The U.S. ambassador has dedicated himself to recruiting Arab death squads to fight in Syria.
Syria: The Next Humanitarian War?
By Luis Gutiérrez Esparza
Translated By Arie Braizblot
30 November 2011
(name redacted because he's a complete asshole), an independent journalist that works in Washington, D.C., columnist for several important newspapers, websites and news agencies and an analyst og security and defense issues at Fox News, BBC and Al-Jazeera, among other international news outlets, reported that the U.S. ambassador to Syria, Robert S. Ford, has gone to work on recruiting Arab death squads who are integrated with militants from al-Qaida in Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen and Chechnya, to fight security forces in Syria.
Again, geopolitical and geostrategic interests win over alleged ideological differences, which would make al-Qaida one of the worst enemies of the United States. Just as Washington trained and financed Osama bin Laden and his holy warriors to launch them against the Soviets in Afghanistan and later against the Russians in the Caucasus, now it doesn’t hesitate to take advantage of the same situation in Syria.
Between 2004 and 2006, Ford served as political counselor at the U.S. embassy in Iraq. Ambassador Ford served under John Dimitri Negroponte, who was previously the U.S. ambassador to Honduras between 1981 and 1985, a period in which he was a key figure in organizing the Nicaraguan contras and supporting death squads commanded by Roberto d’Aubuisson. Negroponte entrusted Ford with implementing the Salvadorian option in Iraq to quell the insurgency against the American occupation.
Today, as Syrian ambassador, Ford pledges loyalty to the Salvadorian option and organizes fundamentalist death squads, which lay the groundwork for public insurrection and Washington and NATO’s upcoming humanitarian war. The strategy is so obvious that the entire world should take notice, in the absence of the efficient work of propaganda and misinformation by the large Western media outlets.
Dwight D Eisenhower: in 1961 the retiring president warned fellow Americans of the danger in allowing too close a relationship between politicians and the defence industry.
War drums are beating for Iran. But who's playing them?
guardian.co.uk, Tuesday 6 December 2011 11.06 EST
In the 14th century there were two pandemics. One was the Black Death, the other was the commercialisation of warfare. Mercenaries had always existed, but under Edward III they became the mainstay of the English army for the first 20 years of what became the Hundred Years war. Then, when Edward signed the treaty of Brétigny in 1360 and told his soldiers to stop fighting and go home, many of them didn't have any homes to go to. They were used to fighting, and that's how they made their money. So they simply formed themselves into freelance armies, aptly called "free companies", that proceeded around France pillaging, killing and raping.
One of these armies was called the Great Company. It totalled, according to one estimate, 16,000 soldiers, larger than any existing national army. Eventually it descended on the pope, in Avignon, and held him to ransom. The pope made the mistake of paying off the mercenaries with huge amounts of cash, which only encouraged them to carry on marauding. He also suggested that they move on into Italy, where his arch-enemies, the Visconti, ran Milan. This they did, under the banner of the Marquis of Monferrato, again subsidised by the pope.
The nightmare had begun. Huge armies of brigands rampaging through Europe was a disaster second only to the plague. It seemed as if the genie had been let out of the bottle and there was no way of putting him back in. Warfare had suddenly turned into a profitable business; the Italian city states became impoverished as taxpayers' money was used to buy off the free companies. And since those who made money out of the business of war naturally wished to go on making money out of it, warfare had no foreseeable end.
Wind forward 650 years or so. The US, under George W Bush, decided to privatise the invasion of Iraq by employing private "contractors" like the Blackwater company, now renamed Xe Services. In 2003 Blackwater won a $27m no-bid contract for guarding Paul Bremer, then head of the Coalition Provisional Authority. For protecting officials in conflict zones since 2004, the company has received more than $320m. And this year the Obama government contracted to pay Xe Services a quarter of a billion dollars for security work in Afghanistan. This is just one of many companies making its profits out of warfare.
unhappycamper comment: In 1954 President Eisenhower said:
"Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or business man from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
President Dwight D. Eisenhower, 1954
The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, Volume XV - The Presidency: The Middle Way
As Iraq and Afghan wars end, costs mount on pace to rival Vietnam
By Chris Adams | McClatchy Newspapers
Posted on Monday, December 5, 2011
WASHINGTON — The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan may be winding down, but the long-term costs of caring for those wounded in battle is on path to rival the costs of the Vietnam War.
While Vietnam extracted a far higher death toll — 58,000 compared with 6,300 so far in the war on terror — the number of documented disabilities from recent veterans is approaching the size of that earlier conflict, according to a McClatchy analysis of Department of Veterans Affairs data.
The data, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act and detailing all disability payments to veterans of all wars, show that veterans leaving the military in recent years are filing for and receiving compensation for more injuries than did their fathers and grandfathers.
Compensating veterans for those injuries is the duty of the VA. The department has long been guided by the words of President Abraham Lincoln, who vowed "to care for him who shall have borne the battle, and for his widow and his orphan."
unhappycamper comment: I like to think the Veterans Administration will do the correct thing, but the nutbags running the Greedy Old Party like to protect their owner's tax cuts.
The frantic efforts by the senators to come up with pretenses for escalating the situation are obvious. They regurgitate the old alarmist warnings with frightening passion.
Pretenses for War
Junge Welt, Germany
By Werner Pirker
Translated By Ron Argentati
3 December 2011
The stranglehold is getting tighter. On Friday the U.S. Senate unanimously approved increased sanctions against the Iranian central bank. That was too much for even the White House, where it is feared the action could have a negative effect on oil prices and the U.S. economy. In addition, Washington fears that such an extreme step could weaken the international front against Iran's nuclear program.
None of these worries made any impression on the 100 senators. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid said, “Iran’s actions are unacceptable and pose a danger to the United States and the entire world.” He added that an Iran with nuclear arms outweighed the reservations about oil prices. That means, to paraphrase Vladimir Ilyich Lenin, that American capitalists now don't want to sell Iran the rope with which they intend to lynch it. These business interests, those business interests, there is still the matter of principles.
The list of transgressions laid out by Reid reads as follows: “Iran supports terrorist groups, arms the killers of American soldiers, lies about its nuclear program, violates its citizens' basic rights and threatens Israel's security.” The frantic efforts by the senators to come up with pretenses for escalating the situation are obvious. They regurgitate the old alarmist warnings with frightening passion.
The fact that national liberation movements such as Hamas or Hezbollah appear on terrorist organization lists in Washington and Brussels is, of course, nothing new. Support for national resistance to military occupation is branded as anti-American crime, while at the same time, the senators ignore the question of what right the United States has to kill innocent people in a foreign country and then expect to be granted immunity from prosecution. And that's apart from the fact that no Iranian claims about its nuclear program could be shown as lies. If sanctions had been placed on the United States as a result of the lies it told to justify its military aggression, the whole country would be a wasteland by now.
Vietnam Weapons Of War: Over 42,000 Killed By Leftover Mines, Bombs
12/ 4/11 11:51 PM ET
HANOI, Vietnam — Vietnam's prime minister says more than 42,000 people have been killed by bombs, mines and ordnance left from the Vietnam War, and more continue to die 36 years after the war ended.
Nguyen Tan Dung told a mine action donors' conference Monday that more than 62,000 others have been wounded by accidental explosions of weapons from the war.
U.S. Ambassador David Shear told the conference that the United States has provided $62 million to help Vietnam deal with "this painful legacy."
The U.S. Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund says more than 350,000 tons of land mines and explosives remain scattered across the country.
Global security firm hires retired Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe
Published: 12:00 AM, Sun Dec 04, 2011
A staff report
The global security firm IEM has selected retired Maj. Gen. Richard Rowe to be vice president of response and defense.
At Fort Bragg, Rowe was 18th Airborne Corps plans officer during the first Persian Gulf War and 82nd Airborne Division assistant commander for operations.
Since January, Rowe has managed IEM's catastrophic response and recovery planning at the federal and regional levels. In his new role, he will also assume leadership of IEM's technical, analytical and operational support to the defense industry.
During his 37-year military career, Rowe has held senior leadership positions for the U.S. Forces, Joint Force Headquarters-National Capital Region, U.S. Northern Command and Army Training and Doctrine Command.
JSF's Build And Test Was 'Miscalculation,' Adm. Venlet Says; Production Must Slow
By Richard Whittle
Published: December 1, 2011
WASHINGTON: Fatigue testing and analysis are turning up so many potential cracks and "hot spots" in the Joint Strike Fighter's airframe that the production rate of the F-35 should be slowed further over the next few years, the program's head declared in an interview.
"The analyzed hot spots that have arisen in the last 12 months or so in the program have surprised us at the amount of change and at the cost," Vice Adm. David Venlet said in an interview at his office near the Pentagon. "Most of them are little ones, but when you bundle them all up and package them and look at where they are in the airplane and how hard they are to get at after you buy the jet, the cost burden of that is what sucks the wind out of your lungs. I believe it's wise to sort of temper production for a while here until we get some of these heavy years of learning under our belt and get that managed right. And then when we've got most of that known and we've got the management of the change activity better in hand, then we will be in a better position to ramp up production."
Venlet also took aim at a fundamental assumption of the JSF business model: concurrency. The JSF program was originally structured with a high rate of concurrency -- building production model aircraft while finishing ground and flight testing -- that assumed less change than is proving necessary.
"Fundamentally, that was a miscalculation," Venlet said. "You'd like to take the keys to your shiny new jet and give it to the fleet with all the capability and all the service life they want. What we're doing is, we're taking the keys to the shiny new jet, giving it to the fleet and saying, 'Give me that jet back in the first year. I've got to go take it up to this depot for a couple of months and tear into it and put in some structural mods, because if I don't, we're not going to be able to fly it more than a couple, three, four, five years.' That's what concurrency is doing to us." But he added: "I have the duty to navigate this program through concurrency. I don't have the luxury to stand on the pulpit and criticize and say how much I dislike it and wish we didn't have it. My duty is to help us navigate through it."
“It’s a brigade without bullets. It’s an air wing without enough trained pilots. It’s a paper tiger,” Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said about the automatic defense cuts.
Pentagon vows to keep defense industry healthy
By Andrea Shalal-Esa
NEW YORK | Fri Dec 2, 2011 2:27am IST
(Reuters) - Further massive cuts in U.S. defense spending triggered by the failure of lawmakers to cut deficits would emasculate the U.S. defense industrial base, a senior Pentagon official said on Thursday.
The Defense Department was already doing its share to reduce federal deficits and Congress should redouble its efforts to solve the nation's fiscal crisis, Brett Lambert, U.S. deputy assistant defense secretary for manufacturing and industrial base policy, told an investor conference.
"We cannot have a strong defense without a strong national economy," Lambert said. "But we will not solve this problem on the back of the Defense Department or on the defense industry."
Lambert is the latest senior Pentagon official to speak out against the dramatic consequences of $600 billion in additional defense spending cuts triggered after a bipartisan congressional committee last week failed to strike a deal to cut $1.2 trillion in federal spending by its November 23 deadline.
unhappycamper comment: Over at defencenews.com, the headline is DoD Official: Sequestration Is 'Fiscal Castration'.
Marine Aircraft Plans in Peril as Tiltrotor Costs Soar
By David Axe
December 1, 2011 | 6:48 pm
The cost for the Marines to fix and fly their full fleet of V-22 tiltrotors has grown by nearly two-thirds over just four years, according to a Pentagon estimate. In 2008, the Defense Department calculated the “lifetime” cost of operating 360 V-22 Osprey transports at $75 billion over roughly 30 years. Today the figure is more than $121 billion — a 61-percent increase.
The rapidly escalating bill could could not come at a worse time for the Marines and Osprey-makers Bell and Boeing. The Marines are struggling to pay for an ambitious, carefully coordinated aviation modernization plan, elements of which have begun to unravel all at the same time. And that’s not even taking into account the looming prospect of deep defense cuts.
Bell and Boeing, meanwhile, are hoping to convince the Pentagon and foreign governments to order more V-22s, providing years of work at the companies’ factory in Amarillo, Texas.
The V-22, which takes off like a helicopter but cruises like an airplane thanks to its rotating engine nacelles, has been controversial since development began nearly 30 years ago. Several early models of the Osprey crashed during testing, killing 30 people. A redesigned version, though safer, still crashes or burns at a rate far higher than the Marines like to admit.
Border closure halts return of Canadian military gear
By Lee Berthiaume, Postmedia News November 30, 2011
OTTAWA — Hundreds of sea containers stuffed with military gear that were supposed to be returning to Canada are instead languishing at an undisclosed location in Afghanistan because of Pakistan's decision to close its border to NATO, a military spokesman said Wednesday.
Lt.-Cmdr. John Nethercott said the border closure isn't expected to affect the military's imminent withdrawal from Kandahar, though he acknowledged there could be complications if Pakistan doesn't reopen its borders soon.
"We're assessing the situation," he said. "At this point, there's no impact on our withdrawal of personnel and no immediate impact on our efforts to repatriate equipment back to Canada by land and sea."
The containers being held in transit in Afghanistan are not at the Kandahar Airfield, he added, though he would not say where they are. It's likely they are close to the Afghan-Pakistan border.
unhappycamper comment: I will refrain from posting the helicopter-on-the-embassy-roof photo.
Commentary: Tragedy sprung from Westmoreland's arrogance
Posted on Friday, December 2, 2011
By C.W. Gusewelle | The Kansas City Star
While clicking through the TV channels one afternoon not long ago, I happened by pure accident upon a lecture by military historian Lewis Sorley, author of a book titled “Westmoreland: The General Who Lost Vietnam.”
And having a particular interest in what Sorley, a retired Army lieutenant colonel, had to say, I stayed with the program to its end.
In summary, his thesis was that while other prominent players were in part culpable — President Lyndon Johnson and Defense Secretary Robert McNamara among them — it was Westmoreland’s arrogance, self-celebration and willful misstatement of fact that disillusioned the public, cost support for the war and led in the end to a thinly disguised defeat.
But Westmoreland had not staged the mass jump and invited the nation’s press only to be humiliated by a bit of bad luck with the weather.
unhappycamper comment: This REMF's take on Westmoreland: Westy's continued calls for 'More Troops" insured that many more would die in Vietnam. He instituted the 'body count' nonsense and the 'Five-o'clock Follies'.
I think Westmoreland was trying to channel MacAthur.
A final request from Iraq vet who took own life
Published November 30, 2011, 08:50 PM
By: Chris Bieri, Grand Forks Herald
Sean Alexander Dacus, a veteran of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, wrote out a final request Tuesday morning before fatally shooting himself in the chest outside the emergency room at Altru Health System.
According to police, the 31-year-old Grand Forks resident walked into the Altru Clinic just before 11:30 a.m. and borrowed a marker at the coffee shop.
He wrote on his arm “Do not resuscitate” and below that, “Donate organs please,” a police source said. To the right of those lines, he wrote “A-,” which police believe was his blood type.
Alone, Dacus sat on park bench outside between the clinic and emergency room and shot himself in the chest with a .380-caliber handgun. Police believe he was not targeting Altru or any person.
Alarming Rise in Sexually Mutilated US Troops in Afghanistan
by Bill Berkowitz | November 29, 2011 - 9:39am
How much is a penis worth? Actuarially speaking that is. More or less than a thumb or a toe? More or less than an arm or a leg? While these questions are not on the minds of most Americans, the Department of Veterans Affairs has been forced to confront them because of the changing nature of combat injuries in Afghanistan. And, more importantly, the impact of the traumatic psychological after-effects of devastating wounds to genitalia is very much on the minds of returning servicemen and women and their families.
For veterans whose physical lives have been forever altered by combat injuries, there is all of the above plus an additional set of excruciatingly difficult challenges awaiting them involving the loss of limbs, and traumatic brain disorders. And, within this group are a subset of veterans forced to deal with the loss or mangling of an organ of their manhood; the penis.
"The signature physical wound of the war in Afghanistan begins when you step on a homemade bomb," Men's Health contributing editor Bob Drury wrote in the November 2011 edition of the magazine. Drury, who has covered both the Afghanistan and Iraq wars, pointed out that, "Most of these are built with the fertilizer ammonium nitrate, an ingredient widely available throughout Afghanistan. The detonation, triggered either by a buried pressure plate or, less often, a command wire operated by a nearby enemy, instantly pulverizes the flesh, bone, tissue, and muscle of one or both of your lower limbs. In all likelihood the force of the explosion will sever the nerves in your leg or legs, and yet you will experience little pain. Surprisingly, as shock sets in and you lie in your pooling blood, you may not feel anything but a vague sense of pressure, as if a strong man were wrapping both hands around one of your calves and squeezing as hard as he could.
"In many cases, the force of the explosion also travels straight up into your genital and pelvic area, blasting tiny shards of rock and dirt into your torso between your front and rear Kevlar body-armor flaps," Drury continued. "If all or part of your 'package' is not blown off by the detonation itself, the flying debris from the blast often penetrates soft tissue, leaving you vulnerable to penile, scrotal, testicular, and rectal infections. If the damage is bad enough, it could even lead to a full or partial amputation of your genitals."
General Martin Dempsey highlighted cyber warfare as one of the most pressing threats facing the US and its allies
US faces more threats than decade ago, warns head of its military
guardian.co.uk, Monday 28 November 2011 14.15 EST
The most senior figure in the US military has warned that the number of threats facing his country and its allies have increased over the last decade and that the armed forces must be kept strong to fight back.
In his first speech since taking over as chairman of the joint chiefs of staff, General Martin Dempsey told an audience in London on Monday that meeting the new challenges in a time of austerity would require a transformation in military thinking.
He highlighted the cyber threat as one of the most pressing, and said more needed to be done to counter the dangers online.
"Our traditional alliances and partnerships around the world are the stable platform on which we will confront these challenges," he said. "Yet it cannot be lost on us that we now face known and unknown security challenges in the context of a new fiscal reality.
Women's rights in Afghanistan abysmal after long, costly war
By Neil Swanson, Vancouver Sun November 29, 2011 1:00 AM
I wish someone in Stephen Harper's government could explain definitively, what the Canadian mission in Afghanistan was attempting to accomplish.
When we finally pull out, 159 young men (to date) will have sacrificed their lives. And according to one government report, it will have cost $18.1 billion dollars. And for what?
It sure wasn't for a fair, democratic and just society.
What we have is a government that allows a barbaric judicial system to imprison women for being sexually assaulted or raped, while the offender is totally exonerated of any crime.
Member since Wed Mar 16th 2005
MA, trotting towards fascism
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