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American Wars Are off the Charts Under Donald Trump

President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence greet military personnel during a visit to the Pentagon, July 20, 2017. (AP/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

American Wars Are off the Charts Under Donald Trump

He’s failed to deliver his promised withdrawals from Afghanistan and Syria, vetoed an order to get out of Yemen, and expanded the U.S. bombing of Somalia, all while eyeing Iran.

Here’s a statement it might be hard to disagree with: American war is off the charts. Still, I’d like to explain — but I’m nervous about doing so. I know perfectly well that the next word I plan to write will send most of you tumbling elsewhere in a universe in which “news” is the latest grotesque mass shooting; the craziest tweet from you-know-who; celebrities marching into court over college-admissions scandals; or even a boy, missing for years, who suddenly turns up only to morph into a 23-year-old impostor with a criminal record.

How can America’s wars in distant lands compete with that? Which is why I just can’t bring myself to write the next word. So promise me that, after you read it, you’ll hang in there for just a minute and give me a chance to explain.

Okay, here goes: Somalia.

A country in the horn of Africa, it once glued American eyeballs, but that was so last century, right? I mean, there was that bestselling book and that hit Hollywood movie directed by Ridley Scott (Blade RunnerAlien!) about the disaster early in Bill Clinton’s presidency that came to be known as Black Hawk Down (aka the battle of Mogadishu).

In the age of Donald Trump, wasn’t that a million presidencies ago? Honestly, can you even tell me anymore what in the world it was all about? I couldn’t have, not without looking it up again. A warlord, starvation, U.S. intervention, 18 dead American soldiers (and hundreds of dead Somalis, but that hardly mattered) in a country that was shattering.

 …click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Drones, Murder and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: the Cases of Reyaad Khan and Abdul Raqib Amin

Drones, Murder and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at 70: the Cases of Reyaad Khan and Abdul Raqib Amin

Photo by Debra Sweet | CC BY 2.0

The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR) is 70 this year. But you wouldn’t know it from the impact it’s had on human lives. For example, Donald Trump has sharply increased drone attacks, especially in Yemen and Somalia, with virtual silence from Western media. Article 11 of the UDHR states: “(1) Everyone charged with a penal offence has the right to be presumed innocent until proved guilty according to law in a public trial at which he has had all the guarantees necessary for his defence.”

As I document in my new book Human Wrongs (Iff Books), the alleged terror suspects blown apart by drone operators are not even charged let alone given the chance to plead their innocence in a national or international court: and that’s quite apart from the women, children and babies (“collateral damage”) that happen to be nearby when the Hellfire missiles are launched.

In Britain, the age-old common law, presumption of innocence, faced a slight setback in the so-called “war on terror.” Since US drone operators murdered Afghan civilians in the first-ever lethal drone strike in 2002 (followed by Yeminis in the same year), the US has murdered about 2,500 people with drones alone. Providing targeting information and communications links, the UK plays a significant role, all in violation of the principles of the UDHR.

The UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial Execution, Philip Alston, writes: “A State killing is legal only if it is required to protect life (making lethal force proportionate) and there is no other means, such as capture or nonlethal incapacitation, of preventing that threat to life (making lethal force necessary).”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

The War in Syria: Who Is Actually to Blame?

Those of us who inform ourselves daily from an eclectic range of media sources tend to have a broader understanding of the conflict in Syria. The more critical one becomes of both ends of the media spectrum, the more one can evaluate the veracity of the respective outlets (for example, the peddling of statistics from a T-shirt shop in England versus the use of satellite imagery).

Analyzing all forms of media leads to only one conclusion regarding the current crisis in Syria: all of the parties involved have an overwhelming amount of blood on their hands and are playing a role in the ongoing war. However, the evidence suggests there is one group of nations, headed by the world’s superpower, that has once again created a humanitarian catastrophe rivaling that of history’s worst dictators.

Although corporate media has portrayed the situation in Syria as being one of a popular uprising against a brutal and murderous dictator, the truth is far more complex.

According to four-star General Wesley Clark, Syria was one of seven countries the Pentagon targeted for regime change following the attacks of September 11, 2001. The others were Libya, Lebanon, Somalia, Sudan, Iraq, and Iran. This intention to take out Syria’s leader prior to the start conflict in 2011 was confirmed by Wikileaks (you can access the relevant chapter in its entirety here). According to Julian Assange, Assad’s overthrow was planned as far back as 2006. As explained by MintPress News:

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It’s Always the Same War

It’s Always the Same War

   Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, left, U.N. Special Envoy for Syria Staffan de Mistura and U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry give a news conference after a meeting in Vienna on Oct 30. (Ronald Zak / AP)

Barack Obama originally ran for president as the anti-war candidate. Now, as his second term winds down, the two George W. Bush/Obama wars are winding up, with a third in Syria. U.S. military forces are deployed elsewhere around the globe, as in drone striking in Yemen and Somalia, adding to the global conflagration. The United States is engaged in endless war.

The crisis of war and the millions fleeing these infernos has reached levels unprecedented since World War II, prompting the United Nations and International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) to issue what they called an “unprecedented joint warning” for states to end wars, respect international law and aid the 60 million refugees made homeless from recent conflicts.

United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said: “The continuing violence is a clear indication that a political solution to the conflict in Syria is desperately needed. The fighting must stop now. There is no military solution to the crisis, not in Syria or anywhere else. From Afghanistan to the Central African Republic, from Ukraine to Yemen, combatants and those who control them are defying humanity’s most basic rules.”

 

ICRC President Peter Maurer added: “When humanitarian law and principles are disregarded, when humanitarian needs are trumped by political agendas, when access to the wounded and sick is denied, and when security concerns lead to a suspension of operations, people are abandoned, the notion of protection loses its meaning, and humanity is flouted. We ask that states reaffirm our shared humanity by concrete action and uphold their responsibility to respect and ensure respect for international humanitarian law.”

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

Drones, IBM, and the Big Data of Death

Drones, IBM, and the Big Data of Death

LAST WEEK The Intercept published a package of stories on the U.S. drone program, drawing on a cache of secret government documents leaked by an intelligence community whistleblower. The available evidence suggests that one of the documents, a study titled “ISR Support to Small Footprint CT Operations — Somalia/Yemen,” was produced for the Defense Department in 2013 by consultants from IBM. If you look at just one classified PowerPoint presentation this year, I recommend you make it this one.

Like a good poem, the ISR study has multiple meanings, and rewards careful attention and repeated reading. On its surface, it’s simply an analysis by the Defense Department’s Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) Task Force of the “performance and requirements” of the U.S. military’s counterterrorism kill/capture operations, including drone strikes, in Somalia and Yemen. However, it’s also what a former senior special operations officer characterized as a “bitch brief” — that is, a study designed to be a weapon in a bureaucratic turf war with the CIA to win the Pentagon more money and a bigger mandate. The study was also presumably an opportunity for IBM to demonstrate that it can produce snappy “analysis” tailored to the desires of its Defense Department clients, as well as for current Defense employees to network with a potential future employer.

But the presentation’s most compelling meaning is much deeper: It’s a rare, peculiar cultural artifact that opens a window into the deep guts of the military-industrial complex, where the technologies of assassination and corporate sales converge, all described in language as dead as the target of an ISR platform kinetic engagement.

Edge Methods

In 2010, IBM employees delivered a talk at IBM’s Analytics Solution Center in Washington, D.C., titled “An Introduction to Edge Methods: Business Analytics and Optimization for Intelligence.” The audience was “the Defense and Intelligence communities,” and IBM’s goal was to explain to them how the company could help them with “managing large volumes of data” to derive “invaluable” insights. Among its already-existing governmental customers, IBM explained, was the ISR Task Force.

…click on the above link to read the rest of the article…

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