Summer Quarterly 2018
A revised Pentagon report on the effects of climate change on US defense infrastructure removed all but one reference to climate change. The January 2018 report, “Department of Defense Climate-Related Risk to DoD Infrastructure: Initial Screening Level Vulnerability Assessment Survey” (SLVAS), was supposed to outline the threats posed by climate change to military bases, ports and outposts. But the revised report kept only one reference to climate change out of the original report’s 23. The revision also removed a critical map showing military sites that are vulnerable to sea level rise. Rising seas are especially threatening to Naval Station Norfolk, in Virginia, which floods frequently, and to a multi-billion dollar anti-ballistic missile test site in the Marshall Islands. The report also deleted its prior admission that high heat days will have an effect on training. —Sources: Weather.com, May 11, 2018; and DoD Office of Economic Adjustment’s SLVAS, Feb. 23, 2018
Summer Quarterly 2018
An angry editorial a recent edition of the Albuquerque Journal is worth quoting at length. “How many billions-with-a-‘b’ of your tax dollars is the federal government willing to waste on bad nuclear decisions? It’s in the tens of billions already, with the meter in overdrive….
“[T]here are real questions about whether the US really needs 80 new [plutonium bomb] pits for an estimated $1.4 trillion-with-a-‘t.’ The magic 80 number comes from an Obama-era vast weapons modernization make-work plan, and Trump is expected to up that ante. Yet, the United States already has 12,000 spare pits and, in storage, those ‘have credible minimum lifetimes in excess of 100 years,’ according to an independent advisory panel cited in The Economist. Making pits also produces a lot of waste, and as mentioned above, the nation can’t dispose of the metric tons it already has—more than 70,000 metric tons of used reactor fuel is in temporary facilities in 39 states and 55 metric tons of surplus weapons-grade plutonium is in bunkers at the Energy Department’s Pantex warhead assembly-disassembly plant outside Amarillo and in an old reactor building at the Savannah River Site.…”
—Albuquerque Journal, Editorial, June 5, 2018
Summer Quarterly 2018
Several Democrats in Congress tried to cancel the Long Range Stand-Off missile (LRSO), a so-called “low-yield” nuclear weapon estimated by the Government Accounting Office to cost at least $30 billion. “We are inalterably opposed to it,” Rep. Adam Smith, D-Wash., told reporters. “Talk of ‘low-yield’ H-bombs makes people start calculating: ‘… maybe we’ll have a small nuclear exchange and that will be OK,’” Smith said, “but our deterrence policy has to be: ‘No nukes under any circumstances.’” Former Sec. of Defense William Perry has rejected the LRSO earlier, writing in the Washington Post, “The US does not need to arm its bombers with a new generation of nuclear-armed cruise missiles,” and demanding, “Mr. President, kill the new cruise missile.” Rep. Smith has also sponsored a bill requiring a nuclear no-first-use policy which is stuck in committee (H.R.669 of 2017). Likewise, California Sen. Diane Feinstein, ranking Democrat on the Senate Sub-committee on Energy and Water Development, voiced opposition to a $65 million appropriation for a new so-called “low-yield” sea-launched nuclear missile. “I cannot support a new nuclear weapon,” she said. “Quite frankly, I don’t believe there’s anything such as a limited nuclear war. I don’t see any reason to develop new low-yield weapons. Once a nuclear weapon is used, by any country against any target, I believe it’s Armageddon, and it’s the end of us.” —Defense News online, May 23 & 24, 2018; New York Times, Sept. 30, 2016; Washington Post, Oct. 15, 2015
By John LaForge
Are the federal taxes coming out of your wages and due this week killing you? Sadly what’s rhetorical for US tax payers is gravely literal for people of eight countries currently on the shooting end of the US budget.
This year at least 47% of federal income taxes goes to the military (27%, or $857 billion, for today’s bombings and occupations, weapons, procurement, personnel, retiree pay & healthcare, Energy Dept. nuclear weapons, Homeland Security, etc.); and 20%, or $644 billion, for past military bills (veterans’ benefits — $197 billion, and 80% of the interest on the national debt — $447 billion).
A ceasefire, drawdown and retreat from the country’s unwinnable wars would reduce this tax burden, and didn’t the president promise to end the foreign “nation-building” that’s breaking the bank? Of course, that was a Trump promise, so:
Seven US airmen were killed on March 15 when a US Pave Hawk helicopter crashed in western Iraq, with 5,200 soldiers and as many contract mercenaries fighting there.
When VP Mike Pence visited Afghanistan last December he said with perfect meaninglessness: “we are here to see this through.” About 11,000 US soldiers are currently seeing it, and the Pentagon will be sending thousands more this spring. US bombing runs have almost tripled since the Obama/Trump handover, and Pence claimed “we’ve put the Taliban on the defensive” — but during Pentagon chief Jim Mattis’s visit the Taliban shot dozens of rockets at the Kabul airport where the general’s plane was parked.
In Syria, dozens of Russian soldiers were killed Feb. 7 and 8 by US-led forces fighting near Al Tabiyeh. Master Sgt. Jonathan J. Dunbar was killed by an IED blast March 29 in Manbij. The US now has about 2,000 soldiers at war in Syria, and in January then Sec. of State Rex Tillerson promised they will be there long after the war with the Islamic State is over. Although Trump said March 29, “we’ll be coming out of Syria, like, very soon,” Pentagon officials leaked news April 2 that dozens of additional troops will be sent in soon, CNN reported. The United States’ World War could hardly be more confounding or self-defeating as US ally Turkey has begun bombing US-supported Kurdish fighters inside Syria.
The 16-year-old war in Afghanistan is now broadly understood to be militarily unwinnable, so a ceasefire and withdrawal would be a quick way to save billions of tax dollars. But US B-52s bombers flying from Minot Air Base in North Dakota are still creating new terrorists every day; the 3,900 US bombs and missiles exploded on the country in 2017 caused countless of civilian casualties.
In Pakistan January 25, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs charged that remote-controlled US bombing had targeted an Afghan refugee camp, worsening relations with that government even beyond Trump’s cutoff of “security aid.”
Saudi Arabian aircraft, refueled en route by US tanker aircraft, have killed 4,000 civilians in Yemen, according to UN estimates. Suspending arms sales to the Saudis would end its war and begin to alleviate the Saudi-made humanitarian disaster in Yemen, and a cease-fire and stand-down would allow for the urgent relief required to prevent famine.
An end to today’s US bombing and/or military occupation of eight countries — Syria, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq (all ongoing), Somalia (bombed Apr. 1), Libya (8 airstrikes since Jan. 2017), Niger (Oct. 4 battle, four dead; 500 US soldiers in country, now with armed drones), and Yemen (127 bomber & drone strikes in 2017) — would save billions, save lives, slow the wartime creation of terrorists, and reduce anti-US sentiment everywhere. In January, an extensive Gallop survey found 70% of the people interviewed in 134 countries disapprove of US foreign policy — 80% in Canada, 82% in Mexico.
To paraphrase Dr. King, who was assassinated by the FBI 50 years ago this month (“Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King,” by William F. Pepper, 1995, Carroll & Graf Publishers): “The great initiative in these wars is ours. The initiative to stop them must be ours.”