Congress Proposes to Increase Military Spending to $700 billion


Approved by the Armed Services Committee by a 27-0 vote in late June, the overall Senate bill provides $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Trump’s budget request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.

As their House counterparts did, the Senate bill rejects Mattis’ plan to launch a new round of base closings starting in 2021. He told lawmakers in June that closing excess installations would save $10 billion over a five-year period. Mattis said the savings could be used to acquire four nuclear submarines or dozens of jet fighters. But military installations are prized possessions in states and lawmakers refused to go along.

Any base closings? Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.

Are you kidding me? We have wars to fight, people to kill, money to spend, and jobs to protect.



That $65 billion in “overseas missions” is called the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) fund.

It is a separate pot of funding operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department, in addition to their “base” budgets (i.e., their regular peacetime budgets). Originally used to finance the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the OCO continues to be a source of funding for the Pentagon, with a fraction of the funds going to the State Department.

Since the OCO fund has very little oversight and is not subject to the sequestration cuts that slashed every other part of the budget in 2013, many experts consider it a “slush fund” for the Pentagon.

Details here.



Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots


The Air Force could recall up to 1,000 retired pilots after President Donald Trump signed an executive order aimed at addressing what the Pentagon has described as an “acute shortage of pilots.”

The order, which Trump signed Friday, amends an emergency declaration signed by George W. Bush after the Sept. 11, 2001 terror attacks.

Under current law, the Air Force is limited to recalling just 25 pilots. The order signed by Trump temporarily removes that cap for all branches of the military.

A Pentagon spokesman, Navy Cmdr. Gary Ross, said in a statement that the Air Force is currently “short approximately 1,500 pilots of its requirements.”

Any discussion about cutting back on the ambitions of its advocates, the global footprint, the number of missions, the empire maintenance? Nope. Just like every other function of government, it continues to grow.


U.S. on the Verge of Carrying out War on Terror in The Philippines

A. Trevor Thrall and Erik Goepner:

Here we go again. The United States is on the verge of carrying out military operations in yet another country as part of the war on terrorism. The Philippines — specifically the southern island of Mindanao — may soon become the latest target of the world’s busiest and most powerful military. The goal will apparently be to strike Islamic State elements that “could be a threat to allies in the region.”


Why is this a problem?

The strikes would further erode America’s moral credibility by putting American firepower in service to a thuggish regime. Rodrigo Duterte, the Philippines’ president, has boasted about personally carrying out extrajudicial killings during his time as a mayor. The killings have grown with his political power. Amnesty International reports that Duterte has approved thousands of extrajudicial killings since he assumed the presidency.

On the Eve of the Holocaust, Americans Rejected Jewish Refugees

The presidential administration of Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) refused to accept Jewish refugees from Europe.

One dark period came on the eve of World War II, when the Roosevelt administration refused to accept Jewish refugees fleeing fascism, war, and ultimately extermination.

The story of how the government rejected Jews fleeing Hitler is a horrible and tragic episode in American history. There are many chapters.

Navy shows off its $4.4B warship of the future

The Navy gave a first look inside the stealthy and futuristic Zumwalt destroyer on Friday during the ship’s first port stop at a Rhode Island naval station.

The 610-foot-long warship has an angular shape to minimize its radar signature and cost more than $4.4 billion. It’s the most expensive destroyer built for the Navy.

. . .

The ship is named after the late Adm. Elmo “Bud” Zumwalt, who earned the Bronze Star in World War II and commanded small boats that patrolled the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. He became the youngest chief of naval operations and earned a reputation as a reformer, who fought racism and sexism.

Aside from all the sentimentality, is this really necessary? Oh yes, we have to forever commemorate WW II vets and someone who fought racism and sexism to boot.

We’ll be paying for these things for the rest of our lives.


ISIS and the Endless War in the Middle East

Ever take a step back from the hubbub of the terrorist news and ask yourself why it started and if there is another approach?

Retired army colonel Andrew J. Bacevich discussed his new book America’s War for the Greater Middle East:A Military History and he argues that President Jimmy Carter used the occasion of his State of the Union address to designate the Persian Gulf a vital U.S. national security interest, meaning it became a place that we would fight for.

I’m not singling out President Carter as the source of the problem. After all, both parties embraced the opportunity for war there since then. By Mr. Bacevich’s count, the US has participated in four Gulf Wars over the past forty years.

Yet the actual purpose has been far more ambitious in my view. We have made things worse—at very considerable cost to ourselves and to others. The real mission has been to sustain the claims of American exceptionalism that have long since become central to our self-identity—to bring into compliance with American purposes the revolutionaries, warlords, terrorists, despots, or bad actors of various stripes given to defiance.

. . .

U.S. forces have been in action every where from Iran and Iraq, Lebanon and Libya, Somalia and Sudan, Bosnia and Kosovo, Afghanistan and Pakistan. . .

. . .

Along the way, we tried overwhelming force, and shock and awe. We invaded, occupied, and took a stab at nation-building. We experimented with counterinsurgency and counter-terrorism, regime change and decapitation, peacekeeping and humanitarian intervention, retaliatory strikes and preventive attack, even something that the Air Force called “air occupation.” U.S.forces operated overtly, covertly, and through proxies. Almost certainly, they went places and did things about which we, the American public, today remain in the dark.

If you’ve heard any of these phrases before, now you know what its been part of.