’s Week in Review | September 9, 2011

Don’t forget to sign the open letter to Obama and Congress to end the wars:


  • Mission accomplished in Iraq?
  • Libyan civil war is far from over
  • The expensive deterioration of Afghanistan
  • Ten years since 9/11
  • Israel’s struggles with Turkey and Palestine
  • Assorted news from the empire
  • What’s new at the blog?
  • Columns
  • Antiwar Radio
  • Events

Iraq: From war zone to client state

Reports surfaced this week of the Obama administration’s plan to leave 3,000-4,000 American troops in Iraq past the December deadline for a complete withdrawal. The plan was articulated without the permission or agreement of Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki or the Iraqi parliament. Many within the Obama administration and the military pushed for tens of thousands of troops to remain, and congressional hawks dismissed the plan outright, arguing for a minimum of 10,000.

But despite hawkish concerns that Obama is drawing down prematurely, signs are that U.S. imperial objectives have been achieved, and national security planners are ready for Iraq to take its place as just another Middle Eastern client state and retire from being a war zone. While the U.S. military contingent may only be 4,000, a mercenary army of perhaps 6,000 will remain in addition to a State Department and civilian contractor outfit of 17,000 strong. The political, military, and economic elements of U.S. influence are set in place for the long term.

In other news, the cables released by WikiLeaks have continued to provide revelations about U.S. policy toward Iraq. A set of cables described how the mercenary army Blackwater Inc. remained in Iraq after being banned from the country over a 2007 massacre of civilians. Another cable details a 2002 meeting of U.S. diplomats and Vatican representatives, which warned that the Vatican would publicly condemn any U.S. military action in Iraq, revealing how certain the diplomatic community viewed a U.S. attack even back in 2002.

Libyan civil war is far from over

The Libyan civil war is far from over, explained rebel Prime Minister Mahmoud Jabril after encouraging discordant rebel factions to join together to defeat Gadhafi remnants and secure the Transitional National Council’s power in Libya. As fighting in multiple cities and towns rages on, speculation continues over fallen leader Muammar Gadhafi’s whereabouts, although U.S. leaders admit they don’t know at this point.

Meanwhile, Human Rights Watch demanded this week that rebels stop the mass arrests of black migrant workers in Libya. Libya’s massive stockpile of weapons is now the country’s biggest export industry, as weapons pour out across the region.

The U.S. and Britain faced further embarrassment as more details of their cooperation with Gadhafi’s torture regime surfaced and the Libyan rebel commander demanded an apology to the Libyan people. Subsequently, another Libyan publicly detailed his rendition by British spies into Gadhafi’s custody, where he was tortured.

Guns, butter, and torture

A new audit detailing the cost of the Afghan War has put the price tag on the "civilian surge" that began in 2009 at $1.7 billion so far, with warnings that the cost will rise precipitously going forward. This is in addition to the billions of dollars’ worth of military equipment the U.S. is sending to Afghan security forces in an attempt to hide their military dependence on the U.S. NATO expenditures on Afghanistan’s security infrastructure and military hardware are expected to be $21 billion by 2014. It takes approximately $6 billion a year — more than three times the Kabul government’s annual income — to sustain these assets. And the U.S. is unprepared to cover that cost.

Meanwhile, conditions in Afghanistan fail to improve. NATO agreed this week, following recommendations from the United Nations, to end detainee transfers to Afghan prisons because of evidence of torture. Afghan officials vehemently rejected the U.N. findings — which detailed beatings with rubber hoses, electric shock treatment, and sexual assault — and alleged political sabotage. NATO also admitted to killing an Afghan journalist, a serious crime for which no one is expected to be held accountable.

A decade of error

Authorities have been warning of new terrorist attacks to mark the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks, despite their downplaying of the strength of al-Qaeda and related groups. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has referred to al-Qaeda as nearly defeated, but this week he warned that the potential for another 9/11 attack is "very real." Anonymous government sources went to the press to warn of a "specific, credible, but unconfirmed" attack on New York or Washington, but they gave no specifics or evidence.

The anniversary has many people looking back at America’s decade of folly in response to the attacks. The vast majority of the 9/11 Commission Report remains sealed in the National Archives, despite recommendations from the commissioners that it be released entirely. Reports surfaced about the New York Police Department secretly gathering intelligence on more than 250 mosques and student groups in one of the nation’s most aggressive domestic surveillance programs, which included deeply disturbing violations of the First Amendment. And the folly goes on, with word getting out that a provision in a bill to be voted upon by Congress later this month would shift responsibility for suspected terrorism cases from civilian authorities to the military.

Standing up to Israel

After some congressional pressure on the Obama administration to be more explicit in its objection to Palestinian statehood, the Obama administration vowed that the U.S. would veto any attempt by the Palestinian Authority to gain recognition at the U.N. In a sign that Palestinians are using the U.N. more to their advantage, they have strategies of getting around a U.S. veto, and some activists have also more explicitly turned to the U.N. to prevent forced relocation by the Israeli state.

Tensions with Turkey are still high after Israel refused to recognize any wrongdoing in the raid on the Gaza aid ship last summer. The Turkish government has expelled the Israeli ambassador, suspended military ties with Israel, threatened further sanctions, and promised to escort future ships to Gaza carrying humanitarian aid.

Meanwhile, former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates publicly criticized Israel as an "ungrateful ally," arguing that the U.S. has received nothing in return for massive amounts of U.S. aid and commitments.

Assorted news from the empire

Pakistan – A U.S. drone strike killed at least seven people in the 50th reported drone strike of the year. Though virtually each of the 451 killed is listed as a "suspect," only a handful have ever been confirmed as known militants. Pakistani Taliban-related violence continues in western Pakistan, even as authorities this week captured three al-Qaeda leaders.

Yemen – A U.S. drone strike killed at least 10 people and wounded dozens of others in southern Yemen this week, just days after Yemeni warplanes "accidentally" bombed a mosque, killing at least seven civilians. Experts are saying that U.S. policy in Yemen is laying the groundwork for blowback and empowering al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula.

Somalia – Western efforts to give power and legitimacy to a desultory central government are failing. New details from investigative reporter Jeremy Scahill reveal the U.S. policy of supporting and equipping dangerous warlords with ties to terrorism and the potential there for blowback.

What’s new at the blog?

Jason Ditz blogged about another media attempt to tie Iran to al-Qaeda. Jeremy Sapienza explained how the war on terror is not a uniquely American response and how much worse the battered country of Iraq is as a result of the U.S. war. Matt Barganier posted on the left’s commitment to American exceptionalism, the pro-war response to 9/11 at the New York Times, and the questionable judgment of those who supported the Iraq War. Brian Beyer wrote about the strange U.S. policy of allying with al-Qaeda. John Glaser blogged about the U.S. crimes against Libya the first time around, escalating violence in the drug war, the myth that America is drawing down the empire, the escape from the rule of law in occupied Palestine, and how ideological propaganda is turning 9/11 into state-worship.


Justin Raimondo wrote about the ironies of the Israeli attempt to influence America toward a war with Iran and the potential for blowback in our pro-Islamist Libyan war. Philip Giraldi ran through the errors of America’s martial response to 9/11. Ivan Eland compared Bush and Obama policies on civil liberties. Kelley B. Vlahos lamented the security and surveillance establishment 9/11 brought us.

Antiwar Radio

Scott Horton had on the other Scott Horton to discuss the ominous Cheney Doctrine still influencing U.S. policy. Gareth Porter traced the evolution of the CIA to its current, post-9/11 incarnation. Jason Ditz explained the latest in the Libyan War. Kelley B. Vlahos discussed the surveillance state. John Glaser helped analyze U.S. policy toward Iraq, Bahrain, Somalia, and Afghanistan. Michael Scheuer talked about the origins of al-Qaeda’s war on America and how nothing has changed.


Antiwar Radio’s Scott Horton speak at Liberty Fest II in New York City on Saturday, Sept. 10. He will also speak at an October event in Freedom Plaza in Washington, D.C., which is expected to be the biggest antiwar protest demonstration since Obama’s election. Development Director Angela Keaton will speak at L.A. vs. War: Art for Peace in the Hope Era, Sept. 9-11. Other participating organizations include Code Pink and Iraq Veterans Against the War. She will have a booth at the 2011 Liberty Political Action Conference in Reno, Nev., Sept. 15-18 and will speak about Come Home America from 3:40-4:05 p.m. on the 16th. Columnist Philip Giraldi will speak on foreign policy from 1:00-1:45 p.m.

Keaton will also discuss and the new peace movement in a breakout event at this year’s Libertopia in San Diego, Oct. 21-23. Libertopia is an annual festival of peace, freedom, music, community, and ideas that will change the world. Keaton will give a 30-minute speech and a 15-minute Q&A at 5 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 21.

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