War Is a Multi-Trillion-Dollar Racket and the Pentagon Knows It: Robert Scheer interviews Andrew Cockburn

From ScheerPost

Twenty years since the September 11, 2001 attacks, the human and financial cost of the United States’ failed “War on Terror” is plain to see: as one headline put it, “20 years, $6 trillion, 900,000 lives.” The estimates of lives lost and trillions spent vary throughout media sources, but even the most conservative estimates speak for themselves. Yet, while the Pentagon billed America’s latest imperial endeavors as an imperative series of operations aimed at protecting U.S. national security, there is a simpler, far more cynical and obscene motivation behind these forever wars, according to the Washington editor of Harper’s Magazine, Andrew Cockburn: money.

On this week’s installment of “Scheer Intelligence,” Cockburn joins host Robert Scheer to discuss his most recent book, Spoils of War: Power, Profit and the American War Machine, released by Verso Books on September 21. Consolidating years of thorough reporting on the Pentagon, including bombshell interviews with military insiders, Cockburn comes to a scathing conclusion about the U.S. military. At the start of the podcast, Scheer, who has written extensively about the Military Industrial Complex, including in his book on defense spending, The Pornography of Power, recounts the many military failures that Cockburn documents in “Spoils of War,” including making useless weapons.

“Is this really the gang that can’t shoot straight?” asks Scheer.

“In a way yes, but the question is whether they care about shooting straight,” responds Cockburn. “The American defense system has only a coincidental relationship with actual defense. They don’t really care that much about it. What they care about is the money. Defense spending, developing weapons, and doing what they do, is only a means to that end.”

The Harpers’ Magazine editor then points to the trillions of dollars the defense industry made during the Afghanistan War as evidence that, while it may look to the rest of us as a failure, it was a “failed war” that was wildly successful when measured by dollars made as opposed to lives lost. The two journalists then go on to discuss the crazily dangerous threat America’s drive for increasing its unmatched nuclear weapons arsenal poses to the survival of the human race.

Listen to the full discussion between Cockburn and Scheer as they go on to examine the new high-tech threats Washington is drumming up to justify unconscionable defense spending, as well as the full extent of the U.S. military’s deadly infighting.

Conflicts of Interest: The Architects of the Afghan War Failed Upwards

On COI #166, Scott Spaulding – host of Why I’m Antiwar – returns to the show for the third installment of the ‘Villains of the Afghan War’ series. Scott breaks down the role of David Kilcullen, the godfather of counterinsurgency under the Bush administration. Kilcullen found himself in a high-ranking position that he exploited to push his own COIN policy. While his approach failed and the Afghan War ended in disaster, Kilcullen is still named as an expert and continues to profit off the military-industrial complex. 

Scott discusses USAID official James Derleth’s part in the Afghan nation-building effort. Derleth forced American soldiers to ask Afghan citizens questions and fill out forms. The information was useless – but worse, it put US soldiers in danger. He is now a professor who recently spoke at the prestigious West Point military academy. 

Scott also takes aim at Paul Sommers and Ryan Brewster. While working for the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service, the two headed a project that sought to use American soldiers to teach Afghans new farming techniques. However, the Afghans already knew how to farm and the US war had simply made it impossible to grow the fruit trees Sommers planned. In the end, Sommers and Brewster netted no improvement for average Afghans and racked up an expensive tab for American taxpayers in the process.

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Inside the CIA Plot To Kidnap, Kill Julian Assange

From The Grayzone:

Michael Isikoff of Yahoo News discusses his team’s reporting on the CIA plot to surveil, kidnap, and even kill Assange — all overseen by Michael Pompeo. In response, Pompeo has called for the prosecution of all the sources involved.

The story builds on previous disclosures including a May 2020 exposé by The Grayzone’s Max Blumenthal, which revealed that the CIA was working with Republican mega-donor Sheldon Adelson and the Spanish security firm UC Global to target and surveil Assange in London’s Ecuadorian embassy.

Isikoff and Aaron Maté also debate Russia’s role in the Assange controversy, particularly the allegation that Russia stole Democratic Party emails in 2016 and gave them to WikiLeaks.

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Separating the Cross and the Sword

What is a gaffe but an inadvertent uttering of an awkward truth? For instance:

"This crusade, this war on terrorism, is going to take a while."

The "gaffe" part of George W. Bush’s post-9/11 announcement that the War on Terror had begun was, of course, his calling it a crusade. Doing so, as the Wall Street Journal put it at the time, was "indelicate," because:

In strict usage, the word describes the Christian military expeditions a millennium ago to capture the Holy Land from Muslims. But in much of the Islamic world, where history and religion suffuse daily life in ways unfathomable to most Americans, it is shorthand for something else: a cultural and economic Western invasion that, Muslims fear, could subjugate them and desecrate Islam.

And of course we didn’t want them to think that when we started killing them, when we launched our shock-and-awe bombing campaign. War is secular, rational and absolutely necessary, period. A generation or so earlier, Bush’s use of that word in the context of war wouldn’t have been particularly controversial, because religion was still overtly part of the mix. But by 2001 its casual reference was no longer politically correct . . . even though its quiet blessing of the war machine was still crucial.

Continue reading “Separating the Cross and the Sword”

Pompeo: ‘No Apologies’ for Alleged Plan To Kill Assange

Former Secretary of State and CIA Director Mike Pompeo has responded to a recent Yahoo News investigation detailing Trump Administration plans to kidnap or kill Wikileaks founder Julian Assange that he makes “no apologies” for whatever measure his agency planned to take to safeguard “sensitive information.” Also today: new public opinion data carries some bad news for President Biden. Watch today’s Ron Paul Liberty Report:

Reprinted from The Ron Paul Institute for Peace & Prosperity.

Breaking the Nation-Building Habit

Hal Brands makes a dubious assertion:

America may say that it’s done with nation-building, but don’t believe it.

Following a disillusioning war in Afghanistan, President Joe Biden declared an end to “an era of major military operations to remake other countries.” It’s a familiar pledge, and one that the US never sticks to for very long. For better or worse, nation-building is woven into America’s diplomatic DNA.

Whenever someone claims that something is woven into the nation’s DNA, you can pretty much guarantee that the thing he’s talking about is a bad policy that he supports and doesn’t want to abandon. Americans are not good at nation-building, at least when it comes to other nations, and we have conned ourselves into thinking that we know how to do because some nations have successfully rebuilt themselves after wars that the US fought. They did the work, and we claimed the credit. Then our government marched off to “repeat” these successes in countries we didn’t understand in the slightest.

Germany and Japan succeeded as much as they did because they had already been prosperous, unified nation-states long before the war and both had even had experience with their own democratic institutions. South Korea developed into the thriving democracy that it has become largely in spite of US backing for local dictators. It is laughable to think that we have the first clue how to reproduce the success of South Korea anywhere else. To the extent that the US gets any credit for these successes, it is that the US helped to keep these countries secure while they did the work of rebuilding and flourishing.

Because many interventionists bought into our own propaganda about how we rebuilt those countries, they mistakenly believed that “we” could do it again in Iraq and Afghanistan. Despite the total failure of the earlier attempt in Somalia, interventionists concluded that the problem was simply lack of political will and time. Given enough time and resources, they assumed that the US would be able to make it work. Now that these policies have once again proven to be costly failures after spending trillions over two decades, there are not many that still think the US can succeed at this.

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Daniel Larison is a weekly columnist for Antiwar.com and maintains his own site at Eunomia. He is former senior editor at The American Conservative. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.