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Archive for the ‘US military’ Category

Near-Future Past

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on April 30, 2016

Black Bloc
California, 2007.

The storm black Hooligans took Van Ness, but never made the jog off to the park, Instead, they massed, some one hundred thousand strong, up to the hastily formed police blockade on Van Ness and Grove, then east back around on Market. They stopped in fact. March peace monitors, realizing what was happening, evaporated from around the autonomous columns to beat hasty retreats up Grove, Fell, Oak and Page with the march’s stragglers. People pulled on masks, bandanas, ski masks and balaklavas. Sunglasses hid eyes. Adrenaline once more raced through Greg, somewhere in the middle of that black mass, as he pulled up his own ‘kerchief. He watched a gauntly beautiful girl, a rare, anti-war Null, put her large black scarf over her gold electroplated cheek plates, before putting on shades in synch with hers…

Noble Eagle
It’s not just sex, drugs and rock’n’roll!

A wing of fighter jets, low over Nimitz Field, shrieked toward Oakland. Toward Jack London Square and the dual battle laser positions on Oakland’s inner harbor. People were running around the tower then, running away from the Harbor as fast as was humanly possible. A second roar, and surface-to-air missile batteries leapt into action to lay up a defensive curtain of heat seeking rockets. The jets broke into evasive action. Battle laser auroras danced up ultraviolet into the descending sun as the weapons primed. Two jets looped back tightly and managed to let loose their own rockets before having to dodge again. The harbor erupted under the jet strike, counterpointed quickly by one jet taking a direct hit and another spinning off, minus one wing. The battle laser fired. The precise x-ray beam could not be seen. But it produced a sharp fold in the air as it pierced across the bay and stripped the top off San Francisco’s Transamerica Pyramid…

laser-weapons-soldiers-670x333
Armageddon’s been in effect!

For a brief moment Marcus witnessed a phantasm, bathed in the smoky light of its own making. The creature was humanoid, dressed in a form fitting, single-piece, eel-gray body suit. The hands were gloved, with thick seams running up the arms and shoulders. And the head was entirely, strangely helmeted. It was a type of skull-tight ski mask, fitted with shear goggles and headphones, and crested with a soft, gun-metal colored apparatus. The goggles pulsed with that on-edge-of-sight light Marcus had observed seconds before, from under the door.

“Freeze,” Joe yelled, crouched and aimed.

An invisible light, apprehendable by a sense more visceral than sight and tailored minutely to Joe’s shape,streaked with precision from the refractive goggles, cookie cutting Joe perfectly. Joe exploded backwards…

End Time: Notes on the Apocalypse can be purchased for download starting May 1, 2016 from Smashwords.

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Posted in black bloc, California, class war, direct action, life, Oakland, police, punk, San Francisco, US military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Oh, for fuck’s sake

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on June 13, 2014

For the moment, ignore that we went to war in Iraq in 2003 on the excuse that Saddam Hussein had WMDs (Weapons of Mass Destruction) fully expecting that US troops would be greeted as liberators, to be showered with flowers and candy. For the moment, forget that the Iraq we had invaded almost disintegrated into a Sunni/Shi’ite civil war, with the northern Kurds standing on the sidelines, until the US military surge in 2007 temporarily shored up the situation on the ground, leaving all the old ethnic/religious tensions firmly in place. For the moment, pretend that neo-conservative predictions that the US/Iraq war would produce liberty and democracy not just in that country but throughout the region weren’t entirely idiotic.

Let’s consider just one set of factors of this fucked-up mess that the US left when America officially ended military operations in Iraq in 2011 and withdrew US troops.

Here are several maps charting the ethnic/religious divisions in Iraq:
iraq-disintegrationiraqi.ethnic_75512407_iraq_ethnic_groups_624<Ethnic:religious

When the US declared “mission accomplished” for a second time in 2011, the majority Shi’ite government held power in Baghdad with the minority Sunni population bridling under this arrangement, and the Kurds enjoying relative autonomy in the north. Enter ISIS, the radical Sunni movement for an Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant. This al-Qaeda affiliate is more popular, more determined, more uncompromising and more violent than al-Qaeda itself, intent upon establishing a sharia-governed Islamic Caliphate from Lebanon through Iraq. Here are maps charting the activity of ISIS through 2014:
_69928349_syria_control_20.09.13_624mapw-Iraq_ISIS_75481316_iraq_isis_control_624_v3ISIS Actual Sanctuary June 2014w-EthnoIRAQ_75514982_iraq_isis_976CitiesControlledByMilitants20140614_MAM914

Here are maps indicating the general territory currently controlled by the ISIS as of June 2014:
WO-AS673A_IRAQ__G_201406121227091024px-Territorial_control_of_the_ISIS.svg

And here is a map representing the Islamic Caliphate that is the ultimate goal of ISIS:
ISIS-Wilayats-thumb-560x408-2998ISIS Caliphate

Let me restate matters. In 2011, when the US declared victory in Iraq, ceased military operations and withdrew its troops, the nation of Iraq was nominally a democracy under Shi’ite control and heavily influenced by Iran, with al-Qaeda decimated, on the run, and its leader Osama bin-Ladin dead. Now, in 2014, ISIS, the Islamic State in Iraq and the Levant, is fully resurgent and militarily on the move while Iraq totters on the brink of complete collapse. Hell, the whole region remains profoundly unstable, teetering on the brink of total social chaos and bloody violence. Forget Left or Right. Anybody up for some serious war crimes trials?
neoconservatives-2warcrimes

Here’s the BBC’s ongoing coverage of the STRUGGLE FOR IRAQ.

[A WORD ON THE MAPS: Treat each series of multiple maps as a slide show, and try to build up a multi-layered, close to 3D image of the situation they separately are two-dimensionally attempting to portray. Merge the information the maps have in common, and accumulate the unique information each map provides.]

Posted in American Empire, American intervention, Baghdad, Democrats & Republicans, Federal Government, Iraq, Iraq War, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic terrorism, life, maps, military intervention, neocon, neoconservative, neoliberalism, politics, US military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The legacy of American involvement

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on November 3, 2013

It’s a clear enough chart:
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Which belies any statement that “the US intervention in Iraq is over,” or that “the Iraq war is over,” or that “Iraq is at peace,” or that “there is now an inclusive and democratic Iraq in place.”

What we have, now that the United States has ended formal military intervention in the region, is an ongoing, full-scale civil war in Iraq. Sunnis versus Shi’ites, with massive civilian casualties on all sides, and minority religionists being wiped out or forced to immigrate.

This is the immediate legacy of American involvement in Iraq. There is blood on the hands of every individual in every US administration since George W. Bush first invaded Iraq. Too bad there aren’t going to be any war crimes trials.

Posted in American Empire, American intervention, Iraq, Iraq War, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic terrorism, life, military intervention, United States of America, US military | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

USA! We’re Number One!

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 29, 2013

It’s official. The United States is #1 at creating rich people. Here’s the chart (based on this study):
original
The consequences of this “wealth creation” is an ever widening gap between rich and poor, the decimation of the American middle class, the potential for societal segregation, social unrest and class warfare that is exacerbated by such class dynamics. This income gap is the highest since the “Roaring 20s.
20130911_inequal1
What’s more, even prominent moderate-to-liberal individuals are beginning to see this as a problem.

Then, there’s so many other ways that the United States excels at being #1 in very bad shit. Here are the graphic representations, including the first one mentioned above:
MaternityLeave_1USExceptionalism_Vacation_0
USExceptionalism_SickDays_1EducationSpending_1
EducationSpending_1-1MilitarySpending_0
USExceptionalism_WeaponExportsUSExceptionalism_PrisonPop
USExceptionalism_GunsUSExceptionalism_Sweetner_0
CalorieConsumption_1USExceptionalism_HealthCareCosts
USExceptionalism_DrugCostsFirstDayDeaths_0
SuperRich_0Inequality_0
Makes you fucking PROUD to be an American! Third World Banana Republic, here we come!

Posted in American Empire, capitalism, corporations, homeless, life, politics, poverty, United States of America, US economy, US middle class, US military, US society, US working class | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

World cop, world hit man, world bully…

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 4, 2013

There is no nice way to say it. Apropos to my last post, there’s another American experience we need to acknowledge. The United States of America is the world’s bully, the world’s hit man, the world’s cop. Let’s begin with this necessarily incomplete list of US interventions around the world since 1890:

1US Interventions_Page_012US Interventions_Page_023US Interventions_Page_03

4US Interventions_Page_045US Interventions_Page_056US Interventions_Page_06

7US Interventions_Page_078US Interventions_Page_089US Interventions_Page_09

10US Interventions_Page_1011US Interventions_Page_1112US Interventions_Page_12

13US Interventions_Page_13

This doesn’t include anything before 1890, which can be covered on this website, by which we can infer the expansion of the United States from its original colonies to roughly 1860:

GrowthofUS_1853_Ref

This Wikipedia article is more comprehensive regarding the numerous Indian wars by which the American settlers gradually took the entire continent. This map covers Indian wars in the continental United States:

TRANS_map_of_indian_battles

While this map depicts only the Indian wars west of the Mississippi:

Indian wars map

Then there are the much more recent graphic documentations of American intervention around the globe since 1945, covered here and here.

USA_intervention_bleu

interventions_map

There are gaps in this chronology, but you get the gist. America is an empire, in addition to a bully, a hit man and a cop. And you wonder why Code Pink is shadowing Secretary of State Kerry with red hands dyed to symbolize blood?

8B09475933CE4697A1F6F4DA40F6564E

Posted in American Empire, CIA, Code Pink, Indian wars, life, military intervention, US military | Tagged: , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

DIY Apocalypse

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 29, 2013

CM-wide-drones2-20120911101356279025-620x349

Ah, Yiddish. It’s such an expressive language. With the violent destruction of most of eastern European Jewry, the immigration of those who survived to the United States or Palestine has seen Yiddish threatened by assimilation in the case of the former and by outright disapproval in the case of the latter. I’ve discussed the potential revival of Yiddish with a local book vendor who once recommended I read IJ Singer’s The Brothers Ashkenazi. He contends that without a truly vital large-scale (read “national”) Jewish culture in which Yiddish can be nourished, the language is ultimately doomed.

Be that as it may, consider the variety of Yiddish words for the word penis alone. Putz, schmuck, schmeckel, shlong, shvantz, and the one I’m featuring here, pud. I recently wrote a science fiction story in which PUD features prominently as an acronym for Public or Private Urban Drone. P.U.D., get it?

art729-drones-privacy-620x349

In my near future, urban drones are ubiquitous, owned and operated by public or private entities such as the police or corporations. First off, it is perfectly legal for individuals to own their own drones and spy on their neighbors. Then, there’s the potential for corporate ownership of drones, already a reality. The use of police drones is a highly contentious issue, as is the FBI’s use of drones for domestic spying. Perhaps the most interesting, and most scary site I’ve linked to in this post is DIY Drones, which speaks for itself.

DIY?!? Remember when punk rock first started using the term do it yourself? Now we’re talking about DIY drones!

drones-1

PS:

Yiddish is discouraged in Israel as a gutter or mongrel language by the Israeli state and the Hebrew speaking Israeli society. Which is why I love this joke:

Retiring from a big corporate job in LA, Marvin moves to Tel Aviv. (So nu, you were thinking maybe he’d move to a kibbutz?)
Wanting to contribute to nation-building somehow he focuses on stock-trading, the only vocation he knows. But, to commute to his new humble penthouse office, he refuses to drive a Mercedes like everyone else so he buys himself… a camel.
Every night Marvin parks his camel in the garage under his Tel Aviv Condo and the next morning he mounts the camel for the commute to his new office in Ramat Gan.
One day Marvin comes down to the parking garage and the camel is gone… stolen!
He calls the police who arrive within minutes. The first question is “What color was your camel?”
Marvin replies he doesn’t remember, “Probably camel colored I guess… sort of brownish-greyish.”
“And how many humps on your camel?’ asks the policeman.
“Who counts humps… one, maybe two, I don’t know for sure.”
“And the height of the camel, sir?”
“What’s with these dumb questions?” Marvin asks. “The camel was about three feet taller than I am. So maybe 9 feet, 10 feet. I can’t be certain.”
“Just one last question to complete my report, sir. Was the camel male or female?”
“Ah, that I know for sure he was a male.”
“How can you be so certain of his sex when you don’t remember anything else about your camel” asks the policeman.
“Well,” says Marvin, “everyone knows he’s a male. Every day I’d ride the camel to work through the streets of Tel Aviv and people would stop and say to each other… ‘Look at the schmuck on that camel!’ “

source

Posted in Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, corporations, Drones, FBI, life, Military Drones, NSA, police, Police Drones, private contractors, Private Drones, privatization of war, punk rock, security privatization, U2, US military, Yiddish | Leave a Comment »

Militarizing the police

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on August 27, 2013

RV-AL122A_POLIC_G_20130719195021

The militarization of the police is a hot topic. Because of military training of the police, reallocation of matériel from the military to the police, and employment of ex-military personnel by the police, among other reasons, your local police are now coming to resemble the military of these United States of America. Here are some links for you to follow:

7 Ways Obama Admin has Accelerated Police Militarization

Rise of the Warrior Cop

And finally, something you can do about it!

Drawing Down: How to Roll Back Police Militarization in America

Fuck the police, indeed!

Posted in militarizing police, police, US military | Leave a Comment »

The privatization of war, part 4 (Foreign policy, privatized)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on October 6, 2007

Here’s a reprint, in full, from the New York Times. You might be asked to subscribe if you click on the link. The accompanying graphic is excellent.

———

Foreign Policy, Privatized
By ALLISON STANGER and OMNIVORE
Published: October 5, 2007

WHILE most Americans are aware of the controversy over the role of the private security company Blackwater in Iraq, probably few understand that armed contractors in Iraq are just the tip of an iceberg. Across the globe, in everything from diplomacy to development to intelligence, contractors are a major American presence, and only a small fraction of them carry weapons. American foreign policy, to a great extent, has been privatized.

The charts below, based on figures from the Federal Procurement Data System, tell the story. In 2005, federally financed contractors were working in every United Nations-recognized country except Bhutan, Nauru and San Marino.

It has become conventional wisdom to blame the Bush administration for the “hollowing out” of government, but this misses the mark. While contract spending has more than doubled since 2001, serious federal efforts to outsource began under President Bill Clinton.

Nor is contracting necessarily bad: United States money creates jobs for the local population, and humanitarian organizations like Save the Children, CARE and Catholic Relief Services have relied heavily on dollars from Washington. Outsourcing can play to America’s strengths, exploiting our capacity for innovation, flexibility and efficiency.

Yes, as we have seen in Iraq, hiring contractors can lead to severe problems with accountability and fraud. And while steps like making contractors liable for civil penalties may manage some symptoms, they will not cure the disease. We need to devise far better ways of overseeing contractors worldwide.

Some are tempted to turn back the clock and reassert traditional government authority, denouncing private-sector greed and the “coalition of the billing.” But that would be a terrible mistake, for outsourcing is in part a rational response to the new possibilities of the information age. The challenge will be to manage creative forms of collaboration between government and the private sector in ways that serve the public interest.

Allison Stanger, a professor of political science at Middlebury College, is writing a book on the privatization of American power. Omnivore is a graphic design firm in New York City.

05opartlarge.jpg

Posted in Allison Stanger, Blackwater, government contractors, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, New York Times, news, Omnivore, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, PSFs, security privatization, The privatization of foreign policy, US military | 3 Comments »

The privatization of war, part 3.9 (Blackwater aids terrorists)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 22, 2007

In one of the more amazing stories to date, Blackwater is being investigated by Federal prosecutors for illegally smuggling weapons into Iraq that may have been sold on the black market and then wound up in the hands of terrorists. So, there’s a distinct possibility that, when Blackwater contractors are under attack in Iraq, they’re being fired upon with their own weapons. You can’t make this stuff up!

Posted in Baghdad, Blackwater, Blackwater aids terrorists, Blackwater back at work, Iraq, Iraq War, Islamic extremists, Islamic militants, Islamic terrorism, military contractors, military privatization, news, politics, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, privatization of war, PSFs, security privatization, terrorists, US military, weapons smuggling | Leave a Comment »

The privatization of war, part 3.5 (CIA shut down in Iraq)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 19, 2007

Movements of key CIA station personnel in Baghdad—along with most State department diplomats and teams building police stations and schools—have been frozen for the second day in a row, according to a State department source who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

Essentially, the CIA, State department and government contractors are stuck inside the International Zone, also known as “the Green Zone,” in Central Baghdad. Even travel inside that walled enclave is somewhat restricted.

So reads an article by Richard Miniter on Pajamasmedia.com. Apparently, the CIA, State Department, and government contractors all rely on Blackwater for security.

“By jamming up Blackwater, they [the Iraqi government] shut down the movements of the embassy and the [CIA] station,” a State department source told Pajamas Media. He is not cleared to talk to the press. 

Posted in Blackwater, Blackwater banned, Central Intelligence Agency, CIA, government contractors, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, Pajamas Media, Pajamasmedia, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, PSFs, security privatization, State Department, US military | Leave a Comment »

The privatization of war, part 3.2 (Blackwater banned)

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on September 18, 2007

32617135.jpg

The Iraqi government has suspended Blackwater’s license to operate, and demanded that the company leave the country, as a result of a firefight in which several civilians and a police officer were killed (story here). Blackwater contractors (read mercenaries) were protecting a convoy of US State Department officials when they supposedly came under attack and, according to the Iraqis, started firing indiscrimately at surrounding civilians. The Iraqi government has said it is considering prosecuting Blackwater employees for the deaths, and that it will review the status of all Private Security Firms in the country as a result of the incident. Here’s a profile of Blackwater from the BBC.

32617144.jpg

Posted in Blackwater, Blackwater banned, Iraq, Iraq War, military contractors, military privatization, politics, private contractors, private security contractors, Private Security Firms, privatization of war, PSFs, security privatization, US military | 2 Comments »

The privatization of war, part 3

Posted by G.A. Matiasz on July 18, 2007

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Here’s a collection of recent articles and stories, all on private contractors becoming more prominent in Iraq as that war is progressively privatized.

First off is an On The Media radio story, “Have Gun Will Travel,” that comes with four related newspaper articles.

Then there is this quite extensive Christian Science Monitor story, “Silent surge in contractor ‘armies'” by Brad Knickerbocker, about private contractors in Iraq, and how their role will likely grow more prominent as the US draws down its troops.

Finally, The Monthly Review offers a very long Marxist analysis by James M. Cypher of the privatization of the US military that sees it as part of the shift from Keynesianism to Global Neoliberalism in the US economy.

acontractors_g1_l.gifacontractors_g2_l.gif

Posted in Blackwater, Brad Knickerbocker, Christian Science Monitor, From Military Keynesianism to Global Neoliberal Militar, Have Gun Will Travel, Iraq, Iraq War, James M. Cypher, Keynesianism, military contractors, military privatization, neoliberalism, NPR, On The Media, private contractors, private security contractors, privatization of war, Silent surge in contractor armies, The Monthly Review, US military | Leave a Comment »