Obama’s Wars* (A Growing Collection of News Clippings)

Obama openly, unreservedly and without a trace of irony or self-reflection adopts the Bush Doctrine… even Obama’s rationale matches George W. Bush’s.

Charles Krauthammer (2010)
(Concerning Bush, see the section on 9-11 under “GOP Support of Terrorism“.)

Iraq

There’s not much of a difference between my position on Iraq and George Bush’s position at this stage.

-Barack Obama (via LA Times)

The combat mission in Iraq ended in August 2010, at which point troop levels were brought down to 50,000. In October 2011, over a year later, there were still about 45,000 troops left in Iraq. Furthermore, these supposedly non-combat troops would engage in combat missions and were described as having a “combat capacity” by administration officials, including former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, in which they engage in “targeted counterterrorism operations” and work and fight alongside Iraqi security forces. In light of this, “support” seems to be nothing more than a euphemism for extended combat.

Countdown to Drawdown
linking to NY Times, Reuters, & CBS News

A unit of U.S. Army Special Operations soldiers was recently deployed to Iraq and more U.S. soldiers may soon be on their way…

New York Times {9/24/12}
via New American

Iran

President Obama has essentially followed President Bush’s policy towards Iran.

Nicholas Burns
(Foreign Service officer and the Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs during the George W. Bush administration)

Afghanistan

In September 2012, it was widely reported that Obama’s “troop surge” in Afghanistan was over, leaving 68,000 troops in the country. But when President Obama took office, there were only roughly 34,000 US troops in Afghanistan. In two “surges”, Obama added to this figure over 66,000 additional troops. By reducing the US troop presence by 33,000, his drawdown plan has removed only half the number of troops that he sent to Afghanistan, not all.

…the Strategic Partnership Agreement, which was struck between the United States and Afghanistan in June 2012, provides for a US military presence after 2014…

…the Pentagon is trying to strike a deal with the Afghan government to leave 25,000 US troops in Afghanistan until at least 2024.

…there were only 34,000 troops there when Obama took office. If 25,000 troops are kept in Afghanistan after 2014, that means that the net withdrawal would be a mere 9,000 troops. Furthermore, before 2008, troop levels were at roughly 25,000 or less. So leaving 25,000 troops in Afghanistan would be to merely return to 2007 troop levels.

Countdown to Drawdown,
linking to NY Times & Whitehouse.gov
(Also cf. Common Dreams.)

Pakistan

In addition to killing and maiming, the presence of drones exacts a high toll on civilian life in northwest Pakistan…

Following nine months of intensive research—including two investigations in Pakistan, more than 130 interviews with victims, witnesses, and experts, and review of thousands of pages of documentation and media reporting—this report presents evidence of the damaging and counterproductive effects of current US drone strike policies. Based on extensive interviews with Pakistanis living in the regions directly affected, as well as humanitarian and medical workers, this report provides new and firsthand testimony about the negative impacts US policies are having on the civilians living under drones…

…there is significant evidence that US drone strikes have injured and killed civilians.

“Living Under Drones”, Stanford/NYU

Somalia

In June 2011, the US began carrying out drone strikes in Somalia. JSOC has its own fleet of armed Reaper drones, which are flown from various bases in the region.

The CIA also operates a secret base at Mogadishu airport, according to a detailed investigation by Jeremy Scahill at The Nation.

The Bureau of Investigative Journalism

The Philippines

The expansion of U.S.’ drone war has the potential to further enflame a volatile conflict involving the southern Muslim areas and Manila, which has killed around 120,000 people over the past four decades… his controversy could increase with the recent American announcement that it plans to boost its drone fleet in the Philippines by 30 per cent. The U.S. already has hundreds of troops stationed on Jolo Island

Brookings

Yemen

A US cruise missile armed with cluster ammunition was used in an attack in Yemen in December which resulted in the deaths of 52 people, more than half of them women and children, according to a human rights watchdog.

Independent

Libya

President Obama has taken the formal step of notifying Congress that he has deployed troops “equipped for combat” to Libya… to defend U.S. citizens and property, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution.

ABC News

Turkey, Syria, & Jordan

The U.S. will send two batteries of Patriot missiles and 400 troops to Turkey as part of a NATO force meant to protect Turkish territory from potential Syrian missile attack, the Pentagon said Friday.

The Florida Times Union
(Cf. also NY Times)

The first American military forces have “put boots on the ground” in Turkey to man Patriot missile batteries along the border with war-wracked Syria, defense officials told NBC News on Friday.

NBC World News {1/4/13}

Mexico

…the Obama administration has begun sending drones deep into Mexican territory

Before the outbreak of drug violence in Mexico that has left more than 34,000 dead in the past four years, such an agreement would have been all but unthinkable, they said.

“It wasn’t that long ago when there was no way the D.E.A. could conduct the kinds of activities they are doing now,” said Mike Vigil, a retired chief of international operations for the Drug Enforcement Administration. “And the only way they’re going to be able to keep doing them is by allowing Mexico to have plausible deniability.”

In addition to wariness by Mr. Calderón’s government about how the American intervention might be perceived at home, the Mexican Constitution prohibits foreign military and law enforcement agents from operating in Mexico except under extremely limited conditions, Mexican officials said, so the legal foundation for such activity may be shaky. In the United States, lawmakers have expressed doubts that Mexico, whose security agencies are rife with corruption, is a reliable partner.

NY Times (emphasis mine)
That violence is advanced by weapons Obama’s Dept. of ATF planted (cf. “Obama’s Support of Terrorism”).

Bahamas & Elsewhere in the Caribbean

After quietly testing Predator drones over the Bahamas for more than 18 months, the Department of Homeland Security plans to expand the unmanned surveillance flights into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico to fight drug smuggling, according to U.S. officials.

The move would dramatically increase U.S. drone flights in the Western Hemisphere, more than doubling the number of square miles now covered by the department’s fleet of nine surveillance drones, which are used primarily on the northern and southwestern U.S. borders.

…a new control station will arrive this month in Corpus Christi, Texas, allowing Predators based there to cover more of the Gulf of Mexico.

“We need help fighting this battle along the Caribbean border to protect U.S. citizens there being buffeted by violence,” Puerto Rico’s Gov. Luis Fortuno told a congressional panel this week.

…Customs and Border Protection has requested $5.8 million to push its drone operations farther into the Caribbean and the Gulf of Mexico.

…The Predator B is best known as the drone used by the CIA to find and kill Al Qaeda terrorists in Pakistan and Yemen.

…For the recent counter-narcotics flights over the Bahamas, border agents deployed a maritime variant of the Predator B called a Guardian with a SeaVue radar system that can scan large sections of open ocean.

Guatemala & Honduras

“A team of 200 U.S. Marines began patrolling Guatemala’s western coast this week in an unprecedented operation… This is the first Marine deployment that directly supports countering transnational crime in this area, and it’s certainly the largest footprint we’ve had in that area in quite some time,” said Marine Staff Sgt. Earnest Barnes at the U.S. Southern Command in Miami.”

A similar US mission is being carried out by commando-style DEA agents and hundreds of US soldiers in neighboring Honduras. In that case, it has brought about several incidents of killings of Hondurans by American forces and a massive uptick in support and training for a corrupt league of Honduran security forces with a long list of human rights abuses.

Associated Press

Despite the pleas of Honduran civilians:

As Honduran scholars from diverse fields of study, men and women of science and art, with the solidarity of other Latin American scholars and scholars of Latin America from countries around the world, including of course the U.S.A., we call upon you to immediately suspend all military and police aid to Honduras until such time as those public institutions, plagued with corruption, have been cleaned up. We urge you to respect our sovereignty and declare our wish to submit to an open referendum the question of whether or not to permit the ongoing presence of U.S. military bases—one of which was used in the perpetration of the June 2009 coup d’état, a turning point in the worsening of so many of our troubles. And we demand that you respect the national and regional processes for confronting our current institutional breakdown. Let’s not kid ourselves. The current disaster in Honduras has an immediate explanation and roots in history, but it is most directly the result of your politics of “pragmatism” following the coup.

Letter to President Barack Obama
and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton
(from an impressive list of Honduran signatories)

Uganda

Since at least 1997 the abhorrent Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) has murdered at least 2,400, kidnapped at least 3,400, and displaced at least 300,000… [and the United States did not intervene, until…]

Earlier this year, at least 2.5 billion barrels of crude oil were discovered along Uganda’s border… [and then…]

…President Obama announced that, without consulting congress, he has authorized the deployment of some 100 “combat-equipped U.S. forces” to the country in order to fight and hopefully kill or capture the vicious militant who has an international warrant for crimes against humanity.

Death and Taxes Magazine
(Also cf. The Boston Globe)

Poland (Russia)

…president Barack Obama’s Defense Department will bring new missiles even closer than JFK’s Turkey base. The U.S. will set up new Raytheon (RTN) SM-3 missile defense systems in Poland, roughly 50 miles from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad. A Russian spokesperson at the Foreign Ministry said his government was not pleased to hear about the U.S. military decision for a permanent missile defense base so close to home. Kaliningrad is a unique piece of Russian real estate. It is not connected to mainland Russia. Neverthless, the Russians consider it part of the Federation and at least the Foreign Ministry is acting surprised by the missile base deal signed between Poland and the U.S..

The SM-3s system will be located at the Redzikowo military base in Poland, close to the Baltic Sea and Lithuania.

“Regarding the U.S. plans to deploy missile defenses elements and air force units in Poland, we are certainly concerned and agitated,” Alexander Lukashevich told reporters on Thursday.

…The real focus of the missile base is Iran, not Russia. Polish Foreign Minister Radoslaw Sikorski said last year that the missile defense program was aimed at deterring threats from Iran.

Forbes

Australia (China)

The move to send 250 Marines to bases here for six-month tours starting next summer, eventually rotating 2,500 troops through the country, is the first step toward the administration’s larger goal of repositioning the United States as a leader on economics and security in the fast-developing Asia-Pacific region.

Washington Post

All Over Africa

A U.S. Army brigade will begin sending small teams into as many as 35 African nations early next year, part of an intensifying Pentagon effort to train countries to battle extremists and give the United States a ready and trained force to dispatch to Africa if crises requiring the U.S. military emerge…

Already the U.S. military has plans for nearly 100 different exercises, training programs and other activities across the widely diverse continent. But the new program faces significant cultural and language challenges..

The Pentagon’s effort in Africa, including the creation of U.S. Africa Command in 2007, has been carefully calibrated, largely due to broad misgivings across the continent that it could spawn American bases or create the perception of an undue U.S. military influence there.

Politico (Cf. also Wired)

All Over the Asia Pacific Region

On November 30, 2012 Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter gave a speech at the Von der Heyden Fellows Program Endowment Fund Lecture Series at Duke University, Durham, N.C.

During his speech he made reference to the unprecedented U.S. military buildup [of 70,000 troops] in the Asia Pacific region.

Defence.gov via Examiner

All Over The World

Special Operations forces have grown both in number and budget, and are deployed in 75 countries…

-Full story by Washington  Post
(Also see Jeremy Scahill’s piece over at The Nation.)

So what of Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize?

Nobel Peace Prize officials were facing a formal inquiry over accusations they have drifted away from the prize’s original selection criteria by choosing such winners as President Barack Obama, as the nomination deadline for the 2012 awards closed Wednesday.

…If the Stockholm County Administrative Board, which supervises foundations in Sweden’s capital, finds that prize founder Alfred Nobel’s will is not being honored, it has the authority to suspend award decisions going back three years

…The secretive prize committee doesn’t discuss nominations…

…For example, in 2007 the prize went to climate activist Al Gore and the U.N.’s panel on climate change, and in 2009 the committee cited Obama for “extraordinary efforts” to boost international diplomacy.

Do you see Obama as a promoter of abolishing the military as a tool of international affairs?” Heffermehl asked rhetorically.

Associated Press (via Yahoo News)

*I use “war” loosely.

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