‘Defund the United States military-industrial complex’


This 30 June 2020 video by Bernie Sanders from the United States Senate says about itself:

We Must Move Away from War and Weapons to Focus on Human Needs

I urge my colleagues to stop pouring billions of dollars into wars and weapons.

It’s time we listen to President Eisenhower and Dr. King. We need the courage to say NO to the military-industrial complex and start focusing on real human needs.

American taxpayers’ money to militarism or healthcare?


This 26 June 2020 video from the United States Senate says about itself:

Let Us Reduce Our Bloated Military Budget And Invest In Communities That Need It Most

Why are we spending more on our military than the next 11 nations combined?

I have a better idea: Reduce the Pentagon budget by 10% and invest it in the fight to finally end homelessness, hunger and poverty in the richest country on Earth.

From Senator Bernie Sanders in the USA today:

At this unprecedented moment in American history — a terrible pandemic, an economic meltdown, people marching across the country to end systemic racism and police brutality, growing income and wealth inequality and an unstable president in the White House — now is the time to bring people together to fundamentally alter our national priorities and rethink the very structure of American society.

In that regard, I have been disturbed that for too long Democrats and Republicans have joined together in passing outrageously high military budgets while ignoring the needs of the poorest people in our society. If we are serious about altering our national priorities, then there is no better place to begin with than taking a hard look at the bloated, record-breaking $740 billion military budget that is coming up for a vote in the Senate next week.

Incredibly, after adjusting for inflation, we are now spending more on the military than we did during the height of the Cold War or during the wars in Vietnam and Korea.

This extraordinary level of military spending comes at a time when the Department of Defense is the only agency of our federal government that has not been able to pass an independent audit, when defense contractors are making enormous profits while paying their CEOs exorbitant compensation packages, and when the so-called “War on Terror” will end up costing us some $6 trillion.

I believe this is a moment in history when it would be a good idea for all of my colleagues, and the American people, to remember what former Republican President Dwight D. Eisenhower said in 1953:

“Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.”

What Eisenhower said was true 67 years ago, and it is true today.

Will we be a nation that spends more money on nuclear weapons, or will we be one that invests in jobs, affordable housing, health care and childcare for those who need it most?

In order to begin the process of transforming our national priorities, I will be introducing an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act to reduce the military budget by 10 percent and use the $74 billion in savings to invest in distressed communities around the country that are experiencing extreme poverty, mass incarceration, deindustrialization and decades of neglect.

Next week, the Senate will begin consideration of this legislation which amounts to more than half of the discretionary spending of the U.S. government. That is why it is vitally important for you to join me now in supporting this amendment.

Let us send a powerful message to Mitch McConnell and the Democratic leadership. We need to change national priorities and we need to do it now!

Add your name to say you support a 10 percent cut in annual Pentagon spending to allow for investments in jobs, education, health care and poverty reduction in America’s most vulnerable communities.

Here is what the amendment would do:

    • Create jobs by building affordable housing, schools, childcare centers, community health centers, public hospitals, libraries, sustainable energy projects, and clean drinking water facilities.
    • Improve education by hiring more public school teachers to reduce class sizes, ensuring teachers receive adequate pay, providing nutritious meals to children and parents, and offering free tuition for public colleges, universities, and trade schools.
    • Make housing more affordable by providing rental assistance and bringing an end to homelessness.

    These funds would not be used for police departments, prisons or jails. It is time to invest in jobs and education, not more jails and incarceration.

    If this horrific coronavirus pandemic has shown us anything, it is that national security involves a lot more than bombs, missiles, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction. National security also means doing all we can to improve the lives of the American people, many of whom have been abandoned by our government for decades.

    In my view, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look not only at the size of the Pentagon budget, but at the incredible amount of waste, fraud, and financial mismanagement that has taken place at the Department of Defense for many, many years.

    Let’s be clear: About half of the Pentagon’s budget goes directly into the hands of private contractors, not our troops. Those same contractors have paid millions in fines and settlements for misconduct, all while making huge profits off of their government contracts.

    Furthermore, Congress has appropriated so much money for the Department of Defense that the Pentagon literally does not know what to do with it. According to the Government Accountability Office, between 2013 and 2018 the Pentagon returned more than $80 billion of its funds back to the Treasury.

    We cannot keep providing excessive funds to the Pentagon when millions of children in this country are going hungry and 140 million Americans struggle to pay for the basic necessities of life without worrying about going broke.

    Now is the time for us to truly focus on what we value as a society and to fundamentally transform our national priorities.

    Cutting the military budget by 10 percent and investing that money into communities across the country is a modest way to begin that process. That is why I am asking you directly:

    Please add your name: Say you support my amendment to reduce the Pentagon budget by 10 percent and invest that money in health care, education, and housing.

    We must never stop fighting for the kind of country we know we can become. Thank you for adding your name to our petition today.

    In solidarity,

    Bernie Sanders

Military-industrial complex gets billions, COVID-19 or not


This 21 May 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Why We Need To Cull The Military-Industrial Complex (with Representative Mark Pocan)

Former Desert Storm and War on Terror Military officer asks Congressman Mark Pocan why are we spending so much money on war?

Can Congressman Mark Pocan do as asked by US military member who wants to build an anti-war movement?

More military spending during COVID disaster


This 28 April 2020 video says about itself:

International Peace Bureau Response to the SIPRI Data on Military Spending

In a response to the new SIPRI Data on Military Expenditure for 2019, the IPB held a number of online press conferences. Here is one which was held by IPBs two co-presidents, Lisa Clark and Philip Jennings, as well as Distinguished Associate Fellow at SIPRI and former MEP, Tarja Cronberg.

Global arms spending tops $1.9 trillion as fight against COVID-19 is starved of resources. By Bill Van Auken, 29 April 2020. The continued spending of trillions on arms and war amid the present pandemic represents a crime against humanity.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

US consolidates its global position as world’s leading warmonger spending $732 billion on military in 2019

WASHINGTON consolidated its position as the world’s leading war machine, with a staggering $732 billion of military spending in 2019, 38 per cent of the global total, according to a new report.

The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) annual evaluation put total global military spending at almost $1.9 trillion (£1.5tn) last year, a rise of 3.6 per cent from the 2018 total.

Spending on war and weapons accounted for 2.2 per cent of the global gross domestic product (GDP) according to the global security organisation’s report. This equates to around $249 (£200) per person.

Pentagon covering up US soldiers with coronavirus


This 10 March 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Is The US Military Hiding Its Coronavirus Cases?

A military mom calls in with devastating news, her son stationed in Afghanistan is sick, but the military either won’t test or isn’t testing the troops for Covid-19.

What is at the bottom of the lack of testing for members of the military, are we keeping the United States military safe enough to keep America safe?

‘United States armed forces, stop honouring Confederacy’


This August 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

The Truth About America: Army Bases Around Nation Named After Confederate War Figures

Roland Martin and #NewsOneNow are going to expose the Truth about America. #TruthAboutAmerica will feature and expose the lies and half-truths taught in schools that still promote white supremacy.

Today’s focus on #TruthAboutAmerica exposes military bases named after Confederate generals who LOST the Civil War. According to the Southern Poverty Law Center, there are ten army bases named after Confederate generals.

From VoteVets.org in the USA today:

Add your name to our petition asking the Army, Navy and Air Force to join the Marines in banning all Confederate flags and materials, and to rename 10 Army bases named after Confederate generals.

ADD YOUR NAME

Last month the commandant of the Marine Corps, General David Berger, ordered a ban on all Confederate flags and materials on Marine bases.

Now, VoteVets is launching a petition asking the secretaries of the Army, Navy, and Air Force to join the Marines in banning Confederate symbols and requesting the Army rename 10 bases that bear the name of Confederate generals.

This isn’t about history — it’s about keeping symbols of hate out of our nation’s military. Soldiers of the Confederacy have a place in books, museums, and other educational centers that can properly teach – not honor – what they fought a war against the United States of America for.

If you’re with us, we need your signature on this petition today. Our military should not honor the Confederacy or those who decided to take up arms against the United States to defend slavery. Sign if you agree.

ADD YOUR NAME

These symbols have become rallying cries for hate, violence, and white supremacy. As the largest group representing veterans and military families, we have a unique voice to lend on this topic — so let’s send a message loud and clear.

Thanks for joining us,

VoteVets.org
ADD YOUR NAME

US Trump administration threatens nuclear war


This 7 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

Risk of Nuclear War Rises as U.S. Deploys a New Nuclear Weapon for the First Time Since the Cold War

The Federation of American Scientists revealed in late January that the U.S. Navy had deployed for the first time a submarine armed with a low-yield Trident nuclear warhead. The USS Tennessee deployed from Kings Bay Submarine Base in Georgia in late 2019. The W76-2 warhead, which is facing criticism at home and abroad, is estimated to have about a third of the explosive power of the atomic bomb the U.S. dropped on Hiroshima. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) called the news “an alarming development that heightens the risk of nuclear war.”

We’re joined by William Arkin, longtime reporter focused on military and nuclear policy, author of numerous books, including “Top Secret America: The Rise of the New American Security State.” He broke the story about the deployment of the new low-yield nuclear weapon in an article he co-wrote for Federation of American Scientists. He also recently wrote a cover piece for Newsweek titled “With a New Weapon in Donald Trump’s Hands, the Iran Crisis Risks Going Nuclear.” “What surprised me in my reporting … was a story that was just as important, if not more important, than what was going on in the political world,” Arkin says.

As more than 20,000 US troops and 20,000 military vehicles began to arrive in Europe for the massive “Defender 2020” exercise targeting Russia, US Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a war game at US Strategic Command headquarters in Omaha, Nebraska involving the simulated use of nuclear weapons against Russian troops: here.

The Australian government underlined its commitment to
the US war preparations against China last Friday by announcing a further $1.1 billion upgrade to the Tindal air force base in northern Australia, primarily to provide access for US warplanes, including nuclear-capable bombers: here.

Amazon, Microsoft fighting about taxpayers’ Pentagon billions


This 14 February 2020 video from the USA says about itself:

A big win for Amazon after a federal judge halted Microsoft‘s Pentagon cloud contract following a lawsuit by the e-commerce giant. Yahoo Finance’s On the Move panel breaks down what this means for the two companies.

By Kevin Reed in the USA:

Judge rules in favor of Amazon, halts work on JEDI contract by Microsoft

17 February 2020

On Thursday, a federal judge granted Amazon’s request and imposed an injunction that stopped work on the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure (JEDI) project between the Department of Defense (DoD) and Microsoft. The sealed opinion by Judge Patricia E. Campbell of the Court of Federal Claims found that the $10 billion contract award to Microsoft could not proceed until a lawsuit filed against the agreement by Amazon was resolved.

The selection of Microsoft as the provider of the 21st-century JEDI cloud computing and massive 10-year military contract came as a surprise last October, with Amazon widely recognized as the front runner. Until the decision on JEDI, Amazon had been the preferred supplier of ultra-secure infrastructure as a service computing technology for the military-intelligence apparatus.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) protested the DoD’s decision in a November 22, 2019 filing that stated “egregious errors” were committed during the process of selecting Microsoft. Amazon’s lawsuit also stated that the errors “were the result of improper pressure from President Donald J. Trump, who launched repeated public and behind-the-scenes attacks to steer the JEDI Contract away from AWS to harm his perceived political enemy-Jeffrey P. Bezos, founder and CEO of AWS’s parent company, Amazon.com, Inc. (“Amazon”), and owner of the Washington Post.”

The AWS filing, which argues that its solution was superior to that of Microsoft, further stated, “DoD’s substantial and pervasive errors are hard to understand and impossible to assess separate and apart from the President’s repeatedly expressed determination to, in the words of the President himself, ‘screw Amazon’”.

In response to the court decision, Microsoft Vice President of Communications Frank Shaw said, “While we are disappointed with the additional delay we believe that we will ultimately be able to move forward with the work to make sure those who serve our country can access the new technology they urgently require.” Shaw added, “We have confidence in the Department of Defense, and we believe the facts will show they ran a detailed, thorough and fair process in determining the needs of the warfighter were best met by Microsoft.”

For its part, DoD spokesperson Lt. Col. Robert Carver told CNBC, “We are disappointed in today’s ruling and believe the actions taken in this litigation have unnecessarily delayed implementing DoD’s modernization strategy and deprived our warfighters of a set of capabilities they urgently need. However, we are confident in our award of the JEDI cloud contract to Microsoft and remain focused on getting this critical capability into the hands of our warfighters as quickly and efficiently as possible.”

In addition to the injunction, the AWS lawsuit demands that the October 25 contract award be invalidated and that the DoD reopen the bidding process. The fact that the judge halted Microsoft from initiating work on the JEDI project is legally significant. Had the program been started, it would have been very unlikely that Amazon’s lawsuit would prevail given the costs associated with rebidding a contract that was already in process.

In imposing the injunction, Judge Campbell also ordered Amazon to earmark $42 million for future court costs in the event that Thursday’s ruling is determined to have been issued “wrongfully.” The company that ultimately wins out in this contract battle is expected to earn roughly $40 billion in federal government cloud computing contracts that will be awarded in the next several years.

As reported previously on the WSWS, the DoD JEDI program was conceptualized in 2017 as a secure global computing platform that will modernize the US military’s information infrastructure. Among the major concerns of the White House and Pentagon is that the US military—with a technology infrastructure that is from the 1970s and 1980s—is rapidly falling behind China in the development of artificial intelligence warfare technology that depends upon state-of-the-art and robust cloud computing capabilities.

It appears that Judge Campbell’s decision is in part an attempt to cut across Amazon’s court filings of February 10 that are seeking the deposition of seven “individuals who were instrumental” in selecting Microsoft for the JEDI project. Among those that Amazon wants to depose are President Donald Trump, Defense Secretary Mark Esper and former Defense Secretary James Mattis along with the DoD’s chief information officer, Dana Deasy.

The Amazon filing states, “While other individuals can testify about specific conversations he had with them individually, President Trump is the only individual who can testify about the totality of his conversations and the overall message he conveyed. Moreover, President Trump has unique knowledge about whether he had other, previously undisclosed conversations with individuals not previously identified, and who therefore do not appear on the deposition list.”

At the time of these filings, CEO of AWS Andy Jassy told CNBC that when a sitting president is very vocal and specifically dislikes a company and its CEO, “it makes it difficult for government agencies, including the DoD to make objective decisions without fear of reprisal. And I think that’s dangerous and risky for our country.”

The flare-up of a legal battle between Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos—the world’s richest individual with $130 billion in personal wealth—and President Trump, over a strategic military sourcing decision, must be seen as part of the broader conflicts within the American ruling class that were behind the Mueller probe and the failed impeachment of the president by the Democrats over foreign policy issues.

The competition between Microsoft and AWS for a $10 billion military contract shows that these tech giants—among the four trillion-dollar corporations on Wall Street—are willing and eager collaborators in the ongoing wars of US imperialism in the Middle East and Africa as well as the preparations for “great power conflict” with Russia and China, which include plans for the use of nuclear weapons, and pose a danger to the entire world.

There are many indications that tech workers at Google, Amazon and Microsoft are opposed to the cooperation of their employers with the US war machine. Speaking at the annual Reagan National Defense Forum in California on December 9, Amazon’s Bezos said, “One of the things that’s happening inside technology companies is there are groups of employees who for example think that technology companies should not work with the Department of Defense. I think it’s a really important issue, and people are entitled to their opinions, but it is the job of a senior leadership team to say no.”

Bezos concluded his remarks with, “My view is if big tech is going to turn their backs on the Department of Defense, this country is in trouble. That just can’t happen.”

United States soldiers fight Iraqi demonstrators


Demonstrators outside the United States embassy in Baghdad, Iraq, EPA photo

This photo shows demonstrators outside the United States embassy in Baghdad, Iraq.

Translated from Dutch NOS TV today:

Outside the US embassy in the Iraqi capital Baghdad, clashes have occurred for the second day between US security personnel and Iraqi demonstrators … outside the heavily protected complex to vent their anger over Sunday’s US air raid

The US Americans bombarded the demonstrators with tear gas and grenades in the hope of dispersing the crowd. An unknown number of people became injured, the Iraqi state news agency INA reports.

Hundreds of demonstrators spent the night in front of the embassy complex after yesterday’s attempt to storm the building. …

Yesterday, US Secretary of Defense Esper announced that the US is sending another 750 soldiers to Iraq immediately. Together with the 5,000 US soldiers already present, they are needed to cope with “the heightened threat” in Iraq, says Esper.

So, the extra 750 United States soldiers sent by the US Donald Trump administration to Iraq in today’s report are a lot more than the ‘few dozen soldiers’ in yesterday’s NOS report.

Trump’s air force attacks Iraq, Syria, Somalia


This 11 April 2017 video from the USA says about itself:

Does President Trump stand to personally profit off the wars he is escalating in Iraq, Yemen, Syria, Somalia and beyond? That’s the question many are asking, after it emerged that Trump has personally invested in Raytheon, the military contractor who makes the Tomahawk missiles used in the U.S. strike on a Syrian airbase last week. Raytheon’s stocks briefly surged after the attack. Overall, the stocks of defense contractors, such as Boeing and General Dynamics, have increased since Trump’s election, further fueled by his promise of a “historic” 10 percent increase in U.S. military spending. For more, we speak with William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy. His latest book is “Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex.”

Eg, Dutch daily Trouw reports today that on 29 December 2019, United States F-15 warplanes attacked Iraq, Syria and Somalia.

The attacks in Iraq and Syria were against Kata’ib Hezbollah, an Iraqi Shiite militia which had fought against ISIS; and was accused by the United States Trump administration of recently killing a United States mercenary contractor at a United States military base in Iraq. The 29 December attacks on Syria and Iraq killed at least 25 people and injured 55. Trump’s Secretary of War ‘Defence’ Esper said that he did not exclude that there would be more attacks.

Besides the three attacks in Iraq and two in Syria, Donald Trump’s Pentagon yesterday bombed Somalia, killing at least four people.