Category Archives: Merchants of Death

Russell Brand: Tunisia Minute Of Silence Is Propaganda To Justify More War and Surveillance

Israel’s new kamikaze drone

Yoav Zitun reports for Ynet News:

Still from simulation video (Photo: Aeronautics)[…] It contains a 2.5 kilogram warhead with 4,000 tungsten fragments that can powerfully scatters over a radius of 25 meters.

The UAV is designed less for collecting intelligence than for homing in on a target and damage control when a UAV fails to strike a target.

The K1 is designed for surgical strikes on targets like light vehicles or terrorist cells. The UAV can also explode in the air slightly above the target.

It has the capability to remain airborne for two to two-and-a-half hours, relatively silently. Unlike other UAVs in the world, the K1 can return to its handlers and land nearby unscathed in the event that the mission is cancelled at the last moment.’

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‘PTSD Action Man’ Mock Toy Ad by Veterans For Peace UK Exposes ‘Spectacle of Military Propaganda’

Charlie Gilmour reports for VICE:

[…] Action Man: Battlefield Casualties, a series of darkly funny short films produced with artist Darren Cullen, is their attempt to show the shit beneath the shine of polished army propaganda. Featuring PTSD Action Man (“with thousand-yard stare action”), Paralysed Action Man (“legs really don’t work”) and Dead Action Man (“coffin sold separately”), the films are being released to coincide with Armed Forces Day.

“No matter how bad anyone thinks this film is, the reality is worse,” says artist Darren Cullen. “It’s not sick to show what actually happens in a war. It’s sick to convince people to join that war without telling them what’s possibly going to happen. Recruiting 16-year-olds into the army is sick.”

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Western collusion with Egypt’s reign of terror

Nafeez Ahmed writes for Middle East Eye:

[…] So far, Egypt has signed a grant total of $158 billion worth of agreements and memoranda of understanding with international companies, many of which have focused on energy.

Apart from Germany, Britain and Israel, as of March 2015, Egypt has also signed a $1.8 billion deal with China to develop Egypt’s electricity transmission grid; a $2.4 billion deal with companies from Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates to develop solar and wind power stations; a $7 billion deal with Saudi Arabia to develop a coal power station; a $5 billion deal with Italian oil major Eni to develop Egypt’s oil resources over four years.

Meanwhile, Sisi has appropriated the “war on terror” rhetoric of his Western benefactors to legitimise his brutal crackdown on political dissent and civil society activism.

Presenting himself as a bulwark of regional stability in the face of rising Islamist extremism, the West has rushed to shore up his tyranny primarily with energy contracts, but also, it seems, through direct collusion in Sisi’s domestic human rights abuses to crush political opposition.

The West has learned no lessons from the fall of Mubarak – except to keep doing more of the same.’

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Trident whistleblower: MoD brainwashing public over nuclear safety

Rob Edwards reports for the The Herald Scotland:

William McNeilly said the public were being deceived over the safety of nuclear warheads being carried by submarines on the ClydeIn a new message to the public, he says that people are being deceived about the security of Trident nuclear warheads carried by submarines based at Faslane and Coulport on the Clyde. A terrorist attack is highly likely, he claims.

McNeilly disclosed last week that he had been dishonourably discharged by the Royal Navy for making public a dossier alleging that Trident was “a disaster waiting to happen” and going absent without leave. He is promising to say more in July.

The Sunday Herald revealed his allegations on May 17, while he was on the run. The following day he handed himself in to police at Edinburgh airport, saying he had achieved what he wanted.

His dossier, which detailed 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, was raised in the House of Commons by the former SNP leader, Alex Salmond. But it was dismissed by the MoD as “factually incorrect or the result of misunderstanding or partial understanding”.

McNeilly, a 25-year-old naval recruit from Belfast, was on patrol with the Trident submarine, HMS Victorious, from January to April this year. He posted a new report online last week defending the accuracy of his allegations.’

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NATO Gets Tough After Russia Increases Nuclear Arsenal

Dude, where’s my Humvee? Iraq losing equipment to Islamic State at staggering rate

Peter Van Buren writes for Reuters:

A view of humvees parked at a courtyard at Camp Liberty in BaghdadIraqi security forces lost 2,300 Humvee armored vehicles when Islamic State overran the northern city of Mosul in June 2014, Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi said on Sunday in an interview with Iraqiya state television. Coupled with previous losses of American weapons, the conclusion is simple: The United States is effectively supplying Islamic State with tools of war the militant group cannot otherwise hope to acquire from its patrons.

In addition to the Humvees, Iraqi forces previously abandoned significant types and numbers of heavy weapons to Islamic State. For example, losses to Islamic State include at least 40 M1A1 main battle tanks, as well as small arms and ammunition, including 74,000 machine guns, and as many as 52 M198 howitzer mobile gun systems.

“We lost a lot of weapons,” Abadi admitted.

To help replenish Iraq’s motor pool, the U.S. State Department last year approved a sale to Iraq of 1,000 Humvees, along with their armor upgrades, machine guns and grenade launchers. The United States previously donated 250 Mine Resistant Armored Personnel carriers (MRAPs) to Iraq, plus unaccountable amounts of material left behind when American forces departed in 2011. The United States is currently in the process of moving to Iraq 175 M1A1 Abrams main battle tanks, 55,000 rounds of main tank-gun ammunition, $600 million in howitzers and trucks, $700 million worth of Hellfire missiles and 2,000 AT-4 rockets.’

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Inside America’s Secretive Biolabs: Hundreds of Accidents and Near Misses Put People at Risk

Alison Young and Nick Penzenstadler report for USA Today:

Vials of bioterror bacteria have gone missing. Lab mice infected with deadly viruses have escaped, and wild rodents have been found making nests with research waste. Cattle infected in a university’s vaccine experiments were repeatedly sent to slaughter and their meat sold for human consumption. Gear meant to protect lab workers from lethal viruses such as Ebola and bird flu has failed, repeatedly.

A USA TODAY Network investigation reveals that hundreds of lab mistakes, safety violations and near-miss incidents have occurred in biological laboratories coast to coast in recent years, putting scientists, their colleagues and sometimes even the public at risk.

Oversight of biological research labs is fragmented, often secretive and largely self-policing, the investigation found. And even when research facilities commit the most egregious safety or security breaches — as more than 100 labs have — federal regulators keep their names secret.’

Of particular concern are mishaps occurring at institutions working with the world’s most dangerous pathogens in biosafety level 3 and 4 labs — the two highest levels of containment that have proliferated since the 9/11 terror attacks in 2001. Yet there is no publicly available list of these labs, and the scope of their research and safety records are largely unknown to most state health departments charged with responding to disease outbreaks. Even the federal government doesn’t know where they all are, the Government Accountability Office has warned for years.’

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Pentagon Accidently Shipped Live Anthrax Sample To Nine States And South Korea

Clinton Foundation Donors Got Weapons Deals From Hillary Clinton’s State Department

David Sirota and Andrew Perez report for International Business Times:

[…] Under Hillary Clinton’s leadership, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments have given money to the Clinton Foundation, according to an IBTimes analysis of State Department and foundation data. That figure — derived from the three full fiscal years of Clinton’s term as Secretary of State (from October 2010 to September 2012) — represented nearly double the value of American arms sales made to the those countries and approved by the State Department during the same period of President George W. Bush’s second term.

The Clinton-led State Department also authorized $151 billion of separate Pentagon-brokered deals for 16 of the countries that donated to the Clinton Foundation, resulting in a 143 percent increase in completed sales to those nations over the same time frame during the Bush administration. These extra sales were part of a broad increase in American military exports that accompanied Obama’s arrival in the White House.

American defense contractors also donated to the Clinton Foundation while Hillary Clinton was secretary of state and in some cases made personal payments to Bill Clinton for speaking engagements. Such firms and their subsidiaries were listed as contractors in $163 billion worth of Pentagon-negotiated deals that were authorized by the Clinton State Department between 2009 and 2012.’

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Is Iraq Body Count linked to the Pentagon? Interview with Nafeez Ahmed

‘Author, journalist and executive director of the Institute for Policy Research & Development, Nafeez Ahmed, tells “Going Underground” host Afshin Rattansi how casualty-counting British NGO, Iraq Body Count might be linked to Pentagon. He explains that Iraqi civilian casualties numbers might be a lot higher than we were previously told.’ (Going Underground)

2015 Memorial Day: Praying for Peace While Waging Permanent War?

Bill Quigley writes for CounterPunch:

Memorial Day is, by federal law, a day of prayer for permanent peace.   But is it possible to honestly pray for peace while our country is far and away number one in the world in waging war, military presence, military spending and the sale of weapons around the world?

Permanent War

Since 1980 the US has engaged in aggressive military action in 14 countries in the Islamic world alone, according to research published in the Washington Post: Iran (1980, 1987-1988), Libya (1981, 1986, 1989, 2011), Lebanon (1983), Kuwait (1991), Iraq (1991-2011, 2014-), Somalia (1992-1993, 2007-), Bosnia (1995), Saudi Arabia (1991, 1996), Afghanistan (1998, 2001-), Sudan (1998), Kosovo (1999), Yemen (2000, 2002-), Pakistan (2004-) and now Syria. In this hemisphere, US military forces invaded Grenada (1983) and Panama (1989), and landed 20,000 military forces in Haiti (1994).

US Global War Machine

The US has 1.3 million people in the military and another million serve in the military reserves. The US has over 700 military bases in 63 countries across the world deploying over 255,000 US military personnel there. The Department of Defense officially manages over 555,000 buildings on 4400 properties inside the US and in over 700 properties across the globe.   The US has over 1500 strategic nuclear warheads, over 13,000 military aircraft, dozens of submarines, many of which carry nuclear weapons, and 88 huge destroyer warships.’

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What we know about the U.S. Air Force space plane’s mystery mission

Leonard David writes for Space.com:

Afspc5_mssnart_smleThe U.S. Air Force is set to launch the fourth flight of its X-37B space plane on May 20, and new details are unfolding about the upcoming mystery mission.

For this latest flight of the X-37B space plane, also known as the Orbital Test Vehicle (OTV), the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office has teamed up with several partners, including NASA, to test experimental space technologies.

“With the demonstrated success of the first three missions, we’re able to shift our focus from initial checkouts of the vehicle to testing of experimental payloads,” Randy Walden, director of the Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office overseeing the flight, said in a statement.

The forthcoming mission will test an experimental propulsion system jointly developed by the Air Force Research Laboratory and Space and Missile Systems Center. In addition, the X-37B craft will carry a NASA advanced materials investigation.’

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Trident whistleblower says nuclear subs are insecure, unsafe and “a disaster waiting to happen”

The Sunday Herald reports:

William McNeilly, who says he was on patrol with HMS Victorious from January to April this year, alleges that the Trident missiles it carries are vulnerable to a terrorist attack that “would kill our people and destroy our land”. Infiltrators have “the perfect opportunity to send nuclear warheads crashing down on the UK”, he claims.

He has written a detailed 18-page report called The Nuclear Secrets, which claims to lift the lid on the alarming state of the UK’s ageing and short-staffed nuclear deterrent. He went absent without leave from the Royal Navy last week, is on the run and expects to be arrested. “This is bigger than me, it’s bigger than all of us,” he says. “We are so close to a nuclear disaster it is shocking, and yet everybody is accepting the risk to the public. If we don’t act now lives could be lost for generations.”

The risk was “extremely high”, he told the Sunday Herald. “My information comes from good sources and I have no reason to lie. If change isn’t made, a nuclear catastrophe almost certainly will happen.”

McNeilly’s report alleges 30 safety and security flaws on Trident submarines, based at Faslane on the Clyde. They include failures in testing whether missiles could be safely launched, burning toilet rolls starting a fire in a missile compartment, and security passes and bags going unchecked.

He also reports alarms being muted because they went off so often, missile safety procedures being ignored and top secret information left unguarded.

“It’s just a matter of time before we’re infiltrated by a psychopath or a terrorist,” he says. “There were some people that I served with on that patrol who showed clear psychopathic tendencies.”

The Royal Navy has launched an investigation into McNeilly’s report, and is working with the civilian police to find him. It describes his criticisms as “subjective and unsubstantiated”, stressing that submarines never go to sea unless they are completely safe.’

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Saudis “to get nuclear weapons”

Toby Harnden and Christina Lamb report for The Sunday Times:

King Salman with his son Prince Mohammad. Saudi Arabia has long been suspected of bankrolling Pakistan’s nuclear programme ‘Saudi Arabia has taken the “strategic decision” to acquire “off-the-shelf” atomic weapons from Pakistan, risking a new arms race in the Middle East, according to senior American officials.

The move by the Gulf kingdom, which has financed much of Islamabad’s nuclear programme over the past three decades, comes amid growing anger among Sunni Arab states over a deal backed by President Barack Obama, which they fear could allow their arch foe, Shi’ite Iran, to develop a nuclear bomb.

The agreement, which is due to be finalised by the end of next month and involves the permanent members of the UN security council and Germany, is designed to roll back part of Tehran’s nuclear programme in return for an easing of UN sanctions.

There are concerns that Saudi Arabia joining the nuclear club might provoke Turkey and Egypt to follow suit.’

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Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA Contractors

Lee Fang reports for The Intercept:

Featured photo - Many of the NSA’s Loudest Defenders Have Financial Ties to NSA ContractorsThe debate over the NSA’s bulk collection of phone records has reached a critical point after a federal appeals court last week ruled the practice illegal, dramatically raising the stakes for pending Congressional legislation that would fully or partially reinstate the program. An army of pundits promptly took to television screens, with many of them brushing off concerns about the surveillance.

The talking heads have been backstopping the NSA’s mass surveillance more or less continuously since it was revealed. They spoke out to support the agency when NSA contractor Edward Snowden released details of its programs in 2013, and they’ve kept up their advocacy ever since — on television news shows, newspaper op-ed pages, online, and at Congressional hearings. But it’s often unclear just how financially cozy these pundits are with the surveillance state they defend, since they’re typically identified with titles that give no clues about their conflicts of interest. Such conflicts have become particularly important, and worth pointing out, now that the debate about NSA surveillance has shifted from simple outrage to politically prominent legislative debates.’

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Patriotism at a Price: US Military Paid NFL Teams to ‘Honor’ Soldiers at Games

Sarah Lazare reports for Common Dreams:

NFL_AMERICAN_FLAG.JPGWhat better way to advertise military culture—and recruit teenagers—than by staging heartfelt salutes to “hometown heroes” at professional football games in front of thousands of fans?

That, apparently, is what Department of Defense officials thought when they shelled out at least $5.4 million of U.S. taxpayer’ money to 14 NFL teams between 2011 and 2014—to pay them to promote the military on and off the field.

The vast majority of this money was disbursed by the National Guard, journalists Christopher Baxter and Jonathan D. Salant of New Jersey Advance Media revealed in an article published Thursday.’

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Saudi Arabia Using US-Supplied Cluster Bombs in Yemen, Says HRW

Jason Ditz reports for Antiwar:

[…] A global ban on cluster munitions was signed in 2008, though neither the United States nor Saudi Arabia was a signatory to the ban. The US continues to export the bombs, which leave unexploded bomblets across a area, often for years, but the Pentagon insists they only sell to countries that promise not to use them on civilians.

Yet America’s own recent history with cluster bombs is checkered, at best, having littered civilian populated areas in Iraq and Afghanistan with such bombs, leaving the brightly colored bomblets to be found by children. The US has similarly shipped the bombs to both Israel and Saudi Arabia, nations which have been racking up major civilian death tolls in recent wars.’

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Austria, backed by 159 nations, calls for ban on nuclear weapons

Louis Charbonneau reports for Reuters:

Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Stephen Smith addresses the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty Review Conference, at United Nations Headquarters, in New York, in a file photo.  REUTERS/Chip EastAustrian Foreign Minister Sebastian Kurz was speaking at the five-year review conference of the 1970 nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT).

Diplomats from the 159 countries supporting the ban, presented ahead of the 70th anniversary of the U.S. atom bombs dropped on Japan, said the initiative was modelled on successful campaigns to ban land mines and other weapons and could take years to move forward.

The initiative has virtually no support among NPT nuclear weapons states and veto-wielding Security Council members – the United States, Britain, France, Russia and China – or the countries of NATO, an alliance that provides a kind of “nuclear umbrella” security guarantee for its members.

But most of the 193 U.N. members back it.’

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Cowardly Firing of Australian State-Funded TV Journalist Highlights the West’s Real Religion

Glenn Greenwald writes for The Intercept:

A TV sports commentator in Australia, Scott McIntyre, was summarily fired on Sunday by his public broadcasting employer, Special Broadcasting Services (SBS), due to a series of tweets he posted about the violence committed historically by the Australian military. McIntyre published his tweets on “Anzac Day,” a national holiday – similar to Memorial Day in the U.S. – which the Australian government hails as “one of Australia’s most important national occasions. It marks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War.”

Rather than dutifully waving the flag and singing mindless paeans to The Troops and The Glories of War, McIntyre took the opportunity on Anzac Day to do what a journalist should do: present uncomfortable facts, question orthodoxies, highlight oft-suppressed views.

Almost instantly, these tweets spawned an intense debate about war, the military and history, with many expressing support for his expressed views and large numbers expressing outrage. In other words, McIntyre committed journalism: triggering discussion and examination of political claims rather than mindless recitation, ritualistic affirmation and compelled acceptance.’

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US used German spooks to snoop on EU defence industry

John Leyden reports for The Register:

The NSA UnchainedGermany’s BND spy agency spied on European politicians and enterprises at the behest of the NSA for over a decade.

Der Spiegel reports (in German) that for years the NSA sent its counterparts at the BND (Bundesnachrichtendienst – Germany’s Federal Intelligence Service) thousands of so-called selectors – IP addresses, emails, and mobile phone numbers – it wanted targeted for online surveillance.

German cyberspies fed this data into their own surveillance systems. The reports generated were evaluated at BND headquarters before intelligence was passed back to the NSA.

In practical terms, it seems that the BND have been tapping the Internet Exchange Point DE-CIX in Frankfurt, since at least 2009.

Results from the bulk tap of this Internet exchange were then passed over, in part at least, to the Americans as part of a collaborative agreement involving intel agencies.

The selectors included referred to European politicians and European aerospace and defence firms, including the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS) and Eurocopter.’

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UK troops recruited to help arms sales

Ben Quinn reports for The Guardian:

British troops have been put to work demonstrating the wares of arms companies ranging from drone manufacturers to cyber-warfare specialists for a range of foreign buyers over the past two years.

Records obtained by the Guardian [pdf] provide an insight into the extent of assistance given by the armed forces to private arms companies. The practice is part of a government drive to boost the armed forces sector.

[…] Britain has been planning to increase the sale of arms to Qatar, identifying the rich Gulf state as a priority market for its weapons.

UK Trade and Investment released the records in response to a freedom of information request, but in many cases the names of the foreign delegation and the UK arms firms involved were redacted.’

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Defence Industry Gets “Fail Grade” for Anti-Corruption

Stella Dawson reports for Reuters:

Two thirds of the world’s major defence companies get a “fail grade” for combating corruption in their business operations, despite improvements in industry practices in the past three years, an anti-corruption group said on Monday.

In its survey of 163 companies, Transparency International UK found that 107 showed limited, or no evidence of ethics and anti-corruption programmes.

However, 33 percent of corporations surveyed worldwide have improved significantly since the Defence Companies Anti-Corruption Index was first published in 2012, rising several notches on the six-point TI UK scale.’

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US Military Spending Still Up 45% Over Pre-9/11 Levels; More Than Next 7 Countries Combined

Dan Froomkin reports for The Intercept:

Despite a decline in military spending since 2010, U.S. defense expenditures are still 45 percent higher than they were before the 9/11 terror attacks put the country on a seemingly permanent war footing.

And despite massive regional buildups spurred by conflict in the Ukraine and the Middle East, the U.S. spends more on its military than the next seven top-spending countries combined, according to new figures compiled by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

That’s nearly three times as much as China, and more than seven times as much as Russia.’

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Landmine production is largely over but lives are still endangered

Amanda Pullinger, chair of The HALO Trust, recently published some “unnoticed facts” about landmines:

  • Landmines still exist in 58 countries and four states, and they have devastating effects. Each and every day, nine people become casualties of landmines and explosive remnants of war.
  • De-mining is an expensive and time-consuming process. In 2012 the cost of mine clearance was $681 million. It requires detailed and painstaking work and accurate surveying. For example, in some locations a deminer may only clear between 10-50 square metres a day, which is about 100-500 feet.
  • De-mining creates jobs for thousands and provides a return to economic freedom. De-mining provides dignified, respected and valued employment for local citizens and has a significant positive financial impact on the mine-affected communities
  • Mine clearance offers a new life to families affected by conflict, and it directly contributes to peace building and a sustainable future. By clearing landmines from schools, water sources, hospitals, housing and farmland, whole generations and communities have the opportunity to rise out of poverty. We can solve this problem.

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Sale of U.S. Arms Fuels the Wars of Arab States

Mark Mazzetti and Helene Cooper report for The New York Times:

As the Middle East descends into proxy wars, sectarian conflicts and battles against terrorist networks, countries in the region that have stockpiled American military hardware are now actually using it and wanting more. The result is a boom for American defense contractors looking for foreign business in an era of shrinking Pentagon budgets — but also the prospect of a dangerous new arms race in a region where the map of alliances has been sharply redrawn.

[…] The United States has long put restrictions on the types of weapons that American defense firms can sell to Arab nations, meant to ensure that Israel keeps a military advantage against its traditional adversaries in the region. But because Israel and the Arab states are now in a de facto alliance against Iran, the Obama administration has been far more willing to allow the sale of advanced weapons in the Persian Gulf, with few public objections from Israel.

[…] Industry analysts and Middle East experts say that the region’s turmoil, and the determination of the wealthy Sunni nations to battle Shiite Iran for regional supremacy, will lead to a surge in new orders for the defense industry’s latest, most high-tech hardware.’

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Bahrain: Democracy Behind Bars

The Kagans: A Family Business of Perpetual War

Robert Parry writes for Consortium News:

Neoconservative pundit Robert Kagan and his wife, Assistant Secretary of State Victoria Nuland, run a remarkable family business: she has sparked a hot war in Ukraine and helped launch Cold War II with Russia – and he steps in to demand that Congress jack up military spending so America can meet these new security threats.

This extraordinary husband-and-wife duo makes quite a one-two punch for the Military-Industrial Complex, an inside-outside team that creates the need for more military spending, applies political pressure to ensure higher appropriations, and watches as thankful weapons manufacturers lavish grants on like-minded hawkish Washington think tanks.

Not only does the broader community of neoconservatives stand to benefit but so do other members of the Kagan clan, including Robert’s brother Frederick at the American Enterprise Institute and his wife Kimberly, who runs her own shop called the Institute for the Study of War.’

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Ex-Blackwater guards handed lengthy prison sentences for 2007 Baghdad massacre

God No, the U.S. Air Force Doesn’t Need Another Curtis LeMay

Matthew Gault writes for Medium:

On March 27, the U.S. senate confirmed Air Force general Robin Rand as the next leader of Global Strike Command. He’s the first four-star general in GSC history to take on the role — and that’s just what the flying branch wants.

Air Force chief of staff Gen. Mark Welsh said he appointed Rand because he hopes that a four star general in charge of America’s nuclear command will give the flyers greater influence over the country’s nuclear policy.

“We lead and execute two-thirds of the nuclear triad, for Christ’s sake,” he told a crowd on April 2. “We should be in the middle of the policy debates on this issue.”

Which is true. America’s nuclear triad consists of its intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarine-launched ballistic missiles and nuclear-armed bombers. GSC operates the ICBMs and the bombers. It makes sense that the Air Force would want more say over how to use those weapons.

But what Welsh said next is troubling — and serves as a reminder why the Air Force doesn’t have a greater say in the nuclear debate.

“I told Robin Rand … go become the next Curtis LeMay,” Welsh said. “Bring this nuclear mission … back to the front edge of Air Force attention every single day.”’

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