Views: 8203|Replies: 22

America’s secret war in 134 countries   [Copy link] 中文

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-18 08:34:13 |Display all floors
They operate in the green glow of night vision in Southwest Asia and stalk through the jungles of South America.  They snatch men from their homes in the Maghreb and shoot it out with heavily armed militants in the Horn of Africa.  They feel the salty spray while skimming over the tops of waves from the turquoise Caribbean to the deep blue Pacific.  They conduct missions in the oppressive heat of Middle Eastern deserts and the deep freeze of Scandinavia.  All over the planet, the Obama administration is waging a secret war whose full extent has never been fully revealed -- until now.


Since September 11, 2001, U.S. Special Operations forces have grown in every conceivable way, from their numbers to their budget.  Most telling, however, has been the exponential rise in special ops deployments globally.  This presence -- now, in nearly 70% of the world’s nations -- provides new evidence of the size and scope of a secret war being waged from Latin America to the backlands of Afghanistan, from training missions with African allies to information operations launched in cyberspace.


In the waning days of the Bush presidency, Special Operations forces were reportedly deployed in about 60 countries around the world.  By 2010, that number had swelled to 75, according to Karen DeYoung and Greg Jaffe of the Washington Post.  In 2011, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that the total would reach 120.  Today, that figure has risen higher still.

In 2013, elite U.S. forces were deployed in 134 countries around the globe, according to Major Matthew Robert Bockholt of SOCOM Public Affairs.  This 123% increase during the Obama years demonstrates how, in addition to conventional wars and a CIA drone campaign, public diplomacy and extensive electronic spying, the U.S. has engaged in still another significant and growing form of overseas power projection.  Conducted largely in the shadows by America’s most elite troops, the vast majority of these missions take place far from prying eyes, media scrutiny, or any type of outside oversight, increasing the chances of unforeseen blowback and catastrophic consequences.        


Growth Industry

Formally established in 1987, Special Operations Command has grown steadily in the post-9/11 era.   SOCOM is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 personnel in 2014, up from 33,000 in 2001.  Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as its baseline budget, $2.3 billion in 2001, hit $6.9 billion in 2013 ($10.4 billion, if you add in supplemental funding).  Personnel deployments abroad have skyrocketed, too, from 4,900 “man-years” in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013.
A recent investigation by TomDispatch, using open source government documents and news releases as well as press reports, found evidence that U.S. Special Operations forces were deployed in or involved with the militaries of 106 nations around the world in 2012-2013.  For more than a month during the preparation of that article, however, SOCOM failed to provide accurate statistics on the total number of countries to which special operators -- Green Berets and Rangers, Navy SEALs and Delta Force commandos, specialized helicopter crews, boat teams, and civil affairs personnel -- were deployed.   “We don’t just keep it on hand,” SOCOM’s Bockholt explained in a telephone interview once the article had been filed.  “We have to go searching through stuff.  It takes a long time to do that.”  Hours later, just prior to publication, he provided an answer to a question I first asked in November of last year.  “SOF [Special Operations forces] were deployed to 134 countries” during fiscal year 2013, Bockholt explained in an email.

Globalized Special Ops

Last year, Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven explained his vision for special ops globalization.  In a statement to the House Armed Services Committee, he said:

“USSOCOM is enhancing its global network of SOF to support our interagency and international partners in order to gain expanded situational awareness of emerging threats and opportunities. The network enables small, persistent presence in critical locations, and facilitates engagement where necessary or appropriate...”

While that “presence” may be small, the reach and influence of those Special Operations forces are another matter.  The 12% jump in national deployments -- from 120 to 134 -- during McRaven’s tenure reflects his desire to put boots on the ground just about everywhere on Earth.  SOCOM will not name the nations involved, citing host nation sensitivities and the safety of American personnel, but the deployments we do know about shed at least some light on the full range of missions being carried out by America’s secret military.

Last April and May, for instance, Special Ops personnel took part in training exercises in Djibouti, Malawi, and the Seychelles Islands in the Indian Ocean.  In June, U.S. Navy SEALs joined Iraqi, Jordanian, Lebanese, and other allied Mideast forces for irregular warfare simulations in Aqaba, Jordan.  The next month, Green Berets traveled to Trinidad and Tobago to carry out small unit tactical exercises with local forces.  In August, Green Berets conducted explosives training with Honduran sailors.  In September, according to media reports, U.S. Special Operations forces joined elite troops from the 10 member countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations -- Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Brunei, Vietnam, Laos, Myanmar (Burma), and Cambodia -- as well as their counterparts from Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea, China, India, and Russia for a US-Indonesian joint-funded coun­terterrorism exercise held at a training center in Sentul, West Java.


In October, elite U.S. troops carried out commando raids in Libya and Somalia, kidnapping a terror suspect in the former nation while SEALs killed at least one militant in the latter before being driven off under fire.  In November, Special Ops troops conducted humanitarian operations in the Philippines to aid survivors of Typhoon Haiyan. The next month, members of the 352nd Special Operations Group conducted a training exercise involving approximately 130 airmen and six aircraft at an airbase in England and Navy SEALs were wounded while undertaking an evacuation mission in South Sudan.  Green Berets then rang in the new year with a January 1st combat mission alongside elite Afghan troops in Bahlozi village in Kandahar province.

Deployments in 134 countries, however, turn out not to be expansive enough for SOCOM. In November 2013, the command announced that it was seeking to identify industry partners who could, under SOCOM’s Trans Regional Web Initiative, potentially “develop new websites tailored to foreign audiences.”  These would join an existing global network of 10 propaganda websites, run by various combatant commands and made to look like legitimate news outlets, including CentralAsiaOnline.com, Sabahi which targets the Horn of Africa; an effort aimed at the Middle East known as Al-Shorfa.com; and another targeting Latin America called Infosurhoy.com.

SOCOM’s push into cyberspace is mirrored by a concerted effort of the command to embed itself ever more deeply inside the Beltway.  “I have folks in every agency here in Washington, D.C. -- from the CIA, to the FBI, to the National Security Agency, to the National Geospatial Agency, to the Defense Intelligence Agency,” SOCOM chief Admiral McRaven said during a panel discussion at Washington’s Wilson Center last year.  Speaking at the Ronald Reagan Library in November, he put the number of departments and agencies where SOCOM is now entrenched at 38.


Use magic tools Report

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-18 08:34:31 |Display all floors
134 Chances for Blowback

Although elected in 2008 by many who saw him as an antiwar candidate, President Obama has proved to be a decidedly hawkish commander-in-chief whose policies have already produced notable instances of what in CIA trade-speak has long been called blowback.  While the Obama administration oversaw a U.S. withdrawal from Iraq (negotiated by his predecessor), as well as a drawdown of U.S. forces in Afghanistan (after a major military surge in that country), the president has presided over a ramping up of the U.S. military presence in Africa, a reinvigoration of efforts in Latin America, and tough talk about a rebalancing or “pivot to Asia” (even if it has amounted to little as of yet).

The White House has also overseen an exponential expansion of America’s drone war.  While President Bush launched 51 such strikes, President Obama has presided over 330, according to research by the London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism.  Last year, alone, the U.S. also engaged in combat operations in Afghanistan, Libya, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen.  Recent revelations from National Security Agency whistleblower Edward Snowden have demonstrated the tremendous breadth and global reach of U.S. electronic surveillance during the Obama years.  And deep in the shadows, Special Operations forces are now annually deployed to more than double the number of nations as at the end of Bush’s tenure.

In recent years, however, the unintended consequences of U.S. military operations have helped to sow outrage and discontent, setting whole regions aflame.  More than 10 years after America’s “mission accomplished” moment, seven years after its much vaunted surge, the Iraq that America helped make is in flames.  A country with no al-Qaeda presence before the U.S. invasion and a government opposed to America’s enemies in Tehran now has a central government aligned with Iran and two cities flying al-Qaeda flags.

A more recent U.S. military intervention to aid the ouster of Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi helped send neighboring Mali, a U.S.-supported bulwark against regional terrorism, into a downward spiral, saw a coup there carried out by a U.S.-trained officer, ultimately led to a bloody terror attack on an Algerian gas plant, and helped to unleash nothing short of a terror diaspora in the region.

And today South Sudan -- a nation the U.S. shepherded into being, has supported economically and militarily (despite its reliance on child soldiers), and has used as a hush-hush base for Special Operations forces -- is being torn apart by violence and sliding toward civil war.

The Obama presidency has seen the U.S. military’s elite tactical forces increasingly used in an attempt to achieve strategic goals.  But with Special Operations missions kept under tight wraps, Americans have little understanding of where their troops are deployed, what exactly they are doing, or what the consequences might be down the road.  As retired Army Colonel Andrew Bacevich, professor of history and international relations at Boston University, has noted, the utilization of Special Operations forces during the Obama years has decreased military accountability, strengthened the “imperial presidency,” and set the stage for a war without end.  “In short,” he wrote at TomDispatch, “handing war to the special operators severs an already too tenuous link between war and politics; it becomes war for its own sake.”

Secret ops by secret forces have a nasty tendency to produce unintended, unforeseen, and completely disastrous consequences.  New Yorkers will remember well the end result of clandestine U.S. support for militants against the Soviet Union in Afghanistan during the 1980s: 9/11.  Strangely enough, those at the other primary attack site that day, the Pentagon, seem not to have learned the obvious lessons from this lethal blowback.  Even today in Afghanistan and Pakistan, more than 12 years after the U.S. invaded the former and almost 10 years after it began conducting covert attacks in the latter, the U.S. is still dealing with that Cold War-era fallout: with, for instance, CIA drones conducting missile strikes against an organization (the Haqqani network) that, in the 1980s, the Agency supplied with missiles.

Without a clear picture of where the military’s covert forces are operating and what they are doing, Americans may not even recognize the consequences of and blowback from our expanding secret wars as they wash over the world.  But if history is any guide, they will be felt -- from Southwest Asia to the Mahgreb, the Middle East to Central Africa, and, perhaps eventually, in the United States as well.

In his blueprint for the future, SOCOM 2020, Admiral McRaven has touted the globalization of U.S. special ops as a means to “project power, promote stability, and prevent conflict.”  Last year, SOCOM may have done just the opposite in 134 places.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-23 19:41:07 |Display all floors
A new chapter in US interventionism

A recent article in the Washington Post reveals – I believe with a considerable degree of accuracy – some important and terrifying facts about the counter-insurgency tactics employed by the Colombian government as well as the role of the United States as an advisor that actually directs and controls anti-guerrilla operations.

Another virtue of the article is that, though uncritical and triumphalist, it nevertheless shows how the political relation between the two countries may, without fear of exaggeration, be dubbed neocolonial.

At the center of the Post’s article is the claim that smart bombs, guided by US satellites, have changed the character of counter-insurgency operations in Colombia. These weapons, supplied by the United States government, have permitted the assassination of at least twenty-four FARC-EP leaders and given the Colombian state a new military advantage in its half-century-long struggle against a popular rebellion. The article also touches upon the question of the feeble (not to say surreal) legal justification of these tactics.

The article’s description of the stages of a smart bomb attack – in which the dropping of a large 500-pound guided bomb is followed by more widespread conventional bombing, strafing, and then helicopter-deployed troops, who often just pick up body parts – coincides with the description given to a friend of mine by a survivor of the attack on FARC comandante Mono Jojoy’s camp in 2010. The only important difference is that the survivor described the attack not only in terms of its technical details but also as “a brutal thing, an inhuman thing.”

In what passes for the public sphere today, appeals to a moral perspective and decrying the depravity of US policies are probably pointless. The horrorized remain silent, while the cynical control public space. Today’s situation recalls the moment at the beginnings of US imperialism when Henry David Thoreau – who said of fellow writers that if they had “lived sincerely it must have been in a distant land from me” – felt that he had no audience for his words and resorted to symbolic acts and cryptic writing.

Why does an article revealing secret operations appear in a newspaper with important links to the C.I.A.? The story’s publication should not be taken for granted since making known the overt domination of the Colombian military by its US “advisors” creates a difficult situation for the already beleaguered Santos regime. The reason for leaking this information, I believe, is the difficult conjuncture in the US, which makes it important to show its capacity to respond – for example, to punish the FARC’s retention of three US mercenaries in 2003 – and the need to justify N.S.A. spying as “good for something.” The article is also spiced with White-Man’s-Burden details such as the Air Force colonel who says “Just don’t f**k up” to a Colombian pilot before his mission.

Then there is the longstanding project of overcoming the “Vietnam complex” and showing that the United States has the capacity to defeat insurgent movements such as the FARC-EP – something which is not really true. The US and Colombia’s collaborationist regime employ some of the same weapons (e.g. “Puff”: a DC3 equipped with Gatling guns) and they rely mostly on air control as in Southeast Asia. Still, the same problems remain: especially that victory in a civil war is essentially about winning the hearts and minds of the population and also that there is no lasting victory that is not essentially political.

Not too long ago, Vietnamese general Vo Nguyen Giap died a natural death at 102. Giap, it will be remembered, defeated both France and the US. That the latter defeat is still sizzling in US consciousness was revealed by the many obituaries in the US press this fall that harped on Giap as someone who irresponsibly “prolonged the war.” Indeed, Giap prolonged the war… and thereby won it! Giap not only lived to see the revolutionary victory but also Vietnam’s reconstruction as a significant economic power. Still, the more famous figure, who is Ho Chi Minh, died before the triumph, as did José Martí in Cuba and a host of other revolutionary leaders in varied contexts.

Among them we may include the FARC’s head-in-chief, Alfonso Cano, who was assassinated just over two years ago (though not with high-tech bombs). I went to his burial. It was a chilly November day in Bogotá, and a group of us spent the afternoon at a new cemetery in the northwest of the city called “El Paraiso.” Even dead, Cano was a hot potato. The government had been nervous that a student march a few days earlier would try to recover the body as it passed by the hospital where it was kept. On the day of the funeral, Cano’s mostly right-wing family scooted the corpse around so that supporters couldn’t attend the ceremony. In the end, those of us loyal to Alfonso Cano and his ideals had to hold an improvised ceremony in front of some closed doors where we knew his body was kept. After midnight, when we had left, the family deposited the body in an unmarked grave.

Our chants in honor of Cano included one that goes: “They are afraid of your shadow, afraid of your memory, afraid of you remains” and another: “Whoever dies fighting, lives in every one of us” – chants that are typical of the Colombian communist movement. It was a fitting homage for a man who had begun his political career in the JUCO (communist party youth), abandoning an easy middle-class life to join the struggle for social justice. Sometime later, reading a book by Carlos Lozano, I would learn cruel details about Cano’s last days. In fact, the FARC’s leader was assassinated by the government during the very peace process that he himself initiated. Chased across a large swath of Colombia’s Cauca department, Cano was finally cornered near the village of Suarez and shot in cold blood.

What kind of government feels this is correct? “Playing hard ball” or “being realistic”… whatever euphemism you look for, one comes back to the grim cynicism of the US imperial system that no longer worries about a moral position, not even a moral facade. The double-talk embodied in the language of the Nazis that Hannah Arendt exposed (“final solution,” “change of residence,” “special treatment”) has its parallel in the Pax Americana, and a similar glossary should be made. For example, “war on terror,” or “war on drugs” often means simply war on people. Again, “failed state” is a state that the US has weakened or hopes to weaken. On the other hand, “National security” and “Homeland security” refer to national militarization.

The Post’s article, despite including some highly questionable opinions of the author, lifts the veil on another one of these euphemisms: “cooperation,” for a Latin American country, means subordination. The Nazi term for bringing into line “Gleichschaltung” could be brought back to describe today’s imperial system of conformity and collaboration that reaches across national frontiers and includes newspapers, armies, justice systems, etc. The system is always made tighter. A recent article by the FARC’s Pablo Catatumbo reminds us that even Chiang Kai-Shek, who did of course collaborate with the US, would not give up the command of troops. The Colombian government has taken this recent step. What’s more surprising is that it hardly bothers to hide it.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-23 19:41:59 |Display all floors
Archie1954:

It is so disgusting that the US has been able to destroy the ability of other nations to choose their own leaders and their own ideologies of government. Who in the H gave the US the right to make these choices instead of the electorate of the nation? The US has a lot of bad, very bad Karma to make up for!

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-23 20:17:49 |Display all floors
Protesters surround American embassy in Kiev, rally against US meddling

A huge crowd of demonstrators has surrounded the US embassy in the Ukrainian capital of Kiev, protesting against Washington’s meddling in the country’s internal affairs.

Follow RT's live updates.

The event was organized by Kievans for Clean City, a new pro-government activist group which has spoken out against the rioters and violence in downtown Kiev.

Several thousand demonstrators are taking part, urging the US to “stop sponsoring” mass unrests, local media reported.

“The US is behind everything that is happening in Kiev’s downtown right now. The financing is coming from over there. This has to be stopped. That is what we came out here to say to the whole world: ‘US - stop! US - there needs to be peace in Ukraine,’” said Ivan Protsenko, one of the movement’s leaders.

Rioters on Grushevskogo Street continue to burn tires, with building No. 4 catching fire from the high flames, Unian news agency quoted the Ministry of Internal Affairs as saying.

Police have been holding their line throughout the evening, attempting to extinguish fires with water cannons. After four days of protests, the center of the Ukrainian capital continues to resemble a warzone, with smoke, barricades, and debris all around.

Wednesday's clashes between rioters and police intensified in the afternoon after riot police cleared Grushevskogo Street.

Footage from the Ukrainian capital showed hundreds of police officers using tear gas, rubber bullets, and stun grenades against the protesters. The dispersal is the largest to take place since the latest outbreak of violence began four days ago. Some clashes involved policemen snatching individual rioters from the crowd and brutally beating them.

Rioters threw firecrackers, Molotov cocktails, and stones at police.

Despite some episodes of police brutality, security forces largely refrained from attacking rioters. Former Ukrainian president Leonid Kravchuk said he is grateful for the patience that police officers and the Berkut unit have shown while confronting rioters on Grushevskogo Street.

“I am grateful to the guys and Berkut, who are standing there now. I do not condone nor approve of the fact that they cleared out the students on November 30, although the right thing to do would be to criticize the person who gave out the order,” Kravchuk said in a Forbes opinion piece. “Now they are going through an incredible challenge: being beaten up, having stones and burning mixtures thrown at them, and they stand there and endure. Not a lot of countries have military who would tolerate such a treatment in a similar situation.”

The riots have reportedly left two people dead and at least 300 injured, according to local media. Ukraine’s Ministry of Internal Affairs said on Wednesday that more than 70 people have been detained during the unrest.

Ukraine's prime minister, Nikolay Azarov, said police were not given any additional instructions on the use of force against the protesters. Conversely, procedures now in place ensure minimal use of force against even the most violent rioters.

"Instructions given to law enforcement authorities were simple: avoid the use of force against peaceful demonstrators, and prevent violent seizure of government buildings and institutions,” Azarov said in a BBC interview.

The clashes erupted after a massive rally was held in Independence Square on Sunday, where protesters spoke out against new laws adopted by the Ukrainian government last week.

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 4

Post time 2014-1-24 06:08:14 |Display all floors
Who Dares, Wins
It doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are, or where you live; there are no boundaries if two pe ...

Use magic tools Report

Rank: 3Rank: 3

Post time 2014-1-24 07:37:49 |Display all floors
If these 134 countries would get their act together we wouldn't need to babysit them with our special forces. As an American I'm sick and tired of financially supporting our special forces for the benefit of other countries. The only benefits we receive is the hope for the betterment on these nations, and maybe a little training value.

Use magic tools Report

You can't reply post until you log in Log in | register

BACK TO THE TOP
Contact us:Tel: (86)010-84883548, Email: blog@chinadaily.com.cn
Blog announcement:| We reserve the right, and you authorize us, to use content, including words, photos and videos, which you provide to our blog
platform, for non-profit purposes on China Daily media, comprising newspaper, website, iPad and other social media accounts.