Iraq, Syria United States military escalation

This video from England is called 15th February 2003: Stop the Iraq War, London.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Obama turns to air strikes against Isis

Friday 12th September 2014

President adopts bloody policy but ‘no boots on the ground’

It took us President Barack Obama just one TV speech to reverse the supposed central tenets of his presidency on Wednesday night.

He rose to political prominence in part because of early opposition to the Iraq war and he shied away from air strikes on Syria last year.

But now Mr Obama has picked up the war drum and beaten it resoundingly, authorising strikes in Syria for the first time in a military campaign against the Islamic State (Isis) terrorist group.

Bombing Syria with the armed opposition in Syria as allies, will help Isis. As that armed opposition consists of, apart from Isis itself, the Al Nusra Front, being the official Al Qaeda branch in Syria; and disparate supposedly ‘moderate’ groups, loosely referred to as ‘Free Syrian Army’. I write supposedly ‘moderate’ as, eg, the family of journalist Steven Sotloff, recently beheaded by Isis, accuses these ‘moderates’ of selling Steven Sotloff to Isis.

The president claimed that while there was no evidence Isis was plotting to strike the US, “if left unchecked, these terrorists could pose a growing threat beyond the region, including to the US.”

More US troops will be sent to assist Iraqi security forces and conduct intelligence flights, bringing the total dispatched to more than 1,500.

“We will hunt down terrorists who threaten our country, wherever they are,” Mr Obama said.

“I will not hesitate to take action against Isis in Syria, as well as Iraq.” And he warned: “This is a core principle of my presidency. If you threaten America, you will find no safe haven.”

But the military would not be dragged into a ground war, Mr Obama claimed.

“American forces will not have a combat mission,” he said, and the campaign “will not involve American combat troops fighting on foreign soil.”

US senators seized on the president’s apparent confusion. “No boots on the ground sounds odd when 1,100 US troops have been sent back to Iraq,” commented Republican senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham, both of whom are members of the Senate armed services committee.

“Additional US special forces and advisers are needed to direct precision air strikes, advise foreign partners on the ground and possibly conduct targeted operations against the Isis leadership.”

However, not all Senate views were so hawkish.

Democratic senator Mark Udall, also a member of the services committee, said: “The American people must be assured we are not pursuing another open-ended conflict in the Middle East and I will not give this or any other president a blank cheque to begin another land war in Iraq.”

Also from the Morning Star:

Bombing Isis will not work

Friday 12th September 2014

President Obama may think his Middle East strategy has gone from non-existent to coherent in just a few days, but he would be sorely mistaken.

His gung-ho message to the American people on Wednesday night was more belligerent bluster than strategic common sense.

He vows to “degrade and ultimately destroy” the throat-cutting terrorists of Isis by extending the month-long US bombing campaign in Iraq and launching air strikes in Syria for the first time.

Yet the notion that the US can bomb its way to a solution to every perceived problem has already been utterly discredited by the bloody chaos engulfing Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya in recent years.

Ah yes, the US Commander in Chief tells us, but this next military intervention will be different. The US will spearhead a coalition of European and Middle East forces without putting in any US ground troops.

Except that we’ve seen such ‘coalitions of the willing’ before. They invariably turn out to be a fig-leaf for US-directed operations which primarily serve US geopolitical and big business interests.

There is also something deeply incongruous about some of the allies being courted by the White House and the Pentagon.

The royal dictators in Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Kuwait have done little or nothing to stop their compatriots arming and bankrolling the very Islamic fundamentalists who went to fight in Syria and have now ended up in Isis.

Nato member Turkey allowed these and other foreign jihadists to stream through that country and into Syria in order to try to overthrow the authoritarian but secular regime of President Bashar al Assad in Damascus.

Moreover, it appears that the Turkish “open borders” policy which did so much to strengthen Isis still operates.

Why, in their frenzy, was this issue not raised publicly at last week’s Nato summit by the participants and their media camp followers?

Belatedly, the realisation is now dawning among some politicians and military chiefs that the drive by the US and its allies — each for their own reasons — to subvert Syria was a huge mistake.

The struggle to defeat Isis needs the support of all secular, democratic, left and progressive forces in the region. Violating Syrian sovereignty with unauthorised US air strikes will make that support all the more unlikely.

As for Obama’s assurances of no US army boots on the ground, the trainers and advisers are already being sent in alongside those US and British “special forces” almost certainly in Iraq already.

The body bags will still fill up, even though some may be kept as secret as when the British SAS was hired out to shore up the dictatorship in the rotten Gulf state of Oman.

And nothing will add more lustre to bogus IS claims that it represents Muslims in a holy war against Western imperialism than the direct involvement of US and Nato forces in Iraq and Syria.

That’s why it’s vital to construct an anti-Isis coalition in which the governments of Iraq, Iraqi Kurdistan, Iran, Syria, Syrian Kurdistan and Lebanon co-ordinate a fight against Isis in the name of equality and respect for all religious, ethnic and national groups in the region.

That would deserve support from the wider world, legitimised by the United Nations and best channelled through its agencies.

TEN Arab countries promised US Secretary of State John Kerry on Thursday to “do their share” in the fight against Islamic State (Isis) militants, but Nato member Turkey refused to join in: here.

Obama’s speech on ISIS: Perpetual war in Iraq, Syria and beyond: here. See also here.

VENEZUELAN president Nicolas Maduro became the spokesman for the world’s progressive voices on Thursday when he laid into US president Barack Obama’s announcement that he would authorise attacks on the Islamic State (Isis) group inside Syria. The outspoken president accurately blamed Washington’s support of President Bashar al-Assad’s foes for the emergence of the terror group: here.

United States warplane killed own soldiers in Afghanistan

This video from Afghanistan is called 500 Pound Bomb Dropped on U.S. Soldiers By Mistake.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Afghanistan: US bombing that killed five US soldiers and an Afghan was ‘avoidable mistake’

Saturday 6th September 2014

A US bombing in Afghanistan that killed five US soldiers and an Afghan in June was an avoidable mistake, the military admitted on Thursday.

US Central Command, which oversees operations in Afghanistan, cited a collective failure by soldiers, commanders and aircrew members to communicate and execute the fundamentals of the mission.

As a result, the soldiers and the Afghan were mistaken for enemy forces and were hit with laser-guided bombs.

The crew of the B-1 bomber were faulted by investigators for not taking reasonable precautions to identify where friendly forces were located.

Despite discrepancies in reported US troop locations, the aircrew did not take necessary steps to validate its information before launching the bombs, the command said.

Ground forces were blamed for incorrectly communicating troop positions.

They were also criticised for not knowing that the bomber’s targeting gear was incapable of detecting friendly marking devices.

War crimes in Afghanistan not investigated, Amnesty says

This video is called ‘Untried war crimes': Amnesty slams US military actions in Afghanistan.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

‘Flawed US military justice fails to recognise war crimes, says Amnesty International

Amnesty claims civilian deaths in Afghanistan have not been properly investigated

Cahal Milmo, Chief Reporter

Monday 11 August 2014

Dozens of potential war crimes committed by American forces in Afghanistan have gone uninvestigated by Washington because of a “deeply flawed” military justice system, Amnesty International alleges today.

The human rights group says thousands of Afghans have been killed or injured by US forces, who are due to pull out of the country at the end of this year, but have little chance of forcing the Pentagon to hold those responsible to account where deaths were unlawful.

In an 84-page report published today, Amnesty calls on the US to end what it says is a culture of secrecy surrounding military discipline and consider replacing its “commander-driven” investigations, which rely on soldiers’ own accounts of their actions, with civilian-managed courts martial.

The organisation studied 10 American military operations which resulted in the deaths of 140 civilians between 2009 and 2013 but said none had resulted in prosecutions, despite apparent evidence of atrocities. It said that since 2009, there had been just six trials of US personnel for the alleged illegal killing of Afghan civilians.

Richard Bennett, Amnesty’s Asia Pacific director, said: “The US military justice system almost always fails to hold its soldiers accountable for unlawful killings and other abuses. None of the cases we looked into were prosecuted by the US military. Evidence of possible war crimes and unlawful killings has seemingly been ignored.”

Amnesty said it had interviewed 125 witnesses and family members in connection with the Afghan cases, many of which involved operations by US special forces.

In two cases there was “abundant and compelling” evidence of war crimes, including the attempted cover-up of the shooting of pregnant women and torture of captives, according to the group.

American troops shot or fatally wounded five people during a night-time raid on a house where a family celebration – attended by guests including an Afghan police investigator and prosecutor – was taking place in the eastern Paktia province.

The dead included two pregnant women – one a mother of 10, the other a mother of six – and a 17-year-old girl. Witnesses told Amnesty’s investigators that after the raid in 2010, the American forces removed evidence, including digging their bullets out of walls and the bodies of the dead women.

A press release issued on behalf of US forces claimed that the troops had found the “bound and gagged” bodies of the three women in the house and suggested they may have been victims of a “traditional honour killing”.

The claims were later withdrawn and Nato admitted responsibility for all five deaths but no prosecution ever took place.

In the second case, the human rights group said there was evidence that an elite special forces unit – known as ODA 3124 – had carried out extra-judicial killings and torture during a three-month period ending in February last year in the central Wardak province.

Under international law, not every civilian death in war is unlawful. But if they have been targeted deliberately or indiscriminately then a full and impartial investigation must be held, Amnesty said.

THE families of thousands of Afghan civilians killed by US/NATO forces in Afghanistan have been left without justice, Amnesty International said in a new report released on Monday: here. And here.

United States scientist sacked for opposition to nuclear weapons

This video from Japan about nuclear destruction is called George Takei Remembers Hiroshima.

By Tom Hall in the USA:

US researcher victimized over article opposing nuclear weapons

5 August 2014

The Los Alamos National Laboratory fired James E. Doyle, a respected nuclear security expert, in early July after more than a year of persecution stemming from a scholarly article he had published calling for nuclear disarmament, according to an account published Thursday by the Center for Public Integrity.

The fact that a US government laboratory victimized a researcher for expressing opposition to nuclear weapons, a view shared by the overwhelming majority of the world’s population, testifies to the crisis-ridden character of American foreign policy. In case after case around the world, the US is attempting to shore up its declining supremacy through increasingly reckless and brazen acts of aggression, up to and including stoking conflict with Russia and China, both nuclear powers.

Located in New Mexico, the Los Alamos National Laboratory is a Department of Energy facility that researches and develops nuclear weapons. It is one of the largest research facilities in the world and has an annual budget of over $2 billion. Doyle had worked for 17 years as a contractor in the lab’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Division.

In February 2013, Doyle published a front-page article in Survival, the journal of the UK-based think tank International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS). Titled “Why Eliminate Nuclear Weapons?”, the piece argued that nuclear deterrence was a “myth” that damaged the ability of world governments to “meet the mutual global challenges of the twenty-first century.”

Doyle’s article dismantles the various official legends surrounding nuclear weapons. He disputes the shopworn assertion that the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by the United States in World War II saved tens of thousands of lives by precluding an invasion of the Japanese mainland, citing the “emerging view among historians that the entry of the Soviet Union into the Pacific War on 9 August 1945 was more decisive in Japan’s decision to surrender than the threat of further atomic bombings.”

Moreover, Doyle points to the various near-misses during the Cold War, as well as the recklessness of American and Soviet politicians and military leaders during the Cuban missile crisis, as contradicting the theory that nuclear deterrence “induces caution during crises, [making] leaders more risk-adverse.” From this he concludes, “It is clearly unreasonable to assert that evidence supports the claim that nuclear deterrence was the major cause of war-avoidance [in the post-war era]. This assertion is a belief, unsupported by anything approaching a strong, clear body of historically documented evidence.” He ends by appealing to the “international community” to eliminate nuclear weapons by 2045, the 100-year anniversary of the atomic bombings of Japan.

Doyle submitted his article, prepared over months in his spare time, for review by the laboratory’s censors, although he was not required to do so. While his supervisors encouraged him to adopt a more “moderate” stance to avoid hurting the interests of the laboratory, they did not raise any concerns about classified information and did not attempt to prevent him from publishing the article.

Less than a week after publication, however, Doyle’s superiors declared that the article contained classified information. As part of a phony investigation, they demanded that Doyle hand over copies of every article he had ever published.

Demonstrating the politically motivated character of the investigation, Los Alamos’ Chief Classification Officer Daniel Gerth overruled three subordinates who advised him that they had found no classified material in the article. Despite making no effort to remove the article from circulation, which is still freely available on the IISS’s website, security officials at the laboratory demanded access to Doyle’s home computer in order to delete Doyle’s personal copies of the article from his hard drive.

The Laboratory administration suspended Doyle’s security clearance for one month. In addition, they suspended, rather than revoked, Doyle’s access to information on foreign nuclear programs, a method of proceeding that prevented him from appealing their action. Such information was crucial to Doyle’s work as a nuclear nonproliferation expert. Finally, on July 8, 2014, the Laboratory fired him.

There are indications that the campaign against Doyle originated from sections of Congress. The Center for Public Integrity cites Doyle’s former supervisor, Scott Gibbs, as saying that the lab’s government relations office in Washington had told him that Doyle’s article had upset someone on the House Armed Services Committee. Gibbs refused to comment further, and Washington officials contacted by the Center for Public Integrity declined to confirm or deny Gibb’s allegations.

However, the fact that all four of the complaints lodged by Doyle with numerous government agencies were summarily dismissed despite the obviously political character of the case suggests widespread collusion to punish Doyle for his remarks.

Doyle is a solidly establishment figure. Before working 17 years at Los Alamos, he wrote the Department of Energy’s plan for securing nuclear material in Russia in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union. He is a well-known researcher in nuclear non-proliferation and wrote a textbook on the subject that is used in more than 30 universities around the world. Indeed, his article opposes nuclear proliferation from the standpoint of safeguarding American “national security” and quotes Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama.

Yet clearly he is aware of the suicidal implications of contemporary American foreign policy and brought those concerns to the public at large in his article. This was considered a red line by sections of the US security apparatus.

The article clearly touched a nerve in government circles when it declared, “Current US nuclear posture with respect to Russia seems to be completely out of step with declared policy. In 1994, Russia and the United States reached a bilateral de-targeting agreement…but if Russia is not presumed to be a potential adversary, [the] fundamental features of the current US nuclear force structure and operating posture make little sense.” Although he holds back from any conclusions, the evidence Doyle offers makes clear that the real aim of US nuclear policy is maintaining an aggressive war footing, primarily against Russia, with an eye toward asserting its dominance over every area of the globe.

The government is clearly fearful of the examples set by Edward Snowden and Chelsea Manning. Because of the immense dangers involved and the complete lack of any support for these policies among the population, the ruling elite cannot tolerate any dissension in the ranks of the military-industrial complex.

The author also recommends:

Are you ready for nuclear war?
[30 July 2014]