Tag Archives: Defense contractors

The War in Questions: Making Sense of the Age of Carnage, by Tom Engelhardt

Several obvious, pointed, and unanswered questions about the US’s many wars. From Tom Englehardt at tomdispatch.com:

My first question is simple enough: After 18-plus years of our forever wars, where are all the questions?

Almost two decades of failing American wars across a startlingly large part of the planet and I’d like to know, for instance, who’s been fired for them? Who’s been impeached? Who’s even paying attention?

I mean, if another great power had been so fruitlessly fighting a largely undeclared set of conflicts under the label of “the war on terror” for so long, if it had wasted trillions of taxpayer dollars with no end in sight and next to no one in that land was spending much time debating or discussing the matter, what would you think? If nothing else, you’d have a few questions about that, right?

Well, so many years later, I do have a few that continue to haunt me, even if I see them asked practically nowhere and, to my frustration, can’t really answer them myself, not to my satisfaction anyway. In fact, since 2001 — with the exception of the months leading up to the invasion of Iraq when America’s streets suddenly filled with hundreds of thousands of demonstrators asking a range of questions (“How did USA’s oil get under Iraq’s sand?” was a typical protest sign of that moment) — our never-ending wars have seldom been questioned in this country. So think of what follows not as my thoughts on the war in question but on the war in questions.

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In War, Revenge Will Always Lead to Destruction, by Bill Bonner

War never builds, it only destroys, notwithstanding the claims of its many proponents. From Bill Bonner at bonnerandpartners.com:

BALTIMORE, MARYLAND – Iran seems to have taken the bait. It couldn’t resist having its revenge on the avenger.

But what’s this…? Is that giggling noise coming from the graveyard…?

Today we return to our study of the two disastrous, society-destroying mistakes of the 21st century. (Catch up on the first here and the second here.)

We remind Dear Readers that what is at stake is not just losing wars… or losing money… or a crash in the stock and bond markets… or a depression…

…we’re talking about a hellish collapse of American society itself…

Two Colossal Mistakes

In 2001, George W. Bush put the empire in a state of perpetual war. That was Mistake No. 1.

In 2008, Ben Bernanke et al. began a policy of perpetual fake-money inflation. That was Mistake No. 2.

And how the dead generations must have laughed!

Would stocks go up? What industry would new technology disrupt? Who would win the next election? They didn’t know any more than we did.

But when nations sought revenge on one another? When empires launched forever wars? When people spent money they didn’t have… and printed up pieces of paper to cover their deficits?

These were their favorite songs. The dead knew every verse. And chuckle every time.

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A Generation Deleted: American Bombs in Yemen Are Costing an Entire Generation Their Future, by Ahmed Abdulkareem

Once in a while Americans should think about what the US military and US armaments makers do to people in other lands. Read this and ask yourself: how do Yemenis feel about America and Americans? From Ahmed Abdulkareem at mintpressnews.com:

As a new school year begins in Yemen, Ahmed AbdulKareem investigates the impact that American weapons have had on the war-torn country’s schoolchildren.

SADAA, NORTHERN YEMEN — Third-grader Farah Abbas al-Halimi didn’t get the UNICEF backpack or textbook she was hoping for this year. Instead, she was given an advanced U.S bomb delivered on an F-16 courtesy of the Saudi Air Force. That bomb fell on Farah’s school on September 24 and killed Farah, two of her sisters, and her father who was working at the school. It will undoubtedly have an irrevocable effect on the safety and psyche of schoolchildren across the region.

Over the course of Yemen’s pre-war history, which locals fondly refer to as the happy Yemen years, never has an entire generation been subjected to the level of disaster and suffering as that levied upon Farah’s generation by the Saudi-led Coalition, which has used high-tech weapons supplied by the United States and other Western powers to devastating effect since it began its military campaign against Yemen in 2015.

Last week a new school year in Yemen began, the fifth school year since the war started, and little has changed for Yemen’s schoolchildren aside from the fact that the Coalition’s weapons have become more precise and even more deadly, leaving the futures of the country’s more than one million schoolchildren in limbo.

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Mattis: One More General for the ‘Self Licking Ice Cream Cone’, by Kelly Beaucar Vlahos

How the military-industrial-intelligence complex really works. From Kelly Beaucar Vlahos at theamericanconservative.com:

Outgoing Secretary of Defense James Mattis, the Pentagon, and Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan (Credit: U.S. Customs and Border Patrol/Wikimedia Commons/Department of State)

Before he became lionized as the “only adult in the room” capable of standing up to President Trump, General James Mattis was quite like any other brass scoping out a lucrative second career in the defense industry. And as with other military giants parlaying their four stars into a cushy boardroom chair or executive suite, he pushed and defended a sub-par product while on both sides of the revolving door. Unfortunately for everyone involved, that contract turned out to be an expensive fraud and a potential health hazard to the troops.

According to a recent report by the Project on Government Oversight, 25 generals, nine admirals, 43 lieutenant generals, and 23 vice admirals retired to become lobbyists, board members, executives, or consultants for the defense industry between 2008 and 2018. They are part of a much larger group of 380 high-ranking government officials and congressional staff who shifted into the industry in that time.

To get a sense of the demand, according to POGO, which had to compile all of this information through Freedom of Information requests, there were 625 instances in 2018 alone in which the top 20 defense contractors (think Boeing, General Dynamics, Lockheed Martin) hired senior DoD officials for high-paying jobs—90 percent of which could be described as “influence peddling.”

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U.S. Foreign Policy Has No Policy, by Philip Giraldi

Other than it wants to dominate the world, the US foreign policy establishment has no consistent policy. From Philip Giraldi at unz.com via lewrockwell.com:

President Donald Trump’s recent statement on the Jamal Khashoggi killing by Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince might well be considered a metaphor for his foreign policy. Several commentators have suggested that the text appears to be something that Trump wrote himself without any adult supervision, similar to the poorly expressed random arguments presented in his tweeting only longer. That might be the case, but it would not be wise to dismiss the document as merely frivolous or misguided as it does in reality express the kind of thinking that has produced a foreign policy that seems to drift randomly to no real end, a kind of leaderless creative destruction of the United States as a world power.

Lord Palmerston, Prime Minister of Britain in the mid nineteenth century, famously said that “Nations have no permanent friends or allies, they only have permanent interests.”The United States currently has neither real friends nor any clearly defined interests. It is, however, infested with parasites that have convinced an at-drift America that their causes are identical to the interests of the United States. Leading the charge to reduce the U.S. to “bitch” status, as Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard has artfully put it, are Israel and Saudi Arabia, but there are many other countries, alliances and advocacy groups that have learned how to subvert and direct the “leader of the free world.”

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How the Military Controls America, by Eric Zuesse

Defense policy generally has less to do with defense of the US proper, which could be achieved at a fraction of what’s currently spent playing global cop, and more with lining the pockets of military and intelligence contractors. It’s one reason the US can’t seem to win any of its wars. Winning would stop the gravy train. From Eric Zuesse at strategic-culture.org:

Unlike corporations that sell to consumers, Lockheed Martin and the other top contractors to the US Government are highly if not totally dependent upon sales to governments, for their profits, especially sales to their own government, which they control — they control their home market, which is the US Government, and they use it to sell to its allied governments, all of which foreign governments constitute the export markets for their products and services. These corporations control the US Government, and they control NATO. And, here is how they do it, which is essential to understand, in order to be able to make reliable sense of America’s foreign policies, such as which nations are ‘allies’ of the US Government (such as Saudi Arabia and Israel), and which nations are its ‘enemies’ (such as Libya and Syria) — and are thus presumably suitable for America to invade, or else to overthrow by means of a coup. First, the nation’s head-of-state becomes demonized; then, the invasion or coup happens. And, that’s it. And here’s how.

Because America (unlike Russia) privatized the weapons-industry (and even privatizes to mercenaries some of its battlefield killing and dying), there are, in America, profits for investors to make in invasions and in military occupations of foreign countries; and the billionaires who control these corporations can and do — and, for their financial purposes, they must — buy Congress and the President, so as to keep those profits flowing to themselves. That’s the nature of the war-business, since its markets are governments — but not those governments that the aristocracy want to overthrow and replace. The foreign governments that are to be overthrown are not markets, but are instead targets.  The bloodshed and misery go to those unfortunate lands. But if you control these corporations, then you need these invasions and occupations, and you certainly aren’t concerned about any of the victims, who (unlike those profits) are irrelevant to your business. In fact, to the exact contrary: killing people and destroying buildings etc., are what you sell — that’s what you (as a billionaire with a controlling interest in one of the 100 top contractors to the US Government) are selling to your own government, and to all of the other governments that your country’s cooperative propaganda will characterize as being ‘enemies’ — Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Yemen, etc. — and definitely not as being ‘allies’, such as are being characterized these corporations’ foreign markets: Saudi Arabia, EU-NATO, Israel, etcetera. In fact, as regards your biggest foreign markets, they will be those ‘allies’; so, you (that is, the nation’s aristocracy, who own also the news-media etc.) defend them, and you want the US military (the taxpayers and the troops) to support and defend them. It’s defending your market, even though you as the controlling owner of such a corporation aren’t paying the tab for it. The rest of the country is actually paying for all of it, so you’re “free-riding” the public, in this business. It’s the unique nature of the war-business, and a unique boon to its investors.

To continue reading: How the Military Controls America

 

Trump’s National Defense Strategy: Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex), by Danny Sjursen

Defense spending is dictated by policy. The many beneficiaries of the US’s global hegemony policy got what they wanted in Trump’s new national defense strategy. It won’t, however, make the US population any safer from foreign invasion than they are now (the US hasn’t been invaded for almost 200 years). From Danny Sjursen at tomdispatch.com:

Think of it as the chicken-or-the-egg question for the ages: Do very real threats to the United States inadvertently benefit the military-industrial complex or does the national security state, by its very nature, conjure up inflated threats to feed that defense machine? 

Back in 2008, some of us placed our faith, naively enough, in the hands of mainstream Democrats — specifically, those of a young senator named Barack Obama.  He would reverse the war policies of George W. Bush, deescalate the unbridled Global War on Terror, and right the ship of state. How’d that turn out?

In retrospect, though couched in a far more sophisticated and peaceable rhetoric than Bush’s, his moves would prove largely cosmetic when it came to this country’s forever wars: a significant reduction in the use of conventional ground troops, but more drones, more commandos, and yet more acts of ill-advised regime change.  Don’t get me wrong: as a veteran of two of Washington’s wars, I was glad when “no-drama” Obama decreased the number of boots on the ground in the Middle East.  It’s now obvious, however, that he left the basic infrastructure of eternal war firmly in place. 

Enter The Donald.

For all his half-baked tweets, insults, and boasts, as well as his refusal to readanything of substance on issues of war and peace, some of candidate Trump’s foreign policy ideas seemed far saner than those of just about any other politician around or the previous two presidents.  I mean, the Iraq War was dumb, and maybe it wasn’t the craziest idea for America’s allies to start thinking about defending themselves, and maybe Washington ought to put some time and diplomatic effort into avoiding a possibly catastrophic clash or set of clashes with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.

Unfortunately, the White House version of all this proved oh-so-familiar.  President Trump’s decision, for instance, to double down on a losing bet in Afghanistan in spite of his “instincts” (and on similar bets in Somalia, Syria, and elsewhere) and his recently published National Defense Strategy (NDS) leave little doubt that he’s surrendered to Secretary of Defense James Mattis and National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster, the mainstream interventionists in his administration.

To continue reading: Trump’s National Defense Strategy: Something for Everyone (in the Military-Industrial Complex)

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