Friday :: Apr 28, 2006

The Bu$hCo Betrayal

by pessimist

Prior to the Civil War, President James Buchanan of Pennsylvania is accused by some historians of pandering to the radical Southern secessionists by shipping entire military arsenals from Northern States to Southern. This was seen as a factor in the early victories of the Confederacy, though it didn't last long enough to provide the South with a strategic benefit.

Just what are we to make of a man whose cronies are screwing those America sends to war out of medical care and other benefits and then sell the means of producing weapons to foreigners???

I wrote back in 2004 about how the military was contracting with foreign suppliers for bullets and stiffing American manufacturers out of contracts in the process! These neo-conmen want us to believe that they truly care about the security of the nation? Even Business Week has been recently wondering what's up with this steady stream of contracts to foreign vendors?

Anyone who just might be wondering why I'm harping on the contradiction between Bu$hCo words and actions (to paraphrase a famous TV cartoon flying squirrel: "What? Again?!? But that trick NEVER works with Red Staters!") should read up on how easily a nation can be crippled through the interdiction of its sea trade.

As wrote Navy Cmdr Michel Thomas Poirier in 1999:

The U.S. Pacific Submarine campaign had three major accomplishments.

* First, Japanese merchant marine losses crippled the ability of Japanese industry to generate military power.
* Second, destruction of Japanese merchant marine and naval forces significantly reduced the Japanese ability to project power throughout the vast Pacific.
* Third, use of the submarine enabled the U.S. Navy to take the offensive in Japanese controlled waters and inflict disproportionate losses relative to the U.S. investment in submarines.

For the loss of 48 (out of 52 total) American submarines lost to enemy action, the Japanese lost 1,178 Merchant Ships [and] 214 warships and submarines.

I'm not going to suggest for one minute that the US Navy could ever suffer such losses (they did after all, inflict them!), but what of the world's merchant fleets? What if there was a suicide attack against an LNG tanker in, for example, the Strait of Molucca, where it couldn't easily evade attack? Around a quarter of the world's trade and half of its oil supplies pass through the strait, which is considered a hotspot for piracy.

If you Red Staters are still having troubles figuring out what I'm talking about, just think USS Cole:

- then substitute it with one of these:

The explosive force on one LNG tanker is equal, roughly, to 55 Hiroshima bombs,

The BBC has a video of an LNG explosion [Real Media] in Brussels, Belgium, in 2004. A Liquid Natural Gas explosion incinerated a square mile of downtown Cleveland, Ohio in 1944. The spill that created this blast was approximately 5% of the volume held by a modern LNG tanker. The explosion destroyed 79 houses, two factories, and 217 cars. Its heat reached 1000 degrees, killed 130 and injured 275.

This is significant, because an LNG tanker would be the ideal weapon for terrorists to use to strangle oil shipments. To again quote Cmdr. Poirier:

Submarine attacks on the oil flow to Japan were a second critical factor in destroying Japanese military potential. Japanese oil imports fell from 1.75 million barrels per month in August 1943 to 360,000 barrels per month in July 1944. These losses are especially impressive when one considers that the Japanese Navy alone required 1.6 million barrels monthly to operate. The loss of raw materials and petroleum and inability to transport items to the front lines lay at the heart of Japan's weakening ability to maintain effective military strength.

Just because it is 60 years later, and instead of kaiten the attackers use explosive-laden speedboats, doesn't change these facts:

* Despite most US Navy carriers and submarines being nuclear-powered, the remainder of the warships and support vessels still burn petroleum
* Merchant shipping is extremely vulnerable to terrorist attack
* Terrorists are capable of inflicting great damage at little cost
* The majority of the world's petroleum is routed through places where terror attacks would be very effective in limiting future shipments

But it isn't just oil that would be affected. The bulk of the supplies sent to US troops in Iraq go by ship, for instance. There wouldn't be enough pilots or cargo planes available to take up the slack should shipping be cut off. Certainly, other arrangements could eventually be made, but suppose the interruption came at a critical moment? Wars have been lost for less!

In a round-about way, this brings me back to offshoring the production of military weapons and supplies.

Just as in the case of Japan, the United States is very vulnerable at sea - the very reason why China is rapidly expanding its undersea capabilities. One US Navy officer warns this threat should not be underestimated.

Let's look at a few real-world examples of where I'm taking this.

Just recently, for the very first time in my memory of the president being ferried by military helicopters, Marine One was grounded. That is about as ludicrous a situation as George remaining in the Oval Office because the hinges got too rusty to move - it can't happen!

Yet it did. Suppose the repair parts came from a foreign supplier. How would this chopper get repaired? What if, instead of being POTUS' Air Taxi, the chopper was an Apache or other attack unit?

Yet look at what Bu$hCo wants to do:

A bipartisan group of Congressmen have become very vocal about plans to replace the venerable Modified VH-60N helicopter flying as Marine One today with the VH-71 made by a consortium formed from Lockheed and AgustaWestland, an Italian-British helicopter venture that is part of the Italian Finmeccanica consortium.

The 23 helicopters covered by this specific contract will likely do more than just shuttle POTUS from the First Abode to Air Force One. Certain new technologies used in the VH-71 will be adapted for use by other military helicopters. Can we be sure that the new contract holders from Dubai won't be revealing military secrets to those against whom these helicopters would be deployed? What about industrial competitors? Could one situation even be worse that the other?

But one is considered treason while the other is winked at.

George says "Trust me!" almost as well as David Leasure's 'Joe Isuzu', but he's less than half as believeable. You don't have to believe me about this.

Ask those George sent to fight his wars:

More injured troops are surviving the war in Iraq than any other. But because of the terrible force of IED explosions, more are surviving with brain injury than in any other war. Most of the patients treated in the brain rehabilitation program go back in the community, but about 10 percent wind up in nursing homes or other long-term assisted living facilities on a permanent basis.

But the Rangers and the Pioneers who make up the jackals of Bu$hCo could care less that the peasants sent to defend their economic investments no longer have the ability to live a normal life:

President Dwight Eisenhower warned of a "military-industrial complex" in his 1961 farewell address to the American people ("In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex..."). [W]e have never had a president who was so determined to turn more of what once passed for civil government over to the Pentagon, an organization seemingly intent on proving in Iraq and elsewhere that reconstruction and civil governance are nowhere in its bag of tricks.

So when what is most "civil" in the military starts to falter as well, all of us should take note.

[A]s Judith Coburn reports below, the health-care and disability system for American veterans -- the very men and women this administration so cavalierly sent off to its war of choice in Iraq -- is in a state of increasing disarray and faces a wounded administration that secretly likes to think of the medical care of veterans as another form of welfare to be slashed.

Coming Home from War on the Cheap - Shortchanging the Wounded
By Judith Coburn

Much has been written about how President Bush and Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld waged war on the cheap, sending too few ill-equipped young soldiers -- 30% of them ill-trained Reservists and National Guardsmen -- into battle. But little has been reported about how shockingly on-the-cheap the homecomings of these soldiers have proved to be.

The Veterans Administration, now run by a former Republican National Committeeman, has been subjected to the same radical hatcheting that the White House has tried to wield against the rest of America's safety net. Cutbacks, cooking the books, privatization schemes, even a proposal to close down the VA's operations have all been in evidence. The administration's inside-the-beltway supporters like the Heritage Foundation and famed anti-tax radical Grover Norquist like to equate VA care with welfare.

Traditionally, however, most Americans have held that the VA's medical care and disability compensation was earned by those who served their country. Unfortunately, in our draft-free country, the fight to protect the Veteran's Administration and to fully fund it has gone on largely out of public sight.

White House ideas for cutting back the VA, including making vets pay insurance premiums, higher co-pays and doubling Vets' costs for prescription drugs, have also been beaten back by Congress. One VA response to its huge backlog of claims has been to limit enrollment for its services.

In January 2003, the White House ordered the VA to create
a new temporary cost-cutting category of 'affluent' vets
who would not be eligible to use the VA.

But the new category seems headed for permanency. And it sets the cut-off level for eligibility for VA care so low -- around $30,000 for a so-called "affluent" family of four -- that many vets who have been cut off can't possibly afford health insurance and medical care on the private market.

In an unrelated controversy at the University of Virginia, it was asserted that:

The $10.72 figure uses a “market basket” approach, which tallies the cost of basic necessities to arrive at the minimum annual income needed to keep a Charlottesville-based family of four out of poverty. According to the students’ report, that figure is currently $44,592 per year for a family of four with two wage earners, and includes the cost of “taxes, other necessities, transportation, health care, food, housing and child care.”

Lose one wage earner, or one job, and what is going to happen?

But I digress.

Back to Judith Coburn's report

In World War II, 12 million Americans fought on behalf of a nation of 130 million. Twenty-five percent of American men served in that war. They came back heroes to a country more than willing to give them the latest medical care, compensate them for their wounds, send them to college, and help them buy homes.

Fifty years later in Iraq -- an unpopular war -- only 1.3 million are fighting for a nation of 300 million.

"Never have so few sacrificed so much for so many,"
one Desert Storm veteran said recently.

How many Iraqi veterans will eventually join the ranks of the 400,000 homeless vets on the streets of American cities? (Right now the VA takes care of only 100,000 such vets, according to the National Coalition for Homeless Veterans.)

Iraq may be the wrong cause for sacrifice. But Vietnam veterans taught us that once war starts we must be willing to take care of everyone who gets hurt in it.

Those who went to war aren't the only ones being forgotten once the fighting has stopped for them. Those who made it possible for that soldier to go to war in the first place - the taxpayers - are also being forgotten:

Greed thrives in our health care system
by Dave Zweifel, Editor, The Capital Times.

Here's another one to remember when someone tells you that our "private" health care system works:

The Wall Street Journal ran a front-page story last week with the headline that said it all: "As Patients, Doctors Feel Pinch, Insurer's CEO Makes a Billion."

The story, datelined Minnetonka, Minn., was about William McGuire, a doctor who stopped practicing in 1986 to take a management job with UnitedHealth Group Inc., one of the largest HMOs in the country. But the gist of the story is that while McGuire and other UnitedHealth execs are raking in millions, their company is putting the squeeze on everyone else.

Of course, this is just one more anecdote that serves to describe our broken health care system, which leaves more than 40 million Americans without coverage and an embarrassment of riches for those who know how to milk that system.

Like Big Oil... Big Drug... The International Military-Industrial Complex...

One would think that some person with a conscience inside Bu$hCo would speak out and expose those for who greed is more valuable than human life. There are reports that many try, even as they suffer the consequences while those truly guilty of crimes against humanity go scot-free. Referring to the story about contracting of military producers to Dubai interests, these interesting tidbits floated to the surface of the cesspool:

[T]wo administration officials familiar with the terms of the deal ... who were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about something the president had not yet announced...

A senior Republican Congressional aide who was granted anonymity because he was not authorized to talk about the matter, ...

Threats have clearly been made to silence those who would speak. One veteran of the Cold War is outraged enough to take a stand himself:

Bush tells former CIA employees they're no longer permitted to criticize his administration
by John in DC - 4/27/2006

I studied the Soviet Union in grad school, it was one of my main areas of expertise. I'm a hawk on defense. I hated the Soviets and there was little Ronald Reagan could do wrong vis-a-vis the evil empire, in my eye. And I'm telling you, what is happening in our country today is right out of the Soviet playbook. (It's also right out of the Nazi playbook.)

Has America become the Soviet Union or Nazi Germany? No. Have we started down the path to a more totalitarian government that no longer respects, that no longer fears, its citizenry? Absolutely. Do we tolerate today in America presidential policies that would have been unconscionable under any circumstance just ten years ago. Sadly, yes.

The Republican party no longer represents freedom or democracy or America.
They have become the worst historical caricature of what liberals were always supposd to be (but actually weren't). Un-American, loose-spending, wimps who are ultimately terribly dangerous to our freedom in troubled times.
Does America stand for anything anymore? Jesus Christ. Where are we, the Soviet Union? A week after the Chinese communist dictator is welcomed to the White House we're told that former government officials are no longer allowed to criticize the government?

In America? Is this what 51% of the American people voted for? Outlawing all dissent?

Not to mention, if there's such a crisis of former intelligence experts wanting to criticize George Bush then maybe that ought to tell us something - about George Bush. You slowly criminalize dissent so that the public accepts infringements on civil liberties that it would never accept in one fell swoop...

Seriously, anyone who is Republican out there and voted for this man,
how can you continue to support these bizarre un-American policies?
America wasn't created in order to throw away everything it stands for in order to survive. That was not the intent of our founding fathers, that we protect and defend our God-given - remember, God-given they told us - rights only when it was convenient.
If they're God-given rights,
then how can man suspend them,
even for a war on terror?
And to hell with this war on terror crap.

And to hell with George W. Bu$h and the neo-confidence men he represents.

What is going on with Dubai Ports World, and this new proposal to allow Dubai to become a major player in the military-industrial complex, and the abandonment of the American soldier who can no longer fight, and the betrayal of all Americans, is that all those years the world invested in our nation it wasn't for our benefit. It was for theirs, and now they feel that it's time for them to reap the harvest. Our leaders of both parties betrayed us to foreigners, a clear if subtle violation of their oaths of office.

But it's We the People who should feel the most ashamed. We didn't learn our history, so we didn't hear those who warned us against allowing 'factions' to dominate our politics, nor did we hear those who warned against allowing business - whose single Commandment is 'Make More Money!' - to gain control of governance.

We were the ones who fell for the lies of partisan politics used to keep us distracted from noticing the activities of those looting our land.

We are now going to pay for the folly of our ancestors, who - exhausted from the deprivations of the Great Depression, and horrified by what they had to do in WWII (and after) to save democracy from totalitarianism - chose to believe those very corporate flacks and military 'experts' who only ever watched out for themselves (and the small groups to which they belonged) - they who kept telling us that we would be fat, dumb, and happy as long as we didn't concern ourselves with those things our leaders were doing to protect us.

The price of liberty is eternal vigilence - and we fell asleep on watch. We are going down, and those who would enslave us are well on their way to making that a reality. There are only a few who can still derail this runaway train, but even if they do, there will soon be another... and another...

Maybe we will get another chance at running a democratic republic. Maybe not. But if we do, we are going to have to resign ourselves to paying that price for liberty. We are going to have to become eternally vigilant - not only to those outsiders who wish us harm, but those traitors who would sell us from inside.

It is that latter that is causing America to fail. If we get another chance at being a free country, we will have to see to it that those traitors never again get the opportunity to enrich themselves at our expense.

Otherwise, we will be the betrayers.

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pessimist :: 11:19 AM :: Comments (8) :: TrackBack (0) :: Digg It!