Archive for the ‘War and Peace’ Category

War hawk Clinton vs. pro-Putin Trump

July 27, 2016

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Donald Trump admires Vladimir Putin and wants better a partnership with Russia.

Hillary Clinton has compared Putin with Hitler, and is willing to risk war with Russia.

This is a big difference, and an important campaign issue.

With Hillary Clinton, you have the likelihood of more war and useless bloodshed, and the real possibility of a nuclear that will leave much of North American and northern Eurasia in smouldering, radioactive ruins.

With Donald Trump, you have the likelihood of a President of the United States, whose judgment is erratic to begin with, and who is under the influence of a wily and ruthless foreign ruler.

I don’t agree with either, but, of the two, I think Clinton represents the greater danger.  Russian influence could be checkmated and rooted out.  A nuclear war would be the end of everything.

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Hillary Clinton and the danger of nuclear war

July 14, 2016

The worst thing that an American President could do is to provoke a nuclear war with Russia.

I think that, based on her record and rhetoric, Hillary Clinton would put the USA at greater risk of nuclear war than her predecessors.

As adviser to her husband in the 1990s and as Secretary of State, she was a voice for war.  Her campaign web site is about her credentials as a war hawk.  It is no coincidence that so war hawks of the George W. Bush support her for President.

Victoria Nuland

Victoria Nuland

Her protege, Victoria Nuland, assistant secretary of state for European and Eurasian affairs, promotes economic warfare and covert warfare against Russia, while promoting regime change in Ukraine and attempting to draw Ukraine and Georgia into an anti-Russian alliance.  This is as dangerous as Khrushchev’s placing missiles in Cuba in 1962.

Pro-Russian news sources predict war if Hillary Clinton is elected.  I think Russian fears are significant because they could be a self-fulfilling prophecy.  If you think somebody is poised to attack you, you’re going to be ready to strike at them before they do.

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Hillary Clinton and her war hawks

June 23, 2016

Correction: I mischaracterized Michele Flournoy’s position, based on reporting by Michael Tucker of Defense One, which was quoted by Glenn Greenwald.  For Michele Flournoy’s rebuttal, read her letter below the fold.

Hillary Clinton’s two likely choices for Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense are Victoria Nuland and Michéle Flournoy, both war hawks.

Nuland would intensify confrontation with Russia.  Flournoy would send more U.S. troops step up military activity in the Middle East.

The U.S. is already dangerously close to war with Russia, and U.S. interventions in the Middle East have only made things worse.

A Hillary Clinton administration would not back off from these dangerous and counterproductive war policies.  It would double down on them.

LINKS

Hillary Clinton’s Likely Pentagon Chief Already Advocating for More Bombing and Intervention by Glenn Greenwald for The Intercept.  (Hat tip to Bill Harvey)

Hillary Clinton’s Likely Defense Secretary Wants More US Troops Fighting ISIS and Assad by Patrick Tucker for Defense One.  [added later]

Clinton’s Hawk-in-Waiting by Philip Giraldi for The American Conservative.

Neocon War Hawks Want Hillary Clinton Over Donald Trump: No Surprise—They’ve Always Backed Her by Branco Marcetic for In These Times.

Potential Hillary Clinton Pentagon chief calls for increased action against Isis by David Smith for The Guardian.

The Mess that Nuland Made by Robert Parry for Consortium News.

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The danger of nuclear war is real and growing

June 15, 2016

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The danger of a U.S. nuclear war with Russia is real and growing.

The risk is not that an American or Russian President would deliberately start a nuclear war.  The risk is that U.S. policy is creating a situation in which a nuclear war could be touched off by accident.

_89672013_missile_defence_map624_no_iranDuring the Obama administration, the U.S. government has cancelled the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, installed a missile defense system in Rumania and is in the process of installing a system in Poland.

What is the harm of a defensive system?  It is that the ruler of a country with a missile defense system might be tempted to launch a missile attack, in the hope that the enemy’s retaliatory missiles might be stopped.

A defense system that is not strong enough to stop an enemy’s first strike attack might be strong enough to defend against retaliation from an attack, since much of the enemy’s weapons will have been destroyed.  So, strange as it may seem, setting up a missile defense system can seem like an aggressive act.

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The fantasy of cost-free conflict

May 30, 2016

Novelist Ben Fountain wrote an article in The Guardian on Saturday about how we Americans accept unending foreign wars as normal, although only a tiny number of us are willing to fight in those wars.

We know the fantasy version, the movie version, but only that 1% of the nation – and their families – who have fought the wars truly know the hardship involved.

Ben Fountain The Guardian

Ben Fountain

For the rest of us, no sacrifice has been called for: none.  No draft.  No war tax (but huge deficits), and here it bears noting that the top tax rate during the second world war was 90%.

No rationing, the very mention of which is good for a laugh.  Rationing?  That was never part of the discussion.

But those years when US soldiers were piling sandbags into their thin-skinned Humvees and welding scrap metal on to the sides also happened to coincide with the heyday of the Hummer here at home.   Where I live in Dallas, you couldn’t drive a couple of blocks without passing one of those beasts, 8,600 hulking pounds of chrome and steel.

Or for a really good laugh, how about this: gas rationing.  If it’s really about the oil, we could support the troops by driving less, walking more.

Or suppose it’s not about the oil at all, but about our freedoms, our values, our very way of life – that it’s truly “a clash of civilizations”, in the words of Senator Rubio. If that’s the case, if this is what we truly believe, then our politicians should call for, and we should accept no less than, full-scale mobilization: a draft, confiscatory tax rates, rationing.

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Lest we forget: the fallen of World War Two

May 30, 2016

Click on fallen.io/ww2 for an interactive version of this video.

World War Two was in sheer numbers the greatest mass slaughter of human beings in human history.  It was an era of great heroism and great crimes—great heroism not only by those who were fighting in the good cause, great crimes not only by those who were fighting in the bad cause.

I take nothing away from the honor due to the Americans who fell at Normandy, Guadalcanal and other battles in saying that, compared to Russians, Poles, Germans and many other nationalities, the USA got off lightly.

The makers of the video take satisfaction in the fact that no comparable mass killing has taken place in the subsequent 70 years.  I think that, overall, this is true—although Koreans, Vietnamese and others might see things differently.

I recall, though, that people in 1913 took satisfaction in the fact that nothing comparable to the Napoleonic Wars had taken place in Europe for nearly 100 years.  Their mistake was to assume that peace is something that can be taken for granted.

The thing the current generation needs to think about is that there is that is in place that would prevent the outbreak of another world war.   We, too, take too much for granted.

The best way to honor the fallen is to make sure their sacrifice does not have to be repeated.

The growing danger of war with Russia

May 25, 2016

There is only one nation in the world with the power to destroy the USA, and that is Russia, with its stockpile of 1,800 operational nuclear weapons.  Russia would be destroyed in the process, so its leaders would be insane to attempt this unless Russia’s own survival were at risk.

Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama have brought this danger closer by extending NATO forces to the borders of Russia, conducting military exercises close to Russia and attempting to draw Ukraine and Georgia into an anti-Russian alliance.

I can understand why some people in the Baltic states, Poland and other countries formerly under Soviet domination might want U.S. protection and even a U.S. attack on Russia (just as some people in the Caribbean and Central American countries might want the reverse.)

The problem is that NATO forces probably could not defeat the Russia army in a war close to Russia’s borders, just as Russia could not successfully defend a Caribbean or Central American country.

It’s generally admitted that NATO in Cold War times could not stopped a Red Army invasion of western Europe.  That is why the U.S. government has never pledged “no first use” of nuclear weapons.  The US depended on nuclear weapons as an ultimate deterrent, and still does.

Another danger is that, if Russia’s leaders felt threatened, they might strike first.  Or war might be triggered accidentally, as has almost happened many times in the past.

Terrorist movements such as ISIS and Al Qaeda are criminal and loathsome, but they do not threaten the existence of the United States.  Nuclear war does.

Both George W. Bush and Barack Obama took office saying they intended to improve relations with Vladimir Putin’s Russia.  The fact that this didn’t happen makes me wonder about the power of the un-elected Deep State that Mike Lofgren and others have written about.

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Just how evil was Muammar Qaddafi?

May 23, 2016

Hillary Clinton is proud of bringing about the downfall of Muammar Qaddafi of Libya.

Supposedly his rule was so evil, or so much of a threat to the United States, that his downfall and death were necessary.

Just what did Qaddafi do that was so bad and so threatening?

Qaddafi in many ways was like Fidel Castro.

He was definitely a dictator, although by all accounts a popular one.  Although he listened to advice from popular assemblies, he also crushed opposition.  As in Cuba, there were neighborhood watches to identify opponents of the regime.  He supported revolutionary and terrorist movements, including the Provisional IRA, the Palestine Liberation Organization and Nelson Mandela’s African National Congress.   He sent troops to defend the odious Idi Amin of Uganda.

He was a thorn in the side of U.S. foreign policy.  Libya was a founding member of OPEC, and an initiator of the Arab oil embargo of 1973.   He was accused of direct involvement in many terrorist attacks himself.

The best you can say of the crimes of Qaddafi’s government is that he was guilty of few things that the U.S. government was also not guilty of, and of nothing that U.S. allies have not been guilty of.

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How Seymour Hersh uncovers the inside story

May 18, 2016

Seymour Hersh’s writings always remind me of how little I know about what is really going on.

I am better informed as a result of reading his work and watching this video, and you may be, as well.

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US reserves right to ‘first use’ of N-weapons

May 16, 2016

Russia, China and now North Korea have renounced “first use” of nuclear weapons.   The United States has never done so.

I believe North Korea’s leaders because they would be fools to launch a nuclear attack, knowing that their nation would literally be obliterated by the USA in response.

They also would be fools to give up nuclear weapons so long as they are threatened by the USA.  Only possession of nuclear weapons prevents North Korea from meeting the fate if Iraq and Libya.

The United States has never renounced “first use” of nuclear weapons because US conventional forces are not a match for Russia’s in eastern Europe and possibly not for China’s in the South China Sea.

The U.S. government seeks to be the dominant military power in every region of the globe.  The tools for doing this are sea power, air power, flying killer drones, Special Operations troops and subsidized foreign fighters.

But the ultimate backup consists of nuclear weapons, and the power to make a credible threat to use them.  So long as this is U.S. policy, no other nation with nuclear weapons will disarm.  So long as this is U.S. policy, a global nuclear holocaust is still a possibility, just as in the days of the Cold War.

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Libya is Hillary Clinton’s Iraq

May 11, 2016
Hillary Clinton with Libyan soldiers in October 2011 (Reuters)

Hillary Clinton with anti-Qaddafi Libyan fighters in October 2011 (Reuters)

Since NATO-backed forces invaded Libya five years ago, the once stable and prosperous nation has been reduced to chaos and civil war.  Thousands of Libyans have been killed.  Millions are homeless and in fear of their lives.  ISIS has gained a foothold in Libya, which they never had under Muammar Qaddafi.

Hillary Clinton thinks the invasion of Libya five years ago was a success because it achieved its objective—the overthrow and death of its ruler, Muammar Qaddafi, who had opposed U.S. policy for decades.

Bernie Sanders thinks it was a mistakePresident Obama also thinks it was a mistake, but only because of failure to adequately plan for what came next.

Donald Trump thinks the main thing is to seize Libya’s oil wells, which, no doubt, is already an objective of U.S. policy, but by less obvious means.

The articles linked below tell why the Libyan intervention was a failure from the standpoint of U.S. self-interest.

The question that almost nobody asks—that I myself failed to ask at the time—is whether the United States has a moral right to wage a war of aggression against a foreign country just because somebody thinks it is in our interest to do so.

The Libyan invasion was worse than a blunder.  It was a crime.

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Libya’s Great Man-Made River project

May 10, 2016

ManMadeRiverImg 3 - Libya map 3

Muammar Qaddafi’s Great Man-Made River Project was one of the great engineering achievements of the 20th century.

Water was pumped thousands of miles from underground reservoirs in the southern Libyan desert to the coast, providing free fresh water to 70 percent of Libya’s population.

libwaterpipelaidBut the 2011 NATO attacks in 2011 greatly damaged it, and there’s no telling whether it will be repaired, let alone completed.

Construction of the project began in 1983.  The work was paid for out of Libya’s oil revenues, without any foreign loans.  The pipes were manufactured in Libya.  Foreign contractors were hired for the initial stages of the work, but over time were replaced by Libyans.

The first three phases, shown on the map above, were completed.  The NATO bombings hit a section of the northern part of the Phase One pipe, plus a concrete pipe factory in Brega (al-Buraqah on the map above).   Bombings also hit electric power plants, so that pumps even on the intact pipelines ceased to work.

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The shape of the world arms trade

May 6, 2016

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Source: Business Insider.

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How Hillary Clinton used liberalism to justify war

May 3, 2016

Hillary Clinton’s has been a steadfast proponent of aggressive war throughout her career in national politics.  The interesting thing is how she has justified this in the language of liberalism, humanitarianism and human rights.

As unofficial adviser to her husband, President Bill Clinton, she pushed for military intervention in the former Yugoslavia.  As a U.S. Senator, she joined with Senator John McCain in pressing for military confrontation with Russia.   As Secretary of State, she talked President Obama into the disastrous intervention in Libya.

Unprovoked attacks on foreign nations were defined by the Nuremberg Tribunal as a war crime.   But Clinton and other militaristic liberals have found a way to justify such crimes in terms of preventing crimes against humanity.

Diana Johnstone

Diana Johnstone

Diana Johnstone, an experienced American freelance journalist living in Paris, has written a new book,  QUEEN OF CHAOS: the Misadventures of Hillary Clinton, which is about Clinton’s foreign policy record.  I read it last week.

Johnstone has one chapter each on Secretary of State Clinton’s support of a brutal military coup in Honduras, the destruction of Libya and military confrontation with Russia.

But the heart of the book is her account of the Bill Clinton administration’s intervention in the former Yugoslavia, and how this constituted a field test of methods used by subsequent administrations for leading the American and European publics into support of war.

The key step on the path to war, according to Johnstone, is Hitlerization—designating an enemy as a new Hitler who has to be dealt with as the original Hitler was.  This goes along with charges of genocide.

Western public opinion agrees that the Holocaust of the Jews was the ultimate crime.  Public opinion mostly agrees that all the mass killing in World War Two was justified because it was necessary to prevent the ultimate crime.

But what the crime consisted of was the attempted extermination of a people based on their race, religion and culture.

It follows from this that any attack on an ethnic or religious group is in a different and higher category of evil than, say, killing labor leaders or bombing cities because the latter are not potentially genocidal.

It also follows from this that, once you have identified a situation as genocide, any attempt at peacemaking represents appeasement, as at Munich.

If one side, such as the Hutus, is equivalent to the Nazis, and another, such as the Tutsis, is equivalent to the Nazi’s victims, compromise is not only impossible, but wicked.  Fighting has to go on until Nazi-equivalent side is crushed.

Furthermore, since the nations of Eastern Europe, the Near East, South and Southeast Asia and Africa are patchworks of different nationalities and religions, often lumped together within arbitrary boundaries down by colonial powers, there is always some ethnic conflict going on almost anywhere.

The path to war includes (1) a propaganda campaign against a foreign leader, who is identified as the equivalent of Hitler, (2) funding and arms for discontented groups, who are identified as victimes of genocide, followed by (3) economic sanctions and maybe (4) protests from human rights organizations or (5) some sort of resolution from an international body.

Any international body will do, but the best outcome would be an indictment by the International Criminal Court (even though the USA does not recognize the jurisdiction of the ICC) because diplomacy becomes a matter of law enforcement.

Economic sanctions almost always fail, and rebel groups almost never win, so next comes (6) a “no fly” zone and then (7) a bombing campaign.  If and when they fail, as is probable, there seems to be “no choice” but to send in troops, rather than give up.

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The nuclear temptation

April 28, 2016

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The Obama administration is preparing a new generation of tactical weapons that supposedly would give the U.S. the power to fight and win a war against Russia or China.

The weapon is called the B61 Model 12.  It is a precision-guided atomic missile, with a computer that can guide it to its target and a “dial-a-yield” feature that would control the size of the explosion.  It could be launched from bombers that also drop conventional bombs, creating uncertainty in the targeted enemy.

The argument for such weapons is that, being precise, they would be more effective militarily and result in loss of less innocent life.   The argument against is that, for this very reason, there is a greater danger they would be used.

The U.S. government and its allies are increasing their forces along the borders of both Russia and China, but it is unlikely that they were be a match for larger Russian and Chinese forces fighting in their own neighborhood.  But deployment of tactical nuclear weapons would not necessarily change that equation, because the Russian and Chinese military have their own weapons.

Both Russia and the USA are currently undergoing modernizations of their nuclear forces.  Modernization is estimated to cost the U.S. more than $30 billion a year—$1 trillion over 30 years.

Modernization does not, in and of itself, increase the threat of nuclear war.  If there are to be nuclear weapons at all, the machinery needs to be updated and replaced to avert the danger of an accidental explosion or accidental launch.

The development of battlefield-capable weapons, however, does increase the scope and likelihood of war.  But the greater mistake is a military buildup along the borders of Russia and China—two powerful nations that are not threatening the United States, but may be provoked into doing so.

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U.S. recruiting falls short of superpower needs

April 22, 2016

Senator Ted Cruz thinks the American military needs to be up-sized, not down-sized.

Our entire fighting force is shockingly undermanned and ill-prepared.  Last year, the Chief of Staff of the Army stated that his units were at “historically low levels” of combat readiness and the Commandant of the Marine Corps declared that “half of our non-deployed units are suffering personnel, equipment and training shortfalls.”

The Chief of Staff of the Air Force recently proclaimed that “we are getting too small to succeed.”  And, for the first time since 2007, the United States Navy was unable to maintain a carrier presence in the Arabian Gulf.  Every single portion of our Armed Forces has felt the strain.

In 2010, the U.S. Army was authorized 562,400 active duty soldiers, by the end of 2016 that number will have dropped precipitously to 475,000.

And this administration has plans to drive it even lower, to only 450,000 soldiers by the end of 2018. Unless our leaders are able to prioritize our national defense appropriately, there is a possibility that the Army could be reduced to as few as 420,000 soldiers by 2020.   Attempts to garner this “peace dividend” are assuredly met with enthusiasm by our adversaries.  [snip]

The entire end-strength of our Armed Forces must be rebuilt; we must strive to have a total active-duty force of at least 1.4 million Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen and Marines.   Anything less creates a continuing training and readiness gap that risks the lives of the men and women who volunteer to serve this great Nation.

Source: Cruz for President

Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter wants to continue to project American military power worldwide—to deal with what he terms the national security threats of terrorism, Russia, China, North Korea and Iran on a global basis.

Ted Cruz is right to point out that our armed forces are not large enough, and well-enough equipped, to carry out such a global mission.   As Andrew Bacevich, a respected military scholar, points out, it probably would take 500,000 troops each just to pacify Afghanistan and Iraq, let alone Carter’s more expansive goals.

Recruiters and potential enlistees at Fort Sill, OK

Troops and potential enlistees at Fort Sill, OK

But the problem is that U.S. military recruiters are barely able to fulfill their recruiting targets as it is.  A large proportion of enlistees are rejected because they are obese, or high school dropouts, or have criminal records.

It is impossible to increase the size of the U.S. armed forces as Cruz proposes without doing one of two things.

  •  Lower standards for recruitment.
  •  Re-institute a military draft.

The Obama administration has responded to the recruitment problem by trying to figure out ways to wage wars with minimum numbers of troops—bombings, targeted killings and plans to deploy precision tactical nuclear weapons.  Opening up the military to women and to openly gay enlistees also helps the recruitment problem, but probably not enough.

I have an alternate suggestion.

  • Limit the mission of the U.S. military to defense of the American homeland.

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The threat of a global holy war

April 21, 2016

One of the worst thing that could happen is an escalation of the U.S. “war on terror” into a global war between Christendom and Islam.  That is the goal of al Qaeda and the Islamic State (ISIS).

If it happened, the United States and much of Europe would become as beleaguered as Israel is today.  The devastation that has been visited on Gaza, Palestine, Iraq, Libya and Syria would be spread to the whole world.

That is why Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama were careful to distinguish jihadist terrorists from Muslims in general.

Unfortunately, there are Americans, such as Lt. General (ret) William “Jerry” Boykin, who don’t.

President Bush fired him in 2007 from his post as deputy undersecretary of defense for intelligence for saying that the United States is in a holy war of Christian crusaders against Muslim jihadists.  Even though Boykin was a brave and patriotic soldier, Bush acted in the best interests of the United States.

Boykin has endorsed Ted Cruz for President, and Cruz has appointed him as one of his top advisers.  I think Cruz also wants to make the “war on terror” a religious war.

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Malik Jalal tries to get off Obama’s Kill List

April 15, 2016

Malik Jalal has traveled from Pakistan’s Waziristan border region to Britain so as to plead with President Obama to stop trying to kill him.

Malik Jalal

Malik Jalal

Malik is an honorary title that means “village leader”.  He is a member of the North Waziristan Peace Committee, whose mission is to negotiate with the Pakistan Taliban to reduce violence in the region.  The committee’s work is sanctioned by the government of Pakistan.

He has survived four attacks by Hellfire missiles and now sleeps out in the woods with his six-year-old son.  He wrote in The Independent that he has information that the U.S. military wants to stop the work of the Peace Committee because they think peace would give the Taliban a secure sanctuary.

Jalal wrote that the first attack came in 2010, when his nephew took his vehicle to a service  station  to get an oil change and to have the tires checked.   A Hellfire missile hit Jalal’s vehicle and another vehicle parked just beside it.  The nephew was injured and four innocent bystanders were killed.

The next time he was driving to a peace conference, with another vehicle on the road behind, which happened to be the same shade of red as Jalal’s.  A Hellfire missile destroyed the trailing vehicle and all four occupants, all innocent bystanders, were killed.

Jalal became sure that he was the target after the next attack.  He accepted a dinner invitation by cell phone and, while he was on the way, a Hellfire missile struck, killing three innocent people, including a father of three and a mentally retarded man.

The fourth attack came early in 2011, when the Hellfire missile struck a meeting of community leaders, killing 40 people, none of whom, according to Jalal were engaged in acts of violence.

Since then he has taken to sleeping out of doors on a mountainside far from his house and always parking his vehicle a long distance from any destination.  Recently, he said, his six-year-old son has joined him on the mountainside.  The little boy said it was unrealistic to think that the U.S. military would refrain from killing Jalal’s family just because he wasn’t at home.

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The Pentagon’s new war plan for North Korea

March 16, 2016

China watcher Peter Lee reports that the Pentagon has adopted a new war policy toward North Korea—a policy based on pre-emptive war rather than mere deterrence.

130410174145-lead-inside-a-pentagon-war-game-00011026-horizontal-galleryThe policy is that if American generals determine that North Korea is about to launch a war, they will order “surgical” strikes against North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and send in special forces teams to assassination North Korea’s leaders.

The problem with that, as Lee noted, is that if Kim Jong Un determines the U.S. is about to destroy North Korea’s nuclear defense and kill its leaders, he would try to strike first.  This is a racheting-up process that makes war more and more likely.

The Pentagon’s larger purpose, in Lee’s opinion, is to deter China—to, as the Chinese say, “kill the chicken to frighten the monkey.”

What’s interesting about Lee’s articles is that nowhere to they mention President Barack Obama, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter or Secretary of State John Kerry.   The Pentagon evidently has its own policy independent of the policy set by the President and the Cabinet.

This is a vital Constitutional question.  Where does the power in government really lie?

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What it would take to rein in the Deep State

February 1, 2016

DeepState51cdQwM-Z8LMike Lofgren’s new book, The Deep State, describes the interlocking  U.S. military-industrial complex, financial oligarchy and police state which is not subject to either the rule of law or democratic control.   The particulars of his description are available in the previous two posts and in the linked articles.

Here’s what I think needs to be done in order to rein in the Deep State.

∞∞∞

authoritarianism9fd18cCongress should exercise the power of the purse to prevent the President from committing acts of war on his or her own initiative.  President Obama has stated that he considers himself free to attack foreign countries by means of bombing from the air, killer drones and Special Operations because these things are not war.  It is only war when large numbers of American ground troops are involved.

Refusing to levy taxes is the historic method used by parliaments and national assemblies to force absolute monarchs to cease aggressive wars and submit to the rule of law.  The U.S. precedent is the Case-Church Amendment of 1973 forced a cutoff of funds for military operations in Vietnam after August 15 of that year, and brought the Vietnam Conflict to an end.

Congress should pass a resolution ending funding for military operations and military aid and subsidies in the Middle East after a specific deadline, except for what is specifically authorized by Congress.

And if the executive refused to comply with that resolution?  The Constitutional remedy for this is impeachment.

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Congress should pass a law allowing prosecuted whistle-blowers to be acquitted if they can show that the information they revealed was kept secret in order to cover up lawbreaking, incompetence or failure, to limit business competition, or to suppress information that is not related to national security.

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How the Deep State can resist democracy

February 1, 2016

DeepState51cdQwM-Z8LThe Deep State is author Mike Lofgren’s term for power centers in Washington, Wall Street and, to an extent, Silicon Valley that determine government policy, yet operate in secret, without accountability to the law or democratic control.

He wrote in The Deep State that the USA is condemned to unending war and economic decline unless the power of the Deep State can be overthrown.

But can it be overthrown?

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Let’s look at the means the Deep State has to protect itself.

The power of moneyWall Street banks and military contractors have more money available to influence elections than any of their critics do.  The Supreme Court has ruled the corporate entities have the same rights as individual human beings, and that spending money can be an exercise of the right of free speech, so there is no practical limit on how much money can be spent on a campaign.

The power of subversionThe FBI has a long history of infiltrating civil rights and peace organizations with informers and undermining them from within.  Ditto for the CIA in foreign elections.  If the FBI and CIA felt threatened, is there any doubt they would use whatever tools they had to protect themselves?

DeepState-e1398185022722The power of information.  The NSA has the means of learning the personal habits and behavior of every American.  Who is there who doesn’t have something in their background that looks bad, or can be made to look bad?  The precedent for this is the FBI’s spying on Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., and its dissemination of information about his sex life.

The power of repression.  The police crackdown on the Occupy Wall Street movement, which was coordinated by the Department of Homeland Security, shows how the government treats peaceful protest movements as national security threats.

Suppressing the vote.  Many techniques exist for suppressing the vote or making votes meaningless.  New laws intentionally make it more difficult for members of targeted groups to vote or easier to disqualify them from voting.  The Dieboldt electronic voting machines allow vote tampering. and there is some evidence this is happening.

Financial power.  When President Bill Clinton took office in 1993, he intended to propose an ambitious program of public workers.  He never did, because he was told this would cause the “bond markets” to lose confidence in him, and interest rates to rise, choking off the economic recovery and increasing the national debt.  If a future President attempted to curb the power of Wall Street, is there any doubt that the financial markets would “lose confidence” in him or her?

Economic dependence.   The Department of Defense and other parts of the Deep State employ millions of people, almost all of them honest, patriotic people who believe they are serving their country.  Reducing the size of these institutions to what’s needed to defend the country would throw many of them out of work.  Without some alternative, this would not only damage the lives of these individuals, but possibly throw the country into recession.

Learned helplessness.  Many Americans have come to think of economic oligarchy and perpetual war as facts of life, about which nothing can be done.

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Mike Lofgren and the Deep State

January 30, 2016

This Bill Moyers broadcast is from 2014

Mike Lofgren is a Washington insider.  He was a Republican congressional staff member for 28 years, including 16 years as a senior analyst on the House and Senate budget committees.

DeepState51cdQwM-Z8LHe has written a book, THE DEEP STATE: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government, about governmental and private institutions that operate above the law, and independently of the will of the citizens, and how they interlock in ways that mutually reinforce their power.

The Deep State includes the bankers who were prosecuted for financial fraud because they were “too big to fail” and CIA torturers who were not prosecuted or dismissed because that would demoralize the agency.

It is the force that makes the government engage in bank bailouts, warrant-less surveillance and undeclared wars.  It is the force that has made the American public accept endless war and economic stagnation as normal.  It is the explanation of why partisan gridlock and financial sequesters never affect the availability of money to subsidize foreign military forces.

Lofgren’s Deep State includes President Eisenhower’s “military industrial complex”, the FBI, CIA and NSA and their supposed overseers in Congress and the federal courts, Wall Street and its supposed overseers in the Treasury and Justice departments, and Silicon Valley.

They work together, and have revolving doors through which people can move from one to another—for example, General David Petreaus, after his retirement from the military, to a seven-figure job at KKR, a Wall Street private equity form.

None of this is the result of a conscious conspiracy, Lofgren wrote.  It is a natural evolution of power without accountability, and the “group-think” of people who never have their assumptions questioned.

(more…)

American military affluenza and the F-35

January 25, 2016

F22.F35.Screen-Shot-2016-01-22-at-5.08.21-PM-620x402Source: David Archibald.

American military strategy is based on air power.  In every military action since the Korean Conflict, the United States ruled the skies.

Two things could threaten this.  One is an oil shortage or lack of access to oil, which doesn’t seem to be a problem for the foreseeable future.  The other is a loss of the U.S. technological edge, which, according to a writer named David Archibald, is a real possibility.

The U.S. Air Force latest fighter-bomber, the F-22 is a superior aircraft, but it takes 42 man-hours of maintenance for every hour in the air.  F-22 pilots are restricted to 10 to 12 hours of flying per month, much less than required to maintain proficiency, because its operating cost is $58,000 per hour.

The F-35 on paper is a science-fictional wonder plane.  It has stealth capability.  Its computerized helmet supposedly gives pilots 360-degree vision and the ability to share data instantly with commanders and other pilots.

But, according to recent reports, it is like the F-22, only worse.  First planned in 2001, it still is not ready.  Development is more than $200 billion over budget.  It lacks maneuverability.  It doesn’t fly in cold weather.  The computers lack software pilots say they need for  combat.  The ejection seats don’t work.  The fuel tanks are vulnerable to lightning strikes.

But the Air Force is committed to it.  The main argument, according to Archibald, is the lack of a Plane B.  That, and the sunk costs and the jobs and profits that will be lost of the F-35 is canceled.

(more…)

Comparison of wars

January 18, 2016

tumblr_nw0jagRPTt1ssb95mo1_500

Hat tip to Tiffany’s Non-Blog.

Two other similarities:

  • The war on terror is also a war at home; the war on drugs is also a war abroad.
  • U.S. forces keep eliminating “kingpins,” but never get any closer to victory.

Why North Korea clings to nuclear weapons

January 9, 2016

Question 1– How many governments has the United States overthrown or tried to overthrow since the Second World War?

Answer: 57 (See William Blum.)

Question 2– How many of those governments had nuclear weapons?

Answer— 0

Source: Mike Whitney for Counterpunch

Of course there are other reasons for not attacking North Korea, such as not wanting to take responsibility for taking care of more than 24 million desperate hungry people.

I think that the only alternative is to negotiate with the North Korean government, totalitarian though it might be, and to provide assurances that the United States will end sanctions and guarantee not to attack if North Korea gives up nuclear weapons.

Mike Whitney and Peter Lee both wrote recently that, in fact, the purpose of North Korea’s recent nuclear test is to force the U.S. government to the negotiating table.  Without an agreement, the North Korean nuclear weapons program will continue.

As Donald Rumsfeld is supposed to have said, if a problem cannot be solved, it might not be a problem, but a fact.

LINKS

Does North Korea need nukes to deter U.S. aggression? by Mike Whitney for Counterpunch.

North Korea’s “H Bomb”: No Ado About Something by Peter Lee for China Matters.


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