Friday, May 24, 2019

Is Trump Going To Bomb The Shit Out Of Everyone?


A few days ago, Alex Kane wrote a post for In These Times, Here’s Exactly Who’s Profiting from the War on Yemen. As the poverty-stricken Yemenis and their children die, "U.S. arms merchants have grown rich." In one horrific bombing attack, "fragments of the bombs were documented by journalists and HRW with help from Mastaba villagers. An HRW munitions expert determined the bombs were 2,000-pound MK-84s, manufactured by General Dynamics. Based in Falls Church, Virginia, General Dynamics is the world’s sixth most profitable arms manufacturer. One of the bombs used a satellite guidance kit from Chicago-based Boeing, the world’s second-most profitable weapons company. The other bomb had a Paveway guidance system, made by either Raytheon of Waltham, Massachusetts., the third-largest arms company in the world, or Lockheed Martin of Bethesda, Maryland, the world’s top weapons contractor. An In These Times analysis found that in the past decade, the State Department has approved at least $30.1 billion in Saudi military contracts for these four companies."

The war in Yemen has been particularly lucrative for General Dynamics, Boeing and Raytheon, which have received hundreds of millions of dollars in Saudi weapons deals. All three corporations have highlighted business with Saudi Arabia in their reports to shareholders. Since the war began in March 2015, General Dynamics’ stock price has risen from about $135 to $169 per share, Raytheon’s from about $108 to more than $180, and Boeing’s from about $150 to $360.

Lockheed Martin declined to comment for this story. A spokesman for Boeing said the company follows “guidance from the United States government,” while Raytheon replied, “You will need to contact the U.S. government.” General Dynamics did not respond to inquiries. The State Department declined to comment on the record.

The weapons contractors are correct on one point: They’re working hand-in-glove with the State Department. By law, the department’s Bureau of Political-Military Affairs must approve any arms sales by U.S. companies to foreign governments. U.S. law also prohibits sales to countries that indiscriminately kill civilians, as the Saudi-led military coalition bombing Yemen did in the Mastaba strike and many other documented cases. But ending sales to Saudi Arabia would cost the U.S. arms industry its biggest global customer, and to do so, Congress must cross an industry that pours millions into the campaigns of lawmakers of both parties.

...Saudi Arabia’s precision-guided munitions are responsible for the vast majority of deaths documented by human rights groups. In These Times found that, since 2009, Saudi Arabia has ordered more than 27,000 missiles worth at least $1.8 billion from Raytheon alone, plus 6,000 guided bombs from Boeing (worth about $332 million) and 1,300 cluster munitions from Rhode Island-based Textron (worth about $641 million).

About $650 million of those Raytheon orders and an estimated $103 million of the Boeing orders came after the Saudi war in Yemen began.

The ink was barely dry before $500 million of the deal was threatened by a bill, introduced by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY) in May 2017, to block the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia. In response, Boeing and Raytheon hired lobbying firms to make their case.

In the end, five Democrats-- Joe Donnelly (IN), Claire McCaskill (MO), Joe Manchin (WV), Bill Nelson (FL) and Mark Warner (VA)-- broke with their party to ensure arms sales continued, in a 53-47 vote. [Donnelly, McCaskill and Nelson were subsequently all defeated for reelection due to low-than-expected Democratic turnout in their races.] The five had collectively received tens of thousands in arms industry donations, and would receive another $148,032 in the next election cycle from the PACs and employees of Boeing and Raytheon. Nelson and McCaskill pulled in $44,308 and $57,230, respectively. Weapons firms are aided by a revolving door with the Trump administration. Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a former General Dynamics board member, warned Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) that the Rand Paul bill would be a boon for Iran. Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan served as a senior vice president of Boeing prior to coming to the Defense Department, though it’s unclear whether he’s championed U.S.-Saudi arms deals.

...This spring, the Senate and House passed a bill championed by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) requiring the United States to stop giving the Saudi coalition intelligence and to prohibit the in-air refueling of Saudi warplanes. It was the first time in U.S. history that both chambers of Congress invoked the War Powers Act, designed to check the president’s war-making powers by requiring congressional authorization to deploy troops overseas. Trump vetoed the bill on April 16.
We asked Ro Khanna, who-- with Bernie Sanders-- put so much effort into getting Congres to pass bipartisan legislation to prevent Trump from doing exactly this, what he thought about this newest developments. This is what he said, in a written statement, last night:
Every bomb sold to Saudi Arabia is another bomb for Saudi bomber jets to drop on Yemeni hospitals, weddings, markets, and school buses. President Trump’s claim that selling weapons to Saudi Arabia constitutes an ‘emergency’ is a farcical attempt to obscure the shameful reality that ‘made in the U.S.A’ bombs are killing innocent civilians and fueling the world’s worst humanitarian crises in Yemen.

If this happens, the Trump admin. is resorting to the most desperate of measures out of concern they don’t have the votes in Congress to approve such arms sales. The historic passage of the bipartisan and bicameral Yemen War Powers Resolution highlights that congressional opposition to U.S. backing for the Saudi-led coalition’s barbaric war continues to grow.

Congress must seize every available opportunity to stop the delivery and transfer of bombs to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other coalition countries for their barbaric war in Yemen. Through this year’s National Defense Authorization Act, the Defense Appropriations bill, and other forms of legislation, I will continue to work with my colleagues in Congress and with peace and humanitarian groups to stop bomb sales and end all forms of U.S. participation in this war.

And now what? Senator Chris Murphy (D-CT) was speaking for many Democrats (and some Republicans) when he warned this week that the Trump Regime (Bolton) is considering a move to bypass Congress and push through the sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia by declaring a national security emergency. "I am hearing that Trump may use an obscure loophole in the Arms Control Act and notice a major new sale of bombs to Saudi Arabia (the ones they drop in Yemen) in a way that will prevent Congress from objecting. Arms control law allows Congress to reject a sale to a foreign country. But Trump would claim the sale constitutes an ‘emergency’ which means Congress can't take a vote of disapproval. It would go through automatically."

Jim Himes (D-CT) is a senior Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee and chairman of the Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research. He's closely allied with Murphy and he told me yesterday that "By any standard, the Saudi-led war on Yemen is a moral disgrace. Congress spoke loud and clear on the matter and despite his veto, the President would be wise not to thumb his nose at the Congress or at basic standards of decency."

Directly across the Long Island Sound from Murphy's and Himes' constituencies, Tom Suozzi is the congressman for most of northern Long Island. He was revolted by the same things Murphy was warning about. "Awful," he told me this morning. "There is an unmitigated humanitarian disaster of epic proportions taking place in Yemen. We should not be supplying weapons to the Saudi’s to make things worse. More important, the president cannot act as though he is a sole proprietor who can act based upon his sole discretion. He is the chief executive of a nation governed by a constitution that requires him to work with the Congress in matters involving federal funds (which is just about everything) and actions that involve war powers."

Himes and Suozzi are both New Dems and both Pelosi supporters. But I get the feeling that little by little, their support for her "no impeachment diktat" is beginning to crumble. If she loses backers like Tom Suozzi and Jim Himes, she's on her own with Steny Hoyer, a bunch of Californians and Hakeem Jeffries.

Mike Siegel is running for Congress in gerrymandered district that goes from Austin the the Houston exurbs. The incumbent is Trump rubber stamp Michael McCaul, the ranking Republican on the House Foreign Relations Committee-- and Trump's partner in enabling the genocide in Yemen. Since first being elected, McCaul has taken $478,100 from weapons makers. This cycle alone, McCaul has already taken $128,000 from arms manufacturers. He backs all of Trump's worst policies. Siegel, who came close to defeating him in 2018 pointed out that "Trump's threat to ignore Congress and facilitate the continuing massacre in Yemen is unconscionable and unconstitutional. I pray that Republicans and Democrats alike will take decisive action to ensure that the United States is not aiding and abetting war crimes."

Since 2012 Northrop Grumman has spent $32,163,165 bribing members of Congress with legalistic campaign contributions. Last cycle, the top recipients in the House (among those still saving in Congress) were:
Dutch Ruppersberger (D-MD)- $42,010
Don Beyer (New Dem-VA)- $30,850
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)- $25,400
Jim Langevin (D-RI)- $23,800
Steve Scalise (R-LA)- $23,475
Devin Nunes (R-CA)- $22,004
Matha Roby (R-AL)- $22,000
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)- $21,400
Pete Aguilar (New Dem-CA)- $20,042
Boeing has spent nearly the same amount on legalistic congressional bribes-- $32,578,312 since 2012. And this past cycle the top recipients in the House were:
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)- $31,250
Kim Schrier (New Dem-WA)- $27,690
Debbie Dingell (D-MI)- $17,900
Ann Wagner (R-MO)- $17,025
Martha Roby (R-AL)- $15,500
Vicky Harzler (R-MO)- $15,400
John Katko (R-NY)- $15,400
Blaine Luetkemeyer (R-MO)- $15,400
Since 2012 Lockheed Martin's congressional bribery bill has been more: $39,683,044. Top recipients in the House last cycle were:
Kay Granger (R-TX)- $131,940
Pete Visclosky (New Dem-IN)- $49,800
Roger Williams (R-TX)- $20,400
John Carter (R-TX)- $17,500
Marc Veasey (New Dem-TX)- $17,500
Steve Scalise (R-LA)- $17,000
John Larson (D-CT)- $16,200
Martha Roby (R-AL)- $15,000
Congressional bribes from General Dynamics since 2012 amounted to $23,530,163. Top recipients among House members:
Jim Langevin (D-RI)- $41,000
Joe Courtney (New Dem-CT)- $35,400
Adam Smith (New Dem-WA)- $20,700
Ken Calvert (R-CA)- $16,800
Pete Visclosky (New Dem-IN)- $16,000
Tom Graves (R-GA)- $15,400
Martha Roby (R-AL)- $15,000
Last, but not least, comes Raytheon, which spent $26,268,302 in congressional bribes since 2012. Last cycle, their biggest recipients in the House were:
Mac Thornberry (R-TX)- $36,900
Richard Neal (R-MA)- $31,650
Martha Roby (R-TX)- $16,700
Pete Visclosky (New Dem-IN)- $13,700
Jim Langevin (D-RI)- $13,250
Tom O'Halleran (Blue Dog-AZ)- $13,010
Seth Moulton (New Dem-MA)- $12,720

UPDATE: Murphy Was Right!

Disregarding the Constitution, Trump invoked a nonsensical "emergency" to sell billions of dollars of advanced weapons to the Saudis and the Emeratis. According to CNN, Pompeo formally told lawmakers Friday of the administration's plans. The overwhelming response on Capitol Hill was anger. "Once again the Trump Administration is subverting the constitutional authority of Congress," Ted Lieu told me today. "An overwhelming bipartisan bicameral message was sent that Congress opposes further U.S. support of the Saudi coalition in the war in Yemen. This includes the sale of munitions to be used in that conflict. Congress has a legitimate role to play in approving foreign arms sales-- and now the Trump Administration seeks to override Congress and sell advanced weapons to Saudi Arabia anyway."

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At 12:05 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

That the US corporations make a shit ton of money off munitions isn't a new thing.

During WWII, Sweden was providing armaments directly to Nazi Germany (along with a few hundred "volunteers" for the Waffen SS), but was also making money hand-over-gun from licencing the Bofors 40 millimeter autocannon (similar to the one Kim Jong Un used to send an uncle to the ancestors) to the various combatants of WWII. Even the Japanese were in on it.

The allegedly neutral Swiss did the same with the Oerlikon 20mm.

When the alleged "they did this" comment came from a drunken Churchill during a Blitz bombing, it was companies like this -and the banks which funded them- he was referring to.

Until it's possible to make war unprofitable, it will continue, and the corrupt governments who protect and serve the warmongers need to go as well.

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Sayeth Ro: "Congress must seize every available opportunity to stop the delivery and transfer of bombs to Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, and other coalition countries for their barbaric war in Yemen."

actually, since the cmic (note the first c is "congressional") is the openly incestuous familial nefarious relationship between war contractors and congress AND profit uber alles, he's begging for the sun to rise in the west. won't ever happen. Thus, his statement is a lie. or he's a total moron. I don't think he's a moron.

you want congress to stop selling bombs and so on to the murderous Saudis, UAE and others... you have to elect a different congress.

If you don't elect a different congress (defined as one that is not majority D+R), you can't do shit except max out profits by selling bombs to the sunnis to kill the shia (and other rebellious apostates).

trump wouldn't know a sunni from a shia. But he knows that the Saudis have provided him with a very nice living.

Then remember what Upton Sinclair said... Yep, I'm going to leave you all with quizzical looks on your gobs.

At 8:15 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"Once again the Trump Administration is subverting the constitutional authority of Congress . . ."

Once again the House democraps talk a lot while doing little with the Constitutional authority of Congress to stop "president" Buck Turgidson and his Dr StrangeBolton from taking the world to a war it can't survive.

At 1:58 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

they're not even talking very much. they're mostly staying quiet at the behest of their MIC donors.

any war will be the doing of Bolton who should never be allowed more power than that of a short-order cook or bus boy. trump, as a bully, is basically a coward with money. he's also an idiot. he'll do what Bolton tells him.

of course, we could have avoided all this back in 1980 by giving Carter another admin to try to do incremental good. but we've been far too stupid to do anything even that tepid since '80.


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