Thursday, July 29, 2010

"War is the Business of America"

Down To The Last Trillion in Red Ink:
US Treasury Running on Fumes

By Paul Craig Roberts

July 27, 2010 "Information Clearing House" --The White House is screaming like a stuck pig. WikiLeaks’ release of the Afghan War Documents “puts the lives of our soldiers and our coalition partners at risk.”

What nonsense. Obama’s war puts the lives of American soldiers at risk, and the craven puppet state behavior of “our partners” in serving as US mercenaries is what puts their troops at risk.

Keep in mind that it was someone in the US military that leaked the documents to WikiLeaks. This means that there is a spark of rebellion within the Empire itself.

And rightly so. The leaked documents show that the US has committed numerous war crimes and that the US government and military have lied through their teeth in order to cover up the failure of their policies. These are the revelations that Washington wants to keep secret.

If Obama cared about the lives of our soldiers, he would not have sent them to a war, the purpose of which he cannot identify. Earlier in his regime, Obama admitted that he did not know what the mission was in Afghanistan. He vowed to find out what the mission was and to tell us, but he never did. After being read the riot act by the military/security complex, which recycles war profits into political campaign contributions, Obama simply declared the war to be “necessary.” No one has ever explained why the war is necessary.

The government cannot explain why the war is necessary, because it is not necessary to the American people. Any necessary reason for the war has to do with the enrichment of narrow private interests and with undeclared agendas. If the agendas were declared and the private interests being served identified, even the American sheeple might revolt.

The Obama regime has made war the business of America. Escalation in Afghanistan has gone hand in hand with drone attacks on Pakistan and the use of proxy forces to conduct wars in Pakistan and North Africa. Currently, the US is conducting provocative naval exercises off the coasts of China and North Korea and instigating war between Columbia and Venezuela in South America. Former CIA director Michael Hayden declared on July 25 that an attack on Iran seems unavoidable.

With the print and TV media captive, why doesn’t Washington simply tell us that the country is at war without going to the trouble of war? That way the munitions industry can lay off its workers and put the military appropriations directly into profits. We could avoid the war crimes and wasted lives of our soldiers.

The US economy and the well-being of Americans are being sacrificed to the regime’s wars. The states are broke and laying off teachers. Even “rich” California, formerly touted as “the seventh largest economy in the world,” is reduced to issuing script and cutting its state workers’ pay to the minimum wage.

Supplemental war appropriations have become routine affairs, but the budget deficit is invoked to block any aid to Americans--but not to Israel. On July 25 the Israeli newspaper, Haaretz, reported that the US and Israel had signed a multi-billion dollar deal for Boeing to provide Israel with a missile system.

Americans can get no help out of Washington, but the US ambassador to the UN, Susan Rice, declared that Washington’s commitment to Israel’s security is “not negotiable.” Washington’s commitment to California and to the security of the rest of us is negotiable. War spending has run up the budget deficit, and the deficit precludes any help for Americans.

With the US bankrupting itself in wars, America’s largest creditor, China, has taken issue with America’s credit rating. The head of China’s largest credit rating agency declared: “The US is insolvent and faces bankruptcy as a pure debtor nation.” (Editor's bold emphasis throughout)

On July 12, Niall Ferguson, an historian of empire, warned that the American empire could collapse suddenly from weakness brought on by its massive debts and that such a collapse could be closer than we think.

Deaf, dumb, and blind, Washington policymakers prattle on about “thirty more years of war.”


Pentagon Papers’ Ellsberg weighs in on WikiLeaks

John Nichols,
Capital Times associate editor | Posted: Tuesday, July 27, 2010 6:23

The Obama White House was quick to condemn the publication Sunday evening of more than 91,000 secret documents detailing the monumentally misguided and frequently failed attempt by the United States to occupy Afghanistan.

National Security Adviser James Jones took the lead in attacking the whistle-blowing website WikiLeaks for making the details of the war available to the American people -- who are, ultimately, supposed to define the direction of U.S. foreign policy -- by declaring: “The United States strongly condemns the disclosure of classified information by individuals and organizations which could put the lives of Americans and our partners at risk, and threaten our national security.”

Despite the fact that the Afghan War Diary records, which are being published by the New York Times, The Guardian and Der Speigel, detail the mess in Afghanistan, and point to the bigger mess that will be made if the occupation is expanded as the Obama administration proposes, Jones offered a classic don’t-confuse-us-with-the-facts response to the release. “These irresponsible leaks will not impact our ongoing commitment to deepen our partnerships with Afghanistan and Pakistan; to defeat our common enemies; and to support the aspirations of the Afghan and Pakistani people.”

The echo you are hearing is that of the Nixon administration responding to the publication of the Pentagon Papers in 1971.

We can only hope that Obama and his aides have read enough history to recognize that Nixon’s over-reaction to the Pentagon Papers began a process that would lead -- at least in part -- to a House Judiciary Committee vote to impeach him, and to the only presidential resignation in the country’s history.

It happens that, on the eve of the publication of the Afghanistan logs, I was with Daniel Ellsberg, the prime player in the release of the Pentagon Papers. We were in Cleveland at the Progressive Democrats of America conference, where a terrific documentary on Ellsberg, “The Most Dangerous Man in America,” was screened, and I then interviewed the man who exposed the truth about the Vietnam War.

Ellsberg is a fan of WikiLeaks in particular and whistle-blowers in general. He argues that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange “is serving our democracy and serving our rule of law precisely by challenging the secrecy regulations, which are not laws in most cases, in this country.”

Of Obama administration attacks on Assange and others, and the administration’s broader crackdown on whistle-blowers, Ellsberg says wryly: “That’s not the kind of change I voted for when I voted for him.”

What’s the right response from officials who take seriously their oaths to obey a Constitution that places all power with the people -- and that necessarily requires that the people get information about wars being waged in their name but without their informed consent?

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry, D-Mass., did a whole lot better than the administration.

“However illegally these documents came to light, they raise serious questions about the reality of America’s policy toward Pakistan and Afghanistan,” said Kerry, whose discomfort with the Afghanistan operation has grown increasingly evident. “Those policies are at a critical stage and these documents may very well underscore the stakes and make the calibrations needed to get the policy right more urgent.”

Kerry should hold hearings with regard to the Afghan War Diary.

Other members of the House and Senate should respond as the late Vermont Republican Sen. George Aiken did to the publication of the Pentagon Papers -- with an objection that “for a long time, the executive branch has tended to regard Congress as a foreign enemy -- to be told as little as possible,” Aiken charged.

Already, there are those who are trying to distinguish between the Pentagon Papers case and the Afghan War Diary. The Washington Post’s Walter Pincus argues that we all should “pause for a moment before accepting the comparison that WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange makes between his release of more than 90,000 secret military documents about the Afghan fighting to that of the Pentagon Papers back in 1971.”

Pincus makes a credible point. Of course there are differences in content, and the character of that content, in the timing of the release and the identities of those responsible for the leaks.

But there is a fundamental similarity that makes Assange right when he tells The Guardian: “The nearest analogue is the Pentagon Papers that exposed how the United States was prosecuting the war in Vietnam.”

Ellsberg said in 1971, when he surrendered to authorities who planned to try him: “I felt that as an American citizen, as a responsible citizen, I could no longer cooperate in concealing this information from the American public.” Ellsberg’s argument was that the oaths he had sworn as a Marine and a military analyst were to the Constitution, a document that Jefferson said in his first inaugural address is best defended by “the diffusion of information and the arraignment of all abuses at the bar of public reason.”

WikiLeaks says today: “We believe that transparency in government activities leads to reduced corruption, better government and stronger democracies. All governments can benefit from increased scrutiny by the world community, as well as their own people. We believe this scrutiny requires information.”

Ellsberg has frequently noted “immediate parallels” between the people who these days provide information about the Iraq and Afghanistan occupations to WikiLeaks and the leaking he did during the Vietnam War to the New York Times.

Those who get the truth to the American people, Ellsberg says, “(show) better judgment in putting it out than the people who keep it secret from the American people.”


U.S. Congress Passes $59 Bn Afghan War Funding Bill
7/28/2010 6:51 AM ET

(RTTNews) - The U.S. Congress on Tuesday approved $59 billion to pay for troop increase in Afghanistan and other emergency spending, sending the bill for President Barack Obama's signature.

The bill includes $37.1 billion to pay for military operations in Afghanistan and Iraq, $2.9 billion for earthquake relief in Haiti and other money for domestic programs. Provisions not related to the war brought the bill total to nearly $59 billion.

The new funding is on top of the $130 billion Congress already approved for Afghanistan and Iraq this year. The Congress has appropriated over 1 trillion dollars for the two unpopular wars since 2001.

House Democrats initially included $20 billion in domestic spending to the measure, but the Senate stripped it out, a process that took several weeks.

The House of Representatives approved the spending measure with a 308 to 114 vote after it passed the Senate earlier. While 102 Democrats, who have stalled the measure for months, voted against the bill, 160 Republicans supported it despite their frequent opposition to Obama's policies.

The Democrats, who want a more definitive timetable for withdrawing troops, in their opposition to the measure said the country should be addressing pressing needs at home rather than a futile conflict thousands of miles away.

Rep. Barbara Lee (D., Calif.), who chairs the Congressional Black Caucus said Congress could not continue to write a blank check for a war in Afghanistan that had ultimately made our county less safe.

"What has changed in my mind is I am so discouraged at the chances of our commitment in Afghanistan succeeding that I think it's time to say, no more," said Congressman Henry A. Waxman.

Senator Russ Feingold said the House vote showed growing concern with the President's flawed Afghan strategy.

"Unfortunately, the outcome of this vote means this war will continue to cost billions of taxpayer dollars, and more importantly, more American lives, for a strategy that is counterproductive in our global fight against al-Qaeda," he said.

He said rather than adding billions to the deficit for an open-ended war in Afghanistan, the administration should set a flexible timetable for ending US' massive and open-ended military presence in Afghanistan.

The growing number of Democrats opposing funding-- double the number who voted down a similar measure last year-- illustrates the widening divide between Obama and members of his party about Afghanistan, The Washington Post said.

However, Congressman Howard P 'Buck' McKeon, the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee who backed the war funding, said he was confident General David Petraeus and his men would succeed in Afghanistan, if given the time, space and resources they needed.

"By passing this supplemental, we can continue funding a counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan: a clear strategy after years of neglect under President Bush, and a strategy that can prevent Afghanistan from re-emerging as a terrorist-dominated state that poses a threat to the American people," said Senate Majority Leader Steny H Hoyer.

Asserting that under President Obama's renewed focus on Afghanistan, the United States has killed or captured hundreds of terrorist leaders, including much of the top leadership of al-Qaeda and the Taliban, Hoyer said the President, at the same time, had also committed us to a clear time-frame to evaluate the effectiveness of our efforts and to change our approach if it proved ineffective.

"The President is taking a wise and balanced approach in Afghanistan, and it deserves our support. The supplemental also funds our troops as they make a responsible redeployment from Iraq, allowing the Iraqi government to stand on its own two feet," he added.

"The delay in passing this legislation was caused by one thing and only one thing—the House Democratic majority's continuing and unwavering appetite for spending," said Rep. Jerry Lewis (R., Calif.), the top Republican on the Appropriations Committee.

The funds were requested in February, and the Pentagon warned Congress that it would run out of money for the wars by August if money was not appropriated by then.