United for Peace of Pierce County, WA - We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy.

BOOKS: How much should historians 'think'?

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Samuel Moyn, a former student of Hayden White who is now a professor of "law and history" at Harvard, recently reviewed some of the latest skirmishes in the longstanding struggle to determine the proper role of narrative in history.  --  Among other things, he put Bill Gates, with his half-baked ideas about how "big history" should be taught, in his place:  "Apart from the fact that Gates’s scientism sacrifices the critical perspective that humanists have learned to maintain since their disastrous nineteenth-century dalliance with biology and other natural sciences, the trouble with massive expansions of the time line, even just to the totality of human history, is simple:  it forces historians to become scientists, effectively converting their discipline into what is already somebody else’s job.  --  Gates’s big historians already exist:  they are called physicists."[1] ...

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NEWS: 'There’s a war going on in Iraq' -- 'Ramadi could fall to ISIS'

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As Iraqi Prime Minister Haider al Abadi met in Washington, D.C., with President Barack Obama and Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, Islamic State fighters seized three villages outside Ramadi, the capital of Anbar province, and pressed into the city of half a million souls, McClatchy Newspapers reported.[1]  --  Ramadi is "one of the few population centers in Anbar still under government control," Mitchell Prothero and James Rosen noted.  --  Nancy Youssef of the Daily Beast said that the developments "upend[ed] the momentum that the U.S.-led military coalition seemed to have just days ago, and threaten[ed] to shatter an already delicate recent power shift that both the U.S. hoped to exploit."[2]  --  CNN reported statements that Ramadi could fall to ISIS.[3]  --  "At least 150,000 people have already fled since Wednesday morning, causing huge traffic jams on the roads leading outside the city, according to Essawi," the deputy head of the Anbar Provincial Council, Hamdi Alkhshali, Arwa Damon, and Jethro Mullen said....

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NEWS: 'Out of control' mayhem and revenge killing follow liberation in Tikrit

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As was widely anticipated, there have been vicious revenge killings by Shiite militias involved in retaking the city of Tikrit, Iraq, from the hands of the Islamic State as well as looting and burning of houses by uncontrollable mobs, Reuters reported Friday.[1]  --  Iranians were also involved in the fighting, and one Iranian fighter involved in the final assault was said to exult that "Iran and Iraq are one state now."  --  Ned Parker's article concludes with a detailed, unusually graphic 600-word account of the lynching of a prisoner by Iraqi federal police and Shiite paramilitaries that took place on Wed., Apr. 1....

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ANALYSIS: Why the Iraqi campaign to retake Tikrit has stalled

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The three-week-old Iraqi effort to retake Tikrit from the hands of the Islamic State has stalled due to heavy casualties ("at least 1,000 Shiite militiamen died in the early days of fighting") and fear at high levels of the Iraqi government that victory will "unleash the militias," known for "hav[ing] terrorized the local Sunni population, pillaging houses, and raping women," McClatchy Newspapers reported Friday.[1]  --  Mitchell Prothero quoted an unnamed U.S. military officer who said the difficulties encountered in Tikrit cast doubt on the much-bruited plans to recapture Mosul:  --  "'If the Iraqis can’t retake two square miles of a town they’ve had surrounded for weeks, how can anyone expect they’ll be better off fighting house to house in a place the size of Mosul, with almost 2 million residents?' he said, asking that he not be identified because he hoped still to win a contract to help train Iraqis.  --  'I’m not sure they will ever be capable of doing it without a bloodbath.  --  It would be an enormously complex operation for the American military, and these guys aren’t even close to ready.'" ...

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BACKGROUND: Reflections on the significance of ISIS rule in the city of Hit

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On Tuesday Patrick Cockburn, the author of a recent book on the rise of the Islamic State, a.k.a. ISIS or ISIL, reported on how the Iraqi city of Hit, pop. 100,000, was taken by ISIS in less than 24 hours on Oct. 4, 2014.[1]  --  According to a pseudonymous informant who recently left the city, the takeover started at 4:00 a.m. with a bomb at a key checkpoint, and ended about 5:00 p.m. the same day when the last two resisting police stations gave up.  --  Cockburn's piece is accompanied with a map showing how the Islamic State's control now extends over an area 500 miles from east to west and more than 300 miles from north to south, approximately the size of the British Isles.  --  COMMENT:  Reading this piece sent me looking through the books about the Iraq war I've accumulated over the years.  --  I didn't find anything of note about the city of Hit, but I did find myself browsing through Operation Iraqi Freedom, a hardcover celebration of the U.S. military victory over Saddam Hussein's Iraq that NBC News published on Sept. 1, 2003.  --  NBC News's book is 238 pages long.  --  It's a handsome volume that comes with a full-length DVD and originally went for $29.95.  --  I bought it, though, for $3.00 a couple years later at Half-Price Books.  --  Now it can be purchased for $0.01 from eleven used book dealers on the Amazon.com website.  --  Seven glossy pages are devoted to listing the names of "the soldiers and journalists who died in Operation Iraqi Freedom between March 21 and April 14, the period covered by this book."  --  I counted 177 names.  --  No Iraqis; to the people who produced this book, Iraqi soldiers and journalists were not worth naming, or even mentioning.  --  A list the names of all those killed in Operation Iraqi Freedom, presented in the same format as the list beginning with "Marine Major Jay Thomas Aubin, 36, Waterville, Maine" and ending seven pages later with "Marine Corporal Jason David Mileo, 20, Centreville, Maryland," would take up ten books the size of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  --  They will never be published.  --  If they were, perhaps in a few years you could buy them on Amazon.com for $0.10.  --  Though if you added to the list the number of violent deaths that can be attributed to the conflict begun by George W. Bush, you'd have another 200, or or more likely 300 volumes, and you might have to pay more, since there would be more volumes than there are names in the sanctimonious list produced in 2003 by NBC News.  --  A full set might cost you as much as $3.00, imagine that.  --  Toward the end of Operation Iraqi Freedom, on page 203, addresses by President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair to the Iraqi people are quoted.  --  Bush told Iraqis on Apr. 10, 2003:  "A long era of fear and cruelty is ending."  -- Blair said:  "The years of brutality, oppression, and fear are coming to an end."  --  "The speeches were broadcast with Arabic subtitles from a C-130 Hercules aircraft called Compass Call," Marc Kusnetz says.  --  Of course Bush and Blair didn't get it right, but it's interesting to note that Kusnetz didn't get it right, either.  --  In fact, Compass Call is not an aircraft, but rather "an American airborne tactical weapon system using a heavily modified version of the C-130 Hercules airframe," according to Wikipedia, and it serves to jam electronic communications.  --  In addition to Iraq, Compass Call has been used in Kosovo, Haiti, Panama, Serbia, and Afghanistan.  --  There are fourteen EC-130H Compass Calls on active duty in the U.S. Air Combat Command.  --  All of them operate out of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Arizona, where Army Private First Class Lori Piestewa, 23, Marine Sergeant Fernando Padilla-Ramirez, 26, and Navy Lieutenant Nathan D. White, 30, all of whom died in the early days of Operation Iraqi Freedom, all hailed from.  --   They'd be 35, 38, and 42 years old now, wouldn't they? if President George W. Bush had not decided "to commit American forces to war in Iraq," as Tom Brokaw puts on page ix of Operation Iraqi Freedom.  --  Lori Piestewa, a Navajo, became famous as the first Native American woman to die in combat while serving with the U.S. military, and was named as the hero of a celebrated ambush by Jessica Lynch.  --  Fernado Padilla-Ramirez had a wife and two sons, one of whom he never saw, since he was born five days after he shipped out to Iraq.  --  As for Nathan D. White, he was the first pilot killed in the Iraq war; the military said his jet was probably brought down by a U.S. Patriot missile in a friendly fire incident.  --  Said to be "modest and gentle" and "not a 'Top Gun' type," Nathan White was a Mormon who did his missionary work in Japan, spoke fluent Japanese, and married a Japanese woman.  --  She and the three children they had now live in Japan....

Last Updated on Friday, 20 March 2015 06:06 Read more...
 

NEWS: Iraq 'pauses' Tikrit offensive, citing need for air support

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While still maintaining that the victory of an Iran-backed offensive to retake the Sunni city of Tikrit from the hands of the Islamic State was imminent, Iraq's interior minister announced Monday that Iraqi security forces and Shiite militias would "halt military operations in Salahuddin [province, where the city where Saddam Hussein first saw the light of day is located,] in order to reduce casualties among our heroic forces . . . and to preserve the remaining infrastructure," the National reported, based on reports by Reuters and AP.[1]  --  The New York Times reported something a bit different:  "Iraqi officials said they were pausing their offensive to call for reinforcements and to preserve property and civilian lives."[2]  --  The Times also omitted a major theme of the National 's report:  the call from Iraqi authorities for "air support from any force that can work with us against ISIL," in the words of Iraqi Deputy Minister of Defense Ibrahim Al Lami.[1] ...

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ANALYSIS: 'The West, and particularly the US, doesn’t understand Russia or Russians'

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A vatnik, Jim Kovpak would have us know, is an internet meme "representative of a certain archetypal Russian who slavishly supports the regime out of fear, hatred of others, or most often a combination of both."[1]  --  "Understand the vatnik and vatnost, his mentality, and you will understand what is going on in Putin’s Russia behind the media curtain," Kovpak argued in a blog piece that has provoked much discussion online.  --  BACKGROUND:  The notion of "the Russian soul" criticized in this article came into vogue with de Vogüé, a French aristocrat who commented on Russian culture in the late 19th century, especially in Le roman russe (1886).  --  His views gained traction because of the European enthusiasm for Tolstoy and Dostoevsky, mediated in English via the translations of Constance Garnett.  --  Dissatisfied bourgeois in France and Germany looking for an alternative to the pecuniary obsessions of capitalist Europe but unwilling to overthrow it idealized Russian spirituality and emotivity.  --  In the title of Hermann Hesse's Steppenwolf can be seen an echo of this admiration, and Nietzsche, in his last active years, exalted Dostoevsky as "a deep man, who is ten times correct to think little of the superficial Germans"; he saw Russia as an escape from Europe's "crisis of nihilism."  --  Mme Chauchat, the Russian from Daghestan who fascinates Hans Castorp in Thomas Mann's The Magic Mountain (1924), shows that the notion survived the Bolshevik Revolution.  --  In fact, Bolshevism was often interpreted through the lens of "the Russian soul" as a demonic force, a perversion of the Russian soul, both in Nazi Germany and among Anglo-American élites.  --  In post-Stalinist period the neo-Romantic vision of "the Russian soul" receded, but as Kovpak points out, the present crisis is causing it to make a comeback....

Last Updated on Monday, 09 March 2015 05:51 Read more...
 

NEWS: Iran takes lead in helping Iraq battle ISIS

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Iran, not the United States, is taking the lead in combatting the Islamic State inside Iraq.  --  At the moment, Iran is said to be guiding Iraq in a methodical Iraqi campaign to retake the city of Tikrit, the birthplace of Saddam Hussein, Reuters reported Wednesday.  --  "Tehran, rather than Washington, is now playing a more important role on the battlefield in a war that sees both Iran and the United States supporting the same side against a common foe," Thaier al-Sudani said.[1]  --  And the Iranian general playing the greatest role is the leader of Iran's Quds, "which Washington considers a banned terrorist organization responsible for training and arming Shi'ite militants across the Middle East."  --  On Tuesday, Military Times reported that "Reports suggest Iranian military officers, Iranian-backed Shiite militias, and Iranian artillery units are operating on the ground alongside Iraqi regular army forces."[2] ...

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ANALYSIS: Plan to retake Mosul from ISIS viewed skeptically

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Plans to retake Mosul from ISIS are unlikely to be carried out because Shiite troops won't fight to reconquer a Sunni city and a Sunni city is unlikely to welcome such a liberation, according to anonymous military sources quoted by The Daily Beast.  --  There is, moreover, no sign of a single Sunni brigade in Iraq yet, though eight brigades are thought by CENTCOM to be needed for a successful Mosul campaign.  --  In addition, ISIS forces are well entrenched there and will fiercely defend the city they conquered last summer, Nancy Youssef said.  --  "'They will fight to the last drop of blood defending Mosul, and for them this battle could define their existence.  --  Losing Mosul means a final defeat for Islamic State in Iraq,' a retired army general living in Mosul told Reuters last month," she reported.[1]  --  The techniques that worked to win in Kobani virtually destroyed that city and depended on its near-total evacuation; applying them to Mosul would cause massive civilian casualties and outrage in the Arab world, according to Derek Harvey, director of the University of South Florida Global Initiative for Civil Society and Conflict, and a former adviser to former Iraq commanders Gens. Dave Petraeus and Raymond Odierno.  --  COMMENT: The briefing about the supposedly upcoming campaign came in the context of the White House's three-day conference on "Confronting Violent Extremism," suggesting that it was probably a PR operation.  --  After all, there is no military incentive for those organizing such a campaign to discuss its nature and timing truthfully in public.  --  Unsurprisingly, the Pentagon official briefing reporters anonymously "cautioned that the timetable for mounting the offensive to retake Mosul could change if more time was needed to prepare the Iraqi forces for the attack."[2] ...

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NEWS: US releases DoD report on Israel's secret nuclear weapons program

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In an unusual development with major implications, the U.S. government has made public an unclassified but heretofore unreleased 1987 report by the Department of Defense that describes Israel's work on a hydrogen bomb, Courthouse News reported Thursday.[1]  --  Grant Smith, a researcher who sued to make the report public, explained the significance of the report:  "It's our basic position that in 1987 the Department of Defense discovered that Israel had a nuclear weapons program, detailed it, and then has covered it up for 25 years in violation of the Symington and Glenn amendments, costing taxpayers $86 billion."  --  (BACKGROUND:  Sen. Symington's amendment to the Foreign Assistance Act of 1961, which is still on the books, bans most U.S. aid to countries trafficking in nuclear technology outside international safeguards, and Israel has refused to sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty.  --  Sen. Glenn's 1977 amendment calls for an end to aid to countries that import nuclear reprocessing technology.)  --  Smith contends that because of these amendments more than $80 billion of the aid that has been given to Israel in the years since 1987 has been illegal, and that this was able to take place only thanks to gag orders that threaten U.S. security-cleared government agency employees and contractors who disclose that Israel has a nuclear weapons program with punishment.  --  That Israel has a sophisticated nuclear weapons program is an open secret; in a piece published Saturday, Smith noted that 64% of Americans already know that Israel has nuclear weapons.[2]  --  But as recently as December 2014, the Department of Defense was asserting in federal court that only Israel could release the report that has just been released, probably because of the implications of the admission for aid to Israel.  --  Grant Smith concluded, sardonically:  "On the eve of Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu’s visit to Congress and AIPAC to thwart a diplomatic deal over NNPT signer Iran’s civilian nuclear program, the report provides interesting reading to Americans tiring of U.S. government corruption on this important foreign aid law and the non-proliferation regime."  --  COMMENT:  This information demonstrates the highly selective nature of American anti-proliferation efforts.  --  It also illustrates the highly selective nature of what American mainstream media publish about Israel.  --  So far U.S. mainstream media has not breathed a word of these developments, though Russian media and Iranian media have highlighted them.  --  Mark Gaffney, the author of Dimona: The Third Temple, on Israel's nuclear weapons program, said that "one has to admire the timing of the release which, I suspect, was ordered by the White House." ...

Last Updated on Monday, 16 February 2015 00:06 Read more...
 

VIDEO: Patrick Cockburn on the Islamic State

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In a recent appearance promoting his new book, The Rise of Islamic State: ISIS and the New Sunni Revolution (Verso, 2015), published Tuesday, prize-winning journalist Patrick Cockburn called the Islamic State (or ISIS) "one of the most extraordinary and surprising events, to my mind, in modern history."[1]  --  Speaking at a symposium, Cockburn, who will turn 65 next month, briefly recounted the sudden, "almost magical" success of ISIS in mid-2014.  --  He described the group as "a child of war," "basically a fighting machine" whose sudden victories against weak, divided enemies depend on "religious fanaticism with military expertise."  --  Its religion comes "basically from Saudi Arabia."  --  Paradoxically, ISIS combines this "regressive religion" with the latest technology, using the Internet to enhance its image.  --   Cockburn attributed the creation of the conditions that made ISIS's rise possible to decisions by Western élites that fail acknowledge their share of responsibility, that have not come up with a plausible strategy to combat it, and whose present policies are exacerbating the problem.  --  ISIS, or Islamic State, is "getting stronger," Cockburn said, calling it "an evil regime, but a fairly permanent one for the moment."  --  "I don't see them going out of business anytime soon."  --  On the contrary:  "It is becoming a fixture on the map."  --  Cockburn said he believes that the Islamic State now has more than 100,000 fighters...

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ACTIVISM: Soup Sunday in Tacoma resumes in January & February

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This year Marilyn Kimmerling of UFPPC is once again opening her home to an open house potluck every Sunday in January and February.  --  For more details about Soup Sunday, see below....

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UFPPC statement: La République is not dead after all

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UNITED FOR PEACE OF PIERCE COUNTY

"We nonviolently oppose the reliance on unilateral military actions rather than cooperative diplomacy."

LA RÉPUBLIQUE IS NOT DEAD AFTER ALL

January 15, 2015

The French Revolution of 1789 gave birth to the hope of a new way of living together: a Republic in which citizens would live according to the universal principles of Liberté, Égalité, Fraternité.  It was a truly radical revolution that expressed the utopian visions of the Enlightenment, an event of global proportions, and the movements to which it gave birth have affected the politics of every country on earth.  Its notion of the sovereignty of the people was far more radical than anything seen in American history, though documents like the Déclaration des droits de l’homme et du citoyen of August 1789 were in fact influenced by Americans like Thomas Jefferson, in Paris as Minister to France at the time.  Today, though, while Left traditions in France have continued to uphold the universalist ideals of the Republic, many contemporary intellectuals look askance at the very notion of universalism.  Certainly, the history of France has often betrayed and insulted universal values, so much so that the famously pessimistic and cynical French have in recent years seemed to sink into a Slough of Despond worthy of John Bunyan’s hero.

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COMMENTARY: Je suis Charlie, but I have other names as well

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On Friday, as news of more violent deaths in France echoed through the media, Victor Grossman urged caution to those incensed by the attack on Charlie Hebdo.[1]  --  It is quite likely that many of the brave souls whose lives were brutally extinguished Wednesday morning in 11th arrondissement of Paris would think, were they still able to think, that they might be worth considering.  --  A link follows to a translation of the lyrics of the famous Mordecai Gebirtig song to which Grossman refers.[2] ...

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ANALYSIS: The U.S. is under martial law

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A retired Army lawyer who has served on defense teams for detainees at Guantanamo recently published a piece arguing that the U.S. Constitution has been suspended since 9/11 and that the U.S. has been governed under a régime of martial law justified by the Office of Legal Counsel.  --  But, argues U.S. Army (ret.) Maj. Todd E. Pierce, this justification is itself illegal and can be overturned.  --  Maj. Pierce embraces the view that ultimate power in the U.S. is now exercised by a "deep state," often called the national security state.   --  The present situation is not irreversible, he argues.  --  The solution:  "All we have to do is to demand accountability, starting with the torturers and their legal enablers, whoever they may be shown to be.   --  Demand accountability of our government for these war crimes committed by our government, or call on international organizations and foreign nations that may be willing to assert universal jurisdiction over war crimes.  --  That is what it took to bring war criminal Augusto Pinochet to justice.  --  There is no statute of limitations for war crimes, so we must not give up until torturers and enablers are held accountable for what the Torture Report has shown to be war crimes.  --  We can do no less unless we want future generations to demand of us:  why didn’t we do something?"[1] ...

Last Updated on Monday, 05 January 2015 08:44 Read more...
 

NEWS: U.S. ground troops reported fighting in Iraq

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Al Jazeera TV reported late this week that U.S. soldiers fought on the ground alongside Iraqi army troops to repel attacks by ISIS forces on al-Baghdadi in Anbar Province, Bloomberg News reported Saturday.[1]  --  A Pentagon spokesman, following the commander-in-chief, said American troops were not fighting on the ground in Iraq.  --  The Pentagon was more willing to share the news that "multiple" leaders of ISIS have been killed by air strikes, and the Wall Street Journal published the names of three leaders killed.[2]  --  Reports of American ground troops fighting in Iraq are getting little exposure in the U.S. (though Fox News Radio did report it, giving "Kurdish media outlet Shafaq News" as the source[3]), probably because of what Noam Chomsky has called the Doctrine of Good Intentions.  --  This principle of U.S. news reporting requires that only good intentions be attributed to the U.S. government and its agents.  --  As a result of its application, the U.S. public is often not informed of what all the rest of the world knows.  --  Mainstream media = muzzled media.  --  Americans are generally obliged to read foreign news sources in order to be informed about what their government is doing.  --  Examples are legion.  --  In this case, misleading the public is not compatible with good intentions, and news editors therefore often prefer to treat such news as unconfirmed information that cannot be verified, and that can therefore be ignored....

Last Updated on Sunday, 21 December 2014 07:43 Read more...
 

BOOK REVIEW: 'Worse than a defeat' -- the British fiasco in Afghanistan

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In a stinging indictment of the British defense establishment that takes the guise of a London Review of Books book review of four recent books about the war in Afghanistan, James Meek writes that at some point in the 20th century "[t]he goal of the British military establishment became to ingratiate itself with its U.S. counterpart not for the sake of British interests but for the sake of British military prestige."[1]  --  In addition, British generals engaged in "the delusional exaggeration of British military capabilities."  --  Inevitably, Meek writes, "at some point the desire to impress the Pentagon by using the Pentagon’s own resources as cover for Britain’s relatively low-budget military would conflict with America’s own interests, and end up damaging Britain’s military reputation more in Washington’s eyes than if the MoD hadn’t puffed itself up in the first place."  --  Meek explains that the British Ministry of Defense put troops in Afghanistan as a way to get out of Iraq without alienating their American ally, then "put the preservation of its long-term budget ahead of the preservation of its soldiers in the field."  --  Meek presents the American military as vastly more supple and thoughtful than the British military:  "The colonels and brigadiers aren’t envious of the American military’s budget or its technology so much as the esteem it gives to intellectual analysis, education, and the public discussion of new ideas."  --  As for the nature of the Afghan conflict, a fourth book under review disputes the notion that Afghanistan is a nation faced with an "insurgency."  --  The fighting there has more the character of "a continuing civil war."  --  The politics in Helmland Province are far too "labyrinthine" for foreigners who do not speak the language to figure out.  --  Toward the end of his long review, Meek writes:  "Afghanistan needs help, encouragement, advice, money.  --  It’s just that next time we think about military intervention in a foreign country that hasn’t attacked us, it might be worth running a thought experiment to work out at exactly which moment, in the many internecine conflicts that have afflicted the British Isles, our forebears would have most benefited from the arrival of 3500 troops and eight helicopters, and for which ‘side’ those troops would have fought." ...

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COMMENTARY: Torturers are criminals

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The best defense, we all know, is a good offense, and because no one has been held criminally accountable for clear violations of U.S. laws and treaties that were broken systematically for years by U.S. officials, the nation has been treated to a truly offensive defense of the indefensible during the past week.  --  So Eric Margolis was obliged to reiterate the obvious on Saturday:  --  "Torturers are never patriots.  --  They are criminals."[1] ...

Last Updated on Monday, 15 December 2014 07:50 Read more...
 

NEWS: Feinstein tweets rebuttal to Brennan in real time

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When CIA Director John Brennan offered a public defense of his agency on Thursday, Sen. Dianne Feinstein used Twitter to rebut him in real time, the London Guardian reported.[1]  --  The Guardian also posted all of Feinstein's tweets.  --  Her tweets included not only a link to the 525-page text, but also a #ReadTheReport hashtag.  --  "The study needs to be read," she insists.  --  BACKGROUND:  So we read it, or the preface, anyway.  --  Here's what Feinstein says.  --   Feinstein calls the document "perhaps [the most significant and comprehensive oversight report] in [the history] of the U.S. Senate."  --  She writes:  "The major lesson . . . is that regardless of the pressures and the need to act, the Intelligence Community's actions must always reflect who we are as a nation, and adhere to our laws and standards.  --  It is precisely at these times of national crisis that our government must be guided by the lessons of our history and subject decisions to internal and external review.  --  Instead, CIA personnel, aided by two outside contractors, decided to initiate a program of indefinite secret detention and the use of brutal interrogation techniques in violation of U.S. law, treaty obligations, and our values."  --  The report asserts that there were "119 known individuals who were held in CIA custody."  --  Her excuse for not making the entire report public is that seeking declassification of it "would have significantly delayed the release of the Executive Summary."  --  She expresses the "sincere and deep hope" that "U.S. policy will never again allow for secret indefinite detention and the use of coercive interrogations."  --  Feinstein also states that "it is my personal conclusion that, under any common meaning of the term, CIA detainees were tortured.  --  I also believe that the conditions and confinement and the use of authorized and unauthorized interrogation and conditioning techniques were cruel, inhuman, and degrading.  --  I believe the evidence of this is overwhelming and incontrovertible."  --  In researching the report, she says, "From early 2009 to late 2012, a small group of Committee staff reviewed the more than six million pages of CIA materials, to include operational cables, intelligence reports, internal memoranda and emails, briefing materials, interview transcripts, contracts, and other records."  --  She calls the breadth of this research "unprecedented."  --  But the committee "did not interview CIA officials," primarily because there was an ongoing judicial inquiry into the 2005 destruction of videotapes of the interrogations of Abu Zubaydah and 'Abd al-Rahim al-Nashiri (the Senate Intelligence Committee's decision to undertake its study "had its roots" in the destruction of these tapes, she said).  --  She calls the CIA torture program "one of the lowest points in our nation's history." ...

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NEWS & COMMENT: Senate torture report release a doubly nauseating spectacle

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On Tuesday the Senate Intelligence Committee finally released an unclassified summary of its report on CIA torture program carried out under President George W. Bush.  --  Politico summarized its salient points.[1]  --  Of interest is the report's finding that George W. Bush, the president who liked to call himself "the decider," "was apparently told for the first time about the details of the interrogation techniques in 2006. . . . Key Cabinet officials such as Powell and Rumsfeld were kept out of the loop about the program until September 2003."  --  COMMENT:  The spectacle of American officials evading responsibility for this atrocious episode while telling the public what they are and are not willing to discuss is almost as nauseating as the report itself.  --  Particularly obnoxious is the deluded self-congratulation of those who, like Vice President Joe Biden, think the release of the report is somehow a demonstration of American virtue.  --  President Barack Obama, meanwhile, who said in May 2014 that he believes in American exceptionalism "with every fiber of my being," indicated in a statement that he regards these events as "in the past" and has no desire "to refight old arguments."  --  But how is not holding officials accountable in this egregious case compatible with the president's constitutional obligation to "take Care that the Laws be faithfully executed" (Art. II, Sect. 3)? ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 18:47 Read more...
 

NEWS: New US military formation operational in Iraq and Syria

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This week saw not only the nomination of new U.S. secretary of defense, but also the establishment of a new military command.  --  In fact, the two events trod on each other's toes, as U.S. Army Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, the leader of the new command, had to postpone a scheduled briefing so that President Obama could have the spotlight as he announced his nomination of former deputy defense secretary Ashton B. Carter as the next defense secretary, the Washington Post reported.[1]  --  The new command, Combined Joint Task Force -- Operation Inherent Resolve, "will replace U.S. Central Command as the organization releasing information about the mission" in both Iraq and Syria, Dan Lamothe said.  --  The Post expressed uncertainty about where Gen. Terry is based, but in early November the New York Times already reported that "To oversee the American military effort, a new task force is being established under Lt. Gen. James L. Terry, who oversees Army forces in the Middle East and who will operate from a base in Kuwait.  --  Maj. Gen. Paul E. Funk II will run a subordinate headquarters in Baghdad that will supervise the hundreds of American advisers and trainers working with Iraqi forces."[2]  --  Michael Gordon and Eric Schmitt said that the new structure had to do with the Iraqi army's plans for "a major spring offensive against Islamic State fighters," with a goal of reestablishing Baghdad's control of Iraqi territory held by the Islamic State, or at least cities and major roads, by the end of 2015.  --  BACKGROUND: A "joint task force" is an ad hoc military structure; "combined" signifies that it is multinational.  --  Since WWII in the Pacific, when joint task forces were first implemented, the U.S. has created more than a hundred joint task forces, but only five of them have been "combined" forces.  --  It seems likely that American combat troops will reappear in force in Iraq in the context of this structure.  --  Already, on Dec. 1, the Pentagon announced that about 250 paratroopers from the 82nd Airborne Division would be deploying to Iraq for nine months.[3]  --  Paratroopers are quintessential combat forces, yet President Obama has repeatedly said that American forces going back to Iraq "will not have a combat mission."  --  However, U.S. special forces have been fighting in Iraq as the president has made his oft-repeated reassurances, according to many reports.[4] ...

Last Updated on Wednesday, 10 December 2014 18:45 Read more...
 
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Save Net Neutrality!

Meeting schedule

United for Peace of Pierce County meets 7:00-8:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursdays of every month at First United Methodist Church in Tacoma (621 Tacoma Avenue South).

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