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Progressives Rebel as House Hands Trump War Spending Package
photo above: Rep. Ro Khanna and Sen. Bernie Sanders speak during a press conference following a vote in the U.S. House on ending U.S. military involvement in the war in Yemen, on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., on April 4, 2019. After rebuking President Trump on foreign policy, both lawmakers came out against a massive war spending package this week.Saul Loeb / AFP via Getty Images
WN: And this is the “Land of the Free and Defender of worldwide Human Rights?!” The sheer obscenity of such military spending is exponentially staggering. The country since inception, and astronomically beyond comparison with any other State in world history or today, in reality is the [most] “Criminal States of Earth”!
The House voted 377-48 to advance a $738 billion military spending authorization package on Wednesday despite a rebellion among progressive Democrats angered by the loss of provisions that would have curtailed endless wars and put President Trump’s most violent foreign policy ambitions in check.
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) is often described by the dominant media as a “must-pass” piece of legislation glowing with bipartisanship, but this year negotiations were different. Democrats clashed with Republicans over runaway Pentagon spending and provisions meant to prevent President Trump from leading the country into war, raising concerns that the legislation would not pass for the first time in nearly 60 years.
“Given the waste fraud and abuse of the Pentagon, the failure of the Pentagon to pass even a basic audit, and the unnecessary spending, I simply cannot support this bill,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, a California Democrat, on the House floor Wednesday.
“In 2018, a groundswell of Americans came out to the ballot box to elect a Congress that would stand up to the brutal agenda of President Trump and the Republicans,” [Bernie] Sanders and Rep. [Ro] Khanna said in a joint statement Tuesday. “The American people could not have imagined that this Congress would go on to craft legislation that adds tens of billions in new Pentagon spending — more than enough to fund tuition-free public college across America — while placing hardly any limits on this lawless administration.”
The military spending package faces a final vote in Senate, where the Afghanistan Papers recently released by The Washington Post loom large. Based on confidential interviews with more than 400 experts and insiders of the 18-year-long U.S. war in Afghanistan, the papers detail a secret history that reveals what so many of us suspected all along: The war is a failing, $1 trillion quagmire, and the Pentagon officials consistently worked to deliberately mislead the public about it. The U.S. entered the war to defeat al-Qaeda but has spent years fighting the Taliban, a completely different group.
“What were we actually doing in that country? We went in after 9/11 to defeat Al-Qaeda in Afghanistan, but the mission became blurred,” one unidentified U.S. official who served as a liaison to NATO is quoted as saying in a government interview uncovered by The Post. “What are our objectives? Nation-building? Women’s rights?… It was never fully clear in our own minds what the established goals and timelines were.”
From commanders in the field to top White House officials working under both President Bush and President Obama, serious doubts were raised about achieving any level of success in Afghanistan, where the U.S. spent billions of dollars every year fighting vague enemies and attempting to build a stable democracy in a war-torn country. Bush and Obama adopted divergent strategies as another war raged in Iraq, and both failed. Corruption siphoned off huge sums of aid from U.S. taxpayers. The lives of thousands of soldiers and tens of thousands of civilians have been lost.
Yet the war continues, with some 13,000 troops still stationed in Afghanistan. Only Congress has the constitutional power to declare war, and lawmakers are supposed to hold the president and Pentagon to account. They also hold the power of the purse, but year after year, Congress has approved massive military spending in Afghanistan and across the globe in the form of the NDAA and other legislation.
Rep. Adam Smith, the Democratic chair of the House Armed Services Committee, defended bipartisan compromises on the 2020 military spending authorization ahead of the vote on Wednesday. The initial House package passed without a single Republican vote and was promptly then gutted by the GOP-controlled Senate. Smith said Democrats were able to preserve some of their priorities and produce “the most progressive defense bill” in years.
“Throughout the negotiations I failed in one way: I was unable to turn President Trump, Leader McConnell, and Chairman Inhofe into Democrats and convince them to suddenly accept all of the provisions they despise,” Smith said in a statement. “Nonetheless, we have accomplished more with this bill than anyone ever thought possible given the realities of a Trump White House and a Republican-controlled Senate, and we should be proud of that.”
Leaders in both parties know that voters are fed up with endless war, but agree to spend billions on the military year after year, encouraging the Pentagon’s adventurism and worldwide presence. However, with Democrats debating bold proposals such as Medicare for All and free public college tuition, progressives in Congress are making it clear that the money would be better spent at home. Their rebellion in the House makes a point, but there were not nearly enough Democratic votes to challenge the status quo.
Please click on: House Hands Trump War Spending Package
- Please look at several articles as well on American/Western will to world domination by clicking on "Selected Articles: Western Aggression Backed by Western Media”. The series of articles is introduced thus:
The Western allies never run dry of resources to support their global war of terror and aggression, ostensibly an integral part of their foreign policy. They dynamically legislate laws lest the people awaken. They have the unbending support of the corporate media, which skilfully distorts reality. When will they ever back down from their destructive quest for colonies? Read our selection below.↩
- It continued:
‘For seven months, Tiger Force soldiers moved across the Central Highlands, killing scores of unarmed civilians – in some cases torturing and mutilating them - in a spate of violence never revealed to the American public,’ the newspaper said, at other points describing the killing of hundreds of unarmed civilians. ‘Women and children were intentionally blown up in underground bunkers,’ The Blade said. ‘Elderly farmers were shot as they toiled in the fields. Prisoners were tortured and executed - their ears and scalps severed for souvenirs. One soldier kicked out the teeth of executed civilians for their gold fillings.” The New York Times confirmed the claimed accuracy of the stories by contacting several of those interviewed. It reported: “But they wanted to make another point: that Tiger Force had not been a ‘rogue’ unit. Its members had done only what they were told, and their superiors knew what they were doing. “Burning huts and villages, shooting civilians and throwing grenades into protective shelters were common tactics for American ground forces throughout Vietnam, they said. That contention is backed up by accounts of journalists, historians and disillusioned troops… ‘Vietnam was an atrocity from the get-go,’ [one veteran] said in a recent telephone interview. ‘It was that kind of war, a frontless war of great frustration. There were hundreds of My Lais. You got your card punched by the numbers of bodies you counted.’ Current likely Democratic Presidential candidate John Kerry was also quoted giving evidence before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee in 1971. He reported that American soldiers in Vietnam had “raped, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war, and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country. Nicholas Turse [later author of: Kill Anything That Moves: The Real American War in Vietnam], a doctoral candidate at Columbia University, has been studying government archives and said they were filled with accounts of similar atrocities. ''I stumbled across the incidents The Blade reported,'' Mr. Turse said by telephone. ''I read through that case a year, year and a half ago, and it really didn't stand out. There was nothing that made it stand out from anything else. That's the scary thing. It was just one of hundreds.'' Yet there were few prosecutions.↩
- Historian John Coatsworth in The Cambridge History of the Cold War noted:
Between 1960, by which time the Soviets had dismantled Stalin's gulags, and the Soviet collapse in 1990, the numbers of political prisoners, torture victims, and executions of nonviolent political dissenters in Latin America vastly exceeded those of the Soviet Union and its East European satellites. In other words, from 1960 to 1990, the Soviet bloc as a whole was less repressive, measured in terms of human victims, than many individual Latin American countries [under direct sway of US Empire] ("The Cold War in Central America", pp. 216 - 221).What was true for Latin America was true for around the world: massive human rights abuses, assassinations, regime changes of democratically elected governments, etc., etc., etc. orchestrated by US Empire. Yet Americans invariably have wanted it both ways: to be seen as the exemplary "City on A Hill" that upholds universal human rights and democracy, while operating a brutal Empire directly contrary to all such elevated values, and a concomitant rapacious Empire market economy that takes no prisoners. This began of course even before the founding of the United States of America and continued apace, in its mass slaughter and dispossession of indigenous peoples, in its brutal system of slavery on which its obscene wealth in the textile industry in the first place was built. "The Land of the Free" conceit was a sustained con job on the part of America's leaders. It was also apotheosis of hypocrisy. American exceptionalism was/is true in one respect only: it was brutal like no other Empire in its eventual global reach.↩
-  The highlighted article about renowned whistle-blower Daniel Ellsberg points to again what is utterly chilling, horror-filled, exponentially beyond immoral, American (hence the world's) reality: "Daniel Ellsberg: U.S. Military Planned First Strike On Every City In Russia and China … and Gave Many Low-Level Field Commanders the Power to Push the Button". He has since written The Doomsday Machine: Confessions of a Nuclear War Planner. Of it we read:
Shortlisted for the 2018 Andrew Carnegie Medal for Excellence in Nonfiction Finalist for the California Book Award in Nonfiction The San Francisco Chronicle's Best of 2017 List In These Times “Best Books of 2017” Huffington Post's Ten Excellent December Books List LitHub's “Five Books Making News This Week” From the legendary whistle-blower who revealed the Pentagon Papers, an eyewitness exposé of the dangers of America's Top Secret, seventy-year-long nuclear policy that continues to this day. Here, for the first time, former high-level defense analyst Daniel Ellsberg reveals his shocking firsthand account of America's nuclear program in the 1960s. From the remotest air bases in the Pacific Command, where he discovered that the authority to initiate use of nuclear weapons was widely delegated, to the secret plans for general nuclear war under Eisenhower, which, if executed, would cause the near-extinction of humanity, Ellsberg shows that the legacy of this most dangerous arms buildup in the history of civilization--and its proposed renewal under the Trump administration--threatens our very survival. No other insider with high-level access has written so candidly of the nuclear strategy of the late Eisenhower and early Kennedy years, and nothing has fundamentally changed since that era.↩
- A classic instance of this aligning with "just war" is the United States' "war on drugs" as subset of "war on crime", while at the same time the CIA was a major worldwide drug dealer in league with other drug cartels -- all done to enhance American Empire during the Cold War -- and continues to the present. The four-part series mentioned below connects American Empire drug dealing to the current War on Terror, in particular in Afghanistan. This of course is colossal hypocrisy as well. Worse: the series posits American federal government administrations over many decades as the Ultimate Drug Cartel, with Blacks, Latinos, and generally the poor directly being knowingly poisoned en masse. Then they have been primary targets of the Drug Enforcement Agency, and thereby become victims of America's too often savage prison system that oppresses and brutalizes them all over again... See: "The War on Drugs Is a Failure, So [Attorney General] Jeff Sessions Is All for It". A citation from the article reads:
In June , the History Channel aired a four-part documentary series called America’s War on Drugs.” The series asserts that the war on drugs was actually a war of drugs—and that the CIA was essentially a partner in spreading drugs and drug use. The series follows how the U.S. intelligence agency, in an obsession with fighting communism, allied itself with U.S. organized crime and foreign drug traffickers and includes firsthand accounts from many involved. In an interview with Truthdig columnist Sonali Kolhatkar on her radio program “Rising Up With Sonali,” the series’ executive producer, Anthony Lappé, explains why the CIA got involved:
It’s actually a pretty mind-blowing story when you look at the extent to which the CIA was involved with drug traffickers and drug trafficking throughout the Cold War. … If you look at Cold War policy against the Soviet Union, we were locked in a global battle for supremacy, where we have lots of proxy wars going on. … We needed to team up with local allies, and often the local allies we were teaming up with were people who had access to guns, who had access to underground networks, to help us fight the perceived threat of communism. There are actually a lot of similarities between what drug traffickers do and what the CIA does.Lappé elaborates by saying the hypocrisy of the war on drugs has been evident from the start: Secret CIA experiments with LSD helped fuel the counterculture movement, leading to President Richard Nixon’s crackdown and declaration of the war on drugs. The series also explores the CIA’s role in the rise of crack cocaine in poor black communities and a secret island “cocaine base.” In addition the documentary makes the connection between the war on drugs, the war on terror and the transformation of Afghanistan into a narco state and contends that American intervention in Mexico helped give clout to Joaquín “El Chapo” Guzmán and the super cartels, making it easier to send drugs across American borders. Watch Kolhatkar’s full interview with Lappé by clicking here. Please also see the now classic: The Politics of Heroin: CIA Complicity in the Global Drug Trade, by noted American historian Alfred McCoy. Of it we read:
The first book to prove CIA and U.S. government complicity in global drug trafficking, The Politics of Heroin includes meticulous documentation of dishonesty and dirty dealings at the highest levels from the Cold War until today. Maintaining a global perspective, this groundbreaking study details the mechanics of drug trafficking in Asia, Europe, the Middle East, and South and Central America. New chapters detail U.S. involvement in the narcotics trade in Afghanistan and Pakistan before and after the fall of the Taliban, and how U.S. drug policy in Central America and Colombia has increased the global supply of illicit drugs.To be noted as well is Johann Hari's Chasing The Scream, which tells the tragic tale of America's long-standing offensive against drugs, and the way to end such a war worldwide -- that several nations are successfully embracing.↩