Category Archives: War

Obama will never end the War on Terror

Obama will never end the War on Terror

“What began as one horrific attack 13 years ago and a simple, 60-word Authorization for the Use of Military Force three days later has morphed all but unnoticed into a war with no name or parameters—against an enemy that the government will no longer even officially identify, on battlefields that didn’t exist when the measure hurriedly passed Congress.

And as the Yemen strike suggests, the war hardly appears to be winding down. Nor do U.S. forces seem to be getting much better at avoiding “collateral damage.” The grave but very real danger is that this strangest of wars will never end, certainly not before the expiration of Obama’s second term. And his successors may be left with nearly the entire unresolved mess: an open-ended war authorization and inchoate rules for drone and special operations, the promised-but-never-carried-through closing of Guantánamo Bay, and a National Security Agency that’s still not sure whom or what it can spy on.”

 
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The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program

The NSA’s secret role in the U.S. assassination program

“In one tactic, the NSA ‘geolocates’ the SIM card or handset of a suspected terrorist’s mobile phone, enabling the CIA and U.S. military to conduct night raids and drone strikes to kill or capture the individual in possession of the device.

The former JSOC drone operator is adamant that the technology has been responsible for taking out terrorists and networks of people facilitating improvised explosive device attacks against U.S. forces in Afghanistan. But he also states that innocent people have ‘absolutely’ been killed as a result of the NSA’s increasing reliance on the surveillance tactic.”

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To salvage what we can from Afghanistan, our leaders must admit that the war has failed

To salvage what we can from Afghanistan, our leaders must admit that the war has failed

“As America ploughs through its 13th year of war in Afghanistan and negotiates with Kabul to keeps troops there for another ten years, we must take a sober look at the military and diplomatic actions that have thus far characterized our involvement. We must ask what we have accomplished after more than a decade of fighting, whether our goals have been met and our mission has been a success. It is time to remove the taboo against telling the hard truth and concede what a dispassionate analysis demands: the war in Afghanistan has been lost.”

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The future of war: inside UK drone command

The future of war: inside UK drone command

“The UK’s use of drones is currently much more limited than in the United States. All of the UK’s drones are operated by the armed forces, and there is at the moment no British equivalent of the CIA’s drone programme which, according to the rights group Reprieve, has killed more than 4,700 people in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. These deaths, says Reprieve, amount to summary execution without trial.

Still, Reprieve says the UK shouldn’t be let off the hook. It’s a key ally of the US, and until recently the UK’s Reaper drone operations were controlled from Creech Airforce Base in Nevada. Roughly half of them still are. The close symbiosis between the two countries’ drone know-how sets off alarm bells for those who want more transparency and accountability on the technology’s use. “

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Big money behind war: the military industrial complex

Big money behind war: the military industrial complex

“The new military-industrial complex is fuelled by a conveniently ambiguous and unseen enemy: the terrorist. Former President George W Bush and his aides insisted on calling counter-terrorism efforts a ‘war’. This concerted effort by leaders like former Vice President Dick Cheney (himself the former CEO of defence-contractor Halliburton) was not some empty rhetorical exercise. Not only would a war maximise the inherent powers of the president, but it would maximise the budgets for military and homeland agencies.”

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I worked on the U.S. Drone Program–here’s what really happens

I worked on the U.S. Drone Program–here’s what really happens

“What the public needs to understand is that the video provided by a drone is not usually clear enough to detect someone carrying a weapon, even on a crystal-clear day with limited cloud and perfect light. This makes it incredibly difficult for the best analysts to identify if someone has weapons for sure. One example comes to mind: ‘The feed is so pixelated, what if it’s a shovel, and not a weapon?’ I felt this confusion constantly, as did my fellow UAV analysts. We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.”

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Dirty wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s new film exposes hidden truths of covert U.S. warfare

Dirty wars: Jeremy Scahill and Rick Rowley’s new film exposes hidden truths of covert U.S. warfare

“If you look at the use of the state secrets privilege; if you look at the way the Obama administration has expanded the drone wars; has empowered special operations forces, including from JSOC, the Joint Special Operations Command, to operate in countries where the United States is not at war; if you look at the way in which the Obama administration has essentially boxed Congress out of any effective oversight role of the covert aspects of U.S. foreign policy, what we really have is a president who has normalized, for many, many liberals in the United States, the policies that they once opposed under the Bush administration. And, you know, this really has been a war presidency.”

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Hagel: Afghan Security Deal Will Be Signed Before End of the Year

World

Afghanistan’s Defense Minister insists a security deal with the United States will be signed before the end-of-year deadline, according to  U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.

Hagel’s unannounced trip — to thank troops for their service — comes in the wake of an impasse between Afghan President Hamid Karzai and U.S. and foreign allies over a security deal that would allow some U.S. troops to remain to train government military, the Associated Press reports.

Karzai has refused to sign the agreement after the Loya Jirga, a council of leaders and tribal elders, approved the deal last month and urged him to sign it by the end of December. He wants his successor, who will be voted into office in April, to sign the deal, and said he won’t sign a deal that allows military forces to raid Afghan homes.

U.S. and NATO troops will leave Afghanistan at the end of 2014…

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The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

The empathy gap: from the Iraq war to drone warfare

“What is striking to me about the drone debate and the consideration of civilian casualties in Iraq is the pattern of attention. The infamous line of General Tommie Franks, “we don’t do body counts” (regarding, in that instance, Afghanistan, but equally applicable to Iraq), signaled a stubborn resistance on the part of the military to provide an account of the human cost of the war. The U.S. government was opaque, not only with regard to individual incidents, like the Haditha massacre, but about the overall picture of human insecurity in Iraq. When violence against civilians was discussed, it was typically attributed to Iraqis themselves, a ‘blaming-the-victim’ convenience. No statistical account was pursued by the government. The same has been true of drones, in which the program remains unacknowledged or at least not discussed officially, civilian ‘collateral damage’ denied, and an implicit attribution of blame to the ‘terrorists’ being targeted.”

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