Middle East engulfed by war

Twelve years after Iraq invasion

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31 March 2015

With the launching of the US-backed military intervention in Yemen, virtually the entire Middle East is engulfed by military conflict, a state of affairs that has no precedent, with the possible exception of the two world wars fought in the 20th century.

Washington’s pursuit of policies from one conflict to the next that are seemingly at odds with one another has provoked mounting expressions of concern from major US think tanks and editorial boards—not to mention nominal allies in Europe—over “strategic incoherence.”

To describe as glaring the contradictions that riddle US foreign policy in the Middle East does not do them justice.

In Yemen, the Obama administration has announced its full backing, with the provision of logistical assistance, arms (including cluster bombs) and targeting intelligence, to an intervention spearheaded by Saudi Arabia, the other Sunni oil monarchies and the Egyptian regime of Gen. Abdel Fattah al-Sisi.

This coalition of dictatorships and crowned tyrants is waging a war against the most impoverished country in the Arab world. Their aim in bombing cities and killing civilians is to contain the influence of Iran, which has provided support to the Zaydi Shiite Houthi rebels who overthrew President Abd Rabbuh Mansour Hadi, a puppet installed by Washington and Riyadh.

In Iraq, US warplanes have been bombing Tikrit, the hometown of the ousted and murdered Iraqi president, Saddam Hussein, which is now controlled by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS). This operation is providing air support to a besieging force comprised overwhelmingly of Shiite militias operating with Iranian support and advisors.

While the Pentagon had conditioned the air strikes on the withdrawal of these militias, some of which had resisted the eight-year US occupation of Iraq, it is widely acknowledged that this was strictly for the sake of appearances. The Shiite forces remain the principal fighting force on the ground.

Meanwhile, across the border in Syria, Washington is pursuing a policy seemingly at odds with itself, on the one hand pledging to arm and train militias seeking to overthrow the government of President Bashar al-Assad, whose closest ally is Iran, and, on the other, carrying out air strikes against both ISIS and the Al Qaeda-affiliated al-Nusra Front, which together are the principal armed opponents of the Assad regime.

At the same time, negotiations led by US Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland are going down to the wire in a bid to secure an agreement with Iran that would curtail its nuclear program in exchange for the lifting (or partial lifting) of punishing economic sanctions imposed by Washington and its European allies. Failure to achieve such a deal could spell a turn toward more direct US military aggression against Iran. Success could well prove to be a tactical preparation for the same thing.

It is now 12 years since the Bush administration launched its war against Iraq. At the time, it claimed that its war of aggression was being waged to eliminate “weapons of mass destruction” and the threat posed by ties between the government of Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda. Both claims were lies. There were neither weapons nor any connections, outside of mutual hostility, between the secular regime in Baghdad and the Islamist group.

At the same time, Bush portrayed the US intervention as a liberating mission that would bring “democracy” to Iraq and beyond. “The establishment of a free Iraq in the heart of the Middle East will be a watershed event in the global democratic revolution,” he proclaimed in the early stages of the US military occupation.

That the US invasion was a “watershed event” no one can deny. It ushered in a period of wholesale carnage that claimed over 1 million Iraqi lives, destroyed the country’s economic and social infrastructure, and provoked bitter sectarian struggles between Shiites, Sunnis and Kurds as part of a deliberate policy of divide and rule.

For Iraq, the war was a catastrophe. For the US, it proved to be a debacle. Costing the lives of 4,500 American soldiers, injuring tens of thousands more, and consuming trillions of dollars in military expenditures, it succeeded only in creating the social and political conditions for ISIS (an offshoot of Al Qaeda) to overrun more than one third of the country—a country that had had no serious Islamist presence prior to the 2003 invasion.

The war in Iraq profoundly destabilized the entire region, a process that was accelerated by Washington’s launching of proxy wars in both Libya and Syria, backing Islamist militias linked to Al Qaeda in an effort to bring down the secular regimes of Gaddafi and Assad and replace them with American puppets. These efforts likewise turned into bloody debacles, costing hundreds of thousands of lives and ravaging both societies.

There is nothing left of the pretexts used by the Bush administration to justify war 12 years ago. The Obama administration cannot credibly claim that its aggressive operations in the Middle East—linked as they are to Islamists and other sectarian militias, as well as to autocrats and military dictators—are part of a global “war on terrorism” or a crusade for democracy.

The White House makes little or no attempt to explain these operations to the American people, much less win their support for them. In the case of Washington’s backing for the war in Yemen, the sum total of its explanation consists of a “readout” of a phone conversation between Obama and King Salman bin Abdulaziz al-Saud, in which the US president affirmed his “strong friendship” with the despotic monarchy, his “support” for its intervention, and his “commitment to Saudi Arabia’s security.”

Behind the reckless, ad hoc and seemingly disconnected policies pursued by US imperialism in the Middle East, there remains one constant: the aggressive pursuit of US hegemony over the Middle East and its vast energy reserves.

The strategy elaborated from the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991 onward, that Washington could freely employ its unrivaled military power to pursue its global interests, has only become more entrenched as American capitalism’s relative economic weight and influence have continued to decline.

The result of this policy can be seen in the involvement of virtually every country of the Middle East in one or another war and the palpable threat that these conflicts will coalesce into a region-wide conflagration that could, in turn, provoke World War III.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/31/pers-m31.html

The vendetta against Bowe Bergdahl

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30 March 2015

The decision by the Pentagon to bring charges of desertion and misbehavior before the enemy against former Afghanistan prisoner of war Bowe Bergdahl is vindictive and politically reactionary. Its purpose is to intimidate rank-and-file soldiers who, like Bergdahl, turn against the savagery of the wars American imperialism is waging in the Middle East and Central Asia, or who oppose future American wars around the world.

Bergdahl, a private first class near the beginning of a yearlong tour of duty in Afghanistan, walked away from his unit in Paktika province in June 2009. He was captured by the Taliban and held as a prisoner, often under barbaric conditions, and forced to participate in propaganda videos. The Obama administration negotiated his release last May as part of a prisoner exchange in which five long-held Taliban prisoners were allowed to leave Guantanamo Bay.

While the American media and the ultra-right have long peddled myths about Vietnam War-era POWs in an effort to retrospectively justify that imperialist bloodbath, these same elements immediately launched a campaign of vilification against the sole Afghan War POW upon his return home from captivity. Former members of Bergdahl’s unit played a prominent role in these efforts.

There were claims—all later proven false—that Bergdahl had left his unit in order to join the Taliban and fight on their side, and that as many as a dozen American soldiers had been killed in the course of fruitless efforts to find and rescue him in the months after his disappearance. At the height of this campaign, the Wall Street Journal published a commentary suggesting that Bergdahl should face the death penalty for desertion under fire in wartime.

The real reason for the ferocity of the attack on Bergdahl was his public disaffection from the war in Afghanistan and, in particular, his caustic criticism of the conduct of the American military in that devastated country. In 2012,Rolling Stone magazine had published excerpts of emails from Bergdahl to his parents in Idaho in which he declared, “I am ashamed to even be American. The horror of the self-righteous arrogance that they thrive in. It is all revolting.”

“I am sorry for everything here,” he continued. “These people need help, yet what they get is the most conceited country in the world telling them that they are nothing and that they are stupid, that they have no idea how to live.” Referring to a particularly gruesome incident he had witnessed, he added, “We don’t even care when we hear each other talk about running their children down in the dirt streets with our armored trucks.”

In response to the right-wing campaign against Bergdahl, the machinery of the Pentagon began to grind out the mockery that passes for “military justice.” Lt. Gen. Kenneth Dahl interviewed Bergdahl and other members of his unit and filed a report with the top brass. Last week, Gen. Mark Milley, head of the Army Forces Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, authorized charges against Bergdahl. A preliminary hearing is set for April 22 to determine whether to order a court-martial, accept a negotiated plea, or dismiss the charges.

Eugene Fidell, one of Bergdahl’s attorneys, said the Army report contains evidence that Bergdahl left his post not to desert, but to go to another military outpost to report on the conditions in his own unit. In a memorandum that he made public, Fidell wrote: “[T]he report basically concludes that Sgt. Bergdahl did not intend to remain away from the Army permanently, as classic ‘long’ desertion requires… It also concludes that his specific intent was to bring what he thought were disturbing circumstances to the attention of the nearest general officer.” This might have been a violation of military discipline, but it hardly warrants the charge of desertion.

Two military officials confirmed Fidell’s account of the secret report in interviews with CNN. “This was a kid who had leadership concerns on his mind,” one of the officials said. “He wasn’t fed up, he wasn’t planning to desert.”

The vendetta against Bergdahl reveals two interconnected political facts. First, the military brass is determined to make an example of the former POW because, in addition to popular opposition to the wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, there is increasing turmoil within the ranks of the military itself, as the Afghanistan War approaches its fifteenth year and the war in Iraq is resumed twelve years after the US invasion of that country.

Second, the Obama administration, which initially hailed Bergdahl’s safe return as a diplomatic triumph, to be celebrated with photo ops with the POW’s parents in the White House Rose Garden, takes its lead from the Pentagon chiefs. It is the military-intelligence apparatus, not its nominal civilian “commander,” that calls the shots in Washington.

Behind the vendetta against Bergdahl is the fear of a Vietnam War-like growth of demoralization and opposition within the ranks, under conditions of a continuous escalation of US military operations, not only in the Middle East, but directed increasingly against major powers such as Russia and China.

Patrick Martin

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/30/pers-m30.html

Behind the tensions between Obama and Netanyahu

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24 March 2015

One week after the Israeli election victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing Likud Party, tensions between Washington and Tel Aviv remain at a level unseen in decades.

President Barack Obama on Sunday gave a videotaped interview to theHuffington Post in which he recounted a mealymouthed rebuke that he said he had delivered to Netanyahu over his 11th-hour appeals to the most reactionary and racist sections of the Israeli electorate to win the seats needed to secure his reelection.

On the eve of the vote, the Israeli prime minister issued a clear statement that as long as he remained in office, there would be no Palestinian state. Netanyahu declared that giving up Israeli-occupied territories would amount to “simply yielding territory for radical Islamic terrorist attacks against Israel.” Asked whether that meant there would be no Palestinian state as long as he remained Israel’s premier, he replied, “Indeed.”

On election day itself, in an openly racist appeal for right-wing Zionists to vote for Likud, Netanyahu warned: “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves. Left-wing NGOs are bringing them in buses.”

In his interview, Obama said he had told the Israeli prime minister in a telephone conversation the day before: “…we continue to believe that a two-state solution is the only way for the long-term security of Israel, if it wants to stay both a Jewish state and democratic. And I indicated to him that given his statements prior to the election, it is going to be hard to find a path where people are seriously believing that negotiations are possible.”

The US president’s problem is that in his desperate bid for a fourth term in office, Netanyahu clearly proclaimed the real policies of his government and the entire ruling Zionist establishment in Israel, exposing the so-called “peace process” brokered by Washington as a cynical fraud.

For over two decades, since the signing of the Oslo Accords in 1993, Washington, Tel Aviv and the Palestinian Authority (PA) in the West Bank town of Ramallah have all promoted the notion that a “two-state solution” could be achieved at the negotiating table. During this period, the Israeli regime has steadily created new “facts on the ground,” doubling the number of Zionist settlers in the occupied West Bank to over 300,000, while leaving 2.7 million Palestinians trapped in bits of discontiguous territory divided one from the other by Israeli settlements, checkpoints, military outposts, walls and security roads.

Another 1.7 million are imprisoned within the Gaza Strip, blockaded by both Israel and Egypt and subjected to continuous military assaults such as the criminal Israeli siege of last summer that claimed the lives of over 2,300 men, women and children.

These predations have underscored the reactionary, antidemocratic character of any so-called Palestinian “state” that might emerge under the aegis of US imperialism, the Zionist ruling elite and the Palestinian bourgeoisie, should that ever come to pass. It would be an impoverished, discontinuous, demilitarized entity, essentially a prison for the Palestinian masses.

Under these conditions, the pretense that the so-called “peace talks” provided a way out for the Palestinian people was not merely a fiction, but an obscenity. Yet the pretense served a useful purpose for all those involved.

For Israel, it provided a mask for the predatory policies it pursued in effectively annexing ever-greater portions of the territories it seized in the 1967 war. For the Palestinian Authority, it served as a rationale for the Palestine Liberation Organization’s transformation into a client regime of US imperialism and an auxiliary police force for the Israeli occupation, securing in the bargain foreign aid and loans that flowed into the pockets of the corrupt leadership around PA President Mahmoud Abbas.

For Washington, the “peace process” allowed it to posture as a neutral party attempting to secure a just settlement for both Israel and the Palestinians, a lie seen as essential to its attempt to secure the collaboration of Arab states in US imperialism’s unending wars of aggression in the region.

Everyone—most of all the Palestinians—knew that the process was a fraud, but those directly involved were not supposed to say so publicly. In his explicit rejection of a Palestinian state, Netanyahu has cut across US interests in the region.

This comes on top of his March 3 anti-Iranian tirade to the US Congress, which was organized in league with the Republican Party leadership in an attempt to sabotage any negotiated agreement on Tehran’s nuclear program. The Israeli regime remains intent on using the spurious claims of a nuclear threat from Iran to draw the US into a war for regime change in order to further Israel’s own strategy of exercising unassailable dominance over the countries of the region.

This runs counter to the current policy pursued by the Obama administration, which aims at reaching at least a temporary accommodation with Tehran as Washington prepares for new military confrontations around the globe.

While Obama vowed that, his disagreements with Netanyahu notwithstanding, “our military and intelligence cooperation to keep the Israeli people safe continues,” the recent clashes underscore the crises gripping both US imperialism and its obstreperous Zionist client state. Both seek a way out of their respective crises by military means, but their immediate timetables and agendas are significantly at odds.

For both the Palestinian and Israeli working class, the reelection of Netanyahu on a platform of unconcealed Zionist aggression and reaction only underscores the absence of any way forward based on the program of nationalism.

For Jewish workers in Israel, Zionism is a trap, subordinating their interests to those of a narrow oligarchy of capitalist billionaires and multimillionaires, while the ruling establishment seeks to divert the immense tensions generated by poverty, rising prices, austerity cutbacks and record inequality into ever more dangerous military provocations against the Palestinian people, the surrounding Arab countries and beyond.

For Palestinians, the protracted fraud of the “peace process” has laid bare the dead end of Palestinian nationalism and all of its variants, from Fatah to Hamas, all of which articulate the interests not of the working masses, but of rival sections of the Arab bourgeoisie.

Nowhere is the necessity for the international unity of the working class posed more sharply than in the Middle East. There is no way out of the present impasse and the threat of ever bloodier catastrophes outside of Arab and Jewish workers uniting against imperialism and its Zionist and Arab bourgeois agents.

Bill Van Auken

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/24/pers-m24.html

Israeli settlers, soldiers attack Palestinians in East Jerusalem and Nablus

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By Patrick Martin
21 March 2015

Armed Israeli settlers staged attacks on Palestinians Wednesday in East Jerusalem and on Thursday in the West Bank city of Nablus. The actions signal a new offensive by settlers and other ultra-rightists encouraged by the election victory March 17 of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.

Little information has yet been made public about the Nablus incident. The Palestinian news agency WAFA reported that dozens of settlers stormed the monument of Sheikh Yousef Dweikat, a local Muslim religious figure, which the settlers claim is where the biblical patriarch Joseph is buried. The settlers came in buses escorted by Israeli troops, who fired tear gas at local Palestinians when they offered resistance to the settler rampage.

Far more has been published in both the Israeli and Palestinian media about the seizure of a residential building in the Wadi Hilweh neighborhood of Silwan in East Jerusalem, just south of the Old City, but the US and international media have been virtually silent on the events there.

Settlers affiliated with the right-wing Elad-City of David Foundation entered a small four-unit apartment building and seized three apartments belonging to an extended Palestinian family. The takeover came while several of the adult residents were at the local police station responding to a summons to report for questioning. WAFA reported that they were not actually questioned, but during the time they were in the station the settlers invaded the apartment building, removed furniture and belongings from three of the four units and changed the locks. The whole operation was evidently coordinated between the settlers’ organization and the police.

The Palestinian residents of the apartment building, known as the al-Malhi building for the extended family that lived in all four apartments, assembled inside and outside the fourth apartment unit, which remained under their control, and a running battle ensued with police and settlers.

Police opened fire with teargas grenades and rubber-coated metal bullets. They also seized several Palestinian youth and took them away, one as young as 11, but later released them. Eventually the Israeli attackers took over the entire building.

The al-Malhi family have been fighting the theft of their homes for nearly two decades, as settler groups have steadily invaded the Silwan neighborhood. The area lies just outside the southern wall of the Old City and only a few yards from the Al Aqsa mosque, one of the principal religious sites in Islam.

The “sale” of the apartment building was apparently engineered as a scam by the Israeli group, using a forged document deeding the property to Yad Yafah, a nonprofit organization associated with the settlers. Israeli courts have repeatedly held up this document as genuine.

A member of the family has reportedly been induced by the Zionists to act as their agent, and he came to the building Wednesday backed by police, security guards and armed settlers, to give a fig leaf of legitimacy to the mass eviction.

At the same time, other Israeli settlers seized control of two open pieces of land elsewhere in Wadi Hilweh: 500 square meters used by Palestinian children as a playground and 1,200 square meters belonging to the al-Abbasi family. The settlers placed mobile homes on both properties as the first stage in establishing another Jewish outpost in the overwhelmingly Palestinian neighborhood.

Separately, Israeli police tried unsuccessfully to enforce an eviction order, issued Monday against the Sab Laban family, residents of the Old City, who have been renting a property as “protected tenants” under a law that gives them certain rights. The Ateret Cohanim Settlement Organization, a well-funded Zionist group promoting Judaization of the entire Old City, claims the family home is vacant.

Eight members of the family have locked themselves inside the house, defying the court order. They have lived the house since 1953, when they first rented it from the Jordanian authorities, who then ruled East Jerusalem.

Israeli police arrested seven Palestinian teenagers Wednesday night in Jerusalem, as tensions mounted in the city’s Arab neighborhoods.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, Israeli troops raided the city of Jenin and its adjacent refugee camp in the northern West Bank, and homes in Ya‘bad and al-Zababda towns and in Sinjil, northeast of Ramallah. A total of three men were arrested in the raid.

Other repressive measures were taken in the northern Jordan Valley villages of Makhoul and al-Hadidiya, where Israeli military bulldozers demolished dozens of homes and livestock barns, and in Palestinian olive farms outside Nablus, where military bulldozers uprooted 300 olive trees and razed 5,000 meters of stone walls, clearing an area adjacent to an Israeli settlement. No warning was given to the residents or the farmers before their homes and property were destroyed.

The settlers and other Zionist fanatics are undoubtedly encouraged by the reelection victory of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is allied with the settler and ultra-right parties in forming a new government. But these attacks represent less an escalation than a continuation of the Zionist settler rampage against Palestinians in East Jerusalem and throughout the West Bank.

Another right-wing fanatic attacked Israeli author Yehonatan Gefen at his home in Beit Yitzhak, near Netanya on the central Mediterranean coast. The assailant knocked on the writer’s front door, and when he answered, punched him in the face and threw eggs, screaming that he was a “leftist traitor.” Gefen, a poet and songwriter, appeared at a Tel Aviv theater after Netanyahu’s victory and declared, “The nation has once again chosen someone whose rule is based on frightening the people. It chose a racist who on Election Day said that Arabs were descending on the voting booths. What would you say if in Germany there were people who say that Jews are streaming toward the voting booths?”

Joining the settlers and semi-fascist fanatics in celebration of the Netanyahu victory were several leaders of US-backed Syrian “rebel” groups, who sent congratulatory messages through an Israeli Druse official who has acted as their conduit to the Israeli government. The messages were reported by the right-wing Jerusalem Post, a fervent supporter of the prime minister, which evidently regarded them as a feather in Netanyahu’s cap.

One Syrian “rebel”, identified as Musa Al-Nabhan, wrote, “We hope that your government will continue to provide the necessary support to the Syrian people, which are fond of you and looking to build the best of relations on all levels.” A letter from the Revolutionary Assembly for the Future of Syria, addressed to Netanyahu, said, “We received with great hope and joy the news of your victory…and hope that you will continue … to support the Syrian revolution.”

The Post reported that similar messages were received from several high-ranking officers in the Free Syrian Army, a group which has more supporters in Washington DC—and apparently in Jerusalem—than in Syria.

 

http://thewe.cc/thewe_/images_5/-/global_elite_strategy/israel-settlers-attack-palestine-woman.jpe

Is a New Political System Emerging in This Country?

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This article originally appeared at TomDispatch.com.

The New American Order
1% Elections, The Privatization of the State, a Fourth Branch of Government, and the Demobilization of “We the People”

By Tom Engelhardt

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.

Let me make my case, however minimally, based on five areas in which at least the faint outlines of that new system seem to be emerging: political campaigns and elections; the privatization of Washington through the marriage of the corporation and the state; the de-legitimization of our traditional system of governance; the empowerment of the national security state as an untouchable fourth branch of government; and the demobilization of “we the people.”

Whatever this may add up to, it seems to be based, at least in part, on the increasing concentration of wealth and power in a new plutocratic class and in that ever-expanding national security state. Certainly, something out of the ordinary is underway, and yet its birth pangs, while widely reported, are generally categorized as aspects of an exceedingly familiar American system somewhat in disarray.

1. 1% Elections

Check out the news about the 2016 presidential election and you’ll quickly feel a sense of been-there, done-that. As a start, the two names most associated with it, Bush and Clinton, couldn’t be more familiar, highlighting as they do the curiously dynastic quality of recent presidential contests. (If a Bush or Clinton should win in 2016 and again in 2020, a member of one of those families will have controlled the presidency for 28 of the last 36years.)

Take, for instance, “Why 2016 Is Likely to Become a Close Race,” a recent piece Nate Cohn wrote for my hometown paper. A noted election statistician, Cohn points out that, despite Hillary Clinton’s historically staggering lead in Democratic primary polls (and lack of serious challengers), she could lose the general election. He bases this on what we know about her polling popularity from the Monica Lewinsky moment of the 1990s to the present. Cohn assures readers that Hillary will not “be a Democratic Eisenhower, a popular, senior statesperson who cruises to an easy victory.” It’s the sort of comparison that offers a certain implicit reassurance about the near future. (No, Virginia, we haven’t left the world of politics in which former general and president Dwight D. Eisenhower can still be a touchstone.)

Cohn may be right when it comes to Hillary’s electability, but this is not Dwight D. Eisenhower’s or even Al Gore’s America. If you want a measure of that, consider this year’s primaries. I mean, of course, the 2015 ones. Once upon a time, the campaign season started with candidates flocking to Iowa and New Hampshire early in the election year to establish their bona fides among party voters. These days, however, those are already late primaries.

The early primaries, the ones that count, take place among a small group of millionaires and billionaires, a new caste flush with cash who will personally, or through complex networks of funders, pour multi-millions of dollars into the campaigns of candidates of their choice. So the early primaries — this year mainly a Republican affair — are taking place in resort spots like Las Vegas, Rancho Mirage, California, and Sea Island, Georgia, as has beenwidely reported. These “contests” involve groveling politicians appearing at the beck and call of the rich and powerful, and so reflect our new 1% electoral system. (The main pro-Hillary super PAC, for instance, is aiming for a kitty of $500 million heading into 2016, while the Koch brothers network has already promised to drop almost $1 billion into the coming campaign season, doubling their efforts in the last presidential election year.)

Ever since the Supreme Court opened up the ultimate floodgates with its 2010 Citizens United decision, each subsequent election has seen record-breaking amounts of money donated and spent. The 2012 presidential campaign was the first $2 billion election; campaign 2016 is expected to hitthe $5 billion mark without breaking a sweat. By comparison, according to Burton Abrams and Russell Settle in their study, “The Effect of Broadcasting on Political Campaign Spending,” Republicans and Democrats spent just under $13 million combined in 1956 when Eisenhower won his second term.

In the meantime, it’s still true that the 2016 primaries will involve actual voters, as will the election that follows. The previous election season, the midterms of 2014, cost almost $4 billion, a record despite the number of small donors continuing to drop. It also represented the lowest midterm voter turnout since World War II. (See: demobilization of the public, below — and add in the demobilization of the Democrats as a real party, the breaking of organized labor, the fragmenting of the Republican Party, and the return of voter suppression laws visibly meant to limit the franchise.) It hardly matters just what the flood of new money does in such elections, when you can feel the weight of inequality bearing down on the whole process in a way that is pushing us somewhere new.

2. The Privatization of the State (or the U.S. as a Prospective Third-World Nation)

In the recent coverage of the Hillary Clinton email flap, you can find endless references to the Clintons of yore in wink-wink, you-know-how-they-are-style reporting; and yes, she did delete a lot of emails; and yes, it’s an election year coming and, as everyone points out, the Republicans are going to do their best to keep the email issue alive until hell freezes over, etc., etc. Again, the coverage, while eyeball gluing, is in a you’ve-seen-it-all-before, you’ll-see-it-all-again-mode.

However, you haven’t seen it all before. The most striking aspect of this little brouhaha lies in what’s most obvious but least highlighted. An American secretary of state chose to set up her own private, safeguarded email system for doing government work; that is, she chose to privatize her communications. If this were Cairo, it might not warrant a second thought. But it didn’t happen in some third-world state. It was the act of a key official of the planet’s reigning (or thrashing) superpower, which — even if it wasn’tthe first time such a thing had ever occurred — should be taken as a tiny symptom of something that couldn’t be larger or, in the long stretch of history, newer: the ongoing privatization of the American state, or at least the national security part of it.

Though the marriage of the state and the corporation has a pre-history, the full-scale arrival of the warrior corporation only occurred after 9/11. Someday, that will undoubtedly be seen as a seminal moment in the formation of whatever may be coming in this country. Only 13 years later, there is no part of the war state that has not experienced major forms of privatization. The U.S. military could no longer go to war without its crony corporations doing KP and guard duty, delivering the mail, building the bases, and being involved in just about all of its activities, including trainingthe militaries of foreign allies and even fighting. Such warrior corporations are now involved in every aspect of the national security state, includingtorture, drone strikes, and — to the tune of hundreds of thousands of contract employees like Edward Snowden — intelligence gathering and spying. You name it and, in these years, it’s been at least partly privatized.

All you have to do is read reporter James Risen’s recent book, Pay Any Price, on how the global war on terror was fought in Washington, and you know that privatization has brought something else with it: corruption, scams, and the gaming of the system for profits of a sort that might normally be associated with a typical third-world kleptocracy. And all of this, a new world being born, was reflected in a tiny way in Hillary Clinton’s very personal decision about her emails.

Though it’s a subject I know so much less about, this kind of privatization (and the corruption that goes with it) is undoubtedly underway in the non-war-making, non-security-projecting part of the American state as well.

3. The De-legitimization of Congress and the Presidency

On a third front, American “confidence” in the three classic check-and-balance branches of government, as measured by polling outfits, continues to fall. In 2014, Americans expressing a “great deal of confidence” in the Supreme Court hit a new low of 23%; in the presidency, it was 11%, and in Congress a bottom-scraping 5%. (The military, on the other hand, registers at 50%.) The figures for “hardly any confidence at all” are respectively 20%, 44%, and more than 50%. All are in or near record-breaking territory for the last four decades.

It seems fair to say that in recent years Congress has been engaged in a process of delegitimizing itself. Where that body once had the genuine power to declare war, for example, it is now “debating” in a desultory fashion an “authorization” for a war against the Islamic State in Syria, Iraq, and possibly elsewhere that has already been underway for eight months and whose course, it seems, will be essentially unaltered, whether Congress authorizes it or not.

What would President Harry Truman, who once famously ran a presidential campaign against a “do-nothing” Congress, have to say about a body that truly can do just about nothing? Or rather, to give the Republican war hawks in that new Congress their due, not quite nothing. They are proving capable of acting effectively to delegitimize the presidency as well. House Majority Leader John Boehner’s invitation to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to undercut the president’s Iranian nuclear negotiations and theletter signed by 47 Republican senators and directed to the Iranian ayatollahs are striking examples of this. They are visibly meant to tear down an “imperial presidency” that Republicans gloried in not so long ago.

The radical nature of that letter, not as an act of state but of its de-legitimization, was noted even in Iran, where fundamentalist Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei proclaimed it “a sign of a decline in political ethics and the destruction of the American establishment from within.” Here, however, the letter is either being covered as a singularly extreme one-off act (“treason!”) or, as Jon Stewart did on “The Daily Show,” as part of arepetitive tit-for-tat between Democrats and Republicans over who controls foreign policy. It is, in fact, neither. It represents part of a growing pattern in which Congress becomes an ever less effective body, except in its willingness to take on and potentially take out the presidency.

In the twenty-first century, all that “small government” Republicans and “big government” Democrats can agree on is offering essentially unconditional support to the military and the national security state. The Republican Party — its various factions increasingly at each other’s throats almost as often as at those of the Democrats — seems reasonably united solely on issues of war-making and security. As for the Democrats, an unpopular administration, facing constant attack by those who loath President Obama, has kept its footing in part by allying with and fusing with the national security state. A president who came into office rejecting torture and promoting sunshine and transparency in government has, in the course of six-plus years, come to identify himself almost totally with the U.S. military, the CIA, the NSA, and the like. While it has launched anunprecedented campaign against whistleblowers and leakers (as well as sunshine and transparency), the Obama White House has proved a powerful enabler of, but also remarkably dependent upon, that state-within-a-state, a strange fate for “the imperial presidency.”

4. The Rise of the National Security State as the Fourth Branch of Government

One “branch” of government is, however, visibly on the rise and rapidly gaining independence from just about any kind of oversight. Its ability to enact its wishes with almost no opposition in Washington is a striking feature of our moment. But while the symptoms of this process are regularly reported, the overall phenomenon — the creation of a de facto fourth branch of government — gets remarkably little attention. In the war on terror era, the national security state has come into its own. Its growth has been phenomenal. Though it’s seldom pointed out, it should be considered remarkable that in this period we gained a second full-scale “defense department,” the Department of Homeland Security, and that it and the Pentagon have become even more entrenched, each surrounded by its own growing “complex” of private corporations, lobbyists, and allied politicians. The militarization of the country has, in these years, proceeded apace.

Meanwhile, the duplication to be found in the U.S. Intelligence Community with its 17 major agencies and outfits is staggering. Its growing ability to surveil and spy on a global scale, including on its own citizens, puts the totalitarian states of the twentieth century to shame. That the various parts of the national security state can act in just about any fashion without fear of accountability in a court of law is by now too obvious to belabor. As wealth has traveled upwards in American society in ways not seen since the first Gilded Age, so taxpayer dollars have migrated into the national security state in an almost plutocratic fashion.

New reports regularly surface about the further activities of parts of that state. In recent weeks, for instance, we learned from Jeremy Scahill and Josh Begley of the Intercept that the CIA has spent years trying to break the encryption on Apple iPhones and iPads; it has, that is, been aggressively seeking to attack an all-American corporation (even if significant parts of its production process are actually in China). Meanwhile, Devlin Barrett of theWall Street Journal reported that the CIA, an agency barred from domestic spying operations of any sort, has been helping the U.S. Marshals Service (part of the Justice Department) create an airborne digital dragnet on American cell phones. Planes flying out of five U.S. cities carry a form of technology that “mimics a cellphone tower.” This technology, developed and tested in distant American war zones and now brought to “the homeland,” is just part of the ongoing militarization of the country from its borders to itspolice forces. And there’s hardly been a week since Edward Snowden first released crucial NSA documents in June 2013 when such “advances” haven’t been in the news.

News also regularly bubbles up about the further expansion, reorganization, and upgrading of parts of the intelligence world, the sorts of reports that have become the barely noticed background hum of our lives. Recently, for instance, Director John Brennan announced a major reorganization of the CIA meant to break down the classic separation between spies and analysts at the Agency, while creating a new Directorate of Digital Innovation responsible for, among other things, cyberwarfare and cyberespionage. At about the same time, according to the New York Times, the Center for Strategic Counterterrorism Communications, an obscure State Department agency, was given a new and expansive role in coordinating “all the existing attempts at countermessaging [against online propaganda by terror outfits like the Islamic State] by much larger federal departments, including the Pentagon, Homeland Security and intelligence agencies.”

This sort of thing is par for the course in an era in which the national security state has only grown stronger, endlessly elaborating, duplicating, and overlapping the various parts of its increasingly labyrinthine structure. And keep in mind that, in a structure that has fought hard to keep what it’s doing cloaked in secrecy, there is so much more that we don’t know. Still, we should know enough to realize that this ongoing process reflects something new in our American world (even if no one cares to notice).

5. The Demobilization of the American People

In The Age of Acquiescence, a new book about America’s two Gilded Ages, Steve Fraser asks why it was that, in the nineteenth century, another period of plutocratic excesses, concentration of wealth and inequality, buying of politicians, and attempts to demobilize the public, Americans took to the streets with such determination and in remarkable numbers over long periods of time to protest their treatment, and stayed there even when the brute power of the state was called out against them. In our own moment, Fraser wonders, why has the silence of the public in the face of similar developments been so striking?

After all, a grim new American system is arising before our eyes. Everything we once learned in the civics textbooks of our childhoods about how our government works now seems askew, while the growth of poverty, the flatlining of wages, the rise of the .01%, the collapse of labor, and the militarization of society are all evident.

The process of demobilizing the public certainly began with the military. It was initially a response to the disruptive and rebellious draftees of the Vietnam-era. In 1973, at the stroke of a presidential pen, the citizen’s army was declared no more, the raising of new recruits was turned over to advertising agencies (a preview of the privatization of the state to come), and the public was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs. Since 2001, that form of demobilization has been etched in stone andtransformed into a way of life in the name of the “safety” and “security” of the public.

Since then, “we the people” have made ourselves felt in only three disparate ways: from the left in the Occupy movement, which, with its slogans about the 1% and the 99%, put the issue of growing economic inequality on the map of American consciousness; from the right, in the Tea Party movement, a complex expression of discontent backed and at least partially funded by right-wing operatives and billionaires, and aimed at the de-legitimization of the “nanny state”; and the recent round of post-Ferguson protests spurred at least in part by the militarization of the police in black and brown communities around the country.

The Birth of a New System

Otherwise, a moment of increasing extremity has also been a moment of — to use Fraser’s word — “acquiescence.” Someday, we’ll assumedly understand far better how this all came to be. In the meantime, let me be as clear as I can be about something that seems murky indeed: this period doesn’t represent a version, no matter how perverse or extreme, of politics as usual; nor is the 2016 campaign an election as usual; nor are we experiencing Washington as usual. Put together our 1% elections, the privatization of our government, the de-legitimization of Congress and the presidency, as well as the empowerment of the national security state and the U.S. military, and add in the demobilization of the American public (in the name of protecting us from terrorism), and you have something like a new ballgame.

While significant planning has been involved in all of this, there may be no ruling pattern or design. Much of it may be happening in a purely seat-of-the-pants fashion. In response, there has been no urge to officially declare that something new is afoot, let alone convene a new constitutional convention. Still, don’t for a second think that the American political system isn’t being rewritten on the run by interested parties in Congress, our present crop of billionaires, corporate interests, lobbyists, the Pentagon, and the officials of the national security state.

Out of the chaos of this prolonged moment and inside the shell of the old system, a new culture, a new kind of politics, a new kind of governance is being born right before our eyes. Call it what you want. But call it something. Stop pretending it’s not happening.

Tom Engelhardt is a co-founder of the American Empire Project and the author ofThe United States of Fear as well as a history of the Cold War, The End of Victory Culture. He is a fellow of the Nation Institute and runsTomDispatch.com. His latest book is Shadow Government: Surveillance, Secret Wars, and a Global Security State in a Single-Superpower World(Haymarket Books).

[Note: My special thanks go to my friend John Cobb, who talked me through this one. Doing it would have been inconceivable without him. Tom]

Copyright 2015 Tom Engelhardt

https://medium.com/@TomDispatch/engelhardt-is-a-new-political-system-emerging-in-this-country-fbfa0acbe185

Israelis Vote to Abandon All Pretense of Seeking Peace

Openly Embracing Fascism

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by DAN GLAZEBROOK

Israelis went to the polls yesterday in an election which, defying all predictions, saw the ‘left-wing’ of Zionism – genocide with a human face – soundly beaten by its more honest ‘right wing’, whose commitment to the total eradication of the Palestinians as any kind of political entity is openly stated.

The defeat of the Zionist Union, ostensibly committed to negotiations and a two-state solution, should not, therefore, be read as the defeat of any genuine desire for peace, but as an increasing desire amongst Israelis to abandon the pretence that they seek anything other than permanent violent colonial domination of the indigenous Arabs.

The traditional means of justifying the ongoing ‘incremental genocide’ of the Palestinians, to use Ilan Pappe’s apt phrase, has been to sporadically initiate fraudulent ‘peace talks’, the inevitable collapse of which serves to justify the next round of bloodletting. These talks, such as those culminating in Barak’s so-called “generous offer” in 2000 – of which more below – are thus embarked on not to resolve the conflict but to justify its escalation, and in a way that simultaneously brings Israel’s international partners on board and salves the consciences of Israeli ‘liberals’. The rejection, then, of the Zionist Union and its commitment to ‘peace talks’ represents an end to any perceived necessity to do either.

The differences between the two parties was always, then, more a matter of presentation than of policies or goals. Indeed, the list of policies which were not up for negotiation was predictably long. On Iran, there is little difference between the two main parties, with Isaac Herzog, leader of the opposition Zionist Union declaring that “No Israeli leader will accept a nuclear Iran”- followed, naturally, by that classic war-cry, “All options are on the table”. On Gaza, both sides supported last summer’s aerial bombardment, with Herzog giving his full support to Netanyahu’s slaughter. Of the seven week ‘campaign’ – which killed or maimed over 12,000 men, women and children and left over 100,000 homeless – Herzog said that he backed “the decisions of the political and military leadership, which were reasonable and sensible throughout the operation”.

Al Monitor even commented  that “Given all the critical barbs that Netanyahu faced throughout the war not only from his coalition partners, but even from senior members of his own party, he could not have hoped for a more supportive and statesmanlike opposition leader”. And on Syria, both have consistently (and unsurprisingly) supported the armed insurgency against the Arab nationalist Ba’ath government: most recently both Herzog and his ZU partner Tzipi Livni declared their support for the January 18th airstrike on Syria which wiped out six leading Hezbollah commanders – that is to say, six of the most effective military leaders in Syria’s war against ISIS – but this comes on the back of years of support for the Syrian ‘rebels’ who, Herzog (correctly) noted in 2012, “want peace with Israel after Assad falls” and “wish to ‘be friends’ with the Jewish state”. Elsewhere Herzog is reported as having “built close ties with figures in the Syrian opposition” and called for a US war against Syria – a move which would very likely have led to a full ISIS takeover of the country.

Support for the crippling, if not total destruction, of Syria, Iran and Palestine – this is all a given in Israeli politics. On these issues, there is nothing to discuss. As Meron Rappoport has noted, “the Palestinian issue was almost totally absent from this campaign”. Veteran Israeli commentator Gideon Levy elaborated: “The horrible war that took place just a few months ago – which cost Israel 10 billion shekels and dozens of lives, as well as the lives of over 2,000 Palestinians in Gaza, including hundreds of women and children, and which did not achieve anything or bring about change – hasn’t been discussed at all”.

Yet, we are led to believe that there are differences – significant ones – even on these so-called ‘foreign policy’ issues (yes, for European inhabitants of historic Palestine, it seems, even Palestine itself is considered ‘foreign policy’). As Avi Shlaim has written, “the Israeli voter is invited to choose between two starkly contrasting visions. For the Zionist Union, ending the occupation is a long-term strategic goal. It advocates negotiations with the Palestinian Authority, leading to a two-state solution to the conflict… [whereas] Netanyahu is doing everything in his power to prevent the emergence of a viable Palestinian state. His long-standing and unswerving policy is to oppose Palestinian freedom, self-determination, and statehood. He is the unilateralist par excellence. Land confiscation, economic strangulation, and brutal repression are his chief policy instruments for consolidating Israel’s control over the West Bank.”

It seems, then, that there are fundamental differences on the conflict after all: Herzog’s desire for negotiations, leading to a Palestinian state, appears to contrast strongly with Netanyahu’s policy of sabotaging peace talks and making a Palestinian state impossible. Yet the reality is, these seemingly contradictory policies in fact work in tandem.

Is Herzog’s vision really that of the “Palestinian freedom, self-determination, and statehood” so vehemently opposed by Netanyahu? It is revealing that Ehud Barak gave wholehearted public backing to Herzog. Barak, lest we forget, was in 2000 the architect of the so-called “generous offer” of a ‘state’ divided into a series of discontiguous cantons, the abandonment of the right to return, and the forfeiting of much of East Jerusalem – in other words, a state pretty much shorn of all the meaningful attributes of statehood. That Barak now argues that Herzog “can be trusted to deal with the Palestinians”, suggests that he “can be trusted” to make just such an offer in any future negotiations – an offer that is virtually guaranteed to be rejected, but which allows the Israelis to embark on another round of war – and for US and Britain to support it – safe in the delusion that they ‘tried’ to resolve things, but those bloody-minded Palestinians rejected their magnanimity once again.

In other words, even this apparent difference on Palestinian statehood disguises another basic shared commitment to preventing a functioning, stable and genuinely independent Palestinian state. The difference is between offering the Palestinians a state bereft of the key attributes of statehood, or offering them nothing at all. But the relation between these apparently opposing policies has always been cyclical and symbiotic, with Israel alternating between punishing the Palestinians, and offering them a chance to sell out. Once the sell-out is rejected, the next round of bloodletting could then be undertaken with a ‘clean conscience’. The victory of Likud represents the desire for an end to this cycle of fraudulent negotiations followed by sporadic massacres, in favour of a policy which simply gets on with the massacring.

But before those of us in the west get on our high horse of condemnation, we should remember that, just as Israel and Palestine is a microcosm of relations between the west and the global South as a whole, so is Israeli politics the mirror image of politics in Britain, the US, France and all the other countries who ape their political systems. Just as Israel is divided between those who like their wars openly racist and those who prefer to delude themselves that they only come about after ‘everything else has been tried’, so the rest of the western world is divided between those who want to fight their wars openly using high tech weapons fired from battleships proudly waving their own flags, and those who would prefer to lurk in the background, sending over their ‘trainers’ and  ‘non-lethal’ weaponry whilst waging economic warfare against all those powers who refuse to submit to Western dictat. It is divided between the increasingly overt racism of UKIP, the Front National or the Tea Party, or the respectable racism of those whose immigration quotas, detention centres and police murders come couched in terms of regrettable necessities. What is not being contested in any of these elections is the commitment to a continuation of the war against the third world in some form – not in Israel, not in the US, and certainly not in Britain. And, just as in Israel, the trend is towards doing away with the pretense altogether – and openly embracing fascism.

Dan Glazebrook is an independent political analyst and author of Divide and Ruin: The West’s Imperial Strategy in an Age of Crisis.

This article was originally published on RT.com

 

http://www.counterpunch.org/2015/03/19/israelis-vote-to-abandon-all-pretense-of-seeking-peace/

Obama set to veto any cuts to Pentagon war machine

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By Bill Van Auken
19 March 2015

The Obama administration is prepared to veto any cuts to the 2016 Pentagon budget, Defense Secretary Ashton Carter told the House Armed Services Committee in testimony Wednesday.

Carter said that President Barack Obama would reject any proposal that includes the sequestration caps imposed by the 2011 Budget Control Act, which the Democratic president supported and signed into law following the staged crisis over the debt ceiling that year.

The statement came as both major parties sought ways to circumvent the mandated cuts in military spending.

Obama, significantly, has made no threat to veto budget proposals imposing spending caps on vital social services. Indeed, while traveling the country touting relatively minor programs that are likely to be trimmed or eliminated in budget negotiations with the Republican congressional leadership, his administration is proposing to implement some $400 billion in cuts to future Medicare and Medicaid spending, even as he seeks to slash corporate tax rates by up to 10 percent.

The president’s threat to veto sequestration for the military while remaining silent over social spending dovetails with Republican policy, which centers on raising arms spending while offsetting it with even deeper cuts to domestic programs.

While the White House is arguing for ditching sequestration when it comes to military spending, the House Republicans this week made an attempt to square the circle with their budget proposal. It leaves the sequestration caps in place but adds tens of billions of dollars to the so-called Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget, a kind of off-the-books slush fund that pays for US military interventions abroad.

The Obama administration has requested $561 billion for the Pentagon base budget, and OCO war funds of $51 billion. The House Republicans have proposed $523 billion—formally adhering to the sequestration spending caps—while pouring $94 billion into the OCO with the idea that the military can dip into it to meet other spending needs. The two combined sums are roughly equal.

The Senate budget committee, meanwhile, submitted its own proposal Wednesday explicitly rejecting the OCO gimmick proposed by fellow Republicans in the House. Likewise pretending to abide by the budget caps for the Pentagon, it introduced its own gimmick, creating a “deficit neutral reserve fund,” which has no appropriations but serves as a placeholder for additional military spending to be negotiated later this year.

Carter’s testimony Wednesday capped a series of appearances by both the uniformed chiefs and civilian secretaries of the armed services, all of whom issued the direst warnings of what would happen without substantial increases to Washington’s gargantuan military budget.

Air Force Secretary Deborah Lee James, for example, warned that sequestration “is going to place American lives at risk, both at home and abroad.”

“Missions will take us longer, it will cost us lives and create more injuries,” Army Chief of Staff General Raymond Odierno said.

General Martin Dempsey, chief of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, predicted that the US military’s “forward presence will be reduced by a third,” meaning “less influence” in the world.

In his own testimony, Secretary of Defense Carter stressed the need to fully fund the global reach of American militarism, while making it clear that the Pentagon is preparing for even bigger wars, specifically against China, Russia and Iran.

“Across the world,” Carter told the committee, it is only the US armed forces that “stand between disorder and order.” US troops, he said, “stand up to malicious and destabilizing actors”—i.e., anyone challenging US hegemony—”while standing behind those who believe in a more secure, just, and prosperous future”—i.e., US imperialism’s puppets and client regimes.

The Pentagon’s spending, he insisted, must be driven by the 2014Quadrennial Defense Review, a document that insisted on strengthening the US military’s “global war-fighting capability” and elevated China and Russia as the most likely targets of US military action.

The Pentagon chief said the proposed budget “puts renewed emphasis on preparing for future threats—especially threats that challenge our military’s power projection capabilities.” He indicated that the reduction of troop levels in Afghanistan and Iraq following a decade of wars and occupations provided an opening to prepare the US military for far greater wars.

“Being able to project power anywhere across the globe by rapidly surging aircraft, ships, troops and supplies lies at the core of our defense strategy,” he said. Such unfettered ability to attack and invade anywhere was key to protecting US interests as well as to assuring “freedom of navigation and overflight” and allowing “global commerce to flow freely.” These last supposed principles have repeatedly been invoked in Washington’s escalating confrontation with Beijing over the South China Sea.

Carter specifically pointed to Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, warning that they “have been pursuing long-term, comprehensive military modernization programs to close the technology gap that has long existed between them and the United States.” He added that “significant investments” in both infrastructure and forces were needed “particularly in the western Pacific.”

Carter ticked off the budgets proposed for the main branches of the armed services and what they would pay for, giving a glimpse of the massive scale of the US war machine.

The Army, he said, would receive a base budget of $126.5 billion, supporting the deployment of over 1 million troops—475,000 active duty soldiers, 342,000 in the Army National Guard and 198,000 in the Army Reserve. In terms of major expenditures, the Pentagon is calling for $4.5 billion to spend on attack and transportation helicopters.

For the Navy and Marine Corps, the proposed allocation is $161 billion for 2016, paying for a fleet of 282 warships that year and 304 by 2020. The force consists of 386,000 active-duty and reserve sailors, as well as 222,900 active-duty and reserve Marines. The Navy’s proposed spending on new warships amounts to $5.7 billion for 2016 and $30.9 billion through 2020, paying for two new DDG-51 destroyers a year and two new Virginia-class attack submarines a year, while supporting 11 carrier strike groups.

The proposed budget for the Air Force is $152 billion, supporting a combined force of 491,700 active-duty, guard and reserve airmen. It includes spending $6 billion in the upcoming fiscal year and $33.5 billion through 2020 to acquire a total of 272 F-35A Joint Strike Fighter planes, which have become the most expensive weapons system in the Pentagon’s history. Another $2.4 billion will go to buy refueling tankers, and $904 million will pay for an additional 29 MQ-9A Reaper drones in 2016. The Pentagon proposes to buy 77 of the remotely piloted assassination weapons by 2020 at the cost of $4.8 billion.

In terms of the $50.9 billion OCO war-fighting fund, the lion’s share, $42.5 billion, will go to cover continuing US military operations in Afghanistan, while $5.3 billion is proposed for the new US intervention in Iraq and Syria. Also proposed is $789 million for a “NATO Reassurance” fund, which is to pay for the escalating series of provocative military operations on Russia’s borders.

Finally, Carter said that the Obama administration’s proposed Pentagon budget includes $1 billion in 2016 and $8 billion by 2020 for a key component in the preparation for global war: ensuring the “security, and effectiveness of our nuclear deterrent, as well as the long-term health of the force that supports our nuclear triad.”

 

http://www.wsws.org/en/articles/2015/03/19/budg-m19.html