The reported drawdown in American troops from Iraq has been portrayed as a "withdrawal of the U.S." from Iraq, but it is really just a pretend end to the U.S. occupation of Iraq. The removal of combat forces still leaves 50,000 so-called "military trainers" in the country, a huge number of American troops compared to eight years ago, when there weren't any in Iraq at all.
War / Peace
Three former American soldiers who served in Iraq are going public about the realities of the U.S. military occupation in Iraq and Afghanistan, where they claim routine acts of excessive violence upon local citizens stem from the U.S. chain of command. Former Army Specialists Josh Stieber, Ray Corcoles and Ethan McCord say that they thought they were going to Iraq to help the Iraqi people and advance freedom and democracy.
Democrats and Republicans agree that the federal deficit is a serious problem for the stability of American economy. But over the past few weeks, both parties have fought major battles on how to address this problem. The Democrats won the first round when last week, when President Obama signed a six-month extension of emergency unemployment benefits, surmounting Republican objections that the $34 billion measure would add too much to the deficit. The conflict this week is over the extension of the Bush tax cuts, which are set to expire December 31. As expected, Republicans are fighting for extension of the entire package while many Democrats, including President Obama, vowed to keep them for families making less than $250,000 a year. It is estimated that keeping the tax cuts for households that make more than $250 thousand a year will cost about $40 billion a year. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner argued that tax increases on the richest Americans are necessary "to make some progress bringing down our long-term deficits." $34 billion and $40 billion are surely not trivial sums. But if Congress and the Administration are sincere about tackling the deficit, it should confront the biggest expense of federal funds: military spending.
As per usual, when push comes to shove, the right-wing Israeli government, along with the Israel Defense Forces spinmeisters, have gone back to the simple formula: when they do something illegal and barbaric, blame the victim, for the United States will obligingly agree and stand by that narrative. Like always, while the rest of the world protests in condemnation and speaks out against Israel's actions and crimes, the U.S. government stands by complicitly, continuing to shower Israel with over $3 billion per year in military aid into perpetuity.
The total U.S. budget for fiscal 2011 will be around $3 trillion, not counting funds collected for Social Security. The military's share is around $1.6 trillion, meaning about 53 percent of Americans' tax dollars are being spent on the military.
A pro-government television station in the former Soviet Republic of Georgia broadcast a fake, half-hour news report depicting a Russian military invasion of the country, sending fear and panic throughout Georgian citizens. The station called the broadcast a "simulation" of what a new invasion might look like. In August, 2008 Russian tanks, troops and armored vehicles invaded Georgia after Georgian troops attacked pro-Russian separatists in the breakaway republic of South Ossetia.
The private military contractor Blackwater -- which rebranded itself as "Xe" in February, 2009 to distance itself from negative incidents like the September, 2007 shooting in Baghdad's Nisoor Square that killed at least a dozen people -- has created a shell company called "Paravant" to try and keep winning lucrative government military contracts.