Speaking of libertarians, Ron Paul and Daniel McAdams say some sensible things about the Syrian gas attack and its ensuing fallout:
By Glenn Greenwald
During his Tuesday night address to the U.S. Congress, President Trump paid tribute to Ryan Owens, the Navy SEAL killed in the January commando raid in Yemen that Trump ordered. As he did so, television cameras focused for almost four full minutes on Owens’s grieving wife, Carryn, as she wept and applauded while sitting next to and periodically being touched by Trump’s glamorous daughter Ivanka. The entire chamber stood together in sustained applause, with Trump interjecting scripted, lyrical expressions of support and gratitude for her husband’s sacrifice.
It was, as intended, an obviously powerful TV moment. Independent of the political intent behind it, any well-functioning human being would feel great empathy watching a grieving spouse mourning and struggling to cope emotionally with the recent, sudden death of her partner. The majestic setting of the U.S. Congress, solemnly presided over by the U.S. president, vested the moment with political gravity.
Media commentators predictably gushed that this was the moment Trump became “presidential.” Meanwhile, the U.S. media’s most reliable partisan warriors, horrified that the moment might benefit Trump, instantly accused him of exploiting these emotions, and exploiting Carryn Owens herself, for his own political benefit.
While there is certainly truth in the claim that Trump’s use of the suffering of soldiers and their families is politically opportunistic, even exploitative, this tactic is hardly one Trump pioneered. In fact, it is completely standard for U.S. presidents. Though Trump’s attackers did not mention it, Obama often included tales of the sacrifice, death, and suffering of soliders in his political speeches — including when he devoted four highly emotional minutes in his 2014 State of the Union address to narrating the story of, and paying emotional tribute to, Sgt. Cory Remsburg, who was severely wounded by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan:
George W. Bush also hauled soldiers wounded in his wars before cameras during his speeches, such as his 2007 State of the Union address, where he paid tribute to Sgt. Tommy Rieman, wounded in Iraq.
There are reasons presidents routinely use the suffering and deaths of U.S soldiers and their families as political props. The way in which these emotions are exploited powerfully highlights important aspects of war propaganda generally, and specifically how the endless, 15-year-old war on terror is sustained.
The raid in Yemen that cost Owens his life also killed 30 other people, including “many civilians,” at least nine of whom were children. None of them were mentioned by Trump in last night’s speech, let alone honored with applause and the presence of grieving relatives. That’s because they were Yemenis, not Americans; therefore, their deaths, and lives, must be ignored (the only exception was some fleeting media mention of the 8-year-old daughter of Anwar al-Awlaki, but only because she was a U.S. citizen and because of the irony that Obama killed her 16-year-old American brother with a drone strike).
By William S. Lind
The big question about the new Trump administration is whether its foreign policy will reflect President Trump’s views or long-standing Establishment positions. It is too early to offer a firm answer, but early indications are worrying.
The past several weeks have seen senior administration officials traveling the world, offering reassurances to our (mostly worthless) allies that no policy changes are coming. We will continue to be committed to war with China over the Japanese Senkaku islands, which are uninhabited; war with Russia over the Baltic states (which Russia is unlikely to attack); and, most worrying, to continued confrontation with Russia for no reason in particular.
A number of people have for my views on the so-called “Muslim travel ban” imposed by the Trump administration. Here goes:
Statistically, the evidence shows that right-wing terrorists have been slightly more violent in the years since 9-11 than Islamists, at least in the US obviously. But the meaning I take from this data is that the neocons and other hawks are blowing the Islamic terrorism threat way out of proportion, while liberals and the Left blow the right-wing terrorism threat out of proportion. Both groups need these false narratives to be true for ideological reasons.
The neocons and other hawks want a permanent war against Islam and the Left wants a permanent war against whitey, so there always has to be some looming threat on the horizon. The real violence is the US comes mostly from inner city gangs that murder each other over drug dealing disputes, from fights and domestic violence that spirals out of control, and from the mentally ill or lone nuts like Adam Lanza, Dylan Roof, or Omar Mateen.
September 11, 2001 was a singular but spectacular incident that has predictably kept plenty of people up in arms ever since. The OKC bombing in ’95, which killed about 150, had the same impact on the Left. I remember how after OKC the Left was saying many more such acts were just around the corner. But over 20 years later there’s been no such thing. The same thing happened with 9-11. I remember people talking about how there was going to be nuclear destruction of US cities and terrorism with bioweapons and all kinds of stuff. But 15 years later there’s only been a handful of incidents like Orlando, San Bernardino, and Ft. Hood that were perpetrated by lone nuts or small groups of friends acting as freelancers.
I agree with this analysis but disagree with its conclusions. Ultimately, our enemies are all states everywhere, and our greatest non-state rivals are the Wahhabist/Salafist renditions of Islam. I consider the struggles of the Kurds, particularly the PKK and allied tendencies, to essentially be the same as the struggles of ATS.
By Andrew Korybko
One of the most curious quirks of recent history is that self-proclaimed followers of the Cold War-era ideology of Marxism are on the upswing two and a half decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, and interestingly enough, they’re making on-the-ground progress in the Mideast of all places. This may come as a surprise to casual observers who have been convinced by the Mainstream Media that the region is only awash with religious radicalism, which while certainly true, doesn’t fully encapsulate the whole picture of all the extremism that’s active there nowadays.
I generally agree with Bill’s analysis here, although I’m personally rooting for the Fourth Generation forces.
“…we need a new Triple Alliance or Quintuple Alliance, and here as so often in grand strategy context is important. It is, again, the need for all states to work together against Fourth Generation, non-state entities that wage war. The alliance is a means, not an end.
The end is that whenever 4GW manifests itself, wherever it does so, all states work together to defeat it. The power of Fourth Generation entities, or at least some of them, at the moral level of war is so great that, even with all the states in the world against them, beating them will not be easy. Let me say it once more: what is at stake in the 21st century is the state system itself. If events remain on their current course, by the year 2100 the state will probably be just a memory..”
By William S. Lind
The election of Donald Trump opens the door to change and reform in many areas. The most important, in terms of our country’s future, is grand strategy and foreign policy (the latter, understood correctly, is a subset of the former). The United States needs a grand strategy aimed at preserving the state system.
Our present grand strategy was conceived in a world of states in conflict with each other. Its purpose is to make America dominant over all other states. The U.S. is not the first state to attempt this. Like its predecessors, it is failing. No state has ever been powerful enough to establish the “universal monarchy”, as it was once known. Attempts to do so have always resulted in overreach, then fall. Remember, Portugal once ruled half the world.
But the most important thing is not that we reduce our goals to match our power in the world of conflict between states. The most important thing is that we realize Fourth Generation war poses so serious a threat to the whole state system that conflict between states has become obsolete. We need an alliance of all states against Fourth Generation entities. If we and other Great Powers, especially Russia and China, continue to squabble among ourselves, the 21st century is likely to witness the end of the whole state system. Mere anarchy will be loosed upon the world.
Joke of the Week Award goes to Saudi Arabian foreign minister Adel al-Jubeir for this knee-slapping declaration:
“We are doing everything we can to fight extremism.
“I don’t believe there is any country in the world that is more committed or more determined or has expended more resources and more effort to do this than the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.”
He added: “We cannot allow people to hijack our faith. We cannot allow people to take a peaceful religion — all religions are peaceful — and turn it into a way to justify violence.
“At the end of the day, Saudi Arabia is at the cross hairs of these extremist organisations because Saudi Arabia is the birthplace of Islam and the Two Holy Mosques.”
And here I was thinking that the best way for the House of Saud to fight terrorism would be to collectively choke on a dick!
By William S. Lind
Martin van Creveld’s latest book, Pussycats: Why the Rest Keeps Beating the West and What Can Be Done About It, is so important that it re-defines the military reform agenda. Previously, military reform has focused on the problems that have led to America’s repeated military defeats. The issues van Creveld raises in Pussycats suggests we are moving from an American military that can’t win to one that won’t even fight.
The essence of Creveld’s argument is that we (both the U.S. and Western Europe) have de-militarized our military. The introduction of women is one of the factors, but not the only one, although if a military is to fight it must have an aggressively male culture. That is unacceptable not only to the women in the military but to a broadly womanized society and culture. It would not surprise our ancestors to hear that a womanized society can’t fight.
But Creveld looks at influences well beyond womanization. The de-militarizing of our armed forces begins, he argues, with the way we now raise children, especially boys. No longer do they “go out and play”, get into fights, get into difficulties they have to find their own ways out of. Rather, they live controlled, “safe” lives where they always have adult supervision and are instructed in how to do everything before they have to do it. Instead of growing up, they are forever infantilized.
This problem is very real. Recently, I recommended to a friend, a lieutenant colonel at the Marine Corp’s Basic School for new lieutenants, that they reinstitute the “Zen patrol”. In the Zen patrol, which TBS used to do, new lieutenants are simply taken out on a patrol, without having received any instruction in patrolling. They have to figure it out for themselves, which means they also learn how to learn.
My friend replied, “You cannot do that with this generation. In everything they have ever done, they have had adult instruction and supervision. If you don’t first tell them what to do and how to do it, they get angry. They say, “You are setting me up for failure to embarrass me in front of my peers.”
By John Knefel
Illustration by Matt Mahurin
Billymark’s is the most working-class bar in Chelsea, if not all of Manhattan. On a Thursday afternoon in early March, union guys play darts as both TVs air a CBS report on the early days of Syria’s fragile cease-fire. A few minutes after five, Guy, 22, and Hristo, 23, walk in and we grab a booth next to a group of day-drunk FIT students. The minute we sit down, it’s clear something is different. The two men are vibrating with excitement.
Press TV. Listen here.
The United States will not apologize to Japan over its 1945 atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki because such an apology would mean an acknowledgment of Washington’s past crimes, says an analyst.
Keith Preston made the remarks in an interview with Press TV on Monday when asked about President Barack Obama who has said Washington is not sorry for what it did to Japan in 1945.
This Friday, Obama will become the first sitting US president to ever tour the site of the world’s first nuclear bombing that killed more than 140,000 people in Hiroshima on August 6, 1945. The attack was followed by another US atomic bombing on the port city of Nagasaki three days later, killing about 73,000 people.
On Sunday, when Japanese national broadcaster NHK asked Obama if an apology would be included in remarks he plans to make in Hiroshima, he said, “No, because I think that it’s important to recognize that in the midst of war, leaders make all kinds of decisions.”
Preston said Obama is not the only person who has refused to offer an apology for the catastrophic incident in Japan.
“There are many Americans today that continue to claim the use of those weapons was justified in order to force surrender on the part of Japan,” he said, noting “but Japan had expressed interest in a conditional surrender.”
He went on to say that “there is no evidence that it was necessary for the United States to use those weapons in order to achieve victory.”
Preston said that “the United States sees itself as having the capability of doing the wrong and that’s why the United States rarely has ever apologized …for its past harms the American empire has inflicted on societies all over the world.”
“I do think that one of the reasons the Americans will not issue an apology is simply because the Americans continue to try to exercise hegemony over the entire world and to acknowledge the past crimes of that height would essentially undermine the ….empire’s own legitimacy,” he concluded.
Obama’s visit to the city would have enormous symbolic importance, however, it would be controversial in the US if it were seen as an apology.
A very good summation of the present world order. It looks like Chomsky heard my recent speech at the National Policy Institute. 🙂
By Noam Chomsky
When we ask “who rules the world?” we commonly adopt the standard convention that the actors in world affairs are states, primarily the great powers, and we consider their decisions and the relations among them. That is not wrong. But we would do well to keep in mind that this level of abstraction can also be highly misleading.
Press TV. Listen here: http://126.96.36.199/Detail/2016/05/07/464471/US-jet-makers-worried
US fighter jet manufacturers are concerned about the future of sales to America’s Persian Gulf Arab allies, which in part explains a recent push by some senators to strike a military deal with Washington’s regional partners, says an analyst.
According to The Wall Street Journal, a number of US senators have been building up pressure on the administration of President Barack Obama to approve a major sale of jet fighters to some Persian Gulf Arab states, including Bahrain, Qatar and Kuwait.
The bipartisan group of senators believes Washington’s delay over the fighter jets deal would threaten America’s relationship with its regional Arab allies and their commitment to help fight Daesh (ISIL).
Now Keith Preston, chief editor and director of AttacktheSystem.com, believes “the military industrial complex and well the corporate interest within the military industrial complex that generate revenue by means of the manufacture of these jets are certainly concerned about the loss of revenue that will take place if this particular sale does not go through.”
The comments follow the WSJ report where the US daily, which had obtained a letter signed by the senators last month, said the sale of the fighters to Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain has been in limbo for over two years, but the White House has not yet allowed it to go forward partly due to policies that require the US to keep a military edge for Israel in the Middle East and avoid sales to other allies that could take away Israel’s advantage.
Preston also pointed to the conflict of interest with Israel in this case, saying although Washington wants to sell US combat aircraft to its Persian Gulf allies, it does not wish to take away Israel’s military advantage in the Middle East.
US Senators John McCain, Bob Corker, Jack Reed and Claire McCaskill argued in their letter that a delay to sell such jets was unnecessary and the sale would not undermine Israel.
“We understand that these requests must be carefully considered, but a decision on them has been pending too long,” the senators wrote.
The proposed deal, valued at about $9 billion, includes F-16s, F-15s and F/A-18 jets.
The companies that build the aircraft, Lockheed Martin and Boeing, have recently warned they could be forced to close their production lines unless they secure new orders, the WSJ report said.
A senior Obama administration official said in a recent statement that “no decision has been made on fighter sales.”
Russia intervened in Syria, did what it came to do–strengthen the position of the Assad government–and has partially withdrawn. Meanwhile, our war with ISIS continues its endless futility, an inevitable result of war by pinking.
War by plinking, using airstrikes that blow up an ammo dump here, an ISIS leader there, and wedding parties everywhere is largely a product of futility of thought. We think we have to do something, but our military leadership has few options to offer. We can invade, but as we have experienced in Iraq and Afghanistan, doing so merely increases the scope and cost of our defeat. We can carry out an aerial campaign of annihilation, but our civilian leadership’s ideology forbids it. It might also generate new enemies faster than we can kill them, no matter how many bombs we drop. Approaches that require both imagination and skill cannot make it through our leaden, elephantine military decision process (where the process is the product). So we plink.
Much of our plinking seems devoted to war by assassination. There is a reason states have generally avoided that. As I fear we may discover, it is a game two can play. In the end it devolves, as it has, to mere war of attrition. Wars of attrition are usually indecisive, continuing until one party or another, or both, are exhausted. we are likely to tire before ISIS does.
Ostensibly formed as a global peacekeeping organisation in the wake of World War II, the United Nations, or U.N., has, over time, made it clear that the peace it means to impose on the world resembles the pax Romana (or pax Islama), mandated and managed by way of a top-down global hegemon.
For all the criticisms levelled at desert pirates Daesh, their M.O. seems to resemble the U.N.’s in several key ways, with its fatwa-friendliness, universalist aspredations*, and a heralded, hypocritical hard-on for pious prohibition and penile predation. If one didn’t know any better, it’d be easy to suspect the Muslim Männerbund of taking more than a few notes.
Has Donald Trump opened the door for non-interventionist foreign policy views to enter the mainstream?
Let’s admit it. As political provocateur, Donald Trump has a dizzy kind of genius. He feints to the right, then he spins to the left. Either way, the hot subject for political chatter becomes Donald Trump.
This week, while people everywhere were fretting over his violent talk, the candidate came to Washington and dropped a peace bomb on the neocon editorial writers at The Washington Post and the war lobby. Trump wants to get the United States out of fighting other people’s wars. He thinks maybe NATO has outlived its usefulness. He asks why Americans are still paying for South Korea’s national defense. Or Germany’s or Saudi Arabia’s.
“I do think it’s a different world today and I don’t think we should be nation-building anymore,” Trump said. “I think it’s proven not to work. And we have a different country than we did then. You know we have $19 trillion in debt. We’re sitting probably on a bubble, and, you know, it’s a bubble that if it breaks is going to be very nasty. And I just think we have to rebuild our country.”
GOP presidential contender Ted Cruz has unveiled a foreign policy team full of conspiracy theorists and arch-neoconservatives who support policies just as belligerent as those of Donald Trump. While Cruz has been supported by some Republican figures (most recently, Sen. Lindsey Graham) who consider him a relatively moderate alternative to Trump, the foreign policy advisers he has assembled show him to be running as an extremist. Among the advisers Cruz has assembled are:
Frank Gaffney: Gaffney is the president of the famously Islamophobic Center for Security Policy. He has developed a number of theories about how Muslims are invading and conquering the United States, including by infiltrating the government via the Muslim Brotherhood and by conquering Dearborn, Michigan, and turning it into a “no-go zone” for non-Muslims (although he recently admitted to The Intercept that he has never been there). He also thinks tax lobbyist Grover Norquist is a stealth jihadist.
America’s stepped-up aerial attacks in Afghanistan are part of Washington’s policy to seek the instatement of a puppet regime there, says an analyst.
“What seems to be happening is that the goal of the United States in Afghanistan is to maintain Afghanistan as a puppet regime. That would in turn guarantee the access of American companies” to natural resources there, said Keith Preston, chief editor and director of Attackthesystem.com in a Saturday interview with Press TV.
The comments follow a report that Washington has significantly ramped up its bombing campaign in Afghanistan to roll back the Daesh (ISIL) terrorists who have expanded their territory outside of Iraq and Syria.
The New York Times report, citing US Air Force data, said American drones and warplanes carried out about three times more strikes in January and February in Afghanistan – dropping a total of 251 bombs and missiles – than they did during the same period last year.
The widening campaign has been in response to a decision by US President Barack Obama to give military commanders more leeway to launch airstrikes against Daesh positions in several Afghan provinces.
This is while Obama had pledged to end US military operations in Afghanistan.
Keith also pointed out Obama’s “reneged” promise, saying the US president failed to deliver on his pre-election vow.
Under the existing rules of engagement, American commanders can order airstrikes against the Taliban only when the militants pose a direct threat to US forces or Afghan troops.
The US military, however, has been given more latitude in targeting Daesh forces.
By William S. Lind
The American Conservative
The fault line in American politics is no longer Republican vs. Democrat nor conservative vs. liberal but establishment vs. anti-establishment. This is an inevitable result of serial failure in establishment policies. Nowhere do we see this more clearly than in the establishment’s repeated military interventions abroad in wars against non-state opponents. When such interventions fail in one place—first Somalia, then Iraq, then Afghanistan, then Libya, now Syria—it does the same thing again somewhere else, with the same result.
Why has the establishment allowed itself to be trapped in serial failure? Once we understand how it works, the answer is plain: it cannot do otherwise. On Capitol Hill, the legalization of bribery—“campaign contributions”—means money rules.
Because gender equality means that everyone must be obligated to serve the empire. The latest in totalitarian humanism.
The top officers in the Army and Marine Corps testified on Tuesday that they believe it is time for women to register for future military drafts, following the Pentagon’s recent decision to open all jobs in combat units to female service members.
Gen. Mark A. Milley, chief of staff of the Army, and Gen. Robert B. Neller, the Marine Corps commandant, both said they were in favor of the change during an occasionally contentious Senate Armed Services Committee hearing on the full integration of women in the military. The generals, both infantry officers, offered their opinions in response to a question from Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who said that she also is in favor of the change.
“Senator, I think that all eligible and qualified men and women should register for the draft,” said Milley, echoing the remarks of Neller.
Bill Lind expounds on the canon. This is what all you anarchist out there who want to overthrow governments and corporations need to be reading.
By William S. Lind
The real Saint Nicholas was less famous for giving gifts than he was for coming back from the dead to beat somebody up. That’s my kind of saint. It is to that St. Nicholas I sent my Christmas list, viz.
- All American military officers will read the canon, the list of seven books which, if read in the correct order, will take the reader from the first to fourth generation of modern war. Without the roadmap the canon provides, our officer corps will continue to stumble around in the dark, losing one fourth generation war after another.