A look at the funding for foreign militaries that might become law as part of the 2015 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that passed the House of Representatives in May. Included is a look at the US funding for Israel’s military, the funding for the “drug war” in Columbia, the “new normal” in Africa, the continuation of our wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, and the brewing war with Russia.
Congress has passed a National Defense Authorization Act for 53 straight years.
Money for Israel
After the holocaust, Jewish survivors who had just been put through Hell on Earth needed a place to go. In 1948, the United Nations decided to give them a country. That’s what Israel is- a country created after World War II for the Jewish people. Now, the fair thing to do would have been to give them some of Germany’s land. After all, Germany was responsible for the Holocaust. But instead, because of their religion, the men in charge gave the Jewish people their Holy land around Jerusalem.
There was one huge problem with this course of action: The land they wanted for Israel already had people living there, the Palestinians.
In 1948, the land around Jerusalem that had been a British colony was split and Isreal was officially created. In the process, Palestinians were kicked out of their homes. The people who were kicked out – most of them Arab – were pissed about it. They’re still pissed, not only about that original injustice but also because of the continued land grabs that have happened ever since.
Over the years, the map of Israel has been redrawn, each time more land going to the Jewish people and less land remaining for the Palestinians. The Palestinians have been pushed into two bubbles – One is a large chuck in the Eastern part of Israel, which borders the Dead Sea and Jordan called the West Bank. The other chunk is a teeny tiny strip of land in the south part of Israel called Gaza. Gaza is surrounded by Israel on two sides, the sea on one side, and Egypt on the other. Inside that little strip are 1.8 million people, 70% of them refugees from the land that now makes up Israel.
In 2005, the Palestinians scored a victory in the smaller bubble known as Gaza. Israeli condo builders had to abandon the home’s they built on Palestinian land – described on the TV as “settlements” – and the Israeli military withdrew their troops from the tiny Gaza strip. However, Israel would still control the airspace over Gaza and the sea off Gaza’s shore, meaning Gaza is still surrounded and controlled by Israel on three of it’s borders; Egypt controls the other. In 2007, the Palestinians elected a political group called Hamas to run their government. Hamas is openly anti-Israel – they say so right in their charter – and the Palestinians would be punished by Israel for their electoral decision. Since 2007, Israel has enacted a blockade, allowing very few products into or out of Gaza.
Because of the Israeli blockade, Gaza residents can’t export their products, which means they have few opportunities to make money. Israel has also limited what products can come in: They’ve limited food, medicine, access to doctors, drinking water, energy, etc.
In addition to blocking products, the people themselves are not allowed to leave. Gaza is often compared to an open air prison; the residents stuck there and their every move monitored by the Israeli government.
The Ralph Nader Hour: The situation in Gaza
During this latest Israeli-Gaza war, as of this recording, 1,915 Palestinians have been killed with the UN estimating that over 85% of them are civilians. With their intricate knowledge of the layout and personal details of all the Gazan residents, there’s no way that is an accident. The proof that stands out in my head is the UN school – the United Nations was housing Gaza refugees in a school and told Israel the location 17 times. Israel bombed it anyway.
Hamas – the political party currently running Gaza- is also behaving immorally. Hamas has been firing rockets into Israel and has said they won’t stop until the economic blockade is lifted.. They’ve put up their best fight, launching thousands of rockets but have only managed to kill three Israeli civilians along with 64 Israeli soldiers.
The law of the United States is that it is our responsibility to make sure that Israel has a “Qualitative Military Edge” over other countries, which means we need to make sure Israel can defeat any military “through the use of superior military means…” As of April 2014, the United States has given Israel $121 billion dollars, almost all of that going towards the military. Money from the United States makes up a quarter of Israel’s military funding.
This is sold to the American public by saying that this spending protects Israel – which it certainly does- and on our end, it creates American jobs. But due to a deal made by the Bush administration, Israel is allowed to spend 26.3% of the money we give them on weapons Israel manufactures itself, meaning that none of that money is coming back into the United States. Israel is the only country in the world allowed to do this with our cash.
Iron Dome is a missile defense system manufactured by an Israeli weapons manufacturer – Rafael Advanced Defense Systems – paid for with that 26.3% of the money that we give Israel which they’re allowed to use to pay Israeli weapons companies. We’ve paid over $704 million for Iron Dome; not one penny of that came back into the United States.
Even worse, after we give Israel our money, they can – and do – park that cash in interest bearing accounts with the US Federal Reserve, so not only are we giving them cash, we are paying them interest on our own money.
Raytheon is also going to benefit from David’s Sling, another missile defense system which is manufactured by the same Israeli weapons company that makes Iron Dome. We also pay for the Arrow, Arrow II, and Arrow III, which are missile defense systems that we’ve paid over $2.3 billion and counting for. These systems are manufactured in part by Boeing and another Israeli weapons manufacture, Israel Aerospace Industries.
On top of cash and missile defense systems, Isreal is also in on the excess defense article game. Israel is authorized to have $1.2 billion of United States’s weapons stockpiled to use and call their own.
For 2015, the President requested another $3.1 billion plus an additional half billion for missile defense. This is ~55% of the money we give away to foreign militaries.
In addition, Section 1258 says “(c) It is the sense of Congress that air refueling tankers and advanced bunker buster munitions should immediately be transferred to Israel…”
Bunker Buster Bomb
We have a legitimate way to get out of funding Israel’s military. The Arms Export Control Act says that the United States may stop military aid to countries which use it for purposes other than “legitimate self-defense”.
Congress did not do that. Before leaving for their August vacation, Congress quickly passed an additional $250 million for Iron Dome. It was so uncontroversial in the the Senate passed it without a recorded vote and the House passed it 395-8. The extra money law was signed by the President on August 4 and the money was on it’s way.
Another thing the 2015 NDAA is probably going to do is extend the latest version of Plan Columbia for it’s 10th year. Plan Columbia is a program for that allows the Department of Defense to partner with Colombia’s government to fight three groups: The Revolutionary Armed Forces of Columbia (FARC), the National Liberation Army (ELN), and the United Self-Defense Forces of Columbia (AUC).
Plan Columbia started in 1999 and it effectively involved the US providing Columbia’s government with a military in return for new laws, although that’s not what the Columbians thought the deal was at the time. The Columbian president in the 1990’s had asked for US money for a national reconstruction plan. He got a military instead.
Since Plan Columbia was originally launched in 1999, it has taken $1.5 billion a year from our pockets and sent it to Columbia for the Columbian military’s weapons, training, and infrastructure. 20% of the $1.5 billion we give to Columbia also goes towards planes that kill plants by spraying Monsanto Round-Up Ready poison on Columbian farms. The official story is that we’re killing coca plants to stop the drug trade. Columbia’s cocaine production has gone down but the poison is also working, on farms growing food and animals, who are also being sprayed too with Monsanto’s RoundUp Ready plant killer.
Seven years after we started providing war machines and poison to Columbia, the United States and Columbia signed the Columbia Free Trade Agreement. It was negotiated and signed by the Bush Administration in 2006 and it went into effect on May 15, 2012. It expands profits of the multi-national corporations by eliminating taxes the companies have to pay in order to get their products into Columbia. Columbia can no longer tax 80% of the products that come from multi-nationals; ten years from now, they won’t be able to tax any of them.
One of the industries that wanted this deal the most was the agriculture industry. Before the trade deal, Columbia protected their agriculture industry. You could bring in food products from other countries, but it was taxed heavily, sometimes over 100% for products including corn, wheat, rice, and soybeans. You know who profits from those exact crops? A little corporation called Monsanto.
So, here you have a Monsanto produced poison being dropped on farms all over Columbia, literally killing Columbia’s domestic agriculture industry. Then, a deal is negotiated that allows Monsanto crops to be brought in tax-free to be sold to Columbians who can no longer grow their own food. If the Columbians still want to grow their own food, they’ll have to buy the genetically modified kind from Monsanto that can withstand the RoundUp Ready poison that rains down from the planes in the sky.
If your government were working for corporations and didn’t actually give a crap about drugs, this would be brilliant and effective plan to ensure profits in Columbia. And in Columbia, it’s working. In January 2013, after the trade agreement went into effect, the Associated Press reported “Agricultural products giant Monsanto reported Tuesday that its profit nearly tripped in the first fiscal quarter as sales of its biotech corn seeds expanded in Latin America.”
The trade agreement doesn’t just help Monsanto. Thanks to the trade agreement, multi-nationals are now allowed to own 100% of a Columbian subsidiary in the construction, telecommunications, and energy sectors.
The product we import the most of from Columbia – by far- is oil and gas. Oil and gas account for 61% of the stuff we get from Columbia followed by metals and coal. The stuff we export the most to Columbia are oil and coal products, accounting for 33% of our total exports to that country. Chemicals and agriculture are #2 and #3.
In July, the Financial Times reported that Anadardo, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil, and Repsol are trying to get licenses for offshore oil leases in Columibian waters. International oil companies also want to get their hands on Columibia’s significant deposits of shale oil and gas, tar sands, and coal.
There were three targets of the Plan Columbia program specifically listed in the law, and they are telling. FARC is the biggest paramilitary group in Columbia, a large, violent pain in the government’s ass and big time dealers in the drug trade. But the other two groups listed have been attacking oil infrastructure, trying to make life difficult for the foreign companies that are taking Columbia’s natural resources and leaving Columbians out of the proceeds. There’s an entire town devoted to the oil industry – Barrancacabermeja – and the Columbian paramilitaries that fight there are the ELN and AUC, the other two groups that are specifically named as targets in the Plan Columbia program likely being extended by the NDAA.
The updated version of Plan Columbia, which is being extended, was created in 2005 by the Bush administration. It gives Columbia’s military 800 soldiers and 600 private contractors.
Section 1261 orders a report on the “New Normal” in Africa and expresses Sense of Congress that the US should achieve the “basing” and access agreements needed to support our forces. In addition, it requires an assessment from the Department of Defense on how the US could “employ permanently assigned military forces” to support the mission of the US Africa Command. This report can be classified.
Camp Lemonnier is in Djibouti; it’s the only US military base we’ve actuality admitted to having. It’s the main operational hub on the African continent and was described by the Washington Post in 2012 as “the busiest Predator drone base outside the Afghan war zone.”
The US Africa Command, known as AFRICOM, and The East Africa Response Force (EARF) operate from Camp Lemonnier, in Djibouti. The captain of the East Africa Response Force told Stars and Stripes, a military publication, “We’re basically the firemen for AFRICOM (U.S. Africa Command). If something arises and they need troops somewhere, we can be there just like that.”
While the task force remains on call to fight anywhere AFRICOM needs them, the rest of the troops guard the bases and train militaries that have partnered with us. In total, we now have at least 5,000 troops operating as part of AFRICOM on the continent of Africa. In 2013, AFRICOM conducted 546 missions, up from 172 during it’s first year, 2008. Missions doing what? I don’t know.
Just like in Columbia, we are providing militaries for other countries, apparently all over Africa. Here’s a quote from Vice Adm. Alexander Krongard, deputy commander of the task force based out of Djibouti: “I think the heart of our mission is trying to create militaries that are capable on their own of bringing stability, so you can have peace and security in this region,”
One of the biggest propaganda tools being used to justify this military buildup is Benghazi. The reason is that “preventing another Benghazi” has been cited repeatedly to justify sending troops, money, and military equipment to countries all over Africa.
The 2008 outrage over Joseph Kony was the excuse to funnel at least $550 million to the Ugandan government – much of it going to their military. Joseph Kony has been around for 30 years but we only got involved after oil was discovered in Uganda in 2006.
The outrage over the girls kidnapped by Boko Haram is being used to justify the military buildup in Nigeria, a country we get a lot of oil from. In return for access to their oil, we give the corrupt Nigerian government – which has hundreds of thousands of people locked up and dying in military detention camps – we give them hundreds of thousands of dollars every year. After the kidnapping, more US troops were sent to Nigeria’s next door neighbor Chad to expand the use of spying with Predator drones. The Nigerian government was also forced to accept “international assistance” that it didn’t want. That assistance included welcoming special forces from the US, Canada, UK, France, and Israel. The “assistance” included surveillance drones, intelligence operations, and military training.
And it’s not just oil that we’re getting in return for our cash and military- we’re getting IMF reforms too. 75% of the citizens of Nigeria are poor and poverty has increased since 2004 despite the nation’s new found oil wealth. The only benefit the people used to get from oil extraction came from a law that said that 50% of the national oil revenue must go to the local governments of the oil-producting countries in the Niger Delta. In 2011, Nigeria’s new President declared a State of Emergency in Nigeria and the next day eliminated all fuel subsidies, an IMF plan which causes the citizens of Nigeria to have to spend $8 billion more a year out of their own pockets for the fossil fuels dug out of their own land. Boko Haram – the same group that kidnapped the girls – then stepped up attacks on the government. Since 2009, the group has killed over 900 people fighting what they say is a corrupt regime. Thing is that the people of Nigeria are angry with the government that keeps them desperately poor and they have supported Boko Haram.
Why do we want our military in Nigeria? A big part of it is the 3,720 miles of oil and gas pipelines, 90 oil fields, and 73 flow stations that Shell has in the country, which the Nigerian military is not strong enough to protect from Boko Haram and other groups that want the Nigeria’s oil wealth to benefit the people of Nigeria.
And now the media is obsessing over an Ebola in that same region of Africa, and the media convincing us that if we don’t intervene immediately we’re all going to die. Ebola has been around for forty years and this latest outbreak has killed about 1,000 Africans. That is sad but it pales in comparison to the death rate of malaria, which killed an estimated 627,000 people in 2012 alone. The miracle cure discovered out of nowhere by the US military comes from the tobacco plant and prompted the spokesman for Reynold’s American, the giant tobacco company that makes the miracle drug, to say that this could mark a step forward in the company’s goal of transforming the tobacco industry both in terms of remolding its image and meeting emerging market demands.
All of these stories are being used to build up our military all over Africa, which is what is described officially in legislation as the “new normal”. Along with the base we’ve actually admitted to having in Djibouti, the US military also has drone bases in Ethiopia, Niger, and the Republic of Seychelles. We have regular military bases in Kenya and Uganda. We have a US spying network operating out of Burkina Faso,Mauritania and Chad. We have confirmed troops on the ground in Congo, Central African Republic, Chad, Djibouti, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Uganda.
Just last week, President Obama announced that the US government, World Bank, and corporations will be investing a combined $33 billion in Africa. Corporate America is moving in – and we’re going to pay their entrance fee with money and militaries to shut down any citizen dissent.
There are a bunch of provisions in this year’s NDAA to continue the war in Afghanistan.
- Section 1211: Extends a program that gives $400 million for the war in Afghanistan in 2015. It also says that the Defense Department can accept money from “any person” – and remember, corporations are people now, foreign governments, or international organization” and add it to that $400 million. The permission to use that money won’t ever expire.
- Section 1212: Extends authority to spend $1.5 billion in 2015 to pay off any country that helps us in Iraq or Afghanistan.
- Section 1215: If Afghanistan dares to tax the Defense Department or a US contractor, the US will withhold that much money plus 50%. This holds Afghanistan to a deal – “Status of Forces Agreement” – they made with the Bush administration in 2003. Funds withheld by the US taxpayers will go towards paying contractors back for their Afghanistan taxes. Doesn’t expire until Afghanistan signs a new security agreement.
- Section 1216-7: Confirms that we will be keeping military members in Afghanistan through 2018 and tells the Defense Department to make a plan for it, even though President Obama announced we would be out of Afghanistan by 2016.
We’re bombing Iraq again to prevent the “bad guys” from getting to Erbil.
Ukraine is really like two different countries. The west side wants to be part of Europe; the east side is more culturally connected to Russia. Ukraine’s elected government was thrown out earlier this year in a coup after the government refused to sign a free trade deal with Europe. Europe wants Ukraine on it’s side instead of Russia’s because Ukraine has some very important gas pipelines that supply gas to Europe and two ginormous natural gas formations have been found under Ukrainians’ feet which the multinationals who benefit from free-trade agreements would love to get their hands on. The law under the old government was that Ukraine’s gas was only allowed to be sold to Ukrainians. The government that was installed quickly signed the trade deal and now Ukraine’s gas is available to be exported.
Russia, in response to the coup, took over a part of Ukraine – a dingleberry peninsula hanging off of Ukraine’s coast called Crimea. Russia had a contract with the old democratically elected government for a Russian military base on Crimea and when that government was thrown out, Russia took the land that houses their military base and is full of people who identify as Russian anyway. It really wasn’t that unreasonable a thing to do. This area was literally a part of Russia when my grandparents were born.
In response, however, the war mongering psychos controlling our government are escalating this tension with Russia over Crimea to ridiculous heights. And make no mistake- we are central to the Ukraine story. The new government was one hand picked and supported by the United States and Europe. We’ve given the new government $1 billion, $15 billion in loan guarantees, 300 military advisers, and over $20 million worth of military equipment. The new Ukrainian government has been using our money and weapons to bomb the Russian half of it’s own country and we want Russia to stand down – not that we have any proof that Russia is actually fighting. We appear to be restarting the Cold War.
The 2015 NDAA that passed the House, orders the Defense Department to make a plan to defend Europe from Russian attacks on NATO countries and orders a very detailed report on Russia’s military capabilities to be created every year. To punish Russia for taking Crimea, the bill prevents any NATO country from giving Russia excess military articles and prohibits the militaries of the United States and Russia from cooperating on anything as long as Russia is in Ukraine. Furthering the trade war that began with sanctions in the Ukraine Aid bill, the 2015 NDAA is poised to prevent the Defense Department from contracting with Russia’s state weapons company. This may be a problem as the Pentagon has already spent over $1 billion on 88 Russian helicopters for the Afghan military, a contract that may have to be cancelled and the funds shifted to an “American” weapons dealer. The most disturbing clause – prevents implementation of the New Start Treaty which limits the number of nuclear weapons of both counties, until Russia leaves Ukraine.
And now Russia is starting to fight back with their own economic attacks. In response to the sanctions which we’ve already placed on Russia, Russia has banned agricultural products from the United States, Europe, Australia, Canada, and Norway for a year, which will cost multinationals from those countries billions of dollars in sales.
Music Presented in This Episode