Category Archives: Military

The gloomy conditions in Afghanistan

Democracy is said to be in decline around the world. According to a report by Freedom House, only 45% of the world’s countries are considered to be fully free and the percentage is trending downward. The volatile situation in Afghanistan is proof that a functioning democracy is a tough thing to create. The invasion by U.S. and NATO forces in December 2001 quickly drove the Taliban and their al-Qaida allies from power. After more than 15 years of nation building effort by NATO, the UN reported that almost 3,500 civilians were killed and 7,900 injured in the Afghan conflict during 2016. It was the highest number of civilian casualties since the UN began keeping records in 2009.

The American plan to replace Taliban rule with a democratically elected government ran into many problems. The flood of foreign cash that followed the demise of the Taliban regime in 2001 often undermined the new government or was wasted on uncoordinated projects. Well-meaning foreign aid agencies paid salaries 20 times higher than the Afghan civil service pay rate, many Afghan officials quit and went to work for the external agencies. As fighting the Taliban insurgency continues, NATO forces have dropped from a peak of 132,000 in 2011 to approximately 13,000 today. The U.S. and NATO mission in Afghanistan is estimated to have cost nearly $1 trillion between 2001 and 2014.

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Winds of War

I stole the title from a friend’s Facebook post. I doubt he’ll mind.

He and I had the identical reaction to Trump’s speech to CPAC on Friday, in which Trump declared that America is about to undergo the greatest military buildup in history. Military buildups have one and only one purpose: going to war. That’s especially true when the nation embarking on the buildup already has the largest and most advanced military in the world, with most of the world’s other large fighting forces aligned with its own.

Worse yet, Trump, who expressed puzzlement at America’s no first strike policy regarding nuclear weapons, has promised a buildup in nuclear weaponry as well.

The only real questions are who and when. Iran? China? Mexico?

These are, as the saying goes, “interesting times.”

And we’re living in them.

The lingering legacy of 1917

The world changing events brought on by World War I continued to unfold at a rapid pace in 1917. The United States declared war on Germany in April 1917, the first U.S. troops arrived in France in June. Mutiny became a problem that vexed the struggling French Army. In the Middle East, British forces captured Baghdad. Large battles were fought on the Western Front, including Arras, the Neville offensive, Messines Ridge, the third battle of Ypres. In the south, fighting raged in Northern Italy. The belligerents who found it so easy to glide into war in 1914, found themselves trapped in endless combat with high casualties, growing economic hardship and for some, the waning support of their populations.

In the east, Russia, a vast and backward country, was a participant in the Allied war effort. It was also the first of the belligerents to fracture apart under the terrible strains imposed by the war. In March 1917, the riots and strikes that began in Petrograd (St. Petersburg) toppled the government and resulted in the abdication of Tsar Nicolas II. A Provisional Government headed by Alexander Kerensky replaced the failed Tsarist regime. The Kerensky government decided to keep Russia active in the war, fighting on the side of the Allied powers.

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White House goes to war with John McCain over ‘failed’ Yemen raid

It appears the Trump White House is afraid that its botched handling of the Yemen raid could become the next Benghazi! meme — Al Bayda! — although this Tea-Publican Congress shows little interest in investigating anything that the Trump administration does.

Margaret Hartman reports, U.S. Military Sources Claim Trump Approved Yemen Strike Without Enough Preparation:

New questions have emerged about what went wrong in the U.S. military raid against Al Qaeda in Yemen last weekend. Chief Petty Officer William “Ryan” Owens, a Navy SEAL, was killed in the operation and three other U.S. service members were injured. Nawar Al-Awlaki, the 8-year-old daughter of American Al Qaeda leader Anwar Al-Awlaki, was also killed, and local reports say as many as 30 people died. The raid was the first operation approved by President Trump.

Earlier this week, a senior military official told NBC News that “almost everything went wrong” during the mission. The aim was to detain Yemeni tribal leaders working with Al Qaeda and gather phones and computers that could yield intelligence. But Navy SEALS found themselves in an intense 50-minute firefight, with Al Qaeda fighters using women and children as cover, and some of the women firing at the commandos.

Airstrikes were called in to take out the Al Qaeda fighters, and then two MV-22 Ospreys were sent in to extract the SEALs. One experienced a “hard landing,” injuring crew members, and the $75 million aircraft had to be destroyed by a precision-guided bomb to keep it from falling into enemy hands.

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‘Trump’s brain’, Stephen K. Bannon, elevated to National Security Council

Informed readers will recall that Karl Rove aka “turdblossom” was known as Bush’s Brain. Rove is credited with making “W” president. He has also been credited as the unidentified White House aide in Ron Suskind’s report in The New York Times Magazine, “Faith, Certainty and the Presidency of George W. Bush,” quoted as saying:

The aide said that guys like me were “in what we call the reality-based community,” which he defined as people who “believe that solutions emerge from your judicious study of discernible reality.” … “That’s not the way the world really works anymore,” he continued. “We’re an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you’re studying that reality—judiciously, as you will—we’ll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that’s how things will sort out. We’re history’s actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do.”

Screen Shot 2017-01-30 at 7.57.21 AMNow we have Stephen K. Bannon, a white nationalist racist who ran the alt-right web site Breitbart and the Trump campaign, who is now Trump’s chief political strategist in the White House. It is fair to characterize Bannon as “Trump’s Brain.”

Bannon is no doubt the original source for Trump’s “alternative facts,” something his web site has specializes in for years. This past week Bannon attempted to silence the critical media with a threat that the Media Should ‘Keep Its Mouth Shut’:

Chief White House strategist, Stephen K. Bannon, ratcheted up the attacks, arguing that news organizations had been “humiliated” by the election outcome and repeatedly describing the media as “the opposition party” of the current administration.

“The media should be embarrassed and humiliated and keep its mouth shut and just listen for a while,” Mr. Bannon said in an interview on Wednesday.

“I want you to quote this,” Mr. Bannon added. “The media here is the opposition party. They don’t understand this country. They still do not understand why Donald Trump is the president of the United States.”

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The rise of the Islamic State in Iraq

Mosul is located in northern Iraq and is one of Iraq’s larger cities. In June 2014, Iraqi and American officials were stunned when a small force belonging mostly to the Islamic State in Iraq and al-Sham (ISIS) quickly overran large chunks ofIraq Map Iraqi territory and captured the city. The Iraqi security forces, trained and supplied by the United States at great expense, simply dissolved in the face of the ISIS attack. During the military fiasco, an estimated 25,000 to 30,000 Iraqi troops fled the area. The swift capture of the city by ISIS shook the unstable central government in Baghdad to its very core and raised serious questions regarding the worth of the American military aid program. The sporadic urban fighting now underway to liberate the city from ISIS control is expected to continue until sometime in April.

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