The Special Inspector General for Afghan Reconstruction (SIGAR), John Sopko, in an interview with Breitbart News, said the U. S. has been ‘drowning’ Afghanistan in money, wasting millions and creating conditions for corruption. ‘You can drown somebody in goodness,’ Sopko told Breitbart. ‘It’s the comedy of the absurd when it comes down to [American] assistance [to Afghanistan] and we are just drowning Afghans in money. And when you drown somebody in money, you can’t be surprised that some of it gets wasted.’ Sopko said the American people should care about the Afghan war as a natural security issue, but should also demand accountability for their government’s reckless use of tax dollars in the conflict. The office of the SIGAR is charged with overseeing reconstruction projects in Afghanistan, conducting audits and investigations to prevent waste, fraud and abuse. To date, the U. S. has appropriated a total of some $700 billion for the war, including the $120 billion spent on ‘reconstruction’ which Sopko’s office is tasked to track and account for.
VIOLENTLY INTERVENING IN the affairs of other countries has brought the United States much grief over the last century. We are hardly the only ones who do it. The club of interventionist nations has a shifting membership. During the current round of Middle East conflict, two new countries have joined: Turkey and Saudi Arabia. Both have succumbed to the imperial temptation. Both are paying a high price. They are learning a lesson that Americans struggle to accept: Interventions have unexpected consequences and often end up weakening rather than strengthening the countries that carry them out. Turkey’s long intervention in Syria has failed to bring about its intended result, the fall of President Bashar Assad. Instead it has intensified the Syrian conflict, fed a regional refugee crisis, set off terrorist backlash, and deeply strained relations between Turkey and its NATO allies. As this blunder has unfolded, Saudi Arabia has also been waging war outside its territory. Its bombing of neighboring Yemen was supposed to be a way of asserting regional hegemony, but it has aroused indignant condemnation. The bombing campaign has placed Saudi Arabia under new scrutiny, including more intense focus on its role in promoting global terror, which the Saudi royal family has managed to keep half-hidden for years. Turkey and Saudi Arabia intervened in foreign conflicts hoping to establish themselves as regional kingmakers. Both miscalculated. They overestimated their ability to secure quick victory and failed to weigh the strategic costs of failure or stalemate. If the Turks and Saudis had studied the history of American interventions, they would have been more prudent. We know the sorrows of empire. From Iran to Cuba to Vietnam to Afghanistan and Iraq, the legacy of our interventions continues to haunt us. Ambitious powers, however, continue to ignore the stark lesson that American history teaches. Turkey and Saudi Arabia are the latest to repeat our mistake. It is the same mistake that has undermined many nations and empires. They overestimated their ability to shape events in foreign lands. Now they are paying for their delusional overreach.
Donald Trump’s most recent foreign policy speech, in which he explained how he would deal with the Islamic State (ISIL) and the Middle East in general, contained multitudes – everything good and everything questionable about his brand of ‘America First’ nationalism. Here is Trumpism on full display, the common-sensical and the nonsensical intertwined. While I realize a presidential election campaign is not the time for nuance, it behooves us to pull apart these disparate strands if we want to understand this moment in our history. He starts out by defining the problem: the series of attacks that have horrified the world and flummoxed our law enforcement agencies. And what’s notable here is that he just doesn’t talk about what’s going on overseas, as you might expect in a speech ostensibly about foreign policy: he talks about San Bernardino and Orlando alongside Paris and Brussels. In short, he brings it all home. This underscores his entire orientation: it’s what ‘America First’ is all about. Why should Americans care about ISIL? Well, folks, says Trump, it’s because they’re attacking us right here on the home front. Contrast this with the usual neocon-Hillaryite politically correct gobbledygook: we have to spread Democracy and Goodness throughout the Middle East! They don’t have gay rights in Afghanistan! We must defend the ‘international order’! There’s the problem: ISIL. So what caused it? Trump’s answer: ‘The rise of ISIS is the direct result of policy decisions made by President Obama and Secretary Clinton.’
One of the biggest surprises over the past week was Donald Trump’s dramatic meltdown, and subsequent escalation, with the family of Humayun Khan, the US Muslim captain killed in Afghanistan in 2014, who during the DNC, tangentially accused Trump and his potential policies of being responsible for their son’s death (he wasn’t). What is most striking is that instead of ignoring this attempt to bait the Republican candidate in public, to which he most gladly obliged, he should have simply moved on and stayed on the offensive, pressing Hillary over the recent Wikileaks disclosure revealing the cronyism and corruption within the Democratic Party, as well push the familiar narrative of her email scandal. Conveniently, Hillary helped him do just that yesterday, when she acknowledged on Friday afternoon that she may have “short-circuited” when she claimed in recent interviews that FBI Director James Comey said she was “truthful” about her use of a private email server as secretary of state. In doing so Hillary once again shifted the news spotlight away from Trump and back on to herself, as she once again revealed that the only consistent thing about Hillary Clinton are the constant lies. Following a heavily covered interview with Fox News’ Chris Wallace, Hillary stated that Comey had found her statements “truthful” and “consistent” with what she has said publicly. Clinton’s lying led The Atlantic to publish an article titled ‘ Why Can’t Hillary Clinton Stop Lying?’ and the Washington Post’s fact checker Glenn Kessler awarded her four ‘Pinocchios’, adding that ‘Clinton is cherry-picking statements by Comey to preserve her narrative about the unusual setup of a private email server. This allows her to skate past the more disturbing findings of the FBI investigation.’ Notably, the NYTimes did not publish anything related to this flop and it took the Public Editor, whose job it to be the readers’ advocate at The NYT, to write an op-ed titled The Clinton Story You Didn’t Read Here.
This post was published at Zero Hedge by Tyler Durden Aug 6, 2016.
Historians still debate whether President John F. Kennedy would have withdrawn U. S. troops from Vietnam had he lived to win re-election in 1964. Since President Barack Obama recently announced his intention to keep at least 8,400 U. S. troops in Afghanistan through the end of his presidency, the only debate will be over why he never withdrew but chose instead to bequeath an unwinnable war – the longest in U. S. history – to his successor. The U. S. war in Afghanistan will officially pass the 15-year mark in a few months. But like Vietnam, where the United States began aiding French colonial forces in the late 1940s, Afghanistan has been the target of Washington’s war-making for more than three-and-a-half decades. On July 3, 1979, President Carter first authorized the secret provision of aidto armed opponents of the leftist regime in Kabul. A senior Pentagon official advocated the aid to ‘suck the Soviets into a Vietnamese quagmire.’ When Moscow took the bait and sent troops that December to support the Afghan government against a growing rural insurgency, National Security Adviser Zbigniew Brzezinski gleefully wrote President Carter, ‘We now have the opportunity of giving to the USSR its Vietnam War.’ Call it blowback, or just an irony of history, but Afghanistan has turned instead into America’s second Vietnam War. The Soviets finally had the good sense to pull out after being bloodied for a decade. The Obama administration envisions staying there indefinitely. Under the Bilateral Security Agreement that President Obama got Kabul to sign in 2014, U. S. troops may remain in Afghanistan ‘until the end of 2024 and beyond.’
After two years of bombing, the U. S. recently marked a horrendous milestone in a war with no clear end in sight. Vocativ reported that the American-led coalition in the Middle East has now dropped 50,000 bombs in the ongoing campaign against Daesh (an Arabic acronym for the terrorist group commonly known as ISIS or ISIL in the West) that began in August 2014. The analysis noted that bombing has increased with time, peaking in June when coalition forces dropped 3,167 bombs on Iraq and Syria. ‘By comparison, U. S.-led forces in Afghanistan have dropped just over 16,000 bombs in the last six years, military data shows,’ Shane Dixon Kavanaugh, a senior writer for Vocativ, wrote on Tuesday. Although reports suggest Daesh is losing to ground forces in the region, the conflict still has no clear end in sight. And despite U. S. government denials, Kavanaugh reported it’s become increasingly clear that civilians are frequently killed by bombs dropped by the U. S. and coalition forces: ‘Airwars estimates that at least 1,422 civilians have been killed by weapons deployed by coalition warplanes through July 18, a figure far greater than the 41 civilian deaths acknowledged by the Pentagon to-date.’
This post was published at Zero Hedge on MintPress’ Kit O’Connell via TheAntiMedia.org, Jul 22, 2016.
Actually, the Nice horror was the demented suicide of a wretch who recently got fired, divorced and arrested for road rage, not a planned jihadi terrorist attack. Beyond that, the real jihadi threat is rooted in blowback, and combatting it is a domestic police function. Enough militatistic bellicosity already! The inconvenient truth is, Washington and its NATO vassals have brought bombs, drones, occupations and slaughter to towns and villages throughout the greater middle east for upwards of three decades. It is that senseless intervention and aggression that has fueled the rise of vengeful barbarians who operate under the ideological cover of a twisted Sunni jihaddism. In fact, it was the Bush/Clinton/Obama wars which gave rise first to al-Qaeda and then to ISIS. In very substantial degree Washington trained them, armed them and then incited them to their anti-western rampages. The Imperial City’s insidious doctrine of ‘regime change’ also destroyed the states of Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya and Afghanistan, thereby giving the jihadi vast lawless territories from which to operate and to even establish a murderous medieval caliphate in the desert backwaters of western Iraq and northern Syria.. The frightful violence that has been episodically erupting in France owing to internal cadres and in the US owing to copycats does not originate in the religion of Islam. The latter confession is 1384 years old, but it was only 25 years ago that meaningful jihadi terrorism first impinged on the west.
Is it worth impairing the reputation of the FBI and the Department of Justice to save Hillary Clinton from a deserved criminal prosecution by playing word games? What has become of the rule of law – no one is beneath its protections or above its requirements – when the American public can witness a game of political musical chairs orchestrated by Bill Clinton at an airport in a bizarre ruse to remove the criminal investigation of his wife from those legally responsible for making decisions about it? How hairsplitting can the FBI be in acknowledging ‘extreme carelessness’ while denying ‘gross negligence’ about the same events, at the same time, and in the same respect? These are questions that now beg for answers in light of what can only be the politically motivated FBI report delivered earlier this week on the likely criminal behavior of Hillary Clinton. The espionage statute that criminalizes the knowing or grossly negligent failure to keep state secrets in a secure venue is the rare federal statute that can be violated and upon which a conviction may be based without the need of the government to prove intent. Thus, in the past two years, the DOJ has prosecuted a young sailor for sending a single selfie to his girlfriend that inadvertently showed a submarine sonar screen in its background. It also prosecuted a Marine lieutenant who sent his military superiors a single email about the presence of al-Qaida operatives dressed as local police in a U. S. encampment in Afghanistan – but who inadvertently used his Gmail account rather than his secure government account.
The relatively straightforward narrative of the Sunday morning Orlando attack, a single, ISIS-inspired gunman acting on the basis of the group’s anti-gay policies, seems to be falling apart with the latest reports dramatically confusing the matter, and painting gunman Omar Mateen is a much different light. After yesterday’s shock at the ordeal began to clear, patrons at the attacked nightclub, Pulse, discovered something incredible, and totally absent from the initial reports. Mateen wasn’t some unfamiliar attacker, but rather a ‘regular’ at the bar, who had been coming in for at least three years. A repeat visitor who used to drink to excess at Pulse, saying he couldn’t at home because his family was ‘really strict,’Mateen was also on a gay dating app used by other patrons of the club, and one man reported Mateen had exchanged messages with him and a friend. A former classmate of Mateen’s at the police academy said that he believed Mateen to be gay ‘but not open about it,’ and that Mateen had asked him out ‘romantically.’ Seddique Mateen, Omar’s father and self-proclaimed President of the Transitional Government of Afghanistan, had claimed that Omar was extremely outspoken in his opposition to gay people, and expressed disgust at seeing two men kissing recently in Miami. READ MORE
As I write this (it’s Sunday morning, 5:00 a.m. PST) the news is breaking that an Orlando gay nightclub has been attacked by a gun-wielding 29-year-old son of Afghan immigrants, Omar Mateen, who appeared to ”have leanings towards’ radical Islamist ideology,’ according to the FBI.’ At least twenty people are dead, and forty-two are wounded. Mateen died in a gun battle with police. One can easily imagine what will be – and already is – happening in the wake of this horrific tragedy: the War Party will be quick to jump on this as proof that we must go abroad in search of monsters to destroy, and carry on the endless ‘war on terrorism’ to the very ends of the earth. Donald Trump’s followers will be quick to pounce on this as evidence that their surrealist program of not allowing Muslims into the country must be implemented immediately: it doesn’t occur to them that they are already here – and they aren’t going anywhere. Although Mateen’s parents came from Afghanistan, he was born here in 1986 and was an American citizen. Unless Trump and his followers are saying we have to deport all Muslims – a proposal that not even The Donald has floated – Trumpism appears to offer no solutions. The San Bernardino shooter was also an American citizen, born and raised here. And as I have pointed out before, there is no way to establish a religious test for entry into the US for the simple reason that there is no way to tell who is a Muslim: does it really need to be said that a potential terrorist isn’t going to answer truthfully?
We have it on highest authority: the recent killing of Taliban leader Mullah Akhtar Muhammad Mansour by a U. S. drone strike in Pakistan marks ‘an important milestone.’ So the president of the United States has declared, with that claim duly echoed and implicitly endorsed by media commentary – the New York Times reporting, for example, that Mansour’s death leaves the Taliban leadership ‘shocked’ and ‘shaken.’ But a question remains: A milestone toward what exactly? Toward victory? Peace? Reconciliation? At the very least, toward the prospect of the violence abating? Merely posing the question is to imply that U. S. military efforts in Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Islamic world serve some larger purpose. Yet for years now that has not been the case. The assassination of Mansour instead joins a long list of previous milestones, turning points, and landmarks briefly heralded as significant achievements only to prove much less than advertised. One imagines that Obama himself understands this perfectly well. Just shy of five years ago, he was urging Americans to ‘take comfort in knowing that the tide of war is receding.’ In Iraq and Afghanistan, the president insisted, ‘the light of a secure peace can be seen in the distance.’ ‘These long wars,’ he promised, were finally coming to a ‘responsible end.’ We were, that is, finding a way out of Washington’s dead-end conflicts in the Greater Middle East.
As Bob Dylan put it, ‘the times they are a changing!’ – and that is certainly the case when it comes to the debate over US foreign policy this election season. A recent article in the Boston Globe, summarizing the observations of a group of Brown University students who tracked the foreign policy discourse of the candidates, underscored what is happening on both sides of the partisan divide: ‘As we watched, Republican voters rejected every candidate who favored their party’s traditional hardline foreign policies, including Lindsey Graham, Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, and Marco Rubio…. Trump, the presumptive nominee, has broken with foreign policy dogma on a host of issues. He asserts that decades of foreign wars have not been good for the United States – hardly a traditional Republican view.’ The Democratic party, too, is experiencing what these youthful observers describe as a ‘foreign policy identity crisis’: ‘Clinton, the likely nominee, is an activist by nature and supports escalation from Afghanistan to Syria to Ukraine. Her opponent, Senator Bernie Sanders, has condemned her ‘very aggressive policy of intervention’ and said he does not believe the United States should be ‘the world’s policeman.’ Yet though Sanders effectively pushed Clinton further left in terms of domestic policy, he was unsuccessful in changing her deeply held foreign policy views.’
The Pentagon thinks it’s killed a Taliban official (Akhtar Mansour) by drone. But what difference does it make to us to kill this man (meaning a positive difference, a gain, a benefit)? Whether or not some outfit in Pakistan applauds this or hates it, what difference does it make to Americans? Why is the U. S. still trying to kill off Taliban or stop them? Why is the U. S. still in Afghanistan 15 years after it went there to get bin Laden? Why did the U. S. start a war with the Taliban anyway? The humongous cost of this killing is already $700 billion. When other costs are factored in, the cost will be 2 or 3 times that, or about $2 trillion. For what? What did we get out of it? What are we supposed to be getting out of this? Hillary Clinton strongly supported the U. S. going more deeply into Afghanistan. Obama approved the surge she supported. He’s had 7 years to end the war and he didn’t. Hillary Clinton is an idiot. An official like her who bases decisions on anecdotes, emotions, images, and biases is an idiot and dangerous to boot. This is Hillary: ‘It’s clear that if I had been president, we would have never diverted our attention from Afghanistan. When I went to Afghanistan the first time and was met by a young soldier from New York, in the 10th Mountain Division who told me that I was welcomed to the forgotten front lines in the war against terror, that just struck me so forcefully.’ For God’s sake, is this how she’ll make decisions if elected? If she had sound instincts in foreign affairs, this kind of emotional basis for forming policy might be negated, but there is no evidence at all that she does. It all points in the opposite direction.
Creating an International Islamist Army: Casey, BCCI, and the Creation of al-Qaeda The other most significant case in which the CIA became a front for sanctioned violence was CIA Director William Casey’s use of the CIA in the 1980s to promote his own plans for Afghanistan. Casey’s Afghan initiatives aroused the concern of the CIA’s professional operatives and analysts, including his deputy directors, Bobby Ray Inman and John McMahon.(35) But this did not deter Casey from making high-level decisions about the Afghan campaign outside regular channels when meeting in secret with foreigners. One man Casey dealt with in this fashion was Agha Hasan Abedi, a close adviser to General Zia of Pakistan and, more important, the head of the Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI): Abedi helped arrange Casey’s sojourns in Islamabad and met with the CIA director during visits to Washington. Typically, Abedi would stay in a hotel and Casey would go to his suite. The two men, who met intermittently over a three-year period, would spend hours talking about the war in Afghanistan, the Iran-Contra arms trades, Pakistani politics, and the situation in the Persian Gulf. (36) Members of Senator John Kerry’s staff, who investigated this relationship, concluded that Casey in his dealings with Abedi may have been acting not as CIA director but as an adviser to President Reagan, so that his actions were’undocumented, fully deniable, and effectively irretrievable.’ (37)(Casey’s dealings with BCCI may not have been at arm’s length: the weapons pipeline to Afghanistan allegedly involved funding through a BCCI affiliate in Oman, in which Casey’s close friend and business associate Bruce Rappaport had a financial interest. (38)
Submitted by Michaela Whitton via TheAntiMedia.org, One of the many catastrophic legacies left behind by the longest war in U. S. history is that Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium. As with most parts of the world, the most vulnerable pay the heaviest price of war, and the country has faced a harrowing escalation in the number of child heroin addicts. ‘What’s happened in Afghanistan over the last 13 years has been the flourishing of a narco-state that is really without any parallel in history,’ Kabul-based journalist Matthieu Aikins toldDemocracy Now back in 2014. Adding that all levels of Afghan society are involved in the flourishing trade – which became undeniably worse after the U. S.-led invasion – Aikins accused both the Taliban and government-linked officials of profiting from the crisis. He claimed the U. S., in its quest for vengeance against the Taliban and Al Qaeda, not only cooperated with warlords but ignored corruption by criminals whose human rights abuses created the conditions that led to the rise of the Taliban in the first place.
This post was published at Zero Hedge on 05/10/2016 –.
According to Counterpunch (2007) editors Alexander Cockburn and Jeffrey St. Clair: ‘The desire for secrecy is one of Mrs. Clinton’s enduring and damaging traits… Befitting a Midwestern Methodist with a bullying father, repression has always been one of Mrs. Clinton’s most prominent characteristics. Her’s has been the instinct to conceal, to deny, to refuse to admit any mistake. … Since Vietnam, there’s never been a war that Mrs. Clinton didn’t like. She argued passionately in the White House for the NATO bombing of Belgrade. Five days after September 11, 2001, she was calling for a broad war on terror… ‘I’ll stand behind [George W.] Bush for a long time to come’, Senator Clinton promised, and she was as good as her word, voting for the Patriot Act and the wide-ranging authorization to use military force against Afghanistan… Of course she supported without reservation the attack on Afghanistan and, as the propaganda buildup toward the onslaught on Iraq got underway, she didn’t even bother to walk down the hall to read the national intelligence estimate on Iraq before the war.’ As Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton instigated and legitimized the overthrow of the Honduran government in 2009 not all that unlike the 1954 Guatemala Coup engineered primarily by CIA Director Allen Dulles, supported by Secretary of State John Foster Dulles (image below, 1948) and with the glowing approval of President Dwight Eisenhower. In a March 2016 interview with Amy Goodman on Democracy Now, Greg Grandin, a professor of Latin American history at New York University, discussed the fallout from the 2009 Honduran Coup.
Late last year, I spent some time digging into the Pentagon’s ‘reconstruction’ efforts in Iraq and Afghanistan, countries it invaded in 2001 and 2003 in tandem with a chosen crew ofwarrior corporations. As a story of fabled American can-do in distant lands, both proved genuinely dismal no-can-do tales, from roads built (that instantly started crumbling) to police academies constructed (that proved to be health hazards) to prisons begun (that were never finished) to schools constructed (that remaineduncompleted) to small arms transfers (that were ‘lost’ in transit) to armies built, trained, and equipped for stunning sums (thatcollapsed). It was as if nothing the Pentagon touched turned to anything but dross (including thenever-ending wars it fought). All of it added up to what I then labeled a massive ‘$cam’ with American taxpayer money lost in amounts that staggered the imagination. All of that came rushing back as I read TomDispatch regular William Hartung’s latest post on ‘waste’ at the Pentagon. It didn’t just happen in Kabul and Baghdad; it’s been going on right here in the good old USA for, as Hartung recounts, the last five decades. There’s only one difference I can see: in Kabul, Baghdad, or any other capital in the Greater Middle East and Africa, if we saw far smaller versions of such ‘waste’ indulged in by the elites of those countries, we would call it ‘corruption’ without blinking. So here’s my little suggestion, as you read Hartung: think about just how deeply what once would have been considered a Third World-style of corruption is buried in the very heart of our system and in the way of life of the military-industrial complex.
There are numerous tactics available to those who aim to make problems worse while pretending to solve them, but misdirection is always a favorite. The reason to want to make problems worse is that problems are profitable – for someone. And the reason to pretend to be solving them is that causing problems, then making them worse, makes those who profit from them look bad. In the international arena, this type of misdirection tends to take on a farcical aspect. The ones profiting from the world’s problems are the members of the US foreign policy and military establishments, the defense contractors and the politicians around the world, and especially in the EU, who have been bought off by them. Their tactic of misdirection is conditioned by a certain quirk of the American public, which is that it doesn’t concern itself too much with the rest of the world. The average member of the American public has no idea where various countries are, can’t tell Sweden from Switzerland, thinks that Iran is full of Arabs and can’t distinguish any of the countries that end in -stan. And so a handy trick has evolved, which amounts to the following dictum: ‘Always attack the wrong country.’
Need some examples? After 9/11, which, according to the official story (which is probably nonsense) was carried out by ‘suicide bombers’ (some of them, amusingly, still alive today) who were mostly from Saudi Arabia, the US chose to retaliate by attacking Saudi ArabiaAfghanistan and Iraq.
The insatiable appetite of America’s bipartisan foreign policy elites for military intervention – despite its record of creating failing states in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Syria and Yemen – traces back to the marriage of liberal and neoconservative interventionists during the Clinton administration’s 78-day bombing of Serbia to create the break-away state of Kosovo in 1999. One scholar-advocate has called NATO’s campaign ‘The most important precedent supporting the legitimacy of unilateral humanitarian intervention.’ Even Sen. Bernie Sanders was proud to support that use of American power, ostensibly ‘to prevent further genocide.’ Following a series of violent street protests and wild disruptions of parliament, the leader of the radical nationalist party, Vetvendosje, announced on Feb. 19, ‘This regime is now is in its final days. They will not last long.’But Kosovo, which is still not recognized as an independent state by nearly half of all UN members, and which still relies on 4,600 NATO troops to maintain order, is hardly a showcase for the benefits of military intervention. With an unemployment rate of 35 percent, Kosovo is wracked by persistentoutbreaks of terrorism, crime, and political violence. That day, members of Vetvendosje set off tear gas cannisters in parliament and tussled with police in the latest of their many protests against anagreement reached by the government last summer to grant limited powers to the country’s Serbian minority, in return for Serbia’s recognition of Kosovo. Opposition lawmakers also rail against endemic corruption and the country’s under-performing economy.