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By David Shulman
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Tag: Military

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



AP photo / Hatem Moussa

Peace Is in the Eye of the Beholder

I do not like Hamas. I detest religious fundamentalism and the use of suicide bombers. I find the group’s anti-Semitism and ruthless silencing of internal Palestinian opponents repugnant. The rocket attacks on Israeli civilians are a war crime. But this does not negate the legitimacy of Palestinian resistance to the long Israeli siege and occupation of Gaza.

Posted on Jan 19, 2009 READ MORE


White Phosphorus
guardian.co.uk

Israel’s Chemical Warfare?

Following previous accusations by aid agencies, a video has surfaced amid Israel’s assault on the Gaza Strip that shows images “consistent with the use of white phosphorus shells”—i.e. chemical weaponry. The Israeli military has denied use of the chemical agent, which can burn skin to the bone.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 READ MORE


book cover

Christian Appy on ‘Mekong Diaries’

Sherry Buchanan, previously the author of “Vietnam Zippos,”  gathers together drawings, poems, letters and oral histories by 10 Viet Cong artists and offers a radically different view of the fighters whom Americans branded as Reds, gooks and fanatical killers.

Posted on Jan 16, 2009 READ MORE


Who’s in Charge—Obama, the Pentagon or Israel?

The military is far too accustomed to getting its way, so it was refreshing to see Barack Obama reject the Pentagon’s sluggish withdrawal plan. But will he stand up to Israel, whose Prime Minister Olmert recently bragged about pulling the American president’s puppet strings?

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE



U.S. Army / Sgt. Whitney Houston

Obama Will End ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’

Here’s what Robert Gibbs, Barack Obama’s top talker, had to say about whether the next president would work to end the military’s policy of discrimination against gay service members: “You don’t hear politicians give a one-word answer much. But it’s ‘Yes.’ ”

Posted on Jan 15, 2009 READ MORE


The Drama of Reciprocal Self-Destruction

The people of Gaza and Israel suffer at the hands of leaders whose bewildering and savage decisions have no rationally achievable purpose.

Posted on Jan 13, 2009 READ MORE


Bush’s Short View of History

In his eyes, there’s “no such thing as short-term history.” It’s true that some presidencies look different after a few decades. But it’s also true that presidential acts can have immediate consequences—and Bush’s eight years are seen as a nadir that will take years to recover from.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Abdel Kareem Hana

The Language of Death

Israel will, from now on, speak to the Palestinians in the language of death. And the language of death is all the Palestinians will be able to speak back. The slaughter—let’s stop pretending this is a war—is empowering an array of radical Islamists inside and outside of Gaza.

Posted on Jan 12, 2009 READ MORE


Should the Torturers Go on Trial?

The impending end of the Bush administration and the inauguration of Barack Obama pose the enormous and explosive question of what to do about those responsible for what are regarded by a significant part of the world as war crimes.

Posted on Jan 8, 2009 READ MORE


Israeli Voices for Peace

While the Israeli government, dominated by hawks in the midst of a political campaign, has escalated its assault on Gaza, there are many Israelis who are outraged by what’s happening.

Posted on Jan 6, 2009 READ MORE



CIA

Obama Picks Top Spies

The president-elect has reportedly chosen Leon Panetta to head the CIA and retired Adm. Dennis Blair as director of national intelligence. Both men bring a mixed bag. Panetta is an experienced bureaucrat, but he’s no James Bond. Blair has been praised for his terrorist-fighting skills, but he was criticized for a supposed conflict of interest that benefited defense contractors.

Posted on Jan 5, 2009 READ MORE



amazon.com

Andrew Nagorski on the Bolsheviks’ Crimes

There was a time when Russia was an economic power on the rise. Sean McMeekin’s new book, “History’s Greatest Heist: The Looting of Russia by the Bolsheviks,” explains what nipped that growth in the bud.

Posted on Jan 2, 2009 READ MORE


Our Cuba Policy: A Failure at 50

President-elect Obama will have more urgent matters to deal with after he takes the oath of office. But somewhere on his long to-do list, he should make a note to finally bring five decades of counterproductive American policy toward Cuba to a definitive end.

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 READ MORE


Believe It or Not, 2008 Was Relatively Nonviolent

Peace is not at hand, at least not as Americans define it. Yet peace has been breaking out all over.

Posted on Jan 1, 2009 READ MORE



AP photo / Craig Ruttle

Why I Am a Socialist

The free market and globalization, promised as the route to worldwide prosperity, have been exposed as a con game. We will either find our way out of this mess by embracing an uncompromising democratic socialism or we will continue to be fleeced and impoverished by our bankrupt elite.

Posted on Dec 29, 2008 READ MORE


pakistan border
AP photo / Musa Khan

Amid Tensions, Pakistan Moves Troops

In a rebuke to U.S. interests in the region and amid growing tensions between two nuclear powers, Pakistan is moving its forces from its border with Afghanistan—where Pakistani troops are fighting against the Taliban—and restricting soldiers from going on leave, as fears of conflict with India continue to grow.

Posted on Dec 26, 2008 READ MORE



USAF / Michael B. Keller

The Road Out of Iraq Begins in Vietnam

Iraq is not Vietnam, yet there are parallels between the two wars. The American military dominated the battlefield in both conflicts, and yet America the nation emerged the loser in each. A “decent interval” is now needed for American troops to withdraw.

Posted on Dec 24, 2008 READ MORE


book cover

James Blight on McGeorge Bundy

One of JFK’s “best and brightest” died wondering how the Vietnam War could have gone so wrong. Now, in an important new book, we have some answers.

Posted on Dec 19, 2008 READ MORE


Blundering U.S. Should Spare the World Any More Nation Building

According to a new report, the U.S. has accomplished little more in Iraq than restoration of the basic services destroyed by the American invasion and the looting that followed. This is after killing or wounding—how many, a half million?—Iraqi civilians in order to liberate them. No wonder the Iraqi journalist threw his shoes at George W. Bush.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008 READ MORE



news.bbc.co.uk

Shoe Thrower Allegedly Beaten

Muntadar al-Zaidi’s shoe-throwing made him a hero in the Arab world, but his fate is uncertain. The reporter remains in custody, where, his brother says, he has been beaten and suffers from broken bones and internal bleeding. A Saudi man, meanwhile, has reportedly offered $10 million for the shoes that nearly struck President Bush.

Posted on Dec 16, 2008 READ MORE



AP photo / Hatem Moussa

Israel’s ‘Crime Against Humanity’

Israel’s siege of Gaza, largely unseen by the outside world because of Jerusalem’s refusal to allow humanitarian aid workers, reporters and photographers access to Gaza, rivals the most egregious crimes carried out at the height of apartheid by the South African regime. It is meant to break Hamas, but will only breed future generations of militants.

Posted on Dec 15, 2008 READ MORE


Settlement Extremists Threaten Israel’s Moral Substance

The steady expansion of nominally illegal colonies into the Palestinian territories has gone on to the point where the political parties are now incapable of disengaging from the settlement enterprise.

Posted on Dec 11, 2008 READ MORE



Wikimedia Commons

Brazilian Indians Win Land Battle

The native people of the state of Roraima have won an important legal victory before Brazil’s Supreme Court. With 100 similar cases hanging in the balance, the court decided to keep an Indian reservation intact, to the chagrin of farmers, loggers and even some military leaders.

Posted on Dec 10, 2008 READ MORE


Sweeping Blackwater Under the Rug

The federal manslaughter indictment of five Blackwater Worldwide security guards for the horrific massacre of more than a dozen Iraqi civilians in Baghdad may look like an exercise in accountability, but it’s probably the exact opposite.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 READ MORE


Obama Embraces the Military

In naming retired Gen. Eric K. Shinseki as veterans affairs secretary, President-elect Barack Obama made what may be the most politically and morally significant choice of his transition.

Posted on Dec 9, 2008 READ MORE


military jet crash

Navy Plane Crashes in San Diego Neighborhood

Just before noon Monday, a U.S. Navy F-18 jet crashed into a San Diego neighborhood as it was approaching Miramar Naval Air Station, hitting at least one home. Updated

Posted on Dec 8, 2008 READ MORE


The Scalpel

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Posted on Dec 8, 2008 READ MORE    



AP photo / Douglas Healey

The Best and the Brightest Led America Off a Cliff

The multiple failures that beset the country can be laid at the feet of our elite universities. Harvard, Yale, Princeton and Stanford, along with most other elite schools, do a poor job educating students to think. They focus instead on creating hordes of competent systems managers.

Posted on Dec 8, 2008 READ MORE



U.S. Air Force

‘Why We Fight’ Director on the American Way of War

Filmmaker Eugene Jarecki speaks with Truthdig’s Kasia Anderson about his new book, whether Obama can deliver, and why the U.S. is like Elvis.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Remaking the World in America’s Image

The evidence suggests that American policy under Barack Obama will be a continuation of the neoconservative foreign policy of the Bush administration, given a human face.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


Not a Team of Rivals at All

When the journalistic pack bites into a tasty cliché, they often refuse to let go, lazily chewing and regurgitating a phrase like “team of rivals” long after the flavor is gone.

Posted on Dec 4, 2008 READ MORE


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