While terrorists invest with remunerative results ..
US military spending can be completely counterproductive
The so-called Patriot Act scares dollar holdings into euros. The Bushies pay off the same militia they accuse Iran of funding. And the US spends more on weapons that may not ever work than on occupying Iraq. We trim, blend, and append three 2008 articles: (1) “Why the West Lost the Financial War against Terror” by Loretta Napoleoni; (2) “Things Unsaid at the Petraeus Hearings” by Ivan Eland, posted at the Independent Institute, April 14; and (3) “Bush Administration Wastes Trillions in Worthless Weapons” by Robert Scheer, posted on Truthdig, April 3. Napoleoni, author of Terror Incorporated and Rogue Economics, advises several governments on counter-terrorism and was recently interviewed by Newsweek.com. Eland has been an investigator for the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Principal Defense Analyst at the Congressional Budget Office. Robert Scheer is the co-author of The Five Biggest Lies Bush Told Us About Iraq.
by Jeffery J. Smith, April 2008Napoleoni: Money has never been a problem for al-Qaeda, not because its leader is a Saudi millionaire but because they invest in the legal and illegal economy of the countries where they operate. In Pakistani, the city of Quetta, which is their new HQ, is a huge market for counterfeits and contraband in Central Asia. Their main sources of revenues are:
* of the 4 to 5 billion dollars worth of petrol per year that Iraq imports, terrorists and mafias steal 30% and re-sell it on the black market at home or in neighbouring countries;
* kidnapping is booming; most of the people who are kidnapped are Iraqis;
* smuggling then reselling small arms and light weapons from Saddam’s huge arsenal in places like Somalia and Lebanon.
The UN Security Council Resolutions 1333 and 1267, which pre-date 9/11, and the Patriot Act have failed to cut Al Qaeda off from international banks. The rules tried to freeze funds of individuals linked to al Qaeda. Big businessmen escaped thanks to the refusal of Eastern countries to comply and the reluctance of Western countries to investigate their global finances. Others got out of dollar investment and bought euros to avoid been screened by the American monetary authorities.
More important, the number of business and charities which al Qaeda had infiltrated in the West was very small. In the East, on the other hand, al Qaeda organized the Da’wah network -- a web of radical Salafist charities and businesses, constructed with Saudi money, dating back to the late 1980s. Osama bin Laden was one of its main brokers. The technique is to infiltrate the economy of a weak or failed state and use large investments to reshape it. Da’wah spread al Qaeda’s violent creed, the Wahhabi doctrine, across the Muslim world.
Some call for an independent international monitoring body on terrorist financing, which could investigate and report on what is happening in all regions of the world, where both Muslims and non-Muslim countries would be represented.
Eland: According to General David H. Petraeus, the latest worst threat to the US military in Iraq is Iranian-backed militia. This allegation coupled with the firing of Admiral William Fallon as commander-in-chief of US forces in the Middle East, who was an opponent of any attack on Iran, raise worries about a cowboy attack on Iran before the Bush administration leaves office. Yet the US-backed Shiite government and its associated militias are the same ones backed by Iran.
The US is also paying off the Sunni and nationalist Mahdi Army enemies. Bolstering these militias will, in the long run, exacerbate any civil war when they again begin to fight each other.
The botched Iraqi government offensive in Basra was beginning to flip a few Republicans against the war. They adopted the Democrats’ argument that Iraqis were failing to do enough to become democratic. Although it is grossly unfair to invade a country, destroy its social fabric and economy, and then expect people who have had no experience in democracy to quickly become democrats, if it takes those rhetorical gymnastics to justify a more rapid US withdrawal, so be it.
Scheer: The Government Accountability Office again documented the enormous waste in every single US advanced weapons system, as did five equally scathing previous annual audits. That's a grade of zero for every major weapons system.
The peace dividend promised with the end of the Cold War, was washed away by a doubling of spending on military equipment. Funding the Iraq war pales in comparison to purchases of weaponry in the wake of 9/11. Yet the purchases, such as the $81-billion submarine, have no connection to fighting stateless terrorists.
Pentagon cost overruns, always a huge problem, have mushroomed. Total acquisition costs for major defense programs in the fiscal year 2007 portfolio have increased 26% from first estimates, compared with 6% in 2000.
Military spending accounts for more than half of all the federal government's discretionary spending.
The Iraq war may end someday, but major weapons systems have a life-support system unmatched in any other sector of public spending. Rarely does the plug get pulled on even the most irrelevant war toy. Not while so much is at stake in the way of jobs and profit.
JJS: So let’s not tax jobs and profit. Let’s augment wages and profits by paying ourselves a dividend from surplus public revenue from cutting spending on militarism. We can amass the funds by using taxes, fees, and leases to redirect all our spending on land, resources, and privilege into the public treasury.
Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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