Category Archives: Military

Air strike at Doctors Without Borders hospital


For the second time in less than a year, a hospital staffed by Doctors Without Borders has fallen prey to an aerial bombing attack.

This time the hospital hit was in Syria, just which country’s planes were responsible for the attack is, as yet, unknown.

From the Washington Post:

Airstrikes on rebel-held areas in the Syrian city of Aleppo destroyed a hospital supported by Doctors Without Borders, the aid group said Thursday, killing at least 14 patients and staff in the latest attacks that have all but unraveled a cease-fire accord.

>snip<

The overnight raids — including a direct hit on Aleppo’s al-Quds hospital — killed at least 27 people, rights monitors and rescue volunteers said. At least 14 patients and medical staffers were killed at the hospital, Doctors Without Borders said on its Twitter account.

The group, also known by the French name Médecins Sans Frontières, or MSF, said at least three doctors, including one of the last pediatricians in the city, were among the dead.

But in an attack on another hospital staffed by Doctors Without Borders nine months earlier, the identity of the attackers is known.

The bombs and the planes carrying them were American.

But if you expect those responsible to be jailed for their killing 42 innocent people, like, say a reckless driver who fatally struck another motorist on an American city street, well, fuggedaboudit.

From the Los Angeles Times:

The Pentagon has disciplined 16 service members for mistakes that led to the deadly airstrike on a Doctors Without Borders hospital in northern Afghanistan last fall, but no one will face criminal charges, The Times has learned.

The punishments follow a six-month Pentagon investigation into the disastrous Oct. 3 attack, which killed 42 medical staff, patients and other Afghans, and wounded dozens more at the international humanitarian aid group’s trauma center in Kunduz.

The 16 found at fault include a two-star general, the crew of an Air Force AC-130 attack aircraft, and Army special forces personnel, according to U.S. officials who spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss the internal investigation.

One officer was suspended from command and ordered out of Afghanistan. The other 15 were given lesser punishments: Six were sent to counseling, seven were issued letters of reprimand, and two were ordered to retraining courses.

Reckless driving? A crime, and you got to jail, losing your job and a whole lot more.

Reckless bombing? Hey, no jail time and you get to keep drawing the old paycheck.

By way of contrast, from a 4 September 2015 NBC News Los Angeles story:

A Southern California woman who was texting and chatting on her cellphone before she slammed her Toyota Prius into the back of an idling car on an Orange County freeway, killing the 23-year-old driver, was sentenced Friday to six years in prison.

Jorene Ypano Nicolas, of San Diego, tearfully apologized to Deanna Mauer’s family.

“The thought of you not being with your daughter is absolutely killing me every day,” she said. “From the bottom of my heart, from the bottom of my pain, I’m sorry you can’t physically be with your daughter anymore.”

Orange County Superior Court Judge Steven Bromberg wasn’t swayed by the apology. He imposed the maximum term under the law on the 32-year-old defendant, saying that her lack of remorse was “deafening.”

Drones, deaths, and the toxic legacy of Vietnam


The Vietnam war was America’s first and last experiment in allowing journalists unrestricted access to one of this country’s imperial wars.

Because journalists were able to hitch rides on helicopters and air transport planes, they saw death in the raw, and the images and stories they produced led directly to a militant antiwar movement and massive demonstrations, often violently repressed.

Journalists in subsequent wars to consolidate the global reach of the United States were tightly controlled, leading to the concept of embedding, where journalists were assigned to particular units and obligated to remain with them for the duration — the noxious notion of “embedding.”

Why noxious? Because living constantly with the same group for an extended period leads to identification with the group. Rather than cultivating the detachment so prized by journalists during the Vietnam War, reporters in America’s Iraqi invasions ate, drank, slept, partied with and depended on the same small group, invariably leading to an experience of war as us against them.

Couple with the ongoing downsizing of the increasingly consolidated mainstream media, journalism became less about questioning and much more about cheerleading.

Meanwhile, war itself was undergoing a transformation, epitomized in that radical new weapon of American war-making, the pilotless drone, operated from afar with joysticks by technosavvy geeks who grew up on videogames.

But that brave, new warfare exacted a price on both sides of the video screen, and digital warfare became a force for mobilizing its victims, a lesson the military failed to learn from World War II, where mass bombings of German cities failed to destroy civilian morale and even helped in prolonging German resistance.

In this, the latest edition of RT’s Going Underground, host Afshin Rattansi interviews Cian Westmoreland, an Air Force veteran who built the communications infrastructure of the drone program.

What he experienced there led him to become an antiwar activist and a leading opponent of drone warfare:

‘It Feels Like Murder’ – Obama Drone Program Whistleblower

Program notes:

Afshin Rattansi goes underground on drones. Cian Westmoreland, whistleblower and former drone technician for Obama’s top secret drone program talks about the indiscriminate targeting that means that civilians are dying when they are searching for terrorists. Plus how responsible are drones in the radicalisation of civilians?

Chart of the day: Institutional trust by the young


And guess what the young distrust even more than Wall Street. . .

From the executive summary of the Survey of Young Americans’ Attitudes Toward Politics and Public Service [PDF], a just-released national poll 18- to 29-year-olds from the Institute of Politics of Harvard University’s John F. Kennedy School of Government:

BLOG Trust

Another interesting finding from the survey reveals that while men feel Hillary Clinton would do more for women than Bernie Sanders if elected, women feel just the opposite.

Quote of the day: Hillary Clinton, in Nixon’s image


From a Mark Landler New York Times profile of Clinton as the most hawkish candidate in the field:

As Hillary Clinton makes another run for president, it can be tempting to view her hard-edged rhetoric about the world less as deeply felt core principle than as calculated political maneuver. But Clinton’s foreign-policy instincts are bred in the bone — grounded in cold realism about human nature and what one aide calls “a textbook view of American exceptionalism.” It set her apart from her rival-turned-boss, Barack Obama, who avoided military entanglements and tried to reconcile Americans to a world in which the United States was no longer the undisputed hegemon. And it will likely set her apart from the Republican candidate she meets in the general election. For all their bluster about bombing the Islamic State into oblivion, neither Donald J. Trump nor Senator Ted Cruz of Texas have demonstrated anywhere near the appetite for military engagement abroad that Clinton has.

“Hillary is very much a member of the traditional American foreign-policy establishment,” says Vali Nasr, a foreign-policy strategist who advised her on Pakistan and Afghanistan at the State Department. “She believes, like presidents going back to the Reagan or Kennedy years, in the importance of the military — in solving terrorism, in asserting American influence. The shift with Obama is that he went from reliance on the military to the intelligence agencies. Their position was, ‘All you need to deal with terrorism is N.S.A. and C.I.A., drones and special ops.’ So the C.I.A. gave Obama an angle, if you will, to be simultaneously hawkish and shun using the military.”

Unlike other recent presidents — Obama, George W. Bush or her husband, Bill Clinton — Hillary Clinton would assume the office with a long record on national security. There are many ways to examine that record, but one of the most revealing is to explore her decades-long cultivation of the military — not just civilian leaders like Gates, but also its high-ranking commanders, the men with the medals. Her affinity for the armed forces is rooted in a lifelong belief that the calculated use of military power is vital to defending national interests, that American intervention does more good than harm and that the writ of the United States properly reaches, as Bush once put it, into “any dark corner of the world.” Unexpectedly, in the bombastic, testosterone-fueled presidential election of 2016, Hillary Clinton is the last true hawk left in the race.

Headline of the day II: They’re all effing crazy


From Raw Story:

Trump’s foreign policy advisor thinks Turkey is conspiring with Native Americans to build nukes

Headlines of the day II: Gift that keeps on giving


First, from the London Daily Mail:

Nuclear leak at Washington’s infamous Hanford Site is CATASTROPHIC, former worker claims, as eight inches of radioactive waste escapes core of ‘the world’s safest’ tank

  • Tank has two shells; a crack was spotted in the inner one in 2011
  • Now that crack has widened, spilling waste into the gap between the shells
  • It happened after attempts to pump the waste out of the tank
  • The Department of Energy says this was ‘anticipated’
  • But workers at the plant said they weren’t told it was a possibility 
  • The double-shell tank can contain up to a million gallons of deadly waste
  • It was supposed to be the safest possible container for radioactive liquid 
  • The Hanford Site provided plutonium for the first atomic bomb 

And from the McClatchy Washington Bureau:

The feds won’t pay these ill nuclear pioneers from the space race

  • Department of Energy says only Santa Susana workers in Area IV could be exposed to radiation
  • But former nuclear workers say the system wasn’t so tidy and that they deserve medical compensation
  • Tales of sodium reactor waste dump, radioactive mist

Headline of the day: Ever-predictable Obama


From the Intercept:

Obama Went From Condemning Saudis for Abuses to Arming Them to the Teeth

Obama once called for “the arms merchants in our own country [to] stop feeding the countless wars that rage across the globe.” Now he enables them.