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Posts Tagged ‘Foreign Policy’

According to The National Priorities Project, The United States passed a landmark on May 30, 2010. On that day, the United States will have spent 1 trillion dollars on the Iraq and Afghan wars, and on June 7, 2010, the Afghan war will become the longest war the United States has waged.

Moreover, the cost of the war in Afghanistan is currently 1 million dollars per soldier per year, according to this November 14, 2009 New York Times article.

One million dollars is a large number, but one trillion dollars is an unimaginably larger number. It’s easy to gloss over when the politicians and pundits toss around these numbers.

The thickness of a dollar bill is 0.0043 inches. So a stack of a million dollar bills would be about 109.22 meters or 358 feet tall. That’s as high as an office building 30 stories tall, counting a story as being approximately 11.9 feet tall (about 3.6 meters).

But a stack of a trillion dollars would be 63,516.5633 miles (109220 km) tall. That’s 2.5 times the circumference of the earth. That’s what American taxpayers pay for the Iraq/Afghan war. And the champions of small government say nothing about this.

Did you know that the United States just by itself has a military budget greater than the rest of the world’s countries combined? Or did you know the US military budget is more than 10 times  greater than that of either Russia or China’s? (Click here for the documentation of those figures).

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For those blog readers outside the United States, the State Of The Union Address is a speech the American president customarily gives at the beginning of each year, usually in January but sometimes in February, to a joint session of congress and, via broadcast, to the USA population. It lays out what the president hopes to accomplish in the coming year, what the past year has meant in his or her estimation, what the state of the country (the Union) is. If I were the president’s speech writer, this is the speech I’d write for him.

Good evening Madam Speaker, Vice President Joseph Biden, Elected Members of Congress, privileged guests, and my not-so-privileged and long-suffering fellow citizens and residents of these United States of America:

Customarily, during a State of the Union Speech, the congressional attendees and privileged guests in these chambers interrupt this speech with many applause lines, cheers, and even a few ovations. I fear that tonight, my fellow Americans, those elected legislators and privileged guests will do precious little applauding and even less cheering.

At the beginning of my address tonight, I will give them credit, the credit they deserve. I will recognize that these legislators have worked very hard, represented quite effectively their constituents, the stakeholders present at the negotiating table that is Washington DC. They have supped at the table of American affluence. They spent many hours dealing with conflicting agendas of those who sought their ear, those who sought to influence them, those who brought them their views, their concerns.

However, they will not cheer the various points I make in this address. Their silence will be forthcoming because tonight I speak not in the service of those constituents for whom the legislators have labored so diligently, so conscientiously.

No! Instead, tonight’s speech is in service of people with a separate set of interests, the ordinary working people, the common people, those whom we understand by the term “American middle class.” That’s quite a different constituency, if you will, than those whom the mass media and the pundits have traditionally considered to be the stakeholders who matter.

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In 1940, shortly before the United States went to war against Hitler’s Germany, the famed and highly-acclaimed comic actor and director Charlie Chaplin made a wonderful movie called “The Great Dictator.” You can get The Great Dictator for home viewing, and it is a worthwhile purchase.

This movie plays up the classic doppelganger gag. The story is of a little Jewish tailor who is drafted into the army of the country of “Tomania,” (a satirical reference to Germany) during the First World War. The Jewish tailor helps save a comrade in battle and is wounded, ending up with amnesia in the hospital. After 20 years, just before the beginning of World War II, he somehow leaves the hospital to go back to his barbershop, thinking he has only been gone a couple of weeks. Of course, the anti-Jewish pogroms were in full swing by then.

As an odd wrinkle, our little Jewish tailor bears an uncanny physical likeness to the insane dictator of Tomania , Adenoid Hynkel, (another satirical reference, this time to Adolf Hitler) who is rising to power on anti-Semitism and anticommunism. In fact, at the beginning of the movie, there is an advisory that the resemblance between Adenoid Hynkel and the tailor is purely coincidental! Our Jewish tailor is completely unaware of the anti-Jewish fever sweeping the country or the redoubtable Adenoid Hynkel’s rise to power.

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It appears that this well-documented RawStory.com article gives us another graphic lesson about the folly of imperial adventures with its description of a recent suicide bombing.

The article describes how the CIA recruited an Afghani to act as an “informant,” (which is polite-speak for spy). CIA personnel escorted said Afghani would-be informant into a CIA facility, whereupon he detonated the bomb he had hidden on his person, killing himself, several CIA agents, including the CIA station chief, along with several “contractors” (more polite-speak for mercenaries).

The bomber was wearing the uniform of the Karzai’s Afghan National Army. He enjoyed enough trust that security did not check him for any hidden nasty surprises before escorting him into the compound.

This was despite the known success the Taliban have had in infiltrating the Afghan National Army, police, and security forces, and the corruption of the Karzai regime.

Now I don’t much care for the forces who make up the Taliban. However, they are native forces fighting an unpopular foreign occupying army.

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Hello Brothers and Sisters,

This is a follow-up on President Obama’s speech in which he tries to explain just why he is sending more troops to Afghanistan.

He failed in giving a coherent and bulletproof explanation, although he expressed himself in beautiful language

The night before his speech, I wrote a post called Bring The Troops Home Now!. Nothing that President Obama said changed my mind, and I’ll post an analysis of his speech in a few days

The whole enterprise seems completely and horribly flawed to me. This will be a tragedy for the American people, the people of Afghanistan, in fact, the whole world.

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It is Monday night, November 30, 2009, as this is being written, and President Obama has apparently committed to sending tens of thousands more troops to  Afghanistan. This is a terribly flawed decision, and absolutely no good can come of it.

Instead of sending more troops, the United States should just bring all the troops home now from both Afghanistan and Iraq.

There is a huge difference between defeating a country in war and conquering a country. The US did not find it difficult to drive the Taliban out of state power with military action.

But conquering Afghanistan, imposing a new form of government on it from the outside is a different task.

As Michael Moore in his heartfelt open letter to President Obama says:

There’s a reason they don’t call Afghanistan the "Garden State" (though they probably should, seeing how the corrupt President Karzai, whom we back, has his brother in the heroin trade raising poppies). Afghanistan’s nickname is the "Graveyard of Empires."

Graveyard Of Empires Indeed!.

 

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This is a rather extensive update of a piece I wrote in December, 2006, nearly 3 years ago, and originally published elsewhere

Most American politicians and many pundits now concede they were wrong to support Bush’s invasion of Iraq, stating that the administration lied to them about its justification. Politicians who voted to support the invasion, especially liberal politicians, say that the Bush administration lied to them about its reasons for this invasion. It is hard to believe this, especially in the case of bright, educated, and talented people like Hillary Clinton and others. The Bush administration’s phony excuses did not fool many ordinary American citizens, who did not have the same access to information as did the Clinton-style politicians and inside-the-beltway denizens.

When trying to justify launching this war, the Bush administration and its apologists gave reasons that included:

  • Saddam’s supposed cache of weapons of mass destruction
  • Saddam’s nose-thumbing UN weapons inspectors in the face of UN sanctions
  • The undoubtedly brutal nature of the Saddam Hussein dictatorship
  • The supposed desirability of creating an Arab democracy that would serve as a beacon in the Middle East, the latter a more “politically correct” and polite version of early 19th century meme of carrying “white man’s burden” and securing the “blessings of western civilization.”

But the truth is that none of these stated reasons were the real reasons for this war. These currently transparent excuses were really nothing more than a now-failed public relations ploy.

As demonstrated below, the American corporate rulers had planned this war a decade before the initiation of hostilities. This war planning had always been about control of energy resources and marketplaces, not democracy, not terrorism, not Islam.

Moreover, this war was not an aberration from American moral principles that supposedly guide its foreign policy. It was the natural  outgrowth of a longstanding foreign policy, a strategy that stems back from the days of the  Spanish-American war of 1898 and before.

Consider my reasons for stating this:

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