The AFP pictures, which include the one shown here, prove that U.S. Special Forces soldiers are directly engaged in combat operations with the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces in the latter's efforts to capture the unofficial capital of ISIS, Raqqa.
Despite the photographic proof of American military forces fighting in the field along side their Syrian "allies," the Defense Department continues to insist that the 300 or so U.S. soldiers in Syria are there for nothing more than to "advise and assist" the Syrian Democratic Forces and other majority-Kurdish troops battling ISIS.
According to a report on the photos published last week in the Washington Post, U.S. Special Forces troops were "clustered around what appears to be an advanced Mk.47 40mm automatic grenade launcher. The system, built by General Dynamics, is primarily used by Special Operations units and has not been widely sold outside the United States."
A leader in the Kurdish militia confirmed to AFP that U.S. ground troops were actively engaged in the fighting. AFP reported last week:
SDF field commander Hawkar Kobane told AFP that "US forces are taking part in this operation" alongside his own troops.
"On the rooftop of this house, there are US forces using (anti-tank) TOW missiles to fire on the explosives-rigged cars that Daesh [ISIS] is using to attack the SDF."
Apparently in order to disguise their identities, the U.S. forces were wearing insignia of the Kurdish militia on their uniforms.
Despite the photographs and the testimony of witnesses fighting alongside the Americans, the Department of Defense denies that U.S. soldiers are involved in directly participating in combat missions in the area.
"They are in an advise-and-assist mission. They are not on the front lines," said Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook.
That's odd, Mr. Cook, considering Kurdish war fighters tell AFP reporters that American troops are "present at all positions along the front."
"They are not on the forward line," Cook insists.
The smacks of the sort of Defense Department double-talk that is the argot of the military arm of the American empire. Not to mention that it places people in the difficult position of trusting the word of a Pentagon spokesman or of a Kurdish militia leader.
It is this imperial deployment of the U.S. military that violates not only the Constitution, but the international rules of engagement, as well. The Ron Paul Institute took note of this disdain and disregard for the rule of law and the law of the land.
It must be remembered that the presence of US military forces inside Syria is contrary to both U.S. and international law, as they have not been invited by the internationally-recognized Syrian government nor have they been authorized by the U.S. Congress. It is an illegal and highly risky military operation.
Now that there is irrefutable evidence of the engagement of U.S. ground troops in a foreign civil war, perhaps "conservatives" will abandon their hawkish pursuit of Pax Americana and will turn to the peace, prosperity, and power that comes from adherence to the Constitution's limits on the waging of war.
To this end, Senator Rand Paul (R-Ky.) will introduce a measure aimed at restoring Congress's authority to declare war, forcing the president back inside the boundaries of his constitutional power. As it stands, thousands of American servicemen are sent from pole to pole at the sole discretion of the man in the Oval Office.
For over a decade now, consecutive presidents have assumed the monarchical prerogative of ordering the military might of the United States to build up puppet governments, break down those reluctant to recognize the rule of an American emperor, and to create then crush new regimes.
Our Founders warned of this situation and its effect on liberty.
In the not too distant past the United States had a vibrant middle class. Prosperity for most families was the rule rather than the exception. This didn’t happen by accident or some odd twist of luck. It happened because as a country we setup a foundation that valued a robust middle class. The Great Depression had taught us some profound economic lessons and humility. But like a car that is neglected and falls into disrepair, the middle class is now a minority group in this country. We tend to romanticize the past but in this case there is some truth to this view of history. Going to college is now putting millions of Americans into incredible levels of debt. Buying a home is moving further out of arms reach for most working families. And the notion of a secure retirement is turning out to be more of a fairy tale than reality. Once upon a time, the U.S. had a majority living in the middle class.
Where does the middle class go from here?
The middle class used to represent economic stability. For anyone with the desire to work hard providing economic stability was doable. That is no longer the case. And this isn’t some relentless free market capitalism that we are seeing. It is financial cronyism in many cases. The public is pushed into a narrative that discusses austerity and financial belt tightening. Then you have financial institutions using the government as a piggybank and gaming the system – bad bets they win, good bets they win. The losses are charged onto the public’s credit card. Privatizing the gains, socializing the losses.
So it is no wonder why the middle class has eroded into a minority:
Most Americans that took a hit from the Great Recession went from middle-income to lower-income households. The good paying jobs simply did not come back at a rate in which they were lost. We also have a large number of Americans not in the labor force. What is being asked of many younger workers is for higher taxes, bigger college expenses, smaller paychecks, and a less certain future. They hear their parents saying, “once upon a time, the U.S. had a vibrant middle class.”
This isn’t intended to be some long lament but a recognition that many families are being shafted under the guise of free market capitalism. This is not that. There is largely no disagreement that on a large scale, competition is extremely healthy because it caters to what people know best, their self interest. The financial system should serve as a means of revving up the real economy. Yet what we have now is a financial system that largely operates as a predatory vampire extracting real wealth from the economy and families and funneling it into the wallets of few on Wall Street that essentially operates as modern day loan sharks.
Once upon a time, the financial system operated more like a utility rather than a casino. Glass-Steagall a law that came about in 1933 after the economic horrors of the Great Depression was repealed in 1999 by Bill Clinton and fully supported by both Republicans and Democrats. This legislation that largely separated commercial and investment banks was broken down. So it is no surprise that subprime lending took off nearly at the same time:
These were the toxic mortgages that set the American housing market on fire. But what brought the system down was the side bets made by Wall Street (see The Big Short for a short crash course). When everything came crashing down the financial system was bailed out at the expense of the U.S. middle class. Now the homeownership rate is near a generational low. Once upon a time, we had a sane financial system.
There was once a vibrant and healthy middle class in the United States. Today that is not the case. The anger you see in the country today being manifested in a contentious election year stems from this. Once upon a time, our representatives cared about a middle class. Now most are millionaires serving those with the deepest pockets.