The 2003 Conquest of the Republic of Georgia (video)

The Republic of Georgia is a small undeveloped Asian nation that was once part of the Soviet Union. It plays no role in the American economy or security yet was conquered by the American empire in 2003 when the CIA covertly organized a coup to establish a puppet government. Billions of dollars in American military aid, hundreds of military trainers, and thousands of American troops arrived. Russia protested this invasion, but objections were used to proclaim a return of the Cold war and the need for large increases in military spending.

The Weakness of ‘Maximum Pressure’

Originally appeared at The American Conservative.

An Iranian tanker delivered some gasoline to Venezuela this week, and this is how the report in The New York Times framed the event:

Venezuela needs gasoline and has gold. Iran has oil but needs cash. Both Venezuela and Iran are eager to punch back at the Trump administration. And the U.S. government, distracted by the coronavirus pandemic and having already issued harsh sanctions, is left with few retaliatory options beyond military intervention [bold mine-DL].

The US is already strangling both Venezuela and Iran through economic warfare, so the idea that the US would be “retaliating” against the two countries when they seek to trade with each other is bizarre. Two countries that our government has targeted with cruel and unnecessary sanctions have found a limited way to cooperate in an effort to stave off some of the worst effects of economic war, but somehow in the news reporting this is taken as a transgression that calls for punishment and “retaliation.” The warped and false assumption that the US has the right to do any of this is simply taken for granted. The US has any number of options available here that don’t involve attacking other countries for engaging in commerce, but because they aren’t punitive and militarized they are treated as if they don’t exist. It is no wonder that our foreign policy is always biased in favor of “action” when even supposedly straight news stories present a small oil shipment to an impoverished country as something that demands a US response.

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The Legend of Billy Hamilton

Men in every generation tell stories of the people they served with and the ones that never come home. You build incredibly strong bonds living so close to one another and sharing experiences that no one else will ever understand. You go overseas, live under intense stress for 365+ days then head home.

William Hamilton from Redondo Beach, California was not the Soldier of the Month or a Medal of honor winner. He was a guy that had your back and was desperately looking for people to have his. He joined the Army looking for adventure and fun. He got a whole lot more than most he bargained for.

I met him when we were both inprocessing into the 82 Airborne at Fort Bragg, We would do paperwork all day and every night we would go find an under 21 strip club and spend whatever money we could strap together. As a high school drop out, it had been years since I had a friend to hangout with. I think Billy felt the same way.

When we arrived at our unit in August the famous 2-325 A.I.R. they were already in Iraq. Having come into Iraq through Saudi Arabia and Task force Ranger. These were hard dudes. Fighting battles form the border up to Baghdad. Losing friends and living in unthinkable conditions. By the time we made it to them hey were living in different parts of an Iraqi mansion with running water and a small internet cafe. They looked at us cherries as undeserving of attention or respect. Which we were.

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Matthew Hoh & Danny Sjursen: We Are Combat Vets, and We Want America To Reboot Memorial Day

From Mother Jones:

Pandemic or no, resilient Americans will celebrate Memorial Day together. Be it through Zoom or spaced six feet apart from ten or less loved ones at backyard cookouts, folks will find a way. In these peculiar gatherings, is it still considered cynical to wonder if people will spare much actual thought for American soldiers still dying abroad—or question the utility of America’s forever wars? Etiquette aside, we think it’s obscene not to.

Just as the coronavirus has exposed systemic rot, this moment also reveals how obsolete common conceptions of U.S. warfare truly are—raising core questions about the holiday devoted to its sacrifices. The truth is that today’s “way of war” is so abstract, distant, and short on (at least American) casualties as to be nearly invisible to the public. With little to show for it, Washington still directs bloody global campaigns, killing thousands of locals. America has no space on its calendar to memorialize these victims: even the children among them.

Eighteen years ago, as a cadet and young marine officer, we celebrated the first post-9/11 Memorial Day—both brimming with enthusiasm for the wars we knew lay ahead. In the intervening decades, for individual yet strikingly similar reasons, we ultimately chose paths of dissent. Since then, we’ve penned critical editorials around Memorial Days. These challenged the wars’ prospects, questioned the efficacy of the volunteer military, and encouraged citizens to honor the fallen by creating fewer of them.

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Memorial Day Reminiscence in Isolation: For George

I have thought a lot about George lately, one of my ghosts from a past that has been lucky enough to span decades. Luckily, George has never been a triggered recollection, just a benign spectral from my misdirected youth. And at least for now, for this letter to the Wall, just call him George, although his full name and rank are etched in black granite on Panel 26E, Line 48.

I almost never know what prompts my high school version of George to show up. I was listening to some Stones and Creedence last week from a favorite Vietnam era playlist…perfect self-isolation rock. Also Memorial Day is coming up, so who knows? Our lifelines barely crossed, only once as a matter of fact, in the summer of 1965. We were both non-essential workers, stuck in a fast food restaurant, slogging out our last summer at minimum wage before we had to take LBJ’s draft seriously. Neither of us were Fortunate Sons, obviously, both just navigating the grinds of adolescence, topped off by the daily preoccupations and upheavals of a foreshadowed war in Vietnam.

Aside from the shared angst of uncertain futures we had virtually nothing in common. Hometown parents and teachers must have loved George, a reserved, hardworking math-club type, straight A student, from a no-frills, Catholic family. Two years older, my life was his parallel universe in miniature. I was an unbridled college freshman, committed to nothing more than a draft-deferred C+ average, the next weekend, and a military aviation career like my father. Nonetheless, a year at Tech and the suspect worldliness that went with it were street credentials enough for George to look up to me.

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