Donald Trump’s ‘mad dog’ Secretary of War


This video says about itself:

US General says “It’s good fun to shoot people”

The Pentagon has picked General James Mattis as the new head of Central Command.

If confirmed, Mattis will replace General David Petraeus in overseeing the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq along with US military operations across the Middle East.

Mattis oversaw US troops at the bloody battle of Fallujah in Iraq, and led the first conventional forces in the invasion of Afghanistan.

The Centcom chief role is more statesman than warrior though, and the general was reprimanded in 2005 for publicly saying “it’s fun to shoot people”.

Al Jazeera’s Patty Culhane reports. (July 09, 2010)

The disclosure of the statements by a US General who had said its fun to kill Afghans has turned into a problem for the US army.

The US military, still recovering from the shock of the sacking of General Stanley McChrystal, its top commander in Afghanistan — is facing fresh problems over revelations that another top commander declared that it was “fun to shoot people” in Afghanistan.

Mattis has been named as head of US central Command.

He has said at a seminar in 2005: “Actually, it’s a lot of fun to fight. Apparently no humanity has remained in Afghanistan. So it’s a hell of a lot of fun to shoot them.”

By Tom Eley in the USA:

With bipartisan support, Trump defense nominee outlines plans for global war

13 January 2017

General James “Mad Dog” Mattis, President-elect Donald Trump’s nominee for Secretary of Defense, used his confirmation hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday to outline an aggressive war policy, designate Russia and China as enemies and call for a dramatic expansion of military spending, including the “modernization” of nuclear weapons and expansion of cyberwarfare.

All of those present—Democrats and Republicans alike—heaped praise on Mattis during the three-and-one-half hour hearing. Not a single senator asked the nominee how he might scale down US wars, which are currently raging in several countries. Instead, senators vied with each other in appealing to Mattis to identify threats to “national security” that will be immediately confronted by the Trump administration.

No senator, including the supposedly “left” Democrat Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts, asked the retired Marine General about his record in the occupation of Iraq, where he was implicated in war crimes. Mattis led the savage Marine counteroffensive that retook the Iraqi city of Fallujah in December 2004, and he ordered an air strike that year against a wedding party in which over 40 civilians were killed. Nor was he challenged about a public speech he made in which he stated it was “fun” to kill some people.

Until Thursday, Mattis was not legally eligible to be defense secretary. Federal law prevents selecting any individual who has been out of the military for less than seven years, a rule designed to protect the democratic principle of military subordination to the elected civilian government. Immediately after the hearing, the Armed Services Committee voted 24-3 to waive the law for Mattis, who retired from active command only three years ago, after which he assumed a seat on the corporate board of defense contracting giant General Dynamics. The US Senate quickly followed, voting 81-17 in favor of the waiver.

In a particularly ominous exchange during the hearing, Mattis was asked by the committee chairman, the Republican warmonger John McCain, whether or not he thought the “world order” was under its greatest strain in 70 years. Mattis responded, “I think it’s under the biggest attacks since World War II. And that’s from Russia, from terrorist groups and with what China is doing in the South China Sea.” Later in the hearing, Mattis said, “America has global responsibilities, and it is not to our advantage to leave any of those areas to the world absent from our efforts.”

There will be no end to these global wars, the senators’ questions and Mattis’ answers made clear. The US will “be engaged in global conflict for the foreseeable future,” McCain declared. “Believing otherwise is wishful thinking… Hard power matters, having it, threatening it, leveraging for diplomacy and at times using it.”

Though he was at pains to stress the importance of US alliances, especially NATO, Mattis, like McCain, embraced military unilateralism. The nominee said that the US has only “two fundamental powers,” one of which he called “the power of intimidation.” Necessary for this “intimidation” of other nations is for the US military to be “the top in its game in a competition where second place is last place.”

Starting with McCain, senators repeatedly invited Mattis to denounce Russia and to separate himself from Trump over the president-elect’s less publicly bellicose stance toward Moscow and his open conflict with US intelligence agencies over unsubstantiated allegations of Russian “hacking” of the US election.

Mattis labeled Russia a “strategic competitor” and said that Russian President Vladimir Putin was trying to “break” the NATO alliance, which he hailed as the greatest military alliance in history. “[T]here’s a decreasing number of areas where we can cooperate actively and increasing number of areas where we’re going to have to confront Russia,” Mattis said. He also signaled his deference to US intelligence agencies, saying he has a “very, very high degree of confidence in our intelligence community.”

When asked by Democratic Senator Martin Heinrich of New Mexico to identify “key threats” to the US, Mattis began with Russia, but from there developed a list that could include any nation in the world.

“I would consider the principal threat to start with Russia,” Mattis responded, “and then it would certainly include any nations that are looking to intimidate nations around the periphery or nations nearby them whether it is with weapons of mass destruction or—I would call it unusual, unorthodox means of intimidating them.”

This theme was taken up by Warren, who, alongside Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, is promoted as the “left” face of the Democratic Party.

“Russia wants to promote its security through instability…trying to create a sphere of unstable states along the periphery,” Warren said. “As defense secretary, when it comes to the threats posed by Russia, will you advocate for your views frankly and forcefully to the president to speak about these threats and the need to take them seriously?” Mattis affirmed that he would. “We are counting on you,” pleaded the liberal senator.

Sometimes taking a more militaristic tone than the nominee, the senators also encouraged Mattis to make bellicose statements against China, Iran and North Korea, and solicited declarations that the US military—which spends more each year militarizing than the next eight biggest economies in the world combined—is underfunded. Committee members, Warren and Missouri Democrat Claire McCaskill included, used their questioning to call for major new spending on the nuclear arsenal, the National Guard and cyberwarfare.

Mattis did not retreat from statements made by Rex Tillerson, the former Exxon CEO nominated by Trump for secretary of state, that the US should block China from access to the South China Sea—itself an act of war. Mattis supported the conclusion that China, in its land reclamation projects, is “militarizing” the South China Sea.

Mattis stated his support for increased US aggression in the Middle East, telling the committee that the war on the Islamic State [ISIS] in Iraq and Syria needed to be placed on “a more aggressive timeline.”

In a document submitted to the committee prior to the hearing, Mattis identified Iran as the “biggest destabilizing force in the Middle East” and said that the Trump administration should “checkmate Iran’s goal for regional hegemony.” In previous statements, he has insisted that ISIS was nothing more than a stalking horse for Tehran to project its influence. However, invited by senators to disavow the treaty with Iran concluded by the Obama administration, which removed the immediate threat of war, Mattis said he would uphold it.

Also Thursday, the Senate Intelligence Committee held hearings for Trump’s nominee to head the Central Intelligence Agency, Mike Pompeo, a former Tea Party Caucus Congressman from Kansas with close ties to the multibillionaire Koch brothers. It is also expected that the Pompeo nomination will be ratified with little resistance from Democrats.

Pompeo’s testimony was notable for its belligerent posture toward Russia. He upheld the US spy agencies’ report of hacking, though that report contained not a shred of evidence and was previously questioned by Trump.

“With respect to this report in particular, it’s pretty clear about what took place here, about Russian involvement in efforts to hack information and to have an impact on American democracy,” Pompeo said. “This was an aggressive action taken by senior leadership inside of Russia.” Pompeo also accused Russia of “invading and occupying Ukraine, threatening Europe, and doing nothing to aid in the destruction and defeat of ISIS.”

The bitter fight over the allegations of Russian “interference” in the US elections boils down to a dispute over foreign policy—whether or not to settle scores first with Russia, or to focus on a showdown with China. The media hysteria and the intervention of the intelligence apparatus and leading Republicans such as McCain to support these allegations amounts to an attempt to ensure that the Trump administration will intensify the Obama administration’s anti-Russia policy, which would have been the first order of business in a Hillary Clinton White House.

The confirmation hearings for Donald Trump’s cabinet nominees confirm that his administration intends to vastly intensify US demands for massive economic and strategic concessions from the Chinese regime. In pursuit of the predatory ambitions of a tiny layer of corporate oligarchs, policies are being put forward that could result in a military clash and trigger a nuclear exchange: here.

Looking For Anti-Trump Protests? Here Are Dozens To Choose From: here.

We killed Afghan civilians, Pentagon admits


This video says about itself:

3 November 2016

At least 30 civilians have been killed in a NATO air strike in Afghanistan‘s volatile northern province of Kunduz.

Women and children are among those killed in the operation …

Al Jazeera’s Richard Martin reports.

Warning: you may find some of the images in report disturbing.

From the New York Times in the USA:

Kunduz Attack in November Killed 33 Civilians, U.S. Military Says

By MUJIB MASHAL

JAN. 12, 2017

KABUL, Afghanistan — A United States military investigation into claims of civilian casualties during a joint operation by Afghan and American forces found that 33 civilians were killed and 27 others were wounded during a firefight and airstrikes in Kunduz Province last year, American military officials said on Thursday. …

After the battle in Kunduz, a New York Times reporter counted 22 bodies being brought into the city on the way to the hospital there. Among them were 14 children, four women, two older men and two men of fighting age. They were accompanied by a large group of protesters from Boz Qandahari, the village that was hit.

Kunduz is also where a United States military gunship mistakenly

Mistakenly? Doctors Without Borders don’t believe that.

targeted a hospital run by Doctors Without Borders in October 2015, killing at least 42 people and destroying much of the hospital.

Child abuse in United States military families


This video from the USA says about itself:

Reports: U.S. Military Overlooked Rape of Boys

22 September 2015

Brooke Baldwin speaks with father whose son was killed in Afghanistan. Allegations are surfacing marines were told to tolerate abuse by Afghan military.

By Shelley Connor in the USA:

Child abuse and neglect soar in US military families

9 January 2017

A recent investigation by the Los Angeles Times/Tribune has uncovered a significant increase in child abuse and neglect among US military families since 2003.

Using Freedom of Information Act requests, the Times gained access to reports from the Army, Navy and Air Force that reveal that, in many cases, military officials failed to act upon known or suspected cases of child abuse in military families.

The reports confirm that child fatalities in military homes jumped from 14 in 2003 to 38 in 2012; from 2012 to 2014, they remained above 30 per year until they dropped to 23 in 2015—the last year that Pentagon records are available. That same year, the Family Advocacy Program (FAP), a military program aimed at intervening in cases of domestic violence and child neglect, reported 5,378 cases of child abuse and neglect in military families.

For years, the Pentagon has maintained that child abuse is less common and less severe in military homes than it is among the civilian population. It asserts that its vigilance in weeding out drug and alcohol users screens out most abusive parents—moreover, service members, the Pentagon says, are free from the stress of unemployment faced by most civilians, which decreases the financial strain upon military families.

Most proudly, the Pentagon points to its Family Advocacy Program (FAP) and the obligation of base commanders to monitor the welfare of their troops’ families and to order the FAP to intervene in cases where service members are suspected or known to have abused their family members.

Despite the Pentagon’s boasts, however, the rate of child abuse and neglect in the military has risen from 4.8 incidents per 1,000 children to 7.2 within five years. This rise, demonstrated by the Pentagon’s own records, has occurred even as the number of enlisted personnel has declined by 10 percent in recent years.

Moreover, FAP personnel point out that these are only the cases to which its caseworkers are alerted. The Times report quotes Rene Robichaux, who oversees the Army’s clinical child abuse treatment program, who said, “We get about 25 percent of the incidents. The rest occur behind closed doors.”

The FAP was founded in the years following the Vietnam War, when there was a spike in spousal abuse cases amongst returning military personnel. Previous efforts by the military to intervene in domestic abuse cases amongst its members had been poorly funded and unenthusiastically maintained.

FAPs predecessor, the Child Advocacy Program, was established in 1976 to address mounting incidents of child abuse in military homes. In 1979, after multiple reports demonstrated that military service members were responsible for 15 percent of the nation’s total spousal abuse cases, the program was expanded to include spouses and renamed the Family Advocacy Program. The program has a budget of around $2 million a year, and is brandished by the Department of Defense both as a benefit to military recruits and as a shield against the public outcry against the military’s treatment of enlistees and their families.

Child abuse and neglect are known to correlate strongly with deployment. Despite this, base commanders have failed to report cases of abuse to the FAP. Child welfare advocates have pointed out that there is reluctance among commanders to address cases of abuse and neglect, because they can lead to a service member’s discharge. Not only that, these reports can be seen as evidence of a commander’s incompetence to monitor his or her troops.

Several recent high-profile child murder cases have also shown that FAP referrals alone are inadequate to address concerns over child maltreatment in military families.

In the case of 22-month-old Tamryn Klapheke, who died of starvation on Dyess Air Force Base, the FAP had previously intervened, along with Texas’ Child Protective Services, after the infant’s malnourished state was reported by doctors. Tamryn’s father was serving overseas at the time. Tamryn’s mother, Tiffany Klapheke, cooperated with FAP’s requirements, making all of Tamryn’s assigned doctors’ visits and completing a parenting course.

Three months after a social worker had noted in Tamryn’s file that fatality was likely if she were not fed appropriately, the family was released from the program’s oversight. Autopsy reports demonstrate that Tiffany Klapheke had provided neither food nor water for Tamryn for at least four days before she died.

All branches of the military have increased staffing for the FAP in recent years. Nevertheless, the program is overwhelmed, particularly when units return from deployment. A service member might wait for three weeks or more to speak with an FAP therapist after being referred to the program. Moreover, the cases that are referred tend to be extreme, demanding immediate attention. There is an incentive for caseworkers and their managers to quickly move families through the program in order to work through the caseload.

In some cases, parents never come into contact with an FAP caseworker, even when there are multiple, well-documented reports of abuse.

Such was the case of Talia Williams, a five-year-old girl living on Wheeler Air Force Base, who died after being beaten by her father and stepmother in July of 2005. Mrs. Williams had been reported by coworkers numerous times for remarking that beating children was acceptable as long as there were no incriminating marks. Her father did not take such precautions; the staff at Talia’s daycare notified military police after finding bruises on Talia’s arms and back. Talia had told them that her father beat her with a paddle when he was angry.

The FAP agent assigned to Talia’s case never took action; Naeem Williams was sentenced to life in prison for his daughter’s murder. In 2008, Talia’s mother sued the Army for negligence and wrongful death in federal court. The Justice Department attempted to block the suit, arguing that the Army was not responsible for child abuse on its bases. U.S. District Judge Alan C. Kay rejected the government’s motion to dismiss. Last year, the Justice Department settled with Tarshia Williams for $2 million—the amount of the FAP’s yearly budget—in the case of her daughter’s death.

The United States has been at war continuously for more than 15 years. Decreases in enlistment have meant that enlistees face multiple deployments. The stress placed on these service members and their families is well-documented.

Children of service members suffer from anxiety at a higher rate than their civilian cohort. Behavioral problems, distractibility, and cognitive impairment among the children of deployed troops reveals the tremendous strain that their parents’ deployments places upon their young shoulders. When their parents return, readjustment to civilian life is fraught with peril. Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is prevalent among these service members; added to that is the economic uncertainty to which they return.

It is wholly unsurprising that child abuse and neglect are increasing in these families. In fact, the military’s own research, conducted since the late 1970’s, confirms that this is not a novel, undocumented phenomenon. The evidence accrued steadily throughout the 1980’s that spousal abuse was much more prevalent in the homes of service members who had been deployed, and child abuse, it is well-known, is much more likely in families where there is spousal abuse.

The military’s use of the FAP as a fig leaf to hide behind is therefore obviously disingenuous, as is the Pentagon’s insistence that military families are well-cared for economically.

Many service members, lured to war by the dangling of recruitment bonuses, are now being forced by the Pentagon to repay those bonuses, despite serving multiple overseas tours and incurring significant psychological and financial strain.

The unnecessary deaths of Talia Williams and Tamryn Klapheke testify to the fact that the United States’ endless wars are claiming victims on American soil; moreover, they expose the indifference of the military to the scourge of child abuse amongst its ranks, when addressing it would endanger the steady stream of soldiers to fight and die for the interests of American imperialism.

United States Navy attacks Yemen, helping Saudis killing civilians


This video, by the (Conservative) Daily Telegraph in Britain, says about itself:

Video shows moment ‘double tap’ air strike hits Yemen funeral

9 October 2016

Warning: contains footage some may find distressing.

Footage shown by Al-Masirah TV in Yemen shows the moment a Saudi-led coalition air strike bombed a funeral hall in Sanaa on Saturday. More than 140 people were killed and at least 525 others were wounded in the “double tap” air strikes. Double tap refers to a practice where one strike is launched and as people rush to help the wounded at the scene, a second strike hits.

From Reuters news agency today:

By Phil Stewart | WASHINGTON

The U.S. military launched cruise missile strikes on Thursday to knock out three coastal radar sites in areas of Yemen controlled by … Houthi forces, retaliating after failed missile attacks this week on a U.S. Navy destroyer, U.S. officials said. …

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said U.S. Navy destroyer USS Nitze launched the Tomahawk cruise missiles around 4 a.m. local (0100 GMT). …

The official identified the areas in Yemen where the radar were located as: near Ras Isa, north of Mukha and near Khoka.

The failed missile attacks on the USS Mason – the latest of which took place on Wednesday – appeared to be part of the reaction to a suspected Saudi-led strike on mourners gathered in Yemen’s Houthi-held capital Sanaa. …

The Houthis … denied any involvement in Sunday’s attempt to strike the USS Mason.

This is a dangerous escalation by the Pentagon of the bloody war in Yemen, which kills mainly civilians and has caused a humanitarian catastrophe. This escalation makes the US government even more of an ally of the Saudi absolute monarchy‘s cruel aggression against the poorest Arab country than it already was.

Washington threatens military intervention in Yemen following reported missile attacks on US warship: here.