Everyone knows that the too big to fails and their dishonest and footsy-playing regulators and politicians are largely responsible for trashing the economy.
But the military-industrial complex shares much of the blame.
Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that the Iraq war will cost $3-5 trillion dollars.
Sure, experts say that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this. And we launched the Iraq war based on the false linkage of Saddam and 9/11, and knowingly false claims that Saddam had WMDs. And top British officials, former CIA director George Tenet, former Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill and many others say that the Iraq war was planned before 9/11. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
America is also spending a pretty penny in Afghanistan. The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.
With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.
Sure, the government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this). And the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden (see this and this). And we could have easily killed Bin Laden in 2001 and again in 2007, but chose not to, even though that would have saved the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in costs in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
by Ron Gaudio
Featured writer of The Liberty Voice
In the Old Testament, during the iron age, Israel was ruled by “judges.” These were men of character chosen to be itinerant judges, making circuit rides on donkeys throughout Israel to hear legal cases (1 Sam. 7:16-17) The governing principles of Israel were found in the Law of Moses, given to the Israelites several hundred years prior. People were expected to be self-governing, but there were judges available to hear cases when the need would arise. In times of war, these judges often led the nation into battle as generals. There was no draft, but troops would rally around the generals and were mustered as needed. Those who, for various reasons, did not want to fight, were exempted.
This form of government was a great blessing. The judges did not rule with iron-fisted authority, but led by example and provided moral authority by humbly applying God’s law to the people. Often, after a judge would die, the people would lapse into immorality and end up being oppressed by a foreign power until another judge was raised up. The people were to rule themselves according to the Law of Moses, with God as their King, but they needed the moral guidance of the judges. They were most free when they were most obedient to God’s law, and most oppressed when they deviated from that law.
Israel was unique in the ancient world, for all of the other nations had kings. Their constitutional theocracy stood in sharp contrast to the hereditary absolute monarchies of the other nations. Often, the men who were chosen to be judges, such as Gideon, were reluctant men who did not desire power. After Gideon led Israel to defeat the Midianites, he wanted to retire, but the people wanted to make him a king. Gideon’s response was striking:
“I will not rule over you, nor shall my son rule over you; the LORD shall rule over you.”
Here is an early instance in history of a person refusing to be crowned a king, but instead directing people back to God. Not only that, but he rejected any type of hereditary monarchy.
By David Swanson
The Liberty Voice guest contributor
hat tip: http://afterdowningstreet.org
The occupied government of Afghanistan and the United Nations have both concluded that U.S.-led troops recently dragged eight sleeping children out of their beds, handcuffed some of them, and shot them all dead. While this apparently constitutes an everyday act of kindness, far less intriguing than the vicious singeing of his pubic hairs by Captain Underpants, it is at least a variation on the ordinary American technique of murdering men, women, and children by the dozens with unmanned drones.
Also this week in Afghanistan, eight CIA assassins (see if you can find a more appropriate name for them) were murdered by a suicide bombing that one of them apparently executed against the other seven. The Taliban in Pakistan claims credit and describes the mass-murder as revenge for the CIA’s drone killings. And we thought unmanned drones were War Perfected because none of the right people would have to risk their lives. Oops. Perhaps Detroit-bound passengers risked theirs
The CIA has declared its intention to seek revenge for the suicide strike. Who knows what the assassination of sleeping students was revenge for. Perhaps the next lunatic to try blowing up something in the United States will be seeking revenge for whatever Obama does to avenge the victims (television viewers?) of the Crotch Crusader. Certainly there will be numerous more acts of violence driven by longings for revenge against the drone pilots and the shooters of students.
In a civilized world, the alternative to vengeance is justice. Often we can even set aside feelings of revenge as long as we are able to act so as to deter more crime. But at the same time that the puppet president of Afghanistan is demanding the arrest of the troops who shot the handcuffed children, the puppet government of Iraq is facing up to the refusal of the United States to seriously prosecute the Blackwater assassins of innocent Iraqis. Justice will not be permitted as an
alternative to vengeance — the mere idea is anti-American.
No one so much as blinks at the CIA’s avowal of vengeance for the recent suicide attack, never mind the illegality, because the entire illegal war on Afghanistan/Pakistan was launched and is still maintained as a pretended act of revenge for the crimes of 9-11. Of course, we’re not bombing the flight schools or the German and Spanish hotels. Of course, we admit that there are fewer than 100 members of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. Of course we openly seek massive permanent bases and an
oil pipeline. Of course, Obama’s decisions are all electoral calculations computed by the calculus of cowardice. Of course, we’re prosecuting the Butt Bomber as a criminal, just as we always used to
prosecute criminals as criminals. Of course, revenge would not be a legal justification for war even if we could persuade ourselves it was a sane one. But the war is publicly understood as revenge, the resistance by its victims is understood as revenge, the escalation is understood as revenge for the resistance, and an eye for an eye slowly makes the whole world blind.
By Rick Rozoff
hat tip: Global Research
December 31, 2009
January 1 will usher in the last year of the first decade of a new millennium and ten consecutive years of the United States conducting war in the Greater Middle East.
Beginning with the October 7, 2001 missile and bomb attacks on Afghanistan, American combat operations abroad have not ceased for a year, a month, a week or a day in the 21st century.
The Afghan war, the U.S.’s first air and ground conflict in Asia since the disastrous wars in Vietnam and Cambodia in the 1960s and early 1970s and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s first land war and Asian campaign, began during the end of the 2001 war in Macedonia launched from NATO-occupied Kosovo, one in which the role of U.S. military personnel is still to be properly exposed  and addressed and which led to the displacement of almost 10 percent of the nation’s population.
In the first case Washington invaded a nation in the name of combating terrorism; in the second it abetted cross-border terrorism. Similarly, in 1991 the U.S. and its Western allies attacked Iraqi forces in Kuwait and launched devastating and deadly cruise missile attacks and bombing sorties inside Iraq in the name of preserving the national sovereignty and territorial integrity of Kuwait, and in 1999 waged a 78-day bombing assault against Yugoslavia to override and fatally undermine the principles of territorial integrity and national sovereignty in the name of the casus belli of the day, so-called humanitarian intervention.
Two years later humanitarian war, as abhorrent an oxymoron as the world has ever witnessed, gave way to the global war on terror(ism), with the U.S. and its NATO allies again reversing course but continuing to wage wars of aggression and “wars of opportunity” as they saw fit, contradictions and logic, precedents and international law notwithstanding.
By Mike Whitney
Hat tip: Global Research
December 25, 2009
Mike Whitney—President Barack Obama recently visited Dover Air Force Base where he was photographed with the flag-draped coffins of soldiers who were killed in Afghanistan and Iraq. Why did Obama do this and what was your reaction?
Cindy Sheehan–”I think Obama did this as a publicity stunt and used the dead troops (that he was responsible for killing) as props to show that he “cares” about the troops. This stunt was in the middle of the “discussions” about how many more troops to send to Afghanistan (after he has already sent about 35,000).
It made me sick.
MW—On Thursday, on orders from President Obama, the US military launched cruise missile attacks on Yemen which were followed by raids by the Yemeni Security forces. An estimated 120 people were killed. Obama’s actions indicate that he accepts the Bush Doctrine, that he thinks the US has the right to assassinate people without due process on the mere suspicion they may be linked to a terrorist organization. Is Obama right? Does the US need to be more aggressive in the “post 9-11″ world?
Cindy Sheehan—And Obama reiterated this doctrine during his Nobel acceptance speech–which some are calling the “Obama Doctrine” now.
No, I do not agree with these extra-legal executions. I do not agree that the CIA can be jury, judge and executioner in Pakistan and indiscriminately kill people with their drones.
I adamantly disagree with the doctrine of “pre-emptive” strikes or invasions and I don’t agree that they keep Americans “safer” and, even if they did, innocent people are getting caught in the crossfire and we are creating enemies that we will never be able to kill.
“Raging Moderate”, by Will Durst
The best part of a long-term Afghanistan occupation is there’s no shame in failing, since we’ll be joining so many other proud names on such a very long list. The worst part of a long-term occupation of Afghanistan is the many moons it’s going to take for us to figure that out. And according to the president, we should input that online calendar repeating entry until summer of 2011. Minimum.
It took the president 33 minutes in front of a crowd of acutely attentive West Point Cadets to explain the ins and outs of our upcoming Afghan escalation. The Second Surge. He painstakingly detailed how absolutely necessary it is that we go in and support these fine tribal folk who wouldn’t know democracy if it climbed up their pants on a three-legged camel and peed down their leg.
He went on to stress that while understanding about the whole getting-in is important, it is even more imperative that we are cognizant of how vital it is that we also get out. And fast. Not as fast as we’re going in, mind you, but we got to get out quicker than you can say “Hey, everybody, its opium poppy harvest time again.” A bit of the old in-out, in-out. You could call it the Clockwork Orange Speech.
Kudos to the White House for breaking new ground. Never has an administration set this country on course to fight a war with an expiration date. Constrained hostilities. A mini serious. Its an innovative strategy. A refrigerated war with a sell-by stamp, like a pint of lox schmear. An evanescent ruckus. Tiny carnage. From now on, let’s just call it The War-ette. A cursory confrontation cramped by a clock. Or in this case, a sundial.
By Webster G. Tarpley
Washington DC, Dec. 11 — Obama’s West Point speech of December 1 represents far more than the obvious brutal escalation in Afghanistan — it is nothing less than a declaration of all-out war by the United States against Pakistan. This is a brand-new war, a much wider war now targeting Pakistan, a country of 160 million people armed with nuclear weapons. In the process, Afghanistan is scheduled to be broken up. This is no longer the Bush Cheney Afghan war we have known in the past. This is something immensely bigger: the attempt to destroy the Pakistani central government in Islamabad and to sink that country into a chaos of civil war, Balkanization, subdivision and general mayhem. The chosen strategy is to massively export the Afghan civil war into Pakistan and beyond, fracturing Pakistan along ethnic lines. It is an oblique war using fourth-generation or guerrilla warfare techniques to assail a country which the United States and its associates in aggression are far too weak to attack directly. In this war, the Taliban are employed as US proxies. This aggression against Pakistan is Obama’s attempt to wage the Great Game against the hub of Central Asia and Eurasia or more generally.
US DETERRED FROM OPEN WAR BY PAKISTAN’S NUKES
The ongoing civil war in Afghanistan is merely a pretext, a cover story designed to provide the United States with a springboard for a geopolitical destabilization campaign in the entire region which cannot be publicly avowed. In the blunt cynical world of imperialist aggression à la Bush and Cheney, a pretext might have been manufactured to attack Pakistan directly. But Pakistan is far too large and the United States is far too weak and too bankrupt for such an undertaking. In addition, Pakistan is a nuclear power, possessing atomic bombs and medium range missiles needed to deliver them. What we are seeing is a novel case of nuclear deterrence in action. The US cannot send an invasion fleet or set up airbases nearby because Pakistani nuclear weapons might destroy them. To this extent, the efforts of Ali Bhutto and A.Q. Khan to provide Pakistan a deterrent capability have been vindicated. But the US answer is to find ways to attack Pakistan below the nuclear threshold, and even below the conventional threshold. This is where the tactic of exporting the Afghan civil war to Pakistan comes in.
By Chris Hedges
Hat tip: opednews.com
War memorials and museums are temples to the god of war. The hushed voices, the well-tended grass, the flapping of the flags allow us to ignore how and why our young died. They hide the futility and waste of war. They sanitize the savage instruments of death that turn young soldiers and Marines into killers, and small villages in Vietnam or Afghanistan or Iraq into hellish bonfires. There are no images in these memorials of men or women with their guts hanging out of their bellies, screaming pathetically for their mothers. We do not see mangled corpses being shoved in body bags. There are no sights of children burned beyond recognition or moaning in horrible pain. There are no blind and deformed wrecks of human beings limping through life. War, by the time it is collectively remembered, is glorified and heavily censored.
I blame our war memorials and museums, our popular war films and books, for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as much as George W. Bush. They provide the mental images and historical references to justify new conflicts. We equate Saddam Hussein with Adolf Hitler. We see al-Qaida as a representation of Nazi evil. We view ourselves as eternal liberators. These plastic representations of war reconfigure the past in light of the present. War memorials and romantic depictions of war are the social and moral props used to create the psychological conditions to wage new wars.
War memorials are quiet, still, reverential and tasteful. And, like church, such sanctuaries are important, but they allow us to forget that these men and women were used and often betrayed by those who led the nation into war. The memorials do not tell us that some always grow rich from large-scale human suffering. They do not explain that politicians play the great games of world power and stoke fear for their own advancement. They forget that young men and women in uniform are pawns in the hands of cynics, something Pat Tillman’s family sadly discovered. They do not expose the ignorance, raw ambition and greed that are the engine of war.
by John Pilger
hat tip: Dissident Voice
September 2nd, 2009
The following article is the text from John Pilger’s address to Socialism 2009 in San Francisco, California on 4 July.
Two years ago, at Socialism 2007 in Chicago, I spoke about an “invisible government,” a term used by Edward Bernays, one of the founders of modern propaganda. It was Bernays who, in the 1920s, invented “public relations” as a euphemism for propaganda. Deploying the ideas of his uncle, Sigmund Freud, Bernays campaigned on behalf of the tobacco industry for American women to take up smoking as an act of feminist liberation; he called cigarettes “torches of freedom.”
The invisible government that Bernays had in mind brought together the power of all media — PR, the press, broadcasting, advertising. It was the power of form: of branding and image-making over substance and truth — and I would like to talk today about this invisible government’s most recent achievement: the rise of Barack Obama and the silencing of the left.
First, I would like to go back some 40 years to a sultry day in Vietnam.
I was a young war correspondent who had just arrived in a village called Tuylon. My assignment was to write about a company of US Marines who had been sent to this village to win hearts and minds.
“My orders”, said the Marine sergeant, “are to sell the American Way of Liberty as stated in the Pacification Handbook. This is designed to win the hearts and minds of folks as stated on page 86.” Page 86 was headed WHAM: Winning Hearts and Minds. The marine unit was a Combined Action Company which, explained the sergeant, “means that we attack these folks on Mondays and win their hearts and minds on Tuesdays”. He was joking, though not quite.
The sergeant, who didn’t speak Vietnamese, had arrived in the village, stood up in a jeep and said through a bullhorn: “Come on out everybody, we got rice and candy and toothbrushes to give you!…”
There was silence.