The Successes of the Global War on Terror
One would think that the so-called “Global War on Terror”, which has been given fresh impetus by the Paris attacks, must be going swimmingly. What else could explain the great enthusiasm with which it is pursued? It may be recalled that it started in earnest after the WTC attack – also a declaration of war, as it was put at the time.
As is often the case when Islamist fundamentalists strike, the actual attackers immolated themselves on occasion of the attack itself, making it impossible to exact retribution. Except by proxy, that is. This was playing right into the hands of those who had planned the attacks. It seems to us that they have ultimately succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. Not to put too fine a point to it, our wise political leaders have evidently been outfoxed by a bunch of turbaned cave dwellers and goat buggerers in the Hindu Kush.
Steve Bell on the reaction to the Paris attacks.
To wit, between 2013 and 2014, the global death toll from terrorist attacks has increased by yet another 80%, setting a new sad record. So 15 years of bombing places far and wide to smithereens, engaging in extremely costly “nation building” exercises, droning assorted terrorist groups so thoroughly that selected Al Qaeda leaders can by now boast of having been killed up to 17 times (only to miraculously reappear again), have produced this by way of bottom line results:
This is eerily reminiscent of the US government’s “War on Poverty”, which stopped the decline in poverty dead in its tracks the moment it began, or the even worse effort known as the “War on Drugs”, which has done nothing to decrease the drug epidemic, but has given birth to the largest and most brutal criminal cartels the world has ever seen. Can people really be that stupid? Unfortunately the answer is yes, they can. This is only half of the answer though.
Death by terrorism in 2014. Not a single Western country even makes the list (and even now, France would not make it). The biggest number of victims can be found in places like Iraq and Nigeria. Boko Haram has killed even more people than ISIS in 2014 (the deaths in Iraq are not exclusively attributable to IS) – click to enlarge.
The Greatest Racket of All Time
The other half of the answer has been already been supplied decades ago by the legendary Smedley Butler: War is a racket. However, most people are blissfully unaware of how big a racket it actually is. It is in fact the greatest scam ever – even the more recent “climate change” scam is comfortably put in the shade by it.
Why are all Republican presidential candidates (apart from two exceptions) and Democratic front-runner Billary alike loudly screeching for more war, in spite of the sobering evidence? When confronted with such seemingly intractable questions, it is usually a good idea to follow the money. Should the mafia be aware of the associated statistics, it is presumably green with envy. Readers should definitely take the time to read Tom Engelhardt’s recent article “It’s a $cam” in its entirety. Below we are presenting just a handful of morsels from the first few paragraphs:
“Let’s begin with the $12 billion in shrink-wrapped $100 bills, Iraqi oil money held in the U.S. The Bush administration began flying it into Baghdad on C-130s soon after U.S. troops entered that city in April 2003. Essentially dumped into the void that had once been the Iraqi state, at least $1.2 to $1.6 billion of it was stolen and ended up years later in a mysterious bunker in Lebanon. And that’s just what happened as the starting gun went off.
It’s never ended. In 2011, the final report of the congressionally mandated Commission on Wartime Contractingthat somewhere between $31 billion and $60 billion taxpayer dollars had been lost to fraud and waste in the American “reconstruction” of Iraq and Afghanistan.
In Iraq, for instance, there was that $75 million police academy, initially hailed “as crucial to U.S. efforts to prepare Iraqis to take control of the country’s security.” It was, however, so poorly constructed that it proved a health hazard. In 2006, “feces and urine rained from the ceilings in [its] student barracks” and that was only the beginning of its problems. When the bad press started, Parsons Corporation, the private contractor that built it, agreed to fix it for nothing more than the princely sum already paid.
Typically enough, the Khan Bani Saad Correctional Facility, a $40 million prison Parsons also contracted to build, was never even finished.
And why stick to buildings, when there were those Iraqi roads to nowhere paid for by American dollars? At least one of them did at least prove useful to insurgent groups moving their guerrillas around (like the $37 million bridge the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers built between Afghanistan and Tajikistan that helped facilitate the region’s booming drug trade in opium and heroin).
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) hired an American nonprofit, International Relief and Development (IRD), to oversee an ambitious road-building program meant to gain the support of rural villagers. Almost $300 million later, it could point to “less than 100 miles of gravel road completed.” Each mile of road had, by then, cost U.S. taxpayers $2.8 million, instead of the expected $290,000, while a quarter of the road-building funds reportedly went directly to IRD for administrative and staff costs. Needless to say, as the road program failed, USAID hired IRD to oversee other non-transportation projects.”
Snapshot taken at a meeting of death merchant cronies.
The article continues in this vein and believe it or not, the above was just the harmless stuff. It becomes even more absurd as one reads on. Not only do the numbers become ever more staggering, the failures become concomitantly greater and more bizarre (such as the $43 million compressed natural gas station in Afghanistan, similar to one built in neighboring Pakistan for $300,000, located in an area bereft of infrastructure capable of delivering natural gas; or the $8.4 billion pumped into an Afghan “drug eradication program”, which was followed by a hitherto unbroken string of record opium harvests).
That is however not all. Even more astounding is the fact that most of the individuals who demonstrably bear personal responsibility for these cases of fraudulent theft of taxpayer funds have not only not been sanctioned, but have in fact been rewarded and promoted. As Engelhardt puts is:
“In short, there turns out to be much good fortune in the disaster business, a fact which gives the whole process the look of a classic swindle in which the patsies lose their shirts but the scam artists make out like bandits.”
We have long had a cynical view of government and its endless follies and outrages. There is little that can surprise us anymore. We must confess though that the sheer size and audacity of this racket still manages to impress us.
The war on terror is the best racket yet – it is a gift that will likely keep on giving for a very long time. It possesses a certain fateful inevitability: Western governments go about poking assorted hornet’s nests, until the hornets come swarming out to sting us, providing fresh reasons to expand the war.
This is not meant to imply that one shouldn’t defend oneself against terrorism, but it might be a good idea to reevaluate the strategy (as Justin Raimondo noted, at this juncture, simply quarantining IS may be worth considering). Doing more of what clearly hasn’t worked so far is certainly likely to keep the above mentioned racket going, but based on the evidence it isn’t going to achieve much else.
Miscalculations Coming Home to Roost
The conflict in Syria specifically has been characterized by miscalculations galore. It seems everybody is finally realizing that IS may be more of a threat than was hitherto assumed. As a number of governments in the region that are allied with the West have found out, they are in a situation akin to that the sorcerer’s apprentice found himself in. The spirits they have summoned are now ignoring their commands – and they can no longer get rid of them.
Arab potentates aren’t the only ones in the region beginning to wonder what they have cultivated next door in their eagerness to see Syrian tinpot despot Assad toppled. Even the Grand Poobah of Turkey has recently begun to sound a bit worried.
Lettuce water this tender green shoot a bit….ouch!
Cartoon via tribune.gr
As an aside to all this, Abdel Hamid Abaaoud (born in Belgium, natch), the suspected mastermind of the Paris attacks, seems blessed with an extraordinary amount of luck. He keeps getting caught, but manages to escape every time. He enjoys freedom of movement all over the show, in spite of having starred in truly gruesome IS videos, meaning he’s not exactly Mr. Anonymous. Some people are beginning to wonder how this is possible, since Allah seems highly unlikely to have anything to do with it, contrary to Abaaoud’s claims. It smells of state support actually.
Helloooo dogg…doggie? My, how big you are! And what big teeth you have!
Addendum: Deep State Piping Up, Resurgent Putin
Meanwhile, Deep State representatives are once again sensing an opening. They have already reiterated their nonsensical, nay, downright dangerous demand to do away with encryption on a “just trust us” basis (see the assessment of cyber-security specialist Brian Krebs here). The idea is totally hare-brained, i.e., par for the course for government bureaucrats.
And wouldn’t you know, it’s all Edward Snowden’s fault, for having provided proof of the unconstitutional misdeeds of certain spook agencies. Presumably he has magically caused the French authorities to ignore warnings about the terrorists and the planned attacks they received from at least three different foreign intelligence services by inundating them with his traitor-rays from Moscow.
Finally, in an exceedingly amusing development, Vladimir Putin appears to have morphed overnight from pariah and enemy du jour to the “go to man”/ “hottest ticket in town” on fighting IS (or the “problem solver who cannot be ignored”, as the FT averred). Not that he is doing anything different – he is also poking the hornet’s nest and getting stung in return. However, everybody knows he is different in at least one respect.
As we remarked to a friend recently, whatever one thinks of Putin, it is clear that he is an implacable enemy of Islamist radicals. The Chechen war stands as a monument to his Machiavellian ruthlessness in dealing with such people. So-called collateral damage definitely wasn’t on his mind much. In order to pacify the place, he simply ordered his military to raze the capital Grozny. Once Grozny was reduced to sufficiently small pieces of rubble, the army combed the surrounding landscape and shot everything that moved funny. Then a sort of local mafia boss was installed as the new governor, to ensure the place remained pacified.
Grozny after Putin makeover.
Photo via hubpages.com
We suspect that the Middle East is a different kettle of fish though. Restoring something akin to the decades of pan-Arab nationalist oppression seems a highly dubious proposition. Too much has happened, and the place is packed with armed groups that will continue to be at each other’s throats no matter what.
Putin is merely acting in line with old KGB traditions though. Here is an excerpt from a 20 year old newspaper report on how the KGB treated Islamist kidnappers aligned with Hezbollah who had taken Soviet diplomats hostage in Lebanon and had made the mistake of killing one of them:
“The incident began when four Soviet diplomats were kidnapped last September by Muslim extremists who demanded that Moscow pressure the Syrian government to stop pro-Syrian militiamen from shelling rival Muslim positions in the northern Lebanese city of Tripoli. The militiamen, the Jerusalem paper said, did not cease their attacks, and the body of one of the Soviet diplomats, Arkady Katkov, was found a few days later in a field in Beirut.
The KGB then apparently kidnapped and killed a relative of an unnamed leader of the Shi’ite Hezbollah (Party of God) group, a radical, pro-Iranian group that has been suspected of various terrorist activities against Western targets in Lebanon.
Parts of the man’s body, the paper said, were then sent to the Hezbollah leader with a warning that he would lose other relatives in a similar fashion if the three remaining Soviet diplomats were not immediately released. They were quickly freed.
The newspaper quoted “observers in Jerusalem” as saying: “This is the way the Soviets operate. They do things – they don’t talk. And this is the language Hezbollah understands.”
One could probably call that an exchange of messages of increasing intensity.
G 20 meeting – Putin the rediscovered “problem solver”. As an old KGB hand, he can at least be relied on to be utterly ruthless when combating Islamic extremists.
Photo credit: FOCUS Online/Wochit
Of course there remain differences over Assad’s fate, but they may be smaller than appears on the surface. Perhaps Syria will end up partitioned at some point, with Assad’s Alawite clan controlling the part that contains Russia’s Mediterranean port.
It seems it is high time for a strategic rethink in the GWoT, but powerful forces are arrayed against it. Apart from the fact that a truly huge racket is at stake, the situation is also reminiscent of the proverbial guy with the hammer – everything looks like a nail to him. So we should reasonably expect more of the same, only in even grander style (as the so-called “surge” has shown, any successes tend not only to be temporary, but have a habit to soon give way to even greater disasters).
At least we can all be comforted by recent news that there is no reason to worry about the euro zone. As Mish relates, Keynesian economist Nouriel Roubini has rediscovered the broken window fallacy by arguing that the Paris attacks will “help the euro zone economy”. What is it with these geniuses? Paul Krugman has made similar arguments after the WTC attack and the Katrina hurricane. Obviously, it would be best if we just nuked all our cities. We’d have growth out the wazoo!
However, this is perhaps less surprising than it should be. No-one can accuse Keynesians (regardless which prefixes adorn them by way of sect differentiation, i.e., New, neo-, post-,…) of being founts of economic literacy. After all, their master thought aimless ditch digging and pyramid building were viable “economic policies”.
Rumor has it that Mr. Abaaoud was actually killed in Paris last night, when police raided an apartment in the St. Denis district in which a second terror commando was hiding out. However, it is not yet certain whether Abaaoud was actually among the killed.
Charts by Institute for Economics and Peace / Guardian
You may have noticed that our so-called “semiannual” funding drive, which started sometime in the summer if memory serves, has seamlessly segued into the winter. In fact, the year is almost over! We assure you this is not merely evidence of our chutzpa; rather, it is indicative of the fact that ad income still needs to be supplemented in order to support upkeep of the site. Naturally, the traditional benefits that can be spontaneously triggered by donations to this site remain operative regardless of the season - ranging from a boost to general well-being/happiness (inter alia featuring improved sleep & appetite), children including you in their songs, up to the likely allotment of privileges in the afterlife, etc., etc., but the Christmas season is probably an especially propitious time to cross our palms with silver. A special thank you to all readers who have already chipped in, your generosity is greatly appreciated. Regardless of that, we are honored by everybody's readership and hope we have managed to add a little value to your life.
Bitcoin address: 1DRkVzUmkGaz9xAP81us86zzxh5VMEhNke
One Response to “The Greatest Racket of All Time”
Most read in the last 20 days:
- Modi’s Great Leap Forward
India’s Currency Ban – Part VIII India’s Prime Minister, Narendra Modi, announced on 8th November 2016 that Rs 500 (~$7.50) and Rs 1,000 (~$15) banknotes would no longer be legal tender. Linked are Part-I, Part-II, Part-III, Part-IV, Part-V, Part-VI and Part-VII, which provide updates on the demonetization saga and how Modi is acting as a catalyst to hasten the rapid degradation of India and what remains of its institutions. India’s Pride and Joy Indians are...
- Global Recession and Other Visions for 2017
Conjuring Up Visions Today’s a day for considering new hopes, new dreams, and new hallucinations. The New Year is here, after all. Now is the time to turn over a new leaf and start afresh. Naturally, 2017 will be the year you get exactly what’s coming to you. Both good and bad. But what else will happen? Image of a recently discarded vision... Image by Michael Del Mundo Here we begin by closing our eyes and slowing our breath. We let our mind...
- US Financial Markets – Alarm Bells are Ringing
A Shift in Expectations When discussing the outlook for so-called “risk assets”, i.e., mainly stocks and corporate bonds (particularly low-grade bonds) and their counterparts on the “safe haven” end of the spectrum (such as gold and government bonds with strong ratings), one has to consider different time frames and the indicators applicable to these time frames. Since Donald Trump's election victory, there have been sizable moves in stocks, gold and treasury bonds, as the election...
- The Great El Monte Public Pension Swindle
Nowhere City California There are places in Southern California where, although the sun always shines, they haven’t seen a ray of light for over 50-years. There’s a no man’s land of urban blight along Interstate 10, from East Los Angeles through the San Gabriel Valley, where cities you’ve never heard of and would never go to, are jumbled together like shipping containers on Terminal Island. El Monte, California, is one of those places. Advice dispensed on Interstate...
- A Trade Deal Trump Cannot Improve
Worst in Class BALTIMORE – People can believe whatever they want. But sooner or later, real life intervenes. We just like to see the looks on their faces when it does. By that measure, 2017 may be our best year ever. Rarely have so many people believed so many impossible things. Alice laughed. "There's no use trying," she said: "one can't believe impossible things." "I daresay you haven't had much practice," said the Queen. "When I was your age, I always did it for...
- Pope Francis Now International Monetary Guru
Neo-Marxist Pope Francis Argues for Global Central Bank As the new year dawns, it seems the current occupant of St. Peter’s Chair will take on a new function which is outside the purview of the office that the Divine Founder of his institution had clearly mandated. Neo-Papist transmogrification. We highly recommend the economic thought of one of Francis' storied predecessors, John Paul II, which we have written about on previous occasions. In “A Tale of Two Popes” and...
- Where’s the Outrage?
Blind to Crony Socialism Whenever a failed CEO is fired with a cushy payoff, the outrage is swift and voluminous. The liberal press usually misrepresents this as a hypocritical “jobs for the boys” program within the capitalist class. In reality, the payoffs are almost always contractual obligations, often for deferred compensation, that the companies vigorously try to avoid. Believe me. I’ve been on both sides of this kind of dispute (except, of course, for the “failed”...
- Trump’s Trade Catastrophe?
“Trade Cheaters” It is worse than “voodoo economics,” says former Treasury Secretary Larry Summers. It is the “economic equivalent of creationism.” Wait a minute - Larry Summers is wrong about almost everything. Could he be right about this? Larry Summers, the man who is usually wrong about almost everything. As we have always argued, the economy is much safer when he sleeps, so his tendency to fall asleep on all sorts of occasions should definitely be welcomed....
- Money Creation and the Boom-Bust Cycle
A Difference of Opinions In his various writings, Murray Rothbard argued that in a free market economy that operates on a gold standard, the creation of credit that is not fully backed up by gold (fractional-reserve banking) sets in motion the menace of the boom-bust cycle. In his The Case for 100 Percent Gold Dollar Rothbard wrote: I therefore advocate as the soundest monetary system and the only one fully compatible with the free market and with the absence of force or fraud...
- Trump’s Plan to Close the Trade Deficit with China
Rags to Riches Jack Ma is an amiable fellow. Back in 1994, while visiting the United States he decided to give that newfangled internet thing a whirl. At a moment of peak inspiration, he executed his first search engine request by typing in the word beer. Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba, China's largest e-commerce firm. Once he was a school teacher, but it turned out that he had enormous entrepreneurial talent and that the world of wheelers, dealers, movers and...
- Side Notes, January 14 - Red Flags Over Goldman Sachs
Red Flags Over Goldman Sachs Just to prove that I am an even-handed insulter, here is a rant about my former employer, Goldman Sachs. The scandal at 1MDB, the Malaysian sovereign wealth fund from which it appears that billions were stolen by politicians all the way up to the Prime Minister, continues to unfold. The main players in the 1MDB scandal. Irony alert: apparently money siphoned off from 1MDB was used to inter alia finance Martin Scorcese's movie “The Wolf of...
- Silver’s Got Fundamentals - Precious Metals Supply-Demand Report
Supply-Demand Fundamentals Improve Noticeably Last week was another short week, due to the New Year holiday. We look forward to getting back to our regularly scheduled market action. Photo via thedailycoin.org The prices of both metals moved up again this week. Something very noticeable is occurring in the supply and demand fundamentals. We will give an update on that, but first, here’s the graph of the metals’ prices. Prices of gold and silver...