Berto Jongman: Star-Spangled Baggage — US Veterans Going Nuts…

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Star-Spangled Baggage

By Ann Jones, TomDispatch

This piece first appeared at TomDispatch. Read Tom Engelhardt’s introduction here.

After an argument about a leave denied, Specialist Ivan Lopez pulled out a .45-caliber Smith & Wesson handgun and began a shooting spree at Fort Hood, America’s biggest stateside base, that left three soldiers dead and 16 wounded.  When he did so, he also pulled America’s fading wars out of the closet.  This time, a Fort Hood mass killing, the second in four and a half years, was committed by a man who was neither a religious nor a political “extremist.”  He seems to have been merely one of America’s injured and troubled veterans who now number in the hundreds of thousands.

Some 2.6 million men and women have been dispatched, often repeatedly, to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, and according to a recent survey of veterans of those wars conducted by the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation, nearly one-third say that their mental health is worse than it was before they left, and nearly half say the same of their physical condition.  Almost half say they give way to sudden outbursts of anger.  Only 12% of the surveyed veterans claim they are now “better” mentally or physically than they were before they went to war.

The media coverage that followed Lopez’s rampage was, of course, 24/7 and there was much discussion of PTSD, the all-purpose (if little understood) label now used to explain just about anything unpleasant that happens to or is caused by current or former military men and women. Amid the barrage of coverage, however, something was missing: evidence that has been in plain sight for years of how the violence of America’s distant wars comes back to haunt the “homeland” as the troops return.  In that context, Lopez’s killings, while on a scale not often matched, are one more marker on a bloody trail of death that leads from Iraq and Afghanistan into the American heartland, to bases and backyards nationwide.  It’s a story with a body count that should not be ignored.

War Comes Home

During the last 12 years, many veterans who had grown “worse” while at war could be found on and around bases here at home, waiting to be deployed again, and sometimes doing serious damage to themselves and others.  The organization Iraq Veterans Against the War (IVAW) has campaigned for years for a soldier’s “right to heal” between deployments.  Next month it will release its own report on a common practice at Fort Hood of sending damaged and heavily medicated soldiers back to combat zones against both doctors’ orders and official base regulations. Such soldiers can’t be expected to survive in great shape.

Immediately after the Lopez rampage, President Obama spoke of those soldiers who have served multiple tours in the wars and “need to feel safe” on their home base. But what the president called “that sense of safety… broken once again” at Fort Hood has, in fact, already been shattered again and again on bases and in towns across post-9/11 America—ever since misused, misled, and mistreated soldiers began bringing war home with them.

Since 2002, soldiers and veterans have been committing murder individually and in groups, killing wives, girlfriends, children, fellow soldiers, friends, acquaintances, complete strangers, and—in appalling numbers—themselves. Most of these killings haven’t been on a mass scale, but they add up, even if no one is doing the math.  To date, they have never been fully counted.

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Apr 18

Veterans Today: US Produced Sarin Gas for Syrian Rebels, in Georgia (the Country Next to Russia)

veterans todayUS Produced Sarin Gas Used in Syria

Jeffrey K. Silverman

Veterans Today, 8 April 2014

Jeffrey K. Silverman, 22 years resident of the former Soviet Union, since October 1991, resides in Tbilisi Georgia worked with Radio Free Europe, crime, corruption and terrorism report. USAR, 100th Division Training, Fort Knox and Blue Grass Army Chemical Weapons Depot, both Kentucky bases: decorated veteran, 19D, Calvary Scout. Jeffrey has a track record in breaking through language barriers and bureaucracies to gather information under unconventional circumstances.

EXTRACT

Journalists Jeffrey Silverman and Lika Moshiashvili are credited with having discovered the secret and illegal operations taking place in the US-controlled Central Reference Laboratory (CPHRL) in the Tbilisi suburb the Alekseevka Settlement.”As soon as this scary information was made known to the public, Georgia & World contacted Tbilisi based American journalist and researcher Jeffrey Silverman.

. . . . . . .

A number of labs, strewn across Eastern Europe, are linked like an umbilicial cord to the Biological Weapons Proliferation Prevention (BWPP) programme and various projects within it. This programme provides a cover for what is most likely an offensive programme. If the strains they are investigating turn out to be antibiotic resistant, this implies they are conducting ongoing research into special organisms that can eat bacteria and attack infections that are antibiotic resistant, which can be quickly accessed.  Whoever has the capacity to release these controls the bioweapons battlefield.

Read full article/interview.

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Apr 10

Berto Jongman: Frederick Kagan on Why US Has Failed to Defeat Al Qaeda

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Missing the Target: Why the US Has Not Defeated al Qaeda

Frederick W. Kagan, TESTIMONY

American Enterprise Institute, 8 April 2014

All conditions are set for a series of significant terrorist attacks against the US and its allies over the next few years. But that’s not the worst news. Conditions are also set for state collapse in Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Yemen, and possibly Jordan. Saudi Arabia, facing a complex succession soon, is likely to acquire nuclear weapons shortly, if it has not already done so. Turkey and Egypt confront major crises. Almost all of Northern and Equatorial Africa is violent, unstable, and facing a growing al Qaeda threat. And Vladimir Putin’s assault on Ukraine is likely to empower al Qaeda-aligned jihadists in Crimea and in Russia itself. That eventuality is, of course, less worrisome than the prospect of conventional and partisan war on the European continent, likely threatening NATO allies. The international order and global stability are collapsing in a way we have not seen since the 1930s. There is little prospect of this trend reversing of its own accord, and managing it will require massive efforts by the US and its allies over a generation or more.

This distressing context is essential for considering the al Qaeda threat today. On the one hand, it makes that threat look small. The long – term effects of global chaos and conflict among hundreds of millions of people across Europe, Africa, and the Middle East on US security, interests, and way of life are surely greater than any damage al Qaeda is likely to do to us in the immediate future. Yet the two threats feed each other powerfully. Disorder and conflict in the Muslim world breed support for al Qaeda, which is starting to look like the strong horse in Iraq and even in Syria. Al Qaeda groups and their allies, on the other hand, powerfully contribute to the collapse of state structures and the emergence of horrific violence and Hobbesian chaos wherever they operate. They are benefiting greatly from the regional sectarian war they intentionally triggered (the destruction of the Samarra Mosque in 2006 was only the most spectacular of a long series of efforts by al Qaeda in Iraq to goad Iraq’s Shi’a into sectarian conflict , for which some Shi’a militants, to be sure, were already preparing) — and have been continuing to fuel.

Al Qaeda is like a virulent pathogen that opportunistically attacks bodies weakened by internal strife and poor governance, but that further weakens those bodies and infects others that would not otherwise have been susceptible to the disease. The problem of al Qaeda cannot be separated from the other crises of our age, nor can it be quarantined or rendered harmless through targeted therapies that ignore the larger problems.

Yet that is precisely how the Obama administration has been trying to deal with al Qaeda.

PDF (6 Pages): 20140408 Kagan on Why US Has Not Defeated Al Qaeda

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Apr 9

Berto Jongman: 7 armed conflicts world failed to stop

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

7 armed conflicts the world failed to stop, proving we learned little from the Rwanda genocide

For 20 years, the world has been promising “never again.” It’s been an empty promise.

Timothy McGrath

Global Post, 8 April 2014

For those who lived through the genocide in Rwanda, the mass killings were an indescribable horror. For those who watched from afar, it was an international shame. The world stood idle as an estimated 800,000 men, women, and children were slaughtered in the course of 100 days in 1994. After, hanging its collective head, the world promised that “never again” would it allow such a horrifying conflict to unfold.

But even while making that promise, the world watched as people in Liberia and the Democratic Republic of Congo killed and displaced each other by the millions. Conflicts in Darfur and Syria would also later test the world’s “never again” resolve. The US invasion of Iraq and Mexico’s drug war created new armed conflicts that also failed to live up to the lofty promise.

“Never again,” it seems, was an empty promise. The world of international actors capable of preventing or intervening in such conflicts has over and over again avoided doing so, even when there was the political and public will to do so.

Here are just seven examples:

LIST ONLY:

1) Democratic Republic of Congo: First & Second Congo Wars, aftermath (1996 – present)

2) First and Second Liberian Civil Wars (1989-2003)

3) Eritrean – Ethiopian War (1998-2000)

4) Darfur conflict (2003 – present)

5) Iraq: US invasion, insurgency, civil war (2003 – present)

6) Mexican Drug War (2006 – present)

7) Syrian conflict (2011 – present)

Read full article with photos, death tolls, and descriptive text.

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Apr 9

Chris Hedge: The Crucible of Iraq – Best Book from Worst War

Chris Hedges

Chris Hedges

The Crucible of Iraq

The Corpse Exhibition: And Other Stories of Iraq, by Hassan Blasim, is the most important book to come out of the Iraq War. Blasim, whom I met with last week in Princeton, N.J., has a faultless eye for revealing detail, a ribald black humor and a psychological brilliance that makes every story in his book a depth charge. In this collection of short stories he explores through fiction the culture of violence unleashed under the bloody dictatorship of Saddam Hussein and exacerbated by an American occupation that has destroyed the damaged social cohesion and civil life that survived Saddam’s regime. His prose, courtesy of a brilliant translation by  Jonathan Wright, is lyrical, taut, and riveting.

Amazon Page

Amazon Page

Militarism and violence are diseases. It does not matter under what guise they appear. Renegade jihadists, Shiite death squads, Sunni militias, Saddam’s Baathists and secret police, Kurdish Peshmerga rebels, al-Qaida cells, gangs of kidnappers and the U.S. Army 101st Airborne are all infected with the same virus. And it is a virus Blasim fearlessly inspects. By the end of this short-story collection the reader grasps, in a way no soldier’s memoir or journalistic account from Iraq can explicate, the crucible of war and the unmitigated horror of violence itself. The book is a masterpiece.

“When I was 6, during my first year at school, the Iran-Iraq War erupted,” Blasim told me in a mixture of English and Arabic. “We were living in Kirkuk. We were taught in school to draw tanks or the face of Ayatollah Khomeini as the enemy. The city of Kirkuk was beautiful. There were flowers everywhere. But we were never taught the names of the flowers. Even today I do not know the names of these flowers. I tried to learn their names as an adult.”

“There was a culture of violence that predated the occupation,” he said…

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Apr 8

Berto Jongman: David Brin on World War IV — Russia-Syria-Iran-Iraq and Shi’ite vs. Sunni — Saudi Arabia as the Wild Card

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Is World War IV taking shape?

David Brin
davidbrin.blogspot.com

World economics seer Louis-Vincent Gave, of the Gavekal Partnership, has explained the pivotal meaning of the Crimea Incident in a larger context which he calls a looming “World War IV” —the conflict between the Shia and Sunni branches of Islam, in which Sunnis control larger reserves of oil, but Shia populations are restive in the very places where that oil is pumped. If a rising axis of Russia, Iran, Syria and Iraq takes hold – (the latter three Shia-ruled, currently) – then fear will tighten across the Sunni belt.

(* Clearly, in its decades of tension and expense and geopolitical importance, the Cold War was a tepid-simmering “World War III.”)

Tensions will drive arms sales and raise oil prices, which is the only condition under which Russia prospers.  U.S. efforts to sap the strength of that alliance make a major reason for the Obama Administration’s peace efforts with Iran… which Vladimir Putin will try to wreck.

It is also a good reason to ponder whether Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan — himself politically embattled — might do the one thing that would settle matters in Syria… sending in the Turkish Army.  Even with the excuse of humanitarian reasons, it would be risky. (The threat to Russia’s Tartus naval base would raise tensions to stratospheric levels, though.)

The real locus of what-if pondering must zero in on Saudi Arabia.  Are they sufficiently unnerved by the Russia-Iran-Iraq-Syria axis… and simmering problems with their own restive Shia populations… to decide upon a change in policy?  To back off from their blatant efforts to manipulate and poison American political processes, for example, and to instead meddle in more constructive ways?

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Mar 29

Berto Jongman: Malaysian Airlines — Soros, Israel, False Flag Blaming Iran — The Final Answer?

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Role Of Israel & Soros Exposed By MH370 Twin Jet In Tel Aviv

By Yoichi Shimatsu

Rense.com, 3-27-14

BANGKOK – It is by no mere coincidence, when telltale evidence of a Mossad role in the MH370 hijack was starting to snowball, that Israel’s embassies and consulates were suddenly shut down due to a “strike by diplomatic staff”. This fork-tongued alibi was obviously meant to prevent law enforcement agencies across Asia and the Western world from questioning Israeli intelligence agents and military attaches about the whereabouts and fate of the hundreds of passengers.

The Jewish state’s diplomatic corps has retreated further into a tortoise shell, perhaps because of the hammer blow from investigative journalist Christopher Bollyn, who previously exposed Israel’s hand behind the 911 attacks. Based on eyewitness reports from a network of plane watchers in Europe and in Israel, Bollyn reports that an identical production model of the Malaysian Airlines Boeing 777 is being kept out of regular service inside a hangar at Tel Aviv Airport.

Seattle-based Boeing assembles aircraft in pairs as its standard practice, but the question is how one jet was leased by Malaysia’s national carrier while the matching plane was secretly turned over to the Israeli government without a purchase order from state-run El Al airlines.

Bollyn uncovered the fact that the two jets were delivered to a third-party company, whose top manager has a longtime connection with the George Soros. From the timeline of events, it is obvious that the plane transfers and subsequent electronic hijacking were part of a larger strategy, which was aimed at:

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Mar 28

Marcus Aurelius: Bob Gates on Putin’s Challenge to the West — Insightful — and Dishonest by Omission

Marcus Aurelius

Marcus Aurelius

Putin’s Challenge to the West

Russia has thrown down a gauntlet that is not limited to Crimea or even Ukraine.

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Mar 28

Mother Jones: Laos Bombing – $17M a Day, 2.5 Million Tons of Bombs, True Cost Just Now Becoming Known…

mother jones masterWatch the US Drop 2.5 Million Tons of Bombs on Laos

Picturing the deadly legacy of America’s secret war in the world’s most bombed-out country

Watch short video.

Between 1964 and 1973, the United States dropped around 2.5 million tons of bombs on Laos. While the American public was focused on the war in neighboring Vietnam, the US military was waging a devastating covert campaign to cut off North Vietnamese supply lines through the small Southeast Asian country.

The nearly 600,000 bombing runs delivered a staggering amount of explosives: The equivalent of a planeload of bombs every eight minutes for nine years, or a ton of bombs for every person in the country—more than what American planes unloaded on Germany and Japan combined during World War II. Laos remains, per capita, the most heavily bombed country on earth.

The map above, created by photographer Jerry Redfern, provides another view of the massive scale of the bombing. Each point on the map corresponds to one US bombing mission starting in October 1965; multiple planes often flew on missions.

Click on Image to Enlarge

Click on Image to Enlarge

The unfinished aftermath of the air campaign is the subject of Redfern and Karen Coates’ new book, Eternal Harvest: The Legacy of American Bombs in Laos. This stunning book, seven years in the making, documents how the secret air war is still claiming lives more than four decades after it ended.

More than 100 Laotians fall victim to unexploded cluster bombs annually, delayed casualties of Operation Barrel Roll and Operation Steel Tiger, which dropped 270 million cluster bomblets. Packed by the dozens or hundreds in canisters, cluster bombs are designed to open in midair, scattering small explosives across a wide radius. Yet not all of them detonated, and today, 80 million live bomblets lurk under Laos’ soil.

Cleaning up the unexploded ordnance (UXO) has been agonizingly slow. In January, Congress approved $12 million for UXO clearance and related aid in Laos. In comparison, the bombing cost the United States spent $17 million a day in inflation-adjusted dollars.

Below, a selection of Redfern’s photographs from Eternal Harvest. Learn more about his and Coates’ work at their website.

See More Photographs.

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Mar 26

Berto Jongman: Greenwald on NSA & US Hypocrisy

Berto Jongman

Berto Jongman

Reader comments are also useful.

Some Facts About How NSA Stories Are Reported

Several members of the august “US Journalists Against Transparency” club are outraged by revelations in yesterday’s New York Times (jointly published by der Spiegel) that the NSA has been hacking the products of the Chinese tech company Huawei as well as Huawei itself at exactly the same time (and in exactly the same way) as the US Government has been claiming the Chinese government hacks. Echoing the script of national security state officials, these journalists argue that these revelations are unjustified, even treasonous, because this is the type of spying the NSA should be doing, and disclosure serves no public interest while harming American national security, etc. etc.

True to form, however, these beacons of courage refuse to malign the parties that actually made the choice to publish these revelations – namely, the reporters and editors of the New York Times – and instead use it to advance their relentless attack on Edward Snowden. To these journalists, there are few worse sins than “stealing” the secrets of the US government and leaking them to the press (just as was true in the WikiLeaks case, one must congratulate the US Government on its outstanding propaganda feat of getting its journalists to lead the war on those who bring transparency to the nation’s most powerful factions). But beyond the abject spectacle of anti-transparency journalists, these claims are often based on factually false assumptions about how these stories are reported, making it worthwhile once again to underscore some of the key facts governing this process:

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Mar 23