Why was I reminded of Vietnam on Saturday when Gen. Martin Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, visited Iraq to “get a firsthand look at the situation in Iraq, receive briefings, and get better sense of how the campaign is progressing” against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS or ISIL?
For years as the Vietnam quagmire deepened, U.S. political and military leaders flew off to Vietnam and were treated to a snow job by Gen. William Westmoreland, the commander there. Many would come back glowing about how the war was “progressing.”
Dempsey might have been better served if someone had shown him Patrick Cockburn’s article in the Independent entitled “War with Isis: Islamic militants have an army of 200,000, claims senior Kurdish leader.”
Fuad Hussein, the chief of staff of Kurdish President Massoud Barzani, told Cockburn that “I am talking about hundreds of thousands of fighters because they are able to mobilize Arab young men in the territory they have taken.”
Hussein estimated that Isis rules about one-third of Iraq and one-third of Syria with a population from 10 million to 12 million over an area of 250,000 square kilometers, roughly the size Great Britain, giving the jihadists a large pool of potential fighters to recruit.
The US war against ISIS couldn’t be going much worse. ISIS continues to gain in Iraq, despite soaring US ground deployments into the nation, and the Syria air war has backfired so bad its wiped out most of the US allies, and brought al-Qaeda, once an ISIS rival, into a partnership with them.
The administration has tried alliances, they’ve tried escalations, they’re tried everything. Now, they’ve fallen back to name-calling, with Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey mocking ISIS as a “bunch of midgets.”
Dempsey claimed the war was starting to turn in America’s favor, despite all indications to the contrary, though he conceded that the war is still going to take “several years.”
Secretary of State John Kerry was also eager to give the appearance of confidence, however unwarranted, in his own comments, insisting he is “not intimidated” by ISIS and that the US will continue to fight them irrespective of the execution of American hostages.
The desperation to portray ISIS as an unworthy opponent is palpable, and makes some sense in that it would keep people from watching the day-to-day operations of the war too closely. It also gives future officials the opportunity to argue for escalation on the grounds that they “underestimated” the ISIS threat, a card President Obama has already played in his own escalations. Either way, the feigned confidence is bizarre with the war going so badly on so many fronts.
How the U.S. Department of Justice Makes Murder Respectable, Kills the Innocent and Jails their Defenders
Political language can be used, George Orwell said in 1946, “to make lies sound truthful and murder respectable, and to give an appearance of solidity to pure wind.” In order to justify its global assassination program, the Obama administration has had to stretch words beyond their natural breaking points. For instance, any male 14 years or older found dead in a drone strike zone is a “combatant” unless there is explicit intelligence posthumously proving him innocent. We are also informed that the constitutional guarantee of “due process” does not imply that the government must precede an execution with a trial. I think the one word most degraded and twisted these days, to the goriest ends, is the word “imminent.”
Just what constitutes an “imminent” threat? Our government has long taken bold advantage of the American public’s willingness to support lavish spending on armaments and to accept civilian casualties in military adventures abroad and depletion of domestic programs at home, when told these are necessary responses to deflect precisely such threats. The government has vastly expanded the meaning of the word “imminent.” This new definition is crucial to the US drone program, designed for projecting lethal force throughout the world. It provides a legal and moral pretext for the annihilation of people far away who pose no real threat to us at all.
The use of armed remotely controlled drones as the United States’ favored weapon in its “war on terror” is increasing exponentially in recent years, raising many disturbing questions. Wielding 500 pound bombs and Hellfire missiles, Predator and Reaper drones are not the precise and surgical instruments of war so effusively praised by President Obama for “narrowly targeting our action against those who want to kill us and not the people they hide among.” It is widely acknowledged that the majority of those killed in drone attacks are unintended, collateral victims. The deaths of the drones’ intended targets and how they are chosen should be no less troubling.
President Obama has ordered 1500 more troops to Iraq, doubling down on the U.S. presence already there. And while the question of the constitutionality of this move in the absence of a war declaration is an important one, Ron Paul reminds us that the question of the morality of the war should be confronted even before that.
This week on the Podcast Ron Paul and Charles Goyette question whether the American people would support endless wars of empire if they had any idea just how far reaching the U.S. global military presence is or if they understood the confusion and contradictions implicit in U.S. foreign policy.
It shows the young boy, about 8 years old, weave his way down a dusty street, dodging bullets to reach a terrified girl cowering behind a car. The boy even plays dead at one point to deceive the sharpshooters, who miss hitting both children as they appear to safely run off.
The video went viral and was the lead story on Fox News. Everyone was talking about it. I had some doubts about it, but I really wanted it to be real. It was so exciting and heartwarming.
Were they comfortable making a film that potentially deceived millions of people? “I was not uncomfortable,” Klevberg said. “By publishing a clip that could appear to be authentic we hoped to take advantage of a tool that’s often used in war; make a video that claims to be real. We wanted to see if the film would get attention and spur debate, first and foremost about children and war. We also wanted to see how the media would respond to such a video.”
Since being uploaded to YouTube on Monday the video has been watched more than five million times and inspired thousands of comments. There has been a big debate about whether it is genuine. How those viewers will react to learning that it’s a work of fiction remains to be seen. “We are really happy with the reaction,” Klevberg said. “It created a debate.”