27 April 2016

Is Money a Critical Strategic Node in the War on Terror?

One of the more bizarre strategies in the Global War on Terror is the bombing of ISIS money depots in Syria in conjunction with using the “soft" power of the international financial system to interdict the money flowing to terrorists around the world.  
As Andrew Cockburn notes below, Colin Powell summed up what has become a whacky strategic obsession by saying, “money is the oxygen of terrorism."  In airpower lexicon, money is a critical strategic node for the terrorists, just as airpower theorists believed that the ball bearing works in Schweinfurt were a strategic critical node sustaining Germany’s war effort in WWII.  The ball bearing bombing theory of collapsing German military power turned out to be flawed in practice for a variety of reasons, but at least the ball bearing factories, if not the stockpiles, could be located.  
Where are the money nodes and what happens if you block or stifle the flow of the oxygen?
As the Panama banking caper points out, money is the most easily hidden, easily moved, and most fungible commodity ever invented.  Ascertaining the strategic effects of bombing money depots is about as reliable as a swami’s predictions from a ouija board.  Moreover, in the real world, interdicting money flows, as Cockburn explains below, is a blunt unfocused weapon of mass punishment that blindly impoverishes innocent people, thereby blowing back to create more fertile conditions for the breeding of new terrorists.  
Moreover, as Mike Lofgren — the author of the important book, The Deep State: The Fall of the Constitution and the Rise of a Shadow Government — pointed out to me, the idea of precision financial attack on ISIS’s money depots and money flows is simply subset of policy that has been occurring mainly since 9/11. The larger policy of financially sanctioning countries’ governments goes back at least 60 years (against North Korea), and it has never worked. Cuba is a poster child for this policy: if a resource poor island immediately adjacent to the US could not be “defeated” in over 50 years by sanctions, how will they work against Middle Eastern terrorists, especially those who specialize in living off the enemy?

The real oxygen of terrorism lies in the breeding ground of impoverished political, economic and unfair social conditions, as the Lebanese author Rami Koury, among others, have repeatedly argued.
I urge you to read Cockburn’s important and well-researched report “A Policy of Hypocrisy,” attached herewith.

HEART OF EMPIRE — April 26, 2016, 5:07 pm
A Policy of Hypocrisy
Trump wants to cut off Mexicans’ money? That’s what the Obama Administration already does to Somalis.
By Andrew Cockburn, Harpers
In April, Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump revealed to voters his plan to compel Mexico to pay for the construction of a wall on the southern border of the United States: he’d regulate wire transfers so that people living in America couldn’t send money to their Mexican relatives—a practice, Trump argued, that costs the country’s economy $24 billion every year. Upon hearing this plan, Barack Obama was poised and ready to set Trump right. “The notion that we’re going to track every Western Union bit of money that’s being sent to Mexico—good luck with that,” he told reporters at the White House this month. Such a sage observation certainly highlights the intellectual gulf between the crass billionaire and our professorial chief executive; but were Trump better informed, he could point out that the Obama Administration is itself already in the remittance-blocking business.
Trump could point to Somalis in the United States who are restricted from sending money to relatives and friends in desperate need. “Somalia is still recovering from the 2011 drought yet is currently experiencing another catastrophe,” Minnesota Congressman Keith Ellison, thousands of whose constituents send money home, told me. “Current restrictions have capped the amount of money Somali-Americans can send and have made remitting money more expensive. Oftentimes these funds are the sole source of income for their families in Somalia. I’d say it’s a pretty big issue. In fact, it can be life or death.”
Two-fifths of Somalis depend on money from the vast diaspora scattered across the globe by decades of war and famine—money that accounts for as much as 45 percent of the country’s GDP. Despite ongoing civic disruption, Somalia has a remarkably efficient communications system that should make it easy for expatriates to send money to relatives. Thanks to mostly Somali-owned Money Transfer Offices, which move funds through banks in the United States and the Gulf, even remote areas of the country have speedy access to financial support. This becomes especially important in times of famine, when those who can normally sustain themselves are in urgent need.
None of this is to the taste of the vast U.S. government apparatus erected since 9/11 to detect and choke off the movement of any money that might benefit terrorists. … continued.

26 April 2016

Pentagon Gong Show

Popinjay Military

It should be clear that the Global War on Terror (GWOT) launched by George W. Bush and perpetuated by Barack Obama is a bust.  It is now the longest war in US history; it is now the second most expensive war in US history; and there is no light at the end of the tunnel.  
Yet despite the GWOT’s astronomical cost, forces deployed and combat tempos are minuscule when compared the those of the far lower cost Viet Nam War.  Nevertheless, the top uniformed and civilian officials in the Pentagon are whining to Congress that these tepid tempos have created a looming readiness crisis. They assert the relatively small cutbacks in the future growth implied by the budget caps of Budget Control Act of 2011 to what is by far the largest defense budget in the world is now the “gravest strategic danger” facing the United States!
A logical person, living in a sane world, would think that the GWOT, its high cost, its clearly broken nature, and the huge size of the defense budget would be major issues in the 2016 Presidential election.  But the presidential candidates and the mainstream media, like the Pentagon, are silent on this surreal travesty.  Indeed, the pathologies of the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex (MICC) are as much off limits in contemporary political discourse as is foul language is at holy communion. 
In part, that is due to the fact that lots of people and a substantial part of our nation’s economy are benefitting — i.e., the are becoming rich and powerful — from living off the MICC’s degenerating status quo. One metric of this obscene transfer wealth can be seen in the proliferation of MICC-related “McMansions” in and around Versailles on the Potomac.  Sustaining the money flow through the MICC requires ornaments of success to compensate for and distract attention from its glittering if depressing reality.  The proliferation of American flags in politicians lapels and on car bumpers, suggesting uncritical patriotism and triumphalism, is one example.  Fantasies dressed up in powerpoint briefings about ever emerging technical revolutions, implying the future will be different from the past, are yet other examples of how ornaments prop up a dysfunctional reality in contemporary discourse.  
My long time friend and partner in crime, James P. Stevenson, has just written an essay analyzing yet another, little examined set of visual aids propping up the surrealism of the MICC.  His subject is the proliferation of glittering “been there, done that” decorations now adorning the chests our senior military officers.  
Jim proves his point (1) by making an elegantly simple comparison of the gongs adorning the chests of today’s generals to those that adorned the chests of the World War II generals — a war which historians may remember as our last “successful” war (thanks in large part to the enormous contributions of the Soviet Union) and (2) by showing how today’s gong show highlights individual careerism and vanity while degrading the recognition of heroism and self sacrifice.  
To be sure, as Jim is at pains to point out, gong proliferation did not begin with the GWOT, but it has grown over time.  But I would add, like the MICC (and the MICC’s McMansions), which also evolved slowly and insensibly over time, gong proliferation, especially in the highest ranks, metastasized during the GWOT. 
Attached herewith is Stevenson’s handiwork — think of it as yet another metaphor for the Defense Death Spiral and yet another canary in the coal mine warning us of decay within.

It’s Hard to Tell War Heroes From Paper-Pushers When Everybody Gets So Many Dumb Ribbons
Time to reform the Pentagon’s award system
by JAMES PERRY STEVENSON, War is Boring, 25 April 2016
There has been a jarring addition to U.S. military uniforms since the end of World War II. Seventy years ago, high-ranking officers wore relatively few ribbons or medalsand awards for valor were rare. Go back farther to the Civil War, and it was common for officers to not wear military decorations at all.
But for the modern officer, it’s now possible to perform one’s duties without being a hero and still have a chest full of ribbons that are indecipherable to all but the most dedicated students of phaleristics.
Most of all, the typical 21st-century American general is a walking wall of multi-colored “great job” ribbons, none of which are awards for valor.
The ribbons have spread so widely that it has become difficult to differentiate heroes from bedecked bureaucrats, assignment-junkies and dedicated self-improvement typeswhich, I suppose, is partly the point.
U.S. Army photos
The bureaucrats who added the great-job ribbons have ensured that some of these ribbons rank higher than do most medals for actual, individual acts of heroism.
That obviously reflects misplaced priorities within the U.S. military’s value-system. But that isn’t to say we should take away the officers’ ribbons.
No, there’s a better wayone that would visually differentiate awards for valor and heroism from the clutter of ribbons for “great job,” “been there” and “done that.”
The American military acknowledges the commendable and selfless efforts of its soldiers, sailors, airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen in two distinct wayspromotions and medals.
The difference between a ribbon and a medal is merely technical. A ribbon is worn on the everyday uniform, while medals are reserved for formal occasions. They both refer to the same award.
Traditionally, the military rewards jobs-well-done with better or faster promotions. For officers, the addition of gold braid on their sleeves or a change in silver insignia represents an easy-to-discern promotion in rank.
In cases where no promotion takes place, a new, more responsible assignmentsuch as becoming a commanding officer of a ship or aircraft squadronis a clear indication of an officer’s continuous good work.
Acts of valor, on the other hand, are usually brief eventssometimes instantaneousbut of course are still worthy of note. Awarding ribbons are the usual way the military offers this notice.
The military also assigns precedence among various ribbons by placing them in an order of importance, with the most important residing at the top of a uniform’s area for ribbons, and the least important living at the bottom.
A full chest of ribbons usually contains the four typesone each for for valor, for a job well-done, for stating where and when the wearer served, andfinallyribbons representing an individual’s professional self-improvement.
It gets more complicated. The military also awards “dual-use” ribbons that can indicate heroism with a quarter-inch “V” attachment. The Army and Air Force call the “V” the “V Device” and the Navy, Marine Corps and Coast Guard call it the “Combat V.”
Without the V, the ribbon stands for “extraordinary” or “meritorious” conduct. And this varies between service branches. The same medal can mean different things depending on the service that issues it.
Yes, this is complicated. Thanks for bearing with me.
At the beginning of World War II, the big three awards for valor and heroismthe Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross and the Silver Starwere known to most military personnel and even to many civilians.
But with the growth of military bureaucracy, manned by more and more careerists whose fingers have pulled more paper than triggers, the military developed a mindset that these silent warriors, working behind the lines, needed some recognition. The rear-echelon types began issuing themselves ribbons simply for being good administrators.
As a result, it’s gotten really hard to discern a hero from a bureaucrat. Plus there’s the visual pollution of dozens of ribbons adorning one uniform. Furthermore, ribbon-proliferation dilutes the importance of any particular award. Any one medal doesn’t mean a whole lot when everyone’s got lots and lots of them.
The following series, depicting four sets of ribbons, shows the evolution of medals for heroism competing with great-job ribbons.
The top seven ribbons the U.S. Army awarded at the beginning of World War IIfive ribbons for heroism, one for a great job, and one for being woundedare depicted here in priority order. The Medal of Honor, the Distinguished Service Cross, the Distinguished Service Medal (a great-job medal), the Silver Star Medal, the Distinguished Flying Cross, the Soldier’s Medal for non-combat heroism and the Purple Heart.
The only addition for heroism in the U.S. Army by the end of 1945 was the Bronze Star Medal with the V Device.
The medals the Army added for heroism after the 1950s are the Air Medal, the Joint Service Commendation Medal and the Army Commendation Medal, all of which offer the opportunity to attach the V Device, converting the ribbon from great-job award to an award for heroism.
Heroism medals have to compete visually with great-job medals as well as ones for “been there” and “done that.” If we were to limit visual clutter to only the addition of great-job ribbons, you begin to see the problem.

Hero medals now compete with great-job ribbons added since the end of World War II (in red) and great-job ribbons added before and during World War II (in green). In both cases, hero ribbons compete for precedence.
In some cases, great-job ribbons outrank awards for heroism. Furthermore, the qualifications are such that only those at the top of the military hierarchy are in a position to receive them.
Take the Defense Distinguished Service Medal, which outranks the Silver Star, the third-highest medal for heroism. According to the Defense Department, the DDSM is only awarded to “members whose direct and individual contribution to national security or national defense are recognized as being so exceptional in scope and value as to be equivalent to contribution associated with positions encompassing broader responsibilities.”
But isn’t that what high-ranking generals and admirals are supposed to do? Awarding generals and admirals a medal for “encompassing broader responsibilities” after also giving them four stars is the functional equivalent of a participation award.
Not that many service members would even recognize the great-job ribbons. The author’s recent unscientific survey of a group of U.S. Air Force enlisted airmen illustrates the effect of ribbon-clutter. None of the five airmen could name or recognize any valor-based ribbon aside from the Medal of Honor.
“We have trouble keeping up with the ribbons they keep awarding us, so when we see someone else’s medals, we usually try to see what ribbons we might have in common,” one airman said.
That airman has been in the Air Force for just under four years and yet he had been awarded seven ribbons. For a comparison, Army generals Dwight D. Eisenhower and Henry “Hap” Arnold each received only 10 American ribbons during their entire military careersculminating, of course, with World War II.

The ribbons received by an Air Force airman after four years is close to reaching the number of American ribbons two American generals, Eisenhower and Arnold, received after over 30 or 40 years respectively in the U.S. Army.
American ribbons awarded to Gen. Henry “Hap” Arnold, Chief of Staff of the Army Air Forces and fourth in seniority behind Gens. George Marshall, Douglas MacArthur and Dwight Eisenhower
Now contrast the number of ribbons Army general Omar Bradley received by the end of World War II to the ribbons awarded to Gen. David Petraeus after his 37-year career in the U.S. Army that ended in 2011.
Gen. David Petraeus’ medals.
Seven of Petraeus’s 11 personal decorations were created after 1970, so if he wore only those medals available during World War II, he would have just four medals and only one for heroismthe Bronze Star Medal with V Device.
Gen. Omar Bradley’s medals.
The others are part of the visual pollution problem. Bradley’s medals were all awarded by the end of World War II, including the Silver Star, the third-highest medal for heroism.
The addition of been-there and done-that ribbons added to Petraeus’s personal decorations, resulting in a display not unlike that of a Latin American potentate. Petraeus’ look differs from Bradley’s more conservative appearance.
This is not to diminish the importance of great-job medals. Indeed, they are an important function of personal military decorations. Rewarding great work is an appropriate application of military medals, particularly for younger service members.
It’s possible that great work can have an even greater benefit to the military and the country than an individual’s heroic acts. An excellent example is illustrated by the efforts of the late Air Force colonel John R. Boyd.
Five years after Boyd received his first Legion of Merit as a 32-year old Air Force captaina virtually unheard-of feat, as the Legion of Merit is often referred to as a “colonel’s medal”he received another Legion of Merit because he “developed the energy-maneuverability concept,” which helps pilots and designers to compare one airplane against another in a quantitative way.
In layman’s terms, his methods permitted pilots to see where an enemy airplane has advantages and disadvantages in the air.
Boyd took his energy-maneuverability concepts to Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War and briefed pilots on how to use the concepts to avoid getting hit by surface-to-air missiles.
While waiting for a friend at the Miramar Naval Air Station Officer’s Club, I struck up a conversation with an officer sitting next to me at the bar. Noticing his gold wings and ribbons, indicating he’d been to Vietnam, I asked him if he’d ever heard of John Boyd.
“You bet,” he said.
“What do you know about him?” I asked.
“He came over to ’Nam to brief us on how to use his energy-maneuverability to evade SAMs.”
“What did you think of his briefing?”
“My wingman thought he was full of crap. I didn’t. Only one of us is here talking to you.”
Boyd ultimately was awarded four Legions of Merit. The cumulative effect of his efforts most likely saved more lives than any singular heroic act. However, if Boyd were alive today, I believe he would agree that individual acts of heroism should be at the head of the line.
U.S. Army master sergeant Leroy Petry receives a Medal of Honor from Pres. Barack Obama in 2011. Petry saved the lives of several fellow soldiers in Afghanistan in 2008, losing a hand in the process. U.S. Army photo
Here then is a better way to make valorous awards stand outand in such a way that even civilians will know they’re looking at a warrior who has risked his or her life to save others.
Currently, the regulations call for unit citationsribbons awarded to a group rather than to an individualto be displayed on the right side of the uniform from the wearer’s perspective, the side opposite of where ribbons are normally worn. Although unit citations are important, deference should be given to the individual hero.
Looking at the picture of Petraeus, it’s not immediately obvious that he was awarded the Bronze Star Medal with a V Device, a medal for heroism. But if it were on the right side where unit citations currently reside all alone, it would be clear to anyone that he’d been awarded a ribbon for heroism.
Ranking great-job medals higher in precedence than those for heroism also indicates a misunderstanding of human natureand a miscalculation of valueon the part of the military bureaucracy
It is often less-expensive enlisted personnel who find themselves in hazardous conditions and who are likely to encounterto put it obliquelythe opportunity to demonstrate valor. Awarding a two-star general at the Pentagon the third-highest military ribbon for creativity with his pen and ranking such action greater than, say, a combat soldier saving someone during a firefight, is plain wrong.
Becoming a one-star general or admiral should be reward in and of itself. And rising from one star to four should require no further adulation.
As Napoleon famously observed, humans are motivated by the possibility of being acknowledged for having done more than was expected of them. Our own Medal of Honor, awarded for acts “above and beyond the call of duty,” acknowledges this. Congress was concerned enough about the dilution of the Medal of Honor that, over the decades, lawmakers have passed several laws making it a crime to falsely wear the United States’ highest award … or even claim to have won it.
A U.S. court of appeals effectively endorsed those laws in early 2016. “We conclude that the government … has a ‘substantial countervailing objective’ of avoiding dilution of ‘the country’s recognition of [the award recipient’s] sacrifice in the form of military honors,’” the court wrote.
But an unintentional dilution of medals for valor, honor and sacrifice is exactly what has happened due to the proliferation of ribbons. To honor our true heroes, we should isolate their ribbons for the sake of visual clarity. Put ’em on the wearer’s right.

That won’t totally solve the ribbon-clutter problem. But it’s a start.

19 April 2016

The Palestinian Question: Why the Two-State Solution is Kaput.

Water and the Creeping Annexation of the West Bank
Chuck Spinney
To exploit the principles of war for our purpose and base ourselves upon (the) strategic indirect approach, so as to determine the issue of the fighting even before fighting has begun, it is necessary to achieve the three following aims:
a. to cut the enemy’s lines of communications, thus paralyzing his physical build-up;
b. to seal him off from his lines of retreat, thus undermining the enemy’s will and destroying his morale;
c. to hit his centers of administration and disrupt his communications, thus severing the link between his brain and limbs.
Reflection on these three aims proves the truth of Napoleon’s saying: ‘The whole secret of the art of war lies in the ability to become the master of the lines of communication.’”
General Yigael Yadin
Chief of the General Staff, 
Israeli Forces Journal, September 1949⁠1
1 B.H. Liddell Hart, Strategy, Signet 1974, page 387.

The radical Israeli settlers in the West Bank city of Hebron present what is certainly a candidate for being the ugliest face of Israel’s creeping annexation of the West Bank.   The expansion of settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem has reached a point that renders the so-called Two State Solution an impossibility.  General Yadin's comments on the strategy of the indirect approach may have been made in the context of the 1948 Arab Israeli War, but they go a long way toward understanding Israel's strategy for solving its Palestinian Question in the Occupied Territories. 
Of course, in Israel’s eyes, the two state solution was never a serious consideration — not even during the heady days of the Oslo Peace Process in the early 1990s.  On 5 October 1995, Israeli Prime Minister Rabin laid out his case for ratifying the Oslo II Accord in a speech to the Knesset.  Rabin described Israel’s goals for the agreement.  He explicitly rejected the idea of a binational state and stated clearly that Israel wanted a permanent solution that would include: (1) a “Palestinian entity” that would be “less than a state,” (2) a “united Jerusalem” as the Israel’s capital, and (3) “blocs of settlements in Judea and Samaria.” 
Figure 1 shows that Rabin’s vision is now in place, or as Israeli’s like to say, it is a reality established by ‘facts on the ground.’
The graphic on the left side of Figure 1 depicts the buildup of settlers in the Occupied Territories since the 1967 War. The black line represents the total while the blue line represents the buildup in the West Bank.  The difference between them represents primarily the buildup in East Jerusalem, but it also also includes the twenty thousand or so settlers in the Golan Heights and the settlers in Gaza (before Israel evacuated all 7,800 settlers from Gaza in 2005).  
Figure 1
West Bank Settlements: Population Growth and Pattern of Settlement

Note of clarification on Figure 1: The number of settlers in East Jerusalem has long been disputed.  On 5 January 2015, Ahuva Balofsky reported in Breaking Israeli News that the Israeli Interior Ministry released data showing that 389,250 Jews living in the West Bank and another 375,000 live in East Jerusalem. These numbers are plotted for 2014 in Figure 1 and they suggest a substantial acceleration in East Jerusalem settlements.  The total numbers for 2014 are roughly consistent with the total released In May 2014 by the Israel’s Construction and Housing Minister Uri Ariel, who said the Jewish population in East Jerusalem was somewhere between 300,000 and 350,0000 and the number of settlers in the West Bank was about 400,000.  Ariel went on to predict that in five years that latter number would increase to as much as 600,000.   So, while there is no doubt that the rate of settlement is accelerating, Figure 1 may exaggerate the appearance of the recent acceleration, because earlier levels for East Jerusalem may have been understated.
The red areas in the map on the right side of Figure 1 depict the settlement locations in the West Bank.  The three areas delineated in the Oslo accords are distinguished by color: 
  • Area A - brown: the Palestinian Authority (PA) is assigned control of security and administration (except with Israel makes periodic incursions to fight people it deems to be terrorists).
  • Area B - tan: Israeli control of security; PA control of administration
  • Area C - blue: Complete Israeli control. Area C comprises 60% of the land area of the West Bank and 80% of the water in the aquifers under the West Bank (more below).
At least seven points are worth noting with regard to Figure 1:  (1) The rate of settlement growth accelerated after the 1979 US-brokered Camp David Agreement.  Camp David not only removed Egypt from the Arab-Israeli Conflict but also resulted in Egypt’s complicity in the maintenance of the Gaza blockade. (2) The US brokered Oslo Accords (triggered by the 1st Intifada) and its US-brokered successors (e.g., the now-forgotten roadmap for peace, triggered by the 2nd Intifada) had no effect on the rate of settler growth in the Occupied Territories. (3) Notwithstanding soaring rhetoric of President Obama’s Cairo speech and his tepid criticisms of Israel’s settlement program, the rate of settler growth accelerated again after President Obama and Prime Minister Netanyahu took office, especially in East Jerusalem, but also in the Area C. 
Turning to the right side of the figure: (4) The vast majority of Palestinians now live in Areas A & B (many having migrated into these areas from Area C) and are divided up into separated cantons surrounded by Area C. (5) Israeli settlements, a network of Israeli-only access roads connecting the settlements (not shown) and a system of Palestinian check points controlling entry and exit at the canton boundaries carve up the cantons into disconnected bits and pieces.  (7) Moreover, with the exception of isolated Jericho canton just north of the Dead Sea, all the Palestinian areas are well west of the Jordan border with a network of settlements and the Israeli only access roads as well the Dead Sea separating the Palestinians from the Jordan, the nearest Arab state.  In short, the Palestinian "entity" is cut up into fragments, with each fragment surrounded by Israel.  And that central fact, dear reader, is why Figure 1 is an exemplar how the Yadin strategy fits the occupation like a hand fits a glove. 

While the election of Barack Obama as president in 2008 raised the world’s hopes for a more balanced approach to the Palestinian Question, Figure 1 shows Israeli settlements actually accelerated during his Presidency, making a formal Israeli annexation of Area C a likely possibility (as Israel has already done with the Golan Heights of Syria and Jerusalem).  Not only have the Palestinian controlled areas been reduced to an irrational disconnected patchwork that defies any logic for integration into a coherent governable entity, Figure 2 below shows how the pattern of settlements and the Israeli-only roads connecting them have established Israeli control of the West Bank’s water resources.   

Figure 2 

West Bank Settlements vs. Water

The blue arrows in left side of Figure 2 show the underground flows of water as winter rains are collected in the aquifers under the West Bank and relates this to the pattern of Israeli settlements as the Palestinian areas.  The right side overlays the underground aquifers on this data.  The dark blue regions (labeled 1, 2, and 3) depict the highest quality fresh-water pumping areas.  The light blue areas depict areas of lower quality but viable pumping. The redish-orange areas portray areas of poor pumping.  Israel controls how these different areas are pumped.  This report (also referenced above), describes how this control is exercised. Today, over one-third of Israel’s fresh water budget comes from the aquifers under the West Bank’s highlands. In so doing, Israel (including its settlements) consumes more than 80% of the annual recharge of these aquifers, leaving only 20% for the Palestinians.  (Readers interested in the water question will find a more detailed analysis at this link.)
The United States has been culpable in Israel’s colonization of the West Bank — not only by acquiescing to the creeping annexation depicted in Figures 1 and 2, but also in the financing of Israel's efforts.  This brings us back to Hebron.  The report, Why is Goldman Sachs funding the violent, racist Jewish settlers in Hebron, in one of Israel’s most prestigious newspapers, Ha’aretz, is the tip of a funding iceberg of American funding of illegal settlements — e.g., see Ha’aretz’s  7 December 2015 special report here.
Ha’aretz just reported that President Obama is proposing to prop up Israel with a $40 billion military aid package over the next 10 years, including $3.7 billion this first year, then increasing steadily over the 10 years of the plan.  Israel is not happy with this offer, because President Obama has added a condition to this offer: Israel must promise not to lobby Congress for any additional aid during the decade that the deal is in force.  The Ha’aretz report is silent on any condition to roll back or restrict the rate of growth of settlement activity. 

With the possible exception of Bernie Sanders, American complicity in Israel’s solution Palestinian question is not at issue in current presidential election.  This can be seen in the obsequious speeches to the recent AIPAC conference made by all the other candidates.  [See Consortiumnews.com’s “The Clinton/Trump AIPAC ‘Pander-Off’” and “Groveling Before AIPAC.”]
So Israel’s creeping annexation of the West Bank and its lock of the West Bank’s water resources will continue unabated, in part financed by tax deductible donations from the US, and propped up by increased military aid.

Reposted by Consortium News under the title of How Israel Killed the 'Two-State Solution'.
Reposted by Counterpunch under the title of The Palestinian Question: Why the Two-State Solution is Kaput.

04 April 2016

Announcement: New Blog Page

Readers of this blog may have noticed a series of postings with the subtitle: Flush With Cash, Running on Empty.  

My goal in these postings is to provide a series of occasional essays, which taken together, describe how the behavioral pathologies in the Military - Industrial - Congressional Complex (MICC) result in a boom and bust pattern of defense spending.  This pattern produces a  long-term death spiral of shrinking forces, equipped with aging weapons, and continual pressure to reduce readiness.  

Understanding how MICC's behaviour creates this crisis is particularly important in this election year (2016), because President Obama is bequeathing bow wave of new programs in the FY17-21 budget plan that embodies costs that will explode early in the next decade.  While bow waves are always present the Pentagon's budget plans, they wax and wane.   This budget time bomb, which will be the third waxing since the end of the Viet Nam War, will have a spending tail out to 2030 or beyond, and this spending bomb will require a militarized foreign policy to rationalize it -- in effect the MICC's spending tail will continue wag the foreign policy dog of the United States.  

For ease of access, the links to these occasional essays will be collected and posted on a new page on the left hand column of the home page of this blog entitled: Flush With Cash, Running on Empty: A Series of Posts on the Defense Budget.