Posts filed under ‘Wars’
For every one of the 866,181 soldiers officially counted injured casualties in Iraq and Afghanistan, the government is expected to spend some $2 million in long-term medical cost.
The total of $1.7 trillion is based on a widely cited March 2013 paper by Linda Bilmes at Harvard’s Kennedy School. It includes $800 billion already spent on injured veterans along with the cost of long-term care for an additional 50,000 current casualties counted by the Pentagon.
Since 2001, the VA has spent $134.3 billion to care for veterans. VA spokesperson Genevieve Billia said the department does not produce cost estimates over decades, but that the VA “plans to spend $6.9 billion in 2013, $7.6 billion in 2014 and $8.0 billion in 2015.”
Such a waste no matter how you look at it. People’s lives are ruined and we are spending billions that could go for other things. What a tragedy not only for our injured soldiers but for our country.
Bravo to Stephen Hawking!
JERUSALEM — Stephen W. Hawking, the physicist and cosmologist, has pulled out of a high-profile conference to be held here in June in order to support an academic boycott of Israel, conference organizers and the university said on Wednesday.
The academic and cultural boycott, organized by international activists to protest Israel’s policies toward the Palestinians, is a heated and contentious issue; having Dr. Hawking join it is likely to help the anti-Israel campaigners significantly.
“Never has a scientist of this stature boycotted Israel,” said Yigal Palmor, the spokesman for Israel’s Foreign Ministry.
Organizers of the fifth annual Israeli Presidential Conference, held under the auspices of President Shimon Peres, said they had received a letter over the weekend from Dr. Hawking, a longtime Cambridge professor, announcing his decision.
Geezus. All I can say is (1) the dronemaker lobby is obviously spending a whole hell of a lot of money and time in Washington, and (2) the life of my neighbor’s 3-year-old grandson, Noah, is going to be indescribably different than mine was. Oh, and I’ve heard stories about how people in Afghanistan hear a near-constant buzz of U.S. drones overhead. Is that where we’re headed? You know, we sit outside on a summer’s evening and hear a never-ending whurr? And what happens when they crash into each other or into private planes or jets and the debris rains down?
Yeehah! Our tax dollars at work…against us.
You may have heard about the documentary film, Dirty Wars. It’s based on the book by the same title written by one of the U.S.’s bravest and most patriotic journalists, Jeremy Scahill.
It’s on my must-see list.
The trailer was released today. Here it is:
Attorneys for Mousa’ab Omar al Madhwani, a man who has been imprisoned at Gitmo for 11 years but never tried or convicted of a crime, have filed an “Emergency Motion” on their client’s behalf, asking President Obama for “Humanitarian and Life-Saving Relief,” because the conditions at Gitmo are so deplorable.
What a national embarrassment.
Read the motion here.
$2.2 trillion and who knows how many hundreds of thousands of deaths later, this is what happened in Iraq today:
BAGHDAD – Secretary of State John Kerry pressed Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri Maliki on Sunday to stop Iran from flying arms across Iraqi territory to the beleaguered Syrian regime, but found him unwilling to give ground.
Here’s a report by CNN’s Arwa Damon on what life is like in Iraq today, ten years after the U.S. invasion. Donald Rumsfeld should watch it, given his delusional tweet Tuesday about “liberating” Iraqis.
A certifiably insane Donald Rumsfeld sent this tweet out yesterday on the 10th anniversary of the beginning of the invasion of Iraq:
Ugh, just, I mean, unbelievable.
Ten years ago. From CNN:
Dixie Chicks Pulled From Air After Bashing Bush
DALLAS, Texas (Reuters) –There are a lot worse things in country music than your wife leaving you or your dog dying. There’s stations not playing your music because you done gone and said some things against the president.
Music superstars the Dixie Chicks are finding out that criticizing President Bush’s plans for war in Iraq can cost you air play, big time.
Country stations across the United States have pulled the Chicks from playlists following reports that lead singer Natalie Maines said in a concert in London earlier this week that she was “ashamed the president of the United States is from Texas.”
Love how CNN tossed its journalist cred and signaled it was on Bush’s side when it titled its article, “Dixie Chicks Pulled From Air After Bashing Bush.” Bashing Bush? Really?
That’s how insane we were. Bush & Co. said mushroom clouds were on the way and when the Dixie Chicks saw through that, as so many of us did, and said they were “ashamed,” CNN said they were “bashing” Bush when they should have been questioning him too.
Such bad memories.
I’ve read a couple blurbs today about how the American public “just doesn’t want to remember the Iraq war” and I’m kind of in that camp. It’s so upsetting. We went insane, lead by our still-crappy, sheep-like, stenographic, Washington-centric, corporate-owned media.
Sadly, all signs point to it being able to happen again.
I don’t know what to say on this, the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq. I was against the war before it began and I’ve been against it ever since. I thought we were being lied to all along and it turns out, that’s exactly what was happening.
So much misery.
In my opinion the invasion was one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever seen.
(It’s indicative of the fantasyland George Bush lived in when we’re reminded that Bush gave his “mission accomplished” speech six weeks — SIX WEEKS — after the March 19, 2003 invasion. (The war officially ended on December 15, 2011).)
When I hear John McCain urging an attack on Iran (or any other country, which he’s fond of doing), I wonder why anyone listens to him. He got Iraq so, so wrong. As with bankers, there are no consequences.
The Right War for the Right Reasons
The critics also have it wrong when they say that the strategy of the United States for the opening hours of the conflict — likely to involve more than 3,000 precision-guided bombs and missiles in the first two days — is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi people. It is intended to damage and demoralize the Iraqi military and to dissuade Iraqi leaders from using weapons of mass destruction against our forces or against neighboring countries, and from committing further atrocities against the Iraqi people.
The force our military uses will be less than proportional to the threat of injury we can expect to face should Saddam Hussein continue to build an arsenal of the world’s most destructive weapons.
sn’t it more likely that antipathy toward the United States in the Islamic world might diminish amid the demonstrations of jubilant Iraqis celebrating the end of a regime that has few equals in its ruthlessness?
William Rivers Pitt, a real journalist — we need a thousand more like him — on the run up to the Iraq war:
Over the last few years, MSNBC refashioned itself as the progressive news alternative to networks like Fox and CNN by giving Keith Olbermann an opportunity to do actual journalism on television for a few years, and by putting people like Rachel Maddow and Ed Schultz front and center. Even Chris Matthews, the human weathervane, appears to have gotten the memo. But I remember a phone call I got from an MSNBC producer in February of 2003. Hans Blix and his weapons inspectors had not been in Iraq for 100 hours when this woman called me on my cell, told me she’d read my book, and asked me to appear on the network. There was, however, one caveat: she told me I was expected to argue that Blix and the inspectors were doing a terrible job and should be ignored, which just happened to be the exact line being peddled at the time by the Bush administration. I told the producer that I did not agree, that the inspectors needed to be given time to do their jobs, and that undermining them might lead to a devastating war. The MSNBC producer chuffed a cigarette-roughened laugh into my phone and hung up on me.
That happened – I remember the details not only because of how gruesome the conversation was, but because when she hung up on me, I almost lost control of my car and nearly wound up in the Charles River – and the fact of it tells you everything you need to know about MSNBC and the rest of the alphabet-soup cohort that is America’s “mainstream” news media. I did not do what that MSNBC producer asked me to, but you can bet all the money you have that she found someone who would a few phone calls later. You might have even seen it on TV.
The war against Iraq, in the end, was nothing more or less than a massive money-laundering operation that took American taxpayer dollars, soaked them in blood, and redirected them to Certain Friends In High Places. It was, as I said years ago, a smash-and-grab robbery[*] writ large, aided and abetted by an American “news” media which had its own profit motive, and which made a nifty sum off the whole deal. Even better for them, today they get to enjoy the ratings and advertising dollars to come when they broadcast their somber “documentaries” about how terrible it all was, how many lies were told, how many mistakes were made, and all without ever looking inward at their own enormous complicity.
* Halliburton, KBR, United Defense, the Carlyle Group, independent military contractors like Blackwater and a crowd of American oil companies are still counting the riches they earned from their participation in the carnage.
I’m proud to say I was one of the millions of people around the world who demonstrated (more than once) against the war. It has turned out pretty much exactly as I feared.
This is terrifying because, don’t forget, while the U.S. might be the only entity to possess them for a little while, it won’t be long before they’re everywhere:
Like a Swarm of Lethal Bugs: The Most Terrifying Drone Video Yet
Science writer John Horgan’s feature on the many ways drones will be used in coming years is interesting throughout, and terrifying in the passage where he describes an effort to build micro-drones that are, as the U.S. Air Force describes them, “Unobtrusive, pervasive, and lethal.”
Air Force officials declined a request to observe flight tests at a “micro-aviary” they’ve built, he reported, but they did let him see a video dramatization “starring micro-UAVs that resemble winged, multi-legged bugs. The drones swarm through alleys, crawl across windowsills, and perch on power lines. One of them sneaks up on a scowling man holding a gun and shoots him in the head.”
Go to the link immediately above to have your mind blown. I predict we will rue the day these tiny “Micro Air Vehicles” were introduced to the world.
If I hear another D.C. insider freak out about defense cuts I’m going to scream. Do they mean to tell us not one penny can be cut from a defense budget that went from $287 billion in 2001 to $700 billion in 2010/11? Listening to them talk, any cut — ANY — will result in the whole country being a sitting duck to every kind of invasion or attack imaginable.
Give me a break.
Under President George W. Bush, the base military budget jumped from $287 billion in 2001 to $513 billion in 2009; under President Obama, it jumped again, to $530 billion in fiscal year 2012. The supplemental war spending added as much as $150 billion a year above that. All told, military spending was about $700 billion in 2010 and 2011 — roughly $250 billion more than we spent on Medicare.
And I’m going to scream too if I hear them talk about cutting Medicare (or Medicaid or Social Security) before they put this ridiculous defense budget on the chopping block ahead of any cuts to those programs.
And if they whine about losing jobs, give the people who will lose jobs a job in the solar industry. Let’s move away from a war economy once and for freaking all.
Ten years ago today I was part of the largest protest in human history when I marched against the war on Iraq:
On February 15, millions of people protested, in approximately 800 cities around the world. Listed by the 2004 Guinness Book of Records as the largest protest in human history, protests occurred among others in the United Kingdom, Italy, Spain, Germany, Switzerland, Republic of Ireland, the United States, Canada, Australia, South Africa, Syria, India, Russia, South Korea, Japan, and even McMurdo Station in Antarctica.
15 million people and George W. Bush blew them off, calling them a “focus group.”
The Most Expensive Weapon Ever Built
The F-35, designed as the U.S. military’s lethal hunter for 21st century skies, has become the hunted, a poster child for Pentagon profligacy in a new era of tightening budgets. Instead of the stars and stripes of the U.S. Air Force emblazoned on its fuselage, it might as well have a bull’s-eye. Its pilots’ helmets are plagued with problems, it hasn’t yet dropped or fired weapons, and the software it requires to go to war remains on the drawing board.
That’s why when Liberman landed his F-35 before an appreciative crowd, including home-state Senator John McCain, he didn’t demonstrate its most amazing capability: landing like a helicopter using its precision-cast titanium thrust-vectoring nozzle. That trick remains reserved for test pilots, not operational plane drivers like him.
The price tag, meanwhile, has nearly doubled since 2001, to $396 billion.
Meanwhile, look at spending for education, transportation, Veterans’ benefits or health compared to the military:
When is enough, enough?
So, people who sit at a video game-type console in Utah manning drones over Afghanistan will now get medals just like the folks who actually risk their lives? Humm.
They fight the war from computer consoles and video screens.
But the troops that launch the drone strikes and direct the cyberattacks that can kill or disable an enemy may never set foot in the combat zone. Now, defense officials say, their battlefield contributions may be recognized.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is expected to announce Wednesday that for the first time the Pentagon is creating a medal that can be awarded to troops who have a direct impact on combat operations, but do it from afar.
The Associated Press has learned that the new blue, red and white-ribboned Distinguished Warfare Medal will be awarded to individuals for ‘‘extraordinary achievement’’ related to a military operation that occurred after Sept. 11, 2001. But unlike other combat medals, it does not require the recipient risk his or her life to get it.
Esquire is out with an interview with “The Shooter,” i.e., the Navy SEAL Team 6 member who killed Osama Bin Laden. He’s preparing to leave the Navy but the U.S. government has essentially kicked him to the curb, leaving him almost destitute and scared for his life (and his wife and children’s). He might have to enter the Witness Protection Program and be disappeared forever.
It’s awful the way he’s being treated.
But the Shooter will discover soon enough that when he leaves after sixteen years in the Navy, his body filled with scar tissue, arthritis, tendonitis, eye damage, and blown disks, here is what he gets from his employer and a grateful nation:
Nothing. No pension, no health care, and no protection for himself or his family.
Since Abbottabad, he has trained his children to hide in their bathtub at the first sign of a problem as the safest, most fortified place in their house. His wife is familiar enough with the shotgun on their armoire to use it. She knows to sit on the bed, the weapon’s butt braced against the wall, and precisely what angle to shoot out through the bedroom door, if necessary. A knife is also on the dresser should she need a backup.
Then there is the “bolt” bag of clothes, food, and other provisions for the family meant to last them two weeks in hiding.
“Personally,” his wife told me recently, “I feel more threatened by a potential retaliatory terror attack on our community than I did eight years ago,” when her husband joined ST6.
When the White House identified SEAL Team 6 as those responsible, camera crews swarmed into their Virginia Beach neighborhood, taking shots of the SEALs’ homes.
After bin Laden’s face appeared on their TV in the days after the killing, the Shooter cautioned his older child not to mention the Al Qaeda leader’s name ever again “to anybody. It’s a bad name, a curse name.” His kid started referring to him instead as “Poopyface.” It’s a story he told affectionately on that April afternoon visit to my home.
Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Mitt Romney, John Bolton, Lindsay Graham and Erick Erickson Praise Obama’s Drone Plan/Kill list
They’re all warmongers so if they love it, I don’t!
To wild GOP crowd cheers, Newt Gingrich and Michele Bachman vehemently defend Obama’s assassination policy.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) will offer a resolution next week commending President Barack Obama’s use of drones and the killing of Anwar al-Awlaki.
We no longer have to transport ourselves to a magical alternate reality to ponder what a love child between Richard Nixon and Dick Cheney would look like. Given a Justice Department memo obtained by NBC News, we can conclude that child would look like none other than President Barack Obama.
“Just kill the terrorists before they kill us.” Land of the free and home of the brave? No. When I saw folks tearing up at the Super Bowl over those words I gagged.
We’re a scared bunch of sheeple. We stood by while almost 60,000 Americans were killed in Vietnam because our leaders told us the commies were coming to get us. Ten years ago yesterday, Colin Powell lied his face off in front of the United Nations Security Council and as a result, we invaded Iraq because they (I’m gagging again) supposedly had WMD and were ready to send a mushroom cloud over the U.S.
None of that was true.
Yet, again, we’re so scared of the lies we’ve told ourselves, all in the name of kill them before they kill us.
Defense spending — our tax dollars! — has doubled since 2001.
Ten years ago there was no such thing as the Department of Homeland Security but now we’re dumping untold billions dollars into that agency because it’s supposedly keeping us “safe.
And now we have drones — millions going to defense contractors for their new toys that we’re paying for — AGAIN, out of our tax dollars that — and President Obama’s kill list predicated on his supposed authority to kill Americans without their Constitutional right to be charged and tried by a jury of their piers.
They tell us these drone strikes are keeping us safe. But they aren’t: “Drone attacks are doing nothing but inciting more hatred” say Pakistani protesters. Google it yourself. There’s a whole bunch of info out there about how drone attacks are actually making us less after
So when will be again become the land of the free and the HOME OF THE BRAVE and when will we stop being scared little people who sacrifice their future for defense contractors and politicians who want to enrich them?
If Obama was sitting in front of me right now I’d ask him why the hell he’s doing this:
U.N. Committee Tells Obama to Stop Waiving Sanctions on Countries That Use Child Soldiers
The Obama administration has waived sanctions on countries that use child soldiers for three years in a row, and today a United Nations committee urged the U.S. president to take a tougher stance.
Last October, President Barack Obama issued a presidential memorandum waiving penalties under the Child Soldiers Protection Act of 2008 (CSPA) for Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen, along with a partial waiver for the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Those penalties were put in place by Congress to prevent U.S. arms sales to countries determined by the State Department to be the worst abusers of child soldiers in their militaries, but the Obama administration has waived almost all of them each year, arguing that continued arms sales to abuser countries are needed either to bolster those countries’ fragile security or to support cooperation with the U.S. military in areas such as counterterrorism.
Good on the U.N. but what’s Obama thinking? The cynic in me says he’s protecting the profits of U.S. arms manufacturers which if true, would make me sick.
It was ten years ago today when Colin Powell testified before the United Nations Security Council to appeal for their support for the invasion of Iraq. I remember it so well. I remember thinking the so-called “evidence” was pretty darn flimsy and that it was crazy to go to war based on what was presented.
But Powell insisted:
“Every statement I make today is backed up by sources,” solid sources. These are not assertions. What we are giving you are facts and conclusions based on solid intelligence. The source was an eyewitness.”
Now we know that “solid source” was a liar who took the entire Bush administration, almost every single member of congress, the vast majority of Americans and the member-countries of the “coalition of the willing” for a ride.
Has to be one of the greatest tragedies the world has ever experienced.
An incredible amount of money is going into drone technology (i.e., military industrial complex technology) around the world. Just imagine if those resources were going toward combating things like climate change, income inequality or wellness care:
It’s tiny, but it’s not a toy.
British troops in Afghanistan have been testing out tiny unmanned aerial vehicles — a.k.a. drones — that are small enough to fit in the palm of your hand. At four inches long and 16 grams, the Norweigian-made “Black Hornet Nanos” look just like the tiny play-helicopters you might see at the toy store, but they carry tiny cameras that capture both still images and video.
According to the BBC, about 160 of these little flyers are darting around Afghanistan on surveillance missions for soldiers.
“We used it to look for insurgent firing points and check out exposed areas of the ground before crossing, which is a real asset,” Sgt. Christopher Petherbridge said in an announcement Monday. “It is very easy to operate and offers amazing capability to the guys on the ground.”
The Hornets travel at a top speed of 22 mph and can remain in the air for about 30 minutes.
Ah, yeah. Who takes a vet with PTSD to a shooting range? Military guys steeped in the gun and killing culture I guess:
What? I thought Obama wanted to downsize our nuclear arsenal:
The initiative is a part of the Air Force’s attempt to refurbish the third leg of America’s nuclear tripod — also called the Triad.
So the Air Force resolved that 2013 would be filled with renewed interest in bombs housed in “200,000 lb blast resistant vehicles” and “rail cars,” reports NextGov. The enhanced mobility would further harden the defense of ground-side nuclear armaments in the event of a surprise attack — simply because the bombs could move out of the way of any incoming nukes.
Sodium dichromate is an orange-yellowish substance containing hexavalent chromium, an anti-corrosion chemical. To Lt. Col. James Gentry of the Indiana National Guard, who was stationed at the Qarmat Ali water treatment center in Iraq just after the 2003 U.S. invasion, it was “just different-colored sand.” In their first few months at the base, soldiers were told by KBR contractors running the facility the substance was no worse than a mild irritant.
Gentry was one of approximately 830 service members, including active-duty soldiers and members of the National Guard and reserve units from Indiana, South Carolina, West Virginia and Oregon, assigned to secure the water treatment plant, according to the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Sodium dichromate is not a mild irritant. It is an extreme carcinogen. In November 2009, at age 52, Gentry died of cancer. The VA affirmed two months later that his death was service-related.
In November, a jury found KBR, the military’s largest contractor, guilty of negligence in the poisoning of a dozen soldiers, and ordered the company to pay $85 million in damages. Jurors found KBR knew both of the presence and toxicity of the chemical. Other lawsuits against KBR are pending.
KBR, however, says taxpayers should be on the hook for the verdict, as well as more than $15 million the company has spent in its failed legal defense, according to court documents and attorneys involved with the case.
When will the greed end?
As a point of reference, check out this article: KBR’s umbrella contract to provide everything from showers to rebuilding airfields tops $37 billion [that's with a b]. “It’s like a gigantic monopoly,” says one critic.
And now they want more. Now they want you and me to bail them out for their misconduct and negligence.
But when defense contractors own Washington, this is what we get. I.e., Hagel might just be too much of an independent guy to please the contractors who like to know they own the Secretary of Defense.
Yeah, I know that’s a bit of a shocker of a headline but look at this:
W A R
Amid violence and chaos in Syria, four hundred US troops have been deployed to Turkey with Patriot missile batteries to bolster defenses along the border. NBC’s Annabel Roberts reports.
The way this gets out of control — and fast — is, we send troops to “defend” Turkey. One U.S. soldier gets killed and suddenly we need reinforcements because that soldier shouldn’t die in vain. And then another soldier dies and we need even more troops because now we’ve lost two people and we have to justify their deaths. Then we send helicopters and tanks and we set-up camps and voila, we’ve got 5,000, 10,000, 40,000 troops there.
Syria’s President Assad is a monster and what he’s doing to his people is horrific. I get that. My problem is that suddenly we’re sliding into something that might cost us millions if not billions of dollars while the discussion on the table at home is about austerity and cutting “entitlements,” more honestly known as earned benefits working Americans have paid into.
Let’s put sending troops to Turkey on the table too. Can we afford it? How are we going to pay for another potential war? Democrats don’t want to look like they’re “weak” on defense and Republicans would love it if we ran the budget up even more because then hey, their 30-year dream of slashing those “entitlements” in order to balance the budget might finally come true.
Let’s say no for a sec until we have a national discussion about how we’re going to pay for this. I mean, do We the People have a say in this since we’re the ones who’re going to pay for it?
We “care about our men and women in uniform.” Really? Then let’s do something about this. Now.
The Department of the Army also showed strains, with soldier suicides outnumbering combat-related deaths for the year.
Through November this year, potentially 303 active-duty, Reserve and National Guard soldiers took their own lives. In Afghanistan 212 soldiers were killed as of Dec. 7.
The trajectory for soldier suicides keeps getting worse.
With a month left in the year, the Army set a grim new record with 177 potential active-duty cases.
Last year, there were 165 confirmed suicides, which was also a record. Among Army Reserve and Guard soldiers potentially 126 took their own lives, up from 118 in all of 2011.
The numbers have increased despite a range of training and awareness programs instituted by the service in the last few years.