We felt good that we killed Osama bin Laden and seemed to have defeated al-Qaeda. But they were nothing compared to the resurgent jihadist army of the Islamic State (formerly known as ISIS, most recently calling themselves ISIL, for “Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant”). They are armed to the teeth with American weapons and other equipment that had been abandoned in Iraq. And they have vast wealth from looting banks and taking over oil fields. And their ambitions are to strike the United States and other Western countries. That’s not much of a progress report in our War on Terrorism. [Read more…]
If you are worried that the U.S. is reigniting the war in Iraq, don’t be. Despite the atrocities being committed by ISIS/The Islamic State, our airstrikes are designed simply to protect Americans in threatened cities and to protect those Yazidis besieged on that mountain (that siege is reportedly over, as the Yazidis have now escaped). But, according to two Washington Post analysts, there is no effort to stop ISIS as such or to win back the large amount of territory they have taken over. [Read more…]
My brother-in-law (Seabees, retired) told me that when we withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan, we are going to be leaving behind or destroying much of the military equipment our troops had been using, since it is too expensive to bring back and there won’t be that much use for it anymore.
Well, now it’s happening. We are putting billions of dollars worth of equipment–including trucks and armored vehicles–into giant metal shredders. Other stuff we are selling to the Afghanis at pennies on the dollar or giving it away free to foreign governments willing to haul it away. [Read more…]
As Islamic State routed tough Kurdish forces (the largest pro-American group in Iraq), drawing near to Americans still in Erbil, President Obama has given the go-ahead for airstrikes “if necessary.” He also said we would drop food and water to the sectarian Muslims that Islamic State is starving out on a mountaintop.
UPDATE: The bombing has begun.
The internet, newspapers, and television news have been showing this photograph of Israel and Gaza from outer space, purporting to show the explosions from the war in that region:
You know tODD, a super-commenter on this blog who specializes in throwing cold water on over-hyped and misinterpreted claims (including those I make in some of my posts, which I actually appreciate!). He did some sleuthing and found that the photograph is showing nothing more than ordinary city lights! He sent his findings to Mollie Hemingway, “the scourge of lazy journalists,” who then exposed the mistake, though I’m not seeing any retractions. [Read more…]
Drone warfare makes some people squirm for the ethical issues it raises, but right now drones are still controlled by human beings. The upcoming technology, though, would make them autonomous, allowing them to make their own “decisions” about whether or not to kill. To meet the moral objections in giving machines the option to kill human beings, some techies are proposing tacking on separate software they are calling “ethical governors” that could automatically run the decisions through international law protocols before going lethal.
What do you think about this? Can there be “artificial morality'” just as there is “artificial intelligence”? (After the jump, a defense of killer robots that goes into these issues.) [Read more…]