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War Is Too Tragic for Weak Balance of Powers

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Posted on Feb 26, 2012
Think-N-Evolve (CC-BY)

By Dina Rasor, Truthout

(Page 3)

Ellsberg’s Gulf of Tonkin experience is hauntingly similar to the deceptions used by President George W Bush to get the US to rush to war with Iraq, under the lies that they, along with al-Qaeda, were responsible for the attacks on 9/11. This shows that the Congress, even though they did take a vote under the weak War Powers Act, were politically timid and feared looking soft on defense. They did not do their full checks and balances in making sure that they weren’t being lied to. And parts of the media, looking for the excitement of covering a war, also were beating the war drums with false information. Our founders expected the Congress to be a much better balance to presidents who overzealously march us into disastrous wars.

Congress does also have the power of the purse to stop a war or military action, as they tried with Vietnam and attempts to restrict the backing of the contras in their conflict in Nicaragua. However, because of foreign policy political fights and defense contractor contributions, too many members of Congress were concerned that they would look weak on defense and felt politically vulnerable if they restricted any military money, especially for the troops.

The solution for what ails the War Powers Act is not something that will be easy to solve legally or politically. The Congress and the executive branch will be fighting it out with legislation and executive directives and possibly even in the courts. But one of the underlying tribulations that impairs Congress from standing up to the president and reclaiming their power to declare war is the size and influence of the Pentagon budget on the political process. The $600-billion-plus yearly budget and trillion-dollar wars permeate all aspects of our politics, jobs and elections as everyone in Washington maneuvers to get a piece of the pie and justify the world’s largest defense budget. We have also allowed major parts of waging war to be outsourced to a war service industry that now has the money and lobbying power to get us into another war or conflict to feed their now bloated ranks. As long as political money and self-dealing on the part of our public servants feeds off the Pentagon budget, the delicate checks and balances our founders devised to keep us out of ruinous wars will be as bastardized by money as our election cycles.

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agelbert's avatar

By agelbert, February 28, 2012 at 2:57 pm Link to this comment

I’m in total agreement with gerard, Maxshields, Jay and EmileZ.

As to whether Daniel was gamed by and for the CIA or not, it’s entirely possible but the main issue, as raised by others here is the morally bankrupt mindset of humans in general and our policy makers in particular.

It all boils down to the fact that humans require X to thrive (see Maslow’s hierarchy) but, give a group of humans a slight advantage in the privileges they enjoy and they turn into monsters willing to justify the exploitation of their fellow humans with any contrived excuse, doctrine, religion or some other ‘erudite’ exercise in bullshit. Humans are quick to forget the humanity of other humans; thereby losing their own humanity.

Sure, hormones and biochemistry play a role in this pecking order insanity and constant jockying for position and privilege but it’s long past the time that we stopped behaving like bacteria eating up all the agar in the petri dish. We have reached the edge and we must overcome our refusal to make egalitarianism, with the consequent elimination of war, the law of the earth or perish.

In short, sustainable living is not optional; it is imperative and anything else is insanely suicidal.

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By gerard, February 27, 2012 at 7:42 pm Link to this comment

Max Shields:  I rail against U.S. policy and behavior because as a citizen I have a birthright obligation to try to bring about change for the better here.  However, I do not think the U.S. is uniquely an “unmitigated warring nation.” It seems to be that the idea of nation-states has resulted in an unknown number of self-isolating societies who feel driven toward the use of force and violence (against other nations or their own citizens) in order to maintain their addiction to a psycho-political drug called “ruling power”.
  Getting rid of the “nation-state” idea might help, but then another addiction might occur unless we were smart enough to prevent it:  The idea of “world dominance” as in nonsense like “the American Century” (world domination) or “the Autonomous Civilized Gloobal State” or “the Consolidated Union of Wealthy Free Enterprizers” or “the Federation of Free Trade Nations, or ultimately, perhaps, the “Galactic Commu-Social Political Cooperative” and so on and on to other violent absurdities.
  In my dreams I see other possibilities, but something very vital has got to change first that will liberate us all from selfishness and fear.

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By MaxShields, February 27, 2012 at 5:36 pm Link to this comment

gerard while lack of spirituality may be one way of stating it I agree with your general assertion. We have to recognize that this has become an unmitigated warring nation. It is trigger ready and will go to war at a moments notice with no real provocation/threat.

A Congress that would vote almost unanimously to support the wars against humanity that Israel has waged against the Palestinians, is not a check on a President. I see no resolution which can fetter this nation’s proclivity to wage endless war. It is at the core of that issue, the causes, and the exceptionalism that puts it above morality that must be our greatest pursuit. No, the founders did not expect this, but this is what we’ve become. And until that changes we will continue until there is simply no energy left in the coffers and total collapse is upon us.

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By Jay Lindberg, February 27, 2012 at 3:32 pm Link to this comment
(Unregistered commenter)

Our species has at least one fatal flaw.

We have an appreciation for killing because the victim
forfeits their possessions and an adversion to peace
because pillaging is about power.

I sincerely believe that this is the foundation for
war.

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EmileZ's avatar

By EmileZ, February 26, 2012 at 4:24 pm Link to this comment

@ Carl

I wish there were more Daniel Ellsbergs trying to “penetrate” the anti-war left.

Bring on the Daniel Ellsbergs.

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By Carl, February 26, 2012 at 3:01 pm Link to this comment

From the G2mil.com blog:

Retired USAF Col. Fletcher Prouty revealed that the “Pentagon Papers” were a planned CIA leak to shift blame for the failed war in Vietnam from the CIA to the Pentagon. The documents were real, but only certain documents were released. Prouty wrote the other reason for this “leak” was to upset the Nixon administration, which it was trying to destabilize in hopes of ousting Nixon. That President was upset that the CIA refused to provide him with requested documents concerning the Bay of Pigs and the JFK assassination. Nixon also angered the “Power Elite” by withdrawing American troops from their profitable business venture in Vietnam and improving relations with Red China.

Nixon was ousted with the help of covert CIA agent Bob Woodward, working undercover as a reporter at the CIA co-founded “Washington Post”. Gerald Ford became President, who just happened to be a member of the discredited Warren Commission that engineered the cover-up of the JFK assassination!

I’m not sure if the leaker of the “Pentagon Papers”, career CIA agent Daniel Ellsberg, knew he was being used, but he was never prosecuted and allowed to retire and collect his CIA pension. Before becoming a leaker, Ellsberg spent a few years in Vietnam working directly under the senior CIA spook there, Edward Lansdale, pictured in my Nov. 23 blog at the scene of the 1963 JFK coup in Dallas. Bradley Manning is a young, lowly soldier who will spend years in prison, yet Ellsberg was a senior official who knew the consequences of releasing thousands of pages of classified information. Yet he was never prosecuted AND allowed to retire and collect a government pension! No one on the American “left” questions this obvious red flag, and they celebrate Ellsberg as a hero. Ellsberg may be a great guy, but
I wouldn’t be surprised if he reports to the CIA in Langley regarding his insider contacts with today’s anti-war movements.

Can you think of a better cover for a CIA agent to penetrate the anti-war left? Is this former career CIA agent that clever?

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By gerard, February 26, 2012 at 1:08 pm Link to this comment

I’ll stick my neck out here and risk being taunted as “a religious nut” etc., but a great deal of evidence indicates that the only way out of the cycle of war after war is to recognize the spiritual sickness that it manifests and to treat the economic causes and the psychological symptoms at the same time. Nothing short of an about-face on our faith in violence will do. And nothing better than the U.S. legislatively taking the first step (instigated by both enlightened politicians and by public insistence) will start a worldwide avalnnche of peace-making choices. The more “progressive” and “enlightened” nations are responsible to invent and support the specifics of such a change.
  Nothing is clearer today than the worldwide evidences both of spiritual bankruptcy, and yet at the same time, of mental and technological abilities and desires to move forward toward a more humane future. The call is crystal clear, and though much effort is made to prevent hearing it, billions of the world’s people are far from deaf.

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