Category Archives: Military

Bye Bye AUMF?

After 9/11, in an incipient bit of cowardice and fear that still plagues our country decades later, Congress passed the Authorized Use of Military Force Against Terrorists Act (AUMF).  This was a bald faced dereliction of duty that passed easily because of a large faction of authoritarians and an even larger faction of cowards in Congress.  It basically gives the President carte blanch when going after anyone the President determines is a terrorist anywhere in the world.  Under the auspices of the AUMF, we have killed U.S. citizens, bombed sovereign states without a declaration of war, and killed untold numbers of innocent human beings.

At the time, there was one lone voice that spoke out against this abomination of legislation.  Her name was Representative Barbara Lee (D-CA).  She, and she alone, voted against it.  Well, today, she proposed an amendment to the 2018 Defense Appropriations bill that would rescind the 2001 AUMF and it was approved by the House Appropriations Committee.  Almost unanimously.  The lone holdout was Representative Kay Granger (R-TX).  This is still only a first step, being still in Committee, but it’s an important one.  Let’s hope the amendment stays in and gets passed by all of Congress.  It will put a very dark time behind us.

Bombing Syria Was NOT A Good Thing

My god, nothing gives Americans of all stripes more of a raging hardon than launching penis shaped objects at brown people.  The United States threw $82 million dollars at an airbase in Syria yesterday and there is lots of rejoicing from pretty much everywhere.  “Something” needed to be done, you see.  Assad killed kids with gas, you see.  Well, “something” was accomplished, I guess.  There are definitely holes in easily repairable runways now.  A bunch of hangars appear to have a layer of soot on them.  Possibly, some planes were destroyed.  Possibly, up to 16 civilians have been killed, including children.  Not that we should trust Syrian news agencies (or Trump’s word for that matter), but let that sink in.  The only reported casualties so far are civilian.  So, our grand retribution for Assad killing children might have entailed killing children.

Oh, and by the way, remember that last time Assad used gas to kill children?  Turns out that the evidence that he did so was shaky at best and the “evidence” that he did so were retracted.  This isn’t to say that he didn’t, mind you, because he’s certainly capable of it in both cases, it’s more to say that there is an almost zero percent chance that we can be assured that Assad was the culprit two days after the attack or that the air base we attacked was the genesis of the gassing.

“How can 59 Tomahawk missiles rain down on an active air base and kill no military personnel?”, you may ask.  Actually, you’re not asking that.  Why the fuck are you not asking that question?  Well, here’s the answer: We told Russia that we were going to bomb the air base and Russia, of course, told Syria, just like we expected them to.  “Why would we tell Russia?”, you may follow up.  You see, Russia is an ally of Syria and they have many troops embedded in all areas of the Syrian army.  If we bomb any Syrian facility, we need to be damned sure that there are no Russian citizens there because we are already on very shaky grounds both legally and morally, but if we happened to kill a Russian citizen, we will likely start a war.  So the best we can do is tell Assad what we are going to bomb, let him clear it out, and then bomb it.  This is the best case scenario.  Let’s go through some worse ones.

Tomahawk missiles are not precision instruments.  They’re more precision-ish.  We bombed an air base that we say contained sarin gas.  What if we had hit that storage and released the gas?  This, to me, means that we were damned sure there was no gas present at the base.  But, since we have to inform Russia, who then will inform Syria, what’s to prevent Assad from planting gas there for us to blow up?  What’s to prevent him from then saying that WE were using sarin gas in our attacks?  We are, after all, one of the few countries in the world to use weapons of mass destruction to further our goals.

As I said, we need to make damned sure we don’t kill any Russians in our attacks.  This requires informing Russia of whatever we’re going to bomb.  What’s to prevent Putin from strategically placing a few soldiers and guaranteeing Russian casualties?  The results would be catastrophic.

All this should lead anyone to the conclusion that our attack on Syria was the definition of pointless.  There is no way forward from this.  This was not a show of strength.  It was a show of helplessness to anyone that was actually paying attention.  But, boy, did we eat it up!

Everything You Wanted To Know About The Ukranian Crisis*

*But were afraid to ask…

Max Fisher over at Vox has a pretty good summary of what’s going on in Ukraine and who all the players are.  I’m in the “Putin’s dug a hole he can’t get himself out of” camp myself.  Things in Russia have been pretty crappy since the Great Recession and there’s nothing like a little nationalism and a bit of war to distract the people from their problems.  Putin’s approval ratings are through the roof since Russia “annexed” the Crimean Peninsula.  It’s kind of creepy how easily world leaders can use unabashed nationalism to get citizens to completely ignore facts and fall in line with what the leaders want to accomplish. *cough* Iraq War *cough*

We Could have Housed 32,000 People But Instead We Built A Destroyer

I really need to learn more about Dwight D. Eisenhower.  By all accounts, he was a remarkable man. Army General.  Supreme Allied Commander.  President of the United States.

Somehow, though, his words and warnings are lost on the present batch of politicians at a time when they should be most listened to.  For example:

Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. … We pay for a single fighter plane with a half-million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.

Beautiful in its simplicity.  That’s from Eisenhower’s “Chance for Peace” speech.  The numbers in the title of this post are the adjusted for 2013 numbers.  It is amazing what this country could do for the advancement of freedom if we just sacrificed a modicum of our security.

6,500 A Year

These are the wages of war.  No, that’s not the number of soldiers killed in battle.  That is 293 for 2012.  No, that’s not civilian deaths.  That’s around 50 for 2012.  Though the U.S. has conveniently classified pretty much every male death as non-civilian.  That 6,500 number is the number of suicide attempts every year by U.S. veterans.  18 a day.

We have failed our soldiers so completely.  Words fail.  When words fail, I swear.  Fuck you, George W. Bush for the unnecessary wars you got us into.  Fuck you, Dick Cheney for your endless cheerleading into war.  Fuck you, Donald Rumsfeld and your whole flock of chicken hawks that pushed the wars.  Fuck you, all you congressmen who voted for war.  Fuck you, Barack Obama for not ending the wars sooner.  And a final fuck you to every single politician who has sat idly by for years without doing anything to address the suicide attempts that are occurring every 90 seconds.

Yes, wars are sometimes necessary, but there is a subset of U.S. culture that thinks war is one of the first choices instead of the last choice.  And those people are in power.  And we put them there.  So fuck all of us, too.

Urge to Kill…Rising

It’s time to play everyone’s favorite game, “What’s pissing me off now?”  It’s the game in which I tell you what’s pissing me off now.  Hours of fun for the entire family!

I am years too late to this tragedy, but it’s worth bringing it to your attention since it was brought to mine.  The book that I’m reading, “Reamde” by Neal Stephenson, had a sentence in it mentioning the killing of American soldiers by electrocution when taking a shower.  I had never heard of such a thing and it stuck with me so to the Interwebs I went.

It turns out that faulty equipment has caused the deaths of eighteen soldiers.  Eighteen!  Who do we have to thank for this completely unnecessary tragedy?  Why, KBR of course!  Don’t remember KBR?  They are a Halliburton spin-off company that is the largest support contractor in Iraq.  You remember Halliburton, right?  That company that was run by vice president Dick Cheney?  It is really amazing that all roads of governmental evil seem to lead back to that man.

And as if KBR killing eighteen soldiers wasn’t enough, they’re also trying to weasel out of paying compensation to the families.  Even in horrible tragedies, you expect a certain amount of deniability from a company even if they are obviously to blame for the tragedy.  KBR, though, takes it to an entirely new level of evil, though.  They are trying to claim that Iraq law should be used to determine the outcome because the killing happened in an Iraqi government building.  Even though the building was under U.S. control at the time.  Why?  Because Iraq law doesn’t allow for punitive damages.  Yes, that’s right, they want to make sure that they pay the grieving families as little as possible for their mistake.

It gets better.  What does our government do to a company whose negligence resulted in the death of eighteen of our soldiers?  Why, give them an $83 million bonus, of course!

Let’s sum up, shall we?  Dick Cheney starts an unnecessary war.  Dick Cheney’s company gets more contractor work than any other company for said unnecessary war.  Dick Cheney’s company does really crappy work and this results in the electrocution deaths of eighteen of our soldiers.  Dick Cheney’s company denies responsibility but is found guilty of negligent homicide.  Dick Cheney’s company tries to have Iraqi law applied to verdict to keep payments to families to a minimum.  Dick Cheney’s company is awarded $83 million in bonuses for said shoddy work that killed people.

Yes, it might be a stretch to call KBR Dick Cheney’s company.  But it is certain that he is a shareholder and the people who run it are his friends and that he has profited massively from the war that he created.

And that’s “What’s pissing me off now?”  Thank you for playing.