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Ed Webb

Obama: Global arms dealer-in-chief | Middle East Eye - 0 views

  • A newly released report reveals Obama is the greatest arms exporter since the Second World War. The dollar value of all major arms deals overseen by the first five years of the Obama White House now exceeds the amount overseen by the Bush White House in its full eight years in office by nearly $30 billion
  • I knew there were record deals with the Saudis, but to outsell the eight years of Bush, to sell more than any president since World War II, was surprising even to me, who follows these things quite closely. The majority, 60 percent, have gone to the Persian Gulf and Middle East, and within that, the Saudis have been the largest recipient of things like US fighter planes, Apache attack helicopters, bombs, guns, almost an entire arsenal
  • The Congressional Research Service found that since October 2010 alone, President Obama has agreed to sell $90.4 billion in arms to the Gulf kingdom.

    “That President Obama would so enthusiastically endorse arming such a brutal authoritarian government is unsurprising, since the United States is by far the leading arms dealer (with 47 percent of the world total) to what an annual State Department report classifies as the world’s “least democratically governed states,” notes Micah Zenko, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations.

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  • In 2008, the United Nations banned the use of cluster munitions - an agreement the US is yet to ratify. Why? Cluster bombs are the number one seller for Textron Systems Corporation – a Wall Street-listed company located in Providence, Rhode Island
  • In February of this year, the Obama administration announced it would allow the sale of US manufactured armed drones to its allies in the Middle East
Ed Webb

Court tosses out cases against Chiquita over Colombia killings | Al Jazeera America - 1 views

  • The judges at Thursday’s trial cited a 2013 U.S. Supreme Court ruling known as Kiobel vs. Royal Dutch Petroleum that imposed limits on attempts by foreigners to use U.S. courts to seek damages against corporations for human rights abuses abroad.
Ed Webb

No More Neocon Faux-Cassandra Posturing: American Defense is not "in Decline"... - 0 views

  • Why is the world’s safest, most powerful country its biggest defense spender, more than triple the next spender (China)?
  • as a percentage of GDP defense has been hovering around 4-5% since the end of the Cold War. Nothing big has changed recently, but for an increase in DoD’s budget after 9/11 that is now being scaled back. The USAF is decades ahead of the Chinese and Russians in stealth and UAVs. We’re weaponizing space. We have ten times the number of nuclear warheads the Chinese have. (The Chinese are actually very responsible on MAD, not wildly overbuilding like we did, but no one ever gives them credit for that.) We have 11 carrier groups; China has zero. If you look at the total US national security budget – because a lot of defense-related spending in the US is done outside of DoD as a gimmick to make the DoD number look smaller than it really should be – it’s actually closer to 8% of GDP: DoD + VA + DHS + the intel community + DoE (which pays for US nukes) = $1T per annum. If Chalmers Johnson is right, we have bases of one kind or another in something like 2/3 of the world’s countries. If anything we look like an imperium, like the Delian League morphing into the Athenian Empire. But one Obama official says ‘leading from behind’ and we don’t charge into Syria – despite charging into Libya and Obama’s first term surge into Afghanistan – and suddenly it’s national security crisis. Good grief, think-tankers. Don’t be so lazy.
  • the blissful unwillingness to learn even the most obvious lessons from the GWoT: that the US – yes, even America – can’t do occupations well
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  • I just can’t read this stuff anymore. It’s so Washington, imperial, macho and childish simultaneously, Americanist, hackneyed, blind to the limits of military power, vain US exceptionalist strutting, and so on. I think there must be a neocon op-ed recycling machine that just manufactures this boilerplate by recombining words like freedom, credibility, American power, strength, willpower, Obama the weakling, and so on
  • I deeply resent this neocon equation of restraint and a little more post-Iraq reticence with isolationism, betraying freedom, selling out Israel and our allies, a return to a pre-9/11 mindset, a return the 30s, Munich, etc. etc. If it makes me an ‘isolationist’ to say we shouldn’t be drone-striking US citizens in obvious violation of the 5th Amendment due process requirements, then I guess I am. If that’s the attitude, then we can never cut defense, ever, and Asians, Muslims and so many others are right – we are an empire. There must alternatives to this; there must be limits and exits. Otherwise we are Rome.
  • We’re intoxicated on our power, bewitched by the awesomeness of our military might. That’s why US military-themed action movies like the Transformers or Battleship, and games like Call of Duty, are so popular. That’s why Fox invokes ‘the troops’ endlessly. That’s why USAF airshows are so popular. That’s why we keep thinking we can fix the Middle East when we can’t
  • high on analogies peddled by right-wing historians like Paul Johnson and Niall Ferguson that we are the new Rome
  • this, then, is why allies free-ride on us. We’d rather infantilize them and complain that they don’t pay, then actually cede power if they had real independent capabilities. So is it surprising that they free-ride?
  • I believe in American power; so do you probably. I am glad the US won the titanic ideological struggles of the 20th century; I don’t want China to dominate Asia; I am as happy as anyone that al Qaeda is struggling, and so on. But American power ≠ American militarism
Ed Webb

Obama to World: Bad News. The American Empire Is Dead. | The Cable - 0 views

  • "The United States has a hard-earned humility when it comes to our ability to determine events inside other countries," he said in his address before the 193-member General Assembly. "The notion of American empire may be useful propaganda, but it isn't borne out by America's current policy or public opinion."
  • The danger for the world is that the United States, after a decade of war -- rightly concerned about issues back home, aware of the hostility that our engagement in the region has engendered throughout the Muslim world -- may disengage, creating a vacuum of leadership that no other nation is ready to fill
  • In addressing the conflict in Syria, Obama said U.S. aims were largely humanitarian.

    "There's no 'great game' to be won, nor does America have any interest in Syria beyond the well-being of its people, the stability of its neighbors, the elimination of chemical weapons, and ensuring it does not become a safe haven for terrorists,"

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  • a rather modest account of American "core interests" in the Middle East and North Africa: countering military aggression against U.S. partners in the region, protecting global energy reserves, and confronting the dual threats of terrorism and nuclear proliferation
  • The United States of America is prepared to use all elements of our power, including military force, to secure these core interests in the region," he said. "But I also believe that we can rarely achieve these objectives through unilateral American action -- particularly with military action. Iraq shows us that democracy cannot be imposed by force. Rather, these objectives are best achieved when we partner with the international community and with the countries and people of the region."
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