Conflicts of Interest: Biden’s Pentagon Budget Is a Giveaway to the Military-Industrial Complex

On COI #117, Kyle Anzalone breaks down Biden’s Pentagon budget proposal for FY 2022. The president is asking Congress to give $715 billion in tax dollars to the military-industrial complex. The proposal calls for tens of billions to be spent on weapons systems with legacies of failure, like the F-35 and Ford-class aircraft carrier. Most of the money will be used to maintain the American Empire, not defend the homeland. While Congress has the power to alter the Pentagon budget, Kyle argues we should expect they will only increase spending.

The budget also further highlights the foreign policy establishment’s growing fixation on China. Biden wants to spend $5 billion on the Pacific Deterrence Initiative and billions more on weapons systems that will be deployed to waters off China’s coast. Kyle explains the danger of shifting so much military spending towards confronting Beijing.

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The Saudi Blockade of Yemen: Frequently Asked Questions

What is the blockade’s role in Yemen’s humanitarian crisis?

For more than six years, Saudi Arabia has imposed an air and sea blockade on Yemen that has restricted the flow of vital commercial and humanitarian goods into the country. These restrictions have been a leading driver of the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, where 400,000 children are at risk of dying of malnutrition this year as the country is pushed toward “the biggest famine in modern history.” Since January 2021, Saudi Arabia has severely restricted fuel imports, hindering food shipments and hospitals’ ability to function.

Isn’t the blockade needed to prevent Iranian weapons from reaching the Houthis?

No. In 2015, the United Nations established aninspection and verification mechanism that ensures that ships docking at Yemen’s ports are not carrying weapons. In April 2021, US Special Envoy Tim Lenderking acknowledged that the mechanism “works quite well.” The import restrictions imposed by Saudi Arabia and the Hadi government are a tactic of economic warfare that seeks to gain leverage over the Houthis through starvation and deprivation of civilian populations.

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David Swanson interviews Scott Horton on Ending the War on Terrorism

This Week on Talk World Radio, it’s time to end the terrorism-generating war on terrorism. Our guest is Scott Horton. Scott Horton is the director of the Libertarian Institute, editorial director of Antiwar.com, host of Antiwar Radio on KPFK 90.7 FM in Los Angeles, and author of Fool’s Errand: Time to End the War in Afghanistan, and of the new book we’ll be mostly discussing Enough Already: Time to End the War on Terrorism.

More information and sources for the podcast here.

New Site Allows Vets To Share Their Personal Stories of War

My father as a 19-year-old army grunt landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day in 1944. None of the guys on his Higgins boat survived. He only talked about this and being in France and Germany (getting two purple hearts) as an elderly man. He did mention the French hedgerows as being even more horrible than Omaha Beach itself, and, later, about stumbling around considering shooting himself in the foot rather than shooting to kill. Today we are inundated with carefully curated news and images about war and all the politics and corruption supporting it. So I value personal accounts, biased as they may be by the fundamental human concerns: life, health, relations with others; they demonstrate a kind of truth. The War Horse website gathers and publishes just such material from contemporary events. For that reason, today, Memorial Day, I would like to direct Antiwar.com readers attention to it: The War Horse | Nonprofit journalism about military service.

Alexia Gilmore, Board Member, Randolph Bourne Institute/Antiwar.com

Conflicts of Interest: The ‘Big Lie’ of Memorial Day

On COI #116, Kyle Anzalone and Will Porter cover a new round of US sanctions imposed on officials in Ethiopia, where fighting with rebels has killed thousands and displaced millions more in the country’s Tigray region. Cutting off foreign aid and slapping visa restrictions on officials, Washington is pressuring the central government to make efforts to end the fighting.

Legendary whistleblower and Pentagon Papers leaker Daniel Ellsberg has disclosed yet another series of classified documents from a 1966 Rand Corporation study. The files reveal that, during a round of fighting between China and Taiwan in 1958, the United States came much closer to dropping nuclear weapons on China than was previously known, with American military leaders pushing aggressively for the authority to do so.

After updating the progress of talks to revive the Iran nuclear deal, Will and Kyle also mark Memorial Day, discussing the ways our soldiers are used up and discarded by the very leaders who claim to champion them most.

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The Art of Political Self-Sacrifice

Throughout history, various communities have wondered how to fight back against overwhelming force. Those in control are the masters of war and encourage physical opposition to themselves. They cannot be conquered by traditional physical nor democratic means. In such cases only the unexpected can upset meticulous planning.

One strategy that has been utilized is political self-sacrifice, which is an act of suicide designed to make a political intervention (Kierke, 2013). The most famous case of political self-sacrifice is the self-immolation by burning of Thich Quang Duc, a Vietnamese Mahayana Buddhist monk who took a stand against the oppressive government of South Vietnam. The case illustrates what can make political self-sacrifice so effective. I will recap the event, and then provide three reasons why I believe it had such a big impact.

South Vietnam, 1963

The young state of South Vietnam was in crisis. The South Vietnamese leader, Ngo Dinh Diem, was the head of the Catholic minority that was persecuting the nearly 80% Buddhist majority. Diem had dedicated Vietnam to Jesus and the Catholic Church, and held public ceremonies displaying crosses. The top positions in government were given to Catholics and they kept the bulk of foreign aid.

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