I'm currently reading "The Sorrows of Empire" and one of the first noteworthy observations Chalmers Johnson makes is that our sprawling chain of more than 1,000 bases (the real number is hard to nail down due to secret prisons such as this) are a manifestation of militarism, which means that it has become a self-serving entity and no longer a mere function of national defense:
The distinction between the military and militarism is crucial. By military I mean all the activities, qualities, and institutions required by a nation to fight a war in its defense. A military should be concerned with ensuring national independence, a sine qua non for the maintenance of personal freedom. But having a military by no means has to lead to militarism, the phenomenon by which a nation's armed services come to put their institutional preservation ahead of achieving national security or even a commitment to the integrity of the governmental structure of which they are a part. ... when a military is transformed into an institution of militarism, it naturally begins to displace all other institutions within a government devoted to conducting relations with other nations. One sign of the advent of militarism is the assumption by a nation's armed forces of numerous tasks that should be reserved for civilians.
Incorporating the military weapons industry into the economy as a profit generating industry, in and of itself, breeds militarism. In the last decade we've spent more than $7.6 trillion on military and homeland security according to the National Priorities Project, and military spending is considered by many to be an 'economic stimulus' and has become the third rail in politics. In a truly Orwellian twist this past year, the Nobel Peace Prize recipient, President Obama, has overseen the largest arms deal in history with the repressive, autocratic country of Saudi Arabia. We account for about half of the global arms spending and are the largest arms dealer on the planet. And these activities are all subsidized by the taxpayer.
John Pilger‘s 2010 documentary The War You Don’t See, banned this year from a planned screening at the US Lannan Foundation in New Mexico, is an investigation into the media’s role in war; the ethics of “embedded” journalism, and the rise of the electronic battlefield. One of the most astounding things was the implication of taxpayer money being laundered through these wars:
Assange: Looking at the enormous quantity and diversity of these military and intelligence insider documents... what I see is a vast, sprawling estate -- what we would traditionally call the military intelligence complex or military industrial complex. And that this sprawling industrial estate is growing, becoming more and more secretive, becoming more and more uncontrolled.
This is not a sophisticated conspiracy controlled at the top. This is a vast movement of self-interests by thousands and thousand of players all working together and against each other to produce an end result which is Iraq and Afghanistan and Columbia... and keeping that going...
We often deal with tax havens and people hiding assets and transferring money through off-shore tax havens. So I can see some really quite remarkable similarities. Guantanamo is used for laundering people to an off-shore haven, which doesn't follow the rule of law. Similarly, Iraq and Afghanistan and Columbia are used to wash money out of the U.S. tax base and back in.
Pilger: Arms Companies
Assange: Arms Companies... yep.
Pilger: What you're saying is money and money-making is at the center of modern war, and it's almost self-perpetuating.
Assange: Yes, and it's becoming worse.
The documentary entitled Remote Control War vividly shows the ultimate goal of modern industrial warfare - dehumanizing and automating it. And the business for carrying out this plan of remote-controlled warfare is booming.
"Congress has decreed that by 2015, one third of the U.S. Army's ground systems must be unmanned."
With only a handful of drone aircraft at the start of the Iraq War, we now have thousands of them in our arsenal. But despite government claims and the MIC's vision of a clean, hi-tech method to sweep enemies away, drones aren't very discerning in their targeted killings because they can't differentiate very well between suspected terrorists and innocent villagers:
New study proves falsity of John Brennan's drone claims
In late June, President Obama's chief Terrorism adviser, John Brennan, made an extraordinary claim about drone attacks in Pakistan: "in the last year, 'there hasn't been a single collateral death because of the exceptional proficiency, precision of the capabilities that we've been able to develop." He added: "if there are terrorists who are within an area where there are women and children or others, you know, we do not take such action that might put those innocent men, women and children in danger." The London-based Bureau of Investigative Journalism had heard similar claims from Obama officials over the past several months, and thus set out to examine the relevant evidence to determine if those claims are true.
Last night, they issued the findings of their study which, simply put, definitively establish that the administration's claim about civilian deaths is patently false. Contrary to Brennan's public assertions, "a detailed examination by the Bureau of 116 CIA 'secret' drone strikes in Pakistan since August 2010 has uncovered at least 10 individual attacks in which 45 or more civilians appear to have died." That count -- which includes numerous children -- covers only the civilian deaths which the Bureau could definitively establish by identifying the victims by name. Given how conservative their methodology was, these findings almost certainly under-count, probably dramatically, the number of civilian deaths at U.S. hands during the period about which Brennan made his claim: "at least 15 additional strikes warrant urgent investigation, with many more civilian deaths possible."
Other data similarly establish how false and misleading are Brennan's claims. A British photojournalist providing on-the-scene reporting of the aftermath of drone strikes in Waziristan documented this week that "far more civilians are being injured or dying than the Americans and Pakistanis admit" and "for every 10 to 15 people killed, maybe they get one militant." To describe Brennan's claims as merely "inaccurate" or "untrue" is to be unduly generous.
Shehrbano Taseer, a Newsweek journalist based in Pakistan, is the daughter of Salmaan Taseer, former governor of Punjab who was shot 29 times by his own bodyguard in January. She talks about the how the U.S. drone attacks in Pakistan fail to win the hearts and minds of the people and only help to foment anger and extremism in the Middle East:
As American journalist Ethan Casey points out, we are becoming a larger reflection of everything we claimed was evil, indiscriminately erasing innocent life and skirting or perverting the rule of law to fit the motives of what has become our fascist corporate state:
"We had to destroy the village to save it."
... In the dark calculations of a flawed political world, even something that’s clearly wrong can be justified, if not truly justifiable, if it has good results. The philosophical school that makes such arguments is called utilitarianism, and its adherents – such as, I suppose, the Obama administration – could say drone attacks are necessary because they somehow protect Americans. That argument is marketable to the US public, precisely because it’s vague and plays on people’s fears and ignorance. And, from a Machiavellian point of view, it has the merit of being unfalsifiable: If terrorist attacks don’t happen in America, the US administration can say that’s because of drone attacks in Pakistan.
But meanwhile, actual, non-hypothetical life in Waziristan and beyond is being severely disrupted. When we hear about drone attacks at all in the American media – which we often don’t – it’s usually either asserted or simply assumed that they’re necessary and having the right results. The experts assured us that we were winning in Vietnam, too. I wish we would stop taking their word for it. One US military officer in Vietnam said something that became infamous as a symbol for that entire doomed war effort: “We had to destroy the village in order to save it.” Is that what America is doing all over again in Waziristan? ...
With our economy teetering on the edge of an abyss while we divert precious resources towards self-perpetuating militarism, what rational can anyone give to justify the bloated budget of the Military Industrial complex? If the elite of America treat the rest of the world as a disposable source of profit, why would they not apply the same predatory behavior toward the growing lower class of America? If they can operate secret prisons in the basements of Mogadishu, capital of one of the poorest countries currently experiencing the greatest drought disaster in the world, then to what depraved end does this chimerical 'War on Terror' lead us, but utter barbarism.
Two days ago at the Aspen Colorado Security Forum, former U.S. intelligence chief Dennis Blair said the U.S. should stop its drone campaign in Pakistan, and reconsider the $80 billion a year it spends to fight terrorism. Will his words be heeded or will war profiteering and our hi-tech illusion of security continue to lead us down a very dark and dystopian future?