Wednesday Open Thread: Our Warfare State

It's Day 290 of the Year 2018 CE

So, October 17, 2018 - for my reference if nothing else.



Loading bombs onto a Boeing B-52 Stratofortress





As I am writing this there is a ton of hue and cry about Hamal Kashoggi. Mr Kashoggi was a Saudi citizen who had been working as a journalist for WAPO. He had been sufficiently critical of the Saudi regime that he went into voluntary exile Nonetheless, he voluntarily went into the Saudi consulate in Turkey to obtain some papers for his upcoming marriage. There he disappeared. It is widely believed that the Saudis either kidnapped or killed him, with the majority opinion seeming to be the latter. The Turks claim to have proof and video and all that, but I am both an empiricist and a skeptic and I'm really fed up with people asserting that they have this, that, or the other evidence for something and yet never producing it, and treat as such unsubstantiated assertions as the mere allegations that they are.



Whatever the case, the endless war sometimes falsely called the war on terror or GWOT, has been an exceptionally deadly period for the working press. Abnormal numbers have been attacked, injured and even killed, year, after year, after year. The US has even killed some itself. Yet, almost never has there been such a hue and cry over the killing or incarceration of a member of the press, both as to volume and duration.



Beyond that, "the Kingdom", better known as the Saudi regime, is known for somewhat arbitrary and barbaric practices, including torturing and killing people, both through extra-judicial and judicial processes. They have draconian laws and punishments and an autocratic government tinged with theocratic overtones. This is usually seen as simply their way of doing things, and very rarely has there been such a hue and cry about their treatment of any of their citizens, nationals or indentured serfs "guest workers.



The continuing sturm und drang about Kashoggi, noise that was not made (with notable exceptions) regarding other members of the press, nor (again with rare exceptions) regarding other victims of the Saudis, makes it seem as if this is not about human rights, or the press. It is almost as if Kashoggi had links to (love that usage) the US Department of assassinations, torture, clandestine and illegal wars, insurrections and all that, the Constitutionally Impossible Assemblage, or CIA. If not something like that, then Bezos has a ton more clout, and a lot more bots, human and otherwise, than we've been giving him credit for. Whatever the case and whatever the facts and whether or not we will ever learn them, Something pretty amazing has nonetheless happened.



In the face of the resultant calls from the press, Congress and our allies, and even some of the public to halt arms sales to the Saudi regime, Donald Trump, a pathological liar, got up there and told the truth. That's right, Donald J. Trump actually told the truth, and one that may cause discomfort in some quarters. It is not news to any government or government official, nor to banksters, speculators, captains of industry, rentiers and other elites. It isn't really even news to the press, but they don't talk about it much. It is probably not even news to most people if they stop and really think about, but part of the job of everybody in the media and all of the other elites is to see to it that they don't ever stop and think about it.



So, I'll just grab some text from Common Dreams here:

"We have jobs. We have a lot of things happening in this country. We have a country that's doing probably better economically than it's ever done before," Trump said in a Fox News interview. "A part of that is what we are doing with our defense systems and everybody is wanting them and, frankly, I think [ending arms sales] would be a very, very tough pill to swallow for our country."

The U.S. has sold more than $200 billion in weapons and military equipment to the Saudis in recent years, with Trump signing off on a $110 billion agreement weeks after taking office and the Obama administration offering the country $115 billion in arms sales. ...

https://www.commondreams.org/news/2018/10/11/demands-us-probe-alleged-mu...


That's right, our economy thrives on war and is booming thanks to wars, our wars and other people's wars. That's why we can't and won't stop arming, funding and otherwise, supporting, fomenting and even fighting them. It's big bux. In 2016, the US' global major weapons exports were $9.9 billion, but that's peanuts. The real lucre is the vast military expenditures by the US for its own war machine.


According to Wikipedia:

In FY 2017, the Congressional Budget Office reported spending of $590 billion for defense, about 15% of the federal budget.[1] For the FY 2019 president Donald Trump proposed an increase to the military to $681.1 billion.


Years				04	05	06	07	08	09	10	11	12	13	14	15
Defense Budget (Billions)	491	506	556	625	696	698	721	717	681	610	614	637

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States


Perspective: In 2017, the US population was 325.7 million, so were pissing away roughly 2 grand per person.
Not only that, but a serious chunk of that bread is spent abroad, because we have a lot of foreign bases.


According to Politico:

the United States still maintains nearly 800 military bases in more than 70 countries and territories abroad—from giant “Little Americas” to small radar facilities. Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.

By my calculation, maintaining bases and troops overseas cost $85 to $100 billion in fiscal year 2014; the total with bases and troops in war zones is $160 to $200 billion.

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2015/06/us-military-bases-around...




By way of Comparison:

The United States spends more on their defense budget than China, Saudi Arabia, Russia, the United Kingdom, India, France, and Japan combined.[53] The 2009 U.S. military budget accounts for approximately 40% of global arms spending. The 2012 budget is 6–7 times larger than the $106 billion military budget of China. The United States and its close allies are responsible for two-thirds to three-quarters of the world's military spending (of which, in turn, the U.S. is responsible for the majority).[54][55][56] The US also maintains the largest number of military bases on foreign soil across the world.[57] While there are no freestanding foreign bases permanently located in the United States, there are now around 800 U.S. bases in foreign countries. Military spending makes up nearly 16% percent of entire federal spending and approximately half of discretionary spending. In a general sense discretionary spending (defense and non-defense spending) makes up one-third of the annual federal budget.[58]

In 2015, out of its budget of 1.11 trillion, the United States spent $598 billion on military. U.S. defense spending is equivalent to the next seven largest military budgets—India, the United Kingdom, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, Russia, and China—combined.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States




This isn't for "defense" either. It is largely corporate welfare with a side order of global imperialism. The point and purpose is to threaten other countries in an attempt to force them to do what we tell them to in all things; the form of their governments and even the personnel therein. to sell what we want them to, to the buyers of our choosing, in the currency of our choosing, and to borrow from who we tell them to. To make these threats viable, we need to carry them out on occasion, slaughtering assorted mostly non-white foreign persons including great numbers of civilians, all for the benefit of our oligarchs and corporate interests and to try to force everybody everywhere to adopt the predatory "market based" rentier capitalism that is impoverishing most of our citizenry in order to further enrich a very few very wealthy persons.



Here, some would truck out various arguments based on morality, (or ethics for us atheists).Such arguments usually have no force and no impact. How is today different? One additional reporter has been killed. Otherwise things are pretty much exactly as they have been for several years now, and, more broadly speaking, for decades. Why should those folks who didn't give a shit prior to today suddenly actually care. Certainly, at the most, there might be a bit of momentum to curtail future armament sales to the Saudis, but there will be none to rein in our assorted wars of choice, to prohibit future ones or to diminish the torrent of funds poured into the warfare machine. Harold Laswell's "Garrison State" long ago morphed into a full on warfare state and nobody has yet to show any interest in shutting it down. As it has grown and continues to grow, the problem will only worsen.



I would like to speak about the money for a moment, however. Let's call it 600 billion US. That buys a ton of wheaties, bridges, road repairs, hospitals, and the like. Admittedly, there is some "stimulus", and some jobs, but also lots of corporate profits and dividendsm lots of the waste for which military procurement is famous in this cuntry, and lots of obscene excutive salaries. According to WAPO,

Robert Barro and Charles Redlick released a paper in 2009 calculating the “economic multiplier”— that is, the GDP bang per spending buck — of defense spending, using data from 1914 to 2006. They found that during normal economic times, the multiplier is about 0.67,



(Which means that each dollar of military spending will grow the economy by 67 cents.) Continuing --

It’s worth noting, though, that while certainly stimulative, military spending isn’t the most stimulative thing the government spends money on. Mark Zandi of Moody’s estimates that the multiplier is 1.74 for food stamps, 1.61 for unemployment benefits, and 1.57 for infrastructure spending.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/ezra-klein/post/research-desk-what-...

(This pretty much corresponds with what I was taught decades ago, that the multiplier for military expenditures is the least there is)

And, of course, that's for spending done here. A ton of spending is done abroad, ehlpig foreign economies instead of ours. I guess we can look it as a type of foreign aid, but I suspect that many of the recipient nations would prefer cash.

I don't think that there ae many who couldn't think of a better use for a significant chunk of that money. Heck, we could even help the homeless, instead of creating and find better ways to assist those with PTSD instead of giving it to people. We are buried under the rhetoric of austerity and paygo, but nobody ever asks "well, exactly where is this 600 billion coming from?". There's always the odd half a trillion or so for the war machine, and that it simply totally ass backwards. According to Moden Monetary Theory, the US's big challenge, other than global wrming, is really going to be producing enough goods and services for our citizenry. Enormous piles of tanks, bombs, ammo and strike fighters don't qualify, they are a distraction, a waste of funds, and a wste of resources. They cannot feed, clothe, house or provide useful transport and communication services for our populace. Sure, we desparately need a standing military, but surely not more than half of the one we have now, if even that. We have two borders, and don't really face the threat of war on either one, or anywhere else in the Americas.



((Image B-52 with partial bomb load)

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QMS's picture

Isn't there some rule against war profiteering?

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Question authority = civil disobedience

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
that effect in WWI or WWII, but no. They did try to pass one but it dies in the senate.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

— at least what the French consider to be France, although Polynesians and such may beg to differ — are scattered all over the globe.

French Guiana
French Polynesia–Tahiti (France’s nuclear proving grounds)
New Caledonia
etc., etc.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Overseas_France

Britain, France and Russia, by contrast, have about 30 foreign bases combined.

So I bet there are a lot of French military bases that are missing in that count, because even though they are outside the boundaries of France proper, they are nevertheless technically on “French” and not foreign soil.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard
but is is also possible that they don't have bases in some or even many of those places, but in any case it doubt it seriously alters the disproportion.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

“We”?

Just who is it that is meant to be included in, and excluded from, this “we”?

https://verysmartbrothas.theroot.com/what-taylor-swift-did-is-cool-i-gue...

We’re making a Woman’s Black Person’s Vote worth more by staying home

#LetBlacksDecide     #NoWhitesMidterm

Not so far removed from the satirical meme that got James Woods kicked off Twitter . . .

https://www.zerohedge.com/news/2018-09-22/james-woods-suspended-twitter-...

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard
Any form of voter suppression sucks, and the logic is flawed. IT reminds me of a thing Kos once penned about how a progressive movement has to begin with POC (assuming without any evidence that POC are predominantly or uniformly progressive). That column was in part triggered by somebody (HRC??) holding campaign activities in black churches, because, ya know, churches are inherently progressive, right back to the bronze age belief systems there enshrined

.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

lotlizard's picture

@enhydra lutris  
except we seem to have that (East Asian? Pacific Islander?) agglomerating eclecticism thing going, atop a kind of Taoist or animist base.

Frustrating for folks over the decades who have tried to convert us to the One True Way, be it dominionism, the Daigohonzon, dianetics, or dialectical materialism.

Properly and lovingly tended like a beautiful bonsai, bronze-age roots can bear blossoms such as Psychedelic Christianity, pollinated by panpsychism.

The kind of progressive politics that is angry all the time and humorless towards “deplorable” out-groups is not one an incorrigible hippie can countenance for very long.

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Pluto's Republic's picture

@lotlizard

Few Asians go there, although they seem attracted to Seventh Day Adventists, the pragmatic synthesis of Jews and Christians.

So frustrating for centuries of missionaries, who were treated in Asia as "special needs" emissaries from distant lands. Good-natured Asians would politiely adopt the gods of their foreign visitors, and put his statue on the shelf with all the other gods on display.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@lotlizard
way, or the wu wei, a the case may be. You should've been converting them.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

@enhydra lutris Thought it meant becoming one with the environment. Why when we get trashed or otherwise polluted, we hollah Woo Wee!

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Question authority = civil disobedience

Lookout's picture

...and you are exactly right...

This isn't for "defense" either. It is largely corporate welfare with a side order of global imperialism. The point and purpose is to threaten other countries in an attempt to force them to do what we tell them to in all things;

Amazing how easily we are distracted...barely a mention about all the children (and adults) whose death we are complicit with along with the UK and Saudi....but 24/7 Khashoggi -

Professor As`ad AbuKhalil says western media’s uncritical praise of Khashoggi is unworthy, he was a loyal member of the Saudi propaganda apparatus and chose the wrong side of the House of Saud

https://therealnews.com/stories/duplicitous-khashoggi-picked-the-wrong-p...

Most (I've seen as high as 80%) US citizens don't want all our wars and aggression. That's pretty good evidence we are not a democracy if you ask me.

This organization is doing what it can - https://worldbeyondwar.org/

Peace!

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“Until justice rolls down like water and righteousness like a mighty stream.”

enhydra lutris's picture

@Lookout
about Kashoggi, but it wouldn't surprise me in the least. Our press is predominantly part of the global neo-liberal propaganda machine.
Have a great day.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

QMS's picture

A better version of the national anthem for the peace minded tribes

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Question authority = civil disobedience

enhydra lutris's picture

@QMS
stuffed into a rather short piece of music there. It needs more air time, imho. Lyrics:

You poisoned my sweet water.
You cut down my green trees.
The food you fed my children
Was the cause of their disease.

My world is slowly fallin' down
And the airs not good to breathe.
And those of us who care enough,
We have to do something.......

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?

Your newspapers,
They just put you on.
They never tell you
The whole story.

They just put your
Young ideas down.
I was wonderin' could this be the end
Of your pride and glory?

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?

I work in your factory.
I study in your schools.
I fill your penitentiaries.
And your military too!

And I feel the future trembling,
As the word is passed around.
"If you stand up for what you do believe,
Be prepared to be shot down."

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?

And I feel like a stranger
In the land where I was born
And I live like an outlaw.
An' I'm always on the run...

An I'm always getting busted
And I got to take a stand....
I believe the revolution
Must be mighty close at hand...

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?

I smoke marijuana
But I can't get behind your wars.
And most of what I do believe
Is against most of your laws

I'm a fugitive from injustice
But I'm goin' to be free.
Cause your rules and regulations
They don't do the thing for me

Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?
Oh... oh What you gonna do about me?

And I feel like a stranger
In the land where I was born
And I live just like an outlaw.
An' I'm always on the run.

Hve a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

the clarity of your argument using the Kashoggi affair to unearth the truth.

Well said and spot on.

Who knows where this espionage will blow, but i do recall "a shot heard around the world?"

Perhaps, they find collusion after all and maybe not where they've been looking. More probably, moneyed interests cover up the bad deed again and the drones continue striking innocents at will as usual.

"War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothing."

Thanks for this good read and have a great one.

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enhydra lutris's picture

@smiley7 @smiley7 @smiley7
good for anything. It really, truth be told, isn't even that good for the economy.

Have a great one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

smiley7's picture

Chief Justice Roberts Tells Audience Supreme Court Will Work For 'One Nation'

Speaking at the University of Minnesota Law School Tuesday, Roberts opened his remarks by saying that he wanted to discuss "events in Washington in recent weeks."

"I will not criticize the political branches. We do that often enough in our opinions," quickly adding he would speak about how "the judicial branch is, how it must be, very different."

Roberts said he has great respect for public officials since "they speak for the people."

"That commands a certain degree of humility from those of us in the judicial branch who do not," he said. "We do not speak for the people, but we speak for the Constitution."
[...]
"It's a small thing, perhaps, but it is a repeated reminder that, as our newest colleague put it, we do not sit on opposite sides of an aisle, we do not caucus in separate rooms, we do not serve one party or one interest, we serve one nation."

"And I want to assure all of you that we will continue to do that to the best of our abilities," he added, "whether times are calm or contentious."

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enhydra lutris's picture

@smiley7
people or its Constitution. That speech requires hip boots at a minimum, and probably waders.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

@enhydra lutris

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Pluto's Republic's picture

And they will defend it with their last breath. In fact, they are sacrificing and dying for it right now.

I'm really fed up with people asserting that they have this, that, or the other evidence for something and yet never producing it, and treat as such unsubstantiated assertions as the mere allegations that they are.

How is this not the government and the justice that the people deserve?

You hold a minority view, no? Democracy means your view is meaningless.

The people have come to believe that the first amendment does not apply to "fringe" views. Otherwise, the people would be protesting proxy government censors like Facebook? In what way is this not the world that Americans deserve?

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enhydra lutris's picture

@Pluto's Republic
too many people are far too easily fooled and far too easily led. Our educational processes factories need to place a lot more emphasis on scientific method and science, empiricism, and the rudiments of logic. Educating the current citizenry is a whole other problem and I really cannot see how it can be done except face to face where the participants really wish to learn, which seems to be very rarely the case.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

studentofearth's picture

into the bubble of world society of powerful warmongers and profiteers. Individuals no longer feel safe within the cushion of power, influence and connections. Many of them have a public voice to air their insecurities, so we see the drama being partially played out on the world stage instead of the previous normal behind closed doors.

The continuing sturm und drang about Kashoggi, noise that was not made (with notable exceptions) regarding other members of the press, nor (again with rare exceptions) regarding other victims of the Saudis, makes it seem as if this is not about human rights, or the press. It is almost as if Kashoggi had links to (love that usage) the US Department of assassinations, torture, clandestine and illegal wars, insurrections and all that, the Constitutionally Impossible Assemblage, or CIA.

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Still yourself, deep water can absorb many disturbances with minimal reaction.
--When the opening appears release yourself.

enhydra lutris's picture

@studentofearth
types would be capable of fear, or of giving it voice if they did, but I won't reject that thesis as a possibility.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

magiamma's picture

Thanks for the OT.

The gravy train from the Saudis probably goes mostly to the top 1% not for jobs.

The Navy has over 100 international ports mostly at sea level and control over 285 deployable ships. Plus there are some number of air force bases at sea level. e.g. Tyndall. So, some of those billions must be going to move the bases away from the upcoming sea rise. Because 'they' know it's coming.

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Stop Climate Change Silence - Start the Conversation
http://hotair.magiamma.com/

enhydra lutris's picture

@magiamma
Thanks for bringing that up and thanks for reading.

Have a good one.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --

hecate's picture

Jesus will not forsake thirty pieces of arm-sales silver, just because some guy who works for Bezos maybe got bone-sawed and stuffed in some suitcases. This according to his spokesman, Pat Robertson:

"For those who are screaming blood for the Saudis—look, these people are key allies. We’ve got an arms deal that everybody wanted a piece of. It’ll be a lot of jobs, a lot of money come to our coffers. It’s not something you want to blow up willy-nilly."

"You’ve got one journalist—who knows? Was it an interrogation? Was he assassinated? Were there rogue elements? Who did it? You’ve got $100 billion worth of arms sales. We cannot alienate our biggest player in the Middle East.”

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enhydra lutris's picture

@hecate
existed, I would have fully anticipated such a stance and such verbiage from him. I'm sure he is by o means alone, either.

Thanks for reading, and also for bringing god's message, which I otherwise completely missed.

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That, in its essence, is fascism--ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power. -- Franklin D. Roosevelt --