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

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Update for Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Matthieu Aikins, in the NYT, reports evidence that Afghan troops manipulated U.S. forces into the attack on the Kunduz hospital. This speculation has long hung over the incident, and is reinforced by the insistence of Afghan military spokespeople in the ensuing weeks that the attack was justified. Obviously the U.S. doesn't want to admit this publicly because it does cast the alliance in a bad light.

IS bombing campaign in Shiite areas of Baghdad continues, with another 70 or so dead. (Reported casualty totals, as always, vary somewhat among sources.)

Amnesty International condemns the attacks, which is hardly surprising. However, I note it here because it is true that the IS bombings intentionally target civilians, and have no military purpose other than undermining the Iraqi government.

Antagonism between Sadrists and the Iraqi government nearly resulted in violence last month. The political crisis remains unresolved.

Glenn Greenwald's Intercept is expanding public access to the Snowden files. Much of the newly released material concerns the U.S. occupation of Iraq, as discussed here on Gawker.