The 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.
Archives For Military
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.
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.
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.
Getting 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….
Has it really ever worked???
A 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.
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.
Source: F-35 Bookkeeping | TIME.com.
A few hundred million here a few hundred million there and before long you are talking about real money. It is totally unfathomable to me how we could spend $400 billion on one plane design! But it seems that the $614 million that Gates took away was actually just delayed. He planed on giving it back at a later date. I can only hope that Secretary Hagel is a little more stingy with my tax dollars.
I like to figure, especially when my money is being spent, just what something is going to cost me and what benefit will I glean from it. For the sake of this post let me assume that I am in the military aircraft buying mode. I can’t possibly see that actually happening even in a moral support thing but lets assume it anyway.
At an estimated $140 million each these planes will be by far the most expensive ever built. I’m sure a very big percentage of that cost is justified as being about pilot safety. Being stingy with my own money I can’t see why we don’t shelve this whole thing and build a few more pilotless drones to replace them.
The F-35 is as above costed at $140 million each and is estimated to cost about $600/hour to operate. The MQ-1 drone, which is currently the primary drone of choice costs about $4 million each and cost about $3.50/hour to operate. So getting my calculator out I can buy thirty-five drones and still save money and of course risk no pilot’s lives. If I were the enemy which would I be more fearful of, one super expensive plane with a pilot on board, or thirty five drones circling over head. I don’t know much about the terrorist business but I would expect the later.
I hope there are at least a few bean-counter left in Washington to figure this stuff out. I know the drone industry is much like the fighter aircraft business who see this cash-cow and are trying to figure out how to add more bells and whistles to drones to drive up the costs and therefore their profits so we might just have a short window of opportunity to make a decision here. If they don’t have enough calculators in the Pentagon I would be more than willing to send them a few of mine. I seem to have plenty of them around.
In his first major policy speech Wednesday, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel signaled he will be taking a hard look at the way the Pentagon spends its money and at whether the US military needs quite so many officers….
That’s because too often the weapons systems that Pentagon officials buy “are vastly more expensive and technologically risky than what was promised or budgeted for.” And the hard truth is that the most pressing problems the world faces “do not necessarily lend themselves to being resolved by conventional military strength,” he said.
“Indeed the most destructive and horrific attack ever on the United States came not from fleets of ships, bombers, and armored divisions, but from 19 fanatical men wielding box cutters and one-way plane tickets.”
Maybe we will finally get at least a small dose of sanity in our Defense Department spending. For way too long this department of the federal government has been given carte blanche to spend whatever they want. There has literally been no accounting for the spending; even the department itself has no idea where the money goes! This would not be so sad if it were not for the fact that the DOD amounts to half of our discretionary spending in this country. Far far more than any other country in the world. Here we are reducing many social services while continuing to expand our spending on weapons systems that have long lost their usefulness.
I pray that secretary Hagel can get a little sanity back into this process. It was taking the two wars started by the Bush administration “off-the-books” that started the latest massive slide in our deficits. We are spending millions, perhaps billions on drones (no body knows), while continuing to buy multimillion dollar planes that serve little purpose other than to enrich a particular representative’s electoral district. A fellow blogger friend who lives in Arizona mentions an aircraft graveyard there that contains thousands of mothballed planes. Maybe it is time to pull a few of them out and drop the billions being spent for new ones.
We could easily drop the defense department budgets in half and still maintain a military superiority fifty times greater than any other country. Lets get back to spending our tax dollars on our crumbling infrastructure and on our people instead of unneeded bombs and weapons of destruction. Lets finally bring some sanity back into this process….
But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….
Just as after Vietnam, politicians can vow never to fight another long and unpopular war against insurgents. But Perkins said that would be exactly the wrong lesson for the military to learn from Iraq.
“We can never be in a position to say, you know what, we don’t do that anymore,” Perkins said.
The great lesson of Iraq — that the American military must be prepared both to sow chaos and create stability — must be learned not just by those who fought there, but by all those who come after.
Why can’t we say we don’t do that anymore? What is wrong with keeping to our own business and letting the regional players or at least the UN to handle conflicts on the other side of the world? Why must the U.S. be the policemen of the world? Is it because we spend more on our military than the rest of the world combined? If that is the case then I have a radical solution. Quit spending so much of our grandchildren’s money on our war machines and mind our own business.
I applaud the generals for putting out this report but they seem to be ignoring the obvious solutions. They seem to think that their military might is a foregone conclusion. The real solution is to get us off our dependence on oil and our dependence on a hyper-military to get it for us.
Iraq will soon go into the history book right beside Vietnam as wars that had no lasting effect on history. It is dreadful that my generation had to sacrifice 55,000 for no difference. We should have learned our lessons but that was just not the case. Now thousands of kids of the twenty-first century have been killed or maimed in a very similar situation. The totally senseless and tragic loss of life is stupefying.
Life isn’t fair. That is a lesson all of us need to learn. There will always be people who take advantage of others in this world. There will always be civil wars in one magnitude or another going. When Mr. Gorbachev made the statement that he has done grievous harm to us by making the U.S. the only superpower in the world he certainly predicted our future as it is now playing out. In order to justify our outrageous military spending we just have to use it whenever possible. Is that our fate or will common sense eventually reign? It is hard to see the answer to that right now but I have faith that, like the collapse of the Soviet Union, our drawdown of the military just might happen even quicker than I dream.
When I came across this Einstein quote it almost made me shudder. Even though I have heard it before it struck me this time. We are advancing technologically at an astounding pace in recent years. Integrated circuits are in just about every device we now buy. Artificial intelligence is being used for so many things today. Unfortunately because the Pentagon budgets take the biggest bite out of our discretionary spend technology is at the forefront in our ability to kill those we currently don’t like for one reason or another.
Our killing machines are becoming so advanced that we can now kill thousands of times more of the “enemy” than we could even fifty years ago. With all this in mind I know that Albert was saying that our next world war would likely destroy worldwide civilizations such that the one after that would be amongst the few survivors that are left.
We seem to alway have an enemy that we want to destroy. In the past it has been the dreaded communists. In the present it is those who have a radicalized view of their religion. For one reason or another we have been at war with each other throughout our history. Do we stand a chance of not having a World War III? I just don’t know but I selfishly don’t want to be around when or if it happens as it will likely truly be the “was to end all wars”.
Thanks Albert for bringing this to our attention. I only pray that I am not the only one to shudder at the possibility of your words…
I know the current version of the Republican party is supposed to be all about fiscal austerity but I have trouble actually seeing them live out that concept. When it comes to the safety net and so-called “entitlement” issues they scream about needing to cut back or at least for total accountability. But when it comes to the bloated military expenses, homeland security and tax breaks for the rich they appear to throw that concept out the window. Of course that means that their austerity programs, if they are implemented as they suggest, will end up being done on the backs of the poor as almost everything else is “off the table”.
We spend more than the other 96% of the world combines on our supposed security. Our military budgets eat up so much of our prosperity as to force future looking programs off the stove. Education, our R&D forces, and our colleges suffer as a result of our insistence that to be safe we must spend so much on our war machine. In fact we throw so much money into the military that they don’t even bother to try to determine if it is going to the best place. For that matter they really don’t even try to categorize where it is even spent. But that doesn’t seem to phase the Republican senators and congressmen in Washington. They continue to demand more and more of our precious resource for this bloated machine.
For that reason I have little confidence that my budgeted minded friends are really serious about budgets but are really more concerned in reducing or even eliminating the very function of government or at least making sure that 47% don’t get things they supposedly haven’t earned. If they were really serious about our current deficits they would be looking at our war machine first not last. When you throw trillions of dollars into a black hole you dictate that much of it will be spent unwisely or even fraudulently. They demand total accountability for agencies supporting our safety net and nothing for our industrial/ military complex. How strange is that???
He (retired Army Gen. David Barno) said the Pentagon’s method of operating is comparable to driving a 1985 Oldsmobile which is leaking oil, “and every time we go out on the highway at 65 miles an hour, we come back after another day, there’s more and more oil on the floor of our garage in the morning. And our solution has been to buy more oil, to put it in the engine and go drive it at 65 miles an hour.”
When Mr. Bush declared in 2002 that he was taking his wars “off-the-books” it looks like he meant it! According to this article there seems to be almost no accountability within the Department of Defense. How can those who hold the purse strings in congress allow such a thing to happen. At least a few generations ago we learned about the infamous $10,000 toilet seats whereas now we have no idea, no even those who are in control, of where the money is even going.
I can’t imagine any other organization that could be run like our military. With basically no accountability it is certain that billions, if not trillions, are wasted on fraud and abuse alone.
- It seems ludicrous how can congress just blindly throw almost half of our discretionary money into a black hole and then go screaming about making cuts to our nation’s safety net because they want to cut the deficit!
- It seems ludicrous that we throw so much money indiscriminately into our war machine while expecting our teachers to supply pencils, paper and art supplies for their classrooms
- It seems ludicrous for our citizens to go without even basic healthcare in order to feed the insatiable black hole.
All of above just seems insane to me. But what is even more insane are those who are allowing this to happen and not hearing a peep out of them. Why are they not screaming their heads off in Washington about this?
I want to bring out one more quote from this article to show at least a glimmer of hope in finally reining in some of these bloated budgets
He (Hagel) added more questions later in the hearing, “Why aren’t we auditing these programs? Where’s the accountability? That’s certainly an area that we’re going to have to take a look at.” And within days Hagel will have his chance to begin that accountability and to reduce the bloat he saw in his department
I pray that Secretary Hagel, now that the Republicans have finally let him take it place, will have the courage to tackle this absurd condition that he is taking over. I pray that he puts the military spending (you can’t really call them budgets as they seem to have none) back “on-the-books” and insists on knowing where our money goes. It certainly isn’t spent on soldiers’ pay as many are at or below the poverty line.
It depends on what the definition of “is” is….
The above quote, for all you guys over thirty is obviously from the impeachment hearing of President Clinton. Mr. Clinton being a lawyer, as most politicians are, zeroed in on one word of a question asked of him about Monica…
Well it seems that the definition game is back in play with another Democratic president. No it is not about sex this time, President Obama is just not that type of guy. This time it is a much more serious matter and that is the explanation of how the “kill list” is made up and the subsequent drone flights to take out the subject.
The white paper memo that was recently leaked about how to determine who would be killed by a drone attack said that the person had to be involved in an imminent attack on the United States. Lets look at a non-lawyer definition of ”imminent”:
very likely to occur at any moment; impending: Her death is imminent
I think most of us are aligned with this definition. But enter the lawyers with their own definition at least when it comes to killing via drone attacks.
possibility of the person to either now or sometime in the future be involved in a plan to attack the U.S.
So, like the word “is”, imminent changes definitions to suit the legal matter at hand. Sadly the main talk about this leaked paper revolves around killing U.S. citizens on foreign soil. There seems to be no real dispute inside the beltway on killing foreign citizens in their own countries. They, meaning President Obama and a small handful of military types, say they don’t currently plan on using drones to kill U.S. citizens on U.S. soil.
We don’t really know how many people have been killed in our drone attacks either by being targets or as collateral damage, that information has been kept very hidden. But it is generally believed to be in the thousands. We know that drone attacks are striking fear among many in the world. They are worried that they might be the next collateral damage to innocently die at the hands of the U.S. President. As a result drone attacks are becoming the vehicle of choice in Al Qaeda recruitment.
When lawyers are involved even the most mundane things are questioned. If you want to stay informed be very careful that you know the lawyer’s definition if things like “is” and “imminent” are.
I know there are numerous times in our history where civil liberties have been severely threatened. Various groups and individuals have been attacked by our government without due process. One glaring recent example is putting Japanese-Americans in prison camps during World War II simply because of their heritage. But it seems like this is almost becoming common place in our country today. Mr. Obama’s kill list is one example. It sounds as if one or two high-ranking officials think that any person, including a U.S. citizen, is a threat to our country they can ask the president to take them out via a drone attack and surprisingly he is reported to often make that call. I don’t think, or at least I pray, that they don’t do that while the person is on U.S. soil yet but then of course since the process is so secretive we have no way of even knowing that.
And then there are guys like Chris Kyle who we know had assassinated over 180 people on orders from military or other government officials. Now don’t get me wrong here, I imagine that most of these people on these kill lists were “bad guys” who the world is better off without but are we really sure that some were not innocent of these cloaked charges against them? Were they killed by bullet or bomb before they were really proven guilty? They certainly did not get a judge or a jury. I can’t help but think that if George Bush had the same policies on drone attacks as President Obama the Democrats would be screaming right now but the current silence on this topic is deafening (and I know what I am talking about in that area).
I’m probably be in the minority (wouldn’t be the first time) here but I believe we must protect our civil liberties at all costs and that even includes letting some bad guys live another day. That is what makes us a stand out country in the world. The idea of “Innocent until proven guilty” has a long history in our country. I also hope that we don’t believe that civil liberties are an exclusive property of U.S. citizens and shouldn’t apply to people in the rest of the world.
Are we headed toward a time when our civil rights are at serious risk yet again? The right to vote is one of the most basic forms of civil rights. Until the Civil Rights Act of 1964 African-Americans were basically denied that right by one scheme or another throughout the South. That basic right seems under attack once again in some Republican controlled States including Ohio and Florida. Some also say our right to bear arms is under attack.
We must always do whatever is necessary to protect the civil rights of all our citizens and to make sure the principle itself is propagated throughout the world. Our founding fathers believed that if necessary eleven guilty men should be freed in order to insure one innocent person was not punished. These “kill lists” without any check and balances even though they are not being issued on U.S. soil (or at least I pray they aren’t) are a definite threat to all our civil liberties. I am totally disappointed that President Obama is apparently signing off on assassinations without due process. I expected better from him.
One reason is because the Pentagon would then have to show its cards, some argue. That is, it would have to tell Congress how it would reallocate funds from its lesser priorities to its higher priorities, says Todd Harrison, senior fellow for defense budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA), warned back in August.
“Once you show people there are higher- and lower-priority items in your budget, then the lower-priority items become the target, and they’re likely to get cut no matter what,” he says. Mr. Harrison is one who suggests that the Pentagon “would be wise to start planning.”….
Now that we are finally winding down Mr. Bush’s wars in Iraq and Afghanistan I hope the budgeters in congress take a serious look at our defense spending. The Department of Defense is the only department that has more than doubled during the last twelve years. I pray that President Obama will also live up to his pledge to begin stepping back from being policemen of the world. I am hoping that he will have the guts to take on the industrial/military establishment and put then into a peace time mode from a financial standpoint. That alone would go a long way to balancing our budgets.
During the later parts of my employment in the corporate world I was required to set up budgets on an annual basis. Part of the process of allocating the money was I was forced to give priorities to where my group would spend the dollars allocated to us. How the Department of Defense can get everything they want year after year is dumbfounding to me. What is even more dumbfounding is that they also frequently get money for projects they don’t even want.
I have no problems making sure that the boys and girls who make up the bulk of our military forces get a living wage but even there I hear that many are living below the poverty level! Much of the money seems to be spent on things related to cold war strategies.
I mourn the fact that so many in the GOP are more willing to put cuts on seniors and the poor rather than to reign back some of these unknown military expenses. Lets start these forthcoming budget talks by requiring the DOD to actually tell us where they spend all the money we throw at them. But, then again I doubt if they could even do that. Are we still buying $10,000 toilet seats. I wouldn’t be surprised.
But I am just a simple guy so what do I know….
Roughly 66,000 U.S. troops are serving in Afghanistan. The military has proposed keeping several thousand troops in the country after 2014 as advisers, trainers and logistical support for Afghan forces; the White House has said it remains open to pulling out all troops entirely.
Leaving no troops behind when we finally exit Afghanistan? That would be a first for us. We currently have troops stationed in about seventy-five percent of the world’s countries. It wouldn’t be so bad to just leave some temporarily behind but when their tour is complete we send someone in to replace them for years and years to come. We have had thousands of troops in Germany and Korea for my entire lifetime.
If I were a small country I don’t think I would want some other country’s soldiers constantly among us. What would we U.S. citizens say if President Obama suddenly announced that he was allowing 50,000 German soldiers to be permanently stationed in Texas. I think there would be an uproar almost as loud as trying to take a Texan’s assault rifle away from him!! Continue Reading…
In order to prepare some posts over at RedLetterLiving I have been studying some about the why the Roman Empire collapsed. Of course everyone seems to have an opinion about that. The anti-Catholic folks say it is the pope’s fault. The maker/taker folks claim it is because the empire became a welfare State. But I kind of align with a majority view that they just had to spend too much money to keep their armies spread out among most of the world. Their military expenses accounted for almost one-half of all their spending and that included building the coliseum and such!
I am a history guy so I like to claim that we can learn from the past in order to keep from making the same mistakes in the future. There have been a few other empires come and go since the Roman one but I don’t think anyone will disagree that the current world empire are us folks in the U.S.
When President Obama and first lady Michelle Obama issued a special holiday greeting over the weekend to US troops fighting overseas, they were addressing the smallest deployment of combat troops in at least five years….
Then, as Mrs. Obama emphasized in the video greeting, there are the 2.4 million veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, and their families, who will continue to require services beyond holiday acknowledgments from the president.
Even though I don’t have any friends or relatives in harm’s way now, this is the best Christmas present I could have wished for. Now if we can just go back to pre-Iraq military deployment levels that would be even more joyous. The most joyous would be to also get back to those military spending levels. We spend about twice as much on our war machine as we did then. This is one of the major causes for our current deficit problems.
“Fiscal cliff” this “fiscal cliff” that; I am really getting tired of all the rhetoric. It is almost as if some evil empire dropped the “fiscal cliff” viciously into our laps. This reminds me of all the gloom and doom associated with Y2K. Does anyone remember that one. That happened in 1999 when some wise guru decided that the world was going to end when the calendar turned to January 1, 2000. The reasoning was that computers would get the date confused with 1900 as we only use the last two digit in most of our year designations. Of course when the date actually happened it was as mundane as the year before. No the “fiscal cliff” wasn’t dropped down on us by some evil empire, it was a result of a big majority vote by those same folks in our congress that are so upset about it now.
The United States’ ability to compete on the global stage has fallen for the fourth year running as confidence in the country’s politicians continues to decline. The finding is from an annual survey from the World Economic Forum (WEF).
Of the top 10 nations, the Netherlands and Germany have moved ahead of the U.S. The U.S.’ ranking dropped two places to seventh this year, the WEF says.
It is sad to see that the U.S. is falling behind in yet another metric. Our manufacturing base is quickly dwindling. Almost everything we buy now comes from outside our shores. Our healthcare cost us more than any other country and still we die younger than many. Our military eats us so Continue Reading…