Posts Tagged ‘military industrial complex’
That song doesn’t mean what you think
By Breeanna Hare, CNN. Updated 1645 GMT (0045 HKT) April 17, 2017
Editor’s Note: The following article contains sexually explicit language.
(CNN) At this very moment, there’s a couple out there realizing that “their” song, the 2005 hit ballad “You’re Beautiful,” has nothing to do with a loving, body-positive relationship and everything to do with a stalker who’s stoned out of his mind.
“Born in the USA,” Bruce Springsteen
“Imagine,” John Lennon
“Semi-Charmed Life,” Third Eye Blind
“American Pie,” Don McLean
“Closing Time,” Semisonic
“Time of Your Life,” Green Day
“Slide,” the Goo Goo Dolls
“It Was a Good Day,” Ice Cube
“Mother and Child Reunion,” Paul Simon
“Bad Reputation,” Joan Jett
Why does the US have 800 military bases around the world?
Updated by Johnny Harris on May 18, 2015
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.
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.
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
David Masciotra posted this Nov 9, 2014
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?
“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