Later On

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Archive for the ‘Military’ Category

The Uncounted

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The military routinely lies and covers up any information that it finds incriminating or even embarrassing. (The military idea of “honor” seems to have some special meaning that allows for lying and cheating, if not stealing.) Azmat Kahn and Anand Gopal report in the NY Times:

Late on the evening of Sept. 20, 2015, Basim Razzo sat in the study of his home on the eastern side of Mosul, his face lit up by a computer screen. His wife, Mayada, was already upstairs in bed, but Basim could lose hours clicking through car reviews on YouTube: the BMW Alpina B7, the Audi Q7. Almost every night went like this. Basim had long harbored a taste for fast rides, but around ISIS-occupied Mosul, the auto showrooms sat dark, and the family car in his garage — a 1991 BMW — had barely been used in a year. There simply was nowhere to go.

The Razzos lived in the Woods, a bucolic neighborhood on the banks of the Tigris, where marble and stucco villas sprawled amid forests of eucalyptus, chinar and pine. Cafes and restaurants lined the riverbanks, but ever since the city fell to ISIS the previous year, Basim and Mayada had preferred to entertain at home. They would set up chairs poolside and put kebabs on the grill, and Mayada would serve pizza or Chinese fried rice, all in an effort to maintain life as they’d always known it. Their son, Yahya, had abandoned his studies at Mosul University and fled for Erbil, and they had not seen him since; those who left when ISIS took over could re-enter the caliphate, but once there, they could not leave — an impasse that stranded people wherever they found themselves. Birthdays, weddings and graduations came and went, the celebrations stockpiled for that impossibly distant moment: liberation.

Next door to Basim’s home stood the nearly identical home belonging to his brother, Mohannad, and his wife, Azza. They were almost certainly asleep at that hour, but Basim guessed that their 18-year-old son, Najib, was still up. A few months earlier, he was arrested by the ISIS religious police for wearing jeans and a T-shirt with English writing. They gave him 10 lashes and, as a further measure of humiliation, clipped his hair into a buzz cut. Now he spent most of his time indoors, usually on Facebook. “Someday it’ll all be over,” Najib had posted just a few days earlier. “Until that day, I’ll hold on with all my strength.”

Sometimes, after his parents locked up for the night, Najib would fish the key out of the cupboard and steal over to his uncle’s house. Basim had the uncanny ability to make his nephew forget the darkness of their situation. He had a glass-half-full exuberance, grounded in the belief that every human life — every setback and success, every heartbreak and triumph — is written by the 40th day in the womb. Basim was not a particularly religious man, but that small article of faith underpinned what seemed to him an ineluctable truth, even in wartime Iraq: Everything happens for a reason. It was an assurance he offered everyone; Yahya had lost a year’s worth of education, but in exile he had met, and proposed to, the love of his life. “You see?” Basim would tell Mayada. “You see? That’s fate.”

Basim had felt this way for as long as he could remember. A 56-year-old account manager at Huawei, the Chinese multinational telecommunications company, he studied engineering in the 1980s at Western Michigan University. He and Mayada lived in Portage, Mich., in a tiny one-bedroom apartment that Mayada also used as the headquarters for her work as an Avon representative; she started small, offering makeup and skin cream to neighbors, but soon expanded sales to Kalamazoo and Comstock. Within a year, she’d saved up enough to buy Basim a $700 Minolta camera. Basim came to rely on her ability to impose order on the strange and the mundane, to master effortlessly everything from Yahya’s chemistry homework to the alien repartee of faculty picnics and Rotary clubs. It was fate. They had been married now for 33 years.

Around midnight, Basim heard a thump from the second floor. He peeked out of his office and saw a sliver of light under the door to the bedroom of his daughter, Tuqa. He called out for her to go to bed. At 21, Tuqa would often stay up late, and though Basim knew that he wasn’t a good example himself and that the current conditions afforded little reason to be up early, he believed in the calming power of an early-to-bed, early-to-rise routine. He waited at the foot of the stairs, called out again, and the sliver went dark.

It was 1 a.m. when Basim finally shut down the computer and headed upstairs to bed. He settled in next to Mayada, who was fast asleep.

Some time later, he snapped awake. His shirt was drenched, and there was a strange taste — blood? — on his tongue. The air was thick and acrid. He looked up. He was in the bedroom, but the roof was nearly gone. He could see the night sky, the stars over Mosul. Basim reached out and found his legs pressed just inches from his face by what remained of his bed. He began to panic. He turned to his left, and there was a heap of rubble. “Mayada!” he screamed. “Mayada!” It was then that he noticed the silence. “Mayada!” he shouted. “Tuqa!” The bedroom walls were missing, leaving only the bare supports. He could see the dark outlines of treetops. He began to hear the faraway, unmistakable sound of a woman’s voice. He cried out, and the voice shouted back, “Where are you?” It was Azza, his sister-in-law, somewhere outside.

“Mayada’s gone!” he shouted.

“No, no, I’ll find her!”

“No, no, no, she’s gone,” he cried back. “They’re all gone!”

Later that same day, the American-led coalition fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria uploaded a video to its YouTube channel. The clip, titled “Coalition Airstrike Destroys Daesh VBIED Facility Near Mosul, Iraq 20 Sept 2015,” shows spectral black-and-white night-vision footage of two sprawling compounds, filmed by an aircraft slowly rotating above. There is no sound. Within seconds, the structures disappear in bursts of black smoke. The target, according to the caption, was a car-bomb factory, a hub in a network of “multiple facilities spread across Mosul used to produce VBIEDs for ISIL’s terrorist activities,” posing “a direct threat to both civilians and Iraqi security forces.” Later, when he found the video, Basim could watch only the first few frames. He knew immediately that the buildings were his and his brother’s houses.

The clip is one of hundreds the coalition has released since the American-led war against the Islamic State began in August 2014. Also posted to Defense Department websites, they are presented as evidence of a military campaign unlike any other — precise, transparent and unyielding. In the effort to expel ISIS from Iraq and Syria, the coalition has conducted more than 27,500 strikes to date, deploying everything from Vietnam-era B-52 bombers to modern Predator drones. That overwhelming air power has made it possible for local ground troops to overcome heavy resistance and retake cities throughout the region. “U.S. and coalition forces work very hard to be precise in airstrikes,” Maj. Shane Huff, a spokesman for the Central Command, told us, and as a result “are conducting one of the most precise air campaigns in military history.”

American military planners go to great lengths to distinguish today’s precision strikes from the air raids of earlier wars, which were carried out with little or no regard for civilian casualties. They describe a target-selection process grounded in meticulously gathered intelligence, technological wizardry, carefully designed bureaucratic hurdles and extraordinary restraint. Intelligence analysts pass along proposed targets to “targeteers,” who study 3-D computer models as they calibrate the angle of attack. A team of lawyers evaluates the plan, and — if all goes well — the process concludes with a strike so precise that it can, in some cases, destroy a room full of enemy fighters and leave the rest of the house intact.

The coalition usually announces an airstrike within a few days of its completion. It also publishes a monthly report assessing allegations of civilian casualties. Those it deems credible are generally explained as unavoidable accidents — a civilian vehicle drives into the target area moments after a bomb is dropped, for example. The coalition reports that since August 2014, it has killed tens of thousands of ISIS fighters and, according to our tally of its monthly summaries, 466 civilians in Iraq.

Yet until we raised his case, Basim’s family was not among those counted. Mayada, Tuqa, Mohannad and Najib were four of an unknown number of Iraqi civilians whose deaths the coalition has placed in the “ISIS” column. Estimates from Airwars and other nongovernmental organizations suggest that the civilian death toll is much higher, but the coalition disputes such figures, arguing that they are based not on specific intelligence but local news reports and testimony gathered from afar. When the coalition notes a mission irregularity or receives an allegation, it conducts its own inquiry and publishes a sentence-long analysis of its findings. But no one knows how many Iraqis have simply gone uncounted.

Our own reporting, conducted over 18 months, shows that the air war has been significantly less precise than the coalition claims. Between April 2016 and June 2017, we visited the sites of nearly 150 airstrikes across northern Iraq, not long after ISIS was evicted from them. We toured the wreckage; we interviewed hundreds of witnesses, survivors, family members, intelligence informants and local officials; we photographed bomb fragments, scoured local news sources, identified ISIS targets in the vicinity and mapped the destruction through satellite imagery. We also visited the American air base in Qatar where the coalition directs the air campaign. There, we were given access to the main operations floor and interviewed senior commanders, intelligence officials, legal advisers and civilian-casualty assessment experts. We provided their analysts with the coordinates and date ranges of every airstrike — 103 in all — in three ISIS-controlled areas and examined their responses. The result is the first systematic, ground-based sample of airstrikes in Iraq since this latest military action began in 2014.

We found that one in five of the coalition strikes we identified resulted in civilian death, a rate more than 31 times that acknowledged by the coalition. It is at such a distance from official claims that, in terms of civilian deaths, this may be the least transparent war in recent American history. Our reporting, moreover, revealed a consistent failure by the coalition to investigate claims properly or to keep records that make it possible to investigate the claims at all. While some of the civilian deaths we documented were a result of proximity to a legitimate ISIS target, many others appear to be the result simply of flawed or outdated intelligence that conflated civilians with combatants. In this system, Iraqis are considered guilty until proved innocent. Those who survive the strikes, people like Basim Razzo, remain marked as possible ISIS sympathizers, with no discernible path to clear their names.

Basim woke up in a ward at Mosul General Hospital, heavy with bandages. He was disoriented, but he remembered being pried loose from the rubble, the neighbors’ hands all over his body, the backhoe serving him down to the earth, the flashing lights of an ambulance waiting in the distance. The rescuers worked quickly. Everyone knew it had been an airstrike; the planes could return at any minute to finish the job.

In the hospital, Basim was hazily aware of nurses and orderlies, but it was not until morning that he saw . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

16 November 2017 at 1:37 pm

Why the AR-15 Is So Lethal

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In the Atlantic James Fallow reprises an article from 1981, newly relevant today. I vividly recall it all in his excellent book National Defense (and note the full text of the AR-15 story is available at a link in the story):

Americans who know nothing else about firearms are all too familiar with the name AR-15. It’s the semi-automatic weapon that murderers have used in many of the most notorious and highest-casualty gun killings of recent years: Aurora, Colorado. Newtown, Connecticut. Orlando, Florida, San Bernardino, California.  Now, with modified versions, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and Sutherland Springs, Texas.

What is this gun? Why is it the weapon that people who want to kill a lot of other people, in a hurry, mainly choose? Tim Dickinson offered a useful history of the AR-15’s emergence as the main implement of mass murder last year in Rolling Stone (“All-American Killer: How the AR-15 Became Mass Shooters’ Weapon of Choice”), and Megan O’Dea in Fortune and Aaron Smith for CNN also had valuable reports.

But there’s another angle of the AR-15 saga that has slightly slipped from view. It is why this particular weapon is so unusually effective in killing things—even when compared with other firearms.

As it happens, I did an Atlantic article on exactly this subject, back in a very different era of American politics. In 1981, I published a book called National Defensewhich was popular at the time and was excerpted in three installments in the magazine. One of the installments was called “The M-16: A Bureaucratic Horror Story,” and it included the origin story of the AR-15. That article was not previously available online, but my colleague Annika Neklason has just digitized it from the archives, and it’s now available.

* * *

The AR-15 was newsworthy in those days mainly as the original civilian version of what became the U.S. military’s standard M-16 combat rifle. The problem with the M-16, from the perspective of many of the Americans who had been using it during the 1960s and 1970s in Vietnam, is that it too often failed at the fundamental task of combat weaponry: killing troops on the other side.

The M-16 jammed. It was touchy if it got wet or dirty—which, in jungle warfare, weapons generally did. Veterans’ stories about the M-16, which became newspaper exposés, which became congressional hearings, concerned the battles in which an American soldier or marine was found shot to death by an enemy AK-47, a jammed M-16 clutched in the American’s hands.

The point of my story was to explain how the Army’s procurement bureaucracy had systematically, and knowingly if not intentionally, converted the early-model AR-15 into the fully “militarized” but vastly less reliable M-16. Those were the comparisons that mattered most in the aftermath of Vietnam: the M-16 versus its AR-15 predecessor, and the M-16 against the adversary’s practically indestructible AK-47.

Along the way, I examined the other side of the comparison: why the AR-15 was such a revolution in killing power. That’s the part of the story that is most relevant now.

* * *

The AR-15, created by the celebrated armaments designed Eugene Stoner, had many advantages, but a crucial one was that . . .

Continue reading.

 

Written by LeisureGuy

7 November 2017 at 4:06 pm

Posted in Books, Daily life, Military

VA Delays Key Agent Orange Decisions

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Charles Ornstein reports in ProPublica. The blurb:

Since March 2016, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs has been weighing whether to expand Agent Orange benefits to Vietnam vets with bladder cancer and hypothyroidism, as well as other ailments. It keeps missing its own deadlines to act.

The article begins:

Days after he was sworn in as Veterans Affairs secretary this year, Dr. David Shulkin held a digital town hall meeting to take veterans’ questions.

A veteran named Jack posed a question of paramount importance to many Vietnam veterans: Would the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expand the list of diseases that are presumed to be linked to Agent Orange, a toxic herbicide used to kill forests during the Vietnam War?

“We’re getting very close to being able to give you a final answer on that,” Shulkin said on Feb. 24, adding that he was weeks away from being presented with the data he needed to make a decision. “I’m anxious to get it so that we can begin to get answers to people like Jack, because it’s been too long that they’ve been waiting to get those answers.”

Yet more than eight months later — and after his department promised a decision by Nov. 1 — the VA essentially punted, issuing a statement late Wednesday saying it would “further explore” the issue and pushing its decision to some undisclosed point in the future.

The VA said the department would now work with others in the Trump administration to conduct a legal and regulatory review of conditions for awarding disability compensation to eligible veterans.

Many veterans said they thought that was exactly the review that has been ongoing since March 2016, when the National Academy of Medicine, then known as the Institute of Medicine, said there is now evidence to suggest that Agent Orange exposure may be linked to bladder cancer and hypothyroidism. The National Academy also confirmed, as previous experts have said, that there is some evidence of an association with hypertension, stroke and various neurological ailments similar to Parkinson’s Disease.

In the past, the VA has found enough evidence to link 14 health conditions, including various cancers, to Agent Orange, which the U.S. military sprayed by the millions of gallons in Vietnam.

The Agent Orange Act of 1991 had required that the VA secretary take action on National Academy recommendations within 60 days of receiving a report; the law expired in 2015.

“Son of a gun,” said Dick Pirozzolo, 73, when he was informed of the VA’s decision to delay. Pirozzolo served as an information officer in the Air Force in Vietnam and has had bladder cancer and a thyroid condition called Graves’ disease. “That sucks.”

Pirozzolo said he applied for benefits based on his bladder cancer — and was denied. He is in the process of seeking benefits for his thyroid. “It’s frustrating,” he said. “The politicians all talk a good game about the VA, but then when it comes down to making a decision, they drag their heels.”

Carla Dean’s husband, James T. Dean Jr., died of bladder cancer last year at age 72, six days after his birthday. His application and appeals for VA benefits have been denied. Dean said she feels “gobsmacked” by the VA’s actions this week, especially because her husband died feeling relieved that he and his wife had helped persuade the National Academy of the link between his disease and Agent Orange exposure.

“My husband gave 11 1/2 years of his life to the United States Army willingly, 19 months in Vietnam, heavy combat,” Dean said. “Never in a million years did he dream basically that his government betrayed him.”

ProPublica and The Virginian-Pilot have profiled the efforts of vets with bladder cancer to secure benefits. . .

Continue reading.

The US government seems increasingly paralyzed and enfeebled.

Written by LeisureGuy

6 November 2017 at 3:53 pm

Veterans Groups Push for Medical Marijuana to Treat PTSD

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For treating PTSD and pain veterans groups understandably prefer marijuana (non-addictive, no deaths from using it) to opioids (highly addictive, overdose deaths increasingly common). However, ideology (not science) puts up significant barriers to a rational solution. Reggie Ugwu reports in the NY Times:

Among critics of the federal prohibition of marijuana — a diverse and bipartisan group that includes both criminal justice reform advocates and Big Alcohol — the American Legion and its allies stand out.

For more than a year, the stalwart veterans group has been working to reframe the debate as a question of not only moral and economic imperatives, but also patriotic ones, arguing that access to medical marijuana could ease suffering and reduce suicide rates among soldiers who return from the horrors of war.

“We’ve got young men and women with PTSD and traumatic brain injuries coming to us and saying that cannabis works,” Joe Plenzler, a spokesman for the group, which was established after World War I and has over two million members, said by telephone Wednesday.

Mr. Plenzler said that veterans had turned to medical marijuana as an alternative to so-called “zombie drugs,” including opioids and antidepressants, that they said adversely affected their mood and personality, up to and including thoughts of suicide. In studies, cannabis has been shown to help alleviate chronic pain and reduce muscle spasms in multiple sclerosis patients.

In 2016, the American Legion petitioned the government to relax federal restrictions on marijuana in two ways. The group asked Congress to remove the drug from the list of Schedule 1 narcotics — a class that includes heroin, LSD and other drugs that have “no accepted medical use” and a high potential for abuse — and reclassify it in a lower schedule. It also called on the Drug Enforcement Administration to license more privately funded growers to focus on medical research.

Because marijuana is a Schedule 1 drug, there is surprisingly little rigorous research into its medical applications, as researchers have found themselves stymied by regulatory hurdles at federal health and drug agencies and short on a supply of federally approved product.

The classification also means that veterans — many of whom rely on the federal Veterans Affairs Department for their health care — cannot get coverage for medical marijuana, even in the 29 states that have legalized it.

On Thursday, The American Legion published a phone survey of over 800 veterans and veteran caregivers in which 92 percent of respondents said they supported research into medical cannabis for the purpose of treating mental or physical conditions. Eighty-two percent said they wanted cannabis as a federally legal treatment option.

“Even in the states where it’s legal, there’s still the stigma associated with the federal ban,” said Louis Celli, the group’s national director of veterans affairs and rehabilitation. He noted that soldiers were regularly subjected to urinalysis and told to stay away from the drug. “It puts veterans in a very difficult position.”

Though a Quinnipiac University poll released in April found that a record 94 percent of all Americans supported doctor-prescribed medical marijuana usage, veterans advocating research have run into the same roadblock as pro-cannabis activists around the country: the Justice Department.

President Trump campaigned in support of medical marijuana and said that recreational usage should be a “state-by-state” issue. But his attorney general, Jeff Sessions, has been an outspoken critic of legalizing the drug for any purpose. Veterans groups draw a straight line from obstacles to medical marijuana research to the doorstep of Mr. Sessions.

“He is putting politics, antiquated policies and his own personal opinion ahead of the health needs of veterans in this country,” said Nick Etten, executive director of Veterans Cannabis Project, referring to Mr. Sessions.

A representative for the Justice Department declined to comment, but Mr. Sessions said during an oversight hearing with the Senate Judiciary Committee last month that he was considering expanding the supply of research-grade marijuana.

Veterans groups say the fastest and most effective way to help veterans get access to treatment is to simply reschedule the drug. That would automatically lift the most onerous barriers to research and allow V.A. health care providers to immediately prescribe marijuana in states where it is legal.

But getting the necessary legislation through a fractious, conservative congress may still be a pipe dream. . .

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Written by LeisureGuy

4 November 2017 at 8:51 am

Five Books to Make You Less Stupid About the Civil War

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Good reading list. And the Kindle is just made for this sort of thing. Ta-Nehisi Coates writes in the Atlantic:

On Monday, the retired four-star general and White House Chief of Staff John Kelly asserted that “the lack of an ability to compromise led to the Civil War.” This was an incredibly stupid thing to say. Worse, it built on a long tradition of endorsing stupidity in hopes of making Americans stupid about their own history. Stupid enjoys an unfortunate place in the highest ranks of American government these days. And while one cannot immediately affect this fact, one can choose to not hear stupid things and quietly nod along.

For the past 50 years, some of this country’s most celebrated historians have taken up the task of making Americans less stupid about the Civil War. These historians have been more effective than generally realized. It’s worth remembering that General Kelly’s remarks, which were greeted with mass howls of protests, reflected the way much of this country’s stupid-ass intellectual class once understood the Civil War. I do not contend that this improved history has solved everything. But it is a ray of light cutting through the gloom of stupid. You should run to that light. Embrace it. Bathe in it. Become it.

Okay, maybe that’s too far. Let’s start with just being less stupid.

One quick note: In making this list I’ve tried to think very hard about readability, and to offer books you might actually complete. There are a number of books that I dearly love and have found indispensable that are not on this list. (Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction in America immediately comes to mind.) I mean no slight to any of those volumes. But this is about being less stupid. We’ll get to those other ones when we talk about how to be smart.

1) Battle Cry Of Freedom: Arguably among the greatest single-volume histories in all of American historiography, James McPherson’s synthesis of the Civil War is a stunning achievement. Brisk in pace. A big-ass book that reads like a much slimmer one. The first few hundred pages offer a catalogue of evidence, making it clear not just that the white South went to war for the right to own people, but that it warred for the right to expand the right to own people. Read this book. You will immediately be less stupid than some of the most powerful people in the West Wing.

2) Grant: Another classic in the Ron Chernow oeuvre. Again, eminently readable but thick with import. It does not shy away from Grant’s personal flaws, but shows him to be a man constantly struggling to live up to his own standard of personal and moral courage. It corrects nearly a half-century of stupidity inflicted upon America by the Dunning school of historians, which preferred a portrait of Grant as a bumbling, corrupt butcher of men. Finally, it reframes the Civil War away from the overrated Virginia campaigns and shows us that when the West was won, so was the war. Grant hits like a Mack truck of knowledge. Stupid doesn’t stand a chance.

3) Reading the Man: A Portrait of Robert E. Lee: Elizabeth Pryor’s biography of Lee, through Lee’s own words, helps part with a lot of stupid out there about Lee—chiefly that he was, somehow, “anti-slavery.” It dispenses with the boatload of stupid out there which hails the military genius of Lee while ignoring the world that all of that genius was actually trying to build.

4.) Out of the House of Bondage: A slim volume that dispenses with the notion that there was a such thing as “good,” “domestic,” or “matronly” slavery. The historian Thavolia Glymph focuses on the relationships between black enslaved women and the white women who took them as property. She picks apart the stupid idea that white mistresses were somehow less violent and less exploitative than their male peers. Glymph has no need of Scarlett O’Haras. “Used the rod” is the quote that still sticks with me. An important point here—stupid ideas about ladyhood and the soft feminine hand meant nothing when measured against the fact of a slave society. Slavery was the monster that made monsters of its masters. Compromising with it was morally bankrupt—and stupid.

5.) . . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

2 November 2017 at 6:21 pm

Posted in Books, Government, Law, Military

We’re loosening the rules for killing. This won’t end well.

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Daniel Mahanty writes in USA Today:

Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be. But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.” John Quincy Adams, 1821

The U.S. military is going abroad in search of monsters to destroy, and Americans should be worried. New changes to U.S. counterterrorism policy, branded as getting decisions out of the White House and into the hands of commanders in the field, are going to make it easier to kill more people, in more places, with fewer explanations.

Loosening the rules for killing may seem like a favor to those charged with fighting the Islamic State (ISIS) and al-Qaeda. But in many ways, the latest and least bounded mutation of America’s war on terror may end up complicating, rather than simplifying, the job of our nation’s spies, soldiers and diplomats, now and for decades to come.

The U.S. military and CIA already employ lethal force against armed groups in up to seven countries across the Middle East and Africa, often times in secret. And, after receiving a briefing from Defense secretary James Mattis, Sen. Lindsey Graham told reporters to expect “more aggression by the United States toward our enemies, not less.” Niger may be next, NBC reports.

With each new country and adversary added to the list, the relationship between the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force and current U.S. operations becomes less and less recognizable. Even in places where the U.S. does not conduct strikes or raids on its own, these “train and advise” missions involving hundreds of special forces members in places like Niger, Somalia, and the Philippines may quickly escalate, thrusting U.S. forces into combat with little warning and deadly consequences. Any policy that increases the likelihood of expanding American military operations in the absence of debate and proper authorization from America’s highest legislative body, risks undermining American democracy by obscuring the truth of U.S. involvement in war and its deadly costs.

The proposed changes also risk further legitimating acts proscribed by international law, and thus weakening international norms in which the U.S. government has invested much to preserve an order which overwhelmingly serves its interests. Lowering the bar for taking the life of a person outside of (and sometimes within) a situation of armed conflict without due process should not be taken lightly. This trend could at some point cost America’s relationship with allies who support American counterterrorism operations on the basis of at least some pretense to lawfulness.

We are already seeing this play out in allied countries, such as the United Kingdom, Australia and Germany, where the public is increasingly calling on their government to clarify the legal basis for drone strikes. By setting rules that effectively permit killing anyone, anytime, anywhere, the United States is building a dangerous precedent for other states, many of whom are already arming drones for use as they see fit. This will certainly compromise America’s ability in the future to protest the practices of others when they begin to use lethal force against their adversaries, as they define them, and on their terms. This risk may seem acceptable when the world’s adversary is ISIS. But when the adversary is a humanitarian worker, an activist, a political opponent or even an American, it may be too late.

Perhaps most puzzling, for the many risks and costs involved, it’s hard to identify how setting fewer reasonable limits on killing really advances American interests or makes Americans safer. The administration has yet to articulate how any of its proposals serve some clear political end — other than annihilating terrorists — a goal that is as unachievable as it is dangerous to pursue.

Not all groups or individuals that profess affinity for ISIS or Al Qaeda necessarily pose a threat to the United States; even fewer present a threat that can actually be solved by launching a missile.  . .

Continue reading.

Written by LeisureGuy

1 November 2017 at 9:57 am

Most ominous headline yet: “Allies Weigh Nuclear Options as North Korea Threat Looms”

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Here’s the story.

Written by LeisureGuy

28 October 2017 at 5:31 pm

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