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Neutral and unbiased? Why ‘think tanks’ lobby for war in Syria

By Danielle Ryan | RT | April 17, 2018

When US President Donald Trump fired a barrage of Tomahawk missiles at Syrian government targets last week, it was a good day for defense contractors, at least.

In the aftermath of the strike, which Trump claimed was in retaliation for an alleged chemical attack by the Syrian government, stocks in Tomahawk missile manufacturer Raytheon surged. Raytheon stock has climbed more than 18 percent in 2018 so far. In fact, stocks in defense companies have been climbing in general since Trump entered office promising “historic” increases in military spending.

Almost a year ago to the day, Trump delivered another bump to the defense companies after attacking Syrian government positions for the first time – also in response to an alleged chemical attack, evidence for which remains in question.

After that strike Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and General Dynamics also rose, gaining nearly $5 billion in market value when trading began the next day, even as the wider market slumped.

Later, when Trump appointed the famously militaristic John Bolton as his national security adviser in March, guess what happened? Shares in US energy and defense companies surged yet again. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to figure this one out: war is profitable. The more missiles Trump fires, the more money these companies make.

But where do the think tanks come in?

There is a pervasive myth that Washington DC ‘think tanks’ are neutral and unbiased players in foreign policy analysis. But where do these centers for foreign policy ‘analysis’ get their money from? You guessed it: defense companies.

There are a few think tanks which dominate in American foreign policy debates. They include the Center For European Policy Analysis (CEPA), the Atlantic Council, the German Marshall Fund (GMF), the Brookings Institution and the Heritage Foundation. All five of them receive generous donations from Lockheed Martin and Raytheon. Three of them also receive funding from the Boeing Company.

Corporations like Exxon Mobil, Northrop Grumman, BAE Systems, and Bell Helicopter are also big donors to think tanks. Bell Helicopter is a funder of CEPA, while Exxon funds Brookings, GMF and the Atlantic Council. BAE Systems donates to CEPA, while Northrop Grumman gives to the Atlantic Council. This is not to even mention the money they get directly from US government departments and NATO, which also helps explain their consistently anti-Russian analysis.

Nonetheless, these think tanks enjoy an undue air of independence. Experts who work for these defense contractor-funded institutes are quoted frequently in mainstream newspapers and invited on mainstream channels, where they are presented as independent voices. But those independent voices somehow always seem to be in favor of policies that benefit weapons manufacturers.

War profiteers are filling their coffers in return for ‘analysis’ which promotes military action and massively inflates the threat posed to America by countries like Russia, for example.

A glance at the Twitter feed of CEPA reveals almost obsession-like focus on the so-called threat from Russia. In 2016, the Lockheed and BAE Systems-funded think tank suggested in a report on information warfare that people who have “fallen victim to Kremlin propaganda” should be “deradicalized” in special programs.

The NATO-funded Atlantic Council has consistently lobbied for regime change in Syria. In the days surrounding Trump’s military actions against Syria last week, the Atlantic Council published multiple  pieces of analysis and interviews with a single theme: that Trump did not or would not go far enough with one night of strikes. Earlier, when the alleged chemical attack took place, the think tank argued that Syrian President Bashar Assad was “indulging an addiction” and called on the US to take new military action against him. For some reason, diplomacy does not seem to be high on the Atlantic Council’s agenda.

It seems the more money defense contractors throw at think tanks, the more those think tanks will argue in favor of the military policies that will make those companies the most money. It’s a vicious cycle, but one which doesn’t take much think tank-style ‘analysis’ to  figure out.

The sad thing for the think tank lobbyists, is that the money they make calling for war is nothing in comparison to the money Lockheed, Raytheon, Boeing and the rest make from it. Maybe they should ask for a raise.

April 17, 2018 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Full Spectrum Dominance, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia | , , , , , | 1 Comment

Your guide to top anti-Russia think tanks in US & who funds them

By Bryan MacDonald | RT | February 6, 2018

Countering Russia has become a lucrative industry in Washington. In recent years, the think tank business has exploded. But who funds these organizations, who works for them and what are the real agendas at play?

From the start, let’s be clear, the term ‘think tank’ essentially amounts to a more polite way of saying ‘lobby group.’ Bar a few exceptions, they exist to serve – and promote – the agendas of their funders.

However, particularly in the United States, the field has become increasingly shady and disingenuous, with lobbyists being given faux academic titles like ‘Senior Non-Resident Fellow’ and ‘Junior Adjunct Fellow’ and the like. And this smokescreen usually serves to cloud the real goals of these operations.

Think tanks actually originate from the Europe of the Dark Ages. That’s 9th-century France, to be precise. But the modern American movement is modeled on British organizations from around a millennium later, many of which, such as ‘RUSI (1831)’, still exist today. The concept was possibly brought to America by the Scottish-born Andrew Carnegie. And his ‘Carnegie Endowment for International Peace’ (1910) is still going strong.

Yet, the real boom in the ‘think tank’ industry came with the era of globalization. With a 200-percent rise in numbers since 1970. And in recent years, they’ve become more transnational, with foreign states and individuals sponsoring them in order to gain curry favor in Washington.

One country that largely hasn’t bothered playing this game is Russia. Instead, mostly in the foreign policy and defense sectors, Moscow frequently serves as Enemy Number One for many advocacy groups. Here are some prominent outfits in the think tank racket, which focus on hyping up threats from Russia.

  • The Atlantic Council

Founded: 1961

What is it? Essentially the academic wing of NATO. The Atlantic Council serves to link people useful to the organization’s agenda across Europe and North America. However, in recent years, its recruitment has increasingly focused on employees who directly attack Russia, especially on social media. Presumably, this is to give them a guaranteed income so they can continue their activities, without needing to worry about paying the bills.

What does it do? Promotes the idea of Russia being an existential threat to Europe and the US, in order to justify NATO’s reason for being.

Who are its people? The Atlantic Council’s list of lobbyists (sorry, ‘Fellows’!) reads like a telephone directory of the Russia bashing world. For instance, Dmitri Alperovitch (of Crowdstrike, which conveniently alleges how Russia hacked the Democratic National Congress) is joined by the perennially- wrong Anders Aslund, who has predicted Russia’s impending collapse on a number of occasions and has, obviously, been off the mark. Then there’s Joe Biden’s “Russia hand,” Michael Carpenter and their recent co-authored Foreign Affairs piece suggests he actually knows very little about the country). Meanwhile, Evelyn Farkas, a fanatical Russophobe who served in Barack Obama’s administration has also found a home here. Another interesting Atlantic Council lobbyist is Eliot Higgins, a “geolocation expert” who has made a career out of spinning tales from the Ukraine and Syrian wars but is, naturally, mostly disinterested in covering Iraq and Yemen, where the US and its allies are involved, but Russia has no particular stake. Lastly, we can’t forget CNN’s Michael Weiss, the self-declared “Russia analyst” who, by all accounts, has never been to Russia and can’t speak Russian.

Who pays for it? The Atlantic Council has quite an eclectic bunch of patrons to serve. NATO itself is a big backer, along with military contractors Saab, Lockheed Martin and the Raytheon Company, all of which naturally benefit from increased tensions with Moscow. The UK Foreign Office also splashes the cash and is joined by the Ukrainian World Congress and the US Department of State. Other sugar daddies include the US military (via separate contributions from the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marine Corps), Northrop Grumman and Boeing.

  • The Center for European Policy Analysis (CEPA)

Founded: 2005

What is it? Despite the name, CEPA is based in Washington, not the ‘old continent’, but it does have an outpost in Warsaw. This club specifically focusses on Central and Eastern Europe and promoting the US Army and foreign policy establishment’s agenda there. Or, in its own words, creating a “Central and Eastern Europe with close and enduring ties to the United States.”

 

What does it do? CEPA amounts to a home for media figures who devote their careers to opposing Russia. It whips up tensions, even when they don’t really exist, presumably in order to drum up business for its sponsors, who are heavily drawn from the military industry. For example, it spent last year hyping up the ‘threat’ from Russia’s and Belarus’ joint ‘Zapad’ exercises, even running a sinister-looking countdown clock before the long-planned training commenced.

CEPA grossly overestimated the size of the event, saying it “could be the largest military exercise since the end of the Cold War” and dismissing basically all Moscow’s statements on its actual nature as “disinformation.”

Who are its people? Times of London columnist Edward Lucas has been part of CEPA for years.

The dedicated ‘Cold Warrior’ doesn’t appear to have spent much time in Russia for a long while and still seems to view the country through a prism which is very much rooted in the past. Thus, he’s more-or-less an out-of-touch dinosaur when it comes to Russia expertise. He will soon be joined by Brian Whitmore, who comes on board from RFE/RL and appears to be even more ill-informed than Lucas. His broadcasts for the US state broadcaster led to him being described as the “Lord Haw Haw of Prague,” where has been based for some years. CEPA is a pretty fluid organization and, until recently, Anne Applebaum and Peter Pomerantsev were also on its list of lobbyists. The former is a Polish-American Washington Post columnist who obsessively denigrates Russia and the latter has previously worked with the Atlantic Council’s Michael Weiss, which shows you how small and incestuous the Russia-bashing world is.

Who pays for it? While other think tanks at least try to make their funding look semi-organic, CEPA looks to have zero hang-ups about its role as a mouthpiece for defence contractors. Which is, at least, honest. FireEye, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, Bell Helicopters and BAE systems pump funds in and they are joined by the US State Department and the Department of Defence. Another notable paymaster is the National Endowment for Democracy – ‘regime change’ experts who are surely interested in CEPA’s remit to also cover Belarus. The US Mission to NATO and NATO’s own Public Diplomacy Division also provide cash.

  • German Marshall Fund of the United States

Founded: 1972

What is it? Don’t be fooled by the name, the German Marshall Fund (GMF) is a very American body these days with little input from Berlin. It was founded by a donation from Willy Brandt’s Bonn-government to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Marshall Plan. Ironically, Brandt is today best remembered as the father of ‘Ostpolitik’, which sought a rapprochement between Germany and Russia.

What does it do? After the fall of the Soviet Union, the GMF transformed into a vehicle promoting US influence in Eastern Europe, with outreaches in Warsaw, Belgrade and Bucharest. However, in the past 12 months, it’s taken a very strange turn. Following the election of US President Donald Trump (ironically a German-American), the lobby group launched the Alliance for Securing Democracy (ASD) project. Its centerpiece is the ‘Hamilton 68 Dashboard’, which seems to classify social media users which reject the US liberal elite’s consensus as “Russian trolls.” The reaction has been highly critical, with even the secretly-funded Russian opposition website Meduza asking “how do you identify ‘pro-Russian amplifiers’ if… themes dovetail with alternative American political views?”

Who are its people? The GMF, especially through its new ASD plaything, has a high-profile bunch of lobbyists. They include Toomas Ilves, an American-raised son of Estonian emigrants who once headed the Estonian desk at erstwhile CIA cut-out Radio Free Europe and eventually became president of Estonia. Also on board is Bill Kristol, known as the ‘architect of the Iraq War’ and former CIA Director Michael Morrell. Former US Ambassador to Russia Michael McFaul, who recently announced he was partially abandoning his Russian scholarship and has “lost interest in maintaining my (sic) ability to speak/write Russian” is another team member.

After serving on Obama’s team, McFaul has re-invented himself as a network TV personality since 2016 with 280,000 Twitter followers, 106,000 of which are fake, according to Twitter audit.

Who pays for it? USAID are big backers, throwing in a seven-figure annual sum. This, of course, raises some questions about US taxpayers essentially funding the Hamilton 68 dashboard, which may be smearing Americans who don’t agree with their government’s policies as Russian agents. The State Department also ponies up capital, as does NATO and Latvia’s Defense Ministry. Other interesting paymasters are George Soros, Airbus and Google. While Boeing and the ubiquitous Raytheon are also involved.

  • Institute for the Study of War

Founded: 2007

What is it? This lobby group could as easily be titled ‘The Institute for the Promotion of War’. Unlike the others, it doesn’t consider Russia its primary target, instead preferring to push for more conflict in the Middle East. However, Moscow’s increased influence in that region has brought the Kremlin into its crosshairs.

What does it do? The IFTSOW agitates for more and more American aggression. It supported the Iraq ‘surge’ and has encouraged more involvement in Afghanistan. IFTSOW also focuses on Syria, Libya and Iran. Just last week, one of its lobbyists, Jennifer Cafarella,  called for the US military to take Damascus, which would bring Washington into direct conflict with Russia and Iran.

Who are its people? Kimberly Kagan is the brains behind this operation. She’s married to Frederick Kagan, who was involved in the neocon ‘Project for the New American Century’ group along with his brother, Robert Kagan. Which makes Kimberly the sister-in-law of Victoria “f**k the EU” Nuland.

Another lobbyist is Ukrainian Natalia Bugayova, who was involved in Kiev’s 2014 EuroMaidan coup. She previously worked for the Kiev Post, a resolutely anti-Russian newspaper which promotes US interests in Ukraine. However, IFTSOW’s most notorious lobbyist was Elizabeth O’Bagy, who emerged as a ‘Syria expert’ in 2013 and called for American political leaders to send heavy weaponry to Syrian insurgent groups. She claimed to have a PhD from Georgetown University in Washington, DC, but this was fictional and once the media twigged to it, she was dismissed by the IFTSOW. Two weeks later, she was rewarded for her deception by falling up to a job with fanatical Russophobe Senator John McCain. O’Bagy has also collaborated with the Atlantic Council’s Michael Weiss, which is further evidence of how tight-knit the world of US neoconservative advocacy really is.

Who pays for it? Predictably, Raytheon has opened its wallet. Meanwhile, other US military contractors like General Dynamics and DynCorp are also involved. L3, which provides services to the US Department of Defense, Department of Homeland Security, and government intelligence agencies is another backer along with Vencore, CACI and Mantech.

February 6, 2018 Posted by | Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism, Russophobia, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Clinton gets more donations from arms industry: Report

Press TV – August 24, 2016

American weapon manufacturers have made bigger contributions to the campaign of Democratic presidential nominee Hillary Clinton, a major turnaround after years of backing the Republican ticket.

According to a report by Politico released on Wednesday, Clinton has received more donations from high-ranking employees of giant Pentagon contractors like Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics, outperforming her GOP rival Donald Trump by a 5-to-1 ratio.

According to filings with the Federal Election Committee, Trump’s campaign has banked nearly $55,000 in contributions from executives of the 25 major defense contractors, compared to $273,000 given to Clinton.

This marks a significant break from the years-old habit of supporting the Republican candidate. In fact, the arms industry has teamed with Republican congressional and presidential candidates in eight of the past 10 election cycles.

In the 2012 election cycle, for example, then-Republican nominee Mitt Romney received far more support from military contractors, compared to President Barack Obama.

Analysts attribute the change to Trump’s stance on national security, including his criticism of NATO and other military allies.

The real estate mogul said in late July that if he is elected president, the US would only aid the allies who have “fulfilled their obligations to us.”

The New York businessman has also blasted military contractors for the way they influence government spending.

Clinton, however, made a reputation for having good relations with military contractors during her run in the US Senate, where she served on the Armed Services Committee.

“I’ve worked with Republicans and Democrats of all stripes over the years, and it’s the first time I’ve seen one who scares the hell out of me if he were to become president,” said Linda Hudson, who once headed the US branch of British arms provider BAE Systems, which is the Pentagon’s eighth largest contractor.

One Republican defense lobbyist told Politico that the arms manufacturing “community is just much more comfortable with Clinton.”

“With Hillary Clinton we have some sense of where she would go, and with Trump we have none,” the lobbyist said. “He knows nothing about the system.”

August 24, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment

US approves $1.15 billion sale of arms to Saudi Arabia

Press TV – August 9, 2016

The United States has approved the sale of more than 130 Abrams tanks, 20 armored recovery vehicles and other equipment worth about $1.15 billion to Saudi Arabia.

The Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is part of the Pentagon and facilitates foreign arms sales, informed lawmakers on Tuesday that the State Department has approved the deal.

The potential sale to Saudi Arabia still faces approval by Congress, which could block it.

The agency said the sale would contribute to US national security by improving the security of a regional ally.

It added that General Dynamics, an American aerospace and defense corporation, would be the principal contractor.

“This sale will increase the Royal Saudi Land Force’s (RSLF) interoperability with US forces and conveys US commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security and armed forces modernization,” the agency said on its website.

The US government is expected to authorize more than $40 billion worth of foreign military sales this year, the Pentagon has confirmed.

The potential sale by Washington comes as Saudi Arabia and its Persian Gulf Arab allies launched a military aggression against Yemen in March 2015 in a bid to bring the country’s former president Abd Rabbuh Mansur Hadi, a staunch ally of Riyadh, back to power and undermine the Ansarullah movement.

Yemenis say most of the victims in the Saudi airstrikes are civilians.

A UN report leaked to the Guardian in January found “widespread and systematic” targeting of civilians in the Saudi-led strikes.

The report found 119 strikes which violated international humanitarian law, including attacks on health facilities, schools, wedding parties and camps for internally displaced people and refugees.

August 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , | Leave a comment

Big money in politics doesn’t just drive inequality — it also fuels war

By Rebecca Green | OtherWords | April 20, 2016

The 2016 presidential elections are proving historic, and not just because of the surprising success of self-proclaimed socialist Bernie Sanders, the lively debate among feminists over whether to support Hillary Clinton, or Donald Trump’s unorthodox candidacy.

The elections are also groundbreaking because they’re revealing more dramatically than ever the corrosive effect of big money on our decaying democracy.

Following the 2010 Citizens United Supreme Court decision and related rulings, corporations and the wealthiest Americans gained the legal right to raise and spend as much money as they want on political candidates.

The 2012 elections were consequently the most expensive in U.S. history. And this year’s races are predicted to cost even more. With the general election still six months away, donors have already sunk $1 billion into the presidential race — with $619 million raised by candidates and another $412 million by super PACs.

Big money in politics drives grave inequality in our country. It also drives war.

After all, war is a profitable industry. While millions of people all over the world are being killed and traumatized by violence, a small few make a killing from the never-ending war machine.

During the Iraq War, for example, weapons manufacturers and a cadre of other corporations made billions on federal contracts.

Most notoriously this included Halliburton, a military contractor previously led by Dick Cheney. The company made huge profits from George W. Bush’s decision to wage a costly, unjustified, and illegal war while Cheney served as his vice president.

Military-industrial corporations spend heavily on political campaigns. They’ve given over $1 million to this year’s presidential candidates so far — over $200,000 of which went to Hillary Clinton, who leads the pack in industry backing.

These corporations target House and Senate members who sit on the Armed Forces and Appropriations Committees, who control the purse strings for key defense line items. And cleverly, they’ve planted factories in most congressional districts. Even if they provide just a few dozen constituent jobs per district, that helps curry favor with each member of Congress.

Thanks to aggressive lobbying efforts, weapons manufacturers have secured the five largest contracts made by the federal government over the last seven years. In 2014, the U.S. government awarded over $90 billion worth of contracts to Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, and Northrop Grumman.

Military spending has been one of the top three biggest federal programs every year since 2000, and it’s far and away the largest discretionary portion. Year after year, elected officials spend several times more on the military than on education, energy, and the environment combined.

Lockheed Martin’s problematic F-35 jet illustrates this disturbingly disproportionate use of funds. The same $1.5 trillion Washington will spend on the jet, journalist Tom Cahill calculates, could have provided tuition-free public higher education for every student in the U.S. for the next 23 years. Instead, the Pentagon ordered a fighter plane that can’t even fire its own gun yet.

Given all of this, how can anyone justify war spending?

Some folks will say it’s to make us safer. Yet the aggressive U.S. military response following the 9/11 attacks — the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, the NATO bombing of Libya, and drone strikes in Pakistan and Yemen — has only destabilized the region. “Regime change” foreign policies have collapsed governments and opened the doors to Islamist terrorist groups like ISIS.

Others may say they support a robust Pentagon budget because of the jobs the military creates. But dollar for dollar, education spending creates nearly three times more jobs than military spending.

We need to stop letting politicians and corporations treat violence and death as “business opportunities.” Until politics become about people instead of profits, we’ll remain crushed in the death grip of the war machine.

And that is the real national security threat facing the United States today.

April 28, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Uncontrollable—Pentagon and Corporate Contractors Too Big to Audit

By Ralph Nader | March 17, 2016

The Reuters report put this colossal dereliction simply: “A law in effect since 1992 requires annual audits of all federal agencies—and the Pentagon alone has never complied.”

All $585 billion and more, e.g., for the Afghanistan and Iraq conflicts, of your money—not just unaudited, but, in the sober judgement of the Government Accountability Office (GAO) of the Congress, this vast military budget is year after year UNAUDITABLE. That means that the Congressional auditors cannot obtain the basic accounting data to do their job on your behalf.

Auditing the Department of Defense receives left/right support, from Senator Bernie Sanders (Dem. VT) to Senator Ted Cruz (Rep. TX).

H.R. 942, the “Audit the Pentagon Act of 2014,” is supported by both Democrats and Republicans in the House of Representatives. In the statement announcing this legislation, the sponsors declared “The Treasury Department’s Financial Report of the US Government for fiscal year 2012 shows the DOD yet again has nothing to audit—its books are a mess. In the last dozen years, the Pentagon has broken every promise to Congress about when DOD would pass an audit. Meanwhile, Congress doubled Pentagon spending.”

Republican right-winger, Mike Conaway (Rep. TX) used to be a CPA in private life. At a Congressional hearing in 2011, he told Defense Secretary Robert Gates: “I go home to folks in West Texas, and when they find out the Department of Defense can’t be audited, they are stunned.” His constituents may be more stunned to learn that their Congressman also voted for all expanding defense budgets, which is why H.R. 942 is going nowhere unless the people rally to make auditing the Pentagon a presidential election issue.

Secretary Gates and his successor Secretary Panetta agree with Rep. Conway’s observations. Yet it has seemed that the military—this huge expanse of bureaucracy, which owns 25 million acres (over seven times the size of Connecticut) and owns over 500,000 buildings in the U.S. and around the world—is beyond anybody’s control, including that of the Secretaries of Defense, their own internal auditors, the President, tons of GAO audits publically available, and the Congress. How can this be?

Enormous scandal after enormous scandal is reported by newspapers such as Reuters, the New York Times, the Washington Post and the Wall Street Journal and by news services such as Associated Press and ProPublica. Citizen groups from the left and Right excoriate this runaway budget, including the national Taxpayers Union, POGO, and Taxpayers for Common Sense. TO NO AVAIL!

Have you heard of the $43 million natural gas station in Afghanistan that was supposed to cost $500,000? Do you know about the $150 million villas that were built for corporate contractors in Afghanistan so they could spend another $600 million advising Afghans about starting private businesses in that war-torn country?

Or how about purchase of billions of dollars of spare parts because the Army or Air Force didn’t know the whereabouts of existing spare parts in forgotten warehouses here and there? What about the $9 billion the Pentagon admitted could not be accounted for in Iraq during the first several months of the invasion?

The list goes on, together with massive cost over-runs by the private contractors that are rewarded with more contracts. Soldiers get dirty drinking water, bad food, inadequate equipment, and security breaches by these contractors. No matter.
President Eisenhower’s farewell warning about the “military-industrial complex” becomes ever more of an understatement as it devours over half of the entire federal government’s operating budget.

Mike McCord, the Pentagon’s chief financial officer, has some startling explanations for why the Department is not ready for an audit. It’s not the Department’s “primary mission,” he says, which is “to defend the nation, fight and win wars.” He continues: “We’re too big to just sort of blow up all our systems and go buy one new, gargantuan IT system that runs the entire Department.”

Where are the accounting standards groups when we need them to speak up?

Mr. McCord certainly knows how to enhance his job security. Why no Pentagon audit? Too big to audit? No. Just too many scandals, too much waste, gigantic weapon system redundancies, overlaps between military branches, and many sinecures in bloated, inflexible bureaucracies, so often condemned by commanding generals in the field.

McCord himself has pointed to the areas in which he prefers to cut costs in order to save money: Congressionally-opposed base closures, retiree costs, and consolidating “its Tricare health system.”

In the final analysis, the principal culprits, because they have so much to lose in profits and bonuses, are the giant defense companies like Lockheed Martin, Boeing, General Dynamics, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and others that lobby Congress, Congressional District by Congressional District, for more, more, more military contracts, grants and subsidies. They routinely hire ex-Pentagon specialists and top brass who know how to negotiate the ways and means inside of the government.

President Eisenhower sure knew what he was talking about. Remember, he warned not just about taxpayer waste, but a Moloch eating away at our liberties and our critical domestic necessities.

March 18, 2016 Posted by | Corruption, Deception, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon OKs $683 Million Smart Bomb Deal for Turkey

Sputnik – 01.03.2016

As the Turkish government escalates tensions across the Middle East, the Pentagon has authorized a multimillion dollar deal to sell smart bombs to Ankara.

Last December, the Turkish government deployed a battalion of 25 tanks and roughly 1560 troops into northern Iraq. Acting without Baghdad’s permission, the move was roundly condemned as a breach of sovereignty. Ankara has also been engaged its own internal war against Kurdish communities in the country’s southeast, with the death toll reaching some 5,000 people.

Now, with all parties honoring the Syrian ceasefire, Turkey is threatening to plunge its neighbor back into the five-year civil war.

“[The Turkish government] view themselves as victims and losing parties in the Syrian war,” Germany’s Telepolis magazine noted. “For this reason they will resort to provocations until the ceasefire is shattered.”

Despite Turkey’s destabilizing influence in the region, Washington has chosen to award a $682.9 million contract which will provide Ankara with an undisclosed number of smart bombs.

“The deal came timely as we are deeply engaged in asymmetrical warfare and need smart bombs,” one Turkish military official said, according to Defense News.

The contract was granted to Ellwood National Forge and General Dynamics Ordnance and Tactical Systems, and includes the sale of of an unnamed number of BLU-109 bunker busters. These bombs contain roughly 550 pounds of a high explosive compound known as tritonal, and thanks to tail fuse delays, the bomb’s detonation is stalled until it reaches its intended underground target.

This is the first such sale to Turkey by US defense contractors, and Ankara expects the transaction to be completed by 2020.

Despite its continuing aggression, Turkey is a key NATO ally, so Washington’s complicity in Ankara’s actions do not come as a surprise.

The US has also played an active role in Saudi Arabia’s Yemen campaign, providing the bombs used during Riyadh’s air campaigns.

“Saudi Arabia has engaged in war crimes, and the United States is aiding and abetting them by providing the Saudis with military assistance,” Marjorie Cohn writes for teleSUR.

“In November 2015, the US sold $1.29 billion worth of arms to Saudi Arabia. It included more than 10,000 bombs, munitions, and weapons parts manufactured by Raytheon and Boeing, as well as bunker busters, and laser-guided and ‘general purpose’ bombs.”

March 1, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, War Crimes | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon seeks $13 billion for new nuclear-armed submarines

Press TV – February 2, 2016

The US Defense Department would seek over $13 billion over the next five years to fund the development and production of new submarines to carry nuclear ballistic missiles.

The US Navy would spend over $4 billion on research and development of the new submarines, plus over $9 billion in procurement funding, according to Reuters, citing sources familiar with the plans.

The five-year budget plan also shifts the Navy’s strategy for a new carrier-based unmanned drone to focus more on intelligence-gathering and refueling than combat strike missions, said the sources, who were not authorized to discuss it publicly before the budget’s release.

The Pentagon’s plan will also emphasize the need to fund all three parts of the US strategic deterrent known as “triad” which involves the replacement of the Ohio-class submarines that carry nuclear weapons, a new Air Force bomber and new nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles, said one of the sources.

On Tuesday, US Defense Secretary Ashton Carter said the Pentagon would spend $8.1 billion on undersea warfare in fiscal 2017 and more than $40 billion in the next five years.

Carter, speaking to the Economic Club of Washington, said the initiative is aimed at giving the United States the most lethal undersea and anti-submarine force in the world, funding nine Virginia-class submarines built by General Dynamics and Huntington Ingalls Industries.

February 2, 2016 Posted by | Militarism | , | 1 Comment

Get the Hell Out of Afghanistan Already!

By Ron Jacobs | CounterPunch | October 21, 2015

The US war machine scored another win. Not in Syria, but in Afghanistan. After lying about a prolonged attack on the Medicin Sans Frontiers hospital in Kunduz, a recent decision from the White House to leave at least 10,000 troops in that country for an undetermined amount of time seems to make no sense. However, when one looks at the justification from various politicians and think tanks, the reasoning is proven to be the same as it has been for years. Let me quote a certain Rand policy analyst named S. Rebecca Zimmerman:

“There have been numerous security losses across Afghanistan, despite the 9,800 troop presence, but the government is also facing challenges of erosion of authority. It’s so focused on factions within, and pressure without that it cannot effectively govern and strongmen on the periphery are growing in influence. The presence of U.S. troops cannot halt these trends, but it can slow their progress.” (RAND website, October 16, 2015)

In other words, Washington can’t win but it can continue to keep those it opposes from winning. This is a cynical move almost on par with King David sending Uriah the Hittite into the front lines and certain death after David slept with Uriah’s wife. Arms will continue to flow into the ravaged nation that is Afghanistan, so will US troops and mercenaries; Afghan soldiers will die at an increased rate as will civilians. The captains of the war industry—from Lockheed Martin to General Dynamics and beyond—will reap billions of dollars in blood money while paid-off sycophant politicians promise them more. The relatively few citizens who are paying attention to the travesty will cry out alarms about the futility of the war and the costs their fellows ultimately bear in gold and conscience. And the war will drag on.

According to Statista.com, the total cost of the US war on Afghanistan is around $765 billion. The number of US military fatalities is (as of July 1, 2015) 2,370. Other occupying forces have lost 1,137 troops. The number of mercenaries and civilian contractors killed was 1,582 by December 2013 (US Dept. Of Labor). Afghan deaths are unknown, but it is estimated that more than 92,000 have died, of which at least 26,000 were civilians (Watson Institute, Brown University).

The war industry’s numbers, on the other hand show increases, not losses. If we look at the rankings of just three of the top defense contractors in the US, we discover that General Dynamics (which makes Stryker vehicles and many other implements of this particular war) went from being Number 180 in the Fortune 500 to Number 100 since the US first attacked Afghanistan; Northrop Grumman (which makes at least two of the helicopter gunships used in country) went from number 232 to Number 124 and Lockheed Martin (whose weapons systems are too numerous to list) went up only four rankings, from 69 to 64. These advances tell us almost all we need to know about who this war benefits.

Besides the fact that these profits are made from the taking of human life, there is also the reality that the money these companies profit from is money taken from that which US taxpayers pay into the Treasury for government services—money many US residents believe should go to helping people, not killing them. Of course, in the military itself there are also plenty of military officers who are making their careers on the continuation of this debacle.

So, when all is said and done; when losses are calculated and profits pocketed the question remains: why are US troops still in Afghanistan? Unfortunately, the answer is too simple. US troops, spies and mercenaries are still in Afghanistan because the American people allow them to be.

If one recalls the presidential campaigns of 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama promised to end the US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The former is now a low-intensity conflict affected by the goings-on in Syria and Libya before it. On the other hand, the war in Afghanistan continues to founder along. The original reason for the war (as contrived as it was) no longer exists. Osama Bin Laden is dead. So is Mullah Omar.

We are told the Taliban is taking back cities, but the greater truth seems to be that Afghans with different allegiances are fighting each other for land, religions, and plunder and opium profits. The everyday Afghan is just trying to maintain an existence for themselves and their family. There is no end to this war unless we demand that US troops, CIA operatives and their mercenary accomplices leave the country. It is quite obvious no politician is going to make that demand unless the American people force their hand.

With this in mind, what I find almost as depressing as the extension of the occupation is the lackluster response from US residents. While I expect the politicians to line up behind this idiotic move, the fact that most of the rest of us barely even note the news is symptomatic of how far along we actually are as a nation into George Orwell’s 1984 future where eternal war is peace.

October 21, 2015 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | Leave a comment

Seeking War to the End of the World

By Robert Parry | Consortium News | July 19, 2015

If the neoconservatives have their way again, U.S. ground troops will reoccupy Iraq, the U.S. military will take out Syria’s secular government (likely helping Al Qaeda and the Islamic State take over), and the U.S. Congress will not only kill the Iran nuclear deal but follow that with a massive increase in military spending.

Like spraying lighter fluid on a roaring barbecue, the neocons also want a military escalation in Ukraine to burn the ethnic Russians out of the east and the neocons dream of spreading the blaze to Moscow with the goal of forcing Russian President Vladimir Putin from the Kremlin. In other words, more and more fires of Imperial “regime change” abroad even as the last embers of the American Republic die at home.

Much of this “strategy” is personified by a single Washington power couple: arch-neocon Robert Kagan, a co-founder of the Project for the New American Century and an early advocate of the Iraq War, and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State for European Affairs Victoria Nuland, who engineered last year’s coup in Ukraine that started a nasty civil war and created a confrontation between nuclear-armed United States and Russia.

Kagan, who cut his teeth as a propaganda specialist in support of the Reagan administration’s brutal Central American policies in the 1980s, is now a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a contributing columnist to The Washington Post’s neocon-dominated opinion pages.

On Friday, Kagan’s column baited the Republican Party to do more than just object to President Barack Obama’s Iranian nuclear deal. Kagan called for an all-out commitment to neoconservative goals, including military escalations in the Middle East, belligerence toward Russia and casting aside fiscal discipline in favor of funneling tens of billions of new dollars to the Pentagon.

Kagan also showed how the neocons’ world view remains the conventional wisdom of Official Washington despite their disastrous Iraq War. The neocon narrative gets repeated over and over in the mainstream media no matter how delusional it is.

For instance, a sane person might trace the origins of the bloodthirsty Islamic State back to President George W. Bush’s neocon-inspired Iraq War when this hyper-violent Sunni movement began as “Al Qaeda in Iraq” blowing up Shiite mosques and instigating sectarian bloodshed. It later expanded into Syria where Sunni militants were seeking the ouster of a secular regime led by Alawites, a Shiite offshoot. Though changing its name to the Islamic State, the movement continued with its trademark brutality.

But Kagan doesn’t acknowledge that he and his fellow neocons bear any responsibility for this head-chopping phenomenon. In his neocon narrative, the Islamic State gets blamed on Iran and Syria, even though those governments are leading much of the resistance to the Islamic State and its former colleagues in Al Qaeda, which in Syria backs a separate terrorist organization, the Nusra Front.

But here is how Kagan explains the situation to the Smart People of Official Washington: “Critics of the recent nuclear deal struck between Iran and the United States are entirely right to point out the serious challenge that will now be posed by the Islamic republic. It is an aspiring hegemon in an important region of the world.

“It is deeply engaged in a region-wide war that encompasses Syria, Iraq, Lebanon, the Gulf States and the Palestinian territories. It subsidizes the murderous but collapsing regime of Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and therefore bears primary responsibility for the growing strength of the Islamic State and other radical jihadist forces in that country and in neighboring Iraq, where it is simultaneously expanding its influence and inflaming sectarian violence.”

The Real Hegemon

While ranting about “Iranian hegemony,” Kagan called for direct military intervention by the world’s true hegemonic power, the United States. He wants the U.S. military to weigh in against Iran on the side of two far more militarily advanced regional powers, Israel and Saudi Arabia, whose combined weapons spending dwarfs Iran’s and includes – with Israel – a sophisticated nuclear arsenal.

Yet reality has never had much relationship to neocon ideology. Kagan continued: “Any serious strategy aimed at resisting Iranian hegemony has also required confronting Iran on the several fronts of the Middle East battlefield. In Syria, it has required a determined policy to remove Assad by force, using U.S. air power to provide cover for civilians and create a safe zone for Syrians willing to fight.

“In Iraq, it has required using American forces to push back and destroy the forces of the Islamic State so that we would not have to rely, de facto, on Iranian power to do the job. Overall, it has required a greater U.S. military commitment to the region, a reversal of both the perceived and the real withdrawal of American power.

“And therefore it has required a reversal of the downward trend in U.S. defense spending, especially the undoing of the sequestration of defense funds, which has made it harder for the military even to think about addressing these challenges, should it be called upon to do so. So the question for Republicans who are rightly warning of the danger posed by Iran is: What have they done to make it possible for the United States to begin to have any strategy for responding?”

In Kagan’s call for war and more war, we’re seeing, again, the consequence of failing to hold neocons accountable after they pushed the country into the illegal and catastrophic Iraq War by selling lies about weapons of mass destruction and telling tales about how easy it would be.

Instead of facing a purge that should have followed the Iraq calamity, the neocons consolidated their power, holding onto key jobs in U.S. foreign policy, ensconcing themselves in influential think tanks, and remaining the go-to experts for mainstream media coverage. Being wrong about Iraq has almost become a badge of honor in the upside-down world of Official Washington.

But we need to unpack the truckload of sophistry that Kagan is peddling. First, it is simply crazy to talk about “Iranian hegemony.” That was part of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s rhetoric before the U.S. Congress on March 3 about Iran “gobbling up” nations – and it has now become a neocon-driven litany, but it is no more real just because it gets repeated endlessly.

For instance, take the Iraq case. It has a Shiite-led government not because Iran invaded Iraq, but because the United States did. After the U.S. military ousted Sunni dictator Saddam Hussein, the United States stood up a new government dominated by Shiites who, in turn, sought friendly relations with their co-religionists in Iran, which is entirely understandable and represents no aggression by Iran. Then, after the Islamic State’s dramatic military gains across Iraq last summer, the Iraqi government turned to Iran for military assistance, also no surprise.

Back to Iraq

However, leaving aside Kagan’s delusional hyperbole about Iran, look at what he’s proposing. He wants to return a sizable U.S. occupation force to Iraq, apparently caring little about the U.S. soldiers who were rotated multiple times into the war zone where almost 4,500 died (along with hundreds of thousands of Iraqis). Having promoted Iraq War I and having paid no price, Kagan now wants to give us Iraq War II. [III!]

But that’s not enough. Kagan wants the U.S. military to intervene to make sure the secular government of Syria is overthrown, even though the almost certain winners would be Sunni extremists from the Islamic State or Al Qaeda’s Nusra Front. Such a victory could lead to genocides against Syria’s Christians, Alawites, Shiites and other minorities. At that point, there would be tremendous pressure for a full-scale U.S. invasion and occupation of Syria, too.

That may be why Kagan wants to throw tens of billions of dollar more into the military-industrial complex, although the true price tag for Kagan’s new wars would likely run into the trillions of dollars. Yet, Kagan still isn’t satisfied. He wants even more military spending to confront “growing Chinese power, an aggressive Russia and an increasingly hegemonic Iran.”

In his conclusion, Kagan mocks the Republicans for not backing up their tough talk: “So, yes, by all means, rail about the [Iran] deal. We all look forward to the hours of floor speeches and campaign speeches that lie ahead. But it will be hard to take Republican criticisms seriously unless they start doing the things that are in their power to do to begin to address the challenge.”

While it’s true that Kagan is now “just” a neocon ideologue – albeit one with important platforms to present his views – his wife Assistant Secretary of State Nuland shares his foreign policy views and even edits many of his articles. As she told The New York Times last year, “nothing goes out of the house that I don’t think is worthy of his talents. Let’s put it that way.” [See Consortiumnews.com’sObama’s True Foreign Policy ‘Weakness.’”]

But Nuland is a foreign policy force of her own, considered by some in Washington to be the up-and-coming “star” at the State Department. By organizing the “regime change” in Ukraine – with the violent overthrow of democratically elected President Viktor Yanukovych in February 2014 – Nuland also earned her spurs as an accomplished neocon.

Nuland has even outdone her husband, who may get “credit” for the Iraq War and the resulting chaos, but Nuland did him one better, instigating Cold War II and reviving hostilities between nuclear-armed Russia and the United States. After all, that’s where the really big money will go – toward modernizing nuclear arsenals and ordering top-of-the-line strategic weaponry.

A Family Business

There’s also a family-business aspect to these wars and confrontations, since the Kagans collectively serve not just to start conflicts but to profit from grateful military contractors who kick back a share of the money to the think tanks that employ the Kagans.

For instance, Robert’s brother Frederick works at the American Enterprise Institute, which has long benefited from the largesse of the Military-Industrial Complex, and his wife Kimberly runs her own think tank called the Institute for the Study of War (ISW).

According to ISW’s annual reports, its original supporters were mostly right-wing foundations, such as the Smith-Richardson Foundation and the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, but it was later backed by a host of national security contractors, including major ones like General Dynamics, Northrop Grumman and CACI, as well as lesser-known firms such as DynCorp International, which provided training for Afghan police, and Palantir, a technology company founded with the backing of the CIA’s venture-capital arm, In-Q-Tel. Palantir supplied software to U.S. military intelligence in Afghanistan.

Since its founding in 2007, ISW has focused mostly on wars in the Middle East, especially Iraq and Afghanistan, including closely cooperating with Gen. David Petraeus when he commanded U.S. forces in those countries. However, more recently, ISW has begun reporting extensively on the civil war in Ukraine. [See Consortiumnews.com’sNeocons Guided Petraeus on Afghan War.”]

So, to understand the enduring influence of the neocons – and the Kagan clan, in particular – you have to appreciate the money connections between the business of war and the business of selling war. When the military contractors do well, the think tanks that advocate for heightened global tensions do well, too.

And, it doesn’t hurt to have friends and family inside the government making sure that policymakers do their part to give war a chance — and to give peace the old heave-ho.

[For more on this topic, see Consortiumnews.com’sA Family Business of Perpetual War.”]

Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s. You can buy his latest book, America’s Stolen Narrative, either in print here or as an e-book (from Amazon and barnesandnoble.com).

July 20, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The General Dynamics, Saudi Arabia contract and Canada’s moral regress

By Mitchell Thompson | Disinformation | June 28, 2015

With the case of the Canadian-brokered General Dynamics light armored vehicle sale to the Saudi Arabian government, Canada’s manufacturing sector has become complicit in human rights abuses abroad.

The question of benefit could be framed like this: is General Dynamics employing more people than its equipment is killing?

The Globe and Mail reported that Ed Fast, Canada’s Minister of International trade said, the deal will help the manufacturing area in London to “become the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain directly benefiting more than 500 local Canadian firms… Our government will continue to support our exporters and manufacturers to create jobs, as part of our government’s most ambitious pro-trade, pro-export plan in Canadian history.”

That export plan, justified by job-creation involves the sale of light armoured vehicles, manufactured in Canada that the Globe and Mail describes as having “effective firepower to defeat soft and armored targets… options for mounted guns include a 25-mm cannon and 7.62-mm machine guns and smoke grenade launchers.”

The Ottawa Citizen reports that:

“Canada’s defence industry has beaten out German and French competitors to win a massive contract worth at least $10 billion US to supply armoured military vehicles to Saudi Arabia.

The win was announced by International Trade Minister Ed Fast to cheering workers Friday at a factory in London, Ont., and will go a long way in bolstering the Harper government’s case for transforming Canada into a global arms dealer.

But it also raises many ethical questions that will continue to surface as Canada’s arms industry turns more and more to the volatile Middle East and South America for business.

Canada has previously sold light armoured vehicles (LAVs) like those used by Canadian soldiers in Afghanistan to Saudi Arabia, with more than 1,000 delivered to the Middle Eastern kingdom in the early 1990s, and 700 more in 2009.

But the government is touting this latest deal as the largest export contract in Canadian history, with the potential to create and sustain 3,000 jobs in southern Ontario and other parts of the country.

Exactly how many LAVs are being sold to Saudi Arabia was not being revealed, but documents filed in the U.S. by General Dynamics Land Systems – Canada, whose London-based subsidiary will be building the vehicles, put the contract at between $10 billion and $13 billion.

Defence and export industry representatives praised the Conservative government Friday for its role in securing the deal.”

The job creation argument that Canada is using stands even more oddly next to the moral cost of the deal, given Saudi Arabia’s human rights record.

Alex Nieve, Secretary General of Amnesty International told the Globe that “[The Saudi government is] known to use armoured vehicles and other weapons in dispersing peaceful protest.”

Jonathan Manthorpe writes for IPolitics that “The Saudi regime is buying these vehicles not to defend the nation from foreign threats, but to protect the regime from Saudis — from internal dissent and demands for reform.”

Hillary Homes of Amnesty told the Globe that “[Saudi Arabia] is among the worst human-rights violators in the world.”

Canada’s support of the Saudi abuse is bad enough, what’s worse is its insistence that working Canadians become participants. The government says it wants this sort of arms manufacturing as the epicentre of a cross-Canada supply chain with connections to over 500 firms. Is that really something Canada wants as an epicentre of any part of its economy?

Let’s consider what that means. If the epicentre of a sector of the manufacturing industry is dependent on the manufacturing of equipment for a third world dictatorship, continued economic progress for that sector would require that government to use that equipment. Canadians would have an interest in the Saudi Arabian government using its old equipment, so it can buy new equipment, made in Canada.

 If Amnesty and others are correct, that the equipment that we manufacture will likely be used against civilians and a sector of our economy depends on that manufacturing- that means that a sector of our economy would be dependent on those abuses.

There are good people working in manufacturing. Having their work emanate from third world dictatorships perverts the entire sector. Working people should not be forced to participate in such an exchange, to remain economically viable.

June 29, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Subjugation - Torture, War Crimes | , , | Leave a comment

America Going To The Dogs (Of War)

By Sherwood Ross | Aletho News | June 25, 2015

“States Confront Cavernous Holes In Their Budgets” The New York Times headlined in a front page report June 8, 2015.

Reporter Julie Bosman described the exasperation of governors unable to provide traditional public services: Wisconsin, short by $280 million; Kansas, short by $400 million; Alabama, short by $702 million; Louisiana, short by $1.6 billion; Illinois, short by $3 billion; and Alaska, short by $4 billion.

Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin Republican, “has proposed closing the gap by decreasing funding to the public schools, the state’s university system, public workers’ health benefits and state parks,” Bosman writes.

While state budgets may be busted, and American taxpayers sink ever deeper into credit card debt, “defense” contractors are dining lavishly at the public trough.

“Defense” is in quotes because the U.S., with 900 overseas bases (so says Ron Paul, former Texas congressman) and a history of making wars may now be indisputably labeled an aggressor nation. In his “Rogue State,” Washington journalist Bill Bloom documents how the U.S. has overthrown scores of countries by force and violence around the world from Chile to Iran. The stance of America today—that it is being threatened everywhere by nations large and small–reminds very much of what economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote about ancient Rome:

There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome’s allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented…The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. …The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies.

The eminent international legal authority Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, Champaign, agrees. Boyle says that it is Obama who is beating the war drums. Boyle notes Obama funded the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine, and is now working “with neo-Nazis (there) and literally threatening Russia.” (Look for yourself: Are Russian troops taking up positions along America’s borders in Mexico and Canada or are American troops and their NATO allies taking up positions along Russia’s frontiers?)

According to Business Insider, Pentagon’s outlay of $682 billion for arms last year, was greater than the next 10 countries combined—China, Russia, UK, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, and Brazil. That may sound like “defense,” but it smells like aggression. Prior to WWII, dictators Hitler and Stalin also built huge war machines [not to mention the UK and US, powers which sought and achieved war as a means to consolidating or expanding their dominance].

Christian Davenport reported in The Washington Post (April 30, 2014) that “The costs of the Pentagon’s major weapons systems have ballooned nearly half a trillion dollars over their initial price tags…”

He pointed to a report by the Government Accountability Office published during a congressional hearing “in which senators from both parties vented about continued cost overruns, billions of dollars wasted when contracts are canceled and a system that is plagued by a high level of turnover that prevents anyone from being held accountable.”

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) listed a series of failed programs, The Post said, including an attempt to replace the White House helicopters’ fleet. McCain called them examples of “really unacceptable cost overruns we’ve seen in the past, and apparently a failure to get a lot of it still under control.” Wild spending is what you get when you exempt the Pentagon from close audits. Abroad, it is running amok.

24/7 Wall Street’s Samuel Weigley wrote that, in recent year 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services to the Pentagon. Of that sum, the top 10 “defense” contractors sold $208 billion. Much of that sum was paid to the contractors without competitive bidding, inflating costs.

The Big Ten, and their sales figures, are: (1) Lockheed-Martin, $36 billion; (2) Boeing, $32 billion; (3) BAE Systems, $29 billion; (4) General Dynamics, $24 billion; (5) Raytheon, $23 billion; (6) Northrop Grumman, $21 billion; (7) EADS, $16 billion; (8) Finmeccanica, $15 billion; (9) L-3 Communications, $13 billion; and (10) United Technologies, $12 billion.

In 2011, for example, the Pentagon with outlays of $878 billion, topped America’s spending charts, showing again that the chief business of America is w-a-r. The Washington Post termed the U.S. “defense” budget “staggering.” And this is no idle choice of words.

Economically, the country is staggering. America has the largest army, the largest air force, and the largest navy in the world. In most categories it is stronger than the next five or 10 nations combined. Meanwhile, American states and cities are going broke and public works—from highways to water pipes to bridges—are crumbling.

In round numbers, the U.S. is short $1.6 trillion for unmet public works—water mains, highways, bridges, etc.—95 million Americans have housing problems, including 3.5 million homeless (a third of them families with children); 46 million people are on food stamps; 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed; 44 million people lack medical insurance; one in six Americans goes to bed hungry; etc., etc. Yet, the Military-Industrial Complex is awash in prosperity.

When President Obama attacked Libya in 2011, he justified his crime by stating there are times “when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are.” Here’s an admission in his own words that he is attacking nations that do not directly threaten America! And doing so in flagrant violation of Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution, which confers the right to make war only on Congress, not the White House. Usurping that power is the act of a dictator.

As for the cost, The Los Angeles Times on June 16, 2011, reported, “The Obama administration is spending almost $9.5 million every single day to blow things up in Libya because the president has determined that is in the country’s national interest, this country’s national interest, not Libya’s.” Might that money have been better spent in Camden, N.J. or Vallejo, Calif, two of our many hard-pressed cities?

And the billions devoted to blowing apart Libya in the first six months of that war is nothing compared to what Obama is quietly spending on nuclear weapons.

Obama, who pledged in 2009 “to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons,” is upgrading the lethality of an atomic arsenal already so deadly it can destroy all life on Earth! Price tag: (says one Federal study) $1-trillion. And he perpetuated a war he inherited in Iraq, helping build up a $3 trillion price tag.

But Mr. Obama’s secretive war-making, (all of it illegal), goes far beyond what is reported in the press. As Kevin Gosztola wrote in Firedoglake on May 16, 2013, “The reality is current US wars are not limited to the one winding down in Afghanistan and the other one that recently ended in Iraq. There are numerous wars going on unannounced, undeclared and in secret. The world is literally a battlefield with conflicts being waged by the US (or with the “help” of the US). And, no country is off-limits to US military forces.”

Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D.-Wis.) speaking at the time of the Libya attack, declared, “Our troops must be brought home safely and soon from Afghanistan and Iraq; and Congress must return its focus to creating jobs, educating our children, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” (Somebody’s got it right!)

On July 10, 2010, reporter Bob Woodward was told by President Obama, “To quote a famous American (Civil War General Sherman) ‘War is hell.’ And once the dogs of war are unleashed, you don’t know where it’s going to lead.” By no stretch of the human imagination can it be said that Mr. Obama is taking General Sherman’s warning to heart. He has unleashed the dogs of war over and again–actions that justify his impeachment.

Another warning Mr. Obama is also disregarding comes from founder James Madison, who in 1795 famously wrote, “Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” And this nation hasn’t—or haven’t you noticed?

© 2015 Sherwood Ross

June 25, 2015 Posted by | Economics, Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment