National Bird, a documentary film about America’s drone wars by filmmaker Sonia Kennebeck, airs May 1 at 10 pm on most local PBS stations as part of the Independent Lens series (check local listings, some stations have different schedules).
I had a chance to see the film in advance, and here’s why you should watch it: it is terrifying even in the quiet moments; it is most terrifying in the quietest moments.
National Bird is a deep, multilayered, look into America’s drone wars, a tactic which became a strategy which became a post-9/11 policy. To many in Iraq, Afghanistan and throughout the world, America’s new national symbol is not the bald eagle, but a gray shadow overhead armed with Hellfire missiles.
Here’s a perfect example of how convoluted our Middle East policy is: our Turkish NATO allies attacked our Kurdish anti-ISIS ground forces in Iraq and Syria this week, killing as many as 70 fighters. The Kurdish YPG fighters make up the bulk of the US-backed “Syrian Democratic Forces” who are leading the US fight against ISIS in eastern Syria. How will the Kurds respond to the fact that their chief sponsor’s close ally keeps killing them? And how does the US expect the Kurds to take over Raqqa once it’s “liberated” when the Turks keep killing them? And how will the Turks respond to the US at least tacitly pushing the Kurds toward de facto statehood? And…what is our Syria policy? Tune in to today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
President Trump has yet to provide any credible evidence that the gas attack in Syria earlier this month was carried out by Assad, and in the meantime very serious questions about the veracity of White House claims are arising from very credible experts. Yet the Administration seems ever more determined now that it has done a 180 degree turn and demanded regime change for Syria. Late last week the White House announced sanctions on 271 Syrian scientists who Trump claims are working on chemical weapons. The proof? None. How to explain this sudden embrace of the neocon line on Syria and elsewhere? It might be telling that according to recent press reports the architect of the disastrous Iraq war, Paul Wolfowitz, is lending advice on the Middle East to Defense Secretary Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster. They have all apparently been friends for years. More in today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:
As the end of Trump’s first 100 days in office approaches, we can already see the novice commander-in-chief’s approach to military action. The approach is to empower “his” generals. And the results? A triumph of image over substance. “Spin it to win it” is the byword for Trump’s military “strategy.”
A few examples:
The disastrous raid on Yemen that led to the death of a Navy SEAL as well as many civilians, including children, was spun by the Trump administration as a great success. At the same time, Trump pinned the death of the SEAL on his generals, saying “they” lost him.
The launch of 59 expensive cruise missiles against a Syrian airfield did little to change the actions of the Assad government. Nor did it knockout the airfield. Yet it was spun by Trump as a remarkable victory. In his words, “We’ve just fired 59 missiles, all of which hit, by the way, unbelievable, from, you know, hundreds of miles away, all of which hit, amazing. It’s so incredible. It’s brilliant. It’s genius. Our technology, our equipment, is better than anybody by a factor of five. I mean look, we have, in terms of technology, nobody can even come close to competing.” Continue reading “Spin It To Win It: The High Cost of Trump’s Military ‘Strategy’”
President Trump’s about-face on Syria has left many of his supporters reeling. Repeatedly on the campaign trail – and over the past several years – he has mocked President Obama’s decision to get involved in a "regime change" project in Syria. He correctly warned Obama back in 2013 that if you attack Syria, "very bad things will happen." In his first several weeks in office the president has gone from praising Syrian President Assad for his fight against ISIS and al-Qaeda, to agreeing that "Assad can stay," to suddenly resurrecting the Obama mantra of "Assad must go!" All in a matter of two weeks!
But what happens if Trump, who is apparently under the spell of the neocons, is successful and Assad is finally overthrown? According to a new study by the prestigious, London-based IHS Jane’s Terrorism and Insurgency Centre, the chief beneficiaries of such a "success" will be ISIS.
History is a funny thing, because we forget it so easily, and so quickly. That forgetting is usually based on the political needs of the moment, and politicians and the media count on us being that way so they can manipulate us. Works nearly every time, too.
One of the latest versions of this is the media meme that the Syrian quagmire is kinda new-ish, and that the most recent American spurt of 59 cruise missiles into that country represents something, maybe an escalation, maybe a change of policy, maybe some domestic political thingie. To help disprove all that, here’s an article I wrote about a year ago.
Let’s see how that holds up in hindsight.
Despite over 400,000 dead and ongoing ground and air campaigns inside the country by the U.S., Russia and several others, 51 US diplomats in 2016 publicly demanded the Obama administration launch strikes directly against Bashir Assad in Syria.