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Posts Tagged ‘Pentagon’

The Evil, Immoral, Vicious, and Hypocritical Embargo Against Cuba – The Future of Freedom Foundation

Posted by M. C. on July 24, 2020

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

https://www.fff.org/2020/07/20/the-evil-immoral-vicious-and-hypocritical-embargo-against-cuba/?utm_source=FFF%2BDaily&utm_campaign=ddd8480a92-FFF%2BDaily%2B07-20-2020&utm_medium=email&utm_term=0_1139d80dff-ddd8480a92-317323329

by

The banality of evil that characterizes the U.S. national security state is demonstrated perfectly by the continuation of its deadly economic embargo against Cuba, which has been ongoing for some 60 years.

What’s the point of the embargo? After all, the Pentagon’s, CIA’s, and NSA’s official enemy Fidel Castro died years ago. Why continue to intentionally inflict harm on the Cuban people?

And make no mistake about it: Inflicting harm on the Cuban people is the purpose of the embargo. Its aim is to impoverish or starve Cubans into ousting their post-Castro regime and installing another pro-U.S. right-wing brutal dictatorship similar to the one that Castro ousted from power in the Cuban revolution.

In fact, the first embargo that the U.S. implemented against Cuba was during the reign of the crooked, corrupt, and brutal pro-U.S. right-wing dictatorship of Fulgencio Batista. That was an arms embargo. U.S. officials didn’t want weaponry imported into Cuba because that might enable the Cuban people to oppose Batista in a violent revolution.

During his reign, Batista partnered with the Mafia, the premier criminal organization that was smuggling drugs into the United States. As part of their partnership agreement, Batista let the Mafia operate gambling casinos in Cuba. As part of that cozy relationship, Batista would have his henchmen kidnap underaged girls in Cuba and turn them over to the Mafia, which would then provide them as perks to the high-rollers in its casinos. That’s one of the things that brought on the Cuban Revolution.

That’s the guy that the U.S. national-security state was hell-bent on keeping in power. Thus, it should surprise no one that the CIA, like Batista, later entered into partnership with the Mafia, knowing full well that the Mafia was engaged in massive criminal activity. The purpose of the CIA-Mafia partnership was assassination. They were working together to assassinate Castro.

It stands to reason that the Mafia would try to assassinate Castro. It has lost all its casinos to Castro’s nationalization. And it was in the business of killing people.

But the U.S. government? In the business of murder? And in partnership with the biggest criminal organization in the world?

Don’t forget something important here: Castro, Cuba, and the Cuban people have never attacked the United States or even threatened to do so. No invasion. No terrorist attacks. No assassinations.

In fact, it has always been the other way around. In the more than six decades of bad relations between Cuba and the U.S., it has always been the U.S. government that has been the aggressor. An invasion, terrorist attacks, assassination attempts, and the embargo, all on the part of the U.S. government.

U.S. national-security state officials always justified such actions under the notion that Cuba was the spearhead of a worldwide communist conspiracy to take over the United States, one that was supposedly based in Moscow. It was always a ridiculous notion but that was the mindset of CIA, NSA, and Pentagon officials during the Cold War — that Cuba’s communist regime posed a grave threat to U.S. “national security.”

But the Cold War ended more than 30 years ago. Do the CIA, NSA, and Pentagon still think that the United States is in danger of falling to the Cuban communists?

Of course not. Now, it’s just sheer viciousness. Now, it’s just a matter of doing everything possible to oust the current regime in Cuba from power and restoring a Batista-like dictatorship, one that will be loyal and deferential to the Pentagon, the CIA, and the NSA.

The viciousness is demonstrated by the fact that the embargo doesn’t just criminalize Americans who do business with Cuba. It also targets foreign companies who do so. If they are caught doing so, they are targeted for prosecution or economic banishment here in the United States. In the minds of U.S. officials, it’s more imperative than ever to squeeze as many Cubans as possible into death and suffering.

Needless to say, the embargo has made things significantly worse for the Cuban people during the COVID-19 crisis. That’s fine with U.S. officials. The more Cubans who die, the greater the chance of an internal regime-change operation.

Sure, there is no doubt that Cuba’s socialist economic system is a major factor in the economic suffering of the Cuban people. But there is also no doubt that the U.S. embargo has served as the other side of a vise that has squeezed the economic lifeblood out of the Cuban people.

A dark irony, of course, is that the embargo has enabled the U.S. government to wield and exercise the same type of economic control over the American people that the Cuban socialist regime exercises over the Cuban people. It’s called adopting socialism to oppose socialism.

When will the evil, immoral, vicious, and hypocritical U.S. embargo against Cuba be lifted? When a critical mass of the American people, including those who go to church every Sunday, have a crisis of conscience and demand that it be lifted.


This post was written by:

 

Jacob G. Hornberger is founder and president of The Future of Freedom Foundation. He was born and raised in Laredo, Texas, and received his B.A. in economics from Virginia Military Institute and his law degree from the University of Texas. He was a trial attorney for twelve years in Texas. He also was an adjunct professor at the University of Dallas, where he taught law and economics. In 1987, Mr. Hornberger left the practice of law to become director of programs at the Foundation for Economic Education. He has advanced freedom and free markets on talk-radio stations all across the country as well as on Fox News’ Neil Cavuto and Greta van Susteren shows and he appeared as a regular commentator on Judge Andrew Napolitano’s show Freedom Watch. View these interviews at LewRockwell.com and from Full Context. Send him email.

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How the Pentagon failed to sell Afghan government’s bunk ‘Bountygate’ story to US intelligence agencies  | The Grayzone

Posted by M. C. on July 11, 2020

The Times reported first on June 28, then again on June 30, that a large amount of cash found at a “Taliban outpost” or a “Taliban site” had led U.S. intelligence to suspect the Russian plot.  But the Times had to walk that claim back, revealing on July 1 that the raid that turned up $500,000 in cash had in fact targeted the Kabul home of Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan businessmen said to have been involved in both drug trafficking and contracting for part of the billions of dollars the United States spent on construction projects.

https://thegrayzone.com/2020/07/07/pentagon-afghan-bountygate-us-intelligence-agencies/

Another New York Times Russiagate bombshell turns out to be a dud, as dodgy stories spun out by Afghan intelligence and exploited by the Pentagon ultimately failed to convince US intelligence agencies.

By Gareth Porter

The New York Times dropped another Russiagate bombshell on June 26 with a sensational front-page story headlined, “Russia Secretly Offered Afghan Militants Bounties to Kill U.S. Troops, Intelligence Says.”  A predictable media and political frenzy followed, reviving the anti-Russian hysteria that has excited the Beltway establishment for the past four years.

But a closer look at the reporting by the Times and other mainstream outlets vying to confirm its coverage reveals another scandal not unlike Russiagate itself: the core elements of the story appear to have been fabricated by Afghan government intelligence to derail a potential US troop withdrawal from the country. And they were leaked to the Times and other outlets by US national security state officials who shared an agenda with their Afghan allies.

In the days following the story’s publication, the maneuvers of the Afghan regime and US national security bureaucracy encountered an unexpected political obstacle: US intelligence agencies began offering a series of low confidence assessments in the Afghan government’s self-interested intelligence claims, judging them to be highly suspect at best, and altogether bogus at worst.

In light of this dramatic development, the Times’ initial report appears to have been the product of a sensationalistic disinformation dump aimed at prolonging the failed Afghan war in the face of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw US troops from it.

The Times quietly reveals its own sources’ falsehoods

The Times not only broke the Bountygate story but commissioned squads of reporters comprising nine different correspondents to write eight articles hyping the supposed scandal in the course of eight days. Its coverage displayed the paper’s usual habit of regurgitating bits of dubious information furnished to its correspondents by faceless national security sources. In the days after the Times’ dramatic publication, its correspondent squads were forced to revise the story line to correct an account that ultimately turned out to be false on practically every important point.

The Bountygate saga began on June 26, with a Times report declaring, “The United States concluded months ago” that the Russians “had covertly offered rewards for successful attacks last year.” The report suggested that US intelligence analysts had reached a firm conclusion on Russian bounties as early as January. A follow-up Times report portrayed the shocking discovery of the lurid Russian plot thanks to the recovery of a large amount of U.S. cash from a “raid on a Taliban outpost.” That article sourced its claim to the interrogations of “captured Afghan militants and criminals.”

However, subsequent reporting revealed that the “US intelligence reports” about a Russian plot to distribute bounties through Afghan middlemen were not generated by US intelligence at all.

The Times reported first on June 28, then again on June 30, that a large amount of cash found at a “Taliban outpost” or a “Taliban site” had led U.S. intelligence to suspect the Russian plot.  But the Times had to walk that claim back, revealing on July 1 that the raid that turned up $500,000 in cash had in fact targeted the Kabul home of Rahmatullah Azizi, an Afghan businessmen said to have been involved in both drug trafficking and contracting for part of the billions of dollars the United States spent on construction projects.

The Times also disclosed that the information provided by “captured militants and criminals” under “interrogation” had been the main source of suspicion of a Russian bounty scheme in Afghanistan. But those “militants and criminals” turned out to be thirteen relatives and business associates of the businessman whose house was raided.

The Times reported that those detainees were arrested and interrogated following the January 2020 raids based on suspicions by Afghan intelligence that they belonged to a “ring of middlemen” operating between the Russian GRU and so-called “Taliban-linked militants,” as Afghan sources made clear.

Furthermore, contrary to the initial report by the Times, those raids had actually been carried out exclusively by the Afghan intelligence service known as the National Directorate of Security (NDS). The Times disclosed this on July 1. Indeed, the interrogation of those detained in the raids was carried out by the NDS, which explains why the Times reporting referred repeatedly to “interrogations” without ever explaining who actually did the questioning.

Given the notorious record of the NDS, it must be assumed that its interrogators used torture or at least the threat of it to obtain accounts from the detainees that would support the Afghan government’s narrative. Both the Toronto Globe and Mail and the United Nations Assistance Mission in Afghanistan (UNAMA) have documented as recently as 2019 the frequent use of torture by the NDS to obtain information from detainees.  The primary objective of the NDS was to establish an air of plausibility around the claim that the fugitive businessman Azizi was the main “middleman” for a purported GRU scheme to offer bounties for killing Americans.

NDS clearly fashioned its story to suit the sensibilities of the U.S. national security state. The narrative echoed previous intelligence reports about Russian bounties in Afghanistan that circulated in early 2019, and which were even discussed at NSC meetings. Nothing was done about these reports, however, because nothing had been confirmed.

The idea that hardcore Taliban fighters needed or wanted foreign money to kill American invaders could have been dismissed on its face. So Afghan officials spun out claims that Russian bounties were paid to incentivize violence by “militants and criminals” supposedly “linked” to the Taliban.

These elements zeroed in on the April 2019 IED attack on a vehicle near the U.S. military base at Bagram in Parwan province that killed three US Marines, insisting that the Taliban had paid local criminal networks in the region to carry out attacks.

As former Parwan police chief Gen. Zaman Mamozai told the Times, Taliban commanders were based in only two of the province’s ten districts, forcing them to depend on a wider network of non-Taliban killers-for-hire to carry out attacks elsewhere in the province. These areas included the region around Bagram, according to the Afghan government’s argument.

But Dr. Thomas H. Johnson of the Naval Postgraduate School, a leading expert on insurgency and counter-insurgency in Afghanistan who has been researching war in the country for three decades,  dismissed the idea that the Taliban would need a criminal network to operate effectively in Parwan.

“The Taliban are all over Parwan,” Johnson stated in an interview with The Grayzone, observing that its fighters had repeatedly carried out attacks on or near the Bagram base throughout the war.

With withdrawal looming, the national security state plays its Bountygate card

Senior U.S. national security officials had clear ulterior motives for embracing the dubious NDS narrative. More than anything, those officials were determined to scuttle Trump’s push for a complete withdrawal from Afghanistan. For Pentagon brass and civilian leadership, the fear of withdrawal became more acute in early 2020 as Trump began to demand an even more rapid timetable for a complete pullout than the 12-14 months being negotiated with the Taliban.

It was little surprise then that this element leapt at the opportunity to exploit the self-interested claims by the Afghan NDS to serve its own agenda, especially as the November election loomed. The Times even cited one “senior [US] official” musing that “the evidence about Russia could have threatened that [Afghanistan] deal, because it suggested that after eighteen year of war, Mr. Trump was letting Russia chase the last American troops out of the country.”

In fact, the intelligence reporting from the CIA Station in Kabul on the NDS Russia bounty claims was included in the Presidential Daily Brief (PDB) on or about February 27 — just as the negotiation of the U.S. peace agreement with the Taliban was about to be signed. That was too late to prevent the signing but timed well enough to ratchet up pressure on Trump to back away from his threat to pull all US troops out of Afghanistan.

Trump may have been briefed orally on the issue at the time, but even if he had not been, the presence of a summary description of the intelligence in the PDB could obviously have been used to embarrass him on Afghanistan by leaking it to the media.

According to Ray McGovern, a former CIA official who was responsible for preparing the PDB for Presidents Ronald Reagan and George H.W. Bush, the insertion of raw, unconfirmed intelligence from a self-interested Afghan intelligence agency into the PDB was a departure from normal practice.

Unless it was a two or three-sentence summary of a current intelligence report, McGovern explained, an item in the PDB normally involved only important intelligence that had been confirmed.  Furthermore, according to McGovern, PDB items are normally shorter versions of items prepared the same day as part of the CIA’s “World Intelligence Review” or “WIRe.”

Information about the purported Russian bounty scheme, however, was not part of the WIRe until May 4, well over two months later, according to the Times. That discrepancy added weight to the suggestion that the CIA had political motivations for planting the raw NDS reporting in the PDB before it could be evaluated.

This June, Trump’s National Security Council (NSC) convened a meeting to discuss the intelligence report, officials told the Times. NSC members drew up a range of options in response to the alleged Russian plot, from a diplomatic protest to more forceful responses. Any public indication that US troops in Afghanistan had been targeted by Russian spies would have inevitably threatened Trump’s plan for withdrawal from Afghanistan.

At some point in the weeks that followed, the CIA, Defense Intelligence Agency and National Security Agency each undertook evaluations of the Afghan intelligence claims. Once the Times began publishing stories about the issue, Director of National Intelligence John Ratcliffe directed the National Intelligence Council, which is responsible for managing all common intelligence community assessments, to write a memorandum summarizing the intelligence organizations’ conclusions.

The memorandum revealed that the intelligence agencies were not impressed with what they’d seen. The CIA and National Counter-Terrorism Center (NCTC) each gave the NDS intelligence an assessment of “moderate confidence,” according to memorandum.

An official guide to intelligence community terminology used by policymakers to determine how much they should rely on assessments indicates that “moderate confidence” generally indicates that “the information being used in the analysis may be interpreted in various ways….” It was hardly a ringing endorsement of the NDS intelligence when the CIA and NCTC arrived at this finding.

The assessment by the National Security Agency was even more important, given that it had obtained intercepts of electronic data on financial transfers “from a bank account controlled by Russia’s military intelligence agency to a Taliban-linked account,” according to the Times’ sources.  But the NSA evidently had no idea what the transfers related to, and essentially disavowed the information from the Afghan intelligence agency.

The NIC memorandum reported that NSA gave the information from Afghan intelligence “low confidence” — the lowest of the three possible levels of confidence used in the intelligence community.  According to the official guide to intelligence community terminology, that meant that “information used in the analysis is scant, questionable, fragmented, or that solid analytical conclusions cannot be inferred from the information.”

Other intelligence agencies reportedly assigned “low confidence” to the information as well, according to the memorandum. Even the Defense Intelligence Agency, known for its tendency to issue alarmist warnings about activities by US adversaries, found no evidence in the material linking the Kremlin to any bounty offers.

Less than two weeks after the Times rolled out its supposed bombshell on Russian bounties, relying entirely on national security officials pushing their own bureaucratic interests on Afghanistan, the story was effectively discredited by the intelligence community itself. In a healthy political climate, this would have produced a major setback for the elements determined to keep US troops entrenched in Afghanistan.

But the political hysteria generated by the Times and the hyper-partisan elements triggered by the appearance of another sordid Trump-Putin connection easily overwhelmed the countervailing facts. It was all the Pentagon and its bureaucratic allies needed to push back on plans for a speedy withdrawal from a long and costly war.

Gareth Porter

Gareth Porter is an independent investigative journalist who has covered national security policy since 2005 and was the recipient of Gellhorn Prize for Journalism in 2012.  His most recent book is The CIA Insider’s Guide to the Iran Crisis co-authored with John Kiriakou, just published in February.

 

 

 

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Warren and Khanna Introduce Bill To Increase Military Accountability for Civilian Casualties – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 13, 2020

Good Luck

The president has kept his promise, and civilian deaths have soared in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia during his tenure. The Trump administration has also loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians, and last year the president revoked an Obama-era rule that required the government to disclose annual estimates of civilians killed by US air strikes outside of conventional war zones.

https://original.antiwar.com/Brett_Wilkins/2020/06/12/warren-and-khanna-introduce-bill-to-increase-military-accountability-for-civilian-casualties/

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) this week introduced a bicameral bill meant to improve reporting, investigation and, ultimately, prevention of civilian casualties.

On Wednesday, Khanna introduced the Protection of Civilians In Military Operations Act, which he said will “ensure that the Pentagon provides accurate data not only on civilians killed in direct US military operations, but also on civilians killed by US partner forces, such as the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen.”

“This bill also takes the essential step of requiring the Pentagon to establish a publicly accessible database of its investigations into civilian casualties,” he added. “Maximizing transparency will prevent further loss of life.”

On Thursday, Warren, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, introduced the bill in the Senate. The former Democratic presidential candidate said that protecting civilians was not only “a national security priority” but also a “moral and ethical imperative.”

As it is currently written, the bill requires military commanders to appoint officers from outside their unit or chain of command to investigate civilian casualties caused by their unit. It also requires personnel involved in investigating civilian casualties to stay away from troops directly involved in military operations. Each commander of a geographic combatant command must also establish uninterrupted lines of communications between their command and the chief of mission in any country where they are operating.

The bill also requires the secretary of defense to create a publicly accessible and searchable database of all Pentagon reports of investigations of civilian casualties, including the results of such probes. Furthermore, it requires the appointment of at least two designated officials in seven of the 11 US military combatant commands – Central Command, Africa Command, Special Operations Command, European Command, Southern Command, Indo-Pacific Command and Northern Command – who will oversee casualty prevention and response. It allocates a modest $5 million annual budget for casualty prevention training and response, and for maintenance of the investigation database. Finally, the bill requires the Pentagon to include in its annual civilian casualties report a list of each advise, assist and accompany mission on which such casualties or human rights abuses by foreign partner forces are observed.

The Protection of Civilians in Military Operations Act is supported by the Center for Civilians in Conflict (CIVIC), Human Rights First, Common Defense, Human Rights Watch, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL) and Amnesty International USA.

Since waging the world’s only nuclear war at the end of World War II, the United States military has killed more foreign civilians than any other armed force on the planet, by far. Poor accounting and accountability mean that no one can say for sure how many innocent men, women and children have been killed by US bombs and bullets in the more than 20 nations subjected to American attack, invasion or occupation over the past 75 years, but the number is certainly in the millions. Estimates of the number of civilians killed in the current war against terrorism, now in its 19th year, range from hundreds of thousands to over 2 million. But again, nobody knows for sure, because, as General Tommy Franks said during the early years of the war in Afghanistan, “we don’t do body counts.”

Accountability, which was already lacking during the Bush and Obama administrations, has been rolled back even further under President Donald Trump, who campaigned on a promise to “bomb the shit out of” Islamic State militants and “take out their families,” a war crime. The president has kept his promise, and civilian deaths have soared in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and Somalia during his tenure. The Trump administration has also loosened rules of engagement meant to protect civilians, and last year the president revoked an Obama-era rule that required the government to disclose annual estimates of civilians killed by US air strikes outside of conventional war zones.

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Time To Pull the Troops From NATO: What Good Is an Alliance Full of Cheap-Riders? – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on June 8, 2020

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

https://original.antiwar.com/doug-bandow/2020/06/07/time-to-pull-the-troops-from-nato-what-good-is-an-alliance-full-of-cheap-riders/

President Donald Trump has ordered the Pentagon to remove 9,500 U.S troops from Germany by September. He also set a firm cap of 25,000, instead of allowing the number to swell to 52,000 as units rotate through or deploy for training.

It is a good start. But why did it take him more than three years to act on his criticism of allied cheap-riding on America? And what about the other 25,000 American military personnel in Germany?

Even after the US economy shut down and federal finances cratered, Washington’s foreign policy elite were seeking to add new international duties for Uncle Sam. America and China are teetering on a new cold war, which could turn hot in the Taiwan Strait or elsewhere in the Asia-Pacific. Thus, it is said, Washington must bolster its military alliances, security guarantees, and naval deployments.

Members of the Blob, as Washington’s foreign policy establishment has been called, continue to ferociously oppose the slightest withdrawal from the Middle East. America must fix Syria by confronting the Assad government, ISIS, other Islamist radicals, Turkey, Russia, and Iran. The US certainly cannot leave Iraq, irrespective of the wish of Iraqis. And America’s 18-year war in Afghanistan, in the heart of Central Asia surrounded by Iran, India, Pakistan, Russia, and China, should be accepted as the start of a beautiful permanent commitment. As the Eagles declared in their famous song Hotel California, Washington can never leave-from anywhere.

Finally, the US must increase troop deployments, naval dispositions, and financial assistance not only to NATO members, but alliance wannabe joiners Georgia and Ukraine. Forget the supposedly frontline states of the Baltics and Poland. America must bolster the southern front lest Russia solidify its dominance in the Black Sea and add a base in Syria and another in Libya, analysts warned at a recent forum organized by the Center for European Policy Analysis. Just another step or two and the Mediterranean Sea could become Moscow’s Mare Nostrum, like for the old Roman Empire. Russia then might seek control the Atlantic and perhaps even invade Washington, D.C., following in Britain’s footsteps a couple centuries ago. Or something like that.

The attempt to constantly ensnare America in other nations’ conflicts is foolish, even reckless. First, the US has never been more secure. Its geographic position remains unassailable: large oceans east and west, pacific neighbors north and south. No power threatens to breach that perimeter. America’s navy deploys 11 carrier groups, compared to two carriers by China and one by Russia. The US air force easily secures American airspace, or at least would do so if much of it wasn’t deployed overseas. Only nuclear-tipped missiles pose a serious threat, but America’s arsenal vastly outranges that of every country other than Russia, and the latter would be annihilated in return if it struck the US

Terrorism remains an ugly threat, but mostly against Americans overseas. And it is largely self-inflicted, the consequence of Washington’s promiscuous foreign intervention: bombing, invading, and occupying other states, such as Iraq; taking sides in bitter conflicts of no concern to the US, such as Lebanon’s civil war; supporting brutal dictatorships as in Egypt, Iran, and Saudi Arabia; and backing nations which occupy and oppress minority populations, most notably Israel. Alas, Washington continues to unnecessarily create additional enemies every day.

Americans should not be surprised if some day angry Yemenis use terrorist methods to strike back against the US, which sold and serviced aircraft used by Saudi Arabia to wreck Yemeni cities, provided munitions dropped by Saudi warplanes on Yemeni weddings, funerals, apartments, and hospitals, refueled planes on their missions to slaughter Yemeni civilians, and offered intelligence to aid Riyadh’s air force in selecting targets. Put bluntly, the Obama and Trump administrations invited retaliation against the American people by aiding true terrorists against the Yemeni people.

Second, Washington has turned a means, alliances, into an end. Instead of using such relationships as a mechanism to improve US security, policymakers routinely sacrifice Americans’ safety and prosperity to continually expand security guarantees, leaving tripwires for war around the globe.

In doing so the Pentagon has turned itself into a welfare agency, underwriting the defense of prosperous, populous states which could protect themselves. Some of these are military nonentities, such as Montenegro and North Macedonia, modern versions of the Duchy of Grand Fenwick, made famous by The Mouse That Roared. Worst of all, the US increasingly allies, sometimes formally, sometimes informally, with countries that bring more military liabilities than assets. Georgia, Ukraine, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia are the most obvious cases today. All four could drag America into conflicts, the first three with nuclear-armed powers.

Third, Washington engages in never-ending social engineering that rarely succeeds and would be of little value to Americans even if it did work. Three successive administration have spent almost 18 years trying to turn Afghanistan into a liberal Western-style democracy. Worse was blowing up Iraq in expectation that contending ethnic, religious, and political groups would join together singing Kumbaya as they helped America battle Iran. President Barack Obama, a paladin of modern liberalism, ensured Libya’s destruction in the belief that something good would happen. He also imagined that Washington’s ivory tower warriors could fix Syria-simultaneously oust Bashar al-Assad, vanquish the Islamic State, empower “moderate” insurgents, pacify Turkey, oust Iran and Russia, protect Syrian Kurds, and foster democracy. Trump added the theft of Syrian oil as an American objective. Rarely have international plans been more chimerical, complicated, and costly.

The US is constantly expanding its defense obligations even as its financial health worsens. The federal government currently is borrowing record amounts-likely more than $4 trillion this year and $2 trillion next year-yet continues to subsidize the defense of populous, prosperous industrialized nation, rebuild failed states, bind together fake countries, hunt down other nations’ enemies, and sacrifice American lives and wealth to play international social engineer. The waste and hubris are bipartisan. Despite marginal differences among liberals and conservatives and Democrats and Republicans, the vast majority of Blob members work assiduously to ensure that the US spends as much as possible, devotes as many resources as possible, deploys as many soldiers as possible, and fights as many wars as possible, all in the name of protecting America despite almost always having the opposite effect.

Washington needs to start scaling back its outlandish ambitions, rediscovering humility and prudence. A good starting point, as the president apparently believes, is Europe.

Foreign policy determines military requirements and force structure. All should change along with circumstances. The North Atlantic Treaty Organization made sense as a temporary shield behind which Europe could revive economically and reconstruct politically. While it doesn’t appear that the Soviet Union ever seriously contemplated launching the Red Army on a march to the Atlantic Ocean, it would have been foolish to take the risk.

However, Dwight D. Eisenhower, the alliance’s supreme commander before becoming president, warned against permanent US deployments lest the continent become dependent on America. And he was right. Europe soon rebuilt and sped past the Soviet Empire, as even East German cities still sported evidence of World War II decades after the bombs stopped falling. Nevertheless, at the height of the Cold War the rising West Europeans continued to pass the bill for their defense to Washington. Their governments routinely promised to spend more and then reneged on their commitments. But the US still paid. The lesson was well-learned by Europe…

And so on

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Memorial Day: Remembering the Political Lies that Spurred Mass Killing | The Libertarian Institute

Posted by M. C. on May 26, 2020

It would be appropriate to celebrate Memorial Day by burning in
effigy the politicians whose lies led to the deaths of so many Americans
(and innocent foreigners). Those whose images deserve to be torched run
the gamut from Lyndon Johnson to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to
Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton (Kosovo) to George W. Bush (Iraq, et
cetera), to Barack Obama (Afghanistan, Libya, et cetera). Donald Trump’s
warring has primarily resulted in the killing of foreigners, but they
are also worthy of remembrance and lamentation. The burnings could be
accompanied by recitations of the major offenses against the truth and
liberty that each politician committed.

Before the war, almost all the broadcast news stories on Iraq originated with the federal government. PBS’ Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.”

https://libertarianinstitute.org/articles/memorial-day-remembering-the-political-lies-that-spurred-mass-killing/

by

On Memorial Day, the media do their usual sacralizing of war. Instead, it should be a day for the ritualized scourging of politicians. During the last 70 years, their lies have resulted in the unnecessary deaths of almost 100,000 American soldiers and millions of foreigners. And yet, people still get teary-eyed when politicians take the stage to talk about their devotion to the troops.

On Memorial Day 2011, for instance, the Washington Post included numerous touching photographs of graves, recent widows or fatherless kids by the headstones, and stories of the troops’ sacrifices. The Post buried a short article in the middle of the A-Section (squeezed onto a nearly full-page ad for Mattress Discounters) about the U.S. military killing dozens of Afghan civilians and police in a wayward bombing in some irrelevant Afghan province. The story’s length and placement reflected the usual tacit assumption that any foreigner killed by the U.S. military doesn’t deserve to be treated as fully human.

The Washington Post celebrations of Memorial Day never include any reference to that paper’s culpability in helping the Bush administration deceive America into going to war against Iraq. When Post reporters dug up the facts that exposed the Bush administration’s false claims on the Iraqi peril, editors sometimes ignored or buried their revelations. Washington Post Pentagon correspondent Thomas Ricks complained that in the lead-up to the U.S. invasion of Iraq, “There was an attitude among editors: ‘Look, we’re going to war, why do we even worry about all this contrary stuff?’”

The Post continued aiding the war party by minimizing its sordidness. When the Bush administration’s claims on Iraq’s nuclear-weapons program had collapsed, the Washington Post article on the brazen deceits was headlined, “Depiction of Threat Outgrew Supporting Evidence.” According to Post media columnist Howard Kurtz, the press are obliged to portray politicians as if they are honest. He commented in 2007, “From August 2002 until the war was launched in March of 2003 there were about 140 front-page pieces in the Washington Post making the administration’s case for war. It was, ‘The President said yesterday.’ ‘The Vice President said yesterday.’ ‘The Pentagon said yesterday.’ Well, that’s part of our job. Those people want to speak. We have to provide them a platform. I don’t have [sic] anything wrong with that.”

The Post was not alone in its groveling to war. Major television networks behaved like government-owned subsidiaries for much of the period before and during the Iraq War. CNN chief news executive Eason Jordan explained a month after the United States attacked Iraq, “I went to the Pentagon myself several times before the war started and met with important people there and said, for instance, at CNN, ‘Here are the generals we’re thinking of retaining to advise us on the air and off about the war,’ and we got a big thumbs-up on all of them. That was important.” Jessica Yellin, a CNN correspondent who formerly worked for MSNBC, commented in 2008, “When the lead-up to the war began, the press corps was under enormous pressure from corporate executives, frankly, to make sure that this was a war that was presented in a way that was consistent with the patriotic fever in the nation and the president’s high approval ratings.” NBC news anchor Katie Couric stated that there was pressure from “the corporations who own where we work and from the government itself to really squash any kind of dissent or any kind of questioning of it.”

Before the war, almost all the broadcast news stories on Iraq originated with the federal government. PBS’ Bill Moyers noted that “of the 414 Iraq stories broadcast on NBC, ABC, and CBS nightly news, from September 2002 until February 2003, almost all the stories could be traced back to sources from the White House, the Pentagon, and the State Department.”

But this record of servility and deceit has not slackened the media’s enthusiasm to drench Memorial Day with sanctimony.

In reality, Memorial Day should be a time to remember the government’s crimes against the people. Politicians have perennially sent young Americans to die for false causes or on wild-goose chases.

Over the past century, war memorials have become increasingly popular. However, most of the memorials do little or nothing to inform people of the chicaneries or deceits that paved the way to or perpetuated the war. It would be a vast improvement if each war memorial also had an adjacent monument of major lies—such as an engraved plaque listing the major deceits by which the American public were swayed to support sending American boys off to die for some grand cause.

The Vietnam War memorial in Washington, for instance, lists the names of each American killed in that conflict. If that memorial could be complemented by excerpts from the Pentagon Papers—or from some of the major admissions of deceit by some of that war’s policymakers—the effect on the public would be far more uplifting.

General Patton said that an ounce of sweat can save a pint of blood. Similarly, a few hours studying the lessons of history can prevent heaps of grave-digging in the coming years. President Trump has saber-rattled against Iran, North Korea, Syria, and other nations. His bellicose rhetoric should spur Americans to review the follies and frauds of past wars before it is too late to stop the next pointless bloodbath.

Memorial Day can benefit from the creativity of free spirits across the board. Tom Blanton, the mastermind of the website Project for a New American Revolution, proposed in an exchange on my website changing Memorial Day to make it far more realistic:

It used to be that Memorial Day was to honor dead soldiers. In recent years, we are asked to also honor veterans (who already have a day) and active duty members of the armed services. This may be an indication that the politicians feel there aren’t enough dead soldiers…

I think Memorial Day should simply be renamed Tombstone Day and people should decorate their yards with styrofoam tombstones like they do for Halloween. True-believers might even consider a few flag-draped coffins made of cardboard and maybe hanging dismembered arms and legs made of rubber from their trees.

Blanton’s proposal would provide a shot in the arm for party stores during the slow period between Valentine’s Day and Halloween. And it would be a spark for conversations that were far more substantive than the usual flag waving.

I would favor celebrating Memorial Day the way the British used to celebrate Guy Fawkes Day. Fawkes was the leader of a conspiracy in 1604 to blow up the Parliament building in London. Until recently, the British celebrated the anniversary of that day by burning Guy Fawkes in effigy. (Government officials have recently banned such burnings on the grounds that something bad might happen because of the fires. The movie V for Vendetta probably made some bureaucrats nervous.)

It would be appropriate to celebrate Memorial Day by burning in effigy the politicians whose lies led to the deaths of so many Americans (and innocent foreigners). Those whose images deserve to be torched run the gamut from Lyndon Johnson to Defense Secretary Robert McNamara to Richard Nixon to Bill Clinton (Kosovo) to George W. Bush (Iraq, et cetera), to Barack Obama (Afghanistan, Libya, et cetera). Donald Trump’s warring has primarily resulted in the killing of foreigners, but they are also worthy of remembrance and lamentation. The burnings could be accompanied by recitations of the major offenses against the truth and liberty that each politician committed.

The best way to honor American war dead is to cancel politicians’ prerogative to send troops abroad to fight on any and every pretext. And one of the best steps towards that goal is to remember the lies for which soldiers died.

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What on Earth Is the US Doing by Bombing Somalia? – Antiwar.com Original

Posted by M. C. on May 16, 2020

https://original.antiwar.com/Danny_Sjursen/2020/05/15/what-on-earth-is-the-us-doing-by-bombing-somalia/

The Trump administration has quietly ramped up a vicious bombing – and covert raiding – campaign in Somalia amid a global coronavirus pandemic. Neither the White House nor the Pentagon has provided any explanation for the deadly escalation of a war that Congress hasn’t declared and the media rarely reports. At stake are many thousands of lives.

The public statistics show a considerable increase in airstrikes from Obama’s presidency. From 2009 to 2016, the U.S. military’s Africa Command (AFRICOM) announced 36 airstrikes in Somalia. Under Trump, it conducted at least 63 bombing raids just last year, with another 39 such attacks in the first four months of 2020. The ostensible US target has usually been the Islamist insurgent group al-Shabab, but often the real – or at least consequent – victims are long-embattled Somali civilians.

As for the most direct victims, it’s become clear that notoriously image-conscious AFRICOM public affairs officers have long undercounted and underreported the number of civilians killed in their expanding aerial bombardments. According to Airwars, a UK-based airstrike monitoring group, civilian fatalities – while low relative to other bombing campaigns in Iraq, Afghanistan, or Syria – may exceed official Pentagon estimates by as much as 6,800 percent. Only these deaths don’t tell the half of it. Tens of thousands of Somalis have fled areas that the US regularly bombs, filtering into already overcrowded refugee camps outside of the capital of Mogadishu.

There are approximately 2.6 million internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Somalia who barely survive and are often reliant on humanitarian aid. So vulnerable are the refugees in the pandemic-petri-dish camps, that one mother of seven described feeling “like we are waiting for death to come.” Her fears may prove justified. Recently, coronavirus cases have risen rapidly in Somalia – a country with no public health system to speak of – and due to severely limited testing availability, experts believe the actual tally is much higher than reported. No matter how AFRICOM spins it, their escalatory war will only exacerbate the country’s slow-boiling crisis.

A Sordid Backstory

While comprehensive analysis of the sordid history of US military operations in Somalia would fill multiple volumes, it’s worth recalling the basic contours of Washington’s record. During the Cold War, the US pressured the United Nations to hand over the ethnically Somali Ogaden region to Ethiopia, then proceeded to arm and back this sworn enemy of Mogadishu. That is until Marxist Ethiopian military officers took power in a 1974 putsch, at which point America turned on a dime, and changed sides. Washington then backed Somalia in the ensuing war over Ogaden. Over the next decade and a half, the US propped up the abusive and corrupt Somali dictator Mohammed Siad Barre.

Nevertheless, after the Berlin Wall came down and Barre, a notorious human rights-violator, had outlived his Cold War usefulness, Congress cut off military and – more importantly – economic aid. Barre was soon toppled in a coup, and clan-based militias carved up the remnants of the Somali state. Civil war raged, and hundreds of thousands of civilians starved to death in the ensuing famine. Thanks to the blockbuster 2001 Hollywood film “Blackhawk Down,” what came next is the one bit of Somali history most Americans know. In 1992, US troops filtered into Somalia to support what began as a United Nations humanitarian response. No doubt, they eventually did some good.

In the chaos, the UN and especially the UStook sides in the civil war. Then after American special operators killed numerous civilians in the hunt for one particular warlord, thousands of angry Somalis turned on a group of army rangers and Delta Force commandos during another botched raid. In the day-long battle that inspired the film, 18 US soldiers and – far less reported – some 500 Somali men, women, and children were killed. With no stomach for the bad press of body bags being brought home, President Bill Clinton pulled the troops out within months.

For several years, Washington reverted to largely ignoring the ongoing Somali tragedy. That is until the 2001 terror attacks in New York and Washington, D.C., placed the region – and anything vaguely Islamist – into the Pentagon’s crosshairs. There hadn’t been much of an al-Qaeda presence in Somalia at the time, so the US basically “invented” one. In 2006, after an imperfect but popular Islamic Courts movement brought some stability to the capitol, Washington encouraged, backed, and even took part in an Ethiopian invasion.

This too backfired. The more hardline al-Shabab was empowered, largely catalyzed, and grew in popularity through its resistance to the illegal Ethiopian occupation and to the corrupt UN and U.S.-backed interim governments that followed. What AFRICOM’s director of operations called the “disease” of al-Shabab is now used as a vague justification of the latest escalation in US airstrikes.

AFRICOM Inertia

How many Americans know that some 500800 US troops are based in Somalia at any given time? Fewer still likely have the faintest idea that three Americans were killed in neighboring Kenya just a few months back, when al-Shabab nearly overran an airbase that housed some US troops.

Apathy and ignorance are troubling enough, but as has been the case for nearly all recent interventions in the Greater Middle East, Washington’s aggressive Somalia policy has proven counterproductive. The more intense and overt the US military strikes and presence, the more empowered al-Shabab becomes since the group is as much nationalist resistant movement as terror group. While this admittedly abhorrent crew kills and oppresses Somali civilians as much as or more than American bombs or U.S.-backed government security forces, Washington’s self-sabotage is real. As a Brown University Costs of War Project report concludes: “Al-Shabaab is fueled, in part, by the US war against it.” Though affiliated with al-Qaeda, al-Shabab’s recruits, expertise, and grievances are mainly local. Most funding comes from piracy and other criminal enterprises.

The United Nations with tacit support from even America’s NATO allies has called for a global ceasefire during the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump team has only escalated military actions in various hotspots – particularly Somalia. This won’t play well with allies, adversaries, or neutral nations alike. If anything, it will drive the latter into the arms of Russia or China. In the face of such strategic inertia, one can’t help but wish the US military would heed its own doctrine.

It might start with number four on its list of the eight “paradoxes” of counterinsurgency: “Doing Nothing is Sometimes the Best Action.”

This article was produced by Globetrotter, a project of the Independent Media Institute.

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Pentagon Mum on WMD Grant to Wuhan Lab-Connected Firm

Posted by M. C. on May 5, 2020

It’s disgusting hardworking US taxpayer dollars were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. President Trump was absolutely correct to freeze that funding from the National Institute of Health …

The Pentagram is directly involved with the Wuhan lab yet they along with the CDC, WHO, NIH, NIAID, CIA, FIB and NSA were caught off guard.

This does not pass the smell test. Some or all had to know what was going on yet chose not raise the alarm.

Was this an experiment gone very bad?

https://www.breitbart.com/politics/2020/05/04/pentagon-mum-on-wmd-grant-to-wuhan-lab-connected-firm/

by Kristina Wong

The Pentagon has stayed silent on why it gave a multimillion-dollar contract to a New York firm that sent U.S. taxpayer money to a lab in Wuhan, China, that is now the center of global scrutiny as the potential origin of the coronavirus.

On Friday, Breitbart News first reported that Rep. Guy Reschenthaler (R-PA) had sent a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper inquiring about the 2017 contract, which gave $6.5 million to EcoHealth Alliance, which funded work on bat coronaviruses at the Wuhan Institute of Virology.

The grant was specifically for “understanding the risk of bat-borne zoonotic disease emergence in Western Asia.” The last Pentagon payment was just over a month ago, in the amount of $1,509,531 for a project to be completed in October 2022.

Reschenthaler wrote Esper on Thursday asking if any portion of the multimillion-dollar grant to EcoHealth Alliance went to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, and if so, what he is doing to ensure that American money is no longer going to the lab.

“What is the DOD doing to ensure American dollars can no longer be utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the [People’s Republic of China]?” Reschenthaler wrote Esper.

Breitbart News on Friday sent an email query to the chief Pentagon spokesman for a comment on the letter but has yet to receive a response.

Reschenthaler sent the letter to Esper a week after the Trump administration terminated National Institute of Health (NIH) funding for an EcoHealth Alliance project that collaborated with the Wuhan Institute of Virology on bat coronaviruses.

The congressman said in a statement last week:

It’s disgusting hardworking US taxpayer dollars were sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology. President Trump was absolutely correct to freeze that funding from the National Institute of Health …

To learn a $6.5 million Department of Defense grant was awarded to the same organization that sent US taxpayer dollars to the WIV, EcoHealth Alliance, is deeply concerning. I sent this letter to the DOD because we must get to the bottom of whether DOD grant funding was also sent to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, the potential epicenter of the COVID-19 outbreak. Given the Chinese Communist Party’s cover-up of the origins and global threat posed by COVID-19, it is critical we ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used to support their activities.

On Saturday, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence said the Intelligence Community is “rigorously” examining emerging information and intelligence to determine whether the coronavirus outbreak began through contact with infected animals or was the result of an accident at a laboratory in Wuhan.

 

Reschenthaler’s letter to Esper noted, “similarities between EcoHealth Alliance’s NIH research and the description of the 2017 DOD grant” and asked Esper a series of questions:

Has any portion of DOD funding granted to EcoHealth Alliance or any other DOD grant recipient been given to or used in collaboration with the Wuhan Institute of Virology or any research laboratory in the People’s Republic of China (PRC)?

If no, what, if any, steps is DOD taking to determine whether department grant funding was utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the PRC?

If yes, what is the DOD doing to ensure American dollars can no longer be utilized by the Wuhan Institute of Virology or another research laboratory in the PRC?

Reschenthaler, in the conclusion of his letter to Esper, noted that he is concerned U.S. taxpayer dollars may have been connected to this Wuhan lab and wants to be sure taxpayer funds were not misused.

“Given the Chinese Communist Party’s cover up of the global threat posed by COVID-19, it is critical we ensure taxpayer dollars are not being used to support their activities,” he wrote. “I appreciate your commitment to our national security, our servicemembers, and their families.”

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A Most Sordid Profession – LewRockwell

Posted by M. C. on April 9, 2020

Why does the military not win wars? In part because winning is not in the interest of the Pentagon and those who feed on it. Wars generate profitable contracts for all manner of supplies and equipment. Either winning or losing ends the gravy train.

https://www.lewrockwell.com/2020/04/fred-reed/a-most-sordid-profession/

A few thoughts on our disastrous trillion-dollar military:

It is unnecessary. It does not defend the United States. The last time it did so was in 1945. The United States has no military enemies. No nation has anything even close to the forces necessary to invade America, and probably none the desire. A fifth of the budget would suffice for any real needs.

“Our boys” are not noble warriors protecting democracy, rescuing maidens, and righting wrongs. They are, like all soldiers, obedient and amoral killers. Pilots bombing Iraq or Syria know they are killing civilians. They do not care. If ordered to bomb Switzerland, they would do it. This is the nature of all armies. Glamorizing this most reprehensible trades is just a means of usefully stimulating the pack instinct which we often call patriotism.

The militarily is America’s worst enemy. It does enormous damage to the United States while providing almost no benefit. Start with the war on Vietnam that cost hugely in money and lives, ours and theirs, with no benefit. Iraq: high cost, no benefit. Afghanistan: High cost, no benefit. Syria: High cost, no benefit.

The costs in lives and money do not include the staggering cost of weapons that do nothing for America or Americans. Do you, the reader, believe that you are safer because of the F-35? Do a dozen aircraft carriers improve the lives of your children? Will the B-21, an unbelievably expensive new thermonuclear bomber, make your streets safer? Then add the bleeding of engineering talent better spent on advancing America’s economic competitiveness. The country has many crying needs, falls behind China, but money and talent go to the military.

We cannot escape from the soldiers. The armed forces have embedded themselves so deeply into the country that they have almost become the country. America is little more than a funding mechanism for what clumsily may be called the military-industrial-intelligence-media-Israeli complex. Some of these entities belong to the military (NSA). Some depend on it (Lockheed-Martin). Some use it to their own ends (Israel), but the military is the central infection from which the other symptoms flow. Congress? A storefront, a subcommittee of the Knesset or, as P. J. O’Rourke put it, a parliament of whores. Factories, jobs, contracts, towns depend on military spending. If the Second Marine Division folded, Jacksonville NC would dry up and blow away. So would dozens of other towns. Without military spending, California’s economy would crash. Universities depend on military research funding.

The military has achieved its current autonomy by degrees, unnoticed. The Pentagon learned much in Vietnam, not about fighting wars, which it still cannot do well, but about managing its real enemy, the public. The media, which savaged the war on Vietnam, are now firmly controlled by the corporations that own them. Thus we do not see photos of the horrors committed by American aircraft bombing cities. While the existence of phenomenally expensive weapons like the B-21 is not quite suppressed, coverage is so slight that most Americans have never heard of it. This the Complex learned from the F-35 debacle. And of course Congress, thoroughly bought and wanting jobs in its districts, allows no serious opposition to anything military. Neither Congress nor the media point out the extent to which military expenditure dominates the economy, draining resources from civilian needs.

Why does the military not win wars? In part because winning is not in the interest of the Pentagon and those who feed on it. Wars generate profitable contracts for all manner of supplies and equipment. Either winning or losing ends the gravy train. For example, the war on Afghanistan of almost two decades has become an entitlement program for the arms industry, accomplishing nothing, killing countless peasants, and lacking purpose other than maintaining an unneeded empire and funneling money to the Complex.

How did the Complex free itself from civilian control? The crucial step in depriving the public of influence was the neutering of the constitutional requirement that wars be declared by Congress. The military thus became the private army of the President and those who control him. Then came the All Volunteer Army, which ended inconvenience to or mutilation of the children of people of importance, leaving the body bags to be filled by deplorables from Memphis or Appalachia or Mexico. America’s wars then became air wars and finally drone wars, reducing casualties to very few. The public, both ignorant and uninvolved, became acquiescent.

As I write, we wait to see whether Trump, and those behind him, will put America deeper into the Mid-East and perhaps war with Russia. If he does, we will read about it the next day in the newspapers. It will be expensive, dangerous, and of no benefit to anyone but the arms industry and Israel.

Despite the asphyxiating economic presence, the military keeps aloof from America. This too serves the purposes of the Complex, further preventing attention by the public to what is not its business. In the days of conscription there was a familiarity with the armed services. Young men from most social classes wore the uniform however ruefully and told of their experiences. Not now. The career military have always tended to keep to themselves, to socialize with each other as the police do. Now the isolation is almost hermetic. You can spend years in Washington or New York and never meet a colonel. Military society with its authoritarianism, its uniforms and its uniform government-issue outlook is not compatible with civil society. To the cultivated, military officers seem simple-minded, conformist and…well, weird.

Add it all up and you see that the citizenry has no say–none–over the Complex, which is autonomous and out of control. If the Complex wants war with Russia or China, we will have-war with Russia or China. Ask people whether they would prefer a naval base in Qatar–which most have never heard of, either the base or the country–or decent heath care. Then ask them which they have.

The military destroys America and there is nothing–nothing at all–that you can do about it.

Further, the Complex drives foreign policy, and in directions of no benefit to America or Americans. For example, the contrived fury against Russia. Why this? Russia presents no danger to America or anyone else. The Complex makes foreign policy for its own ends, not ours.

A rising Asia is challenging the America military Empire. The tide runs against the Complex. North Korea faced Washington down and became a nuclear power. The Crimea went back irrevocably to Russia. East Ukraine does the same. Iran got its treaty and becomes part of the world order. In the South China Sea, China ignores the US, which once was supreme in all the seas. The war against Afghanistan heads for its third decade and the war on Syria seems to have failed. Other things go badly for the Empire. The dollar is under siege as reserve currency. China grows economically, advances rapidly in technology and, doubtless terrifying to Washington, tries to integrate Asia and Europe into a vast economic bloc. The Complex beats the war drums as its fingers loosen on the world’s collective throat.

Washington desperately needs to stop the rollback of American power, stop the erosion of the dollar, block the economic integration of Eurasia and Latin America, keep Russia from trading amicably with Europe. It will do anything to maintain its grip. All of its remote wars in far-off savage lands, of no importance to America or Americans, are to this purpose. A militarized America threatens Russia, threatens China, threatens Iran, threatens North Korea, threatens Venezuela, expands NATO, on and on.

America has been hijacked.

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How Generals Fueled 1918 Flu Pandemic to Win Their World War | The American Conservative

Posted by M. C. on April 6, 2020

Just like today, brass and bureaucrats ignored warnings, and sent troops overseas despite the consequences.

It was called the “Spanish flu” only because, while the United States, Britain and France were all censoring news about the spread of the pandemic in their countries to maintain domestic morale, the press in neutralist Spain was reporting freely on influenza cases there. In fact, the first major wave of infections in the United States came in U.S. training camps set up to serve the war.

A good reason to bring troops home, close foreign bases and spend those trillions on actually saving American lives.

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/how-generals-fueled-1918-flu-pandemic-to-win-their-world-war/

An emergency hospital at Camp Funston, Kansas, 1918. (National Archives)

The U.S. military has been forced by the coronavirus pandemic to make some serious changes in their operations. But the Pentagon, and especially the Navy, have also displayed a revealing resistance to moves to stand down that were clearly needed to protect troops from the raging virus from the start.

The Army and Marine Corps have shifted from in-person to virtual recruitment meetings. But the Pentagon has reversed an initial Army decision to postpone further training and exercises for at least 30 days, and it has decided to continue sending new recruits from all the services to basic training camps, where they would no doubt be unable to sustain social distancing.

On Thursday, the captain of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt, on which the virus was reportedly spreading, was relieved of command. He was blamed by his superiors for the leak of a letter he wrote warning the Navy that failure to act rapidly threatened the health of his 5,000 sailors.

Secretary of Defense Mark Esper justified his decision to continue many military activities as usual by declaring these activities are “critical to national security.” But does anyone truly believe there is a military threat on the horizon that the Pentagon must prepare for right now? It is widely understood outside the Pentagon that the only real threat to that security is the coronavirus itself.

Esper’s decisions reflect a deeply ingrained Pentagon habit of protecting its parochial military interests at the expense of the health of American troops. This pattern of behavior recalls the far worse case of the U.S. service chiefs once managing the war in Europe. They acted with even greater callousness toward the troops being called off to war in Europe during the devastating “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918, which killed 50 million people worldwide.

It was called the “Spanish flu” only because, while the United States, Britain and France were all censoring news about the spread of the pandemic in their countries to maintain domestic morale, the press in neutralist Spain was reporting freely on influenza cases there. In fact, the first major wave of infections in the United States came in U.S. training camps set up to serve the war.

Abundant documentary evidence shows that the 1918 pandemic actually began in Haskell County, Kansas, in early 1918, when many residents came down with an unusually severe type of influenza. Some county residents were then sent to the Army’s Camp Funston at Ft. Riley, Kansas, the military’s largest training facility, training 50,000 recruits at a time for the war. Within two weeks, thousands of soldiers at the camp became sick with the new influenza virus, and 38 died.

Recruits at 14 of 32 large military training camps set up across the country to feed the U.S. war in Europe soon reported similar influenza outbreaks, apparently because some troops from Camp Funston had been sent there. By May 1918, hundreds of thousands of troops, many of whom were already infected, began boarding troopships bound for Europe, and the crowding onboard the ships created ideal conditions for the virus to explode further.

In the trenches in France, still more U.S. troops continued to be sickened by the virus, at first with milder illness and relatively few deaths But the war managers simply evacuated the sick and brought in fresh replacements, allowing the virus to adapt and mutate into more virulent and more lethal strains.

The consequences of that approach to the war became evident after the August 27 arrival in Boston harbor, when visitors brought a much more virulent and lethal strain of the virus; it quickly entered Boston itself and by September 8, had appeared at Camp Devens outside the city. Within ten days, the camp had thousands of soldiers sick with the new strain, and some of those infected at the camp boarded troops ships for Europe.

Meanwhile the lethal new strain spread from Camp Devens across the United States through September and October, ravaging one city after another. From September onward, the U.S. command in France, led by Gen. John Pershing, and the war managers in the War Department in Washington, were well aware that both U.S. troops already in Europe and the American public were suffering vast numbers of severe illnesses and death from the pandemic.

Nevertheless, Pershing continued to call for large numbers of the replacements for those stricken at the front lines, as well as for new divisions to launch a major offensive late in the year. In a message to the War Department on September 3, Pershing demanded an additional 179,000 troops.

The internal debate that followed that request, recounted by historian Carol R. Byerly, documents the chilling indifference of Pershing and the military bureaucracy in Washington to the fate of American troops they planned to send to war. After watching the horror of lethally-infected soldiers dying of pneumonia in the infected camps, acting Army Surgeon General Charles Richard strongly advised Army Chief of Staff Peyton March in late September against sending troops from the infected camps to France until the epidemic had been brought under control in the surrounding region, and March agreed.

Richard then asked for stopping the draft calls for young men heading for any camp known to be already infected. March wouldn’t go that far, and although the October draft was called off, it was to resume in November. The War Department acknowledged the heavy toll the pandemic was taking on U.S. troops in October 10, informing Pershing that he would get his troops by November 30, “if we are not stopped on account of Influenza, which has now passed the 200,000 mark.”

Richard then called for troops to be quarantined for a week before being shipped to Europe, and that the troopships carry only half the standard number of troops to reduce crowding. When March rejected those moves, which would have made it impossible for him to meet Pershing’s targets, Richard then recommended that all troop shipments be suspended until the influenza pandemic was brought under control, “except such as are demanded by urgent military necessity.”

But the chief of staff rejected such a radical shift in policy, and went to the White House to get President Woodrow Wilson’s approval for the decision. Wilson, obviously recognizing the implications of going ahead under the circumstances, asked why he refused to stop troop transport during the epidemic. March argued that Germany would be encouraged to fight on if it knew “the American divisions and replacements were no longer arriving.”Wilson then approved his decision, refusing to disturb Pershing’s war plans.

But the decision was not carried out fully. The German Supreme Command had already demanded that the Kaiser accept Wilson’s 14 points, and the armistice was signed on November 11.

The disastrous character of the U.S. elite running the First World War is clearly revealed with the astonishing fact that more American soldiers were killed and hospitalized by influenza (63,114) than in combat (53,402). And an estimated 340,00 American troops were hospitalized with influenza/pneumonia, compared with 227,000 hospitalized by Germans attacks.

The lack of concern of Washington bureaucrats for the well-being of the troops, as they pursue their own war interests, appears to be a common pattern—seen too, in the U.S. wars in Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq. Now it has been revealed once again in the stunningly callous response of the Pentagon to the coronavirus pandemic crisis.

In the 1918 war, there was no protest against that cold indifference, but there are now indications that the families of soldiers put being at risk are expressing their anger about it openly to representatives of the military. In a time of socio-political upheaval, and vanishing tolerance for the continuation of endless war, it could be a harbinger of accelerated unraveling of political tolerance for the war state’s overweening power.

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Responsible Statecraft

Posted by M. C. on April 2, 2020

Former Army head-honcho, and current Joint Chiefs Chairman, Mark Milley, has repeatedly, and forcefully, defined “readiness” as his top priority. Real coherency on (readiness) “for what” has been less forthcoming. Regardless, his resolute guidance and Esper’s recent incongruous general instructions -—“find a way” to both “protect troops [from Corona]” and “still perform” essential operations — lock subordinates in an absurd Catch-22.

It comes down to a question of what, exactly, America’s Army is for: genuine homeland defense, per the military officers’ oath — against foreign and domestic (like corona) enemies — or repeatedly ill-fated, distant adventures?

https://responsiblestatecraft.org/2020/03/28/absurdity-and-the-army-the-myth-of-readiness-in-the-corona-age/


Danny Sjursen

Banality may mask absurd tragedy. The Pentagon specializes in such veiled bromides. If anything, this Age of Corona is thus illustrative. To wit, Americans awoke on Thursday to this report in the nation’s “paper of record” — “The Army earlier this week ordered a halt to most training, exercises and nonessential activities that require troops to be in close contact…but abruptly reversed itself. …”

On a certain level, the rescinded order made sense. After all, military decisions flow downward. Atop that hierarchy sits the commander-in-chief, who, just days ago, hinted at rapidly curtailed social distancing policies, a reopened economy, and visions of “packed churches” on Easter Sunday. That’s two odd weeks from now.

Still, in the wake of the Army’s volte-face, word was, a sort of befuddlement ensued — in the ranks, and among commanders. Yet I couldn’t help but think: vacillation, conflicting leadership priorities, uncertainty (plus cynicism) in the ranks, and confusion up and down the chain-of-command — what else is new? Sardonicism aside, my sympathy lay, partly, with the common soldiers and junior officers — many still-serving personal friends — caught up in the whole fiasco.

The decision was absurd; that much seems certain. The famed — and ever-so corona-relevant — philosopher, Albert Camus, defined the contours of absurdism in his 1942 classic, “The Myth of Sisyphus.” Absurdity: there’s no term more fitting for such Army decision-making in the face of increasingly stark facts.

Like this one: on Thursday morning, the Pentagon reported “280 cases of coronavirus among active-duty troops, putting the infection rates at higher levels in the military than in the United States itself: 210 positive tests per million people versus 166 per million.” This from the Joint Chiefs’ top medical adviser, Brigadier General Paul Friedrichs, who confessed, “Our curve is not flattening.” Worse still, at one joint base, Camp Lemmonier, Djibouti — part of an increasingly expansive African network — there were reports of an infected DOD contractor. This installation (a former Imperial French Foreign Legion garrison) counts some 3,000 U.S. personnel. It does not, however, possess a requisite supply of ventilators. And Lemmonier is by far the Pentagon’s largest on the continent.

The sizable assortment of much smaller, widely dispersed, far-flung bases are undoubtedly less prepared for pandemic. No matter, the Army — and one presumes the whole DOD — seems intent to drive on with not only the most imperative but (according to Defense Secretary Mark Esper) “all of our missions.” Assume, for the sake of argument, that Esper really meant the “essential” stuff. This still begs the question of how the Army defines mission essentiality.

Early signals are disturbing. This week, the military went ahead with a 4,000 troop Army-Marines joint exercise alongside America’s Emirati “allies.” The mission’s fittingly neo-colonial title was Operation Native Fury. Therein, the partnered force seized “a sprawling model Mideast city,” to, presumably, prepare against the decidedly non- (or at least wildly exaggerated) Iranian threat. “Provocative? I don’t know,” was about all the ranking U.S. commander had to say about that.

All indications point to a White House and Pentagon possessed with an irrational attachment to “essential” missions that aren’t. Indeed, the very term’s prevailing definition stretches the English language past any reasonable breaking point.

Former Army head-honcho, and current Joint Chiefs Chairman, Mark Milley, has repeatedly, and forcefully, defined “readiness” as his top priority. Real coherency on (readiness) “for what” has been less forthcoming. Regardless, his resolute guidance and Esper’s recent incongruous general instructions -—“find a way” to both “protect troops [from Corona]” and “still perform” essential operations — lock subordinates in an absurd Catch-22.

It goes something like this: the Trump-Esper-Milley national security formula, like that of their recent forbears, requires incessant forward deployment and its incumbent joint training and exercises. That, however, makes the DOD’s own social-distancing policy inherently unworkable, thereby risking a sweeping corona-outbreak in the ranks that’s liable to paralyze the very “readiness” they purport to preserve.

So, while one is far more likely to spy an Ayn Rand than a Camus book on a general’s desk — libertarianism is peculiarly prevalent among military officers — it’d behoove army leaders to heed the French-Algerian philosopher’s fitting rejoinder: “Seeking what is true is not seeking what is desirable.” In this case, what’s inconveniently “true” is that no external “enemy” rises anywhere near the peril of coronavirus. Nor can the Pentagon can’t have it both ways: “readiness” — as they define it — and “preserving the force” are opposing concepts.

It comes down to a question of what, exactly, America’s Army is for: genuine homeland defense, per the military officers’ oath — against foreign and domestic (like corona) enemies — or repeatedly ill-fated, distant adventures? Here and now, the virus is the real threat. Washington must focus on containing it, not an inflated threat from — corona-crippled — Iran. That’s the only strategic, and decent, course.

Business as usual, remaining wedded to careers’ worth of dubious presumptions — on ostensible threats, and how to counter them — may satisfy some generals’ subconscious need for paradigmatic comfort. The problem is, this pervasive proclivity makes the nation less safe, and, incidentally, may kill countless soldiers.

It is difficult to know what will come of the Army’s latest decision. What’s equally hard to predict is the organization’s upcoming role, both at home, or in the nation’s countless — in some cases escalatory — ongoing wars. Regardless, the safe money says the victims will, as ever, be rank-and-file troopers and foreign civilians. The citizens of America’s “enemy” states already suffer under cruel sanctions and — real or threatened — bombing. Some number of U.S. soldiers will be killed in these current, or future, ill-advised, unnecessary, wars; far more may die as a result of the Army’s corona-intransigence. Such is the tragedy of the absurd.

Around the time he published “The Myth of Sisyphus,” Camus, too, lived amidst crisis — even editing a Resistance newspaper — during the Nazi occupation of France. Nonetheless, the philosopher’s identification of life’s inherent absurdity, he was quite clear, need not engender apathetic despair. Rather, he professed, the “struggle itself…is enough to fill man’s heart,” that we should radically care for one another, and only thus can “keep civilization from destroying itself.” Consider this Camus’ eternal challenge to both president and the Pentagon.

Only today, contra his essay’s closing riposte, it’s rather difficult to “imagine” America’s Sisyphean soldiers — condemned, it seems, by their gods (generals and politicians) to eternally roll boulders up militarist mountains – as “happy.”

Be seeing you

 

 

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