Archive for the ‘Militarism’ Category

War Immemorial Day – No Peace for Militarized U.S.

May 29, 2008

War Immemorial Day – No Peace for Militarized U.S.

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Memorial Day is not actually a day to pray for U.S. troops who died in action but rather a day set aside by Congress to pray for peace.   The 1950 Joint Resolution of Congress which created Memorial Day says:  “Requesting the President to issue a proclamation designating May 30, Memorial Day, as a day for a Nation-wide prayer for peace.” (64 Stat.158).

Peace today is a nearly impossible challenge for the United States.  The U.S. is far and away the most militarized country in the world and the most aggressive.  Unless the U.S. dramatically reduces its emphasis on global military action, there will be many, many more families grieving on future Memorial days.

The U.S. spends over $600 billion annually on our military, more than the rest of the world combined.  China, our nearest competitor, spends about one-tenth of what we spend.  The U.S. also sells more weapons to other countries than any other nation in the world.

The U.S. has about 700 military bases in 130 countries world-wide and another 6000 bases in the US and our territories, according to Chalmers Johnson in his excellent book NEMESIS: THE LAST DAYS OF THE AMERICAN REPUBLIC (2007).

The Department of Defense (DOD) reports nearly 1.4 million active duty military personnel today.   Over a quarter of a million are in other countries from Iraq and Afghanistan to Europe, North Africa, South Asia and the rest of the Western Hemisphere. The DOD also employs more than 700,000 civilian employees.

The US has used its armed forces abroad over 230 times according to researchers at the Department of the Navy Historical Center.  Their publications list over 60 military efforts outside the U.S. since World War II.

While the focus of most of the Memorial Day activities will be on U.S. military dead, no effort is made to try to identify or remember the military or civilians of other countries who have died in the same actions.  For example, the U.S. government reports 432 U.S. military dead in Afghanistan and surrounding areas, but has refused to disclose civilian casualties.  “We don’t do body counts,” General Tommy Franks said.

Most people know of the deaths in World War I – 116,000 U.S. soldiers killed.  But how many in the U.S. know that over 8 million soldiers from other countries and perhaps another 8 million civilians also died during World War II?

By World War II, about 408,000 U.S. soldiers were killed.  World-wide, at least another 20 million soldiers and civilians died.

The U.S. is not only the largest and most expensive military on the planet but it is also the most active.  Since World War II, the U.S. has used U.S. military force in the following countries:

1947-1949 Greece.  Over 500 U.S. armed forces military advisers were sent into Greece to administer hundreds of millions of dollars in their civil war.

1947-1949 Turkey.  Over 400 U.S. armed forces military advisers sent into Turkey,

1950-1953 Korea.  In the Korean War and other global conflicts 54,246 U.S. service members died.

1957-1975 Vietnam.  Over 58,219 U.S. killed.

1958-1984 Lebanon.  Sixth Fleet amphibious Marines and U.S. Army troops landed in Beirut during their civil war. Over 3000 U.S. military participated. 268 U.S. military killed in bombing.

1959 Haiti. U.S. troops, Marines and Navy, land in Haiti and joined in support of military dictator Francois “Papa Doc” Duvalier against rebels.

1962 Cuba.  Naval and Marine forces blockade island.

1964 Panama.  U.S. troops stationed there since 1903. U.S. troops used gunfire and tear gas to clear US Canal Zone.

1965-1966 Dominican Republic. U.S. troops land in Dominican Republic during their civil war – eventually 23,000 were stationed in their country.

1969-1975 Cambodia. U.S. and South Vietnam jets dropped more than 539,000 tons of bombs on Cambodia – three times the number dropped on Japan during WWII.

1964-1973 Laos. U.S. flew 580,000 bombing runs over country – more than 2 million tons of bombs dropped – double the amount dropped on Nazi Germany.  US dropped more than 80 million cluster bombs on Laos – 10 to 30% did not explode leaving 8 to 24 million scattered across the country.  Since the war stopped, two or three Laotians are killed every month by leftover bombs – over 5700 killed since bombing stopped.

1980 Iran.  Operation Desert One, 8 U.S. troops die in rescue effort.

1981 Libya.  U.S. planes aboard the Nimitz shot down 2 Libyan jets over Gulf of Sidra.

1983 Grenada. U.S. Army and Marines invade, 19 U.S. killed.

1983 Lebanon.  Over 1200 Marines deployed into country during their civil war. 241 U.S. service members killed in bombing.

1983-1991 El Salvador.  Over 150 US soldiers participate in their civil war as military advisers.

1983  Honduras.  Over 1000 troops and National Guard members deployed into Honduras to help the contra fight against Nicaragua.

1986 Libya. U.S. Naval air strikes hit hundreds of targets – airfields, barracks, and defense networks.

1986 Bolivia. U.S. Army troops assist in anti-drug raids on cocaine growers.

1987 Iran.  Operation Nimble Archer.  U.S. warships shelled two Iranian oil platforms during Iran-Iraq war.

1988 Iran. US naval warship Vincennes in Persian Gulf shoots down Iranian passenger airliner, Airbus A300, killing all 290 people on board.  US said it thought it was Iranian military jet.

1989 Libya. U.S. Naval jets shoot down 2 Libyan jets over Mediterranean

1989-1990 Panama.  U.S. Army, Air Force, and Navy forces invade Panama to arrest President Manuel Noriega on drug charges.  U.N. puts civilian death toll at 500.

1989 Philippines. U.S. jets provide air cover to Philippine troops during their civil war.

1991 Gulf War. Over 500,000 U.S. military involved.  700 plus U.S. died.

1992-93 Somalia. Operation Provide Relief, Operation Restore Hope, and Operation Continue Hope.  Over 1300 U.S. Marines and Army Special Forces landed in 1992.  A force of over 10,000 US was ultimately involved.   Over 40 U.S. soldiers killed.

1992-96 Yugoslavia.  U.S. Navy joins in naval blockade of Yugoslavia in Adriatic waters.

1993 Bosnia. Operation Deny Flight.  U.S. jets patrol no-fly zone, naval ships launch cruise missiles, attack Bosnian Serbs.

1994 Haiti. Operation Uphold Democracy.  U.S. led force of 20,000 troops invade to restore president.

1995 Saudi Arabia. U.S. soldier killed in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia outside US training facility.

1996 Saudi Arabia.  Nineteen U.S. service personnel die in blast at Saudi Air Base.

1998 Sudan. Operation Infinite Reach.  U.S. cruise missiles fired at pharmaceutical plant thought to be terrorist center.

1998 Afghanistan.  Operation Infinite Reach.  U.S. fires 75 cruise missiles on four training camps.

1998 Iraq. Operation Desert Fox.  U.S. Naval bombing Iraq from striker jets and cruise missiles after weapons inspectors report Iraqi obstructions.

1999 Yugoslavia.  U.S. participates in months of air bombing and cruise missile strikes in Kosovo war.

2000 Yemen. 17 U.S. sailors killed aboard US Navy guided missile destroyer USS Cole docked in Aden, Yemen.

2001 Macedonia. U.S. military lands troops during their civil war.

2001 to present Afghanistan. Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) includes Pakistan and Uzbekistan with Afghanistan. 432 U.S. killed in those countries.  Another 64 killed in other locations of OEF – Guantanamo Bay, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Jordan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Philippines, Seychelles, Sudan, Tajikistan, Turkey and Yemen.  US military does not count deaths of non- US civilians, but estimates of over 8000 Afghan troops killed, over 3500 Afghan civilians killed.

2002 Yemen.  U.S. predator drone missile attack on Al Qaeda.

2002 Philippines. U.S. sends over 1800 troops and Special Forces in mission with local military.

2003-2004 Colombia. U.S. sends in 800 military to back up Columbian military troops in their civil war.

2003 to present Iraq.  Operation Iraqi Freedom. 4082 U.S. military killed.  British medical journal Lancet estimates over 90,000 civilian deaths.  Iraq Body Count estimates over 84,000 civilians killed.

2005 Haiti. U.S. troops land in Haiti after elected president forced to leave.

2005 Pakistan. U.S. air strikes inside Pakistan against suspected Al Qaeda, killing mostly civilians.

2007 Somalia. U.S. Air Force gunship attacked suspected Al Qaeda members, U.S. Navy joins in blockade against Islamic rebels.

The U.S. has the most powerful and expensive military force in the world.  The U.S. is the biggest arms merchant. And the U.S. has been the most aggressive in world-wide interventions.   If Memorial Day in the U.S. is supposed to be about praying for peace, the U.S. has a lot of praying (and changing) to do.

Bill is a human rights lawyer and law professor at Loyola University New Orleans.  His email is quigley77@gmail.com

Entrenched, Embedded, and Here to Stay

May 29, 2008

Entrenched, Embedded, and Here to Stay

By Frida Berrigan
Source: TomDispatch

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A full-fledged cottage industry is already focused on those who eagerly await the end of the Bush administration, offering calendars, magnets, and t-shirts for sale as well as counters and graphics to download onto blogs and websites. But when the countdown ends and George W. Bush vacates the Oval Office, he will leave a legacy to contend with. Certainly, he wills to his successor a world marred by war and battered by deprivation, but perhaps his most enduring legacy is now deeply embedded in Washington-area politics — a Pentagon metastasized almost beyond recognition.

The Pentagon’s massive bulk-up these last seven years will not be easily unbuilt, no matter who dons the presidential mantle on January 19, 2009. “The Pentagon” is now so much more than a five-sided building across the Potomac from Washington or even the seat of the Department of Defense. In many ways, it defies description or labeling.

Who, today, even remembers the debate at the end of the Cold War about what role U.S. military power should play in a “unipolar” world? Was U.S. supremacy so well established, pundits were then asking, that Washington could rely on softer economic and cultural power, with military power no more than a backup (and a domestic “peace dividend” thrown into the bargain)? Or was the U.S. to strap on the six-guns of a global sheriff and police the world as the fountainhead of “humanitarian interventions”? Or was it the moment to boldly declare ourselves the world’s sole superpower and wield a high-tech military comparable to none, actively discouraging any other power or power bloc from even considering future rivalry?

The attacks of September 11, 2001 decisively ended that debate. The Bush administration promptly declared total war on every front — against peoples, ideologies, and, above all, “terrorism” (a tactic of the weak). That very September, administration officials proudly leaked the information that they were ready to “target” up to 60 other nations and the terrorist movements within them.

The Pentagon’s “footprint” was to be firmly planted, military base by military base, across the planet, with a special emphasis on its energy heartlands. Top administration officials began preparing the Pentagon to go anywhere and do anything, while rewriting, shredding, or ignoring whatever laws, national or international, stood in the way. In 2002, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld officially articulated a new U.S. military posture that, in conception, was little short of revolutionary. It was called — in classic Pentagon shorthand — the 1-4-2-1 Defense Strategy (replacing the Clinton administration’s already none-too-modest plan to be prepared to fight two major wars — in the Middle East and Northeast Asia — simultaneously).

Theoretically, this strategy meant that the Pentagon was to prepare to defend the United States, while building forces capable of deterring aggression and coercion in four “critical regions” (Europe, Northeast Asia, East Asia, and the Middle East). It would be able to defeat aggression in two of these regions simultaneously and “win decisively” in one of those conflicts “at a time and place of our choosing.” Hence 1-4-2-1.

And that was just going to be the beginning. We had, by then, already entered the new age of the Mega-Pentagon. Almost six years later, the scale of that institution’s expansion has yet to be fully grasped, so let’s look at just seven of the major ways in which the Pentagon has experienced mission creep — and leap — dwarfing other institutions of government in the process.

1. The Budget-busting Pentagon: The Pentagon’s core budget — already a staggering $300 billion when George W. Bush took the presidency — has almost doubled while he’s been parked behind the big desk in the Oval Office. For fiscal year 2009, the regular Pentagon budget will total roughly $541 billion (including work on nuclear warheads and naval reactors at the Department of Energy).

The Bush administration has presided over one of the largest military buildups in the history of the United States. And that’s before we even count “war spending.” If the direct costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, as well as the Global War on Terror, are factored in, “defense” spending has essentially tripled.

As of February 2008, according to the Congressional Budget Office, lawmakers have appropriated $752 billion for the Iraq war and occupation, ongoing military operations in Afghanistan, and other activities associated with the Global War on Terror. The Pentagon estimates that it will need another $170 billion for fiscal 2009, which means, at $922 billion, that direct war spending since 2001 would be at the edge of the trillion-dollar mark.

As New York Times columnist Bob Herbert has pointed out, if a stack of bills roughly six inches high is worth $1 million; then, a $1 billion stack would be as tall as the Washington Monument, and a $1 trillion stack would be 95 miles high. And note that none of these war-fighting funds are even counted as part of the annual military budget, but are raised from Congress in the form of “emergency supplementals” a few times a year.

With the war added to the Pentagon’s core budget, the United States now spends nearly as much on military matters as the rest of the world combined. Military spending also throws all other parts of the federal budget into shadow, representing 58 cents of every dollar spent by the federal government on “discretionary programs” (those that Congress gets to vote up or down on an annual basis).

The total Pentagon budget represents more than our combined spending on education, environmental protection, justice administration, veteran’s benefits, housing assistance, transportation, job training, agriculture, energy, and economic development. No wonder, then, that, as it collects ever more money, the Pentagon is taking on (or taking over) ever more functions and roles.

2. The Pentagon as Diplomat: The Bush administration has repeatedly exhibited its disdain for discussion and compromise, treaties and agreements, and an equally deep admiration for what can be won by threat and force. No surprise, then, that the White House’s foreign policy agenda has increasingly been directed through the military. With a military budget more than 30 times that of all State Department operations and non-military foreign aid put together, the Pentagon has marched into State’s two traditional strongholds — diplomacy and development — duplicating or replacing much of its work, often by refocusing Washington’s diplomacy around military-to-military, rather than diplomat-to-diplomat, relations.

Since the late eighteenth century, the U.S. ambassador in any country has been considered the president’s personal representative, responsible for ensuring that foreign policy goals are met. As one ambassador explained; “The rule is: if you’re in country, you work for the ambassador. If you don’t work for the ambassador, you don’t get country clearance.”

In the Bush era, the Pentagon has overturned this model. According to a 2006 Congressional report by Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN), Embassies as Command Posts in the Anti-Terror Campaign, civilian personnel in many embassies now feel occupied by, outnumbered by, and subordinated to military personnel. They see themselves as the second team when it comes to decision-making. Even Defense Secretary Robert Gates is aware of the problem, noting as he did last November that there are “only about 6,600 professional Foreign Service officers — less than the manning for one aircraft carrier strike group.” But, typically, he added that, while the State Department might need more resources, “Don’t get me wrong, I’ll be asking for yet more money for Defense next year.” Another ambassador lamented that his foreign counterparts are “following the money” and developing relationships with U.S. military personnel rather than cultivating contacts with their State Department counterparts.

The Pentagon invariably couches its bureaucratic imperialism in terms of “interagency cooperation.” For example, last year U.S. Southern Command (Southcom) released Command Strategy 2016, a document which identified poverty, crime, and corruption as key “security” problems in Latin America. It suggested that Southcom, a security command, should, in fact, be the “central actor in addressing… regional problems” previously the concern of civilian agencies. It then touted itself as the future focus of a “joint interagency security command… in support of security, stability and prosperity in the region.”

As Southcom head Admiral James Stavridis vividly put the matter, the command now likes to see itself as “a big Velcro cube that these other agencies can hook to so we can collectively do what needs to be done in this region.”

The Pentagon has generally followed this pattern globally since 2001. But what does “cooperation” mean when one entity dwarfs all others in personnel, resources, and access to decision-makers, while increasingly controlling the very definition of the “threats” to be dealt with.

3. The Pentagon as Arms Dealer: In the Bush years, the Pentagon has aggressively increased its role as the planet’s foremost arms dealer, pumping up its weapons sales everywhere it can — and so seeding the future with war and conflict.

By 2006 (the last year for which full data is available), the United States alone accounted for more than half the world’s trade in arms with $14 billion in sales. Noteworthy were a $5 billion deal for F-16s to Pakistan and a $5.8 billion agreement to completely reequip Saudi Arabia’s internal security force. U.S. arms sales for 2006 came in at roughly twice the level of any previous year of the Bush administration.

Number two arms dealer, Russia, registered a comparatively paltry $5.8 billion in deliveries, just over a third of the U.S. arms totals. Ally Great Britain was third at $3.3 billion — and those three countries account for a whopping 85% of the weaponry sold that year, more than 70% of which went to the developing world.

Great at selling weapons, the Pentagon is slow to report its sales. Arms sales notifications issued by the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA) do, however, offer one crude way to the take the Department of Defense’s pulse; and, while not all reported deals are finalized, that pulse is clearly racing. Through May of 2008, DSCA had already issued more than $9.1 billion in arms sales notifications including smart bomb kits for Saudi Arabia, TOW missiles for Kuwait, F-16 combat aircraft for Romania, and Chinook helicopters for Canada.

To maintain market advantage, the Pentagon never stops its high-pressure campaigns to peddle weapons abroad. That’s why, despite a broken shoulder, Secretary of Defense Gates took to the skies in February, to push weapons systems on countries like India and Indonesia, key growing markets for Pentagon arms dealers.

4. The Pentagon as Intelligence Analyst and Spy: In the area of “intelligence,” the Pentagon’s expansion — the commandeering of information and analysis roles — has been swift, clumsy, and catastrophic.

Tracing the Pentagon’s take-over of intelligence is no easy task. For one thing, there are dozens of Pentagon agencies and offices that now collect and analyze information using everything from “humint” (human intelligence) to wiretaps and satellites. The task is only made tougher by the secrecy that surrounds U.S. intelligence operations and the “black budgets” into which so much intelligence money disappears.

But the end results are clear enough. The Pentagon’s takeover of intelligence has meant fewer intelligence analysts who speak Arabic, Farsi, or Pashto and more dog-and-pony shows like those four-star generals and three-stripe admirals mouthing administration-approved talking points on cable news and the Sunday morning talk shows.

Intelligence budgets are secret, so what we know about them is not comprehensive — but the glimpses analysts have gotten suggest that total intelligence spending was about $26 billion a decade ago. After 9/11, Congress pumped a lot of new money into intelligence so that by 2003, the total intelligence budget had already climbed to more than $40 billion.

In 2004, the 9/11 Commission highlighted the intelligence failures of the Central Intelligence Agency and others in the alphabet soup of the U.S. Intelligence Community charged with collecting and analyzing information on threats to the country. Congress then passed an intelligence “reform” bill, establishing the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, designed to manage intelligence operations. Thanks to stiff resistance from pro-military lawmakers, the National Intelligence Directorate never assumed that role, however, and the Pentagon kept control of three key collection agencies — the National Security Agency, the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, and the National Reconnaissance Agency.

As a result, according to Tim Shorrock, investigative journalist and author of Spies for Hire: The Secret World of Intelligence Outsourcing, the Pentagon now controls more than 80% of U.S. intelligence spending, which he estimated at about $60 billion in 2007. As Mel Goodman, former CIA official and now an analyst at the Center for International Policy, observed, “The Pentagon has been the big bureaucratic winner in all of this.”

It is such a big winner that CIA Director Michael Hayden now controls only the budget for the CIA itself — about $4 or 5 billion a year and no longer even gives the President his daily helping of intelligence.

The Pentagon’s intelligence shadow looms large well beyond the corridors of Washington’s bureaucracies. It stretches across the mountains of Afghanistan as well. After the U.S. invaded that country in 2001, Defense Secretary Rumsfeld recognized that, unless the Pentagon controlled information-gathering and took the lead in carrying out covert operations, it would remain dependent on — and therefore subordinate to — the Central Intelligence Agency with its grasp of “on-the-ground” intelligence.

In one of his now infamous memos, labeled “snowflakes” by a staff that watched them regularly flutter down from on high, he asserted that, if the War on Terror was going to stretch far into the future, he did not want to continue the Pentagon’s “near total dependence on the CIA.” And so Rumsfeld set up a new, directly competitive organization, the Pentagon’s Strategic Support Branch, which put the intelligence gathering components of the U.S. Special Forces under one roof reporting directly to him. (Many in the intelligence community saw the office as illegitimate, but Rumsfeld was riding high and they were helpless to do anything.)

As Seymour Hersh, who repeatedly broke stories in the New Yorker on the Pentagon’s misdeeds in the Global War on Terror, wrote in January 2005, the Bush administration had already “consolidated control over the military and intelligence communities’ strategic analyses and covert operations to a degree unmatched since the rise of the post-Second World War II national-security state.”

In the rush to invade Iraq, the civilians running the Pentagon also fused the administration’s propaganda machine with military intelligence. In 2002, Undersecretary of Defense Douglas Feith established the Office of Special Plans (OSP) in the Pentagon to provide “actionable information” to White House policymakers. Using existing intelligence reports “scrubbed” of qualifiers like “probably” or “may,” or sometimes simply fabricated ones, the office was able to turn worst-case scenarios about Saddam Hussein’s supposed programs to develop weapons of mass destruction into fact, and then, through leaks, use the news media to validate them.

Former CIA Director Robert Gates, who took over the Pentagon when Donald Rumsfeld resigned in November 2006, has been critical of the Pentagon’s “dominance” in intelligence and “the decline in the CIA’s central role.” He has also signaled his intention to rollback the Pentagon’s long intelligence shadow; but, even if he is serious, he will have his work cut out for him. In the meantime, the Pentagon continues to churn out “intelligence” which is, politely put, suspect — from torture-induced confessions of terrorism suspects to exposés of the Iranian origins of sophisticated explosive devices found in Iraq.

5. The Pentagon as Domestic Disaster Manager: When the deciders in Washington start seeing the Pentagon as the world’s problem solver, strange things happen. In fact, in the Bush years, the Pentagon has become the official first responder of last resort in case of just about any disaster — from tornadoes, hurricanes, and floods to civil unrest, potential outbreaks of disease, or possible biological or chemical attacks. In 2002, in a telltale sign of Pentagon mission creep, President Bush established the first domestic military command since the civil war, the U.S. Northern Command (Northcom). Its mission: the “preparation for, prevention of, deterrence of, preemption of, defense against, and response to threats and aggression directed towards U.S. territory, sovereignty, domestic population, and infrastructure; as well as crisis management, consequence management, and other domestic civil support.”

If it sounds like a tall order, it is.

In the last six years, Northcom has been remarkably unsuccessful at anything but expanding its theoretical reach. The command was initially assigned 1,300 Defense Department personnel, but has since grown into a force of more than 15,000. Even criticism only seems to strengthen its domestic role. For example, an April 2008 Government Accountability Office report found that Northcom had failed to communicate effectively with state and local leaders or National Guard units about its newly developed disaster and terror response plans. The result? Northcom says it will have its first brigade-sized unit of military personnel trained to help local authorities respond to chemical, biological, or nuclear incidents by this fall. Mark your calendars.

More than anything else, Northcom has provided the Pentagon with the opening it needed to move forcefully into domestic disaster areas previously handled by national, state and local civilian authorities.

For example, Northcom’s deputy director, Brigadier General Robert Felderman, boasts that the command is now the United States’s “global synchronizer — the global coordinator — for pandemic influenza across the combatant commands.” Similarly, Northcom is now hosting annual hurricane preparation conferences and assuring anyone who will listen that it is “prepared to fully engage” in future Katrina-like situations “in order to save lives, reduce suffering and protect infrastructure.”

Of course, at present, the Pentagon is the part of the government gobbling up the funds that might otherwise be spent shoring up America’s Depression-era public works, ensuring that the Pentagon will have failure aplenty to respond to in the future.

The American Society for Civil Engineers, for example, estimates that $1.6 trillion is badly needed to bring the nation’s infrastructure up to protectable snuff, or $320 billion a year for the next five years. Assessing present water systems, roads, bridges, and dams nationwide, the engineers gave the infrastructure a series of C and D grades.

In the meantime, the military is marching in. Katrina, for instance, made landfall on August 29, 2005. President Bush ordered troops deployed to New Orleans on September 2nd to coordinate the delivery of food and water and to serve as a deterrent against looting and violence. Less than a month later, President Bush asked Congress to shift responsibility for major future disasters from state governments and the Department of Homeland Security to the Pentagon.

The next month, President Bush again offered the military as his solution — this time to global fears about outbreaks of the avian flu virus. He suggested that, to enforce a quarantine, “One option is the use of the military that’s able to plan and move.”

Already sinking under the weight of its expansion and two draining wars, many in the military have been cool to such suggestions, as has a Congress concerned about maintaining states’ rights and civilian control. Offering the military as the solution to domestic natural disasters and flu outbreaks means giving other first responders the budgetary short shrift. It is unlikely, however, that Northcom, now riding the money train, will go quietly into oblivion in the years to come.

6. The Pentagon as Humanitarian Caregiver Abroad: The U.S. Agency for International Development and the State Department have traditionally been tasked with responding to disaster abroad; but, from Indonesia’s tsunami-ravaged shores to Myanmar after the recent cyclone, natural catastrophe has become another presidential opportunity to “send in the Marines” (so to speak). The Pentagon has increasingly taken up humanitarian planning, gaining an ever larger share of U.S. humanitarian missions abroad.

From Kenya to Afghanistan, from the Philippines to Peru, the U.S. military is also now regularly the one building schools and dental clinics, repairing roads and shoring up bridges, tending to sick children and doling out much needed cash and food stuffs, all civilian responsibilities once upon a time.

The Center for Global Development finds that the Pentagon’s share of “official development assistance” — think “winning hearts and minds” or “nation-building” – has increased from 6% to 22% between 2002 and 2005. The Pentagon is fast taking over development from both the NGO-community and civilian agencies, slapping a smiley face on military operations in Iraq, Afghanistan, and beyond.

Despite the obvious limitations of turning a force trained to kill and destroy into a cadre of caregivers, the Pentagon’s mili-humanitarian project got a big boost from the cash that was seized from Saddam Hussein’s secret coffers. Some of it was doled out to local American commanders to be used to deal with immediate Iraqi needs and seal deals in the months after Baghdad fell in April 2003. What was initially an ad hoc program now has an official name — the Commander Emergency Response Program (CERP) — and a line in the Pentagon budget.

Before the House Budget Committee last summer, Gordon England, the Deputy Secretary of Defense, told members of Congress that the CERP was a “particularly effective initiative,” explaining that the program provided “limited but immediately available funds” to military commanders which they could spend “to make a concrete difference in people’s daily lives.” This, he claimed, was now a “key part of the broader counter insurgency approach.” He added that it served the purpose of “complementing security initiatives” and that it was so successful many commanders consider it “the most powerful weapon in their arsenal.”

In fact, the Pentagon doesn’t do humanitarian work very well. In Afghanistan, for instance, food-packets dropped by U.S. planes were the same color as the cluster munitions also dropped by U.S. planes; while schools and clinics built by U.S. forces often became targets before they could even be put into use. In Iraq, money doled out to the Pentagon’s sectarian-group-of-the-week for wells and generators turned out to be just as easily spent on explosives and AK-47s.

7. The Pentagon as Global Viceroy and Ruler of the Heavens: In the Bush years, the Pentagon finished dividing the globe into military “commands,” which are functionally viceroyalties. True, even before 9/11, it was hard to imagine a place on the globe where the United States military was not, but until recently, the continent of Africa largely qualified.

Along with the creation of Northcom, however, the establishment of the U.S. Africa Command (Africom) in 2008 officially filled in the last Pentagon empty spot on the map. A key military document, the 2006 National Security Strategy for the United States signaled the move, asserting that “Africa holds growing geo-strategic importance and is a high-priority of this administration.” (Think: oil and other key raw materials.)

In the meantime, funding for Africa under the largest U.S. military aid program, Foreign Military Financing, doubled from $10 to $20 million between 2000 and 2006, and the number of recipient nations grew from two to 14. Military training funding increased by 35% in that same period (rising from $8.1 million to $11 million). Now, the militaries of 47 African nations receive U.S. training.

In Pentagon planning terms, Africom has unified the continent for the first time. (Only Egypt remains under the aegis of the U.S. Central Command.) According to President Bush, this should “enhance our efforts to bring peace and security to the people of Africa and promote our common goals of development, health, education, democracy, and economic growth in Africa.”

Theresa Whelan, assistant secretary of defense for African affairs, continues to insist that Africom has been formed neither to facilitate the fighting of wars (“engaging kinetically in Africa”), nor to divvy up the continent’s raw materials in the style of nineteenth century colonialism. “This is not,” she says, “about a scramble for the continent.” But about one thing there can be no question: It is about increasing the global reach of the Pentagon.

Meanwhile, should the Earth not be enough, there are always the heavens to control. In August 2006, building on earlier documents like the 1998 U.S. Space Command’s Vision for 2020 (which called for a policy of “full spectrum dominance”), the Bush administration unveiled its “national space policy.” It advocated establishing, defending, and enlarging U.S. control over space resources and argued for “unhindered” rights in space — unhindered, that is, by international agreements preventing the weaponization of space. The document also asserted that “freedom of action in space is as important to the United States as air power and sea power.”

As the document put it, “In the new century, those who effectively utilize space will enjoy added prosperity and security and will hold a substantial advantage over those who do not.” (The leaders of China, Russia, and other major states undoubtedly heard the loud slap of a gauntlet being thrown down.) At the moment, the Bush administration’s rhetoric and plans outstrip the resources being devoted to space weapons technology, but in the recently announced budget, the President allocated nearly a billion dollars to space-based weapons programs.

Of all the frontiers of expansion, perhaps none is more striking than the Pentagon’s sorties into the future. Does the Department of Transportation offer a Vision for 2030? Does the Environmental Protection Agency develop plans for the next fifty years? Does the Department of Health and Human Services have a team of power-point professionals working up dynamic graphics for what services for the elderly will look like in 2050?

These agencies project budgets just around the corner of the next decade. Only the Pentagon projects power and possibility decades into the future, colonizing the imagination with scads of different scenarios under which, each year, it will continue to control hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars.

Complex 2030, Vision 2020, UAV Roadmap 2030, the Army’s Future Combat Systems – the names, which seem unending, tell the tale.

As the clock ticks down to November 4, 2008, a lot of people are investing hope (as well as money and time) in the possibility of change at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. But when it comes to the Pentagon, don’t count too heavily on change, no matter who the new president may be. After all, seven years, four months, and a scattering of days into the Bush presidency, the Pentagon is deeply entrenched in Washington and still aggressively expanding. It has developed a taste for unrivaled power and unequaled access to the treasure of this country. It is an institution that has escaped the checks and balances of the nation.

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Program Associate at the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative. She is a columnist for Foreign Policy in Focus and a contributing editor at In These Times magazine. She is the author of reports on the arms trade and human rights, U.S. nuclear weapons policy, and the domestic politics of U.S. missile defense and space weapons policies. She can be reached at berrigan@newamerica.net.

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), which has just been thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition that deals with victory culture’s crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.]

Moles Wanted

May 22, 2008

In preparation for the Republican National Convention, the FBI is soliciting informants to keep tabs on local protest groups

Moles Wanted

By Matt Snyders

They were looking for an informant to show up at

They were looking for an informant to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors.

Paul Carroll was riding his bike when his cell phone vibrated.

Once he arrived home from the Hennepin County Courthouse, where he’d been served a gross misdemeanor for spray-painting the interior of a campus elevator, the lanky, wavy-haired University of Minnesota sophomore flipped open his phone and checked his messages. He was greeted by a voice he recognized immediately. It belonged to U of M Police Sgt. Erik Swanson, the officer to whom Carroll had turned himself in just three weeks earlier. When Carroll called back, Swanson asked him to meet at a coffee shop later that day, going on to assure a wary Carroll that he wasn’t in trouble.

Carroll, who requested that his real name not be used, showed up early and waited anxiously for Swanson’s arrival. Ten minutes later, he says, a casually dressed Swanson showed up, flanked by a woman whom he introduced as FBI Special Agent Maureen E. Mazzola. For the next 20 minutes, Mazzola would do most of the talking.

“She told me that I had the perfect ‘look,’” recalls Carroll. “And that I had the perfect personality—they kept saying I was friendly and personable—for what they were looking for.”

What they were looking for, Carroll says, was an informant—someone to show up at “vegan potlucks” throughout the Twin Cities and rub shoulders with RNC protestors, schmoozing his way into their inner circles, then reporting back to the FBI’s Joint Terrorism Task Force, a partnership between multiple federal agencies and state and local law enforcement. The effort’s primary mission, according to the Minneapolis division’s website, is to “investigate terrorist acts carried out by groups or organizations which fall within the definition of terrorist groups as set forth in the current United States Attorney General Guidelines.”

Carroll would be compensated for his efforts, but only if his involvement yielded an arrest. No exact dollar figure was offered.

“I’ll pass,” said Carroll.

For 10 more minutes, Mazzola and Swanson tried to sway him. He remained obstinate.

“Well, if you change your mind, call this number,” said Mazzola, handing him her card with her cell phone number scribbled on the back.

(Mazzola, Swanson, and the FBI did not return numerous calls seeking comment.)

Carroll’s story echoes a familiar theme. During the lead-up the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York City, the NYPD’s Intelligence Division infiltrated and spied on protest groups across the country, as well as in Canada and Europe. The program’s scope extended to explicitly nonviolent groups, including street theater troupes and church organizations.

There were also two reported instances of police officers, dressed as protestors, purposefully instigating clashes. At the 2004 Republican National Convention, the NYPD orchestrated a fake arrest to incite protestors. When a blond man was “arrested,” nearby protestors began shouting, “Let him go!” The helmeted police proceeded to push back against the crowd with batons and arrested at least two. In a similar instance, during an April 29, 2005, Critical Mass bike ride in New York, video footage captured a “protestor”—in reality an undercover cop—telling his captor, “I’m on the job,” and being subsequently let go.

Minneapolis’s own recent Critical Mass skirmish was allegedly initiated by two unidentified stragglers in hoods—one wearing a handkerchief over his or her face—who “began to make aggressive moves” near the back of the pack. During that humid August 31 evening, officers went on to arrest 19 cyclists while unleashing pepper spray into the faces of bystanders. The hooded duo was never apprehended.

In the scuffle’s wake, conspiracy theories swirled that the unprecedented surveillance—squad cars from multiple agencies and a helicopter hovering overhead—was due to the presence of RNC protesters in the ride. The MPD publicly denied this. But during the trial of cyclist Gus Ganley, MPD Sgt. David Stichter testified that a task force had been created to monitor the August 31 ride and that the department knew that members of an RNC protest group would be along for the ride.

“This is all part of a larger government effort to quell political dissent,” says Jordan Kushner, an attorney who represented Ganley and other Critical Mass arrestees. “The Joint Terrorism Task Force is another example of using the buzzword ‘terrorism’ as a basis to clamp down on people’s freedoms and push forward a more authoritarian government.”

US Interventions: 1798 – Present (2005)

February 26, 2008

US Interventions: 1798 – Present (2005)

Dandelion Salad

by Global Policy Forum
Global Research, February 25, 2008
Global Policy Forum – 2005-12-01

US Military and Clandestine Operations in Foreign Countries – 1798-Present

Note: This list does not pretend to be definitive or absolutely complete. Nor does it seek to explain or interpret the interventions. Information and interpretation on selected interventions will be later included as links. Note that US operations in World Wars I and II have been excluded.

 

1798-1800 France Undeclared naval war against France, marines land in Puerto Plata.
1801-1805 Tripoli War with Tripoli (Libya), called “First Barbary War”.
1806 Spanish Mexico Military force enters Spanish territory in headwaters of the Rio Grande.
1806-1810 Spanish and French in Caribbean US naval vessels attack French and Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.
1810 Spanish West Florida Troops invade and seize Western Florida, a Spanish possession.
1812 Spanish East Florida Troops seize Amelia Island and adjacent territories.
1812 Britain War of 1812, includes naval and land operations.
1813 Marquesas Island Forces seize Nukahiva and establish first US naval base in the Pacific.
1814 Spanish (East Florida) Troops seize Pensacola in Spanish East Florida.
1814-1825 French, British and Spanish in Caribbean US naval squadron engages French, British and Spanish shipping in the Caribbean.
1815 Algiers and Tripoli US naval fleet under Captain Stephen Decatur wages “Second Barbary War” in North Africa.
1816-1819 Spanish East Florida Troops attack and seize Nicholls’ Fort, Amelia Island and other strategic locations. Spain eventually cedes East Florida to the US.
1822-1825 Spanish Cuba and Puerto Rico Marines land in numerous cities in the Spanish island of Cuba and also in Spanish Puerto Rico.
1827 Greece Marines invade the Greek islands of Argentiere, Miconi and Andross.
1831 Falkland/Malvinas Islands US naval squadrons aggress the Falkland Islands in the South Atlantic.
1832 Sumatra, Dutch East Indies US naval squadrons attack Qallah Battoo.
1833 Argentina Forces land in Buenos Aires and engage local combatants.
1835-1836 Peru Troops dispatched twice for counter-insurgency operations.
1836 Mexico Troops assist Texas war for independence.
1837 Canada Naval incident on the Canadian border leads to mobilization of a large force to invade Canada. War is narrowly averted.
1838 Sumatra, Dutch East Indies US naval forces sent to Sumatra for punitive expedition.
1840-1841 Fiji Naval forces deployed, marines land.
1841 Samoa Naval forces deployed, marines land.
1842 Mexico Naval forces temporarily seize cities of Monterey and San Diego.
1843 China Marines land in Canton.
1843 Ivory Coast Marines land.
1846-1848 Mexico Full-scale war. Mexico cedes half of its territory to the US by the Treaty of Guadeloupe Hidalgo.
1849 Ottoman Empire (Turkey) Naval force dispatched to Smyrna.
1852-1853 Argentina Marines land in Buenos Aires.
1854 Nicaragua Navy bombards and largely destroys city of San Juan del Norte. Marines land and set fire to the city.
1854 Japan Commodore Perry and his fleet deploy at Yokohama.
1855 Uruguay Marines land in Montevideo.
1856 Colombia (Panama Region) Marines land for counter-insurgency campaign.
1856 China Marines deployed in Canton.
1856 Hawaii Naval forces seize small islands of Jarvis, Baker and Howland in the Hawaiian Islands.
1857 Nicaragua Marines land.
1858 Uruguay Marines land in Montevideo.
1858 Fiji Marines land.
1859 Paraguay Large naval force deployed.
1859 China Troops enter Shanghai.
1859 Mexico Military force enters northern area.
1860 Portuguese West Africa Troops land at Kissembo.
1860 Colombia (Panama Region) Troops and naval forces deployed.
1863 Japan Troops land at Shimonoseki.
1864 Japan Troops landed in Yedo.
1865 Colombia (Panama Region) Marines landed.
1866 Colombia (Panama Region) Troops invade and seize Matamoros, later withdraw.
1866 China Marines land in Newchwang.
1867 Nicaragua Marines land in Managua and Leon in Nicaragua.
1867 Formosa Island (Taiwan) Marines land.
1867 Midway Island Naval forces seize this island in the Hawaiian Archipelago for a naval base.
1868 Japan Naval forces deployed at Osaka, Hiogo, Nagasaki, Yokohama and Negata.
1868 Uruguay Marines land at Montevideo.
1870 Colombia Marines landed.
1871 Korea Forces landed.
1873 Colombia (Panama Region) Marines landed.
1874 Hawaii Sailors and marines landed.
1876 Mexico Army again occupies Matamoros.
1882 British Egypt Troops land.
1885 Colombia (Panama Region) Troops land in Colon and Panama City.
1885 Samoa Naval force deployed.
1887 Hawaii Navy gains right to build permanent naval base at Pearl Harbor.
1888 Haiti Troops landed.
1888 Samoa Marines landed.
1889 Samoa Clash with German naval forces.
1890 Argentina US sailors land in Buenos Aires.
1891 Chile US sailors land in the major port city of Valparaiso.
1891 Haiti Marines land on US-claimed Navassa Island.
1893 Hawaii Marines and other naval forces land and overthrow the monarchy. Read More
1894 Nicaragua Marines land at Bluefields on the eastern coast.
1894-1895 China Marines are stationed at Tientsin and Beijing. A naval ship takes up position at Newchwang.
1894-1896 Korea Marines land and remain in Seoul.
1895 Colombia Marines are sent to the town Bocas del Toro.
1896 Nicaragua Marines land in the port of Corinto.
1898 Nicaragua Marines land at the port city of San Juan del Sur.
1898 Guam Naval forces seize Guam Island from Spain and the US holds the island permanently.
1898 Cuba Naval and land forces seize Cuba from Spain.
1898 Puerto Rico Naval and land forces seize Puerto Rico from Spain and the US holds the island permanently.
1898 Philippines Naval forces defeat the Spanish fleet and the US takes control of the country.
1899 Philippines Military units are reinforced for extensive counter-insurgency operations.
1899 Samoa Naval forces land
1899 Nicaragua Marines land at the port city of Bluefields.
1900 China US forces intervene in several cities.
1901 Colombia/Panama Marines land.
1902 Colombia/Panama US forces land in Bocas de Toro
1903 Colombia/Panama With US backing, a group in northern Colombia declares independence as the state of Panama
1903 Guam Navy begins development in Apra Harbor of a permanent base installation.
1903 Honduras Marines go ashore at Puerto Cortez.
1903 Dominican Republic Marines land in Santo Domingo.
1904-1905 Korea Marines land and stay in Seoul.
1906-1909 Cuba Marines land. The US builds a major naval base at Guantanamo Bay.
1907 Nicaragua Troops seize major centers.
1907 Honduras Marines land and take up garrison in cities of Trujillo, Ceiba, Puerto Cortez, San Pedro, Laguna and Choloma.
1908 Panama Marines land and carry out operations.
1910 Nicaragua Marines land in Bluefields and Corinto.
1911 Honduras Marines intervene.
1911-1941 China The US builds up its military presence in the country to a force of 5000 troops and a fleet of 44 vessels patrolling China’s coast and rivers.
1912 Cuba US sends army troops into combat in Havana.
1912 Panama Army troops intervene.
1912 Honduras Marines land.
1912-1933 Nicaragua Marines intervene. A 20-year occupation of the country follows.
1913 Mexico Marines land at Ciaris Estero.
1914 Dominican Republic Naval forces engage in battles in the city of Santo Domingo.
1914 Mexico US forces seize and occupy Mexico’s major port city of Veracrus from April through November.
1915-1916 Mexico An expeditionary force of the US Army under Gen. John J. Pershing crosses the Texas border and penetrates several hundred miles into Mexican territory. Eventually reinforced to over 11,000 officers and men.
1914-1934 Haiti Troops land, aerial bombardment leading to a 19-year military occupation.
1916-1924 Dominican Republic Military intervention leading to 8-year occupation.
1917-1933 Cuba Landing of naval forces. Beginning of a 15-year occupation.
1918-1920 Panama Troops intervene, remain on “police duty” for over 2 years.
1918-1922 Russia Naval forces and army troops fight battles in several areas of the country during a five- year period.
1919 Yugoslavia Marines intervene in Dalmatia.
1919 Honduras Marines land.
1920 Guatemala Troops intervene.
1922 Turkey Marines engaged in operations in Smyrna (Izmir).
1922-1927 China Naval forces and troops deployed during 5-year period.
1924-1925 Honduras Troops land twice in two-year period.
1925 Panama Marines land and engage in operations.
1927-1934 China Marines and naval forces stationed throughout the country.
1932 El Salvador Naval forces intervene.
1933 Cuba Naval forces deployed.
1934 China Marines land in Foochow.
1946 Iran Troops deployed in northern province.
1946-1949 China Major US army presence of about 100,000 troops, fighting, training and advising local combatants.
1947-1949 Greece US forces wage a 3-year counterinsurgency campaign.
1948 Italy Heavy CIA involvement in national elections.
1948-1954 Philippines Commando operations, “secret” CIA war.
1950-1953 Korea Major forces engaged in war in Korean peninsula.
1953 Iran CIA overthrows government of Prime Minister Mohammed Mossadegh. Read More
1954 Vietnam Financial and materiel support for colonial French military operations, leads eventually to direct US military involvement.
1954 Guatemala CIA overthrows the government of President Jacobo Arbenz Guzman.
1958 Lebanon US marines and army units totaling 14,000 land.
1958 Panama Clashes between US forces in Canal Zone and local citizens.
1959 Haiti Marines land.
1960 Congo CIA-backed overthrow and assassination of Prime Minister Patrice Lumumba.
1960-1964 Vietnam Gradual introduction of military advisors and special forces.
1961 Cuba CIA-backed Bay of Pigs invasion.
1962 Cuba Nuclear threat and naval blockade.
1962 Laos CIA-backed military coup.
1963 Ecuador CIA backs military overthrow of President Jose Maria Valesco Ibarra.
1964 Panama Clashes between US forces in Canal Zone and local citizens.
1964 Brazil CIA-backed military coup overthrows the government of Joao Goulart and Gen. Castello Branco takes power. Read More
1965-1975 Vietnam Large commitment of military forces, including air, naval and ground units numbering up to 500,000+ troops. Full-scale war, lasting for ten years.
1965 Indonesia CIA-backed army coup overthrows President Sukarno and brings Gen. Suharto to power.
1965 Congo CIA backed military coup overthrows President Joseph Kasavubu and brings Joseph Mobutu to power.
1965 Dominican Republic 23,000 troops land.
1965-1973 Laos Bombing campaign begin, lasting eight years.
1966 Ghana CIA-backed military coup ousts President Kwame Nkrumah.
1966-1967 Guatemala Extensive counter-insurgency operation.
1969-1975 Cambodia CIA supports military coup against Prince Sihanouk, bringing Lon Nol to power. Intensive bombing for seven years along border with Vietnam.
1970 Oman Counter-insurgency operation, including coordination with Iranian marine invasion.
1971-1973 Laos Invasion by US and South Vietnames forces.
1973 Chile CIA-backed military coup ousts government of President Salvador Allende. Gen. Augusto Pinochet comes to power.
1975 Cambodia Marines land, engage in combat with government forces.
1976-1992 Angola Military and CIA operations.
1980 Iran Special operations units land in Iranian desert. Helicopter malfunction leads to aborting of planned raid.
1981 Libya Naval jets shoot down two Libyan jets in maneuvers over the Mediterranean.
1981-1992 El Salvador CIA and special forces begin a long counterinsurgency campaign.
1981-1990 Nicaragua CIA directs exile “Contra” operations. US air units drop sea mines in harbors.
1982-1984 Lebanon Marines land and naval forces fire on local combatants.
1983 Grenada Military forces invade Grenada.
1983-1989 Honduras Large program of military assistance aimed at conflict in Nicaragua.
1984 Iran Two Iranian jets shot down over the Persian Gulf.
1986 Libya US aircraft bomb the cities of Tripoli and Benghazi, including direct strikes at the official residence of President Muamar al Qadaffi.
1986 Bolivia Special Forces units engage in counter-insurgency.
1987-1988 Iran Naval forces block Iranian shipping. Civilian airliner shot down by missile cruiser.
1989 Libya Naval aircraft shoot down two Libyan jets over Gulf of Sidra.
1989 Philippines CIA and Special Forces involved in counterinsurgency.
1989-1990 Panama 27,000 troops as well as naval and air power used to overthrow government of President Noriega.
1990 Liberia Troops deployed.
1990-1991 Iraq Major military operation, including naval blockade, air strikes; large number of troops attack Iraqi forces in occupied Kuwait.
1991-2003 Iraq Control of Iraqi airspace in north and south of the country with periodic attacks on air and ground targets.
1991 Haiti CIA-backed military coup ousts President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.
1992-1994 Somalia Special operations forces intervene.
1992-1994 Yugoslavia Major role in NATO blockade of Serbia and Montenegro.
1993-1995 Bosnia Active military involvement with air and ground forces.
1994-1996 Haiti Troops depose military rulers and restore President Jean-Bertrand Aristide to office.
1995 Croatia Krajina Serb airfields attacked.
1996-1997 Zaire (Congo) Marines involved in operations in eastern region of the country.
1997 Liberia Troops deployed.
1998 Sudan Air strikes destroy country’s major pharmaceutical plant.
1998 Afghanistan Attack on targets in the country.
1998 Iraq Four days of intensive air and missile strikes.
1999 Yugoslavia Major involvement in NATO air strikes.
2001 Macedonia NATO troops shift and partially disarm Albanian rebels.
2001 Afghanistan Air attacks and ground operations oust Taliban government and install a new regime.
2003 Iraq Invasion with large ground, air and naval forces ousts government of Saddam Hussein and establishes new government.
2003-present Iraq Occupation force of 150,000 troops in protracted counter-insurgency war
2004 Haiti Marines land. CIA-backed forces overthrow President Jean-Bertrand Aristide.

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see

Opening a Pandora’s Box: Kosovo “Independence” & the Project for a “New Middle East” by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya (NWO)

February 20, 2008

Opening a Pandora’s Box: Kosovo “Independence” & the Project for a “New Middle East” by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya (NWO)

Dandelion Salad

by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya
Global Research, February 20, 2008
– 2008-02-29

Western public opinion has been misled. Unfolding events and realities on the ground in former Yugoslavia have been carefully manipulated.

Germany and the U.S. have deep-seated geo-strategic interests in dividing Yugoslavia. Washington and Berlin have also been the first governments to recognize the secessionist states, which resulted from the breakup of the Yugoslav federation.

The Broader Implications of Kosovo “Independence”

The February 2008 declaration of independence of Kosovo is a means towards legitimizing the dissolution and breaking up of sovereign states on a global scale.

Eurasia is the main target. Kosovar “independence” is part of a neo-colonial program with underlying economic and geo-political interests. The objective is to instate a New World order and establish hegemonic control over the global economy.

In this sense Kosovo provdes a blueprint, a “dress-rehearsal” which can now be applied to restructuring the economies and borders of the Middle East, under the Project for a “New Middle East.”

The restructuring model that is being applied in the former Yugoslavia is precisely what is intended for the Middle East — a process of balkanization and economic control.

Kosovo’s Pseudo-Declaration of Independence

On February 17, 2008, the secessionist province of Kosovo declared unilateral independence from the Republic of Serbia. The occasion was declared through an extraordinary gathering of the Kosovar Parliament and its executive bodies. Belgrade has not had any control over Kosovo since 1999, when NATO went to war with Serbia to impose control over Kosovo under humanitarian arguments.

President Fatmir Sejdiu, Prime Minister Hashim Thaci and Parliament Speaker Jakup Krasniqi all marked the occasion with speeches inside and outside of the Kosovar Parliament.

Many in Kosovo’s ethic Albanian majority celebrated what they believed was a shift towards self-determination. The truth of the matter is that the Kosovar declaration of independence was a declaration of dependency and surrender to colonial forces.

Kosovar leaders have transformed their land into a colonial outpost of Franco-German and Anglo-American interests. February 17, 2008 also marked the day that Kosovo further entrenched itself as a NATO-E.U. protectorate. Under the so-called independence” roadmap, NATO and E.U. troops and police officers will formally administer Kosovo.

In reality, Kosovo would have had greater independence as an autonomous province in an agreement of autonomy with Serbia, which had been envisaged in bilateral talks between Belgrade and Pristina. The majority of Kosovars would have been satisfied under such an agreement.

However, the talks were never meant to succeed for two obvious reasons:

1) the leadership of Kosovo are agents of foreign interests that do not represent the Kosovar populaiton;

2) the U.S. and E.U. were determined to establish another protectorate in the former Yugoslavia.

Kosovo: Another phase in the Economic Colonization of the former Yugoslavia

One of the leading global academic figures who has thoroughly documented the foreign-induced disintegration of Yugoslavia and the situation in Kosovo is Michel Chossudovsky. He has documented the economic and geo-strategic motives that have acted as the fingers pulling the strings that have caused the collapse of Yugoslavia and the drive for the independence of Kosovo from Serbia. His work unmasks the truth behind the downfall of Yugoslavia and the tactics being used to divide nations and peoples who have lived together in peace for hundreds of years.

A glance at the restructuring of Bosnia-Herzegovina must be made before further discussing the case of Kosovo.

Bosnia’s constitution was written at a U.S. Air Force base in Dayton, Ohio by U.S. and European “experts.”

Chossoduvsky appropriately labels Bosnia-Herzegovina as a neo-colonial entity. NATO troops have dominated Bosnia-Herzegovina, closely followed by the imposition of a new political and economic framework and model.

Chossudovsky’s work also reveals that the real head of the Bosnian government, the High Representative, and the head of the Bosnian Central Bank are both foreigners that are hand-picked by the European Union, the U.S., and the International Monetary Fund (IMF). [1] This is a clear re-enactment of a colonial administration.

This model has also been replicated with some variations in several of the former republics of the Yugoslav federation. The major obstacle to the full implementation of this agenda is the popular will of the local people in the former Yugoslavia, especially the Serbs.

Serbia, like an island of resistance, is the last bastion of independence left in the former Yugoslavia and the Balkans, but even in Serbia a modus vivendi exists where the local people have made a one-sided accommodation with the foreign economic agenda to allow their way of life to go on for a little longer. However, this accommodation is not meant to last.

The same Political and Socio-Economic Model is being applied in the Balkans and the Middle East

The process in Iraq is no different than the model applied in the former Yugoslavia. Divisions are fueled by foreign catalysts, the economy is destabilized, national dissolution is induced, and a new politico-socio-economic order is established.

Foreign interference and military intervention are also justified on bogus humanitarian grounds. It is no coincidence that a “High Representative” was appointed by the US led coaltion to govern Iraq, thereby replicating the Bosnia-Herzegovina model, which is characterised by E.U. appointed “High Representative”. The pattern should start becoming startlingly familiar!

The parallels between Iraq and the former Yugoslavia are endless.

In the wake of the Anglo-American invasion of Iraq, the U.S. and Britain established the Office for Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance (ORHA), which evolved into the Coalition Provisional Authority.

The head of the Coalition Provisional Authority was also called “Special Representative,” “Governor,” “Special Envoy,” and “Consul.”

The justifications for setting up the occupation administration in Iraq, similarly to Bosnia-Herzegovina, where originally humanitarian and national stabilization. However, the main objectives of the Coalition Provisional Authority were to decentralize the state and implement a mass privatization program.

It is no coincidence that Bosnia-Herzegovina was divided alongside ethnic and religious lines: Serb, Croat, and Bosniak; Christian Muslim. To these various ethnic-religious divisions, however, further sectarian divisions were created: Eastern Orthodoxy versus Roman Catholicism.

A similar strategy of “divide and rule” was applied in Iraq. Just like in the former Yugoslavia the centralized economic system of Iraq was also shattered by the occupying administration. Under the Anglo-American occupation and its Coalition Provisional Authority foreign corporations entered Iraq in a second wave of foreign invasion, an economic takeover.

The neo-colonial project is based on two inderdependent building blocks: a military stage executed by NATO and process of political, social and economic restructuring executed by the U.S. and E.U. with the help of corrupt local leaders. The shock and awe of war opens the door for destabilization followed by “nation building” or the restructuring process, which even attacks the cultural and social roots of the target nation-state.

The Economic Colonization of Kosovo

The economic affairs of Kosovo are to be exclusively under the hands of the E.U. in partnership with the United States. The euro was already being used in Kosovo, despite of the protests of Belgrade, as the official currency for a number of years before 2008. The utilization of the euro was part of the process of untying the Kosovar economy from the rest of the Serbian economy and a means of establishing control over the sovereignty of Kosovo via monetary and financial means.

The Kosovar flag has been designed to match both the flags of Bosnia-Herzegovina and the European Union. The Bosnian flag was also designed to match the flag of the European Union.

This unraveling process has been the modus operandi throughout the former Yugoslavia. The key players behind this process are the usual players; the U.S., Germany, Britain, and France, which have been sharing the spoils of war and economic colonization in the former Yugoslavia. NATO and the E.U. have been the agents of this process on behalf of all four Western powers.

An Illegal Precedent: Paving the Way for the Dismantlement of other Nation-States

In the realm of international law, a Pandora’s Box has been opened. A new form of interventionism which threatens nation-states has emerged. Worldwide, nations have been divided into two camps in regards to Kosovo: those that recognize it at the expense of international law and those that do not recognize Kosovar independence.

There are profound implications in regards to the events in Yugoslavia. The law of the jungle and the concept that “might is right” have been unveiled as the true ideals of E.U. and American foreign policy. From Somalia, Sudan, and Iraq to the Russian Federation and Central Asia, a dangerous precedent has been established. The latter is intent upon fracturing and dividing.

The E.U. and NATO have also threatened Belgrade and the Serbian people with military action if they try and keep Kosovo. NATO had prepared for Kosovar independence through the holding of war games in late-2007. As Germany has admitted, negotiations for a solution were never taken seriously by Western powers from the start. NATO’s military preparations for the secession of Kosovo suggests that the negotiations were a diplomatic game, which was intended to succeed.

The global ramifications of EU-US interentionism are significant. Nations combating secessionist movements worldwide have voiced disapproval of the Kosovar declaration of Independence, while espressing apprehension regarding the enthusiastic support shown by American, German, British, and French officials.

China has voiced disapproval out of fears that Taiwan (Chinese Taipei) may declare independence under the precedent set by Kosovo. Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Spain, the Republic of Azerbaijan, and Russia have all voiced opposition because of their own secessionist movements such as the Tamil Tigers and the Basque separatist group ETA.

Ramifications of the Kosovo Precedent in the Caucasus and the Former Soviet Space

While fully acknowledging the fact that the Kosovo precedent is internationally illegal, Moscow has nonetheless used the Kosovo precedent against Georgia. Moscow’s objective is to strengthen its control in the geo-strategically important Caucasus region. Georgia has opposed the push by Kosovar Albanians for independence because of secessionist movements in Abkhazia, South Ossetia, and Adjara. While Adjaran separatism has become prominent, Abkhazia and South Ossetia have standing armies, with close ties to Moscow, and are virtually independent.

Russia is arguing that if the U.S. and E.U. recognize the independence of Kosovo, then the independence of Abkhazia and South Oesstia must also be recognized.

The Kosovar declaration of independence also has ramifications for Trans-Dniester (also known as Transnistria or Transdniestria), a tiny breakaway Russian-majority portion of Moldava.

The effects of Kosovar independence have also been watched carefully by the leaders of Armenia and the Republic of Azerbaijan, because of the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict. In the cases of Trans-Dniester, Nagorno-Krabakh, Abkhazia, and South Ossetia, all four breakaway republics believe they have far stronger cases for lobbying for official recognition by the Commonwealth of Independent States (C.I.S.), Russia, and the United Nations.

Map

Preparing a Dangerous Precedent for the Middle East and Beyond

The ghosts of Versailles and earlier schemes still hunt humanity. U.S. President Woodrow Wilson’s seemingly good intentioned declaration of creating an arc of “national self-determination” stretching from the Baltic Sea and the Balkans to the Middle East after the First World War is coming into fruition.

Since the First World War, the larger and more powerful states of Eastern Europe and the Middle East have progressively been carved up into smaller and weaker states. This process was part of a colonial project to control the Eurasian Heartland [2]

The board is being set for the recognition of new states in a redrawn Middle East in total disregard for international law. The Kosovar declaration of independence from Serbia is part of the broader post-Cold War balkanization and dismantlement of Yugoslavia. Kosovar “independence” serves to extend Anglo-American and Franco-German influence across the globe. This model is tied in a straight line with the forthcoming plans in the Middle East to breakup countries such as Iraq, Syria, and Iran in fragmented and easy to control protectorates managed by the E.U., the U.S., and Israel.

Russia and China also are aware of the real danger of dividing their territory as has been advocated for years by Anglo-American policy makes in Washington, D.C. and London. Iran is also aware of a Kosovo-like scenario planned for its predominately Arab regions in Khuzestan. The declaration of independence was also closely watched by the Kurdish Regional Government of Northern Iraq.

Middle East map

larger view

The synchronization of other global events with Kosovo Independence: Coincidence?

The “Arc of Instability” is yet again being exasperated and agitated. In Pakistan threats of civil war and balkanization loom large. In the Levant one of Hezbollah’s top officials, Imad Mughniyeh, was assassinated in Syria by a car bomb similarly to those killing Lebanese politicians.

Most probably Imad Mughniyeh was assassinated by the Mossad, the intelligence agency of Israel. American, Jordanian, Saudi, French, British, and German intelligence were almost all likely to be involved. It is an open secret that all these intelligence agencies have been collaborating together in Lebanon against Hezbollah and have been behind attempts to assassinate Hezbollah leaders. The timing of the assassination is extremely suspicious.

Mughniyeh’s assassination also came just before the anniversary of the Hariri Assassination and could have been meant to further galvanized political tensions in Lebanon. Israel has denied being behind the assassination, but it is now talking about a new war with Lebanon that it conveniently plans to blame Hezbollah for starting with the help of Syria and Iran.

The rupture of multiple conflicts and crises can be a means to also encircle and envelope the westernmost periphery of Russia within an arc of conflict or in other words there may be a deliberate attempt to supersaturate the “Arc of Instability” to paralyze Russia and other opposing players.

A Prepackaged Solution: Supranationalism?

The leadership in Serbia is playing a balancing act between its people and foreign interests. The Serbian people are against the foreign agenda in their region, but the leadership in Serbia is the spawn of a Western-funded and supported Velvet Revolution that occurred in 2000 and ousted Slobodan Milosevic. A large portion of Belgrade’s leadership supports the foreign agenda and has been co-opted into the neo-liberal restructuring project for the Balkans. The fact that the U.S. and the E.U. became major paymasters for Serbia after the Kosovo War is a mere testimony to this.

Surpanationalism or entry into the E.U. or a larger supranational entity for both Serbia and Kosovo is most probably going to be presented as the solution for Kosovar independence. Similar such a solution may also be presented for a balkanized Middle East through such projects as the Mediterranean Union. Supranationalism is also being pressed as an answer to the unification of Cyprus under the Mediterranean Union.

Returning to Serbia and Kosovo, many of the leaders of Serbia are opposing Kosovar succession, but this is merely a façade that is meant to occupy the minds of the Serbian general public. These same leaders are taking a soft stance on the issue and also moving towards integration into the European Union. To them, like the case of Québec, supranationalism is a solution.

On the Eve of the New World Order: Welcome to the Rule of the Jungle

While the E.U. pushes for a bridge to end national and ethnic divisions amongst its own members it does the opposite in the cases of Kosovo and other regions. Is not the American Civil War marked with honour, because the Union States fought a war to keep the Confederate States within the “American Union” by force?

Whatever the case, the hypocrisy of the E.U. and the U.S. in international relations is exposed by the recognition of Kosovar independence. Firstly, it is a breach of international law, but also it is insincere and for self-serving motives and not because of genuine principles or concerns for the people of Kosovo.

In addition, the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus has a far more legitimate case of being recognized in addition to its own institutions and maturity. Although there is a secure and stable means to peacefully address the desires of the Basque and the Catalans in the Pyrenees and the Flemish in the Flanders region of Belgium, these separatist movements are also ignored.

The Armenian majority in Nagorno-Karabakh declared independence on December 10, 1991. Yet, the self-proclaimed and functioning breakaway republic enjoys no backing from either the U.S. or the E.U. unlike Kosovo. What sets Northern Cyprus, South Ossetia, Abkhazia, the Nagorno-Karabakh Republic, and Trans-Dniester apart from Kosovo? The answer is: Anglo-American and Franco-German interests represented through the E.U. and NATO are the forces behind self-serving “exceptionalism” — the same force that permitted the Nazis to believe that they could colonize Eastern Europe and the Eurasian Heartland without guilt.

American and European Union leaders have argued that the Serbs are no longer morally capable of managing the affairs of Kosovo. What gives the governments of the U.S., Germany, France, and Britain any moral capability after years of blood baths and a deficit in credibility? If these claims where based on any principle then what about the case of the Palestinians? Does Israel have any moral capability to occupy the Palestinians? Yet, the occupation continues. Ironically it is not Serbian troops who occupy Kosovo, but NATO troops and tanks.

NOTES

[1] Michel Chossudovsky, The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order, (Montreal, Global Research, 2003), pp.257-277.

[2] Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya, The “Great Game:” Eurasia and History of War, Global Research, December 3, 2007.

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is an independent writer based in Ottawa specializing in Middle Eastern affairs. He is a Research Associate of the Centre for Research on Globalization (CRG).

Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya is a frequent contributor to Global Research. Global Research Articles by Mahdi Darius Nazemroaya

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Asia’s Hidden Arms Race

February 15, 2008

Asia’s Hidden Arms Race

By John Feffer
Source: TomDispatch

John Feffer’s ZSpace Page

Read all about it! Diplomats remain upbeat about solving the nuclear stand-off with North Korea; optimists envision a peace treaty to replace the armistice that halted, but failed to formally end, the Korean War 55 years ago. Some leaders and scholars are even urging the transformation of the Six Party Talks over the Korean nuclear issue, involving the United States, Japan, China, Russia, and the two Koreas, into a permanent peace structure in Northeast Asia.

 

The countries in the region all seem determined to make nice right now. Yasuo Fukuda, the new Japanese prime minister, is considerably more pacific than his predecessor, the ultra-nationalist Shinzo Abe. The new South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, despite his conservative credentials, is committed to continuing the previous president’s engagement policy with North Korea and plans to reach out to Japan via his first post-inaugural state visit. The party that won the recent Taiwanese parliamentary elections, the Kuomintang, wants to rebuild bridges to the Mainland and, when it comes to the Communist Party there, mend fences the ruling Democratic Progressive Party tried to pull down. Beijing, for its part, is being super-conciliatory toward practically everyone in this Olympic year.

 

Despite all this peace-talk, something else, quite momentous and hardly noticed, is underway in the region. The real money in Northeast Asia is going elsewhere. While in the news sunshine prevails, in the shadows an already massive regional arms race is threatening to shift into overdrive. Since the dawn of the twenty-first century, five of the six countries involved in the Six Party Talks have increased their military spending by 50% or more. The sixth, Japan, has maintained a steady, if sizeable military budget while nonetheless aspiring to keep pace. Every country in the region is now eagerly investing staggering amounts of money in new weapons systems and new offensive capabilities.

 

The arms race in Northeast Asia undercuts all talk of peace in the region. It also sustains a growing global military-industrial complex. Northeast Asia is where four of the world’s largest militaries — those of the United States, China, Russia, and Japan — confront each other. Together, the countries participating in the Six Party Talks account for approximately 65% of world military expenditures, with the United States responsible for roughly half the global total.

 

Here is the real news that should hit the front pages of papers today: Wars grip Iraq, Afghanistan, and large swathes of Africa, but the heart of the global military-industrial complex lies in Northeast Asia. Any attempt to drive a stake through this potentially destabilizing monster must start with the militaries that face one another there.

Military Budget

The Japanese Reversal

The Northeast Asian arms buildup — a three-tiered scramble to dominate the seas, beef up air forces, and control the next frontier of space — runs counter to conventional wisdom. After all, isn’t Japan still operating under a “peace constitution”? Hasn’t South Korea committed to the peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula? Didn’t China recently wake up to the virtues of soft power? And how could North Korea and Russia, both of which suffered disastrous economic reversals in the 1990s, have had the wherewithal to compete in an arms race? As it turns out, these obstacles have proved little more than speed bumps on the road to regional hyper-militarism.

 

Perhaps the most paradoxical participant in this new arms race is Japan. Its famous peace constitution has traditionally been one of the few brakes on arms spending in the region. The country has long limited its military expenditures to an informal ceiling of 1% of its overall budget. As that budget grew, however, so did military spending. Japan’s army is now larger than Britain’s, and the country spends more on its military than all but four other nations. (China surpassed Japan in military spending for the first time in 2006.) Nonetheless, for decades, the provisions of its peace constitution at least put limits on the offensive capabilities of the Japanese military, which is still referred to as its Self-Defense Forces.

 

These days, however, even the definition of “offensive” is changing. In 1999, the country’s Self Defense Forces first used offensive force when its naval vessels fired on suspected North Korean spy ships. Less than a decade later, Japan provides support far from its “defensive” zone for U.S. wars, including providing fuel to coalition forces in Afghanistan and transport in Iraq.

 

Japan was once incapable of bombing other countries largely because its air force didn’t have an in-air refueling capability. Thanks to Boeing, however, the first KC-767 tanker aircraft will arrive in Japan later this year, providing government officials, who occasionally assert the country’s right to launch preemptive strikes, with the means to do so. This is not happy news for Japan’s neighbors, who retain vivid memories of the 1930s and 1940s, when its military went on an imperial rampage throughout the region.

 

Tokyo already has among the best air forces and naval fighting forces in the world, trailing only the United States. But leading Japanese officials have displayed an even larger appetite. Some Japanese politicians are lobbying to amend the peace constitution or even scrap it entirely, while sending military spending skyrocketing. To promote these ideas, they use the thin rationale that Japan should be participating regularly in “international peacekeeping missions.”

 

The Japanese Defense Agency — their Pentagon — which was upgraded to ministry level last year, wants more goodies like an aircraft carrier, nuclear-powered submarines, and long-range missiles. A light aircraft carrier, which the government has coyly labeled a “destroyer,” will be ready in 2009. The subs and missiles, however, will have to wait. So, too, will Tokyo’s attempt to take a quantum leap forward in air-fighting capabilities by importing advanced U.S. F-22 stealth planes. Concerned about releasing latest-generation technology to the outside world, Congress scotched this deal at the last moment in August 2007.

 

Washington has been a good deal more accommodating when it comes to missile defense. Japan has been a far more enthusiastic supporter of missile defense than any of America’s European allies. In fact, the United States and Japan are spending billions of dollars to set up an early-warning-and-response prototype of such an advanced missile system. Part of this missile shield is land-based. Last month, Japan installed its third Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) surface-to-air interceptor and plans on nine more by 2011. The more ambitious part of the program, however, is based at sea. In December, Japan conducted its first sea-based interceptor test.

 

With Japan and the United States in the lead, a space race is also on in Northeast Asia. Last year, China tested its own anti-ballistic missile system by shooting down one of its old weather satellites. While at present this is far from an actual missile-defense system, China effectively served notice that it is up to the technological challenge of hitting a bullet with a bullet in space. Meanwhile, thanks to U.S. pressure Russia too is upgrading its missile defense systems, while pouring money into the development of new missiles that can bypass any putative shield the U.S. and its allies can develop.

 

Give Me Peace, But Not Just Yet

 

The two most recent South Korean presidents, Nobel Peace Prize winner Kim Dae-Jung and the left-leaning Roh Moo-Hyun, have been well-known for their efforts to foster reconciliation with North Korea. Less well-known have been their programs to beef up South Korea’s military. The dark side of their engagement policy has been its unstated quid pro quo of satisfying the security concerns of South Korean hawks by giving their military everything it wants — and then some. Between 1999 and 2006, South Korean military spending jumped more than 70%. In 2007, at the launching ceremony for a new Aegis-equipped destroyer, which brought South Korea into an elite club of just five countries with such technology, President Roh Moo-Hyun declared, “At the present time, Northeast Asia is still in an arms race, and we cannot just sit back and watch.” By 2020, the South Korean navy wants to build three more Aegis destroyers at a cost of $1 billion each.

 

South Korean hawks are not only responding to concerns about North Korea, the traditional threat around which the South has organized its military. They are concerned about a declining military commitment from the United States, which has reduced the levels of American troops that traditionally garrison the country and pushed hard for greater military “burden-sharing.”

 

South Korea’s leaders and military officials are anxious that the Pentagon may continue to focus on the Middle East and Central Asia to the exclusion of its Pacific commitments. To prepare for the contingency of going it alone, South Korea has embarked on an ambitious $665 billion Defense Reform 2020 initiative, which will increase the military budget by roughly 10% a year until 2020. In those years, while troop levels will actually fall, most of the extra money will go to a host of expensive, high-tech systems such as new F-15K fighters from Boeing, SM-6 ship-to-air missiles that can form a low-altitude missile shield, and Global Hawk unmanned aerial vehicles.

 

If South Korea’s spending spree remains largely under the radar, China’s military expenditures have received considerable media scrutiny. Newspaper accounts have focused on China’s military spending, which officially rose to $45 billion for 2007. However, that public figure, according to U.S. intelligence estimates, tells only half the story. Beijing’s spending, claim these sources, is really in the $100 billion range. With this money, China is pushing forward with an ambitious naval program that will include the addition to its naval forces of five new nuclear-powered attack subs, a mid-sized aircraft carrier, and — clandestinely — the supposed construction of a huge 93,000-ton nuclear-powered carrier by 2020.

 

Lost in the hype around China’s apparent quest for a world-class military to match its world-class economy are the gaps in the country’s offensive capabilities. It has only a couple of hundred nuclear weapons and fewer than two dozen ICBMs pointed at the United States. Its navy doesn’t have a “blue-water” capability, lacking (as yet) any aircraft carriers, a large force of nuclear-powered submarines, and the overseas basing infrastructure to support them. It relies heavily on imports and can’t yet build the sort of aircraft that would allow it to project serious force over large distances.

 

China, however, has been the only modestly credible threat on the horizon that the Pentagon has been able to wield to justify military spending at levels not seen since World War II. The Pentagon can’t use its big naval destroyers against al-Qaeda; Virginia-class subs can’t do much to fight the Taliban or insurgents in Iraq. Yet these systems figure prominently in the Pentagon’s long-range plans to build a 313-ship navy. Congressman John Murtha (D-PA), who made headlines back in 2005 with his newfound opposition to the Iraq War, is typical of congressional hawks when he warns of the need to prepare for a coming conflict with China. “We’ve got to be able to have a military that can deploy to stop China or Russia or any other country that challenges us,” he recently told Reuters. “I’ve felt we had to be concerned about the direction China was going.” To counter China, the United States has pursued a classic containment strategy of strengthening military ties with India, Australia, the Philippines, and Japan.

 

The Bush administration trumpets its accomplishment of increasing military spending 74% since 2001. In addition to the $12.7 billion for new warships, there’s $17 billion for new aircraft and over $10 billion for missile defense. The administration wants to increase the Army from 482,400 to 547,400 troops by 2012. A sizable portion of the administration’s $607 billion Pentagon budget request for 2009, which doesn’t even include massive supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, will go to maintaining and expanding the U.S. military presence in the Pacific. The Democratic frontrunners for the presidential nomination have also called for troop increases and have said nothing about slowing, freezing, or even cutting the military budget. No matter who is elected, under the next administration, as under the last one, the United States will surely continue to be the chief driver of global arms spending.

 

The Armies of Austerity

 

Increased military spending is not always just a function of affluence. As the Russian economy contracted in the 1990s, the arms export industry became an ever more critical way for the faltering country to earn hard currency. Today, flush with oil and natural gas revenues, Russia has regained its place as the world’s second largest arms dealer by almost doubling its arms exports since 2000. Washington’s moves to establish a global missile defense system and encroach on Russian interests in Central Asia have only encouraged Moscow to boost its military spending in an effort to recover its lost superpower status.

 

With the renewed growth of the Russian economy on the strength of energy sales, Russian arms expenditures began to take off again in the new millennium, increasing nearly four-fold between 2000 and 2006. The Russian government, which projected a 29% increase in spending for 2007, plans to replace nearly half its arsenal with new weaponry by 2015.

 

Compared to Russia, North Korea has had the full experience of economic collapse with very little subsequent recovery. Yet, despite its woefully limited means, it has tried to keep up with the great powers that surround it. By many estimates, Pyongyang devotes as much as a quarter of its budget to the military (even though prosperous South Korea still spends as much, or more, on its military than the North’s entire gross domestic product). North Korea’s failure to match the conventional military spending of South Korea, much less Japan or the United States, was what made the building of a “nuclear deterrent” increasingly attractive to its leaders. In other words, the current nuclear crisis that sucks up so much diplomatic attention in Northeast Asia today is at least partly a result of the region’s accelerating conventional arms race and North Korea’s inability to keep pace.

 

Critics of the North Korean regime often point out that its military spending is ultimately a human rights violation, because the government essentially takes food out of the mouths of its people to spend on armaments. North Korea is, however, just a particularly gross example of an expanding global problem. Each of the six countries in the new Pacific arms race has devised a wealth of rationales for its military spending — and each has ignored significant domestic needs in the process.

 

Given the sums that would be necessary to address the decommissioning of nuclear weapons, the looming crisis of climate change, and the destabilizing gap between rich and poor, such spending priorities are in themselves a threat to humanity. The world put 37% more into military spending in 2006 than in 1997. If the “peace dividend” that was to follow the end of the Cold War never quite appeared, a decade later the world finds itself burdened with quite the opposite: a genuine peace deficit.

 

 

John Feffer is the co-director of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington, DC. He is the author of North Korea, South Korea: U.S. Policy at a Time of Crisis (Seven Stories, 2003) among other books.

[This article first appeared on Tomdispatch.com, a weblog of the Nation Institute, which offers a steady flow of alternate sources, news, and opinion from Tom Engelhardt, long time editor in publishing, co-founder of the American Empire Project and author of The End of Victory Culture (University of Massachusetts Press), which has just been thoroughly updated in a newly issued edition that deals with victory culture’s crash-and-burn sequel in Iraq.]

 

Meet John McCain: Mr. Big Stick in Latin America

February 15, 2008

Meet John McCain: Mr. Big Stick in Latin America

By Nikolas Kozloff

Nikolas Kozloff’s ZSpace Page

 

Now that John McCain has presumably wrapped up the Republican nomination, it’s natural to wonder what kind of foreign policy he might pursue towards the rest of the world if he were elected President.  For example, how would the “maverick” McCain deal with Latin America?  In recent years, the region has taken a decidedly leftist turn; new leaders such as Hugo Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Daniel Ortega of Nicaragua have openly challenged U.S. diplomatic and political influence.  McCain’s record suggests that he would pursue a very hawkish and antagonistic policy in the hemisphere.  It’s even possible that the Arizona Republican, who has suggested that the United States might be in Iraq for hundreds of years and might “bomb, bomb, bomb, Iran,” could ratchet up military tensions in Latin America and escalate conflict with countries like Venezuela.
 

 

The International Republican Institute (IRI)

 

McCain has chaired the International Republican Institute (IRI) since 1993.  Ostensibly a non-partisan, democracy-building outfit, in reality the IRI serves as an instrument to advance and promote the most far right Republican foreign policy agenda.  More a cloak-and-dagger operation than a conventional research group, IRI has aligned itself with some of the most antidemocratic factions in the Third World. 

 

On the surface at least, IRI seems to have a rather innocuous agenda including party building, media training, the organization of leadership trainings, dissemination of newsletters, and strengthening of civil society.  In reality, however, the IRI is more concerned with crushing incipient left movements in Latin America. 

 

One of the least known Washington institutions, IRI receives taxpayer money via the National Endowment for Democracy and the U.S. Agency for International Development (U.S. A.I.D.).  The organization is active in around sixty countries and has a budget of $74 million.        On the board of IRI, McCain has been joined by a who’s who of Republican bigwigs such as Senator Chuck Hagel of Nebraska, former National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft, and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Jeane Kirkpatrick. 

 


IRI’s Latin American Activities

 

In Haiti, IRI helped to fund, equip, and lobby for Haiti’s two heavily conservative and White House-backed opposition parties, the Democratic Convergence and Group 184.  The latter group, comprised of many of the island’s major business, church and professional figures, was at the vanguard of opposition to Jean Bertrand Aristide prior to the Haitian President’s forced ouster in 2004.  At the same time, IRI funneled taxpayer money to hard-line anti-Castro forces allied to the Republican Party.

 

In Venezuela, IRI generously funded anti-Chávez civil society groups that were militantly opposed to the regime.  Starting in 1998, the year Chávez was elected, IRI worked with Venezuelan organizations to produce anti-Chávez media campaigns, including newspaper, television and radio ads.  Additionally, when politicians, union and civil society leaders went to Washington to meet with U.S. officials just one month before the April 2002 coup, IRI picked up the bill.  The IRI also helped to fund the corrupt Confederation of Venezuelan Workers (which played a major role in the anti-Chávez destabilization campaign leading up to the coup) and Súmate, an organization involved in a signature-gathering campaign to present a petition calling for Chávez’s recall.

 

 

McCain and Cuba

 

McCain has taken a personal interest in IRI’s Cuba work and praises the anti-Castro opposition.  The Arizona Senator has called Cuba “a national security threat,” adding that “as president, I will not passively await the long overdue demise of the Castro dictatorship … The Cuban people have waited long enough.”  McCain wants to increase funding for the U.S. government’s anti-Castro radio and TV stations, seeks the release of all Cuban political prisoners, supports internationally monitored elections on the island, and wants to keep the U.S. trade embargo in place.  What kind of future does McCain envision for Cuba?  No doubt, one in which the Miami anti-Castro exiles rule the island.  McCain’s most influential advisers on Latin American affairs are Cuban Americans from Florida, including Senator Mel Martínez and far right Congress members Lincoln Diaz-Balart and Ileana Ros Lehtinen. 

 

 

For McCain, It’s Never Ending Free Trade and Militarization

 

On Capitol Hill, McCain has championed pro-U.S. Latin American regimes while working to isolate those governments which are rising up to challenge American hegemony.  On Colombia, for example, McCain has been a big booster of official U.S. policy.  Despite Colombia’s status as a human rights nightmare, the Senator supports ongoing funding to the government of Álvaro Uribe so as to combat the “narco-trafficking and terrorist threat.” 

 

McCain has taken a personal interest in the Andean region.  He has traveled to Ecuador and Colombia so as to drum up more support for the counter insurgency and drug war, now amounting to billions of dollars a year.  McCain’s foremost fear is that the Democrats may turn off the money flow to Uribe.  “You don’t build strong alliances by turning your back on friends,” he has said. 

 

McCain seeks to confront countries such as Venezuela and Cuba by encouraging U.S. partnership with sympathetic regimes that support American style free trade.  “We need to build on the passage of the Central America Free Trade Agreement by expanding U.S. trade with the region,’’ he has said. “Let’s start by ratifying the trade agreements with Panama, Peru, and Colombia that are already completed, and pushing forward the Free Trade Area of the Americas.”

 

Chávez has been one of the greatest obstacles to the fulfillment of McCain’s free trade agenda, however.  In recent years, the Venezuelan has pushed his own barter trade scheme, the Bolivarian Alternative for the Americas, which promotes economic solidarity and reciprocity between Latin American nations.  Concerned about growing ties between Cuba and Venezuela, McCain said “He [Chávez] aspires to be this generation’s [Fidel] Castro. I think the people of Venezuela ought to look at the standard of living in Cuba before they would embrace such a thing.” 

 

 

Fighting the Information War in Latin America

 

Speaking in Miami’s Little Havana, McCain said that “everyone should understand the connections” between Evo Morales, Castro, and Chávez. “They inspire each other. They assist each other. They get ideas from each other.  It’s very disturbing.” McCain said Chávez breathed “new oxygen” into Castro’s regime, and that the U.S. government should do more to quell dictatorships throughout Latin America.  Perhaps not surprisingly given his historic involvement in IRI, McCain’s campaign Web site even featured an online petition calling for support in his quest to “stop the dictators of Latin America.”  The petition called for the ouster of Chávez “in the name of democracy and freedom throughout our hemisphere.”

 

Though the petition was later taken down, McCain has staked out hawkish territory on Venezuela and would surely escalate tensions with the South American nation.  Most troubling is the Senator’s strong push for renewed U.S. propaganda in the region. McCain has criticized the Venezuelan government’s decision to not renew Radio Caracas Television’s license, and has called for reestablishing an agency like the United States Information Agency (the USIA oversaw a variety of agencies including the Voice of America radio network before it was merged into the State Department in 1998).

 

“Dismantling an agency dedicated to promoting America and the American message amounted to unilateral disarmament in the struggle of ideas,’’ McCain has said. “We need to re-create an independent agency with the sole purpose of getting America’s message to the world. This…would aid our efforts to communicate accurately with the people of Latin America.” 

 

If McCain was ever able to push through his aggressive media initiatives, he would antagonize many nations in the region which resent the pervasiveness of U.S. dominated media.  Already, Venezuela, Cuba, Argentina, and Uruguay have formed a joint satellite news station called Telesur (in my upcoming book scheduled for release in six weeks, I devote an entire chapter to the issue of media politics in South America).

 

From Bolton to Big Stick

 

To make matters worse, the Chair of IRI has sought to promote neo-conservative figures from the Bush regime such as John Bolton.  During the latter’s confirmation hearings in the Senate, McCain urged his Democratic colleagues to approve the diplomat’s nomination quickly.  Bolton has been a hawk not only on Iran but also Venezuela.  McCain, who refers to Chávez as a “wacko,” said it was important to confirm Bolton.  With Bolton at the United Nations, the U.S. would be able to talk back to “two-bit dictators” like the Venezuelan leader.   

 

Like Bolton, McCain apparently shares his colleague’s disdain for the United Nations and wants to create a so-called League of Democracies.  As envisioned by the Arizona legislator, the new body would take the place of the United Nations on such issues as conflict resolution, disease treatment and prevention, environmental crises, and access to free markets.  Interestingly, McCain’s inspiration for the League is Teddy Roosevelt, who had a vision of “like-minded nations working together for peace and liberty.”

 

Roosevelt, however, was no dove: he wielded a Big Stick and practiced gunboat diplomacy in Latin America.  It’s a policy which John McCain would probably like to revive if he is elected President in November.

 

 

Nikolas Kozloff is the author of Revolution! South America and the Rise of the New Left (Palgrave-Macmillan, April 2008), and Hugo Chávez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. (Palgrave-Macmillan, 2006)

Going Bankrupt

January 23, 2008

Going Bankrupt
Why the debt crisis is now the greatest threat to the American republic. Chalmers Johnson
January 22 , 2008

The military adventurers of the Bush administration have much in common with the corporate leaders of the defunct energy company Enron. Both groups of men thought that they were the “smartest guys in the room,” the title of Alex Gibney’s prize-winning film on what went wrong at Enron. The neoconservatives in the White House and the Pentagon outsmarted themselves. They failed even to address the problem of how to finance their schemes of imperialist wars and global domination.

As a result, going into 2008, the United States finds itself in the anomalous position of being unable to pay for its own elevated living standards or its wasteful, overly large military establishment. Its government no longer even attempts to reduce the ruinous expenses of maintaining huge standing armies, replacing the equipment that seven years of wars have destroyed or worn out, or preparing for a war in outer space against unknown adversaries. Instead, the Bush administration puts off these costs for future generations to pay—or repudiate. This utter fiscal irresponsibility has been disguised through many manipulative financial schemes (such as causing poorer countries to lend us unprecedented sums of money), but the time of reckoning is fast approaching.

There are three broad aspects to our debt crisis. First, in the current fiscal year (2008) we are spending insane amounts of money on “defense” projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States. Simultaneously, we are keeping the income tax burdens on the richest segments of the American population at strikingly low levels.

Second, we continue to believe that we can compensate for the accelerating erosion of our manufacturing base and our loss of jobs to foreign countries through massive military expenditures—so-called “military Keynesianism,” which I discuss in detail in my book Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic. By military Keynesianism, I mean the mistaken belief that public policies focused on frequent wars, huge expenditures on weapons and munitions, and large standing armies can indefinitely sustain a wealthy capitalist economy. The opposite is actually true.

Third, in our devotion to militarism (despite our limited resources), we are failing to invest in our social infrastructure and other requirements for the long-term health of our country. These are what economists call “opportunity costs,” things not done because we spent our money on something else. Our public education system has deteriorated alarmingly. We have failed to provide health care to all our citizens and neglected our responsibilities as the world’s number one polluter. Most important, we have lost our competitiveness as a manufacturer for civilian needs—an infinitely more efficient use of scarce resources than arms manufacturing. Let me discuss each of these.

The Current Fiscal Disaster

It is virtually impossible to overstate the profligacy of what our government spends on the military. The Department of Defense’s planned expenditures for fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations’ military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China. Defense-related spending for fiscal 2008 will exceed $1 trillion for the first time in history. The United States has become the largest single salesman of arms and munitions to other nations on Earth. Leaving out of account President Bush’s two on-going wars, defense spending has doubled since the mid-1990s. The defense budget for fiscal 2008 is the largest since World War II.

Before we try to break down and analyze this gargantuan sum, there is one important caveat. Figures on defense spending are notoriously unreliable. The numbers released by the Congressional Reference Service and the Congressional Budget Office do not agree with each other. Robert Higgs, senior fellow for political economy at the Independent Institute, says: “A well-founded rule of thumb is to take the Pentagon’s (always well publicized) basic budget total and double it.” Even a cursory reading of newspaper articles about the Department of Defense will turn up major differences in statistics about its expenses. Some 30-40% of the defense budget is “black,” meaning that these sections contain hidden expenditures for classified projects. There is no possible way to know what they include or whether their total amounts are accurate.

There are many reasons for this budgetary sleight-of-hand—including a desire for secrecy on the part of the president, the secretary of defense, and the military-industrial complex—but the chief one is that members of Congress, who profit enormously from defense jobs and pork-barrel projects in their districts, have a political interest in supporting the Department of Defense. In 1996, in an attempt to bring accounting standards within the executive branch somewhat closer to those of the civilian economy, Congress passed the Federal Financial Management Improvement Act. It required all federal agencies to hire outside auditors to review their books and release the results to the public. Neither the Department of Defense, nor the Department of Homeland Security has ever complied. Congress has complained, but not penalized either department for ignoring the law. The result is that all numbers released by the Pentagon should be regarded as suspect.

In discussing the fiscal 2008 defense budget, as released to the press on February 7, 2007, I have been guided by two experienced and reliable analysts: William D. Hartung of the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative and Fred Kaplan, defense correspondent for Slate.org. They agree that the Department of Defense requested $481.4 billion for salaries, operations (except in Iraq and Afghanistan), and equipment. They also agree on a figure of $141.7 billion for the “supplemental” budget to fight the “global war on terrorism”—that is, the two on-going wars that the general public may think are actually covered by the basic Pentagon budget. The Department of Defense also asked for an extra $93.4 billion to pay for hitherto unmentioned war costs in the remainder of 2007 and, most creatively, an additional “allowance” (a new term in defense budget documents) of $50 billion to be charged to fiscal year 2009. This comes to a total spending request by the Department of Defense of $766.5 billion.

But there is much more. In an attempt to disguise the true size of the American military empire, the government has long hidden major military-related expenditures in departments other than Defense. For example, $23.4 billion for the Department of Energy goes toward developing and maintaining nuclear warheads; and $25.3 billion in the Department of State budget is spent on foreign military assistance (primarily for Israel, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, the United Arab Republic, Egypt, and Pakistan). Another $1.03 billion outside the official Department of Defense budget is now needed for recruitment and reenlistment incentives for the overstretched U.S. military itself, up from a mere $174 million in 2003, the year the war in Iraq began. The Department of Veterans Affairs currently gets at least $75.7 billion, 50% of which goes for the long-term care of the grievously injured among the at least 28,870 soldiers so far wounded in Iraq and another 1,708 in Afghanistan. The amount is universally derided as inadequate. Another $46.4 billion goes to the Department of Homeland Security.

Missing as well from this compilation is $1.9 billion to the Department of Justice for the paramilitary activities of the FBI; $38.5 billion to the Department of the Treasury for the Military Retirement Fund; $7.6 billion for the military-related activities of the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; and well over $200 billion in interest for past debt-financed defense outlays. This brings U.S. spending for its military establishment during the current fiscal year (2008), conservatively calculated, to at least $1.1 trillion.

Military Keynesianism

Such expenditures are not only morally obscene, they are fiscally unsustainable. Many neoconservatives and poorly informed patriotic Americans believe that, even though our defense budget is huge, we can afford it because we are the richest country on Earth. Unfortunately, that statement is no longer true. The world’s richest political entity, according to the CIA’s “World Factbook,” is the European Union. The EU’s 2006 GDP (gross domestic product—all goods and services produced domestically) was estimated to be slightly larger than that of the U.S. However, China’s 2006 GDP was only slightly smaller than that of the U.S., and Japan was the world’s fourth richest nation.

A more telling comparison that reveals just how much worse we’re doing can be found among the “current accounts” of various nations. The current account measures the net trade surplus or deficit of a country plus cross-border payments of interest, royalties, dividends, capital gains, foreign aid, and other income. For example, in order for Japan to manufacture anything, it must import all required raw materials. Even after this incredible expense is met, it still has an $88 billion per year trade surplus with the United States and enjoys the world’s second highest current account balance. (China is number one.) The United States, by contrast, is number 163—dead last on the list, worse than countries like Australia and the United Kingdom that also have large trade deficits. Its 2006 current account deficit was $811.5 billion; second worst was Spain at $106.4 billion. This is what is unsustainable.

It’s not just that our tastes for foreign goods, including imported oil, vastly exceed our ability to pay for them. We are financing them through massive borrowing. On November 7, 2007, the U.S. Treasury announced that the national debt had breached $9 trillion for the first time ever. This was just five weeks after Congress raised the so-called debt ceiling to $9.815 trillion. If you begin in 1789, at the moment the Constitution became the supreme law of the land, the debt accumulated by the federal government did not top $1 trillion until 1981. When George Bush became president in January 2001, it stood at approximately $5.7 trillion. Since then, it has increased by 45%. This huge debt can be largely explained by our defense expenditures in comparison with the rest of the world.

The world’s top 10 military spenders and the approximate amounts each country currently budgets for its military establishment are:

1. United States (FY08 budget), $623 billion
2. China (2004), $65 billion
3. Russia, $50 billion
4. France (2005), $45 billion
5. Japan (2007), $41.75 billion
6. Germany (2003), $35.1 billion
7. Italy (2003), $28.2 billion
8. South Korea (2003), $21.1 billion
9. India (2005 est.), $19 billion
10. Saudi Arabia (2005 est.), $18 billion

World total military expenditures (2004 est.), $1,100 billion
World total (minus the United States), $500 billion

Our excessive military expenditures did not occur over just a few short years or simply because of the Bush administration’s policies. They have been going on for a very long time in accordance with a superficially plausible ideology and have now become entrenched in our democratic political system where they are starting to wreak havoc. This ideology I call “military Keynesianism”—the determination to maintain a permanent war economy and to treat military output as an ordinary economic product, even though it makes no contribution to either production or consumption.

This ideology goes back to the first years of the Cold War. During the late 1940s, the U.S. was haunted by economic anxieties. The Great Depression of the 1930s had been overcome only by the war production boom of World War II. With peace and demobilization, there was a pervasive fear that the Depression would return. During 1949, alarmed by the Soviet Union’s detonation of an atomic bomb, the looming communist victory in the Chinese civil war, a domestic recession, and the lowering of the Iron Curtain around the USSR’s European satellites, the U.S. sought to draft basic strategy for the emerging cold war. The result was the militaristic National Security Council Report 68 (NSC-68) drafted under the supervision of Paul Nitze, then head of the Policy Planning Staff in the State Department. Dated April 14, 1950 and signed by President Harry S. Truman on September 30, 1950, it laid out the basic public economic policies that the United States pursues to the present day.

In its conclusions, NSC-68 asserted: “One of the most significant lessons of our World War II experience was that the American economy, when it operates at a level approaching full efficiency, can provide enormous resources for purposes other than civilian consumption while simultaneously providing a high standard of living.”

With this understanding, American strategists began to build up a massive munitions industry, both to counter the military might of the Soviet Union (which they consistently overstated) and also to maintain full employment as well as ward off a possible return of the Depression. The result was that, under Pentagon leadership, entire new industries were created to manufacture large aircraft, nuclear-powered submarines, nuclear warheads, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and surveillance and communications satellites. This led to what President Eisenhower warned against in his farewell address of February 6, 1961: “The conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience”—that is, the military-industrial complex.

By 1990, the value of the weapons, equipment, and factories devoted to the Department of Defense was 83% of the value of all plants and equipment in American manufacturing. From 1947 to 1990, the combined U.S. military budgets amounted to $8.7 trillion. Even though the Soviet Union no longer exists, U.S. reliance on military Keynesianism has, if anything, ratcheted up, thanks to the massive vested interests that have become entrenched around the military establishment. Over time, a commitment to both guns and butter has proven an unstable configuration. Military industries crowd out the civilian economy and lead to severe economic weaknesses. Devotion to military Keynesianism is, in fact, a form of slow economic suicide.

On May 1, 2007, the Center for Economic and Policy Research of Washington, D.C., released a study prepared by the global forecasting company Global Insight on the long-term economic impact of increased military spending. Guided by economist Dean Baker, this research showed that, after an initial demand stimulus, by about the sixth year the effect of increased military spending turns negative. Needless to say, the U.S. economy has had to cope with growing defense spending for more than 60 years. He found that, after 10 years of higher defense spending, there would be 464,000 fewer jobs than in a baseline scenario that involved lower defense spending.

Baker concluded:

“It is often believed that wars and military spending increases are good for the economy. In fact, most economic models show that military spending diverts resources from productive uses, such as consumption and investment, and ultimately slows economic growth and reduces employment.”

These are only some of the many deleterious effects of military Keynesianism.

Hollowing Out the American Economy

It was believed that the U.S. could afford both a massive military establishment and a high standard of living, and that it needed both to maintain full employment. But it did not work out that way. By the 1960s, it was becoming apparent that turning over the nation’s largest manufacturing enterprises to the Department of Defense and producing goods without any investment or consumption value was starting to crowd out civilian economic activities. The historian Thomas E. Woods, Jr., observes that, during the 1950s and 1960s, between one-third and two-thirds of all American research talent was siphoned off into the military sector. It is, of course, impossible to know what innovations never appeared as a result of this diversion of resources and brainpower into the service of the military, but it was during the 1960s that we first began to notice Japan was outpacing us in the design and quality of a range of consumer goods, including household electronics and automobiles.

Nuclear weapons furnish a striking illustration of these anomalies. Between the 1940s and 1996, the United States spent at least $5.8 trillion on the development, testing, and construction of nuclear bombs. By 1967, the peak year of its nuclear stockpile, the United States possessed some 32,500 deliverable atomic and hydrogen bombs, none of which, thankfully, was ever used. They perfectly illustrate the Keynesian principle that the government can provide make-work jobs to keep people employed. Nuclear weapons were not just America’s secret weapon, but also its secret economic weapon. As of 2006, we still had 9,960 of them. There is today no sane use for them, while the trillions spent on them could have been used to solve the problems of social security and health care, quality education and access to higher education for all, not to speak of the retention of highly skilled jobs within the American economy.

The pioneer in analyzing what has been lost as a result of military Keynesianism was the late Seymour Melman (1917-2004), a professor of industrial engineering and operations research at Columbia University. His 1970 book, Pentagon Capitalism: The Political Economy of War, was a prescient analysis of the unintended consequences of the American preoccupation with its armed forces and their weaponry since the onset of the Cold War. Melman wrote (pp. 2-3):

“From 1946 to 1969, the United States government spent over $1,000 billion on the military, more than half of this under the Kennedy and Johnson administrations—the period during which the [Pentagon-dominated] state management was established as a formal institution. This sum of staggering size (try to visualize a billion of something) does not express the cost of the military establishment to the nation as a whole. The true cost is measured by what has been foregone, by the accumulated deterioration in many facets of life by the inability to alleviate human wretchedness of long duration.”

In an important exegesis on Melman’s relevance to the current American economic situation, Thomas Woods writes:

“According to the U.S. Department of Defense, during the four decades from 1947 through 1987 it used (in 1982 dollars) $7.62 trillion in capital resources. In 1985, the Department of Commerce estimated the value of the nation’s plant and equipment, and infrastructure, at just over $7.29 trillion. In other words, the amount spent over that period could have doubled the American capital stock or modernized and replaced its existing stock.”

The fact that we did not modernize or replace our capital assets is one of the main reasons why, by the turn of the twenty-first century, our manufacturing base had all but evaporated. Machine tools—an industry on which Melman was an authority—are a particularly important symptom. In November 1968, a five-year inventory disclosed (p. 186) “that 64 percent of the metalworking machine tools used in U.S. industry were ten years old or older. The age of this industrial equipment (drills, lathes, etc.) marks the United States’ machine tool stock as the oldest among all major industrial nations, and it marks the continuation of a deterioration process that began with the end the Second World War. This deterioration at the base of the industrial system certifies to the continuous debilitating and depleting effect that the military use of capital and research and development talent has had on American industry.”

Nothing has been done in the period since 1968 to reverse these trends and it shows today in our massive imports of equipment—from medical machines like proton accelerators for radiological therapy (made primarily in Belgium, Germany, and Japan) to cars and trucks.

Our short tenure as the world’s “lone superpower” has come to an end. As Harvard economics professor Benjamin Friedman has written:

“Again and again it has always been the world’s leading lending country that has been the premier country in terms of political influence, diplomatic influence, and cultural influence. It’s no accident that we took over the role from the British at the same time that we took over… the job of being the world’s leading lending country. Today we are no longer the world’s leading lending country. In fact we are now the world’s biggest debtor country, and we are continuing to wield influence on the basis of military prowess alone.”

Some of the damage done can never be rectified. There are, however, some steps that this country urgently needs to take. These include reversing Bush’s 2001 and 2003 tax cuts for the wealthy, beginning to liquidate our global empire of over 800 military bases, cutting from the defense budget all projects that bear no relationship to the national security of the United States, and ceasing to use the defense budget as a Keynesian jobs program. If we do these things we have a chance of squeaking by. If we don’t, we face probable national insolvency and a long depression.

[Note: For those interested, click here to view a clip from a new film, “Chalmers Johnson on American Hegemony,” in Cinema Libre Studios’ Speaking Freely series in which he discusses “military Keynesianism” and imperial bankruptcy. For sources on global military spending, please see: (1) Global Security Organization, “World Wide Military Expenditures” as well as Glenn Greenwald, “The bipartisan consensus on U.S. military spending”; (2) Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, “Report: China biggest Asian military spender.”]

Chalmers Johnson is the author of Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic, just published in paperback. It is the final volume of his Blowback Trilogy, which also includes Blowback (2000) and The Sorrows of Empire (2004).

December 6, 2007

GREAT THANKS TO THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR WHO COMPILED THIS INFORMATIVE LIST…WHICH REALLY ONLY HITS THE HIGH POINTS…THE TRUE SCOPE OF WHAT LIBERTIES WE’VE BEEN SILENTLY ROBBED OF WILL PROBABLY NEVER BE KNOWN.

-JEREMIAS X

2001

January

Presidential directive delays indefinitely the scheduled release of presidential documents (authorized by the Presidential Records Act of 1978) pertaining to the Reagan-Bush administration. Link

Bush and Cheney begin process of radically broadening scope of documents and information which can be deemed classified. Link

February

The National Security Agency (NSA) sets up Project Groundbreaker, a domestic call monitoring program infrastructure. Link

Spring

Bush administration order authorizes NSA monitoring of domestic phone and internet traffic. Link

May

US Supreme Court rules that medical necessity is not a permissible defense against federal marijuana statutes. Link

September

In immediate aftermath of 9-11 terror attacks, Department of Justice authorizes detention without charge for any terror suspects. Over one thousand suspects are brought into detention over the next several months. Link (pdf)

October

Attorney General John Ashcroft announces change in Department of Justice (DOJ) policy. According to the new policy DOJ will impose far more stringent criteria for the granting of Freedom of Information Act requests. Link

September-October

NSA launches massive new database of information on US phone calls. Link

October

The USA Patriot Act becomes law. Among other things the law: makes it a crime for anyone to contribute money or material support for any group on the State Department’s Terror Watch List, allows the FBI to monitor and tape conversations between attorneys and clients, allows the FBI to order librarians to turn over information about patron’s reading habits, allows the government to conduct surveillance on internet and email use of US citizens without notice. The act also calls for expanded use of National Security Letters (NSLs), which allow the FBI to search telephone, email and financial records of US citizens without a court order, exempts the government from needing to reveal how evidence against suspected terrorists was obtained and authorizes indefinite detention of immigrants at the discretion of law enforcement and immigration authorities.

NJ Superior court judge and civil liberties scholar Anthony Napolitano, author of A Nation of Sheep, has described the law’s assault on first and fourth amendment principles as follows, “The Patriot Act’s two most principle constitutional errors are an assault on the Fourth Amendment, and on the First. It permits federal agents to write their own search warrants [under the name “national security letters”] with no judge having examined evidence and agreed that it’s likely that the person or thing the government wants to search will reveal evidence of a crime… Not only that, but the Patriot Act makes it a felony for the recipient of a self-written search warrant to reveal it to anyone. The Patriot Act allows [agents] to serve self-written search warrants on financial institutions, and the Intelligence Authorization Act of 2004 in Orwellian language defines that to include in addition to banks, also delis, bodegas, restaurants, hotels, doctors’ offices, lawyers’ offices, telecoms, HMOs, hospitals, casinos, jewelry dealers, automobile dealers, boat dealers, and that great financial institution to which we all would repose our fortunes, the post office. Link 1 | Link 2

November

Executive order limits release of presidential documents. The order gives incumbent presidents the right to veto requests to open any past presidential records and supercedes the congressionally passed law of 1978 mandating release of all presidential records not explicitly deemed classified. Link

2002

Winter

FBI and Department of Defense (DOD), forbidden by law from compiling databases on US citizens, begin contracting with private database firm ChoicePoint to collect, store, search and maintain data. Link

Spring

Secret executive order issued authorizing NSA to wiretap the phones and read emails of US citizens. Link

Spring

Transportation Security Adminstration (TSA) acknowledges it has created both a “No Fly” and a separate “Watch” list of US travelers. Link

May

Department of Justice authorizes the FBI to monitor political and religious groups. The new rules permit the FBI to broadly search or monitor the internet for evidence of criminal activity without having any tips or leads that a specific criminal act has been committed. Link

June

Supreme Court upholds the right of school administrators to conduct mandatory drug testing of students without probable cause. Link

November

Homeland Security Act of 2002 establishes separate Department of Homeland Security. Among other things the department will federally coordinate for the first time all local and state law enforcement nationwide and run a Directorate of Information and Analysis with authority to compile comprehensive data on US citizens using public and commercial records including credit card, phone, bank, and travel. The department also will be exempt form Freedom of Information Act disclosure requirements. The Homeland Security department’s jurisdiction has been widely criticized for being nebulously defined and has extended beyond terrorism into areas including immigration, pornography and drug enforcement. Link 1 | Link 2

2003

February

Draft of Domestic Security Enhancement Act (aka Patriot Act 2), a secret document prepared by the Department of Justice is leaked by the Center for Public Integrity. Provisions of the February 7th draft version included:

Removal of court-ordered prohibitions against police agencies spying on domestic groups.

The FBI would be granted powers to conduct searches and surveillance based on intelligence gathered in foreign countries without first obtaining a court order.

Creation of a DNA database of suspected terrorists.

Prohibition of any public disclosure of the names of alleged terrorists including those who have been arrested.

Exemptions from civil liability for people and businesses who voluntarily turn private information over to the government.

Criminalization of the use of encryption to conceal incriminating communications.

Automatic denial of bail for persons accused of terrorism-related crimes, reversing the ordinary common law burden of proof principle. All alleged terrorists would be required to demonstrate why they should be released on bail rather than the government being required to demonstrate why they should be held.

Expansion of the list of crimes eligible for the death penalty.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency would be prevented from releasing “worst case scenario” information to the public about chemical plants.

United States citizens whom the government finds to be either members of, or providing material support to, terrorist groups could have their US citizenship revoked and be deported to foreign countries.

Although the bill itself has never (yet) been advanced in congress due to public exposure, some of its provisions have become law as parts of other bills. For example The Intelligence Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2004 grants the FBI unprecedented power to obtain records from financial institutions without requiring permission from a judge. Under the law, the FBI does not need to seek a court order to access such records, nor does it need to prove just cause. Link 1 | Link 2

March

Executive order issued which radically tightens the declassification process of classified government documents, as well as making it far easier for government agencies to make and keep information classified. The order delayed by three years the release of declassified government documents dating from 1978 or earlier. It also allowed the government to treat all material sent to American officials from foreign governments — no matter how routine — as subject to classification, and expanded the ability of Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) to shield documents from declassification. Finally it gave the vice president the power to classify information. Link 1 | Link 2

March

In a ruling seen as a victory for the concentration of ownership of intellectual property and an erosion of the public domain, the Supreme Court in Eldred v. Ashcroft held that a 20-year extension of the copyright period (from 50 years after the death of the author to 70 years) called for by the Sonny Bono copyright Extension not violate either the Copyright Clause or the First Amendment. Link

April

In Demore v. Kim, the Supreme Court ruled that even permanent residents could be subject to mandatory detention when facing deportation based on a prior criminal conviction, without any right to an individualized hearing to determine whether they were dangerous or a flight risk. Link

Fall

The FBI changes its traditional policy of destroying all data and documents collected on innocent citizens in the course of criminal investigations. This information would, according to the bureau, now be permanently stored. Two years later in late 2005 Executive Order 13388, expanded access to those files for “state, local and tribal” governments and for “appropriate private sector entities,” which are not defined. Link 1 | Link 2

Fall

As authorized by the Patriot Act, the FBI expands the practice of national security letters. NSLs, originally introduced in the 1970s for espionage and terrorism investigations, enabled the FBI to review in secret the customer records of suspected foreign agents. This was extended by the Patriot Act to include permitting clandestine scrutiny of all U.S. residents and visitors whether suspected of terrorism or not. Link

2004

January

The FBI begins keeping a database of US citizens based on information obtained via NSLs. Link

Spring

John Ashcroft invokes State Secrets privilege to forbid former FBI translator Sibel Edmunds from testifying in a case brought by families of victims of the 9-11 attacks. Litigation by 9-11 families is subsequently halted. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme Court upholds Nevada state law allowing police to arrest suspects who refuse to provide identification based on police discretion of “reasonable suspicion.” Link

2005

January

Supreme court rules that police do not need to have probable cause to have drug sniffing dogs examine cars stopped for routine traffic violations. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme Court rules that the federal government can prosecute medical marijuana users even in states which have laws permitting medical marijuana. Link

Summer

The Patriot Act, due to expire at the end of 2005, is reauthorized by Congress. Link

Winter 2005

Senate blocks reauthorization of certain clauses in Patriot Act. Link

2006

March

Senate passes amended version of Patriot Act, reauthorization, with three basic changes from the original including: recipients of secret court orders to turn over sensitive information on individuals linked to terrorism investigations are not allowed to disclose those orders but can challenge the gag order after a year, libraries would not be required to turn over information without the approval of a judge, recipients of an FBI “national security letter” — an investigator’s demand for access to personal or business information — would not have to tell the FBI if they consult a lawyer. New bill also said to extend Congressional oversight over executive department usage guidelines. Shortly after bill is signed George Bush declares oversight rules are not binding. Link 1 | Link 2

June

Supreme court rules that evidence obtained in violation of the “knock and announce” rules can still be permitted in court. Link

September

US Congress and Senate approve the Military Commissions Act, which authorizes torture and strips non- US citizen detainees suspected of terrorist ties of the right of habeas corpus (which includes formal charges, counsel and hearings). It also empowers US presidents at their discretion to declare US citizens as enemy combatants and subject to detention without charge or due process. Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

October

John Warner Defense Authorization Act is passed. The act allows a president to declare a public emergency and station US military troops anywhere in America as well as take control of state based national guard units without consent of the governor or other local authorities. The law authorizes presidential deployment of US troops to round-up and detain “potential terrorists”, “illegal aliens” and “disorderly” citizenry. Link 1 | Link 2

2007

May

National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD-51) establishes a new post-disaster plan (with disaster defined as any incident, natural or man-made, resulting in extraordinary mass casualties, damage or disruption) which places the president in charge of all three branches of government. The directive overrides the National Emergencies Act which gives Congress power to determine the duration of a national emergency. Link 1 | Link 2

June

In “Bong Hits for Jesus” case Supreme court rules that student free speech rights do not extend to promotion of drug use. Link

July

Executive Order 13438: “Blocking Property of Certain Persons Who Threaten Stabilization Efforts in Iraq, issued. The order asserts the government’s power to confiscate the property “of persons determined to have committed, or to pose a significant risk of committing, an act or acts of violence that have the purpose or effect of threatening the peace or stability of Iraq or the Government of Iraq or undermining efforts to promote economic reconstruction and political reform in Iraq or to provide humanitarian assistance to the Iraqi people.”

October

The Violent Radicalization and Homegrown Terrorism Act passes the House of Representatives 400 to 6 (to be voted on in the Senate in 2008). The act proposes the establishment of a commission composed of members of the House and Senate, Homeland Security and others, to “examine and report upon the facts and causes of violent radicalization, homegrown terrorism, and ideologically based violence in the United States” and specifically the role of the internet in fostering and disseminating extremism. According to the bill the term ..violent radicalization’ means the process of adopting or promoting an extremist belief system for the purpose of facilitating ideologically based violence to advance political, religious, or social change, while the term ‘ideologically-based violence’ means the use, planned use, or threatened use of force or violence by a group or individual to promote the group or individual’s political, religious, or social beliefs.” Link 1 | Link 2 | Link 3

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

November 28, 2007

The Global Impact of Bush’s War Crimes in Iraq: King Midas in Reverse by Walter C. Uhler

by Walter C. Uhler
The Smirking Chimp
Nov 26 2007

Journalist Robert Fisk recently explained the Bush/Cheney abomination in the Middle East quite succinctly, when he asserted: “The world in the Middle East is growing darker and darker by the hour. Pakistan. Afghanistan. Iraq. “Palestine”. Lebanon. From the borders of Hindu Kush to the Mediterranean, we – we Westerners that is – are creating (as I have said before) a hell disaster. Next week, we are supposed to believe in peace in Annapolis, between the colorless American apparatchik and Ehud Olmert, the Israeli Prime Minister who has no more interest in a Palestinian state than his predecessor Ariel Sharon.” [Robert Fisk, “Darkness falls on the Middle East,” Independent.co.uk, 24 Nov. 2007]

On Friday, November 23rd, a bomb exploded in a pet market in central Baghdad. It followed a “brazen attack against U.S.-backed Sunni fighters on the southern belt of Baghdad” and a mortar and rocket attack on the Green Zone a day earlier that constituted “the biggest attack against the U.S.-protected area in weeks.” [Bushra Juhi, “Twin bombings Kill at Least 26 in Iraq,” Associated Press, 23 Nov. 2007]

You might keep such information in mind whenever you hear dishonest Republicans and feckless Democrats shy away from the awful truth about the “hell disaster” in Iraq and the Middle East.

And the awful truth is this: During the seven months preceding the Bush administration’s reckless, immoral, illegal and incompetent invasion of Iraq, the architects of that criminal war — Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, Rice, Powell, Wolfowitz, Feith and Perle — lied repeatedly about Iraq’s weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and links to al Qaeda, grossly exaggerated both the welcome American troops would receive and the ease with which democracy could be established in Iraq, while fraudulently understating the projected costs of their evil venture. In a word, our “MBA President” and his cronies failed to exercise due diligence with the American people.

Yet, while these criminals were preparing to commit their crime, critics of the proposed invasion were struggling to be heard, struggling to penetrate the herd mentality of the mainstream news media – which, except for some reporters at Knight Ridder, found itself shocked and awed by the administration’s war mongering propaganda. As we now know, post-invasion facts on the ground vindicated the critics, not only for doubting the Bush administration’s bogus claims about Iraq’s WMD and links to al Qaeda, but also for questioning the very need for preemptive (actually preventive) war and the very feasibility of forcing democracy at gunpoint.

Unfortunately, more than 31,000 American soldiers have been killed or wounded in the course of executing Bush’s criminal plans. Add to that figure “at least 20,000 U.S. troops who were not classified as wounded during combat in Iraq and Afghanistan…[now] found with signs of brain injuries.” [Gregg Zoroya, “Combat Brain Injuries Multiply,” USA Today, Nov. 23, 2007]

Moreover, although some 3,875 soldiers have died in Iraq since March 2003, 6,256 US veterans committed suicide in 2005 alone. According to CBS News, the suicide rate among veterans is double that of the civilian population and veterans aged 20 through 24 – those caught up in Bush’s war – had the highest suicide rates among all veterans. Finally, consider that almost 8,000 soldiers deserted the US Army during fiscal years 2006 and 2007.

Beyond such casualties, Bush’s war has strained the U.S. Army to the breaking point. As Army Chief of Staff, Gen. George Casey recently observed, “The current demand for our forces exceeds the sustainable supply.” According to Senator Jack Reed and security analyst Michele A. Flournoy, “Roughly half of the 2000 and 2001 West Point classes have already decided to leave the Army” citing multiple, back-to-back combat tours as the primary reason. Moreover, “roughly half of the U.S. Army’s equipment is in Iraq or Afghanistan, where the harsh environment and the high tempo of operations are wearing out equipment at up to 9 times the normal rate.”

Then, there’s the exorbitant cost of Bush’s war of choice. According to Democrats on the Joint Economic Committee, when the hidden costs of Bush’s war are considered, the total economic cost has exceeded $1.5 trillion. The surge in the price of oil, from approximately $37 per barrel at the beginning of the war to over $90 in recent weeks, constitutes a major portion of those hidden, but very real costs.

Finally, citizens of the United States have seen their liberties subverted by the Bush administration in the name of national security. Through the abuse of signing statements, the use of torture and the embrace of illegal wiretapping the Bush administration has moved America creepily closer to those horrid dictatorships its citizens once derided.

Yet, the costs to the United States constitute mere chump change when compared with the price paid by Iraqis. Life in Iraq during Bush’s reign of terror has been far worse than life was during the last years of Saddam’s brutal regime. Consider the national humiliation associated with America’s successful invasion, its brutal occupation and its degrading torture of prisoners at Abu Ghraib.

According to Robert Dreyfuss and Tom Engelhardt, “There are, by now, perhaps a million dead Iraqis, give or take a few hundred thousand. If a typical wounded-to-dead ratio of 3:1 holds, then you’re talking about up to 4 million war, occupation, and civil-war casualties. Now, add in the estimated 2-2.5 million who went into exile, fleeing the country, and another estimated 2.3 million who have had to leave their homes and go into internal exile as Iraqi communities hand neighborhoods were ‘cleansed.’”

As columnist Cesar Chelala recently wrote in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “One child dies every five minutes because of the war, and many more are left with severe injuries. Of the estimated 4 million Iraqis who have been displaced in Iraq or lest the country, 1.5 million are children.” Quoting from an assessment by 100 British and Iraqi doctors, Chelala adds: “sick or injured children, who could otherwise be treated by simple means, are left to die in the hundreds because they don’t have access to basic medicines and other resources. Children who have lost hands, feet and limb are left without prostheses. Children with grave psychological distress are left untreated.”

Chronic shortages in electricity persist. And, as Bobby Cain Calvan of McClatchy Newspapers reported on November 18th, “the percentage of Iraqis without access to decent water supplies has risen from 50 percent to 70 percent since the start of the U.S.-led war…The portion of Iraqis lacking decent sanitation…[has been] even worse – 80 percent.” Yet, the horrors in Iraq have been grossly underreported by America’s mainstream news media. As Dahr Jamail concludes in his new book, Beyond the Green Zone, “If the people of the United States had the real story about what their government has done in Iraq, the occupation would already have ended.” [p. 291]

One might ask how Bush and his co-conspirators are able to sleep at night, given all this blood and carnage on their hands. Why do they remain in office? Why haven’t they been impeached? Why haven’t they been thrown in prison?

But, then, one also might ask why the many conservative scholars and pundits who got everything so wrong — especially those despicable neo-cons – still fill opinion pages and the airwaves with their vile excuses for yet more war. Their latest con is to argue that the surge is working. Some dishonest clowns even mention the word “victory.”

Of course, they spew yet more propaganda designed to maintain or bolster the 70 percent of Republicans who still support Bush’s criminal war. (How different are they from Hitler’s die-hard supporters during World War II?) For example, one of the more obnoxious and consistently wrong neo-cons, Charles Krauthammer, waxed euphoric in his November 23rd column about just how well the surge was going in Iraq.

Yet, the 23rd was the day of the pet market blast, which had followed the previous day’s “brazen attack” in the southern belt of Baghdad and the rocket attack on the Green Zone. Those attacks prompted two reporters from the Los Angeles Times to suggest that “insurgents appeared intent on sending a message to U.S. and Iraqi officials that their recent expressions of optimism on the nation’s security were premature.”

But, then, consider the source. This is the very same Krauthammer who wrote in November 2001: [T]he way to tame the Arab street is not with appeasement and sweet sensitivity but with raw power and victory….The elementary truth that seems to elude the experts again and again…is that power is its own reward. Victory changes everything, psychology above all. The psychology in the [Middle East] is now one of fear and deep respect for American power. Now is the time to use it.” [Andrew J. Bacevich, The New American Militarism, p 93]

Tell me, Mr. Krauthammer, how’s the “fear and deep respect” playing out in the Middle East and the world in November 2007? How stupid could you be? And why are you still employed by the Washington Post?

The Post’s Thomas Ricks provides a more honest assessment. “I just got back from Baghdad last week, and it was clear that violence has decreased. But it hasn’t gone away. It is only back down to the 2005 level – which to my mind is kind of like moving from the eighth circle of hell to the fifth….I’ve interviewed dozens of officers and none were willing to say we are winning. What they were saying is that at least now, we are not losing.” [Editor & Publisher, Nov. 24, 2007] Yet, if you recall that, on May 12, 2004, General Richard Myers, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of staff, told a Senate committee, “There is no way to militarily lose in Iraq. There’s also no way to militarily win in Iraq,” you might want to question why we’re still there.

Anthony Cordesman recently published a more realistic appraisal of the surge. Titled, “Violence versus Political Accommodation: The True Elements of Victory in Iraq,” Cordesman credits the surge for playing a secondary role in reducing violence in Iraq. But he cautions: “It is still far from clear that US success against al Qaeda in the rest of central Iraq has brought stability and security to any mixed area where there is serious tension and violence. If anything, the fact that the ’surge’ has not halted the pace of Iraqi displacements and has often created a patchwork of Arab Shiite versus Arab Sunni divisions in towns and areas that extend far beyond Baghdad, has laid the ground for further struggles once the US is gone.” [p. 11]

Cordesman adds: “Most of Southern Iraq is now under the control of competing local and regional Shiite gangs,” which have become the “equivalent of rival mafias.” [p. 13]

More significantly, Cordesman concludes: “The US cannot win the war; it can only give Iraq’s central government and those leaders interested in national unity and political accommodation the opportunity to do so.” [p. 10] [N]o amount of American military success can – by itself – have strategic meaning.” [p. 13]

Finally, those who propagandize that the “surge” is working are advised to contemplate the work of MIT economist Michael Greenstone. As summarized in the December issue of The Atlantic, Greenstone has examined the financial markets in Iraq, especially the market for Iraqi state bonds. He found that “from the start of the surge earlier this year until September, there was a ’sharp decline’ in the price of Iraqi state bonds, signaling a ‘40% increase in the market’s expectation that Iraq will default’ on its obligations.”

The Atlantic article goes on to note: “Since the bonds are sold on international markets (hedge funds hold a large portion), where the profit motive eliminates personal and political bias, the trajectory of bond prices may be the most accurate indicator available for assessing America’s military strategy. And the data suggest that ‘the surge is failing to pave the way toward a stable Iraq and may in fact be undermining it.” [The Atlantic Dec. 2007, p. 26]

Consequently, were we merely limiting ourselves to the catastrophes that has bedeviled both the United States and Iraq as a consequence of Bush’s war, we’d be forced to conclude that Bush’s national security policy has the touch of King Midas in reverse. Everything Bush touches turns to shit!

Unfortunately, as serious pre-war scholars and critics feared and predicted, Bush’s King Midas touch in reverse has extended far beyond Iraq and the United States. Simply recall their warnings about the war’s impact on the price of oil, their fears that such a war might undermine US efforts against al Qaeda and the Taliban in Afghanistan, their concern that Bush’s invasion might inflame hatred of America throughout the Muslim world, their suspicions that Iran might be the principal beneficiary of a US-led invasion that placed Iraqi Shiites in power and their worries about how a destabilized Iraq might provoke intervention by it neighbors, Iran, Syria and Turkey, and thus embroil the entire region.

Thanks to the perverse King Midas touch of the Bush administration, Iran has indeed emerged as the most influential player in Iraq and Turkey is poised to invade Iraqi Kurdistan. Moreover, as Anne Applebaum has written in the Washington Post: [T] he collateral damage inflicted by the war on America’s relationships with the rest of the world is a lot deeper and broader than most Americans have realized.”

In support of Ms. Applebaum’s assertion, simply recall the words uttered to Condoleezza Rice in October 2007 by Tanya Lokshina, chairwoman of the Demos Center for Information and Research, a Russian human rights organization: The United States had “lost the high moral ground.” “The American voice alone doesn’t work anymore…The Russians are not influenced by it.” [Steven Lee Myers, New York Times Oct. 15, 2007]

Finally, mention also must be made of another catastrophe feared and predicted by the pre-war critics of Bush’s invasion, one which now looms on the horizon: the destabilization of nuclear armed Pakistan. As Robert Parry wrote in September 2002, “One reason a war with Iraq might increase, rather than decrease, the danger to the American people is that the invasion could spread instability across the Middle East and throughout the Muslim world…[impacting] most notably the dictatorship of Gen. Pervez Musharraf in Pakistan.”

As Parry observed: “Today, even as Musharraf cooperates with the U.S. war on terror, his regime is confronted by pro-al Qaeda factions both inside and outside his government. Many past and present Pakistani military officers continue to sympathize with the fundamentalists.” [Robert Parry, “Bush’s Nuclear Gamble,” [consortiumnews.com, September 30, 2002]

As if describing Bush’s reverse Midas touch in Pakistan, Juan Cole has observed: “The pressure the Bush administration put on the Pakistani military government to combat Muslim militants in that country weakened the legitimacy of [military dictator Pervez] Musharraf, whom the Pakistani public increasingly viewed as an oppressive American puppet.” Not content with such long-term undermining of its client dictator, the Bush administration then “brokered a deal whereby [Benazir] Bhutto was allowed to return to Pakistan.” But, “the huge explosion that greeted Bhutto in her home turf of Karachi…suggests that her arrival is hardly the remedy for Pakistan’s instability.” [Cole, Salon.com Oct. 24, 2007]

Thus, given its profoundly devastating King Midas touch that has rippled around the world, one can confidently predict that the Bush administration will further embolden militant Muslims and secure its legacy as the worst presidency in U.S. history by attacking Iran, thereby bringing America’s staggering and tottering empire crashing to the ground. Like Lenin, during the pre-revolutionary period in Tsarist Russia, it would be tempting to say, “the worse, the better” for America. Except: (1) I don’t believe the loss of empire will prompt Americans to wake up and (2) America’s fervent Bush-supporting crackpot Christians, seeing evidence for their long awaited Rapture and End Times in the calamities actually wrought by Bush, already have a stranglehold on Lenin’s dictum.

(More about such crackpot Christians in a future article).

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