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Saturday, August 6, 2011

Who pays politicians to wage WAR

Compiled and edited, re-reporting, brief comment by Carolyn Bennett
Hiroshima to Baghdad to Tripoli and Kabul, Islamabad to Mogadishu

The defense sector “is one of the most powerful sectors in politics,” the Center for Responsive Politics reports. This industry includes defense aerospace, defense electronics and other miscellaneous defense companies. “During the last two decades, the Defense sector has contributed a total of $150.8 million, with 57 percent going to Republican candidates.

“The sector has a formidable federal lobbying presence, having spent $136.5 million in 2009 — down from a high of $150.8 million the previous year. In 2009, more than 1,100 lobbyists represented nearly 400 clients. The amount spent on defense lobbying and the number of lobbyists has steadily increased during the last two decades.

“The sector’s biggest companies include … Lockheed Martin, Boeing and General Dynamics, as well as Northrop Grumman and Raytheon.

“The main issue for the defense sector is securing government defense contracts and earmarks — often quite lucrative — and influencing the defense budget. Sector favorites include House and Senate members who sit on the armed forces and appropriations committees that oversee military and defense spending.

Defense Aerospace: Top Contributors to 
Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups
Donations taking place during the 2011-2012 election cycle, 
released by the Federal Election Commission 
[Source: Center for Response Politics]

2012 Election Cycle Total contributions: $2,066,299
http://www.opensecrets.org/assets/img/legend3.gifSoft $
BAE Systems
United Technologies
EADS North America
Rolls-Royce North America
Orbital Sciences Corp
Goodrich Corp
Ace Clearwater Enterprises
Rockwell Collins Inc

Split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the Center continues, “individuals and political action committees associated with the defense sector contributed nearly $24 million to political candidates and committees during the 2008 campaign cycle.

“The defense sector has leaned Republican in the past, but ultimately its contributions tend to go to whoever is in power. After the 1994 Republican takeover of Congress, the defense sector began to give more than 65 percent of its contributions to the GOP {Republican Party]. However, midway through the 2010 cycle, Democrats received 57 percent.”

Over the course of his career, U.S. Democratic (Missouri) Representative and in 2010 chair of the House Armed Services Committee Ike Skelton “has received nearly $1.4 million from the defense sector including, during the 2008 campaign cycle, $212,000.” 

During his career, U.S. Republican (Alabama) Senator and member of the Senate Appropriations Committee Richard Shelby “has received $1.3 million from the defense sector”; and during the 2008 campaign cycle, he received “nearly half a million dollars” from the defense sector. In early 2010, he “placed holds on dozens of President Barack Obama’s appointments to protest cuts in certain Air Force contracts.”

The United States of America today in 1945 during the Democratic administration of President Harry S. Truman massacred more than 70,000 people and destroyed most of Hiroshima, Japan, by dropping an Atomic bomb on that city.

When the bomb dropped, there were approximately “400,000 people” in Hiroshima, recalls a report today at Al Jazeera English. “Most residents had been mobilized to work in military factories along with Koreans and other forced labor. Many forced laborers survived harsh working conditions only to be killed in the bombing.

“‘People were crawling towards the river, crying out for water to cool their burns but many died on the river banks or drowned. The river was full of bodies.’”

U.S. contemporary theater of WAR
Greece, Turkey, Cyprus; Syria, Lebanon; Iraq, Iran; Palestine, Jordan, Egypt; Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Ethiopia, other North African states and the Horn (Somalia); Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and United Arab Emirates;
Afghanistan and Pakistan


August 6
Death toll the biggest in a single incident for foreign forces since the 2001 start of U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan

Today at least thirty-one U.S. Special Forces and seven Afghan forces died when a helicopter belonging to NATO’s International Security Assistance Force (ISAF) crashed in Afghanistan’s eastern province of Wardak.

August 6
NATO convoy attacked — Afghan officials report Taliban militants attacked a NATO convoy.

In troubled southern Afghanistan, at least seven fuel tankers were set alight. A local official reportedly said the tankers were torched in the town of Shahr-e Safa in Zabul Province overnight. In the incident, one truck driver died.

A speaker for the Taliban claimed the group has carried out the attack, torching 28 NATO fuel trucks. On Thursday, around five tankers carrying fuel for NATO and U.S. forces in Afghanistan were set fire on the outskirts of the Afghan capital, Kabul.

August 5
Demonstrators chant anti-U.S. and anti-government slogans and vow to continue their protest until the perpetrators of an earlier U.S.-led attack are brought to justice.

“The protest rally took place in the town of Jaji Aryub on Thursday after an Afghan civilian was killed and ten others were injured in an exchange of fire between American soldiers and Taliban militants.”

A Press TV correspondent reported, “Hundreds of Afghans staged a rally in the eastern province of Paktia to protest the killing of innocent civilians by U.S. troops. Residents said the incident occurred when a rocket fired by U.S. troops hit a house.”

August 5
Fully aware of committing crime
A U.S. soldier receives  a  “three-year” prison sentence “after pleading guilty to killing an unarmed Afghan civilian”

In the original documents, prosecutors had charged the accused “with premeditated murder, aggravated assault and conspiracy to commit murder in several incidents, including the death of Afghan civilians in Afghanistan’s Kandahar Province.”

Yesterday in a military court, “Specialist Adam Winfield pleaded guilty to one count of involuntary manslaughter of an unarmed Afghan civilian in U.S. custody in May 2010 [AFP].


Pakistan, Karachi
Violence worse in 16 years

The Human Rights Commission of Pakistan (HCRP) told Agence France Presse yesterday that the violence in Pakistan’s financial capital, Karachi, “is the deadliest since 1995.” In the first half of 1995, “more than 900 killings were reported.”

In the past seven months of 2011, according to the HRCP chair, an estimated 800 people have been victims of violent shootings. “Parts of this Arabian Sea port city have become battlegrounds in recent weeks with authorities unable to prevent spiraling violence blamed on activists from political parties representing competing ethnic groups.”

As the Al Khalifa regime continues a brutal crackdown on popular anti-government protests in Bahrain, the United States secretly “renews a military pact.”

The U.S. and Bahrain first signed a 10-year military pact on October 28, 1991, seven months after the Persian Gulf War.  The George W. Bush administration in 2001 extended the contract to 2011. The Obama administration’s secret agreement extends the military pact to 2016, five years beyond its original deadline.

A Washington Post story cited a recent Congressional Research Service report “that the administration of former U.S. President George W. Bush and the Bahraini regime had extended a deal as early as 2002 when Washington designated Bahrain a ‘major non-NATO ally.’

In mid-March, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates deployed their military forces in Bahrain to assist the Manama regime’s brutal crackdown on protests in the tiny Persian Gulf sheikdom.

“Airplanes are coming to Bahrain, bringing soldiers from Pakistan,” Bahrain Center for Human Rights told Al Jazeera in a feature report in late July.

As a government crackdown on pro-democracy protestors intensified in Bahrain in March, advertisements aimed at workers to serve Bahrain’s National Guard started appearing in Pakistani media. Job categories included “former army drill instructors, anti-riot instructors, retired military police, and former army cooks.”

After senior Saudi and Bahraini officials visited Islamabad, Pakistan, Bahrain’s National Guard and riot police were reportedly increased by as much as 50 per cent, an increase due to “at least 2,500 former military workers who had been recruited by Bahrainis and brought to Manama.”

Concern about escalation of a large-scale war
NATO attack looming?

Russia’s envoy to NATO, Dmitry Rogozin, says “NATO is planning a military strike against the Islamic Republic of Iran to overthrow the Iranian government.”

In an interview published yesterday with Russia’s Izvestia daily newspaper, Rogozin said that NATO was pursuing a long-reaching goal of preparing an attack on Iran. He added that the alliance intends to change governments whose views do not coincide with those of the West.
“‘The noose around Iran is tightening. Military planning against Iran is underway and we are certainly concerned about an escalation of a large-scale war in this huge region.’”
Former CIA agent Robert Baer last month said he is almost certain that an attack on Iran “has been scheduled for September ahead of a UN vote on recognizing a Palestinian state.”

Guards and prisoners clash and die

Three police officers and three inmates died yesterday during a prison break in Iraq’s central city of Hilla, the capital of Babil Province.

Inmates later gained control of parts of the prison compound.

IRAQ update August 7

Iraqi Democrats against Occupation director says, “‘The Americans think they can get away with murder … In Iraq, they killed many innocent people — not only by their soldiers in uniform but their mercenaries as well.’

“[Now], American generals are negotiating with the Iraqi government to grant immunity to the growing number of so called ‘trainers’ in Iraq.

“‘These so-called trainers are not trainers as such. You do not seek immunity for your trainers; you seek immunity for your combat troops,’” Sabah Jawad said in an interview today with Press TV’s U.S. Desk.

“The U.S. always insists on immunity for its soldiers not just in Iraq and in the Middle East [but] they insist on their immunity even in Japan and elsewhere.  This is indeed an arrogant and imperialist stand because they believe their soldiers are cut above the rest of the world.” [“Jawad said that U.S. forces have committed various war crimes in Iraq,” August 7, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/usdetail/192847.html]

Civilians under constant threat
Six members of a family died today and 14 suffered wounds when four bombs exploded in an Iraqi neighborhood 50 kilometers south of Baghdad. Among the dead were a woman and two children. [Xinhua, “Bomb explosions kill six in Iraq,” August 7, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192786.html]
Abu Ghraib
“Iraqis have slammed the U.S. for releasing Charles Graner, the former notorious ringleader of the U.S. guards, who was found guilty of abusing detainees at the Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq. [“Iraq slams release of Abu Ghraib torturer,” August 7, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192843.html]


In the worst humanitarian catastrophe in decades, 25 more Somali children in the capital, Mogadishu, have starved to death. [“25 more Somali kids starve to death,” August 7, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192849.html]

Refugees abandoned, left to die

“Hundreds of refugees — most of them migrant workers from other parts of Africa who were stranded in Libya when the conflict broke out — have drowned or died on rickety boats in recent desperate crossings from Libya.”

Italy “has demanded an inquiry into [NATO’s] reported failure to assist a stricken boat on which dozens were said to have died of dehydration.”

Survivors arriving at the Italian island of Lampedusa on Thursday reported “dozens had died of hunger and thirst and were thrown overboard.” Italy is urging NATO to help rescue refugees fleeing Libya by sea.

There is a high price to pay for the United States of America’s character of and insensible callousness in violence. For sixty years and more, some people have profited handsomely from this violence. Others have suffered deeply.

It doesn’t have to be this way. We can do better.

Sources and notes

Defense: Background [CRP] (Steve Spires), data updated June 2010, http://www.opensecrets.org/industries/background.php?cycle=2012&ind=D

Center for Response Politics “Defense Aerospace: Top Contributors to Federal Candidates, Parties, and Outside Groups — donations the 2011-2012 election cycle, released by Federal Election Commission” information
METHODOLOGY: The numbers [above] are based on contributions from PACs [Political Action Committees], soft money donors, and individuals giving $200 or more. (Only those groups giving $5,000 or more are listed here. Soft money applies only to cycles 1992-2002.)

In many cases, the organizations themselves did not donate; rather the money came from the organization’s PAC, its individual members or employees or owners, and those individuals’ immediate families. Organization totals include subsidiaries and affiliates.

All donations took place during the 2011-2012 election cycle and were released by the Federal Election Commission.

Feel free to distribute or cite this material but please credit the Center for Responsive Politics. For permission to reprint for commercial uses, such as textbooks, contact the Center: info@crp.org

Britannica notes “today in history” and Al Jazeera

“The day Hiroshima turned into hell  — Sixty-six years after the atomic bomb was dropped, survivor Keijiro Matsushima tells of a day of death and destruction,” August 6, 1011,  


”31 US forces killed in Afghanistan, August 6, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192592.html

“Afghans stage anti-US demonstration,” August 5, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192440.html

NATO trucks torched in Afghanistan, August 6, 2011,

“U.S. soldier convicted of Afghan murder,” July 6, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192588.html


“800 killed in Pakistan's Karachi this year: rights body,” August 5, 2011, http://news.yahoo.com/800-killed-pakistans-karachi-rights-body-153236444.html

“U.S., Bahrain secretly renew military pact,” August 6, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192564.html

“Pakistani troops aid Bahrain's crackdown — Foundation linked to the Pakistani army has been providing Bahrain thousands of soldiers for its crackdown on protests,” July 30, 2011, 

“‘NATO planning military attack on Iran,’” August 6, 2011,

“Six killed in Iraq prison break,” August 6, 2011, http://www.presstv.ir/detail/192648.html

[RELATED note: “It has been two months since a divided U.S. Supreme Court affirmed a lower court ruling ordering the state of California to reduce its prison population by roughly 33,000.”

California’s “33 prisons currently hold 156,000 prisoners — nearly double the number they were designed to house.” OPINION “Overcrowded jails inimical to justice  — In California, long jail sentences pack prisons, but a Supreme Court ruling and a hunger strike may improve conditions” (Rose Aguilar, host of ‘Your Call,’ a daily call-in radio show on KALW San Francisco and author of Red Highways: A Liberal’s Journey into the Heartland), August 3, 2011,  http://english.aljazeera.net/indepth/opinion/2011/08/20118272235885588.html]


“NATO called on to rescue Libyan boat refugees,” Sydney Morning Herald
August 7, 2011, http://www.smh.com.au/world/nato-called-on-to-rescue-libyan-boat-refugees-20110806-1iglw.html
Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/nato-called-on-to-rescue-libyan-boat-refugees-20110806-1iglw.html#ixzz1UGxSnw00

U.S. Theater of WAR

The Middle or Near East consists of the lands around the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean Sea. These lands extend from Morocco to the Arabian Peninsula and Iran, sometimes beyond.

Some of the first modern Western geographers and historians who tended to divide the Orient into three regions gave the region the name Near East. In their three-region designations, the Near East applied to the region nearest Europe, extending from the Mediterranean Sea to the Persian Gulf; the Middle East, extending from the Persian Gulf to Southeast Asia; and the Far East, encompassing the regions facing the Pacific Ocean.

The change in usage from Near to Middle East began evolving before World War II and extended through the war. The term Middle East was given to the British military command in Egypt.

So defined, the Middle East consisted of the states or territories of —
Turkey, Cyprus
Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Iran
Palestine, Jordan, Egypt
The Sudan, Libya and
Various states of Arabia proper (Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Yemen, Oman, Bahrain, Qatar, and the Trucial States, or Trucial Oman [now United Arab Emirates]
Subsequent events have tended, in loose usage, to enlarge the number of lands included in the definition, among them —  
Three North African countries: Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco “closely connected in sentiment and foreign policy with the Arab states”
 Afghanistan and Pakistan, because of geographic factors, state official and others take into account in connection with affairs of the Middle East.
 Greece occasionally is included in the compass of the Middle East because the Middle Eastern (then Near Eastern) question in its modern form first became apparent when the Greeks in 1821 rebelled to assert their independence from the Ottoman Empire). 

Turkey and Greece, together with the predominantly Arabic-speaking lands around the eastern end of the Mediterranean, were also formerly known as the Levant.

Historically the countries along the eastern Mediterranean shores were called the Levant. Common use of the term is associated with Venetian and other trading ventures and the establishment of commerce with cities such as Tyre and Sidon as a result of the Crusades.

It was applied to the coastlands of Asia Minor and Syria, sometimes extending from Greece to Egypt. It was also used for Anatolia and as a synonym for the Middle or Near East. In the 16th and 17th centuries, the term High Levant referred to the Far East. The name Levant States was given to the French mandate of Syria and Lebanon after World War I, and the term is sometimes still used for those two countries, which became independent in 1946. Levant (from the French lever, ‘to rise,’ as in sunrise, meaning the east.

Use of the term Middle East remains unsettled, and some agencies (notably the United States State Department and certain bodies of the United Nations) still employ the term Near East. Middle East. (2011). Encyclopædia Britannica. Encyclopædia Britannica Deluxe Edition.  Chicago: Encyclopædia Britannica


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