Description: Interventions, Interference, and Invasions: Nate and Bill lead a world tour of the post-WWII history of countries entering other countries’ civil wars and uprisings, for good or ill, and what it means for the future. (We talk about Cuba, Angola, Afghanistan, Syria, Iran, Indonesia, Guatemala, Libya, Central African Republic, Mali, Somalia, and many others.) People: Bill, Nate. Originally produced: October 20th, 2014. Re-edited and abridged: April 19, 2017.
– Kissinger’s plan to bomb Cuba and what the future of the embargo is
– CIA history: Why arming rebels has often failed and what it means for US plans in Syria now
– What does the future hold for international and unilateral military interventions in armed conflicts and crises? Is the UN still relevant?
Episode 104-Abridged (54 min)
– NYT: Kissinger Drew Up Plans to Attack Cuba, Records Show
– AFD: Jimmy Carter’s Election Prevented a Disastrous War in Cuba
– NYT: CIA Study Says Arming Rebels Seldom Works
– AFD: Confusion in Libya as Egyptian jets bomb Benghazi
– AFD: US suddenly surprised to find Mideast states acting unilaterally
– AFD: Is the US-led Syria operation vs ISIS legal under international law?
– AFD: France announces indefinite Sahel deployment
– AFD: France: Back to Africa?
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“Getting Real: Facing Necessary Facts in Syria and Iraq” by Michael J. Brenner for The Globalist:
Washington only compounds its culpability while simultaneously reducing the chances of finding a tolerable way out of the jam if it remains addicted to fanciful thinking.
And yet it remains wedded to a set of totally unrealistic propositions. This results in the creation of a make-believe world that bears no relation to reality.
Here are some of the biggest fictions that must be abandoned:
- Jihadist Syrian frontrunners al-Nusra/al-Qaeda can be transmogrified into mere expressions of genuine Sunni grievances.
- Nusra jihadists can be converted into the instrument for militarily crushing ISIS just because there is nobody else willing or able to a job America won’t take on.
- Saudi Arabia and the Gulfies will give priority to defeating the various Salafist groups rather than to the removal the Alawite regime in Damascus.
- ISIS’s financial lifeline can be cut without destroying the infrastructure of its oil trade and without getting Turkey to cease and desist its complicity in sustaining the oil trade.
- The Russians can be “isolated” and denied a major role in determining Syria’s future by calling Putin dirty names and reciting the number of worthless partners in Obama’s ersatz coalition.
- Phantom Syrian rebel armies devoted to tolerance and democracy – that don’t exist except in the escapist visions of Washington’s strategic non-thinkers – can be relied upon to win battlefield victories.
- Establishing a no-fly buffer zone in northern Syria would do something other than satisfy Erdogan’s ambition to keep open his supply line to al-Nusra and his lucrative commercial dealings with ISIS.
- Such a no-fly buffer zone would not contradict our purposes in Syria and would be tolerated by Russia.
- It is within the power of the United States to shape the Middle East to its own specifications while contesting a legitimate place for Iran, Russia, Yemenese Houthis and anyone else who doesn’t hew the Saudi-Israeli-Erdogan line Washington has endorsed.
Flag of the Syrian government.
Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.
Ever wondered how ISIS and the early insurgency in Iraq got so many decent weapons so fast? It wasn’t just by capturing them after big surrenders by the Iraq Army.
Here’s Al Jazeera English, quoting an Amnesty International report on how the United States carelessly created the conditions necessary to arm ISIS fully:
“From 2003 to 2007, the US and other coalition members transferred more than one million infantry weapons and pistols with millions of rounds of ammunition to the Iraqi armed forces, despite the fact that the army was poorly structured, corrupt and ill-disciplined”.
“Hundreds of thousands of those weapons went missing and are still unaccounted for. During this period, illicit markets flourished, as did covert supplies from Iran, making arms and ammunition readily available to armed groups operating in Iraq.”
Yet another reason to be so wary of Western efforts to arm various groups in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, or anywhere else in the world right now.
The Associated Press alleges that US Special Forces intentionally called in an airstrike on the Kunduz hospital, knowing it was a hospital (albeit one erroneously associated with the Taliban).
Also a mystery is why the AC-130 gunship would have kept firing during the course of an hour on a building that both the Air Force and the Army knew was an internationally run trauma center. To avoid civilian casualties, a gunship would typically stop firing as soon as it achieved its objective — in this case, ostensibly, protecting U.S. forces. Generally, the aircraft would require further clearance from the troops on the ground to continue firing.
An AC-130 gunship flies low and slow, often with a good view of its target and the damage it is inflicting. The pilot also would have had to know the locations of U.S. and allied forces in the area, to avoid hitting them.
We previously discussed this airstrike on a radio episode: Oct 14, 2015 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 146
Late Baathist-era flag of the Republic of Iraq, 1991-2004.
During and immediately after the first Gulf War, more than 200,000 of 700,000 U.S. troops sent to Iraq and Kuwait in January 1991 were exposed to nerve gas and other chemical agents. Though aware of this, the Department of Defense and CIA launched a campaign of lies and concocted a cover-up that continues today.
During January and February 1991, when the U.S. bombed Iraq’s weapons plants and storage sites, poisonous plumes floated across the desert to thousands of U.S. troops based on the Saudi border. Sirens wailed daily, but officers in charge announced that the chemical-detection alarms were faulty.
The U.S. government and military continues to obscure or misrepresent the scale of the lasting damage for veterans to this day. To say nothing of the very similar mishandling and coverup in the second Iraq War of legacy chemical weapons disposal.
Arsenal Bolt: Quick updates on the news stories we’re following.
Journalist Gareth Porter for Truthout: “The US Could End Saudi War Crimes in Yemen – It Just Doesn’t Want To”
The Amnesty report notes that the United States is also providing logistical and intelligence support to the Saudi-led coalition. This logistical assistance is particularly important because the Saudis and their Gulf allies need the assistance of US mechanics to keep their aircraft running. That fact gives the Obama administration a major source of leverage on Saudi policy.
Furthermore, last summer the Saudis began to run low on the laser-guided bombs sold to them by the United States and requested to be resupplied. As a result, the Saudi decision to continue the war is dependent on a policy decision by Washington.
Previously from AFD on this topic:
– Op-Ed | “Saudi Arabia and the US: More military misfires”
– “Egypt, Qatar, others add ground troops to Yemen mess”
– “Yemen: Saudis ‘liberate’ Aden; Qaeda waltzes in immediately”
A fairly stark assessment of the Afghanistan mess last week buried in a New York Times article:
“We need to have a conversation about how much we care about this place,” said Douglas Ollivant, a senior fellow at The New America Foundation in Washington.
“Are we willing to spend — the numbers are fuzzy — but somewhere between $10 and $20 billion per year in perpetuity for the privilege of Afghanistan not totally collapsing,” said Mr. Ollivant, who previously who worked in the National Security Council for Mr. Obama and Mr. Bush. “And we’re not talking about it being Xanadu — we’re talking about not collapsing.”
This phrasing, “in perpetuity for the privilege of Afghanistan not totally collapsing,” immediately called to mind a December 2009 post I wrote entitled: “Afghan Army recruitment jumps, US underwrites”
Afghanistan’s government, unlike Iraq’s, doesn’t have oil revenues to support a strong central military. The CIA World Factbook mentions very little in the way of non-poppy or foreign aid-related economic sources for Afghanistan, and notes that the poppy trade provides about $3 billion to the country’s (black market) economy.
Then, I remembered yesterday’s headline: “Karzai Says Afghan Army Will Need Help Until 2024,” referring to monetary support. Both articles are New York Times, but no mention in today’s article on pay raises. Well, connecting the dots, I made an educated guess that the US just underwrote a big pay raise for the Afghan Army, with very convenient timing. You might think this is good because now the Army will compete with the Taliban in recruiting people and thus security will improve. There’s the big problem, however. We can’t keep underwriting these pay raises forever. The United States is not going to keep fully financing the Afghan Army for fourteen years. We probably can’t afford to.
What makes 2024 the magic number anyway? There’s still no big revenue source available to the Afghan government in 2024, and so the Army would still run out of money. And then we’re back at square one.
Not much has changed then except that we’re further back now than in 2009 and many billions deeper in the hole. So when do we stop throwing good money after bad?
We created this money pit, but eventually the “remedy” is net-neutral at best and actively hurting at worst.