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How US policies sealed Iraq's fate
By Dahr Jamail
Jul 22, '14
For Americans, it was like the news from nowhere. Years had passed since reporters bothered to head for the country we invaded and blew a hole through back in 2003, the country once known as Iraq that our occupation drove into a never-ending sectarian nightmare. In 2011, the last US combat troops slipped out of the country, their heads "held high", as President Barack Obama proclaimed at the time, and Iraq ceased to be news for Americans.
So the headlines of recent weeks - Iraq Army collapses! Iraq's second-largest city falls to insurgents! Terrorist Caliphate established in Middle East! - couldn't have seemed more shockingly out of the blue. Suddenly, reporters flooded back in, the Bush-era neocons who had planned and supported the invasion and occupation were writing op-eds as if it were yesterday, and Iraq was again the story of the moment as the post-post-mortems began to appear and commentators began asking: How in the world could this be happening?
Iraqis, of course, lacked the luxury of ignoring what had been going on in their land since 2011. For them, whether Sunnis or Shiites, the recent unraveling of the army, the spread of a series of revolts across the Sunni parts of Iraq, the advance of an extremist insurgency on the country's capital, Baghdad, and the embattled nature of the autocratic government of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki were, if not predictable, at least expectable. And as the killings ratcheted up, caught in the middle were the vast majority of Iraqis, people who were neither fighters nor directly involved in the corrupt politics of their country, but found themselves, as always, caught in the vice grip of the violence again engulfing it.
An Iraqi friend I've known since 2003, living in a predominantly Sunni neighborhood in Baghdad, emailed me recently. He had made it through the sectarian bloodletting of 2006-2007 in which many of his Sunni compatriots were killed or driven from the capital, and this is the picture he painted of what life is now like for him, his wife, and their small children:
All the dangers faced by Iraqis from the occupation - arrests, torture, car bombs, and sectarian violence - those killings have become like a toy in comparison to what we are facing these days. Fighting has spread in all directions from the north, east, and west of Baghdad. Much of the fighting is between the government and Sunni insurgents who have suffered a lot from the injustice of Maliki's sectarian government.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 07:49 AM (0 replies)
Requiem for the American Century: Turning 70, Paragraph by Paragraph
by Tom Engelhardt | July 21, 2014 - 8:58am
First Paragraphs on Turning 70 in the American Century That Was
* Seventy-three years ago, on February 17, 1941, as a second devastating global war approached, Henry Luce, the publisher of Time and Life magazines, called on his countrymen to “create the first great American Century.” Luce died in 1967 at age 69. Life, the pictorial magazine no home would have been without in my 1950s childhood, ceased to exist as a weekly in 1972 and as a monthly in 2000; Time, which launched his career as a media mogul, is still wobbling on, a shadow of its former self. No one today could claim that this is Time’s century, or the American Century, or perhaps anyone else’s. Even the greatest empires now seem to have shortened lifespans. The Soviet Century, after all, barely lasted seven decades. Of course, only the rarest among us live to be 100, which means that at 70, like Time, I’m undoubtedly beginning to wobble, too.
* The other day I sat down with an old friend, a law professor who started telling me about his students. What he said aged me instantly. They’re so young, he pointed out, that their parents didn’t even come of age during the Vietnam War. For them, he added, that war is what World War I was to us. He might as well have mentioned the Mongol conquests or the War of the Roses. We’re talking about the white-haired guys riding in the open cars in Veteran’s Day parades when I was a boy. And now, it seems, I’m them.
* In March 1976, accompanied by two friends, my wife and I got married at City Hall in San Francisco, and then adjourned to a Chinese restaurant for a dim sum lunch. If, while I was settling our bill of perhaps $30, you had told me that, almost half a century in the future, marriage would be an annual $40 billion dollar business, that official couplings would be preceded by elaborate bachelor and bachelorette parties, and that there would be such a thing as destination weddings, I would have assumed you were clueless about the future. On that score at least, the nature of the world to come was self-evident and elaborate weddings of any sort weren’t going to be part of it.
* From the time I was 20 until I was 65, I was always 40 years old. Now, I feel my age. Still, my life at 70 is a luxury. Across the planet, from Afghanistan to Central America, and in the poverty zones of this country, young people regularly stare death in the face at an age when, so many decades ago, I was wondering whether my life would ever begin. That’s a crime against humanity. So consider me lucky (and privileged) to be seven decades in and only now thinking about my death.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jul 22, 2014, 06:56 AM (3 replies)
Is It Time For F-35 To Bid Adieu To The Skies?
July 20, 2014
Blame it on the engine fire; Lockheed Martin’s (LMT) F-35 has been grounded. If this wasn’t all the good news, the F-35 won't fly at Britain's Royal International Air Tattoo, or RIAT, and could miss the Farnborough International Airshow, which starts on July 14. The latest technical failure in F-35’s engine has only added to its already long list of woes. The result of all this is a revised price of the F-35 being tagged at $398.6 billion just for accusation and development. The analysts have therefore started to question whether it’s now time to do F-35 away.
Problems Surrounding The F-35:
The F-35 has always found itself among problems. In addition to its recent engine fire, the F-35 is billions over budget, almost a decade behind schedule, and plagued by technical flaws. In early 2013, the F-35 was grounded due to a crack in the plane's engine. Unfortunately, the F-35's recent engine fire isn't the first glitch to face United Technologies' Pratt & Whitney made F135 engine. In fact, according to defense-aerospace.com, some of the F135's engine problems include: burning hotter than desired, repeated problems with the turbine blades, problems with the redesigned engine including failure to meet specifications, significant test failures, and a major oil leak which happened on June 13, just 10 days before the June 23 engine fire.
The Good News:
The only good news for Lockheed is that despite all of its problems, U.S. lawmakers still seem committed to supporting the F-35. Frank Kendall, Under Secretary of Defense for Acquisition, recently told the House Armed Services Committee that, "There's a growing body of evidence that this may have been an individual situation, not a systemic one. But we don't know that for certain at this point in time."
The bad news, however, is that the problems facing the F-35 continue to crop up, and one has to wonder how long the Pentagon will continue to support this program. For Lockheed, arguably no program is as important as the F-35. In 2013, the F-35 made up 16% of Lockheed's total consolidated net sales, and when Lockheed reported its first-quarter results for 2014, it reported, "Aeronautics' net sales for the first quarter of 2014 increased $200 million, or 6 percent, compared to the same period in 2013. The increase was primarily attributable to higher net sales of about $190 million for F-35 production contracts due to increased volume."
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 21, 2014, 09:00 AM (2 replies)
This is Part I of a two part series on American Empire. Part II will focus on the Empire Economy and his it is failing to work for most Americans as well as most people of the world.
US Empire Reaches Breaking Point - Time To End It
By Kevin Zeese
OpEdNews Op Eds 7/20/2014 at 19:46:02
The historian who chronicles US Empire, William Blum, issued his 130thAnti-Empire Report this week. In it he notes that the US, by far, is seen by the people of the world as "the greatest threat to peace in the world today" with 24% taking that view. Only 2% see Russia as such a threat, and 6% see China.
This should not come as a surprise since, as this map shows, much of the world has been bombed, had their democratically chosen government overthrown and has been occupied by the United States. Blum follows these interventions closely and has reported that since the end of World War II, the United States has:
* Attempted to overthrow more than 50 foreign governments, most of which were democratically-elected.
* Dropped bombs on the people of more than 30 countries.
* Attempted to assassinate more than 50 foreign leaders.
* Attempted to suppress a populist or nationalist movement in 20 countries.
* Grossly interfered in democratic elections in at least 30 countries, according to Chapter 18 of his book Rogue State: A Guide to the World's Only Superpower.
A more accurate appraisal comes from Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in the Vietnam era when he said: "The greatest purveyor of violence in the world : My own Government, I cannot be Silent." The people of the United States must follow the lead of Dr. King and work to end the interventionist violence of the United States Empire.
It seems the people of the world are factually correct when they label the United States the greatest threat to peace in the world.
Yet, despite this mass public opinion about the United States, US leaders seem oblivious. As Blum points out, Secretary of State John Kerry said: "In my travels as secretary of state, I have seen as never before the thirst for American leadership in the world."
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 21, 2014, 08:24 AM (2 replies)
Hatred as politics in Myanmar
By Kyaw Win
Jul 18, '14
This month's tragic anti-Muslim violence in Mandalay has again revealed that dark forces are alive and well in Myanmar. The violence left two dead and many injured, causing damage to property and generating a climate of fear in the country's cultural and historic capital.
In the aftermath of the violence, the government has moved to crack down on hate speech but has also warned the media against making statements that could destabilize national security, saying that "action will be taken against those who threaten state stability."
Tellingly, however, no action has been taken against those responsible for triggering the Mandalay violence by spreading false rumors on social media, while journalists reporting on the riots have already been threatened with violence. In addition, some observers have noted that the violence has also had a secondary effect- it has successfully distracted public interest from a signature campaign calling for amendment to the 2008 Constitution.
Such patterns are finally leading more and more analysts to ask critical questions about the nature of recent anti-Muslim violence in Myanmar and the real motivations behind it. Outside of Myanmar, reporting has been less critical, with some major media wires referring to the violence as 'sectarian'.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 21, 2014, 07:22 AM (0 replies)
Pro-Moscow rebels piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated boxcars Sunday in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing condemnation from Western leaders that the rebels were tampering with the site.
Bodies from downed jet piled in boxcars in Ukraine
TOREZ, Ukraine (AP) — Pro-Moscow rebels piled nearly 200 bodies from the downed Malaysian jetliner into four refrigerated boxcars Sunday in eastern Ukraine, and cranes at the crash scene moved big chunks of the Boeing 777, drawing condemnation from Western leaders that the rebels were tampering with the site.
The United States, meanwhile, presented what it called "powerful" evidence that the rebels shot down the plane with a Russian surface-to-air missile and training. Although other governments have stopped short of accusing Russia of actually causing the crash, the U.S. was ahead of most in pointing blame on Moscow for the downing of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 that killed all 298 people aboard.
"Russia is supporting these separatists. Russia is arming these separatists. Russia is training these separatists," Secretary of State John Kerry said on CNN's "State of the Union."
Leaders of Britain, France, Germany and Australia spoke to Russian President Vladimir Putin by phone late Sunday, urging him to use his influence on the separatists to ensure the victims could be repatriated and international investigators could have full access to collect evidence. They said European foreign ministers will be meeting in Brussels Tuesday to consider further sanctions on Russia.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 21, 2014, 06:35 AM (0 replies)
Ohio village threatens Iraq war vet with $150 fine and loss of his therapy ducks
By Tom Boggioni
Sunday, July 20, 2014 22:46 EDT
An Iraq war veteran, living in West Lafayette, Ohio, is facing a $150 fine and the possibility that he must get rid of his 14 therapy ducks after running afoul of of a village ordinance banning the keeping of farm animals.
Darin Welker, 36, acquired the ducks after serving a year in Iraq, returning with a back injury and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), reports the Marion Star.
“I came back with a major back injury, and between the back injury and the PTSD that I also brought home, there were numerous problems,” Welker said.
The VA paid for a surgery on Welker’s back but did not approve the physical therapy recommended by his surgeon, nor did it provide mental therapy, Welker said.
The local newspaper's take on this story mention that the Coshocton City Council approved a change to a law last year that allows "one pot-bellied pig" per household inside city limits.
I think a letter to the Mayor is in order --> http://www.cityofcoshocton.com/
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Jul 21, 2014, 06:22 AM (2 replies)
America's Troubled F-35: Five Ways to Replace It
July 20, 2014
If it could, however, what would follow? The following five options are not mutually exclusive, and any strategy for replacing the F-35 would need to borrow liberally from several.
Build more F-22s
The first choice seems obvious. Instead of moving ahead with the F-35, the United States could restart the F-22 line. We have enough experience with the Raptor to know that it will likely be an effective platform moving forward, and to update new models with additional capabilities.
unhappycamper comment: F-22s work reasonably well, but they cost over $410 million dollars EACH. Good luck with this option.
What about the killer robots? The biggest story in the last decade of aviation has been the expansion of drone technology and doctrine. The United States, followed by a few other countries, has radically expanded the use of drones beyond what anybody expected in 2000. Drones have fulfilled many traditional airpower roles, including reconnaissance, close air support, interdiction, and long range strike.
unhappycamper comment: Drones aren't worth a shit in a dogfight.
Updated Legacy Fleet
The United States already has a huge fleet of advanced fighter aircraft, and an industry capable of churning out new airframes. Why not just update the older platforms? The Su-27 Flanker has often been portrayed as the primary threat to U.S. 5th generation fighters, but it is nothing more than an updated Cold War platform. Of course, the U.S. Navy (USN) and U.S. Air Force (USAF)have also followed this path to an extent; modern Vipers have little in common with the first F-16A production models.
unhappycamper comment: Any US made fighter jet now costs at least $100 million. Perhaps we should get out of the war bidness.
Waiting for Generation Six
Another way of cutting our losses would be to abandon the fifth generation fighter entirely (apart from existing Raptors and F-35s), and focus instead on the development of sixth generation fighters. Expectations for Gen Six fighters generally focus around stealth, supercruise, and networking capabilities, potentially with tailless configurations, the capacity for the installation of laser weaponry, and the possibility of unmanned operation.
unhappycamper comment: Another way of cutting our losses would to use diplomacy rather than weapons and repeal the AUMF.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jul 20, 2014, 11:10 AM (4 replies)
Ohio scientist to test water before fracking
By Lisa Song, InsideClimate News : July 18, 2014 : Updated: July 19, 2014 12:00am
As the shale gas boom was making its way into Ohio in 2012, University of Cincinnati scientist Amy Townsend-Small began testing private water wells in Carroll County, the epicenter of the Utica Shale.
Her project, which includes samples of more than 100 wells, is one of the few sustained efforts in the nation to evaluate drinking water quality before, during and after gas drilling.
Although it likely will be another year before Townsend-Small releases the results, her work offers a template for other communities worried about how drilling, fracking and producing unconventional natural gas might contaminate groundwater supplies.
Most residents test their water only after they suspect it has been polluted; few have the resources or foresight to conduct baseline testing prior to the drilling.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jul 20, 2014, 10:11 AM (3 replies)
Note to Mods: Please move if you think necessary.
Israel's harshest critics and most ardent defenders agree on one thing: The battle is really about America.
Israel: America’s Frankenstein Monster
Salon.com / By Andrew O'Hehir
July 19, 2014
With Israeli tanks rolling into the Gaza Strip and Hamas fighters firing dozens of rockets into Israel every day, the two sides in the endless Middle East standoff appear to be replaying scenes from a recurring nightmare, with real-world tragic effects. I don’t mean to suggest that the conflict is in any sense symmetrical. As we have already seen, the worst price for this latest round of violence will be paid by the civilian population of Gaza, almost 2 million people fenced into a slice of arid seacoast with roughly the same land area as the city of Detroit. But for those of us in the West, and especially in the United States, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict plays out in public discourse, over and over again, as a drama of rhetoric and propaganda, accusation and counter-accusation.
Both in the real conflict on the ground and the ideological conflict for hearts and minds, both sides feel misunderstood and unfairly stigmatized – and if you’re willing or able to take the long view, they both have a point. Along with every other American journalist, I received emails this week from Arab-American groups complaining about the pro-Israeli bias of the mainstream media, and from Jewish activists eager to elucidate President Obama’s “pro-Muslim agenda” and his long-term campaign to undermine Israel. Within the American left, which for generations has been closely allied with the Jewish intellectual tradition, this ideological combat can often be intensely personal and painful. I’ve managed to stay out of the angry debates between friends and acquaintances in my Facebook feed – about whether Rachel Maddow is an Israeli shill, or whether American progressives are hypocrites for weeping over Gaza but ignoring the death toll in Iraq, Syria and Egypt – and I don’t even want to know what kinds of insults people are hurling at each other on Twitter.
What do we talk about when we talk about Israel? Perhaps this is an index of our bottomless narcissism, but the not-so-secret subtext of both pro-Israel and anti-Israel arguments is that they’re really debates about America and its role in the world. Israel is of course closely tied to the U.S. in military, economic, cultural and psychological terms, and in all likelihood would not exist if not for six-plus decades of staunch American support. Although it’s a distinctive society in many ways, Israel is also a familiar kind of place – a Westernized consumer democracy of yoga classes, designer cocktails and gay pride parades – in a way no Islamic Middle Eastern country even approaches. Israel can be read as an American proxy state, a wayward bastard child or (in the paranoid view) as a sinister force behind American politics, pulling the superpower’s strings. However you understand this “special relationship,” the genetic kinship is unmistakable.
Everything about the politics of the Israel-Palestine debate – which are mostly the politics of guilt, victimhood and mutual, purposeful incomprehension – is distorted and exacerbated by the gravitational effect of America. As I said earlier, both sides have valid points to make about the nature of that distortion. But I don’t mean to retreat to some journalistic posture of false equivalency and despair: Everybody has done bad things, and it’s just dreadful. Can we get back to watching HBO? That only fuels the hapless status quo, as captured so memorably in Mitt Romney’s phrase about kicking the can down the road, in which the U.S. appears subservient to the Israeli right wing while continuing to advocate for a two-state solution that will never happen. I have no solution to that dilemma, but it’s useful to understand that pro-Israeli and pro-Palestinian forces are responding to the same phenomenon – Israel’s inextricable relationship with the United States – and interpreting it in different ways.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jul 20, 2014, 09:12 AM (0 replies)