Archives For Military

Nearly 25 years later, the North Korean People’s Army, Navy, and Air Force are relics of a different era. Nearly everything is obsolete. North Korean tanks and armored fighting vehicles are up to 50 years old. This summer, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was photographed onboard an old Romeo-class submarine, an antiquated design first produced in the 1950s. The North Korean Air Force is only slightly better off; its newest fighter jets are now 25 years old most are closer to 50.Not only is the equipment obsolete, it’s becoming unusable. Late last year during naval exercises, two North Korean People’s Navy patrol boats sank within days of each other, killing tens of North Korean sailors. On June 24, a helicopter exploded in midair.One major problem: North Korean equipment is so old nobody makes spare parts anymore. For years the military has cannibalized some equipment in order to keep the rest running. The fact that three MiG-19s have crashed in the span of seven months is a strong indication that cannibalization is no longer working and entire types of equipment are overdue for a trip to the junk heap.

SOURCE: North Korea’s military is falling apart — is Kim Jong Un’s regime next? – The Week.

The above article is good news but also bad news.  We just might be able to see some light at the end of the Korean tunnel. As more and more of their military equipment breaks down the North Korean despot will lose more and more power. But that is also the bad news.  As he loses power he will likely strike out on a last ditch effort to maintain his stranglehold. I know he is frantically trying to build a nuclear bomb and if he manages I have little doubt that he would use it!

 

Injured Warriors….

June 17, 2014

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It has happened throughout humanity’s history. When our country/tribe feels threatened by one thing or another and we go to war many of our young men rush to enlist.They see adventures in war. They think it will turn back the boredom of their daily lives. I don’t think there has been a teenager in existence that doesn’t feel a lack of stimulation during those years. They all have some grandiose vision of having a uniform and fighting the bad guys.  The teenage years are vexing to most of us.  Our brains are not fully formed so we often have an incomplete vision of life.

Our young men, and now our young women, rush to war. They don’t seem to contemplate the reasons for the war. They don’t know the trauma of taking another life. All they see is the glamor and maybe to some degree a sense of duty.  “My country needs me”.

The realities of war do not sink in until they are knee deep in it. Isaac Sims found out that war is something other than glamor. It is death and many dead bodies. I recently watched an American Experience episode entitled Death and the Civil War. It showed the realities of those times.  Over 750,000 were killed and many times that  amount seriously wounded, and that was with a total U.S. population of only 30 million.

I will admit up front that I have no experiences with the military establishments of today. All I know I learned from stories. But I have heard that many generals just don’t take PTSD seriously. They see it as just the weaklings who can’t stomach the realities of war. To them real men just do their duty and disregard what they see.

 

No one should have to see what this young Isaac Sims did!

Privatizing Prisons…

March 20, 2014

For-profit prisons have now become the norm throughout our country. We now leave it up to others to house those who we deem unfit for society. Some, especially fiscal conservatives, say that is a good thing.  After all doesn’t the private sector always do it better than the public one.  Doesn’t the drive for profit always mean a better way of doing it?

Here are some sobering statistics about this:

PrisonThe biggest private prison owner in America, The Corrections Corporation of America, has seen its profits increase by more than 500% in the past 20 years. Moreover, the business’ growth shows no sign of stopping, having already approached 48 states to take over government-run prisons. One way for-profit prisons to minimize costs is by skimping on provisions, including food. A psychiatrist who investigated a privately run prison in Mississippi found that the inmates were severely underfed and looked “almost emaciated.” During their incarceration, prisoners dropped anywhere from 10 to 60 pounds.

100% of all military helmets, ID tags, bullet-proof vests and canteens are created in federal prison systems through prison labor. Though prisoners are “generously” compensated cents per hour, it’s clear having this inexpensive, exploited labor force is critical to the military industrial complex.

States sign agreements with private prisons to guarantee that they will fill a certain number of beds in jail at any given point. The most common rate is 90%, though some prisons are able to snag a 100% promise from their local governments. Because of these contracts, the state is obligated to keep prisons almost full at all times or pay for the beds anyway, so the incentive is to incarcerate more people and for longer in order to fill the quota.

Violent crimes are down overall, so how does the United States keep prisons stocked instead? Amplifying the war on drugs: there are now 11 times as many people in jail for drug convictions than there were in 1980, constituting 50% of the prison population. Longer mandatory minimum sentences also keeps the inmates in longer. Most people incarcerated for drug charges are non-violent, have no prior record, and are addicts rather than major drug-traffickers.

The three largest for-profit prison corporations have spent more than $45 million on campaign donations and lobbyists to keep politicians on the side of privatized incarceration. In light of all of their ethical violations, it’s obvious that they have to offer some incentive for keeping their business legal.

SOURCE: For-Profit Prisons: 8 Statistics That Show the Problems | Care2 Causes.

I will let you decide whether all of the above is a good thing.  For those of you who think it is, let’s drop the other shoe.  Let’s privatize our armed forces. Think of all the money we could save. We could layoff soldiers during those few times when we are not at war with someone. We could sell off the Pentegon or at least give it a corporate name.  How about Halliburton World Headquarters?   I’ll bet we could make a bundle off of that place. I’m sure all the statistics above could easily be duplicated for our defense establishment as they are for our prison system.  What do you think???? PRIVATIZE is the name of the game isn’t it??

2014-01-15_09-20-30“If we can just let other people alone and let them do their own fighting. When you get into trouble 5,000 miles away from home, you’ve got to have been looking for it” – Will Rogers, 9 February 1932

The world is a much smaller place now than it was in 1932 when Will spoke these words. The first multiple channel trans-Atlantic cable would not be laid for almost 25 years and communications satellites where also decades away. 1932 was just the beginning of our addiction to the automobile so it would be again decades before we became dependent on middle-Eastern oil. The world is a much smaller place now…

But I still kind of believe that Will got it right even for today. We seem to go out of our way to find some use for our massive military complex. I see the recent budget agreement tacked another $60 billion for Afghanistan on top of the other $600 billion already approved. Those yahoos just can’t spend enough money on our fighting capabilities or too little on our peace making efforts. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail…

2013-10-27_09-10-12A slew of reports over the last two weeks detailing cases of U.S. armed drones killing civilians signaled a new wave of outrage over the unregulated use of drones by the U.S. There was one report from the United Nations, another from Human Rights Watch, and one from Amnesty International. The uproar—and the sense that Washington has done little to make more transparent its use of drones—culminated in a debate Friday at the UN.

But a parallel movement has emerged to make sure that a different and perhaps more terrifying technology never makes it this far.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Robots is a coalition of weapons monitors and human rights groups leading an effort, formally since April, to establish an international ban on fully autonomous lethal weapons. Dubbed (by opponents) “killer robots,” it’s a technology that can kill targets (humans) without any human input. Whereas drones today have someone somewhere remotely determining where and when to fire, a fully autonomous air, land, or sea weapon could be making the decisions on its own.

SOURCE:  The Campaign to Kill Killer Robots Gains Steam | TIME.com.

A World Gone Mad???

November 23, 2013

2013-11-14_16-48-53The snapshot above was from a Time Magazine article about the 25 best inventions for 2013. Many of the inventions they noted were pretty frivolous in nature but not this one.  Of course we all should have expected that our current drone program is only the beginning. There are trillions of dollars more to be made by our military industrial complex before drones have run their course. This is just a logical next step.  Before long we will be able to kill thousands of our enemies, along with those deemed “collateral damage”, and still make it home for supper!! And this was developed during the administration of a president that won  the Nobel Peace Price in his first year in office and vowed to keep us out of more wars!!  I am afraid that this is just the beginning of a world gone mad.

Syria 2Skeptical European foreign ministers on Saturday urged the U.S. to delay possible military action against Syria until U.N. inspectors report on last month’s suspected chemical weapons attack.

SOURCE: European leaders urge U.S. on Syria: Slow down – CBS News.

Will President Obama listen to some of the leaders of the other 95% of the world’s population and not rush into another war, no matter how limited he claims it to be?  Going it alone has cost this country too much in terms of our debt and what we have left spend on the “least of these”, let alone the lives of our young people. I know all the generals who are constantly whispering into his ears and got him convinced that the world is an evil place that we need to bomb to make it right.

When I voted for Mr. Obama in 2008 one of my dreams was that he would become one of my heroes in life.  Maybe even pushing Woodrow Wilson out of that top political space.  But of course that hope has long diminished. He just seems to be yet another president who mollycoddles our military/industrial complex in its rush to war. Wilson went to his death trying to make the first version of the United Nations into a true world governing body. I wonder what the world would be like today if he had succeeded instead of dying an untimely death?  I know my Republican friends for the most part hate the U.N. They see it as limiting the U.S. dominance of the world. They see it as giving others a say in world matter that they want for the U.S. alone. Of course that is just one area where I fundamentally disagree with them.

It is very likely that if, or maybe given history I should say when, we bomb Syria that the collateral damage will be several times worse than the original death count due to chemical weapons.  I just hope that it doesn’t end up like Iraq where it was several orders of magnitude higher. Like MLK’s speech of fifty years ago, I have a dream that someday all human life will be valued on the same level of importance. I dream that my country will encourage and support a strong and benevolent United Nations presence and then move into the background with moral support instead of bombs and drones.  But, given the power of this countries war machine I doubt that my dream will ever come to pass.

The Hawk’s Delimina….

September 4, 2013

His reasoning, according to officials who were in the room? He wants members on the record, rather than simply criticizing from outside whatever action he takes.

SOURCE:  Obama’s Syria strike decision aims to get Congress on the record – CBS News.

I made a personal vow to try to stay out of the latest saber-rattling from a U.S. president. After Mr. Obama’s strong words against the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan it has troubled me to see him seemingly repeat the same mistakes. I just hope that when he does it is of a much smaller scale than his predecessor and doesn’t entangle us into another decade long engagement in a civil war.

After the WMD argument was totally proven wrong in Iraq the logic  from the Bush administration then turned to the fact that 10,000 of Iraq’s citizens (or some number such as that) were killed by the dictator. But we then went on to kill more than thirty times that many as “collateral damage” in the next decade. I just hope that this time around if it happens, and it looks like it most assuredly will, the death rate of innocents will be  drastically lower.

RoosterGetting back to the original purpose of the quote above I do salute the president for his logic of going to congress. It is well known that his most ardent opponents are very strong hawks when it comes to military action. They seem to have never seen a conflict they didn’t want to be involved in. So, they come up against the impossible situation where they either have to support the president, which is something that goes seems to go against their most basic nature,  or oppose the invasion action. They, indeed are stuck between a rock and a hard place :) But, I’m sure they will spend the week strutting around showing how important they are because the president has asked for their permission….

What a bunch of barnyard roosters.  I must have birds on my mind lately….

Off To War Again

Has it really ever worked???

Spl ForcesA handful of Democratic and Republican senators are considering a rewrite of 60 of the most consequential words to ever pass through Congress. The Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF), passed after the attacks of 11 September 2001, and provides the legal cornerstone for the so-called US “war on terror”. Only one brave Congress member opposed it. It allows the US government to wage war at anytime, any place and on anyone deemed a threat to national security – with remarkably little evidence needed.

via Authorization for Use of Military Force: a blank check for war without end | Michael Shank and Matt Southworth | Comment is free | guardian.co.uk.

As my friends over at Friends Committee on National Legislations said

 “More than a decade later, Congress is still using legislation from just after 9/11 to justify troops and drone strikes around the world.

Unlike every other occurrence in our history, when World War II ended we did not drop back to a peace time military. Instead we chose to continue fund our war machine at near maximum levels and obviously since then we have been in almost endless wars. I wonder if there is a cause/effect there? We have lost a significant number of our kids to war in every generation since.  We are now fighting a “war” against terror and that by definition is not a country, State, or even a particular group but it is indeed an endless war.

One of the most disappointing things about President Obama is is radical turn from campaign rhetoric to his Oval Office stands when it comes to war making. He turned out to be very little difference from his predecessor in that regard.  It is only a small glimmer of hope to see him come out recently and admit that we maybe need to get more focused than just a war on the concept of terror. A terrorist is someone who does something to strike fear in someone.  You could say that is the  mantra for both political parties right now. They both want you to be fearful about almost everything in this world but particularly about electing someone from the other party. Shouldn’t our war on terror include those yahoos by electing someone from the Centrist Movement.

It is insane to see how we can year after year hand over a blank check to our war manufacturers while letting our infrastructure rust away. It is insane to me how we hand over a blank check and then deny some aid for food and shelter to the least of our citizens. An absurd example of that is the $1.7 trillion that is being budgeted for the latest super high-tech fighter plane that really has little or no purpose in today’s world. It is being spent mainly to appease our military/industrial base at least until our next war is declared.  This makes absolutely no sense to me.