Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘military industrial complex

U.S. Special Operations: The New Face of America’s War Machine

The U.S. military industrial complex does not desire large winnable wars, but “low-intensity” conflicts that last as long as possible. That is how the system retains power, maintains profits, and remains relevant.

With the possible U.S. military withdrawal from Syria in the news on a daily basis, the mainstream media has been quick to parrot the DOD’s claim that 2,000 troops, mostly special operations forces, are to be withdrawn from the country.

Although the total number of U.S. special operators deployed to Syria may have approached as many as 5,000, the current headlines have not mentioned that the United States has special operations units deployed not just in Syria, but in a majority of the nations of the world.

Over the past 17 years, the forces at the disposal of U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) have grown exponentially, more than doubling in size in numbers, with a budget that has also expanded four-fold in that same period of time.

If U.S. SOF troops do pull out of Syria, they will still have a physical presence in over 70 nations on any given day. Although the public has an often vague and incomplete, unofficial explanation of the reasons behind these deployments, the Pentagon seems totally unwilling to explain the national defense rational or legality of these missions to anyone, including the U.S. Congress or the White House.

Not only has SOCOM expanded in numbers, funding and weaponry since 2001 and the advent of the Global War on Terror (GWOT), but has acquired no small amount of political influence as well.

The U.S. special operations forces have become the darling of the military, praised by Congress, the White House, and the Media.

They have willingly adopted a mythos that has been formulated and propagated by Hollywood on many levels. The U.S. public seems to worship this new class of soldier, while having little to no understanding of exactly what they do, nor any concept of how their actions might aid or hinder national security.

An act has even been proposed by one state Representative to afford special income tax breaks to all SOF members.

Amidst all the praise about their prowess and successes on the battlefield, the media purposefully steers clear of reporting on their many failures. Although the U.S. has built the largest force of special operations in the world, this very fact has arguably proven to have only weakened the U.S. military as a whole.

The White House, State Department and Pentagon have increasingly relied on special operations forces to bear the brunt of any and all military operations or covert actions in both acknowledged and secret areas of conflict across the globe. This over-emphasis on special operations as a military solution to all challenges has only weakened traditional, conventional forces.

While most of the public assumes that these new Spartans act to protect U.S. interests and “freedom and democracy” whenever and wherever it is deemed necessary, they have little to no understanding of how the SOF have changed since 2001, nor the increasing military and political influence that they now hold.

Even fewer Americans have stopped to ponder the illegality of much of what this expanding military force is doing on a global scale, not to mention the constitutional implications of a new Praetorian class in its midst that is growing in power and influence. If history teaches us anything, it is that shadowy and unaccountable paramilitary forces do not strengthen societies that embrace democratic or constitutional governments.

The Expansion of SOF and Rise of SOCOM

Since the inception of the “Global War on Terror” shortly following September 11, 2001, U.S. SOF have more than doubled from approximately 33,000 to almost 70,000 today. Today, Special Operations Command (SOCOM) has roughly twice the personnel at its disposal, but also four times the budget as it did in 2001. Joint Special Operations Command (JSOC), comprising perhaps the most elite and specialized of the SOF forces, numbered some 1,800 in 2001.

Although quite secretive in nature, it is surmised by many analysts that JSOC may have grown to the size of SOCOM circa 2001, over the same 18 year period. If realistic, this estimation means that JSOC added its original number of 1,800 men each year, for eighteen years.

What reason was given by the U.S. DOD to justify such an expansion in a traditionally small and highly selective sub-set of conventional military forces? Special operations forces have existed since at least the Second World War.

All major military powers and even smaller nations that have not historically prioritized robust national defense postures have invested in special operations forces to complement conventional military establishments.

Special operations units are useful as a significant force multiplier in any conventional conflict, and are vital in responding to special circumstances such as anti-terrorism, hostage rescue, reconnaissance deep behind enemy lines, sabotage, and kill or capture missions.

Malian special forces listen to instructions from a US Special Forces soldier in Kita, Mali. Alfred de Montesquiou | AP

Malian special forces listen to instructions from a US Special Forces soldier in Kita, Mali. Alfred de Montesquiou | AP

The Pentagon has argued that terrorism has grown, with the number of internationally recognized terrorist organizations roughly doubling from 2001 to today, mostly due to the explosion of both al Qaeda and ISIS. (The creations of USA in Afghanistan and Iraq)

Regardless of the facts that point to the CIA origins of al Qaeda, there is little argument that the organization has grown in concert with U.S. military intervention in the Middle East and Africa.

The same can be said for the origin and spread of ISIS. There is also ample circumstantial evidence to support the theory that the CIA and SOCOM have both, directly and indirectly, supported both of these terrorist organizations in Syria.

Regardless of whether SOCOM is directly or indirectly complicit in aiding the Islamic terrorist organizations it declares it is defending the nation against, there is a clear correlation between the growths of both, and surely SOCOM has benefitted on many levels from this relationship.

The annual declared budget for SOCOM is in the range of $12.3 billion today, up from just $3.1 billion in 2001. There is little doubt that a healthy slice of the annual Overseas Contingency Operations and Support (OCO) budget is consumed by SOCOM, as the organization is the most heavily engaged in operations on foreign soil.

In 2018, U.S. Congress approved $67 billion USD for OCO, and a further $7 billion USD in mandatory appropriations.

It is unclear how much funding SOCOM receives on an annual basis, as the Pentagon has proven to be largely beyond financial questioning or audit by any office of the civilian government. After failing its first audit in decades in 2018, the Pentagon shrugged off the event with humor, and no one seemed to notice.

SOCOM numbers roughly 70,000 soldiers, marines, airmen and sailors and has a declared budget of at least $12.3 billion USD. To put these numbers in perspective, SOCOM has more personnel than the entire national militaries of 120 of the 193 UN member states. Only 20 nations (including the U.S.) have a greater total defense budget than that of SOCOM.

A simple cost-benefit analysis would reveal that the U.S. is not making much headway in “winning” the GWOT militarily. The growth of SOCOM has done little to reduce the prevalence of terrorism in the world. It begs the question, is there any correlation at all, or is there another agenda afoot entirely?

Global Reach and Integration

The expansion in numbers and funding of America’s special operations forces is alarming in its own right, but their growing international footprint may be even more alarming. Not only were U.S. SOF deployed to at least 150 nations last year, but they have established professional alliances with national military in a majority of those nations.

Nick Turse has documented and reported on the growing influence of SOCOM over the past few years, with his articles being widely published in major mainstream periodicals as well as online alternative media. He has established many reliable sources within the SOF community. In regular articles posted on Tom’s Dispatch, Nick has documented the growing influence of SOCOM, its expanding power, and it’s establishing of close ties to the special operations forces of nations across the globe.

It seems quite logical that the main area of focus for these forces immediately prior to the declaration of GWOT in 2001 would be in the Middle East; however, since as early as 2014 the United States began refocusing its deployment of special operations personnel to the African continent.

More recently, since the coup in Ukraine and the civil war that erupted as a result, SOCOM has shifted much of its efforts to Europe. Although the DOD and State Department have stated that such deployments are directly connected to terrorist activities in Africa, in Europe the goal is confronting an “increasingly aggressive and assertive” Russia.

In reality, deployments to Africa are largely responsive to an increased Chinese presence on the continent. Not publicly acknowledged until the official publication of the National Defense Strategy of the United States for 2018, the U.S. establishment had already come to view both Russia and China as the major threats to U.S. global hegemony.

In 2006, deployments to Africa accounted for a mere 1% of U.S. special operations foreign deployments.

By the end of 2017 this number had jumped to almost 17%. What could account for such an increase?

Spokesmen for the DOD have sighted the increased threat of Islamic militant groups such as Boko Haram and al Shabaab and their capability to disrupt and weaken local governments; however, SOCOM has not just deployed forces to Somalia, Libya, Mali, Burkina Faso, Nigeria and Cameroon, the traditional territories of operation of Boko Haram and African offshoots of al Qaeda.

U.S. commandos deployed to 33 African countries in 2017. 61% of the nations of Africa hosted a U.S. special operations military presence to some degree. (But it is China reaping the fruit of investing in Africa)

There is little doubt that terrorist groups such as Boko Haram present a destabilizing threat to African governments whom are hanging on by a threat in their efforts to govern in the best of times, yet there is little evidence to support the idea that the U.S. military is in Africa for altruistic purposes.

The U.S. military, just like the French Military, is increasing its activities in Africa to protect their respective financial interests and maintain influence over African nations, and to increasingly confront the growing influence of China in the region.

Between the years 2009 and 2012, Chinese overseas foreign direct investment (OFDI) grew at an annual rate of 20.5%.

Chinese President Xi Jinping pledged $60 billion USD in investments in Africa at the 4th Annual Investing in China Forum held in Beijing last September.

The United States has often claimed that Chinese financial practices in Africa are predatory in nature. This is quite ironic coming from the country that has a controlling influence over the IMF and World Bank, two financial entities that have been responsible for indebting most of the developing world for the past half century.

Neither nation is in Africa to help poor Africans, but to enrich themselves.

The African continent is rich in rare earth minerals and metals used in the manufacture of modern electronics, batteries, cell phones and computers. China opened its first and largest overseas military base in Djibouti in August of 2017, located in the strategic Horn of Africa.

It is just a stones throw from Camp Lemonnier, the largest U.S. military base on the continent.

In a similar move, China is seeking to build a military base in Afghanistan, another nation rich in rare earth minerals where the U.S. military has struggled to maintain a viable presence for over 18 years.

China plans to base at least one battalion of troops at a newly constructed facility in the northeastern province of Badakhshan, ostensibly to train Afghan security forces.

Located close to the Wakhan Corridor, the base will help provide security to the One Belt One Road trade corridor through the region, and help solidify growing economic and security ties with the Central Asian nation.

Coupled with the base in Djibouti and a planned PLAN naval base at Gwadar, Pakistan, China is establishing a viable defense infrastructure in the region. This directly undercuts long established U.S. interests in the region.

Wakhan Corridor

The Wakhan Corridor is a strategically important mountain pass, the control of which is of utmost importance to the Chinese government in securing the One Belt One Road logistics network

While SOCOM has maintained a sizeable presence in Afghanistan and Africa to confront a growing Chinese presence in Central Asia and Africa, it has also increased operations in the European theatre as well.

In 2006 only 3% of all SOF units were deployed to nations in Europe. By 2018 that percentage had grown to almost 17%. According to a statement made to Tom’s Dispatch, a spokesman for SOCEUR, Major Michael Weisman stated,

Outside of Russia and Belarus we train with virtually every country in Europe either bilaterally of through various multinational events. The persistent presence of U.S. SOF alongside our allies sends a clear message of U.S. commitment to our allies and the defense of our NATO alliance.”

Since the disastrous failure of Petro Poroshenko’s Anti-terrorism Operation (ATO) to subdue the breakaway republics in eastern Ukraine, SOF deployments to nations bordering the Russian Federation have increased notably. As it was detailed in a previous article, SOCOM has established very close ties with Ukrainian special operations forces.

Over the past four years SOCOM has repeatedly deployed forces to Latvia, Estonia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Bulgaria, Moldova, Georgia, and even Finland.

In 2016 alone, U.S. Special Operations Command (SOCOM) conducted no less than 37 Joint Combined Exchange Training (JCET) exercises on the European continent, with 18 such exercises in nations bordering Russia.

Is SOCOM sending a reassuring message to allies, or an ominous message to Russia, the holder of the world’s largest nuclear arsenal? Is it wise defense policy to increasingly surround Russia, and back it into an increasingly tight corner? If Russian political and military leaders have learned one lesson throughout the centuries, it is that the concentration of foreign belligerent military forces on their national borders eventually leads to conflict and invasion.

US Special Forces Map

Not only has SOCOM positioned itself in a majority of the nations across the globe, but increasingly along the borders of the Russian Federation and China

The United States has become deeply entrenched in the conflict in Ukraine, having increased military aid to the ruling regime incrementally from 2014 to the present. After the disastrous Ukrainian Armed Forces winter offensive of 2015, culminating in the encirclement battle of Debaltseve, U.S. military aid kicked into high gear.

Regular rotations of U.S. Army trainers teach UAF troops at the Yavoriv International Peace Keeping and Security Center modern combat skills with an increased emphasis on making the force more NATO interoperable. Ukrainian Special Forces have undergone a clear and striking transformation, and are now nearly indistinguishable from their U.S. and NATO counterparts.

They are now wearing U.S. military issue Operational Camouflage Pattern (OCP) “multicam” battle dress uniforms and gear, and are increasingly using western manufactured firearm accessories, optics, and night vision equipment.

More notably, the UAF special operations units have adopted a number of small arms and sniper weapons systems that utilize NATO standard ammunition such as the 5.56×45 mm intermediate rifle round and the 7.62×51 mm rifle round. Sniper rifles chambered in .308 Winchester and .338 Lapua have also been adopted in limited numbers.

U.S. Navy SEALs | Crimea

U.S. Navy SEALs conduct exercises with the Bulgarian military in the Black Sea in 2018, a clear message to Russia that the U.S. was prepared to escalate asymmetrical warfare targeting the Crimea

Speaking at a GEOInt (Geospatial Intelligence) annual symposium in 2014, former head of SOCOM, General Joseph Votel opined that “We want to be everywhere, know everything.” Clearly, SOCOM has increasingly pushed for the first part of his stated goal in the intervening years; however, the increased focus and funding of special operations over the past 18 years has left the U.S. military’s conventional forces in a state of atrophy and decline.

The U.S. political establishment and military leadership have come to see SOCOM as the go-to solution provider for just about any scenario where military force is seen as an option. This has increased the reputation and clout of SOCOM, but this has increasingly come at the expense and detriment to more traditional conventional forces that chiefly serve the national interests of deterrence and defense.

Conventional Warfare Atrophy

In a detailed analysis posted late last year, “Why the U.S. Military is Woefully Unprepared for a Major Conventional Conflict”, I outlined the causes and effects of the decline in U.S. conventional warfare capabilities. There is undoubtedly a direct correlation between the reliance upon and exponential growth of U.S. special operations forces, and the decline in conventional force readiness and capability.

This is evident in all service branches and has had a negative effect on the ability of the U.S. Armed Forces to carry out future offensive and defensive combat operations against peer adversaries. The U.S. military will have very little hope of achieving decisive military victories in either Russia’s or China’s backyard. Any assertion to the contrary is delusory.

The U.S. military obsession with counterinsurgency and occupation stemming from one U.S. invasion or regime change operation after another, has left a once cutting edge, combined-arms conventional force gutted materially and low in morale. Special operations forces were leveraged in a fight against popular uprisings, Islamic terrorist organizations, and often an alliance between the two.

The overwhelming majority of the growing names on the U.S. enemies list found their genesis as a result of U.S. military adventurism.

These various insurgencies were a direct reaction to heavy-handed U.S. “foreign policy” delivered at the barrel of a gun. The resulting struggles in the so called GWOT depended greatly on an ever expanding pool of special operations forces. SOF were prioritized over other traditional, conventional forces not meant for occupation and not skilled in counterinsurgency.

While the troops at the disposal of SOCOM ballooned to almost 70,000, the U.S. Army has struggled to replace armored vehicles first fielded in the 1960’s, the Navy witnessed the utter deterioration and exhaustion of its carrier air wings, and the Air Force struggled to retain pilots to fly aircraft that fell deeper into a state of disrepair.

Although achieving battlefield successes, the Armed Forces of the United States have yet to decisively win any of the numerous conflicts embarked upon since 2001. The intervening years have revealed the U.S. military of today to be an organization riddled with major material shortcomings and inferiority, while plagued with a leadership lacking sound judgement and brimming with both hubris and an unfounded superiority complex.

This leadership has repeatedly decided to invest in special operations forces that are unable to win wars on their own, at the expense of conventional forces designed solely for that purpose.

Growing Political Power

SOCOM has not restricted its influence to the many battlefields across the globe, or the forging of ties with foreign militaries through training and advisory programs. Just as the CIA has stationed personnel at most U.S. embassies overseas, SOCOM has followed suit.

Special Operations Liaison Officers (SOLO) are stationed at a growing number of embassies, including the NATO member countries the United Kingdom, France, Poland, Italy, Turkey and Canada. SOLOS can also be found in U.S. embassies in Australia, Brazil, Colombia, El Salvador, Peru, Israel, Jordan, and Kenya. SOCOM’s former head, General Joseph Votel, had announced the intention of putting a SOLO is at least forty U.S. embassies around the globe by 2019.

This statement should be viewed with some skepticism, as SOCOM rarely speaks publicly about the extent of their operations and planning, so it is likely that SOLOs are already serving in many more U.S. embassies, especially those located in flash points or trouble spots in Africa, the Middle East, South America, and nations bordering the Russian Federation and China.

Not only should this development be worrying to host nations who may not be inclined to look at a foreign military presence on their soil as acceptable, but it also clearly exhibits closer ties between SOCOM and the Department of State.

Not only has SOCOM fostered closer ties with the Department of State, but with the monolithic U.S. security apparatus as a whole.

In an attempt to “be everywhere and know everything”, SOCOM has moved further away from its subordinate position in the Department of Defense, and pursued a more independent and unaccountable path, similar to that of the CIA or NSA, two organizations that it has increasingly worked closely with. SOCOM has even forged close ties with the Federal Bureau of Investigation, whose prevue is supposed to be limited to U.S. domestic crime investigations and the enforcement of federal laws.

There should be some apprehension at both the Pentagon and in the halls of Congress, of the growing power of this new military within the military. In a constitutional republic that clearly delineates, compartmentalizes, and limits government power, the growth of a largely unaccountable, secretive and influential new military organization should be viewed as a threat to the very foundations of political and social order.

A number of former special operations members have run for political office in recent years and won. While electing retired soldiers into Congress and gubernatorial office will most likely bring a level of restraint to government military adventurism, with those individuals having seen and paid the price for war, there is also a chance that they will steer policy to aid the military industrial complex. The cautionary tale of Governor Eric Greitens is one such example that also signals another problem effecting the special operations community as a whole.

Scandals Tarnish the Mythology

A number of scandals involving U.S. special operations soldiers have hit the headlines in recent years, corresponding with the exponential growth of the force. In an attempt to expand the SOF, the Pentagon seems to have lowered physical, cognitive and moral standards in order to fill the ranks.

The Hollywood-Pentagon alliance that has worked tirelessly to create and perpetuate the image of the invincibility of the Navy Seals, presenting them as modern day Spartans or Praetorians, has run into a minor set-back in recent years. The criminal conduct of the elite of the elite has recently tarnished a once proud and silent fraternity of soldiers.

On June 4, 2017 an Army Special Forces NCO was murdered by two Navy SEALs and two Marines “Raiders” in Mali. The original story put forward was that the soldiers accidentally killed their compatriot in an attempt to scare him into silence. The Green Beret, Staff Sergeant Logan Melgar, had uncovered gross criminal conduct by Chief Petty Officer Adam Matthews and Petty Officer Anthony DeDolph.

The two SEALs had been embezzling money meant to pay off local informants, and had also been bringing local prostitutes back to the small unit’s “secret” safe house . Staff Sergeant Melgar was ambushed in the safe house, beaten and choked to death. It took military investigators roughly a year and a half to finally charge all four perpetrators with felony murder, involuntary manslaughter, conspiracy, obstruction of justice, hazing and burglary.

The investigation found that the men killed Staff Sergeant Melgar while engaged in an act of burglary; however, it is not known if they were attempting to steal back or destroy evidence that the Army Staff Sergeant had collected against them.

Perhaps no better example of the meteoric rise and fall of a former Navy SEAL exists as a greater cautionary tale than that of disgraced former Missouri Governor Eric Greitens.

Greitens had ridden the reputation of the SEALs into fame and political office, only to fall victim to his own despicable criminal mind. Greitens never served in combat and was not highly regarded by most rank and file SEAL members with combat experience.

Many such members speaking off the record, regarded him as an overly ambitious ladder climber that intended to ride the SEAL reputation as far as it would take him. It was largely theorized that before accusations of criminal conduct started coming to the fore, that he fully intended to launch a U.S. presidential campaign. Thankfully, investigations revealed gross corruption in his political dealings and his personal life.

Geitens had been listed as one of the 100 most influential people in the world by Time Magazine in 2013, and made the list of Fortune Magazine’s 50 greatest leaders in 2014. By May 29, 2017 he had resigned from political office in disgrace.

Eric Greitens

A still shot from a gubernatorial commercial promoting Eric Greitens in 2016. Greitens ran on the collective reputation of the SEAL teams, much to the chagrin of many rank and file members

A vocal critic of the new trend in special operations personnel seeking the spotlight and financial gain is Navy SEAL Lieutenant Forrest Crowell, who even wrote his post graduate thesis at the Naval Postgraduate School regarding the issue. While writing a detailed story on Governor Greitens in The New Yorker, Phil Klay summarized Lt. Crowell’s opinion put forward in his thesis:

In it, he argued that the SEALs’ celebrity status had diverted their culture “away from the traditional SEAL Ethos of quiet professionalism to a Market Ethos of commercialization and self-promotion.” Crowell warned that the new approach incentivized “narcissistic and profit-oriented behavior” and undermined healthy civil-military relations by using “the credibility of special operations to push partisan politics. “The people of this nation should be suspicious of SEALs who speak too loudly about themselves,” Crowell wrote.”

Reversing the Trend

Although it remains to be seen whether or not U.S. special operations troops will be withdrawn from Syria or not, it is highly unlikely. The timetable for withdrawal continues to stretch into the future. It is also highly unlikely that SOCOM will reduce its global footprint, slow the tempo of joint military training with foreign military, or request a smaller budget for 2020. Like all U.S. federal government entities, it will promote itself at the expense of all others, and will resist any demands to lessen its power and influence.

President Trump has proven himself either incapable of challenging the military industrial complex, or totally complicit in the aim of that complex to perpetuate endless military conflict. There is very little sign that anyone in either the civilian government or the military leadership of the United States has the integrity or is willing to make the political sacrifice to alter the current course that the U.S. Armed Forces are embarked upon.

The U.S. military has mis-allocated funds and priorities for the past two decades, engaged in misguided and disastrous regime change operations that have cost the nation trillions of dollars and thousands of lives. These military adventures have gutted the armed forces materially and morally.

A generation of Americans have been left scarred physically and mentally. Hundreds of thousands of combatants and civilians in countries across the Middle East and Africa have lost their lives, while millions of refugees have fled the resultant chaos.

By 2019, SOCOM has reached a pinnacle in power and influence within the military industrial complex. It has garnered and fostered an almost mythical status in U.S. society. Yet it has not won and is incapable of winning any conflict that the government of the United States has seen fit to employ it in.

Perhaps that is the very point. Special operations forces deployed across the globe, in almost every country you can imagine can help initiate, maintain and perpetuate conflict as long as the United States stays in a position of relatively unrivaled power in the world.

The U.S. military-industrial complex does not desire large winnable wars, but “low-intensity” conflicts that last as long as possible. That is how the system retains power, maintains profits, and remains relevant.

A strengthened SOCOM, deployed across the planet, establishing relationships with the foreign militaries of most of the world’s nations, and stationed in an ever-growing number of U.S. embassies is a dream come true for the Deep State. There is little chance that SOCOM will reverse its course of expansion and accumulation of power at the expense of U.S. national security anytime in the immediate future. J

ust as the FBI, NSA and CIA have grown in power, influence and unaccountability since their creation, SOCOM seems poised to follow the same model to the detriment of the Republic that it was created to serve.

Top photo | A U.S. operative prepares to load into a C-130J Hercules after the completion of a night mission rehearsal near Grand Bara, Djibouti, Dec. 4, 2018. Amy F. Picard | U.S. Air Force

Written and produced by Brian Kalman, Daniel Deiss, Edwin Watson

That song doesn’t mean what you think

“Mother and Child Reunion,” Paul Simon

People usually think this is about: The intense connection between a mother and her offspring
But it’s really about: Chinese food
Paul Simon’s 1972 tune had a hook that sang of a “strange and mournful day, when the mother and child reunion is only a motion away.” Naturally, most listeners assume that the legend must be speaking on a familial relationship, one that apparently had soured since the reunion was both strange and mournful.
But in reality, Simon was singing about a chicken and egg dish at his local Chinese restaurant. According to Snopes, Simon explained his inspiration in a 1972 interview: “I was eating in a Chinese restaurant downtown (and) there was a dish called ‘Mother and Child Reunion.’ It’s chicken and eggs. And I said, ‘Oh, I love that title. I gotta use that one.'”

“Bad Reputation,” Joan Jett

People usually think this is about: A general anthem for rebels.
But it’s really about: Joan Jett fighting past rejection.
When Joan Jett declared in the early ’80s that she doesn’t “give a damn about a bad reputation,” she was stating for the record that she wouldn’t let rejection stop her.
Jett originally recorded the song around 1979 as she launched her solo career following the breakdown of her band the Runaways. “A lot of ‘Bad Reputation’ came from comments that people said in the early days of ‘she’ll never make it,'” Jett explained in a 2013 Reddit AMA
While the song was never released as a single, it became iconic anyway as the titular track from Jett’s first solo album — an album she initially had to self-release because 23 record labels turned her down.
“Inspiration comes from all sorts of places,” Jett said. “And you have to decide that it’s not worth all that mental anguish worrying about what other people think.”

Why does the US have 800 military bases around the world?

Eisenhower warns us of the military industrial complex.
Dwight D. Eisenhower exit speech on Jan.17,1961. Warning us of the military industrial complex.
youtube.com · 151,523 Shares · Nov 6, 2007

The US has around 800 military bases in other countries, which costs an estimated $100 billion annually, a number that could be much higher depending on whether you count the bases still open in Iraq and Afghanistan.

This is according to American University professor David Vine in his forthcoming book Base Nation, in which he seeks to quantify the financial, environmental, and human costs of keeping these bases open.

Bases around the world <img alt=”Bases around the world” src=”https://cdn1.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/fpX0rjfWI-DqKzmOG-ucSxWV8xo=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3700156/Screen_Shot_2015-05-15_at_12.16.31_PM.0.png”>

Bases around the world. (Why the majority are in Europe?)

The word “base” is a broad term that captures all sorts of military posts, stations, camps, forts, etc. around the globe.

The Pentagon specifics that a “base site” is any geographic location that is “owned by or leased to, or otherwise possessed” by the military.

Most of these bases cropped up after World War II when the US took position as the global leader and peacekeeper in and around Japan and Germany.

The Korean and Cold Wars sped up the expansion of US military infrastructure to other countries.

Containing Soviet communism led the US to set up posts all over the globe to ensure a geopolitical foothold in places that were vulnerable to Soviet influence — which basically meant everywhere.

US military around the globe <img alt=”US military around the globe” src=”https://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/thumbor/j7nORz0Uqnc4sYY-_FV3-KVJueo=/cdn0.vox-cdn.com/uploads/chorus_asset/file/3699532/486246703.0.jpg”>

Troops in Poland. (Sean Gallup/Getty)

Even though Japan, Germany, and Korea are now American allies and stable democracies, thousands of troops and many bases still remain in these countries.

Even though the Cold War is over, much of the military infrastructure built up in response to that era remains operational.

American taxpayers are in charge of the bill for keeping these bases running.

This estimated $100 billion is pumped out of our economy to the location of these bases. It’s a massive military system that ensures US influence in every corner of the planet, and given the uncontested nature of this widespread strategy, there isn’t likely to be any change soon.

Could real democracy be deadened with too many soldier heroes?

‘Put a man in uniform, preferably a white man, give him a gun, and Americans will worship him.

It is a particularly childish trait, of a childlike culture, that insists on anointing all active military members and police officers as “heroes.”

The rhetorical sloppiness and intellectual shallowness of affixing such a reverent label to everyone in the military or law enforcement betrays a frightening cultural streak of nationalism, chauvinism, authoritarianism and totalitarianism.

But it also makes honest and serious conversations necessary for the maintenance and enhancement of a fragile democracy nearly impossible

You don’t protect my freedom:

Our childish insistence on calling soldiers heroes deadens real democracy

It’s been 70 years since we fought a war about freedom. Forced troop worship and compulsory patriotism must end

It has become impossible to go a week without reading a story about police brutality, abuse of power and misuse of authority.

Michael Brown’s murder represents the tip of a body pile, and in just the past month, several videos have emerged of police assaulting people, including pregnant women, for reasons justifiable only to the insane.

It is equally challenging for anyone reasonable, and not drowning in the syrup of patriotic sentimentality, to stop saluting, and look at the servicemen of the American military with criticism and skepticism.

There is a sexual assault epidemic in the military.

In 2003, a Department of Defense study found that one-third of women seeking medical care in the VA system reported experiencing rape or sexual violence while in the military.

Internal and external studies demonstrate that since the official study, numbers of sexual assaults within the military have only increased, especially with male victims.

According to the Pentagon, 38 men are sexually assaulted every single day in the U.S. military. Given that rape and sexual assault are, traditionally, the most underreported crimes, the horrific statistics likely fail to capture the reality of the sexual dungeon that has become the United States military.

Chelsea Manning, now serving time in prison as a whistle-blower, uncovered multiple incidents of fellow soldiers laughing as they murdered civilians.

Keith Gentry, a former Navy man, wrote that when he and his division were bored they preferred passing the time with the “entertainment” of YouTube videos capturing air raids of Iraq and Afghanistan, often making jokes and mocking the victims of American violence.

If the murder of civilians, the rape of “brothers and sisters” on base, and the relegation of death and torture of strangers as fodder for amusement qualifies as heroism, the world needs better villains.

It is undeniable that there are police officers who heroically uphold their motto and mission to “serve and protect,” just as it is indisputable that there are members of the military who valiantly sacrifice themselves for the sake of others.

Reviewing the research proving cruelty and mendacity within law enforcement and the military, and reading the stories of trauma and tragedy caused by officers and soldiers, does not mean that no cop or troop qualifies as a hero, but it certainly means that many of them are not heroes.

Acknowledging the spread of sadism across the ranks of military also does not mean that the U.S. government should neglect veterans, as they often do, by cutting their healthcare options, delaying or denying treatment, and reducing psychiatric services.

On the contrary, if American politicians and pundits genuinely believed that American military members are “heroes,” they would not settle for sloganeering, and garish tributes. They would insist that veterans receive the best healthcare possible.

Improving and universalizing high quality healthcare for all Americans, including veterans, is a much better and truer way to honor the risks soldiers and Marines accept on orders than unofficially imposing a juvenile and dictatorial rule over speech in which anything less than absolute and awed adulation for all things military is treasonous.

One of the reasons that the American public so eagerly and excitedly complies with the cultural code of lionizing every soldier and cop is because of the physical risk-taking and bravery many of them display on the foreign battleground and the American street.

Physical strength and courage is only useful and laudable when invested in a cause that is noble and moral. The causes of American foreign policy, especially at the present, rarely qualify for either compliment.

The “troops are heroes” boosters of American life typically toss out clichés to defend their generalization – “They defend our freedom,” “They fight so we don’t have to.”

No American freedom is currently at stake in Afghanistan.

It is impossible to imagine an argument to the contrary, just as the war in Iraq was clearly fought for the interests of empire, the profits of defense contractors, and the edification of neoconservative theorists.

It had nothing to do with the safety or freedom of the American people. The last time the U.S. military deployed to fight for the protection of American life was in World War II – an inconvenient fact that reduces clichés about “thanking a soldier” for free speech to rubble.

If a soldier deserves gratitude, so does the litigator who argued key First Amendment cases in court, the legislators who voted for the protection of free speech, and thousands of external agitators who rallied for more speech rights, less censorship and broader access to media.

Wars that are not heroic have no real heroes, except for the people who oppose those wars.

Far from being the heroes of recent wars, American troops are among their victims. No rational person can blame the soldier, the Marine, the airman, or the Navy man for the stupid and destructive foreign policy of the U.S. government, but calling them “heroes,” and settling for nothing less, makes honest and critical conversations about American foreign policy less likely to happen.

If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make much sense to call their mission unnecessary and unjust. It also makes conversations about the sexual assault epidemic, or the killing of innocent civilians, impossible. If all troops are heroes, it doesn’t make any sense to acknowledge that some are rapists and sadists.

The same principle of clear-eyed scrutiny applies to law enforcement agencies. Police departments everywhere need extensive investigation of their training methods, qualifications for getting on the job, and psychological evaluation. None of that will happen as long as the culture calls cops heroes, regardless of their behavior.

An understandable reason for calling all troops heroes, even on the left, is to honor the sacrifice they make after they die or endure a life-altering injury in one of America’s foolish acts of aggression.

A more helpful and productive act of citizenship, and sign of solidarity with the military, is the enlistment in an antiwar movement that would prevent the government from using its volunteer Army as a plaything for the financial advancement and political cover of the state-corporate nexus and the military-industrial complex of Dwight Eishenhower’s nightmares.

Given the dubious and dangerous nature of American foreign policy, and the neglect and abuse veterans often suffer when returning home wounded or traumatized, Americans, especially those who oppose war, should do everything they can to discourage young, poor and working-class men and women from joining the military.

Part of the campaign against enlistment requires removing the glory of the “hero” label from those who do enlist.

Stanley Hauerwas, a professor of divinity studies at Duke whom Time called “America’s best theologian,” has suggested that, given the radical pacifism of Jesus Christ, American churches should do all they can to discourage its young congregants from joining the military.

Haurwas’ brand of intellectual courage is necessary, even among non-Christians, to combat the hysterical sycophancy toward the military in a culture where even saluting a Marine, while holding a coffee cup, is tantamount to terrorism.

The men and women who do enlist deserve better than to die in the dirt and come home in a bag, or spend their lives in wheelchairs, and their parents should not have to drown in tears and suffer the heartbreak of burying their children. The catastrophes become less common when fewer people join the military.

Calling all cops and troops heroes insults those who actually are heroic – the soldier who runs into the line of fire to protect his division, the police officer who works tirelessly to find a missing child – by placing them alongside the cops who shoot unarmed teenagers who have their hands in the air, or the soldier who rapes his subordinate.

It also degrades the collective understanding of heroism to the fantasies of high-budget, cheap-story action movies.

The American conception of heroism seems inextricably linked to violence; not yet graduated from third-grade games of cops and robbers. Explosions and smoking guns might make for entertaining television, but they are not necessary, and more and more in modern society, not even helpful in determining what makes a hero.

A social worker who commits to the care and advocacy of adults with developmental disabilities – helping them find employment, group home placement and medical care, and just treating them with love and kindness – is a hero.

A hospice worker in a poor neighborhood, providing precious comfort and consolation to someone dying on the ugly edges of American healthcare, is a hero.

An inner-city teacher, working hard to give essential education and meaningful affirmation to children living in neighborhoods where bullets fly and families fall apart, is a hero.

Not all teachers, hospice workers or social workers are heroes, but emphasizing the heroism of those who do commit to their clients, patients and students with love and service would cause a shift of America’s fundamental values.

It would place the spotlight on tender and selfless acts of solidarity and empathy for the poor. Calling all cops heroes too often leads to pathetic deference to authority, even when the results are fatal, and insisting all members of the military are heroes too often reinforces the American values of militarism and exceptionalism.

The assignment of heroism, exactly like the literary construct, might have more to do with the assignment of villainy than the actual honoring of “heroes.”

Every hero needs a villain. If the only heroes are armed men fighting the country’s wars on drugs and wars in the Middle East, America’s only villains are criminals and terrorists.

If servants of the poor, sick and oppressed are the heroes, then the villains are those who oppress, profit from inequality and poverty, and neglect the sick.

If that is the real battle of heroism versus villainy, everyone is implicated, and everyone has a far greater role than repeating slogans, tying ribbons and placing stickers on bumpers.

David Masciotra is the author of Mellencamp: American Troubadour (forthcoming, University Press of Kentucky). He writes regularly for the Daily Beast and Splice Today. For more information visit http://www.davidmasciotra.com.


 

 

Saudi Arabia and Israel: Joint common Strategy

The absolute monarchy of these over 5,000 members of the Saud family, and the military industrial complex of apartheid Israel are in a state of extreme hysteria and high confusion, as to their medium-term future stability and relevance. Why?

Evidences are pointing that the US has decided to disengage from the Middle-East and focus its energy, resources, and policies toward the Far East Asia and the Pacific States.

The Joint common Strategy of Saudi Arabia and Israel is to pressure the US to stay engaged in the Middle-East a while longer: Preferably, force the US to plan for another preemptive war on Iran.  Or at least on Syria, just to keep the ball rolling, and hoping that the war might extend and perdure long enough…

It appears that the US learned the lesson finally: There is no return on investing energy and effort in this volatile region, and with its population explosion of increased poorer classes, famine, calamities, terrorist acts of absurd violence…

The Middle-East is too complicated to comprehend and resolve its countless problems, compared to these advanced, stable, and productive Pacific States.

Why keep lagging in world economy and let the serious competitors take over, while the US is unable to get out of this stagnant marshes that are devouring every bit of credibility of the US influence.

Worse, the more the US gets engaged in the Middle-East, the more it is disliked and hated…and its citizens are in terrible danger when they set foot in this region.  

And the US is feeling cornered by blacklisting many organizations as “terrorists” and most of its agents uncovered, and the US is reduced to ask France and Germany to supply it with fresh and current pieces of intelligence…

You cannot list most of the organizations in the Middle-East as “terrorists” and expect to be moving around freely and positively influence the people…

Most movements in the Middle-East are not about to forget and forgive the hundreds of thousands killed and genetically disfigured by dropping slightly enriched uranium bombs in Iraq, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Pakistan… and destroying their infrastructure, and proclaiming that they are the terrorists…

Evidences are pointing to Israel and Saudi Arabia in coordinating their “terrorist activities” in the region (Iraq, Syria, Lebanon, Libya, Yemen…): Saudi Arabia opens the purse and Israel execute targets that are to its “national interests” and to “Israeli mafia interests“… As if by increasing the rate of terrors will get the US excited in immersing in this region!

The radical extreme Moslem salafists are of Wahhabit sect, mostly dominant in Saudi Arabia.

Israel and Saudi Arabia  share the same belief system in theocratic ideology and exercising apartheid tactics on their population.

Saudi Arabia monarchy knows that its days are counted and trying to ally all the monarchies in the region like Morocco and Jordan…

Israel is unable to control even Gaza. Sharon, still in coma for years, vacated the settlers from Gaza. These settlers believed that the sea of Gaza is unpolluted and a paradise for swimming and fishing…

Saudi Arabia and Israel are sharing a Joint Common Strategy: Two asses in same pant.

How many kinds of wars can you differentiate among? Are there “good wars” for mankind?

The 20th century witnessed 140 armed conflicts, totaling more than 150 millions in casualties and at least 4 folds in severe injuries .  More than 20 conflicts produced over one million killed.  WWI generated about 9 million killed and WWII more than 60 millions.  Two dozen conflicts are still on going for decades and the toll is accumulating.

Mind that in every decade, one billion die of famine and from curable diseases.  The UN estimated that currently there is one billion individual earning less than a dollar per day and have no shelters:  Which means, all the most downtrodden of the billion of mankind will invariably die within the decade of famine and curable diseases.

Let’s give it a try at “war taxonomy“:

1. Wars of resistance against invaders and “foreign” army occupiers

2. Wars of independence and self-autonomy against “mandated” colonial powers (which are agreed upon by a select group of UN veto colonial powers)

3. Wars of “Necessity” for defending neighboring States that are at risk of being occupied by common enemies

4. Wars of “choices” by selecting allies at wars for promoting and trading weapons technology, under abstract ideological grounds

5. Preemptive wars decided by the 1% elite classes in the superpower club of nations, abusing the surplus jobless lower middle-class citizens, for plundering other countries wealth and raw materials…

6. Tribal wars or razzias for survival under dire living conditions

7. Civil wars for maintaining or establishing a Central State government

8. Civil wars for vanquishing old classes that subjugated the entire society

9. Civil wars among sectarian feudal Lords for the primacy of one religious sect

10. Civil wars supported by foreign powers to destabilize and divide a nation

11. Wars for testing weapon systems, chemical weapons, biological weapons… and the level of training of the troops

12. Wars for displacing other colonial nations in order to resume the plundering of raw materials… For example, how would you categorize the war of the US against Spain to conquer the Philippine? The war of the US against Spain to occupying Cuba?

13. Religious wars by two countries with majority religious affiliations

14. Wars against terror, terrorists, mafia groups, “rogue State”…

15. Wars for wiping out entire civilization and their “barbarous” ways of livings

16. Wars against the pollution of the climate and water resources

17. Wars for preserving endangered species, particularly mankind

18. Wars against apartheid or racist systems…

19. Civil disobedience movements and political disobedience movements

How would you classify the wars of the US on Iraq, Afghanistan, Vietnam, Korea…?

What is your categorization during the “Cold War” against the Soviet Union? A war of  ideology or war of global supremacy of a line of economic system, or demonstrating the more efficient method for abusing and enslaving the lower poorer classes?

Is the evolving war taking place in Pakistan, a mishandled and mismanaged targeted war or war of civilizations?

For example, Japan was negotiating capitulation in WWII, and yet the US decided to drop Two atomic bombs: How would you call this new kind of wars?

How would you describe the war of Israel on the Palestinian Gaza Strip?

What of the war of France and England on Qadhafi? Qadhafi declined the bids of France and England to purchase weapon systems two years ago and opted for exclusive Russian weapon systems…

TomDispatch.com distinguished only two kinds of wars waged by the US:

1. Wars of choice, and

2. wars of necessity.

For example, the preemptive war on Iraq was a war of choice by the elite 1% of the US richest class and arms industries.  Participating in WWII was categorized as war of necessity; why?

TomDispatch posted:

“America’s wars are remote.  They’re remote from us geographically, remote from us emotionally (unless you’re serving in the military or have a close relative or friend who serves), and remote from our major media outlets, which have given us no compelling narrative about them, except that they’re being fought by “America’s heroes” against foreign terrorists and evil-doers.

America’s wars  are even being fought by remote control — by robotic drones “piloted” by ground-based operators from a secret network of bases located thousands of miles from the danger of the battlefield.

The remoteness (of the battlefields), which breeds detachment if not complacency at home, is no accident.  Indeed, it’s a product of the fact that Afghanistan and Iraq were wars of choice, not wars of necessity.  It’s a product of the fact that we’ve chosen to create a “warrior” or “war fighter” caste in this country, which we send with few concerns and fewer qualms to prosecute Washington’s foreign wars of choice.

The results have been predictably bad.  The troops suffer.

Iraqi and Afghan innocent civilians suffer even more.

And yet we don’t suffer, at least not in ways that are easily noticeable, because of that very remoteness of the war sectors.

The US administration has chosen — or let others do the choosing — to remove ourselves from all the pain and horror of the wars being waged in our name.  And that’s a choice we’ve made at our peril, since a state of “permanent remote war” has weakened US military, drained the treasury, and eroded the rights and freedoms of the citizens.

World War II was a war of necessity. In such a war, all Americans had a stake.  Adolf Hitler and Nazism had to be defeated; so too did Japanese militarism.

Indeed, war goals were that clear and that simple to state.  For that war, we relied on uncontroversial an equitable draft of citizen-soldiers to share the burdens of defense. (Do you agree on that simplistic statement?)

Contrast this with our current 1% wars.  In them, 99 percent of Americans have no stake.

The 1% who do are largely ID-card-carrying members of what President Dwight D. Eisenhower so memorably called the “military-industrial complex” in 1961.

In the half-century since, that web of crony corporations, lobbyists, politicians and retired military types, who have passed through Washington’s revolving door, has grown ever more gargantuan and tangled, engorged by untold trillions devoted to a national security and intelligence complex that seemingly dominates Washington.

They are the ones who, in turn, have dispatched another 1 percent — the lone percent of Americans in our All-Volunteer Military — to repetitive tours of duty fighting endless wars abroad.

The mission behind our wars of choice is nebulous, confusing, and in constant flux.  Is it a fight against terror (which, as so many have pointed out, is in any case a method, not an enemy)?

A fight for oil and other strategic resources?

A fight to spread freedom and democracy?

A fight to build nations?

A fight to show American resolve or make the world safe from al-Qaeda?

Who really knows anymore, now that Washington seldom bothers to bring up the “why” question at all, preferring simply to fight on without surcease?

In wars of choice, there are no criteria with which to measure success, let alone determine an endpoint.  We could elect to leave whenever we wanted or whenever the heat got too high, as is currently the case in Iraq (even if we are leaving behind a fortress embassy the size of the Vatican with a private army of 5,000 rent-a-guns to defend it).

We could elect to leave, as we are likely to do in Afghanistan, sometime in the years after the 2012 presidential election.  The choice is ours.  The people without a choice are of course the Iraqis and Afghans whom we’ll leave to pick up the pieces.

Even our vaunted Global War on Terror is a war of choice.  Think about it: Who has control over our own terror: us or our enemies?  We can only be terrorized in the first place if we choose to give in to fear. For example, what of the “shoe bomber” in 2001 and the “underwear bomber” in 2009?

Why did the criminally inept actions of these two losers garner so much attention (and fear-mongering) in the American media?

We allowed more American treasure to be poured into technology and screening systems that may never even have caught a terrorist.  We consented to be to on surveillance ever more, and consulted ever less.  We chose to reaffirm our terrors every time we doffed our shoes or submitted supinely to being scoped or groped at our nation’s airports.

Our distant permanent wars, our 1% wars of choice, will remain remote from our emotions and our thinking, requiring few sacrifices except from our troops, who grow ever more remote from our polity.  This is especially true of America’s young adults, between 18 and 29 years of age, who are the least likely to have family members in the military, according to a recent Pew Research Center study.

The result?  An already emergent warrior-caste might grow ever more estranged from the 99%, creating tensions and encouraging grievances that quite possibly could be manipulated by that other 1 percent: the power-brokers  money-makers, and string-pullers, already so eager to call out the police to bully and arrest occupy movements in numerous cities across this once-great land.

Our Military or Their Military?

As we fight wars of choice in distant lands for ever-shifting goals, what if “our troops” simply continue to grow ever more remote from us?  What if they become “their” troops?  Is this not the true terror we should be mobilizing as a nation to prevent?  The terror of separating our military almost totally from our nation — and ourselves.

As Admiral Mike Mullen, former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, put it recently to Time: “In the Long term, if the military drifts away from its people in this country, that is a catastrophic outcome we as a country can’t tolerate.”

Behold a horrifying fate: a people that allows its wars of choice to compromise the very core of its self-image as a freedom-loving society, while letting itself be estranged from the young men and women who served in the front lines of these wars.

Here’s an American fact: the 99% are far too remote from our wars of choice and those who fight them.  To reclaim the latter, we must end the former.

And that’s a war of necessity that has to be fought — and won.” End of quote

Note: You may read https://adonis49.wordpress.com/2008/09/21/the-manifest-destiny-of-america-and-its-long-term-consequences/



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