Author Topic: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!  (Read 54925 times)

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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #80 on: January 31, 2010, 06:27:49 am »
Draft Defense Department budget avoids weapons cuts, adds aircraft

By Greg Jaffe and Craig Whitlock
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, January 30, 2010; A02

The Obama administration's 2011 defense budget avoids the controversial weapons cuts of last year, according to a draft copy, and continues to shift modest amounts of money to weapons programs such as helicopters, unmanned planes and Special Operations units that are in heavy use Afghanistan and Iraq.

The more than $700 billion budget will be released Monday with a congressionally mandated review of defense spending. That review calls on the Pentagon to focus more attention on wars in which enemy forces hide among the populace and use roadside bombs and hit-and-run ambushes to attack U.S. troops. The Quadrennial Defense review also predicts a future dominated by "hybrid" wars, in which traditional states will fight more like guerrillas and insurgents will arm themselves with increasingly sophisticated technology, such as antitank weapons and missiles.

The bold pronouncements in the review, however, won't drive big changes in the Pentagon budget, which is dominated by massive weapons programs with powerful constituencies in Congress and the defense industry.

"I think the review gets the diagnosis right on the big external challenges facing the Defense Department, but at the end of the day, the preexisting mismatch between the strategy and the [budget] program still exists," said Jim Thomas, who played a key role in writing the last quadrennial review and is now a vice president at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments.

Despite the language about new threats, a December draft of the quadrennial review doesn't mention the F-35 fighter jet program, which remains one of the largest and most expensive programs in the history of the military and has been in development for more than a decade.

Although Obama has proposed a three-year freeze on federal spending, he has exempted the Pentagon from these limits, allowing an increase of about 2 percent when the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are stripped out of the budget. In addition to the more than $700 billion budget, the president will also ask for about $33 billion to pay for the surge of about 30,000 troops into Afghanistan.

Much of the new spending in the 2011 budget will be directed to weapons programs in heavy use in Afghanistan. The budget calls on the Air Force to double the number of MQ-9 Reapers, which are unmanned planes that can carry precision bombs, over the next several years. The extra planes will allow the Air Force to increase from about 37 to 65 the number of long-range, unmanned surveillance aircraft that it can keep airborne during combat missions.

The Army and Marine Corps will get almost $10 billion for helicopters, which have been essential to moving troops across Afghanistan and have been in short supply since the beginning of the war in 2001. The budget also calls for increasing spending for Special Operations forces by about 6 percent, to $6.3 billion. Those forces have played a central role in places such as Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen, where they have trained indigenous counterterrorism troops.

The Pentagon's quadrennial review will formally scrap its past construct for determining the size of the force, which held that the military should be able to fight two major regional conflicts simultaneously. The review argues that the Pentagon today faces a much broader array of potential threats, including terrorism, stabilization missions and guerrilla wars, and acknowledges that in the near term, the demands of Iraq and Afghanistan will play the major role in determining the size of the U.S. military.

In contrast with last year, when Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates eliminated or curtailed several expensive conventional weapons programs, including the F-22 fighter jet, the new budget includes no major weapons cancellations and is likely to draw plaudits from the defense industry. For years defense industry executives have predicted that spending would be curtailed.

"You have to wonder whether the tough year is ever going to come," said Loren Thompson, chief operating officer of the Lexington Institute, a defense think tank.

The lack of big weapons cuts is causing some outcry from congressional Democrats. "I don't think that we have to protect military contractors. And I want to make that distinction very clearly," said House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Ca.). "I do not think the entire defense budget should be exempted."

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #81 on: February 02, 2010, 04:56:06 am »
Published on Monday, February 1, 2010 by Reuters

'Peace Prize' President Submits Largest War Budget Ever

by Reuters

Obama Seeks Record $708 Billion in Defense Budget

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama on Monday asked Congress to approve a record $708 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2011, including a 3.4 percent increase in the Pentagon's base budget and $159 billion to fund U.S. military missions in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan.

The White House budget request also included $33 billion in additional funding for fiscal 2010 to pay for increasing military and intelligence operations in Afghanistan and Pakistan, and drawing down U.S. forces in Iraq. That comes on top of $129.6 billion already provided for the current fiscal year, which ends September 30.

The Pentagon's base budget request of $549 billion is up $18 billion from $531 billion in fiscal 2010, and will pay for continued reforms of defense acquisitions, development of a ballistic missile defense system and care of wounded soldiers.

The budget also calls for cancellation of several major weapons programs, including Boeing Co's C-17 transport plane, saving $2.5 billion, and a second engine for the Lockheed Martin Corp F-35 fighter jet, saving $465 million in fiscal 2011 and more than $1 billion longer-term. The White House tried to kill both programs last year, but lawmakers revived them during the budget process.

The second engine is being developed by General Electric Co and Britain's Rolls-Royce as an alternate to the main engine built by Pratt & Whitney, a unit of United Technologies Corp.

The proposed budget also kills plans for development of a new Navy cruiser, scraps plans to replace the Navy's EP-3 intelligence aircraft and halts work on a missile early-warning satellite, opting instead to upgrade the Space Based Infrared System satellite already being developed by Lockheed.

The budget proposal also calls for a delay in replacing two new Navy command and control shops until after 2015, a move the White House said would save $3.8 billion across the Pentagon's five-year defense plan. The Navy had planned to buy one command ship in 2012, and a second one in 2014.

Procurement of a new amphibious vehicle being built by General Dynamics Corp for the Marine Corps would be delayed by one year, saving $50 million in fiscal 2011 and cutting risk by allowing more time for testing.

The Pentagon also said it would further reduce its use of high-risk contracts in areas that related to time, material and labor hours by 17 percent through the end of 2011.

The budget underscored the administration's commitment to a "robust defense against emerging missile threats," saying it would pay for use of increasingly capable sea- and land-based missile interceptors and a range of sensors in Europe.

The Pentagon's budget continues to fund new weapons already under development, including the F-35 fighter, a new ballistic missile submarine, a new family of ground vehicles and the P-8 surveillance aircraft built by Boeing.

It will also pay for more unmanned planes, helicopters, electronic warfare capabilities and cybersecurity measures.

Overall, the budget includes $112.8 billion for weapons procurement, up from $104.8 billion in fiscal 2010, and $76 billion for research and development, down from $80 billion.

Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; Editing by Lisa Von Ahn

© 2010 Reuters


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #82 on: February 02, 2010, 05:47:14 am »
9/11, Deep Events, and the Curtailment of U.S. Freedoms


A talk delivered to the New England Antiwar Conference, MIT, January 30, 2010.


By Prof Peter Dale Scott

February 01, 2010 "Global Research" -- Hello everyone! I’m honored to be invited to this important anti-war conference. As I am in the final stages of editing my next book, The Road to Afghanistan, I have been turning down invitations to speak. But I was eager to accept this one, and to join my friends and others in debunking the war on terror, the false justification for the Afghan-Pakistan war.


Let me make my own position clear at the outset. There are indeed people out there, including some Muslim extremists, who want to inflict terror on America. But it is crystal clear, as many people inside and outside government have agreed, that it makes this problem worse, not better, when Washington sends large numbers of U.S. troops to yet another country where they don ‘t belong.[1]


A war on terror is as inappropriate a cure as a U.S. war on drugs, which as we have seen in Colombia makes the drug problem worse, not better. The war on terror and the war on drugs have this in common: both are ideological attempts to justify the needless killings of thousands – including both American troops and foreign civilians --  in another needless war.


Why does America find itself, time after time, invading countries in distant oil-bearing regions, countries which have not invaded us? This is a vital issue on which we should seek a clear message for the American people. Unfortunately it has been an issue on which there has been serious disagreement dividing the antiwar movement, just as it divided people, even friends, inside the anti-Vietnam War movement of the 1960s.


Perhaps many of you in this room know that there was disagreement between Noam Chomsky and myself in our analysis of how America entered the Vietnam War. This did not stop Noam and I from speaking out on the same platform against the war, or remaining friends, even after our public disagreements. There was too much on which we agreed.


Let me turn to today’s topic, the war on terror, by reading a long quote from Noam Chomsky in 2002, with which I fully agree:


"the war on terrorism was not declared on September 11 [2001]; rather, it was redeclared, using the same rhetoric as the first declaration twenty years earlier. The Reagan administration, as you know, I'm sure, came into office announcing that a war on terrorism would be the core of U.S. foreign policy, and it condemned what the president called the "evil scourge of terrorism. " …. International terrorism was described as a plague spread by "depraved opponents of civilization itself," in "a return to barbarism in the modern age.”"[2]


Today it is easy to see the falsehood of the government rhetoric in the 1980s about heroic freedom fighters fighting the “evil scourge of terrorism.” Most of the CIA money in the 1980s went to the terrorist drug trafficker Gulbeddin Hekmatyar, remembered for his habit of throwing acid in the faces of women not wearing burkas. Hekmatyar did not represent Afghan aspirations for freedom, but the interests of the U.S. ally Pakistan. As a true Afghan leader said in 1994, “We didn't choose [him]. The United States made Hekmatyar by giving him his weapons.”[3] To describe Hekmatyar’s men as freedom fighters was a fraud.


Chomsky had no trouble perceiving as a “fraud” the Tonkin Gulf incidents that led the U.S. to attack North Vietnam, and the resulting Congressional resolution that had already been drafted some months in advance.[4] But he is not interested in the close analogies between the Tonkin Gulf incidents of 1964 and the 9/11 incidents of 2001, which were almost immediately followed by the Patriot Act, likewise already drafted well in advance. Chomsky argues that the 9/11 movement has drawn “enormous amounts of energy and effort away from activism.”[5] But the strong analogies between the Tonkin Gulf deception and the 9/11 deception have energized and activated me, and not me alone.


It is clear that exposure of McNamara’s deceptions about the Tonkin Gulf incidents, especially in the Fulbright hearing of 1968, was an important factor in slowly changing Congress’s mind about Vietnam. It is my earnest hope that exposure of Cheney’s deceptions about 9/11, and particularly about what he did that day, will someday help end Congressional funding for the Afghan War.


I do not know the truth of what happened on 9/11. I do know for a certainty that there has been a cover-up of 9/11; and also, what the 9/11 Commission itself admits, that there has been high-level governmental lying about what happened, and what didn’t happen, on that day. It became clear to me early on that 9/11 was another in a string of what I have called “deep events” -- which I define in my forthcoming book as


events which are systematically ignored, suppressed, or falsified in public (and even internal) government, military and intelligence documents, as well as in the mainstream media and public consciousness. Underlying them is frequently the involvement of deep forces linked to either the drug traffic or to agencies of surveillance (or to both together), whose activities are extremely difficult to discern or document.[6]


For Noam the falsification and lying are not particularly important: he prefers to focus on the continuous imperialist expansion of the United States into other parts of the world, and he hopes to persuade decent Americans to stop this expansion. For me in contrast deep events are of crucial importance, in part because their dishonesty provides us with a chance to counter ideology with truth. Each of us can say, rightly, that the method of the other has not yet stopped America from fighting wars. My appeal to you today is to accept that both approaches are needed in the antiwar movement.


I have been thinking about deep events for two decades, ever since I wrote a book about the Kennedy assassination with the title, Deep Politics. Since 9/11 I have been more and more convinced that


1)by studying deep events as a whole, we can see the underlying aspects of them more clearly.[7]


2)however we analyze them, deep events have contributed collectively to the further erosion and corruption of American politics, which today are in the worst shape they have been since the McCarthyism era in the 1950s.


That is to say, even if you believe that Lee Harvey Oswald shot the president and did it alone, it is clear that the Warren Commission used it to increase CIA surveillance of Americans. As I wrote in Deep Politics, this was the result of


the Warren Commission's controversial recommendations that the Secret Service's domestic surveillance responsibilities be increased (WR 25-26). Somewhat illogically, the Warren Report concluded both that Oswald acted alone (WR 22), …, and also that the Secret Service, FBI, CIA, should coordinate more closely the surveillance of organized groups (WR 463). In particular, it recommended that the Secret Service acquire a computerized data bank compatible with that already developed by the CIA.[8]


This pattern would repeat itself four years later, with the assassination of Robert Kennedy. How many of you are aware that, in the 24 hours between Bobby’s shooting and his death, Congress hurriedly passed a statute – again drafted well in advance – that still further augmented the secret powers given to the Secret Service?[9] Don’t think that this was a trivial or benign change: from this ill-considered act, passed under Johnson, flowed some of the worst excesses of the Nixon presidency.


In the chaos and violence at the Chicago Democratic Convention of 1968, army intelligence surveillance agents, seconded to the Secret Service, were present, both inside and outside the convention hall. Some of them equipped the so-called “Legion of Justice thugs whom the Chicago Red Squad turned loose on local anti-war groups.”[10] The presence of army intelligence agents at the convention was authorized by the statute passed while Bobby Kennedy was dying.[11]


This brings us to 9/11. On that day, before the last plane had crashed in Pennsylvania, the White House authorized the institution of so-called COG plans. There is no doubt that COG was introduced – The 9/11 Report confirms it twice, on pages 38 and 326.[12]  And I have little doubt that the COG plans, still in force today under President Obama, are the justification for the surveillance agents who are with you in the room as I speak to you at this moment. I have written that they are also the probable source for the Patriot Act, and also for the Department of Homeland Security’s Project Endgame -- a ten-year plan to expand detention camps, at a cost of $400 million in Fiscal Year 2007 alone.[13] The worst features of the Bush decade were apparently all sketched out in COG planning – warrantless surveillance, warrantless detention, even suspension of our constitutional right of habeas corpus, first granted by Magna Carta in 1215.


I can’t see you, but I’m going to ask you to raise your hands if you haven’t heard about COG. If you haven’t, please google for Cheney and COG when you get home (2.5 million hits), and perhaps even add “peter dale scott” to the search (9,470 hits).

You will find that officially “COG” stands for “Continuity of Government” planning. I always say that we should think of it as “Change of Government” planning, since it was well summarized 22 years ago by Alphonso Chardy in the Miami Herald as plans for “suspension of the Constitution…emergency appointment of military commanders…and declaration of martial law.”[14]


Much is known about COG plans, and much more is not known. We know that the ultra-secret planning began in 1981 under Reagan and then Oliver North, and continued under George H.W. Bush and Clinton. Two of the key planners were Cheney and Rumsfeld, the two men who implemented it under 9/11, even though when Clinton was president both men, both Republicans, were heads of major corporations and not even in the government.[15]


We learned that COG planning was still active in 2007, when President Bush issued National Security Presidential Directive 51 (NSPD 51), which extended for one year the emergency proclaimed on September 14, 2001, and empowered the President to personally ensure "continuity of government" in the event of any "catastrophic emergency." He announced that NSPD 51 contains "classified Continuity Annexes" which shall "be protected from unauthorized disclosure." Under pressure from his 911truth constituents, Congressman DeFazio of the Homeland Security Committee twice requested to see these Annexes, the second time in a letter signed by the Chair of his committee.


His request was denied, indicating that (as I wrote in Counterpunch)


the systems of checks and balances established by the U.S. Constitution would seem to be failing…  Continuity of Government planning has arguably already superseded the Constitution as a higher authority.[16]


One of the post-Watergate reforms so detested by Vice-President Cheney was the National Emergencies Act. It requires specifically that “Not later than six months after a national emergency is declared, …, each House of Congress shall meet to consider a vote on a joint resolution to determine whether that emergency shall be terminated.”[17]


Former Congressman Dan Hamburg and I appealed publicly last year to Obama to terminate the emergency, and to Congress to hold the hearings required of them by statute.[18] But Obama, without discussion, extended the 9/11 Emergency again on September 10, 2009;[19] and Congress has continued to ignore its statutory obligations. One Congressman explained to a constituent that the provisions of the National Emergencies Act have now been rendered inoperative by COG. If true, this would seem to justify Chardy’s description of COG as suspension of the Constitution.


I want to conclude by addressing those of you who may think that I exhibit the kind of conspiratorialist mentality once criticized by G. William Domhoff, the naïve belief “that if we get rid of a few bad people, everything will be well in the world.”[20]


My own position is still that which I articulated two decades ago years ago in response to Domhoff:


I have always believed, and argued, that a true understanding of the Kennedy assassination will lead not to `a few bad people,’ but to the institutional and parapolitical [or deep political] arrangements which constitute the way we are systematically governed.[21]


Michael Parenti has endorsed what I wrote, and added, “In sum, national security state conspiracies [or what I am here calling deep events] are components of our political structure, not deviations from it.”[22]


Thanks to 9/11, followed by COG, we now have a military command in the United States (NORTHCOM), unprecedented surveillance of both foreign nationals and U.S. citizens, and plans for massive detention of folks like you and me, if our protests should begin to threaten the war machine.


I call on you all to devise how to outwit these forces that are distorting our society.


The beginning of an antiwar movement is the time when it is hardest to be hopeful of success. And if what I have been saying is relevant, it will be harder now than in the 1960s to get our message to the American people. . This makes especially relevant some inspiring words I would like to quote from the late Howard Zinn, who died last Wednesday:


To be hopeful in bad times is not just foolishly romantic. It is based on the fact that human history is a history not only of cruelty, but also of compassion, sacrifice, courage, kindness. What we choose to emphasize in this complex history will determine our lives. …. The future is an infinite succession of presents, and to live now as we think human beings should live, in defiance of all that is bad around us, is itself a marvelous victory.[23]





[1] Cf. RAND Corporation, “How Terrorist Groups End: Implications for Countering al Qa'ida,” Research Brief, RB-9351-RC (2008), “Minimize the use of U.S. military force. In most operations against al Qa'ida, local military forces frequently have more legitimacy to operate and a better understanding of the operating environment than U.S. forces have. This means a light U.S. military footprint or none at all.”

[2] Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda (New York: Seven Stories Press, 2002),

[3] New York Times, March 13, 1994. Robert D. Kaplan reported his personal experience that Hekmatyar was “loathed by all the other party leaders, fundamentalist and moderate alike” (Robert D. Kaplan, Soldiers of God: With Islamic Warriors in Afghanistan and Pakistan [New York: Random House, 1990], 68-69).

[4] Noam Chomsky, For Reasons of State (New York: Vintage, 1973), 102; cf. 109.

[5] “Chomsky Dismisses 911 Conspiracy Theories As 'Dubious,’”, December 13, 2006,
[6]  Peter Dale Scott, The Road to Afghanistan: The War Machine, the CIA, and the Global Drug Connection (forthcoming)

[7] See for example Peter Dale Scott, The War Conspiracy: JFK, 9/11, and the Deep Politics of War (Ipswich, MA: Mary Ferrell Foundation Press, 2008), 341-96.

[8] Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 280.

[9] Peter Dale Scott, Paul L. Hoch, and Russell Stetler, The Assassinations: Dallas and Beyond (New York: Random House, 1976), 443-46.

[10] George O’Toole, The Private Sector (New York: Norton, 1978), 145; quoted in Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 278-79.

[11] Joan M. Jensen, Army Surveillance in America, 1775-1980 (New Haven: Yale UP), 244.

[12] 9/11 Commission Report, 38, 326; Scott, Road to 9/11, 228-29.

[13] Scott, Road to 9/11, 238, 240-41.

[14] Chardy, Miami Herald,  July 5, 1987; Scott, Road to 9/11, 241.

[15] Scott, Road to 9/11, 183-87.

[16] Peter Dale Scott, “Congress, the Bush Administration and Continuity of Giovernment Planning: The Showdown,” Counterpunch, March 31, 2008,

[17] 50 U.S.C. 1622 (2002); Peter Dale Scott and Dan Hamburg, “Help Force Congress To Observe the Law on National Emergencies,” March 24, 2009,

[18] Peter Dale scott, "To All Readers: Help Force Congress To Observe the Law on National Emergencies!!!" (with Dan Hamburg), http.//, March 24, 2009,

[19] White House Press Release, September 10, 2009,
A press briefing by Obama’s spokesman Robert Gibbs the same day did not mention the extension.

[20] G. William Domhoff, in Jonathan Vankin, Conspiracies, Cover-Ups, and Crimes: Political Manipulation and Mind Control in America (New York: Paragon House, 1991), 125-26.

[21] Scott, Deep Politics and the Death of JFK, 11.

[22] Michael Parenti, Dirty Truths: Reflections on Politics, Media, Ideology, Conspiracy, Ethnic Life and Class Power (San Francisco: City Lights Books, 1996), 188.   

[23] Howard Zinn, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train: A Personal History of Our Times (Boston: Beacon, 2002), 208.

© Copyright Peter Dale Scott, Global Research, 2010

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #83 on: February 02, 2010, 05:55:40 am »
War Spending Surges in President Obama's Budget


February 01, 2010 "" -- President Barack Obama’s new budget, to be released Monday, forecasts two consecutive years of near $160 billion in war funding, far more than he hoped when elected and only modestly less than the last years of the Bush Administration.

In 2011 alone, the revised numbers are triple what the president included in his spending plan a year ago. And the strain shows itself in new deficit projections, already hobbled by lagging revenues due to the weak economy.

The administration appears to be projecting a deficit of near $1.6 trillion for the current year and $1.3 trillion in 2011. That is even more pessimistic than Congressional Budget Office estimates last week, and it’s only in 2012 that the projections drop to the range of $800 billion to $700 billion.

By the end of the decade, the gap again widens, and as a percentage of GDP, the average appears above the 3% target viewed as sustainable.

Obama has responded with a three-year domestic spending freeze impacting about $447 billion in annual appropriations. This leaves him less money to sustain the very rapid growth seen last year in clean water programs or the Great Lakes restoration initiative. The Environmental Protection Agency budget would be cut modestly, and to stretch his dollars, Obama wants to dramatically ramp up the Energy Department’s credit budget, a low-cost way to extend tens of billions in loan guarantees to the nuclear power industry.

But on balance, the president’s plan seems less restrictive in many areas than lawmakers had anticipated. With the Senate having just passed a $1.9 trillion debt ceiling increase last week, fiscal moderates in his own party may insist on even tighter limits.

Obama’s 2010 starting point for the freeze has a built-in cushion since billions in Census spending won’t have to be repeated in 2011. He appears to count expanded Pell Grant funding for low-income college students as a mandatory cost outside the Education Department’s discretionary budget. And both Veterans Affairs and Homeland Security, two of the fastest areas of recent spending, are exempted from the freeze.

The VA is slated to get significant new money to speed the processing of claims, and billions more will be requested this year to resolve old disputes related to soldiers and airmen exposed to Agent Orange in the Vietnam War.

In the case of education, a top priority for the president, the department’s appropriations would grow by about $3.5 billion to $49.7 billion, a 7.5% increase. But when Pell Grants are counted, the total increase is closer to $11.4 billion or 16% above current spending.

Other departments, like Health and Human Services and Labor, receive smaller increases, more in the range of inflation or less. But within these totals, the National Institutes of Health would grow by about $1 billion or 3%. Community health centers and Head Start are also promised increases, and a teen pregnancy program would be expanded from $100 million to almost $180 million.

Mindful of the strain on state and local law enforcement budgets, substantial increased funding is provided for the hiring of police officers under the COP’s program within the Justice Department.

The budget’s increased war funding is not entirely surprising given Obama’s decision to add more U.S. forces in Afghanistan. And his early estimates for 2011 in last year’s budget were always suspect and more of a “plug” than real.

Nonetheless, seeing everything in a single budget brings the war costs more into focus. Democrats are increasingly agitated by the pace of withdrawal from Iraq, and the combined costs of the two wars is striking –especially when measured against the much more hopeful rhetoric of Obama’s campaign.

The president’s 2010 defense budget a year ago requested $130 billion for operations in Afghanistan and Iraq and just $50 billion in 2011. The new budget ramps up 2010 spending to $163 billion and for 2011 requests $159 billion in overseas contingency funds for the military.

This reverses the drop in war-related spending seen in fiscal 2009, which ended last Sept 30th and was a transition year of sorts between the two administrations. When compared to the peak war spending of the Bush years, Obama is only about 10% below Bush’s annual average of $176 billion in fiscal years 2007 and 2008—the time of the Iraq war surge.

Core defense spending is also feeling the strain and the president’s $549 billion request reflects less than 2% real growth over inflation. At a time when the administration is emphasizing jobs creation, this sets up what could be bitter election-year fights with fellow Democrats over plans to halt airplane and truck production important to employment California and the Midwest.

For example, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is expected to redouble his campaign against the C-17 transport plane this year, much as he successfully went after F-22 production last year. And while the Pentagon is making a huge commitment to the F-35 joint strike fighter, production will slip a year to allow more testing and Gates wants to rollback efforts in Congress to develop an alternate engine for the fighter.

The 2011 budget debate won’t hit full stride until this spring, but Democrats may move earlier than usual on a supplemental spending bill for the current fiscal year.

The Defense Department is seeking $33 billion in additional war-related funding on top of which the State Department will also be receiving additional funds for its beefed up operations in Afghanistan. Rep. John Murtha (D-Pa.), chairman of the House defense appropriations panel, wants to include any requests related to Haiti in the same package, and the VA appears to be pursuing its own 2010 supplemental request in the new budget related to Agent Orange claims.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #84 on: February 03, 2010, 03:56:30 am »
Published on Tuesday, February 2, 2010 by Inter Press Service

New Defense Strategy Envisions Multiple Conflicts

by Matthew Berger

WASHINGTON - A report and budget request from the U.S. Defense Department released Monday reveal both new and old priorities for President Barack Obama's Pentagon.

Strategically, the military recognizes new, non-traditional threats ranging from failed states to cyber-warfare to climate change. But there is little change in the military spending habits of the Obama Pentagon versus that of his predecessor.

The new Quadrennial Defense Review, a Congressionally mandated report on the direction of U.S. national security strategy, marks several major breaks from past reports. Whereas previous QDRs have had at their heart a strategy in which the country is able to fight two separate conventional wars, Monday's report shifts the focus to multiple and diffuse simultaneous threats.

"We have learned through painful experience that the wars we fight are rarely the wars we plan," Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters at the Pentagon Monday afternoon.

New threats require new responses, and the report emphasizes having increased numbers of special forces, drones and helicopters as well as preparing for conflicts that take place in the realms of counterinsurgencies and cyberspace.

"Although it is a man-made domain, cyberspace is now as relevant a domain for DoD activities as the naturally occurring domains of land, sea, air, and space," the report notes.

The report no longer lays out just how many conflicts the military should be called on to fight.

Charles Knight, co-director of the Commonwealth Institute's Project on Defense Alternatives, sees this as problematic.

"They had never in the past defined what they meant [by a two-war strategy] but at least it had the number two in it... now you can go on forever dreaming up possible military engagement," he said.

Among the objectives of the Pentagon's strategy is the aphoristic "prevail in today's wars," which Gates noted is appearing in a QDR for the first time. "Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress," he explained.

The strategy also hopes to "prevent and deter conflict" which Gates sees as happening through increased funding for diplomacy and development since the largest future threats will potentially come from "failed and fractured states."

New to the report this time around is a section on preparing for climate- and energy-related challenges. Climate change will affect the DoD's operations, the report says, citing a previous report showing how "climate-related changes are already being observed in every region of the world."

It mentions rising sea levels, water shortages, melting Arctic ice, and extreme weather events as effects that could have geopolitical impacts.

"While climate change alone does not cause conflict, it may act as an accelerant of instability or conflict, placing a burden to respond on civilian institutions and militaries around the world. In addition, extreme weather events may lead to increased demands for defense support to civil authorities for humanitarian assistance or disaster response both within the United States and overseas," the QDR says.

The report also lays out how the military is addressing climate-related issues, both in its own operations - in terms of reducing DoD's reliance on fossil fuels, for instance - and in helping develop energy efficient and renewable technologies.

The Pentagon sees energy security - "assured access to reliable supplies of energy and the ability to protect and deliver sufficient energy to meet operational need" - as a strategic priority, and one which greener energy can help it secure.

Fiscal Year 2011 defense budget

This strategic planning represents the broad groundwork for the White House's decisions on what to keep in and cut from the military budget, their proposals on which were also released Monday.

This fiscal year 2011 budget request calls for a record 708 billion dollars in defense spending. This includes 159 billion dollars for the ongoing operations in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan as well as an additional 33 billion to be added onto the FY2010 budget for those operations, which had been budgeted at 129.6 billion.

The budget request would also cut funding for several major weapons programs. The White House had also called for these cuts last year before Congress rejected them, likely due to pressure from well-funded defense contractor groups.

Monday, Gates called for an end to the "quixotic pursuit of high-tech equipment," saying "every defense dollar spent on a program excess to real-world military needs is a dollar not spent [elsewhere]."

The defense budget still represents an increase of 3.4 percent from FY2010, which continues a rising defense budget trend begun under President George W. Bush.

"When including war costs, Pentagon spending has grown by 70 percent in real terms since 2001," noted the Center for a New American Security's Travis Sharp in a policy brief Monday.

Sharp goes on to point out that when evaluating the size of the DoD budget as a percentage of GDP, it is lower than at most points over the past 50 years.

"Policymakers should not rely on too heavily on any single metric - whether dollars expressed in real terms or as a percentage of GDP - and thereby ignore the complexities inherent in something as unwieldy as the U.S. defense budget," Sharp concludes.

But some see the fact that Obama has been maintaining a Bush-era level of defense spending as inherently problematic.

Miriam Pemberton, an analyst at the Institute for Policy Studies, is critical that the cuts do not go far enough.

"I think that this is a post-9/11 budget that tries to focus on asymmetric threats instead of major theater wars, but the problem is all the procurement and hardware for major theater war. They've sort of added on to the old tech instead of replacing it," she contends. "It's a budget of add-ons instead of choices. They haven't made many hard choices."

"What stands out is how little has changed from the Bush administration to the Obama administration," Knight said.

But he does note one major shift under Obama. Speaking of the QDR, he said "the writing is much better... the ideological rhetoric is toned down, but the outcome is very, very similar. We still have the same defense policy. Basically, it's just been dressed up in a different way."

© 2010 IPS North America


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #85 on: February 03, 2010, 05:42:19 am »
Baffle Them with Bull Feathers

By Commander Jeff Huber

Bull Feather Merchants discussed how fighting propaganda wars became the Pentagon’s primary mission during young Mr. Bush’s administration. This piece describes how the ubiquitous warmongery continues to manipulate American and the world into a constant state of armed conflict.

Candidate Obama stepped into a steaming pile of gotcha when he promised to "finish the job" in Afghanistan. He did so in response to heat he was taking for having voted in the Senate against the surge that turned out to be such a "success" and that, as FOX News noted, his presidential opponent "John McCain courageously fought for." The "successful surge" in Iraq has been one of the warmongery’s most successful PR ploys to date.

As official stenographer to the General David Petraeus and former journalist Thomas E. Ricks has artlessly blabbed, "King David" did, indeed, "betray us." Petraeus misled Congress and the public into believing he was trying to create conditions in Iraq "that would allow our soldiers to disengage" when he was actually creating conditions that would support the Pentagon’s Long War, a stratagem that will keep America’s military, especially its Army, engaged in low level, indecisive conflicts against numerically and technologically inferior opponents for 50 years or longer.
To pacify critics of the war, Petraeus artificially reduced violence statistics through bribery and by cooking the figures: Sunnis killed by Sunnis, Shiites killed by Shiites, Iraqis killed by car bombs and people shot in the front of the head instead of the back of the head didn’t count. High-ranking officials at the five-sided echo chamber repeated the "successful surge" mantra at every opportunity, as did Republican politicians and wonks hoping to put McCain in the White House.

The rabid right media amplified the message, and the bovine mainstream media, petrified at the prospect of losing more audience share to AM radio and FOX News hate jockeys, meekly crawled aboard the bandwagon, promulgating brainwash disguised as news. To this day, despite credible and available evidence and testimony that Iraq’s government and security forces are corrupt and incompetent, that political reconciliation is nowhere in sight, that political violence and intimidation is rampant, that attacks still take place at a frequency and intensity that would not be acceptable in any nation we don’t happen to be occupying, the Long War propaganda apparatus continues to tout the "success of the Iraqi surge."

Where Do We Find Such Men?

Much of the war mafia’s conquest of the narrative has been its success in promoting our four-star generals into five star deities. Otherwise hard-nosed media pundits and moderators across the political spectrum turn into blubbering idolaters in the presence of a Petraeus or a Stanley McChrystal. Congressional testimony from these guys should be X-rated: lipstick neocon Joe Lieberman and his hawkish buddies go into states of full blown estrous, and everybody else, mainly the Democrats, are afraid to ask the generals any tough questions for fear of being called a pack of limp-wristed peace pansies.

The Rovewellian rhetoric of the Bush years insisted that the commander in chief was wisely doing what his generals recommended. As any slow child could tell you, that merely meant Bush picked generals that told him what he wanted to hear. When it was time to deflect criticism that we hadn’t committed enough troops to Iraq, the generals in charge said we had plenty of troops. When Bush got desperate after the drubbing his party suffered in the 2006 election, and decided to send more troops to Iraq, he got him a general (Petraeus) who told him he needed more troops.

The myth that our generals are infallible persists even though everything they’ve done proves otherwise. Petraeus’s successes have been a sham; that he’s managed to thrive is a testimony to his genius for self-serving hucksterism. You can’t count the number of times you’ve heard that Petraeus "wrote the book" on counterinsurgency. The only part of legendary Field Manual 3-24 Petraeus wrote was his name at the bottom of the cover letter. (Though we should give the devil his due. Petraeus’s signature is pretty much the only part of the manual that wasn’t plagiarized.)

The Pentagon sold Petraeus protégé McChrystal to the Senate as a counterinsurgency expert. McChrystal’s only real combat command experience involved assassinating suspected bad guys along with whatever civilians happened to be within the frag pattern at Dick Cheney’s behest. Image-makers have toiled Herculean to make Petraeus and McChrystal seem superhuman. Tom Ricks gushed like Joe Lieberman in a 2007 NPR interview as he recounted the spectacle of Petraeus besting teen-age privates in one-arm pushup contests, and McChrystal’s public relations staff made a point of ensuring the world knows that he only eats one meal a day and sleeps just a few hours a night. That should have told everyone paying attention that Petraeus’s military genius consists of penchant for staging flashy displays of chickensh**t and that McChrystal is permanently goofy from the effects of long-term malnourishment and sleep deprivation.

But these two brass-hatted humbugs know how to manipulate the media and baffle Congress and the public with bull feathers, as does Joint Chiefs chairman Admiral Mike Mullen, whose father was a high profile Hollywood publicity agent. The way they polluted the information environment to mousetrap Obama into going along with the Afghanistan surge was eye-watering. In another era — most notably the Truman administration days — an insubordinate stunt like that would have gotten Petraeus, McChrystal and Mullen transferred to Civilian Command. However, the three amigos currently at the top of the armed forces pile are connected and valued in high places, especially in the defense industry and the Congress, both of which have a vested interest in making the Long War as long as possible.

That’s the most frightening part of the recent Supreme Court ruling that allows politicians to guzzle every last drop of campaign financing that corporations can afford to pour down their throats. The ruling is an all’s-in-free for the military-industrial-congressional-media complex to keep us in never-ending counterproductive wars that we get to pay for.

Originally posted at

Commander Jeff Huber, U.S. Navy (Retired) writes at Pen and Sword . Jeff's novel Bathtub Admirals (Kunati Books), a lampoon on America's rise to global dominance, is on sale now.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #86 on: February 03, 2010, 06:29:33 am »
Budgets, War and Blind Ambition: The Limited Minds of the American Elite

by Chris Ames and Richard Norton-Taylor

February 2, 2010

The American elite's unbounded, unquestioned, indeed unconscious sense of imperial entitlement and dominance -- based ultimately on war, the threat of war and the profit from war -- is one of the defining characteristics of our age. And if you would like to see a glaring example of this attitude in action, look no further than the front page of Tuesday's New York Times, where one David Sanger gives us his penetrating "news analysis" of the Administration's just-announced $3.8 trillion budget.

Sanger focuses on the huge, continuing deficits that the budget forecasts over the next decade. Completely ignoring the plain truth that his own expert source tell him later in the story -- that "forecasts 10 years out have no credibility" -- Sanger boldly plunges forward to tell us just what it all means. You will not be surprised to hear that the upshot of these big deficits is that neither Obama nor his successors will be able to spend any money on "new domestic initiatives" for years to come. But let's let Sanger, savant and seer, tell it in his own words:

In a federal budget filled with mind-boggling statistics, two numbers stand out as particularly stunning, for the way they may change American politics and American power.

The first is the projected deficit in the coming year, nearly 11 percent of the country’s entire economic output. That is not unprecedented: During the Civil War, World War I and World War II, the United States ran soaring deficits, but usually with the expectation that they would come back down once peace was restored and war spending abated.

But the second number, buried deeper in the budget’s projections, is the one that really commands attention: By President Obama’s own optimistic projections, American deficits will not return to what are widely considered sustainable levels over the next 10 years. ...

For Mr. Obama and his successors, the effect of those projections is clear: Unless miraculous growth, or miraculous political compromises, creates some unforeseen change over the next decade, there is virtually no room for new domestic initiatives for Mr. Obama or his successors. Beyond that lies the possibility that the United States could begin to suffer the same disease that has afflicted Japan over the past decade. As debt grew more rapidly than income, that country’s influence around the world eroded.

What is most interesting here, of course, is not Sanger's noodle-scratching over imaginary numbers projected into an unknowable future, but his total and apparently completely unconscious adoption of the mindset of militarist empire. For as he puzzles and puzzles till his puzzler is sore on how in God's name the United States can possibly find any money at all to spend on bettering the lives of its citizens over the next 10 years, it becomes clear that Sanger -- like the rest of our political and media elite -- literally cannot conceive of an end to empire. Our elites and their courtiers literally cannot imagine life without a permanent war for global dominance, fueled by a gargantuan war machine spread across hundreds and hundreds of bases implanted in more than 100 countries.

And so this consideration, this possible outcome, does not figure in Sanger's "analysis" because it cannot: it lies far outside the scope of his consciousness. The only possible alternative he can conceive to the empire's bloody and bankrupting business as usual is some kind of divine intervention, "miraculous growth" or some "miraculous political compromise."

And make no mistake: the "miraculous political compromise" he is talking about has nothing to do with ending or even trimming the empire. A "compromise" on this issue could only be posited if there was some present conflict over it. But both parties are deeply committed to increasing spending on the wars and the war machine.

No, by "compromise" Sanger means some sort of "Grand Bargain" between the parties to cut Social Security and Medicare, along the lines of the "blue-ribbon panel" of entitlement cutters now being pushed by the Obama Administration. An effort to impose this kind of elitist, unaccountable commission failed in the Senate a few weeks ago -- although the Republicans have proposed such panels before, they didn't like this one because Obama proposed it -- but the idea will keep coming back.  Sanger and the elite will doubtless get their "miracle" of slashing the remaining bits of the safety net to shreds in due time.

For these are the only possibilities for deficit-cutting that Sanger can even remotely contemplate: some whiz-bang new techno gizmo -- or maybe some hot new "financial instruments" cooked up by Wall Street -- that will goose the economy with a bright new bubble ... or else finally telling our old, sick, vulnerable and unfortunate to just crawl off and die already. That's it. That's all that our elite can envision.

Yet the ending of the imperial wars and the dismantling of America's global military empire -- and its global gulag -- would save trillions of dollars in the coming years. Not only from direct military spending, but also from the vastly reduced need for "Homeland security" funding in a world where the United States was no longer invading foreign lands, killing their people, supporting their tyrants -- and inciting revenge and resistance.

This would release a flood of money for any number of "new domestic initiatives," while also giving scope for deep tax cuts across the board. Working people would thrive, the poor, the sick and the vulnerable would be bettered, businesses would grow, opportunity would expand, the care and education of our children would be greatly enhanced, our infrastructure could be repaired and strengthened, our environment better cleansed and cared for. In short, people could keep more of their own money while government spending could be directed toward improving the quality of life of all the nation's citizens.

This is no utopian vision. Many problems, much suffering would remain. But it would be a better society -- more humane, more just, more secure, more peaceful, more prosperous than it is now. Such an alternative is entirely achievable, by ordinary humans; it would require no divine miracles, no god-like heroes to bring it about.

But such a society is precisely what our elites cannot -- or, to be more accurate, will not -- imagine. Because, yes, it would "erode" their "influence" around the world to some extent. Although they would still be comfortable, coddled and privileged, they could no longer merge their individual psyches with the larger entity of a globe-spanning, death-dealing empire -- a connection which, although itself a projection of their own brains, gives them a forever-inflated sense of worth and importance.

And on a more prosaic level, the end of empire would mean an end to the horrendous economic distortion wrought by our war-profiteering industries. Other businesses would inevitably come to the fore, economic activity would be spread more evenly across more sectors. And so, yes, those who have feasted so gluttonously for so long on blood money would not be quite as rich as they are now.

A better world -- again, not perfect, by no means perfect, but much better -- is entirely possible. We could easily dismantle the empire -- carefully, safely, with deliberation -- over the next ten years. It is a reasonable, moderate, serious option. It would not require violent revolution or vast social upheaval. But our elites do not want this. They can no longer fathom life without the exercise -- and worship -- of unrestricted power that empire entails. They will not accept -- or even contemplate -- any alternative to it.

And thus every option and policy we are offered -- whether from right-wing Republicans or "progressive" Democrats, or from "serious" news analysts on "serious" papers -- must fall within these pathetically cramped, constricted mental horizons. Empire -- the imposition of dominion by violence and threat of violence, and the financial and moral corruption this breeds, the malevolent example it sets at every level of society -- is the canker in the body politic. Until it is dealt with, there will be no healing, no hope, no change -- just more degradation and disaster all down the line.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #87 on: February 03, 2010, 06:49:54 am »
Obama's Budget Calls for Billions in New Spending for Drones

BY Jason Leopold

Truthout , February 2, 2010

This is how major US defense contractors reacted to the unveiling of President Barack Obama's fiscal year 2011 spending plan for the Pentagon, part of the president's overall $3.8 trillion budget proposal.

Shares of General Dynamics, a maker of military aircraft, submarines and munitions, rose 3.9 percent and closed at $69.43 in trading on the New York Stock Exchange, the uptick due in large part to additional spending on the war in Afghanistan, according to Sanford Bernstein, a financial research firm.

Northrop Grumman Corp., which builds unmanned spy planes and ships, rose 2.3 percent to close at $57.92. Boeing Co., a manufacturer of aircraft carriers, shares increased by 1.8 and closed at $61.70. Lockheed Martin's shares rose 37 cents to close at $74.89. Raytheon Co., a missile supplier, was up by a percentage point to close at $52.96, while shares of L-3 Communications Holdings, a firm that supplies intelligence gathering and monitoring equipment, was up 1.6 percent to close at $84.64. And shares of Harris Corp soared 4.2 percent to close at $44.74. Harris manufactures tactical radios utilizes encryption technology.

All in all, it was a good day for the military-industrial complex.

Indeed, Craig Fraser, an aerospace and defense analyst with debt ratings firm Fitch Ratings, said the Defense Department's record $708 billion base budget, up $18.2 billion or 3.4 percent, was "better than we expected, across the board." The spending covers the fiscal year which begins October 1, and runs through September 30, 2011. Adjusted for inflation, the defense budget is the largest  since World War II.

The budget was released along with the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), which for the first time in years has done away with the concept that the US must be prepared to wage two wars at once. The QDR says the US must be prepared for broader security challenges, which includes investing in technologies to battle threats from al-Qaeda.

Travis Sharp, a defense budget analyst at the Center for American Security, said the Pentagon's base budget represents a 40 percent increase since 2001 and when the costs of the wars are factored in overall defense spending has increased by 70 percent.

Sharp said the base spending plan for 2011 is 3.5 percent of gross domestic product. Adding in war costs, it comes out to 4.6 percent of GDP. Obama has called a three-year spending freeze on domestic programs, but the Defense Department is exempt from the proposal.

About $159 billion will be used to continue funding the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan identified in the budget as "overseas contingency operations." The wars have already topped $1 trillion.

Separately, the Obama administration also asked Congress to immediately approve a $33 billion emergency supplemental it included with the budget, which comes on top of $130 billion lawmakers approved late last year, to immediately pay for the troop surge in Afghanistan. The $33 billion is not included in the Pentagon's $708 billion spending package. So that means the Pentagon's actual spending proposal comes to $741 billion.

On the campaign trail, Obama vowed not to finance the war using emergency supplmental requests. Rather, he said he would pay for the wars out of the Pentagon's overall budget. But this is the second time Obama has asked Congress to approve emergency funds for the wars. The Bush administration financed the Iraq and Afghanistan wars with emergency funding requests that were swiftly approved by Congress.

Aside from the size of the defense budget, another controversial aspect of it is what it will fund. More than $2 billion will be used to purchase unmanned aerial vehicles, or drones, which the Obama administration has used increasingly over the past year to target suspected terrorist hideouts in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The drones, which the administration wants to double in production, have been blamed for a significant rise in civilian casualties.

"The Budget ... bolsters Unmanned Aerial Vehicles, helicopters, and cyber capabilities and electronic warfare, which are key components in the ongoing task of rebalancing the military to focus on current and emerging threats," according to a copy of the Defense Department budget.

For the first time, according to The Los Angeles Times, the Air Force is proposing the purchase of more drones than combat aircraft and will double the production of the MQ-9 Reaper, "a bigger, more heavily armed version of the Predator drone, to 48. The Army will also buy 26 extended-range Predators."

"The expansion will allow the military to increase unmanned patrols - the number of planes in the air at once - to 65, up from its current limit of 37," The Los Angeles Times noted.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates told reporters Monday that the use of drones will continue to increase "even as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan eventually wind down."

"The more we have used them, the more we have identified their potential in a broader and broader set of circumstances," Gates said.

Spending on the Predator and Reaper drones will jump from $877.5 million in 2010 to $1.4 billion next year.

The budget also says "a major goal of the administration is to provide the troops with the most effective and modern equipment possible."

"To accomplish this, the 2011 Budget continues to develop and procure many advanced weapons systems that support both today’s wars and future conflicts," according to the budget. "These include: the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, a new family of ground vehicles, new ships such as the next generation ballistic missile submarine, and the P-8 aircraft."

In a speech at West Point last year announcing his revised strategy for the Afghanistan, Obama said, "we can't simply afford to ignore the price of these wars."

But that's exactly what it appears the Obama administration has done.
Spending on the wars for the next two years is projected to hover around $159 billion, which is only slightly less than what the Bush administration spent during its last years in office. The proposed spending for 2011 is three times more than what Obama projected it to be a year ago and the soaring costs of juggling two wars has a major impact on new deficit numbers.

While Obama said in his State of the Union address last week that creating new jobs for Americans is now his "number one priority for 2010," the massive defense spending his budget proposes will actually do the opposite, according to Dean Baker, co-director for the Center for Economic and Policy Research.

In a report published on Truthout last November, Baker said, "defense spending means that the government is pulling away resources from the uses determined by the market and instead using them to buy weapons and supplies and to pay for soldiers and other military personnel. In standard economic models, defense spending is a direct drain on the economy, reducing efficiency, slowing growth and costing jobs."

"For some reason, no one has chosen to highlight the job loss associated with higher defense spending," Baker wrote at the time. "In fact, the job loss attributable to defense spending has probably never been mentioned in a single news story in The New York Times, Washington Post, National Public Radio, or any other major media outlet. It is difficult to find a good explanation for this omission."

Baker would be just as disappointed reading the latest round of news reports on  defense spending. Not a single mainstream media story discusses how defense spending increases will have on job growth.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #88 on: February 03, 2010, 06:54:57 am »

by Sherwood Ross

February 2, 2010

America is "a nation that seeks war" and if it doesn’t change it could end up destroying itself, a law school dean warns.

Given all the wars the United States has waged, "It is preposterous but true that we do not see ourselves as a nation that seeks war," writes Lawrence Velvel, dean of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. "We see ourselves as a peace loving nation" and that message is constantly drummed into the public by government and media.

Since World War Two, an indisputably necessary conflict, Velvel points out the U.S. has fought the Korean War, the Viet Nam War, secret wars in Laos and Cambodia, the First Gulf War, Afghanistan, and the Second Gulf War in Iraq. It has also invaded, bombed or "quarantined" Panama, Grenada, Cuba, Haiti, Somalia, the Sudan, Bosnia, Kosovo, Serbia and Libya, and has "declared" a global war on terrorists.

"If the United States were a man instead of a country, we would say he must be schizophrenic, or at minimum deeply mentally disturbed, to believe he is peace loving in the face of a record like this," Velvel writes in "The Long Term View," a journal of informed opinion published by his law school.

Velvel further notes the U.S. today spends more on military than perhaps all the rest of the world put together and definitely more than the next 21 highest-spending nations combined, including China, Russia, Britain, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, and Israel.

Not only do Americans always appear to be at war but they believe they fight only in good causes, he writes. "We believe we at all times fight only to do God’s work, and that we therefore have to fight or democracy, freedom, and economic affluence will be lost," Velvel writes. He says truth cannot be permitted to intrude "because it would destroy our self image."

"Certainly much of the rest of the world---probably most of the rest of the world---does not see us as peaceloving." Gulf War II, Velvel notes, is having the opposite impact on public opinion the U.S. intended. "It has caused Muslims---the Arab 'street,’ in particular---to hate our guts even more than they already did."

Among the reasons USA fights so often, Velvel writes, are economic imperialism, a desire to remain preeminent, the glorification of war by the media, hubris, the stupidity of the nation’s leaders and the failure to prosecute them for their war crimes, and the inability to learn from past errors.

Writing of economic imperialism, Velvel reminds that in 1898 Americans realized the nation’s capacity to produce had outrun the domestic market’s capacity to consume and that a vibrant economy required overseas markets and coaling stations for the Navy warships that would protect overseas trade. "Nothing has really changed, except that today we call it globalization and defend it as bringing wealth to all when in fact it has worsened the dire poverty of many."

Gulf War I, he writes, "was fought for oil, not to stop tyranny despite President Bush 1’s lying efforts to portray it as a fight for freedom in Kuwait---which is at best an autocracy."

Velvel judges that many, if not most, Americans "are loathe to admit that we are an imperialist power, but it inarguably has been true since 1898. (Year of the Spanish-American War.)"

He goes on to warn that, "It is only we, not any enemy, who are going to end up crippling our own country through constant warfare if we do not get off the warmongering kick we have been on for at least 100 years." Velvel quotes President Lincoln’s words on the subject that, "If destruction be our lot, we must ourselves be its author and finisher. As a nation of freemen, we must live through all time, or die by suicide."

Author Velvel says the idea that the U.S. favors war too much and engages in military action too much does not mean that he is a pacifist. "It (this article) is based not on a view that we must never kill anyone, but rather on the view that we too often choose to kill people---far too many people---and that we do so for insufficient reasons, with far too few good results and, too often, very bad results."

(Further Information: Sherwood Ross, media consultant to Massachusetts School of Law at Andover. [email protected] ; 305-205-8281 305-205-8281 )

The Massachusetts School of Law at Andover is a non-profit law school purposefully dedicated to the education of students from minority, immigrant, and low-income households who would otherwise not have the opportunity to obtain a legal education.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #89 on: February 05, 2010, 04:59:10 am »
Government Propagandists in Corporate Media

When independent journalists challenge US wars, government propagandists attack in the comments
By Carl Herman

February 04, 2010 "LA County Nonpartisan Examiner" Feb. 03, 2010 -- The US Senate Church Committee disclosed in 1975 that more than over 400 government propagandists had infiltrated American corporate media to manipulate public opinion on key policies, including war. CIA Director William Colby testified that Operation Mockingbird had been operational since the late 1940s to control what was reported through American television, newspapers, and magazines. President Ford fired Colby after his testimony and replaced him with George H. W. Bush. Bush Sr. ended the CIA’s testimony, stating that there were no other programs of concern to disclose and promised that the CIA would no longer influence the media (for Bush Sr.’s lies to initiate the first war with Iraq, click here).
We know in the present that government propagandists appeared over 4,500 times as “experts” in the PR run-up to the current war in Iraq, corporate media refuses to clearly communicate the essential news that ALL the claims for war were known to be false at the time they were told and US wars are “emperor has no clothes” obviously unlawful. The American public is recognizing the propaganda in corporate media by deserting them to embrace alternative sources.
Therefore, since we know that government-sponsored Operation Mockingbird propaganda is active today, and we know that people are abandoning corporate propaganda sources in favor of articles such as this one, put yourself in the shoes of Operation Mockingbird management and imagine your strategic responses to this type of article.
I imagine the first responses include paying propagandists to raid and pollute the comments sections with a full variety of their rhetorical fallacies. While I have no easy way to prove this is happening, I’d like to share with you a thread with one of the more sophisticated detractors from the factual topics of the article.
This is from my article: All 27 UK Foreign Affairs lawyers: Iraq war unlawful. Obama, politicians, US media: no response. Let's consider professional propagandist strategy. The article discloses stunning testimony that all the international law lawyers in the UK understood the Iraq war as unlawful.
To shill for continued war, propagandists would have to deflect this news by distraction or undermine the news' significance. One tactic is to obfuscate the meaning of the UN Charter law to prevent law; to essentially communicate that a law against war cannot actually stop a war because it's so vague to shift easily under interpretation. Another tactic is to argue that law has no meaning; that laws are not laws. Both Orwellian tactics are evident below. I invite you to see them for what they are: criminal complicity for unlawful war that has killed over a million, caused horrible suffering for multiples more, and done under our flag with trillions of our long-term tax dollars.
The comments are in order from first to last, and follow my “Comment policy” that is reprinted below that explicitly addresses the possibility of propaganda infiltration in the comments to discourage intelligent discussion of the facts.
I hope the following dialogue is helpful to improve your sophistication to recognize and crush propaganda.
wow says:
"The owners of the major news stations are defense contractors who have a conflict of interest when it comes to war."

Viacom (CBS), Disney (ABC), Rupert Murdoch (Fox), TimeWarner (CNN) are all big defense contractors? That would be news to their stockholders.

Only place that accusation has any merit is GE/NBC - and GE is about to sell off NBC.
February 1, 11:51 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Attacking comments because you have nothing to say about the article’s topic (as usual)? Welcome back to my policy: either make your comments pertinent to the article topic or I’ll delete your comments.

You lie by omission by ignoring Operation Mockingbird whereby the Church Senate Committee disclosed the Department of Defense was in collusion with corporate media to propagandize for war. So yes, corporate media and War Department (removing the disinformation title of Defense) are conflicted in their interests. They will not report this story and hammer it to make clear that the war in Iraq is obviously unlawful.

If you want your voice heard, defend 1441 as a justification for war as legitimate criticism to the article’s topic, or justify why corporate media shouldn’t report to the American public the information in this article, or justify our duopolistic political silence. Why don’t the corporations you list demand Obama and Republican leadership’s response to this news?
February 1, 12:04 PM
wow says:
Get out of the '60s, Herman - the media world is a significantly different environment than what Church dug into.

Did the major media organizations stump for war in Iraq? Pretty much, yes, with notable exceptions like Knight Ridder's national bureau.

But was it because they were owned by defense contractors? No.

First, as I pointed out, most are not owned by defense contractors. Second, they jumped on a national bandwagon and ratings chase, especially the TV folks who were seduced by the prospect of embedded live TV crews.

They also were neatly suckered by the Rumsfeld's retired expert analysts, one of the more effective Pentagon PR (propaganda) campaigns in decades.

But dismissing it all as 'defense contractor ownership" completely misses the real problem.
February 1, 12:36 PM
wow says:
As for the meat of YOUR article, allow be to address an area in which I have some expertise: Your claime that "Concentrated US corporate media will not report the Chilcot inquiry “emperor has no clothes” facts and conclusion that the current US wars are unlawful."

Even a quick search of US news sources finds extensive coverage of Blair's testimony and British reactions by ABC, CNN, NPR, PBS, Washington Post, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and even the Voice of America.

So your claim is not supported by facts.
February 1, 12:39 PM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
I’m in 2010 pointing out concentrated corporate domination of “news.” Readers should read the link in "Comments policy" to confirm the Pentagon propagandists you point to as “effective” rather than shills for unlawful wars who should have chosen their oath of enlistment to defend the US Constitution rather than Wars of Aggression. Ratings chase? You throw away history confirmed in 1975 with ongoing evidence of continuance of a designed propaganda program through corporate media.

You fail, as usual, to address the topic: all 27 UK Foreign Office lawyers agree for the simple reasons I show in the article that the war in Iraq is an unlawful War of Aggression. In this case, you intentionally try to confuse corporate propaganda of vaguely reporting “an inquiry” with real reporting of US/UK criminal wars. Conflicted-in-interest corporate media obfuscate rather than explain what the UN Charter demands for lawful war and the obviously false claim that 1441 is legal justification.
February 1, 1:01 PM
wow says:

Try "clueless and confused."

What you see as conspiracy (and ignore 35 years of history), those who have any knowledge of the American media recognize as a really bad combination of ineptness, ignorance, and tunnel vision compounded by pressures to 'feed the beast' and 'get the scoop.'

Broadcast media have problems seeing beyond the next 'top of the hour;' print media is focused on slowing the red ink.

And most media pros know that they are doing a crappy job these days - but can't figure out how to fix it.

But when you begin your criticisms by accusing them of blatant evil intent, without a clue as to what their real problems are, don't expect them to beat a path to your door with false 'mea culpas.'

On the other hand, if they were half as controlled as you claim, they already would have destroyed you publicly.

On the other point, don't confuse characterization of "effective" as an expression of approval.
February 1, 1:27 PM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
What you lie about as “clueless” is Operation Mockingbird and the other disclosures from the link in the Comment policy section above. Why don’t you acknowledge this history, wow? You lie that professional journalists who wanted a “scoop” wouldn’t just headline: “Iraq War unlawful; new Nuremberg Trials?”

The laws of the UN Charter are so easy to understand, the “excuse” of 1441 so tragic-comic, this is propaganda for everyone to see, and you, wow, are in the serious position of determining what your life’s expression is going to advocate: paper-thin propaganda for mass-murder or a better-late-than-never “Scrooge conversion.”

“Approval”??? nobody cares about your opinion, wow. The topic of this article is the war is unlawful. Show us you’re not a propagandist, wow: either state the obvious that the Iraq war is unlawful, orders pertaining to it must be refused, and government must arrest then prosecute (or Truth and Reconciliation), OR explain how it's lawful.

February 1, 4:10 PM
wow says:
Herman, you slander me - I did acknowledge the history, but unlike you I also recognize things change over time: "...the media world is a significantly different environment than what Church dug into."

I also pointed out Rumsfeld's program of getting retired generals on air to promote his views. Of course, you ignore that it was that same "corporate media" that exposed the propaganda program.

As for the "laws" of the UN Charter, they have been repeatedly demonstrated as unenforceable - by your definition of "war of aggression," every one of the Permanent Members of the Security Council (the nations with veto power) have been in violation at one time or another. There's no one to Watch the Watchers.

Deal with reality: The US Government through self-deception got itself into a stupid, unnecessary war in Iraq and now has to find the best way out of the situation. It seems, finally, to be moving in that direction.
February 2, 6:36 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
You confirm Operation Mockingbird and the Pentagon’s allowed disinformation for the Iraq war lies. You then can’t explain why corporate media don’t headline, “Iraq War unlawful” while trying to make today’s corporate media sound different from propaganda control. Because Americans used to believe in a free press, effective propaganda must include minor revelation of truth to give the appearance of freedom. Corporate media ratings’ are plummeting and they don’t expose the huge story of unlawful war that would propel them to media leadership. Hmm, is that because they’re the propaganda arm for this unlawful war? Nah, wow must be right that this time they’re not lying, just ineffective!

You lie that laws are unenforceable. They can be, and are not. More…
February 2, 8:55 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: And you admit this current war is in violation of law! So it follows that all US government and military must immediately refuse orders, arrest those who issue them, and prosecute, right? That would cause the Watchers unlawful war to stop right now. But no, wow, you in your fascist world view slide right back to supporting a War of Aggression. And when the facts are clear that this war is in complete violation of law, you call it “self-deception” and pat the murderers on the back for now “moving in the best way out of the situation.”

If you were in any position of authority with your propaganda, you would be in danger of arrest for conspiracy for Crimes Against Humanity, Crimes Against Peace, and treason.

We’ll see if people like me who advocate Truth and Reconciliation are the stronger voice than those who prefer full prosecution, If you were such an official propagandist, wow, I’d consider my “Scrooge conversion” invitation seriously.
February 2, 8:54 AM
wow says:
Where did I "admit this current war is in violation of law"? I said it was stupid and unnecessary.

As for the media not trumpeting your "unlawful war" claims, how about because in general they don't believe your legal logic?

The Iraq operation was authorized by Congress; for most Americans, including most journalists, that AT MOST means the US Government has rejected the positions of other members of the UN. For many, it simply means the USA remains a sovereign nation.

Since then, there has been a lot of reporting about the inaccurate claims of WMDs, links to al Qaeda, and assorted other justifications for invading Iraq - in general, questioning why. You refuse to acknowledge that.

We all realize that you believe anyone who disagrees with you in any way must therefore be a fascist propagandist - but in the real world, it is possible to disagree about legal interpretations. (See numerous 5-4 Supreme Court decisions for example.)
February 2, 9:48 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Oh, I’m sorry. I thought you were admitting the UN Security Council permanent members in violation; I misread you.

Congress authorized discretionary use of force, but limited by the UN Charter, you liar. All reasons for going to war with Iraq are now known as lies AS THEY WERE TOLD, you liar. You try to confuse obfuscating corporate reporting with this clear fact. Interested readers can read the documentation at “Are US wars in Iraq and Afghanistan well-intended mistakes? What we now know from the evidence”. More…
February 2, 10:15 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: Ok wow: explain how UNSC Resolution 1441 justifies war. Do so now, or yes, I’ll stand with my propagandist assumption of your identity. The war in Iraq is as legal as if during the Super Bowl, a defensive lineman grabbed the ball while the offense was in their huddle, passed it to the free safety at the sidelines who then ran into the endzone. Because Americans know football rules and not the UN Charter, Americans could never be fooled by a propagandist announcer and “referees” that what occurred was a touchdown. We would know the game was rigged and what happened on the field was not even close to legal.

But regarding the mostly-unknown rules for lawful and unlawful war of the UN Charter, Americans’ faith in good government and honest media has been insidiously turned against them to manipulate their payment of taxes and enlistment to fight in wars that are as close to legal as our football example. More…
February 2, 10:15 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: The UN Charter has been a public document for 65 years, is written in simple language, and was designed in letter and spirit to be crystal-clear in its provisions to forever end war as a foreign policy option. This fact, like a rule in football, is open to anyone’s verification. As in football when people have just a little experience in understanding the rule, egregious violations become impossible to commit without being caught. However, a well-designed law or rule is worthless if it’s not widely known, not honored, and not enforced.

Leges Sine Moribus Vanae
Laws without morals are in vane. – Horace, Book III, ode 24

Finally, wow: explain how UNSC Resolution 1441 justifies war. Do so now, or yes, I’ll stand with my propagandist assumption of your identity and delete your further comments as distracting from the main topic of this article: lawful or unlawful war in Iraq.
February 2, 10:15 AM
wow says:
I don't have to explain 1441; I haven't claimed it justified invading Iraq.

For that matter, you slanderous child of unmarried parents, I've never claimed invading Iraq was justified, period - something you repeatedly ignore in your lies and misrepresentations.

I'll state one final time: Any law that cannot be enforced is meaningless.

And nothing in the UN Charter is enforceable if any one of the Five Permanent Members exercises its veto. History has clearly demonstrated that the UN prohibition against war is toothless.

Now, demonstrate some intellectual honesty, integrity and courage and let this stand.

Or prove once again that you are a paranoid and delusional coward who cannot face anyone questioning your "expertise."
February 2, 10:45 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Then you have no legal justification for war, as war is unlawful unless authorized by the UNSC or a narrow definition of self-defense until the UNSC rules. You throw away the victory of WW2 that my father, uncle and father-in-law fought, the unfulfilled promise of WW1 as a “war to end all wars” that both my grandfathers fought, and stand with following the dictates of an American leader (Fuhrer) because you insultingly whine “law CANNOT be enforced.” This, after insinuating in your last comment its possible to interpret the war is legal and then withdraw from supporting that ridiculous propaganda that is the topic of this article. More…
February 2, 11:22 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: The UN Charter isn’t enforced because of people like you, wow, who refuse to demand its structure be honored. The US Constitution isn’t being enforced in many areas because of people like you, wow, who refuse to demand its structure be honored. Unalienable rights are the foundation of this country wow; they arose from the declaration of human beings for their recognition and are enforced or not at human beings’ will, not from their whines it cannot be done.

You refuse to acknowledge the Iraq war is as unlawful as my football analogy. Instead you argue that the world’s law to end the scourge of war is “meaningless.” You stand against the US Constitution and the US-initiated treaty of the UN Charter’s elimination of war as a foreign policy option. And then you call those of us standing for these American values against tyrants and propagandists as bastards, paranoid, delusional, and a coward unable to face these questions.

Good luck with that future of yours, wow.
February 2, 11:22 AM
wow says:
Of course "its (sic) possible to interpret the war is legal..." - that's exactly what the Bush and Blair administrations DID.

As a "professional educator," surely you can grasp the difference between advocating a position and describing one held by others.

I see political leaders who were already committed to a policy interpreting evidence in such a way as to support their positions, rather than basing positions on the evidence. So do most who study the run-up to war.

But you not only refuse to even consider whether that has merit, you immediately launch the very ad hominum attacks you claim to condemn.

The "legality" of the war in Iraq is a nice armchair debate - but those of us who are really interested in the welfare of this nation are more concerned with cleaning up the mess instead of pontificating. As would be your veteran ancestors, I suspect.

As for the insults, they were clearly directed solely at you; because, again, you lie about me.
February 2, 1:29 PM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Bush and Blair SAID they had a legal interpretation, which is very different from actually having one in the Orwellian extreme of the war in Iraq and our football analogy. You SAY you see interpretations favorable to policy preferences, rather than Orwellian lies and refuse to state the legal argument as its placement in writing reveals that it’s as close to legal as our football example.

I trust the readers to discern between a mass-murderous War of Aggression and your BS to obfuscate the simple legal question. I trust readers to choose when the choice is clear between the US Constitution and illegality of war versus your fascist bandwagon of what you allege “most who study” do in emulation of your complete failure to even speak for the rule of US law in its most important life-and-death application of war. more…
February 2, 1:57 PM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: No, wow: you really are un-American to reject rule under American law. This isn’t ad hominem; rejecting American law is what “un-American” means, as being American is a political distinction of law. And then you reject what it means to be American by upholding unalienable rights in law by calling mass-murderous Wars of Aggression that by American law must be refused and prosecuted as “armchair debate.” And then you dare to speak for my father after calling me a bastard, and my wife’s father who took seven bullets from Nazis to end Wars of Aggression like in Iraq. You put you final Orwellian touch by adding to your assessment of my character, scholarship and reporting of my being a bastard, paranoid, delusional, and a coward unable to face these questions, as also being a liar.

Thank you for your revealing comments, wow.
February 2, 1:57 PM
wow says:
"...your assessment of my character, scholarship and reporting of my being a bastard, paranoid, delusional, and a coward unable to face these questions, as also being a liar."

That pretty much sums it up. Glad we found something we can agree on.

One last try: I'd rather focus on fixing problems like marching off to war based on erroneous assumptions than rail on about legal issues that will never (and most likely can never) be ajudicated.

And while you rant your legal theories, good people are still dying and being maimed in Iraq.

So first, let's wrap up that mistake, get our people out of there and take care of the wounded. (There is, finally, a plan that appears rational.)

Then we go for systemic change that still recognizes the world as it exists.
February 2, 2:24 PM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
You can march off to fix problems while rejecting the American rule of law for our government and military to honor their Oath and immediately refuse orders for unlawful war, arrest, and prosecute. You are a traitor to the laws of your country.

You can focus on “fixing” the most vicious paper-thin propaganda to unlawfully invade weak nations sitting on oil as “erroneous assumptions” and saying our most important laws can never be enforced. You enable Wars of Aggression and propagandize for others to be confused rather than clear about the most important law to understand before a soldier engages in combat.

You can pretend about the dead and wounded and back the “plan” of the criminals who engage in unlawful war to kill and maim more Americans and more of our Brothers and Sisters in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and perhaps soon Iran.

Yes, this is your last try. I'll delete any comment other than addressing the topic of the article: the legal status of the Iraq war.
February 2, 3:36 PM
wow says:
It's legal, under any applicable US law - the only laws that count, like it or not. No court case has found otherwise, and several have upheld the legality.

And you, Mr. Herman, are guilty of advocating that US military personnel violate their oath of office and effectively mutiny against their lawful orders.

If this government was one-tenth the fascist enterprise you claim, it already would have thrown your posterior into a black hole.

Fortunately, most members of the military have more integrity, honor and honesty than you do.

You are so convinced you are right? Go down to a recruiter, enlist, then refuse to serve in an 'illegal war' and take it to court.

Surprise everyone and demonstrate a little courage of your convictions.
February 3, 6:26 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
You lie. The applicable law authorizing discretionary use of force is explicitly limited by the UN Charter. You further lie about “several” court cases; there is one I know of that didn’t rule on the legality of war under the UN Charter but on the issue whether Congress can authorize presidential discretion for use of force.

I trust the military, government, and readers to determine for themselves the obvious illegality of the war and your loveless propaganda for more death, destruction, and misery in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, and I’m sure you’ll also shill for Iranian deaths. More…
February 3, 6:57 AM
Carl Herman (LA County Nonpartisan Examiner) says:
Cont: Explain HOW the war is legal, wow. Explain the topic of this article: how are all 27 UK lawyers in international law wrong, along with the unanimous finding of the Dutch government? Explain how UNSC Res. 1441 could be “interpreted” for war with Iraq.

If it’s so legal, as you claim, you should be able to explain it. You haven’t done so after repeated requests. So we have my detailed and self-evident explanation why the war is illegal in Orwellian degree that’s as easy to understand as our football example versus your naked statement that it must be legal because the Fuhrer said so. Explain the legality, wow, if you dare put the inane reasoning into print for all to see.
February 3, 6:57 AM
Note: I deleted wow’s further comment below as he refuses to address the main topic of what the UN Charter says about war, how 1441 authorizes it, or even to document his non-existent court cases and then lie about the UN Charter’s treaty status equal in force to US law as explicitly written in the Constitution. I think he continued to post under “Yail,” who repeats the Orwellian argument that law is not law and the law that exists is so unclear as to allow the exact act it prohibits.
wow says:
As expected, all talk, no action. Try to persuade honorable men and women to throw away their honor and ruin their lives - but no guts to actually take a stand yourself.

You need to do a little more research into those court cases - but you won't, because you suffer from the same disease that affected the Bush administration: you decide, then look for evidence to support your decisions.

As for rest - others have dissected your flawed analogies, although few have escaped the delete key. You rely on an interpretation of UN resolutions being superior to US law that has never been upheld in court; the only relevant court cases to date have found to the contrary, in fact.

You are, in the end, worse than a distraction - you give aid and comfort to the warmongers by presenting an opposition that can be dismissed as conspiracy kooks, Israel haters and nutjobs who consider terrorist murderers to be more credible than their own government.
February 3, 8:21 AM
Yail says:
Really, the UN has no real legal distinction in the world. International law only has meaning with an enforcement mechanism and there is no world government. Unfortunately, states will never give up their sovereignty to make decisions regarding their security. The only time this happens is when a state is so weak that it must bandwagon. The reason the P5 have veto power at the UNSC is just so no legal niceties will get involved when a Great Power wishes to do what it wishes. The UN Charter is also not "crystal clear?" regarding when war is legitimate. It mentions self-defense. How we define that is not an easy thing. It was left vague precisely so the Great Powers could create their own definitions of self-defense. Without these compromises the UN would not exist. Likely it will have major problems as new powers rise that do not have effective representation at the UN. Why would India allow the UN to decide its national interest? Answer: it won't.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #90 on: February 09, 2010, 07:32:42 am »
Christian Arabs remain the best situated to combat the demonization of Islam

By Raid Khoury

February 9, 2010

"Watch out for false prophets. They come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ferocious wolves…" Matthew 7:15.

According to Christian tradition the above quote is attributed to Jesus of Nazareth by Matthew as part of the famous Sermon on the Mount, a compilation of Jesus' sayings epitomizing his moral teachingindus. Speaking in the setting of his time, Jesus was understood to be discussing false prophets, but a more general and timeless understanding of this warning is vigilance against deception and false messages of all types.

Ameal Haddad, a local activist and  supporter of the "Christian Zionist" movement, is a pastor in Southern California. He has been traveling to Arab countries promoting a sinister agenda and appearing in Arabic-language media outlets. The activities of this virtually unknown Muslim basher first came to light with an appearance on Al-Arabiya's popular weekly, socio-economic talk show "Idaat". In a one-hour interview with Turki Al-Dakheel, Haddad deliberately misrepresented his theological beliefs, views, and agenda as he set out to take advantage of a prominent platform to pursue his efforts at scavenging for a niche on the fringe of the Muslim bashing industry. Haddad remains a virtual unknown in the U.S. much as Wafa Sultan, another Southern California resident, was prior to her own infamous appearance on an Al Jazeera talk show where she publicly disintegrated with a hate-filled rant ensuring she will not be invited to participate in any public discussion and will no longer be taken seriously anywhere in the Arab world. Haddad seems to have learned from that vulgar appearance, dispensing with the invectives and opting for a more subdued approach. But for those of us who know Haddad the message remains the same. Islam is a terrorist religion and Muslims are backwards and terrorists.

Since 9-11, when Haddad and his fellow American Evangelical partner formed their misnamed outfit, the Arab and Muslim bashing industry has been thriving. An unrestrained virulent campaign against Islam and Arabs, along with the required propaganda in preparation for war on Afghanistan and Iraq, and the ongoing activities of a relentless pro-Israel lobby, has provided an opportunity for almost anyone to play a role in this effort and spew their venom. This cottage industry has enlisted a motley crew of pseudo-academics, "democracy" and "human rights" activists, and religious bigots, all united in a single, determined effort to spread a campaign of incitement, lies, and hate against Islam and Arabs.

Among the most vociferous and vile of these groups is a segment of evangelical Christians with a theology that elevates support for the Zionist project in Palestine to a religious duty. This group proved to be a critical and convenient base of support for a U.S. administration that decided to invade Iraq to achieve a set of objectives among which is the re-shaping of the security environment in favor of Israel. For an evangelical, political movement that espouses a worldview where the gospel is identified with the ideology of empire, colonialism, and militarism, a neo-colonial endeavor in the heart of the Arab world dovetailed nicely with the post-Cold War concept of a clash of civilizations. The politically inspired, academically flawed paradigm of Samuel Huntington provided a framework for a neo-conservative dominated administration by which to narrate their policies and rally the pre-disposed, political simpletons of the evangelical right to their cause. It is from this anachronistic world view that the ostensibly innocent alternative of a Christian-Muslim dialogue springs, as if military campaigns by the West and the resistance of occupied peoples is an inherent religious struggle unrelated to traditional geo-political imperialist designs and analysis.

A tactic favored by the evangelical movement is finding Christians from the Arab world who abandoned their traditional churches (usually as a result of previous proselytizing by Westerners from the English-speaking world) and adopted one form or another of Western Protestantism. They are assigned various tasks, such as playing the role of persecuted minority or offering "native insight" into the religion of Islam. These individuals are later paraded as indigenously credible sources affirming all the anti-Muslim lies and distortions promulgated by them. This is where people like Haddad can play a valuable role within the movement. An Arab who abandoned the earliest churches established, in both the history of Christianity and within the Arab world, and adopted the doctrines and agenda of this unusual and recent form of Protestant theology, is considered a prize among this group of American evangelicals.

In light of the current climate of hate and religious bigotry, Haddad's hitherto minor and local role in this campaign, and his recent travels and appearances in the Arab world, it is imperative the truth about this person and the agenda he represents be made known to the Southern California Arab and Muslim communities. It is particularly critical that such individuals, with their poisonous message of division and religious agitation, are not permitted to claim to represent the voice of Christian Arabs. In the past 20 years I have had numerous discussions with Haddad about Christianity, Islam, and theology. His primary objective has always been to convince me and anyone who will listen of the inherent evil and immorality of Islam. His consistent single minded determination to smear Islam, its history, and teachings constitute the very essence of his personal message and ideology. After his well publicized interview on Al-Arabiya, a major Arabic-language news channel, I would be surprised if he expected those of us who know him locally to remain silent in the face of a deceitful public performance diametrically opposed to all that he has stood for over the years.

In that interview Haddad made numerous and laughable references to peace, love, brotherhood, and mutual respect. Unless he has had a change of heart towards Islam and Muslims no less transformative than St Paul's experience on the road to Damascus, such proclamations are nothing more than a cynical attempt to advance a hidden agenda and promote the same message of hate Wafa Sultan was much more honest in conveying. The salient moment in the interview came when the very effective host pressed Haddad for his own view on the belief among many evangelicals that the creation of the Zionist state in Palestine in 1948 is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. With a smile Wafa Sultan could never muster for her Arab audience, and one betraying a self-conscious deceit, Haddad adamantly refused to answer. However an answer to that question and an explanation for his refusal to answer it can be found in the doctrinal statement of the religious seminary where he received his evangelical training. That statement says "The nation of Israel, having been redeemed, will play a central role in bringing the blessings of salvation to all nations during the millennium in fulfillment of Biblical prophecies."

Let me be clear, I am not a religious person and would describe myself as a secular humanist. Yet my primary conflict with Haddad has always been my assertion that despite doctrinal differences, both Christianity and Islam share a common set of moral teachings and universal human values which include a message of peace and non-violence. I found Haddad immovable in his insistence that Islam is not only a false religion (presumably he has a monopoly on absolute truth), but that it also commands its adherents to commit acts of violence, a centuries old Western cliché to which many Evangelical Christians openly subscribe. Each time I pointed out to Haddad that Christians have also committed acts of violence he would respond by telling me "that is because they were not real Christians" and were not following the peaceful teachings of Jesus Christ. In other words, acts of violence by Muslims are carried out as part of their faithful adherence to a violent religion, but acts of violence carried out by Christians are committed because they did not faithfully pursue the peaceful, non-violent teaching of Christianity. While I immediately took notice of the fallacious nature of this circular argument, I could never really determine with certainty what motivated such ludicrous statements.

Over time it became clear his views are a product of something far more malevolent than simple ignorance. In the late 1990s Haddad invited better known Baptist Minister Anis Shorrosh to his church in the Los Angeles suburb of Bellflower. Shorrosh is the unabashed Muslim-basher who gained notoriety with a buffoonish performance in which he donned traditional Arab garb in a debate with the late Ahmad Deedat. Unlike Haddad, Shorrosh does not publicly deny his "Christian Zionist" beliefs. His hate-filled rants have been financed and printed in book form by evangelical organizations and he's been a frequent guest on Pat Robertson's 700 Club program. Shorrosh is the person peddling the "True Furqan" and claims Islam has a twenty-year plan to take over America. This writer interviewed two persons who attended Haddad's church and learned Shorrosh had been invited by Haddad to conduct a one-week workshop designed to train evangelicals in proselytizing among Muslims. His literature, videos, and audio recordings were made available free of charge to all who attended. Not content with two first-hand accounts I took advantage of my next encounter with Haddad and asked him if it's true this preacher of hate was invited to his church as a guest preacher. Haddad informed me directly that Shorrosh was indeed invited to his church to conduct a workshop, that he (Shorrosh) "specializes" in preaching to Muslims, and that he (Haddad) shares his views and was proud to call him a friend.

The target of this aberrant and fringe element of Christian Arabs and other American evangelicals of this variety has always been Islam. An example of this mindset can be found in this interview in which Haddad, while discussing the U.S. invasion of Iraq through the false prism of the official American narrative states, "It is encouraging that so many Muslims have signed the declaration, because it says that they are willing to stop the killing and sit down and talk…", and then goes on to add "only 10 to 15 percent of Muslims believe in violence. The rest are open to discussion." He continues by expressing his "hope" that Muslims "will end the violence and very soon…they have the most to gain." Apparently unaware of the condescending and racist nature of his own words, he may actually believe he was being generous. We can only wonder about the methodology employed by this American evangelical in reaching the conclusion only 10-15 percent of one and a half billion Muslims are violent, or how after one and a half Million Iraqis were killed in an immoral war launched by the U.S., of which his fellow evangelicals were the most enthusiastic supporters, he has the audacity and arrogance to lecture Muslims about non-violence.

Haddad's true message and agenda which he was visibly straining to hide in his Al-Arabiya interview has been remarkably consistent all along. It includes three main components: Islam is an evil religion and the root cause of violence in the world; Muslims must be converted and saved from their own teachings; and the creation of Israel in Palestine is a fulfillment of Biblical prophecy. According to this twisted version of Western Protestantism, which inspires the activities of Haddad, Shorrosh, and others within this strand of the U.S. evangelical movement, Israel is locked in a divinely pre-ordained, existential struggle for survival against a hostile Arab and Islamic enemy which will herald the return of Jesus.

To that end these preachers of hate seek the "right" to proselytize in the Arab world among both Muslims and Christians. Article 18 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states "Everyone has the right to freedom of thought, conscience and religion…" The Holy Qur'an recognized this same principle sixteen hundred years before the drafting of the UDHR in 1948 in the verse "let their be no compulsion in religion," (Al-Baqarah: 256). According to the UDHR itself, and consistent with Islamic teachings, such a right applies to individuals. Such a right does not extend to non-human entities such as organizations and institutions seeking to proselytize in the country of their choosing. This is where Haddad's propaganda brochure, which he referred to 15 times as a "document" (wathiqa in Arabic) during his interview, becomes very revealing. The poorly drafted, jumbled sections of Haddad's "wathiqa" is not as he described "a call for love and peace", but an attempt to claim a "right" for any organization to enter any country for the purpose of proselytizing and other endeavors of which we may not be aware. No such right exists. For those preachers who are genuinely interested in spreading a message of non-violence, peace, and love they would be well advised to spend their time and energy here in the U..S among their fellow evangelicals where such a message is desperately needed.

Arabs — both Muslims and Christians — have been the target of a ferocious propaganda campaign in this country. Responding to this onslaught is more than enough to keep them busy without having to contend with a contingent of self-hating Arabs and religious agitators in their midst. As an Arab who happened to be born into a Christian family, I cannot remain silent as individuals on the margins of the Arab American community are enlisted in this demonization campaign as representatives of Christian Arabs. For Christian Arabs their Christianity is an indigenous religion, and Islam is their indigenous civilization. Christian Arabs have lived for centuries in harmony with Muslim Arabs. They form an integral part of the Arab world and Islamic civilization. They share with their Muslim Arab blood-brothers a common Semitic Arab origin, language, culture, and history. Attacks on Islam also constitute an attack on the civilization, culture, and identity of Christian Arabs, whose continued presence in the Arab world is a living testament to the tolerant and peaceful history of Islam, belying the vicious distortions of this great religion and civilization, and making them ideally situated to set the record straight.

Raid Khoury is an Arab American activist in Los Angeles. He can be reached at [email protected].


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #91 on: February 09, 2010, 07:52:16 am »
The Middle East No Longer Matters

by Jay Hatheway, February 09, 2010

As the Obama administration gears up for additional commitments to Afghanistan and elsewhere in the Middle East, it is good to remind ourselves that in spite of the overheated rhetoric of the past few years, the region is of very little, if any, strategic value to the United States. Although we have sacrificed our national honor, our fortune, and the lives of our military personnel to bring security and stability from Lebanon to Pakistan, the fact remains that our presence is as ill-conceived as it is unnecessary: ill-conceived because the interjection of American power feeds the anger of those who would harm us, and unnecessary because there is nothing there we need. While it may be the case that portions of the Middle East are of significant humanitarian interest, such is not synonymous with our strategic national interests except in the very broadest terms that humanitarian help implies.

Indeed, one can make the argument that the primary destabilizing influence in the region is the American military, with its continued arming of any number of factions across the entire arc from Israel to India. This is exemplified most recently by the plans to place Patriot missile systems in the UAE, Bahrain, Qatar, and Kuwait in addition to those in Israel aimed, it seems, at Iran. This is not to suggest that there are no threats; it is to suggest instead that those which do exist are seriously overblown in comparison to the Cold War between 1945 and 1989. Ironically, it is the heavy presence of this past that now cripples our ability to discern regional concerns from those that have a broader impact.

Although Americans have been interacting with the Middle East since the founding of our Republic, it was only in the 1930s that the United States found itself reflecting upon its strategic importance. To the dismay of the British, the U.S. courted the king of Saudi Arabia for rights to explore for oil, which would be found in 1938. World War II put further exploration on hold, but not American interests. With the express consent of the British and the Iranians, the U.S. moved into southern Iran in 1942 in order to develop a Persian corridor to assist the Russians in the aftermath of Operation Barbarossa, the Nazi invasion of the USSR.

Fearful of impending defeat at the hands of the Germans, the Russians also pressed the U.S. to open up a second front somewhere in Western Europe. Ill prepared as we were in the aftermath of Pearl Harbor, the most the U.S. was willing to do was enter the war in Morocco and Algeria in November 1942 and assist the British roll back German advances. As the war wound down, our ties were further cemented when FDR on his way back from Potsdam in February 1945 met with the Saudi king on an American boat in the Suez Canal. The purpose of this meeting was simple: American protection for Saudi oil, an agreement that has lasted until today.

During the Cold War, the Middle East was of enormous strategic interest to the United States. We wanted to protect our oil supplies and prevent the USSR from making inroads into the region. To accommodate these goals, we gradually filled the power vacuum created by the retreat of the British in the aftermath of the war and developed the seemingly contradictory policies of supporting Iran, Saudi Arabia, and Israel as bulwarks against the spread of communism. All might have remained relatively stable and predictable but for the Iranian Revolution and the Russian invasion of Afghanistan in 1979.

The advent of the Islamic Revolution and the invasion of Afghanistan at virtually the same time rattled Washington to the core: one pillar of our Middle East policy was lost to a virulently anti-American regime while the Russians were believed to be on the move to capture the oil fields. Threatened by this doomsday scenario, Washington panicked. When Iraq invaded Iran, we supported both, to the detriment of each. We also increased our covert aid to jihadists fighting against the USSR in Afghanistan. With the end of the Iran-Iraq war and the withdrawal of the USSR from Afghanistan and the Soviet collapse shortly thereafter, it seemed the U.S. stood victorious: the Cold War was over, the Russian Empire was gone, and the U.S. was unassailable as the most powerful country in the world.

Yet victory was short-lived in view of the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait. The introduction of American forces into Saudi Arabia in 1990-91 provided the justification for Osama bin Laden and al-Qaeda’s war against the United States that culminated in the attacks of 9/11. In response, the U.S. launched its multi-country attacks and began to gradually redirect its oil purchases away from the Gulf to other potentially more secure sources such that by 2009, only around 18 percent of oil imports came from the region [.pdf]. The bulk of our imported oil comes from Canada, Mexico, Venezuela, Nigeria, Angola, Brazil, Algeria, Colombia, Russia, Ecuador, Equatorial Guinea, and Libya, essentially abnegating any security rationale for an American presence in the Middle East. Absent threats from the USSR and freed from dependence upon Middle East oil, the U.S. has absolutely no strategic interests in the region.

Why then is the United States fixated with an area of the world that is of only marginal importance to our security? The answer, I suspect, has as much to do with the inertia of almost 70 years of political engagement as it does with muddleheaded attempts to control the distribution of the region’s supply of oil and, more importantly, the economic growth of potential economic competitors. Both of these goals are unreasonable and do little to contribute to American national security; indeed, our continuous meddling does just the opposite, as bin Laden and his supporters have made so evident.

Some will argue that an American retreat will lead to chaos and catastrophe – but honestly, how much worse could it be than the unmitigated disaster that is currently the case? At some point, we must realize we cannot continue to fight wars that have absolutely nothing to do with our actual national interests but instead reflect a rather perverse attachment to “tradition.” With the U.S. (and USSR) gone from the region, al-Qaeda, Iran, and others will have lost the objects of their resentments. Threats of a lesser sort to American security there will be, but with good oversight, vigilance, and selective, mutually agreed-upon political engagement, we can keep them to a minimum. The implication is that the regional powers will have to confront their differences without the presence of the U.S., and that includes the ever present Arab-Israeli conflict. No matter how intractable that issue remains, it is, after all, a regional concern to which we may become a party only when asked. To elevate the ongoing Middle East conflicts to the level of existential threat is simply wrong, and a profound misreading of the regional conflicts themselves. It is time to bring everyone home.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #92 on: February 10, 2010, 06:09:17 am »
Descent Into Barbarism: The US and NATO Wage War on the World

by Finian Cunningham

Global Research, February 9, 2010

The argument is won: capitalism as an effective system to organise society and provide for human needs has expired. The evidence is conclusive. Trillions of dollars to kickstart the economy in the US and Europe may have given an ephemeral lease of life to the financial class to spin the casino wheel once again, but it is more apparent by the day that the tentative "recovery" has spluttered to a standstill. Gridlocked by unprecedented levels of personal and national debts, the engine of production – the real economy – is in a state of rigor mortis.

This collapse has been a long time in the making. Decades of easy credit was up to now a way for the ruling class – government, corporations, financial institutions – to let the majority of workers subsidise the chronic loss in their livelihoods, which have been drained since the mid-1970s by the oligarchy’s self-aggrandisement from wage cutting, regressive taxation and public spending cuts. The political class – whether liberal or conservative, right or left – have facilitated this giant wealth-siphoning process.

However, the point is that the economic system is now objectively shown to be moribound. And it is impossible for so-called mainstream politicians to think of any other way of doing business. They are ideologically blind. Recall former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher’s arrogant assertion: "There is no alternative". Likewise, US President Barack Obama insists on throwing billions more dollars at the banks and financiers on Wall Street. But that won’t kickstart an economy in which millions of workers are without jobs and homes or who are on crumby wages and up to their necks in debt. The profit system has hit an historic dead-end and this gridlock is a result of deep trends to do with the decline in capitalism as a mode of social production (falling wages and profits and the concomitant explosion in financial speculation and debts).

Widespread poverty and human misery is now seen on a massive scale in the so-called developed world. Some 40 million Americans, for example, are subsisting on food stamps. The distinction between "developed" and "developing" economies (always a myth anyway) is blurred. The ranks of the world’s long-suffering poor are swelled with dispossessed blue and white-collar workers and their families from across the US and Europe. Together more than ever, they stand shut out from those gated havens of obscene wealth for a global minority.

Similar historic junctures have been witnessed before when capitalism floundered from its inexorable tendency to make the rich richer and the poor poorer. Disturbingly, the release valve for the system and its bankruptcy has always been war. Death and destruction is the lender of last resort to an economic system that – despite itself – inevitably polarises wealth to an unworkable degree. The First and Second World Wars – claiming more than 70 million over a period of less than 10 years lives – were effectively the ultimate, grotesque bailouts.

In our time, war, it seems, has already begun. The US oligarchy and its NATO allies are waging a veritable war on the world: killing, disappearing and incarcerating millions of civilians in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan – a war that is expanding into Yemen, Somalia and the rest of the Horn of Africa, with the militarisation of sea lanes and oceans (see Chossudovsky, and the setting up of "forward projecting" military and missile bases in every continent (see Rozoff, ditto). On top of ordinary poverty and misery, the world is truly seeing another historic descent into barbarism. Given this war-mongering dynamic, the growing US antagonism with Iran, Russia and China is far from an idle threat. It is the logical next step for a deeply illogical economic system.

But history is not inevitable. We are not necessarily programmed to repeat its horrors. A combination of global communications among citizens and political and social consciousness may be enough to prevent a military conflagration and overthrow the misrule of the oligarchy. What is needed is a) a widening of the recognition that capitalism as a system of social production is finished; and b) the case has to be confidently made that an alternative is very possible. That alternative is socialism (the subject of a further article). To those who remain skeptical, they should bear in mind the stark choice that Rosa Luxemberg foresaw for humanity: that is, socialism or barbarism. And we already have the latter.

- [email protected]


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #93 on: February 10, 2010, 12:46:16 pm »
If Obama lied, will thousands die? 

10/02/2010 04:00:00 PM GMT

AFP) Obama will request $320bn of war funding in the next two years for Iraq and Afghanistan.
President Obama's and the Pentagon's recent naval and armament buildup in the Persian Gulf will only increase tensions with Iran and cause more hardship for Americans.

By Dallas Darling

"Not only will I end the ongoing wars around the world, but a mindset of government by fear and of fear is not a very good advisor." --Then-Senator Barack Obama, February 21, 2008 (1)

After several years of disastrous wars and a number of military engagements in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, by now, it is clear what protesters meant when carrying signs that read: "Bush Lied, Thousands Died." (In Britain it was: "Blair Lied, Thousands Died.") This saying, of course, conveys how former President George W. Bush and Prime Minister Tony Blair twisted intelligence and manipulated evidence to provoke a war with Iraq. The 2003 U.S.-led pre-emptive conflict against Iraq has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Iraqis and U.S. and British soldiers.

As President Barack Obama plans to release his new budget, the slogan: "Bush Lied, Thousands Died," might be very applicable. President Obama will request $320 billion of war funding in the next two years for Iraq and Afghanistan. His budget request for the Department of Defense will be $549 billion. While promising to reduce nuclear missiles, he will ask for more than $7 billion for activities related to nuclear weapons research, an increase of $624 million. When one includes the CIA, RAND, Veterans' services, covert operations, and Homeland Security, over $1 trillion will be spent on militarism.

While President Obama plans to stretch dollars in areas like education, labor and social programs, (Head Start and Health and Human Services will receive only a few more million dollars. Funds for the Departments of Environment and Energy will be cut.), and while he intends to freeze spending for Medicare and Social Security-which will hurt the most vulnerable members of society and increase the level of fear for the sick and elderly-how many Americans will continue to die due to a lack of affordable medicine, health care, full employment, and other vital services and needs?

On February 21, 2008, several months before winning the presidency, not only did then-Senator Obama condemn ongoing wars around the world and the money spent on war, but he also claimed that a mindset of government by fear and of fear is not a very good advisor. He said he was tired of seeing wounded veterans coming home, specifically those with emotional and psychological wounds and others as double amputees. He said private corporations and defense contractors were wasting billions of dollars and making the world less safe. He promised to restore diplomacy and not just talk to friends but enemies.

After assuring the large crowd at the campaign rally that "it has been a long time but change is coming," and that "we are sending George Bush back to Texas," then-Senator Oabama said his first order of business would be to create a fair economy, invest in the infrastructure of America, and make sure every American was going to have adequate healthcare coverage and a job. According to him, and since the economy was in shambles, raising the minimum wage every ten years was not good enough. He said it should be raised every year to keep pace with inflation.

But economic trade-offs, like militarism-pouring billions of dollars into drones, advanced weapons systems and missiles, helicopters, transport planes for more troop surges, special forces and covert operations like assassination squads, and jet fighters-can be deadly. They can be used as a kind of military draft while crushing the working poor and most fragile members of a society. Overseas, many are already saying that civilian casualties will rise in Afghanistan in 2010. Continual drone attacks and cross border raids have wreaked havoc in Pakistan.

President Obama and the Pentagon's recent naval and armament buildup in the Persian Gulf will only increase tensions with Iran and cause more hardship for Americans. When it comes to spending money and resources on militarism and war, it is evident the U.S. has learned merely to negotiate out of fear, instead of never fearing to peacefully negotiate. This kind of mentality and ideology will kill cause more economic and social poverty, and it will kill more people than al-Qaeda and the Taliban ever could.

But if lying is speaking or behaving in such a way as to intentionally deceive others, then perhaps there is a deeper malady. Maybe both leaders found themselves, along with their Compassionate Conservatism and Change We Can Believe In, held hostage by powerful institutions-that are not that democratic after all-and a culture designed to reward not only lies, but self-deception. Right from the start, and in place of truth and its own complicity, has America always blamed others for starting wars and for committing atrocities?

"If America and Americans continue to lie, how many more thousands will die?"

-- Dallas Darling is the author of Politics 501: An A-Z Reading on Conscientious Political Thought and Action, Some Nations Above God: 52 Weekly Reflections On Modern-Day Imperialism, Militarism, And Consumerism in the Context of John's Apocalyptic Vision, and The Other Side Of Christianity: Reflections on Faith, Politics, Spirituality, History, and Peace. He is a correspondent for You can read more of Dallas' writings at and

Note: (1) Obama, Barack. American Bank Center, February 21, 2008.


-- AJP

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #94 on: February 13, 2010, 08:52:22 am »
Published on Friday, February 12, 2010 by

Empire of the Sunset

by Randall Amster

Sometimes, I really miss America -- or at least the idea of it. You know: that can-do spirit, streets paved with gold, champion of the tired and poor, purple mountains majesty, that sort of thing. Say what you will, and call it naïve, but the storybook values at the heart of America's erstwhile image are inspiring.

Like most who grew up here, I was steeped in the lore and legend of this place. Despite obvious flaws in the narrative (how exactly does one ‘discover' land upon which others are living, anyway?) there existed a strong sense that at the end of the day some part of our cherished ideals would emerge in time to set things right. Principles like due process, free speech, the work ethic, checks and balances, equal opportunity, and the pursuit of happiness held meaning if only as a reminder that our collective lives stood for something and that our destinies were in our own hands. It may well have been an illusion all along, yet even the most cynical among us likely believed in the underlying ethos at some point in time.

Unfortunately, that America -- even in its illusory state -- has ceased to exist. We are no longer an abstract beacon of hope to the world, but rather a purveyor of concrete hellfire. We rain automated death from above and commit orchestrated theft from below. We export despair and import disdain. We've abandoned even keeping up the pretense of fair play and adherence to principle. We've become global pariahs and domestic piranhas. Awash in a sea of surfaces, distractions, and palliatives, we unsurprisingly have failed to notice that the sun has already started to set on our adolescent empire.

Indeed, by most measures, the U.S. is rapidly becoming a failed state. Educationally, economically, politically, culturally -- all of our national gauges are pointing in the wrong direction. We're moving down the list on health care, democratic governance, productivity, environmental protection, academic achievement, official transparency, incarceration rates, transportation, and public services. We're ruled by an increasingly emboldened elite class that rewrites the rules at will, increasingly represses dissent, and openly enriches itself at our expense. We hardly make anything on these shores, but still consume everything in sight. We have few public intellectuals of renown, yet are bombarded daily with the foibles of celebrities who are in many cases famous simply for being famous. Our food supply is tainted, our energy is unclean, and our water is drying up. And racism remains as deeply-rooted as ever.

It's not a pretty picture from inside the belly of the beast these days. But never fear, for America has a secret weapon at its disposal that will keep us in the driver's seat for a while longer. Our secret weapon, actually, isn't so secret: weapons. The days of guile, comity, and negotiation are over. Empires don't dicker, they simply take what they want. They don't ask permission or forge alliances, they make demands and extort loyalties under threat of repercussions. They don't cede oversight authority to any international community, or even feel constrained by their own laws and rules, but instead act by fiat and in flagrant disregard of treaty and protocol. Empires, in short, follow the empty logic of "might makes right."

The ruling elite in the U.S. have made it eminently clear that this is our prevailing strategy going forward. We will utilize brute force to retain our position as the global superpower even as we have lost our moral and cultural suasion. America's tenure as a fully imperialist power is barely over a century old, its position as a true superpower about half that, and its status as sole hegemon about half that still. In a mere few decades, we've gone from savior to enslaver, from bastion to bastards, from heroic to horrific. Whatever historical good will we may have accrued has been squandered in a frenzy of hubris and hatred.

Perhaps I'm being a bit obdurate here, so let me clarify things a bit. Empires that reach this point of no return, in which power subsumes principle, are essentially on their last legs. Legitimacy can be replaced by subjugation for a time, but it is always self-defeating in the end. While history is unequivocal about this, it's also true that the recorded annals have never seen an empire quite like the one we've created. By slowly and steadily insinuating ourselves economically and militarily into the affairs of nearly every nation on the planet, we've built an ingenious system in which recalcitrance is very nearly a form of suicide. If this empire falls, it threatens to take everyone with it in the process, thus perpetuating the unspoken but widely understood mantra: "You're either with us ... or else."

Consider the sheer totality of the U.S. military presence around the planet. Hundreds of bases are spread across every continent -- effectively functioning as sovereign satellites of American influence -- with a preponderance located in vanquished nations such as Germany, Japan, Iraq, and Afghanistan. These are now our chief exports: military bases, hardware, and soldiers. We've also weaponized space and created an automated execution network that circumnavigates the globe, bringing push-button "justice" to anyone we deem a viable target (including our own citizens). Now we're developing fully-functional robot soldiers to continue the dehumanization of warfare in our stead, which will serve our purpose of fostering submission through fear equally well whether they in fact work properly or not.

Domestically, the agenda has been set. The power elite have now "doubled down" on this strategy of maintaining supremacy through force. Military strategy documents point toward a future of perpetual warfare and relentless competition over dwindling resources, with the highest ideal of "national security" represented by our unmitigated capacity to impose our will on multiple fronts at once. Increasing episodes of disaster, such as in Haiti, will be used overtly as "Trojan horse" moments to expand our military footprint under the guise of humanitarianism. Our federal budgets will concretize all of this with escalating military expenditures coupled with frozen austerity in all other spheres. The military is sacrosanct and, moreover, is now the lone remaining chip to be played in the game of global conquest.

It certainly seems like a grim scenario, one that stands in stark contrast to the idyllic (albeit ersatz) America of our youth. It also begs us to consider what will become of young people growing up in tomorrow's America, devoid as it likely will be of even a redeeming ideological veneer. Will the future populace here be comprised of equal parts swaggering "ugly Americans" and withdrawn, apathetic technophiles? Will we have an America in which people either embrace our military superiority and martial character as a moral virtue on the one hand, or are constrained to immerse themselves in our cultural distractions as a refuge from the emerging security panopticon on the other? In other words, will those ensuing Americans face delimited choices that come down to either institutionalized anger or repressed angst?

I wonder if people living under the auspices of failing empires throughout history have felt similarly. The silver lining (there has to be one, right?) is that all previous empires have fallen and the sun still came up the next day. Indeed, as surely as anything else we can count on in this life, sunset is inevitably followed by sunrise. Whether anyone will be here to see that new day dawning is an open question, and one that we might consider as something of a cultural crucible at this point. Perhaps that apocryphal America from a bygone day can yet be resurrected, only this time for real and not merely as an ideal. In my mind's eye, I can envision a door opening up ahead even as the one behind us closes.

Randall Amster, J.D., Ph.D., teaches Peace Studies at Prescott College [1] and serves as the Executive Director of the Peace & Justice Studies Association [2]. His most recent book is the co-edited volume Building [3] Cultures of Peace: Transdisciplinary Voices of Hope and Action [3] (Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2009).


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #95 on: February 16, 2010, 07:47:23 am »
Taliban deny US report commander captured in Pakistan


February 16, 2010

KANDAHAR, Afghanistan - An Afghan Taliban spokesman on Tuesday denied a US report that the group's top military commander had been arrested by US and Pakistani forces in a secret operation in Pakistan.

The New York Times reported that US and Pakistani intelligence forces captured Mullah Abdul Ghani Baradar several days ago and that he is currently in Pakistani custody with US officials taking part in his interrogation.

"The rumours reported today on the arrest of Mullah Baradar are all untrue. It is a big lie," Yousuf Ahmadi, a Taliban spokesman told AFP by telephone from an undisclosed location.

"He is currently in Afghanistan, where he is leading all jihadi activities... He is here with us and is in contact with us," he added.

Baradar has been billed as second only to Taliban founder Mohammad Omar and officials have said that his capture would be a major blow to the militia, which is fighting to bring down the Western-backed government in Afghanistan.

Ahmadi charged that the US media report intended to deflect attention from a major US-led assault on a cluster of villages in Marjah in southern Afghanistan, where US Marines have reportedly run into pockets of resistance.

"The sole goal of such baseless reporting and propaganda is to make up for the failure in Marjah. There is serious resistance ongoing in Marjah," he said.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #96 on: February 17, 2010, 04:54:52 am »
Tomgram: Frida Berrigan, Pimping Weapons to the World

By Frida Berrigan
Posted on February 16, 2010, Printed on February 17, 2010

As last week ended, the American and British military in Afghanistan finally launched a long awaited operation to occupy the city of Marja in Taliban-controlled Helmand Province.  According to Afghan war commander General Stanley McChrystal, to win “hearts and minds,” the U.S. Army and Marines were arriving with “a government in a box”  -- Afghan governing and security structures evidently ready to be unpacked as part of the sort of nation-building operation that once would have staggered the American officer corps.

Not surprisingly, when it comes to the Afghan War, “hearts and minds” pieces are now a dime a dozen in the U.S. press.  (Can McChrystal’s new counterinsurgency strategy of “protecting the people” work?  Will the Afghans start to love us, love themselves, and reject the Taliban?)  In one recent piece about Marines in a Taliban “stronghold” near the southern city of Kandahar, “Forces Strain to Hire Afghans,” Wall Street Journal reporter Yaroslav Trofimov described the crisis a U.S. Army captain faced.  He had more than a million dollars to spend on reconstruction projects meant to gain local loyalties, and few Afghan takers.  The third paragraph of his piece went like this: “Yet, the only construction work here so far has been the hammering of U.S. Navy Seabees, or construction troops, erecting a vast American base overlooking Senjaray. The town's unemployed men prefer to stay home, for fear of Taliban retribution.”

This is fairly typical of U.S. press coverage of the Afghan War.  That “vast American base,” just now under construction, is noticed and mentioned in passing by an American reporter, and then never comes up again.  Yet it is one of approximately 400 bases built or being built in the country, as Nick Turse of recently discovered -- a staggering Pentagon military construction splurge that is almost never reported on.  It’s simply taken for granted.

As TomDispatch regular and weapons-export expert Frida Berrigan of the New American Foundation points out, the American position in what U.S. news reports always call “the global arms trade” is similarly taken for granted.  If the Hollywood export Avatar sweeps the world, bringing in multi-billions, it's front-page news.  If American arms exports sweep the world, bringing in multi-billions, you’re lucky to find out about it deep inside your ever-thinning daily newspaper (and such stories seldom even make it onto the TV news).  If we sell weaponry repeatedly to the Indonesians or the Saudis or the Qataris or the Israelis, it’s a ho-hum matter.  The norm.  Like those bases in Afghanistan.  It’s only if some country with clout screams bloody murder, as the Chinese recently did about a massive arms deal with Taiwan, that we have news; or if some other country sells weapons to whatever state is eager, as France recently agreed to do with the Russians, and the Americans responsible for distributing most of the advanced weaponry on the planet disapprove, is attention paid.  Go figure.  Tom

America’s Global Weapons Monopoly
Don’t Call It “the Global Arms Trade”
By Frida Berrigan

On the relatively rare occasions when the media turns its attention to U.S. weapons sales abroad and shines its not-so-bright spotlight on the latest set of facts and figures, it invariably speaks of “the global arms trade.”

Let’s consider that label for a moment, word by word:

*It is global, since there are few places on the planet that lie beyond the reach of the weapons industry.

*Arms sounds so old-fashioned and anodyne when what we’re talking about is advanced technology designed to kill and maim.

*And trade suggests a give and take among many parties when, if we’re looking at the figures for that “trade” in a clear-eyed way, there is really just one seller and so many buyers.

How about updating it this way:  “the global weapons monopoly.”

In 2008, according to an authoritative report from the Congressional Research Service (CRS), $55.2 billion in weapons deals were concluded worldwide. Of that total, the United States was responsible for $37.8 billion in weapons sales agreements, or 68.4% of the total “trade.” Some of these agreements were long-term ones and did not result in 2008 deliveries of weapons systems, but these latest figures are a good gauge of the global appetite for weapons. It doesn’t take a PhD in economics to recognize that, when one nation accounts for nearly 70% of weapons sales, the term “global arms trade” doesn’t quite cut it.

Consider the “competition” and reality comes into focus.  Take a guess on which country is the number two weapons exporter on the planet:  China?  Russia?  No, Italy, with a relatively paltry $3.7 billion in agreements with other countries or just 9% of the U.S. market share. Russia, that former Cold War superpower in the “trade,” was close behind Italy, with only $3.5 billion in arms agreements.

U.S. weapons manufacturers have come a long way, baby, since those Cold War days when the United States really did have a major competitor. For instance, the Congressional Research Service’s data for 1990, the last year of the Soviet Union’s existence, shows global weapons sales totaling $32.7 billion, with the United States accounting for $12.1 billion of that or 37% of the market.  For its part, the Soviet Union was responsible for a competitive $10.7 billion in deals inked that year.  France, China, and the United Kingdom accounted for most of the rest.

Since then, the global appetite for weapons has only grown more voracious, while the number of purveyors has shrunk to the point where the Pentagon could hang out a sign: “We arm the world.” No kidding, it’s true.

Cambodia ($304,000), Comoros ($895,000), Colombia ($256 million), Guinea ($200,000), Greece ($225 million), Great Britain ($1.1 billion), the Philippines ($72.9 million), Poland ($79.8 million), and Peru ($16.4 million) all buy U.S. arms, as does almost every country not in that list.  U.S. weapons, and only U.S. weapons, are coveted by presidents and prime ministers, generals and strongmen.

From the Pentagon’s own data (which differs from that in the CRS report), here are the top ten nations which made Foreign Military Sales agreements with the Pentagon, and so with U.S. weapons makers, in 2008:

Saudi Arabia $6.06 billion

Iraq $2.50 billion

Morocco $2.41 billion

Egypt $2.31 billion

Israel $1.32 billion

Australia $1.13 billion

South Korea $1.12 billion

Great Britain $1.10 billion

India $1 billion

Japan $840 million

That’s more than $17 billion in weapons right there. Some of these countries are consistently eager buyers, and some are not. Morocco, for example, is only in that top-ten list because it was green-lighted to buy 24 of Lockheed Martin’s F-16 fighter planes at $360 million (or so) for each aircraft, an expensive one-shot deal.  On the other hand, Saudi Arabia (which inked $14.71 billion in weapons agreements between 2001 and 2008), Egypt ($13.25 billion) and Israel ($11.27 billion) are such regular customers that they should have the equivalent of one of those “buy 10, get the 11th free” punch cards doled out by your favorite coffee shop.

To sum up, the U.S. has a virtual global monopoly on exporting tools of force and destruction. Call it market saturation. Call it anything you like, just not the “global arms trade.”

Getting Even More Competitive?

It used to be that the United States exported goods, products, and machinery of all sorts in prodigious quantities: cars and trucks, steel and computers, and high-tech gizmos. But those days are largely over.

The Obama administration now wants to launch a green manufacturing revolution in the U.S., and in February, Commerce Secretary Gary Locke announced a new “National Export Initiative” with the aim of doubling American exports, a move he said would support the creation of two million new jobs.  The U.S. could, of course, lose the renewable-energy race to China and that new exports program may never get off the ground.  In one area, however, the U.S. is manufacturing products that are distinctly wanted -- things that go boom in the night -- and there the Pentagon is working hard to increase market share.

Don’t for a second think that the American global monopoly on weapons sales is accidental or unintentional. The constant and lucrative growth of this market for U.S. weapons makers has been ensured by shrewd strategic planning. Washington is constantly thinking of new and inventive ways to flog its deadly wares throughout the world.

How do you improve on near perfection? In the interest of enhancing that “competitive” edge in weapons sales, the Obama administration is investigating the possibility of revising export laws to make it even easier to sell military technology abroad. As Pentagon spokesman Geoff Morell explained in January, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates wants to see “wholesale changes to the rules and regulations on government technology exports” in the name of “competitiveness.”

When he says “government technology exports,” Morell of course means weapons and other military technologies. “Tinkering with our antiquated, bureaucratic, overly cumbersome system is not enough to maintain our competitiveness in the global economy and also help our friends and allies buy the equipment they need to contribute to global security,” he continued, “[Gates] strongly supports the administration’s efforts to completely reform our export control regime, starting ideally with a blank sheet of paper.”

The laws that regulate U.S. weapons exports are a jumbled mess, but in essence they delineate what the United States can sell to whom and through what bureaucratic mechanisms. According to U.S. law, for example, there are actually a few countries that cannot receive U.S. weapons. Myanmar under the military junta and Venezuela while led by Hugo Chavez are two examples. There are also some weapons systems that are not intended for export. Lockheed Martin’s F-22 Raptor jet fighter was -- until the Pentagon recently stopped buying the plane -- deemed too sophisticated or sensitive to sell abroad. And there are reporting requirements that give members of Congress a window of opportunity within which they can question or oppose proposed weapons exports.

Given what’s being sold, these export controls are remarkably minimal in nature and are constantly under assault by the weapons industry. Bans on weapons sales to particular countries are regularly lifted through aggressive lobbying. (Indonesia, for example, was offered $50 million in weapons from 2006 to 2008 after an almost decade long congressional arms embargo.) The industry also works to relax controls on new technology exports to allies. Japan and Australia have mounted campaigns to win the ability to buy F-22 Raptors, potential sales that Lockheed Martin is now especially happy to entertain. The reporting window to Congress remains an important export control, but the time frame is shrinking as more countries are being “fast tracked,” making it harder for distracted representatives to react when a controversial sale comes up.

In addition to revising these export controls, the administration is looking at the issue of “dual-use” technologies. These are not weapons.  They do not shoot or explode. Included are high-speed computer processors, surveillance and detection networks, and a host of other complex and evolving technologies that could have military as well as civilian applications. This category might also include intangible items like cyber-entities or access to controlled web environments.

Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and other major weapons manufacturers have invested billions of dollars from the Pentagon’s research and development budgets in exploring and perfecting such technologies, and now they are eager to sell them to foreign buyers along with the usual fighter planes, combat ships, and guided missiles. But the rules as they stand make this something less than a slam dunk. So the weapons industry and the Pentagon are arguing for “updating” the rules. If you translate updating as “loosening” the rules, then the United States would indeed be more “competitive,” but who exactly are we trying to beat?

Weapons Sales are Red Hot

“What’s Hot?” is the title of Vice Admiral Jeffrey Wieranga’s blog entry for January 4, 2010.  Wieranga is the Director of the Pentagon’s Defense Security Cooperation Agency, which is charged with overseeing weapons exports, and such pillow talk is evidently more than acceptable -- at least when it’s about weapons sales. In fact, Wieranga could barely restrain himself that day, adding: “Afghanistan is really HOT!” Admittedly, on that day the temperature in Kabul was just above freezing, but not at the Pentagon, where arms sales to Afghanistan evidently create a lot of heat.

As Wieranga went on to write, the Obama administration’s new 2010/2011 budget allocates $6 billion in weaponry for Afghan Security Forces.  The Afghans will actually get those weapons for free, but U.S. weapons makers will make real money delivering them at taxpayers’ expense and, as the Vice Admiral pointed out, that “means there is a staggering amount of acquisition work to do.”

It’s not just Afghanistan that’s now in the torrid zone.  Weapons sales all over the world will be smoking in 2010 and beyond. 

The year began with a bang when Wieranga’s Agency announced that the Obama administration had decided to sell a nifty $6 billion in weapons to Taiwan.  Even as the United States leans heavily on China for debt servicing, Washington is giving the Mainland a big raspberry by offering the island of 22 million off its coast (which Washington does not formally recognize as an independent nation), a lethal cocktail of weaponry that includes $3 billion in Black Hawk helicopters. This deal comes on top of more than $11 billion in U.S. weapons exports to Taiwan over the last decade, and is certain to set Chinese-U.S. relations back a step or two.

Other bonanzas on the horizon? Brazil wants new fighter planes and Boeing is battling a French company for the contract in a deal that could be worth a whopping $7 billion. India, once a major arms buyer from the Soviet Union, is now another big buy-American customer, with Boeing and Lockheed Martin vying to equip its air force with new fighter planes in deals that Boeing estimates may reach $11 billion.

Such deals are staggering.  They contribute more bang and blast to a world already bristling with particularly lethal weaponry.  They are a striking American success story in a time filled with failures.  Put in the lurid but everyday terms of a nation weaned on reality television, the Pentagon is pimping for the U.S. weapons industry.  The weapons industry, for its part, is a pusher for every kind of lethal technology.  The two of them together are working to ensure that more of the same will flow out of the U.S. in ever easier and more lucrative ways.

Global arms trade?  Send that one back to the Department of Euphemisms.  Pimps and pushers with a lucrative global monopoly on a killing drug -- maybe that’s the language we need.  And maybe, just maybe, it’s time to launch a “war on weapons.”

Frida Berrigan is a Senior Program Associate with the New America Foundation’s Arms and Security Initiative. “Weapons at War 2008,” a report she co-authored with William D. Hartung, goes into much more detail about the politics and pratfalls of weapons exports.

Copyright 2010 Frida Berrigan

© 2010 TomDispatch. All rights reserved.
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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
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Obama’s preventive war and the end of Nuremberg

By Richard Hoffman

WSWSFebruary 20, 2010

US President Barack Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo last December was widely seen as a glorification of militarism, rather than a promotion of peace. In several analyses, the World Socialist Web Site reviewed the speech, in the context of the continuation and escalation by the Obama administration of the aggressive militarist foreign policy of the Bush regime.

The speech marked a turning point in world affairs. Obama specifically embraced the illegal doctrine of "preventive" war in the use of American military power. In this respect, to the extent that his presidency supposedly represented the liberal alternative to the foreign policy of the Bush regime, it is now absolutely clear that, within the American political establishment, there is unequivocal bi-partisan repudiation of the Nuremberg principles, which outlawed, and made criminal, the planning and launching of aggressive war.

This article proposes to review the meaning of the Obama speech in the context of the history and development of international law.

International law and aggressive war
In the western world, during the reign of Christian kings, there existed an accepted doctrine and custom between states, known as "just war", or "bellum justum". This medieval doctrine expressly made provision for the possibility of a "just aggression". The principle was used as justification for territorial conquest and expansion. The Catholic Powers specifically legitimised their conquest of the New World by reference to the doctrine of "just war". In general, the idea of "just war" was underpinned by the conception of the right of a superior civilisation over an inferior one, and the authority of the Christian Church over all peoples of the globe.

At the end of the Thirty Years’ War in Europe, the Treaty of Westphalia of 1648 laid the groundwork for the relationship between sovereign states in the modern era. The "Westphalian Settlement" recognised as a principle of legality the right of a sovereign state to use force to assert its political interests against other sovereign states. On that foundation, there developed customs about the declaration of war and the conduct of war, but aggression was not outlawed. At the same time, the Westphalian Settlement recognised the principle of state sovereignty—that the internal affairs of a sovereign state were immune from foreign intervention.

In the course of the eighteenth century, through the cultural and intellectual force of the Enlightenment, the idea of the sovereign right to wage war came under attack, in particularly sustained form by the German philosophers Immanuel Kant and Christian Wolf. In his famous 1795 work, Toward Perpetual Peace; A Philosophical Sketch (Zum Ewigen Frieden; Ein Philosophische Entwurf), Kant formulated an idea of global peace based on conceptions of world federalism and the outlawing of the use of force. Kant proposed that states, as well as individuals, should be subjected to international law, as "cosmopolitan law" ("Weltburgerrecht").

In a series of "Preliminary Articles", Kant set out a number of steps, which he considered should be immediately implemented to prevent war. Among these were included:

1. No secret treaty of peace shall be held valid in which there is tacitly reserved the basis or possibility for future war.

2. Standing armies shall be totally abolished.

3. National debts shall not be contracted with a view to the external friction of states.

4. No state shall by force interfere with the constitution or government of another state.

Kant also set out three definitive articles as a foundation upon which to build world peace.

1. The civil constitution of every state should be republican.

2. The law of nations shall be founded on a federation of free states.

3. The law of world citizenship shall be limited to conditions of "Universal Hospitality".

By "Universal Hospitality", Kant meant complete and unrestricted freedom of movement of all peoples around the world.

Kant’s ideas found no institutional or political embodiment or practice in the affairs of nations, and it was not until the early part of the twentieth century that his ideas were considered again, through developments in international jurisprudence.

The Westphalian system, which sanctioned the use of force between states, remained in place through the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, and was the customary basis for the declarations of war in World War I.

International law in the aftermath of World War I
There was no breach of international law by Austria-Hungary or Germany in their launching of aggressive war in 1914. Furthermore, there was no principle in international law at that time of individual responsibility for state acts.

Upon Germany’s defeat in 1918, Kaiser Wilhelm II fled to Holland and the allies sought to extradite him to place him before a tribunal for war crimes. Article 227 of the Versailles Treaty accused the Kaiser of "the supreme offence against international morality and the sanctity of treaties". The indictment sought to try the Kaiser not simply for breaches of the laws of warfare, i.e., the lawful conduct of military activities and occupation, treatment of prisoners etc., but for the waging of "aggressive war." Article 227 stipulated that the Kaiser and high-level German military and political figures be tried before an international tribunal made up of judges representing the victorious powers. In addition, the Versailles Treaty required Germany, without any foundation in existing law or custom, to hand over 900 named individuals accused of violating the laws of war. Holland refused to extradite the Kaiser on the ground that international law, as it then stood, did not envisage the incrimination of heads of state for breaches of international law.

At that time, the only legal subject in international law was the state. The German government refused to hand over the 900 individuals, but did conduct its own trial at the Supreme Court in Leipzig. Only a handful were ultimately tried, and those who were convicted received light sentences.

The League of Nations, established after the war, claimed amongst its objectives the prevention of future wars. However, its covenant did not specifically outlaw the resort to wars of aggression. Nevertheless, there was a strong movement amongst liberal-internationalist intellectuals in the US and Europe to continue to attempt to seek an international agreement providing for an explicit legal prohibition of aggressive war.

In 1924, James T. Shotwell, a member of the US delegation to the Paris Peace Conference of 1919, spearheaded the creation of a document considered by the League of Nations Council, entitled "Outlawry of Aggressive War". This became known as the "Shotwell Project", and its core conception was that aggressive war should constitute a crime. An aggressor was considered to be a state that first resorts to force and with no recognition of the conception of "just cause".

Opposition to the Shotwell Project, largely from Britain, resulted in its failure to be put up for ratification by the members of the League in 1924. However, the American proponents of the outlawry of aggressive war continued to fight for its international recognition, and in 1928, the so-called Kellogg-Briand Pact was signed in Paris by 15 nations. The pact, which was primarily the creation of American liberalism (based, of course, on the political reality of America’s rising economic and industrial dominance and confidence, and its satisfaction with the geo-political status quo), declared an absolute prohibition of war as a political instrument available to nations. By 1939, more than 60 states, including Germany, France, UK, Italy, Japan and the US, had ratified the pact.

The Kellogg-Briand Pact was an important milestone in the development of international law. In subsequent developments, such as the Nuremberg Trials, the outlawing of aggressive war, accepted by the signatories to the Pact, was taken as the decisive normative premise upon which the legality of international tribunals was subsequently founded. (See, for example, L. Gross, "The Criminality of Aggressive War", in American Political Science Review, 41 (2) 1947).

The Pact provided that "nations recognise their solemn duty to promote the welfare of mankind, committing themselves to a frank renunciation of war as an instrument of national policy and condemn recourse to war for the solution of international controversies and recognise that the solution of all disputes or conflicts which may arise among them shall never be sought except by pacific means".

The dialectic of Nuremberg
In September 1939, Hitler launched Germany’s aggressive war against Poland. Unsatisfied with the international status quo, German imperialism sought to establish a German continental superpower through the conquest of vast territories in eastern and south-eastern Europe, sufficient to match America’s global hegemonic status. In the East, Japan similarly sought, by means of aggressive war, to expand its sphere of influence and power to Asia and the Pacific, in direct challenge to the US. The battles, genocide and famines associated with World War II took an estimated 78 million lives.

The Nuremberg and Tokyo war trials, which took place after the war, have always been the subject of controversy and confusion, continuing to the present day. On the one hand, there is the charge that the trials represented "victors’ justice". On the other, there is the uncritical liberal view of Nuremberg and its claimed legacy in subsequent international tribunals. In order to appreciate "the meaning of Nuremberg", it is necessary to analyse its contradictory legal and political components.

Towards the war’s end, the allied powers discussed the establishment of a new international organisation to regulate the relations between states and maintain stability in the world—over which they would exercise power and control. These discussions, which began at Dumbarton Oaks near Washington D.C. in 1944, were ultimately to lead to the formation of the United Nations, with the victorious powers forming the Security Council to preside over and make the ultimate decisions concerning the new organisation and its conduct in world affairs. These developments were highly political and motivated, primarily, by America’s international political and economic objectives: the stabilisation of the world economy, the prevention of revolution, and the expansion of American capital around the globe through free trade.

The UN’s structure was grounded in the idea of overwhelming military force as the guarantor of peace against an aggressor state. "Peace," British Prime Minister Winston Churchill declared on 24 May 1944, "will be guaranteed by the overwhelming military power of the new world organisation." As in the Kellogg-Briand Pact, aggressive war was specifically outlawed in the UN Charter, which declared war to be a "scourge" from which the UN intended to "free mankind forever". The use of force by any nation was explicitly forbidden by Article 2, Section 4, which remains the law today. Furthermore, reinforcing the unequivocal character of the prohibition on the use of armed force, Article 51 provides that the only exception to the absolute prohibition is in self-defence, after an attack by another state. This clearly excludes the use of force on the basis of a threatened or apprehended attack, and therefore, the doctrine of preventive or "pre-emptive" use of force has no basis in international law.

At the same time that the victorious powers were conducting political discussions to formulate the post-war structure of "international regulation", talks were also taking place regarding the possible trial or other treatment of major German and Japanese figures for war crimes. In this domain, questions of legality and international law—as distinct from purely political considerations—assumed a significant place. Churchill was minded to simply shoot all the Nazi leaders without trial. Roosevelt told Churchill that such an act would not sit well in the American conscience, and that there should be some kind of trial. The Soviet view was that the Nazi leaders should be dealt with summarily before a military commission.

In the juridical sphere, the establishment of war crimes tribunals to try individuals for war crimes, including the planning and launching of aggressive war, was theoretically anticipated in a major legal work by the Austrian legal theorist Hans Kelsen. Basing himself on Kant’s Enlightenment ideas, Kelsen’s 1944 essay "Peace Through Law" proposed that individuals, as well as states, should, for the first time in history, be subjects in international law. Furthermore, Kelsen believed that the judicial function needed to play the central role in the area of international war crimes, as distinct from purely normative and executive processes. International law, said Kelsen, if it were to have genuine effect, would need to apply to individuals who could be brought to trial before an impartial judicial authority. Borrowing from Kant’s conception of "Weltburgerrecht", Kelsen considered that if international law were going to regulate human conduct in international affairs then, in the interests of civilised intercourse, it was essential that there should be individual penal responsibility for its violation in the carrying out of government activities or in the direction of military operations.

According to Kelsen, an international, impartial court, with the power to indict and try individual citizens, who were alleged to have committed war crimes, would be essential to further international peace. The American position—to try the Nazi leaders in a judicial process for individual criminal responsibility—was ultimately institutionalised in the Nuremberg Tribunal. On August 8, 1945 the agreement between the US, the USSR, Britain and France to establish the International Military Tribunal was signed. Although in significantly different form, the Nuremberg process in essence reflected Kelsen’s conceptions. In the same week, the US committed two of the most heinous war crimes in history—the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki - for which no-one was ever indicted. Those crimes, amongst other things, led the Indian judge at the Tokyo War Crimes Tribunal, Radhabinod Pal, to dissent and to express the opinion that "when the conduct of all nations involved is taken into account, the law will perhaps be found to be that only a lost war is a crime" (R. B. Pal "The Dissenting Opinion of the Member for India" in R. J. Pritchard, The Tokyo War Crimes Trial, New York, 1987).

The application of the criminal law by a judicial process to individuals charged with waging aggressive war was a momentous, progressive advance in human consciousness, reflected in the sphere of law. In his book Tyranny on Trial (Dallas, 1999), Whitney Harris, who served on the prosecution team of chief US prosecutor, and former US Supreme Court judge, Robert Jackson, said the following of the Nuremberg Trial:

"The historic trial at Nuremberg was grounded in the common law of nations. That common law, as codified in international treaties and conventions, and as interpreted and applied by scholars and judges, provided its judicial basis. Correlatively, the trial contributed a powerful new precedent to the growing body of international law. It was a proceeding conducted by lawyers and it constitutes an important step in the long struggle to replace the role of force by the rule of law. The conception of law as a brake on power is one of the chief contributions to civilisation. At Nuremberg for the first time in history, men who had abused power were held to answer in a court of law for crimes committed in the name of war."

The procedure at Nuremberg, which accorded due process and a rigorous forensic examination, as well as full rights of defence to the accused, was largely the result of the efforts of Jackson to ensure that the Nuremberg trial could not be impugned as "victor’s justice". In his 1945 address to the American Society of International Law, Jackson stated: "We must not use the forms of juridical proceedings to carry out or rationalise previously settled political or military policy. The process must be juridical, and the proceeding must be fair."

The Tribunal’s statutes, drawing upon a well-established body of international law, custom and convention, gave specific definitions of crimes against peace, including conduct that involved the "planning, preparation, initiation and waging of a war of aggression…..or participation in a common plan or conspiracy for the accomplishment of any of the foregoing" (counts 1 and 2 of the indictment).

In his opening speech to the Tribunal, Jackson declared:

"Any resort to war—to any kind of war—is a resort to means which are inherently criminal. War inevitably is a course of killings, assaults, deprivations of liberty, the destruction of property. An honestly defensive war is—of course—legal, and saves those lawfully conducting it from criminality. But inherently criminal acts cannot be defended by showing that those who committed them were engaged in a war, when war itself is illegal. The very minimum legal consequence of the treaties making aggressive wars illegal is to strip those who incite or wage them of every defence the law ever gave, and to leave war-makers subject to judgment by the usually accepted principles of the law of crime."

The Nuremberg principle, making aggressive war criminal, was formally incorporated into international law by Resolution 95 (1) of the UN General Assembly. It was not, however, applied equally after World War II. Individuals responsible for war crimes on the allied side, in particular for deliberate civilian bombing, were never tried according to the Nuremberg laws.

In the post-war period, American foreign policy honoured Nuremberg primarily in the breach, rather than in the observance, with frequent military interventions and invasions in pursuit of US economic and political aims, particularly in Latin America and the Middle East.

America’s involvement in Vietnam was clearly in breach of the prohibition on aggressive war, described in the Nuremberg judgment as the "supreme international crime". In the 1970s, Telford Taylor, a retired World War II brigadier-general (who had also served on Jackson’s prosecution team and was lead counsel in subsequent Nuremberg trials, including those of leading industrialists and doctors), criticised America’s involvement in Vietnam as a flagrant breach of the Nuremberg precedent in relation to both aggressive war and crimes against humanity. (Telford Taylor, Nuremberg and Vietnam: An American Tragedy, New York, 1970). In the context of national and imperial rivalries, the Nuremberg principles clearly could not be, in reality, a panacea to militarism and war.

The post-Soviet "New World Order": "preventive" and "humanitarian" war
Following the collapse of the Soviet Union, the US ruling elite altered its military and strategic perspectives. It embarked upon a policy of establishing complete and unchallenged domination over key regions and resources against its major rivals in Europe and Asia, through the global projection of overwhelming military power. The politico-military transformation had its corollary in the ruling elite’s attitude to constraints imposed on the use of force by international law. In a word, these constraints were repudiated. America was unbound.

In the twenty years since 1990, America’s position on international law has crystallised –aggressive war is a legitimate instrument of national policy. It is appropriate to review some of the major milestones in this process, which culminated in Barack Obama’s speech in Oslo last October. In his Nobel Prize speech, the president confirmed that he, too, was a supporter of the destruction of the Nuremberg precedents.

In August 1990, in a speech in Colorado, then US President George H. W. Bush proclaimed the "New World Order". Bush declared that since the US had won the Cold War, it was its duty to establish a new international order, along with the principles that would govern it. In the next two years, policy and military strategy documents were prepared, including the 1991 National Security Strategy of the United States and the 1992 Defence Planning Guidance. Central to these documents were:

1. America’s role in bringing "security and stability" to various regions around the globe.

2. The right of intervention in the internal affairs of sovereign states on the basis that the Westphalian principles of sovereignty and sovereign equality had been superseded.

At the NATO summit in Rome in November 1991, the US presented a "New Strategic Concept" for NATO, which emphasised the "global context" and the need for NATO to take a "more expansive and less defensive strategic military role". The US and Britain both proclaimed the right to conduct "humanitarian interventions", involving the use of military force to resolve disputes within other nations and to halt "human rights violations".

The Gulf War of 1991 and NATO’s military attacks on the territory of the former Yugoslavia were a direct expression of America’s new position: the repudiation of international law and acts of military aggression on "humanitarian" pretexts. The 1999 attacks on Kosovo were clear acts of armed aggression. Russia, China, India and Belarus protested them at the time. Serbia brought legal proceedings in The Hague, seeking declarations that NATO’s actions were criminal violations of the law, but these were rejected on the basis that the actions were justified on humanitarian grounds.

By this time, the UN and the tribunals established under its auspices had become nothing more than tools of US and British imperialism. Under US pressure, Kofi Annan, notwithstanding the lack of UN Security Council support for the attacks, justified NATO’s military action on the basis of a "state of necessity", a concept without foundation in international law.

By the end of the 1990s, it was clear that the absolute prohibition on the use of force—except in self-defence—was no longer of any account. Acts of military aggression, leading to the deaths of thousands of civilians, many of them caused by cluster bombs and depleted uranium missiles, were legitimised as "humanitarian interventions".

The relations of nation-states had reverted to the position prior to 1939. In 1938, Hitler had invaded Czechoslovakia on the pretext of the mistreatment of ethnic Germans in the Sudetenland by Czech authorities. In any event, in international law, violations of human rights do not justify armed interventions, which inevitably lead to killings, by foreign countries. The highly respected German scholar of international law, Bruno Simma, in his essay "NATO, the UN and the Use of Force: Legal Aspects" (European Journal of International Law, 10 (1) 1999) considered the NATO attack in Kosovo a flagrant repudiation of the UN Charter, and the justification made for it a resort to the medieval doctrine of justa causa ("just cause"). Given that the NATO attack was illegal, and that Serbia had not breached any international law with respect to any other sovereign state, the subsequent trial of Slobodan Milosevic in The Hague had no foundation in international law, and had no basis in the Nuremberg precedents.

Preventive war
The quest of US imperialism to establish unrivalled supremacy over the globe, which accelerated through the 1990s, was expanded, particularly to the energy rich regions of the Middle East and the Caspian basin, following September 11, 2001. The ensuing "War on Terror" and declarations of hostility toward "rogue states" led virtually immediately to the Bush administration’s official adoption of the doctrine of preventive war.

This doctrine had been gaining ground since the early 1990s among intellectuals who supported a more aggressive US foreign policy. In 1992, for example, the liberal Michael Walzer circulated a document signed by 60 intellectuals formulating the tenets of a new conception of "just war". In his book Just and Unjust Wars (New York, 1992), Walzer argued that, when the US was confronted with "unusual and terrible danger" and a "radical threat to human values", no restriction of an ethical or legal nature could apply, and any means of preventive destruction was morally legitimate.

Others similarly took up the justification for preventive war, in the supposedly new "anti-terror" context, to counter "threats" to American interests. The proposition was generally accepted that when confronted with "evil", it was legitimate to resort to evil, and that "9/11 changed everything". Michael Ignatieff in his book The Lesser Evil: Political Ethics in an Age of Terror (Edinburgh University Press, 2004) reasoned that, faced with a terrorist threat, the US government was entitled to suspend democratic rights and use force to counteract evil. The US Constitution, so this perspective went, "is not a suicide pact" and must give way to the exercise of arbitrary force in an "emergency". Ignatieff further elaborated, "In emergencies, we have no alternative but to trust our leaders to act quickly, when our lives may be in danger. In a terrorist emergency, we disagree... about the fact, chiefly about what type and degree of risk the threat of terrorism actually presents. Public safety requires extrapolations about future threats on the basis of disputable facts about present ones."

The "War on Terror" pretext was advanced simultaneously to escalate the attack on constitutional norms in the US, and on international law in foreign affairs, as the ruling class lurched toward an arbitrary and lawless framework of rule and conquest.

In the Quadrennial Defence Review Report, September 30, 2001, and the National Security Strategy of the United States, September 17, 2002, the US government set out in detail its preventive war doctrine. The doctrine proclaimed the right of the US to unilaterally denounce other sovereign states, to force inspections in order to secure "preventive disarmament", and to use military force if and when it considered it necessary or desirable. The UN was viewed as a body without power over American interests, and thus the US could and would use force without reference to the UN Security Council. Specifically, in terms of military strategy, the doctrine of preventive war encompassed the projection of US military power utilising its "asymmetrical advantages". In particular, the consolidation of global hegemony required the establishment of a powerful, long-term military presence in Central Asia, to guarantee control over the immense energy resources of the ex-Soviet republics in the Caucasian, Caspian and Transcaspian region, as well as over Afghanistan and Pakistan, and to establish a military encirclement of both Russia and China. The Quadrennial Review specifically referred to the use of "preventive military measures", including "regime change" in relation to "hostile states", including the use of military force and occupation in order to achieve US strategic objectives.

The National Security Strategy of 2002 also proclaimed the right of the US to act "pre-emptively" in circumstances of a perceived threat. The document stated:

"The United States has long maintained the option of pre-emptive actions to counter a sufficient threat to our national security. The greater the threat, the greater is the risk of inaction—and the more compelling the case for taking anticipatory action to defend ourselves, even if uncertainty remains as to the time and place of the enemy attack. To forestall or prevent such hostile acts by our adversaries the United States will, if necessary, act pre-emptively."

The doctrines of preventive war, pre-emptive self defence, humanitarian war and just war are all illegal in international law. The resort to force, to war, is prohibited following Nuremberg and its codification in international law charters and conventions. The adoption of these doctrines by the US represents, in historical terms, an immense regression in the ideological condition of Western civilisation.

In 2003, the US planned, and launched, its aggressive war against Iraq. The alleged threats of "weapons of mass destruction" were proven to be fraudulent and, in any event, could not have formed a lawful foundation for the launching of war. According to the precedents established at Nuremberg, those civilian and military leaders who planned and carried out the aggressive war against Iraq should be arraigned before a properly constituted judicial tribunal, afforded full and proper due process, and tried for crimes against peace, crimes against humanity, and crimes against the laws of war. If found guilty, they should be sentenced accordingly.

Obama in Oslo
Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize speech in Oslo confirmed the death of American liberalism and, one would think, the end of any illusion that international law and the humanistic conceptions embodied in the Nuremberg principles—in particular the inherent criminality of aggressive war—so eloquently and powerfully enunciated by Jackson 65 years ago, have any further meaning or significance for America’s ruling elite.

American liberalism proclaimed more than six decades ago that waging war was criminal and an affront to the morality and dignity of all civilised people. In a speech that ran amok over these conceptions, and international law, Obama glorified America’s military power and her "right" to use it in the pursuit of American political aims. The president declared that "Nations will continue to find the use of force not only necessary but morally justified". He chastised "ambivalence over the use of military force" and proclaimed, with his usual vacuous eloquence, Washington’s claims to the use of military power for the purposes of "just war", "preventive war" and "pre-emptive war"—all the illegal doctrines with medieval roots condemned at Nuremberg as nothing more than cloaks for aggression and conquest.

"The instruments of war", Obama continued, "have a role to play in preserving the peace." The US had the right to "act unilaterally" and that right "extends beyond self-defence or the defence of one nation against an aggressor." He went on to single out various countries that might soon become the subject of US military action—including Iran, North Korea, Somalia, Sudan, Congo, Zimbabwe, and Myanmar—a veritable declaration of war on weak and poor countries. American finance capital, through its mouthpiece the Wall Street Journal, hailed Obama’s speech in favour of aggressive war. "Sometimes war is necessary," it declared.

In the clearest possible terms, Barack Obama has signalled that he intends to continue, and to escalate, the imperialist policy of the United States for global supremacy, colonial subjugation and control of vital resources and markets that it embarked upon following the collapse of the Soviet Union. In Oslo, Obama declared that the use of military force to that end shall not be constrained in the slightest by international law or the Nuremberg principles. The great advance in consciousness represented by the development of these principles, has now been categorically and officially repudiated by the entire spectrum of political leadership of the United States.

Obama’s Oslo speech signifies the burning necessity for the international working class to build a mass, world socialist party against imperialist war. Unless such a party is built, and takes power, the world will once again be plunged into a third, and cataclysmic, global conflagration.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #98 on: February 22, 2010, 05:53:21 am »
Obama's Pentagon Rebrands Iraq War, Rolls Out PR Offensive in Afghanistan

The new PR campaign has all the qualities of a George Orwell novel. Perhaps 'Operation Imperial Sunset' is a more appropriate name.

By Liliana Segura, AlterNet
Posted on February 20, 2010, Printed on February 22, 2010

This week, the same week that saw the U.S. military launch a major new assault in Afghanistan -- a much ballyhooed effort that is as much a PR offensive as a military one -- the Pentagon decided to formally rebrand the Iraq War.

In a one-page memo dated Feb. 17, 2010 and signed by Robert Gates, the Secretary of Defense officially requested that U.S. Central Command "change the name of Operation Iraqi Freedom to Operation New Dawn."

"The requested operation name change is approved to take effect 1 September, 2010, coinciding with the change in mission for U.S. forces in Iraq," Gates wrote to CENTCOM Commander Gen. David Petraeus, noting that this would send "a strong signal that Operation Iraqi Freedom has ended and our forces are operating under a new mission."

Just how strong is debatable. Outside military circles (or media outlets that print Pentagon press releases as news), it would be hard to argue that "Operation Iraqi Freedom" was ever really a household phrase. Beyond any symbolic value, renaming what is more commonly known simply as the Iraq War to Operation New Dawn doesn't change much. But it is reflective of the increasingly accepted perception in the U.S. that American operations in Iraq are as good as over.

Yet, in addition to the massive new U.S. embassy in Baghdad -- a facility that predicts a formidable U.S. presence for years to come -- and the fact that the 2011 withdrawal date is subject to conditions on the ground, things in Iraq are nothing if not unresolved. With parliamentary elections just weeks away, the past several weeks have been deadly for Iraqis, with a series of devastating bombings, the latest of which struck Thursday in Anbar province, killing at least 13 people and wounding many more. Late last month, three Baghdad hotels were struck in a coordinated bombing campaign that left at least 36 people dead and 71 wounded.

Khari Abdul Hadi, an aide to Anbar's governor, expressed what the New York Times described as "resignation bordering on despair" over the latest bombing this week. "I cannot blame the explosion on anyone because there are so many," he said. "We are lost. We don't know our enemy."

It's a discomfiting contrast to the sunny picture the Obama administration is projecting about the U.S. mission in Iraq. But with escalation in Afghanistan just getting started, that's the Pentagon's story, and it's sticking to it.

It's not the first time the Obama administration, like the Bush White House before it, sought to beautify its military endeavors through facelifts and marketing appeals. Last March it announced that it was discontinuing the tarnished term "enemy combatant" to describe those prisoners captured as part of the "war on terror" (while reserving the right to detain them indefinitely without trial). Soon thereafter it was reported that speechwriters were being asked to scrap the troublesome phrase "war on terror" altogether in favor of the more neutral, blandly technical "Overseas Contingency Operation."

But the more the Obama administration attempts to differentiate itself from its unpopular predecessor through rebranding campaigns, the less convincing it is, particularly given a recently unveiled military budget of unprecedented proportions. Whatever symbolic value there was in rewarding President Barack Obama the Nobel Peace Prize did precious little to conceal the pro-war speech he gave upon receiving it, not to mention everything that followed.

Yet the sophistication of the administration's PR machine was on display this week, with major news outlets breathlessly documenting the U.S. military's advance into Helmand province. The February 13 assault on Taliban forces in the town of Marja by a 6,000-member force comprised of U.S. troops and Afghan soldiers was reportedly the largest joint US-NATO-Afghan operation in history, one that has already produced several civilian casualties. In the run-up to the assault, CNN featured reporters in combat gear interviewing army officers, sporting event-style, juxtaposed with interviews of Afghans expressing support for the U.S. occupation. Video footage at shows explosions followed by clapping and cheering by U.S. troops. Over at Talking Points Memo, "We're a Go" was the dramatic headline with subheads noting the "major strategy shift" represented by the operation.

Long before the Marja offensive, however, came efforts by the military to publicize its coming operation, a "strategy shift" as important as what is happening on the ground. A Feb. 4 New York Times report described an uncharacteristically "upbeat" Gen. Stanley McChrystal predicting "real progress in 2010" in Afghanistan and explaining that "the biggest thing is in convincing the Afghan people."

"This is all a war of perceptions," he said. "This is not a physical war in terms of how many people you kill or how much ground you capture, how many bridges you blow up. This is all in the minds of the participants."

This past Friday, the Times reported on local polling conducted by the U.S. military in Afghanistan before the Marja offensive, a move described as going "beyond traditional military goals."

"Perhaps no other feature of the offensive now under way in and around the town, Marja, speaks so clearly to its central characteristic: it is a campaign meant to shift perceptions as much as to alter the military balance, crush an enemy army or seize some vital crossroads," the Times's Tom Shanker reported, noting that, beyond convincing Afghan civilians of the legitimacy of the mission, "the operation is supposed to show Americans that the buildup ordered by President Obama can have swift and positive results."

But nine years after the start of the Afghan war, swift and positive are not words most Americans are likely to associate with the mission, least of all the soldiers who have left Iraq only to be redeployed to Afghanistan. The PR maneuverings of the Bush administration got old, fast, and they will under Obama too.

As far as "Operation New Dawn," many are unconvinced.

"The DoD's latest attempt to sell what we're doing in Iraq to the people and international community simply highlights the tenuous position they've committed our forces to," Jose Vasquez, executive director of Iraq Veterans Against the War, told AlterNet. "Their latest misnomer, Operation New Dawn, has all the qualities of a George Orwell novel. Perhaps 'Operation Imperial Sunset' is more appropriate. No one is fooled by their attempts to spin what is happening over there, namely permanent bases, lopsided oil deals and serious breaches of international law. Let's bring the troops home and let Iraq enjoy its sovereignty."

Liliana Segura is an AlterNet staff writer and editor of Rights & Liberties and World Special Coverage. Follow her on Twitter.

© 2010 Independent Media Institute. All rights reserved.
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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #99 on: February 24, 2010, 05:33:20 am »
Published on Tuesday, February 23, 2010 by Reuters

US Advice to Europe: Spend More on War-Making

by Reuters

US Raps Europe for Underfunding Defense

WASHINGTON - Europe has demilitarized too much since the end of the Cold War and its underfunded defense budgets are undermining shared security goals, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on Tuesday.

German Bundeswehr army soldiers of the Bravo platoon, 4th company, 391 mechanised infantry battalion of the International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) march during a bridge reconstruction operation in Chahar Dara in the outskirts of Kunduz December 14, 2009. (Credit: Reuters/Fabrizio Bensch)

Gates, addressing a NATO seminar in Washington, said too few helicopters and cargo aircraft for the NATO mission in Afghanistan were "directly impacting operations." NATO also needed more aerial refueling tankers and surveillance aircraft.

"Despite the need to spend more on vital equipment for ongoing missions, the alliance has been unwilling to fundamentally change how it sets priorities and allocates resources," Gates said.

"We need to provide our troops in the field the resources they need and fund other urgent priorities, such as missile defense," Gates said.

The comments follow U.S. President Barack Obama's request earlier this month to Congress for a record $708 billion in U.S. defense spending for fiscal 2011, including a hike for the Afghan war effort.

The unwillingness of European countries to fund defense was part of a trend in which large parts of the public and the political class there "are averse to military force and the risks that go with it," Gates said.

"The demilitarization of Europe ... has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st," Gates said.

"Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression, but, on a more basic level, the resulting funding and capability shortfalls make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats."

The NATO's 2010 budget shortfall has already reached hundreds of millions of euros, even though the year is less than two months old. That, Gates said, was a "natural consequence of having underinvested in collective defense for more than a decade."

"Since the end of the Cold War, national defense budgets have fallen consistently -- even with unprecedented operations outside NATO's territory over the past five years," Gates said.

He said only five of 28 NATO allies met a defense spending target of 2 percent of gross domestic product.

Despite Obama's record spending request, Pentagon officials expect the U.S. defense budget to come under pressure in coming years as the United States looks trim its deficit.

(Reporting by Phil Stewart, editing by Alan Elsner)


© 2010 Reuters


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Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #100 on: February 24, 2010, 09:53:43 am »
In From the Cold     

The Right should not wage a Hundred Years War.

By George W. Carey

Despite the bellicose rhetoric that emanates from much of the Right, opposition to the interventionist policies initiated by George W. Bush is hardly confined to libertarians and the political Left. It includes traditional conservatives—those conservatives who take their bearings from Burke and Tocqueville, who regard society as both fragile and complex, so complex that no one individual or group can ever presume to comprehend its intricacies.

Traditional conservatives are convinced that global interventions, aside from the attendant loss of life and enormous expense, hold little hope for success since the ingredients for a stable democratic order are seriously lacking in the nations we seek to reform. Key variables include vibrant and healthy intermediate social institutions and associations to serve as effective buffers against an omnipotent government; a decentralized political order in which the principle of subsidiarity is honored; deeply held convictions, religious or customary, that provide meaningful distinctions between state and society, thereby establishing limits to the range of governmental authority; and a recognition of rights with corresponding responsibilities.

While elements of traditional conservatism find expression in classical thought—Aristotle comes immediately to mind—in the American context they are found particularly in the New Humanism of Irving Babbitt and Paul Elmer More and, after World War II, in the major writings of Russell Kirk, Richard Weaver, and Robert Nisbet. Today, the principles of traditional conservatism inform the works of Peter Stanlis, Bruce Frohnen, and Claes Ryn, to name but a few. And until a relatively recent date, those who embrace traditionalist principles and values found a friendly home within the Republican Party.

The steadfast opposition of traditionalist conservatives to the War on Terror initiated by a Republican president stands in sharp contrast to the stance they assumed during the Cold War, when they justifiably earned an image as hardliners implacably committed to the elimination of the Soviet Union and willing to take bold measures to ensure this end. How can these seemingly inconsistent positions be reconciled?

From my perspective, as a politically aware traditional conservative during the entire Cold War era, the obvious answer is that traditionalists believed that the Soviet Union posed an unprecedented threat to the very existence of Western civilization, whereas the stakes involved in the War on Terror are nowhere near as monumental. While the Cold War called for an active and, at times, militant interventionism, handling our present difficulties requires different and far less drastic measures.

There is a dimension to the traditionalists’ perspective of history that explains why they believed the Soviets posed such a historic threat. Simply put, most traditionalists have long perceived our intervention into World War I as a colossal mistake, which initiated a chain reaction that produced World War II, which in turn set the stage for the Cold War. The traditionalists’ inherent aversion to interventionism is readily seen in their longstanding and well-documented rejection of Wilson’s version of American exceptionalism and in their derision of his vision of America as a “redeemer nation” with divinely ordained missions. Nevertheless, while holding that we should not have intervened in World War I, traditionalists came to conclude that we could only extricate ourselves from its disastrous consequences through intervention. Once free of the wreckage caused by Wilson’s war, however, traditionalists believed we could turn away from interventionist policies and chart a new course.

Writing in 1988, Robert Nisbet contended that since the First World War, the United States had been engaged in what amounted to “a virtual Seventy-Five Years War.” With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989, traditionalists had every reason to believe that long war had finally come to an end. They welcomed this liberation. Not only did it open up the possibility, consonant with conservative thought stretching back at least 50 years, that we could significantly reduce our role in the world, it also allowed us a freer hand in formulating our foreign policy on the basis of genuine American interests. Above all, the Soviet collapse seemed to reduce considerably the risk of war. But this new and more limited foreign-policy vision was blotted out at its inception by far grander visions of a New World Order.

To traditionalists’ dismay, Nisbet’s “Seventy-Five Years War,” far from ending, will soon become the “Hundred Years War”—with no end in sight. How did this come to pass? How could a Republican administration have played such a major role in this renewed adventurism with so little resistance from within the party, particularly its congressional wing? And why have criticisms of this conservative turnabout had so little impact? After all, the doctrines used to justify our invasion of Iraq—derivatives of Wilson’s vision of American exceptionalism—had been virtually the exclusive domain of the Democratic Party.

There is no simple answer. Certainly party loyalty comes into play. As I learned much to my consternation at Philadelphia Society meetings, even individuals receptive to traditional conservative views felt the need to support Republican policies and office-holders when they came under attack from Democrats. No doubt, among the Republican members of Congress, the lure of party loyalty was even more imperative. They feared that dissension would threaten their careers. Above all, they didn’t want to endanger the party’s chances of retaining the presidency, the gem of all elective offices given its unrivaled power to dispense wealth and honors.

Neoconservative dominance within the Republican Party is, undoubtedly, another major factor. Not only did these latecomers secure high positions in George W. Bush’s administration, they came to dominate major think tanks such as the Heritage Foundation, the American Enterprise Institute, and even, to a significant extent, the liberal Brookings Institution. These institutional perches, combined with neocons’ disproportionate presence in the prestige media, rendered traditionalists and other dissidents voices in the wilderness. In stunningly swift order, the mark of “real” conservatives came to be their uncritical support of interventionist policies. Indeed, in important sectors of the political landscape, traditional conservatives are not even considered conservatives anymore.

But the single most important factor accounting for the lack of dissent within Republican ranks is the mentality created and nourished by the Cold War. During that era, individuals were habituated to think in terms of a determined enemy, an “evil empire” intent upon imposing a totalitarian order. In keeping with this state of mind was an unquestioned acceptance of aggressive foreign interventions. American exceptionalism supported and justified our militant policies. If the U.S. was “the last best hope of mankind,” our crusades were inherently righteous.

Though the Soviet Union collapsed, the mindset that had been nurtured over a period of 40 years was so ingrained in our political culture that it simply could not be uprooted overnight. Nor were we given much time for reorientation, for American intervention scarcely stopped, resuming swiftly after the disintegration of the Soviet Union with the first Gulf War, whose presumed purpose was to restore “democracy” to Kuwait.

While this and other military ventures served to keep the embers glowing, the later Iraq War fully restored the fires. With the “axis of evil,” we found a familiar brand of enemy. More imaginative neocons fanned the flames with a nearly endless list of potential foes, even suggesting that we were now in the midst of “World War IV”—the Cold War being World War III—a titanic struggle for the survival of Western civilization against the forces of “Islamo-fascism.”

In retrospect, had traditionalists exercised greater prudence during the Cold War—if only by critically appraising what our government was telling us about the capabilities of the Soviet Union—the chances of introducing realism into 21st-century policies might have been enhanced. At the very least, traditionalists can be faulted for accepting virtually every Cold War policy or action, including the Vietnam War, as vital to confronting the Soviet challenge. The most damaging legacy of the Cold War mentality has been the effective elimination of strategic alternatives in our foreign and military policies. As the Lyndon Johnson tapes reveal, he recognized at an early stage that disengagement from Vietnam would be the most prudent policy. Yet these tapes also show that this was a path not taken because doing so would have been an act of political suicide, given the certainty that hardline Republicans would charge LBJ and his party with being “soft on communism.”

Barack Obama’s Afghan policies were likely formulated against a similar backdrop. He could not show “weakness”—could not seriously consider the gradual reduction of forces as a logical course of action—for fear of the political fallout. The lamentable fact is that for decades many, if not most, Democrats have for reasons of sheer political expediency also acquiesced in following the “imperatives” dictated by the Cold War mentality.

Is there any possibility of overcoming this legacy? Perhaps, if enough Republicans and Democrats stand up to the new breed of hardline Cold Warriors. Otherwise, we will continue to fight the last war, inflating distant threats into epic enemies until such time as the American people come to their senses or run out of money.

George W. Carey is professor of government at Georgetown University and author of A Student’s Guide to American Political Thought.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #101 on: February 24, 2010, 10:18:45 am »
Conquest and Censorship

by Douglas Valentine, February 24, 2010

After the Battle of Hastings in 1066, William the Conqueror’s army buried its fallen comrades but left the corpses of the English defenders to rot in the fields where they lay.

Such is the brutal nature of war: the victor inflicts all manner of suffering and humiliation on the vanquished.

What the United States is doing in Iraq and Afghanistan is only marginally different.

William the Conqueror made no pretense about his brutal subjugation of the English. They hated him and resisted his occupation for 20 years, during which time he took all their property and gave it to the Norman upper class. Over 300,000 English people were murdered and starved (one fifth of the population), and some 300,000 French and Normans were planted in England in positions of authority.

An English nobleman was likely blinded, castrated, and thrown in a dungeon in one of the hundreds of prison William built across the countryside to terrorize the population into submission.

England ceased being England, and William repented his sins on his deathbed.

While the U.S. subjugation of Iraq and Afghanistan is following much the same pattern, it is different in one respect. Unlike William, whose oppression was done in the light of day, the U.S. conceals its crimes to preserve the pretense of moral superiority that defines American "exceptionalism."

Covert operations, cover-ups, and deception are essential because without the belief in its inherent moral superiority, the American public might not support its government’s plundering of foreign nations on behalf of America’s ruling class.

The U.S. policy of not identifying or accurately counting foreigner killed in recent American conquests is a good example of why this Big Lie is employed.

The U.S. has an official policy of not counting the number of people it has killed and crippled, rendered homeless, starved, or condemned to sickness, disease, and insanity. Thus it is impossible to quantitatively measure the amount of misery America has visited upon Iraq, which of course makes it easier for the U.S. government to pretend that all this death and suffering was for Iraqis’ benefit.

There are reports of 5 million orphans in Iraq. That’s three times the number of Englishmen William conquered.

In the face of such immense numbers, it is easy to forget that each person matters, as much as you matter. Someone knows who these people are.

More to the point, in many if not most cases the U.S. government – the hired killers in the military and the CIA – know perfectly well the names and identities of each and every person they murder, maim, or render an orphan.

They don’t tell you, but they know.

In Afghanistan, for example, the CIA and military have been conducting, through Provincial Reconstruction Teams, other "civic action" programs, and a secret army of informants, a census of every village, town, and city in the country – much like William’s Domesday Book.
As commander of the U.S. occupation army, Gen. Stanley McChrystal wants to know every Afghan by name, so he can decide who is Taliban and who is not. McChrystal wants to know where each man lives, how many people are in his family, who his wife and children and relatives are, and where he works.
In places like Marjah, McChrystal is at a bit of a loss, but he still wants to know, and tries to know, largely through spies and all manner of electronic surveillance, including satellites.
All this biographical information on Afghans is entered into a computer in McChrystal’s office. The CIA carefully monitors that computer, and with its military special operations counterparts, keeps a separate folder for the Taliban alone. (Facts about CIA and military special operations sources and methods are taken from the author’s book The Phoenix Program.)

Within that Taliban folder, every man is identified by the same biographical criteria as very other Afghan. In addition, each Taliban is categorized by his rank and position within the organization. Low-level fighters are left to the Marines. High-value targets have their own folder and belong to the CIA and military special operations.

High-value targets are given the same special attention that William the Conqueror afforded to English noblemen. High-value targets have the property (intellectual as well as, say, opium fields) that McChrystal wants, and thus more biographical information is gathered about them. Their movements are tracked 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Through spies and sophisticated electronic surveillance, McChrystal even has a very good idea when they are leaving one safe house and traveling to another.

The jets are fueled and the drones are in the sky, waiting.

And this is how and why 27 Afghan civilians were summarily murdered on Feb. 21, 2010, while traveling between remote provinces in a caravan of minibuses. The CIA and military special operations forces were alerted that such and such a high-value target was traveling with his family, and McChrystal seized the opportunity to kill them all.

In a dirty war like the one in Afghanistan, killing high-value targets almost always involves hitting them while they are home or traveling with their families; otherwise they are underground and inaccessible.

Because this psychological warfare tactic of killing important enemy leaders along with their entire families is policy (albeit secret policy), it is called "black propaganda."

It is psychological warfare because it has a sobering effect on low-level Taliban who wish to rise in the ranks. It is propaganda because every Afghan citizen is aware of this policy. And it is black because Americans can’t believe it is true.

They can’t believe it is true for two reasons. First, because Gen. McChrystal looks like an American nobleman and, like William, he expresses remorse.

And they believe because the mainstream media goes along with the Big Lie.

And yet, despite the PR work of correspondents at Newsweek, Gen. McChrystal is no less savage than William the Conqueror. His job is fighting battles, killing enemies, and dismembering their bodies.

The only difference is that William did his killing personally, up close, with a battle ax and a sword for everyone to see, while McChrystal stands far away from the carnage, without witnesses, and allows other to do his dirty work for him, with 2,000-pound bombs, missiles fired from drones, shotguns, and censorship.

Most of all it works because no one ever knows the names and biographies of the innocent victims.

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #102 on: February 25, 2010, 05:13:39 am »
Let Europe Be Europe

Why the United States must withdraw from NATO.


Over the course of the disastrous 20th century, inhabitants of the liberal democratic world in ever-increasing numbers reached this conclusion: War doesn't pay and usually doesn't work. As recounted by historian James J. Sheehan in his excellent book, Where Have All the Soldiers Gone?, the countries possessing the greatest capability to employ force to further their political aims lost their enthusiasm for doing so. Over time, they turned away from war.

Of course, there were lingering exceptions. The United States and Israel have remained adamant in their determination to harness war and demonstrate its utility.

Europe, however, is another matter. By the dawn of this century, Europeans had long since lost their stomach for battle. The change was not simply political. It was profoundly cultural.

The cradle of Western civilization -- and incubator of ambitions that drenched the contemporary age in blood -- had become thoroughly debellicized. As a consequence, however willing they are to spend money updating military museums or maintaining war memorials, present-day Europeans have become altogether stingy when it comes to raising and equipping fighting armies.

This pacification of Europe is quite likely to prove irreversible. Yet even if reigniting an affinity for war among the people of, say, Germany and France were possible, why would any sane person even try? Why not allow Europeans to busy themselves with their never-ending European unification project? It keeps them out of mischief.

Washington, however, finds it difficult to accept this extraordinary gift -- purchased in part through the sacrifices of U.S. soldiers -- of a Europe that has laid down its arms. Instead, successive U.S. administrations have pushed, prodded, cajoled, and browbeaten European democracies to shoulder a heavier share of responsibility for maintaining world order and enforcing liberal norms.

In concrete terms, this attempt to reignite Europe's martial spirit has found expression in the attempted conversion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from a defensive alliance into an instrument of power projection. Washington's aim is this: take a Cold War-inspired organization designed to keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the Americans in, and transform it into a post-Cold War arrangement in which Europe will help underwrite American globalism without, of course, being permitted any notable say regarding U.S. policy.

The allies have not proven accommodating. True, NATO has gotten bigger -- there were 16 member states 20 years ago, 28 today -- but growth has come at the expense of cohesion. Once an organization that possessed considerable capability, NATO today resembles a club that just about anyone can join, including, most recently, such military powerhouses as Albania and Croatia.

A club with lax entrance requirements is unlikely to inspire respect even from its own members. NATO's agreed-upon target for defense spending, for example, is a paltry 2 percent of GDP. Last year, aside from the United States, exactly four member states met that goal.

The Supreme Allied Commander in Europe -- today, as always, a U.S. general -- still presides in splendor over NATO's military headquarters in Belgium. Yet SACEUR wields about as much clout as the president of a decent-sized university. He is not a commander. He is a supplicant. SACEUR's impressive title, a relic of World War II, is merely an honorific, akin to calling Elvis the King or Bruce the Boss.

Afghanistan provides the most important leading indicator of where Washington's attempt to nurture a muscle-flexing new NATO is heading; it is the decisive test of whether the alliance can handle large-scale, out-of-area missions. And after eight years, the results have been disappointing. Complaints about the courage and commitment of NATO soldiers have been few. Complaints about their limited numbers and the inadequacy of their kit have been legion. An immense complicating factor has been the tendency of national governments to impose restrictions on where and how their forces are permitted to operate. The result has been dysfunction.

When Gen. Stanley McChrystal's famous assessment of the situation in Afghanistan leaked to the media last year, most observers focused on his call for additional U.S. troops. Yet the report was also a scathing demand for change in NATO's International Security Assistance Force (ISAF). "ISAF will change its operating culture.... ISAF will change the way it does business," he wrote. "ISAF's subordinate headquarters must stop fighting separate campaigns." The U.S. general found just about nothing in ISAF's performance to commend.

But McChrystal's prospects for fixing ISAF run headlong into two stubborn facts. First, European governments prioritize social welfare over all other considerations -- including funding their armed forces. Second, European governments have an exceedingly limited appetite for casualties. So the tepid, condition-laden European response to McChrystal's call for reinforcements -- a couple of battalions here, a few dozen trainers there, some creative bookkeeping to count units that deployed months ago as fresh arrivals -- is hardly surprising.

This doesn't mean that NATO is without value. It does suggest that relying on the alliance to sustain a protracted counterinsurgency aimed at dragging Afghans kicking and screaming into modernity makes about as much sense as expecting the "war on drugs" to curb the world's appetite for various banned substances. It's not going to happen.

If NATO has a future, it will find that future back where the alliance began: in Europe. NATO's founding mission of guaranteeing the security of European democracies has lost none of its relevance. Although the Soviet threat has vanished, Russia remains. And Russia, even if no longer a military superpower, does not exactly qualify as a status quo country. The Kremlin nurses grudges and complaints, not least of them stemming from NATO's own steady expansion eastward.

So let NATO attend to this new (or residual) Russian problem. Present-day Europeans -- even Europeans with a pronounced aversion to war -- are fully capable of mounting the defenses necessary to deflect a much reduced Eastern threat. So why not have the citizens of France and Germany guarantee the territorial integrity of Poland and Lithuania, instead of fruitlessly demanding that Europeans take on responsibilities on the other side of the world that they can't and won't?

Like Nixon setting out for Beijing, like Sadat flying to Jerusalem, like Reagan deciding that Gorbachev was cut from a different cloth, the United States should dare to do the unthinkable: allow NATO to devolve into a European organization, directed by Europeans to serve European needs, upholding the safety and well-being of a Europe that is whole and free -- and more than able to manage its own affairs.

As with Nixon and Sadat and Reagan, once the deed is done everyone will ask: Why didn't we think of that sooner?

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #103 on: March 04, 2010, 07:08:32 am »
Obama's Budget Revealed:

Money for Wars and Weapons, While More Americans Face Joblessness and Hunger

By Jo Comerford

The latest federal budget opens the American public to yet more pain, while shielding the military and the rest of the national security establishment from the same.

March 03, 2010 "Tomdispatch" - Mar. 02, 2010 - - Send up a flare! The 2011 federal budget has sprung some leaks in the midst of a storm. Not sure there's enough money for life rafts!  Forget women and children first!

Buffeted by economic hard times, the 2,585-page, $3.8 trillion document is already taking on water, though this won’t be obvious to you if you’re reading the mainstream media. Let’s start with the absolute basics: 59% of the budget’s spending is dedicated to mandatory programs like Medicaid, Medicare, Unemployment Insurance, Social Security, and now Pell Grants; 34% is to be spent on “discretionary programs,” including education, transportation, housing, and the military; 7% will be used to service the national debt.

A serious look at this budget document reveals some “leaks” -- two in actual spending practices and two in the basic assumptions that undergird the budget itself. Ship-shape as it may look on the surface, this is a budget perilously close to an iceberg, and it’s not clear whether the captain of the ship will heed the obvious warning signs.

Whose Security Is This Anyway?

In his State of the Union Address, given several days before the 2011 budget was released, President Obama announced a three-year freeze on “non-security discretionary spending.” This was meant as a gesture toward paying down the looming national debt, but it should also be considered an early warning sign for leak number one. After all, the president exempted all national-security-related spending from the cutting process. Practically speaking, according to the National Priorities Project (NPP), national security spending makes up about 67% of that discretionary 34% slice of the budget. In 2011, that will include an as-yet-untouchable $737 billion for the Pentagon alone.

Within the context of the total budget, then, so-called non-security discretionary spending represents a mere 11% of proposed 2011 spending. In other words, Obama’s present plans to chip away at the debt involve leaving 89% of the budget untouched.  Only the $370 billion going to myriad domestic social programs will be on the chopping block.

What's in that $370 billion? Well, for starters, programs that focus on the environment, energy, and science. In the 2011 budget, these categories combined are projected to receive $79 billion or 6% of total domestic discretionary spending. Though each of these areas could actually use a significant boost in funds, that’s obviously not in the cards -- and this will translate into less money at the state level.  New York, for example, is projected to receive $247 million in home energy assistance for low-income folks, down more than $230 million from 2010. These funds mean an energy safety net for our communities, and also warmth and jobs in a cold winter, which looks like “security” to most of us, no matter what our captain says.

Asking for disproportionate cuts and efficiencies in programs in only 11% percent of the overall budget might perhaps be slightly easier to stomach if military spending wasn’t allowed relatively free rein in 2011 (and thereafter). The NPP estimates, in fact, that aggregated increases in military spending over the next decade will exceed $500 billion, drowning twice-over the projected $250 billion in non-security discretionary savings from the president’s cuts over the same time period. Consider this visible unwillingness to control military-related spending leak two in our budgetary Titanic.

By now, danger flags should be going up in profusion because the second leak is so familiar, so George W. Bush. With each new bit of information, in fact, it sounds more and more like the same old song, the last guy's tune. It’s clear that, as soon as the stimulus bump wears off later this year, we're in danger of falling back into exactly the same more-money-for-the-military, less-federal-aid-to-the-states rut we’ve been in for years, despite strong statements from both President Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates decrying Pentagon waste.

And speaking of waste, the Department of Defense is currently carrying weapons-program cost overruns for 96 of its major weapons programs totaling $295 billion, which alone are guaranteed to wipe out any proposed savings from President Obama's non-security discretionary freeze, with $45 billion to spare. That's only to be expected, since neither the Pentagon nor any of the armed services have ever been able to pass a proper audit. Ever.

If they had, what would have become of the C-17, the Air Force's giant cargo plane? With a price tag now approaching $330 million per plane and a total program cost of well over $65 billion, the C-17, produced by weapons-maker Boeing, has miraculously evaded every attempt to squash it. In fact, Congress even included $2.5 billion in the 2010 budget for ten C-17s that the Pentagon hadn’t requested.

Keep in mind that $2.5 billion is a lot of money, especially when cuts to domestic spending are threatened. It could, for instance, provide an estimated 141,681 children and adults with health care for one year and pay the salaries of 6,138 public safety officers, 4,649 music and art teachers, and 4,568 elementary school teachers for that same year. Having done that, it could still fund 22,610 scholarships for university students, provide 46,130 students the maximum Pell Grant of $5,550 for the college of their choice, allow for the building of 1,877 affordable housing units, and provide 382,879 homes with renewable electricity -- again for that same year -- and enough money would be left over to carve out 29,630 free Head Start places for kids. That’s for ten giant transport planes that the military isn’t even asking for.

Domestic-spending freeze proponents demand that our $13 trillion national debt, accumulated over seven decades, be turned back starting now. Critics of Obama’s freeze remind us that, while the C-17 flourishes, cutting into that domestic 11% is like trying to get blood from a stone. They argue that what we need in recessionary times is an infusion of strategic domestic spending. They tend to cite Mark Zandi, chief economist for Moody’s, who has noted that, for every dollar in stimulus aid directed toward the states, $1.40 returns to the economy, while every dollar invested in infrastructure spending yields $1.60.

Freeze critics are acutely aware that, by December 31, 2010, most of the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA), that Obama stimulus package, will expire and states will face a remarkably bleak future. By then, they will also have spent the bulk of their education-relief funds, even as they grapple with a projected 48-state 2011 budget gap of $180 billion. Last year, despite the infusion of stimulus money, the same 48 states were already experiencing significant budget gaps and so cut a cumulative $194 billion or 28% of their total 2010 budgets.

Having already imposed deep program cuts, governors in almost every state will have to make even more excruciating choices before July 1st, the beginning of their next fiscal year. In Massachusetts, officials are considering eliminating funding for a program providing housing vouchers to homeless families. California is facing $1.5 billion in reductions to kindergarten through 12th grade education and community college funding, while New York State may have to reduce payments to health-care providers by $400 million.

On the eve of the annual gathering of governors in Washington D.C., Ray Scheppach, executive director of the National Governors Association, told a Washington Post columnist that he anticipates states needing to do far more than just institute program cuts, layoffs, and benefit cuts.  Governors will have to permanently sell off assets like roads and office buildings, or implement a host of other previously “off-limits” changes.

Afloat in an Ever Harsher World

Having looked at two obvious leaks in the upper hull of our budgetary ship of state, it’s time to move deep underwater and examine the weak spots in two of the basic assumptions that undergird the new budget. The first deals with an issue on everyone's mind: unemployment.

The 2011 budget numbers are based on a crucial projection: just where the unemployment rate will be in 2012.  Revenues available at the federal and state levels will depend, in part, on how many people go back to work and once again begin paying taxes on their wages. For the pending and projected federal budgets to have a shot at panning out, unemployment must decline, as the budget predicts it will, from the present official rate of 9.7% to 8.5% by 2012. That doesn’t sound like much of a drop, especially when Americans are in job pain. But there's a strong likelihood that even this goal is unattainable.

In reality, the U.S. needs to generate an estimated 1.5 million new jobs each year simply to keep pace with the arrival of newcomers on the job market.  That’s before we talk about knocking down the present staggering unemployment rate. In this case, however, one set of budget projections (that three-year domestic spending freeze) might work against the other (that modest decline in unemployment).  Fewer federal stimulus dollars will be available to offset onrushing shortfall disasters at the state budgetary level, which means a potential drop in jobs.  And, thanks to that domestic freeze, more pain is in the offing, with fewer services available, for those out of work.  Even if the new Senate jobs bill makes it to the president's desk, it’s unlikely to go far enough to make a real difference.  All of this means that an 8.5% unemployment rate in two years is, at best, an optimistic projection.

Even if that figure were hit, however, Americans still wouldn’t be celebrating, in budgetary terms or otherwise.  At 8.5%, we’re only back to an unemployment rate not seen in more than a quarter of a century, and keep in mind that a one-dimensional unemployment figure can’t begin to capture the complexity of what the Bureau of Labor Statistics describes as “alternate measures of labor underutilization.”  In other words, it doesn’t count everyone who is underemployed, employed only part-time, or discouraged and so considered out of the job market. At 16.5% as of January 2010, this measure tells a very different story.

Nor does that 8.5% figure capture the disproportionately terrible employment situation faced by young people or people of color who are distinctly over-represented on the unemployment rolls.  And if you happen to live in certain metropolitan areas, 50% of you can kiss your chances of a quick recovery goodbye.  According to the projections of a U.S. Conference of Mayors study titled U.S. Metro Economics, Dayton, Ohio, is not expected to see a significant employment bounce until 2015; Hartford, Connecticut, not until 2018, and Detroit, Michigan, not until after 2039.

As Atlantic magazine Deputy Managing Editor Don Peck noted recently, it will be a long time before we dig ourselves out of this current job crisis. “We are living through a slow motion catastrophe,” he writes, “one that could stain our culture and weaken our nation for many, many years to come.”

That projected 8.5% figure and all the projected freezes and cuts that go with it, don’t begin to address this reality.  Think of that as leak three.

Then, consider this little tidbit from the 2011 budget, hardly noted or discussed in the news, even though it has the potential to punch a hole in the budgetary hull:  the document projects a zero percent cost of living adjustment (COLA) for Food Stamps through 2019.

To understand just what this means, it’s necessary to step back for a moment. According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), food stamp usage is remarkably widespread and growing.  Thirty-six million Americans, including one out of every four children, are currently on Food Stamps. An estimated monthly Food Stamp benefit for a family of four is $321 (approximately 89 cents per person per meal), which already falls significantly short of what the USDA considers a “thrifty” family's grocery receipts, estimated at roughly $513 per month.

If the COLA for food stamps is frozen over the next eight years, NPP analysts project a 19% erosion in the buying power of those stamps due to inflation. This means that, by the end of 2019, a similar family of four, eating at exactly the same level, would be paying $611 a month for its food, or $100 more, while still receiving that same $321.

In other words, if the 2011 budget and its projections proceed as planned, a great many Americans will be hungrier and still jobless in a harsher, meaner world, while what budgetary savings are achieved on the backs of the poorest Americans will be gobbled up by wars, weapons, and other “security” needs.  Ordinary Americans will largely be left in a sink or swim world and the waters will be very, very cold.

Tell the radio operator.  It’s none too soon.  Start sending out the signals.  SOS… SOS… SOS…


Jo Comerford is the executive director of the National Priorities Project. Previously, she served as director of programs at the Food Bank of Western Massachusetts and directed the American Friends Service Committee's justice and peace-related community organizing efforts in western Massachusetts.

© 2010 All rights reserved.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #104 on: March 07, 2010, 09:54:25 am »
Unnatural Acts: Breaking the Fever of Militarism

BY Chris Floyd

March 5, 2010

All who draw the sword will die by the sword. -- Yeshua Ha-Notsri, Palestinian dissident, c. 33 CE.

As we all know – or rather, as everyone but those who climb and claw their way to the top of power's greasy pole knows – the effects of war are vast, unforeseeable, long-lasting -- and uncontrollable. The far-reaching ripples of the turbulence will churn against distant shores and hidden corners, then roil back upon you in ways you could never imagine, for generations, even centuries.

Nor is "victory" in war proof against these deleterious effects. For the brutalization, moral coarsening, corruption and concentration of elite power that attend every war do not simply disappear from a society when the fighting stops. They persist, like microbes, in myriad forms, working with slow, corrosive force to degrade and deform the victors. Indeed, victory in battle often leads a society to enshrine war's most pernicious attributes: violence is ennobled, and becomes entrenched as an ever-ready instrument of national policy. Militarism is exalted, the way of peace dishonored: cries of "Appeasers! Cowards! Traitors!" greet every approach that fails to brandish the threat of extreme violence, that fails to "keep all options on the table."

The apparent "lesson" of victory – that there can be no right without armed might to win and safeguard it – quickly degenerates into the belief  that armed might is right. (William Astore has an excellent article here on how the collision with Nazi Germany infected America's military with a continuing admiration for the German war machine.) Military power becomes equated with moral worth, and the ability to wreak savage, unimaginable destruction through armed violence -- via thoughtless obedience to the orders of "superiors" – becomes a cherished attribute of society.

War is no longer seen as a vast, horrific failure of the human spirit, a scandalous betrayal of our common humanity, a sickening tragedy of irrevocable loss and inconsolable suffering – although this is its inescapable reality, even in a "good" war, for a "just" cause. (And of course no nation or faction has ever gone to war without declaring that its cause is just.) Instead of lamenting war, and girding for it, if at all, only in the most dire circumstances, with the most extreme reluctance, the infected society celebrates it at every turn. No national occasion – even a sporting event! – is complete without bristling displays of military firepower, and pious tributes to those wreaking violence around the world in blind obedience to their superiors.

Oddly enough, when a modern nation consciously adopts a "warrior ethos," it casts aside -- openly, even gleefully -- whatever virtue that ethos has historically claimed for itself, such as courage in battle and honor toward adversaries. In its place come the adulation of overwhelming technological firepower and the rabid demonization of the enemy (or the perceived enemy, or even the "suspected" enemy), who is stripped of all rights, all human dignity, and subject to "whatever it takes" to break him down or destroy him.

Thus our American militarists exult in the advanced hardware that allows "soldiers" to slaughter people from thousands of miles away, with missiles, bombs and bullets fired from lurking, unreachable drones high in the sky. (A recent study shows that even by the most conservative reckoning of who is or isn't a "militant," at least one third of the hundreds killed in the Bush-Obama drone campaigns in Pakistan are clearly civilians.) The drone "warriors" -- often living in complete safety and comfort -- see nothing but a bloodless image on a screen; they face no physical threat at all. This is assassination, not combat; it reeks of cowardice, and dehumanizes everyone it touches, the victims and the button-pushers alike. Yet our militarists -- most of whom, of course, have somehow never found the time to fight the wars they cheer for -- wax orgasmic about this craven weaponry. In the transvaluation of values that militarism produces, cowardice becomes a martial virtue.

Barack Obama, the Nobel Peace Laureate, pushes forward with plans for the "Prompt Global Strike" system of "conventional" super-missiles that can rain down massive death -- unstoppable, undeterrable, without warning -- anywhere on the planet within an hour. All this, while expanding shorter-range missile "defense" systems that bristle with blatantly offensive potential, and intent, all over the world. Plus spending billions to "modernize" the nuclear arsenal, ensuring that it stays effective enough to murder the entire earth, while weeding out some "redundant" warheads as a PR gesture.

Meanwhile, the drone programs -- emblazoned with names that proudly proclaim their savage nature: "Predators" and "Reapers," launching "Hellfire" missiles into sleeping villages -- keep expanding relentlessly. As noted by Nick Turse -- who is doing invaluable work detailing the deadly nuts and bolts of the militarist empire and its profiteers -- the Pentagon is drooling over visions of vast robotic forces filling the heavens and roaming the earth, even down to the smallest crevice. He rightly notes the main purpose of this massively funded R&D: to make war "easier," less deadly to "our side," and thus more palatable to the public:

This means bigger, badder, faster drones – armed to the teeth – with sensor systems to monitor wide swathes of territory and the ability to loiter overhead for days on end waiting for human targets to appear and, in due course, be vaporized by high-powered munitions. It’s a future built upon advanced technologies designed to make targeted killings – remote-controlled assassinations – ever more effortless.

... For the Air Force, such a prospect is the stuff of dreams, a bright future for unmanned, hypersonic lethality; for the rest of the planet, it’s a potential nightmare from which there may be no waking.

But while Turse outlines this potential nightmare in grim detail (the whole piece should be read in full), we are of course beset by present nightmares in horrific plenty. And few are more chilling than the ruling establishment's astonishingly swift acceptance of outright torture as an open tool of national policy. This acceptance not only includes the increasingly frenzied praise and championing of torture by the circle of war criminals and accomplices led by Dick Cheney; in slightly more restrained tones, it goes right across the board among the political and media elite. Torture is now nothing more than a topic for "debate" -- debates which center largely on the relative "effectiveness" of various torture techniques, or else on mindless (not to mention heartless) hairsplitting over the meaning of the word "torture."

There is of course a myth that Barack Obama has "ended" the practice of torture. This is not even remotely true. For one thing, as we have often noted here, the Army Field Manual that Obama has adopted as his interrogation standard permits many practices that any rational person would consider torture. For another, we have no way of verifying what techniques are actually being used by the government's innumerable "security" and intelligence agencies, by the covert units of the military -- and by other entities whose very existence is still unknown. These agencies are almost entirely self-policed; they investigate themselves, they report on themselves to the toothless Congressional "oversight" committees; we simply have to take these organizations -- whose entire raison d'etre is deceit, deception, lawlessness and subterfuge -- at their word. And of course, we have no way of knowing what is being done in the torture chambers of foreign lands where the United States often "outsources" its captives.

Finally, even if the comforting bedtime story of Obama's ban of torture techniques in interrogation were true, there remains his ardent championing of the right to seize anyone on earth -- without a warrant, without producing any evidence whatsoever of wrongdoing -- and hold them indefinitely, often for years on end, in a legal limbo, with no inherent rights whatsoever, beyond whatever narrowly constricted, ever-changing, legally baseless and often farcical "hearings" and tribunals the captors deign to allow them. Incarceration under these conditions is itself an horrendous act of torture, no matter what else might happen to the captive. Yet Obama has actively, avidly applied this torture, and has gone to court numerous times to defend this torture, and to expand the use of this torture.

Many thousands of innocent people have already been forced through the meat grinder of this torture -- at one point early in the Iraq War, the Red Cross estimated that 70-90 percent of the more than 20,000 Iraqis being held by the Americans as "suspected terrorists" were not guilty of any crime whatsoever, much less 'terrorism'. And that is just a single snapshot, at a single point in time, of the vast gulag that America has wrapped around the earth -- a gulag where many have been murdered outright, not just tortured or unjustly imprisoned. And it is still going on, with scarcely a demur across the bipartisan establishment. The heinous and dishonorable practice of torture, physical and psychological, is now an intrinsic, openly established element of American society.

Murder, cowardice, torture, dishonor: these are fruits -- and the distinguishing characteristics -- of the militarized society. What Americans once would not do even to Nazis with the blood of millions on their hands, they now do routinely to weak and wretched captives seized on little or no evidence of wrongdoing at all. We are deep in the darkness, and hurtling deeper, headlong, all the time.

Let's not kid ourselves, however. The militarism that has now gained such a strangulating ascendancy over American life did not drop down suddenly from the sky (or arrive on the hijacked bus that Bush and Cheney drove to the White House). Although this militarism has now reached unprecedented levels of institutional and political dominance, there has always been a strong warlike strain running through American history -- indeed, through its pre-history as well, as Fred Anderson and Andrew Cayton demonstrate in their book, Dominion of War, detailing the decisive influence of war and imperialism on America's development over the past 500 years.

Nor is it a peculiarly American problem. As Caroline Alexander notes in her remarkable new work, The War That Killed Achilles:

If we took any period of a hundred years in the last five thousand, it has been calculated, we could expect, on average, 94 of those years to be occupied with large-scale conflicts in one or more parts of the world. This enduring, seemingly ineradicable fact of war is ... as intrinsic and tragic a component of the human condition as our very mortality.

We human beings have been shaped by millions of years of genetic breakage and mutation, all of which is still on-going. We are compounds of chaos, ignorance and error. Our psyches are frail and variegated things, isolated, with each individual consciousness formed from a unique and ever-shifting coalescence of billions of brain cells firing (and misfiring) in infinite, unrepeatable combinations. Beneath this electrical superstructure lie mechanical rhythms and erratic surges of instinct and impulse, dark, hormonal tides and drives that never reach the plane of awareness.

In the infancy of our species we began to cling -- fiercely, in fear and desire -- to patterns of behavior, emotion and thought that seemed to bring some sort of order, some containment of the whirlwind within us, and some protection from the dangers, known and unknown, that lurked outside. We began to do "whatever it takes" to preserve these patterns from the ever-present threat of their dissolution in the whirlwind, to impose them, by violence if necessary, on the recalcitrant material of reality -- including the always-unknowable, impenetrable reality of the Other, those mysterious combinations outside our isolated consciousness.

The patterns become ingrained, they sink into the substrate where they operate unquestioned and unseen, they become "natural," the way that things must be. Domination and obedience are among the strongest, and most enduring, of these patterns, taking multitudinous forms -- a "local habitation and a name" -- in the ever-changing circumstances of existence. War is their expression writ large. It is in us, it comes from us.

But to acknowledge war's intrinsic, universal character does not absolve us of the need to resist it. To say, "Oh, that's just human nature; it's always been this way and always will be this way," is not only a lazy, timorous acquiescence to base instinct, it also posits a settled, even eternal quality to human nature and human consciousness that simply does not and cannot exist. To go against war, to step outside the ingrained behavioral patterns of domination and obedience is indeed an "unnatural" act -- and it feels unnatural, it feels strange, and raw, and frightening. But the deeper fear -- of psychic and physical dissolution -- that lies at the foundation of these ever-more destructive patterns can only be faced down, changed, and wrenched into some more benevolent pattern by embracing the risk and discomfort of stepping forth, of stepping beyond -- literally, "transgressing" -- the boundaries of a wholly imaginary (or even hallucinatory) "human nature."

The whirlwind that characterizes the imperfect, breaking, misfiring, evolving reality of human consciousness is not only a producer of (very understandable) deep-seated fears; it is also a force for liberation. Because our nature is not ultimately fixed, we can, literally and figuratively, burn new connections in our brains, we can enlarge our consciousness and extend our empathetic understanding of those strange Others. And we have been doing this, in fits and starts, in lurches and staggers, with much backsliding and many wrong turns -- indeed, in ignorance and error -- for as long as we have been creatures cursed and gifted with self-awareness. We do have the capacity, the space, to resist the patterns of domination and obedience, to seek out new ways of seeing the world, of being in the world, of communing with others.

This seems, to me, a worthwhile thing to be getting on with during our painfully brief time on the earth, during our infinitesimal window of opportunity to make some small contribution toward pushing the project of being human -- or rather, becoming human -- down the road, at least a few more steps, in the direction of a better understanding, a broader consciousness, a greater enlightenment.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #105 on: March 11, 2010, 05:41:04 am »
Why are We Spending More Than on the Cold War?

The Pentagon's Runaway Budget


March 10, 2010

With his decision to boost defense spending, President Obama is continuing the process of re-inflating the Pentagon that began in late 1998 — fully three years before the 9/11 attacks on America. The FY 2011 budget marks a milestone, however: The inflation-adjusted rise in spending since 1998 will probably exceed 100 percent in real terms by the end of the fiscal year. Taking the new budget into account, the Defense Department has been granted about $7.2 trillion since 1998, when the post-Cold War decline in defense spending ended.

The rise in spending since 1998 is unprecedented over a 48-year period. In real percentage terms, it's as large as the Kennedy-Johnson surge (43 percent) and the Reagan increases (57 percent) combined. Whether one looks at the entire Pentagon budget or just that part not related to the wars, current spending is above the peak years of the Vietnam War era and the Reagan years. And it's set to remain there. Looking forward, the Obama administration plans to spend more on the Pentagon over the next eight years than any administration since World War II.

Why should the Pentagon budget rise so much, so fast? Why should it be exempted from the recently announced discretionary spending freeze? And why should it be stabilizing at levels above the highest years of the Cold War?

The most ready explanation is that the War on Terrorism, and especially military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, are the cause. But these activities presently claim less than 20 percent of the Pentagon's budget. For the period 1998-2011, overseas contingency operations have consumed less than 17 percent of all funding. Take today's wars out of the picture entirely and the rise since 1998 is still 54 percent in real terms.

Why More Than the Cold War?

Our recent study of the post-1998 defense spending surge, An Undisciplined Defense, set out to identify the factors driving Pentagon costs upward. Much of the post-1998 surge can be attributed to a mix of policy choices and policy failures. And this belies the notion that today's high level of spending simply reflects hard and fast security "requirements." In short: If America's leaders can find the will, then there is a way to substantial savings.

Four features of post-Cold War U.S. security policy have been especially important in driving putative "requirements" upward — and all admit alternative action:

Beginning in the 1990s, successive U.S. administrations have adopted goals and missions for the armed forces that are vaguer and more ambitious than those of the Cold War period.

Military modernization efforts have suffered from especially weak prioritization and poor integration. They have been distinctly undisciplined, leading to higher research, development, and equipment procurement costs.

Planned efforts at defense reform have been insufficient and weakly prosecuted. Thus, the savings they achieved fell far short of what was needed and possible.

The United States has undertaken and persevered in protracted wars of a type for which the U.S. military was ill-suited and improperly equipped.

Goal Inflation and Discordant Modernization

Following the collapse of Soviet power, America's leaders set more ambitious goals for the U.S. military, despite its smaller size. This entailed requiring the armed services to sustain and extend their continuous global presence, improving their readiness and speed, increasing peacetime engagement activities, and preparing to conduct more types of missions quickly and in more areas. Recent U.S. strategy has looked beyond the traditional goals of defense and deterrence, seeking to use military power to actually prevent the emergence of threats and to "shape" the international environment. U.S. defense planners also elevated the importance of lesser and hypothetical threats, thus requiring the military to prepare for many more lower-probability contingencies.

These ambitions have led to the rise in Pentagon operations and maintenance (O&M) expenditures, as well as a larger-than-necessary force structure and greater equipment requirements.

One ongoing goal of the Pentagon has been to modernize forces. This ambitious modernization between 1990 and today has reflected three different imperatives or directions, and these have been poorly integrated:

Big-ticket "legacy" programs conceived during the Cold War and enjoying considerable institutional momentum;

New programs, like Predator drones, reflecting the potential of information and other emerging technologies; and

"Adaptive" programs like mine-resistant armored vehicles, which correspond to new mission requirements, such as counterinsurgency.

The Pentagon has failed to adequately integrate these trends or prioritize among them. Instead, they have all gone forward in parallel, competing for funds. This situation puts unrelenting upward pressure on the budget. Legacy programs, which tend to be backward-looking, have predominated. Thus, despite the Pentagon's spending $2.5 trillion on modernization between 1989 and 2003, there was a lack of preparedness for counterinsurgency and counterterrorism tasks after 2001. Notably, the decisions to pacify Iraq and Afghanistan by military means entailed a new wave of equipment purchases.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates has promised to impose stricter priorities on defense acquisition. But this isn't the first time an administration announced a "get tough" policy in this area. For instance, former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld also vowed to tackle the dysfunctional acquisition process, lopping off the Army's Crusader artillery system and Comanche helicopter program along the way. This latest reform cycle will not likely accomplish more than swapping out a few disfavored systems for a few favored ones. No actual savings will leave the Pentagon orbit.

Shortfalls in Defense Reform

Reforming the post-Cold War military was supposed to enable it to "do more for less." Preserving the "peace dividend" — a reduction in the military budget and the application of the savings to other pressing needs — depended on it. Structural reform also was necessary because the military suffered a decrease in efficiency when it got smaller. This was due to some loss in economies of scale in support and acquisition activities.

Options for reform were plentiful. These included reducing service redundancies, streamlining command structures, and consolidating a range of support and training functions. Other worthwhile targets of reform were the Pentagon's acquisition, logistics, and financial management systems.

But reform efforts fell short of their promise, due to institutional resistance and bureaucratic inertia. Only two initiatives — competitive sourcing and military base closures — were pursued vigorously enough to yield significant annual savings. And these savings have amounted to less than 4 percent of the current defense budget — clearly not enough to save the "peace dividend."

The difficulty of defense reform goes to the heart of governance problems in the defense area. There is an imbalance between effective civilian and military authority, between "joint" and individual service authority, and between public and special interests. In some respects, the system is a feudalistic one. Its functioning normally depends on largesse and a fair amount of deference to "subordinate" offices. Civilian authorities might challenge and alter this configuration, but that would entail considerable political risk.

Increased Labor Costs

Why have today's wars been so inordinately expensive in relative terms? Measured in 2010 dollars, the Korean War cost $393,000 per year for every person deployed. And the Vietnam conflict cost $256,000. By contrast, the Iraq and Afghanistan commitments have cost $792,000 per year per person.

This is due partly to America's reliance on high-cost "volunteer" (professional) military labor, which began after the Vietnam War. This type of military is susceptible to steep increases in personnel costs if it gets bogged down in large-scale, protracted, labor-intensive wars of occupation and counterinsurgency. Combat pay, retention bonuses, and recruitment costs soar.

Overall, military personnel costs rose 50 percent in real terms between 2001 and 2010, although the military labor pool grew by less than 2 percent. This dramatic increase in labor costs calls into question any potential large-scale counterinsurgency operations, which require more, not fewer boots on the ground — unless, of course, cost is no object.

Because of the costs involved, the Pentagon has been reluctant to permanently increase the number of full-time military personnel, despite high levels of activity even before the current wars. Thus, increases in ground troops have been largely counterbalanced by reductions in Navy and Air Force personnel. Instead, the Pentagon has turned increasingly to private contractors, whose employees have assumed many of the support functions previously performed by Pentagon personnel. Since 1989, the pool of Pentagon military and civilian employees has shrunk by more than 30 percent, while the number of contract workers has probably grown by 40 percent. As a result, the total Pentagon workforce may have been re-inflated to its Cold War size, but with contract labor playing a much bigger role.

Contract labor is generally cheaper than Pentagon in-house labor, military or civilian. However, a problem routinely noted by the Government Accountability Office is that Pentagon's financial management of contracts is weak. At any rate, whatever savings have been realized by replacing in-house labor with contract labor has been overshadowed by the overall increase in the Pentagon's total workforce.

The re-inflation of the workforce partly registers in the budget as an unusually steep increase in operations and maintenance spending, because this account covers much of contract labor. Calculated in inflation-adjusted per person terms, operations and maintenance expenditures are 2.5 times higher today than in 1989. In absolute terms (also corrected for inflation), O&M spending has risen 75 percent since the Reagan years.

The Primacy of U.S. Military Spending

The factors outlined above have converged to give America a historically unique predominance in military spending. The United States today is responsible for nearly half of all military expenditure worldwide. In 1986, it claimed only 28 percent.

Especially notable is the changed balance between U.S. spending and the total amount spent by potential adversary states. The United States has gone from spending one-third less than its adversaries in 1986 to spending 150 percent more than potential adversary states in 1986. Had Ronald Reagan sought to achieve the ratio between U.S. and adversary spending that existed in 2006, he would have had to nearly quadruple his defense budgets. And, of course, the 2006 Pentagon's budget hasn't receded but instead grown by another 20 percent in real terms.

These calculations suggest that the United States' recent levels of defense expenditure are largely detached from other nation's efforts to build military power. And the wars explain only a small part of the difference. Instead, the divergence points to a change in what the US defense establishment hopes to accomplish by means of military power, how fast, and how far afield.

Can We Roll Back Pentagon Spending?

America's singular investment in the means of war hasn't purchased clear and sure progress toward a more secure and stable world. Nor has it purchased an efficient military closely adapted to the current security environment. That the nation should persist down this road for more than a decade suggests a lapse in attention to the strategic costs and benefits associated with its chosen defense posture. It's as though the nation had trillions to burn.

The road not taken during the past 15 years would have involved a more forceful and thorough-going approach to defense reform. A more sensible Pentagon strategy would take a more disciplined approach to equipment acquisition that better integrated the various trends and service plans, and tailored them more closely to new conditions. And the United States as a whole would have demonstrated greater restraint and greater specificity in defining post-Cold War military goals and missions.

A permissive spending environment has been a necessary precondition for Pentagon bloat, which several political realities have helped generate and sustain. First, and obviously, the September 2001 attacks overrode any tendencies to suggest economizing on defense. Curiously, though, Gallup polls show that public support for increased defense spending was higher in the two years prior to the attacks than in the two years after. Support has receded significantly since then, but this hasn't spurred a serious re-evaluation of the budget.

At present, both Democratic and Republican leaders are disinclined — each for their own reasons — to press for Pentagon budget reform and restraint. There is little political gain in it, and much political risk. In this calculation, the balance of raw public opinion is less important than the capacity of the contending parties to excite and mobilize it.

Emerging fiscal realities may soon focus more critical attention on how the nation allocates its resources among competing goals, military and non-military. And the recent freeze on most discretionary spending suggests the contours of the coming battle: It will be the Pentagon versus everything else. In this light, our most important finding is that much of the surge in Pentagon spending since 1998 has been a matter of choice and will, not a matter of national security "requirements." This puts the ball back in the political court, where it belongs. If there is to be progress in rebalancing our budget, it will depend on pressuring the administration and Congress to deliver real change that matters.

Carl Conetta is co-director of the Project on Defense Alternatives at the Commonwealth Institute and a contributor to Foreign Policy In Focus, where this article originally appeared.

This article is an updated summary of An Undisciplined Defense: Understanding the $2 Trillion Surge in US Defense Spending. The report, with complete citations, is available at the project's website.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #106 on: March 15, 2010, 06:24:10 am »
The Rogue Nation

by Philip Giraldi

March 12, 2010

In spite of the fact that the United States faces no enemy anywhere in the world capable of opposing it on a battlefield, the Defense budget for 2011 will go up 7.1 percent from current levels. A lot of the new spending will be on drones, America’s latest contribution to western civilization, capable of surveilling large areas on the ground and delivering death from the skies. It is a peculiarly American vision of warfare, with a "pilot" sitting at a desk half a world away and pressing a button that can kill a target far below. Hygienic and mechanical, it is a bit like a video game with no messy cleanup afterwards. The recently released United States Quadrennial Defense Review reports how the Pentagon will be developing a new generation of super drones that can stay airborne for long periods of time and can strike anywhere in the world and at any time to kill America’s enemies. The super drones will include some that can fly at supersonic speeds and others that will be large enough to carry nuclear weapons. Some of the new drones will be designed for the navy, able to take off from aircraft carriers and project US power to even more distant hot spots. Drones are particularly esteemed by policymakers because as they are unmanned and can fly low to the ground they can violate someone’s airspace "accidentally" without necessarily resulting in a diplomatic incident.

Washington’s embrace of drones as the weapon of choice for international assassination is one major reason why the United States has become the evil empire. Drones are the extended fist of what used to be referred to as the Bush Doctrine. Under the Bush Doctrine Washington asserted that it had a right to use its military force preemptively against anyone in the world at any time if the White House were to determine that such action might be construed as defending the United States. Vice President Dick Cheney defined the policy in percentage terms, asserting that if there was a 1% chance that any development anywhere in the world could endanger Americans, the United States government was obligated to act. It should be noted that President Barack Obama has not repudiated either the Bush doctrine or the 1% solution of Dick Cheney and has actually gone so far as to assert that America is fighting Christianity-approved "just wars," a position disputed by Pope Benedict XVI among others. Far from eschewing war and killing, the number and intensity of drone attacks has increased under Obama, as has the number of civilian casualties, referred to by the splendid bloodless euphemism "collateral damage."

Drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, and Somalia. It should be noted that the United States is not at war with any of those countries, which should mean in a sane world that the killing is illegal under both international law and the US Constitution. America’s Founding Fathers used constitutional restraints to make it difficult for Americans to go to war, requiring an act of war by Congress. Unfortunately it has not worked out that way. The US has been involved in almost constant warfare since the Second World War but the most recent actual declaration of war was on December 8, 1941. And then there are the special and clandestine operations that span the globe. Apart from Israel, no other country in the world has an openly declared policy of going around and killing people. One would think that the international community would consequently regard both Tel Aviv and Washington as pariahs, but fear of offending the world’s only super power and its principal client state has aborted most criticism. Most nations are resigned to letting assassination teams and hellfire armed drones operate as they please. If Iran were operating the drones and bumping off its enemies in places like Dubai you can be sure the reaction would be quite different.

And it doesn’t stop there. Obama’s Attorney General Eric Holder has effectively blocked any inquiry into the use of torture by US government officials, mostly from the CIA. The Administration claims to have stopped the practice but has declared that no one will be punished for obeying orders to waterboard prisoners, an argument that was not acceptable at the Nuremberg trials in 1946 and should not be acceptable now. The United States is a signatory to the international agreement on torture and there are also both federal and state laws that prohibit either carrying out or enabling the practice, so the ruling by Holder is essentially a decision to ignore serious crimes that were committed against individuals who, in many cases, were both helpless and completely innocent. It also ignores the participation of Justice Department lawyers and CIA doctors in the process, involvement that most would consider both immoral and unethical. Worst of all, it lets off the hook the real war criminals, people like George Tenet and those in the White House who approved the practice. Tenet, one recalls, received the Presidential Medal of Freedom and a $4 million book deal. He still teaches at Georgetown University. Justice Department lawyers John Yoo and Jay Bybee, who made the legal arguments for torture are now respectively a tenured professor at Berkeley and a federal appeals court justice. One assumes that the actual CIA torturers continue to be employed by the federal government or are enjoying a comfortable retirement. So much for accountability for war crimes under President Obama.

Finally there is assassination. On February 3rd Director of National Intelligence Dennis Blair commented during a congressional briefing that the United States reserves the right to kill American citizens overseas who are actively "involved" with groups regarded as terrorist. Involvement is, of course, a very slippery expression providing maximum latitude for those seeking to make a case for summary execution. The death list involves a due process of sorts in that a government official makes the decision who shall be on it based on guidelines but it does not allow the accused to challenge or dispute evidence. It should also be noted that no one in Congress objected to the Blair statement and the media hardly reported the story, suggesting that tolerance of illegal and immoral activity now pervades the system. As former Reagan Deputy Attorney General Bruce Fein has commented, the claimed authority to suspend one’s constitutional rights overseas can be extended to anyone in the United States by declaring one an enemy combatant under the terms of the Military Commissions Act. Jose Padilla was denied his constitutional rights to a fair trial even though he was an American citizen and was arrested in Chicago, not overseas. Can we anticipate extrajudicial killing of American citizens in America as part of the war on terror? Of course we can.

Three strikes and you’re out, Mr. Obama. Your government stands for preemptive killing and missile strikes on people living in countries with which America is not at war, lets torturers and torture enablers go free, and has asserted the right to assassinate its own citizens anywhere in the world based on secret evidence. Ronald Reagan once described his vision of America as a shining city on a hill. Over the past ten years the shining city has become the ultimate rogue nation, pumped up with power and hubris in spite of the clearly visible signs of decline and moving inexorably towards a catastrophic fall.


Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #107 on: March 17, 2010, 06:38:01 am »
South Asia
Mar 18, 2010

Checkered record of the world's policeman

By Jeremy Kuzmarov

"In the police you see the dirty work of Empire at close quarters. The wretched prisoners huddling in stinking cages of the lock-ups, the grey cowed faces of the long-term convicts, the scarred buttocks of the men who had been flogged with bamboos."
- George Orwell, Shooting An Elephant and Other Essays.

"The police interrogation rooms smelled of urine and injustice."
- Graham Greene, The Quiet American.

As the United States expands the war in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the Barack Obama administration has placed a premium on police training programs. The stated aim is to provide security to the population so as to enable local forces to gradually take over from the military in completing the pacification process.

A similar strategy has been pursued in Iraq. American-backed forces have been implicated in sectarian violence, death squad activity and torture. At the same time, the weaponry and equipment that the US provided has frequently found its way into the hands of insurgents, many of whom have infiltrated the state security apparatus, contributing to the long-drawn out nature of both conflicts.

Ignored in mainstream media commentary and "think tank" analyses is the fact that the destructive consequences of American strategy in the Middle East and Central Asia today are consistent with practices honed over more than a century in the poor nations of the periphery.

Police training has been central to American attempts to expand its reach from the conquest of the Philippines at the dawn of the 20th century through the Cold War-era to today. Presented to the public in both the target country and the United States as humanitarian initiatives designed to strengthen democratic development and public security, these programs achieved neither, but were critical to securing the power base of local elites amenable to US economic and political interests and contributed to massive human-rights violations. They helped to facilitate the rise of powerful anti-democratic forces, which operated above the law, contributing to endemic violence, state terrorism and corruption.

Quite consistently across time and space, American policy-makers have supported police suppression of radical and nationalist movements as a cost-effective and covert means precluding costly military intervention which was more likely to arouse public opposition.

During the mid 1960s, the Director of United States Agency of International Development (USAID) David Bell commented in congressional testimony that "the police are a most sensitive point of contact between the government and people, close to the focal points of unrest, and more acceptable than the army as keepers of order over long periods of time. The police are frequently better trained and equipped than the military to deal with minor forms of violence, conspiracy and subversion."

Robert W Komer who served as a National Security Council advisor to President John F Kennedy further stressed that the police were "more valuable than Special Forces in our global counter-insurgency efforts" and particularly useful in fighting urban insurrections.

"We get more from the police in terms of preventative medicine than from any single US program," he said. "They are cost effective, while not going for fancy military hardware. They provide the first line of defense against demonstrations, riots and local insurrections. Only when the situation gets out of hand (as in South Vietnam) does the military have to be called in."

These remarks illuminate the underlying geo-strategic imperatives shaping the growth of the programs and the mobilization of police for political and military ends, which accounted for widespread human rights abuses.

This article, drawing on declassified US government archives, examines some of the landmark instances in the historical development of American police training programs to highlight the origins of current policies in the killing fields of Afghanistan and Iraq.

Over the years, as US imperial attention has shifted from one region to another, police training and financing has remained an unobserved constant, evolving with new strategies and weapons innovations but always retaining the same strategic goals and tactical elements. Staffed by military and police officers who valued order and discipline over the protection of civil liberties, the programs were designed to empower pro-US regimes committed to free-market capitalist development and helped to create elaborate intelligence networks, which facilitated the suppression of dissident groups in a more surgical way.

The US in effect helped to modernize intelligence gathering and political policing operations in its far-flung empire, thus magnifying their impact. These further helped to militarize the police and fostered, through rigorous ideological conditioning, the dehumanization of political adversaries. The result was a reign of torture and terror as part of police practice in countries subject to US influence, the devolution of police forces into brutal oppressors of the indigenous population, and the growth of corruption levels pushing regimes towards kleptocracy.

In his trilogy on the American empire, Chalmers Johnson demonstrates how the US has historically projected its global power through a variety of means, including economic blackmail and the manipulation of financial institutions, covert operations, arms sales, and most importantly, through the development of a global network of military bases whose scale dwarfs all previous empires, including Rome. This article seeks to add another important structural dimension of US power, namely the training of police and paramilitary units under the guise of humanitarian assistance, which preceded and continued through the era of global military bases.

Colonial policing and state terror in the Philippines
In 1898, seeking access to the vast "China market" and building the foundation of its seizure of Hawaii, the US entered the great "imperial game" through its colonization of the Philippines. From 1899-1902, the military waged a relentless campaign to suppress the nationalist movement for independence, resulting in the death of perhaps two million Filipinos and the destruction of the societal fabric.

As the fighting waned, the Philippines Commission under future president William H. Taft focused on building an indigenous police force, officered by Americans, which was capable of finishing off the insurgents and establishing order. The constabulary engaged in patrols for over a decade to suppress nationalist and messianic peasant revolts in the countryside. It frequently employed scorched earth tactics and presided over numerous massacres, including killing hundreds of civilians at Bud Dajo in the Moro province of Mindanao, where Muslims refused to acquiesce to American power and rule.

As Alfred W McCoy documents in his outstanding new book, Policing America's Empire: The United States, the Philippines and the Rise of the Surveillance State, the constabulary's success in serving US imperial interests owed largely to the role of military intelligence officers in imparting pioneering methods of data management and covert techniques of surveillance, which were appropriated by domestic policing agencies, including the Federal Bureau of Investigations (FBI), during the 1st Red Scare.

Under the command of Harry H Bandholtz, the constabulary's secret service became especially effective in adopting psychological warfare techniques, such as the wearing of disguises, fabricating disinformation and recruiting paid informants and saboteurs in their efforts to "break up bands of political plotters". They monitored the press, carried out periodic assassinations and compiled dossiers on thousands of individuals as well as information on the corruption of America's Filipino proxies as means to keep them tied to the occupation.

One of the major technical achievements was an alarm system, which ended dependence on the public telephone. American advisors further imparted new administrative and fingerprinting techniques, which allowed for an expansion of the police's social control capabilities. The declaration of martial law ensured minimal governmental oversight and facilitated surveillance and arrests without due process. Torture, including the notorious water cure, was widely employed.

After the suspension of the writ of habeas corpus in Cavite and Batangas due to heavy guerrilla activity, William Cameron Forbes, a grandson of philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson who served as commissioner of commerce and police from 1904 to 1908 and governor general from 1909-1913, noted in his journal that "the constabulary was now free to run in the suspects. A lot of innocent people will be put in jail for a while, but it will also mean that some guilty ones will be caught and the cancer will be cut". These comments exemplify the ends justifies the means philosophy underpinning the abuse of human rights, which was characteristic of later interventions as well.

Racism was another prominent factor. Henry T Allen, the first chief of the constabulary, characteristically referred to Filipinos resisting the US as suffering from "intense ignorance" and the "fanatical" characteristics of "semi-savagery". He added, in a letter to Taft, that "education and roads will effect what is desired, but while awaiting these, drastic measures are obligatory ... The only remedy is killing and for the same reason that a rabid dog must be disposed of."

In his memoir, Bullets and Bolos, constabulary officer John R White, who went on to serve with the US military in World War I, recounts how his men razed houses, "plundered all that they could carry away" and destroyed sugar and other foodstuffs in the attempt to isolate and starve the Moro enemy in Mindanao. In the end, they left the pretty plateau a "burned and scarred sore". This was hard, he wrote, "but necessary for we did not want the job of taking Mindanao again". The tactics pioneered in the Philippines paved the way for later American action under the Strategic Hamlet program in South Vietnam.

The constabulary ultimately succeeded in infiltrating and sowing dissension within radical organizations, including an incipient labor movement, contributing to their implosion. It even played a role in apostolic succession by undermining the influence of Bishop Gregorio Aglipay through the spread of disinformation. Aglipay was a nationalist with socialist sympathies whose services were attended by thousands of the urban poor.

The legacy of political repression and corruption survived long after the Philippines was granted independence in the mid 1930s. The constabulary and police have maintained their notoriety for brutality, right up to the present, as new waves of repression and violence are being launched under the guise of the "war on terror."

'Popping off Cacos': The US Gendarmerie and racial slaughter in Haiti
American policies in the Philippines were replicated in the Caribbean during the colonial occupations of the 1910s and 1920s, where they contributed to the spread of considerable violence and repression. In Haiti, the US Gendarmerie was the brainchild of Franklin D Roosevelt, who, influenced by his cousin, Teddy, viewed the creation of a local police force as a cost-effective means of advancing US reach. The gendarmerie was mobilized primarily to fight against nationalist rebels, known as the Cacos, and to oversee brutal forced labor regiments imposed by the United States.

As in the Philippines, the United States provided modern police technologies, including communications equipment and fingerprinting techniques, and worked to improve administration and records collection to aid in the monitoring of dissident activity. In a prelude to the Cold War, riot control training was also provided to facilitate the crack down on urban demonstrations and strikes. American officers taunted people using racial epithets and did not usually object when rioters were badly beaten and clubbed, sometimes to death.

Journalist Samuel G Inman observed that the gendarmerie enjoyed practically "unlimited power" in the districts where they served, creating opportunities for extortion and kickbacks. "He is the judge of practically all civil and criminal cases, the paymaster for all funds from the central government and ex-officio director of the schools inasmuch as he pays the teachers. He controls the mayor and city council since they cannot spend funds without his OK. As collector of taxes, he exercises a strong influence on all individuals in the community." These comments exemplify the consequences of US policy in giving too much power to police units, resulting in systematic abuse.

The gendarmerie was especially valued for obtaining intelligence and adopted, as a precursor to the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA), psychological warfare (psy-war) tactics, including the spread of disinformation, the playing on native superstitions, and use of disguises to induce defections and infiltrate enemy camps.

One of the gendarmerie's chief psy-war experts, Captain Herman H Hanneken blackened his skin, disguised himself as a Caco and bribed a bodyguard to gain access to the camp of leader Charlemagne Peralte, who became known as the "black Christ" after images of his decapitated body strung up on a cross were disseminated for intimidation purposes. Political terrorism would remain a feature of American counter-insurgency strategy through the Vietnam War-era and continuing today in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The violence that was endemic to the American occupation of Haiti was in large part racial. On search and destroy missions, "popping off" Cacos was likened to a sport, much like with the "pulajanes," "ladrones" and "gu-gus" in the Philippines, and later the "gooks" in Vietnam.

Colonel Robert Denig noted in his diary that "life to Haitians is cheap, murder is nothing". Lieutenant Faustin Wirkus added that killing Haitian rebels was like playing "hit the nigger and get a cigar games" at amusement parks back home. After the Caco movement was destroyed and the Marines were withdrawn, the US continued to arm and train the gendarmerie which it recognized as a pivotal instrument of power.

Following a period of military rule in the 1940s, Francois "Papa Doc" Duvalier used the police to suppress political dissent, orchestrating what internal reports referred to as "an active campaign of harassment and terrorism all over the country". This fits in with a broader regional pattern, as the US-created National Guard evolved into the political instrument of dictators Anastasio Somoza in Nicaragua and Rafael Trujillo in the Dominican Republic, both having emerged from police ranks.

The police programs thus contributed not only to the spread of political violence in suppressing anti-occupational resistance, but also paved the way for an era of strong-armed rule and state terrorism after American colonial occupations formally ended.

Police training and political terror in South Vietnam
Building off the techniques pioneered in previous interventions, police training programs were an integral part of American counter-insurgency strategy in Vietnam, where they aided in the creation of an Orwellian-style police state and helped to stoke civil conflict.

Training began in 1955 as a centerpiece of America's "nation-building" campaign on behalf of president Ngo Dinh Diem, who replaced French puppet emperor Bao Dai following the temporary division of the country under the 1954 Geneva Accords. Valued by the US for his anti-communism, Diem had little interest in developing a Western-style democracy and wanted to establish his own political dynasty. The principal US motive was to contain the spread of the Chinese revolutionary movement, which threatened the Open Door policy. The Dwight D Eisenhower administration refused to allow mandated elections to unify the country, which it knew would be won by the revolutionary leader Ho Chi Minh, whom the State Department referred to as the "ablest" and "most charismatic leader" in the country.

The police operation was run by Michigan State University (MSU) faculty under contract with the State Department. Much like in the Philippines and Haiti decades earlier, the United States stressed mass surveillance capable of monitoring subversion and dismantling the political opposition to Diem.

New technologies hastened the scale of violence associated with these efforts, though proved limited in engendering a favorable outcome for the United States. American advisors urged police to develop a more efficient record gathering system and modeled the Surete (civil police force) after the American FBI, arming it with 12-gauge shotguns, sedans, ammunition, and riot-control equipment to counter subversion. There were few pretenses from the beginning that the police were anything but a political instrument, with many top officials, including Surete Director Nguyen Ngoc Le, having been previously trained by France.

The MSU team developed an identity card system to monitor political activity as part of Diem's anti-communist denunciation campaign. Those found with links to the Vietminh, who had led the liberation struggle against France, were arrested and faced torture at an assortment of prison camps, or were "disappeared," as internal reports noted. Even Diem's own chief of staff, Tran Van Don, derided the use of "Gestapo-like police raids and torture" against "those who simply opposed the government".

US support was crucial in shaping South Vietnam's evolution into what Foreign Affairs described as a "quasi-police state marred by arbitrary arrests, censorship of the press and the absence of political opposition". The passage of law 10/59 allowing for the execution of regime opponents resulted in the declaration of armed resistance by the National Liberation Front (NLF), whose leader, Nguyen Huu Tho was rescued from house arrest through infiltration of Diem's police by revolutionary supporters.

Starting in 1961, after taking over from Michigan State, the United States Agency for International Development's Office of Public Safety (OPS) sent advisers to Malaya for counter-guerrilla training. Over the next fourteen years, working with the Public Safety Division of the US Operations Mission to Vietnam (USOM), the OPS provided more than 300 advisers and $300 million towards this goal, bolstering the number of police from 16,000 to 122,000.

They funded eight specialized training schools and built over 500 rural police stations and high-tech urban headquarters equipped with firearm ranges, computer systems and padded interrogation rooms. The OPS also helped to create a telecommunications network linking police headquarters in rural villages to major cities such as Saigon.

As in the Philippines and Haiti, emphasis was placed on building a corps of informants and developing a climate of fear to intimidate those who might challenge the government. To this latter end, psychological warfare teams painted a ghostly eye on the doors of houses suspected of harboring "Vietcong" agents. Penetration by the NLF, however, and a lack of conviction on the part of American trained forces helped to stymie these efforts, to the frustration of many American advisors who could not get around the strength of Vietnamese nationalism and political dynamic underlying the civil war. Language and cultural barriers and an underlying paternalism further strained social relations and made communications difficult, limiting effectiveness.

In May 1963, as opposition to Diem's rule intensified, police killed nine monks, as well as three women and two children at a rally against religious persecution and government violence. In July, according to OPS adviser Ray Lundgren, in spite of the "amazing results" yielded by riot control courses, police again displayed "unnecessary brutality" in suppressing a peaceful Buddhist rally against repeated injustices, beating monks and other civilians.

In November, Diem was overthrown in a coup d'etat and replaced by a revolving door of generals, including ultimately Nguyen Cao Ky and Nguyen Van Thieu, who had served under the French and were implicated in the narcotics trade. The US in turn invaded and launched massive bombing campaigns which decimated the South Vietnamese countryside.

In an attempt to maximize social control in the face of mounting popular resistance, the OPS expanded the surveillance program first initiated by Michigan State, issuing identity cards to everyone over 15 and compiling dossiers on the political beliefs of nearly 12 million people. Once dissidents were identified, the police undertook night sweeps in their villages and "arrested anyone under the remotest suspicion of being left-wing", as one witness put it. "The government has a blacklist of suspects, but I understand that wives, mothers and fathers - anyone with the slimmest association with those on it are being caught in the net."

Many of those taken in were peace activists, students, members of oppositional groups like the Hoa-Hao and Cao Dai sects, and politicians who were seen as threats to the reigning junta. Echoing his predecessors in previous interventions, CIA Station Chief Douglas Blaufarb rationalized the repression on the grounds that "it was futile to have expected in the circumstances a punctilious regard in all cases for the niceties of civil rights". Racism and the perceived inferiority of the Vietnamese "gooks" lay behind wide-scale human-rights violations.

Some of the worst abuses took place within the prison system overseen by the OPS. Conditions were described as "nightmarish", "appalling" and equivalent to "hell on earth", stemming largely from the rampant overcrowding caused by the influx of political prisoners.

Inmates were packed into tiny cells, where they had to sleep standing up or in shifts, and deprived of proper food, bathing facilities and medical attention. At Kien Tung Provincial Prison, just 10 kilometers from the seat of government, William C Benson of the OPS reported that the cells were "extremely dirty and the stench so nauseating" that it made him sick.

In An Xuyen, OPS advisor Donald Bordenkircher, who three decades later was appointed to head the Abu Ghraib prison facility in Iraq, wrote to his superiors that inmates had to sleep next to their own urine and feces and that the kitchen doubled as a trash dump and was inhabited by giant rats which were "as large as cats".

Known as a stern disciplinarian, Bordenkircher embodies the continuity in American policies from Vietnam to Iraq, Afghanistan and the United States itself, where as town sheriff in Moundsville Virginia in 1986, he played a key role in crushing an inmate rebellion arising from wretched prison conditions.

Torture including sensory deprivation, rape, lashings and the use of electroshocks was widely documented in facilities under US oversight in Vietnam.

Frank Walton, head of the OPS in Vietnam and a former Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) chief, sanctioned a report stating that non-cooperative prisoners, whom he referred to as "reds who keep preaching the commie line", were "isolated in their cells for months" and permanently "bolted to the floor or handcuffed to leg-irons", which was standard practice shaped by the war climate.

Not surprisingly, the prisons provided an important base of recruitment for the revolutionary forces, contributing to their ultimate victory in 1975. After a tour of penal facilities in the Mekong Delta, senior American adviser John Paul Vann commented, "I got the distinct impression that any detainees not previously VC [Viet Cong] or VC sympathizers would almost assuredly become so after their period of incarceration."

Police programs in Vietnam culminated in the notorious "Operation Phoenix", whose aim was to eliminate the Viet Cong infrastructure (VCI) through use of sophisticated computer technology and intelligence gathering techniques, and improved coordination between military and civilian police intelligence agencies. In practice, Phoenix spiraled out of control and led to indiscriminate violence.

Internal reports pointed out the widespread corruption of American-trained cadres who used their positions for revenge and extortion, threatening to kill people who refused to pay them huge sums. "VC avenger units," regularly mutilated bodies and killed family members of suspected guerrillas. While the quantity of "neutralizations" was reported to be very high in many districts, there were "flagrant" cases of report padding, most egregiously in the province of Long An where Phoenix advisor Evan Parker Jr noted that "the numbers just don't add up". Dead bodies were being identified as VCI, rightly or wrongly, in order to fulfill quotas.

The catalogue of agents listed as killed included an inordinate number of "nurses", which was a convenient way to account for women killed in raids on suspected VC hideouts. A Phoenix operative who had served in Czechoslovakia during World War II tellingly commented, "The reports that I would send in on the number of communists that were neutralized reminded me of the reports Hitler's concentration camp commanders sent in on how many inmates they had exterminated, each commander lying that he had killed more than the other to please Himmler."

These comments epitomize how the police training programs helped to facilitate state repression and terror under the rubric of internal security and modernization. The attempt at social control through imposition of an Orwellian regime of mass surveillance and torture lay at the root of the wide-scale humanitarian abuses, which fit with a much larger historical pattern.

The violence comes full circle in AfPak and Iraq
The violent history of US imperial intervention is being played out today in Afghanistan and Iraq, where police training programs are central to American-backed political repression and terror. Management of the programs has been especially poor given cultural and language barriers, deeply entrenched hostility towards foreign intervention among the population, and administrative incompetence.

In addition, the problems have been exacerbated by the increasing reliance on private mercenary corporations such as DynCorp and Blackwater (re-named Xe), and on tainted police advisors linked to human-rights violations and malfeasance.

In Afghanistan, after almost nine years and $7 billion spent on training and salaries, an internal report concluded that "nepotism, financial improprieties and unethical recruitment practices were commonplace" among the American-backed forces, which engaged in widespread criminal activity and bribery and were "overmatched in counter-insurgency and counter-narcotics operations".

American police advisors, whose background as small town cops did little to prepare them for policing in a war zone, made six figure salaries, 50 times more than their Afghan counterparts, who resented their presence. According to a recent poll, less than 20% of the population in the eastern and southern provinces trusted the police, who are poorly motivated and whose poor performance has contributed to political instability and the resurgence of the Taliban.

A taxi driver interviewed by RAND Corporation analyst Seth G Jones tellingly commented, "Forget about the Taliban, it is the police we worry about."

Despised and feared, the Afghan national police have been continuously controlled by ethnic warlords paid off by the CIA and are central to what Ambassador Ron Neumann characterized as the pattern of "repression and oppression" gripping the country.

They have routinely engaged in shakedowns at impromptu checkpoints, shot at and killed stone-throwing or unarmed demonstrators, stolen farmers' land, and terrorized the civilian population while undertaking house-to-house raids in military-assisted sweep operations. They have further intimidated voters during fraudulent elections, including the one that brought President Hamid Karzai back to power in 2009. According to village elders in Babaji, police bent on taking revenge against clan rivals carried out the abduction and rape of pre-teen girls and boys.

These kinds of abuses fit with a larger historical pattern, and are a product of the ethnic antagonisms and social polarizations bred by the US intervention, and the mobilization of police for military and political ends.

The open support by the George W Bush administration for torture and other harsh methods strengthened the proclivity towards indiscriminate violence.

The International Red Cross reported massive overcrowding in Afghan prisons, "harsh" conditions, a lack of clarity about the legal basis for detention, and people being held "incommunicado" in isolation cells where they were "subjected to cruel treatment in violation of the Geneva Conventions". An undisclosed number have died in custody, including several thousand who were transported under the oversight of CIA-backed warlord Rashid Dostum in unventilated containers, where they suffocated to death or were shot.

Corruption has been a major problem as police routinely accept kickbacks from black-market activities. Fitting a historical pattern, the State Department and CIA have maintained close ties with top officials who are directly involved in the narcotics trade, causing production to rise to over 8,000 tons per annum. The president's own brother, Ahmed Wali, a CIA "asset" who heads a paramilitary group used for raids on suspected Taliban enclaves has used allegedly used drug proceeds to fund state terror operations, including the intimidation of opponents in the election of 2009.

Karzai's 2007 appointment as anti-corruption chief, Izzatullah Wasifi, meanwhile, spent almost four years in a Nevada prison for trying to sell heroin to an undercover police officer. A CIA officer commented that during the US-NATO occupation, "Virtually every significant Afghan figure has had brushes with the drug trade. If you are looking for Mother Theresa, she doesn't live in Afghanistan."

Cheryl Bernard, a RAND analyst and wife of Zalmay Khalilzad, UN Ambassador of the Bush administration, explained one of the key reasons for the lack of good governance: "To defeat the Soviets we threw the worst crazies against them. Then we allowed them to get rid of, just kill all the moderate leaders. The reason we don't have moderate leaders in Afghanistan today is because we let the nuts kill them all. They killed all the leftists, the moderates, the middle of the roaders. They were just eliminated, during the 1980s and afterwards."

The US continues to tolerate high-levels of corruption out of perceived geopolitical expediency, claiming that it is engrained within the political culture of Afghanistan and other "backward nations" in which it intervenes. In reality, however, it is a product of historical contingencies, the breakdown of social mores caused by the war-climate and the need of elite officials lacking popular legitimacy to obtain money for counter-insurgency operations.

Similar factors were at play in the 1960s when Vietnam and Laos were at the center of the world drug trade, benefiting from American backing of corrupt officials who controlled the traffic, with the CIA overseeing the production and sale of opium by Hmong guerrillas in order to finance the secret war against the Pathet Lao.

History is thus coming full circle in Afghanistan, which now produces 93% of the world's heroin and has been characterized by even Fox News, a major champion of American intervention, as a "narco-state".

Drug money has corrupted all facets of society, crippled the legal economy and made it nearly impossible to carry out the simplest development projects while most of the population lives in crushing poverty. As in South Vietnam under US occupation, the main airport has become a major trans-shipment point for heroin and positions for police chief in many provinces are auctioned off to the highest bidder due to their enormous graft value. Securing a job as chief of police on the border is rumored to cost upwards of $150,000.

In another parallel to Vietnam, rampant human-rights violations have driven many people into the arms of the insurgency. A 2009 report by Commanding General Stanley A McChrystal describes Afghan prisons as a particularly important recruiting base and "sanctuary [for Islamic militants] to conduct lethal operations" against government and coalition forces, including the 2008 bombing of the Serena hotel in Kabul which was allegedly planned without interference from prison personnel.

McChrystal, a former Special Forces assassin, notes that "there are more insurgents per square foot in corrections facilities than anywhere else in Afghanistan". These comments suggest that the recent Obama "surge" represents a costly and futile escalation of a conflict in which the US has no prospects of victory.

Beginning in 2004, as war increasingly spilled over into Pakistan, the State Department provided tens of millions of dollars in technical aid, training and equipment to the Pakistani police. The central aim was to fight the Taliban and consolidate the power of military dictator Pervez Musharraf and his successor Ali Asaf Zhardari.

American advisors introduced a computerized security and evaluation system to monitor all movement across the border, created special counter-narcotics units and a police air wing which was supplied with three caravan spotter planes and eight Huey helicopters to aid in counter-insurgency operations. Police play a vital role alongside mercenary firms such as Xe operations in identifying targets for CIA predator drone attacks which have killed hundreds of civilians, including over 100 during an errant strike on the village of Bola Baluk.

As in Afghanistan, militarization has enhanced the already repressive character of the police and contributed to the intensification of a vicious civil war in which over two million people have been rendered refugees. Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) meanwhile is deeply caught up in the heroin traffic, with the usual CIA collusion, and has been infiltrated by pro-Taliban elements, revealing the futility of American training programs and intervention.

In Iraq, much as in Vietnam three decades earlier, American training programs have contributed to the shattering of the societal fabric. The mission was initially headed by Bernard Kerik, former New York City police commissioner who won fame in leading rescue efforts at ground zero after the September 11, 2001 attacks and was later convicted and sentenced to four years in prison on charges of tax fraud and public corruption.

In spite of hundreds of millions in funding, the Iraqi National Police (INP) remains under-equipped and riddled with cronyism and corruption. Police were so poorly motivated and paid that many sold their bullets and uniforms on the black market.

Historically, the forces trained by the United States to subdue their own countrymen have taken on the air of paid mercenaries with little loyalty to their benefactor or the cause that they purportedly represent. Iraq is no exception to this general rule.

A State Department report noted that because of poor morale, Iraqi police have been rendered "ineffective and have quit or abandoned their stations". They were infiltrated by sectarian militias who used American weapons to engage in ethnic cleansing and brazenly drove through city streets in daylight hours with dead bodies in the backs of their trucks.

Militarized units routinely fired into crowds of unarmed demonstrators and had a history of going on forays into Sunni neighborhoods just to punish civilians. Several dozen investigative journalists and 200 prominent academics who opposed the US invasion were among those assassinated. Jerry Burke, one of the original police trainers who served two tours in Iraq, told reporters in 2007 that the INP was unsalvageable and that many of its members should be prosecuted for criminal human-rights violations, war crimes and death squad activities.

A central US focus was on training heavily armed commando units, recruited from Saddam Hussein's Special Forces after the reversal of the de-Ba'athification policy, whose primary mission was to "neutralize" high level insurgents.

American strategy in this respect was modeled after the Phoenix program in Vietnam, of which Vice President Dick Cheney was particularly enamored, and also bore heavy resemblances to practices in Central America during Ronald Reagan's terrorist wars of the 1980s. In 2004, Cheney openly called for the "Salvador option," referring to the US role in training paramilitary units to assassinate left-wing guerrilla leaders and their supporters during El Salvador's dirty war, largely with the aim of intimidating the population into submission.

James Steele's appointment as a top adviser to Iraq's most fearsome counterinsurgency force, the 5,000 man Special Police Commandos, exemplified the continuity in US policy. Steele served with the Green Berets in Vietnam, further honed his tactics training Contra forces in Nicaragua in the 1980s, then led a special forces mission in El Salvador where his men were implicated in serious human-rights abuses, including "disappearances," torture and the massacre of civilians.

Journalist Dahr Jamail wrote that it was no coincidence daily life in Iraq came to resemble "what the death squads generated in Central America ... Hundreds of unclaimed dead at the morgue - blood-caked men who had been shot, knifed, garroted or apparently suffocated by the plastic bag still over their heads. Many of their bodies were sprawled with their hands still bound".

By training and arming Iraqi police officials notorious for corruption, beatings, kidnappings and mass executions, American advisors contributed to the bloodbath in Iraq. The continuity in personnel and practice from past interventions shows the violent consequences of US training programs.

American advisors favored hard-line commanders, like Adnan Thabit, whom close aides compared to the "godfather" and who threatened to kill the one journalist brave enough to interview him. On October 5, 2006, US military forces removed the entire 8th brigade of the 2nd National Police Division from duty and arrested its officers after the brigade was implicated in the raid of a food factory in Baghdad and the kidnapping of 26 Sunni workers, seven of whom were executed. The Los Angeles Times reported that at the Baghdad morgue, "dozens of bodies arrive at the same time on a weekly basis, including scores of corpses with wrists bound by police handcuffs".

In December 2006, the Iraq study group portrayed a grave and deteriorating state of affairs, noting that "the Shi'ite dominated police units cannot control crime and they routinely engage in sectarian violence, including the unnecessary detention, torture and targeted execution of Sunni Arab civilians. Many police participated in training in order to obtain a weapon, uniform and ammunition for use in sectarian violence."

A Human Rights Watch report around the same time detailed police methods of interrogation in which prisoners were "routinely" beaten with cables and pipes, shocked, or suspended from their wrists for prolonged periods of time - tactics associated with Hussein's dictatorship. Iraqis frequently complained of police breaking into homes, extorting money for ransom and arbitrarily conducting arrests. One interviewee commented, "This isn't a police force, it's a bunch of thugs." What all these reports ignore is the systematic US responsibility for the training and methods that produced such outcomes.

As a symbol of foreign oppression, the INP became the frequent target of insurgent attacks. Nearly 3,000 police were killed and over 5,000 injured between September 2005 and April 2006 alone. In a reflection of the violent climate bred by the occupation, a number of high-ranking police officers, including the head of the serious crimes unit in Baghdad, were shot dead by US soldiers who thought that they were suicide bombers. Iraqi police have condemned the Americans as cowardly for not taking the same risks to their lives as they were ordered to take, and for being better protected from attack.

A police lieutenant in Baghdad commented that "the [Americans] hide behind the barricades while we are here in the streets without even guns to protect ourselves".

As in the Philippines, Haiti and Vietnam earlier, American advisors held racial stereotypes of Iraqis and a paternalistic and colonial mindset that bred resentment. In a memoir of his year in Iraq, Robert Cole, a police officer from East Palo Alto, California and a DynCorp employee, explains that these attitudes were engrained in a mini-boot camp training session, where he was "brainwashed, reprogrammed and desensitized" and "morphed" into a "trained professional killer".

Cole reports being told to shoot first and think later and to instruct police to do the same. "If you see a suspicious Iraqi civilian, pull your weapon and gun him down," he was told, "you don't fire one or two shots ... You riddle his sorry ass with bullets until you're sure he's dead as a doorknob."

This is an inversion not only of democratic police methods but even of Western counterinsurgency doctrine which, at least in theory, advocates a moderation of force in order to avoid antagonizing the population and creating martyrs for the revolutionary cause. It is no wonder that the scope of violence and human-rights abuses in Iraq has been so high. In spite of all the bloodshed and negative reports, however, the Iraq Study group actually recommended expanding American police training in the misconceived belief that more resources and aid could help professionalize the force (as Obama is now doing in Afghanistan).

This was a crucial dimension of the much vaunted "surge". Efforts were initiated to include Sunnis in the police and purge corrupt members who engaged in sectarian violence, including the head of the Ministry of the Interior, Bayan Jabr, a Shi'ite extremist who oversaw a torture chamber beneath his offices in which survivors were found with drill marks in their skulls. Nonetheless, extrajudicial violence and killings have remained endemic. On March 16, 2009, the New York Times reported, for example, that police officers abducted and killed six prisoners released from Camp Bucca in revenge for their days as insurgents. These actions appear to be routine.

Since the "surge," police have been delegated more responsibility in manning checkpoints and aiding in combat operations, thus increasing opportunities for extortion and abuse. To what end? Robert M. Witajewski, a top civilian police trainer and director of the embassy's Law Enforcement and Correctional Affairs program expressed concern that in "over-militarizing the police", the US was potentially "creating an entity that could cause a coup down the road".

There are plenty of historical examples which bear out these fears. Few in Washington appear, however, to acknowledge them.

In response to the wave of neo-conservative analysts extolling the virtues of empire in the aftermath of 9/11, Chalmers Johnson writes in Nemesis: The Last Days of the American Republic that the idea of "forcing thousands of people to be free by slaughtering them - with Maxim machine guns in the 19th century, or 'precision munitions' today - seems to reflect a deeply felt need as well as a striking inability to imagine the lives and viewpoints of others". He added that "all empires require myths of divine right, racial pre-eminence, manifest destiny or a 'civilizing mission' to cover their often barbarous behavior in other people's country".

American imperial intervention throughout the long century from the conquest of the Philippines through the ongoing wars in Afghanistan and Iraq has indeed sown much human misery and violence.

While it has helped to vanquish some genuinely totalitarian forces, such as the Nazis and imperial Japanese, all too often those at the wrong end of the guns have been supporters of nationalist and social revolutionary movements seeking badly needed social change. Many were driven underground through repression and as a result of the US refusal to implement internationally sanctioned diplomatic settlements, such as the Geneva Accords of 1954 in Vietnam. Like previous colonial powers, the US has also often helped to exacerbate ethnic divisions and conflict, as in Afghanistan and Iraq today, with disastrous results.

US police training programs exemplify the dark side of the American empire. They have been crucial in advancing American power and in perpetuating and even creating the particular types of repressive regimes that emerged under US guidance - namely regimes which were dependent on foreign aid for their survival and developed repressive surveillance and internal security apparatuses to quash dissent.

While American strategic planners hoped that the police programs could provide the social stability for liberal-capitalist development to take root, the programs often spiraled out of control and empowered rogue forces, which used the modern weaponry and resources to advance their own power and to suppress personal rivals.

American police training furthermore spawned endless cycles of violence and in turn contributed to the delegitimizing of American client regimes and the empowerment of resistance movements because of the abuses that they inflicted. Police programs epitomize the limits of American social engineering efforts and power and unintended consequences of US covert manipulation.

Many of the worst features of American police training programs have been evident in the contemporary occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq, which sought to incorporate methods that were honed in previous interventions. That these methods bred horrific consequences was of little importance to policy-makers for whom the ends seemingly justify the means.

While differing political contexts have ensured different results historically, there are some patterns that emerge as universal, namely the role of the United States in imparting sophisticated policing equipment and trying to professionalize the internal security apparatus of client regimes as a means of fortifying their power and repressing the political opposition.

New technologies have been developed to try and hasten the efficiency of this latter task, though the overriding goal has remained the same, from the Philippines occupation forward.

American society is at a crossroads: it can continue to pursue the destructive path of empire, leading to endless cycles of violence and warfare as well as environmental degradation and economic hardship and political repression at home, or it can adopt a more humble, non-violent approach to foreign policy and thus serve as a beacon for world peace while redirecting the country's resources towards constructive ends.

There is still time to embrace the non-violent option, although the Obama administration is moving in the wrong direction, and time is getting short if our civilization is to survive with its moral integrity intact.

1.) A fully annotated version of this article is available at Japan Focus.

Jeremy Kuzmarov is an assistant professor of history at the University of Tulsa and author of The Myth of the Addicted Army: Vietnam and the Modern War on Drugs. He wrote this article for The Asia-Pacific Journal.

(This article was first published by Japan Focus. Republished with permission from Japan Focus.)

Offline bigron

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Re: The Ir-Af-Pak War !!
« Reply #108 on: March 26, 2010, 07:02:56 am »
Trivializing War

By Cesar Chelala

March 25, 2010 "Information Clearing House" -- Captain Ferguson (not his real name) gets up early in the morning, and has breakfast with his wife and children. At the office, Captain Ferguson sits in front of the computer on and off for almost eight hours every day. At the end of the day he heads back home. Captain Ferguson’s wife is glad to see him back to discuss the events of her day. He does the same, with one omission. By most measures, it has been a beautiful day.

Beautiful, that is, if you don’t consider Captain Ferguson’s omission. While sitting in front of his computer, he was directing unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, carrying powerful bombs to land in distant countries. He presumes, but he is not totally sure, that he has hit the right target. After the bombs exploded four suspected terrorists were killed. Four fewer criminals the U.S. will have to deal with.

A later investigation will later reveal that they were not terrorists but rather they were parents and children on a birthday party. As a result of the attack, four adults and eight children were killed, and several more seriously injured.

Captain Ferguson, of course, was unaware of the consequences of his actions. He only thinks that he has a somewhat tedious but rewarding job, since he is an important piece in the fight against terror. Only later he will know the truth, when the outcry of the victims’ relatives cannot be silenced any longer. The predictable apologies will not bring back the dead to life, nor heal those injured.

Let’s compare this made–up scenario with reality.

During the first year of the Obama administration, there were 51 drone attacks, compared to 45 drone attacks during President Bush’s two terms in office, according to The Year of the Drone, a report by the Washington-based New America Foundation. The report also states that the civilian fatality rate has been 32 percent in drone attacks since 2004.

“Drones are currently killing people in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia. It should be noted that the United States is not at war with any of those countries, which should mean in a sane world that the killing is illegal under both international law and the US Constitution,” states Philip Girald, a former CIA officer and fellow of the American Conservative Defense Alliance.

Girald’s observation is confirmed by Mary Ellen O’Connell, a Professor of Law at Notre Dame Law School. In a research paper entitled “Unlawful Killing with Combat Drones” Professor O’Connell says, “The CIA’s intention in using drones is to target and kill individual leaders of al-Qaeda or Taliban militant groups. Drones have rarely, if ever, killed just the intended target. By October 2009, the ratio has been about 20 leaders killed for 750-1000 unintended victims. Drones are having a counter-productive impact in Pakistan’s attempt to repress militancy and violence. The use of the drone is, therefore, violating the war-fighting principles of distinction, necessity, proportionality, humanity.”

In the meantime, the U.S. military plans to more than triple its inventory of high-altitude drones capable of 24-hour patrols by 2020. General David Petraeus, head of the U.S. Central Command, which includes both Afghanistan and Iraq, declared in a speech last January, “We can’t get enough drones.”

War, we should sadly acknowledge, is not a Nintendo game. And innocent people’s lives are not expendable. If we don’t admit the tragic dimension of war we will be cursed by its consequences.

Cesar Chelala, a co-winner of an Overseas Press Club of America award, is a contributing editor to The Globalist.

(+) Add your comment
(4 hours ago) hayate said:
I suspect these "Captain Fergusons" are the sort who really don't care who they kill, as long as it's not ami or nato troops. One meets many of these dim-witted sorts in the ami military. Many later then become cops.
(4 hours ago) said:
(5 hours ago) Wilson said:
"...illegal under intetnational law and under the U.S. Constitution", but legal under Talmudic Law. Gentile law is a persecution. The 7 Noahide Laws (with many pages of commentary) are to rule the Gentiles. Worship of Jesus Christ is Idolatry: a capital crime. Just Google Noahide Laws
(5 hours ago) Thistle said:
(The following in two parts because of size limits.)

There are many things incorrect with what "Sam" has said. Not the least of which, if his premise of "GPS jammers" blanking out Capt. Ferguson's display. The video signal is not only sent on any open frequency but is also encrypted using 768 byte (or better) keys (often referred to as military hardened encryption.) A "GPS jammer" would have no effect on what is being displayed on Capt. Ferguson's screen.

(10 hours ago) Sam said:
These drones can be fairly easily rendered useless by acquiring GPS jammers. Once jammed, all Captain Ferguson would see on his computer screen would be a big blank, something similar to the test pattern on a television screen. These primitive tribesmen ( and I don't mean that disparagingly)either don't know about them or don't know how or where to purchase them.
(11 hours ago) Sharon Johnson said:
if the leaders of our country are so enamored with war, let them put on their armor, pick up their spears and shields and go at it. I guarantee it would put a stop to the madness. How easy it is to get others to do the dirty work and to ignore the suffering of those who are deemed "collateral damage"
(12 hours ago) boomslang said:
In the nineties the whole world was,rightly, up in arms when the Serbs beleaguering the city of Sarajevo used snipers to terrorize the civilian population, by randomly shooting people on the streets. What makes it different now with these ghastly drones?
(13 hours ago) Louise McCollum said:
President Obama needs to quit listening to the active generals. Of course, they print a picture of being able to win the wars, without them, they don'thave a job. He needs to listen to th, I believe it was 12, generals who stated they needed to get out of Iraq. An author on Charile Rose's program stated recently he travels overseas a lot, and they hate us. We can't continue going from one one country to another killing folks without it coming back to us sometime.

A senator stated once that if they stopped the war in Iraq that it would ruin the economy. There are a lot of people depending on the war s for their income, but as a famous minister said once, there will be a payday someday.

Louse McCollum
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