Micah Zenko - Foreign Policy
"The United States is in a state of perpetual war, spending $633 billion this year on defense, with over 200,000 US servicemembers deployed around the world."
During his second inaugural address on 21 January 2013, President Obama offered two aspirational statements that struck many observers as incongruous with administration policies: "A decade of war is now ending" and "We, the people, still believe that enduring security and lasting peace do not require perpetual war."
We should question these observations, not least because of the string of US government plans and activities that increasingly blur the conventional definition of war.
My own list of war-like activities since Obama's inaugural would include:
the announcement that the US military would provide intelligence, transportation, and refueling support for the French intervention in Mali;
Owen Jones - The Independent [UK]
"The hawks were wrong on every count. Wrong about the weapons; wrong about being greeted with flowers; wrong about the human cost; wrong about Iraq becoming a flourishing democracy."
Almost exactly a decade ago, on a bitingly cold February day, we marched in our hundreds of thousands to stop a catastrophe.
The historic demonstration against the Iraq war was more of a shuffle than a march: the streets were too crammed to walk very fast. The coach to London was packed full of car workers. Lollipop ladies, firefighters, supermarket shelf stackers, lecturers, shopkeepers marched: there was a euphoria that people power brings.
When we left for our pick-up points, placards scattering the street, chants still echoing in the evening air, we thought we had won. How could the greatest mass of demonstrators to have ever swarmed through Britain’s streets be tossed aside?
It is a memory now punctured with bitterness. Yes, we helped trigger one of the greatest parliamentary rebellions in history as 139 Labour MPs defied the Whip, but the largely united Tories came to Tony Blair’s rescue.
When I visit schools, students who were six, seven or eight years old when we marched ask how they can change anything if up to two million demonstrators couldn’t. And forget the expenses scandal: it was Iraq that exploded what trust millions had in our political establishment.
But the real anguish lies elsewhere. The consequences of the Iraq obscenity were far worse than those of us who yelled “Not In Our Name” imagined. Years of blood and chaos followed. There can be no sense of triumphalism or vindication.
Excellent footage here in this Democracy Now report from the Senate Intelligence Committee hearing of John Brennan and the interruptions by Codepink activists including ex Col. Ann Wright (approx min. 16) who will visit Ireland next week. John Brennan was interrupted several times by Codepink activists who all got ejected from the hearing and were arrested.
Code Pink Protesters holding ‘Stop CIA Murder’ began yelling during the opening of Brennan’s hearing. “Your drone policies are resulting in the deaths of children,” one protester shouted.
Eoin Burke Kennedy - The Irish Times
Ireland was one of 54 countries which helped facilitate the CIA's secret detention, rendition and interrogation programme in the years after the 9/11 attacks, according a new report.
The report by the Open Society Justice Initiative, a human rights advocacy group, said foreign governments aided the US’s counterterrorism offensive in various ways including by hosting CIA prisons on their territories; detaining, interrogating, torturing, and abusing individuals; assisting in the capture and transport of detainees; permitting the use of domestic airspace and airports for secret flights transporting detainees.
Its Globalising Torture report identified 136 people who had been held or transferred illegally by the CIA, the largest list compiled to date.
It also provided new information about the handling of both al-Qaeda suspects and innocent people caught up in the counterterrorism programme.
The report said Ireland permitted the use of its airspace and airports for flights associated with CIA extraordinary rendition operations.
Its evidence against Ireland was based on a number of sources including three high-level reports from the European Parliament, the Council of Europe and the United Nations which expressed concern about the country’s "alleged co-operation" in the CIA rendition program.
It also cited documents from a legal case brought by extraordinary rendition victims against Jeppesen Dataplan, a company that provided flight planning and logistical support services for CIA extraordinary rendition flights, and which indicated that Ireland allowed use of its airspace and use of Shannon airport for CIA rendition flights.
US court records from another case involving Richmor Aviation, a company that operated CIA extraordinary rendition flights, also show that at least 13 flights operated by Richmor involving US personnel landed in Ireland between 2002 and 2004.
John Pilger - johnpilger.com
A full-scale invasion of Africa is under way. The United States is deploying troops in 35 African countries, beginning with Libya, Sudan, Algeria and Niger. Reported by Associated Press on Christmas Day, this was missing from most Anglo-American media.
The invasion has almost nothing to do with "Islamism", and almost everything to do with the acquisition of resources, notably minerals, and an accelerating rivalry with China. Unlike China, the US and its allies are prepared to use a degree of violence demonstrated in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Palestine. As in the cold war, a division of labour requires that western journalism and popular culture provide the cover of a holy war against a "menacing arc" of Islamic extremism, no different from the bogus "red menace" of a worldwide communist conspiracy.
Reminiscent of the Scramble for Africa in the late 19th century, the US African Command (Africom) has built a network of supplicants among collaborative African regimes eager for American bribes and armaments.
It is as if Africa's proud history of liberation, from Patrice Lumumba to Nelson Mandela, is consigned to oblivion by a new master's black colonial elite whose "historic mission", warned Frantz Fanon half a century ago, is the promotion of "a capitalism rampant though camouflaged".
A striking example is the eastern Congo, a treasure trove of strategic minerals, controlled by an atrocious rebel group known as the M23, which in turn is run by Uganda and Rwanda, the proxies of Washington.