War is a business. The more wars are organized, the more profits are taken for the benefit of the investors on whose behalf the wars are fought...
2012-12-11 "How U.S. Taxpayers Are Paying the Pentagon
to Occupy the Planet: Picking Up a $170 Billion Tab" by David Vine from
David Vine is assistant professor of anthropology at American
University, in Washington, DC. He is the author of Island of Shame: The
Secret History of the U.S. Military Base on Diego Garcia (Princeton
University Press, 2009). He has written for the New York Times, the
Washington Post, the Guardian, and Mother Jones, among other places. He
is currently completing a book about the more than 1,000 U.S. military
bases located outside the United States.
Protest in Vicenza, Italy against the US Dal Molin base (Photo: obbino via flickr)
“Are you monitoring the construction?” asked the middle-aged man on a bike accompanied by his dog.
“Ah, sì,” I replied in my barely passable Italian.
“Bene,” he answered. Good.
front of us, a backhoe’s guttural engine whined into action and empty
dump trucks rattled along a dirt track. The shouts of men vied for
attention with the metallic whirring of drills and saws ringing in the
distance. Nineteen immense cranes spread across the landscape, with the
foothills of Italy’s Southern Alps in the background. More than 100
pieces of earthmoving equipment, 250 workers, and grids of scaffolding
wrapped around what soon would be 34 new buildings.
standing in front of a massive 145-acre construction site for a “little
America” rising in Vicenza, an architecturally renowned Italian city and
UNESCO world heritage site near Venice. This was Dal Molin, the new
military base the U.S. Army has been readying for the relocation of as
many as 2,000 soldiers from Germany in 2013.
Since 1955, Vicenza
has also been home to another major U.S. base, Camp Ederle. They’re
among the more than 1,000 bases the United States uses to ring the globe
(with about 4,000 more in the 50 states and Washington, D.C.). This
complex of military installations, unprecedented in history, has been a
major, if little noticed, aspect of U.S. power since World War II.
the Cold War, such bases became the foundation for a “forward strategy”
meant to surround the Soviet Union and push U.S. military power as
close to its borders as possible. These days, despite the absence of a
superpower rival, the Pentagon has been intent on dotting the globe with
scores of relatively small “lily pad” bases, while continuing to build
and maintain some large bases like Dal Molin.
think about these bases, let alone how much of their tax money -- and
debt -- is going to build and maintain them. For Dal Molin and related
construction nearby, including a brigade headquarters, two sets of
barracks, a natural-gas-powered energy plant, a hospital, two schools, a
fitness center, dining facilities, and a mini-mall, taxpayers are
likely to shell out at least half a billion dollars. (All the while, a
majority of locals passionately and vocally oppose the new base.)
much does the United States spend each year occupying the planet with
its bases and troops? How much does it spend on its global presence?
Forced by Congress to account for its spending overseas, the Pentagon
has put that figure at $22.1 billion a year. It turns out that even a
conservative estimate of the true costs of garrisoning the globe comes
to an annual total of about $170 billion. In fact, it may be
considerably higher. Since the onset of “the Global War on Terror” in
2001, the total cost for our garrisoning policies, for our presence
abroad, has probably reached $1.8 trillion to $2.1 trillion.
How Much Do We Spend?
law, the Pentagon must produce an annual “Overseas Cost Summary” (OCS)
putting a price on the military’s activities abroad, from bases to
embassies and beyond. This means calculating all the costs of military
construction, regular facility repairs, and maintenance, plus the costs
of maintaining one million U.S. military and Defense Department
personnel and their families abroad -- the pay checks, housing, schools,
vehicles, equipment, and the transportation of personnel and materials
overseas and back, and far, far more.
The latest OCS, for the 2012
fiscal year ending September 30th, documented $22.1 billion in
spending, although, at Congress’s direction, this doesn’t include any of
the more than $118 billion spent that year on the wars in Afghanistan
and elsewhere around the globe.
While $22.1 billion is a
considerable sum, representing about as much as the budgets for the
Departments of Justice and Agriculture and about half the State
Department’s 2012 budget, it contrasts sharply with economist Anita
Dancs’s estimate of $250 billion. She included war spending in her
total, but even without it, her figure comes to around $140 billion --
still $120 billion more than the Pentagon suggests.
figure out the real costs of garrisoning the planet myself, for more
than three years, as part of a global investigation of bases abroad,
I’ve talked to budget experts, current and former Pentagon officials,
and base budget officers. Many politely suggested that this was a fool’s
errand given the number of bases involved, the complexity of
distinguishing overseas from domestic spending, the secrecy of Pentagon
budgets, and the “frequently fictional” nature of Pentagon figures.
(The Department of Defense remains the only federal agency unable to
pass a financial audit.)
Ever the fool and armed only with the
power of searchable PDFs, I nonetheless plunged into the bizarro world
of Pentagon accounting, where ledgers are sometimes still handwritten
and $1 billion can be a rounding error. I reviewed thousands of pages of
budget documents, government and independent reports, and hundreds of
line items for everything from shopping malls to military intelligence
to postal subsidies.
Wanting to err on the conservative side, I
decided to follow the methodology Congress mandated for the OCS, while
also looking for overseas costs the Pentagon or Congress might have
ignored. It hardly made sense to exclude, for example, the health-care
costs the Department of Defense pays for troops on overseas bases,
spending for personnel in Kosovo, or the price tag for supporting the
550 bases we have in Afghanistan.
In the spirit of “monitoring the
construction,” let me lead you on an abbreviated account of my quest to
come up with the real costs of occupying planet Earth.
Missing Costs -
the Overseas Cost Summary initially might seem quite thorough, you’ll
soon notice that countries well known to host U.S. bases have gone
missing-in-action. In fact, at least 18 countries and foreign
territories on the Pentagon’s own list of overseas bases go unnamed.
surprising is the absence of Kosovo and Bosnia. The military has had
large bases and hundreds of troops there for more than a decade, with
another Pentagon report showing 2012 costs of $313.8 million. According
to that report, the OCS also understates costs for bases in Honduras and
Guantánamo Bay by about a third or $85 million.
And then other
oddities appear: in places like Australia and Qatar, the Pentagon says
it has funds to pay troops but no money for “operations and maintenance”
to turn the lights on, feed people, or do regular repairs. Adjusting
for these costs adds an estimated $36 million. As a start, I found:
$436 million for missing countries and costs.
That’s not much compared to $22 billion and chump change in the context of the whole Pentagon budget, but it’s just a beginning.
Congress’s direction, the Pentagon also omits the costs of bases in the
oft-forgotten U.S. territories -- Puerto Rico, Guam, American Samoa,
the Northern Mariana Islands, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. This is
strange because the Pentagon considers them “overseas.” More important,
as economist Dancs says, “The United States retains territories...
primarily for the purposes of the military and projecting military
power.” Plus, they are, well, literally overseas.
Conservatively, this adds $3 billion in total military spending to the OCS.
there are more quasi-U.S. territories in the form of truly forgotten
Pacific Ocean island nations in “compacts of free association” with the
United States -- the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of
Micronesia, and Palau. Ever since it controlled these islands as
“strategic trust territories” after World War II, the U.S. has enjoyed
the right to establish military facilities on them, including the
nuclear test site on the Bikini Atoll and the Ronald Reagan Ballistic
Missile Defense Test Site elsewhere in the Marshalls.
in exchange for yearly aid payments from the Office of Insular Affairs,
adding another $571 million and yielding total costs of:
$3.6 billion for territories and Pacific island nations.
of the oceans, at Congress’s instruction, the Pentagon excludes the
cost of maintaining naval vessels overseas. But Navy and Marine Corps
vessels are essentially floating (and submersible) bases used to
maintain a powerful military presence on (and under) the seas. A very
conservative estimate for these costs adds another $3.8 billion.
there are the costs of Navy prepositioned ships at anchor around the
world. Think of them as warehouse-bases at sea, stocked with weaponry,
war materiel, and other supplies. And don’t forget Army prepositioned
stocks. Together, they come to an estimated $604 million a year. In
addition, the Pentagon appears to omit some $861 million for overseas
“sealift” and “airlift” and “other mobilization” expenses. All told, the
bill grows by:
$5.3 billion for Navy vessels and personnel plus seaborne and airborne assets.
strangely missing from the Cost Summary is that little matter of
health-care costs. Overseas costs for the Defense Health Program and
other benefits for personnel abroad add an estimated $11.7 billion
yearly. And then there’s $538 million in military and family housing
construction that the Pentagon also appears to overlook in its tally.
too, we can’t forget about shopping on base, because we the taxpayers
are subsidizing those iconic Walmart-like PX (Post Exchange) shopping
malls on bases worldwide. Although the military is fond of saying that
the PX system pays for itself because it helps fund on-base recreation
programs, Pentagon leaders neglect to mention that the PXs get free
buildings and land, free utilities, and free transportation of goods to
overseas locations. They also operate tax-free.
While there’s no
estimate for the value of the buildings, land, and utilities that
taxpayers provide, the exchanges reported $267 million in various
subsidies for 2011. (Foregone federal taxes might add $30 million or
more to that figure.) Add in as well postal subsidies of at least $71
million and you have:
$12.6 billion for health care, military and family housing, shopping and postal subsidies.
Pentagon exclusion is rent paid to other countries for the land we
garrison. Although a few countries like Japan, Kuwait, and South Korea
actually pay the United States to subsidize our garrisons -- to the tune
of $1.1 billion in 2012 -- far more common, according to base expert
Kent Calder, “are the cases where the United States pays nations to host
Given the secretive nature of basing agreements and the
complex economic and political trade-offs involved in base negotiations,
precise figures are impossible to find. However, Pentagon-funded
research indicates that 18% of total foreign military and economic aid
goes toward buying base access. That swells our invoice by around $6.3
billion. Payments to NATO of $1.7 billion “for the acquisition and
construction of military facilities and installations” and other
purposes, brings us to:
$6.9 billion in net “rent” payments and NATO contributions.
the OCS must report the costs of all military operations abroad, the
Pentagon omits $550 million for counternarcotics operations and $108
million for humanitarian and civic aid. Both have, as a budget document
explains about humanitarian aid, helped “maintain a robust overseas
presence,” while the military “obtains access to regions important to
U.S. interests.” The Pentagon also spent $24 million on environmental
projects abroad to monitor and reduce on-base pollution, dispose of
hazardous and other waste, and for “initiatives…in support of global
basing/operations.” So the bill now grows by:
$682 million for counternarcotics, humanitarian, and environmental programs.
Pentagon tally of the price of occupying the planet also ignores the
costs of secret bases and classified programs overseas. Out of a total
Pentagon classified budget of $51 billion for 2012, I conservatively use
only the estimated overseas portion of operations and maintenance
spending, which adds $2.4 billion. Then there’s the $15.7 billion
Military Intelligence Program. Given that U.S. law generally bars the
military from engaging in domestic spying, I estimate that half this
spending, $7.9 billion, took place overseas.
Next, we have to add
in the CIA’s paramilitary budget, funding activities including secret
bases in places like Somalia, Libya, and elsewhere in the Middle East,
and its drone assassination program, which has grown precipitously since
the onset of the war on terror. With thousands dead (including hundreds
of civilians), how can we not consider these military costs? In an
email, John Pike, director of GlobalSecurity.org, told me that “possibly
a third” of the CIA’s estimated budget of $10 billion may now go to
paramilitary costs, yielding:
$13.6 billion for classified programs, military intelligence, and CIA paramilitary activities.
but certainly not least comes the real biggie: the costs of the 550
bases the U.S. built in Afghanistan, as well as the last three months of
life for our bases in Iraq, which once numbered 505 before the U.S.
pullout from that country (that is, the first three months of fiscal
year 2012). While the Pentagon and Congress exclude these costs, that’s
like calculating the New York Yankees’ payroll while excluding salaries
for each year’s huge free agent signings.
the OCS methodology used for other countries, but including costs for
health care, military pay in the base budget, rent, and “other
programs,” we add an estimated:
$104.9 billion for bases and military presence in Afghanistan and other war zones.
Having started with the OCS figure of $22.1 billion, the grand total now has reached:
$168 billion ($169,963,153,283 to be exact).
nearly an extra $150 billion. Even if you exclude war costs -- and I
think the Yankees show why that’s a bad idea -- the total still reaches
$65.1 billion, or nearly three times the Pentagon’s calculation.
don’t for a second think that that’s the end of our garrisoning costs.
In addition to spending likely hidden in the nooks and crannies of its
budget, there are other irregularities in the Pentagon’s accounting.
Costs for 16 countries hosting U.S. bases but left out of the OCS
entirely, including Colombia, El Salvador, and Norway, may total more
than $350 million. The costs of the military presence in Colombia alone
could reach into the tens of millions in the context of more than $8.5
billion in Plan Colombia funding since 2000. The Pentagon also reports
costs of less than $5 million each for Yemen, Israel, Uganda, and the
Seychelles Islands, which seems unlikely and could add millions more.
it comes to the general U.S. presence abroad, other costs are too
difficult to estimate reliably, including the price of Pentagon offices
in the United States, embassies, and other government agencies that
support bases and troops overseas. So, too, U.S. training facilities,
depots, hospitals, and even cemeteries allow overseas bases to function.
Other spending includes currency-exchange costs, attorneys’ fees and
damages won in lawsuits against military personnel abroad, short-term
“temporary duty assignments,” U.S.-based troops participating in
exercises overseas, and perhaps even some of NASA’s military functions,
space-based weapons, a percentage of recruiting costs required to staff
bases abroad, interest paid on the debt attributable to the past costs
of overseas bases, and Veterans Administration costs and other
retirement spending for military personnel who served abroad.
Beyond my conservative estimate, the true bill for garrisoning the planet might be closer to $200 billion a year.
“Spillover Costs” -
by the way, are just the costs in the U.S. government’s budget. The
total economic costs to the U.S. economy are higher still. Consider
where the taxpayer-funded salaries of the troops at those bases go when
they eat or drink at a local restaurant or bar, shop for clothing, rent a
local home, or pay local sales taxes in Germany, Italy, or Japan. These
are what economists call “spillover” or “multiplier effects.” When I
visited Okinawa in 2010, for example, Marine Corps representatives
bragged about how their presence contributes $1.9 billion annually to
the local economy through base contracts, jobs, local purchases, and
other spending. Although the figures may be overstated, it’s no wonder
members of Congress like Senator Kay Bailey Hutchison have called for a
new “Build in America” policy to protect “the fiscal health of our
And the costs are still broader when one considers the
trade-offs, or opportunity costs, involved. Military spending creates
fewer jobs per million dollars expended than the same million invested
in education, health care, or energy efficiency -- barely half as many
as investing in schools. Even worse, while military spending clearly
provides direct benefits to the Lockheed Martins and KBRs of the
military-industrial complex, these investments don’t, as economist James
Heintz says, boost the “long-run productivity of the rest of the
private sector” the way infrastructure investments do.
To adapt a
famous line from President Dwight Eisenhower: every base that is built
signifies in the final sense a theft. Indeed, think about what Dal
Molin’s half a billion dollars in infrastructure could have done if put
to civilian uses. Again echoing Ike, the cost of one modern base is
this: 260,000 low-income children getting health care for one year or
65,000 going to a year of Head Start or 65,000 veterans receiving VA
care for a year.
A Different Kind of “Spillover” -
also create a different “spillover” in the financial and non-financial
costs host countries bear. In 2004, for example, on top of direct
“burden sharing” payments, host countries made in-kind contributions of
$4.3 billion to support U.S. bases. In addition to agreeing to spend
billions of dollars to move thousands of U.S. Marines and their families
from Okinawa to Guam, the Japanese government has paid nearly $1
billion to soundproof civilian homes near U.S. air bases on Okinawa and
millions in damages for successful noise pollution lawsuits. Similarly,
as base expert Mark Gillem reports, between 1992 and 2003, the Korean
and U.S. governments paid $27.3 million in damages because of crimes
committed by U.S. troops stationed in Korea. In a single three-year
period, U.S. personnel “committed 1,246 criminal acts, from misdemeanors
As these crimes indicate, costs for local
communities extend far beyond the economic. Okinawans have recently been
outraged by what appears to be another in a long series of rapes
committed by U.S. troops. Which is just one example of how, from Japan
to Italy, there are what Anita Dancs calls the “costs of rising
hostility” over bases. Environmental damage pushes the financial and
non-financial toll even higher. The creation of a base on Diego Garcia
in the Indian Ocean sent all of the local Chagossian people into exile.
too, U.S. troops and their families bear some of those nonfinancial
costs due to frequent moves and separation during unaccompanied tours
abroad, along with attendant high rates of divorce, domestic violence,
substance abuse, sexual assault, and suicide.
“No one, no one
likes it,” a stubbly-faced old man told me as I was leaving the
construction site. He remembered the Americans arriving in 1955 and now
lives within sight of the Dal Molin base. “If it were for the good of
the people, okay, but it’s not for the good of the people.”
“Who pays? Who pays?” he asked. “Noi,” he said. We do.
Indeed, from that $170 billion to the costs we can’t quantify, we all do.
2012-09-25 "The US will Continue Its Wars as Long as the Dollar Remains a Reserve Currency"
by Dr. Paul Craig Roberts from "Global Research" [http://www.globalresearch.ca/the-us-will-continue-its-wars-as-long-as-the-dollar-remains-a-reserve-currency]:
Pravda.Ru interviewed Paul Craig Roberts, an American economist, who served as an Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan Administration and became a co-founder of Reaganomics – the economic policies promoted by the U.S. President Ronald Reagan during the 1980s. We asked Mr. Roberts to share his views about the current state of affairs inside and outside the United States.
Pravda.Ru: Mr. Roberts, you are known in Russia as the creator of Reaganomics, which helped the country overcome stagflation. What were the key aspects of that policy and how would you estimate its results today? Do you think your faith in free market has shattered?
Paul Craig Roberts: Free market means the freedom of price to adjust to supply and demand. It does not mean the absence of regulation of human behavior.
Reaganomics was a political word for supply-side economics, a new development in economic theory. In the post World War 2 western world, governments used Keynesian demand management economic policy to control inflation and to boost employment. John Maynard Keynes was the British economist who explained the Great Depression in the West as a consequence of insufficient aggregate demand to maintain full employment and stable prices.
Keynesian demand management relied on government budget deficits and easy monetary policy (money creation) to stimulate demand for goods and services. To control inflation from too much demand for goods and services, high tax rates were used to reduce disposable income.
The problem that developed is that the high tax rates on income made leisure inexpensive in terms of lost current earnings from not working, and made current consumption inexpensive in terms of lost future income from not saving and investing. In other words, high tax rates on income made leisure and current consumption cheap in terms of foregone present and future income. Thus, high tax rates on income depressed the supply of labor and capital.
Using the UK’s 98% tax rate on investment income (pre-Thatcher), the Nobel economist Milton Friedman illustrated the problem with this example. You are an Englishman with $100,000. Shall you invest it for future income, or shall you purchase a Rolls Royce and enjoy life? The true price of the Rolls Royce (or Bentley, or Ferrari or Maserati) is not the purchase price. The price of the exotic car is the foregone future income from not investing the $100,000.
Suppose you could earn 10% on the $100,000. That would be $10,000 per year as the cost of purchasing the luxury car. But after tax (98%) the car would only cost $200 per year, a very cheap price.
The same example works for labor and salary income. Because of the high marginal tax rates, many professionals such as medical doctors closed their practices on Fridays and went to the golf course.
By changing the policy mix, that is by tightening monetary policy and reducing marginal tax rates (the tax rate on increases in income), the supply-side economic policy of the Reagan administration caused aggregate supply to increase. Thus output expanded relative to demand, and inflation declined.
This supply-side policy was instrumental as Reagan’s first step toward ending the cold war with the Soviet Union. As long as the US economy was afflicted with stagflation–the simultaneous rise in both inflation and unemployment, the Soviet government saw capitalism failing along with communism. But when Reagan corrected the economic problem, it made the Soviet government unsure that it could withstand an arms race.
Reagan’s next step was to bring the Soviet government to the negotiating table to end the cold war. The cold war was an economic drain on both societies and always had the risk of a miscalculation that would result in nuclear war, wiping out life on earth. Gorbachev, an intelligent person aware of the risk, came to agreement with Reagan.
This was a great accomplishment for the Americans and for the Russians. Friendship and cooperation was now possible.
But it was not to last. Reagan’s successors took advantage of the good will between the countries that Reagan and Gorbachev had created to achieve American hegemony over the world.
Q: During the 80s, relying on the revived economic power of the United States, Ronald Reagan managed to convince the Soviet government to end the Cold War. All those agreements, as you believe, were destroyed by Reagan’s successors. Russia shares a completely different opinion about Reagan. The Russians think of him as the man, who resumed the arms race, designed the space shield and “cut out the cancer of communism” having won (or maybe bribed) Gorbachev over to his side for cooperation. Maybe one shouldn’t strike him out of the list of the authors of today’s American “idiotism?”
A: Reagan was not a member of the Republican Establishment. He defeated the Establishment’s candidate, George H. W. Bush (father of George W. Bush) for the Republican presidential nomination. By appealing to Democratic as well as Republican voters, Reagan had a great electoral victory. Reagan had two goals: one was to end stagflation, the other was to end the cold war. He was not much interested in anything else. The “arms race” and the “anti-ballistic missile defense–star wars” were never real. They were threats used to bring Gorbachev to negotiate the end of the cold war. Unlike the present Republican Party, Reagan wanted peace, not war.
I know this because when I succeeded in establishing the new economic policy that cured stagflation, President Reagan appointed me to a super-secret presidential committee that had subpoena power over the CIA.
The CIA opposed Reagan’s effort to end the cold war, as did the powerful military-security complex, about which President Dwight Eisenhower warned the American people in his last address to the American nation. The end of the cold war threatened the profits of the powerful military industries and the power of the CIA.
The CIA said that the Soviet Union would win an arms race, because the Soviet Union could control investment, unlike the US, and could allocate the entire Gross Domestic Product of the Soviet Empire to the military. Reagan’s secret committee over-ruled the CIA.
I had been a member of the US-USSR student exchange program to the Soviet Union in 1961 and had observed the situation. My first book (1971) said that the Soviet economy had failed. When decades later I addressed the Soviet Academy of Sciences in Moscow in 1989 and 1990, members of the Economic Institute brought me copies of my book to be autographed. And I had thought that censorship existed in the Soviet Union.
The Soviet Union collapsed three years after Reagan left office. It came as a surprise to those of us who had helped Reagan to end the cold war and dispose of the nuclear war threat.
Myself and many other Reagan supporters opposed the extension of NATO to Russia’s reduced borders. What the world seems to be unaware of is that the Soviet collapse unleashed a new, highly dangerous ideology in the US known as neoconservatism.
Q: You wrote that the insane and criminal government in Washington, no matter Democratic of Republicans, no matter the outcome of the next elections, is the biggest threat to life on Earth ever. How would you describe this threat, what is it made of and who represents it in the US?
A: The threat is the neoconservative ideology, unleashed by the Soviet collapse. It is a form of Marxism in which American “democratic capitalism” instead of the proletariat has won history’s verdict–”the end of history.” Americans are the “indispensable people,” and the US is the “indispensable nation” with the right and responsibility to establish its hegemony over the world. Adolf Hitler called the same thing “Aryan Superiority.” Now Washington asserts the superiority. The neoconservative ideology threatens the world with nuclear war.
Q: What would you say about the Russian law, according to which political parties funded from abroad should be registered as foreign agents?
A: The US has laws that require foreign interests to register as foreign agents. This law does not always apply to all Israeli lobby groups, such as AIPAC.
There are no political parties in the US that are funded by foreign interests. No such thing would be permitted. It would be regarded as high treason. What is surprising is that the Russian government permitted for 20 years its political opposition to be funded by Washington and still permits that today as long as the opposition registers as an American agent. The ability of Washington to fund the Russian government’s political opposition and also protest groups, perhaps including Pussy Riot, allows Washington free access to destabilize Russia.
Q: What role do so-called non-governmental organizations play in the US? The National Endowment for Democracy, for example?
A: NGOs play no role inside the US. NGOs are Washington’s means of interfering in the internal affairs of other countries, such as funding and organizing “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine. The National Endowment for Democracy is a principle funder of political opposition and protest groups in countries with governments to which Washington is opposed. Despite its original purpose, the National Endowment for Democracy has been converted into an agent for US hegemony.
Q: You wrote a lot about the fate of Pussy Riot. As you said, “they were brutally deceived and used by the Washington-financed NGOs that have infiltrated Russia.” What is the goal of such stunts?
A: It might be the case that Pussy Riot’s assaults on Russian probity are independent protests. On the other hand, the offending stunts could be provoked and funded by NGOs that are funded from Washington. Regardless, it is the result that is important. The result is that the controversy over Pussy Riot has shifted criticism from Washington’s destruction of Syria to Putin, “the suppressor of free speech.” It is folly for Russians to ally with Washington’s propaganda against their own government. If this folly continues, Russia will end up as another American puppet state.
Q: If an act like that of Pussy Riot took place in America, in a location of national significance, how would the general public and the government react? What do common people say about the Pussy Riot scandal in Russia?
A: Ordinary Americans know nothing about Pussy Riot. Despite the propaganda from Washington, most Americans have never heard of the incident. The importance of Washington’s propaganda about Pussy Riot is to send the signal to Washington’s European puppet states that Russia is to be demonized for opposing Washington’s destruction of Syria and Iran. It was the Russian and Chinese governments that blocked Washington’s UN resolution that would have allowed an opening for NATO to bomb Syria as it did Libya. Instead of being praised for its concern with life, human rights, and international law, Russia has been damned.
The consequence in the US of an act like those performed by Pussy Riot would vary depending on state and local laws. Also, depending on where the act takes place–a Jewish synagog for instance–the US Department of Justice could declare the act a hate crime or a form of discrimination against a “preferred minority” and bring a federal case.
Q: You wrote that the US government was full of determination to have the war on three fronts: Syria, Lebanon and Iran – in the Middle East, China – in the Far East and Russia – in Europe. Does the country have financial possibilities for that?
A: The US is bankrupt. However, the US dollar remains the world reserve currency. This means that the US can print money to pay its bills. As long as the world accepts the dollar as world reserve currency, the US will be able to continue its wars.
Q: Being in the insular situation, the USA experiments on other countries hoping that war will never come to the US territory. The US spends a lot more on defense of its forward-based forces in Europe and in the Middle East than it does on defense of its own borders. Maybe Russia should be more active and put the threat closer to the US borders by deploying a sea-based missile defense system near the shores of a friendly Latin American country?
A: Like President Reagan, I am in favor of peace. I believe that Americans, Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and everyone else should spend their resources in getting along with one another, not in trying to dominate one another. I believe that Washington is forcing Russia and China to spend resources on military preparedness that the countries could better use in economic development and in protecting the environment. It is my belief that Washington’s drive for world hegemony is driving the world toward nuclear war. I have no way of knowing how the Russian and Chinese governments might respond to Washington’s drive for hegemony.
Q: What stops Russia and China from uniting to oppose the USA?
A: This question is outside my knowledge. Perhaps suspicion of one another, like the suspicion between Sunni and Shia that allows the US to dominate the Middle East.
Q: You said that the US is a police state, which was set up in the name of mystification of the “war on terror.” Can you give a clear explanation as to what the American Big Brother is doing?
A: The Bush/Cheney regime rammed through the PATRIOT Act, which assaulted the US Constitution and took away US civil liberties. The Bush regime established that the president did not have to obey either statutory US law, such as the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act which requires a court warrant for spying on US citizens. President Bush violated the law, a felony, and was not held accountable.
Bush asserted and established by assertion, the power to negate Constitutional protections, such as habeas corpus, and confined US citizens to indefinite detainment (life in prison) without any evidence or court proceedings. Nothing was done about this violation of constitutional order. President Obama has declared that he has the power to execute US citizens on suspicion alone without evidence or due process of law. These are the most extreme police state measures of modern times.
The Department of Homeland Security has announced that it has shifted its focus from Muslim terrorism to “domestic extremists,” an undefined term. Recently the Department of Homeland Security has purchased more than one billion rounds of deadly ammunition, such as hollow point bullets, enough to shoot the entire US population several times. There are also reports that detainment camps have been constructed, allegedly for such events as hurricane evacuation. Congress and the media are not asking questions about these developments.
Q: President Barack Obama said that one of the principles to resume peace talks between Israel and Palestine was about the retrieval of 1967 borders. How could the Jewish lobby let him say that?
A: President Obama has been declared by Israeli prime minister Netanyahu and the Israel Lobby to be a lackluster friend of Israel, because Obama has not yet launched a military attack on Iran. Obama, perhaps believing himself to be the president of the world’s only superpower, and not a puppet of the Israeli prime minister, has taken offense at the public bullying to which he has been subjected by the far right-wing Israeli government. Obama’s statement referring to the 1967 borders was Obama’s way of letting the Israeli government know that it was going too far and pushing too hard.
Q: You see the basic problems of the US economy in moving production to China. If you were invited to serve as an adviser to the president, what would be your plan for taking America out of the crisis?
A: I will never again be permitted to serve as an adviser to the president of the US. Since the Clinton presidency, the only permitted advisers are those who lie for the government. I will not do that.
I am unsure that America can be taken out of economic crisis. Much of the most productive part of the US economy has been moved offshore in order to increase corporate profits, the performance-based bonuses for executive compensation and capital gains to equity owners. The US has lost critical supply chains, industrial infrastructure, and the knowledge of skilled workers.
Theoretically, the US could bring its corporations back to America by taxing their profits according to the geographical location in which value is added to their product. If value is added abroad, in China or India, for example, the tax rate would be high. If value was added domestically in the US, the tax rate would be low.
The US could also resort to the protective tariffs that were responsible for its rise as an economic power.
These changes would be difficult to enact as the changes are contrary to the material interests of the one percent.
The US today is ruled by an oligarchy of private interests. The US government is not very independent of the powerful interest groups that fund political campaigns. The US ceased being a democracy during the Clinton administration.
2012-09-24 "US War Agenda: Coke or Goldman Sachs, What’s Your Poison?"
by Colin Todhunter by "Global Research" [http://www.globalresearch.ca/us-war-agenda-coke-or-goldman-sachs-whats-your-poison]:
Who in their right mind would be prepared to fight and die for Shell, Chevron or Coca Cola? Who with half a brain would choose to put their life on the line for Goldman Sachs, Bank of America or General Electric? Any volunteers? I’m guessing there wouldn’t be many.
Then again, I could be wrong. Think of the tens of thousands of NATO troops who over the last decade have been in Afghanistan or Iraq. Drunk on the potent aphrodisiac of nationalism and a military that sells life in the armed forces as resembling some computer game reality, young mainly working class men have lined up in their droves to put their lives on the line for their respective governments.
Enticed by the glamour of armed forces’ adverts that proclaim ‘see the world’ or ‘learn a trade’ in an era of severe economic downturn, when few poorer people have little chance of doing either, ‘serving queen and country’ (or some other nationalistic slogan) seems like a good option.
This form of economic conscription has meant no shortage of young men signing up to fight wars in far away lands. Sold under the outright lie of ‘protecting democracy’, ‘humanitarian intervention’ or another apparent high-minded falsehood, thousands have gone off to kill and die and pledge allegiance to a ‘greater good’.
But it’s not the greater good of humankind, queen, flag or country that is at stake. Forget about blurry eyed nationalism or idealism. These young men are spilling their own blood and the blood of countless others on behalf of corporate interests.
Western ‘liberal democracy’ has nothing to do with empowering people and everything to do with enslaving them and making them blind to the chains that bind them. It is the powerful foundations and think tanks headed or funded by private corporations that drive US policies and its war agenda.
In his Global Research article ‘Tipping the balance of power’ ( 23 Sept), Tony Cartalucci highlights how, through their funding or by direct membership of various foundations, think tanks and government bodies, US domestic and foreign policies are formulated to serve corporate interests. It is the Brookings Institute, International Crisis Group and Council on Foreign Relations, among others, where the real heart of the US government lies. In Britain, Chatham House plays a similar role.
It is not without good reason that former CIA ‘asset’ Susan Linduar claimed that US oil giants Chevron and Occidental Petroleum exerted pressure on Washington to remove Gadhaffi from power because he was supposedly was exerting heavy pressure on US and British oil companies to cough up special fees and kick backs to cover the costs of Libya’s reimbursement to the families of the Pan Am plane that blew up over Lockerbie. On Washington’s nod, tens of thousands of Libyans subsequently paid the price with their lives
John Perkins book ‘Confessions of an Economic Hitman’ details how poorer countries have been neo-colonised by a cabal of US corporations, banks and government agencies. This is achieved via a combination of targeted assassinations, bribery, deceit and financial loans leading to debt dependency. If all of that fails, the troops are then sent in under the banner of ‘humanitarianism’ or protecting ‘national security’. Corporate America has been the leading hand in virtually every US led conflict since 1945, from Guatemala in the 1950s right up to Syria today.
Who but a misinformed and brainwashed public would think for one minute that such corporations and their foundations, institutes and agencies would let ordinary folk have any say in policies that would adversely affect their power or enormous wealth? There is no way they will allow any genuine form of democracy that could disrupt their aims. What is required and achieved is an ignorant and misinformed public that places an X on a ballot form every four years in favour of competing corporate-sponsored politicians. A public that readily lines up to support the corporate war agenda, and a public from which a cannon fodder army of young men is recruited to die on the battlefields of Asia.
And as those young men are delivered to their families inside a wooden box or return home suffering from the long term effects of using weapons that contained depleted uranium, there can only be one thought among decent minded folk – ‘what a waste.’
But young men being carted away in a body bag or suffering from life long illnesses means nothing to the men these wars are fought for. They are just ‘collateral damage’ in pursuit of the ‘greater good’. Not the greater good of lofty idealism. But the corporate brand of ‘greater good’ – greed, resource grabs, ever more profits and ever more power.
The mainstream media glorifies the military at every available opportunity. Obama calls armed forces personnel ‘the real patriots’. In Britain they are ‘our brave lads’. Such rhetoric serves as a smokescreen to hide the true nature of the illegal, imperialist wars NATO continues to engage in.
For many, it seems strange that our ‘brave heroes’, our ‘true patriots’ who were sent out to kill, so often have to rely on charities when back from the battlefield to piece their health and lives back together again. Not so strange really because, behind the rhetoric, the reality is they are regarded by the wealthy beneficiaries of the war agenda as constituting disposable working class fodder who have no idea about what they are really fighting for..
Don’t take my word for it. Henry Kissinger, the criminal responsible for scorching, torching, maiming and killing tens of thousands is reported in the book ‘The Final Days’ (Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein) to have referred to military men as “dumb, stupid animals to be used as pawns for foreign policy.”
2013-05-16 "Pentagon 'Rewrites Constitution' Affirming Endless War: Senate hearing on the Authorization for Use of Military Force confirms congressional war powers rendered 'null and void'"
by Lauren McCauley from "Common Dreams" [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2013/05/16-6]:
The United States is truly engaged in an endless war.
In a hearing before the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Forces Thursday morning entitled "Oversight: The Law of Armed Conflict, the Use of Military Force, and the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force" [http://www.armed-services.senate.gov/hearings/event.cfm?eventid=dff260f50b247719c4fa9f1e3daf7232], Pentagon officials argued that the wide-ranging counter-terrorism laws implemented after 9/11 will continue to be the law of the land until "hostilities with al-Qaeda," or any individuals potentially associated with the group, come to an end.
During the hearing, lawmakers questioned the panel on the legality of the Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF) and weighed further actions. It was the first Senate hearing on the potential rewriting of the AUMF.
The rule empowers the president “to use all necessary and appropriate force against those nations, organizations, or persons he determines planned, authorized, committed, or aided the terrorist attacks that occurred on Sept. 11, 2001, or harbored such organizations or persons, in order to prevent any future acts of international terrorism against the United States by such nations, organizations or persons.”
This widespread directive has enabled the Commander in Chief to oversee everything from the rendition, transfer and indefinite detention of "suspects," to the authorization of lethal drone strikes.
Further, Pentagon officials argued Thursday that under the AUMF troops could be sent to Syria, Yemen and the Congo without new congressional authorization.
Testifying before the panel, Michael A. Sheehan, Assistant Secretary of Defense for Special Operations, defended the rationale saying that if a terrorist organization outside of al-Qaeda, the Taliban or any other "associated forces" began to threaten the United States [http://www.defense.gov/news/newsarticle.aspx?id=120061], "Then we might have to look at different authorities or extended authority or adjustment of authority to go after that organization."
Sheehan added that "when hostilities with al-Qaeda end, the AUMF will no longer be in force," ignoring the verified, self-perpetuating nature of the "global war on terror" in that American militarism has only increased hostilities worldwide [http://www.commondreams.org/headline/2012/12/04].
"This is the most astounding and astoundingly disturbing hearing I have been to since I have been here. You guys have essentially rewritten the Constitution here today," said Senator Angus King (I-Maine) at the hearing Thursday.
"I'm just a little old lawyer from Brunswick, Maine, but I don't see how you can possibly read this to be in comport with the Constitution," King said. "Under your reading, we've granted unbelievable powers to the president and it's a very dangerous precedent."
"You guys have invented this term, associated forces, that’s nowhere in this document," he added. "It’s the justification for everything, and it renders the war powers of Congress null and void."
Encouraging the lawmakers to retire the AUMF, Kenneth Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch, explained that there is "no more important distinction than the line between peace and war," because during peacetime a suspect can only be detained after full due process. Whereas in war, governments can kill at will [http://www.hrw.org/news/2013/05/16/us-statement-senate-armed-services-committee-aumf-targeted-killing-guantanamo].
He continued: "[T]he combination of a declared global war and the newly enhanced capacity to kill individual targets far from any traditional battlefield poses new dangers to basic rights—ones that will only grow as the US role in the Afghan armed conflict winds down. That leaves only al-Qaeda and similar armed groups but without the elements that traditionally limit use of the war power: the control of territory and a recognizable battlefield. To paint the problem most starkly, might a government that wants to kill a particular person simply declare “war” on him and shoot him, circumventing the basic due-process rights to which the target would ordinarily be entitled?"
Calling the AUMF a "blank check written in advance," Roth added that although President Obama has formally dropped the Bush administration’s use of the phrase "global war on terror," he noted that their interpretation of the rule "looks very similar."