“How are they going to pay for this? Oh wait, that question only gets asked when it comes to social programs that benefit the working class.” — Twitter user
By Jake Johnson
Common Dreams (7/26/18)
With the help of 139 Democrats, the House of Representatives on Thursday easily rammed through the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which—if it passes the Senate—will hand President Donald Trump $717 billion in military spending.
“Of the total $717 billion, the bill would authorize $616.9 billion for the base Pentagon budget, $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons programs under the Energy Department, and another $69 billion in war spending from the special Overseas Contingency Operations account,” Politico reported following the 359-54 vote. View the full roll call here.
Additionally, the NDAA passed by the House would authorize 13 new Navy warships, approve the Pentagon’s request to buy 77 F-35s, and green-light “a new submarine-launched, low-yield nuclear warhead,” Politico notes.
“How are they going to pay for this?” asked one commentator on Twitter. “Oh wait, that question only gets asked when it comes to social programs that benefit the working class.”
The House’s passage of the 2019 NDAA comes just days after Trump fired off a hysterical Twitter rant against Iran, warning the nation’s leaders in all capital letters to “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN.”
What Trump didn’t mention is that Iran’s so-called “threat” against the United States came after a Reuters report revealed that the White House—led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton—has launched a secret effort to “foment unrest” inside Iran, which critics described as an obvious push for regime change.
Amid escalating tensions between the two nations sparked by Trump’s ultra-hawkish administration, one of the few tiny bright spots in the NDAA is language that says“nothing in this act may be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.”
This “explanatory statement” was included thanks to amendments pushed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and passed unanimously by the House.
“I’m grateful to see Congress’ top defense legislators go on the record and agree that President Trump does not have an authorization to use military force against Iran. Given Trump’s recent irresponsible all-caps tweet threatening Iran, it’s critical to know that he has no legal authority to use military force without explicit approval from Congress,” Ellison said in a statement on Thursday.
(This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License.)
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2018. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
U.S. Secret Wars In Africa Rage On, Despite Talk Of Downsizing
By Nick Turse
The Intercept (7/26/18)
LAST OCTOBER, FOUR U.S. soldiers – including two commandos – were killed in an ambush in Niger. Since then, talk of U.S. special operations in Africa has centered on missions being curtailed and troop levels cut.
Press accounts have suggested that the number of special operators on the front lines has been reduced, with the head of U.S. Special Operations forces in Africa directing his troops to take fewer risks. At the same time, a “sweeping Pentagon review” of special ops missions on the continent may result in drastic cuts in the number of commandos operating there. U.S. Africa Command has apparently been asked to consider the impact on counterterrorism operations of cutting the number of Green Berets, Navy SEALs, and other commandos by 25 percent over 18 months and 50 percent over three years.
While media reports have focused on the possibility of imminent reductions, the number of commandos deployed in Africa is nonetheless up 96 percent since 2014.
Analysts have already stepped forward to question or criticize the proposed cuts. “Anybody that knows me knows that I would disagree with any downsizing in Africa,” Donald Bolduc, a former chief of U.S. commandos on the continent, told Voice of America.
While the review was reportedly ordered this spring and troop reductions may be coming, there is no evidence yet of massive cuts, gradual reductions, or any downsizing whatsoever. In fact, the number of commandos operating on the continent has barely budged since 2017. Nearly 10 months after the debacle in Niger, the tally of special operators in Africa remains essentially unchanged.
According to figures provided to The Intercept by U.S. Special Operations Command, 16.5 percent of commandos overseas are deployed in Africa. …
- Troops Of Close US Ally Cameroon Carry Out Especially Brutal Murder Of Women & Children — A SOLDIER WALKS alone down a dirt road with an automatic rifle strapped to his back. It’s an innocuous beginning to a disturbing video. Moments later, a group of soldiers and civilians follows. Another man – dressed in military fatigues and wearing aviator sunglasses — repeatedly strikes a woman who clutches the hand of a young girl, perhaps 7 or 8 years old. “You are going to die,” says the soldier, who refers to the woman as “BH,” an apparent reference to Boko Haram. He steers her off the road, and the young girl, likely her daughter, follows. Another soldier does the same to a second woman who has a toddler strapped to her back, guiding her into a dirt expanse. Videos of executions have become commonplace in our news culture, with the Islamic State, Al Qaeda, and other terror groups filming atrocities and sharing them on social media. But this video from Cameroon is particularly cold-blooded. The soldiers make the women kneel on the ground. One of the soldiers gestures to the young girl and says, “Yes. Little girl, come here,” directing her to stand next to her mother. He then pulls the girl’s shirt over her head, blindfolding her. Gunshots follow in fast succession. … Read the Rest and 3-Minute Video (Warning: Graphic US-supported violence.)
- Why We Know So Little About the U.S.-Backed War in Yemen — Thursday, from Al Jazeera: “Yemen ‘on Brink of New Cholera Epidemic,’ Charity Warns.” The piece details how recent developments in the Yemeni civil war — specifically, the possible siege of the port city of Hodeidah — may cause a surge in cholera cases. There were over a million reported cases of cholera between the fall of 2016 and spring of 2018, the largest documented outbreak in modern times. The rate of infection had slowed, but observers now fear resurgence. Since the conflict began, medical services have been devastated across the war-torn country, and children in particular have been affected, with as many as 400,000 at imminent risk of starvation. In April, U.N. General Secretary Antonio Guterres said that 8 million people in Yemen didn’t know where they were getting their next meal. … Read the Rest