‘Our troops are not engaged in combat,’ Obama said on Sunday. But his definition of ‘combat troops’ has been ‘rejected by virtually every military expert’. Photograph: Evan Vucci/AP
This post is the beginning of a long series of yet to be written essays, the rest of which will be continued in the “Essays” section of the blog.
It is now Nov 10th 2014, the elections have ended, the Republicans have control of both houses of Congress, yet not a word of criticism from Congress about a Democratic President “doubling down” in his new war on Syria, nor any tough questions from the US Main Stream Media.
Trevor Timm’s piece (copied below) poses a number of (rhetorical) questions which gives me a good starting point to begin a relatively deep look into who controls USGovt foreign policy, and the reporting of it by the US Main Stream Media.
Previously in my posts Foreword, and “USGovt, Existential Threats, Perpetual War” I referred to the US Congress and thus the American people, losing control of the foreign policies of the USGovt. I now begin a much deeper look into that process and our current condition.
Trevor Timm Monday 10 November 2014
“We have entered the fourth official month of the latest war without end in the Middle East, and the Obama administration has suddenly doubled America’s troop presence in Iraq – yet there is no approved declaration of war in sight. The so-called “moderate” Syrian rebels receiving millions in weapons are now being defeated, and those same weapons are ending up in the hands of al-Qaida – yet there is no public sign of dialing back in the fight again the Islamic State.
You would think the faces of the mainstream American press would start questioning the White House’s strategy of perpetual war, but you’d be wrong. The drumbeat seems louder than ever; the challengers of power are nearly silent.
Fresh off his party’s drubbing in the US midterm elections, Obama appeared Sunday on Face the Nation, as a meek Bob Schieffer of CBS News lobbed weak questions at the president on his Isis war policy. It was a quintessential example of how some in the mainstream American press have refused to ask critical questions about our new Forever War – even as the most important questions stare everyone in the face.
Schieffer started the interview by asking Obama about why he ordered 1,500 more troops to Iraq late on Friday, putting the total at more than 3,000. Obama rosily insisted this doubling of American forces is not a sign that his anti-Isis plan is failing, just merely that his unchecked order “signals a new phase” in which he’s “never gonna say never” to even more.
At no point did Schieffer point out to Obama that he still has no legal authority from Congress to conduct a war that virtually everyone in the US government now acknowledges will last for years, if not decades. As it requests $3.2bn more, the Obama administration has made very clear that it would be just fine if Congress made the Isis campaign technically legal – “I’m going to begin engaging Congress” about authority for force, Obama said at a rare press conference last week – but if legislators still don’t pass a war resolution, Obama has already indicated he will continue it anyway.
I mean, who cares if war is legal, right? Given that even Bush administration lawyers are now admitting that Obama’s actions constitute an unprecedented expansion of war powers, you might think the media would bring something like that up.
“What hasn’t changed is our troops are not engaged in combat,” Obama went on to tell Schieffer, who predictably had no follow-up question. He could have asked about a buried New York Times article by Mark Landler, who reported weeks ago that Obama’s definition of “combat troops” has been “rejected by virtually every military expert”, given much of what these troops are doing is combat. Landler wrote:
The American advisers are armed, and if they are shot at by the enemy, they are authorized to return fire. In a close combat advisory role in a city, experts said, the American troops would tell Iraqi commanders which house to hit, how much ammunition to use in an assault, and how to organize medical evacuation for their troops.
If his power is going virtually unchecked by every other branch including those who have the rare chance to ask the president a question, you have to listen to what Obama says carefully to catch the truth. He told Schieffer the US is increasing the number of troops because “ISIL is a threat not only Iraq, but also the region and ultimately, over the long term, could be a threat to the United States.” (Emphasis mine.)
Don’t be fooled: The United States is staging a multi-country, decades-long war against an enemy that is not a current threat to its mainland, as virtually all the US intelligence agencies acknowledged back when the fight against Isis began. Shouldn’t the question be about why we’re involved in yet another ground war in the Middle East at all?
It’s a wonder President Obama doesn’t go on these softball Sunday shows every week, as he’s given a free pass to say what he wants without worrying in the least that he’ll actually be challenged on the substance of his policy.
At that post-election press conference, it was Ed Henry of Fox News, of all places, who mentioned the morass in Syria, of which the US is now fully a part. “In Syria, that’s been complicated and that’s not going to be solved any time soon,” Obama said. For his part, CBS’s Schieffer pretended on Sunday as if the second half of the war on Isis barely existed. He asked one question at the end of the interview about whether the US still wants to oust Bashar al-Assad, but failed to point out that the actual plan to “degrade and destroy Isis” plan in Syria is currently in tatters, only weeks after that campaign commenced.
McClatchy, which has published consistently stellar coverage on the Syrian situation, has been reporting that US-backed rebels have been cornered and routed in recent weeks. First Assad’s forces went on the offensive against them. Then the rebels’ formerly powerful allies – the al-Nusra front, an al-Qaida affiliate – turned on them and seemingly joined their former enemies from Isis in repeated attacks that reportedly crippled rebel forces.
Now yet more US-made weapons are in the hands of America’s supposed worst enemies. Who could have predicted that? Well, it turns out anyone who thought about it for more than two seconds, including the Central Intelligence Agency. Shortly after Congress’ September vote to train and arm the rebels, the New York Times reported the CIA had conducted a secret study concluding that funding rebel armies – the agency’s signature maneuver over the past 67 years, from Vietnam to Iran Contra and back again – rarely works … if ever. And in many cases, slush-fund warfare leads to further disaster.
Of course, it would’ve been nice for Congress to know about said conclusive failures before voting to send hundreds of millions of dollars in weapons and training to the Syrian rebels. (When John Kerry was asked about the CIA training them for a year with no success, he refused to talk about it in public.) Instead, this critical information remained secret and Congress blindly voted to make the mess that is Obama’s Forever War even worse.
If Republicans now controlling a branch of American power supposedly just got themselves elected to spite Obama’s failing agenda, and even they can’t question the president’s authority, here’s a question: Will anybody?”
GMB: I will continue this topic in the “Essays” section of the blog shortly.