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An Equally Obscene "Miller's Tale"

Judith Miller’s Blame-Shifting Memoir

April 7, 2015

U.S. intelligence veterans and associates recall the real story of how New York Times reporter Judith Miller disgraced herself and her profession by helping to mislead Americans into the disastrous war in Iraq. They challenge the slick, self-aggrandizing rewrite of history in her new memoir.

MEMORANDUM FOR: Americans Malnourished on the Truth About Iraq

FROM: Veteran Intelligence Professionals for Sanity (VIPS)

SUBJECT: A New “Miller’s Tale” (with apologies to Geoffrey Chaucer)

50,000th War in a Row Violates the Laws of War

I think we must be due some kind of prize. This is the 50,000th war in a row to have violated the "laws of war."

The documentation comes from Human Rights Watch which reports that last August 31st U.S. and Iraqi air strikes "drove ISIS forces away from the town" of Amerli. No doubt, many people died and were maimed and traumatized (also known as terrorized) by those "air strikes," but that's just part of war, which it wouldn't be ethical for Human Rights Watch to question.

What concerns Human Rights Watch is what began on September 1st. About 6,000 fighters for the Iraqi government and various militias moved in, with their U.S. weaponry. They destroyed villages. They demolished homes, businesses, mosques, and public buildings. They looted. They burned. They abducted. In fact they behaved exactly as troops taught to hate and murder certain groups of people had behaved in the 49,999 previous recorded wars. "The actions violated the laws of war," Human Rights Watch says.

Human Rights Watch recommends that Iraq disband the militias and care for the refugees who have fled their wrath, while holding "accountable" those responsible for the documented violations of the "laws of war." Human Rights Watch wants the United States to establish "reform benchmarks." The possibility of ending participation in the war, creating an arms embargo, negotiating a ceasefire, and redirecting ALL energy into aid and restitution doesn't arise.

The "laws of war" are not laws of physics. If they were, the first law of war would be:

People instructed to murder will engage in lesser crimes as well.

Laws of war, unlike laws of physics, are just not this sort of observation of something that always happens. On the contrary, they are laws that are always violated. Human Rights Watch explains:

"International humanitarian law, the laws of war, governs fighting in non-international armed conflicts such as that between Iraqi government forces, government-backed militias, and opposition armed groups. The laws of war governing the methods and means of warfare in non-international armed conflicts are primarily found in the Hague Regulations of 1907 and the First Additional Protocol of 1977 to the Geneva Conventions (Protocol I). . . . Central to the laws of war is the principle of distinction, which requires parties to a conflict to distinguish at all times between combatants and civilians. . . . While Iraqi government forces may have destroyed property for military reasons in some cases, Human Rights Watch found that the large-scale destruction of property by pro-government militias in the cases detailed in this report appear to violate international law. . . . In the instances detailed above, it appeared militias destroyed property after fighting had finished in the area and when combatants from ISIS had fled from the area. Therefore it suggests their justification for the attacks may have been for punitive reasons; or in order to prevent Sunni residents from returning to the areas from which they fled."

So, the next time you're murdering large numbers of Sunnis, and the ones designated as combatants have left, please begin behaving decently to all the others. Do not torture anyone you wounded while trying to murder them. Do not destroy people's homes with thoughts of punishment or demographic change in your head, but rather ponder military objectives while burning houses, and as quickly as possible get back to the acceptable and legal efforts to kill combatants, especially whenever possible with bombs from airplanes whose pilots have been carefully instructed to only intend to kill combatants and whose commander in chief defines "combatant" as military-aged male.

ISIS Derangement Syndrome

Here's Time Magazine's David von Drehle: "The greatest threat that ISIS poses -- even to the poor souls living under ISIS rule -- is the unintended damage that might follow from the effort to eradicate the group. . . . As dangerous as it is to have a terrorist kingdom in the middle of the world's geopolitical tinderbox, ousting ISIS will be every bit as dangerous."

Drehle goes from there immediately into the debate over whether U.S. troops or local troops should do the job. His article is followed by Max Boot arguing for U.S. ground troops and Karl Vick arguing for U.S. bombing with local ground troops. All three writers seem to be aware that ISIS wanted U.S. bombing and wants U.S. ground troops even more, that ISIS recruitment climbs in response to U.S. military action. All three can't help but be aware that terrorist kingdoms like Saudi Arabia already exist in the region with the blessing of the U.S. government (and of magazine writers who seek to please the U.S. government). All three are fairly condescending toward local troops, eager to (somehow) get Sunnis to attack Sunnis, and wary of allowing Iranian "death squads" to get involved in the, you know, mass killing they are proposing.

None of the three have one word to say about the great many innocents already killed in the latest U.S. bombings, but all three seem to grasp that the U.S. invasion of Iraq in 2003 was necessary for the creation of ISIS, all three seem to understand that fighting ISIS is counterproductive, and yet all three strive to place the need to attack ISIS beyond the range of any debate. The question is not whether to make the disaster worse, but exactly how to do it.

What, after all, makes the region a global tinderbox? Israel's nukes? Certainly not, those are not supposed to be mentioned or even thought about. Well then, all the other weapons? But over 80% of those are supplied by the United States, so that can't be it. Perhaps the violent overthrows and devastation of so many governments and countries? But it was the U.S. and friends who destroyed Iraq and made Libya what it is and who have done what they're still doing to Afghanistan. It is the U.S. that has ruined Yemen. It is the U.S. that arms and supports Israel's wars. It is the U.S. that props up the terrorist states in Saudi Arabia and Bahrain and Egypt. Surely what makes the region a tinderbox (rather than a region rich in oil about which greedy earth-destroying interests might be concerned) is something unthinkable or nonsensical or inscrutable, something ethnic or religious or unworthy of consideration.

Because otherwise we might have to consider cease fires and arms embargoes and diplomacy and humanitarian aid as possible alternatives to the usual choices of (1) do nothing, or (2) make it all worse with more of what caused much of the problem in the first place. We might have to consider that it isn't ISIS that's posing the greatest threat in the form of "the effort to eradicate the group."

U.S. WAR ON THE WORLD IS WRONG

American Sniper portrays Navy Seal Chris Kyle as a hero for killing a huge number of people, one by one, in Iraq. Right now, as the U.S. government is bombing Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Afghanistan and again — Iraq, and preparing to send additional troops to Iraq, this film is distorting many people’s memory of recent history and damaging heir understanding of basic morality.

Civilization and barbarism: It Takes a Life Cult to Beat a Death Cult

By John Grant


We have to address the political grievances terrorists exploit.
                                                                          -- Barack Obama
 

No more AUMFs! No more ‘unitary executives’!: We’re Already Losing Our Democracy and All Our Freedoms to the 2001 AUMF

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Critics of President Obama’s proposed Authorization for Use of Military Force AUMF) against ISIS have been focused upon its deliberately obfuscatory and ambiguous language, which they rightly note would make it essentially a carte blanche from Congress allowing the president to go to war almost anywhere some would-be terrorist or terrorist copycat could be found who claims affinity with ISIS.

Obama the war president -- War: Where 69¢ of Each Tax Dollar Goes

By Dave Lindorff

 

         The Nobel Peace Laureate President Barack Obama, the guy who once campaigned claiming one US war -- the one against Iraq -- was a “bad” one, and the other -- against Afghanistan -- was a “good” one, turns out to be a man who, once anointed commander-in-chief, can’t seem to find a war he doesn’t consider to be a “good” idea.

Two Words... American Snipper

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by Debra Sweet       Well-timed to coincide with the U.S. escalation of war on Yemen (with new drone strikes) and in Iraq & Syria (with U.S. bombing runs the Pentagon now acknowledges are killing civilians) comes the film "American Sniper." Two words could not more concisely convey the hubris, arrogance and brutality of the U.S.

Pentagon Silent on Current Use of DU in Iraq

Back in October, I reported that, "A type of airplane, the A-10, deployed this month to the Middle East by the U.S. Air National Guard's 122nd Fighter Wing, is responsible for more Depleted Uranium (DU) contamination than any other platform, according to the International Coalition to Ban Uranium Weapons (ICBUW). . . . Pentagon spokesman Mark Wright told me, 'There is no prohibition against the use of Depleted Uranium rounds, and the [U.S. military] does make use of them. The use of DU in armor-piercing munitions allows enemy tanks to be more easily destroyed.'"

This week I have left an email message and a phone message for Mark Wright at the Pentagon. Here's what I emailed, after consulting with Wim Zwijnenburg of PaxForPeace.nl:

"Recent reports by CENTCOM have noted that 11% of the U.S. sorties have been flown by A-10s , and that a wide range of attacks on tanks and armored vehicles have taken place.  Can you confirm that  PGU-14 30mm munitions with depleted uranium in the A-10s (and any other DU weapons) have not been used during these attacks. And if not, why not? Thanks!"

I sent that email on January 28 and left a voice message January 30.

You'd think there'd be lots of reporters calling with the same question and reporting the answer. But then it's only Iraqis, I guess.

The 'Glory' of War

                It is rare for someone of this writer’s acquaintance to enlist in the military, although it has happened. When someone does so, his or her family usually speaks of how proud they are of them, as if the enlistee has done something to which great honor is attached. This attitude is also reflected in public opinion polls, in which much of the populace generally seems to agree that military service is good preparation for elected office.


                Let us look at these two myths in a little more detail.


Phony baloney: Picking Apart Obama's "Progressive" State of the Union Speech

By Dave Lindorff


There were two times Republicans broke into fervent applause during this lame duck president's seventh State of the Union speech: the first was when he called for passage of "fast track" authority to negotiate and send to the Senate a Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade pact -- basically a NAAFTA for the Pacific region; the second was when he noted that he "won't be running for president again."

A cultural essay: Dirty Harry Goes To Iraq

By John Grant

 
People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf.
                                    -George Orwell

 
Back in 1979, reviewers liked to point out that Francis Ford Coppola’s Vietnam epic Apocalypse Now was so plagued with difficulty and confusion (the star suffered a heart attack during shooting and a devastating typhoon destroyed all the sets) that the making of the film paralleled the reality of the Vietnam War itself.

‘A bizarre excursion into the surreal’: Is the Islamic State Really Such a Psychological Enigma?

By John Grant


By all means let’s mourn together; but let’s not be stupid together.
                -Susan Sontag


The costly debacle known as the Iraq War put the US government in a tough spot that's now exacerbated by the rise of the Islamic State in Anbar Province and western Syria.

The real politics behind the US war on IS



No military or counter-terrorism analyst believes that the military force applied in Iraq and Syria has even the slightest chance of defeating IS

The US war on the ‘Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant’ or ISIL, also known as Islamic State of IS - the single biggest development in US foreign policy during 2014 - continues to puzzle those looking for its strategic logic. But the solution to the puzzle lies in considerations that have nothing to do with a rational response to realities on the ground. 

In fact, it is all about domestic political and bureaucratic interests.

The Challenge of the Islamic State and U.S. Policy

By Karl Meyer and Kathy Kelly

What to do about the political mess in the Middle East and the rise of the Islamic State and related political movements?

Shortly after the end of World War II, the Western powers and the whole world began to recognize that the age of explicit colonial domination was over, and dozens of colonies were let go of and took political independence.

It is now past time for the United States and other world powers to recognize that the age of neo-colonial military, political and economic domination, especially in the Islamic Middle East, is decisively coming to a close.

Attempts to maintain it by military force have been disastrous for ordinary people trying to survive in the affected countries. There are powerful cultural currents and political forces in motion in the Middle East that simply will not tolerate military and political domination. There are thousands of people prepared to die rather than accept it.

U.S. policy will find no military fix for this reality.

Stopping Communism by military imposition of subservient government did not work in Vietnam, even with the presence of a half million U.S. troops at one period, the sacrifice of millions of Vietnamese lives, the direct death of about 58,000 U.S. soldiers, and hundreds of thousands of U.S. physical and mental casualties, still ongoing today.

Creating a stable, democratic, friendly government in Iraq has not worked even with the presence of at least a hundred thousand U.S. paid personnel at one period, the cost of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi casualties and deaths, the loss of about 4,400 U.S. troops to direct death, and many more thousands to physical and mental casualties, ongoing today and for many more years to come. The U.S. military attack and occupation has led to fratricidal civil war, economic disaster and misery for millions of ordinary Iraqis trying to survive.

The results in Afghanistan are proving very similar: dysfunctional government, massive corruption, civil war, economic disruption, and misery for millions of ordinary people, at a cost of thousands of deaths, and uncounted thousands of Afghan, U.S., European, and allied casualties, that will continue to manifest symptoms for decades to come.

The U.S./European military intervention in the Libyan revolt left Libya in an unresolved condition of dysfunctional government and civil war.

The Western response to the rebellion in Syria, encouraging and fostering civil war, at the cost of death or misery for millions of Syrian refugees, has only made the situation worse for most Syrians.

We need to think, above all else, about the terrible costs of each of these military interventions for ordinary people trying to live, raise families and survive in each of these countries.

These awful failures of U.S. and European military intervention have led to immense cultural resentment among millions of serious and thoughtful people in Islamic countries of the Middle East. The evolution and emergence of the Islamic State and other militant movements is one challenging response to these realities of economic and political chaos.

Now the United States is engaging in another military intervention, bombing targets in areas of Islamic State control, and trying to persuade surrounding Arab states and Turkey to enter the fray by putting their troops at risk on the ground. The expectation that this will work out better than the interventions cited above seems to us another huge mistake, one that will be equally disastrous for ordinary people caught in the middle.

It is time for the U.S. and Europe to recognize that civil wars in the Middle East will be resolved by the emergence of the most powerful and best organized local movements, in spite of what the U.S. Government agencies, on the one hand, or worldwide humanitarian communities, on the other hand, might prefer.

They may also lead to the rearrangement of national boundaries in the Middle East that were arbitrarily set by European colonial powers a hundred years ago at the end of World War I. This has already occurred with Yugoslavia, Czechoslovakia, and other eastern European countries.

What U.S. Policies Might Foster Political Stability and Economic Recovery in Areas of Conflict?

1) The U.S. should end its current provocative drive toward military alliances and missile deployments encircling the boundaries of Russia and China. The U.S. should accept pluralism of economic and political power in the contemporary world. Present policies are provoking a return to Cold War with Russia, and a tendency to begin a Cold War with China This is a lose/lose proposition for all countries involved.

2) By turning toward a reset of policy toward cooperating with Russia, China and other influential countries within the framework of the United Nations, the United States could foster international mediation and political pressure from a broad consensus of countries to resolve the civil wars in Syria and other countries by negotiation, devolution of power, and other political solutions. It might also reset its relationship toward friendly cooperation with Iran in the Middle East and resolve the threat of nuclear weapons proliferation in Iran, North Korea and any other potential nuclear weapons states. There is no essentially inherent reason why the U.S. needs to continue a hostile relationship with Iran.

3) The U.S. should offer reparations to ordinary people harmed by U.S. military interventions, and generous medical and economic aid and technical expertise wherever it may be helpful in other countries, and thus build a reservoir of international goodwill and positive influence.

4) It’s time to embrace a post-neo-colonial period of international cooperation through diplomatic institutions, international organizations, and non-governmental initiatives.

Talk Nation Radio: Jonathan Landay on War, Politics, and Media

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-jonathan-landay-on-war-politics-and-media

Jonathan Landay is a reporter for McClatchy. His reporting at Knight Ridder during the marketing of the 2003 invasion of Iraq was virtually the only skeptical reporting in the corporate press. He discusses current wars and politics.

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

Iraq News - Dec 23, 2014

 

Kurds push offensive to retake Sinjar town from ISIS after breaking a siege of a mountain where Yazidis had been trapped for months - NPR


VIDEO: Iraq Kurd chief hails advances in Sinjar anti-jihadist battle - AFP


VIDEO: Kurds, Yazidis blast their way into Sinjar town - Reuters


VIDEO (Kurdish): Raw and longer version of the video above - YouTube


Mass grave of 70 Yazidis, including women and children corpses, found in Sinjar region - ekurd 


PKK, YPG forces play key role in freeing Sinjar - Kurdpress News Aganecy


US Coalition Destroys IS Targets Near Sinjar - VOA


Australian Super Hornets strikes helped turn back Isis fighters at Mount Sinjar - The Guardian

 

Iraqi Air Force, In Combat Debut, Assists Peshmerga, Coalition In Mission To Push ISIS Back From Mount Sinjar - ibtimes.com

 

Islamic State Once Again Blockades Iraq’s Baiji Oil Refinery - Latin American Herald Tribune

 

Iraqi army retake military airbase outside Tal Afar - Firstpost

 

Rudaw source: ISIS governor of Mosul seriously wounded, not killed - Rudaw

 

Pentagon to deploy additional 1,300 military advisers to Iraq next month - Army Technology

 

Task force denies reports U.S. engaged in ground combat with Islamic State - The Tampa Tribune

 

Senator Pat Roberts sees progress against Islamic State in Iraq - The Kansas City Star

 

Czech Sends 5000 anti-tank missiles to Peshmerga Forces - BasNews

 

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Amnesty: ISIS has forced 'thousands' of kidnapped girls into sexual slavery - Daily Mail Online


REPORT: Escape from hell – Torture, sexual slavery in Islamic State captivity in Iraq - amnesty.org


VIDEO: Yazidi Women Recount Shocking Trauma of Sex-Slavery Under The Islamic State - BBC


VIDEO: Yazidi women bought and sold by ISIS - CNN


Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants - The Independent


Isis: Germany to open trauma centre for sex slave women raped by militants - ibtimes.co.uk


IS Militants Use Sex to Lure Recruits -VOA

 

Isis supporters 'offering cash to British girls as young as 14 to become jihadi brides in Syria' - The Independent

 

ARCHIVE: ISIS publishes manual telling fighters how to buy, sell and abuse captured women - Daily Mail Online

 

ARCHIVE: Text of the Islamic State (ISIS) manual entitled entitled 'Questions And Answers On Taking Captives And Slaves’ - memrijttm.org

 

ISIS reportedly ‘executes 100 deserters’ in Syria’s Raqqa - Al Arabiya News

 

ISIS arrests ‘extremists’ accused of plot against group - Al Arabiya News

 

ISIS Finds Man Guilty of Homosexuality – Executes By Hurling Off Roof (PHOTOS) - viral.buzz

 

ISIS release photos of a man having his hand amputated for theft - Daily Mail Online

 

Islamic State (ISIS) publishes penal code, releases list of “Qur’anic punishments” - jihadwatch.org

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

 

A Hollywood Hack Holiday: Ending Torture One Dick At a Time

By John Grant


CAUTION! To paraphrase Bill O’Reilly, you are now entering a no-censor zone that discusses obscene activity.
 

The Christmas movie from Sony Pictures I want to see is Seth Rogan and James Franco rectally feeding Dick Cheney at the climax of a movie sequel called The Enhanced Interview: Saving the Homeland One Dick At a Time.


Talk Nation Radio: Taif Jany on #SoccerSalam

https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/talk-nation-radio-taif-jany-on-soccersalam

Taif Jany, director of #SoccerSalam, discusses the need for humanitarian aid in Iraq this winter and how people can help. See http://soccersalam.org

In addition, 12-year-old Hallie Turner explains how she became a climate activist with http://imatteryouth.org

Total run time: 29:00

Host: David Swanson.
Producer: David Swanson.
Music by Duke Ellington.

Download from Archive or LetsTryDemocracy.

Pacifica stations can also download from AudioPort.

Syndicated by Pacifica Network.

Please encourage your local radio stations to carry this program every week!

Please embed the SoundCloud audio on your own website!

Past Talk Nation Radio shows are all available free and complete at
http://TalkNationRadio.org

and at
https://soundcloud.com/davidcnswanson/tracks

The US Must Prosecute Torturers and their Enablers, or Forever Be a Labeled a Rogue Nation

By Dave Lindorff

            In all the media debate about the Senate Intelligence Committee’s release, finally, of a heavily redacted report on officially sanctioned torture by the CIA and the US military during the Bush/Cheney administration and the so-called War on Terror, there has been little said about the reality that torture, as clearly defined in the Geneva Convention against Torture which went into effect in 1987, is flat-out illegal in the US as a signatory of that Convention.

Iraq/Syria News - Nov 27, 2014

 

Iraqi forces battle IS jihadists in Ramadi, Kirkuk - AP


Local Officials Say Iraqi Forces In Ramadi Repel 'Fiercest, Most Violent Attack Yet' From IS - rferl.org


Iraq says airstrikes are critical in the shifting battle for Ramadi  - CNN


ISIS “emir” of the western Anbar province killed in Iraq’s Hit - Al Arabiya News


ISIS Militants Kills 25 Members Iraqi Tribesmen Near Ramadi - Daily Times


U.S. plans to arm Iraq’s Anbar tribesmen - Al Arabiya News


Iraq: Head of Anbar tribe calls on government to fulfil promises of providing weapons in fight against ISIS - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT

 

Controversy Over Supporting Iraq’s Tribes In Anbar - MUSINGS ON IRAQ

 

Islamic State releases images from recent fighting in Ramadi (PHOTOS) - Threat Matrix

 

VIDEO: Iraqi MOD Releases Video of Counter Offensive Against Islamic State in Anbar - Yahoo

 

Iraqi officials say 2 bombings kill 10 people in Baghdad - Fox News

 

Islamic State attacks Iraqi border crossing with Jordan - Threat Matrix

 

TSG IntelBrief: War Against All: The Islamic State in Anbar - The Soufan Group

 

ISIS in the Southwest Baghdad Belts - Institute for the Study of War

 

The Islamic State’s Stalled Offensive in Anbar Province - warontherocks.com

 

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ISIS attack fails to take Iraq’s oil-rich Kirkuk, "they want to control the oil sites” says peshmerga general - Al Arabiya News


Australian Airstrikes Pound ISIS Underground Caves And Bunkers, Kill 100 ISIS Members Near Kirkuk - International Business Times


VIDEO: IS Attacks Close to Iraq's Oil City of Kirkuk - YouTube


IS poses threat to Iraq oil investment - FT.com


At least 43 ISIS jihadists killed in a failed bid to regain control of the Mosul dam - Latin American Herald Tribune


ISIS Militants Execute Two Female Parliamentary Candidates in Mosul - ibtimes.co.uk


IS Moves Prisoners from Iraq to Syria Fearing Attack on Mosul - Latin American Herald Tribune

 

Reports: ISIS militants causing massive damage of the convent in Mosul - CatholicHerald.co.uk

 

VIDEO: ISIS Blows Up Nun Monastery Jesus Heart in Mosul - LiveLeak.com

 

VIDEO: Islamic State releases footage showing fighters destroying a number of Shia Muslim shrines in Iraq,The video is titled Demolishing Idols - Yahoo UK

 

Islamic State imposes a reign of fear in Iraqi hospitals - The Washington Post

 

Iraqi generals Who Abandoned Mosul may be Executed - Bas

 

U.S. Central Command News Release: Airstrikes Target ISIL in Syria, Iraq - Defense.gov

 

Hezbollah arrives in Iraq - Al-Monitor

 

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Islamic State beheads Ismaili man for 'apostasy' - THE DAILY STAR


PHOTOS: Onlookers in Homs, including children, watch as ISIS beheads an old man it says he was Ismaili “apostate” - Hassan Hassan on Twitter


Nusra Front executes Syrian for 'insulting prophet' - THE DAILY STAR


ISIS Video 'Blood Of Jihad 2' Trains Child Soldiers On How To Kill Infidels (VIDEO) - breitbart.com 


More jihadist training camps identified in Syria and Iraq - The Long War Journal


In New ISIS Video British Hostage John Cantlie Says He Will Likely Be Executed (VIDEO) - huffingtonpost.com


ISIS selling villages in Kobanê - ANF

 

Thousands of women gathered at border for Kobanê in solidarity with Kurdish fighters - ANF

 

Control of Syrian Oil Fuels War Between Kurds and Islamic State - WSJ

 

VIDEO: Christian militia fights Islamic State in northern Syria - DW.DE

 

UN: Islamic State group got up to $45M in ransoms - Stripes

 

Activists Say Syrian Airstrikes on Raqqa Kill 95 - VOA

 

As Syrian army closes in, Douma residents turn against rebels - Al-Monitor

 

Syria 'no-fly zone' not being considered: NATO general - THE DAILY STAR

 

Putin meets with Syria foreign minister for the first time - THE DAILY STAR

 

Syrian FM: Russia to Boost Relations With Assad - ABC News

 

Russia dispatched 30 planeloads of humanitarian aid to Syria over 18 months: Lavrov - TASS

 

Erdogan slams US 'impertinence' over Kobane - Al Jazeera English

 

CIA operation in eastern Libya was tracking the movement of weapons to Syria: Benghazi report - Fox News

 

Qatar runs covert desert training camp for Syrian rebels - Reuters

 

Pope Francis: Don't shut door to dialogue with Islamic State - theage.com

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

Special Armistice Day Edition: Interview of IVAW Vet and Folksinger Emily Yates About Her Independence Park Assault Conviction

By Dave Lindorff


Emily Yates, a US Army veteran of two tours in Iraq and an activist with Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW), was at a demonstration last year on Philadelphia's Independence Mall protesting against a looming US plan to begin a massive bombing assault on Syria. While standing in the shade of a couple of trees (it was a sweltering summer day), she was confronted by some burly National Park Police officers, who told her to leave.

A Veterans Day Story: Iraq Veterans' Emily Yates vs. the Federal Military Machine

By John Grant


When you tuck your children in at night
Don’t tell ‘em it’s for freedom that we fight
                                                                                   - Emily Yates

 

Iraq/Syria News - Nov 11, 2014

 

CENTCOM: Allies Launch Barrage of Airstrikes Against Islamic State, Conducting 23 Air Strikes in Syria and 18 in Iraq  - Reuters


U.S. Central Command News Release: Airstrikes Continue Against ISIL in Syria, Iraq - Defense.gov


Islamic State chief Baghdadi injured, deputy killed in anti-ISIS airstrikes: Iraqi defense minister - ASHARQ AL-AWSAT


Islamic State leader Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi's close aide killed in US air strike - Telegraph


ISIS News: Jihadists Confirm Baghdadi's Injury; Say Leader's Death won't End Caliphate - ibtimes.co.in


Official statement (Arabic) published by Iraqi intelligence on the operation against Al-Bagdadi and 40 IS leaders - LiveLeak.com


Iraqi military reach refinery town of Baiji - Worldbulletin News


Peshmerga inch closer to Mosul with air support - Rudaw


Islamic State deserters arrested sneaking into Kirkuk - Rudaw


Sunni tribes join Shiite militias in battle for Iraqi town in Anbar province, a rare show of sectarian unity - McClatchy DC


To ease Sunni fears, Iraq orders Shi'ite militias back from front line - Reuters


ISIS Allegedly Murders Nine Journalists in Mosul, Iraq - breitbart.com


Islamic State sells stolen Kirkuk oil at $20 per barrel: Iraq Finance Ministry - ekurd


------------------------------------------------------

Kurds Say Balance of Power Shifted in Kobani - BAS NEWS


ISIS militants bomb Kobane neighborhoods before withdrawal, "burned, looted and exploded the places" - ARA News


Kobani Kurdish Fighters Rescue Trapped, Injured ISIS 'Emir'; Video Goes Viral (VIDEO) - ibtimes.co.in


VIDEO: Boy under sniper fire rescues girl in Kobane - YouTube


Syrian Kurdistan give women equal rights, snubbing IS jihadists - AFP


IS recalls dozens of fighters in order to fight in Kobani - Syrian Observatory For Human Rights


VIDEO (Arabic): ISIS releases new video “A Message to the Peshmerga”, promises to send reinforcements to support fighters in Kobane - YouTube


‘ISIS Sees Turkey as Its Ally': Former Islamic State Member Reveals Turkish Army Cooperation - Newsweek


Syrian Islamic Front rebel leader brands Kobani’s Kurdish defenders as enemies - Rudaw


VIDEO (English Subtitles): Press Conference of the Islamic Front Military Leader on Kobanê - YouTube


President of the opposition Syrian National Coalition: US-led attacks on ISIS are undermining anti-Assad forces - The Guardian


Attack in Syria kills 5 nuclear scientists - AP


Hezbollah blames Israel in death of 5 nuclear technicians in Syria - McClatchy DC


Jabhat al-Nusra blows up Armenian church in Deir el-Zour: A savage blow that echoes through Armenian history - The Independent


Syria's Assad says U.N. envoy's local ceasefire bid 'worth studying': state media - Reuters


UN envoy holds high-level talks with Syrian officials on plan to ‘freeze’ Aleppo conflict - United Nations News Centre


Local ceasefires 'best hope' for Syria, report says - Daily Mail Online


--------------------------------------------------

Obama says Islamic State fight in new phase, additional 1,500 troops are being sent to help train Iraqi army soldiers and militia fighters - WRIC


Obama asks for $5.6 billion to fight Islamic State - Washington Times


Despite growing coalition against Islamic State, US shouldering most of the air campaign - The Boston Globe


Obama indicates US may ask allies for more help to combat ISIS in Iraq - The Guardian


Report: Obama’s Letter to Khamenei Said Syria’s Assad Will Not Be Toppled - EA WorldView


Background Conference Call on the Administration's Request for Overseas Contingency Operations - The White House


RAF carries out first British drone attacks against Isis in Iraq - The Guardian


Australian special forces moving into Iraq, Tony Abbott says - The Guardian


In the UAE, the United States has a quiet, potent ally nicknamed ‘Little Sparta’ - The Washington Post


Iran says ready to help Iraq fight IS jihadists - Yahoo News


Qatar minister’s family ties to jihadi terror - Telegraph

 

To contact Bartolo email peaceloversingle[at]yahoo[dot]com (replacing [at] with @, [dot] with .)

What Could Possibly Go Right?

Four Months into Iraq War 3.0, the Cracks Are Showing -- on the Battlefield and at the Pentagon
By Peter Van Buren

Karl von Clausewitz, the famed Prussian military thinker, is best known for his aphorism “War is the continuation of state policy by other means.” But what happens to a war in the absence of coherent state policy?

Actually, we now know. Washington’s Iraq War 3.0, Operation Inherent Resolve, is what happens. In its early stages, I asked sarcastically, “What could possibly go wrong?” As the mission enters its fourth month, the answer to that question is already grimly clear: just about everything. It may be time to ask, in all seriousness: What could possibly go right?

Knowing Right from Wrong

The latest American war was launched as a humanitarian mission. The goal of its first bombing runs was to save the Yazidis, a group few Americans had heard of until then, from genocide at the hands of the Islamic State (IS). Within weeks, however, a full-scale bombing campaign was underway against IS across Iraq and Syria with its own “coalition of the willing” and 1,600 U.S. military personnel on the ground. Slippery slope? It was Teflon-coated. Think of what transpired as several years of early Vietnam-era escalation compressed into a semester.

And in that time, what’s gone right? Short answer: Almost nothing. Squint really, really hard and maybe the “good news” is that IS has not yet taken control of much of the rest of Iraq and Syria, and that Baghdad hasn’t been lost. These possibilities, however, were unlikely even without U.S. intervention.

And there might just possibly be one “victory” on the horizon, though the outcome still remains unclear. Washington might “win” in the IS-besieged Kurdish town of Kobane, right on the Turkish border. If so, it will be a faux victory guaranteed to accomplish nothing of substance. After all, amid the bombing and the fighting, the town has nearly been destroyed. What comes to mind is a Vietnam War-era remark by an anonymous American officer about the bombed provincial capital of Ben Tre: “It became necessary to destroy the town to save it.”

More than 200,000 refugees have already fled Kobane, many with doubts that they will ever be able to return, given the devastation. The U.S. has gone to great pains to point out just how many IS fighters its air strikes have killed there. Exactly 464, according to a U.K.-based human rights group, a number so specific as to be suspect, but no matter. As history suggests, body counts in this kind of war mean little.

And that, folks, is the “good news.” Now, hold on, because here’s the bad news.

That Coalition

The U.S. Department of State lists 60 participants in the coalition of nations behind the U.S. efforts against the Islamic State. Many of those countries (Somalia, Iceland, Croatia, and Taiwan, among them) have never been heard from again outside the halls of Foggy Bottom. There is no evidence that America’s Arab “allies” like Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and the United Arab Emirates, whose funding had long-helped extreme Syrian rebel groups, including IS, and whose early participation in a handful of air strikes was trumpeted as a triumph, are still flying.

Absent the few nations that often make an appearance at America's geopolitical parties (Canada, the Brits, the Aussies, and increasingly these days, the French), this international mess has quickly morphed into Washington's mess. Worse yet, nations like Turkey that might actually have taken on an important role in defeating the Islamic State seem to be largely sitting this one out. Despite the way it’s being reported in the U.S., the new war in the Middle East looks, to most of the world, like another case of American unilateralism, which plays right into the radical Islamic narrative.

Iraqi Unity

The ultimate political solution to fighting the war in Iraq, a much-ballyhooed “inclusive” Iraqi government uniting Shias, Sunnis, and Kurds, has taken no time at all to fizzle out. Though Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi chose a Sunni to head the country’s Defense Ministry and direct a collapsed Iraqi army, his far more-telling choice was for Interior Minister. He picked Mohammed Ghabban, a little-known Shia politician who just happens to be allied with the Badr Organization.

Even if few in the U.S. remember the Badr folks, every Sunni in Iraq does. During the American occupation, the Badr militia ran notorious death squads, after infiltrating the same Interior Ministry they basically now head. The elevation of a Badr leader to -- for Sunnis -- perhaps the most significant cabinet position of all represents several nails in the coffin of Iraqi unity. It is also in line with the increasing influence of the Shia militias the Baghdad government has called on to defend the capital at a time when the Iraqi Army is incapable of doing the job.

Those militias have used the situation as an excuse to ramp up a campaign of atrocities against Sunnis whom they tag as “IS,” much as in Iraq War 2.0 most Sunnis killed were quickly labeled "al-Qaeda." In addition, the Iraqi military has refused to stop shelling and carrying out air strikes on civilian Sunni areas despite a prime ministerial promise that they would do so. That makes al-Abadi look both ineffectual and disingenuous. An example? This week, Iraq renamed a town on the banks of the Euphrates River to reflect a triumph over IS. Jurf al-Sakhar, or “rocky bank,” became Jurf al-Nasr, or “victory bank.” However, the once-Sunni town is now emptied of its 80,000 residents, and building after building has been flattened by air strikes, bombings, and artillery fire coordinated by the Badr militia.

Meanwhile, Washington clings to the most deceptive trope of Iraq War 2.0: the claim that the Anbar Awakening -- the U.S. military’s strategy to arm Sunni tribes and bring them into the new Iraq while chasing out al-Qaeda-in-Iraq (the “old” IS) -- really worked on the ground. By now, this is a bedrock truth of American politics. The failure that followed was, of course, the fault of those darned Iraqis, specifically a Shia government in Baghdad that messed up all the good the U.S. military had done. Having deluded itself into believing this myth, Washington now hopes to recreate the Anbar Awakening and bring the same old Sunnis into the new, new Iraq while chasing out IS (the “new” al-Qaeda).

To convince yourself that this will work, you have to ignore the nature of the government in Baghdad and believe that Iraqi Sunnis have no memory of being abandoned by the U.S. the first time around. What comes to mind is one commentator's view of the present war: if at first we don’t succeed, do the same thing harder, with better technology, and at greater expense.

Understanding that Sunnis may not be fooled twice by the same con, the State Department is now playing up the idea of creating a whole new military force, a Sunni “national guard.” Think of this as the backup plan from hell. These units would, after all, be nothing more than renamed Sunni militias and would in no way be integrated into the Iraqi Army. Instead, they would remain in Sunni territory under the command of local leaders. So much for unity.

And therein lies another can't-possibly-go-right aspect of U.S. strategy.

Strategic Incoherence

The forces in Iraq potentially aligned against the Islamic State include the Iraqi army, Shia militias, some Sunni tribal militias, the Kurdish peshmerga, and the Iranians. These groups are, at best, only in intermittent contact with each other, and often have no contact at all. Each has its own goals, in conflict with those of the other groups. And yet they represent coherence when compared to the mix of fighters in Syria, regularly as ready to slaughter each other as to attack the regime of Bashar al-Assad and/or IS.

Washington generally acts as if these various chaotically conflicting outfits can be coordinated across borders like so many chess pieces. President Obama, however, is no Dwight Eisenhower on D-Day at Normandy pointing the British to one objective, the Canadians to another, ultimately linking up with the French resistance en route to the liberation of Paris. For example, the Iranians and the Shia militias won't even pretend to follow American orders, while domestic U.S. politics puts a crimp in any Obama administration attempts to coordinate with the Iranians. If you had to pick just one reason why, in the end, the U.S. will either have to withdraw from Iraq yet again, or cede the western part of the country to IS, or place many, many boots on the ground, you need look no further than the strategic incoherence of its various fractious “coalitions” in Iraq, Syria, and globally.

The Islamic State

Unlike the U.S., the Islamic State has a coherent strategy and it has the initiative. Its militants have successfully held and administered territory over time. When faced with air power they can’t counter, as at Iraq’s giant Mosul Dam in August, its fighters have, in classic insurgent fashion, retreated and regrouped. The movement is conducting a truly brutal and bloody hearts and minds-type campaign, massacring Sunnis who oppose them and Shias they capture. In one particularly horrific incident, IS killed over 300 Sunnis and threw their bodies down a well. It has also recently made significant advances toward the Kurdish capital, Erbil, reversing earlier gains by the peshmerga. IS leaders are effectively deploying their own version of air strikes -- suicide bombers -- into the heart of Baghdad and have already loosed the first mortars into the capital’s Green Zone, home of the Iraqi government and the American Embassy, to gnaw away at morale.

IS's chief sources of funding, smuggled oil and ransom payments, remain reasonably secure, though the U.S. bombing campaign and a drop in global oil prices have noticeably cut into its oil revenues. The movement continues to recruit remarkably effectively both in and outside the Middle East. Every American attack, every escalatory act, every inflated statement about terrorist threats validates IS to its core radical Islamic audience.

Things are trending poorly in Syria as well. The Islamic State profits from the power vacuum created by the Assad regime’s long-term attempt to suppress a native Sunni "moderate" uprising. Al-Qaeda-linked fighters have just recently overrun key northern bastions previously controlled by U.S.-backed Syrian rebel groups and once again, as in Iraq, captured U.S. weapons have landed in the hands of extremists. Nothing has gone right for American hopes that moderate Syrian factions will provide significant aid in any imaginable future in the broader battle against IS.

Trouble on the Potomac 

While American strategy may be lacking on the battlefield, it’s alive and well at the Pentagon. A report in the Daily Beast, quoting a generous spurt of leaks, has recently made it all too clear that the Pentagon brass “are getting fed up with the short leash the White House put them on.” Senior leaders criticize the war’s decision-making process, overseen by National Security Adviser Susan Rice, as “manic and obsessed.” Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel wrote a quickly leaked memo to Rice warning that the president’s Syria strategy was already unraveling thanks to its fogginess about the nature of its opposition to Assad and because it has no “endgame.” Meanwhile, the military's “intellectual” supporters are already beginning to talk -- shades of Vietnam -- about “Obama's quagmire.”

Joint Chiefs Chairman General Martin Dempsey has twice made public statements revealing his dissatisfaction with White House policy. In September, he said it would take 12,000 to 15,000 ground troops to effectively go after the Islamic State. Last month, he suggested that American ground troops might, in the future, be necessary to fight IS. Those statements contrast sharply with Obama's insistence that there will never be U.S. combat troops in this war.

In another direct challenge, this time to the plan to create those Sunni National Guard units, Dempsey laid down his own conditions: no training and advising the tribes will begin until the Iraqi government agrees to arm the units themselves -- an unlikely outcome. Meanwhile, despite the White House's priority on training a new Syrian moderate force of 5,000 fighters, senior military leaders have yet to even select an officer to head up the vetting process that’s supposed to weed out less than moderate insurgents.

Taken as a whole, the military's near-mutinous posture is eerily reminiscent of MacArthur's refusal to submit to President Harry Truman's political will during the Korean War. But don’t hold your breath for a Trumanesque dismissal of Dempsey any time soon. In the meantime, the Pentagon’s sights seem set on a fall guy, likely Susan Rice, who is particularly close to the president.

The Pentagon has laid down its cards and they are clear enough: the White House is mismanaging the war. And its message is even clearer: given the refusal to consider sending in those ground-touching boots, Operation Inherent Resolve will fail. And when that happens, don't blame us; we warned you.

Never Again 

The U.S. military came out of the Vietnam War vowing one thing: when Washington went looking for someone to blame, it would never again be left holding the bag. According to a prominent school of historical thinking inside the Pentagon, the military successfully did what it was asked to do in Vietnam, only to find that a lack of global strategy and an over-abundance of micromanagement from America's political leaders made it seem like the military had failed. This grew from wartime mythology into bedrock Pentagon strategic thinking and was reflected in both the Powell Doctrine and the Weinberger Doctrine. The short version of that thinking demands politicians make thoughtful decisions on when, where, and why the military needs to fight. When a fight is chosen, they should then allow the military to go all in with overwhelming force, win, and come home.

The idea worked almost too well, reaching its peak in Iraq War 1.0, Operation Desert Storm. In the minds of politicians from president George H.W. Bush on down, that “victory” wiped the slate clean of Vietnam, only to set up every disaster that would follow from the Bush 43 wars to Obama's air strikes today. You don’t have to have a crystal ball to see the writing in the sand in Iraq and Syria. The military can already sense the coming failure that hangs like a miasma over Washington.

In or out, boots or not, whatever its own mistakes and follies, those who run the Pentagon and the U.S. military are already campaigning strategically to win at least one battle: when Iraq 3.0 collapses, as it most surely will, they will not be the ones hung out to dry. Of the very short list of what could go right, the smart money is on the Pentagon emerging victorious -- but only in Washington, not the Middle East.

Peter Van Buren blew the whistle on State Department waste and mismanagement during the Iraqi reconstruction in his first book, We Meant Well: How I Helped Lose the Battle for the Hearts and Minds of the Iraqi People. A TomDispatch regular, he writes about current events at his blog, We Meant Well. His latest book is Ghosts of Tom Joad: A Story of the #99Percent.

Follow TomDispatch on Twitter and join us on Facebook. Check out the newest Dispatch Book, Rebecca Solnit's Men Explain Things to Me, and Tom Engelhardt's latest book, Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World.

Copyright 2014 Peter Van Buren

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