Sunday, June 26, 2011

Eisenhower and the Merchants of Death

In his farewell speech given on 17 January 1961, the President of the USA (1953–1961) Dwight Eisenhower, had used the expression 'military-industrial complex' and by doing so had caused kind of hype about this term ever since.

"A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction. Our military organization today bears little relation to that known by any of my predecessors in peacetime, or, indeed, by the fighting men of World War II or Korea.
Until the latest of our world conflicts, the United States had no armaments industry. American makers of plowshares could, with time and as required, make swords as well. But now we can no longer risk emergency improvisation of national defense. We have been compelled to create a permanent armaments industry of vast proportions. Added to this, three and a half million men and women are directly engaged in the defense establishment. We annually spend on military security alone more than the net income of all United States corporations.
Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence -- economic, political, even spiritual --is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.
In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together."

He had probably not been the first to use this composition: his speech writers Malcolm Moos and Ralph E. Williams might have borrowed the phrase from a book published in 1947. Whether they also had originally suggested the term 'military-industrial-congressional' in preceding drafts, as claimed by Geoffrey Perret, remains without official evidence. In his Eisenhower biography he wrote that Eisenhower “originally intended to include Congress in this indictment and deliver a blast at the ‘military-industrial-congressional complex.’ At the last minute, he struck out ‘congressional.’” maintains "his children suggest that in an earlier draft of the speech, he refered to the "military-industrial-congressional complex" and offer two links of which only one leading to a particular source: the documentary "Why We Fight (2005)". In fact it was none of his children but his granddaughter Susan Eisenhower appearing in this movie as one among many talking heads, claiming 

"It's interesting, most people don't realize that in the original draft it was actually 'military-industiral-congressional complex' but the 'congressional' part, it was removed because Dwight Eisenhower he was very proud of the fact that he had outstanding relationship with Congress.“

while the the camera is slowly crawling over a sheet of paper showing 

The quote starts at 02:04 of the following excerpt of the movie:

Susan Eisenhower repeated this statement during a discussion with talk show host Bill Maher on his Real Time, 2009-07-24).

However, the tightening links between economy, politics and the military sector in the USA have been seen as perilous now for 50 years, especially in times of politics being dominated by the doctrine of militarism (or neo-militarism). In a memorandum concerning the State of the Union speech 1961, speechwriter Williams expressed this concern as follows: "We must be very careful to insure that the "merchants of death do not come to dictate national policy".


English VersionWhy we fight (2005)

Deutsche Version: Why we fight - War sells - Die Kriegsgeschäfte der USA - German Arte-TV-Doku.avi

Friday, June 24, 2011

2 by Ray

"It has always puzzled me that so many people have taken it for granted that God favors those who believe in him. Isn't it possible that the actual God is a scientific God who has little patience with beliefs founded on faith rather than evidence?"

(Deutsch: "Es hat mich immer irritiert, daß es für so viele religiöse Leute als sicher gilt, daß Gott diejenigen begünstigt, die an ihn glauben. Ist es nicht möglich, daß der tatsächliche Gott Wissenschaftler ist, der mit Überzeugungen auf der Basis von Glauben anstatt auf der Basis von Gewißheit wenig Geduld hat?")

Raymond Smullyan

"Speaking of proofs of the existence of God, the funniest one I have ever seen was in a term paper handed in by a freshman. “God must exist because he wouldn't be so mean as to make me believe he exists if he really doesn't!” Is this argument really so much worse than the ontological proofs of the existence of God provided by Anselm and Descartes, among others?"

(Deutsch: "Wo ich gerade von Beweisen der Existenz Gottes spreche, fällt mir ein, daß der lustigste, der mir jemals untergekommen ist, in einer Semesterarbeit zu lesen war, die eine Studienanfängering eingereicht hatte. Sie schrieb: "Gott muß existieren, weil er nicht so gemein wäre, mich glauben zu machen, er existiere, wenn es in Wirklichkeit gar nicht der Fall ist!" Ist dieses Argument wirklich so viel schlechter als die ontologischen Beweise der Existenz Gottes, die unter anderen Anselm und Descartes liefern?")

Smullyan, Raymond

5000 B.C. and Other Philosophical Fantasies. St. Martin's Press, New York, 1983
Simplicius und der Baum - Philosophische Phantasien, Paradoxe Scherzrätsel und eine historische Überraschung. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main, 1989. 

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Für's Protokoll (For the Record)

„Die drei zentralen Ziele der USA definierte deren obersters militärisches Gremium, der Generalstab, in einem Memorandum 1978 folgendermaßen:
1. Den kontinuierlichen Zugang zu den Ölresourcen gewährleisten.
2. Eine feindliche Macht oder eine Kombination von Mächten von der Etablierung einer Hegemonie abhalten.
3. Das Überleben Israels als unabhängiger Staat in einer stabilen Beziehung mit den arabischen Nachbarn sicherstellen.
Diese Ziele gelten bis heute.“

Bierling, Stefan
[2010] Geschichte des Irakkriegs. Der Sturz Saddams und Amerikas Albtraum im Mittleren Osten. C.H. Beck, München, 2010.

Bierling zitiert aus Guardians of the Gulf: A History of America's Expanding Role in the Persion Gulf, 1833-1992 (p.102f)

"On September 7, 1978, the JCS approved „The Review of  US Strategy Related to the Middle East and the Persian Gulf“ and that same day forwarded it to Secretary of Defense Brown. This ducument highlighted three major American interests in the region.
1. To assure continuous access to petroleum resources.
2. To prevent an inimical power or combination of powers from establishing hegemony.
3. To assure the survival of Israel as an independent state in a stable relationship with contiguous Arab states."

Monday, June 20, 2011

Der Wahre Grund für den Irakkrieg? (True Reason for the Invasion Of Iraq?)

Nachdem seit 2009 die Lizenzen von 11 irakischen Erdölfeldern verkauft worden waren, schienen auf den ersten Blick jene recht zu behalten, die nicht daran geglaubt hatten, die USA hätten "nur" des Erdöls wegen das Land überfallen. Nur zwei der großen US-Öl Giganten werden sich vorerst direkt am irakischen Öl gütlich tun, einer davon Exxon Mobile. (Übrigens, welcher Ökonzern hat den höchsten jemals in Deutschland nachgewiesenen Preis pro Liter Superbenzin verlangt? Richtig: Esso! Wieviel?)

Aber, Hand auf's Herz, wer glaubt schon, daß der Hegemon, der für die Besetzung des Iraks Unsummen an Geld und Ressourcen investiert hat, sich die Butter vom Brot nehmen lassen würde? Kann man so naiv sein?

Der New York Times zufolge geht die Hälfte der 150 Milliarden, welche die Lizenznehmer in den nächsten zehn Jahren für die Ausbeutung des irakischen Öls investieren werden, an die Bohrspezialisten und Zulieferer Halliburton, Baker Hughes, Weatherford International und Schlumberger, die allesamt enge Beziehungen zur texanischen Ölindustrie aufweisen. Und das, wohlgemerkt, bei einer Steigerung der Tagesproduktion von 2,5 Millionen Barrels derzeit auf geplante 12 Millionen (!) bis 2017.

"Those four have won the largest portion of the subcontracts to drill for oil, build wells and refurbish old equipment.“Iraq is a huge opportunity for contractors,” Alex Munton, a Middle East analyst for Wood Mackenzie, a research and consulting firm based in Edinburgh, said by telephone. Mr. Munton estimated that about half of the $150 billion the international majors are expected to invest at Iraqi oil fields over the next decade would go to drilling subcontractors — most of it to the big four operators, which all have ties to the Texas oil industry. Halliburton and Baker Hughes are based in Houston, as is the drilling unit of Schlumberger, which is based in Paris. Weatherford, though now incorporated in Switzerland, was founded in Texas and still has big operations there."

Aber es kommt noch besser, denn im Vergleich zu den anderen internationalen Ölmultis werden die US-Firmen besser abschneiden, obwohl sie nicht (alle) an den Lizenzen beteiligt sind. Die russische Lukoil hatte die Bohrlizenz für das West Qurna 2, dem zweitgrößten Ölfeld der Welt, für 13 Milliarden Dollar erworben. Unabhängig vom Ölpreis müssen die Russen an das irakische Ölministerium $1.15 pro Barrel abführen. Das Geschäft wird sich dann erst nach etwa 10 Jahren amortisieren. Bis es soweit ist, werden die genannten US-Bohrfirmen schon ordentlich verdient haben.
"While Baker and its American peers are poised to make significant profits from such work in Iraq, wafer-thin margins seem to await Lukoil and the other international oil producers — which include BP of Britain, CNPC of China, ENI of Italy and the Anglo-Dutch company Shell.Lukoil’s contract, for example, is typical in paying a flat fee of $1.15 for each barrel produced, regardless of oil’s price.That means even if Lukoil ramps up West Qurna 2 production from almost nothing now to 1.8 million barrels a day by 2017, as specified in the contract, it will require more than a decade of subsequent production just to recoup capital costs of about $13 billion. A good portion of those costs, meanwhile, will have gone to its drilling contractors. Lukoil says it intends to drill more than 500 wells over six years.""

Die Russen scheinen aber auch nicht besten Geschäftsbedingungen vorgefunden haben: Lukoils Zulieferer ist Baker Hughes. Dem Lizenzvertrag folgend mußten die Russen das Angebot für die Zusammenarbeit mit einer Bohrfirma im Irak öffentlich ausschreiben ... aber nur Amerikaner hatten sich gemeldet:

Falls die New York Times wahrheitsgemäß berichtet, dürfte es immer schwieriger werden für diejenigen, die an die "Nicht-für Öl"-Hypothese als Rechtfertigung für die US-Invasion des Iraks glauben, abgesehen davon, daß diese Hypothese ohnehin nicht wirklich für hegemoniale Interessen paßt. "Kontrolle über die Ausbeutung der Ressourcen" ist das hegemoniale Stichwort. Auf welche Weise genau etwas für die eigene Wirtschaft abfällt, ist dabei nebensächlich. Und die Russen hat man wieder einmal über den Tisch gezogen.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Zeitgeist III - Moving Forward

Die Zeitgeist Filme - immer eine Diskussion wert: Hier der dritte und bislang letzte (2011) "Moving Forward" (engl. mit deutschen Untertiteln).
The Zeitgeist movies, always good for a discussion: Here's the third and latest edit (2011) called "Moving Forward" (english with selectable subtitles)

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Hegemonic Stability Theory

Concerning the question asked in the previous posting: Do we need a world-policeman, a dominating power, a world-leader, an alpha-dog among the nations, in order to establish a prosperous economic/political international coexistence? Here's a first answer:

Hegemonic Stability Theory
"The central idea of this theory is that the stability of the international system requires a single dominant state to articulate and enforce the rules of interaction among the most important members of the system. For a state to be a hegemon, it must have three attributes: the capability to enforce the rules of the system, the will to do so, and a commitment to a system which is perceived as mutually beneficial to the major states. A hegemon's capability rests upon the likes of a large, growing economy, dominance in a leading technological or economic sector, and political power backed up by projective military power. An unstable system will result if economic, technological, and other changes erode the international hierarchy and undermine the position of the dominant state. Pretenders to hegemonic control will emerge if the benefits of the system are viewed as unacceptably unfair." (Extract from lecture notes on the theory of hegemonic stability by Vincent Ferraro, Ruth C. Lawson Professor of International Politics at Mount Holyoke College, Massachusetts.) From

It is not at all obvious why people having a little knowledge in history might support this thesis. History is chock-full of the rises and falls of empires. They are coming and going. Thus, if prosperity and peace among different nations under a hegemon is only possible for a relatively short period of time (much less than a hegemonic cycle), why not better abolish this idea and try to replace it by international law, applicable to every state?

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

The First Question in International Political Economy

"There are a number of more general questions that can be asked about the relationship between economics and politics at the international level. It is important to make them explicit because it is impossible to make progress in any line of enquiry unless we are clear about the questions we are asking. ‘What are the important questions?’ is perhaps the most important question a social scientist can ask. Among these general questions, the following have received considerable attention from specialists in the field of International Political Economy (IPE):
• Does an open, liberal, international economic order require a
hegemon to lay down and enforce the rules? That is, does the
efficient functioning of a liberal order depend on the existence
of a state with the power, resources and willingness to perform a
leadership or ‘policing’ role? [...]"

Economides, Spyros; Wilson, Peter: The Economic Factor In International Relations, I.B. Tauris, New York, 2001.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Brot und Spiele und Militär

Die US-Hegemonisten unter Friedensnobelpreisträger Obama intensivieren ihre militärischen Angriffe und arbeiten fleißig an der Installation der nächsten freundlich gesinnten Regierung im Jemen, berichtet die New York Times Online. Unumwunden wird von den US-Radikalen zugegeben, „daß das Ausmaß des amerikanischen Krieges im Jemen zu den bestgehütetsten Geheimnissen der Obama-Regierung zählte und sich „offizielle Stellen“ deshalb Sorgen machten, daß die Neuigkeit der „unilateralen Operationen“ den geschwächten Status des Präsidenten Saleh unterminieren könnte. Saleh hatte ab 2009 den USA beschränkte Militäreinsätze gestattet.

"The extent of America’s war in Yemen has been among the Obama administration’s most closely guarded secrets, as officials worried that news of unilateral American operations could undermine Mr. Saleh’s tenuous grip on power. Mr. Saleh authorized American missions in Yemen in 2009, but placed limits on their scope and has said publicly that all military operations had been conducted by his own troops."

Das derzeitige Chaos im Jemen kommt den Amerikanern sehr entgegen, heißt es doch, daß es den Spielraum der USA dort vergrößert.

“But as things get more and more chaotic in Yemen, the space for the Americans to operate in gets bigger”

Siehe: NY Times: "U.S. Is Intensifying a Secret Campaign of Yemen Airstrikes"

Immerhin können sich die Amerikaner im Kampf um den Jemen der Unterstützung ihres langjährigen Alliierten, des Gottesstaates Saudi-Arabien erfreuen. Dort wiederum versucht man sich vor der Bevölkerung zu schützen, indem man Almosen verteilt. Der NY Times zufolge gönnt König Abdullah seinen Beamten zwei zusätzliche Monatsgehälter und kümmert sich rührend um den Wohnbau für Niedriglohnrezipienten (70 Milliarden US$ immerhin). Die 200 Millionen zum Stillhalten des islamischen Klerus gehören da nur zu den Standardüberweisungen.

“But the first line of defense in this case was the public aid package. King Abdullah paid an extra two months’ salary to government employees and spent $70 billion alone for 500,000 units of low-income housing. As a reward to the religious establishment, he allocated about $200 million to their organizations, including the religious police. Clerics opposed to democratic changes crowed that they had won a great victory over liberal intellectuals.”

Bei weitem mehr wird der König allerdings für den erfolgreichen Kampf gegen Demokratiebestrebungen in seinem Hinterhof ausgeben müssen - Bahrain, Oman, oder die Vereinigten Arabischen Emirate.

“Saudi Arabia, a close ally of the United States, has struggled to preserve what remains of a regional dynamic upended by the Arab Spring — buttressing monarchies and blocking Iran from gaining influence.
While the United States has pressed other Arab nations to embrace democratic changes, it has remained largely silent on Saudi Arabia and the kingdom’s efforts to squelch popular revolts in neighboring Bahrain and Oman.”

Zum Beispiel erinnert man sich in den Vereinigten Arabischen Emiraten daran, daß es hieß „Brot UND Spiele“. Durch gründliches Studium der in diesem Jahr vorausgegangenen Revolten erkannte man, daß sich die Leute ja keine Törtchen mehr leisten konnten und dachte sich, ein voller Bauch müsse doch nicht demonstrieren gehen – wogegen auch?

So kompliziert ist die Logik des Machterhalts ja nun doch nicht.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Maddening Chutzpah

Netanyahu's speech before the congress of the United States of America, May 20, 2011:
one of the remarkable paragraphs - in a show chock-full of remarkable paragraphs and fine print - was the following:

Courageous Arab protesters, are now struggling to secure these very same rights for their peoples, for their societies. We’re proud that over one million Arab citizens of Israel have been enjoying these rights for decades. Of the 300 million Arabs in the Middle East and North Africa, only Israel’s Arab citizens enjoy real democratic rights. I want you to stop for a second and think about that. Of those 300 million Arabs, less than one-half of one-percent are truly free, and they’re all citizens of Israel!

Apart from the reluctance of the Israeli Gouvernement towards the Egypt uprising,
apart from the real situation of the Israeli-Arab population in the apartheid state,
isn't it somehow very confusing that Netanyahu tells the congress that all the Arabs living in states which the democracy-spreading US usually call their „friends and allies“ are not enjoying „real democratic rights“, like Saudia Arabia, Kuweit, Algeria, Jordan, smaller gulf states or formerly Tunesia and Egypt? That amounts to the paraphrase: "Look folks, under our hegemony the Arabs are truly free since decades, under your hegemony they are not. Think about it for a minute! 
And those congress people applaude like crazy …

All in all, a spooky show at Capitol Hill. Uri Avnery, founder of the Gush Shalom movement, commented about the disgusting (Avnery) event:

"Es war schlimmer als im syrischen Parlament während einer Rede von Bashar Assad, wo jeder, der nicht applaudierte, sich im Gefängnis wiederfindet. Oder in Stalins Oberstem Sowjet: wenn man nicht genügend Respekt zeigte, konnte das den Tod bedeuten." (taken from zmag)
("It was worse than in Syrian parliament during a speech of Bashar Assad: everyone not applauding found himself thrown into jail. The same with Stalin's Supreme Soviet: you could be killed if you didn't show enough respect.") [translation by base2014]
Another Israeli, Gideon Levy for Haaretz: Netanyahu's speech to Congress shows America will buy anything

„the only truth spoken in the Capitol was that of a former Israeli shouting "equal rights for Palestinians"“ 

Listen to the other side: here are the comments by Mustafa Barghouti, secretary general of the Palestinian National Initiative in an interview on