Donald Trump repeatedly raised the possibility of invading Venezuela in talks with his top aides at the White House, according to a new report.
Trump brought up the subject of an invasion in public in August last year, saying: “We have many options for Venezuela, including a possible military option, if necessary.” But the president’s musings about the possibility of a US invasion were more extensive and persistent than that public declaration, according to the Associated Press.
The previous day Trump reportedly took his top officials by surprise in an Oval Office meeting, asking why the US could not intervene to remove the government of Nicolas Maduro on the grounds that Venezuela’s political and economic unraveling represented a threat to the region.
Quoting an unnamed senior administration official, the AP report said the suggestion stunned those present at the meeting, which included the then national security advisor, HR McMaster, and secretary of state, Rex Tillerson. Both have since left the administration.
The administration officials are said to have taken turns in trying to talk him out of the idea, pointing out that any such military action would alienate Latin American allies who had supported the US policy of punitive sanctions on the Maduro regime.
Their arguments do not seem to have dissuaded the president.
A grim-faced Tillerson stood alongside Trump the next day at his New Jersey golf course at Bedminster as the president warmed to his theme.
“We have many options for Venezuela, this is our neighbour,” Trump said.
“We’re all over the world and we have troops all over the world in places that are very very far away, Venezuela is not very far away and the people are suffering and dying. We have many options for Venezuela including a possible military option if necessary.”
Honestly, this scares me quite a bit. Trump is a creature of the corporate media (Fox, obviously, but CNN and the major newspapers too – Trump cares if they cover him), and has been trained by years of corporate media’s jingoistic support of any military action the United States happens to be involved in. Trump saw what happened to Bush’s ratings during the Iraq War1, how the invasion of Grenada played out, Noriega’s overthrow, yadda yadda. Trump is looking for any excuse to send our troops into battle, not for any geopolitical reasons, but to juice his approval ratings.
both of them, actually, Bush the Smarter, and W’s adventures in the Middle East [↩]
Ok, here’s a pretty weird story. The US started, then abandoned a top-secret military base under the ice of Greenland, called Camp Century aka Project Iceworm. The original goal was to have thousands of miles of underground tunnels and rail, and 600 nuclear missiles ready to be deployed against Moscow if they ever attempted to hack our elections. Ok, not that last part. But the tunnels, and nuclear weapons, that was real. The US didn’t even bother to ask the Danish government if it was ok with them to have nuclear weapons stored here, but in the end it didn’t matter because the ice turned out to be too unstable and the project was cancelled.
The Pentagon did what it often has done, left behind all the waste and garbage, even though much of it is toxic. Fast forward a few decades, and factor in climate change, and we have a real problem as Sarah Laskow of Wired writes:
Under the thick ice of Greenland, a scant 800 miles from the North Pole, the U.S. military built a hidden base of ice tunnels, imagined as an extensive network of railway tracks, stretching over 2,500 miles, that would keep 600 nuclear missiles buried under the ice. Construction began in 1959, under cover of a scientific research project, and soon a small installation, powered by a nuclear reactor, nested in the ice sheet.
In the midst of the Cold War, Greenland seemed like a strategic point for the U.S. to stage weapons, ready to attack the U.S.S.R. The thick ice sheet, military planners imagined, would provide permanent protection for the base. But after the first tunnels were built, the military discovered that the ice sheet was not as stable as it needed to be: It moved and shifted, destabilizing the tunnels. Within a decade, Camp Century was abandoned.
By the time the base was abandoned in 1967, it had its own library and theater, an infirmary, kitchen and mess hall, a chapel, and two power plants (one nuclear, one run on diesel). When the base closed, key parts of the nuclear power plant were removed, but most of the base’s infrastructure was left behind—the buildings, the railways, the sewage, the diesel fuel, and the low-level radioactive waste. In the 2016 paper, which Colgan worked on as well, the researchers suggested that the radiological waste was less worrisome than the more extensive chemical waste, from diesel fuel and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) used to insulate fluids and paints.
Overall, the researchers estimated that 20,000 liters of chemical waste remain at the Camp Century site, along with 24 million liters of “biological waste associated with untreated sewage.” That’s just at Camp Century; the military closed down bases at three other sites in Greenland, too, and it’s unclear how much waste is left there. Over the next few decades, the researchers found, melt water from the ice sheets could mobilize these pollutants, exposing both the wildlife and humans living in Greenland.
Speaking of Ted “Calgary” Cruz, did you hear the part of the Republican Debate last night where Cruz demanded the US commit war crimes?
CRUZ: Well Chris, I will apologize to nobody for the vigorousness with which I will fight terrorism, go after ISIS, hunt them down wherever they are and utterly and completely destroy ISIS.
You know, you claim it is tough talk to discuss carpet bombing. It is not tough talk. It is a different fundamental military strategy than what we’ve seen from Barack Obama. […]
You want to know what carpet bombing is? It’s what we did in the first Persian Gulf war. 1100 air attacks a day, saturation bombing that utterly destroyed the enemy. Right now, Barack Obama is launching between 15 and 30 air attacks a day. He’s not arming the Kurds.
We need to define the enemy. We need to rebuild the military to defeat the enemy and we need to be focused and lift the rules of engagement so we’re not sending our fighting men and women into combat with their arms tied behind their backs.
Carpet bombing: the indiscriminate slaughter of civilians, bombing hospitals, schools, neighborhoods, anything alive at all. Very Christian of you, Teddy. I guess I missed that part of Jesus Christ’s message that called for indiscriminate slaughter of innocent babies and pregnant mothers.
Born To Kill…
Seriously, even the Pentagon doesn’t think that’s a good strategy, but then Commandant Cruz doesn’t often listen to experts…
The Pentagon on Wednesday criticized proposals to fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) that it says would fuel the terrorist group’s recruitment abilities.
“It’s clear from ISIL’s strategy that their objective is to cause us to engage in what they believe is an apocalyptic war with the West,” said Gen. Paul Selva, vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, using an alternate acronym for ISIS. “And anything that we do to feed that particular frame of thinking counters our national security, and we have to be very careful about how we prosecute a campaign that appears to be an indiscriminate attempt to attack ISIL and the population that surrounds it.”
“We will carpet bomb them into oblivion,” Cruz said last weekend in Iowa. “I don’t know if sand can glow in the dark, but we’re going to find out.”
[Senator] McCaskill slammed Cruz’s comments, saying that actually carpet bombing Iraq or Syria would kill numerous innocent women and children, prompting some to side with ISIS.
“If we did an indiscriminate carpet bombing of a major area and killed thousands of women and children, would you assume that would have some impact on their ability to recruit misguided barbarians like this couple that took out more than a dozen innocent people last week?” she said, referring to the couple suspected of carrying out last week’s shooting in San Bernardino, Calif. “I would have to assume it would put their recruiting on steroids.”
Selva avoided answering directly, saying the military’s campaign strives to avoid collateral damage.
“I’m going to avoid anything hypothetical,” he said. “What I would say, categorically, is the process you described as your hypothetical question is not the way that we apply force in combat. It isn’t now, nor will it ever be.”
Investigators believe live anthrax samples inadvertently may have been sent from an Army research facility to as many as 18 labs in nine states and South Korea, officials said Thursday.
The U.S. military has ordered 22 service members and Defense Department civilians in South Korea who may have come near the live samples to take the antibiotic Cipro as a precautionary measure.
“There are no suspected or confirmed cases of anthrax infection in any of these personnel,” said Col. Steve Warren, the chief Pentagon spokesman.
In addition to South Korea’s Osan Air Base, the defense lab at the Dugway Proving Ground in Utah also sent samples of anthrax to the Naval Surface Warfare Center in Virginia, and the Edgewood Chemical Biological Center in Maryland.
The Pentagon hasn’t identified private labs that received the shipment, nor said whether their employees are being treated as a precaution. But U.S. officials said there are no confirmed cases of anthrax infection in anyone who came in contact with the samples. The civilian labs are in Texas, Wisconsin, Delaware, Tennessee, California, New York and New Jersey.
I wonder how that FBI investigation into the weaponized anthrax attacks during the run-up to the Boondoggle in the Iraqi Desert aka Operation Iraqi Freedom is going, btw? Remember? Since there no convictions, I’m guessing the investigation continues, and Dick Cheney chuckles…
If you ever doubted that America has two sets of laws; one for the elite, and one for rest us, look no further than the case of career Republican operative and Pentagon courtier, General David Patraeus.
Petraeus, a retired four-star general who served as commander of American forces in both Iraq and Afghanistan, has said he never provided classified information to Ms. Broadwell, and has indicated to the Justice Department that he has no interest in a plea deal that would spare him an embarrassing trial. A lawyer for Mr. Petraeus, Robert B. Barnett, said Friday he had no comment.
The officials who said that charges had been recommended were briefed on the investigation but asked for anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss it.
Mr. Holder was expected to decide by the end of last year whether to bring charges against Mr. Petraeus, but he has not indicated how he plans to proceed. The delay has frustrated some Justice Department and F.B.I. officials and investigators who have questioned whether Mr. Petraeus has received special treatment at a time Mr. Holder has led a crackdown on government officials who reveal secrets to journalists.
Let us be clear: David Petraeus broke laws that he swore to upheld, despite these being fairly mundane leaks, mostly serving to burnish his own mythology. I doubt his biographer damaged national security by allowing Petraeus into her bed, and allowing his biographer access to his classified files, but the bottom line is other, lesser officials have suffered for breaking these same laws, and Petraeus has escaped consequence. If Petraeus was a low-level leaker, or someone like Edward Snowden, he’d be in Gitmo by now. Instead, he’s escaped any consequences. Why is that fair?
I understand that Washington classifies every single document possible, and this is a problem too, but that’s not relevant. Petraeus is avoiding answering for his transgressions solely because he is well known to the public.
And as Trevor Timm write:
It doesn’t matter what Petraeus’s motive for leaking was either. While most felonies require mens rea (an intentional state of mind) for a crime to have occurred, under the Espionage Act this is not required. It doesn’t matter that Petraeus is not an actual spy. It also doesn’t matter if Petraeus leaked the information by accident, or whether he leaked it to better inform the public, or even whether he leaked it to stop a terrorist attack. It’s still technically a crime, and his motive for leaking cannot be brought up at trial as a defense.
This may seem grossly unfair (and it is!), but remember, as prosecutors themselves apparently have been arguing in private about Petraeus’s case: “lower-ranking officials had been prosecuted for far less.” Under the Obama administration, more sources of reporters have been prosecuted under the Espionage Act than all other administrations combined, and many have been sentenced to jail for leaks that should have never risen to the level of a criminal indictment.
Ultimately, no one should be charged with espionage when they didn’t commit espionage, but if prosecutors are going to use the heinous Espionage Act to charge leakers, they should at least do it fairly and across the board—no matter one’s rank in the military or position in the government. So in one sense, this development is a welcome one.
For years, the Espionage Act prosecutions have only been for low-level officials, while the heads of federal agencies leak with impunity. For example, current CIA director John Brennan, former CIA director Leon Panetta, and former CIA general counsel John Rizzo are just three of many high-ranking government officials who have gotten off with little to no punishment despite the fact we know they’ve leaked information to the media that the government considers classified.
The United States military and civilian government both really screwed over the Marshall Islands. Horrifying.
THERE is no consistent air service to the coral atoll of Enewetak in the Marshall Islands, where the United States tested 67 nuclear weapons between 1946 and 1958. On my first trip to the capital, Majuro, in 2010, to study the danger posed there by the rising ocean, I managed to get on a special flight taking dignitaries to Enewetak for the dedication of a school. From there, I boarded a small boat to visit a nuclear waste dump that the world had all but forgotten.
The Marshall Islands are only about six feet above sea level. Its survival and that of other island nations are on the minds of negotiators gathering this week in Lima, Peru, for a United Nations climate change conference.
This place stands out for its misfortunes: ravaged first by radioactivity from tests conducted after World War II and, now, by the rising seas that threaten to swallow it.
Detonated an insane amount of nuclear weaponry, then split the scene like a bad morning-after date…
Bikini was so radioactive that there was little hope of allowing its displaced population ever to return home. But the military studied how to clean up Enewetak so that at least some land could become habitable again. The Defense Department concluded that there was so much soil contaminated with cesium-137 and strontium-90 that the safest approach was to leave it alone and let it decay naturally. Both have half-lives of about 30 years.
But also left behind by the blasts was plutonium-239, which has a half-life of 24,000 years. With enough plutonium-239 in the right form, a bomb could be made. That is why the United States participated in a $150 million operation, completed in 2012, to secure and clean up the plutonium at a Soviet-era nuclear test site in Kazakhstan.
At Enewetak, the United States decided in the late 1970s to dump as much plutonium-contaminated soil as it could gather into a 33-foot-deep crater on Runit that had been carved out in 1958 by a bomb roughly the size of the one detonated over Hiroshima.
In addition to the contaminated soil, crews filled 437 plastic bags with plutonium chunks they had picked up from the ground, left behind when one bomb misfired. These also went into the crater, which was then covered with an 18-inch-thick concrete cap. Most of the rest of the radioactive waste, with too little plutonium to trouble with, was bulldozed into the lagoon, over the objections of the Environmental Protection Agency and the displaced people of Enewetak. American officials also chose to leave radiation on the land at levels far higher than would be allowed after a similar cleanup in the United States.
Northern Mariana Islands
and with typical American nonchalance for the future, the US didn’t really plan for what would happen to the nuclear waste beyond a few years:
Longevity was not among the design criteria for the Runit dome (unlike Yucca Mountain in Nevada, where, until recently, the federal government planned to deposit its spent nuclear fuel deep underground in facilities designed to be safe for at least one million years). In fact the dome does not meet American standards for landfills for household trash.
A task force of the federal government’s National Research Council warned in 1982 that the dome might be breached by a severe typhoon. But a 2013 report sponsored by the Department of Energy saw no reason to worry. “Catastrophic failure of the concrete dome,” it said, “and instantaneous release of all its contents into the lagoon will not necessarily lead to any significant change in the radiation dose delivered to the local resident population.”
The reason, according to the report, was that the radiation inside the dome was “dwarfed” by the radiation in the sediments in the lagoon. Thus a leak from the dome would be no added threat because it is dirtier on the outside than the inside. Plutonium isotopes recently discovered in the South China Sea have been traced to the Marshall Islands, some 2,800 miles away.
An inspection last year found that the dome was deteriorating, and the radioactive groundwater below rises and falls with the tides. Storms wash sand onto the dome; vines grow in the cracks.
Wasted Youth Wanna Make Fight – Guam 1998
You should click through and read the rest of Michael B. Gerrard’s article, you’ll be amazed and terrified. And as the Pacific Ocean rises, all of this nuclear waste is going to sent right into all of our food supplies. Guam may be a thousand miles away or so, but that’s too close for my comfort. We all still live on the same planet…
This sounds like a good thing for Chicago; in our society, Defense budget items are sacrosanct, as we1 would rather cut the ability of poor people to eat2, or the medical cost reimbursements of a veteran before we3 slice a dime from the military machine’s budget…
Chicago will be the site of a digital manufacturing institute backed by $70 million in government money and another $250 million of private finding…Chicago competed against several other locations in a bidding process run by the Defense Department. The city envisions the institute would focus on such projects as the faster and cheaper production of a next-generation aircraft engine; drastically reducing the amount of scrap material associated with small manufacturing runs; and speeding the design process among geographically dispersed suppliers.
“This is clearly, without a doubt, one of the most significant things to secure Chicago’s long-term economic future,” Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel said in a Saturday interview. “It is the best insurance policy you can buy, which is major research capacity.”
The $70 million grant will come from the Department of Defense. But far more was at stake, as city officials and business leaders quietly raised private commitments in excess of $5 million each from General Electric, Rolls-Royce, Procter & Gamble, Siemens, Lockheed Martin and The Dow Chemical Co.
The new institute, which is proposed for a leased building on the northern end of Goose Island, would fall under the oversight of UI Labs, a nascent University of Illinois-affiliated effort focused on turning academic research into moneymaking, job-creating products. UI Labs stands for “Universities and Industries.”
AMMAN, Jordan — ACCORDING to Bill Clinton, Barack Obama risks looking like a “fool” if he decides not to intervene militarily in Syria’s continuing civil war. Likening the situation to his decision to intervene in Kosovo in 1999, Mr. Clinton said Tuesday that if he hadn’t used force to stop Serbia’s campaign of ethnic cleansing, critics might have said: “You could have stopped this by dropping a few bombs. Why didn’t you do it?” Mr. Clinton believes that Mr. Obama could end up looking like a “total wuss” if he doesn’t intervene. And it seems he’s going to act.
Why is America so hell-bent upon getting involved in another nation’s civil war? What interest does it serve? I have yet to hear a compelling reason the US should be involved.
For nearly two years, the Obama administration has described the Syrian regime as having “lost all legitimacy” and “clinging to power.” And yet, it has surprisingly endured. That’s because neither assertion is really accurate. Mr. Assad still has strong support from many Syrians, including members of the Sunni urban class. While the assistance Syria receives from its external allies, like Iran and Russia, is important, it would be inconsequential if the Assad regime were not backed by a significant portion of the population.
Interventionists tend to detach their actions from longer-term consequences. This myopia is often coupled with a prevalent misunderstanding of the political and cultural context of where they want to intervene. Both problems are present in the current American approach to Syria.
The Syrian revolution isn’t democratic or secular; the more than 90,000 fatalities are the result of a civil war, not a genocide — and human rights violations have been committed on both sides.
Moreover, the rebels don’t have the support or trust of a clear majority of the population, and the political opposition is neither credible nor representative. Ethnic cleansing against minorities is more likely to occur under a rebel-led government than under Mr. Assad; likewise, the possibility of chemical weapons’ falling into the hands of terrorist groups only grows as the regime weakens.
And finally, a rebel victory is more likely to destabilize Iraq and Lebanon, and the inevitable disorder of a post-Assad Syria constitutes a greater threat to Israel than the status quo.
Not since the 2003 invasion of Iraq has American foreign policy experienced a strategic void so pervasive.
The responsible role of a lone superpower is not to pick sides in a civil war; it’s to help enable conflict resolution while maintaining a policy of neutrality. Instead, the United States came down on one side of a regional sectarian conflict, inadvertently fomenting Sunni hubris and Shiite fear — the same effects (but in reverse) caused by America’s involvement in the Iraq war.
I sincerely hope President Obama comes to his senses, and ignores the warmongers.
WASHINGTON — For two years, President Obama has resisted being drawn deeper into the civil war in Syria. It was a miserable problem, he told aides, and not one he thought he could solve. At most, it could be managed. And besides, he wanted to be remembered for getting out of Middle East wars, not embarking on new ones.
Sounds reasonable enough to me. But war is the answer for everything, lest we forget.
MoDo – Get a Clue
I ignore the mean girl burbling of Maureen Dowd as much as possible; the only topic she writes with any clarity is sexual abuse and the Catholic Church. Otherwise, she’s predictable, and not interesting.
The oddity of Obama’s being taken to the leadership woodshed by the Democrat who preceded him and the Republican who failed to pre-empt him was not lost on anyone. When Obama appointed Clinton “the Secretary of ’Splaining Stuff,” he didn’t think Bill would be ’splaining how lame Barry was.
Yes, apparently, we are all foolish in our opposition to military intervention in Syria. President Obama is lame because he hasn’t already dropped nuclear bombs on Damascus. Only John McCain and Bill Clinton, and their ilk have all the facts, according to Dowd. Ironically, when President Clinton was in office, MoDo penned OpEd after OpEd ridiculing him. But Obama is even less of MoDo’s favorite, so now we get:
The less Obama leads, the more likely it is that history will see him as a pallid interregnum between two chaotic Clinton eras.
Yes, Hillary is going to lead the charge into Syria, and hence right into the White House. Uh huh.
Fading One By One
If the reason the US is “forced” to invade Syria is because 90,000 Syrians have died, Syria will have to get in line. More automobile accidents take place in a weekend than the number of civilians allegedly killed by chemical weapons in Syria.
“Our intelligence community has high confidence in that assessment given multiple, independent streams of information. The intelligence community estimates that 100 to 150 people have died from detected chemical weapons attacks in Syria to date; however, casualty data is likely incomplete. “
MOSCOW — The Russian government on Saturday stepped up its attack on the accusation by the United States that Syria had used chemical weapons against the rebels in its civil war, saying that evidence cited by the Americans was unreliable because the samples were not properly monitored until they reached a laboratory.
The angry criticism by Foreign Minister Sergey V. Lavrov at a news conference in Moscow was a setback to the United States’ efforts to forge a common position with the Kremlin on how to end the conflict, which has killed more than 90,000 Syrians.
The Russian foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has said that any attempt to enforce a no-fly zone over Syria using US fighter jets and Patriot missiles from Jordan would violate international law.
He said the evidence must meet the standards of the Organisation for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons, which specifies that samples taken from blood, urine and clothing can be considered reliable evidence only if supervised by organisation experts from the time they are gathered to when they are delivered to a laboratory.
Lavrov, after meeting with his Italian counterpart Emma Bonino, scoffed at suggestions that Assad’s regime would use chemical weapons now in light of its apparent growing advantage against the rebels.
“The regime doesn’t have its back to the wall. What would be the sense of the regime using chemical weapons, moreover at such a small quantity?” he said.
I laugh at the number of times Defense Department spending is discussed during talks of deficits and tax burdens, and slashing the social insurance of our nation. Rarely, if ever, do either party of our political elites want to mention how many dollars are squandered without oversight, feeding the maw of our military…
Americans rarely think about these bases, let alone how much of their tax money—and debt—is going to build and maintain them. For Dal Molin and related construction nearby, including a brigade headquarters, two sets of barracks, a natural-gas-powered energy plant, a hospital, two schools, a fitness center, dining facilities, and a mini-mall, taxpayers are likely to shell out at least half a billion dollars. (All the while, a majority of locals passionately and vocally oppose the new base.)
How much does the United States spend each year occupying the planet with its bases and troops? How much does it spend on its global presence? Forced by Congress to account for its spending overseas, the Pentagon has put that figure at $22.1 billion a year. It turns out that even a conservative estimate of the true costs of garrisoning the globe comes to an annual total of about $170 billion. In fact, it may be considerably higher. Since the onset of “the Global War on Terror” in 2001, the total cost for our garrisoning policies, for our presence abroad, has probably reached $1.8 trillion to $2.1 trillion.
How Much Do We Spend?
By law, the Pentagon must produce an annual ” Overseas Cost Summary” (OCS) putting a price on the military’s activities abroad, from bases to embassies and beyond. This means calculating all the costs of military construction, regular facility repairs, and maintenance, plus the costs of maintaining one million US military and Defense Department personnel and their families abroad—the pay checks, housing, schools, vehicles, equipment, and the transportation of personnel and materials overseas and back, and far, far more.
The latest OCS, for the 2012 fiscal year ending September 30th, documented $22.1 billion in spending, although, at Congress’s direction, this doesn’t include any of the more than $118 billion spent that year on the wars in Afghanistan and elsewhere around the globe.
While $22.1 billion is a considerable sum, representing about as much as the budgets for the Departments of Justice and Agriculture and about half the State Department’s 2012 budget, it contrasts sharply with economist Anita Dancs’s estimate of $250 billion. She included war spending in her total, but even without it, her figure comes to around $140 billion—still $120 billion more than the Pentagon suggests.
Ever the fool and armed only with the power of searchable PDFs, I nonetheless plunged into the bizarro world of Pentagon accounting, where ledgers are sometimes still handwritten and $1 billion can be a rounding error. I reviewed thousands of pages of budget documents, government and independent reports, and hundreds of line items for everything from shopping malls to military intelligence to postal subsidies.
If logic were part of the budget negotiations in Washington, the Pentagon would not be able to play such games. Why should taxpayers like you and me subsidize the military contractors who profit from bases in Kosovo? or wherever? If Medicaid and Medicare is on the table, why shouldn’t our insanely over-funded military budget be on the table too?
But don’t for a second think that that’s the end of our garrisoning costs. In addition to spending likely hidden in the nooks and crannies of its budget, there are other irregularities in the Pentagon’s accounting. Costs for 16 countries hosting US bases but left out of the OCS entirely, including Colombia, El Salvador, and Norway, may total more than $350 million. The costs of the military presence in Colombia alone could reach into the tens of millions in the context of more than $8.5 billion in Plan Colombia funding since 2000. The Pentagon also reports costs of less than $5 million each for Yemen, Israel, Uganda, and the Seychelles Islands, which seems unlikely and could add millions more.
When it comes to the general US presence abroad, other costs are too difficult to estimate reliably, including the price of Pentagon offices in the United States, embassies, and other government agencies that support bases and troops overseas. So, too, US training facilities, depots, hospitals, and even cemeteries allow overseas bases to function. Other spending includes currency-exchange costs, attorneys’ fees and damages won in lawsuits against military personnel abroad, short-term “temporary duty assignments,” US-based troops participating in exercises overseas, and perhaps even some of NASA’s military functions, space-based weapons, a percentage of recruiting costs required to staff bases abroad, interest paid on the debt attributable to the past costs of overseas bases, and Veterans Administration costs and other retirement spending for military personnel who served abroad.
Beyond my conservative estimate, the true bill for garrisoning the planet might be closer to $200 billion a year.
By now, you’ve probably read Kurt Eichenwald’s bombshell OpEd about the Bush Administration’s negligence. If you haven’t, go read it. Many of us suspected as much about Bush’s priorities, or lack of, which is why the 9/11 Commission was such a disappointment. Bush should have been impeached for dereliction of duty. I’m sure the GOP is gearing up to smear Mr. Eichenwald as soon as they can figure out a way to do so, because his revelations undermine the carefully constructed edifice of the Republicans claim to power.
The NeoCons were so concerned about overthrowing Saddam Hussein so as to be able to privatize the Iraqi oilfields that they let thousands of innocents die – in the US, and in Afghanistan and Iraq. Civilians in Baghdad and Kabul had nothing to do with the destruction of the World Trade Center.
Mr. Eichenwald writes:
The direct warnings to Mr. Bush about the possibility of a Qaeda attack began in the spring of 2001. By May 1, the Central Intelligence Agency told the White House of a report that “a group presently in the United States” was planning a terrorist operation. Weeks later, on June 22, the daily brief reported that Qaeda strikes could be “imminent,” although intelligence suggested the time frame was flexible.
But some in the administration considered the warning to be just bluster. An intelligence official and a member of the Bush administration both told me in interviews that the neoconservative leaders who had recently assumed power at the Pentagon were warning the White House that the C.I.A. had been fooled; according to this theory, Bin Laden was merely pretending to be planning an attack to distract the administration from Saddam Hussein, whom the neoconservatives saw as a greater threat. Intelligence officials, these sources said, protested that the idea of Bin Laden, an Islamic fundamentalist, conspiring with Mr. Hussein, an Iraqi secularist, was ridiculous, but the neoconservatives’ suspicions were nevertheless carrying the day.
In response, the C.I.A. prepared an analysis that all but pleaded with the White House to accept that the danger from Bin Laden was real.
Which brings me to another, related point – Mitt Romney’s campaign team employs many of these same NeoCon morons, as Ari Berman of The Nation reports:
A comprehensive review of [Romney’s] statements during the primary and his choice of advisers suggests a return to the hawkish, unilateral interventionism of the George W. Bush administration should he win the White House in November.
Romney is loath to mention Bush on the campaign trail, for obvious reasons, but today they sound like ideological soul mates on foreign policy. Listening to Romney, you’d never know that Bush left office bogged down by two unpopular wars that cost America dearly in blood and treasure. Of Romney’s forty identified foreign policy advisers, more than 70 percent worked for Bush. Many hail from the neoconservative wing of the party, were enthusiastic backers of the Iraq War and are proponents of a US or Israeli attack on Iran. Christopher Preble, a foreign policy expert at the Cato Institute, says, “Romney’s likely to be in the mold of George W. Bush when it comes to foreign policy if he were elected.” On some key issues, like Iran, Romney and his team are to the right of Bush. Romney’s embrace of the neoconservative cause—even if done cynically to woo the right—could turn into a policy nightmare if he becomes president.
If we take the candidate at his word, a Romney presidency would move toward war against Iran; closely align Washington with the Israeli right; leave troops in Afghanistan at least until 2014 and refuse to negotiate with the Taliban; reset the Obama administration’s “reset” with Russia; and pursue a Reagan-like military buildup at home. The Washington Monthly dubbed Romney’s foreign policy vision the “more enemies, fewer friends” doctrine, which is chillingly reminiscent of the world Obama inherited from Bush.
War criminals and their enablers like John Bolton, Paula Dobriansky, Eliot Cohen, Robert Kagan, Robert Joseph, Dan Señor, Eric Edelman and others. A vote for Romney is a vote for a belligerent American foreign policy based on faulty assumptions without consideration of consequences. Is that really what we want? We still haven’t recovered from the first time those idiots were the Decision Makers.
U.S. Kills Bin Laden
More from The Nation on the Romney NeoCon team:
Bolton is one of eight Romney advisers who signed letters drafted by the Project for a New American Century, an influential neoconservative advocacy group founded in the 1990s, urging the Clinton and Bush administrations to attack Iraq. PNAC founding member Paula Dobriansky, leading advocate of Bush’s ill-fated “freedom agenda” as an official in the State Department, recently joined the Romney campaign full time. Another PNAC founder, Eliot Cohen, counselor to Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice from 2007 to 2009, wrote the foreword to the Romney campaign’s foreign policy white paper, which was titled, perhaps not coincidentally, “An American Century.” Cohen was a tutor to Bush administration neocons. Following 9/11, he dubbed the war on terror “World War IV,” arguing that Iraq, being an “obvious candidate, having not only helped Al Qaeda, but…developed weapons of mass destruction,” should be its center. In 2009 Cohen urged the Obama administration to “actively seek the overthrow” of Iran’s government.
The Romney campaign released the white paper and its initial roster of foreign policy advisers in October, to coincide with a major address at The Citadel. The cornerstone of Romney’s speech was a gauzy defense of American exceptionalism, a theme the candidate adopted from another PNAC founder and Romney adviser, Robert Kagan. The speech and white paper were long on distortions—claiming that Obama believed “there is nothing unique about the United States” and “issued apologies for America” abroad—and short on policy proposals. The few substantive ideas were costly and bellicose: increasing the number of warships the Navy builds per year from nine to fifteen (five more than the service requested in its 2012 budget), boosting the size of the military by 100,000 troops, placing a missile defense system in Europe and stationing two aircraft carriers near Iran. “What he articulated in the Citadel speech was one of the most inchoate, disorganized, cliché-filled foreign policy speeches that any serious candidate has ever given,” says Steve Clemons, a senior fellow at the New America Foundation.
Romney’s team is notable for including Bush aides tarnished by the Iraq fiasco: Robert Joseph, the National Security Council official who inserted the infamous “sixteen words” in Bush’s 2003 State of the Union message claiming that Iraq had tried to buy enriched uranium from Niger; Dan Senor, former spokesman for the hapless Coalition Provisional Authority under Paul Bremer in Iraq; and Eric Edelman, a top official at the Pentagon under Bush. “I can’t name a single Romney foreign policy adviser who believes the Iraq War was a mistake,” says Cato’s Preble. …
Shortly after McCain’s 2008 defeat, Kagan, Edelman, Senor and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol launched the Foreign Policy Initiative, a neocon successor to PNAC. FPI’s mission has been to keep the Bush doctrine alive in the Obama era—supporting a troop increase in Afghanistan and opposing a 2014 withdrawal; advocating a 20,000-troop residual force in Iraq; backing a military strike and/or regime change in Iran; promoting military intervention in Syria; urging a more confrontational posture toward Russia; and opposing cuts in military spending. Three of FPI’s four board members are advising Romney.
Edelman, having worked for Dick Cheney in both Bush administrations, is Romney’s link to Cheneyworld. (Edelman suggested to Cheney’s chief of staff, Scooter Libby, the idea of leaking the identity of CIA agent Valerie Plame to undermine former ambassador Joe Wilson for his New York Times op-ed detailing the Bush administration’s falsified Iraq-Niger connection.) As ambassador to Turkey in 2003, Edelman failed to persuade Ankara to support the Iraq War. Turkish columnist Ibrahim Karagul called him “probably the least-liked and trusted American ambassador in Turkish history.” Edelman later moved to the Defense Department, where in 2007 he became infamous for scolding Hillary Clinton when she asked how the Pentagon was planning its withdrawal from Iraq. He’s one of nearly a dozen of Romney advisers who have urged that the United States consider an attack Iran.
I’ll have to look for this book, my knowledge of this era is fairly shallow.
The Crimean War was the first major war to be covered by professional foreign correspondents, who reported on the disastrous blundering of commanders and the horrors of medical treatment at the battlefront. Today, we remember fragmentary stories: the charge of the Light Brigade, symbolizing the blundering; Florence Nightingale, for the medical treatment. But the real war has faded away, eclipsed by the two vastly worse world wars that were to come.
Still, the Crimean War — in which three-quarters of a million soldiers and untold multitudes of civilians perished — shattered almost four decades of European peace. It inflamed Russia’s rivalry with the Ottoman Empire over the Balkans, providing the tinder for World War I. And by thwarting Russian’s ambitions in Europe, it made possible the fatal rise of Germany.
In “The Crimean War: A History,” Orlando Figes restores the conflict — which predated the American Civil War by eight years — as “a major turning point” in European and Middle Eastern history. He argues forcefully that it was “the earliest example of a truly modern war — fought with new industrial technologies, modern rifles, steamships and railways, novel forms of logistics and communication like the telegraph, important innovations in military medicine and war reporters and photographers directly on the scene.” The ferocious yearlong siege of Sevastopol “was a precursor of the industrialized trench warfare” of World War I.
The war itself was initiated when religious squabbles over holy places in the Ottoman towns of Jerusalem and Bethlehem prompted Russia to march troops into present-day Romania, threatening the partition of Ottoman lands. In response, the Ottoman Empire declared war, and Britain and France rallied to its defense. The devastating combat around the Black Sea proved unbearable for Russia: two-thirds of the soldiers killed in the war were Russian. After losing Sevastopol, Russia accepted a humiliating peace.
Figes, a renowned professor of history at the University of London, might be thought the loneliest of creatures, the Crimean War buff. But his history is a huge success
Budget cuts for Social Security, debt ceilings, and yet the Pentagon gets more than it needs. Go figure. I agree with Representative Barney Frank: the military is the over-eater in the room…
The House on Friday overwhelmingly passed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Pentagon budget by $17 billion and covers the costs of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The strong bipartisan vote was 336-87 and reflected lawmakers’ intent to ensure national security, preserve defense jobs across the nation and avoid deep cuts while the country is at war. While House Republican leaders slashed billions from all other government agencies, the Defense Department is the only one that will see a double-digit increase in its budget beginning Oct. 1. Amid negotiations to cut spending and raise the nation’s borrowing limit, the House rejected several amendments to cut the Pentagon budget, including a measure by Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., to halve the bill’s increase in defense spending.
“We are at a time of austerity. We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back,” Frank said. Scoffing at the suggestion that “everything is on the table” in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders, Frank said, “The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch.“
According to retired brigadier general, Steven Anderson1, the Pentagon spends $20,000,000,000 annually on air conditioning. That’s a lot of simolians.
The amount the U.S. military spends annually on air conditioning in Iraq and Afghanistan: $20.2 billion.
That’s more than NASA’s budget. It’s more than BP has paid so far for damage during the Gulf oil spill. It’s what the G-8 has pledged to help foster new democracies in Egypt and Tunisia.
“When you consider the cost to deliver the fuel to some of the most isolated places in the world — escorting, command and control, medevac support — when you throw all that infrastructure in, we’re talking over $20 billion,” Steven Anderson tells weekends on All Things Considered guest host Rachel Martin. Anderson is a retired brigadier general who served as Gen. David Patreaus’ chief logistician in Iraq.
Why does it cost so much?
To power an air conditioner at a remote outpost in land-locked Afghanistan, a gallon of fuel has to be shipped into Karachi, Pakistan, then driven 800 miles over 18 days to Afghanistan on roads that are sometimes little more than “improved goat trails,” Anderson says. “And you’ve got risks that are associated with moving the fuel almost every mile of the way.”
Anderson calculates more than 1,000 troops have died in fuel convoys, which remain prime targets for attack. Free-standing tents equipped with air conditioners in 125 degree heat require a lot of fuel. Anderson says by making those structures more efficient, the military could save lives and dollars.
Still, his $20.2 billion figure raises stark questions about the ongoing war in Afghanistan. In the wake of President Obama’s announcement this week that about 30,000 American troops will soon return home, how much money does the U.S. stand to save?