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Opinion from a Libertarian ViewPoint

Posts Tagged ‘Military Industrial Complex’

Tomgram: Mandy Smithberger, Bailing Out the War State | TomDispatch

Posted by M. C. on May 5, 2020

In fact, continuing to prioritize the U.S. military will only further weaken the country’s public health system. As a start, simply to call up doctors and nurses in the military reserves, as even Secretary of Defense Mark Esper has pointed out, would hurt the broader civilian response to the pandemic. After all, in their civilian lives many of them now work at domestic hospitals and medical centers deluged by Covid-19 patients.

http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/176696/tomgram%3A_mandy_smithberger%2C_bailing_out_the_war_state/#more

Posted by Mandy Smithberger

In this century, the war-fighting performance of the U.S. military has proven woeful indeed and both the Pentagon high command and key Trump administration officials have evidently been incapable of drawing obvious conclusions from that fact. Or think of it another way: even the president who can’t tell Lysol from a helpful prescription drug has noticed that something is truly wrong with America’s war in Afghanistan. This should have long been obvious. After all, almost 19 years after the U.S. invaded that country on a mission to destroy the Taliban, as well as al-Qaeda, and “liberate” Afghans, thousands of American troops, advisers, and contractors (though officially being drawn down) remain there, along with striking amounts of U.S. air power. And, of course, Washington is still embroiled in a conflict with the Taliban, which now controls ever more of the Afghan countryside, as well as other insurgent groups, including a spinoff of the Islamic State. (Meanwhile, spin-offs from the original al-Qaeda operate across significant parts of the Greater Middle East and Africa.)

Now, add into that equation the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s clear that the coronavirus is spreading from Iran into poverty-stricken Afghanistan via hundreds of thousands of Afghans heading home from that country into crowded cities lacking the most basic health care or even hot water and soap for hand-washing. In other words, as I’ve written elsewhere, the U.S. military is now certain to find itself embroiled in pandemic wars that could make events on the Covid-19-ridden aircraft carrier USS Roosevelt look like next to nothing. Stranger yet, the “very stable genius” who often seems to grasp so little has, NBC News reports, grasped this and has been pushing his national security team daily “to pull all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan amid concerns about a major coronavirus outbreak in the war-torn country.” By now, you probably have some sense of what it might be like to have Donald Trump push you daily.

Yet hand it to the Pentagon and crew: they haven’t agreed to his request. Instead, his “military advisers” have reportedly pointed out to him, in true Trumpian fashion (via an analogy from hell), that “if the U.S. pulls troops out of Afghanistan because of the coronavirus, by that standard the Pentagon would also have to withdraw from places like Italy.” Gasp!

Now, don’t misunderstand me: this country’s top military figures and national-security types may be hopeless when it comes to waging war successfully in the twenty-first century, but they’re by no means hopeless. They couldn’t be more skilled or more successful when it comes to getting themselves and the rest of the military-industrial complex funded at levels that are historically mind-boggling. As TomDispatch regular and director of the Center for Defense Information at the Project On Government Oversight Mandy Smithberger points out so strikingly today, their skill in making use of this pandemic moment to ensure that funding flows ever more quickly and copiously into the complex is beyond compare. If America’s forever wars were funding ones, the winners would be instantly obvious. Tom

Beware the Pentagon’s Pandemic Profiteers
Hasn’t the Military-Industrial Complex Taken Enough of Our Money?
By Mandy Smithberger

At this moment of unprecedented crisis, you might think that those not overcome by the economic and mortal consequences of the coronavirus would be asking, “What can we do to help?” A few companies have indeed pivoted to making masks and ventilators for an overwhelmed medical establishment. Unfortunately, when it comes to the top officials of the Pentagon and the CEOs running a large part of the arms industry, examples abound of them asking what they can do to help themselves.

It’s important to grasp just how staggeringly well the defense industry has done in these last nearly 19 years since 9/11. Its companies (filled with ex-military and defense officials) have received trillions of dollars in government contracts, which they’ve largely used to feather their own nests. Data compiled by the New York Times showed that the chief executive officers of the top five military-industrial contractors received nearly $90 million in compensation in 2017. An investigation that same year by the Providence Journal discovered that, from 2005 to the first half of 2017, the top five defense contractors spent more than $114 billion repurchasing their own company stocks and so boosting their value at the expense of new investment.

To put this in perspective in the midst of a pandemic, the co-directors of the Costs of War Project at Brown University recently pointed out that allocations for the Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and the National Institutes of Health for 2020 amounted to less than 1% of what the U.S. government has spent on the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone since 9/11. While just about every imaginable government agency and industry has been impacted by the still-spreading coronavirus, the role of the defense industry and the military in responding to it has, in truth, been limited indeed. The highly publicized use of military hospital ships in New York City and Los Angeles, for example, not only had relatively little impact on the crises in those cities but came to serve as a symbol of just how dysfunctional the military response has truly been.

 

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C.R.E.A.M.: America’s Real Drug Dealers Work in the Military-Industrial Complex – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on March 9, 2020

I think quite credible, alleged involvement in the crack-cocaine epidemic’s spread in the 1980s – and more certainly, its toleration of drug-money-fueled right wing death squads that it backed in Central America at the time – why not compare the MIC to street corner drug gangs? What, honestly, is the moral difference between the two trades, besides the fact that one destroys individual lives whilst the other (the MIC) does that in spades, but also scuttles what’s left of the American (small “r”) republic.

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2020/03/08/c-r-e-a-m-americas-real-drug-dealers-work-in-the-military-industrial-complex/

Cash rules everything around me, C.R.E.A.M. get the money, dollar dollar bill, y’all! So rhymed Method Man, of the famed New York hip hop collective Wu Tang Clan, in 1993. Underprivileged denizens of a particularly rough and tumble, if forgotten, slice of my own forgotten borough of Staten Island, most of the street dudes turned rappers in the Clan had been legit low-level narcotics dealers and, at times, weapons-totting players in the infamous Park Hill and Stapleton housing projects just a couple years before this mega-hit track dropped.

In a bit of, albeit wholly characteristic, irony, young white hipsters continue to adore and champion the Wu Tang Clan (it’s not uncommon to see white undergrads at the University of Kansas – where I now live – sport their shirts) to this day, more than a quarter century after their debut album hit the airwaves. Method Man, perhaps the most recognizable mainstream face of the Wu, went on to star, from 2003-08, as fan-favorite Baltimore drug dealer Calvin “Cheese” Wagstaff in HBO’s critically acclaimed series “The Wire.” Incidentally, the show is also a cult-classic among the white hipster crowd (and, full disclosure, is one of my all-time favorites too).

I got to thinking about all this otherwise extraneous – if fascinating – New York hip hop lore, after mass (often fair) criticism of my last column here at Antiwar.com, “Happy Afghanistan Surrender Day,” flowed in this week. In one explanatory sense, it’s become increasingly clear to me that satire inevitably falls flat with many internet readers. Still, while a full reading of the piece ought to have made clear that I, too, am skeptical about the nature of, and longterm prospects for, President Trump’s “peace deal,” much of the more thoughtful critique was valid and worthy of author engagement.

More interestingly, since I run in certain left-oriented publishing and social media circles, most of the strongest opposition to my (I thought) cautious assertion that I “conceptually” support U.S. troop withdrawal, and (again, I thought) modest plea that antiwar critics not “make this critical moment all about bashing The Donald,” came from the very hipster-influenced crowd that reveres Wu Tang Clan and “The Wire.” So, when my scores of responses to these readers’ queries, as to why the Afghan War will likely go on, inevitably turned to explication of the power and influence of the American militarist national security state – military-industrial-complex (MIC) in simplified shorthand – my tangent-suited brain immediately connected the drug trade to the defense industry.

While I didn’t grow up in Wu Tang’s Park Hill section of Staten Island, and my neighborhood life didn’t quite resemble the cinematic drama of “The Wire,” I grew up just close enough – in proximity and time (the 1990s) – to remember the ubiquity of New York’s open-air drug markets. Allow me, then, to describe the forever war-prolonging MIC’s contemporary operations through the lens of a Staten Island, or Baltimore (as portrayed in “The Wire”) street corner.

From the top down, there’re the “suppliers” (of mass narcotics or weapons “product”) or “Kingpins,” running the whole show. In “The Wire,” these real powerbroker had cheeky street names like “Proposition Joe;” in real life Staten Island, monikers like those held by the long powerful brothers Harvey “Big Black,” and Anthony, “Nitty,” Christian – who, interestingly had alleged connections to the Wu Tang Clan. In the context of the forever wars, these big-time “shot-callers” carry such sobriquets as Boeing, Raytheon, and Honeywell – though it is only the CEOs and top executives of these defense contractors who truly qualify as Kingpins.

These bigwigs then employ mid- to high-level dealers to “hold weight” (slang for drugs) and do the neighborhood and corner-level dealing. In the world of the MIC, these are the well-compensated executives running the defense company. It helps, by the way, if these folks have previous military experience and can make their way, eventually, into government. For example, the West Point class of 1986, alone, has three former defense industry-connected representatives atop the Trump administration: Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, his close academy buddy Brian Bulatao (whom Pompeo made the CIA’s chief operating officer when he previously ran the agency), and Secretary of Defense (and longtime Boeing lobbyist) Mark Esper. Were this situation to unfold in Eastern Europe or West Africa, Americans might call that corruption.

It is nothing less than vital for the “weight-holders” to have a military and/or eventual Washington connection. That way, they can both seem “credible” to, and influence, the next analogous group in the trade: the drug “fiends,” or customers – in this case the US Government and a “tweaking” Congress that relies on defense jobs in their districts for public financial and electoral support. (Disturbingly, even otherwise antiwar and excessive defense spending opponent Bernie Sanders has, at times, equivocated over, or defended, the presence of the Air Force’s boondoggle F-35 fighter jet program in Vermont). Decade after decade, year after year, bipartisan super-majorities in Congress – representing, ostensibly, the US Government and People – willingly buy whatever the corporate corner-dealer has for sale…more every year in fact.

Now, to protect the drug “stash” – and particular street “real estate” – from rival dealers, the weight-holders need to hire, and surround themselves with, “muscle.” These rough characters often carry weapons and intimidatingly “hold court,” showing presence, on a given drug corner. Though a bit of a tougher analogy, one supposes that the common troopers and junior- to-mid-career military officers of the army, navy, air force, and marine corps, probably qualify as any presidential administration’s (and their MIC-owner’s) musclemen.

And, though, for officers, military salaries (and especially benefits) can be solid, neither the soldiers or gang members who “muscle-up” for the bosses are getting rich. For example, as the sociologist Sudhir Venkatesh described in his 2005 book, Gang Leader for a Day, most folks running or protecting drugs in Chicago earned barely more than minimum wage. Well, all the same, most of my troops killed in Iraq and Afghanistan sacrificed their lives for something approaching $30-40,000 a year.

Now, even the weight-holding and pushing dealers on the corner need advertisers, publicists even. These are the underage, often pre-pubescent, future players who stand a dozen meters or so up and down the avenue alternately hollering “5-0” (to warn of the approach of the, thus nicknamed, police) or the regularly rotating brand-names for that day’s drug product. In “The Wire,” almost too coincidentally, the slick brands hollered out by these young street kids had particularly martial overtones. A few of the famous drug trademarks yelled out in the show were “WMD!” and “Troop Surge!” Well, though the participants inevitably trade their baggy jeans and Timberland boots for thousand dollar tailored suits, the MIC also has such publicity men on their payroll. You know them as…lobbyists.

To maximize effect, in fact, many of these lobbyists – who sell their own brand of (more existentially deadly) “WMDs” to the US Government – are former generals and admirals from the military. Thanks to a fast-spinning and quite lucrative “revolving door” that seamlessly provides entry for retired flag officers into the defense industry, it is, in fact, increasingly difficult to parse out any real difference between the Pentagon and the corporate tycoons who equip them (at a generous profit margin, of course).

Drugs and high-tech weapons. Narcotics pushers and (what 1930s US Senators actually called) “Merchants of Death” in the gun-running defense industry. Really – what’s the difference? Should the remarkable similarities in these twin industries’ operations surprise us? I mean, given the CIA’s lengthy, I think quite credible, alleged involvement in the crack-cocaine epidemic’s spread in the 1980s – and more certainly, its toleration of drug-money-fueled right wing death squads that it backed in Central America at the time – why not compare the MIC to street corner drug gangs? What, honestly, is the moral difference between the two trades, besides the fact that one destroys individual lives whilst the other (the MIC) does that in spades, but also scuttles what’s left of the American (small “r”) republic.

It’s all sort of a pick-your-poison scenario at this point. In one sense, while I support Trump’s conceptual withdrawal plan and don’t think he’s uniquely bad on this particular conflict, the sale of Afghan “peace” (or more war) is scantly different from the peddling of a crack vial. Both offer little more than an illusory escape from reality. The death merchants on the street – whether Staten Island’s Park Hill Avenue or Washington’s K Street – both traffic in death, of body and soul.

All Americans – whether engaged or apathetic – are, by now, party to this forever war-profit-perpetuation system. It is a prison of sorts, for each of us. Wu Tang rapper Inspectah Deck seemed to recognize precisely this 27 odd years ago, when, in the second verse of “C.R.E.A.M.,” he opined that “as the world turns I learned life is hell, living in the world no different from a cell.”

As for me, I actually prefer the plain language and authenticity of the corner dealers. Both the defense industry and drug gangs push poison…but at least the latter is honest about it

Be seeing you

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The US Is the World Leader in Bio-Weapons Research, Production, and Use Against Mankind – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on February 21, 2020

All indications point to the fact that the most toxic, poisonous, and deadly viruses ever known are being created in labs around the world. In the U.S. think of Fort Detrick, Maryland, Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, Horn Island, Mississippi, Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, Vigo Ordinance Plant, Indiana, and many others.

And others like Plum Island.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/02/gary-d-barnett/the-u-s-is-the-world-leader-of-bio-weapons-research-production-and-use-against-mankind/

By

Those that prevent disease and expose virus creation are heroic, but those that create and purposely spread disease and virus are inhuman. Given the history of the United States government and its military industrial complex concerning biological and germ warfare, the use of these agents against large populations, and the desire to create agents that are race specific strains, these powerful entities have become compassionless purveyors of death to the innocent. Manmade viruses meant for warfare, whether for economic destruction, starvation, or mass death, are the workings of the truly evil among us. Predation at this level is relegated to those in power; a president for example, could give the order to wipe out millions due to his inability to control a problem he caused and perpetuated, and then lay blame on the victims.

Who would ever have believed that modern warfare could be more brutal, more torturous, more painful, and more harmful to innocents, especially children, than past atrocities committed in war. Memories of millions sent to their deaths fighting in trenches, cities obliterated by atomic bombs, entire countries destroyed, and millions purposely left to starve in order to appease some tyrant or elected “leader.” I once thought that nuclear war would signal the end of life as we know it, but considering modern warfare and technology, I now think that uncontrolled and deadly viruses may consume the world population, as one after another poisons are released as acts of hidden war. There can be no end to this madness, as any retaliation in kind will result in the spread of worldwide disease; all created by man.

The new Coronavirus, (2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) one in a line of many that were not just likely but most certainly produced by man in laboratories, is affecting almost exclusively the Chinese at this point. This has seemingly opened the floodgates to speculation as to its exact origin. This virus has unique characteristics that have happened before with SARS and MERS, and has genetic material that has never been identified, and is not tied to any animal or human known virus. This should be troubling to all, because if this is manmade, it was manufactured as a weapon of war. So who is responsible for its release in China? It is possible that this virus was created in China and was “accidentally” released into the population, but that does not sound credible at any level. Do any think that the Chinese government would create a Chinese race specific virus and release it in their country?

Interestingly, in the past, U.S. universities and NGOs went to China specifically to do illegal biological experimentation, and this was so egregious to Chinese officials, that forcible removal of these people was the result. Harvard University, one of the major players in this scandal, stole the DNA samples of hundreds of thousands of Chinese citizens, left China with those samples, and continued illegal bio-research in the U.S. It is thought that the U.S. military, which puts a completely different spin on the conversation, had commissioned the research in China at the time. This is more than suspicious.

The U.S. has, according to this article at Global Research, had a massive biological warfare program since at least the early 1940s, but has used toxic agents against this country and others since the 1860s. This is no secret, regardless of the propaganda spread by the government and its partners in criminal bio-weapon research and production.

As of 1999, the U.S. government had deployed its Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) arsenal against the Philippines, Puerto Rico, Vietnam, China, North Korea, Laos, Cambodia, Cuba, Haitian boat people, and our neighbor Canada according to this article at Counter Punch. Of course, U.S. citizens have been used as guinea pigs many times as well, and exposed to toxic germ agents and deadly chemicals by government. Keep in mind that this is a short list, as the U.S. is well known for also using proxies to spread its toxic chemicals and germ agents, such as happened in Iraq and Syria. Since 1999 there have been continued incidences of several different viruses, most of which are presumed to be manmade, including the current Coronavirus that is affecting China today.

There is also much evidence of the research and development of race-specific bio-warfare agents. This is very troubling. One would think, given the idiotic race arguments by post-modern Marxists, that this would consume the mainstream news, and any participants in these atrocious race-specific poisons would be outed at every level. That is not happening, but I believe it is due to obvious reasons, including government cover-up, hypocrisy at all levels, and leftist agenda driven objectives that would not gain ground with the exposure of this government-funded anti-race science.

I will say that it is not just the U.S. that is developing and producing bio-warfare agents and viruses, but many developed countries around the globe do so as well. But the United States, as is the case in every area of war and killing, is by far the world leader in its inhuman desire to be able to kill entire populations through biological and chemical warfare means. Because these agents are extremely dangerous and uncontrollable, and can spread wildly, the risk to not only isolated populations, but also the entire world is evident. Consider that a deadly virus created by the U.S. and used against another country was found out and verified, and in retaliation, that country or others decided to strike back with other toxic agents against America. Where would this end, and over time, how many billions could be affected in such a scenario?

All indications point to the fact that the most toxic, poisonous, and deadly viruses ever known are being created in labs around the world. In the U.S. think of Fort Detrick, Maryland, Pine Bluff Arsenal, Arkansas, Horn Island, Mississippi, Dugway Proving Ground, Utah, Vigo Ordinance Plant, Indiana, and many others. Think of the fascist partnerships between this government and the pharmaceutical industry. Think of the U.S. military installations positioned all around the globe. Nothing good can come from this, as it is not about finding cures for disease, or about discovering vaccines, but is done for one reason only, and that is for the purpose of bio-warfare for mass killing.

The drive to find biological weapons that will sicken and kill millions at a time is not only a travesty, but is beyond evil. This power is held by the few, but the potential victims of this madness include everyone on earth. How can such insanity at this level be allowed to continue? If any issue could ever unite the masses, governments participating in biological and germ warfare, race-specific killing, and creating viruses with the potential to affect disease and death worldwide, should cause many to stand together against it. The first step is to expose that governments, the most likely culprit being the U.S. government, are planting these viruses purposely to cause great harm. Once that is proven, the unbelievable risk to all will be known, and then people everywhere should put their divisiveness aside, stand together, and stop this assault on mankind.

“In vast laboratories in the Ministry of Peace, and in experimental stations, teams of experts are indefatigably at work searching for new and deadlier gases; or for soluble poisons capable of being produced in such quantities as to destroy the vegetation of whole continents; or for breeds of disease germs immunised against all possible antibodies.” ~ George Orwell – 1984

Additional notes: here, here, here, here, here and here.

Be seeing you

Lime Disease

 

 

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I Like Ike – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on January 18, 2020

The military industrial complex does not care to endanger its
gold-plated F-35 stealth aircraft and $13 billion apiece aircraft
carriers in a real war against real powers. Instead, the war party
likes little wars against weak opponents who can barely shoot back.
State-run TV networks thrill to such minor scraps with fancy headlines
and martial music. Think of the glorious little wars against Panama,
Grenada, Somalia, Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and Libya. Iran looks next.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/01/eric-margolis/i-like-ike/

Special for LewRockwell.com

“In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist.

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence—economic, political, even spiritual—is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.”

General Dwight D Eisenhower
Farewell address 1961

Congress just passed a near trillion dollar military budget at a time when the United States faces no evident state threats at home or abroad. Ike was right.

Illustrating Ike’s prescient warning, Brown University’s respected Watson Institute just released a major study which found that the so-called ‘wars on terror’ in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria and Pakistan have cost US taxpayers $6.4 trillion since they began in 2001.

The extensive study found that over 800,000 people have died as a result of these military operations, a third of them civilians. An additional 21 million civilians have been displaced by US military operations. According to the Pentagon, these US wars have so far cost each American taxpayer $7,623 – and that’s a very conservative estimate.

Most of this money has been quietly added to the US national debt of over $23 trillion. Wars on credit hide the true cost and pain from the public.

As General Eisenhower warned, military spending has engulfed the nation. A trillion annual military budget represents just about half the world’s military expenditures. The Pentagon, which I’ve visited numerous times, is bustling with activity as if the nation was on a permanent war footing.

The combined US intelligence budget of some $80 billion is larger than Russia’s total military budget of $63 billion. US troops, warplanes and naval vessels are stationed around the globe, including, most lately, across Africa. And yet every day the media trumpets new ‘threats’ to the US. Trump is sending more troops to the Mideast while claiming he wants to reduce America’s powerful military footprint there. Our military is always in search of new missions. These operations generate promotions and pay raises, new equipment and a reason for being.

Back in the day, the Republican Party of General Eisenhower was a centrist conservative’s party with a broad world view, dedicated to lower taxes and somewhat smaller government. It was led by the Rockefellers and educated Easterners with a broad world view and respect for tradition…

The more I listen to his words, the more I like Ike.

Be seeing you

 

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Trump Steps Back From the Edge. Neocons Rage Accordingly — Strategic Culture

Posted by M. C. on January 17, 2020

https://www.strategic-culture.org/news/2020/01/15/trump-steps-back-from-the-edge-neocons-rage-accordingly/

 Matthew Ehret

 

Trump’s response to the attack on two US military bases showcase a hopeful about face on a dark age agenda which many thought could lead nowhere but World War III in the immediate days following Soleimani’s murder on January 3.

Immediately after the Iranian counter-attacks occurred on Wednesday morning at the same hour of Soleimani’s assassination, Iran’s Foreign Minister stated: “Iran took & concluded proportionate measures in self-defence under Article 51 of the UN Charter targeting base from which cowardly armed attack against our citizens & senior officials were launched. We do not seek escalation or war, but will defend ourselves against any aggression.” Iran’s retribution was more moderate than many analysts imagined as fore notice was delivered to the Iraqi government 30 minutes before rockets were launched giving American military personnel in the bases ample time to seek shelter.

In Trump’s remarks the following day, the President stated: “Iran appears to be standing down, which is a good thing for all parties concerned and a very good thing for the world… ISIS is a natural enemy of Iran. The destruction of ISIS is good for Iran, and we should work together on this and other shared priorities.”

Although Trump’s speech characterized Iran as a “major supporter of terrorism” and Gen. Soleimani as a “top terrorist”, his assertion that a common interest exists between the USA and Iran in the combat of ISIS is a spectacular break from the neocon agenda. This break is also one of many in a long line of internal struggles emanating from the corridors of American power in the days since Soleimani’s murder. This includes the memo written to the Iraq government by William Seely, commanding general of the Iraq Task Force saying: “We respect your sovereign decision to order our departure.” Seely’s memo created a major crisis amongst the radical war hawks like Mark Esper and Mark Milley who raced to deny the memo’s validity.

Recent revelations published in the Wall Street Journal demonstrating the incredible back channel discussion set up by Trump through the Swiss embassy in Tehran in the hours after Solemenei’s murder also play into this “movement of sanity” within the USA.

The Paradox of America Resolved

This contradictory behaviour is undoubtedly not so confusing for leading figures among Eurasia’s intelligentsia who are not ignorant to the battle occurring within America between nationalists who genuinely wish to end “the forever wars” in the Middle East vs those Pax Americanists embedded throughout the neoconservative and neo-liberal establishments who would rather burn the earth than abandon their dark age ideology. Trump’s many calls for positive relations with Russia and China over the past 3 years terrify these groups, and this potential US-Russia-China alliance has represented a real threat which today’s London-steered impeachment debacle, and years of Russia-gating has always aimed to derail.

With the impeachment bill now sitting in the republican-dominated Senate, the neocons loyal to the Military Industrial Complex which Trump has so loudly criticized have major leverage on the President and are using it. If you are thinking “why would any republican ruin their careers by supporting a democrat-driven impeachment bill against a republican leader?” then you haven’t realized that the drive for war with Iran (as well as Russia and China) is not a matter of “practical politics” for our later day fanatics of the evangelical pre-millennial garb like John Hagee or Benny Hinn who sincerely believe it is man’s duty to usher in Armageddon and fulfill their twisted view of prophecy. Nor is it an issue for their Israeli counterparts who believe essentially in the same prophecy with the small exception that the Savior’s arrival amidst the fires of war will be occurring for the first time rather than the 2nd. If you are reading this thinking “certainly no one could be so nuts”, then let this televised prayer led by Rev. John Hagee and Benny Hinn cause you to think twice:

Bill Kristol, a leading figure behind the neocon cult and co-author of the dystopian Project for a New American Century Manifesto has already poured tens of millions of dollars into billboards, commercials and lobbying teams gunning for Trump’s impeachment. Kristol tweeted on October 17, 2019 that “If Trump is not impeached and removed, the corruption will get even worse, the White House even more lawless, the violations of norms even more routine. The case for impeachment isn’t merely retrospective; it’s prophylactic. And it isn’t merely just; it’s urgent.”

The most recent commercial promoting Trump’s impeachment which Kristol’s think tank Republicans for the Rule of Law released raised the argument that since republicans supported Nixon’s impeachment in 1973, republicans should impeach Trump today.

This argument obviously overlooks the problem that while Nixon actually appeared to have committed crimes, nothing even approximating illegal activity has occurred in Trump’s case.

Things are not as black and white as many believed until recently. Iran’s recent military exercises with Russia and China have demonstrated clearly in the minds of saner Americans that no war with Iran is possible without taking Russia and China on as well. Putin’s brilliant maneuvers in the Middle East have led to the destruction of the Anglo-American plot to grow radical Islam as a geopolitical tool first against the Soviet Union in the 1980s and then against nation states more generally since the Soviet Union’s collapse. For this reason, Putin’s enemies throughout the neocon world and British intelligence have never forgiven him. Although China has not brought much military might to bear in the Middle East, the Belt and Road Initiative has provided a gateway to a durable peace which cannot be overlooked, as BRI projects in Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon and beyond have given the Middle East a new chance for a future.

The question still remains whether or not Trump can continue to move away from the WWIII agenda and into this positive alliance.

 

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Abolish the CIA – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on December 4, 2019

No entity with the CIA’s extreme history of violence, espionage, torture, assassination and covert operations should possibly be allowed to continue to operate in good faith. But again, facts don’t matter.

Via Operation Mockingbird, Langley sought to essentially take control of the media and control the flow of information Americans receive. Though it is unclear exactly how many journalists Langley compromised, the pile of lies incessantly pushed by these supposed journalists tells us many have been.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2019/12/no_author/abolish-the-cia/

By Charlie Donovan

On NBC’s Meet the Press, Chuck Todd delivered an Academy Award winning performance for Best Actor as he grilled the perennially ineffective and overmatched Senator John Kennedy of Louisiana. “Are you at all concerned you are doing Russian intelligence work here?” asked Todd. If you didn’t know Todd otherwise, you would think he genuinely believed the inanity he was selling.

As has been the case from day one, the response from Republicans against the baseless, incessant accusations that they are stooges of the KGB has been pathetic. Just as bought by the Military Industrial Complex and the National Security State as any Democrat (if not more so), Republicans cannot afford to criticize these entities openly lest they lose their political office.  The typical retort of Republicans against accusations of being useful idiots of the Kremlin is to point out the many instances in which Trump has been quite hard on Russia. It is true that Trump has been much more aggressive against Russia than Obama and even George W. Bush. Bush refused to intervene on behalf of Georgia (a country most Americans don’t even know is a country), and Obama rightfully resisted intense bi-partisan pressure to arm the Ukraine with weapons.

The defense of Trump’s aggressive policies against Moscow misses the point – which is that facts are irrelevant. Mainstream media knows very well it is they who are pushing “disinformation” on the American people. Chuck Todd and company are not “crazy,” they’re just doing their jobs. Mainstream media has been pushing this disinformation in the service of the National Security State and particularly the king of them all, Langley for years. Via Operation Mockingbird, Langley sought to essentially take control of the media and control the flow of information Americans receive. Though it is unclear exactly how many journalists Langley compromised, the pile of lies incessantly pushed by these supposed journalists tells us many have been. As the brilliant Caitlin Johnstone as noted, narrative control is essential to the media and the State. Langley recognized this years ago. The narrative that alternative media outlets and brave politicians like Tulsi Gabbard are using Kremlin talking points without even knowing it serves as an important purpose for the National Security State’s shills in the mainstream media. It enables them to throw around this accusation to anyone who disagrees with the National Security State and its hegemonic goals. Further, you can’t invent evidence of Russia against every ordinary Americans. But you sure can call what just happens to be the increasingly rare breed of critical thinkers possessing some knowledge of history “useful idiots.”

It actually is true that there is an active disinformation campaign against the American people. But that campaign is not coming from Moscow, it is coming from Langley. A history lesson is in order. Since its evolution from the OSS, the CIA has been overthrowing countless governments for corporations and imperial hegemony. Bolivia is just the latest example in a long line. Furthermore, Langley experimented (re – tortured) countless American and Canadian citizens via MK Ultra (lawsuits against Ottawa by many Canadian victims and their families are pending to this day). They operated black sites in numerous countries to torture “suspects” without any due process. They have been and continue to utilize mass surveillance on American citizens. These are not conspiracy theories. This information is readily available to anyone who has access to Google. But most Americans couldn’t even point to Russia on a world map, let alone the countries torn to shreds by Langley in the Middle East and Latin America. You expect them to know anything about, say, the Church Commission? Not a chance. Not as long as mainstream media holds the megaphone.

No entity with the CIA’s extreme history of violence, espionage, torture, assassination and covert operations should possibly be allowed to continue to operate in good faith. But again, facts don’t matter. When the Clinton campaign dug up audio of Bernie Sanders heroically calling for the abolishment of the CIA in the early 70s, Langley’s shills in the media pounced on Bernie, and he quickly backtracked. Langley’s wretched history didn’t matter.  To rub salt in the wound, Clinton’s campaign laughably claimed that the Cold War would not have ended without the CIA. This is patently false as anyone with even a modicum of history knowledge understands. Langley did everything they could to undermine JFK’s attempts to reach peace with Moscow. They additionally tried and failed to overthrow Castro in Cuba countless times. JFK was vehemently opposed to what he termed “Pax Americana” and believed that mankind could put an end to war. JFK further committed the mortal sin of wanting to get along with the Soviet Union.

This battle to reclaim our government and make it by and for the people cannot be won while the National Security State remains intact. In order to defeat it, some serious intestinal fortitude will be needed. It won’t be easy to take on Langley – just ask Chuck Schumer about that. It will be brutal. But history is on our side, not on Langley’s side.  The United States will never cease its imperial ways nor its overthrowing of sovereign governments while the stench that emanates from Langley is allowed to continue unchallenged. It is long overdue to undo the horrific mistake Truman made in 1947, and abolish the CIA once and for all.

 

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Saudi Arabian Lobbyists Have Many Friends in DC | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on November 24, 2019

According to a recently released Center for International Policy (CIP) report — one based entirely on publicly available information — the Saudi government spent approximately $27 million on US lobbying firms in 2017. So there is no doubt that there’s plenty of good money in pestering politicians on behalf of the Saudis. Not only the lobbyists but for the politicians as well. CIP found that Saudi lobbying firms donated nearly $400,000 to the campaigns of members of Congress they “had contacted on behalf of Saudi interests.” And if this weren’t blatant enough, CIP identified “twelve instances in which that contact and contribution occurred on the exact same day.”

The US congress – a cheap date and easy.

https://mises.org/wire/saudi-arabian-lobbyists-have-many-friends-dc

Most libertarians are familiar with Dwight Eisenhower’s warning about the military-industrial complex and its nefarious influence on US foreign policy. Many have read Major General Smedley Butler’s short book War is a Racket, in which he lays out the ways in which war is in the economic interests of certain groups, while other groups pay the cost. Some may even have read Robert Nisbet’s warning about the way in which the military-industrial complex has expanded to universities, as researchers seek out government funding from the vast military-industrial blob. While all of these warnings are indeed correct, they neglect another equally nefarious influence on American foreign policy; foreign governments.

Every year foreign governments spend hundreds of millions of dollars lobbying the US government for everything from foreign aid and trade deals, to trying to influence US military policy. This lobbying is generally ignored, but after the recent gruesome murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi by the Saudi Arabian government, there has been increased scrutiny on the cozy relationship between the Saudi regime and US politicians — a relationship maintained through the Saudi’s vast entourage of over two dozen DC-area lobbying firms.

According to a recently released Center for International Policy (CIP) report — one based entirely on publicly available information — the Saudi government spent approximately $27 million on US lobbying firms in 2017. So there is no doubt that there’s plenty of good money in pestering politicians on behalf of the Saudis. Not only the lobbyists but for the politicians as well. CIP found that Saudi lobbying firms donated nearly $400,000 to the campaigns of members of Congress they “had contacted on behalf of Saudi interests.” And if this weren’t blatant enough, CIP identified “twelve instances in which that contact and contribution occurred on the exact same day.”

What has Saudi Arabia gotten in return? The CIP report notes that “the timing of many of these political contributions coincides closely with key Congressional events, involving the Justice Against State Sponsors of Terrorism Act (JASTA) votes and votes to block arms sales to Saudi Arabia.” Let’s also not forget the US support, in the form of mid-air refueling and intelligence, for the Saudi-led coalition into Yemen that has led to a humanitarian disaster — complete with the threat of mass starvation and a widespread cholera outbreak .

This mid-air refueling has been stopped for now as a result of the Khashoggi affair, but, according to CNN ’s Sam Kiley, “it’s an opportunity to appear a little bit cross over the alleged murder of Jamal Khashoggi while making sure that the Kingdom’s strategic trajectory stays on course.”

It is even possible that all of this lobbying might manage to save Saudi Arabia from the ongoing Khashoggi murder fiasco. NBC reports that the Trump administration has weighed expelling Fethullah Gulen, an exiled Turkish cleric and enemy of the Erdogan regime, “in order to placate Turkey over the murder of journalist Jamal Khashoggi.” The Trump administration denies this, but the fact that such action is even in the realm of possibility speaks to the success of Saudi lobbying efforts.

The outrageous abuses by the Saudi regime — both domestically and abroad — are nearly endless. But, unfortunately, they are not the only foreign power pouring lobbying money into DC to influence US military policy. In 2017, according to the Center for Responsive Politics (CRP), the UAE spent over $21 million on US lobbying. The UAE has a large ground presence in Yemen as part of the Saudi-led coalition and has been accused of running secret prisons where Yemenis are tortured. Former US Army Colonel Stephen Toumajan is currently the head of the UAE Joint Aviation Command, where, by his own admission to BuzzFeed News, Toumajan claimed that he was “instrumental in the modernization of the UAE fleet with investing over $10 billion in American aircraft and services.”

But US entanglement with the UAE’s sordid business in Yemen doesn’t even stop there. An in-depth investigative report from BuzzFeed News found that former US special forces had been serving as an assassination hit-squad in Yemen for the UAE. In a stunning report, a former Navy Seal recounted to BuzzFeed News how he, along with a former French Foreign Legionnaire, ran a hit squad made up of former US special forces in Yemen — whose targets included not only armed terrorists but politicians as well.

As of 2008, it took over $350,000 to train a Navy SEAL, and then an additional $1 million to deploy him overseas. As Ryan McMaken points out, this means that the US taxpayer is effectively subsidizing the training of “what are essentially death squads designed to eliminate the regimes’ enemies” for the UAE.

The Saudis and the UAE obviously feel it is necessary to grease US palms with tens of millions of dollars in order to ensure that arms sales get approved, US assistance in the Yemeni war continues, and the Pentagon continues to turn a blind eye to misconduct from former US service members. This leads to the question, what would US policy toward these two onerous regimes be without millions of dollars in lobbying money?

With such blatant bribery of US officials, it seems impossible to trust US foreign policymakers to judge American national interests in an unbiased and levelheaded way. Factor in the even larger amount of influence wielded domestically by the military-industrial complex and it seems hopeless to expect American foreign policymakers to actually be acting in the American national interest. It is little wonder that American foreign policy has been a complete disaster for decades.

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A Huge Empire Requires a Huge Government | Mises Wire

Posted by M. C. on October 29, 2019

https://mises.org/wire/huge-empire-requires-huge-government?utm_source=Mises+Institute+Subscriptions&utm_campaign=38d57b7fd6-EMAIL_CAMPAIGN_9_21_2018_9_59_COPY_01&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_8b52b2e1c0-38d57b7fd6-228343965

The chaos arising from U.S. interventionism in Syria provides an excellent opportunity to explore the interventionist mind.

Consider the terminology being employed by interventionists: President Trump’s actions in Syria have left a “power vacuum,” one that Russia and Iran are now filling. The United States will no longer have “influence” in the region. “Allies” will no longer be able to trust the U.S. to come to their assistance. Trump’s actions have threatened “national security.” It is now possible that ISIS will reformulate and threaten to take over lands and even regimes in the Middle East.

This verbiage is classic empire-speak. It is the language of the interventionist and the imperialist.

Amidst all the interventionist chaos in the Middle East, it is important to keep in mind one critically important fact: None of it will mean a violent takeover of the U.S. government or an invasion and conquest of the United States. The federal government will go on. American life will go on. There will be no army of Muslims, terrorists, Syrians, ISISians, Russians, Chinese, drug dealers, or illegal immigrants coming to get us and take over the reins of the IRS.

Why is that an important point? Because it shows that no matter what happens in Syria or the rest of the Middle East, life will continue here in the United States. Even if Russia gets to continue controlling Syria, that’s not going to result in a conquest of the United States. The same holds true if ISIS, say, takes over Iraq. Or if Turkey ends up killing lots of Kurds. Or if Syria ends up protecting the Kurds. Or if Iran continues to be controlled by a theocratic state. Or if the Russians retake control over Ukraine.

It was no different than when North Vietnam ended up winning the Vietnamese civil war. The dominoes did not fall onto the United States and make America Red. It also makes no difference if Egypt continues to be controlled by a brutal military dictatorship. Or that Cuba, North Korea, and China are controlled by communist regimes. Or that Russia is controlled by an authoritarian regime. Or that Myanmar (Burma) is controlled by a totalitarian military regime. America and the federal government will continue standing.

America was founded as a limited government republic, one that did not send its military forces around the world to slay monsters. That’s not to say that bad things didn’t happen around the world. Bad things have always happened around the world. Dictatorships. Famines. Wars. Civil wars. Revolutions. Empires. Torture. Extra-judicial executions. Tyranny. Oppression. The policy of the United States was that it would not go abroad to fix or clear up those types of things.

All that changed with the conversion of the federal government to a national-security state and with the adoption of a pro-empire, pro-intervention foreign policy. When that happened, the U.S. government assumed the duty to fix the wrongs of the world.

That’s when U.S. officials began thinking in terms of empire and using empire-speak. Foreign regimes became “allies,” “partners,” and “friends.” Others became “opponents,” “rivals,” or “enemies.” Events thousands of miles away became threats to “national security.”

That’s when U.S. forces began invading and occupying other countries, waging wars of aggression against them, intervening in foreign wars, revolutions, and civil wars, initiating coups, destroying democratic regimes, establishing an empire of domestic and foreign military bases, and bombing, shooting, killing, assassinating, spying on, maiming, torturing, kidnapping, injuring, and destroying people in countries all over the world.

The results of U.S. imperialism and interventionism have always been perverse, not only for foreigners but also for Americans. That’s how Americans have ended up with out-of-control federal spending and debt that have left much of the middle class high and dry, unable to support themselves in their senior years, unable to save a nest egg for financial emergencies, and living paycheck to paycheck. Empire and interventionism do not come cheap.

The shift toward empire and interventionism has brought about the destruction of American liberty and privacy here at home. That’s what the assassinations, secret surveillance, torture, and indefinite detentions of American citizens are all about — to supposedly protect us from the dangers produced by U.S. imperialism and interventionism abroad. One might call it waging perpetual war for freedom and peace, both here and abroad.

There is but one solution to all this chaos and mayhem — the dismantling, not the reform, of the Pentagon, the military-industrial complex, the vast empire of foreign and domestic military bases, and the NSA, along with an immediate end to all foreign interventionism. A free, peaceful, prosperous, and harmonious society necessarily entails the restoration of a limited-government republic and a non-interventionist foreign policy to our land.

[Originally published at the Future of Freedom Foundation.]

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The Rutherford Institute :: Guns for Hire: No, the Government Shouldn’t Be Using the Military to Police the Globe | By John W. Whitehead |

Posted by M. C. on October 9, 2019

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year.

https://www.rutherford.org/publications_resources/john_whiteheads_commentary/guns_for_hire_no_the_government_shouldnt_be_using_the_military_to_police_the_globe

By John W. Whitehead

“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.” — James Madison

Eventually, all military empires fall and fail by spreading themselves too thin and spending themselves to death.

It happened in Rome.

It’s happening again.

At the height of its power, even the mighty Roman Empire could not stare down a collapsing economy and a burgeoning military. Prolonged periods of war and false economic prosperity largely led to its demise. As historian Chalmers Johnson predicts:

The fate of previous democratic empires suggests that such a conflict is unsustainable and will be resolved in one of two ways. Rome attempted to keep its empire and lost its democracy. Britain chose to remain democratic and in the process let go its empire. Intentionally or not, the people of the United States already are well embarked upon the course of non-democratic empire.

The American Empire—with its endless wars waged by U.S. military servicepeople who have been reduced to little more than guns for hire: outsourced, stretched too thin, and deployed to far-flung places to police the globe—is approaching a breaking point.

War has become a huge money-making venture, and America, with its vast military empire and its incestuous relationship with a host of international defense contractors, is one of its best buyers and sellers. In fact, as Reuters reports, “[President] Trump has gone further than any of his predecessors to act as a salesman for the U.S. defense industry.”

Under Trump’s leadership, the U.S. military is dropping a bomb every 12 minutes.

This follows on the heels of President Obama, the so-called antiwar candidate and Nobel Peace Prize winner who waged war longer than any American president and whose targeted-drone killings resulted in at least 1.3 million lives lost to the U.S.-led war on terror.

Most recently, the Trump Administration signaled its willingness to put the lives of American troops on the line in order to guard Saudi Arabia’s oil resources. Roughly 200 American troops will join the 500 troops already stationed in Saudi Arabia. That’s in addition to the 60,000 U.S. troops that have been deployed throughout the Middle East for decades.

As The Washington Post points out, “The United States is now the world’s largest producer — and its reliance on Saudi imports has dropped dramatically, including by 50 percent in the past two years alone.”

So if we’re not protecting the oil for ourselves, whose interests are we protecting?

The military industrial complex is calling the shots, of course, and profit is its primary objective.

The military-industrial complex is also the world’s largest employer.

America has long had a penchant for endless wars that empty our national coffers while fattening those of the military industrial complex.

Aided and abetted by the U.S government, the American military-industrial complex has erected an empire unsurpassed in history in its breadth and scope, one dedicated to conducting perpetual warfare throughout the earth.

Although the U.S. constitutes only 5% of the world’s population, America boasts almost 50% of the world’s total military expenditure, spending more on the military than the next 19 biggest spending nations combined. Indeed, the Pentagon spends more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.

Unfortunately, this level of war-mongering doesn’t come cheap to the taxpayers who are forced to foot the bill.

Having been co-opted by greedy defense contractors, corrupt politicians and incompetent government officials, America’s expanding military empire is bleeding the country dry at a rate of more than $32 million per hour.

In fact, the U.S. government has spent more money every five seconds in Iraq than the average American earns in a year…

War is not cheap, but it becomes outrageously costly when you factor in government incompetence, fraud, and greedy contractors.

For example, a leading accounting firm concluded that one of the Pentagon’s largest agencies “can’t account for hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of spending.”

Unfortunately, the outlook isn’t much better for the spending that can be tracked.

Consider that the government lost more than $160 billion to waste and fraud by the military and defense contractors. With paid contractors often outnumbering enlisted combat troops, the American war effort dubbed as the “coalition of the willing” has quickly evolved into the “coalition of the billing,” with American taxpayers forced to cough up billions of dollars for cash bribes, luxury bases, a highway to nowhere, faulty equipment, salaries for so-called “ghost soldiers,” and overpriced anything and everything associated with the war effort, including a $640 toilet seat and a $7600 coffee pot.

A government audit found that defense contractor Boeing has been massively overcharging taxpayers for mundane parts, resulting in tens of millions of dollars in overspending. As the report noted, the American taxpayer paid:

$71 for a metal pin that should cost just 4 cents; $644.75 for a small gear smaller than a dime that sells for $12.51: more than a 5,100 percent increase in price. $1,678.61 for another tiny part, also smaller than a dime, that could have been bought within DoD for $7.71: a 21,000 percent increase. $71.01 for a straight, thin metal pin that DoD had on hand, unused by the tens of thousands, for 4 cents: an increase of over 177,000 percent.

That price gouging has become an accepted form of corruption within the American military empire is a sad statement on how little control “we the people” have over our runaway government…

The government is destabilizing the economy, destroying the national infrastructure through neglect and a lack of resources, and turning taxpayer dollars into blood money with its endless wars, drone strikes and mounting death tolls.

This is exactly the scenario Eisenhower warned against when he cautioned the citizenry not to let the profit-driven war machine endanger our liberties or democratic processes:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some fifty miles of concrete pavement. We pay for a single fighter plane with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people. This is, I repeat, the best way of life to be found on the road the world has been taking. This is not a way of life at all, in any true sense. Under the cloud of threatening war, it is humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

We failed to heed Eisenhower’s warning.

The illicit merger of the armaments industry and the government that Eisenhower warned against has come to represent perhaps the greatest threat to the nation today…

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The Real Reason the US is Staying in Afghanistan – The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on September 21, 2019

The Taliban are not militant jihadists. Their only concern is their
ancient homelands. The only antagonism the Taliban have for Americans is
the fact that the U.S. military has occupied their country to various
degrees over the last 17 year as USAID and other international
organizations attempted to impose western cultural values that conflict
with their Saudi-indoctrinated fundamentalist form of Islam.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/the-real-reason-the-us-is-staying-in-afghanistan/

By

Ronald Enzweiler

As someone who lived and worked at the field level in Afghanistan for six years (2008-14) implementing projects for the U.S. Agency for International Development, I am bemused by the fact that the mainstream media (who should have known better or worse yet, actually did) misled the public into believing that it was — or ever will be — possible for the U.S. to reach a meaningful peace accord with the Taliban for amicably ending the Afghan war. Moreover, anyone who thinks a piece of paper a purported Taliban leadership council accepts and signs at a given point in time has any lasting value is woefully naïve and ignorant of who the Taliban are and what governs their belief system and way of life. Spoiler alert: It’s not a diplomatic legal document.

For starters, probably 70% or more of the ethnic Pashtuns who have inhabited the Afghanistan and Pakistan border region (this border is a figment of 19th century British imperialism) for centuries and have adopted over the last 35 years a variation of the Saudi Arabia-spread fundamentalist form of Islam (taught at the Saudi-funded religious schools they attended in Pakistan) as their way of life are illiterate — beyond being able to read Koran verses in Arabic. Moreover, the Taliban have no written theological doctrine or scholarship. These facts should be a clue that written documents are unimportant in their lives. The society that calls itself the Taliban (Arabic for “the students”) live a mostly subsistent life without access to electricity, media, mass communications, or material goods. Most have never travel outside their homelands. They are extremely hostile to outsiders and adhere to a strict Medieval moral code (Pashtunwali) and their fundamentalist interpretation of Islamic law (Shari’a).

The Taliban are not militant jihadists. Their only concern is their ancient homelands. The only antagonism the Taliban have for Americans is the fact that the U.S. military has occupied their country to various degrees over the last 17 year as USAID and other international organizations attempted to impose western cultural values that conflict with their Saudi-indoctrinated fundamentalist form of Islam. (Saudi Arabia was one of only three countries that recognized the Taliban as Afghanistan’s official government before 9/11.) Moreover, Taliban leaders have been wary since the U.S. troop surge in 2009 that the U.S. intended to maintain permanent bases in their country. This is why the Taliban and other Afghan nationalists intensified their fight to expel latest round of foreign invaders in a civil war to oust the U.S.-backed government. (Media pundits who lament that civil war and chaos will break out if the U.S. troops withdraw have somehow missed the last 40 years of Afghan history.)

It’s always been an inaccurate pejorative for the U.S. government and media to refer to the Taliban as “terrorists.” Consider this scenario: A foreign power invades and occupies your country; it installs and pays the costs (over $5 billion in FY 2020) for keeping a friendly pro-western government in power; the Afghan officials who profit from these payments (corruption is a way of life in Afghanistan as the SIGAR has repeatedly documented) are willing to let the foreign power retain permanent military bases in your country (which are needed to keep them in power). As an Afghan nationalist, you don’t want your way of life changed at gunpoint and don’t want a foreign power to use bases in your country to project power in the region and possibly attack the neighboring (predominately Muslim) countries. Given this situation, you join a home-grown insurgency that opposes the foreign troops staying and having your traditional way of life coercively changed.

However, because you fight against the neocolonial foreign power that has taken de facto control of your country for its self-interests, you are deemed a “terrorist.” Yes, the Taliban and other anti-government elements in Afghanistan have killed over 2,400 U.S. soldiers over the 17-year, $2-trilllion-dollar war and occupation of their country. But this happened only because more than 100,000 U.S. soldiers at one point (140,000 including other NATO countries) and squadrons of F-16s were sent to their country to kill them — while subjecting the Afghan civilian population to the hardships, collateral damage, and casualties inherent in warfare.

The question our elected officials need to be asked: Why are U.S. soldiers still in Afghanistan and being killed fighting local insurgents engaged in a civil war who are not a threat to America 17 years after the al-Qaeda jihadists responsible for the 9/11 attacks were vanquished?…

The real reason for the pushback by the Washington national security establishment against getting all U.S. troops out of Afghanistan is the guiding maxim of our post-World War II “War State” (the military-industrial complex President Eisenhower warned about) that has grown into a $1-trillion/year enterprise with a worldwide empire of over 800 foreign military installations: never give up a military base in a strategic location. The U.S. military eventually will be pushed out of Kandahar Airfield in southern Afghanistan (it’s also a civilian airport near a large restive city in Taliban territory). But Bagram Airfield (a prior Soviet base north of Kabul) is a military-only installation in an easily defended remote area. Bagram is the missing piece in our War State’s chessboard of worldwide bases. Retaining it will enable our military to “project power” throughout Central Asia. It’s a steal at $30 to $40 billion/year (assuming troops levels and graft payments are drawn down at some point) for our overfunded War State. Representative Max Thornberry, then chairman and now ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee, visited Bagram in October 2018. He publicly acknowledged afterwards that the U.S. seeks “a sustainable presence” in Afghanistan. (The U.S. military’s new high-tech F-35 fighters — a $1.5 trillion program — are manufactured at a Lockheed plant near Rep. Thornberry’s district in north Texas.)

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