US orders airstrikes against Syria if our pathetic 50 person “army” threatened

Addicted to War

The Pentagon has labored mightily to train Syrians to fight Assad. The result is a bizarre little 50 person contingent, which just had its leader kidnapped by al-Nusra. Rather than admit the obvious, which is the U.S. hasn’t a clue what is happening in Syria and attempts to intervene invariably backfire, Obama is now huffing and puffing, saying any Syria attempts to threaten this wee little ragtag army will be met by airstrikes.

This would be comical except Pentagon attempts to intervene make things worse for the U.S. because, wait for it, the locals don’t like being bombed. The “plan” here, if it can even be called a plan, is clearly to oust Assad. Then U.S. conquerors will be greeted with sprinkled rose petals in their paths when they enter Damascus to liberate it. Oh wait, isn’t that exactly what the neocons said would happen in Baghdad too? It didn’t turn out quite that way, did it?

We as a country are Addicted To War. That’s why we have so many of them. And why they generally don’t turn out well. Addicts have terrible judgement. They do it because they must. Our war machine profits mightily from this, the rest of the country and the world, not so much.

It goes without saying that covert US efforts to aid the multifarious groups vying for control of the country have met with disastrous consequences so far, but if there’s anything Washington is particularly adept at, it’s making bad foreign policy outcomes worse, which is why we weren’t at all surprised to learn that the commander of the Pentagon’s new Syrian “force” was captured, along with his deputy, by al-Qaeda affiliate al-Nusra last week near the border with Turkey.

This makes the Keystone Cops look like grizzled professionals.

Robotics and AI are taking over, not necessarily a good thing

Killer robot
What could possibly go wrong with autonomous killer robots?

Robots do many useful things. However, they are replacing jobs once held by carbon-based lifeforms. This may be one reason the employment rate isn’t recovering. The standard argument here is those displaced people will find new jobs created by new technology. However, jobs making robots just aren’t going to be that plentiful.

This trend emerged during the most recent recession (February 2008 – February 2010) and isn’t stopping any time soon. According to data from the Associated Press on the labor market during the recession, industries that pay middle class wages lost 7.5 million jobs. Despite the economic recovery, only 3.5 million jobs have reappeared. This begs the question, where did 4 million jobs disappear to after the recession ended? AI seem to be one of the primary culprits, since the time period when the jobs went missing corresponds to increased levels of AI use by businesses.

Autonomous robotic killing machines are a really bad idea. Elon Musk, Stephen Hawking, and other say they should be banned. “Newsflash, Sep. 1, 2030. The Pentagon apologized to the residents of a small town in Iraq after a supposedly fail-safe RobotWarror deployment malfunctioned, identifying an orphanage as a terrorist encampment and destroyed it.” And won’t it be fun when drug cartels get such weapons too?

The signatories argued that the deployment of robots capable of killing while untethered to human operators is “feasible within years, not decades.” If development is not cut off, it is only a matter of time before the weapons end up in the hands of terrorists and warlords, they said.

Islamic State continues gains. Obama Administration clueless


The Obama Administration is willfully and deliberately ignorant about the situation in Iraq and Syria, desperately trying to convince itself and the public that IS hasn’t seized large amounts of territory and weapons. Yet IS has, and the response from DC has been more of the same, bomb them, just bomb them, hoping this time will somehow be different and tactics that have repeatedly failed will somehow prove victorious.

The only way any of this makes sense is to assume the US has an out-of-control war machine whose gaping maw must be fed, regardless of consequence. And liberals, please stop babbling about how this is somehow the fault of Dubya Bush. The truth is both parties own it.

Americans blame Obama and Bush equally for Iraq

The new survey shows that Americans blame his military policy about as much as they blame the Iraqi army (40 percent to 38 percent) for the problems, and a new CNN/ORC poll finds that Americans blame Obama (44 percent) about as much as George W. Bush (43 percent) for Iraq’s problems.

Water as a weapon. Both the US and Iraqi said retaking Ramdi would be simple enough yet, as usual, the propaganda falls way short of the reality.

Islamic State has shut down all the gates of a dam in the recently-seized Iraqi city of Ramadi causing widespread concerns of an impending humanitarian crisis.

Anbar provincial council chief Sabah Karhout told AFP that the IS move lowered the level of the Euphrates River and cut water supplies to government-held areas of Khaldiyah and Habbaniyah to the east.

Gosh, the more weaponry we lose there, the more we must send. I’m guessing profits for defense contractors are soaring.

Dude, where’s my Humvee? Iraq losing equipment to Islamic State at staggering rate

Iraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles when Islamic State overran the northern city of Mosul in June 2014, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday in an interview with Iraqiya state television. Coupled with previous losses of American weapons, the conclusion is simple: The United States is effectively supplying Islamic State with tools of war the militant group cannot otherwise hope to acquire from its patrons.

Maybe ISIS isn’t as religious as we think.

ISIS forces controlling Ramadi are ex-Baathist Saddam loyalists

ISIS’s roots in Saddam Hussein’s Baath Party are deep — many of the group’s most devoted commanders, advisers and fighters started out as Baathists. The ex-Baathists essentially run ISIS, and their past is evident in the tactics they are using now.

Obama delusional, says US not losing to ISIS

Control of terrain in Syria. May 22, 2015
In the fantasy land of D.C. spin and optics, two major cities falling to ISIS as they march towards Baghdad and control 50% of Syria, is not losing but merely a “tactical setback.” These wee little speed bumps, the talking heads of DC assure us, will be overcome by more training of militias and course, shipping in more weaponry and ammo. Some of the weaponry will fall into the hands of ISIS when the Iraqi military and militias retreat yet again. This will please the diseased twisted hearts of defense contractors in the US, as they’ll just have to ship in more weapons, won’t they? As for training militias to fight ISIS when the armies of those countries are apparently incapable of or unwilling to fight, well, training takes months and assumes the militias are loyal to the US.

And by the way, why is this our fight? The truly worrying thing here is the steady groundswell from D.C. from both parties saying that doggone it, the US may have to send it more ground troops. Because that worked so well the first time, didn’t it?

In reality, McCain said on CNN’s “New Day,” “the President’s strategy is certainly not succeeding — it’s an abject failure,” one that will eventually bring Americans around to the prospect of deploying boots on the ground in Iraq.

I just heard a Democratic member of the House imply the same thing on CNN, saying it’s very very sad, but US troops on the ground may be needed again. The difference between Democrats and Republicans on endless war is it ostensibly makes Democrats very sad to have to do it.

Obama is living in a reality-free zone, where spin is assumed to be the same as facts.

“No, I don’t think we’re losing,” Obama said in an interview with The Atlantic’s Jeffrey Goldberg. “There’s no doubt there was a tactical setback.”

“And one lesson that I think is important to draw from what happened is that if the Iraqis themselves are not willing or capable to arrive at the political accommodations necessary to govern, if they are not willing to fight for the security of their country, we cannot do that for them.”

Well, if we can’t do it for them, let’s leave and let them sort it out.

US alarmed Iran supports allies in Yemen just like US does


The Hill has a marvelously deceptive Newspeak article about the conflict in Yemen, chock-a-block with thinly disguised Pentagon propaganda pretending to be news. The US, you see, is Deeply Concerned about Iran sending warships to Yemen to supply and protect their allies, the Houthi rebels, and worse, isn’t even pretending hiding their actions. Unnamed sources in the Ministry of Propaganda are actually using the word “brazen” to describe Iran’s actions, somehow forgetting the US is supporting and arming Saudi Arabia in bombing Yemen (something which is apparently not brazen, since we are doing it.)

It gets even sillier. You will be happy to know the US is engaging in “consensual” boarding of ships in the area, to search them for possible Bad Stuff (none has been found so far). Keen observers of propaganda have probably already deduced “consensual” means “Let us search your ship or we attack you.”

U.S. officials say they are unsure why Iran is making the brazen move. One theory they have floated is that the Saudi-led coalition has effectively blockaded any air routes into Yemen and there are no other ways to resupply the Houthis.

Here’s is what the US and Saudis are probably actually afraid of, as well they should be.

Yet another theory is that Iran wants to force a confrontation with Saudi Arabia that it believes it will win, because Iran views the Saudi military as weak and suspects the U.S. lacks the willpower to support its Gulf ally.

Tell me again why a proxy war between Saudi Arabia and Iran in Yemen is any of our concern, or what we could possibly hope to gain from it, especially since we are negotiating with Iran on the nuclear deal.

So there you have it. Only our foes are brazen, we consensually board ships to search them, and support thugs because they are making the world safe for democracy. Orwell would understand this language perfectly.

The proximate cause [of bombing Yemen], it would seem, is the interruption of what US Ambassador to the UN Samantha Power called the “peaceful, inclusive, and consensus-driven political transition under the leadership of the legitimate President of Yemen, Abdo Rabbo Mansour Hadi.” One problem with this formulation is that Hadi’s “legitimacy” derives from his being installed as president by an international diplomatic coup, followed by his election in a race in which he was the sole candidate. Essentially, there is no legitimate government of Yemen and has not been for decades at least. The present war of aggression by outside powers intervening in a multifaceted civil war relies for its justification on fiction.