Category "Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action"

A Conflict Without End

As it was made to be in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, war without end. Amen.

House Republicans propose a dangerously expansive new definition of war - It could even apply to domestic threats - It raises the possibility of endless detention for anyone who gets on the wrong side of a future administration.

Osama bin Laden had been dead only a few days when House Republicans began their efforts to expand, rather than contract, the war on terror…

This wildly expansive authorization would, in essence, make the war on terror a permanent and limitless aspect of life on earth, along with its huge potential for abuse.


It allows the president to detain “belligerents” until the “termination of hostilities,” presumably at a camp like the one in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. Since it does not give a plausible scenario of how those hostilities could be considered over, it raises the possibility of endless detention for anyone who gets on the wrong side of a future administration.

The bill, part of the National Defense Authorization Act, was introduced by the committee chairman, Howard McKeon of California, who said it simply aligns old legal authorities with current threats. We’ve heard that before, about wiretapping and torture, and it was always untrue.

These powers are not needed, for current threats, or any other threat. President Obama has not asked for them (though, unfortunately, the administration has used a similar definition of the enemy in legal papers). Under the existing powers, or perhaps ignoring them, President George W. Bush abused his authority for many years with excessive detentions and illegal wiretapping. Those kinds of abuses could range even more widely with this open-ended authorization.

As more than 30 House Democrats protested to Mr. McKeon, a declaration of “global war against nameless individuals, organizations, and nations” could “grant the president near unfettered authority to initiate military action around the world without further Congressional approval.” If a future administration wanted to attack Iran unilaterally, it could do so without having to consult with Congress.

Read the complete piece from The New York Times

War To The Horizon: The Stimulus Package In Kabul (and More Monster Embassies)

February 23rd, 2011 by Andy in Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action

Another spot-on analysis by Tom Engelhardt regarding the ever-bloating apparatus of what Eisenhower termed “the military-industrial complex.” Albert Speer eat your heart out…

The Associated Press covered U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Karl Eikenberry’s announcement that a $511 million contract had been awarded to Caddell Construction, one of America’s “largest construction and engineering groups,” for a massive expansion of the U.S. embassy in Kabul. According to the ambassador, that embassy is already “the largest… in the world with more than 1,100 brave and dedicated civilians… from 16 agencies and working next to their military counterparts in 30 provinces,” and yet it seems it’s still not large enough.

A few other things in his announcement caught my eye. Construction of the new “permanent offices and housing” for embassy personnel is not to be completed until sometime in 2014, approximately three years after President Obama’s July 2011 Afghan drawdown is set to begin, and that $511 million is part of a $790 million bill to U.S. taxpayers that will include expansion work on consular facilities in the Afghan cities of Mazar-i-Sharif and Herat.


Jo Comerford and the number-crunchers at the National Priorities Project have offered TomDispatch a hand in putting that $790 million outlay into an American context: “$790 million is more than ten times the money the federal government allotted for the State Energy Program in FY2011. It’s nearly five times the total amount allocated for the National Endowment for the Arts (threatened to be completely eliminated by the incoming Congress). If that sum were applied instead to job creation in the United States, in new hires it would yield more than 22,000 teachers, 15,000 healthcare workers, and employ more than 13,000 in the burgeoning clean energy industry.”


One night in May 2007, I was nattering on at the dinner table about reports of a monstrous new U.S. embassy being constructed in Baghdad, so big that it put former Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein’s grandiose Disneyesque palaces to shame. On 104 acres of land in the heart of the Iraqi capital (always referred to in news reports as almost the size of Vatican City), it was slated to cost $590 million. (Predictable cost overruns and delays — see F-35 above — would, in the end, bring that figure to at least $740 million, while the cost of running the place yearly is now estimated at $1.5 billion.)

Back then, more than half a billion dollars was impressive enough, even for a compound that was to have its own self-contained electricity-generation, water-purification, and sewage systems in a city lacking most of the above, not to speak of its own antimissile defense systems, and 20 all-new blast-resistant buildings including restaurants, a recreation center, and other amenities. It was to be by far the largest, most heavily fortified embassy on the planet with a “diplomatic” staff of 1,000 (a number that has only grown since).

My wife listened to my description of this future colossus, which bore no relation to anything ever previously called an “embassy,” and then, out of the blue, said, “I wonder who the architect is?” Strangely, I hadn’t even considered that such a mega-citadel might actually have an architect.


Somewhere between horrified and grimly amused, I wrote a piece at TomDispatch, entitled “The Mother Ship Lands in Baghdad” and, via a link to the BDY drawings, offered readers a little “blast-resistant spin” through Bush’s colossus. From the beginning, I grasped that this wasn’t an embassy in any normal sense and I understood as well something of what it was. Here’s the way I put it at the time:

“As an outpost, this vast compound reeks of one thing: imperial impunity. It was never meant to be an embassy from a democracy that had liberated an oppressed land. From the first thought, the first sketch, it was to be the sort of imperial control center suitable for the planet’s sole ‘hyperpower,’ dropped into the middle of the oil heartlands of the globe. It was to be Washington’s dream and Kansas City’s idea of a palace fit for an embattled American proconsul — or a khan.”


Embassies the size of pyramids are still being built; military bases to stagger the imagination continue to be constructed; and nowhere, not even in Iraq, is it clear that Washington is committed to packing up its tents, abandoning its billion-dollar monuments, and coming home.

In the U.S., it’s clearly going to be paralysis and stagnation all the way, but in Peshawar and Mazar-i-sharif, not to speak of the greater Persian Gulf region, we remain the spendthrifts of war, perfectly willing, for instance, to ship fuel across staggering distances and unimaginably long supply lines at $400 a gallon to Afghanistan to further crank up an energy-heavy conflict. Here in the United States, police are being laid off. In Afghanistan, we are paying to enroll thousands and thousands of them and train them in ever greater numbers. In the U.S., roads crumble; in Afghanistan, support for road-building is still on the agenda.

At home, it’s peace all the way to the unemployment line, because peace, in our American world, increasingly seems to mean economic disaster. In the Greater Middle East, it’s war to the horizon, all war all the time, and creeping escalation all the way around.


It looks and feels like the never-ending story, and yet, of course, the imperium is visibly fraying, while the burden of distant wars grows ever heavier. Those “embassies” are being built for the long haul, but a decade or two down the line, I wouldn’t want to put my money on what exactly they will represent, or what they could possibly hope to control.

This is the kind of information and insight that is simply not presented in any mass media platform in this country today. As for the American republic, at this rate, just stick a fork in it. It’s done.

Read The Complete Article

Obama Ignores Eisenhower at Country’s, World’s Peril

Excellent piece of historical reporting by Melvin Goodman in regards to what is certainly one of the most prescient and honestly lucid speeches in American political history. It is telling it wasn’t until the end of his administration that Eisenhower felt secure enough (or compelled enough?) to deliver this onto the doorstep of American consciousness.

On January 17, 1961, President Dwight D. Eisenhower issued his prophetic warning about the military-industrial complex, anticipating the increased political, economic, military and even cultural influence of the Pentagon and its allies. Several weeks earlier, he had privately told his senior advisers in the Oval Office, “God help this country when someone sits in this chair who doesn’t know the military as well as I do.” Several months after his inauguration in 1953, he warned against warfare that had “humanity hanging from a cross of iron.”

In the spring of 1961, I was part of a small group of undergraduates who met with the president’s brother, Milton Eisenhower, who was then president of Johns Hopkins University. Milton Eisenhower and a Johns Hopkins professor of political science, Malcolm Moos, played major roles in the drafting and editing of the farewell speech of January 1961. The actual drafter of the speech, Ralph E. Williams, relied on guidance from Professor Moos. Milton Eisenhower explained that one of the drafts of the speech referred to the “military-industrial-Congressional complex” and said that the president himself inserted the reference to the role of the Congress, an element that did not appear in the delivery of the farewell address. When the president’s brother asked about the dropped reference to Congress, the president replied: “It was more than enough to take on the military and private industry. I couldn’t take on the Congress as well.”

In addition to the Congress reference, an entire section was dropped from the speech that dealt with the creation of a “permanent, war-based industry,” with “flag and general officers retiring at an early age [to] take positions in the war-based industrial complex shaping its decisions and guiding the direction of its tremendous thrust.” The president warned that steps needed to be taken to “insure that the ‘merchants of death’ do not come to dictate national policy.” The section also warned against any belief that some “spectacular and costly action could become the miraculous solution to all current difficulties.”


Eisenhower clashed with the military mindset from the very beginning of his presidency. He knew that his generals were wrong in proclaiming “political will” the major factor in military victory and would have shuddered when General David Petraeus proclaimed recently that political will is the key to US success in Afghanistan. Eisenhower knew that military demands for weaponry and resources were always based on inexplicable notions of “sufficiency,” and he made sure that Pentagon briefings to the Congress were countered by testimony from the intelligence community.


Finally, Eisenhower understood that too much spending on defense would weaken both the economy and national security. “Every gun that is made,” Eisenhower said, “every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies … a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

Read The Complete Article

The Joys of Perpetual War

September 14th, 2010 by Andy in Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action

A bit of an older post, but unfortunately still all-too relevant to our never ending situation in America, by Jo Comerford of the always-fine Here, she brings into a little clearer focus all of the true costs being borne by our society in order to maintain the never ending conduit of public money dedicated to the military industry.

So you thought the Pentagon was already big enough? Well, what do you know, especially with the price of the American military slated to grow by at least 25 percent over the next decade? Forget about the butter. It’s bad for you anyway. And sheer military power, as well as the money behind it, assures the country of a thick waistline without the cholesterol. So, let’s sing the praises of perpetual war. We better, since right now every forecast in sight tells us that it’s our future.

Tom Engelhardt adds his perspective to this from his 2009 column “War Is Peace: Is America Hooked on War?”

When it comes to war (and peace), we live in a world of American Newspeak in which alternatives to a state of war are not only ever more unacceptable, but ever harder to imagine. If war is now our permanent situation, in good Orwellian fashion it has also been sundered from a set of words that once accompanied it.

It lacks, for instance, “victory.” After all, when was the last time the U.S. actually won a war (unless you include our “victories” over small countries incapable of defending themselves like the tiny Caribbean Island of Grenada in 1983 or powerless Panama in 1989)? The smashing “victory” over Saddam Hussein in the First Gulf War only led to a stop-and-start conflict now almost two decades old that has proved a catastrophe. Keep heading backward through the Vietnam and Korean Wars and the last time the U.S. military was truly victorious was in 1945.

But achieving victory no longer seems to matter. War American-style is now conceptually unending, as are preparations for it. When George W. Bush proclaimed a Global War on Terror (aka World War IV ), conceived as a “generational struggle” like the Cold War, he caught a certain American reality. In a sense, the ongoing war system can’t absorb victory. Any such endpoint might indeed prove to be a kind of defeat.

No longer has war anything to do with the taking of territory either, or even with direct conquest. War is increasingly a state of being, not a process with a beginning, an end, and an actual geography.

Similarly drained of its traditional meaning has been the word “security” — though it has moved from a state of being (secure) to an eternal, immensely profitable process whose endpoint is unachievable. If we ever decided we were either secure enough, or more willing to live without the unreachable idea of total security, the American way of war and the national security state would lose much of their meaning. In other words, in our world, security is insecurity.

Read The Complete Essay

The Disease of Permanent War

Another incisive piece by one of the current warfare state’s most observant of critics, Chris Hedges.

The embrace by any society of permanent war is a parasite that devours the heart and soul of a nation. Permanent war extinguishes liberal, democratic movements. It turns culture into nationalist cant. It degrades and corrupts education and the media, and wrecks the economy. It is the crude, terrifying tirade of mediocrities who find their identities and power in the perpetuation of permanent war.


Citizens in a state of permanent war are bombarded with the insidious militarized language of power, fear and strength that mask an increasingly brittle reality. The corporations behind the doctrine of permanent war—who have corrupted Leon Trotsky’s doctrine of permanent revolution—must keep us afraid. Fear stops us from objecting to government spending on a bloated military. Fear means we will not ask unpleasant questions of those in power. Fear means that we will be willing to give up our rights and liberties for security. Fear keeps us penned in like domesticated animals.

Melman, who coined the term permanent war economy   to characterize the American economy, wrote that since the end of the Second World War, the federal government has spent more than half its tax dollars on past, current and future military operations. It is the largest single sustaining activity of the government. The military-industrial establishment is a very lucrative business. It is gilded corporate welfare. Defense systems are sold before they are produced. Military industries are permitted to charge the federal government for huge cost overruns. Massive profits are always guaranteed. 

Read The Full Article In Truthdig

The Afghan Scam: The Untold Story of Why the US is Bound to Fail in Afghanistan

Good article detailing why the whole military exercise in Afghanistan and Iraq are failing. It is sad to have to relay this kind of ‘negative’ news, but the fact is the entire escapade in those nations has been flawed from the get go, because the true agenda and underlying reasons for them were disingenuous, and when actual motivations don’t correspond with the rhetoric and publicly stated purposes, you get these kinds of result.

The Bush administration perpetrated a scam. It used the system it set up to dispense reconstruction aid to both the countries it ‘liberated,’ Afghanistan and Iraq, to transfer American taxpayer dollars from the national treasury directly into the pockets of private war profiteers. Think of Halliburton, Bechtel and Blackwater in Iraq; Louis Berger Group, Bearing Point and DynCorp International in Afghanistan. They’re all in it together. So far, the Bush administration has bamboozled Americans about its shady aid program. Nobody talks about it. Yet the aid scam, which would be a scandal if it weren’t so profitable for so many, explains far more than does troop strength about why, today, we are on the verge of watching the whole Afghan enterprise go belly up.


It’s hard to overstate the magnitude of the failure of American reconstruction in Afghanistan. While the U.S. has occupied the country — for seven years and counting — and efficiently set up a network of bases and prisons, it has yet to restore to Kabul, the capital, a mud brick city slightly more populous than Houston, a single one of the public services its citizens used to enjoy. When the Soviets occupied Afghanistan in the 1980s, they modernized the education system and built power plants, dams, factories, and apartment blocs, still the most coveted in the country. If, in the last seven years, George W. Bush did not get the lights back on in the capital, or the water flowing, or dispose of the sewage or trash, how can we assume Barack Obama will do any better with the corrupt system he’s about to inherit?


There are other peculiar features of American development aid. Nearly half of it (47%) goes to support “technical assistance.” Translated, that means overpaid American “experts,” often totally unqualified — somebody’s good old college buddies — are paid handsomely to advise the locals on matters ranging from office procedures to pesticide use, even when the Afghans neither request nor welcome such advice. By contrast, the universally admired aid programs of Sweden and Ireland allocate only 4% and 2% respectively to such technical assistance, and when asked, they send real experts. American technical advisors, like American privateers, are paid by checks — big ones — that pass directly from the federal treasury to private accounts in American banks, thus helping to insure that about 86 cents of every dollar designated for U.S. “foreign” aid anywhere in the world never leaves the U.S.A.

Read The Full Report of this sad, sorry tale.

Why We Love America’s Outrageous War Economy

Sad but unfortunately accurate analysis by Paul Farrell in MarketWatch.

Americans passively zone out playing video war games. We nod at 90-second news clips of Afghan war casualties and collateral damage in Georgia. We laugh at Jon Stewart’s dark comedic news and Ben Stiller’s new war spoof “Tropic Thunder” … all the while silently, by default, we’re cheering on our leaders as they aggressively expand “America’s Outrageous War Economy,” a relentless machine that needs a steady diet of war after war, feeding on itself, consuming our values, always on the edge of self-destruction.

— Why else are Americans so eager and willing to surrender 54% of their tax dollars to a war machine, which consumes 47% of the world’s total military budgets?

— Why are there more civilian mercenaries working for no-bid private war contractors than the total number of enlisted military in Iraq (180,000 to 160,000), at an added cost to taxpayers in excess of $200 billion and climbing daily?


We’ve lost our moral compass: The contrast between today’s leaders and the 56 signers of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 shocks our conscience. Today war greed trumps morals. During the Revolutionary War our leaders risked their lives and fortunes; many lost both.

Today it’s the opposite: Too often our leaders’ main goal is not public service but a ticket to building a personal fortune in the new “America’s Outrageous War Economy,” often by simply becoming a high-priced lobbyist.

Ultimately, the price of our greed may be the fulfillment of Kevin Phillips’ warning in “Wealth and Democracy:” “Most great nations, at the peak of their economic power, become arrogant and wage great world wars at great cost, wasting vast resources, taking on huge debt, and ultimately burning themselves out.”

Read The Full Article

War Profits Trump The Rule of Law

December 26th, 2006 by Andy in Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action

Of course they do. That is an indespensible factor in why wars happen in the first place (at the very least speaking in the current nation-state, corporate state era). Wars would not be initiated by the ruling elites if they had not calculated profit from them.

Slush funds, oil sheiks, prostitutes, Swiss banks, kickbacks, blackmail, bagmen, arms deals, war plans, climbdowns, big lies and Dick Cheney - it’s a scandal that has it all, corruption and cowardice at the highest levels, a festering canker at the very heart of world politics, where the War on Terror meets the slaughter in Iraq. Yet chances are you’ve never heard about it - even though it happened just a few days ago.

But here’s how the deal went down. On December 14, the UK attorney general, Lord Goldsmith (Pete Goldsmith as was, before his longtime crony Tony Blair raised him to the peerage), peremptorily shut down a two-year investigation by the Serious Fraud Office (SFO) into a massive corruption case involving Britain’s biggest military contractor and members of the Saudi royal family. SFO bulldogs had just forced their way into the holy of holies of the great global back room - Swiss bank accounts - when Pete pulled the plug. Continuing with the investigation, said His Lordship, “would not be in the national interest.”

It certainly wasn’t in the interest of BAE Systems, the British arms merchant that has become one of the top 10 US military firms as well, through its voracious acquisitions during the profitable War on Terror - including some juicy hook-ups with the Carlyle Group, the former corporate crib of George H.W. Bush and George W. Bush and still current home of the family fixer, James Baker. BAE director Phillip Carroll is also quite at home in the White House inner circle: a former chairman of Shell Oil, he was tapped by George II to be the first “Senior Adviser to the Iraqi Ministry of Oil” in those heady “Mission Accomplished” days of 2003. BAE has allegedly managed to “disappear” approximately $2 billion in shavings from one of the largest and longest-running arms deals in history - the UK-Saudi warplane program known as “al-Yamanah” (Arabic for “The Dove”). Al-Yamanah has been flying for 18 years now, with periodic augmentations, pumping almost $80 billion into BAE’s coffers, with negotiations for $12 billion in additional planes now nearing completion. SFO investigators had followed the missing money from the deal into a network of Swiss bank accounts and the usual Enronian web of offshore front companies.

What is really shameful about all of this is the fact that a terror-sponsor state of oligarchic despots has our foreign policy, our entire national well-being, wrapped in the palm of its dirty little autocratic hands. These dictators are, of course, long time family friends and associates of another crime family, the Bush family. And to think that people continue to support the current American political elites as somehow being for ‘national security.’

Read The Complete Article

And then there is this new evidence of political manipulation to create a war in Iraq from the Australian side of things.

On February 27, 2002 - just five months after 15 Saudis, 2 Lebanese, and 2 Yemenis flew airplanes into US buildings - Trevor Flugge, who was then chairman of AWB, the Australian Wheat Board, a private corporation, told AWB’s board that John Dauth, who was then Australia’s ambassador to the United Nations, had revealed to Flugge the plans of the US and Australian governments for war on Iraq. Tragically for war profiteers everywhere, somebody took minutes of the meeting.

Read about those minutes Here

For more on this, I recommend Gen. Smedley Butler’s timeless tract “War Is A Racket”

Monsanto & The Military and Intervention In South America

November 17th, 2006 by Andy in Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action

There is a reason why its called the ‘military-industrial complex’. You’re looking at one of them right here (albeit one of its less-publicized manifestations).

Monsanto Teams Up with the U.S. Military to Force Genetically Engineered Soybeans on Paraguay
GM Watch Daily
July 23, 2006

The US military are establishing bases and new collaborations with the Paraguayan military.  Many ask why.

With the excuse of fighting terrorism, the presence of these forces in a US friendly territory may yet give some measure of discomfort to the neighboring governments of Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay and Bolivia, all of whom continue to build opposition to US hegemony in the hemisphere.

One thing is clear, however: internal military and paramilitary repression has found an immediate use in promoting the spread of GMO soy.  Herbicide resistant transgenic soy has brought to this South American region a form of agriculture that is incompatible with campesino or indigenous ways of life. Instead of changing agriculture to fit people, the landscape is being cleansed through violence to make it fit mechanized, high-input, monoculture soybean production.  National armies are now protecting GMO, export-oriented soybean plants against the diverse ecosystems of the region, but also against the citizens of those countries who insist on rejecting them.  Infusing the CIA and the US military into this formula simply adds deadly power to an already raging fire.

In reading these news, one should not forget that the international market for soybeans is being artificially inflated, not least by the new craze to exploit globalized sources of biofuels.

So it is that the Pentagon is finding a new cause in common with environmentalists.

For more on this ongoing development, check out The US Military Descends on Paraguay by Benjamin Dangl in The Nation

Soldiers Die, CEOs Prosper

September 3rd, 2006 by Andy in Perpetual War For a Perpetual Piece of The Action

This brings an enhanced meaning to the term ‘making a killing.’

The litany of US mistakes and excessive force has the Pentagon commissioning at least two secret strategy studies in Afghanistan and Iraq. “This is a struggle for the soul of the Army,” said Colonel Peter Mansoor, the head of the Army and Marine Corps Counterinsurgency Center.

Just as odorous, a mountain of corporate cash grows next to the piles of bodies. In this bizarre war where Iraqi civilians fear both suicide bombers and the United States, the biggest sacrifice that President Bush asked of American civilians was to get on a plane and show those terrorists a thing or two by going to Disney World.

Defense contractors took that request to a logical extreme. They built their own fantasy land.

There is no evidence of a contractor having a soul in the 13th annual Executive Excess CEO survey by the Institute for Policy Studies, a progressive think tank, and the Boston-based United for a Fair Economy. The report found that 34 defense CEOs have been paid nearly $1 billion since the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

As soldiers have died in displaying personal patriotism, the pay gap between soldiers and defense CEOs has exploded. Before 9/11, the gap between CEOs of publicly traded companies and army privates was already a galling 190 to 1. Today, it is 308 to 1. The average army private makes $25,000 a year. The average defense CEO makes $7.7 million.

As Chalmers Johnson said, when war becomes this profitable, you are going to see a lot more of it.

Read the complete Boston Globe editorial

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