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Memorial Day Remembrance: One Hundred Years of American Wars

26 May
American Troops Land in Normandy During World War Two

American Troops Land in Normandy During World War Two

Another Memorial Day is upon us.  Today, in May of 2013, we are in the 12th year of the War in Afghanistan, we are ten years gone from the start of the War in Iraq, and now 22 years since the first War with Iraq, (better known as Operation Desert Storm),  and the 100th anniversary of start of World War One is only a year away. 

What does this roll call of wars and years really mean?  Americans like to think of themselves as a peace-loving people who only go to war when necessary.  Generally, that is not an inaccurate statement.  Americans generally speaking, do not want more war.  We are not ancient Sparta with its ingrained militaristic culture.  Nor are we an ancient Athens, with an almost obsessive desire to spread out and establish new colonies everywhere.  But we may be more like ancient Rome.  Suddenly thrust into superpower status, with economic and political ties to many regions far from home, we send our troops and our treasure far and wide.  Often, it is to protect our allies.  Frequently, there is an economic or financial relationship to an intervention.  And, most of America’s conflicts are usually couched in terms of a moral imperative.  Frequently, that moral impetus is also tied to more hard-nosed political, military, diplomatic, and/or economic realities.  All of these reasons, or excuses, if you will, add up to an amazingly large number of wars, conflicts, military interventions, and American casualties over the years.

American Troops in the Afghanistan War

American Troops in the Afghanistan War

An American born in 1913 would be one hundred years old now.  In the span of that person’s life, America has fought quite a few major wars, and has been engaged in numerous smaller wars.  Let’s look at a list of American foreign wars and conflicts since 1913. The wars that are generally considered by historians as “Major Wars,” are in bold.

  1. 1912-1933—U.S. occupation of Nicaragua, including the Sandino War (1927-1934)
  2. 1913—In the Philippines, American territory since the Spanish-American War of 1898, the U.S. Army fights the last battles against the Moros (members of a Filipino Muslim group).
  3. 1914—The U.S. seized, by force, the Mexican port city of Veracruz.
  4. 1915-1934—America militarily occupies Haiti
  5. 1916-1924– America militarily occupies the Dominican Republic
  6. 1917-1922– America militarily occupies Cuba (for the fourth time)
  7. 1916-1917—In response to a raid by the Mexican rebel Pancho Villa, the U.S. Army invaded northern Mexico in an attempt to capture Villa.
  8. 1919-U.S. military intervention in Honduras
  9. 1917-1918-The U.S. declares war on Germany and other members of the Central Powers, entering into World War One.
  10. 1919-1921—The U.S., Britain, France, Japan, and others, send troops to Russia intervene in the Russian Civil War.  U.S. troops finally leave Russia in 1921.
  11. 1924-1925–U.S. military intervention in Honduras
  12. 1927—During one of China’s civil wars, the American destroyers USS Noa and USS Preston, and the British cruiser HMS Emerald, fired shells into the Chinese city of Nanking to clear the streets, then dispersed the attackers with gunfire.
  13. 1937–USS Panay Incident.  During the Sino-Japanese War, the U.S. Navy maintained several river gunboats to protect American interests on the Yangtze River in China. In late 1937, the Japanese advance on Nanking, which served as China’s wartime capital city, caused the American embassy there to evacuate. While conducting the U.S. diplomatic evacuation and while also escorting American Standard Oil barges, one gunboat, the USS Panay, came under attack from Japanese warplanes. After several runs by the Japanese planes, the Panay and two of the oil barges were sunk. The surviving crew and passengers escaped and found shelter with friendly Chinese until they could be picked up by other U.S. ships. Two U.S. sailors and one civilian passenger were killed, while eleven others were wounded.
  14. 1940—American forces were sent to protect British military bases in Newfoundland, Bermuda, St. Lucia, the Bahamas, Jamaica, Antigua, Trinidad, and British Guiana as part of the Lend-Lease program with Britain during World War Two.  The U.S. was still officially neutral in that war.
  15. 1941—In April, American troops occupy Greenland in order to protect it from Germany.
  16. 1941–USS Tutuila Incident –Japanese aircraft bomb USS Tutuila (PR-4) at Chungking, China on July 30, 1941. 
  17. 1941—In July, the U.S. takes over the duty of protecting Iceland, replacing British troops.
  18. 1941–USS Kearny –The destroyer USS Kearny (DD-432) was torpedoed and damaged southwest of Iceland on Oct. 17, 1941 by a German submarine.
  19. 1941–USS Salinas — The oiler USS Salinas (AO-19) is torpedoed by a German submarine 700 miles east of Newfoundland on October 30, 1941. There are no casualties and the ship makes port.
  20. 1941–USS Reuben James – -The German submarine U-552 sinks the USS Reuben James (DD- 245) on Oct. 31, 1941.   The Reuben James was escorting Convoy HX 156, with the loss of 115 lives. This is the first U.S. ship lost to enemy action in the European/Atlantic Theater in World War II.
  21. 1941– In November, American troops occupy Dutch Guiana, with the permission of the Dutch government, in order to protect this colony from Germany.
  22. 1941-1945—Following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, the U.S. officially enters World War Two.
  23. 1945-1949—U.S. military occupation of part of western Germany.
  24. 1945-1955—U.S. military occupation of part of Austria
  25. 1945-1952—U.S. military occupation of Japan
  26. 1945-1949—U.S. military occupation of South Korea
  27. 1945-1991—The Cold War.  U.S. forces are stationed in many parts of the world to contain the power of the Communist Bloc nations led by the Soviet Union and China.
  28. 1945-1949—Over 50,000 U.S. troops are sent to China, initially to aid in the disarmament of Japanese troops following the end of World War Two.  The mission changed to providing aid to the Nationalist Chinese in their war against the Communist Chinese forces of Mao. (part of Cold War)
  29. 1947-1949—U.S. military advisors aid the Greek military in fighting Communist rebels in the Greek Civil War.  The rebels were aided by the Soviet Union, Yugoslavia, and Bulgaria.  (part of Cold War)
  30. 1948-1949—The Berlin Airlift brings supplies to West Berlin, occupied by U.S., British, and French forces.  The airlift is in response to a Soviet Blockade of Berlin designed to force the Allies to abandon Berlin.  The Soviet effort failed. (part of Cold War)
  31. 1950-1953—The Korean War pits U.S. and allied forces against Soviet-backed Chinese and North Korean forces. The fighting ends in 1953, with an armistice, but the war officially never ended. Cross-border violence would periodically erupt along the border. (part of Cold War)
  32. 1955- U.S. military advisors are sent to the new Republic of South Vietnam to aid against the Communist insurgency. (part of Cold War).  This is the beginning of America’s role in the Vietnam War.
  33. 1958—U.S. troops land in Lebanon as an intervention in the first Lebanese Civil War.
  34. 1962— Cuban Missile Crisis.  U.S. blockades Cuba in response to Soviet nuclear missiles based in Cuba.  Nearly sparks World War Three.
  35. 1962—U.S. involvement in the Laotian Civil War begins.  U.S. aids the Laotian government against Communist Pathet Lao rebels and North Vietnamese troops.  This is a part of the larger Vietnam War for the U.S. (part of Cold War)
  36. 1964—U.S. military transport planes fly Belgian troops to the Congo to intervene in the Congolese Civil War.
  37. 1964—The Gulf of Tonkin Incident.  Two U.S. naval ships are attacked by North Vietnamese forces in the waters off of North Vietnam.  The American ships were there as support for a South Vietnamese naval raid on North Vietnam. (part of Cold War)
  38. 1964-1975—U.S. troops officially engage in combat as part of the Vietnam War (part of Cold War).
  39. 1965—U.S. troops intervene in the Dominican Republic to put down a rebellion.
  40. 1966-1969—DMZ War.  An unofficial and little-known extension of the ongoing Korean Conflict.   While the U.S. was distracted by the War in Vietnam, North Korean forces engaged U.S. and South Korean forces in a low-intensity border conflict along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), separating North and South Korea.
  41. 1968—USS Pueblo Crisis—On January 23,  1968, North Korean forces attacked and captured the U.S. Navy reconnaissance ship, the USS Pueblo.  The crew was held captive by North Korea for eleven months.
  42. 1967–The USS Liberty Incident—during the Six-Day War between Israel and the Arab nations, the USS Liberty was attacked June 8, 1967 by Israeli armed forces, killing 34 and wounding more than 170 U.S. crew members.
  43. 1967– U.S. military transport planes again were dispatched to Congo to aid the government suppress a rebellion.
  44. 1973—U.S. engages in a massive airlift of weapons and ammunition to Israel during the 1973 Arab-Israeli War.  The Soviet Union also engages in a massive airlift in support of Syria and Egypt.  U.S. and Soviet naval forces face off in the Mediterranean Sea.  (part of Cold War)
  45. 1975—The Mayaguez Incident.  Considered the last combat action of the Vietnam conflict by American troops.   U.S. Marines attack a Cambodian island in an attempt to rescue the crew of the American ship Mayaguez, which had been seized by Cambodian Communist forces. (part of Cold War)
  46. 1978—From May to June, American transport aircraft fly Belgian and French troops to Zaire (formerly the Congo), to defeat a rebel invasion of Zaire’s Shaba Province.
  47. 1979-1981—U.S.-Iran Hostage Crisis.  The American embassy was occupied by radical Iranian forces and 52 Americans were held hostage for 444 days.  In 1980, the U.S. attempted a military rescue operation which failed miserably.
  48. 1979-1989—The U.S. provided extensive aid to Afghan rebels fighting the Soviet Invasion and Occupation of Afghanistan.  (part of Cold War)
  49. 1980-1988—The U.S. gave intelligence aid and diplomatic support to Iraq in its war against Iran.
  50. 1981—Salvadoran Civil War.  U.S. military advisors are sent to El Salvador to assist the government forces against Marxist rebels aided by Nicaragua and Cuba. (part of Cold War)
  51. 1981—The First Gulf of Sidra Incident occurs in April, when American warplanes clash with Libyan planes over waters near Libya.
  52. 1982—U.S. Marines are sent to Lebanon in August and September as part of a multi-national force assisting with the evacuation of Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) forces from the besieged city of Beirut.  This was a part of the Israeli Invasion of Lebanon in 1982.
  53. 1982-1984–Only nine days after the Marine withdrawal, they were again sent to Lebanon in greater numbers following the massacre of Palestinian civilians in the Shabra and Shatilla refugee camps.  This deployment will last until 1984 and will climax with the Bombing of the Marine Barracks in Beirut in October, 1983.  While in Lebanon, the Marines battled the Amal Shiite militia, Syrian forces, and the new Hezbollah militia.
  54. 1983—In October, the U.S. invaded the island of Grenada to effect a rescue of American medical students there and to overthrow a pro-Soviet and pro- Cuban Marxist government.
  55. 1986—Second Gulf of Sidra Incident.  American forces again clashed with the Libyan military.
  56. 1986—Operation El Dorado Canyon.  In April, American warplanes and naval forces attacked targets in Libya in retaliation for a terrorist bombing against an American target in Berlin.
  57. 1987—During the ongoing Iran-Iraq War (also called the First Persian Gulf War), the USS Stark was struck on May 17 by two Exocet anti-ship missiles fired from an Iraqi F-1 Mirage during the Iran-Iraq War, killing 37 U.S. Navy sailors.  The U.S. did not retaliate.
  58. 1987-1988—U.S. military intervention in the Iran-Iraq War as U.S. naval forces combatted Iranian forces in the Persian Gulf in Operation Nimble Archer, and Operation Earnest Will. During this conflict, the USS Vincennes shot down civilian Iran Air Flight 655.
  59. 1989—In January, American planes again engaged in combat with Libyan planes over the Gulf of Sidra.
  60. 1989—U.S. Intervention in a coup attempt in the Philippines. Known as Operation Classic Resolve, on December 1, U.S. Air Force fighters from Clark Air Base in Luzon assisted the Aquino government to repel a coup attempt. In addition, 100 marines were sent from U.S. Naval Base Subic Bay to protect the United States Embassy in Manila.
  61. 1989- In December, in the U.S. Invasion of Panama, American forces overthrew dictator Manuel Noriega.
  62. 1991—U.S. and other allied forces deployed to Saudi Arabia in response to the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait.  This is known as Operation Desert Shield.
  63. 1991—In January, U.S. and allied forces liberated Kuwait in what became known as the Gulf War or the First Iraq War.  At the time, it was best known as Operation Desert Storm.
  64. 1991-1996—Operation Provide Comfort, an attempt to protect the Kurdish population of northern Iraq from Saddam Hussein.  This operation in effect resulted in an allied occupation of northern Iraq that enabled the Kurds to establish a semi-autonomous state.
  65. 1991—Allied intervention in Zaire.   On September 25–27, 1991, after widespread looting and rioting broke out in Kinshasa, Zaire, Air Force C-141s transported 100 Belgian troops and equipment into Kinshasa. American planes also carried 300 French troops into the Central African Republic and transported evacuated American citizens.
  66. 1992-2003—The No-Fly Zone War against Iraq.  U.S. and British warplanes enforced a no-fly zone over much of Iraq.  These operations frequently resulted in allied attacks on Iraqi air and ground targets.  In effect, this was a low-intensity continuation of the Gulf War.  As the 2003 invasion of Iraq drew closer, the attacks on Iraqi targets continued in order to soften up Iraqi defenses.
  67. 1992-1995—U.S. and allied intervention in Somalia.  While originating as a humanitarian exercise to help the civilian population, it quickly changed into a nation-building attempt that brought American and other allied forces into combat with Somali militias.  It is believed that the first al-Qaida attacks on American targets took place at this time in Somalia as the Jihadi terrorist organization aided the Somali rebels.  The infamous Blackhawk Down incident occurred during this Somali intervention.
  68. 1993-1995—U.S. and NATO intervention in the Bosnian War.  Intervention began in 1993 with the start of a no-fly zone, with actual U.S. combat involvement starting in 1994 with the shooting down of six Serb aircraft.  In August and September of 1995, U.S. and NATO forces engaged in extensive bombing of Serb ground targets in Bosnia.   This helped lead to the Dayton Peace Accords that ended the war.
  69. 1994-1995—U.S. invasion and occupation of Haiti.  While the occupation was peaceful, this is only because the Haitian government collapsed in the face of an imminent U.S. invasion.
  70. 1998—In Operation Desert Fox, U.S. and British forces engage in a major four-day bombing campaign of Iraq from December 16–19, 1998.  This was in response to an Iraqi attempt to assassinate former President George Bush while on a visit to Kuwait. This is a part of the larger No-Fly Zone War.
  71. 1998–Operation Infinite Reach.  On August 20, President Clinton ordered a cruise missile attack against two suspected al-Qaida terrorist training camps in Afghanistan and a suspected chemical factory in Sudan.  This was in response to the bombing of American embassies in Kenya and Tanzania by al-Qaida a few days earlier.
  72. 1999—Kosovo War. U.S. and NATO forces engage in an air war with Serbia in order to liberate the region of Kosovo from Serbia.
  73. 2000—In October, al-Qaida terrorists attack the naval ship USS Cole in the Yemeni port of Aden.
  74. 2001—Hainan Island Incident–On April 1, 2001, a mid-air collision between a U. S. Navy EP-3E ARIES II signals surveillance aircraft and a People’s Liberation Army Navy J-8II interceptor fighter jet resulted in an international dispute between the United States and the People’s Republic of China.  The crisis was resolved peacefully.
  75. 2001—9/11 Terrorist attacks on the U.S. mark the start of the U.S War on Terror.
  76. 2001-Present—War in Afghanistan.  In response to the al-Qaida attacks on the U.S. on September 11, 2001, American and allied forces invade Afghanistan in October, 2001.  The War in Afghanistan becomes the longest official war in U.S. history. (part of the War on Terror)
  77. 2002-Present—Drone strikes on terrorist (al-Qaida and other Jihadist) targets in Yemen begin.  (part of the War on Terror)
  78. 2002-U.S. Special Forces deploy to the Philippines to assist the Filipino government in their fight against Jihadist (and al-Qaida aligned) Muslim rebels. (part of the War on Terror)
  79. 2003-2011—U.S.-led Invasion and Occupation of IraqThe Iraq War resulted in the overthrow of Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein.  (Considered by the Bush Administration to be part of the War on Terror)
  80. 2004-Present—Drone War in Pakistan.  U.S. drones operating out of Afghanistan launch missile attacks on suspected al-Qaida, Taliban, and other Jihadist targets. (part of the War on Terror)
  81. 2006-Present–U.S. Operations against Jihadist (al-Qaida, Islamic Courts, others) forces in Somalia in conjunction with Ethiopian, Ugandan, Somali government, and other allied forces.  U.S. operations include air strikes, drone strikes, Special Forces raids and assistance to allied forces fighting the Jihadist militias. (part of the War on Terror)
  82.  
  83. 2011—Libyan War.  U.S, NATO, and other allied forces aid rebels fighting to overthrow Libyan dictator Muammar Khadafy.
  84. 2011—On May, 2, 2011, U.S. forces conduct a raid into Pakistan and kill Osama bin Laden.  (part of the War on Terror)
  85. 2011—U. S. Special Forces are deployed to Uganda and Central Africa to aid in the hunt for infamous war criminal Joseph Kony and his band of LRA guerrillas.
  86. 2012—Benghazi Attack.  On September 11, 2012, suspected Jihadist militants attacked the U.S. embassy in Benghazi, Libya, killing  four Americans, including the Ambassador. (part of the War on Terror)
  87. 2013—War in Mali—U.S. transport planes ferry French troops as they engage Jihadist forces in northern Mali.  (part of the War on Terror)
  88. 2013– US Air Force planes supported the French in the Bulo Marer hostage rescue attempt in Somalia. (part of the War on Terror)

Over the span of nearly 100 years, America has been engaged in 88 military conflicts.  This list does not include most cases of U.S. forces, usually Marines, going ashore to protect diplomatic missions and such.  It also does not include most cases of CIA-led coups, clashes, and proxy wars, the current Drone Wars being the exception.  More than likely, the next time Memorial Day rolls around, there will be more military engagements to add to this list, and more fallen American service members to mourn.  Let us hope that their sacrifices are not in vain.

Memorial Day Crosses

Memorial Day Crosses

 

General Petraeus and His Place in History

10 Nov

General David Petraeus, perhaps America’s best-known, and most respected military leader since Colin Powell and Norman Schwarzkopf, has resigned his post as Director of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), as the result of an extra-marital affair.  Petraeus gained intense fame and respect for leading American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, serving under both Presidents Bush and Obama.

The affair apparently with Paula Broadwell, the woman who wrote a glowing biography of the general, came to light during a background investigation by the FBI.  While such a revelation is not always an automatic career-killer in civilian life, or even in politics, for both the military and the intelligence services, it is considered a serious security breach.  News reports have General Petraeus tendering his resignation to President Obama on Thursday (two days after the presidential election), and Obama accepting the resignation on Friday, November 09, 2012.

In the post-9/11 wars, General David Petraeus’ career in a way served as a roadmap to those wars against Islamic Jihadists (i.e. the Taliban, al-Qaida, Somalia’s Shabab, among others), as well as the wars against Saddam, Gaddafi, and the proxy wars against Assad and Iran.  He commanded the 101st Airborne Division in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.  From 2007 to 2008, Petraeus commanded all U.S. forces in Iraq, and implemented the controversial, but ultimately successful “surge” of troops into insurgent-infested areas of Iraq, usually in urban areas.  Following his Iraq command, Petraeus was promoted to command the U.S. Central Command (USCENTCOM), headquartered in Tampa, Florida.  In this position, Petraeus oversaw all American operations in the Middle East from Egypt to Pakistan.

General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

General Petraeus and Paula Broadwell

In the summer of 2010, following the resignation of General Stanley McChrystal as commander of forces in Afghanistan, President Obama assigned Petraeus to take over the war in Afghanistan.

David Petraeus retired from the military on August 31, 2011, having reached the highest working rank in the U.S. Army, that of a four-star general.  Following his retirement, the President appointed Petraeus as the Director of the Central Intelligence Agency.  He held this important position in the so-called War on Terror until he offered to resign due to an extra-marital affair.  His resignation was accepted by President Obama on November  9, 2012.

As a result of his various commands and the influence he had on U.S. military and intelligence policy during these post-9/11 wars, General David Petraeus holds a unique place in recent American history.  If he ever writes a book of his wartime work, it will likely be a very informative tome that could shed light on many aspects on the American way of war  in the 21st Century.

 

Is the World On the Brink of Major War?

20 Aug

What on earth is the world coming to?  We now live in a time of war, and rumors of war, and the rumors just keep coming!  A recent article in the magazine Foreign Policy actually postulates what may occur if China and Japan were to fight a naval war over the disputed Diaoyu/Senkaku Islands.  Back when we lived through the Cold War, in a bipolar world, (that means that there were two main superpowers in the world), and most conflicts in the world revolved around the Soviet-American rivalry, the basic calculus was simple:  The two superpowers would keep their allies and satellites in check, and, barring some extraordinarily crazy sparking event, the chances of an actual war between the superpowers would likely not happen due to the threat of mutually assured nuclear destruction.  That also meant that if America’s ally Israel got the upper hand over Soviet-allied Egypt and Syria in the latest Middle Eastern War, the Americans would rein in the Israelis before they could march on Cairo or Damascus and trigger possible Soviet intervention.  Similarly, it was fairly certain that the Soviets would convince Syria to not use its stockpile of chemical weapons on Israel for similar fear of an American intervention.  In many ways, the Cold War rivalry between the U.S. and the Soviet Union kept a lid on many possible conflicts that could have sparked a bigger war.

Well, the Soviet Union is gone now, and we are faced with a multi-polar world.  Make no mistake, the U.S. is still the only legitimate superpower around.  The U.S. can project power literally anywhere in the world with a high degree of certainty of tactical victory.  For example, on a month’s notice in 2001, American and allied forces launched an invasion/liberation of Afghanistan (literally on the other side of the planet from the U.S.), following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.  But other, regional powers are flexing their muscles and making threatening noises, and this will continue to be a reality as those regional powers (such as China, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Russia, India, and others), come into conflict with their neighbors.  Notice that several of the nations named above are neighbors with each other, or at least inhabit the same neighborhood.

In August of 2012, a look at the current wars, border conflicts, and potential international problems that are currently being discussed, and reported on in the news:

Israel is openly debating whether or not to attack Iran.  The Iranians, for their part, continue to develop their controversial nuclear program, while simultaneously we hear their leaders call for the destruction of Israel.

–The United States continues to place increased military forces in the regions surrounding Iran, just in case there is an Israeli-Iranian War.  If such a war breaks out, the U.S. will almost certainly be drawn in.

–The ongoing Syrian Civil War is getting bloodier, and the Assad regime may be getting more desperate.  Speculation has arisen over the possibility of Assad using his stockpile of chemical weapons on either the rebels or on the nations that support them, namely Turkey and Jordan.  Of course, Assad could also just use them on Israel, hoping to gain traction with his own people or with other Arab nations.  All of the above-named anti-Assad nations are friends of the U.S., which has made no bones about intervening if Assad were to use his weapons of mass destruction.

Israel is openly preparing for a possible intervention of their own in Syria if they believe that Assad is going to transfer his chemical weapons to his Hezbollah allies in Lebanon.

Egypt is engaged in a low-level but growing battle to re-assert authority in the Sinai, where Islamic militants are launching more frequent and more deadly attacks on Egyptian, Israeli, and American forces. (The Americans are in the Sinai as part of the Multinational Force & Observers, which has helped keep the peace between Egypt and Israel since the Camp David Accords).

-China, Vietnam, the Philippines, and other Southeast Asian nations are engaged in name-calling and posturing over the contested Spratly Islands.  China has increasingly asserted authority on the islands, even to the point of setting up a small city on one of them.  The military forces of several nations are in the area.  The main reason for this conflict is the belief that the area is rich in oil and natural gas. The United States is a close ally of the Philippines, and is increasingly establishing strong military and diplomatic ties with Vietnam, and any military conflict over these islands would almost certainly the U.S. against the Chinese.

–Similarly, China and Japan are currently engaged in serious name-calling and worse over their contested islands, which the Chinese call the Diaoyu Islands, and the Japanese call the Senkaku Islands.  Some respected publications like Foreign Policy are posting articles speculating on the outcome of a possible Sino-Japanese Naval war in 2012.  Of course, the United States is a close ally of Japan, and any military conflict would almost certainly bring the U.S. on the Japanese side.

–American military forces are still heavily engaged against Taliban forces in Afghanistan, while other U.S. assets continue to deploy against al-Qaida and other Islamist forces throughout the world.

–In Yemen, American trainers continue to aid the Yemeni government while occasional U.S. drone attacks take out al-Qaida operatives.  Several terrorist attacks against American targets have originated out of Yemen in recent years.

– U.S. drone attacks against al-Qaida and other Islamist targets in Pakistan continue unabated.  One estimate places the number of dead from these attacks since 2004 at over 3,000.

–U.S.-funded allies, actively aided by American air and naval forces (and of course, more drone attacks), provide the military muscle in the Somali government’s war against the Islamist and al-Qaida allied Shabab rebels.  These allies include Uganda, Kenya, Burundi, and Ethiopia.

–Following the successful campaign by NATO and other allied nations (Qatar among them), to aid rebels in overthrowing Muammar Gadhafi’s tyrannical regime, several thousand Taureg mercenaries previously employed by Gadhafi went home to northern Mali (with the nice weapons Gadhafi gave them), and commenced to defeat the Malian army and establish a de facto Taureg homeland in northern Mali.  These Taureg (that is the name of their ethnic group) have been infiltrated by the North African branch of al-Qaida and other Islamist groups.  Several other West African nations are contemplating sending a military force to Mali to defeat them.  The United States and other Western nations would likely end up supporting such an intervention with funds, material, and possibly troops.  Oh, and probably drones, as well.

There are a few more international issues that are on the back burner as well, but this list gives a pretty good idea of the precarious situation the world is in right now.  And that is not even mentioning the perpetual worries over Korea!  And, as the Democratic and Republican parties in the United States prepare for their presidential nominating conventions, not a single one of these issues is a major item of discussion for the two presidential candidates.  In fact, a quick look at major news stories in America during the middle of August show a fascination with GOP Vice-Presidential candidate Paul Ryan’s fitness regimen and his six-pack abs.  The major political story on August 20 involves a Republican Senate candidate’s idiotic remarks about rape and conception.  Hardly any mention was made in the news about the recent coalition deaths in Afghanistan, and certainly no debate over the ongoing war there. 

The world is a deadlier place in 2012 than it seemed in 1992, just after the end of the Cold War.  We are on the brink of not just one possible regional war, but several, all with calamitous effects on the world economy, and on world security.

 

 

 

Obama’s Speech on the Death of bin Laden

02 May

Below is the text of President Obama’s Speech announcing the death of Osama bin Laden.  Go to http://www.historyguy.com/obama_bin_laden_dead_speech.htm for the video of his speech and the transcript of the president’s remarks on the killing of bin Laden.

REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT ON OSAMA BIN LADEN

East Room

11:35 P.M. EDT

THE PRESIDENT: Good evening. Tonight, I can report to the American people and to the world that the United States has conducted an operation that killed Osama bin Laden, the leader of al Qaeda, and a terrorist who’s responsible for the murder of thousands of innocent men, women, and children.

It was nearly 10 years ago that a bright September day was darkened by the worst attack on the American people in our history. The images of 9/11 are seared into our national memory — hijacked planes cutting through a cloudless September sky; the Twin Towers collapsing to the ground; black smoke billowing up from the Pentagon; the wreckage of Flight 93 in Shanksville, Pennsylvania, where the actions of heroic citizens saved even more heartbreak and destruction.

And yet we know that the worst images are those that were unseen to the world. The empty seat at the dinner table. Children who were forced to grow up without their mother or their father. Parents who would never know the feeling of their child’s embrace. Nearly 3,000 citizens taken from us, leaving a gaping hole in our hearts.

On September 11, 2001, in our time of grief, the American people came together. We offered our neighbors a hand, and we offered the wounded our blood. We reaffirmed our ties to each other, and our love of community and country. On that day, no matter where we came from, what God we prayed to, or what race or ethnicity we were, we were united as one American family.

We were also united in our resolve to protect our nation and to bring those who committed this vicious attack to justice. We quickly learned that the 9/11 attacks were carried out by al Qaeda — an organization headed by Osama bin Laden, which had openly declared war on the United States and was committed to killing innocents in our country and around the globe. And so we went to war against al Qaeda to protect our citizens, our friends, and our allies.

Over the last 10 years, thanks to the tireless and heroic work of our military and our counterterrorism professionals, we’ve made great strides in that effort. We’ve disrupted terrorist attacks and strengthened our homeland defense. In Afghanistan, we removed the Taliban government, which had given bin Laden and al Qaeda safe haven and support. And around the globe, we worked with our friends and allies to capture or kill scores of al Qaeda terrorists, including several who were a part of the 9/11 plot.

Yet Osama bin Laden avoided capture and escaped across the Afghan border into Pakistan. Meanwhile, al Qaeda continued to operate from along that border and operate through its affiliates across the world.

And so shortly after taking office, I directed Leon Panetta, the director of the CIA, to make the killing or capture of bin Laden the top priority of our war against al Qaeda, even as we continued our broader efforts to disrupt, dismantle, and defeat his network.

Then, last August, after years of painstaking work by our intelligence community, I was briefed on a possible lead to bin Laden. It was far from certain, and it took many months to run this thread to ground. I met repeatedly with my national security team as we developed more information about the possibility that we had located bin Laden hiding within a compound deep inside of Pakistan. And finally, last week, I determined that we had enough intelligence to take action, and authorized an operation to get Osama bin Laden and bring him to justice.

Today, at my direction, the United States launched a targeted operation against that compound in Abbottabad, Pakistan. A small team of Americans carried out the operation with extraordinary courage and capability. No Americans were harmed. They took care to avoid civilian casualties. After a firefight, they killed Osama bin Laden and took custody of his body.

For over two decades, bin Laden has been al Qaeda’s leader and symbol, and has continued to plot attacks against our country and our friends and allies. The death of bin Laden marks the most significant achievement to date in our nation’s effort to defeat al Qaeda.

Yet his death does not mark the end of our effort. There’s no doubt that al Qaeda will continue to pursue attacks against us. We must –- and we will — remain vigilant at home and abroad.

As we do, we must also reaffirm that the United States is not –- and never will be -– at war with Islam. I’ve made clear, just as President Bush did shortly after 9/11, that our war is not against Islam. Bin Laden was not a Muslim leader; he was a mass murderer of Muslims. Indeed, al Qaeda has slaughtered scores of Muslims in many countries, including our own. So his demise should be welcomed by all who believe in peace and human dignity.

Over the years, I’ve repeatedly made clear that we would take action within Pakistan if we knew where bin Laden was. That is what we’ve done. But it’s important to note that our counterterrorism cooperation with Pakistan helped lead us to bin Laden and the compound where he was hiding. Indeed, bin Laden had declared war against Pakistan as well, and ordered attacks against the Pakistani people.

Tonight, I called President Zardari, and my team has also spoken with their Pakistani counterparts. They agree that this is a good and historic day for both of our nations. And going forward, it is essential that Pakistan continue to join us in the fight against al Qaeda and its affiliates.

The American people did not choose this fight. It came to our shores, and started with the senseless slaughter of our citizens. After nearly 10 years of service, struggle, and sacrifice, we know well the costs of war. These efforts weigh on me every time I, as Commander-in-Chief, have to sign a letter to a family that has lost a loved one, or look into the eyes of a service member who’s been gravely wounded.

So Americans understand the costs of war. Yet as a country, we will never tolerate our security being threatened, nor stand idly by when our people have been killed. We will be relentless in defense of our citizens and our friends and allies. We will be true to the values that make us who we are. And on nights like this one, we can say to those families who have lost loved ones to al Qaeda’s terror: Justice has been done.

Tonight, we give thanks to the countless intelligence and counterterrorism professionals who’ve worked tirelessly to achieve this outcome. The American people do not see their work, nor know their names. But tonight, they feel the satisfaction of their work and the result of their pursuit of justice.

We give thanks for the men who carried out this operation, for they exemplify the professionalism, patriotism, and unparalleled courage of those who serve our country. And they are part of a generation that has borne the heaviest share of the burden since that September day.

Finally, let me say to the families who lost loved ones on 9/11 that we have never forgotten your loss, nor wavered in our commitment to see that we do whatever it takes to prevent another attack on our shores.

And tonight, let us think back to the sense of unity that prevailed on 9/11. I know that it has, at times, frayed. Yet today’s achievement is a testament to the greatness of our country and the determination of the American people.

The cause of securing our country is not complete. But tonight, we are once again reminded that America can do whatever we set our mind to. That is the story of our history, whether it’s the pursuit of prosperity for our people, or the struggle for equality for all our citizens; our commitment to stand up for our values abroad, and our sacrifices to make the world a safer place.

Let us remember that we can do these things not just because of wealth or power, but because of who we are: one nation, under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.

Thank you. May God bless you. And may God bless the United States of America.

Source:

http://www.whitehouse.gov/blog/2011/05/02/osama-bin-laden-dead

http://www.historyguy.com/obama_bin_laden_dead_speech.htm

 

Veteran’s Day in America: A Time To Honor Heroes

11 Nov
American Veteran on Veteran's Day

American Veteran on Veteran's Day

Honoring our Heroes on Veteran’s Day

Veteran’s Day is a time to reflect upon the sacrifices, bravery, and patriotism of millions of service members whose call to duty guarantees the freedoms and way of life enjoyed by all Americans.  To my brother, cousins, father, aunt and grandfathers who served, most especially, THANK YOU!

 

Biography: Pervez Musharraf

04 Nov

Pervez Musharraf–(b. August 11, 1943)

Pervez Musharraf , commanding general of the Pakistani military, as well as the current president of Pakistan, is a military dictator who seized power in a military coup on October 12, 1999. In his time as Pakistan’s top general and as its political leader, he has led Pakistan into conflict with India (the Kargil Conflict), supported the Taliban in neighboring Afghanistan, become an ally of the United States against the Taliban after September 11, 2001, fought against rebels in Baluchistan, and against frontier tribes, al-Qaida and the Taliban in the resurgent Waziristan War and the Siege of the Red Mosque. Musharraf has presided over the political fragmentation of his country as he tries to suppress democracy and continue his hold on power especially with his ongoing political conflict with Pakistan’s Supreme Court and his imposition of a State of Emergency, (martial law) in early November of 2007.

Musharraf was born in Nahr wali Haveli, Delhi, British India on August 11, 1943. British India was divided between the newly independent nations of Pakistan and India, and, as Muslims, the Musharraf family migrated from Hindu-dominated India to the Muslim nation of Pakistan, along with millions of other Indian Muslims. His father was a Pakistani diplomat, reaching the position of Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Musharraf graduated in 1956 from Saint Patrick’s School in Karachi, Pakistan, and later attended Forman Christian College in Lahore. Though he is Muslim, it was then common for children of the educated elite to attend such private schools.

Musharraf entered the military in 1964, and served in the 1965 Indo-Pakistani War. He later fought in the 1971 Indo-Pakistani War (a.k.a. the Bangladesh War of Independence). Musharraf does not belong to the largely ethnic Punjabi officer class which dominates the Pakistani army. The Musharraf family are members of the Urdu ethnic group. His rise through the military is notable due to his minority status. In addition to his education as a youth, Musharraf also acquired military training in the United Kingdom. (See also: Indo-Pakistani Wars)

In 1998, General Pervez Musharraf was appointed to the position of Army Chief of Staff by Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. The 1998-1999 Kargil Crisis and conflict, which was overseen by General Musharraf, ended as an embarrassing loss for Pakistan, and brought him into open conflict with the Prime Minister. In October, 1999, Prime Minister Sharif attempted to fire Musharraf, who then led a bloodless coup against Sharif. Immediately following the Musharraf coup, tensions with India increased, though eventually the Musharraf regime worked successfully to ease tensions with India.

Prior to the terrorist attacks on the United States on September 11, 2001, Pakistan supported the Taliban movement in neighboring Afghanistan, but Musharraf decided to work with the United States against the Taliban and al-Qaida as the U.S. and its allies invaded Afghanistan in October, 2001. Musharraf’s stance against Islamic extremists like the Taliban and al-Qaida helped lead to violence within Pakistan as those groups aided frontier tribes oppose the authority of Pakistan’s central government. Traditionally, the tribal groups along Pakistan’s Northwest Frontier have enjoyed a great deal of autonomy, and when Musharraf sent the Pakistani military to the frontier in an attempt to prevent Taliban and al-Qaida infiltration along the border (per American requests), the tribes saw this as a violation of their rights. The Taliban and al-Qaida were more than willing to aid the tribes against the government, and this border conflict became the latest War in Waziristan, as part of the frontier is known. Islamic militants have attempted to assassinate President Musharraf several times, and in the summer of 2007, violence hit the Pakistani capital with the Siege of the Red Mosque. Islamic militants led by Abdul Rashid Ghazi defied government authority, which prompted a violent army siege of an important mosque in Islamabad, resulting in hundreds of deaths.

Musharraf named himself President of Pakistan in June, 2001, and has maintained that post as well as his old position of Army Chief of Staff. The legality of his dual role has brought him into conflict with the Pakistani Supreme Court. Despite the fact that Musharraf allowed a former Prime Minister, Benazir Bhutto to return from exile, he imposed martial law in early November of 2007. This act brought condemnation from many foreign governments, including the United States. Pakistan is at the brink of serious political violence as Musharraf attempts to further consolidate power at the expense of his country’s remaining democratic institutions.


Syed Musharraf Uddin Father

Zarin Musharraf--Mother

Sehba-Wife

Children

BilalSon

Aylaa–Daughter


Profile: Pervez Musharraf--from the BBC

Pervez Musharraf--Wikipedia Article

Pervez Musharraf–World Biography.net (sister site)

The Road to Lal Masjid and its Aftermath–By Hassan Abbas at Global Terrorism Monitor

 

Stormfront: The Consequences of September 11 and America’s Wars Around the World

11 Sep

So, what are the real consequences of September 11, 2001 on how America wages war around the world?  That would seem to be an stupid question with an obvious answer:  The U.S. invaded Afghanistan to retaliate against al-Qaida and its Taliban allies, and later invaded Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from developing weapons of mass destruction and initiating a nuclear (or biological/chemical) 9/11.  (Those are the "official" versions of the reasons, by the way).

What many do not realize, largely because the mainstream media ignores or downplays them, is that the United States (and its allies) have been very, very active militarily around the world since the terrorist attacks of September 11 in their efforts to combat radical Islamic militants.

One of the first publicly acknowledged military efforts (after Afghanistan), was the deployment of U.S. Special Forces troops to the Philippines to aid the government there against the Abu Sayyaf rebels in the largely Muslim southern islands.

Another area the U.S. intervened in was the ongoing struggle in Yemen, an Arab country to the south of Saudi Arabia.  There, some of the tribes in the countryside who traditionally cause trouble for the central government, began working with al-Qaida.  This resulted in the U.S. providing aid to the Yemeni government and occasionally popping fugitive al-Qaida terrorists with Hellfire missiles fired from Predator drone aircraft.

Those Predator drones, by the way, are based in tiny Djibouti, a former French colony across the Mandab Straits from Yemen.  American Special Forces, (and, one would assume, Central Intelligence Agency officers), are based as a quick-reaction force for the entire Horn of Africa region.  A more recent, and so far tactically successful intervention, was American aid for the Ethiopian invasion/intervention against Islamist forces in Somalia in December of 2006. U.S. Special Forces traveled with the Ethiopian Army, and the U.S. military launched air and missile attacks on suspected Somali Islamists and al-Qaida fugitives.

American Special Forces also have aided allied nations in improving their defenses, including the Republic of Georgia (formerly an oppressed region of the late, unlamented Soviet Union), who have their own issues as a neighbor of Russia and the rebellious Muslim Russian region of Chechnya.

During last summer’s war in the Mid-East between Israel and Hezbollah, the U.S. re-supplied the Israeli military with ammunition and other materiel to aid the Israelis in their fight against the Islamic militant army.

The U.S. has also given significant material aid to Lebanon in its recent fight against al-Qaida allies in northern Lebanon.

Al-Qaida of course, has not been idle, as bin Laden’s organization maintains insurgencies against U.S. allies in Saudi Arabia, Pakistan, Thailand, Algeria, Egypt, Libya (yes, the U.S. and Libya kissed and made up, largely because Kaddafy saw the ease with which American forces seized Baghdad), Ethiopia, and is active in undermining government authority in other nations. 

Osama bin Laden’s al-Qaida declared war on America in 1996, and few Americans paid him any attention.  He attacked us in 1998, with the African Embassy bombings, and again in 2000, with an attack on the USS Cole.  The assault on 9/11/2001 finally snapped America out of its comfortable sense of security, and the United States launched its Global War on Terror.  Does anyone doubt that this is truly a "World War?"

We will come back to this theme in the future…

 

The Calm Before The Storm: The World of September 10, 2001

10 Sep

Here it is; the eve of another 9/11 anniversary.  I no longer bother watching the politicians give speeches at Ground Zero, the Pentagon, or in Pennsylvania.  Six years on now, and I look at a changed world.

Prior to September 11, 2001, few Americans, even those who watched the news regularly or read the newspapers would could have told you anything about Osama bin Laden, al-Qaida, or the Taliban if asked.  Never mind that bin Laden had declared war on the U.S. back in 1996, and then followed up with attacks against American Embassies in Africa in 1998 and an attack on the USS Cole in 2000; Americans, as a whole, had no idea what was about to hit us.

In the world of September 10, 2001, America’s (and President Bush’s) primary international fear was China.  A recent collision between American and Chinese military planes had caused a ripple of concern for relations between the two powers.  American students generally cared little for the outside world.  The Middle East was known primarily as the place a lot of oil came from, and the location of Saddam Hussein.  By the way, it is generally forgotten that the U.S. and the U.K. were actively conducting aerial warfare against Iraq, and protecting/occupying a large swath of northern Iraq inhabited by the long-oppressed Kurds.

And then there was Afghanistan.  A country largely ignored by America and the non-Islamic world after the big, bad Soviets ended their war against Islamic Jihadists.  Bin Laden was a part of that Islamic resistance movement, but few Americans outside of the CIA and a few history/military affairs geeks among the civilian population bothered to remember that bin Laden (like Saddam in another war), was once on the side that was shooting at our avowed enemies.  Did that make them our friends?  No, just useful tools to fight and weaken our opponents of the moment.

So what does all this talk of the world as it stood on the day before al-Qaida attacked America really mean?  Only that history often turns on events that have links and connections to related, yet often largely unknown events, movements, and people.

Should Americans have seen bin Laden as a vital threat?  Obviously yes, we should have seen him as the threat he proved himself to be.  Are we any different now?  Has America learned its lesson yet? 

Of course not!  Ask any high school or college history teacher in the U.S.  Americans as a whole do not pay much attention to history (unless presented on the History Channel and features lots of explosions and maybe a glimpse or two of Hitler), and that is an ongoing problem.  How many Americans can answer this question?

Has the U.S. and China ever fought a war against each other?  And if so, can you name the wars?  Can you, Dear Reader of this Blog, answer that question without googling it?

This is not an idle question, because one of the more obvious results of the 9/11 attacks and America’s response has been the now four-year-old War in Iraq.  The current war is often compared and contrasted with the American war in Vietnam.  Is it accurate to compare them?  What are the consequences of America’s collective lack of knowledge of the world and its history?  Middle East Muslims remember and talk about the medieval Crusades like they happened last year.  Most Americans could not even explain what the Crusades were about.  Those questions are best addressed in a blog post for another day.  

The next History Guy Blog post will actually be about 9/11 and what has so far resulted from that horrible day.  Stay tuned!