Tag Archives: war

Armistice Day Event Madison – A commemoration and a call to end all wars Nov 11

A recording of the Armistice event can be found at…

The Progressive Magazine on YouTube

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The Progressive Magazine on Facebook

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or Veterans for Peace Madison Clarence Kailin Chapter 25 FaceBook  

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Norman Stockwell [Master of Ceremonies]

Alfred W. McCoy

Kathy Kelly

Fran Wiedenhoeft

Larry Orr

 

Music from John McCutcheon and Si Kahn

PDF for poster

ArmsticeDay2021_flyer3pdf


Celebrate Armistice – VFP National

More information and background on Armistice and Veterans Day

 

“The first World War had just ended and nations mourning their dead collectively called for an end to all wars.  Armistice Day was born and was designated as “a day to be dedicated to the cause of world peace and to be thereafter celebrated.”

After World War II, the U.S. Congress decided to rebrand November 11 as Veterans Day. Honoring the warrior quickly morphed into honoring the military and glorifying war. Armistice Day was flipped from a day for peace into a day for displays of militarism.

Veterans For Peace has taken the lead in lifting up the original intention of November 11th – as a day for peace. As veterans we know that a day that celebrates peace, not war, is the best way to honor the sacrifices of veterans. We want generations after us to never know the destruction war has wrought on people and the earth.

Veterans For Peace has been celebrating Armistice Day almost since the organization’s inception, with a few chapters doing yearly events. Since 2008, with the passing of an official Veterans For Peace resolution, it became a VFP national effort. Each year, chapters across the country “Reclaim Armistice Day” by pushing the celebration of peace into the national conversation on Veterans Day.

Veterans For Peace is calling on everyone to stand up for peace this Armistice Day. More than ever, the world faces a critical moment. Tensions are heightened around the world and the U.S. is engaged militarily in multiple countries, without an end in sight.  Here at home we have seen the increasing militarization of our police forces and brutal crackdowns on dissent and people’s uprisings against state power. We must press our government to end reckless military interventions that endanger the entire world. We must build a culture of peace.”

Killer Robots: Applying arms-control frameworks to autonomous weapons

October 5, 2021  |  Zachary Kallenborn

Brookings

“Mankind’s earliest weapons date back 400,000 years—simple wooden spears discovered in Schöningen, Germany. By 48,000 years ago, humans were making bows and arrows, then graduating to swords of bronze and iron. The age of gunpowder brought flintlock muskets, cannons, and Gatling guns. In modern times, humans built Panzer tanks, the F-16 Fighting Falcon, and nuclear weapons capable of vaporizing cities.

Today, humanity is entering a new era of weaponry, one of autonomous weapons and robotics.

The development of such technology is rapidly advancing and poses hard questions about how their use and proliferation should be governed. In early 2020, a drone may have been used to attack humans autonomously for the first time, a milestone underscoring that robots capable of killing may be widely fielded sooner rather than later. Existing arms-control regimes may offer a model for how to govern autonomous weapons, and it is essential that the international community promptly addresses a critical question: Should we be more afraid of killer robots run amok or the insecurity of giving them up?

The current state of autonomy

The first use of an autonomous weapon to kill is thought to have occurred in March of 2020 in Libya, but what actually happened in remains murky. According to a UN report, a Turkish-made Kargu-2 drone is reported to have autonomously “hunted down” members of the Libyan National Army. If the manufacturer’s claims are correct, the Kargu-2 can use machine learning to classify objects, apparently allowing it to “autonomously fire-and-forget.” Turkey denies using the Kargu-2 in this way, though seems to acknowledge the Kargu-2 can be used autonomously. Regardless of whether Kargu-2 was used autonomously in the episode in Libya, the claim that Kargu-2 can be autonomous is plausible on its face.

The United Nations report about the Kargu-2 caused an uproar. Sensationalist headlines compared the Kargu-2 to a “Terminator-style AI drone” that “hunted down human targets without being given orders.” These stories conjured images of out of control, sentient robots killing as they saw fit. To be blunt, that is nonsense. Although artificial intelligence—technically a super intelligent narrow AI—can beat the world’s best human chess and Go players, that is far from a generalized, human-level intelligence like the Terminator. In fact, a sticky note is enough to convince a cutting edge machine vision system that an apple is an iPod.

But simple autonomy is not that hard, and autonomous weapons have been a feature of warfare for centuries. Autonomy is about machines operating without human control. The weapon just needs a sensor, a way to process sensor information, and activate the harmful payload. During the American Civil War, Confederate forces deployed the “Rains Patent,” a simple landmine made of sheet iron with a brass cap sealed in beeswax to protect the fuse. When Union soldiers put sufficient pressure on the Rains Patent, it exploded.

Modern autonomous weapons play a real, but relatively limited role in military operations. The Ottawa Convention banned anti-personnel mines, but anti-vehicle and sea mines are still used. Loitering munitions are somewhere between a drone and a missile, hovering above a battlefield and striking targets that meet various designations. The U.S. Phalanx close-in weapon system, the Israeli Iron Dome, and various active defense systems defend against incoming missiles and other close range risks with varying degrees of autonomy. Along the demilitarized zone between South and North Korea, South Korea has deployed the SGR A-1 gun turret, which reportedly has an optional fully autonomous mode. This is just the beginning.

Though hype in the view of some, artificial intelligence has won over the world’s great military powers as the next great military technology. The U.S. National Security Commission on AI recently concluded that “properly designed, tested, and utilized AI-enabled and autonomous weapon systems will bring substantial military and even humanitarian benefit.” The Chinese People’s Liberation Army believes AI could fundamentally change the character of warfare. Russian President Vladimir Putin’s claim—that the world’s AI leader “will become the ruler of the world”— has become cliché.

Such excitement has translated to new research, prototypes, and increasingly operational autonomous weapons with increasing degrees of sophistication. The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency—the U.S. military’s high risk, high-reward research and development center that helped birth the internet and GPS—ran a virtual dogfight between an F-16 Fighting Falcon and an artificial intelligence last year. The AI beat the human in each of five rounds. China is doing the same, with similar results. The United StatesChina, and Russia are all developing loyal wingman drones: unmanned semi-autonomous or autonomous aircraft that support manned aircraft. The pilot provides strategic decisions, while the artificial intelligence manages the details.

Growing autonomy is closely tied to the rise of unmanned platforms. Numerous states are testing, building, and deploying a wide range of unmanned aircraft, shipssubmarines, and tanks. Unmanned platforms require remote orders to achieve their mission. That’s tough when militaries cannot provide the full staff needed and pilots burn out from overwork. Plus, enemies seek to jam, manipulate, or otherwise interfere with the signals from the pilots to the drone. The more that unmanned platforms can operate without human control, the less need for those signals and the people sending them.

States are integrating unmanned platforms into drone swarms, and in May, Israel became the world’s first to deploy a swarm in combat. In a true drone swarm, the drones communicate and collaborate, forming a single weapons platform. While drone swarms are not necessarily autonomous weapons, no human could control 10,000 drones without artificial intelligence helping. Israel’s groundbreaking use of a drone swarm appears to have consisted of an unknown number of small drones equipped with a mixture of sensors and weapons. Israel’s swarm use is just the beginning. India tested a 75-drone swarm last year, and earlier this year, South Africa’s Paramount Group revealed a swarming system of 41-kilogram long-range drones that cruise at more than 100 miles per hour. Russia, meanwhile, is designing swarms for anti-submarine warfare. Numerous other states are developing other swarm applications.

Assuming these trends continue, autonomous weapons will increasingly enter the battlefield. For some, that’s terrifying.

In his Christmas address of 1937, the Archbishop of Canterbury posed a prescient question: “Who can think without horror of what another widespread war would mean, waged as it would be with all the new weapons of mass destruction?” Arms control debates are rooted in fear, and treaties to control the spread of weapons have sought to address them. Advocates of arms-control treaties fear the consequences of horrific weapons of war spreading widely. Opponents fear what might happen if their adversaries build such weapons, but they cannot. These dueling fears animate everything from gun debates around the dinner table to nuclear arms debates at the United Nations. The proliferation of autonomous weapons creates new fears: that autonomous weapons might misidentify a civilian as a soldier and killing him, that autonomous weapons will provide an enemy state a decisive edge in war.

In an autonomous weapon, the system decides when to engage by processing environmental stimuli. Landmines, for example, use simple pressure sensors—the sensor sensitivity determines whether the heft of a tank or the hands of a child are enough to trigger the explosion. Conversely, an anti-radar loitering munition homes in on radar signals. The risk of error—and by extension the arms control concern—depend on the type of environmental stimuli, how the stimuli is processed, and the type of decisions made.

Emerging autonomous weapons using machine learning process stimuli in more complex ways. Machine learning systems rely on large amounts of data to draw conclusions about what the system observes. But the data dependence also makes them brittle. Color differences, tree branches, or foggy days may confound the ability of the system to correctly identify a target. Although some states may adopt robust verification and testing programs to increase reliability, others may not. As autonomous weapons are deployed in larger numbers, arms control advocates fear a higher likelihood of something going horrifyingly wrong.

As autonomous weapons scale into massive drone swarms, the uncontrolability and potential for mass harm create a new weapon of mass destruction. Imagine 1,000 Slaughterbots flitting about a city, deciding who to kill. And that’s not terribly outlandish: India wants to build a swarm of 1,000 drones operating without human control. And the Naval Postgraduate School is modeling swarms of up to a million drones, operating underwater, on the ocean’s surface, and in the air. Particularly nefarious governments might equip the drones with facial recognition to assassinate regime opponents or carry out ethnic cleansing. States have adopted a wide range of policies to reduce similar risks from traditional weapons of mass destruction, including export controls, arms control treaties, and deterrent and coercive threats. If drone swarms are weapons of mass destruction, they deserve similar risk reduction policies.

At the same time, militaries see great value in the development of autonomous weapons. Autonomous weapons offer speed. A typical human takes 250 milliseconds to react to something they see. An autonomous weapon can respond far faster—Rheinmetall Defense’s Active Defense System can react to incoming rocket-propelled grenade in less than one millisecond. According to General George Murray, head of the U.S. Army’s Future Command, that speed may be necessary to defend against massive drone swarms. These weapons may be the difference between survival and defeat. Giving them up in an arms control treaty would be foolish.

Militaries also dispute the risk of error. Humans get tired, frustrated, and over-confident. That creates mistakes. Autonomous weapons have no such emotion, and advocates of military AI applications argue a reduced error-rate makes pursuing the technology a moral imperative. Plus, artificial intelligence can improve aiming. That reduces collateral harm. For example, Israel reportedly used an artificial intelligence-assisted machine gun to assassinate an Iranian nuclear scientist without hitting the scientist’s wife inches away. So, in their view, what are arms control advocates really afraid of?

Work on this issue is ongoing. Diplomats have debated autonomous weapons issues under the United Nations Convention on Conventional Weapons Group of Governmental Experts on Lethal Autonomous Weapons since 2014. These meetings have accomplished little to create an international treaty on autonomous weapons, but they have helped clarify state positions, brought greater attention to the topic, and better articulated concerns regarding autonomous weapons. Arms control advocates have called for bans and new treaties, but these vary in scope. Groups like the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots argue all autonomous weapons must be banned. Others, like the International Committee of the Red Cross, have a more nuanced view, focusing on “unpredictable” weapons. Human Rights Watch estimates 30 states have endorsed a complete ban.Great military powers have resisted a new arms-control regime, arguing existing international law is sufficient to cover autonomous weapons. Researchers have also floated alternatives to arms control treaties, such as norms and bilateral and multi-lateral confidence-building measures.

The global community must now resolve the tension of fear between arms-control and military advocates. That means serious debate on which types of autonomous weapon offer the most military value and which present the most risk to civilians and noncombatants. Weapons with high risk to civilians and low military value should form the basis of conversations around risk reduction.

Existing arms control treaties offer models to address these complexities. The Ottawa Convention on Anti-Personnel Landmines narrowly focuses on anti-personnel landmines, excluding anti-vehicle landmines that require high pressure to detonate. An autonomous weapon treaty might focus on anti-personnel weapons using machine learning, given the challenges of distinguishing farmers from soldiers. A more precise treaty may allow military powers to separate weapons they fear giving up from the weapons arms control advocates fear proliferating. This may make getting an okay from those powers easier.

Autonomous weapons might also be tiered based on characteristics that make them more or less risky, akin to the Chemical Weapons Convention’s schedules. The convention divides chemical agents into three schedules, based on their historical use as chemical weapons and use for civilian purposes. Chemicals in each schedule have different restrictions placed upon them. Autonomous weapons could also be tiered based on the risk the weapons pose, particularly the risk to civilian populations if the weapon errs and the likelihood of an error. Defensive turrets used at sea to defend against incoming missiles would likely be of lowest risk, while offensive weapons targeting people using machine learning would be a higher tier. Autonomous chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear weapons are the highest risk, and should never be used.

Debate is needed on the best policy approaches to stem the proliferation of the highest risk weapons, and reduce broader global risks. Existing global discussion has focused on whether international treaties should ban the weapons, but that’s just a start. Even if autonomous weapons are banned in whole, in part, or not at all, governments must consider how to ensure they are not inadvertently exported to states not party to the ban. Restricting access to terrorist groups is an extra, different problem as autonomous weapons are simple enough to be made as a classroom project. And if a new international treaty is established, an obvious question is: How can it be given teeth? If a state uses a banned autonomous weapon, should they suffer retaliatory diplomatic or economic sanctions? When, if ever, should the United Nations Security Council endorse military action?

The era of killer robots is here. What comes next is up to the world.

Zachary Kallenborn is a research affiliate with the Unconventional Weapons and Technology Division of the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism, a policy fellow at the Schar School of Policy and Government, and a U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command “Mad Scientist.” 

 


War Criminals: Obama, Trump, every President (since WWII), A few reasons why…

KnowDrones was founded in 2012 to inform the American public about the illegality, immorality and dreadful human consequences of U.S. drone attacks in order to bring about: (1) a complete halt to drone attacks; and (2) an international ban on weaponized drones and military and police drone surveillance.

Uninvited: Sen. Baldwin Denies Access to Constituents Who Oppose the War Machine

Tammy Baldwin Denies Access to Fundraiser Ticketholders Who Have Been Vocal Against the F-35 Bomber Deployment in Madison
By Amy Anderson, Aug 26, 2021

 

[pictures & links – bottom]
The latest battle to stop the planned F-35 bomber deployment to Air National Guard’s Truax Field in Madison took place at the entrance to Senator Tammy Baldwin’s annual summer BBQ fundraiser last Sunday, August 22nd. Held at the picturesque Fields Reserve reception barn on a wooded hill near Lake Kegonsa, some residents came to express their alarm and dismay about the harm to the Madison community that they say the stationing of these jets would bring.

 

However, several constituents who had paid for entry to the $50-$1000 fundraiser received email cancellations and refunds of their donations from the event staff just one day prior to the event. The seven constituents were all members of Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin, a group calling for the halt of F-35s coming to Madison.

These seven individuals came despite the cancellation but were not allowed in as eight security officers and three Dane County sheriff deputies guarded the driveway. So instead they joined the picket organized by the No F35 Action Faction, who brought 35 local residents to picket and pass out flyers. Donors attending the event waited in lines in their cars, sometimes for 15 minutes or longer while a single event staff person checked tickets against a list of names to determine if each passenger was on the approved list for entry.

One of the most vocal members denied entry was Tom Berman, a northside
homeowner for 37 years who has also operated a small business there for 32 years.
He expressed desperation that his beloved home and place of business will be
officially condemned as being within an “uninhabitable” zone once the F-35 jets
arrive and the frequent practice drills begin.

He quotes the Air Force’s Environmental Impact Statement that there are already 6222 sorties planned each year for the F-35s once they arrive in 2023. This is a 27% rise over current flights from Truax Field. He explained that the noise levels from takeoff of F-35s are traumatic to humans and more than four times louder than the F-16s which currently regularly practice over Madison’s east and northside.

David Williams from the No F35 Action Faction called the blacklisting of Madison residents from the event a sad but unsurprising disappointment in light of the Senator’s continued stonewalling against the growing voices from her own hometown against this deployment. “Our original picket slogan was We should not have to pay to be heard. But now we realize that even for those purchasing a ticket, we still don’t get to be heard.”

 

Mr. Berman reports that after the event was over Senator Baldwin did stop and let him give her his letter on her way out, saying she would have one of her staff get back to him.

 

The Safe Skies and Action Faction groups have been working for over two years to raise public awareness and to pressure Senator Baldwin, who has been a supporter of deploying F-35s in Madison rather than a sparsely populated area where it would be easier to mitigate the impacts.

 

Objections to the F-35 deployment include:

  • regular traumatic and unhealthy noise levels for Madison residents
  • the expense and hardship of relocating multiple Madison residents
  • decrease in property values for east and northside residents
  • impacts will affect low-income and minority populations the most
  • increase of PFAS “forever” chemicals commonly used in firefighting drills at Truax which  have already contaminated local waterways and many municipal wells
  • the well-documented dubiety of the F-35s as a military investment
  • the danger of bringing these nuclear-capable planes to Madison
  • the escalation of out-of-control military spending and endless war

 

Find Safe Skies Clean Water Wisconsin and sign up for updates.

Like  No F-35s Action Faction on Facebook, and they welcome people to join the cause.

 

America’s Afghan War: A Defeat Foretold? by Adam Nossiter

August 21, 2021  |  Adam Nossiter  |  New York Times

 

Adam Nossiter is the Kabul bureau chief for the NY Times.

 

original link …

America’s Afghan War: A Defeat Foretold? by Adam Nossiter


Intercept: Top Defense [War Crime] Profits

Open Secrets: Last Afghan Contracts

“It was 8 a.m. and the sleepy Afghan sergeant stood at what he called the front line, one month before the city of Kunduz fell to the Taliban. An unspoken agreement protected both sides. There would be no shooting.

That was the nature of the strange war the Afghans just fought, and lost, with the Taliban.

President Biden and his advisers say the Afghan military’s total collapse proved its unworthiness, vindicating the American pullout. But the extraordinary melting away of government and army, and the bloodless transition in most places so far, point to something more fundamental.

The war the Americans thought they were fighting against the Taliban was not the war their Afghan allies were fighting. That made the American war, like other such neocolonialist adventures, most likely doomed from the start.

Recent history shows it is foolish for Western powers to fight wars in other people’s lands, despite the temptations. Homegrown insurgencies, though seemingly outmatched in money, technology, arms, air power and the rest, are often better motivated, have a constant stream of new recruits, and often draw sustenance from just over the border.

Outside powers are fighting one war as visitors — occupiers — and their erstwhile allies who actually live there, something entirely different. In Afghanistan, it was not good versus evil, as the Americans saw it, but neighbor against neighbor.

When it comes to guerrilla war, Mao once described the relationship that should exist between a people and troops. “The former may be likened to water,” he wrote, “the latter to the fish who inhabit it.”

And when it came to Afghanistan, the Americans were a fish out of water. Just as the Russians had been in the 1980s. Just as the Americans were in Vietnam in the 1960s. And as the French were in Algeria in the 1950s. And the Portuguese during their futile attempts to keep their African colonies in the ’60s and ’70s. And the Israelis during their occupation of southern Lebanon in the ’80s.

Each time the intervening power in all these places announced that the homegrown insurgency had been definitively beaten, or that a corner had been turned, smoldering embers led to new conflagrations.