandon its pretensions of global social engineering, ignoring differences in history, interest, geography, religion, ethnicity, culture, and more. Instead of playacting as 535 secretaries of state, legislators should focus on protecting America, its territory, population, prosperity, and liberties.

A good starting point would be to stop treating the Defense Department as another welfare agency, only for foreign governments. America’s wealthy friends should do what serious nations have down throughout history: defend themselves.

Doug Bandow is a Senior Fellow at the Cato Institute. A former Special Assistant to President Ronald Reagan, he is author of Foreign Follies: America’s New Global Empire.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Russian Bounties Hoax | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on July 4, 2020

Well the entire country is awash in American cash as well as every
form of black market in drugs, guns, prostitution and the rest. The U.S.
itself has been paying the Taliban since 2005 or 2006 literally
billions of dollars in protection money for convoys of U.S. supplies in
the country. There’s even a whole book devoted to that subject called Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban by
Douglas Wissing. They then spend that money buying American weapons,
night-vision equipment and even Humvees from the Afghan Army the U.S.
has built there.

It is not as though anyone in the ME needs to be bribed to kill Americans.

We invaded the country 20 years ago because Saudi Arabia burned down the world trade center. For some reason the Afghans don’t like 20 years of violent occupation.

Correction: The US used that as an excuse to exercise the plan of control of ME oil and oil pipelines.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-russian-bounties-hoax/

by

Img 8979

There’s no reason for you to accept the story about the Russian military paying Afghan militants to kill American troops in Afghanistan. The New York TimesWall Street Journal and Washington Post all started this controversy late last week with incredibly thin stories. They did not even pretend to claim that it was true the Russians had put bounties on U.S. troops, only that they had anonymous sources who claimed there was a government report somewhere that said that. They were reporting the “fact” that there was a rumor.

They wouldn’t even say which agencies were leaking the story. All we were told was the story came from “intelligence officials” or even “people familiar” with the story.

They did not cite any evidence and did not claim to connect the rumored bounties to the deaths of any particular American soldiers or marines.

All three stories were written in language conceding they did not know if the story was true. The Times wrote this “would be an escalation,” “officials have said,” “it would be the first time,” and again, “would also be a huge escalation.” [Emphasis added.] (“Escalation” of what? Russia’s global dark arts war against American interests which also happens to only exist in the form of claims of anonymous government officials.)

The New York Times follow-up story was still very thin. Again, the extremely vague “intelligence officials” and now the extremely broad “special operations forces,” who are not intelligence officials, are their claimed sources. They do not cite the CIA, who refused to comment.

The sources claim that the intelligence report says that captured “militants”—again deliberately vague—were caught with some American cash and later admitted to Afghan National Security Force interrogators that they had been paid these Russian bounties.

Well the entire country is awash in American cash as well as every form of black market in drugs, guns, prostitution and the rest. The U.S. itself has been paying the Taliban since 2005 or 2006 literally billions of dollars in protection money for convoys of U.S. supplies in the country. There’s even a whole book devoted to that subject called Funding the Enemy: How US Taxpayers Bankroll the Taliban by Douglas Wissing. They then spend that money buying American weapons, night-vision equipment and even Humvees from the Afghan Army the U.S. has built there.

Of course the Afghan government has a huge interest in perpetuating such tales as these, whether they tortured these statements out of these prisoners or not. They want desperately for U.S. forces to stay to protect their power. If making up a story about Russia and the Taliban could undermine the Trump administration’s peace talks with the Taliban, then they just might do that.

Remember, just in this century, America’s intelligence agencies have lied about Iraq’s unconventional weapons and alliance with Osama bin Laden, Libya’s impending genocide, Syria’s “moderate rebel” bin Ladenite terrorists and false-flag chemical weapons attacks, and most recently the massive hoax that Donald Trump was a brainwashed, blackmailed secret agent of Putin’s Kremlin who had conspired with Russia to usurp Hillary Clinton’s rightful throne in the 2016 election. They’re liars.

After all we’ve been through, we’re supposed to give anonymous “intelligence officials” in the New York Times the benefit of the doubt on something like this? I don’t think so.

The Wall Street Journal conceded yesterday that the National Security Agency is dissenting from the conclusion about the bounties, though of course not saying why. However, just the fact that they put that in the paper seems to signal a very strong dissent from the conclusion and the media and political war that is being waged in the name of it. The Pentagon also said on Monday it has not seen “corroborating evidence” to support the claims.

Current reports are that the supposed events all happened last year. This raises major questions why the story was leaked to the three most important newspapers in the country in the way that it was last week. The national security state has done everything they can to keep the U.S. involved in that war, successfully badgering Obama and Trump both into expanding it against their better judgement. If Trump had listened to his former Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, we’d be on year three of an escalation with plans to begin talks with the Taliban next year. Instead, Trump talked to them for the last year-and-a-half and has already signed a deal to have us out by the end of next May.

The national security state also has a continuing interest in preventing Trump from “getting along with Russia.” Anything they can do to advance the tired debunked old narrative that Trump puts Russian interests before America’s, they will. Of course that is the story TV is pushing again this week. (I am not a Trump supporter. But lies are lies and his position on Afghanistan is now correct.)

Before this supposed story broke last week, Sen. Angus King, the Democrat, was already complaining about Trump’s plans for a “precipitous” and “hasty” withdrawal from Afghanistan, after two decades—a withdrawal planned for completion another year from now. Shocking but not surprising, as they say.

What interest might Russia have in doing this?

It’s America who switched sides in the Afghan war, not Russia. They have supported the U.S. effort and U.S.-created government in Kabul since 2001. In 2012, when the Pakistanis closed the “southern route” from Karachi through the Khyber Pass, Russia re-opened the “northern route” through their country to allow American supplies into Afghanistan for Obama’s “surge.” They have sent arms to the Afghan National Army. To get around their own sanctions, the U.S. has even had India buy helicopters from the Russians to give to the Afghan government.

There’s no question they are talking to the Taliban. But so are we.

There were claims in 2017 that Russia was arming and paying the Taliban, but then the generals admitted to Congress they had no evidence of either. In a humiliating debacle, also in 2017, CNN claimed a big scoop about Putin’s support for the Taliban when furnished with some photos of Taliban fighters with old Russian weapons. The military veteran journalists at Task and Purpose quickly debunked every claim in their piece.

Let’s say hypothetically that the story was true: The simplest explanation for Russia’s motive then would be that they were trying to provoke exactly the reaction they have gotten, which is renewed pressure on Trump to back out of the withdrawal deal with the Taliban since his political enemies will spin it as a “win” for Russia if we leave. But why would Russia want to provoke America to stay in Afghanistan? Could it be for the same reason that Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan backed the mujahideen against the USSR back in the 70s and 80s—to provoke them into committing national suicide by bogging them down in a no-win quagmire, killing hundreds of thousands of people and wasting uncountable billions of dollars?

So what would that say about our policy now?

Of course that’s all nonsense too. The reason the Russians have supported our efforts in Afghanistan for the last 19 years is because we’re protecting their friends in power and at least supposedly have been fighting to keep transnational Islamist terrorism at bay. If they are backing the Taliban at all now it would be just a small version of their own “Awakening” policy of supporting the local mujahideen against the new smaller and more radical groups claiming loyalty to ISIS there, since the Taliban have been their most effective opponents.

This is not much different than the current American policy which prioritizes the Taliban’s keeping ISIS and al Qaeda down and out for us.

Of course it’s America’s (dis)loyal Saudi and Pakistani allies who have been backing the Afghan Taliban insurgency against the U.S. occupation all these years, not the Russians.

Afghanistan will probably be mired in protracted conflict for years after U.S. forces finally leave, though hopefully all sides are tired enough of fighting now that they can negotiate acceptable power-sharing arrangements instead. If the pressure is bad enough that Trump renounces his own deal, the Taliban will almost certainly go back to war against U.S. forces there. That is not likely to happen though.

As far as America’s relationship with Russia—the single most important thing in the world for all people—this is just another setback on the road to a peaceful and acceptable coexistence.

 

Be seeing you

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Trump Deserves Credit for Bringing the Troops Home | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on June 15, 2020

But today, give credit where credit is due. Trump, the disrupter, is right to bring the troops home. And I say don’t stop until we once again have a military whose primary job is to defend America.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/trump-deserves-credit-for-bringing-the-troops-home/

Home/Articles/Politics/Trump Deserves Credit for Bringing the Troops Home

Initiating withdrawals from Afghanistan and Germany is a good step and one he should follow up on.

 

In 1988, a certain congressman from Texas ran for president on a platform of bringing home our troops from around the world. Even then, more than 30 years ago, U.S. troops were in over 100 countries, and tens of thousands were still in Europe.

That Texas congressman was my father, Ron Paul, who 20 years later ran again for the presidency and was still calling “to begin bringing American troops home from around the world—an absolute necessity if the budget is ever to be brought under control. We’re going broke and we still have 75,000 troops in Germany?”

In his best-selling book The Revolution, my father wrote: “We can either withdraw gracefully, as I propose, or we can stay in our fantasy world and wait until bankruptcy forces us to scale back our foreign commitments.”

This week, President Trump called for a modest reduction of American troops in Germany, reducing them from 34,500 to 25,000 (a great start that will hopefully lead to further reductions there). The Republican neocon caucus responded exactly as you would expect. You’d think the Berlin Wall was still in place and two million Russians were about to invade Germany. Utter nonsense.

With the Cold War now 30 years moribund, the hysteria over removing troops is ludicrous. Meanwhile the very real threat of bankruptcy and menacing debt grows each day. Just this year, the United States will add $4 trillion to the national debt. Can the Germans afford to defend themselves? Without question. Germany actually balances its annual budget every year.

Yet the U.S. still has about 170,000 troops in about 150 countries at great expense in both lives and treasure. Often that puts our soldiers on the front lines of civil wars whose origins we barely even comprehend. The U.S. also becomes allied with governments, such as Saudi Arabia, that are barbaric, despotic, and anti-American. And yet the cycle continues because the war caucus vows to never, ever let our troops come home.

President Trump is also advocating ending our nation’s longest war in Afghanistan. It couldn’t happen soon enough. The American taxpayer is paying $50 billion a year to build roads and bridges in that country, while our own nation’s infrastructure crumbles.

President Trump has also discussed having fewer troops in South Korea, and has actually forced Seoul to pay more for our presence. Possibly the best aspect of the Trump presidency, though, has been his willingness to challenge the bipartisan neoconservative consensus on forever war.

Yet critics, including myself, will admit the Trump presidency has not always practiced what it’s preached here. While Trump has consistently advocated for fewer troops in Europe, he has re-introduced U.S. troops into Saudi Arabia, a mistake that eventually will lead to more war or terrorism or both.

But today, give credit where credit is due. Trump, the disrupter, is right to bring the troops home. And I say don’t stop until we once again have a military whose primary job is to defend America.

Rand Paul is a Republican senator from Kentucky.

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Time To Pull the Troops From NATO: What Good Is an Alliance Full of Cheap-Riders? – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 8, 2020

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

https://original.antiwar.com/doug-bandow/2020/06/07/time-to-pull-the-troops-from-nato-what-good-is-an-alliance-full-of-cheap-riders/

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S troops from Germany by September. He also set a firm cap of 25,000, instead of allowing the number to swell to 52,000 as units rotate through or deploy for training.

It is a good start. But why did it take him more than three years to act on his criticism of allied cheap-riding on America? And what about the other 25,000 American military personnel in Germany?

Even after the US economy shut down and federal finances cratered, Washington’s foreign policy elite were seeking to add new international duties for Uncle Sam. America and China are teetering on a new cold war, which could turn hot in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is said, Washington must bolster its military alliances, security guarantees, and naval deployments.

Members of the Blob, as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been called, continue to ferociously oppose the slightest withdrawal from the Middle East. America must fix Syria by confronting the Assad government, ISIS, other Islamist radicals, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The US certainly cannot leave Iraq, irrespective of the wish of Iraqis. And America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, in the heart of Central Asia surrounded by Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, should be accepted as the start of a beautiful permanent commitment. As the Eagles declared in their famous song Hotel California, Washington can never leave-from anywhere.

Finally, the US must increase troop deployments, naval dispositions, and financial assistance not only to NATO members, but alliance wannabe joiners Georgia and Ukraine. Forget the supposedly frontline states of the Baltics and Poland. America must bolster the southern front lest Russia solidify its dominance in the Black Sea and add a base in Syria and another in Libya, analysts warned at a recent forum organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis. Just another step or two and the Mediterranean Sea could become Moscow’s Mare Nostrum, like for the old Roman Empire. Russia then might seek control the Atlantic and perhaps even invade Washington, D.C., following in Britain’s footsteps a couple centuries ago. Or something like that.

The attempt to constantly ensnare America in other nations’ conflicts is foolish, even reckless. First, the US has never been more secure. Its geographic position remains unassailable: large oceans east and west, pacific neighbors north and south. No power threatens to breach that perimeter. America’s navy deploys 11 carrier groups, compared to two carriers by China and one by Russia. The US air force easily secures American airspace, or at least would do so if much of it wasn’t deployed overseas. Only nuclear-tipped missiles pose a serious threat, but America’s arsenal vastly outranges that of every country other than Russia, and the latter would be annihilated in return if it struck the US

Terrorism remains an ugly threat, but mostly against Americans overseas. And it is largely self-inflicted, the consequence of Washington’s promiscuous foreign intervention: bombing, invading, and occupying other states, such as Iraq; taking sides in bitter conflicts of no concern to the US, such as Lebanon’s civil war; supporting brutal dictatorships as in Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; and backing nations which occupy and oppress minority populations, most notably Israel. Alas, Washington continues to unnecessarily create additional enemies every day.

Americans should not be surprised if some day angry Yemenis use terrorist methods to strike back against the US, which sold and serviced aircraft used by Saudi Arabia to wreck Yemeni cities, provided munitions dropped by Saudi warplanes on Yemeni weddings, funerals, apartments, and hospitals, refueled planes on their missions to slaughter Yemeni civilians, and offered intelligence to aid Riyadh’s air force in selecting targets. Put bluntly, the Obama and Trump administrations invited retaliation against the American people by aiding true terrorists against the Yemeni people.

Second, Washington has turned a means, alliances, into an end. Instead of using such relationships as a mechanism to improve US security, policymakers routinely sacrifice Americans’ safety and prosperity to continually expand security guarantees, leaving tripwires for war around the globe.

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

Third, Washington engages in never-ending social engineering that rarely succeeds and would be of little value to Americans even if it did work. Three successive administration have spent almost 18 years trying to turn Afghanistan into a liberal Western-style democracy. Worse was blowing up Iraq in expectation that contending ethnic, religious, and political groups would join together singing Kumbaya as they helped America battle Iran. President Barack Obama, a paladin of modern liberalism, ensured Libya’s destruction in the belief that something good would happen. He also imagined that Washington’s ivory tower warriors could fix Syria-simultaneously oust Bashar al-Assad, vanquish the Islamic State, empower “moderate” insurgents, pacify Turkey, oust Iran and Russia, protect Syrian Kurds, and foster democracy. Trump added the theft of Syrian oil as an American objective. Rarely have international plans been more chimerical, complicated, and costly.

The US is constantly expanding its defense obligations even as its financial health worsens. The federal government currently is borrowing record amounts-likely more than $4 trillion this year and $2 trillion next year-yet continues to subsidize the defense of populous, prosperous industrialized nation, rebuild failed states, bind together fake countries, hunt down other nations’ enemies, and sacrifice American lives and wealth to play international social engineer. The waste and hubris are bipartisan. Despite marginal differences among liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans, the vast majority of Blob members work assiduously to ensure that the US spends as much as possible, devotes as many resources as possible, deploys as many soldiers as possible, and fights as many wars as possible, all in the name of protecting America despite almost always having the opposite effect.

Washington needs to start scaling back its outlandish ambitions, rediscovering humility and prudence. A good starting point, as the president apparently believes, is Europe.

Foreign policy determines military requirements and force structure. All should change along with circumstances. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization made sense as a temporary shield behind which Europe could revive economically and reconstruct politically. While it doesn’t appear that the Soviet Union ever seriously contemplated launching the Red Army on a march to the Atlantic Ocean, it would have been foolish to take the risk.

However, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the alliance’s supreme commander before becoming president, warned against permanent US deployments lest the continent become dependent on America. And he was right. Europe soon rebuilt and sped past the Soviet Empire, as even East German cities still sported evidence of World War II decades after the bombs stopped falling. Nevertheless, at the height of the Cold War the rising West Europeans continued to pass the bill for their defense to Washington. Their governments routinely promised to spend more and then reneged on their commitments. But the US still paid. The lesson was well-learned by Europe…

And so on

Be seeing you

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Tomgram: Erik Edstrom, The Betrayal of the American Soldier | TomDispatch

Posted by M. C. on May 13, 2020

It worked like this: we, the infantry, secured a road in Kandahar
Province, allowing logistics convoys to resupply the infantry, so that
we could secure the road, so that the logistics convoys could resupply
us, ad nauseam and in perpetuity. Such a system was mockingly derided by my troops as a “self-licking ice cream cone.”

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176700/tomgram%3A_erik_edstrom%2C_the_betrayal_of_the_american_soldier/#more

By Erik Edstrom

“Every day is a copy of a copy of a copy.” That meme, from the moment when Edward Norton’s character in Fight Club offers a 1,000-yard stare at an office copy machine, captures this moment perfectly — at least for those of us removed from the front lines of the Covid-19 crisis. Isolated inside a Boston apartment, I typically sought new ways to shake the snow globe, to see the same bubble — the same stuff — differently.

Quarantine has entered a new season. The month of May has brought daffodils and barbeque grills. Memorial Day is just around the corner. And every Friday at 7:00 PM, residents in my neighborhood hang out of their windows to bang pots and cheer until they get tired (usually, about two minutes later). It’s a nice gesture to healthcare workers, a contemporary doff of the cap, but does it change anything? Perhaps it’s just another permutation of that old American truism: if you’re getting thanked for your service, you’re in a job where you’re getting shafted.

The war against President Trump’s “invisible enemy” spasms on and we’re regularly reminded that healthcare workers, dangerously ill-equipped, must beg for personal protective equipment. But this Memorial Day, the 18th during America’s War on Terror, our national focus is likely to shift, even if only momentarily, to the soldiers who are still fighting and dying in a self-perpetuating war, now under pandemic conditions.

Reflecting on my own time as a soldier deployed to combat in Afghanistan, I hope that Covid-19 causes us to redefine what “patriotism” and “national security” really should mean. My suggestion: If you want to honor soldiers this Memorial Day, start by questioning the U.S. military.

With this on my mind, and all alone in that apartment, I knew exactly where to look for inspiration.

The Journal

Just before deploying to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in May, 2009, I bought a journal. It was brown, faux-leather, and fit in the hip pocket of Army combat trousers. It wasn’t particularly nice — just something you might pick up at Office Max.

Nonetheless, my soldiers ribbed me for it. “Dear diary,” they snickered.

“No, no, this is a war journal,” I would reply, imagining such a distinction as sufficiently manly to overcome whatever stigma they had when it came to this self-appointed diarist.

At first, journaling was a distraction. I captured images of my platoon, a lovable assemblage of misfits and Marlboro men. But soon, that journal acquired a more macabre tone, its lines filling with stories of roadside bombs, shootouts, amputated limbs, and funerals playing out in a page-by-page street fight of scribbles and scratch-outs.

On a humdrum route-clearance patrol on our fourth day in-country, before the unit of soldiers we were replacing even had a chance to depart, my squad leader’s vehicle was catastrophically destroyed by a roadside bomb. We loaded four broken, bloody, ketamine’d soldiers onto an Air MEDEVAC helicopter en route to urgent care at Kandahar Airfield. (At this rate, I realized, my platoon of 28 would be wiped out within a month.)

I reassured the soldier who was most coherent that he was “going to be okay.” Truth was: I didn’t know. And what did “okay” in battlefield injury-speak even mean? A quadruple amputee with a pulse? Years of horrific facial reconstruction surgeries? Or maybe, with luck, merely a traumatic brain injury or a single leg amputation below the knee, which my wounded friends from Walter Reed Hospital called “a paper cut.”

For this soldier, okay turned out to mean broken bones and lacerations bad enough to send him home, but not bad enough to keep him there. He was stitched-up and sent back to war five months later. When he finally returned to America, in Oregon, he murdered and dismembered someone he didn’t even know in a bathtub. Then he stole the dead man’s car to rob a bank. He’s currently serving life in prison.

But such stories, however raw and urgent they felt, were small. We were, after all, just one platoon in a big, ugly mess of a war, committing acts of political violence against people we didn’t know for reasons we didn’t fully understand.

Although I was told that I’d be “fighting terrorism” in Afghanistan, most of the people our unit was killing turned out to be teenagers or angry farmers with legitimate grievances, people tired of America’s never-ending occupation of their land, tired of our country’s contemptuous devaluation of Afghan lives. And frankly, when I searched my own soul, I couldn’t blame them for fighting back. Had I been in their shoes, I would have done the same.

You probably won’t be surprised to learn that the U.S. military did not encourage me to think too much or too deeply about the morality of the war I was fighting. A popular military aphorism was: “stay in your lane.” And so I jotted down my real thoughts in private and continued with the “mission,” whatever that was, since there appeared to be no coherent plan or strategy, something fully substantiated when, late last year, the Washington Post released “the Afghanistan Papers,” secret and frank interviews by the office of the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan with top U.S. commanders and officials.

“Operation Highway Babysitter”

That brown journal of mine lived through a lot and, at the end of my deployment, it earned a just retirement at the bottom of a cardboard box — until recently, when, in the midst of self-isolation in the Covid-19 moment, I excavated it from its resting place and brought it into the light of day as if it were so many dinosaur bones.

The cover was a wreck, the pages, earth-stained and dog-eared. Nonetheless, my chicken-scratched entries were enough to reconstruct old, long-buried memories. Those pages cast into relief how far I’ve come. Physically, I’m 6,632 miles away. Temporally, I’m a decade older. But morally, I’m a completely different person.

The first two — distance and time — don’t add up to much. I’ve returned home. I’ve gotten older. But what about the third? Why do I look back on my role in that still never-ending war not as a hero or as a well-intentioned participant, but as a perpetrator? And why, now, do I feel like I was a genuine sucker?

In a sense, I already knew the answers to those questions, but I wanted to revisit the journey I’d taken by flipping those pages past coffee-ring stains and even dried blood. And here’s what I found: I crossed my moral threshold on a dusty road, a glum bit of terrain I watched over for 15 hours straight. The mission’s apt nickname, scrawled in that journal, was “Operation Highway Babysitter.”

It worked like this: we, the infantry, secured a road in Kandahar Province, allowing logistics convoys to resupply the infantry, so that we could secure the road, so that the logistics convoys could resupply us, ad nauseam and in perpetuity. Such a system was mockingly derided by my troops as a “self-licking ice cream cone.”

Despite the effort we put into stopping IED — that is, roadside bomb — emplacement, we neither stopped them, nor created anything that might have passed for “progress.” The problem with IEDs was simple enough: we could watch some of the roads all of the time or all of the roads some of the time, but never all of the roads all of the time. Wherever we couldn’t patrol was precisely where the next one would be emplaced.

Quickly enough, we saw the futility of it all, yet what alternative did we have? We belonged to the Army and so were destined to spend our Afghan tour of duty playing human minesweepers.

Ox, my platoon sergeant, internalized his frustration. During Operation Highway Babysitter, he cut a striking image of Oscar the Grouch, with a fat dip of chewing tobacco puckering his cheek. Just above that egg-sized wad was a small scar from a bullet fragment that had skipped off an Iraqi pavement during the 2003 invasion of that country. One could say that Ox carried the war with him in the most literal sense.

And if we weren’t getting blown up by insurgents, we were getting shot by the Afghan National Police. No kidding. One hot afternoon, an Afghan policeman, visibly high, shot my team leader, Brody, from six feet away with a machine gun. The 7.62 mm bullet hit him in the torso, a spot not covered by body armor. It was a negligent discharge and Brody lived, but my whole platoon wanted to murder that policeman. We didn’t, which seemed rather commendable.

Even as we became increasingly disillusioned, we remained soldiers, trained to execute, however ludicrous the task. If we had to stay in our lane, though, at least we wanted the satisfaction of fighting our enemy face-to-face. It’s hard to explain if you haven’t been there, but the desire to fight hadn’t left us and, as it turned out, we got our chance on Halloween 2009 — a day caught vividly in that brown journal of mine.

The Sound of Revenge

A couple of hours into highway babysitting that day, our stakeout was interrupted by the sound of gunfire. We buttoned up the trucks and set out for danger. When we arrived, the shooting had stopped. All we saw were a few men — maybe farmers, maybe insurgents — in a large grape field. It was hard to make out what they were doing, but there were no weapons to be seen.

Armed only with speculation, there were no grounds (under the rules of engagement we lived by) to shoot them, so our G.I. Joe energy began to melt away and we were distinctly disappointed.

I concede that it’s a strange emotion to actually want to kill someone, knowing there will be no repercussions for doing so — except possibly praise and maybe even medals if you’re successful…

The rest here

Be seeing you

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Drawdown in Afghanistan Is Ahead of Schedule – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on May 1, 2020

Yah but where are the troops going?

Home or Iraq or Syria or SA or Iran?

https://news.antiwar.com/2020/04/30/us-drawdown-in-afghanistan-is-ahead-of-schedule/

Earlier this week, it was reported that President Trump was keen to speeding up the pullout from Afghanistan, because of concerns that the nation could soon find itself with coronavirus problems. The US has been cutting troops all this time, and are ahead of schedule.

When the peace deal was reached, the goal was to have 8,600 troops left by July. There are fewer than 10,000 left right now, and officials say that the 8,600 goal could be reached in just a few weeks. More cuts are expected after that.

The US never set a date to be out of Afghanistan at the time of the peace deal, but with Trump wanting out there seems to be a good chance that the level is just going to keep going down for the time being.

Trump had wanted cuts before the 2020 election, and cemented that this was going to happen with the Taliban peace deal.  Even though post-deal progress has been slowed by the Afghan government’s lack of prisoner releases, the US is continuing the cuts.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , | Leave a Comment »

Trump Wants All US Troops Out of Afghanistan on Coronavirus Fears – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on April 28, 2020

but whether Trump’s impulse to leave will actually pan out this time depends heavily on how he reacts to the ever-present resistance of officials.

https://news.antiwar.com/2020/04/27/trump-wants-all-us-troops-out-of-afghanistan-on-coronavirus-fears/

With a peace deal in place in Afghanistan, at some point US troops would be expected to leave the country. Amid concerns of a coronavirus buildup, President Trump is thinking it is best to get those troops out of the country sooner, rather than later.

Officials say Trump complains about the troops not being out of Afghanistan yet almost daily, but that his advisers continue to stall and try to talk him out of it, arguing that if the virus is a reason to leave, US troops should also withdraw from Italy.

That argument seems a continuation of the strategy for getting out of Trump’s calls for drawdowns, which is to confuse the question and hope that Trump gets fixated on something else before they have to actually do anything.

Afghan officials have been emphasizing the risk of a pandemic, and how widespread it could be. While the US already has plenty of opportunity to leave Afghanistan now, this is just another opportunity on top of that, but whether Trump’s impulse to leave will actually pan out this time depends heavily on how he reacts to the ever-present resistance of officials.

Be seeing you

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

President Trump: End This Stupid War Now! – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on March 7, 2020

…Taliban was created by a village preacher, Mullah Omar, to protect caravans from bandits during the Afghan civil war of the early 1990’s, and to protect women from mass rape.  When Taliban took Kabul, it crushed the drug trade and restored order with an iron fist.

America’s main ally in Afghanistan, the Communist dominated Tajik Northern Alliance, was put into power in Kabul and quickly restored the opium trade.  Today, US Afghan allies control almost all the drug trade which props up the puppet government in Kabul.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/03/eric-margolis/end-bushs-stupid-war-today/

By

Special to LewRockwell.com

After 19 years of war, over $1 trillion in spending, 2,400 dead and a torrent of lies, the US may now be facing an end to its longest war.

The US invaded Afghanistan in 2001.  There were three reasons: 1. to cover up the humiliation of the tough-talking Bush administration for being caught sleeping on guard duty by the 9/11 attacks; 2. To secure oil pipeline routes through Afghanistan from Central Asia down to Pakistan’s sea coast; and 3. To occupy a supposedly empty square on the Asian chessboard before China did.

Since 2001, hardly a word of truth about Afghanistan has come out of Washington.  All wars are accompanied by a bodyguard of lies, as Churchill wrote, but the lies and propaganda about Afghanistan were extraordinary and shameful.

Chief among the lies:  Osama bin Laden was the architect of the 9/11 attacks that killed 3,000 Americans and that the plot was hatched in Afghanistan with the help of the Taliban movement.  In fact, the plot was hatched in Germany and Spain by Saudi exiles, not Afghans, who claimed the US was occupying their nation and exploiting its riches.

Faked videos were shown on US TV to implicate bin Laden. He applauded the attacks after the fact, saying they were revenge for Israel’s destruction in large part of Beirut in 1982.

The so-called ‘terrorist training camps’ in Afghanistan cited as a reason for the US invasion were actually camps run by Pakistan’s intelligence service, an ally of the US, to train insurgent guerrillas for action against Indian rule in Kashmir. I know this because I toured some of the camps. General Hamid Gul, the head of ISI, Pakistan’s crack intelligence service, briefed me on this operation.

Pakistan’s former president, Pervez Musharraf, told me the US had threatened to ‘bomb Pakistan back to the Stone Age’ if it did not allow the US to wage war against Afghanistan from Pakistani territory.

Al-Qaeda’s founder, Sheikh Abdullah Azzam, told me `after defeating the communists in Afghanistan, we will go on to liberate Saudi Arabia from American rule.’ He was assassinated soon after.

To this day, what’s left of al-Qaeda remains an anti-imperialist movement. In recent years, al-Qaeda and Taliban have become bitter enemies. Taliban agreed in recent talks never to shelter al-Qaeda or the more recent, Islamic State movement. It originally sheltered bin Laden only because he was a hero of the anti-Communist struggle and an honored guest. Taliban offered to hand bin Laden to an impartial court. The US refused and quickly invaded Afghanistan.

Iraq’s leader, Saddam Hussein, was a serious enemy of al-Qaeda and Osama bin Laden. Yet the Bush administration lied that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11 to justify invading and grabbing its oil riches. Most Americans believed this falsehood promoted by Condoleezza Rice and Dick Cheney.

I was in Afghanistan and Pakistan when Taliban was formed.  Far from being a ‘terrorist’ movement, as the Americans and their Afghan communist allies claimed, Taliban was created by a village preacher, Mullah Omar, to protect caravans from bandits during the Afghan civil war of the early 1990’s, and to protect women from mass rape.  When Taliban took Kabul, it crushed the drug trade and restored order with an iron fist.

America’s main ally in Afghanistan, the Communist dominated Tajik Northern Alliance, was put into power in Kabul and quickly restored the opium trade.  Today, US Afghan allies control almost all the drug trade which props up the puppet government in Kabul.

Three US presidents claim they tried to end the Afghan War – but failed.  Why?  Intense opposition from the war party, military industrial complex, and the neocons.  $1 trillion is huge business.  Many war suppliers grew rich on this conflict; imperial generals got promotions and new commands.  Politicians loved to orate against so-called ‘terrorism’ and call for more war.  The costs of the Afghan War were buried in the national debt, to be repaid by coming generations.

None of the presidents were able to stand up to the deep state.  President Donald Trump claims he will shut down the Afghan War, which he properly termed, ‘stupid.’  But can he?

It will be so easy to sabotage the fragile cease-fire agreement just signed in Qatar.  The Afghan drug lords have already started fire fights.  US generals and conservatives quail at the prospect of being charged with losing this war.

The best way to end a war is to end it.  Declare victory, bring the troops home, cut off the dollars and ammo and leave.

Be seeing you

?u=http1.bp.blogspot.com_jvugNnBkwBwTJMXvAVTTbIAAAAAAAAP9Y0XJz4YXHHAAs1600madness.JPG&f=1&nofb=1

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

US Airstrikes Target Taliban in First After Saturday’s Peace Deal – News From Antiwar.com

Posted by M. C. on March 5, 2020

Follow the money.

https://news.antiwar.com/2020/03/04/us-airstrikes-target-taliban-in-first-after-saturdays-peace-deal/

The long-awaited US peace deal in Afghanistan was signed with the Taliban on Saturday. On Wednesday, US warplanes carried out an airstrike on Taliban forces, the first attack since the peace.

US officials are presenting this as a “defensive” measure, even though the Taliban had made it a point not to attack foreign troops since the deal was signed, and rather were attacking Afghan government forces over an existing disagreement about prisoner exchanges.

The Taliban targeted in the US strike were in the process of attacking a government checkpoint, and a US spokesman said the Taliban were not abiding by a commitment to reduce attacks on the Afghans.

This is a problem because the US had committed to the Afghan government releasing 5,000 prisoners as part of this, and when the Ghani government reneged on that, the Taliban reneged on the violence reduction. The Taliban has offered talks, but only talks about the prisoner release.

When the Taliban announced this position on Monday, the US suggested they were going to stay in the peace deal so long as the Taliban wasn’t attacking them. Now, it seems the US has changed its mind, and will be attacking the Taliban, calling it defense, and pretending that the Taliban are the ones threatening the peace.

Be seeing you

War_Is_a_Racket_(cover)

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , | Leave a Comment »

UN: There’s been 100K civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 10 years

Posted by M. C. on February 23, 2020

Vietnam was all about Westmoreland lying to US about kill ratios.

Here is a new ratio. Number of enemy killed (assuming we even know who the enemy is) vs innocent civilians.

Follow the link below to view the article.
UN: There’s been 100K civilian casualties in Afghanistan in 10 years
http://erietimes.pa.newsmemory.com/?publink=2462e0ee5

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United Nations report says Afghanistan passed a grim milestone with more than 100,000 civilians killed or hurt in the last 10 years since the international body began documenting casualties in a war that has raged for 18 years.

The report released Saturday by the U.N. Assistance Mission in Afghanistan comes as a seven-day “reduction of violence” agreement between the U.S. and Taliban takes effect, paving the way for a Feb. 29 signing of a peace deal Washington hopes will end its longest war, bring home U.S. troops and start warring Afghans negotiating the future of their country.

“Almost no civilian in Afghanistan has escaped being personally affected in some way by the ongoing violence,” said Tadamichi Yamamoto, the secretary- general’s special representative for Afghanistan. “It is absolutely imperative for all parties to seize the moment to stop the fighting, as peace is long overdue; civilian lives must be protected and efforts for peace are underway.”

Last year there was a slight decrease in the numbers of civilians hurt or killed, which the report says was a result of reduced casualties inflicted by the Islamic State affiliate. The group was drastically degraded by U.S. and Afghan security forces as well as the Taliban, who have also bitterly battled the Islamic State.

According to the U.N. report, 3,493 civilians were killed last year and 6,989 were injured. While fewer civilians were hurt or killed by Islamic State fighters, more civilians became casualties at the hands of the Taliban and Afghan security forces and their American allies.

The report said there was a 21% increase in civilian casualties by the Taliban and an 18% rise in casualties blamed on Afghan security forces and their U.S. allies who dropped more bombs last year than in any year since 2013.

“All parties to the conflict must comply with the key principles of distinction, proportionality and precaution to prevent civilian casualties,” said Michelle Bachelet, the U.N. high commissioner for human rights.

“Belligerents must take the necessary measures to prevent women, men, boys and girls from being killed by bombs, shells, rockets and improvised mines; to do otherwise is unacceptable.”

The seven-day “reduction in violence” began at midnight Friday.

If it holds it will be followed by the signing of a long sought peace deal between the United States and the Taliban in the Middle Eastern state of Qatar where the Taliban maintain a political office.

U.S. peace envoy Zalmay Khalilzad will sign the deal on the behalf of Washington.

Be seeing you
gaza

Middle East foreign policy.

Posted in Uncategorized | Tagged: , , , , | Leave a Comment »