What ever happened to the war on terror?

“As part of a larger restructuring, the US Army also announced it is cutting thousands of posts in roles most heavily involved in counterterrorism. “The mission or the function of counterterrorism has continued, but it just doesn’t have the same limelight and focus that it did,” Javed Ali, a counterterrorism specialist formerly at the FBI, Pentagon, and National Security Council, told Vox.”


Why North Korea dumped trash on South Korea

“North Korean officials have long expressed irritation about balloons coming over from the south containing political information and cultural products banned by the regime. These packets are generally sent over by private individuals, including North Koreans who have defected to the South as well as activists seeking to foment resistance.
Since North Korean people are closed off from the outside world and have little access to political or cultural information, the South Korean balloons are one attempt by activists to combat these constraints. According to North Korean officials, the trash balloons were meant to show South Koreans how annoying these deliveries are and to push back on these efforts as a whole.

“Kim [Jong Un] doesn’t want his people to know about their relative deprivation and the quality of life in the free world. He is more afraid of BTS than US nukes,” Victor Cha, a Georgetown professor of government, told Vox.”


Trump Blames Biden for Never Removing the Tariffs Trump Imposed

“The really frustrating thing about this is that Trump is fundamentally wrong about how tariffs work. He has been for a long time. Taxes on Americans are not going to change China’s behavior. That’s not theoretical. We have six years of real evidence. Tariffs are not saving American manufacturing. The trade deficit didn’t fall like Trump promised it would. China didn’t buy the larger share of American imports that were part of Trump’s supposed “phase one” deal. In the middle of Thursday’s debate, Trump even managed to confuse the trade deficit with the federal budget deficit (a mistake he’s been making for years).
If only Biden were in a position to highlight Trump’s clearly misguided views on trade and tariffs. But that would have required different choices over the past three-plus years (and a stronger debate performance from the president, who struggled at times on Thursday to be articulate).

Biden chose this outcome, and now we’re left with a choice between a candidate who doesn’t understand the fundamentals of trade policy and one who has foolishly gone along with that fantasy for political gain.”


Israel is not fighting for its survival

“Israel’s commitment to complete victory over Hamas has been one major obstacle to peace. To this point, Hamas has proven resilient enough to withstand Israel’s onslaught and tolerant enough of Gazans’ suffering to insist on retaining power, no matter the human cost. Hamas has evinced some interest in trading hostages for Palestinian prisoners, but it has shown none in total surrender. If Israel no longer demanded the latter, then peace might be at hand.”

“World War II analogies figure prominently in this line of argument. Last week, in a column titled, “Do we still understand how wars are won?” the New York Times’s Bret Stephens accused Israel’s critics of historical amnesia.
After all, he notes,the last time the United States fought a war in which its very existence was conceivably at stake, Allied bombers “killed an estimated 10,000 civilians in the Netherlands, 60,000 in France, 60,000 in Italy and hundreds of thousands of Germans,” while the firebombings of Japanese cities and atomic strikes on Hiroshima and Nagasaki killed nearly 1 million Japanese civilians.

Stephens notes that we do not remember Franklin Delano Roosevelt as a genocidal leader. Rather, we fondly remember leaders “who, faced with the awful choice of evils that every war presents, nonetheless chose morally compromised victories over morally pure defeats.”

Today, Stephens writes, Israel finds itself waging such an existential war: Hamas has called for wiping the country off the map, and the Jewish state cannot know security until it destroys its enemy’s “capability and will to wage war,” a task that entails tragedies like the one that claimed 45 civilian lives in Rafah in late May. Rather than threatening to withhold arms transfers to force Israel into appeasing Hamas, Stephens argues, the United States must “understand that [Israel has] no choice to fight except in the way we once did — back when we knew what it takes to win.”

But this line of reasoning is morally and intellectually bankrupt. That we are more horrified by the mass killing of civilians today than we were in 1945 is a mark of progress, not amnesia. And in any case, Israel’s war with Hamas is not remotely analogous to the Allied cause.

By the time the United States and Great Britain began bombing Dresden and Tokyo, Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan were already in the process of mass murdering tens of millions of people. Hamas may have genocidal intentions, but it does not have genocidal capacities. Waging total war on Gaza is not necessary for averting the imminent slaughter of Israeli civilians; to the contrary, doing so risks the lives of the few Israelis whom Hamas is currently in a position to destroy.

Further, the Axis powers genuinely threatened the existence of neighboring states. Hamas is incapable of defending its airspace, let alone conquering Israel. The Israeli government is right to insist that Hamas must not be allowed to launch another October 7, but that attack was only possible due to easily avoidable failures of intelligence and border defense.

More fundamentally, Israel’s ends cannot justify its means in Gaza when those ends are themselves unjust. The Netanyahu government is not fighting to liberate Gazans from despotism and establish the foundations for a two-state solution. To the contrary, it is committed to Palestinian statelessness and dispossession.

The people of Gaza deserve better than Hamas, but the Israeli government has neither the capacity nor the will to give Gazans what they deserve. The best it can do for the moment is stop killing them.”

“It is quite understandable that Israelis do not like the idea of Hamas persisting in Gaza after October 7. No one should. But it does not follow that the very existence of Israel depends on Hamas’s elimination, let alone that these existential stakes give Netanyahu’s government the right to “fight in the way we once did,” even if that involves incinerating Palestinian refugees in their tents.
This is all the more true when one considers that Israel does not actually have a remotely feasible plan for eliminating Hamas, facilitating the formation of a stable successor government in Gaza, or pursuing a lasting peace with the Palestinians.

When the United States bombed Japan and Germany, it was not simultaneously engaged in the settlement of Japanese and German land. The Israeli government, by contrast, has been forcing Palestinian communities in the West Bank off their land, while subjecting the broader territory to a form of apartheid rule.

Establishing a postwar governing authority in Gaza that simultaneously boasts legitimacy in the eyes of its people and cooperates with Israel on security issues would be difficult today under any circumstances. In a context where the Netanyahu government remains committed to expanding settlements — and, in so doing, humiliating Fatah in the West Bank, Palestine’s only alternative power center to Hamas — it is wholly impossible. Until that changes, an uneasy truce with a Hamas-governed Gaza may be the best of Israel’s bad options.

But Netanyahu’s problem isn’t merely that he cannot install a replacement for Hamas without abandoning his coalition partners’ commitment to the West Bank’s annexation. It is also that his military has proven incapable of eliminating Hamas to begin with. As soon as Israeli troops began leaving northern Gaza, the militant group started reestablishing itself, forcing the IDF to return and reengage in fighting. By all appearances, Israel has no viable alternative to Hamas to offer Gaza’s 2 million people beyond unending war and occupation.

Stephens is not wrong that we remember the justice of the Allies’ cause more than the horrors of their war crimes. But the suffering of Dresden and Hiroshima would be harder to rationalize or overlook in a world where neither gave way to peace and prosperity, but rather, to an endless cycle of counterinsurgency wars and the illegal settlement of German and Japanese lands by American religious fanatics.

In Gaza, Israel is not choosing a “morally compromised victory” over a “morally pure defeat.” It’s choosing a morally abominable quagmire. The bereaved parents of Rafah will take no comfort in the thought that hundreds of thousands German and Japanese civilians knew a similar pain in the 1940s. We shouldn’t either.”


The US tests Putin’s nuclear threats in Ukraine

“Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine more than two years ago, US and Western military assistance to the country has followed a pattern.
First, Kyiv asks for a particular weapons system or capability. Washington declines due to concerns about raising the risk of escalation with Russia. Vladimir Putin then makes vague threats involving his nuclear arsenal. Ukraine’s advocates respond by spending months making their case in the media. One or several European allies come around to giving the Ukrainians what they want, and then eventually the US does as well.

This is more or less what happened with the debate over providing Ukraine with battle tanks, Patriot air defense systems, F-16 fighter jets, and long-range ATACMS, among other systems.”


France flexes navy muscles to show Putin (and US) its war power

France flexes navy muscles to show Putin (and US) its war power