Archive for the ‘War on Terrorism’ Category

Krugman: Iraq War Was Fraud, Not Mistake

May 19, 2015

Paul Krugman, a Nobel Laureate and New York Times Columnist, corrects the current BS circulating about the Iraq War, namely, that if only we had known in 2003 what we know now, we would have known invading Iraq was a bad idea. That’s pure BS because we did know then most of what we know now, and we invaded anyway.

Some of you may recall a video circulated by MoveOn.org in late 2002 that warned of, among other problems, sectarian civil war between Sunnis and Shiites if we removed Saddam Hussein. Even former Defense Secretary and Vice President Dick Cheney, asked why the elder George H.W. Bush did not invade Iraq, predicted that invading Iraq would cause it to fall apart.

Here are excerpts from Krugman’s essay, followed by a link to the full essay.

Excerpts from “Errors and Lies”

by Paul Krugman, New York Times, May 18, 2015

… Thanks to Jeb Bush, we may finally have the frank discussion of the Iraq invasion we should have had a decade ago.

But many influential people … would prefer that we not have that discussion. … Yes, the narrative goes, we now know that invading Iraq was a terrible mistake, and it’s about time that everyone admits it. Now let’s move on.

Well, let’s not — because that’s a false narrative, and everyone who was involved in the debate over the war knows that it’s false. The Iraq war wasn’t an innocent mistake, a venture undertaken on the basis of intelligence that turned out to be wrong. America invaded Iraq because the Bush administration wanted a war. The public justifications for the invasion were nothing but pretexts, and falsified pretexts at that. We were … lied into war.

The fraudulence of the case for war was actually obvious even at the time: the ever-shifting arguments for an unchanging goal were a dead giveaway. So were the word games: the talk about W.M.D that conflated chemical weapons … with nukes, the constant insinuations that Iraq was somehow behind 9/11.

This was, in short, a war the White House wanted, and all of the supposed mistakes that, as Jeb puts it, “were made” by someone unnamed actually flowed from this underlying desire. …

We were lied into war.

So let’s get the Iraq story right. [The Iraq war]… was worse than a mistake, it was a crime.

[Read Entire Article]

Related Peace Pundit Posts

Prospects for Peace in Middle East: Slim to None

February 6, 2015

The Middle East will never be at peace until revenge and eye-for-eye thinking cease. Excerpts from an AP news story:

Anger, grief in Mideast at IS killing of Jordanian pilot

February 04, 2015 4:49 PM EST

Jordanians react angrily after pilot killed by ISIS

CAIRO (AP) — The horrific fate of a captured Jordanian pilot, burned to death by the Islamic State group, unleashed a wave of grief and rage on Wednesday across the Middle East, a region long riven by upheavals and violence. Political and religious leaders united in outrage and condemnation, saying the slaying of the airman goes against Islam’s teachings.

From the world’s most prestigious seat of Sunni Islam learning, Cairo’s Al-Azhar Mosque, Grand Imam Ahmed al-Tayeb said the IS militants deserve the Quranic punishment of death, crucifixion or the chopping off of their arms for being enemies of God and the Prophet Muhammad.

In Saudi Arabia, prominent cleric Sheik Salman al-Oudah cited on Wednesday a saying attributed to the Prophet Muhammad, which reserves for God alone the right to punish by fire.

In Qatar, cleric Youssef al-Qaradawi — respected by the Muslim Brotherhood and other Islamists — issued a five-page statement listing Quranic verses and sayings, also attributed to the prophet and telling Muslims to not mistreat prisoners of war.

Bahrain, a Gulf state that is home to the U.S. 5th Fleet, denounced the killing as “despicable,” and Kuwait’s emir, Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmad Al Sabah, blasted the killing as “criminal” and “vicious.”

In predominantly Muslim Turkey, President Recep Tayyip Erdogan called the killing an act of “savagery,” adding that “there is no such thing in our religion.”

Iran, which has aided both Iraq and Syria against the IS, said the killing of the pilot was an “inhuman” act that violated the codes of Islam, according to Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marziyeh Afkham.

Tunisia’s Foreign Ministry decried the “cowardly” and “savage” act. The newly elected President Beji Caid Essebsi said the pilot’s slaying was an “odious crime” incompatible with the principles of Islam and all other divine laws.

In his native Jordan, the killing of al-Kaseasbeh — who had been the subject of intense negotiations over a possible swap with an al-Qaida prisoner on death row — drew swift retribution.

The prisoner, an Iraqi woman convicted of involvement in a triple hotel bombing in Amman in 2005, was executed along with another al-Qaida prisoner at dawn on Wednesday.

The pan-Arab al-Hayat newspaper denounced the pilot’s killing with a one-word headline on the front page: “Barbarity.”

Jordanian politician Mohammed al-Rousan wept openly on national television as he described watching al-Kaseasbeh’s death, saying even people accustomed to violence could not bear to see a man burned alive.

Then, his tears turned to rage.

“Let’s use the same methods as them!” he shouted during the interview with Lebanon’s al-Mayadeen TV. “Let’s kill their children! Let’s kill their women!”

[Read Full Article]

US Drone Strikes Kill More Bystanders than Terrorists

November 27, 2014

A human-rights group examined US drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen, calculated the number of unintended civilian deaths for these strikes, and published a report. Many of the drone strikes did not even succeed at killing the person who was the intended target. The results are sobering and should fuel efforts to stop the drone strikes.

The following are excerpts from a recent article in The Guardian summarizing the report.

“41 men targeted but 1,147 people killed: US drone strikes – the facts on the ground”

By Spencer Ackerman, The Guardian, 24 Nov 2014

The drones came for Ayman Zawahiri on 13 January 2006, hovering over a village in Pakistan called Damadola. Ten months later, they came again for the man who would become al-Qaida’s leader, this time in Bajaur. Eight years later, Zawahiri is still alive. Seventy-six children and 29 adults, according to reports after the two strikes, are not.

…[F]ewer [Americans] are familiar with Qari Hussain. Hussain was a deputy commander of the Pakistani Taliban, a militant group aligned with al-Qaida that trained the would-be Times Square bomber, Faisal Shahzad, before his unsuccessful 2010 attack. The drones first came for Hussain years before, on 29 January 2008. Then they came on 23 June 2009, 15 January 2010, 2 October 2010 and 7 October 2010.

Finally, on 15 October 2010, Hellfire missiles fired from a Predator or Reaper drone killed Hussain, the Pakistani Taliban later confirmed. For the death of a man whom practically no American can name, the US killed 128 people, 13 of them children, none of whom it meant to harm.

A new analysis of the data … about drone strikes, conducted by the human-rights group Reprieve, indicates that even when operators target specific individuals – the most focused effort of what Barack Obama calls “targeted killing” – they kill vastly more people than their targets, often needing to strike multiple times. Attempts to kill 41 men resulted in the deaths of an estimated 1,147 people, as of 24 November.

“Drone strikes have been sold to the American public on the claim that they’re ‘precise’. But they are only as precise as the intelligence that feeds them. There is nothing precise about intelligence that results in the deaths of 28 unknown people, including women and children, for every ‘bad guy’ the US goes after,” said Reprieve’s Jennifer Gibson, who spearheaded the group’s study.

24 men specifically targeted in Pakistan resulted in the death of 874 people. All were reported in the press as “killed” on multiple occasions, meaning that numerous strikes were aimed at each of them. The vast majority of those strikes were unsuccessful. An estimated 142 children were killed in the course of pursuing those 24 men, only six of whom died in the course of drone strikes that killed their intended targets.

In Yemen, 17 named men were targeted multiple times. Strikes on them killed 273 people, at least seven of them children. At least four of the targets are still alive.

[Read Full Story, including charts]

Related PeacePundit Posts

Feb 11, 2014: Fight Back Against Mass Surveillance

February 9, 2014

Day We Fight Back . org

[Learn More]

US Drone Strikes Have Prominent Critics

October 22, 2013

The US program of using unmanned drone aircraft to launch missile attacks against ground targets in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and Yemen is drawing some prominent critics.

The Obama administration, which increased the use of drone-launched attacks significantly compared to the Bush adminstration, has consistently defended the use of drones as an imperfect but necessary tool in combatting terrorist organisations. For example:

Predator drone

Predator drone

People in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Yemen have protested since the drone-attacks began. Peace activists have similarly argued against the use of offensive weaponized drones on the grounds that they cause many civilian casualties and are counterproductive. How much weight do their protests carry with the administration? We all know the answer: very little.

Now, at last, other, more well-known and well-respected people and organizations are speaking out against the use of combat drones:

  • Jimmy Carter: Jimmy Carter savages US foreign policy over drone strikes. According to the former President, drone strikes and targeted assassinations abroad have seen the US violating human rights in a way that “abets our enemies and alienates our friends”.
  • Arianna Huffington: ‘Signature Strikes’ and the President’s Empty Rhetoric on Drones. Huffington writes: “The missiles from the drones might be exploding in Pakistan and Afghanistan and Yemen, but the fallout will impact us here at home for years to come.”
  • Malala Yousafzai: Malala to Obama: “Drones Fueling Terrorism”. The 16-year-old Pakistani student whom the Taliban shot for promoting educating girls, who won Pakistan’s National Youth Peace Prize and the EU’s Sakharov Prize for Freedom of Thought, and who was nominated for the 2013 Nobel Peace Prize, recently met with President Obama. Afterwards, she told reporters: “I … expressed my concerns that drone attacks are fueling terrorism. Innocent victims are killed in these acts, and they lead to resentment among the Pakistani people. If we refocus efforts on education it will make a big impact.”
  • Amnesty International: Amnesty criticizes US drone program in Pakistan. A report issued by the organization documents several civilian casualties of drone attacks in Pakistan and calls on the US to investigate those attacks and possibly to change its policies concerning the strikes. Amnesty expressed concern that the attacks discussed in the report and others may have resulted in extrajudicial executions or war crimes. Estimating civilian casualties is highly error prone, but Amnesty’s report estimates the number of people killed by drone-attacks in Pakistan to be 2,065-3,613, of which 153-926 were thought to be civilians.
  • Human Rights Watch: Between a Drone and Al-Qaeda. A report from Human Rights Watch says that US drone airstrikes against alleged terrorists in Yemen have killed civilians in violation of international law. The report examines six US targeted killings in Yemen. Two of the attacks killed civilians indiscriminately in clear violation of the laws of war; the others may have targeted people who were not legitimate military objectives or caused disproportionate civilian deaths. The report concludes that the strikes are creating a public backlash that undermines US efforts against Al-Qaeda. [Read HRW report] [View HRW video summarizing report]
Predator drone firing missile

Predator drone firing missile

Perhaps momentum is building for an international campaign to ban the use of combat drones, similar to the campaigns to ban land-mines and chemical weapons, which both won the Nobel Peace Prize.

Related PeacePundit Posts

Muslims Not Spared in Nairobi Mall Attack

September 27, 2013

Al Shabab, the Somalia-based group responsible for the Sept 21 attack in Nairobi’s Westgate Mall, tweeted as its gunmen launched the attack that they were taking care not to harm Muslims. They claimed to be letting Muslims leave the mall. Their spokespeople repeated this several times over the four-day-long siege. In an email to The Associated Press, Al Shabab’s spokesperson wrote that their jihadis “carried out a meticulous vetting process” so Muslims would not be harmed. A few witnesses reported seeing some of the gunmen briefly question people before either letting them go, taking them captive, or shooting them outright.

First of all, even if the attackers had been “meticulous” about letting Muslims escape the carnage, the attack would have been no less horrific, brutal, criminal, and cowardly. Killing innocent civilians is never justifiable, regardless of who does it or why.

However, let’s set the record straight about Al Shabab’s claims of taking care not to harm Muslims: it is false propaganda, probably intended to win sympathy from Muslims around the world. The Al Shabab gunmen did not take care. They were not meticulus. They did not spare Muslims.

The following articles and video interviews document known Muslim victims of the attack. As further bodies are identified and survivors are debriefed, this list will undoubtedly grow.

Another Muslim, Abdul Haji, a Kenyan citizen, was a major hero in helping rescue people trapped in the mall during the attack. In fact, one of the most often-seen photos to emerge from the attack shows Haji rescuing a four-year old girl who had been hiding from attackers with her mother [Read Rescue Story] [View Photo]. In the following interview, Haji recounts events as he remembers them. In the interview, he states strongly that attacking innocent civilians, especially women and children, is not Islamic. [View Interview]

Related PeacePundit Posts

The Inevitable Blowback from Combat Drones

February 26, 2013

The Associated Press reported last week that civilian casualties in Afghanistan from US drone strikes increased in 2012 over 2011.

I wonder if US Military Officials, and the President who is their Commander in Chief, ever consider the possible blowback from US drone strikes in Afganistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere.

First there is the ground-level blowback that occurs when young people in targetted areas are very quickly turned into anti-US combattants by having their relatives and friends blown to pieces by remote control.

But there also will be airborne blowback: drones deployed and launched by hostile countries or organizations. Does it not occur to US military leaders that drone technology is not the exclusive domain of the US — that it can and will be developed and deployed by other countries? For example, recently Iran brought down a US “stealth” drone — not stealthy enough apparently — and now is busy reverse-engineering it.

In the not-too-distant future, I foresee the following:

  • Drones deployed by Germany, France, England, Russia, Israel, China, Pakistan, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Turkey, South and North Korea, as well as some non-state organizations.
  • US military bases, convoys, and ships targetted by drone attacks.
  • Security teams for US officials traveling abroad having to keep an eye on the skies overhead in addition to their current duties.
  • US tourists abroad being hit by drone attacks.
  • Attacks inside the US by drones from other countries, including even supposed allies like Israel, when they locate someone in the US who they consider an enemy.

My wife and I travel a lot outside the US, including many developing countries, so I really don’t look forward to the future I’ve outlined above. But I fully expect it to come about. What is to prevent it? US military might? Not likely. It hasn’t stopped car bombings, rocket attacks, or kidnapping; why would drone attacks be different?

Recent Noteworthy Articles about Drones:

Related PeacePundit Posts

US Considers Retribution for Libya Consulate Attack

October 19, 2012

The San Francisco Chronicle recently printed an Associated Press story about the ongoing search for the perpetrators of the Sept 11 attack on the US Consulate in Libya. The article indicated that the Obama administration is considering retaliatory strikes if those who killed the US Ambassador and three other Americans can be found. [See article] [See follow-up article]

In response, I wrote a letter to the Chronicle questioning the wisdom of retribution, and suggesting that capturing the perpetrators would be more morally defensible, more effective, and less incendiary. On Thursday Oct 18, the Chronicle printed my letter. Below is the letter.

Don’t make them martyrs

Why is a “reprisal strike” the primary option under consideration (“U.S. forces on standby for reprisal strike on al Qaeda,” Oct. 16)? Since when is the United States an “eye for an eye” nation?

Why not capture the attackers and murderers of U.S. Embassy staff and put them on trial for their cowardly crimes? That would satisfy our goal of “taking them out” of action, and it would avoid making them into martyrs and alienating potential allies in the region.

—-

To that, I’ll now add: The attackers are criminals, not warriors, and should be treated accordingly.

Comments welcomed.

Combat Drones: Counterproductive and Immoral

October 7, 2012

PeacePundit has previously described the problems of the US military’s strategy of using armed drone aircraft, piloted remotely by operators half a world away and viewing the ground through a video feed, in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and elsewhere. Previous posts about drones cited press reports and other sources to substantiate the many civilian casualties caused by drone attacks.

More recent reports and articles support the argument that using combat drones to launch air-strikes is error-prone and counterproductive, not to mention immoral. The articles come from diverse sources: an active-duty US Army Major writing in the conservative Armed Forces Journal, the politically centrist Los Angeles Times and Slate, and the left-leaning Rolling Stone and AlterNet.

The Problems of Combat Drones

Related Previous PeacePundit Posts

US Military Budget Dwarfs All Other Nations’ Military Budgets

September 22, 2012

Chart from IISS.org shows that U.S. military budget dwarfs next 9 nation's budgets combined

As this chart from the International Institute for Strategic Studies shows, the U.S. military budget (often erroneously called the “defense” budget) is larger than the next nine national military budgets put together.

If we could cut the military budget significantly, we’d could fund many things that now are chronically underfunded, such as education, transportation infrastructure, environmental protection, etc.

Write your representatives in Congress and demand that this insane military budget be cut… drastically.

Related PeacePundit Posts


Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.