A full decade into the drone war in the Middle East, we’re still asking questions: what does an unmanned military mean for the future of warfare? Who chooses who lives and who dies? What does it mean to pull the trigger on a target half a world away?
And what is like being a veteran of the drone war?
Matthew Power is a freelance print and radio journalist and a contributor to GQ Magazine, where he wrote a profile of former drone operator and Airman First Class Brandon Bryant.
Only a few days after international weapons inspectors arrived in Syria, they’ve begun destroying Syria’sstockpile of chemical weapons along with the equipment used to make it. The team is reportedly using blow torches and heavy trucks to crush weaponry, working as an active war rages on around them.
For a better sense of what weapons inspectors do, we spoke to Tim Trevan. He worked as a U.N. weapons inspector in Iraq in the early 90’s and is currently Executive Director of the International Council for the Life Sciences.
Drawing on Dietrich Bonhoeffer's concept of "cheap grace," Andrew Bacevich exposes the chronic defects in the current U. S. approach to waging war. He explains why the world's most powerful military doesn't win and why the nation's reliance on professional soldiers has turned out to be such a bad bargain. When American soldiers deploy to places like Iraq and Afghanistan, what is the cause for which they fight? The patriotic answer is this: they fight for freedom. Challenge that proposition and you’ll likely pick a quarrel.
We hear the words honor, duty and sacrifice a lot around Veteran’s Day – and rightly so. What we rarely hear about are the individual, human stories that lead men and women to pick up the mantle of those powerful words and to fight in America’s name. “Where Soldiers Come From” follows a pack of close friends from Michigan’s icy Upper Peninsula as they transform from small town teenagers to National Guardsmen fighting in Afghanistan.
Check out the trailer for Where Soldiers Come From:
When we call dogs ‘man’s best friend’, we’re typically referring to their value as companions and protectors - but canines have a long history of helping people with affairs far more solemn that playing fetch. For centuries, dogs have played a pivotal role in aiding the disabled, in hunting, for search and rescue operations, and for their service in police and military applications. After a long hiatus, U.S. bomb-sniffing dogs were re-introduced to the battlefield in 2007. There are now some six-hundred military dogs deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
An inside look at the war in Afghanistan. Recently, an increasing number of American troops have died at the hands of their Afghan counterparts, raising questions about American efforts there. But these incidents don’t come as a surprise to award-winning Washington Post journalist Rajiv Chandrasekaran, who spent two years covering the war in Afghanistan. He's written a book on the conflict -- Little America: The War Within the War for Afghanistan.
During this country's early years, military service was considered the price of citizenship in a free society. Over time, veterans gained in prestige, especially after World War II. Our wars since – some unpopular -- have brought about new attitudes. In his new book, Those Who Have Borne the Battle: A History of America's Wars and Those Who Fought Them, former Dartmouth College President James Wright describes the complicated relationship between this country and its military.
There's a tense calm at South Sudan's front line, just 10 miles from the frontier with Sudan, its neighbor to the north. South Sudanese commander Maj. Gen. Mangar Buong says his troops remain on alert and on the defensive.
There is not a civilian in sight. They all fled the area, known as Panakuach, after Sudan's recent aerial bombardments and escalating concerns about a full-scale war.
Originally published on Thu April 5, 2012 10:30 am
April 6 marks the 20th anniversary of the start of the Bosnian war and the siege of Sarajevo. It was the longest siege of a capital city in modern history, and produced the worst atrocities in Europe since World War II.
Over three-and-a-half years of war, 100,000 people were killed, and half of Bosnia's population of 4.4 million — made up of a plurality of Muslims — fled their homes.
Originally published on Tue March 20, 2012 5:49 pm
Afghans say they're so inured to civilians killed in wars that they bury their dead and move on. That's not so easy for Muhammad Wazir. He lost his mother, his wife, a sister-in-law, a brother, a nephew, his four daughters and two of his sons in last week's mass shooting in two villages.
"My little boy, Habib Shah, is the only one left alive, and I love him very much," says Wazir.
Originally published on Thu March 15, 2012 5:59 pm
Nearly four months after Pakistan closed the main supply lines for U.S. and NATO forces in Afghanistan, the shutdown is creating hardship for Pakistani truckers and is forcing the U.S. to turn to costly and less-efficient alternatives.
The Pakistani move came after an errant U.S. airstrike left 24 Pakistani soldiers dead along the Afghan frontier back in November.
In recent weeks and days, the divisions over how to deal with Iran and its nuclear program have sharpened. The only undisputed fact is that Iran is developing a nuclear energy program, but after that things get murky.
Israel and some European countries believe Iran is moving toward a nuclear weapons program, but U.S. intelligence agencies disagree. Israel argues that a nuclear-armed Iran poses an existential threat, and there's much speculation in the media about a possible Israeli attack on Iran's nuclear sites.
In a nondescript apartment room in Turkey, just across the border from Syria, clouds of cigarette smoke drift toward the ceiling as Syrian opposition activists ponder how to keep people and supplies moving across the border.
Abu Jafaar is the alias of a Syrian smuggler who has been dodging Syrian army patrols for the past several months.
Who are the "brave" men and women who volunteer for active duty in reenacted wars? I spoke with Nick Kowalczyk, Professor of Writing at Ithaca College and war correspondant...of sorts. He covered a re-enactment of the Siege of Niagara, a battle from the French and Indian War, for Salon.
Two weeks ago, Florence Green -- the last known surviving veteran of world war one -- died. She had been a waitress in Britain’s Royal Air Force. The story of the war that was to end all wars survives in historic accounts, novels, poems and pictures. Millions of British and American viewers recently got a glimpse of the battlefield on PBS’s popular Downton Abbey.
All wars bring innovations — in weapons, and also in ways to repair the damage done. Penicillin is one of the more famous examples: It came into use as a treatment for troops in World War II.
The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have brought their own breakthroughs, none more dramatic than the prosthetics that come close to giving back what has been lost. And big advances in treating grievous injuries have meant many more troops coming home alive.
As of early 2010, more than 2 million US troops have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Larry Minear, a researcher on international and internal armed conflicts, has spent a lot of time talking to more than 175 of these veterans, many of whom came from New Hampshire and Vermont. He talked to them about what motivated them to go to war, what they did once they went over, and how they rejoined society upon their return.