Great moments in the Southern Command
NY Times, 2014 - Although President Obama pledged last year to revive his efforts to close Guantánamo, his administration has managed to free just one low-level prisoner this year, leaving 79 who are approved for transfer to other countries. It has also not persuaded Congress to lift its ban on moving the remaining 70 higher-level detainees to a prison inside the United States. Its a long way from being closed, said Gen. John F. Kelly, the leader of the United States Southern Command, which oversees Joint Task Force Guantánamo.
Atlantic, 2014 - General John F. Kelly, the head of the U.S. Southern Command, testified last week before the Senate Armed Services Committee, where he argued, as generals tend to do, that he has inadequate resources to fulfill the missions assigned to him.
Here's how the Associated Press summed up his statement:
The U.S. doesnt have the ships and surveillance capabilities to go after the illegal drugs flowing into the U.S. from Latin America, the top military commander for the region told senators Thursday, adding that the lack of resources means he has to sit and watch it go by.
Gen. John Kelly told the Senate Armed Services Committee that he is able to get about 20 percent of the drugs leaving Colombia for the U.S., but the rest gets through.
Think about that.
Though the U.S. spends billions of dollars each year fighting the War on Drugs, and despite having done so for many years, 80 percent of the drugs from one of the countries we've focused on the most still gets through all of our interdiction efforts.
Sam Smith, 1996 - General McCaffrey headed the US Southern Command, which provides military backup for American policy in Latin America -- a policy long linked with support of dictatorships, suppression of dissidents, human rights abuses, death squads as well as chronically ineffective and corrupt management of drug smuggling. The price of this policy has been heavy: for example, over 100,000 people have been killed since 1960 in Guatemala, many of them by armed forces and police trained and supported by the US.
One former US ambassador to a Central American country says of Southcom, "I wouldn't even let them in the country" because Southcom would "inexorably militarize political problems." Today, he added, "very few countries outside of Central America welcome visits" from the commander of Southcom.
A Pentagon official describes Southcom's role as "military to military diplomacy." Rather then functioning like an old-fashion colonial army -- "they're not like the Bengal Lancers" -- they go in and work quietly with the local military to make sure the right elements are in charge and show them how to put down dissidents and how to interrogate.
Kimberly Dozier, Daily Beast - Fighting simmering frustration in their ranks over ISIS advances in Iraq and Syria, top U.S. special operations commanders say they are building forces for a multi-generational fightnot a war that will be won in the next few years.
We talk about it being a 15-year struggle, Lt. Gen. Bradley Heithold, who heads the Air Force Special Operations Command, said during a special operations forum in Tampa.
They blame the hands-off approach on an Obama administration unwilling to risk even small numbers of American lives in battle, burned by the fallout of the loss of four Americans in Benghazi, Libya, and intent on preserving the legacy of President Barack Obamas troop draw downs in Iraq and Afghanistan.
... Another former senior special operations officer said this is the normal tension that occurs every few years between Americas political leadership that weighs the publics reaction to U.S. casualties, and a group of professional risk-takers who want to fight alongside those theyve trained to fight.
Its a generational thing, said the officer, who said U.S. forces were similarly frustrated when training Nicaraguan forces in the 1980s. Every few years, there is a place where the U.S. administration wont let U.S. forces accompany those theyve trained, the officer said. This younger generation has to get over it.
In a Newsweek cover story that is the first we've seen in the major media to make this point, Jeff Stein and Jonathan Broder note:
It's an issue that we've been raising for about two decades, sometimes referring to it as iatrogenic warfare i.e. when military action harms the country that it is meant to be defending. Back in 1999, for example, the Progressive Review noted:
Intercept - Despite a decline in military spending since 2010, U.S. defense expenditures are still 45 percent higher than they were before the 9/11 terror attacks put the country on a seemingly permanent war footing.
And despite massive regional buildups spurred by conflict in the Ukraine and the Middle East, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven top-spending countries combined, according to new figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
Thats nearly three times as much as China, and more than seven times as much as Russia.
Saudi Arabia is now the fourth-biggest military spender on the globe....
How America's wars cut our freedoms
VIA ANTHONY CAHILL
Worst sentence of the day Military action doesnt mean war, of course. - Ezra Klein, Washington Post
When in history has a country as powerful as America been as afraid of a force as small as Al Qaeda?
Name one significant thing the American government has done since 9/11 to make it less likely that some in the MId East would want to attack it.
David Keen has taken a great step toward revising our thinking about war in his book Useful Enemies:When Waging Wars Is More Important Than Winning Them. George Kenney interviews him
@GeorgeCarlinSez - Fighting for peace is like screwing for virginity.
Panetta: U.S. running out of patience with Pakistan on militant havens - CNN
Word: The post Cold War is over: David Stockman - We are now at a historical inflection point at which the time has arrived for a classic post-war demobilization of the entire military establishment. The Cold War is long over. The wars of occupation are almost over and were complete failures Afghanistan and Iraq. The American empire is done. There are no real seriously armed enemies left in the world that can possibly justify an $800 billion national defense and security establishment, including Homeland Security
How to tell you're no longer an empire
John Mueller, Foreign Affairs: An al Qaeda computer seized in Afghanistan in 2001 indicated that the groups budget for research and weapons of mass destruction, almost all of it focused on primitive chemical weapons work, was some $2,000 to $4,000.
Businessman claims Blackwater paid him to buy steroids and weapons on black market
IN THE AIR FORCE'S BATTLE AGAINST TERRORISM
We recently ran pictures of flight accomodations (top) for high Air Force brass provided by the Project on Government Oversight. POGO has now come up with the enlisted equivalent. Troops have sat for hours on long flights in mangled seats and on netting inside cargo aircraft. This photo (bottom) was taken at Al Udeid Airbase in Qatar. Al Udeid is a major logistics hub for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, and is a command center for operations in Iraq. It is home to the 379th Air Expeditionary Wing of the U.S. Air Force.
THE COST OF PREJUDICE: 2-3 BATTLE BRIGADES
US AIR FORCE ADOPTS NAZI MOTTO
US AIR FORCE - The Air Force has a new advertising campaign to recruit the next generation of Airmen as well as better inform people about the Air Force mission: "Above All."
Although the phrase 'uber alles' describing Germany well precedes the rise of Hitler, any one who lived through World War II would easily associate it with its Nazi use. The adoption by the Air Force is either stupid or scary.
ONE MAN'S CAMPAIGN AGAINST THE ILLEGAL MERCENARIES IN IRAQ
[From the Independent, UK]
2,973 Total number of people killed (excluding the 19 hijackers) in the September 11, 2001 attacks
2,932 Total number of US servicemen and women killed in Afghanistan and Iraq since September 2001
72,000 Estimated number of civilians killed worldwide since September 11, 2001 as a result of the war on terror
2 Number of years since US intelligence had any credible lead to Osama bin Laden's whereabouts
1,248 Number of published books relating to the September 11 attacks
$40bn Airline industry losses since September 2001
91 per cent Terror cases from FBI and others that US Justice Dept declined to prosecute in first eight months of 2006
THIS CHART, compiled by Ryan Singel at Wired, shows come of the the relative risks in contemporary life over the past five years. Other useful comparisons include those in a recent article in Foreign Affairs that estimates the probability of an American being killed in an terrorist incident is about 1 in 80,000. And as we have reported previously, you are also more likely to die of a workplace accident, be murdered, commit suicide, be killed by the side effects of a prescription drug, or die of cancer or heart disease.
ANNALS OF IMPROBABLE RESEARCH - After anxious months of waiting, Gregg F. Martin's superiors have again validated his strategic leadership principles. Martin wrote the classic military guide "Jesus the Strategic Leader." On February 17, G.W. Bush's nomination of Gregg F. Martin was confirmed by the Senate. After writing his famous study, then-Lieutenant Colonel Martin was promoted to command the 130th Engineer Brigade of the Army's 5th Corps. The 51-page-long "Jesus the Strategic Leader" [in the Army War College Journal] includes a drawing of Martin's "pyramid model" of Jesus the strategic leader. According to this model, Jesus is a pyramid, resting atop and partially intersecting God. God is a pyramid, too, but with a broader base. A third, inverted pyramid is supported atop Jesus' pyramid. This third pyramid begins with what Martin calls the "Top Three" disciples (Peter, James and John) and broadens to include the other apostles, then the disciples and, topping everything, the masses. Admirers are eager to see how high up the military pyramid the new general will rise.
GEORGE ORWELL ON THE LONG WAR
GEORGE ORWELL, 1984 - In past ages, a war, almost by definition, was something that sooner or later came to an end, usually in unmistakable victory or defeat. In the past, also, war was one of the main instruments by which human societies were kept in touch with physical reality. . . Physical facts could not be ignored. In philosophy, or religion, or ethics, or politics, two and two might make five, but when one was designing a gun or an airplane they had to make four.
Inefficient nations were always conquered sooner or later, and the struggle for efficiency was inimical to illusions. Moreover, to be efficient it was necessary to be able to learn from the past, which meant having a fairly accurate idea of what had happened in the past. Newspapers and history books were, of course, always colored and biased, but falsification of the kind that is practiced today would have been impossible. War was a sure safeguard of sanity, and so far as the ruling classes were concerned it was probably the most important of all safeguards. While wars could be won or lost, no ruling class could be completely irresponsible.
But when war becomes literally continuous, it also ceases to be dangerous. When war is continuous there is no such thing as military necessity. Technical progress can cease and the most palpable facts can be denied or disregarded. As we have seen, researches that could be called scientific are still carried out for the purposes of war, but they are essentially a kind of daydreaming, and their failure to show results is not important. Efficiency, even military efficiency, is no longer needed. Nothing is efficient in Oceania except the Thought Police. . .
War, it will be seen, is now a purely internal affair. In the past, the ruling groups of all countries, although they might recognize their common interest and therefore limit the destructiveness of war, did fight against one another, and the victor always plundered the vanquished. In our own day they are not fighting against one another at all. The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word 'war', therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.
HOW TO TELL IF YOU'VE WON: A guide for would-be empires
MARTIAL LAW: Excerpts from an an article in a defense journal
A VETERAN SPEAKS: "I killed innocent people for my government"
The Tillman Story: Tillman, as he is being fired on by fellow American soldiers, says "I'm Pat fuckiing Tillman."
Drift by Rachel Maddow: Where's war going?
When Johnny and Jane Come Marching Home by Paula J. Caplan.. When veterans who make it home from Afghanistan or Iraq have psychological issues, the assumption often is that they need therapy and psychiatric drugs. A Harvard-based psychologist argues that in many cases what they are experiencing is a healthy reaction to an inhumane experience, and that therapy and drugs isolate them at a time when they most need honest communication with loved ones, neighbors, and co-workers. She gives detailed, practical advice for non-veterans about how to ask the right questions and how to listen, both so veterans will be able to share what theyve been through and so the society that sent them will have a better understanding of the wars realities.Work Site
Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War by Richard E. Rubenstein: From the American Revolution to the end of World War II, the United States spent nineteen years at war against other nations. But since 1950, the total is twenty-two years and counting. On four occasions, U.S. presidents elected as "peace candidates" have gone on to lead the nation into armed conflicts. Repeatedly. In Reasons to Kill noted scholar Richard E. Rubenstein explores both the rhetoric that sells war to the public and the underlying cultural and social factors that make it so effective.
War is a Lie by David Swanson
In 2010 a cross-ideological group got together for a day to discuss an antiwar coalition. Out of that session has come this book edited by Paul Buhle, Bill Kauffman, George ONeill Jr. and Kevin Zeese. Among the contributors: Jesse Walker, Doug Bandow, Bill Kauffman, Cindy Sheehan, Ralph Nader and Sam Smith. As the book describes itself, "Throughout American history there have been times when movements developed that were outside the limited political dialogue of the two major parties, such as the abolitionists, the Anti-Imperialist League, the Non-Partisan League, and aspects of the Old Right and the New Left. Sometimes those movements have broken through and created paradigm shifting moments." ORDER
War is the joint exercise of things we were trained not to do as children.
War is doing things overseas that we would go to prison for at home.
Anyone can start a war. Starting a peace is really hard. Therefore it is much harder to be a peace expert than a war expert.
The media treats war as just another professional sport.
War has rules, which means that we can change the rules.
Murder, rape and slavery still exist. But that doesn't mean we shouldn't have banned them. The same is true of war.
Telling a country we won't negotiate with it until it does what you want is like saying you won't play a game unless you are allowed to win.
There is no evidence that supporting war, or telling presidents to do so, improves your testosterone level, so Ivy League professors are better advised to stick to tennis.
There is one way to deal with guerilla warfare and that is to resolve the problems that allow it to thrive. The trick is to undermine the violence of the most bitter by dealing honestly with the problems and complaints of the most rational.
Of course, there can be peace with so-called terrorist organizations; it's just a matter of whether one waits the better part of a century, as the British did in Northern Ireland, or whether you start talking and negotiating now.
Three thousand people is, of course, far too many to die for any reason. But it is also far too weak an argument for the end of democracy.
Peace is a state of reciprocity, of trust, of empirically based confidence that no one is about to do you in. It exists not because of intrinsic goodness or rampant naivete but because of a common, implicit understanding that that it works for everyone.
Implicit in the "what about their violence?" argument is the idea that what we do wrong is excusable because it has been matched by the other side. Of course, the other side sees it the same way so you end up with a perfect stalemate of violence. When I raised a similar argument as a kid, my mother's response was, "If Johnny were to jump off a cliff, would you jump off a cliff, too?" I never could come up with good answer to that and so eventually had to concede that somebody else's stupidity was not a good excuse for my own.
From the moment we commence a moral intervention we become a part of the story, and part of the good and evil. We are no longer the innocent bystander but a full participant whose acts will either help or make things worse. Our intentions become irrelevant; they are overwhelmed by the character of our response to them. The morality of the disease is supplanted by the morality of the cure. In fact, every moral act in the face of mental or physical injury carries twin responsibilities: to mend the injury and to avoid replacing it with another
One of the reasons America is in so much trouble is because it happily makes all sorts of compromises in order to get along with large dictatorships such as Russia and China, but thinks it can handle smaller operations like Hamas, North Korea, and Iran by simple obstinacy and belligerence. In other words, it is happy to talk with big terrorists, but not little ones. In fact, most of these small entities - and those who lead them - suffer from extreme inferiority complexes. By threatening war, imposing massive embargos and so forth, America merely feeds the sense of persecution and encourages the least rational reaction. A more sensible approach would be to constantly negotiate with these leaders and edge them towards reasonable participation in world affairs.
Imagine if we had told Israel and Palestine a few years ago that if they would just make nice we would give them enough money to equal Israel's GDP for one year and Palestine's for three. Take the time off, go to the Riviera or the Catskills, forget about productivity, and just party on thanks to the American taxpayer. Or if Israel and Palestine wanted to be really sensible, they could have invested in their countries' future instead. Think how much safer we would be today. . . But where would such a large sum of money come from? Well, all we would have had to have done was to cancel the invasion of Iraq and used the money as a carrot rather than as a bludgeon. For that is just what it has cost us so far. (2007)
The people who built castles and walled cities and moats are all dead now and their efforts at security seem puny and ultimately futile as we visit their unintended monuments to the vanity of human presumption. Like the castle-dwellers behind the moat, we are now spending huge sums to put ourselves inside a prison of our own making. It is unlikely to provide either security for our bodies nor solace for our souls, for we are simply attacking ourselves before others get a chance.
Empires and cultures are not permanent and while thinking about the possibility that ours is collapsing may seem a dismal exercise it is far less so than enduring the dangerous frustrations and failures involved in having one's contrary myth constantly butt up against reality - like a boozer who insists he is not drunk attempting to drive home. Instead of defending the non-existent, we could turn our energies instead towards devising a new and saner reality.
Places like Harvard and Oxford - and their after-school programs such as the Washington think tanks - teach the few how to control the many and it is impossible to do this without various forms of abuse ranging from sophism to corporate control systems to napalm. It is no accident that a large number of advocates of war - in government and the media - are the products of elite educations where they were taught both the inevitability of their hegemony and the tools with which to enforce it. It will, therefore, be some time before places such as Harvard and the Council on Foreign Relations are seen for what they are: the White Citizens Councils of state violence.
Castro, in his early days, spoke at the UN. But the hotels of New York refused him space. The result: Malcolm X found him a hotel in Harlem and a key early step was taken in the alienation of a man who, with just a little respect and effort, might not have tormented every American president since by refusing to die or fade away. Respect is important because it is a door wide enough for peace to enter. We need to try it more often.