Saturday, May 28, 2011

War Is Making Us Poor

Five Eye-Opening Facts About Our

Bloated Post-9/11 'Defense' Spending

By Joshua Holland
Beaver County Peace Links via AlterNet

May 28, 2011 - This week, the National Priorities Project (NPP) released a snapshot of U.S. “defense” spending since September 11, 2001. The eye-popping figures lend credence to the theory that al Qaeda's attacks were a form of economic warfare – that they hoped for a massive overreaction that would entangle us in costly foreign wars that would ultimately drain away our national wealth.

They didn't bankrupt us the same way the Mujahadeen helped bring down the Soviet Union decades before, because our economy was much stronger. But they did succeed in putting us deep into the red – with an assist, of course, from Bush's ideologically driven tax cuts for the wealthy.

The topline number is this: we have spent $7.6 trillion on the military and homeland security since 9/11. The Pentagon's base budget – which doesn't include the costs of fighting our wars – has increased by 81 percent during that time (43 percent when adjusted for inflation). The costs of the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq have now reached $1.26 trillion. But that only scratches the surface; it doesn't include the long-term costs of caring for badly wounded soldiers, for example.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Dems Evenly Divided on Afghan Vote, with Altmire Siding with Long War Bloc

House Democrats Clamor for U.S.

to Speed Withdrawal from Afghanistan

David Lightman and William Douglas
Beaver County Peace Links via McClatchy Newspapers

WASHINGTON, May 26 2011 - Democrats in House of Representatives sent President Barack Obama a strong message Thursday — speed up U.S. troop withdrawals from Afghanistan.

Though the House's bid to push Obama to expedite the U.S. exit failed, it lost by a surprisingly close 215-204 vote. The outcome, and the fiery debate that preceded it, made it clear that the president's party, as well as a growing number of Republicans, is growing impatient with the almost 10-year-old war as the 2012 election campaign approaches. In all, 178 Democrats and 26 Republicans voted to pressure Obama. Eight Democrats, most from more conservative districts, and 207 Republicans were opposed. Leading the charge to prod the president were the House's top Democratic leaders.

"Americans are paying a big price there, we want to make sure we’re getting a return on that investment, and time is a very important factor,” said Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif. “It’s time for our troops to come home.”

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Dump This Policy: We Need to Challenge the White House on War Powers

Obama's New View of His Own War Powers

By Glenn Greenwald

Beaver County Peace Links via

Back in January, 2006, the Bush Justice Department released a 42-page memo arguing that the President had the power to ignore Congressional restrictions on domestic eavesdropping, such as those imposed by FISA (the 30-year-old law that made it a felony to do exactly what Bush got caught doing:  eavesdropping on the communications of Americans without warrants).  That occurred roughly 3 months after I began blogging, and -- to my embarrassment now -- I was actually shocked by the brazen radicalism and extremism expressed in that Memo.  It literally argued that Congress had no power to constrain the President in any way when it came to national security matters and protecting the nation.

To advance this defense, Bush lawyers hailed what they called "the President's role as sole organ for the Nation in foreign affairs"; said the President’s war power inherently as "Commander-in-Chief" under Article II "includes all that is necessary and proper for carrying these powers into execution"; favorably cited an argument made by Attorney General Black during the Civil War that statutes restricting the President's actions relating to war "could probably be read as simply providing 'a recommendation' that the President could decline to follow at his discretion"; and, as a result of all that, Congress "was pressing or even exceeding constitutional limits" when it attempted to regulate how the President could eavesdrop on Americans.  As a result, the Bush memo argued, the President had the power to ignore the law because FISA, to the extent it purported to restrict the President's war powers, "would be unconstitutional as applied in the context of this Congressionally authorized armed conflict." 

That claim -- that the President and he alone possesses all powers relating to war under the "Commander-in-Chief" clause of Article II -- became the cornerstone of Bush's "ideology of lawlessness."  In a post that same month defining that ideology, I argued that this lawlessness was grounded in the September 25, 2001, War Powers memo by John Yoo, which infamously concluded as follows:

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

No Excuse Not to End Wars Now

With Afghanistan, Now it’s a Critical

Moment of Opportunity for Obama

The president has gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

By Tom Hayden
Beaver County Peace Links via Los Angles Times

May 5, 2011 - President Obama has now gained the moral and political capital to responsibly end the U.S. military interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq. With an average of 30 to 50 Americans being killed each month in Afghanistan, the total will be well over 1,000 on Obama's watch if nothing is done. In addition to saving lives, removing 60,000 troops from Afghanistan in 2011-12 would also save about $70 billion a year in tax dollars.

The targeted killing of Osama bin Laden is powerful evidence that terrorist threats, both real and hypothetical, can be more effectively suppressed by special forces operations than by deploying hundreds of thousands of American soldiers on the ground.

The Bin Laden operation proves that a counterterrorism strategy focusing on intelligence, airstrikes and special forces units, as advocated by people such as Vice President Joe Biden and conservative columnist George Will, would be an effective deterrent against any new clandestine cells seeking to launch attacks against the United States.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Bin Laden and the Folly of Being Driven by a ‘Search for Monsters’

Bin Laden Is Dead, But Will

the 'Long War' on Terror Live On?

By Tom Hayden
Progressive America Rising via The Nation

May 2, 2011 - The killing of Osama bin Laden is a triumphant moment for President Obama and the CIA, allowing a symbolic claim to victory in the War on Terror, bringing an understandable feeling of closure for the victims of 9/11, and will almost certainly assure the president’s re-election in 2012.

But as I wrote in The Nation in October 2009, however, the death of bin Laden is not likely to end the Long War on Terror, now spreading from Iraq to Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen and a dozen other theaters of counterterrorism.

If bin Laden is gone, and his network heavily damaged, what is left of the terrorist threat to our national security that justifies so many trillions of dollars and costs in thousands of lives? Because of a fabricated fear of bin Laden, we invaded Iraq. The invasion of Afghanistan was to deny sanctuaries to bin Laden and Al Qaeda. In response, Al Qaeda moved into Pakistan, where bin Laden was killed tonight. So why are the Taliban in Afghanistan a threat to the security of the United States with bin Laden gone? Surely there are terrorist cells with lethal capacity scattered around the world, surely there might be revenge attacks, but there is hardly a centralized conspiratorial threat that justifies the deployment of hundreds of thousands of American troops.

Now we shall learn whether there is another agenda that keeps 150,000 American troops in Afghanistan and Iraq.