There are two major planks to Salam’s argument, and they will ring familiar to anyone who lived in the immediate post-9/11 world: that America must have an aggressive and powerful army, first because our strength is required to bring stability to a vulnerable world, and second because there is so much evil in the world, we are required to defeat it. These are not, let’s say, the freshest of arguments when it comes to the defense of neoconservatism. But since he’s brought them back up, they should be addressed.
In essence, both arguments can be refuted with three words: should implies can. For the argument towards stability, I ask simply: we have endured a war in Iraq, we still have thousands of troops in Afghanistan, we have waged secret wars in Pakistan and Yemen. I ask you: how stable do you find the world? How stable was the world at the height of the Bush Doctrine? What possible evidence can be offered that neoconservatism brings stability in fact, rather than merely in rhetoric?
Nor is it clear that the enduring American military dominance Salam advocates for can be achieved. I would certainly oppose American military hegemony even if I thought such a thing were still possible, but it’s irrelevant, because I don’t. To quote Matthew Yglesias, relative decline is not a choice. That the United States cannot maintain its status as unipolar power forever should be obvious to anyone who has studied history and anyone with a newspaper subscription. The rapidly developing economies and massive populations of countries like China and India make that plain enough. That’s not to say that there will necessarily be a new dominant superpower, but it’s a reason you should bet on the field.
In the past seven days, we’ve seen a major terror attack on Abu Ghraib prison in Baghdad Iraq where 500 prisoners, including senior members of al Qaeda were freed by terrorists, and now we’ve got reports of a major attack on a prison complex in Pakistan has meant several hundred more terrorists and Taliban have been freed.
Pakistani Taliban disguised as policemen attacked a prison in the country’s northwestern town of Dera Ismail Khan, freeing more than 300 prisoners late on Monday.
The jail officials said that several of the prisoners, four security personnel and two assailants were killed in the attack. The prison was housing at least 5000 prisoners, 250 of them hardcore militants.
Malik Qasim Khattak, advisor to the ministry of prisons, said that around 50 to 60 gunmen attacked the jail with bombs and guns before entering into the detention facility. “They detonated about 60 bombs inside the facility which caused the collapse of prison wall. The assailants succeeded in freeing more than 300 prisoners,” Khattak said, adding that the militants blew up two electricity transformers which created complete darkness.
While accepting responsibility for the attack, the Tehreek-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) had claimed that their attackers had freed around 300 inmates.
Bill Roggio indicates at least 30 of those escapees were hardcore militants. Roggio further indicates those responsible are the Ansar al Aseer, a joint Taliban and Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan unit that has been designated to free imprisoned jihadists.
At the time of the attack on Abu Ghraib (now called the Baghdad Central Prison), I warned that those freed would not only rejoin the insurgency in Iraq, but could spread across the region causing mayhem in Syria’s civil war, or spark violence in Jordan, Egypt, or Turkey.
Now, we’ve got a second high profile incident involving attacks on detention facilities where high value al Qaeda and/or Taliban prisoners have been held - in a single week.
That doesn’t just happen out of thin air, though this is not the first time that the Taliban have attempted attacks on detention facilities with the goal of freeing Taliban/ and/or al Qaeda leadership. It’s part of a long term trend to bolster their numbers by taking on a major offensive. High profile attacks against detention facilities would do the trick.
The breakout in Pakistan means that terrorists in Afghanistan, Pakistan, and the frontier provinces that are nominally under Pakistani control are likely to be emboldened to carry on further attacks, including against detention facilities. They may also seek out attacks against the ISAF in Afghanistan, the supply lines, as well as India. This doesn’t bode well for those countries as the terrorist attacks have largely resulted in significant civilian casualties.
American infantry carry automatic weapons but most of the time they fire one precise shot at a time. In Afghanistan and Iraq the locals quickly got to know when American troops were fighting in the area. They were the ones firing single shots. The other guys fired their AK-47s on full auto. But it was the sparser American firepower that dominated. Better training, and high tech sights, made the U.S. troops very accurate. This led to wider use of snipers, with up to ten percent of American troops qualified and equipped for this kind of shooting. Snipers alone have greatly changed American infantry tactics. Using night vision scopes, small UAVs, and personal radios for every soldier American infantry battalions can quickly deploy a dozen or more two man sniper teams that will turns a large area into deathtrap for enemy forces.
July 20, 2013: Terrorist deaths so far this month indicate at least 700 will die from this violence this month. The terrorist violence in Iraq has been steadily increasing since the Americans left in 2011. In the first six months of this year over 3,000 were killed. That’s far from the 2007 carnage, where over 3,000 a month died, but it is still a big jump from only a year ago.
The terrorist violence in Iraq has been steadily increasing since the Americans left in 2011. In the first six months of this year over 3,000 were killed. That’s far from the 2007 carnage, where over 3,000 a month died, but it is still a big jump from only a year ago. If the current death rate continues this year will suffer about a third of the losses inflicted during the worst years of the terror attacks (2006-7). What is likely to prevent that is growing anger among the Shia majority and the increased activity by Shia terror groups and their death squads that simply kill any Sunnis they can find.
Tens of thousands of servicemen and women are dealing with lasting brain damage as the Pentagon scrambles to treat these invisible wounds. David Martin reports.
The following is a script from “Invisible Wounds” which aired on May 5, 2013. David Martin is the correspondent. Mary Walsh, producer.
We all learned a lot in recent years about the dangers of head injuries from contact sports like football. We now know that a hard hit can cause brain damage that only becomes apparent after an athlete’s playing days are over. Football is violent, no doubt, but it’s nothing compared to war. And just as the National Football League has struggled to come to grips with head injuries so has the military - but on a much vaster scale.
An estimated quarter million servicemen and women have suffered concussions over the past decade of war. Tens of thousands — no one knows the precise number — are dealing with lasting brain damage. The Pentagon, which did not recognize the problem until the war in Iraq was almost over, is now scrambling to treat these invisible wounds. And soldiers suffering from them sometimes end up wishing they had a wound people could see.
Ben Richards: If I could trade traumatic brain injury for a single-leg amputation I’d probably do that in a second.
More: Invisible Wounds of War
A number of U.S. politicians and news media, to include the New York Times, have called for the removal of Iraq’s PM Nuri Kamal Al Maliki.
The New York Times printed a story by Nussaibah Younis ” Why Maliki Must Go”: “Nobody wants another civil war in Iraq, yet events are propelling it in that direction. War can be averted only by a new political understanding among three main groups, Sunni Arabs, Shiite Arabs and Kurds but Nuri Kamal al-Maliki has become too divisive to deliver it.”
But who will take his place?
Vice President Tariq al-Hashimi, a Sunni, remains in exile, having fled the bogus charges on terrorism and then been given a death sentence in absentia. Similar moves to charge Finance Minister Rafe al-Essawi, a moderate Sunni, led to the protests and riots that have now engulfed Iraq’s Sunni heartland and alienated other communities. An army response to a protest encampment caused more violence.
While Iraq is now governed by Shiite Muslims in line with the Iranian Shiite regime, Maliki has allowed Iranian aircraft to fly over Iraq to provide arms and other support to the Bashar al-Assad Shiite forces.
April was the deadliest month for Iraq in nearly five years, with more than 700 people killed in violence, the United Nations said on Thursday.
“The month of April was the deadliest since June 2008. A total of 712 people were killed and another 1,633 were wounded in acts of terrorism and acts of violence,” a statement from the UN mission in Iraq said.