Category Archives: War

The one bipartisan consensus continues…


This weekend saw a brief pause in our rush to go bomb something, as the President decided that maybe, being a constitutional law scholar and all, he should go talk to the one branch of government whose job it is to declare war before he went about shooting freedom missiles at Syria.

This has proven to be minor impediment in our government’s march to war, well, but authorization of the use of force that only differs from war in that we don’t have to declare it, send troops, or have any sort of achievable goals, we just get to blow shit up.

Now, you might be tempted to think that given how much the GOP seems to reflexively hate anything associated with President Obama, that they might continue to say no to anything he wants to do. I mean, these are the guys who are threatening to implode the full faith and credit of the United States in order to stop the implementation of health care reform ideas that began their life as proposals from the arch-conservative Heritage Foundation after all simply because Obama attached his name to them.

You’d be wrong. War is our national pastime. And when it comes to sending messages via the US Tomahawk postal service, our leaders come together as one to join hands and sing Kumbaya.

 

Just a little war…


It would seem that despite losing our British friends (who you will remember, have pretty much lined up behind us whenever we felt the inclination to fire off a few missiles at some of our darker hued neighbors), everyone is still gung-ho over here about sending messages and such:

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) released a statement late Thursday following a conference call briefing between Congressional leaders and the Obama administration that expressed her support for potential “measured, targeted and limited” military action in Syria.

“What Assad has done is outside the realm of basic human rights. On this evening’s call, I expressed my appreciation for the measured, targeted and limited approach the President may be considering,” Pelosi said in the written statement.

I’m sure by firing off missiles at various places within Syria that will in no way harm or impact Assad at all, but will kill anyone who happens to be in the blast radius of our explosive messages, we will send him a message that we take the death and killing of Syrians seriously in America.

Likewise, I’m sure the Syrians who will die when the American Tomahawk Postal Delivery service arrives, will appreciate our firm commitment to stand for human rights, except for that one right about not getting blown to pieces and incinerated.

Nobody wants this. But it looks like we’re getting it anyway.

Sigh…


Some days the hits keep on coming

The U.S. government may be considering military action in response to chemical strikes near Damascus. But a generation ago, America’s military and intelligence communities knew about and did nothing to stop a series of nerve gas attacks far more devastating than anything Syria has seen, Foreign Policy has learned.

In 1988, during the waning days of Iraq’s war with Iran, the United States learned through satellite imagery that Iran was about to gain a major strategic advantage by exploiting a hole in Iraqi defenses. U.S. intelligence officials conveyed the location of the Iranian troops to Iraq, fully aware that Hussein’s military would attack with chemical weapons, including sarin, a lethal nerve agent.

The intelligence included imagery and maps about Iranian troop movements, as well as the locations of Iranian logistics facilities and details about Iranian air defenses. The Iraqis used mustard gas and sarin prior to four major offensives in early 1988 that relied on U.S. satellite imagery, maps, and other intelligence. These attacks helped to tilt the war in Iraq’s favor and bring Iran to the negotiating table, and they ensured that the Reagan administration’s long-standing policy of securing an Iraqi victory would succeed. But they were also the last in a series of chemical strikes stretching back several years that the Reagan administration knew about and didn’t disclose.

U.S. officials have long denied acquiescing to Iraqi chemical attacks, insisting that Hussein’s government never announced he was going to use the weapons. But retired Air Force Col. Rick Francona, who was a military attaché in Baghdad during the 1988 strikes, paints a different picture.

“The Iraqis never told us that they intended to use nerve gas. They didn’t have to. We already knew,” he told Foreign Policy.

I don’t even know what to say to this. The more I learn about our involvement in the Middle East, the more I’m of the mind that the best thing the United States could do for the region is to just stay the hell out of it.

Well, that and start treating the people responsible for some of the things we’ve done in the region for the last 70 years not as senior statesmen, but as criminals.

Now for something completely… well, the same…


Chances are pretty good we’re going to be lobbing some freedom bombs at yet another Middle Eastern nation.

The rationale for this is that you can apparently kill, maim, incinerate, perforate, stab, shoot, blow up, or just plain ol’ fashioned strangle a hundred thousand or so people and that’s fine. That’s just plain old civilized war. Blow up a few thousand civilians in the process, that’s “collateral damage”.

But if you try to poison your enemies, you’re a monster and the only response available to us will be to kill, maim, incinerate, perforate, stab, shoot, or blow up other people in your nation (likely including some ‘collateral damage’) because… Freedom? I don’t know anymore.

Question to consider: Will there any nations left in the Middle East that won’t have had at least one American bomb explode in them by the end of the decade?

You may now resume debating about how Miley Cyrus dancing in her underwear is merely the end of Western Civilization or a precursor to God’s Apocalyptic judgments.

Those who don’t learn from history… something, something, something…


I don’t know, I wasn’t paying attention.

But there’s no way this could ever come back to bite us in the butt. Just like Afghanistan. We sent weapons to their heroic freedom fighters and trainers to teach them how to fight the Soviet Union and we’ve been the best of friends ever since.

What’s that? No… no, I don’t remember what happened in September of 2001. History literally only goes back as far as the last news cycle.

Here we go again…


One of these days, we’ll get a President who can accept that sometimes the best thing to do is ‘nothing’ when it comes to the Middle East and foreign affairs in general.

So now, under the theory that it’s perfectly acceptable and awesome to shoot, maim, incinerate, kill, and dismember people with guns, missiles, bombs, and land mines, or crush them under tanks, but killing them with toxic fumes is just barbaric, we are openly involving ourselves in someone else’s civil war.

Claims and counterclaims came thick and fast Friday in response to the White House’s declaration hours earlier that it believes the Syrian government has crossed a “red line” in using chemical weapons against rebels.

That conclusion — declared for the first time Thursday — is prompting the United States to increase the “scale and scope” of its support for the opposition, the White House said, although officials stopped short of saying it will put weapons in the hands of rebels.

The U.S. report won backing from the British government Friday — but Syria and its allies in Moscow quickly sought to cast its integrity into doubt.

The Syrian foreign ministry accused Washington of releasing “a statement full of lies regarding the use of chemical weapons in Syria,” according to a statement on state TV.

And a government statement reported by state news agency SANA accused the United States of using “flagrant tricks to come up with any possible mean to justify the decision of President Barack Obama to arm the Syrian opposition.”

Washington is “clearly exercising scandalous double standards in dealing with terrorism,” the statement said. The Syrian government under President Bashar al-Assad habitually refers to the rebels as terrorists.

NSA Verizon Surveillance


I suppose I should react to this, but my response is likely to be “Duh” followed by slapping any conservative that starts wailing like a banshee now about civil liberties with fish.

The White House on Thursday did not confirm a newspaper report that the National Security Agency is collecting the telephone records of tens of millions of American customers of Verizon under a secret court order issued in April, but defended the practice.

“On its face, the order reprinted in the article does not allow the government to listen in on anyone’s telephone calls,” a senior administration official said. “The information acquired does not include the content of any communications or the name of any subscriber. It relates exclusively to metadata, such as a telephone number or the length of a call.”

The order, first reported by the Guardian newspaper, requires a Verizon subsidiary to provide the NSA with daily information on calls by its customers in the United States and from foreign locations into the United States.

“Information of the sort described in the Guardian article has been a critical tool in protecting the nation from terrorist threats to the United States, as it allows counterterrorism personnel to discover whether known or suspected terrorists have been in contact with other persons who may be engaged in terrorist activities, particularly people located inside the United States,” the official said.

The order was signed by a judge from the secret court that oversees domestic surveillance. The official said those orders are classified.

You helped build this system. The Patriot Act, the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act, all of it. You helped in a bipartisan fashion to construct the legal grounds for this to happen, and when the previous administration did this when it wasn’t legal, you overwhelmingly supported changing the law and passing retroactive immunity for criminal and civil liabilities so government and telecomm agencies couldn’t be held liable for breaking the law.

Instead of being shocked (shocked!) and outraged that the NSA and FBI used the powers you gave them to cast a wide net, maybe you should give your representatives a call and demand that they change the laws to prevent it from happening.

But, we know they won’t. Because no politician wants to be held responsible for weakening anti-crime or anti-terrorism laws in the event another attack happens. Politicians avoid responsibility like normal people avoid eating rancid meat.

So keep that in mind as we see, no doubt, months of talking heads complaining about ‘broad overreach of government’ and ‘abuse’, is that, one, this is all perfectly legal thanks to the laws Congress passed; and two, Congress could change these laws to make all of this illegal today if they chose to do so, but they won’t because they’re bloody cowards.

Comic for the day


He jokes, but if we had another terrorist incident on a plane, I’m not completely convinced that the NRA wouldn’t advocate letting people conceal carry guns on a plane.

Benghazi


As Congress continues to hold hearings on the Benghazi attacks, it is perhaps useful to keep in mind the fun we had with the last Republican Congress and the last Democratic president that was the Whitewater investigations, in which Congress held hearings, investigations, appointed a special prosecutor all in an attempt to undermine, weaken, and get convictions against Bill and Hillary Clinton, which ultimately ended in zero charges against the couple and their eventual post-office verbal acceptance by Republicans.

If you will recall the last neverending investigation of a Democratic President by a Republican Congress, there were many, many hearings that attempted to pin financial crimes on the President and only succeeded in discovering stained dresses and what the president enjoyed doing with his cigars when Ms. Clinton wasn’t around, so… yeah… thank you so much for putting that image into our heads, Gingrich.

So this week, as the endless hearings continue into why a White House spokesperson went on a Sunday news show and said that the attack happened because some Muslims were upset by a movie an idiot made instead of the fact that some Muslims were (and are very) upset by the fact that the U.S. is currently bombing the hell out of their countries (and their women and children), will continue in the hopes that some new stained dress and ruined cigar will surface.

Also, I’m sure we will hear endless armchair generaling about how President John McCain would have totally flown to Libya himself and saved everyone and killed all the terrorists everywhere with his bare hands.

Land of the free…


And in case you were still wondering, why yes, we are still holding men prisoner, a faction of whom have been cleared of the charges they were accused of.

And yes, we are very upset that in response to our gracious offer of indefinite detention without redress or hope of release, that the majority of these men have opted to try and commit suicide, because their deaths will make us look bad as opposed to keeping them alive and imprisoned and under constant control until Father Time or God decides to let them out of their misery of being indefinitely locked up (some of them on charges they have been cleared of.)

Gotta break a few eggs for that Freedom omelet, people.

And yes, we are now making conditions even worse for them as a response.