By Richard Jackson of Terrorism Blog. Watching the terrible events unfolding during and after the Paris terrorist attacks, I have a helpless sense of deja vu. It reminds me of the movie, Groundhog Day, only much more deadly and depressing. It feels like we have been here so many times before: the same anguished images, the same suffering, the same questions and sense of disbelief. Most depressingly, listening to the rhetoric coming from Western leaders, I can’t see any way we can avoid experiencing the same day again – whether in a few months or years time. As I explained in my book Writing the War on Terrorism (2005, Manchester University Press) about the language of counterterrorism, when the 11 September 2001 attacks occurred, President Bush said that they were “an act of war”. This was a key rhetorical move and it led the US to launch the global war on terrorism which has caused so much suffering, violence and counter-violence.
By Patrick L. Smith for Salon. What has just occurred in Paris is an affront to all of us. But to invoke universal values is to sustain the error of understanding, of recognition, of acknowledgement, that lies at the heart of all this incessant hatred, attack and counterattack. We—and hardly least the French and the Americans—have articulated such values well and often enough since the late 18th century. But there is little ground to claim that they have determined how we have acted in the Middle East and treated its people for roughly the same period of time. What has not followed is too familiar. No one, once again, asks the simple question, “Why?” This line of inquiry is so obvious, and so obviously of use in devising an effective response—know your enemy and his motivations, as any military strategist will tell you—that our avoidance of it amounts to a pathology at this point.
By Rory Fanning for the Guardian. On Tuesday, the United States should be celebrating its 95th Armistice Day, pausing as a nation to think about the terrible costs of war – including the loss of so many lives. Unfortunately, we replaced it with a very different holiday. On 1 June 1954, less than a year after America exited the Korean War in defeat, the US congress got rid of Armistice Day, which was established in 1919, and started Veterans Day. In place of what had been a celebration of peace, Congress instituted an annual veneration of those who fought in war. America would ever after celebrate not the beauty of peace, but its purveyors of state violence in World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, the Dominican Republic, Lebanon, Grenada, Kosovo, Somalia, Libya, Iraq, Afghanistan and more. Governments had meant to do the opposite in 1919: if you go back and read the newspapers of the time closely enough, you can almost hear the collective sigh of relief and jubilation on the first Armistice Day.
By Brian Willson for his website. *Known as “The Great War”, World War I ceased with an armistice effective on the eleventh hour of the eleventh day of the eleventh month. November 11, 1918, was initially regarded as the end of “the war to end all wars.” In 1926, Congress passed a resolution with the words: “the 11th of November 1918 marked the cessation of the most destructive, sanguinary, and far reaching war in human annals … and it is fitting that … this date should be commemorated with thanksgiving … designed to perpetuate peace …” A 1938 law made every November 11th a legal holiday to be … celebrated as “Armistice Day.” But sixteen years later, in 1954, following the Korean War, veterans service organizations pressured Congress to strike out the word “Armistice” and insert in its place the word “Veterans.” The wars continue. “Thank you for your service.” For more than the three decades that I have publicly acknowledged being a veteran, I continue to hear over and over this professed appreciation. Not long ago I was admitted to the Portland, VA hospital. Once completing medical intake the attending physician made a point to thank me for my service. I cringed. My service? The physician left my room before I could compose an honest response. Nothing I did while in my 3 years, 11 months and 17 days of military functioning could be even closely defined as service – not to the US people, not to the people of the world, and certainly not to myself. And the implicit, if not explicit message is a thank you to veterans for preserving “our freedom.”
By Thomas Gaist for WSWS. The Department of Defense (DOD) manual’s protocols for enforcing the law of war and establishing the legality of military orders fall into this category, bearing an eerie resemblance to the doctrine asserted by the main defendants at the Nuremberg Tribunal—that they were “just following orders.” In flat contradiction to the principles upheld at Nuremberg, subordinates are instructed to “presume” that commands are lawfully issued and are granted sweeping immunity from responsibility for war crimes committed under orders from the military brass. US military personnel are instructed and trained to regard orders emanating from the command unit as legal by default, the DOD manual states. The document states: “Subordinates, absent specific knowledge to the contrary, may presume orders to be lawful. The acts of a subordinate done in compliance with an unlawful order given by a superior are generally excused.” “Except in such instances of palpable illegality, which must be of rare occurrence, the inferior should presume that the order was lawful and authorized and obey it accordingly,” one footnote declares, citing Winthrop Military Law and Precedents in defense of this position.
By Jennifer Bendery for Huffington Post. An unusual coalition of House Democrats and Republicans on Friday urged Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) to schedule a war authorization debate in response to the news that President Barack Obama is deploying U.S. troops in Syria. “Among the issues that require urgent attention by the U.S. House of Representatives is the question of the extent of involvement by the U.S. military in the war against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria,” reads a letter to Ryan. “It is critical that the House schedule and debate an Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF) as quickly as possible.” The letter is signed by 35 lawmakers, some of whom are stalwart progressives and others who are members of the conservative Freedom Caucus. Reps. Jim McGovern (D-Mass.), Tom Cole (R-Okla.), Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), Peter Welch (D-Vt.) and John Lewis (D-Ga.) are leading the push on the issue. Obama announced last week that he’s sending about 50 U.S. special operations forces to Syriato help local forces fight Islamic State militants, or ISIS. The decision means that for the first time, American troops will be stationed in Syria after a year of U.S.-led airstrikes.
By David Swanson for War Is A Crime. The fact that war participation, which itself consists of committing murder in a manner sanctioned by authorities, increases criminal violence afterwards, in a setting where it is no longer sanctioned, ought of course to direct our attention to the problem of war, not the problem of which fraction of returning warriors to offer some modicum of reorientation into nonviolent life. But if you accept that war is necessary, and that most of the funding for it must go into profitable weaponry, then you’re going to want to both identify which troops to help and shift the blame to those troops. The fact that war participation, which itself consists of committing murder in a manner sanctioned by authorities, increases criminal violence afterwards, in a setting where it is no longer sanctioned, ought of course to direct our attention to the problem of war, not the problem of which fraction of returning warriors to offer some modicum of reorientation into nonviolent life. But if you accept that war is necessary, and that most of the funding for it must go into profitable weaponry, then you’re going to want to both identify which troops to help and shift the blame to those troops. The same reporter of the above linked articles also wrote one that documents what war participation does to suicide. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs says that out of 100,000 male veterans 32.1 commit suicide in a year, compared to 28.7 female veterans. But out of 100,000 male non-veterans, 20.9 commit suicide, compared to only 5.2 female non-veterans. And “for women ages 18 to 29, veterans kill themselves at nearly 12 times the rate of nonveterans.”
By Brian Willson for his website. Fifty years ago today, November 2, 2015, at about 5:20 p.m., a 31-year-old Quaker named Norman Morrison immolated himself 40 feet from the window of US Secretary of War Robert McNamara’s office at the Pentagon. During an incredible dinner conversation with an educated Vietnamese family in Can Tho City, I was stunned to discover that the Vietnamese deeply revered Norman for his “constructive” sacrifice. They sang for me, in English, “An Ode to Norman Morrison,” that included the words: “The flame which burned you will clear and lighten life and many new generations of people will find the horizon. Then a day will come when the American people will rise, one after another, for life”. I wept as I grasped the extraordinary meaning that Norman’s life and act had on an entire nation of people, even though unrecognized by his own country’s citizenry.
By Peter Bradshaw for The Guardian. We Are Many is a new documentary which is on the list for an Academy Award. Several showings are coming up. This film does a necessary job. It’s a piece of history that must grapple with both the success of the Stop the War march and its manifest failure: a staggeringly huge demonstration of public opinion that nevertheless did not stop the war. But Amir Amirani makes a bold case for understanding the march in a larger context: that over the next decade it re-energised people power, sowed the seed for Egypt’s Arab spring and laid the foundations for Labour’s sober, courageous refusal to countenance the attack on Syria. Meanwhile, we wait for the Chilcot report. A very valuable film.
By UN and Red Cross – The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, and the President of the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), Peter Maurer, have issued an unprecedented joint warning about the impact of today’s conflicts on civilians and appealed for urgent and concrete action to address human suffering and insecurity. The two leaders stressed the importance of respect for international humanitarian law in order to stem the chaos and prevent further instability. Some sixty million people around the world have been displaced from their homes because of conflict and violence – the highest figure since the Second World War. Conflicts have become more protracted, meaning that many displaced people face years away from their homes, communities and livelihoods. “In the face of blatant inhumanity, the world has responded with disturbing paralysis,” said the Secretary-General. “This flouts the very raison d’être of the United Nations. The world must reaffirm its humanity and uphold its commitments under international humanitarian law. Today we speak with one voice to urge all States to take immediate, concrete steps to ease the plight of civilians.”
By Buddy Bell for Portside – The U.S. has Beijing surrounded by 200 bases lining the East China Sea, it has already caused the beginning of an arms race. For the first time in many years, China is increasing its military budget at the same time the U.S. continues to spend more than China and the next 11 highest-spending countries. Not only is the U.S. depriving its own people of money that could be used to fund scientific research, healthcare, education, or to return to the people’s pockets; it is backing China into a corner where it feels it must do the same. Furthermore, the bases are situated in such a way that the U.S. would have the ability to block sea lanes, which is a hidden message to China that their highly export-driven economy could face the prospect of a serious pinch at a moment’s notice.
By CODEPINK and ANSWER. United States – While violence escalates in the West Bank, and Palestinians are being killed and injured by Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), American companies like Amazon have put on the market this costume sold by Dress Up America and Wholesale Halloween Costumes. Tell Amazon that occupation and violence isn’t a costume: Drop the Israeli soldier costume now! Since October 1, renewed violence has left 11 Israelis dead, while Israeli forces have killed at least 63 Palestinians and injured thousands of others. Many of those killed and injured have been children. The Israeli soldiers, long a symbol of fear, violence and repression against Palestinians, should not be used for entertainment purposes!
By Larry Hancock for WhoWhatWhy.org. Washington, DC – The underlying story of Benghazi is one that cannot and will not be talked about in any open session of Congress. This means that Thursday’s hearing featuring former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was nothing but an exercise in futility. It is the story of a covert CIA operation that was operating from a separate facility in the Benghazi compound that was simply known as the “Annex.” Some two dozen CIA case officers, analysts, translators and special staff were a part of this operation and its security was provided by CIA Global Response Staff (GRS), who had entered the country under diplomatic cover. The CIA’s mission included arms interdiction — attempting to stop the flow of Soviet-era weapons to Central Africa — and very possibly the organization of Libyan arms shipments to vetted insurgent groups on the ground in Syria.
By Sonali Kolhatkar in TruthDig. Drone wars are not conventional wars. As “The Drone Papers” and other journalistic investigations reveal, they are part of a program of targeted assassinations of individuals that President Obama personally authorizes for death by drone. The so-called “kill list” is supposed to include known terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, and some have been American and British citizens. If the drone wars are simply targeted assassinations, and if the U.S. posthumously designates most victims as enemies, then it is irrelevant how many people are intended for killing and how many are accidentally killed. Rather then differentiating between intended targets and unintended casualties, we ought to view every single person killed by drones as innocent, given that none of them has ever been tried in a court of law or been sentenced to death.