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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


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

"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

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

and at

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 -


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



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 -

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 -

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’ -


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) -


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” -


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

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

In addition, 12-year-old Hallie Turner explains how she became a climate activist with

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

and at

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 -

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 -



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 -

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 -

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 -


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


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 -


Hezbollah arrives in Iraq - Al-Monitor



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) - 

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) -

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 -


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 -

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 -

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

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 -

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) -

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

Matt Ho on Democracy Now

Hot tub poll shows Republicans don’t like their politicians: Election Night Wasn’t a GOP Victory, It was a Democratic Rout

By Dave Lindorff

The sclerotic Democratic Party was trounced yet again yesterday, as Republicans outdid projections and appear to have taken at least seven Senate seats away from the Democrats, giving them control of the both houses of Congress. 

U.S. Sends Planes Armed with Depleted Uranium to Middle East

There's a version of this story at Al Jazeera.

The U.S. Air Force says it is not halting its use of Depleted Uranium weapons, has recently sent them to the Middle East, and is prepared to use them.

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). "Weight for weight and by number of rounds more 30mm PGU-14B ammo has been used than any other round," said ICBUW coordinator Doug Weir, referring to ammunition used by A-10s, as compared to DU ammunition used by tanks.

Public affairs superintendent Master Sgt. Darin L. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing told me that the A-10s now in the Middle East along with "300 of our finest airmen" have been sent there on a deployment planned for the past two years and have not been assigned to take part in the current fighting in Iraq or Syria, but "that could change at any moment."

The crews will load PGU-14 depleted uranium rounds into their 30mm Gatling cannons and use them as needed, said Hubble. "If the need is to explode something -- for example a tank -- they will be used."

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."

On Thursday, several nations, including Iraq, spoke to the United Nations First Committee, against the use of Depleted Uranium and in support of studying and mitigating the damage in already contaminated areas. A non-binding resolution is expected to be voted on by the Committee this week, urging nations that have used DU to provide information on locations targeted. A number of organizations are delivering a petition to U.S. officials this week urging them not to oppose the resolution.

In 2012 a resolution on DU was supported by 155 nations and opposed by just the UK, U.S., France, and Israel. Several nations have banned DU, and in June Iraq proposed a global treaty banning it -- a step also supported by the European and Latin American Parliaments.

Wright said that the U.S. military is "addressing concerns on the use of DU by investigating other types of materials for possible use in munitions, but with some mixed results. Tungsten has some limitations in its functionality in armor-piercing munitions, as well as some health concerns based on the results of animal research on some tungsten-containing alloys. Research is continuing in this area to find an alternative to DU that is more readily accepted by the public, and also performs satisfactorily in munitions."

"I fear DU is this generation's Agent Orange," U.S. Congressman Jim McDermott told me. "There has been a sizable increase in childhood leukemia and birth defects in Iraq since the Gulf War and our subsequent invasion in 2003. DU munitions were used in both those conflicts. There are also grave suggestions that DU weapons have caused serious health issues for our Iraq War veterans. I seriously question the use of these weapons until the U.S. military conducts a full investigation into the effect of DU weapon residue on human beings."

Doug Weir of ICBUW said renewed use of DU in Iraq would be "a propaganda coup for ISIS." His and other organizations opposed to DU are guardedly watching a possible U.S. shift away from DU, which the U.S. military said it did not use in Libya in 2011. Master Sgt. Hubble of the 122nd Fighter Wing believes that was simply a tactical decision. But public pressure had been brought to bear by activists and allied nations' parliaments, and by a UK commitment not to use DU.

DU is classed as a Group 1 Carcinogen by the World Health Organization, and evidence of health damage produced by its use is extensive. The damage is compounded, Jeena Shah at the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) told me, when the nation that uses DU refuses to identify locations targeted. Contamination enters soil and water. Contaminated scrap metal is used in factories or made into cooking pots or played with by children.

CCR and Iraq Veterans Against the War have filed a Freedom of Information Act Request in an attempt to learn the locations targeted in Iraq during and after the 1991 and 2003 assaults. The UK and the Netherlands have revealed targeted locations, Shah pointed out, as did NATO following DU use in the Balkans. And the United States has revealed locations it targeted with cluster munitions. So why not now?

"For years," Shah said, "the U.S. has denied a relationship between DU and health problems in civilians and veterans. Studies of UK veterans are highly suggestive of a connection. The U.S. doesn't want studies done." In addition, the United States has used DU in civilian areas and identifying those locations could suggest violations of Geneva Conventions.

Iraqi doctors will be testifying on the damage done by DU before the Tom Lantos Human Rights Commissionin Washington, D.C., in December.

Meanwhile, the Obama Administration said on Thursday that it will be spending $1.6 million to try to identify atrocities committed in Iraq . . . by ISIS.

Stop Bombing Iraq and Syria!

by Debra Sweet        ISIS = Bad     U.S. War for Empire = Even Worse!     Friday October 10, World Can't Wait brought the message of NO War on Iraq & Syria when Barack Obama spoke in San Francisco.  Press Coverage of Protests in San Francisco Outside of Obama Fundraiser  

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