Archive for the ‘The Forever War’ tag
Donald Trump has promised to bring in a new wave of protectionism for American businesses. This news has been met with cheers from the small government advocates in the Republican Party. The democrats haven’t been cheering but only because Donald Trump is promising it. If Hillary Clinton had promised it they would be cheering but at least the cheering wouldn’t come immediately after claiming they’re for a small government.
Protectionism is almost always promised by people who blame foreign countries from a bad domestic economy and this case is no different. Trump and the republicans are claiming that China has been stealing American jobs. But Jack Ma, Chinese billionaire, sees things slightly differently:
Ma says blaming China for any economic issues in the U.S. is misguided. If America is looking to blame anyone, Ma said, it should blame itself.
“It’s not that other countries steal jobs from you guys,” Ma said. “It’s your strategy. Distribute the money and things in a proper way.”
He said the U.S. has wasted over $14 trillion in fighting wars over the past 30 years rather than investing in infrastructure at home.
While I disagree with his claim that the money was merely misappropriated, he’s entirely correct in saying that the $14 trillion spent in fighting wars was wasted.
Any economist who isn’t a complete moron, of which there are very few, knows that wars don’t produce wealth. Sure, it often looks like wars are good for the economy because jobs are created to feed the war machine but none of those jobs are productive. They exist to destroy wealth. Every piece of military machinery is build to be destroyed. Ammunition is expended. Tanks are either destroyed in combat or destroyed after they’ve been made obsolete by a new tank. Aircraft carriers that aren’t sunk by the enemy are sunk by the owners when they’re decommissioned to make way for the new fleet. Every building, road, and telephone pole destroyed in a war must be rebuilt afterwards. No actual wealth is created by war. Wealth is merely dumped into building expendable equipment or redoing work that was previously done. This is also why fourth generation warfare is so effective. One side spends pennies while the other spends trillions.
Instead of waging an endless war, the people of the United States could have been doing productive things. But the government chose warfare, the people rolled over and accepted warfare, and a huge amount of wealth has been diverted to unproductive endeavors, which has done nothing good for the economy. China isn’t taking American jobs, the United States government is destroying those jobs.
When people think about big polluters they usually imagine strip mines or coal burning power plants. Seldom do they imagine the United States military, which is one of the largest polluters in the world. However, Uncle Sam wants to mend his ways. He no longer wants to leave ruined cities in his wake. Now he wants to leave ruined cities covered in plant life in his wake:
The military fires hundreds of thousands of rounds during training, ranging from bullets to 155mm artillery shells. While casings are collected, and often recycled, the bullets themselves generally aren’t, and can take “hundreds of years” to break down in the environment. That can pollute the soil and water supply, harm animals, and generally look like crap if you stumble upon them.
To tackle the problem, the DoDo has made a proposal call for a biodegradable composite bullet impregnated with seeds that will survive the initial blast and searing velocities. The seeds should only sprout after being in the ground for several months and be safe for animals to consume.
I’m sure that’ll make all of the civilians Uncle Sam is blowing up feel better. Sure, little Achmed may be gone but there’s a tree growing where he was blown up so all is forgiven!
I’m really at a loss on this one. What the Department of Defense is asking for is ridiculous. Finding seeds capable of surviving a point blank explosion is already a tall order. But even if somebody can create such seeds what will be the point? People aren’t going to feel better about being bombed just because some trees grow out of the ruins of their cities. Trees aren’t going to offset the environmental destruction of artillery fire. This proposal seems like a tone deaf attempt to appeal to environmentalists.
After eight years of unexplained absence the anti-war left is slowly creeping out of the woodwork!
Three days before Christmas, President-elect Trump tweeted (yes, tweeted) that the U.S. “must greatly strengthen and enhance its nuclear capability” until the world “comes to its senses regarding nukes.” The world, for its part, blinked in astonishment, wondering once again what Mr. Trump might mean, and why such a momentous announcement appeared via social media. Prior presidents generally undertook any shift in nuclear policy with care, and with the advice of experts in arms control and proliferation who have made keeping us safe their life’s mission. After all, when a single person has the power to rain down nuclear fire across the world, caution might not only be warranted, but expected.
As a quick aside, I think Trump’s attempt to take credit for Obama’s $1 trillion revamp of the United States’ nuclear arsenal is pathetic.
George Takei, who was a much more pleasant fellow to follow on social media when he wasn’t championing that butcher Hillary Clinton, took Trump’s tweet about expanding the United States’ nuclear arsenal personally and penned a scathing piece on nuclear weapons in general. Let me say that I appreciate Takei’s rant against nuclear weapons and wish more people would do the same. I also appreciate the handful of other articles penned by the anti-war left in recent times. But I’m forced to ask why these article are appearing again after eight years of silence.
During the George W. Bush’s presidency there was a strong anti-war sentiment coming from the left. Neoliberals, socialists, communists, and leftist anarchists all came together to hold protests against the United States’ wars throughout the country. When Obama first ran for president he did so on an anti-war platform, which gained him the support of the anti-war left. Once he won the election he continued Bush’s reign of terror but did so without protest from the supposedly anti-war left. In fact, they stayed mostly silent for all eight years of Obama’s presidency.
Now that a Republican has regained the presidency the anti-war left is suddenly making noise again. Unfortunately, for them, they lost all legitimacy after Obama took office. By only protesting the wars when Bush was in charge the anti-war left demonstrated that they weren’t anti-war at all. They were just anti-Republican-lead-war. Once a Democrat was ordering the slaughter they were silent. Now that a Republican will be ordering the slaughter again they are suddenly making some noise.
In other words, they’re a bunch of liars. But, hey, at least we can enjoy four years of public outrage over the wars even if that outrage isn’t actually because of the wars.
I swear that the United States government is hellbent on repeating all of its dumbest mistakes over and over again. One mistake that the United States loves to repeat is handing out weapons to groups that will eventually use those weapons against it. This strategy was a staple of the Cold War. During that period the United States would hand weapons out like candy to anybody who declared themselves in opposition to the Soviet Union. Today the same strategy is being used although the weapons are being handed to anybody who declares themselves in opposition to whatever particular nation or organization is the flavor of the day. Right now the flavor is Syria:
Washington, D.C. – Congress for the first time authorized the Department of Defense to provide vetted-Syrian rebels with anti-aircraft missiles.
The provision is contained within the $619 billion Fiscal Year 2017 National Defense Authorization Act, which passed the Senate on Dec. 8 and the House on Dec. 2.
Under the bill, the Secretaries of Defense and State must submit a report to Congress explaining why they determined Syrian groups need man-portable air defense systems (MANPADS).
We keep hearing that it’s impossible to vet Syrian refugees but apparently it’s not too much trouble to vet entire Syrian rebel groups.
If you’ve read any history, even badly, of the proxy wars that were waged by the Soviet Union and the United States you know how this will play out. The Secretaries of Defense and State will submit a report to Congress, which will give Congress the ability to cover its ass. Congress will authorize the transfer of weapons to the Syrian rebel groups. Those weapons will then eventually be used to shoot down a commercial airliner or some such nonsense and Congress will act shocked and demand to know where this terrorist organization (they cease being a rebel group when they no longer serve the United States’ interests) obtained such weaponry.
I didn’t watch last night’s debate. I’ve already seen enough videos of monkeys flinging feces at each other for a lifetime. But I did find an excellent video that summarizes both candidates’ position on a very important issue:
During his first presidential run, Obama spent a lot of time talking about the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. He claimed that he was going to make ending those wars a priority. While he was lying through his teeth it was refreshing to have at least one major candidate opposing war. This year? Both major candidates are war hawks and want to turn Syria into rubble (not because of anything Syria has really done but because it’s a proxy for Russia and old Cold War attitudes die hard). But neither one of them wants to address the fact that the United States is involved in five fucking wars:
In an election flush with conspiracy theories, here’s one that’s real: Both major party nominees, as well as the journalists who cover the election and moderate the debates, are actively conspiring to avoid talking about the fact that the United States is waging war in at least five countries simultaneously: Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Libya, and Somalia.
In the first two presidential debates, our involvement in the Syrian civil war was briefly discussed, as was ISIS in vague terms, and the Iran nuclear deal, and Russia’s mischief-making in Eastern Europe and the Middle East, and Libya, though mostly in the past tense, focused on our 2011 intervention to depose Moammar Gadhafi and the subsequent attack on American government facilities in Benghazi a year later.
But our role in “advising” the Iraqi army “a few miles behind the front lines” as it works to take back territory from ISIS? Our “secret war” against Shabab militants in Somalia? Our support for Saudi Arabia’s bloody assault on Houthi rebels in Yemen? Our air strikes pounding positions in and around the city of Sirte on the Libyan coast?
Nada. Zip. Nothing.
While Keynesians have wet dreams over all of the economic “stimulus” wars create the only people who benefit are those within the military-industrial complex. Lockheed Martin, General Electric, Blackwater (or whatever the hell they call themselves now), etc. make big dollars on war. People (if you can really call Keynesians people) will also mistakenly point out that construction companies and other rebuilders make big dollars as well. But their ignorance of Bastiat’s broken window fallacy causes them to ignore the fact that those builders would be building newer, better buildings instead of replacing older buildings in an economically prosperous (i.e. not blown to Hell and back by war) region. Furthermore, an economically prosperous region would have goods and services to trade with other regions, which would increase the wealth of both sides. When wars are waged everybody outside of the military-industrial complex gets screwed.
In times of peace wealth is invested in developing new more technologically advanced goods and services. During times of war wealth is diverted to onetime use munitions and rebuilding everything that was blown up. Both sides are diverting wealth that was stolen from their populace into first building bombs, tanks, ships, bunkers, supply lines, surveillance technologies, etc. and then replacing them all when they’re destroyed. It’s an unending cycle of wasted potential.
The United States is already involved in five wars. Getting involved in more wars or throwing more resources into existing wars is only going to increase the amount of wealth wasted on death and destruction. No matter which president wins in November it’s clear that the current wars will not only march on but increase in intensity. This will only worsen the already tedious economic situation the country, and really most of the world, is in. And nobody wants to talk about that. Nobody wants to talk about what is probably the single biggest issue facing the world right now. What is the point of political debates if the important issues aren’t being broached (don’t answer that, it was a rhetorical question)? Where is the choice in an election if both candidates hold the exact same destructive positions on truly important issues (again, this is a rhetorical question)?
Before I end this post I want to address something. I’m sure some very decent human beings are asking themselves why I’m framing this discussion within economics instead of human lives? I’m trying to reach the statists here and as we know statists tend not to value human lives very highly (if they did they wouldn’t be statists). But they never shut up about the economy. I guess a part of me hopes that framing this discussion within economics I might be able to reach one or two of them and convince them to ask why nobody is addressing the issue of war in this election.
Mercenaries are a controversial topic. With the government relying more on private military companies (PMC) such as the infamous Blackwater (now Academi) there has been an increase in outrage by the general populace. As it turns out the general populace is totally fine with soldiers killing for king and country but they lose their shit when people kill for profit.
To gain a better understanding of PMCs I started reading The Modern Mercenary by Sean McFate. What I expected to be a fairly interesting read has turned out to be an absolutely fascinating read.
One of the points McFate makes that I found very interesting is that the side effect of the continue beatification of military personnel is an inventive for nations to utilize mercenaries. It makes sense. People loves heroes. People hate dead heroes.
It has become a mortal sin against statism to speak anything less than worshipfully about military personnel. Even as the general populace flips out about the State’s use of PMCs it continues to worship soldiers. Part of this worship is public outrage whenever soldiers are killed. In their eyes it’s not a mere soldier who has been killed by a genuine hero who was overseas protecting our freedoms. But since the general populace reviles PMCs their deaths occur without such outrage. In other words the hero worship of soldiers encourages the State to rely more heavily on disposable PMCs to do its dirty work.
Thus another vicious cycle is born. Due to their worship of soldiers all these people that are championing the use of government soldiers over private soldiers are unwittingly incentivizing the State to more heavily rely on PMCs.
It always amuses me when the religion of the State works against itself.
I do enjoy those rare glimpses into the unfiltered minds of our overlords. Usually they are careful with what they say and hide their depravities behind a veil of officialdom. But every now and then their facade cracks and they reveal their trust selves to the world. Rudolph Giuliani just did exactly that:
Giuliani said Trump does not necessarily want the United States to extract the oil itself but wants to “leave a force back there and take it and make sure it’s distributed in a proper way.”
“That’s not legal, is it?” ABC’s George Stephanopoulos asked, as the Geneva Conventions forbid seizing the natural resources of a sovereign nation after invading it.
“Of course it’s legal. It’s a war,” Giuliani said, laughing. “Until the war is over, anything’s legal.”
Suddenly the perpetual state of war makes more sense. So long as the war continues the State believes it can excuse any of its depravities.
What Giuliani has expressed isn’t unique to him, he was just dumb enough to say it publicly. But if you look at the extensive list of atrocities that have been committed by the United States in this never ending war such as bombing wedding parities, killing children, and raping prisoners and you see that punishments are never doled out you realize that the political class believes everything done is legal. What makes matters worse is that there is no relief for the civilians living in the areas the United States is bombing. Since the war on terror has no concrete set of parameters that constitute winning the war has no defined end. It can be waged perpetually and the State has no motivation to end it since it believes war gives it an avenue to do anything without consequences.
One thing that marks this presidential election is the complete absence of a mainstream anti-war candidate. In 2008 and 2012 Ron Paul was the predominant anti-war candidate for the Republicans and Obama pretended to be anti-war in his 2008 campaign. But this year not a single major candidate is even pretending to be anti-war. When I point this out somebody inevitably brings up Bernie Sanders but even he isn’t hiding his murderous desires:
QUESTION: Senator Sanders, you said that you think that the U.S. airstrikes are authorized under current law, but does that mean that the U.S. military can lawfully strike ISIS-affiliated groups in any country around the world?
SANDERS: No, it does not mean that. I hope, by the way, that we will have an authorization passed by the Congress, and I am prepared to support that authorization if it is tight enough so I am satisfied that we do not get into a never-ending perpetual war in the Middle East. That I will do everything I can to avoid.
But the President, no President, has the ability willy-nilly to be dropping bombs or using drones any place he wants.
HAYES: The current authorization which you cite in what Miguel just quoted which is the authorization to use military force after 9/11. That has led to the kill list. This President — literally, there is a kill list. There is a list of people that the U.S. government wants to kill, and it goes about doing it. Would you keep the kill list as President of the United States?
SANDERS: Look. Terrorism is a very serious issue. There are people out there who want to kill Americans, who want to attack this country, and I think we have a lot of right to defend ourselves. I think as Miguel said, though, it has to be done in a constitutional, legal way.
HAYES: Do you think what’s being done now is constitutional and legal?
SANDERS: In general I do, yes.
So he’s hoping, as president, he’ll receive authorization to continue doing what Bush and Obama have already been doing. But even more concerning is his support of the kill list.
I’ve discussed the kill list several times but I’ll summarize the problem with it for the benefit of newer readers. The names that appear on the kill list aren’t people who have been found guilty through due process. In fact we only know a little bit about the secret criteria used to justify adding names to the list and that information only came from an unauthorized leak. Sanders believes murdering foreigners without due process is both constitutional and legal.
To put this as diplomatically as I can, fuck Sanders. Anybody who claims he’s an anti-war candidate is either a liar or ignorant.
FORT CAMPBELL, Ky. – An elite U.S. Special Operations targeting force has arrived in Iraq and will carry out operations against the Islamic State, part of a broader effort in 2016 to strike at the militants and that also includes U.S. Special Operations troops in Syria, Defense Secretary Ashton B. Carter said Wednesday.
The targeting force is now in place and is prepared to work with Iraqis to begin going after militant fighters and commanders, “killing or capturing them wherever we find them,” Carter said, speaking to about 200 soldiers at the home of the Army’s 101st Airborne Division, which is expected to deploy about 500 soldiers next month to Iraq and Kuwait as part of the campaign against the Islamic State, also known as ISIS and ISIL.
If you’re psychopathic enough to want to build an empire there are two ways to go about it. You can do it the smart way, the way the Mongols did it, and leave a conquered area to run its own affairs as long as it pays your demanded tribute. Or you can do it the stupid way, the way the United States prefers, and try to micromanage a conquered area even if they do pay your demanded tribute.
The problem with the stupid way is that the people tend to resent you far more. Because of that they continue actively fighting you, which ensures you can never really lay longterm ownership over the region. Even though the war was declared over the United States will likely be fighting it until it finally decides to leave.
If ever there was reason to give up hope on the entire political process this year’s presidential candidates are it. Each an ever one of them is an honest to goodness terrible human being. The Democrats are deciding whether they want Bernie “Promise You Free Shit Nobody Can Pay For” Sander or Killary Clinton. On the other side of the isle there is a contest to see which candidate can say the most horrible thing. Donald Trump has openly stated a desire to take out the family of ISIS members like some kind of mafioso. Ted Cruz, who has been relegated to near obscurity, has decided to trump Trump by flat out saying he wants to nuke the Middle East:
Texas Senator Ted Cruz intensified his rhetoric this weekend in Iowa as he sought to compete with Republican frontrunner Donald Trump on tough talk about killing Islamic State terrorists.
“We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” Cruz said at a multi-candidate event in Cedar Rapids sponsored by the Tea Party-aligned FreedomWorks group. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”
Cruz received loud applause throughout his speech from the more than 1,500 people in attendance and got a standing ovation as he left the stage.
I’m not sure whether Cruz openly supporting the use of nuclear weapons or receiving applause from his audience are scarier. All I know is that this country is fucked.
For those of you who still believe we can vote our way out of this nosedive, assuming there are any of you left, how exactly does the voting process work when every single candidate is a war monger, economically illiterate, and openly hostile towards freedom? The option of damage control doesn’t even exist this election cycle because all of the candidates want same thing: a continuation of the seemingly endless war that is guaranteed to bankrupt the nation (mind you, I’m not against the State bankrupting itself, I just wish it would find a way to do it that didn’t require so many dead bodies).
Furthermore, each of these candidates has supporters. Even if a decent candidate existed and you supported them you would almost certainly be a very small minority voting against an army of psychotic voters who want the very war their candidates are selling.