Posts Tagged ‘War’
Inspired by the misfortunes of a battalion of US soldiers returning from Iraq with post-traumatic stress syndrome, the Dorothy Arts Collective created this set of green model soldiers showing something else than the heroic side of war usually displayed.
Casualties of WarPlastic moulded figurines with bases7cm highThe hell of war comes home. In July 2009 Colorado Springs Gazettea published a two-part series entitled “Casualties of War”. The articles focused on a single battalion based at Fort Carson in Colorado Springs, who since returning from duty in Iraq had been involved in brawls, beatings, rapes, drunk driving, drug deals, domestic violence, shootings, stabbings, kidnapping and suicides. Returning soldiers were committing murder at a rate 20 times greater than other young American males. A seperate investiagtion into the high suicide rate among veterans published in the New York Times in October 2010 revealed that three times as many California veterans and active service members were dying soon after returning home than those being killed in Iraq and Afghanistan combined. We hear little about the personal hell soldiers live through after returning home.
U2 is the only band that I consistently own all the records from (albeit a small minority only in digital format). I know a lot of people just hate them, and those people are right. They’re pretty much insufferable, don’t really stand out as individual musicians, and what they’ve produced and done the last ten years is highly shitty (the last three albums basically suck totally, except for ‘Beautiful Day’ and ‘Vertigo’, which are awesome tracks). I particularly dislike the whole commercial peace-love-understanding vibe that they’ve gotten into, and Bono’s lyrics are getting progressively worse. Plus, they’re a bunch of millionaires, and they know it.
Nevertheless: everything they produced before 2001′s All That You Can’t Leave Behind is simply fantastic. The early post-punk new wave albums are piercingly forceful and enthusiastic; the more ambient albums after that are beautiful; the Joshua Tree stuff tops everything in greatness; and their 90′s music is dark and original. The Rattle & Hum concert video, by the way, is the single best music video thing ever, maybe except for the Woodstock dvd. Compare that to other bands like The Rollling Stones, which got into ridiculousness way earlier and sooner than this band did.
So, being such at an adept, even though months can go by without listening to even a single track, I’m always happy when material pops up that I’m not familiar with. Case in point here is U2′s “lost” single, ‘A Celebration’, which was released as a single in March 1982 (between the October and War albums), yet never appeared on an album. I do remember seeing it on MTV once, but completely forgot about it had it not been for this Dangerous Minds post recollecting the history of the track, in addition to a nice interview with Bono about it.
It’s actually a pretty decent track with a very nice guitar riff. The clip was shot in Kilgainham Goal (a former prison for political prisoners in Dublin, which hosted some well-known Irish revolutionairies), where I happened to be just a couple of months ago. Here it is:
For more about this, check this blog post. Here’s a part of a 1983 radio interview with Bono about why the group disliked the track and started to ditch it:
Interviewer: I wanna play the other side of that, which is ‘A Celebration’, since we have no hope in the world of hearing this tomorrow, since the band’s forgotten it we’re gonna play that. This is a terrific track, is it ever going to appear on an album?
Bono: No…(laughs) I don’t think so. It ah -
Interviewer: Do you not like it?!
Bono: No I do like it actually, I’m… sometimes I hate it, I mean it’s like with a lot of music, if I hear it in a club it really excites me, and I think it is a forerunner to War and a lot of the themes. It was great in Europe because… A song like ‘Seconds’ people thought was very serious – on the LP War ‘Seconds’ – it’s anti-nuclear, it’s a statement. They didn’t see the sense of humour to it, it’s sort of black humour, where we were using a lot of clichés; y’know It takes a second to say goodbye, blah blah, and some people took it very seriously. And it is black humour, and it is to be taken sort-of seriously, but this song had the lines in it, I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, I believe in the powers that be, but they won’t overpower me. And of course a lot of people they heard I believe in a third world war, I believe in the atomic bomb, and they thought it was some sort of, y’know, Hitler Part II. And Europeans especially were (puts on outraged French accent) Ah non! Vive le France! and it was all like, all sorts of chaos broke out, and they said, What do you mean, you believe in the atomic bomb? And I was trying to say in the song, I believe in the third world war, because people talk about the third world war but it’s already happened, I mean it’s happened in the third world, that’s obvious. But I was saying these are facts of life, I believe in them, I believe in the powers that be BUT, they won’t overpower me. And that’s the point, but a lot of people didn’t reach the fourth line.
The military intervention (or war) in Libya was initially argued for and supported (including by yours truly) in terms of its circumscribed goals – implementing a no-fly zone and preventing humanitarian disaster, no regime change - its legitimization by UN mandate, and its international character.
Judging from an April 14 joint op-ed in the Telegraph by President Obama, Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy, entitled ‘The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes’, however, one or more of these features is now about to change. Instead of the NATO under a UN flag keeping Ghadafi’s air force and tanks immobilized and letting the rebels fend for themselves, the goal of the mission is now apparently regime change.
Regime change! Iraq, anyone?
This is not what this mission was intended for. And not only that, the question is now also to what extent this is still in terms with UN Resolution 1973, which does not provide for regime change at all.
In my opinion, the legitimacy of this mission is now being severely challenged (which is not to say, by the way, that the picture above of Libyan rebels firing what look like Hind-24 helicopter missiles from a truck is not extremely cool).
Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake
The bombing continues until Gaddafi goes
Our duty and our mandate under UN Security Council Resolution 1973 is to protect civilians, and we are doing that. It is not to remove Gaddafi by force. . . . However, so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations so that civilians remain protected and the pressure on the regime builds. Then a genuine transition from dictatorship to an inclusive constitutional process can really begin, led by a new generation of leaders. For that transition to succeed, Colonel Gaddafi must go, and go for good.
Whatever one thinks about this war limited humanitarian intervention on the merits, this is not the mission that Obama cited when justifying America’s involvement. It’s the opposite: ”broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake” v. “so long as Gaddafi is in power, Nato and its coalition partners must maintain their operations.” To claim that “regime change” is subsumbed under the goal of ”protecting civilians” is to define that objective so broadly as to render it meaningless and, independently, is to violate Obama’s explicit decree at the start that regime change would not be the military goal. Finally, note the blithe dismissal of the very limited U.N. Resolution that initially justified all this: it does not provide for regime change in Libya by force, acknowledged the three leaders, but that, in essence, is what we’re going to do anyway (continue “operations” until he’s gone).
Meanwhile, the NYT is reporting that Colonel Ghadafi is firing cluster bombs into residential areas – which, if true, is of course a flagrant war crime. But I’m beginning to doubt whether a newspaper like the NYT can still fully be trusted on such matters. When all is said and done, after all, a paper like the NYT is a perennially establishment-supporting news outlet (up till now, they’re still refusing to call the Bush administration’s interrogation techniques ‘torture’, even though they employ that term when the same techniques are employed in other countries), and reports like this broaden the case for war (compare it to reporting about the atrocities of Saddam Hussein, for example). Embedded journalists on the ground get their information via military forces, moreover, such as the rebels.
Articles are now also being written about the possible exaggeration by Obama of the humanitarian disaster in for instance Benghazi had the coalition not intervened. I don’t know about that – to me, the prevention of an atrocity is still a legit ground for international, UN-mandated intervention – but it’s good to remain watchful.
We recently posted about the U.S. presidential power to make war without formal Congressional declarations of war (as is the case in Libya). Reviewing the history of the twentieth century – with the notable and, admittedly, important exceptions of World Wars I and II – this turns out to be more of a rule than an exception.
Matthew Yglesias takes it back even further, to the nineteenth century, demonstrating that then, too, American presidents often engaged in wars or military activitites without Congressional declarations of war, with Congress merely providing the funds. Thus demonstrating again Scott Lemieux’ thesis that Congress always more or less obliges with this part of executive policy, but that it has the power to halt military operations if it wants to – like in the case of South Vietnam under Carter.
- Edit: On second thought, is this really so peculiar to the US? I doubt whether the Dutch politionele acties in Indonesia in the late 1940s, which despite the name were decidedly military actions, involved a parliamentary declaration of war. Although it must’ve had parliamentary approval. Or the Falkland wars, for that matter. Does anybody have any information?
Not a lot of people know about the so-called “Quasi-War” fought between the United States and France during the John Adams administration, but I think it’s an important episode to recall for the purposes of ongoing debates about the Obama administration’s protestations that the ongoing war in Libya somehow really isn’t a war.
The point isn’t that Obama is right—he’s wrong—but that this is how the game’s always been played. From the administration of the second president ever, we were fighting an undeclared war on presidential authority. And of course Adams’ congressional opponents complained about it. And when they took over the White House, they certainly changed the basic orientation of American foreign policy. But they didn’t really change the practice around this declaration of war business. Instead the new undeclared war was one against Barbary Pirates. Which isn’t to say that congress wasn’t involved in the fight against the pirates. The key point was that congress appropriated funds to send the obtain and dispatch the ships. And from thence onward, despite the fact that we sometimes did get formal declarations of war (World War One and World War Two) and sometimes had a special congressional vote (Gulf War One and Gulf War Two) and sometimes had wars purely on executive recognizance (Civil War, Korea) that congress has always played an important role in the process as the institution that runs the appropriations process.
Which is to say that congressional authorization for the Lincoln administration’s prosecution of a war against the CSA took the form of appropriations and other measures to create the Union Army. And in the case of something like Libya, congressional authorization takes the form of the fact that we just this week had a giant political fight about appropriations in which nobody in the opposition leadership made the slightest gesture in the direction of a “rider” that would prevent the president from prosecuting that war or limiting his discretion in initiating new wars. This is what happens almost every year—Congress appropriates funds for a military, and does little to tie the president’s hands in terms of how he uses it. When congress wants to tie the president’s hands—as it did in the seventies when it stopped the Ford administration from continuing involvement in the defense of South Vietnam—congress gets its way. But most of the time Congress doesn’t want to tie the president’s hands.