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War Profiteering (19)
By John W. Whitehead
January 18, 2012
“Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes… known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.”—James Madison
America’s troops may be returning home from Iraq, but contrary to President Obama’s assertion that “the tide of war is receding,” we’re far from done paying the costs of war. In fact, at the same time that Obama is reducing the number of troops in Iraq, he’s replacing them with military contractors at far greater expense to the taxpayer and redeploying American troops to other parts of the globe, including Africa, Australia and Israel. In this way, the war on terror is privatized, the American economy is bled dry, and the military-security industrial complex makes a killing—literally and figuratively speaking.
The war effort in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan has already cost taxpayers more than $2 trillion and could go as high as $4.4 trillion before it’s all over. At least $31 billion (and as much as $60 billion or more) of that $2 trillion was lost to waste and fraud by military contractors, who do everything from janitorial and food service work to construction, security and intelligence—jobs that used to be handled by the military. That translates to a loss of $12 million a day since the U.S. first invaded Afghanistan. To put it another way, the government is spending more on war than all 50 states combined spend on health, education, welfare, and safety.
Foreign-domination of Iraq’s economy are the real chains of servitude.
By Tony Cartalucci
December 29, 2011
Even as US troops symbolically withdraw from Iraq, a superficial indicator that many may interpret as the return of Iraqi sovereignty, it is the flow of foreign-investment into the country that marks the true chains of foreign-rule being laid out. USA Today in an article titled, “Foreign investment begins to pour into Iraq,” describes the real take over, prepared for over the course of nearly a decade, and is now beginning.
Image: A nation can survive and resist an occupation of troops. It is much more difficult to resist an insidious occupation build on an endless, fraudulent torrent of capital and economic domination. Iraqi PM Nouri Al-Maliki “opens Iraq” for just such an occupation – one of Wall Street and London’s corporate-financier interests.
The US Chamber of Commerce, which represents the collective interests of the largest corporations both in the United States and around the world, has a “US-Iraq Business Initiative” dedicated to “building a better Iraq through private sector investment.” The Chamber of Commerce stated in a post titled, “Iraqi Prime Minister: Business Now at the Front,” that “Iraqi Prime Minister Nouri al-Maliki visited the Chamber today [December 13, 2011] to mark the transition from U.S. military engagement to economic engagement through commerce, trade, and investment.” A similar article can be read via “The Hill’s” “Iraq is open for Business.”
Meanwhile, rebels turn guns on each other turning Tripoli into a war zone, again
By Tony Cartalucci
November 2, 2011
Associated Press recently reported that Libya’s rebel militants have named a new “prime minister” this week. AP depicts the latest unelected Western proxy, Abdurrahim el-Keib, as a progressive academic who has spent decades in the United States teaching at Alabama University and leading the local Muslim community. Mentioned briefly as a “former employer,” however, is the Petroleum Institute, based in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and sponsored by British Petroleum (BP), Shell, France’s Total, the Japan Oil Development Company, and the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company. El-Keib is listed as a “Professor and Chairman” in his Petroleum Institute profile which also describes extensive research conducted by him sponsored by various US government agencies and departments over the years.
Photo: And so begins the farce that is Western “democracy.” One corporate-fascist puppet, Mustafa Abdul-Jalil, steps down, another, Abdurrahim el-Keib, takes his place. In reality, it is NATO-states and their corporate sponsors that now determine Libya’s fate.
“Up over my head, nothing but clouds of blood” — Bob Dylan, “Cold Irons Bound”
Here’s a story where it all comes together, where the guiding ethos of the age is exposed: torture turned to private profit, state terror as a business deal.
The Guardian reports on a remarkable case uncovered by the legal rights charity Reprieve: private contractors who flew American Terror War captives to torture hellholes around the world coming to blows in court over a grubby dispute over expenses. The case reveals the inner workings of the infamous “rendition” program, where contractors charged U.S. taxpayers for wine and chocolate as they carried kidnap victims to “black sites” and proxy torturers across America’s global gulag:
The scale of the CIA’s rendition programme has been laid bare in court documents that illustrate in minute detail how the US contracted out the secret transportation of suspects to a network of private American companies.
The manner in which American firms flew terrorism suspects to locations around the world, where they were often tortured, has emerged after one of the companies sued another in a dispute over fees. As the 10th anniversary of 9/11 approaches, the mass of invoices, receipts, contracts and email correspondence – submitted as evidence to a court in upstate New York – provides a unique glimpse into a world in which the “war on terror” became just another charter opportunity for American businesses.
By Pepe Escobar
Surge, bribe and run? Or surge, bribe and stay? How US military bases and the energy war play out in Afghanistan.
Among multiple layers of deception and newspeak, the official Washington spin on the strategic quagmire in Afghanistan simply does not hold.
No more than “50-75 ‘al-Qaeda types’ in Afghanistan”, according to the CIA, have been responsible for draining the US government by no less than US $10 billion a month, or $120 billion a year.
At the same time, outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert Gates has been adamant that withdrawing troops from Afghanistan is “premature”. The Pentagon wants the White House to “hold off on ending the Afghanistan troop surge until the fall of 2012.”
That of course shadows the fact that even if there were a full draw down, the final result would be the same number of US troops before the Obama administration-ordered AfPak surge.
And even if there is some sort of draw down, it will mostly impact troops in supporting roles – which can be easily replaced by “private contractors” (euphemism for mercenaries). There are already over 100,000 “private contractors” in Afghanistan.
It’s raining trillions
The security company Blackwater Worldwide formed a network of 30 shell companies and subsidiaries to try to get millions of dollars in government business after the company faced strong criticism for reckless conduct in Iraq, The New York Times reported Friday. The newspaper said that it was unclear how many of the created companies got American contracts but that at least three of them obtained work with theÂ U.S. militaryand the CIA.
Sen. Carl Levin, chairman of theÂ Senate Armed Services Committee, has asked the Justice DepartmentÂ to see whether Blackwater misled the government when using the subsidiaries to gain government contracts, according to the Times.
It said Levin's committee found thatÂ North Carolina-based Blackwater, which now is known as Xe Services, went to great lengths to find ways to get lucrative government work despite criminal charges and criticism stemming from a 2007 incident in which Blackwater guards killed 17 Iraqi civilians. A committee chart outlines the web of Blackwater subsidiaries.
Messages left late Friday with spokespeople for the Michigan Democrat and Xe were not immediately answered.
Everyone knows that the too big to fails and their dishonest and footsy-playing regulators and politicians are largely responsible for trashing the economy.
But the military-industrial complex shares much of the blame.
Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that the Iraq war will cost $3-5 trillion dollars.
Sure, experts say that the Iraq war has increased the threat of terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this, this and this. And we launched the Iraq war based on the false linkage of Saddam and 9/11, and knowingly false claims that Saddam had WMDs. And top British officials, former CIA director George Tenet, former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill and many others say that the Iraq war was planned before 9/11. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
America is also spending a pretty penny in Afghanistan. The U.S. admits there are only a small handful of Al Qaeda in Afghanistan. As ABC notes:
U.S. intelligence officials have concluded there are only about 100 al Qaeda fighters in the entire country.Sure, the government apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this). And the Taliban offered to turn over Bin Laden (see this and this). And we could have easily killed Bin Laden in 2001 and again in 2007, but chose not to, even though that would have saved the U.S. hundreds of billions of dollars in costs in prosecuting the Afghanistan war. But this essay is about dollars and cents.
With 100,000 troops in Afghanistan at an estimated yearly cost of $30 billion, it means that for every one al Qaeda fighter, the U.S. will commit 1,000 troops and $300 million a year.
Increasing the Debt Burden of a Nation Sinking In Debt
All of the spending on unnecessary wars adds up.
The Obama administration plans to ask Congress for an additional $33 billion to fight unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq on top of a record request for $708 billion for the Defense Department next year, The Associated Press has learned.
The administration also plans to tell Congress next month that its central military objectives for the next four years will include winning the current wars while preventing new ones, and its core missions will include both counterinsurgency and counterterror operations.
The administration's Quadrennial Defense Review, the main articulation of U.S. military doctrine, is due in Congress on Feb. 1. Top military commanders were briefed on the document at the Pentagon on Monday and Tuesday. They also received a preview of the administration's budget plans through 2015.
From a billion dollars sought for embassies in Pakistan and Afghanistan to May's highest casualties for US forces in Iraq since September, the wars abroad are taking their toll on our nation. Bill Moyers sits down with award-winning investigative journalist Jeremy Scahill to examine the human and financial costs of America's wars.
By Richard Norton-Taylor
• US accounts for more than half total increase to $1.4tn
• China now second biggest spender in world league table
Worldwide spending on weapons has reached record levels amounting to well over $1tn last year, a leading research organisation reported today.
Global military expenditure has risen by 45% over the past decade to $1.46tn, according to the latest annual Yearbook on Armaments, Disarmament, and International Security published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri).
Though the US accounts for more than half the total increase, China and Russia nearly tripled their military expenditure over the decade, with China now second only to the US in the military expenditure league table.
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