A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘The Forever War’ tag

No Combatant is Innocent in War

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Expanding on my previous post, here is an example of what happens when people refuse to see evil when it’s perpetrated by people they view as human.

After every terrorist attack there is usually a great deal of outrage at the fact that the attacker(s) targeted and killed civilians and rightfully so. However, when terrorist attacks against civilians are perpetrated by “their” side they’re willing to either justify the action at necessary or unavoidable or they throw the entire incident down a memory hole:

Air strikes carried out by the US and its coalition partners in Syria have killed the highest number of civilians on record since the bombing campaign began, a war monitor has said.

A total of 225 civilians, including 36 women and 44 children, were killed in the period between 23 April to 23 May, the UK-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said.

No combatant is innocent in war.

Middle East attackers have killed a lot of civilians in the United States and Europe and the United States and its European allies have killed a lot of civilians in the the Middle East. Unfortunately, people living in the United States and Europe have a tendency to look the other way when their militaries kill civilians. I’m sure that a lot of people in the Middle East also have a tendency to look the other way when their militaries kill civilians. Justifying or ignoring the crimes of your tribe while condemning the same crimes of another tribe is common human behavior, which is also why we can’t have nice things.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 25th, 2017 at 11:00 am

War is Hell

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I’m sure you’ve heard about the bombing in Manchester so I won’t spend time filling you in on the details. I will, however, spend some time discussing a fact that a lot of people seem to be missing.

As usual, many people are treating this incident as an act of terrorism perpetrated by an Islamic extremist. But that’s not an accurate assessment. It was an engagement in a war. While neither the United States or the countries of Europe have formally declared a war on the various factions they’re engaged with in the Middle East, when one has invaded, bombed, and occupied a territory the formalities are irrelevant.

The United States and the countries of Europe are militarily superior to the forces they’re engaging. In a toe to toe conflict the Middle Eastern factions would lose quickly, which is why they’re not waging war in the manner that has been considered acceptable, at least by the United States and Europe, since the Westphalian Supremacy. Instead they’re utilizing asymmetrical or fourth generation warfare tactics.

When you can’t go toe to toe with your opponent you alter your tactics. Asymmetrical tactics rely on attacking the enemy economically. For the price of a single pipe bomb the bomber in Manchester will likely cost the United States and Europe millions if not billions of dollars in responding. We’re already seeing those costs with the police response in Manchester. They’re expending a lot of resources at the moment trying to find a potential second attacker. Likewise, the intelligence branches of the United States and countries of Europe are expending resources trying to identify the organization responsible (although the Islamic State has claimed responsibility, it claims responsibility for everything so their claim cannot be taken at face value). Once the organization responsible is identified a lot of resources will be expended retaliating against them.

It doesn’t take a mathematician or an economists to predict the longterm result of one side spending millions or billions of dollars responding to another side’s $50 attacks. Hell, we’ve seen the results plenty of times. Maoist forces facing off against republican forces in China, Vietcong forces facing off against United States forces in Vietnam, Soviet forces facing off against Afghanistan forces, etc. Asymmetric strategies are very effective against traditional military forces.

This war will continue until one side is either entirely wiped out, one side is completely bankrupted, one side completely disengages, or one side decides to be the adult and initiate peace talks. The forces in the Middle East cannot be entirely wiped out without taking action that would be too politically costly and the history of the United States and Europe reneging on deals makes peace talks unlikely. That leaves two potential outcomes. One, the United States and Europe are bankrupted or they leave the Middle East (as the occupying forces they’re the only ones who can disengage and leave). At the moment it seems that bankruptcy of the United States and Europe is the likely outcome.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 24th, 2017 at 11:00 am

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The War is Not Meant to Be Won

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Who isn’t the United States at war with? It’s a difficult question to answer because the list of nations continues to grow. Although most of its actions have been focused on the Middle East, the United States is starting to expand further into Africa:

Six years ago, a deputy commanding general for U.S. Army Special Operations Command gave a conservative estimate of 116 missions being carried out at any one time by Navy SEALs, Army Green Berets, and other special operations forces across the globe.

Today, according to U.S. military documents obtained by VICE News, special operators are carrying out nearly 100 missions at any given time — in Africa alone. It’s the latest sign of the military’s quiet but ever-expanding presence on the continent, one that represents the most dramatic growth in the deployment of America’s elite troops to any region of the globe.

In 2006, just 1 percent of all U.S. commandos deployed overseas were in Africa. In 2010, it was 3 percent. By 2016, that number had jumped to more than 17 percent. In fact, according to data supplied by U.S. Special Operations Command, there are now more special operations personnel devoted to Africa than anywhere except the Middle East — 1,700 people spread out across 20 countries dedicated to assisting the U.S. military’s African partners in their fight against terrorism and extremism.

Contrary to what many people believe, Trump won’t be the downfall of the United States. Russia won’t be either. What will ultimate kill the United States is its obsession with policing the world.

To quote the movie 1984, “The war is not meant to be won. It is meant to be continuous. The essential act of modern warfare is the destruction of the produce of human labour. A hierarchical society is only possible on the basis of poverty and ignorance.” While the United States’ purpose in war may not be to directly destroy the production of human labor, it’s an unavoidable side effect. Every building that is destroyed will have to be rebuilt. Every automobile that is destroyed will have to be replaced. War destroys the product of human labor so that it must be produced again.

And what does war return? Nothing. Some will claim that war stimulates the economy because the production of war materials and replacement of destroyed materials creates jobs. However, as Bastiat pointed out, we’re not seeing the unseen. The labor and resources that are involved in the war effort could have been used for productive things instead. Steel for tanks could have been used to build skyscrapers, automobiles, computers, or any number of wealth generating tools. Likewise, the labor could have been put towards building those skyscrapers, automobiles, computers, etc. Instead those resources are put into wealth destroying devices that must be replaced every time they are destroyed by an enemy.

So long as the United States continues to see itself as the police of the world it will continue to involve itself in more wars, which will just accelerate its demise.

Written by Christopher Burg

May 19th, 2017 at 11:00 am

Welcome Back Anti-War Left

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In case you sleeping when it happened, last night the United States decided to dump tens of millions of dollars of Tomahawk missiles into a Syrian airbase:

The US has carried out a missile strike against a Syrian air base in response to a suspected chemical weapons attack on a rebel-held town.

Fifty-nine Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from two US Navy ships in the Mediterranean. At least six people are reported to have been killed.

According to Wikipedia, the cost of a Tomahawk missile is $1.59 millions. The United States launched 59 of them, which comes to a total costs of $93.8 million. So far at least six people were killed, which brings the cost to kill ratio to $15.635 million per kill. At this rate Syria just needs to wait for the United States to bankrupt itself.

More importantly though, I’d like to welcome back the anti-war left! After eight years of mysterious absence I saw them popping back in last night. They were too busy decrying the actions of Mr. Trump to answer my question about where they were for the last eight years but I’m guessing they were on vacation or something and they’ll get around to posting pictures of their trip soon.

Written by Christopher Burg

April 7th, 2017 at 10:00 am

Finishing the Job

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The Obama administration had a hard-on for bombing people with drones. Its fetish was so strong that it even went so far as to assassinate an American citizen and his 16-year-old son with a drone. Although Hillary made it clear that she planned to continue Obama’s reign of terror, Trump didn’t make his position as well known. This caused some suckers to believe that he might curtail the war a bit. Not only has he continued bombing people, he’s trying to finish what Obama started:

In a hideous symbol of the bipartisan continuity of U.S. barbarism, Nasser al-Awlaki just lost another one of his young grandchildren to U.S. violence. On Sunday, the Navy’s SEAL Team 6, using armed Reaper drones for cover, carried out a commando raid on what it said was a compound harboring officials of al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A statement issued by President Trump lamented the death of an American service member and several others who were wounded, but made no mention of any civilian deaths. U.S. military officials initially denied any civilian deaths, and (therefore) the CNN report on the raid said nothing about any civilians being killed.

But reports from Yemen quickly surfaced that 30 people were killed, including 10 women and children. Among the dead: the 8-year-old granddaughter of Nasser al-Awlaki, Nawar, who was also the daughter of Anwar Awlaki.

Every despot knows that if you don’t take out you opponent’s entire family they’ll just grow up and seek revenge on you!

Nawar wasn’t even the first 8-year-old murdered by the United States and almost certainly won’t be the last. And that pisses me off. What pisses me off even more is that those hypocrites who call themselves the anti-war left didn’t give a shit about dead children until now. For four years the children of the Middle East can enjoy the fact that when they’re murdered some Americans will at least pretend to give a damn. After that, whether they’re remembered or not will depend on who wins the election because most people in this country don’t have principles.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 1st, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Truth Hurts

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2017 at 10:30 am

Dropping Bombs for Mother Gaia

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 11th, 2017 at 10:30 am

The Return of the Anti-War Left

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 3rd, 2017 at 11:00 am

History Repeats Itself

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

December 13th, 2016 at 10:00 am

The Issue Nobody Wants to Talk About

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

October 20th, 2016 at 10:30 am