The Devil Made Us Do It

The Devil, like the Lord, works in mysterious ways.

    ARLINGTON, Wash. (AP) – A woman accused of taking more than $73,000 from the Arlington church where she was an administrative assistant blames the devil.
    Papers filed with a theft charge Wednesday in Snohomish County Superior Court say Collen R. Okeson told detectives she guessed “Satan had a big part in the theft.”

When it comes to stealing money from the peoples’ till, the United States government has its own Satan. Currently for the US it’s al-Qaeda and the guy in the cave, Osama bin Laden.
President Obama is waving the trusty 9/11 flag just as President Bush did. He mentioned al-Qaeda fifteen times in his recent Afghanistan speech, including:

    “So let me be clear: al-Qaeda and its allies – the terrorists who planned and supported the 9/11 attacks – are in Pakistan and Afghanistan. Multiple intelligence estimates have warned that al-Qaeda is actively planning attacks on the U.S. homeland from its safe-haven in Pakistan. And if the Afghan government falls to the Taliban – or allows al-Qaeda to go unchallenged – that country will again be a base for terrorists who want to kill as many of our people as they possibly can.”

The actual planning for 9/11 took place in Germany, Malaysia, Florida, and Maryland, and much of the training took place in the US. According to Juan Cole there are very few al-Qaida fighters based in Afghanistan. But whatever, it’s good propaganda.
Professor Cole goes on:

    Obama described the same sort of domino effect that Washington elites used to ascribe to international communism. In the updated, al-Qaida version, the Taliban might take Kunar Province, and then all of Afghanistan, and might again host al-Qaida, and might then threaten the shores of the United States.

Bin-Laden knows a little about propaganda too.

    All that we have to do is to send two Mujahedin to the farthest point East to raise a piece of cloth on which is written al-Qa’ida in order to make the generals race there to cause America to suffer human economic and political losses without their achieving for it anything of note other than some benefits to their private companies. […]
    So we are continuing this policy in bleeding America to the point of bankruptcy. […]
    And even more dangerous and bitter for America is that the Mujahedin recently forced Bush to resort to emergency funds to continue the fight in Afghanistan and Iraq which is evidence of the success of the bleed-until-bankruptcy plan with Allah’s permission… And it all shows that the real loser is… you. It’s the American people and their economy.

Seventy three grand is chump change to the US where the Pentagon rules, only enough to cover the cost of one deployed soldier for about a month, and there are tens of thousands of deployed soldiers. The Pentagon’s Satan is a reason to spend, spend, spend.
The current national debt is over eleven trillion dollars (over $36,000 per citizen) and because of profligate Pentagon spending it’s rapidly increasing. According to the Congressional Budget Office these are the projected national deficits in the current and future fiscal years:

    Projected deficits are $1.85tn in fiscal year 09, $1.3tn in 10, and so on, expected to be roughly a trillion dollars a year for the next ten years, based on what we know now.

What part does the Pentagon play in this? Some excerpts from a recent Congressional Research Study:

    In an August 2008 update, the Congressional Budget Office projected that additional war costs for the next ten years from FY2009 through FY2018 could range from $440 billion, if troop levels fell to 30,000 by 2010 to $865 billion, if troop levels fell to 75,000 by about 2013. Under these CBO projections, funding for Iraq, Afghanistan and the GWOT could total about $1.3 trillion or about $1.7 trillion for FY2001-FY2018.
    War-justified procurement requests have increased substantially in recent years from $20.4 billion in FY2006 to $39.7 billion in FY2007 and $64.0 billion in FY2008.
    Another major unsettled war cost issue that may arise during consideration of the FY2008 Supplemental this spring and the FY2009 bridge fund once it is presented to Congress is the amount of funds needed to “reset” or restore the services’ equipment to pre-war levels. In its FY2008, DOD requested $46 billion for reconstitution, primarily procurement funds. In the FY2008 , Congress funded only a small portion of that request.45 The largest single reason for the increase is war costs between FY2004 and FY2007 is the amount requested and received by DOD for reset.
    In a reversal of its previous position, DOD argued that the Army and Marine Corps need to be permanently expanded by 92,000 by 2012. The President’s proposal marks a major change and appears to assume that the United States needs to be able to deploy substantial numbers of troops on a permanent basis. CBO estimates that adding two divisions to the Army — roughly equivalent to the President’s proposal— would require an additional $108 billion between FY2008 and FY2017, a major investment.
    While only a handful of provisions have been enacted, congressional consideration of these various limiting provisions placed pressure on the Administration and thus influenced the course of events. For example, the wellknown Cooper-Church provision that prohibited the introduction of U.S. ground troops into Cambodia was enacted in early 1971 after U.S. forces had invaded and then been withdrawn from Cambodia; that provision was intended to prevent the reintroduction of troops. Although President Nixon did not reintroduce U.S. troops, the United States continued to bomb Cambodia for the next three years.
    GAO, CBO and CRS have all testified to Congress about the limited transparency in DOD’ war cost estimating and reporting. While DOD has provided considerably more justification material for its war cost requests beginning with the FY2007 upplemental, many questions remain difficult to answer — such as the effect of changes in troop levels on costs — and there continue to be unexplained discrepancies in DOD’s war cost reports.

The spending is out of control.

    To date, $656.1 billion dollars have been allocated to the war in Iraq. The national, state, and local numbers we provide are based on the full amount of funding approved to date for Fiscal Year 2009.
    These numbers do not currently include President Obama’s request for an additional $75.5 billion dollars for FY2009 war funding. When his administration releases the full budget in April 2009, we will announce the funding allocated to the Iraq war.

The Pentagon and its “security” cohorts eat up over half the budget.

    Current military” includes Dept. of Defense ($653 billion), the military portion from other departments ($150 billion), and an additional $162 billion to supplement the Budget’s misleading and vast underestimate of only $38 billion for the “war on terror.” “Past military” represents veterans’ benefits plus 80% of the interest on the debt.

Joseph Stiglitz and Linda Bilmes have written that the cost of the Iraq and Afghanistan conflicts have grown to staggering proportions — a three trillion dollar war.

    The cost of direct US military operations – not even including long-term costs such as taking care of wounded veterans – already exceeds the cost of the 12-year war in Vietnam and is more than double the cost of the Korean War.
    And, even in the best case scenario, these costs are projected to be almost ten times the cost of the first Gulf War, almost a third more than the cost of the Vietnam War, and twice that of the First World War. The only war in our history which cost more was the Second World War, when 16.3 million U.S. troops fought in a campaign lasting four years, at a total cost (in 2007 dollars, after adjusting for inflation) of about $5 trillion (that’s $5 million million, or £2.5 million million). With virtually the entire armed forces committed to fighting the Germans and Japanese, the cost per troop (in today’s dollars) was less than $100,000 in 2007 dollars. By contrast, the Iraq war is costing upward of $400,000 per troop.
    As the fifth year of the war draws to a close, operating costs (spending on the war itself, what you might call “running expenses”) for 2008 are projected to exceed $12.5 billion a month for Iraq alone, up from $4.4 billion in 2003, and with Afghanistan the total is $16 billion a month. Sixteen billion dollars is equal to the annual budget of the United Nations, or of all but 13 of the US states. Even so, it does not include the $500 billion we already spend per year on the regular expenses of the Defence Department. Nor does it include other hidden expenditures, such as intelligence gathering, or funds mixed in with the budgets of other departments.
    From the unhealthy brew of emergency funding, multiple sets of books, and chronic underestimates of the resources required to prosecute the war, we have attempted to identify how much we have been spending – and how much we will, in the end, likely have to spend. The figure we arrive at is more than $3 trillion. Our calculations are based on conservative assumptions. They are conceptually simple, even if occasionally technically complicated. A $3 trillion figure for the total cost strikes us as judicious, and probably errs on the low side. Needless to say, this number represents the cost only to the United States. It does not reflect the enormous cost to the rest of the world, or to Iraq.

And Time agrees there’s a problem:

    “[T]he CSBA report and similar assessments from the Government Accounting Office (GAO) and Congressional Research Service (CRS)…make clear that the nearly $1 trillion already spent is only a down payment on the war’s long-term costs. The trillion-dollare figure does not…include long-term health care for veterans, thousands of whom have suffered crippling wounds, or the interest payments on the money borrowed by the Federal Government to fund the war…By 2018…the total cost is projected to likely be between $1.3 trillion and $1.7 trillion. …[I]nterest payments raise the cost by an additional $600 billion through 2018.”
    The cost of sending a single soldier to fight for a year in Afghanistan or Iraq is about $775,000 — three times more than in other recent wars, says a new report from the private but authoritative Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments (CSBA). A large chunk of the increase is a result of the Administration’s cramming new military hardware into the emergency budget bills it has been using to pay for the wars.
    These costs, of course, pale alongside the price paid by the nearly 5,000 U.S. troops who have lost their lives in the conflicts — not to mention the wounded — and the families of all the casualties.

If the US is broke, beyond broke actually, where does the money come from?

    The foreign exports that Americans buy result in dollars which must be spent by the foreign banks who converted these dollars into their local currencies. Keeping international reserves in “dollars” means recycling their dollar inflows to buy U.S. Treasury bills – U.S. government debt issued largely to finance the military. To date, countries have been as powerless to defend themselves against the fact that this compulsory financing of U.S. military spending is built into the global financial system.

In this way China, for example, is financing its own encirclement by US military bases and naval fleets. It has to continue to purchase US Treasury notes because the US (like AIG) is too big to fail. Or is it? The Pentagon, is preparing for war with its main financial backer, its next Satan, which is no way to treat your banker.
What does our new president, supposedly committed to change, say about this worsening financial situation and rapidly increasing debt?

    These are challenging times. Resources are stretched. But the American people must understand that this [expanded war] is a down payment on our own future — because the security of America and Pakistan is shared.

It’s a down payment on our future! Imagine that. Put it on a personal basis. My family is deeply in debt, ‘way over our heads, and we plan to borrow and spend a lot more as “a down payment on our own future”!
Obama’s Treasury Secretary would seem to think that spending huge amounts of money is not wise.

    U.S. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner says America’s financial crisis and deep economic recession are painful, but could prove useful in the long run if they force the United States to live within its means after years of over-consumption and excessive indebtedness.

The real purpose of this “down payment”? Whether it’s Bush’s bogus global war on terror or Obama’s war on terrorists it’s simply a bogus ploy to continue to super-fund the Pentagon and bankrupt America in order to justify financial attacks on Americans’ domestic benefits, including social security.
It’s important to realize the financial situation the US is in and do something positive about it. Throwing money at banks and the Pentagon, and staying in Iraq, is so yesterday. Obama isn’t changing anything, specifically he’s not putting a leash on the Pentagon.
Obama’s not alone — the Congress is in on the theft. What does the US urgently need to defeat the Satan bin Laden? A new bomber, of course.

    The “next-generation bomber” is the latest weapon to acquire its very own congressional delegation.
    Six U.S. senators have sent a letter urging President Barack Obama not to kill the bomber, which for now is little more than a notion in the minds of some Air Force planners.
    But the senators – all of whom represent states where future bombers might be based – say the need for a new bomber is “urgent.”

Besides leashing the Pentagon, It’s also important to get Afghanistan right, and Obama isn’t doing that either. He’s stealing our money and then tells us that that satanic al-Qaeda made him do it. And the US is still in it for the long haul.

    WASHINGTON, March 29, 2009 – The United States’ short-term goal for Afghanistan may have been refined, but the long-term goal has stayed the same, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said today on “Fox News Sunday.”
    “I think the near-term objectives have been narrowed,” Gates said, referring to the Afghanistan-Pakistan policy review President Barack Obama unveiled March 27. “I think our long-term objectives would still be to see a flourishing democracy in Afghanistan.”

What a wonderful goal, a flourishing democracy in tribal, impoverished Afghanistan. Maybe the US (quickly becoming impoverished itself) could work on Saudi Arabia and Egypt next and go broke (or broKER) even faster.
Might as well have an impossible dream. NATO has no reliable way to assess its performance in the war in Afghanistan, the alliance’s top commander has said. Just borrow and spend more money — the devil made us do it.
Meanwhile, innocent people will pay the price for this new Grand Strategy, according to the International Red Cross.

    More ordinary Afghans and Pakistanis will bear the brunt of a likely escalation in the war in Afghanistan this year, says a top Red Cross official.

What do you think?
Don Bacon is a retired army officer who founded the Smedley Butler Society several years ago because, as General Butler said, war is a racket. Other articles by Don Bacon may be found here and here.

6 thoughts on “The Devil Made Us Do It”

  1. Financing the Empire
    The U.S. media are silent about the most important topic policy makers are discussing here (and I suspect in Asia too): how to protect their countries from three inter-related dynamics:
    (1) the surplus dollars pouring into the rest of the world for yet further financial speculation and corporate takeovers;
    (2) the fact that central banks are obliged to recycle these dollar inflows to buy U.S. Treasury bonds to finance the federal U.S. budget deficit; and most important (but most suppressed in the U.S. media,
    (3) the military character of the U.S. payments deficit and the domestic federal budget deficit.
    Strange as it may seem – and irrational as it would be in a more logical system of world diplomacy – the “dollar glut” is what finances America’s global military build-up. It forces foreign central banks to bear the costs of America’s expanding military empire – effective “taxation without representation.” Keeping international reserves in “dollars” means recycling their dollar inflows to buy U.S. Treasury bills – U.S. government debt issued largely to finance the military.
    If not this time at the G20 then the next. The rest of the world is going to pull the bottom card out of the pyramid and down it will come.
    It can always get worse. As long as we deny that we are the agents of our own demise.

  2. Follow the dollars:
    US Consumers –> Chinese Manufacturers (in exchange for goods) –> Chinese Banks* (in exchange for RMBs) –> US Treasury (in exchange for IOUs) –> US Arms Manufacturers (planes, tanks and bombs) –> Consumers (wages)
    Probably since the G20 generally haven’t bought into this system they won’t do anything to sustain it, especially the Chinese who know they have us by the short hairs.
    *The three largest banks in the world, in terms of market capitalization, and as a result of the financial crisis, are in China.

  3. I agree with this analysis of the domestic and global implications of America’s dollar-denominated military imperialism. Four years ago, I took a poetic shot at the syndrome as only one episode of my still-unfolding epic of post-linguistic, sub-educated America entitled: Fernando Po, U.S.A. President Obama did not create the current national disaster — after only two months on the job — but he will get tagged with it nonetheless if he doesn’t heed the bad precedent of …
    “Boobie Deadbeats”
    The latest news looks very good
    For man has bitten hound
    And Deadbeat Boobie Dubya’s learned
    A new way to astound
    This time he’s simply run our country’s
    Name into the ground
    You see, he doesn’t think that all
    Those treaties we have signed
    Should make us keep our word and so
    America’s resigned
    Which — if he had one — might lead us
    To think he’d lost his mind
    But why all this unseemly haste
    Our treaties to renounce?
    To show that if he had a brain
    It wouldn’t weigh an ounce?
    No, Deadbeat earned his name because
    His checks would always bounce
    You see this Boobie had no funds
    Within his bank account
    But still he had some unsigned checks
    With no filled-in amount
    And so he gave himself some loans
    Which he thought wouldn’t count
    “What difference do numbers make?”
    He asked as he wrote some
    “If I just add enough of these,
    The Tooth Fairy will come
    And make sure that I end up with
    A very tidy sum.”
    “And what about these circle things
    With commas in between?
    I think I’ll use four groups and make
    The figure round and clean.
    If I take this to Greenspan’s Bank
    He’ll cash it sight unseen.”
    “And Santa Clause will surely help,”
    He thought as he wrote more.
    “I bet he’ll let me have all of
    The toys within the store.
    Can’t see why not,” this Boobie thought,
    “He always has before.”
    “I’ll just deploy the troops,” George thought
    “Since Congress doesn’t care.
    Then blackmail them for endless funds
    And catch them unaware.
    They’d never think to draw the line
    Since they would not know where.”
    As Reagan taught us, Cheney said,
    Big spending never kills
    Just charge the nation’s credit card
    And take off for the hills
    Then deficits don’t matter ‘cause
    The kids will pay the bills
    So Bush bought in and rolled the dice
    He loved this gambler’s den
    He never asked to know how much
    Just who and where and when
    “It’s all found money!” he rejoiced
    “In Washington’s pig pen”
    He’d beg a meal from Popeye and
    Like Wimpy he would say:
    “I’ll gladly pay you Tuesday for
    A hamburger today.”
    Which meant, of course, that he had no
    Intention to repay
    “When Tuesday comes, I won’t be here,”
    He snickered as he spent
    “I’ll eat my burger now and get
    Those bankers to relent
    Till I can high-tail out of town
    And stiff them for the rent.”
    “I’ll bet those foreign lenders shit
    When they wake up and find
    That I’ve welshed on our bidness deal
    And left them in a bind;
    Devaluing the currency
    To screw the bastards blind.”
    “That’s what they get for selling us
    The stuff that we can’t make,
    And taking in our dollars which
    Are so easy to fake,
    While all my many ‘have-more’ friends
    Continue on the take.”
    “And I don’t see why taxpayers
    Should give me so much flak.
    Why, Boobie Bremer lost nine of
    Those billions in Iraq,
    And no one’s even asked him when
    He plans to give them back.”
    “So what’s the deal with bugging me
    Because I cannot say
    Where I spend all that money when
    I go outside to play?
    What does `full faith and credit’ mean
    When I plan not to pay?”
    And so the deadbeat Dubya went
    Once more off to attack
    His doubleplusgood mantras learned,
    In Duckspeak he would quack
    He’d say one thing on Monday then
    On Tuesday take it back
    In con man circles tricks like this
    Are called the bait-and-switch
    If you know how to work them
    They can really make you rich
    Or else earn you a bad repute
    As one son of a bitch
    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” copyright 2005

  4. Michael,
    If I were in a foxhole,
    which I soon may be,
    I’d want you next to me.
    We don’t always agree,
    but that’s because you’re wrong,
    and I’m right,
    which, I know,
    you would also say.
    And you might’nt be wrong.
    So let’s agree,
    to agree,
    or disagree,
    as the case may be.
    Hsieh-hsieh ni.

  5. Don,
    Thanks for the “thank you” in Mandarin. My Taiwanese wife would really appreciate your chosen romanization spelling as well. She hates the Pin-Yin romanization developed my the Mainlanders in recent decades, even though it makes typing Chinese characters on a Western-style QWERTY keyboard a lot easier than software using the more traditional romanization systems we foreigners have come up with over the past several centuries. Pin-Yin also makes “Gong Fu” more understandable than the inscrutable abomination, “Kung Fu,” where the uninstructed typically pronounce the initial consonant like the aspirated, unvoiced English “K” instead of the voiced, unaspiriated Chinese “G.” But don’t tell that to anyone making movies in Hollywood …
    As for agreeing to disagree and vice versa, I don’t think we disagree on much more than means of expression and methods of resistance. I generally like to give people a fair shot at getting things right before I give up on them as a hopeless cause; but as I grow older and crankier, that time frame gets shorter and shorter, since I have fewer and fewer years now to waste waiting for predictable disappointment.
    Alfred Korzybski said long ago that: “There are two ways of sliding easily through life. One way is to believe everything and the other is to doubt everything. Both ways save us the trouble of thinking.” In spite of the difficulty, I try to think as much as possible before lapsing into the bitter cynicism I learned decades ago in Southeast Asia. Mostly, though, I tend by termperment and experience to agree with Civil War veteran Ambrose Bierce about patriotism: i.e., “combustible rubbish ready to the torch of any man ambitious to illuminate his name,” and patriot: “the dupe of statesmen and the tool of conquerors.” As a burnt former tool of the name-illuminators Johnson and Nixon, I also know that “a prophet is not without honor, save in his own land.”
    I moved back to Taiwan several years ago (while my home still had recoverable positive net equity) in order to escape further frustation with my clueless countrymen. I had hopes of developing in peace my philosophy of Ex-Patriotism, by which I mean: “living happily in someone else’s country rather than dying miserably in one’s own.” The move saved my life, as six weeks ago I began to suffer chest pains and promptly got first-class treatment for two clogged cardiac arteries, paid for almost entirely by the national health care system we have here in Taiwan. Sure, we have to pay a monthly premium of about $30 U.S. a month, plus some minimal co-payments for various medications and out-patient visits; but to receive the equivalent care in the United States, I would have had to use up most of my life savings. When President Obama said recently that about once every minute another American family goes bankrupt due to outrageous “health care” expenses, he spoke truly. I cannot even begin to express what a travesty America represents in the field of health care for so many millions of its poor, powerless, and put-upon people. Of course, limitless funding for needless imperial war and lavish subsidies for the Apartheid Zionist Entity continue uninterrupted. Thank you for the boundless blank rubber checks, Speaker Pelosi.
    Anyway, speaking of comrades in foxholes (or shipmates aboard a little river patrol boat trapped in a narrow canal) it occurs to me to send the new guy in the White House a copy of …
    “Endless Precipitous Hasty Procrastination”
    I’ve heard the angry bumble bee buzz by
    My ear, to leave me thinking with a sigh
    How just a few more inches to one side
    And I’d have lost an eye, my brain, or died.
    Someone whom I had never met or hurt
    Could well have left me lying in the dirt.
    From somewhere in the tree line taking aim,
    He barely missed collecting me as claim
    To all that I had known and loved and been
    As well as what in future I might pen:
    A tale in rhyme of what Misfortune’s due
    When dupes and tools of “leaders” misconstrue
    Their duty to “watch over” and “instruct”
    Those independent foreigners they’ve fucked.
    But even pooches screwed can turn and bite;
    Their “handlers” sick with hydrophobic spite,
    From such “non-hostile” causes often die
    In consequence of labor for a lie.
    They kill us; we kill them; and so it goes;
    For nothing but to hide the crime that shows.
    The perpetrators of this folly know
    That they’ve one chance alone: and that’s, “Go slow!”
    In time, all memory they hope will fade
    And then, once more, they’ll call a heart a spade:
    More life to dig more graves that they require
    To fill the minutes of their manic hour.
    Upon the stage they strut and fret and then
    Refuse to exit where and why and when
    We tell them: “You’re not wanted. Time to leave.
    You’ve stalled for long enough while victims grieve;
    Our mothers, sons, and daughters — fathers, too —
    Want nothing more than nothing more from you.”
    Yet still the ones who spread again war’s waste
    Claim we should not act swiftly, or in “haste,”
    To stop the drowning years and years astern
    Of their Titanic passing: “Never Learn!”
    Our rulers call “precipitous” all acts
    Of sanity proceeding from the facts
    That they deny or simply cover up:
    A thin disguise capsizing in a cup.
    Michael Murry, “The Misfortune Teller,” Copyright 2008
    Best wishes to you and yours,

  6. from a Vietnam vet:
    One day while I was in a bunker in Vietnam, a sniper round went over my head. The person who fired that weapon was not a terrorist, a rebel, an extremist, or a so-called insurgent. The Vietnamese individual who tried to kill me was a citizen of Vietnam, who did not want me in his country. This truth escapes millions.–Mike Hastie, U.S. Army Medic, Vietnam 1970-71

Comments are closed.