21st Century Wire says…
In the aftermath of the US Senate Intelligence Committee’s bombshell Torture Report, both Democrats and Republicans are now jockeying for position to occupy the moral high ground. On one side you have apologists for CIA torture, and on the other are half-hearted partisan Democrats desperate to protect their own administration’s sins overseas – and in the middle is a small minority who still believe in doing what’s right in trying to preserve America’s waning integrity internationally.
It’s times like this which really separates the wheat from the chaff…
A bevvy of so-called ‘military experts’ are cued-up on all the major TV networks to give their assessment as to ‘What constitutes torture?’, as well as arguing over what passes for ‘intelligence’ these days. The conversation is as banal as it is Orwellian. The pro-torture crowd, including CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, seems like the Pentagon’s embedded anchor and torture advocate, are all currently rallying around GW Bush’s inner circle, while the CIA stooges continue to sound a lot like Dr. Josef Mengele’s assistants testifying at Nuremberg.
They are all keen to tout their successes in their expensive ‘War on Terror’, although they’ve still yet to present anything besides anecdotes, opinion and hyperbole. Even proponents of the ‘Afghan Surge’ are being wheeled out of the Pentagon’s basement, as military buffoons continue to claim credit for it’s’success’, but who seem to be getting their military strategies from the film Starship Troopers. In other words: throw as much men as you can at the problem until the insects are killed off. They apply the exact same illogic to the torture argument, which is to dole out as much physical and psychological punishment to their ‘high value detainees’ until the subject tells them what they want to hear. This is what pretty much what passes for ‘military genius’ in the post-Bush world of ethical vacuums and moral black holes.
Even Senator John McCain sobered up from his usual mode of NATO-jihad just long enough to admit to the US, and the world this week – that torture aka ‘enhanced interrogation’ doesn’t actually work at all when it comes to gathering meaningful intelligence, and moreover, that it paints the US in a bad light internationally. 21WIRE will add to that and say: the same goes for Washington obsession with domestic spying starting with the whole NSA surveillance (see 21WIRE NSA Files) and data harvesting operation – a monolithic, 21st century digital monstrosity that’s literally wasting billions per month in scarce US taxpayer funds.
Although the Senate report was spearheaded by Democrats, that’s not to say that this White House should be given a free pass on its own outsourcing of violence. The Obama Revolution in foreign policy terms, has been all about making US militarism, especially in places like Africa, seem acceptable and almost fashionable to his young left supporters. But tell us what is really fashionable about sanctioned 2,400 murders through JSCOC and CIA covert drone programs.
The bottom line is that killing and torture has become political. If they were not, the Obama would have already closed his own government’s Guantanamo Bay torture facility a long time ago.
That said, it’s pretty safe to say that Barack Obama has taken anything but a Zen approach to foreign policy over the last 6 years…
WAR CHIQUE: Obama’s brand of militarism at home and abroad raised few eyebrows from the anti-war left.
Top 5 not-so-peaceful Obama actions since nabbing Nobel Prize
Five years on from President Barack Obama scooping a Nobel Peace Prize, and the White House has taken anything but a ‘Zen’ approach to foreign policy under his watch. Here are the top 5 not-so-peaceful moves the laureate has made in the past half-decade.
1. Afghan Surge
Obama didn’t start the war in Afghanistan, but he certainly took a page from his predecessors playbook in trying to finish it. He recognized his precarious position at prize time.
“But perhaps the most profound issue surrounding my receipt of this prize is the fact that I am the commander-in-chief of a nation in the midst of two wars,” he said after accepting the Nobel Prize in Oslo, Norway, on December 9, 2009.
While he said the war in Iraq was “winding down,” things in Afghanistan were just starting to heat up. A week before accepting the prize, Obama announced he was sending 33,000 more troops to Afghanistan as part of his “surge policy,” intended to beat back the Taliban and train Afghan security forces to take the country into their own hands. The following years would become the deadliest for both US troops and Afghan civilians. Again, it wasn’t Obama’s war. But then came…
2. Military strikes in Libya
Following UN Resolution 1973 on March 17, 2011, which called for “an immediate ceasefire” in Libya and authorized the international community to set up a no-fly zone to protect civilians, Obama, along with his NATO allies, would soon launch military strikes to turn the tide of the 2011 Civil War in the North African state. NATO conducted 9,700 strike sorties and dropped over 7,700 precision bombs. AHuman Rights Watch report would go on to detail eight incidents where at least 72 Libyan civilians died as a result of the aerial campaign.
But the real damage to overthrowing the Gaddafi regime came in the ensuing years, with the country descending into a civil war between Islamist forces and the weak post-revolutionary government. In August, Obama admitted his Libyan policy was a failure, but not because he chose to intervene militarily. Rather, he says the problem was that America and its European partners did not “come in full force” to take Gaddafi out. Although his then-Secretary of State Hillary Clinton seemed to rejoice in his death, wryly noting “We came, we saw, he died.”
3. Drone Wars in Yemen, Pakistan
Since the US first started targeting Yemeni militants in 2002, Obama has launched all but one of the 15 airstrikes and 101 drone strikes in the country. According to the web portal New America.net, which has meticulously complied data on the strikes, up to 1,073 people have been killed in the strikes. An estimated 81-87 of those killed were civilians, while the identity of another 31-50 remains unknown. But Yemen was just one prong in Obama’s so-called Drone War, though, as we shall see, it was the site of a game-changing incident.
Unlike in Yemen, drone strikes in Pakistan were in favor long before Obama came to power. A reportconducted by Stanford and New York Universities’ Law schools found that between 2,562 and 3,325 people were killed by drone strikes in Pakistan between June 2004 and mid-September 2012. Anywhere between 474 and 881 of those were civilians, and 176 were children. While Obama didn’t start the Pakistani drone war, he aggressively expanded it.
Between 2004 and 2007, only 10 drone strikes were launched in Pakistan. The following year saw 36 such strikes, and 54 were launched in 2009.
But 2010 would be the deadliest year by far, with 122 strikes launched and 849 people killed. He would go on to authorize 73 and 46 strikes in 2011 and 2012 respectively.
Following widespread opposition at home and abroad, in May 2013, Obama promised a new era of transparency to protect civilians, saying control of the program would be transferred from the CIA to the Pentagon. But…
4. Obama has a secret kill list
In February 2013, the Obama administration’s internal legal justification for assassinating US citizens abroad came to light for the first time. According to the Justice Department document, the White House has the legal authority to kill Americans who are “senior operational leaders,” of Al-Qaeda or “an associated force” even if they are not actively engaged in any active plot to attack the US.
In September 2011, a US drone strike in Yemen killed two American citizens: Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan. The following month, a drone strike killed al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, who was born in Colorado.
— Libertarian Nation (@LibertarianWing) August 17, 2014
The concept of the US president exercising the right to kill US citizens without the benefit of a trial has resonated throughout American culture.
In the comic-book-inspired film ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’, the issue of targeted killings and“kill lists” features prominently in the plot.
5. Redrawing red lines
President Barack Obama drew a red line around Syria’s use of chemical weapons, pushing the international community to punish Damascus with military strikes following the August 21 Ghouta Attack.
But US-led airstrikes on Syria were only postponed. On August 8, 2014, the United States started bombing so-called Islamic State (IS) militants in Iraq to protect embattled Kurds. The following month, the US would launch airstrikes against IS militants in Syria as well. Of all the US military interventions in recent years, the battle against the IS has been met with widespread approval. Still, Syria was theseventh country Obama has bombed in six years.
Quite a feat for a Nobel Peace Prize-winner.
READ MORE OBAMA NEWS AT: 21st Century Wire Obama Files