News out of Britain is that Prime Minister David Cameron and his cabinet are contemplating air strikes on Syria as if Syrian civilians have not suffered enough at the hands of all combatants in Syria’s four year-old civil war. The bombings mostly likely won’t have much impact on President Bashar al-Assad or the Islamic State in Iraq in the Levant. See “Britain Leans Toward Participating in Airstrikes on Syria” and “Cameron signals he would drop Syria airstrikes vote if Corbyn is Labour leader.”
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James Rosen, a correspondent in McClatchy’s Washington Bureau who covers the Pentagon, noted in a June 13, 2014, dispatch:
“From the fall of Saigon in 1975 to the Benghazi assault in 2012, the Pentagon seemed haunted by the ghosts of past wars gone wrong.” He said Rear Adm. John Kirby, the Pentagon press secretary, “normally unflappable and upbeat, made little effort to hide Pentagon commanders’ shock at the march of Islamist militants and the retreat of Iraqi security forces from Mosul, Tikrit and their environs north of Baghdad.” See “On the front lines in Pentagon press room as war returns to Iraq.”
“I’m not going to be cute about it,” Kirby told reporters, according to Mr. Rosen. “I mean, we’re certainly disappointed by the performance of some Iraqi force units with respect to the challenges that they have faced in the last few days.”
In a statement issued September 14, 2013, U.S. President Barack Obama said, “I welcome the progress made between the United States and Russia through our talks in Geneva, which represents an important, concrete step toward the goal of moving Syria's chemical weapons under international control so that they may ultimately be destroyed.” Mr. Obama added:
This framework provides the opportunity for the elimination of Syrian chemical weapons in a transparent, expeditious, and verifiable manner, which could end the threat these weapons pose not only to the Syrian people but to the region and the world. The international community expects the Assad regime to live up to its public commitments.
While we have made important progress, much more work remains to be done. The United States will continue working with Russia, the United Kingdom, France, the United Nations and others to ensure that this process is verifiable, and that there are consequences should the Assad regime not comply with the framework agreed today. And, if diplomacy fails, the United States remains prepared to act.
Following the Assad regime’s use of chemical weapons to kill more than 1,000 men, women, and children on August 21, I decided that the United States must take action to deter the Syrian regime from using chemical weapons, degrade their ability to use them, and make clear to the world that we will not tolerate their use. In part because of the credible threat of U.S. military force, we now have the opportunity to achieve our objectives through diplomacy. I spoke to Secretary Kerry earlier today and thanked him for his tireless and effective efforts on behalf of our nation. I also spoke to Ambassador Samantha Power who will ably lead our follow-on negotiations at the UN Security Council in New York.
Mr. Obama reiterated his oft-repeated statement that, “The use of chemical weapons anywhere in the world is an affront to human dignity and a threat to the security of people everywhere. We have a duty to preserve a world free from the fear of chemical weapons for our children,” he said. “Today marks an important step towards achieving this goal.”
The Guardian’s Matthew Weaver profiles Eliot Higgins, also known as Brown Moses, a blogger who tracks weapons used in global conflicts from his home in Leicester-England. It’s a great look at how he does.
In a March 21, 2013, post, Mr. Weaver reveals that, Mr. Higgins’ “work on analysing Syrian weapons, which began as a hobby, is now frequently cited by human rights groups and has led to questions in parliament. Higgins' latest discovery of a new batch of Croatian weapons in the hands of Syrian rebels appears to have blown the lid on a covert international operation to arm the opposition,” he writes, adding:
“And he's done it all, largely unpaid, from a laptop more than 3,000 miles away from Damascus, in his front room in a Leicester suburb.”
To read more, please see “How Brown Moses exposed Syrian arms trafficking from his front room.” If you want to follow Mr. Higgins’ work, link to his Brown Moses Blog.
Senate Republicans gave President Barack Obama hell for announcing on January 7, 2013, that former Nebraska senator Chuck Hagel, in photo below, was his choice for Secretary of Defense. He replaces Leon E. Panetta, the 23rd Secretary of Defense.
The Republicans also gave Mr. Hagel, professor at the Edmund A. Walsh School of Foreign Service at Georgetown University and chairman of the Atlantic Council, hell for speaking his mind on Israel, Iran and the Middle East during speeches and interviews over the years. See Fred Kaplan’s January 6, 2013, article in Slate headlined “The Real Reason Republicans Hate Hagel.”
The New York Times reported February 11, 2013, that “the Pentagon's Africa Command now finds itself on a more urgent mission: confronting a new generation of Islamist militants who are testing the United States' resolve to fight terrorism without being drawn into a major conflict.” For more, please see “The Pentagon's Africa Command Finds Itself Confronting a New Generation of Islamic Militants.”