Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘pre-emptive wars

USA has spent $5.9 trillion on wars in the Middle East and Asia since 2001, a new study says

The report also finds that more than 480,000 people have died from the wars and more than 244,000 civilians have been killed as a result of fighting. Additionally, another 10 million people have been displaced due to violence.

WASHINGTON  The U.S. wars and military action in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Pakistan have cost American taxpayers $5.9 trillion since they began in 2001, according to a new study.

That total is almost $2 trillion more than all federal government spending during the recently completed 2017-18 fiscal year.

The $5.9 trillion figure reflects the cost across the U.S. federal government since the price of war is not borne by the Defense Department alone, according to Neta Crawford, the study’s author.

In addition to the money spent by the Pentagon, Crawford says the report captures the “war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.” (Most of the debt financed by China)

It breaks down like this, according to Crawford and the report:

  • Total U.S. war-related spending through fiscal year 2019 is $4.9 trillion.
  • The other $1 trillion reflects estimates for the cost of health care for post-9/11 veterans.
  • The Department of Veterans Affairs will be responsible for serving more than 4.3 million veterans by 2039.

What’s more, longer wars will also increase the number of service members who will ultimately claim veterans benefits and disability payments.

The U.S. government spent $4.1 trillion during fiscal year 2018, which ended Sept. 30, according to the Treasury Department.

The Defense Department accounted for 14.7% of that, and the Department of Veterans Affairs accounted for 4.4 percent.

 

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On modern warfare weapons: Actual testing on many pre-emptive wars around the world

Back in 1997, Barbara Ehrenreich went after the human  attraction to violence in her book Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War.

In it, among other brilliant insights, she traced the beginnings of our  modern blood rites not to Man, the Aggressor, but to human beings, the  prey (in a dangerous early world of predators).

In an updated,  adapted version of an afterword she did for the British edition of that book, she turns from the origins of war to its end point, suggesting in her usual provocative way that drones and other warrior robotics may, in  the end, do us one strange favor: they may finally bring home to us that war is Not a human possession, that it is not what we are and must  be.

(To catch Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which  Ehrenreich discusses the nature of war and how to fight against it,  click here, or download it to your iPod here.) Tom

War Without Humans Modern Blood Rites Revisited By Barbara Ehrenreich

For a book about the all-too-human “passions of war,” my 1997 work Blood Rites ended on a strangely inhuman note: I suggested that, whatever  distinctly human qualities war calls upon — honor, courage, solidarity,  cruelty, and so forth — it might be useful to stop thinking of war in  exclusively human terms.

After all, certain species of ants wage war  and computers can simulate “wars” that play themselves out on-screen  without any human involvement.

More generally, we should define war as a self-replicating  pattern of activity that may or may not require human participation.

In  the human case, we know it is capable of spreading geographically and  evolving rapidly over time — qualities that, as I suggested somewhat fancifully, make war a metaphorical successor to the predatory animals  that shaped humans into fighters in the first place.

A decade and a half later, these musings do not seem quite so airy  and abstract anymore. The trend, at the close of the twentieth century,  still seemed to be one of ever more massive human involvement in war —  from armies containing tens of thousands in the sixteenth century, to  hundreds of thousands in the nineteenth, and eventually millions in the  twentieth century world wars.

It was the ascending scale of war that originally called forth the existence of the nation-state as an administrative unit capable of maintaining mass armies and the infrastructure — for taxation, weapons manufacture, transport, etc. — that they require.

War has been, and we still expect it to be, the most massive collective project human beings undertake. But it has been evolving quickly in a very different direction, one in which human beings have a much smaller role to play.

One factor driving this change has been the emergence of a new kind of enemy, so-called “non-state actors,” meaning popular insurgencies and loose transnational networks of fighters, none of which are likely to field large numbers of troops or maintain expensive arsenals of their own.

In the face of these new enemies, typified by al-Qaeda, the mass armies of nation-states are highly ineffective, cumbersome to deploy, difficult to maneuver, and from a domestic point of view, overly dependent on a citizenry that is both willing and able to fight, or at least to have their children fight for them.

Yet just as U.S. military cadets continue, in defiance of military reality, to sport swords on their dress uniforms, our leaders, both military and political, tend to cling to an idea of war as a vast, labor-intensive effort on the order of World War II.

Only slowly, and with a reluctance bordering on the phobic, have the leaders of major states begun to grasp the fact that this approach to warfare may soon be obsolete.

Consider the most recent U.S. war with Iraq.

According to then-president George W. Bush, the casus belli was the 9/11 terror attacks.  The causal link between that event and our chosen enemy, Iraq, was, however, imperceptible to all but the most dedicated inside-the-Beltway intellectuals.

Nineteen men had hijacked airplanes and flown them into the Pentagon and the World Trade Center — 15 of them Saudi Arabians, none of them Iraqis — and we went to war against… Iraq?

Military history offers no ready precedents for such wildly misaimed retaliation. The closest analogies come from anthropology, which provides plenty of cases of small-scale societies in which the death of any member, for any reason, needs to be “avenged” by an attack on a more or less randomly chosen other tribe or hamlet.

Why Iraq?

Neoconservative imperial ambitions have been invoked in explanation, as well as the American thirst for oil, or even an Oedipal contest between George W. Bush and his father.

There is no doubt some truth to all of these explanations, but the targeting of Iraq also represented a desperate and irrational response to what was, for Washington, an utterly confounding military situation.

We faced a state-less enemy — geographically diffuse, lacking uniforms and flags, invulnerable to invading infantries and saturation bombing, and apparently capable of regenerating itself at minimal expense.

From the perspective of Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and his White House cronies, this would not do. (Meaning from Israel point of view or the “christian” Evangelical Zionists)

Since the U.S. was accustomed to fighting other nation-states — geopolitical entities containing such identifiable targets as capital cities, airports, military bases, and munitions plants — we would have to find a nation-state to fight, or as Rumsfeld put it, a “target-rich environment.

Iraq, pumped up by alleged stockpiles of “weapons of mass destruction,” became the designated surrogate for an enemy that refused to play our game.

The effects of this atavistic war are still being tallied: in Iraq, we would have to include civilian deaths estimated at possibly hundreds of thousands, the destruction of civilian infrastructure, and devastating outbreaks of sectarian violence of a kind that, as we should have learned from the dissolution of Yugoslavia, can readily follow the death or removal of a nationalist dictator.

But the effects of war on the U.S. and its allies may end up being almost as tragic.

Instead of punishing the terrorists who had attacked the U.S., the war seems to have succeeded in recruiting more such irregular fighters, young men (and sometimes women) willing to die and ready to commit further acts of terror or revenge.

By insisting on fighting a more or less randomly selected nation-state, the U.S. may only have multiplied the non-state threats it faces.

Unwieldy Armies

Whatever they may think of what the U.S. and its allies did in Iraq, many national leaders are beginning to acknowledge that conventional militaries are becoming, in a strictly military sense, almost ludicrously anachronistic. Not only are they unsuited to crushing counterinsurgencies and small bands of terrorists or irregular fighters, but mass armies are simply too cumbersome to deploy on short notice.

In military lingo, they are weighed down by their “tooth to tail” ratio — a measure of the number of actual fighters in comparison to the support personnel and equipment the fighters require. Both hawks and liberal interventionists may hanker to airlift tens of thousands of soldiers to distant places virtually overnight, but those soldiers will need to be preceded or accompanied by tents, canteens, trucks, medical equipment, and so forth.

“Flyover” rights will have to be granted by neighboring countries; air strips and eventually bases will have to be constructed; supply lines will have be created and defended — all of which can take months to accomplish.

The sluggishness of the mass, labor-intensive military has become a constant source of frustration to civilian leaders. Irritated by the Pentagon’s hesitation to put “boots on the ground” in Bosnia, then-Secretary of State Madeline Albright famously demanded of Secretary of Defense Colin Powell, “What good is this marvelous military force if we can never use it?”

In 2009, the Obama administration unthinkingly proposed a troop surge in Afghanistan, followed by a withdrawal within a year and a half that would have required some of the troops to start packing up almost as soon as they arrived. It took the U.S. military a full month to organize the transport of 20,000 soldiers to Haiti in the wake of the 2010 earthquake — and they were only traveling 700 miles to engage in a humanitarian relief mission, not a war.

Another thing hobbling mass militaries is the increasing unwillingness of nations, especially the more democratic ones, to risk large numbers of casualties. It is no longer acceptable to drive men into battle at gunpoint or to demand that they fend for themselves on foreign soil.

Once thousands of soldiers have been plunked down in a “theater,” they must be defended from potentially hostile locals, a project that can easily come to supersede the original mission.

We may not be able clearly to articulate what American troops were supposed to accomplish in Iraq or Afghanistan, but without question one part of their job has been “force protection.” In what could be considered the inverse of “mission creep,” instead of expanding, the mission now has a tendency to contract to the task of self-defense.

Ultimately, the mass militarist of the modern era, augmented by ever-more expensive weapons systems, place an unacceptable economic burden on the nation-states that support them — a burden that eventually may undermine the militaries themselves.

Consider what has been happening to the world’s sole military superpower, the United States. The latest estimate for the cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is, at this moment, at least $3.2 trillion, while total U.S. military spending equals that of the next 15 countries combined, and adds up to approximately 47% of all global military spending.

To this must be added the cost of caring for wounded and otherwise damaged veterans, which has been mounting precipitously as medical advances allow more of the injured to survive.  The U.S. military has been sheltered from the consequences of its own profligacy by a level of bipartisan political support that has kept it almost magically immune to budget cuts, even as the national debt balloons to levels widely judged to be unsustainable.

The hard right, in particular, has campaigned relentlessly against “big government,” apparently not noticing that the military is a sizable chunk of this behemoth.

In December 2010, for example, a Republican senator from Oklahoma railed against the national debt with this statement: “We’re really at war. We’re on three fronts now: Iraq, Afghanistan, and the financial tsunami  [arising from the debt] that is facing us.” Only in recent months have some Tea Party-affiliated legislators broken with tradition by declaring their willingness to cut military spending.

How the Warfare State Became the Welfare State

If military spending is still for the most part sacrosanct, ever more spending cuts are required to shrink “big government.”  Then what remains is the cutting of domestic spending, especially social programs for the poor, who lack the means to finance politicians, and all too often the incentive to vote as well.

From the Reagan years on, the U.S. government has chipped away at dozens of programs that had helped sustain people who are underpaid or unemployed, including housing subsidies, state-supplied health insurance, public transportation, welfare for single parents, college tuition aid, and inner-city economic development projects.

Even the physical infrastructure — bridges, airports, roads, and tunnels — used by people of all classes has been left at dangerous levels of disrepair. Antiwar protestors wistfully point out, year after year, what the cost of our high-tech weapon systems, our global network of more than 1,000 military bases, and our various “interventions” could buy if applied to meeting domestic human needs. But to no effect.

This ongoing sacrifice of domestic welfare for military “readiness” represents the reversal of a historic trend. Ever since the introduction of mass armies in Europe in the seventeenth century, governments have generally understood that to underpay and underfeed one’s troops — and the class of people that supplies them — is to risk having the guns pointed in the opposite direction from that which the officers recommend.

In fact, modern welfare states, inadequate as they may be, are in no small part the product of war — that is, of governments’ attempts to appease soldiers and their families. In the U.S., for example, the Civil War led to the institution of widows’ benefits, which were the predecessor of welfare in its Aid to Families with Dependent Children form. It was the bellicose German leader Otto von Bismarck who first instituted national health insurance.

World War II spawned educational benefits and income support for American veterans and led, in the United Kingdom, to a comparatively generous welfare state, including free health care for all.

Notions of social justice and fairness, or at least the fear of working class insurrections, certainly played a part in the development of twentieth century welfare states, but there was a pragmatic military motivation as well: if young people are to grow up to be effective troops, they need to be healthy, well-nourished, and reasonably well-educated.

In the U.S., the steady withering of social programs that might nurture future troops even serves, ironically, to justify increased military spending. In the absence of a federal jobs program, Congressional representatives become fierce advocates for weapons systems that the Pentagon itself has no use for, as long as the manufacture of those weapons can provide employment for some of their constituents.

With diminishing funds for higher education, military service becomes a less dismal alternative for young working-class people than the low-paid jobs that otherwise await them. The U.S. still has a civilian welfare state consisting largely of programs for the elderly (Medicare and Social Security). For many younger Americans, however, as well as for older combat veterans, the U.S. military is the welfare state — and a source, however temporarily, of jobs, housing, health care and education.

Eventually, however, the failure to invest in America’s human resources — through spending on health, education, and so forth — undercuts the military itself. In World War I, public health experts were shocked to find that one-third of conscripts were rejected as physically unfit for service; they were too weak and flabby or too damaged by work-related accidents.

Several generations later, in 2010, the U.S. Secretary of Education reported that “75 percent of young Americans, between the ages of 17 to 24, are unable to enlist in the military today because they have failed to graduate from high school, have a criminal record, or are physically unfit.”

(Wonderful news: Drop the Gendarme notion of controlling the world)

When a nation can no longer generate enough young people who are fit for military service, that nation has two choices: it can, as a number of prominent retired generals are currently advocating, reinvest in its “human capital,” especially the health and education of the poor, or it can seriously reevaluate its approach to war.

The Fog of (Robot) War

Since the rightward, anti-“big government” tilt of American politics more or less precludes the former, the U.S. has been scrambling to develop less labor-intensive forms of waging war. In fact, this may prove to be the ultimate military utility of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan: if they have gained the U.S. no geopolitical advantage, they have certainly served as laboratories and testing grounds for forms of future warfare that involve less human, or at least less governmental, commitment.

One step in that direction has been the large-scale use of military contract workers supplied by private companies, which can be seen as a revival of the age-old use of mercenaries.  Although most of the functions that have been outsourced to private companies — including food services, laundry, truck driving, and construction — do not involve combat, they are dangerous, and some contract workers have even been assigned to the guarding of convoys and military bases.

Contractors are still men and women, capable of bleeding and dying — and surprising numbers of them have indeed died.  In the initial six months of 2010, corporate deaths exceeded military deaths in Iraq and Afghanistan for the first time. But the Pentagon has little or no responsibility for the training, feeding, or care of private contractors.

If wounded or psychologically damaged, American contract workers must turn, like any other injured civilian employees, to the Workers’ Compensation system, hence their sense of themselves as a “disposable army.”  By 2009, the trend toward privatization had gone so far that the number of private contractors in Afghanistan exceeded the number of American troops there.

An alternative approach is to eliminate or drastically reduce the military’s dependence on human beings of any kind.  This would have been an almost unthinkable proposition a few decades ago, but technologies employed in Iraq and Afghanistan have steadily stripped away the human role in war. Drones, directed from sites up to 7,500 miles away in the western United States, are replacing manned aircraft.

Video cameras, borne by drones, substitute for human scouts or information gathered by pilots. Robots disarm roadside bombs. When American forces invaded Iraq in 2003, no robots accompanied them; by 2008, there were 12,000 participating in the war.

Only a handful of drones were used in the initial invasion; today, the U.S. military has an inventory of more than 7,000, ranging from the familiar Predator to tiny Ravens and Wasps used to transmit video images of events on the ground.  Far stranger fighting machines are in the works, like swarms of lethal “cyborg insects” that could potentially replace human infantry.

These developments are by no means limited to the U.S. The global market for military robotics and unmanned military vehicles is growing fast, and includes Israel, a major pioneer in the field, Russia, the United Kingdom, Iran, South Korea, and China.

Turkey is reportedly readying a robot force for strikes against Kurdish insurgents. (Not likely. The Kurds have advanced robots)

Israel hopes to eventually patrol the Gaza border with “see-shoot” robots that will destroy people perceived as transgressors as soon as they are detected. (Will Not need much programming: whoever you detect, shoot to kill)

It is hard to predict how far the automation of war and the substitution of autonomous robots for human fighters will go. On the one hand, humans still have the advantage of superior visual discrimination.  Despite decades of research in artificial intelligence, computers cannot make the kind of simple distinctions — as in determining whether a cow standing in front of a barn is a separate entity or a part of the barn — that humans can make in a fraction of a second.

Thus, as long as there is any premium on avoiding civilian deaths, humans have to be involved in processing the visual information that leads, for example, to the selection of targets for drone attacks. If only as the equivalent of seeing-eye dogs, humans will continue to have a role in war, at least until computer vision improves.

On the other hand, the human brain lacks the bandwidth to process all the data flowing into it, especially as new technologies multiply that data. In the clash of traditional mass armies, under a hail of arrows or artillery shells, human warriors often found themselves confused and overwhelmed, a condition attributed to “the fog of war.”

, that fog is growing a lot thicker. U.S. military officials, for instance, put the blame on “information overload” for the killing of 23 Afghan civilians in February 2010, and the New York Times reported that:

“Across the military, the data flow has surged; since the attacks of 9/11, the amount of intelligence gathered by remotely piloted drones and other surveillance technologies has risen 1,600 percent. On the ground, troops increasingly use hand-held devices to communicate, get directions and set bombing coordinates. And the screens in jets can be so packed with data that some pilots call them “drool buckets” because, they say, they can get lost staring into them.”

When the sensory data coming at a soldier is augmented by a flood of instantaneously transmitted data from distant cameras and computer search engines, there may be no choice but to replace the sloppy “wet-ware” of the human brain with a robotic system for instant response.

War Without Humans

Once set in place, the cyber-automation of war is hard to stop.  Humans will cling to their place “in the loop” as long as they can, no doubt insisting that the highest level of decision-making — whether to go to war and with whom — be reserved for human leaders. But it is precisely at the highest levels that decision-making may most need automating.

A head of state faces a blizzard of factors to consider, everything from historical analogies and satellite-derived intelligence to assessments of the readiness of potential allies. Furthermore, as the enemy automates its military, or in the case of a non-state actor, simply adapts to our level of automation, the window of time for effective responses will grow steadily narrower. Why not turn to a high-speed computer? It is certainly hard to imagine a piece of intelligent hardware deciding to respond to the 9/11 attacks by invading Iraq.

So, after at least 10,000 years of intra-species fighting — of scorched earth, burned villages, razed cities, and piled up corpses, as well, of course, as all the great epics of human literature — we have to face the possibility that the institution of war might no longer need us for its perpetuation.

Human desires, especially for the Earth’s diminishing supply of resources, will still instigate wars for some time to come, but neither human courage nor human blood-lust will carry the day on the battlefield.

Computers will assess threats and calibrate responses; drones will pinpoint enemies; robots might roll into the streets of hostile cities. Beyond the individual battle or smaller-scale encounter, decisions as to whether to match attack with counterattack, or one lethal technological innovation with another, may also be eventually ceded to alien minds.

This should not come as a complete surprise. Just as war has shaped human social institutions for millennia, so has it discarded them as the evolving technology of war rendered them useless. When war was fought with blades by men on horseback, it favored the rule of aristocratic warrior elites. When the mode of fighting shifted to action-at-a-distance weapons like bows and guns, the old elites had to bow to the central authority of kings, who, in turn, were undone by the democratizing forces unleashed by new mass armies.

Even patriarchy cannot depend on war for its long-term survival, since the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have, at least within U.S. forces, established women’s worth as warriors. Over the centuries, human qualities once deemed indispensable to war fighting — muscular power, manliness, intelligence, judgment — have one by one become obsolete or been ceded to machines.

What will happen then to the “passions of war”?

Except for individual acts of martyrdom, war is likely to lose its glory and luster. Military analyst P.W. Singer quotes an Air Force captain musing about whether the new technologies will “mean that brave men and women will no longer face death in combat,” only to reassure himself that “there will always be a need for intrepid souls to fling their bodies across the sky.”

Perhaps, but in a 2010 address to Air Force Academy cadets, an under secretary of defense delivered the “bad news” that most of them would not be flying airplanes, which are increasingly unmanned.

War will continue to be used against insurgencies as well as to “take out” the weapons facilities, command centers, and cities of designated rogue states. It may even continue to fascinate its aficionados, in the manner of computer games. But there will be no triumphal parades for killer nano-bugs, no epics about unmanned fighter planes, no monuments to fallen bots.

And in that may lie our last hope. With the decline of mass militaries and their possible replacement by machines, we may finally see that war is not just an extension of our needs and passions, however base or noble.

Nor is it likely to be even a useful test of our courage, fitness, or national unity. War has its own dynamic or — in case that sounds too anthropomorphic — its own grim algorithms to work out. As it comes to need us less, maybe we will finally see that we don’t need it either. We can leave it to the ants.

Barbara Ehrenreich is the author of a number of books including Nickel and Dimed: On (Not) Getting By in America and Bright-Sided: How the Relentless Promotion of Positive Thinking Has Undermined America. This essay is a revised and updated version of the afterword to the British edition of Blood Rites: Origins and History of the Passions of War (Granta, 2011).  To listen to Timothy MacBain’s latest TomCast audio interview in which  Ehrenreich discusses the nature of war and how to fight against it,  click here, or download it to your iPod here.

Copyright 2011 Barbara Ehrenreich

How safe are the British after cow-tailing USA multiple pre-emptive wars?

Moazzam Begg Friday 29 December 2017

Prime Minister Theresa May used her Christmas message this year to pay tribute to the armed forces and remind the country that their sacrifices are “keeping us safe”. But are they?

Last week the High Court held that British troops serving in Iraq following the 2003 US-led invasion had subjected Iraqi civilians to “cruel and inhuman” treatment. It added that the treatment of prisoners by British soldiers meant that the Ministry of Defence also violated the Human Rights Act (1998).

The cycle of violence continues but we were forewarned about all of this by our own security services

Cruel and inhuman

Some have argued that the human rights advocates have purposefully sought to undermine the state and encouraged the “victim mentality” among Muslims. That in turn has given ammunition to the burgeoning far-right movements throughout the West.

The Conservative Party actively opposes the Human Rights Act, which it asserts gives more rights to prisoners – including those held without charge or trial – and has pledged to replace it with a “bill of rights” more in tune with British idiosyncrasies than those in the European Court of Human Rights.

Phil Shiner was once celebrated among Britain’s top human rights lawyers because of his dogged persistence in bringing British soldiers accused of abuses in Iraq to book (Reuters)

They cite the case of Phil Shiner, once celebrated among Britain’s top human rights lawyers precisely because of his dogged persistence in bringing British soldiers accused of abuses in Iraq to book.

Earlier this year, Shiner was struck off as a solicitor after being found guilty of “professional misconduct”. Shiner’s law firm, Public Interest Lawyers (PIL), represented countless Iraqis who claimed they had been abused by British soldiers during the occupation.

Thousands of cases were referred by PIL to the government’s Iraq Historic Allegations Team (IHAT) which “independently” reviewed the cases.

The Battle of Danny Boy

In May 2004, a British detachment of soldiers patrolling in southern Iraq were ambushed by the Mahdi Army, a pro-Iranian militia run by Iraqi cleric Moqtada al-Sadr who had mobilised Iraqi Shias against the occupation. The ensuing incident became known as the “Battle of Danny Boy”.

Fighting was intense and hand-to-hand in some places as soldiers resorted to using bayonets. After taking control, it was alleged that British soldiers tortured, murdered and mutilated captured Iraqi prisoners.

Protesters outside the Chilcot report inquiry in July 2016 (AFP)

Shiner was accused of paying an Iraqi middleman to find witnesses who concocted the allegations. Several years later, the multi-million-pound Al Sweady inquiry determined that the allegations were “wholly baseless”.

The impact of the allegations on the morale of the soldiers was summed up by Colonel James Coote who’d held a commanding position during Danny Boy: “The false allegations levelled against the soldiers in my command were among the most serious against the British army since the Second World War.”

Despite Shiner’s fall from grace, however, PIL’s work in exposing British abuses in Iraq make for disturbing reading.

Culture of impunity

Shiner’s most prominent case was Baha Mousa, an Iraqi hotel receptionist killed by British soldiers in 2003.

Mousa was terrorised, denied food and water, suffered heat exhaustion, hooded, put in stress positions and beaten to death. His body had 93 injuries.

A public inquiry in 2011 found that Mousa suffered “serious, gratuitous violence” and identified many other soldiers involved in abuses.

Notwithstanding Al-Sweady and Shiner, in 2016 IHAT was actively investigating nearly 300 British soldiers who served in Iraq and informed them that they could face criminal charges.

Despite that, the government announced this year it would be shutting down IHAT after it “directly harmed the defence of our nation” following the Shiner case.

The government also conceded settlements in favour of 326 civil cases, while another 628 claims remain, and yet criminal charges have never been brought against any military personnel.

A pervasive culture of impunity clearly exists.

Last year, David Cameron ordered the government to crack down on legal firms seeking to pursue claims against Iraq veterans and took the unprecedented threat to sue those thought to be manufacturing “spurious” claims.

Theresa May has followed suit against what her former defence secretary called “ambulance-chasing British law firms“. But evidence from these firms is credible enough for the International Criminal Court (ICC) to use in its investigation.

The bullying tactics seem to have failed.

Tony Blair visits British troops in Iraq in May 2003 (AFP)

Earlier this month, the chief prosecutor of the ICC at the Hague ruled that there was a “reasonable basis” to assert British soldiers had committed “war crimes” against prisoners during the occupation of Iraq.

The allegations, now being investigated by the ICC, pertain to various human rights violations including “wilful killing and inhuman treatment” in British military custody.

From bad to worse

On the eve of the invasion of Iraq, Colonel Tim Collins gave a stirring speech to his soldiers and told them to “tread lightly” in “the birthplace of Abraham” and “respect” the people of Iraq. He also told them to be “ferocious in battle” but “magnanimous in victory”. Collins clearly wanted his troops to live up to what he believed were military ideals.

“Their [Iraqi] children will be poor, in years to come they will know that the light of liberation in their lives was brought by you… As for ourselves, let’s bring everyone home and leave Iraq a better place for us having been there.” History will attest to how much “better” Iraq became.

The justification to invade Iraq was based on false claims that Saddam Hussain possessed weapons of mass destruction and that Iraq was training al-Qaeda in their use.

This evidence came from the “dodgy dossier” and the torture of Ibn al-Sheikh al-Libi.

In Baghdad’s Karrada neighbourhood after a suicide bombing last July (AFP)

This lie was peddled to everyone, especially the military. Soldiers were made to believe that they were going to save the world from the existential threat posed by Saddam, his Baath Party followers and al-Qaeda.

The origins of the cycle of violence

As occupation forces settled in, local power was systemically divested from all remnants of the Iraqi regime – and those deemed close to it, namely Iraq’s Sunnis – and the country’s infrastructure was effectively dismantled, including the army and the police.

The Shia population, which had been brutally repressed under Saddam, was now led by politicians and leaders who wielded control of militias bent on seeking revenge. Sunnis were increasingly excluded and marginalised and sectarianism was allowed to manifest.

“Death squads” carried out atrocities on both sides, even as British and American soldiers were committing their own. Meanwhile, as Britain’s mission in Iraq came to an end, prime minister Gordon Brown told the world: “We have made a huge contribution and of course given people an economic stake in the future of Iraq. We leave Iraq a better place.”

It was ultimately the occupation’s empowerment of one sect against another that dismembered Iraq. Today, the impunity enjoyed by the US-led occupation forces is being repeated in the fight against Islamic State.

British soldiers mark the conclusion of the British-Iraqi Training and Maritime Support Agreement in Umm Qasr, close to the southern city of Basra (AFP)

The abuses carried out by the Iraqi army and militias are at times worse than their opponents. And they have been financed, trained and supported on the ground by British and American troops.

Islamic State in turn has carried out numerous attacks on British soil. The cycle of violence thus continues but we were forewarned about all of this by our own security services.

The Iraq record

On 10 February 2003, a Joint Intelligence Committee briefing clearly warned the government.

The threat from al-Qaeda will increase at the onset of any military action against Iraq. They will target Western interests, especially in the US and UK, for maximum impact. The worldwide threat from other Islamist terrorist groups and individuals will increase significantly.

“Al-Qaeda and associated groups will continue to represent by far the greatest terrorist threat to Western interests, and that threat will be heightened by military action against Iraq. The broader threat from Islamist terrorists will also increase in the event of war, reflecting intensified anti-US/anti-Western sentiment in the Muslim world, including among Muslim communities in the West.”

Before leaving office former US president Barack Obama admitted that Islamic State was an “unintended consequence” of the invasion of Iraq even though America and Britain has been involved in bombing, invading, occupying and imprisoning Iraqis continuously since 1991. Blowback was just a question of time.

Some may believe that British troops abroad are/were keeping us safe at home but, in truth, their record in Iraq is among the primary reasons why Britain is facing the greatest terrorism threat since the Irish “Troubles”.

– Moazzam Begg is a former Guantanamo Bay detainee, author of Enemy Combatant and outreach director for UK-based campaigning organisation CAGE. Follow him on Twitter: @Moazzam_Begg

“Invasion of Iraq, a war crime? Arguments against Blair must be heard

Notes and tidbits posted on FB and Twitter. Part 86

Note 1: I take notes of books I read and comment on events and edit sentences that fit my style. The page is long and growing like crazy, and the sections I post contains months-old events that are worth refreshing your memory.

Note 2: If you are Not tri-lingual, you will stumble on Arabic notes, written in Latin characters and with numbers representing vocals Not available in Latin languages.

Our world of appearances, amid symbolic non assimilated meaning, is linked to the invisible: everything that our senses have  captured but failed to interpret it for our survival sake.

How many of collateral damaged people are reduced to be sleepless creatures howling in night dreams?

A single cop in a police car remembers the golden rule “ Time is on our side. There is no urgency for fast-breaking situations...”

When males are forced to participate in the daily maintenance tasks of life, external pre-emptive wars of bored people will drop substantially.

The multiple structural chains that females have to get liberated from are Not giving humanity a reprieve for a genuine war of practical worthy values

The Chinese province of Xingjian borders Russia, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Kirghistan, Tajikistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, and Tibet. Th Ouigour (Moslem) in this strategic location for the Silk Road are being forcefully transferred.

Liberalism is a political jargon used by the colonial powers to throw smokescreen on outright economic embezzlement and coercion on developing States.

Liberalism is also a financial jargon expressing the will that all financial activities must be linked through Banks, directly linked to one of the 8 families related to the Rothschild House (hoarding $300 trillion). It fits the saying “Little cloud, you may wander any which way you want, where you rain your proceeds will return to me” (Harun Rashid, Abbasid caliph)

Les idees d’ un intellectuel existent deja. Les exprimees est un procesus  lent de persistence et d’ endurance pour les clarifiees a soi-meme. L’ engagement et la communication (sharing) font parti de ce procesus.

Les cultures ancrees sur les expressions religieuses se meurent sans des revolutions cherchant a decouvrir la part individuelle de l’ homme dans l’ existence.

Social and political engagement and communication have the task of adding complexity to ideas before attempting to simplifying the expression to clarify them to ourselves

Si une generation nouvelle ne parvient pas a creer de nouveaux mots et expressions, c’ est que la culture se meurt.

This new proportional election law in Lebanon is generating wide alliances in each traditional “leader’s” province. At least verbally, before the election time hits the shit.

Toutes les liaisons sont dangereuses, quand on veut bien s’en apercevoir.

Ce serait si plaisant si on peut et sait observer les diverses sensations de douleur et de plaisir sans agir sur les faits recueillis

Jamais la force d’ etre independent est dissociee de comportement masochist.

Les consequences de son comportement sont feministes, meme si ses intentions ne le sont pas. Ce qui me va tres bien.

Notre independence de celui qu’ on aime n’ est pas si evident. Surtout lorsque l’ autre ne sait pas combien j’ en depends

Je me fais confiance en apprenant. Je ne lui fais pas confiance: Je l’ aime.

A little bit more power can snatch a Gold medal. In existential struggles, just a bit of power can overcome an enemy.

La femme n’a que ses chaines a perdre? Et aussi toutes les minorites qui s’attachent a leurs myths pour survivre. Donc la femme a plusieus chaines entrecroisees pour s’ emanciper.
Evaluating level of individual power in games is Not reduced to physical measures. Endurance, persistence, training procedures and the will to snatch a Gold are Not tangible measures.
Any organization that adopts the slogan: “Obey and then ask questions” is a mafia-oriented association
It is your responsibility Never to give order to anyone unable to reflect on the consequences of your order.
 
Dissequer les reflets indecidables des exceptions humaines, en marge d’ une logique universelle qui se trouve mieux confirmee, est le conformism le plus dangereux de la dissection

Which Dictator Killed The Most People?

Note 1:  All dictators, even the most charismatic, are but symbols of a system (dogmatic/ ideological) that the political leaders and society were ripe to adopt.  The silent majority who initially didn’t care, succumbed to the violent and radical minority.

They say that it takes compassion for humanity, love for country and a strong pursuit of justice and mercy, to become a strong and respected leader of the masses.

However, every once in a while, there are politicians or generals who decide to do things their own way. These cold-blooded dictators do not care for the value of life as much as they do for achieving their selfish motives of domination, power and immortality.

This infographic shows worldwide dictators ordered by the number of killings: 1 drop, 1 million dead. (Click the picture for a larger version)

Apparently, Hitler and Stalin combined killed less people that Mao Zedong…

Can you fill in this blank for me?
Adolf Hitler == Holocaust of minorities, gypsies, including Jews. The war brought to execution the racist view of Nazism. Empirial Germany committed and supported genocides before Nazism in their colonies and in Turkey

Lenine: The great famine (1917-22). The western nations at war with Germany blockaded Russia and supported with weapons and mercenaries the Tsarist military that encircled the Soviet rebels on all fronts, except Germany.
Joseph Stalin == Purges, Goulac…before the German invasion
Mao Zedong == Great Leap Forward, Cultural Revolution (1966-70)
Chiang Kai Check = massacre of communists before Japan occupied China (1933-37)

Young Turk Revolution of 1908: genocide of Christians and Armenians (1915-18)

Japan: massacres in Korea, Manchouria,

Pol Pot of the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia: 2 million

George Bush Jr: 1.5 million Iraqis

Rwanda genocide, supported by France

Republican France killed one million Algerian

Belgium killed and maimed 5 millions in its Congo colony for collecting rubber

One commentator said: This graph is just old argument to blame socialism not by ideology but number of dead, those number are taken from books like “The Black Book of Communism” written by obsessed people against communism, over-exaggeration of estimates (there’s no real base for the number)

Note: The USA has proven to have committed the worst crimes against humanity since its inception and continues to be top on the list as the worst White racist system of all times.

It wanted to maintain slave system and took arms against England who had banned it.

It massacred every Indian tribe that resisted expansion.

It slaughtered the Mexicans to rob their lands.

It dropped 2 atomic bombs and frequently exploded atomic bombs in open air

The bodies of the Blacks are still disposable at any second. Blacks live in constant fear of ever ready police forces and white gangs shouting at them for minor excuses

The countless pre-emptive wars around the world have caused mind-boggling atrocities and no one ever was put to trial. At the turn of the century, the US occupied the Philippines, Cuba, Panama, Puerto Rico, and many islands snatched from Spain on the excuse of failing to repaying its debts. All these activities under to guise of encouraging democracy.

It exacted millions of dead in Viet Nam and Korea

Over one million Iraqi civilians died in the 2003 occupation of Iraq. Depleated uranium bombs are still causing babies to be born deformed.

It invited ISIS to move in and occupy Mosul after Iraq refused to extend the presence of US troops in 2013 and after Russia denied US from bombing Syria during Obama.

Read More: http://www.trueactivist.com/which-dictator-killed-the-most-people/

 

Oriana Falaci is wrong

Note: I decided to abridge a previous article denouncing the rambling of late Oriana Falaci aginst Moslems and comparing the new extremist factions behavior as resembling St. John’s apocalyptic vision.

            Oriana Falaci is an Italian journalist turned writer; she was dying of cancer when she published her last book “Falaci interviews Falaci” followed by “Apocalypse”.  Falaci was a very liberal personality most of her life, defending the oppressed, until she turned sour and dissatisfied with the state of affairs perpetrated by the slaughtering of foreign hostages by Moslem extremists in Russia, Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, Falaci was furious that all the recent terrorist activities in Europe such as in Spain, Italy, France, Holland and Russia were executed by Moslems. 

Falaci practiced selective amnesia in this book to avoid mentioning the genocides and terrorist activities in former Yugoslavia that were perpetrated by Christians, Catholics and Orthodox, and the daily terrorism in Iraq among the Moslems sects of Sunni and Shi3a.  Falaci went as far as supporting anyone, even Nazis or fascists, as long that the political program was to stop Moslems’ immigration to Europe and to never provide them with the legitimacy of a European citizenship.  Falaci ended her career by lashing out at legislations that permit homosexuals and lesbians to officially marry and adopt children “because it is a sin” and contrary to human procreation process. 

Oriana Falaci had made up her mind that there are no moderate Moslems, lest they are Moslems by birth but are no longer practicing  believers: simply because the Koran is the Koran and there is no way to interpret the Sourates to coincide with civil laws in the western nations. 

The vehement attitude of Falaci toward Islam stems from two premises; first, all of the terrorist attacks in the World are perpetrated by Moslems, and second, the practices of Moslems’ behavior in the Western World are based on the teaching of the Koran which cannot be reconciled with the rational civil laws in the western countries they live in.  I have responded on these two premises in my previous article and will focus on the alternative apocalyptic versions.

            Falacy used St. John’s apocalyptic vision to offer her version of Islam as the Monster and enliven her ejaculations and substantiate her stand, as if a flawed concept can be clarified by a more obscure premise.  In St. John’s apocalyptic version a Monster with seven heads and ten corns would emerge from the sea and the Beast on land would execute all the Monster’s orders until the an angel descend from heaven and lock the Monster and punish the Beasts. Thus, the Monster is Islam and the Beast is represented by the European liberals and leaders who are trying to appease Moslems and exhorting them to moderation by dangling carrots instead of raising the heavy sticks.

            The Monster is to emerge from the sea, though the Moslem World is mostly a vast desert until now.  Either the 100-years old St. John was completely dehydrated, and thus seeing mirages, or he had a vision of another Ice Age period and thus, wet continents have exchanged climatic states, or Falaci was getting out of whack and delving into uncharted territories.

            For the time being, the USA is the only superpower located smack between the Pacific and the Atlantic; the USA has waged two World Wars and invaded Asia and Europe and the only superpower to have landed troops in all continents and are still present, even after the end of the last “hot” world war more than 60 years ago. The USA has many heads in finance, economy, technology, sciences, mass media, music and movie production, agriculture, and a military supremacy with extra three corns in space exploration, maritime hegemony, and genetic experimentation. 

            The Beast can be represented by the world States leaders executing the US Administrations orders, then the intelligencia and educated people interpreting favorably the misinformation that the successive US administrations are propagating to spread democracy by pre-emptive wars.

Many leaders are emulating the Beast, either out of fear of economic embargo, military reprisals, ordered terrorist activities, or because of local politics, or allegiance to the neo-conservative program. 

So far, many nations have joined the Bush Junior war on Iraq without the sanction of the UN, and most of them have ended up retrieving their troops after seeing the light or their leaders failing in elections.  The three main Beasts to shoulder this pre-emptive war were Blair of Britain, Saudi Arabia, and Israel.  I will only focus on the Saudi Monarchy/Theocracy Beast.

            Wolfowitz has said after the US troops entered Iraq: “Now, we can get our troops out of Saudi Arabia, after twenty years, without fear of destabilizing the region.”  There is no doubt that Saudi Arabia not only encouraged the US with its plan to invade Iraq but also financed this campaign directly and indirectly.  The Saudi Wahabi caste was first, getting revenge on the Iraqis for giving their supremacy over the other castes in Saudi Arabia the scare of their life in 1993: Saddam  invaded Kuwait and approached the Saudi Arabia, second, the Wahabi caste was encouraging the US to get its troops out of Saudi Arabia because Ben Laden was recruiting heavily on the basis of the “infidel Christians” spreading their impurity in the land, third, because the Saudi Monarchy and Wahabi caste are completely reliant on the US to maintaining their social structure, and fourth to keep communist China influence out of the Iraq, Iran, and Syria.

            The Monster can be named; it is the neo-conservatives in the USA.  They are an amalgam of dozens of Baptist and Protestant sects with the main single belief in the process of how the Second Coming of their Messiah is going to happen. The neo-conservatives are clamoring that all the Jews should be relocated in Israel and then, after the Jews re-build their famous Temple in Jerusalem, they will launch a targeted crusade toward Israel, with the intention of Christianizing the new heretics of Jews; this campaign would be effective and completed and only then the Messiah would feel comfortable to come back!

The odds are the neo-conservatives would repeat Titus’ feat of destroying the newly erected Temple and scatter the Jews all over the world.  If the Jews believe that the support of the USA is free of charge then they are under the spell of the demon; the Jews will have to pay back everything with high interest too.         

            Falaci had a most striking interpretation of why the intelligent Ussama Ben Laden decided to televise an appearance a couple of days before the second Presidential US election of Bush Junior.  Ben Laden warned the Americans that if they re-elect Bush then he will have no option but to repeat another deadly strike.  Ben Laden knew that his speech will galvanize the arrogant US citizens into shedding their apathy for voting and move in mass to voting heavily for Bush against the favorite Kerry.  The Bush Administration needed Ben Laden alive to sustain their propaganda against Islam and linger a while longer in Iraq.  Ben Laden needed Bush in power to recruit heavily among the anti-American Moslems. This is the ultimate deal between the staunchest extremist Beasts to wreck havoc in the world and create a definite cultural clash between the Christian West and the Islamic World.

            The current generally rigid Islam is a major factor to the prevention of effective communication between the West and the Moslem World but it is not the only main factor.  Most of the Moslem World is organized in Caste Systems (closed religious autonomous sects) due to the influence of India and the domination of the successive Mongol Empires to the whole region for over ten centuries.  The most effective venue is not to lambaste mercilessly Islam but to aid our region to gradually break out of our caste structures so that we may communicate first internally as a society and then open up to the West later on as people free to speak and publish our opinions without undue internal harassments. This gradual change is not meant to impose democracy by pre-emptive wars but to allow our societies to invent alternative open systems that work in each Middle East States.

I could not help but write a short poem related to the same theme.  Worst, I could not help but sharing it with you; it is titled “Redundant Prophets“:

 Tormented youths, hearing voices, experiencing apocalyptic nightmares,

Seeking desperately a corner in a desert,

Preferably when available nearby,

In desolate locations, in complete isolation,

To exorcise their dark dreams,

Their oppressive loneliness, the demons in their soul,

And to find peace of mind.

Archangel Gabriel materialized to a few of them,

Talking to them in a centaur voice,

Vast and reaching the skies,

Or plainly in a human form, surrounded with blinding light.

Gabriel would not let them in peace,

He would harass them during their wretched life,

Urging them to fear the Unique God,

And pray and glorify God’s name, and proselytize in God’s name.

Most were not as lucky in fame,

And have never seen a divine apparition;

They did pass that critical phase in life, in good mental stability,

And reduced level of exacerbated anxiousness.

The difference between Prophets and young crazies

Can be traced to the genetic laziness of Gabriel;

Or most likely to the current glut in redundant prophets.

Freedom of expressions, liberty of conscience, democratic institutions, separation of powers, human rights, and equal civil rights to all regardless of gender, race, color, origin, or religious affiliations turned out to be “lalla Hagoura” . 

In the Moroccan storytelling, Lalla Hagoura is a malevolent old hag that hides in dark staircases and then disembowels kids making noises; the only way for loud kids at siesta time to be saved was for the mother to show up on time and ward off the calamity. Thus, the rowdy kids split into two clans: one clan opting for silence and hanging to mother’s skirt when escalating staircases and the other clan deciding to start waking up early, entraping lalla Hagoura, and then lapidating her with stones to death.           

Lalla Hagoura is someone that everyone wants to see but she never shows up.  Lalla Hagoura became the code name of what is unknown; and thus, a scarecrow for people not falling in line.  One of the many faces of lalla Hagoura are the articles of the UN Charter that, occasionally, a few international gathering divulge the secret of the existence of this Charter but that the general public never read or is aware of being a set of international super laws that should be applied to mankind regardless of political regimes or religious dogma.

            All States in the UN have signed up on the Charter but all States prefer not to take out the skeleton out of the closet; every State desires its own charter commensurate to its political structure and the best way to tame the little people and the frustrated masses.  A few States teach courses in “civic education” for kids, or what amount to fairy tales of how government institutions function. Civic education courses are barely communicated to grown up students for a good reason:  Teachers would feel terribly embarrassed of questions demanding details on how “civility” coincides with real applications by government institutions.  When will the UN Charter be taught and disseminated in schools as pre-requisite to human education and knowledge development?

            It would be a great milestone to humanity if a President or Prime Minister of any State delivers a candid speech on how the State laws fair with the articles of the UN Charter that was written in San Francisco in 1946. The UN Charter supersedes all States’ Constitutions according to the signatory States.  Societies’ organs were asked to keep the UN Charter in their mind and do their best to teach and educate and disseminate the articles to the new generations and to develop respect to human rights, civil rights, liberty of conscience, and equal rights to all. 

UN resolution 116 of the year 1947 stated: “Any State desiring to be member of the UN must apply a formal declaration of accepting the UN Charter.”  Thus, formal declarations poured in stating that the signatory State is a democracy with parliament and intending to enact laws compatible to those of the Charter; foremost laws were stating freedom of thinking, of conscious, and liberty of changing religious convictions.

            Instead of conducting public debates, on the meaning of each article and the proper application of the Charter and what are the representative procedures, most States ignored their citizens and signed up hurriedly in order to side among the war victor States. The UN Charter has become a scarecrow skeleton that should best be kept a secret to the general public.  Even the developed States that claim to represent “humanist civilization” are disseminating lalla Hagoura scare tactics whenever their interests do not match with recalcitrant States.

The veto power States in the UN (US, Russia, China, France, and England) or what I call the “Club of Dirty Five” have agreed on a set of “punishing” program toward the regime in Iran.  We all thought that the latest nuclear treaty that Turkey and Brasil managed to pull off with Iran satisfied the veto power States, especially, that it is the US that asked De Silva of Brasil to undertake the lasted round of this successful negotiations.  So what happened? What’s going so terribly wrong in Iran, besides developing nuclear plants and a nuclear program for civilian usage?  Does Iran has schemes far worse than producing an atomic bomb that India, Israel, Pakistan, South Africa, and North Korea already own? 

“Club of Dirty Five” uses the UN Charter as a big stick for hording hegemony over the world member States in the UN to satisfying their economic and geo-political interests:  They have never cared about the UN Charter during the last 60 years of the institution of the UN.

We are very worried.  If the veto power States, which failed in restoring world peace in the last 60 years, have serious intelligence that are very dangerous to world peace then, we demand from this secret Club of the Dirty Five to come clean and and open up to the general public; we want transparency; we want to know all the States that failed so far in seriously applying the UN Charter.  We are grown up people and “grown up States” and we get upset when this secret club treats us like idiots.

We know that this “Club of the Dirty Five” does not dry its dirty wash in open air and resolves problems among themselves at the expense of the other members of the UN , but if this is that serious then we demand to know “What is happened in Iran?”  This “Club of the Dirty Five” made the third world States and people pay exhorbitant prices everytime they disagree as a club and especially, when they agree as a club:  everytime the “Club of the Dirty Five” meets all the world tremble, huddle, and brace for the coming calamities.  It appears that the “Club of the Dirty Five” is very apprehensive of emerging power States that demand to be counted and recognized such as Japan, India, Brasil, Turkey, Iran, South Korea, Indonesia, South Africa…

We all got it that oil should not be used as a strategic weapon, except by the “Club of Dirty Five”.  We all got it that oil production (with the exception of refined oil products that are the exclusive strategic substance of the superpowers) should be treated as a commodity on the world market.  But why the Middle East has to be paying the price and be destabilized at every corner and every period, even when oil is being distributed without hindrance around the world and at low prices, very low prices?

            The new code names enforced by the “Club of Dirty Five” are loyalty to the status quo and complete obedience to the ruling classes.  Most Arab State leaders enjoy the status of caliph for life and as such are to be revered as infallible.  Modernity means engagement in civil laws and the separation of State and religious powers; the secret for enduring power status was to monopolize communication Medias; this can no longer continue: Internet and satellite channels are forcing despots to re-assessing their controlling techniques.

            The best definition for a democratic political structure is when laws prohibit State administrations from manipulating religious beliefs to coincide with State interests.  Laws are not enough: effective laws have enforcing articles attached to them with sets of harsh punishing consequences.  This definition of democracy has corollaries such as separation of power institutions and representation of the public with no discrimination among genders, race, origins, or religious affiliations.  It is about time that the UN Charter be revisited publicly and frequently and not simply be used as a scarecrow tactics to pre-emptive wars, either physically or psychologically.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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