At the start of his February 22 press briefing, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney offered a tribute to deceased reporters Marie Colvin, Remi Ochlik, and Anthony Shadid, all of whom had given their lives, he said, “in order to bring the truth about what’s happening in a country like Syria to those of us at home and in countries around the world.”--
Is the Syrian government of Bashar al-Assad, in the opinion of U.S. officials, a valued ally or a murderous, tyrannical regime? It all depends on which day you ask.
Three of the four remaining candidates for the Republican presidential nomination have spoken out against planned reductions in future defense spending. Both former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich have urged President Barack Obama to prevent the sequestering of $600 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years as required by last summer’s debt ceiling deal. Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum stated categorically that he “would absolutely not cut one penny out of military spending.”
U.S. sanctions on Iran are “acts of war.” The Iranian government, which views the sanctions, along with assassinations of its nuclear scientists and belligerent rhetoric from Washington, as precursors to “regime change,” is seeking to obtain nuclear weapons “as a deterrent to foreign intervention.” War could occur at any moment, and the only way to avert it with any certainty is for “Western powers [to] imagine how the situation looks from Tehran.”
“When it comes to foreign policy, if you like George W. Bush and Barack Obama, you’ll love Mitt Romney.” That was the unspoken theme of a speech the former Massachusetts Governor and 2012 Republican presidential contender delivered Friday at the Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina. Inveighing against “crawl[ing] into an isolationist shell,” Romney offered instead a program of hyper-interventionism in which no problem anywhere in the world is too small or remote for Washington’s involvement.
Observers might think that the largest, most expensive embassy ever built — the $750 million, heavily fortified U.S. embassy in Baghdad — would be more than sufficient to sustain the diplomatic corps that will remain in Iraq after U.S. troops are withdrawn. In fact, however, that 1.5-square-mile walled complex is, according to the Huffington Post’s Dan Froomkin, “turning out to be too small for the swelling retinue of gunmen, gardeners and other workers the State Department considers necessary to provide security and ‘life support’ for the sizable group of diplomats, military advisers and other executive branch officials who will be taking shelter there once the troops withdraw from the country.”
“Gulags, concentration camps, torture centers — indeed, wars of aggression and domination — are not simply the creation of a few leaders at the top,” observes Chris Floyd. “They require the willing participation of multitudes of people, at every level.”
Although the Obama administration has made much of the fact that U.S. forces are scheduled to leave Afghanistan by the end of 2014, it clearly has no intention of leaving that war-ravaged country to its own devices. In fact, plans are afoot to keep as many as 25,000 American troops in Afghanistan for at least a decade longer than the official deadline, according to the Daily Telegraph.
Most Americans are aware that U.S. forces are involved in missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Those who pay closer attention to the news may know that American troops are also active in Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. But according to Nick Turse of TomDispatch.com, those six nations comprise only five percent of the total number of countries in which the Department of Defense is conducting operations. “A secret force within the U.S. military,” says Turse, “is undertaking operations in a majority of the world’s countries” — at a rate of 70 such operations per day.