Posts Tagged ‘Antiwar’

War is just one more big government program

Posted on July 7, 2014 at 2.16 pm

My latest at Rare makes a fiscal case for cutting back the warfare state:

Consider the following:

  • What if I told you there’s a government program which will cost taxpayers more than Obamacare will over the next ten years?
  • What if that program was just one function of a sprawling government agency which has not been audited in two decades?
  • What if that agency was the third-largest contributor to our $17 trillion national debt, which breaks down to $55,000 per citizen?

What if the same agency wasted tens of billions of dollars annually on projects and goods unrelated to its mission? (Like a study on “whether men holding pistols are viewed as taller, stronger and more masculine than those wielding objects such as saws, paint brushes and caulking guns.” Or “a conference that included a session titled ‘Did Jesus Die for Klingons too?’” Or “research on what the behavior of fish can teach us about democracy.”)

  • What if it also regularly paid hundreds of times the market value for commonplace items?
  • And squandered billions more on outdated equipment which just doesn’t work?
  • And prioritized cuts in vital programs rather than big-budget flops?
  • And lost hundreds of millions to waste and corruption in foreign programs?
  • And destroyed valuable equipment rather than repurposing it?
  • And blew big bucks on cross-promotions with superhero movies?
  • And gave high-dollar contracts to companies known to engage in fraud—contracts totaling more than $1 trillion in the last ten years?
  • And built buildings which will never be occupied?
  • And reported to Congress that it simply couldn’t account for $1 trillion (yes, trillion) it had spent?
  • And yet it still plans to spend the equivalent of the entire GDP of Sweden on a single purchase over the course of the next fifteen years?

What if this agency regularly and intentionally doctored the books to hide these wasteful practices from taxpayers?

For any fiscal conservative, the conclusion must be that this incredibly wasteful, deceptive, and nonproductive government agency is seriously overdue for audits, possibly criminal charges, and huge—massive—ginormous spending cuts. Right?

Right.

That program was the War in Iraq. That agency is the Department of Defense. That spending is war spending. And the DoD does indeed waste absurd amounts of money on unrelated projectsgaloreincredibly overpriced purchasesobsolete weaponrypoor prioritizationnation-building projectsdestroying equipmentpromoting the recent Superman flickfraudulent contractorsempty buildingsunaccountable spending, and planes that cost as much as Sweden’s GDP. The DoD has been caught doctoring the books on a grand scale.

Yes, war really is just one more big government program: It’s costly. It’s wasteful. It’s poorly managed and rife with incompetence and fraud.

Read the whole thing here.

Soldiers & veterans say: Support us by ending the wars

Posted on May 27, 2014 at 12.31 pm

This week’s article, timed for Memorial Day, is about how much better this holiday would be if war were just a memory. “Support the troops” often gets thrown around as a meaningless catchphrase of thoughtless patriotism, but it’s worth noting that—according to many actual troops—supporting them means ending the wars.

“The hardest thing for me in Vietnam wasn’t seeing the wounded and dead,” said Johnny Cash after he visited soldiers in the late 1960s. “It was watching the big transport jets come in, bringing loads of fresh new boys for the war.”

The Man in Black’s comment captured a truth that couldn’t be overstated on Memorial Day: The best way to honor those who have died is to ensure that less deaths will follow them.

It is time America ends more than a decade of being at war.

It’s easy to pay lip service to supporting the troops. Politicians have this down pat, don’t they? Anyone running for any office, anywhere in America, can talk endlessly about how much they love the troops, yet the foreign policy positions they support often tell a very different story.

John Quincy Adams proposed that, “America does not go abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.” His vision for a non-interventionist foreign policy has not just been ignored; it’s been demolished. With anywhere from 660 to 900+ bases worldwide, our government today is constantly sending our military on monster hunts that are secretiveexpensiveendlessillegalimmoral and counter-productive.

Americans have had enough. Iraq is now viewed as a mistake by a majority and our long war in Afghanistan grows more unpopular by the day. Our war-weary country isn’t interested in intervening in places like LibyaSyriaIran, and Ukraine. On a broader scale, record numbers of Americans want our government to stop using our military to police the world.

More Americans than ever recognize that sending a new generation to fight and die in yet another unnecessary and ill-advised wars doesn’t support the troops or honor their memory.

Read the whole thing here.

Here are 7 reasons why drones are scary and awful

Posted on March 21, 2014 at 4.41 pm

Thanks to Rare for publishing my latest:

By now you’re likely aware that our government has an extensive drone campaign in the Middle East and North Africa. Targets are selected personally by the President using a secret “kill list,” and though drone strikes are currently on the decline in Pakistan, they’re unlikely to go away entirely (particularly in Yemen) during Obama’s presidency.

But why do drones get so much attention? Bombs and planes have been around a long time—what makes drones so special?

Here’s seven reasons why drones are such a big deal:

1. Drones offer scary new surveillance capabilities. People are pretty much a fixed size. You can’t make a manned aircraft smaller than the person manning it. Drones, however, can be tiny. Super tiny. The size of bugs, in fact. When it comes to surveillance (and potentially assassinations), this makes drones much more of a threat than manned aircraft. You won’t miss the chopper hovering outside your window; you will miss the fly on the wall.

2. Drone warfare is bad for the drone pilots. Dropping bombs by remote control allows drone operators to be thousands of miles removed from their targets. It’s inherently uncertain and minimizes the very real psychological cost of hitting the kill button. Said one former drone operator, “We always wonder if we killed the right people, if we endangered the wrong people, if we destroyed an innocent civilian’s life all because of a bad image or angle.” When the American military is already suffering from a tragic suicide epidemic, adding the psychological strain of drone warfare can only make matters worse.

3. Speaking of the victims, the ratio of civilians to terrorists killed may be as high as 50:1. In Pakistan, a major target for US drone strikes, as few as 2% of those who die by our drone strikes are high-level terror suspects. As for the other 98%, it’s difficult to determine who’s a civilian and who isn’t. That’s because the Obama Administration classifies every male from 18 to 60 who is killed as a terrorist, regardless of evidence. This “guilty until proven innocent” rule gives the President free reign—all while pretending that every kill is a success. Many of these men are simply poor farmers in the wrong place at the wrong time. Some estimates put the civilian to terrorist kill ratio as high as 50:1!

Read the whole thing here.