Findings, music, and occasional reflections by Paul Woodward

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War

War in the Arctic?

Michael T. Klare writes: In early March, an estimated 7,500 American combat troops will travel to Norway to join thousands of soldiers from other NATO countries in a massive mock battle with imagined invading forces from Russia. In this futuristic simulated engagement — it goes by the name of Exercise Cold Response 2020 — allied forces will “conduct multinational joint exercises with a high-intensity combat scenario in demanding winter conditions,”

‘We are left to face death alone’

Waad al Kateab writes: When the forces of President Bashar al-Assad of Syria destroyed and took control of my city of Aleppo, its residents, including my family, were forced to flee to the northwestern Idlib province. The pattern repeated after every military assault by the Syrian regime on cities and towns outside its control. Idlib became the sanctuary for about four million people. Relentless aerial bombardment by the Assad regime

I can never forget the Bosnian genocide. But others are trying to rewrite history

Janine di Giovanni writes: I covered the war in Bosnia in the mid-1990s, and I know what I saw. I traveled to besieged Sarajevo and to ethnically cleansed regions in eastern and central Bosnia where I interviewed victims of rape camps and bombing campaigns, mothers whose children were killed building snowmen, and the relatives of the elderly who were shot by snipers chopping wood to keep warm in the deep

The resurgence of ISIS

CNN reports: ISIS has begun reasserting itself in Iraq and Syria under a new leader assessed to be an Iraqi operative who was a driving force behind the terror group’s genocide against the Yazidi people, according to a report submitted to the UN Security Council which was made public on Wednesday. The wide-ranging report, compiled by the UN Monitoring Team that tracks the global jihadi terror threat, refers to the

Syrian and Russian mercenaries fighting in Libya

Frederic Wehrey writes: At a mud-caked intersection this month, some hundred-and-fifty feet from the front line, a lanky militia fighter approached and then abruptly turned around when he saw me, a Westerner. I’ve been covering Libya’s conflicts for years and noticed some minor but distinctive details about his appearance: a do-rag tied around his head, an olive green tactical vest, and perhaps a certain military bearing. The Libyan commander I

How Iran covered up the shooting down of an airliner

The New York Times reports: When the Revolutionary Guards officer spotted what he thought was an unidentified aircraft near Tehran’s international airport, he had seconds to decide whether to pull the trigger. Iran had just fired a barrage of ballistic missiles at American forces, the country was on high alert for an American counterattack, and the Iranian military was warning of incoming cruise missiles. The officer tried to reach the

Huge rally as Iraqis demand U.S. troops pull out

BBC News reports: Huge crowds have taken to the streets of Iraq’s capital, Baghdad, to demand that US forces leave Iraq. Powerful Iraqi Shia cleric Moqtada al-Sadr earlier called for a million people to join Friday’s march, close to the US embassy in the capital. Iranian-backed militias were among those protesting in the city. The US killing of the top Iranian military commander, Gen Qasem Soleimani, on 3 January at

Doomsday Clock is now 100 seconds from midnight

Live Science reports: Humanity’s headlong dash toward our own destruction is marked in minutes and seconds in the ticking of the hypothetical Doomsday Clock. How close we are to destroying ourselves registers in the nearness of the clock’s hands to midnight — the hour of absolute extinction. In 2019, the clock’s “timekeepers” with the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists (BAS) fixed the hands at 2 minutes to midnight; that time,

Trump minimizes traumatic brain injuries in Iraq attack as merely ‘headaches’

ABC News reports: President Donald Trump appeared to brush off the traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and concussion-like injuries sustained by U.S. service members after Iran’s missile strike on a military base in Iraq, saying he did not consider them to be “very serious injuries.” “I heard that they had headaches. And a couple of other things,” Trump said Wednesday at a news conference in Davos, Switzerland. “But I would say

The murderous conflict in Syria has been simplified and distorted by both right and left

Ben Ehrenreich writes: It is happening again. Over the last year protest movements – some of them deep and broad enough that we might dare to call them revolutions – have once more been shaking the Middle East and North Africa, ending decades-long dictatorships in Sudan and Algeria, forcing the prime ministers of Lebanon and Iraq to resign. And yet the war brought to Syria by the last wave of

No, your country doesn’t care about Middle Eastern lives

Timothy E. Kaldas writes: Many breathed a sigh of relief this week when it became clear there were no casualties caused by Iranian missile strikes on Iraqi military bases housing US troops. Some applauded Donald Trump’s ‘success’ in carrying out the targeted killing of a key Iranian military leader without experiencing immediate deadly retaliation. Pundit, professor and president of the Eurasia Group, Ian Bremmer tweeted it is “impossible not to

A narrative collapses as Trump tweets: ‘It doesn’t really matter’

The New York Times reports: In the 10 days since it carried out the drone strike that killed Maj. Gen. Qassim Suleimani, the Trump administration has been struggling to draft an after-the-fact narrative to justify it. On Monday, President Trump put an end to that hash of explanations. “It doesn’t really matter,” he tweeted, “because of his horrible past.” Until that message on Twitter, the administration had insisted in various

Trump says ‘it doesn’t really matter’ if Iranian general posed an imminent threat

The Washington Post reports: President Trump added to the controversy over his administration’s justification for the killing of an Iranian general, saying Monday that “it doesn’t really matter” whether it was in response to an imminent threat to the United States. In a tweet, Trump criticized Democrats for trying to determine whether Iranian attacks the administration has said were planned by Maj. Gen. Qasem Soleimani against U.S. targets were imminent.

With a new weapon in Trump’s hands, the Iran crisis risks going nuclear

William Arkin writes: Ten days before Donald J. Trump was elected president in 2016, the United States nuked Iran. The occasion: a nuclear war exercise held every year in late October. In the war game, after Iran sank an American aircraft carrier and employed chemical weapons against a Marine Corps force, the Middle East commander requested a nuclear strike, and a pair of B-2 stealth bombers, each loaded with a

Trump’s Iran problem

Robin Wright writes: On September 19, 1983, during Lebanon’s long civil war, the Reagan Administration ordered Marine peacekeepers in Beirut to open fire on Muslim militias in the mountains overlooking the city. The marines had been deployed for more than a year, after the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, to help hold together one of the world’s most fractured states. Colonel Tim Geraghty, their commander, warned that an attack would cost

Iran deploys riot police as anti-government backlash grows

The Guardian reports: Riot police have been deployed in parts of Tehran the morning after tear gas was used to clear the streets of protesters angry at the government’s having mistakenly shot down a passenger jet killing all 176 people on board. Images of dozens of demonstrators taking to the streets in the capital and other cities including Esfahan were circulating on social media on Sunday morning and activists were