Fool me once; shame on you. Fool me 500,076 times, still shame on you. Trump has been in the White House for three years and he, despite having broken pretty much every political promise he made, still has zealous supporters. What’s his secret? His secret is that his supporters are very good at self delusion. Whenever news breaks that Trump is ready to support some reduction of state power his supporters are quick to say, “See? I told you he would reduce government!” Then when he fails to follow through his supporter say, “This is just part of his three dimensional chess game against the libtards!”
I’ve lost count of how may dimensions Trump’s chess game supposedly has at this point. I think it’s somewhere around 96 dimensional. But he decided to add an extra dimension yesterday when he reneged on his claim to support pulling American troops out of Syria:
WASHINGTON — Two months after declaring all U.S. troops are leaving Syria, President Donald Trump wrote to members of Congress that he now agrees “100%” with keeping a military presence in Syria.
This news comes as a shock to nobody who has paid attention to his track record.
Of course Trump isn’t unique in this regard. Lies are political capital and finding an honest politician carries worse odds than even the most rigged boxing match. While those who oppose Trump will scream at the top of their lungs about the importance of electing anybody else in 2020, the only thing electing a different president will do is shuffle the same shit around. After all, Trump’s predecessor campaigned on getting the United States out of its endless state of war and ended up getting the country into a few extra wars before his time in office was up.
The rift between the two dominant political parties here in the United States appears to be widening ever day. If one party says that it’s in favor of something, the other party almost reflexively says that it’s against it. But there is one issue on which the two parties agree wholeheartedly: bombing people in foreign lands whose skin color is any shade lighter than Scandinavian pale:
WASHINGTON — The Senate, in a bipartisan rebuke to President Trump’s foreign policy, voted overwhelmingly to advance legislation drafted by the majority leader to express strong opposition to the president’s withdrawal of United States military forces from Syria and Afghanistan.
The 68-to-23 vote to cut off debate ensures that the amendment, written by Senator Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and backed by virtually every Senate Republican, will be added to a broader bipartisan Middle East policy bill expected to easily pass the Senate next week.
Granted, if history is any indicator, remaining in Afghanistan is a self-correcting problem. There’s a reason it’s often referred to as the graveyard of empires.
Remember the aftermath of 9/11 when Bush entangled the United States in several Middle Eastern conflicts? It lead to the rise of a very fervent anti-war left.
Then Obama came into power. The anti-war left fell silent. I guess they were on vacation or something.
Now Trump has undone one of the products of Bush’s legacy and announced that the United States is pulling out of Syria, which has cause the anti-war left to not only decide that Bush’s wars were OK but that his wars were absolutely necessary!
I have to assume that during its mysterious eight year disappearance, the anti-war left was taken away to Room 101 and taught the importance of Big Brother’s wars. Either that or the anti-war left was never actually against war and merely exploited Bush’s war in order to criticize somebody who worshiped the wrong political god.
Freedom isn’t free. It costs $6 trillion:
WASHINGTON — The price tag of the ongoing “war on terror” in the Middle East will likely top $6 trillion next year, and will reach $7 trillion if the conflicts continue into the early 2020s, according to a new report out Wednesday.
The annual Costs of War project report, from the Watson Institute for International and Public Affairs at Brown University, puts the full taxpayer burden of fighting in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria over the last 17 years at several times higher than official Defense Department estimates, because it includes increases in Homeland Security and Veterans Affairs spending, as well as new military equipment and personnel.
“Because the nation has tended to focus its attention only on direct military spending, we have often discounted the larger budgetary costs of the post-9/11 wars, and therefore underestimated their greater budgetary and economic significance,” the new report states.
And what does the United States have to show for this $6 trillion? The wars in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Syria are still ongoing as are wars in other countries that are related to the “war on terror.” On top of that none of these countries show any sign of stabilizing. As if that weren’t bad enough an unknown number of innocent civilians have been killed on top of the casualties incurred by all factions engaged in fighting.
So, really, the United States has jack shit to show for those $6 trillion. But it doesn’t seem to understand that because there is no sign that the “war on terror” will end anytime soon.
The United States military has a problem. OK, it has a lot of problems, but the problem I’m specifically referring to is the trend as of late of acquiring unfinished or flawed technology. From a $1 trillion jet that doesn’t seem capable of doing anything well to stealthy destroyers with flawed engines to fancy new aircraft carriers with nonfunctional munition elevators:
The $13 billion Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the U.S. Navy’s costliest warship, was delivered last year without elevators needed to lift bombs from below deck magazines for loading on fighter jets.
Previously undisclosed problems with the 11 elevators for the ship built by Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. add to long-standing reliability and technical problems with two other core systems — the electromagnetic system to launch planes and the arresting gear to catch them when they land.
The Advanced Weapons Elevators, which are moved by magnets rather than cables, were supposed to be installed by the vessel’s original delivery date in May 2017. Instead, final installation was delayed by problems including four instances of unsafe “uncommanded movements” since 2015, according to the Navy.
I guess when the deck is used to launch $1 trillion jets that don’t function reliably, getting munitions to the desk isn’t terribly important.
The modern United States military is addicted to high-tech bells and whistles. While those bells and whistles look great on paper, they are often plagued with problems in real world testing and on the battlefield.
At the rate things are going the United States’ military will win the war for its enemies.
You know the old saying, you have to spend money to make money? It’s especially true in politics:
Weapons makers are moving last-minute money to the Democratic congressman in line to chair the defense industry’s key House committee, as he is under assault from a fellow Democrat, who is attacking his pro-war record just ahead of a rare intra-party general election.
Sensing an opportunity to influence the race and the potential future committee chair, major weapons contractors have given the lawmaker last-minute campaign support. Lobbyists and executives associated with General Dynamics, one of the largest weapons makers in the world, have given over $10,000 in recent weeks, in addition to the $9,500 from the company over the last quarter.
In just the last week of October, Teresa Carlson, an Amazon industry executive overseeing the company’s bid for a $10 billion military IT contract, gave $1,000; Bechtel, which managed Iraq reconstruction contracts, gave $1,000; Rolls-Royce, which manufactures parts for a variety of military jets, including a model of the controversial F-35, gave $3,500; and Phebe Novakovic, the chief executive of General Dynamics, gave $2,700.
If you’re going to the polls tomorrow, remember that your vote is meaningless. Your options will consist of a list of curated politicians who might disagree on minor details but all agree that the government must continue to oppress you. Moreover, consider your politician’s position. If they have to weigh the value of the single filled in oval on a piece of paper that you offer versus thousands or millions of dollars in campaign contributions, who do you think they’ll choose to appease?
The 34th Ferengi Rule of Acquisition states that war is good for business. However, the 35th rule states that peace is good for business. However, peace isn’t good for some businesses:
While the broad U.S. stock market reaction to the historic agreement between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to establish a new relationship committed to “peace and prosperity” was muted, shares of defense contractors took a dive.
Shares of Raytheon, which makes Patriot and Tomahawk missiles, closed 2.8% lower. Lockheed Martin, which supplies the Pentagon with air and missile defense systems as well as the F-35 Stealth fighter jet, tumbled 1.3%. And Northrop Grumman, which has increased its focus on cyber warfare and missile defense systems more recently, declined 1.5%. Boeing, which makes Apache helicopters and aerial refueling aircraft, dipped 0.1%. General Dynamics, a Navy shipbuilder, fell 1.6%.
That’s a shame.
If you own stocks in these companies, fear not! This “dive” is almost certainly temporary. The United States enjoys involving itself in wars far too much for peace to remain in the public’s eye for long.
In Ancient Rome it was customary to throw a triumph for military commanders who achieved great victories. These triumphs were massive parades where the military commander, legionaries, and spoils of war were paraded through the city. Since the United States has ripped off so much from Ancient Rome it only makes sense that it hosts periodic triumphs from time to time:
President Trump’s vision of soldiers marching and tanks rolling down the boulevards of Washington is moving closer to reality in the Pentagon and White House, where officials say they have begun to plan a grand military parade later this year showcasing the might of America’s armed forces.
Trump has long mused publicly and privately about wanting such a parade, but a Jan. 18 meeting between Trump and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank — a room reserved for top-secret discussions — marked a tipping point, according to two officials briefed on the planning.
Of course, the Romans only threw a triumph when they actually achieved military victory. The United States hasn’t won a war in decades so this kind of military parade is little more than a display of military hardware. I guess it can also reassure a commander in chief who is feeling particularly insecure because he hasn’t actually won a war.
Yesterday I posted about my theory that the wars in the Middle East and Afghanistan aren’t meant to be won, they’re meant to grind of perpetually in order to enrich the military-industrial complex. Less you think I’m a complete wonk I would like to take a moment to point out that war is good for business:
As Donald Trump might put it, major weapons contractors like Boeing, Raytheon, and Lockheed Martin cashed in “bigly” in his first year in office. They raked in tens of billions of dollars in Pentagon contracts, while posting sharp stock price increases and healthy profits driven by the continuation and expansion of Washington’s post-9/11 wars. But last year’s bonanza is likely to be no more than a down payment on even better days to come for the military-industrial complex.
The nice thing about being a policy maker is that you’re in a position to make a great deal of money when your policies are enacted. If, for example, you plan to wage a perpetual war, you can invest in military contractors before you announce your policy. After you announce your policy, you can enjoy significant profits at the stock prices of those companies skyrockets. Moreover, you can buy more stock if you plan to announce a policy of increasing the war effort.
This is one of the reason political offices are magnets to corrupt individuals. It’s also one of the reasons why political reform is impossible. Do you think somebody in a position to make significant profits is going to willingly curtail their own power and thus harm their profits? Of course not.
Vietnam taught the United States that fighting an asymmetrical war against an enemy willing to suffer horrendous losses is foolish. It’s too bad that the student didn’t pay attention to the teach:
Despite waging nearly 17 consecutive years of war and spending up to $1 trillion, the U.S.-led attempt to defeat the Taliban has left the insurgents openly active in up to 70 percent of Afghanistan, according to a BBC study published Tuesday. The report also found that a rival ultraconservative Sunni Muslim organization, the Islamic State militant group (ISIS), controlled more territory than ever, further complicating the beleaguered effort to stabilize the country.
Or did it? Even the simplest of strategists would realized that this war isn’t winnable with the strategy being used and would decide to either change up their strategy or cut their losses and pull out. The fact that the United States has suffered through this kind of war before and is still waging this one using the same strategy indicates that the higher ups want this war to continue as it has been.
In Nineteen Eighty-Four Oceania took great care to ensure the war it was engaged in was perpetual. Oceania’s government’s goal was to use the war to destroy any surplus wealth that might otherwise empower the masses against it. I believe that the government of the United States has a slightly different goal. It is taking great care to wage a perpetual war to keep the military contractors enriched. The wars aren’t about fighting any specific enemy. There is no victory condition. Its purpose is purely economic. If the United States did manage to crush the Taliban or ISIS then it would have to find another enemy to fight just as it did once Saddam Hussein was toppled.