Monday, January 7, 2013

WHY WAR? WHO WINS? WHO LOSES?


Americans take comfort in believing that the wars we wage are justified, endorsed by God, and in support of freedom and justice around the world. As much as we want to believe that we have honorable motives it could be nothing further from the truth. 


Other than the 2 global wars (WWI-WWII) in which we actually waged war in self-defense, those in recent history were "offensive" wars waged because they are "cash cows"  a big money maker for those who invest in, and manage (not fight) them.

Wars waged for profit are immoral, if not downright evil. If we dared to be honest about it, making money off slaughtering human beings; some of whom we regard as our "national treasure", is unpatriotic and possibly treasonous.  

True Patriots willingly give to protect our nation when threatened without expecting anything in return. An example of this is WWII during which every American (rich and poor) contributed whatever they had to support our troops putting their lives on the line to defend our country from a real (not imagined) threat.  The majority of Americans were not in that war to make a buck; looking to make a hefty profit from the loss of life and destruction left in its wake. 

Times have changed and what rose from the wreckage of WWII is what we commonly refer to as the "military industrial complex" (MIC) a giant consortium of business enterprises that produce the stuff that wars are made of. And they do it at the expense of the American taxpayer from which they extract enormous profits. 

Comprehending why the United States went to war in Iraq or Afghanistan is mind boggling. Those who sold us the war said it was because of 9/11, yet the terrorists that attacked us, and their leader, Osama Bin Laden were Saudis , not Afghans, or Iraqis, and operated from bases out of Pakistan (both US allies by the way) after Bush/Cheney failed to capture Bin Laden in Tora Bora in 2001.

How did invading Iraq and Afghanistan fit into the equation? We need to only look at who would stand to gain monetarily far making war to find a logical explanation. Any other explanation defies logic. Why?

Watching the movie, "Zero  Dark Thirty"reminded me of why I believe we lost the war against Islamist terrorists before it even started. Simply put you can't win by killing people who glorify dying. They welcome death with open arms because of what they believe lies beyond the grave. Being a "martyr" is even more gratifying because it guarantees a "first class" ticket to paradise.

Wars in Afghanistan raged long before the US ever existed. Their people have a very long history of defending themselves against outsiders that go back as far as 330BCE.  We only need to go back in history as far as 1839 with the first British attempt to conquer these people to realize that we are in a losing battle, a la David and Goliath.

We also need to take into account that "blood is thicker than water" as they say, and that no matter how terrible the Taliban might be to us they are still much better to the Afghans than an occupying force of foreigners.

 Here is a look at the price, in both lives and dollars, that Americans and Afghans have paid over 12 years of war. 
$1.2 Trillion
The war in Afghanistan has cost the United States nearly $1.2 trillion -- or $1.172 trillion, to be exact -- since its inception in 2001 through July 31, 2012, according to the U.S. Defense Department.
According to a Pew Trusts report, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have contributed more to growth in U.S. debt than any other policy since 2001 except the Bush-era tax cuts and the increased interest from legislative changes.
4,012 Days
The United States has been at war in Afghanistan for 4,012 days, six days short of 12 years. Troops arrived on Oct. 7, 2001, less than a month after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.
2,000 Americans Killed
In the 12 years that American troops have been fighting in Afghanistan, 2,000 have been killed. The 2,000th death was reported in eastern Afghanistan Saturday and was suspected to be an insider attack by Afghan forces.
There has been an alarming uptick in these insider attacks on U.S. and NATO troops this year, with Afghan soldiers and police, who have been trained and armed by coalition forces, killing 52 U.S. and other NATO troops since January.
The most deadly year of the war to date was 2010, when 492 Americans died.
During the first nine months of 2012, 254 members of the U.S. military lost their lives in Afghanistan. A total of 549 Americans have died in the war-torn country in the year since Osama bin Laden was killed in May 2011.
17,644 Americans Wounded
More than 17,000 U.S. troops have been wounded in action since the Afghanistan war began in 2001.
As a point of comparison, nearly 30,000 U.S. military members have been wounded in the Iraq conflict since it began in 2002.
About 4,500 Americans were killed in Iraq during the nine-year war that formally ended in December 2011.
68,000 Troops
There are currently 68,000 U.S. troops stationed in Afghanistan. That's down from the peak troop level of about 100,000 who were stationed there in March 2011. By the end of 2014, most U.S. troops are expected to be out of the country.
About 40,000 additional troops from America's allies, such as Great Britain, are also stationed in Afghanistan.
13,009 Civilians Killed
According to the United Nations, more than 13,000 Afghan citizens have been killed between 2007 -- when the U.N. began reporting such statistics -- and June 2012.
Nearly 2,000 civilians were wounded in war-related incidents during the first six months of 2012. About 1,145 civilians were killed in that same time period, according to U.N. totals.


Offensive wars like those in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are many things to different people. To some they are called a strategic blunders and a monstrous injustice and sometimes even a patriotic mission, much to the chagrin of rational human beings. For neo-cons and many big corporations, however, war is something far different: a lucrative cash-cow. 
These decades -long, ongoing military efforts has resurrected fears of the so-called “military-industrial complex.” Media pundits are outraged at private companies scooping up huge, no-questions-asked contracts to manufacture weapons, rebuild infrastructure, or anything else the government deems necessary to win (or plant our flag on their soil). No matter what your stance on the war, it pays to know where your tax dollars are being spent.

The last ten years have seen massive growth in defense industry profits. In 2002, the combined profits of the five largest U.S.-based defense contractors were $2.4 billion (adjusted for inflation); by 2011, that figure had increased by a whopping 450 percent to $13.4 billion (according to net Income TTM data from ycharts.com for five largest U.S.-based defense contractors). This success applied both to companies with large civilian sections of their businesses and to those almost wholly dependent on defense funding. In short, the largest defense contractors have prospered to a degree that would have looked very unlikely just eleven or twelve years ago.

You can read the full article at

How about the people that run these companies?  How much of the taxpayer’s pie are they eating up? 
A Project On Government Oversight analysis of executive compensation at the top five Pentagon contractors – Lockheed MartinBoeingGeneral DynamicsNorthrop Grumman, and Raytheon – found that the average compensation package of a CEO at one of these firms was approximately $21.5 million last year, according to the firms’ Securities and Exchange Commission filings. Total compensation is the sum of base salary, bonuses, stock awards, option awards, incentive compensation, deferred compensation (including changes in pension value), and all other compensation.
·   The average worker in the U.S. earned $45,230 last year. These CEOs were paid more in an average day than the average American worker was paid all of last year.
·   According to a 2011 Congressional Budget Office analysis, the median compensation (including basic pay, allowances for food and housing, and tax advantages) for enlisted U.S. military personnel with ten years of experience was about $64,000. Thus, the Pentagon could afford to pay the salary of 335 soldiers with the money from just one top defense contractor’s compensation package.
·   The CEOs of these top Pentagon contractors are also making significantly more than their own workers. According to a Deloitte study, the average wage (just salary, not benefits) for the entire aerospace and defense industry in 2010 was $80,175. For the price of one CEO then, these firms could pay the salary of 268 defense and aerospace industry workers.
·   Even compared to other CEOs these Pentagon executives are making an enormous amount of money. An Associated Press study of S&P 500 CEO’s (i.e. the largest publicly traded companies) found that the typical CEO received $9.6 million in total compensation last year. Thus, the top Pentagon contractors could afford two CEOs with the compensation they’re using to pay their current CEOs.
·    

These five CEOs weren’t even the highest paid heads of Pentagon contractors. That honor goes to David Cote, the CEO of Honeywell, whose $35.7 million compensation package made him the sixth highest paid CEO in the U.S. last year, according to the Associated Press study.


Read the full article here


To get a detailed rundown of the 25 companies squeezing the most profit from this controversial conflict.

Read all about here

Another major change in how we conduct our wars is the man (woman) power. Since the end of the draft in the 1970's the military has had a much harder time recruiting people. Even after adding more females and loosening the standards of who to enlist there are not enough who are attracted to the military even among the ideologues and those who are unemployed, desperate, or destitute. 

The neo-cons quickly found the solution to the manpower shortage by creating a whole new branch of the MIC, private military contractors, (PMC for short) that used to be known as mercenaries in previous times. 
This "shadow" or privatized army is a war monger’s dream come true. Not only are these armies exempt from many of our laws regarding military conduct, but they can also turn a "profit". In short, American taxpayers are now not only supporting our wars but spending their hard earned dollars on those who are profiting from these wars. The greater moral travesty is that those men and women who serve in our armed forces are valued less (at least in monetary terms) than the CEO's and those employed in these private armies.

Peter Singer, the author of Corporate Warriors: The Rise of the Privatized Military Industry. "And since then, it's grown in size, in monetary terms to about $100 billion worth of revenue a year. In geographic terms, it operates in over 50 different countries. It's operated on every single continent but Antarctica."

Singer says three trends coalesced during this time that drove the industry's growth: the end of the Cold War, which led to military downsizing not only in the U.S., but around the world; a global increase in smaller conflicts; and the ideological shift towards privatizing government functions in general. The Pentagon's use of private contractors has increased dramatically between the two Gulf wars: During the first Gulf War in 1991, there were 50 military personnel for every one contractor; in the 2003 conflict the ratio was 10 to 1.


As one report points out;

“In 2007, private security guards working for companies such as Blackwater and DynCorp were earning up to $1,222 a day,” wrote Nobel Prize-winning economist Joseph Stiglitz, a professor at Columbia University, and Linda Bilmes, a Harvard University lecturer on budget and public administration. “By contrast, an Army sergeant was earning $140 to $190 a day in pay and benefits.”
Such comparisons are flawed, however, according to the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO), which provides economic analysis to Congress. The $1,222 a day that Bilmes and Stiglitz cite as a salary is actually a salary plus additional money that goes not to the individual workers but to the company they work for, to cover costs such as overhead, the CBO said."


Here then is the price we have paid so far in our Quixotic campaign chasing windmills in far off places like Afghanistan and Iraq;

According to a Congressional Budget Office (CBO) report published in October 2007, the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan could cost taxpayers a total of $2.4 trillion dollars by 2017 when counting the huge interest costs because combat is being financed with borrowed money by the Bush/Cheney gang. The CBO estimated that of the $2.4 trillion long-term price tag for the war, about $1.9 trillion of that would be spent on Iraq, or $6,300 per U.S. citizen.

The United States spends 58 percent of the total defense dollars paid out by the world's top 10 military powers, which combined for $1.19 trillion in military funding in 2011. With its unparalleled global reach, the US outspends China, the next-biggest military power, by nearly 6-to-1.

You can read the full article here; 


As with other "privatized" profit-driven entities as in the Military Industrial Complex there is absolutely no incentive to end wars or find ways to cut costs. Whereas much greater global conflicts,  (WWI & WWII) using my less technology and lasting 4 and 6 years consecutively these present day regional conflicts; much smaller and less lethal in comparison, will go on for decades with no end in sight. There isn't even a definition for what "winning" means in these conflicts. The Taliban, for example, are a small group of tribes holed up in a desolate part of the world and we fear them more than Hitler. How many years and millions of dollars did it take for us to capture one Saudi terrorist which was "Global enemy #1"? 

Winning is NOT an option to those invested in the MIC, or enlisted in the PMC. There's not profit in that outcome. And, as long as American taxpayers are naive and gullible enough to buy into the "boogeyman" they will continue to passively stand by and allow their hard earned tax dollars to be squandered in enriching a few slick scam artists like the Bush/Cheney team to steal and hoard resources that could better used in caring for our country and its inhabitants; especially the children, the poor, the homeless and all those less fortunate that make up the America we live in. 

Johann Wagener 1-7-2013
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