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Category Archives: Middle East & North Africa

Libya and Somalia raids — more rendition, more wars in Africa


U.S. Navy SEAL fires an MK11 sniper rifle from an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter, assigned to Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 9 and deployed with the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) during a training flight in the Arabian Sea. (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)

U.S. Navy SEAL fires MK11 sniper rifle from an MH-60S Knighthawk helicopter during a training flight in the Arabian Sea. (Photo Credit: U.S. Navy)

The twin U.S. raids in Libya and Somalia occurred almost a month ago but they’re still worth discussing, especially in light of the movie “Captain Phillips”, which stars Tom Hanks and is based on the 2009 hijacking of an American ship by Somali pirates in the Indian Ocean. The movie was released October 11. Also, I haven’t been able to lay out my thoughts on the raids until now. Overall, they signify a continuation of rendition and the expansion of U.S. militarism into Africa.

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Obama’s speech on drones and Gitmo is a repackaging of permanent war


MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission.  (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

MQ-9 Reaper flies above Creech AFB during a local training mission. (Photo by Paul Ridgeway; attained from Wikipedia)

Recently, President Barack Obama gave a speech about his counterterrorism strategy at National Defense University. In it, he justified his targeted killing policy and drone strikes of suspected terrorists around the world. He also announced his plan to finally shut down Guantanamo Bay prison.

The speech is lauded by many as a signal that President Obama wants to end the War on Terror. But the speech was full of clever sophistry and Orwellian doublespeak that made it seem like the perpetual war was ending just as it’s being institutionalized and normalized. In essence, it was a repackaging of America’s targeted killing program and system of permanent war. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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The Iraq war was not a mistake — it was a crime


U.S. Marine tank in Baghdad, April 14, 2003. Photo source: Wikipedia

U.S. Marine tank in Baghdad, April 14, 2003.
Photo source: Wikipedia

As American combat troops left Iraq in December 2011, at that point, the war was largely forgotten by the American public. What remains in public memory are retrospectives of the war, especially on its ten-year anniversary. The dominant narrative is that the Iraq war was a mistake because of the lies or “faulty intelligence” that were used to justify it, costs to the United States, and the strategic folly of invading the country in the first place. However, the war was more than a mistake — it was a crime. Portraying the war as a mistake does three pernicious things: downplay the gravity of the crime, does not question the premises of militarism and permanent war, and perpetuates the myth of American benevolence. Cumulatively, these retrospectives amount to a gross revision of history. Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Secret “white paper” justifies assassinating American citizens — entrenching permanent war


Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

Predator drone fires a Hellfire missile (Source: Wikipedia)

On Monday, NBC News reported on a leaked Department of Justice “white paper” summarizing memos that make the Obama administration’s legal case for targeted killing of U.S. citizens suspected of links to al-Qaeda or “associated forces”. In September of 2011, the Obama administration launched a drone strike against alleged al-Qaeda leaders Anwar al-Awlaki and Samir Khan in Yemen, both of whom were U.S. citizens. Neither was charged or convicted of any crime. In fact, Yemen experts raised doubts about how operational al-Awlaki was in al-Qaeda.

Two weeks later, al-Awlaki’s 16-year-old son, Abdulrahman al-Awlaki, was killed in another drone strike, even though he was not charged or convicted of any crime. It is very likely that he wasn’t the intended target. In fact, one Obama administration official called the strike that killed Abdulrahman “an outrageous mistake…. They were going after the guy sitting next to him.” Read the rest of this entry »

 

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It’s a new year and Obama’s civil liberties violations continue


Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

Camp X-Ray (Gitmo) detainees, 1/11/2002, Source: Wikipedia

A few days before the new year rang in, I made three predictions for Turnstyle News about what’s in store for the year 2013. The first was a “drawdown but not a complete end to the war in Afghanistan”, the second was “continuation of drone strikes and targeted killing”, and the third was “indefinite detention of U.S. citizens will remain”. It’s a few days into 2013 but a few recent events show that the dismal state of peace and civil liberties will not cease any time soon.  Read the rest of this entry »

 

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Obama’s first-term record of militarism


Photo Credit (source): No Lies Radio

The long and drawn out 2012 presidential election is finally over and President Barack Obama was reelected. Shortly after he was reelected, Obama launched another drone strike in Yemen — a harbinger of what’s to come in his second term. It is worth going through Obama’s foreign policy during the past four years in order to assess what he’s done and understand what the future holds.

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U.S. Drone Strikes: Secrecy and Suffering Highlighted in Reports by Stanford, Columbia


I wrote a piece in Turnstyle News about the Stanford/NYU and Columbia reports on the U.S. drone program. Please note that this was written before the November 6, 2012 presidential election.

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In Afghanistan, photographer says “In the background you can see a Predator drone”. Photo Credit: Todd Huffman, posted on his Flickr & Wikimedia Commons: http://www.flickr.com/photos/99287245@N00/3841195871

The expansion of drone strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia, is rarely discussed in mainstream forums, but breaking this silence are two important reports from reputable universities that shed light on the underreported human suffering and dangerous implications of the drone program.

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