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Routine carnage in Boston

I was browsing through my news feed yesterday morning when I ran across a story about the US bombing a wedding in Afghanistan. I thought something like “Jeez, again?”* and didn’t click through for the full story because it was so familiar. Now I can’t find it, but I think it said 30 dead. . . . → Read More: Routine carnage in Boston

From Newtown to Kabul, the sounds of freedom

Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr. doesn’t say what sounds “close-air support overhead” resembles, probably on the assumption that his audience, readers of the American Forces Press Service, do not need a description. He does say that the sounds “are often referred to as “the sounds of freedom,”” although he doesn’t say . . . → Read More: From Newtown to Kabul, the sounds of freedom

The good wars: Libya metastasizes and Afghanistan has a cobra snake for a necktie

The invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of Libya’s Qaddafi are supposed by liberal interventionists to have been good wars. Most of them have by now had their fill of Afghanistan and want out, but getting out is likely to be a nightmare. The Libyan adventure is still quite popular, when it is remembered, but is well on the way to becoming a classic case study in blowback. A recent story in Foreign Affairs magazine, the house organ of the Council on Foreign Relations, named some of the harsh consequences of the war for nearby countries and Libya herself.

First, there are the weapons: The neighborhood, especially Algeria, Mauritania, and Niger, was always uneasy about Libya’s civil war. Many feared that it would pry the lid off Tripoli’s sizeable weapons cache and lead to the dispersal of arms across the region. It turns out that they were right to be worried. Then, there is the money: Locating Libya’s financial assets after the war has been another complicated matter. Members of Qaddafi’s inner circle who know where the money is stashed are missing or unidentifiable. Basically, billions of dollars might wind up in the hands of individuals who could use the cash to sponsor terrorism or otherwise destabilize Libya. And finally, there are the refugees: Tens of thousands of Africans, no longer welcome in Libya, returned home this year. Besides the fact that many of them are ripe for jihadi infiltration, they will further strain the region’s weak economies. Already, food security is becoming a major issue and famine looms.

Continue reading The good wars: Libya metastasizes and Afghanistan has a cobra snake for a necktie

US Secretary of War Leon Panetta ponders the human cost of the Greek financial crisis

He’s concerned that the Greeks won’t have as much money to spend on killing humans in other countries as the US would like.

“Today Secretary Panetta met with Greek Defense Minister Dimitris Avramopolous at the Pentagon to discuss a variety of mutual defense interests including the upcoming NATO Summit, the missions in Afghanistan and . . . → Read More: US Secretary of War Leon Panetta ponders the human cost of the Greek financial crisis

Ain’t gonna study war … oh, never mind. Plus: torture inquiries! (Not here, of course.)

Like as not we’re now fighting three generations of Taliban in Afghanistan. Can we hold on long enough to make it four? Yes We Can!

The Department of Homeland Security just extended an ammunition contract for up to 450 million .40 caliber hollow-point rounds. That works out to something like 150 15-round clips for every DHS employee, including the IT guys. So don’t ask them to reboot the internet when your browser locks up.

Other countries actually attempt to hold people accountable for torture and stuff, even when it was on our dime. Novel!

Continue reading Ain’t gonna study war … oh, never mind. Plus: torture inquiries! (Not here, of course.)

An epitaph for Obama: “I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.”

Not long after the big Republican win in the 2010 elections, the Obama administration’s best and brightest gave up on explaining that putting people to work is really good for both the economy and for people who need work. The concept was too complicated for voters, they thought, so instead the president went off to negotiate with a crew of irresolute drunks and psychotic killer termites over how best to tighten the belt of government around the necks of the poor, the sick, the old and the unemployed.

This is according to David Corn’s new book, Showdown, which is apparently meant as a generous portrait of the administration.

Continue reading An epitaph for Obama: “I think we’ve all learned a valuable lesson.”

Why is it bad for the right to say “Stay in Afghanistan,” but not for the president?

Charlie Pierce, whose writing I always admire and whose understandings of things I share more often than not, wrote a little bit yesterday about Marc Thiessen, one of the columnists who serve as bellwethers of the intellectual and literary rot inside the Washington Post’s editorial pages. The one-time speechwriter’s facility with the written word is a really good fit with the way his former boss, George W. Bush, handled the spoken one.

Thiessen wrote a column about the need to stay in Afghanistan. Pierce takes issue with it, highlighting a section where Thiessen says that we have to stay because if we don’t, what’s left of al Qaeda will 1) crow about it and 2) try to directly attack the US again. He’s almost certainly right on the first count, but it’s a piss-poor peg to hang a war on. He’s probably right on the second count too, although not, as he says, because our departure will have “emboldened” them, but because there’s no indication that they ever stopped wanting to attack us; it’s only that we messed them up thoroughly enough to make it really really difficult.

Continue reading Why is it bad for the right to say “Stay in Afghanistan,” but not for the president?

“The Kipling is strong with this one …”

It’s like an epidemic. First there was David Atkins, representing from the mean streets of Santa Barbara for the liberal fans of violent empire, and now Max Boot, Dean of the Kipling School for Foreign Policy in the 21st Century, has popped his head up to chitter angrily at opponents of US military intervention in Syria.

Max Boot … I love Max Boot. He’s got the perfect imperialist name and, unlike Atkins, has both self-awareness and balls enough to proudly quote from “The White Man’s Burden” in one of his essays—America’s Destiny Is to Police the World, published in the Financial Times a few weeks before the invasion of Iraq. But more than that, he penned the single best line ever written in support of American imperialism in a piece, The Case for American Empire, that appeared in the Weekly Standard a few weeks post-911. Stand back and let it shine, o my brothers …

Afghanistan and other troubled lands today cry out for the sort of enlightened foreign administration once provided by self-confident Englishmen in jodhpurs and pith helmets.

You could make a career out of deconstructing that. It’s glorious.

Continue reading “The Kipling is strong with this one …”

“Take up the white man’s burden …” Plus, your world record moment of Zen

Writing at the widely-read liberal blog Hullabaloo, David Atkins says the most recent US atrocity in Afghanistan means it’s time to pull the plug on what should, and in his estimation could, have been The Good War. He weeps for the Buddhas of Bamiyam (destroyed by order of Taliban leaders in 2001); he accuses his fellow liberals of parochialism and closing their eyes to the plight of Afghan women; he quotes both the penultimate stanza of Rudyard Kipling’s iconic poem, The White Man’s Burden, and the exhortation scribbled on the final page of Kurz’s monograph in Conrad’s Heart of Darkness.

Possibly I made that last bit up. But “Ye dare not stoop to less” and “Exterminate all the brutes!” are clearly visible just beneath the surface. He doesn’t despair that we invaded and occupied Afghanistan; he despairs that we didn’t do it better.

Oh, he cites the “enormous peril of foreign intervention in largely intractable situations,” and he says that “prolonged occupations anywhere are a terrible idea” because “[t]hese sorts of incidents are almost inevitable.” He says that “continuing this awful, endless occupation replete with civilian massacre after civilian massacre is no answer at all. It’s long past time to go.” But then he closes with this:

Still, weep for the people we will be leaving behind. Weep for the Shi’ite ethnic hazara who will likely be doomed upon our departure … And mourn the fate of a people who once had hope for a better future, and now have none because America ended up doing more harm than good when all was said and done. It didn’t have to be thus [emphasis mine].

Well, David: it did have to be thus. Because thus is what wars and invasions and occupations are.

Continue reading “Take up the white man’s burden …” Plus, your world record moment of Zen

The new and improved No More Tears drone! Now with even less accountability!

How many times have you said to yourself, “Gee, why is it that whenever something goes wrong in a war conflict operation military-related function, it’s always people who get the blame? Darn that accountability impulse!”

Yes, accountability has long been a weakness of the US armed forces. Just recently, absolving a Marine squad of any serious wrongdoing in the deaths of the two dozen women, children and old men they massacred in the Iraqi town of Haditha took more than six years. Who knows what damage was done to morale within the services and the reputation of the US military without during that protracted exculpation process?

Obviously something has to be done, and now, with the Navy in the lead, it is.

Continue reading The new and improved No More Tears drone! Now with even less accountability!