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Wonderment
06-15-2011, 08:30 PM
I thought I'd start off this thread (which I hope to update every time something about militarism drives me especially crazy) with my nomination for 2011 Militarism Understatement of the Year. From the LA Times report (http://www.latimes.com/business/la-fi-weapon-exports-20110616,0,4979624.story)on a 50% jump in US arms sales to a record $46.1 billion this year:

The boom is drawing fire from arms-control advocates, who worry that weapons are going to volatile regions of the world and could end up in the wrong hands.

Pentagon officials defend the sales, saying they are carefully regulated by the U.S. State and Defense departments to protect national security and are key tools in maintaining good ties with U.S. allies.


There's some interesting data included about the $60+ billion multi-year deal with the Saudis, and the ammo sold to Egypt, Tunisia and Bahrain which was used against civilian protesters.

The LA Times being a liberal paper, buries the money quote on Obama policy for the last lines of the article. Turns out President Obama thinks arms sales are overly burdened by government regulations:

The Obama administration has embarked on an initiative to reform export control that will roll back many of the restrictions on the way weapons are sold to foreign countries. Northrop, which specializes in systems such as drones and cyber security, is supporting the change, saying it will help U.S. companies win contracts.

"We have been so focused on protecting our technological edge that we have actually done severe and unnecessary damage to our defense industrial base," said Northrop Chief Executive Wesley G. Bush at a recent conference in London.

"To the credit of President Obama's administration," he said, "the U.S. has finally started serious attempts to reform the laws and regulations governing our export control."

cragger
06-17-2011, 09:11 AM
"We have been so focused on protecting our technological edge that we have actually done severe and unnecessary damage to our defense industrial base," said Northrop Chief Executive Wesley G. Bush at a recent conference in London.

Military contractors are and have been very profitable companies, gifted with huge multi-year contracts that provide stability and which are structured to guarantee profits. The government pays research and development costs, unlike most commercial enterprises, and they are in the unique situation in which they can sign a contract to do something for a given price, and come back partway through and get the government to double the money. The government already supports foreign weapon sales using a carrot and stick method, pressuring other governments to buy from US weapons makers (recall for example Clinton directly calling the British to try to get them to buy US missles rather than develop European ones) and then frequently subsidizing the deals directly or through offsets at the expense of US taxpayers. Bush, who taxpayers pay more money by January 3rd than the median US household makes in a year, is complaining about the "severe and unnecessary damage" the government has caused this protected and coddled industry. The term shameless seems inadequate and far too polite.

And the Obama administration is selling out to demands for more, more, more from these guys. Yet another example that though the alternatives might be even worse, this administration is really bad.

Wonderment
06-17-2011, 07:10 PM
And the Obama administration is selling out to demands for more, more, more from these guys. Yet another example that though the alternatives might be even worse, this administration is really bad.

I would quibble a little: the current VIABLE alternatives are worse, but militarism is being questioned by minority voices in both parties.

Dennis Kucinich Dems. have not stopped doing their jobs in service to peace and a better future, despite the fact that the Democrat interventionist establishment holds them in contempt. Also, on the left there's this heartening trend among US mayors. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/us-mayors-to-push-for-ani-war-resolution_n_877817.html)

On the other side of the aisle, in the last Republican debate on CNN, none of the candidates were enthusiastic about war-mongering or war spending. McCain, Lieberman (fake Dem.) and Lindsay Graham are increasingly viewed as old farts stuck in the Bush-Cheney era. Ron Paul (with help from Obama) has greatly influenced the Tea Party and helped legitimize non-interventionism among more mainstream types.

Citizens in both parties have to push back against militarism. The peace community on the left does this habitually (and gets co-opted and pandered to every time), but now the right can also develop its deficit-fighting, anti-intervention wing. I expect that the next time Obama wants to bomb a country like Libya ($1.1 billion by September), the Tea Party will be at the forefront of the protests.

The President is arguing that drone attacks do not constitute "hostilites." According to this new theory, the wars in Libya, Yemen and Pakistan do not require any involvement of Congress.

Definitions of "war" or "hostilities" aside, Yemen and Pakistan set much worse precedents than Libya, since the drone death missions in those countries have mostly been kept secret and Congress-free. These rogue missions in defiance of international law are much harder to scrutinize and object to. Under Bush-Cheney and Obama they have become part of our militaristic and political culture. That's got to change.

chiwhisoxx
06-17-2011, 08:22 PM
I would quibble a little: the current VIABLE alternatives are worse, but militarism is being questioned by minority voices in both parties.

Dennis Kucinich Dems. have not stopped doing their jobs in service to peace and a better future, despite the fact that the Democrat interventionist establishment holds them in contempt. Also, on the left there's this heartening trend among US mayors. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/06/15/us-mayors-to-push-for-ani-war-resolution_n_877817.html)

On the other side of the aisle, in the last Republican debate on CNN, none of the candidates were enthusiastic about war-mongering or war spending. McCain, Lieberman (fake Dem.) and Lindsay Graham are increasingly viewed as old farts stuck in the Bush-Cheney era. Ron Paul (with help from Obama) has greatly influenced the Tea Party and helped legitimize non-interventionism among more mainstream types.

Citizens in both parties have to push back against militarism. The peace community on the left does this habitually (and gets co-opted and pandered to every time), but now the right can also develop its deficit-fighting, anti-intervention wing. I expect that the next time Obama wants to bomb a country like Libya ($1.1 billion by September), the Tea Party will be at the forefront of the protests.

The President is arguing that drone attacks do not constitute "hostilites." According to this new theory, the wars in Libya, Yemen and Pakistan do not require any involvement of Congress.

Definitions of "war" or "hostilities" aside, Yemen and Pakistan set much worse precedents than Libya, since the drone death missions in those countries have mostly been kept secret and Congress-free. These rogue missions in defiance of international law are much harder to scrutinize and object to. Under Bush-Cheney and Obama they have become part of our militaristic and political culture. That's got to change.

How quickly you forget your euphemisms! It's not military action, it's "kinetic military activity"!

Wonderment
06-17-2011, 09:02 PM
How quickly you forget your euphemisms! It's not military action, it's "kinetic military activity"!

The all-time best euphemism for war is "pacification (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pacification_operations_in_German-occupied_Poland)."

"Humanitarian intervention," "kinetic activity," and "destroying the village in order to save it" pale by comparison. Hard as we try, we can't match Nazi Doublespeak:

Pacifications included the extermination of entire villages including women and children, expulsions, the burning of homes, confiscation of private property, and arrests... An example of such behaviour is the burning alive of 81 civilians and the shooting of 15 others in the village of Jabłoń-Dobki.

Wonderment
06-17-2011, 10:15 PM
President Obama dissents (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/world/africa/18powers.html)from Office of Legal Counsel.

Presidents have the legal authority to override the legal conclusions of the Office of Legal Counsel and to act in a manner that is contrary to its advice, but it is extraordinarily rare for that to happen. Under normal circumstances, the office’s interpretation of the law is legally binding on the executive branch.

According to Obama, drone bombs are not hostile.

chiwhisoxx
06-18-2011, 03:26 AM
President Obama dissents (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/18/world/africa/18powers.html)from Office of Legal Counsel.



According to Obama, drone bombs are not hostile.

well, the title is certainly roundabout enough to make it seem like they're trying to cover for obama, but wow? overruling his own lawyers on this seems like kind of a big deal. going beyond the "if a republican did this...!" card, I thought one of the cardinal sins of the Bush administration Obama was going to remedy was ignoring experts?

graz
06-18-2011, 09:19 AM
well, the title is certainly roundabout enough to make it seem like they're trying to cover for obama, but wow? overruling his own lawyers on this seems like kind of a big deal. going beyond the "if a republican did this...!" card, I thought one of the cardinal sins of the Bush administration Obama was going to remedy was ignoring experts?
Proof positive that Obama is as bad as if not worse than Bush -- on everything!

Wonderment is a pacifist who chooses to personalize and assign blame for U.S. military policy. In other words -- it's Obama's fault -- not his responsibility. Maybe it gives him pleasure if little genuine consolation.

You are a Republican loyalist that will take any opportunity to rehabilitate GWB (even as you claim to be too young to have paid full attention at the time). It's an understandable play if not a proud one. So take your shots and enjoy.

But can you make a definitive case for whether or not the expanding "drone" policy is providing an essential National defense? Is the evidence readily available? Is it a matter of trust in the CIC? Put your bipartisan hat on and speculate.

chiwhisoxx
06-18-2011, 12:11 PM
Proof positive that Obama is as bad as if not worse than Bush -- on everything!

Wonderment is a pacifist who chooses to personalize and assign blame for U.S. military policy. In other words -- it's Obama's fault -- not his responsibility. Maybe it gives him pleasure if little genuine consolation.

You are a Republican loyalist that will take any opportunity to rehabilitate GWB (even as you claim to be too young to have paid full attention at the time). It's an understandable play if not a proud one. So take your shots and enjoy.

But can you make a definitive case for whether or not the expanding "drone" policy is providing an essential National defense? Is the evidence readily available? Is it a matter of trust in the CIC? Put your bipartisan hat on and speculate.

nah, i'm not trying to rehabilitate GWB. the shots I was taking were directed more at the media than anything else. i'm not sure ignoring experts is a good thing when bush or obama does it. also, do you not think this story is at least sort of important? I honestly have no idea re: the drone policy. it seems like an empirical question, and one that I don't have the evidence to try and answer.

graz
06-18-2011, 01:35 PM
I honestly have no idea re: the drone policy. it seems like an empirical question, and one that I don't have the evidence to try and answer.
Me neither and that's what rankles so. All the policy carried out in our name, for our protection. How can a person of conscience accept that fact without concern? Unfortunately, I don't know of a realistic alternative. I don't believe that the evidence is a matter of public knowledge and available for scrutiny. Nor do I reflexively accept the contention of it as a necessary component of National defense as portrayed by the current administration.

But I'll be certain to respectfully decline any invitations to open-air wedding parties in Pakistan or Afghanistan in the near future.

Wonderment
06-18-2011, 03:01 PM
Wonderment is a pacifist who chooses to personalize and assign blame for U.S. military policy. In other words -- it's Obama's fault -- not his responsibility. Maybe it gives him pleasure if little genuine consolation.

On the contrary, I like Obama. I blame the system for Obama's paralysis as an agent of change. It's not me but the party apparatus and the MSM that deified Obama, creating the illusion of greatness before any greatness happened. The apotheosis was best exemplified in the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to an individual who had never done one single thing for peace.

Don't get stuck on Obama. Obama will come and go and we'll be left with the same challenges.

Wonderment
06-18-2011, 06:59 PM
NYT today. (http://www.nytimes.com/2011/06/19/us/politics/19gates.html?_r=1&hp)

[Gates said]the human costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan had made him far more wary about unleashing the might of the American armed forces

graz
06-18-2011, 09:52 PM
On the contrary, I like Obama.

Sure you do, as you mock, undermine him and do everything in your power to empower his opponents (the one's you dreamily suggest are at the threshold of finally igniting your peace/anti-war movement). Good luck with the coalition (really). I betcha a President Bachmann or Perry will help you realize your dream.

Even if we share a similar destination, you may unwittingly destroy the means for arrival -- or maybe wittingly -- that'll learn 'em.

Don't get stuck on Obama.
I can't, you've got him completely covered.

AemJeff
06-18-2011, 10:09 PM
On the contrary, I like Obama. I blame the system for Obama's paralysis as an agent of change. It's not me but the party apparatus and the MSM that deified Obama, creating the illusion of greatness before any greatness happened. The apotheosis was best exemplified in the awarding of a Nobel Peace Prize to an individual who had never done one single thing for peace.

Don't get stuck on Obama. Obama will come and go and we'll be left with the same challenges.

If you strongly value a left-wing agenda, then the first order of business for you is to do what you can to give left-wing ideas some space in the public conversation. Attacking the successful politicians who most closely approximate your agenda for not pushing their personal agenda outside the Overton window, as it exists at a given time, is not a strategy that's likely to increase the viability of the ideas you claim to value. You seem to want too much, too soon.

Wonderment
06-18-2011, 10:32 PM
Good luck with the coalition (really). I betcha a President Bachmann or Perry will help you realize your dream.

Thanks for your good wishes on supporting a bipartisan peace coalition. We have had a steady hawk (interventionist) coalition for far too long. That's what's crumbling.

What's emerging, no matter who wins the White House (and I agree that Bachman or Perry would be a nightmare), is a Congress less inclined to engage in and spend on "wars of choice" (as Gates put it today) and trumped-up "humanitarian" wars.

The NYT article suggests that Gates' memoirs will illustrate how he became the reigning dove in both the Bush and Obama administrations. He has reservations about all the wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and (potentially) Iran. If you haven't noticed, Gates is a formerly centrist Republican, and the positions he is taking today would have been heresy a few years ago. This is not the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but it's a significant trend.

If you don't think something unusual is going on when zero Republican candidates for president are running on Perpetual War Theory, reflect on how they were talking 4, 8 and 12 years ago. Many Republicans are coming to realize that you cannot spend billions per month in Afghanistan building a state of Opium Lords, religious fanatics and plutocrats (in the name of schools for girls), while cutting Medicare at home. The math doesn't work, and the ideology is depraved.

graz
06-18-2011, 10:48 PM
If you don't think something unusual is going on when zero Republican candidates for president are running on Perpetual War Theory, reflect on how they were talking 4, 8 and 12 years ago. Many Republicans are coming to realize that you cannot spend billions per month in Afghanistan building a state of Opium Lords, religious fanatics and plutocrats (in the name of schools for girls), while cutting Medicare at home. The math doesn't work, and the ideology is depraved.
No it's not unusual. It's actually quite predictable. Did you see the New Hampshire debate? There was no denunciation on the grounds you alluded to. It was ignored by default so that they could out-conservative each other. Their priorities in that flawed multiperson format were to portray Obama as a loser. Unlike you apparently ... they mean it.

Wonderment
06-19-2011, 12:22 AM
Did you see the New Hampshire debate?

Yes, but John McCain and I must be hallucinating about the message (http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0611/57266.html):

"This is isolationism. There's always been an … isolation strain on the Republican Party — that Pat Buchanan wing of our party. But now it seems to have moved more center stage."

McCain -- still Grenada-happy after all these years! - was asked that perennially dumb question, What Would Ronnie Say?

AMANPOUR: “What would He be saying today? If He heard, for instance, Michele Bachmann or Mitt Romney?” [at the NH debate]

McCAIN: “He would be saying: That's not the Republican Party of the 20th century, and now the 21st Century. That is not the Republican Party that has been willing to stand up for freedom for people for all over the world, whether it be in Grenada — that Ronald Reagan had a quick operation about — or whether it be in our enduring commitment to countering the Soviet Union.”

TwinSwords
06-19-2011, 01:52 AM
The NYT article suggests that Gates' memoirs will illustrate how he became the reigning dove in both the Bush and Obama administrations. He has reservations about all the wars: Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and (potentially) Iran. If you haven't noticed, Gates is a formerly centrist Republican, and the positions he is taking today would have been heresy a few years ago. This is not the dawning of the Age of Aquarius, but it's a significant trend.

Gates scolds Europe (http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/article/Gates-warns-of-NATO-irrelevance-due-to-Europe-1425598.php) for not spending enough on defense, not contributing enough to war-making operations, and says their failure to invest in defense threatens NATO's ability to project power, wage war, and succeed in both Afghanistan and Libya.

Gates commended the Europeans for sticking with the fight in Afghanistan and doubling the number of their troops there during his 4 1/2 years in office.

[...]

He cited "serious capability gaps and other institutional shortcomings laid bare by the Libya operation," which was spurred largely by European countries, including France and Britain.

[...]

"We have the spectacle of an air operations center designed to handle more than 300 sorties per day struggling to launch about 150," he said.

Such weaknesses "have the potential to jeopardize the alliance's ability to conduct an integrated, effective and sustained air-sea campaign," Gates said.

Some countries have made the most of the assets they have, he said.

"In the Libya operation, Norway and Denmark, have provided 12 percent of allied strike aircraft yet have struck about one third of the targets," Gates said. "Belgium and Canada are also making major contributions to the strike mission."

The resulting "two-tiered alliance" of those members that pull their weight compared with others that don't "is no longer a hypothetical worry. We are there today," Gates said. "And it is unacceptable."

Wonderment
06-19-2011, 02:30 AM
Gates scolds Europe for not spending enough on defense, not contributing enough to war-making operations, and says their failure to invest in defense threatens NATO's ability to project power, wage war, and succeed in both Afghanistan and Libya.


Yes, there's some whining about Europe getting a free ride while the USA pays in blood and treasure. If that kind of resentment fuels some of the opposition to militarism, it's fine by me.

Gates is not Gandhi. He's just a changed man. Change you can believe in.

TwinSwords
06-19-2011, 03:11 AM
Yes, there's some whining about Europe getting a free ride while the USA pays in blood and treasure.
Well, sure. But that wasn't Gates's point. Gates's point is that if the West is going to continue projecting power and exercising hegemony, Europe is going to need to increase its military budgets and participate more actively in waging war against the West's designated enemies.

You know. Like a dove.

Florian
06-19-2011, 03:58 AM
Well, sure. But that wasn't Gates's point. Gates's point is that if the West is going to continue projecting power and exercising hegemony, Europe is going to need to increase its military budgets and participate more actively in waging war against the West's designated enemies.

You know. Like a dove.

Precisely. The US wants NATO, an alliance originally formed for the defense of western Europe against the Soviet Union, to act as the "humanitarian" arm of the US in its quest to spread "democracy" to the benighted regions of the earth. But it is not at all clear how a military alliance can be transformed into a state-building/humanitarian operation. The most recent adventure in Libya, led by the UK and France, illustrates only too well the weaknesses of NATO in this respect.

The two countries in the EU that spend the most on their militaries, the UK and France, are unlikely to be persuaded by Gates to increase their military budgets, even if they were not already broke....

Wonderment
06-19-2011, 01:56 PM
The two countries in the EU that spend the most on their militaries, the UK and France, are unlikely to be persuaded by Gates to increase their military budgets, even if they were not already broke....

Plus, Euro-free-loading is a smart strategy from their POV. Also, gives the EU some distance on the USA's insane relationship with Israel. It's a little bit good cop/bad cop, but one "good cop" is always better than two bad ones.

That may actually be an advantage to having a Dem. president. Since Europeans worship O as much as liberal Americans do, they may be able to talk him down from joining an Israeli-inspired war on Iran.

graz
06-19-2011, 02:10 PM
Since Europeans worship O as much as liberal Americans do...
What does Oprah have to do with it? O wait, it's a dig at the liberals (unlike you) that have an unhealthy reverence for a politician. The narrative suits your disappointment, so it's likely to be on regular rotation on your playlist. Changing the world, one small snark at a time. Big T.H.I.N.K. in action.

Florian
06-19-2011, 03:56 PM
Plus, Euro-free-loading is a smart strategy from their POV. Also, gives the EU some distance on the USA's insane relationship with Israel. It's a little bit good cop/bad cop, but one "good cop" is always better than two bad ones.

That may actually be an advantage to having a Dem. president. Since Europeans worship O as much as liberal Americans do, they may be able to talk him down from joining an Israeli-inspired war on Iran.

Europeans do not worship Obama, now that they have seen him in office for two years. Nor do the NATO countries free-load on the US (in fact, if you exclude expenditures on high-tech weaponry, France, Germany and England, with a smaller total population than the US, contribute more financially to the alliance than the US). You have been listening to too much American wingnuttery, wonderment. I hope you are right, though, that the Europeans can talk Obama down from joining an Israel-inspired war with Iran, though I think that you seriously overestimate their likely influence on either party.

Wonderment
06-19-2011, 09:28 PM
Changing the world, one small snark at a time.

Given that you, Graz, never resort to snark, I'll really be taking this criticism to heart.

Wonderment
06-19-2011, 09:46 PM
Nor do the NATO countries free-load on the US (in fact, if you exclude expenditures on high-tech weaponry, France, Germany and England, with a smaller total population than the US, contribute more financially to the alliance than the US).

I could, but won't, dispute that. I'm all for GLOBAL disarmament, so I totally support all NATO members downsizing their commitment. Times are tough all over; the smart money is on butter, not guns.


I hope you are right, though, that the Europeans can talk Obama down from joining an Israel-inspired war with Iran, though I think that you seriously overestimate their likely influence on either party.

Knee-jerk support for Israeli craziness is a major threat to the burgeoning bipartisan peace coalition in the USA. The second any political figure starts to make the slightest sense about our relationship to Israel, AIPAC mobilizes, the anti-Semite smears are deployed and virtually all politicians run for cover. We need to develop some alternatives to the politics of support-whatever -Likud-says-or-you're-doomed.

graz
06-19-2011, 11:13 PM
Given that you, Graz, never resort to snark, I'll really be taking this criticism to heart.

It's not your heart that I'm after. Nor am I going to begrudge the snark. Just hoping to influence your attitude of deigning to know the minds and hearts of Liberals of a different stripe than you. Who could pass the Wonderment litmus test? Maybe not even you?

Wonderment
06-20-2011, 01:22 AM
Sen. Rand Paul on war spending:

"Our current expansive foreign policies are no longer fiscally possible to sustain."

Sen. Lindsay Graham on debating funds for the Libya War:

"Congress should sort of shut up."

Florian
06-20-2011, 05:47 AM
I could, but won't, dispute that. I'm all for GLOBAL disarmament, so I totally support all NATO members downsizing their commitment. Times are tough all over; the smart money is on butter, not guns..


I don't know how you could dispute it:

http://www.nato.int/cps/en/natolive/topics_67655.htm?

Notice that the contributions of France, UK, and Germany (total population 230 million) to the common civil and military budgets exceed that of the US (300 million). Of course, the US military as a whole is an independent organization and spends far more on weaponry than all of the other NATO countries.

Neither NATO nor the military budgets of individual European countries are going to disappear any time soon. The sooner the EU, led by France and the UK (maybe Germany), unhitches from NATO, the better. Only then will it be able to conduct a foreign policy that is independent of the US. But the former east block countries are a big obstacle to unhitching.

Knee-jerk support for Israeli craziness is a major threat to the burgeoning bipartisan peace coalition in the USA. The second any political figure starts to make the slightest sense about our relationship to Israel, AIPAC mobilizes, the anti-Semite smears are deployed and virtually all politicians run for cover. We need to develop some alternatives to the politics of support-whatever -Likud-says-or-you're-doomed.

All very true. But in the absence of a concerted EU policy, I don't think that any one country other than the US can exert influence on Israel.

stephanie
06-20-2011, 01:04 PM
reflect on how they were talking 4, 8 and 12 years ago.

I am reflecting on how they were talking 12 years ago. That's why I disagree with your interpretation of what's going on.

Wonderment
06-21-2011, 09:55 PM
The "Left-Right peace Alliance" (http://original.antiwar.com/vlahos/2011/06/20/left-right-alliance/)

Events, including civil disobedience, are planned for October.

The evening was moderated by Baltimore radio talk show host Marc Steiner, and sponsored by Come Home America, the brainchild of [Kevin] Zeese. He sees a left-right alliance as the natural evolution of a peace movement that’s floundered as the longtime proprietary activity of liberal-Democratic America.

graz
06-21-2011, 10:00 PM
The "Left-Right peace Alliance" (http://original.antiwar.com/vlahos/2011/06/20/left-right-alliance/)

Events, including civil disobedience, are planned for October.

Keep hope alive.

Change you can believe in.