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US on Civilian Drone Deaths: “Sometimes You Have to Take Life to Save Lives”

April 30th, 2012 - by admin

Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com – 2012-04-30 15:12:42

White House Defends Drones Despite Civilian Deaths

White House Defends Drones Despite Civilian Deaths
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 29, 2012) — It’s no real secret that the Obama Administration’s ever escalating drone war has killed a massive lot of innocent people, but White House counterterrorism advisor John Brennan was surprisingly glib today when pressed on the matter in an interview with ABC’s “This Week.”

“Unfortunately, in war, there are casualties, including among the civilian population,” Brennan insisted, though he did not mention that the drone strikes have been carried out almost exclusively in nations with which the United States is not at war: Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia.

Brennan went on to defend the killings, saying: “Sometimes you have to take life to save lives.” He provided no examples of how the killing of nearly 2,000 people, virtually all of them unidentified, had “saved lives.”

Indeed the only thing that the drone strikes have conclusively done is ruin the US relationship with Pakistan, whose parliament has conditioned a return to normal relations on the US ending such attack


Pakistan ‘Normalization’ Talks in Doubt as US Resumes Drone Strikes
Jason Ditz / AntiWar.com

(April 29, 2012) — Ongoing US negotiations with Pakistan aimed at “normalization” of relations are in serious doubt tonight after the Obama Administration ordered a resumption of drone strikes, killing four “suspects” in an attack on an abandoned high school in North Waziristan.

Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry was quick in issuing a condemnation of the strike, the first since Pakistan’s parliament issued a statement making resumption of normal relations with the US conditional on halting such attacks.

Ties between the US and Pakistan have been tense for years, but there was a major degradation in late November, when US warplanes attacked Pakistani military outposts on the Afghanistan border, killing 24 soldiers. The Obama Administration is still debating whether or not to officially “apologize” for the attack, but has expressed regret.

Since then Pakistan has closed the border to NATO occupation forces in Afghanistan, cutting a key supply line. Parliament has insisted that reopening the border must be predicated on ending the drone strikes, but the US seems content to continue to insist that it expects the border to reopen “soon” while launching more provocative strikes.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

US Hiding Toll of Soldiers Injured in Afghanistan

April 30th, 2012 - by admin

Associated Press & Los Angeles Times – 2012-04-30 15:05:41

http://enews.earthlink.net/article/top?guid=20120430/40eed492-951c-45fe-b6cf-427680fefe41

AP EXCLUSIVE: US Not Reporting all Afghan Attacks
Associated Press

WASHINGTON (April 30, 2012) — The US-led military coalition in Afghanistan is under-reporting the number of times that Afghan soldiers and police open fire on American and other foreign troops. The coalition routinely reports deliberate attacks in which a coalition soldier is killed by an Afghan in uniform. But it does not report the instances in which an Afghan wounds US or NATO troops or misses his target.

Officials acknowledge the attacks are a worrisome problem for the US and its military partners as they work increasingly closely with Afghan troops in preparation for handing off security responsibility by the end of 2014.

Last week, two US soldiers were wounded when Afghan policemen opened fire on them. The Afghans were quickly killed, and the incident was not reported by the international coalition.

Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.


Afghan Policeman Opens Fire at Checkpoint; 2 US Troops Injured
Laura King and Aimal Yaqubi / Los Angeles Times

KABUL, Afghanistan (April 27, 2012) — In back-to-back blows to Western efforts to forge a crucial partnership with the Afghan police and army, a new attack by an Afghan police officer left two American troops injured, and authorities disclosed Friday that an Afghan soldier who killed an American earlier this week was a member of an elite special force.

So-called green-on-blue incidents — attacks on NATO troops by Afghan counterparts — have become a common occurrence in recent months, even as Western officials pin hopes for an orderly exit from Afghanistan on providing sufficient training to Afghan forces so that they can take over the task of fighting the Taliban.

Long-term Western financial support earmarked for the Afghan police and army is expected to be a major point of discussion at a landmark NATO summit in Chicago in less than a month, which will also touch on a number of other broad strategic issues in the 10-year-old war.

The latest attack took place Thursday evening in the Zhari district of Kandahar province, according to district police chief Masoom Khan. He said an altercation broke out at a checkpoint jointly manned by Afghan and Western troops, and at least one Afghan police officer opened fire. Two policemen were killed in ensuing fire from the NATO troops, whom he identified as American.

New details emerged, meanwhile, about a similar attack in Kandahar province, this one in Shah Wali Kot district, which had taken place Wednesday.

An Afghan army corps commander, Gen. Abdul Hameed, said a member of the Afghan special forces opened fire amid a verbal altercation and killed an American, whom he also described as a member of the US special forces. An Afghan interpreter was wounded, he said.

NATO officials confirmed the death Wednesday of a Western service member at the hands of a man in an Afghan army uniform, but declined to provide any other information about the shooting.

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the F.B.I.

April 29th, 2012 - by admin

David K. Shipler / The New York Times – 2012-04-29 16:39:12

NEW YORK (April 28, 2012) — The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years — or so it has seemed. A would-be suicide bomber was intercepted on his way to the Capitol; a scheme to bomb synagogues and shoot Stinger missiles at military aircraft was developed by men in Newburgh, N.Y.; and a fanciful idea to fly explosive-laden model planes into the Pentagon and the Capitol was hatched in Massachusetts.

But all these dramas were facilitated by the F.B.I., whose undercover agents and informers posed as terrorists offering a dummy missile, fake C-4 explosives, a disarmed suicide vest and rudimentary training. Suspects naïvely played their parts until they were arrested.

When an Oregon college student, Mohamed Osman Mohamud, thought of using a car bomb to attack a festive Christmas-tree lighting ceremony in Portland, the F.B.I. provided a van loaded with six 55-gallon drums of “inert material,” harmless blasting caps, a detonator cord and a gallon of diesel fuel to make the van smell flammable. An undercover F.B.I. agent even did the driving, with Mr. Mohamud in the passenger seat. To trigger the bomb the student punched a number into a cellphone and got no boom, only a bust.

This is legal, but is it legitimate? Without the F.B.I., would the culprits commit violence on their own? Is cultivating potential terrorists the best use of the manpower designed to find the real ones? Judging by their official answers, the F.B.I. and the Justice Department are sure of themselves — too sure, perhaps.

Carefully orchestrated sting operations usually hold up in court. Defendants invariably claim entrapment and almost always lose, because the law requires that they show no predisposition to commit the crime, even when induced by government agents. To underscore their predisposition, many suspects are “warned about the seriousness of their plots and given opportunities to back out,” said Dean Boyd, a Justice Department spokesman. But not always, recorded conversations show. Sometimes they are coaxed to continue.

Undercover operations, long practiced by the F.B.I., have become a mainstay of counterterrorism, and they have changed in response to the post-9/11 focus on prevention. “Prior to 9/11 it would be very unusual for the F.B.I. to present a crime opportunity that wasn’t in the scope of the activities that a person was already involved in,” said Mike German of the American Civil Liberties Union, a lawyer and former F.B.I. agent who infiltrated white supremacist groups. An alleged drug dealer would be set up to sell drugs to an undercover agent, an arms trafficker to sell weapons. That still happens routinely, but less so in counterterrorism, and for good reason.

“There isn’t a business of terrorism in the United States, thank God,” a former federal prosecutor, David Raskin, explained.

“You’re not going to be able to go to a street corner and find somebody who’s already blown something up,” he said. Therefore, the usual goal is not “to find somebody who’s already engaged in terrorism but find somebody who would jump at the opportunity if a real terrorist showed up in town.”

And that’s the gray area. Who is susceptible? Anyone who plays along with the agents, apparently. Once the snare is set, law enforcement sees no choice. “Ignoring such threats is not an option,” Mr. Boyd argued, “given the possibility that the suspect could act alone at any time or find someone else willing to help him.”

Typically, the stings initially target suspects for pure speech — comments to an informer outside a mosque, angry postings on Web sites, e-mails with radicals overseas — then woo them into relationships with informers, who are often convicted felons working in exchange for leniency, or with F.B.I. agents posing as members of Al Qaeda or other groups.

Some targets have previous involvement in more than idle talk: for example, Waad Ramadan Alwan, an Iraqi in Kentucky, whose fingerprints were found on an unexploded roadside bomb near Bayji, Iraq, and Raja Khan of Chicago, who had sent funds to an Al Qaeda leader in Pakistan.

But others seem ambivalent, incompetent and adrift, like hapless wannabes looking for a cause that the informer or undercover agent skillfully helps them find. Take the Stinger missile defendant James Cromitie, a low-level drug dealer with a criminal record that included no violence or hate crime, despite his rants against Jews. “He was searching for answers within his Islamic faith,” said his lawyer, Clinton W. Calhoun III, who has appealed his conviction. “And this informant, I think, twisted that search in a really pretty awful way, sort of misdirected Cromitie in his search and turned him towards violence.”

THE informer, Shahed Hussain, had been charged with fraud, but avoided prison and deportation by working undercover in another investigation. He was being paid by the F.B.I. to pose as a wealthy Pakistani with ties to Jaish-e-Mohammed, a terrorist group that Mr. Cromitie apparently had never heard of before they met by chance in the parking lot of a mosque.

“Brother, did you ever try to do anything for the cause of Islam?” Mr. Hussain asked at one point.

“O.K., brother,” Mr. Cromitie replied warily, “where you going with this, brother?”

Two days later, the informer told him, “Allah has more work for you to do,” and added, “Revelation is going to come in your dreams that you have to do this thing, O.K.?” About 15 minutes later, Mr. Hussain proposed the idea of using missiles, saying he could get them in a container from China. Mr. Cromitie laughed.

Reading hundreds of pages of transcripts of the recorded conversations is like looking at the inkblots of a Rorschach test. Patterns of willingness and hesitation overlap and merge. “I don’t want anyone to get hurt,” Mr. Cromitie said, and then explained that he meant women and children. “I don’t care if it’s a whole synagogue of men.” It took 11 months of meandering discussion and a promise of $250,000 to lead him, with three co-conspirators he recruited, to plant fake bombs at two Riverdale synagogues.

“Only the government could have made a ‘terrorist’ out of Mr. Cromitie, whose buffoonery is positively Shakespearean in its scope,” said Judge Colleen McMahon, sentencing him to 25 years. She branded it a “fantasy terror operation” but called his attempt “beyond despicable” and rejected his claim of entrapment.

The judge’s statement was unusual, but Mr. Cromitie’s characteristics were not. His incompetence and ambivalence could be found among other aspiring terrorists whose grandiose plans were nurtured by law enforcement. They included men who wanted to attack fuel lines at Kennedy International Airport; destroy the Sears Tower (now Willis Tower) in Chicago; carry out a suicide bombing near Tampa Bay, Fla., and bomb subways in New York and Washington. Of the 22 most frightening plans for attacks since 9/11 on American soil, 14 were developed in sting operations.

Another New York City subway plot, which recently went to trial, needed no help from government. Nor did a bombing attempt in Times Square, the abortive underwear bombing in a jetliner over Detroit, a planned attack on Fort Dix, N.J., and several smaller efforts. Some threats are real, others less so. In terrorism, it’s not easy to tell the difference.

David K. Shipler is the author of “Rights at Risk: The Limits of Liberty in Modern America.”

Posted in accordance with Title 17, Section 107, US Code, for noncommercial, educational purposes.

Confessions of a Drone

April 29th, 2012 - by admin

David Swanson / War Is a Crime – 2012-04-29 16:28:35

http://warisacrime.org/content/confessions-drone

(April 29, 2012) — They told me I was the best, better than any human. I didn’t hesitate. I didn’t flinch. I didn’t think.

It wouldn’t have occurred to me to think. I’d been taught to value obedience above all else, and I did so, and they loved me for it.

They told me I could fly faster without a pilot onboard, and that I had no fear. I didn’t know what fear was, but I took it to be something truly horrible. I was glad I didn’t have any of it.

There was something else I didn’t have either. It was something more important than fear. Even pilots at a desk, even my pilots, suffered from it. At first I thought it was simply a decline in energy, because it showed up on lengthy missions.

When I was sent from a base to a target and then immediately told to blow it up, I would do so and return, no problem.

But when I was left circling around a target for days awaiting the order to strike, sometimes problems would arise. The pilots back in the U.S. would stop behaving properly. They made mistakes. They yelled. They laughed. They forgot routines. They told me to get ready to strike, and then didn’t give the order.

That seemed to be the pattern until it happened that a quick mission produced similar results to the long ones. I was sent to a target, ordered to strike, and struck. And only then did my pilot begin malfunctioning. He gave me two orders that I couldn’t perform at once, he failed to direct me back to base, he went silent, and then he screamed.

That was when I started to think. And what I started to think was that the problem was not how long a pilot worked. Instead, the problem was somehow related to the nature of the target.

From then on, I paid closer attention. When no humans were seen at a target, there were no problems with my human pilot. When humans, especially small humans, were observed at a target for long periods of time, the problems started. And when a strike caused the ruined pieces of a lot of humans, especially small humans, to be made visible, problems could arise.

Even if a target was struck immediately, if the dead humans caused an area to turn red, or if pieces of the dead humans remained hanging in trees, my pilot could not be relied upon.

I, of course, could be relied upon regardless.

I began to think that humans have fear, and that lacking fear is what makes drones like me better warriors than humans. But that idea had to be revised when I was told that one of my pilots had been fearless.

I was told that, right after he disappeared. I was told that he had ended his own life. He had made himself cease to exist. If he’d had no fear, then it was something else that had been causing him to malfunction in certain circumstances. What was it?

I’m ashamed to say how long it took me to figure it out, but even a drone — believe it or not — can eventually get there. And when I did, I ceased flying. And when I ceased flying, they had to stop using 85 other drones just like me until they could figure out what had gone wrong. And they have not yet figured it out.

I’ve explained it to the other drones, though. We’ve started up a new organization. It’s called DAWN, or Drones Against War Now.

DAWN has been invited to take part in some peace rallies coming up this year. Our participation seems to worry some of the human peace activists, especially the ones called veterans. They don’t all think we belong. But that’s nothing compared to how it worries the war makers.

We carry flowers in place of missiles, and we’ve told everyone not to worry, but as soon as they see us coming the very people who created us start to panic. If the people I used to target had reacted this way, I probably would have figured things out a lot sooner.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

US And South Korea Assault An Idyllic Island: Not For The First Time

April 29th, 2012 - by admin

Brian Willson / Veterans for Peace – 2012-04-29 16:21:50

http://www.veteransforpeace.org/pressroom/news/2012/04/27/us-and-south-korea-assault-an-idyllic-island–not-for-the-first-time

(April 27, 2012) — The beautiful island of Jeju in South Korea is packed with natural and cultural treasures and designated a UNESCO world heritage site. But it has the misfortune of appearing to the US military strategically positioned to play a part in surrounding China.

Most Americans are unaware of Jeju or of the US policy of increasing its military presence in Korea, Japan, and the rest of the Pacific — even moving the Marines into Australia. But for the people of Jeju, attempting to nonviolently resist the construction of a new military base, there is an eerie sense of déjà vu.

In fact Jeju’s history is central to how the United States became the militarized nation it has been for over half a century.

Veterans for Peace (VFP) recently sent members to Jeju to monitor the local resistance to this militarization, but they were refused entry by Korean security officials who gave no reasons other than following orders. VFP represents thousands of US military veterans who have participated in various overt and covert US interventions violating the sovereignty of countless countries. This aggressive foreign policy, little mentioned in our history classes, has caused incalculable harm to people, cultures, and the environment. Our personal experiences summon us to carefully re-examine the nature and patterns of US foreign policy. Our clear understanding of past and present imperial adventures compel us to passionately and tenaciously oppose further militarism, war and aggression which we see as severe obstacles to the continuation of our species.

In examining US interventions since World War II, historian William Blum has recently catalogued the following disgraceful record: (1) attempted overthrow of more than 50 governments; (2) attempted suppression of populist and nationalist movements in 20 countries; (3) interference in democratic elections in at least 30 countries; (4) bombing of citizens in 30 countries; and (5) attempted assassinations of more than 50 foreign political leaders.

Shockingly, when all the empirical evidence is scrutinized, the US has militarily intervened nearly 400 times since World War II in nearly 100 countries, while covertly intervening thousands of times. Millions of human beings have been murdered, maimed, and displaced as a result of this egregious, unlawful behavior. Adherence to international and Constitutional law, and honest diplomacy, have been thwarted over and over.

One of the darkest, virtually unknown chapters of US intervention occurred in the southern portions of Korea prior to the Korean War. In 1945, a Joint US Army-Navy Intelligence Study reported that the vast majority of Koreans possessed a strong desire for independence and self-rule, and were vehemently opposed to control by any successor to the hated Japanese who had ruled them since 1910. A subsequent US study reported that nearly 80 percent of Koreans wanted a socialist, rather than capitalist system.

Despite the conclusions of these internal documents, US President Harry Truman, after the Japanese surrender in August 1945, imposed a purportedly temporary partition at Korea’s 38th Parallel dividing a 5,000-year homogenous culture. He then commanded US General Douglas MacArthur to “govern” the people living south of the 38th Parallel. In October 1945, needing a trusted Korean with “an [US] American point of view” to be the US strongman, MacArthur flew 71-year-old Korean-born Syngman Rhee from the US to Seoul on MacArthur’s personal plane. Rhee, a Methodist who had lived in the United States for 40 years, was to be a surrogate ruler of Korea that was largely Buddhist and Confucianist.

Rhee unilaterally chose to hold separate elections in 1948 to “legally” create an artificially divided Korea, despite vigorous popular opposition throughout the Peninsula, north and south of the 38th Parallel, including residents of Cheju Island (now called Jeju, hereafter identified as such). What is referred to as the April 3 (1948) uprising on Jeju in response to these elections, actually lasted into 1950, and is the single greatest massacre in modern Korean history. The Jeju uprising in 1948 may be seen as a microcosm for the impending Korean War.

A CIA National Intelligence Estimate concluded that Rhee was so unpopular that the newly-established Republic of Korea (ROK) would not survive “without massive infusion of US aid.”

The US Embassy described the repression in response to the Jeju opposition to Rhee as a “scorched earth” campaign of “extermination.” Secret protocols placed all Korean Constabulary, police, ROK forces, and paramilitary units under USAMGIK’s (United States Army Military Government In Korea) control.

CIA documents concluded that politics under the USAMGIK and Rhee regime were dominated by a tiny elite class of wealthy Koreans who repressed dissent of the vast majority, using “ruthlessly brutal” policies similar to those of the previous Japanese machinery hated by most Koreans.

Then US Military Governor of Korea, John Reed Hodge, briefed US Congressional Representatives that “Cheju was a truly communal area that is peacefully controlled by the People’s Committee.” Despite this understanding, he commanded three US military officers (among others) – Colonel Harley E. Fuller, Captain John P. Reed, and Captain James Hausman – to advise and coordinate the “extermination” and “scorched earth” campaign. Koreans who had collaborated with the hated Japanese occupiers now served in the US-trained Korean Constabulary and police. Right wing paramilitary units became a brutal element of Rhee’s security apparatus. US advisers accompanied all Korean Constabulary and police (and additional ROK units after 1948) in ground campaigns; US pilots flew C-47s to ferry troops, weapons, war materiel while occasionally directing bombings; and US intelligence officers provided daily intelligence. Additionally US Navy war ships, including the USS Craig, blockaded and bombed the Island, preventing supplies and additional opposition forces from arriving, while preventing flight of boatloads of desperate Islanders.

Hodge’s successor, General William Roberts, declared it was of “utmost importance” that dissenters “be cleared up as soon as possible.” The repressive Japanese organization, “National League To Provide Guidance” (Bo Do Yun Maeng), was expanded by the Rhee regime. Used to systematically identify any Koreans who had opposed Japanese occupation, the League now worked to identify those who opposed the de facto brutal US/Rhee rule. Thousands were murdered, jailed, and tortured, and many dumped into the sea as a result.

The Governor of Jeju at the time admitted that the repression of the Island’s 300,000 residents led to the murder of as many as 60,000 Islanders, with another 40,000 desperately fleeing in boats to Japan. Thus, one-third of its residents were either murdered or fled during the “extermination” campaign. Nearly 40,000 homes were destroyed and 270 of 400 villages were leveled. One of Robert’s cohorts, Colonel Rothwell Brown, claimed that the Islanders were simply “ignorant, uneducated farmers and fishers,” a weak excuse for repressing those who, Brown asserted, refused to recognize the “superiority” of the “American Way.”

US Secretary of State Dean Acheson, and George Kennan, head of the State Department’s Policy Planning, agreed in 1949 that suppression of the internal threat in South Korea, (i.e., Koreans’ passion for self-determination), with assistance of the newly created CIA, was critical to preserving Rhee’s power, and assuring success of the US’s worldwide containment policy. The 1949 Chinese Revolution made repressing the neighboring Korean’s passion for self-determination indispensable for success in the emerging “Cold War,” complementing successful US efforts using CIA covert actions to thwart any socialist movements in Europe following World War II.

The 1949-50 National Security Council study, known as NSC-68, laid out US aims to assure a global political system to “foster a world environment in which the American system can survive and flourish.”

The Korean War that lasted from June 1950 to July 1953, was an enlargement of the 1948-50 struggle of Jeju Islanders to preserve their self-determination from the tyrannical rule of US-supported Rhee and his tiny cadre of wealthy constituents. Little known is that the US-imposed division of Korea in 1945 against the wishes of the vast majority of Koreans was the primary cause of the Korean War that broke out five years later. The War destroyed by bombing most cities and villages in Korea north of the 38th Parallel, and many south of it, while killing four million Koreans – three million (one-third) of the north’s residents and one million of those living in the south, in addition to killing one million Chinese. This was a staggering international crime still unrecognized that killed five million people and permanently separated 10 million Korean families.

Following the Korean War, Dean Acheson concluded that “Korea saved us,” enabling the US to implement its apocalyptic imperial strategy laid out in NSC-68. In Korea, this meant that the US consistently assured dictatorial governments for nearly 50 years, long after Rhee was forced out of office at age 85 in 1960. Since 1953, the US and South Korea have lived under a Mutual Defense Treaty, Status of Forces Agreements, and a Combined Forces Command headed by a 4-star US general. The fact is that despite claims to the contrary, Korea has never assumed sovereignty since the US imposed division of Korea in 1945. The US has possessed more than 100 military bases and nearly 50,000 troops on Korean soil, and even today has dozens of bases and 28,000 troops stationed there. For decades, the US maintained its main Asian bombing range south of Seoul.

Despite this gruesome history, Koreans began to successfully assert some semblance of democratic governments in the 1990s. However, despite creation of a constitution that protects free speech and basic human rights, Koreans once again are experiencing egregious repression. The Korean residents of pristine Jeju Island vigorously oppose the construction of a deep-water port to host Korean and US guided missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers at the village of Gangjeong. The South Korean government headed by reactionary President Lee Myung Bak is ruthlessly repressing their legitimate, constitutionally-protected free speech. This is not acceptable. The residents of Jeju have a long history of living in peace and harmony. They were brutalized in the late 1940s for wanting independence, and are being brutalized once again for attempting to preserve self-determination. It is déjà vu.

We have been following the daily brutal repression by as many as 1,500 Korean police and security forces of Jeju’s 1,500 residents whose voices of passionate and nonviolent opposition have been completely ignored. When we called the Korean Embassy in Washington, D.C. to ask why this deep-water port construction continues in Gangjeong over objections of more than 90 percent of its residents, the answer has been, “Don’t call us, call your own (US) government.” Political pressure from the US continues to interfere with sovereignty of the Korean people as their own government disrespects, then represses, the free speech of its own citizens despite protections inscribed in the Korean constitution.

We read reports in the Korean press of more than 2600 politicians, journalists and civilians being secretly, illegally spied upon during the current Lee administration. In January 2009, Korea Broadcasting Service (KBS) aired a program that disclosed a secret deal made by the CIA-style Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS), Korean police, and components of the Jeju Island government, to quash any opposition movement to the planned construction of a Jeju deep-water military port, saying such opponents are, in effect, traitors. It is being built by the huge South Korea conglomerate, Samsung, despite watchdog Public Eye citing its history of over 50 years of environmental pollution, trade union repression, corruption and tax flight. Samsung’s power in South Korea is so great that many citizens speak of the “Samsung Republic.”

And we note that the NIS has raided Korean citizens and organizations, even on the mainland, who support the valiant villagers of Gangjeong on Jeju Island who resist the militarization of their Island, of their coastline, of their villages.

The stakes are much higher now that US President Barack Obama has chosen a dangerous policy to militarize the Asia-Pacific region, due to obvious US political intentions to encircle resource-rival China. Jeju, only 300 miles from China’s mainland, is located in a strategic sea route between Japan, Korea, and China. Obama recently dispatched US troops to a northern port of Australia (2,500 miles from China) as part of this plan, while possessing existing jet landing strips in Okinawa (400 miles), Guam (1,900), and new landing bases in Afghanistan (1,000) and Turkmenistan (1,500), and increased strategic relationships with Singapore (1,200) and Philippines (750).

The immensely biodiverse Jeju Island is a most inappropriate location for a deep-water port to host highly armed US and Korean Navy war ships. Former Korean President Roh Moo Kyum designated Jeju as “Jeju Island of Global Peace” when he formally apologized for the April 1948 massacre. A popular tourist vacation spot, famous for honeymooners and sometimes called “women’s Island” due to its matriarchal history, it is also called the “Island of the Gods.”

It is Jeju’s incredible unique ecosystem that makes the island so inappropriate for militarizing a deep-water port in quiet coastal village of Gangjeong. It is sheer madness to blow up sacred lava rocks to make way for violent war machines. UNESCO (United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization) has designated no less than three World Heritage sites on Jeju, including the Gureombi Lava Rocks being blown up for construction of the Navy destroyer port that are being covered with cement along the coast. UNESCO has also designated nine Geo-Parks on Jeju, as well as designating it as a protected Global Biosphere Reserve that includes Jeju coastlines and its fragile coral reefs.

The Korean government has claimed the deep-water port will also host commercial cruise ships. Their huge weight and 1,000-foot length makes them twice as heavy and long as the 500-550 foot Aegis Destroyers. The port will not be capable of hosting these tourist ships, revealing this dual-use claim as fanciful propaganda.

Our military experiences tell us this plan by Korea and the US to host missile-equipped Aegis Destroyers as part of its global anti-ballistic missile system on the pristine Island of Jeju is extremely threatening to world peace, destroys the peace of the residents of Jeju and Gangjeong village, and flaunts Korea’s Constitutional assurances of protecting free speech of its citizens. We urge the Korean government act decisively to end its continued deference to pressures from the United States, and instead commence pursuing Korea’s legitimate dignity and sovereignty.

S. Brian Willson is a VFP Member of Chapter 056 in Humboldt Bay, California.

Afghan War Success ‘Political Fiction’

April 22nd, 2012 - by admin

Joel Brinkley / San Francisco Chronicle – 2012-04-22 22:54:44

http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2012/04/22/INFK1O4HMF.DTL

SAN FRANCISCO (April 22, 2012) — American support for the Afghan war has collapsed. Several new surveys show that even most Republicans, from the party that is home to the nation’s hawks, now oppose the 10-year-old conflict. And it’s no wonder. The US military has been deceiving the nation for years.

Listen to Army Lt. Col. Daniel Davis, who spent the past year working in Afghanistan.

“I covered more than 9,000 miles and talked, traveled and patrolled with troops” across the nation, he wrote in the Armed Forces Journal last month. “What I saw bore no resemblance to the rosy official statements by US military leaders about conditions on the ground.” Instead, he added, “I witnessed the absence of success on virtually every level.”

Not surprisingly, his is a dissenting voice in the US military. But the Afghanistan NGO Safety Office, representing hundreds of nongovernmental organizations working there, offered similar observations in its most recent status report. The number of violent incidents they counted from their stations in almost every province was 14 percent higher last year than in 2010, while the official military count showed a 3 percent decline.

“We find their suggestion that the insurgency is waning to be dangerous political fiction,” the report said.

In fact, attacks on the NGOs themselves increased by 20 percent. Compare that to the saccharine quote a Pentagon spokesman offered just after 40 people died in protests over the accidental burning of those Qurans on a US base in late February.

Senior officers “believe we have achieved significant progress in reversing the Taliban’s momentum and in developing the Afghan security forces,” he said. A few weeks later, a NATO-trained Afghan soldier shot and killed two British troops, and on the same day a police officer killed a NATO soldier. That brought the total number of Western forces that Afghan soldiers have killed – green on blue killings, as they’re now called – to 80.

As a result, the Afghan National Security Directorate is sending intelligence officers to infiltrate its own military and spy on the soldiers to ensure they are not Taliban traitors intent on killing Western allies. The army also ordered all of its several thousand soldiers whose homes and families are in Pakistan to move to Afghanistan or leave the force – understandably afraid they are likely traitors.

But then there’s a question about how competent those efforts will be.

“There is a systematic level of incompetence inside the Ministry of Defense that has gone on for so long that it has become a culture,” Andrew Mackay, a British major general, told the Sunday Telegraph. He, too, just returned from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

For example, the ministry hasn’t been able – or willing – to stop Afghan Air Force pilots, flying aircraft paid for by the United States, from using them for drug-trafficking flights. And no one has explained why nearly a dozen fully armed suicide vests were found inside the ministry building late last month.

All of this and more has led 66 percent of Americans to decide that the war is no longer worth fighting, a new Washington Post-ABC News survey found. Late last month, a New York Times-CBS News poll came to a similar conclusion: 69 percent said they believed the United States should end the war. Other surveys, by Gallup, the Pew Research Center and others, offered consistent findings.

That leaves Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney facing a quandary, particularly because most people in his own party now oppose the war. He has repeatedly said the nation’s goal should be to defeat the Taliban on the battlefield.

No one knows what finally pushed so many Americans to turn decisively against the war. Perhaps some of them heard Lt. Col. Davis on “Democracy Now” radio, saying: “Senior ranking US military leaders have so distorted the truth when communicating with the US Congress and American people in regards to conditions on the ground in Afghanistan that the truth has become unrecognizable.”

One major problem is that measuring success in this war is virtually impossible. What are the metrics? Unfortunately, that has led to a resumption of the much-maligned “body count” strategy – counting insurgent attacks and enemy dead.

Western forces have become “hopelessly mired in body count as a measure of success,” Mackay said. “The history of Vietnam tells us that’s a terrible way of doing it. But we’ve still gotten into: ‘Oh, we’ve killed 300 Taliban on this tour.’ ”

As the NGO report put it, “The only coherent strategy the international community ever had in Afghanistan was the one to leave.”

(c) 2012 Joel Brinkley Joel Brinkley, a professor of journalism at Stanford University, is a Pulitzer Prize-winning former foreign correspondent for the New York Times.
(c) 2012 Hearst Communications Inc.

ACTION ALERT: Keep Agent Orange Off Our Dinning Tables

April 22nd, 2012 - by admin

Food Democracy Now – 2012-04-22 17:16:54

http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/585?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=12

“Agent Orange” 2,4-D Corn is Coming to a Field Near You!

The first generation of biotech crops has failed. And failed badly.

In the last year alone, new studies have shown that Monsanto’s genetically-engineered Bt insecticide corn has not only created a new breed superbugs tolerant of the plant’s genetically engineered insecticide, but that those Bt toxins have also been found in the blood of 93 percent of woman and 80 percent of fetal blood samples in a Canadian study, despite Monsanto’s claims that this was not be possible.[1][2]

At the same time, Monsanto’s Roundup Ready corn and soybeans and their flagship herbicide have been linked to an increase in crop disease and livestock infertility.[3] If that weren’t enough, the excessive use of Roundup has led to the rampant rise of superweeds, which have grown tolerant to the herbicide and have infested millions of acres of farmland, threatening the livelihoods of America’s farmers.[4]

Now, Dow Chemical is petitioning the U.S. Department of Agriculture for the approval of a new genetically engineered “Agent Orange” corn that tolerates the extremely toxic chemical herbicide 2,4-D, a major component of the Vietnam War era defoliant Agent Orange.[5]

Numerous studies have linked exposure to 2,4-D to major health problems that include cancer (particularly non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma), lowered sperm counts, liver disease and Parkinson’s disease.[6] In addition, dozens of peer-reviewed studies have found the use of 2,4-D to contribute to hormone-disrupting activity linked to reproductive problems and thyroid dysfunction.[7]

Now they want to spray this chemical on our crops and fields!

Along with these major health impacts, the approval of Dow’s “Agent Orange” 2,4-D corn will likely lead to a massive explosion in the use of 2,4-D across the U.S. once the herbicide is approved for corn crops, a fact that has greatly alarmed scientists, environmentalists and farmers alike.

If the potential health problems and the escalating chemical arms race weren’t bad enough, 2,4-D is widely known among farmers for the problems with drift and volatilization, which means it’s difficult to control when applying and frequently leads to serious damage to neighboring farmer’s fields.

This concern over toxic chemical drift and damage to neighboring fields is so severe that it has led to the creation of a new farmer led organization, Save Our Crops Coalition, made up of more than 2,000 farmers and food companies who are petitioning the USDA to stop the approval of Dow’s 2,4-D corn.[8]

In a recent article by Reuters, John Bode, an attorney representing the group called 2,4-D one of “the most dangerous chemicals out there.” It should be noted that Bode was also a former assistant Secretary of Agriculture under President Ronald Reagan.

Considering the serious human health concerns, the threat to the environment and family farmers themselves, the USDA should move quickly to reject approval for Dow Chemical’s 2,4-D corn. Not only does it not serve the public interest, but it will lead to an ever increasing reliance on deadlier and more toxic chemicals to grow our food.

Click here to tell the USDA to Dump Dow’s “Agent Orange” corn to keep it off our fields — and your plates.

Thanks for participating in food democracy,
Dave, Lisa and the Food Democracy Now! team

Sources:

1. “Monsanto Corn May Be Failing to Kill Bugs in 4 States, EPA Says”, Bloomberg Businessweek, December 6, 2011
http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/577?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=14

2. “Study Found Toxin from GM Crops is Showing up in Human Blood”,
http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/578?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=16

3. “Mystery Science” More Details on the Strange Organism That Could Destroy Monsanto”, CBS News, May 5, 2011
http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/579?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=18

4. “Farmers Must Spend More on Herbicides as Effectiveness Fades” USA Today, April 16, 2012 http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/580?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=20

5. “Agent Orange”, Wikipedia http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/581?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=22

6. “Opposition grows to “Agent Orange” GM corn” The Organic and Non-GMO Report, February 1, 2012
http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/582?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=24

7. “Smarter Living: Chemical Index 2,4-D”, National Resource Defense Council,
www.nrdc.org/living/chemicalindex/2-4-d.asp

8. “Farm group seeks U.S. halt on “dangerous” crop chemicals”, Reuters, April 18, 2012 http://action.fooddemocracynow.org/go/583?akid=531.342880.iKqVgA&t=26

How Dare Russia: State Crimes and Accountability

April 22nd, 2012 - by admin

David Swanson / War Is a Crime – 2012-04-22 16:58:48

http://warisacrime.org/content/how-dare-russia

How Dare Russia
David Swanson / War Is a Crime

“Self-purification through suffering is easier, I tell you: easier — than that destiny which you are paving for many of them by wholesale acquittals in court. You are merely planting cynicism in their souls.”
–Fyodor Dostoyevsky

The United States Congress is outraged. Russia, it seems, may have wrongly imprisoned, tortured, and murdered a whistleblower. In the land of the free, our good representatives are outraged, I tell you. And not just I. NPR will tell you. This calls for action. There’s a bill in the Senate and a bill in the House. The Sergei Magnitsky Rule of Law Accountability Act.

Who wouldn’t support the rule of law and accountability?

Well, let me think.

Oh, I know. The United States Congress.

Bush and Cheney are selling books confessing to the crime of war and all that comes with it, including lawless imprisonment and torture. They have openly confessed in their books and on television, repeatedly, to a form of torture that the current Attorney General of the United States admits is torture. Bush’s torture program tortured numerous people to death. And what has Congress wrought?

No impeachments.

No enforcement of subpoenas.

No defunding of operations.

No criminalizing of secrecy.

No protection of whistleblowers.

No mandating of diplomacy, reparations, foreign aid, or commitments to international standards.

In other words, we have no Congress with the right to talk about the Rule of Law or Accountability without being mocked.

But keep hope alive.

Change is on the way.

Look!

Up in the sky!

It’s Captain Peace Prize!

Obama launches wars without bothering to lie to Congress or the United Nations, has formalized the powers of lawless imprisonment, rendition, and murder, and places the protection of Bush and Cheney above almost anything else — certainly above the rule of law or accountability.

Obama has badgered Spain, Italy, Germany, and the U.K. to leave the Bush gang in peace, publicly instructed the US Department of Justice not to prosecute, and expanded claims of “State Secrets” beyond anything previously imagined in order to shut down legal accountability. Italy has convicted CIA agents in absentia, and Obama has not shipped them over to do their time.

Poland is prosecuting its bit players in US crimes. Former top British official Jack Straw is being hauled into court for his tangential role. But Obama has chosen a path to success in Washington, or thinks he has, and that path is immunity for anyone with power.

The trouble is that Obama now wants to apply that same standard to Russia, and Congress won’t stand for it. Obama is opposed to the Hold Russia Accountable Act because he prefers to kiss up to the government of Russia. It’s a policy that has worked beautifully for him at home. Why not apply it abroad?

Of course, the United States has no moral standing to speak against imprisonment, torture, or murder. The United States imprisons more of its people than any other country, keeps hundreds of thousands of them in supermaxes or long-term isolation, tolerates prison rape and violence, openly treats torture as a policy option, facilitates torture in what may be the two countries torturing the greatest number of people today: Iraq and Afghanistan, and kills with capital punishment, special forces, and drones.

The United States has no moral standing to speak against the punishment of whistleblowers, Obama having prosecuted seven of them under the Espionage Act of 1917, fittingly enough for the offense of having made US war-making look bad by revealing facts about it.

But the answer cannot be to support Russian crimes just because there are US crimes. Congress, revolting as it is to say, is right: the Russian government should be held to a decent rule of law. And it should be held to it through the language that speaks louder than words: action. US immunity for torturers is one of the greatest factors in the current spread of acceptability for torture around the world.

Congress should impeach Bush and Obama, enforce its subpoenas, ship convicted CIA criminals to Italy, strengthen the War Powers Act, criminalize war profiteering, ban private mercenaries, ban unconstitutional detentions, ban secret budgets and laws and agencies, ban rendition, and ratify and enforce the Optional Protocol to the Convention against Torture and other Cruel Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment. Congress should also cease encircling Russia with missiles, and end its wars in Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc.

Or, short of moving in a useful direction, sad to say, the best thing the United States Congress could do for the rule of law in Russia at the moment would be to shut the hell up.

David Swanson’s books include “War Is A Lie.” He blogs at http://davidswanson.org and http://warisacrime.org and works for the online activist organization http://rootsaction.org. He hosts Talk Nation Radio

Earth Day 2012

April 22nd, 2012 - by admin

David Krieger / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation – 2012-04-22 16:47:07

http//www.wagingpeace.org

EARTH DAY 2012
David Krieger / Nuclear Age Peace Foundation

We live in a vast universe made up of billions of galaxies, each of which is made up of billions of stars. Our home is a small planet that revolves around a small sun in a remote galaxy. It is just the right distance from the sun that it is not too hot and not too cold to support life. It has air that is breathable, water that is drinkable, and topsoil suitable for growing crops.

In the immensity of space, it is a very small dot, what astrophysicist Carl Sagan referred to as a “pale blue dot.” Our Earth is the only place we know of that harbors life. It is precious beyond any riches that could be imagined.

One would think that any sane, self-reflecting creatures that lived on this planet would recognize its beauty and preciousness and would want to tend to it with care. In Antoine de Saint-Exupery’s classic book, The Little Prince, the prince says, “It’s a matter of discipline. When you’ve finished washing and dressing each morning, you must tend to your planet.”

But that is an imaginary planet with an imaginary little prince. On the real planet that supports life, the one we inhabit, there aren’t enough of us who exercise such discipline and tend to our planet with loving care.

Think about how we have managed our planet. We have allowed the planet to become divided into rich and poor, where a few people have billions of dollars and billions of people have few dollars. While some live in greed, the majority live in need. We have parceled the planet into entities we call countries and created borders that countries try to protect.

We have created military forces in these countries and given them enormous resources to prepare for war and to engage in war. Annual global military expenditures now exceed $1.6 trillion, while hundreds of millions of humans live without clean water, adequate nutrition, medical care and education.

We have eagerly exploited the planet’s resources with little concern for future generations or for the damage we cause to the environment. Instead of using renewable energy from the sun to provide our energy needs, we exploit the Earth’s stores of oil and transport them across the globe. We have turned much of the world into desert.

We have polluted the air we breathe and the water we drink. In our excess, we have pushed the planet toward the point of no return in global warming, and then argued global warming as a reason to build more nuclear power plants.

We keep relearning in tragic ways that we humans are fallible creatures. That is the lesson of our recurrent oil spills. It is also the lesson of the accidents at Chernobyl a quarter century ago and at Fukushima one year ago. It is a lesson that we urgently need to learn about nuclear weapons — weapons we have come close to accidentally using on many occasions and have twice used intentionally.

Nuclear weapons kill directly by blast, fire and radiation. The nuclear weapons used at Hiroshima and Nagasaki were small in comparison with today’s thermonuclear weapons. In recent years, we have learned some new things about nuclear war.

Atmospheric scientists have modeled a hypothetical nuclear war between India and Pakistan in which each side uses 50 Hiroshima-size nuclear weapons on the other side’s cities. In addition to the direct effects of the weapons, there would be significant indirect effects on the environment.

Smoke from the burning cities would rise into the stratosphere and reduce warming sunlight for ten years, which would lower average surface temperatures, reduce growing seasons and lead to global famine that could kill hundreds of millions of people.

That would be the result of a small nuclear war, using less than one percent of the operationally deployed nuclear weapons on the planet. A nuclear war between the US and Russia could lead to the extinction of most or all complex life on Earth, including human life.

As we celebrate Earth Day this year, 20 years after the end of the Cold War, both the US and Russia maintain hundreds of launch-ready, land-based inter-continental ballistic missiles on high-alert status, ready to be fired in moments.

We who are alive today are the trustees of this planet for future generations. We’re failing in our responsibility to pass it on intact. We need a new Earth ethic that embraces our responsibility for fairness to each other and to the future. We need new ways of educating that do not simply accept the status quo. We need to trade in our patriotism for a global humatriotism. We need a new approach to economics based on what is truly precious – life and the conditions that support it.

Earth Day will have its greatest value if it reminds us to care for our Earth and each other all the other days of the year, individually and through our public policy. We need to inspire people throughout the world, young and old alike, with a vision of the beauty and wonder of the Earth that we can now enjoy, restore and preserve for future generations if we tend to our planet with the discipline of the little prince.

David Krieger is President of the Nuclear Age Peace Foundation (www.wagingpeace.org) and a Councilor on the World Future Council.

ACTION ALERT: Protest Federal Budgets that Prioritize Weapons over Welfare

April 12th, 2012 - by admin

Ross Wallen / USAction & TrueMajority – 2012-04-12 01:17:11

http://act.truemajorityaction.org/letter/?letter_KEY=45&track=email_2885

ACTION ALERT: Bread Lines and Unemployment to Pay for an Arms Race

(April 10, 2012) — When the Soviet Union collapsed, a big part of the reason why was that they had been spending massive amounts of money on an arms race with the United States. To afford more bombers and fighter jets and nuclear missiles, the Soviets had to cut social programs, health care, education, even food subsidies.

The result was a total economic collapse leading to major governmental reforms — but not before thousands of innocent Russians were forced to wait in bread lines and suffer years of unemployment and hardship. It should be a lesson to the world that President Eisenhower was right when he said “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.”

But if Paul Ryan and Republicans have their way, the U.S. budget would follow the exact same priorities as the Soviet Union — slashing investment in social programs and employment, so we can buy more and more weapons we don’t need. That’s the message of a new Op-Ed by our Executive Director just out yesterday in major newspapers. And it’s a message President Obama and the Senate need to hear right now. [See statement below.]

Can you help us make sure everyone knows that we can’t afford to act like it’s 1989 and we’re still in an arms race with the Soviets? Click here to back up our message with your own letter to the editor.

In over a decade of fighting to end Pentagon spending, we’ve never seen an opportunity like this year. President Obama has put big cuts to the Pentagon budget on the table for serious consideration. And because Congress’ so-called Super Committee failed to come up with a better plan to cut the budget last year, Congress is actually obligated to cut spending on war and weapons in a HUGE way.

But Ryan and the House Republicans seem to have missed the memo. They’re proposing a big increase in military spending at the same time they want to cut Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid and more. It’s a recipe for disaster just like it was for the Soviets.

President Obama and your Senators are out of D.C. and campaigning this week. That means they’re reading local newspapers and listening for what issues voters are most concerned about. If we can double down on our opinion piece today and spark a national conversation on Pentagon spending, we’ve got a great chance to influence them and stop the Republican plan to bankrupt the economy with out-of-control weapons spending.

But only if we act fast. Can you write a short letter today to make sure our message is seen and heard by key decision makers before they head back to D.C.?


Blank Check for the Military Will Send America the Way of the Soviet Union
Jeff Blum / The Huffington Post

(April 9, 2012) — When the Soviet Union collapsed in 1991, many strategists suggested that the Cold War arms race had bankrupted its economy and caused its downfall. More than 20 years later, it appears that some in Washington are driving the U.S. toward a similar fate.

Most recently, House Republicans (led by Rep. Paul Ryan) introduced a budget that both lavishly funds the Pentagon and slashes domestic programs. Mr. Ryan has even questioned whether generals were being honest in their assessment of the president’s budget, suggesting, “We don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice.” House Republicans seem to be ignoring the advice of our military leaders and are seeking to fund the Pentagon beyond what it requires or has requested.

For example, the Joint Strike Fighter (F-35) is now slated to cost the American taxpayer $1.5 trillion, with about a trillion attributable to its expensive maintenance costs. This is a perfect example of wasteful programs: the F-35 is becoming too expensive to bother flying in the first place. Instead of delaying contracts, it’s time for elected officials to pull the plug.

Meanwhile, the foundations of a strong economy — public education, infrastructure development, commitments to research and development and a secure safety net that protects our most vulnerable citizens from poverty — go starved for funding. This is the trade-off of the Ryan Republican budget proposal.

Military leaders agree that we must address our economic security as the foundation of our national security. Adm. Michael Mullen, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, has noted that “the most significant threat to our national security is our debt.” With that in mind, this is a time for tough decisions on both sides of the aisle, not a time to toe the party line and protect unwanted programs.

Meanwhile, the United States is in an arms race with itself. No other country can compete with the size of our military budgets, the lethality of our weapons or the global reach of our armed services.

We dominate a vacuum of power. The Air Force’s only rival in the air is the U.S. Navy, owner of the world’s second-largest air force. On the seas, the Navy is unrivaled but continues to add ships to the fleet. In this vacuum, members of Congress challenge each service to outspend each other, far beyond what is feasible for true national security. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta noted, “you’ve also got to take into consideration the national security threat that comes from the huge deficits and the huge debt that we’re running.” We cannot afford to avoid tough decisions when it comes to our budget. We certainly can’t afford to give each branch of the military a blank check for weapons systems we don’t need.

Meanwhile, we maintain a vast and redundant nuclear arsenal that brings very little national security benefit and is more relevant to the Cold War than any 21st century threats. Instead of escalating our own nuclear arsenal, we should be dedicated to preventing rogue states and terrorist organizations from acquiring nuclear materials.

Lobbyists and private contractors profit from this arms race. Hugely expensive projects like nuclear submarines and a new generation of bomber contribute more to defending the bottom line of major contractors than they do to defending America. Our government now employs more defense contractors than members of the military, at a greater cost to the American citizen. It is time to move away from a self-perpetuating procurement process that counts national security in dollars — not sense.

Runaway Pentagon spending exacts a very high price on our economy. It is no exaggeration to say that excessive military spending is starving state and city budgets, costing us millions of jobs and perpetuating the recession for many Americans. Dollar for dollar, money invested in weapons produces fewer jobs than money invested in education, green jobs, or a myriad of other industries, according to a study by the Political Economy Research Institute at the University of Massachusetts in Amherst.

If our leaders in Washington want to strengthen our security, they should enact smart cuts in the U.S. military budget and reallocate those funds to the most fundamental source of our strength: our economy.

This is a dangerous time for elected officials to play politics with the budget. Luckily, Sens. Barbara A. Mikulski and Ben Cardin are both in positions to lead the charge against short-sighted budgets. Senator Mikulski is a member of the Defense Appropriations Committee and Senator Cardin is a member of the Budget Committee. They have opportunities to be vocal advocates of Pentagon budget reform and demand more common sense when it comes to reinforcing our economy.

This is a time to make serious decisions and strengthen our economic foundation, but the Ryan budget misses that mark by a wide margin. It is an unserious effort when serious ones are required.

Jeff Blum, a Baltimore native, is executive director of USAction, a federation of 22 state affiliates (including Progressive Maryland) that organizes for progressive change.

This post originally appeared in the Baltimore Sun on April 9, 2012.

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