Today is a really good day for the United States to reconsider its seemingly boundless support for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
On the same morning that an Associated Press investigation found that U.S.-backed, Saudi led-forces in Yemen's civil war have been cutting deals with Al Qaeda militants, the regime in Riyadh — keepers of Islam's holiest cities, funders of radical Islamism, home to 80% of the 9/11 hijackers — started a troll war with Canada (?!), culminating in this now-deleted tweet from a state-run account:
What the actual fuck?
Here's how we got there: While we've been digesting the news that Saudi Arabia has been using U.S. aid in Yemen and making alliances with Osama Bin Laden's weak-but-intact terror franchisees, the Saudis got into a fight with our neighbors to the north over women's rights — specifically, whether to have any.
Late last week, Canadian officials began publicly pressing the Kingdom to release women's rights activists from around Saudi Arabia, who've been swept up and jailed as Mohammed bin Salman, the crown prince, consolidates his power and cracks down on dissenters.
Of course, there's a chance the Saudis were merely going for a light troll in that tweet, simply intimating that the Canadian diplomatic corps was flying Air Canada back after offending their hosts:
The problem with that charitable account is it's still not very charitable: You're bragging about sending diplomats home because they asked you not to jail politically active women without charges. (Also, why would you depict Canadian government officials heading for Toronto and its iconic CN Tower, and not, say, Ottawa, the actual capital of Canada, 300 miles away?)
All of which is to say that maybe the United States, 17 years after 9/11 and the missing 28 pages, should really, finally, reconsider its relationship to the repressive, Al Qaeda-dealing Saudi regime. Maybe a president who prioritizes fighting terror without apology is just the guy to deal with this.
Long before Tony Stark took a load of shrapnel to the chest in a distant war zone, science fiction legend Robert Heinlein gave America the most visceral description of powered armor for the warfighter of the future. Forget the spines of extra-lethal weaponry, the heads-up display, and even the augmented strength of an Iron Man suit — the real genius, Heinlein wrote in Starship Troopers, "is that you don't have to control the suit; you just wear it, like your clothes, like skin."
"Any sort of ship you have to learn to pilot; it takes a long time, a new full set of reflexes, a different and artificial way of thinking," explains Johnny Rico. "Spaceships are for acrobats who are also mathematicians. But a suit, you just wear."
First introduced in 2013, U.S. Special Operations Command's Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) purported to offer this capability as America's first stab at militarized powered armor. And while SOCOM initially promised a veritable Iron Man-style tactical armor by 2018, a Navy spokesman told Task & Purpose the much-hyped exoskeleton will likely never get off the launch pad.
"The prototype itself is not currently suitable for operation in a close combat environment," SOCOM spokesman Navy Lt. Phillip Chitty told Task & Purpose, adding that JATF-TALOS has no plans for an external demonstration this year. "There is still no intent to field the TALOS Mk 5 combat suit prototype."
U.S. troops patrol at an Afghan National Army (ANA) Base in Logar province, Afghanistan on August 7, 2018. (Reuters/Omar Sobhani/File Photo)
MUSCAT/KABUL (Reuters) - Even before any peace push-related drawdowns, the U.S. military is expected to trim troop levels in Afghanistan as part of an efficiency drive by the new commander, a U.S. general told Reuters on Friday, estimating the cuts may exceed 1,000 forces.