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Pain Continues after War for American Drone Pilot

For more than five years, Brandon Bryant worked in an oblong, windowless container about the size of a trailer, where the air-conditioning was kept at 17 degrees Celsius (63 degrees Fahrenheit) and, for security reasons, the door couldn't be opened. Bryant and his coworkers sat in front of 14 computer monitors and four keyboards. When Bryant pressed a button in New Mexico, someone died on the other side of the world. The container is filled with the humming of computers. Bryant was one of them, and he remembers one incident very clearly when a Predator drone was circling in a figure-eight pattern in the sky above Afghanistan, more than 10,000 kilometers (6,250 miles) away. "These moments are like in slow motion," he says today. With seven seconds left to go, there was no one to be seen on the ground. Second zero was the moment in which Bryant's digital world collided with the real one in a village between Baghlan and Mazar-e-Sharif. Bryant saw a flash on the screen: the explosion.

A Special Supplement: The Responsibility of Intellectuals by Noam Chomsky TWENTY-YEARS AGO, Dwight Macdonald published a series of articles in Politics on the responsibility of peoples and, specifically, the responsibility of intellectuals. I read them as an undergraduate, in the years just after the war, and had occasion to read them again a few months ago. They seem to me to have lost none of their power or persuasiveness. Macdonald is concerned with the question of war guilt. He asks the question: To what extent were the German or Japanese people responsible for the atrocities committed by their governments? And, quite properly, he turns the question back to us: To what extent are the British or American people responsible for the vicious terror bombings of civilians, perfected as a technique of warfare by the Western democracies and reaching their culmination in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, surely among the most unspeakable crimes in history. With respect to the responsibility of intellectuals, there are still other, equally disturbing questions. Arthur M.

Schwarzkopf (RIP) and How the United States got Bogged Down in the Middle East Gen. Norman H. Schwarzkopf is dead at 78. He died of pneumonia. Schwarzkopf was among the military leaders who repositioned the United States as a Middle Eastern hegemon. The US had interests in the Middle East from World War II forward, but the region was frankly on the back burner. When he was Israeli ambassador to Washington in the early 1970s, Yitzhak Rabin complained that he had difficulty getting appointments in the American capital. It was the Gulf War of 1991 that changed everything and brought the US into the Middle East as a Great Power. Iraq’s action underlined how vulnerable the small oil emirates of the Persian Gulf were. But in the Gulf, British naval power advanced by a series of treaties with the small principalities along its Arab littoral, turning them into protectorates. Britain withdrew from the Gulf gradually through the 1960s, and pulled out altogether in 1971, as part of decolonization. President George W. The turning point was the Gulf War, and the late Gen.

An excerpt from Fred Kaplan’s “The Insurgents” Chapter 1 “What We Need Is an Officer with Three Heads” A few days shy of his twenty-fifth birthday, John Nagl saw his future disappear. The first tremors came at dawn, on February 24, 1991, as he revved up the engine of his M-1 tank and plowed across the Saudi Arabian border into the flat, endless sands of southern Iraq. For the previous month, American warplanes had bombarded Saddam Hussein’s military machine to the point of exhaustion. Now the ground-war phase of Operation Desert Storm—the largest armored offensive since the Second World War— roared forth in full force, pushing Iraq’s occupying army out of Kuwait. Lieutenant Nagl was a platoon leader in the US Army’s 1st Cavalry Division, which, on that morning, mounted the crucial feint along the route where Saddam’s commanders were expecting an invasion. It was a moment of unaccustomed triumph for the US military, still haunted by the defeat in Vietnam. Nagl didn’t think that any of this necessarily meant the coming of world peace.

US Covert War in Yemen Receives Support from Saudi Air Force Counterterrorism adviser John Brennan (Flickr Photo by CSIS) In a feature story for The Times (London), journalist Iona Craig reports a Times investigation found “Saudi Arabian fighter jets joined the United States’ secret war in Yemen.” The support came in a year when the number of drone strikes in the Arabian Peninsula more than doubled and surpassed the number of drone strikes in Pakistan. According to the Bureau of Investigative Journalism, there were 25 confirmed US operations in 2012 up from 13 confirmed operations in 2011. There were 58 possible US operations in 2012 up from 17 possible operations in 2011. A US intelligence source reportedly claims, “Some of the so-called drone missions are actually Saudi air force missions.” It is believed that drones operate from bases in Saudi Arabia. The Times report details a September 2, 2012, air strike that killed 12 civilians, including three children. …The first missile hit the vehicle, flipping it over.

The Secret History of US Drone Strikes in 2012 (Woods et al.) Chris Woods, Jack Serle and Alice K. Ross write at the Bureau of Investigative Journalism: Reported civilian deaths fell sharply in Pakistan in 2012, with Bureau data suggesting that a minimum of 2.5% of those reported killed were civilians – compared with more than 14% in 2011. This suggests the CIA is seeking to limit non-militant casualties, perhaps as a result of sustained criticism. Drone strikes in Pakistan are now at their lowest level in five years, as Islamabad protests almost every attack. As drone strikes fell in Pakistan they rose steeply in Yemen, as US forces aided a major military campaign to oust al Qaeda and other Islamists from southern cities. Little is still known about US drone strikes in Somalia, with only two credibly reported incidents in 2012. In 2012,the US also chose to loosen the bonds of secrecy on its 10-year-old drone targeted killing programme. A year of drones A major covert US military offensive in Yemen began in March. Country by country Pakistan Yemen

Exit, Minus Strategy - By James Traub President Barack Obama listened to his generals the first time around; now he knows better. The Obama of 2009, new to the job, unsure of his relationship to the military and perhaps slightly overawed by his superstar commanders, David Petraeus and Stanley MacChrystal, agreed to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan in the name of a counterinsurgency campaign he didn't quite believe in. The Obama of 2013 is prepared to overrule the recommendation of his current commander, Gen. John Allen, and leave few -- if any -- troops behind after U.S. combat units pull out at the end of 2014. That's what's known as a learning curve. America's obsession with terrorism has wrenched the relationship between civilian leadership and the military in several different directions. By the time Barack Obama took office, the situation was reversed. Obama never caught the bug, as Bush had. COIN has had its great experiment; and it has been found wanting. Is that a bad thing? Scott Olson/Getty Images

Everything We Know So Far About Drone Strikes A U.S. Air Force MQ-1 Predator unmanned aerial vehicle. The U.S. is conducting drone strikes in in at least three countries beyond Iraq and Afghanistan. (U.S. Air Force photo by Master Sgt. You might have heard about the “kill list.” Where is the drone war? Drones have been the Obama administration’s tool of choice for taking out militants outside of Iraq and Afghanistan. The first reported drone strike against Al Qaeda happened in Yemen in 2002 [4]. The CIA isn’t alone in conducting drone strikes. The drone war is carried out remotely, from the U.S. [12] and a network of secret bases [13] around the world. The number of strikes in Pakistan has ebbed in recent years [6], from a peak of more than 100 in 2010, to an estimated 46 last year. How are targets chosen? A series [26] of [19] articles [27] based largely on anonymous comments from administration officials have given partial picture of how the U.S. picks targets and carries out strikes. Yes. It’s impossible to know. Why just kill?

Karzai: US leaving drones to Afghanistan As part of a deal worked out with the White House during a recent visit, Afghan President Hamid Karzai said his country would be getting its own drone fleet from the U.S. Karzai did not say how large a drone fleet he would be getting, but said they would be for surveillance only, according to report Monday in The New York Times. The U.S., he said, “will train Afghans to fly them, use them and maintain them.” During the interview reported by the Times, Karzai also said he has been promised additional surveillance equipment, as well as an additional 20 helicopters and at least four C-130s. He told the Times that he got nearly everything he asked for from Obama. For its part the White House is waiting to see if Afghanistan will deliver on an agreement for immunity for any American troops who stay on after the U.S. entirely wraps up its combat role at the end of 2014.

CIA operating drone base in Saudi Arabia, US media reveal 6 February 2013Last updated at 17:29 GMT Drones reportedly carry out strikes without Yemeni government permission The US Central Intelligence Agency has been operating a secret airbase for unmanned drones in Saudi Arabia for the past two years. The facility was established to hunt for members of al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula, which is based in Yemen. A drone flown from there was used in September 2011 to kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a US-born cleric who was alleged to be AQAP's external operations chief. US media have known of its existence since then, but have not reported it. Senior government officials had said they were concerned that disclosure would undermine operations against AQAP, as well as potentially damage counter-terrorism collaboration with Saudi Arabia. 'High-value targets' The US military pulled out virtually all of its troops from Saudi Arabia in 2003, having stationed between 5,000 and 10,000 troops in the Gulf kingdom after the 1991 Gulf war. Continue reading the main story