Archive for the ‘The Forever War’ tag
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.
I feel like a fool. Why? Because I didn’t buy Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, or any other politically connected weapons manufacturer’s stock when the market opened on Monday! Proving the 34th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition true, war is good for business:
The Paris attacks took place on Friday night. Since then, France’s president has vowed “war” on ISIS and today significantly escalated the country’s bombing campaign in Syria (France has been bombing ISIS in Iraq since last January, and began bombing them in Syria in September).
Already this morning, as Aaron Cantú noticed, the stocks of the leading weapons manufacturers – what is usually referred to as the “defense industry” – have soared:
I should have sought a job at one of these companies. They’re profitable so long as there’s war and there’s always war!
The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is no longer the only government program to achieve a 90 percent failure rate. Thanks to an unknown whistleblower, who will hopefully remain unknown, we now know that the United States’ drone assassination program enjoys an abysmal failure rate as well:
On Thursday the Intercept published a groundbreaking new collection of documents related to America’s use of unmanned aerial vehicles to kill foreign targets in countries ranging from Afghanistan to Yemen. The revelations about the CIA and Joint Special Operations Command actions include primary source evidence that as many as 90 percent of US drone killings in one five month period weren’t the intended target, that a former British citizen was killed in a drone strike despite repeated opportunities to capture him instead, and details of the grisly process by which the American government chooses who will die, down to the “baseball cards” of profile information created for individual targets, and the chain of authorization that goes up directly to the president.1
90 percent of the people killed by drones in a five month period were innocent bystanders. I can’t imagine how that could possibly create backlash. Surly all of the people in the Middle East understand that we have to bomb innocent bystanders in order to defend ourselves from terrorists!
The documents reveal a frightening fact: the United States government has almost no mechanisms in place to verify targets. It’s basically dropping bombs willy nilly. Based on the success to failure ratio it appears that the United States only succeeds by random chance.
The United States has been in a state of war since 2001 (actually it was in a state of war before that but the war on terror is the war I’m primarily addressing here). In those 14 wars the United States has dropped bombs on a large number of Middle Eastern countries, held prisoners in secret prisons without trial, and expanded a pervasive surveillance apparatus that spies on foreigners and domestic people. Fortunately Obama declared an end to the war effort in Afghanistan. But that was then. This is now. As it turns out the United States isn’t actually planning to leave Afghanistan:
WASHINGTON — The United States will halt its military withdrawal from Afghanistan and instead keep thousands of troops in the country through the end of his term in 2017, President Obama announced on Thursday, prolonging the American role in a war that has now stretched on for 14 years.
This should come as no surprise. Obama has continued to drop bombs on the two countries he’s claimed to have ended wars in. But everybody needs to recognize the new definition of war. War no longer carries the implication of two militaries fighting one another in an attempt to achieve some mutually exclusive goal. Today war implies an expansion of empire through military occupation. The United States is playing the same game Britain did at the height of its empire without the honesty of just calling itself an empire. Instead the United States “brings democracy” and “liberates” the citizens of foreign countries from “brutal regimes” and “terrorists.”
Since there is no defined goal an occupation, unlike a war, has no winning condition and therefore is perpetual in nature. This war will not end until the United States can no longer afford to wage it.
Because no tragedy can be allowed to go to waste, almost immediately after the recent shooting in Oregon Mr. Obama stepped behind is podium and demanded his fellow politicians further restricting legal firearm ownership. He did this under the guise of reducing violence. Not too long afterwards the United States bombed a hospital:
Jason Cone, the executive director of Doctors Without Borders (MSF) U.S., disclosed the updated casualty figures on his Twitter feed, where he also said that the bombing went on for longer than 30 minutes “after American & Afghan military officials in Kabul & Washington first informed of proximity to hospital.”
He added that the precise location of the hospital had been communicated to all parties to the conflict “multiple times” in the past few months. He said MSF was “urgently seeking clarity,” on how the bombing took place.
In a statement, the organization said that it “condemns in the strongest possible terms the horrific bombing of its hospital in Kunduz full of staff and patients.” Of the 37 wounded, 19 are Doctors Without Borders Staff.
What Mr. Obama purports to be addressing are the approximate 11,000 homicides committed with firearms. Setting aside the absurd belief that disarming the general population will somehow reduce homicides let’s consider the grand scheme of things, namely the number of people murdered by governments.
By far the largest murderers in human history have been governments. This is true today. Only an organization with the means and will to involve itself in outright wars with out such entities can rack up a body country in the thousands or millions. Hell, Operation Enduring Freedom killed somewhere between 1,000 and 1,300 civilians in three months alone. And that’s just one operation in one country out of the known seven the United States is actively bombing.
I’m not condoning the actions of the shooter in Oregon, he was a piece of shit murderer after all, or trying to make his crimes seem less than what they are. What I am pointing out is the hypocrisy of a butcher like Obama talking about reducing violence. We’re talking about a man whose only notable achievement has been maintaining a continuous state of war throughout his entire presidency. He even manages to keep bombing countries he’s said we’re no longer at war with. So you’ll have to excuse me if I don’t take any statements he makes about reducing violence seriously.