AfPak – Just Another Example of War Racketeering
A little while back I already read a very informative article that sheds some light on the US military situation and the war racket that of course continues under the Obama administration. I hope it will help the reader understand why I believe that the US military policy under our current administration is even more destructive than it already was. I will first cite some important passages that stood out to me:
Now that the much despised George W. Bush is out of the way and a more popular figurehead is doing PR for Dick Cheney’s right-hand military leader Gen. Stanley McChrystal, who is leading his second AF-Pak surge now, and with long time Bush family confidant Robert Gates still running the Defense Department, the masters of war have never had it so good.
Obama has now escalated deployments in the Af-Pak region to 98,000 US troops. So in Af-Pak and Iraq, he will now have a total of 222,000 US troops deployed, 36,000 more than Bush ever had – 186,000 was Bush’s highest total.
The amount of private military contractors deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan is rarely reported on in the US mainstream press, but a Congressional Research Service investigation into this revealed that a record high 69% active duty soldiers are in fact private mercenaries.
Although the administration is yet to disclose how many private mercenaries will be deployed in the latest surge, it is believed that the 69% ratio will remain in tact.
The Pentagon released a report showing that Obama already had a total of 242,657 private contractors in action, as of June 30th. 119,706 of them in Iraq, 73,968 in Afghanistan, with 50,061 active in “other US CENTCOM locations.”
Back in June, Jeremy Scahill reported on these findings: “According to new statistics released by the Pentagon, with Barack Obama as commander in chief, there has been a 23% increase in the number of ‘Private Security Contractors’ working for the Department of Defense in Iraq in the second quarter of 2009 and a 29% increase in Afghanistan….”
Plus, we must mention, the immense dangers of having private military contractors as 69% of our fighting force. For those of you unaware, private military contractors are hired from all over the world. Any former soldier, from any country, is welcome to come and fight for a salary – a salary that is often significantly more than what we pay our own US soldiers.
These mercenaries have a vested interest in prolonging the war, for as long as there is a war, they have a well paying job. So it is easy to infer that a significant percentage of these contractors will not have the US soldiers, or US taxpayers, best interests at heart.
Obama continues to feed this out of control private army by pouring billions of taxpayer dollars into shady and scandalous companies like Blackwater, who recently changed their name to Xe Services, because they destroyed their reputation by committing numerous war crimes in Iraq. A recent investigation by Jeremy Scahill revealed the extent to which Blackwater is involved in covert operations inside Afghanistan and Pakistan. In some cases, Blackwater is not working for the US, but were hired by covert elements inside Pakistan. When it comes to private contractors, the fog of war grows ominous, exactly who is fighting for whom is unclear. The crucial factor is who paid them the most that particular day.
I found that bold part quite staggering. It shouldn’t surprise one, but it was simply something I hadn’t thought through yet. Just imagine a scenario like this: The US military hires Blackwater mercenaries for a surge, but at the same time some other Blackwater sales person may have closed a deal with some Pakistani resistance group. Do you realize what motives are involved here?
Before this latest surge, there were over 123,000 US and NATO troops in the Af-Pak region, and 200,000 Afghan security forces, supporting the US effort. According to US intelligence sources the total number of Taliban and al-Qaida fighters in the region was estimated to only be about 25,000, giving the US led forces a minimum of a 12 to 1 troop advantage.
Speaking of fueling hatred toward the US, other than a huge troop increase, there has also been a sharp increase in the use of unmanned drones. The New Yorker reports: “According to a just completed study by the New America Foundation, the number of drone strikes has risen dramatically since Obama became President. During his first nine and a half months in office, he has authorized as many C.I.A. aerial attacks in Pakistan as George W. Bush did in his final three years in office.”
The unmanned drones have caused major controversy due to the high number of civilian causalities they cause. However, as the study stated, the Obama Administration continues to increasingly rely upon them.
So summing up these statistics, we have the most fierce and technologically advanced military force in history, vastly outnumbering what amounts to be a ragtag army of peasant farmers with guns, and our best option is supposed to be an increase in troop levels?
US soldier suicides are also on the rise. In 2008, 197 army soldiers committed suicide. Thus far in 2009, there have been 211 army suicides.
What we are witnessing here with such high enlistment levels during this economic crisis has many parallels to Germany in the 1930’s. Just like the United States now, the German economy in the 1930’s was devastated by an economic crisis brought on by Wall Street. With rising unemployment and poverty, German men turned to the military for income and health benefits that their family severely needed. With over 25 million US citizens unemployed and underemployed, over 50 million with no healthcare, and over 50 million living in poverty, military service is now a last resort for a growing number of desperate Americans as well. The record-breaking enlistment numbers are expected to continue to rise as the economy continues to decline.
According to these calculations, 30,000 troops for this latest surge will add an additional $30 billion to the annual budget, just in troop related costs. Also consider the price of moving fuel around, AFP reports: “Moving soldiers and supplies across the rugged Afghan landscape costs more than in Iraq, with the military consuming 83 liters or 22 gallons of fuel per soldier per day.” The Hill adds: “Pentagon officials have told the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee a gallon of fuel costs the military about $400 by the time it arrives in the remote locations in Afghanistan where U.S. troops operate.”
There was public outcry when Bush drastically raised an already bloated military budget to record highs. But in comes the admired anti-war candidate Obama, in the middle of a severe economic crisis, and what happens? Obama drastically increased Bush’s record budget to $651 billion in 2009. Yes, during a severe economic crisis, Obama actually increased Bush’s budget. US military spending is higher than the rest of the world combined. The 2010 budget, which doesn’t account for war-related spending yet, is already set to grow to $680 billion.
However, these budget numbers are deceiving because the Obama Administration has been getting better at hiding extra spending in other budget items. The actual total 2009 budget was over $1 trillion.
The article goes on listing many more wasteful projects and operations that all have but one objective: To pillage the public purse, to loot the taxpayers by as much as possible. I really recommend reading it in its entirety.
One philosophical fact that I do want to point out in regards to this: People need to understand what lies at the root of such gigantic excesses of madness. You can cry and complain and wag your finger all you want, but it’s all worth zero if you don’t consistently oppose the root of all evil: taxation and with it the government.
(And before writing me and complaining about my terribly blind trust in the market and my ideological opposition to government, please do me a favor: Read precisely what I am writing. Inform yourself about the facts and concepts involved. I always reference as many terms and concepts as possible to other parts in my blog where I define things in more detail. Think things through carefully before you talk! This stuff is way too important to have it be subject to arbitrary statements of fuzzy logic.)
War – The Perpetual Government Racket
It sometimes amazes me how people can fail to get this point: In a society with limited to no government it would be completely impossible to wage such wars. A free market would rule it out from the outset. No private business would embark upon the venture of war. Why? Because it is way to expensive! It is a losing proposition, a bankrupt business from the get go, a terribly unprofitable undertaking. Any business plan that would have recommended the invasion of Iraq would have been torn apart by prospect investors.
Why is this the case? Because private investors voluntarily decide whether or not they want to contribute money to a project. And they will only do so if it is profitable and feasible. Who in his right mind would commit to paying $2 trillion over several years without ANY profit whatsoever accruing to him.
(This is not to say that all considerations on a voluntary market are ones of financial profitability. But when it comes to bombing the hell out of villages with poorly armed peasants in tents, I think I can safely assume that the psychic reward one can reap from contributing to such an effort is rather negligible to say the least and can thus be ignored for the sake of this discussion.)
Now I can already hear the braindead among us crying: “But don’t you see?? It IS all private! Halliburton, KBR, Blackwater all lobbied to fight these wars and they ARE making a profit!!” Yes of course they are! But they are not INVESTING anything. They are on the opposite side, the cost side, the receiving end of the racket. They benefit the more the investors in this venture lose. My point is that no voluntary investor would fund this project to begin with.
So how is it possible that they managed to raise money for this insanity? Because the investor in this war is you, the taxpayer. And you have not been asked whether or not you are willing to pay this money. And even if you think you were through voting: No, you weren’t. Did anyone give you this choice: “If you would like us to send hitmen in green costumes and helmets over to a country that has never attacked or threatened us, kill those people who will obviously rise up in opposition, and on top of that kill around 1,000,000 innocent men, women and children via the help of clusterbombs and other new devices that we are planning on testing out, please mail a check over $10,000, made out to the Department of Defense. If you don’t, someone may launch a scud missle from the middle east that may hit your house. We realize the likelihood for this is slim or none, but you don’t want to take any chances, now do you?”
You have no idea how this venture operates. You have no clue what is happening with your money. You have no clue what you are actually getting out of it. For a simple reason: There is NOTHING you are getting out of it. Quite the contrary: You are getting more and more terrorist organizations popping up left and right. The best example was “Al-Qaeda in Iraq” which was formed after, not before the invasion. And this is merely one simple example. Anyone ignoring these facts is either blind or deliberately chooses to due to emotional/professional attachment.
(But let’s, for a second, take aside ALL the points I raised above. Let’s assume some private investor devises a war venture that indeed somehow turns out to be profitable. Maybe because there is a ridiculous amount of resources all concentrated at one spot and those resources are 1000x more powerful than oil and the people who occupy it are truly hated by virtually every person in the surrounding areas and the entire rest of the world. On top of that we will have to assume that it will be financially more feasible to launch an aggressive operation and take over the existing machinery, train people on them, etc. than to do something as simple as offering to buy out the existing operation, or even just sign a vendor contract and buy the resources on an ongoing basis … Don’t you think the investor would still think things through a lot more clearly for his, albeit evil, venture? Don’t you think he will try and expend as little money as possible on drones, tanks, helicopters, mercenaries, etc.? Don’t you think we will do everything humanly possible to not upset neutral residents in the surrounding areas so he doesn’t have to face ongoing insurgencies, wounded fighters, ongoing health care commitments that he’d have to pay for himself??
But for the sake of the opposing argument, let’s even assume he doesn’t get THAT part. And he indeed starts spending incredible amounts of money invested, trillions of dollars that would even bankrupt the richest men in the world many times. Let’s say now he has entirely pissed off everyone in the area and faces massive insurgencies, do you think ANYONE will lend him more money to CONTINUE this venture?? What if he incorporated as a publicly traded company to bring on multiple investors? Don’t you think this business’s stock would drop to zero in no time at all and force it through bankruptcy, turn its bonds into junk bonds, and dry up all access to capital markets?
Do you see how diametrically opposed his mindset will have to be when compared to a taxing government that is naturally being lobbied by people who will inevitably benefit from ongoing and higher expenses of the tax loot? So even IF war was possible in a free market, it would not remotely measure up to the monstrosities we see under interventionist markets, or at the very least not continue for years and years to come.)
The issue is always and everywhere the same: War is a racket, made by government. It happens to be the most monstrous and destructive racket to have ever existed. It is one that the Enrons, Worldcoms, and Madoffs of this world would bow down before in awe and admiration.
So long as you support the concepts of taxation, so long as you believe in the concept of a government and the system of interventionism, so long as you think that YOUR candidate will be different once in office, you can talk all you want about the evils of this world, you can wag your finger, cry out, protest, complain about this or that inevitable outcome. But you won’t accomplish a darn thing. You will be wasting your adrenaline and brain cells, and, ironically, in the very process you will be doing precisely what the biggest racketeers of this world want you to do: You remain a part of the machine.