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Archive for the ‘war’ Category

Militarized Conservatism and End(s) of Higher Education

Tuesday 5 April 2011
by: Henry A. Giroux, Truthout

The Pathologies of War

There can be little doubt that America has become a permanent warfare state.(1) Not only is it waging a war in three countries, but its investment in military power is nearly as much as all of the military budgets of every other country in the world combined. The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute states, “The USA’s military spending accounted for 43 per cent of the world total in 2009, followed by China with 6.6 per cent; France with 4.3 per cent and the UK with 3.8 per cent.”(2) The conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost Americans a staggering $1 trillion to date, second only in inflation-adjusted dollars to the $4 trillion price tag for World War II.”(3) Pentagon spending for 2011 will be more than $700 billion. To make matters worse, as Tom Englehardt points out, “We dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second. We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces and the weaponry of war than the next 25 countries combined (and that’s without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs).”(4) Moreover, the United States maintains a massive ring of military bases and global presence around the world, occupying “over 560 bases and other sites abroad”(5) and deploying over 300,000 troops abroad, “even as our country finds itself incapable of paying for basic services.”(6) In spite of how much military expenditures drain much-needed funds from social programs, the military budget is rarely debated in Congress or a serious object of discussion among the public. Rather than avoid squandering resources and human lives on foreign wars, we avoid “the realities and costs of war.”(7)

War is now normalized even as the United States becomes more militarized, moving closer to a national security state at home and an imperial/policing power abroad. Military historian Andrew Bacevich is right in arguing, “The misleadingly named Department of Defense serves in fact as a Ministry of Global Policing.”(8) War has become central to American character, but what is often unacknowledged is that its perpetual wars abroad are increasingly matched by a number of wars being waged on the domestic front. Such a disconnect becomes clear in the refusal of politicians, anti-public intellectuals and the general public to acknowledge how the federal deficit has been run up by our military adventures. As Frank Rich argues, “The cultural synergy between the heedless irresponsibility we practiced in Iraq and our economic collapse at home could not be more naked. The housing bubble, inflated by no-money-down mortgage holders on Main Street and high-risk gamblers on Wall Street, was fueled by the same greedy disregard for the laws of fiscal gravity that governed the fight-now-play later war[s]” in Iraq and Afghanistan and more recently in Libya.(9) Similarly, as the spirit of a hyper-militarized America bleeds into everyday life, politics increasingly becomes an extension of war, and right-wing, liberal and conservative politicians eagerly embrace a militaristic approach to policy and the need to cleanse the social order of any institution, mode of dissent, social group and public sphere willing to question its state of permanent war and its militarized and unchecked embrace of economic Darwinism. These foreign and domestic wars are not unrelated, given that they are waged in the interests of right-wing militarists, neoconservatives, liberals and corporate moguls – all of whom have a political and economic stake in such military incursions abroad and wars at home. Wars make the economic elite even richer just as they undermine civil liberties, public services and public dissent. A hyper-militarized America has not only fueled violations of executive power, it has also promoted armed conflicts that are directly related to an economic crisis that has produced a wave of political extremism in the United States, while furthering the rise of a punishing state that places the burdens of the current economic crisis on the backs of the poor. We seem to have no trouble in spending money for the production of organized violence designed to kill people, but we have little money to spend on education, health care, or other serious social problems facing the United States. As one educational journal pointed out:

This juxtaposition of robust war spending and inadequate support for education highlights the moral bankruptcy of political and economic leaders who seem to find endless piles of money to kill people abroad but not much to educate them at home. And, of course, the relationship is plain: The more dollars spent on war, the fewer available for human needs – whether alternative energy, food stamps, in-home elder care, public libraries or keeping teachers in their classrooms.(10)

MORE HERE

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Bill Kristol gets a war boner

Crooks and Liars- By Brad Reed
March 21, 2011 03:05 PM

One of the many depressing aspects of Obama’s horrific decision to start a third simultaneous war with a Muslim-majority nation is that it’s providing endless pangs of pleasure to Bill Kristol. After all, America’s Chickenhawk-in-Chief hasn’t been able to watch other people risk their asses invading a sovereign country since 2003 and he’s just as thrilled and excited about this latest adventure as you’d expect him to be:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

No, seriously. That’s how Kristol actually starts out his column. Read it again:

And so, despite his doubts and dithering, President Obama is taking us to war in another Muslim country. Good for him.

It’s hard for most of us to comprehend the sort of vile vampiric scumbag who relishes the thought of having his country go to war in three different countries at the same time, but that’s pretty much how Bill Kristol rolls. I wonder what would happen if America successfully invaded the entire world — whatever would Kristol do to pleasure himself? Perhaps he’d recommend sending our entire army into the depths of the Pacific Ocean to launch a long-overdue war against the lost city of Atlantis. Those shifty Mermen have had it coming for a long time, after all.

More:

The president didn’t want this. He’s been so unhappy about such a possibility—so fearful of such an eventuality—that first he tied himself in knots trying to do nothing. Then he decided that, if he had to act, it would be good to boast that he was merely following the Arab League and subordinating American action to the U.N. Security Council. After all, nothing—nothing!—could be worse than the perception that the United States was “invading” another Muslim country.

Yeah, where the hell did we get this stigma about “invading” Muslim countries from? It’s not like anyone’s ever died from such “invasions” before. Why, you’d think it was as bad as trying to give people health insurance!

In all seriousness, Kristol is just happy to be starting another war, since apparently the Afghanistan conflict has gotten so BOE-RING! The one downer for him is that Obama bothered to get the UN’s permission to attack Libya rather than going all in and giving other countries the finger like Bush did. Kristol is at his absolute happiest when our country is both at war and defying the will of the international community. But he’ll happily take the war all the same.

Rubbish. Our “invasions” have in fact been liberations.

They have liberated many people from their lives, yes.

We have shed blood and expended treasure in Kuwait in 1991, in the Balkans later in the 1990s, and in Afghanistan and Iraq—in our own national interest, of course, but also to protect Muslim peoples and help them free themselves. Libya will be America’s fifth war of Muslim liberation.

It’s amazing that after five glorious wars, the Middle East isn’t yet a mecca of sunshine, lollipops, rainbows and everything that’s wonderful that I feel when we’re together. But of course, there’s always the option of starting a sixth war, which I’m sure will make everything better.

[T]he Reagan tradition—indeed, the Reagan-Bush-Dole-Bush-McCain tradition—in foreign policy isn’t a burden to be borne. It’s a tradition to be proud of. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for more than a partial interest, for more than a limited point of view. It’s rare that a political party gets to stand for the national interest, for national greatness, for the exceptional American role in the liberation of peoples around the globe.

I’m amazed that Kristol can’t type this crap without God coming down from the heavens, striking Kristol down with all manner of lightning and saying, “I didst err when I made thee, vile spawn of darkness!” In case Bill hasn’t noticed, we’re facing massive cuts to public education, to social safety net programs and even to services as basic as public street lights. And yet Kristol thinks we should sacrifice all of these things on his bloody altar of permanent warfare.

Thanks for aiding his agenda, Obama!

SOURCE

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By Rick Rozoff, opednews.com, Dec 23, 2010

On December 22 both houses of the U.S. Congress unanimously passed a bill authorizing $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget.

The bill, the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011, was approved by all 100 senators as required and by a voice vote in the House.

The House had approved the bill, now sent to President Barack Obama to sign into law, five days earlier in a 341-48 roll call, but needed to vote on it again after the Senate altered it in the interim.

The proposed figure for the Pentagon’s 2011 war chest includes, in addition to the base budget, $158.7 billion for what are now euphemistically referred to as overseas contingency operations: The military occupation of Iraq and the war in Afghanistan.

The $725 billion figure, although $17 billion more than the White House had requested, is not the final word on the subject, however, as supplements could be demanded as early as the beginning of next year, especially in regard to the Afghan war that will then be in its eleventh calendar year.

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Eric Margolis, The Huffington Post, Dec 20, 2010

After nine years of war in Afghanistan, costing over $100 billion in taxpayer money and 700 American lives, the full truth about this murky conflict remains elusive.

The government and media have colluded to paint the picture of a noble, heroic, flag-waving American enterprise in Afghanistan that is, alas, very far from reality. As the cynic Ambrose Bierce pointedly observed of patriots — “the dupe of statesmen; the tool of conquerors.”

Three interesting reports about Afghanistan emerged in Washington last week.

First, a political whitewash issued by the Obama White House claiming the war was going well and some US troops might be withdrawn next year. This ‘don’t worry be happy’ summary was trumpeted by the pro-war New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and other members of the government-friendly US media.

US generals spoke of “progress” in Afghanistan, whatever that means, as US forces conducted a brutal campaign around Kandahar to crush resistance to the occupation and punish communities that supported Taliban.

Second, the Red Cross issued a grim report showing that Afghans were suffering widespread malnutrition and serious health problems after nearly a decade of Western occupation. So much for US-led nation-building.

Third, there were leaks about a new National Intelligence Estimate (NIE), the combined findings of all 16 US intelligence agencies. This key intelligence report is explosive and may not be fully revealed.

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The Indypendent

131 Arrested at Veteran-Led Civil Resistance to Wars at the White House Dec. 16

By Ellen Davidson
December 16, 2010 | Posted in Ellen Davidson , IndyBlog

Veterans For Peace board member Elliott Adams chained himself to the White House fence with a bicycle lock Dec. 16. Photo: ELLEN DAVIDSONAfter a 10 a.m. rally in Lafeyette Park featuring Daniel Ellsberg of Pentagon Papers fame, retired CIA officer Ray McGovern, Dr. Margaret Flowers of Physicians for a National Health Program, and others, activists formed a solemn single-file process to the White House, silent except for a drum beat. There, they encountered police barricades. Some veterans began climbing over the barricades, until the police opened them up, allowing people to approach the fence in front of the White House.

As the light snow increased to heavy and began accumulating, activists kept warm by singing and chanting. At about 12:30, police began arresting protesters who remained along the fence, while supporters who did not want to risk arrest were moved across the broad street. Some of the demonstrators stood in the snow and freezing temperatures for nearly four hours before being taken to Anacostia processing center and released. They have all since been released. Some have elected to pay a fine, while others, including Ellsberg and McGovern, will go to trial on the charge of disobeying a lawful order.

Video from Huffington Post, who did good coverage of this. A google search showed plenty of web traffic, but very little main stream media,
, who did good coverage of this. A google search showed plenty of web traffic, but very little main stream media,

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by Tom Engelhardt, TomDispatch.com, Dec 7, 2010

America’s heroes?  Not so much.  Not anymore.  Not when they’re dead, anyway.

Remember as the invasion of Iraq was about to begin, when the Bush administration decided to seriously enforce a Pentagon ban, in existence since the first Gulf War, on media coverage and images of the American dead arriving home at Dover Air Force Base in Delaware?  In fact, the Bush-era ban did more than that.  As the Washington Post’s Dana Milbank wrote then, it “ended the public dissemination of such images by banning news coverage and photography of dead soldiers’ homecomings on all military bases.”

For those whose lives were formed in the crucible of the Vietnam years, including the civilian and military leadership of the Bush era, the dead, whether ours or the enemy’s, were seen as a potential minefield when it came to antiwar opposition or simply the loss of public support in the opinion polls.  Admittedly, many of the so-called lessons of the Vietnam War were often based on half-truths or pure mythology, but they were no less powerful or influential for that.

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by Robert Greenwald and Derrick Crowe, The Huffington Post,  Dec 5, 2010

When asked by USA Today‘s pollsters last week, sixty-eight percent of Americans said we worry that the cost of the Afghanistan War hurts our ability to fix problems here in the U.S. This week, we learned just how right we were about that. Friday’s terrible jobs report shows that a crushing 9.8 percent of us are unemployed. And, millions of us are about to lose our lifeline because Congress refuses to extend unemployment insurance benefits. We’re spending $2 billion per week — per week! — in Afghanistan while millions of people face going hungry during the holidays.

Do our elected officials not get it? We’re drowning out here, and the administration is throwing money that could put Americans back to work at a failed war on the other side of the planet. In fact, that’s where the president was when the jobs report came out this morning — in Afghanistan, talking about “progress” again.

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