America Going, (Going, Gone!) To The Dogs (Of War)
© 2015 by Sherwood Ross
"States Confront Cavernous Holes In Their Budgets" The New York Times headlined in a front page report June 8, 2015.
Reporter Julie Bosman described the exasperation of governors unable to provide traditional public services: Wisconsin, short by $280 million; Kansas, short by $400 million; Alabama, short by $702 million; Louisiana, short by $1.6 billion; Illinois, short by $3 billion; and Alaska, short by $4 billion.
Governor Scott Walker, Wisconsin Republican, Bosman writes, "has proposed closing the gap by decreasing funding to the public schools, the state's university system, public workers' health benefits and state parks." (Sure, Gov., just cut education, health, and recreation!)
While state budgets may be busted, and American taxpayers sink ever deeper into credit card debt, "defense" contractors are dining lavishly at the public trough.
"Defense" is in quotes because the U.S., with 900 overseas bases (so says Ron Paul, former Texas congressman) and a history of making wars may now be indisputably labeled an aggressor nation. In his "Rogue State," Washington journalist Bill Bloom documents how the U.S. has overthrown scores of countries by force and violence around the world from Chile to Iran. The stance of America today---that it is being threatened everywhere by nations large and small--reminds very much of what economist Joseph Schumpeter wrote about ancient Rome:
"There was no corner of the known world where some interest was not alleged to be in danger or under actual attack. If the interests were not Roman, they were those of Rome's allies; and if Rome had no allies, the allies would be invented…The fight was always invested with an aura of legality. …The whole world was pervaded by a host of enemies."
The eminent international legal authority Francis Boyle of the University of Illinois, Champaign, agrees. Boyle says that it is Obama who is beating the war drums. Boyle notes Obama funded the violent overthrow of a democratically elected government in Ukraine, and is now working "with neo-Nazis (there) and literally threatening Russia."
(Look for yourself: Are Russian troops taking up positions along America's borders in Mexico and Canada or are American troops and their NATO allies taking up positions along Russia's frontiers?)
According to Business Insider, Pentagon's outlay of $682 billion for arms last year, was greater than the next 10 countries combined---China, Russia, UK, Japan, France, Saudi Arabia, India, Germany, Italy, and Brazil. That may sound like "defense," but it smells like aggression. Prior to WWII, dictators Hitler and Stalin also built huge war machines.
Christian Davenport reported in The Washington Post (April 30, 2014) that "The costs of the Pentagon’s major weapons systems have ballooned nearly half a trillion dollars over their initial price tags…"
He pointed to a report by the Government Accountability Office published during a congressional hearing "in which senators from both parties vented about continued cost overruns, billions of dollars wasted when contracts are canceled and a system that is plagued by a high level of turnover that prevents anyone from being held accountable."
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) listed a series of failed programs, The Post said, including an attempt to replace the White House helicopters' fleet. McCain called them examples of “really unacceptable cost overruns we’ve seen in the past, and apparently a failure to get a lot of it still under control.” Wild spending is what you get when you exempt the Pentagon from close audits. Abroad, it is running amok.
24/7 Wall Street's Samuel Weigley wrote that, in recent year 2011, the 100 largest contractors sold $410 billion in arms and military services to the Pentagon. Of that sum, the top 10 "defense" contractors sold $208 billion. Much of that sum was paid to the contractors without competitive bidding, inflating costs.
The Big Ten, and their sales figures, are: (1) Lockheed-Martin, $36 billion; (2) Boeing, $32 billion; (3) BAE Systems, $29 billion; (4) General Dynamics, $24 billion; (5) Raytheon, $23 billion; (6) Northrop Grumman, $21 billion; (7) EADS, $16 billion; (8) Finmeccanica, $15 billion; (9) L-3 Communications, $13 billion; and (10) United Technologies, $12 billion.
In 2011, for example, the Pentagon with outlays of $878 billion, topped America's spending charts, showing again that the chief business of America is w-a-r. The Washington Post termed the U.S. "defense" budget "staggering." And this is no idle choice of words.
Economically, the country is staggering. America has the largest army, the largest air force, and the largest navy in the world. In most categories it is stronger than the next five or 10 nations combined. Meanwhile, American states and cities are going broke and public works---from highways to water pipes to bridges---are crumbling.
In round numbers, the U.S. is short $1.6 trillion for unmet public works---water mains, highways, bridges, etc.---95 million Americans have housing problems, including 3.5 million homeless (a third of them families with children); 46 million people are on food stamps; 30 million people are unemployed or underemployed; 44 million people lack medical insurance; one in six Americans goes to bed hungry; etc., etc. Yet, the Military-Industrial Complex is awash in prosperity.
When President Obama attacked Libya in 2011, he justified his crime by stating there are times “when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are.” Here's an admission in his own words that he is attacking nations that do not directly threaten America! And doing so in flagrant violation of Article One, Section 8 of the Constitution, which confers the right to make war only on Congress, not the White House. Usurping that power is the act of a dictator.
As for the cost, The Los Angeles Times on June 16, 2011, reported, "The Obama administration is spending almost $9.5 million every single day to blow things up in Libya because the president has determined that is in the country's national interest, this country's national interest, not Libya's." Might that money have been better spent in Camden, N.J. or Vallejo, Calif, two of our many hard-pressed cities?
And the billion devoted to blowing apart Libya in the first six months of that war is nothing compared to what Obama is quietly spending on nuclear weapons.
Obama, who pledged in 2009 "to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," is upgrading the lethality of an atomic arsenal already so deadly it can destroy all life on Earth! Price tag: (says one Federal study) $1-trillion. And he perpetuated a war he inherited in Iraq, helping build up a $3 trillion price tag.
But Mr. Obama's secretive war-making, (all of it illegal), goes far beyond what is reported in the press. As Kevin Gosztola wrote in Firedoglake on May 16, 2013, "The reality is current US wars are not limited to the one winding down in Afghanistan and the other one that recently ended in Iraq. There are numerous wars going on unannounced, undeclared and in secret. The world is literally a battlefield with conflicts being waged by the US (or with the “help” of the US). And, no country is off-limits to US military forces."
Congresswoman Tammy Baldwin (D.-Wis.) speaking at the time of the Libya attack, declared, “Our troops must be brought home safely and soon from Afghanistan and Iraq; and Congress must return its focus to creating jobs, educating our children, and ensuring access to quality, affordable health care for all Americans.” (Somebody's got it right!)
On July 10, 2010, reporter Bob Woodward was told by President Obama, "To quote a famous American (Civil War General Sherman) 'War is hell.' And once the dogs of war are unleashed, you don't know where it's going to lead." By no stretch of the human imagination can it be said that Mr. Obama is taking General Sherman's warning to heart. He has unleashed the dogs of war over and again--actions that justify his impeachment.
Another warning Mr. Obama is also disregarding comes from founder James Madison, who in 1795 famously wrote, "Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." And this nation hasn't---or haven't you noticed?
(Sherwood Ross, a Miami public relations consultant, formerly worked for the Chicago Daily News and as a columnist for major wire services. He is an award-winning reporter and award-winning poet. To comment or contribute to his anti-war operation email firstname.lastname@example.org)