Much Ado About MOAB

“U.S. forces in Afghanistan on Thursday struck an Islamic State tunnel complex in eastern Afghanistan with “the mother of all bombs,” the largest non-nuclear weapon ever used in combat by the U.S. military, Pentagon officials said.” — The Associated Press

“The Pentagon said U.S. military forces dropped the largest non-nuclear bomb in Afghanistan on Thursday.” — CNBC

Continue reading “Much Ado About MOAB”

Once More Into the Breach?

EDGARTOWN, Mass — A senior White House official said on Wednesday that the United States would consider using American ground troops to assist Iraqis in rescuing Yazidi refugees if recommended by military advisers assessing the situation.

That is the opening paragraph of the top story on the New York Times’ website right now. President Obama’s recent authorization of air strikes in Iraq on rebel positions was greeted with a shrug, but it was also accompanied by a promise that there would be no return to ground combat. This makes sense. We’ve been bombing Iraq off and on for over twenty years. Outkast’s B.O.B (Bombs Over Baghdad) was recorded one year before the 9/11 attacks. Four, FOUR!, consecutive U.S. presidents have ordered air strikes in Iraq. Three of those four have presided over ground actions. If it weren’t for Afghanistan and a couple of other hotspots, bombing Iraq would be about all that’s keeping the heavy munitions industry afloat. Bombing Iraq has become normal, just something we do. Continue reading “Once More Into the Breach?”

The Iraq War

Ten years ago today the American military began its invasion of Iraq. Ten years on the war still incenses. Politics today is in the grip of hyper-partisanship. The GOP is blatantly obstructionist, the Democrats flailing as they try to play small ball with legislation and the economy. The rancor in Washington and in the media is poisonous. Our leaders are growing increasingly cloistered in that world of theirs, and seem either blissfully unaware of the damage they’re doing to the country, or, worse, unconcerned. It’s a disheartening time. But, I would rather see a broken government than the one that so efficiently led us into war in Iraq. Continue reading “The Iraq War”

The Iraq War Is Over

This past weekend, the last American troops crossed the border from Iraq into Kuwait. It has been almost nine years since the invasion of Iraq commenced in March of 2003, much of it passing through the same spot on the border the troops crossed on their way home. The costs of the war have been measured and reported, to the point they have become abstractions. 4,800 American and coalition dead, somewhere around 30,000 belligerents dead, over 100,000 civilians dead, and over $800 billion drained from the national coffers. It was a war of choice begun on false pretenses. We toppled a toothless dictator at enormous cost to ourselves in the form of lives, treasure, moral standing, and freedoms at home. We destabilized a region of the world hardly known for its rigidity, and emboldened Iran, one of our more consistent enemies. Continue reading “The Iraq War Is Over”

Bring ‘Em Home, Then Cut Their Budget

The United States of America had a higher expenditure in defense spending in 2010, $687.1 billion, than it had in 1988, when military outlays reached $531.6 billion (both numbers in constant 2009 USD. Figures obtained via The SIPRI Military Expenditure Database.). This means that the United States is spending more of its treasure in combatting stateless terrorist organizations consisting of no more than a few thousand extremists, and that pose zero existential threat, than it spent at the end of the 1980s staring down the Soviets in the Cold War, a state of undeclared animosity that threatened not only the existence of the United States, but the continued survival of civilization itself. Continue reading “Bring ‘Em Home, Then Cut Their Budget”

Into the Darkness

Osama bin Laden is dead, killed by U.S. Special Forces. The country is jubilant. President Obama, in his address announcing the killing, entered the operation into the lore of triumphalism that has been a part of the American ethos for its entire history. It was our can-do spirit, our ceaseless pursuit of greatness, that guaranteed success. It was a great moment in American history. Continue reading “Into the Darkness”

Here We Go Again

The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.

— Senator Barack Obama, 2007

The United States is now engaged in a third war, in the country of Libya. What has been hastily sold to the American public as only enforcement of a no-fly zone in fact incorporates a pounding of Libyan ground forces in support of rebel forces. As described in a previous post on Missile Test, targets within Libya have also included command and control facilities in Tripoli and elsewhere, along with an attempt to kill Muammer el-Qaddafi by destroying his compound. This is regime change, but the public statements from the White House regarding the mission have done nothing to this point but foster confusion about our aims, goals, and who is actually leading this multinational effort. Continue reading “Here We Go Again”

Slow Your Roll, Washington

As the situation in Libya continues to show more and more signs of becoming a protracted civil war, there are politicians in Washington, from both Congress and within the Obama administration, who are calling for an American military intervention of some sort, whether it be imposing a no-fly zone over the disputed areas, or putting boots on the ground for humanitarian purposes. Continue reading “Slow Your Roll, Washington”

So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?

Richard Engel was there as the 4th Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division (the 4/2 from here on out), poured through the border from Iraq into Kuwait last week. He’d been in and out of Iraq since before the invasion in 2003, and it was fitting that such a public face of the reporting of the war be present as the last combat troops left their theater of operations. The war made his career, and deservedly so. Engel was doing his best to add the proper amount of gravity to what the viewer was seeing on the screen, with ample backup from anchors and retired generals back in the MSNBC studios. The moment of those troops leaving should have been a profound one, but was, per usual, overplayed by the talking heads in the studio. Even Engel was not immune, there on the ground, bearing witness to what could not have been anything less than a true anchor point in his life. He was improvising on the fly, flailing in his attempts to convey to the viewer that what was playing out on screen did indeed have import. But really, it didn’t mean a damn thing. It, like everything else of real consequence in current events, got between the media machine’s efforts to make all stories equally sensational, and a public immune to the gesticulations of an apoplectic, even epileptic, tactic. Continue reading “So the Iraq War Is Over, Right?”