Thursday, April 13, 2017

Killer of All Nations

When--as announced with great fanfare today-- the US dropped a bomb on Afghanistan with the largest destructive yield of any non-nuclear device ever used by any nation, it followed aspects of several depressing patterns.

First, as has been traditional since even before the days of Nazi Germany, a western nation test dropped its latest bomb on a third world target.  It's likely that the audience intended for this blast included leadership in North Korea and China, Syria and Russia.  Russia, which has been testing its latest weapons in Syria, seems to me likely to counter with some use of one of their own enormous new devices.

The attack was announced the same day as a report surfaced of White House plans to attack North Korea if it tests another nuclear device.  No knowledgeable observer doubts that the North Koreans would retaliate, with massive loss of life in South Korea and beyond.  As one of Lawrence O'Donnell's guest experts said, things that should never be discussed are being discussed.  Partly because both North Korea and the US have unhinged leaders.

 Second, part of the admitted purpose of dropping it was to scare the shit out of the enemy and the surrounding populace--shades of Shock and Awe in Iraq.  And other direct connections to Vietnam.  None of those sickening precedents turned out well.

Homemade Hitler is making a show of giving the military free reign--which has the handy byproduct of encouraging them to like him.  All the better to use them for his apprentice dictatorship.

But a current result has been more civilian deaths and butcheries caused by American weapons, as reported today as well in Syria.  Homemade Hitler campaigning on killing the families of suspected terrorists, and his view of who potential terrorists might be, judging from his immigration policies, is pretty wide.

A few paragraphs from the New York Times report today, with emphasis added:

American commanders in Iraq and Syria have been given more authority to call in strikes, a loosening of the reins that began in the last month of the Obama administration. But some national security experts said that Mr. Trump and the Pentagon risked inflaming anti-American sentiment in the Muslim world with their approach to fighting the Islamic State.

The number of civilian casualties reported in American-led strikes in Iraq and Syria has increased since Mr. Trump took office, and March was the deadliest month for civilians ever recorded by Airwars, a group that tracks bombings. Reports of civilian casualties in Iraq and Syria jumped to 3,471 from 1,782 the month before, the group said.

“Trump has ceded responsibilities to his military commanders, and it appears he’s paying little attention to operational details,” said Derek Chollet, who was the assistant secretary of defense for international affairs in the Obama administration.

Jon B. Alterman, director of the Middle East Program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, said the Pentagon was being given leeway to carry out strategy without being told what, exactly, the overarching strategy is. “What they haven’t been given is a lot of strategic guidance to work with,” he said. “They can affect things, but without a guiding strategy, it’s hard to be sure you’re having the desired effect.”

But the increased casualties in Syria “cannot be explained away simply by the increased tempo of the war,” said Chris Woods, director of Airwars.

He noted that the number of airstrikes and targets hit actually fell slightly in March, but said his group’s research indicated that civilian deaths had risen sixfold in Syria, with more than 350 killed last month alone.

“This indicates to us a possible loosening of U.S. battlefield rules,” he said, “which is placing civilians at greater risk of harm.”

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