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President Trump hasn’t decided whether to sign off on his generals’ request for more troops for Afghanistan. Ironically, this would be one instance in which Trump — and the country — would benefit from repudiating President Barack Obama’s example. Instead of yet another troop surge in America’s longest war, now heading toward its 16thbirthday, Trump should adopt the advice that then-Sen. George Aiken (R-Vt.) offered about Vietnam in 1966: “Declare victory and get out.”

General John W. Nicholson testified that he wants an additional 5,000 soldiers to break the “stalemate” in Afghanistan. In the first months of his presidency, Obama signed off on a surge that ended with 100,000 U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan. His generals also promised to break the stalemate. Today, the Taliban controls more of the country than it has since 2001. A surge of 5,000 or even 10,000 troops won’t defeat the Taliban. It is simply a recipe for more war without end and without victory.

Why are we still there? We went into Afghanistan after 9/11 to get Osama bin Laden and to punish the Taliban for harboring al-Qaeda. Now bin Laden is dead; al-Qaeda is dispersed; the Taliban has been battered. Afghan civilians have been killed, wounded or displaced in increasing numbers. The United Nations reports that there were more than 11,000 war-related civilian casualties last year, and 660,000 Afghans were displaced, adding to the country’s massive refugee crisis.

The war has now cost us over $1 trillion, making it the second-costliest U.S. war, after World War II. In fiscal year 2017, the war will cost about $50 billion, nearly a billion every week. We’ve lost over 2,350 soldiers, with 20,000 more suffering injuries. And as Trevor Timm of the Guardian noted, in a couple of years, there will be soldiers fighting in Afghanistan that weren’t even born at the time of 9/11.

We’re no longer fighting to defeat an enemy; we’re engaged in “nation-building.” Good luck with that. Afghanistan is a landlocked country, with a brutal combination of severe mountains and harsh deserts. It remains one of the poorest nations in the world, despite more than $117 billion in U.S. development appropriations since 2002. Its leading industry is illegal opium production, producing an estimate 70 to 80 percent of the world’s supply. Despite the aid and the opium profits, Afghanistan is still near the bottom of multiple categories in the United Nations’ Human Development Index, ranging from infant mortality to life expectancy, per capita income and more.

The United States is pouring money into a corrupt sewer. The World Justice Project’s 2016 Rule of Law Index ranked Afghanistan 111 of 113 countries assessed. Despite U.S. arms, aid and training, its divided and demoralized security forces can’t stand up to the Taliban.

We are asking our military to build a nation on the other side of the world, dispatching soldiers who don’t know the language, the culture, the religion, the ethnic and sectarian divisions or the history. The one thing that may unify Afghanistan’s tribes is their pride in their independence. Afghanistan is known as the “graveyard of empires.” Its people routed the British forces repeatedly from 1839 to 1919 when Britain ruled the world. Its mujahideen defeated the Soviet Union’s invasion in the 1980s. The United States, with the most powerful military in the world, may avoid defeat for as long as it wants to waste lives and resources, but it will not win.

The military has no strategy for victory, merely a plan to avoid defeat. After 15 years, no president wants to accept defeat. Yet a feature of Trump’s campaign was his scorn for the United States wasting $6 trillion in Middle Eastern wars we “don’t win.” He ought to read his 2013 tweet: “We should leave Afghanistan immediately. No more wasted lives. If we have to go back in, we go in hard & quick. Rebuild the US first.”

Obama let the generals — and his arrogant national security advisers — convince him that a surge of troops could deliver victory in what he considered the “good war.” After eight years, he was more sober and far wiser: “Afghanistan was one of the poorest countries in the world with the lowest literacy rates in the world before we got there,” he said last year, “It continues to be.” The country “was riven with all kinds of ethnic and tribal divisions before we got there. It’s still there.”

When the military dropped the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan last month, Trump boasted , “We have the greatest military in the world,” and said, “We have given them total authorization, and that’s what they’re doing.” But there is no reason to accept the military’s advice on Afghanistan, given its record in the Middle East. As Andrew Bacevich has detailed, its invasion of Iraq has been the greatest debacle since Vietnam, leading to a continued quagmire and eventually to creation of the Islamic State. Its “humanitarian intervention” in Libya produced a failed state, scarred by violence, that provides a new breeding ground for the Islamic State. The intervention in Syria has succeeded only in contributing to the humanitarian catastrophe there.

Trump should fulfill his campaign rhetoric and pull the plug. Praise the troops and bring them home. Use the money and lives saved to rebuild America. Redirect a tiny fraction of the United States’ bloated military costs fighting in Afghanistan to mitigating the refugee crisis and addressing that country’s needs. This is one policy area where deciding not to follow in Obama’s footsteps would actually help Trump’s flagging popularity.

Katrina vanden Heuvel is an American editor and publisher. She is the editor, publisher, and part-owner of the magazine The Nation. She has been the magazine’s editor since 1995. © 2017 Washington Post

Pentagon Rushing Anti-Drone Equipment to Syria for Fight

US forces involved in the Kurdish YPG’s invasion of Raqqa are finding themselves facing resistance not just from ISIS ground troops, as expected with this being the ISIS capital city, but also ISIS drones, which reportedly have been attacking US special forces.

ISIS drones are mostly just off-the-shelf commercial drones modified to drop or otherwise deliver explosives. The drones are apparently particularly inconvenient for US special forces trying to direct US airstrikes against targets within Raqqa, because they are in more visible, and easily-targeted, areas.

The Pentagon is responding by rushing more anti-drone weapons into Raqqa. The US apparently sent a considerable amount of such gear with the troops that are participating in the invasion of the city of Mosul, but didn’t expect to face drones in the fight over Raqqa.

Officials say there have been no casualties among US troops involved in the Raqqa invasion as a result of the drones, but that they have prevented a few US airstrikes because the spotters were forced to flee. Given the large civilian toll in US airstrikes in Raqqa, this might’ve ultimately saved some of the city’s civilians.

The Pentagon has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions over the past decade according to a new report.

The Pentagon has deployed drones to spy over U.S. territory for non-military missions over the past decade, but the flights have been rare and lawful, according to a new report.

The report by a Pentagon inspector general, made public under a Freedom of Information Act request, said spy drones on non-military missions have occurred fewer than 20 times between 2006 and 2015 and always in compliance with existing law.

The report, which did not provide details on any of the domestic spying missions,  said the Pentagon takes the issue of military drones used on American soil “very seriously.”

The Pentagon has publicly posted at least a partial list of the drone missions that have flown in non-military airspace over the United States and explains the use of the aircraft. The site lists nine missions flown between 2011 and 2016, largely to assist with search and rescue, floods, fires or National Guard exercises.

A senior policy analyst for the ACLU, Jay Stanley, said it is good news no legal violations were found, yet the technology is so advanced that it’s possible laws may require revision.

us-drones“Sometimes, new technology changes so rapidly that existing law no longer fits what people think is appropriate,” Stanley said. “It’s important to remember that the American people do find this to be a very, very sensitive topic.”

Other federal agencies own and operate drones. The use of unmanned aerial surveillance (UAS) drones over the USA surfaced in 2013 when then-FBI director Robert Mueller testified before Congress that the bureau employed spy drones to aid investigations but in a “very, very minimal way, very seldom.”

The inspector general analysis was completed March 20, 2015, but not released publicly until last Friday.

It said that with advancements in drone technology along with widespread military use overseas, the Pentagon established interim guidance in 2006 governing when and whether the unmanned aircraft could be used domestically. The interim policy allowed spy drones to be used for homeland defense purposes in the U.S. and to assist civil authorities.

But the policy said that any use of military drones for civil authorities had to be approved by the Secretary of Defense or someone delegated by the secretary. The report found that defense secretaries have never delegated that responsibility.

The report quoted a military law review article that said “the appetite to use them (spy drones) in the domestic environment to collect airborne imagery continues to grow, as does Congressional and media interest in their deployment.”

Military units that operate drones told the inspector general they would like more opportunities to fly them on domestic missions if for no other reason than to give pilots more experience to improve their skills, the report said. “Multiple units told us that as forces using the UAS capabilities continue to draw down overseas, opportunities for UAS realistic training and use have decreased,” the report said.

A request for all cases between 2006 and 2015 in which civil authorities asked the military for use of spy drones produced a list of “less than twenty events,”  the report said. The list included requests granted and denied.

The list was not made public in the report. But a few examples were cited, including one case in which an unnamed mayor asked the Marine Corps to use a drone to find potholes in the mayor’s city. The Marines denied the request because obtaining the defense secretary’s “approval to conduct a UAS mission of this type did not make operational sense.”

Shortly before the inspector general report was completed a year ago, the Pentagon issued a new policy governing the use of spy drones. It requires the defense secretary to approve all domestic spy drone operations. It says that unless permitted by law and approved by the secretary, drones “may not conduct surveillance on U.S. persons.” It also bans the use of armed drones over the United States for anything other than training and testing.

, USA TODAY

The US wasted millions planning an elaborate cyberattack on Iran but it was spoiled by amerikkkas pimp isreahell.

US Military installations around Iran
US Military installations around Iran

In the early days of President Obama’s administration, thousands of American military and intelligence officers worked to develop a plan that could feasibly take down critical infrastructure in Iran, according to a new documentary called Zero Days, which premieres tomorrow. The plan was codenamed Nitro Zeus, and if it had ever been deployed, it would have taken down parts of Iran’s civilian infrastructure, including its power grid, phone lines, and air defenses. The plan cost tens of millions of dollars to design and involved the placement of electronic implants in Iranian computer networks, in case it were ever decided to be implemented.

The New York Times and BuzzFeed News independently investigated the documentary’s claims. The reports claim Nitro Zeus was created as a contingency plan if the US / Iran nuclear negotiations never came to fruition; the US worried Israel would attack Iran’s nuclear arsenal and drag the US into a conflict. The plan was intended to render a conventional conflict unnecessary, or at least minimize it.

American officials are worried that 50,000 Russian troops being massed near the Ukraine border and within Crimea, the pro-Russian peninsula recently annexed by President Vladimir Putin, aren’t there for just a training exercise

Despite Russian reassurances that Moscow’s troop buildup along Ukraine’s eastern frontier is for a military exercise, its growing scale is making U.S. officials nervous about its ultimate aim.

President Barack Obama on Friday urged Russia to stop “intimidating” Ukraine and to pull its troops back to “de-escalate the situation.” He told CBS that the troop buildup may “be an effort to intimidate Ukraine, or it may be that [Russia has] additional plans.”

Pentagon officials say they believe there could be close to 50,000 Russian troops bordering the former Soviet republic and inside Crimea, recently seized and annexed by Moscow. That estimate is double earlier assessments, and means Russian President Vladimir Putin could order a lighting strike into Ukrainian territory with the forces already in place. The higher troop count was first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

“We continue to see the Russian military reinforce units on their side of the border with Ukraine to the south and to the east of Ukraine,” Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon spokesman, said Thursday. “They continue to reinforce and it continues to be unclear exactly what the intent there is.”

Revolution in Ukraine 2014. Kiev Protesters Killed as Ukraine Crisis Escalates
Revolution in Ukraine 2014. Kiev Protesters Killed as Ukraine Crisis Escalates

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf played down the notion that there are as many as 100,000 Russian troops now bordering Ukraine, as Olexander Motsyk, the Ukrainian ambassador to the U.S., said Thursday on Capitol Hill. “I hadn’t actually seen the hundred-thousand number,”

Harf said. “There are huge numbers of Russian troops on the Ukrainian border. … We are concerned about Russia taking further escalatory steps with whatever number of tens of thousands of troops they have there, and have called on them not to do so.”

Washington got those assurances that the Russian troop buildup was only an exercise from Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu a week ago. But no one in the U.S. government knows if Putin agrees — or if the Russian leader has changed his mind as the West has debated what level of economic and political sanctions might be imposed if Moscow takes an additional chunk of Ukraine beyond Crimea. “They made it clear that their intent was to do exercises and not to cross the border,” Kirby said. “Our expectation is they’re going to live up to that word.”

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf

There is no plan to involve the U.S. military in what is happening in Ukraine, even if Russia takes more territory. Ukraine borders Russia, and Ukraine does not belong to NATO, where an attack on one member is deemed to be an attack on all.

“Should the Russians continue to move aggressively in that region and in the Ukraine, what does that mean—and NATO would have to respond, for example—what would that mean for the United States Army?” Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio, asked the Army’s top officer Thursday.

How many of the 67,000 U.S. troops in Europe might be involved? “I simply don’t know,” Odierno said. “And I would just remind people that, actually, some of the soldiers that are assigned to Europe actually right now are in Afghanistan.”

“My responsibility is to make sure that the U.S. Army is prepared to respond as part of a joint force, as part of NATO,” General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, responded. “So what I’m focused on is improving our readiness in combat, combat service support and combat aviation capabilities to make sure we’re ready to respond whether it’s from a humanitarian assistance aspect or any other aspect.”

From Moscow to Siberia to Bulgaria, Russian war monuments have faced a rough year.

As a result of all this, two important things happened. First, Ukraine became a country in a meaningful way. In the 23 years since it became independent from the USSR, Ukraine could not decide whether it was going to become a law-abiding, European nation of shopkeepers like its Western neighbor (and some-time ruler), Poland – or take its place alongside Belarus and Kazakhstan in a revived Russian Empire of kleptocratic dictatorships.

Lawmakers suggested that the world is abandoning Ukraine. “It appears to me Ukraine was left defenseless over the last two decades,” said Rep. Marcy Kaptur, D-Ohio.

Vladimir Putin settled that question once and for all. Without the Russian-speaking population of Crimea, Donetsk and Lugansk, there will never again be a pro-Moscow government in Kiev. At the end of October strongly pro-European parties swept to power in the Rada, Ukraine’s parliament. At the same time the European Union and Nato found – for the time being at least – the mettle to agree on sanctions in Russia and economic and logistical support for Ukraine.

The war for the East continues. The economy teeters. The ultra-nationalists may not have done well in recent elections but they are armed and organized into self-governing “patriotic battalions” fighting independently of the government’s command. A recipe for disaster of Yugoslav proportions, perhaps. And yet most Ukrainians remain surprisingly hopeful. “We found out who we are. And who are aren’t,” says Ruslana Khazipova, a young singer with the band Dakh Daughters. “We are free. And we aren’t Russia’s bitch any more.”

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