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Military Industrial Complex
The question is being starkly framed now: Who runs this country?
Defense Secretary Robert Gates ordered a review Tuesday of a Pentagon policy banning media from taking pictures of flag-draped coffins of military dead, signaling he was open to overturning the policy to better honor fallen soldiers.
At least two Democratic senators have called on President Barack Obama to let news photographers attend ceremonies at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware and other military facilities when military remains are returned to the United States. Obama told reporters Monday he was reviewing the ban.
Foreign Policy In Focus
The Asia-Pacific Freeze Campaign: A Call for a Safer, Greener Future
With multiple crises affecting our world – global economy, climate change, resource depletion – we must urgently redirect the hundreds of billions of dollars spent on preparing for war. The United States, Russia, China, Japan, South Korea, and North Korea spent about $970 billion in 2008 on the military. That figure, alarmingly, is on the rise. For about one-tenth of this near-trillion dollar amount – about $90 billion a year – we can achieve more genuine security by eliminating global starvation and malnutrition, educating every child on earth, making clean water and sanitation accessible for all, and reversing the global spread of AIDS and malaria.
FL: Daytona 500 Anti-War Protest & 911 Truth Rally This Sunday
Central Florida Veterans for Peace is doing a protest/public-awareness action out at Daytona Beach Speedway during the Daytona 500 this Sunday, February 15th, from 12:30 to 3:00 PM. Sadly, this is already the 4th year that we are doing such an action out at the Speedway to call for the troops being brought home and those in Washington responsible for sending them there to die for a lie in the first place to be fully investigated and prosecuted by the law which the soldiers take an oath to defend.
US military occupation forces in Iraq under Commander-In-Chief Obama suffered 27 combat casualties in the week ending Feb 10, 2009, as the official total rose to jumped sharply to at least 71,119 with monthly "non hostile" casualties posted.
The total includes 34,443 dead and wounded from what the Pentagon classifies as "hostile" causes and more than 36,676 dead and medically evacuated (as of Jan 31, 2009) from "non-hostile" causes.*
The actual total is over 100,000 because the Pentagon chooses not to count as "Iraq casualties" the more than 30,000 veterans whose injuries-mainly brain trauma from explosions (TBI) and PTSD diagnosed only after they had left Iraq.**
Stop the economic stimulus for nuclear weapons!
The economic stimulus plan is meant to create jobs and spur economic growth. So why does the stimulus plan include $1 billion in funding for nuclear weapons?
Now is our chance to stop wasteful funding for nuclear weapons that has been snuck into the economic stimulus plan. The Senate is expected to vote very soon on the stimulus plan. The House did not include funding for nuclear weapons and when it meets with the Senate in a conference committee to negotiate a final economic stimulus plan, we will have an opportunity to eliminate this funding.
You can help by contacting your senators and asking them to eliminate this funding. Click here.
Stopping terrorism. Preventing nuclear attack. Protecting and conserving finite sources of energy.
These are the perennial security concerns that have shaped and will continue to shape American foreign policy for the foreseeable future. However, in the last thirty years the landscape in which we address these concerns has changed dramatically, and the election of a new president and Congress brings an opportunity to accordingly redefine American engagement with the world. The heavy US reliance on the blunt instrument of military force has generated new instability and conflict, and today Americans face a more dangerous world than a decade ago. US security is tightly woven with that of our allies as well as some of our antagonists, and in this interconnected world, we need to use the right tools.
Secret Shots Given to US Military
By Kathy Kelly
People have asked me, since I returned from Gaza, how people manage? How do they keep going after being traumatized by bombing and punished by a comprehensive state of siege? I wonder myself. I know that whether the loss of life is on the Gazan or the Israeli side of the border, bereaved survivors feel the same pain and misery. On both sides of the border, I think children pull people through horrendous and horrifying nightmares. Adults squelch their panic, cry in private, and strive to regain semblances of normal life, wanting to carry their children through a precarious ordeal.
I don't think so. But amidst the billions of dollars for good things like creating jobs and investment in infrastructure is $1 billion in funding for nuclear weapons. It's all part of the economic stimulus plan.
The Senate will vote today on the economic stimulus plan, and I need you to tell them to cut the nuclear pork. Please click here to send an urgent email. Your message will be sent to the Senate, Congress, and directly to the President.
The Senate Appropriations Committee is taking advantage of a dire economic crisis to sneak in wasteful spending for nuclear weapons, hidden from the public eye. At a time when President Obama has pledged to "set a goal of a world without nuclear weapons, and pursue it," a billion dollars to feed the nuclear weapons complex is irresponsible and wasteful - and it will do nothing for our economy.
Call your senators now!
By Winslow Wheeler
It is unfortunate the Senate must debate this nomination. It should not be before us. For two reasons -
1. We promised the American people change in Washington. Appointing a chief corporate lobbyist to the top position in the Pentagon that recommends whether or not a weapon system should go forward is, indeed, change - but in the wrong direction.
2. A waiver for this lobbyist to be Deputy Secretary of Defense might be defensible if he had a spectacular record when he served in the Pentagon during the Clinton administration. But there is no such record.
We should pay close attention to Mr. Lynn's record in the Pentagon in the 1990s. Here are some "highlights," if that is what you want to call them:
27,000 Work in Pentagon PR and Recruiting
By Noah Shachtman, Wired
Forget the drone stuff. Here is your eye-popping statistic of the day: "This year, the Pentagon will employ 27,000 people just for recruitment, advertising and public relations — almost as many as the total 30,000-person work force in the State Department."
That's from an Associated Press investigation, "which found that over the past five years, the money the military spends on winning hearts and minds at home and abroad has grown by 63 percent, to at least $4.7 billion this year."
Staff costs take up most of the money, more than $2 billion. Another $1.6 billion goes into recruiting. About a half-billion goes towards "psychological operations, which targets foreign audiences." And, finally, "$547 million goes into public affairs, which reaches American audiences."
Obama's Natl. Sec. Advisor Says He Takes Orders from Kissinger; So Who Does Petraeus Take Orders From?
Gen. Jones's Remarks to the Munich Security Conference
By James Jones
National Security Adviser
Hotel Bayerischer Hof
February 9, 2009
Thank you for that wonderful tribute to Henry Kissinger yesterday. Congratulations. As the most recent National Security Advisor of the United States, I take my daily orders from Dr. Kissinger, filtered down through General Brent Scowcroft and Sandy Berger, who is also here. We have a chain of command in the National Security Council that exists today.
I think my role today is a little bit different than you might expect.
By David Swanson
I wrote recently about the possibility of outgrowing the use of war. Today I got a book in the mail that makes a strong argument intended as a tool for ending war. The book is called "Will War Ever End: A Soldier's Vision of Peace for the 21st Century" by Captain Paul K. Chappell, U.S. Army. It's short, more of a hardcover pamphlet than a book, but it is packed with ideas.
BAGHDAD, (AP) – The black-and-white video starts with a mini-van locked in the crosshairs and the sound of a missile launching. A ball of fire suddenly consumes the van and a palm grove somewhere in Iraq.
"Good shot," says a voice squawking over what sounds like a military radio. Before the one-minute video clip is over, two more SUVs are destroyed by Apache helicopters.
The video is one of dozens brought to viewers around the world by Maj. Alayne Conway, the top public affairs officer for the 3rd Infantry Division. When her unit was in Iraq, her office sent out four to six videos a day to media outlets around the world, as well as posting them on YouTube.
"You want to make sure you edit it in the right way," Conway said. "You have to go through the steps. ... Is this something that is going to make Joe Six-Pack look up from his TV dinner or his fast-food meal and look up at the TV and say, `Wow, the American troops are kicking butt in Iraq?'"
By Dave Lindorff
I can’t count how many people have bombarded me with criticisms, usually laced with insults and often obscenities, when I have written articles calling for pressure on Democratic politicians to do the right thing, whether that is impeaching the last president and vice president for war crimes or in the case of our new president, standing and fighting for a people’s bailout, instead of a Wall Street bailout.
The common refrain I hear is that the Democrats and Republicans are the same, and that we need a third party. Another common refrain is that “all you suckers” who voted for Obama are to blame. We should have voted for Cynthia McKinney and Ralph Nader, they say.
Now I have nothing against McKinney and Nader. That ticket would make for a wonderful administration, I agree. But I also have to point out that there is zero chance of these two people being elected in my lifetime (I’m 59 and pretty healthy) or theirs.
By Diane Wittner and Dr. Margaret Flowers http://www.chespeakecitizens.org
Unbelievable. The politicians in Washington D.C. still don't get it. The last election gave a crystal clear signal to politicians in Washington that Americans want REAL change. Americans want a government that works for the people.
While we welcome news from U.S. sources about President Obama's media-savvy approach to selling his economic stimulus package, the most important news about government spending decisions remains...well...um...underreported in this country. (Whither U.S. media?!)
Fortunately, the BBC is on the case:
US reopens $35bn air tanker deal"
"Boeing in $3bn air force contract"
Anti-war lawmakers worry over plan for Afghanistan
By Anne Flaherty | YahooNews!
David Kilcullen, a counterinsurgency adviser to Condoleezza Rice when she was secretary of state, recently warned senators against widening U.S. involvement in the war."If you think about what we did in Vietnam, we escalated, we overthrew that leader, we took control of the problem, we tried to fix it and we couldn't fix it, couldn't afford it," said Kilcullen, a former Australian Army officer, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. "And I just think we need to be extremely careful about signing ourselves up to escalating to the point where we can't pullback. ... Because once you own the problem, you own it," he said.
By Dave Lindorff
If the disaster of the so-called "stimulus" bill just passed by the Senate doesn't convince President Obama and his advisers that the strategy of "bipartisanship" that he has been espousing is a political suicide, nothing will.
The Republican Party, with the willing help of conservative Democrats like Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) and Democratic turncoats like Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-CT), has forced Obama to agree to a joke of a stimulus package that is nearly half composed of tax breaks which will do nothing to bolster the economy (since most of the money will end up either paying down credit card debt or buying Chinese and Sri Lankan imports) and that is stripped of $40 billion to help struggling state and local governments.
Fresh from its rout in November, the GOP is, in fact, openly trying to sabotage Obama's economic stimulus plan, because the last thing Republicans want to see is an economy on the upturn in 2010 or 2012.
Defense contractor KBR Inc. has been awarded a $35 million Pentagon contract involving major electrical work, even as it is under criminal investigation in the electrocution deaths of at least two U.S. soldiers in Iraq.
The announcement of the new KBR contract came just months after the Pentagon, in strongly worded correspondence obtained by The Associated Press, rejected the company’s explanation of serious mistakes in Iraq and its proposed improvements. A senior Pentagon official, David J. Graff, cited the company’s "continuing quality deficiencies" and said KBR executives were "not sufficiently in touch with the urgency or realities of what was actually occurring on the ground."
See how the six largest militaries in the world compare.
New newsletter available with lots of news (some of it good) at
By Kevin Zeese
Last week, Voters for Peace started a campaign to stop the nomination of former Raytheon executive and weapons lobbyist, William Lynn, for Deputy Secretary of Defense.
Opposition to the nomination is gaining traction in the senate. Senator Grassley may hold up the nomination indefinitely.
More than 100,000 letters have been sent through the Voters for Peace site thus far. Please join this effort and spread the word.
On www.VotersForPeace.US you can forward a message about this alert (it will pop up when you go to the page) and if you have not yet taken action you can do so here:
Letter to Armed Services Committee.
Help strike a blow against the military industrial complex and the revolving door between the weapons industry and the Pentagon.
By Alice Slater
The cut to 1,000 is terrific because it matches an offer from Putin going back to 2000 and reiterated over the years for each of us to cut to 1,000 warheads. (Of the 26,000 nuclear weapons on the planet, 25,000 are in the US and Russia. See my briefing paper, Roadmap to Presidential Leadership for Nuclear Disarmament.) Then we can call all the countries to the table to negotiate a treaty to eliminate nuclear weapons. China, France, UK Israel, Pakistan, India, N. Korea, won’t discuss nuclear abolition until the US and Russia get their numbers down. Also, Obama’s going to have to put NATO expansion and missile “offense” on hold in order to get Russia to deal with us on nuclear reductions—and that’s a great thing too! We’re on a roll!!
By Tim Reid, Times of London
President Obama will convene the most ambitious arms reduction talks with Russia for a generation, aiming to slash each country's stockpile of nuclear weapons by 80 per cent.
The radical treaty would cut the number of nuclear warheads to 1,000 each, The Times has learnt. Key to the initiative is a review of the Bush Administration's plan for a US missile defence shield in Eastern Europe, a project fiercely opposed by Moscow.
Mr Obama is to establish a non-proliferation office at the White House to oversee the talks, expected to be headed by Gary Samore, a non-proliferation negotiator in the Clinton Administration. The talks will be driven by Hillary Clinton's State Department.
By David Swanson
In the ordinary course of things in Washington, D.C., and on television, there are two separate conversations. In one conversation, everything that the government spends money on (schools, transportation, police, etc.) must be trimmed back to save money. In the other conversation, the expenses of wars and the military must be unquestioned. After what he said this week on ABC, it will be interesting to see whether Congressman Barney Frank is permitted on television anymore. He combined the two conversations.