5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Excellent survey of current US wars,
This review is from: Dirty Wars: The world is a battlefield (Paperback)
Investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill, who also wrote the excellent book Blackwater: the rise of the world's most powerful mercenary army, has produced a brilliant survey of the USA's current covert wars. Donald Rumsfeld said, "the entire world is the `battlespace'." This has become a global kill campaign.
The US government uses covert action, black operations, snatch squads, and an assassination programme. US personnel break international treaties and conventions and violate other nations' sovereignty and laws. Yet US law requires the US military to respect international law, the laws of war and the Geneva Conventions.
Scahill points out that jihads in Chechnya, Afghanistan and Bosnia in the 1990s served US aims. 2002 saw the USA's first lethal drone attack, in Yemen. In Somalia, the US bought, armed (despite the UN arms embargo) and ran warlords, in a war just like the US-Contra dirty war in Nicaragua. The result? Militant Islamist forces grew stronger.
From 2004 on, the US built up Shiite death squads in Iraq. In December 2006, the USA backed, fuelled and funded Ethiopia's invasion of Somalia. The Ethiopian occupation killed 6,000 civilians. 335,000 fled Somalia. In 2007 Yemeni military found a crashed US spy drone; the Yemeni government said it was an Iranian `spy plane'. In December 2009, a US attack on Malajah in Yemen killed 41 people, including 14 women and 21 children.
Scahill observes, "political and economic forces were drawing up plans for a neoliberal restructuring of Yemen's economy. Organized under the banner of `Friends of Yemen', the US and British governments joined with the European Union, the International Monetary Fund and some of Yemen's neighbours. ... A declaration from the `Friends' openly acknowledged that `necessary economic reforms would have an adverse impact on the poor.'"
Obama embraces the Joint Special Operations Command, and has refocused it from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. The US government is waging covert offensives in Somalia, Yemen, Kenya, Ethiopia, Eritrea, Djibouti and Sudan. It has Special Operations Forces in more than 100 countries, including Iran, Georgia and Ukraine.
Scahill remarks, "Within weeks of assuming office in early 2009, Obama would send a clear message that he intended to keep intact many of the most aggressive counterterrorism policies of the Bush era. Among these were targeted killings, warrantless wiretapping, the use of secret prisons, a crackdown on habeas corpus rights for prisoners, indefinite detention, CIA rendition flights, drone bombings, the deployment of mercenaries in US wars and reliance on the `State Secrets privilege'. In some cases, Obama would expand Bush-era programs he had once blasted as hallmarks of an unaccountable executive branch. ... Obama would guarantee that many of those policies would become entrenched, bipartisan institutions in US national security policy for many years to come. Whether these policies have kept Americans safe - or have made them less safe - is another question."
NATO operations in Afghanistan killed more than 90 civilians in the first few months of 2010, a 75 per cent increase from 2009. More than 30 were killed at checkpoints after General McChrystal took charge. He admitted, "In the nine-plus months I've been here, not a single case where we have engaged in an escalation of force incident and hurt someone has it turned out that the vehicle had a suicide bomb or weapons in it and, in many cases, had families in it. We've shot an amazing number of people and killed a number and, to my knowledge, none has proven to have been a real threat."
After General David Petraeus replaced McChrystal, as Scahill notes, "Almost as soon as Petraeus took command of the war, the pace of night raids increased and air strikes resumed. As the civilian death toll mounted, the Afghan insurgency intensified. The US `targeted' killing program was fueling the very threat it claimed to be fighting."
By June 2010, Afghanistan had become the longest war in US history. More than 1,000 American soldiers had been killed. From June 2009 to May 2010, the number of improvised explosive device attacks rose from 250 a month to more than 900.
A report by the Senate Foreign Relations Committee concluded in 2010, "Al Qaeda is now a more sophisticated and dangerous organization in Africa [whose] foothold in Somalia has probably been facilitated by the involvement of Western powers and their allies."