“America Is Committing War Crimes and Doesn't Even Know Why”
Micah Zenko, Foreign Policy, August 15, 2018
The military commander responsible for overseeing the provision of support for a new air war in the Middle East did not know what the goals of the intervention were, or how he could evaluate whether it was successful. The United States had become a willing co-combatant in a war without any direction or clear end state.
Two inevitable results have followed. First, there have been a litany of war crimes of the sort perpetrated last weekend, in which Saudi planes, using American munitions, bombed a school bus killing dozens of Yemeni schoolchildren. Second, the U.S. government has responded to those crimes with silences that might seem chastened, but in truth must be classified as defiant, given the bureaucratic maneuvering undertaken to obscure the United States' unthinking complicity both to outsiders and to itself.
In some ways, I suppose that it's better for such war crimes to be completely unmotivated and unintelligible acts of random psychosis than to have American politicians pretend to be protecting the homeland from terrorists.
Twitter has purged am author and critic of the American wars in the Middle East for sassing the Establishment too roughly. They also suspended two antiwar libertarians after they complained about the purge.
“I Was Banned for Life from Twitter”
Peter van Buren, The American Conservative, August 9, 2018
I suppose it's just as well. As a corporation, Twitter simply can't sustain an open, global forum for political ideas. It's not cost-effective.
The Department of Defense has decided to step up its attacks on computers and networks in other countries.
“Pentagon Puts Cyberwarriors on the Offensive, Increasing the Risk of Conflict”
David E. Sanger, The New York Times, June 17, 2018
The Pentagon has quietly empowered the United States Cyber Command to take a far more aggressive approach to defending the nation against cyberattacks, a shift in strategy that could increase the risk of conflict with the foreign states that sponsor malicious hacking groups. …
The new strategy envisions constant, disruptive “short of war” activities in foreign computer networks.
Sanger tries to characterize this move as a shift in strategy from a “defensive posture” to one in which we are constantly attacking the networked devices of our notional enemies. This isn't quite accurate. There are currently no adequate tools and methods for “defending the nation against cyberattacks,” and the Department of Defense has systematically opposed the deployment of the tools and methods that are available (for example, civilian use of end-to-end encryption). So the posture of the Department of Defense has never been defensive.
On the contrary, the United States has always been the world leader, second perhaps only to Israel, in developing and using offensive military weapons for attacking networked devices. The change that Sanger is reporting is that the Department of Defense is now willing to acknowledge its continual attacks on networks located outside the United States. Apparently it has to make them more visible to Congress in order to get significant funding increases for them.
A professional software developer describes how he came to write software that helped the United States Army kill people. His first-person account is followed by a few similar anecdotes from other developers and observers and concludes with some lessons about how to avoid killing people with your software.
“Don't Get Distracted”
Caleb Thompson, November 16, 2017
The project owner conveniently left out its purpose when explaining the goals. I conveniently didn't focus too much on that part. It was great pay for me at the time. It was a great project. Maybe I just didn't want to know what it would be used for. I got distracted.
“As If Nuremberg Never Happened”
Peter van Buren, The American Conservative, March 19, 2018
Nothing will say more about who we are, across three American administrations — one that demanded torture, one that covered it up, and one that seeks to promote its bloody participants — than whether Gina Haspel becomes director of the CIA. …
Gina Haspel is now eligible for the CIA directorship because Barack Obama did not prosecute anyone for torture; he merely signed an executive order banning it in the future. He did not hold any truth commissions, and ensured that almost all government documents on the torture program remain classified. He did not prosecute the CIA officials who destroyed videotapes of the torture scenes. …
Unless Congress awakens to confront this nightmare and deny Gina Haspel's nomination as director of the CIA, torture will have transformed us and so it will consume us. Gina Haspel is a torturer. We are torturers. It is as if Nuremberg never happened.
“‘Eternal Flaming Wheelbarrow Full of Cash’ Picked as Global War on Terror Memorial”
“Dirty”, The Duffel Blog, April 16, 2018
“Our veterans deserve a memorial that accurately captures the spirit of their war,” said Park Service spokesman Tim Taylor. “And I think we've really nailed it with this design.”
The approved design will incorporate elements of other famous memorials, most notably a gas-powered eternal flame similar to one at President John F. Kennedy's grave, in nearby Arlington National Cemetery. However, the GWOT memorial's eternal flame will burn piles of real U.S. currency to reflect the enormous expense of waging war against an abstract concept, and visiting dignitaries, instead of laying a wreath at the site, will be instructed to honor GWOT veterans by ceremoniously shoveling stacks of cash into the flames, officials said.
The tire of the wheelbarrow will be deflated, to reflect the American experience of becoming mired in an impossible position with no exit strategy or means of withdrawal. One handle of the wheelbarrow will be broken, to symbolize how unwieldy the campaign has been for the military leadership tasked with directing the war effort.
The wheelbarrow will also be adorned with a yellow ribbon bumper sticker, recalling the tremendous public support for the Global War on Terror, provided it didn't require any effort or personal sacrifice. …
The memorial, which will honor veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as veterans of U.S. intervention in Libya, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, Niger, Mali, Mauritania, Algeria, and [Redacted], will be placed just outside the National Mall, where it will likely attract public attention only when necessary or convenient for political points.
The people of the United States are neither strongly committed to the numerous wars that our military is waging nor strongly opposed to them. We are barely aware of them and prefer not to think about them.
“America's Phony War”
William J. Astore, TomDispatch, March 15, 2018
The definition of twenty-first-century phony war, on the other hand, is its lack of clarity, its lack of purpose, its lack of any true imperative for national survival (despite a never-ending hysteria over the “terrorist threat”). The fog it produces is especially disorienting. Americans today have little idea “why we fight” … Meanwhile, with such a lack of national involvement and accountability, there's no pressure for the Pentagon or the rest of the national security state to up its game; there's no one even to point out that wherever the U.S. military has gone into battle in these years, yet more terror groups have subsequently sprouted like so many malignant weeds. Bureaucracy and mediocrity go unchallenged; massive boosts in military spending reward incompetency and the creation of a series of quagmire-like “generational” wars.