People speak of Afghanistan as “our generation’s” Vietnam, a quagmire, a war that goes on simply because it has been going on.
The Afghan war is dragging into being our generation’s, and soon the next generation’s Vietnam as well, over a decade and a half old. There are troops deploying now that were two years old when the conflict started. There are fathers and sons deploying together. Bin Laden’s been dead for years.
With a slight break, the current war in Iraq has been ongoing for some 14 years. If you want to think of it in a longer view, Trump is now the fifth consecutive president to make war on that country. Saddam’s been dead for years.
And though of more recent vintage, the war in Syria appears both open-ended in duration and ramping up in U.S. involvement. If Assad died tomorrow, the war would likely only intensify, as the multiple parties in the fight vie to take over after him.
The reason we’re fighting all of these places and more can’t still be “terrorism,” can it? That has sort of been the reason for the past 16 years so you’d think we would have settled that. Regime change? A lot of that has also happened, without much end game, and nobody seems to know if that does or ever did apply in Syria to begin with. America can’t be under threat after all these years, right? I mean, world’s most powerful military and all that.
So maybe it’s time for the current president to tell us why we’re still fighting in all of these wars. Because previous presidents’ track records on explaining to the ever-bloodthirsty American public why we are fighting is poor. Perhaps history has a lesson for us?
- When I was a kid, successive presidents told us we had to fight in Vietnam, Cambodia and Laos, because if we didn’t fight them over there, we’d have to fight them on the beaches of California. We believed. It was a lie.
- I was a teenager during the Cold War, several presidents told us we needed to create massive stockpiles of nuclear weapons, garrison the world, maybe invade Cuba, fight covert wars and use the CIA to overthrow democratically elected governments and replace them with dictators, or the Russians would destroy us. We believed. It was a lie.
- When I was in college our president told us that we needed to fight in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua or the Sandinistas would come to the United States. He told us Managua was closer to Washington DC than LA was. He told us we needed to fight in Lebanon, Grenada and Libya to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.
- When I was a little older our president told us how evil Saddam Hussein was, how his soldiers bayoneted babies in Kuwait. He told us Saddam was a threat to America. He told us we needed to invade Panama to oust a dictator to protect America. We believed. It was a lie.
- Another president told us we had to fight terrorists in Somalia, as well as bomb Iraq, to protect ourselves. We believed. It was a lie.
- The one after him told us that because a bunch of Saudis from a group loosely tied to Afghanistan attacked us on 9/11, we needed to occupy that country and destroy the Taliban, who had not attacked us. The Taliban are still there 15 years later, ISIS now too, and so is the American military. We believed. It was a lie.
- After that the same President told us Saddam Hussein threatened every one of our children with weapons of mass destruction, that the smoking gun would be a mushroom cloud, that Saddam was in league with al Qaeda. We believed. It was a lie.
- In 2011 the president and his secretary of state told us we needed regime change in Libya, to protect us from an evil dictator. We believed. It was a lie.
- In August 2014 the same president told us we needed to intervene again in Iraq, on a humanitarian mission to save the Yazidis. No boots on the ground, a simple, limited act only the United States could conduct, and then we’d leave. We believed. It was a lie.
- That same president later told us Americans will need to fight and die in Syria. He says this is necessary to protect us, because if we do not defeat Islamic State over there, they will come here, to what we now call without shame or irony The Homeland. We believed. It was a lie.
So with a new guy in the White House, maybe it’s time to renew the question. Perhaps the media can take a day off from what borders on sexual pleasure gushing over the latest super bomb and ask the president a few simple questions: why are we fighting, what is the goal, when will we get there? Someone should have asked a long time ago, but since no one did, this is as good a time as any.
Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99 Percent. Reprinted from the his blog with permission.
US Naval “Armada” Menaces North Korea
With tensions on the Korean Peninsula already on a knife-edge, the US has dispatched the nuclear-powered submarine, the USS Michigan to the region. The submarine, which is capable of launching up to 150 Tomahawk cruise missiles from more than 1,500 kilometres, is due in the South Korean port of Busan today.
The arrival of the USS Michigan coincides with intense media speculation that North Korea will conduct a nuclear or ballistic missile test to mark its Military Foundation Day. The Trump administration has repeatedly declared that the US will use “all options” to prevent Pyongyang developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of hitting the American mainland.
At the same time, the nuclear aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, complete with its strike group of guided missile destroyers and cruiser, is headed toward waters off the Korean Peninsula. The Carl Vinson was last reported in the Philippine Sea where it rendezvoused with two Japanese destroyers and will meet up with South Korean warships as it heads north. The US and South Korean air forces are also currently involved in joint war games.
The USS Ronald Reagan and its carrier strike group are based at the Japanese port of Yokosuka.
Earlier this month, President Trump warned North Korea that the US was “sending an armada” to North East Asia. “We have submarines. Very powerful. Far more powerful than the aircraft carrier. That I can tell you,” he told Fox Business Network.
Trump reinforced the threat yesterday when he met with the ambassadors of members of the UN Security Council, declaring that the status quo in North Korea was “unacceptable.” In calling on the UN to impose additional and stronger sanctions, he branded Pyongyang’s rudimentary nuclear arsenal as “a real threat to the world,” “a big world problem” that “we have to finally solve.”
US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, warned that Washington would not ignore North Korea’s weapons’ testing saying: The United States is not looking for a fight so don’t give us a reason to have one.” She again called on China to put pressure on its ally North Korea to halt its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
In a tweet last weekend, Trump again insisted that Beijing take action against Pyongyang. “China is very much the economic lifeline to North Korea. So while nothing is easy, if they want to solve the North Korean problem, they will.”
In a phone call with Trump on Sunday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged caution. While “adamantly opposing” any contravention of UN resolutions by North Korea, Xi, according to Chinese reports, “hoped that all sides exercise restraint and avoid doing things that exacerbate tensions on the peninsula.”
The Chinese government is deeply concerned that the US could trigger a war on its doorstep and has been pushing for the resumption of negotiations with concessions both by the US and North Korea. “Only if all sides live up to their responsibilities and come together from different directions can the nuclear issue on the peninsula be resolved as quickly as possible,” Xi reportedly said.
Trump also spoke by phone with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe who told reporters yesterday: “We’ll maintain close contact with the US and high level of monitoring and surveillance as we respond firmly on North Korea.” He said that his government agreed with Trump to “strongly demand that North Korea” show restraint and denounced Pyongyang for being “repeatedly dangerous and provocative.”
The Abe government has ramped up anxieties in Japan by issuing civil defence advice on how to respond in the event of a ballistic missile attack: to take shelter underground or in the nearest strong building. It previously suggested that plans were being drawn up for the evacuation of thousands of Japanese citizens from South Korea in the event of a conflict.
Backed by a compliant media, the US along with its allies continue to demonise the Pyongyang regime, branding it as a threat to the region and the world. While pressuring China, the Trump administration has also repeatedly declared that it is prepared to “solve” North Korea by itself.
The incessant drum beat was continued last week with statements from the US defence and state departments. Pentagon spokesman Gary Ross condemned Pyongyang for “provocative, destabilizing actions and rhetoric, saying: “North Korea’s unlawful weapons programs represent a clear, grave threat to US national security.”
The State Department denounced North Korea in similar terms before issuing a thinly veiled warning. “We do not seek military conflict, nor do we seek to threaten North Korea. However, we will respond to threats to us or our allies accordingly,” a spokesperson declared.
The North Korean regime has responded in kind with bloodcurdling threats to the US, which hand Washington a pretext for its military build-up. It branded the deployment of the USS Carl Vinson as “an extremely dangerous act by those who plan a nuclear war to invade the North” and declared that it was ready to turn the aircraft carrier into a “great heap of scrap metal” and to “bury it in the sea.”
The Trump administration has deliberately ratcheted up tensions on the Korean Peninsula, threatening pre-emptive military strikes if Pyongyang proceeds to conduct a sixth nuclear test or further ballistic missile launches. In such conditions, a miscalculation or mistake could trigger a conflict that would rapidly spiral out of control and draw in nuclear-armed powers such as China and Russia.
Russia prepared to deploy ground forces to Syria – Unconfirmed
… from Press TV, Tehran
[ Editor’s Note: I had expected some new Russian troops to be coming into Syria, with the already published plans to boost up Syria’s missile defenses, as there would be no time to train Syrian personnel on the newer equipment, including the jamming and centralized command aspects. It also gives the Russian troops current combat training, which is hugely valuable.
But this new mention of ground forces going in to support the SAA where the fighting is the toughest would seem to be a direct response to Turkey, the US and Gulf States, and Israel’s escalation to kill the peace-talk momentum, via the original plan to keep attacking Syria from multiple points at once so it cannot concentrate its forces to continue taking ground from the jihadis.
We had already had the news last week that four top-of-the-line Russian fighter bombers had been added to the air campaign of their base there.
The Russians and the Iranians seemed determined to not lose what they have gained in helping to assist expanding Assad’s control over more of the country, including the oil and gas fields so critical for the cash-flow needed during this critical time.
But they also have shown they do not want a head on collision with their tripartite partner Turkey, who has made a bad joke out of honoring Syria’s territorial integrity. It is a very delicate and dangerous situation that could spin out of control at any time… Jim W. Dean ]
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– First published … April 24, 2017 –
Syrian military sources say Moscow has informed Damascus of its preparedness to dispatch ground troops to the Arab country to help Syrian government forces with battles against the foreign-sponsored Takfiri terrorists.
The sources, speaking on condition of anonymity, revealed on Monday that the Russian special forces were ready to be deployed in the areas where Syrian troops were engaged in serious battles against the terrorist groups.
They further noted that the technical aspects of the plan had already been drawn up, and that it would be implemented once the Damascus government puts in an official request and Russian President Vladimir Putin issues the order.
Earlier this month, Russian newspaper Izvestia reported that the country’s ground forces were about to restore security to Christian-populated regions during the Syrian army’s forthcoming counter-terrorism operations in the northern countryside of Hama Province.
The daily added that the Russian units would help popular defense groups bring back calm and stability to the city of Mahardah, located about 23 kilometers northwest of Hama. The Takfiri militants are besieged by the Syrian army forces from all directions there.
Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Federation Council, the upper house of Russia’s parliament, told Sputnik news agency on April 22 that Moscow would not hesitate to supply the Damascus government with the air defense missile systems it needed once a bilateral agreement was struck.
“The necessary quantity [of air defense systems] can be supplied on a priority basis. It will not place an onerous burden on our defense industry,” he said.
The remarks came a day after Syrian President Bashar al-Assad said Damascus and Moscow were engaged in negotiations to put into operation more air defense systems inside Syria.
“Damascus has always been interested in the latest generation of military hardware, but that depends on the accessibility of the systems, Russia’s policies as the supplier and prices,” Assad said.
Russia, along with Iran, has been assisting the Syrian government in its fight against terrorist groups wreaking havoc in the Arab country since 2011.