Open Thread – 30 April 2016


A couple of things:

  • The US armed forces seldom criminalize error or failure.  We do not shoot commanders for failure or for ineptitude.  That is not to say that we do not punish error and failure.  In a system that functions on the basis of winnowing out (up or out) less than perfect performers at every successively higher level of promotion and assignment of duties, a written reprimand or letter of admonition placed in a personnel record is a career ending event.  This is not a small matter for someone who has never had any other occupation.  That is what happened in the DoD investigation into the AC-130 attack on the Medecins sans Frontieres (MSF) hospital in Kunduz.  If the investigation had determined that the attack on the hospital had been deliberate, then, in the US system, criminal charges would have been possible under US military law (UCMJ).
  • The recent behavior and statements of MSF with regard to the incident in Kunduz and in Syria at Aleppo raise serious questions as to whether this medical charity can still be thought of as a neutral party in the wars or if it has come to have a political agenda.  The insistence that the Kunduz attack should be investigated by an entity outside the US government is just foolish.  There is no indication at all that DoD did not do an adequate job in the investigation of the Kunduz attack.  If MSF think that the US is going to subject its operations and people to some international body for investigation they have become detached from reality.  pl
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105 Responses to Open Thread – 30 April 2016

  1. Degringolade says:

    In last past life, I worked in rapid diagnostics and spent quite a bit time in Thailand (language skills learned back in the day actually having civilian use) setting up a factory for production. When I was out and about doing clinical trials, I got to know the MSF folks in Thailand.
    These folks do have a political agenda. They push their weight around in areas that have only a tangential relationship to their stated goals. I do not like the epithet “Social Justice Warrior” but in a sense, MSF is SJW writ large.
    Spent a couple of quite pleasant evenings with reasonably senior MSF folks. They were pleasant, very well educated, very insulated creatures who’s worldview was that the US was evil and why didn’t I just see that all oppression in the world emanated out of DC?
    Since they were buying the food and drinks, and one of them was an absolute babe, I listened. Obviously, I did not take them up on their offer to help fight against the twin evils of capitalism and imperialism

  2. turcopolier says:

    You had been an SF medic? I am surprised that you did not humor her for a few days. pl

  3. bks says:

    Everyone who takes an active role in world affairs has a political agenda. Social Justice is as American as apple pie. Tom Paine’s Agrarian Justice is more radical than anything proposed by Bernie Sanders.

  4. Degringolade says:

    I did, my attempts at seduction fell flat.
    One of the many tragedies of my life.

  5. turcopolier says:

    The point is that MSF in its anti-Americanism is showing itself to be an adversary of the US. pl

  6. Fred says:

    “…it has come to have a political agenda.” that certainly seems to be the case.

  7. Andy says:

    I agree completely. MSF was very quick to publicly claim the AC-130 attack was a war crime, yet were relatively muted in their response to what appear to be much more deliberate targeting of their facilities in Syria by non-US forces. I think we know that the attacks in Syria will not be investigated by anyone involved, much less an international body.
    For all its faults, the US military is still the most transparent in the world and more likely than any other to publicly hold its personnel accountable for mistakes. That’s not to suggest we do a good enough job in meeting an ideal standard, but can anyone seriously imagine the Russian MOD or the Chinese MND releasing a report like this one?

  8. Andy says:

    BTW, PL, have you seen the ISIL head cam video released by Vice News yet?
    The video states it was from a battle in March, but it was actually in mid-December. Here is some footage by Kurdistan24 from the Peshmerga side of the battle that shows the aftermath, including the destroyed vehicle featured in the ISIS video:
    The post-battle portion starts about 3:30 into the video.

  9. Babak Makkinejad says:

    In Love, as well as in War, offense is always the best.
    You should have said something to the effect that Capitalism had improved the lot of more people in more countries than MSF or the ICRC.
    The would get them all mad at you and their (and her) juices flowing.
    Success might still have been difficult by more likely than not – otherwise.

  10. turcopolier says:

    Who said anything about love? pl

  11. LeaNder says:

    “doing clinical trials”?
    could you elaborate.
    sorry, I may well support a local equivalent of MSF, if you are referring to Medicines Sans Frontiers and not Mobile Strike Forces.
    I did by the way, before the aftermath of 9/11 somewhat politicized me, concentrate merely on politics among us everyday humans. My more general quite possible misguided impression was, it started there.

  12. LeaNder says:

    maybe not

  13. robt willmann says:

    Once again showing that politics should be more or less local, “Iraqi officials declared a state of emergency for all of Baghdad Saturday [today] after protesters loyal to popular Shiite cleric Muqtada al-Sadr breached the heavily fortified Green Zone, home to government buildings and foreign embassies, including the American one”–
    The people also broke into the parliament building, although the “parliament” is not in session. Muqtada al-Sadr is sounding as if he is preparing to run for political office in the U.S. this election season: “Moments before it was breached, Sadr gave what appeared to be an ultimatum, Reuters reported. ‘Either corrupt (officials) and quotas remain or the entire government will be brought down and no one will be exempt from that,’ he said.”

  14. pmr9 says:

    Seymour Hersh’s most recent interviews provide some updates on the story of the chemical profile of the sarin used in Ghouta, recently summarized on SST by David Habakkuk.
    1. Hersh states that the US had known for four months before the Ghouta incident that the opposition had sarin. That matches the likely time of Mokhtar Lamani’s report to the UNSG that Nusra was bringing what appeared to be a nerve agent through the border at Azaz.
    2. Syria was trying to get rid of its sarin stocks before the Ghouta attack, but at that time the US was not prepared to meet the costs of disposal.
    3. He names Sir Peter Wall, then the chief of the UK defence staff, as the UK official who briefed General Dempsey that the Porton Down lab had shown that the Ghouta sarin was not from Syrian military stocks.
    4. Dempsey told Obama that he’d testify to Congress (and prime them to ask the question) that the sarin wasn’t from the Syrian military.
    5. When Syrian military stocks of the sarin precursor DF were transferred to the MV Cape Ray (the ship kitted out for CW disposal by the US Army’s Edgewood Chemical Biological Center) in 2014, the US was able to undertake its own chemical analysis of these stocks and to confirm that they didn’t match the Ghouta sarin.
    There is, as David Habakkuk has pointed out, a very narrow time window between 29 August when the House of Commons was assured by the UK Joint Intelligence Committee and the Prime Minister that there no evidence for an opposition CW capability and the evening of 30 August when it is reported that Obama decided to call off the attack on Syria having been briefed by Dempsey. Unfortunately it seems impossible to get an MP or a journalist to ask questions about this in the UK.

  15. rjj says:

    “term of art”

  16. LeaNder says:

    No it didn’t.
    But here you seem to leave your usual or for that predominantly rational pattern:
    “The[y] would get them all mad at you and their (and her) juices flowing.
    Success might still have been difficult by more likely than not – otherwise”
    Never mind I am surely interrupting some an exchange between, hard to guess of what kind, shared states of mind.

  17. K says:

    MSF has always been an arm of the French intelligence service. In many ways that does explain the volunteers it recruits. One of the major problems of NGOs is to limit infiltration of its organization by intelligence operatives. (been there, done that)

  18. jld says:

    A clever solution most of the ME problems (at last…)

  19. JJackson says:

    plI agree that anyone who thinks the US would provide any other party access to the data needed to investigate is living in cloud cuckoo land. But why should they believe the accused’s account of events is unbiased. As I recall the Iraqis and Iranians claimed they did not have a nuclear weapons program for quite a while, and did allow outside inspection, but that did not stop the US from believing otherwise. Why exactly should the US military be above all suspicion. It is not that I doubt this report it is just that I see some of the things the police and other institutions have tried to cover up and think you are asking a lot more trust than I have seen reciprocated. There are not many, if any, branches of my government I trust including some of the reports from the Army.

  20. Mark Pyruz says:

    As this is an open thread, will relate the following personal experience:
    I happen to reside a few minutes away by motorcycle from the site where Donald Trump gave a speech Friday in Burlingame California. While I’m used to such protest scenes taking place in San Francisco, I am not used to seeing such in Burlingame.
    There is much I disagree with concerning Trump the candidate. While I am not a muslim (mom raised us Catholic), I generally find myself defending Muslim-Americans based upon the Constitution, a document I have sworn allegiance to in the past, with conviction I might add. I’ve also until recently worked closely for eight years with a Muslim American working at the five-sided building. I know that the highest level staffs at the place have the highest regard for my former colleague. I think its grossly unfair to such people that Trump adopts such public positions against this group of peoples.
    However, that said, the use of Mexican national flags at the Burlingame protest, and the forced improvised ingress route for Trump into the hotel put me off. By unexpected chance I rode my motorcycle through the periphery of the northernmost law enforcement tactical deployment and was saddened that it has come to this, so close to home.

  21. LG says:

    Ive always found the founder of MSF, Bernard Kouchner, similar to the neocons in the US, who started off as Trotskyists and ended up in the right. Kouchner too was a member of the communist party and friends with Castro and is now part of the bomb Iran gang.

  22. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Right you are.
    “all’s fair in love and war” – in certain important situations, any method of achieving one’s objective is justifiable.
    The attractive Frenchwoman would not have been impressed by a quiescent man who was trying to gain her favors by not opposing her opinions.
    Rather, she would have likely been incensed by a man who denigrated her – and her companions’ – cherished notions – and her emotions would have gone from contempt to anger to – potentially – something else.
    Fortune, like women, smiles on bold men.

  23. turcopolier says:

    The US armed forces were not “the accused.” We freely admitted responsibility and investigated to determine what happened. Whether or not MSF or anyone else believes the results is irrelevant. The CENTCOM commander informed the public of the result of the investigation. If they choose not to believe, too bad for them. “Above suspicion?” Suspicion of what? Of a deliberate attack? If you think that the US armed forces deliberately attacked the hospital in Kunduz you are a simpleton. Think about it. What possible reason would we have for doing that? The facts of the matter were freely admitted. I am not asking for trust at all and never expect it. As for the Bushie IO against Iraq that was deliberate propaganda. you know that. pl

  24. turcopolier says:

    The DGSE is not interested in fostering anti-US attitudes. pl

  25. msf says:

    When one of the co-founders of MSF became foreign minister in the
    sarkozy government in France, has been a vocal advocate for humanitarian war, supported the ouster of Saddam Hussein in 2003 and advocated war against Iran in 2008 over the nuclear issue I found it difficult to consider MSF as anti-American. Kouchner has all of the spots of full red blooded US neocon.
    Now I do not consider the neocons as American patriots but they have certainly wrapped themselves in our flag. In any case MSF has never looked anti-American to me. Perhaps some of their personnel in Kundoz who experienced that assault came to believe that attack was deliberate but that comes down to the opinion of some local workers who certainly did not have day to day contact with the main organization.

  26. turcopolier says:

    “MSF has never looked anti-American to me” Thanks for your opinion. pl

  27. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I think you are missing the essential point:
    One has to beat one’s proverbial (intellectual) chest in front of the other males by taking a confidently contrarian viewpoint to impress the female that he is a hyper-confident – and thus worthy – mate.

  28. Charles Michael says:

    Not anti-us, generaly sure
    but sometimes some have been suspicious of US taking some revenge on the french interests in Africa (Ivory Coast) after the Chirac-de Villepin stance anti Irak invasion in 2003.
    As Dick Cheney famously said: “we will ignore Russia, forgive Germany and punish France”.

  29. The Beaver says:

    Surprisingly , it is a known fact that Syrian MSF Hospitals keep their locations secrets to avoid being bombed and they operate w/o the Syrian govt permission in areas controlled by non-govt opposition groups ( whether it is Idlib or Maarat al-Numan or Aleppo) and yet they are adamant that it is the SAAF who did the bombing deliberately.
    Mego Terzian can speak from both sides of his mouth !

  30. Charles Michael says:

    Kouchner had a row with his co-founders, much more radicals, of Medecins du Monde who then created MSF.
    Kouchner a very pure borg was named gauleiter of Kosovo, denied jokingly human organs trafficking, then was involved in rather shaddy consultancy with Omar Bongo (hereditary dicatorship).
    Sionist, muslim hater, his wife Christine Okrent has been participating at a Biedelberg meeting.
    this is French elites for you, any similarity with what you have to endure in USA is not fortuitous.

  31. Charles Michael says:

    Yes, there is that.
    But that’s not all: you have NGOs definitively taking side in conflict area.
    You have NGOs created and financed by foreign states or institutes. A person of the World Bank, who had been accointed to Wolfovich for 5 years telled me as much.
    and you have all kind of predators from pedophiles to gentle vultures.

  32. crf says:

    The statement is a pointed reminder to EU politicians and citizens that the EU has no army, and so cannot enforce its will on how skirmishes in the battlefield should be fought (within the collective will of its member nations). The United States sets the rules of whatever war it enters. The Euros are bit players and that grates on many of their intelligentsia (surely including much of MSF’s leadership).
    So the US is not really the intended target of MSF, and I’m not sure MSF is detached from reality. It’s all to aware of the reality that Europe is subordinate to the US, and it doesn’t like that.

  33. BraveNewWorld says:

    The plan to partition Iraq and Syria and pretty well any country that has Muslims came from Israel long before Ukraine became some thing that North Americans payed attention to. The NYT has long been a mouth piece of the Zionists.

  34. Fred says:

    Tom Paine is hardly an SJW. This is more in line with the modern activities of what is generally called an SJW:

  35. Lefty_Blaker says:

    Do you have a good sources that describe the Kanduz attack and the results of the DoD investigation? From what I initially read about the incident it would appear to me that the MSF had some pretty good reasons to be very upset with the bombing and that it could be construed that this mistake that went on I think for some time could have more nefarious motives. Like retribution for MSF treating Taliban. I am not saying this was the case but I remember seeing references to this notion after the attack occurred.
    My second comment is more general. One of the reason me I Value SST so much is the critical view of US foreign policy that is expressed here by so many seasoned veterans of US military and government service. Much of the discussion hinges on the view that the US actions often work to support the Borg and not the actual interests of the greater US. If the MSF has a critical, skeptical view of what the US does overseas, how is that different from views expressed at SST and hence why would it be subject to criticism when similar views are so often expressed at SST?
    I am also a bit perplexed by your defense of the DoD as seemingly always acting with integrity in such investigations and events when again it is often discussed here how the military is compromised by the Borg state. Maybe I am not understanding correctly the influence that powerful political entities can have on the military, but it seems that many sectors of the government, including the military, can succumb to the influence of the Borg. Would this be your view as well? I mean no disrespect in my comments. I am merely trying to understand your perspective in this case and in general when it comes to the influence over and control of the military by the Borg.

  36. All,
    I’m of the opinion that the US strike on the hospital was the result of a monumental screw up and absolute breakdown of command and leadership. Yesterday Degringolade offered a link to the statement of an unidentified SF ODA Detachment Commander who was near Kunduz at the time of the bombing. His statement is so on point that I think it’s worth repeating:
    Moral Cowardice
    When an ODA’s mission runs headlong into national strategy, and the Detachment asks for guidance on the level of commitment and receives nothing back over a 96 hour period, that’s an abject failure of leadership. Inaction or indecision does, however, enable convenient political expedience, where one can reap the rewards of success without facing the responsibility and consequence of failure. Without commitment to a particular course of action or strategy chosen by a subordinate, a leader can smile for the camera while handing out an award, or sidestep the bailiff when the gavel drops on the judge’s bench No fewer than three times did [redacted] call and ask for the level of commitment from SOTF, who called SOJTF, who called COM-RS. Sadly, the only sounds audible were the sounds of crickets in the PHQ center square, though those were hard to hear over the gunfire. “How far do you want to go?” is not a proper response to “How far do you want us to go?” It’s not a strategy, and in fact, it’s a recipe for disaster in that kinetic of an environment. I learned a great lesson from the Detachment Commander of ODA [redacted] brought [redacted] into country during the initial invasion of 2001, and that was never to let your men leave the wire without a task, purpose and end-state. How have we as a force, as a group of officers, become so lost from the good lessons that our mentors taught us? I will tell you how. It is a decrepit state that grows out of the expansion of moral cowardice, careerism and compromise devoid of principle, exchanged for cheap personal gain. We owe the man on the ground more than that, because for him, the decisions that he makes hopefully lands him somewhere between the judge’s gavel and the enemy’s bullet. However, the decisions that he makes off of the indecision of those above him most certainly leads to no middle ground.

  37. turcopolier says:

    “had some pretty good reasons to be very upset with the bombing and that it could be construed that this mistake that went on I think for some time could have more nefarious motives. Like retribution for MSF treating Taliban” Well, Lefty, apparently you cannot read English well or cannot be bothered with seeking actual facts. The attack was made by an AC-130. This aircraft has no capability to bomb anything. It is a conversion of a C-130 cargo plane into a gunship that has various weapons on it but has no ability to “bomb” anything. The aircraft’s weapons are all on the left side. The aircraft flies in circles around the target while shooting at it. This aircraft has a long endurance time and can fly around in circles for a long time. Once it starts shooting at a target it continues until a desired amount of damage is done. Get the picture? One aircraft flying in a circle with its various guns shooting at this building. You could have known that if facts mattered to you but obviously only political truth matters to you. I criticize US policy here because I think it has often been mistaken in the Bush and Obama administrations. Unlike you I do not think the US is an evil country. To attack a hospital because it might be treating enemy wounded is a despicable act so degraded and dishonorable that for you or MSF to suggest that American soldiers did that is an insult so basic that what you have done is to accuse the US armed forces of being a criminal organization in the way that the Waffen SS was a criminal organization. Such an attack is clearly a crime under US military law and I believe an order to do that would be refused. For the armed forces to accept a mistaken foreign policy on the part of an administration is one thing but to carry out criminal and dishonorable acts at the order of a mistaken policy would be an evil thing. You obviously have the usual leftist contempt for soldiers as de-humanized automatons. I keep this blog to help my country and our armed forces not to injure them. You obviously mistake me for someone who I am not. pl

  38. charly says:

    Is this sarcasm?

  39. turcopolier says:

    No. I do not think the French government or its intelligence services are enemies of the US. pl

  40. charly says:

    Kouchner left MSF to form MdM when the Boatpeople happened
    MSF was founded in the Biafra “troubles”. That happened before i was born so it is a bit hard to understand how it felt back then but my guess is that it makes you unlikely to love the American state. Besides it is a typical slightly leftist, European organization that gets government money from the Third World aid department. It is unlikely that they would be pro-American.

  41. turcopolier says:

    Charles Michael
    Cheney has not been in government for some time now. pl

  42. turcopolier says:

    The Boatpeople fled TO the US in vast numbers, not away from it. In the Nigerian War the US was very pro Ibo. You should learn some history.

  43. cynic says:

    What is actually ‘special’ about special forces? Are they not what used to be called light infantry?

  44. turcopolier says:

    “The primary mission of the Army Special Forces is to train and lead unconventional warfare (UW) forces, or a clandestine guerrilla force in an occupied nation” wiki on US Army Special Forces. Does that sound like “light infantry?” The 75th Infantry Regiment (Ranger) are “light infantry” in the sense you probably mean. The counterterrorism commandos of Delta and Seal Team 6 are direct action forces like the SAS. US Army Special Forces (Green Berets) will usually be found with foreign guerrillas or similar forces. I am proud to say that I was/am one such. The carefully selected and trained “quiet professionals” in the ranks are what is special. pl

  45. cynic says:

    Thank you. I read somewhere that the American ‘special’ force is about as large as the whole British army. Why so many? That seems like a lot of Lawrences of many Arabias.
    Do they actually pretend to be opposition forces in order to attack them in the ‘Gangs and Counter Gangs’ manner promoted by Brig. Kitson? If so, why hasn’t ISIS and the other terrorist groups been infiltrated and wiped out by now, unless they really are on the other side and only pretending to fight them?

  46. turcopolier says:

    Asinine prattle. I thought you had asked me a serious question. USSOCOM (80,000) probably has more people than the British army
    US Army Special forces is a much, much smaller organization. (7,000) pl

  47. cynic,
    A full strength SF group has 72 operational detachments of 12 men each for a total of 864. That is 100% strength which is seldom reached. There are 5 active duty groups and 2 smaller groups (only 3 battalions vs 4 in the active duty groups) in the National Guard and Army Reserves. The support tail is pretty damned small in all the groups. There is no artillery or any other kind of heavy weapons in SF. They are nothing like conventional infantry or the “operators” of JSOC.

  48. SAC Brat says:

    I recently finished reading “Quartered Safe Out Here” by George MacDonald Fraser. Thanks for the recommendations to read it. A good read and well written. It reminded me of the some of the mechanics I have worked with over the years. Now on to the Flashman series.

  49. Ishmael Zechariah says:

    Are you stating commonly accepted theory, theory supported by someone else’s experimental results, or observations from your own field work?
    Ishmael Zechariah

  50. Charles Michael says:

    I was just reporting some SDECE gossips, circa 2007.

  51. YT says:

    Dr. Babak: the Guru of Love…

  52. turcopolier says:

    OK. One more f—–g time. SOCOM and Special Forces are not the same things. pl

  53. Babak Makkinejad says:


  54. YT,
    Oh no, he’s the pompitous of love… Maurice.

  55. euclidcreek says:

    Sweet epismitology.

  56. turcopolier says:

    Euclid Creek
    Epistemology. pl

  57. rjj says:

    This is a systems check. Came across Edward Erickson in some documentary years ago. Wanted to hear more of what he had to say. Most historians either annoy or anesthetize. This guy does neither.
    Anybody know his work?

  58. A.I.Schmelzer says:

    There were some differences though.
    1: US was preinformed of the MSF position in Kunduz by MSF. R+6 has not been informed by MSF were their people were operating.
    2: MSF is quite heterogenous regarding the USA, and some feel betrayed if the US attacks them.
    3: MSF in Syria was a bit of a special case anyway, and was very much taking sides against Assad by pretty exclusively treating various Anti Assad forces (with a preference for Unicorns). By doing so, they violated MSF central policy, and there were probably warnings from MSF central that they should not do so. MSF Afghanistan operated according to how MSF central wants it to operate, and thus was entitled to much greater support from MSF central in airing its grievances. MSF central is also kind of tight with French intel services (these hospitals do generate some really usefull data, and provide excellent opportunities for Humint), and given Frances stance in Syria, Russian policy is adversarial to it and Russia behaved like France expected it to behave. In Afghanistan, France and the US are not just supposedly on the same side, so this unfriendly fire is seen as far more hostile.
    4: Human and material investments in the Kunduz hospital were far greater then in the Alleppan “hospitals”.

  59. charly says:

    Boatpeople is a cause that pre neo-con would champion, not some leftist agitator, what the rest of MsF probably were if not still are.
    The Ibo lost the US couldn’t have been very pro Ibo in deeds. But again i wasn’t born yet so i can’t say how it felt then but i think it would feel from the French left that the US was duplicitous

  60. F5F5F5 says:

    MSF are also currently raging against the “barrel bombings” of their hospital in Aleppo by R+6, which can’t really be seen as an anti-American statement.
    My humble opinion, which is also that of my good friend Occam, is that they just don’t like being bombed or shot at. They make their exact location known to all, which then becomes a sacred and neutral dome of sanctuary, in their minds.
    From that point on, any stray bullet or piece of shrapnel flying their way HAS to be intentional, regardless of circumstances. Especially bombings, which are supposed to be planned and informed. THEY knew we were here. Hence, THEY had to hit us on purpose.

  61. JJackson says:

    We have been around this block before.
    The US armed forces were accused, in this case by MSF of targeting and destroying their hospital.
    I thought I had made it clear in my original post that “It is not that I doubt this report” but then I did not cower in a pile of rubble while I watched a C130 going around and around killing my friends and destroying my hospital.
    You may believe that “Whether or not MSF or anyone else believes the results is irrelevant” but I do not think that is true of your government. If it was why publish the report if it is merely an internal document for the purpose of determining if anyone should suffer disciplinary action. The USG puts a great deal of effort into spinning its actions to be seen in a favourable light both by its own electorate and the wider world audience.
    You ask “Suspicion of what? Of spin. While I view the DoD more than capable of outright lies in this case I would be looking for the Truth but not necessarily the Truth, the whole Truth and nothing but the Truth. A massaging of the facts to lay blame further down the food chain rather than as an institutional failure or at command level would not seem implausible.
    We have debated before what it is to be anti-American – something you accused me of. If you recall I argued that if I was then it was because I disagreed with Borg policies which would make you equally anti-American. I suspect MSF is also being caught in the same net. There volunteers are likely to be idealistic humanitarians who are working in conflict zones where Borg policies have caused, or exacerbated, military action. They are trying to repair the human cost of these policies if their view is a little jaundiced re US foreign policy it is only to be expected.
    Strangely, in parallel to this thread, we have a very similar debate playing out in the UK MSM at the moment. The left wing of the labour party are under attack because they had the temerity to claim that criticism of Israeli government policy is not the same thing as anti-Semitism. Anti-Semitism is not the same as Anti-Zionism or being Anti-Bibi’s government. I do not think I am anti-American, anti-British or anti-Semite but then again I would not trust any of their governments to be truthful about anything if they thought they could get away with a face saving lie.

  62. Joe100 says:

    TTG/Col –
    Maybe a short reading list on SF would help educate SST participants who are clueless/interested?

  63. turcopolier says:

    You are French, right? The “Boatpeople” left VN AFTER the departure of the last Americans. They fled communist rule by the millions and the US took over half the refugees. That is why there are so many Vietnamese in the US. How can MSF or anyone else blame the US for the flight of these people to the US? What? We lost the war? The Biafra War was fought as a civil war between the Ibo and the rest of them. This was during the VN War. Do you really mean to say that somehow you and the MSF think we should have done more than mediate the war? Do you really think the US should have intervened militarily in Biafra? Does MSF think that? Do you not think there is some cognitive dissonance in thinking that good would have come from another 3rd world intervention by the US? I remember becoming aware of the Biafra War while stationed in Germany between two of my VN tours of duty. I remember an appeal being made in chapel at Sunday Mass for relief donations for Biafra. Creighton Abrams was sitting in the pew in front of us. There was a discussion outside church of the Biafra situation and the men there were universally of the opinion that we should not get involved militarily as we had our hands full in VN. How is it that you or MSF or anyone can hold the US responsible for the Biafran War. The Nigerians decided to fight each other. We did not encourage them to fight each other. Some of you people obviously think we are responsible for all the world’s ills. Is that not anti-Americanism? pl

  64. turcopolier says:

    It is normal in the US armed forces for there to be a major investigation following a disastrous event like this. I can cite any number of examples if you like. For you describe the report, freely given to the public and admitting full responsibility as “spin” is so patently anti-American as to be absurd. From long an hard experience I have learned that trying to do good in the world using military force is a fruitless and futile thing. IMO Trump is right. We should look to our interests and you all (all of you-everywhere)should look to yours. The US Navy and USAF should be the basis for a strategy of policing the oceans for trading freedom and North American defense. pl

  65. turcopolier says:

    The US has stated (including in the investigative report)that US forces in the Kunduz area were informed of the hospital’s existence and location and that the facility had been placed on a “no strike” list in the command system. The essence of the report’s conclusion is that US command and control systems failed in the moment of the battle. pl

  66. Emad says:

    I haven’t seen the report and have no opinion on how this investigation was conducted. However if what came out of MG Taguba’s investigation of Abu Ghraib is any indication of what these investigations culminate in; it’s not just letters of reprimand that end one’s career; rocking the boat too hard can also end one’s career.
    It’s my understanding that war crimes are not necessarily willful, and that they can also result from recklessness. The military investigators in this case may have covered this angle and determined that no one had acted recklessly enough to warrant that charge, in which case MSF noise is just that, noise.

  67. turcopolier says:

    IMO there was no recklessness in US behavior in this matter. there were friendly troops in contact with the enemy and the US forces on the ground vectored the aircraft to what was thought to be a legitimate target. The system failed to identify the target as being an unauthorized target. that is failure, not recklessness. pl

  68. turcopolier says:

    These “pahtridges” take me back to my adolescence in Maine. thanks. pl

  69. Babak Makkinejad says:

    Are you asking, in effect, to bring the “White Man” & his rule back to Africa?
    This time under the guise of Responsibility to Protect?
    France protected the mass murderers in Rwanda – I would like to remind you.

  70. Tyler says:

    Rhodesia and South Africa were first world nations when white people were running things.
    The French protected them, but are you removing all agency from the Rwandans?

  71. Tyler says:

    Neocons are leftists.

  72. Babak Makkinejad says:

    I am not denying Hutus agency – but France was also there prior to the start of the massacres.
    In a recent book of photography of Congo, the author observed that more than half of those beautiful friendly children that he met and saw during his travels would not live to see their 15-th birthday.

  73. different clue says:

    Great Britain was VERY anti-Ibo in that civil war. How pro-Ibo could the US have been without bad tension with the Great Britain Gov?

  74. different clue says:

    Totally different subject . . . I have had comments to Professor Juan Cole’s blog posted in his blog when I made them from my normal computer. So the earlier blockage of comments there was misattributed to blockage on his part, when it was more likely do to using a strange computer.
    So I withdraw my earlier complaint that Professor Cole stealth-banned me. In all fairness.

  75. rjj says:

    this is more interesting – same lecture as above – maybe a bit less repetitive. Georgetownies go on the attack.
    Link is set to question period.

  76. rjj says:

    thank you. gotta get going on the yah’d. that other spring creature, the blackfly, is stirring.

  77. charly says:

    Afghan hospitals are run by MSF. Syrian hospitals MSF gives money but aren’t staffed by MSF

  78. charly says:

    Who said i (or anybody else) blamed the US for the Boatpeople just that left wing do-gooders would more gravitate to causes were right wingers did bad (at that moment in time for example Middle America) than were left wingers did bad (Vietnam) and right wing do-gooders gravitate more to were left wing did bad.
    Also it is hard to believe for the current era that Poodlestan had an independent foreign policy. Surprising how things change
    ps. Not French

  79. cynic says:

    Thank you. I’m still puzzled as to the distinctions between the various groups, and what they are actually doing, and why they don’t seem to achieve anything obvious. If Lawrence could blow up Turkish trains with a ragbag of local Arabs, why couldn’t the 72 teams or the thousands of slightly different others, blow up the Turkish/terrorist lorry convoys stretching over the horizon?
    If they’re spotting for air strikes surely results at a Russian level should have been achieved?

  80. turcopolier says:

    All right I will school you. Lawrence was an agent of the Arab Bureau in Cairo. He was loosely attached to the Arab Revolt in the Hijaz. The Arab Bureau gave him a free hand largely because it was not thought that he could do much damage to the cause of British capture of Palestine from the Turks by a conventional army attacking across the Sinai. If Washington had given USSF a free hand over the years the situation would be quite different. pl

  81. cynic,
    If you want to truly grasp the difference between Special Forces and special operations forces, I’m afraid you’re going to have to do some homework. You are not alone in failing to make the distinction, the media and politicians continually prove themselves clueless on the matter.
    You also fail to realize just how terrain, even desert terrain, can swallow up military units and even lorry convoys. With the size of the forces arrayed in Syria, there is a lot of undefended and unwatched territory. Operations on the ground are far more difficult than a game of Risk.

  82. turcopolier says:

    In re Cynic he doesn’t want to learn anything. He just wants to score points off the Yanks. pl

  83. dmr says:

    Col. Lang:
    Granted. Nevertheless, some of us can be forgiven for remaining aghast at the disproportion between the magnitude of the event, in all its horror, and the comparatively mild punishment meted out to those responsible for it. Operating rooms with patients in surgery incinerated, doctors and nurses killed, the whole facility destroyed: we are to think of this as merely a regrettable mistake? As just one of those things that happens? The LA Times reports that “no no one will face criminal charges.” Instead, of those involved in the affair, six are to go counselling, seven to be issued with letters of reprimand, two ordered to retraining courses.
    This is justice? You speak of letters in personnel files being career-ending events. No doubt. But in the light of what happened such censure,to a civilian eye, differs hardly at all from wrist-slapping. There is, as well, something that offends one’s sense of what is right and proper in human affairs in the spectacle of a military authority investigating itself and, predictably, exonerating itself of a crime that, deliberate or accidental, violates the laws of war. This, if anything, is the way the Israeli army behaves: not the armed forces of the United States. Or so I have always thought.
    Lest I be taxed with in riposte or rebuke, I hasten to add that nothing I say here proceeds from leftist contempt or from reflexive anti-Americanism.

  84. turcopolier says:

    I see that you are Canadian. There is something strangely other worldly about the responses and attitudes of some Canadians. Perhaps that results from the very limited role Canada has had the luxury of playing in the shadow of and under the protection of the US. This is not meant as disrespect to Canada’s small but effective armed forces but they represent an even tinier segment of Canadian society than those of the US. To put it bluntly you have no idea what the confusion and chaos of a battle is like and are judging people who have born the battle when you have not. “He jests at scars who ne’er has felt a wound.” Look it up. As I tried to explain in my post, the US does not criminalize error and failure. IMO that is a sound principle. What would you have had the US do? Should those who were in some way involved in this giant “cluster fuck” been executed by firing squad in the absence of a chargeable offense? I will tell you again there would have to have been a deliberate attack ON A HOSPITAL for this to have been a criminal matter. Killing people and destroying things is the normal function of any country’s armed forces. Soldiers are not policemen. It is seldom their function in the existing social order to make arrests. With regard to Canada I remember that the Canadian government chose to dis-establish its only active duty parachute infantry battalion after a Canadian soldier shot a thief at a supply dump in Somalia. This, instead of dealing with the soldier involved and his CO who was also involved. Statements were made in parliament that Canada did not need such violent people in its service. Ridiculous. pl

  85. turcopolier says:

    it is not a crime if the attack was not deliberate. Civilians are killed in war. That is not a crime unless the killing is deliberate. The Canadian armed forces killed many French civilians in Normandy in 1944. RAF and RCAF attacks on the city of Caen are a prime example. Should Canadian soldiers and airmen have been investigated by a foreign entity and tried for war crimes? Get real! pl

  86. Imagine says:

    Tyler Lokey claims that the ZH site is only click-bait, and he was made to write untruthful sensational politically-slanted postings for years, at the rate of 15 per day, but finally resigned when he couldn’t take fibbing about the shortcomings of the United States any longer. Incredulous. It sounds like the “confessions” made in Chinese courts.
    Be that as it may, it begs the question: How do they come up with so much obscure news so rapidly, with such volume, on a repeatable/reliable basis?

  87. dmr says:

    Col. Lang: As to the question whether an act carried out in the heat of battle must have been deliberately carried out/premeditated/planned to be rated a war crime, there is, I believe, more than one school of thought in international law. I am hardly an expert in the field. But I thank you for your considered and thoughtful replies to my posts. (And as regards the raids by the RCAF on Caen in 1944 – responsibility for them, proximate or ultimate, may be open to debate but it’s impossible not to flinch at the thought what actually happened, any more than it is at the terror from on high visited upon Hamburg and Dresden in the war.)

  88. turcopolier says:

    If you want to say that casualties inflicted on a civilian population when there is not intention to attack them is a war crime, then you are saying that the war itself is a war crime. Do you think the war against the AQ, Taliban and now IS in Afghanistan is a crime? Collateral damage to civilian populations is a crime only in the mind of the pacifist Left. As for culpability of the RCAF at Caen and as part of RAF Bomber Command across Europe it is quite evident that after “Bomber” Harris switched to night attacks the campaign was directed at the German civilian population using whole cities as aiming points rather than specific industrial, governmental and military targets. This was in accord with the Douhet inspired notion of breaking the will of an enemy population and forcing surrender. The US did the same with its massive B-29 fire raids against Japanese cities including Tokyo where 100,000 were killed in one night. IMO these policies amounted to war crimes, crimes against humanity and made us no better than the Nazis with their policies directed at eliminating populations of “undesirables” or the Japanese with things like the Rape of Nanking. OTOH the US 8th Air Force flying from Britain stuck to bombing what I would consider legitimate targets in daytime bombing. As a result the 8th Air force lost 28,000 killed. This was a larger butcher’s bill than that paid by the entire USMC in all of WW2. There is a small shrine in Westminster Cathedral dedicated to the men of the 8th Air Force. You can visit when in London. pl

  89. dmr says:

    Col. Lang: Thank you once again for a most illuminating reply. Allow me to say it does you credit to draw a distinction in respect of target and mission between, on the one hand, such actions as those undertaken by Harris’s Bomber Command and the raids conducted over Honshu in 1944-45 and, on the other, the many dangerous sorties of the glorious 8th AF – under Carl Spaatz, I think it was? – flying out of East Anglia. Let me say too that to the first category – war crimes unequivocally to be seen as such, even, perhaps especially, when committed by “our” side – must be added the conduct of the IDF in Gaza and Lebanon, in which the Dahiya doctrine so-called, more or less openly and shamelessly proclaimed, was the order of the day, sanctimonious self-justification ex post facto notwithstanding.
    As to the(quite pertinent) question you have posed to me in your second sentence: I own I incline to a certain pacifism, though with important and historically rare exceptions. Hitler’s war was one such (as not a few pacifists here in Canada and in the UK – I can’t speak for the US – felt at the time; some did in the end enlist in the fighting forces). The war against AQ and IS is another. Only a fool would dispute that.

  90. Imagine says:

    Do they use stringers? Are there special P.R. sites for obscure macro-economic events? I don’t think a Bloomberg would cover it, so then what intelligence sources? Thx.

  91. Degringolade says:

    I was in the business of developing and implementing lateral flow rapid tests for diseases. I have and HIV test, a Hepatitis C Test, and Schistosomiasis test out there in the wild.
    That was my last life, now I am a middle-grade government stooge for the VA. No travel, no worries, no money…..what could be better?

  92. Degringolade says:

    Basically, the SF are teachers first and foremost. As MSG York once explained to me in the long ago underneath a teak tree in Isaan, Thailand: “We are the baddest-ass schoolteachers in the history of the planet”.

  93. Wonduk says:

    TTG, I agree with that unnamed ODA COmmander’s statement. Was in country but not in Kunduz at that moment, not a military but not a stranger. It was clear that for months (over a year, actually), nothing was decided on what course of action to take in Kunduz. Since April the city was besieged. People fiddling in Kabul while the country burnt. I guess even the Taliban were surprised that a raid to free their people from prison and target some pro-government commanders turned into a complete rout of all Government Forces. Then there was sudden jolt for somehow to retake Kunduz. Everyone who was available was sent up to ‘help’. My personal suspicion was that the AC-130 had drawn fire and responded, but it now is quite clear that the declared target was the NDS (Afghan Security Service) compound 300 m to the North-East. See page vii of the report’s abstract, main text page 19. This compound had been taken over by the Taliban, who took away large quantities of arms (stored to supply additional tribal militias), and the documents. I think they got an outbound transport of stuff to the Taliban operations base with another airstrike.

  94. Junaid says:

    “can still be thought of as a neutral party in the wars or if it has come to have a political agenda.”
    This is how arm chair warriors who can’t comprehend altruism see the world. It must feel so lonely living in your own world.

  95. Imagine says:

    Busy; missed my due diligence. Other side of story:
    ZH claims Mr. Lokey is alcoholic, former drug dealer, who had a nervous breakdown; and that Bloomberg conveniently glosses over this. Would explain why Bloomberg piece came across as disinformation hit-piece.
    My favorite line: “[Bloomberg accuses ZH] that we are capitalists who seek to generate profits and who have expectations from our employees. …This comes from a media organization which caters to Wall Street and is run by one of the wealthiest people in the world.”
    still interested in learning how allegedly two or three people can research and generate so much analysis per day.

  96. turcopolier says:

    Who are you quoting? pl

  97. Valissa says:

    Entertaining little “clash of the capitalists” drama, thanks for the links 🙂 I have been curious about the writers at Zero Hedge every since it started. I assumed it was mostly people with boring day jobs in finance/banking/real estate/etc. who wanted some excitement but needed to stay anonymous. But who knows?
    I agree that it is unlikely that only 2 or 3 people are writing all the posts. Just because the Bloomberg hit piece said so doesn’t mean much. I’ll bet the guys attributed as the main players of Zero Hedge have lots of helpful friends (or relatives) who want to stay anonymous.

  98. rjj says:

    Borgage — Media Epistemologists do their thing … (Google will provide)
    Nekrassov had anti-Putin cred but proved unreliable with a documentary that deviated from TOVOTATA (The Offical Version Of Things As They Are). It was pulled and a repeat of something more suitable for the general public will be aired in its place.

  99. Bandolero says:

    Interesting piece from Fox News, 04/05/2016, Quote
    Romanian hacker Guccifer: I breached Clinton server, ‘it was easy’
    … The infamous Romanian hacker known as “Guccifer,” speaking exclusively with Fox News, claimed he easily – and repeatedly – breached former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s personal email server in early 2013.
    … In the process of mining data from the Blumenthal account, Lazar said he came across evidence that others were on the Clinton server.
    “As far as I remember, yes, there were … up to 10, like, IPs from other parts of the world,” he said.
    … Cyber experts who spoke with Fox News said the process Lazar described is plausible.
    … “This sounds like the classic attack of the late 1990s. A smart individual who knows the tools and the technology and is looking for glaring weaknesses in Internet-connected devices,” Bob Gourley, a former chief technology officer (CTO) for the Defense Intelligence Agency, said.
    … For Lazar, a plea agreement where he cooperates in exchange for a reduced sentence would be advantageous. He told Fox News he has nothing to hide and wants to cooperate with the U.S. government, adding that he has hidden two gigabytes of data that is “too hot” and “it is a matter of national security.” …

  100. HRC no longer SoS as of 2013 yet was she maintaining “official” records with no other copies after she left office? N.B. The Presidential Records Act!

  101. Wiki Extract:
    The Presidential Records Act (PRA) of 1978, 44 U.S.C. §§ 2201–2207, is an Act of Congress of the United States governing the official records of Presidents and Vice Presidents created or received after January 20, 1981, and mandating the preservation of all presidential records. The PRA changed the legal ownership of the official records of the President from private to public, and established a new statutory structure under which Presidents must manage their records.
    Specifically, the Presidential Records Act:
    Defines and states public ownership of the records.
    Places the responsibility for the custody and management of incumbent Presidential records with the President.
    Allows the incumbent President to dispose of records that no longer have administrative, historical, informational, or evidentiary value, once he has obtained the views of the Archivist of the United States on the proposed disposal.
    Requires that the President and his staff take all practical steps to file personal records separately from Presidential records.
    Establishes a process for restriction and public access to these records. Specifically, the PRA allows for public access to Presidential records through the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) beginning five years after the end of the Administration, but allows the President to invoke as many as six specific restrictions to public access for up to twelve years. The PRA also establishes procedures for Congress, courts, and subsequent administrations to obtain special access to records that remain closed to the public, following a 30‑day notice period to the former and current Presidents.
    Requires that Vice-Presidential records are to be treated in the same way as Presidential records.
    Since its passage, presidents have used various methods to avoid complying with the Act, including holding meetings away from the White House and “using non-government email accounts with lobbyists”.[1]
    Executive Order 12667 – Issued by President Reagan in January 1989, this executive order established the procedures for NARA and former and incumbent Presidents to implement the PRA.
    Executive Order 13233 – This executive order, issued by President George W. Bush on November 1, 2001, supersedes the previous executive order. The Bush executive order also includes the documents of former Vice Presidents.
    Executive Order 13489 – Issued by President Barack Obama on January 21, 2009, restored the implementation of the PRA of 1978 as practiced under President Reagan’s Executive Order 12667 and revoked President Bush’s Executive Order 13233.

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