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Posts Tagged ‘James Mattis’

What U.S. Troops Are Really Doing In Syria | The National Interest

Posted by M. C. on September 25, 2020

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/what-us-troops-are-really-doing-syria-169410

by Michael Hall

James Mattis famously resigned from his secretary of defense post citing opposition to President Donald Trump’s order to remove U.S. troops from Syria. So it came as a mild surprise when it was recently confirmed that Mattis opposed a plan to assassinate Bashar al-Assad, the president of Syria. This opposition was a prudent move as deposing Assad would not end Syria’s civil war but throw the country into deeper chaos. But this seeming incongruity of Mattis the hawk contra Mattis the dove is representative of the larger contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy.

 

These contradictions arise from the fact that U.S. policy in Syria has always been centered around opposition to Assad, rather than the defeat of ISIS, whose caliphate was destroyed long before Trump’s withdrawal order.

 

Perhaps this contradiction is most glaringly seen in the justifications Washington offers for the U.S. military presence in Syria. We are frequently told we’re there for one reason only to be given a new reason a few months later. It’s hard not to notice.

We were told the ISIS caliphate had to be defeated. But they lost their last scrap of territory in March 2019. Denied a physical base of operations, those going under the name of ISIS today are—as far as legitimate U.S. interests are concerned—indistinguishable from any other ragtag Sunni militias. But a defeated ISIS still wasn’t enough to convince Washington to withdraw.

 

ISIS’s caliphate was destroyed, completing the military mission that brought U.S. troops to the country. Why then are our soldiers still there? We’ve also been told they’re over there to counter Iran (which, by the way, had the same goal of destroying the ISIS caliphate).

 

Years ago, we were told that it’s important to be in Syria to counter Russia too. But today this mission—if it can be called that—amounts to the occasional road rage incident involving convoys representing the world’s only two nuclear superpowers pathetically struggling for space on a road or wheat field. It’s notable that this reason was recently revived to justify the decision to send more troops to Syria.

We’re also told that it’s important to support the Kurds and, though Washington has been quieter on this front lately, we were once told training and equipping anti-Assad militants was also vital. This latter notion resulted in an embarrassing situation where the CIA’s favored militants were fighting the Pentagon’s favored militants. These local groups have their own interests, but they shouldn’t be confused for America’s interests.

 

More recently, President Trump has touted a plan to “secure the oil” and his administration has paved the way for a U.S. company to manage some oil fields in the war-torn country. Trump has cited this as a reason for keeping the last few hundred U.S. troops in Syria. The thing is, ensuring American access to Syrian oil demands a certain level of security. More bluntly, it necessitates an endless occupation of Syria.

But, like any of the above reasons, it would be a mistake to accept that oil serves as the principal justification for the U.S. presence in Syria.

 

Trump has also defended the decision to keep a small contingent of troops in Syria by stating that Israel and Jordan asked him to keep our forces there. This justification was reaffirmed in a recent Trump rally where the president characteristically stated off-the-cuff, “The fact is, we don’t have to be in the Middle East, other than we want to protect Israel. We’ve been very good to Israel.”

What are we to make of this flurry of reasons for staying in Syria? It may be a little bit of each, but the overarching reason has always been to engage in a campaign of “regime change-lite,” tragically keeping Syria territorially divided in a simmering civil war and making Syrians bear the brunt of any—and there are many—negative consequences. This is why the United States originally armed anti-Assad rebels and why troops that were ostensibly sent to defeat ISIS have remained after the fall of the caliphate.

 

But viewing all these reasons together, it is dizzying to keep track of them. It is perhaps tempting to just take Trump at his word and assume that we’re actually there for the oil. While the amount of oil in Syria is a significant amount for Syrians, it’s nowhere near enough to be a vital concern for the United States. According to the U.S. Energy Information Association, the amount of oil in Syria is not even two percent of what Iran or Iraq boast, never mind America’s own status as the number one oil producer in the world.

In fact, this is what’s striking about all of the above reasons in this list—not one of the justifications is about something vital to the security of the United States. Instead of carefully deconstructing each reason, this bird’s eye view is all we need to make sense of this confusing list of inconsistent and constantly evolving justifications for staying in Syria.

 

One of the greatest contradictions in Washington’s Syria policy is not the reason(s) that we’re there but the fact that we haven’t left. At least twice now, there has been an order to withdraw that has never been carried out.

U.S. policy toward Syria is defined by an absurdity that can’t be neatly untangled—a low-intensity regime change mission defined as anything other than its central mission. Every now and then, we’re offered a new explanation for why our troops are in Syria. At this point, the best response is to say, “enough is enough.”

 

We don’t need to keep playing this game of roulette where Washington spins the wheel and tells us why our troops are there—it’s a racket and should be recognized as such. Syria’s problems aren’t our problems and the only sensible option that comports with U.S. interests is a full withdrawal of American forces.

Michael R. Hall is the communications manager of Defense Priorities and a geopolitical analyst. Follow him on Twitter: @michaelryhall.

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Playing With Fire: Democrats and Their Military Quislings Flirt With Borderline Seditious Military Coup – Revolver

Posted by M. C. on September 15, 2020

https://www.revolver.news/2020/09/democrats-military-coup/

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As the election approaches, more and more ominous evidence is quickly piling up that the U.S. military’s nearly 250-year separation from national politics is eroding. Frightening signs indicate that senior members of the military are open to an anti-Trump coup d’etat. If such a coup happens, Democrats will gleefully cheer it on.

Revolver wants make clear that this article is not based on any inside information. Nobody on the Joint Chiefs of Staff is passing on warnings about what the military is planning. Instead, this article is based on a reading of public statements and events, which are already worrisome enough.

The first red flag is buried in Bob Woodward’s latest book on the Trump Administration, Rage. According to the book, former Defense Secretary James Mattis spent much of his tenure in office plotting to undermine the elected leader who appointed him.

The book documents private grumblings, periods of exasperation and wrestling about whether to quit among the so-called adults of the Trump orbit: Mattis, [then Director of National Intelligence Dan] Coats and then-Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Mattis quietly went to Washington National Cathedral to pray about his concern for the nation’s fate under Trump’s command and, according to Woodward, told Coats, “There may come a time when we have to take collective action” since Trump is “dangerous. He’s unfit.” [Washington Post]

The Post glances over this incident quickly, treating it as just one more example of a disgruntled senior Trump official. But it is far more than that. This is the top defense official in the United States, himself a former general, discussing “collective action” against the president with a top intelligence official. “Collective action” could take many forms, perhaps a concerted effort to invoke the 25th Amendment and have the president declared incapacitated and removed. This would be a coup, and it would be motivated not by Trump’s incapacity, which is justa fig leaf, but by political disagreements.

Later, when the President had rioters cleared from Lafayette Square after several days of violence and destruction, Mattis suggested the president’s decision was illegal.

When I joined the military, some 50 years ago, I swore an oath to support and defend the Constitution. Never did I dream that troops taking that same oath would be ordered under any circumstance to violate the Constitutional rights of their fellow citizens—much less to provide a bizarre photo op for the elected commander-in-chief, with military leadership standing alongside. [The Atlantic]

Dispersing violent rioters who have already nearly burned down a church is not “violating the Constitutional rights of fellow citizens.” Make no mistake, Mattis knows exactly what he is suggesting. When soldiers are given an illegal order, they must refuse. Mattis is laying the groundwork for soldiers and generals to refuse the president’s orders. From there, it is a very small step to simply removing the president entirely.

Mattis is now a private citizen. But there are worrying signs the current military brass, the commanders, are steeling themselves to intervene in civilian politics. On June 2, after the worst week of rioting in America since the MLK assassination riots, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mark Milley issued a public memo that served as a public warning to the president.

 

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Liberal Mush From the Mad Dog – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on June 5, 2020

My guess: Mattis, an obedient servant of President Trump for two years, has been persuaded that the wind is blowing the other way and his “place in history” demands that he get himself on the correct side.

The general has just defected to the resistance.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/06/patrick-j-buchanan/liberal-mush-from-the-mad-dog/

By

In his statement to The Atlantic magazine, former Defense Secretary General James Mattis says of the events of the last 10 days that have shaken the nation as it has not been shaken since 1968:

“We must not be distracted by a small number of lawbreakers.”

Is “a small number of lawbreakers” an apt description of wilding mobs who have showered cops with bottles, bricks and rocks in 40 cities, looted stores in the hundreds, torched police cars, and injured dozens of Secret Service personnel defending the White House?

Is “a small number of lawbreakers” the way a patriot would describe anti-American anarchists who desecrated the Lincoln Memorial, the World War II Memorial on the Mall and the Korean War Memorial and tried to burn down the Church of the Presidents in Lafayette Square?

Was the sacking of Georgetown, Rodeo Drive in LA, 5th Avenue in New York and 40 city centers, the work of a few “lawbreakers”?

Is that a good description of the people who gravely wounded that cop in Las Vegas and shot four cops and murdered that retired black police chief in St. Louis?

The protesters, says Mattis, are “rightly demanding … Equal Justice Under Law.” This is a “wholesome and unifying demand — one that all of us should be able to get behind.”

But what does the general think of the methods and means the “protesters” have used — the massive civil disobedience, the blocking of streets, the vilification of police, the contempt for curfews. What does the general think of protesters who provide moral cover for insurrection?

“Donald Trump is the first president in my lifetime who does not try to unite the American people,” says Mattis. Trump “doesn’t even pretend to try. Instead he tries to divide us.”

But it was not Trump who divided America in this racial crisis.

The nation was united in revulsion at the criminal cruelty that led to George Floyd’s death. The nation was united in backing an enraged people’s right to protest that atrocity.

What divided America were the methods and means protesters began using in the first hours of the Minneapolis riot — the attacks on cops with bottles, bricks and Molotov cocktails.

In Mattis’ statement, one finds not a word of sympathy or support for the police bearing the brunt of mob brutality for defending the communities they serve, while defending the constitutional right of the protesters to curse them as racist and rogue cops.

“Keeping public order rests with civilian state and local leaders who best understand their communities and are answerable to them,” not to the military, says the general.

Correct. But what happens when mobs run wild to where a governor of New York is denouncing the NYPD for failing to protect the city from anarchy and is threatening to replace the mayor for failing to put down the insurrection.

In July 1967, the 82nd Airborne was sent into Detroit to put down the riot. In 1968, there were federal troops in D.C. to stop the rioting in the wake of Dr. King’s assassination. In the violent protests of the Nixon era, U.S. airborne troops were brought into the basement of the Executive Office Building.

The general quotes James Madison: “America united with a handful of troops, or without a single soldier exhibits a more forbidding posture to foreign invaders than an America disunited.”

And how, General, did that work out for Madison when the “foreign invaders” arrived in Maryland in August 1814, marched up Bladensburg Road, and burned the Capitol and White House and Alexandria, while “Little Jimmy” fled out the Brookville Road?

If memory serves, it was Gen. Andrew Jackson and the troops he pulled together for the Battle of New Orleans who defeated the British and saved the Union.

“Society cannot exist,” wrote Edmund Burke, “unless a controlling power upon will and appetite be placed somewhere; and the less of it there is within, the more there must be without.

“It is ordained in the eternal constitution of things, that men of intemperate minds cannot be free. Their passions forge their fetters.”

That is where we are now. Society and civilization are on the line.

If mob tactics are now how we change laws and alter public policy, the democratic republic is dead and we have gone full Third World.

Some of us do not believe America is a racist society or that the nation’s police, numbering a million men and women, are shot through with anti-black racism.

Some of us believe the police are the last line of defense we have against that “small number of lawbreakers” Mattis tells us are no problem.

Did the general actually produce this pile of mush that reads like something out of Ramsey Clark in the 1960s?

My guess: Mattis, an obedient servant of President Trump for two years, has been persuaded that the wind is blowing the other way and his “place in history” demands that he get himself on the correct side.

The general has just defected to the resistance.

Be seeing you

 

 

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The US Has Been Fighting “Forever Wars” Against Muslims for 120 Years

Posted by M. C. on December 30, 2019

“I want no prisoners,” ordered General Jacob Smith on Samar Island during the war in 1902. “I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please me.”

Fast forward over 100 years later and it is difficult to see how U.S. military doctrine has changed for the better. A video came to light in 2010 of then-General James Mattis saying that it was “a hell of a lot of fun to shoot” people in Afghanistan. Mattis was later rewarded for his heroism and bravery by being crowned Donald Trump’s secretary of defense for a short while.

https://themindunleashed.com/2019/12/us-forever-wars-muslims.html

(TMU Op-Ed) — U.S.-led wars in the Middle East have killed some four million Muslims since 1990. The recently published Afghanistan papers, provided an insight into the longest war in U.S. history and revealed how U.S. officials continuously lied about the progress being made in Afghanistan, lacked a basic understanding of the country, were hiding evidence that the war was unwinnable, and had wasted as much as $1 trillion in the process.

Unfortunately, this phenomenon is nothing new. While most people accept that the United States has been interfering with Muslim populations quite heavily since World War II, the truth is that the U.S. has been fighting “forever wars” against Muslim populations for well over 100 years. (If you want to really go back into history, Thomas Jefferson was also fighting Muslims in the oft-forgotten Barbary Wars in the early 1800s).

The average American school curriculum likely doesn’t feature the fact that the U.S. waged a war from 1899 to 1913 in the southernmost island of the Philippines. Known as the Moro War, it was the longest sustained military campaign in American history until the war in Afghanistan surpassed it a few years ago. As a result, the U.S. and the Philippine governments are still embroiled in a battle with Islamist insurgents in the southern Philippines, which takes the meaning of “forever war” to a whole new level.

Despite over a century passing since the U.S. led a counterinsurgency war against the Islamic Moros, its similarities with the Afghanistan war are incredibly noteworthy, to say the least.

Even reading accounts of the terrain in which both conflicts were fought suggest they were equally as treacherous. As detailed in the memoir of Captain John Pershing, fighting the Moro Wars “entailed guerrilla warfare in a country unknown to us, with its swamps and rivers and its hills and mountains, every foot of which was familiar to the inhabitants and their insurrecto troops.”

While the U.S. often boasts about fighting for freedom, many Americans may be wondering how it is that their freedom came to be located in the Philippines in the first place. Was it worth sending 75,000 American troops in just 1900 alone to the Philippines to fight and die? And was the operation even remotely successful?

More importantly seems to be the indication that the U.S. military was not welcome in the Philippines, much as it is not welcomed by Afghanistan or any other Muslim-majority nation which has to duel with the U.S. Empire. After the U.S. defeated the Spanish fleet in Manila Bay and annexed the Philippines under the 1898 Treaty of Paris, the Moro population were not even consulted. The U.S. then sought to “pacify” them using brute force.

“I want no prisoners,” ordered General Jacob Smith on Samar Island during the war in 1902. “I wish you to kill and burn, the more you kill and burn the better you will please me.”

Fast forward over 100 years later and it is difficult to see how U.S. military doctrine has changed for the better. A video came to light in 2010 of then-General James Mattis saying that it was “a hell of a lot of fun to shoot” people in Afghanistan. Mattis was later rewarded for his heroism and bravery by being crowned Donald Trump’s secretary of defense for a short while.

As you can imagine, General Smith received his wish just as Mattis after him, with perhaps half a million locals dying as a result of the U.S. invasion. At Bud Dajo, some 1,000 Moro separatists, including their families had fled to the crest of a volcano to escape the American invasion. Allegedly, American troops reached the top of the volcano and fired down into the crater until they killed 99 percent of the inhabitants. The colonizers then took the time and effort to pose for a photograph with the hundreds of dead bodies (no, seriously).

It is also worth noting that some 4,000 U.S. soldiers lost their lives during this particular war. This closely mirrors the number of coalition deaths since 2001 in Afghanistan—and for good reason. To minimize U.S. personnel deaths in the Philippines’ war, the U.S. military deployed Filipinos led by U.S. officers into battle. (Sound familiar?)

At one stage, Filipinos ended up doing almost all of the dying as U.S. soldiers slowly left the battle theatre. In fact, the final year of conflict was the bloodiest year of the Moro war. This seems to be the trend in a number of U.S. wars. This is certainly true with respect to Afghanistan, with the U.S. military and its Afghan lackeys on the ground killing more civilians than the Taliban in recent times.

But what is all this senseless violence for? To put it simply, whether in the Philippines, Iraq, Afghanistan, or elsewhere, this rampage is all borne out of the belief that America’s subordinates are not capable of ruling themselves and will ultimately profit from American occupation. This was actually the firm thinking of U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt, who saw it as the duty of the United States to maintain the Philippines as a protectorate. This idea was famously (or infamously) termed the “White Man’s Burden” in a poem written by Rudyard Kipling, who sent the poem to Teddy prior to his decision to engage in the Philippine-American war.  A 1902 Life Magazine cover even depicted an apparent waterboarding of a Filipino POW by U.S. personnel (the supporters in the background seem to be watching with glee).

When not much has changed, it seems it never will. We can also expect this type of activity to continue for the foreseeable future, given the geopolitical stakes at hand. In the case of the Philippines, it was recently reported that Chinese and Philippine foreign ministers have sealed an agreement for the two nations to pursue joint oil and gas exploration in the hotly contested South China Sea.

As it turns out, the South China Sea could contain anywhere between 125 billion barrels of crude oil and 500 trillion cubic feet of natural gas. The idea that a foreign adversary, especially one rising to prowess on the world stage such as China, could control the majority of these resources unchecked is a major blow to the U.S. Empire.

Whether it is lithium, opium, and geostrategic chess moves in Afghanistan; or natural gas and oil in the South China Sea, Muslim populations will continue to suffer in a colonial terror campaign which has been unfolding for over 100 years.

Think of it this way: if another century passes and your great grandchildren had never heard of the “forever war” that took place in Afghanistan in the early 2000s, all the while watching a new war unfold in the Indo-Pacific region for similar reasons, you would rightfully be fuming in your grave.

By Darius Shahtahmasebi | Creative Commons | TheMindUnleashed.com

Be seeing you

Secretary of Defense? Donald Trump Meeting With General ...

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Secretary of Defense Jim Webb? | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on January 4, 2019

Likely our best chance to turn the War Department to a Defense Department.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/secretary-of-defense-jim-webb/

By CURT MILLS

The Democrat and scourge of foreign wars is drawing praise from many Trump supporters.

Jim Webb—the former Virginia senator, Ronald Reagan Navy secretary, and brief but memorable 2016 Democratic presidential candidate—addressed The American Conservative’s foreign policy conference in November 2016, immediately following Donald Trump’s shock White House victory.

He recalled what a friend and fellow Marine told him about Trump: “He said: ‘This guy Donald Trump. The Republicans hate him. The Democrats hate him. The media hates him. I think I found my guy.’”… Read the rest of this entry »

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US Admits ‘Doing the Planning’ for Saudi Strikes in Yemen

Posted by M. C. on March 29, 2018

US involvement in mid-air refueling as beneficial for civilians being bombed

I bet the civilians being bombed in the poorest of the poor countries feel better knowing their destruction is being run by Uncle Sam.

The dead civilian men, women and children probably not so much.

http://theantimedia.com/us-planning-saudi-strikes-yemen/

Written by 

Mattis now admits the US is “doing the planning” in Yemen strikes, and has shown the Saudis how the concept of a no-strike zone is supposed to work, and engaged in a maturing process of “battlefield management” intended to see Saudi strikes killing fewer civilians. Read the rest of this entry »

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Pentagon boss just doesn’t understand how US operates around the world — RT Op-Edge

Posted by M. C. on January 26, 2018

I was going to call Mad Dog Mattis the king of the baldfaced liars. But on serious reflection he doesn’t have the polished, mercenary finesse of Bubba nor AlGore.

Now there was a team!

https://www.rt.com/op-edge/416974-mattis-military-us-asia-pentagon/

US Defense Secretary James Mattis is a Marine’s Marine and a respected military scholar. Yet his recent remarks to reporters about US conduct around the world smack of either hypocrisy or woeful misinformation.
Mattis is visiting Indonesia and Vietnam this week, as part of a US effort to expand alliances in the Asia-Pacific region. On his way over to Jakarta on Monday, he held a “press gaggle” on board the plane and, according to transcripts provided by the Pentagon, said this:

I think that what we’re looking for is a world where we solve problems, and we don’t shred trust. We don’t militarize features in the middle of international waters. We don’t invade other countries, in Russia’s case ‒ Georgia, Ukraine. That we settle things by international rule of law, you know, this sort of thing.

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Did the US allow ISIS to escape to keep the fighting going?

Posted by M. C. on November 22, 2017

Does this mean that we can expect considerable fumbling and a game with no exit strategy, something like a replay of Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya? You betcha.

http://www.unz.com/pgiraldi/boy-is-this-stupid-or-what/

Even the U.S. media has been reluctantly reporting that ISIS has been rolled back in Syria by the joint efforts of the Syrian Army and the Russian air force with the United States and its allies playing very much secondary roles in the conflict. The Russians have, in fact, complained that Washington seemed just a tad disinterested in actually cooperating to destroy the last remnants of ISIS in the few areas that the group still controls, citing most recently an alleged incident during the Syrian government liberation of the town of Abu Kamal in which U.S. air assets on site appear to have allowed ISIS fighters to escape. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Pentagon’s Blank Check

Posted by M. C. on March 31, 2017

https://bostonreview.net/war-security/benjamin-h-friedman-pentagons-blank-check

But there is simply no good reason to spend a dollar more on defense, let alone grant Trump’s request. The administration still has not articulated a strategic rationale for its proposed buildup. The budget plan settles for platitudes about defeating terrorism and rebuilding the military, but its details do not privilege either goal. 

But while readiness problems do exist, the “crisis” is a myth made for fundraising. A budget that reallocated funds to operational accounts could fix readiness problems without an increase in military spending. So would a defense strategy that asked less of the military. Trump’s buildup is actually likely to exacerbate readiness problems because it adds forces without providing sufficient funds to support them. Read the rest of this entry »

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