The Intercept has obtained a cache of secret documents detailing the inner workings of the U.S. military’s assassination program in Afghanistan, Yemen, and Somalia. The documents, provided by a whistleblower, offer an unprecedented glimpse into Obama’s drone wars.
You should at least read the first piece in the series, The Assassination Complex. Here’s a taste:
From his first days as commander in chief, the drone has been President Barack Obama’s weapon of choice, used by the military and the CIA to hunt down and kill the people his administration has deemed — through secretive processes, without indictment or trial — worthy of execution. There has been intense focus on the technology of remote killing, but that often serves as a surrogate for what should be a broader examination of the state’s power over life and death.
Over at The Skeptics, Malou Innocent details our recipe for endless war in Afghanistan. I extracted some highlights (or lowlights?) to ruin your mood, but you should really read the entire piece:
Yesterday, Adm. Mike Mullen, America’s top military officer, accused Pakistan of being behind last week’s attack on the American embassy in Afghanistan. This is a bit too convenient. As the United States prepares to withdraw most of its troops from Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it seems that fighting Pakistan by proxy will become Washington’s new reason to stay.
In Washington-speak, if the U.S. Government claims to have interests on the other side of world, then countries adjacent to them should not have interests there as well. Thus, among the U.S. Government’s plethora of justifications, when pesky neighbors get in the way and are divorced from the intractable realities of history and geography, fighting them becomes a recipe for endless war.
With Pakistan, of course, nuclear weapons and American aid compound this equation. After all, those nukes are the reason the coalition must stay, and being duped into giving billions in aid to a country makes U.S. officials feel wronged. (Of course, if Washington stopped giving aid to Pakistan, so I am told tirelessly in Washington, then Pakistan might behave even worse. This argument defies reality, as billions in aid has not made Pakistan behave differently.)
For almost a decade, however, U.S. officials have refused to confront the most obvious truth: Pakistan is unwilling to abandon its support for militarized jihad. That’s because decades of assisting select militant groups have cemented ideological sympathies for radicalism among elements of that country’s armed forces. A stabilized Pakistan is not on the horizon, and so long as Western troops are fighting an all-out war in neighboring Afghanistan they will only continue to be fodder for radical aims.
Although U.S. officials and analysts claim incessantly that remaining in the region will help to prevent Afghanistan’s radicalism from engulfing Pakistan, the exact opposite has been the case.
As Pakistani analyst Khaled Ahmed wrote recently, “Al Qaeda may have lost the first phase of its war in America and Europe but it has won big in Pakistan. And that should worry the rest of the world.” Indeed, it should. And yet, waging a dangerous, ill-conceived, and interminable proxy war against such a country is considerably worse.
Here is a letter to the St. Petersburg Times:
In the wake of the recent attack on a helicopter that killed 30 US troops in Afghanistan, the Times, recognizing the grave dangers American soldiers continue to face every day, coupled with the extremely fragile security conditions, still calls for “those on the political side to show courage of their own in building an Afghanistan that does justice to those who died for it” (Amid halting progress, an awful toll in Afghanistan, August 9).
Unfortunately, no amount of political courage will solve the problems facing the US in Afghanistan, nor do justice to those who have died needlessly in our prolonged occupation. The sad truth is Afghanistan endures as a major narco-state, rampant with corruption. Moreover, no credible terrorist threat to US interests remains, as Al Qaeda fighters have either been killed or fled. And still, the Afghan army is unable to defend their country after ten years of training.
Afghanistan is, and always was, a fragmented sectarian country with no legitimate prospects for a functionally stable central government. Any problems in the face of an immediate withdrawal from Afghanistan will be the same ten, twenty, and thirty years from now, as will the threats to US armed forces and the tenuous security circumstances if we stay.
Brad R. Schlesinger
>Here is a letter to the Miami Herald: