Tuesday, May 29, 2012

US Chemical War Newsletter #1

OMNI CHEMICAL WARFARE NEWSLETTER #1. Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace.

Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters: http://www.omnicenter.org/newsletter-archive/ For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for change. See: War Crimes, Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), Vietnam War.


Page 15


The Legacy of Agent Orange is a Continuing Focus of VVAW By Paul Cox

By the time you read this [2008], the fourth Vietnamese delegation of Agent Orange victims co-sponsored by VVAW will have finished their 10-city tour, including a stop in Chicago where they were hosted by VVAW. Public events were held at the Gage Gallery in Roosevelt University and at the Jane Hull House, and they were interviewed on NPR's World View program. Bob Gronko did a great job organizing their stay in Chicago, and VVAW made a generous donation to support the tour.

VVAW has a long history of fighting for justice for victims of Agent Orange poisoning; VVAW was a loud and clear voice exposing AO and calling for help and compensation for veterans suffering the ill effects of AO/dioxin since 1978. In recent years, VVAW has strongly supported the Vietnamese people in their efforts to achieve recognition and for relief from the massive damage AO/dioxin has done to their environment and their people.

VVAW has hosted in Chicago Agent Orange victims delegations in 2005, 2007, and October 2008 (the other delegation went only to DC). The delegations are from the Vietnam Association of Victims of Agent Orange/dioxin (VAVA), which is the membership organization in Vietnam fighting for justice for the Vietnamese. Dave Cline and Bill Davis—both of whom we lost last year—and many others in VVAW have worked hard on the AO issue, which continues to develop as more information becomes available about its effects. But much more work is needed.

As reported in the last issue of The Veteran, the US Court of Appeals failed in its duty to reinstate the VAVA lawsuit against the chemical companies that was dismissed by Jack Weinstein. On October 6, attorneys for VAVA filed a writ of certiorari with the Supreme Court asking them to hear the case for reinstatement. This court, though, is not likely to accept the case, but the Vietnamese want to exhaust all remedies. Whether or not the case dies at the steps of the Supreme Court, the struggle will continue.

As you may know the Vietnam Agent Orange Relief and Responsibility Campaign (VAORRC) is one of the organizations in the US that is working to support VAVA. Dave Cline and Bill Davis were on the national board and national coordinators of VAORRC, as are VVAW members Barry Romo and Paul Cox. At the steps of the Supreme Court, VAORRC launched the international corporate campaign against Dow and Monsanto: "Do the right thing – compensate Vietnam's Agent Orange victims!" Next year VAORRC will mount a legislative campaign to convince Congress to step up to our responsibilities and provide—if for no other reason—real funds for humanitarian assistance to the Vietnamese victims of AO. The legislation has not yet been written, but a number of influential congress members and senators have expressed firm support for such a bill. When the bill is submitted, it should have provisions for a number of distinct projects:

• Environmental clean-up of the forty identified hotspots.

• Stationary or mobile clinics for pre-natal testing of pregnant women who may have been exposed to AO.

• Testing programs for populations living near hot spots for dioxin in their bodies.

• Genetic and epidemiological research into the multi-generational effects of dioxin exposure.

• Reconstructive surgery for the many children with deformities whose lives could be improved by it.

• Prostheses, wheelchairs, accessibility modifications to habitat, and independent living training for those whose can benefit from such aid.

• Medical treatment for those sick from AO.

• Long-term supportive care for those who are disabled from exposures or birth defects.

• Financial assistance to those families driven into poverty due to disabilities or birth defects of family members.

Getting comprehensive well-funded legislation through Congress will take a major advocacy effort. If it is to be successful, it will require some effort from every VVAW member and supporter, and every person in this country who thinks our nation needs to step up to its responsibilities. Once the legislation is introduced, we will all have to contact our representatives and urge them to support it. Actually, in some cases, we will have to not only urge it; we will have to require it, insist upon it, demand it, and shout it. It will be a fight worthy of VVAW!


(Paul Cox, VFP Chapter 69)

Whereas, The U.S. government, in violation of international law, waged massive chemical warfare in Vietnam, including the use of Agent Orange and other herbicides containing highly toxic dioxin, from 1961 to 1971, and 10

Whereas, Chemical companies, including Dow Chemical and Monsanto and thirty-six others, knowingly and unnecessarily produced Agent Orange contaminated with dioxin, and

Whereas, Dioxin exposure causes various forms of cancers, reproductive illnesses, immune deficiency, endocrine deficiencies, nervous system damage, physical and developmental disabilities, emotional problems, and epigenetic effects, and

Whereas, In Vietnam more than three million people, and in the U.S. hundreds of thousands of veterans, their children, and Vietnamese-Americans, have been sickened, disabled or died from the effects of Agent Orange/dioxin, and

Whereas, Dioxin residues in the soil, sediment, and food continue to poison many people in numerous areas throughout southern Vietnam, and

Whereas, Vietnamese of least three generations born since the war are now suffering from disabilities due to their parents’ exposure to Agent Orange or from direct exposure in the environment, and

Whereas, Many Veterans for Peace members and other veterans suffer from affects of Agent Orange due to their exposure in Vietnam, as do their children, and

Whereas, Vietnamese Americans have the same types and incidence of health problems related to Agent Orange as the Vietnamese and US Veterans, and

Whereas, The U.S. government has refused to recognize its responsibility clean up the contamination it left in Vietnam or to heal the wounds of war, and has failed to provide assistance for the serious health, economic and environmental devastation caused by Agent Orange that continues through to the present day, and

Whereas, Dow Chemical and Monsanto and the other chemical manufacturers have refused to recognize that Agent Orange is deleterious to human health and have refused to recognize their responsibility to compensate their victims in Vietnam, and

Whereas, 2011 marks the fiftieth anniversary of the start of the defoliation program in Vietnam in 1961 without any significant remedial action by the U.S. government or the chemical companies, and

Whereas, Veterans for Peace has a long history of holding the US Government and the chemical companies accountable to all victims of Agent Orange both in Vietnam and in the U.S., and

Whereas, Congressman Bob Filner has in July, 2011, introduced legislation into the House of Representatives—Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2001, HR 2634—that contains four elements: environmental remediation of the widespread dioxin contamination in Vietnam; assistance to Vietnamese Agent Orange victims for health care and other necessary social services; creation of regional medical centers in the US for the Agent-Orange-affected children and grandchildren of US veterans; and medical assistance to the Vietnamese-Americans affected by Agent Orange.

Therefore, Be It Resolved, Veterans for Peace calls for all Congress members to co-sponsor and support HR 2634, Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011,

And Be It Further Resolved, Veterans for Peace calls on all Senators to enact and support similar legislation. 11

And Be It Further Resolved, Veterans for Peace calls for Dow Chemical, Monsanto, and the other chemical companies to assume their responsibility by allocating funds to make a significant contribution to meet the needs of victims of Agent Orange in Vietnam.

Approved at the 2011 VFP national convention – Portland, OR

1. Veterans For Peace :: ABOUT VFP


Results 1 - 15 of 124 – We found 124 pages based on your search ( Agent Orange ). ... Support Of Agent Orange Victims, Justice for Vietnamā€™s Agent Orange ... OF AGENT ORANGE RELIEF ACT OF 2011, HR 2634, SUPPORT FOR 2011 US . ... by Paul Cox Originally ... of the lawsuit by the Vietnam Association for Victims ...

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Veterans For Peace National Resolutions


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3. News- Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign ...


H.R. 2634, the Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011 .... Tribunal of Conscience in Support of the Vietnamese Victims of Agent Orange 1. ... Heading the delegation is Paul Cox (Read Paul Cox's statement » and Claire Tran's statement ».

4. Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign


Sign the Postcard to Congress in support of the Victims of Agent Orange Act of ... The Agent Orange Legislation: Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011, July ...

5. Legislation HR# 2634- Agent Orange Victims Relief Act of 2011 ...


Jul 27, 2011 – The legislation to help Agent Orange affected Vietnamese, children of US ... Legislation HR# 2634- Agent Orange Victims Relief Act of 2011 ...

6. The Legacy of Agent Orange is a Continuing Focus of VVAW


VVAW has a long history of fighting for justice for victims of Agent Orange ... efforts to achieve recognition and for relief from the massive damage AO/dioxin has done ... coordinators of VAORRC, as are VVAW members Barry Romo and Paul Cox. ... congress members and senators have expressed firm support for such a bill.

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File Format: PDF/Adobe Acrobat - Quick View

Feb 1, 2012 – after all previous wars, and to help correct the past and to protect future ..... The invocation was given by Rich Cox,. National ... Paul Carro and Gus Dante opposed. ... HR 2634. Victims of Agent Orange Relief Act of 2011.

8. Vietnam Agent Orange Relief & Responsibility Campaign - KeyWiki

keywiki.org/.../Vietnam_Agent_Orange_Relief_%26_Responsibility_ ...

50+ items – In support of justice for Vietnamese Agent Orange victims, ...

Elliott Adams (former President, Veterans for Peace, MO)

Steve Ault (Gay & lesbian activist, NY)


From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

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CS gas

IUPAC name[hide]


Other names[hide]

Tear gas


CAS number




Jmol-3D images

Image 1






Molecular formula

C10H5Cl N2[2]

Molar mass

188.6 g/mol[1]

Appearance White crystalline powder

Colourless gas when burned


1.04 g/cm3

Melting point

93°C, (366.15 K), (199.4 °F)

Boiling point

310 °C, (583.15 K), (590 °F)[3]

Vapor pressure

(mm Hg) 3.4 × 10−5 at 20 °C



External MSDS

NFPA 704




Related compounds

Related compounds SDBS

Supplementary data page

Structure and


n, εr, etc.



Phase behaviour

Solid, liquid, gas

Spectral data


(verify) (what is: / ?)

Except where noted otherwise, data are given for materials in their standard state (at 25 °C, 100 kPa)

Infobox references

2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile (also called o-chlorobenzylidene malononitrile) (chemical formula: C10H5ClN2), a cyanocarbon, is the defining component of a "tear gas" commonly referred to as CS gas, which is used as a riot control agent. "CS gas" is actually an aerosol of a volatile solvent (a substance that dissolves other active substances and that easily evaporates with it) and 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile, which is a solid compound at room temperature. CS gas is generally accepted as being non-lethal. It was discovered by two Americans, Ben Corson and Roger Stoughton, at Middlebury College in 1928, and the chemical's name is derived from the first letters of the scientists' surnames.[4][5]

CS was developed and tested secretly at Porton Down in Wiltshire, England, in the 1950s and 1960s. CS was used first on animals, then subsequently on British Army servicemen volunteers. Notably, CS has a limited effect on animals due to "under-developed tear-ducts and protection by fur".[6]



• 1 Production

o 1.1 Use as an aerosol

• 2 Effects

• 3 Toxicity

• 4 Decontamination

• 5 Use

o 5.1 Bahrain

o 5.2 Egypt

o 5.3 Cyprus

o 5.4 Iraq

o 5.5 Israel

o 5.6 Philippines

o 5.7 Sri Lanka

o 5.8 United Kingdom

 5.8.1 Northern Ireland

 5.8.2 Great Britain

o 5.9 United States

o 5.10 Vietnam

o 5.11 Elsewhere

• 6 See also

• 7 References

• 8 External links

[edit] Production

CS is synthesized by the reaction of 2-chlorobenzaldehyde and malononitrile via the Knoevenagel condensation:

ClC6H4CHO + H2C(CN)2 → ClC6H4CHC(CN)2 + H2O

The reaction is catalysed with weak base like piperidine or pyridine. The production method has not changed since the substance was discovered by Corson and Stoughton.[7] Other bases, solvent free methods and microwave promotion have been suggested to improve the production of the substance.[8]

The physiological properties had been discovered already by the chemists first synthesising the compound in 1928: "Physiological Properties. Certain of these dinitriles have the effect of sneeze and tear gases. They are harmless when wet but to handle the dry powder is disastrous."[7]

[edit] Use as an aerosol

As 2-chlorobenzalmalononitrile is a solid at room temperature, not a gas, a variety of techniques have been used to make this solid usable as an aerosol:

• Melted and sprayed in the molten form.

• Dissolved in organic solvent.

• CS2 dry powder (CS2 is a siliconized, micro-pulverized form of CS).

• CS from thermal grenades by generation of hot gases.[1]

In the Waco Siege, CS was dissolved in the organic solvent dichloromethane (also known as methylene chloride). The solution was dispersed as an aerosol via explosive force and when the highly volatile dichloromethane evaporated, CS crystals precipitated and formed a fine dispersion in the air.[1]

[edit] Effects

Many types of tear gas and other riot control agents have been produced with effects ranging from mild tearing of the eyes to immediate vomiting and prostration. CN and CS are the most widely used and known, but around 15 different types of tear gas have been developed worldwide e.g. adamsite or bromoacetone, CNB, and CNC. CS has become the most popular due to its strong effect and lack of toxicity in comparison with other similar chemical agents. The effect of CS on a person will depend on whether it is packaged as a solution or used as an aerosol. The size of solution droplets and the size of the CS particulates after evaporation are factors determining its effect on the human body.[9]

The chemical reacts with moisture on the skin and in the eyes, causing a burning sensation and the immediate forceful and uncontrollable shutting of the eyes. Effects usually include tears streaming from the eyes, profuse coughing, exceptional nasal discharge that is full of mucus, burning in the eyes, eyelids, nose and throat areas, disorientation, dizziness and restricted breathing. It will also burn the skin where sweaty and or sunburned. In highly concentrated doses it can also induce severe coughing and vomiting. Almost all of the immediate effects wear off within an hour (such as exceptional nasal discharge and profuse coughing), although the feeling of burning and highly irritated skin may persist for hours. Affected clothing will need to be washed several times or thrown away.

[edit] Toxicity

Bogside Artists' mural of a boy running from CS gas in Derry.

Although described as a non-lethal weapon for crowd control, many studies have raised doubts about this classification. As well as creating severe pulmonary damage, CS can also significantly damage the heart and liver.[10]

On September 28, 2000, Prof. Dr. Uwe Heinrich released a study commissioned by John C. Danforth, of the United States Office of Special Counsel, to investigate the use of CS by the FBI at the Branch Davidians' Mount Carmel compound. He concluded that the lethality of CS used would have been determined mainly by two factors: whether gas masks were used and whether the occupants were trapped in a room. He suggests that if no gas masks were used and the occupants were trapped, then, "...there is a distinct possibility that this kind of CS exposure can significantly contribute to or even cause lethal effects."[1]

Many reports have associated CS exposure with miscarriages.[10] This is consistent with its reported clastogenic effect (abnormal chromosome change) on mammalian cells.

When CS is metabolized, cyanide can be detected in human tissue.[10] According to the United States Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine, CS emits "very toxic fumes" when heated to decomposition, and at specified concentrations CS gas is an immediate danger to life and health. They also state that those exposed to CS gas should seek medical attention immediately.[2]

In Israel, CS gas was reported to be the cause of death of Jawaher Abu Rahmah on December 31, 2010,[11] although the Israel Defence Forces have questioned the veracity of the report. In Egypt, CS gas was reported to be the cause of death of several protesters in Mohamed Mahmoud street near Tahrir square on November 2011 protests.

It has been noted that the solvent MiBK is itself harmful, and can cause inflammation, dermatitis, burns to the skin and liver damage.[12]

[edit] Decontamination

CS contamination can be removed by washing with an alkaline solution of water and 5% sodium bisulfite.[6][13]

[edit] Use

RWGŁ-3 Polish tear gas grenade launcher.

CS was used to flush the Viet Cong from their tunnels in Vietnam.

CS is used in spray form by many police forces as a temporary incapacitant and to subdue attackers or persons who are violently aggressive. Officers that are trained in the use and application of CS spray are routinely exposed to it as part of their training.

Recently, blank pistol cartridges carrying CS in powder form have been released to public. These, when fired in relatively close ranges, fully expose the target to the effects of CS, and are employed as a potent defensive weapon in regions where blank firing pistols are legally permitted for such use.

Although predominantly used by police it has also been used in criminal attacks in various countries.[14][15][16][17]

Use of CS in war is prohibited under the terms of the 1997 Chemical Weapons Convention, signed by most nations in 1993 with all but five other nations signing between the years of 1994 through 1997. The reasoning behind the prohibition is pragmatic: use of CS by one combatant could easily trigger retaliation with much more toxic chemical weapons such as nerve agents. Only five nations have not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention and are therefore unhindered by restrictions on the use of CS gas: Angola, Egypt, North Korea, Somalia, and Syria.[18]

Domestic police use of CS is legal in many countries, however, as the Chemical Weapons Convention prohibits only military use.

[edit] Bahrain

Bahrain riot police use tear gas on protesters in Manama during 2011-2012 Bahraini uprising

CS gas has been used extensively by Bahrain's police since the start of the 2011 Bahraini Uprising.[19](p260) The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry concluded that Bahrain's police used a disproportionate amount of CS gas when dispersing protests, and that in a number of situations, police fired CS gas into private homes in an "unnecessary and indiscriminate" manner.[19](p277) In one particular incident witnessed by Commission investigators, police fired "at least four tear gas canisters (each containing six projectiles) ... from a short range into the kitchen and living room of a home."[19](p261)

According to opposition activists and families of the deceased, ten individuals have died as a result of CS gas between 25 March 2011 and 17 December 2011.[20][21][22][23][24][25][26][27][28][29] One allegedly died from the impact of the CS gas canister[25], and the remainder are said to have died from the effects of inhaling the gas. The Bahrain Independent Commission of Inquiry received information that a further three deaths may have been attributable to the use of CS gas.[19](pp239-40,253) Of these three, one allegedly died from the impact of the canister, and two from the effects of inhaling the gas.

[edit] Egypt

CS was widely used by Egypt's Police/Military Forces in November 2011. The CS gas used was imported from the US.[citation needed]

[edit] Cyprus

CS was first tested in the field by the British army in Cyprus in 1958. At this time it was known by the code name T792.[30]

[edit] Iraq

Iraq successfully developed CS during the 1970s and during the 1980s produced tons of the substance firstly at Salman Pak and later at al-Muthanna.[31] Then-Iraqi leader Saddam Hussein ordered troops to use nerve agents against Iraqi Kurds in his own country and against Iran during the Iran–Iraq War. It is believed that Iraqi forces used multiple chemical agents during the attack, including mustard gas and the nerve agents sarin, soman, tabun and VX;[32] some sources have also pointed to the blood agent hydrogen cyanide.

Main article: Halabja poison gas attack

Blackwater Worldwide, acting as an agent of the United States, deployed CS in the Iraq War from a helicopter hovering over a checkpoint in the Green Zone in Bagdhad.[33]

[edit] Israel

Israel Police forces spray CS gas at riot control situations. It is widely used at demonstrations within the Palestinian Territories and at the Israeli West Bank barrier.[34][35]

[edit] Philippines

CS tear gas was used in suppression of the mutiny in Makati that was led by Sen. Antonio Trillanes. The tear gas was fired in the building and all the people in the building including reporters were affected.[citation needed]

[edit] Sri Lanka

The LTTE, also known as Tamil Tigers of Sri Lanka, an insurgent group in Sri Lanka used CS gas against government forces that were on an offensive to flush and defeat these insurgents during September 2008.[36] Its use hindered the army's progress but ultimately proved ineffective in preventing the army from overrunning LTTE positions.

This is one of the first few cases of insurgents using CS gas as an insurgent weapon.

[edit] United Kingdom

[edit] Northern Ireland

A mural in Derry, Northern Ireland of a young boy in a gas mask holding a petrol bomb during the Battle of the Bogside, August 1969.

CS gas was used extensively in the Bogside area of Derry, Northern Ireland during the "Battle of the Bogside", a two-day riot in August, 1969. A total of 1,091 canisters containing 12.5g of CS each, and 14 canisters containing 50g of CS each, were released in the densely populated residential area.[37] On 30 August the Himsworth Inquiry was set up to investigate the medical effects of its use in Derry. Its conclusions, viewed in the political context of the time, still pointed towards the necessity of further testing of CS gas before being used as a riot control agent. During the rioting in Belfast, the following year, known as the Falls Curfew, the Army fired up to 1,600 canisters into the densely populated Falls Road area. It was also used in Lenadoon on 9 July 1972 on the breakdown of the IRA ceasefire. Not long after, the British Army and RUC ceased using CS in Northern Ireland. Up to this point, it had been used in crowd control scenarios in Derry and Belfast.

[edit] Great Britain

The first use of CS gas on the UK mainland that was not part of military training was carried out in 1944 during a hostage siege at a North London address. Soldiers were asked to throw CS grenades through the skylight in hope of bringing the incident to a speedy conclusion, however, the hostage-taker had brought his civilian-issue gas mask with him, negating the effect.[citation needed]

The siege of Trough Gate, in Oldham, during 1973 was the second non-military use of CS gas on UK Mainland. It was applied to the rear of a van where the chief suspect was hiding. The suspect committed suicide with the handgun he was armed with.

The first use of CS tear gas to quell rioting in mainland Britain was in the Toxteth area of Liverpool in 1981.[38]

CS gas incapacitant sprays were first introduced into the British police in 1995, to assist them in dealing with violent incidents.[39] The CS is in the form of a hand-held aerosol canister, with the solution being 5% CS, with methyl isobutyl ketone as the solvent, which is propelled by pressurized nitrogen. The liquid stream is directed where the user points the canister, being accurate up to 4 metres. All forces dictate that for an officer to be authorised to carry CS, they have to have completed a training course in the spray's use. Under UK firearm law CS and other incapacitant sprays are classed as prohibited weapons, making it unlawful for a member of the public to possess such an item. In recent years, some forces have stopped using CS, in favour of the new PAVA spray.[40]

A six month trial by sixteen police forces in England began on the 1 March 1996. Only two weeks later, on 16 March 1996, a Gambian asylum seeker, Ibrahima Sey was taken to Ilford Police Station in east London. Whilst incapacitating the man, police sprayed him with CS and held him on the ground for over 15 minutes, and he subsequently died. Although a verdict of unlawful killing was given by the jury at the end of the inquest into his death, no charges were brought against any member of the police force.[41]

The police forces that do use the PIS in the UK require that the personnel undergoing training should themselves be sprayed with a 3% dissolved CS, during self-defense training, in order for them to be able to be authorized to carry it as personal protection equipment. They are also trained in helping the incapacitated person recover quickly once successfully restrained. Most forces currently issue CS spray to its officers, but there has been a recent move for a few forces to issue PAVA Spray (pelargonic acid vanillylamide aka nonivamide).

The CS spray used by UK police is generally more concentrated than spray used by American police forces depending on the particular city/state (e.g. Campus Police, Keyser, West Virginia.[42]

In 1999 the UK mental health charity MIND called for a suspension in its use until it is fully tested and there is proof that CS is safe.[43]

In February 2006, there were calls to have CS spray banned in the UK after Dan Ford, from Wareham in Dorset, was permanently facially scarred after being sprayed in the face with a police CS canister. Mr Ford was subsequently advised by doctors to stay out of sunlight for at least 12 months. After the incident, his cousin, Donna Lewis, was quoted as saying, "To look at him, it was like looking at a melting man, with liquid oozing from his face."[44] However, it has not yet been confirmed that Mr Ford's injury was a reaction to having been exposed to police CS spray, or whether an unrelated chemical exposure caused the injury. An investigation is ongoing.

In January 2011, CS was used by the Metropolitan Police at a UK Uncut protest in London.[45][46]

The British Armed Forces use CS gas annually to test their CBRN equipment. During initial training they introduce recruits to CS gas by ordering them into a small enclosed space known as a Respirator Test Facility (RTF) and igniting chemical tablets to induce CS production. After recruits have carried out their CBRN drills, they must remove their respirators and inhale the CS to realise it effects and become confident their masks work.[not in citation given] [47][48]

[edit] United States

CS is used by many police forces within the United States. It was most famously used as one of a number of techniques by Federal Bureau of Investigation law enforcement officials in the 1993 Waco Siege.[49]

Riot police in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in September, 2009 used CS gas and riot control techniques to disperse assemblies in the vicinity of the 2009 G-20 Pittsburgh summit.

In Berkeley, California during the Bloody Thursday events in People's Park on Wednesday, May 21, 1969, a midday memorial was held for student James Rector, a non-protester shot to death by police, at Sproul Plaza on the University campus. In his honor, several thousand people peacefully assembled to listen to speakers remembering his life. Without warning, National Guard troops surrounded Sproul Plaza, donned their gas masks, and pointed their bayonets inward, while helicopters dropped CS gas directly on the trapped crowd. No escape was possible, and the gas caused acute respiratory distress, disorientation, temporary blindness and vomiting. Many people, including children and the elderly, were injured during the ensuing panic. The gas was so intense that breezes carried it into Cowell Memorial Hospital, endangering patients, interrupting operations and incapacitating nurses. Students at nearby Jefferson and Franklin elementary schools were also affected.[50][51]

Members of the United States armed forces are exposed to CS during initial training, and during training refresher courses or equipment maintenance exercises, using CS tablets that are melted on a hotplate. This is to demonstrate the importance of properly wearing a gas or protective mask, as the agent's presence quickly reveals an improper fit or seal of the mask's rubber gaskets against the face. Following exposure while wearing a mask, recruits are ordered to remove the masks and endure exposure in the room for one minute. These exercises also encourage confidence in the ability of the equipment to protect the wearer from such chemical attacks. Such an event is a requirement for graduation from United States Army Basic Training, Air Force Basic Military Training, Navy Basic Training, and Marine Corps recruit training.[52] CS gas in the form of grenades is also used extensively in the United States Marine Corps in some service schools. CS gas is used during the final field exercise of the Scout Sniper Basic Course to simulate being compromised. In addition, it is used during the 25 km (16 mi) escape-and-evasion exercise ("Trail of Tears"), the last event before graduation from the course. It is also used during several events in the Marine Corps Basic Reconnaissance Course (BRC) including some rucksack runs and escape-and-evasion exercises. While students going through the course are given the opportunity to bring and wear a gas mask for the event, usually none are worn because once donned, gas masks could not be removed until the end of the exercise. This could last anywhere from 3–12 hours and would make running 25 km while wearing 125 lb (57 kg) of gear virtually impossible.

[edit] Vietnam

It has been reported that thousands of tons of CS gas were used by the U.S. forces in Vietnam to bring Viet Cong into the open. It was also used by the North Vietnamese forces in some battles like Hue in 1968 or during the Easter Offensive in 1972.[53]

[edit] Elsewhere

Police fire tear gas at protesters in Quebec.

CS gas has been and is still routinely used by Greek riot police (MAT) in order to quell student and labor protests, as well as riots by hooligans. In some cases gas had expired for more than thirty years. The legality and safety of the use of CS by policemen has been challenged both by people within Greece and the European Union.[citation needed]

CS was used to quell a protest in Lusaka, Zambia in July 1997 and the 1999 WTO riots in Seattle. Amnesty International reported that it had been manufactured by the UK company Pains-Wessex. Subsequently, Amnesty called for an export ban when the receiving regime is either not fully trained in the use of CS, or had shown usage "contrary to the manufacturer’s instructions".[54]

In September 2000, the Guardian newspaper revealed how a UK company, HPP, used legal loopholes to export CS to a private security company in Rwanda, in breach of United Nations sanctions.[55] The Guardian also reported that CS was used by the Hutu militia in Rwanda to flush Tutsis out of buildings before hacking them to death.

CS has been used by the government in South Africa; by Israel against Palestinians and Israelis; by the South Korean government in Seoul, and during the Balkan conflicts by Serbia. In Malta it was used by Police between 1981 and 1987 to the detriment of Nationalist Party Supporters.

CS tear gas was used at the G8 protests in Genoa, Italy[56] and Quebec City, Canada[57] during the FTAA anti-globalization demonstrations during the Quebec City Summit of the Americas.

The Malaysia Federal Reserve Unit has also been known to use CS tear gas against its citizens who rallied for clean and fair elections under what were called Bersih rallies in 2011 [58] and 2012. [59]

The Canadian, Norwegian and Australian Armies train their soldiers with CS gas in a manner similar to that of the USA, as it is a basic part of CBRN (Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear) training. Gas is released by burning tablets, usually in a building reserved for this purpose (a "gas hut"). In the training, the person enters the building unprotected, and must fit and clear the gas mask before leaving. Other drills such as drinking and under-mask decontamination are also practiced. Some Norwegian units are exposed to CS-gas while engaged in physical activity such as push-ups.

WAR RESISTERS LEAGUE CAMPAIGN AGAINST TEAR GAS 2012. To participate contact WRL’s Ali Issa at ali@warresisters.org

US War on Terrorism Newsletter #5

OMNI NEWSLETTER #5 ON US WAR ON TERRORISM, May 29, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace. (#4 Jan. 19, 2012).

Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters:


Related Newsletters: Afghanistan, Air War, Bases, Bush, CIA, Homeland Security, Imperialism, Indefinite Detention, Iraq, Lawlessness, Militarism, National Security State, 9-11, Obama, Pakistan, Pentagon, Secrecy, State Terrorism, Surveillance, Terrorism, Torture , War Crimes, Wars, and more.

Contents of #4

Cole and Lobel, Less Safe, Less Free

Costs of Privatized War on Terror

Klare: Al Qaeda to China

Obama, Oil, China

Allende to Bin Laden

Mother Jones: FBI vs. Muslims, Continued Rendition

JPN: Islamophobia Around the World

Younge: Bigotry and Europe’s Terrorists

FAIR: Perceiving “Islamic Terror” in Norway

Contents of #5

Bacevitch, What Is It?

European Nations and US

Engelhardt and Bacevich, Special Operations

Who’s Winning?

FBI’s Manufactured Plots

Silverstein, “Terrorism Expert”

In Colombia

Scoring the Global War on Terror

Andrew Bacevich, Op-Ed, TomDispatch, Feb. 19, 2012. “With the United States now well into the second decade of what the Pentagon has styled an ‘era of persistent conflict,’ the war formerly known as the global war on terrorism (unofficial acronym WFKATGWOT) appears increasingly fragmented and diffuse. Without achieving victory, yet unwilling to acknowledge failure, the United States military has withdrawn from Iraq. It is trying to leave Afghanistan, where events seem equally unlikely to yield a happy outcome.” READ
SHARE http://www.nationofchange.org/scoring-global-war-terror-1329668103 http://tomdispatch.blogspot.com/2012/02/from-liberation-to-assassination.html

“Rights Chief Slams EU For Cooperation In U.S. Renditions”

European Union Human Rights Council , European Union Renditions , US. Renditions ,

BRUSSELS — Europe's human rights chief launched a blistering attack Thursday on European governments' counterterrorism actions, accusing them of helping the United States commit "countless" crimes in the past 10 years.

The 10-year anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks is an occasion to analyze whether the official responses have been proper and effective, said Thomas Hammarberg, the Council of Europe's rights commissioner.

"In attempting to combat crimes attributed to terrorists, countless further crimes have been committed in the course of the U.S.-led 'global war on terror,'" he said in a statement. "Many of those crimes have been carefully and deliberately covered up."

European governments were "deeply complicit" in U.S. counterterrorism strategies, including torture, Hammarberg said. In a 2007 probe, Swiss politician Dick Marty accused 14 European governments of permitting the CIA to run detention centers or carry out rendition flights between 2002 and 2005.

"They permitted, protected and participated in CIA operations which violated fundamental tenets of our systems of justice and human rights protection," Hammarberg said, adding that the governments involved have blocked proper investigations into rendition cases in line with Washington's wishes.

"The message is clear – good relations between the security agencies are deemed more important than preventing torture and other serious human rights violations," he said.

The 47-nation Council of Europe believes more than a dozen European nations colluded in the CIA's rendition program, in which suspects were secretly sent to be held in nations that allow torture.

The Council of Europe and the European Parliament have repeatedly criticized states such as Germany, Italy, Lithuania, Macedonia, Poland, Romania, Sweden and Britain for allowing CIA and other U.S. government agencies to use their airspace and airports while transporting abducted terror suspects.

On Monday, the Council will publish its comment about CIA "black sites" in Poland, Lithuania and Romania where detainees are believed to have been held covertly, an official speaking on condition of anonymity said.

Hammarberg cited the cases of several victims, including German car salesman Khaled El-Masri who underwent two renditions, first to Afghanistan and then to Albania, where he was dumped on a remote hillside in an apparent effort to cover up what officials later conceded was an error.

Hammarberg urged European governments to allow judicial scrutiny of abuses arising from the rendition operations, and to stop shielding those who collaborated with U.S. intelligence agencies in organizing the operations.

"So far Europe has granted effective impunity to those who committed crimes in implementing the rendition policy. An urgent rethink is required to prevent this misjudged and failed counterterrorism approach from having a sad legacy of injustice," he said.


May 29, 2012

Tomgram: Andrew Bacevich, The Golden Age of Special Operations

They have a way of slipping under the radar, whether heading into Pakistan looking for Osama bin Laden, Central Africa looking for Joseph Kony, or Yemen assumedly to direct local military action against al-Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. I’m talking, of course, about U.S. special operations forces. These days, from Somalia to the Philippines, presidential global interventions are increasingly a dime a dozen; and they are normally spearheaded by those special ops troops backed by CIA or Air Force drones. Few Americans even notice.

An ever expanding secret military cocooned inside the U.S. military, special operations types remain remarkably, determinedly anonymous. With the exception of their commander, Admiral William McRaven, they generally won’t even reveal their last names in public, which only contributes to their growing mystique in this country.

But for a crew so dedicated to anonymity, they also turn out to be publicity hounds of the first order. In 2011, for instance, active-duty U.S. Navy Seals (first-name only please!) became movie stars, spearheading a number one box office hit, Act of Valor. It was the film equivalent of a vanity-press production, focused as it did on their own skills in battle in... hmmm, the Philippines (to prevent a terror strike against the U.S.). A team of SEALs even parachuted onto Sunset Boulevard for the film’s Hollywood premiere.

Then last week another special ops team, in coordination with their Norwegian and Australian counterparts, heroically rescued the mayor of Tampa Bay, held "hostage." They also rappelled down from helicopters and arrived in Humvees to secure the area around the Tampa Convention Center, which will service 15,000 members of the media when the Republicans hit town to nominate Mitt Romney for president. Whew! Another close publicity call!

It was a mock assault on terror watched by thousands of Tampa residents, all timed to the annual Special Operations Forces Industry Conference, also in town and swarmed by 8,000 attendees, including McRaven. Its goal: to bring together special operators from around the world and the industry that arms and accessorizes them. (U.S. special ops forces have a $2 billion purchasing budget each year for all the gadgets the defense industry can produce.)

Oh, and if you want a measure of how hot the special ops guys are these days, how much everyone wants to horn in on their act, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke before the conference, offering, according to Danger Room’s David Axe, “a vision in which shadowy U.S. and allied Special Operations Forces, working hand in hand with America’s embassies and foreign governments, together play a key role preventing low-intensity conflicts.” And if those conflicts aren’t prevented, then the Foreign Service, Clinton assured her listeners, will be happy to lend its “language and cultural skills” to the fighting prowess of the special ops troops. Diplomacy? It’s so old school in such a sexy, new, “covert” war-fightin’ world.

The basic principle is simple enough: if you see a juggernaut heading your way, duck. As TomDispatch regular Andrew Bacevich, editor most recently of The Short American Century, makes clear, war American-style is heading back "into the shadows" and it's going to be one roller-coaster of a scary ride. (To catch Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which Bacevich discusses what we don’t know about special operations forces, click here http://tomdispatch.blogspot.com/2012/05/andrew-bacevich-retired-army-colonel.html?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=aef49a00d2-TD_Bacevich5_29_2012&utm_medium=email or download it to your iPod here.) Tom

Unleashed: Globalizing the Global War on Terror

By Andrew J. Bacevich

As he campaigns for reelection, President Obama periodically reminds audiences of his success in terminating the deeply unpopular Iraq War. With fingers crossed for luck, he vows to do the same with the equally unpopular war in Afghanistan. If not exactly a peacemaker, our Nobel Peace Prize-winning president can (with some justification) at least claim credit for being a war-ender.

Yet when it comes to military policy, the Obama administration’s success in shutting down wars conducted in plain sight tells only half the story, and the lesser half at that. More significant has been this president’s enthusiasm for instigating or expanding secret wars, those conducted out of sight and by commandos.

Click here to read more of this dispatch http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175547/tomgram%3A_andrew_bacevich%2C_the_golden_age_of_special_operations/?utm_source=TomDispatch&utm_campaign=aef49a00d2-TD_Bacevich5_29_2012&utm_medium=email#more

Richard Wackrow. Who’s Winning the War on Terror. Empiricist P, 2012.

Exposes exaggerated warnings, lies, and flawed assumptions in how the US Government has responsded “in the interest of national security.”

America is frightened.

Forget what you read in the newspapers and magazines, see on television, or hear on the radio. Despite what the pundits, politicians, bureaucrats and security experts say, an international network of terrorists is not poised to attack America again. It doesn’t have to anymore. America’s worst enemy has become its obsession with terrorism and the mythology that surrounds it. Here’s the straight dope on:

The phantom enemy “Al Qaeda”

The real motives behind 9/11

Nukes and “dirty bombs”

Plastic and liquid explosives

Airport security

“Terrorism” convictions

Terrorist Plots, Hatched by the FBI

David K. Shipler, The New York Times, April 29, 2012

Excerpt: "The United States has been narrowly saved from lethal terrorist plots in recent years - or so it has seemed."

READ MORE http://readersupportednews.org/opinion2/277-75/11191-focus-terrorist-plots-hatched-by-the-fbi


Ken Silverstein. “The Government’s Man: How to Read the Resume of a terrorism expert.” Harper’s Magazine (June 2012). Silverstein examines the credentials of Matthew Levitt as an expert.

Colombia: Class Warfare, Imperialism, and “War on Terror”

--Villar, Oliver and Drew Cottle. Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U. S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia. Monthly Rev. P, 2012. Class warfare in a regional context of 21st century capitalism.

Cocaine, Death Squads, and the War on Terror: U.S. Imperialism and Class Struggle in Colombia by Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle with a foreword by Peter Dale Scott

Kindle, Sony Reader, Nook

Since the late 1990s, the United States has funneled billions of dollars in aid to Colombia, ostensibly to combat the illicit drug trade and State Department-designated terrorist groups. The result has been a spiral of violence that continues to take lives and destabilize Colombian society. This book asks an obvious question: are the official reasons given for the wars on drugs and terror in Colombia plausible, or are there other, deeper factors at work?

Scholars Villar and Cottle suggest that the answers lie in a close examination of the cocaine trade, particularly its class dimensions. Their analysis reveals that this trade has fueled extensive economic growth and led to the development of a “narco-state” under the control of a “narco-bourgeoisie” which is not interested in eradicating cocaine but in gaining a monopoly over its production. The principal target of this effort is the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia (FARC), who challenge that monopoly as well as the very existence of the Colombian state. Meanwhile, U.S. business interests likewise gain from the cocaine trade and seek to maintain a dominant, imperialist relationship with their most important client state in Latin America. Suffering the brutal consequences, as always, are the peasants and workers of Colombia. This revelatory book punctures the official propaganda and shows the class war underpinning the politics of the Colombian cocaine trade.

Exceedingly well researched and written, this book lays bare the putrid essence of an important component of U.S. imperialism in its current form. Villar and Cottle are to be commended for their vital contribution to our understanding of the structures and dynamics we now confront.

—Ward Churchill, author, Acts of Rebellion

This timely and important book unravels the ‘official discourse’ of the war on drugs and the related war on terror. It tells where the vast majority of profits from the multi-billion dollar Colombian cocaine trade go – certainly not to the impoverished people growing coca leaves – how the profits get there, and how this ill-gained wealth furthers the imperial interests of the U.S. and its collaborators in the ‘narco-bourgeoisie’ in South America. A definitive account.

—Douglas Valentine, author, The Strength of the Pack: The Politics, Personalities and Espionage Intrigues That Shaped the DEA

Villar and Cottle’s profound and courageous book shows forcibly that the ‘war on drugs’ in Colombia, as elsewhere, entrenches narco-states in the interests of the empire from which it emanates, even as its war on terrorism perpetrates and institutionalizes terror. Their forthright findings rest firmly on overwhelming evidence, carefully compiled.

—Scott Poynting, professor of sociology, Manchester Metropolitan University

Colombia has long been at the center of diverse studies into and debates on the workings of U.S. imperialism in Latin America, as well as the political dynamics of class warfare and narco-state formation, but rarely with such solid research and sharp theoretically informed analysis. This book is a tour de force of rigorous Marxist class analysis, reconstituted after its abandonment by many who succumbed to the virus of postmodernism. It is also very well written, a surprisingly readable account of the contours of class struggle in one regional context of what we might describe as the capitalism of the twenty-first century. A must read for all progressive and critical thinkers.

—Henry Veltmeyer, professor of sociology and international development studies, Saint Mary’s University

Just like those who become addicted to cocaine, the American public is in denial about its government’s long history of using narcotics—their production, use, and prohibition—as an integral part of its imperial political arsenal. But drugs have been a part of the Great Games from the 18th century, when the British East India Company’s factories produced opium to enslave the Chinese. Villar and Cottle’s work, focusing on Colombia, is an important contribution to exposing this particularly monstrous imperial byway and its very ‘deep political’ repercussions.

—Eric Walberg, author, Postmodern Imperialism: Geopolitics and the Great Games

To go against the flow is a great feat. In this work Oliver Villar and Drew Cottle have done that. In short supply indeed are those who show, as they do, that the real ‘histories’ of violence, drug trafficking and guerrilla war in Colombia are not those repeated by the great majority of media and ‘experts.’ The authors have not tried to be neutral: they have taken pains to be objective and honest.

—Hernando Calvo Ospina, author, El equipo de Choque de la CIA (The CIA Shock Team); Colombia, democracia y terrorismo de Estado (Colombia, Democracy and State Terrorism)

OLIVER VILLAR is a lecturer in Politics at Charles Sturt University. For the past decade his research has been devoted to this book. Much of the research is based on his PhD dissertation on the political economy of contemporary Colombia in the context of the cocaine drug trade. He has published broadly on the Inter-American cocaine drug trade, the U.S. War on Drugs and Terror in Colombia, and U.S.-Colombian relations. DREW COTTLE is a senior lecturer in Politics at the University of Western Sydney. He has written extensively on international political economy and revolutionary struggles in the Third World. His book, The Brisbane Line: A Re-Appraisal was a study of inter-imperialist rivalry and potential collaboration in Australia prior to the Pacific War.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Victims of Wars Day Newsletter #4 (Memorial Day).

OMNI ALL VICTIMS OF WARS DAY (MEMORIAL DAY)NEWSLETTER #4. MAY 28, 2012. Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of PEACE. (#1 May 20, 2009; #2 May 31, 2010, #3 May 30, 2011). Alternative titles: MOURNING FOR VICTIMS OF WARS. (Veterans Day is Nov. 11, to be called ARMISTICE FOR ALL WARS DAY.)

Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters: http://www.omnicenter.org/newsletter-archive/ For a knowledge-based peace, justice, and ecology movement and an informed citizenry as the foundation for change. SEEKING ALTERNATIVES TO MILITARISM, WARS, EMPIRE, FOR A CULTURE OF PEACE.

Two kinds of violence disrupt the harmony of our world: physical and stuctural. This newsletter is part of OMNI’s NATIONAL/INTERNATIONAL DAYS PROJECT, by which we counter the structural conditioning for violence and wars in such celebrations as Columbus Day and Armed Forces Day. These national days of violence reinforce the national drive for wars, for invasions and interventions—some fifty since WWII, amounting to permanent war-- examined by William Blum in Killing Hope and Rogue Nation and by Richard Rubenstein in his book Reasons to Kill: Why Americans Choose War (2010). Rubenstein analyzes seven “key rationales for war” employed by successive governments to gain public support for military action.

(The other half of the Project is the affirmation of nonviolent DAYS, such as United Nations DAY, Human Rights DAY, by which we strive for the goals of equity and health and protection of all species and a world free of war and the threat of war.)

Contents 2012

Memorial Day Perversions

Engelhardt, Remembering Memorial Day

Film, Sir, No Sir

Amy Goodman, Stop the Wars

AFSC, No to NATO and War

How Should We Spend Our Money?

IVAW: Fort Hood Standdown

Dudziak, War-Time, Permanent War

From 2011: Veterans for Peace

Memorial Day: Pick Your Perversion


May 25, 2012

Memorial Day, originally known as “Decoration Day,” was created in the aftermath of the Civil War as a day to honor the memory and sacrifice of Union soldiers who had died in battle. It later broadened to include the theme of reconciliation, honoring Confederate soldiers as well; and through the years has become a day to remember all U.S. military personnel who have died in combat. Increasingly, it evolved from simply decorating the graves and solemn memorialization of those killed, to opportunities for flag-waving, nationalistic displays with parades, marching bands and political speeches. Today, it has become a perversion of its original intent in two ways.

Perversion #1—Commercialism/Consumerism/Entertainment

Nearly all American holidays have been transformed from their original intents and into opportunities for economic profits, and Memorial Day is arguably the best example. Memorial Day has turned into Memorial Day weekend—a time for shopping, watching the Indianapolis 500, and kicking-off the summer.

Adding superficial, “patriotic” gimmickry to advertising must work because it is ubiquitous. In this ad,the images on the left are saluting with the wrong hand—but accuracy doesn’t matter as long as it’s red, white and blue; advertisers know what works with American consumers.

In another example of patriotic pandering, Heinz has outdone itself in their appreciation for veterans…nothing says “thank you” quite the way condiments do. The truly patriotic American will be using nothing but Heinz ketchup at their Memorial Day BBQ!

Perversion #2—American Exceptionalism

This perversion of Memorial Day is typified by the glorification of war and everyone who participated in it. God is always on our side (which means we are always right). Politicians try to outdo each other in their effusive thanks for the military, and refer to everyone who has ever worn a military uniform as a hero. God, guns and glory are wrapped up in the flag, and the whole package is given the credit for all that is good: liberty, freedom, justice, and the American Way of Life. Perversion #2 is of much more concern because of the ideology that it represents.

It is very dangerous when the people of a nation believes it can do no wrong; that it can operate outside of international law; and that God is on its side. Because when a nation is so confident in its righteousness, it loses any capacity for objectivity. On Memorial Day we remember the American war dead, but never question the necessity for the battle. We cannot bear to think that American lives lost in war might have been in vain, and so we continue to insist that we are on the side of right. We never second guess our country, because if we come to the realization that the war is wrong, for whatever reason, then we have to accept responsibility for all of those killed in our wars—not just our own. In the cases of Iraq and Afghanistan, that seems way outside the capacity of the American public, who are only now starting to question whether the sacrifice of more U.S. troops is “worth it.” We have not even thought to question whether the sacrifice of Iraqis and Afghans is worth it—more than 90% of whom were non-combatants. The media is starting to describe us as “war weary” but we haven’t the slightest clue.

On this Memorial Day, Veterans For Peace asks you to mourn not only for Americans killed in battle, but also for those killed by Americans in battle. We ask you to be willing to accept the fact that these war deaths did not have to happen—that they are actually in vain. Hundreds of thousands of innocent people have died in American wars of aggression. That is a tragedy and is a truth that must be accepted and for which we must take responsibility.

Leah Bolger

Bio: Leah Bolger spent 20 years on active duty in the U.S. Navy and retired in 2000 at the rank of Commander. She is currently a full-time peace activist and serves as the National President of Veterans For Peace. leah@veteransforpeace.org

May 24, 2012

Tomgram: Engelhardt, The Road to Amnesia

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: The next TD post will be on Tuesday morning May 29th. To catch Timothy MacBain's latest Tomcast audio interview in which I discuss what Americans should consider remembering on Memorial Day, click here or download it to your iPod here. Tom]

How to Forget on Memorial Day: Whistling Past the Graveyard of Empires By Tom Engelhardt

It’s the saddest reading around: the little announcements that dribble out of the Pentagon every day or two -- those terse, relatively uninformative death notices: rank; name; age; small town, suburb, or second-level city of origin; means of death (“small arms fire,” “improvised explosive device,” “the result of gunshot wounds inflicted by an individual wearing an Afghan National Army uniform,” or sometimes something vaguer like “while conducting combat operations,” “supporting Operation Enduring Freedom,” or simply no explanation at all); and the unit the dead soldier belonged to. They are seldom 100 words, even with the usual opening line: “The Department of Defense announced today the death of a soldier who was supporting Operation Enduring Freedom.” Sometimes they include more than one death.

They are essentially bureaucratic notices designed to draw little attention to themselves. Yet cumulatively, in their hundreds over the last decade, they represent a grim archive of America’s still ongoing, already largely forgotten second Afghan War, and I’ve read them obsessively for years.

Into the Memory Hole

May is the official month of remembrance when it comes to our war dead, ending as it does on the long Memorial Day weekend when Americans typically take to the road and kill themselves and each other in far greater numbers than will die in Afghanistan. It’s a weekend for which the police tend to predict rising fatalities and news reports tend to celebrate any declines in deaths on our roads and highways.

Quiz Americans and a surprising number undoubtedly won’t have thought about the “memorial” in Memorial Day at all -- especially now that it’s largely a marker of the start of summer and an excuse for cookouts.

How many today are aware that, as Decoration Day, it began in 1865 in a nation still torn by grief over the loss of -- we now know -- up to 750,000 dead in the first modern war, a wrenching civil catastrophe in a then-smaller and still under-populated country? How many know that the first Decoration Day was held in 1865 with 10,000 freed slaves and some Union soldiers parading on a Charleston, South Carolina, race track previously frequented by planters and transformed in wartime into a grim outdoor prison? The former slaves were honoring Union prisoners who had died there and been hastily buried in unmarked graves, but as historian Kenneth Jackson has written, they were also offering “a declaration of the meaning of the war and of their own freedom.”

Click here to read more of this dispatch

Now Available on YouTube

Sir! No Sir! Do something significant for Memorial Day and watch this important film on GI resistance during the Vietnam war starring a number of vfp members. https://www.youtube.com/user/DisplacedFilms/featured

IVAW, We Take Our Stand film, Iraqi Winter Soldier https://www.youtube.com/user/DisplacedFilms/featured

Amy Goodman, “Memorial Day: Honor the Dead, Heal the Wounded, Stop the Wars,” Amy Goodman, Op-Ed, NationofChange, May 24, 2012: Gen. John Allen, commander, U.S. Forces Afghanistan, spoke Wednesday at the Pentagon, four stars on each shoulder, his chest bedecked with medals. Allen said the NATO summit in Chicago, which left him feeling “heartened,” “was a powerful signal of international support for the Afghan-led process of reconciliation.” Unlike Allen, many decorated U.S. military veterans left the streets of Chicago after the NATO summit without their medals. They marched on the militarized convention center where the generals and heads of state had gathered and threw their medals at the high fence surrounding the summit. READ
SHARE http://www.nationofchange.org/memorial-day-honor-dead-heal-wounded-stop-wars-1337875243

Dear james,

This Memorial Day weekend, please take a minute to watch "No NATO, No War".

It’s the most moving and important part of the week of actions related to the NATO summit in Chicago last week, an event that drew generals, diplomats and activists to struggle over the future of the military alliance, Afghanistan and the dominant narrative that makes war the core of every policy.

AFSC and our partners worked hard to make sure coverage of this historic event included the need to retire NATO, to stop spending money on war, and to fund our communities. After a strenuous media campaign millions heard or read our message in media outlets on television, radio, online, and in print.

With our partners at Peace Action and the Network for a NATO Free Future, our Counter-Summit brought together more than 300 peace activists from across the country and around the world, including Germany, Greece, Britain, France, Sweden, Ireland, and Mexico.

The conference helped build the movement for complete withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan and to move the money from Pentagon spending to meeting human needs.

It also began to deepen people's understandings of NATO as an aggressive global military alliance focused on securing resources. We cast light on NATO war preparations and their impacts on our communities.

The week ended with an historic march led by Iraq Vets Against the War and Afghans for Peace. Nearly 50 veterans threw away their medals in a moving ceremony that was largely ignored by the mainstream media.

This Memorial Day weekend show your respect for the veterans who had the courage to say yes to life and no to war. Take the time to watch the ceremony and send this link to your friends. http://www.democracynow.org/2012/5/21/no_nato_no_war_us_veterans

Wage Peace,

Peter Lems and Mary Zerkel

American Friends Service Committee

PS: Get resources to help educate your community on NATO and the Move the Money campaign. Read more. http://afsc.org/resource/nato-counter-summit-2012

War at What Cost? A Veteran Perspective

May 23, 2012 (via VFP)

This coming fiscal year, the United States is set to spend more than $640 billion dollars on the Pentagon and war, accounting for more than 60 percent of federal domestic spending. In excess of $85 billion of that will be spent on the war in Afghanistan alone.

This unfathomable amount of money was approved by the House of Representatives in the National Defense Authorization Act. These funds will serve to bring suffering and pain to innocent people, further militarize the world and undermine peace and stability for generations to come—all on the backs of those who struggle at home.

In the backdrop of such spending, we’re told that we’re in a financial crisis. Elected officials tell us it is time to make tough choices. There isn’t enough money for programs like “Meals on Wheels” and for ensuring everyone has access to adequate healthcare. Our schools and bridges must wait to be repaired. New roads and schools must remain unconstructed.

Yet some of us know better.

Last weekend in Chicago, dignitaries from around the world met for the NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization) Summit on Afghanistan. U.S. veterans of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan also gathered to march in protest and return our military medals to NATO. The demands were simple: No NATO, No War. Thousands joined the veterans to march to the NATO meeting location. One by one, nearly 50 of us returned our medals. Removing one medal from his chest at a time, Aaron Hughes of Iraq Veterans Against the War summed it up well when he pulled the final medal from his old military uniform: “And this one is because I’m sorry.”

As veterans, we know the cost of war firsthand. Many of us—myself included—have lost friends to death in combat, by suicide and to addiction. Rates of divorce, addiction, suicide and homelessness are at record highs among U.S. veterans. We know firsthand the stories of the widowed and divorced, the broken and the damned. We have watched friends fall apart and sometimes we’ve fallen apart ourselves. We have seen the pain on the faces of the victims of bombs made under the auspices of American jobs. We have watched as the light of humanity seemed to flicker out in the face of dehumanizing war. And many of us have left pieces of ourselves—physical, mental and emotional—in the places we’ve served.

What exactly is the benefit of spending so much on preparing for and making war? Does it really enhance our liberty and freedom? Do we really feel safer? I can’t take more than ten steps without being on some kind of camera these days. I’m constantly reminded to be vigilant as I take public transportation here in Washington, DC. Is it silly that our government is spending nearly two-thirds of the discretionary budget on “defense” and they’re relying on me to phone a hotline if I see something suspicious?

Mine aren’t the only eyebrows rising. In the years that I’ve been a pro-peace advocate since my honorable discharge from the U.S. Army in 2004, people seem to be getting the message like never before. As we marched in formation, the Chicago police lined the perimeter of the parade route. I wondered as I marched how many of them have felt recent budget cuts or watched colleagues get laid off. At one point, while chanting “Troops need healthcare, not more warfare” an officer alongside us chanted “Police need healthcare, not more warfare.” Others joined in and we picked it up. It was one of those rare moments in which we actually knew the message was reaching someone.

My hope is that more people start to receive this message. There are choices to be made. Right now, the people making these choices are not doing so in a representative way. Congress cannot continue to fund wars and weapons on the backs of the poor, elderly and shrinking middle class. Building a just and equitable society means human needs must take first priority. There is enough money; how we choose to spend it is the question.

Matt Southworth is Legislative Associate on Foreign Policy for the Friends Committee on National Legislation.



Dear James ,

Tell General Campbell to put soldier care first.

This Memorial Day weekend marks one year since our Operation Recovery Campaign has been at Fort Hood, Texas. In that time, we've talked with hundreds of soldiers about their problems accessing mental health care. We've learned that there are a number of factors that inhibit care, and we are focusing on two big issues that are common concerns among soldiers:

1) Commanders routinely override or ignore the medical treatment plans (also known as medical "profiles") that soldiers get from their doctors.

2) Commanders regularly stigmatize soldiers who seek care through public humiliation or creating an environment of intimidation that discourages soldiers from speaking up for their own well being.

Help us tell Fort Hood Commander, General Campbell, to put soldiers' health and safety first.

These are systemic problems, even though General Campbell has policies in place that specifically prohibit such behavior by commanders. But many soldiers don't know that these policies exist, and they clearly are not being enforced. Lower commanders are not held accountable for respecting soldiers' rights to heal.

We are calling on General Campbell to hold a Safety Stand Down across Fort Hood. A Safety Stand Down is a day where all work activity ceases in order to focus on training and education about the safety and well being of service members.

Help us make this a priority for the General.

Send an email or call and tell him to put soldier care first by having a Safety Stand Down at Fort Hood.

With the epidemic of depression, suicide, and substance use, it's time to address these concerns across the Fort Hood community. Holding a Safety Stand Down would provide an opportunity to educate service members and commanders alike about the policies in place to support soldiers' rights to heal, and would signal that General Campbell takes these issues seriously.

Today, the Operation Recovery Campaign will stand at Fort Hood's east gate to let soldiers know about their rights to access mental health care. Will you help cover the costs of the materials needed for their action? Just $400 will cover their costs. Can you chip in $3 or more? Make sure to write "Safety" in the Special Project box.

Many thanks to Under the Hood, the pro-soldier, anti-war cafe and outreach center, for making today's action possible.

And thank you for your ongoing support. Our progress at Fort Hood would not be possible without it!

In Solidarity, The Operation Recovery Team


War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences by

Mary L. Dudziak




Product Details

Author Information

Table of Contents


When is wartime? On the surface, it is a period of time in which a society is at war. But we now live in what President Obama has called "an age without surrender ceremonies," as the Administration announced an "end to conflict in Iraq," even though conflict on the ground is ongoing. It is no longer easy to distinguish between wartime and peacetime. In this inventive meditation on war, time, and the law, Mary Dudziak argues that wartime is not as discrete a time period as we like to think. Instead, America has been engaged in some form of ongoing overseas armed conflict for over a century. Meanwhile policy makers and the American public continue to view wars as exceptional events that eventually give way to normal peace times. This has two consequences. First, because war is thought to be exceptional, "wartime" remains a shorthand argument justifying extreme actions like torture and detention without trial. Second, ongoing warfare is enabled by the inattention of the American people. More disconnected than ever from the wars their nation is fighting, public disengagement leaves us without political restraints on the exercise of American war powers.

Visit http://wartimebook.blogspot.com/ to learn more .


"War Time turns our notions of both 'war' and 'time' upside down. This thought-provoking book forces us to realize that war is not an exception to 'normal' peacetime, but rather that wartime has become the norm. The implications of perpetual wartime are profound, for law, politics, and daily life. Mary Dudziak has again brought her keen cultural, historical and legal insights to bear on a subject of critical importance."--Elaine Tyler May, Regents Professor, University of Minnesota

"Taking law as her focal point but ranging much more widely, Mary Dudziak's provocative meditation on what we mean in speaking of a 'time' of war invites readers to reflect on how we think about war itself. It should change our understanding of what-and when-war 'is' for Americans."--Mark Tushnet, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Harvard Law School

"War Time is one of those rare books that can entirely reorient how one thinks about the world. By showing the reader what Americans have meant-and have come to mean-by 'wartime,' Mary Dudziak shows us assumptions about war and peace that govern political and legal thought without anyone noticing. This is an intellectual tour de force, and beautifully written to boot."--H. Jefferson Powell , George Washington Law School

"A slim and engaging volume, wonderfully written and carefully wrought, War Time is a fascinating meditation on the perils of clinging to a myth of national identity that increasingly bears only a glancing resemblance to modern life." --H-Diplo

"Mary Dudziak's new book, War Time: An Idea, Its History, Its Consequences, is a crucial document. Her smooth foray into legal and political history reveals that in not just the past decade but the past century, wartime has become a more or less permanent feature of the American experience, though we fail to recognize it . . . Dudziak assembles an intellectual Rubik's Cube, playing with ideas of time, law, killing and politics, and arranging them into a pattern that all but eliminates the distinctions we long assumed to have existed between war and peace." --The Nation

"For over a decade since 9/11, U.S. forces have been waging war. Yet is the nation itself 'at war'? In this timely and provocative book, Mary Dudziak shows why this question has become so difficult to answer-and warns of the dangers inherent in our failure to do so." --Andrew J . Bacevich , author of Washington Rules: America's Path to Permanent War

Mary L. Dudziak is Judge Edward J. and Ruey L. Guirado Professor of Law, History and Political Science at the University of Southern California Law School. Her books include Exporting American Dreams: Thurgood Marshall's African Journey and Cold War Civil Rights.


An Alternative View of Memorial Day

Posted by: "Dave" mplsstreetrwy@earthlink.net

Thu Jun 2, 2011 12:20 pm (PDT)

* Deep down, we all know that this powerful video is what Memorial Day should be about.

* And for professed Christians who pray for the troops, pay attention to the part starting at 3:52.

lightcaesar http://www.youtube.com/user/lightcaesar

YouTube http://www.youtube.com

"Our soldiers don't sacrifice for duty, honor or country; they sacrifice for Kellogg Brown & Root. They don't fight for America, they fight for their lives and their buddies beside them because we put them in a war zone. They are not 'defending our freedoms', they are laying the foundation for 14 permanent military bases to defend the freedoms

of Exxon Mobil and British Petroleum. They're not establishing democracy, they are establishing the bases for an economic occupation..."

"They don't hate us 'because of our freedoms' - they hate us because every day we are funding and committing crimes against humanity. The so called 'War on Terror' is a cover for our military aggression to gain control of the resources of Western Asia. This is sending the poor

of this country to kill the poor of those Muslim countries. This is trading blood for OIL. This is genocide. And to most of the world – WE are the terrorists."

Since WWII, 90% of the 'casualties of war' are unarmed civilians, a third of them children.

Our victims have done nothing to us.

From Palestine to Afghanistan, to Iraq to Somalia, to wherever our next target may be - their murders are not collateral damage - they are the nature of 'modern warfare'.

More (video)...


Monday, May 21, 2012

US Permanent War and US Public

'Drift': Rachel Maddow On Why We Go To War

by NPR Staff   May 7, 2012

Listen to the Story

Drift: The Unmooring Of American Military Power
by Rachel Maddow

NPR reviews, interviews and more

Read an excerpt

May 7, 2012 In past wars, the U.S. practically dismantled its military after the troops came home. But today, says MSNBC News anchor and writer Rachel Maddow, we find ourselves in a state of almost permanent war.

In her new book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power, Maddow invokes Thomas Jefferson, pointing out that one of Jefferson's main concerns was the danger of having a large military.

"That was a really animating thing going on for the Founding Fathers. I mean, they were very upset about what was going on with the British Empire and the British king, and there's a reason that the 'quartering soldiers' thing, which seems so random, is foundational in our founding documents," she says.

Her book argues that the U.S. military has grown bloated partially because the nation is insulated from the wars its soldiers fight.

We gave ourselves a tax cut before Sept. 11, 2001, and then went to war in Afghanistan without debating whether to give it back, Maddow notes. Two years later, we gave ourselves another round of tax cuts after going to war in Iraq.

"Those are not the actions of a country that feels that it is sacrificing alongside its men and women in uniform. And that divide, I think, Americans feel emotionally, and I'd like that emotional divide to become defined as a political problem that we should solve," Maddow says.

She joins Morning Edition host Steve Inskeep to talk about the ideas in Drift.


Interview Highlights

On military vs. nonmilitary spending
"Military preparedness is absolutely a form of strength. And how we maintain that is again something that needs to be considered, I think, in the broader forum of all different kinds of American strength. We're doing some things with our military superstructure that I think are leftovers, in part because military resources don't have to compete with nonmilitary resources. Pentagon dollars are essentially seen as a different kind of funding that doesn't have to stand for itself and make an argument for itself in the house of Congress."

On the reasons for the wars of the last decade
"I think that we have looked around the world, found foreign policy problems, and looked for military solutions to those problems, because that's the best tool we had to address those things. I think that when you look at the expansion of the mission in Afghanistan and in Iraq, when you look at what the justification was — I mean, in Iraq, awkwardly, the justification was weapons of mass destruction that were not there. Once we had gone, though, ultimately by the time we left, what we were trying to do was establish Iraq as a democratic ally of the United States in the Middle East. As proud and capable as it is, I think the idea that the military can build new countries is a tall order, and it's the sort of thing that we would only expect from a military that we have superresourced and thought of as supercapable."

On using Thomas Jefferson in her argument
"I sort of did that on purpose. ... You do try to pick people in order to, I think, attract attention across the aisle, to constantly sort of make the point, 'Listen, this isn't a partisan thing. Even if you hate me because I'm a liberal, you may still find some worth in this argument.' "

On the ironies of Jefferson's and Obama's presidencies
"[Thomas Jefferson] is a perfect example of the way that presidents adapt to the idea of executive power. I mean, if you look at our current president — as a constitutional law professor, and as somebody who was, I think, reacting to the 'imperial presidency'-style excesses of the George W. Bush administration, I mean, President Obama opined beautifully on the radical expansion of executive power and how he did not think that was right for the country and it was ahistorical and all these other things, but I defy you to find any part of executive power that President Obama has yielded since he has been there."

On the limits placed on presidential power
"I think that presidents don't give up power that has accrued to them by the precedent of previous presidents. Even when they say they would like to, I think once they get there they don't give it up. And I think that's why the Founding Fathers didn't put the specific power of waging war in the hands of the president — because they knew that the temptation would be too great, that human nature what it is, with good presidents and bad, you would end up with more wars than you needed as a country if one man could essentially make the decision about whether we waged the wars. And so knowing that Congress was going to be much more unwieldy in making that decision, they with steady care put that decision in the hands of Congress."

On the growing discomfort with a continual state of war
"All the efforts to insulate the American public from the cost of war — so that we don't notice, so that a state of war is normal — all of those insulating efforts fail a little bit, because I think there is a core American emotional value to the idea that our military shouldn't be secret, that our military shouldn't be separate from us, that people who fight in our name shouldn't be people other than us. And the idea of waging war constantly makes us uncomfortable enough, but I think that it's becoming politically impossible to keep up this pace. ... I think the American people are uncomfortable with where we have landed, and I think that politicians who pay attention to that will not only reap electoral rewards, but I think they will find that if they start pushing on this issue, they're going to get far. It's going to be pushing on an open door. People want this to change."

Read an excerpt of Drift

Related NPR Stories

Rachel Maddow: The Fresh Air Interview March 27, 2012

Pentagon Propaganda

Cole writes: "Two congressmen are attempting to insert a provision in the National Defense Authorization Act that would allow the Department of Defense to subject the US domestic public to propaganda."

A bipartisan amendment introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry and Rep. Adam Smith would allow the Department of Defense to utilize propaganda. (image: Telegraph UK)

The Creeping Fascism of American PoliticsBy Juan Cole, Informed Comment

20 May 12

wo congressmen are attempting to insert a provision in the National Defense Authorization act that would allow the Department of Defense to subject the US domestic public to propaganda. The bipartisan amendment was introduced by Rep. Mac Thornberry from Texas and Rep. Adam Smith from Washington State.

Nothing speaks more urgently to the creeping fascism of American politics than the assertion by our representatives, who apparently have never read a book on Germany in the 1930s-1940s or on the Soviet Union in the Stalin period, that forbidding DoD and the State Department from subjecting us to government propaganda "ties the hands of America's diplomatic officials, military, and others by inhibiting our ability to effectively communicate in a credible way." And mind you, they want to use our own money to wash our brains!

As Will Rogers observed, "This country has come to feel the same when Congress is in session as when the baby gets hold of a hammer."

I love our guys and gals in uniform, but they can be extremely obnoxious in any discussion about US government policy that 'gets off point' or 'doesn't serve the mission.' At Washington think tank events, I've seen them repeatedly close down discussions among e.g. State Department foreign service officers. You don't want most of the DoD types providing information to us, because it won't be in any way balanced.

Of course, having a Pentagon propaganda unit at all is highly anti-democratic. The best defense of the truth is a free press. It should also be remembered that nowadays everything in Washington is outsourced, so government propaganda is often being turned over to Booz Allen or the American Enterprise Institute, which have a rightwing bias.

Doing propaganda abroad has the difficulty that it doesn't stay abroad. False articles placed in the Arabic press in Iraq were translated into English by wire services, who got stung.

Then, another problem is that the Defense Intelligence Agency analysts *also* read the false articles placed in the Arabic press by *another* Pentagon office, which they did not know about. So the analysts were passing up to the White House false information provided by their own colleagues!

I was told by an insider that one reason Washington analysts often read my blog in the Bush years was that I had a reputation for having an accurate bull crap meter, and thus my judgments on what was likely to be true helped them fight the tendency to believe our own propaganda!

Not only should this amendment be gotten rid of quick, but their constituents should please vote out of office Reps. Thornberry and Smith next November.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

OMNI Pentagon Newsletter #4


May 17, 2012, Compiled by Dick Bennett for a Culture of Peace.

(#1 June 21, 2011; #2 October 29, 2011; #3 March 15, 2012).

See Dick’s Blog, “IT’S THE WAR DEPARMENT” http://jamesrichardbennett.blogspot.com/

Here is the link to all OMNI newsletters:


and the many newsletters related to U.S. militarism, empire, violence, torture, waste, war crimes, repression, secrecy, US economy, needs of the world in http://www.omnicenter.org/newsletter-archive/

Contents of #1 6-21-11

Pentagon War Budget, Cold War to Today

Pentagon Budget Today

Congress Will Trim the Budget?

Arming Mid-Eastern Despots

Nuclear Weapons

Pentagon Marketing Itself and Propaganda to Children

Counter-Recruiting Resistance

Book Censorship

Books: James Carroll, Arthur Ekirch, Sebastian Junger

Contents of #2 10-29-11

Lockheed Supports War Budget

Criminal Contractors

[War] Secretary Panetta and War Profiteers.

Military Fuel

Military Budget, Empire, China

Reducing Budget and the Fine Print

Empire/War Budget Increased 7-11

No-Bid Contracts

Clandestine War: Special Forces, Drones, Assassinations

War Industry, GOP, Debt

Military Sex Crimes

War Crimes and WikiLeaks

NBC Reports Pentagon

Cyber Security New War

Research on Militarism

Contents of #3

Think Tanks: Heritage Foundation

Weapons Costs

Colonial Roots

Experiments with Soldiers: Yes Support These Troops

Support These Troops Not

Non-Lethal Weapons?

NDAA vs. Due Process

More Generals and Admirals

Covert Ops: Books by Trevor Paglen

Myth of Military Job Creation


Economic Conversion: Seymour Melman (Celebrate!)

Contents of #4

Cutting the Military Budget (3)

Lethal Consequences of Patriotic “Defense”

Homeland Security Campus

Pentagon Reporters Targeted

Don't Buy the Spin: How Cutting the Pentagon's Budget Could Boost the Economy

Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier

May 9, 2012
This article appeared in the May 28, 2012 edition of The Nation.

Should the enormous US military budget—which is more than double the combined levels of military spending by China, the United Kingdom, France, Russia and Germany—be cut? This question is finally on the table, thanks to the winding down of combat activities in Iraq and Afghanistan and to Washington’s obsession with tamping down the federal deficits that have arisen from the Great Recession. Many who would like to protect the military from the budget knife raise economic arguments to make their case: Won’t cutting military spending be bad for jobs, just when we need to maintain focus on reducing unemployment? Won’t it threaten the country’s long-term technological capabilities?

The authors gratefully acknowledge the financial support on this issue from Ben Cohen.

About the Author

Heidi Garrett-Peltier

Heidi Garrett-Peltier is assistant research professor at the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI).

Robert Pollin

Robert Pollin, professor of economics and co-director of the Political Economy Research Institute (PERI), is the author...

Also by the Author

The Wages of Peace (US Wars and Military Action, Economy)

Spending on the war in Iraq is a job killer. Ending the war would be the real stimulus package.

Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier

Also by the Author

The Betrayal of Public Workers (Labor Organizing and Activism, Economic Policy, Ethical Economics)

It’s not only bad politics for states to use budget crises to bust unions—it’s also bad ¬economics.

Robert Pollin and Jeffrey Thompson


It's Not the Party—It's the Policies (Are Republicans and Democrats the Same?, Economic Policy, Gap Between Wealth and Poverty, History)

Inequality has risen under Republicans and Democrats when they’ve embraced neoliberalism.

Robert Pollin


The matter assumed increased urgency in November after the Congressional supercommittee failed to agree on a deficit-reduction plan. This failure set in motion an agenda for automatic cuts—or “sequestration” of funds—from military and nonmilitary budgets beginning in January 2013. According to the sequestration scenario, absent the adoption of a large-scale deficit-cutting plan, military and nonmilitary spending would face $55 billion per year in automatic cuts over a decade, relative to previously established spending levels. If Congress and the White House devise a way to exempt the Pentagon from the automatic cuts—as seems increasingly likely—the cuts will instead be taken from healthcare, education, social spending, infrastructure and the environment.

Of course, framing the deficit issue in terms of military versus social spending cuts ignores other options, such as raising taxes on the wealthy. It also erroneously assumes that reducing the federal deficit is necessary now, before the economy has settled onto a sustainable recovery path out of the recession. Even more fundamental, today’s debate largely skirts the question of what the military budget needs to be after Iraq and Afghanistan, and fails to grapple honestly with the impact that major military spending reductions would have on the economy, especially in terms of job opportunities and technology.

Members of today’s military-industrial complex—the constellation of forces, including Democratic and Republican politicians, weapons manufacturers, lobbyists and the Pentagon leadership, whose influence President Eisenhower warned against in 1961—claim that significant reductions in the military budget would decimate US defenses and inflict major damage to the economy. In fact, these claims are demonstrably false.

The Proposed Spending Cuts Are Modest

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has stated that the planned cuts in the military budget would result, over a decade, in “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915 and the smallest Air Force in its history.” Panetta has said repeatedly that the cuts would amount to nearly $1 trillion. That does indeed sound like a lot, given that the annual level of total military spending is about $700 billion.

But what Panetta and others call $1 trillion in cuts is actually an annual $100 billion reduction added up over ten years to produce the huge-sounding $1 trillion figure. In reality, moving from a roughly $700 billion to $600 billion annual budget is hardly extreme, especially when we consider that this includes cuts tied to ending the US combat role in Iraq and Afghanistan. The 2012 budget for these two wars alone is $115 billion, and the planned budget for 2013 is $88 billion, even after combat is over. The Pentagon has also included for 2014 onward a baseline contingency budget of $44 billion annually for any carryover fighting in Iraq or Afghanistan, or new wars elsewhere. Thus, by the Pentagon’s own estimate, winding down Iraq and Afghanistan will end up saving $44 billion a year after 2013. In the unlikely event that the budgetary sequestration cuts are carried out, an additional $55 billion per year would be cut. That’s how we cut our way from a $700 billion to $600 billion annual military budget.

The graph below provides some perspective on these figures. As we see, last year’s $700 billion military budget represented 4.7 percent of the country’s GDP. This was higher even than in 2008, Bush’s last year in office, when defense was 4.3 percent of GDP. In 2000, Bill Clinton’s final year in office and before the 9/11 terrorist attacks, military spending was 3 percent of GDP. In today’s economy, the difference between a military budget at 3 percent of GDP versus 4.7 percent is $260 billion. Thus, if we were to return just to the 2000 level of defense spending as a share of the economy, that would itself entail “budget cuts” of about $1 trillion over four years (i.e., $260 billion per year for four years).

If all the cuts being discussed today were enacted—including the $55 billion in sequestration cuts, which, again, seems highly unlikely—the military budget would return to about 3 percent of GDP in 2017, according to the Defense Department’s budget forecast as well as the Congressional Budget Office’s projections. This is assuming—perhaps implausibly—that the United States does not engage in new wars between now and 2017. If we do end up fighting more wars, the budgets to pay for them would be exempt from spending caps. The sky would be the limit. In short, aside from winding down the Iraq and Afghanistan wars, the military cuts being considered are modest and easily reversible.

Better Ways to Create Jobs

The primary economic argument made by members of the military-industrial complex against cutting the Pentagon budget is that it would produce major job losses. One widely cited report by Stephen Fuller of George Mason University found that 1 million jobs would be lost through the annual cuts set by the sequestration agreement. The Pentagon claims that military cuts in the range of $1 trillion over the next decade would raise unemployment by one percentage point per year—from, say, 8 to 9 percent. It is hard to assess the accuracy of either of these claims, since neither Professor Fuller nor the Pentagon has provided details about how these estimates were reached.

In any event, it is indisputable that the Pentagon is a major employer in the US economy. How could it be otherwise, given that the Pentagon’s $700 billion budget is equal to nearly 5 percent of the GDP? In fact, Pentagon spending as of 2011 was responsible for creating nearly 6 million jobs, within the military itself and in all civilian industries connected to it. In addition, because of the high demand for technologically advanced equipment by the military, a good share of the jobs created are well paid and professionally challenging.

However, the crucial question is not how many jobs are created by spending, for example, $1 billion on the military. Rather, it is whether spending that $1 billion creates more or fewer jobs when compared with spending $1 billion on alternative public purposes, such as education, healthcare and the green economy—or having consumers spend that same amount of money in any way they choose.

In fact, compared with these alternative uses, spending on the military is a poor source of job creation. As we see in the graph below, $1 billion in spending on the military will generate about 11,200 jobs within the US economy. That same $1 billion would create 16,800 jobs through clean energy investments, 17,200 jobs within the healthcare sector or 26,700 jobs through support of education. That is, investments in clean energy, healthcare and education will produce between 50 and 140 percent more jobs than if the same money were spent by the Pentagon. Just giving the money to households to consume as they choose would generate 15,100 jobs, 35 percent more than military spending.

To make these estimates, we considered three distinct channels through which spending on any project creates jobs. First are the jobs directly involved with the project in question—for example, building an F-35 fighter jet, or undertaking an energy-efficiency retrofit of the government’s existing building stock. In addition, new jobs result when the F-35 or building retrofit project buys supplies. The supplying industries would include steel, glass, tire and electronic producers for building an airplane; and, for the retrofit project, firms that produce windows, insulation, and heating and cooling equipment. Finally, job opportunities will expand when the people newly hired for the F-35 or retrofit project start spending more money, since they now have more in their pockets. This could include a newly hired computer programmer on the F-35 project finally feeling financially able to replace a clunker car, or a window installer on the retrofitting project taking a previously unplanned vacation.

But why do we get so many more jobs per dollar of spending through investments in healthcare, clean energy and education than through the military? The reasons are straightforward:

§â€ˆSpending on people versus everything else. Retrofitting buildings entails hiring lots of electricians, carpenters and roofers, with a relatively modest level of spending on machinery, energy, land and heavy-equipment hauling. Building the F-35, by contrast, entails heavy investments in electronic equipment and carefully treated steel, glass and other materials, with less need to hire people.

§â€ˆSpending within the US economy versus other countries. Even with the ending of direct involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, the overall amount of overseas spending by the US military and its personnel will remain far higher than when funds are spent on domestic investments in healthcare, clean energy and education. When a higher proportion of a given pot of money is spent within the country, more jobs are provided for US workers.

§â€ˆDifferences in pay scales. Average pay for all the jobs connected with military spending—including directly employed personnel and those working for military suppliers—is about $60,000 per year. By contrast, with healthcare, clean energy and education, the average annual pay is closer to $50,000, or 20 percent less. If there is a given pot of money available for hiring workers, when you pay each person a higher wage, that will create fewer—if better compensated—jobs.

Does this mean military spending creates more good jobs? Actually, no. Because spending on clean energy, healthcare and education creates so many more jobs overall—as much as 50 to 140 percent more—these investments also create larger numbers (if lower proportions) of decent- to good-quality jobs than the military, as well as many more low-paying jobs.

Considering only jobs paying at least $32,000 per year, clean energy and healthcare both generate well more than the military, while the figure for education spending is more than twice as high. Considering a still narrower category of jobs—only those paying $64,000 or more per year—the totals for clean energy and healthcare are roughly comparable to the military’s, while the figure for education is double that for military spending.

We should also not dismiss the jobs paying below $32,000, in which the totals for clean energy, healthcare and education are all at least twice that for the military. It is certainly better to have more low-paying jobs available than no jobs at all. Low-paying jobs can be improved through union organizing, job training and a reasonable minimum wage, which should be $12 per hour today. Also, prospects for organizing to improve these jobs will rise when there are more low-paying jobs available. It is much harder to fight for improving job quality when the jobs are not there in the first place.

We Need New Industrial Policies

This past January a New York Times article presented the view that the most serious negative economic consequence of the impending military budget cuts would not be on job opportunities but rather on the economy’s capacity to sustain a successful high-technology growth path. The Pentagon’s achievements in nurturing the Internet, jet aviation and other transformational technologies from inception to commercial success are indeed significant. However, given the massive resources the military has devoted to technology development, should we expect anything less? Since the end of World War II, the Pentagon has spent more money on R&D than any other entity on the face of the earth. For 2011 the Pentagon’s R&D budget was about $81 billion. This was more than half of federal spending on R&D and fully 20 percent of all R&D spending—public and private—in the economy. Moreover, the Pentagon’s share of total US R&D spending had been significantly higher still during the cold war era.

Yet even these R&D spending figures understate the scope of the Pentagon’s investments in technology development. This is because the key factor in the success of the program has not been R&D spending by itself. Equally important has been the way the Pentagon’s procurement policies create and sustain huge guaranteed markets for the products emerging from its R&D programs.

This is the main theme of the late Vernon Ruttan’s book Is War Necessary for Economic Growth? Ruttan’s answer to that question is that war is not necessary for economic growth but that industrial policies based within the Pentagon have been a primary, irreplaceable force for advancing US technical progress. Ruttan saw this combination—huge amounts of direct R&D spending along with maintaining guaranteed markets for the high-tech products being developed—as the foundation undergirding the Pentagon’s successful industrial policies. This is what enabled emerging technologies such as the Internet to incubate slowly over time rather than have to prove their value prematurely to private businesses and consumers. The incubation period for the Internet was about thirty-five years. The R&D work around such projects could therefore remain focused on developing high-quality products rather than on achieving big-profit payoffs as quickly as possible. By contrast, no private business firm operating on its own could possibly survive long-term without being laser-focused on profitability.

But in recognizing the Pentagon’s achievements in industrial policy, we also need to acknowledge its outsized failures. The Pentagon has a long record of handing out noncompetitive, gold-plated, cost-plus contracts to its favored weapons suppliers such as Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics. The Defense Department itself reported in 2010 that nearly one-fourth of all service contracts put out to competitive bidding had only one bidder. Under such cozy arrangements, it is not surprising that cost overruns on military procurement projects—the difference between what procurement was contracted to cost and what it actually did cost—reached around $70 billion over 2009–10. This figure is roughly equal to the State Department’s entire foreign affairs budget for that period.

Such cost overrun figures do not recognize the still more fundamental matter that continuing to maintain the gigantic military-industrial complex is not the most effective means of advancing national security. As Miriam Pemberton and Lawrence Korb write in their study “A Unified Security Budget for the United States,” “The death of Osama bin Laden was accomplished by means that resembled a police action…. The decade of war the United States launched in response to the 9/11 attacks, at the cost of a trillion-plus dollars and many thousands of lives, has failed to accomplish a goal that was finally achieved at a tiny fraction of these costs, through a coordinated action of investigative work, diplomacy, and minimal military force.”

What are the lessons here? The United States certainly needs to continue advancing large-scale industrial policies to promote the development of cutting-edge technologies. But the most pressing areas for technological development are not in ever more dazzling weapon systems but in clean energy, mass transportation and high-end manufacturing. Given these priorities, there is no reason that such industrial policies should continue to be controlled by the Defense Department. Indeed, as Ruttan concluded—and as Seymour Melman has also demonstrated in Pentagon Capitalism, The Permanent War Economy and other works—having industrial and technology policy dominated by the Pentagon has imposed heavy costs on the economy. As one example, research that would lead to the production of cheap solar energy has languished for a generation, with no significant public support and certainly nothing like the guaranteed markets the Pentagon provides for weapons producers.

The broader lesson is also clear. If we are going to advance beyond the past decade of war and the wreckage caused by the Great Recession to build a stable, secure and environmentally sustainable society, we need to break the grip of the military-industrial complex on the $700 billion military budget. That is, we need to take seriously President Eisenhower’s warnings about the “disastrous rise of misplaced power” wielded by this nexus of forces. To advance its aims, the military-industrial complex is creating a seriously distorted picture of the effect of military spending cuts on national security and the economy. The way to fight back begins with the simple task of presenting the facts—and advancing policies for a widely shared economic revival grounded in these facts.

Robert Pollin and Heidi Garrett-Peltier

May 9, 2012
This article appeared in the May 28, 2012 edition of The Nation.

What Kind of Defense Budget Would the American Public Make?

Video Repor, Iwatch News, May 12, 2012, NationofChanget: What would average Americans do if they were informed about the level and purposes of US defense spending and had a chance to weigh the arguments that experts make? Would they boost overall funding, or cut it? Would they spend more on air power or sea power? How much would they say the US should spend on nuclear arms? On major ground forces? On special forces? Most polls simply ask whether defense spending should be cut or not. But three organizations ­ the Program for Public Consultation (PPC), Stimson, and the Center for Public Integrity ­ collaborated on a more useful survey. READ
SHARE http://www.nationofchange.org/what-kind-defense-budget-would-american-public-make-1336834892

Occu'pie' the Military Budget! Flyers for Tax Day”

War Resisters League wrl@warresisters.org via uark.edu

to jbennet April 6, 2012

Still Time to Order for Tax Day!

Where Your Income Tax Money Really Goes

Our 'Pie Chart' flyer for fiscal year 2013, 'Wall St=War St.', is available for sale or download on our website. This year we look at the top military contractors and big corporations that are making a killing off of killing. Buy bulk color copies or download here. There's still time to order 'Pie Charts' for Tax Day (April 17). For rush orders email wrl@warresisters.org.

Hand out the 'Pie Chart' at your local Occupy, vigils and events before and on Tax Day. It's a great conversation starter. Most people in the US do not realize that approximately half of the income tax money pays for war. Check it out on our website. http://www.warresisters.org/node/1325

The 99% needs our tax money to work for us, not to enrich the war profiteers!


By Dick Bennett

Anders Behring Breivik murdered 77 people in Norway on July 22, 2011. Why? He thought they were Muslims; he thought Muslims were taking over his country. “I acted in self-defense on behalf of my people, my city, my country.” “’I am a member of the Norwegian resistance movement….We demand that our ethnic rights not be taken away from us.” It was a “suicide attack,” he said; he had not expected “to survive that day.”

He sounds like bin Laden: he too was defending his faith and people. And like the followers of bin Laden, who murdered thousands of people, Breivik was willing to give up his life.

In court Breivik argued that “he had acted in his country’s defense” and compared himself to U.S. commanders who authorized the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945.” On this basis he asked the court “’that I be acquitted.’” “’As long as you call me evil, you should call the U.S. commanders during World War II evil as well when they decided to drop the bomb on Japan.’” But the U.S. was not evil because “they tried to have noble motives to try to save people’s lives.” just as he did. He was protesting “the ‘Islamic’ “colonization” of Norway,” “’I did this out of goodness, not evil.’” The murders were a “’preventive strike.’”

Thus “defense” because psychopathic and lethal. To reverse the chronological order: The U.S. Department of “Defense”. invades and bombs from Guatemala in 1954 to Afghanistan and Iraq in 2001 and 2003, all in violation of the U.N. Charter, killing millions of innocents. The U.S. equipped Osama bin Laden in his resistance to the Soviet Occupation. Bin Laden ’s al Qaeda members bombed the Twin Towers, in defense of his faith, of Afghanistan, occupied now my the U.S., and other Middle Eastern nations. And Breivik bombs and shoots in defense of “my people, my city, my country.”

Formerly a high value, the idea of “defense” (against murder, against bullies, against invasion) has been so outrageously sullied and abused by extremist nationalistic and ethnic fanatics and xenophobes, let us banish the word until the idea loses its power to motivate mass murder.


--William Blum. Killing Hope and Rogue State.

--Mark Lewis and Alan Cowell (The New York Times). “Patriotically Killed 77, Norwegian Testifies.” ADG (April 18, 2012), 3A.

March 22, 2012

Tomgram: Michael Gould-Wartofsky, Class of 2012 Meet the Class of 1984

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Tom remains on the road and off the grid until March 29th, but a signed, personalized copy of his book The United States of Fear will wing its way toward you on his return for a contribution of $75 (or more). A similarly signed copy of Michael Klare’s groundbreaking new book, The Race for What’s Left: The Global Scramble for the World’s Last Resources, is also still available (without the time lag) for a contribution of $100. Just check out the original offer or go directly to our donation page. Nick]

Graduating from high school soon? Looking for a job in a high-growth field? Like working outdoors and traveling to exotic locales? How does $103,269 a year strike you?

At myfuture.com, high-schoolers are encouraged “to explore all possibilities and gain insight into” possible futures through “unbiased, detailed information,” including data from the Departments of Commerce, Education, and Labor. “In addition to college admissions details, average salaries, and employment trends,” reads an explanation in that website’s fine print, “myfuture.com provides advice on everything from taking the SAT to interviewing for a first job to preparing for boot camp.” Did you catch that last part? Boot camp. Which brings us back to that $103,269 a year job.

Myfuture.com just happens to be run by the Department of Defense and that high-demand job is as a “Special Forces officer.” In 2006, the website notes, there were only 1,493 slots in that field; by 2010, 2,320. That it’s an American job-growth area shouldn’t surprise any of us. After all, in the last year, Special Forces officers starred in a box-office topping motion picture, gunned down pirates, carried out assassinations, and expanded their global war from 75 to 120 countries. No wonder it’s been boom times for special ops officers.

Myfuture.com is, however, far from the only Defense Department website making a play for a young audience. There’s BoostUp.org, with its “high school dropout prevention campaign,” sponsored by the Army. (Which makes sense because, as TomDispatch reported in 2005, the military has studied what makes college students drop out and how the armed services can capitalize on that urge.) At the other end of the educational spectrum, the Army sponsors eCYBERMISSION, “a free, web-based Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics competition for students in grades six through nine where teams can compete for state, regional and national awards while working to solve problems in their community.” And then there’s TodaysMilitary.com.“Young people need support as they consider their life path,” reads its pitch. “This site aims to help them and their families understand service options and benefits so they can make informed choices.”

“Military service is not for everyone,” TodaysMilitary.com confides. “It requires self-discipline, intense physical work, and time away from family and friends while protecting America and its citizens at home and abroad. For some, these commitments impose too great a burden.” But here’s a surprise for those presumably too lazy, weak, or emotionally needy to do anything but go to college ( what snobs!): they’ll find a complete line-up of government agencies and national security types waiting to teach them (or beat them) on the quad, as Michael Gould-Wartofsky explains in his latest report on the state of state repression on American college campuses.

It turns out myfuture.com may really be onto something. These days, given that you may have to brave batons, CS gas, and Tasers just to get to English 101 -- and since officers in the Special Operations Forces need a degree anyway ( what snobs!) -- some military training might come in handy before you head for college. Nick Turse

Repress U, Class of 2012

Seven Steps to a Homeland Security Campus

By Michael Gould-Wartofsky

Campus spies. Pepper spray. SWAT teams. Twitter trackers. Biometrics. Student security consultants. Professors of homeland security studies. Welcome to Repress U, class of 2012.

Since 9/11, the homeland security state has come to campus just as it has come to America’s towns and cities, its places of work and its houses of worship, its public space and its cyberspace. But the age of (in)security had announced its arrival on campus with considerably less fanfare than elsewhere -- until, that is, the “ less lethal” weapons were unleashed in the fall of 2011.

Today, from the City University of New York to the University of California, students increasingly find themselves on the frontlines, not of a war on terror, but of a war on “radicalism” and “ extremism.” Just about everyone from college administrators and educators to law enforcement personnel and corporate executives seems to have enlisted in this war effort. Increasingly, American students are in their sights.

Click here to read more of this dispatch. http://www.tomdispatch.com/post/175519/tomgram%3A_michael_gould-wartofsky%2C_class_of_2012_meet_the_class_of_1984/#more

USA Today Journalists Targeted After Report on DOD Propaganda Program Ali Gharib, ThinkProgress, April 22, 2012

Gharib reports: "The largest circulation daily newspaper in America, USA Today, reports that two of its journalists were targeted by a campaign to discredit their work shortly after publishing pieces about a Pentagon propaganda operation."

READ MORE http://readersupportednews.org/news-section2/317-65/11067-usa-today-journalists-targeted-after-report-on-dod-propaganda-program

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)

Dick's Wars and Warming KPSQ Radio Editorials (#1-48)