Doug Bandow - Cato Institute: The US is effectively bankrupt!

Washington can no longer afford to micromanage the world. International social engineering is a dubious venture, and it is folly to attempt while drowning in red ink: As Colin Powell put it while Chairman of the Joint Chiefs: "I'm running out of enemies - I'm down to Kim Il-Sung and Castro."
In real terms Washington spends more on 'defense' today than it did during the Cold War, the Korean War, and Vietnam. Max Boot of the Council on Foreign Relations worries that the increased financial obligations resulting from health-care legislation will preclude maintaining such oversize expenditures in the future. He asks: "Who will police sea lanes, stop the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, combat terrorism, respond to genocide and other unconscionable human rights violations (not, of course, counting the ones our USA is guilty of in Iraq and Afghanistan), and deter rogue states fro aggression?" By the way: Armored divisions and carrier groups are not useful in confronting terrorists, though Israel, in destroying the world trade center towers, could be effectively stopped by taking away the money our tax-payers are forced to give them each year! - But I digress. Please click on the heading of this article to get "the rest of this sordid story."


The Christian Science Monitor says: The Afghanistan Taliban could win!

According to a new study, the Taliban enjoy a slew of advantages that historically correlate with insurgent success, according to a new study of 89 past and ongoing insurgencies worldwide: Factors that favor the Taliban include receiving sanctuary and support in another country, learning to be more discriminating in targeting their attacks, and fighting a government that is both weak and reliant on direct external support. The historical trends suggest that their weakness would be the possible loss of their Pakistani sanctuary, while the main American vulnerability lies in Hamid Karzai's weak pseudo-democracy. Ben Connable, lead author of "How Insurgencies End", a RAND publication, believes that so-called "Anocracies"rarely win. In rural Helmand, our Marines are focused on building local government from scratch. Still, "anocracies" have traditionally won only about 15 percent of their conflicts with insurgents. The Taliban have learned to discriminate, though UN data appear to challenge that assumption. Surprisingly, most civilian deaths in 2009 were caused by insurgents. Their killing of civilians increased by 41 percent over 2008 levels, while pro-government forces reduced civilian killings by 28 percent.


Are the "Geneva Conventions" Irrelevant?

The Geneva Conventions - the bedrock of the laws of war, and one of the world's most widely ratified treaties - at least among the civilized nations of our world, turned 60 last month. Kenneth Roth, the executive director of Human Rights Watch, states that it is Israel's view that one prevails in "asymmetric warfare" only by pummeling rather than protecting civilians, though that concept is not only illegal but also counterproductive. Contrary to Netanyahu's claim, what needs rewriting is not the Geneva Conventions but Israel's abusive and illegal war strategy. Shortly after a UN fact-finding mission led by former South African Justice Richard Goldstone issued a report this fall lambasting Israel, as well as Hamas for war crimes, Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu instructed his government "to examine the facilitating of an international initiative to change the laws of war in keeping with the spread of terrorism throughout the world." The Geneva Conventions and their additional protocols have long imposed strict rules on the conduct of hostilities designed to protect civilians from these conflicts." But not, it seems, in land coveted by Israel!
Please click on the headline to go to the English version of this important story.


About the Geneva Conventions:

The "Geneva Conventions" are the bedrock of the laws of war, and one of the world's most ratified treaties. Happy Birthday-for they turned 60 in March, but one government is not celebrating: In fact, Israel had already launched a campaign to undermine these essential rules for protecting civilians caught in war: Shortly after a UN fact-finding mission led by former South African Justice Richard Goldstone issued a report lambasting Israel (and Hamas) for war crimes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu "instructed" his government to "examine the facilitating of an international initiative to change the laws of war in keeping with the spread of terrorism throughout the world".
Israeli officials claimed that the laws of war tied the hands of "democratic governments". At the time of the adoption of the Geneva Conventions in 1949, the militant Zionist group "Irgun" found the "Geneva Conventions" useful for their purpose in depriving the Palestinians of their land. Now, no longer need these "outmoded" conventions, and they chose to ignore them when they decided to use such weapons as heavy artillery, flechettes, and white phosphorus (which cause horrible burns, especially in the densely populated areas of Gaza. (I was careful to use WP only as an artillery marker round, when I had to resort to artillery to keep my advisory team safe from enemy fire in the Iron Triangle, near Trung Lap.) No other Western military doctrine today permits such deliberate flouting of the rules of war - but then there is "Israel".


Vietnam "Deja-Vu"?

Are we really condemned to repeat the mistakes our army suffered in the Vietnam War, in which I served? On 7 June, 1971, Colonel Robert D. Heinl, Jr. wrote a very revealing analysis of the dismal state of our Armed Forces, which was included in my own analysis, from my perspective as Advisory Team Leader in Ngo Trang and Trung Lap: "By every conceivable indicator, our army that now remains in Vietnam is in a state approaching collapse, with individual units avoiding or having refused combat, murdering their officers and non-commissioned officers, drug-ridden, and dispirited where not near mutinous. Intolerably clobbered and buffeted from without and within by social turbulence, pandemic drug addiction, race war, sedition, etc., etc. I can personally attest the veracity of Colonel Heinl's statements, when my boss, Major Kurbow, decided to move my team from Trung Lap, to a supposedly "safe" area in Cu Chi, right next to the huge base of our 25th Infantry Division. Though the American soldiers from one of the 25th Division were outstanding, when they moved to their assigned ambushes, the drunk and stoned assholes from the bunkers tried to shoot the soldiers from their own base camps, until I used the land line I had one of the Division's helicopters lay from the American bunker, only a few hundred feet from my outside wire, advising these assholes. that in case of any additional fire from their position, I would use my stash of Communist B-40 Ammunition to blow these stoned bastards up. They seemed to understand my logic, and we had no additional problems from these idiotic base camp warriors.