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The Cost of American Militarism and an Absence of Debate

By Adeyinka Makinde | November 16, 2018

A recent report by Brown University’s Watson Institute of International and Public Affairs on the cost of America’s wars in the aftermath of 9/11 estimates a sum totalling $5.9 Trillion. It is a figure virtually identical to the $6 Trillion figure projected by Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government in 2013 to be the eventual cost of waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. Yet, as with the case of the increased danger of a nuclear war that could be the fruit of strained relations developed over the past decade with the Russian Federation, there has been no public debate in the United States about why America embarked on a programme of militarism predicated on the waging of a so-called War on Terror.

Such debate would necessarily have to centre on the three following areas:

  1. The “hijacking” (to use the term chosen by retired US Four Star General Wesley Clark) of American foreign policy in the aftermath of the September attacks by a group of neoconservatives operating within the administration of President George W. Bush who drew up a ‘hit-list’ of seven countries intended to be destroyed over a five year period.

It would have been expected that all such countries earmarked for destruction would have had a connection to the planning of the September attacks, or, at least, have been sympathetic to the values guiding the alleged perpetrators of the deadliest attack on American soil since Pearl Harbor in 1941. Yet Iraq, Libya and Syria were all secular Arab states implacably opposed to the Sunni Islamist ideology of al-Qaeda, and Iran is a Shia nation. The common denominator among these states including Lebanon, or more accurately, Hezbollah, the Iranian-backed Lebanese Shia militia, was an enmity with the State of Israel.

As Clark stated during a speech given in October 2007 at the Commonwealth Club of California in San Francisco, there was never a public debate on a policy which commenced with the invasion of Iraq and was intended to be completed with an attack on Iran.

  1. The unchanging policy from the administrations led by Bush Jr to Barack Obama and now Donald Trump due to ‘Deep State’ actors wielding power outside of the separated organs of government. In a scholarly paper-turned-book entitled National Security and Double Government, Michael J. Glennon, a professor of international law at Tufts University, has referred to the power usurping “Trumanite” institutions in contrast to the troika of “Madisonian” institutions of state, which he persuasively argues are no longer accountable in the way people think they are.
  1. The corporate welfare culture surrounding the military industry as composed of the Pentagon and corporations such as Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon and others. The exorbitant costs involved with the development of the F-35 fighter plane which according to a number of US generals is pretty much “useless”, is emblematic of the inefficient weapons development regime that is more concerned with lining the pockets of corporations than with efficiency and cost-effectiveness.

The aforementioned, of course, do not mention the human cost: that of innocent civilian lives destroyed by military invasions, drone attacks and covert wars initiated by the United States. It also does not include the number of US service personnel killed, maimed and suffering from mental traumas.

All need to be factored into a comprehensive debate on why America’s sovereign debt has spiralled to uncontrollable levels, and also, why the moral standing of the United States among the international community of nations has been brought down to an all-time low.

© Adeyinka Makinde (2018)

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular, Wars for Israel | , , , | 1 Comment

US Budgetary Costs of the Post-9/11 Wars: $5.9 Trillion Spent and Obligated

Through FY2019

By Prof. Neta C. Crawford | Watson Institute, Brown University | November 14, 2018

The United States has appropriated and is obligated to spend an estimated $5.9 trillion (in current dollars) on the war on terror through Fiscal Year 2019, including direct war and war-related spending and obligations for future spending on post-9/11 war veterans (see Table 1).

This number differs substantially from the Pentagon’s estimates of the costs of the post-9/11 wars because it includes not only war appropriations made to the Department of Defense – spending in the war zones of Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, and in other places the government designates as sites of “overseas contingency operations,” – but also includes spending across the federal government that is a consequence of these wars. Specifically, this is war-related spending by the Department of State, past and obligated spending for war veterans’ care, interest on the debt incurred to pay for the wars, and the prevention of and response to terrorism by the Department of Homeland Security.

If the US continues on its current path, war spending will continue to grow. The Pentagon currently projects $80 billion in Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending through FY2023. Even if the wars are ended by 2023, the US would still be on track to spend an additional $808 billion (see Table 2) to total at least $6.7 trillion, not including future interest costs. Moreover, the costs of war will likely be greater than this because, unless the US immediately ends its deployments, the number of veterans associated with the post-9/11 wars will also grow. Veterans benefits and disability spending, and the cost of interest on borrowing to pay for the wars, will comprise an increasingly large share of the costs of the US post-9/11 wars.

Table 1, below, summarizes the direct war costs – the OCO budget – and war-related costs through FY2019. These include war-related increases in overall military spending, care for veterans, Homeland Security spending, and interest payments on borrowing for the wars. Including the other areas of war-related spending, the estimate for total US war-related spending allocated through FY2019 is $4.9 trillion.[3] But because the US is contractually and morally obligated to pay for the care of the post-9/11 veterans through their lifetimes, it is prudent to include the costs of care for existing post-9/11 veterans through the next several decades. This means that the US has spent or is obligated to spend $5.9 trillion in current dollars through FY2019.[4] Table 1 represents this bottom-line breakdown for spent and obligated costs.

Table 1. Summary of War Related Spending, in Billions of Current Dollars, Rounded to the Nearest Billion, FY2001- FY2019[5]

Figure 1. US Costs of War: $5.9 Trillions of Current Dollars Spent and Obligated, through FY2019[10]

Further, the US military has no plans to end the post-9/11 wars in this fiscal year or the next. Rather, as the inclusion of future years spending estimates in the Pentagon’s budget indicates, the DOD anticipates military operations in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq and Syria necessitating funding through at least FY2023. Thus, including anticipated OCO and other war-related spending, and the fact that the post-9/11 veterans will require care for the next several decades, I estimate that through FY2023, the US will spend and take on obligations to spend more than $6.7 trillion.

To read the full PDF report by Professor Neta C. Crawford, click here.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

We Don’t Need EU Army, We Need a ‘European Home’ With Russia: Die Linke

Sputnik – November 17, 2018

Following years of floating within the bloc, the idea of Europe creating joint military forces is on the agenda after the French President and German Chancellor called on their EU allies to unite. While the EU leadership backed the initiative, it got a mixed response among European politicians.

Deputy Chair of left-wing Die Linke’s parliamentary group Heike Haensel has lambasted the idea of creating a European army, which was backed by French President Emmanuel Macron and German Chancellor Angela Merkel. In her article for the German outlet Der Tagesspiegel, the left-wing politician insists that European policy needs a radical new beginning.

“People in Germany and Europe do not need armoured roads, weapons and armies, but crisis-proof jobs, stable social systems and decent pensions. Instead of a “European army” we need a common “European home” with Russia. That would be a true vision of a peaceful union,” she wrote.

She stated that the EU and its members have more acute challenges to spend the taxpayers’ money resolving, which “will have catastrophic consequences, not only for Europeans.” The politician pointed at problems within the Union and its member states, including growing employment and utter futility, child poverty, housing shortages and welfare problems, which are successfully exploited. She lambasted the EU leadership for focusing on more deregulation, welfare cuts and militarization instead of solving these issues.

According to her, the militarization is prompting the EU states to increase their military spending. In addition to the NATO-prescribed target of 2 percent of GDP for military budgets, up to 5.5 billion euros of taxpayers’ money is to be spent annually by the “European Defence Fund” for arms technology.

“As if this was not enough, French President Emmanuel Macron, Chancellor Angela Merkel and German coalition politicians are pushing the creation of an EU army. According to Macron, the project is to withstand Russia, China and the United States. But it must be clear that military Eurochauvinism is not an alternative, or a reforming force in the existing world order. On the contrary, the upgrade of a “military-centred EU” around France and Germany wastes resources and increases the danger of conflict,” Haensel says.

She insists that billions of euros have flown into a senseless and dangerous arms race, and should be spent on social and ecological investments as well as fighting the causes of mass migration.

In early November, French President Emmanuel Macron called for creating a European army that would be independent of the US. The German Chancellor has backed his proposal, stressing recently that “Europe must take its fate in its own hands.” She also proposed the establishment of a “European security council” in order to coordinate the process. According to her, it could be a “good supplement to NATO.” Supported by the European Commission, the idea was branded “insulting” by Donald Trump.

However, the idea of a single EU army has been floated for at least several years. Since 2013, Berlin has overseen efforts towards closer EU defence integration through the Framework Nations Concept, which envisages that Germany should share its troops and capabilities with other European countries.

November 17, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , , | 1 Comment

The Donbass Dilemma

By Christopher Black – New Eastern Outlook – 16.11.2018

The November 11th elections of the leaders of the Donetsk and Lugansk Peoples Republics along with the members of their People’s Councils has again underlined the dilemma facing Ukraine, its NATO masters, and Russia for, as Tass reported, the result makes it very clear that there is a high level of support among the peoples of the Donbass for integration with Russia.

It is a dilemma for the NATO puppet regime in Kiev since the political solidity of the Republics remains even in the face of the assassinations of Donbass leaders that have taken place since 2014 including that of Donetsk leader Alexander Zakharchenko in August of this year and in the face of the constant state of siege under which the peoples of the republics live as they resist the attempts to break them. The regime in Kiev is once again forced to recognise that it rules a divided country that is a direct result of the NATO backed putsch that put them in power and the attempts to suppress the Russian language, culture and influence in Ukraine that immediately followed that putsch.

The Russian government on Tuesday the 13th stated as much, ever hopeful, at the OSCE in Vienna,

Russia believes that Sunday’s elections … represent a major step towards dialogue between Donbass and Kiev on the implementation of the Minsk Agreements.

That belief can only be based on the fact that the elections confirm the political integrity and will of the peoples of the Donbass republics and confirm the failure of the Kiev state of siege to break them. This should, hope the Russians, force NATO and Kiev back to the Minsk agreements and a compromise political solution. But there is little chance of that when the immediate response of the US government was to condemn the elections.

Their State Department spokesperson said on the 12th,

The United States joins our European Allies and partners in condemning the November 11th, sham elections in Russia controlled eastern Ukraine. Yesterday’s illegitimate processes were an attempt by Moscow to institutionalise its Donbass proxies, the so-called …Republics. These entities have no place within the Minsk agreements or within Ukraine’s constitutional government, and they should be dismantled along with their armed formations.

It is in fact a declaration of war, founded on lies. One of them is that Russia has already annexed the territories of the republics when it has not, the other that the peoples governments are just Russian stage sets when they have proven that they are truly representative of the peoples of the Donbass and often have conflicting views with Russia on how to move forward. The third lie is that the Republics have no place in the agreements when in fact the agreements were all about the special status of the republics, or “regions” and the nature of their “interim self-government.”

The Americans finished by stating they regard the elections as a violation of Ukraine’s sovereignty and territorial integrity and that they will continue their illegal economic warfare against Russia, under the quasi-legal guise of “sanctions,” adding in for good measure, until Russia surrenders “its control of Crimea to Ukraine”.

The fact that this is the same United States that, as it spoke, was in illegal occupation of Afghanistan, and Syria, had bombed and occupied Yugoslavia, Iraq and Libya, set up the illegal status of the Serbian province of Kosovo as its puppet state under a confessed war criminal, Hashim Thaci, constantly violates the territorial integrity of China and threatens the DPRK and Iran with imminent attack. This is the same government that was involved in the overthrow of the legitimate government of Ukraine in 2014, revealing the other lie in the American statement because Ukraine does not have a legitimate, constitutional government representative of the people but one riddled with Nazis and ultra reactionary forces willing to sell their country to the Americans and Germans. The evidence of members of the present Kiev regime being involved, along with foreign snipers, including US Army snipers, in the killings in the Maidan in Kiev in 2014 is strong evidence that the shootings, chaos and final putsch were an organised NATO operation to install a puppet regime.

It is a dilemma for NATO because with the putsch they had hoped to secure control of the big naval base at Sevastopol and place their battle formations directly on Russia’s border. Russia’s quick action of acceding to the request of the Crimean people to have a referendum on Crimea’s integration with Russia saved both the Russians living there from the nightmare of rule by the Nazi infected regime of Poroshenko and saved their strategic base from falling into NATO’s hands. Instead of the quick victory they had hoped for NATO are faced with a determined opposition from two buffer states that are closely allied to and supported by Russia while stuck with a corrupt and incompetent cabal in Kiev that cannot deliver what they want, complete control of Ukraine.

For Russia the dilemma is whether to absorb the republics into Russia or maintain the very messy status quo of stalemate and siege and the danger of being dragged into a larger war in Ukraine. Integration would have a number of advantages, including bringing under Russian control the mining and industrial strength of those republics, the loyalty of their people, their military experience and resources, and a resolution of the stalemate. On the other hand the Russian leadership fears that integration will be deemed by the NATO gang as an “invasion and annexation” of Ukraine and would be used as a pretext for a wider war against Russia. A wider war can lead to a nuclear war something that Russia, unlike the United States, wants to avoid. But as we see they are already accused of annexing those territories, and that propaganda narrative is not going to change.

And so, the stalemate remains. The dilemma remains. The peoples of the Donbass have expressed their wish. They have shown their courage and their determination, their resilience. They cannot be ignored. But neither can the real concerns of the Russian government. The Minsk Accords of 2015 provide a workable framework for a political resolution that requires compromises to be made. The Donbass republics and Russia have tried to adhere to the agreements consistently while Kiev and NATO violate them at every turn and maintain a state of siege against civilian populations and cities, with daily bombardments, small but deadly engagements, always the threat of larger ones, assassinations, committing war crimes on a daily basis, all supported by the NATO democracies who, as they spent November commemorating the war dead of the past, at the same time celebrated the large scale military exercises they are holding in Norway; practice for an attack on Russia.

The United States, unpleasant as it is to tell you, seizes every opportunity for bloodshed, like a raven flying to the stink of carrion. One day its unbounded greed will deliver the fate it deserves, but its leadership is not interested in political solutions that involve compromise. They want everything. In the case of Ukraine it is clear with the assassination of Zakharchenko that their intention is to resolve the problem with war. Their reaction to the elections confirms it.

Everything the American government does points to war. Not that the world is not already at war. When has it not been, and when has the United States and it allies not been behind them? But the very quick build up of economic warfare on Iran, China, Russia, the DPRK, the rejection of nuclear arms treaties under pretexts, the continuous series of military exercises surrounding Russia, Iran, China, the occupation of Afghanistan, the reactivation of the US 2nd Fleet, the ever hysterical anti Russian, and now beginning to build, anti-Chinese propaganda, are signs they have a military solution in mind in order to solve their problems.

For Russia and the Republics the way out of the dilemma is good will, negotiations and a peaceful resolution. For the US and its allies the way out is more hostility, diktats and violence. Is there an answer?

Clausewitz gives us a clue when he says,

“Since war is not an act of senseless passion but is controlled by its political object, the value of the object must determine the sacrifices to be made for it in magnitude and also in duration. Once the expenditure of effort exceeds the value of the political object, the object must be renounced and peace must follow.”

Russia is saying simply, “your war, your siege, your assassinations, your “sanctions” have failed. The elections are a statement of strength and determination to resist. You cannot subdue them. You must abandon the effort and restore the peace. To continue is illogical, an act of stupidity, a danger to the world. The risks are not worth the object.”

Unfortunately, we all know the NATO leadership is locked into their self created fantasies and delusions and so cannot perceive reality or comprehend it when they do, any more than the captain and officers of the NATO Norwegian frigate that, despite all its high tech gear, were unable to see what was right in front of them and collided with a slow moving oil tanker and then sank after returning from the NATO exercise in the area; because they believed in their own infallibility. But this is how all wars start, with delusions, with insanity.

Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel Beneath the Clouds.

November 16, 2018 Posted by | Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

A New Body On Nuclear Disarmament?

By Vladimir KOZIN – Oriental Review – 15/11/2018

In October 2018, Senior Adjunct Fellow of the Federation of American Scientists and former safeguards inspector with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Thomas Shea, unveiled his book Verifying Nuclear Disarmament at the Vienna Center for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation.

A key element of his publication is the establishment of a new international control mechanism for the phased and complete elimination of nuclear weapons by all nuclear powers, which will simultaneously monitor any attempts to re-create such weapons of mass destruction again.

In his book, the 78-year-old author, who began his military career on a US aircraft carrier fitting carrier-based aircraft with nuclear bombs, builds on the provisions of the international Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW) adopted in July 2017 by suggesting that a special implementing body be set up, which he calls the International Nuclear Disarmament Agency (INDA), to complement the IAEA should the treaty ever enter into force.

According to the US expert, the INDA would be a key body for controlling the entire process of global nuclear disarmament, it would oversee the dismantling of nuclear warheads and the equipment needed to make them at nuclear weapons facilities, and it would also ensure that nuclear weapons are never made again. The agency would operate in accordance with the principles set out in the text of the TPNW.

Thomas Shea has worked out the organisational structure of the INDA and sets this out in his book, along with the principles of its interaction with nuclear states and the IAEA.

The American researcher believes that the INDA should be headed by a Nuclear Disarmament Council made up of 24 members (one from each country party to the TPNW). The council would have nine permanent committees that would control the process of eliminating nuclear weapons, safeguard weapon-sensitive information, ensure the safety and security of nuclear weapons, and carry out inspections to verify nuclear disarmament agreements, so perform certain supranational functions, in other words. The council would also oversee the day-to-day activities of the new disarmament control agency and help implement all the provisions of the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The INDA’s research work will be provided by its staffed Research Institute and its Center for Research and Development related to the verification of nuclear disarmament.

The book’s author has developed key principles for preventing rearmament following the total elimination of nuclear weapons from the world’s arsenals, including the introduction of a strict inspection regime and the international control of fissile material that could be used to make nuclear warheads. He also suggests converting highly enriched uranium to low-enriched uranium as soon as possible, which could then only be used in nuclear power plants.

The American researcher proposes starting the nuclear disarmament process by determining for each nuclear state the minimum amount of fissile material that could be used to made nuclear warheads. He believes it would then be possible to embark on a reciprocal exchange of information about operationally deployed nuclear warheads, which should be eliminated first, and then information about non-deployed warheads, which should be disposed of second. The next step in the nuclear disarmament process would be an agreement to reduce the amount of fissile material intended for nuclear weapons and place all remaining stocks of fissile material under special international control to rule out future rearmament.

Thomas Shea suggests that nuclear states take ten confidence-building nuclear disarmament measures. In particular, he believes that an important measure to increase the level of trust between nuclear states in the nuclear missile sphere would be their mutual commitment not to be the first to use nuclear weapons against each other or not to use them at all, whether first, second, or third, and he also calls for the signing of bilateral agreements on the gradual reduction of nuclear arsenals.

Referring to the Nuclear Posture Review approved by the Trump administration in February 2018, Thomas Shea criticises Russia, China and North Korea for modernising their nuclear weapons, while ignoring the fact that the nuclear arsenals of the West’s “nuclear troika” (Great Britain, the US and France) have been upgraded, as have those of the de facto nuclear powers – Israel, India and Pakistan.

Thomas Shea expresses support for the eventual entry into force of the international TPNW. This contradicts Washington’s official negative position on general nuclear disarmament, which is the most strongly opposed to the idea being implemented in comparison with the other nuclear-armed states. It is well known that the US has already started making plans to create a completely new strategic nuclear triad over the next seven to eight years, which America’s current military and political leaders envisage will exist right up to the 2080s.

The US researcher does not mention any deadlines in his book for reaching global nuclear zero, recognising that the process for complete nuclear disarmament could take many years due to existing disagreements on the issue between nuclear-armed states. He simply notes more generally that nuclear disarmament can only take place when every legal nuclear power – which is to say the “nuclear five” represented by the five permanent members of the UN Security Council – and the four de facto nuclear powers that are not party to the Non-Proliferation Treaty – namely Israel, North Korea, India and Pakistan – understand that they will not be able to fully safeguard their security with nuclear weapons alone and so will switch to non-nuclear means to protect their defence interests. Thomas Shea believes that “disarmament won’t come quickly, quietly or cheaply”.

It is likely that the book will arouse some interest among those in the field as an example of the author’s development of a global mechanism for verifying complete nuclear disarmament at some point in the future. It is unlikely to become a catalyst for discussions on how to create a world completely free of nuclear weapons, however, given that the level of nuclear missile confrontation in the world has grown significantly thanks to the biggest nuclear power – America – while the threshold for using nuclear weapons has been lowered, particularly given the Pentagon’s readiness to use low-yield nuclear warheads, which is to say nuclear warheads with an explosive power of less than 5 kilotons.

The real situation in the world today shows that there are too many doctrinal and military-technical obstacles preventing the complete and irreversible elimination of all nuclear weapons. Their elimination is also made more complicated by the lack of a global consensus. There has also been no noticeable increase in the level of trust between nuclear-armed states, which all have different views on nuclear arms control and the doctrinal basis for their actual use.

It is important to bear in mind that only two-thirds of UN member states voted in favour of adopting the TPNW and it did not have the support of every nuclear power. The process of joining it is even worse: only a third of UN member states have actually signed it. The ratification process is moving along just as slowly. As of November 2018, it had been ratified by less than half of the 50 countries required.

The difficulties in implementing the TPNW are also reflected in the fact that a large proportion of the global community does not want to retain the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty in its current form. This is clearly shown by the results of a UN vote. In October 2018, the First Committee of the United Nations General Assembly, which debates disarmament and international security, unfortunately voted against a draft resolution in support of the INF Treaty. Thirty-one countries voted in favour, 54 countries abstained, and 55 countries, including the US, Great Britain, Canada, France and Ukraine, voted against.

In other words, there is a lack of a global consensus on nuclear disarmament. In fact, it is possible that America’s targeted efforts to unilaterally withdraw from the INF Treaty and its refusal to extend START III could undermine the nuclear non-proliferation regime that has existed for many decades, as well as the entire international legal system for nuclear and conventional arms control that has been established with such difficulty over a long period of time.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

America Has No Peace Movement – Blame the ‘White Supremacists’

By Philip M. GIRALDI | Strategic Culture Foundation | 15.11.2018

The United States of America has no peace movement even though the country has been mired in unwinnable wars since 2001 and opinion polls suggest that there is only lukewarm support among the public for what is taking place in Afghanistan and Syria. This is in part due to the fact that today’s corporate media virtually functions as a branch of government, which some might refer to as the Ministry of Lies, and it is disinclined to report on just how dystopic American foreign and national security policy has become. This leaves the public in the dark and allows the continued worldwide blundering by the US military to fly under the radar.

The irony is that America’s last three presidents quite plausibly can be regarded as having their margins of victory attributed to a peace vote. George W. Bush promised a more moderate foreign policy in his 2000 campaign, Obama pledged to undo much of the harsh response to 9/11 promulgated by Bush, and Donald Trump was seen as the less warlike candidate when compared to Hillary Clinton. So the public wants less war but the politicians’ promises to deliver have been little more than campaign chatter, meaning that the United States continues to be locked into the same cycle of seeking change through force of arms.

Just last week Secretary of State Mike Pompeo spoke to a BBC journalist and said Iran must do what Washington demands “if they want their people to eat.” Pompeo’s comments should have shocked the public, but they were not widely reported. If Pompeo spoke for the Administration, that means that Washington is now ready, willing and often able to starve civilians and deny them medicines as a foreign policy tool. Iran is now on the receiving end, but the US has also been supporting similar action by the Saudi Arabians in Yemen, which has resulted in widespread starvation, particularly among children. The current policy recalls former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright’s infamous comment that the deaths of 500,000 Iraqi children due to sanctions had been “worth it.”

It is hard to believe that most Americans support Pompeo. To be sure, there are a number of groups in the United States that have the word “peace” or “antiwar” somewhere in their titles. Most would describe themselves as “progressive,” wherein lies the problem in pulling together a more broadly-based coalition that would make America’s warfare state a key target in the national election in 2020. Progressives, or, as they used to be called, liberals, are not like everyone else. Some commentators observing their antics describe them scathingly as “social justice warriors” or SJWs. That means that they have a mandate to oppose all the evils in the world, to include racism, sexism, limits on immigration and capitalism to name only a few. War is somewhere on the list but nowhere near the top.

SJWs have no comfort zone for dealing with anyone who does not fully buy into their blueprint for global rejuvenation. This means in turn that the antiwar movement, such as it is, is fragmented into a gaggle of groups with grievances that have little ability to establish cohesion with other organizations that might agree completely with their worldview. Folks like me, who are socially and politically conservative but antiwar, do not fit well with their priorities and would prefer to focus on the wars, but that option is not on offer without accepting a lot of sanctimonious garbage.

recent email from the US Campaign for Palestinian Rights illustrates precisely what is wrong. I would support the group based on my concern for justice for the Palestinians but have no interest in its ridiculous stereotyping of who is the enemy, i.e. the omnipresent evil “white supremacists” who are also male, Gentile and heterosexual. The email, sent by one Nusayba Hammad, Communications Director, begins: “In the past week, white supremacist gunmen murdered 11 worshippers at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh and two Black people in Louisville, and Trump announced his intention to try to erase trans, non-binary, and intersex folks… Our struggles for justice are inextricably linked: rejecting white supremacy means rejecting antisemitism, anti-Black racism, Zionism, Islamophobia, transphobia, and all forms of oppression. This is especially important knowing that many, many people carry overlapping identities and thus are marginalized at the intersection of overlapping oppressions.”

Yes, I know, it is impossible to understand what she is going on about unless one is educated in the progressive codewords. And also yes, the text could have been written by Monty Python. After that introduction the email goes on to provide some resources to “expand [one’s] knowledge,” including this gem:

Palestine as a Queer Struggle (video)
This webinar with Nada Elia, Falastine Dwikat, and Izzy Mustafa covers the intersecting struggles against heteropatriarchy and Zionism. With Trump’s most recent attack on trans, non-binary, and intersex folks, it’s imperative that we understand the importance of standing with queer and trans people in the US and in Palestine as they face multiple layers of oppression.”

As war, in this case the slaughter of the Palestinians by the Jewish state, is the ultimate evil and it brings with it many other forms of suffering, it would seemingly not be asking too much to worry about it as a first priority before getting into the “multiple layers of oppression” that seem to bother lefties so much. But, alas, they cannot jettison that baggage and for that reason many “normal” people who want the wars to stop will not be participating in their protests. It’s a shame really, as joining together and fighting to stop the next war is well worth doing for every human being on this planet.

November 15, 2018 Posted by | Ethnic Cleansing, Racism, Zionism, Full Spectrum Dominance, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | | Leave a comment

‘Tangible Evidence’: UK Funding ‘Killer Robot’ Drone Project – Leaked Report

Sputnik – November 14, 2018

In 2017, hundreds of academics in Canada and Australia called for a pre-emptive ban on the development and use of lethal autonomous robotics, a move that became part of the Campaign to Stop Killer Robots.

The development of “killer robot” drones has actively been funded by the British government, which is making public statements that it has no plans to create such unmanned aerial vehicles, according to a leaked report by a UK anti-drone campaign group.

The group, called Drone Wars, published a survey called ‘Off the Leash: The Development of Autonomous Military Drones in the UK’. It specifically claims that Britain’s Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) is specifically injecting money into the creation of the Taranis drone, as well as dozens of other similar research programmes.

Developed by BAE Systems and the UK Ministry of Defence (MoD), Taranis is capable of autonomously flying, plotting routes and locating targets. The project has cost more than 200 million GBP (259 million USD) so far, according to the Drone Wars report.

Peter Burt, author of the report, referred to “tangible evidence” that the UK MoD is actively engaged in development of “the underpinning technology with the aim of using it in military applications.”

In this vein, Burt cited Taranis as an example of a drone with “advanced autonomous capabilities”, arguing that the development of a “truly autonomous lethal drone” in the foreseeable future was now a “real possibility”.

“The government should be supporting international initiatives to prevent the development and use of fully autonomous weapons, and should be investigating the enormous potential of artificial intelligence to identify potential conflict areas and prevent wars before they start,” Brunt underscored.

The Independent cited an unnamed MoD spokesperson as rejecting reports about the UK government’s plans to create any weapons systems which would operate without input from humans.

The spokesperson pointed out that the MoD’s weapons will “always be under human control as an absolute guarantee of oversight, authority and accountability.”

Last week, The Times reported that during its Saif Sareea-3 military exercise, which wrapped up on November 3, the UK military for the first time engaged in wargames where it practiced fighting countries with more powerful armed forces, including Russia, using unmanned flying drones.Speaking at the Web Summit in Lisbon in 2017, prominent UK  physicist Stephen Hawking specifically cited the advent of powerful autonomous weapons, warning that if it is not used properly, artificial intelligence “could be the worst event in the history of our civilization”.

November 14, 2018 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | | Leave a comment

Woolsey Fire Burns Nuclear Meltdown Site that State Toxics Agency Failed to Clean Up

THE SANTA SUSANA FIELD LABORATORY (ROCKETDYNE) BURNED IN THE WOOLSEY FIRE, THREATENING TOXIC EXPOSURES FROM CONTAMINATED DUST, SMOKE, ASH AND SOIL. THE DEPARTMENT OF TOXIC SUBSTANCES CONTROL DENIES RISK THAT IT CREATED BY DELAYING THE LONG PROMISED CLEANUP.

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles | November 9, 2018

Last night, the Woolsey fire burned the contaminated Santa Susana Field Laboratory (SSFL), a former nuclear and rocket engine testing site. Footage from local television showed flames surrounding rocket test stands, and the fire’s progress through to Oak Park indicates that much of the toxic site burned.

A statement released by the California Dept. of Toxic Substances Control (DTSC) said that its staff, “do not believe the fire has caused any releases of hazardous materials that would pose a risk to people exposed to the smoke.” The statement failed to assuage community concerns given DTSC’s longtime pattern of misinformation about SSFL’s contamination and its repeated broken promises to clean it up.

“We can’t trust anything that DTSC says,” said West Hills resident Melissa Bumstead, whose young daughter has twice survived leukemia that she blames on SSFL and who has mapped 50 other cases of rare pediatric cancers near the site. Bumstead organized a group called “Parents vs. SSFL” and launched a Change.org petition demanding full cleanup of SSFL that has been signed by over 410,000 people. “DTSC repeatedly minimizes risk from SSFL and has broken every promise it ever made about the SSFL cleanup. Communities throughout the state have also been failed by DTSC. The public has no confidence in this troubled agency,” said Bumstead.

Nuclear reactor accidents, including a famous partial meltdown, tens of thousands of rocket engine tests, and sloppy environmental practices have left SSFL polluted with widespread radioactive and chemical contamination. Government-funded studies indicate increased cancers for offsite populations associated with proximity to the site, and that contamination migrates offsite over EPA levels of concern. In 2010, DTSC signed agreements with the Department of Energy and NASA that committed them to clean up all detectable contamination in their operational areas by 2017. DTSC also in 2010 committed to require Boeing, which owns most of the site, to cleanup to comparable standards. But the cleanup has not yet begun, and DTSC is currently considering proposals that will leave much, if not all, of SSFL’s contamination on site permanently.

Dr. Robert Dodge, President of Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles, shares the community’s concerns. “We know what substances are on the site and how hazardous they are. We’re talking about incredibly dangerous radionuclides and toxic chemicals such a trichloroethylene, perchlorate, dioxins and heavy metals. These toxic materials are in SSFL’s soil and vegetation, and when it burns and becomes airborne in smoke and ash, there is real possibility of heightened exposure for area residents.”

Dodge said protective measures recommended during any fire, such as staying indoors and wearing protective face masks, are even more important given the risks associated with SSFL’s contamination. Community members are organizing a campaign on social media to demand that DTSC release a public statement revealing the potential risks of exposure to SSFL contamination related to the fire.

But for residents such as Bumstead, worries will remain until SSFL is fully cleaned up. “When I look at that fire, all I see is other parents’ future heartache,” said Bumstead, “And what I feel is anger that if the DTSC had kept its word, we wouldn’t have these concerns, because the site would be cleaned up by now.”

# # #

Physicians for Social Responsibility-Los Angeles (PSR-LA) is the largest chapter of the national organization Physicians for Social Responsibility and has worked for the full cleanup of SSFL for over 30 years.. PSR-LA advocates for policies and practices that protect public health from nuclear and environmental threats and eliminate health disparities.

Parents vs. SSFL is a grassroots group of concerned parents and residents who demand compliance with cleanup agreements signed in 2010 that require a full cleanup of all radioactive and chemical contamination at the Santa Susana Field Laboratory.

Contact: Denise Duffield, 310-339-9676 or dduffield@psr-la.org, Melissa Bumstead 818-298-3192* or melissabumstead@sbcglobal.net,

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Environmentalism, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment

The Korean War: The Moral Bankruptcy of Interventionism

By Jacob G. Hornberger | FFF | November 13, 2018

An article in Sunday’s New York Times entitled “Remembering the Forgotten War” demonstrates perfectly the moral bankruptcy of the philosophy of foreign interventionism. Calling for the Korean War to become more highly remembered, the author, Hampton Sides, extols some of the popular justifications for subjecting U.S. troops to death, injury, and maiming in the Korean War.

Hampton tells the story of a veteran named Franklin Chapman, who is still alive. Hampton was sent to fight in Korea, was shot several times, and also hit by shrapnel. He was taken captive by the enemy and was held as a POW for three years. Today, the 85-year -old suffers from the aftereffects of frostbite, experiences aches and pains from his wounds, and suffers severe memory loss, sometimes unable to recognize his daughter.

Sides implies that while all this is regrettable, it’s all justifiable because Korean War veterans “stopped a naked act of Communist aggression and opposed three malevolent dictators — Stalin, Mao and Kim – while helping South Korea take wing as a democracy.”

What is fascinating about Sides’s article is that it is completely bereft of any moral outrage whatsoever against the U.S. government and, specifically, the U.S. national-security establishment. Sides seems to forget something important: The reason that Chapman was there in Korea waging war was because the president of the United States and the Pentagon ordered him to be there.

I was curious about Chapman and so I looked him up. It turns out that he has written a biography that is posted online, where he tells the reason he joined the military. No, it wasn’t to stop communist aggression in Korea or to oppose three malevolent communist dictators. Chapman explains that he joined the military for one reason alone: He needed a job.

My hunch is that like many people who join the military, he believed that his job would be to defend the United States from invasion or attack. My hunch is that the last thing he ever expected was to be sent to wage a land war in Asia. But that is precisely what the U.S. government did to him. It ordered him to report to Korea to kill or be killed.

That doesn’t seem to concern Hampton Sides, any more than it concerns any interventionist. Equally important, it obviously doesn’t concern Sides that the order to send Chapman to fight in the Korean War was illegal under our form of government. The U.S. Constitution, which governs the actions of federal officials, including those in the Pentagon, prohibits the president from waging war against a foreign nation without first securing a declaration of war from Congress. It is undisputed that President Truman, who ordered U.S. soldiers into Korea, did not secure a congressional declaration of war. That means that he had no legal authority to order Chapman or any other U.S. soldier to kill or die in Korea.

In claiming that Chapman was fighting to oppose communist aggression, Sides ignores the fact that the Korean War was actually a civil war, not a war between two independent and sovereign nations. The country had been artificially divided into two halves by Soviet communist leader Joseph Stalin, who, ironically, was a partner and ally of the U.S. government during World War II. (The irony lies in the fact that Sides extols Chapman for opposing the man who had been a partner and ally of the U.S. government just a few years before.) In any event, every Korean understood that the dividing line between North and South Korea was just an artificial construct based on international politics. Even today, if you ask a person of Korean descent here in the United States where they are from, they always, without exception, say “Korea” rather than “South Korea.”

We can concede that the northern half of the country was ruled by a brutal communist regime, one that attempted to unify the country by force. But why does a nation’s civil war justify U.S. intervention? Why should U.S. soldiers be sacrificed to help out one side or another in a civil war? That’s not what most U.S. soldiers were signing up to do after World War II. They were signing up to defend the United States, not help out one side or another in another nation’s civil war. (By the way, the same principle applies to the Vietnam War, another favorite foreign war of the interventionists.)

Another aspect of the Korean War that Sides fails to mention is conscription. The U.S. military didn’t have enough men to intervene against the North Korean regime, and not enough American men were volunteering for “service.” So, Truman and the military resorted to conscription. That means that they were forcing American men, against their will, to go to Korea and kill or be killed. An interventionist would say that it was necessary to destroy the freedom of Americans to protect the “freedom” and “democracy” of South Koreans.

Sides’ expression “helping South Korea take wing as a democracy” is an interesting one. It’s interesting because South Korea’s first elected president, Syngman Rhee, was one of the most brutal dictators in the world. Immediately after taking office, he curtailed political dissent and authorized his goons to engage in indefinite detention, torture, assassination, death squads, and massacres.

On the suspension of hostilities in 1953, it was clear that the National Assembly, which elected the president, was going to boot Rhee out of office. In order to avoid that, he ordered a mass arrest of opposition politicians and then unilaterally changed the Constitution to enable him to be elected directly by the citizenry. He remained in power until 1960, when he was forced to resign after his police shot demonstrators who were protesting his regime.

This is what Sides and other interventionists call “democracy taking wing.” It brings to mind the U.S.-inspired coup in Chile in 1973, which ousted the democratically elected socialist president of the country, Salvador Allende, and installed a brutal right-wing military dictator in his stead, army Gen. Augusto Pinochet. To this day, interventionists say that the Chilean coup demonstrated that “democracy was taking wing” in Chile with the coup that nullified the presidential election, followed by a 16-year-long brutal military dictatorship entailing round-ups of some 50,000 people, torturing most of them, raping and committing gruesome sexual acts against women, and killing and disappearing around 3,000 people.

Sides and other interventionists are dead wrong about the Korean War and other foreign interventions. No U.S. soldier deserves to be ordered to faraway lands to kill or be killed or maimed, as Franklin Chapman was. If Sides or other interventionists want to go overseas and help out one side or another in some faraway civil war, they are free to do so. Just leave U.S. soldiers out of it. The job of a U.S. soldier is to defend the United States from invasion or attack, not be sent to participate in some bogus fight for “freedom” or “democracy” in a foreign country.

November 13, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Italy Slows Down Purchases of US F-35 Jets to Cut Spending – Reports

Sputnik – 12.11.2018

The previous government ordered some 90 of the fifth-generation jets for its military, but the Five Star and Lega parties, which won the last election, have been trying to either scrap the deal or reduce spending on it.

The Italian government is planning to reduce the number of F-35 jets it will buy over the next five years from 10 to six or seven aircraft, Defence News reported citing an anonymous source. According to the media outlet, Rome will not reduce the total amount of ordered jets, but instead will leave the final decision on their fate to the next government.

The move will allow Italy to avoid or reduce contract penalties and free up some resources for the government’s commitments, Defence Minister Elisabetta Trenta told the media earlier.

“What I would like to do is lighten the load, since we have other spending commitments in Europe. We will try to stretch out deliveries instead of cutting the order, which would reduce offsets and mean penalties,” she said.

The outlet’s source added that the money saved by postponing the delivery of three or four of the F-35 jets will help Rome fund its social programs and tax cuts.

Earlier, a member of the now-ruling Five Star party in the Italian parliament, Tatiana Basilio, vowed in 2017 that the country will scrap the contract for the delivery of F-35 warplanes. Italy intends to buy a total of 90 of the fifth-generation jets. Eight jets have already been delivered to Amendola air base, and three others are being used to train pilots in the US.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Economics, Militarism | , | 2 Comments

Ten lies told about World War I

By Dominic Alexander | CounterFire | November 9, 2014

This Remembrance Day will doubtless see strenuous efforts by some to justify the fruitless bloodbath that was the First World War. Revisionist commentators have long attempted to rehabilitate the conflict as necessary and just, but the arguments do not stand up. It does no service to the memory of the dead to allow any illusions in the justice or necessity of war, particularly so when the precedents will be used to argue for the next ‘necessary’ conflict. From the causes of the war, to its prosecution and its results, here are the counter-arguments to ten common pro-war ploys.

1 The war was fought in defence of democracy.

This is contradicted by the basic facts. Germany had universal manhood suffrage while in Britain, including Ireland, some 40% of men still did not qualify for the vote. In Germany also, there were attempts to justify the war on the grounds that it was being fought to defend civilised values against a repressive, militaristic state, in the form of Russian autocracy.

2 Britain went to war due to a treaty obligation to defend the neutrality of Belgium.

There was no clear and accepted obligation on Britain to do this, and, in fact, before the Belgian issue appeared, the war party in the cabinet was already pushing for British intervention on the entirely different ground that there were naval obligations to France. These obligations had been developed in secret arrangements between the military of both countries, and were never subject to any kind of democratic accountability. The Germans even offered guarantees over Belgian integrity, which the British government refused to consider at all.

3 German aggression was the driving force for war.

However aggressive the German leadership may have been in 1914, the British establishment was at least as determined to take the opportunity to go to war with its imperial rival. At one point the Foreign Office even seized on imaginary German incursions into France to justify a British declaration of war on Germany. The declaration letter had to be retrieved from the German ambassador and rewritten when it was discovered that the stories were false. The enthusiasm of the British ruling class for war undermines any justification for it based on German aggression.

4 Germany had started a naval arms race with Britain.

Imperialist competition between the two states over markets and resources preceded the arms race in the fifteen years before the war. Britain’s naval power was the vital element in its ability to restrict German access to markets and resources across the world. Unless Britain was willing to allow Germany to expand economically, the logic of capitalist competition meant that Germany was bound to challenge British naval supremacy. The latent violence of the leading imperial nation is always the context for aggressive challenges to the status quo on the part of rising powers.

5 German imperialism was uniquely vicious and had to be challenged.

The atrocities committed against the Herrero people in Namibia were indeed terrible crimes, but were hardly unique compared to the horrors committed by all those involved in the rubber industry in the Belgian Congo, to take but one example. Also, European opinion had only a few years before 1914 been horrified by the brutality of another colonial power when it was engaged in ruthlessly expanding its dominance over independent states in Africa. This was Britain in its wars of aggression against the Boer states in South Africa, during which concentration camps were first used in order to control a civilian population.

6 Public opinion was united in favour of the war, as shown by images of cheering crowds in 1914.

It is now usually admitted that the degree of enthusiasm for the war was strictly limited, and the evidence is that the crowds who gathered at the outbreak of war were by no means united in martial enthusiasm. In fact sizeable and widespread anti-war demonstrations occurred in both Britain and Germany. Had the leaderships of Labour and Socialist parties across Europe not caved into demands to support their national ruling classes in going to war, it is quite possible that the conflict could have been stopped in its tracks.

7 The morale of British troops fighting on the Western Front remained intact to the end of the war.

While Britain may not have suffered quite the same scale of mutinies as in the German and French armies, at times there were whole stretches of the front where troops became so unreliable that generals did not dare order them into combat. The evidence for widespread cynicism about war strategies, contempt for the military leadership, and grave doubts about the purpose of the war, cannot be wished away by the revisionists. In so far as soldiers carried on willingly fighting the war, the explanation needs to be sought in the habituation to obedience, as well as the threat of court-martial executions. There is no need to invoke either fervid nationalism or any kind of deep psychological blood-lust as explanations.

8 The military leadership, notably General Haig, was not a bunch of incompetent ‘donkeys’.

Attempts to rehabilitate the likes of General Haig founder on some of the basic facts about the tactics he relentlessly employed. Repeated infantry attacks on opposing trenches consistently failed to gain any clear advantage, while causing colossal casualties. On the first day of the battle of the Somme, 1st July 1916, 57,000 troops out of 120,000 were killed or wounded. Despite continuing carnage on an incredible scale, Haig carried on ordering further attacks. When any hope of a breakthrough against the German lines was clearly lost, the purpose of the battle was shifted to attrition pure and simple. The plan now was to kill more German troops than the British lost. Since there was no way of reliably measuring the casualties on the other side, Haig relied on estimating it through the losses of his own side. On this basis he began to be angered when the army suffered too few losses, as when he complained that one division in September had lost under a thousand men. There can be no defence for this kind of disregard of human life.

9 The end of the war saw the triumph of liberal capitalism, against collapsing autocratic Empires.

In fact all states involved in the war were deeply destabilised. Even the United States, whose involvement was the most limited, experienced the ‘Red Summer’ of 1919, with unprecedented labour revolts, such as the Seattle general strike, alongside savage repression of socialists and black Americans. Britain saw the beginning of the Irish war of independence, and increasing unrest in India, which marks, in effect, the point at which the Empire began to unravel. Domestically, there was also a wave of radical working-class unrest, particularly in the ‘Red Clydeside’, which culminated in troops being sent into Glasgow to impose martial law.

10 The war achieved anything worthwhile whatsoever.

The war opened up a period of endemic economic dislocation, and outright crisis. In Britain there was a decade of industrial decline and high unemployment even before the Great Depression. In effect, it was only the Second World War which brought the major capitalist powers out of the slump. The First World War saw the point at which capitalism became addicted to war and to a permanent arms economy. The war demonstrated the capacity of capitalism to create industrialised waste, carnage and destruction on a colossal scale. The remembrance of the war is appropriately a time for mourning the horror, the loss and the waste of it all, but it should also provoke a determination to resist our rulers’ insistence on promoting war to further their interests. War can achieve nothing other than to create the conditions for further wars.

Popular opinion has, ever since its ending, remembered the First World War as a time of horrendous and futile misery and slaughter, as epitomising political and military leaders’ incompetence and callous disregard for human life. That popular judgement, which has helped turn common opinion against war in general, was correct, and we must not let the war mongers dismiss this instance of the wisdom of ordinary people.

Notes

The arguments in this article are developed at greater length in the author’s review of Douglas Newton’s book The Darkest Days: The Truth Behind Britain’s Rush to War, 1914 (Verso 2014).

The specifics for General Haig’s murderous rage can be found in Adam Hochschild, To End All Wars (Pan 2013), p.209 – reviewed on this site by Lindsey German.

November 12, 2018 Posted by | Book Review, Deception, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , | Leave a comment