Posts tagged US Military

The original piece is worth a read.

Bullet-point summary (content exclusively by Jonathan Naughton, the Guardian):

  • Once upon a time, aerial warfare consisted of guys climbing into aircraft and flying bombing missions over enemy territory. Now many, if not most, of the lethal missions mounted by the USAF are carried out by unmanned drones flying high over Afghanistan and Pakistan and piloted by uniformed guys sitting in computerised consoles in New Mexico.
  • More interestingly, it turns out that the stress levels for these pilots are unexpectedly high. A Pentagon study has found, for example, that 29% of them suffer from “burnout”. A co-author of the study says that the air force tries to recruit people who are emotionally well-adjusted, “family people” with “good values”. But “when they have to kill someone, or where they are involved in missions and then they either kill them or watch them killed, it does cause them to rethink aspects of their life”.
  • So maybe Heidegger was wrong [when he argues ‘that technology is, in essence, a way of organising the world so that one doesn’t have to experience it’].
  • But there is one new form of warfare where Heidegger’s insight might turn out to be more relevant. It’s called cyberwarfare. The ability to destroy a country’s infrastructure – to bring down its electricity grid or disrupt water supplies by hacking into the computers that run these systems – offers a nation the prospect of waging war without incurring either physical or psychological risks for the aggressor’s citizens: casualty-free war, if you like…

Content analysis:

  1. As many in the comments section have pointed out, Naughton admits he didn’t really ‘get’ this hardcore philosophic work (nor has he the training to analyse), so continuing, prior to a re-read or clarification report, WAS A MASSIVE ERROR.
  2. The subhead and end commentary suggests that drones produce ‘casualty-free’ wars. You don’t need to be a Mr. Chomsky or Mr. Foucault to realise that NO WAR IS CASUALTY-FREE. Even if one side is casualty free - HISTORY MATTERS. If  infrastructure, stability, resources, systems, etc. are (remotely) destroyed, there will be fallout and likely redistributive violence (general reference: Charlie Wilson’s War, ie: Cold War and post-Cold War US ‘intervention’ in Afghanistan).
  3. The Western-centric idea of reducing casualty and psychological effects of war is just, well, lies. There is no war that will be free of adverse effects. The idea of reducing the adverse effects for the West completely negates the existence, the humanity, of the Rest (see Judith Bulter or Hannah Arendt on the concept of ‘the other’)
  4. HOW IS DISRUPTING THE ELECTRICITY GRID/WATER GRID CASUALTY-FREE?!

Guardian writers… stop having a laugh on Sundays. Academics are bored and don’t want to work.

well, when I am finished with
[the Guardian], you won’t be able to get a
contract for a prepaid mobile phone!
I will tear you down, brick by
perfidious brick!

'Torvald Utne', UN representative, Archer (2009).

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Part 1 of 2: Breaking down thepoliticalnotebook’s ‘This Week In War’

She just does such a great service for all of us on tumblr.

Some of the links are difficult to click through because the content shakes us, disturbs us, and we’re left unsettled. In my opinion there were at least 3 posts (1 post not part of my series) from her weekly round up that warrant a further breakdown for anyone to disturbed to click through or looking for the ‘meat and veg’ of it.

Part 1:from thepoliticalnotebook

IAVA released its annual survey of members this Monday. Veterans listed as their top concerns in this order: employment, mental health, disability benefits, health care, education, suicide and families.

Here are some of the findings from the report I think are essential to break down:

  • "17 percent said they were unemployed when they took the survey in January, a higher rate than was documented by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which put the veterans’ unemployment rate for January at 9 percent." (Source: NY Times; all quotes below from same source) ...I’ve said this time and time again, the US Bureau of Labor Statistics might as well pull their numbers out of hat. Also, 9% are disabled and unable to work.
  • 'More than one in three respondents, 37 percent, said they knew someone who had committed suicide, down slightly from last year’s result. Asked if the person who committed suicide was serving or had separated from the military, respondents were almost evenly divided: 30 percent said the person had separated when the act occurred; 27 percent said the person was serving but not deployed; 25 percent said the person was serving and deployed. Another 11 percent said the person was in the National Guard and not deployed.'
  • 'Two-thirds said they think troops and veterans are not getting the mental health care they need.'
  • 'Asked about their relationships, nearly 80 percent said they were married or in a long-term relationship during a deployment. Nearly two-thirds said the deployment strained their relationships, and 6 in 10 said readjustment was difficult.'
  • Nearly 9 in 10 of those surveyed were men
  • 6 in 10 were Army veterans
  • More than 8 in 10 had served in Iraq.
  • Almost half, 45 percent, were 36 years or older.
  • Nine in 10 said they were registered to vote.
  • When asked, ‘The President listens enough to service members
    and Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.’ (Source: IAVA), 23% Agree or Strongly Agree; 16% No Opinion, and 61% Disagree or Strongly Disagree
  • When asked, ‘Congress listens enough to service members and
    Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.’ (ibid), 13% Agree or Strongly Agree; 13% No Opinion, and 75% Disagree or Strongly Disagree
  • When asked, ‘Corporate America supports service members and
    Iraq and Afghanistan veterans.’ (ibid), 32% Agree or Strongly Agree; 22% No Opinion, and 46% Disagree or Strongly Disagree (the most variant across the 5 questions asked on public opinion)

These are just some pieces I pulled from the article and corresponding report (available for download at the IAVA link above) that I found interesting/alarming/disturbing.

Thoughts?

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After going through thepoliticalnotebook's Friday links, (especially the one on the US solider(s)’ 17 March killing of Afghan civilians from the first Western journalist to cover the story on the ground) I was left remembering the patches that went around tumblr a few weeks ago. Here were a few others I found while surfing.
…apparently these patches originate with Benjamin Franklin’s 1751 symbolism during the independence of the United States from Great Britain.
Tell me why/if/how these patches affect you?

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“If it is used selectively,” it can help both the U.S. and Pakistan by taking out “key leadership” of al-Qaeda and other groups such as Tehrik-i-Taliban of Pakistan, which poses a greater threat to Pakistan than it does to the U.S., said Jones, a former representative of the U.S. Special Operations Command at the Pentagon.

Pakistan has told the White House it no longer will permit U.S. drones to use its airspace to attack militants and collect intelligence on al-Qaeda and other groups, according to officials involved in the talks.” from Bloomberg.

…the problem is, they AREN’T and HAVEN’T BEEN used selectively, and this is why there is controversy.

now THIS is diplomacy.
newsflick:

Iran promises to return US drone - as a pink toy

It may not have been quite what Barack Obama meant when he called on Iran to return a US drone that crashed in the Islamic Republic.
Rather than giving back the multi-million dollar piece of spyware, which has been gleefully paraded for the world’s cameras, an Iranian toy maker has promised to send the White House a pink plastic toy replica of the downed drone.
The Ayeh Art group has been doing a brisk trade in models of the RQ-170, producing around 2,000 a day, and in an inspired moment of self-publicity has promised to reserve one for President Obama.
“He said he wanted it back, and we will send him one,” said Reza Kioumars, the company’s head of cultural production. (source)

This did make me giggle a little.

now THIS is diplomacy.

newsflick:

Iran promises to return US drone - as a pink toy

It may not have been quite what Barack Obama meant when he called on Iran to return a US drone that crashed in the Islamic Republic.

Rather than giving back the multi-million dollar piece of spyware, which has been gleefully paraded for the world’s cameras, an Iranian toy maker has promised to send the White House a pink plastic toy replica of the downed drone.

The Ayeh Art group has been doing a brisk trade in models of the RQ-170, producing around 2,000 a day, and in an inspired moment of self-publicity has promised to reserve one for President Obama.

“He said he wanted it back, and we will send him one,” said Reza Kioumars, the company’s head of cultural production. (source)

This did make me giggle a little.

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Our sky is our sky, not the U.S.A.’s sky.
A month after the last American troops left Iraq, the State Department is operating a small fleet of surveillance drones here to help protect the United States Embassy and consulates, as well as American personnel. Some senior Iraqi officials, including the acting minister of interior, Adnan al-Asadi, expressed outrage at the program, saying the unarmed aircraft are an affront to Iraqi sovereignty. (More at NYT)

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He said the family regarded him as having been “executed” without having committed any crime. “We now wish to be left alone and grieve for our son.”

Two young British men have been killed in US drone strikes against suspected militants in Pakistan's tribal belt, according to reports from the country. The pair, both Muslims from London, are reported to have been killed in separate drone strikes two weeks apart in South Waziristan.

Text and Source: the Guardian

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Of course, nobody inside the U.S. Government is objecting on the ground that it is wrong to blow people up without having any knowledge of who they are and without any evidence they have done anything wrong. Rather, the internal dissent is grounded in the concern that these drone attacks undermine U.S. objectives by increasing anti-American sentiment in the region (there’s that primitive, inscrutable Muslim culture rearing its head again: they strangely seem to get very angry when foreign governments send sky robots over their countries and blow up their neighbors, teenagers and children). But whatever else is true, huge numbers of Americans — Democrats and Republicans alike — defend Obama’s massive escalation of drone attacks on the ground that he’s killing Terrorists even though they — and, according to the Wall Street Journal, Obama himself — usually don’t even know whose lives they’re snuffing out. Remember, though: we have to kill The Muslim Terrorists because they have no regard for human life.

Glenn Greenwald, “The Drone Mentality” (via andrewfm)

HA! that right there is why i wouldn’t vote for him again.

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Seriously… the US military needs a massive check on their authority. Imagine if the tables were turned, and some Afghani General’s troops captured your community, insisting you were terrorist fighters… what would you do?

Furthermore… I’m pretty sure you’d spend a lot of your time despising what the Afghani military put you, your family, your friends, and your community through…

WHY IS THIS MILITARY STRATEGY STILL ACCEPTABLE!?!?! HOW IS THIS STILL UNCHECKED!?!?!?! This is massively fucking up an already terrible situation for the US as a whole. 

During his intensive initial round of media interviews as commander in Afghanistan in August 2010, Gen. David Petraeus released figures to the news media that claimed spectacular success for raids by Special Operations Forces: in a 90-day period from May through July, SOF units had captured 1,355 rank and file Taliban, killed another 1,031, and killed or captured 365 middle or high-ranking Taliban.

The claims of huge numbers of Taliban captured and killed continued through the rest of 2010. In December, Petraeus’s command said a total of 4,100 Taliban rank and file had been captured in the previous six months and 2,000 had been killed.

Those figures were critical to creating a new media narrative hailing the success of SOF operations as reversing what had been a losing U.S. strategy in Afghanistan.

But it turns out that more than 80 percent of those called captured Taliban fighters were released within days of having been picked up, because they were found to have been innocent civilians, according to official U.S. military data.

Even more were later released from the main U.S. detention facility at Bagram airbase called the Detention Facility in Parwan after having their files reviewed by a panel of military officers.

The timing of Petraeus’s claim of Taliban fighters captured or killed, moreover, indicates that he knew that four out of five of those he was claiming as “captured Taliban rank and file” were not Taliban fighters at all.

Read More

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