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"Every mistake by Washington is a boon for future arms sales," writes Van Buren.
The United States Is Open for Business in Iraq
Thursday, 15 January 2015 13:15
By Peter Van Buren, TomDispatch | News Analysis
The current American war in Iraq is a struggle in search of a goal. It began in August as a humanitarian intervention, morphed into a campaign to protect Americans in-country, became a plan to defend the Kurds, followed by a full-on crusade to defeat the new Islamic State (IS, aka ISIS, aka ISIL), and then... well, something in Syria to be determined at a later date.
At the moment, Iraq War 3.0 simply drones on, part bombing campaign, part mission to train the collapsed army the U.S. military created for Iraq War 2.0, all amid a miasma of incoherent mainstream media coverage. American troops are tiptoeing closer to combat (assuming you don't count defensive operations, getting mortared, and flying ground attack helicopters as “combat”), even as they act like archaeologists of America’s warring past, exploring the ruins of abandoned U.S. bases. Meanwhile, Shia militias are using the conflict for the ethnic cleansing of Sunnis and Iran has become an ever-more significant player in Iraq's affairs. Key issues of the previous American occupation of the country -- corruption, representative government, oil revenue-sharing -- remain largely unresolved. The Kurds still keep “winning” against the militants of IS in the city of Kobani on the Turkish border without having “won.”
In the meantime, Washington’s rallying cry now seems to be: “Wait for the spring offensive!” In translation that means: wait for the Iraqi army to get enough newly American-trained and -armed troops into action to make a move on Mosul. That city is, of course, the country’s second largest and still ruled by the new “caliphate” proclaimed by Islamic State head Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi. All in all, not exactly inspiring stuff.
You can't have victory if you have no idea where the finish line is. But there is one bright side to the situation. If you can't create Victory in Iraq for future VI Day parades, you can at least make a profit from the disintegrating situation there.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Jan 18, 2015, 06:54 AM (2 replies)
An Elephant (the US) in a China Closet (the world)
OpEdNews Op Eds 1/5/2015 at 12:25:45
An Elephant (the US) in a China Closet (the world)
By Joseph Clifford
Imagine unleashing an elephant in a large room filled with precious antiquities collected from around the world over the millennia. The elephant would destroy, smash, and break, priceless artifacts that had survived thousands of years. Now imagine the elephant as the United States as it conducts its foreign policy around the world. We have smashed, broken and destroyed, ancient civilizations that had survived for thousands of years. We have destroyed infrastructure, health care systems, and entire cultures, on our rampage around the world. Iraq, known for thousands of years as the "cradle of civilization" has been smashed to pieces, its economy destroyed, the rule of law is gone, and over a million people have died since the elephant began its stampede in Iraq. We are the elephant, and we did this to the birthplace of civilization. We reduced it to its present state of 50,000 deaths in 2014 because the elephant unleased the worst weapon possible; sectarian hatred, in a formerly stable country. Even the name and the boundaries of the former Iraq have been wiped from the maps of the world forever. Iraq as a nation is gone and in its place is a lawless, death filled, area of a now primitive society.
But the elephant is on a rampage and the he continues to smash other cultures and civilizations in that area of the world. Libya was "helped" by the elephant and Libya is now a failed state characterized by tribal warfare and a completely non functioning government. The elephant spent 2 billion dollars bombing Libya for 90 consecutive days, pretending to "help" the people of Libya. Government has all but disappeared, and rival tribal chieftains kill for control. The elephant did this to Libya. Mainstream media no longer covers Libya, but rest assured it is almost as bad as Iraq, and will only get worse as the rule of law continues to erode with no one able to restore a semblance of order. The French Defense Minister is now saying Libya is becoming a "terrorist sanctuary" and the weapons that flooded Libya are being sent to other nearby countries to be used in spreading more death. Libya, like Iraq has been destroyed, smashed, and broken by the rogue elephant, and Libya just like Iraq is no longer a country. Its boundaries will disappear in the next few years as the anarchy continues.
Now the elephant is rampaging through Syria, once again tearing that society apart and breaking all in its path. The rogue elephant decided to "help" Syria by getting rid of a leader the elephant did not like, and in an effort to rid Syria of the leader we don't like, we have escalated an already brutal civil war by flooding the country with weapons of death, and by bombing whomever we feel should be bombed. An estimated 76,000 deaths have occurred in 2014, and possibly millions have been displaced. The US bombing has slowed as of late because the elephant has run out of targets, but that won't stop the elephant for long. He will turn around and smash his way through already destroyed areas to insure total devastation. Syria in the next few years will disappear as a nation, and the same kind of lawlessness society will emerge where the rule of the jungle is in effect, yet another country completely destroyed by the elephant will be reduced to anarchy, death, and despair.
Under the guise of "helping", the elephant has completely destroyed Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and the elephant is not done his work. Two ambitious targets are still in the room with the rogue elephant. Already the elephant has the scent of Iran and Russia, and knows the road to Iran must go through Damascus which explains why Syria is being destroyed. Syria leads to Iran. Once Tehran is destroyed, the elephant can turn his attention to the biggest prize, Russia. The rogue elephant might just have met its match in the taking on Russia, for she too is a large elephant, and everything in the arena will be destroyed in the clash. Wake up folks. US foreign policy has been co opted by a group of sub humans who thrive on anarchy and destruction. If you believe the architects of foreign policy have just made ignorant mistakes your wrong. No one could be this stupid; this is all by design. If you don't make an effort to contain the rogue elephant you're going to be trampled in the great fight to come.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 6, 2015, 08:10 AM (1 replies)
ABC News | —
“ABC News’ Bob Woodruff travels the country examining new efforts end homelessness among US veterans.”
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Jan 6, 2015, 07:10 AM (12 replies)
Let's start with the basics: where does military money come from?
The answer is the discretionary budget.
What is the military doing that eats up 57% of all discretionary spending in the United States? This artist's concept illustrates where the bucks go in the US Navy:
An artist concept of USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000) and both variants of the Littoral Combat Ship using the Surface Electronic Warfare Improvement Program (SEWIP). Lockheed Martin image
First up: the USS Gerald R Ford
The USS Gerald R Ford is the first of a new class of aircraft carriers. The USS Gerald R Ford is the first Naval warship I can recall being delivered UNFINISHED. Yup, UNFINISHED.
Navy Aircraft Unfinished For Launch, Will Require A Billion Dollars More
9:29 PM 11/21/2014
A government watchdog report sheds light on the disaster that is the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier. Not only will the Navy carrier be incomplete at launch date, but completing construction will cost upwards of $998 million dollars.
The aircraft carrier stands at only 80 percent complete, according to the Government Accountability Office (GAO), which began the study at the behest of a Senate report. Not only have costs risen 20 percent since 2006, but the launch has been delayed a year. It was supposed to be cleared for a September 2015 date, but now has been pushed back to March 2016. Even still, some of the most important features of the carrier intended to separate it from older models will remain dormant while on display. Current total costs are estimated at $12.9 billion dollars.
“With the shipbuilder embarking on one of the most complex phases of construction with the greatest likelihood for cost growth, cost increases beyond the current $12.9 billion cost cap appear likely,” the watchdog agency said. Delayed construction, the Navy argues, is an effort to avoid going over the cost cap. Satellite communication will have to wait. Defects will be present, too, until almost a billion dollars more is spent to correct the errors.
Arizona Republican Sen. John McCain wasn’t buying the Navy’s statement on cost overruns.
Next up: Arleigh Burke-class destroyer
The Arleigh Burke-class of guided missile destroyers (DDGs) is the United States Navy's first class of destroyer built around the Aegis Combat System and the SPY-1D multi-function phased array radar. The class is named for Admiral Arleigh Burke, the most famous American destroyer officer of World War II, and later Chief of Naval Operations. The class leader, USS Arleigh Burke, was commissioned during Admiral Burke's lifetime.
They were designed as multi-role destroyers to fit the AAW (Anti-Aircraft Warfare) role with their powerful Aegis radar and anti-aircraft missiles; ASW (Anti-submarine warfare) role, with their towed sonar array, anti-submarine rockets, and ASW helicopter; ASUW (Anti-surface warfare) role with their Harpoon missile launcher; and strategic land strike role with their Tomahawk missiles. Some versions of the class no longer have the towed sonar, or Harpoon missile launcher. Their hull and superstructure were designed to have a reduced radar cross section The first ship of the class was commissioned on 4 July 1991. With the decommissioning of the last Spruance-class destroyer, Cushing, on 21 September 2005, the Arleigh Burke–class ships became the U.S. Navy's only active destroyers; the class has the longest production run for any postwar U.S. Navy surface combatant. Besides the 62 vessels of this class (comprising 21 of Flight I, 7 of Flight II and 34 of Flight IIA) in service by 2013, up to a further 42 (of Flight III) have been envisaged.
With an overall length of 505 feet (154 m) to 509 feet (155 m), displacement ranging from 8,315 to 9,200 tons, and weaponry including over 90 missiles, the Arleigh Burke–class ships are larger and more heavily armed than most previous ships classified as guided missile cruisers.
It's big, it's bad, and it costs $2 billion dollars.
Next up: Zumwalt-class destroyers.
USS Zumwalt (DDG-1000)
See also: Zumwalt-class destroyer § History
Zumwalt 's deckhouse in transit on 6 November 2012
Many of the ship's features were originally developed under the DD21 program ("21st Century Destroyer"). In 2001, Congress cut the DD-21 program by half as part of the SC21 program. To save it, the acquisition program was renamed as DD(X) and heavily reworked. The initial funding allocation for DDG-1000 was included in the National Defense Authorization Act of 2007.
A contract worth $1.4 billion was awarded to General Dynamics on 14 February 2008 for the construction of Zumwalt at Bath Iron Works in Bath, Maine.
Full rate production officially began on 11 February 2009.
As of July 2008, the construction timetable was for General Dynamics to deliver the ship in April 2013, with March 2015 as the target for Zumwalt to meet her initial operating capability. However, by 2012, the planned completion and delivery of the vessel had slipped to the 2014 fiscal year.
The first section of the ship was laid down on the slipway at Bath Iron Works on 17 November 2011. By this point, fabrication of the ship was over 60% complete. The naming ceremony was planned for 19 October 2013, but was canceled due to the United States federal government shutdown of 2013.
Despite rumors that the launch of Zumwalt would be delayed until early 2014, the vessel was launched from its shipyard in Bath, Maine on 29 October 2013.
In January 2014, Zumwalt began to prepare for heavy weather trials. The trials will see how the ship and her instrumentation reacts to high winds, stormy seas, and adverse weather conditions. The ship's new wave-piercing tumblehome hull configuration is made to reduce her radar cross-section. Tests will involve lateral and vertical accelerations and pitch and roll. Later tests will include fuel on-loading, data center tests, propulsion events, X-band radar evaluations, and mission systems activation to finalize integration of electronics, currently 90 percent complete out of 6 million lines of code. These all culminate in builders trials and acceptance trials, with delivery for U.S. Navy tests in late 2014 with initial operating capability (IOC) to be reached by 2016.
Here's what really frosts my ass about the ship.
in the last century battleships with 16-inch guns were king. Missouri-class battleships were the top of the line and they cost $100 million dollars each.
In contrast the USS Zumwalt costs $5.6 billion dollars each. That's 56 Iowa-class WW II battleships.
Last up: Littoral Combat Ships.
According the Navy's Bluewater program from the 90s, Littoral Combat Ships were supposed to cost $200 million each. LCS#1 (second from bottom) cost $584 million dollars, LCS #2 (bottom) cost $784 million dollars.
From top to bottom:
$12.9 billion dollars (UNFINISHED)
At least $1 billion dollars to FINISH
$2 billion dollars
$5.6 billion dollars
$1.2 billion dollars
$22.7 billion dollars ($22,700,000,000)
And we haven't talked buying ammo and aircraft for these things. Ka'ching.
Posted by unhappycamper | Tue Dec 9, 2014, 08:41 AM (2 replies)
Washington's ISIS War Drums: Do Stupid Stuff, Do It Now!
Who You Callin' An Organizing Principle?!?!
By William Boardman
General News 9/14/2014 at 15:10:49
As Hillary Clinton was widely quoted as saying recently, "Great nations need organizing principles, and 'don't do stupid stuff' is not an organizing principle."
Maybe others have pointed out that this is a pretty stupid statement, but that's far from the conventional wisdom. Think about the levels of stupidity here. Only "Great nations"? What, small nations don't need to get their acts together? And who says the United States is a "great" nation and in what sense is it great and isn't spouting a version of the American exceptionalism cliche just another way of doing stupid stuff? As organizing principles go, "Don't do stupid stuff" is a great place to start. Then all you need to do is figure out what's stupid and don't do it: like not voting for war in Iraq in 2002.
What does the aspiring President Clinton offer for her own organizing principle? In her book Hard Choices, she writes: "Making policy is a balancing act. Hopefully we get it more right than wrong." That means even less than "Don't do stupid stuff." That pretty much means: "we're bound to do stupid stuff but we hope we won't do too much stupid stuff."
Of course that makes good political sense coming from the woman who, as Senator Clinton, voted to go to war in Iraq. As if that wasn't totally knowable, in advance, as doing stupid stuff, really stupid stuff. That vote was a clever trap for intimidated Democrats, afraid to stand up to stupid stuff. Senator Clinton was not alone in that rush to war. She, along with Senators Kerry, McCain, Biden, Hagel, McConnell, Reid, and 70 other Senators, voted to support the administration lying us into that war on transparently dishonest evidence. It's kind of cute, in a darkly disastrous way, that these same wrong-headed people are again among those braying most loudly for more war now. It makes a sort of amoral sense, since today's mess is a continuation of the war they voted for because they presumably didn't think it was stupid stuff that would last more than a decade.
Like lemmings, our politicians are drawn to war and those fuckers take us with them.
Posted by unhappycamper | Mon Sep 15, 2014, 05:43 AM (0 replies)
Analysis Of Volunteer's Metadata Stream Reveals His Life In Detail, Allows Passwords To Be Guessed
from the not-"just"-metadata dept
by Glyn Moody
Fri, Sep 12th 2014 7:39pm
Three years ago, Techdirt wrote about how German politician Malte Spitz obtained six months' worth of basic geolocation data for his mobile phone. He then gave this to the German newspaper Die Zeit, which produced a great visualization of his travels during this time. That showed clearly how much was revealed from such basic data. Since then, of course, metadata has assumed an even greater importance, as it has emerged that the NSA routinely gathers huge quantities of it about innocent citizens. More chillingly, we also know that people are killed purely because of their metadata. But what exactly does metadata show about us? We now have a better idea thanks to the generosity of Ton Siedsma from Holland. He has allowed researchers to access not just the geolocation data of his mobile phone, but all of its metadata:
From one week of logs, we were able to attach a timestamp to 15,000 records. Each time Ton's phone made a connection with a communications tower and each time he sent an e-mail or visited a website, we could see when this occurred and where he was at that moment, down to a few metres. We were able to infer a social network based on his phone and e-mail traffic. Using his browser data, we were able to see the sites he visited and the searches he made. And we could see the subject, sender and recipient of every one of his e-mails.
That's very similar to the sort of thing governments around the world are now routinely demanding. Here's what the researchers were able to find out about various aspects of his life as a result. The basics:
Ton is a recent graduate in his early twenties. He receives e-mails about student housing and part-time jobs, which can be concluded from the subject lines and the senders. He works long hours, in part because of his lengthy train commute. He often doesn’t get home until eight o'clock in the evening. Once home, he continues to work until late.
Based on the data, it is quite clear that Ton works as a lawyer for the digital rights organisation Bits of Freedom. He deals mainly with international trade agreements, and maintains contact with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and a few Members of Parliament about this issue. He follows the decision-making of the European Union closely. He is also interested in the methods of investigation employed by police and intelligence agencies. This also explains his interest in news reports about hacking and rounded-up child pornography rings.
His social networks:
From a social network analysis based on Ton's e-mail traffic, it is possible for us to discern different groups to which he belongs. These clusters are formed by his three e-mail accounts. It may be the case that the groups would look a bit different if we were also to use the metadata from his phone. However, we agreed to not perform any additional investigation, such as actively attempting to discover the identity of the user of a particular number, so as to protect the privacy of those in Ton’s network.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Sep 14, 2014, 06:54 AM (1 replies)
Former CIA Lawyer Defends Torture in Der Spiegel Interview
By Eric London
OpEdNews Op Eds 8/27/2014 at 14:42:34
In the interview, Rizzo, who worked at the CIA from 1976 to 2009, declares that although the torture programs he approved "seemed harsh, even brutal," he does not regret his support for their implementation.
"I was certainly an architect of the interrogation program, even if I didn't originally come up with it," he says, adding, "I was the legal architect of the proposed list of techniques and played the lead role in obtaining legal approval for their use."
He goes on to tell Der Spiegel, "I can't honestly sit here and say I would have made any different decisions than the ones I made back in early 2002," even as he asserts, "I am confident that, If I had chosen to, I could have stopped (the torture programs) before they started."
At one point in the interview, Rizzo refers to an interrogation technique on the initial list provided by the Counter Terrorism Center that was "even more chilling than waterboarding." He claims it was never used.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Aug 28, 2014, 06:02 AM (0 replies)
Obama’s budding Cambodia Policy in Syria
By Juan Cole | Aug. 23, 2014
Former British ambassador to the United States Sir Christoher Meyer is advocating that the US and Western Europe stop advocating the overthrow of the Baath regime of Syrian dictator Bashar al-Assad and instead coordinate with it to move against the so-called “Islamic State,” which controls some predominantly Sunni Muslim desert towns on both the Syrian and Iraqi sides of the border.
The Obama administration is also talking about hitting IS in Syria. Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, says that the IS cannot be defeated without taking it on in Syria. For US fighter jets to fly over Syrian air space and avoid being shot down by Russian-supplied anti-aircraft batteries of the Baath government, the US would have to in some way coordinate with Damascus in this aerial bombing campaign. Typically this arrangement is made by sharing “Identify Friend or Foe” signal codes that the jets send out so that they can be seen as friendlies. Since the stated US position is that al-Assad should resign or be overthrown ASAP, such an arrangement would be, as Meyer says, “the mother of all U-turns.”
Meyer, however, is advocating not just a tacit recognition of strategic and tactical common interests with the Syrian Baath but an actual military alliance, which is unlikely.
British Foreign Minister Philip Hammond pushed back against Meyer’s amoral Realism. Hammond challenged the notion that you needed to coordinate with Damascus to do bombing runs on eastern Syria on IS positions. The foreign minister, however, is wrong about that. There would be a danger of setting off Baath Army anti-aircraft batteries unless there was at least minimal behind the scenes coordination.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 24, 2014, 06:24 AM (0 replies)
How Harper’s botched procurement crippled the F-35
By Jonathan Manthorpe | Aug 20, 2014 8:58 pm
Canada will not be alone in being raked over the coals for its low military spending when 150 heads of state and government ministers meet at the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) summit in Cardiff early next month.
Canada’s military expenditure last year, according to the World Bank, was only one per cent of gross domestic product, half the two per cent NATO target. But among the 28 NATO members, only the United States, the United Kingdom, Greece and Estonia have hit the target consistently.
But Canada’s military spending will loom large because the fate of Washington’s problem-plagued F-35 Joint Strike Fighter programme — at $1.5 trillion the most expensive U.S. military procurement programme ever — has become a token of the unwillingness of the NATO allies to march in step.
And among the NATO and allied governments having second thoughts about buying this all-purpose, “fifth generation” warplane, Prime Minister Stephen Harper’s decision to shelve the purchase of 65 F-35s — after a damning auditor-general’s report on the government’s misleading representation of the costs — is being seen as a fulcrum moment.
Posted by unhappycamper | Thu Aug 21, 2014, 08:20 AM (0 replies)
The U.S. Navy’s Most Expensive Warships for 2014
The United States has an impressive array of weapons systems, but it could be argued that none are as imposing as the U.S. Navy's warships. In fact, the U.S. often uses the deployment of these weapons as a "show of force" to intimidate would-be-aggressors into backing down -- and who wouldn't be intimidated by a veritable floating fortress in your backyard?
3. LHA 6 America -Class Amphibious Assault Ship
More importantly, this ship is an essential when it comes to transporting Marine Expeditionary Units and their equipment. In fact, it can carry up to 1,871 troops, in addition to its 1,204-person crew. The Government Accountability Office's, or GAO, estimated program unit cost for this titan? $3.4 billion -- and while that might seem like a staggering number, it's still not as expensive as the next two vessels on this list.
2. DDG 1000 Zumwalt -Class Destroyer
Speaking of dominating, the Zumwalt has a truly impressive array of weapons, including Advanced Gun Systems, Peripheral Vertical launch Systems, a number of missile systems, and a power plant that can produce 78 megawatts of electricity. This means the Zumwalt could be used for futuristic weapons like the Electromagnetic Railgun -- an extended range launcher that uses electricity to fire projectiles at 4,500-5,600 mph. More importantly, thanks to automation technologies, the Zumwalt can be crewed with 142 sailors. That's less than half of what's needed on traditional destroyers. The GAO's estimated program unit cost for this stealth destroyer? $7.3 billion. Expensive, but not nearly as expensive as the last ship on this list.
1. Gerald R. Ford -Class Nuclear Aircraft Carrier (CVN 78)
It's 1,092 feet long, its beam is 134 feet high, its Flight Deck is 256 feet wide, and it has a crew of 4,539. More importantly, the Gerald R. Ford is the first new design for an aircraft carrier since the Nimitz , and it comes power-packed with new technology. This includes: an electromagnetic aircraft launch system, new reactor plants that increase electrical power generation, and there's more space for Flight Deck operations thanks to a decreased island. Further, the Gerald R. Ford 's weaponry includes the Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile, Rolling Airframe Missile, Phalanx Close-In Weapon System, and it can carry 75+ aircraft. Clearly, this is one ship you don't want to mess with, and it comes with an equally daunting price: an estimated $12 billion per program unit cost, according to the GAO.
Posted by unhappycamper | Sun Aug 17, 2014, 08:53 AM (9 replies)