As America’s efforts to “degrade and ultimately destroy” Islamic State militants extend into Syria, Iraq War III has seamlessly morphed into Greater Middle East Battlefield XIV. That is, Syria has become at least the 14th country in the Islamic world that U.S. forces have invaded or occupied or bombed, and in which American soldiers have killed or been killed. And that’s just since 1980.
Let’s tick them off: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. Whew.
With our 14th front barely opened, the Pentagon foresees a campaign likely to last for years. Yet even at this early date, this much already seems clear: Even if we win, we lose.
My latest reporting from South Sudan takes you from a Christmas-in-July party at the U.S. Embassy in Juba to a dismal, muddy UN camp deep in the countryside outside Malakal. Already, 3.9 million South Sudanese are facing catastrophic food insecurity and 50,000 children may die of malnutrition by the end of the year. Right now, experts in Juba are crunching numbers to decide if and when famine can be declared. “Half the kids may already be dead by the time famine is actually declared,” one UNICEF official told me.
Can you be a suspected terrorist if you have no known affiliation with a terrorist group? Yes! Jeremy Scahill and Ryan Devereaux report: “Of the 680,000 people caught up in the [U.S.] government’s Terrorist Screening Database—a watchlist of ‘known or suspected terrorists’ that is shared with local law enforcement agencies, private contractors, and foreign governments—more than 40 percent are described by the government as having ‘no recognized terrorist group affiliation.’” (via Barack Obama’s Secret Terrorist-Tracking System, by the Numbers - The InterceptThe Intercept)
Cash, Weapons and Surveillance: the U.S. is a Key Party to Every Israeli Attack
Glenn Greenwald, at The Intercept, reports: “Over the last decade, the NSA has significantly increased the surveillance assistance it provides to its Israeli counterpart, the Israeli SIGINT National Unit (ISNU; also known as Unit 8200), including data used to monitor and target Palestinians. In many cases, the NSA and ISNU work cooperatively with the British and Canadian spy agencies, the GCHQ and CSEC.”
What is Operation New Normal and why won’t the U.S. military talk about it?
In my latest investigation of shadowy U.S. military missions in Africa, I try to figure out just that. The article begins:
“What is Operation New Normal? It’s a question without an answer, a riddle the U.S. military refuses to solve. It’s a secret operation in Africa that no one knows anything about. Except that someone does. His name is Lieutenant Colonel Robert E. Lee Magee. He lives and breathes Operation New Normal. But he doesn’t want to breath paint fumes or talk to me, so you can’t know anything about it.
Confused? Stay with me.
“Whatever Operation New Normal may be pales in comparison to the real “new normal” for U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM). The lower-cased variant is bold and muscular. It’s an expeditionary force on a war footing. To the men involved, it’s a story of growth and expansion, new battlefields, ‘combat,’ and ‘war.’ It’s the culmination of years of construction, ingratiation, and interventions, the fruits of wide-eyed expansion and dismal policy failures, the backing of proxies to fight America’s battles, while increasing U.S. personnel and firepower in and around the continent. It is, to quote an officer with AFRICOM, the blossoming of a ‘war-fighting combatant command.’ And unlike Operation New Normal, it’s finally heading for a media outlet near you.”