The End of Combat My Eye


The press made a big deal of it. The president even starred in an Oval Office TV show about the “end to U.S. combat” in Iraq, which was announced on August 31. Mr. Obama said he’d fulfilled a promise to end the war.

Obama’s bit of theater cost less than George Bush’s May 1, 2003 shameless declaration of “mission accomplished,” his circus-act-in-military-flight-suit-to-the-flight-deck of the USS Abraham Lincoln. Yet the president’s speech was just as dishonest.

Just listen to Army Brig. Gen. Jeffery Buchanan, who told National Public Radio for Sept. 19, “Our rules of engagement have not changed.” Indeed, since the “end of combat,” U.S. soldiers have been in at least two fierce shoot outs involving the use of U.S. warplanes. A Sept. 15 battle included “at least” four U.S. helicopter gunships. Another, in Diyala province, saw U.S. planes dropping two 500-pound bombs.

Gen. Buchanan told NPR he “… understands why most people would call this combat.” Most people, general?

Two days after the President’s “combat’s over” routine, Col. Malcolm Frost, the commander of the “advisory” brigade in Diyala, wrote in a note to soldiers’ families, “We will move around Iraq fully protected in armored Strykers and other armored vehicles, wearing full body armor, and fully loaded with ammunition to deal with the enemy …” the New York Times reported.

Col. Frost currently has the same combat soldiers as a combat brigade — but supplied with 51 “advisers.” Since his unit arrived in Iraq in July, in an “advisory” capacity, two of his soldiers have been killed and 13 wounded. Tell the families of the dead that the war is over.

Another soldier was killed Sept. 16 while detonating seized explosives. If these aren’t combat fatalities, I’m the Queen of Moravia.

Today—among the 50,000 U.S. soldiers still occupying Iraq—there are 4,500 “Special Forces” commandos. These Green Berets, Navy Seals, Army Rangers, and “unconventional” or secret assassination (known for PR purposes as “targeted killing”) squads still storm Iraqi houses and villages at night trying to kill “insurgents” and “suspected members of other armed groups,” according to Baghdad reporters for the Times.

As the GoArmy website says, “missions are … sometimes classified.” You might say that the war in Iraq is now entirely classified, since fighting has been declared over by the Commander-in-Chief himself.

Bombings, firefights, nighttime raids and covert operations might be viewed by most people as combat. But with the feel-good peacewash of presidential speech writers, our military occupation of Iraq can be transformed for the deluded into foreign aid.

Mark Twain described our situation well: “Statesmen will invent cheap lies, putting blame upon the nation that is attacked, and every man will be glad of those concise, soothing falsities, and will diligently study them, and refuse to examine any refutations of them; and thus he will by and by convince himself that the war is just, and will thank God for the better sleep he enjoys after this process of grotesque self-deception.”

JOHN LaFORGE is on the staff of Nukewatch, a nuclear watchdog group in Wisconsin, and edits its quarterly newsletter.

October 06, 2015
Vijay Prashad
Afghanistan, the Terrible War: Money for Nothing
Mike Whitney
How Putin will Win in Syria
Paul Street
Yes, There is an Imperialist Ruling Class
Paul Craig Roberts
American Vice
Kathy Kelly
Bombing Hospitals: 22 People Killed by US Airstrike on Doctors Without Borders Hospital in Kunduz, Afghanistan
Ron Jacobs
Patti Smith and the Beauty of Memory
David Macaray
Coal Executive Finally Brought Up on Criminal Charges
Norman Pollack
Cold War Rhetoric: The Kept Intelligentsia
Cecil Brown
The Firing This Time: School Shootings and James Baldwin’s Final Message
Roger Annis
The Canadian Election and the Global Climate Crisis
W. T. Whitney
Why is the US Government Persecuting IFCO/Pastors for Peace Humanitarian Organization?
Jesse Jackson
Alabama’s New Jim Crow Far From Subtle
Joe Ramsey
After Umpqua: Does America Have a Gun Problem….or a Dying Capitalist Empire Problem?
Murray Dobbin
Rise Up, Precariat! Cheap Labour is Over
October 05, 2015
Michael Hudson
Parasites in the Body Economic: the Disasters of Neoliberalism
Patrick Cockburn
Why We Should Welcome Russia’s Entry Into Syrian War
Kristine Mattis
GMO Propaganda and the Sociology of Science
Heidi Morrison
Well-Intentioned Islamophobia
Ralph Nader
Monsanto and Its Promoters vs. Freedom of Information
Arturo Desimone
Retro-Colonialism: the Exportation of Austerity as War By Other Means
Robert M. Nelson
Noted Argentine Chemist Warns of Climate Disaster
Matt Peppe
Misrepresentation of the Colombian Conflict
Barbara Dorris
Pope Sympathizes More with Bishops, Less with Victims
Clancy Sigal
I’m Not a Scientologist, But I Wish TV Shrinks Would Just Shut Up
Chris Zinda
Get Outta’ Dodge: the State of the Constitution Down in Dixie
Eileen Applebaum
Family and Medical Leave Insurance, Not Tax Credits, Will Help Families
Pierre-Damien Mvuyekure
“Boxing on Paper” for the Nation of Islam, Black Nationalism, and the Black Athlete: a Review of “The Complete Muhammad Ali” by Ishmael Reed
Lawrence Ware
Michael Vick and the Hypocrisy of NFL Fans
Gary Corseri - Charles Orloski
Poets’ Talk: Pope Francis, Masilo, Marc Beaudin, et. al.
Weekend Edition
October 2-4, 2015
Henry Giroux
Murder, USA: Why Politicians Have Blood on Their Hands
Mike Whitney
Putin’s Lightning War in Syria
Jennifer Loewenstein
Heading Toward a Collision: Syria, Saudi Arabia and Regional Proxy Wars
John Pilger
Wikileaks vs. the Empire: the Revolutionary Act of Telling the Truth
Gary Leupp
A Useful Prep-Sheet on Syria for Media Propagandists
Jeffrey St. Clair
Pesticides, Neoliberalism and the Politics of Acceptable Death
Joshua Frank
The Need to Oppose All Foreign Intervention in Syria
Lawrence Ware – Paul Buhle
Insurrectional Black Power: CLR James on Race and Class
Oliver Tickell
Jeremy Corbyn’s Heroic Refusal to be a Nuclear Mass Murderer
Helen Yaffe
Che’s Economist: Remembering Jorge Risquet
Mark Hand
‘Rape Rooms’: How West Virginia Women Paid Off Coal Company Debts
Michael Welton
Junior Partner of Empire: Why Canada’s Foreign Policy Isn’t What You Think
Yves Engler
War Crimes in the Dark: Inside Canada’s Special Forces
Arno J. Mayer
Israel: the Wages of Hubris and Violence
W. T. Whitney
Cuban Government Describes Devastating Effects of U. S. Economic Blockade
Brian Cloughley
The US-NATO Alliance Destroyed Libya, Where Next?