foreverwar

I was at an anti-war march this weekend for the eleventh anniversary of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan, and at the rally afterwards a comrade and I stood on a curb near the rallying spot and held up signs to passing cars. One of the signs said “DRONES KILL KIDS”, and a man driving by shouted out his window, “Drones kill bad guys!

god bless america

Obama on the military and foreign policy
  • Obama’s State Department secretly directed its diplomats to spy on the United Nations, directing them to uncover computer passwords, credit card numbers, and biometric data. Similar directives ordered embassy staff in oil-rich African countries to conduct military surveillance and embassy staff in the Middle East to seek out travel plans of leaders in the Palestinian Authority. (Guardian 11/28/10)
  • Under the Obama administration, use of unmanned drones in military raids has severely increased—of the 309 known strikes, all but 52 took place after Obama took office. The exact number of people killed is not known (publicly at least), but the Bureau of Investigative Journalism places estimates between 2,373 and 2,997; at least 391 and possibly as many as 780 were civilians, including 175 children. These figures are based largely on media reports; in most cases, the actual identities of the victims are unknown, and as such there is the real possibility that a large number of “alleged militants” are actually civilians. (BIJ 8/10/11) The bulk of drone attacks have been in Pakistan, but the U.S. has also used the weapons in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, and Somalia. (Independent 7/1/11) A State Department legal adviser said it was “the considered view of this administration” that American drone attacks abroad constitute “self-defense”. (Wired 3/26/10)
  • In September, Muslim cleric Anwar al-Awlaki, an American citizen, was killed in a targeted assassination on Barack Obama’s explicit orders due to alleged al-Qaeda ties. (NYT 10/1/11) Obama’s Justice Department argued in court, after Awlaki was placed on the list but long before he was killed, that the President has the authority to order the assassination of American citizens deemed a threat without a trial or even charges, and that this authority is not subject to judicial review. (ACLU 11/8/10)
  • After the scheduled military pullout from Iraq at the end of the year, the State Department will continue to employ 5,000 private security contractors in the country. (State Dept)
  • During the “limited humanitarian intervention” (Yahoo 3/23/11) in Libya, the U.S. dropped dozens of bombs on the nation, even after the rebels succeeded in taking the capital. (Wired 10/20/11) American-backed anti-Gaddafi forces have been implicated in numerous human rights abuses, including indiscriminate arrests of sub-Saharan African nationals, torture and sexual assault of detainees (Amnesty International 10/2011), and a mass execution of Gadaffi loyalists at a hotel in Sirte (Human Rights Watch 10/23/11); there are reports that black Libyans are being lynched by rebel forces. (Liberation 8/30/11) The National Transitional Council’s interim leader announced a desire to return to traditional law and repeal the nation’s divorce laws. (Radio Netherlands 10/24/11)
  • Obama has resumed the war in Somalia. In addition to the aforementioned drone strikes, the U.S. is giving millions of dollars to Somali troops described by reporters as “ineffective”. The U.S. is also giving support to Ugandan, Kenyan, and Ethiopian military troops to fight in Somalia. (Washington Post 11/24/11)
  • In 2009, the United States used a cluster bomb against an alleged al-Qaeda training camp; the attack is estimated to have killed 41 civilians. (Amnesty International 6/4/10) The United States is one of few industrialized nations not to have signed the Convention on Cluster Munitions. (CCM) The Obama administration has continued Bush’s refusal to sign the Mine Ban Treaty. (AP via MSNBC 11/24/09)
  • The Obama administration shipped arms to Saudi Arabia to quell a rebellion in North Yemen, while publicly claiming to be uninvolved. (Salon 12/9/10) When larger masses of Yemenis began protesting the long-standing rule of President Ali Abdullah Saleh, the Obama administration supported Saleh; after it became clear that the movement against Saleh was too broad, the White House became involved in the negotiations to remove Saleh peacefully (Reuters 4/4/11), all while continuing its drone war against alleged Yemeni terrorists. (NYT 6/9/11) When Saleh finally stepped down, Obama praised the transfer of power as “a new beginning” (White House 11/23/11), despite continued protests in the country against the immunity from prosecution Saleh received in the power transfer agreement. (Guardian 11/23/11)
  • The Obama administration revived a Rumsfeld plan to equip ICBMs with conventional warheads—a plan that even the Bush administration eventually scrapped because it was too dangerous. (NYTWired, 4/23/10)
  • In 2010, the State Department hired Xe services, better known as Blackwater, to provide security at new U.S. consulates in Afghanistan. (Washington Post 6/21/10) Nearly simultaneously, Xe was given a contract to provide security at CIA bases in Afghanistan and other undisclosed countries. (Washington Post 6/23/10)
  • The Department of Defense sold $60 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia in 2010, including 84 F-15s, 190 helicopters, and massive amounts of bombs and missiles. (Washington Times 11/19/10)
  • The United States has expanded its clandestine presence in Middle East and nearby countries, friend and foe, such as Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Somalia. This new order makes it clear that such operations are intended to be long-term. (NYT 5/24/10)
  • The Obama administration worked out an agreement with Afghanistan that would keep U.S. troops in the country until 2024. (Telegraph 8/19/11)
  • According to a CIA lawyer involved in the Bush-Obama transition, the incoming administration sought to do away with the torture program but keep virtually every other aspect of Bush’s CIA programs. (Frontline via Raw Story 9/1/11)
Happy End To The Eternal Iraq War That Is Not Really Ending

Oh, Barack Obama announced the war in Iraq is finally over, apparently? Sure! We needed some good news after reading that today was actually the End of the World also, again, also. But mysteriously, it doesn’t feel quite as good as the last 493 times an American president has declared the end of the Iraq War, perhaps because by now we all vaguely sense that it means some miraculously Even Worse trillion-dollar mass goatherder murder project is in the offing. “Mission Accomplished” in 2003? We got a troop surge in 2007. Obama’s nearly identical announcement in 2009 that all the troops were scheduled to start coming home from Iraq? Yeah, he’ll trade you another surge, in Afghanistan. So what will it be this time? We may not even have to wait very long to find out!? 

Because it’s not like the U.S. was going to quit pissing away hundreds of billions of dollars on mind-boggling fraudulent defense contracts in its forever War on Terror, Devil forbid. Saving money is what education reform is for. Instead of combat troops, whom everybody loves, Barack Obama is just using a crafty gimmick to replace them with an army of the U.S.’s other favorite war export, “mercenaries,” whom everybody hates. It’s a U.S. presidential political win-win, although of course it’s still a dangerous, crappy situation for Iraqis.

From Spencer Ackerman’s excellent report at the Danger Room:

But the fact is America’s military efforts in Iraq aren’t coming to an end. They are instead entering a new phase. On January 1, 2012, the State Department will command a hired army of about 5,500 security contractors, all to protect the largest U.S. diplomatic presence anywhere overseas.

The State Department’s Bureau of Diplomatic Security does not have a promising record when it comes to managing its mercenaries. The 2007 Nisour Square shootings by State’s security contractors, in which 17 Iraqi civilians were killed, marked one of the low points of the war. Now, State will be commanding a much larger security presence, the equivalent of a heavy combat brigade. In July, Danger Room exclusively reported that the Department blocked the Congressionally-appointed watchdog for Iraq from acquiring basic information about contractor security operations, such as the contractors’ rules of engagement.

That means no one outside the State Department knows how its contractors will behave as they ferry over 10,000 U.S. State Department employees throughout Iraq — which, in case anyone has forgotten, is still a war zone. Since Iraq wouldn’t grant legal immunity to U.S. troops, it is unlikely to grant it to U.S. contractors, particularly in the heat and anger of an accident resulting in the loss of Iraqi life.

It’s a situation with the potential for diplomatic disaster. And it’s being managed by an organization with no experience running the tight command structure that makes armies cohesive and effective.

“Potential” is probably putting it kindly. We would go with “absolute certainty.” [Wired/PBS/The Nation]

Disney 30 Day Challenge - Day 1


Disney 30 Day Challenge - Day 1 by gymnastics-ariana featuring bridal shoes ❤ liked on Polyvore
Kai aakmann short sleeve shirt, $91 / Red skirt / Restricted bridal shoes / Palm Beach Jewelry green earrings / Red necklace / Nars cosmetic, $34 / Ilia lips makeup / Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Enchanted Rose Art Print by Foreverwars