Closing Thought–15Dec17

Most everyone knows that the US has been stuck in Afghanistan for almost 17 years now….and it appears that another western nation will follow in our footsteps.

France followed in our footsteps back in the 1700’s and had a revolution that got rid of a monarchy and brought about democracy and liberty….although their transition was are violent than ours….but 5 years ago they took upon themselves to go to Mali to fight terrorists  and now they are stuck…or so it would seem…..

In a recent editorial in Le Monde, French journalist Christophe Ayad draws disturbing parallels between the French military operations in Mali — which will reach their five-year mark in January — and America’s involvement in Afghanistan. At first glance the comparison is compelling, and in some important ways, accurate. Yet these two interventions present some fundamental differences that make the Afghanistan case likely more intractable than Mali’s, and give reason for optimism in France.

Ayad’s argument relates to the course of the wars and the apparent bind in which the American and French militaries now find themselves. Ayad observes that in both cases a lightning offensive gave way to a grinding counter-insurgency. In neither case can one now discern an alternative to continuing indefinitely to pay in blood and treasure to prop up governments that frequently act in ways contrary to good sense or good strategy. One can, in fact, blame those governments, as many critics do, but Ayad insists on Western militaries’ fundamental inability to do what they’re being asked to do in countries like Afghanistan and Mali. They have, he argues, neither “the mandate, the vocation, nor, finally, the qualifications for reconstructing the States in which they are intervening.” They “no longer know what to do” and have to choose between hunkering down in bunkers to prevent useless losses while becoming an army of occupation, or conducting raids to intimidate the enemy but risk accidents and ambushes like that which took the life lives of four American soldiers in Niger in October. Winning “hearts and minds” through civil-military engagements is supposed to be a third option, but, Ayad asserts, this is not really the job of soldiers, “as we saw in Afghanistan, where dozens of billions of dollars were spent for nothing.”

https://warontherocks.com/2017/12/mali-is-frances-afghanistan-but-with-a-difference/

Hopefully the French will not have to endure the decades of war….they did that back in the 50-650’s and it ended their overseas colonies for good.

That be it for me and my pen…..the that writes moves on and so shall I…..see you guys tomorrow hopefully it will be  better day….chuq

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Is This Country Addicted To War?

Almost every time the president speaks on foreign affairs he basically threatens someone.

After listening to Fearless Fosdick I had a thought……is this country addicted?  Well we are addicted to crappy news coverage……and I think we are addicted to war….why else would we be fighting in so many countries……but someone agrees with me…….

It’s been going on for so many years – Predators cruising, looking for their prey. Some attention has since been paid to the phenomenon and to the devastating effect their actions have had on their victims, but it hasn’t really mattered. The predation has only spread.

Oh, before I go any further, let me clear up one possible bit of confusion. I’m not talking about Charlie Rose, Roy Moore, Donald Trump, Harvey Weinstein, or any of that crew of predators. I’m talking about America’s robotic killers, the drones that long ago were grimly named Predators (retired this year) and their more advanced cousins, the Reapers (as in Grim…), who have taken a once-illegal American activity, political assassination, and made it the well-respected law of the land and increasingly of huge swaths of the globe.

http://original.antiwar.com/andrew-bacevich/2017/12/10/country-addicted-war/

Let me say here that I am anti-war and have been since 1972…….I truly believe that we are addicted to war…..I have seen that another question was asked by the American Conservative……who among us would support an indefensible war?

The war on Yemen has de facto support from both parties in Washington and has been enabled reliably by both the Obama and Trump administrations, but very few people seem willing to defend that policy publicly. Except for occasionally publishing propaganda pieces by Saudi government representatives, the reliably hawkish Wall Street Journal editorial page says virtually nothing on the subject. There is not much of the usual cheerleading that we are used to seeing when a U.S. client government is waging an unjust war on its neighbors. The war is simply ignored here in the U.S. for the most part, and its tacit supporters are no exception. It is understandable that there would be few people interested in publicly trying to defend the indefensible, but it is still somewhat remarkable that a war that no one can honestly justify commands so much automatic backing.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/larison/who-would-support-an-indefensible-war/

To my chagrin I find myself agreeing with a lot of what the American Conservative magazine has to say…..never did I think that was possible in the past……but these days they are making some outstanding observations…..like the most recent article in the magazine…….

“We will never accept Russia’s occupation and attempted annexation of Crimea,” declaimed Rex Tillerson last week in Vienna.

“Crimea-related sanctions will remain in place until Russia returns full control of the peninsula to Ukraine.”

Tillerson’s principled rejection of the seizure of land by military force—“never accept”—came just one day after President Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and pledged to move our embassy there.

How did Israel gain title to East Jerusalem, the West Bank, and the Golan Heights? Invasion, occupation, colonization, annexation.

http://www.theamericanconservative.com/buchanan/what-should-we-fight-for/

While Buchanan writes little that I agree with I do however like what he wrote in the above article…..

Will There Be War With North Korea?

Lots of rhetoric between Fearless Fosdick and Li’l Kim…..I am sure that everyone reading IST is well aware of the situation between the US and North Korea…..but with all the rhetoric is there anyone that thinks this will spiral beyond the rhetoric?

Looks like the Chinese are taking all the threats as the possibility of a war……why?

With a conflict on the Korean Peninsula looking increasingly possible, China is reportedly preparing. The country is said to be laying the groundwork for refugee camps for thousands of prospective migrants along Jilin province’s border with North Korea, reports the New York Times, citing a document produced by a state-owned telecom company. The China Mobile document describes recent inspections of five planned refugee camps—in the cities of Tumen and Hunchun and three villages in Changbai County—for the purposes of verifying Internet access there. Though China’s government hasn’t confirmed the plan, a local businessman tells the Times that temporary housing is already under construction on state-owned land.

The camps were ordered “because the situation on the China-North Korea border has intensified lately,” according to the China Mobile document, which was shared last week on microblogging site Weibo before it was deleted, per the Telegraph. In an exchange erased from the official transcript of a press briefing on Monday, a rep for China’s Foreign Ministry said he was unaware of any such plan, per the Guardian. But analysts say China would be foolish not to anticipate such future needs, particularly in an area that lies just 60 miles from North Korea’s main nuclear test site. The Korean Peninsula is “on the brink of war,” a Beijing specialist on North Korea tells the Guardian. “As a major power and a neighboring country, China should make plans for all eventualities.”

But maybe there is a bright light in all this craziness…..what would that be?

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson says the US is ready to talk to North Korea at any time about any subject Pyongyang wants to talk about—without preconditions. “Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want and talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table, if that’s what you’re excited about,” Tillerson said in a speech at the Atlantic Council policy forum on Tuesday, per the BBC. “Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards.” But the US has previously demanded that North Korea give up its nuclear weapons before talks begin, and it’s not clear whether that policy has officially changed, NPR reports.

President Trump’s “views on North Korea have not changed,” the White House said in a statement after Tillerson’s speech. “North Korea’s actions are not good for anyone and certainly not good for North Korea.” Tillerson said that before talks could begin, there would need to be a “period of quiet” without nuclear or ICBM tests. Reuters reports that United Nations political affairs chief Jeffrey Feltman, whose trip to North Korea last week was the first of its kind since 2011, said Tuesday that Pyongyang did not commit to talks, but they “left the door ajar” for future negotiations.

Talking is good……but will this ever make it to reality?

With North Korea sending out feelers in recent days about the possibility of direct talks with the US, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson struck a conciliatory tone Tuesday, saying the US is now also ready for talks with North Korea with no preconditions.

The White House apparently wasn’t too happy with that, and today went to a very public point of issuing a correction to Tillerson’s statement, insisting that the US very much is not ready for talks with North Korea.

White House spokeswoman Sarah Huakabee-Sanders insisted President Trump’s position on North Korea hasn’t changed,

Fearless Fosdick is a moron that will lead this country into the deep end of the pool.

To answer the question……who the Hell knows?  Since there is no direction from the State Department and a loud mouth president…….anything is possible.

Somebody Screwed Up

I wrote several posts about the deaths of 4 special ops troopers in the West African nation of Niger…..(in case you have not been watching this situation)…….

https://lobotero.com/2017/10/30/niger-wtf/

https://lobotero.com/2017/10/27/niger-more-news-more-questions/

https://lobotero.com/2017/11/20/deaths-in-niger-update/

Finally more info aboiut this attack and the deaths…..but as usual the Pentagon states the obvious……

The deaths of eight soldiers, including four U.S. soldiers, in Niger in early October could have been prevented and were the result of an improperly executed mission to collect information on high-ranking Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) militants, a new report claims.

Sources told BuzzFeed News that the deaths at the village of Tongo Tongo could have been avoided if the mission was better planned and that it is not known whether decisions were made by the soldiers or their commanders back at the base.

http://thehill.com/policy/international/364095-deaths-of-american-soldiers-in-niger-were-avoidable-report

Someone screwed up.  Seriously?  That is the best the Pentagon can do….stating the obvious is not “getting to the bottom” of this situation.

Closing Thought–07Dec17

Do Americans Remember World War One?

The quick answer would be…NO!

We are in the middle of the 100 year remembrance of that war….the Great War….The War To End All Wars….and very little mention of the war is ever uttered here in the US…..a few far between documentaries on the war but for the most part few remember the war at all.

But that may change a bit.

There is is in the process a monument to commemorate the war to be complete in 2018……

There are no World War I veterans left alive in the US, but a century after the conflict that reshaped the world, ground has broken on a new monument in Washington, DC, to the 4.5 million Americans who served.

The US entered the war in 1917 – almost three years after European powers had been bludgeoning themselves to near destruction. Some 53,000 US soldiers were killed in combat, according to the defence department, while 64,000 died off the battlefield, including deaths from the influenza epidemic. Another 200,000 were wounded.

At the time, few Americans wanted to join a conflict largely thought to be pointless and irrelevant. Despite its profound impact on what became the “American Century”, World War I remains a marginal war for many in the US.

http://www.bbc.com/news/world-us-canada-42160971

Me?  I try to keep it on the minds of my readers for I am fascinated with the war itself……how the same tactics were used over and ovber and the loss of so many lives is just staggering to me.

I am glad to see that there is someone that remembers that war and the devastating toll it took on human life…..

I must go down for the evening..,..hope all will have a good and restful night and will see everyone tomorrow on this very page…..Peace and good night…..chuq

IST’s Afghan Report–Dec 2017

First, I need to report that the Taleban is losing people to ISIS in northern Afghanistan…..

ISIS has held territory in the Jawzjam Province for months, and that appears to be continuing to grow with reports that top Taliban commanders in the province have defected to their side, allowing them to expand their hold across multiple districts.

Throughout the 16+ year US occupation, Jawzjan has been relatively stable, with only limited Taliban influxes that rarely amounted to more than skirmishes. The presence of ISIS, though well documented, had mostly flown under the radar too, with ISIS elsewhere in the country considered a bigger priority.

This seems to have changed with the new defections, as US officials are now calling attention to the ISIS growth in the area, and commanders are saying an anti-ISIS offensive across the north is to be launched in the next few days.

Such offensives have accomplished little in other parts of the country, with large body counts claimed, and Afghan officials repeatedly declaring ISIS “wiped out” only for the group to reassert itself within a matter of days after the fighting dies down.

(antiwar.com)

Plus the Northern region is teeming with crime and corruption…..

Escalating US airstrikes across northern Afghanistan have pushed Taliban forces away from the key city of Kunduz, which Taliban have actually captured at times in recent years. Officials are trying to brag about this as a big victory.

It doesn’t look like it from within Kunduz, however, as locals report that the city is every bit as troubled, and even if it doesn’t seem like the city is facing imminent takeover, crime and corruption are soaring.

Instead of fearing Taliban, locals now fear random gunmen, who rob anyoe they think has any money, and routinely kidnap people, holding them for ransom, a tactic previously common with the insurgency.

The Taliban isn’t so far from the city either, so traveling much of anywhere risks being caught in the cross-fire of ongoing military operations in nearby villages, leaving Kunduz residents effectively trapped in an increasingly insecure “secured” city.

(antiwar.com)

The Taleban has a great source of income even in poverty ridden Afghanistan….POPPIES!

Afghanistan just produced a record poppy crop despite massive $7.6 billion in U.S. counternarcotics spending since the war there began, a new report from an independent watchdog found.

The value of opium poppy produced in Afghanistan spiked from $2 billion to $3 billion from 2012 to 2013, according to a brief released Tuesday from the Special Inspector General for Afghanistan Reconstruction.

https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/10/21/afghan-poppy-crop-reaches_n_6021814.html

The logical reaction to this source of revenue for the Taleban would be to use Agent Orange and wipe out their crops, right?  War on Drugs 101…eliminate the source.  And then just recently I read a story about this problem…..

Opium unifies the enemies of American interests in Afghanistan. Poppy cultivation feeds power to the Taliban, drug lords, and corrupt officials. That power grew dramatically in 2017 — with production up 87 percent in one year to 9,000 metric tons, according to the latest report by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime.

On Aug. 21, President Donald Trump announced that U.S. policy in Afghanistan will now serve American interests without pre-established time or troop limits. “Conditions on the ground — not arbitrary timetables — will guide our strategy from now on…. We will fight to win.” However, he also noted: “Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country. But strategically applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace.”

Kill All the Poppies

Now it would seem that somewhere in the Pentagon there was one little guy that  raised his hand and said…”why not eliminate their crop”?

I cannot believe that after 16 years and the Afghans are still capable of raising a record crop of poppies….does anyone in the Pentagon have a brain?

And then there is China and their role in Afghanistan……..

Soon after his inauguration as President of Afghanistan in 2014, Ashraf Ghani paid a trust-building visit to China. During his trip, Ashraf Ghani maintained that China is a “strategic partner of Afghanistan in the short term, medium term, long term and very long term.”

Three years later, President Ghani met his Chinese counterpart on the sideline of 17th Shanghai Cooperation Organization Summit in Astana, Kazakhstan privately for fifteen minutes. A confident Xi Jinping assured Ghani that the People’s Republic of China decided to send Wang Yi; the foreign minister to Kabul in order to talk upon bilateral issues, including peace with Pakistan. Utilizing its unique regional geopolitical leverage on all actors, China is trying to take all the credit in the Afghan peace process.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/21112017-chinas-winning-role-in-afghanistan-oped/

Honey is always better than vinegar…..maybe the Chinese should stop by DC some time and give a lesson or two….God knows what we are doing is not working…..

There is more disturbing news…….

Americans are rightly outraged over revelations that Congress spent $17 million since 1997 to pay off and muzzle victims of congressional sexual misconduct and other abuses. But the U.S. government has spent vastly more effectively bankrolling far more worse sexual atrocities in Afghanistan — in brazen violation of U.S. law.

Since 2002, the U.S. has spent more than $70 billion financing Afghan security forces, including the Afghan military and police. A law sponsored by Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.) prohibits the Pentagon from bankrolling any foreign military units if there is “credible information that the unit has committed a gross violation of human rights.”

http://thehill.com/opinion/international/362972-your-tax-dollars-fund-afghan-child-rape

Come on!  It is time to admit that Afghanistan is a f*cked up mess and come home!

IST’s Middle East Round-Up–Dec 2017

One of my major in college was Middle East East and I have been all consumed with the stupidity around the Korean Peninsula to write much about the situations in Syria and Iraq…..and the greater Middle East.

I hope to rectify my oversight here and now……

Saudi Arabia has been making nice with the shia militias in Iraq….think about that for a moment….Saudis are an extremist brand of Islam that does not approve for the shia’s beliefs…..what is this all about?

Saudi Arabia is attempting to mend its historically antagonistic relations with Iraq’s Shia, at Iran’s expense.

In early November, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched a domestic shake-up, as well regionally, ratcheting up tensions with Iran, and sabre-rattling against the Houthis in Yemen and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

However, as Riyadh seemed to stoke tensions with the region’s Shia, there had been a quieter Saudi campaign unfolding to co-opt Iraq’s Shia.

While Riyadh has maintained relations with Iraq’s Arab Sunni politicians and tribes in the past, beginning in the summer of 2017 it has forged connections with Iraq’s Arab Shia political elite as well. In hindsight, this Saudi strategy has sought to undermine the relationship between Shia Iran and its co-religionists in Iraq.

http://www.middleeasteye.net/columns/what-saudi-arabias-end-game-iraq-1098161469

Something about that situation smells.

Here’s why I ask that question…..

The Arab League is embroiled in a new cold war among its own members, largely over Iran’s role in the Middle East.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE have so much influence in the Arab League that they got through a resolution of the foreign ministers committee condemning Iran and casting Lebanon’s Hizbullah as a terrorist organization committing terrorism in Arab countries. (This attitude is not new. In 2016, as well, the Arab League called Hizbullah terrorists).

This resolution was rejected by Lebanon, Syria and Iraq as well as by the Palestinian party-militia Gaza. At least in the past, Algeria has also refused to buy into such rhetoric. The Houthi government of Sanaa Yemen demurred, as well. I can’t imagine Oman going along with this wording, since it brokers deals with Iran.

https://www.juancole.com/2017/11/arab-league-cold.html

It appears that some think that Iran is reshaping the Middle East…….

Iran has always seen itself as being in competition with the Arab states for domination of the Persian Gulf. Its ambitions were put on hold in the late 1980s, at the end of an eight-year war with Iraq that cost Iran more than a million casualties. The war ended in a military draw, but strategically it blocked Iran’s hopes for expanding its power westward. The war against the Islamic State, particularly in Iraq, has opened that door again

https://geopoliticalfutures.com/iran-reshapes-middle-east/

Most neocon analysts see the Middle East as a region being destabilized mostly by Iran but is there more to it than that?

One of America’s favorite talking points on Iran is its “destabilizing” role in the Middle East. There’s no question that Iran does things that contribute to regional instability. In particular, it frequently supports armed non-state actors that serve as alternate sources of power inside their countries—Yemen’s rebels, militias in Syria and Iraq, and Hezbollah in Lebanon.

But Iran is not the only or even the biggest contributor to Middle Eastern instability. In this area its contribution is at least matched, if not exceeded, by rival Saudi Arabia. Or, to be more specific, by one particular rival in Riyadh: Saudi Crown Prince Mohammad bin Salman (MbS). Since his father King Salman appointed him defense minister in January 2015, no single individual has done more to destabilize the Middle East or put more civilian lives in jeopardy than the future Saudi ruler. Saudi rhetoric about Iran’s “aggression” aside, it’s been Saudi aggression that has most afflicted the region on MbS’s watch.

http://lobelog.com/on-the-destabilization-of-the-middle-east/

So why all this going on in the Middle East is there a way forward?

The ongoing aggressive and violent quest for power and dominance in the Middle East between two regional rivals i.e. Saudi Arabia and Iran has rendered peace and stability into a utopian idea that evades the region. In addition, the continued meddling of foreign powers ostensibly to fight terrorism and extremism further aggravates the situation and has seemingly spawned more intractable problems than solutions to the existing humanitarian crisis. The Yemen crisis, described by UN as “the largest humanitarian crisis,” has the potential to affect the entire region. The troubling fact is that the flawed approach and myopia of policy makers and the disgusting apathy and inaction of human rights organizations remain the same.

http://www.eurasiareview.com/26112017-middle-east-in-perpetual-crisis-the-way-forward-oped/

Personally, I use to believe that the Middle East would sort out its problems and a more peaceful region was possible…….but the US elected Fearless Fosdick and now I am not so sure….I see many more years of conflict before this is resolved…..

In closing let me leave my reader with one thought……for years that idiot BiBi and a wealth of US paid agents of Israel that serve in our Congress have been predicting the dangers to the homeland by Iran……it is bullsh*t!

Iran is NO threat to the US!

In a speech Tuesday at the Wilson Center in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said the Trump administration is “committed to addressing the totality of the Iranian threat,” asking America’s allies “to join us in standing up to all of Iran’s malign behavior,” including its “support for terrorist organizations” and “active ballistic missile development program.”

He echoed President Trump’s rationale last month for decertifying the Iran nuclear deal, an Obama-era agreement that put a lid on Iran’s nuclear program by imposing a set of restrictions and a comprehensive inspections regime. Like Tillerson, Trump cited two issues that lie outside the deal itself: Iran’s support for proxy groups such as Hezbollah in Lebanon, Hamas in Gaza and Houthi rebels in Yemen; and Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.

https://www.cato.org/publications/commentary/irans-behavior-isnt-threatening-americans-dont-use-pretense-scrap-nuclear

And with the clowns running the US foreign policy they are approaching Iran from the wrong direction…..

In remarks on Oct. 13 when decertifying Iranian compliance with the July 2015 nuclear deal, US President Donald Trump called on Congress to address the “near total silence on Iran’s missile program” and prevent it from “developing an intercontinental ballistic missile.” Congress has since floated bills that would not only impose further sanctions on Iran for its missiles, but would also condition America’s commitment to the nuclear deal on Iran’s missile policies.

While the European Union and the United States differ on the nuclear deal, they have taken a common position on Iran’s missile capability, with French President Emmanuel Macron saying on Nov. 9 that Iran’s missile program should be restricted, either via negotiations or sanctions.

The Middle East is truly a tinderbox and the US policies are not making things better.
I know it is a lot to take in but your knowledge has increased 100 fold thanx to this round-up.