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U.S. Marine Corps / Lance Cpl. Albert F. Hunt

The Business of War

Pentagon whistle-blower Karen Kwiatowski returns to the Truthdig podcast to take stock of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, which she says are effectively “a government jobs program for the military and military contractors.”

Posted on Apr 6, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Air Force / Master Sgt. Kevin Gruenwald

Defense Secretary Trims Fat Around the Edges

Defense Secretary Robert Gates outlined his spending cuts on Monday, scrapping, among other boondoggles, the F-22, a fighter plane that apparently specialized in Super Bowl flyovers. Despite the cuts, America still spends more on defense than the rest of the world combined. And then there’s the cost of two wars to think about.

Posted on Apr 6, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Obama Wants a Nuke-Free World

The U.S. led a round of chest-thumping following North Korea’s alleged missile test Sunday, but President Obama also acknowledged that the United States is the only country to have used nuclear weapons against others and, as such, has a “moral responsibility” to lead the world toward a nuclear stockpile of zero.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Lee Jin-man

World Reacts to North Korean Launch

The U.N. Security Council held an emergency meeting following what North Korea described as a satellite launch but what the U.S. and South Korea said was actually a long-range missile test. The U.S., the European Union, Japan and South Korea have all weighed in with varying degrees of concern, while China and Russia have urged calm and restraint.

Posted on Apr 5, 2009 READ MORE


America’s ‘Long War’ Will Be as Bloody and Pointless as Europe’s

The Thirty Years’ War occupies little space in the school texts of the English-speaking world, but its futility comes to mind when Richard Holbrooke speaks of the war he is supposed to manage, now the Af-Pak war.

Posted on Apr 2, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Marine Corps / Lance Cpl. Sarah Furrer

Awakening on the Wrong Side of the Bed

The Awakening movement isn’t very happy these days. The U.S. has been paying Sunni militants to turn their guns from American soldiers to al-Qaida foreign fighters, a program that has been celebrated for reducing violence in Iraq and is now falling apart. In the words of one Sunni leader who spoke to NPR, “The Americans completely abandoned us.”

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE



IDF

Israel’s Gaza Inquiry Finds Israel Innocent

The Israeli military has exonerated itself after investigating the recent comments of soldiers who alleged abuses in Gaza. The military said in a statement that the accounts, which described the casual shooting of women and children, were “based on hearsay and not supported by facts.” Nine Israeli human rights groups have called for an independent investigation.

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE


‘How Did This Country Get Stuck With an Empire?’

With military personnel deployed in 150 countries, Bill Maher says bringing the troops home from Iraq is only the tip of the iceberg. “Can you imagine if there were 20,000 armed Guatemalans on a base in San Bernardino right now? Lou Dobbs would become a suicide bomber.”

Posted on Mar 30, 2009 READ MORE


Drugs, Guns and Reality

It’s an indictment of our fact-averse political culture that a statement of the blindingly obvious could sound so revolutionary. Nevertheless, Hillary Clinton deserves high praise for acknowledging that the U.S. bears “shared responsibility” for the drug-fueled violence sweeping Mexico.

Posted on Mar 26, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / kikasso

Rabbis Stirred Holy War, Israeli Soldiers Claim

Some Israeli soldiers have accused military rabbis of pushing holy war in Gaza. “This rabbi comes to us and says the fight is between the children of light and the children of darkness,” said a reserve sergeant quoted by the L.A. Times.

Posted on Mar 25, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / M. Spencer Green

America Is in Need of a Moral Bailout

The methods used to attain what we want, we are told by reality television programs, business schools and self-help gurus, are irrelevant. Success, always defined in terms of money and power, is its own justification. Our moral collapse is as terrifying, and as dangerous, as our economic collapse.

Posted on Mar 23, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Pete Souza

Obama Looks for an ‘Exit Strategy’ in Afghanistan

The president has frustrated his anti-war base with plans to escalate the war in Afghanistan, but he told “60 Minutes” on Sunday that he’s not looking to stay indefinitely: “What we can’t do is think that just a military approach in Afghanistan is going to be able to solve our problems. ... So what we’re looking for is a comprehensive strategy. And there’s got to be an exit strategy.”

Posted on Mar 22, 2009 READ MORE


What Is the Point of NATO?

NATO today, approaching its 60th birthday, faces the prospect of sending home all of its units not willing to fight in Afghanistan under the American flag. They will go home to “defend” Europe. From whom?

Posted on Mar 20, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Amir Farshad Ebrahimi

U.N. Human Rights Investigator Accuses Israel of War Crimes

Richard Falk, the U.N. special rapporteur on human rights in the Palestinian territories, writes in his annual report that Israeli actions during the recent offensive in Gaza constitute war crimes. Falk, who was denied entry to the region by Israel, says Hamas’ human rights record should also be investigated.

Posted on Mar 19, 2009 READ MORE



barackobama.com

Good News and Bad News for Alternative Lifestylists

The good news: The United States now supports a U.N. statement urging governments everywhere to decriminalize homosexuality. The bad news: In the words of the State Department, “supporting this statement commits us to no legal obligations,” such as ending discrimination in employment, housing and the military in the U.S. itself.

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 READ MORE


Russia Red Square Tank
foreignpolicy.com

Mutually Assured Defense Spending

A hawkish speech by President Dmitry Medvedev may signal a massive overhaul and escalation of the Russian military. Fears of a growing threat posed by NATO have pushed Russian officials to plan a modernization of the country’s conventional and nuclear forces by 2011.

Posted on Mar 18, 2009 READ MORE


Sarkozy’s Courtship of NATO Defies Rationality

France’s president has lived up to the stereotype that his people, fond as they are of home vacationing and generally convinced of their own superiority, not infrequently fail to know what they are talking about when dealing with foreign countries.

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Air Force / Tech. Sgt. Cohen A. Young

Military Rapes Jump 9 Percent

“Military women are more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire in Iraq,” said Rep. Jane Harman in response to the news that the number of sexual assault reports in the military last year increased by about 9 percent to 2,923. The Pentagon believes the actual number of assaults is five to 10 times higher, because most go unreported.

Posted on Mar 17, 2009 READ MORE



AP pool photo / Aleksey Nikolskyi

Barack Obama, Meet Team B

The president must be getting bad advice. Why else would he offer not to build a missile defense system he doesn’t want in exchange for Russia’s help with an Iranian nuclear weapons program that doesn’t exist?

Posted on Mar 12, 2009 READ MORE


Practice Course

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Posted on Mar 10, 2009 READ MORE    



AP photo / Andy Wong

We Are Breeding Ourselves to Extinction

All efforts to save the planet will be useless if we do not cut population growth. By 2050, the planet will have between 8 billion and 10 billion people, according to a recent U.N. forecast. And yet studies, books and documentaries that deal with various crises fail to discuss the danger of all those billions of hungry people looking for a better life.

Posted on Mar 8, 2009 READ MORE


Why Did So Few Americans Give a Damn?

Justice Department documents that demonstrate the Bush administration’s view of the president’s constitutional power in a “state of war” tell us things we suspected but didn’t want to know.

Posted on Mar 5, 2009 READ MORE


Redacted memo
aclu.org

Nine Secret Bush-Era Documents Released

The Justice Department has released nine secret memos and opinions written by the Office of Legal Counsel that authorized some of the Bush administration’s unlawful national security policies.

Posted on Mar 4, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Navy / Photographer's Mate 1 Shane T. McCoy

CIA Torture Coverup Was Worse Than We Knew

Remember those two videotapes documenting “enhanced interrogation” that the CIA destroyed, despite a judge’s order to preserve such evidence? Well, it turns out the agency wiped 90 more just like them.

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 READ MORE



Marine Corps / Lance Cpl. Michael J. Ayotte

It’s Obama’s War Now

Combat troops are to be pulled out of Iraq by August 2010, President Obama said, but some 50,000 occupation troops will remain behind. Someone should let the Iraqis know the distinction.

Posted on Mar 2, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Foraggio Fotographic

At Last, Accepting Some Clues From Across the Pond

We suddenly seem willing to consider sensible ideas that were always deemed unthinkable. Soon we may be mature enough to observe how other developed countries address problems that have baffled us for generations.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE



Flickr / Marcin Wichary

Mexican Drug Lords Depend on Gun-Crazy America

More than 6,000 people died in Mexico’s drug war last year, far too many as a result of U.S.-purchased firepower. Though Mexico has strict gun laws, smugglers have no trouble legally purchasing military-grade weapons, such as AK-47 rifles, in the U.S., and then shipping them south of the border, where they are used with devastating effect.

Posted on Feb 25, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Hasan Sarbakhshian

A Choice Between Peace and Peril

Bibi Netanyahu’s assumption of power in Israel sets the stage for a huge campaign by the Israeli government, and its well-oiled lobby groups in Washington, to push us into a war with Iran, but a stable relationship with Iran would do more to protect Israel and our interests in the Middle East.

Posted on Feb 23, 2009 READ MORE


U.S. Fear, U.S. Folly in Afghanistan

Except for the brief NATO intervention in Kosovo and Serbia, all of the significant U.S. military expeditions since the Cold War have been fought against Asians, and we have lost nearly all of them.

Posted on Feb 19, 2009 READ MORE


Good News for the Taliban

We seem to have spent our way—to the tune of $864 billion—into allowing our friends the Pakistanis to enter into a peace treaty, or something that looks like it, with the Taliban.

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE



White House / Paul Morse / Pete Souza

Good Money After Bad

Congressional Republicans, with the exception of that embarrassingly shrunken contingent of three moderates, will rue their legacy of deep indifference at a time of true national emergency, one that makes George W. Bush’s far more costly war on terror now seem an absurdly irrelevant exercise.

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE


America’s Confused Cause in Central Asia

Exactly what do we think we are doing in Afghanistan and Pakistan? Are we there to liberalize their forms of religious observance, or conduct a war over theology, or establish permanent NATO bases there, or are we searching for Osama bin Laden? It seems that we are doing all of these things at the same time. But why?

Posted on Feb 18, 2009 READ MORE



DoD / Sgt. Zach Otto, U.S. Army

Obama Throws 17,000 Troops at Afghanistan Mess

President Obama’s desire to escalate the war in Afghanistan, a sore spot for the progressives and anti-war folk who helped elect him, took a major step forward Tuesday when the White House announced plans to raise troop levels in Afghanistan by 50 percent over the next few months.

Posted on Feb 17, 2009 READ MORE


Putin
AP pool photo / Alexei Druzhinin

Avoiding Another Cold War

Relations with Russia haven’t been this frosty since there was an East Berlin. President Obama may be distracted by other priorities, but getting reacquainted with Vladimir Putin and his nuclear arsenal should be at the top of the list.

Posted on Feb 17, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Petros Giannakouris

Bad News From America’s Top Spy

It turns out that Wall Street, rather than Islamic jihad, has produced our most dangerous terrorists. Just ask the new director of national intelligence, who warned that the deepening economic crisis could trigger a return to the “violent extremism” of the 1920s and 1930s.

Posted on Feb 16, 2009 READ MORE


Israel’s Lose-Lose Election

Of the possible political combinations that have emerged from the Israeli parliamentary election, none will bring the region closer to peace. Israel will continue to persecute the Palestinians, whose hatred will only grow.

Posted on Feb 12, 2009 READ MORE



DoD

PR Worries Stalled Release of Gitmo Inmates

A 2006 memo from the State Department to the U.S. Transportation Command suggested holding Guantanamo detainees after they had been cleared in order to avoid bad press. “Got it ... Thank you,” was the reply, and indeed, no prisoners flew out of Guantanamo for three months.

Posted on Feb 12, 2009 READ MORE


Obama’s Afghan Trap

Have we learned nothing from the Iraq war? The Obama regime is gunning for more fighting in Afghanistan at a time when the U.S. should be seeking more talk.

Posted on Feb 11, 2009 READ MORE


book cover

David Rieff on ‘Africa’s World War’

Why does the Darfur violence arouse outrage but the slaughter of millions more in Congo does not? An indispensable new book by Gerard Prunier attempts an answer by combining cool analysis and scholarly dispassion without losing sight of the horror of its subject.

Posted on Feb 6, 2009 READ MORE



USAF / Tech. Sgt. Charlein Sheets

Pentagon Propaganda Is Booming

The military’s spin budget—covering recruitment, advertising and public relations—has jumped 63 percent over the last five years, to $4.7 billion, according to a yearlong investigation by the Associated Press. The Pentagon pays nearly as many people to influence public opinion as the State Department has in its entire work force.

Posted on Feb 5, 2009 READ MORE


America’s ‘Strong Commitment to Error’

John Kenneth Galbraith once warned that U.S. foreign policy suffers from institutional rigidity with a “strong commitment to error.” What better proof than the planned surge in Afghanistan?

Posted on Feb 3, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Nikolas Giakoumidis

It’s Not Going to Be OK

The daily bleeding of thousands of jobs will soon turn our economic crisis into a political crisis. Our empire is dying. How will we cope with our decline? Will we cling to the absurd dreams of a superpower and a glorious tomorrow or will we responsibly face our stark new limitations?

Posted on Feb 2, 2009 READ MORE


Soldiers
news.sky.com

Army Suicide Rate Highest in Decades

Adding to the solemn string of record-breaking statistics, new figures show that the suicide rate among U.S. Army members has hit its highest level in three decades. Last year, over 128 soldiers took their own lives, a telling sign of our military and political climate.

Posted on Jan 30, 2009 READ MORE


Gates
flapsblog.com

Gates Changes Afghanistan Tune

Turning away from the nation-building exercises that defined Bush-era policies but maintaining the dubious “war on terror” frame, Defense Secretary Gates indicated Tuesday that he has changed his mind on the goals for Afghanistan. Gates declared that the U.S., instead of seeking democracy, should set more limited goals in the long war and occupation.

Posted on Jan 28, 2009 READ MORE


NATO: Dead Man Walking

NATO has no coherent overall purpose and has not had one since the end of the Cold War. Any number of redefinitions and reorganizations have been proposed or tried and have proved unsatisfactory because no one can explain what it is that NATO really does or is for, other than to clean up behind the United States.

Posted on Jan 27, 2009 READ MORE


Civilian Courts Can Deal With Terrorism Cases

There is absolutely no reason to create some newfangled and untested system to charge and try those few terrorism suspects whose legal fates present President Obama with an excruciating political decision.

Posted on Jan 27, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Sebastian Scheiner

With Gaza, Journalists Fail Again

The assault on Gaza exposed not only Israel’s callous disregard for international law but the gutlessness of the American press. Nearly all reporters were, as during the buildup to the Iraq war, pliant stenographers and echo chambers.

Posted on Jan 26, 2009 READ MORE


Ehud Olmert
Wikimedia Commons / Agência Brasil

Israeli PM Promises to Shield Troops From War Crime Trials

The BBC reports: “Any Israeli soldiers accused of war crimes in the Gaza Strip will be given state protection from prosecution overseas, the country’s PM has said.” At issue is Israel’s use of white phosphorous, a chemical agent that is not permitted in densely populated areas because it sticks to and severely burns human tissue.

Posted on Jan 25, 2009 READ MORE


Obama’s Salvage Operation

Repairing the damage that George W. Bush did to the nation’s values, honor and pride will be complicated and, at times, politically inconvenient. But nothing is more urgent, and nothing will ultimately reap more benefits at home and abroad.

Posted on Jan 23, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Army / Staff Sgt. Jon Soucy

Obama Puts Gitmo Trials on Hold

President Obama has asked for a stay in all military tribunals at Guantanamo Bay while his administration figures out how to handle the legal cases of the detainees still held in the island prison. The move was welcomed by Human Rights Watch and the ACLU as a positive first step.

Posted on Jan 20, 2009 READ MORE


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