War Is the Disease of the Country

“War is the health of the state,” wrote Randolph Bourne, a maxim with which all anti-warriors are quite familiar. Conversely, war is the disease of the country.

Yesterday, President Obama gave a speech at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management in which he claimed that his administration deserves some credit for an improved economy. But he cited some recent government statistics of newly created jobs and declining unemployment in such an underwhelming, lackluster manner, you have to wonder if even he had a hard time believing what his speechwriters wrote for him. His own acknowledgement that millions of Americans would find his claims somewhat difficult to swallow seemed to give away the game. Perhaps he knows that the cat is out of the bag when it comes to the U.S. government’s self-serving methodology for tracking unemployment, or that in any case new jobs in and of themselves do not necessarily mean that real prosperity is being created.

Millions of ordinary people in this country are struggling with diminished wages in real terms as they see their grocery and utility bills steadily increase while their take-home pay stays the same. Their rent’s increasing as well, or if they own their home, they’re suddenly being hit to cover a wide gap in their mortgage escrow accounts as municipalities hike up their property taxes. And the Affordable Care Act isn’t delivering what its title promised as health care costs continue to rise at an alarming rate. It seems that the poorer everyone becomes, the richer Obama’s inflated economic claims get.

But there are at least some Americans who are better off these days–the stockholders of the military-industrial complex. “Syria-To-Ukraine Wars Send U.S. Defense Stocks to Records,” Bloomberg recently declared.

“As we ramp up our military muscle in the Mideast, there’s a sense that demand for military equipment and weaponry will likely rise,” said [BMO Private Bank chief investment officer Jack] Ablin, who oversees $66 billion including Northrop Grumman Corp. (NOC) and Boeing Co. (BA) shares. “To the extent we can shift away from relying on troops and rely more heavily on equipment — that could present an opportunity.”

Bombardments of Islamic State strongholds added to tensions this year that include U.S.-led sanctions on Russia for backing Ukrainian rebels and China’s feuds with neighbors over disputed South China Sea islands. The U.S. also is the biggest foreign military supplier to Israel, which waged a 50-day offensive against the Hamas Islamic movement in the Gaza Strip

Lockheed, the world’s biggest defense company, reached an all-time high of $180.74 on Sept. 19, when Northrop, Raytheon Co. (RTN) and General Dynamics Corp. (GD) also set records. That quartet and Chicago-based Boeing accounted for about $105 billion in federal contract orders last year, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Government…

The fiscal year 2015 U.S. military budget is a whopping $756 billion. Washington’s hawks screeched when some modest cuts were enacted a couple of years ago. It’s hardly outrageous to predict that military spending will once again spiral upwards as the Syrian-Iraq-ISIL conflict drags on and yet-undreamed-of foreign military interventions blossom well into the future.

Ordinary Americans, already squeezed by more than a dozen years of wars and recession, will be squeezed even more as ever scarcer resources in a continually diminishing economy will be allocated to the U.S. government’s insanely messianic global crusades. Disillusioned war veterans will return with unmarketable skills to a U.S. job market that will have little to offer anyway. But the shareholders of Boeing, General Dynamics, and Raytheon will be living pretty high on the hog, largely at the U.S. taxpayer’s expense.

Americans at home who have been cheerleading all the U.S. wars have always found it easy to do so because they don’t expect to bear the ultimate cost of war–their own lives. They’re pretty certain that retaliatory bombs and missiles won’t be falling on their homes, killing their loved ones, their children, their husbands and wives. And they’ve been correct, of course. Other than those who suffered injury and death on 9/11/01 or in last year’s Boston Marathon bombing, hundreds of millions of Americans have gone about their daily lives reasonably secure in the knowledge that they won’t have to fear the kinds of dangers people on the other side of the world–in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Yemen–have to accept as a fact of existence as U.S. drones and missiles fly freely about in their respective countries.

But even a country that wages constant war with the great benefit of not having to be a “theater of operations” will bear other kinds of costs, and to significant degrees: mass plunder by the ruling elites, economic hardship for the many, and the social upheaval and disintegration that results.

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Video: War is Some Bad News

In this 90 minute class offered through Liberty.me, Antiwar.com veterans Angela Keaton and Scott Horton cover the basics of the horrors of war and the abhorrent politicians who make it.

Angela Keaton is Operations Director for Antiwar.com. Follow her on Twitter (@antiwar2) and donate to Antiwar.com here: antiwar.com/donate/

Scott Horton hosts The Scott Horton Show on LRN.fm and Antiwar Radio on KPFK . See his archive of over 3,000 interviews at scotthorton.org.

Liberty.me offers live, interactive events, seminars and courses on entrepreneurship, economics, politics, investing, activism, and more. Get $5 off membership on Liberty.me with code ANTIWAR.

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Jeremiah Bannister Discusses Drones and U.S. Lies

“In this powerfully moving segment, Jeremiah Bannister reflects on the current U.S. drone attacks in Syria, recalling a 2008 episode of PaleoRadio wherein he detailed the U.S. denial of what became known as the Azizabad Massacre.”

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What Would a Constitutional Military Look Like?

By Zak Carter, reprinted with permission from benswann.com

A Constitutional Military would call for far more than just an end of our overseas military bases. A standing peacetime Army is unconstitutional, our Founding Fathers abhorred them and warned us not to keep them.

From Article 1, Section 8 of the Constitution -
“To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer term than two Years;
To provide and maintain a Navy”

The Founders made a clear distinction there between an Army to be called up when needed and a full time Navy.

“I am for relying for internal defense on our militia solely till actual invasion, and for such a naval force only as may protect our coasts and harbors from such depredations as we have experienced; and not for a standing army in time of peace which may overawe the public sentiment; nor for a navy which, by its own expenses and the eternal wars in which it will implicate us, will grind us with public burthens and sink us under them.” –Thomas Jefferson

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Cutting Defense: Are We STUCK?

By Joe Scarry, reprinted with permission from Scarry Thoughts

The Chicago Council on Global Affairs released a study this week based on survey data collected from over 2,000 respondents.

The survey has important data on Americans’ attitudes toward foreign affairs and military issues, and includes comparative data from previous surveys stretching back decades. You can access Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment for free on the Chicago Council on Global Affairs website.

I’ve noticed four findings that are of special interest to me, starting with the following observation about American attitudes toward reducing military spending.

The bar graph reproduced below shows respondents attitudes toward U.S. military budgets, based on surveys conducted between 1974 and 2014.

Source: Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment, Chicago Council on Global Affairs

Here’s what’s striking to me: between 1990 (the dissolution of the Soviet Union) and 2002 (immediately after 9/11), there was a clear trend toward stronger and stronger support for expanding, and decreasing support for cutting back, defense spending. (Notably, there is always a core of 40% of the public who say “keep it the same.”)

That trend was brought to a halt in 2004. By that time, the U.S. was engaged in two wars: in Iraq — ostensibly to stop the spread of WMD — and in Afghanistan — ostensibly to punish the perpetrators of 9/11 and protect the United States.

Where have we ended up?  Right now we’re “stuck” — the portion of the public that wants to cut military spending has hovered in the high 20%s since 2004; it just can’t seem to break the 30% barrier. (The percentage of people in favor of expansion is about the same.)

This leads me to two conclusions:

(1) We have had some success in the past decade in publicizing the idea of defense reductions.

(2) We need to do a lot more to move the needle — and reach a critical mass of supporters who can bring about real reductions.

It also stimulates me to ask: how much of the change in attitudes toward defense spending is stemming from the growth in Tea Party and/or libertarian sentiment, as opposed to traditional antiwar sentiment?

And . . . to the degree that we are stuck . . . is it because we have failed to join the energies of these several strands of sentiment into a single, clearly articulated, impactful movement for defense reduction?

Watch this space for comments on other findings, relating to fighting terrorism, U.S.-conducted assassinations, and protecting American jobs.

Check out Foreign Policy in the Age of Retrenchment for your self and see what conclusions YOU draw!

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There is No Hope

By Ryan Calhoun, reprinted with permission via Center for a Stateless Society

The war in Syria is here. It got held up in social media traffic. We thought the angry hashtags had permanently ceased death from above for the Syrian people. For a moment, the Internet rejoiced in its seemingly overwhelming power to harness the American people’s voice. We were sick of war, sick of decent people being turned into killing machines and amputees. There was no need to go into Syria, no impending doom. Apparently Americans had wised up in the past decade and weren’t going to accept another bloody quagmire.

Well, so much for that. The war in Iraq, supported by a majority of Americans at its dawn, was not enough to teach Americans. And why would we expect it to be? 50,000 American soldiers and countless millions slaughtered in Vietnam wasn’t enough. The near extermination of the Japanese, the destruction of most of Germany’s cities, the piles and piles of bodies and all the wasted potential of a so-called greatest generation wasn’t enough.

It will never be enough. There is no hope. There is no progress the American government or any state can make away from the inevitability of mass slaughter. The lines at military recruiting booths will continue. Your protesting them will not eliminate them.  Your pleas will not stop your friends from making the decision to kill for what they see as the greatest good. And when your friend comes back a husk of a human being, when the memories of Syrian, Iraqi, Somalian, Yemeni, Pakistani victims haunt him, when he reaches for his legs and finds only air, he will imagine it was all worth it and there will be nurses and psychologists to assure him it was.

The war culture is all-enveloping and there is no end. The American resolve against war does not exist beyond an Internet fad, entirely obliterated with effective propaganda and fear-mongering. We are a nation of dunces, suckers, cads, cowards and killers. The world will bear most of the consequences for our idiocy. The people of the Middle East are not so easily led on. They know that war is all there is. They live with drones dotting their skies and murderers posing as peacekeepers occupying their streets. They know there is no hope, no expectation that America will ever do the right thing. Their children will die. Their parents will die. Their homes will be turned to ash and they will only grieve for a moment, because to wish any of it hadn’t happened is to embrace cartoon fantasy.

There will always be a threat or the threat of a threat which will sell the American dupocracy into sycophantic worship of the capability of our military to make all right in the world. Americans crave protection, or the illusion of it. In truth there is no protection. 9/11 was not a fluke carried out by mad men. Nothing will save us from those who have every reason for blood thirst. They have nothing but their vengeance to guide them against the monstrous robotic nation which slaughters their countrymen and keeps them bound to a life of poverty and desperation. You will not swat them all away. We are not safe. In fact with the announcement of this newest edition of the War on Brown People, we are less safe than ever.  But who needs true protection when all are assured that the state will continue to cradle them and make it all better?

The Americans are coming, stupider and more sure of themselves than ever. Will we beat our former high score of a million deaths? There is always hope for war. War is easy and resistance is futile. None of it will end until borders end, and good luck with that. Good luck dismantling the military industrial complex. If it crumbles, it will merely be reassembled to guarantee another century of death for the weak. There are no consequences for these campaigns of murder, no voice to condemn the soldiers or protect them from the scavenger recruiters. We’ll be duped again, and again, and again. The next time a president declares his steadfastness against perpetual war, the next time you hear media outlets praising the anti-war resolve of the American people, do what I do and laugh. Don’t weep. Your tears accomplish nothing. Enjoy the ride, because there is no exit in sight.

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“No, Not the Song, the Movie About Eco-Terrorists” – A Review of Kelly Reichardt’s Night Moves

By Michael Troncale

As I sat down in the theater to watch Kelly Reichardt’s latest film Night Moves, I couldn’t help the unreasonable but nagging suspicion I was really about to see The Bob Seger Story. My only association with the phrase “night moves” was Seger’s annoying hit song I’d endured on classic rock radio stations when I was growing up in the mid-eighties, hoping to hear Iron Butterfly or Blue Oyster Cult. The day after I saw it, I spoke with a friend and mentioned I’d been to the movies. When I told him I’d seen something called Night Moves, his face morphed into a quizzical frown. This might have been a mix of never having heard of it, and also thinking it was odd for anyone to seek out and watch a bio pic of soft rock superstar Mr. Seger. I then had to overcome his doubts as I explained that a film with such an unfortunate title was worth seeing.

Reichardt’s latest is one of the best badly-named movies I can think of (William Friedkin’s Sorcerer would probably top that list.) Night Moves is the story of two naïve environmental activists named Josh and Dena (played by Jesse Eisenberg and Dakota Fanning) who turn into eco-terrorists by helping to blow up a hydro-electrical dam in a forest in the Pacific Northwest. As they prepare for the bombing, they take many precautions to ensure that no one is killed in the attack. Their actions are meant to be a statement against industrialization, only sabotage, not murder. But despite all of their efforts, a lone camper in the forest dies in the ensuing flood when the dam is destroyed. After that, Josh and Dena are guilt-stricken but attempt to move on. However, as Dena begins to crack up, Josh grows more and more concerned. But is he concerned about her, or about saving his own skin? In the end, it’s pretty apparent.

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