On April 4 the Pentagon announced that it was sending a mobile missile defense system to Guam as a “precautionary move” to protect the island from the potential threat from North Korea. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system (THAAD) comprises ground-based interceptors in Alaska and California, as well as naval vessels capable of shooting down missiles.
On the same day, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said that North Korea posed a “real and clear danger” to the island, to U.S. allies in the region, and even to the United States. Its leaders have “ratcheted up their bellicose, dangerous rhetoric,” Hagel told the National Defense University in Washington. Areas at risk include South Korea and Japan, he added, as well as Guam, Hawaii and the West Coast of the United States. “We have to take those threats seriously,” he said.
It is the job of defense secretaries to take all threats seriously, but there is less than meets the eye to this one. While media coverage of tensions with North Korea makes it appear that its recent threats in response to the ongoing “Foal Eagle” U.S.-South Korean military exercises came unexpectedly, Pyongyang has a long history of objecting vehemently to such war games. North Korea is using bizarre rhetoric—as it has done many times before—but there is no “real and present danger,” because the country’s nuclear and missile delivery capabilities are rudimentary now and will remain so for years to come. Its three nuclear tests thus far—in 2006, 2009 and on February 12 of this year—amounted to a total yield of around 10 kilotons, or less than one-half the power of the bomb that destroyed Nagasaki in August 1945. At least two, and possibly all three, of those tests used plutonium as the fissile material. Crude and bulky, plutonium devices cannot be fitted onto a missile.
North Korea’s claims to have miniaturized its latest device are unproven and probably untrue: no tell-tale isotopes indicative of weapons-grade uranium have been detected. In addition, at the moment, its uranium-enrichment facilities are not producing requisite quantities of highly-enriched uranium (HEU). The Yongbyon site—the country’s main nuclear facility—has been limited to electricity generation for the past five years, as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal signed in September 2005. The agreement’s implementation was always wrought with difficulties, however. Last month, the regime vowed to restart all facilities at Yongbyon—presumably including uranium enrichment to weapons-grade levels (HEU). They have the technical ability to do this, but even if the enrichment program proceeds immediately North Korea will be several years away from producing a deliverable device on a reliable missile.
In the final months of Kim Jong-il’s life it appeared that the talks with the U.S. on the control of North Korea’s nuclear facilities would be restarted. After he died in December 2011, his young son and successor Kim Jong-un soon shifted emphasis from hoped-for cooperation to confrontation. In February 2012, Pyongyang unexpectedly announced that it would suspend nuclear activities and observe a moratorium on nuclear and long-range missile tests in return for American food aid. That agreement was suspended after North Korea unsuccessfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite a year ago, which caused major embarrassment to the regime. A successful launch came last December, swiftly followed by the tightening of international sanctions in January (this time supported by China), a third nuclear test in February, and the ongoing escalation of warlike rhetoric since early March.
That rhetoric is a mix of bluster and bravado. Even if it had the theoretical wherewithal to threaten the United States—which it does not have—North Korea could not do it credibly: a single missile, or two, or five, would be fairly easy to intercept and destroy, and the ensuing retaliation would turn much of the People’s Democratic Republic into a parking lot. In the fullness of time the North may develop a device capable of fitting into a warhead, but it will have no guidance system necessary for accuracy and no re-entry technology to bring an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) back to Earth. According to the UK-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, North Korea has something that can hit American shores, but a “functioning nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile is still at least several years away.”
Even if it were to miniaturize a half-dozen nuclear weapons and perfect some form of functioning delivery system, North Korea would not be able to use them as a means of blackmail to alter the regional balance of power. The U.S., Russia, China, Great Britain, France, India, Pakistan, and Israel have possessed nuclear weapons for decades. None of them has ever been able to change the status quo in its favor by threatening to use the bomb. The possession of nuclear weapons by one of the parties did not impact the outcome in Korea in 1953, or Suez in 1956, or prevent the two superpowers’ defeats, in Vietnam and Afghanistan respectively. It makes no difference to China’s stalled efforts to bring Taiwan under its control. South Africa had developed its own nuclear arsenal in the 1980s—it has been dismantled since—but this did not enhance its government’s ability to resist the pressure to dismantle the Apartheid in the early 1990’s. The political effect of a country’s possession of nuclear weapons has been to force its potential adversaries to exercise caution and to freeze the existing frontiers. There is no reason to think that North Korea will be an exception to the rule.
The root causes of North Korea’s apparently reckless behavior are predominantly domestic, as usual. Kim Jong-un, the third absolute ruler in the dynasty established by his late grandfather Kim Il-sung, is young (29), untested and insecure. When his father Kim Jong-il died on December 17, 2011, the military and Party leadership accepted his third son as the designated successor, but it was not immediately clear whether Jong-un would in fact take full power right away. A cult of personality started developing right away. With no track record of achievement and no sign of outstanding talent, he was hailed as the “great successor to the revolutionary cause,” “outstanding leader of the party, army and people,” “respected comrade identical to Supreme Commander Kim Jong-il,” even as “a great person born of heaven”—an eccentric metaphor for a society nominally based on the teaching of dialectical materialism. The titles followed: within days of his father’s death, Kim Jon-un was declared Supreme Commander of the Korean Peoples Army, Chairman of the Central Military Commission, and “supreme leader of the country.” In March of last year, he was appointed first secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea; three months later, he was awarded the rank of a field marshal.
The plethora of titles does not mean that Kim Jong-un automatically commands the same level of authority and unquestioning obedience enjoyed by his father and grandfather before him. According to a psychological profile put together by U.S. intelligence, Kim Jong-un may feel compelled to prove just how tough he is in order to make up for his inexperience. One of the CIA’s former top experts on North Korea, Joseph DeTrani, regards him as a young man insufficiently well prepared for the position, with limited foreign exposure, who has the urge to prove his toughness to his own military by emulating his grandfather, Kim Il-sung. But the heir is unlikely to start a general war, which he knows he cannot win, and in which China—his often reluctant backer—would likely remain aloof. “It would probably mean his defeat, and his defeat would probably mean the downfall of his regime and, very probably, the end of him as well,” according to the Telegraph’s David Blair. “Assuming that he’s not suicidal, he is very unlikely to start a general conflagration.” The danger remains, however, that North Korea, having ratcheted up the rhetoric for so long and having issued so many blood-curdling threats, feels that it has to do something.
My hunch is that in the end Kim the Third will do nothing. South Korea refrained from retaliation when one of its naval vessels was sunk under mysterious circumstances in disputed waters in March 2010, or when North Korea bombarded the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong in November of that year. This time the leaders in Seoul appear determined to respond to any hostile act. While China is urging all sides to tone it down, its warnings are primarily directed at North Korea. Beijing has conveyed a warning to Pyongyang that any incident would subject the North to swift and vigorous retaliation. It is noteworthy that there are no significant troop movements along the 38th parallel, and the feverish tone of North Korea’s state media appears to have abated in recent days. The specific warnings that preceded the Yeonpyeong attack are now absent. The regime is well aware of North Korea’s inadequacies in the nuclear and missile technologies. Economically it is a mess. According to the CIA economic assessment issued last month, North Korea’s industrial and power output have receded to pre-1990 levels, while frequent crop failures since the catastrophic 1995 famine have produced chronic food shortages and malnutrition. Its people depend for survival on international food aid deliveries, mainly from China.
Once this latest teacup storm is over, a coherent long-term American response should address the question as to why North Korea feels it needs nuclear weapons in the first place. This is not because Kim Jong-un plans to reunify the peninsula by force—that he cannot do, with or without the bomb—but because Pyongyang regards the United States as a real threat. North Korea is one of the tightest despotisms in existence, but ever since it was designated the eastern pivot of the “Axis of Evil” in President George W. Bush’s 2002 State of the Union Address its leaders have rational grounds to feel threatened. According to President Obama, the nuclear test offered only an illusion of greater security to North Korea. This is incorrect. The possession of nuclear weapons, far from providing an “illusion” of greater security, is the only reliable insurance policy to those states that Washington may deem fit for regime change. Had Serbia had the bomb in 1999 or Iraq in 2003, they would not have been subjected to illegal American attacks on patently spurious grounds.
Some imagination is needed in Washington, including a rethink of the old orthodoxy that nuclear proliferation is inherently dangerous. It is not. Since 1945, there have been many wars, but no catastrophic ones on par with 1914-1918 or 1939-1945. This long peace—lasting for close to seven decades thus far—is due almost entirely to the existence of nuclear weapons and to their possession by an expanding circle of powers. Contrary to the will of the United States—whose leaders do not want other countries to possess what America has possessed, and used, since 1945—nuclear proliferation has been a major factor in the preservation of peace. The “Balance of Terror” is a grim term which denotes a comforting reality, and its logic applies to the lesser powers, such as India and Pakistan, which went to war three times after the Partition—in 1947, 1965, and 1971—but not since then. On previous form, the violence in Kashmir in March 2008 and the Pakistani-linked terrorist attacks in Bombay in November of that year would have reignited the conflict—but they did not. The possession of nuclear weapons by both adversaries has been a major war-inhibiting factor for over four decades, and it will likely remain so for many years to come.
What is valid for the Subcontinent should apply to the North Korean peninsula. Sanctions or no sanctions, Pyongyang will not give up its bomb. For the sake of regional peace and stability, South Korea should acquire one as well—and there is no reason for Japan not to follow suit. Back in the 1970’s, the Ford Administration induced South Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program in return for not withdrawing American soldiers. Now is the time to reverse the sequence. Washington should grant a free nuclear hand to Seoul in return for the mutually agreed U.S. troop withdrawal. The latest crisis strengthens the case for the long-overdue withdrawal of the remaining 28,000 American troops from the Korean peninsula. It is high time to let the countries directly affected by Pyongyang’s actions—South Korea, Japan, China, and Russia—deal with North Korea themselves, to the best of their abilities.
Don’t be surprised when the global elite confiscate money from your bank account one day. They are already very clearly telling you that they are going to do it. Dutch Finance Minister Jeroen Dijsselbloem is the president of the Eurogroup – an organization of eurozone finance ministers that was instrumental in putting together the Cyprus “deal” – and he has said publicly that what has just happened in Cyprus will serve as a blueprint for future bank bailouts. What that means is that when the chips are down, they are going to come after YOUR money. So why should anyone put a large amount of money in the bank at this point? Perhaps you can make one or two percent on your money if you shop around for a really good deal, but there is also a chance that 40 percent (or more) of your money will be confiscated if the bank fails. And considering the fact that there are vast numbers of banks all over the United States and Europe that are teetering on the verge of insolvency, why would anyone want to take such a risk? What the global elite have done is that they have messed around with the fundamental trust that people have in the banking system. In order for any financial system to work, people must have faith in the safety and security of that financial system. People put their money in the bank because they think that it will be safe there. If you take away that feeling of safety, you jeopardize the entire system.
So exactly how did the big banks in Cyprus get into so much trouble? Well, they have been doing exactly what hundreds of other large banks all over the U.S. and Europe have been doing. They have been gambling with our money. In particular, the big banks in Cyprus made huge bets on Greek sovereign debt which ended up failing.
But what happened in Cyprus is just the tip of the iceberg. All over the planet major financial institutions are being incredibly reckless with client money. They are leveraged to the hilt and they have transformed the global financial system into a gigantic casino.
If they win on their bets, they become fabulously wealthy.
If they lose on their bets, they know that the politicians won’t let the banks fail. They know that they will get bailed out one way or another.
And who pays?
Either our tax dollars are used to fund a government-sponsored bailout, or as we have just witnessed in Cyprus, money is directly confiscated from our bank accounts.
And then the game begins again.
People need to understand that the precedent that has just been set in Cyprus is a game changer.
The next time that a major bank fails in Greece or Italy or Spain (or in the United States for that matter), the precedent that has been set in Cyprus will be looked to as a “template” for how to handle the situation.
Eurogroup president Jeroen Dijsselbloem has even publicly admitted that what just happened in Cyprus will serve as a model for future bank bailouts. Just check out what he said a few days ago…
“If there is a risk in a bank, our first question should be ‘Okay, what are you in the bank going to do about that? What can you do to recapitalise yourself?’. If the bank can’t do it, then we’ll talk to the shareholders and the bondholders, we’ll ask them to contribute in recapitalising the bank, and if necessary the uninsured deposit holders”
Dijsselbloem insists that this will cause people “to think about the risks” before they put their money somewhere…
“It will force all financial institutions, as well as investors, to think about the risks they are taking on because they will now have to realise that it may also hurt them. The risks might come towards them.”
Well, as depositors in Cyprus just found out, there is a risk that you could lose 40 percent (and that is the best case scenario) of your money if you put it in the bank.
Why would anyone want to take that risk – especially in a nation that is already experiencing very serious financial troubles such as Greece, Italy or Spain?
As if that was not enough, Dijsselbloem later went in front of the Dutch parliament and publicly defended a wealth tax like the one that was just imposed in Cyprus.
Dijsselbloem is being widely criticized, and rightfully so. But at least he is being more honest that many other politicians. His predecessor as the head of the Eurogroup, Jean-Claude Juncker, once said that “you have to lie” to the people in order to keep the financial markets calm…
Mr. Dijsselbloem’s style contrasts with that of his predecessor, Jean-Claude Juncker, Luxembourg’s prime minister, who spoke in a low mumble at news conferences and was expert at sidestepping questions. Mr. Juncker once even advocated lying as a way to prevent financial markets from panicking—as they did Monday after Mr. Dijsselbloem’s comments.
“When it becomes serious, you have to lie,” Mr. Juncker said in April 2011. “If you have pre-indicated possible decisions, you are feeding speculation in the financial markets.”
But Dijsselbloem is certainly not the only one among the global elite that is admitting what is coming next. Just check out what Joerg Kraemer, the chief economist at Commerzbank, recently told Handelsblatt about what he believes should be done in Italy…
“A tax rate of 15 percent on financial assets would probably be enough to push the Italian government debt to below the critical level of 100 percent of gross domestic product”
They are telling us what they plan to do.
They are telling us that they plan to raid all of our bank accounts when the global financial system fails.
And calling it a “haircut” does not change the fact of what it really is. The truth is that when they confiscate money from our bank accounts it is outright theft. Just check out what the Daily Mail had to say about the situation in Cyprus…
People who rob old ladies in the street, or hold up security vans, are branded as thieves. Yet when Germany presides over a heist of billions of pounds from private savers’ Cyprus bank accounts, to ‘save the euro’ for the hundredth time, this is claimed as high statesmanship.
It is nothing of the sort. The deal to secure a €10 billion German bailout of the bankrupt Mediterranean island is one of the nastiest and most immoral political acts of modern times.
It has struck fear into the hearts of hundreds of millions of European citizens, because it establishes a dire precedent.
And when you cause paralysis in the banking system, a once thriving economy can freeze up almost overnight. The following is an excerpt from a report from someone that is actually living over in Cyprus…
As it stands now, nowhere in Cyprus accepts credit or debit cards anymore for fear of not being paid, it is CASH ONLY. Businesses have stopped functioning because they cannot pay employees OR pay for the stock they receive because the banks are closed. If the banks remain closed, the economy will be destroyed and STOP COMPLETELY. Looting, robberies and theft are already on the rise. If the banks open now, there will be a massive run on the bank, and the banks will FAIL loosing all of its deposits, also causing an economic crash. TONIGHT there are demonstrations at most street corners and especially at the parliament building (just 2 miles from me).
Many are thinking that the ECB and EU are allowing Cyprus to fail as a test ground for new financial standards.
Just wanted all you guys to know the real story of whats going on here. Prayers are appreciated (although this is very interesting to watch) many of my local friends have lots of money in the banks.
Would similar things happen in the United States if there was a major banking crisis someday?
That is something to think about.
In any event, the problems in the rest of Europe continue to get even worse…
-The stock market in Greece is crashing. It is down by more than 10 percent over the past two days.
-The stock markets in Italy and Spain are experiencing huge declines as well. Banking stocks are being hit particularly hard.
-The Bank of Spain says that the Spanish economy will sink even deeper into recession this year.
-The latest numbers from the Spanish government show that Spain’s debt problem is rapidly getting worse…
“The central government’s interest bill surged 15 percent last year to 26 billion euros, while tax receipts slumped 21 percent. The cost of servicing debt represented 30 percent of the taxes collected at the end of December, up from 20 percent a year earlier.”
-The euro took quite a tumble on Thursday and the euro will likely continue to decline steadily in the weeks and months to come.
For a very long time I have been warning that the next major wave of the economic collapse is going to originate in Europe.
Hopefully people are starting to see what I am talking about.
As this point, the major banks in Europe are leveraged about 26 to 1, and that is close to the kind of leverage that Lehman Brothers had when it finally collapsed. As a whole, European banks are drowning in debt, they are taking risks that are almost incomprehensible and now faith in those banks has been greatly undermined by what has happened in Cyprus.
Anyone that cannot see a crisis coming in Europe simply does not understand the financial world. A moment of reckoning is rapidly approaching for Europe. The following is from a recent article by Graham Summers…
At the end of the day, the reason Europe hasn’t been fixed is because CAPITAL SIMPLY ISN’T THERE. Europe and its alleged backstops are out of money. This includes Germany, the ECB and the mega-bailout funds such as the ESM.
Germany has already committed to bailouts that equal 5% of its GDP. The single largest transfer payment ever made by one country to another was the Marshall Plan in which the US transferred an amount equal to 5% of its GDP. Germany WILL NOT exceed this. So don’t count on more money from Germany.
The ECB is chock full of garbage debts which have been pledged as collateral for loans. If anyone of significance defaults in Europe, the ECB is insolvent. Sure it can print more money, but once the BIG collateral call hits, money printing is useless because the amount of money the ECB would have to print would implode the system.
And then of course there are the mega bailout funds such as the ESM. The only problem here is that Spain and Italy make up 30% of the ESM’s supposed “funding.” That’s right, nearly one third of the mega-bailout fund’s capital will come from countries that are bankrupt themselves.
What could go wrong?
Right now, close to half of all money that is on deposit at banks in Europe is uninsured. As people move that uninsured money out of the banks, the amount of money that will be required to “fix the banks” will go up even higher.
It would be wise to try to avoid the big banks at this point – especially those with very large exposure to derivatives. Any financial institution that uses customer money to make reckless bets is not to be trusted.
If you can find a small local bank or credit union to do business with you will probably be better off.
And don’t think that this kind of thing can never happen in the United States.
One of the key players that was pushing the idea of a “wealth tax” in Cyprus was the IMF. And everyone knows that the IMF is heavily dominated by the United States. In fact, the headquarters of the IMF is located right in the heart of Washington D.C. not too far from the White House. When I worked in D.C. I would walk by the IMF headquarters quite a bit.
So if the United States thought that confiscating money from bank accounts was a great idea in Cyprus, why wouldn’t they implement such a thing here under similar circumstances?
The global elite are telling us what they plan to do, and the game has dramatically changed.
Move your money while you still can.
Unfortunately, it is already too late for the people of Cyprus.
Source: The Economic Collapse
“Nuclear, ecological, chemical, economic — our arsenal of Death by Stupidity is impressive for a species as smart as Homo sapiens” 1
The hurricanes, the typhoons, the heat waves … the droughts, the heavy rains, the floods … ever more powerful, ever new records being set. Something must be done of course. Except if you don’t believe at all that it’s man-made. But if there’s even a small chance that the greenhouse effect is driving the changes, is it not plain that, at a minimum, we have to err on the side of caution? There’s too much at stake. Like civilization as we know it. Carbon dioxide emissions into the atmosphere must be greatly curtailed.
The three greatest problems facing the beleaguered, fragile inhabitants of this lonely planet are climate change, economic crisis, and the violence of war. It is my sad duty to report that the United States of America is the main culprit in each case. Is that not remarkable?
Why does Barack Obama not pursue the battle against climate change with the same intensity he pursues war? Why does he not seek to punish the American bankers and stockbrokers responsible for the financial calamity as much as he seeks to punish Julian Assange and Bradley Manning?
In both cases he’s putting the interests of the corporate world before anything else. No amount of fines or penalties will induce corporate leaders to modify their behavior. Only spending some hard time in a prison cellblock might cause the growth in them of their missing part, the part that’s shaped like a social conscience.
Only prosecuting George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, and their partners in bombing and torture will discourage future American war lovers from following in their bloody footsteps.
The recent election result can only embolden Obama. He likely took it as an affirmation of his policies, although only 29.3% of those eligible to vote actually voted for him. And an unknown, but certainly significant, number of those who did so held their nose while voting for the supposed lesser of two evils. Hardly indicative of impassioned support for his policies.
Last week the United Nations Climate Summit was held in Doha, Qatar. The comments which came from many of the activists (as opposed to various government officials) were doomsdayish … “Time is running out … time has already run out … the climate has already changed … Hurricane Sandy, rising sea levels, the worst is yet to come.” The Kyoto protocol is still the only international treaty stipulating cuts in greenhouse gas emissions. It’s a touchstone for many environmentalists. But the United States has never ratified it. At the previous conferences in Copenhagen and Durban, the US blocked important global action and failed to honor vital pledges.
At the Doha conference the US was acutely criticized for failing to take the lead on planet protection, especially in light of its standing as the largest historic contributor to the current levels of greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere. (“The most obdurate bully in the room”, declared the Indian environmentalist, Sunita Narain. 2)
What motivates the American representatives, now as before, as ever, is concern about corporate profits. Cutting back on greenhouse gas emissions can hurt the bottom line. A suitable epitaph for the earth’s tombstone. Shamus Cooke, writing on ZSpace, sums it up well: “Thus, if renewable energy is not as profitable as oil — and it isn’t — then the majority of capitalist investing will continue to go towards destroying the planet. It really is that simple. Even the best-intentioned capitalists do not throw their money away on non-growth investments.”
A brief history of Superpowers
From the Congress of Vienna of 1815 to the Congress of Berlin in 1878 to the “Allies” invasion of Russia in 1918 to the formation of what became the European Union in the 1950s, the great powers of Europe and the world have gotten together in grand meeting halls and on the field of battle to set the ground rules for imperialist exploitation of Latin America, Africa, Asia, and Australasia, to Christianize and ‘civilize’, to remake the maps, and to suppress revolutions and other threats to great-power hegemony. They have been deadly serious. In 1918, for example, some 13 nations, including France, Great Britain, Rumania, Italy, Serbia, Greece, Japan, and the United States, combined in a military invasion of Russia to “strangle at its birth” the nascent Bolshevik state, as Winston Churchill so charmingly put it.
And following World War 2, without any concern about who had fought and died to win that war, the Western powers, sans the Soviet Union, moved to create the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. NATO, along with the European Union, then joined the United States in carrying out the Cold War and preventing the Communists and their allies from coming to power legally through elections in France and Italy. That partnership continued after the formal end of the Cold War. The United States, the European Union, and NATO are each superpowers, with extensive military, as well as foreign policy integration — almost all EU members are also members of NATO; almost all NATO members in Europe are in the EU; almost all NATO members have had a military contingent serving under NATO and/or the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, the Balkans and elsewhere.
Together, this Holy Triumvirate has torn apart Yugoslavia, invaded and devastated Afghanistan and Iraq, crippled Iran, Cuba and others with sanctions, overthrown the Libyan government, and are on the verge now of the same in Syria. Much of what the Triumvirate has told the world to justify this wanton havoc has concerned Islamic terrorism, but it should be noted that prior to the interventions in Iraq, Libya and Syria all three countries were secular and modern. Will the people of those sad lands ever see that life again?
In suppressing the left in France and Italy, and later in destabilizing the governments of Libya and Syria, the Holy Triumvirate has closely aligned itself with terrorists and terrorist methods to a remarkable extent. 3 In Syria alone, it would be difficult to name any Middle East terrorist group associated with al Qaeda — employing their standard car bombings and suicide bombers — that is not taking part in the war against President Assad with the support of the Triumvirate. Is there anything — legally or morally — the Triumvirate regards as outside its purview? Any place not within its geographical mandate? Britain and France have now joined Turkey and Arabian Peninsula states in recognizing a newly formed opposition bloc as the sole representative of the Syrian people. “From the point of view of international law, this is absolutely unacceptable,” Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev declared. “A desire to change the political regime of another state by recognizing a political force as the sole carrier of sovereignty seems to me to be not completely civilised.” France was the first Western state to recognize the newly-formed Syrian National Coalition and was swiftly joined by Britain, Italy and the European Union. 4 The neck irons tighten.
The European Union in recent years has been facing a financial crisis, where its overriding concern has been to save the banks, not its citizens, inspiring calls from the citizenry of some member states to leave the Union. I think the dissolution of the European Union would benefit world peace by depriving the US/NATO mob of a guaranteed partner in crime by returning to the Union’s members their individual discretion in foreign policy.
And then we can turn to getting rid of NATO, an organization that not only has a questionable raison d’être in the present, but never had any good reason-to-be in the past other than serving as Washington’s hit man. 5
The United Nations vote on the Cuba embargo — 21 years in a row
For years American political leaders and media were fond of labeling Cuba an “international pariah”. We don’t hear that any more. Perhaps one reason is the annual vote in the United Nations General Assembly on the resolution which reads: “Necessity of ending the economic, commercial and financial embargo imposed by the United States of America against Cuba”. This is how the vote has gone (not including abstentions):
|Year||Votes (Yes-No)||No Votes|
|1993||88-4||US, Israel, Albania, Paraguay|
|1995||117-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1996||138-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|1997||143-3||US, Israel, Uzbekistan|
|2000||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2001||167-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2002||173-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2003||179-3||US, Israel, Marshall Islands|
|2004||179-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2005||182-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2006||183-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2007||184-4||US, Israel, Marshall Islands, Palau|
|2008||185-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2009||187-3||US, Israel, Palau|
|2012||188-3||US, Israel, Palau|
Each fall the UN vote is a welcome reminder that the world has not completely lost its senses and that the American empire does not completely control the opinion of other governments.
How it began: On April 6, 1960, Lester D. Mallory, US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Inter-American Affairs, wrote in an internal memorandum: “The majority of Cubans support Castro … The only foreseeable means of alienating internal support is through disenchantment and disaffection based on economic dissatisfaction and hardship. … every possible means should be undertaken promptly to weaken the economic life of Cuba.” Mallory proposed “a line of action which … makes the greatest inroads in denying money and supplies to Cuba, to decrease monetary and real wages, to bring about hunger, desperation and overthrow of government.” 6 Later that year, the Eisenhower administration instituted the suffocating embargo against its eternally-declared enemy.
Placing American presidents in their proper context
“Once upon a time there was a radical president who tried to remake American society through government action. In his first term he created a vast network of federal grants to state and local governments for social programs that cost billions. He set up an imposing agency to regulate air and water emissions, and another to regulate workers’ health and safety. Had Congress not stood in his way he would have gone much further. He tried to establish a guaranteed minimum income for all working families and, to top it off, proposed a national health plan that would have provided government insurance for low-income families, required employers to cover all their workers and set standards for private insurance. Thankfully for the country, his second term was cut short and his collectivist dreams were never realize.
His name was Richard Nixon.” 7
Films on US foreign policy
The Power Principle is a series of three films by Scott Noble. Part one, “Empire”, is the only one I’ve seen completely so far and I can say that it’s great stuff. The three parts, with their times, are:
Featured in the films are Noam Chomsky, Michael Parenti, John Stockwell, Christopher Simpson, Ralph McGehee, Philip Agee, Nafeez Ahmed, John Perkins, James Petras, John Stauber, Russ Baker, Howard Zinn, William Blum, Nancy Snow, William I. Robinson, Morris Berman, Peter Phillips, Michael Albert, and others of the usual suspects.
To comment about these films or others by Scott Noble, write to him at email@example.com.
Much more publicized is the new film and book by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick. Entitled The Untold History of the United States, it is a 10-part series appearing on Showtime. Only Stone’s name could get this dark side of US history and foreign policy on mainstream television. It will be interesting to observe what the mass media has to say about this challenge to some of America’s most cherished beliefs about itself.
- Jeanette Winterson, The New York Times, September 17, 2009 ↩
- Democracy Now!, December 7, 2012 ↩
- For France and Italy, see Operation Gladio Wikipedia; and Daniele Ganser, Operation Gladio: NATO’s Top Secret Stay-Behind Armies and Terrorism in Western Europe (2005) ↩
- Agence France Presse, November 26, 2012↩
- For the best coverage of the NATO monolith, sign up with StopNATO. To get on the mailing list write to Rick Rozoff at firstname.lastname@example.org. To see back issues at http://groups.yahoo.com/group/stopnato ↩
- Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States, 1958-1960, Volume VI, Cuba (1991), p.885 ↩
- From the review of the book: I am the change: Barack Obama and the Crisis of Liberalism by Charles Kesler. Review by Mark Lilla, The New York Times Book Review, September 30, 2012, p.1 ↩
It’s more than 8 years that the world’s newspapers are filled with miscellaneous news, reports and commentaries concerning Iran’s nuclear program. Controversy over Iran’s nuclear program has spanned through two administrations in Iran: ex-President Mohammad Khatami’s government and the incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad’s administration. The term “Iran nuclear program” returns more than 6 million results in Google web search. Thousands of scholars, journalists, politicians and political pundits have made their own statement regarding this debatable subject.
Terminologically, Iran’s nuclear program calls to mind the words holocaust, Israel, Zionism, Axis of Evil, George W. Bush, stretched hands and uranium enrichment. The world is watching the uninteresting continuation of confrontation over Iran’s nuclear program and the opportunist journalists find this tedious charade the best subject to entertain their readers and enrich their portfolio.
Iran says that it needs enriched uranium to meet its energy demands and produce electricity. The United States and its European allies claim that Iran wants to produce nuclear weapons in order to launch a military strike against Israel. Israel, over the past 5 years, has been incessantly threatening Iran with a preemptive attack, warning that it would not allow Iran to achieve nuclear technology.
The United Nations Security Council, under the pressure of United States and its stalwart allies, has imposed 4 rounds of backbreaking financial sanctions against Iran to dissuade it from developing “nuclear weapons”. Iranian officials have repeatedly rejected the claims that they’re moving towards developing nuclear weapons and called the sanctions ineffective, valueless.
These scenarios have been taking place over the past 8 years repeatedly and there was not a single magnanimous politician to put an end to the exhausting war of words between Iran and the West categorically.
There are only two possibilities which can terminate Iran’s nuclear deadlock. The first solution is that Iran has to withdraw from its nuclear accomplishments and submit to the calls of Western politicians by giving up its uranium enrichment program. The other solution would be the West’s abandonment of its uncompromising stance by accepting a new nuclear power in the Middle East.
Both of the solutions, however, seem to be impractical and unattainable as none of the parties involved in Iran’s nuclear standoff have so far shown any sign of flexibility and reasonability. The West staunchly insists that Israel should remain the sole possessor of nuclear weapons in the Middle East and the employment of nuclear energy by the other countries, even for peaceful purposes, violates the policy of a Middle East with an unrivaled nuclear Israel. Iran, on the other hand, insists that it would never accede to halt its uranium enrichment program in lieu of receiving a certain amount of uranium enriched by a third country to be consequently transferred to Iran to be used in the nuclear reactors in Bushehr and Natanz.
Both sides of the game continue to stick to their stubbornness and adamancy. None of them retreat from their stances which have been indicated a number of times that are baseless and unfounded. The game which they’ve started has no winner. It’s a “lose-lose” competition. Amidst their erosive and probably unending clashes, the Iranian people seem to be the only loser. They’re the ones who should tolerate the intolerable consequences of financial sanctions. They’re the ones who will be deprived of the barest rudiments of their daily life as a result of the financial sanctions which are purportedly imposed on the government of Iran.
The Iranian people are the only loser of power game between Iran and the West. They’re competing to surmount each other in a nonstop match which is designed to show the most powerful competitor.
Once the turn comes to boasting of respecting the human rights and freedom, the Western leaders chant that they want the well-being, liberty and safety of the Iranian people. Once it’s time to keep silent and watch, they interfere disturbingly and affect the political destiny of a nation. I’m referring to Iran’s June 2009 presidential elections in which the Western politicians blatantly took the side of the reformist candidate Mir-Hossein Mousavi and made an opposition figure out of him, laying the groundwork for his being demonized domestically; however, once it’s time for them to take action and prevent the Iranian nation from being affected by the grave consequences of a meaningless power game, they vote in favor of a fourth round of financial sanctions against Iran unilaterally and prove that their claims are drastically futile and unrealistic.
The only losers of this power game are the ordinary Iranian people. There’s no doubt about that.
By Kourosh Ziabari
Tittle-tattles regarding the possibility of a military strike against Iran are being renewed these days. President Obama, to whom I still wonder why the Nobel Peace Prize has gone, is confessing that former President Bush was right in his belief that Iran poses a serious threat to the international community; Russia is cowardly retreating from its position, joining the rest of world’s tyrannical powers who favor the imposition of new sanctions against Iran; fueled up by Israel and AIPAC, American corporate media are laying the groundwork to prepare the public opinions forcefully, convincing them that Iran is the most dangerous country in the Middle East and should be disarmed as soon as possible, otherwise, it may attack Israel to wipe it off the map.
All of what’s happening right now resonates with the developments which we’ve been a witness to two years before the invasion of Iraq. The New York Times is exactly replaying the unpleasant scenario it had devised to convince us that the late dictator Saddam Hussein has had Weapons of Mass Destruction. History is being repeated once again and Iran is now subject to a backbreaking, multilateral psychological warfare in addition to the previously-running economic embargo. The very fact that Iran is still standing on its own feet demonstrates the powerful will and strong capability of this nation; however, what’s really happening behind the scenes? What will happen if U.S. or its Middle East subordinate, Israel, attack Iran?
Who made Saddam out of Saddam?
Even a 7-year-old child could simply distinguish that Saddam Hussein, who was deplorably executed by the U.S. in 2006, was a marionette of the very same United States that waged and imposed the 8-year proxy war on the newborn Iran of post-revolution days, taking the life of more than 350,000 people human beings relentlessly. Comically, this is the very same United States that perpetually drums its commitment to “human” rights and brands the other countries human right violator. Weren’t those 350,000 Iranian people human beings?
In his 1991 book “The Death Lobby: How the West Armed Iraq”, Kenneth R. Timmerman implies that U.S. should have sought a new puppet in the Middle East once its crony, Mohammad Reza Pahlavi, was ousted overnight by the Iranian people who could not tolerate their country being a pawn of the foreign powers: “Islamic revolution in Iran upset the entire strategic equation in the region. America’s principle ally in the Gulf, the Shah, was swept aside overnight, and no one else on the horizon could replace him as the guarantor of U.S. interests in the region”. So they sought refuge in Iraq’s dictator and promised to support him unconditionally, provided that the dictator also sticks to his pledge of paralyzing the Iranian revolution.
In 1982, Iraq was suddenly removed from the U.S.-fabricated list of State Sponsors of Terrorism, demonstrating the falsehood and baselessness of the list. At the outset, nobody figured out that what could lead a country to be qualified to the list of States not-Sponsoring Terrorism at once; however, everything made known progressively.
President Ronald Reagan dispatched Donald Rumsfeld as his special envoy to Saddam Hussein so as to restore ties with the former “State Sponsor of Terrorism”. Two cordial meetings between Rumsfeld and Saddam took place in 1983 and 1984 where they reached different agreement over the supports U.S. would provide to Iraq as to the artilleries, ballistic missiles, aviation facilities and intelligence services. Iraqi troops received tactical battlefield advice and advanced military training along with unconventional warfare schemes which were exclusive to U.S. Department of State doctrine of defense.
However, United States did not even spare sending chemical weapons to Iraq so as to be dropped on the roofs of human beings’ houses. This was another representation of United States’ commitment to human rights. In May 1994, a report by the U.S. Senate Banking Committee disclosed that “pathogenic (disease producing), toxigenic (poisonous), and other biological research materials were exported to Iraq pursuant to application and licensing by the U.S. Department of Commerce.”
A British expert of biological weapons and former UN inspector of chemical weapons to Iraq, David Kelly, confirmed that “Iraq purchased 8 strains of anthrax from the United States in 1985″.
Anyway, U.S. did whatever it was capable of, in order to fortify and strengthen a dictator who could never foresee, even in his dreams that will be shortly eradicated by the very people with whom he shook hands affectionately.
A 2003 May report by the “LA Weekly” published a list of 41 American companies that assisted Saddam in his mission to destroy Iran and bring down the Islamic Revolution which ended in the elimination of a U.S.-backed king. Interestingly, Caterpillar Inc, Hewlett-Packard, IBM, Carl Zeiss and Phillips Exports were among these companies that the LA Weekly listed.
As an instance, NRM Corp. “supplied $3,310,485 worth of tire-manufacturing machines and $950,000 worth of presses and accessories to Iraq’s State Establishment for Heavy Engineering Equipment”. One may wonder whether Saddam could have practically employed all of the facilities, apparatuses and facilities he received from a total of 150 foreign companies, introduced by the German newspaper “Die Tageszeitung”; however, the conclusion might be that the Western world consciously elevated Saddam to the position of an invincible and indomitable tyrant and then decided to being him down all at once.
The story of Iran
Iran is a different country. It endeavors to maintain its difference and distinctiveness. Iranian people don’t need a foreign supremacist to decide for them. Even if a devastating civil war happens in Iran and different political groups quarrel with together severely, they won’t for good seek refuge in foreign saviors to help them, because the history of Iran’s developments demonstrates the fact that foreign powers have not ever come to Iran with goodwill and pure intention. A relentless enemy which is already busy with the bloodshed it has mounted in Palestine possesses 200 nuclear warheads that are targeted towards Iran while the “human rights” activists continue keeping silent.
Iran is a country of peace. Literature and culture is intertwined with every piece of Iranian citizen’s life. Iran is home to one of the world’s ancient civilizations along with Roman Empire and Hellenic Empire. I’m personally opposed to any kind of weaponry; whether it’s chemical, nuclear whatsoever. If all of the countries in the world put their military and armed forces aside, no war will take place and nobody will lose his life; however, we all now that such austere statements can be exclusively the ambitions of a primary school student who sees his surrounding word with the eyes of innocence and purity. If Israel’s “right of existence” and “right to self-defense” is important, then Iran’s right of “peace and tranquility” is important, as well.
As John Pilger implies in his recent article, go and seek the nuclear stockpiles of Israel, not Iran, because you don’t find anything of worth in the nuclear power plants of Iran; nevertheless, if you are adventurous and are highly interested in excitement, Israel has much more to offer to you.
Most of us Americans have a deep and abiding respect and admiration for our country’s fighting men who have served–and are serving–within the US Armed Forces. We appreciate their willingness to put themselves in harm’s way for the preservation of our nation’s liberty and independence. We honor their sacrifice. Indeed, many of us share that sacrifice with the deaths, dismemberments, and paralysis of our most cherished loved ones who were killed or injured in the line of duty.
It is time, however, that we awaken to the reality of what our military is becoming and where it is heading. Suffice it to say, this is not your father’s army.
On December 8, 1941, my father, Ed Baldwin–along with his two brothers, Bud and Gene–marched down to a recruiting office in Little Rock, Arkansas, to enlist. The Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor the day before, and no branch of service had to beg people to enlist that day. Bud joined the Navy. Gene joined the Marines. When government officials saw Dad’s resume, they selected him to help construct the atomic bomb. All three brothers served their country with distinction throughout the war.
But what all of us need to realize is, World War II was the last constitutionally fought war in which America has been engaged. The United Nations was created at the end of WWII, and ever since then, our military forces have increasingly become the “peacekeeping” arm of that evil institution.
Since WWII, American forces have fought major wars in South Korea, South Vietnam (including Laos and Cambodia), Kosovo, the Persian Gulf (Kuwait), Iraq, Afghanistan, and now Pakistan–all for the benefit of the United Nations. Add to these major wars lesser conflicts (except to those Americans killed or wounded in them) such as Lebanon, Dominican Republic, Congo (Zaire), Iran, El Salvador, Libya, Grenada, Honduras, Chad, Panama, Colombia, Bolivia, Peru, Saudi Arabia, Macedonia, Bosnia, Sierra Leone, Kenya, Tanzania, and Somalia. And this does not take into account the countless CIA-sponsored Black Ops missions that have taken place all over the world.
Yes, American forces have been used to both put people in power and take people out of power all over the world. And as often as not, the people we put in power were counted among the “bad guys,” while the people we removed from power were “good guys.” Remember, our own CIA was the organization most responsible for the rise to power of Osama Bin Laden. And it was the US government that surreptitiously set up the murder of Dr. Jonas Savimbi, who was one of the best friends the United States had overseas. Plus, does anyone remember how the US treated our friend, the Shah of Iran? Yes, some of us are old enough to remember when Iran was one of the best friends we had in that region of the world.
But mind you, not one single war in which American forces have been engaged since WWII has been constitutionally fought. Not one!
Ever since the United Nations was created, its interests have dominated the usage of US forces. In fact, our military today is quickly morphing into the tip of the spear for a burgeoning, global New World Order. To those with eyes to see, the evidence is everywhere. It’s not even being hidden anymore. Have you seen that new US Navy television commercial? It boldly proclaims, “The US Navy: A GLOBAL FORCE For Good.” (Emphasis added.)
This politically correct, UN-dominated New World Order has changed (and is changing) our US military right before our eyes. It has taken the greatest and proudest independent fighting force in the world–one created to defend the people and property of the United States–and turned it into a global military policeman for the evil Machiavellians at the UN.
In order to convert the US military into a true “Global Force,” several changes are being forced upon our fighting men.
First, more and more women are entering the US military.
Currently, women comprise about 20% of military personnel. And for the first time in US history, women are actively engaged in combat units in the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. The massive integration of women in combat may serve the interests of political correctness, but it does not serve the interests of combat effectiveness. Neither does it serve the interests of family and child rearing. And I don’t care how old fashioned that sounds!
Wives and mothers are the backbone of family nurturing. To willingly take mothers away from their children–and subject both mother and child to the separation and suffering that military life demands–is both unnatural and cruel.
And there is another stark reality that few people want to discuss: the fact that 30% of all women in the US military are raped. Yes, you read it right: 30%.
According to NPR, “In 2003, a survey of female veterans found that 30 percent said they were raped in the military. A 2004 study of veterans who were seeking help for post-traumatic stress disorder found that 71 percent of the women said they were sexually assaulted or raped while serving. And a 1995 study of female veterans of the Gulf and earlier wars, found that 90 percent had been sexually harassed.”
See the report at:
Government and military brass know that the introduction of women into the military environment (especially the combat environment) is reaping problems of epidemic proportions, but they are deliberately ignoring and even covering them up.
For example, does anyone recall the name Jamie Leigh Jones? According to ABC News, “A Houston, Texas woman says she was gang-raped by Halliburton/KBR coworkers in Baghdad, and the company and the U.S. government are covering up the incident.
“Jamie Leigh Jones, now 22, says that after she was raped by multiple men at a KBR camp in the Green Zone, the company put her under guard in a shipping container with a bed and warned her that if she left Iraq for medical treatment, she’d be out of a job.”
And this story leads into another phenomenon being created within this New World Order army: the way our government and military are increasing their use of “private” or “independent” contractors. In the past, these people were always known simply as mercenaries. Call them what you will, mercenaries are now a major component of the way our government wages war.
According to Global Research, “The growing use of private armies not only subjects target populations to savage warfare but makes it easier for the White House to subvert domestic public opinion and wage wars.
“Americans are less inclined to oppose a war that is being fought by hired foreign mercenaries, even when their own tax dollars are being squandered to fund it.
“‘The increasing use of contractors, private forces, or, as some would say, “mercenaries,” makes wars easier to begin and to fight–it just takes money and not the citizenry,’ said Michael Ratner, of New York’s Center for Constitutional Rights. ‘To the extent a population is called upon to go to war, there is resistance, a necessary resistance to prevent wars of self-aggrandizement, foolish wars, and, in the case of the United States, hegemonic imperialist wars.’”
See the report at:
Remember, at any given moment, there might be as many–if not more–mercenaries fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan as there are US military forces. For example, according to the Christian Science Monitor, in early 2008, the number of mercenaries fighting in Iraq numbered more than 190,000. Remember, in addition to the benefit of not drafting US citizens to fight these perpetual wars (and thus avoid incurring the wrath and resistance of the American public), mercenaries enjoy the luxury of not having to comply with the military rules of engagement. And the stories of atrocities committed by US-employed mercenaries in Iraq and Afghanistan are too numerous to list.
In addition to the Jamie Jones case mentioned above, consider the case where Blackwater (now called Xe) mercenaries mowed down 17 Iraqi citizens in an unprovoked attack. And, of course, no one at Blackwater was held accountable for these murders. Reports of abuse, cruelty, and savagery by mercenaries in Iraq are commonplace. According to the Global Research report, “Many soldiers of fortune on private payrolls previously served dictators in South Africa, Chile, and elsewhere.”
The Washington Post quotes Brigadier General Karl Horst, an advisor to the U.S. Joint Force Command as saying, “These guys [mercenaries] run loose in this country [Iraq] and do stupid stuff. There’s no authority over them, so you can’t come down on them hard when they escalate force . . . They shoot people, and someone else has to deal with the aftermath. It happens all over the place.”
And you wonder why the United States is viewed so negatively around the world?
Granted, there is a place and proper use for mercenaries. Fred E. Foldvary, Senior Editor of The Progress Report, rightly observes, “One alternative to U.S. military action against terrorists who have attacked the U.S. and other countries, and are threatening further attacks, is to enact Letters of Marque and Reprisal. Article I, Section 8, paragraph 11 of the U.S. Constitution authorizes Congress to ‘grant letters of Marque and Reprisal and make rules concerning captures on land and water.’ A ‘reprisal’ means an action taken in return for some injury. A reprisal could be a seizing of property or guilty persons in retaliation for an attack and injury. It could include forces used against the perpetrators for the redress of grievances. A reprisal could even involve killing a terrorist who is threatening further harm and cannot be captured.
“‘Marque’ is related to ‘marching’ and means crossing or marching across a border in order to do a reprisal. So a letter of Marque and Reprisal would authorize a private person, not in the U.S. armed forces, to conduct reprisal operations outside the borders of the U.S.A.
“Such Letters are grantable not just by the U.S. Constitution, but also by international law, which is why it was able to be included in the Constitution. The Letters are grantable whenever the citizens or subjects of one country are injured by those in another country and justice is denied by the government of that country, as happened with the attack by persons who were in Afghanistan.”
And that is exactly what Congressman Ron Paul attempted to do. He proposed H.R. 3076, the September 11 Marque and Reprisal Act of 2001, to authorize the U.S. State Department to issue such Letters. See Dr. Paul’s Press Release at:
However, neither the Congress nor the White House–Democrat or Republican–has any intention of following the Constitution; therefore, Letters of Marque and Reprisal were never authorized. As a result, no authority has been granted to these mercenaries to wage war on behalf of anyone, especially not the people of the United States.
But what unauthorized mercenaries do accomplish is to fulfill the demands of internationalists and globalists to use unaccountable and uncontrolled (at least by normal military protocols) private armies for their own personal and nefarious purposes.
The next step for our politically correct “Global Force” is the authorization for homosexuals to serve openly in the US military. This has long been the goal of globalists, and it is now about to happen.
It was globalist President Bill Clinton who introduced the current “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy that allows homosexuals to serve in the US armed forces–but not openly. Of course, this was a major departure from US military history. From George Washington’s Continental army until the Clinton administration, homosexuality was deemed “incompatible” with military service. And now globalist Barack Obama is leading Congress to change the policy even further by allowing homosexuals to serve openly in the US military.
However, please consider this: if our governmental and military leaders would cover up the raping of American servicewomen by servicemen, don’t you know that they will cover up the raping of American servicemen by homosexual servicemen? Mark this down: mixing sex (heterosexual or homosexual) and military service is a recipe for disaster. And the potential damage inflicted upon military units (especially combat units) is exacerbated exponentially by the introduction of large numbers of homosexuals and women into those units. (This is the universal sentiment of virtually every active duty or retired serviceman I have ever spoken with.) But it does fit perfectly into the plans of the New World Order architects, who want to use the US military as much for the advancement of their politically correct agenda as they do for any actual military purpose.
Plus, dare I mention how that many violent gangs in North America are encouraging their members to join the US military in order to learn tactics and skills, which enable them to more effectively inflict their criminality upon the American people? Well, it’s true. And our military brass knows it’s true, and yet they still allow these thugs to enter our military. Hispanic gang members, especially, are entering the US military in droves.
According to a report in The American Conservative magazine, “[R]ecent figures indicate that gang membership in the Armed Forces significantly surpasses civilian levels. Stars and Stripes reported that 1 to 2 percent of the military are gang members, compared to 0.02 percent of the general population.”
See the report at:
No, ladies and gentlemen, it is not your father’s army. And, sadly, while many of our fine military leaders (not to mention many of our active duty soldiers, sailors, airmen, and Marines) see all of this taking place, they are practically powerless to stop it, because political correctness and globalism run rampant in Washington, D.C., including at the Pentagon.
Recently an African-American friend of mine asked me a rather strange question. “Do you know what really annoys me?” he asked. I don’t know, what? That Obama sold out healthcare? The high price of gold? My current bad hair day? Sarah Palin pretending to be a populist? What? “It’s the way that some African-American women just look at me like I was a piece of fresh meat.” Oh dear. Do we really want to go there?
“Sometimes you can just see their minds working. ‘If I can just convince him that I’m sexy, then he’ll want me for my body and if he wants me badly enough, then he’ll marry me and then we can have children.’ I call it ‘Motherhood Fever’. And it just drives me nuts.”
I can get behind that. Babies are totally cute — and for a very good reason. They are purposely made that way in order to preserve the species. If a baby is cute enough, then you will be more likely to put up with all that diaper-changing and incessant crying and having to walk the floor with them at night.
In fact, I’m even about to bounce up to the local maternity hospital and ask them if I can volunteer in the baby nursery there. Why not? I’m a world record-holder for getting a collicky baby to smile — two minutes or less! You got a collicky one-month-old? Call me! I’m there! But I digress.
“These time-ticking lady baby machines don’t even see me as a person,” continued my friend. “It’s enough to put one off of sex forever. Whenever I see one of those women coming in those tight spandex dresses that show everything, all I want to do is run!” I used to be that way. I used to equate sex with love. Back in the 1960s, almost every man in Berkeley wanted me because I was HOT. But none of them loved me for myself. But then finally it dawned on me. Men DO NOT equate sex with love. Except perhaps for Tiger Woods. I totally understand where these women are coming from. I used to be that way too.
“Will somebody PLEEZE up the supply of eligible Black men so I can just get on with my life!” sighed my friend.
Hey, that’s easy to do. Let’s stop putting so many African-American men in jail for crimes that don’t involve others (such as Lil’ Wayne being jailed for smoking pot and owning guns — where is the NRA when you really need it?) and spend all the tax money we save on better schools and more jobs. Problem solved.
And then I got to thinking about how my friend’s situation might also apply to the men of Afghanistan and Iraq. Perhaps as many as one million men have been killed over there in the last nine years, plus, to quote a recent article in Yahoo News, “Cancer is spreading like wildfire in Iraq…. The cancer rate in the province of Babil, south of Baghdad, has risen from 500 diagnosed cases in 2004 to 9,082 in 2009.” Just think about that.
What if the women of Iraq and Afghanistan are now developing “Motherhood Fever” too? Then the counterinsurgents will not only have to be out fighting off the U.S. military all the time, but also they will have to be spending every spare moment fighting off prospective brides as well. With all that cat-fighting going on, it’s becoming like an Afghan version of “The Bachelor”.
I got an answer to that problem too. Just ship all the excess women that have been created by “war” in the Middle East off to China. There’s a vast shortage of women in rural China I’ve been told. Arab women would be appreciated in rural China. And I bet that African-American women would be appreciated there too. Heck, ship me off there as well — but I would prefer not to marry a farmer. Plowing ruins the nails.
PS: I think that white American women probably also have the same problem as African-American and Arab women. Apparently the toll on the number of eligible white American males as a result of the “wars” in Iraq and Afghanistan has been fairly high too — much higher than we think. There are a lot less American men than there used to be due to all those unnecessary Bush-Obama administration “wars” in the Middle East. If you don’t just count the soldiers who have died in-country but also count in all those soldiers who died after being evacuated, all the military suicides, all the victims of Gulf War Syndrome, all the violent deaths of victims of returned soldiers with PTSD and all the soldiers who nobody would want to marry anyway because they have already died inside their minds after returning from the horrors of those wars, then you have a significantly lower number of eligible white American men for all America’s desperate “Bachelorettes”.
According to Army Times, “Americans should prepare to accept hundreds of U.S. casualties each month in Afghanistan during spring offensives with enemy forces.” Then they quote Gen. Barry McCaffrey, an adjunct professor of international affairs at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point as saying, “What I want to do is signal that this thing is going to be $5 billion to $10 billion a month and 300 to 500 killed and wounded a month by next summer. That’s what we probably should expect. And that’s light casualties,”
Long-time war correspondent Lori Gricker just published a book entitled, “Afterwar: Veterans From a World of Conflict”. In Chris Hedges’ review of Gricker’s book in the Los Angeles Times, he stated that, “Those who pay the price, those who are maimed forever by war, are shunted aside, crumpled up and thrown away. They are war’s refuse. We do not see them. We do not hear them…. The message they bring is too painful for us to hear.” But these huge numbers of American men who are no longer on the marriage market still exist.
“How many?” you might ask.
In 2007, blogger-activist Clive Boustred collected data from a Veterans Administration website and added up the figures. “On page 7 of the official VA report, the number of U.S. soldiers partaking in the illegal invasion of the Gulf is listed as 6,838,541 soldiers. Just below that the VA estimated number of living soldiers is listed at 4,525,865. In other words 2,312,676 US Gulf War Veterans are dead! Not many active duty soldiers serving from 1990 are likely to have died from old age or natural causes by April 2007. The report details deaths in various conflicts as reported to the VA by DoD, utterly contradicting the government and mainstream media number of 4,000 dead.”
With regard to the more recent Middle East “wars,” Boustred supplied the following information: “Total U.S. Military Gulf War Deaths: 73,846,” based on 17,847 deployed deaths and 55,999 non-deployed deaths. “Total number of disability claims filed: 1,620,906. Disability Claims amongst Deployed: 407,911. Total ‘Undiagnosed Illness’ (UDX) claims: 14,874. Disability Claims amongst Non-Deployed: 1,212,995.” And that number has probably risen considerably since 2007.
That’s a whole big bunch of non-eligible marriageable men!
According to journalist T. Christian Miller, there is also a big problem among contractors who worked abroad for such companies as Blackwater and KBR and came back disabled and maimed for life. Are they being counted too? Not according to Miller. In an article entitled, “Injured Abroad, Neglected at Home: Labor Dept. Slow to Help War Zone Contractors,” Miller stated that, “More than 1,600 civilian [contractors] have died and 37,000 have reported injuries.”
I myself wrote an article on the subject of injured returned contractors — regarding an acquaintance of mine named Dave Crow. Dave allegedly committed suicide after returning from Iraq, where he was exposed to toxic waste. Whether he killed himself or died some other way, Dave had become a “Dead Man Walking” from the moment he came home from Iraq. “I was only over there for four months,” he told me. “I was a truck driver for KBR. The money was good. But our camp was located over the site of a former depleted uranium dump and I got really sick. My body started just wasting away and now I’m weak, unhealthy, living in a trailer outside of San Diego and basically screwed up.” Our Dave is now dead. No wedding date for him.
PPS: in Argentina last month, I heard a lot of talk about the mistreatment of both soldiers and veterans of the Falkland Island wars. Apparently Argentina’s military dictatorship had wanted this war as a means of distracting people away from hatred of their totalitarian regime. So the dictatorship sent a bunch of ill-equipped and ill-trained young boys out to the Falklands in sub-zero-degree temperatures to die horrendous, painful and unnecessary deaths for no reason. These boys were not even given warm overcoats. Many — if not most — of them simply froze to death. Argentinians are still really pissed off about that — especially the women.
And if I was a young Afghan, Iraqi or American woman today, I would be pissed off too — and angry enough to put an end to all war!
PPS: If anyone knows how I could volunteer to help out in Haiti, please let me know. And if you want to make a donation, my friend Arla suggests this site:
Since its inception in March 2004, the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund (H.E.R.F.) has given concrete aid to Haiti’s grassroots democratic movement as they attempted to survive the brutal coup and to rebuild shattered development projects. We urge you to contribute generously, not only for this immediate crisis, but in order to support the long-run development of human rights, sustainable agriculture and economic justice in Haiti. ALL MONEY GOES DIRECTLY TO GRASS ROOTS ORGANIZATIONS.
There are two ways to donate: By Pay Pal at: < http://www.haitiaction.net/About/HERF/1_12_10.html>
or Mail — check made out to: “Haiti Emergency Relief Fund/EBSC”. Donations tax deductible. Send mail to:
East Bay Sanctuary Covenant
2362 Bancroft Way
Berkeley, CA 94704
EBSC is a non-profit 502(c)(3) organization tax ID#94-249753.
We will acknowledge all donations
Making the World Safe for American Domination…
In destructive economic systems, there is a feedback loop wherein it becomes self-confirming that greed and aggression lead to gains rather than acts that involve “playing by the rules”, sharing profits, cooperating and helping others to prosper. As activities on Wall Street and in transnational corporations confirm, successful players are expected to produce income by any means possible, pay workers as little as required, charge as much as can be obtained for products and always tap into new markets for an enlarged customer base. It, also, requires a perception to be created that some newly devised product is desirable and must replace the older versions for which there is often built-in obsolescence.
In any case, new markets must always be found in order to raise financial yields. Any corporate manager who did not strive to develop them would quickly find himself in an unemployment office in addition to his being blacklisted by former colleagues.
Moreover, new stocks of resources, the raw materials from which products are made, must be tapped for global industries regardless of whether the people in the regions supplying these stores want to share them or not. In a similar vein, large scale commercial operations heavily rely on fossil fuels in the obtainment of raw resources, haulage of them to manufacturing sites, production of finished products and transportation of merchandise to market. So a steady source of petroleum must, also, be guaranteed.
This entire process, therefore, requires government leaders in support of their countries’ industries to wrestle control of needed goods. Simultaneously, they have to convince the public that there are solid reasons to carry out assaults in resource rich regions of the world — places like the Caspian Sea, with its oil estimates ranging up to about 200 billion barrels or 15% of total world reserves. Add to this treasure the fact that the Caspian Sea, also, is believed to contain 4% of the world’s proven reserves of gas according to the Congressional Research Service, an organization supplying bipartisan information to Congress, in its report titled “Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects”.
Indeed, its author Bernard A. Gelb, a specialist in industry economics, states: “There is a likelihood of relatively large reserves of crude oil and natural gas in the Caspian Sea region, and a consequent large increase in oil and natural gas production from that area. Because diversity of energy sources and energy security are considerations in Congressional deliberations on energy policy, this prospect could play a role in such discussions. However, there are obstacles to increases in Caspian Sea region production of oil and gas [such as Russia's and Iran's unwillingness to hand Caspian Sea resources over to U.S. control] that may slow development.” He goes on to add: “However, Iran now can compete somewhat with the BTC pipeline through oil “swaps” that ultimately divert Caspian region oil away from Western, including U.S., markets. Iran has enlarged its tanker terminal at Neka on the Caspian Sea coast, enhancing its capacity to deliver Caspian oil to refineries for local consumption, with an equivalent amount of Iranian oil exported through Persian Gulf terminals.” 
Put alternately, uncooperative countries, such as Iran and Venezuela, with assets coveted by western corporations give the perfect excuse to western governments to demonize them, threaten them and seek out destabilization of their regimes. All the same, the maligned nations will not let their reserves be plundered whether bullied or not by outside groups willing to use any means possible to obtain their prizes.
Further, full government support of corporate goals is nearly always available. After all, members of Congress want huge donations for reelection campaigns.
At the same time, it becomes quickly clear about whose interests they, ultimately, serve (rather than the public’s) when government officials’ desire for these contributions, lucrative future jobs after exiting public service and maximization of personal profits from their financial holdings are added into the mix. Indeed, “members of Congress invested nearly 196 million dollars of their own money in business that receive hundreds of millions of dollars a day from Pentagon”.  So taken all together, these conditions provide plenty of motivation to keep the nation’s war drums beating.
Therefore, wars are big business, most notably for investors and employees in the aerospace and defense industries. The related purposes, like the ones guiding most corporations, are hardly humanistic. Instead new sources of revenue, cheap resources from conquered lands, and new markets for products and services are the sine qua non.
Accordingly, the Pentagon and the corporations that supplies goods and manpower for wars have one general intention in mind and that is not even to win wars. Winning wars would mean that money-spinning contracts and growth of the organizations’ national and global influence would shrink. Jobs, then, would disappear, high salaries would not be commanded and gargantuan earnings would cut back if wars were, actually, won and, thus, completed.
Instead, the intention is to strengthen control of regions and their resources, open up new markets for one’s own country’s products, continually advance into new territories to create the same outcome and, eventually, dictate assorted policies across the entire world. Consequently, the U.S.A., despite having a $12T federal deficit, aims to advance its ongoing plans to have full-spectrum dominance over the economies, territories, politics, military affairs and other entire governments on a full global scale and in support of American enterprises.
It, also, means that an all-out attempt to quell the Taliban will take place since Afghanistan and Pakistan are both needed to move the fossil fuels to emerging markets and ensure that central Asian economies are tied to U.S. corporate interests rather than those of Russia and China. On account, it is critical that both latter nations be blocked if western dominion over Asian markets for obtainment of raw resources and sales of final products, i.e., fossil fuels, are to result.
In the same vein, American citizens are not much of a consideration. After all, markets and remuneration for oil and other supplies might be superlative in India, China or other lands with advancing economies and plenty of money to spare. As such, concern over protection of us from terrorists (the latest justification for carrying out assaults abroad in lands like Yemen) and any desire to improve the lives of peoples in the U.S. or developing countries are minor considerations at best. Instead, it is far more on the mark to ask, as did Woodrow Wilson: “Is there any man, is there any woman, let me say any child here that does not know that the seed of war in the modern world is industrial and commercial rivalry?”
So one winds up wondering whether a moment will ever arrive in which the public can, actually, identify this origin for wars and rise up in resistance to such a degenerate state of affairs. As an alternative, the populace can continue to equate support of war with a patriotic spirit, enthusiastically wave flags every time that there’s a parade with tanks and other weaponry, and endorse far-away assaults with hardly a dissenting murmur. Meanwhile war activities, themselves, increasingly bankrupt the country morally and financially.
As such, it is useful to bear in mind that warfare almost exclusively concerns resources and trade except for religious rivalries and the small scale fighting of feudal lords. With the desire to gain ever greater advantages for oneself and one’s own group by taking these away from other subjugated groups, campaigns have always been perpetuated under false pretexts, especially so when energy supplies are involved.
It follows, then, that any politician not exhibiting Woodrow Wilson’s stark honesty on this point is both a liar and a propagandist with the ulterior motive to control public perception so there is advancement of war. This understanding, if nothing else, should be absolutely clear.
At the same time, the use of contractors all but guarantees that the sort of public backlash that occurred from so many troops having been killed and injured in Vietnam will not be repeated. If there exists no mandatory conscription due to freelancers being used, American citizens will feel less threatened by war even though they are paying an exorbitant amount for it and for the aid to far-away lands that the U.S. government wants to influence through bribes.
And the bribes keep coming. For example, a record State Department and foreign aid budget, amounting $49 billion, cleared the House last summer.
So is it surprising that some Americans are furious that universal single-payer healthcare, infrastructure repairs, WPA-style jobs and budget relief for insolvent States in the union aren’t adequately provided? Is it flabbergasting that they are outraged over Israel receiving $2.4B in foreign aid (ostensibly used to buy weapons primarily manufactured by U.S. companies) in 2008 with an additional $30B promised over the next 10 years period? Should there be annoyance that many other countries receiving aid, i.e., Egypt ($1.7B in 2008), have the funds slated to purchase armaments ($1.3B of that Egyptian total) and have less than sterling human rights records? In any case, USAID’s total assets amounted to $26.1 billion as of September 2009. This huge amount will, certainly, help guarantee that many U.S. agendas abroad will be heartily followed by others.
Moving to become a largely authoritarian militaristic state – the U.S.A. shows little self-constraint as it forces its will, through a combination of buy-offs and assaults, wherever and however it pleases upon the rest of the world. As a result, it has to create a positive perception and ever larger gifts of money to acquire allies, certainly, fit the bill.
In addition, Americans no longer getting riled up because their sons were conscripted through a mandatory recruitment system, also, does so. Instead of a draft, the Pentagon will authorize, according to the Congressional Research Service, between 26,000 to 56,000 additional battlefield contractors in Afghanistan, which would total as a force between 130,000 to 160,000, or very nearly two for every single troop despite the added 30,000 troops recently authorized to ship off to Afghanistan.
In other words, outsourced war, while terribly expensive for taxpayers, seems the wave of the future as it doesn’t foment comprehensive anti-war activism. As such, the act of killing will increasingly become a large scale, lucrative industry supported by U.S. taxes and overseas loans (most notably from China). So if any unemployed American wants a job, all that he needs to follow is the money, which is increasing going into U.S. invasions largely carried out by private mercenaries. Besides, he has many options if he doesn’t want to become an outworker.
For instance, he could join the armed forces, which offer plenty of opportunities for work since the U.S. government currently has over 1,000 military bases spread out across the world and roughly the same number on U.S. soil. He’d, also, have plenty of company as there, presently, exist 1,445,000 active-duty armed service members, 800,000 DOD civilian employees and 1.2 million National Guards, along with other reservists who are periodically tapped for Middle East ventures.
This vast setup translates to the U.S., with only 4% of the world’s population, allocating more than $711B annually in military spending, which obviously burdens the taxpayer and removes funds from other programs that would, actually, serve human welfare at home and abroad. In addition, arrangement, obviously, does not lead to global security, nor the alleviation of poverty. If there is any doubt on these points, ask any Iraqi or Afghani his assessment.
Instead regions are destabilized, and the social and material structures that previously had contributed to human benefits largely are blown to smithereens. Even so, fighting insurgents, at least for the U.S.A., will continue to be a mainstay of foreign policy, as well as the U.S. economy, itself. All in all, the following facts well lay out the course that, instead of heavy reliance on diplomacy, the U.S. leadership has chosen:
- “US military spending accounts for 48 percent, or almost half, of the world’s total military spending
- US military spending is more than the next 46 highest spending countries in the world combined
- US military spending is 5.8 times more than China, 10.2 times more than Russia, and 98.6 times more than Iran.
- US military spending is almost 55 times the spending on the six “rogue” states (Cuba, Iran, Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria) whose spending amounts to around $13 billion, maximum. (Tabulated data does not include four of the six, as the data only lists nations that have spent over 1 billion in the year, so their budget is assumed to be $1 billion each)
- US spending is more than the combined spending of the next 45 countries.
- The United States and its strongest allies (the NATO countries, Japan, South Korea and Australia) spend $1.1 trillion on their militaries combined, representing 72 percent of the world’s total.
- The six potential “enemies,” Russia, and China together account for about $205 billion or 29% of the US military budget.”
“[T]he lion’s share of this money is not spent by the Pentagon on protecting American citizens. It goes to supporting U.S. military activities, including interventions, throughout the world. Were this budget and the organization it finances called the ‘Military Department,’ then attitudes might be quite different. Americans are willing to pay for defense, but they would probably be much less willing to spend billions of dollars if the money were labeled ‘Foreign Military Operations.’” 
In any case, anyone choosing to enter military service should keep in mind that contracting companies often show little loyalty to U.S. troops, nor a sense of responsibility for their actions when involving civilians of war torn countries. This lapse in accountability is clearly demonstrated by the shootings and the recent dismissal of charges against five Blackwater Worldwide security guards for civilian deaths in Iraq. 
So instead, there increasingly exist situations in which depraved indifference to life is exhibited. One of many such circumstances is this one describing KBR’s seemingly deliberate neglect to inform in a timely fashion about troop exposure to a highly poisonous chemical, sodium dichromate, at a site in Iraq overseen by KBR. In addition, KBR is fighting a reparatory lawsuit related to the incident. After all, any deserved payout for damage and death is to be avoided at all costs as remuneration would, absolutely, impact company earnings.
Concerning the event: “What upsets some of the Guardsmen most of all is that, after serving their country faithfully, they believe the Army and KBR let them down by not fully acknowledging or investigating their exposure to the toxic chemical or their serious health problems. Some suffered for years and only recently have a possible explanation why.” “[Sodium dichromate] had been used by Iraqi workers prior to the war to prevent corrosion in the pipes at the plant. There were hundreds of bags at the chemical at the plant, some of them clearly labeled.
“The mission’s official military name was Task Force RIO (‘Restoration of Iraqi Oil’). KBR got the contract.
“Six years later, some of the Guardsmen assigned to provide security for Task Force RIO at the plant are dead, dying or suffering from serious health problems–including rashes, perforated septums and lung disease. One of the foremost experts in sodium dichromate, Dr. Herman Gibb, says the Guardsmen’s symptoms are consistent with ‘significant exposure’ to the chemical.
“KBR argues that the company is not to blame. The company says it told the Army about the dangerous chemical as soon as it was identified at the plant. That, the company says, was on July 25, 2003.
“But, international KBR documents contradict that claim, and indicate that the company became aware of the chemical at the site two months earlier.” 
Of course, one cannot expect mercenaries and outside contractors operating in war zones to care much about the lives of troops or others. After all, their main loyalty is not to the U.S. military, nor the U.S.A. as a whole, but to the companies that hired them and through which they are being paid to do whatever they are told.
Ben Heine/ MWC NEWS (http://www.mwcnews.net)
Aside from war zone contracting firms, many other transnational consortiums are doing equally well during the economic downturn, as the multimillion dollar bonuses given to management of these power houses continually remind. One such company is McDonald’s. In fact, its balance sheet even indicates that it has been wildly prospering since the recession worsened.
With always more deforested land available around the globe, impoverished peoples looking to make a fast buck are more and more turning to cattle ranching and soy farming for animal feed. So therein lies plenty of breaks for McDonald’s.
Not having to subsume the environmental costs for its policies, it and several other fast food syndicates are cornering the market in sales for families wanting to eat out, but without the funds to dine at more costly eateries. So for the first quarter of 2009, sales went up and earned an impressive $979.5 million, a nearly 4% increase. The rest of the year followed suit despite fears that a strengthening dollar might lower gains due to the exchange rate for other currencies collected at overseas’ sites.
However, the company’s management in Oak Brook, Ill really needn’t have worried. After all, there are over 31,000 restaurants worldwide, with more than 1.5 million workers operating in 119 countries on six continents with over 47 million daily customers. So major losses would hardly be in the picture given that the majority of people around the world are now struggling to make ends meet.
At the same time, these stats are bound to change for the better when even more populations are inundated by American armed forces bent on subduing them, inadvertently destroying local businesses and creating opportunities for ever more McDonald’s workers forced to accept minimum wages as an alternative to no job in their newly destroyed lands. Like their impoverished American counterparts, who’ve been stripped of good jobs with decent wages in the mad rush towards globalized industry, they too can find the satisfaction of a secure employment position with a low salary and, at the end of a weary day, a happy meal as an extra perk.
As McDonald’s leadership surely must know, bringing “democracy” to developing nations, eventually, has a big payoff for American businesses focused on wiping out the small scale competition like Mom and Pop restaurants overseas. If one can endure patient waiting, the further openings will be a veritable whopper. It’s just a matter of time.
In the end, wars are successful commercial enterprises. As a result, they are, progressively, becoming the foundation for the new American economy. Especially this is so as former jobs are not coming back to the American shores in that it’s cheaper for transnational companies to outsource and offshore work.
In relation, the Second World War not only jump-started the American economy in the aftermath of the Great Depression, it provided lots of employment prospects for many subsequent years on account of the need to rebuild across whole continents and in their devastated cities like London, Dresden, Mukden (now Shenyang) and Ningbo. This is not the case this time around due to the heavy reliance on outside contractors, who more often than not don’t reconstruct much well at all, as the U.S. soldier electrocutions on a base in Baghdad and the Task Force RIO poisonings clearly demonstrate. In other words, they often are potentially dangerous and largely useless.
This all in mind, any financial and other benefits from warfare will not uplift Main Street. Instead, they increasingly will serve the special interests of corporations. As such, the economic downturn will continue to deepen throughout the U.S.A. while thousands of foreigners in assault zones are maimed and murdered.
Consequently, all that we can hope is that Russia and China will persist in making improvements in their own nations and the lives of their citizens. It’s obvious that, if they were to mimic America’s squandering of money in ever enlarging wars, the outcome wouldn’t be good at all.
 ”Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects”, CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web, Bernard A. Gelb; Resources, Science, and Industry Division at Caspian Oil and Gas: Production and Prospects [http://italy.usembassy.gov/pdf/other/RS21190.pdf].
 ”In Context: US Military Spending Versus Rest of the World” and “The Billions for ‘Defense’ Jeopardize Our Safety”, Center For Defense Information at World Military Spending — Global Issues [http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending].
A message repeatedly making the rounds on the Internet shows a picture of an American airman, John Gebhardt, holding an injured Iraqi child on his lap and the accompanying text explains about his sympathetic provision of comfort to her and others.  In addition, the reason that it is all the rage, especially amongst neoconservatives, is that the senders can, in their minds, use the depiction to “prove” that U.S. military personnel undeniably have magnanimous intentions. Subsequently, the message indirectly substantiates their position that U.S. armed forces are overseas fighting wars solely to improve the lives of foreigners and protect American freedoms at home.
Yes, it is touching to see a kindly man reassure a youngster, but the scene and its description in no way verify anything altruistic about American motives in the Middle East. Indeed, both could serve to remind that the wounded child would not have been hurt with which to begin had U.S. warmongers not chosen Iraq as a site for a comprehensive invasion, one that should never have been initiated in the first place. They, also, stand in stark contrast to other renditions of U.S. troop actions, which run the gamut from selflessly heroic to atrociously horrific.
For example, one graphic and disturbing image sums up the violence that is always at the heart of war. Titled “American Soldier showing a severed Iraqi arm hung in a mosque to terrorize the Iraqi resistance”, it portrays a gloating American youth in fatigues flaunting his prize.  The spoils of the hunt, his gruesome human arm, was hung against the wall of a house of worship like a rancid slab of meat.
In response to seeing the shot, I could not resist imagining an invading force coming to the U.S.A. to topple our government and gain control of our oil reserves. As such, I pictured that same mangled limb as the remains of an American resistance fighter, one’s neighbor perhaps, strung up at the doorway of a town’s church or synagogue.
Concurrently, I could conjure up the way that Americans would regard the foreign attackers were they forced to prostitute their children to mercenaries, ones like the Blackwater’s warriors paid by the invading forces’ government, in order to provide food for their families.  Similarly, I could imagine the way that U.S. citizens would think about citizens of the invading country, so ‘cozy’ in their own lives, while their own homes, jobs sites, electricity plants, water supplies, schools, hospitals, transportation routes and other critical parts of their lives were blown up and contaminated with toxins, such as depleted uranium delivered from assorted types of projectiles.
Of course, government leaders can convincingly state anything that they want as justification for offensive raids into foreign lands. They can mention the need to destroy weapons of mass destruction (that will never be found) through the use of one’s own weapons of mass destruction, the desire to bring democracy to backwards peoples, the obligation to protect far-away populations from dangerous terrorists, the Orwellian wish to bring peace through war or any number of other outlandish excuses.
Simultaneously, they can give glorious pro-war speeches filled with half truths like Barack Obama’s address at West Point aimed at gaining support for war expansion. (In connection, it is useful to remember Adolf Hitler once stating: “Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.”)
Yet propagandistic talks, regardless of whether they are sincerely stated or even believed, can never undercut the facts as spelled out by Admiral Gene LaRocque: “I hate it when they say, ‘He gave his life for his country.’ Nobody gives their life for anything. We steal the lives of these kids. We take it away from them. They don’t die for the honor and glory of their country. We kill them.”  Yes, we kill them in the bid to gain geopolitical control of energy stores and pipeline corridors that deliver the supplies, and we slaughter again and again ever more innocent civilians in the process.
In times to come, finite resources, such as uranium and fossil fuels, will be increasingly used up. Countries that either harbor the remaining supplies or that are en route for their delivery will be posed as hostile and dangerous to Western interests if they do not cave in to Western demands. Accordingly, various bogus reasons will again be fabricated as justifications for invading them and the affiliated costs will again be subsumed by the invading countries’ citizens despite the result as is spelled out by Abraham Flexner: “Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both.” 
No, indeed, we can’t have both. We simply cannot afford the social, environmental and financial price tag. At the same time, we cannot afford the lost funding for essential programs like universal health-care provision and infrastructure repairs at home. Similarly, we cannot bear the added costs to rebuild whole nations after devastating their landscapes. After war expenditures, there’s just not enough money to spare for much else.
Moreover, we cannot accept the untimely deaths in the hundreds upon hundreds of thousands. They weigh too heavily on the national conscience — that is if one can even exist after so much unbridled wanton carnage.
At the same time, we cannot cope with the nearly permanent poison spreading across the Earth and its waterways from DU tipped weapons. Likewise, we cannot contend with the poisoning of more and more minds of warfare victims who turn into dedicated terrorists as payback.
Besides, why should we be forced to support greedy war profiteers such as are found at Halliburton KBR, Xe, Exxon Mobil and drug cartels, who get kickbacks to leave our troops alone? Why should we be expected to subsume the overall high outlay, such as the recent U.S. $636 billion military spending bill demands, on top of crippling deficits, such as the U.S. public debt that is quickly soaring towards $13 trillion?
Frankly, we can’t afford to destroy region after region while terrorizing their civilians in a bid to put puppet governments in place whose despots will sell off their land’s resources to the highest bidders. Certainly, we cannot, with any scruples involved, use these destroyed places’ petroleum products to fuel further armed invasions in a bid to secure further resources for western corporate, rather than Russian and Chinese, interests.
In short, we absolutely cannot expend lavish amounts on wars — period. We cannot for the sake of the people harmed and killed, we cannot for the sake of the environment, and we cannot when Americans are starving and jobless on homeland soil.
Clearly, employment opportunities could be generated by shifting war funds into creation of work supporting provision of alternative energy as a substitute for fossil fuels. Wouldn’t that be far better than the current expansion of wars in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and other strategic locations? Isn’t it a constructive alternative to building huge bases in countries that abut oil rich Iran and Venezuela?
As long as the response to such questions is always “no”, we can expect ever larger and more greatly drawn out wars. We can anticipate that fossil fuels used in such fights will disappear more rapidly than otherwise would occur. Eventually, we can, also, be assured that the ongoing reckless military rampage will lead to a third world war if Russian or Chinese leaders, finally, reach a limit to the threats that can be endured from western imperial hubris.
In fact, how can anyone anywhere embrace an increasingly extensive war trajectory? If the answer to such an enquiry seems ambiguous at best, it, without a doubt, will become patently clear quite soon enough.
I’ve been receiving a lot of e-mails lately, asking me why I’m always hatin’ so much on poor Israel. “Its leaders are only trying to do their job and keep their country safe — but you just keep picking on them.” And I’ve even begun to wonder about this myself. Geez Louise. What if I really am becoming anti-Semitic? I sincerely hope not…but maybe? And then yesterday I read an article by Ira Chernus that put everything back into perspective for me (Thank you, Ira!)
I’m not being anti-Israeli. I’m being anti-American! Whew.
Churnus pointed out that when Israel was formed, the Zionists only wanted their own nation, just like almost every other ethnic or linguistic group in the world had their own nation too. “The early Zionists,” wrote Churnus, “assumed what all Europeans of their day assumed: Every nation-state is the political expression of a specific ethnic group — France for the French, China for the Chinese, etc. In their day that was not considered racism. It was just common sense. So they concluded that the Jews would be normal only when they had their own nation-state, with Jewish prostitutes, Jewish pimps and Jewish police to arrest them (or take bribes to look the other way). For most of these early Zionists, the important point was not morality but nationalism. They wanted all the roles in their new society, moral or immoral, to be played by Jews.”
And for Israel to be a normal nation like almost every other nation in the world, it thought that it had to play hardball too. “After all,” Churnus continued, “what does it mean to be ‘normal’ in the world of modern nation-states, all modeled on the states of Western Europe and North America? It means not merely to have cops and criminals but to have governments that get the most power they can, by any means necessary…. Normal governments in the modern world use their power for lots of reasons, but ultimately it’s always about extending their control over both their own people and others.”
Okay. I got it. Israel is only trying to be America’s “Mini-Me”. And they are succeeding, too. And, therefore, I am always picking on Israel for the same reason that I’m always picking on Washington. Hey, I’m not anti-Semitic. I’m anti-WAR!
For instance, America gives Israel seven million dollars a DAY, earmarked solely to be spent on weapons and military solutions to its problems with the Palestinians. If you assume that there are approximately 1.5 million Arab and Christian Palestinians living in an area that even Ben Gurion himself referred to as “Palestine,” then that comes out to approximately 4.66 American dollars per Palestinian that are currently being spent on bombs, white phosphorus, bullets, tear gas, etc. $4.66. Every single day. For every single man, woman and child in the Occupied Territories. (So much for Palestinian “Natural Growth”).
But for convenience’s sake, let’s round that $4.66 up and make it five dollars a day.
So. What can we safely say is the current American and Israel policy toward Gaza and the West Bank right now? “Palestine on $5 a day”! Spending that much money on weapons aimed at a mostly-civilian population, 52% of whom are under the age of 18, is like shooting fish in a barrel — only these are human beings being destroyed, not sardines.
But let’s pull back a little bit here and look at this from Israel’s perspective. They want to be a nation-state? They want to be America’s “Mini-Me”? Well, then, just look at their role model. According to The American Prospect, “The U.S. defense budget for 2009 is $655 billion.” Assuming there are six billion people living on the planet right now, that comes out to $109.66 dollars per DAY that America is spending for every man, woman and child on the planet — spending it on ICBMs, tanks, cluster bombs, white phosphorus, nuclear warheads, pre-imptive strikes, riot gear, tear gas, and other things that go bump in the night. You name it. If it destroys human flesh, we got it!
“The World on $110 dollars a day”!
So now, thanks to Ira Churnus, I have finally come to terms with my issues about Israel. It just wants to be like its Big Brother. However. If spending just $5 a day per person in Palestine has turned Palestine into a grim open-air concentration camp and killing field, then just imagine what spending $110 a day per person would do right here in America!
Yep. I am DEFINITELY anti-war.
PS: I just got another e-mail from a Marine mom who is keeping me informed about what’s happening in Afghanistan. “Well, I guess we can pretty much see why we are building that huge permanent Camp Leatherneck,” she wrote. “You ought to go there and see it being built! Marines in tents, and Seabees building the largest structure since WWII!!!” It sounds like we are in Afghanistan to stay.
“Gen. McChrystal and Marine Brig. Gen. Larry Nicholson saying we are there to secure civilians from the Taliban. But that could be done with the Ugandan guards such they had at Al Asad airbase in Iraq. Just send some Ugandan guards to the villages, with some of those Afghan forces we have been busy training for the last eight years. I have great faith they will secure the villages. Marines should be only used to fight a war, not for occupation or to ‘secure’ villages.” Yeah. We need to keep our Marines fresh and ready so that if we ever really need them to defend us here at home, they can do it — and won’t be all wasted after spending years out in the middle of nowhere, defending some corporate CEO’s wet-dream of owning the Silk Road.
PPS: The business section of Bloomberg has just announced that DynCorp and Fluor just won five-year contracts serving our troops in Afghanistan. These contracts are “worth as much as $7.5 billion…. DynCorp will take over services KBR provided for tasks such as laundry, food services and maintenance for existing base camps in southern Afghanistan. It also will build new bases as needed to accommodate an increase to about 68,000 troops from about 57,000 today. Fluor will take over similar services in northern Afghanistan.”
Why in the world would global corporations like DynCorp and Fluor even think about wanting the war in Afghanistan to ever come to an end!
PPPS: People also keep reminding me about all the wonderful things Israel has achieved in academic and scientific fields. According to them, Israel has probably even invented the wheel! I’m not arguing with that. Go them! They are also America’s “Mini-Me” in that respect. America has achieved many amazingly wonderful things too. In that regard, I am proud of my country — and proud of Israel as well.
The part of the American nation-state that I am NOT proud of, however, is the part that killed approximately one million Iraqis — after Bush and & Cheney deliberately falsified critical information justifying Shock and Awe. And the part of the Israeli nation-state that I’m not proud of either is the part that has caused the deaths of approximately one million Palestinian civilians since 1948, including victims of various ethnic cleansing campaigns, the carpet-bombing of Gaza City, the violent attacks on Hebron, Nablus, Bethlehem and Jenin, and lack of access to food, water, jobs and medical care.
America and Israel should stick to trying to find cures for cancer, solving global warming and stuff like that — then they both can evolve away from being just your typical run-of-the-mill, been-there-done-that, Banana Republic nation-state and become IDEAL nation-states. Why settle for less?
Last June, I attended the 2007 Book Expo in New York City and when I walked into the gigantic Jacob Javits Center, all I could see was oceans of books. There were 5,000 booths and each booth had a publisher and each publisher was just dying to give me a free book. It was Heaven! And along with the 30 or 40 other books that I scored from various publishers, I also received a copy of Cyan Press’s new book, “High Tea in Mosul”.
Unfortunately, however, I didn’t get around to reading “High Tea” until I got to Iraq last week and now I’m still not going to finish it because at least ten people here on the Marine base have asked me if they could read it so I’m leaving it behind when I go. But I thought I’d give you some quotes before I pass the book on and go off to catch my flight back to Kuwait this afternoon. Inshallah. I missed the flight yesterday because a sandstorm was brewing. But hopefully I will fly out today.
“On May 16 ,” said the book, “five days after landing in Baghdad and without any apparent attempt at wide-ranging consultation on what such sweeping moves [such as dissolving the Iraqi army, sacking most senior civil servants and curtailing moves toward the creation of an interim domestic government] might have on the social landscape, Bremer transformed Iraqis from friends-in-waiting to resentful foes. Suddenly hundreds of thousands of people were without work and income.”
Did Bremer do this deliberately in order to promote chaos in Iraq — following the Bush-Cheney neo-con plan that Naomi Klein labeled “Disaster Capitalism” wherein super-profits are made for a few top dogs as a result of the mega-disasters suffered by the rest of us? Or was Bremer just stupid?
“Jane, you think too much,” said my conscience. “You are in way over your head here, trying to figure out what all the good guys and bad guys are up to — and trying to figure out which is which. You just need to chill out and go back to California.” Hey, I been trying! But that sandstorm canceled my flight yesterday and today I actually made it as far as the airfield before they told me that THIS flight was canceled too because some stupid bird had just flown at our plane and punched a hole in the tail. That’s war for you. War is hell.
“But Jane, you are the one who is always saying that what is happening now in Iraq isn’t a ‘war’.” Okay then, if it’s not a ‘war’ then what is it? “In Iraq, we appear to be witnessing the deliberate creation of chaos by all those who benefit from chaos.”
I’m tired of chaos. I don’t do well with chaos. I want peace and quiet. Fortunately, there is a lot of that in Al Anbar province. But what about Baghdad and Mosul and Basra? Who is benefiting from creating chaos there? I’m not really sure. But I’m definitely here to tell you that the Average American is NOT.
“We are going to have to get out of Iraq,” I preached to a KBR contractor sitting next to me in the giant Quonset hut that passes for an air terminal at Al Asad, “because America simply cannot afford to stay here any more.”
“Heck, no,” he replied. “In another two or three years, the oil here will start to pay for everything America has spent on the war.” Everything? Really? THIS is the plan?
Then we trudged off back to the airbase to spend the night while the bird-hole in the airplane got repaired. But I couldn’t sleep. I just kept thinking about farmers — no, not the winner of the “Farmer Wants a Wife” reality show. I got to thinking about Iraqi farmers.
By 5 am, I was all ready to jump up and go track down and interview some Iraqi farmers. Everyone here has read Steinbeck’s book entitled “The Grapes of Wrath,” about the terrible dust storms in Oklahoma and Arkansas during the Great Depression — it’s required reading in high school. So. Is farming in Iraq like that too? A dust bowl where you either dig in and stay by the skin of your teeth or, like the Joad family, move somewhere else?
My great-grandfather on my father’s side was a deputy US Marshall at Talequa, Oklahoma. My grandfather was an itinerant sharecropper who moved west around 1910. I can relate to farmers! But where am I going to find an Iraqi farmer who speaks English on a Marine airbase out in the middle of nowhere at 5 am?
When people here refer to sandstorms, their terminology is wrong. It’s not sand in the air. It’s dust. A sandstorm here basically looks like very thick smog. As I flew into Kuwait last week, the whole country looked like China had — covered with smog. But it wasn’t smog. It was dust. Billions and billions and billions of particles of dust. It reminded me of Oklahoma in the 1930s.
If I ever get a flight out of this dust bowl, I’m going to go off to this year’s Book Expo being held in Los Angeles on May 29. And I’m going to get another three tons of free books. But if I can’t get a flight out of here and am stuck in Anbar province forever? Not to worry. I’ve got a mission. I’ve got a goal. I’m going to go out and interview farmers. “What would you do if you had unlimited water?” I’d ask. Because, in the end, after everything is said and done, if you are an Iraqi, water is life. Water is even more precious than oil.
PS: I am not totally without resources here regarding information about farmers. By 7 am, I had managed to track down an actual expert on Iraqi dirt — in the airbase’s dining facility, eating boiled eggs and Froot Loops. The man actually had a PhD on the subject of Iraqi soil.
“Here in Iraq,” said the expert, “they have had a wind erosion problem since they created this desert. I’ve seen too many water patterns created by rivers and streams to think that this area has always been a desert. Geological formations indicate it was once pretty good land.”
“Really? So it wasn’t always like this? When did it start to change?”
“I don’t know exactly but would say probably several thousand years ago.”
“Do you think they could ever get it restored?”
“It will never change back the way it was completely,” replied the expert, “but there is a lot they can do to manage resources here that will really help improve the current situation. First, we need to deal with the way that the nomads graze their sheep. We have several million sheep here in Anbar right now and their ability to de-nude the landscape is remarkable. And they come down into the valleys at night and eat farmers’ crops as well. And if you notice on the banks of the river here, the riverian area — the green part that usually covers the area near river banks — it has been totally eaten away.”
“Holy sheep dookie!” I said to myself. “Have there always been this many sheep around here?”
“No, actually, we are currently down from five million sheep because we are going through a famine here right now because they have missed their usual seasonal rains.”
“Is this because of global warming?”
“I don’t think so. This sort of drought has also occasionally happened in the past as well.”
“So do you think that what is happening here is analogous to the dust bowls of the 1930s in Oklahoma and Arkansas back in the States?” The expert nods his head. “And so are the farmers leaving the land here like they did in Oklahoma — or are they staying around and toughing it out, do you think?”
“Many people in this area have already left. They are the richer ones, the ones who can afford to leave. But the poor ones are pretty much stuck here. They are staying. They can’t afford to go anyplace else.”
“And how do the Iraqi farmers feel about the Americans?” I asked. This man had been out talking to Iraqi farmers. He would know.
“They see the Americans as the Great Occupiers. But if you believe what they say, the Iraqis still want the Americans to stay here from a safety standpoint and because the Americans are generous. The Iraqis want their money.”
“Where do the farmers get their water?” I asked.
“Out of the river or out of canals. They have small gas engines that pump the water. It’s pretty much a hand operation. They grow a lot of vegetables — cucumbers and tomatoes. But these are for local consumption. They don’t usually even sell them in Haditha or Hit, let alone send them to Baghdad. Even sending them as far as Hit is too far.” What? No Saturday morning farmers markets? Now there’s a project I could work on. Are these tomatoes organic?
“The farming patterns here have changed in the last few years,” commented the expert. “Farmers today only farm half the land that they did ten years ago. They farm only along the river, not further out toward the desert. Those who can have already left. And then there’s the death tolls.” What death tolls? But the expert had gotten up to get a cup of coffee and when he got back, I forgot to ask.
“The one thing that’s never been broken in this country,” continued the expert, “is Baghdad’s ability to get food out to the people — even the farmers. Rice and lentils. No one has gone completely hungry. But farmers still grow crops to supplement their diet and income. And the war — the actual shooting part of the war — has greatly effected farming and farm life.
“So. What happens next?” I asked. “Is the next generation here planning to continue staying down on the farm?”
“Frankly, most of them would rather be in the Iraqi police force or join the Iraqi army. Farming is hard — especially when you have to do it with sticks.”
“Hoes, shovels, picks. They don’t have plows or plow animals here — and definitely not tractors. In fact, they farm more poorly now than they did here in Roman times or the Mesopotamians did. They actually knew how to farm better back then.”
“There are several reasons. Firs it the problem of salinization. Next there is the war, an obvious disruption of supplies and security. And, third, farmers often lack the will to make things better.”
“Do you see any hope on the horizon for the farmers of Anbar province?”
“Well, this country does have the money. But whether they are willing to do this in a proper manner that will build character and integrity is yet to be seen. And the farmers need tractors, solar pumps, proper sheep management and salinity testing.”
“Which is what?”
Using electro-magnetic equipment to test the salinity of the soil and to set up a de-salinization process. It can be done. They did it in the Imperial Valley in California. There is an accumulation of salt in the soil here that is a result of the 140-180 surface inches of evaporation, leaving salt behind in the soil.”
Then we finished eating our breakfast and I thanked the expert for his time. He had answered my main question. Yes, the situation here in Iraq is very much like the situation in Oklahoma in the 1930s. But will the Iraqi farmers also get a new deal? That remains to be seen. And will this fabulous late-breaking scoop about Iraqi farmers of Anbar win me a Pulitzer and make the editors of the New York Times turn green with envy? That too remains to be seen.
Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: email@example.com
FAQ: “How long does it take to fly from Kuwait to Anbar province, in western Iraq?” If you fly in a C-17, it takes about an hour. The C-17 is a huge no-frills military troop transport jet that looks like the Bat Cave inside. All the plane’s freight cargo and everybody’s luggage sit right in there next to you, lined up on pallets, and you yourself have the choice of sitting in regular airline seats or sitting in lawn chairs. And there are no stewardesses, no inflight movies and no airline food.
Watching soldiers exit a C-17 at night is truly bizarre. It’s like watching a big silver shark the size of Chicago giving birth to hundreds of tiny robots onto a large field covered with glo-sticks instead of runway lights.
FAQ: “What does the average soldier think of the war in Iraq?” Who the freak knows?
One soldier sitting next to me at the DFAC (dining facility) the other day told me that he thought that Iraq was a “resource war”. “And this is just the beginning,” he added. “Americans are soft, and are basically clueless about how to survive without their cars, appliances, supermarkets and gadgets. They are used to having everything done for them. They need to man up and learn how to grow things and build things and maintain some of the skills that our grandparents had. They are going to need these skills in the hard times to come.”
FAQ: “What does Naomi Klein have to say about Iraq?” I actually found a copy of Klein’s latest book, “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism” in an airbase give-away library yesterday while looking for something to read. Good grief, what a book! Am I the last person in the world to be reading this book? And if so, and everything that she writes is true, then why isn’t everyone in the whole freaking world up in arms against the globalization movement and its “Disaster Capitalism” flying monkeys who deliberately take advantage of situations involving large-scale human misery in order to steal other people’s stuff?
In her book, Klein states that economist Milton Friedman, the apparent godfather of globalization, “first learned how to exploit a large-scale shock or crisis in the mid-seventies, when he acted as adviser to the Chilean dictator General Augusto Pinochet. Not only were Chileans in a state of shock following Pinochet’s violent coup, but the country was also traumatized by severe hyperinflation. Friedman advised Pinochet to impose a rapid-fire transformation of the economy — tax cuts, free trade, privatized services, cuts to social spending and deregulation.” Sound familiar?
This same plan of using chaos and disaster as an excuse to “de-regulate” and “privatize” and torture and murder and establish dictatorships and let corporatism raid the national treasury worked very well in Indonesia under Suharto, the USSR, the former Yugoslavia, Argentina after Peron, Brazil right after its 1964 coup, Asia during the 1997 financial crisis, Sri Lanka after the tsunami, a whole laundry list of African countries who fell victim of the World Bank/International Monetary Fund and, of course, Iraq. And don’t forget that even here in the USA, Friedman and his followers had a field day after 9-11 and Katrina.
Klein also appears to think that, during Bush’s 2003 famous Shock and Awe attack on Iraq and for several years afterward, Iraq was deliberately allowed to go to Hell in a hand-basket in order to create conditions of chaos that would generate an opportunity for rebuilding Iraq from the ground up as a colonial state controlled by corporatism — like a neo-con version of what Mao was trying to do with his Cultural Revolution.
Further, Klein also strongly hints that American neo-cons have spent the last several years carefully engineering and orchestrating America’s upcoming Great Depression sequel in order to generate some kick-ass Shock and Awe here at home — so that in the chaos and confusion that results after the subprime goes nuts, hyperinflation hits hard and banks like Bear Stearns go under, they will be able to disassemble America as we know it and rebuild it again according to their own Disaster Capitalism model as well. Oops.
There appears to be a definite “intersection between super-profits and mega-disasters” in the minds of the followers of Milton Friedman, writes Klein. All I can say to that is Lord help us if they ever learn how to create man-made earthquakes, hurricanes and tsunamis.
FAQ: “What are the chances of Jane marching for at least half a mile in almost total darkness, across an unpaved airfield, from the C-17 to the Al Asad terminal pre-fab, while carrying all of her gear and yet managing to avoid falling flat on her face?” Zero.
FAQ: “How does one get from an airfield out in the middle of nowhere to the main part of Al Asad airbase at 1 am in the morning?” One stands around the terminal looking miserable for about 20 minutes, curses when one can’t get the terminal’s only telephone to work, searches for someone with an internet connection in order to e-mail one’s point of contact to PLEEZE come get her and chats with a nice Kurdish man with a laptop but with no wi-fi connection. “What’s it like up in Kurdistan now,” one asks.
“Honestly? Right now it’s rather peaceful and safe.”
Then one goes and asks for help at the KBR office. Although KBR has a bad rep in the US for price gouging, no-bid contracts and violence toward its women employees, here in Iraq they are usually our go-to guys. “Walk outside that door, hang a left, proceed north for 50 feet and there will be a bus stop — right past the construction equipment, port-a-johns, Humvees and blast walls. You can’t miss it. A bus usually comes by every half-hour.”
FAQ: “How do you find someplace to sleep at Al Asad?” You get off the bus at Camp Ripper and some really nice Navy medical corpsman on R&R from Husaybah in Al Qaim up near the Syrian border helps you to carry your gear. Then some really nice KBR guy finds you a “can” — a pre-fab trailer — to sleep in for what’s left of night.
FAQ: “How are things going in Anbar province right now?”
“We have around 60 incidents a month — snipers, IEDs, caches discovered, etc.,” said one Marine operations officer I talked with, “but when you consider there are over 2,000 aggravated assaults per month in Los Angeles alone, that’s not too bad. Anbar used to be the most restive province in Iraq, far worse than Baghdad. But now things have really turned around.” I sincerely hope that this means that even the powers-that-be in Washington have finally given up on Disaster Capitalism in Iraq — but I’m not holding my breath. It could simply mean that the Marines are doing a good job even despite of the White House.
FAQ: “What’s for dinner in the DFAC tonight?” Chicken, ribs, baked potatoes, tacos, pizza and a salad bar. And root beer floats.
FAQ: “If the American economy falls apart and we can no longer afford to keep up the financial drain of maintaining a presence in Iraq, then what will happen?”
“The Iraqis will just have to step up to the plate,” replied one officer I met in the chow line. “They will have to pay more. They have oil money that they aren’t spending — and with the price of oil going up, they will have even more oil money. And as the Iraqis do more to pull their country together, Americans will have to do less. As long as Americans keep funding and organizing projects, the Iraqis will continue to act like teenagers who are more than willing to let their parents do their chores for them but once the parents stop doing their chores, they will step up and do those chores themselves.”
FAQ: “Are the Marines being supplied adequately enough here to allow them to do their work in helping with the reconstruction and also to keep themselves safe from harm?”
“There is nothing that Marines need that they are not getting now. The supply lines are good. The new MRAP armored vehicles are working out — and although their shock absorbers aren’t all that good, they give you a rather bumpy ride and they are hard to climb into, the MRAP’s outside up-armoring is very effective.
“Basically, the Marines and the local sheiks have been working hand in hand in western Iraq for the last year or so and violent incidents are way down. People are out in the streets again. There are goods in the shops. Anbar province seems to have reached critical mass and then suddenly tipped in favor of the rule of law. Basic humanitarian needs are now being met — water, sewage treatment, electricity, healthcare….” Better not let the neo-cons hear about that! They will all start yelling about how the government is not supposed to be interfering with economic freedom — except of course for when major corporations want to go on the dole. But I digress.
FAQ: “Will this current calm in Anbar be spreading to the rest of Iraq any time soon?” I couldn’t find anybody yet who could answer that question. But, trust me, I’m still asking around.
FAQ: “Why do you think the Marines are so effective in Anbar?”
“Because we are flexible,” stated one Marine.
FAQ: “What do you think will happen in Iraq after the next presidential election?”
“One of the things we are trying to do here is to give the next president options….” said another officer I talked with.
FAQ: “What gives you hope?”
Look at it this way. The people of the Middle East like to bargain. It’s an integral part of their culture. In most markets and shops, if you simply go in and pay the price that they ask or just walk away, it is almost like an insult to them. Bargaining is part of their life. And western politicians need to understand this and drop their currently unsuccessful “My way or the highway” approach to Middle Eastern affairs if they ever want to be at peace with this region. Bargaining is much more effective here than Shock and Awe.
However, if the Bush-Cheney neo-cons are searching for more arenas to inflict their “Disaster Capitalism” on, then they ARE using the right approach in the Middle East. Their efforts are bringing results. Under the constant barrage of their continued threats, refusal to bargain, mismanagement and military antagonism, the entire Middle East is rapidly falling apart — and a pre-emptive attack on Iran will be just the thing needed to create TOTAL disaster in the Middle East (mission accomplished!) But if peace and security are the end goals that we want to achieve, then Americans need to learn how to bargain too. And if they learn to do this, then perhaps there may be some hope.
FAQ: “Have we pretty much covered the topic here now concerning what the freak is going on in Iraq?” Hell no. We’ve barely even scratched the tip of the iceberg.
FAQ: “By the way, how long does it take a country to recover from the effects of Disaster Capitalism?”
Good question. And pertinent too. In Chile, it took approximately 30 years from the time Pinochet introduced his military dictatorship until when he was first charged by a court of law with 94 counts of torture — but even today, Chile’s middle class, which had grown and thrived under Allende’s pre-coup new deal, is still marginal and 45 percent of its citizens are now living in poverty. And nobody is quite sure how long it will take for Iraq to recover or for Bush and Cheney to be charged for their crimes. Hopefully it will only take less time than it took Chile — perhaps ten or 15 years max due to Iraq’s access to oil profits. Frankly, however, Iraq isn’t the country that I am most worried about right now.
Right now, I just want to know how long it is going to take AMERICA to recover from Bush, Cheney and Friedman’s implementation of “The Shock Doctrine”.
Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org
Property seizures in other countries are considered totalitarian. When they occur at the hands of the corporate-controlled U.S. government they are apparently condoned and even facilitated by the courts whose job it is to reign in this kind of abuse. The monopoly media, including “conservative” talk radio, is an information filtering system masquerading as “news.” They habitually conceal government land grabs and other privatization schemes like the current controversy in southeastern Colorado. The army is attempting to seize property, claiming they need extra land to better prepare the troops. What’s really behind this patriotic-let’s-help-the-troops endeavor? Call it what they will, land seizure is land seizure and violates the public trust.
What is it about Colorado and the military? In 1989, George H. W. Bush’s administration wanted to store dangerous radioactive waste at the Pueblo Army Depot but the state wisely objected.  Toxic waste disposal is no longer an unmanageable issue — well-connected arms manufacturers use it for bombs and bullets — kind of a double whammy — if the bullets and bombs don’t kill them, the lethal residue causes widespread cancer and horrific birth defects for future offspring of those who absorb, inhale or swallow the deadly dust. The Pentagon and their private contractors suppress the noxious nature of depleted uranium. Earlier, they didn’t tell troops about Agent Orange. And the citizens of Anniston, Alabama weren’t told about PCBs.  There are thousands of such examples. The government consistently protects corporate profits rather than citizens.
Even though the Pentagon owns/occupies 31,700,692 acres in the U.S. and its territories and another 32,408,262 acres in foreign countries for a total of 64,108,954 acres, they claim to be strapped for a training area. The Department of Defense Base Structure Report (221 pages) dated September 30, 2006 (last report available) reveals that the Pentagon owns 577,519 structures worth over $712 billion situated on 86 bases in U.S. territories, 823 bases in foreign lands and 4402 military bases and/or military warehouses in the U.S. Their report boasts — “the Department of Defense remains one of the world’s largest ‘landlords.’”  As a result of the U.S. invasion of Afghanistan and Iraq, we have added at least 13 new military bases in the Middle East, ostensibly for the Global War of Terrorism (GWOT). The U.S. has literally surrounded Iran. There are about 63 countries with U.S. bases and thousands of U.S. military personnel (out of about 1.5 million) in 156 countries. 
According to another report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office, dated April 10, 2008, the army claims they need to restructure and rebuild which will require at least $190 billion for equipment through fiscal year 2013.  In 2007 alone, in order of rank, the Pentagon paid the following, often no-bid contracts: (1) Lockheed Martin Corp. $12,679,523,202; (2) Boeing Co. $7,300,000,000; (3) Northrop Grumman Corp. $6,821,000,000; (4) KBR Inc. (a spin-off of Halliburton) $5,517,070,621; (5) Science Applications International Corp. $4,412,146,628; (6) Raytheon Co. $4,068,752,346.  Given these massive figures, one would justifiably trust that America is well-armed, impenetrable and protected.
However, trust is not a word that one would associate with any government function. There are “151 current members of Congress” who have personally invested millions of dollars in companies that have received large defense contracts. Some of those companies are probably listed above or in any of the other top 100 companies. This provides some evidence of why “our representatives” favor corporations; it pays better and that’s in addition to hefty campaign contributions. 
Currently, the military (all branches) occupies 483,440 acres in Colorado.  Fort Carson, an army post on 137,412 acres of range land located in southeast Colorado, is considered one of the world’s premier locations to train and prepare soldiers for battle.  The post had a total population of 10,566 in the 2000 U.S. Census and is located in both Pueblo County and El Paso County, Colorado. The census also revealed that there were 1,679 households and 1,620 families residing on base. There were 2,663 housing units.  During World War II, the base functioned as a prison camp for non-threatening German, Italian and Japanese-American citizens whose lands had been seized. 
The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) was previously located one mile west of Fort Carson at the Cheyenne Mountain Operations Center. NORAD provides selective response to air, missile, and space attacks over U.S. and Canadian airspace. A faulty system must have failed miserably on 9/11 because no one was reprimanded or fired for incompetence. But wait; there was an upgrade in 1987 at a cost of $968 million and another one by Lockheed in 1993.  Lockheed also received NORAD upgrade contracts in April 1999.  Then after 9/11, the government spent about $700 million to upgrade the early warning systems at Cheyenne Mountain.  By March 2005, thanks to Lockheed, NORAD had a newly refurbished, $14-million state-of-the-art control room — NORAD now “includes a station that receives Federal Aviation Administration data, flight plans and access to 50 FAA radars and 20 air-traffic control stations. NORAD can even tune into commercial airline radios and listen to chatter about unruly passengers.”  On July 28, 2006, it was announced that NORAD would relocate from Cheyenne Mountain to Peterson Air Force Base, also in Colorado. After the move, the government awarded another upgrade contract to Lockheed worth about $800 million.  Meanwhile the levees, the bridges and thousands of America’s roads are dangerously riddled with deepening pot-holes.
With the implementation of the Department of Defense’s Military Housing Privatization Initiative of 1996,  Fort Carson was selected as the Army’s model for the development of the privatization initiatives.  Privatization is the process of transferring ownership of resources and land from the public and private sector to fat-cat corporations who usually pay no taxes.  Congress privatized the people’s money with the treasonous Federal Reserve Act of 1913, placing the control of money into the hands of international banking families who have deliberately debauched our currency. The FED, a private corporation and a complicit Congress, wishing to retain power and popularity, have spent America into bankruptcy — paid for by the people’s labor, land, resources and blood.
On February 10, 1998, the Defense Department, the enforcement arm of Wall Street  notified Congress that they were transferring $15.82 million to the Fort Carson Family Housing Limited Liability Corporation, a division of J. A. Jones, a subsidiary of Philipp Holzmann AG, a Germany-based construction company that used concentration camp labor during World War II. The Fort Carson Family Housing Limited Liability Corporation of Charlotte, N.C. “won” this whopping contract worth more than $3 billion over the span of the contract.  See how much Philipp Holzmann AG and others were gifted just in 1999. Between October 1, 1997 and September 30, 2003, out of $900 billion authorized expenditures, Philipp Holzmann AG received pentagon contracts amounting to $1,723,275,972. “Half of all the Defense Department’s budget goes out the door of the Pentagon to private contractors.”  Other funds, 25%, apparently cannot be accounted for.
The private corporation built 840 new single and multifamily structures and revitalized existing structures. Rent for these ‘privatized” units, now paid to the contractor is set at the soldier’s Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH). Philipp Holzmann AG also built and maintains the roads, day care centers, schools, parks, picnic areas — literally all the infrastructure. The 50-year contract came with a renewable option of 25 years.  The new and refurbished housing would provide housing for a total of 2,663 Fort Carson military families. Additionally, the Department of Defense has other privatization projects worth billions. 
Even before 9/11, expansion of the military as well as increased corporate take-over of public military facilities was part of the game plan. “Since 1997, Defense Planning Guidance (DPG) has directed each of the Services to develop an installation-level plan to respond to the growing need for quality affordable housing for military personnel by the year 2010. The Army’s initial plan, completed in September 1998, called for the privatization of about 85,000 Army Family Housing (AFH) units over 5 years at 43 US locations.” The army’s billions-of-dollars housing privatization program is known as the Residential Communities Initiative (RCI) and is worldwide.  See the entire program here, scroll down to view the full implications.
Located 150 miles southeast of Fort Carson is the Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). The $26 million dollar “purchase” was completed on September 17, 1983 through the government’s use of eminent domain. It was opened in the summer of 1985 to provide critical maneuver lands for larger units.  The relocation of 11 landowners who refused to sell required an additional $2 million. Their land was acquired through the detestable process of condemnation, aided by the very people who are supposed to make us “secure in…our “houses.”  
The government’s eminent domain power, the Takings Clause (or the Just Compensation Clause), is part of Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution — …”nor shall private property be taken for public use without just compensation..” This clause is not a positive power grant allotted to the government. Instead, it imposes a strict limitation on the government. The Constitution was designed to protect individual rights from an abusive government. The founding documents clarify that “the government’s only legitimate power is to secure the rights that are guaranteed to the people.” 
Just compensation means fair market value, moving expenses, and any “losses incurred while you establish yourself elsewhere.” “The victim must be ‘made whole’ meaning that he is economically no worse off as a result of the taking.” For decades, “public use” meant just that — use by the public. However, the Takings Clause has been “transformed and perverted. Today, ‘public use’ means ‘public benefit.’” 
The eminent domain floodgate of abuses opened early in the twentieth century with the 1936 New York City Housing Authority v. Muller case which forever changed American property rights — public use became public benefit. The court, ignoring private property rights and apparently biased against the poor, decided that “slum clearance” was a public benefit. This “sociological experiment” established an “acceptable means of perverting the Takings Clause.” This was a “front for violating private property rights to acquire land for their pet projects.” 
This led to the despotic condemnation process which later enabled the Rockefeller (one of the Federal Reserve banking families) land grab of a thirteen-block tract of Manhattan which was unlawfully condemned in order to erect the World Trade Center Complex. Read about it here. The Port Authority issued tax exempt bonds which would completely fund the project.  The Port Authority privatized the Center on July 24, 2001 for a fraction of its value by leasing it to Larry Silverstein’s private corporation — lucky for him that he heavily ensured them against terrorist attacks. 
In 1981, General Motors, another wealthy corporation, directed the government to condemn the 465-acre community of Poletown, a suburb or Detroit, Michigan so they could build an assembly plant. GM got their plant while “3,468 people were displaced and had their homes confiscated by the government. The Constitution’s public use requirement was intended to protect against just this sort of usurpation.”  One thousand residences, six hundred businesses and numerous churches were bulldozed. 
About half of the land for The Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS) was seized through the condemnation process. “In 1983 the unwilling sellers were pretty much on their own, battling to hang on to their homes. They wrote letters and attended meetings for the procedurally required Environmental Impact Statement. But in the end they were just a handful of ranchers, forced to move off of their land by the power of the United States Army.” 
Victims of eminent domain rarely receive “just compensation” and often face endless litigation fighting for the constitutional rights the government is supposed to regularly protect. Private property abuse is rampant! According to the Castle Coalition, there were 10,382 governmental attempts to condemn private property in the last ten years. 
Apparently, because of the money-siphoning (626 billion dollars in 2007)  Global War of Terrorism, the Department of Defense wants to greatly expand the Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). In June 2007, the Army released the Phase I map identifying the first 418,000 acres they want to acquire. “When combined with the current 235,896 acres of training space there, the Piñon Canyon site would become the Army’s largest training ground.”  The Army indicates that they want as much as 2.5 million acres, the entire southeast corner of Colorado because it simulates some of the terrain in Afghanistan and Iraq. 
On May 3, 2007 Governor Bill Ritter signed Colorado House Bill 1069 withdrawing the state’s consent to the federal government in their quest to acquire land through eminent domain for their expansion of Piñon Canyon Manuvere Site (PCMS). 
Constitutional statutes were designed to “protect the citizens against the abuse of power” by government agents. Unfortunately, a majority of elected officials have shirked their constitutional, decision-making responsibilities to highly-paid private contractors, who have taken over much of the government’s responsibilities. The problem is, these contractors are not covered by constitutional laws — therefore they are not culpable. Federal agencies do not exercise oversight, demand accountability or set performance standards for federal contractors. Effective Congressional investigations are rarely convened. 
This is a much bigger problem than the dedicated ranchers of Colorado. But for them, it is their life and their livelihood. The next time you are enjoying a hamburger or a steak (if you can still afford one), thank a rancher, the government didn’t produce it. If the government can target Colorado’s ranchers, they can target anyone! Oh and that land grab — it has nothing to do with training soldiers! Stay tuned for parts two and three.
 U.S. Seeks to Store Nuclear Waste at Army Bases to Save Plutonium Plant, By Keith Schneider, November 10, 1989
 Department of Defense, Base Structure Report, FY 2007
 Restructuring and Rebuilding the Army Will Cost Billions of Dollars for Equipment but the Total Cost Is Uncertain, Highlights, April 10, 2008, United States Government Accountability Office, testimony before the Subcommittee on Air and Land Forces, Committee on Armed Services, House of Representatives
 Congress members invest in Defense Earn Millions From Companies With Military Contracts By Anne Flaherty
 Fort Carson
 Fort Carson
 Spacecom Upgrades for the Future by Daniel Verton, April 8, 1999
 Military to Idle NORAD Compound Operations Will Move to Nearby Base, But Cold War Bunker to Stand Ready By T.R. Reid, July 29, 2006
 Military Housing Privatization Initiative: A Guidance Document For Wading Through The Legal Morass by Capt. Stacie A. Remy Vest, and Chapter 169. Military Construction And Military Family Housing, Approved February 28, 2008
 How to earn $3.5 trillion and pay zero taxes By David R. Francis, April 19, 2004
 The Globalization of Poverty and the New World Order by Michel Chossudovsky, pg 11
 Fort Carson Awards Housing Privatization Contract
 Outsourcing the Pentagon, Who benefits from the Politics and Economics of National Security? By Larry Makinson, March 31, 2006
 Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
 Bonds: Port of New York Authority to Raise $100-Million by John H. Allen, The New York Times, February 28, 1968.
 Killing Several Birds With One Stone By Deanna Spingola, February 12, 2006
 Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
 Landmark Eminent Domain Abuse Decision, July 31, 2004, John Kramer or Lisa Knepper
 Army Threatens the Seizure of Private Property by Doug Holdread, June 29, 2006
 Constitutional Chaos, What Happens When the Government breaks its Own Laws by Judge Andrew P. Napolitano, pgs. 65-78
 The Worldwide Network of U.S. Military Bases by Prof. Jules Dufour, July 1, 2007
 Squeeze over a Colorado canyon, October 29, 2007
 Army Threatens the Seizure of Private Property by Doug Holdread, June 29, 2006
 Ritter Signs Piñon Canyon , school safety bills, Rocky Mountain News, May 3, 2007
 Shadowboxer by Jason Peckenpaugh, 11/15/03 who was quoting The Shadow Government by Dan Guttman and Barry Wilner, 1976
Deanna Spingola is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
Deanna Spingola has been a quilt designer and is the author of two books. She has traveled extensively teaching and lecturing on her unique methods. She has always been an avid reader of non-fiction works designed to educate rather than entertain. She is active in family history research and lectures on that topic. Currently she is the director of the local Family History Center.
Over the past year, many people have asked me, “Jane, what is it like in Iraq?” I have answered this question in many different ways but today I would like to focus on one aspect of my experience in Iraq — getting around from one military base to another. Today I’d like to give you a personal tour of what it is actually like to embed in Iraq. Why? Because Lonely Planet hasn’t been over there within the last five years. But I have.
Suppose you want to embed in Iraq or maybe even want to enlist. Can you simply turn to the transportation section of “Iraq on $5 a Day” and get all the information you need? No you can’t. So I’ve located a much-neglected niche in the travel guidebook business and I’m gonna fill it. And you don’t have to go to Barnes and Noble to buy my guide either. Everything that you need to know is right here. Welcome to “Iraq on $5,000 a Second”.
In April of 2007 and then again last October, I embedded with the US military and saw a lot of Iraq from inside the wire. So if you want to get a guidebook to Iraq that will give you travel suggestions on where to go and what to see outside the wire, you are gonna have to contact Dahr Jamal or Aaron Glantz for that kind of stuff. In Anbar province, I was fortunate enough to go out into the towns and villages and meet individual Iraqis, but that was the exception. I met poor farmer families out in the countryside and sheiks and children in the city of Hit and women who had come to a hospital in Haditha to have their babies. And most of the Iraqis I met were dirt-poor — which is totally ironic because the ground under their feet contains trillions of dollars worth of oil. But I digress. Most of the time I was in Iraq, I was inside the wire.
This is your guidebook to what’s happening inside the wire — an eye-witness account of what the place looks like, how to get around there and what to expect.
The first place that we are going to explore is Baghdad’s Green Zone. While I was there in April, that’s ALL that I saw. Ask me ANYTHING about the Green Zone! Been there, done that. “But why just the stay in the Green Zone,” you might ask. Here’s a travel tip. When asking for an embed outside the wire in Iraq, DO NOT write anything unfavorable about John McCain! Directly after I wrote an article about McCain’s so-called stroll through a Baghdad marketplace, I was informed by a fellow reporter that Condoleeza Rice’s guys at the State Department were keeping me on a very tight rein and so I only got to see the inside of the Green Zone. Oh well. It just means that I will have to go back.
No, wait. Before I tell you about the Green Zone, I gotta tell you how to get there!
After you either get your embed permission papers from MNFI’s CPIC (that stands for “Multi-National Forces Iraq” and its “Combined Press Information Center”), you go to www.baraintravel.com and buy your plane ticket to Kuwait. Bargain Travel always gives you a good rate. The only problem with Bargain Travel tickets is that they are so cheap because they are non-refundable. So make sure that CPIC gives you the green light to come over there first before you buy your ticket or else you will be screwed. And you will have to take the Department of Defense to small claims court to get your money back. Can’t you just see it now — General Petraeus standing up there in front of Judge Judy, arguing his case. “But Your Honor, it wasn’t our fault!”
After you have secured your CPIC permission and your plane ticket online, hop onto BART (Bay Area Rapid Transit) at the Ashby station and wrangle your 100-odd pounds of luggage off to SFO. Then you fly for 16 hours to Frankfurt and sit around that airport for a day, waiting for your connection to board. Then you fly another six hours to Kuwait and you finally arrive at the Kuwait City international airport, all haggard and jet-lagged. And what does the Kuwait airport look like? It looks exactly like the San Francisco airport. Or the Phoenix airport. Or JFK. Except that most of the guys there are wearing white nightgowns and the ladies are wearing black headscarves.
Then you go try to find your ride out to the nearest US airbase — there are a lot of US airbases in Kuwait. But where should you look for the person who will give you your ride? At the airport Starbucks, of course.
It used to be that if you couldn’t find a ride to the base, you could spend the night in a Barca-Lounger at the KBR office at the airport for free but they closed that one down.
Here comes our ride coordinators. Army officers dressed in Nike T-shirts and Bermuda shorts drive us 40 miles out into the desert in their American SUVs.
The airbase is a tent city. Almost everything you will see on an American military base from this point on is some sort of pre-fab. And because guys build all of these bases and guys maintain them, most of the American stuff you see in Iraq resembles a cross between a Boy Scout camp, a trailer park and a fraternity house. Forget about the fine points of interior decoration. This is a guy thing.
War is a guy thing. It’s like football. Only what’s going on in Iraq isn’t exactly a war. It’s more like a barroom brawl, a free-for-all where everyone jumps into the fray — except instead of fighting over Super Bowl rings, they are all fighting over oil.
After Kuwait, we board a C-130 troop transport plane (wearing our helmets and flak jackets of course) in the middle of the night and head off to BIAP — Baghdad International Airport. Ha! BIAP consists of four large tents and some picnic tables — and lots of concrete blast walls.
A bus picks you up at 3 am and takes you off to Camp Striker. More tents. A LOT more tents. Hundreds of them. And lots of soldiers, many in T-shirts and shorts and out for a jog every morning. Striker is a holding pen for troop movements so it’s not all that formal. And everyone there eats well — even you. The food is part of a recruitment campaign to get guys to re-up. The dining facility offers a grand cruise-ship-type buffet. Roast beef, chicken, turkey, salad bar. I recommend the pie but that’s just me. You might prefer the build-it-yourself sundaes. But you can’t have a beer. And no tequila either. Iraq is an alcohol-free state.
At sometime after midnight the next night, we board one of the Rhinos for the trip to Baghdad. A Rhino is an armored vehicle as big as a house. There are five or six of them in your convoy. They look like that parade of dinosaurs in “The Land Before Time”. And then, hopefully, you safely make the 12-mile run into the Green Zone under the cover of darkness.
This whole trip is bizarre. You’ve been in Iraq for three days now and you have yet to see an Iraqi. Maybe you will never see an Iraqi. But you will see a lot of TCNs — Third Country Nationals — and a lot of American soldiers. And make no mistake. These are well-trained and intelligent people — the cream of one whole American generation, a proud, well-developed fighting machine — and totally wasted on Bush and Cheney’s greedy, useless, selfish, criminal plans to make themselves into the world’s first trillionaires. What a waste. At some point in time, America may need this fine fighting machine. And it will have been wasted on trivia and greed.
Not that what is happening in Iraq now is trivial. Our military is doing a lot of good things over there now and we should be proud of them. But their whole reason for being over in Iraq in the first place was trivial and Shock and Awe was trivial — it trivialized the importance and meaning of human life. And Shock and Awe was also responsible for bringing down the greatest country in the world. No, I’m not referring to Iraq. Our wonderful America has been broken and almost destroyed by Bush’s Shock and Awe. But I digress again. Let’s go back to the tour.
What does the Green Zone look like? It looks like a cross between Fort Hood and Washington DC. The Iraqis originally designed it to be their nation’s capital and it has government buildings and monuments and broad avenues, just like Washington DC. And then superimposed on top of all that is a typical American military base, just like Fort Benning or Fort Lewis. And the result is a strange hybrid.
Are you still thinking that you are going to meet some Iraqis? Think again. Most of the residents of the Green Zone are either American military personnel or TCNs. Peruvian soldiers man most of the security posts. And the most commonly-spoken language in the Green Zone is…Spanish.
You can take a shuttle bus around the Green Zone — to the PX. To the helicopter landing pad. To the El Racheed Hotel. To the Combat Support Hospital. And to the Parliament. But there is a checkpoint or two or three on every block and between the press room and the El Racheed two blocks away, be prepared to go through two X-ray searches, two body searches and seven different document- examination points. Not to mention bomb-sniffing dogs.
Oh, and you can also go to the current US embassy which is a former palace of Saddam Hussein’s. Olympic-sized swimming pool, gold-plated bidets. But you gotta have an escort to go there so you might have to cross that off your list — even though it has a laundromat in a pre-fab in the garden and they teach aerobics in Saddam’s former ballroom. The new US embassy is still being built and is over a mile long. It is HUGE.
Okay. You’ve done the Green Zone. Now you want to go visit Al Asad airbase out in Anbar province. So you put on your full body armor again, struggle down to the helicopter pad and fly out to TQ where you spend the night in a wooden Quonset hut and then board a C-130 in the morning. But Al Asad is different from Striker. Nobody here lives in a tent. Everyone lives in a “can”. You will too. Its Can City consists of a LOT of those ship-to-shore kind of container thingies you see in the port of Oakland, coming off boats from China. Each one contains a table, a closet and beds. Way better than tents. Trust me. But the latrines and showers are still at least a football field away and this can be a problem if you have to pee in the middle of the night.
Next you get on a convoy of Humvees and go out to the FOBs (Forward Operating Bases), out in the small towns. And from there you go to the COPs (Command Outposts), out in the deserts and rural areas. And at that point, if you are lucky, you may even see some Iraqis!
Okay. You’ve gotten all the way to COP Timber Wolf way out in the middle of nowhere where the kitchen consists of a pallet with a wooden crate on it, full of MREs (Meals Ready to Eat). And instead of latrines they have wag-bags, biodegradable bags that you poop in. Sorry but I’m not going to go into detail about these.
Okay, so you’ve done all this. So how do you get back home? The same way you came. You get back into the Humvee convoy. Back on those primitive gas-spewing helicopters that leave you deaf for 24 hours and back on the C-130s that look like they are left over from World War II. Back to the Green Zone. Back to the Rhinos. Back to Camp Striker. Back to the airbase in Kuwait. Back to the Kuwait airport and the Frankfurt airport and San Francisco airport and BART. And then you are home, stuck with jet-lag.
And there you have it — your own personal guidebook tour of the military bases of Iraq. Glad you could come. I hope you enjoyed it. And if I ever get embedded in a combat zone in Iraq, I’ll write a guidebook tour of that too. Maybe this summer? I hear that you haven’t really seen the REAL Iraq until you’ve carried around 65 pounds of body armor and a huge old 20-pound laptop, and gotten shot at in 145-degree heat…
Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: email@example.com
Eulogy for a former KBR-Iraq contractor
“When you were in Iraq, did you meet any contractors?” someone asked me recently. “What were they like? Were they scary?” No, not at all. They were nice. And helpful and efficient and friendly. But then I mostly only dealt with KBR contractors working on the administrative side of things. I never met any KBR contractors who were mercenaries. And I definitely never met any of those heavy-duty Blackwater guys.
One time I did spend the morning with a group of British bodyguards who looked like they might have been left over from “The Troubles” in Belfast and could snap your neck in a second, but they were just escorting around a group of civil engineers who were inspecting a health clinic. Nothing fierce.
“If you take a photo of us, we will have to destroy your camera,” one of the bodyguards told me. But other than that, they also were quite nice.
However, like I said before, I didn’t get a chance to see much of Iraq. The U.S. Army’s CPIC [Combined Press Information Center] unit in Baghdad kept me pretty much away from combat zones when I was in Iraq during April and October of 2007. And when I kept asking them to send me to some of the dicier areas, they stopped letting me into Iraq at all. I guess they either didn’t want me reporting back to my progressively-oriented editors regarding any blood-and-gore situations in Baghdad right before the 2008 presidential elections — or else they figured it might look bad for “Bush’s War” if something dire happened to me. “How could we possibly explain how a 65-year-old grandmother managed to get kidnapped or blown up?” But I digress.
I am here today to tell you the story of Dave Crow and to write his eulogy.
Dave was a well-built and beefy man, a carpenter who could lift 100-pound slabs of sheet-rock all day long and not break a sweat. But then he got lured overseas by all the easy money to be made as a contractor for KBR in Iraq.
“I was only over there for four months,” he told me. “I was a truck driver for KBR. The money was good. But our camp was located over the site of a former depleted uranium dump and I got really sick. My body started just wasting away and now I’m weak, unhealthy, living in a trailer outside of San Diego and basically screwed up.” He talked to me about his plans to sue KBR because they had reneged on their promise to provide him with healthcare when he came back from Iraq.
After he returned to the States, Dave’s life went rapidly downhill. He lost weight. He was ill. He was in constant pain. His girlfriend left him. He drank. And then, apparently, he shot himself.
I was so sorry to hear that his life had ended this way.
One of Dave’s friends sent me an article a few months ago. Dated September 29, 2007, the article said that on the previous Wednesday, Dave Crow had pulled over onto the side of a Southern California freeway and shot himself in the chest. Dave had commited suicide? I could understand that. The guy was frustrated and in pain. End of story.
But it wasn’t the end of Dave’s story. There was more to come. The other day, I ran into a friend of Dave’s at a party and the friend started talking about Dave. “Several of the people who were close to Dave had given up on him right before he died,” said his friend, “but it wasn’t just because his health had bottomed out. It was because all he would ever talk about was how KBR had done him wrong. He was sick and in pain, sure, but he was also very sad, disillusioned and bitter — that he would never again be the strong and healthy young man that he had been before going over to Iraq. All he could ever talk about were his losses and how KBR had promised to pay his medical expenses when he got back and how he was going to sue them. Some of his friends started avoiding him. It was hard to be around him. That was all that he could talk about.”
And then Dave was found dead at the side of the freeway last fall. “At first I thought that he probably did shoot himself, ” said his friend, “but then someone showed me his coroner’s report and, frankly, it seemed sort of sketchy. Apparently Dave had been driving erratically on the freeway and then pulled off at an exit to buy gas or something in some town. And, according to the report, an off-duty police officer who had been driving his own personal car on the freeway had followed Dave off the freeway, followed him all through the town and then followed him back onto the freeway again. I think that Dave might have panicked about being followed by some strange unmarked car and tried to run.”
According to Dave’s friend, the coroner’s report went on to say that the police became involved at some point and there was apparently a chase. then Dave swerved off the road and ran into some construction equipment. “The report then says that a police officer witnessed Dave shoot himself in the chest. Not in the head or the heart. In the chest.”
Dave’s friend was disappointed with the coroner’s report. “It said that Dave was carrying a Glock firearm that was capable of holding 17 rounds but there were only three rounds left in the clip. That’s strange. And the report didn’t mention whether or not any shell casings had been found in the car. Why would Dave be carrying around a Glock with only three rounds? Had he been shooting at someone? Had they been shooting at him? And why would an off-duty policeman follow him all over town?”
Towards the end of the party, I had another chance to talk with Dave’s friend again and the death of Dave Crow was still on his mind. “Having never done this sort of thing before — questioning an official report — I was hoping that you might know how to get the California Highway Patrol or someone to look into the events that led to Dave’s death on the freeway in Azusa. For instance, is it standard procedure for an off-duty police officer to chase people that way? And if it is, does anyone think that maybe that’s what started Dave running, and caused his ultimate ‘suicide’?” Then Dave’s friend looked pensive. “And does anyone even care? Maybe you can stir the pot or else that other journalist that interviewed Dave about KBR could check in to it. Or is there any other watch dog agency that oversees policy for the police that we could ask about this?” Dave’s friend shrugged his shoulders.
“It’s just that I’d like to have some sort of closure on my friend’s death — like some accounting of just what happened to him, and the answer to some of the basic questions. Did the bullet pulled from his body match the gun registered to him? And can a private citizen ask questions like I have, about a case that really isn’t any of my business….other than that of ‘no man is an island’? I know that Dave will still be dead either way of course. I just hate the idea that he might have been killed and someone out there somehow is getting away with it. That’s all.”
Perhaps there had been a shoot-out. Or perhaps Dave might have been paranoid enough to mistakenly think, when he was being followed for so long by an unmarked car, that KBR was going after him because of the lawsuit. Who knows? I certainly don’t know. But there is one thing that I DO know: I know that I need to write an eulogy for David Crow. “I’m sorry, Dave, that your life ended this way — sick and upset and bleeding to death alone on the side of some obscure California freeway. And I hope that now you are without pain and resting in a better place — no matter what happened to you during your short life here on earth.” Rest in peace, Dave. You deserve it.
Jane Stillwater is a regular columnist for Novakeo.com
She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org