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“WAR IS PEACE” May 25, 2010

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.
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War is not inconsequential, nor for that matter is peace. Permanent war is the mentality of the world of 1984, and is probably waged for the reasons Orwell proposed.

The further question is whether Obama who seemed to offer such promise in relation to his predecessor has proven to be worst than disappointing. Why?

Glenn Greenwald described the normalcy of permanent war, suggesting that Obama is doing nothing more than most of his predecessors. He offers three reasons why there is no political opposition to the continued state of war. The costs are bound by very few of the population. There is a bipartisan consensus. A state of war has become internalized as a normal state of affairs.

Meanwhile, Mark Mazzetti, for The New York Times reports:

The top American commander in the Middle East has ordered a broad expansion of clandestine military activity in an effort to disrupt militant groups or counter threats in Iran, Saudi Arabia, Somalia and other countries in the region, according to defense officials and military documents.

The secret directive, signed in September by Gen. David H. Petraeus, authorizes the sending of American Special Operations troops to both friendly and hostile nations in the Middle East, Central Asia and the Horn of Africa to gather intelligence and build ties with local forces. Officials said the order also permits reconnaissance that could pave the way for possible military strikes in Iran if tensions over its nuclear ambitions escalate.

While the Bush administration had approved some clandestine military activities far from designated war zones, the new order is intended to make such efforts more systematic and long term, officials said. Its goals are to build networks that could “penetrate, disrupt, defeat or destroy” Al Qaeda and other militant groups, as well as to “prepare the environment” for future attacks by American or local military forces, the document said. The order, however, does not appear to authorize offensive strikes in any specific countries.

In broadening its secret activities, the United States military has also sought in recent years to break its dependence on the Central Intelligence Agency and other spy agencies for information in countries without a significant American troop presence.

In defending President Obama it may be able to make the argument that he has no background in military affairs, and so is more reliant on his military advisers, but the same cannot be said for matters related to human rights and law. The article in the NYT goes on to discuss the pros and cons of allowing the Military to be the principle source of intelligence.

Juan Cole comments:

My own view is that the United States was founded as a government of laws, not men, and that the siren call of covert operations is steadily undermining the rule of law. Blurring the line between military action and spying makes it impossible to talk about the covert missions, since they are typically classiified. The same is true for predator drone strikes.

Drone strikes are, it is suggested, carried out by contractors. Attacks within other countries are by definition acts of war. Conventional theory upholds the doctrine of the right of self defence. Widening the intelligence operatives, widens the potential perceived targets.

The notion of unquestioned and increasing military expenditure to achieve exactly what, may have a limited shelf life. We shall see. How was Obama co-opted into this boondoggle?

Interestingly the cause is taken up in the Congress. John Nichols at The Nation reports:

[Congressman Alan] Grayson’s mad because the Pentagon and its allies in the White House (be they Bush and Cheney or Obama and Biden) keep demanding tens of billions in additional allocations to fund the occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan. And they do so in a manner that makes debate difficult and dissent rare.

But Grayson is out to provoke a debate – and he is definitely dissenting.

“What George Orwell wrote about in 1984 has come true. What Eisenhower warned us about concerning the ‘military-industrial complex’ has come true,” the congressman argues. “War is a permanent feature of our societal landscape, so much so that no one notices it anymore.”

Grayson proposes to change this circumstance with a bill he has introduced: “The War Is Making You Poor Act.”

“The purpose of this bill is to connect the dots, and to show people in a real and concrete way the cost of these endless wars,” he explains.

To make the cost of war real for working Americans, Grayson performs a simple calculus:

“Next year’s budget allocates $159,000,000,000 to perpetuate the occupations of Afghanistan and Iraq. That’s enough money to eliminate federal income taxes for the first $35,000 of every American’s income. Beyond that, (it) leaves over $15 billion to cut the deficit.

The opportunity costs of war are real enough, and the costs of war are not limited to opportunity costs, which with time will be borne by humanity. Bill Quigley at CounterPunch sets out the figures, beginning with the observation that the USA represents 5% of global population and spends 40% of the world’s military spending.

As Robert Scheer notes as Truthdig the costs of war and reduction of poverty programs that run parallel with it, are not visited upon the rich and well connected but on the poor, not least the children of the poor.

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