Afghanistan and the Endless War Caucus

From The American Conservative:

Barbara Boland reported on the House Armed Services Committee’s vote to impede withdrawal of US from Afghanistan:

The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday night to put roadblocks on President Donald Trump’s vow to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan, apparently in response to bombshell report published by The New York Times Friday that alleges Russia paid dollar bounties to the Taliban in Afghanistan to kill US troops.

It speaks volumes about Congress’ abdication of its responsibilities that one of the few times that most members want to challenge the president over a war is when they think he might bring it to an end. Many of the members that want to block withdrawals from other countries have no problem when the president wants to use US forces illegally and to keep them in other countries without authorization for years at a time. The role of hard-liner Liz Cheney in pushing the measure passed yesterday is a good example of what I mean. The hawkish outrage in Congress is only triggered when the president entertains the possibility of taking troops out of harm’s way. When he takes reckless and illegal action that puts them at risk, as he did when he ordered the illegal assassination of Soleimani, the same members that are crying foul today applauded the action. As Boland explains, the amendment passed by the committee yesterday sets so many conditions on withdrawal that it makes it all but impossible to satisfy them:

Crow’s amendment adds several layers of policy goals to the US mission in Afghanistan, which has already stretched on for 19 years and cost over a trillion dollars. As made clear in the Afghanistan Papers, most of these policy goals were never the original intention of the mission in Afghanistan, and were haphazardly added after the defeat of al Qaeda. With no clear vision for what achieving these fuzzy goals would look like, the mission stretches on indefinitely, an unarticulated victory unachievable.

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75 Years Ago: When Szilard Tried To Halt Dropping Atomic Bombs Over Japan

As this troubled summer rolls along, and the world begins to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the creation, and use, of the first atomic bombs, many special, or especially tragic, days will draw special attention. They will include July 16 (first test of the weapon in New Mexico), August 6 (bomb dropped over Hiroshima) and August 9 (over Nagasaki). Surely far fewer in the media and elsewhere will mark another key date: July 3.

On July 3, 1945, the great atomic scientist Leo Szilard finished a letter/petition that would become the strongest (virtually the only) real attempt at halting President Truman’s march to using the atomic bomb – still almost two weeks from its first test at Trinity – against Japanese cities.

We rarely hear that as the Truman White House made plans to use the first atomic bombs against Japan in the summer of 1945, a large group of atomic scientists, many of whom had worked on the bomb project, raised their voices, or at least their names, in protest. They were led by the great physicist Szilard who, among things, is the man who convinced Albert Einstein to write his famous yes-it-can-be-done letter to President Franklin D. Roosevelt, setting the bomb project in motion.

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Fourth of July Musings: The Curse of Exceptionalism and the Perils of Patriotism

From Scheerpost:

Once again, this Fourth of July, Americans will celebrate – to the unwitting militarist racist tune that is the “Star Spangled Banner” – more than just the nation’s Independence Day. Though most folks will, if at a reasonable social distance, focus more on the backyard beer and brats, U.S. jingoism and exceptionalism will invariably be on the menu.

That last sentiment, particularly amidst the COVID-19 and mass protest-exposing era of forever war at home and abroad, deserves a closer and critical look. For exceptionalism is truly a national disease that ravages American bodies and democratic institutions alike. This malignancy must be named and shamed in pursuit of precisely the “participatory patriotism” the holiday purports to celebrate. As the (late) man said, “Always look to the language;” so let us begin there:

A shining “City upon a Hill;” possessed with the power to “begin the world over again;” imbued with a “Manifest Destiny;” destined to “make the world safe for democracy;” representing, ultimately, a singularly “indispensable nation.” These are the self-styled musings from a country with a near-clinical collective Messiah complex. So diagnosed, the United States, predictably, would never countenance competition from any another power claiming even a fraction of similar self-righteousness. Indeed, in the past, the US has gone to war – hot or cold – with others who dared.

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Will the ICC Investigation Bring Justice for Palestine?

In the past, there have been many attempts at holding accused Israeli war criminals accountable. Particularly memorable is the case of the late Israeli Prime Minister, Ariel Sharon, (known, among other nicknames, as the ‘Butcher of Sabra and Shatila’) whose victims attempted to try him in a Belgian Court in 2002.

Like all other efforts, the Belgian case was dropped under American pressure. History seems to be repeating itself.

On December 20, the International Court of Justice (ICC) Chief Prosecutor, Fatou Bensouda, resolved that she had sufficient evidence to investigate alleged war crimes committed in the occupied West Bank, East Jerusalem, and the Gaza Strip. The ICC’s unprecedented decision concluded that there were "no substantial reasons to believe that an investigation would not serve the interests of justice".

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Mutiny on the Bounties

Corporate media are bringing on leaked Kool Aid not unlike the WMD concoction they offered 18 years ago to “justify” the U.S.-UK war of aggression on Iraq.

Now Michael McFaul, ambassador to Russia under President Obama, has been enlisted by The Washington Post’s editorial page honcho, Fred Hiatt, to draw on his expertise (read, incurable Russophobia) to help stick President Donald Trump back into “Putin’s pocket.” (This has become increasingly urgent as the canard of “Russiagate” – including the linchpin claim that Russia hacked the DNC – lies gasping for air.)

In an oped on Thursday McFaul presented a long list of Vladimir Putin’s alleged crimes, offering a more ostensibly sophisticated version of amateur Russian specialist, Rep. Jason Crow’s (D-CO) claim that: “Vladimir Putin wakes up every morning and goes to bed every night trying to figure out how to destroy American democracy.”

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US Imposes Additional Economic Sanctions Against Venezuela and Iran

The US government is seeking to economically drown Venezuela and Iran by wanting to seize fuel that Tehran is sending to Caracas. This is part of a sustained aggressive and illegal policy against both countries. The US Attorney’s Office requested before a court on July 2 to embargo Iranian fuel that is being exported to Venezuela. It is an aggression that goes beyond the legal borders of the US, meaning the embargoes are extraterritorial and violate international law.

District of Columbia prosecutor Zia Faruqui accused Iranian businessman Mahmoud Madanipour of organizing the fuel shipment from Iran to Venezuela through fictitious firms registered in the United Arab Emirates to circumvent Washington’s extraterritorial sanctions against both countries. In this sense, the US is provoking a deepening of the economic crisis in Venezuela and Iran, largely caused by American sanctions. Washington intends to deepen what it created, that has not only triggered an economic crisis in Venezuela and Iran, but also a humanitarian one. Very few international ship-owners dare to challenge US threats and have therefore mostly severed their relations with Venezuela.

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