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Top US generals lined their pockets off Afghanistan war

Press TV – September 4, 2021

The top generals who commanded American forces in Afghanistan have amassed fortunes from their postings there despite their disastrous conduct in the occupied country.

Eight American generals leading foreign forces in Afghanistan, including United States Army General Stanley McChrystal, who sought and supervised the 2009 American troop surge, went on to serve on more than 20 corporate boards, according to US media.

In an article titled, “Corporate boards, consulting, speaking fees: How US generals thrived after Afghanistan,” published by Stars and Stripes, the publication reveals how top generals amassed clout despite the failure of the American offensive in Afghanistan.

A review of company disclosures and other releases conducted by the specialized medium showed that the top Americans generals who led the mission in Afghanistan had thrived in the private sector after leaving the war zone.

They have amassed influence within businesses, at universities and in think tanks, in some cases selling their experience in a conflict that left millions of people dead and displaced, and costing the United States more than $2 trillion and concluded with the restoration of Taliban rule, the report said.

Meanwhile, the debate remains hot in the United States over what was the mission and who benefited from the 20-year war against the impoverished country.

A compilation of data from lobbying disclosures archived at Open Secrets, a US-based research group tracking money in US politics, showed that Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, General Dynamics, Boeing and Northrop Grumman were the top 5 military contractors who received $2 trillion dollars in public funds from 2001 and 2021.

Retired Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., who commanded American forces in Afghanistan in 2013 and 2014, joined the board of Lockheed Martin last year. Retired Gen. John R. Allen, who preceded him in Afghanistan, is president of the Brookings Institution, which has received as much as $1.5 million over the last three years from Northrop Grumman.

September 4, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism | , , , , , , | 1 Comment

Afghanistan Withdrawal Is Hurting Its Profits. It’s Funding a Pro-War Think Tank.

BY SARAH LAZARE | IN THESE TIMES | AUGUST 25, 2021

On August 12, the military contractor CACI International Inc. told its investors that the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan is hurting its profits. The same contractor is also funding a think tank that is concurrently arguing against the withdrawal. This case is worth examining both because it is routine, and because it highlights the venality of our ​expert”-military contractor feedback loop, in which private companies use think tanks to rally support for wars they’ll profit from.

The contractor is notorious to those who have followed the scandal of U.S.-led torture in Iraq. CACI International was sued by three Iraqis formerly detained in Abu Ghraib prison who charge that the company’s employees are responsible for directing their torture, including sexual assault and electric shocks. (The suit was brought in 2008 and the case is still ongoing.)

In 2019, CACI International was awarded a nearly $907 million, five-year contract to provide ​intelligence operations and analytic support” for the U.S. Army in Afghanistan.

During an August 12 earnings call, CACI International noted repeatedly that President Biden’s withdrawal from the 20-year Afghanistan War harmed the company’s profits. John Mengucci, president and CEO of CACI International, said, ​we have about a 2 percent headwind coming into FY 2022 because of Afghanistan.” A ​headwind” refers to negative impacts on profits.

Afghanistan was mentioned 16 times throughout the call — either in reference to the dent in profits, or to assure investors that other areas of growth were offsetting the losses. For example, Mengucci said, ​We’re seeing positive growth in technology and expect it to continue to outpace expertise growth, collectively offsetting the impact of the Afghanistan drawdown.”

Similar themes were repeated in an April 22 earnings call, where the company lamented the ​headwinds” posed by the Afghanistan withdrawal. (Industry and defense publications have picked up on this theme, but framed it in the company’s terms, by emphasizing the offsets to its losses.)

Despite CACI International’s clear economic interest in continuing the war, on the August 12 call, company officials were careful not to editorialize about the Biden administration’s decision. The closest they came was a cautious statement from Mengucci: ​At least as of today we’ve watched the administration make the decision to completely exit Afghanistan by 9 – 11 and all I can say is they’re executing on that decision.”

But CACI International does not have to broadcast its positions on the war: Instead, it is funding a think tank that has been actively urging the Biden administration not to leave Afghanistan.

CACI International is listed as a ​corporate sponsor” of the Institute for Study of War, which describes itself as a ​non-partisan, non-profit, public policy research organization.” Dr. Warren Phillips, lead director of CACI International, is on the board of the think tank. (Other funders include General Dynamics and Microsoft.)

When it comes to the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, however, the think tank is extremely partisan. In an August 20 paper, the think tank argued that ​Russia, China, Iran, and Turkey are weighing how to take advantage of the United States’ hurried withdrawal.”

Jack Keane, a retired four star general and board member of the Institute for Study of War, meanwhile, has been on a cable news blitz arguing against the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, as reported by Ryan Grim, Sara Sirota, Lee Fang and Rose Adams for The Intercept. (The Intercept noted CACI’s International’s backing of the think tank.)

Kimberly Kagan, founder and president of the Institute for the Study of War, told Fox News on August 17 that the U.S. withdrawal could cause Afghanistan to become the ​second school of jihadism.” She warned, ​It is not clear that the Taliban, which seeks international recognition and legitimacy, is going to want to tolerate or encourage direct attacks on the U.S. from al Qaeda or other extremist groups based in Afghanistan.”

The think tank’s backing from a military contractor was not discussed in these media appearances.

The case of CACI International is not unique. The Intercept notes, ​Among the other talking heads who took to cable news segments or op-ed pages without disclosing their defense industry ties were retired Gen. David Petraeus; Rebecca Grant, a former staffer for the Air Force secretary; Richard Haass, who worked as an adviser to then-Secretary of State Colin Powell; and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice.”

This cacophony of voices matters because Biden is facing a media uproar over the withdrawal. Pundits and mainstream press outlets that have been ignoring civilian deaths for years are suddenly expressing moral outrage at their hardships now that the war is ending. While there are legitimate concerns about the fate of Afghans as the Taliban seizes control, the vast majority of the firestorm stems from a reflexively pro-war perspective, in favor of the indefinite extension of an occupation that has proven brutal and lethal for civilians. The overwhelming effect is to send the message to Biden, and any future presidents, that they should think twice before withdrawing from a war, lest they have a media revolt on their hands.

But this outcry didn’t materialize out of nowhere. Think tank ​experts,” whose organizations are financed by the very companies profiting from the war, play a key part. They are trotted out in front of cameras and quoted in major media outlets, presented as above-the-fray observers. They are well-financed, polished and groomed precisely for moments like these. And the companies financing them get to launder their own objectives through institutions that are seen as respectable, academic and rigorous. It’s a grotesque system that is functioning as it was designed.

In its August 12 call, CACI International simply acknowledged the company’s economic interests out loud.

August 28, 2021 Posted by | Corruption, Mainstream Media, Warmongering, Militarism | , , , , | 1 Comment

‘Forever war’ returns: Biden’s Pentagon team puts the military-industrial complex back in command

RT | November 14, 2020

Despite campaign-trail overtures to progressives, a Joe Biden presidency seems to spell a return to normalcy in the most time-honored American way: by placing the military-industrial complex in charge of the country’s defense.

Joe Biden’s campaign message focused almost entirely on Donald Trump, and on Biden’s supposed ability to “unify” a polarized electorate and “restore the soul of America.” Since he claimed victory last week, Biden’s prospective administration has begun to take shape, and the reality behind the rhetoric has started to emerge.

On matters of defense, restoring America’s “soul” apparently means placing weapons manufacturers back in charge of the Pentagon.

Biden announced his Department of Defense landing team on Tuesday. Of these 23 policy experts, one third have taken funding from arms manufacturers, according to a report published this week by Antiwar.com.

A knot of hawks

Leading the team is Kathleen Hicks, an undersecretary of defense in the Obama administration, and an employee of the Cen­ter for Strate­gic and Inter­na­tion­al Stud­ies (CSIS), a think tank funded by a host of NATO governments, oil firms, and weapons makers Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Atomics. The latter firm produces the Predator drones used by the Obama administration to kill hundreds of civilians in at least four Middle-Eastern countries.

Hicks was a vocal opponent of President Donald Trump’s plan to withdraw a number of US troops from Germany, claiming in August that such a move “benefits our adversaries.”

Two other members of Biden’s Pentagon team, Andrew Hunter and Melissa Dalton, work for CSIS and served under Obama in the Defense Department.

Also on the team are Susanna Blume and Ely Ratner, who work for the Center for a New American Security (CNAS). Another hawkish think-tank, CNAS is funded by Google, Facebook, Raytheon, Northrop Grumman and Lockheed Martin. Three more team members – Stacie Pettyjohn, Christine Wormuth and Terri Tanielian – were most recently employed by the RAND corporation, which draws funding from the US military, NATO, several Gulf states, and hundreds of state and corporate sources.

Michele Flournoy is widely tipped to lead the Pentagon under Biden. Flournoy would be the first woman in history to head the Defense Department, but her appointment would only be revolutionary on the surface. Flournoy is the co-founder of CNAS, and served in the Pentagon under Obama and Bill Clinton. As under secretary of defense for policy under Obama, Flournoy helped craft the 2010 troop surge in Afghanistan, a deployment of 100,000 US troops that led to a doubling in American deaths and made little measurable progress toward ending the war.

‘Forever war’ returns

President Trump, who campaigned on stopping the US’ “forever wars” in the Middle East and remains the first US president in 40 years not to start a new conflict, has nevertheless also staffed the Pentagon with hawkish officials. Recently ousted Defense Secretary Mark Esper was a top lobbyist for Raytheon, while his predecessor, Patrick Shanahan, worked for Boeing. Trump’s appointment this week of National Counterterrorism Center Director Christopher Miller as acting secretary of defense, coupled with combat veteran Col. Douglas MacGregor as senior adviser, looked set to buck that trend, given MacGregor’s vocal opposition to America’s Middle Eastern wars.

Yet Miller and MacGregor may not be in office for long, if Trump’s legal challenges against Biden’s apparent victory fail. Should that happen, Biden’s progressive voters may be in for a rude reawakening when the former vice president returns to the White House.

Many of these progressives were supporters of Bernie Sanders during the Democratic primaries, while others likely held their nose and voted for Biden out of opposition to Trump. Reps. Barbara Lee (California) and Mark Pocan (Wisconsin), two notable progressives, wrote to Biden on Tuesday asking him not to nominate a defense secretary linked to the weapons industry.

Lee and Pocan cited President Dwight D. Eisenhower’s 1961 farewell address, in which he warned of the “disastrous rise” of the “military-industrial complex.”

Given Biden’s fondness for Flournoy, whom he tapped in 2016 to head the Pentagon under a potential Hillary Clinton administration, the former vice president appears unconcerned about curtailing the influence of the armaments industry.

The industry apparently roots for Joe, too. As Donald Trump surged ahead of Biden on election night, stocks in Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, General Dynamics, and the Carlyle Group all plummeted. Only when counting in swing states stopped and resumed, giving Biden the advantage, did they climb again.

It’s probably fine that all the big arms contractor stocks plummeted when it looked like Trump won but then skyrocketed once it became clear Biden would be the one to take office. pic.twitter.com/CKEZNS53Gx

— Hillary Fan (@HillaryFan420) November 7, 2020

Should a Biden administration make good on running mate Kamala Harris’ post-election promise to return to regime-change operations in Syria, these firms and their supporters in the Pentagon stand to make a killing.

However, anti-war leftists, progressives, and Bernie Sanders supporters may soon realize that voting for a Democrat who supported the Iraq War, instead of a Republican who called it “the worst single mistake ever made in the history of our country,” might just benefit the military-industrial complex more than the “soul of America.”

November 14, 2020 Posted by | Corruption, Militarism, Wars for Israel | , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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