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

Sunday, May 9, 2010

News of the Day for Sunday, May 9, 2010

Turkish soldiers patrol on a road near the Turkey-Iraq border in the mainly Kurdish southeastern province of Sirnak, 2008. The Turkish air force has struck Kurdish rebel hideouts in neighbouring northern Iraq after an attack inside Turkey left two soldiers dead, the military said. (AFP/File/Mustafa Ozer) This situation is little talked about in the U.S. but continues to fester and adds to the dangerous mix of tensions in the area. -- C

Reported Security Incidents


Bomb in Mansoor injures 6, damages nearby shops.


Power line knocked out by bomb.


Gunmen kill a man and escape. No motive is suggested.

al-Jazira area, Salah al-Din Province

Police find 4 decomposed bodies, shot some time ago.

Southeast Turkey, near the border with Iraqi Kurdistan

Two Turkish soldiers killed in separate IED attacks, blamed on the Kurdish militant group PKK. This continues a spate of clashes in the border region that began on Friday.

Other News of the Day

Electoral Commission sends vote results from 17 provinces to the Supreme Court for ratification, but the recount continues in Baghdad. Although this would otherwise settle results for 245 of the 325 seats in Parliament, 9 candidates are awaiting final ruling on their eligibility having been presumptively disqualified for alleged links to the Baathist party.

Jalal Talabani is in Cairo for meetings with Egyptian president Hosni Mubarak, and representatives of the Arab League.

KBR gets $568 million in a no-bid contract to provide military support services in Iraq, even as the Justice Department announces a lawsuit against the company for taking kickbacks from subcontractors. Congress has been insisting that the Pentagon put these contracts out to bid but Gen. Odierno felt it would be "too disruptive."

U.S. funded program to preserve ruins of Babylon is mired in a dispute among Iraqis over priorities. Excerpt:

Local officials want swift work done to restore the crumbling ruins and start building restaurants and gift shops to draw in tourists, while antiquities officials in Baghdad favor a more painstaking approach to avoid the gaudy restoration mistakes of the past.

The ruins of the millennia-old city, famed for its Hanging Gardens and the Tower of Babel, have suffered heavily over the past decades. Deep in Iraq's verdant south, the cluster of excavated temples and palaces were mostly rebuilt by former ruler Saddam Hussein in the 1980s, using modern yellow brick to erect towering structures that marred the fragile remains of the original mud brick ruins. After Saddam's fall in 2003, a U.S. military base on the site did further damage.

The site is filled with overgrown hillocks hiding the estimated 95 percent of the city that remains unexcavated -- which archaeologists hope could eventually be uncovered.

But for that to happen, they argue, the slow and meticulous work needs to be done to train Iraqis in conservation and draw up a preservation plan that can be used to drum up international funds and get the site UNESCO World Heritage status.

Afghanistan Update

DPA rounds up several security incidents. Taliban militants planning to attack a U.S. base in Herat province encounter a local "community protection force," behead four of them. (This is essentially an effort to replicate the Sahwa concept from Iraq, paying locals to side with the government.) Afghan and U.S. forces in the area later kill 10 Taliban, some wearing suicide vests, according to an Afghan army commander. Separately, 3 Afghan soldiers killed Saturday in Helmand, and in separately operations in Paktia and Paktika, coalition forces kill 6 alleged Taliban.

U.S. drone strike destroys a house in Inzarkas, North Waziristan. Ten bodies are pulled from the rubble, additional people are injured, according to an unnamed "intelligence official." A second anonymous official says 4 of the dead were non-combatants.

Taliban threaten a renewed offensive timed to coincide with Karzai's trip to Washington.

Meanwhile, Karzai can expect a cool reception, as his relationship with his U.S. benefactors is under severe strain. (I must say he is playing an interesting game since he is dependent on the U.S. military for every breath he takes, and they just might decide it's time for him to stop emitting C02. -- C)

Nevertheless president Obama has asked his aides to refrain from excessive public criticism of Karzai.

Afghanistan bars 2 private security firms from operating on the highway south of Kabul, after two incidents in which civilians were killed.

Widespread flooding in recent weeks has killed more than 80 Afghans and destroyed thousands of homes.

Quote of the Day

Two days after 9/11, when the president addressed Congress and asked rhetorically, “Why do they hate us?” my response was: “The people immediately around you are the ones who could tell you with precision why. That is, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Colin Powell, Richard Armitage”—these are the people who ran the largest clandestine operation we ever carried out, in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

“They could explain to you, in detail, why.” Once the Soviet Union had been expelled in 1989 from Afghanistan and we simply walked away from it, the people we had recruited, trained, and equipped with things like Stinger missiles—the first time the Stinger was ever used against a Soviet gunship was in Afghanistan. Once we had achieved our purposes, we just walked away, and these highly armed young men felt, “We’ve been used. We were cannon fodder in a little exercise in the Cold War, in a bipolar competition between the Soviet Union and the United States.” Then we compounded that with further mistakes like placing infidel troops (our troops) in Saudi Arabia after 1991, which was insulting to any number of Saudi Arabians, who believe that they are responsible for the most sacred sites in Islam: Mecca and Medina. Osama bin Laden is so typical of the kinds of figures in our history, like Manuel Noriega or Saddam Hussein, who were close allies of ours at one time. We know Saddam at one time had weapons of mass destruction because we have the receipts!

Chalmers Johnson


thewiz said...

Interesting "Quote of the Day" While the author has many important issues that could be discussed such as how we are over extended and need to consolidate bases, you selected the one that is most in error.

First off; the notion that we prematurely abandoned Afghanistan. We helped them free themselves of the Soviet invaders and then let them decide on their own governance, just like everyone here screams and yells we should do in Iraq and Afghanistan.

An immediate pullout from both countries now would be the same thing that we are criticized for having done 25 yrs ago, except the bloodbath would be much worse. So make up your minds, oh wise ones, should we stay or should we go?

Then there is the issue of putting our troops in Saudi Arabia. Saddam had just taken over Kuwait in just a few days and had troops massed along the SA border. He could have easily overwhelmed the weak SA ground forces. Again, if we did nothing we would be criticized for allowing Saddam to do as he pleases. And since we decided to help defend SA from Saddam, we are attacked for it from both OBL and from within the US fifth column. Never miss an opportunity to criticize the US.

Then the quote again strays from reality with the old "We armed Saddam" canard when all his tanks, planes, artillery, radars, ships, and more were all supplied by the Soviet Union or its Cold War surrogates. The Stockholm Peace Project, which tracks weapon sales worldwide, states that Saddam got only 2% of his weapons from the US. The only aid he received from the US was during the Iran/Iraq War. If we had not supported him and allowed Iran to win, I'm sure all of you expert critics would be whining as to how we let Iran win.

Must be easy to sit back and, no matter what course of action was chosen, say that it was wrong. If we sit back and let the world go to hell in a handbasket, its all the evil US' fault. If we intervene to minimize the mayhem, we are criticized for the collateral damage that results.

Its a tough and dangerous world. The choices offered are not easy with definitive outcomes. Criticize if you want. But at least have the decency of consistency and accuracy.

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Anonymous said...

I have always consistently stated that these wars are morally wrong and unproductive in achieving the stated goals.

Horrible and vile mis-government and cruelty.

Alldue to blind idiots like the Wiz, who mistake violence for strength.

Want to quickly win the "war on terror"?

Then studious ignore ALL the 'terrorists", no matter how they try to provoke you. (but silently, behind the scenes....).

But the 'war on terror"is a publicity exercise, to keep the $$$ flowing to the Killer Eliteof the US Armed Forces...and the US citizen ry MUST give up ALL of their freedoms, as well: that is what the persuasion is aimed towards.

This is a war of the US government upon the US citizenry.
You Americans are just too close to the action to see this clearly.

thewiz said...

Wow, just ignore them. That worked really well in A'stan, didn't it. The poor people there suffered under the Taliban for years and we are to just ignore it. The Muslims of Bosnia and Herzegovina are glad we didn't ignore the "ethnic cleansing" there. And the people of Somalia were being systemically starved to death so that we couldn't ignore it.

No, when we try to stay out of world events, the media will constantly show scenes of great suffering and death until we intervene. . . .and then greatly castigate the US for "imperialism" and "bullying" the world.

That's the way it is with the fifth column, they will attack the US no matter what we do.

What we need to do is do what we need to do and ignore they nattering nabobs of negativity that surround us.

Anonymous said...

If ya had ignored Afghanistan in 1978-1979....

The sunk cost fallacy dictating further war?

Anonymous said...

And if it ain't yer business, don't get involved.

Bring the troops home.

Anonymous said...

And do not dictate how "we" would respond to what the "media" (not Fox news?) "will do"...

You ain't us, wiz.

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