Wednesday, May 30, 2012

how much does washington spend on "defense"?

tomdispatch | As the country’s big wars on the Eurasian continent wind down, American war-making and war preparations fly ever more regularly under the radar. There has, for instance, been much discussion about the Obama administration’s policy “pivot” to Asia -- the only warlike act in the region so far has, however, been a little noted drone strike in the Philippines. At the same time, remarkably little attention has been paid to a massive build-up of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, and -- though both seem to be underway (and connected) -- who talks about the “pivot” to the Western Indian Ocean or the “pivot” to Africa?

For those keeping a careful eye out, U.S. drone (and air) bases in the region have been proliferating -- in the Seychelles Islands, in Ethiopia, and at an unidentified site on the Arabian peninsula, among other places. Recently, however, Wired’s Danger Room website reported that an Italian blogger had put the pieces together and offered impressive evidence of a larger war-making effort in the region, involving not only drones but F-15E fighter jets, possibly being used to bomb Yemen. Meanwhile, there are U.S. drone strikes in Yemen almost daily and at least 20 special forces operatives are reportedly now on the ground there, helping direct some of the fighting and even taking casualties.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), set up in 2007, has been gaining clout. In 2011, 100 special operations troops, mainly Green Berets, were moved into Central Africa, officially to aid in the hunting down of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army. Recently, it was reported that a brigade of regular U.S. combat troops will soon be assigned to the command and given training duties throughout the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been organizing a proxy war, supported by drone attacks, against al-Shabab rebels in Somalia, using Ugandan, Kenyan, and other African troops as those proxies. And more’s afoot. It’s just that, if you weren’t an obsessive news watcher, you would have next to no way of knowing that any of this was taking place.

War American-style, already long detached from the lives of most Americans, is growing more so: ever more secret, presidential, and beyond the control of, or accountability to, citizens or Congress. In only one way is this not true: we taxpayers still fork over the massive sums that make our perpetual state of war and war state possible. As Chris Hellman and Mattea Kramer of the invaluable National Priorities Project report, the expense of all this is blowing a hole in your wallet and our treasury. To offer but one small example, if someday soon the Pakistani/Afghan border is reopened to U.S. war supplies, you will be paying the Pakistanis $1,500-$1,800 for every truck that crosses it, at an estimated cost of at least $1 million a day (with other "fees" likely). And yet, it’s remarkable how little Americans know about what’s coming out of their pockets when the subject is “national security,” or where exactly it’s all going. Which is why we need Hellman and Kramer (and their new book, A People’s Guide to the Federal Budget) to keep us in the loop. Tom


makheru bradley said...

A trillion dollar defense/security budget requires endless enemies to justify its raison d’etre.  Thus, when the POTUS says “the Afghan war as we know it is over,” that simply means that new enemies will be manufactured or new reasons will be constructed to rationalize these “demonic, destructive suction tube” defense budgets.

CNu said...

the warsocialist roads must roll...,

makheru bradley said...

Must roll and kill.

Jeremy Scahill is saying the same thing previously articulated by Min. Farrakhan and Noam Chomsky.

The only difference being that Scahill traveled to Yemen to collect eyewitness accounts of a drone strike. I don’t expect that this information will have any impact on Obama’s core supporters. They’ve already morally capitulated on the war issue. There are a group of voters, who were duped by candidate Obama’s carefully crafted rhetoric into voting what they thought would be an antiwar president, that are impacted.       

makheru bradley said...

The Kill List

Double O at work. He strikes like Thunderball!

This is one reason why he's so hated. He's better than THEM at their game.  

makheru bradley said...

Obama's Kill List: Silence Is Not an Option

Indeed, silence is betrayal.