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Major General Smedley Butler

Both in the substance of his remarks and their timing Butler was both wrong and a hypocrite.  I don't think Smedley Butler is much of a person to talk about war as a racket.  The "racket" never bothered him until he didn't get to be Commandant of the United States Marine Corps.  THEN, it was a racket.  He served well and ably, I will admire him for that, but for a warrior to turn as he did, I won't respect him for that.  His racket support encompassed numerous campaigns throughout the world, from Latin America to China.  He never seemed to have much trouble with war then.  So, I'd say his problem was not with war, but with the promotion board.
 
Oh and by the way, "I believe in adequate defense at the coastline and nothing else. If a nation comes over here to fight, then we'll fight. The trouble with America is that when the dollar only earns 6 percent over here, then it gets restless and goes overseas to get 100 percent. Then the flag follows the dollar and the soldiers follow the flag.

"I wouldn't go to war again as I have done to protect some lousy investment of the bankers. There are only two things we should fight for. One is the defense of our homes and the other is the Bill of Rights. War for any other reason is simply a racket. "

Is silly. Had we followed his advice, the Nazi's might have won the war.  To the extent we DID follow this kind of thinking, "America First."  It did not prevent the Second World War it only made the resultant war longer, bloodier, and more horrific. 

As policy advice it stinks.  It was foolish and short-sighted then and its foolish and short-sighted now, Usama hates us and defending at the waterline won't work and "coming home" won't appease him.  Instead, we have to kill the dragons when and where we can.  We had the chance in Afghanistan and we have a chance in Iraq.  I think the world is better off without the Taliban and will be better off without Saddam.  I understand you don't believe Halabjah actually occurred so don't bother trying that "Saddam isn't the monster he's painted to be" tack with me.  If you want to believe that somehow this is all made up, feel free.  You are the one with the misinformation, not I.

So, quoting ole' Smedley is really silly.  A Quaker who won two Medals of Honor and only got unhappy at the END of his career and who then propounds a theory of defense that is patently foolish does not really impress me.

                                                                                          Joe Lee

Ed: Butler did admit that he didn't have independent thoughts until he left the Marines.  I like to believe that men learn as they grow older.  There are some who will question whether the USA was better off entering into World War II; it resulted in the nasty Cold war.  I find it amazing that Americans still don't realize that al Qaeda has been attacking Americans simply because our military continues to occupy two insignificant military bases in Saudi Arabia.  Few countries worry about terror attacks because they don't occupy dozens of nations with troops and bomb some on a weekly basis.

Keep'm coming! 

I've said it before, I say it again. I greatly enjoy your articles, especially on Afghanistan, OBL, Irag, etc. and the war on terrorism.  Keep'm coming!

                                                         Kees van Woerden (Netherlands)

Ed: I tell people that Iraq may turn out like Yugoslavia.  Tito was considered a brutal dictator, but after he was gone millions died as ethnic groups battled for power.  If the USA destabilizes Iraq and ethnic groups start fighting, we may wish Saddam was back crushing revolts.  After arming the Kurds for a decade, the USA will now have to disarm them.

If you read the European press on the Internet, you'll realize that our corporate media tightly controls views.  For example, the New York Times noted there was real opposition in Congress to invading Iraq, yet none of the Sunday morning talks shows (9-22-02) invited anyone who opposed the idea.

Mexican Border Firefight

I just wanted to get your opinion as to why no large media outlets or the US Government has addressed the firefight three months ago between US border patrol agents, To'hono O'oldam tribal police and six Mexican Army HMMWVs who were riding shotgun for a large DRUG shipment.  The BP agents got wind of a drop off in the Buenos Aires National Wildlife refuge North of Sasebe, AZ. When they surprised the traffickers, they were brought under heavy MG and MK-19 grenade fire from Mexican Army troops who were shadowing the shipment to the high ground to the East.  Approx. 600rds of 7.62 were fired at the agents and tribal police and over sixty 40mm grenades were fired. Ft. Huachuca EOD was sent to the wildlife refugee to dispose of 4 unexploded 40mm rounds.

This took place 12 miles inside the US border.  The BP agents involved have all been sent TDY to Dept. of Justice in Washington, DC.  My son is a BP agent in the Tucson Office.  The Arizona Daily Star had a three paragraph article on the incident, and that was the extent of coverage that I was able to find. The Mexican consulate hung up after I asked  the assistant Consul about this episode.  Any comments?

                                                                                 Name Withheld

Ed: The corporate media wants to keep cheap labor flowing across the border to drive down working class wages.  They also don't want citizens asking why our military is deployed to defend everyone around the globe except them.  Michelle Malkin did write about a Park Service ranger gunned down by an AK-47 last August.  He was hit below his bullet proof vest.  I've been told the main duty of park rangers along the border nowadays is warn citizens that the park is unsafe and insist they leave.  It's so dangerous that park rangers must wear body armor, but the people in DC insist that defending America's borders is not a role for the US Army.

Stryker Program Costs

Yesterday, I sent this query to a friend the Army about IAV-Stryker Program costs:
"...it would be nice to have ... a comparison of what the Army SAID the costs would be and what they are now."

He replied with this compact answer:
"The original bid was for $3.98 billion for 2,131 vehicles for a per vehicle cost of $1,867,667.76 per copy.  Comparing that with the present 01, 02 and 03 budget figures, we have them spending $2.889 billion for 1081 vehicles for a per vehicle cost of $2.67 million. If we use the last figure to formulate the remaining costs, we find total program costs of the vehicle and R&D to be at least $5.847 billion, a cost overrun of $3.889 billion or a cost overrun of $1.868 million per vehicle."

Not very pleasant is it?  But why aren't we hearing more about it?

                                                                                    Don Loughlin

Ed: Most Americans think its "unpatriotic" to criticize government fraud during this "war", which Donald Rumsfeld has said may never end.  The best example is that of Army Secretary Thomas White.  There is now hard evidence in the form of e-mail that White played a key role in multi-million dollar swindles.  Everyone in DC knows about it since this article appeared, but nothing happens.

New York Times               September 17, 2002

Cronies in Arms

By PAUL KRUGMAN

In February 2001 Enron presented an imposing facade, but insiders knew better: they were desperately struggling to keep their Ponzi scheme going. When one top executive learned of millions in further losses, his e-mailed response summed up the whole strategy: "Close a bigger deal. Hide the loss before the 1Q."

The strategy worked. Enron collapsed, but not before insiders made off with nearly $1 billion. The sender of that blunt e-mail sold $12 million in stocks just before they became worthless. And now he's secretary of the Army.

Dick Cheney vehemently denies that talk of war, just weeks before the midterm elections, is designed to divert attention from other matters. But in that case he won't object if I point out that the tide of corporate scandal is still rising, and lapping ever closer to his feet.

An article in yesterday's Wall Street Journal confirmed what some of us have long argued: market manipulation by energy companies - probably the same companies that wrote Mr. Cheney's energy plan, though he has defied a court order to release task force records - played a key role in California's electricity crisis. And new evidence indicates that Mr. Cheney's handpicked Army secretary was a corporate evildoer.

Mr. Cheney supposedly chose Thomas White for his business expertise. But when it became apparent that the Enron division he ran was a money-losing fraud, the story changed. We were told that Mr. White was an amiable guy who had no idea what was actually going on, that his colleagues referred to him behind his back as "Mr. Magoo." Just the man to run the Army in a two-front Middle Eastern war, right?

But he was no Magoo. Jason Leopold, a reporter writing a book about California's crisis, has acquired Enron documents that show Mr. White fully aware of what his division was up to. Mr. Leopold reported his findings in the online magazine Salon, and has graciously shared his evidence with me. It's quite damning.  The biggest of several deals that allowed Mr. White to "hide the loss" - a deal in which the documents show him intimately involved - was a 15-year contract to supply electricity and natural gas to the Indiana pharmaceutical company Eli Lilly. Any future returns from the deal were purely hypothetical. Indeed, the contract assumed a deregulated electricity market, which didn't yet exist in Indiana. Yet without delivering a single watt of power -  and having paid cash up front to Lilly, not the other way around - Mr. White's division immediately booked a multimillion-dollar profit.

Was this legal? There are certain cases in which companies are allowed to use "mark to market" accounting, in which they count chickens before they are hatched - but normally this requires the existence of a market in unhatched eggs, that is, a forward market in which you can buy or sell today the promise to deliver goods at some future date.  There were no forward markets in the services Enron promised to provide; extremely optimistic numbers were simply conjured up out of thin air, then reported as if they were real, current earnings. And even if this was somehow legal, it was grossly unethical.

If outsiders had known Enron's true financial position when Mr. White sent that e-mail, the stock price would have plummeted. By maintaining the illusion of success, insiders like Mr. White were able to sell their stock at good prices to na´ve victims - people like their own employees, or the Florida state workers whose pension fund invested $300 million in Enron during the company's final months. As Fortune's recent story on corporate scandal put it: "You bought. They sold."  It was crony capitalism at its worst. What kind of administration would keep Mr. White in office?

A story in last week's Times may shed light on that question. It concerned another company that sold a division, then declared that its employees had "resigned," allowing it to confiscate their pensions. Yet this company did exactly the opposite when its former C.E.O. resigned, changing the terms of his contract so that he could claim full retirement benefits; the company took an $8.5 million charge against earnings to reflect the cost of its parting gift to this one individual. Only the little people get shafted.  The other company is named Halliburton. The object of its generosity was Dick Cheney.

Ed:  The Bushites claim that tough new laws are needed to prevent this.  This is absurd, the racketeering and mail-wire fraud (which includes e-mail) laws are so broad that just intending to mislead someone is illegal.  The Feds routinely lock up telemarketers for years for misleading the public.  I can only guess that Ken Lay and Thomas White know something about the Bushites which provides them immunity from prosecution.