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"Πάντα ῥεῖ καὶ οὐδὲν μένει"







January 23rd
10:31 AM
Via

Will the Next War Be in Asia? | Michael Klare

In the United States, senior officials are debating implementation of the “Pacific pivot” announced by President Obama in a speech before the Australian Parliament a little over a year ago.  In it, he promised that additional U.S. forces would be deployed in the region, even if that meant cutbacks elsewhere.  “My guidance is clear,” he declared.  “As we plan and budget for the future, we will allocate the resources necessary to maintain our strong military presence in this region.”  While Obama never quite said that his approach was intended to constrain the rise of China, few observers doubt that a policy of “containment” has returned to the Pacific.

Indeed, the U.S. military has taken the first steps in this direction, announcing, for example, that by 2017 all three U.S. stealth planes, the F-22, F-35, and B-2, would be deployed to bases relatively near China and that by 2020 60% of U.S. naval forces will be stationed in the Pacific (compared to 50% today).  However, the nation’s budget woes have led many analysts to question whether the Pentagon is actually capable of fully implementing the military part of any Asian pivot strategy in a meaningful way.  A study conducted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) at the behest of Congress, released last summer, concluded that the Department of Defense “has not adequately articulated the strategy behind its force posture planning [in the Asia-Pacific] nor aligned the strategy with resources in a way that reflects current budget realities.”

This, in turn, has fueled a drive by military hawks to press the administration to spend more on Pacific-oriented forces and to play a more vigorous role in countering China’s “bullying” behavior in the East and South China Seas.  “[America’s Asian allies] are waiting to see whether America will live up to its uncomfortable but necessary role as the true guarantor of stability in East Asia, or whether the region will again be dominated by belligerence and intimidation,” former Secretary of the Navy and former Senator James Webb wrote in the Wall Street Journal.  Although the administration has responded to such taunts by reaffirming its pledge to bolster its forces in the Pacific, this has failed to halt the calls for an even tougher posture by Washington.  Obama has already been chided for failing to provide sufficient backing to Israel in its struggle with Iran over nuclear weapons, and it is safe to assume that he will face even greater pressure to assist America’s allies in Asia were they to be threatened by Chinese forces.

Add these three developments together, and you have the makings of a powder keg — potentially at least as explosive and dangerous to the global economy as any confrontation with Iran.  Right now, given the rising tensions, the first close encounter of the worst kind, in which, say, shots were unexpectedly fired and lives lost, or a ship or plane went down, might be the equivalent of lighting a fuse in a crowded, over-armed room.  Such an incident could occur almost any time.  The Japanese press has reported that government officials there are ready to authorize fighter pilots to fire warning shots ig Chinese aircraft penetrate the airspace over the Diaoyu/Senkaku islands.  A Chinese general has said that such an act would count as the start of “actual combat.” That the irrationality of such an event will be apparent to anyone who considers the deeply tangled economic relations among all these powers may prove no impediment to the situation — as at the beginning of World War I — simply spinning out of everyone’s control. >continue<

The tensions here, and the analogue to a WWI scene where little things combine to ratchet matters out of control (especially adding our legal attachment to the defense of Taiwan), are not being over-hyped. We already face an insane trajectory toward a fight with Iran based on irrational groupthink where “everyone agrees” that Iran cannot be allowed to possess nuclear weapons. So it is paramount that we do what we can to counter any dubious postures and such mental constipations which could send ourselves and the world slipping into an building avalanche toward disaster. If we are a super-power, if we are exceptional, then interrogation and action here is our highest duty.

January 17th
9:42 AM
Via
guernicamag:

(via Anything That Moves by Nick Turse - Guernica / A Magazine of Art &amp; Politics)

In Vietnam, the statistically minded war managers focused, above all, on the notion of achieving a “crossover point”: the moment when American soldiers would be killing more enemies than their Vietnamese opponents could replace. After that, the Pentagon expected, the communist-led forces would naturally give up the fight—that would be the only rational thing to do …
The crossover point, however, proved elusive; as years went by, the conflict only escalated. … [And at the Pentagon] everything came down to the “body count”—the preeminent statistic that served in those years as both the military’s scorecard and its raison d’etre. How else could you tell if the crossover point was within reach unless you tallied the enemy dead?
The war managers, of course, gave little thought to what this strategy—basing the entire American military effort on such an indicator as Vietnamese corpses—might mean for Vietnamese civilians.

Read more Guernica features

guernicamag:

(via Anything That Moves by Nick Turse - Guernica / A Magazine of Art & Politics)

In Vietnam, the statistically minded war managers focused, above all, on the notion of achieving a “crossover point”: the moment when American soldiers would be killing more enemies than their Vietnamese opponents could replace. After that, the Pentagon expected, the communist-led forces would naturally give up the fight—that would be the only rational thing to do …

The crossover point, however, proved elusive; as years went by, the conflict only escalated. … [And at the Pentagon] everything came down to the “body count”—the preeminent statistic that served in those years as both the military’s scorecard and its raison d’etre. How else could you tell if the crossover point was within reach unless you tallied the enemy dead?

The war managers, of course, gave little thought to what this strategy—basing the entire American military effort on such an indicator as Vietnamese corpses—might mean for Vietnamese civilians.

Read more Guernica features

January 7th
4:54 PM
Via
politicalprof:

What we spend our defense spending on …
ht: Ezra Klein

politicalprof:

What we spend our defense spending on …

ht: Ezra Klein

January 4th
2:44 PM
Via

America’s Political Dysfunction at Root is an Unwillingness to Cut War Spending | Dave Lindorff

… [W]hat the American public gets is a fake debate between Democrats and Republicans, and between the White House and the Republicans in the House of Representatives, all focussed on the rest of the US budget — the non-military part. This “debate” is basically a matter of Republicans saying they want to cut the non-military budget deficit by slashing “social spending” and Democrats saying that they are willing to cut “some” social spending, but they would rather raise taxes.

The thing is, cutting social program spending more than by a small amount would be catastrophic, leading to even more mass teacher layoffs, declining health, hunger, collapsing bridges, and to fewer people being able to afford to go to college. It would lead to even more homeless Americans, including returned veterans. Nobody would accept this. We’re already suffering from such cuts. And as for taxes, in a long-running economic crisis such as we are experiencing, nobody but the rich can afford to pay more, and the rich are given a free hand at escaping taxes through loopholes, offshore banking, and high priced accountants.

The reality is that there really is only one way to attack the nation’s massive and growing budget deficit without destroying both people’s lives and the nation’s economy, and that is to slash military spending and to put an end to the country’s militarism and imperialism.

The US today, as former Alaska Sen. Mike Gravel famously said during an early televised Democratic presidential primary debate in 2008, “has no enemies.” It is not threatened by any nation, has a military that is without equal, and has a populace that is armed to the teeth. The United States simply does not need to be spending in excess of a trillion dollars — at least on defense. The country would be just as safe — it would be much safer actually since it wouldn’t be destroying lives around the globe and creating enemies where there were none — if it were a tenth of its current size.

The time for a real debate about cutting the US budget by focusing on military spending has come. It is long overdue. If it isn’t addressed now, it will be eventually, not by choice perhaps, but because the US will simply no longer be able to pay for its addiction to war. >continue<

November 27th
10:14 AM

Let Europe Be Europe

Why the U.S. must withdraw from NATO

Andrew Bacevich  |  Foreign Policy, April 2010 »

…the attempted conversion of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) from a defensive alliance into an instrument of power projection. Washington’s aim is this: take a Cold War-inspired organization designed to keep the Germans down, the Russians out, and the Americans in, and transform it into a post-Cold War arrangement in which Europe will help underwrite American globalism without, of course, being permitted any notable say regarding U.S. policy.

…the United States should dare to do the unthinkable: allow NATO to devolve into a European organization, directed by Europeans to serve European needs, upholding the safety and well-being of a Europe that is whole and free — and more than able to manage its own affairs.  >continue<

October 24th
8:00 AM
Via
sunfoundation:

World Wide Aircraft Carriers

An aircraft carrier is a ship that is capable of operating fixed wing aircraft, including jump-jets such as the Harrier. America has nearly twice as many aircraft carriers - 20 - as the rest of humanity combined - 12 - and America’s aircraft carriers are substantially larger than almost all the other’s aircraft carriers. The Navy likes to call the big Nimitz class carriers “4.5 acres of sovereign and mobile American territory” — and all twenty American carriers of all classes add up to nearly 70 acres of deck space. Deckspace is probably a good measure of combat power. The rest of the world’s carriers have about 25 acres of deck space, approximately one third that of America’s [until 2011, this number was only 15 acres, but new Chinese and Italian vessels upped the total appreciably].

sunfoundation:

World Wide Aircraft Carriers

An aircraft carrier is a ship that is capable of operating fixed wing aircraft, including jump-jets such as the Harrier. America has nearly twice as many aircraft carriers - 20 - as the rest of humanity combined - 12 - and America’s aircraft carriers are substantially larger than almost all the other’s aircraft carriers. The Navy likes to call the big Nimitz class carriers “4.5 acres of sovereign and mobile American territory” — and all twenty American carriers of all classes add up to nearly 70 acres of deck space. Deckspace is probably a good measure of combat power. The rest of the world’s carriers have about 25 acres of deck space, approximately one third that of America’s [until 2011, this number was only 15 acres, but new Chinese and Italian vessels upped the total appreciably].

October 23rd
3:43 PM
Via
motherjones:

The 1980’s called…they’re jealous of Mitt Romney’s defense budget. 

motherjones:

The 1980’s called…they’re jealous of Mitt Romney’s defense budget. 

July 5th
3:57 PM
Via

soupsoup:

What do the future of war look like? I spoke to former deputy secretary of state James Steinberg to find out.

May 31st
3:15 PM
Via
nickturse:

With Terminator Planet, we’ve carefully put together the best of our joint work on the subject of American robotic warfare, shaped and edited, and added a powerful new conclusion. The result is the first comprehensive history of drone warfare (with a preview of the drone’s possible future as well)&#8230; 
I hope you’ll take a look and perhaps download it as an ebook or purchase an old-fashioned hard copy.

nickturse:

With Terminator Planetwe’ve carefully put together the best of our joint work on the subject of American robotic warfare, shaped and edited, and added a powerful new conclusion. The result is the first comprehensive history of drone warfare (with a preview of the drone’s possible future as well)… 

I hope you’ll take a look and perhaps download it as an ebook or purchase an old-fashioned hard copy.

April 15th
11:08 AM
Afghan whistleblower reports military has &#8216;so distorted the truth … the truth has become unrecognisable&#8217;

"I am – how do you say it? – persona non grata," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, as he sat sipping a coffee and eating a chocolate sundae in a shopping mall, just a subway stop from the Pentagon.
The career soldier is now a black sheep at the giant defence department building where he still works. The reason was his extraordinarily brave decision to accuse America&#8217;s military top brass of lying about the war in Afghanistan&#8230;.
Davis, 48, drew up two reports containing research and observations garnered from his last tour. He was not short of material. As part of his job he had criss-crossed the country, travelling 9,000 miles and talking to more than 250 people. He had built up a picture of a hopeless cause; a country where Afghan soldiers were incapable of holding on to American gains. US soldiers would fight and die for territory and then see Afghan troops let it fall to the Taliban. Often the Afghans actively worked with the Taliban or simply refused to fight. One Afghan police officer laughed in Davis&#8217;s face when asked if he ever tried to fight the enemy. &#8220;That would be dangerous!&#8221; the man said.  &gt;continue&lt;

Report: Dereliction of Duty II (pdf)  |  Truth Lies and Afghanistan
Fervent Conviction  |  Coordinated Attacks in Kabul

Afghan whistleblower reports military has ‘so distorted the truth … the truth has become unrecognisable’

"I am – how do you say it? – persona non grata," said Lieutenant-Colonel Daniel Davis, as he sat sipping a coffee and eating a chocolate sundae in a shopping mall, just a subway stop from the Pentagon.

The career soldier is now a black sheep at the giant defence department building where he still works. The reason was his extraordinarily brave decision to accuse America’s military top brass of lying about the war in Afghanistan….

Davis, 48, drew up two reports containing research and observations garnered from his last tour. He was not short of material. As part of his job he had criss-crossed the country, travelling 9,000 miles and talking to more than 250 people. He had built up a picture of a hopeless cause; a country where Afghan soldiers were incapable of holding on to American gains. US soldiers would fight and die for territory and then see Afghan troops let it fall to the Taliban. Often the Afghans actively worked with the Taliban or simply refused to fight. One Afghan police officer laughed in Davis’s face when asked if he ever tried to fight the enemy. “That would be dangerous!” the man said.  >continue<

Report: Dereliction of Duty II (pdf)  |  Truth Lies and Afghanistan

Fervent Conviction  |  Coordinated Attacks in Kabul

January 26th
12:15 PM
Via
latimes:

New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable? The Navy is testing an autonomous plane that will land on an aircraft carrier. The prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.
Photo:  The X-47B drone. Credit: Chad Slattery, Northrop Grumman

A swarm, a flock, all a seamless combative hive expression of a networked AI, each aspect capable of manoeuvres that would kill a human pilot.  Could be the first face of a fascinating idea, and yet a potentially terrifying reality.

latimes:

New drone has no pilot anywhere, so who’s accountable? The Navy is testing an autonomous plane that will land on an aircraft carrier. The prospect of heavily armed aircraft screaming through the skies without direct human control is unnerving to many.

Photo: The X-47B drone. Credit: Chad Slattery, Northrop Grumman

A swarm, a flock, all a seamless combative hive expression of a networked AI, each aspect capable of manoeuvres that would kill a human pilot.  Could be the first face of a fascinating idea, and yet a potentially terrifying reality.

January 24th
4:09 PM
Via

America, arms-dealer to the world | William Astore

theamericanbear:

Still #1:

Today we take great pride (or at least have no shame) in being by far the world’s number one arms-exporting nation. A few statistics bear this out. From 2006 to 2010, the U.S. accounted for nearly one-third of the world’s arms exports, easily surpassing a resurgent Russia in the “Lords of War” race.  Despite a decline in global arms sales in 2010 due to recessionary pressures, the U.S. increased its market share, accounting for a whopping 53 percent of the trade that year.  Last year saw the U.S. on pace to deliver more than $46 billion in foreign arms sales. Who says America isn’t number one anymore?

For a shopping list of our arms trades, try searching the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute database for arms exports and imports. It reveals that, in 2010, the U.S. exported “major conventional weapons” to 62 countries, from Afghanistan to Yemen, and weapons platforms ranging from F-15, F-16 and F-18 combat jets to M1 Abrams main battle tanks to Cobra attack helicopters (sent to our Pakistani comrades) to guided missiles in all flavors, colors, and sizes: AAMs, PGMs, SAMs, TOWs — a veritable alphabet soup of missile acronyms. Never mind their specific meaning: They’re all designed to blow things up; they’re all designed to kill.

Rarely debated in Congress or in U.S. media outlets is the wisdom or morality of these arms deals. During the quiet last days of December 2011, in separate announcements whose timing could not have been accidental, the Obama Administration expressed its intent to sell nearly $11 billion in arms to Iraq, including Abrams tanks and F-16 fighter-bombers, and nearly $30 billion in F-15 fighter jets to Saudi Arabia, part of a larger, $60 billion arms package for the Saudis.  Few in Congress oppose such arms deals since defense contractors provide jobs in their districts — and ready donations to Congressional campaigns.

Continue reading →

January 23rd
12:25 PM

Nuclear Spending ~ How much?

According to one estimate, the United States currently spends over $50 billion per year on maintaining and upgrading a nuclear weapons force of 5,000 nuclear weapons and weapons related programs. These costs could increase in light of the Obama administration’s plan to spend at least $200 billion over the next decade on new nuclear delivery systems and warhead production facilities.

For example, the Navy plans to spend around $110 billion to build a new fleet of nuclear-armed submarines. The Pentagon estimates the total cost of building and operating the new submarine at nearly $350 billion over its 50 year lifespan. The Air Force also intends to spend $55 billion on procurement of 100 new bombers and an unknown sum on new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.

Additionally, the National Nuclear Security Administration plans to spend $88 billion over the next decade to refurbish existing nuclear warheads and rebuild the factories that make key nuclear warhead parts.  >link<

What is the “Triad”?  |  Bloated Nuke Budget