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Military Industrial Complex


The Unbearable Awesomeness of the U.S. Military

Unrepentant, always wrong, U.S. warmongers Michael O'Hanlon and David Petraeus have authored "America’s Awesome Military: And How to Make It Even Better," to explain to the rest of us that there is absolutely nothing wrong with the greatest American frack-yeah military ever AND that it is in such a pitiably weak state that if trillions more aren't wasted on it we're all going to die.

Remember, this is the same military of which a single branch has just recently misplaced $6.5 trillion. And it needs more money. Why? Because it's soooooooooo damn awesome!

In fact it's about to win the wars it's embroiled in in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Pakistan, Somalia, and Libya, but if you don't fork over trillions more it will lose badly and it'll be all your fault and the ghosts of the betrayed and sacred troops will haunt you instead of haunting the admissions offices of broken down VA hospitals.

Meanwhile Bill McKibben wants, as we've all long wanted, a "war" against the danger of climate destruction, only without taking the money out of the only place it can come from, the preparations for actual wars, and while hyping the awesomeness of the military to make sure the money stays there.

But, back to our favorite war mongers. Petraeus and O'Hanlon fill us in on the following secrets (and we didn't even have to have sex with them!):

"The United States has the best military in the world today, by far. U.S. forces have few, if any, weaknesses, and in many areas—from naval warfare to precision-strike capabilities, to airpower, to intelligence and reconnaissance, to special operations—they play in a totally different league from the militaries of other countries. Nor is this situation likely to change anytime soon, as U.S. defense spending is almost three times as large as that of the United States’ closest competitor, China, and accounts for about one-third of all global military expenditures—with another third coming from U.S. allies and partners."

This understates U.S. spending while overstating the idea that it serves some purpose other than ginning up terrorism and suffering, but you get the idea. Here comes the "nevertheless":

"Nevertheless, 15 years of war and five years of budget cuts and Washington dysfunction have taken their toll. The military is certainly neither broken nor unready for combat, but its size and resource levels are less than is advisable given the range of contemporary threats and the missions for which it has to prepare. No radical changes or major buildups are needed. But the trend of budget cuts should stop and indeed be modestly reversed, and defense appropriations should be handled more rationally and professionally than has been the case in recent years."

This is based on the lie that U.S. military spending has been decreasing. It has not. It's also based on denial of the existence of arms races and reverse arms races. Global spending follows U.S. spending up and could as easily follow it down. This is also based on denial of the U.S. role as not just far and away top spending on weaponry but also far and away top dealer of weaponry to the rest of the world, arming the hatred its own wars fuel, generating opportunities for more wars.

"Most major elements of U.S. defense policy are on reasonably solid ground, despite innumerable squabbles among experts over many of the details. Through­out the post–Cold War era, some variant of a two-war planning framework (with caveats) has enjoyed bipartisan support and should continue to do so for many years to come."

Good thing the U.S. is only in seven wars!

"Those who worry about an American military supposedly in decline should relax. The current U.S. defense budget of just over $600 billion a year exceeds the Cold War average of about $525 billion (in 2016 dollars) and greatly exceeds the pre-9/11 defense budget of some $400 billion. It is true that defense spending from 2011 through 2020 has been cut by a cumulative total of about $1 trillion (not counting reductions in war-related costs). But there were legitimate reasons for most of those reductions, and the cuts were made to a budget at a historically very high level."

Note that $1 trillion over 10 years is, in plain English, $100 billion, and in plainer English, false. Note also that the $600 billion leaves out the Department of so-called Homeland so-called Security, the Department of Energy, the State Department, the Veterans Administration, etc., etc. But why are we back to not worrying again? Can we just stop with that half of the propaganda and not switch back to fear mongering?

New York Times shames itself: Attacking Wikileaks’ Assange for Doing What Journalists are Supposed to Do

By Dave Lindorff

 

While I periodically have written commentaries dissecting and pillorying news articles in the New York Times to expose their bias, hypocrisy half-truths and lies, I generally ignore their editorials since these are overtly opinions of the management, and one expects them to display the elitist and neo-liberal perspective of the paper’s publisher and senior editors.

Not just toilet lids Pentagon Money Pit: Unaccountable Army Spending of $6.5 Trillion and No DOD Audit for the Past Two Decades

By Dave Lindorff

 

What if the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services were to report that $6.5 billion in spending by that federal agency was unaccounted for and untraceable? You can imagine the headlines, right? What if it was $65 billion? The headlines would be as big as for the first moon landing or for troops landing on Omaha Beach in World War II.

Scandinavia on the skids and the failure of social democracy: Denmark: SOS Save Our Sovereignty

By Ron Ridenour

(This is the first of seven articles on the reality of Scandinavia’s “socialism”)

I first met Denmark’s last truly Social Democratic Prime Minister, Anker Joergensen, in his state office, unannounced, in late 1980.

Grethe and I had just been married. We had met the year before in Los Angeles where I had been a “participatory journalist”, and activist for social/racial/gender equality and against the Vietnam War. I wanted to start a new life with Grethe in her peaceful, social democratic land.

The world is at war because it has lost peace (Pope Francis)


But it’s not just the world that has lost peace.

 

 

I lost my peace.

 

 

Misusing a quote about peace: Obama Calls for Peace and Comity at Home, But Favors Wars and Killer Drones Abroad

By Dave Lindorff

 

            President Barack Obama made an eloquent plea for sanity and peace following the latest deadly assault on police officers -- this time a gunman with an assault rifle shooting and killing three cops in Baton Rouge and wounding another three, one critically injured.

The ultimate attribution error fuels war: The Post-Dallas Kumbaya Window Begins to Close

By John Grant

 

Someone's crying, Lord, kumbaya

- From the Gullah song meaning, Lord, come by here and help us

 

It Was Not a Good Week for the NRA

By Gar Smith

The National Rifle Association likes to argue that people need to carry guns for "self-defense" but real-world experience shows that merely having a gun in your possession can get you killed.

On July 5, Alton Sterling was pinned to the ground after a scuffle with police while selling CDs outside a convenience store in Baton Rouge. The incident, captured on private cellphones and surveillance cameras, shows Sterling immobilized, pinned to the floor by two officers. At this point, one of the police shouts, "He's got a gun!" An officer pulls his revolver from his holster and shoves it into Sterling's chest. He fires point blank. Stirling was shot several times in the chest and once in the back for good measure. As Stirling lies mortally wounded, an officer leans over his body and appears to wrench a gun from inside one of the dying man's pockets.

Initial reports all indicate that it was the presence of a gun that escalated the confrontation that got Stirling killed. At no point do the videos show Stirling actually holding a gun in his hands.

According to CBS News, Abdullah Muflahi, the owner of the convenience store, testified that Stirling "was not holding a gun during the shooting, but that he saw officers remove one from his pocket afterward." Muflahi is now suing the police for allegedly seizing the store's surveillance videos without a warrant. (The police also seized the shopkeeper's cellphone and detained him inside a locked squad car and a jail cell for six hours.)

Are We in for Another Increase in Military Spending?

At the present time, an increase in U.S. military spending seems as superfluous as a third leg.  The United States, armed with the latest in advanced weaponry, has more military might than any other nation in world history.  Moreover, it has begun a $1 trillion program to refurbish its entire nuclear weapons complex.  America’s major military rivals, China and Russia, spend only a small fraction of what the United States does on its armed forces―in China’s case about a third and in Russia’s case about a ninth.  Furthermore, the economic outlay necessary to maintain this vast U.S. military force constitutes a very significant burden.  In fiscal 2015, U.S.

Initiative-873 gives small flicker of hope: Seattle’s ‘Liberals’ Get Chance to Finally Start Addressing Police Brutality

By Jess Guh, MD

 

Seattle, WA -- Ever since moving to Seattle it’s become clear to me that though most of its inhabitants identify as liberals, the dominant white culture enables a culture of armchair liberals. When it comes to LGBT rights, Seattle will stand up, but when it comes to addressing issues that actually threaten the comfortable, largely white and privileged population of the Seattle, it’s another story.

U.S. Plans to Saturate Globe With Weapons

My headline above is a plain English translation of this Pentagonspeak found in a Reuters headline today: "Demand for U.S. arms exports set to keep growing, official says."

As the United States and NATO antagonize Russia, and pressure NATO members to buy more weapons, and showcase U.S. weapons in numerous wars, and use every carrot and stick in the State Department to market U.S. weapons, an "official" who happens to have been located at a giant weapons trade show predicts that of its own accord "demand" for weaponry is going to grow. Here's Reuters' first sentence:

"International demand for U.S. weapons systems is expected to continue growing in coming years, a senior U.S. Air Force official said on Sunday, citing strong interest in unmanned systems, munitions and fighter jets."

Thus is the proliferation of drones around the world spun as something positive, along with bombs and jets. And thus is it spun as something that simply results from the quality and desirability of the products.

Quick, which five nations do you most want murdering their enemies with missiles from drones over the United States?

On forgetting and forgiving: Killing and Our Current American Crisis

By John Grant

 

Kill one person, it’s called murder.

Kill 100,000, it’s called foreign policy.

        - A popular bumper sticker

As Police Killings of Minorities Mount, Attacks on Police Like the One in Dallas, While Awful, Are Also Sadly Predictable

By Dave Lindorff

 

            The tragedy that is America has deepened with the news that several people on Thursday organized a military-style sniper attack targeting police in Dallas during a protest march and rally against police brutality and killings of black people in that city.

 

Trashing Clinton in the Times: Is Sanders’ End Game to Sell Out His ‘Political Revolution’ or to Take It to November?

By Dave Lindorff

 

            What is Bernie Sanders up to?

 

            I sure don’t know, and I’m sure that Hillary Clinton and her campaign managers are wondering too.

Barbarism, civilization and modern politics: PTSD as a Political Football in a Hobbesian Age

By John Grant

 

If our wars were to make killers of all combat soldiers, rather than men who have killed, civilian life would be endangered for generations or, in fact, made impossible.

Total Recall: New poem by ThisCantBeHappening! resident poet Gary Lindorff

(Prefacing remarks: My dealer writes to thank me

for letting them fix the airbag on my Suby Outback.

Apparently I was driving my car for many years with

a defective airbag that was a potentially lethal weapon.

What about cops?: Ban Assault Weapons, But for Police Too, Not Just Civilians

By Dave Lindorff

 

A few years ago, I contacted my local police department asking them to send an officer over to put down a doe that had been hit by a car on the street in front of my house. She had suffered a left front and right rear leg break but had somehow flopped herself well into the yard and was on the ground suffering. When a cop arrived, and began to approach her with his pistol I warned him off, saying the deer would hurt herself more trying to get away.

Orlando Killer's Secret Shared by Other Terrorists

As with becoming a whistleblower or an activist or an artist there must be numerous reasons why any individual becomes a terrorist -- whether military, contract, or independent. Various irrational hatreds and fears (and promises of paradise after death) and the ready availability of weaponry certainly play roles.

But did you know that every single foreign terrorist in the United States in recent decades, plus domestic terrorists claiming foreign motivations, plus numerous poor suckers set up and stung by the FBI, plus every foreign terrorist organization that has claimed or been blamed for attempted or successful anti-U.S. terrorism have all claimed the same motivation? I'm not aware of a single exception.

If one of them claimed to be motivated by the needs of Martians, we might set that aside as crazy. If every single one of them claimed to be acting on behalf of Martians, we would at least get curious about why they said that, even if we doubted Martians' existence. But every single one of them says something much more believable. And yet what they say seems to be a secret despite being readily available information.

Denying discrimination: Clintonian Political Calculus and the Culture of Hooey

By Linn Washington, Jr.

 

Hooey –- silly talk/nonsense –- frequently has slimy characteristics and slime is slippery.

Former President Bill Clinton recently slipped on some silly talk when trying to dance around a slime trail oozing from his presidency during the 1990s.

Hysterical Cold-War Style US Reporting as 2 Unarmed Russian Jets Buzz US Destroyer Sailing Near Russian Port

By Dave Lindorff

 

US news reports on an incident Tuesday in which two Russian jet fighters buzzed very close to a US destroyer, the USS Donald Cook, in the Baltic Sea, make it sound like a serious threat in which the US might have been justified in defending itself against a simulated attack on the high seas.

Nowhere in the reports in the US was it mentioned that the Cook was itself engaging in provocative behavior.

CIA ‘K-9 test’ gone wrong or something else?: Plastic Explosives Found in School Bus Engine Compartment by school's mechanic

By Dave Lindorff

 

            What on earth was the CIA doing putting plastic high explosive charges on school buses and in hidden places in a Virginia public school in a “test” of K-9 dogs reportedly belonging to the Agency itself?

 

Hillary Clinton backed the coup: Shine the Light of Truth on Poor Honduras

By John Grant

 

Since the coup, Honduras has become one of the most dangerous places in the world.

U.S. Air Force's Ability to Deliver Death But Not Food Is A Choice

By David Swanson, American Herald Tribune

aircraft drops pallets of water and food 959ae

According to news reports, there are areas of Syria where people are literally starving to death, and where the United Nations is attempting to drop food from the air but missing its target so wildly that the food is damaged or simply cannot be found.

A U.S. Air Force expert on dropping food from great heights in high winds has given what most people will take for a technical comment but which is actually a devastating moral condemnation of U.S. and Western governments' priorities:

"For high-altitude, high-accuracy drops, the U.S. military uses a technology known as the Joint Precision Airdrop System (JPADS), which has been deployed for only about a decade. The system includes a dropsonde, a sort of probe that's dropped prior to the cargo to take readings of wind speed and direction, which it sends to the mission planning software. That data helps planners determine their Computed Air Release Point, or CARP. Once the payload is dropped, onboard actuators and a steerable parafoil canopy help guide the pallet to its target. That's critical, Al says, because a pallet dropped from 20,000 feet will take five or six minutes to reach the ground, and will be subject to wind that entire time. 'It's always windy up high,' Al says. JPADS systems cost about $60,000 apiece and usually must be recovered on the ground after a drop. 'You wouldn't use it for a purely humanitarian drop.'"

Read that last bit again. Because this technology costs $60,000, you would not use it merely to save the lives of human beings. If you were using it to take the lives of human beings, then it would of course be a drop in the bucket of cash you'd be willing to blow, as long as "you" were the U.S. Air Force.

I asked dedicated peace activist Kathy Kelly what she makes of the contrast between the Air Force's claimed ability to blow up a particular individual with a missile from a drone, and its claimed inability to drop food within a mile of a target -- at least without spending money that can't be justified by something as trivial as saving human lives.

"Northrop Grumman spends billions to design spy blimps, drones, persistent threat detection systems and a dizzying array of high-tech surveillance equipment," she said. "Many of these airships hover over , one of the poorest countries in the world, Afghanistan, where the UN reports that 'food insecurity' afflicts over one third of the people. Northrop Grumman executives profit wildly, yet a U.S. government watchdog reported in January of 2016 that 'the Taliban controls more of the country than at any time since U.S. troops invaded in 2001.' Why should U.S. people bamboozle themselves into thinking that funding the so-called defense industry ethically trumps efforts to feed starving people?  

"The 2017 DOD budget request also will contain $71.4 billion for military research. On February 2, 2016, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the Economic Club of Washington that the Department of Defense budget requests '$7.5 billion for weapons like GPS-guided smart bombs and laser-guided rockets.' One research initiative involves creating 'an arsenal plane that turns one of the military's older planes into a flying launch pad for a range of conventional payloads.' Yes, what if deliveries of food pallets topped the list of 'conventional payloads?' The U.S. could become a beloved country, known for extending a generous hand of friendship and care."

What about unmanned planes, also known as drones? Aren't they supposed to serve some useful purpose while avoiding getting pilots shot down? But don't they mostly buzz so high up they can't be shot, and mostly send missiles screaming into people's houses generating ever more hatred and blowback?

"Drone helicopters could be used to bring food," peace activist Nick Mottern tells me, pointing in particular to the pilotless cargo helicopters from Lockheed Martin being tested in Afghanistan. This approach to saving, rather than "bugsplatting" or "pink misting," human lives, could avoid the problems of high wind altogether by landing the drone helicopters on the ground, full of food.

"Using the drone helicopter for food delivery seems to be a very good idea," says Mottern, "and tactics would have to be developed for situations in which the drone would be under fire. Possibly it could be flown at maximum altitude to over the drop zone and then descend rapidly through the column of air over the zone. Or the helicopter might descend to several hundred feet over the drop zone to reduce exposure to ground fire, drop a specially packaged load and then rise again. The point of maximum vulnerability to ground fire would likely be when the helicopter comes for an instant to a dead stop to drop its load, but there might be a tactic that would enable the machine to keep forward motion while flinging its payload on release. There would probably have to be some special balancing controls installed to let this happen, but it should be possible. The Marines were using the K-Max at night, which might be a good tactic for relief operations."

This would mean risking the expense of significantly more than $60,000, as Mottern recognizes: "Of course the use of the drone helicopter would mean that the owner(s) of the helicopter would be willing to risk having it shot down. Ideally world relief organizations would have fleets of them to be able to make adequate relief drops recognizing that some drone helicopters would be lost."

U.S. television advertisement viewers could be forgiven if they imagine the U.S. military to be a world relief organization. Sadly, the trillion dollars a year that the U.S. government puts into militarism may be famously wasteful and unaudited, but it is very tightly controlled in one particular sense: never shall too big a crumb be expended merely on saving human lives.

White power and the ‘model minority’ myth: Officer Peter Liang Highlights the Asian-American Identity Crisis

By Jess Guh

 

The conviction of Peter Liang is the best thing that has happened to Asian Americans since the Immigration and Nationality Act of the 1960s. It’s also an embarrassingly example of how bewildered the minds of some Asian Americans are when it comes to race.

Speaking Events

January 10 and 11:
Events in Washington DC to present a petition telling president elect to end wars:
https://act.rootsaction.org/p/dia/action3/common/public/?action_KEY=12501

January 20-21 Occupy the Inauguration
 
January 29 David Swanson speaking in Arlington, Va.
 
February David Swanson debating a war supporter in Boston, Mass.
 
April 21-23 UNAC's annual conference in Richmond, Va.

April 29 possible multi-issue protest in DC.

Find Events Here.

 

 

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