Tag Archives: drones

Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions

By Christof Heyns

The UN report condemning the broad use of drones, the extrajudicial killings of people around the world, the violation of sovereignty, and the blatant dismissal of international law by the United States.

Report of the Special Rapporteur on extrajudicial, summary or arbitrary executions


6 Ways Obama Contradicts Himself in Waging War on ISIS


A year ago, before public and congressional opposition changed his mind, President Obama planned to attack the forces of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, a brutal dictator whom he said had to go. This week Obama switched sides in Syria’s civil war by attacking the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), Assad’s most formidable enemy among the rebels fighting to overthrow his regime.

Confused? You should be. Obama certainly is. Let us count the ways:

1. Obama has repeatedly promised that his war against ISIS will not involve U.S. ground troops in Iraq or Syria, but Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says they may be necessary. The White House argues that armed military “advisers” who call in air strikes, serve on the front lines, and could easily become involved in combat do not count as ground troops.

2. As proxies for U.S. soldiers in Syria, Obama is counting on the “appropriately vetted elements of the Syrian opposition” whom Congress last week authorized the Pentagon to train and arm. On Tuesday he called them “the best counterweight to [ISIS] and the Assad regime.” But last month Obama toldThe New York Times the idea that U.S. assistance could turn “an opposition made up of former doctors, farmers, pharmacists and so forth” into an effective fighting force “has always been a fantasy.”

3. Obama says U.S. military assistance will be limited to “moderate Syrian opposition forces.” According to the bill approved by Congress, “appropriately vetted” rebels do not include groups linked to terrorist organizations such as the Nusra Front, a Syrian branch of Al Qaeda. But as the Times points out, “even the more secular forces have turned to Islamists for support and weapons over the years, and the remaining moderate rebels often fight alongside extremists like the Nusra Front.”

4. Running for the Democratic nomination in 2007, Obama declared that “the President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Although Obama admits ISIS does not pose such a threat, he says he does not need congressional authorization to wage war against it.

5. Obama brags about ending the “dumb” and “rash” war in Iraq, which he says was based on a trumped-up threat. But he also says that war has not really ended, citing the 2002 authorization for it as part of his argument for attacking ISIS in Iraq without seeking congressional approval.

6. “Our objective is clear,” Obama claims, right before showing that it isn’t. The aim, he says, is to “degrade and destroy” ISIS. But don’t get the wrong idea: Destroying ISIS does not necessarily mean destroying ISIS. It could mean that ISIS is “degraded to the point where it is no longer the kind of factor that we’ve seen it being over the last few months.” In other words, “we can continue to shrink [ISIS’s] sphere of influence, its effectiveness, its financing, its military capabilities, to the point where it is a manageable problem.”

According to the president, then, acceptable outcomes of this war range from making ISIS less of a factor (whatever that might mean) to wiping it from the face of the planet. As additional insurance against failure, the administration says this effort will take at least three years, so seeing it through will be the responsibility of Obama’s successor. Don’t blame Obama if things go south after 2016!

And what about that awful Assad regime, the one Obama said must go? The arming of “appropriately vetted” Syrian rebels, according to the legislation approving it, is aimed at “promoting the conditions for a negotiated settlement to end the conflict in Syria.”

It would be terribly confusing if Assad had a place at that table, especially if he were joined by a degraded-but-not-destroyed ISIS. It is hard to believe something like that could happen—unless Obama promises that it won’t.

6 Ways Obama Contradicts Himself in Waging War on ISIS

WTF White House Statement Of The Day: Syria Airstrikes Edition

When President Obama bragged earlier that “The United States is and will remain the one indispensable nation in the world…” adding that “no other nation can do what we do,” we should have guessed some more war-mongering was coming… and sure enough. As AP reports, it appears Syrian airstrikes are on their way.. but there’s a mind-blowing twist in US foreign policy: “In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets.” In the words of the Guinness commercial, Brilliant.

As AP reports,

The intelligence gathered by U.S. military surveillance flights over Syria could support a broad bombing campaign against the Islamic State militant group, but current and former U.S. officials differ on whether air power would significantly degrade what some have called a “terrorist army.”

 "Air power needs to be applied like a thunderstorm, not a drizzle,“ Deptula said, entailing "24-7 overwatch with force application on every move of ISIL personnel.”

Further complicating the plans, any military action against Islamic State militants in Syria would also have the effect of putting the U.S. on the same side as Syrian President Bashar Assad, whose ouster the Obama administration has sought for years.

So first Iran and now Syria are best buddies with America?  Well we can’t have that…

The U.S. is not cooperating or sharing intelligence with the Assad government, Pentagon and State Department spokesmen said. But the U.S. flights are occurring in eastern Syria, away from most of Syria’s air defenses. And experts expressed doubt that Syria would attempt to shoot down American aircraft that are paving the way for a possible bombing campaign against Assad’s enemies.

 In an effort to avoid unintentionally strengthening the Syrian government, the White House could seek to balance strikes against the Islamic State with attacks on Assad regime targets. However, that option is largely unappealing to the president given that it could open the U.S. to the kind of long-term commitment to Syria’s stability that Obama has sought to avoid.