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21 Apr

United States Wars, News and Casualties

United States Wars, News and Casualties

Damn The War Criminals,

Bush,Cheney,Rice,Rumsfeld,Wolfowitz, Powell and Blair from England

War News

NYT: U.S. Service Member Dies in Non-Combat Incident in Iraq: Statement

WASHINGTON — An American service member died in a “non-combat incident” on Saturday in Ninawa Province, Iraq, the U.S.-led coalition fighting Islamic State said in a statement.

The statement did not identify the service member, nor give details of the incident, and said further information would be released “as appropriate.”

NYT: Separate Militant Attacks Kill Nearly 50 Syrian Soldiers

BEIRUT — Syrian government forces came under separate attacks from Islamic State militants and al-Qaida-linked insurgents in different parts of the country that killed nearly 50 soldiers and allied fighters, activists and a war monitoring group said Saturday.

In one attack, IS militants ambushed Syrian government forces in the desert of central Homs province Thursday night, setting off two days of clashes that killed 27 soldiers, including four officers, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

A pro-government militia, known as Liwa al-Quds, confirmed the ambush, saying it had sent its fighters to liberate the two besieged battalions, made up of nearly 500 soldiers, east of the town of al-Sukhna.

In a Facebook post, the militia said it successfully broke the siege and liberated the surviving soldiers before pulling the bodies of those killed and damaged vehicles to safety.

Liwa al-Quds, one of the elite militias operating side by side with government troops, didn’t give a casualty figure. It said the besieged battalions were out in desert looking for an army division that disappeared in the area over the last few days.

The Islamic State group lost its last territories in Syria in March after months of battles with U.S-backed Kurdish-led fighters in the eastern province of Deir el-Zour. But the militants remain active in the desert to the west of Deir el-Zour, where they have taken refuge and increasingly targeted government troops and allied militia.

The militant group, which once controlled large swathes of territory in Syria and Iraq, has kept a network of sleeper cells active in both countries. It has also kept up its media operations. The IS-affiliated Aamaq news agency reported the attack east of al-Sukhna, saying that in 24 hours of clashes its militants killed nearly two dozen Syrian soldiers and officers. It said the militants also seized Syrian government ammunition and vehicles.

Separately, government forces came under an attack from insurgents of al-Qaida-linked Hayat Tahir al-Sham in northwest Syria, where a cease-fire is supposed to be in place.

The Observatory said the insurgents assaulted the government positions west of Aleppo early Saturday, killing 21 soldiers and allied fighters. Baladi news, an activist-operated news site, said the attack in Akrab village killed 27 soldiers, quoting an HTS operative. Akrab overlooks the Aleppo-Damascus highway.

BBC: Syria war: IS ‘kills 35’ government troops in desert attacks

Islamic State militants have killed 35 Syrian pro-government forces in desert attacks in recent days, the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights says.

The UK-based monitoring group says the militants attacked in Homs and Deir al-Zour provinces.

IS media has spoken about the alleged attacks, but Syrian officials have not confirmed them.

It comes weeks after reports some IS militants had fled into the desert from Baghuz – their last stronghold.

The area was declared “freed” by the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) on 23 March.

Although the declaration marked the last territorial victory over the group’s caliphate, experts warn it does not mean the end of IS or its ideology.

Thousands of fighters and their families captured from Baghuz, including foreign nationals, remain in camps nearby.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights say IS militants have killed 27 government troops and allied militia in the desert in the east of Homs province since Thursday.

Another eight were killed in the province of Deir al-Zour on Thursday night, the monitor reports.

Observatory chief Rami Abdel Rahman described it as the “biggest attack and the highest death toll among regime forces since the caliphate was declared defeated”.

At least six IS militants were also killed in the clashes, the monitor says.

The IS group’s news outlet, Amaq, allege its militants were able to seize army weapons during the Homs clashes, including a number of armoured vehicles and machine guns.

AP: Afghan official: Blast rocks country’s capital, kills 7

KABUL, Afghanistan (AP) — A suicide blast rocked Afghanistan’s capital Saturday during a gun battle with security forces, officials said, killing at least seven people a day after hopes for all-encompassing peace talks collapsed. At least eight people were wounded.

Police chief Gen. Sayed Mohammad Roshandil said the bomber blew himself up outside the Telecommunications Ministry, clearing the way for four gunmen to enter the building and the heavily guarded government compound in central Kabul.

Nasart Rahimi, a spokesman for the Interior Ministry, said four civilians and three soldiers were killed during the attack. Eight civilians were wounded, he said.

Wahidullah Mayar, spokesman for the Public Health Ministry, said the wounded people were evacuated to hospitals, three of them women.

No one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack. Both Taliban insurgents and the Islamic State group are active in eastern Afghanistan and have previously claimed attacks in Kabul.

The Taliban denied involvement.

Rahimi said the security operation ended at the Ministry of Telecommunication “after all four attackers were shot and killed by Afghan security forces.”

The attack came a day after Afghan-to-Afghan peace talks in Qatar were cancelled. It would have marked the first time that Taliban and Kabul government officials sat together to negotiate an end to the war in Afghanistan and a withdrawal of U.S. troops.

Afghan president Ashraf Ghani strongly condemned the attack in a statement, saying the enemies of Afghanistan, by targeting civil servants, are trying to create terror among the people.

Rahimi said security forces blocked all roads near the attack site and that forced shot and killed four additional suicide bombers before the attackers could reach their target of the nearby central post office.

He said as many as 2,700 government employees and civilians were rescued by security forces after being stuck in several government buildings including the central post office.

An employee of the Telecommunication Ministry who was rescued, Hamid Popalzai, said “an explosion happened and then we heard the sound of gunfire and more explosions.” He added that a large number of people were inside the ministry, both women and men, when the attack started.

Live footage on local TV showed government employees fleeing neighboring Information and Culture Ministry buildings, with some climbing out of windows.

NYT: Why Did We Fight the Iraq War?

 

President George W. Bush with Condoleezza Rice, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld and Gen. Richard Myers in 2003.CreditJeff Mitchell/Reuters

LEAP OF FAITH

Hubris, Negligence, and America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy

By Michael J. Mazarr

The operative word in the title of “Leap of Faith: Hubris, Negligence, and America’s Greatest Foreign Policy Tragedy” is the last one: tragedy. Drawing on extensive interviews with unnamed “senior officials” as well as recently declassified documents, Michael J. Mazarr attributes the United States invasion of Iraq in 2003 to good intentions gone awry. Here is an example of “America’s worthy global ambitions” that went “terribly wrong.”

Yet the evidence Mazarr himself assembles refutes that conclusion. Chalking up the debacle of Iraq to “the messianic tradition in American foreign policy,” as he does, simply won’t wash. It’s akin to writing off a vehicular homicide because the driver happens to be a known alcoholic.

The Iraq war was not a tragedy. It was more like a crime, compounded by the stupefying incompetence of those who embarked upon a patently illegal preventive war out of a sense of panic induced by the events of 9/11. An impulse to lash out overwhelmed any inclination to deliberate, with decisions made in a “hothouse atmosphere of fear and vulnerability.” Those to whom President George W. Bush turned for advice had become essentially unhinged. Iraq presented an inviting opportunity to vent their wrath.

The handful of officials who shaped policy after 9/11, writes Mazarr, a political scientist currently with RAND, were “not evil or pernicious human beings.” Instead, Mazarr credits them with acting in response to a “moralistic sense of doing the right thing.” Viewed from that perspective, “the Iraq war decision was grounded in sacred values,” even if the evil and pernicious consequences of that decision continue to mount.

So Mazarr bats away what he calls “erroneous mythologies” attributing the war to a neoconservative conspiracy or describing it as a plot to protect Israel or seize Arab oil. He finds these explanations unworthy. The invasion of Iraq, he insists, stemmed from “America’s essential sense of itself” as “fundamentally messianic or missionary in character.”

As an account of the war’s origins, “Leap of Faith” offers few genuine revelations. It clarifies, confirms and fills in details. So, Mazarr tells us, within 24 hours of 9/11, even before Bush had unveiled the phrase “global war on terrorism,” a decision to overthrow Saddam “had been essentially sealed in cognitive amber.” All that remained was to work out the details while conjuring up a moral rationale that would conceal the absence of a strategic one. The dearth of hard evidence connecting Saddam Hussein to Al Qaeda or confirming the existence of an Iraqi program for developing weapons of mass destruction was beside the point. The administration declared Saddam a threat; nothing more was required.

Mazarr affirms that an actual decision for war was never really made but merely assumed. “There was no single meeting,” he writes, “no formal options paper, no significant debate about the consequences.” None were required.

Recently, critics have lambasted President Trump for making decisions to pull out troops from Afghanistan and Syria without properly consulting the national security establishment. There’s been no process, the charge goes. During the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq, in contrast, there was process galore, an endless stream of studies, briefings and planning sessions. It’s just that none of it mattered. Bush and his chief lieutenants were dead set on a course of action and nothing was going to prevent them from plunging ahead. Process was a charade.

Mazarr describes the result as “policy implementation on autopilot,” with doubters and dissenters frozen out or simply ignored. At echelons below the top level, he writes, “loyalty-enforcing groupthink” abounded. Military officers given to asking annoying questions “were particularly muzzled.” With the exception of a single four-star general who went off script by suggesting publicly that occupying Iraq might pose a stiff challenge, members of the Joint Chiefs of Staff learned to keep their mouths shut.

Making matters worse was the dysfunction that prevailed at the top level. President Bush, Mazarr says, “believed in belief itself,” a tendency that obviated the need to challenge assumptions or solicit second opinions. Vice President Dick Cheney, meanwhile, created his own foreign policy shop, which pursued its own agenda. Secretary of State Colin Powell lagged two steps behind his colleagues, never quite grasping that he had been marginalized. “To demonstrate his superiority, to dominate, to overawe,” Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld blustered, accrued authority and protected his turf. Yet when it came to making tough decisions, he ducked and deferred. Rumsfeld’s deputy Paul Wolfowitz, another important figure, was “moved more by grand ideas than by the bothersome trivia of execution.” Condoleezza Rice, the national security adviser, was herself given to what some of her associates called “magical thinking,” and never gained the respect of Cheney or Rumsfeld. All in all, according to Mazarr, a “truly astonishing degree of wishful thinking” permeated the upper echelons of government. It was like the court of Czar Nicholas II in 1917.

So while United States military commanders focused on the problem of getting to Baghdad, the question of what was to happen next became an orphan, ignored and unwanted. Rumsfeld in particular nursed the fantasy that the United States could “be liberator and hegemon at the same time” — freeing Iraqis from oppression, and then quickly converting Iraq itself into a compliant ally that would do Washington’s bidding, all with minimal muss and fuss. As a result, the disorder triggered by Saddam’s overthrow and the combined civil war and insurgency that ensued caught the war’s architects completely by surprise. For the next several years, American soldiers and Iraqi civilians were to pay a heavy price for what can only be described as malpractice on a Trumpian scale.

To explain all of this in terms of a misplaced messianic impulse — the self-described indispensable nation having a bad run of luck — may play well in Washington, where serious introspection is rarely welcome. Yet, ultimately, such an explanation amounts to little more than a dodge. After all, altruism rarely if ever provides an adequate explanation for the actions of a great power. Exempting the United States from that proposition, as Mazarr does, entails its own spectacular leap of faith.

The United States invaded Iraq not in response to a “vigorous missionary impulse,” but to avoid reckoning with this fact: Decades of wrongheaded policies in the Middle East had culminated on 9/11 in a cataclysmic episode of blowback.

National security policies conceived from the 1940s through the 1990s, reinforced after the Cold War by false assumptions of military supremacy, had produced the inverse of security. In the formulation of those policies, America’s missionary obligations had figured as the faintest afterthought, if at all. Sadly, Mazarr’s well-intentioned book is likely to provide yet another excuse to postpone reckoning with that failure.

 

Bush’s Five Big Lies That Led to the Iraq Quagmire

These are the five lies Bush told that Ralph Nader documented to impeach him.

  • Weapons of Mass Destruction. The weapons have still not been found. Nader emphasized, “Until the 1991 Gulf War, Saddam Hussein was our government’s anti-communist ally in the Middle East. We also used him to keep Iran at bay. In so doing, in the 1980s under Reagan and the first Bush, corporations were licensed by the Department of Commerce to export the materials for chemical and biological weapons that President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney later accused him of having.” Those weapons were destroyed after the Gulf War. George W. Bush’s favorite chief weapons inspector, David Kay, after returning from Iraq and leading a large team of inspectors and spending nearly half a billion dollars told the president We were wrong. See: David Kay testimony before Senate Armed Services Committee, 2004-01-28.Tyler Drumheller, the former chief of the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) ’s Europe division, revealed that in the fall of 2002, George W. Bush, Vice President Cheney, then-National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice and others were told by CIA Director George Tenet that Iraq’s foreign minister — who agreed to act as a spy for the United States — had reported that Iraq had no active weapons of mass destruction program.

  • Iraq Ties to Al Qaeda. The White House made this claim even though the CIA and FBI (Federal Bureau of Investigation) repeatedly told the Administration that there was no tie between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. They were mortal enemies — one secular, the other fundamentalist.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to the United States. In fact, Saddam was a tottering dictator, with an antiquated, fractured army of low morale and with Kurdish enemies in Northern Iraq and Shiite adversaries in the South of Iraq. He did not even control the air space over most of Iraq.

  • Saddam Hussein was a Threat to his Neighbors. In fact, Iraq was surrounded by countries with far superior military forces. Turkey, Iran and Israel were all capable of obliterating any aggressive move by the Iraqi dictator.

  • The Liberation of the Iraqi People. There are brutal dictators throughout the world, many supported over the years by Washington, whose people need liberation from their leaders. This is not a persuasive argument since for Iraq, it’s about oil. In fact, the occupation of Iraq by the United States is a magnet for increasing violence, anarchy and insurrection.

 

Recent Casualties:

Color Denotes Today’s Confirmation

DOD Identifies Marine Casualties

The Department of Defense announced today the death of three Marines who were supporting Operation Resolute Support.

The following Marines died April 8 while conducting combat operations in Parwan province, Afghanistan.

Cpl. Robert A. Hendriks, 25, of Locust Valley, New York.

Sgt. Benjamin S. Hines, 31, of York, Pennsylvania.

Staff Sgt. Christopher K.A. Slutman, 43, of Newark, Delaware.

These Marines were assigned to 25th Marine Regiment, 4th Marine Division, Marine Forces Reserve.

The Pentagon has identified two U.S. soldiers killed in Afghanistan while involved in combat operations Friday in Kunduz Province.

The men were identified Saturday as Spc. Joseph P. Collette, 29, of Lancaster, Ohio, and Sgt. 1st Class Will D. Lindsay, 33, of Cortez, Colorado. Collette was assigned to the 242nd Ordnance Battalion, 71st Explosive Ordnance Disposal Group, and Lindsay was assigned to 2nd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne). Both were based at Fort Carson, Colorado.

“The 71st Ordnance Group … is deeply saddened by the loss of Spc. Joseph P. Collette. We extend our deepest sympathies and condolences to his family and friends,” Col. David K. Green, commander of 71st Ordnance Group, said in a statement.

The fatalities bring to four the number of U.S. soldiers killed so far this year in Afghanistan. The deaths underscore the difficulties in bringing peace to the war-ravaged country.

Save The Children Organization

Save the Children is the world’s leading independent organisation for children and has been working with families, communities and local authorities in Iraq since 1991, leading NGOs in general relief and development programs.Save the Children is currently responding to the needs of internally displaced persons (IDP) and the Syrian refugees in Iraq, in camps and non-camp settings. Our goal is for children in Iraq to be supported in raising their voices and attaining their rights, especially the right to participate in decisions affecting their lives. They should have access to quality education, health and protection services. We are increasing access to community based services that protect, educate and improve quality of life for children. We are ensuring that there is an increased participation of boys and girls in age appropriate activities and services. We are ensuring that children benefit from government actions that create an environment of awareness and accountability to uphold child rights. We are also developing new resources and innovative practices that support our work for children and youth.In Iraq, Save the Children’s interventions include Child Protection, Education, Food Security and Livelihoods, Shelter and Water Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), reaching vulnerble children and families in northern and central Iraq. Save the Children’s programs are implemented through field offices in Erbil, Dohuk, Sulaymaniyah, Kirkuk and Kalar, with a country office located in Erbil.

Visit Save The Children Organization>>

Yemen War Child. With Yemen in the grip of the biggest and most rapidly spreading cholera epidemic on record, an estimated 80% of the population is in urgent need of aid. Clean water and food are hard to come and, with the millionth cholera case on the horizon, the country’s health system is on the verge of collapse

All photographs by Kellie Ryan/IRC

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