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America's Counter-Revolution
The Constitution Revisited

From the back cover:

This book challenges the assumption that the Constitution was a landmark in the struggle for liberty. Instead, Sheldon Richman argues, it was the product of a counter-revolution, a setback for the radicalism represented by America’s break with the British empire. Drawing on careful, credible historical scholarship and contemporary political analysis, Richman suggests that this counter-revolution was the work of conservatives who sought a nation of “power, consequence, and grandeur.” America’s Counter-Revolution makes a persuasive case that the Constitution was a victory not for liberty but for the agendas and interests of a militaristic, aristocratic, privilege-seeking ruling class.

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Abolish Special Ops Forces

It’s time to disband the Navy’s SEAL Team 6 and all other secretive, unaccountable units of the U.S. imperial military. As is said about lawyers, if we didn’t have these units, we wouldn’t need them.
The New York Times reported recently:
While fighting grinding wars of attrition in Afghanistan and Iraq, Team 6 performed missions elsewhere that blurred the traditional lines between soldier and spy. The team’s sniper unit was remade to carry out clandestine intelligence operations, and the SEALs joined Central Intelligence Agency operatives in an initiative called the Omega Program, which offered greater latitude in hunting adversaries.
Team 6 has successfully carried out thousands of dangerous raids that military leaders credit with weakening militant networks, but its activities have also spurred recurring concerns about excessive killing and civilian deaths.
Afghan villagers and a British commander accused SEALs of indiscriminately killing men in one hamlet; in 2009, team members joined C.I.A. and Afghan paramilitary forces in a raid that left a group of youths dead and inflamed tensions between Afghan and NATO officials. Even an American hostage freed in a dramatic rescue has questioned why the SEALs killed all his captors.
We are expected to trust the government that those operations kill bad guys only. But why should we, when it has done so much to earn our distrust? It has long downplayed the civilian deaths inflicted by drones, bombers, and ground operations.
The Times writes,
When suspicions have been raised about misconduct, outside oversight has been limited. Joint Special Operations Command, which oversees SEAL Team 6 missions, conducted its own inquiries into more than a half-dozen episodes, but seldom referred them to Navy investigators. “JSOC investigates JSOC, and that’s part of the problem,” said one former senior military officer experienced in special operations, who like many others interviewed for this article spoke on the condition of anonymity because Team 6’s activities are classified.
Even the military’s civilian overseers do not regularly examine the unit’s operations. “This is an area where Congress notoriously doesn’t want to know too much,” said Harold Koh, the State Department’s former top legal adviser, who provided guidance to the Obama administration on clandestine war.
Here we have a super-secretive unit of killers that is protected from accountability by its own. William C. Banks, a Syracuse University expert on national-security law, told the Times, “If you’re unacknowledged on the battlefield, you’re not accountable.”
Members of Congress pretend to keep an eye on the military to prevent criminal behavior -- but in fact they are integral to the corrupt system: with eyes turned away, they keep it going with large sums of money.
“Waves of money have sluiced through SEAL Team 6 since 2001,” the Times writes, “allowing it to significantly expand its ranks — reaching roughly 300 assault troops, called operators, and 1,500 support personnel — to meet new demands.”
And this is just one unit, though it is the most glamorized, having conducted the raid that reportedly killed Osama bin Laden in Abbottabad, Pakistan, in 2011.
The Times quotes James G. Stavridis, retired admiral and former NATO Supreme Allied Commander, who said, “If you want these forces to do things that occasionally bend the rules of international law, you certainly don’t want that out in public.” By “bend the rules,” Stavridis means, in the Times’ words, “going into undeclared war zones.”
So politicians need secretive military units to fight undeclared wars -- which would seem to violate the Constitution.
The existence of secretive military units conducting private lethal operations should bother anyone who aspires to live in a free society. Their very nature offends common decency. Yet a propagandized population takes for granted that secrecy is legitimate and necessary for our safety in a terrorism-plagued world.
Beyond the obvious objections to secretive military units, there is also this: U.S. intervention in the Muslim world makes people want to kill Americans, as government officials widely acknowledge. Secretive military units allow the national-security elite to engage in actions that provoke violence against Americans confident that Team 6 and the Army’s Delta Force will neutralize any retaliatory threat.
For our own safety, we must disband these squads of killers.
Sheldon Richman keeps the blog "Free Association" and is a senior fellow and chair of the trustees of the Center for a Stateless Society.

5 comments:

Don Bacon said...

Obama nixed torture in January 2009 (previously banned by Reagan) and replaced it with assassination, by drone and hit squads. This is in line with The 2015 National Security Strategy:

The strategy sets out the principles and priorities that describe how America will lead the world toward greater peace and a new prosperity.
We will lead with purpose, guided by our enduring national interests and values and committed to advancing a balanced portfolio of priorities worthy of a great power.
We will lead with strength, harnessing a resurgent economy, increased energy security, an unrivaled military, and the talent and diversity of the American people.
We will lead by example, upholding our values at home and our obligations abroad. . . .

(just kidding)

Nathan said...

A ban like this is impossible to enforce, and will just drive the operations even deeper into the darkness. It is control and accountability that is needed, and a withdrawal from imperialism: without that intense desire to meddle around the world without any control and accountability, the spec-ops will continue to abuse and be abused. By restoring military forces to their only legitimate function - the defense of liberty against aggression - the need for spec-ops WILL be reduced, and control of budgets and operations will be possible. Don't throw the baby out with the bathwater. Even in defense (examples: colonial forces during the American War for Independence, Texian forces during the Texas War for Independence, southern forces during the War of Northern Aggression, occupied countries under the Third Reich during WW2) there is still a need for spec-ops forces.

Anonymous said...

The first armed force ever created was for invasion. All subsequent armed forces have been for defence and invasion.
ALL armed forces should be disbanded and therefore there would be no wars - no chess pieces to play chess: no chess.
Special forces are the bankers' death squads, their armed forces their assassins.

regards

Harbinger

Anonymous said...

A poorly written article!

Sheldon Richman said...

Anon, I am truly sorry. Can you provide any suggestions?