Closing Thought–09Sep21

We all know about this War on Terror…..but do you know what it has cost in funds and lives?

The US-led “war on terror” has killed nearly one million people globally and cost more than $8 trillion since it began nearly two decades ago, according to a report from Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

The landmark report, which was published on Wednesday, examines the tolls of wars waged by the US in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other regions where the US military is engaged in conflicts referred to as “forever wars”.

“It’s critical we properly account for the vast and varied consequences of the many US wars and counter-terror operations since 9/11, as we pause and reflect on all of the lives lost,” said the project’s co-director, Neta Crawford, in a statement accompanying the report. 

“Our accounting goes beyond the Pentagon’s numbers because the costs of the reaction to 9/11 have rippled through the entire budget.”

The report estimates that the war on terror, which will mark its 20th anniversary on 11 September, had directly killed 897,000 to 929,000 people – including at least 387,072 civilians.

https://www.middleeasteye.net/news/us-led-global-war-terror-has-killed-nearly-one-million-people

A staggering cost of lives and funds…..

Somewhere I hope that sanity will finally set in and a new direction for our foreign policy other than shoot first a hope it turns out well….and it seldom does.

(You guessed it…..there will be a post coming about the changes that are desperately needed in our foreign policy)

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Is It Money Well Spent?

Let’s just step back and take a look at just what the War on Terror has cost this country.

The War on Terror has been a money pit since 9/11.

So just how much money has been spent in the years after 9/11 attacks?

A damn good question, right?

Well hang on to your jock strap……

In the 20 years since the September 11 attacks, the United States government has spent more than $21 trillion at home and overseas on militaristic policies that led to the creation of a vast surveillance apparatus, worsened mass incarceration, intensified the war on immigrant communities, and caused incalculable human suffering in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Libya, Somalia, and elsewhere.

According to State of Insecurity: The Cost of Militarization Since 9/11 (pdf), a report released Wednesday by the National Priorities Project, the U.S. government’s so-called “War on Terror” has “remade the U.S. into a more militarized actor both around the world and at home” by pouring vast resources into the Pentagon, federal law enforcement, and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), an agency established in response to the September 11 attacks.

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2021/09/01/911-us-has-spent-21-trillion-militarism-home-and-abroad

Can you imagine what $21 trillion could have done to help the people of this country?

Beyond that let’s look at the war in Afghanistan since 9/11……

the Cost of War Project at Brown University estimates that the war in Afghanistan cost U.S. taxpayers $2.3 trillion to date and resulted in the deaths of 2,324 U.S. military personnel, 4,007 U.S. contractors and 46,319 Afghan civilians — but those costs weren’t shared by everyone.

While the American people financed the war with their tax dollars, and in some cases their lives, the top five Pentagon contractors enjoyed a boom in growth in federal contracts over the course of the war in Afghanistan. Stephen Semler, co-founder of the Security Policy Reform Institute, found that Congress gave $2.02 trillion to the top five weapons companies — Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman — between 2001 and 2021.

And between 2002 and 2020, federal funding for those five weapons companies grew by 188 percent

Top defense firms spend $1B on lobbying during Afghan war, see $2T return

Not a bad return on investment, huh?

The federal deficit runs about $3.3 trillion…..and fiscal conservatives (the hypocritical wing of our government) scream about the deficit and yet continue to fund a failed war on terror.

Just like the War on Drugs the War on Terror is a money pit and corporations profit from the misery the loss of funds for programs that aid the people of this country.

I realize that no one cares about this….it is far more important to focus on wedge issues instead on the pissing away of taxpayer funds.

When will we ever learn?

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ISIS-K?

I see the Pentagon has given the media who in turn have given the American people a new term…a new enemy…..ISIS-K.

Has anyone explained this situation adequately?

So far all I have seen and heard is the use of the acronym….

I shall attempt to help my reader understand……

The ghastly bombings at Kabul airport Thursday resulting in the deaths of 12 U.S. Marines and as of this writing, 60 civilians, are the latest in a series of especially savage terrorist attacks reportedly by the Islamic State of Khorasan Province (ISKP), the local affiliate of the Islamic State of the Middle East. The growth of ISKP faces the Taliban rulers of Afghanistan with both a threat and an opportunity.

The threat is that ISKP will attract enough Taliban defectors and foreign fighters to cause serious instability and ruin the hopes of pragmatic Taliban leaders for economic development. The opportunity lies in the fact that ISKP are feared by every government in Afghanistan’s region, as well as the United States and Europe. This gives the Afghan Taliban the chance to attract support from all of these states in their fight against ISKP.

ISKP appeared in Afghanistan and the border areas of Pakistan in 2014-15. It was founded not by Arabs sent from the Middle East (though some moved to Afghanistan later after the defeat of IS in Iraq and Syria) but by local figures and groups who adopted the name of the Islamic State to garner some of its prestige and to reflect their own international jihadi allegiance (just as previously, local groups in north Africa and elsewhere took the name of al- Qaida).

Since then, ISKP have emerged as a distinctly more ferocious and radical force than the mainstream Taliban, carrying out savage attacks on targets that in recent years the Taliban leadership have made a deliberate political decision to spare: especially schools, clinics and markets serving the Shia minority. The Taliban leadership have strongly condemned these attacks, although some analysts accuse the Taliban of benefiting from plausible deniability. In alliance with Pakistani terrorist groups, they have also conducted several major terrorist attacks within Pakistan.

Who are the Islamic State in Afghanistan?

Familiarize yourself for you will be hearing lots about this group in the coming weeks and months.

We have a new foe in the War on Terror….that should keep the funds flowing for awhile….and that is the purpose of these reports.

Look for more civilian deaths and destruction…..

And the band played on……

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How Goes The War On Terror?

We are entering our 20th year of the War On Terror….after a trillion dollars I ask….how goes the War on Terror?

Let’s look at the costs…..

The War on Terror is a military campaign launched by President George W. Bush in response to the al-Qaida 9/11 terrorist attacks. It includes the Afghanistan War and the War in Iraq, and it added $2.4 trillion to the debt as of the FY 2020 budget.

the financial cost of the war on terror

Think about what that kind of cash could do for the people of this country.

But sadly the road of war has few exit ramps.

War on Terror has added nearly $2 trillion, or more than 35%, to the U.S. debt.  It also raises the U.S. budget deficit. Defense spending is such a big chunk of the budget that there is no realistic way to reduce either without cutting it.

Here is a look at the War On Terror…..https://original.antiwar.com/scott/2021/03/02/hows-the-war-on-terrorism-going/

Keep in mind that the War on Terror  is not limited to Afghanistan and Iraq and to a smaller extent Syria….it is being “fought” in some 80 countries.

Let’s not forget the over 800,000 people who have been victims of the War on Terror….

I think it is time to declare victory and pull our troops away from the insanity and to place the War On Terror in the dust bin of history.

And I am not alone…..the Austrian Economics Center agrees…..

It’s amazing how we can become numb to circumstances with the passing of time. The U.S.-led War on Terror is nearing its twentieth year with no clear end in sight. Indeed, to many average people in the West, the perpetual violence of the War on Terrorism has become normal, and we have become indifferent.

America bombing and invading the Middle East has become a dark cliché. Nobody bats an eye. There are so many facets, so many groups, and countries involved, and so many interconnected moving parts that it’s perfectly understandable to throw your hands up and accept this whole dizzying headache as just the way things are and always will be, forever.

https://www.austriancenter.com/time-to-end-the-war-on-terror/

Let’s end this insanity!

What say you?

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War On Terror

I remember after the 9/11 attacks and the beginning of the War on Terror…..do you?

The question was posed….are we better off today than we were in 2001?

$6 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”) and the answer in most quarters is ….NO!

After all these years…the ordinances used and the people lost and we are not any better off?

But the M-IC is pushing hard to keep troops around the world as a deterrent to terrorism….is it really worth the cost….in lives and equipment?

The national security establishment is pushing against the withdrawal of American forces from Afghanistan by President Trump following almost two decades of combat. Even Republicans are warning Trump that he is repeating one of the foreign policy mistakes of Barack Obama.

One of the most astonishing recent arguments against a withdrawal from Afghanistan was made by former national security adviser H.R. McMaster, who said that terrorist groups that “pose a threat to us are stronger now” than they were before 9/11. He said the United States faces Al Qaeda and Islamic State alumni who are “orders of magnitude greater” than before and who “have access to much more destructive capabilities.”

How are we worse off than 2001? According to the Watson Institute, the war on terror has cost the United States over $6 trillion, 800,000 people have died as a direct result of the violence of these conflicts, and nearly 38 million people have been displaced or made refugees. According to the Washington Post, some 775,000 American forces have been sent to Afghanistan since 2001, and more than 2,000 of them died.

The United States poured billions of dollars into reconstruction projects in Iraq and Afghanistan under the notion that economic development would check the growth of terrorism. Yet after all this blood and treasure, one of the most senior American officials and a former combat general in the war on terror says Al Qaeda is stronger than it was before 9/11.

https://thehill.com/opinion/national-security/518204-the-truth-about-the-war-on-terror

Let’s look at another one of those made up wars that has done little…..the War On Drugs.

By contrast that “war” has been raging for damn near 50 years and about $1 trillion wasted with no end in sight….we just keep wasting money chasing some imaginary victory.

In my opinion and others as well…the War on Terror has wasted lives and money and has not accomplished a victory after $6 trillion (that is trillion with a “T”)…..

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ISIS–Wave Two

These days with the news fixated on the pandemic and then those protests it has all but forgotten about the danger of ISIS….and sadly there will be a second wave of their ascendance…….

ISIS has been beaten but not defeated….they still lurk in the shadows waiting……waiting for the next wave to begin.

Today, Islamic State barely exists in Iraq and Syria, its leader is dead and its recruits are scattered, languishing in jail or hunted throughout the Middle East and Europe.

But the threat of ISIS and of extremism has not gone away. Both on the battlefield of ideas and on the real battlefield, a second wave is certainly coming.

That wave will crash first across West Africa, where clashes between militant groups and national armies are taking place in every country of the Sahel region. The coalition has recognized this; only last month, US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo singled out ISIS attacks in West Africa and said the United States was seeking a global fund of $700 million to continue the fight against ISIS in 2020.

A second ISIS wave is lurking in the dark

I posted last month on the possibility of ISIS scoring heavy in Africa…the Sahel region to be specific…..https://lobotero.com/2020/06/08/remember-isis/

Keep in mind….ISIS maybe be out of sight….but they are far from gone the way of the dodo……

It is only a matter of time before they return to the world stage.

Now the big question will be….Will we be ready for the return?

America’s intelligence agencies risk slipping back into dangerous pre-9/11 habits, a recently departed top counterterrorism official is warning in his first public remarks on the matter.

Russell Travers, former head of the U.S. government’s hub for analysis of counterterrorism intelligence, was so alarmed that he shared his concerns with the intelligence community’s top internal watchdog in his final weeks on the job.

“I think there are really important questions that need to be addressed, and I don’t think they have been thus far,” said Travers, who ran the National Counterterrorism Center until March of this year. “And that has me worried, because I do think we could very easily end up back where we were 20 years ago.”

Travers detailed his concerns, much of which remain highly classified, to the intelligence community’s inspector general. About a week later, he was summarily ousted, he says — and the Trump administration official who fired him didn’t explain why.

https://www.politico.com/news/2020/07/09/travers-terrorism-warning-355734

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Those Terrorists Remain

Protests….Racism…..Pandemic…..all of the top stories from the MSM in the last couple of months…..even though they are out of mind of the media by no means they are gone….defeated….or any other term one would care to employ.

To illustrate this is the testimony before the House Committee on Homeland Security…..

Thomas JoscelynJune 24, 2020Foundation for Defense of Democracies3www.fdd.org•Al-Qaeda has survived the post-9/11 wars and America’s counterterrorism campaign. The group’s base has spread from South Asia into multiple other countries. Several organizations, often described as al-Qaeda “affiliates,” serve as regional branches. These branches are each led by an emir who swears his allegiance to the head of al-Qaeda. Since Osama bin Laden’s death in May 2011, that leader has been Ayman al-Zawahiri. The official al-Qaeda branches are: al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula (AQAP), al-Qaeda in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), al-Qaeda in the Indian Subcontinent,and al-Shabaab in Somalia. To thislist we can add the “Group for the Support of Islam and Muslims” (Jama’at Nusrat al-Islam wal-Muslimin, or JNIM), a wing of AQIM.Hurras al-Din in Syria is also part of al-Qaeda’s network, as are other groups based in Idlib. But al-Qaeda’s chain-of-command in Syria has been upset by a number of internal rivalries, power struggles,and arguments over jihadist strategy.2In addition, al-Qaeda works through other groups that are not official al-Qaeda branches but are nonetheless part of its web. Such groups includethe Pakistani Taliban.Still other jihadist organizations are closely allied with al-Qaeda.•ISIS and al-Qaeda remain locked in a competition for the fealty of jihadists around the globe. Much of this competition will take place at the local level, but international terrorism could play a role in the rivalry, as these groupslook to outbid one another for the affection of would-be jihadists. While there may be some cooperation between individual commanders, the two mother organizations are at odds. ISIS has developed an institutional hatred for al-Qaeda. In some areas, such as Iraq, ISIS is definitively stronger. In other areas, such as Somalia and Yemen, al-Qaeda has the upper hand. In West Africa, the two are currently close in strength, though that can change. Any assessment of relative strength in Syria is difficult due to al-Qaeda’s management problems and other factors. And an assessment of their relative positions in Afghanistan is complicated by the fact that al-Qaeda and affiliated groups areembedded within the Taliban-led insurgency. Al-Qaeda has deliberately sought to mask the extent of its operations in Afghanistan.

Click to access Thomas-Joscelyn-ISIS-AQ-testimony.pdf

Now this is a report issued by the Dept. of State……

Click to access Country-Reports-on-Terrorism-2019-2.pdf

My point is that these groups are not so much in the news these days….but they by NO means have disappeared……

Both reports are worth the read if you think that terrorism is not so much a problem these days…..

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Pakistan—Bad Partner?

The Cricket player that became the prime minister of Pakistan has had his moments but his latest statements are doing nothing to improve the views about Pakistan…..

Pakistani opposition parties criticized Prime Minister Imran Khan on Thursday after he told parliament that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden had been “martyred” in 2011 by U.S. forces.

Bin Laden, who masterminded the 9/11 attacks on the United States, was killed in a raid on his hideout in the Pakistani city of Abbottabad after eluding detection for nearly 10 years.

Pakistan was not aware of the operation, which involved U.S. helicopters flying deep into the country from Afghanistan.

“I will never forget how we Pakistanis were embarrassed when the Americans came into Abbottabad and killed Osama bin Laden, martyred him,” Khan said in his speech while recounting the lows of the relationship between Islamabad and Washington.

https://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/pakistani-prime-minister-under-fire-for-bin-laden-martyrdom-remark/ar-BB15Ye5e

For many decades Pakistan has done little to make the country free of jihadists influence…..

Pakistan remains a “safe haven” for a host of regional terror groups, including the Afghan Taliban and its integral subgroup, the Al Qaeda linked Haqqani Network, according the the State Department’s newly released Country Reports on Terrorism 2019.

“Pakistan continued to serve as a safe haven for certain regionally focused terrorist groups,” State notes in its opening paragraph on Pakistan.  “It allowed groups targeting Afghanistan, including the Afghan Taliban and affiliated HQN [Haqqani Network], as well as groups targeting India, including LeT [Lashkar-e-Taiba and Jamaat-ud-Dawa] and its affiliated front organizations, and JeM [Jaish-e-Mohammad], to operate from its territory.”

https://www.realcleardefense.com/articles/2020/06/29/pakistan_a_safe_haven_for_terror_groups_us_state_department_115417.html

The newest report shows that Pakistan is doing little to help with counter-terrorism…..

Washington’s annual terrorism report said Pakistan was doing too little to counter terrorist groups, particularly those taking aim at rival India and the dreaded Haqqani network operating in Afghanistan.

Islamabad bristled at the criticism in the U.S. State Department report, saying it has been relentless in its assistance to Washington as the United States brokered a peace deal with the Taliban, which it signed in February. At the time, the deal was touted as Afghanistan’s best chance in four decades of finding a lasting peace.

Amir Rana, executive director of the Pakistan Institute for Peace Studies, which tracks militant groups, said Friday the report is a warning to Pakistan that it needs to do more to target terrorist financing and dismantle terrorist networks if it wants to avoid being blacklisted by the Financial Action Task Force, the global money laundering and terrorist financing watchdog based in Paris.

https://www.usnews.com/news/us/articles/2020-06-26/us-report-pakistan-doing-too-little-to-counter-terrorism

Once the US troops leave what will be Pakistan’s role in the War on Terror?

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US In The Sahel

The Sahel?  That is Africa in case you were dashing for the Google button.

Image result for sahel

For years now the US has been in the region assisting local governments in their efforts to fight the specter of growing terrorism.

What got me thinking about our involvement in the Sahel was the announcement of a special envoy….

The United States has created a special envoy for Africa’s Sahel region, a State Department spokesman said on Friday, to counter rising violence from groups linked to al Qaeda and Islamic State which are expanding their foothold.

Envoy Peter Pham, started his new role earlier this week, the spokesman said. He has been serving as U.S. Special Envoy for the Great Lakes Region of Africa since November 2018.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-sahel/u-s-creates-new-envoy-position-to-counter-rising-terrorism-in-sahel-idUSKBN20T2ZJ

But are US troops necessary?

A Review of the necessity for US troops in the region is on-going…..

Facing skepticism from members of Congress about plans to alter force posture in Africa, Defense Secretary Mark Esper told members of the House Armed Services Committee that he remains committed to keeping U.S. forces on the continent.

“There are no plans to completely withdraw all forces from Africa,” Esper said Wednesday.

As part of a broader review of the force structure for the combatant commands, Esper has been considering moving forces out of U.S. Africa Command’s area of operations. Reports emerged at the end of 2019 that the department was looking at removing several hundred forces from Niger, Chad and Mali.

https://www.defensenews.com/pentagon/2020/02/26/heres-what-espers-africom-review-has-decided-so-far/

Why do we continue to fight and die in this region?  I mean our so-called NATO allies are there as well then why not let them handle the hard lift in Africa?

For Washington’s foreign policy establishment, no nation is too unimportant to be considered vital to America’s security. No territory is too insignificant for the United States to dominate. No spot on earth is too distant to station an American soldier. How else to judge the hysterical criticism of the Trump administration’s proposed military drawdown in Africa?

Despite the fiscal crisis, strategic overreach, endless war, and political division, “the Blob,” as Washington’s foreign policy community is known, refuses to consider a world where Uncle Sam does not treat every region and nation as his personal sphere of interest. Washington is determined to protect more than a score of rich allies in Europe, multiple wealthy clients in Asia, and a gaggle of Middle Eastern nations.

Roughly seven thousand American personnel are stationed across Africa, primarily in Djibouti, Niger, and Somalia. Defense Secretary Mark Esper is considering rebalancing U.S. defense resources, shifting toward containment—not that he has used that word—of China and Russia. To advance that process, last fall the Pentagon asked each regional command for its resource needs. Explained Esper: “We’ve begun a review process where I’m looking at every theater, understanding what the requirements are that we set out for, making sure we’re as efficient as possible with our forces.”

https://nationalinterest.org/blog/skeptics/americas-africa-enigma-why-us-troops-are-taking-unnecessary-risks-126031

Personally I say end this deployment of US troops…..we already have enough war in other spots why make a new one?

As the United States sensibly backs its military out of Afghanistan and considers drawing down the remaining 5,000 American troops in Iraq, it is time to review the expanded U.S. military presence in West and East Africa (~7,000 troops), particularly counterterror operations. Such a review was announced by Secretary of Defense Mike Esper in December 2019.

Our African deployments were practically invisible until October 2017, when four American soldiers died in an ambush in Niger. Suddenly Americans — including at least one U.S. Senator — realized that the U.S. military was in Africa getting the U.S. into deeper and deeper trouble.

It is time to pull back these forces. They reflect a militarization of U.S. foreign policy that has accelerated since 2001. Claims to the contrary, the military does not do these operations particularly well and there is growing evidence that they are counterproductive, generating more terrorists than they eliminate and exacerbating instability. They do nothing to counter Chinese or Russian influence in Africa, despite claims that they do. The threat they target is not a vital U.S. interest. In sum, by militarizing U.S. engagement in Africa, security assistance, training, and operations are harming U.S. security interests.

The U.S. military should end its counterterror operations in Africa

Time to end at least one armed conflict….I am sure that we will find another to replace the profits for the M-IC.

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ISIS In The Shadows

Our mash up with Iran seems to be dialing down….kinda like all other “crisis” in this era of Trump.

We are laser focused on Iran and its proxies in Iraq (BTW contrary to the idiots on the Right ISIS is not an ally of Iran)…..but problems could be brewing elsewhere…..

In an emergency session of Iraqi parliament, a bill was passed revoking Iraq’s request for US help in fighting ISIS, and calling for the government to expel US forces. The US troops may not be leaving, but they’d already suspended their operations.

Over the weekend, US officials reported that they suspended their training missions for Iraqi forces to scale up defense of their own base security. On Sunday they confirmed that the anti-ISIS mission is also suspended going forward.

While President Trump is threatening sanctions against Iraq for wanting the troops out, he seems comfortable with them not actually doing anything other than staying in Iraq for its own sake. The US command in Iraq says it is “committed” to the mission, though the mission isn’t entirely clear at this point, beyond staying and threatening Iraq with sanctions.

How many troops are required for this non-mission remains to be seen, but indications are that the US is going to keep adding troops to Iraq and Kuwait, and President Trump will react furiously to any indication that Iraq doesn’t want the occupation to continue.

(antiwar.com)

Do not take your eye off the real enemy…ISIS…..

The militants are now more skilled and more dangerous than al-Qaeda, according to Lahur Talabany, a top Kurdish counter-terrorism official.

“They have better techniques, better tactics and a lot more money at their disposal,” he said. “They are able to buy vehicles, weapons, food supplies and equipment. Technologically they’re more savvy. It’s more difficult to flush them out. So, they are like al-Qaeda on steroids.”

The veteran intelligence chief delivered his stark assessment in a London accent – the legacy of years in the UK after his family had to flee from the regime of Saddam Hussein.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-50850325

Never a good idea to overlook the obvious…..but then I am not part of the Trump foreign policy team……

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