The insuperable cost of Empire

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xraymike79's picture
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The insuperable cost of Empire



Taliban build fund-raising juggernaut

updated 10:32 p.m. MT, Sat., Sept . 26, 2009
KABUL, Afghanistan - The Taliban-led insurgency has built a fundraising juggernaut that generates cash from such an array of criminal rackets, donations, taxes, shakedowns and other schemes that U.S. and Afghan officials say it may be impossible to choke off the movement's money supply.
Obama administration officials say the single largest source of cash for the Taliban, once thought to rely mostly on Afghanistan's booming opium trade to finance its operations, is not drugs but foreign donations. The CIA recently estimated that Taliban leaders and their allies received $106 million in the past year from donors outside Afghanistan....


An interesting video that could have been from today but was shot a few years ago (it illustrates the adbsurdity of the war):



The flourishing gun market in Pakistan
Truly disturbing investigative video of gun markets in Pakistan.
“These people live in caves, have no tongues and make guns with their
bare hands. You can’t beat these people.”

Cloudfire's picture
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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

A classic line:  "Many sons and lots of guns"

idoctor's picture
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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

How stupid can man get? So much total mismanagement that it is literally killing us.

Not only do our weapons become far more destructive thru the ages but we expend so much more energy that we can ill afford to lose as we keep destroying only to have to keep rebuilding. What a total waste!

The problem that I see to break this insane cycle we have to get on the same page with each other & I just can’t ever see that happening.

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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

Idoctor said

How stupid can man get? So much total mismanagement that it is literally killing us.

Not only do our weapons become far more destructive thru the ages but we expend so much more energy that we can ill afford to lose as we keep destroying only to have to keep rebuilding. What a total waste!

The problem that I see to break this insane cycle we have to get on the same page with each other & I just can’t ever see that happening.

Someone over at TOD summed up the dire situation for our species very nicely:

Catton has taught us that any species that experiences frenzied growth on an accumulated supply of resources will overshoot the long term carrying capacity of it's environment and eventually experience collapse.

Tainter has shown us that the most directly quantifiable mechanism for that collapse in complex human societies is the diminishing marginal returns of attempts to mitigate the problems faced by that society. Ironically, problems that are made increasingly worse by those very attempts to solve them using a world view that is not appropriate to the actual situation.

Meadows, et al. have demonstrated that our current industrial society, if it remains committed to exploiting our abundant accumulation of non-renewable resources, will experience greatly diminished marginal returns on the amount of capital that must be expended to continue extracting those resources, as well as to mitigating the problems created by the frenzied growth enabled by those resources. Further, because the short term carrying capacity of our environment was so dramatically increased by the abundant accumulation of non-renewable resources the resulting overshoot will severely degrade the long term carrying capacity and the eventual collapse will reduce the population to a much lower level than might otherwise have been sustainable

Odum further elucidates that such cycles of frenzied growth on accumulated resources followed by collapse are found at all scales of complex systems, both living and non-living, and are repeated at regular intervals at various time scales in "pulses". In fact, complex systems emerge quite naturally around flows and accumulations of resources and self organize to fully maximize those resources, eventually dying-off when the resources are exhausted, only to begin anew after another accumulation or flow has built up. Such pulses, while they might be viewed as a disaster from a limited perspective, actually seem to increase the eMergy of the whole system as seen from a larger perspective and longer time scales.

Therefore, anyone who thinks our current drama of overshoot and collapse, with the global economy evaporating into a black hole, billions of human lives being rendered redundant, and entire ecosystems wiped off the face of the Earth, is some sort of freakish calamity that must be avoided AT ALL COSTS..., well, they are quite simply dead wrong.

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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

Before it was $775.000 for one soldier in Iraq per year:

- Cost for a single soldier to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan is about $775,000 per year

Then it was $1.000.000 for one soldier in Afghanistan per year.

- US spends $1 million per soldier in Afghanistan, government report (15 Oct 2009)

Now it is $1.333.333 for one soldier in Afghanistan per year.

Shall we call that inflation or what?

Chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Pentagon’s budget: The buildup will probably cost at least $40 billion

A US soldier inspects the site of a bomb attack in Afghanistan. Photograph: Dima Gavrysh/AP

Dec. 2 (Bloomberg) — Congress will probably have to approve a war-funding bill next year worth at least $40 billion to pay for President Barack Obama’s troop buildup in Afghanistan, a House Democrat said.

Representative John Murtha, chairman of the appropriations subcommittee with authority over the Pentagon’s budget, said today the buildup will probably cost at least $10 billion more than the administration’s $30 billion estimate.

Any funding measure probably won’t come up for a vote before February because lawmakers want time to “dissect” the administration’s plans, said Murtha, of Pennsylvania. Murtha said that while he’s skeptical of the success of the administration’s plan, lawmakers will likely approve the additional funding.

Continue reading »

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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

Give every Afgan male an AK-47 and ammo, and every family a grenade launcher and get out.  Problem solved much more cheaply.

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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

Today's NY Times has a [probably] CIA-planted article, about how along with the Afghan surge, Obama has ordered a step-up in drone attacks in Pakistan. The article lauds the efficiency with which a guy at a computer screen can vaporize eight 'militants' with 'warheads on foreheads,' while facing no danger other than the suburban traffic in Langley, Virginia on his way home to dinner. KEWL! says the Times.

Does it ever occur to our deranged authorities and their compliant rabble of presstitutes that weapons technology can't be contained; that it eventually falls into the hands of everyone? It's only a matter of time, I suspect, until there's a drone attack on an American city. And we'll never know whether it was done by 'terrorists' or by our own internal enemies, who might find it an effective way to divert the milling herd of consumer-depositors from revolting over their own economic ruin.

When the president can execute people at will with drones, his regime is functionally indistinguishable from Nazism. I am so out of here.

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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire

Washington’s Blog is one of my favorite sources for revealing facts and analysis in economics and policy. The recent post, Instead of fixing the US Economy or creating jobs for AMERICANS, Obama will spend the money in Afghanistan and Iraq, is so comprehensively brilliant in putting together the documentation that our wars are fraudulent and damaging to our economy, I’m reprinting it for you.

Needless to say, I recommend following Washington’s Blog for such insightful writing! Without further ado:
America is in the most severe unemployment crisis since - and perhaps including - the Great Depression.

And yet Obama, like Bush, has done virtually nothing to create more jobs. Instead, they both gave trillions to the biggest banks (who are not loaning it out to the little guy) and for waging wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Obama is apparently escalating - not ending - the wars. And its not cheap.

According to the White House, the cost of deploying new soldiers to Afghanistan could be $1 million per soldier. Nobel prize winning economist Joseph Stiglitz says that the Iraq war will cost $3-5 trillion dollars.

As I have previously pointed out, protracted war increases unemployment, shrinks the economy, and causes recession. See this, this and this.

But deficits don't matter, right? Wrong.
But We Had No Choice ... We Had to Fight Those Wars

But - you may say - we had no choice, we had to fight those wars because of 9/11.

Well, top British officials say that the U.S. discussed Iraq regime change long before 9/11. In fact, they say that regime change was advocated one month after Bush took office:

The chairman of the British Joint Intelligence Committee in 2001 told investigators Monday that elements of the Bush Administration were pushing for regime change in Iraq in early 2001, months before the 9/11 attacks and two years before President George W. Bush formally announced the Iraq war.
Sir Peter Ricketts, now-Secretary at the Foreign Office, said that US and British officials believed at the time that measures against Iraq were failing: "sanctions, an incentive to lift sanctions if Saddam allowed the United Weapons inspectors to return, and the 'no fly' zones over the north and south of the country."
Ricketts also said that US officials had raised the prospect of regime change in Iraq, asserting that the British weren't supportive of the idea at the time.
The head of the British Foreign Office's Middle East department, Sir William Patey, told the inquiry that his office was aware of regime change talk from some parts of the Bush Administration shortly after they took office in 2001.

"In February 2001 we were aware of these drum beats from Washington and internally we discussed it," Patey said. "Our policy was to stay away from that."

The Brits previously revealed that intelligence and purported facts of Iraq's weapons programs were "fixed around" the pre-set policy of invading Iraq.

It's not just the Brits.

Former CIA director George Tenet said that the White House wanted to invade Iraq long before 9/11, and inserted "crap" in its justifications for invading Iraq.

Former Treasury Secretary Paul O'Neill also says that Bush planned the Iraq war before 9/11.

Everyone knew the WMD claims were fake. For example, the number 2 Democrat in the Senate, who was on the Senate intelligence committee, admitted that the Senate intelligence committee knew before the war started that Bush's public statements about Iraqi WMDs were false. And if the committee knew, then the White House knew as well.

And Tony Blair - the British Prime Minister - knew that Saddam possessed no WMDs. If America's closest ally Britain knew, then the White House knew as well.

The CIA warned the White House that claims about Iraq's nuclear ambitions (using forged documents) were false, and yet the White House made those claims anyway.

Cheney was largely responsible for generating fake intelligence about Iraq in order to justify the war. For example:

And see this.

And you may have heard that the Energy Task Force chaired by Cheney prior to 9/11 collected maps of Iraqi oil fields and potential suitors for that oil. But you probably don't know that a secret document written by the National Security Council on February 3, 2001 directed the N.S.C. staff to cooperate fully with the Energy Task Force as it considered the “melding” of two seemingly unrelated areas of policy: “the review of operational policies towards rogue states,” such as Iraq, and “actions regarding the capture of new and existing oil and gas fields”.

In other words, it is difficult to brush off Cheney's Energy Task Force's examination of Iraqi oil maps as a harmless comparison of American energy policy with known oil reserves because the N.S.C. explicitly linked the Task Force, oil, and regime change. Indeed, a former senior director for Russian, Ukrainian, and Eurasian affairs at the N.S.C. said:

If this little group was discussing geostrategic plans for oil, it puts the issue of war in the context of the captains of the oil industry sitting down with Cheney and laying grand, global plans.
(and see this).

Cheney's role in getting the U.S. into unnecessary military confrontations is not new. According to former high-level intelligence officer Melvin Goodman, during the Ford administration, Cheney orchestrated phony intelligence for the Congress in order to get an endorsement for covert arms shipments to anti-government forces in Angola.

And in the 1970's, Cheney was instrumental in generating fake intelligence exaggerating the Soviet threat in order to undermine coexistence between the U.S. and Soviet Union, which conveniently justified huge amounts of cold war spending. See also this. This scheme foreshadowed Mr. Cheney's role in generating fake intelligence in Iraq by 30 years.

And Cheney was the guy who directed all counter-terrorism activities in 2001 and who directed the U.S. response on 9/11, accidentally allowing hijacked planes to fly all over the place, and perhaps - as implied by Secretary of Transportation Norm Minetta - to slam into the Pentagon (confirmed here). Heck of a job, Dick ...

The government also apparently planned the Afghanistan war before 9/11 (see this and this).

But you don't even have to even think about all of the complex facts discussed above. It's really simple: when asked to specify exactly why we are still fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama cannot really explain why we are still there.

(It's also simple because the top bipartisan experts say that the Iraq war has increasedthe threat of terrorism. See this, this, this, this, this and this).

The Wars Are Unnecessary and Are Killing the Economy

Bottom line: The wars are unnecessary, and they are draining resources which could be used to reduce unemployment and help the economy.
Note: This is not a Republican versus Democratic issue. For example, Bill Clinton signed the Iraq Liberation Act in 1998, calling for regime change in Iraq. And Obama is escalating wars started by the previous administration.
xraymike79's picture
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Re: The insuperable cost of Empire


Although viewed as a pacifist by many of his supporters, Obama held firm to his commitment to pursue and dismantle Al Queda and to capture or kill Osama bin Laden. Still, Republicans criticized Obama for setting a deadline to begin withdrawal and for not committing to "win" in Afghanistan, as if they were totally unaware of all the USA has lost as a result of these ill-conceived protracted hostilities. Persistent warfare and military escalation has brought down many governments throughout history, but American Presidents seem to overlook this possibility as a real consequence of their actions. President Obama may believe that he is standing by his campaign promise to dismantle Al Queda, but he appears to be capitulating to the right to avoid looking weak on defense or as being blamed for losing the war in Afghanistan.. Still, Obama has admitted that the USA cannot sustain these wars indefinitely. They are taking a heavy toll economically and psychologically on the nation.

Unfortunately, Afghanistan is not that different from Viet Nam and Iraq in terms of political stability. Afghanistan has been embroiled in civil war throughout most of the last century. When the Soviet Union invaded Afghanistan with 100,00 troops in 1979, the U.S. armed and trained the Mujahideen warlords to resist the incursion until the USSR withdrew a decade later. After the pullout, the Taliban emerged from these rebel factions, taking control of the country by capturing 95% of Afghanistan until the U.S. invaded in 2001. It was these same U.S. backed Taliban forces which gave safe haven to Al Queda and Osama bin Laden who planned and engineered the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon in 2001. The Taliban was a brutal ruler, restricting freedom and violating the human rights of the Afghan people, especially women and children. Today the mission in Afghanistan appears to be primarily focused upon preventing the Taliban from returning to power, which is a different objective than the original assault on Al Queda back in 2001.

Despite all of the dangers presented by these prolonged conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the most immediate threat to the U.S. Government comes not from their military enemies, but it arises instead from it's own failure to maintain stable fiscal policies and to control spending. The United States is currently facing economic problems which are not all that different from those which led to the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Another 2,500,000 homes are expected to lapse into default in 2010. The unemployment rate currently stands at 10 percent in the peak retail season. The actual unemployment rate may be as high as 17.5 percent when the underemployed are figured in. Personal bankruptcies filings are running at a record pace. Another round of FHA backed home loan defaults is looming in the coming years. Business bankruptcy filings and closures are at record levels and small businesses continue to experience extreme difficulty in obtaining loans. State and local governments have had to slash budgets and lay off employees due to shortfalls in tax revenues. The federal government was forced to bailout Wall Street, the banks, and the auto manufacturers. There are no bright spots in the economy, yet the U.S. Government continues to support two wars which were never paid for and which continue to fuel anger and resentment both inside and outside of the U.S..

The U.S. Government is treading deep water with a $12 trillion dollar debt and a national budget only half funded by tax revenues. Social Security and Medicare are in danger of running out of funds. Health care costs are driving up federal expenditures making them unsustainable budgetarily. Baby Boomers are now approaching retirement and many laid off older workers have been forced to file for disability benefits due to the lack of available job opportunities. The federal government is essentially surviving off of credit derived from selling treasury notes. If the market for these notes dries up, the Fed will be forced to buy them up by printing more money, causing further devaluation of the dollar. If that happens, the nation could be pushed into hyperinflation similar to what Germany experienced prior to World War II.

President Obama has declared that the economy has turned around, citing the stabilization of the banks and the rise in stock prices as benchmarks. But some legislators are calling for an audit of the Federal Reserve Bank in order to root out the forces which led to the economic collapse. Fed Chairman Bernanke has resisted such an investigation, claiming that it could destabilize the financial system. Such resistance only fuels suspicions and gives critics reason to question whether the banks are as solvent as claimed. Another banking failure would likely push the nation into a depression resulting in the collapse of financial markets.

Investors have already acted to protect themselves against an economic collapse by stashing cash at offshore banks, by buying gold and silver, by avoiding risky investments, and some have even opted to move out of the country to avoid the extreme consequences which economic failure might bring. No one can predict with any certainty what lies ahead for the nation or the federal government, but the picture today looks awfully bleak, despite what has been framed as a ray of sunshine by the administration. It appears that no one is in control of this runaway economic express because the walls of economic security continue to collapse all around us. And still, the wars wage on.

Will these wars that we "have to win" be the final legacy of the U.S. Government?

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