The present-day U.S. military qualifies by any measure as highly professional, much more so than its Cold War predecessor. Yet the purpose of today’s professionals is not to preserve peace but to fight unending wars in distant places. Intoxicated by a post-Cold War belief in its own omnipotence, the United States allowed itself to be drawn into a long series of armed conflicts, almost all of them yielding unintended consequences and imposing greater than anticipated costs. Since the end of the Cold War, U.S. forces have destroyed many targets and killed many people. Only rarely, however, have they succeeded in accomplishing their assigned political purposes. . . . [F]rom our present vantage point, it becomes apparent that the “Revolution of ‘89” did not initiate a new era of history. At most, the events of that year fostered various unhelpful illusions that impeded our capacity to recognize and respond to the forces of change that actually matter.

Andrew Bacevich


Wednesday, January 8, 2020

News of the Day for Wednesday, January 8, 2020

In what appears to have been essentially a symbolic action, Iran fires some dozen ballistic missiles from its own territory toward bases in Iraq where U.S. troops are housed.

There were no reported casualties, and these weapons are sufficiently accurate that it is likely the avoidance of casualties was intentional.  Iraqi acting PM Abdul-Mahdi says he received advance notice of the action. Furthermore, as the Iranians no doubt anticipated, Abdul-Mahdi tipped off the U.S. to the expected attack.

Nevertheless the tension has prompted the Philippines to evacuate its citizens from Iraq and Iran, Poland has evacuated its ambassador and Slovenia is relocating its forces to an undisclosed safer location. Many airlines are re-routing flights from the region, including these additional carriers.

The FAA has barred all U.S. civilian flights over the entire region.

India and Pakistan advise their citizens not to travel to Iraq.

Amid anxiety  among the Gulf states, both Kuwait and Qatar deny that the drone that killed Qassem Suleimani originated from their territory. However, news reports from Iraq say it did originate in Kuwait.

Kurdish leaders call for continued support from the U.S.-led coalition, as Kurdish MPs boycotted the vote calling on U.S. forces to leave Iraq.

William Saletan runs down U.S. Secretary of State Pompeo's lies about the killing of Soleimani. They are multifarious and preposterous.

In a bizarre incident, the U.S. commander in Iraq, Marine Brigadier General William H. Seely III, sent a letter to Abdul-Mahdi, in both English and Arabic, saying "Sir, in due deference to the sovereignty of the Republic of Iraq, and as requested by the Iraqi Parliament and the Prime Minister, CJTF-OIR will be repositioning forces over the course of the coming days and weeks to prepare for onward movement. We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.”However, after first saying that the letter was a fake perpetrated by Iranian intelligence, the Pentagon said it was a "mistake." Okay, these people know what they're doing.

In what so far appears to be a bizarre, tragic coincidence, a Ukraine International Airlines flight crashed shortly after take-off from Tehran, killing all aboard. The Ukrainian embassy says the cause was engine failure, although the plane was a fairly new Boeing 737 which had recently undergone scheduled maintenance. The conflict between Iran and the U.S. does hamper the investigation, as Iran will not cooperate with Boeing.

In Afghanistan, two Afghan military died in a helicopter crash in Farah. Officials attribute the crash to mechanical failure.

A UK official apologizes for "unacceptable" actions by British forces in Afghanistan following an investigation by the Sunday Times and BBC. The accusations include a cover-up of the murder of four civilians by a British soldier.

In 2019, more than 12,500 Afghans were killed in and 9,800 injured in the conflict. This report breaks casualties down by mechanism of violence and location.





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