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‘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

Back to ‘Star Wars’: Obama Signs FY2017 Defense Bill

By Peter KORZUN | Strategic Culture Foundation | 29.12.2016

As the entire system of arms control is eroding, a war in the orbit appears to be a not so distant future. The US has just taken a big step forward to unleash an arms race in space.

On December 23, President Obama signed the National Defense Authorization Act – the legislation to re-launch the «Star Wars». The national ballistic missile defense (BMD) is to enter a new phase as the commander-in-chief struck the word «limited» from the description of the concept and the mission. The BMD has become «unlimited» now to greatly complicate the international security agenda and heighten tensions with Russia and China. The new law calls for the Defense Department to start «research, development, test and evaluation» of space-based systems for missile defense.

The efforts are to focus on the acquisition of technology to defeat both small-scale and large-scale nuclear attacks and unsettle the strategic balance in US favor.

According to Los Angeles Times, «the provisions signal that the US will seek to use advanced technology to defeat both small-scale and large-scale nuclear attacks. That could unsettle the decades-old balance of power among the major nuclear states». Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.), who introduced and shepherded the policy changes in the House, said, «I hope that the day will come when we could have solid-state lasers in space that can defeat any missile attack». Welcome back to «Star Wars» of the eighties!

Philip E. Coyle III, a former assistant secretary of Defense who headed the Pentagon office responsible for testing and evaluating weapon systems, described the idea of a space-based nuclear shield as «a sham». «To do this would cost just gazillions and gazillions», Coyle said. «The technology isn’t at hand — nor is the money. It’s unfortunate from my point of view that the Congress doesn’t see that».

It should be noted that as a candidate, Barack Obama called ballistic missile defense plans «unproven» and vowed to cut them! The decision to re-launch the «Star Wars» is at odds with the opinion of many experts in the field. For instance, the 2016 report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), says the US missile defense program is costly, unreliable, and exempt from oversight. «Despite more than a decade of development and a bill of $40 billion, the GMD system is simply unable to protect the U.S. public», the authors wrote.

«The missile defense system is one of the most expensive and complex military systems in history, yet it is the only major defense program not subject to standard ‘fly before you buy’ performance standards», said UCS Senior Scientist Laura Grego, the report’s lead author. «Fifteen years of this misguided, hands-off approach has resulted in a costly system that won’t protect the homeland».

But defense contractors will get great profits. Three of them — Boeing Co., Raytheon Co. and Northrop Grumman — donated a total of $40.5 million to congressional campaign funds from 2003 through October of this year, according to federal election records.

The BMD efforts have never stopped. The US deploys powerful sea and shore-based Aegis air-defense systems that, with accurate guidance, could reach into orbit to destroy enemy spacecraft. The US Missile Defense Agency (MDA) is to reboot the concept of Airborne Laser by building a laser-armed aircraft that can shoot down ballistic missiles after launch – the time they are the most vulnerable.

The United States continues to invest in programs that could provide anti-satellite and space-based weapons capabilities. The US Air Force’s unmanned X-37B space plane has flown secret missions to Earth orbit, carrying a mystery payload. The spacecraft is a maneuverable, reusable, space test platform which boosts into low orbit – around 250 miles high – atop a rocket but lands back on Earth like an airplane. According to Dave Webb, chairman of the Global Network Against Weapons Nuclear Power in Space, the X-37B «is part of the Pentagon’s effort to develop the capability to strike anywhere in the world with a conventional warhead in less than an hour», known as the Prompt Global Strike.

America is funding the development of the Spaceborne Payload Assist Rocket-Kauai (SPARK) launch system, designed to send miniaturized satellites into low-Earth and sun-synchronous orbits. Speedy replacement of disabled satellites in the event of attack is to secure the US military’s use of space constellations in support of operations during a conflict. In its efforts to rapidly launch swarms of miniaturized satellites on the cheap, the US military is also looking to leverage the private sector.

The reusable recovery of a SpaceX’s Falcon 9 has fundamentally changed the military balance of power and, perhaps inadvertently, launched the era of space militarization. According to Stratfor Global Intelligence (SGI), «the battle to militarize space has begun». The think tank believes that «as existing technologies proliferate and new developments provide greater access to space, Cold War frameworks for the peaceful sharing of Earth’s near orbit will erode».

Weapons of mass destruction are banned from space under the 1967 Outer Space Treaty. But the Treaty does not ban the placement of conventional weapons in orbit.

The potential arms race in space in an issue of major concern for the United Nations. In 2008, Russia and China proposed the first ever draft Treaty on the Prevention of the Placement of Weapons in Outer Space, the Threat or Use of Force against Outer Space Objects (PPWT). The initiative led nowhere being torpedoed by the United States.

In December 2015, The United Nations General Assembly adopted a Russia-led resolution calling for a nonbinding restriction against the first placement of weapons in outer space (also known as «no first placement initiative»). 129 nations, including China voted to adopt the measure. The only government objecting to the substance of our initiative was the United States. The EU abstained. According to Russian officials, the United States rejects the idea of holding talks with Russia on the problem.

By signing the bill into law, President Obama has ushered the world into an unfettered arms race, unsettling the balance of power among the major nuclear states. The implementation of the law will result in wasting a lot of money while the national debt is heading to $20 trillion.

The landmark change to the BMD policy, especially the plans to base weapons in space, will inevitably complicate the relationship with Russia at the time the entire system of arms control and non-proliferation is about to unravel. From now on, the US will always be perceived as a warmonger who launched an armed race in space and did away with the restrictions on BMD plans – the unsolved problem that obstructs any efforts to address the security agenda and gain positive results.

December 29, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Progressive Hypocrite | , , , , | Leave a comment

The Anglo-American War Machine

By Steven MacMillan | New Eastern Outlook | 27.09.2016

Contrary to the incessant grandstanding by US and British politicians that they are committed to promoting freedom, democracy and peace around the world, the evidence proves that the Anglo-American establishment is in the business of war, destabilization and conflict creation. On top of the numerous imperial wars in the Middle East and North Africa that the Anglo-American establishment has spearheaded, the true nature of these two powers is further confirmed by the fact that Britain is now officially the second biggest arms dealer on the planet, second only to the US. 

On average over the last decade, Britain has sold more weapons than Russia, China and France, according to the UK Trade and Investment department. Two-thirds of the weapons have been sold to Middle Eastern countries since 2010, fuelling many of the deadly conflicts in the region. Recipients of British weapons include 22 of the 30 countries on the UK governments own human rights watch list, further illustrating the complete hypocrisy of British politicians.

Britain has supplied an array of deplorable powers with military hardware, many of which are involved in committing atrocities with those weapons: including illegally supplying Saudi Arabia with Eurofighter Typhoon jets and missiles that have been used in the abhorrent war on Yemen; supplying Israel with arms that have been used in the IDF’s frequent massacres of Palestinians; in addition to selling shotguns, stun grenades and teargas, to the regime in Bahrain – which have been used to suppress protests in the country.

When the US and Britain are not busy killing Syrian soldiers who are fighting against ISIS, they are flooding the most war-torn region on earth (thanks to Western wars) with weapons. The likes of Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, Boeing and BAE Systems, have been making a killing off the perennial wars we have seen in the 21st century. The new Western-manufactured Cold War 2.0 has also proved to be beneficial for the war giants, as this is used to justify exorbitant defense/war budgets.

The power and influence of war contractors is nothing new in the West however. In his farewell address to the nation in 1961, the 34th President of the US, Dwight D. Eisenhower, warned the American people of the dangers of this insidious “military-industrial complex:”

“This conjunction, of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry, is new in the American experience. The total influence – economic, political, even spiritual – is felt in every city, every state house, every office of the federal government. We recognise the imperative need for this development, yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications… In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

It is clear that Eisenhower’s warning fell on deaf ears, as the nefarious influence of the military-industrial complex has only grown since he made his historic speech. The amount of money the US spends on defence is staggering comparative to the rest of the world, with the 2015 US defense budget more than three times the size of China’s, and more than nine times the size of Russia’s. The American taxpayer has been filling the pockets of the CEOs of the war giants for too long now, with the decade-and-a-half since 9/11 proving to be an immensely profitable period for these immoral contractors.

Russia Now Earns More from Agriculture than Arms

Whilst the US and Britain are leading the world in arms sales, Russia is now earning more from agricultural exports than arms sales. Last year, Russia replaced the US as the largest producer and exporter of wheat, with grain production increasing in Russia over the past six years. Russia has also established herself as one of the main leaders of the organic revolution that we have seen sweep the world in recent years, as the toxicity of GMO becomes blatantly evident for all to see.

Western aggression is, and will continue to be, the most destructive force on earth. The wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya, have brought nothing but misery and devastation to these countries. The West’s proxy war in Syria brought further destabilization and chaos to the region, as well causing the refugee and migrant crisis that has gripped Europe. The 2013-14 colour revolution in Ukraine and the subsequent war in the country serves as yet another example of the pernicious fruits of Western imperialism. If we add on top of all this carnage, the US-led drone wars and the Anglo-American dominated arms industry, there is no question that the Anglo-American war machine is the greatest impediment to global stability today.

September 27, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US defense industry lobbyist delivers a major Daily Mail fail

RT | August 27, 2016

The UK’s most popular mid-market daily, The Daily Mail, has long tried to straddle the line between serious political content and crowd-pleasing tabloid fodder. Sadly, in recent times quite a lot of its Russia coverage has been falling into the second category.

This is particularly true when it comes to using Vladimir Putin’s name to generate internet traffic, with click-bait pieces focused on the Russian President. Indeed, no less than 18 articles graced their special “Putin” section in the first 20 days of August alone.

While most of this constant innuendo is harmless enough, recently things reached a new low. With the headline “Is Trump a Russian agent? Top Kremlinologist presents a tantalizing and disturbing dossier on why the presidential hopeful could have closer links to the Kremlin than it may appear,” the Mail gave ample space to a lobbyist for US defense contractors to publish a factually challenged, and heavily biased, essay on Russia.

The entities that sponsor the author’s activities include Bell Helicopters, Lockheed Martin, the Raytheon Company, and Sikorsky Aircraft. In other words, precisely the same people who benefit the most from renewed tensions between Russia and the West. This support is neatly dressed up in a pseudo-academic sounding enterprise called CEPA (Centre of European Policy Analysis). But don’t be fooled – CEPA is no different from any other lobbying vehicle.

Think Tank Not Thinking

At no point did the Mail explain Edward Lucas’ connections to the armament manufacturers, instead describing him as a “senior editor at the Economist,” which is true, but only half of the story, and very little of it when it comes to Russia. Lucas, together with his fellow lobbyists at CEPA, which include Peter Pomerantsev and Anne Applebaum (who also moonlights as a columnist at the Washington Post), is an experienced activist, who knows how to play to the gallery.

The column itself is extraordinary in its mendacity and inaccuracy, and it is worth highlighting a few examples.

Assailing US Presidential candidate Donald Trump, who is nominally the subject of the diatribe, Lucas seems upset that not only is Trump “friendly to Russia, he is also bitterly critical of American leaders.” Given that the businessman is a presidential nominee of the party that’s been shut out of the White House for the last eight years, it would be somewhat bizarre, in a healthy democracy, if he were not disapproving of what is essentially his opposition.

Next, the writer states that “for years, Russia has cultivated connections in Washington in the hope of gaining political knowledge and leverage.” This is exactly what the US and UK do all over the world, including in Russia. “The Russian government and Kremlin-friendly bodies hire lobbyists, donate money to think tanks, and promote politically influential commercial ties,” he goes on. This is, in fact, the rather logical foundation of foreign relations by all countries.

The Menace of Hypocrisy

Now, to indulge the absurd irony here, this could easily be re-written, so let’s have a go. “For years, America has cultivated connections in Europe in the hope of gaining political knowledge and leverage. The US government and Pentagon-dependent defense contractors hire lobbyists, donate money to think tanks and promote politically influential commercial ties on a scale many times bigger than Russia can afford. For example, in Warsaw, where Lucas himself is employed as a lobbyist by CEPA, which is funded by the State Department and US defense contractors.”

Indeed, in a recent opinion piece in The Nation, American journalist William Greider explained this process. “Why should we care who owns Ukraine? The answer may shock some innocent Americans. It’s about gaining a larger market for the US military-industrial complex. That is, recruiting more customers for the planes and other war-fighting equipment manufactured by US companies,” he wrote.

“After all, that was the real reason for NATO expansion after the Cold War ended. Contrary to its assurances, Washington pushed hard to expand NATO membership eastward, right up to the Russia border. Former Soviet satellites were happy to join, though this was sure to be understood by struggling Russia as a hostile act. Putin’s aggressive posture was his response.

“The true winners were Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other major arms makers. I know this because as a reporter I attended Washington issue forums where the US companies and their congressional lackeys laid out the arguments for expanding NATO. There was no plausible threat at the time to justify it; Russians were suffering through their horrendous post-Cold War depression,” Greider continued in a rather enlightening piece.

All The World’s a Kremlin

Lucas also makes a rather astonishing association with respect to Trump’s relatively insignificant business interests in Russia (especially when compared to Clinton’s) to ask “is Donald Trump a Russian agent?” This is never properly answered, and instead a hilariously meek “the answer may be no” is offered, followed by this nonsensical explanation: “Trump, say former intelligence officials, is just the sort of ‘asset’ the Kremlin’s spy services would cultivate.” This supposed Russia specialist finds it absolutely plausible that Russian special services might be keen on recruiting flamboyant celebrities known for having loose tongues.

What’s the tell-tale sign of Trump’s sinister ties to Russia? Apparently, “in 2013, he brought the Miss Universe content to Moscow.” Reality check: Trump controlled the pageant for 19 years and in that time the event was held in 18 other places: Panama, Ecuador, Thailand, Mexico, Vietnam, Bahamas, Brazil, Russia, Cyprus, Trinidad, Puerto Rico (twice), and eight times in the USA. Perhaps Trump is so good at multitasking that he is moonlighting as a secret agent for all of these countries at once.

Throughout the lengthy essay, no mention is made of Trump’s warnings that America may have to start shooting down Russian jets, or the Clinton Foundation’s well-documented connections with Russia, because its purpose is not to inform or educate – it’s to whip up fears that bolster the agenda of the author’s patrons, which is selling weaponry.

The Daily Mail describes the writer as a “top Kremlinologist,” which just serves to emphasize that cold-warriors like Lucas cannot leave the past behind. “Kremlinology” was necessary in the Soviet era when government was conducted behind closed doors and seating positions at official events offered clues to political machinations. In the 21st century, if you want to figure out what Russian leaders are thinking, you can read their speeches and essays online.

You’d imagine that the American defense industry could find lobbyists who are capable of reading the Kremlin’s website. This thrift shop John Le Carre stuff is far too old fashioned these days.

August 28, 2016 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

US Plans to Modernize Nuclear Triad are ‘Foolish’

Sputnik — 12.08.2016

WASHINGTON — The United States is modernizing its nuclear Triad with particular emphasis on US Air Force needs.

“I think starting this round of a new nuclear arms race is extremely foolish and it is based on a lack of understanding,” Perry said. “We are talking about huge expenditures here and it is hardly being discussed or debated and we’re just going ahead with it.”

In October 2015, Northrop Grumman, a US global aerospace and defense technology company, was awarded a development contract to build the next generation B-21 strategic bomber, while Lockheed Martin and Boeing said they planned to submit proposals to develop the GBSD ICBM.

“Nobody really knows what the cost is [for these systems] but people drop figures like $1 trillion,” Perry stated. “But I don’t know what the right number is — if anything, it [$1 trillion] is on the low side.”

Cost considerations are secondary in the new nuclear arms race, Perry noted.

“I’m trying to make people aware of just how dangerous, how really dangerous, this damn business is,” Perry said. “People don’t relate to that and they think it is just another issue of whether we should build these bombers or build these missiles or not.”

The weakness in the US nuclear Triad is the silo-based ICBM’s providing adversaries with known target locations and would be most likely to precipitate a nuclear war, Perry observed.

“If there is a nuclear war, they [ICBM’s] would be the first targets and the problem here is that we know all that and therefore in our alert system, if we see an indication of a launch coming we have to decide whether to launch those ICBM’s right away,” Perry stated. “The ICBM’s are the only ones that pose that particular problem.”

Nuclear Security Tougher Than Cold War Era Due to Cyberthreats

Ensuring the security of nuclear weapons is harder today than during the Cold War years because of the looming cyberthreats that might compromise nuclear weapons command and control systems or lead to an accidental launch.

“It is harder today than it was during the Cold War and there is the danger of cyber confusion or some cyber mistake,” Perry said. “Or someone playing malicious games with cyber and going after our command and control systems.”

The reappearance of Cold War-era nuclear brinkmanship, Perry observed, combined with emerging cyber vulnerabilities makes the likelihood of human or software errors, false alarms, and accidental launches more likely.

“The danger was, and is… that we will go to war by accident,” Perry said. “During the Cold War, one [accident] which looked very, very real and had people convinced it was the real thing was caused by an operator putting a training tape in the computer system and, of course, the training tape was designed to look real, so that was a human error.”

Human errors and false alarms will happen again, and when they do, the president will have just a few minutes to decide whether he or she is going to launch intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), Perry noted.

Perry was the 19th US Secretary of Defense, serving from February 1994 to January 1997. He is also the author of “My Journey to the Nuclear Brink” and director of the Preventative Defense Project at Stanford University in the US state of California.

August 12, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Timeless or most popular | , , , , | 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

Iowa Peace Activist Facing Felony Charges for Breaking Northrup Grumman Windows

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By Fran Quigley | Dissident Voice | February 9, 2016

Jessica Reznicek, 34, an Iowa peace activist, was arraigned yesterday and charged with two felonies for breaking three windows with a sledgehammer at the Northrup Grumman facility outside the Omaha Nebraska Strategic Air Command at Offut Air Force base.  After her court appearance she was returned to the Sarpy County Jail where she has remained on $100,000 bond since her action on December 27.  Reznicek, who has no plans to post a cash bond, is facing up to twenty years in prison if convicted on both counts. Her trial is set for May 24.

Writing from her jail cell, Reznicek, who has lived and worked at the Des Moines Catholic Worker for years, said she broke the windows as an act of conscience “in an effort to expose the details of the defense contracts currently held by Northrup Grumman with U.S. Strategic Air Command (STRATCOM) at Offutt Air Force Base. Over the years, billions of taxpayer dollars are pouring into the hands of these money-hungry, bomb-building, and computer geek space war criminals.”

Her letter continued, “Yes, glass did shatter. It shattered like the illusion that Northrop Grumman holds human life in any way in its best interest. It shattered like the illusion Iraq ever possessed weapons of mass destruction. It shattered like the illusion Iraqis were involved in 9/11. It shattered like the lie that perpetual war will ever bring peace. Glass shattered in the name of the hundreds of thousands of Iraqi lives taken when Northrop Grumman/STRATCOM’s direct bombs from space rained down upon them from space. I destroyed two windows and a door, yes! STRATCOM with its cooperate partner Northrop Grumman destroys life in the tens of thousands.”

“My intention was to be on the property and to do property destruction, that’s what I wanted to do,” Reznicek told a local television reporter via a jailhouse phone interview. “I didn’t want to hurt anybody. I didn’t want to scare anybody.”

Why Northrup Grumman? Northrup Grumman has been manufacturing weapons and weapon systems for profit for the US government for decades. Its primary customer is the US government which accounts for about 85 percent of its total sales every year. The massive corporation spends $10 to $20 million each year lobbying Congress according to the Center for Responsive Politics. In return it is one of the very top recipients of federal contracts year after year.

In October 2015 Northrup Grumman received the biggest prize of all, a $55 billion contract from the US to build 21 long range strike bombers. According to the Secretary of the Air Force, these bombers will “allow the Air Force to launch an airstrike from the continental US to anywhere in the world.”

USA Today included Northrup Grumman in its list of the ten companies profiting the most from war. The corporation recently reported it generated $2.6 billion in income and earned a profit of 12.9%. Its CEO makes more than $21 million a year. Board members are paid over $250,000 each per year and include several who passed through the revolving door of government like one high-ranking twenty year Democratic member of Congress, a General who was appointed by President Bush to be Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and an Admiral who was Chief of Naval Operations under President Bush.

Even in jail, Reznicek remains hopeful. “I want to say now that I truly believe that the American people are done with war – done funding, killing and dying in U.S.-led wars and terrorism – and are ready to pave a path to peace.”

“I acted in accordance with my conscience and my spirit and that my property destruction was a useful form of nonviolent direct action. I do not stand in judgment of folks who feel uncomfortable using such methods. Nonetheless, I want to stand beside them, asking them to develop and apply their own means to expose the lies of Northrop Grumman & STRATCOM be it through education, research, writing letters, public discussions, public vigils, rallies and marches and yes, even civil disobedience.

“We all have our part to play. Here in the heartland of America we who seek peace must make efforts to dismantle the U.S. military dominance of space from the top down, by publicly and nonviolently resisting the joint Northrup Grumman and STRATCOM missions.

“This is why I acted. You do not have to act as radically or dramatically as I did, but please make a statement in your own way against government funded companies which focus on war and destruction.

I’ll sit in jail for as long as I need to if it gets people talking.”

Fran Quigley is clinical professor and director of the Health and Human Rights Clinic at Indiana University McKinney School of Law.

February 9, 2016 Posted by | Militarism, Solidarity and Activism | , , | 2 Comments

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

The Perverse Rise of Killer Robots

By Cesar Chelala | CounterPunch | October 9, 2015

The development of “killer robots” is a new and original way of using human intelligence for perverse means. Human directing machines to kill and destroy in a scale not yet imagined is a concept that not even George Orwell could have imagined. In the meantime, the leading world powers continue their un-merry-go-round of destruction and death -mostly of innocent civilians- without stopping to consider the consequences of their actions.

Killer robots are fully autonomous weapons that can identify, select and engage targets without meaningful human control. Although fully developed weapons of this kind do not yet exist, the world leaders such as the U.S., the U.K, Israel, Russia, China and South Korea are already working on creating their precursors.

The U.S. Government Accountability Office reports that in 2012, 76 countries had some kind of drones, and 16 countries already possessed armed ones. The U.S. Department of Defense spends $6 billion every year on the research and development of better drones.

South Korea is presently using the Samsung Techwin security surveillance guard robots, which the country uses in the demilitarized zone it shares with North Korea. Although these units are currently operated by humans, the robots have an automatic feature that can detect body heat and fire a machine gun without human intervention.

Israel is developing an armed drone called Harop that could select targets with a special sensor. Northrop Grumman has also developed an autonomous drone called the X-47B which can travel on a preprogrammed flight path while being monitored by a pilot on a ship. It is planned to enter into active service by 2019. China is also moving rapidly in this area. In 2012 it already had 27 armed drone models, one of which is an autonomous air-to-air supersonic combat aircraft.

Killer robots follow the generation of drones and, as with drones, their potential use is also creating a host of human rights, legal and ethical issues. Military officials state that this kind of hardware protects human life by taking soldiers and pilots out of harm’s way. What they don’t say, however, is that the protected lives are those of the attacking armies, not those of the mostly civilians who are their targets, whose untimely deaths are euphemistically called collateral damage.

According to Denise Garcia, an expert in international law, four branches of internationally law have been used to limit violence in war: the law of state responsibility, the law on the use of force, international humanitarian law and human rights law. As currently carried out, U.S. drone strikes violate all of them.

From the ethical point of view, the use of these machines presents a moral dilemma: by allowing machines to make life-and death decisions we remove people’s responsibility for their actions and eliminate accountability. Lack of accountability almost ensures future human rights violations. In addition, many experts believe that the proliferation of autonomous weapons would make an arms race inevitable.

As the United Nations is trying to negotiate the future use of autonomous weapons, the U.S. and U.K. representatives want to support weaker rules that would prohibit future technology but not killer robots developed during the negotiating period. That delay would allow existing semi-autonomous prototypes to continue being used.

The need for a pre-emptive ban on the development and use of this kind of weapon is urgent. As Christof Heyns, the UN Special Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions stated recently, “If there is not a pre-emptive ban on the high-level autonomous weapons, then once the genie is out of the bottle it will be extremely difficult to get it back in.”


Dr. Cesar Chelala is an international public health consultant. He recently received the Cedar of Lebanon Gold Medal from the House of Lebanon in Tucuman, Argentina.

October 9, 2015 Posted by | War Crimes | , , , , | Leave a comment

Pentagon understated cost of new bomber by $25bn, blames ‘human error’

RT | August 31, 2015

Very little is known about the US Air Force’s new long-range strike bomber (LRSB) – including, apparently, the cost. Facing questions over a $25 billion discrepancy in development costs, the Pentagon blamed “human error” and shrugged it off as a “mistake.”

The LRSB project is intended to replace the aging and expensive US bomber fleet by the mid-2020s, at the cost of $500 million per plane. Two aerospace conglomerates, Northrop Grumman and Boeing-Lockheed Martin, are bidding for the contract.

Last year, the Air Force told Congress that the 10-year cost of developing the bomber, between 2015 and 2024, would be $33.1 billion. This year, however, the estimate for 2016-2026 rose to $58.2 billion. The 76 percent increase prompted Representative Jackie Speier (D-California), ranking minority member on the House Armed Services oversight and investigations subcommittee, to ask about the $25 billion gap.

“This sudden 76 percent increase in estimated cost is alarming, because it raises questions about the management of a crucial program that lacks transparency, on which we cannot afford serious cost overruns, development errors, and reduced production numbers that would deprive the United States of one of its core military capabilities,” wrote Speier.

The response from Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James only added to the confusion, by introducing another number to claim that the cost estimate hasn’t actually changed. According to James, the real figure was $41.7 billion all along.

“There has been no change in the costing factors over the last two years … it was a mistake. It was a regrettable mistake,” James said during a Pentagon press briefing last week. “It occurred in part because of human error and in part because of process error, meaning a couple of people got the figures wrong and the process of coordination was not fully carried out in this case.”

James said that senior officials have “counseled” the people involved, “tightened up” the process, corrected the price tag with Congress and double-checked all the other figures contained in the reports.

“The key thing is there has been no change in those cost figures,” she said.

Northrop Grumman was behind the B-2 ‘Spirit’ stealth bomber, manufactured between 1989 and 2000 at the cost of $737 million per plane. The total cost of the program stood at $45 billion in 2004. Only 16 B-2s are currently operational, and cost $135,000 per hour to fly, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Lockheed Martin has been catching flak over the cost overruns that have plagued the F-35, a fifth-generation strike fighter produced in three separate configurations for the Air Force, Navy and the US Marine Corps. By 2011 estimates, the US government was going to spend $1 trillion on the fleet of F-35s – $382 billion to buy 2,443 aircraft, and another $650 billion in operating expenses. That was more than the entire GDP of Australia at the time ($924 billion), according to The Atlantic. The costs have only gone up since, even as the F-35 failed combat tests to a 1970s design currently in service.

Lockheed also produced the F-22A Raptor, the current US air superiority fighter, between 1997 and 2011. Fewer than 200 Raptors were made, at a cost of $150 million each and the overall program cost of $66.7 billion as of 2011.

The contract for developing the LRSB was supposed to be awarded in June or July, but the Air Force has already missed that deadline. Unconfirmed reports from defense sources speak of a September or October announcement.

August 31, 2015 Posted by | Deception, Militarism | , , | Leave a comment

Bomb the Budget: US Stealth Bomber Financials Defy Laws of Physics

Sputnik – 19.08.2015

The US Air Force apparently made a ‘slight’ miscalculation worth several billions of dollars regarding the cost of research, procurement and support of its upcoming top-secret long-range bomber, according to media reports.

In 2014, in its annual report to the US Congress, the Air Force estimated the cost of the Long-Range Strike Bomber program between fiscal years 2015 through 2025 would be $33.1 billion. A year later however a similar report contained quite a different figure — $58.4 billion for fiscal 2016-2026.

In an attempt to explain this ‘minor’ discrepancy, Air Force officials claimed that both figures were in fact off the mark, with the correct numbers in both cases being $41.7 billion, according to Bloomberg.

US Air Force spokesperson Ed Gulick said in a statement that the program costs remained stable and that the service “is working through the appropriate processes to ensure” the report, requested by lawmakers is “corrected, and that our reports in subsequent years are accurate.”

The Air Force originally intended to award the development and production contract for the bomber in June or July, but eventually delayed the announcement until September. Currently, two entities, Northrop Grumman and a joint team of Lockheed Martin and Boeing, – are working to secure the contract.

The Pentagon intends to use the new stealth aircraft to bolster its aging bomber fleet. According to the US Air Force’s estimates, it would cost about $55 billion to construct up to 100 of the new bombers, with each aircraft being worth about $550 million.

August 19, 2015 Posted by | Corruption, Economics, Militarism | , , , , | Leave a comment