Vietnamese child clings to his father, captured by US military and about to be taken to torture camp (February 17, 1966)

A Vietnamese child clings to his bound father who was rounded up as a suspected Viet Cong guerrilla during “Operation Eagle Claw” in the Bong Son area, 280 miles northeast of Saigon on February 17, 1966. The father was taken to an interrogation camp with other suspects rounded up by the U.S. 1st air cavalry division. (Richard Merron, Henri Huet/AP)
A Vietnamese child clings to his bound father who was rounded up as a suspected Viet Cong guerrilla during “Operation Eagle Claw” in the Bong Son area, 280 miles northeast of Saigon on February 17, 1966. The father was taken to an interrogation camp with other suspects rounded up by the U.S. 1st air cavalry division. (Richard Merron, Henri Huet/AP)

Father holds his dead child, murdered by South Vietnamese troops (March 19, 1964)

A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle on March 19, 1964. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border. (Horst Faas/AP)

A father holds the body of his child as South Vietnamese Army Rangers look down from their armored vehicle on March 19, 1964. The child was killed as government forces pursued guerrillas into a village near the Cambodian border. (Horst Faas/AP)

Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High, Thanks to US Occupation

US soldiers patrolling in an opium poppy field in Afghanistan
US soldiers patrolling in an opium poppy field in Afghanistan (source)

(via Counterpunch)

“2014 was a banner year for Afghanistan’s booming opium industry. According to a United Nations annual survey released on Wednesday, opium cultivation set a record in 2014, increasing by an impressive 7 percent year-over-year and up nearly 50 percent from 2012. Afghanistan presently produces 80 percent of the world’s heroin which provides billions of dollars in illicit profits for the powerful drug Mafia. Heroin trafficking and production have flourished under US military occupation and transformed Afghanistan into a dysfunctional narco-colony.

Readers who follow events in Afghanistan will recall that the Taliban had virtually eradicated poppy production before Bush and Cheney launched their war in 2001. The Pentagon reversed that achievement by installing the same bloodthirsty warlords who had been in power before the Taliban. Naturally, this collection of psychopaths–who the western media lauded as the “Northern Alliance”–picked up where they left off and resumed their drug operations boosting their own wealth and power by many orders of magnitude while meeting the near-insatiable demand for heroin in capitals across Europe and America. […]”

Read full article: Whitney, Mike “Afghan Opium Production Hits All-Time High“, Counterpunch, November 14-16, 2014

 

 

The Endless Nuclear Arms Race: Hundreds of Billions of Dollars to Be Spent by United States on Nuclear Weapons Over Next 10 Years

Operation Plumbbob - Shot Priscilla (June 24, 1957 )
Operation Plumbbob nuclear test — Shot Priscilla (June 24, 1957 )

‘[…] On January 8, 2014, U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced what Reuters termed “ambitious plans to upgrade [U.S.] nuclear weapons systems by modernizing weapons and building new submarines, missiles and bombers to deliver them.” The Pentagon intends to build a dozen new ballistic missile submarines, a new fleet of long-range nuclear bombers, and new intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Congressional Budget Office estimated in late December that implementing the plans would cost $355 billion over the next decade, while an analysis by the independent Center for Nonproliferation Studies reported that this upgrade of U.S. nuclear forces would cost $1 trillion over the next 30 years. If the higher estimate proves correct, the submarines alone would cost over $29 billion each.

Of course, the United States already has a massive nuclear weapons capability — approximately 7,700 nuclear weapons, with more than enough explosive power to destroy the world. Together with Russia, it possesses about 95 percent of the more than 17,000 nuclear weapons that comprise the global nuclear arsenal.

Nor is the United States the only nation with grand nuclear ambitions. Although China currently has only about 250 nuclear weapons, including 75 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), it recently flight-tested a hypersonic nuclear missile delivery vehicle capable of penetrating any existing defense system. The weapon, dubbed the Wu-14 by U.S. officials, was detected flying at ten times the speed of sound during a test flight over China during early January 2014. According to Chinese scientists, their government had put an “enormous investment” into the project, with more than a hundred teams from leading research institutes and universities working on it. Professor Wang Yuhui, a researcher on hypersonic flight control at Nanjing University, stated that “many more tests will be carried out” to solve the remaining technical problems. “It’s just the beginning.” Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based naval expert, commented approvingly that “missiles will play a dominant role in warfare, and China has a very clear idea of what is important.”

Other nations are engaged in this arms race, as well. Russia, the other dominant nuclear power, seems determined to keep pace with the United States through modernization of its nuclear forces. The development of new, updated Russian ICBMs is proceeding rapidly, while new nuclear submarines are already being produced. Also, the Russian government has started work on a new strategic bomber, known as the PAK DA, which reportedly will become operational in 2025. Both Russia and India are known to be working on their own versions of a hypersonic nuclear missile carrier. But, thus far, these two nuclear nations lag behind the United States and China in its development. Israel is also proceeding with modernization of its nuclear weapons, and apparently played the key role in scuttling the proposed U.N. conference on a nuclear weapons-free zone in the Middle East in 2012.

This nuclear weapons buildup certainly contradicts the official rhetoric. On April 5, 2009, in his first major foreign policy address, President Barack Obama proclaimed “America’s commitment to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” That fall, the UN Security Council — including Russia, China, Britain, France, and the United States, all of them nuclear powers — unanimously passed Resolution 1887, which reiterated the point that the NPT required the “disarmament of countries currently possessing nuclear weapons.” But rhetoric, it seems, is one thing and action quite another. […]’

Read full article at: http://www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/21-1


Seeing the Secret State: mapping SOCOM activities across the globe

“Secrecy is not efficient and gives rise to contradictions. So methodologically what I’m trying to do is find those contradictions. Where does that secret world intersect with something that I can see? The idea that when you’re doing all this secret stuff it fits imperfectly into the world. You have to have infrastructures that go into these covert operations. Infrastructure generates paperwork and a material footprint on the earth’s surface. […] So the question then is: ‘If secrecy is a way of organizing institutions and human activity in such a way as to render them silent, to render them invisible, how do we go about trying to see them?’ […]”

— Trevor Paglen “Seeing the Secret State”, 30th Chaos Communication Congress [30c3] (28 December 2013)

Recently, journalist Nick Turse put this theory into action, mapping out the “secret” infrastructure created by United States Special Operations Command (SOCOM). Check out this excerpt from his latest article, via Le Monde Diplomatique:

‘[…] I started with a blank map that quickly turned into a global pincushion. It didn’t take long before every continent but Antarctica was bristling with markers indicating special operations forces’ missions, deployments, and interactions with foreign military forces in 2012-2013. With that, the true size and scope of the U.S. military’s secret military began to come into focus. It was, to say the least, vast.

SOCOM (U.S. Special Operations) Forces Around The World (2012-2013)
U.S. Special Operations Forces around the world, 2012-2013
Red markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces deployment in 2013. Blue markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces working with/training/advising/conducting operations with indigenous troops in the U.S. or a third country during 2013. Purple markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces deployment in 2012. Yellow markers: U.S. Special Operations Forces working with/training/advising/conducting operations with indigenous troops in the U.S. or a third country during 2012.

A review of open source information reveals that in 2012 and 2013, U.S. Special Operations forces (SOF) were likely deployed to — or training, advising, or operating with the personnel of — more than 100 foreign countries. And that’s probably an undercount. In 2011, then-SOCOM spokesman Colonel Tim Nye told TomDispatch that Special Operations personnel were annually sent to 120 countries around the world. They were in, that is, about 60% of the nations on the planet. […]

As Special Operations Command chief Admiral William McRaven put it in SOCOM 2020, his blueprint for the future, it has ambitious aspirations to create “a Global SOF network of like-minded interagency allies and partners.” In other words, in that future now only six years off, it wants to be everywhere. […]

U.S. Special Operations Command was established in 1987. Made up of units from all the service branches, SOCOM is tasked with carrying out Washington’s most specialized and secret missions, including assassinations, counterterrorist raids, special reconnaissance, unconventional warfare, psychological operations, foreign troop training, and weapons of mass destruction counter-proliferation operations.

In the post-9/11 era, the command has grown steadily. With about 33,000 personnel in 2001, it is reportedly on track to reach 72,000 in 2014. (About half this number are called, in the jargon of the trade, “badged operators” — SEALs, Rangers, Special Operations Aviators, Green Berets — while the rest are support personnel.) Funding for the command has also jumped exponentially as SOCOM’s baseline budget tripled from $2.3 billion to $6.9 billion between 2001 and 2013. If you add in supplemental funding, it had actually more than quadrupled to $10.4 billion.

Not surprisingly, personnel deployments abroad skyrocketed from 4,900 “man-years” — as the command puts it — in 2001 to 11,500 in 2013. About 11,000 special operators are now working abroad at any one time and on any given day they are in 70 to 80 countries, though the New York Times reported that, according to statistics provided to them by SOCOM, during one week in March 2013 that number reached 92. […]’

Read the full article at: http://mondediplo.com/openpage/america-s-black-ops-blackout

On this day in history: The El Mozote Massacre

On this day in history, December 11, 1981: Units from the U.S. trained/funded Atlacatl Battalion of the Salvadoran Army killed more than 800 civilians (over half of whom were children) in the village of El Mozote, El Salvador and the surrounding area.

Victims Of The Mozote Massacre, Morazán, El Salvador, January 1982  Photo: Susan Meiselas
Victims Of The Mozote Massacre, Morazán, El Salvador, January 1982
Photo: Susan Meiselas

The Atlacatl was a “Rapid Deployment Infantry Battalion” specially trained for counter-insurgency warfare, trained by United States military advisors. The U.S. government, under Jimmy Carter (a Nobel Peace Prize winner, like fellow mass murderer Obama), was funneling enormous amounts of military aid to the Salvadoran military at the time.

El Mozote consisted of about twenty houses situated on open ground around a square. Facing onto the square was a church and, behind it, a small building known as “the convent”, used by the priest to change into his vestments when he came to the village to celebrate mass. Near the village was a small schoolhouse. Upon arrival, the soldiers found not only the residents of the village but also campesinos who had sought refuge from the surrounding area. The soldiers ordered everyone out of their houses and into the square. They made them lie face down, searched them, and questioned them about the guerrillas. They then ordered the villagers to lock themselves in their houses until the next day, warning that anyone coming out would be shot. The soldiers remained in the village during the night.

Early the next morning, the soldiers reassembled the entire village in the square. They separated the men from the women and children and locked them in separate groups in the church, the convent, and various houses. During the morning, they proceeded to interrogate, torture, and execute the men in several locations. Around noon, they began taking the women and older girls in groups, separating them from their children and machine gunning them after raping them. Girls as young as 10 were raped, with some soldiers reportedly heard bragging that they especially liked the twelve-year-old girls. Finally, they killed the children, often by slitting their throats … sometimes hanging them from trees. After killing the entire population, the soldiers set fire to the buildings.

El Playon, Well-Known Location Where Bodies of the “Disappeared” Are Often Found, Sonsonate  Photo: John Hoagland
El Playon, Well-Known Location Where Bodies of the “Disappeared” Are Often Found (Sonsonate)
Photo: John Hoagland

The US officially praised the efficiency of the Atlacatl Batallion on several occasions. During a Senate hearing on El Salvador which took place on 8 February 1992, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights Elliott Abrams stated that ‘the battalion to which you refer [Atlacatl] has been complimented at various times in the past over its professionalism and over the command structure and the close control in which the troops are held when they go into battle’.

The perpetrators of the El Mozote and other equally vicious massacres – along with their supporters in the Carter and Reagan administrations (including the Presidents themselves) – were never charged, as authorities granted all forces a general pardon following the peace accords of 1992 which put an end to the war.

Families Looking for “Disappeared” Relatives in the “Book of the Missing,” Human Rights Commission Office, San Salvador  Photo: Eli Reed
Families Looking for “Disappeared” Relatives in the “Book of the Missing,” Human Rights Commission Office, San Salvador
Photo: Eli Reed
Unearthing of Three Assasinated American Nuns and a Layworker from Unmarked Grave, Santiago Nonualco, December 4, 1980  Photo: Susan Meiselas  Two Young Girls Found Alongside the Highway to Comalapa Airport  Photo: John Hoagland National Guardsmen Arresting a Suspected Guerrilla, Chalatenango  Photo: Kenneth Silverman
Soldiers With Their Mutilated Victims, Chalatenango  Photo: Harry Mattison Soldiers Check University Workers for Identification Following Skirmish with Students, San Salvador, March 1980  Photo: Etienne Montes National Guard Arresting Members of Popular Political Organizations Who Had Occupied the Christian Democratic Party (PDC) Headquarters, San Salvador  Photo: Michel Philippot
Guerrilla Dragged Through the Streets of Cuscatlancingo, March 1982  Photo: Susan Meiselas Female Victims of Death Squad, Apopa  Photo: Chris Steele-Perkins Arrest for Failure to Carry an ID Card, San Salvador  Photo: John Hoagland

 

[These photos from the U.S. backed dirty war in El Salvador were taken from the book “El Salvador: Work of Thirty Photographers (1983)” … keep this fresh in your mind, because this is, no doubt, how your tax dollars are being spent in Afghanistan and Iraq right now.]