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Afghanistan Only the Latest US War To Be Driven By Deceit and Delusion

Afghans were trapped by the sudden Taliban takeover. AJ+/Twitter

In Afghanistan, American hubris – the United States’ capacity for self-delusion and official lying – has struck once again, as it has repeatedly for the last 60 years.

This weakness-masquerading-as-strength has repeatedly led the country into failed foreign interventions. The pattern first became clear to me when I learned on Nov. 11, 1963, that the U.S. embassy and intelligence agencies had been directly involved in planning a coup to depose the president of South Vietnam and his brother, leading to their executions.

I was a Fulbright Fellow, starting a long career in national security policymaking and teaching, studying in Europe. On that day, I was in a bus on a tour of the battlefields of Ypres, Belgium, led by a French history professor.

As I watched the grave markers sweep by, I was reading a report in Le Monde exposing this U.S. effort to overthrow another government and I thought, “This is a bad idea; my country should not be doing this.” And the war, in which the U.S. was directly involved for 20 years, marched on.

The American people were told we had no hand in that coup. We did not know that was a lie until The New York Times and Washington Post published the Pentagon Papers in 1971. By then, 58,000 Americans and possibly as many as 3.5 million Vietnamese soldiers and civilians had died – and the goal of preventing the unification of Vietnam had died as well.

For 15 years, the American foreign policy establishment struggled to overcome what it called the “Vietnam Syndrome” – the rational reluctance of the American people to invade and try to remake another country.

American hubris reemerged, this time as “the global war on terror.” Afghanistan is now the poster child for the sense that the U.S. can remake the world.

‘A sea of righteous retribution’

Osama bin Laden gave American interventionists eager for the next fight a huge justification – an attack on the U.S., which washed the Vietnam Syndrome away in a sea of righteous retribution against al-Qaida.

The al-Qaida attack on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon also gave interventionists the opening to invade Iraq, as an extension of the war on terror. We built on the terrorism lie – Saddam Hussein was no friend of the 9/11 terrorists – by arguing that he had weapons of mass destruction. American hubris ran the full course as we invaded another country, overthrew its government and aimed to build a new nation, all of which have kept American troops in a dysfunctional Iraq for 18 years.

And the truth, which insisted on penetrating the American delusion, was that the war meant the deaths of 8,500 American troops and civilians and at least 300,000 Iraqis as well. No modern, rebuilt Iraqi nation has emerged.

And now the country faces the dark at the end of the tunnel in Afghanistan, where lying and self-delusion have continued for 20 years.

An initial mission intended to remove the Taliban and close the al-Qaida training camps succeeded, though Osama bin Laden slipped away for another 10 years. But hubris kept the U.S. from stopping there.

The mission expanded: create a modern democracy, a modern society and, above all, a modern military in a country with little history of any of those things.

A new generation of U.S. officials in uniform and policymaker suits and dresses fooled the American people and themselves by lying about how well the effort was going.

The failure was actually there to see, this time, well documented by the systematic auditing and reporting of the special inspector general for Afghanistan reconstruction, John Sopko. But government officials and the media blew by those truths, giving voice instead to the lies out of more visible officials’ mouths. The human price tag of hubris grew – 6,300 U.S. military and civilian deaths, and an understated estimate of 100,000 Afghan deaths.

Three strikes and you’re out

Three times now this country has been lied to and the media deluded as America marched stolidly over the cliff into failure.

Recriminations are flying back and forth – who lost Afghanistan is the latest version of who lost Vietnam, Iraq and, for those with long memories, all the way back to 1949 and “who lost China.” What America has lost is, I believe, the capacity to learn, to learn from history and from our own experience.

I’d argue that no one who was paying attention should be surprised that the Taliban swept back into Kabul in a nanosecond. Or that a failed enterprise like the Afghan national army collapsed. Army and special operator trainers who went there could see the corruption, the personnel who left in the night and the disdain for corrupt political authorities in that army.

Many brave, honorable Afghans fought there, but the cohesion and commitment, the belief in their mission, was not there.

By contrast, the Taliban were organized, dedicated and coherent, and armed and trained for the actual combat taking place, not for European-style trench and tank warfare. The Taliban clearly had a plan that worked for that country, as the speed of the takeover shows. It succeeded; the U.S. and the Kabul regime failed in what became mission impossible.

The fall of Kabul was inevitable. Washington, once again, deluded itself into thinking otherwise. The secretary of state said, “This is not Saigon.”

It is Saigon. It is Baghdad. It is Kabul.

Gordon Adams, Professor Emeritus, American University School of International Service

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.




The US Did Not Bring Peace, Democracy, or Freedom to Afghanistan

U.S. troops patrol near Forward Operating Base Baylough in Zabul province, Afghanistan. (Photo: U.S. Army/Public Domain)

By Mary Hladky | Common Dreams

As the mother of an Army infantry officer who served for 13 months during former President Barack Obama’s Afghanistan surge, in the Zhari District of the Kandahar Province, I feel tremendous relief that President Joe Biden is calling the troops home from Afghanistan. I also feel an overwhelming sadness for the men and women who served in Afghanistan, especially for those who did not come home, were injured (physically or mentally), or committed suicide.  I also feel great sadness for the huge losses and suffering the Afghan people endured and will continue to endure in their homeland, destroyed by 20 years of war.

This is shameful, very painful, and must never happen again.

As the Afghanistan Papers confirmed, the military and the U.S. government knew early on that the Afghanistan War was a debacle and could not be won. Leadership did not understand Afghanistan; it did not have a strategy, nor could it define what winning meant. Yet our government and military were unwilling to admit the Afghanistan war could not be won, damn the consequences. These tragic decisions have destroyed people on all sides.

So what exactly did the Afghanistan war accomplish? The government has spent over $2 trillion dollars on a war that has brought us the death of 2,378 U.S. military men and women, plus more than 20,000 injured, which does not include those suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injury, and moral injury, and those who committed suicide. Add the deaths and injuries of our allied troops and military contractors. Also, we must not forget the untold numbers of civilians who died or were injured, and the millions of Afghan refugees and internally displaced Afghans.

The U.S. government will leave Afghanistan in the hands of a corrupt and inept government, which the U.S. backed for almost 20 years, as well as in the hands of the Taliban, which currently controls over half the country. Without an effective U.N.-negotiated peace plan for power-sharing, it is very likely that the Afghanistan government will collapse, leading to much more internal violence. Twenty years of war and U.S. interference have brought no long-term, positive gains in Afghanistan.

We did not bring peace, democracy, or freedom. Afghanistan’s elections were flagrantly fraudulent. We did not improve the lives of the Afghan people. The necessities of life are in short supply—water, electricity, healthcare, education. And there are no jobs other than the opium trade, which supplies 90% of the world’s opium—a big contributor to the opioid epidemic.

This is shameful, very painful, and must never happen again. Our government needs to find a way to make this right. No more funds to the corrupt Afghanistan government. At the very least, the U.S. needs to find a way to provide real support to the Afghan people, ensuring they have water, electricity, basic healthcare, housing, and educational opportunities.

What we do know is: War is not the answer.  Not in Afghanistan, Iraq, or Syria. When will we learn that war and violence are not the paths to a better world? Peace must be our demand. We need to invest our time, intelligence, and money in diplomacy, bringing people together to solve the world’s problems so we can all live in a flourishing world.

Mary Hladky

Mary Hladky is a long-time member of Military Families Speak Out (MFSO) which is a UFPJ member group. She began her work with United for Peace & Justice in 2010 as a member of the Afghanistan Working Group and been a member of the UFPJ Administrative Committee since 2012.




Goodbye War on Terror, Hello Permanent Pandemic

By Children’s Health Defense Team | The Defender

Those in positions of power have long recognized that conditions of fear and panic furnish exploitable opportunities to restructure society. COVID-19 is certainly a textbook example of this observation, illustrating that well-tuned fear campaigns can persuade many people to abandon essential medical and individual freedoms.

One of the key elements in the propagandist’s toolkit for perpetuating fear is repetition, particularly if the fear messages come from different directions and sources and are cloaked in a veneer of officialdom and respectability.

Thus, in the first few months of 2021, we have seen a proliferation of admonishments telling Americans that pandemics pose an “existential threat” to the United States and are here to stay.

‘Existential threats’ — history repeats

In January, a bipartisan commission released a dramatic 44-page report calling for an “Apollo Program for Biodefense,” explicitly comparing the proposal to the efforts that first landed humans on the moon. The commission laid the groundwork for its report in 2015 when it published a National Blueprint for Biodefense.

Now, seizing the COVID-19 moment, the commission is making the case for a vastly expanded biodefense budget — amounting to billions of biodefense dollars annually — to implement its conveniently ready-to-go blueprint.

Key members of the Biodefense Commission used the “existential threat” language in the aftermath of 9/11 in reference to terrorism — the same language they are using now regarding pandemics. Commission Chair Joseph Lieberman championed the post-9/11 creation of the Department of Homeland Security; Co-chair Thomas Ridge served as the first Homeland Security director.

Around 2014, world leaders began signaling their intent to swap out the War on Terror for a new narrative. That fall, President Obama hosted the first major meeting of the Global Health Security Agenda (GHSA) — which he later elevated to a national priority — and soon thereafter pronounced the terrorist threat “over-inflated.”

Observing the downplaying of terrorism by Obama and senior administration officials, including then-Vice President Biden, journalists at The Guardian chimed in, calling assertions of an “existential [terrorist] threat” hyperbolic, “zany” and “absurd.” The next year, the Biodefense Commission issued its National Blueprint.

Brace yourself

Dovetailing with the Biodefense Commission’s report, the media are telling the public to “start planning for a permanent pandemic.” For example, deploying the loaded language so favored by propagandists, German-American writer Andreas Kluth warned Americans on March 24 (in Bloomberg) of a “global arms race” pitting “coronavirus mutations … against vaccinations,” suggesting that SARS-CoV-2 could “become our permanent enemy, like the flu but worse.”

A former writer for The Economist and a self-styled interpreter of historical successes and failures, Kluth conjures up a foe — a mutating virus too “protean and elusive” to ever be conquered — that undoubtedly hits the biodefense wonks’ sweet spot. Far from rejecting pandemic hyperbole as “zany” or “absurd,” Kluth instead cheerlessly advises Americans to brace for “endless cycles of outbreaks and remissions, social restrictions and relaxations, lockdowns and reopenings.”

Ironically, Kluth argued last July in favor of a revival of “classical liberalism,” clarifying that he meant “not in the American sense of ‘left’ but in the European sense of ‘freedom.’”

Kluth also assures residents of the U.S. and other wealthy nations that vaccination “a couple of times a year” will be part of the “new normal.” Arguing for realism, however, he cautions that vaccination against “the latest variant in circulation” will never occur “fast or comprehensively enough to achieve herd immunity.”

The most positive notes Kluth seems able to strike are his conclusions that this “Brave New World needn’t be dystopian” and that, with each successive lockdown, “we [will] damage the economy less than in the previous one.”

Global control grid

As Children’s Health Defense and others have pointed out, COVID-19 — and the specter of pandemics more generally — offer a handy pretext for the wider financial and governance overhaul that is unfolding, benefiting the few while building out a global control grid for the many.

In this context, we should not be surprised to see that the Biodefense Commission’s report highlights 15 core technology priorities that would fundamentally restructure society and daily life — in both the physical and digital realms — in the service of pathogen vigilance. These include:

  • A National Public Health Data System to “integrate, curate and analyze” granular data at all levels in “real-time.”
  • Artificial-intelligence-driven “digital pathogen surveillance” involving tracking of data sources like social media, online forums, and internet search queries.
  • “Pathogen transmission suppression in the built environment,” including “air filtration and sterilization systems” that could involve diffusion of nanoparticles (no consent required) via HVAC systems.
  • “Needle-free” methods of drug and vaccine administration to “increase uptake” and work around “the logistical challenges of delivering these pharmaceuticals to potentially billions of people.”

In light of these stated priorities, it is interesting to note that the Biodefense Commission’s Ridge heads up an eponymous Beltway security consulting firm, while Lieberman serves as senior counsel for a New York law firm whose roster of financial services, real estate, and (bio)technology clients includes Google and Israel’s Teva Pharmaceuticals.

Teva announced in February that it is in discussion with COVID-19 vaccine makers about possible “co-production” of some of the shots. The same day, Teva’s CEO told CNBC’s Meg Tirrell (who asked about this “very bright spot in Teva’s business”) that the company was “proud to be the partners” for the distribution and logistics of Pfizer’s experimental vaccine in Israel which, as of mid-March, had administered the shots to nearly 60% of the population, “more doses per capita than any other country,” according to Tirrell.

Teva’s CEO said nary a peep about the experts who are warning that Pfizer’s injection of Israelis is producing mortality far in excess of what would be expected from COVID itself.

Like Teva’s CEO, Andreas Kluth has been an enthusiastic booster of messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine technology, happy about synthetic mRNA’s endless permutations and the possibility of telling cells “to make whatever protein we want.”

While acknowledging that experimental mRNA vaccines had problems in the past (such as their tendency to cause “fatal inflammation” in animals), Kluth celebrates the COVID-19 pandemic as the “grand debut of mRNA vaccines and their definitive proof of concept,” stating: “Henceforth, mRNA will have no problems getting money, attention or enthusiasm — from investors, regulators and policymakers.”

In short, permanent pandemics promise to be good for technocracy and good for Big Business.




Report Finds So-Called US War on Terror Has Displaced as Many as 59 Million People

AZEZ, SYRIA – MAY 19: Refugee camp for Syrian people on May 19, 2019, in Azez, Syria.

By Jake Johnson | Common Dreams

The ongoing U.S. “war on terror” has forcibly displaced as many as 59 million people from just eight countries in the Middle East, Africa, and Asia since 2001, according to a new report published Tuesday by Brown University’s Costs of War Project.

“U.S. involvement in these countries has been horrifically catastrophic, horrifically damaging in ways that I don’t think that most people in the United States have grappled with or reckoned within even the slightest terms.”
—David Vine, American University

Titled “Creating Refugees: Displacement Caused by the United States’ Post-9/11 Wars” (pdf), the new report conservatively estimates that at least 37 million people have “fled their homes in the eight most violent wars the U.S. military has launched or participated in since 2001.”

The latest figure represents a dramatic increase from the Costs of War Project’s 2019 report, which estimated that 21 million people had been displaced internally or forced to flee their home countries due to violence inflicted or unleashed by U.S.-led wars over the past two decades. That report also put the death toll of the so-called war on terror at 801,000 and the price tag at $6.4 trillion.

The new report argues that “wartime displacement (alongside war deaths and injuries) must be central to any analysis of the post-9/11 wars and their short- and long-term consequences.”

“Displacement also must be central to any possible consideration of the future use of military force by the United States or others,” the report states. “Ultimately, displacing 37 million—and perhaps as many as 59 million—raises the question of who bears responsibility for repairing the damage inflicted on those displaced.”

In addition to the tens of millions displaced by U.S. military actions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, the Philippines, Libya, and Syria, the report notes that millions more have been displaced by “smaller combat operations, including in Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Niger, Saudi Arabia, and Tunisia.”

“To put these figures in perspective, displacing 37 million people is equivalent to removing nearly all the residents of the state of California or all the people in Texas and Virginia combined,” the report says. “The figure is almost as large as the population of Canada. In historical terms, 37 million displaced is more than those displaced by any other war or disaster since at least the start of the 20th century with the sole exception of World War II.”

David Vine, professor of anthropology at American University and the lead author of the new report, told the New York Times that the findings show “U.S. involvement in these countries has been horrifically catastrophic, horrifically damaging in ways that I don’t think that most people in the United States, in many ways myself included, have grappled with or reckoned within even the slightest terms.”

Matt Duss, the foreign policy adviser to Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), demanded such a reckoning in a tweet responding to the Costs of War Project’s latest findings.

“The scale of the disaster the United States has inflicted on the world—through three war on terror presidencies—is staggering,” wrote Duss. “We need a reckoning. We can’t simply move on.”

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10 Good Things About 2019

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. (Photo: Creative Commons)

By Medea Benjamin | Common Dreams

Impeachment, Trump, impeachment, Trump. It’s hard to think of this year without obsessing about the occupant of the White House. But yes, there were lots of other events going on in the world this year. Some of them were tragic, like the coup in Bolivia, but some are hopeful and move us in a positive direction. Here are ten. Please add more.

  1. In January, the most diverse class of lawmakers in U.S. history was sworn into Congress, including a record number of women in the House: 102. Four of the freshman known affectionately as “the squad”—Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida Tlaib, Ilhan Omar and Ayanna Pressley—have shown what a few brave women can do to shake up the DC establishment. They denounced the inhumane treatment of migrants on our southern border; pushed for a Green New Deal and Medicare for All; confronted big pharma; started paying congressional interns; refused to take the “mandatory” AIPAC trip to Israel. They changed the Congressional ecosystem and thanks to them, a lot more young progressives are now running for Congress.

  1. The Democratic primaries have forced the country to talk about progressive policies like never before. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren have pushed Medicare for All, the Green New Deal and policies to address this nation’s horrific inequalities. Tulsi Gabbard has focused on the need to end the endless wars. And compared with 2016, all of the candidates have been more open to directly confronting the military-industrial complex, with vague but critical calls for reducing the overblown Pentagon budget. The debates and campaign rallies have been opportunities to air discussions on real solutions to our nation’s ills, solutions that are not popular with big-dollar donors but are wildly popular with the public.

  2. 2019 was a year of awe-inspiring environmental youth activism. The sensational 16-year-old Greta Thunberg from Sweden captured world attention at the UN climate summit with her call for young people to hold adults accountable for the disaster they’ve created. Greta’s school strike (she sat in front of the Swedish Parliament instead of going to school) inspired students’ walkouts throughout the world. She also inspired some famous elders: Thanks to Greta, Jane Fonda brought the Fire Drill Fridays to Washington D.C., doing civil disobedience at Congress every Friday and bringing more national attention to the climate crisis.

  1. While the environmental gains this year are not nearly on the level needed, there are countries taking serious actions. The New Zealand parliament passed landmark legislation to achieve zero net carbon dioxide emissions by 2050. The legislation establishes New Zealand as one of the few countries in the world with a legislated commitment to meeting the goals of the Paris Agreement. In contrast to Australia, where climate and energy policy has provoked toxic debate and scare campaigns from the far right, the New Zealand bill passed with bipartisan support. The government also established a $100 million Green Investment Fund, which will invest public funds in projects that reduce greenhouse gas emissions; plant one billion new trees by 2028, and stop exploration for new oil and gas reserves.

  1. In more environmental news, the European Union banned single-use plastic, including plastic cups, plates, forks, and straws. The ban will take effect by 2021. The change could help avoid nearly $25 billion-worth of environmental pollution by 2030. While the U.S. lags behind at the federal level, jurisdictions across the United States have instituted bans and fees on various types of plastics, like bags, carryout containers, polystyrene (Styrofoam), and straws. Eight states, including California and New York, have passed statewide bans on single-use plastic bags, while Maine has a ban on single-use polystyrene containers.

  1. While Donald Trump crows about how great the domestic economy is, more and more workers are demanding a fairer share of the pie. Tens of thousands of workers across the country, from General Motors employees to teachers in Chicago, went on strike to win better wages and benefits. G.M. agreed to a path for temps to become permanent workers, and to alter its tiered wage scale. Airline mechanics, including at Southwest Airlines, won raises. The move toward a $15 minimum wage is gaining steam, with 21 states raising minimum wages in 2019 and more increases on the way in 2020.

  1. For Latin America, 2019 was a year of people’s power. There were advances and setbacks, but it’s clear that there is a return of the Pink Tide (the name given to the wave of progressive governments in the late 1990s and 2000s). In this past year, social movements and organized people rose up against neoliberalism in Chile and Ecuador, they defeated a coup in Venezuela, they’re resisting a coup in Bolivia, they rose up against a narco-dictator in Honduras, they rose up against state violence and austerity in Colombia, they took back power in Argentina, they’re transforming Mexico, and, last but not least, in Brazil, they organized a successful and massive international campaign to free former president Lula da Silva.

  1. In the Middle East, people also rose up in a massive repudiation of neoliberal policies and corrupt governments that benefit the wealthy and multinational corporations at the expense of working people. In what has been dubbed the Autumn of Discontent, there were uprisings from Iraq to Lebanon, from Iran to Egypt. The repression against activists has been savage, with hundreds killed. In Lebanon, the protests led to the resignation of Prime Minister Saad Hariri but their goals are broader: They are demanding an end to corruption and mismanagement that results in blackouts and piles of garbage in the streets, as well as the crony sectarianism that enables it.

  1. In Sudan, where the nation suffered for years under the murderous dictatorship of Omar Hassan al-Bashir, who had been in power since 1989, people poured into the streets by the hundreds of thousands. After months of courageous protests in which scores of Sudanese were shot, Abdalla Hamdok took office as prime minister in a power-sharing deal between the armed forces and the pro-democracy movement. the movement won a commitment for a three-year transition leading to elections, and Bashir was sent to prison for corruption. People are still in the streets demanding justice for the people killed in protests. “The victims have the right to truth, justice, and reparations under international law,” said the protesters.

  2. While Trump didn’t fulfill his promise to end our endless wars, and he actually sent 14,000 MORE troops to the Middle East, at least he didn’t start any new wars! Why? The American people have had enough. That hasn’t always been the case. After the 9/11 attacks, for example, most Americans supported both the U.S. intervention in Afghanistan and in Iraq. But no longer. They want to get out of the wars we are in and don’t want to engage in new ones. When the U.S. accused Iran of a spectacular attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities, the hawks in the Trump administration wanted to respond with a military attack. But polls showed a minuscule 13 percent in favor. This has been a restraining factor for Trump and his Warhawks. And let’s remember, this year also marked the downfall of the biggest Warhawk of all, Trump’s former National Security Advisor John Bolton.

In the coming year, those of us in the US will face one of the most important elections of our lifetimes. Four more years of Donald Trump will be devastating for our nation and our world. No matter what happens with the impeachment process in the Senate, we must mobilize to defeat Trump and build a more effective progressive movement. Remembering some of the gains in the difficult year of 2019 can help inspire us for the critical struggles ahead.

Medea Benjamin

Medea Benjamin, a co-founder of Global Exchange and CODEPINK: Women for Peace, is the author of the new book, Inside Iran: The Real History and Politics of the Islamic Republic of Iran. Her previous books include Kingdom of the Unjust: Behind the U.S.-Saudi ConnectionDrone Warfare: Killing by Remote ControlDon’t Be Afraid Gringo: A Honduran Woman Speaks from the Heart, and (with Jodie Evans) Stop the Next War Now (Inner Ocean Action Guide). Follow her on Twitter: @medeabenjamin

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Envisioning a United World

“Should a U.S. election not involve most people on earth? What would American political discourse look like, if it had to satisfy voters in Iraq or Afghanistan?” (Photo: Pixabay)

By Robert C. Koehler | Common Dreams

Let’s bomb Iowa! Or maybe Texas or Michigan or Nebraska . . .

Oh wait, I got confused for a second. Those places are part of America and we love them. We would never bomb them. These are places we would bomb: Guatemala, Indonesia, Cuba, Congo, Vietnam, Cambodia, Grenada, Libya, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Iran, Panama, Iraq, Kuwait, Somalia, Bosnia, Sudan, Afghanistan, Yugoslavia, Yemen, Pakistan, Syria, etc.

Think about how our bombs have kept the country safe over the last half-century or so. Indeed, think about “national safety” as a concept: protecting only what’s within our borders, because that’s all that matters. Indeed, think about the sanctity of those borders. People born on one side of them are citizens; people born on the other side—like Delmer Joel Ramirez Palma—are illegals, plain and simple.

Ramirez Palma, a construction worker, had lived in the U.S. for twenty years. In October, he was nearly killed (and three of his co-workers were killed) when an 18-story hotel under construction in New Orleans started to collapse. He later became a plaintiff in a lawsuit against the developers, who were accused of using substandard building materials and inadequately shoring up the concrete flooring.

But guess what? He wasn’t a citizen! He was here without bureaucratic bona fides; and while the investigation was in progress, he was arrested by ICE and quickly deported to Honduras. No matter he’s married and has a 10-year-old son in the U.S. The rights of building developers not to have to endure the negative testimony of illegals remain intact.

This is one tiny example of a global absurdity—indeed, global insanity: the alleged sovereignty of nation-states to decide who matters and who doesn’t, what matters and what doesn’t. And what doesn’t matter is that the whole planet is in danger. If its infrastructure, both political and ecological, collapses, every country loses.

As Danny Sjursen wrote recently at Truthdig: “As the U.S. government, as well as far too many Americans, remain fixated on the decidedly minor threat of Islamist ‘terrorism,’ two actual global existential perils persist and are hardly addressed. I’m speaking, of course, of nuclear war and man-made, climate-based catastrophe.”

The xenophobia and global obsession with secure borders—protection from the millions of war and climate refugees at loose on this troubled planet—are “symptoms,” he writes, “of what is slowly revealing itself to all: nation-states everywhere are in an advanced state of political and moral decay from which they cannot individually extricate themselves.”

Can we not look at matters from a planetary, as opposed to an us-vs.-them, perspective? Sjursen’s point is that humanity is trembling on the brink of extinction and the global political structure we’ve built is incapable of addressing or even acknowledging this. Borders are obsolete. Nationalism is obsolete; it’s been obsolete, Sjursen maintains, since World War I, which, following the deaths of millions of soldiers, begot the even bloodier World War II, which begot the Cold War, the nuclear arms race and ultimately the endless wars of the 21st Century. Yet “world government,” whatever that might mean, and one-world political consciousness seem beyond our collective imagination. But such an evolution is necessary.

Can we envision a world in which bombing Libya or Iraq is as unimaginable as bombing Iowa? Can we envision a world that is organized around the requirements of planetary survival and values the transcultural connectedness of every human occupant?

Rana Dasgupta, writing last year in The Guardian, put it this way: “The most momentous development of our era, precisely, is the waning of the nation-state: its inability to withstand countervailing 21st-century forces, and its calamitous loss of influence over human circumstance. National political authority is in decline, and, since we do not know any other sort, it feels like the end of the world.”

The xenophobia and global obsession with secure borders—protection from the millions of war and climate refugees at loose on this troubled planet—are “symptoms,” he writes, “of what is slowly revealing itself to all: nation-states everywhere are in an advanced state of political and moral decay from which they cannot individually extricate themselves.”

So what happens next? The time has come, Dasgupta says, to envision what seems impossible: a global order that doesn’t currently exist. He takes it upon himself to begin the process and defines three elements as crucial. These are:

1. Global financial regulation: “We must build systems to track transnational money flows, and to transfer a portion of them into public channels. Without this, our political infrastructure will continue to become more and more superfluous to actual material life. In the process, we must also think more seriously about global redistribution: . . . the systematic transfer of wealth from rich to poor for the improved security of all.”

2. Transnational democracy: “National governments themselves need to be subjected to a superior tier of authority: they have proved to be the most dangerous forces in the nation-state era, waging endless wars against other nations while oppressing, killing and otherwise failing their own populations.” He cites the European Union as an imperfect example, which at least has democratized movement and economic opportunity within its confines.

3. New conceptions of citizenship: Citizenship should be de-linked from the territory and global movement should be deregulated. Also, people profoundly affected by decisions made on the other side of the planet ought to have a say in those decisions. For instance: “Should a U.S. election not involve most people on earth? What would American political discourse look like, if it had to satisfy voters in Iraq or Afghanistan?”

We’re all imperiled by climate change and the possibility of nuclear (or any) war. The time has come to face these real dangers by becoming global citizens. Embracing transnational connectedness does not mean surrendering to homogenization or devaluing diversity but, rather, just the opposite. It means deciding not to fear differences of language, culture or ethnicity. It means realizing that all of us are equal at a global level and what we have to learn from one another is endless.

Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

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Celebrating Peace: A Work in Progress

In 1954, Armistice Day was replaced with Veterans Day, and so our public celebration of peace and an end to war became a rally to “support the troops,” a state and a federal day off, and a platform for military recruitment. (Photo: Archive/File)

By Robert C. Koehler | Common Dreams

Veterans For Peace, an organization that speaks truth to war like nobody else, is attempting to reclaim Armistice Day, the Nov. 11 holiday that was flipped on its head 65 years ago when it was renamed Veterans Day — and became a celebration not of the end of the war but of its perpetuity.

The name change occurred in 1954. The Korean War had recently “ended,” the Cold War and the nuclear arms race were seriously revving up and, of course, that other world war, nine years past, was still vividly a part of everyone’s consciousness. There was near-infinite cynicism about the whole idea of “the war to end all wars” . . . yeah, sure, what a joke. That’ll never happen.

But in reclaiming Armistice Day — and holding events across the country honoring the current struggle to create peace — Veterans For Peace is also reclaiming a cry of pain and anger: The so-called Great War, with its mustard gas and trenches, its shellshock and influenza, its 20 million dead, was unnecessary and should have been the last. It is reclaiming a profound, global commitment to War No More.

Veterans Day celebrates — glorifies — the past. Armistice Day speaks to and attempts to create, the future. What is peace? How can it happen? The question hovers like a star.

Writing on Nov. 11, VFP executive director Garett Reppenhagen put it thus: “We absolutely need to start pushing back on militarism in all its forms and regardless of who is in the White House. Not just on gross displays like Trump’s proposed circus but on how we organize and how the effects of militarism show up in all of our spaces and communities. The reality is that almost EVERY SINGLE domestic platform on a progressive agenda can be funded by the overinflated military budget.”

On this reclaimed American day of peace, this day of looking at what we must do, I attended an Armistice Day event in Chicago, sponsored by the local VFP chapter. To a large extent, the focal point was the city’s schools and the needs of its children. Not coincidentally, a Chicago Teachers Union strike had just ended. The union’s demands were more than better pay and benefits for teachers, but such matters as:

“All students need individual attention from their teachers. We cannot provide that level of attention when we have more than 40 students in a kindergarten or any other class.”

And, in a system that recently made a $33 million agreement with the Chicago Police Department for policing in schools, the Teachers Union called for “hiring social workers, counselors, nurses, other clinicians at nationally recommended ratios; hire more case managers; full-time librarian and Restorative Justice coordinator in every school.”

This is the future, created one brick at a time. We can’t “celebrate” peace without asking what it requires. Indeed, peace is about asking the big questions. This is where it begins. Peace is always a work in progress.

One of the panelists at the Armistice Day event was part of an organization called Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, or VOYCE, which several years ago had released a report on the school system called “Failed Policies, Broken Futures: The True Cost of Zero Tolerance in Chicago,” which found that Chicago Public Schools’ “overuse of harsh disciplinary measures has cost the city tens of millions of dollars in the short term and hundreds of millions of dollars in the long-term, diverting resources from more effective approaches to school safety.”

This reclaimed day is every day, a celebration of the future that’s in progress and our slowly growing awareness of what it requires, such as “a Restorative Justice coordinator in every school” — hallelujah. The core of Restorative Justice is the healing circle, where participants. sitting in vibrant equality, address conflict by listening to multiple points of view, figuring out what has been harmed and deciding how it can be healed. It’s the opposite of a perfunctory, bureaucratic solution, i.e., punishment, which can seem so simple to someone removed from the reality of it, but exacts a harsh cost on young people in the process of growing up. In the inner city, it’s called the school-to-prison pipeline.

An externally maintained, unstable state of order — whether in the public schools or the community of nations — is not peace.

Reclaiming Armistice Day does not mean applauding the illusory peace that was achieved on Nov. 11, 1918, but it could well mean looking with unwavering clarity and courage at this illusion. War doesn’t work.

Veterans Day may claim to honor vets, but it isn’t about honoring the ones who have struggled with PTSD and committed suicide. Matthew Hoh, for instance, notes that far more Afghan and Iraq vets have committed suicide than were killed in the wars themselves. He writes:

“To visually understand this concept that the killing in war does not end when the soldiers come home, think of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial in Washington, DC, The Wall, with its 58,000 names. Now visualize The Wall but lengthen it by some 1,000-2,000 feet to include the 100,000 to 200,000 plus Vietnam veterans who are estimated to have been lost to suicide, while keeping space available to continue to add names for as long as Vietnam veterans survive because the suicides will never stop.”

This is the armistice that has yet to be achieved.

Robert C. Koehler

Robert Koehler is an award-winning, Chicago-based journalist and nationally syndicated writer. His new book, Courage Grows Strong at the Wound is now available. Contact him at koehlercw@gmail.com or visit his website at commonwonders.com.

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The So-Called War on Terror Has Killed Over 801,000 People and Cost $6.4 Trillion: New Analysis

A U.S. Army soldier fires an M4 carbine rifle during partnered live-fire range training at Tactical Base Gamberi, Afghanistan on May 29, 2015. (Photo: Capt. Charlie Emmons/U.S. Army/Flickr/cc)

By Jessica Corbett | Common Dreams

The so-called War on Terror launched by the United States government in the wake of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks has cost at least 801,000 lives and $6.4 trillion according to a pair of reports published Wednesday by the Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs.

“The numbers continue to accelerate, not only because many wars continue to be waged, but also because wars don’t end when soldiers come home,” said Costs of War co-director and Brown professor Catherine Lutz, who co-authored the project’s report on deaths.

“These reports provide a reminder that even if fewer soldiers are dying and the U.S. is spending a little less on the immediate costs of war today, the financial impact is still as bad as, or worse than, it was 10 years ago,” Lutz added. “We will still be paying the bill for these wars on terror into the 22nd century.”

The new Human Cost of Post-9/11 Wars report (pdf) tallies “direct deaths” in major war zones, grouping people by civilians; humanitarian and NGO workers; journalists and media workers; U.S. military members, Department of Defense civilians, and contractors; and members of national military and police forces as well as other allied troops and opposition fighters.

The report sorts direct deaths by six categories: Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Syria/ISIS, Yemen, and “Other.” The civilian death toll across all regions is up to 335,745—or nearly 42% of the total figure. Notably, the report “does not include indirect deaths, namely those caused by loss of access to food, water, and/or infrastructure, war-related disease, etc.”

Indirect deaths “are generally estimated to be four times higher,” Costs of War board member and American University professor David Vine wrote in an op-ed for The Hill Wednesday. “This means that total deaths during the post-2001 U.S. wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Pakistan, and Yemen are likely to reach 3.1 million or more—around 200 times the number of U.S. dead.”

“Don’t we have a responsibility to wrestle with our individual and collective responsibility for the destruction our government has inflicted?” Vine asked in his op-ed. “Our tax dollars and implied consent have made these wars possible. While the United States is obviously not the only actor responsible for the damage done in the post-2001 wars, U.S. leaders bear the bulk of responsibility for launching catastrophic wars that were never inevitable, that were wars of choice.”

Referencing the project’s second new report, United States Budgetary Costs and Obligations of Post-9/11 Wars Through FY2020: $6.4 Trillion (pdf), Vine wrote, “Consider how we could have otherwise spent that incomprehensible sum—to feed the hungry, improve schools, confront global warming, improve our transportation infrastructure, and provide healthcare.”

“At a time when everyone from Donald Trump to Democratic Party candidates for president is calling for an end to these endless wars, we must push our government to use diplomacy—rather than rash withdrawals, as in northern Syria—to end these wars responsibly,” he concluded. “As the new Costs of War report and 3.1 million deaths should remind us, part of our responsibility must be to repair some of the immeasurable damage done and to ensure that wars like these never happen again.”

The project’s $6.4 trillion figure accounts for overseas contingency operations appropriations, interest for borrowing for OCO spending, war-related spending in the Pentagon’s base budget, medical and disability care for post-9/11 veterans (including estimated future obligations through FY2059), and Department of Homeland Security spending for prevention of and response to terrorism.

Costs of War co-director and Boston University professor Neta Crawford co-authored the project’s death toll report and authored the budget report. For the latter, she wrote that “the major trends in the budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars include: less transparency in reporting costs among most major agencies; greater institutionalization of the costs of war in the DOD base budget, State Department, and DHS; and the growing budgetary burden of veterans’ medical care and disability care.”

Both reports were released as part of the project’s new “20 Years of War” series. Crawford, Lutz, and fellow Costs of War co-director Stephanie Savell were in Washington, D.C. Wednesday to present the reports’ findings at a briefing hosted by the U.S. Senate Committee on Armed Services.

“We have already seen that when we go to Washington and circulate our briefings, they get used in the policymaking process,” Lutz said in a news story published by Brown Wednesday. “People cite our data in speeches on the Senate floor, in proposals for legislation. The numbers have made their way into calls to put an end to the joint resolution to authorize the use of military force. They have a real impact.”

Lutz pointed out that “if you count all parts of the federal budget that are military-related—including the nuclear weapons budget, the budget for fuel for military vehicles and aircraft, funds for veteran care—it makes up two-thirds of the federal budget, and it’s inching toward three-quarters.”

“I don’t think most people realize that but it’s important to know,” she added. “Policymakers are concerned that the Pentagon’s increased spending is crowding out other national purposes that don’t war.”

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Helping Students Keep Their Humanity by Not Signing Up for War

As awareness and activism grow among young people around the climate crisis, immigration, racism, gun violence, and the Trump administration, we show the connections between these issues and U.S. wars. (Photo: via EuroYankee)

By Stephanie Rugoff | Common Dreams

On this Veterans Day, 2019, for the United States, making war is less about amassing human air, land and sea forces to attack “the enemy” as it is increasingly about amassing technological superiority in which machines replace humans enabling politicians and corporate bosses to pursue their goals without the pesky problem of waves of homeward-bound body bags and caskets.

Yet, the Pentagon was confronted with the obstacle of conscience being applied to technological research in mid-2018 when Google employees protested working on Project Maven, a program that would use artificial intelligence to assist in drone killing, causing Google to drop Maven. Tech workers at Amazon and Microsoft have also protested working on technology that supports repression and killing.

While work on Maven has been picked up by another firm and Amazon and Microsoft leadership have apparently felt free to ignore the pleas of their workers these protests illustrate the increasing power of individuals to throw monkey wrenches into the gears of the war machine.

Hence, the increasing importance of the task of educating all students on the consequences of war, whether or not they plan to join the military.

This is what We Are Not Your Soldiers has been doing for 13 years by bringing veterans into classrooms. Being knowledgeable of the realities of fighting in or, by inertia, supporting the wrong side of imperialist wars can lead to people speaking and acting in opposition to them.

Veterans Dialogue With Students About U.S. Wars

During 2018-19, all We Are Not Your Soldiers visits were in New York State, including:

  • Four colleges in New York City
  • Seven NYC high schools – from very traditional to very non-traditional
  • A progressive NYC public middle school
  •  A NY State church social action program whose members are primarily immigrant youth

Speaking to:

  • 17 college classes
  • 41 high school classes (including one JROTC class)
  • Four middle school classes
  • One church youth group

… averaging out to deep discussions with approximately 1,600-1,700 students.

A teacher from one of the schools messaged us: “Just wanted to thank you again for spending a truly engaging, thought-provoking day with us. The work you do is incredibly vital for young people like my students, all of whom were enthusiastic, moved and grateful in their responses when I asked them for their thoughts on your visit in class the next day.  I’m constantly trying to raise consciousness (and consciences…), but it is often a tough uphill trek, so I’m happy to have your help in the mission. I would love to have you back next year to meet a new batch of students! In the meantime, please keep doing the work you’re doing — I know how exhausting it is but I promise you it is worth it!”

Our Speakers

Miles Megaciph, a spoken word artist, tells the story of his time in the Marines, in Guantanamo and Okinawa, via hip-hop. Lyle Rubin, who served as a Marine lieutenant, focuses on several key incidents during his time in Afghanistan.  John Burns, a former Army bomb technician, enlisted to save lives not to be turned into a robot. Will Griffin, a veteran of both Iraq and Afghanistan, was just elected to the board of About Face (formerly Iraq Veterans Against the War).

If Vietnam is being studied,  Joe Urgo, an Air Force Vietnam veteran who had been a principal organizer of the Winter Soldier Investigation, speaks. Bruce Dancis, a Vietnam resister who spent 19 months in federal prison, also speaks.

Our messages

The veterans share their own personal stories of how they were affected by their time in the military, bringing another vision of these wars in which so many have been sacrificed by losing their lives and/or their humanity. And, they address the effects on the peoples of the countries under attack and what has happened when social structures have been destroyed. Not many veterans can do this.

Speaking openly of such experiences is very difficult and can open raw wounds –  which is why even those students with veterans in their family or close circles have not heard much of what comes out in these discussions. Many veterans confront either denial or shame in revealing information contrary to the beliefs of those who “thank them for their service,” an issue for so many dealing with post-traumatic stress.

We are very grateful to these speakers who share their lives.  They struggle to do this in order to help others avoid the trauma they have suffered and to avoid the horrific violence being aimed at so many others around the world.

We Are Not Your Soldiers brings this exposure of imperial wars to a generation of youth largely unaware of the crimes being carried out throughout the world in their names. As awareness and activism grow among young people around the climate crisis, immigration, racism gun violence, and the Trump administration, we show the connections between these issues and U.S. wars.

We emphasize students don’t have to believe us any more than they have to believe media advertising or the recruiters who approach them. They need to investigate on their own, researching conflicting claims to be able to get a true grasp on reality. Students ask questions and state their own opinions and thoughts. As a retired teacher with long-term experience in the New York City school system, I work with educators to align the presentation with their curriculum and be as relevant as possible to the needs of their students.

One student wrote: “Thank you for coming to our school. I appreciate that you shared your experience with us. It opened my eyes to the military because I didn’t know any of the stuff you shared with us. Your story made me realize how cruel the military can be. Also, you’re brave and kind-hearted for thinking about other people’s lives.”

Sometimes, we show students “Collateral Murder,” footage released by Chelsea Manning via Wikileaks of the US helicopter killing of Reuters journalists and others in Baghdad,  or excerpts from “Unmanned,” a feature film about the moral quandary of a drone pilot stationed in the United States. After watching “Collateral Murder” students in a JROTC class asked, “Why did they kill children?” “Why did they talk about people in Iraq in such a messed up way?”

Morality is a keyword or core idea we always introduce for students to consider throughout the presentation and discussion – knowing the difference between right and wrong and what to do when you know that something is wrong.

Coming to your school

If you are an educator, a student or a parent, invite us to your school. If you are a parent or simply a concerned citizen, approach local principals, guidance counselors or teachers about the importance of their students hearing all sides of the story so they can make wise decisions of what to do upon graduation. We encourage you to visit our website and follow our Facebook page.

We offer the We Are Not Your Soldiers presentations free of charge. Your donations keep us going.

We are scheduling visits for our We Are Not Your Soldiers tour for the fall 2019 semester. Call us at 646-807-3259 or email wearenotyoursoldiers@worldcantwait.net. We will arrange to be at your school no matter where you are located — we can do “distance” visits via Skype or Zoom.

Stephanie Rugoff

Stephanie Rugoff, a former literacy specialist in the NYC public schools, coordinates the We Are Not Your Soldiers project.

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Nation That Says It Can’t Afford Medicare for All Has Spent $5.6 Trillion on War Since 9/11

“From the civilians harmed and displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the U.S. and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors,” the new report states. (Photo: Lynn Friedman/Flickr/cc)

By Andrea Germanos | Common Dreams

new analysis offers a damning assessment of the United States’ so-called global war on terror, and it includes a “staggering” estimated price tag for wars waged since 9/11—over $5.6 trillion.

The Costs of War Project at Brown University’s Watson Center says the figure—which covers the conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, and Pakistan from 2001 through 2018—is the equivalent of more than $23,386 per taxpayer.

The “new report,” said Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action’s senior director for policy and political affairs, “once again shows that the true #costofwar represents a colossal burden to taxpayers on top of the tremendous human loss.”

The center’s figure is far greater than the $1.5 trillion the Pentagon estimated (pdf) in July for the costs of the wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, as it gives a fuller picture by including “war-related spending by the State Department, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security,” writes Neta C. Crawford, a professor of political science at Boston University.

“As obscene as it is to waste so much money, it is more obscene to waste human life.”
—Win Without War
Her report notes that even the $5.6 trillion tally underestimates the true figures, as it doesn’t capture “every budgetary expense related to these wars,” such as state and local costs to take care of veterans; nor does it take into account the funds used for military equipment “gifts” to countries involved in the conflicts.

“In sum,” it states, “although this report’s accounting is comprehensive, there are still billions of dollars not included in its estimate.”

In addition, as the Washington, D.C.-based organization Win Without War notes, “let’s not forget that when we talk about what war costs there are also human costs. As obscene as it is to waste so much money, it is more obscene to waste human life.”

Crawford’s report hammers home that point:

Moreover, a full accounting of any war’s burdens cannot be placed in columns on a ledger. From the civilians harmed and displaced by violence, to the soldiers killed and wounded, to the children who play years later on roads and fields sown with improvised explosive devices and cluster bombs, no set of numbers can convey the human toll of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, or how they have spilled into the neighboring states of Syria and Pakistan, and come home to the U.S. and its allies in the form of wounded veterans and contractors. Wars also entail an opportunity cost—what we might have done differently with the money spent and obligated and how veterans’ and civilians’ lives could have been lived differently.”

Echoing a point made by other observers of failed U.S. counter-terrorism strategies, the report states that “the more people the U.S. kills, the more seem to join the organizations the U.S. was already fighting, even as new radical groups spring up.”

The report also suggests the war costs will only continue to pile up: “There is no end in sight to the U.S. military presence in Afghanistan and the associated operations in Pakistan. Similarly, despite recent gains, there is little clear sense of how long the U.S. will be engaged in Iraq and Syria.”

Reacting to the news report, William D. Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, writes in an op-ed at The Hill: “Was this huge expenditure of blood and treasure worth it? Did it substantially reduce the risks of terrorism, or reduce the likelihood of future conflicts? The short answer is no.”

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House Passes Amendments to End War Authorizations, Preemptively Defund Iran War

By Jason Ditz | Activist Post

The flurry of amendments to the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) moving through the House of Representatives is finally wrapping up Friday, where a series of Thursday night debates gave way to key votes early Friday on some contentious issues.

Major subjects of those debates included amendments that aim to end both the 2001 and 2002 Authorizations for Use of Military Force (AUMF). The 2001 repeal passed 237-183, while the 2002 repeal passed even easier at 242-180.

Debates on the AUMF centered on concern that the authorizations could be used by President Trump or future presidents to authorize wars they were never intended for. The aim is to replace the 2001 version with something more current on the global war on terror and to do away with the 2002 version entirely, since its main goal was to unseat the long-dead Saddam Hussein and conquer Iraq, now a US ally. Opponents of the repeals argued it would tie President Trump’s hands, and that other recent presidents have gotten to launch unauthorized wars without Congress getting in the way.

Which was also a big topic of the debate for another amendment, the preemptive defunding of any US attack on Iran that comes without explicit Congressional authorization. This passed 250-170.

Bill supporters argued that Iran is just too big of a war to get sucked into without Congress having any say in the matter, while opponents insisted that Congress is so slow in approving wars we’d never get an attack on Iran off the ground without a president doing it unilaterally.

This was a particularly important vote because President Trump has argued he doesn’t need Congressional authorization to attack Iran. While that’s legally incorrect, he may have been de facto right, since he’s been vetoing War Powers Act challenges to other unauthorized wars. Congress thus is using the power of the purse to ensure that there is no money allowed to be spent on such an illegal war.

These amendments join several others passed on Thursday, including amendments blocking arms sales to Saudi Arabia, and the defunding of the US war in Yemen, the subject of the aforementioned War Powers challenges.

Once passed in the House, the NDAA will have to be reconciled with the Senate version, which doesn’t include a number of these amendments. The House, however, is expected to stand firm on these matters. President Trump has threatened to veto the House version, which could mean that the NDAA remains up in the air, as Congress may try to override or see which side blinks first.

The NDAA ultimately passed 220-197.

Jason Ditz is news editor of Antiwar.com, where this article first appeared.  

Image credit: The Anti-Media

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How A Real War On Terrorism Would Look And Why The US Isn’t Fighting One

By Ulson Gunnar | Activist Post

Since 2001, when then US President George Bush announced his “War on Terror,” presidents and politicians both in the United States and among America’s allies, have repeated this phrase and have done their utmost to convince the public that indeed, the West was fighting a “War on Terror.”

Yet there is something disturbingly ambiguous about what exactly the “War on Terror” consists of, who it’s being waged against and how it could ever possibly be brought to a successful conclusion.

It is also often referred to as the “Long War,” and for good reason. America’s ongoing occupation of Afghanistan is the longest armed conflict in US history. Additionally, US troops still find themselves in Iraq, some 14 years after the initial invasion and occupation of the state in 2003.

Because of the ambiguous nature of the “War on Terror,” politicians have been given much room to maneuver their rhetoric, explaining why more wars must be waged, more liberties curtailed at home and more wealth and power channeled into fewer and fewer hands.

What’s Really Behind Terrorism?

The fanatics, weapons, supplies, vehicles and finances that grease the wheels of global terror do not merely spring forth from the pages of the Qu’ran, as bigots across the West insist.

Just like any national army, the army raised and wielded in the name of terrorism has several basic components. Examining these components reveals a very uncomfortable but somewhat poorly hidden truth.

In reality, fanatics must be indoctrinated. And they are, in Saudi-funded madras and mosque networks wrapping around the globe. In the United States and across Europe, these madrases and mosques often serve as both indoctrination centers and recruiting stations. They operate as such with the explicit knowledge, even cooperation of US and European security and intelligence agencies.

One such center can be found in Denmark at Grimhøjvej Mosque in Aarhus which openly serves as a recruiting station for militants meant to fight abroad in US-European backed wars in Libya, Syria, Iraq and Yemen. The government of Denmark openly collaborates with the mosque to integrate these individuals back into Danish society when they return.

The mosque in Aarhus is hardly an isolated example. Such mosques backed and protected by US-European-Saudi money and political influence dot the globe, feeding recruits into a global mercenary army carrying out proxy war and staging terrorist attacks whenever and wherever politically convenient.

Both WikiLeaks and even the US’ own Defense Intelligence Agency has released documents exposing the role both the West and Gulf states such as Saudi Arabia and Qatar have played in the arming and funding of actual militants once they reach the battlefield.

Additionally, militants that have been indoctrinated, trained, armed, funded and battle-hardened by Western and Gulf sponsorship, return back to their respective nations where they are then cultivated for domestic operations. Terror attacks like those in Paris and BrusselsBerlin and elsewhere are carried out almost exclusively by militants US-European security and intelligence agencies have known about and even arrested but inexplicably released, allowing them to carry out their attacks.

What a Real War on Terrorism Requires

It is often said that states like Russia, Syria and Iran exist as natural allies to the United States and Europe in the fight against terrorism. And that would be true if not for the fact that said terrorism is actually a deliberate product of US-European foreign policy. Were the West to truly wage a war on terrorism, it would already be deeply cooperating with these nations on the front line against groups like Al Qaeda and the self-proclaimed Islamic State.

However, terrorism is waged as a means of fighting the West’s proxy wars abroad, and to create divisive, paralyzing hatred, fear and hysteria at home.

Travel bans are created to intentionally stoke controversy and distract the public from the aforementioned reality driving terrorism. As is evident in virtually all terror attacks carried out across the West, suspects are already known to security and intelligence agencies beforehand. These agencies simply need to stop them. Instead, they allow the attacks to take place, granting their respective governments political capital to channel more power into centralized hands.

While the US and Europe use terrorism as a function of foreign policy, they could not do it without their intermediaries in the Persian Gulf. Without the Saudis and Qataris serving as “handlers” for the West’s terrorist legions, it is unlikely such legions could be raised to begin with.

Targeting, rather than embracing, even protecting these state sponsors of all aspects of terrorism, from indoctrination and recruitment, to training, arming and financing terrorism on the battlefield, would be another essential step in a real “War on Terror.”

Yet from President Bush to President Obama and now during the administration of US President Donald Trump, the US and its European allies continue to coddle the regimes in Riyadh and Doha, rather than taking any measures whatsoever to disrupt this terror pipeline.

While the US remains in Afghanistan allegedly to “fight terrorism,” it refuses to take even the most basic steps to dismantle the ideological, political and financial structures in the Persian Gulf fueling that terrorism.

A final means of combating and defeating “terrorism” would be to educate the public of just how small a minority is actually involved in it, isolating those groups exploiting and perverting ideologies from the vast majority who practice these ideologies constructively.

Instead, US and European demagogues work ceaselessly to lump all of Islam into the “terror” basket, creating tension and hostility on both sides of an essentially manufactured strategy of tension. Instead of draining emotional and political resources from those seeking to recruit disillusioned individuals, the West is ensuring them an endless supply.

A real “War on Terror” is clearly not being waged. Nothing presented by President Trump before or after his campaign victory in 2016 indicates a real war is about to be waged. In fact, much of what has been done thus far, has simply been the placing of additional bricks on a very predictable path toward the infinite horizon of this “Long War.”

Ulson Gunnar, a New York-based geopolitical analyst and writer especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”, where this article first appeared.

Image Credit: TheFreeThoughtProject.com

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Egyptian Media: ISIS Is ‘Made Up’ and U.S. Created 9/11 To Justify War On Terror

Credit: tomatobubble.com

Credit: tomatobubble.com

By Amanda Froelich | True Activist

More than ever before, American citizens are questioning the ‘official’ story behind 9/11. This was made evident by how popular two articles, “It’s Official: European Scientific Journal Concludes 9/11 Was A Controlled Demolition” and “This Video Destroys The Official Account Of 9/11 In Less Than 5 Minutes [Watch]“, were on the anniversary of the tragic day.

U.S. residents aren’t the only ones looking for truth, however. Citizens – and the governments – of other countries have formed unpopular theories on what really prompted the NYC attacks. According to one Egyptian media site, the U.S. government is likely to blame.

Related Article: 9/11 Bombshell New Evidence: Methodical Deception — Rebekah Roth

The Independent relays that journalist Noha Al-Sharnoubi wrote in an Egyptian newspaper that the U.S. invented ISIS, as well as set up the 9/11 attacks to justify its military interventions in the Middle East. She wrote in Al-Ahram:

“Is it possible to believe the official version, from the US government, of the events of 11 September 2001?”

The columnist said that the World Trade Center and Pentagon attacks were likely premeditated to “justify the war on terror”. Considering there are a number of holes in the ‘official’ story Americans have fed, this seems entirely plausible.

An English translation of Al-Sharnoubi’s article reads:

“Is it conceivable that four hijacked planes flew around so freely, penetrated US airspace and hit the towers of the World Trade Center and the Pentagon one by one, with an interval of 15 minutes and 30 minutes between the attacks. All this took place without the Americans targeting the planes and downing them, despite all their intelligence, satellites and radars?”

“Or was the whole thing planned [in advance] in order to justify the war on terror, the [first] episode of which [later] began in Iraq?” she added.

Additionally, she wrote that the U.S. government likely made up ISIS to “trick” the world validate the country’s foreign policy.

“Does it make sense that most Isis members are foreigners [i.e., Western nationals], unless ISIS is another story that was prepared in advance [by the West] to justify the devastation, partitioning and occupation [of countries] that is taking place and will continue to take place in the Middle East?” she wrote. “Those who are murdered and [then] accused of perpetrating terror attacks in the West – are they the real culprits?”

This isn’t the first time the activist has ruffled some feathers with her writing. In the past, she has shared her opinion on burkini bans, French military involvement in Libya, and the ethics of sacrificing animals, such as chickens, ducks, and geese.

Regarding the U.S. government’s role in orchestrating 9/11, she wrote:

“[Perhaps Western] intelligence elements are behind the attacks and the bombings, and later Muslim citizens are arrested and killed and simply accused of perpetrating [the attacks] in order to justify what is happening in the Arab countries in the name of the war on terror, and in order to justify the plan to persecute the Muslims in the U.S. and Europe and expel them? Have we really been deceived, and continue to be deceived, to such an extent?!”

Related Article: 9/11 – The Art Of Blaming Others – Isn’t 15 Years Of the Dick and Don Psyop Enough?

After watching this short video which exposes the many gaps in the U.S. government’s version of events for September 11, 2001, you might question the official story, as well.

What are your thoughts? Please comment below and share this news! 


This article (Egyptian Media: ISIS Is ‘Made Up’ And U.S. Created 9/11 To Justify War On Terror) is free and open source. You have permission to republish this article under a Creative Commons license with attribution to the author and TrueActivist.com

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US-Led Bombings in Syria Kill 77 Civilians, Including Many Children

The strikes appeared to have been a mistake, with the civilians taken for ISIS militants, a human rights monitoring group said on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

The strikes appeared to have been a mistake, with the civilians taken for ISIS militants, a human rights monitoring group said on Tuesday. (Photo: Reuters)

By Nika Knight | Common Dreams

Dozens of civilians, including children, were killed on Monday and Tuesday by U.S.-led airstrikes in Syria.

The strikes appeared to have been a mistake, with the civilians taken for Islamic State (IS or ISIS) militants, the U.K.-based human rights group the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights group told the AFP news agency.

Fifty-six civilians were killed on Tuesday by coalition forces, and 21 civilians were killed by the coalition on Monday. The 77 civilian deaths included at least 11 children.

The BBC reported Tuesday:

At least 56 civilians have died in US-led coalition air strikes near the Islamic State stronghold of Manbij in north Syria, opposition monitors say.

The Syrian Observatory for Human Rights said residents had been fleeing the village of Tokhar when they were hit.

An opposition activist network said 90 had died in Tokhar and nearby Hoshriya.

There was no immediate comment from the coalition, which has been providing air support for the Kurdish-led offensive to drive IS militants out of Manbij.

On Monday, France24 reported:

Air strikes by the U.S.-led coalition killed at least 21 civilians in and around a stronghold of the Islamic State group in northern Syria on Monday, a monitor said.

At least 15 civilians were killed in raids in a northern district of Manbij while six others were killed in a village near the city, according to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights.

The UN Commission on Human Rights warned Friday that 70,000 civilians were likely trapped in Manbij, where the international body believes the situation is “deteriorating dramatically as fighting continues between ISIL and the Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) which is being supported by airstrikes.”

Before the airstrike in Tokhar on Tuesday, Airwars, a website tracking U.S.-led coalition killings of civilians in Syria, said this is the “worst ever week” for deaths caused by the coalition in the two years since the conflict started.

The U.S. has in recent months been intensifying its airstrikes in Syria, as journalist and radio host Sonali Kolhatkar wrote in May.

The Syrian Network for Human Rights, an advocacy group based in the U.S. and the U.K, reported on social media that by Tuesday evening local time the civilian death toll from the day’s strikes had reportedly climbed to 65, although the rights group has yet to verify that number:

Airwars reported that nine families were among those killed by the U.S.-led coalition on Tuesday:

Middle East Eye reports that the coalition did not respond to requests for comment on the recent civilian deaths. The news organization added:

Raed Saleh, the leader of the Syrian Civil Defence Force which conducts humanitarian rescue missions in the rebel-held areas, told Middle East Eye in June that he had confronted the U.S.-led coalition about civilian deaths in September 2014.

“Mistakes are likely to happen,” Saleh said he was told at the time.

Airwars estimates that the total number of civilians killed in Syria by the U.S.-led coalition is 1,422, at minimum, to date.

Read more great articles at Common Dreams.




The Top Six Global Threats the Presidential Candidates Are Never Asked About

From 'the endless war' to securing a real 'energy security' policy, Bacevich says "today’s crop of presidential candidates either are unable to grasp, cannot articulate, or choose to ignore those matters that shouldrightfully fall under a commander-in-chief’s purview."

From ‘the endless war’ to securing a real ‘energy security’ policy, Bacevich says “today’s crop of presidential candidates either are unable to grasp, cannot articulate, or choose to ignore those matters that shouldrightfully fall under a commander-in-chief’s purview.”

By Andrew Bacevich | Common Dreams

To judge by the early returns, the presidential race of 2016 is shaping up as the most disheartening in recent memory. Other than as a form of low entertainment, the speeches, debates, campaign events, and slick TV ads already inundating the public sphere offer little of value. Rather than exhibiting the vitality of American democracy, they testify to its hollowness.

Present-day Iranian politics may actually possess considerably more substance than our own. There, the parties involved, whether favoring change or opposing it, understand that the issues at stake have momentous implications. Here, what passes for national politics is a form of exhibitionism about as genuine as pro wrestling.

A presidential election campaign ought to involve more than competing coalitions of interest groups or bevies of investment banks and billionaires vying to install their preferred candidate in the White House.  It should engage and educate citizens, illuminating issues and subjecting alternative solutions to careful scrutiny.

That this one won’t even come close we can ascribe as much to the media as to those running for office, something the recent set of “debates” and the accompanying commentary have made painfully clear.  With certain honorable exceptions such as NBC’s estimable Lester Holt, representatives of the press are less interested in fulfilling their civic duty than promoting themselves as active participants in the spectacle.  They bait, tease, and strut.  Then they subject the candidates’ statements and misstatements to minute deconstruction.  The effect is to inflate their own importance while trivializing the proceedings they are purportedly covering.

Above all in the realm of national security, election 2016 promises to be not just a missed opportunity but a complete bust.  Recent efforts to exercise what people in Washington like to call “global leadership” have met with many more failures and disappointments than clearcut successes.  So you might imagine that reviewing the scorecard would give the current raft of candidates, Republican and Democratic alike, plenty to talk about.

But if you thought that, you’d be mistaken.  Instead of considered discussion of first-order security concerns, the candidates have regularly opted for bluff and bluster, their chief aim being to remove all doubts regarding their hawkish bona fides.

In that regard, nothing tops rhetorically beating up on the so-called Islamic State.  So, for example, Hillary Clinton promises to “smash the would-be caliphate,” Jeb Bush to “defeatISIS for good,” Ted Cruz to “carpet bomb them into oblivion,” and Donald Trump to “bombthe shit out of them.”  For his part, having recently acquired a gun as the “last line of defense between ISIS and my family,” Marco Rubio insists that when he becomes president, “The most powerful intelligence agency in the world is going to tell us where [ISIS militants] are; the most powerful military in the world is going to destroy them; and if we capture any of them alive, they are getting a one-way ticket to Guantanamo Bay.”

These carefully scripted lines perform their intended twofold function.  First, they elicit applause and certify the candidate as plenty tough.  Second, they spare the candidate from having to address matters far more deserving of presidential attention than managing the fight against the Islamic State.

In the hierarchy of challenges facing the United States today, ISIS ranks about on a par with Sicily back in 1943.  While liberating that island was a necessary prelude to liberating Europe more generally, the German occupation of Sicily did not pose a direct threat to the Allied cause.  So with far weightier matters to attend to — handling Soviet dictator Joseph Stalin and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill, for example — President Franklin Roosevelt wisely left the problem of Sicily to subordinates.  FDR thereby demonstrated an aptitude for distinguishing between the genuinely essential and the merely important.

By comparison, today’s crop of presidential candidates either are unable to grasp, cannot articulate, or choose to ignore those matters that shouldrightfully fall under a commander-in-chief’s purview.  Instead, they compete with one another in vowing to liberate the twenty-first-century equivalent of Sicily, as if doing so demonstrates their qualifications for the office.

What sort of national security concerns shouldbe front and center in the current election cycle?  While conceding that a reasoned discussion of heavily politicized matters like climate change, immigration, or anything to do with Israel is probably impossible, other issues of demonstrable significance deserve attention.  What follows are six of them — by no means an exhaustive list — that I’ve framed as questions a debate moderator might ask of anyone seeking the presidency, along with brief commentaries explaining why neither the posing nor the answering of such questions is likely to happen anytime soon.

1. The War on Terror: Nearly 15 years after this “war” was launched by George W. Bush, why hasn’t “the most powerful military in the world,” “the finest fighting force in the history of the world” won it?  Why isn’t victory anywhere in sight?

As if by informal agreement, the candidates and the journalists covering the race have chosen to ignore the military enterprise inaugurated in 2001, initially called the Global War on Terrorism and continuing today without an agreed-upon name.  Since 9/11, the United States has invaded, occupied, bombed, raided, or otherwise established a military presence in numerous countries across much of the Islamic world.  How are we doing?

Given the resources expended and the lives lost or ruined, not particularly well it would seem.  Intending to promote stability, reduce the incidence of jihadism, and reverse the tide of anti-Americanism among many Muslims, that “war” has done just the opposite.  Advance the cause of democracy and human rights?  Make that zero-for-four.

Related Article: Why Do All of the Pentagon’s ‘Successes’ in Iraq Look More Like Failures?

Amazingly, this disappointing record has been almost entirely overlooked in the campaign.  The reasons why are not difficult to discern.  First and foremost, both parties share in the serial failures of U.S. policy in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, and elsewhere in the region.  Pinning the entire mess on George W. Bush is no more persuasive than pinning it all on Barack Obama.  An intellectually honest accounting would require explanations that look beyond reflexive partisanship.  Among the matters deserving critical scrutiny is Washington’s persistent bipartisan belief in military might as an all-purpose problem solver.  Not far behind should come questions about simple military competence that no American political figure of note or mainstream media outlet has the gumption to address.

The politically expedient position indulged by the media is to sidestep such concerns in favor of offering endless testimonials to the bravery and virtue of the troops, while calling for yet more of the same or even further escalation.  Making a show of supporting the troops takes precedence over serious consideration of what they are continually being asked to do.

2. Nuclear Weapons: Today, more than 70 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, what purpose do nukes serve?  How many nuclear weapons and delivery systems does the United States actually need?

In an initiative that has attracted remarkably little public attention, the Obama administration has announced plans to modernize and upgrade the U.S. nuclear arsenal.  Estimated costs of this program reach as high as $1 trillion over the next three decades.  Once finished — probably just in time for the 100th anniversary of Hiroshima — the United States will possess more flexible, precise, survivable, and therefore usable nuclear capabilities than anything hitherto imagined.  In effect, the country will have acquired a first-strike capability — even as U.S. officials continue to affirm their earnest hope of removing the scourge of nuclear weapons from the face of the Earth (other powers being the first to disarm, of course).

Whether, in the process, the United States will become more secure or whether there might be far wiser ways to spend that kind of money — shoring up cyber defenses, for example — would seem like questions those who could soon have their finger on the nuclear button might want to consider.

Yet we all know that isn’t going to happen.  Having departed from the sphere of politics or strategy, nuclear policy has long since moved into the realm of theology.  Much as the Christian faith derives from a belief in a Trinity consisting of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost, so nuclear theology has its own Triad, comprised of manned bombers, intercontinental ballistic missiles, and submarine-launched missiles.  To question the existence of such a holy threesome constitutes rank heresy.  It’s just not done — especially when there’s all that money about to be dropped into the collection plate.

3. Energy Security: Given the availability of abundant oil and natural gas reserves in the Western Hemisphere and the potential future abundance of alternative energy systems, why should the Persian Gulf continue to qualify as a vital U.S. national security interest?

Back in 1980, two factors prompted President Jimmy Carter to announce that the United States viewed the Persian Gulf as worth fighting for.  The first was a growing U.S. dependence on foreign oil and a belief that American consumers were guzzling gas at a rate that would rapidly deplete domestic reserves.  The second was a concern that, having just invaded Afghanistan, the Soviet Union might next have an appetite for going after those giant gas stations in the Gulf, Iran, or even Saudi Arabia.

Today we know that the Western Hemisphere contains more than ample supplies of oil and natural gas to sustain the American way of life (while also heating up the planet).  As for the Soviet Union, it no longer exists — a decade spent chewing on Afghanistan having produced a fatal case of indigestion.

No doubt ensuring U.S. energy security should remain a major priority.  Yet in that regard, protecting Canada, Mexico, and Venezuela is far more relevant to the nation’s well-being than protecting Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Iraq, while being far easier and cheaper to accomplish.  So who will be the first presidential candidate to call for abrogating the Carter Doctrine?  Show of hands, please?

4. Assassination: Now that the United States has normalized assassination as an instrument of policy, how well is it working?  What are its benefits and costs?

George W. Bush’s administration pioneered the practice of using missile-armed drones as a method of extrajudicial killing.  Barack Obama’s administration greatly expanded and routinized the practice.

The technique is clearly “effective” in the narrow sense of liquidating leaders and “lieutenants” of terror groups that policymakers want done away with.  What’s less clear is whether the benefits of state-sponsored assassination outweigh the costs, which are considerable.  The incidental killing of noncombatants provokes ire directed against the United States and provides terror groups with an excellent recruiting tool.  The removal of Mr. Bad Actor from the field adversely affects the organization he leads for no longer than it takes for a successor to emerge.  As often as not, the successor turns out to be nastier than Mr. Bad Actor himself.

Related Article: Why Did Ted Cruz’s Mass Murder Proposal Win Him Higher Poll Numbers?

It would be naïve to expect presidential candidates to interest themselves in the moral implications of assassination as now practiced on a regular basis from the White House.  Still, shouldn’t they at least wonder whether it actually works as advertised?  And as drone technology proliferates, shouldn’t they also contemplate the prospect of others — say, Russians, Chinese, and Iranians — following America’s lead and turning assassination into a global practice?

5. Europe: Seventy years after World War II and a quarter-century after the Cold War ended, why does European security remain an American responsibility?  Given that Europeans are rich enough to defend themselves, why shouldn’t they?

Americans love Europe: old castles, excellent cuisine, and cultural attractions galore.  Once upon a time, the parts of Europe that Americans love best needed protection.  Devastated by World War II, Western Europe faced in the Soviet Union a threat that it could not handle alone.  In a singular act of generosity laced with self-interest, Washington came to the rescue.  By forming NATO, the United States committed itself to defend its impoverished and vulnerable European allies.  Over time this commitment enabled France, Great Britain, West Germany, and other nearby countries to recover from the global war and become strong, prosperous, and democratic countries.

Today Europe is “whole and free,” incorporating not only most of the former Soviet empire, but even parts of the old Soviet Union itself.  In place of the former Soviet threat, there is Vladimir Putin, a bully governing a rickety energy state that, media hype notwithstanding, poses no more than a modest danger to Europe itself.  Collectively, the European Union’s economy, at $18 trillion, equals that of the United States and exceeds Russia’s, even in sunnier times, by a factor of nine.  Its total population, easily outnumbering our own, is more than triple Russia’s.  What these numbers tell us is that Europe is entirely capable of funding and organizing its own defense if it chooses to do so.

It chooses otherwise, in effect opting for something approximating disarmament.  As a percentage of the gross domestic product, European nations spend a fraction of what the United States does on defense.  When it comes to armaments, they prefer to be free riders and Washington indulges that choice.  So even today, seven decades after World War II ended, U.S. forces continue to garrison Europe and America’s obligation to defend 26 countries on the far side of the Atlantic remains intact.

The persistence of this anomalous situation deserves election-year attention for one very important reason.  It gets to the question of whether the United States can ever declare mission accomplished.  Since the end of World War II, Washington has extended its security umbrella to cover not only Europe, but also virtually all of Latin America and large parts of East Asia.  More recently, the Middle East, Central Asia, and now Africa have come in for increased attention.  Today, U.S. forces alone maintain an active presence in 147countries.

Do our troops ever really get to “come home”?  The question is more than theoretical in nature.  To answer it is to expose the real purpose of American globalism, which means, of course, that none of the candidates will touch it with a 10-foot pole.

6. Debt: Does the national debt constitute a threat to national security?  If so, what are some politically plausible ways of reining it in?

Together, the administrations of George W. Bush and Barack Obama can take credit for tripling the national debt since 2000.  Well before Election Day this coming November, the total debt, now exceeding the entire gross domestic product, will breach the $19 trillion mark.

In 2010, Admiral Mike Mullen, then chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, described that debt as “the most significant threat to our national security.”  Although in doing so he wandered a bit out of his lane, he performed a rare and useful service by drawing a link between long-term security and fiscal responsibility.  Ever so briefly, a senior military officer allowed consideration of the national interest to take precedence over the care and feeding of the military-industrial complex.  It didn’t last long.

Mullen’s comment garnered a bit of attention, but failed to spur any serious congressional action.  Again, we can see why, since Congress functions as an unindicted co-conspirator in the workings of that lucrative collaboration.  Returning to anything like a balanced budget would require legislators to make precisely the sorts of choices that they are especially loathe to make — cutting military programs that line the pockets of donors and provide jobs for constituents.  (Although the F-35 fighter may be one of the most bloated andexpensive weapons programs in history, even Democratic Socialist Senator Bernie Sanders has left no stone unturned in lobbying to get those planes stationed in his hometown of Burlington.)

Related Article: “The Big Short” and Bernie’s Plan to Bust Up Wall Street

Recently, the role of Congress in authorizing an increase in the debt ceiling has provided Republicans with an excuse for political posturing, laying responsibility for all that red ink entirely at the feet of President Obama — this despite the fact that he has reduced the annual deficit by two-thirds, from $1.3 trillion the year he took office to $439 billion last year.

This much is certain: regardless of who takes the prize in November, the United States will continue to accumulate debt at a non-trivial rate.  If a Democrat occupies the White House, Republicans will pretend to care.  If our next president is a Republican, they will keep mum.  In either case, the approach to national security that does so much to keep the books out of balance will remain intact.

Come to think of it, averting real change might just be the one point on which the candidates generally agree.