Leonard Cohen - The Future
This Week in War. A Friday round-up of what happened and what’s been written in the world of war and military/security affairs this week. It’s a mix of news reports, policy briefs, blog posts and longform journalism.
- More than 5000 people have died in the Central African Republic (CAR) in the last 9 months, according to the AP’s tally. The AP admits this is probably only a portion of the real number.
- About 1500 more UN troops will head to CAR next week.
- CAR is the crisis that never makes headlines.
- Libya has accused Sudan of sending weapons to Islamists in Tripoli and expelled the Sudanese military attache.
- The UN helicopter that crashed in South Sudan last month was shot down.
- Peacekeepers in Somalia used their hospital connections to target vulnerable women and girls for sexual assault and rape.
- With the killing of Al-Shabab leader Ahmed Abdi Godane has been confirmed, the group chose a new leader — Ahmad Umar.
- Drone footage surveys the extent of damage in Gaza.
- Israel has ordered investigation into five incidents during the latest Gaza war, including the deaths of the four boys playing soccer on the beach.
- CrisisGroup analyzes the importance of Aleppo in the Syrian civil war.
- The largest Syrian rebel group, Ahrar al-Sham, lost nearly all of its leadership in an unexplained explosion.
- BuzzFeed profiles a smuggler who has brought thousands of foreign fighters into Syria.
- The Nusra Front, an al-Qaeda linked Syrian group, has released 45 peacekeepers.
- Yemen is pursuing talks with the Houthi rebels.
- A transcript of President Obama’s remarks on ISIS and strategy from Wednesday.
- And… Obama, airstrikes and that tricky War Powers Act.
- The Pentagon is authorized to proceed with leadership targeting as a tactic against ISIS, with Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi at the top of the hit list.
- Partnerships against ISIS bring their own complications.
- Kurdish Peshmerga forces make advances against ISIS with the help of US airstrikes.
- The Washington Post keeps a running tally of US strikes against ISIS.
- Looking at the legal rationale offered up by the administration for conducting strikes in Syria.
- A more in-depth look at what was on the ISIS laptop obtained by journalists.
- ISIS may have taken anti-tank weapons from Syrian rebels.
- Tim Arango, the Baghdad Bureau Chief for the New York Times did a Reddit AMA.
- In the thirteen years (this week) since the 9/11 attacks, how has al-Qaeda changed? It has been weakened but it hasn’t been defeated.
- The Iraqi parliament approved a new government headed by Haider al-Abadi.
- Qatar confirms the detention of two British men researching migrant labor issues.
- Afghanistan’s election results are likely coming next week.
- Presidential candidate Abdullah Abdullah has already said he will not accept the official results.
- Pakistan is digging a trench along the border with Afghanistan.
- Imran Khan marks a month of protests — demonstrations which have wearied Pakistan’s capital city.
- Luhansk counts its dead.
- Russia still has 1000 troops in Ukraine and 20,000 at the border.
- The EU tightens Russia sanctions.
- Mexican journalist Karla Silva was savagely beaten for her critical reporting.
- Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) says the declassified CIA torture report might not be released until November.
- We already know, though, that CIA waterboarding of top terrorism suspects involved “holding them underwater until the point of death.”
- Zelda, the Dear Abby of the NSA.
- In 2008, Yahoo! ended its legal battle against complying with the PRISM program because the government threatened a $250,000/day non-compliance fine.
- An appeals court ruled that Jose Padilla’s 17-year sentence was too lenient and revised it to 21 years.
- Crowdsourcing a catalogue of all the guns of World War One.
Photo: Bambari, Central African Republic. June 2014. A Moroccan peacekeeper with the UN’s MINUSCA peacekeeping force on patrol. Catianne Tijerina/UN.
These photographs by Rebecca Litchfield make it seem as if the apocalypse has come and gone and the world is in complete ruins. Not quite. They’re actually photographs of countries and places that were a part of the former Soviet Union. The forgotten decay is haunting.
It was the time of unraveling. Long afterward, in the ruins, people asked: How could it happen?
It was a time of beheadings. With a left-handed sawing motion, against a desert backdrop, in bright sunlight, a Muslim with a British accent cut off the heads of two American journalists and a British aid worker. The jihadi seemed comfortable in his work, unhurried. His victims were broken. Terror is theater. Burning skyscrapers, severed heads: The terrorist takes movie images of unbearable lightness and gives them weight enough to embed themselves in the psyche.
It was a time of aggression. The leader of the largest nation on earth pronounced his country encircled, even humiliated. He annexed part of a neighboring country, the first such act in Europe since 1945, and stirred up a war on further land he coveted. His surrogates shot down a civilian passenger plane. The victims, many of them Europeans, were left to rot in the sun for days. He denied any part in the violence, like a puppeteer denying that his puppets’ movements have any connection to his. He invoked the law the better to trample on it. He invoked history the better to turn it into farce. He reminded humankind that the idiom fascism knows best is untruth so grotesque it begets unreason.
It was a time of breakup. The most successful union in history, forged on an island in the North Sea in 1707, headed toward possible dissolution — not because it had failed (refugees from across the seas still clamored to get into it), nor even because of new hatreds between its peoples. The northernmost citizens were bored. They were disgruntled. They were irked, in some insidious way, by the south and its moneyed capital, an emblem to them of globalization and inequality. They imagined they had to control their National Health Service in order to save it even though they already controlled it through devolution and might well have less money for its preservation (not that it was threatened in the first place) as an independent state. The fact that the currency, the debt, the revenue, the defense, the solvency and the European Union membership of such a newborn state were all in doubt did not appear to weigh much on a decision driven by emotion, by urges, by a longing to be heard in the modern cacophony — and to heck with the day after. If all else failed, oil would come to the rescue (unless somebody else owned it or it just ran out).
It was a time of weakness. The most powerful nation on earth was tired of far-flung wars, its will and treasury depleted by absence of victory. An ungrateful world could damn well police itself. The nation had bridges to build and education systems to fix. Civil wars between Arabs could fester. Enemies might even kill other enemies, a low-cost gain. Middle Eastern borders could fade; they were artificial colonial lines on a map. Shiite could battle Sunni, and Sunni Shiite, there was no stopping them. Like Europe’s decades-long religious wars, these wars had to run their course. The nation’s leader mockingly derided his own “wan, diffident, professorial” approach to the world, implying he was none of these things, even if he gave that appearance. He set objectives for which he had no plan. He made commitments he did not keep. In the way of the world these things were noticed. Enemies probed. Allies were neglected, until they were needed to face the decapitators who talked of a Caliphate and called themselves a state. Words like “strength” and “resolve” returned to the leader’s vocabulary. But the world was already adrift, unmoored by the retreat of its ordering power. The rule book had been ripped up.
It was a time of hatred. Anti-Semitic slogans were heard in the land that invented industrialized mass murder for Europe’s Jews. Frightened European Jews removed mezuzahs from their homes. Europe’s Muslims felt the ugly backlash from the depravity of the decapitators, who were adept at Facebooking their message. The fabric of society frayed. Democracy looked quaint or outmoded beside new authoritarianisms. Politicians, haunted by their incapacity, played on the fears of their populations, who were device-distracted or under device-driven stress. Dystopia was a vogue word, like utopia in the 20th century. The great rising nations of vast populations held the fate of the world in their hands but hardly seemed to care.
It was a time of fever. People in West Africa bled from the eyes.
It was a time of disorientation. Nobody connected the dots or read Kipling on life’s few certainties: “The Dog returns to his Vomit and the Sow returns to her Mire / And the burnt Fool’s bandaged finger goes wabbling back to the Fire.”
Until it was too late and people could see the Great Unraveling for what it was and what it had wrought.
Queen Elizabeth I (Oil on wood), c.1575.
|—||Will Rogers (via moralanarchism)|