islam drones targets budgets

Islamic Violence Comes From Rulers' Corruption
military corruption transit tod vacancy rates transit lines

US Can't Kill an Idea, So Try Justice

Drones do what they’re designed to do but they can’t win war, yet geonomics can obviate war. We trim, blend, and append five 2012 articles from: (1) Los Angeles Times, Jun 17, on drones by T. McDermott (author, with Josh Meyer, of The Hunt for KSM); (2) Daily Times [Pakistan], Jun 8, on budget outgo by S. Usto (lawyer and academic at; (3) Express Tribune [Pakistan], Jun 10, on budget income by S. Hasan; (4) Globe and Mail, Jun 11, on TODs by F. Bula; and (5) National Post, Jul 6, on rent recovery by B. Dachis.

by Terry McDermott, by Shahab Usto, by Saad Hasan, by Frances Bula, and by Benjamin Dachis

American technology — B-52s then, drones now — makes it far too easy to unleash holy hell on our enemies.

We live in an age when American might can overwhelm the defenses of entire countries with barely a drop of American blood spent. It is, in a way, too easy. Because there is so little risk, there is no political cost to be paid for the drone wars. Presidents Bush and Obama could deploy drones by the dozens with the certain knowledge it would do nothing but enhance their political causes.

The CIA has asked for and been given permission to further expand its Yemeni targets to include what are called "signature" attacks against not individual targets but patterns of activity. That is creeping eerily close to targeting unknown innocents.

Even being able to actually see the targets now, we still sometimes hit the wrong ones with the drones -- a wedding here, a Bedouin camp there.

And not just because we might misidentify. With the expansion of the drone war, we make the problem of radical Islam more intractable than ever. We've been trying to attack Al Qaeda with missiles, bombs and drones for 25 years now. Shouldn't we at some time stop and ask ourselves: What's the point? As good as we've become at killing people, the larger problem persists.

It's possible, I suppose, we might eventually eliminate Al Qaeda completely. But even if this event comes to pass, it misses a central point. Al Qaeda did not invent radical Islam; it simply took advantage of its existence.

That larger problem is that we cannot kill our way to victory in the war on terror. I'm not even sure we have a place in the fight.

Radical Islam is a cult within the larger body of the religion. It is not going to be defeated with bombs or bullets. It must be attacked and rooted out from within Islam, at the village and mosque level. Our main role in this fight is to embolden the Muslim majority to rally against the radicals.

Right now, we're harming that goal more than helping.

To read more

JJS: A bigger problem than any fanatical movement is the unjust context it arises in.

During the last two years, Rs 100 to 150 billion have been taken out of the developmental outlay to pay for the counterinsurgency operations in FATA.

The budgets of all the rulers roughly allocate the same: 30 percent military, 30 percent debt repayment, 20 percent civil administration, and only 20 percent on the social and economic sector.

Of the last category, often the end figure is much less than what was originally allocated. On the other hand, the military and bureaucracy invariably receive amounts exceeding the original figures.

The new budget falls far short of alleviating the miserable lot of the common man, the passive victim of the rapacious and myopic propertied, business, political, and state elites.

Despite an expected shortfall of Rs 1.2 trillion, the ‘powerful lobbies’ -- agricultural, real estate, stock brokers, service providers, wholesalers, retailers -- continue to remain out of the taxman’s reach.

Our country has a 50 percent illiteracy rate, and almost 70 percent poverty ranging from the very poor, the poor to the ever hard-up middle classes.

Almost every decade, a tax amnesty has legitimized a new class of scavenging nouveau riche that has risen through tax evasion, corruption, rent seeking, and a myriad of rackets.

Billionaires, they are immune to accountability and beyond the grasp of the law. They get away with all kinds of felonies -- stealing public funds, cartelising, smuggling, under-invoicing, overpricing, hoarding, racketeering, and buying off the taxman.

Thousands of containers containing goods and arms worth billions of rupees were stolen under the garb of the so-called Afghan transit, and thousands of acres of provincial land in Karachi was procured on nominal rates by the military to develop their housing schemes along the strategic Super Highway in Karachi.

Corruption is so rampant in the public sector that public functionaries are perceived more as ‘commission agents’ than custodians of public funds.

The high cost of rent-seeking makes the performance of contracts and completion of public works almost impossible. As a result, the social, and physical infrastructure is in shambles, the common person’s economic and security realities are horrible.

To read more

JJS: Poor places are not poor so much as looted.

The Karachi Pakistan city administration is facing losses in revenue. Until last year it had domicile and weapons license issuing authority, now gone. The upcoming budget shows how much the Karachi Municipal Corporation is capable of generating from its own sources, which are definitely not scarce: Rs800 million under the tax heads of ground rent and non-utilization.

To read more

JJS: Government invest so much in roads and transit not so much for the traveler as for the landowner.

Tenants are willing to pay considerably more to get into a similar building that’s closer to transit. They will pay a 22-per-cent premium in the British Columbia towns of Vancouver, Surrey, and Burnaby to be within 500 metres of a transit station. As well, vacancy rates for buildings outside that 500-metre range can go up to 25 per cent higher than a transit-oriented building in the same suburb.

To read more

JJS: Location, location, location. Since society generates the value of a location -- not just by putting in transit but mainly just by being there -- who should recover those values?

Toronto's "OneCity" plan for a new transit network would be financed by equal federal, provincial, and municipal contributions, the municipal share coming from increased housing [site] values -- a windfall gain for those residents.

To read more

JJS: Not only is land value a valid source of public revenue, so are transit vehicles and ways a valid expenditure -- far better than the flying drones from military bases that make killing so convenient.

Further, if government recovered only the values that society generates, such as land value but also the value of resources and EM spectrum and ecosystem services and privileges like corporate charters, then government could completely forgo taxing our earnings, our enterprises and our edifices (buildings).

Not having to pay taxes to politicians, people could feel much better about themselves, much more like independent individuals. And if citizens had to pay land dues and got back rent dividends, then they’d feel a more intimate connection to the earth. That connection, and the self-respect one feels from not being taxed, makes people stronger and harder to be manipulate into waging war.


Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics and helped prepare a course for the UN on geonomics. To take the “Land Rights” course, click here .

Also see:

Can one kill, conscience intact?

Feudalism in Pakistan, Communalism in Uganda

Senator Levin Questions U.S. Aid

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