• All governments lie, but disaster lies in wait for countries whose officials smoke the same hashish they give out.

  • I.F. Stone

dinsdag 9 mei 2017

Tom Engelhardt 233

May 9, 2017

Tomgram: William Hartung, Ignoring the Costs of War

[Note for TomDispatch Readers: Just wanted to remind you that our recent offer of a signed, personalized copy of Pulitzer Prize-winning historian John Dower’s highly praised new Dispatch Book, The Violent American Century: War and Terror Since World War Two, in return for a contribution of $100 ($125 if you live outside the United States) is a limited one.  It will only last another week, so if you meant to, do get yourself an autographed copy and don’t tarry.  Check out our donation page.  At the very least, offer TomDispatch your support and buy a copy of a great and disturbing book either at Amazon by clicking here(and so giving us a few extra cents at no extra cost to you) or by visiting publisher Haymarket Books’ website where it’s available at a significant discount by clicking here. Tom]

Wilbur Ross put the matter... well, mouth-wateringly. At a Milken Institute Global Conference in California, the commerce secretary recalled how President Trump was hosting a dinner for China’s president, Xi Jinping, at his Mar-a-Lago club at the moment when a bevy of Tomahawk missiles were being dispatched against an airfield in Syria. Ross described the moment this way: “Just as dessert was being served, the president explained to Mr. Xi he had something he wanted to tell him, which was the launching of 59 missiles into Syria. It was in lieu of after-dinner entertainment.” To laughter from the crowd, he then added, “The thing was, it didn’t cost the president anything to have that entertainment.”

The president himself recalled the same moment in an interview with Fox Business: “I was sitting at the table. We had finished dinner. We're now having dessert. And we had the most beautiful piece of chocolate cake that you've ever seen, and President Xi was enjoying it.” (Of course, Donald Trump is hardly the first person to, in essence, say, “Let them eat cake.”)

In the end, of course, someone did have to pick up the tab for that thrillingly militarized dessert and it just happened to be you and me.  As TomDispatch regular William Hartung, author of Prophets of War, points out today in a piece on the true costs of war, American-style, the bill for that piece of cake and those Tomahawk missiles was $89 million dollars, admittedly a mere lagniappe by twenty-first-century U.S. military standards. (The tip for the meal naturally went to the maker of those Tomahawks, Raytheon).  Rest assured that future desserts will undoubtedly be even more elaborate and expensive.  After all, in a rare bipartisan show of unity, Republicans and Democrats just polished off a spending bill that will not only keep the government open through September, but give the Pentagon, an institution that happens to be historically incapable of even auditing itself, an extra little treat: $15 billion above and beyond its already vast budget to tide it over in its never-ending wars in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Syria, and “replenish equipment and pay for training and maintenance.”

We’re talking chocolate cake all the way to the bank when it comes to the Pentagon and the major weapons contractors it regularly offers its tastiest desserts. Admittedly, that $15 billion wasn’t quite what President Trump wanted, but call it an mouth-watering appetizer when it comes to a meal about which, unlike almost everything else on the table in Washington, Democrats and Republicans always see more or less eye to eye. And expect one thing: a lot more chocolate cake in President Trump’s future. After all, the generals are in chargeTom
The American Way of War Is a Budget-Breaker 
Never Has a Society Spent More for Less 
By William D. Hartung

When Donald Trump wanted to “do something” about the use of chemical weapons on civilians in Syria, he had the U.S. Navy lob 59 cruise missiles at a Syrian airfield (cost: $89 million). The strike was symbolic at best, as the Assad regime ran bombing missions from the same airfield the very next day, but it did underscore one thing: the immense costs of military action of just about any sort in our era.
While $89 million is a rounding error in the Pentagon’s $600 billion budget, it represents real money for other agencies.  It’s more than twice the $38 million annual budget of the U.S. Institute of Peace and more than half the $149 million budgetof the National Endowment of the Arts, both slated for elimination under Trump’s budget blueprint. If the strikes had somehow made us -- or anyone -- safer, perhaps they would have been worth it, but they did not.
Click here to read more of this dispatch.


Geen opmerkingen:

Een reactie posten