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Obama’s Napoleon Complex

16 Aug

Since the bombs started falling in Central Asia in October 2001, critics of the American Empire warned that the initial “success” in Afghanistan was an illusion. The country was no match for massive US firepower, but the lessons of history would make this war unwinnable. It would drain our resources, create exponentially more enemies, and further destabilize a region that had absolutely nothing to do with 9/11.

Eight years later, as both civilian and US military death counts are surging, even the US’s top torturer/executioner in Afghanistan is admitting this. General Stanley McChrystal is witnessing firsthand the rising casualties and warning that the Taliban are winning:

The Taliban have gained the upper hand in Afghanistan, the top American commander there said, forcing the U.S. to change its strategy in the eight-year-old conflict by increasing the number of troops in heavily populated areas like the volatile southern city of Kandahar, the insurgency’s spiritual home.

This startling admission coming from Obama’s handpicked Afghan ethnic cleanser is just another sign of a undefined and ever changing imperial strategy, all of them with no conceivable chance of success. First, the goal was to tame the Taliban, a ragtag group of poor Muslim fighters who did want war with the US but got it anyway. Now, McChrystal is admitting that the Taliban can’t be defeated, and the job of the US military is now to “defend and protect the Afghan population.” Rather than cut our losses and come home, Obama and his war machine are putting new slogans and rhetoric to justify this imperial overstretch.

At the same time McChrystal is giving these warnings from Central Asia, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates is claiming that it is a “mystery” how long US troops will be fighting and dying in Afghanistan:

Defeating the Taliban and al-Qaida will take “a few years,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates said, with success on a larger scale in the desperately poor country a much longer proposition. He acknowledged that the Taliban has a firm hold on parts of the country President Barack Obama has called vital to U.S. security.

Gates’ testimony represents the complete absence of logic behind the “war on terror” and Obama’s proclamation that the war in Afghanistan is “the good war.” Obama excited a war-weary American public with campaign talks of peace and pullouts, but now that the emperor’s torch of power has been handed to him, he sees no reason why this pointless and counterproductive war should end.

More than anything Obama attempts to do domestically, nothing has the chance to bring Obama’s presidency down like this expensive and bloody quagmire in Afghanistan. Critics of Obamacare like to point out the high costs of his healthcare policy and the likelihood that taxes will be raised. But the costs of government healthcare will be minuscule compared to the costs of fighting in Afghanistan: trillions of dollars, thousands of more troops killed or forever maimed, and the continuing growth of Taliban popularity in response to massive US air raids.

Obama did not create this Mesopotamian madness, but he has the power to put an end to it, to seek diplomacy, and to work towards something American foreign policy hasn’t witnessed in decades: genuine peace. President Eisenhower ended the disastrous Korean War, President Coolidge withdrew troops from the Dominican Republic, and President Reagan cut-and-ran from Lebanon; all of these actions secured peace and US security. Obama’s wise engagement with Israel is beginning to extinguish some fires in that trouble region, yet he insists on throwing more and more gasoline on the Afghan flames.

This war will be Obama’s Waterloo, and with its continuing costs and burdens, time is not on his side.

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US selling arms to both sides of Somali conflict

12 Aug

Despite the fact that a huge majority of Americans oppose the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan, these wars continue to rage on under our new emperor’s watch. It is imperative that these adventures in imperial ignorance and arrogance end immediately, but it’s the US Empire’s smaller and less visible war-making that also needs to be exposed and opposed.

The US is pretty busy in the poverty stricken African continent. Since January, Congolese militias have been receiving US guns and money as they raze and rape their way across the country. Now the State Department is informing us that it has provided hearly 40 tons of arms to the Somali government to combat the al-Shabaab insurgency, and Hillary Clinton is promising 80 tons more.

What exactly is being accomplished by this massive transfer of arms? Well, Somali forces bring these guns to market, sell them to traders, who then sell them right to the insurgency at a nice little profit. With all these middle-man markups, it might just be cheaper to sell them directly to the insurgency.

Somalia is a country torn apart by civil war, and was further destabilized by the US-supported Ethiopian invasion in 2006. Poor, hungry, and desperate, Somalis have continuously turned to piracy to feed their families and avoid the constant threat of rivaling militias.

The US response to this increase in piracy has been numbingly typical: threats, threats, and more threats. Talks of imposing sanctions has significant popularity in the Pentagon, and even discussions of a possible invasion of tiny nearby Eritrea, who the US accuses of supplying the insurgents with weapons. Eritrea denies this claim, exposing the Pentagon’s mindset that military intervention in other countries is solely the job of the good and noble US government.

The US war planners refuse to see any possible repercussions in their short-sighted attempts to police and run the world. The US has a terrible habit of funding both sides of ethnic and religious conflicts, and blowback from these interventions aimed at our shores is not a matter of if, but when.

Imitating the Soviets in Afghanistan

10 Aug

Obama’s healthcare plans have been dominating the media for the last month, so it’s no surprise that this little piece of news went nearly unnoticed here in the US. According to the UK Times Online, 45,000 more US Marines will be sent to Afghanistan. Anthony Cordesman, “an influential American academic,” says

The United States should send up to 45,000 extra troops to Afghanistan…

If Mr Cordesman’s recommendation reflects the view of General McChrystal, who recently presented the findings of a 60-day review of Afghanistan strategy to Washington, it would mean sending another nine combat brigades, comprising 45,000 American troops, in addition to the 21,000 already approved by President Obama. This would bring the total American military presence in Afghanistan to about 100,000, considerably closer to the force that was deployed for the counter-insurgency campaign in Iraq.

Not a word in the American press about this possible “surge” in Afghanistan, a war that ia costing the US $200 million every day, destablizing the entire region, strengthening the Taliban, and killing hundreds of civilians a day. Obama may be drawing down troop strength in Iraq, but his offensives in Afghanistan are dangerously counterproductive, creating and an endless list of new enemies with every bomb and drone missile.

100,000 Soviets and thousands of helicopters couldn’t tame the Afghan countryside. Two decades later, the sons of those Afghans who whipped the Soviets have been bleeding the US since since October 2001. What makes these war planners think that they ignore history and keep digging hole after hole in Central Asia?

If Cordesman and McChrystal are going to be giving orders in Afghanistan, then it is very likely that the US won’t be leaving anytime soon. General McChrystal was the top torturer in Iraq before Obama promoted him; Cordesman criticized Bush for not escalating the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan enough and publicly praised Israel’s air and ground bombardment of the Gaza Strip last December.

These are some of the top minds running the US Empire, and they all have Obama’ ear.

There is also another possible war on the horizon as Israeli hawks continue to pressure the US to pre-emptively strike the Iranians. In the midst of a crippling depression, inflation, and debt, how long can the US maintain these desert killing-fields?

Majority of American oppose empire?

8 Aug

Finally, Americans are getting restless. According to a recent poll, an increasingly large majority of Americans oppose both the US occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. The costs of spreading democracy at gunpoint are starting to be felt by the American public, who are getting fed up with our empire draining the treasury, increasing inflation, sons, husbands, and fathers returning in body bags, and the desperate attempts by the establishment press to find any justification for continuing the desert killing fields.

As the head of DC’s Imperial Regime, Obama must be worried too. The god-king’s poll numbers are dropping, and his embarrassing gaffe over the “Stupid Cop” incident is hurting him more and more everyday. Opposition to his healthcare rationing snake oil pitch is also losing popularity even among his own party in Congress, and is even drawing threats from brave state leaders to nullify the program if it passes.

The top-heavy, bureaucratic structure of the US Empire is slowly starting to unravel. US interventionist governance, which demands that we give up our liberties and our property to run the world and our lives as they see fit, will eventually join the ash heap of history like its twin sister, the Soviet Empire.

In the 1920s, the great H.L. Mencken predicted that the American system wouldn’t last 100 more years. Bloated and centralized empires always fall, he warned, and the US is no exception.

Good riddance.

Bagram: Obama’s Gitmo, only worse

27 Jun

There has been plenty of justified praise for President Obama as he slowly but surely closes the Gitmo Gulag. It is by well known that the Bush Regime used this prison, as well as others, to torture men who committed the “crimes” of resisting the American desert-killing fields in Mesopotamia and having Arab names. We later learned out from Blitzkrieg Rumsfeld that these “terrorists” were actually beaten, starved, deprived of sleep, and tortured with insects in an attempt to produce a false 9/11-Iraqi link.

But what about the lesser known, and even crueler, military prison in Bagram, Afghanistan? What goes on at Bagram makes Gitmo look like a day-care camp. According to a 2,000 page U.S. Army report, two prisoners were chained to the ceiling and then beaten to death. Autopsies later revealed extreme trauma to both of their legs, describing it as similar to being run over by a bus. The International Red Cross Report reported massive overcrowding, harsh conditions, threats of HIV-infection and sodomy, weeks of complete isolation, routine beatings, and stress positions (a favorite at Abu Ghraib).

It went nearly unnoticed, but Obama’s “Justice” Department stated that it agreed with the previous Administration that the over 600 detainees at Bagram Airfield cannot use U.S. Courts to challenge their detention, and it only took two sentences. That’s it. No investigations, no hearings, no discussions. Bush’s Military Commissions Act of 2006, one of the scariest pieces of legislation I’ve ever seen, was used to justify these indefinite imprisonments, and Obama’s silence on Bagram can only mean he condones this Caesar-esque power.

Why is Obama closing one U.S. Gulag but keeping open another? Well, Gitmo is 90 miles off the shore of Florida, so its stain hits closer to home, and it’s a way of throwing a bone to his anti-war base while he pulls new war levers like a debt-ridden gambler at a casino. You might not know it from any of the Pharoah-fanning media, but Obama is doing his best Alexander the Great Slaughterer impression in Afghanistan as his 21,000 troop “surge” is beginning to arrive. In fact, the bombing of Afghanistan has increased every single month Obama has been in office. There’s going to be a lot more detainees headed Bagram’s way thanks to O-bomber (and his equally bloodthirsty Sec. of State Hillary the Hawk) as he spends $200 million dollars a day bombing the Afghan countryside.

I bring up Obama’s torture two-face because tomorrow, June 26, is the International Day of Support for Victims of Torture. The CIA, FBI, and the Pentagram Pentagon might be up for weeks if they thought about all of their victims of torture, as well as the other rarely-discussed victims: the 5th and 8th Amendments of the Bill of Rights. The 8th protects against “cruel and unusual punishment,” and the 5th declares that no one “shall be compelled to be a witness against himself.” Obama, like Bush before him, is willing to use tortured confessions to prosecute detainees, and Obama’s civil liberties axe is just as sharp as Bush’s.

On Torture Day, Obama’s White House will continue to be haunted by the ghosts of Bagram.

Obama to revive Bush’s military tribunals for Gitmo detainees

27 Jun

President Obama has never failed to disappoint since he took office barely four months ago. I can faintly remember hearing something about candidate Obama offering “change” from eight painful years of Bush; ladies fainted, Chris Matthews got chills, and the streets of San Francisco were flooded with cheering worshippers. But somewhere in Crawford, Texas, George W. Bush is smiling.

Our new President is doing everything he possibly can to perpetuate Bush’s follies, from expanding the wars in the Middle East with no end in sight, signing trillion dollar stimuluses, nationalizing industries, and eroding civil liberties (all things that Bush was hated for doing). So why not revive the Bush era military tribunals for Guantanamo Bay detainees, as Obama is now promising to do?

Though once a “critic” of these tribunals, Obama says his military tribunals will be nicer and change-ier:

“‘These reforms will begin to restore the commissions as a legitimate forum for prosecution, while bringing them in line with the rule of law,’ said Obama, who opposed the law that created the tribunals during the administration of his Republican predecessor, President George W. Bush.”

This decision has annoyed some civil liberties groups, but the Republicans couldn’t be happier. Senators Mitch McConnell and John McCain have both praised the move, and it sounds like Obama is now heeding Dick Cheney’s lizard-tongued rhetoric.

The right-wing commentators are also cheering this on over at NRO, comparing Nancy Pelosi and Barack Obama to Dick Cheney…in a good way, and praising Obama’s wartime torture photo “secrecy.”

Obama is doing quite well pleasing the Statists on both sides; the Left is supporting his escalation of the war in Afghanistan and his drone missile strikes in Pakistan, and the Right is cheering on his new “toughness” on national security, torture, and military prisons.

Here’s Thomas Sowell blogging at RealClearPolitics, getting giddy over torture in “Debate Over ‘Torture’ Lacks Seriousness”:

“What if it was your mother or your child who was tied up somewhere beside a ticking time bomb and you had captured a terrorist who knew where that was? Face it: What you would do to that terrorist to make him talk would make water-boarding look like a picnic.”

The debate on terrorism, torture, and tribunals is muddled in the midst of 24-esque, crazy hypothetical questions about ticking-time bombs, where we all have a minute before New York or Miami are blown to pieces unless we torture a detainee for information. Is this a realistic situation? Not in the least bit.

If the Muslims that we capture and extradite to the coast of Cuba were all guilty, wouldn’t a simple trial with presentations of evidence prove this? Well, nearly all of the people at Gitmo are completely innocent, guilty only of having Arab names and defending their homes, villages, wives, and children from American bombs.

Terrorism against the United States is not caused by hatred of our liberties (that fade with every passing day) or by “Islam-o-Fascism,” but by a hatred of our military presence in the Middle East. A 1953 CIA coup replacing Iran’s democratically elected leader with a thug, Reagan’s “peace-keeping” in Lebanon and bombing of Libya, the first Bush’s Iraq invasion that led to bases and troops in Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia, Clinton’s nearly daily bombing of Iraq, Bush’s Mesopotamian madness, and our blind support for brutal Israel policies; these are why we our hated in the Muslim world, and Obama’s bombs-away and tribunal policy is sure to further leave us more susceptible to retaliation.

War fever has sickened both political parties, liberals and conservatives, and nearly all major media networks. Their prescription is always more torture, more bombs, and more military spending.

When we will learn the dangerous and hubristic lessons of empire?

Obama’s “new thinking” in Afghanistan

27 Jun

Defense Secretary Gates is asking the Afghanistan Commander David McKiernan to step down, and recommending Army-Lieutenant Stanley McChrystal as his replacement to President Obama. McKieman had only been in charge for about a year, and this change signals the Obama Administrations’ supposed “new thinking” on the war in Afghanistan.

“Today we have a new policy set by our new president. We have a new strategy, a new mission, and a new ambassador,” Gates said at a press conference today. “I believe that new military leadership also is needed.”

President Obama’s “new thinking” in Afghanistan also includes sending more than 20,000 new troops into Afghanistan with the possibility of a decade-long occupation, drone missile strikes across the Pakistani border, and a possible invasion and occupation of Pakistan if the Taliban continues to gain ground and get closer and closer to Islamabad, the capital. And, of course, there is also Iraq (here’s Obama praising U.S. accomplishments in Iraq).

The President’s war ambitions dwarf the Bush Administration’s Iraq adventure in scope, intensity, and money (by 2010, the Afghan war costs will begin to surpass Iraq’s) while this war in “the graveyard of empires” approaches its eighth year.  This number is getting dangerously close to the nine years the Soviet Union spent trying to tame the Afghan countryside with helicopters, air strikes, and overwhelming force. The war drained their resources, the Soviets were defeated, and the Kremlin Empire crumbled to its knees.

But that wouldn’t happen to the mighty United States, would it? Our 2-trillion-dollar debt and counterfeit economy can’t last forever.

So where is the “anti-war” Left now that Obama is in control of the U.S. war machine? They are shamefully silent and have in fact already begin to defend his imperial chess-games, as antiwar.com’s Justin Raimondo explains:

“That’s where the pro-war progressive think-tanks come in: their role is to forge a new pro-war consensus, one that commits us to a long-range ‘nation-building’ strategy in Afghanistan and Pakistan. These are the Center for a New American Security, explicitly set up as home base for the ‘national security Democrats’ who make up the party’s hawkish faction; Brookings; and, last but not least, the Center for American Progress, which was an oasis of skepticism when Team Bush was ‘liberating’ Iraq, and a major critic of the occupation…Not only that, but they are moving to the front lines in a battle against Obama’s antiwar opponents…”

The liberals are defending Obama’s war plans in the same way the conservatives defended Bush’s policies, and critics are to be purged and silenced.

The war in Afghanistan, and the Obama Administration’s plan to attack terrorist “safe havens” and “training grounds” ignores the lessons of 9/11. The attacks on New York and the Pentagon were plotted in Germany, Malaysia and in Florida, right under the negligent nose of the FBI, the CIA, and the “anti-terror” forces created by President Clinton and later expanded by President Bush.

Increasing the war in Afghanistan will not stop terrorism; it will only increase the likelihood of another 9/11-esque retaliation. As more and more Afghan civilians become the victims of soulless and crushing air strikes on weddings and villages (the U.S. calls this “collateral damage”), it is difficult to see Obama’s escalation as anything but dangerously counterproductive.

I have heard some argue that we should be patient with our new President; give him some time, and see what happens. Time is not a luxury, however, since more time only increases American and Arab casualties and further drains our Treasury. Obama ran on a somewhat anti-war platform, but has fallen under the spell of imperial ambition, power, and corruption. The “peace” candidate is now leaving Afghanistan in pieces.

As SF Libertarian Examiner Justin Clarke has pointed out, nothing good can come from us staying in Afghanistan, and we should come home. I agree, and we should come home as soon as possible. That’s the kind of “new thinking” we need in Afghanistan.