By Jason Pye
Perhaps one of my favorite Milton Friedman stories is when he was served on a presidential commission to look at military conscription. The Nobel Prize winning economist listened to General William Westmoreland, who was givening testimony before the commission. Here’s how it played out:
In his testimony before the commission, Mr. Westmoreland said he did not want to command an army of mercenaries. Mr. Friedman interrupted, “General, would you rather command an army of slaves?” Mr. Westmoreland replied, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic draftees referred to as slaves.” Mr. Friedman then retorted, “I don’t like to hear our patriotic volunteers referred to as mercenaries. If they are mercenaries, then I, sir, am a mercenary professor, and you, sir, are a mercenary general; we are served by mercenary physicians, we use a mercenary lawyer, and we get our meat from a mercenary butcher.”
By William Norman Grigg
Gen. Stanley McChrystal, former commander of NATO troops in Afghanistan, demands the re-instatement of conscription so that next time Washington commits itself to a needless foreign war “every town, every city [will be] at risk.”
“I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely be represented by a profession-al force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population,”McChrystal during a session of the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”
Of course, when those who presume to rule us decide to go to war, they don’t have any “skin” in the game; instead, they are gambling with the lives of other people.
“This was the first time in recent years that a high-profile officer has broken ranks to argue that the all-volunteer force is not necessarily good for the country or the military,” exulted Thomas Ricks of a neo-con think-tank called the Center for a New American Security in a New York Times op-ed column. “Unlike Europeans, Americans still seem determined to maintain a serious military force, so we need to think about how to pay for it and staff it by creating a draft that is better and more equitable than the Vietnam-era conscription system”:
“A revived draft, including both males and females, should include three options for new conscripts coming out of high school. Some could choose 18 months of military service with low pay but excellent post-service benefits, including free college tuition. These conscripts would not be deployed but could perform tasks currently outsourced a great cost to the Pentagon: paperwork, painting barracks, mowing lawns, driving generals around, and generally doing lower-skilled tasks so professional soldiers don’t have to. If they want to stay, they could move into the professional force and receive weapons training, higher pay and better benefits.
Way to go, Egyptians!!
US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton landed at Ben-Gurion Airport Sunday night for a two day visit. During her stay, Clinton is expected to meet with top level officials. Clinton arrived on a flight from Egypt shortly along with US Middle East envoy David Hale and Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman, who represents Washington at the talks between world powers and Iran.
By Tessie Castillo
What the U.S. government is doing in Colombia has not slowed drug trafficking, but rather, created millions more victims through fumigation and displacement.
July 9, 2012 |
Imagine for a moment that China, in an effort to reduce cigarette smoking and associated health costs among its population, declared war on U.S. tobacco production. Imagine Chinese planes flying over American tobacco fields, spraying crop-killing poison that destroys not just tobacco, but all vegetation, wiping out farmers’ livelihoods, displacing millions of families, and contaminating the environment. Such an act of hostility and disregard for national sovereignty would provoke, at the very least, military aggression from the United States. Yet, unbeknownst to most Americans, for the past 20 years the U.S. has conducted just such a campaign against Colombian coca farmers.
By Alexander Cockburn
Two years after he was sacked by President Obama as the top commander in Afghanistan for suggesting to Rolling Stone magazine that the real enemy were ”the wimps in the White House”, General Stanley A McChrystal has recycled a perennial chestnut: Bring back the draft – i.e. a conscripted army, not the volunteer army of today.
These days McChrystal teaches at Yale with what must be a protection unique in the annals of academic freedom. According to CounterPunch’s David Price, everything he tells his students is by contractual agreement off the record.
But he made his proposal about the draft in a public venue. McChrystal claimed:
“I think we ought to have a draft. I think if a nation goes to war, it shouldn’t be solely be represented by a professional force, because it gets to be unrepresentative of the population,” McChrystal said at a late-night event June 29 at the 2012 Aspen Ideas Festival. “I think if a nation goes to war, every town, every city needs to be at risk. You make that decision and everybody has skin in the game.”
It’s certainly true that the volunteer army is a mess. Suicides are surging among the troops. According to AP, the 154 suicides for active duty troops in the first 155 days of the year far outdistance the US forces killed in Afghanistan. The volunteer army also struggles with increased sexual assaults, alcohol abuse, and domestic violence.
Liberals like the idea of a draft army because they think it would curb any president’s eagerness to go to war. There are indeed sound arguments for a draft. They were put eloquently not so long ago by Bill Broyles, a Vietnam vet: “In spite of the president’s insistence that our very civilization is at stake, the privileged aren’t flocking to the flag.”
By Kevin Carson
We’ve seen another “patriotic” holiday come and go, and with it the same obligatory maudlin comments from local TV news anchors about troops overseas “defending our freedom.” Just like we saw on Memorial Day, and just like we’ll see again on Veterans’ Day.
Grade AAA, prime, unadulterated, 99 and 44/100% buncombe, of course. Soldiers don’t “defend our freedom.” They serve the state and fight its wars, and the state isn’t exactly interested — the understatement of a millennium — in our freedom.
Wars are started by states, in pursuit of their own agendas. War is simply another instrument of state policy, as Clausewitz noted 200 years ago. And the state’s policies are oriented toward serving the constellation of class interests that controls it. In case you didn’t notice, you and I don’t figure very prominently in that constellation. The Fortune 500, finance-capital and the military-industrial complex, yes. Us, no. As George Carlin put it, it’s a big club, and you and I are not in it.
So the wars the U.S. government fights overseas — and the soldiers who do the actual fighting, however sincere their motives may be — are fought mainly for the freedom of Boeing, Monsanto, Cargill, Blackwater, Halliburton, Exxon-Mobil, Sony, Disney and Microsoft. And to stamp out freedom wherever in the world it may threaten the profits of those companies.
Preamble: Who are We and What Can We Become?
The time has come to end our complicity in mass murder.
Our exposure of the Canadian genocide has simultaneously indicted the social order that gave rise to it. Euro-Canadian Christian society as a whole stands condemned in the dock alongside those persons who ran the Indian residential schools, sterilized and murdered children, spread smallpox, and dug mass graves.
By William Blum
I’m sure most Americans are mighty proud of the fact that Julian Assange is so frightened of falling into the custody of the United States that he had to seek sanctuary in the embassy of Ecuador, a tiny and poor Third World country, without any way of knowing how it would turn out. He might be forced to be there for years. “That’ll teach him to mess with the most powerful country in the world! All you other terrorists and anti-Americans out there — Take Note! When you fuck around with God’s country you pay a price!”
How true. You do pay a price. Ask the people of Cuba, Vietnam, Chile, Yugoslavia, Iraq, Iran, Haiti, etc., etc., etc. And ask the people of Guantánamo, Diego Garcia, Bagram, and a dozen other torture centers to which God’s country offers free transportation.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to torture Assange if they got hold of him? Ask Bradley Manning. At a bare minimum, prolonged solitary confinement is torture. Before too long the world may ban it. Not that that would keep God’s country and other police states from using it.
You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not be so obvious as to target Assange with a drone? They’ve done it with American citizens. Assange is a mere Aussie.
And Ecuador and its president, Rafael Correa, will pay a price. You think with the whole world watching, the United States would not intervene in Ecuador? In Latin America, it comes very naturally for Washington. During the Cold War it was said that the United States could cause the downfall of a government south of the border … with a frown. The dissolution of the Soviet Union didn’t bring any change in that because it was never the Soviet Union per se that the United States was fighting. It was the threat of a good example of an alternative to the capitalist model.
By Eric Alterman
Las Vegas Sands Chief Executive Officer Sheldon Adelson speaks during a media briefing in Singapore December 21, 2009. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash
If a Jew-hater somewhere, inspired perhaps by The Protocols of the Elders of Zion, sought to invent an individual who symbolizes almost all the anti-Semitic clichés that have dogged the Jewish people throughout history, he could hardly come up with a character more perfect than Sheldon Adelson.
An Israeli Border Police officer has been caught on video kicking a Palestinian child in the southern West Bank. The police have launched a probe into the incident, documented by an Israeli human rights organization.
The footage shows a 9-year-old boy walking down the road when a uniformed police officer runs up to him and grabs him by the arm, causing the boy to fall on the ground. Another policeman then walks up to them and kicks the screaming child.
After that, the soldiers let the child run away, and leave the site.
By Pat Buchanan
Sixteen months after the United States abandoned its loyal satrap of 30 years, President Hosni Mubarak, to champion democracy in Egypt, the returns are in.
Mohammed Morsi, candidate of the Muslim Brotherhood, is president of Egypt, while the military has dissolved the elected parliament that was dominated by the Brotherhood, and curbed his powers.
The military and the mullahs will fight for the future of a country that is home to one in four Arabs. The soldiers who have dominated Egypt since the ouster of King Farouk in 1952 show no willingness to surrender what they have long controlled of the state and economy.
From the Huffington Post
The Bolivian president and a Russian political leader have launched a joint effort to have President Barack Obama stripped of the Nobel Peace Prize.
As Forbes is reporting, Russian Liberal Party leader Vladimir Zhirinovsky released a statement Monday saying that the prize, awarded to Obama in 2009 for his work on nuclear non-proliferation, was hypocritical in light of recent missile attacks in Libya.
“Screw Uganda, guys: Nigeria’s a better backdoor!”
From Atlanta Blackstar.
In an effort to help it deal with the brutal violence of the Nigerian terrorist group Boko Haram, the Nigerian government has given the U.S. the authority to conduct strikes against the group on Nigerian soil with the tacit approval of the Nigerian government.
The communication between governments came by way of a letter from the Nigerian Embassy to the U.S. State Department, written after the U.S. placed three members of Boko Haram—Abubakar Shekau, Abubakar Adam Kambar and Khalid al-Barnawi—on its terror watch list. The letter states that should the U.S. make an effort to go after the targeted Boko Haram insurgents, Nigeria declares that its “innocent immediate neighbors should not be harmed.
The Nigeria Guardian called the move by Nigeria “a tacit partial surrender of the nation’s sovereignty to the United States of America.”
“While the facts contained in the Order are not in dispute, the Embassy hereby expresses its sadness that the Boko Haram episode has led to such a declaration,” the letter said. “The Embassy however wishes to assure that the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria is firmly resolved in its determination to bring an end to the destructive activities of this group. We shall continue our efforts in this direction with the active cooperation and assistance of our friends and allies especially our host government.”
By Pat Buchanan
In introducing his new book, Leo Strauss and the Conservative Movement in America, Paul Gottfried identifies a fundamental divide between neoconservatives and the traditional right. The divide is over the question: What is this nation, America?
Straussians, writes Gottfried, “wish to present the construction of government as an open-ended rationalist process. All children of the Enlightenment, once properly instructed, should be able to carry out this … task.”
For traditional conservatives, before the nation is born, “ethnic and cultural preconditions” must exist. All “successful constitutional orders,” he writes, “are the expressions of already formed nations and cultures.”
To the old right, America as a nation and a people already existed by 1789. The Constitution was the birth certificate the nation wrote for itself, the charter by which it chose to govern itself. The real America had been born in men’s hearts by the time of Lexington and Concord in 1775.
In a recent issue of Modern Age, Jack Kerwick deals with this divide.
Irving Kristol, he writes, and quotes that founding father of modern neoconservatism, saw America as “a ‘creedal’ nation, a nation to which anyone can belong irrespective of ‘ethnicity or blood ties of any kind, or lineage, or length of residence even.’”
“Either our ideology triumphs or another shall, neocons believe. We are in a world historic struggle for the hearts and souls of mankind.”
By Paul Gottfried
The latest bestseller by German economist Thilo Sarrazin, a former member of the Bundesbank executive board, is a rambling critique of the eurozone. His book Deutschland braucht den Euro nicht (Germany does not need the euro) tells you everything you might want to know about why the eurozone is collapsing.
The countries that formed the eurozone did not show the same monetary restraints or the same willingness to keep state expenditures within 60% of their annual gross national product, as was the practice in Sarrazin’s homeland. Given these circumstances, the only way that the eurozone would have worked is if all its members were integrated into a political as well as monetary union.
Since this did not happen, perhaps contrary to the present German government’s wishes, the signatories of 1992’s Maastricht Treaty gave their countrymen a deadly combination. Sovereign states were free to do with the euro what they wanted without having to submit to enforced monetary discipline. This freedom included raising state and private loans at low interest rates thanks to an originally solid currency.
“What’s inevitable is for the delinquent nations to declare bankruptcy and then return to their national currencies.”
This disastrous monetary union’s worst victims were the “south lands”: Spain, Portugal, Italy, and most egregiously Greece, which reaped disaster with the transition to a unitary currency. All of these countries depended on low production costs in their own currencies to maintain and expand exports. But once they began doing business in the same currency as their northern neighbors, they were at a disadvantage. As production costs have risen, poorer or less efficient countries have shown an increasing imbalance of trade in favor of their richer currency partners.