Cry Havoc and let slip the dogs of war! a vote in epic bipartisan collegiality
…for the John S. McCain 2019 National Defense Authorization Bill (subtitled ‘The Sneeze Wrong, We’re Comin’ to Fuck You Up Act’). Here’s the very lengthy summary of provisions in the House version from govtrack.us, although it may have changed slightly since the House and Senate conference agreements.
Let’s start with the House: ‘House Democrats vote for record US military spending’, Patrick Martin, 28 July 2018, wsws.org
“By an overwhelming bipartisan vote Thursday, the US House of Representatives approved the largest military authorization bill in American history. The National Defense Authorization Act approves $716 billion to fund US military aggression around the world, and gives President Trump the power to order cyberwarfare attacks on Russia, China, Iran and North Korea without further congressional action.
The NDAA passed on a roll-call vote of 359 to 54. House Republicans backed the legislation by a near-unanimous vote of 220-5. House Democrats supported it by the margin of 139-49. The entire House Democratic leadership backed the military authorization bill: Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi, Minority Whip Steny Hoyer, Deputy Minority Whip James Clyburn, and Adam Schiff, the ranking Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee. [snip]
“Among the costliest provisions are:
- A 2.6 percent pay increase for uniformed military personnel, the largest in a decade
- An increase of 15,000 active-duty troops
- One new US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier
- Two new Virginia-class nuclear-powered submarines armed with atomic weapons
- 13 other new warships
- 77 new joint strike fighters
Adam Smith of Washington state, the ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, played a key role in the conference committee. During the brief floor debate on the bill Thursday, he said, “This bill does step up to confront our adversaries in Russia and China,” adding that it contained provisions to enhance “the absolutely critical work of pushing back against President Putin’s ongoing campaign to undermine U.S. alliances, partnerships, and democratic values around the world.”
The bill “restates our commitment to NATO and our partners,” Smith said. “It extends the prohibition on military cooperation with Russia. It declares that Russia violated the Chemical Weapons Convention … It strengthens the prohibition on funding for activities that would recognize the sovereignty of Russia over Crimea. It requires a whole-of-government response to malign foreign-influence operations and campaigns, it improves our cyber and counter-influence infrastructure, and a good deal more.”
The bill also authorizes Trump’s major military parade to celebrate ‘a hundred years of patriotic sacrifice by our men and women in uniform’ just after the Nov. 6 elections; a five-year extension of the Maritime Security Initiative, under which the US provides military assistance to countries in the Asia-Pacific region, the main arena for US-China competition, and according to the bill’s summary:
‘Counterterrorism – The bill authorizes the Counter ISIS Train and Equip Fund to aid partners and allies fighting ISIS and extends the Syria Train and Equip Authority through 2019. The bill authorizes continued security cooperation with the Government of Iraq and supports the Afghan military in its fight against the Taliban. U.S. Special Operations Command programs and activities are authorized including ongoing efforts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Eastern Europe.’
“Since U.S. commandos went to war in 2001, the size of Special Operations Command has doubled from about 33,000 personnel to 70,000 today. As their numbers have grown, so has their global reach. As TomDispatch revealed last month, they were deployed to 149 nations in 2017, or about 75% of the countries on the planet, a record-setting year. It topped 2016’s 138 nations under the Obama administration and dwarfed the numbers from the final years of the Bush administration. As the scope of deployments has expanded, special operators also came to be spread ever more equally across the planet.” (and you didn’t think the Uniparty War Machine was egalitarian!)
Also included in the summary are ‘a Defense Partnership to Counter Iran’, missile readiness to strike North Korea, material support for improving Taiwan’s military, loads of military exercises to er…warn China out of the South China Sea, and 10 steps to combat Russian aggression towards the United States and its allies’, space warfare, and one of my faves:
‘Facing New Threats
Emerging Technologies – To address advancements in Artificial Intelligence, space and counter-space capabilities, cyber, influence operations, and hypersonics the bill places emphasis on programs to advance capabilities in these areas. The legislation fully supports the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and Defense Innovation Unit Experimental to ensure technological superiority and provides additional funding to accelerate Artificial Intelligence, machine learning programs, and hypersonics programs.’
DARPA’s website; the stuff Imperial Military wet dreams are made of… Active Social Engineering Defense (ASED), Advanced Plant Technologies in the Syn-bio category, and the Health Research in the dropdown menu. The organization also funds and experiments with CRISPR gene-splicing.
While in her ‘The Democratic Party’s War History and the AUMF of 2018’ Renee Parsons, consortium news, April 26, 2018 writes:
“The proposed Authority for the Use of Military Force of 2018 (AUMF) of 2018 would replace AUMF 2001 and repeal AUMF 2002 while it will codify an “uninterrupted authority to use all necessary and appropriate force in armed conflict” against the Taliban, al Qaeda, ISIS and as yet unidentified “designated associated forces” who might “pose a grave threat to the US” in whatever country they occupy.”
The bill seems to have encountered some resistance, including Rand Paul and Jeff Merkley…it hasn’t been brought to a vote…so far. But inside this bill is a ‘mini-cyber AUMF: (back to Patrick Martin):
“Particularly ominous are the sections of the NDAA on cyberwarfare. The bill authorizes the Pentagon to conduct “unattributed” cyber operations without having to comply with the usual restrictions on covert operations, such as requiring a Presidential Finding which is submitted to key leaders of Congress. According to the bill “clandestine military activity or operation in cyberspace shall be considered a traditional military activity.
It pre-authorizes US military cyber operations if the president determines that (1) there is “an active, systematic, and ongoing campaign of attacks against the Government or people of the United States in cyberspace, including attempting to influence American elections and democratic political processes” and (2) that Russia, China, North Korea or Iran are responsible. In that event, the president may order US cyberwar forces “to take appropriate and proportional action in foreign cyberspace to disrupt, defeat, and deter such attacks.”
This provision effectively gives Trump and any successor, Democrat or Republican, the power to launch a full-scale cyberwar without further congressional authorization, merely on his own declaration that the United States is under attack.”
Yesterday, Aug. 3: ‘US Senate backs $708 billion military authorization’, Patrick Martin, wsws.org
After noting that a separate appropriations bill has to be passed to actually fund the bill’s provisions:
“The US Senate approved the National Defense Authorization Act, a blueprint for $708 billion in Pentagon spending, voting Wednesday by a margin of 87-10. Forty-six Republicans were joined by 41 Democrats in approving the bill, which now goes to the White House for President Trump’s signature.
The 41-8 split in the Democratic Party caucus in the Senate was determined partly by political positioning. Those Democrats who are testing the waters for a presidential run and aim to strike a “left” posture for the 2020 primary campaign opposed the military spending bill: Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Kamala Harris, Kirsten Gillibrand and Jeff Merkley.
All the Democratic senators seeking reelection this year in states carried by Trump in 2016 voted in favor of the military spending bill, and will undoubtedly feature it in their election campaign ads as proof of their desire to “work with the president.” These include Joe Manchin of West Virginia, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Jon Tester of Montana, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Tammy Baldwin of Wisconsin and Bill Nelson of Florida.
Senate Democratic Leader Chuck Schumer and virtually every other Democrat in the Senate voted for the record military spending without electoral calculations playing any role. They are just as ardent supporters of American imperialism as the Republicans, and demonstrated that in their votes.” [snip]
“Secretary of Defense James Mattis likewise hailed the vote, saying the bill’s quick passage “demonstrated the deep and abiding bipartisan support our military enjoys.” He could have noted, but did not bother, that the House-Senate conference version of the NDAA actually set prospective spending levels $30 billion above those requested by the White House and Pentagon.”
“The figures in fiscal 2019 will be $617 billion for regular Pentagon operations, plus $69 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations and $22 billion for nuclear weapons operations of the Department of Energy, which oversees the construction of atomic warheads.
It is instructive to compare the provisions of this legislation with the funding requirements to meet urgent social needs, for which no such resources are being mobilized.
“The $617 billion in regular Pentagon spending is as much as the United States spends on public education, combining local, state and federal governments ($620 billion in 2016). It is also 10 times what Russia spends on its military ($61 billion).
The $69 billion for wars in Syria, Iraq and Afghanistan, and drone warfare across North Africa and the Middle East is more than twice the amount of money required to feed all 862 million malnourished people in the world ($30 billion).
The bill authorizes $24.1 billion for shipbuilding, including the building of 13 new warships, among them a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier and two nuclear-powered submarines armed with nuclear weapons.
The same amount of money, $24.1 billion, would provide decent housing for every homeless person in the United States ($20 billion), with enough left over to replace the toxic water infrastructure of Flint, Michigan ($1.5 billion).”
Now we also know that the publicly stated Military Madness War budget it somewhere in the neighborhood of half of the Shadow War budget given Nick Turse’s investigations in the past.
Ih his lengthy ‘US Militarism Marches On’, July 31, Marty Hart-Landsberg at econmomic front provides some of that history, with categories of ‘military spending is big for bidness’ (he provides names and figures of the death-dealing industries), ‘the military is everywhere’, ‘forced wrongful adjustments by the DoD to the tune of tens of trillions of amerikan dollars’, and this:
“As big as it is, the above measure of military spending grossly understates the total. As JP Sottile explains:
The Project on Government Oversight (POGO) tabulated all “defense-related spending” for both 2017 and 2018, and it hit nearly $1.1 trillion for each of the two years. The “defense-related” part is important because the annual National Defense Authorization Act, a.k.a. the defense budget, doesn’t fully account for all the various forms of national security spending that gets peppered around a half-dozen agencies.”
A trillion here, a trillion there…pretty soon it adds up to some serious loss to taxpayers. His exposé includes five or six depressing graphs and pie charts re: military spending.
(cross-posted from Café Babylon)