Archive for the ‘U.S.A.’ Category

Big Lie: America Doesn’t Have #1 Richest Middle-Class in the World: We’re Ranked 27th!

May 17, 2015

ECONOMY

America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires—and an increasingly poor middle-class.

By Les Leopold / AlterNet

June 18, 2013

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America is the richest country on Earth. We have the most millionaires, the most billionaires, and our wealthiest citizens have garnered more of the planet’s riches than any other group in the world. We even have hedge fund managers who make in one hour as much as the average family makes in 21 years!

This opulence is supposed to trickle down to the rest of us, improving the lives of everyday Americans. At least that’s what free-market cheerleaders repeatedly promise us.

Unfortunately, it’s a lie, one of the biggest ever perpetrated on the American people.

Our middle class is falling further and further behind in comparison to the rest of the world. We keep hearing that America is number one. Well, when it comes to middle-class wealth, we’re number 27.

The most telling comparative measurement is median wealth (per adult). It describes the amount of wealth accumulated by the person precisely in the middle of the wealth distribution—50 percent of the adult population has more wealth, while 50 percent has less. You can’t get more middle than that.

Wealth is measured by the total sum of all our assets (homes, bank accounts, stocks, bonds etc.) minus our liabilities (outstanding loans and other debts). It the best indicator we have for individual and family prosperity. While the never-ending accumulation of wealth may be wrecking the planet, wealth also provides basic security, especially in a country like ours with such skimpy social programs. Wealth allows us to survive periods of economic turmoil. Wealth allows our children to go to college without incurring crippling debts, or to get help for the down payment on their first homes. As Billie Holiday sings, “God bless the child that’s got his own.”

Well, it’s a sad song. As the chart below shows, there are 26 other countries with a median wealth higher than ours (and the relative reduction of U.S. median wealth has done nothing to make our economy more sustainable).
Why?

Here’s a starter list:

  • We don’t have real universal healthcare. We pay more and still have poorer health outcomes than all other industrialized countries. Should a serious illness strike, we also can become impoverished.
  • Weak labor laws undermine unions and give large corporations more power to keep wages and benefits down. Unions now represent less than 7 percent of all private sector workers, the lowest ever recorded.
  • Our minimum wage is pathetic, especially in comparison to other developed nations. (We’re # 13.) Nobody can live decently on $7.25 an hour. Our poverty-level minimum wage puts downward pressure on the wages of all working people. And while we secure important victories for a few unpaid sick days, most other developed nations provide a month of guaranteed paid vacations as well as many paid sick days.
  • Wall Street is out of control. Once deregulation started 30 years ago, money has gushed to the top as Wall Street was free to find more and more unethical ways to fleece us.
  • Higher education puts our kids into debt. In most other countries higher education is practically tuition-free. Indebted students are not likely to accumulate wealth anytime soon.
  • It’s hard to improve your station in life if you’re in prison, often due to drug-related charges that don’t even exist in other developed nations. In fact, we have the largest prison population in the entire world, and we have the highest percentage of minorities imprisoned. “In major cities across the country, 80% of young African Americans now have criminal records” (from Michelle Alexander’s 2010 book, The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness).
  • Our tax structures favor the rich and their corporations that no longer pay their fair share. They move money to foreign tax havens, they create and use tax loopholes, and they fight to make sure the source of most of their wealth—capital gains—is taxed at low rates. Meanwhile the rest of us are pressed to make up the difference or suffer deteriorating public services.
  • The wealthy dominate politics. Nowhere else in the developed world are the rich and their corporations able to buy elections with such impunity.
  • Big Money dominates the media. The real story about how we’re getting ripped off is hidden in a blizzard of BS that comes from all the major media outlets…brought to you by….
  • America encourages globalization of production so that workers here are in constant competition with the lower-wage workers all over the world as well as with highly automated techonologies.

Is there one cause of the middle-class collapse that rises above all others?

Yes. The International Labor organization produced a remarkable study (Global Wage Report 2012-13) that sorts out the causes of why wages have remained stagnant while elite incomes have soared. The report compares key causal explanations like declining bargaining power of unions, porous social safety nets, globalization, new technologies and financialization.

Guess which one had the biggest impact on the growing split between the 1 percent and the 99 percent?

Financialization!

What is that? Economist Gerald Epstein offers us a working definition:

“Financialization means the increasing role of financial motives, financial markets, financial actors and financial institutions in the operation of the domestic and international economies.”

This includes such trends as:

  • The corporate change during the 1980s to make shareholder value the ultimate goal.
  • The deregulation of Wall Street that allowed for the creation of a vast array of new financial instruments for gambling.
  • Allowing private equity firm to buy companies, load them up with debt, extract enormous returns, and then kiss them goodbye.
  • The growth of hedge funds that suck productive wealth out of the economy.
  • The myriad of barely regulated world financial markets that finance the globalization of production, combined with so-called “free trade” agreements.
  • The increased share of all corporate profits that go to the financial sector.
  • The ever increasing size of too-big-to-fail banks.
  • The fact that many of our best students rush to Wall Street instead of careers in science, medicine or education.

In short, financialization is when making money from money becomes more important that providing real goods and services. Here’s a chart that says it all. Once we unleashed Wall Street, their salaries shot up, while everyone else’s stood still.

Do we still know how to fight!

The carefully researched ILO study provides further proof that Occupy Wall Street was right on the money. OWS succeeded (temporarily), in large part, because it tapped into the deep reservoir of anger toward Wall Street felt by people all over the world. We all know the financiers are screwing us.

Then why didn’t OWS turn into a sustained, mass movement to take on Wall Street?

One reason it didn’t grow was that the rest of us stood back in deference to the original protestors instead of making the movement our own. As a result, we didn’t build a larger movement with the structures needed to take on our financial oligarchs. And until we figure out how to do just that, our nation’s wealth will continue to be siphoned away.

Our hope, I believe, lies in the young people who are engaged each day in fighting for the basic human rights for all manner of working people—temp workers, immigrants, unionized, non-union, gays, lesbians, transgender—as well as those who are fighting to save the planet from environmental destruction. It’s all connected.

At some point these deeply committed activists also will understand that financialization both here and abroad stands in the way of justice and puts our planet at risk. When they see the beast clearly, I am confident they will figure out how to slay it.

The sooner, the better.

Les Leopold is the director of the Labor Institute. His most recent book is How to Make a Million Dollars an Hour: Why Hedge Funds Get Away with Siphoning off America’s Wealth (Wiley, 2013).

US Empire: American Exceptionalism Is No Shining City On a Hill

May 17, 2015

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The concept of American exceptionalism is as old as the United States, and it implies that the country has a qualitative difference from other nations. This notion of being special gives Americans the sense that playing a lead role in world affair is part of their natural historic calling. However there is nothing historically exceptional about this: the Roman empire also viewed itself as a system superior to other nations and, more recently, so did the British and the French empires.

On the topic of American exceptionalism, which he often called “Americanism”, Seymour Martin Lipset noted that “America’s ideology can be described in five words: liberty, egalitarism, individualism, populism and laissez-faire. The revolutionary ideology, which became American creed, is liberalism in its eighteenth and nineteenth-century meaning. It departed from conservatism Toryism, statist communitarianism, mercantilism and noblesse-oblige dominant in monarchical state-church formed cultures.” Naturally identifying America’s system as a unique ideology, just like calling its successful colonial war against Britain a revolution, is a fallacy. For one, America was never based on social equality, as rigid class distinctions always remained through US history.

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(image by Vaticanus) DMCA
In reality, the US has never broken from European social models. American exceptionalism implies a sense of superiority, just like in the case of the British empire, the French empire and the Roman empire. In such imperialist systems, class inequality was never challenged and, as matter of fact, served as cornerstone of the imperial structure. In American history, the only exception to this system based on social inequality was during the post World War II era of the economic “miracle”. The period from 1945 to the mid 1970s was characterized by major economic growth, an absence of big economic downturns, and a much higher level of social mobility on a massive scale. This time frame saw a tremendous expansion of higher education: from 2.5 million people to 12 million going to colleges and universities, and this education explosion, naturally, fostered this upward mobility where the American dream became possible for the middle class.

Regardless of real domestic social progress made in the United States after the birth of the empire in 1945, for the proponents of American exceptionalism — this includes the entire political class — the myth of the US being defined as a “shining city on a hill” has always been a rationale to justify the pursuit of imperialism. For example, when President Barack Obama addressed the nation to justify the US military intervention in Libya, he said that “America is different”, as if the US has a special role in history as a force for good. In a speech on US foreign policy, at West Point on May 28, 2014, Obama bluntly stated: “In fact, by most measures, America has rarely been stronger relative to the rest of the world. Those who argue otherwise — who suggest that America is in decline or has seen its global leadership slip away are misreading history. Our military has no peer”. I believe in American exceptionalism with every fiber of my being.”

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(image by Vaticanus) DMCA

In his book, Democracy In America, Frenchman Alexis de Tocqueville was lyrical in his propaganda-like adulation of American exceptionalism, defining it almost as divine providence. “When the earth was given to men by the Creator, the earth was inexhaustible. But men were weak and ignorant, and when they had learned to take advantage of the treasures which it contained, they already covered its surface and were soon obliged to earn by the sword an asylum for repose and freedom. Just then North America was discovered, as if it had been kept in reserve by the Deity and had risen from beneath the waters of the deluge”, wrote de Tocqueville.

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(image by Colin Poellot) DMCA
This notion, originated by the French author, and amplified ever since, which defined the US as the “divine gift” of a moral and virtuous land, is a cruel fairy tale. It is mainly convenient to ease up America’s profound guilt. After all, the brutal birth of this nation took place under the curse of two cardinal sins: the theft of Native American lands after committing a genocide of their population; and the hideous crime of slavery, with slaves building an immense wealth for the few, in a new feudal system, with their sweat, tears and blood.

_________

Comment: The U.S. is at the top of the pyramidal tomb plummeting to mass extinction with global warming, nuclear holocaust, etc., ” devil’s gift.”

 
Editor’s Notes

http://newsjunkiepost.com

Gilbert Mercier is the Editor in Chief of News Junkie Post and one of its co-founders. Mercier is a French journalist, photojournalist and filmmaker — writer/concept writer, director, producer and art director — based in the United States since 1983. In the early 1980″s Mercier hosted and produced (more…)

NYTimes: Conservative Economics and Income Inequality Are Literally Killing Us.

May 5, 2015

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Reprinted from http://www.dailykos.com by Dartagnan

Thirty-five years ago, babies born in the U.S. had an infant mortality rate equal to Germany. Today, American babies die at twice the rate of those in Germany.

Thirty-five years ago, the U.S. ranked 13th in life expectancy for girls among the 34 recognized industrial societies. Today we are ranked 29th out of those same 34 countries.

We have the highest teenage birth rate among the industrialized world.

One out of every four children in this country lives with a single parent, the highest rate by far in the industrialized world.

Our incarceration rate is triple what it was four decades ago, with an incarceration rate five times that of other wealthy democracies.

Economists from the University of Chicago, MIT and the University of Southern California conducted research to find out why our children die at a rate exponentially higher than European kids. Their conclusion? Staggering rates of income disparity, all stemming directly from the 1980’s, the Era of Ronald Reagan and the beginning of the resurgence of the conservative movement.

“On nearly all indicators of mortality, survival and life expectancy, the United States ranks at or near the bottom among high-income countries,” says a report on the nation’s health by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine.
What’s most shocking about these statistics is not how unhealthy they show Americans to be, compared with citizens of countries that spend much less on health care and have much less sophisticated medical technology. What is most perplexing is how stunningly fast the United States has lost ground.

 

The statistics above are taken from this article by Eduardo Porter in today’s New York Times. As Porter states, “Pick almost any measure of social health and cohesion over the last four decades or so, and you will find that the United States took a wrong turn along the way.” But as his analysis shows, it wasn’t just lower wages caused by globalization and technological advancement that led to this dismal state of affairs (although those certainly played a part), but the unique failure of our U.S. government to respond to these developments:

[B]laming globalization and technological progress for the stagnation of the middle class and the precipitous decline in our collective health is too easy. Jobs were lost and wages got stuck in many developed countries.
What set the United States apart — what made the damage inflicted upon American society so intense — was the nature of its response. Government support for Americans in the bottom half turned out to be too meager to hold society together.

From the time most of us have even had a political memory we have had to listen to conservative ideology spewed at us, telling us that the U.S. was living in a “welfare state,” that “handouts” to the poor were sapping our productivity and harming the “spirit” of the country. That if we only unleashed the power of Big Business through fostering “entrepreneurship” while cutting programs designed to support the rest of us, the nation would “regain” its stature and create vast sums of wealth for all of our citizens, with corporate profits leading us back to a mythical promised land. That shrinking government programs while cutting taxes for the richest would put wealth back into all our pockets and improve the quality of our lives. This was the dominant narrative in the 1980’s, it was swallowed nearly whole and regurgitated by Bill Clinton in the 1990’s, and reached its apotheosis in the 2000’s prior to the Economic Crash presided over by George W. Bush and the same tax-cutting, supply-side ilk who sold it to us from the start, often in the guise of “deficit reduction.” It is the same narrative that continues to paralyze our government’s ability to respond to our citizens needs, now mutated into what we know as the “Tea Party.”

Now this narrative has borne itself out to be nothing but a staggering lie. The reality is that beyond a meager Social Security and Medicare for the aged, both creations of Democratic Administrations, and with the constant demonization and derogation of Labor and Unions, there was not much at all to break the fall of ordinary Americans when trends like globalization appeared over the horizon:

A more compelling explanation is that when globalization struck at the jobs on which 20th-century America had built its middle class, the United States discovered that it did not, in fact, have much of a welfare state to speak of. The threadbare safety net tore under the strain.
Call it a failure of solidarity. American institutions, built from hostility toward collective solutions, couldn’t hold society together when the economic underpinning of full employment at a decent wage gave in.

 
“Hostility toward collective solutions” is polite terminology for “greed.”

 

From flickr.com/photos/43207463@N06/8359685240/: True Blue

From flickr.com/photos/43207463@N06/8359685240/: True Blue
True Blue
(image by Byzantine_K) DMCA

In searching for solutions, Porter weighs the benefits of education, but rightly concludes that the way education is structured in this country today it actually exacerbates inequality. One need only to examine the income levels of those victimized by the latest collapse of for-profit colleges, left clutching their near-worthless degrees, to understand why. He also points to attempts by Senator Elizabeth Warren and others to generate enthusiasm for lifting the payroll cap on Social Security to expand benefits for the elderly. But caring for the elderly is ultimately not our biggest problem. Ultimately the changes necessary to reverse the criminal damage already wreaked on us by the American Right and its malignant, self-serving ideology must be solved at the ballot box.

The challenge America faces is not simply a matter of equity. The bloated incarceration rates and rock-bottom life expectancy, the unraveling families and the stagnant college graduation rates amount to an existential threat to the nation’s future.
That is, perhaps, the best reason for hope. The silver lining in these dismal, if abstract, statistics, is that they portend such a dysfunctional future that our broken political system might finally be forced to come together to prevent it.

So this election is not just “our time.” It may be the only time.

 

 

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Let’s Give Up Insanity and Try a Sane Approach in Dealing with the World

May 5, 2015

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From flickr.com/photos/35034345533@N01/4355865873/: US Foreign Policy
US Foreign Policy
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Since 9/11 the US government has spent more than 1.5 trillion dollars on the War on Terror. Fourteen nations have been bombed or attacked by the US military, and we are no safer today than we were one day prior to 9/11. As a matter of fact, we are probably less safe with the world being torn apart by US bombs and the spreading of anarchy throughout the Middle East, yet the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again with the same results.

We have an insane policy of bloodletting and killing, thinking this will make the problem go away, but as any rational person knows the more people you kill the more enemies you create. Every time you kill someone with a drone bomb, you create 10 new enemies. Gen. Stanley McChrystal, the onetime commander of all coalition forces in Afghanistan, created the phrase “Insurgent Math” when he rightfully pointed out “for every innocent person you kill, you create 10 new enemies.” Every rational person would probably agree with McChrystal’s assessment, but the US government doesn’t, and we continue to make the same mistakes of killing innocents and thinking we can “kill our way to victory”. The big question is; are we really as stupid as we seem by repeating a fruitless useless policy, or are the decision makers bright enough to realize that their policy only insures constant warfare, which just might be the game plan. Sound silly? Then think about a different policy, and the result, if we tried a sane approach to dealing with the world’s nations.

Let us assume that intelligent folk realized you cannot kill your way to victory and embarked on a completely different policy to fight the war on terror. What if the US government set aside 1.5 trillion dollars, the conservative estimate of our spending in the war on terror so far, and decided to build schools instead? Think about it. What if we built one hundred thousand schools in Afghanistan after 9/11? Do you think the Taliban would have the same kind of public support from Afghanis?

What if instead of spending 1.5 trillion on bombs and making war while killing well over 1 million people, we helped build infrastructure instead. Do you really think they would “hate us for our freedom”, probably the most asinine statement ever made by any US President, and try to kill us? Yes folks we have killed over one million people since 9/11, and using McChrystal’s accurate ratio, we have created over 10 million enemies since 9/11. This is insanity.

We bombed Libya for seven months, saying it was necessary for “humanitarian” reasons, another classically stupid expression which mainstream media, the mouthpiece of the US government, readily accepted and used,without pointing out the total absurdity of bombing people for humanitarian reasons.

 
What would have happened, if instead of bombing Libya for 7 months and turning it into a failed state with chaos and anarchy resulting, which led to the emergence of ultra-extremist groups who now threaten the world with violence, we decided to use some of the 1.5 trillion dollars to build 5,000 hospitals in Libya? Do you think they would still “hate us for our freedom”, and would want to kill us?

What if instead of encouraging Saudi Arabia to bomb Yemen, and supplying them with target information and the weapons used to bomb Yemen into oblivion, we used some of the 1.5 trillion to irrigate land so they did not have to import all their food. Would they hate us as they do now for using drones to kill innocent people in their country, for supporting brutal dictators in their country, for giving those dictators the weapons to keep Yemenis “in their place”, and for supporting Saudi Arabia’s massive bombing of their country?

And finally, we are able to find the money to “bomb” groups in Syria, but cannot find the money to help feed and supply the people of Syria, in one biggest humanitarian crises in the world. We continue our insane policy of using drones in Pakistan, which is causing anti-American hatred in one of the largest nations on the planet and armed with nuclear weapons, while China quietly agreed to build a gas pipeline that will link Iran with energy starved Pakistan. The gas pipeline will cost about $2 billion and China has agreed to pay for 85% of the project and it is to be called “the Peace Pipeline”.

We kill; they build.

Let’s try sanity for a change.

 

Joe Clifford lives in Rhode Island and has written a regular column for an online newspaper and has contributed many articles to various RI newspapers. His articles deal almost exclusively with American Foreign policy but ventures into other (more…)

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Decline and Fall of the United States

April 22, 2015

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I just went to New York and back in a day to tape the premier episode of a new Sunday political talk show that will begin airing in some weeks on Al Jazeera. It was a debate on war, and I took the abolish-it position. So, look forward to an alternative to the normal Sunday political viewing. Here’s something I wrote prior to the taping:

The Decline and Fall of the United States

Here’s text and video from my recent event in Baltimore:

And the Slow Parade of Fears

And text and video from my recent event in Detroit (in two parts):

War: It’s Human Nature only if Collective Suicide is Natural

Peace: More Normal and Wonderful Than We Think

More recent work:

David Swanson Discusses Wikileaks Sony/State Department Claims on RT International

Getting the Cure Right for a Sick Democracy

I Just Asked Erik Prince To Stop Bribing Politicians

Blackwater Employees to Prison Today, Their Boss Honored Guest at UVA Wednesday

Talk Nation Radio: Karen Dolan on the Criminalization of Poverty

Talk Nation Radio: Sheila Carapico: Stop the Saudi (and U.S.) War on Yemen

Drone Victims Take Germany to Court for Abetting U.S. Murders

Oh Hell, Hillary

To End Government Spying, Stop Buying Stuff

Locals Protest, Sabotage U.S. Navy Base Construction in Desert in Sicily

The Video That Could Indict the Pentagon for Murder

Talk Nation Radio: NYU Students on Hiring a War Criminal to Teach Human Rights Law

Lower Drinking Age, Raise Killing Age

Check out the progress at WorldBeyondWar.org:

Actually, we want anyone anywhere in the world to sign their name as supporting the ending of all war — including you if you haven’t signed yet.

Individuals sign here.

Organizations sign here.

Then please forward this email, especially to people who live very far from you, and ask them to forward it too!

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Noam Chomsky: The Major Crime of This Millennium Is the US Invasion of Iraq

April 21, 2015

Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)
Prof. Noam Chomsky, linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist and activist. (photo: Va Shiva)

By RT

20 April 15

 

ajor American media organizations diligently parrot what US officials want the public to know about global affairs, historian Noam Chomsky told RT. To US leaders, any news outlet that “does not repeat the US propaganda system is intolerable,” he said.

The culpability of the West – namely the United States – for world affairs, such as the Ukrainian conflict or tensions with Iran, is another idea that is not permissible in leading American media, Chomsky said, adding that world opinion does not matter when that opinion counters US strategy.

“The West means the United States and everyone else that goes along,” he said.“What’s called the international community in the United States is the United States and anyone who happens to be going along with it. Take, say, for example, the question of Iran’s right to carry out its current nuclear policies, whatever they are. The standard line is that the international community objects to this. Who is the international community? What the United States determines it to be.”

He added that, “any reader of [George] Orwell would be perfectly familiar with this. But it continues virtually without comment.”

Chomsky’s remarks came this week just before a congressional hearing that was officially titled ‘Confronting Russia’s Weaponization of Information.’ Of the meeting, House Foreign Affairs Committee chair Ed Royce said, “The Russian media is now dividing societies abroad and, in fact, weaponizing information.”

The social philosopher and MIT professor said, “if there were any imaginable possibility of honesty,” Rep. Royce could be talking about the American media. He pointed to a recent New York Times story that discussed reasons not to trust Iran amid the tentative agreement between Tehran and Washington, along with other major global powers, over the former’s nuclear ambitions.

“The most interesting one is the charge that Iran is destabilizing the Middle East because it’s supporting militias which have killed American soldiers in Iraq,” Chomsky told RT’s Alexey Yaroshevsky.

“That’s kind of as if, in 1943, the Nazi press had criticized England because it was destabilizing Europe for supporting partisans who were killing German soldiers. In other words, the assumption is, when the United States invades, it kills a couple hundred thousand people, destroys the country, elicits sectarian conflicts that are now tearing Iraq and the region apart, that’s stabilization. If someone resists that tact, that’s destabilization.”

Chomsky also related American media propaganda to recent moves by US President Barack Obama to reach out to Cuba, which the US has long considered a state sponsor of terror while instituting a harsh embargo regime. Chomsky said top American media outlets go to great lengths to pit Cuba — and not the US — as the isolated party in the Western Hemisphere.

“The facts are very clear. This is a free and open society, so we have access to internal documents at an extraordinary level. You can’t claim you don’t know. It’s not like a totalitarian state where there are no records. We know what happened. The Kennedy administration launched a very serious terrorist war against Cuba. It was one of the factors that led to the missile crisis. It was a war that was planned to lead to an invasion in October 1962, which Cuba and Russia presumably knew about. It’s now assumed by scholarship that that’s one of the reasons for the placement of the missiles. That war went on for years. No mention of it is permissible [in the US]. The only thing you can mention is that there were some attempts to assassinate [Fidel] Castro. And those can be written off as ridiculous CIA shenanigans. But the terrorist war itself was very serious.”

Obama has changed course on Cuban policy not for reasons pursuant to freedom or democracy, as is peddled in the US media, Chomsky said.

“There is no noble gesture, just Obama’s recognition that the United States is practically being thrown out of the hemisphere because of its isolation on this topic,” he added. “But you can’t discuss that [in the US]. It’s all public information, nothing secret, all available in public documents, but undiscussable. Like the idea — and you can’t contemplate the idea — that when the US invades another country and the other resists, it’s not the resistors who are committing the crime, it’s the invaders.”

As for international law, Chomsky said it “can work up to the point where the great powers permit it.” Beyond that, it is meaningless. Thus, is international law an illusion if the US picks and chooses — while exempting itself — from what is enforced?

“To say that [international law is] dead implies it was ever alive. Has it ever been alive?” he said, citing US stonewalling of the world court’s demand in the 1980s that the US halt its war on Nicaragua and provide extensive reparations for damage done.

“International law cannot be enforced against great powers,” he said. “There’s no enforcement mechanism. Take a look at the International Criminal Court, who has investigated and sentenced African leaders who the US doesn’t like. The major crime of this millennium, certainly, is the US invasion of Iraq. Could that be brought to the international court? I mean, it’s beyond inconceivable.”

Chomsky said the so-called American Dream and US democracy are in “very serious decline,” as social mobility is among the worst among the richest nations. He added that, formally, the US retains a democratic veneer, but actual manifestations of democracy are dwindling.

“Basically, most of the population is disenfranchised,” he said, referring to public polling. “Their representatives pay no attention to their opinion. That’s roughly the lowest three-quarters on the bottom of the income scale. Move up the scale, you get a little more influence. At the top, essentially policy is made. That’s plutocracy, not democracy.”

 

Khamenei: US Invented Nuclear Myth; Iran Will Never Invade Another Country

April 21, 2015
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Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, the supreme leader of Iran, has said once again that his nation has no desire for a nuclear weapon and would never preemptively invade or attack a foreign nation. (Photo: AP file)

The clerical leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, gave a speech on Sunday in which he urged that Iran maintain its military readiness in order to fend off any hostile invasion or attack. But, he said, “Iran has never invaded a country and never will.” He also called US charges that Iran is seeking a nuclear weapon a “myth” and “propaganda.”

Whatever else is wrong with the Islamic Republic of Iran, you have to admit that it is refreshing for a country’s leader to make such a pledge. No American politician could even run for election on such a platform, of “no conventional military attack on another country.” American politicians are always talking about keeping all options open or ‘on the table’, by which they mean that Washington might at any moment take it into its head suddenly to go to aggressive war against another country, even though that country had not attacked the US. The illegal invasion and occupation of Iraq in 2003 was only the most recent and dramatic such attack.

Iran has a small military budget, about $10 bn., on the order of that of Norway or Singapore. It has no air force to speak of. The US military budget is roughly 80 times that of Iran.

Khamenei said that Iran has a no first strike policy and is no danger to its immediate neighbors (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Turkmenistan, Azerbaijan, Armenia, Turkey, Iraq, and Kuwait), much less to countries further away (he may be referring to Israel and Yemen).

What about Khamenei’s claim that Iran hasn’t invaded another country? He probably meant the the Islamic Republic has launched no wars of aggression since its founding in 1979. This is true. In 1980 Iraq invaded Iran. Iran fought the invaders to a standstill and ultimately made peace, making no effort to occupy Iraqi territory.

Iran did invade Herat in Afghanistan in the 1850s, but Iranians argue that Herat had long been part of the Iranian empire and so Iran was just recovering what was theirs. Before that, Iran invaded Iraq in 1785 and took Basra. So it has been a long time.

Critics of Iran will complain that it does support Hizbullah and the al-Assad regime in Syria and the Houthis in Yemen. This is true, though the latter has been exaggerated. But offering an ally strategic advice or logistical help on demand is different from invading with tanks.

Those who only read the US press on Iran’s civilian nuclear enrichment program may be surprised to see Khamenei deny that Iran wants a nuclear bomb. But he has been saying this all along. He said in 2006 of US criticisms of his country:

“Their other issue is [their assertion] that Iran seeks [a] nuclear bomb. It is an irrelevant and wrong statement, it is a sheer lie. We do not need a nuclear bomb. We do not have any objectives or aspirations for which we will need to use a nuclear bomb. We consider using nuclear weapons against Islamic rules. We have announced this openly. We think imposing the costs of building and maintaining nuclear weapons on our nation is unnecessary. Building such weapons and their maintenance are costly. By no means we deem it right to impose these costs on the people. We do not need those weapons. Unlike the Americans who want to rule the world with force, we do not claim to control the world and therefore do not need a nuclear bomb.”

Khamenei has repeated this stance numerous times, but the US media can’t seem to hear him say it. He considers nuclear bombs to be against Islamic law, since they kill large numbers of innocent non-combatants, including women and children, when deployed. Of course, he could be lying. But that is sort of like the Pope maintaining a condom factory in the basement of the Vatican. You have to ask yourself, why ban something religiously that you intend to promote in actuality? If the contradiction became known, it would damage the religious leader’s credibility.

According to the BBC Monitoring translation of Khamenei.ir , Khamenei said:

“Iran not “a threat” to any country

The Islamic Republic is not a threat to any country. We have never been a threat even to our neighbours, let alone to distant countries. Our contemporary history clearly shows this. Even when some of our neighbours treated us not in a neighbourly manner, we showed restraint. Iran has never invaded a country and never will. The fake myth of nuclear weapons has been devised by America and then Europe and some other bootlickers in order to portray the Islamic Republic as a threat.”

Khamenei went on to point out that it is the USA that has illegally launched wars of aggression in the Middle East, along with Israel. Iran, he said, never has.

I think he was pointing to Iraq when he said, “Even in some cases it has graciously forgiven the bad attitude of its neighbours. Insecurity is coming from the direction of unleashed powers which take over everywhere.”

As for Yemen, while Iran stands accused of giving military aid to the rebel Houthi movement, that charge is not easy to prove. It seems unlikely that the Houthis needed Iran to launch their protest movement. It is Saudi Arabia and its allies, including the USA, who have launched an attack on the Houthis even though they did not attack Saudi Arabia. Khamenei in his speech said that Iran is merely helping countries that have been attacked.

Today, these heartbreaking events are happening in Yemen and the Americans support the tyrant. The West supports the tyrant. Insecurity is coming from their direction. It is them who make countries unsafe, and make the environment insecure for people to live in. It is them who bring insecurity. The Islamic Republic of Iran considers security as the biggest divine gift both for itself and others and stands up for its security and defends it.”

h/t to BBC Monitoring for translations.

 

Juan Cole teaches Middle Eastern and South Asian history at the University of Michigan. His new book, The New Arabs: How the Millennial Generation Is Changing the Middle East (Simon and Schuster), will officially be published July 1st. He is also the author of Engaging the Muslim World and Napoleon’s Egypt: Invading the Middle East (both Palgrave Macmillan). He has appeared widely on television, radio and on op-ed pages as a commentator on Middle East affairs, and has a regular column at Salon.com. He has written, edited, or translated 14 books and has authored 60 journal articles. His weblog on the contemporary Middle East is Informed Comment.

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Child poverty in the U.S. is among the worst in the developed world

April 16, 2015

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By Christopher Ingraham October 29, 2014

A man walks with two children outside the Poverello House homeless shelter Thursday, July 31, 2014, in Fresno, Calif. (AP Photo/Scott Smith)
The United States ranks near the bottom of the pack of wealthy nations on a measure of child poverty, according to a new report from UNICEF. Nearly one third of U.S. children live in households with an income below 60 percent of the national median income in 2008 – about $31,000 annually.

In the richest nation in the world, one in three kids live in poverty. Let that sink in.

The UNICEF report pegs the poverty definition to the 2008 median to account for the decline in income since then – incomes fell after the great recession, so measuring this way is an attempt to assess current poverty relative to how things stood before the downturn.

With 32.2 percent of children living below this line, the U.S. ranks 36th out of the 41 wealthy countries included in the UNICEF report. By contrast, only 5.3 percent of Norwegian kids currently meet this definition of poverty.
More alarmingly, the share of U.S. children living in poverty has actually increased by 2 percentage points since 2008. Overall, 24.2 million U.S. children were living in poverty in 2012, reflecting an increase of 1.7 million children since 2008. “Of all newly poor children in the OECD and/or EU, about a third are in the United States,” according to the report. On the other hand, 18 countries were actually able to reduce their childhood poverty rates over the same period.

The report finds considerable differences in childhood poverty at the state level. New Mexico, where more than four in ten kids live in poverty, has the highest overall rate at 41.9 percent. In New Hampshire only one in eight kids lives in a poor household, the lowest rate in the nation. Poverty rates are generally higher in Southern states, and lower in New England and Northern Plains states.

Map: Childhood poverty rates, by state
“Between 2006 and 2011, child poverty increased in 34 states,” according to the UNICEF report. “The largest increases were found in Nevada, Idaho, Hawaii and New Mexico, all of which have relatively small numbers of children. Meanwhile Mississippi and North Dakota saw notable decreases.”
There are some limits to the usefulness of benchmarking poverty in relation to a country’s median income. The median income in the U.S. is going to be very different than that in say, Estonia. So it means something very different to say that a given person is making 60 percent of median income in the former as opposed to the latter.

It’s also important to note that a household income of $30,000 puts you in roughly the richest 1.23 percent of the world’s population. The report doesn’t deal with the type of extreme poverty you see in the poor and developing worlds, where roughly 2.7 billion people are trying to get by on less than two dollars per day.

But UNICEF’s relative poverty measure is still useful in that economies are relative, too. Thirty thousand dollars goes much, much further in Eritrea than it does in Kansas. And while you might be able to get by – barely – raising a family on $30,000 in rural Kansas, try doing that in any of the nation’s pricey urban and suburban areas, where many of America’s poor actually live.

For the richest country in the world to also have one of the world’s highest childhood poverty rates is, frankly, an embarrassment. Like our high infant mortality rate, child poverty in the U.S. reflects the failure of policymakers to seriously grapple with the challenges facing the most vulnerable members of society.
Christopher Ingraham writes about politics, drug policy and all things data. He previously worked at the Brookings Institution and the Pew Research Center.

What if US & UN Sanctioned Israel Over Its Nukes the Way They Did Iran?

April 4, 2015

Benjamin Netanyahu giving speech about danger of Iran's nuclear program at UN. (photo: Don Emmart/AFP/Getty)
Benjamin Netanyahu giving speech about danger of Iran’s nuclear program at UN. (photo: Don Emmart/AFP/Getty)

By Juan Cole, Informed Comment

04 April 15

 

here is a lot of talk about nuclear proliferation in the Middle East and the ways in which an Iranian bomb would provoke Saudi Arabia and others to acquire nuclear warheads of their own.

But for decades, the primary impetus to a nuclear arms race in the region has been Israel, which probably had an atom bomb by about 1970. It was helped behind the scenes by France and Britain– which actively proliferated nuclear weapons to Israel.

It was Israel’s bomb that, in part, impelled Iraq to go for broke. Iraq’s nuclear weapons program of the 1980s in turn convinced some in Iran that Iran needed at least a nuclear break-out capacity if two of its enemies were going to have bombs. Since Israel destroyed an Iraqi light water reactor, OSIRAK, in 1981 (which had been built by the French and could not easily have been used to produce fissile material), when Iran began its experiments in uranium enrichment, it kept them secret lest Tel Aviv send out F-14s.

Ideally, the whole Middle East should be an atomic bomb- free region. The area has enough horrible problems without a weapon of mass destruction. But the UN Security Council has treated Israel very differently from the way they treated Iran. For centuries, Europeans have been held to different standards and different rules than have peoples of the Global South. Israel as a “European” country was allowed to get a nuclear bomb, indeed was helped to do so, and no sanctions were ever applied to it. Iran was targeted for economic warfare just for having an enrichment program.

Now that Iran is being constrained by a strict inspections regime and limitations on centrifuges from ever weaponizing its civilian enrichment program, what if the United Nations Security Council turned its attention to decommissioning Israel’s stock of several hundred warheads?

If Britain, France, Russia, China and the USA decided Israel would have to give up its nukes, as a means of ensuring non-proliferation in the Middle East, how would they proceed?

On analogy from the sanctions imposed on Iran, we could see the UNSC pass a resolution demanding that Israel sign the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (as Iran has).

Then they demand that Israel allow inspectors in to Dimona.

Then they demand that Israel destroy its stockpile of atomic bombs.

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu loudly and cheekily defies the world body, the UNSC moves to the next stage.

The European Union, with which Israel does a third of its trade, begins boycotting Israeli-made goods and Israeli companies.

China joins suit, drastically reducing its imports from Israel and curtailing contracts to Israeli firms.

As Netanyahu’s defiance grows louder and more strident, and he begins threatening the five permanent members of the Security Council, the UNSC takes a dim view of his bluster.

Israel is kicked off the SWIFT bank exchange and excluded from the alternative Chinese one. Israeli foreign trade plummets as sellers find it impossible to receive shekels for the goods they send to Israel. It is difficult to buy Israeli products because there is no easy way to pay Israeli businesses for them. Buyers turn to other producers of similar products in other countries.

Israeli exports are cut in half. The country is forced to trade with some poor Asian and African countries that do no care about the UNSC, but must barter for their inferior made goods.

The shekel falls from roughly $.25 to only an American dime. The Israeli middle class can suddenly no longer afford to vacation in Europe or the United States. Egyptian and Turkish beaches are off limits because those countries joined the boycott, hoping for a denuclearized Middle East.

Haaretz runs an editorial pointing out that Israel has an American nuclear security umbrella and asking why the country needs its own stockpile.

Netanyahu stages a photo op standing atop stacked nuclear warheads, waving a cowboy hat above his head in imitation of Slim Pickens in the film, “Dr. Strangelove.”

The shekel falls to five cents against the dollar. Israelis find it difficult to afford some important medicines because of their high cost, and some patients die as a result. Many Israelis begin moving to France, Germany and Sweden, tired of trying to scrape a living together in an increasingly dilapidated Tel Aviv, beset with potholes and crumbling buildings.

In new elections, Isaac Herzog becomes prime minister and announces a willingness to negotiate with President Michelle Obama’s Secretary of State.

The Security Council insists that Israel sign the NPT and accept wide-ranging and surprise IAEA inspections. The destruction of its stockpile of atomic bombs begins.

Other Middle East states, having seen what happened to Iran and Israel, affirm that they have no interest in nuclear weaponry. Most now in any case get their power not from reactors but from solar farms, which generate electricity at 2 cents a kilowatt hour. Cheap power and fewer military expenses have made them prosperous. They implore Israel to join their ranks and also to accept the 2002 Arab League peace plan.

_______________

Comment: We must be freed from the most imminent threat of nuclear holocaust (by accidents, mishaps, failures, terrorism, wars) by treating every country equal (free zones in the Middle East, South Asia, East Asia, Europe, and America. We need the natural cyclical Indra-net culture (cultivation with 5 blisses: awakening/freedom/equality/love/peace) to stop the artificial uni-directional pyramidal civilization (urbanization for matter/power with moneyism/militarism/me-ism with 5 calamities: delusion/bondage/discrimination/exploitation/extermination).

 

Your Money at War Everywhere

March 27, 2015
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Military strategy? Who needs it? The madness of funding the Pentagon to “cover the globe”

‘Current levels of Pentagon spending may not be able to support current defense strategy,’ admits Hartung, but the answer to this problem is the simple one right before our eyes: ‘cut the money and change the strategy.’ (Image: Hawaii Independent)

President Obama and Senator John McCain, who have clashed on almost every conceivable issue, do agree on one thing: the Pentagon needs more money. Obama wants to raise the Pentagon’s budget for fiscal year 2016 by $35 billion more than the caps that exist under current law allow.  McCain wants to see Obama his $35 billion and raise him $17 billion more. Last week, the House and Senate Budget Committees attempted to meet Obama’s demands by pressing to pour tens of billions of additional dollars into the uncapped supplemental war budget.

What will this new avalanche of cash be used for? A major ground war in Iraq? Bombing the Assad regime in Syria? A permanent troop presence in Afghanistan?  More likely, the bulk of the funds will be wielded simply to take pressure off the Pentagon’s base budget so it can continue to pay for staggeringly expensive projects like the F-35 combat aircraft and a new generation of ballistic missile submarines.  Whether the enthusiastic budgeteers in the end succeed in this particular maneuver to create a massive Pentagon slush fund, the effort represents a troubling development for anyone who thinks that Pentagon spending is already out of hand.

Mind you, such funds would be added not just to a Pentagon budget already running at half-a-trillion dollars annually, but to the actual national security budget, which is undoubtedly close to twice that.  It includes items like work on nuclear weapons tucked away at the Department of Energy, that Pentagon supplementary war budget, the black budget of the Intelligence Community, and war-related expenditures in the budgets of the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Homeland Security.

Despite the jaw-dropping resources available to the national security state, Joint Chiefs of Staff Chair General Martin Dempsey recently claimed that, without significant additional infusions of cash, the U.S. military won’t be able to “execute the strategy” with which it has been tasked. As it happens, Dempsey’s remark unintentionally points the way to a dramatically different approach to what’s still called “defense spending.”  Instead of seeking yet more of it, perhaps it’s time for the Pentagon to abandon its costly and counterproductive military strategy of “covering the globe.”

A Cold War Strategy for the Twenty-First Century

Even to begin discussing this subject means asking the obvious question: Does the U.S. military have a strategy worthy of the name?  As President Dwight D. Eisenhower put it in his farewell address in 1961, defense requires a “balance between cost and hoped for advantage” and “between the clearly necessary and the comfortably desirable.”  Eisenhower conveniently omitted a third category: things that shouldn’t have been done in the first place — on his watch, for instance, the CIA’s coups in Iran and Guatemala that overthrew democratic governments or, in our century, the Bush administration’s invasion and occupation of Iraq.  But Eisenhower’s underlying point holds. Strategy involves making choices.  Bottom line: current U.S. strategy fails this test abysmally.

Despite the obvious changes that have occurred globally since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War, the U.S. military is still expected to be ready to go anywhere on Earth and fight any battle.  The authors of the Pentagon’s key 2014Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), for instance, claimed that its supposedly “updated strategy” was focused on “twenty-first-century defense priorities.” Self-congratulatory rhetoric aside, however, the document outlined an all-encompassing global military blueprint whose goals would have been familiar to any Cold War strategist of the latter half of the previous century. With an utter inability to focus, the QDR claimed that the U.S. military needed to be prepared to act in Europe, the Middle East, North Africa, South Asia, the Asia-Pacific, and Latin America. In addition, plans are now well underway to beef up the Pentagon’s ability to project power into the melting Arctic as part of a global race for resources brewing there.

Being prepared to go to war on every continent but Antarctica means that significant reductions in the historically unprecedented, globe-spanning network of military bases Washington set up in the Cold War and after will be limited at best. Where changes happen, they will predictably be confined largely to smaller facilities rather than large operating bases.  A planned pullout from three bases in the United Kingdom, for instance, will only mean sending most of the American personnel stationed on them to other British facilities.  As the Associated Press noted recently, the Pentagon’s base closures in Europe involve mostly “smaller bases that were remnants of the Cold War.” While the U.S. lost almost all its bases in Iraq and has dismantled many of its bases in Afghanistan, the Pentagon’s base structure in the Greater Middle East is still remarkably strong and its ability to maintain or expand the U.S. troop presence in both Iraq and Afghanistan shouldn’t be underestimated.

In addition to maintaining its huge network of formal bases, the Pentagon is also planning to increase what it calls its “rotational” presence: training missions, port visits, and military exercises.  In these areas, if anything, its profile is expanding, not shrinking.  U.S. Special Forces operatives were, for instance, deployed to 134 nations, or almost 70% of the countries in the world, in fiscal year 2014. So even as the size and shape of the American military footprint undergoes some alteration, the Pentagon’s goal of global reach, of being at least theoretically more or less everywhere at once, is being maintained.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration has stepped up its use of drones, Special Forces, and “train and equip” programs that create proxy armies to enforce Washington’s wishes. In this way, it hopes to produce a new way of war designed to reduce the Pentagon’s reliance on large boots-on-the-ground operations, without affecting its strategic stretch.

This approach is, however, looking increasingly dubious. Barely a decade into its drone wars, for example, it’s already clear that a drone-heavy approach simply doesn’t work as planned.  As Andrew Cockburn notes in his invaluable new book, Kill Chain: The Rise of the High-Tech Assassins, a study based on the U.S. military’s own internal data found that targeted assassinations carried out by drones resulted in an increase in attacks on U.S. forces.  As for the broader political backlash generated by such strikes in Pakistan, Yemen, and elsewhere, it’s clear enough by now that they act as effective recruitment tools for terror organizations among a fearful and traumatized population livingunder their constant presence.

At a theoretical level, the drone may seem the perfect weapon for a country committed to “covering the globe” and quite literally waging war anywhere on the planet at any time.  In reality, it seems to have the effect of spreading chaos and conflict, not snuffing it out. In addition, drones are only effective in places where neither air defenses nor air forces are available; that is, the backlands of the planet.  Otherwise, as weapons, they are sitting ducks.

A Pentagon for All Seasons

Washington’s strategy documents are filled with references to non-military approaches to security, but such polite rhetoric is belied in the real world by a striking over-investment in military capabilities at the expense of civilian institutions. The Pentagon budget is 12 times larger than the budgets for the State Department and the Agency for International Development combined.  As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has noted, it takes roughly the same number of personnel to operate just one of the Navy’s 11 aircraft carrier task forces as there are trained diplomats in the State Department.  Not surprisingly, such an imbalance only increases the likelihood that, in the face of any crisis anywhere, diplomatic alternatives will take a back seat, while a military response will be the option of choice, in fact, the only serious option considered.

In the twenty-first century, with its core budget still at historically high levels, the Pentagon has also been expanding into areas like “security assistance” — the arming, training, and equipping of foreign military and police forces.  In the post-9/11 years, for instance, the Pentagon has developed a striking range of military and police aid programs of the kind that have traditionally been funded and overseen by the State Department. According to data provided by the Security Assistance Monitor, a project designed to systematically track U.S. military and police aid, the Pentagon now delivers arms and training through 18 separate programs that provide assistance to the vast majority of the world’s armed forces.

Having so many ways to deliver aid is handy for the Pentagon, but a nightmare for members of Congress or the public trying to keep track of them all.  Seven of the programs are new initiatives authorized last year alone. More than 160 nations, or 82% of all countries, now receive some form of arms and training from the United States.

In a similar fashion, in these years the Pentagon has moved with increasing aggressiveness into the field of humanitarian aid.  In their new book Mission Creep, Gordon Adams and Shoon Murray describe the range of non-military activities it now routinely carries out. These include “drilling wells, building roads, constructing schools and clinics, advising national and local governments, and supplying mobile services of optometrists, dentists, doctors, and veterinarians overseas.”  The specific examples they cite underscore the point: “Army National Guardsmen drilling wells in Djibouti; the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers building school houses in Azerbaijan; and U.S. Navy Seabees building a post-natal care facility in Cambodia.”

If one were to choose a single phrase to explain why General Dempsey thinks the Pentagon is starved for funds, it would be “too many missions.”  No amount of funding could effectively deal with the almost endless shopping list of global challenges the U.S. military has mandated itself to address, most of which do not have military solutions in any case.

The answer is not more money (though that may not stop Congress and the president from dumping billions more into the Pentagon’s slush fund).  It’s a far more realistic strategy — or put another way, maybe it’s a strategy of any sort in which the only operative word is not “more.”

The Pentagon’s promotion of an open-ended strategy isn’t just a paper tiger of a problem.  It has life-and-death consequences and monetary ones, too.  When President Obama’s critics urge him to bomb Syria, or put more ground troops in Iraq, or arm and train the security forces in Ukraine, they are fully in line with the Pentagon’s expansive view of the military’s role in the world, a role that would involve taxpayer dollars in even more staggering quantities.

Attempting to maintain a genuine global reach will, in the end, prove far more expensive than the wars the United States is currently fighting.  This year’s administration request for Iraq War 3.0 and Syria War 1.0, both against the Islamic State (IS), was a relatively modest $5.8 billion, or roughly 1% of the resources currently available to the Department of Defense.  As yet not even John McCain is suggesting anything on the scale of the Bush administration’s intervention in Iraq, which peaked at over 160,000 troops and costsignificantly more than a trillion dollars.  By comparison, the Obama administration’s bombing campaign against IS, supplemented by the dispatch of roughly 3,000 troops, remains, as American operations of the twenty-first century go, a relatively modest undertaking — at least by Pentagon standards.  There are reasons to oppose U.S. military intervention in Iraq and Syria based on the likely outcomes, but so far intervention in those nations has not strained the Pentagon’s massive budget.

As for Ukraine, even if the administration were to change course and decide to provide weapons to the government there, it would still not make a dent in its proposed $50 billion war budget, much less in the Pentagon’s proposed $534 billion base budget.

Using the crises in Ukraine, Iraq, and Syria as arguments for pumping up Pentagon spending is a political tactic of the moment, not a strategic necessity.  The only real reason to bust the present already expansive budget caps — besides pleasing the arms industry and its allies in Congress — is to attempt to entrench the sort of ad hoc military-first global policy being promoted as the American way for decades to come.  Every crisis, every development not pleasing to Washington anywhere on Earth is, according to this school of thought, what the Pentagon must be “capable” of dealing with. What’s needed, but completely dismissed in Washington, is of course a radical rethinking of American priorities.

General Dempsey and his colleagues may be right.  Current levels of Pentagon spending may not be able to support current defense strategy.  The answer to this problem is right before our eyes: cut the money and change the strategy.  That would be acting in the name of a conception of national security that was truly strategic.

William D. Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex (Nation Books, 2011). He is the co-editor of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War (Paradigm Press, 2008).

 


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