In a Time Magazine Op-Ed, Congressman Charles Rangel (Democrat from New York), a combat veteran says It’s Time for a War Tax and a Reinstated Draft.
While I am optimistic about our Commander-in-Chief’s strategy to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria, I voted against the Continuing Appropriations Resolution 2015 that would grant the President the authority to provide funds to train and arm Syrian rebels against the enemy. I opposed the amendment because I strongly believe amassing additional debt to go to war should involve all of America debating the matter. That is why I have called for levying a war tax in addition to bringing back the military draft.
Both the war surcharge and conscription will give everyone in America a real stake in any decision on going to war, and compel the public to think twice before they make a commitment to send their loved ones into harm’s way.
For a decade I have been calling for the reinstatement of the draft because our military personnel and their families bear a tremendous cost each time we send them to fight.
Draft Worse Than Slavery
Slavery is involuntary servitude. Is a draft anything less than slavery?
Actually, it’s worse. You take a guy’s freedom away, ship him overseas, give him a rifle, and force him to kill other people against whom he has no direct grievance, when the best such a person can ever hope for is to come back in one piece, years later, possibly with huge psychological stress after needless killing.
Rangel points out the “tremendous cost each time we send them [US troops] to fight” then proposes the stupidest solution possible, to force everyone to have the same opportunity.
I propose there can be no debate on a draft just as there can be no debate on whether we should revive slave trade from Africa.
Rather than admit the stupidity of wasting $6 trillion in Iraq and Afghanistan and vowing to never do it again, Rangel proposes a War Tax.
The United States has borrowed almost $2 trillion to fund our military engagements on foreign soil. It is estimated that the total cost would be close to $6 trillion; we continue to pay a heavy toll for these conflicts. Each dollar spent on war is a dollar not spent on education, energy, housing, or healthcare. We cannot afford to tread this same path when we are slashing domestic programs that are the lifelines for so many Americans. I will soon introduce a bill that will impose war tax to ensure that we do not have to choose between further gutting the social safety net and adding to the $17.7 trillion of national debt.
Rangel was once Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.
Let’s Bomb the Entire Muslim World
George Monbiot, writer for the Guardian, says “Humanitarian arguments, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East”.
Monbiot sarcastically asks Why stop at Isis when we could bomb the whole Muslim world?
Let’s bomb the Muslim world – all of it – to save the lives of its people. Surely this is the only consistent moral course? Why stop at Islamic State (Isis), when the Syrian government has murdered and tortured so many? This, after all, was last year’s moral imperative. What’s changed?
In Gaza this year, 2,100 Palestinians were massacred: including people taking shelter in schools and hospitals. Surely these atrocities demand an air war against Israel? And what’s the moral basis for refusing to liquidate Iran? Mohsen Amir-Aslani was hanged there last week for making “innovations in the religion” (suggesting that the story of Jonah in the Qur’an was symbolic rather than literal). Surely that should inspire humanitarian action from above? Pakistan is crying out for friendly bombs.
Is there not an urgent duty to blow up Saudi Arabia? It has beheaded 59 people so far this year, for offences that include adultery, sorcery and witchcraft. It has long presented a far greater threat to the west than Isis now poses. In 2009 Hillary Clinton warned in a secret memo that “Saudi Arabia remains a critical financial support base for al-Qaida, the Taliban … and other terrorist groups”.
The humanitarian arguments aired in parliament last week, if consistently applied, could be used to flatten the entire Middle East and west Asia. By this means you could end all human suffering, liberating the people of these regions from the vale of tears in which they live.
Yes, the agenda and practices of Isis are disgusting. It murders and tortures, terrorises and threatens. As Obama says, it is a “network of death”. But it’s one of many networks of death. Worse still, a western crusade appears to be exactly what Isis wants.
And if the bombing succeeds? If – and it’s a big if – it manages to tilt the balance against Isis, what then? Then we’ll start hearing once more about Shia death squads and the moral imperative to destroy them too – and any civilians who happen to get in the way. The targets change; the policy doesn’t. Never mind the question, the answer is bombs. In the name of peace and the preservation of life, our governments wage perpetual war.
While the bombs fall, our states befriend and defend other networks of death. The US government still refuses – despite Obama’s promise – to release the 28 redacted pages from the joint congressional inquiry into 9/11, which document Saudi Arabian complicity in the US attack. In the UK, in 2004 the Serious Fraud Office began investigating allegations of massive bribes paid by the British weapons company BAE to Saudi ministers and middlemen. Just as crucial evidence was about to be released, Tony Blair intervened to stop the investigation.
Last week’s Private Eye, drawing on a dossier of recordings and emails, alleges that a British company has paid £300m in bribes to facilitate weapons sales to the Saudi national guard. When a whistleblower in the company reported these payments to the British Ministry of Defence, instead of taking action it alerted his bosses. He had to flee the country to avoid being thrown into a Saudi jail.
There are no good solutions that military intervention by the UK or the US can engineer. Whenever our armed forces have bombed or invaded Muslim nations, they have made life worse for those who live there. The regions in which our governments have intervened most are those that suffer most from terrorism and war. That is neither coincidental nor surprising.
Yet our politicians affect to learn nothing. Insisting that more killing will magically resolve deep-rooted conflicts, they scatter bombs like fairy dust.
Fraud of Humanitarin Wars
For humanitarian reasons, 2009 Nobel Peace Laureate Barack Obama has bombed seven Muslim nations: Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia, and Libya.
The utter lack of interest in what possible legal authority Obama has to bomb Syria is telling indeed: Empires bomb who they want, when they want, for whatever reason (indeed, recall that Obama bombed Libya even after Congress explicitly voted against authorization to use force, and very few people seemed to mind that abject act of lawlessness; constitutional constraints are not for warriors and emperors).
It was just over a year ago that Obama officials [Sec of State John Kerry] were insisting that bombing and attacking Assad was a moral and strategic imperative. Instead, Obama is now bombing Assad’s enemies while politely informing his regime of its targets in advance. It seems irrelevant on whom the U.S. wages war; what matters it that it will be at war, always and forever.
Six weeks of bombing hasn’t budged ISIS in Iraq, but it has caused ISIS recruitment to soar. That’s all predictable: the U.S. has known for years that what fuels and strengthens anti-American sentiment (and thus anti-American extremism) is exactly what they keep doing: aggression in that region. If you know that, then they know that.
As the disastrous Libya “intervention” should conclusively and permanently demonstrate, the U.S. does not bomb countries for humanitarian objectives. Humanitarianism is the pretense, not the purpose.
On May 2, Glenn Greenwald wrote about The Fraud of Humanitarian Wars. “All wars, even the most unjustifiably aggressive, are wrapped in the same pretty rhetorical packaging.”
Goering at the Nuremberg Trials
Please recall what Reichsmarschall Hermann Wilhelm Göring (in English his name is also spelled as Hermann Goering) Nazi founder of the Gestapo, Head of the Luftwaffe, said at the Nuremberg Trials.
Here is a clip of the interview in Goering’s cell in prison, after the war.
Göring: Why, of course, the people don’t want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don’t want war; neither in Russia nor in England nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy or a fascist dictatorship or a Parliament or a Communist dictatorship.
Gilbert: There is one difference. In a democracy, the people have some say in the matter through their elected representatives, and in the United States only Congress can declare wars.
Göring: Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.
We Gotta Do Something!
Please note that all it took was a couple of beheadings for warmongers to get the rest of Congress behind bombing ISIS in Syria. And that’s all it took for Obama to break his promise to get out of Afghanistan. Instead, we will be there until 2024 “at least”.
For details, please see “Come Hell or High Water” Promise Morphs Into “Infinity and Beyond”
Public sentiment following the beheadings is “We Gotta Do Something!”
Indeed we do.
Instead of a draft coupled with a war tax, I propose we kick the warmongers out of office and stop all war funding except what’s explicitly needed to protect US borders here, not half-way around the globe.
Unfortunately that goal is next to impossible. The industrial-military war machine backs every candidate who is in favor of perpetual war.
Mike “Mish” Shedlock