August 26, 2014
Our Economy Needs Global Conflict

I understand why some folks think it’s cynical to impute motive to action, especially when doing so reflects poorly on them or those they admire. But explain to me if you would the problems with this formulation: we sell weapons to countries who shouldn’t have them because (1) it keeps our economy humming, along the lines of what Chomsky calls the Pentagon system, and (2) Congress consistently manages to find a way around its own laws prohibiting the sale of arms to human rights violators because (1). Once these high-powered weapons are in such questionable hands it’s only a matter of time before they’re used. No, I’m not talking about Ferguson, Missouri, but about the United Arab Emirates (UAE), currently bombing Libya using weapons we built and sold to them. They did not, in the event, feel it necessary to notify the US, let alone seek support, possibly indicating how much they fear America’s wrath.

The first air strikes took place a week ago, focusing on targets in Tripoli held by the militias, including a small weapons depot, according to the [New York] Times. Six people were killed in the bombing.

A second round was conducted south of the city early on Saturday targeting rocket launchers, military vehicles and a warehouse, according to the newspaper.

Those strikes may have represented a bid to prevent the capture of the Tripoli airport, but the militia forces eventually prevailed and seized control of it despite the air attacks.

The UAE — which has spent billions on US-manufactured warplanes and other advanced weaponry — provided the military aircraft, aerial refuelling planes and aviation crews to bomb Libya, while Egypt offered access to its airbases, the paper said.

Somehow that feels weird to me. A country the size of South Carolina with a population less than that of North Carolina has aerial refuelling planes and the expertise to pull off a combat mission using them, though admittedly there were probably few air defenses to contend with.

In light of such disarray, some will argue, we can’t afford to pull out of the Middle East conflict. Just as the weapons dealers wanted, we’ve sold too many weapons there to walk away now; it’d be a bloodbath. But it’s politically impossible to do the only useful thing, which is pressure the Israeli government until it begins to attend to the popular will. That, however, would set a bad precedent that might be recognized here at home.


Posted by Chuck Dupree at August 26, 2014 10:18 PM
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Quite true, Chuck. This works here at home too. We declare a phony war on drugs making a product people desperately want illegal, then we refuse to take any rational steps toward gun control, then we of course have to militarize our police because the crazed druggies have access to heavy duty firearms.

One of the great Pentagon spending critics referred to this phenomenon as the "self-licking ice cream cone". He was referring to the fact that big "defense" contracts are split up among subcontractors who just happen to be in key Congressional districts around the country. Even if the generals decide that a weapons system is unnecessary, the people's alleged representatives in Congress fund the damn thing anyway because otherwise they would lose jobs in their district.

The military/industrial/national-security complex has this nation by the short hairs.

Posted by: Charles D on August 27, 2014 12:12 PM
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