August 19, 2005

The Time Is Now

In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.

—President Dwight Eisenhower, upon leaving office; January 1961


Stick with me on this post - I think it will be worth it.

Brian Bogart is 50 years old and the University of Oregon’s first graduate student in Peace Studies. This by way of introduction:
I wrote pen-pal letters asking President Kennedy to take down the Berlin Wall, marched with Martin Luther King, worshipped John Lennon, worked for companies building Trident, MX, and Stinger missiles simultaneous to my involvement with Carl Sagan’s anti-Cold War Space Bridge project, and helped build the B-1 bomber and parts for the Aegis Weapons System (capable of directing 20 missiles at once) on the Ticonderoga-class battle cruiser—much of this while attempting to deconstruct the obvious conflict between what I wanted (peace) and what I needed (a paycheck).
And here with no further ado is one of the key sections of Bogart's new article at ICH, America Programmed for War: Cause and Solution:
A single policy decision made in secluded chambers of the White House shortly after World War II explains why our financial and intellectual creativity focuses on lethal technologies, why 51% of our taxes go to defense and less than 5% to education, why there are 6000 military bases in the United States and 1000 US bases overseas, why comprehensive agendas support warfighting and weak agendas address human services and the environment, and why our top industry since 1950 remains the manufacture and sale of weapons.
The "single policy decision" Bogart is talking about was made just after WWII, when President Truman signed a document called NSC-68, which recognised the Soviet Union as an "evil and imminent threat". Bogart argues that this policy transformed the USA from a people-based economy to a military-based one. He further claims that the Korean War was begun on false premises as a means of pushing this policy through Congress. Heavy stuff!
All US military actions from 1950 to 2005 flow from this decision, made without the consent of the American people. There is no fundamental difference between the Cold War and today’s so-called permanent war on terror; perfect fuel for our military-based economy. For 55 years, America has been waging a crime against humanity, a crime for profiteers. I call it the Long War because “permanent” is defeatist.
The author of the NSC-68 policy was Wall Street’s Paul Nitze. Then Secretary of State Dean Acheson was a key supporter. Both men have been cited as role models by Paul Wolfowitz:
“Paul Nitze has had a huge mark on my career over many, many years, starting with 1969, when I was still a very much wet-behind-the-ears graduate student who came to Washington to work with three great men: Paul Nitze, Dean Acheson, and Albert Wohlstetter.”
Bogart claims the US military-industrial complex has profited from more than 200 wars since NSC-68.
But those in power today have also retooled our corporate industry (through the weakening of safeguards), our national intelligence agencies (through top-down coercion, firings, and policy changes), and the public mindset (through consolidation of media) to optimize war profits and popularize the notion of the need for permanent war.

The war-driven economy is justified by a “necessary” war on terror. But which came first - America’s global military-economic outreach, or international terrorism? Despite protestations from the current administration, terrorism is and has been a blowback of our policy, and as Chomsky says, the way to stop terrorism is to stop participating in it.
Like Condi Rice, Paul Nitze had a ship named after him - nothing less than a destroyer, in fact. But it's interesting that he criticized the new "war on terror" before his death last year (Bogart argues his ideas were "co-opted" by Wolfowitz and the neocons).

I often wonder if those responsible for some of the atrocious decisions being made these days are totally aware of what they are doing, and the implications their decisions will have for generations to come. For example:
Foreign policy is what a few men make it, and that is terribly wrong. NSC-68 is where America, officially, took the wrong road. During its conception while developing the hydrogen bomb, Secretary of State Dean Acheson instructed subordinates to ignore any moral implications and focus on technological and budgetary challenges. This opened the door for a future of technical justifications by the Pentagon, and closed the door on all discussions of morality. The machine was born.
Bogart calls for an urgent transformation of US society, re-instating "We, The People" at the head of government - even if it means changing the US Constitution.

But his primary focus is the field in which he works, education. He says military funding is transforming the education curricculum, and he provides some hair-raising examples:
More than 300 universities are developing weapons for the Pentagon’s Future Combat Systems (FCS) program, many involving nanotechnology. MIT received an entire installation on campus, the Institute for Soldier Nanotechnologies, and USC boasts the Institute for Creative Technologies. Both are among the leaders in developing the FCS Objective Force Warrior.

DoD literature speaks glowingly of the program’s accomplishments: “Arnold Schwarzennegger as The Terminator has nothing over the Objective Force Warrior.” It promises to “develop a high-tech soldier with 20 times the capability of today’s warrior by about 2010,” by integrating 18 systems into human soldiers. These systems include: graphic displays equaling “two 17-inch computer monitors in front of the soldier’s eyes”; thermal sensors; day-night video cameras; chemical and biological warning sensors; auditory enhancement; stealth and self-healing-wound technology; super sneakers that allow soldiers to jump over walls and buildings (Nike incorporated nanotechnology into its shoes in 2001); and microclimate conditioning.

Most of these systems already exist...
Is this guy a Conspiracy Theory psycho (or psychic?) or is he someone we should be listening to very, very carefully indeed? How about this:
... click on http://www.bme.jhu.edu/labs/nthakor/hongbo/main.htm for a graphic study of “wetware”: in this case controlling rats via brain “hardpacks” (i.e. torture) at Johns Hopkins University, where Paul Wolfowitz is (or was) dean of the Paul Nitze School of Advanced International Studies.
Here's a pic.

In today's world, it's not hard to imagine such contraptions strapped to the head of Gitmo inmates, is it? Bogart seems to have genine respect for those working on such projects....
They, like us, are merely cogs in the machine.
However...
This is America, warrior nation. This is not a peace-loving country, and this is not an enlightened, promising, hopeful use of our schools.
If the information above hasn't scared you yet, this might. Bogart looks at the amount of money the Department of Defence is spending on secret projects:
In fiscal year 1999, the Department of Defense, the largest agency in the United States, reported unaccountable adjustments of $2.3 trillion to balance its books. In fiscal year 2000, it reported unaccountable adjustments of $1.1 trillion to balance its books. For fiscal year 2001, and since, DoD has (again conveniently) declined to report ( http://www.whereisthemoney.org ).

With the most secretive administration in history, under which millions of public documents have vanished or been reclassified, let’s be generous and say they misplace a mere $1 trillion a year. 3.4 plus 1 trillion times four—leaving out 2005—means 7.4 trillion-plus Pentagon dollars are up to no good somewhere.
Bogart says there are 310,000 companies around the world working for America’s war industry.
That’s what we’re up against.

Deceptions such as the Cold War, the war on drugs, and the war on terror do not make our communities and our lives any safer. Their aim is to facilitate war profiteering...

Under our corporate-owned federal government, America controls the world and its own people through fear. It is up to us to reject the power of fear and give birth to a superpower of public opinion.
Bogart quotes Derrick Jensen's book, Welcome to the Machine:
“What one generation perceives as repression, the next accepts as a necessary part of a complex daily life.”
When you think about that, there is a lot of truth in it. In maintaining this blog for - how long?? - I have undergone something of a personal re-education that often makes me wonder about some of the standard, unquestioned attitudes to government and the military that are widespread in our societies. For example, why exactly is it so damned import to "Support Our Troops" even when they are committing atrocities?
In our time-pressured lives we rarely grasp the big picture and tend to view things separately: DARPA is an agency, universities are where we send our kids, elections are how we (think we) choose our presidents, and wars simply exist. But those in power see a single advancing policy—a military policy to derive profits from fear—and they have set our course in Pentagon plans that will not change with administrations.

What is our plan as the people? We will find inspiration from our revolutionary past. There are no laws against carrying out a change of government. Quite the contrary:

We hold these truths to be self evident—that all are created equal, endowed with inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, that to secure these rights governments are instituted deriving their powers from the consent of the governed, that whenever government becomes destructive of these ends it is the right of the people to alter or abolish it, to throw off such government and provide new guards for their future security.
The one thing Bogart forgot to mention is widespread global poverty. While the USA is pouring untold trillions of dollars into such questionable weaponry, the poor, uneducated masses are becoming prime recruitment fodder for groups like Al Quaeda.

I guess the US military-industrial leaders might be rubbing their hands in glee at the prospect of endless war which this scenario entails, but there simply has to be a better way. And it is up to us - you and me, my friend - to not only find it, but to make it happen.

Now.

5 comments:

Bravo Romeo Delta said...

Uh, boss, I was going to start posting specific questionable items in this article (both the original and your commentary), but was totally overwhelmed by the scope of the task at hand.

How about, for starters, you just post something corroborating the claim of 6000 military bases or 310,000 defense contractors, or 300 universities building weapons systems?

Past that, a couple of relevant points - 7.4 Trillion dollars over four years is, essentially, the total of all government expenditures over the last four years - a stupidly ludicrous number. Past that, a defense budget in the neighborhood of $500 billion is not exactly the kind of budget that can hide a trillion per annum.

Furthermore, the assertion that 51% of tax dollars goes to defense is similarly silly. 51% of tax revenue can't cover the amount of money you assert is spent by the government on defense. Secondly, 51% is so far beyond sustainable that it doesn't even rate as something worth debunking.

Additionally, I must ask about the 'Long War' thesis - and how exactly the squares with a 40% drop (expressed as a portion of GNP) in defense spending over the last two decades, as well as the layoffs and base closure that we've been seeing for the last 15 years.

I'm not going to make an assertion about you or your views, but I would strongly suggest that the source material you quote is at such odds with reality that it can't even be charitably described as delusional.

Mack said...

BRD - and I suppose next you're going to question the claim that a 50 yr old could have been a correspondent of President Kennedy's and have marched with MLK?

Ha! He was 8 when he wrote Kennedy to ask him to take down the the Berlin Wall. I was two, but I vividly remember writing a letter asking JFK why he built it in the first place. I so wanted to fax it to the White House, so they'd get it right away, but I couldn't and I remember crying and crying in frustration, until my brother (who was to be born in 1966), cheered me up by reminding me that fax machines wouldn't be invented for years to come.

My brother also wrote a letter to JFK, calling him a p*ssy because he wasn't willing to take the Berlin wall down by any means necessary. Unfortunately, for no other reason except that my brother was born in 1966, JFK was evasive and refused to ever respond.

Brian marched with MLK when he was 13. That would have been in 1942, when Brian was -13 years old. I was -19 years old, but I still remember it fondly.

The second time Brian marched with MLK, Brian was 13. Unfortunately, I couldn't be there, I think I had the chicken pox, but I've heard that Brian was a force to be reckoned with, and made a real impression on Dr. King.

Would you like to hear about Brian's meeting with Ike?

insomni said...

You're such a sucker for conspiracy theories, aren't you? Well, I'm sure the cynical producers of conspiracy books and videos are grateful that there are so many self-hating, paranoid suckers out there.

Ditto to everything BRD said. There's so much BS in this post I needed chest waders to get through it. As BRD said, there's too much to go through it point-by-point, but I took special exception to this question:

"For example, why exactly is it so damned import to "Support Our Troops" even when they are committing atrocities?"

Do those "atrocities" come close in any way to this? (video) Yeah, it's very tough to watch Eugene Armstrong having his head slowly sawed off, his screams turning to sputters and gurgles as blood fills his throat. But please do watch the whole thing and then get back to me on those "atrocities" committed by US soldiers. Do you think the bastards who did this, among many other barbaric acts, were court-martialed for their deeds, as are members of the US military who cross the line in their treatment of prisoners?

gandhi said...

bravo romeo delta

(did your mother give you that name? cruel....)

If you followed that link to whereisthemoney.org you would have seen a few quotes:

From Department of Defense (DoD)...
"We reported that DoD processed $1.1 trillion in unsupported accounting entries to DoD Component financial data used to prepare departmental reports and DoD financial statements for FY 2000."
David K. Steensma
Acting Assistant Inspector General
for Auditing for the DoD
February 26, 2002


From Housing & Urban Development (HUD)...
"At the time we discontinued our audit work... An additional 242 adjustments totaling about $59.6 billion, were made to adjust fiscal year 1999 activity."
Susan Gaffney
HUD Inspector General
March 22, 2000


But listen...

Even if you want to disagree with Bogart's financial calculations, how can you argue with his basic premise: that the USA spends obscene amounts of money on supporting a military industrial complex, in whose best interests it is to wage endless war.

Over half the military spending in the world today comes from one solitary country: Bush's USA.

If you want to try justifying THAT, be my guest...

gandhi said...

insomni,

I am truly very sad about what happened to Eugene Armstrong, and all the other victims of terrorism.

I guess I could post a link to some story about one or more US detainees who have been tortured to death while in custody, I could post photos from Falluja, etc. But what's the point in such tit-for-tat debate?

Common ground: Terrorism is a serious problem which, I fully agree, needs to be dealt with.

But as someone once said, an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

Bush's policies are fueling terrorism, not stopping it.

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