A Geek With Guns

Chronicling the depravities of the State.

Archive for the ‘The Forever War’ tag

Freedom Isn’t Free

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 16th, 2018 at 10:30 am

Meet the Modern Military

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

November 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am

Spending Money to Make Money

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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.

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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?

Written by Christopher Burg

November 6th, 2018 at 10:30 am

That’s a Shame

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

June 13th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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Brining Back the Glory of Rome

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 7th, 2018 at 10:00 am

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War Is Good for Business

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 2nd, 2018 at 10:30 am

The War Is Not Meant to Be Won

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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.

Written by Christopher Burg

February 1st, 2018 at 11:00 am

America Had Always Been at War with the Great Powers

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America was at war with the great powers. America had always been at war with the great power.

US Defence Secretary James Mattis has said competition between great powers, not terrorism, is now the main focus of America’s national security.

Just like that the War on Terror has taken a backseat and America is locked in a conflict with the forces of communism the great powers.

This shift in enemies isn’t surprising. America has been at war with terrorism for over one and a half decades and hasn’t achieved victory. It has to be pretty embarrassing for the world’s most powerful military to be unable to declare victory against a bunch of desert peasants in tents after more than a decade and a half. So instead of continuing to declare those peasants public enemy number one, America is going to shift focus to Russia and China who at least match up militarily and therefore aren’t as embarrassing to lose to.

The important thing to remember though is that America is at war with somebody and you should therefore continue to believe that the federal government is the only thing standing between you and certain death.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 24th, 2018 at 11:00 am

Political Euphemism are My Favorite

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Politicians come up with a lot of euphemisms to make their decisions appear friendlier than they are. For example, when you break a law you’re not kidnapped, you’re “arrested.” When you buy a home you’re not required to pay rent, you’re required to pay “property taxes.” Furthermore, when the government steals from you it’s not theft, it’s “taxation.” But politicians are at their absolute best when they’re creating euphemisms related to war.

The United States of America hasn’t been in many declared wars since World War II. It has been engaged in many “policing actions” though. Likewise, the United States isn’t planning to occupy Syria, it’s planning to have an “open-ended military presence.”

The US will maintain an open-ended military presence in Syria to ensure the enduring defeat of the jihadist group Islamic State, counter Iranian influence, and help end the civil war.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said President Donald Trump did not want to “make the same mistakes” that were made in 2011, when US forces left Iraq.

The US has about 2,000 troops in Syria.

See? The United States isn’t making the same mistake it made in Vietnam, Iraq, or Afghanistan because it’s not occupying Syria. It’s merely keeping 2,000 soldiers in the country as an open-ended military presence! Think of it as the United States giving Syria a warm, friendly hug!

War is Peace! Freedom is Slavery! Ignorance is Strength!

Written by Christopher Burg

January 23rd, 2018 at 11:00 am

A Reasonable Response by Reasonable People

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Nuclear weapons provide humanity the capability to wipe out an entire city with a single missile. However, with the exception of the end of World War II, they haven’t been used in warfare. Each country that has developed nuclear weapons has performed a lot of test detonations to show the world how big their dick is but nobody has dared use them because they’re not seen as a reasonable response to anything other than weapons of mass destruction.

The Pentagon wants to change that attitude. Instead of treating nuclear weapons as an unreasonable response to anything other than weapons of mass destruction, it wants to treat nuclear weapons as a reasonable response to a list of other things including malicious hackers:

WASHINGTON — A newly drafted United States nuclear strategy that has been sent to President Trump for approval would permit the use of nuclear weapons to respond to a wide range of devastating but non-nuclear attacks on American infrastructure, including what current and former government officials described as the most crippling kind of cyberattacks.

For decades, American presidents have threatened “first use” of nuclear weapons against enemies in only very narrow and limited circumstances, such as in response to the use of biological weapons against the United States. But the new document is the first to expand that to include attempts to destroy wide-reaching infrastructure, like a country’s power grid or communications, that would be most vulnerable to cyberweapons.

The paradox of nuclear weapons is that they offer a terrible power but are only useful as a deterrent. If you have nuclear weapons and your enemy has nuclear weapons, peace can exist because you both have the power to wipe the other side out. Neither side will launch because it will result in their demise as well. But what happens when a nuclear armed country acts in an unreasonable manner? What happens when one decides to nuke a nonnuclear power? In all likelihood that nuclear power would be seen by other nuclear powers as unreasonable, unstable, and an imminent threat. Their fear could lead them to bring aggression, possibly nuclear aggression, against the unreasonable nation.

As WOPR in the movie War Games concluded, when nuclear weapons are involved the only winning move is not to play.

Written by Christopher Burg

January 19th, 2018 at 11:00 am