Last week’s U.S. drone strike in southern Somalia killed al Shabaab leaders Ismail Jabhad and Ismail Dhere. That’s according to both Somali intelligence and Kenyan officials, who offered incomplete and conflicting details on what appeared to be a larger strike against al Shabaab fighters near Bardere, along with a second US drone strike on al Shabaab in northern Kenya.

The one thing they were sure about – despite the secretive nature of US military operations in Somalia – is that a US drone carried out the strike in Somalia for at least the third time this year, one of dozens of US drone strikes on Somalia conservatively dating back to 2011. As US intervention continues to evolve and expand in the Horn of Africa, many of these missions have been confirmed in recent years by US military and intelligence officials, and by their diplomatic counterparts who are increasingly willing to concede there are American boots on the ground. As a token of the importance the US ascribes to tackling terrorism in Africa, President Obama will visit Kenya and Ethiopia later in July.

What is becoming less clear is how effective any US efforts are in securing a stable Somalia.

The latest strike comes just two weeks after a Foreign Policy magazine investigation revealed a US base in the southern Somalian port of Kismayo, as well as in Baledogle, operated by JSOC special operations personnel in support of the Somali military and African Union forces. Prior to the FP report, US drone strikes in Somalia were said to originate in neighboring Djibouti, one of several bases in Africa with a strategic eye on Somalia, including Ethiopia and the Seychelles.

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From GritTV:

This week’s episode from GritTV focuses on modern warfare and US imperialism. Is drone warfare here to stay? It’s one of the few things Republicans and Democrats agree on. Andrew Cockburn has been a rare critical voice on the subject. He is the Washington editor of Harper’s magazine and the author of several nonfiction books on war and international politics. His new book is Kill Chain: The Rise of High-Tech Assassins. And later in the show, an excerpt from a new film about a young man held in the US prison at Guantanamo, Fahd Ghazy.

Listen to the debate.

At this summer’s Freedom Fest, our Director of Operations, Angela Keaton, debated historian and archaeologist Ian Morris on his recent book War! What Is It Good For?: Conflict and the Progress of Civilization from Primates to Robots.

Morris’ general thesis is that over human history war has created larger more organized governments which made for a more peaceful society. Keaton disagrees. Antiwar.com columnist Dan Sanchez weighs in with pre-debate commentary at No, War is not the Health of Peace and Prosperity.

Listen to the debate.

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Now that Iran and P5+1 – the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council plus Germany – have reached a comprehensive long term agreement for limiting Iran’s nuclear program and putting it under strict inspection by the International Atomic Energy Agency, the opponents of the agreement, and in particular Israel and its supporters and lobby in the United State, have intensified their efforts to derail the agreement and force the Congress to reject it. In particular, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cohorts have been spreading lies, exaggerations, and half-truths about Iran in order to demonize it and make it impossible for those who are sitting on the fence to support the nuclear agreement. How much of Netanyahu’s claims are true? Let us examine some of them.

Destruction of Israel

In his joint press conference with British Foreign Secretary Phillip Hammond on 16 July 2015, Netanyahu claimed that he is astounded by the fact that the agreement with Iran did not address Iran’s wish for Israel’s destruction.

In his press conference of 15 July 2015 President Obama said, “Israel has legitimate concerns about its security relative to Iran. You have a large country with a significant military that has proclaimed that Israel shouldn’t exist.”

The rhetoric about destruction of Israel is unwise and inhumane. But, claiming that the Islamic Republic of Iran wishes physical destruction of Israel is sheer lie. It is not a lie because Iran does not have the military power to destroy Israel, as the United States and Israel have thousands of nuclear warheads to destroy Iran several time over. It is a lie because Netanyahu and others have distorted the unwise rhetoric about Israel’s existence.

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Once again reflecting the huge disconnect between Israel’s far-right government and common sense, Israeli MP Michael Oren, who previously served as Israel’s Ambassador to the United States, insisted that the US owes Israel unconditional support because God wills it so.

“God speaks only one language and it’s the language in which we are yelling at each other in the next hall,” Oren declared during the caucus, adding that Jesus, Mary, and Joseph would be considered “Jewish settlers in Bethlehem” today, and that God wants Israel to be strong.

The attempt to equate Jesus to settlers is a particularly bizarre comment, especially since it was made during a caucus focused on courting Christian support for Israel. It’s a transparently ham-fisted effort to shoehorn some of Israel’s worst, most opposed policies on the international community through Jesus.

On the one hand, the argument doesn’t hold water even within the spiritual context, as the Biblical story had Jesus et al. going to Bethlehem for the sake of a census. They were described in the text as living in Nazareth, which is an Israeli town, albeit one far-right parties are constantly trying to “trade” to a future Palestinian state because of all the Arabs that live there.

That’s neither here nor there, though, and the real issue is that Oren seems to believe this is part of a successful strategy to court US and international Christians toward supporting Israel. Oren appears to be dramatically underestimating the amount of work it takes to manipulate the average person, informed by his story of a far-right Texas Congressman promising him unlimited funds for Iron Dome because he thinks Jesus wants those missiles.

This ignores the reality that a far-right Texas Congressman would probably through money at anything war-seeming, and Oren’s four year term as the Israeli ambassador to the US appears to have left him convinced of our extreme gullibility.

MEMORANDUM FOR: The President
FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)
SUBJECT: Releasing an Intelligence Report on Shoot-Down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17

It has been a year since the shoot-down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine, resulting in the death of 298 passengers and crew. The initial response by the U.S. government supported the contention that the likely perpetrators were anti-government forces in southeastern Ukraine (the customary media misnomer for them is “separatists”), and that they were possibly aided directly by Moscow.

On July 29, 2014, we Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS) suggested that the United States Government report publicly what intelligence it actually had relating to the shoot-down lest the incident turn into another paroxysm of blaming Russia without cause. We are still waiting for that report.

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