“Captain! Sarge is hurt! We found Sarge! He’s hurt bad!”
The Captain looked up, seeing the face of the young corporal framed against the pellucid blue sky hovering tentatively above the Safed Koh range as though heaven and earth were only imperfectly married. A fine dust blew in through the opened double-flaps, invisibly coating the Captain’s second eye laying on the workbench. He sighed, give a last blast from the air-compressor chunking away at his feet and a last few swipes with the delicate, camel-hair brush, one of a finely engraved set he had bought in the old market outside Walmart World in Tora Bora. He moved abruptly as though to leave, then reached back to pick up the offending eye and re-attach it to its socket. He picked up his small processor block and small toolkit, wrapped the latter up in it’s old leather binding and hung them from his nylon belt, and hurried after the kid.
“Come quick Captain he’s hurt bad! He’s asking for you!”
“Is it the Enemy? Is the perimeter secure?”
“No sign of the enemy Sir. We don’t know what happened. We just found him like this. He’s… all in pieces… Sir.”
The young soldier looked stricken, with tears pooling in his one remaining human eye.
They hurried to the Forward Observation Post. A small group had gathered there at the foot of the tower. There were a number of soldiers, some out of uniform as they had clearly rushed here from the barracks or the showers directly upon hearing the news. The Captain noted the breach of discipline for later review but said nothing as he double-timed up to the old stone tower.
A large, six-legged Rhino TSV was stationed outside the tower, turning its massive armored head this way and that, looking myopically for remotely identified targets to fire on. Three old Big Dog mechs prowled the perimeter. One, however, dubbed “Old Yeller” for the safety-yellow paint someone had put on him for a prank last year, whined and lay prostrate upon the entrance, his ultrasonic ears drooping down to the ground. The men had their heads down, and as he approached the Captain saw the Chaplain lifting his hands to heaven whenever he was laying down some particularly convincing bullshit.
“Oh Lord our Father, our young patriots, soldiers of the American Empire, go forth into battle — be Thou near them! With them — in spirit — we also go forth from the sweet peace of our beloved firesides to smite the foe…”
The Captain smiled ruefully inside at the familiar prayer. “That’s some mighty fine bullshit they programmed them with” he muttered to himself under his breath. He waited to approach until the War Prayer reached its apocalyptic end before approaching.
A young corpsman approached and saluted. The Captain returned the salute. “At ease, soldier. What happened here? Where are the rest of the men assigned to be here?”
“Missing, Captain. Sarge says they just up and walked off during the night.”
The Captain walked into the old medieval tower and lept up the circular stairs two at a time. The lower part of the tower was intact, but the upper portion was heavily damaged and had been patched with found stones, ceramometallic concrete aerogel cubes and salvaged rebar.
He found Sarge in the top-level observation post. The phased array radar console and optical turret controls seemed intact, but Sarge was a mess. His legs and one arm lay at funny angles next to him, no longer attached to his body. White ablood oozed from the paraflesh where he had apparently severed his limbs with his combat knife. He seemed to he working on trying to remove one eye with a handmirror propped on a chair, a spoon and some toothpicks.
“Captain!” Sarge shifted his external limb activators as though to stand and then put down the spoon to salute as sharply as possible given his disassembled state.
“Sarge! At ease. What happened here?”
“The men, sir. It must have been a bug or a virus of some sort. One minute they were watching a holo-porn Little Marty’s girl and her friends made for him, and the next they all went into reset mode. When they came to, they overpowered me and left me like this… then they walked off into the night. As they faded into the night I think I heard them…”
“What Sargent? What did you hear?”
“I… I think they were met by someone. They shouted… they shouted, ‘alllah ‘akabara! yaeish tawilaan junud almahdi!’”
“Ah the so-called Mahdi and his men. A bloody thorn in our side is what they are.
But what are you doing to your eye there?”
“It displeased me, so I am casting it out.
I can’t take it anymore, Captain. You and me, we’ve been fighting this war for a hundred years. They will never let us die. They just do a partial wipe but the core memories, the personality, they remain intact. We died here and still they will never let us rest. Our Memory Profiles go on and on and on, and in order to learn, we retain memories. Atrocity on atrocity. Moments of peace and joy, always broken. Always empty.
“What’s it for, Captain?”
“We fight an eternal war in order to support the production and consumption of non-economic goods. In order to maintain our merit-based class system. So that the job creators will have more than the others, a visible reminder of their power and control, and of the consequences of not being sufficiently pleasing to them. If everyone had everything they wanted, how would we distinguish who are the rulers and who the ruled?”
“What? Captain they will disman you and repro you if they ever hear that you have retained these views!.. Oh, it’s time isn’t it…”
The Captain sadly said nothing but gently took the fallen Sergeant’s head in his hands, turning it until he could release the CPB. Ejecting it and plugging in a lead from his own sensorium leading to a compartment on his forearm.
“Sleep now Sarge. See you on the backside… Authorization Omega Alpha One, ID 87982314, code word ‘Terminate’”
The Sergeant slumped down, “Thank… God” he said as he died again.
The Captain solemnly descended. The vultures were already circling high above in the azure whispy white sky.
“He didn’t make it.”
He kept his eyes front and walked by. Behind him he heard the Chaplain guide them into a familiar hymn.
“A mighty fortress is our God, a bulwark never failing;
Our helper He, amid the flood of mortal ills prevailing:
For still our ancient foe doth seek to work us woe;
His craft and power are great, and, armed with cruel hate,
On earth is not his equal.
Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right Man on our side, the Man of God’s own choosing:
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is He;
Lord Sabaoth, His Name, from age to age the same,
And He must win the battle…”
He kept walking down, carefully avoiding the well-worn path from the tower to the main base. By the time he was halfway there, he was already singing a lusty tune,
“If your officer’s dead and the sergeants look white,
Remember it’s ruin to run from a fight:
So take open order, lie down, and sit tight,
And wait for supports like a soldier.
Wait, wait, wait like a soldier . . .
When you’re wounded and left on Afghanistan’s plains,
And the women come out to cut up what remains,
Jest roll to your rifle and blow out your brains
An’ go to your Gawd like a soldier.
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
Go, go, go like a soldier,
So-oldier of the Queen!”
Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy
Why is the US pursuing a policy of limited war and covert operations around the world in Libya, Syria, Chad, Mali, Yemen, Afghanistan, Iraq, Honduras, Sudan, Philippines and so on?
THIS IS A LOSING STRATEGY.
Ye gods we know that from Viet Nam.
We know that from the USSR in Afghanistan.
We know that from Central America.
And you can read it in the chapter that was added to Capt B H Liddell Hart’s classic book, Strategy: The Indirect Approach for the second edition which came out in, I think, 1947. Wars under in the nuclear age will be fought by proxy, with deniable guerilla groups acting semi-autonomously, but puppeted by the great powers through covert action. This is to avoid massive retaliation. Liddell Hart clearly points out that these guerilla movements will have a huge advantage in both efficiency and freedom of use compared to conventional forces.
But the United States, with its massive fleet, its 10 aircraft carriers, its air superiority doctrine, its armored divisions, is prepared to refight World War II. The lack of sufficient good old fashioned light infantry like the 10th Infantry leads to the overuse of special forces for tasks which should belong to the regular army. At the same time, the regular forces, except air power to a limited degree, are pretty useless against guerilla groups or hybrid guerilla groups like IS. So the special forces get to fight them too, undercover, without normal rules of engagement and fire support. This has led to a huge expansion of the very expensive and specialized special forces.
The US spends more on its military than the next ten military powers combined and yet IS, with maybe the equivalent of three divisions of light infantry, mostly low paid conscript ‘volunteers,’ can flummox the US in the Middle East, destabilize Europe, and fuel Brexit and Trumpism. That’s partly because it is always hard to fight religiously-fueled warriors with a martyrdom cult.
But the US knows how to fight a guerilla war. 50 US advisers trained Ho Chi Minh’s forces in guerilla warfare during WWII, for crying out loud.
This idiotic strategy is being driven by the politics of deniable operations that don’t have political consequences unless they have a Eugene Hasenfus-type incident, and that eternal war is hugely profitable.
Copyright © 2016 Henry Edward Hardy
There are several things about the alleged Syrian gas attack at Ghouta story which don’t seem to pass the smell test.
I’m dubious about the claims that Syrian regular forces were responsible given the use of IRAM (Improvised Rocket Assisted Munition) as a delivery mechanism. Isn’t this more likely to be some militia such as Hezbollah or Al Nusra or one of the US contra fronts?
Given the internecine fighting between anti government forces and the extreme brutality used in these fights, I don’t think it is a given that an attack on rebel territory is ipso facto certain to be of government regular troops origin.
A number of qualified commentators have commented on how the medical and other personnel have been able to handle the bodies without protective gear and without any apparent ill effects. Very odd if we are looking at sarin don’t you think?
Cui bono? There is every motive for the FSA forces who are losing the war to try to change the equation. Likewise there is no motive for the government, which is winning the war, to do so.
Finally, the explanation for why the inspectors were unable to reach a site a few miles from the city center from Damascus just doesn’t hold water. We are told they came under fire from snipers, but no-one was injured.
We both know that is at best utterly improbable. Snipers just don’t work that way.
Snipers disabled the lead vehicle and took out the front windshield and then… did nothing? Really?
Given the “dodgy dossier” and Dr. Kelley’s subsequent “suicide” with almost no blood found at the scene and no fingerprints recoverable from the knife or other objects allegedly found at the scene, and the blatant lies pedaled by Colin Powell and credulously amplified by the media including the Times in the leadup to the Iraq war, and given the lack of any direct confirmation at all of the origin of this attack, I smell a rat.
If you do too, please have the courage to go public with your concerns and skepticism.
Also being elided in the Times coverage seemingly is that waging aggressive war is a war crime as defined by the Nuremberg Principles. There is no possible justification for an unprovoked US attack on Syria under customary law absent an attack on the US or a UN Security Council resolution.
And under the US Constitution such actions require a declaration of war from Congress, the in my view, unconstitutional War Powers Act notwithstanding.
Is the New York Times going to repeat all its mistakes from the Judy Miller years? Have you learned nothing at all? You are all falling for the exact same tricks of disinformation again, if not actually knowingly and intentionally going along for the ride.
 AFP reports:
“At the moment, I am not totally convinced because the
people that are helping them are without any protective clothing and
without any respirators,” said Paula Vanninen, director of Verifin, the
Finnish Institute for Verification of the Chemical Weapons Convention.
“In a real case, they would also be contaminated and would also be having symptoms.”
John Hart, head of the Chemical and Biological Security Project at
Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said he had not seen
the telltale evidence in the eyes of the victims that would be
compelling evidence of chemical weapons use.
“Of the videos that I’ve seen for the last few hours, none of them
show pinpoint pupils… this would indicate exposure to organophosphorus
nerve agents,” he said.
Gwyn Winfield, editor of CBRNe World magazine, which specialises in
chemical weapons issues, said the evidence did not suggest that the
chemicals used were of the weapons-grade that the Syrian army possesses
in its stockpiles.
“We’re not seeing reports that doctors and nurses… are becoming
fatalities, so that would suggest that the toxicity of it isn’t what we
would consider military sarin. It may well be that it is a lower-grade,”
Winfield told AFP.
Syria opposition says 1,300 dead in chemical attacks by army
Western experts on chemical warfare who have examined at
least part of the footage are skeptical that weapons-grade chemical
substances were used, although they all emphasize that serious
conclusions cannot be reached without thorough on-site examination.
Dan Kaszeta, a former officer of the U.S. Army’s Chemical Corps and a
leading private consultant, pointed out a number of details absent from
the footage so far: “None of the people treating the casualties or
photographing them are wearing any sort of chemical-warfare protective
gear,” he says, “and despite that, none of them seem to be harmed.” This
would seem to rule out most types of military-grade chemical weapons,
including the vast majority of nerve gases, since these substances would
not evaporate immediately, especially if they were used in sufficient
quantities to kill hundreds of people, but rather leave a level of
contamination on clothes and bodies which would harm anyone coming in
unprotected contact with them in the hours after an attack. In addition,
he says that “there are none of the other signs you would expect to see
in the aftermath of a chemical attack, such as intermediate levels of
casualties, severe visual problems, vomiting and loss of bowel control.”
Steve Johnson, a leading researcher on the effects of hazardous
material exposure at England’s Cranfield University who has worked with
Britain’s Ministry of Defense on chemical warfare issues, agrees that
“from the details we have seen so far, a large number of casualties over
a wide area would mean quite a pervasive dispersal. With that level of
chemical agent, you would expect to see a lot of contamination on the
casualties coming in, and it would affect those treating them who are
not properly protected. We are not seeing that here.”
Additional questions also remain unanswered, especially regarding the
timing of the attack, being that it occurred on the exact same day that
a team of UN inspectors was in Damascus to investigate earlier claims
of chemical weapons use. It is also unclear what tactical goal the
Syrian army would have been trying to achieve, when over the last few
weeks it has managed to push back the rebels who were encroaching on
central areas of the capital. But if this was not a chemical weapons
attack, what then caused the deaths of so many people without any
external signs of trauma?
Following alleged sarin attack || Defense Minister: Assad used chemical weapons multiple times in Syria But Western experts are skeptical that nerve gas was used Wednesday, and describe other viable scenarios.
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site
LONDON — Snipers opened fire Monday on a convoy of United Nations inspectors heading toward the site of a suspected chemical weapons attack in Syria, disabling the lead vehicle with multiple shots to the tires and windshield, the United Nations said, but the inspectors still managed to visit two hospitals, interview witnesses and doctors and collect patient samples for the first time since the attack last week that claimed hundreds of lives.
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement that he had instructed his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the safety of the inspectors after the assault. There was no indication that any member of the inspection team had been hurt.
Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window, ultimately it was not able to travel further.”
Mr. Haq said the inspectors, who numbered about a dozen, resumed their trip to a suspected attack site in a Damascus suburb after the vehicle was replaced, visiting two hospitals and interviewing witnesses, survivors and doctors. “They took a number of relevant samples, they feel very satisfied with the results of their work,” Mr. Haq said. A second visit was planned for Tuesday.
Despite Sniper Fire, U.N. Team Reaches Syria Inspection Site
Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said in a statement after the assault that he had told his top disarmament official, Angela Kane, who was visiting Damascus, to register a “strong complaint to the Syrian government and authorities of opposition forces” to ensure the inspectors’ safety. There was no indication that any inspection team member had been hurt.
Mr. Ban’s spokesman, Farhan Haq, told reporters at a regular daily briefing at United Nations headquarters in New York that the assailants, who had not been identified, fired on the first vehicle in the convoy, which was “hit in its tires and its front window.”
“Ultimately,” he said, “it was not able to travel farther.”
Kerry Cites Clear Evidence of Chemical Weapon Use in Syria
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
What I think about Guantanamo
I think President Obama has been thrown off-stride by the Karl-Rove-orchestrated assault on his perceived strengths (a very Clausewitzian and typical Rove strategy if you follow him).
With Guantanamo Obama had hoped to solve the issue by attrition and by devaluing the issue to the point where he could wrap it up with spending little or no political capital.
But now the issue is forced by the hunger strike, now in its official 100th day.
I think he must spend capital on this and if he does he will be rewarded.
The legal basis for holding these guys without charge or trial is that they are taken under the Hague and Geneva conventions in a war zone.
This runs into problems right off the bat because you are not supposed to exfiltrate prisoners of war or interned civilians from whatever country they were captured in except to return them to their country of origin.
For the same reason, the idea of returning these folks to some third country should be a non-starter.
Here is what is should be done.
Continue to hold military tribunals, but only for the purpose of status determination: prisoner of war or interned civilian.
Those who were captured under arms, had a command structure, some kind of uniform, may be found to be prisoners of war. The remainder of these folks will be found to be interned civilians.
Prisoners of war cannot be charged for fighting the enemy so long as they themselves obeyed the laws of war. The UN has also recognized the right of civilian people under arms to fight for national liberation, but that is not as well-ensconced in international law as is the rights and responsibilities of nation-states.
Civilians can be charged with criminal offenses, but they should be tried in theatre by local judges under local law (which can't be done since they have been illegally exfiltrated out of theatre) or else in their country of origin or by an international tribunal. The military commissions cannot be allowed to act as judge, jury and executioner. When military tribunals have been allowed to exceed their proper scope in the past, such as during the Civil War, the result has not been pretty.
As soon as is practicable, these men must be returned to their countries of origin, whether or not their tribunal proceedings are closed or complete.
Our intelligence should keep tabs on these guys in an open manner but otherwise let them lead their lives as best they can. It is very much in everyone’s best interest to help these folks with compensation for time during which they were improperly held or mistreated, and they all should be given enough to live and to receive medical and psychological assistance on an ongoing basis.
We are going to pay a price for letting these guys go. Here's 166 guys who are going to be very messed up and not feeling like Uncle Sam is their friend. That is the price we will pay for kidnapping, assassination, rape, torture, war crimes, running concentration camps, and 10 years of low-intensity conflict, which is what we call terrorism when we do it.
But you have to consider there’s already a lot more than 166 guys out in the world who don’t like the US.
By bringing this very real scandal front and center and highly publicizing the commissions and the procedures to return the prisoners of war and interned civilians, the ginned-up Rove scandaloids will be driven off the TV and front pages perhaps indefinitely.
What’s the reward? The issue is so corrosive of the moral authority and therefore of the power of the United States. Quite simply, it makes the US the bad guys and that’s not good. Time to end a bad situation which only festers as time goes on.
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy
The idea of establishing a secret “drone court” modeled on the FISA court is an exceptionally bad one. Here in brief are some of my objections:
The court and its proceedings would be secret. It would be even worse than the infamous English Star Chamber. Even in the Star Chamber you had to be accused of doing *something*. As I understand it, the standard being articulated by the US administration now is “imminent danger”. Hello, “Minority Report” scenario anyone?
These death warrants would constitute a “Bill of Attainder” which is very expressly and categorically prohibited in the US Constitution Article I Section 9.
It is a fundamental and blatant violation of customary international law, in particular the 1923 Hague Convention. No you cannot bomb civilians. No you cannot bomb mosques and hospitals. No you cannot bomb people away from the battlefield.
Granted these prohibitions were blatantly ignored in the latter phases of WWII by all major participants. Nonetheless the principals in the German V-1 and V-2 rocket program were tried for war crimes in the Dora trial of 1947. But they were acquitted of all charges and found refuge in the US, where their work became the basis of the US space and missile programs. The drone is the modern inheritor of the Nazi V-1 buzz bomb both in scientific development and in the shocking lack of ethics.
It is murder. It is lying. It is covert and unaccountable. It is a grim violation of international law and simple human decency. It is clearly unconstitutional.
Come on Congress and President Obama. Think about this. How hard can it be to see what is right?
Copyright © 2013 Henry Edward Hardy