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Military Industrial Complex


We need peace officers, not pinkertons: What’s Wrong with Police in America

By Dave Lindorff

 

            Americans got a glimpse of what policing is like in a more humane and civilized society last year when four young Swedish cops, on vacation in New York City and riding on a subway, found themselves faced with a bloody fight in the aisle by two angry black men.

When $8.5 Trillion is Chump Change

Three cheers for Reuters pointing out that the Pentagon can't explain what it did with $8.5 trillion that taxpayers gave it between 1996 and 2013.

Three trillion cheers for a blogger who is pointing out that this fact renders many other concerns ludicrous, and recommending that people bring it up at every opportunity:

"What's that? Body cameras for all cops will be too expensive? How about we find 1/10,000th of the money we sent to the Pentagon."

"Oh really? There's 500 million in provable food stamp fraud going to poor people how about the $8.5 TRILLION the pentagon can't account for?"

"Oh really? You think Obamacare is going to cost us almost a trillion dollars over 15 years? How about the 8.5 Trillion that just disappeared into the ether at the Pentagon? What's your take on that?"

"Oh really, you're concerned about deficit spending and the debt? Fully 1/3 of the national debt is money we sent the Pentagon and they can't tell us where it went. It's just gone."

"College for everyone will cost too much? You must be really pissed at the 8.5 Trillion, with a 't', dollars the pentagon's spent and can't tell us where it went."

This is all very good as far as it goes, whether you like the body cameras or corporate health insurance or other items or not. We could add an unlimited number of items including some expressing our concern for the other 96% of humanity:

"You can end starvation and unclean water for tens of billions of dollars; what about that $8.5 trillion?"

Et cetera.

But here's my real concern. The $8.5 trillion is just the bit that the Pentagon can't account for. That's far from all the money it was given. U.S. military spending, spread across several departments with the biggest chunk of it to the Department of so-called Defense, is upwards of $1 trillion every year. Over 17 years at the current rate, which rose sharply after 2001, that's upwards of $17 trillion.

Imagine that the Pentagon accounted for every dime of that missing $8.5 trillion, named every profiteer, documented the life history of every man, woman, and child killed, and passed the strictest audit by an independent team of 1,000 accountants reporting to 35 Nobel Laureates -- if that happened, I ask you, exactly what difference would it make?

Why is the $8.5 trillion that went to unknown purposes worse than the other trillions that went to known and named weapons and dictators and militants and recruitment campaigns? The documented and accounted for spending all went to evil purposes. Presumably the unaccounted for "waste" did the same. What's the difference between the two?

As World Beyond War points out, war has a huge direct financial cost, the vast majority of which is in funds spent on the preparation for war — or what's thought of as ordinary, non-war military spending. Very roughly, the world spends $2 trillion every year on militarism, of which the United States spends about half, or $1 trillion. This U.S. spending also accounts for roughly half of the U.S. government's discretionary budget each year and is distributed through several departments and agencies. Much of the rest of world spending is by members of NATO and other allies of the United States, although China ranks second in the world.

Wars can cost even an aggressor nation that fights wars far from its shores twice as much in indirect expenses as in direct expenditures. The costs to the aggressor, enormous as they are, can be small in comparison to those of the nation attacked.

It is common to think that, because many people have jobs in the war industry, spending on war and preparations for war benefits an economy. In reality, spending those same dollars on peaceful industries, on education, on infrastructure, or even on tax cuts for working people would produce more jobs and in most cases better paying jobs — with enough savings to help everyone make the transition from war work to peace work.

Military spending diverts public funds into increasingly privatized industries through the least accountable public enterprise and one that is hugely profitable for the owners and directors of the corporations involved -- thus concentrating wealth.

While war impoverishes the war making nation, can it nonetheless enrich that nation more substantially by facilitating the exploitation of other nations? Not in a manner that can be sustained.

Green energy and infrastructure would surpass their advocates’ wildest fantasies if the funds now invested in war were transferred there.

Consorting with the devil

By Mel Gurtov

Throughout the Cold War, and doubtless right down to the present, professional people with skills relevant to “national security” have been secretly recruited to work for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense. Universities are among those particularly targeted.  Scholars and campus research centers have received CIA and DoD funding for conferences and publications, for collecting intelligence while abroad, and even for spying, all under cloak of secrecy.

Among the more notorious examples is the 1985 scandal at Harvard, in which the head of its Center for Middle Eastern Studies Center was found to have a financial contract with the CIA for research and conferences.  He was forced to resign. Yale has had unusually close ties with the CIA dating back many years, contributing student recruits and directors.

New Pentagon War Manual Could Have Been Written By Nazis

By Sherwood Ross 
 
The Pentagon's new Law of War Manual(LOWM) sanctioning nuclear attacks and the killing of civilians, "reads like it was written by Hitler's Ministry of War," says international law authority Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois at Champaign.
 
"Historically, this is a terrible development," he added in an exclusive interview with this reporter. "We are reducing ourselves to the level of the Nazis."
 
The grim, 1,165-page-long document, issued in June by the Defense Department's Office of the General Counsel, also sanctions the use of napalm, herbicides, depleted uranium, and drone missile strikes, among other barbarities.
 
Boyle points out the new manual is designed to supplant the 1956 U.S. Army Field Manual 27-10 written by Richard Baxter, the world's leading authority on the Laws of War. Baxter was the Manley O. Hudson Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and a Judge on the International Court of Justice. Boyle was his top student.
 
Boyle is the leading professor, practitioner and advocate of international law in America. He drafted the U.S. implementing legislation for the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention known as  the Biological Weapons Anti-Terrorism Act of 1989.
 
"Over the years, 27-10 has proven to be a total embarrassment to the Pentagon because it sets forth a fair and accurate statement of the Laws of War both as of 1956 and as of today," Boyle says. He termed the new manual a "warmongering" document.
 
The new document seeks to distinguish between “legitimate” and “illegitimate” acts of military violence against civilian targets, using the criterion of military necessity," points out Peter Martin of the World Socialist Website. "Thus, acts of mass slaughter of civilians could be justified if sufficient military advantages were gained by the operations.”
 
The bulk of the document, Martin continues, "amounts to a green light for military atrocities, including mass killings." 
 
Martin said the most comprehensive previous such document, the 1956 Pentagon field manual, did not state that civilians, unlike military personnel, should be spared "unnecessary suffering" because it assumed... "that any deliberate targeting of civilians was illegal and a war crime."
 
Among the flagrant violations of international law sanctioned by the Pentagon's new LOWM, Martin writes, are:
 
# Legitimizing the use of nuclear weapons. LOWM states, "There is no general prohibition in treaty or customary international law on the use of nuclear weapons." This flies in the face of a number of existing international covenants. Under the UN Charter as interpreted by the World Court in its Advisory Opinion on the Legality of the Threat or Use of Nuclear Weapons, even threatening to use nuclear weapons, as the U.S. and Israel have  threatened Iran, is illegal and thus a war crime. 
 
# Authorizing the use of banned incendiary weapons such as napalm, herbicides (as Agent Orange in Viet Nam), depleted uranium munitions (as used in Iraq). Napalm, for example, is banned under Protocol III of the 1980 UN Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons.
 
# Authorizing the use of cluster munitions, mines and booby-traps, the LOWM rationalizes that "the United States is not a Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions." (That's a disgrace, of course, when the overwhelming majority of nations have signed it.)
 
# Defends drone missile attacks, both by the Pentagon and intelligence outfits such as the Central Intelligence Agency, declaring flatly: "There is no prohibition in the law of war on the use of remotely piloted aircraft…" To the contrary, targeted killing off the battlefield is prohibited.
 
# Authorizes the use of exploding hollow-point bullets, stating the U.S. is not a party to the 1868 St. Petersburg declaration banning their use. (At this writing, the U.S. is only 147 years late.)
 
In sum, the move by the Pentagon to supplant  the 1956 manual with the LOWM represents an effort to justify the excesses of its trillion dollar-a-year war machine, one that is as large as the next dozen nations combined.
 
The Pentagon today operates some 900 military bases globally, allegedly for "defense," and engages in warfare in a dozen countries. The new Pentagon manual illuminates in bold print the downward drift of the U.S. from a democratic to a totalitarian society.
 
LOWM has received no play in a media "following orders to conceal from the American people…the Pentagon's preparations for new and more massive war crimes, along with the destruction of democratic rights spelled out in the U.S. Constitution," Martin says.
 
Indeed, it seems TV "news" stations beam more commercials than news stories, and news reports of carnage inflicted by the Pentagon, are virtually non-existent. War? What war? 
                                        #
 
(Sherwood Ross is an award-winning free-lance journalist who formerly reported for The New York Herald-Tribune, The Chicago Daily News, and major wire services. Reach him at sherwoodross@gmail.com)

The most draconian information-gathering law yet: The Senate Wants to Make Internet Providers Spies

By Alfredo Lopez


How much noise does the other shoe make when it drops? If the shoe is a law that would complete the development of a police surveillance state in the United States, it's almost silent.

A plea to Pope Francis: Name United States Foreign Policy Genocide

Editor's note: You can sign the letter here.

By Brian Terrell

In recent weeks, I have been part of a haphazard and ad hoc process to compose an open Letter to Pope Francis in advance of his September, 2015 visit to the United States in September. The promotion of this letter has been taken up by Friends of Franz Jagerstatter, a community of peacemakers inspired by the Austrian Catholic farmer who was martyred for his refusal to fight in the German Army during World War II.

Pope Francis’ recent comments regarding war, the environment and economic justice inspire our letter, which cites segments of his new encyclical, Laudato Si. “War always does grave harm to the environment and to the cultural riches of peoples,” Pope Francis writes, “risks which are magnified when one considers nuclear arms and biological weapons.” In the light of this reality, our letter suggests that Pope Francis avail himself of the challenging opportunity to acknowledge that the United States is “the most prolific polluter and, not coincidentally, the greatest war maker on the globe.”

Make deal not war!: Obama’s, and Washington’s, Absurd Choice of a Nuclear Deal or War on Iran

By Dave Lindorff


I don’t know which is worse: President Obama asserting, in defense of the nuclear deal he and his Secretary of State John Kerry negotiated with Iran, that “The choice we face is ultimately between diplomacy and some form of war, maybe not tomorrow, maybe not three months from now, but soon,” or the fact that most Americans, and most American pundits, seem to accept that limited choice of options as a given.

Why Won't Bernie Talk About War?

If your local city or town government spent 54% of its funds on an immoral, disastrous, and unpopular project, and your brave, populist, socialist candidate for mayor virtually never acknowledged its existence, would you think something was wrong? Would his admirable positions on numerous smaller projects, and on sources of revenue, ring a little hollow?


Bernie Sanders was asked a while back about the military budget and was essentially accused of wanting to cut it by 50%. Oh no, he replied, I wouldn't do that. He ought to have replied that doing that would leave the United States far and away the world's biggest military spender, and that doing that would take U.S. military spending back to roughly 2001 levels. He ought to have mentioned that the savings of hundreds of billions of dollars could transform the United States and the world for the better, that tens of billions could end starvation and provide clean water worldwide, and end poverty at home, and fund projects like free college, and invest in green energy beyond the wildest dreams of its advocates. He ought to have quoted Eisenhower and pointed out the record of the past 14 years of military spending generating wars rather than preventing them. In other words, he ought to have given the sort of smart response he gives to the questions he's usually asked on the topics he prefers to deal with.

But this was militarism, and militarism is different. Sanders' record is better than that of most presidential candidates, but very mixed. He's gotten into shouting matches with his constituents over his support for Israeli wars fought with billions of dollars of free U.S. weapons. He's supported incredibly wasteful military spending in his state. He opposes some wars, backs others, and glorifies militarism and the "service" that veterans have supposedly provided. While the public would like to fund useful projects and tax cuts for working people by both taxing the rich and slashing the military, Sanders only ever mentions taxing the rich. If he doesn't want to cut the largest item in the budget by 50%, how much does he want to cut it by? Or does he want to increase it? Who knows. His speeches -- at least most of them -- and certainly his campaign website, never acknowledge that wars and militarism exist at all. When people have pressed him during Q&A sections of events, he's proposed auditing the Department of so-called Defense. But what about cutting it? He's proposed addressing veteran suicides. What about creating no more veterans?

At RootsAction.org we've just launched a petition urging Sanders to speak on war and militarism. Thousands have already signed it here. The vote on the Iran deal could come down to 13 Democratic senators, and I haven't heard Sanders whipping his colleagues at all. His eloquence and energy are needed now. Having voted the right way will not look like enough when another war has started.

Thousands of eloquent comments can be read at the petition site. Here are a handful:

"The president is the nation's chief foreign policy architect and commander-in-chief of the armed forces. A presidential candidate, to be credible, must enunciate her or his approach to foreign policy and the use of military power with as much clarity and specificity as she or he devotes to domestic policy. A bird with only one wing cannot soar. Neither can a presidential candidate without a foreign policy." —Michael Eisenscher, Oakland, CA

"Bernie, Militarism is driven by both the American Empire and the military/industrial complex, the huge corporations you correctly speak against. Include militarism in your critique of capitalism. The U.S. is responsible for up to 78% of foreign arms sales; you must denounce this as you denounce banks, and other corporate power." — Joseph Gainza, VT

"Bernie, please speak out for peace.  If you do, I'll send you $$." —Carol Wolman, CA

"I loved your speech and enthusiasm in Madison, and was disappointed you said nothing about foreign policy." — Dick Russo, WI

"I am thrilled you are running.  I agree with you on most things, but I would like to hear something about the necessity of ending all these endless wars with oversized military budgets, which are part of the economic problem!" — Dorothy Rocklin, MA

"You will have to say something eventually. Do it sooner." — Michael Japack, OH

"He must comment upon the war on Gaza by Israel, which is connected to not only 'the madness of militarism' but also to the racism that the Palestinians and African-Americans face from these two nuclear powers." — Robert Bonazzi, TX

"This needs to be made a major issue in the coming campaign, especially given the situation re: the deal with Iran and efforts by warmongers (especially the Israeli lobby) to scuttle it. That's not the only example that comes to mind, but it's a hot-button issue and it needs to be addressed, not ignored." — James Kenny, NY

"Bernie, You know better, start talking about our endless wars and our ballooning military budget, also take a stand on the Iran deal!  Domestic policy and foreign policy go hand in hand." —Eva Havas, RI

"Two wars have been economically disastrous for America. A third war (Iran) could shred the nation's social fabric, as well. Foreign aid, esp. military aid, to countries like Saudi Arabia, Egypt, and Israel, further destabilizes the region and ensures that liberal reforms will never take hold. So, yes, it's important that you speak up, and in no uncertain terms." —Richard Hovey, MI

"The US military is the largest single user of fossil fuels ... so continued WAR endangers the planet in more ways than one!  Speak UP!" — Frank Lahorgue, CA

"Please include a denunciation of Israel's continued land grab for settlements and unconscionable treatment of Palestinians in Gaza." —Louise Chegwidden, CA

"Keep pressing Senator Sanders on these vital issues!" —James Bradford, MD

We will!

Add your own comment.

Final Declaration from the Kyoto International Conference on Space and Peace (August 2, 2015)

The United Nations was established in 1946 after the Second World War to “Save the succeeding generations from the scourge of wars, which twice in our life time has brought untold sorrow to humankind”. The UN visualized establishing a New International Order. But the US and the erstwhile European colonial countries have joined together and instead of a New International Order, they have brought a “New International Disorder”.     

 

How #AllLivesMatter and #BlackLivesMatter Can Devalue Life

By Sam Husseini


"This doesn't happen in the United States -- okay. This might happen in Afghanistan or somewhere. This just does not happen in the United States."
-- Cincinnati Prosecutor Joe Deters

The last several months have seen a debate, at times heated, between the #BlackLivesMatter movement and those who respond with #AllLivesMatter.

I think a lot of people -- perhaps not all -- who are using both tags are missing a larger point and opening themselves up to ultimately devaluing a lot of lives. 

People use #BlackLivesMatter to denote that given our criminal "justice" system, African Americans are frequently targeted, endangered and at times killed largely because they are black. And that's totally true and needed saying a long time ago.


People saying #AllLivesMatter presume to appeal to universal values, perhaps also noting that poor whites and others have particular vulnerabilities to police abuse as well. And the last part is certainly true. But it is odd to seem to appeal to universal values in a way that seems to seek to broaden the point to include a relatively privileged group. 

They crit each other: "The Defacement of Sandra Bland Mural Proves #AllLivesMatter Is Destructive" ("#AllLivesMatter is a mantra of white supremacy that ignores history..." and "#BlackLivesMatter Should Move Towards #AllLivesMatter" ("Twice as many Whites are killed than Blacks by cops, which means they are killed at about a third of the rate as Blacks.")

But both sides limit who they mean by "lives." They effectively exclude the victims of the U.S.'s highest officials. When most people use #BlackLivesMatter, they seem to be saying that all black U.S. lives matter when taken unlawfully by the government. And when most people who use #AllLivesMatter use it, they seem to be saying all U.S. lives matter when taken at the hands of police authorities -- not just black U.S. lives. But the formulation effectively excludes the lives of millions of people who U.S. officials have deemed expendable for reasons of state. 

Charles Blow of the New York Times for example at one level makes a legitimate point: "#AllLivesMatter may be your personal position, but until that is this COUNTRY'S position it is right to specify the lives it values less..." But aren't some of the lives that this country values less the lives our government and military has taken in Iraq and Afghanistan the last 15 years? Blow also tweeted: "I will not be an accessory to my own oppression. #BlackLivesMatter” But nor should one be an accessory to the oppression of others. 

What should be a glaring blind spot has at time reached absurd proportions. Hillary Clinton saying "all lives matter" at a predominantly black church was deemed a "misstep" by NPR, but why not examine if it makes any sense coming from her? While Senator, Clinton voted for authorizing Bush to invade Iraq, resulting in hundreds of thousands killed and millions displaced. While Secretary of State, Clinton helped preside over the U.S. massive nuclear weapons arsenal, which threatens the entire planet, the drone assassination program which has killed thousands and the NATO bombing of Libya, boasting afterward of Muammar Gaddafi: "We came, we saw, he died." That doesn't exactly square with a position of "all lives matter."

As it is, #BlackLivesMatter fails to genuinely uplift the lives of the most discarded by remaining within a national confine. And #AllLivesMatter isn't being universal at all -- in its current form, it's being outright nationalistic and parochial. 

Many now know the names of Sandra Bland and of Samuel DuBose and other African Americans whose lives were devalued by law enforcement officials, we know their names and we know some of their stories.  

The U.S. government has been outright bombing and attacking several countries in the Mideast for years now. Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Somalia, Pakistan, Yemen. How many names do you know of the victims of U.S. foreign policy? 

We know the names of the victims of the so-called Islamic State, people like Steven Sotloff. We know the names of victims of the Taliban, like Malala Yousafzai, who recovered from their attack on her. But the U.S. government has killed thousands of people in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we don't know the names, we don't listen to their stories. Virtually the only time we meaningfully perceive the violence of U.S. foreign policy -- in media or anywhere really -- is when U.S. soldiers are hurt or killed. Otherwise, the violence is normalized as in Deters's quote atop this article. It is decidedly off stage, a sideshow at best. 


Have you thought of a civilian victim of U.S. policy who you could name? You probably came up with Anwar al-Awlaki. But the reason you know his name is he was a U.S. citizen, proving the point that often that is what bestows value upon a human life. 

A study by Physicians for Social Responsibility earlier this year found: "The number of Iraqis killed during and since the 2003 U.S. invasion have been assessed at one million, which represents 5 percent of the total population of Iraq. This does not include deaths among the three million refugees subjected to privations." 

But that's a non-story. We've ended up in a sense embracing Stalin's aphorism: "The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic." 

A year ago, the U.S. government backed the latest of Israel's regular brutal bombing on Gaza, in which Israel killed over 1,000 Palestinians, hundreds of them children. For several months now, U.S. ally Saudi Arabia has been bombing Yemen to minimal attention and virtually no protest. President Obama just visited Ethiopia and Kenya -- with barely any criticism of how those nations have carved up Somalia, perpetuating killing there

It may be possible to honor the noblest possible intent in #BlackLivesMatter: That we should rush to aid those lives that are disregarded by many. Likewise for #AllLivesMatter: We should be universal and apply the principle of veneration of the value of life truly to all

Both impulses in their best form would argue to seriously scrutinize the U.S. government's role as global rogue cop -- a "cop" more dangerous than the most violent, racist police operating in the U.S. today. 

Addendum: When I made an abbreviated version of this argument to my partner, Emily, and said: Both #BlackLivesMatter and #AllLivesMatter can in effect devalue non U.S. lives, she replied that it actually devalued all lives -- including U.S. lives. "How's that?" I asked. She said: "It helps continue the militarism and that will eventually take U.S. lives, so it devalues those lives as well." If it were not a pseudo military analogy, I'd say "touché."

The circus is in town: The United States of Absurdity, Circa 2015

By John Grant

 

"Someone must have been telling lies about Joseph K., for without having done anything wrong he was arrested one fine morning."

Armed Insecurity

By Robert C. Koehler

“. . . no real security, just powers of retaliation.”

This was Norman Mailer, four-plus decades ago, writing in Miami and the Siege of Chicago about the obsessive security measures – “helicopters riding overhead like roller coasters, state troopers with magnums on their hip and crash helmets, squad cars, motorcycles” – at the Democratic and Republican national conventions, which . . . uh, didn’t actually provide security, but sure allowed us to get even afterwards.

This is still the unnoticed insanity haunting the American news cycle, whether the story being reported is domestic or international. As a society, we’re armed and dangerous – and always at war, both collectively and individually. We’re endlessly declaring bad guys (officially and unofficially) and endlessly protecting ourselves from them, in the process guaranteeing that the violence continues. And the parallels between “them” and “us” are unnerving.

Actually There Is One Problem That's Solved by Starting Wars

Walter Kloefkorn tells me a story from 24 years ago: 
 
"Near the end of my Silicon Valley career in manufacturing I was Materials Director for Biomation Corp, which made logic analyzers. (We may still have been a subsidiary of Gould Inc - some other subsidiary of which was the originator of the infamously expensive coffee pots, hammers, and toilet seats, I don't recall.) We got a contract with the military, somewhat to our amazement because we could figure no good reason for them to buy 100 of our $30,000 logic analyzers. They were mostly used to design integrated circuits, not something the military did. They could be used to repair electronic equipment, but it would have been a lot cheaper and easier for their techs to just use digital oscilloscopes. Our honest assessment was that we'd just sold some to the FAA (we couldn't figure out what they were going to do with them either), and the Air Force wanted to have some too.  

"In any event, I had to get involved with the shipment as I was the only person who had any experience with the military's arcane procedures for packaging and shipment. We were approaching the first shipment date, so I called the supply sergeant, who I had carefully cultivated with lunches and beers so there wouldn't be any problems on that end. We'd had a problem, however, with a mandatory engineering change making the cost of getting new PCBs made and replaced in time to meet the schedule hugely expensive. And then Saddam invaded Kuwait. So I called the sergeant up and asked him (without too much desperation in my voice, I hoped) whether the outbreak of hostilities would impact our schedule. To my relief he replied that he did want to delay our shipments, that he'd been trying to get a chance to call me, he was insanely busy at the moment. I replied that yes, it must be quite a job to get ready for the invasion and keep our brave troops supplied after. (I was bicycling the 18 miles to work with a sign on the back of my bike that said, "Runs on US beer, not Middle East Oil, No War for Oil.") He said, 'Hell, no, that's not it. We've got warehouses full of stuff stored that we don't need or want. Now that hostilities have broken out, I've got to get it all shipped to the war zone so we can declare it destroyed in action and get it off our books.' I was pretty much speechless, muttered something about I wish he hadn't told me that."

It's not terrorism if it's retaliation: Chattanooga Shooting, If Linked to ISIS, is a Legitimate Act of War

By Dave Lindorff

 

I'm not a fan of war or of killing of any kind, but the labeling of the deadly attack by Mohammod Youssuf Abdulazeez on two US military sites in Chattanooga, Tennessee as an act of terror is absurd.

NBC Dares Mention Climate in Spread of Lyme Disease, But Not Who Created Lyme Disease

Climate change is apparently encouraging the spread of Lyme disease, and a report by NBC News dares to say so. This may seem like a fresh breath of honest sanity in a media context in which even the weather reports usually avoid the topic of human global destruction.

However, another topic is clearly still off limits: the topic of who created Lyme disease.

Who created it is not in any real doubt. The facts have been well reported and never refuted.

The relevance of the disease's creators to this and numerous other news reports about Lyme disease is indisputable. If you're going to report on what's facilitating the disease's spread, you should report on what started it, and how it was intentionally created to spread and why.

That NBC News knows the information is easily shown. In 2004 Michael Christopher Carroll published a book called Lab 257: The Disturbing Story of the Government's Secret Germ Laboratory. He appeared on several television shows to discuss the book, including on MSNBC and on NBC's Today Show (where the book was made a Today Show Book Club selection). Lab 257 hit the New York Times non-fiction bestseller list soon after its publication.

And what did that book say? Well, the wonderful thing about books is that you can still go and read them. But I'll give you a brief summary of the part about Lyme disease. For a wide array of other diseases, some far worse, you'll have to read the book.

Less than 2 miles off the east end of Long Island sits Plum Island, where the U.S. government makes biological weapons, including weapons consisting of diseased insects that can be dropped from airplanes on a (presumably foreign) population. One such insect is the deer tick, pursued as a germ weapon by the Nazis, the Japanese, the Soviets, and the Americans.

Deer swim to Plum Island.

I wasn't aware that deer swam at all, but apparently they are ocean swimmers. A quick internet search finds plenty of reports and photos and videos of deer swimming, miles from shore, including in Long Island Sound. And people are often so surprised (and kind hearted) that they rescue the deer -- which may in some cases not actually be needed. Deer frequently swim between Long Island and Plum Island; there's not any dispute about that fact.

Birds fly to Plum Island. The island lies in the middle of the Atlantic migration route for numerous species. "Ticks," Carroll writes, "find baby chicks irresistible."

In July of 1975 a brand new disease appeared in Old Lyme, Connecticut, just north of Plum Island. It wasn't a disease that gradually grew and finally attracted attention. It was 12 cases of a disease that, as far as anyone knows, had never been seen before. Scientists' efforts to find it in the past haven't gotten any further than the 1940s in the areas right around Plum Island.

And what was on Plum Island? A germ warfare lab to which the U.S. government had brought former Nazi germ warfare scientists in the 1940s to work on the same evil work for a different employer. These included the head of the Nazi germ warfare program who had worked directly for Heinrich Himmler. On Plum Island was a germ warfare lab that frequently conducted its experiments out of doors. After all, it was on an island. What could go wrong? Documents record outdoor experiments with diseased ticks in the 1950s. Even the indoors, where participants admit to experiments with ticks, was not sealed tight. And test animals mingled with wild deer, test birds with wild birds.

By the 1990s, the eastern end of Long Island had by far the greatest concentration of Lyme disease. If you drew a circle around the area of the world heavily impacted by Lyme disease, which happened to be in the Northeast United States, the center of that circle was Plum Island.

Plum Island experimented with the Lone Star tick, whose habitat at the time was confined to Texas. Yet it showed up in New York and Connecticut, infecting people with Lyme disease -- and killing them. The Lone Star tick is now endemic in New York, Connecticut, and New Jersey.

So, by all means blame ExxonMobil and all the other climate liars, and their servants in government, for the spread of Lyme disease, among other horrors. But save a little blame for the military industrial complex. Either it murdered the victims of Lyme disease, or -- if you believe in the nobility of its mission -- then perhaps we'd better say they are collateral damage.

What Are Foreign Military Bases For?

If you're like most people in the United States, you have a vague awareness that the U.S. military keeps lots of troops permanently stationed on foreign bases around the world. But have you ever wondered and really investigated to find out how many, and where exactly, and at what cost, and to what purpose, and in terms of what relationship with the host nations?

A wonderfully researched new book, six years in the works, answers these questions in a manner you'll find engaging whether you've ever asked them or not. It's called Base Nation: How U.S. Military Bases Harm America and the World, by David Vine.

Some 800 bases with hundreds of thousands of troops in some 70 nations, plus all kinds of other "trainers" and "non-permanent" exercises that last indefinitely, maintain an ongoing U.S. military presence around the world for a price tag of at least $100 billion a year.

Why they do this is a harder question to answer.

We’re #1...in the heroin business!: US Lost in Afghanistan, But Did Make Afghanistan World’s Top Heroin Exporter

By Jack Balkwill


...The US government pretends to care about eradicating opium production in Afghanistan, while production soars to record levels.  Can this be an accident? 

The largest marketplace for illegal drugs continues to be the United States, despite a decades-long so-called "war on drugs."  Can this be an accident? 

Mapping Military Madness: 2015 Update

Once again this year, the clear winner, in not just women’s soccer and incarceration, but also in militarism, is the United States of America, sweeping nearly every category of military insanity with seemingly effortless ease. Find all of last year’s and this year’s maps here: bit.ly/mappingmilitarism

In the area of money spent on militarism, there was really no competition:

MMspending

Troops in Afghanistan have declined, but there remains no question which nation still has the most.

There are more major wars in the world now than a year ago, but only one nation is involved in some significant way in all of them.

When it comes to weapons sales to the rest of the world, the United States really shines. The other nations should probably be competing in a different league.

In nuclear weapons stockpiling, Russia makes an amazing showing, nudging out the U.S. for the lead, just like last year, even as both nations’ stockpiles have slightly diminished, and both nations have announced plans to build more. No other nation even makes it on the chart.

Among nations with other WMDs, such as chemical and biological weapons, the United States is right in there.

But it’s really in the reach of its military presence that the United States makes every other nation look like amateur killers. U.S. troops and weapons are everywhere. Check out the maps.

We’ve added a map showing the nations receiving the greatest number of U.S. and allies’ air strikes, and we’ve updated the count of drone murders in each country being regularly droned.

Further maps display which nations are taking steps to facilitate peace and prosperity. The United States’ ability to fail so stunningly in these categories while excelling in the others is the mark of a true champion war monger.

A picture is worth 1,000 words. Adjust the settings to make your own maps of militarism here.

We don’t do body counts: Have Millions of Deaths from America's 'War on Terror' been Concealed?

By Jack Balkwill

 

How many days has it been
Since I was born?
How many days
'Til I die?

Do I know any ways
I can make you laugh?
Or do I only know how
To make you cry?

― Leon Russell, Stranger in a Strange Land
 

What were you doing on your vacation?: Returning Home to the US is to Enter a Police State

By Dave Lindorff


A few weeks ago, I got a vivid comparative look at how far this country has moved towards becoming a police state. The occasion was a brief visit to Montreal, where my wife was to give a harpsichord recital at an early keyboard music conference. 


Courage: Caitlyn Jenner vs. Chelsea Manning

                There has been much talk of late about the courage of Caitlyn Jenner. A recent Vanity Fair cover showed the transformation of former 65-year-old Olympic gold medal winner Bruce Jenner to Caitlyn, an attractive woman who appears to be in her thirties.

                But let us look for a moment at the definition of courage. Merriam-Webster defines it thusly: “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere, and withstand danger, fear, or difficulty”

The case for ‘courageous restraint’: The Killer Elite, at Home and Abroad

By John Grant


We sleep safe in our beds because rough men stand ready in the night to visit violence on those who would do us harm.

                                                      - George Orwell


It approves the spy program and makes it permanent: USA Freedom Act is Anything But

By Alfredo Lopez


To get to the point: there is nothing -- nothing at all -- in any recent law or legislative action that will in any way weaken the police state structure our government has put into place for rapid deployment. You are not any more free than you were last week and, no matter what the Congress has done with the expired provisions of the Patriot Act or the newly developed and Orwellian-named "USA Freedom Act", you are not going to be any more free next week.

Here come the terrorists!: Help! The USA PATRIOT ACT has expired!

By Dave Lindorff

 

Omigod! We're all gonna die!

Three provisions of the USA PATRIOT Act were allowed to expire on June 1 thanks to a Senate disagreement over how to "fix" them (and thanks to Sen. Rand Paul's outspoken opposition to renewal), and now we’re vulnerable to terrorism!

That at least is what President Obama and other fear mongers in Washington are saying.

It’s not just police killings: Tazing and Bust of Videotaper Shows Abuse of Blacks is Just Normal Philly Cop Behavior

By Linn Washington Jr.


A July 2013 Philadelphia police attack on Sharif Anderson, where officers beat, kicked and shot Anderson twice with a Taser, is more than just another ugly incident of abuse by a big city police force long assailed for its persistent brutality and corruption.

Memorial Day 2015: Antiwar Veterans Join the Conversation at the Vietnam Wall

By John Grant


Anthropologists have found that in traditional societies, memory becomes attached to places.

T.M. Luhrmann, New York Times Op-ed May 25, 2015


A Civilian Is A Combatant Is A Civilian Is A Combatant

What happens when a bunch of lawyers intent on distinguishing combatants from civilians discover, by interviewing hundreds of civilians, that it cannot be done?

Does it become legal to kill everyone or no one?

The Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC) has published a report called The People's Perspectives: Civilian Involvement in Armed Conflict. Researchers, including from Harvard Law School, interviewed 62 people in Bosnia, 61 in Libya, 54 in Gaza, and 77 Somali refugees in Kenya. The lead author of the report is Harvard Law School Fellow Nicolette Boehland.

One might ask why Iraq and Afghanistan were left out, or any number of other countries, but the report says the researchers went where they were able. And the result is a valuable contribution that I'm willing to bet would not have found fundamentally different results by looking elsewhere.

If U.S. Military Spending Returned to 2001 Level

The House of Representatives has headed out of town to memorialize wars without managing to achieve agreement with the Senate on reauthorizing some of the most abusive "temporary" measures of the PATRIOT Act. Three cheers for Congressional vacations!

What if not just our civil liberties but our budget got a little bit of 2001 back?

In 2001, U.S. military spending was $397 billion, from which it soared to a peak of $720 billion in 2010, and is now at $610 billion in 2015. These figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (in constant 2011 dollars) exclude debt payments, veterans costs, and civil defense, which raise the figure to over $1 trillion a year now, not counting state and local spending on the military.

Military spending is now 54% of U.S. federal discretionary spending according to the National Priorities Project. Everything else -- and the entire debate in which liberals want more spending and conservatives want less! -- is contained within the other 46% of the budget.

U.S. military spending, according to SIPRI, is 35% of the world total. U.S. and Europe make 56% of the world. The U.S. and its allies around the globe (it has troops in 175 countries, and most countries are armed in great part by U.S. companies) make up the bulk of world spending.

Iran spends 0.65% of world military spending (as of 2012, the last year available). China's military spending has been rising for years and has soared since 2008 and the U.S. pivot to Asia, from $107 billion in 2008 to now $216 billion. But that's still just 12% of world spending.

Per capita the U.S. now spends $1,891 current U.S. dollars for each person in the United States, as compared with $242 per capita worldwide, or $165 per capita in the world outside the U.S., or $155 per capita in China.

The dramatically increased U.S. military spending has not made the U.S. or the world safer. Early on in the "war on terror" the U.S. government ceased reporting on terrorism, as it increased. The Global Terrorism Index records a steady increase in terrorist attacks from 2001 to the present. A Gallup poll in 65 nations at the end of 2013 found the United States overwhelmingly viewed as the greatest threat to peace in the world. Iraq has been turned into hell, with Libya, Afghanistan, Yemen, Pakistan, and Somalia close behind. Newly embittered terrorist groups have arisen in direct response to U.S. terrorism and the devastation it's left behind. And arms races have been sparked that benefit only the arms dealers.

But the spending has had other consequences. The U.S. has risen into the top five nations in the world for disparity of wealth. The 10th wealthiest country on earth per capita doesn't look wealthy when you drive through it. And you do have to drive, with 0 miles of high-speed rail built; but local U.S. police have weapons of war now. And you have to be careful when you drive. The American Society of Civil Engineers gives U.S. infrastructure a D+. Areas of cities like Detroit have become wasteland. Residential areas lack water or are poisoned by environmental pollution -- most often from military operations. The U.S. now ranks 35th in freedom to choose what to do with your life, 36th in life expectancy, 47th in preventing infant mortality, 57th in employment, and trails in education by various measures.

If U.S. military spending were merely returned to 2001 levels, the savings of $213 billion per year could meet the following needs:

End hunger and starvation worldwide -- $30 billion per year.
Provide clean drinking water worldwide -- $11 billion per year.
Provide free college in the United States -- $70 billion per year (according to Senate legislation).
Double U.S. foreign aid -- $23 billion per year.
Build and maintain a high-speed rail system in the U.S. -- $30 billion per year.
Invest in solar and renewable energy as never before -- $20 billion per year.
Fund peace initiatives as never before -- $10 billion per year.

That would leave $19 billion left over per year with which to pay down debt.

You may say I'm a dreamer, but this is life and death. War kills more by how the money isn't spent than by how it is spent.

Speaking Events

2015

August 27, Chicago

September 22, DC

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