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Posts Tagged ‘Iraq’

Iraq Needs an Independent Government, Not ‘Training’ – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on August 9, 2021

‘Training’ is a bad joke. Iraq has been at almost constant war since 1980. Iraqis need loyalty, pride and patriotism to be effective fighters. Who needs training from the armed forces that got whipped in Vietnam and now Afghanistan? Iraq needs a real national government rather than a bunch of corrupt stooges and foreign agents in Baghdad. President Saddam Hussein predicted that the US would face the ‘mother of all battles’ in Iraq. He was right.

By Eric S. Margolis

Will US occupation troops really leave Iraq? That’s the question that Washington is so far unable to answer. The White House says the official date of the long goodbye is this month, August 2021.

Donald Trump announced a pullout of US troops while still in office but his deadline was simply ignored by the new Biden administration which has also been under mounting pressure to end the two-decade US occupation of Mesopotamia. Left wing Democrats wanted a full end to the war the US has waged since 2003. Right-wing Republicans, blissfully unaware of Mideast realities, urged more troops be sent to Iraq.

After losing some 4,431 troops and 8,000 mercenaries (aka ‘contractors’) and 1,145 troops from allied nations dragooned into the Iraq conflict, and 31,994 wounded – many with serious head wounds from roadside bombs – Washington switched gears in Iraq and adopted the old British Imperial system of colonial rule.

The Britain Empire created Iraq in the 1920’s from the wreckage of the dying Ottoman Empire to secure possession of Mesopotamia’s abundant oil. At the time, the mighty Royal Navy was converting from coal to oil. Iraq became Britain’s vast fuel depot.

A new figurehead king from the Hashemite tribes was put into power by London, backed by a local constabulary, British garrison troops and, most effectively, the Royal Air Force.

In the 1920’s, Winston Churchill approved RAF fighters to bomb restive Arab and Kurdish tribes with mustard gas and poisonous Yperite. The British eventually crushed domestic resistance in Iraq while shamelessly denouncing fascist Italy for also using poison gas against Libyan nationalist rebels.

The RAF bombed and staffed rebellious Iraqis right up to the late 1940’s. British air power played a key role in crushing the nationalist uprising in Iraq by Rashid Ali, who was smeared a pro-fascist by Britain’s imperial press.

The US eventually adopted the low-cost British colonial system for ruling Iraq. US warplanes were stationed at up to six former Iraqi airbases, becoming the principal enforcer of the occupation. US troops were thinned out. By 2020, this job was done so skillfully that the US presence in Iraq became almost invisible.

Iraq was occupied by western forces but it looked like an independent nation with a US-installed president and executive branch. Kurdish areas in the north became virtual US-run mini-states. The demented ISIS movement was totally stamped out by US airpower and Iranian militias. As a thank you, the Iranian military supremo in Iraq, Gen. Qasem Soleimani, was ordered murdered by President Trump after being lured to Iraq for supposed peace talks.

Iraq was one of the most advanced states in the Arab world and a US ally – before 1991. Today, it lies in ruins, smashed to pieces by US airpower, civil wars, and sectarian conflict.

President George W. Bush was convinced by militarists, notably Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld, after intense pressure from pro-Israel groups in the US and their media accomplices, to invade Iraq. The Washington hawks planned to use US-occupied Iraq as a central base for dominating the entire Mideast and grabbing its oil.

The golden victory in Iraq promised by the neocons turned to ashes, leaving Washington stuck deep in an ungovernable ruined nation that had even to import oil. At one point, the off-the-rails neocons in Washington even claimed Iraq had a fleet of ships in the Atlantic Ocean carrying ‘killer’ drones that were about to attack sleeping America.

Iraq was so battered and demolished after three decades of bombing and wars that it was worth almost nothing. Faced by the threat of more guerilla warfare, the new older, wiser US administration of Joe Biden announced it would pull all remaining US combat troops from Iraq, but leaving 2,500 behind for ‘training’ and embassy security (the heavily fortified US Baghdad Embassy is one of the biggest in the world). Osama bin Laden called the US embassies in Baghdad and Kabul, ‘modern crusader castles.’

‘Training’ is a bad joke. Iraq has been at almost constant war since 1980. Iraqis need loyalty, pride and patriotism to be effective fighters. Who needs training from the armed forces that got whipped in Vietnam and now Afghanistan? Iraq needs a real national government rather than a bunch of corrupt stooges and foreign agents in Baghdad. President Saddam Hussein predicted that the US would face the ‘mother of all battles’ in Iraq. He was right.

Eric S. Margolis [send him mail] is the author of War at the Top of the World and the new book, American Raj: Liberation or Domination?: Resolving the Conflict Between the West and the Muslim World. See his website.

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Erie Times E-Edition Article-Bill repealing Iraq war powers advances in Senate

Posted by M. C. on August 6, 2021

Follow this vote to see who are for peace and who are the MIC’s interventionist puppets.

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Biden’s deal to end the US combat mission in Iraq is just window dressing to give the illusion of an end to that ‘forever war’ — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on July 29, 2021

Anyone pretending that America’s lingering and unwanted presence in Iraq is an act of altruism and benevolence dedicated solely to counter-terrorism is deluded. The 30-year history of its contemporary role in the country which involved two outright wars, the latter an illegal invasion, glaringly suggests otherwise. The existing façade that they are there to “defeat ISIS” is a painfully out-of-date distraction, not least when the rise of ISIS was a consequence of America’s intervention in the country in the first place.

Tom Fowdy

Tom Fowdy

is a British writer and analyst of politics and international relations with a primary focus on East Asia.

Washington’s agreement to cease ‘direct fighting’ is a long way from a troop withdrawal. The reality is, America has no intention of pulling out of Iraq anytime soon as it is far too important to their real aim of containing Iran.

Iraq is a nation steeped in American controversy, epitomising the country’s catastrophic 21st century obsession with ‘regime change’. One wonders when America will cut its losses and leave the Middle East nation alone. Recently, there’s been some hope they might withdraw, with the Biden administration appearing to sympathise with the growing political sentiment against ‘forever wars’. Following a visit by Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi to DC, Washington and Baghdad on Monday signed a deal to “end” the US combat mission in Iraq by the end of this year. But, as ever with American military intervention, many questions still remain.

The devil, of course, is in the details. The headline sounds great, but actually US forces won’t leave the country and don’t commit to either. They simply cease directly “fighting” ISIS and “remain” in an advisory capacity. The White House refused to comment on any potential “troop withdrawals” accordingly. If it wasn’t obvious, the Iraqi government have been wanting America out for a long time and its parliament even passed a motion to do so following the assassination of Iranian General Qassem Soleimani last year, but Washington refused to budge, with Trump pushing threats of sanctions. But it’s not like they were ever invited in the first place. One must question accordingly, does this deal actually mean anything at all? Are we going to keep pretending ISIS is the real reason America is there? And given the US happily uses its own capabilities within Iraq to attack Iranian targets at will, what is changing here?

Anyone pretending that America’s lingering and unwanted presence in Iraq is an act of altruism and benevolence dedicated solely to counter-terrorism is deluded. The 30-year history of its contemporary role in the country which involved two outright wars, the latter an illegal invasion, glaringly suggests otherwise. The existing façade that they are there to “defeat ISIS” is a painfully out-of-date distraction, not least when the rise of ISIS was a consequence of America’s intervention in the country in the first place. The real reason the US is there is simply to contain Iran. Also on Biden says US ‘combat mission’ in Iraq will be over by year’s end, but won’t say how many troops to remain deployed

The mainstream media have largely reacted to this deal claiming that a US withdrawal could expand “Iranian influence” in the country and over Iraq’s government, as if it is just Tehran that wants the “Americans out” as opposed to it being an authentic sentiment within the country. Yet this is a dishonest interpretation of events. Anyone who knows Middle East politics in detail will see that Iran is not exercising “malign influence” over Iraq, but the two countries have a natural affinity for each other on the fact they are both majority Shi’ia Muslim nations and are linked by history. It is ironic on behalf of the US that when Saddam Hussein was in Baghdad, he led a Sunni minority dictatorship who sought to play down sectarianism through wielding secular Arabist nationalism. He even went to the desperate length of going to war against Iran to thwart the Islamic revolution’s influence on his country after 1979.

This reveals the biggest problem with what America has done to Iraq, underscoring its brainless approach to the rejection and an obsession with getting the best of both worlds. By illegally invading Iraq, dumping Saddam’s Ba’athist regime and striving to build a utopian democratic project in its own image, Washington gifted the Shi’ia majority control of the country. They then naturally choose to pursue a closer sectarian and economic relationship with Iran. This brought about religious conflict, triggering the rise of ISIS out of Al-Qaeda, as disgruntled Sunni resistance forces found traction in the country’s poorer north. Iraq remains a chronically unstable country and America is part of the problem.

Yet despite the sectarian strife and the instability that continues to place Iraq in turmoil, both Sunnis and Shi’ias are united in their wish to simply see the US leave. It is only the Kurds in the North, who see the US presence as a route to securing their autonomy, who want the Americans to remain. The United States has already long overstayed its ‘welcome’. Its presence in Iraq is an occupation, one which the sovereign government has no leverage to reverse. It lingers there not because there is a mission to defeat terrorism, but because the US wants to maintain an unlimited right to bomb Iranian targets and militias as part of its regional proxy conflict against Tehran. Also on Washington denies its top envoy discussed withdrawal of troops from Iraq with Prime Minister Kadhimi

This is an unjust arrangement, with Washington believing it has more of a right to be an intruding presence in Baghdad than Tehran itself does. What we see here is a face-saving deal to supplement an Iraqi prime minister who is suffering under widespread anti-American pressure and frequent social unrest. But there is no substance to the deal, the US doesn’t really commit to anything, only saying it will stop fighting a terrorist force long since defeated. It’s not an exit, it’s simply window dressing and doesn’t alter the reality that the United States maintains an unwanted presence in Iraq and will continue to use it how it sees fit.

Biden talks the talk on withdrawing from various Middle East conflicts, but there are serious questions concerning whether he will ever actually live up to it in practice.

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Bomber Joe Biden Strikes Iraq and Syria: Retaliation Breeds More Incidents — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on July 17, 2021

Joe Biden is continuing down the path that began with George W. Bush, with military action used as a substitute for any real foreign policy.

In less than six months in office President Joe Biden has already developed a national security policy that appears to lean strongly towards proactive use of military force in questionable circumstances, as if war is the answer to every problem. Biden should nevertheless be applauded for his persistence in withdrawing from Afghanistan after twenty years of ill-considered nation building, but even the departure from that country appears to be characterized by a lack of coordination, rather reminiscent of helicopters taking off from the embassy roof in Saigon in 1975.

For the second time the president has ordered a US bombing raid on two targets in Syria, and for the first time, he also attacked a site inside Iraq. According to one report possibly as many as seven Iraqis died in the attacks which targeted alleged weapons storage facilities along the Syria-Iraq border belonging to Kata’ib Hezbollah and Kata’ib Sayyid al-Shuhada militias. The US claims that the two Iraqi militias have ties to Iran, which may be more than usually true because the Iraqis and Iranians have cooperated regularly in the fight against the Islamic State in Syria (ISIS). The Pentagon also claims that the militias were behind recent attacks on American targets, see more below.

After the attacks carried out by US fighter-bombers, the excuse provided was the same one employed after Biden’s first air attack in February, namely that the US, as described by Pentagon spokesman John Kirby, “conducted defensive precision airstrikes against facilities used by Iran-backed militia groups in the Iraq-Syria border region.” He added verbiage what has now become a regular feature of all US military actions, that “the United States acted pursuant to its right of self-defense.” For those who are intrigued by Pentagon newspeak the expression “defensive precision airstrikes” must be considered as a new entry in the crowded field of phrases that largely have no meaning.

The strikes were framed as being retaliatory, but the most interesting aspect of this latest bombing is that the initial US government justifications for the action were on somewhat tentative. Reportedly, someone had used drones with explosives attached for mostly night-time attacks directed “against places where Americans were located in Iraq,” which were further described as including diplomatic, intelligence and military facilities. The Pentagon refers to the drones as “unmanned aerial vehicles” or UAVs. No Americans were killed in the alleged attacks and there were no reports of any substantial damage, though the Pentagon is apparently collecting information and preparing a comprehensive report which the public undoubtedly will not be allowed to see.

Oddly, the initial media reporting on what had occurred and who had been blamed for it included a weasel word, “suspected.” In government-speak that frequently means there was little or no evidence that the militias that had been targeted were actually the perpetrators, but it is convenient to assume that they are responsible, making them “suspects.” After all, it is relatively easy to transport a number of drones on the bed of a pickup truck, drive with it to a location where one is unlikely to be observed and then release them at a fixed target. Even if you don’t hit anything, you will spread fear and trigger a response that might well be exploited to vilify the occupying forces. You will also provide justification for your own retaliation.

The Iraqi government, which was not informed in advance of the US bombings, not surprisingly reacted strongly, registering its opposition to such activity on the part of its so-called ally, though occupier has been suggested as a more appropriate description. Prime Minister Mustafa al-Kadhimi’s office called the airstrikes a “blatant and unacceptable violation of Iraqi sovereignty and Iraqi national security.” After the assassination of General Qasem Soleimani at Baghdad Airport in January 2020, the Iraqi Parliament had called for the departure of all US forces, but the Trump Administration ignored the demand, claiming that it was in Iraq to help the Iraqis in their fight against ISIS and other terrorist groups.

The US currently has a claimed 2,500 soldiers in Iraq who, it asserts, are in country advising and training their local counterparts. Meanwhile, “Fighting terrorists and training friendly forces” is roughly the same excuse that has been used to justify remaining in neighboring Syria, where the US has deployed roughly 500 soldiers who have been taking possession of the production of the country’s oil fields, which it then provides to Israel. The US is also, by the way, trying to overthrow the legitimate Syrian government in Damascus, using some of the very terrorists it claims to be fighting to do the job, but that is of course another story.

If the United States government is beginning to sound a bit like the Israeli government that should surprise no one, as Israel is clearly heavily involved in whatever on goes vis-à-vis Syria and Iran directly and in Iraq by proxy. One almost expects new Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett to provide an endorsement, parroting the Pentagon line as well as his own country’s rhetoric, saying “the US has a right to defend itself.” Of course, the unasked question then becomes “to defend itself against what?” Israel was at least able to pretend that there was some kind of threat coming from Gaza since the two share a border, but the United States would be hard pressed to explain why it has soldiers in Syria and Iraq at all, particularly since the Iraqi government has called upon them to depart.

A neocon journalist supportive of a global crusade to spread “democracy” once quipped that the nice thing about having an empire is never having to say you are sorry, but that has not meant that mindless acts of violence inflicted throughout the Middle East are have been consequence free. One has to suspect in this case that the use of force to include a target within the borders of a nominal ally was also mostly intended to send a signal to Iran. A Pentagon spokesman ironically boasted afterwards that “This action should send a message to Iran that it cannot hide behind its proxy forces to attack the United States and our Iraqi partners.” The spokesman appears to be oblivious to the fact that it was Iraqi militiamen tied to the government that had been killed, not Iranians. And his assumption that it would reduce the level of violence also proved wrong as there have been a number of new drone, rocket and mortar attacks against American targets in Iraq since Biden’s “defensive precision airstrikes” were launched. One of the militias that lost fighters to the US airstrikes, said it would “avenge the blood of our righteous martyrs.”  Another Iranian supported group, the Popular Mobilization Forces went further, threatening to “enter an open war with the American occupation.” In short, all the attacks really accomplished was to anger the Iraqi people over the continued US presence and to guarantee more incidents.

Biden’s “sending a message to Iran” would undoubtedly be intended to do the same to the Iraqi government, telling them that drawing any closer to the Iranians is too close as far as the Pentagon and White House are concerned. In terms of the timing of the airstrikes, it is also important to note that the US has been working closely with the new Israeli government to establish a unified policy on Iranian “regional aggression” and its nuclear program. Biden met recently with retiring Israeli President Reuven Rivlin at the White House and Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken has been having discussions with Israel’s foreign minister, Yair Lapid. Iran was the focus of both meetings.

So, Joe Biden and whoever is advising him are continuing down the path that began with George W. Bush, with military action used as a substitute for any real foreign policy. The problem with the meddling in the Middle East is primarily that it permits no exit strategy. It will end ignominiously when it ends as is happening in Afghanistan, without any remorse and little to show for all the expense and the deaths. Given that reality, rather than concoct largely fabricated reasons to keep US troops in Iraq and Syria the Administration should be looking for ways to end the torment for everyone involved.

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I saw up close how Rumsfeld deliberately caused the deaths of US troops for personal gain. He deserves a special place in hell — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on July 3, 2021

In my time as a US intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector, I was twice privy to the former US defense secretary’s MO: to manufacture and manipulate ‘intelligence’ so as to start wars. The Devil will need to watch his back.

https://www.rt.secretary of defensecom/op-ed/528141-donald-rumsfeld-dead-hell/

Scott Ritter

is a former US Marine Corps intelligence officer and author of ‘SCORPION KING: America’s Suicidal Embrace of Nuclear Weapons from FDR to Trump.’ He served in the Soviet Union as an inspector implementing the INF Treaty, in General Schwarzkopf’s staff during the Gulf War, and from 1991-1998 as a UN weapons inspector. Follow him on Twitter @RealScottRitter

In my time as a US intelligence officer and UN weapons inspector, I was twice privy to the former US defense secretary’s MO: to manufacture and manipulate ‘intelligence’ so as to start wars. The Devil will need to watch his back.

While I never met Donald Rumsfeld in person, our paths crossed indirectly on several occasions. What I learnt from these experiences hardened my heart toward a man who caused so much harm based on actions that placed ambition over integrity.

In the days following my September 3, 1998, testimony before a joint session of the Senate Armed Forces and Foreign Affairs Committees, where I challenged the US government’s inconsistent policies regarding the disarmament of Iraq, I received a letter from the former defense secretary. When I heard yesterday that Rumsfeld had passed away at the age of 88, I re-read the letter and ruminated about the man who wrote it, and how I felt about him in retrospect.

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The United States Has Declared Defeat in Two More Wars | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on April 24, 2021

For example, we were told Iraq and Afghanistan would become “democracies” where Western-style human rights are protected and valued. That was the humanitarian justification.

We were also told these countries would become reliable allies of the United States, sort of like Germany or Japan. That was the geopolitical justification.

The US has failed on both fronts.

Ryan McMaken

President Biden announced last week that he planned to remove all combat troops from Afghanistan by September, which he says will mark the end of what is now a twenty-year war in the central Asian country.

A week earlier, the US and Iraq reaffirmed a deal to withdraw “any remaining combat forces” from Iraq, and to further wind down the US involvement there, which dates back to the 2003 invasion.

In both cases, of course, the stated plans to end military intervention have been framed in polite language designed to make it look like the US is leaving on its own terms—and also to allow the US regime some level of plausibility when it claims “mission accomplished.”

In reality, of course, both Iraq and Afghanistan are just two more wars that the United States has lost in a long list of botched military interventions dating back to Vietnam and Korea. Moreover, these withdrawals signal the US’s continued geopolitical decline in a world that is becoming multipolar and highly motivated to bring to a final end the US’s vanishing “unipolar moment.”

But what exactly do we mean by “lost” in this context? Well, by the standards of the objectives presented by the US regime itself when these wars began, these wars are complete failures.

For example, we were told Iraq and Afghanistan would become “democracies” where Western-style human rights are protected and valued. That was the humanitarian justification.

We were also told these countries would become reliable allies of the United States, sort of like Germany or Japan. That was the geopolitical justification.

The US has failed on both fronts.

The Failure of Global Democracy

When the United States first invaded Afghanistan, following the terrorist attacks of 9/11, the US regime claimed the mission was both a punitive and a strategic one. The military intervention was, we were told, designed to punish and disable the Taliban regime, which was fostering terrorist training camps of the sort that supposedly led to 9/11.

But, not surprisingly, Washington then decided it was going to stay in Afghanistan for a long time. The voters were soon told to brace for a generational war, one that could last decades. After twenty or twenty-five years, though, we were told Afghanistan would become a liberal democracy where women could walk around in miniskirts and the youth would spend their days studying poetry and engineering at universities. Afghanistan, we were told, would end up like postwar Germany and Japan—outposts of Western liberal democracy.

Needless to say, the Pentagon never mentions that anymore. Even after twenty years, the political situation in Afghanistan can perhaps be most accurately described as an ongoing series of wars between warlords, with US-supported warlords on the “good” side. The idea that these US-aligned warlords represent the side of human rights, though, is wishful thinking at its most extreme.

Two years after the occupation of Afghanistan began, the promises of “global democracy” became even more grandiose as the regime tried to grow support for the Iraq invasion. The Bush administration pushed a grand vision for the entire region with claims that a new democratic Iraq would serve as the launching point for a total makeover of the Middle East, which would soon become a region of liberal democracies. The US repeatedly claimed that Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein was something of a reincarnation of Hitler—rather than the run-of-the-mill dictator he was—and suggested that once Hussein was gone freedom and justice would flower throughout the region.

That didn’t happen. Indeed, even if life improved for some Iraqis—such as the Kurds—life became far worse for countless other Iraqis. As noted by NPR in 2018, as a result of the Iraq War,

Iraq devolved into one of the most dangerous and corrupt countries in the world. With an estimated 500,000 killed in war and violence since 2003, few families have been left untouched. Although security has improved immensely, corruption remains entrenched.

“The majority of people before—Sunni and Shiite—did not like the [Hussein] regime,” says [General Najm al-Jabouri]. “But many people, when they compare between the situation under Saddam Hussein and now, find maybe their life under Saddam Hussein was better.”

Today, Iraq’s standard of living remains crippled by the US invasion, and the democratic government amounts to a regime that is little more than a group of competing kleptocracies.

Moreover, the US invasion paved the way for the rise of religious extremism in Iraq, which led to the near-total destruction of Iraq’s Christian population—which had enjoyed legal protection under Hussein.

Rather than spread notions of liberal democracy and human rights in the region, the US regime has only doubled down in its support for the most repressive regimes. The US remains an enthusiastic supporter of the Saudi regime, one of the most despotic and blood-soaked regimes on earth today. The US has been propping up the military dictatorship in Egypt. Through its interventions in Libya and Syria, the US has taken the side of terrorists and Islamic zealots who traffic young women for sex slavery and enforce the most draconian sorts of Islamic law—something much more rare under the Hussein regime, or under the secular regime still ruling in Syria.

The US’s regime change in Iraq supercharged al-Qaeda and ISIS, leading to humanitarian crises in northern Iraq and eastern Syria.

The Failure of Regime Change

But even if the US failed miserably on installing new human rights–loving regimes across the region, at least the US’s “national interests” are now much safer thanks to regime change. Right?

Well, not quite. Although Washington now claims that it is leaving Iraq and Afghanistan on good terms with the local regimes, the fact is that the US is leaving in power a great many enemies who are more than happy to see the US leave. And in many cases, the US strengthened those with an interest in undermining Washington’s interests.

In Afghanistan, for example, the anti-US warlords (i.e., Taliban-aligned groups) aren’t going away, and are likely to even increase in power as the US leaves. This, after all, is the central claim made by those who oppose Biden’s withdrawal plan. The US leaves behind an Afghanistan where anti-US powers are likely to quickly rush in and fill the power vacuum.

Meanwhile, in Iraq, the main “accomplishment” of the removal of Sunni-aligned Saddam Hussein was to grow the power of the Shia minority. This now means the growth of Iran-aligned Shia militias, which are avowedly opposed to the US regime.

In other words, the US could maintain a foothold in both countries indefinitely, but it could only do so through old-fashioned—and very costly—military occupation. That’s certainly not what Washington promised twenty years ago.

With all its fanciful promises for fundamentally changing the calculus in the Middle East, the US has not come even close to shifting the balance of power toward the US by creating a new block of pro-US “democracies.” Mostly, the US has sown chaos in the region, paved the way for terrorist groups, and reaffirmed support for some of the worst dictators and regimes in the region.

All of this was bought and paid for by thousands of US lives and hundreds of thousands of lives in the invaded countries. And by trillions of US dollars. 

The last twenty years have been little more than the US regime spinning its wheels, all while condemning millions to a new reality of greater death, disability, and poverty.

It’s not over yet, though. The fact some announcements have been made about ending wars doesn’t mean they’re really over. There’s no time frame for the final removal of combat troops from Iraq. In Afghanistan, the US may not be ending the war at all, but only shifting toward a war fought by US-employed mercenaries.

In any case, the global political situation has become expensive and hostile to the point that it now makes sense to at least ostensibly bring these conflicts to an end. Also, now that the average American voter is barely paying attention—and that the US is facing an economic crisis and weak recovery—it has become politically expedient to forget about those old wars, preferably with an eye to starting a new one with Russia.  Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and Power&Market, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Caitlin Johnstone: US bombs Syria and ridiculously claims self defense — RT Op-ed

Posted by M. C. on February 26, 2021

In America especially it is important to oppose war and imperialism, because an entire empire depends on keeping the locals too poor and propagandized to force their nation’s resources to go to their own wellbeing. As long as the United States functions as the hub of a globe-spanning power structure, all the progressive agendas that are being sought by what passes for the US left these days will be denied them. Opposing warmongering must come first.

By Caitlin Johnstone, an independent journalist based in Melbourne, Australia. Her website is here and you can follow her on Twitter @caitoz

On orders of President Biden, the United States has launched an airstrike on a facility in Syria. As of this writing the exact number of killed and injured is unknown, with early reports claiming “a handful” of people were killed.

Rather than doing anything remotely resembling journalism, the Western mass media have opted instead to uncritically repeat what they’ve been told about the airstrike by US officials, which is the same as just publishing Pentagon press releases.

Here’s this from the Washington Post:

The Biden administration conducted an airstrike against alleged Iranian-linked fighters in Syria on Thursday, signaling its intent to push back against violence believed to be sponsored by Tehran.

Pentagon spokesman John Kirby said the attack, the first action ordered by the Biden administration to push back against alleged Iranian-linked violence in Iraq and Syria, on a border control point in eastern Syria was “authorized in response to recent attacks against American and coalition personnel in Iraq, and to ongoing threats.”

He said the facilities were used by Iranian-linked militias including Kaitib Hezbollah and Kaitib Sayyid al-Shuhada.

The operation follows the latest serious attack on U.S. locations in Iraq that American officials have attributed to Iranian-linked groups operating in Iraq and Syria. Earlier this month, a rocket attack in northern Iraq killed a contractor working with the U.S. military and injured a U.S. service member there.

So we are being told that the United States launched an airstrike on Syria, a nation it invaded and is illegally occupying, because of attacks on “US locations” in Iraq, another nation the US invaded and is illegally occupying. This attack is justified on the basis that the Iraqi fighters were “Iranian-linked,” a claim that is both entirely without evidence and irrelevant to the justification of deadly military force. And this is somehow being framed in mainstream news publications as a defensive operation.

This is Defense Department stenography. The US military is an invading force in both Syria and Iraq; it is impossible for its actions in either of those countries to be defensive. It is always necessarily the aggressor. It’s the people trying to eject them who are acting defensively. The deaths of US troops and contractors in those countries can only be blamed on the powerful people who sent them there.

The US is just taking it as a given that it has de facto jurisdiction over the nations of Syria, Iraq, and Iran, and that any attempt to interfere in its authority in the region is an unprovoked attack which must be defended against. This is completely backwards and illegitimate. Only through the most perversely warped American supremacist reality tunnels can it look valid to dictate the affairs of sovereign nations on the other side of the planet and respond with violence if anyone in those nations tries to eject them.

To remind Iran who’s boss — rather than conduct the diplomacy he promised — Biden opts to act as ISIS’ Air Force. (That’s who “Iranian-backed militia” have long been fighting)— Aaron Maté (@aaronjmate) February 26, 2021

It’s illegitimate for the US to be in the Middle East at all. It’s illegitimate for the US to claim to be acting defensively in nations it invaded. It’s illegitimate for the US to act like Iranian-backed fighters aren’t allowed to be in Syria, where they are fighting alongside the Syrian government against ISIS and other extremist militias with the permission of Damascus. It is illegitimate for the US to claim the fighters attacking US personnel in Iraq are controlled by Iran when Iraqis have every reason to want the US out of their country themselves.

Even the official narrative reveals itself as illegitimate from within its own worldview. CNN reports that the site of the airstrike “was not specifically tied to the rocket attacks” in Iraq, and a Reuters/AP report says “Biden administration officials condemned the February 15 rocket attack near the city of Irbil in Iraq’s semi-autonomous Kurdish-run region, but as recently as this week officials indicated they had not determined for certain who carried it out.”

This is all so very typical of the American supremacist worldview that is being aggressively shoved down our throats by all Western mainstream news media. The US can bomb who it likes, whenever it likes, and when it does it is only ever doing so in self-defense, because the entire planet is the property of Washington, DC. It can seize control of entire clusters of nations, and if any of those nations resist in any way, they are invading America’s sovereignty.

It’s like if you broke into your neighbor’s house to rob him, killed him when he tried to stop you, and then claimed self-defense because you consider his home your property. Only in the American exceptionalist alternate universe is this considered normal and acceptable.

Americans: $2000 checks pleaseGovernment: Sorry did you say airstrikes on Syria?Americans: No, $2000 checksGovernment: Okay, since you asked nicely here’s your airstrikes on Syria.— Caitlin Johnstone ⏳ (@caitoz) February 26, 2021

This sort of nonsense is why it’s so important to prioritize opposition to Western imperialism. World warmongering and domination is the front upon which all the most egregious evils inflicted by the powerful take place, and it plays such a crucial role in upholding the power structures we are up against. Without endless war, the oligarchic empire which is the cause of so much of our suffering cannot function, and must give way to something else. If you’re looking to throw sand in the gears of the machine, anti-imperialism is your most efficacious path toward that end, and should therefore be your priority.

In America especially it is important to oppose war and imperialism, because an entire empire depends on keeping the locals too poor and propagandized to force their nation’s resources to go to their own wellbeing. As long as the United States functions as the hub of a globe-spanning power structure, all the progressive agendas that are being sought by what passes for the US left these days will be denied them. Opposing warmongering must come first.

Standing against imperialism and American supremacism cuts directly to the heart of our difficulties in this world, which is why so much energy goes into keeping us focused on identity politics and vapid energy sucks which inconvenience the powerful in no way whatsoever. If you want to out-wrestle a crocodile, you must bind shut its mouth. If you want to take down a globe-spanning empire, you must take out its weapons. Opposing warmongering and killing public trust in the propaganda used to justify it is the best way to do this.

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“Weapons of Mass Destruction”: The Last Refuge of the Global Interventionist | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on February 25, 2021

Ryan McMaken

The threat of “nuclear proliferation” remains one of the great catch-all reasons—the other being “humanitarian” intervention—given for why the US regime and its allies ought to be given unlimited power to invade foreign states and impose sanctions at any given time.

We saw this at work during the run-up to the 2003 invasion of Iraq. It was said that nuclear weapons were among the “weapons of mass destruction” being developed or harbored by Saddam Hussein’s regime. Thus, it was “necessary” that the United States invade Iraq and enact regime change.

It is now very clear, of course, that the Bush-Cheney administration was lying and there was no credible evidence that Iraq’s long-defunct nuclear program had been revived.

But let’s say for the sake of argument that Iraq was well on its way to developing a nuclear weapon in early 2003. Would it have become “necessary” for the US to invade Iraq and install a de facto puppet regime that would agree to not develop nuclear weapons?

The question is relevant, of course, because interventionists are now making the same claims about Iran as were made about Iraq in 2003.

The conventional thinking among neoconservatives and other interventionists in Washington is that yes, the United States is always justified in invading foreign states if it prevents nuclear proliferation. If this is not done, we are told, the new nuclear state will surely use its new weapons, or at least threaten to use them for purposes of blackmail. 

Unfortunately for the interventionists, history has repeatedly shown this claim to be tenuous at best. Since 1945, as more and more states have become part of the “nuclear club,” each new member has failed to live up to the predictions that proliferation will quickly lead to geopolitical destabilization and war.

This has become more important in recent years, as humanitarian interventions have apparently lost their cache with the American public. In recent years, Washington has tried to drum up support for regime change invasions in both Venezuela and Syria, yet those efforts failed to catch on.

Threat of nuclear proliferation, then, likely offers the last hope for the interventionists when it comes to regime change in Iran.

Those Guys Are Crazy!

Perhaps the most-used argument made against tolerating proliferation often rests on the idea that most regimes are too insane, irrational, or incompetent to manage nuclear weapons responsibly—however one might define “responsible” stewardship of weapons that exist to destroy entire metropolitan populations.

The claim is thus made that regimes in Iran, Iraq, and North Korea—to name just three examples—are likely to be unrestrained by the instinct of self-preservation and that thus we cannot apply traditional theories of nuclear deterrence to these regimes.

Yet, this theory has yet to amass any evidence to support it. Are we to believe that the Soviet and Chinese regimes have always been headed by eminently sane people? After all, as John Mueller notes,

the weapons have proliferated to large, important countries run by unchallenged monsters who, at the time they acquired the bombs, were certifiably deranged: Josef Stalin, who in 1949 was planning to change the climate of the Soviet Union by planting a lot of trees, and Mao Zedong, who in 1964 had just carried out a bizarre social experiment that resulted in an artificial famine in which tens of millions of Chinese perished.

Mueller suggests that it is incumbent on the opponents of an Iranian bomb to show that Iran’s leaders are less sane than Stalin.

Some might nevertheless claim (however implausibly) that Muslims are somehow more naturally murderous than Stalin. Yet we might note that this doesn’t explain how the Islamic Republic of Pakistan—an occasional military dictatorship—has somehow refrained from using its nuclear arms against its hated rival India.

In actual experience, regimes that acquire a bomb tend to moderate their behavior. As Kenneth Waltz points out:

every new nuclear state has behaved exactly the way the old nuclear states have behaved. One can describe the way all nuclear states have behaved in one word: responsibly. When the United States contemplated the Soviet Union one day having its own nuclear weapons, we were horrified by the prospect. How could we live? How could the world live with such a country as the Soviet Union—which we saw as bent on world domination—having nuclear weapons? And when China developed its own nuclear weapons, we repeated the same way of thinking—“My God! China? China is crazy!”

But in fact, if you think of the Cultural Revolution, China took very good care of its nuclear weapons. They ensured that they would not fall under the hands of the revolutionaries and came through that horrible ten-year period. The fact is that people worry that a new nuclear country, once it gets a nuclear shield, would then begin to behave immoderately or irresponsibly under the cover of its own nuclear weapons. Well, that has never happened. Every country that has had nuclear weapons has behaved moderately.

(Of course, by “moderately” he only means in terms of provoking full-scale war with rivals.)

In any case, the notion that regimes that acquire nuclear warheads then go off the deep end has yet to be observed in real life.

This is why, in a 2012 forum for PBS, John Mearsheimer noted that if Iran were to acquire nuclear weapons, this would likely stabilize the region rather than destabilize it:

I think there’s no question that a nuclear-armed Iran would bring stability to the region, because nuclear weapons are weapons of peace. They’re weapons of deterrence.

And because nuclear weapons are useful only for deterring attacks, they cannot be used for so-called nuclear blackmail:

We have created this myth in this country over the past few years in talking about Iran that any country that acquires nuclear weapons can blackmail other countries or use those nuclear weapons for offensive purposes. We have a lot of theory and a huge amount of empirical evidence, 67 years now, which show that no country with nuclear weapons can blackmail another country, as long as somebody is protecting that country or it has its own nuclear weapons.

Rather, in the case of Iran, according to Waltz, if the goal is stability in the region, that answer lies in ending Israel’s nuclear monopoly in the region—which has been a source of enduring instability. In the July/August 2012 issue of Foreign Affairs, Waltz observed:

Israel’s regional nuclear monopoly, which has proved remarkably durable for the past four decades, has long fueled instability in the Middle East. In no other region of the world does a lone, unchecked nuclear state exist.

Of course, it is easy to understand why Israel wants to remain the sole nuclear power in the region and why it is willing to use force to secure that status. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq to prevent a challenge to its nuclear monopoly. It did the same to Syria in 2007 and is now considering similar action against Iran. But the very acts that have allowed Israel to maintain its nuclear edge in the short term have prolonged an imbalance that is unsustainable in the long term. Israel’s proven ability to strike potential nuclear rivals with impunity has inevitably made its enemies anxious to develop the means to prevent Israel from doing so again. In this way, the current tensions are best viewed not as the early stages of a relatively recent Iranian nuclear crisis but rather as the final stages of a decades-long Middle East nuclear crisis that will end only when a balance of military power is restored.

Nuclear Arms Offer a Solution to Threats of Regime Change

Indeed, the case of Israel is not unique in the sense that the United States provokes the same sort of instability worldwide.

The United States has either carried out regime change or threatened to do so in a number of cases. This means those countries targeted by the US are highly motivated to acquire arms, which these regimes correctly see as the only reliable deterrent against US invasion. Waltz continues

There is only one way that a country can reliably deter a dominant power, and that is by developing its own nuclear force. When president Bush identified the countries that he said constituted an “axis of evil”—namely, Iraq, Iran, and North Korea—and then proceeded to invade one of them—namely, Iraq—that was certainly a lesson quickly learned by both Iran and North Korea. That is to say, that if a country wants to deter the United States it has to equip itself with nuclear force. I think we all have seen that demonstrated very clearly.

In other words, it is the United States, and to a lesser extent the State of Israel, which have created situations in which states become highly motivated to acquire nuclear arms for defensive reasons.

If the US really wanted to reduce the likelihood of regimes like Iran and North Korea seeking and expanding nuclear capabilities, the US would disavow its doctrine of regime change explicitly. It would also renounce the notion of an “axis of evil” and cut back the US’s nuclear arsenal to a force designed for minimum deterrence.

Until that happens, the United States itself remains a primary motivation for nuclear armament among regimes that have run afoul of the Washington establishment.

This, however, is unlikely to happen, because a perpetual stance of antiproliferation and regime change pays many dividends in Washington. It keeps the Pentagon’s budget sky-high, and it allows the regime to claim it is enforcing worldwide peace, even while it remains a source of instability.

In the sloppy world of public debates over foreign policy, this appears to many voters to make sense. As Mueller has suggested, it’s easy to just keep pushing the panic button and then taking the credit for the fact that World War III has yet to break out:

Alarmists have one great advantage. If their alarm proves to be justified, they will look like prophets. If nothing happens, they can claim that this desirable condition has been the result of efforts their alarmism has inspired. Thus, when New York Police Department Commissioner David Cohen is asked how he knows whether his extensive counterterrorism programs (which have had an almost perfect record of not finding any terrorists) have been successful, he curtly responds, “They haven’t attacked us.” Reporting this comment, reporters Matt Apuzzo and Adam Goldman note that “the absence of a terrorist attack has been the silver‐bullet argument for national security pro‐fessionals.” Although it is a “flawed argument” logically, they continue, it has been “nearly irrefutable” politically. The dodge, then, is, (1) we are trying to keep them from attacking; (2) they haven’t attacked; therefore (3) it must be our efforts that have kept them from doing so.

The question we must ask ourselves, however, is: At what cost?

How many more countries will the United States bomb or invade in the name of wiping out weapons of mass destruction? We’ve already seen the side effects of these efforts. Not only are hundreds of thousands of human beings killed in these wars—as was the case in Iraq—but these conflicts also create immense refugee and immigration crises while creating power vacuums. ISIS, for example, would have never gained much success at all had the US not destroyed Saddam’s secularist Ba’athist regime in Iraq.

These costs are sure to be studiously ignored. Whether we’re talking about global warming or covid-19, or “weapons of mass destruction,” the strategy today is that we must trust the regime to take whatever drastic steps it wishes or else we face an existential threat. We must adopt environmental regulations that would force billions of Africans and Asians back into poverty “or else.” We must destroy civil liberties and impose lockdowns on countless millions “or else.” We must carry out regime change in yet another country “or else.”

This narrative has worked wonders for regimes seeking ever more power. They won’t abandon this strategy any time soon. Author:

Contact Ryan McMaken

Ryan McMaken (@ryanmcmaken) is a senior editor at the Mises Institute. Send him your article submissions for the Mises Wire and The Austrian, but read article guidelines first. Ryan has degrees in economics and political science from the University of Colorado and was a housing economist for the State of Colorado. He is the author of Commie Cowboys: The Bourgeoisie and the Nation-State in the Western Genre.

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Iraq never had a suicide bomb, until…

Posted by M. C. on February 15, 2021

Iraq had never had a suicide bombing until after George W. Bush invaded and occupied their country.Iraq was a mix of Sunnis, allied with Saudi Arabia, and Shiites, allied with Iran. Shiites were the majority of the population, but Sunnis held political power.George W. Bush changed that. The “purple-fingered elections,” hailed as a victory for democracy, gave the Shiite majority absolute control over the lives and fortunes of the Sunni minority.Civil War resulted. Bush had put Iran’s Shiite allies in power. They forced him to surrender and leave the country, and refused his request to station any military bases in their country.A million Iraqis were killed, along with thousands of Americans. And for what? To empower Iran in the capital and in the east, and to turn western Iraq over to bin Ladenites.In Chapter 7 of Gus Cantavero’s video adaptation of Scott’s new book Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism, Scott explains how the “the Surge worked” was basically PR for David Petraeus, and how the U.S. turned around and fought the Shiites they had been allied with for years.
Arm yourself with knowledge so you can fight for peace. Buy Scott’s new book, Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism

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What Biden’s Warmongering Will Actually Look Like – Caitlin Johnstone

Posted by M. C. on January 25, 2021

author: Caitlin Johnstone

There’s a news story about a US military convoy entering Syria being shared around social media with captions claiming that President Biden is already “invading” Syria which is getting tons of shares in both right-wing and left anti-imperialist circles. The virality of these shares has inspired clickbait titles like “Joe Biden Invades Syria with Convoy of US Troops and Choppers on First Full Day as President“, which are being shared with equal virality.

But if you read the original report everyone jumped on, accurately titled “US military convoy enters northeast Syria: report”, you don’t have to read too far to get to this line: “Other local media report that such maneuvers are not unusual as the US often moves transfers equipment between Iraq and Syria.”

So while this is a movement of troops between illegitimate military occupations which have no business existing in either country, it is nothing new and would have been happening regardless of which candidate had won the last US presidential election.

Another inaccurate narrative that’s gone completely viral is the claim that Biden is sending more troops to Iraq. This one traces back to a single Twitter post by some Trumpy account with the handle “@amuse” who shared a Jerusalem Post article with the caption “BREAKING: President Biden is considering reversing Trump’s drawdown in Iraq by adding thousands of troops to combat growing terror threats in the region as evidenced by Thursday’s attack near the US embassy.”

If you read the actual JPost article titled “Baghdad bombing could be the Biden admin’s first challenge” you will see that it contains no such claim, and if you were to search a bit you would find @amuse claiming that they were sharing something they’d learned from “sources” in DC instead of accurately summarizing the contents of the article. Unless you know this person and know them to be consistently trustworthy, there is no valid reason to believe claims allegedly said by alleged anonymous sources to some openly partisan anonymous account on Twitter.

But the bogus tweet was amplified by many influential accounts, most notably by Donald Trump Jr with the caption “Getting back into wars on the first full day. The Swamp/War Inc. is thrilled right now.” Its virality then caused it to work its way outward to dupe many well-meaning anti-imperialists (myself included until I looked into it) who are vigilant against Biden’s notorious warmongering, and now there’s a widespread narrative throughout every part of the ideological spectrum that Biden is escalating warmongering in both Syria and Iraq.

It is entirely possible–probable even–that reliable warmonger Joe Biden will end up sending more US troops to Iraq and Syria at some point during his administration. But if the antiwar community keeps staring at the movement of ground troops with hypervigilant intensity, they won’t be paying enough attention to the areas where the more deadly aspects of Biden’s hawkishness are likely to manifest.

Donald Trump is the first president in modern history did not start a new war.

— Donald Trump Jr. (@DonaldJTrumpJr) January 22, 2021

Trump’s base has been forcefully pushing the narrative that the previous president didn’t start any new wars, which while technically true ignores his murderous actions like vetoing the bill to save Yemen from US-backed genocide and actively blocking aid to its people, murdering untold tens of thousands of Venezuelans with starvation sanctions, rolling out many world-threatening cold war escalations against Russia, engaging in insane brinkmanship with Iran, greatly increasing the number of bombs dropped per day from the previous administration, killing record numbers of civilians, and reducing military accountability for those airstrikes. Trump may not have started any “new wars”, but he kept the old ones going and inflamed some of them. Just because you don’t start any new wars doesn’t mean you’re not a warmonger.

Rather than a throwback to “new wars” and the old-school ground invasions of the Bush era, the warmongering we’ll be seeing from the Biden administration is more likely to look like this. More starvation sanctions. More proxy conflicts. More cold war. More coups. More special ops. More drone strikes. More slow motion strangulation, less ham-fisted overt warfare.

It is certainly possible that Biden could launch a new full-scale war; the empire is in desperate straits right now, and it could turn out that a very desperate maneuver is needed to maintain global domination. But that isn’t the method that it has favored lately. The US empire much prefers nowadays to pour its resources into less visible acts of violence like economic siege warfare and arming proxy militias; the Iraq invasion left Americans so bitter toward conventional war that any more of it would increase the risk of an actual antiwar movement in the United States, which would be disastrous for the empire. So rather than tempt fate with the bad publicity of flag-draped coffins flying home by the thousands again imperialism is now served up with a bit more subtlety, with the military playing more of a backup role to guard the infrastructure of this new approach.

It appears clear that this would be the Biden administration’s preferred method of warmongering if given the choice based on who’s going to be in it. The incoming Secretary of State Tony Blinken now advocates replacing the old Bush model of full-scale war with “discreet, small-scale sustainable operations, maybe led by special forces, to support local actors”. Biden’s nominee for CIA Director William Burns urged caution in the lead-up to the Iraq invasion and later expressed regret that he didn’t push back against it. Rather than picking bloodthirsty psychopath Michele Flournoy for Defense Secretary as many expected, Biden went with the less cartoonishly evil Raytheon board member Lloyd J. Austin III. All this while depraved coupmonger Victoria Nuland is being added to the administration and the murderous Venezuela coup is folded into its policy.

Nominee to lead State Department Tony Blinken recently explained that Biden’s pledge to “end the forever wars” means the US will reduce large-scale deployments while expanding secret wars waged by special forces and proxies.

Watch the full exposé here:

— Dan Cohen (@dancohen3000) November 23, 2020

Too much of the antiwar community is still stuck in the early 2000s. The western war machine just doesn’t generally kill that way anymore, and we need to adjust our perspectives if we want to address the actual murderousness as it is actually showing up. If you keep looking out for obsolete ground invasions, you’re going to miss the new form of warmongering completely.

Trump supporters who claim to oppose war missed this completely throughout the entirety of his presidency, confining the concept of “war” solely to its most blatant iterations in order to feel like their president was a peacemaker instead of a warmonger. One of the few positive developments that could potentially arise from the Biden administration is helping such people to recognize acts of violence like starvation sanctions as war, since they will be opposing Biden and that is how this new administration will be manifesting much of its murderousness.

The political/media class likes to keep everyone focused on the differences between each president and his immediate predecessor, but we can learn a whole lot more by looking at their similarities. Biden’s warmongering is going to look a lot like Trump’s–just directed in some different directions and expressing in slightly different ways–despite all the energy that has been poured into painting them as two wildly different individuals. Once you see beyond the partisan puppet show, you see a single oligarchic empire continuing the same murderous agendas from one sock puppet administration to the next.


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