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Military Industrial Complex
I was fortunate enough to view a screening of the new Snowden movie Wednesday evening with some of the whistleblowers who have cameos in it and with its director Oliver Stone. I'm not allowed to review it until Saturday night, but it is a truly great movie and has the potential to be the most widely seen, heard, or read thing of any political decency or truth in the world this year. That's not, however, why I'm glad I saw it.
I'm glad I watched Snowden because it gave me an extra several hours of living on earth without having yet seen the NBC special on the Trumpillary war machine, in which first Hillary Clinton and then Donald Trump promised NBC they'd wage plenty of wars. Earlier, on Wednesday I had posted this on my Facebook page:
Here are a few of my favorite facts that you will not learn tonight from NBC, Donald Trump, or Hillary Clinton: Nonviolent resistance is more effective than violence and its victories longer lasting. Peaceful spending or even tax cuts for working people is economically superior to military spending. The war on terrorism has increased terrorism, including in the seven nations the United States has bombed this year. Over half of federal discretionary spending, through multiple departments, is dumped into war preparations each year, about as much as the rest of the world's nations combined. The U.S. is the top arms dealer to dictatorships abroad, and today's wars typically have U.S. weapons on both sides. The U.S. Army can't figure out what it did with $6.5 trillion this year, while the United Nations says that $30 billion a year could end starvation on earth. Every recent U.S. war has been illegal under the U.N. Charter and the Kellogg Briand Pact. Over 95% of the victims of every recent U.S. war have been on the other side, and the vast majority of them civilian. The top destroyer of the natural environment is the U.S. military. Routinely bombing Muslim countries, giving war weapons and war training to local police, and expecting non-racist, law-abiding policing cannot work. The U.S. backed a violent coup in Ukraine. Sitting out the National Anthem is not "true patriotism" but a truly courageous challenge to the poison of patriotism.
NBC did not disappoint. Matt Lauer did not ask Trumpillary how much money, even within a quarter trillion dollars or so, they would like spent. He did not ask which wars, if any, they would end or start. He did not ask how many people they would murder with drones. He did not ask if they would kidnap or torture or murder in prisons. He did not ask about foreign aid. He did not ask about leading by example. He did not ask about climate change. He did not ask about the arms trade or the bombing of Yemen. He did not ask about the announcement ISIS had just made of having named a U.S.-trained (and, of course, U.S.-armed) sniper as its Minister of War. He did not ask about the racism and violence permeating U.S. culture. I don't think any of the three people (Clinton, Trump, Lauer) or any of the veterans asking questions ever said the word "peace."
Lauer opened by claiming that September 11th launched years of war. In fact, the U.S. government launched years of war.
NBC then showed clips of 9/11 and of Obama announcing the killing of Osama bin Laden, but not a single image of a single body or bombed out house. After 15 years of immoral, illegal, catastrophic murder sprees, Clinton began by taking credit for her "experience" of having been part of making all those wars happen.
So, Lauer asked her, not about any of those wars, but about her emails. Eventually he turned to Iraq, and she claimed to have learned her lesson. Although she still wanted war in Libya and several other countries and still wants it badly in Syria (though Lauer didn't get into that), so she's clearly learned nothing. She did claim accurately that Trump backed war on Iraq and Libya too, while still claiming inaccurately that Gaddafi was planning a massacre. Lauer confirmed and corrected nothing.
What if Iran cheats on its nuclear agreement, Lauer wanted to know. Clinton then lied about Iranian hostility, blamed Iran for supporting Syria against U.S.-backed attacks, and "improved" Ronald Reagan's phrase to "distrust but verify."
Clinton promised no ground troops in Iraq, but there already are U.S. ground troops in Iraq. Lauer said nothing. Clinton promised to "go after" ISIS leader Baghdadi for the purpose of "focusing our attention." This is war for propaganda, not just propaganda for war.
Turning to Trump, he opened by claiming that Russian planes and Iranian ships are taunting the United States. Remind me again which coast of the United States the Baltic Sea and the Persian Gulf are on.
Trump then lied that he opposed attacking Iraq. Lauer said . . . (you guessed it) nothing. Trump also, if at odds with that lie, lied that Obama ended the war on Iraq and that so doing was a terrible thing.
Trump claimed, with as straight a face as he can manage, that it was a big success for him that the people who brought him to Mexico have now been thrown out of the government as a result.
A pre-approved veteran asked Trump how "defeating" a terrorist group won't just produce a new one. Trump talked a while without answering and then said "Take the Oil." Steal Iraq's oil. That was Trump's answer. If you steal their oil, then they can't have any power, he suggested. Trump seemed to believe no hostility or resentment would find any leverage after such a theft, that such a theft could be completed quickly, and that he was providing us with new information as "people don't know this about Iraq" (that it has among the world's largest reserves of oil).
Lauer asked Trump if he really has a plan to "defeat ISIS." It was clear he does not.
NBC had a veteran ask how Trump would deescalate tensions with Russia. He answered by claiming Russian airplanes are engaged in hostility against the United States. That ought to do it.
Then Lauer piled on, falsely and baselessly blaming Putin for aggression in Ukraine and interference in the U.S. election, and blaming Russia for supporting Syria and Iran.
Lauer and vets asked Trumpillary about caring for veterans, all taking it as unquestionable that more veterans must be produced through more wars. Trump even said that he'd let immigrants remain in the United States if they would "serve" . . . not his dinner apparently, but his war machine, Hillary's war machine, NBC's war machine, Comcast's war machine, the war machine of people who've watched this stuff for 15 years and started to believe it's the way normal decent human beings should be allowed to behave.
From David Swanson, Director of World Beyond War
I was very pleased to learn from Wolfgang Lieberknecht that the people of your two towns in central Germany, Treffurt and Wanfried, will be marching together this week with an orchestra from Russia and a message of friendship in opposition to the new Cold War.
I learned that your towns are seven kilometers apart but that until 1989 you were divided, one in East Germany, one in the West. It is wonderful to what an extent you have put that division behind you and made it part of known and regretted history. There is a piece of the Berlin wall displayed here in my town in Virginia, which otherwise displays primarily statues celebrating one side of a U.S. Civil War that ended over 150 years ago. The European Union, whose members assist in aggressive U.S. wars, has been given a Nobel Peace Prize for not going to war with itself.
But, as you know, the line of hostile division has simply been pushed east to the border of Russia. No longer is it the NATO vs. Warsaw Pact division that split your towns apart. Now it is the NATO vs. Russia division that divides people in Ukraine and other border states and threatens to bring down the world in a nuclear catastrophe.
And yet a Russian orchestra from Istra continues to travel to Germany every two years to build better relations. And you are hoping that your peace march will become a model for others. I hope so too.
There are still 100,000 U.S. and UK bombs in the ground in Germany, still killing.
U.S. bases violate the German Constitution by waging war from German soil, and by controlling U.S. drone murders around the globe from Ramstein Air Base.
The United States promised Russia when your two countries and towns reunited that NATO would not move an inch eastward. It has now moved relentlessly to the border of Russia, including by pushing for a relationship with Ukraine after the U.S. helped facilitate a military coup in that country.
I recently watched video of a panel on which the former U.S. ambassador to the Soviet Union at the time of your reunification told Vladimir Putin that all the new U.S. troops and equipment and exercises and missile bases are not meant to threaten Russia, rather they are just meant to create jobs in the United States. While I apologize to the world for such madness, and recognize that other and better and more U.S. jobs could have been created with peaceful spending, it’s worth pointing out that people in Washington, D.C., actually think this way.
This Wednesday night, two candidates for U.S. president will discuss war, war, and more war on television. These are people who are never in the same room with anyone who imagines abolishing war to be possible or desirable. These are people whose every bellicose utterance is cheered by their sycophants and funders. They truly have no idea what they are doing, and they need people like you to wake them up with a bit of beautiful musical noise on behalf of peace and sanity.
At World Beyond War we are working to increase understanding of the desirability and feasibility of phasing out and replacing the entire institution of war preparations. We’ll have a big event in Berlin on September 24th and hope you can come. Those of us in the United States look to those of you in Germany for leadership, support, and solidarity. We need you to take Germany out of NATO and kick the U.S. military out of Germany.
That’s a pro-U.S. request, in so far as the people of the United States will be better off not paying, financially and morally, and in terms of hostile blowback, for the pieces of the U.S. war machine that are based on German soil, including Africa Command — the U.S. military’s headquarters for dominating Africa, which has yet to find a home on the continent it seeks to control.
The United States and Germany must both face down the rightwing tendencies to blame the victims of Western wars who try to flee to the West.
And we must, together, make peace with Russia — a project for which Germany may be perfectly placed, and on which we thank you for taking the lead.
I recall five years ago listening to an arms dealer on NPR respond to a question of what he would do if the war on Afghanistan were actually ended. He said he hoped there could be a big long war in Libya. And he laughed. And the "journalist" laughed. It was arms dealing as comedy.
The new Hollywood movie War Dogs is a comic biopic or a biographical crime war comedy-drama film but always described as some sort of comedy. The image above is of an ad for the film that one hopes is intended as funny, because otherwise it would be even worse than it is. The website it points you to purports to be an introduction to how you, too, can get stinking rich as a war profiteer. Then it shows youtube trailers of the movie, which appears to be all about sex, music, violence, punchlines, and arms dealing.
If you watch the movie itself, it starts out denouncing war as having nothing to do with what the propaganda suggests, as being all about weapons profiteering. But the rest of the movie shows almost nothing of war. Never is a single victim of all the weaponry that is bought and sold shown or even mentioned. Instead, we're given a version of The Big Short or The Wolf of Wall Street where the particular financial scam is selling weapons rather than repackaging mortgages.
Perhaps the early scenes of the movie touch momentarily on the hypocrisy of profiteering on war while denying even to oneself that one supports the wars. But these scenes also depict a society in which the only way a young person can earn a decent living is by selling weapons. It's a familiar tale from stories of drug dealing as the only route to significant wealth. But here the drug is weaponry, and the addict is the U.S. government.
And it's true that the (based on a true) story depicted in the film ends up in disaster. But we never see the slightest hint at how arming people to commit mass murder might harm anyone, any more than Wall Street crime movies introduce you to people made homeless by Wall Street scams. The moral lesson of War Dogs seems to be: Abide by proper bureaucratic procedures, buy the instruments of death from approved nations, maintain propriety and transparency in death dealing, and you'll get only slightly less stinking rich than these clowns did.
The cultural lesson, especially of the advertising, seems to be that joking about war profiteering is funny, cool, and edgy. Joking about cruelty to non-human animals would not be so acceptable in movie promotions. The industry of mass murder for human beings has become background noise in the era of permawar. All jokes about it will be labeled ironic, but the fact that it is an acceptable topic for joking says something very troubling about our culture.
The total acceptability of militarism extends well beyond the neoconservatives, the racists, the Republicans, the liberal humanitarian warriors, the Democrats, and the masses of political "independents" who find any talk of dismantling the U.S. military scandalous. Fredric Jameson is an otherwise leftist intellectual who's put out a book, edited by Slavoj Zizek, in which he proposes universal conscription into the military for every U.S. resident. In subsequent chapters, other purportedly leftist intellectuals critique Jameson's proposal with hardly a hint of concern at such an expansion of a machine of mass murder. Jameson adds an Epilogue in which he mentions the problem not at all.
What Jameson wants is a vision of Utopia. His book is called An American Utopia: Dual Power and the Universal Army. He wants to nationalize banks and insurance companies, seize and presumably shut down fossil fuel operations, impose draconian taxes on large corporations, abolish inheritance, create a guaranteed basic income, abolish NATO, create popular control of the media, ban rightwing propaganda, create universal Wi-Fi, make college free, pay teachers well, make healthcare free, etc.
Sounds great! Where do I sign up?
Jameson's answer is: at the Army recruiting station. To which I reply: go get yourself a different subservient order-taker willing to participate in mass murder.
Ah, but Jameson says his military won't fight any wars. Except for the wars it fights. Or something.
Utopianism is seriously much needed. But this is pathetic desperation. This is a thousand times more desperate than Ralph Nader asking the billionaires to save us. This is Clinton voters. This is Trump voters.
And this is U.S. blindness to the merits of the rest of the world. Few other countries in any way approach the militarized environmental destruction and death generated by the United States. This country lags very far behind in sustainability, peace, education, health, security, and happiness. The first step toward Utopia need not be such a harebrained scheme as a total takeover by the military. The first step should be catching up with places like Scandinavia in the realm of economics, or Costa Rica in the realm of demilitarization -- or indeed realizing full compliance with Japan's Article Nine, as mentioned in Zizek's book. (For how Scandinavia got where it is, read Viking Economics by George Lakey. It had nothing to do with forcing kids, grandparents, and peace advocates into an out of control imperial military.)
In the United States, it is the liberals in Congress who want to impose selective service on women, and who celebrate every new demographic admitted into greater status in the military. The "progressive" vision is now of slightly or radically leftist economics, side by side with a heaping platter of militarized nationalism (to the tune of $1 trillion per year) -- with the very idea of internationalism banished from consideration. The reformist view of the ever expanding American Dream is of the gradual democratization of mass murder. Bombing victims across the world may soon be able to look forward to being bombed by the first female U.S. president. Jameson's proposal is a radical advance in this same direction.
I hesitate to call attention to Jameson's book because it is so bad and this trend so insidious. But, in fact, the bits of his essay and of those critiquing it that address universal conscription, despite its centrality to Jameson's project, are few and far between. They could be contained in a small brochure. The rest of the book is a rambling assortment of observations on everything from psychoanalysis to Marxism to whatever cultural abomination Zizek just stumbled across. Much of this other material is useful or entertaining, but it stands in contrast to the apparently dim-witted acceptance of the inevitability of militarism.
Jameson is adamant that we can reject the inevitability of capitalism, and of just about anything else we see fit. "Human nature" he points out, quite rightly, does not exist. And yet, the notion that the only place where a U.S. government could ever put any serious money is the military is silently accepted for many pages and then explicitly stated as fact: "[A] civilian population -- or its government -- is unlikely to spend the tax money warfare demands on purely abstract and theoretical peacetime research."
That sounds like a description of the current U.S. government, not all governments past and future. A civilian population is unlikely as hell to accept universal permanent conscription into a military. That, not investment in peaceful industries, would be unprecedented.
Jameson, you'll notice, relies on "warfare" to motivate the power of his idea of using the military for social and political change. That makes sense, as a military is, by definition, an institution used for waging war. And yet, Jameson imagines that his military won't wage wars -- sort of -- but will for some reason go on being funded anyway -- and with a dramatic increase.
A military, Jameson maintains, is a way to compel people to mix with each other and form a community across all the usual lines of division. It's also a way to compel people to do exactly what they are ordered to do at every hour of the day and night, from what to eat to when to defecate, and to condition them to commit atrocities on command without stopping to think. That's not incidental to what a military is. Jameson hardly addresses the question of why he wants a universal military rather than, say, a universal civilian conservation corps. He describes his proposal as "the conscription of the entire population into some glorified National Guard." Could the existing National Guard be more glorified than its advertisements now depict it? It's so misleadingly glorified already that Jameson mistakenly suggests that the Guard answers only to state governments, even as Washington has sent it off to foreign wars with virtually no resistance from the states.
The United States has troops in 175 nations. Would it dramatically add to them? Expand into the remaining holdouts? Bring all the troops home? Jameson doesn't say. The United States is bombing seven nations that we know of. Would that increase or decrease? Here's all that Jameson says:
"[T]he body of eligible draftees would be increased by including everyone from sixteen to fifty, or if you prefer, sixty years of age: that is, virtually the entire adult population. [I can hear the cries of discrimination against 61 year-olds coming, can't you?] Such an unmanageable body would henceforth be incapable of waging foreign wars, let alone carrying out successful coups. In order to emphasize the universality of the process, let's add that the handicapped would all be found appropriate positions in the system, and that pacifists and conscientious objectors would be places in control of arms development, arms storage, and the like."
And that's it. Because the military would have more troops, it would be "incapable" of fighting wars. Can you imagine presenting that idea to the Pentagon? I would expect a response of "Yeeeeeeaaaah, sure, that's exactly what it would take to shut us down. Just give us a couple hundred million more troops and all will be well. We'll just do a bit of global tidying up, first, but there'll be peace in no time. Guaranteed."
And the "pacifists" and people with consciences would be assigned to work on weaponry? And they'd accept that? Millions of them? And the weaponry would be needed for the wars that wouldn't be happening any more?
Jameson, like many a well-meaning peace activist, would like the military to do the sort of stuff you see in National Guard ads: disaster relief, humanitarian aid. But the military does that only when and only as far as it's useful to its campaign to violently dominate the Earth. And doing disaster relief does not require total abject subservience. Participants in that kind of work don't have to be conditioned to kill and face death. They can be treated with the sort of respect that helps make them participants in a democratic-socialist utopia, rather than the sort of contempt that helps lead them to committing suicide outside a VA hospital admissions office.
Jameson praises the idea of "an essentially defensive war" which he attributes to Jaurès, and the importance of "discipline" which he attributes to Trotsky. Jameson likes the military, and he stresses that in his utopia the "universal military" would be the end-state, not a transition period. In that end-state, the military would take over everything else from education to healthcare.
Jameson comes close to acknowledging that there might be some people who would object to this on the grounds that the military industrial complex generates mass murder. He says that he is up against two fears: fear of the military and fear of any utopia. He then addresses the latter, dragging in Freud, Trotsky, Kant, and others to help him. He doesn't spare one word for the former. He later claims that the real reason people are resistant to the idea of using the military is because within the military people are compelled to associate with those from other social classes. (Oh the horror!)
But, fifty-six pages in, Jameson "reminds" the reader of something he hadn't previously touched on: "It is worth reminding the reader that the universal army here proposed is no longer the professional army responsible for any number of bloody and reactionary coups d'etat in recent times, whose ruthlessness and authoritarian or dictatorial mentality cannot but inspire horror and whose still vivid memory will certainly astonish anyone at the prospect of entrusting a state or an entire society to its control." But why is the new military nothing like the old one? What makes it different? How, for that matter, is it controlled at all, as it takes over power from the civilian government? Is it imagined as a direct democracy?
Then why don't we just imagine a direct democracy without the military, and work to achieve it, which seems far more likely to be done in a civilian context?
In Jameson's militarized future, he mentions -- again, as if we should have already known it -- that "everyone is trained in the use of weapons and nobody is allowed to possess them except in limited and carefully specified situations." Such as in wars? Check out this passage from Zizek's "critique" of Jameson:
"Jameson's army is, of course, a 'barred army,' an army with no wars . . . (And how would this army operate in an actual war, which is becoming more and more likely in today's multicentric world?)"
Did you catch that? Zizek claims this army will fight no wars. Then he wonders exactly how it will fight its wars. And while the U.S. military has troops and bombing campaigns underway in seven countries, and "special" forces fighting in dozens more, Zizek is worried that there might be a war someday.
And would that war be driven by weapons sales? By military provocation? By militarized culture? By hostile "diplomacy" grounded in imperialistic militarism? No, it couldn't possibly be. For one thing, none of the words involved are as fancy as "multicentric." Surely the problem -- albeit a minor and tangential one -- is that the multicentric nature of the world may start a war soon. Zizek goes on to state that, at a public event, Jameson has envisioned the means of creating his universal army in strictly Shock Doctrine terms, as an opportunistic response to a disaster or upheaval.
I agree with Jameson only on the premise with which he begins his hunt for a utopia, namely that the usual strategies are sterile or dead. But that's no reason to invent a guaranteed catastrophe and seek to impose it by the most antidemocratic means, especially when numerous other nations are already pointing the way toward a better world. The way to a progressive economic future in which the rich are taxed and the poor can prosper can only come through redirecting the unfathomable funds that are being dumped into war preparations. That Republicans and Democrats universally ignore that is no reason for Jameson to join them.
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.
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.
But it’s not just the world that has lost peace.
I lost my peace.
750 Sanders Delegates in Convention Walk-Out as Green Party’s Jill Stein Joins Anti-Hillary Protests Outside
By Dave Lindorff
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.
By John Grant
Someone's crying, Lord, kumbaya
- From the Gullah song meaning, Lord, come by here and help us
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.)
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.
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?
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.
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.
(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.
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.
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.
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.