Outside the United States, the Pentagon controls a collection of military bases unprecedented in history, reports todays Le Monde. “With U.S. troops gone from Iraq and the withdrawal from Afghanistan underway, it’s easy to forget that we probably still have about1,000 military bases in other peoples’ lands. This giant collection of bases receives remarkably little media attention, costs a fortune, and even when cost cutting is the subject du jour, it still seems to get a free ride.
“With so much money pouring into the Pentagon’s base world, the question is: Who’s benefiting?
“Some of the money clearly pays for things like salaries, health care, and other benefits for around one million military and Defense Department personnel and their families overseas. But after an extensive examination of government spending data and contracts, I estimate that the Pentagon has dispersed around $385 billion to private companies for work done outside the U.S. since late 2001, mainly in that baseworld. That’s nearly double the entire State Departmentbudget over the same period, and because Pentagon and government accountingpractices are so poor, the true total may be significantly higher. Continue reading “America’s 1,000 Plateaus”
In those first minutes, they’ll be stunned. Eyes fixed in a thousand-yard stare, nerve endings numbed. Today’s issue of Le Monde carries a story on nuclear conflict in the Middle East. “They’ll just stand there. Soon, you’ll notice that they are holding their arms out at a 45-degree angle. Your eyes will be drawn to their hands and you’ll think you mind is playing tricks. But it won’t be. Their fingers will start to resemble stalactites, seeming to melt toward the ground. And it won’t be long until the screaming begins. Shrieking. Moaning. Tens of thousands of victims at once. They’ll be standing amid a sea of shattered concrete and glass, a wasteland punctuated by the shells of buildings, orphaned walls, stairways leading nowhere.
“This could be Tehran, or what’s left of it, just after an Israeli nuclear strike.
“Iranian cities — owing to geography, climate, building construction, and population densities — are particularly vulnerable to nuclear attack, according to a new study, “Nuclear War Between Israel and Iran: Lethality Beyond the Pale,” published in the journal Conflict & Health by researchers from the University of Georgia and Harvard University. It is the first publicly released scientific assessment of what a nuclear attack in the Middle East might actually mean for people in the region. Continue reading “The Middle East nuclear option”
Might America’s current “volunteer” military service be neutralizing opposition to the nation’s war-making? An article in today’s Salon.com says that the U.S. may be lacking to will to protest its involvements abroad because of the resulting appearance of “support” for it’s antagonisms.
“Few probably recall the name Dwight Elliott Stone. But even if his name has faded from the national memory, the man remains historically significant. That’s because on June 30, 1973, the 24-year-old plumber’s apprentice became the last American forced into the armed services before the military draft expired.
“Though next month’s 40-year anniversary of the end of conscription will likely be as forgotten as Stone, it shouldn’t be. In operations across the globe, the all-volunteer military has been employed by policymakers to birth what Gen. George Casey recently called the “era of persistent conflict.” Four decades later, we therefore have an obligation to ask: How much of the public’s complicity in that epochal shift is a result of the end of the draft? Continue reading “Dissent, the draft, and today’s military”
It was s short message. But the nation that led the U.S. into a war over “freedom” takes Twitter seriously.
“A Kuwaiti court sentenced a man to two years in prison for insulting the country’s ruler on Twitter, a lawyer following the case said, as the Gulf Arab state cracks down on criticism of the authorities on social media,” reports Reuters.
“According to the verdict on Sunday, published by online newspaper Alaan, a tweet written by Rashid Saleh al-Anzi in October “stabbed the rights and powers of the Emir” Sheikh Sabah al-Ahmad al-Sabah. Continue reading “Political tweet sends Kuwaiti to prison”
You might think America isn’t in the war business any more––what with so much recent talk about troop withdrawals from Iraq and Afghanistan, the Colin Powell endorsement of the peace loving Obama, and Romney’s yammering about U.S military decline. But hang on a second. It’s not that the U.S. isn’t fighting. The combat actually continues, but it’s quite different than what most people conceive as “war,” per se. While official wars involving the U.S. are winding down, all sorts of smaller special operations or war-by-proxy campaigns are being undertaken on America’s behalf.
By some accounts the U.S. is currently conducting secret wars in 75 nations. These are explained in a lengthy article by Nick Turse appearing in Le Monde, entitled “A Failed Formula for Worldwide War: How the Empire Changed its Face, But Not its Nature.”
“In one way or another, the U.S. military is now involved with most of the nations on Earth,” Turse writes. Continue reading “War by any other name”
Historian Morris Berman began writing his trilogy before the 2000 election, 9/11, the Iraq War, and the Bush economy––subsequently producing the books The Twilight of American Culture and Dark Ages America. As we all know, the picture hasn’t been pretty for much of the last decade and Berman has remained one of the most astute commentators on the tortured journey of a nation that once stood for more than greed and political paranoia. Berman’s new book, Why America Failed, is reviewed in the current issue of TruthOut in an extensive essay by David Masciotra entitled “America: What Happened?,” Summarizing Berman’s points, Masciotra lists four key themes:
1. Accelerating social and economic inequality .
2. Declining marginal returns with regard to investment in organizational solutions to socioeconomic problems or, in other words, the political system becomes dysfunctional .
3. Rapidly dropping levels of literacy, critical understanding and general intellectual awareness.
4. Spiritual death, what Berman calls the “emptying out of cultural content and the freezing of it in formulas, kitsch.”