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Where the New York Times Fails to Understand War

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message David Swanson       (Page 1 of 2 pages)     Permalink

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Let's read a New York Times editorial from Monday:

"The United States has been at war continuously since the attacks of 9/11 and now has just over 240,000 active-duty and reserve troops in at least 172 countries and territories. While the number of men and women deployed overseas has shrunk considerably over the past 60 years, the military's reach has not. American forces are actively engaged not only in the conflicts in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Yemen that have dominated the news, but also in Niger and Somalia, both recently the scene of deadly attacks, as well as Jordan, Thailand and elsewhere."

That's a big "elsewhere" that includes Libya, Pakistan, the Philippines, etc.

"An additional 37,813 troops serve on presumably secret assignment in places listed simply as 'unknown.' The Pentagon provided no further explanation. There are traditional deployments in Japan (39,980 troops) and South Korea (23,591) to defend against North Korea and China, if needed,"

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The gratuitous claim that what U.S. troops are doing halfway around the globe is defensive helps explain why this extreme militarism is tolerated. This editorial will go on to scratch its head in bewilderment, but the U.S. would not have gotten into these wars without the hard work of the New York Times, which has so normalized the mouthing of patent nonsense in defense of permanent war that it goes unnoticed even in an editorial lamenting permanent war.

"" along with 36,034 troops in Germany, 8,286 in Britain and 1,364 in Turkey -- all NATO allies. There are 6,524 troops in Bahrain and 3,055 in Qatar, where the United States has naval bases."

Plus 14,617 in Italy, 12,489 in Afghanistan with 4,000 more on the way, 12,342 in Kuwait, 5,963 in Iraq, etc, etc, plus many more mercenaries and contractors than troops in some of these locations. And of course "has naval bases" in plain English is "props up brutal dictatorships with horrific results to come."

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"America's operations in conflict zones like Africa are expanding: 400 American Special Forces personnel in Somalia train local troops fighting the Shabab Islamist group, providing intelligence and sometimes going into battle with them. One member of the Navy SEALs was killed there in a mission in May. On Oct. 14, a massive attack widely attributed to the Shabab on a Mogadishu street killed more than 270 people, which would show the group's increased reach. About 800 troops are based in Niger, where four Green Berets died on Oct. 4."

The pattern of increased terrorism following the spread of "counter terrorism" can be found, but is never pointed out, in the New York Times.

"Many of these forces are engaged in counterterrorism operations -- against the Taliban in Afghanistan, for instance; against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria; against an affiliate of Al Qaeda in Yemen. So far, Americans seem to accept that these missions and the deployments they require will continue indefinitely. Still, it's a very real question whether, in addition to endorsing these commitments, which have cost trillions of dollars and many lives over 16 years, they will embrace new entanglements of the sort President Trump has seemed to portend with his rash threats and questionable decisions on North Korea and Iran."

When the hell were we asked? Are there polls showing that we've embraced these wars and the warmaking that they "require"?

"For that reason alone, it's time to take stock of how broadly American forces are already committed to far-flung regions and to begin thinking hard about how much of that investment is necessary, how long it should continue and whether there is a strategy beyond just killing terrorists."

How in the world could any of it be necessary? Why must the New York Times create that assumption?

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"Which Congress, lamentably, has not done. If the public is quiet, that is partly because so few families bear so much of this military burden, and partly because America is not involved in anything comparable to the Vietnam War, when huge American casualties produced sustained public protest. It is also because Congress has spent little time considering such issues in a comprehensive way or debating why all these deployments are needed. Congress has repeatedly ducked efforts by Senator Tim Kaine, Democrat of Virginia, and others to put the war against the Islamic State, which has broad popular support but no specific congressional authorization, on a firm legal footing."

That "broad public support" is very dubious and not documented here in any way. Polls have often shown the same people horrified of ISIS and wanting ISIS destroyed opposing continuing or escalating U.S. warmaking. The "firm legal footing" is a highly dangerous lie by one of its top promoters: the New York Times. None of these wars is legal under the UN Charter or under the Kellogg-Briand Pact, and there is nothing that Congress can do to make them legal. If some foreign nation attacked this one, the New York Times wouldn't look into the manner in which that nation's government decided on war and whether it was in compliance with that nation's constitution. It would recognize that a criminal cannot legalize a crime through a proper criminal procedure.

"President Trump, like his predecessor, insists that legislation passed in 2001 to authorize the war against Al Qaeda is sufficient. It isn't. After the Niger tragedy, the chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Bob Corker of Tennessee, has agreed to at least hold a hearing on the authorization issue. It is scheduled for Oct. 30."

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David Swanson is the author of "When the World Outlawed War," "War Is A Lie" and "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union." He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online (more...)

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