Thursday, October 7, 2010

Israel and U.S. foreign policy

How much influence does Israel and the American Israel Public Affairs Committee (AIPAC) have on U.S. foreign policy?  See the analysis given by Colin Powell's former chief of staff and William and Mary professor Colonel Wilkerson in the VPRO Backlight documentary "The Israel Lobby." Colonel Wilkerson says “There is an enormous very, very powerful machine out there that notes immediately when someone takes anti-Israel positions and moves out on the attack.” Also see the Russia Today piece on Israeli money being spent to influence U.S. media coverage.  See the book "The Israel Lobby and U.S. foreign Policy" by Harvard professor Stephen Walt and University of Chicago professor John Mearsheimer or the book by Binghampton University professor James Petras "The Power of Israel in the United States."  Colonel Wilkerson says of the Mearsheimer-Walt book "now they're right from a strictly Geo-political, Geo-strategic point of view, that is to say what I spent my life studying.  Israel no longer provides the Unites States a strategic value like it did during the cold war, not only that, Israel is a strategic burden on the United States.  That's a big difference from cold war days....  Geo-strategy, political-strategy, grand-strategy is of no consequence here.... America simply cannot say Israel you are on your own, it just wouldn't work and one of the reasons it wouldn't work is because we have a very powerful Jewish lobby in America."  Professor Mearsheimer says “the lobby, what it’s doing is going after people in a really hard hitting will pay a serious price for your transgressions.  It’s a deterrence model.”  In the Mearsheimer-Walt book the Israel lobby is considered to include conservative Christian groups along with AIPAC and other groups.  AIPAC, the pro-Israel lobby has consistently been ranked as one of the top two most influential lobbies by congress, is it just me or is it messed up that a lobby representing a foreign country is arguably the most powerful lobby in the United States?  In a 1992 recorded conversation with David Steiner, then president of AIPAC, Steiner noted that the National Security Agency was one of the two most important government institutions to AIPAC, the other being the Secretary of State.  Steiner went on to brag about over three billion dollars the U.S. was giving to Israel per year, three times more U.S. foreign aid goes to Israel per year than any other country.  Besides the foreign aid many U.S. defense department contracts are awarded to Israeli based firms.  There is also substantial Jewish influence at the National Security Agency (NSA).  From my own experience working at the NSA I would estimate that about 20% of the mathematicians at the NSA have substantial Jewish ancestry while Jews account for only 2% of the U.S. population.  Asian Americans, African Americans and Hispanic Americans are underrepresented at the NSA.  There is similar disparity in other parts of the U.S. government, for instance the supreme court is 33% Jewish (Ginsberg, Breyer, Kagan) while the remaining 66% are catholic.  There is a similar disparity at the Federal reserve and treasury(Greenspan, Rubin and Bernake have substantial Jewish heritage as well as Lawrence Summers a prominent economic adviser).  The Senate is 10% Jewish, only five times over representing the Jewish population of the U.S.  About 30% of U.S. billionaires are Jewish, nepotism is the primary method through which this inequality is maintained, there is a powerful Jewish mafia in the U.S. (here is a U.S. embassy cable on Israeli organized crime infiltrating the U.S.).   Earlier writings of Johns Hopkins university professor Benjamin Ginsberg have made similar observations to the Mearsheimer-Walt book.  Ginsberg states in his 1993 book "Fatal Embrace" that "Jews played a central role in American finance during the 1980s, and they were among the chief beneficiaries of that decade’s corporate mergers and reorganizations. Today, though barely two percent of the nation’s population is Jewish, close to half its billionaires are Jews."  The financial deregulation that started in the 1980's that triggered the corporate mergers is partially to blame for the recent financial crisisIf one looks at the thirty wealthiest U.S. citizens on Forbes 2010 wealthiest Americans list there are 12 (Larry Ellison, Michael Bloomberg, Larry Page, Sergey Brin, Sheldon Adelson, George Soros, Michael Dell, Steve Ballmer, John Paulson, Carl Icahn, Ronald Perelman, James Simons) that have substantial Jewish heritage based on publicly available information, 40%.  The most fundamental methods of fraud detection look for statistical anomalies like those outlined above.  The over representation of Jews in positions of power cannot be explained by educational attainment, Jews have about twice the college graduation rates of the general U.S. population.  27% of the U.S. population hold a bachelor degree or higher while about 55% of U.S. Jews do.   On the Program for International Student Assessment (PISA) tests Israel, a country that is 75% Jewish scores substantially below the U.S. which itself has mediocre results.  Mother Jones magazine compiled a listing of the 400 leading contributors to the 2000 US national elections. Seven of the first ten were Jewish, as were twelve of the top 20, and 125 of the top 250.  The Bush administration had an extreme pro-Israel position, Dick Cheney and many others in the Bush administration were on JINSA's board, a pro-Israel group.  Why is the U.S. foreign policy so important to Jews?  Because the vast majority of the Jewish population of the world is either in the U.S. or in Israel and Israel does have serious security issues.  Israel is 6 million Jews surrounded by 300 million Muslims in the middle east and those Muslims tend to be a little upset over the strategies used by the Jews to found the state of Israel (see Arab-Israeli conflict and the Palestinian perspective) and the U.S. has the most powerful military in the world.

VPRO backlight 'the Israel Lobby'

wikipedia article on Israel lobby

Quotes about Israel by world leaders

Also see Jane Harman, U.S. congresswoman, who was taped making a deal with the Israel lobby to influence the "Justice" department on the Lawrence Franklin espionage case. Franklin was found guilty of passing top secret classified documents about U.S. policy on Iran to Israel and sentenced to over 12 years in prison. His sentence was later reduced to only 10 months house arrest.  Bradley Manning on the other hand is only accused of handing over secret documents, no top secret ones, to wikileaks and yet is facing far more severe punishment and his motives are arguably to expose illegal acts rather than to aid a foreign power.  A clear example of double standards in the U.S. "justice" system.  How much control does AIPAC have over the U.S. justice system? 


Economic Hitman

Here is an interview with John Perkins author of 'Confessions of an Economic Hit man,' former chief economist and partner at Chas. T. Main and founder of Independent Power Systems, an energy company he later sold.  Perkins explains the strategies the U.S. has used in which he has been involved like massive predatory loans from the world bank and assassination all with the aim of controlling foreign governments and extracting resources from foreign countries.

Perkins interview

Perkins Interview 2


"It should be pretty obvious to people what they are doing, as it should be pretty obvious to everyone in this country where our tax dollars are going....The system is built on an assumption that the people at the top are all corruptible."  If a leader at the top is not corruptible they are assassinated, if an employee of a contractor is unwilling to help implement the corruption he is fired.  Coercion by bribe or threat of violence, the American way.  


"It is difficult to get a man to understand something, when his salary depends upon his not understanding it!" Upton Sinclair 


The U.S. does large scale wiretapping in Latin America, for instance see this wikileaks cable from the Panama embassy about the struggle for control of the DEA's Matador wiretap room in Panama. This cable has everything, a huge cluster-fuck of Israeli security firms, Drugs and the CIA.  The U.S. government has used heavy handed strategies against its own citizens as well, see the Democracy Now peace on the FBI raiding the homes of anti-war activists.  The U.S. has implemented a large number of automatic license plate readers for police cars as well as at intersections and the FBI has car GPS trackers as well as cell phone tracking equipment for when it can't get the information it needs from the cell phone carrier.  There are also some issues with the NSA warrant-less wiretapping and NSA domestic call database.  Realistically, even if a warrant is required the NSA has plenty of friendly judges willing to sign warrants when asked, it is not that strong an oversight.  Also, while working at the NSA, a coworker noted that U.K.'s GCHQ can, by U.K. law, perform surveillance on U.S. citizens without a warrant and the U.K. shares that intelligence with the U.S., the English speaking countries have a cozy intelligence sharing agreement, sometimes called "five eyes."   There would be no problem with all this surveillance if the U.S. implemented a reasonable justice system, unfortunately it does not, as is pointed out in Glen Greenwald's book "Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful."  It is a good thing when the government uses its surveillance to catch crooks (as with tax fraud or insider trading), the problem is not that the U.S. does a lot of surveillance, the problem is that the U.S. government acts criminally.  One method of decreasing the criminality in the government is to decrease secrecy in the government.  They look into what we do, ok, but we should be able to look into what they do more effectively, less secrecy in the government and military.  There will always be a biggest guy on the block so it’s best if that guy is intelligent, honest, decent, transparent and is accountable to the voter (note that secrecy in the derivatives market was partially to blame for the financial crisis).  After all, search engine companies, telecom companies and financial companies have large data centers full of information about U.S. citizens.  It is not a good idea to let private companies have more information about U.S. citizens than does the U.S. government, otherwise you end up with the corporations running the show, Government Sachs


And seriously, why has no one been held accountable for essentially lying to the U.S. people about the rationale for the Iraq war?  It is difficult to understand why lying to the American people on such an important issue is not considered treason against the United States.  With such a massive military intelligence budget there should not be such fundamental intelligence mistakes.  The weapons of mass destruction that figured so prominently in the initial rationale have proved to not exist even according to the official Pentagon-CIA study.  Not to mention the fact that the U.S. helped arm Iraq during the Iran-Iraq war.  



the documentary 'Why We Fight' 


U.S. oil production peaked in 1970.  In 1977 the Carter administration told America "all of us must learn to waste less energy. Simply by keeping our thermostats, for instance, at 65 degrees in the daytime and 55 degrees at night we could save half the current shortage of natural gas."  Then, in 1980 Reagan won the White House basically on a platform of lets burn up the foreign oil first (along with financial deregulation).  To put this in a good light one can note that the U.S. has burnt up a large percentage of non-renewable world resources, basically fossil fuels, without growing its population too much, decreasing the future possibility of a Malthusian squeeze (also see China's one child policy).  The U.S. has also burnt it up without engaging in mass killings on the scale of WWII, at least up to this point (war machines run on oil).  It seems likely that the world is now close to peak conventional oil production.   

Top Secret America

The Washington Post series on Top Secret America points out there are about 850,000 people in the U.S. with top secret security clearances, which is about the same as the number of physicians in the U.S. or half the number of U.S. citizens who work for Walmart. One person with a top security clearance for every 350 people in the U.S.  Also, there are over 10,000 locations where top secret work takes place, approximately the same as the number of Starbucks locations in the U.S.  Note that of all the Iraq, Afghanistan and embassy cable leaks presented by wikileaks  the highest classification is secret, none of them are top secret.


Washington Post article on 'top secret America' 


A top secret security clearance is often required for jobs related to the methods of collecting intelligence or the design of advanced weapons systems which tend to be technology jobs with good salaries.  Compare the 850,00 U.S. citizens with top secret security clearance to the substantial overestimate of 768,700 total number of U.S. employees of IBM, HP, Oracle, Intel, AMD, Apple, yahoo, amazon, cisco, Alcatel-Lucent, motorola, Facebook, Microsoft, texas instruments, Cray and Google combined (it is difficult to get numbers for U.S. employment of most companies, the Bureau of Labor Statistics does not publish them, most likely a result of pressure to not publish politically sensitive statistics from the multinational corporations).  The defense department tech employment dwarfs the commercial U.S. tech industry employment, U.S. military spending is about one trillion dollars a year, about 25% of the U.S. federal budget.  As another example the Boeing Company, which is the only major commercial aircraft manufacturer in the U.S., is also a major defense contractor, half of the companies revenue comes from defense contracts.  The defense contracts of a single company, Boeing, are basically as large as the entire U.S. commercial aircraft manufacturing sector and commercial aircraft manufacture is one of the few commercial industries that the U.S. still competes well in internationally.  Also note that many of the employees in the U.S. commercial tech sector either have H1-B visas, visas for specialty occupations (often tech), or are working on defense department contracts or other government contracts.  Here is a leaked video of a legal conference on fraudulent strategies to disqualify U.S. citizens for work so that it becomes legally open to cheaper H1-B applicants, of course no one is punished for implementing the fraud.  Most H1-B visas last between 3 and 6 years.  Over the last ten years the number of H1-B visas granted per year have been between 65,000 and 195,000.  So a reasonable lower bound estimate for H1-B visa employment is 300,000, a pretty good chunk of U.S. tech employment.  Basically the deal for U.S. tech workers is, don't complain too much about off shoring and H1-B visas and you get insulated government jobs like those requiring a security clearance.  U.S. tech workers are finding it increasingly difficult to compete with Chinese and Indian engineers, in a 2005 study (congressional testimony) it is estimated that India and China combined graduated over three times the number of engineers as the U.S. in 2004.  These engineers have a much lower salary target than U.S. engineers.  Another sobering statistic is that according to a Forbes article by a retired Lockheed Martin CEO, Norm Augustine, 70% of U.S. engineering phD students are foreign born In China, eight of the top nine political posts are held by engineers. In the U.S., almost no engineers or scientists are engaged in high-level politics, it is primarily MBA's and lawyers in those positions. In case you didn't know lawyer is Latin for liar. The U.S. wins on natural resources per capita, China wins on brain power.  A big problem with government tech jobs from the U.S. tech workers perspective is substantial fraud in the government tech industry and religious influence on the military.


For examples of government tech contracts see IBM's contracts for the supercomputers at national labs Los Alamos, Lawrence Livermore and Argonne.  My focus is information technology, you could also look into the big weapon systems contracts like the F22 and F35.  Some of the supercomputer contracts are at least partially managed by the National Security Agency.  IBM system S (50 million estimate) was developed substantially by money from the NSA, called distillery internally.  One might speculate that IBM was interested in getting the NSA hooked on IBM proprietary software in order to extract much more revenue in the future, this is a very common strategy in the software industry, basically get them hooked on your crack and you have a great future revenue stream.  Note that IBM was founded on a government contract for the tabulating machines to compute the 1890 census.  Oracle has substantial contracts at the National Security Agency (NSA).  Oracle was founded on a CIA contract in 1977.  Sun Microsystems (bought by Oracle) was founded to commercialize two DARPA funded projects which turned into the solaris operating system (based on darpa's BSD project which is also at the heart of Apple's OSX) and the SUN project.  In fact much of Silicon valley was built by the DOD post world war two.  Currently, silicon valley is facing a major crisis as the engine of its growth, Moore's law, is petering out (some comments on the issue by Gordon Moore, co founder of Intel and the Moore of Moore's law).  Cray computer's MTA/XMT line was substantially funded by NSA contracts over a 20 year period and is a machine built without a purpose.  The vast majority of U.S. tech jobs that are truly open to U.S. citizens (not fraudulently targeted at cheaper H1-B visa holders) are controlled by defense contracts or other federal contracts.  Often times these contracts have very little to do with performance and more to do with corruption, with a revolving door policy at the pentegan and DOD (80% of retiring 3 and 4 star generals 2004-2008 got lucrative contractor jobs, in particular check out the revolving door man Mike McConnell) that is similar to the regulatory capture in the U.S. financial sector.  Classifying a contract so that it is not open to public scrutiny is a very common way to cover up corruption.  See the NPR piece on the 20 million the military spent on bogus contracts with Dennis Montgomery for what he claimed was software that could decode hidden terrorist communication, no one has spent time in jail as a result of this fraud.  While I worked at the NSA I witnessed similar abuse.  For instance I was at some of the meetings discussing the vivomind project (1-2 million estimate) which was clearly bogus, in the meetings there was substantial misrepresentation of fact, false claims of having won contracts from oil companies.  There were also rumors at the NSA that one of the major reasons for the failure of the future combat systems program which cost tens of billions of dollars was the NSA demanding the use of specialized cryptographic equipment so that favored contractors would share in the very lucrative contracts, unfortunately their products were nearly unusable.  The future combat systems program was eventually canceled, the primary contractors were Boeing and SAIC.  Also see how the "Justice" department handled Thomas Drake whistlblowing about mismanagment at the NSA.  For other examples of fraud in defense contracting see the BAE bribery case (billions), Frontline's black money episodeBoeing Air Force tanker fraud (billions), Halliburton-KBR bribery(6 billion)Siemens bribery case(billions), SAIC Trailblazer contract fraud(1 billion), SAIC's FBI information system fraud(170 million), SAIC New York City CityTime fraud(700 million).  Lots of fraud with basically no accountability and this is likely just the tip of the defense department fraud iceberg.  The trailblazer project demonstrates that the federal government has willfully neglected to learn that a very competitive information system can be built very cost effectively using commodity hardware and open source software, lessons taught by google, facebook etc.  The reason the Federal government refuses to learn this lesson is the power of the contractor ecosystem in federal government contracts, basically regulatory capture which is what Obama's outgoing Chief Information Officer (CIO) has indicated.  CIO Vivek Kundra complained of "an IT cartel," (IBM, SAIC, Booze Allen, Oracle), Kundra managed $80 billion in federal IT annual spending.  Kundra said the reason the federal system "defied logic" is partly due to how funding is allocated.  The "cartel" gamed the system.  Kundra also noted "that true value lies at the intersection of multiple data sets."  The information sharing problem in the federal government has been noted before, for example in the 9-11 commission report.   Better information management and information sharing could improve fraud detection in the defense industry as well as fraud detection in the U.S. financial sector.


NPR on Dennis Montgomery DOD fraud 


 NYTimes on Dennis Montgomery DOD fraud


Bogus vivomind project  


Here is a good documentary on the mismanagement of the Iraq war called "No End In Sight" by Charles Ferguson.


No End In Sight part 1 

 No End In Sight part 2 

No End In Sight part 3  


It is costing the U.S. about 80 billion a year for the war in Afghanistan. The GDP of Afghanistan is about 15 billion. There are about 35k Taliban. So the war costs the U.S. about 2 million per Taliban per year while the average Taliban makes about $500 per year. Our country is run by true geniuses.



Company   employment

IBM            105,000  (U.S. employment which is 25% of IBM's 400k worldwide employment)

Microsoft    56,000  (U.S. employment)

HP              100,000 (estimate U.S. employment based on similar sized multinational IBM and the fact that HP had 68k U.S. employees in 1999)

Google        23,000 (worldwide employment)

Intel             83,500 (worldwide employment)

AMD           10,400 (worldwide employment)

Oracle          105,000 (worldwide employment)

Apple          49,500 (worldwide employment)

Amazon       31,500 (worldwide employment)

Yahoo         14,000 (worldwide employment)

Cisco           70,700 (worldwide employment)

Alcatel-Lucent 30,500

motorola      60,000 (worldwide employment)

Facebook     1,700

Cray               800

Texas Instruments  27,100 (worldwide employment)

total             768,700

Thomas Drake and Defense Department Mismanagment

Here are some articles about Thomas Drake who's getting attacked by the "justice" department for exposing corruption at the National Security Agency (NSA). Drake worked on improving information management at the NSA and when he was pushed aside he tried to expose the corruption and mismanagement and is now being prosecuted, the U.S. "justice" system is a farce.  In particular Drake is accused of being the source of the articles in the Baltimore Sun about trailblazer, a project costing at least one billion led by the contractor SAIC that failed.  SAIC has a revolving door policy with the defense department, several high ups in the DOD cash in as board members of SAIC, introducing substantial conflicts of interest.  See also the leaked information about mismanagement of the electric power supply at the NSA.  The NSA has been dealing with regular power outages as a result of severe mismanagement of its power supply.  U.S. military intelligence is a joke.  Keeping U.S. military intelligence stupid is a good strategy for anyone trying to manipulate the U.S. military, it is easier to manipulate a stupid thing than a smart one.  Information management is very important for the intelligence of an institution.  Bad information management is a good way to keep an institution stupid.  Who wants to keep military intelligence stupid?  Anyone who wants to manipulate the U.S. military, Israel come to mind?  From personal experience working at the NSA I can corroborate the lack of capability in information management at the NSA.  There is open source software (ie hadoop, basically an open source copy of some of googles infrastructure management software, it is useful for doing statistics on very large data sets) and standard information management techniques that outperforms anything at the NSA.   Why is the NSA so out of date?  The systemic lack of good information management in the U.S. government has been noted before, for example it was a focus of the 9-11 commission report.

 According to Jesselyn Radack homeland security director of the government accountability project "The Thomas Drake case is hugely significant. I’m glad it’s finally being put under a microscope and looked at for the farce that it is. It has huge implications that the Obama administration is not only prosecuting whistleblowers, but doing so under the Espionage Act, which is meant to go after spies, not whistleblowers. And it’s even more ironic because this is coming from an administration whose mantra is to look forward, not backwards at torture and warrantless wiretapping. But apparently it’s willing to look backwards at the people who blew the whistle on precisely that kind of wrongdoing."  


 60 minutes Drake interview


 Jesselyn Radack interview on democracy now.


New Yorker article on Drake 


Washington Post on Drake


Greenwald on Drakes prosecution


Whistle blower prosecutions by Obama 


Religion in Military intelligence

An NPR piece on the increasing conservative Christian influence over U.S. politics and the U.S. military. There is similar religious influence at the National Security Agency. Military intelligence is influenced by this kind of thing. The U.S. is a scary country.


 NPR interview with C street author


"...there is a very significant movement within [the military] which sees the military as a Christian institution. They see themselves as Christian warriors. They see themselves as responsible for protecting and defending America's tradition as a Christian nation and representing that overseas."  The U.S. military as a Christian institution has been true for some time, for instance the 'don't ask, don't tell' policy has roots in the beliefs espoused by organized religion in the U.S.  Right wing Christians tend to be very opposed to a large federal government but very supportive of military spending which is at least 25% of the federal budget, this self contradiction is explained by the fact that the U.S. military is essentially a christian organization.  Another 49% of the federal budget is taken up by medicare, medicaid, social security and to finance interest on the national debt, not much left for all those hedonist organizations the Christians hate.  Also see the aliance between conservative christian groups and Israel.

U.S. defense budget


Erik Prince, founder of Blackwater and numerous other DOD contractors working in the Middle East views himself as a christian crusader.  According to Jeremy Scahill author of the bestselling book Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army "We can look at documents submitted in federal court cases from Prince’s own former employees, who say that he is—he views himself as a Christian crusader whose role in the world is wiping out Muslims and Islam in general."  Clearly the powers that be in the U.S. military who determine funding in defense contracts sympathize with this mentality.


Interview of Jeremy Scahill 

 Democracy Now on Christianity in the U.S. military


Note also the 2003 University of Minnesota study that finds atheists are the least trusted group in the U.S.  "atheists rank below several other minority groups, including immigrants, gays and lesbians, conservative Christians, Jews and Muslims, as 'least likely to share everyday Americans' vision of society.'" 

Zionist Terrorism

The King David Hotel bombing, the second most deadly act of terrorism carried out in the middle east, killed 91 people. The hotel bombing was carried out by a pro-zionist organization, the Irgun, targeting the British. The leader of the Irgun, Menachem Begin, was a later Prime Minister of Israel. Israel was founded on terrorism.  Note also that 1987-present over five times as many Palestinians civilians have been killed during the Israel-Palestinian conflict as Israelis.  Most of the military campaigns Israel has been involved in (six-day war, Yom Kippur war) had similarly lopsided death tolls.


"The terrorist is the one with the small bomb." Brendan Behan



wikipedia article on King David hotel bombing

Also see the Israeli Nukes issue.  Mordechai Vanunu spent 18 years in an Israeli prison after being abducted in Italy by the Israeli's for revealing information about Israel's nuclear weapons stockpile to the British press in 1986. Israel has at least 50 nuclear weapons in its stockpile yet even the thought of Iran getting a nuclear weapon is unacceptable to the U.S. This is one of the levers of power that the six million jews of Israel have over the 300 million Muslims in the middle east, another lever of power is the Israel lobby in the U.S.  Why does the U.S. let Israel control its foreign policy and media?  Because 30% of the billionaires in the U.S. are Jewish while they only make up 2% of the U.S. population.


Vanunu wikipedia article


Also see the Palestinian perspective on the Israel-Palestine conflict.  According to this Brookings Institute poll in 2010 57% of the population of the Middle East would see Iran acquiring nuclear weapons as a positive development while less than 20% view the Obama administration favorably.  Another major concern for Israel's security is its control over the regions water supply.  Israel controls over 80% of the water in the region.

water in the Middle East


How U.S. compares to Iran, China and Russia

Here are some U.N. and Cambridge statistics (reasonably reputable institutions so hopefully the data is somewhat accurate) collected on wikipedia that compare the U.S. with Iran and China.  Also the Gini income inequality index from CIA factbook, higher score means more income disparity. These statistics represent a basic metric one might use to judge a governments success or failure at addressing issues important to their populations. 

Homicide rate per 100,000: U.S. 5.4 Iran 2.93 china 1.2 Russia 15 India 2.8  Countries by homicide rate
Incarceration rate per 100,000: U.S. 754 Iran 222 China 119 Russia 582 India 32 countries by incarceration rate
Police officers per 100,000:  U.S. 279  Iran 54 China 148  Russia 976 India 130 countries by police per capita
percent GDP spent on military: U.S. 4.7% Iran 2.9% China 2% Russia 4.3 India 2.8% % GDP on defense list 
Gini index of income inequality: U.S. 45   Iran 44.5  China 41.5 Russia 42.2 India 36.8 more info on income inequality
net international investment position as a percentage of GDP: U.S. -17% Iran ?(only 4% external debt) China +37.1% Russia +17.9% India -10.3% countries by net international investment
Suicide rate per 100,000: U.S. 11.1 Iran ?(Middle East has a low rate) China 13.85(1999 data) Russia 23.5 India 10.6  countries by suicide rate per capita

Of U.S., Iran, China and India the U.S. has by far the most homicides per capita, by far the highest incarceration rate and police per capita, by far the highest percent of GDP spent on the military, highest suicides per capita (except China but this is 1999 data), highest income inequality and worst international investment position as a percent of GDP.  This does not stop George W. Bush from declaring Iran part of the "axis of evil."  That declaration had more to do with the Israel lobby than anything else.  Of the five countries compared only Russia has more homicides, suicides and police per capita than the U.S. (Russian crime increased dramatically after the fall of the Soviet Union) but the U.S. has a higher incarceration rate, percent of GDP spent on defense and more income inequality than Russia as well as a worse international investment position.  The United States in 2009 spent at least 661 billion on the military while the total world military spending was $1531 billion, the U.S. accounts for nearly half of all world military spending.  Who is the police state?  Does this not indicate glaring hypocrisy in the U.S. government and culture? The European Union will also beat the U.S. on virtually all of these measures, the only major regions that the U.S. compares favorably with is South America and Africa, not exactly high standards.  The U.S. education system is decidedly mediocre and the list goes on, the U.S. healthcare system produces a higher infant mortality rate and lower life expectancy than basically every industrialized nation while costing twice as much.  The U.S. spends more as a percentage of GDP (16%) than any other member of the U.N. but get much worse results than most industrialized countries in terms of infant mortality (41st in the world) and life expectancy (46th in the world).  Industrialized countries tend to spend a little under 10% of GDP on health care. 31% of our health care dollars go to administrative costs and we have the highest paid doctors in the world  Voter turnout in the U.S. is extremely low compared with other nations, clearly our commitment to democracy is basically non-existent.  The one area in which the U.S. does not suck donkey balls is GDP per capita, primarily because the U.S. has a lot of resources per capita (coal, oil shale and arable land) and it was one of the earliest countries to industrialize, that and we can use our military to demand tribute.  The U.S. also has a massively fraudulent financial industry that it uses to extort money.  The U.S. has the massive advantage of the highest GDP per capita of any major nation yet astoundingly bad results for its citizens, the elite of the U.S. care vary little for the welfare of the U.S. population but they do seem to care about the security of Israel

Another event where the U.S. excels is at making war around the globe.  According to an article by Harvard professor Stephen Walt 288,000 is a low ball estimate for the number of Muslims killed by the U.S. in the last 30 years while Muslims have killed only 10,325 U.S. citizens. 

"The terrorist is the one with the small bomb." Brendan Behan

Stephen Walt on why Muslims hate the U.S.

How the U.S. sedates its citizens to the government hypocrisy is illustrated in the documentary on U.S. media and propaganda "War Made Easy."

War Made Easy

"We Americans are the ultimate innocents. We are forever desperate to believe that this time the government is telling us the truth." Sydney Schanberg

It is worth noting that in their first speech in power Hitler and Goebbels had similar observations about the mismanagement of Germany, corruption and use of media for propaganda.  Of course, while initially Hitler's leadership was a boon to the German economy, his leadership ended badly for the Germans. 

"The past does not repeat itself, but it rhymes."--Mark Twain

"The hero of my tale, whom I love with all the power of my soul, whom I have tried to portray in all his beauty, who has been, is, and will be beautiful, is Truth."--Leo Tolstoy


Here is a good interview with Julian Assange, the most public member of wikileaks, from Ted Talks.  U.S. national security needs wikileaks to help prevent misuse of secrecy in our government and military contractor corruption.


Assange interview


 After posting the collateral murder videos of U.S. Apache helicopters killing journalists and civilians in Iraq, the U.S. government has attacked wikileaks and their sources.  The U.S. government has frozen the bank accounts of wikileaks by putting the organization on a blacklist. Expose U.S. government corruption and the U.S. will grab your money and put you in a box. Assange has been denied residency in Sweden and Bradley Manning who likely was the source of the collateral murder video and Afganistan war documents is in prison.  The FBI has been harassing people trying to support Manning by raising funds for legal fees.


collateral murder video


U.S. using financial warfare against wikileaks


Greenwald on wikileaks 


The Obama administration has prosecuted more U.S. citizens for government leaks than the last three presidential administrations combined.  Not exactly the 'change' or 'transparency' that Obama promised.  See the Democracy now piece interviewing Dan Elsberg, the source who leaked the pentagon papers on the Vietnam war.  The interview covers the 400,000 iraq war documents released:


Dan Elsberg and democracy now on wikileaks 

A good article on how important wikileaks is for U.S. foreign policy by Stephen Walt of Harvard:

Stephen Walt on why we need wikileaks 


Assange presents the solution to Wikileaks. In a world where whistleblowers are protected through a 'proper mechanism for accountability,' Wikileaks would not have to be a conduit to get information out to the public." Why the U.S. needs wikileaks is because of the unchecked corruption in its government and large corporations which has been made evident recently by the financial crisis, Enron and Jack Abramoff and military contractor coruption..

Government accountability


Assange has pointed out one problem with their current model of leaking documents.  Only a small number of documents related to Israel have been published so far because newspapers in the West that have exclusive rights to publish the material were hesitant to publish sensitive information about Israel, Israel has vast lobbying power in the U.S.  This unfortunately will continue to be a huge problem for WikiLeaks and other whistleblower groups. By giving the main stream media exclusive rights to the leak info.
Assange on western media holding back Israeli document leaks 



Another thing the wikileaks fiasco indicates is how bad U.S. military information security is, how one army private could leak so much classified information is more evidence that U.S. military intelligence is a contradiction in terms, they do not have very good security in their information system.  One interesting side note is that a key component of the wikileaks anonymizing software, the tor project, was initially funded by U.S. Naval Research Lab.



Middle East Wars

The Americas have at least three trillion barrels of oil equivalent in unconventional reserves (oil shale, oil sands and coal) all of these can be converted to oil and much of them are convertible to oil at current market price. Iraq, Iran and Saudi Arabia combined have 500 billion barrels of oil reserves.  Conventional oil producers have a history of overstating their reserves in order to improve their clout while unconventional oil production has only been done on relatively small scale until recently primarily because it was not price competitive.  If even half of the unconventional oil in the America's is recoverable at a market price of $80 a barrel then the Americas have at least three times as much recoverable oil as the middle east.  At the current rate of world consumption of 85 million barrels a day or 31 billion barrels a year, 500 billion barrels would last less than 18 years.  Canada has been increasing its oil production from oil sands in the last few years, it is currently producing at least 1.5 million barrels per day from oil sands (one snag is the supply of fresh water which is used in the oil sands process but there is the option of salt water desalination).  The U.S. imports more oil from Canada than any other country, Mexico is number two.  Canada, Mexico and Venezuela are three of the top four oil exporting countries to the U.S., Saudi Arabia is the only country from the middle east in the top eight oil exporting countries to the U.S.  See the wikipedia article on oil sands:


oilsands on wikipedia


the DOE on oil imports 


oil reserves by country 


oil reserves Venezuela 


 Oil reserves Canada


wikileaks on how few Iraqi oil contracts go to U.S. firms 


The biggest oil sand deposits in the world are in Canada and Venezuela and the largest coal and oil shale deposits are in the United States.  We did not go to war over oil, it was for the security of Israel.  The timing of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars had more to do with the Bush administrations worries about the security of Israel and the end of cheap oil and hence the end of U.S. strategic interest in the middle east than Bush administration worries about terrorism: see the guardian articles on overestimates of Saudi reserves.  Here is a wikileaks cable with similar info.  Note that between 1986 and 2003 crude oil prices averaged less than $30 a barrel after accounting for inflation but between 2004 and 2010 oil prices have averaged over $60 a barrel despite the largest world wide recession since the great depression.  This price increase has been attributed to 'peak oil', the point of the maximum production rate of oil from conventional (cheap) oil sources.  The U.S. went from the gold standard to the oil standard, this is the end of the oil standard or at least the end of the oil standard at $30 a barrel (inflation adjusted).  Really, the oil standard makes a lot more sense than the gold standard because oil is a much more important input into the economy.


historic oil prices 


peak oil on wikipedia 


radford professor on oil reserves 


The Americas do not have large proven reserves of natural gas in comparison to other regions (Russia has the largest reserves) but the U.S. does have other technically recoverable reserves, see here for an example (note that the proven reserves list on wikipedia is in cubic meters while the EIA numbers are in cubic feet, divide by 35 to go from cubic feet to cubic meters).  The technically recoverable reserves have become more economical with improvement in extraction techniques such as hydraulic fracturing.  Ocean floor methane may be extractable one day.  Also note that liquified petroleum gas is produced in the refining process and can be used in the natural gas infrastructure.  Although only a small part of the energy picture something to note is that the U.S. and Brazil are the primary ethanol producers, another transportation fuel.    The U.S. is in a very strong position in terms of fossil fuel resources at prices north of $80 a barrel for oil which begs the question why is the U.S. government spending trillions of dollars on military intervention in the Middle East rather than on developing its own resources?  A big part of the answer is Israeli influence on U.S. foreign policy.  

  CO2 emissions and global warming is another worry for use of fossil fuels but this would just give another reason to disengage from the Middle East.  It is interesting to note that based on available data today CO2 accounts for 0.04% of the earths atmosphere or 400ppm which is about 100ppm above normal.  Estimates for global warming over the next hundred years range between 2-6 degrees C although it seems debatable how reliable modeling such a complicated system is.  The normal ice age cycle has drops of 10 degrees C and drops of 100ppm in atmosphere CO2 concentration but over a much longer time frame, thousands of years instead of hundreds of years.  Geoengineering might also mitigate some of the problem, for example iron fertilization of the ocean to sequester CO2 , the ocean is a huge store of carbon, there are 38,000 gigatonnes of carbon in the ocean compared to 750 gigatonnes in the atmosphere.  Decaying plant material releases 220 gigatonnes of CO2 (60 gigatonnes of carbon) each year while the burning of fossil fuels released 32 gigatonnes of CO2 (9 gigatonnes of carbon), CO2 has about three times the mass of carbon.  Another geoengineering technique is injecting sulfur into the stratosphere which can have a cooling effect similar to large volcanic eruptions.   The geoengineer has more tools than just reducing CO2 output in his toolbox.  

In case you are worried about the ultra long term energy picture you can note that using breeder reactors, enough fissile nuclear fuel can be produced to satisfy world energy demand for thousands of years and breeder reactors produce less waste material than conventional nuclear reactors.  Nuclear and solar are really the only two options that can replace our current energy consumption levels.


Tax Recipt

A graphic of where the 3.7 trillion U.S. tax dollars will go in the 2012 U.S. federal budget from the New York Times. At least 25% goes to military related activity, that's at least 900 billion dollars a year, Wikipedia gives a figure of between 1.01 and 1.35 trillion for the 2010 U.S. military expenditure.  This link gives an idea of where some of that money is going.  Military related spending includes veterans affairs and the military retirement plan which is not included in the defense section of the budget.  Also note that the homeland security budget is not included in defense section of the budget as well as the fact that the foreign aid budget is very often sent to countries (Israel, egypt) with stipulations that they spend the foreign aid on U.S. made military equipment.  There is also the budget for the National Nuclear Security administration that manages the nations nuclear weapon stockpile that is not included in the defense section of the budget.  So the military is into the old bring it in through the back door technique, kinky.  The United States in 2009 spent at least $661 billion on the military while the total world military spending was $1531 billion, the U.S. accounts for nearly half of all world military spending.  Here are some statistics comparing other nations with the U.S.


NYTimes 2012 proposed federal budget graphic


Wikipedia on U.S. military budget 



"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.... 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 -- you and I, and our government -- must avoid the impulse to live only for today, plundering for our own ease and convenience the precious resources of tomorrow. We cannot mortgage the material assets of our grandchildren without risking the loss also of their political and spiritual heritage. We want democracy to survive for all generations to come, not to become the insolvent phantom of tomorrow."  

Dwight D. Eisenhower's farewell address


13 Bankers vs. Brooksley Born

In the book 13 Bankers by MIT professor Simon Johnson and James Kwak it is noted that it costs five times as much, after accounting for inflation, then in 1974 to win a seat in the House of Representatives, about $1,250,000.  Banking industry profits are three times the percentage of total corporate profits that they were in 1980. In 1980 average total compensation in the banking sector was the same as that of the private sector, now it is twice that of the private sector. It is argued in 13 Bankers that much of this is a result of 30 years of deregulation, in particular Brooksley Born's loss to Greenspan, Rubin and Summers over the regulation of derivatives.  Johnson and Kwak term the financial industries control of the people who regulate the financial industry 'regulatory capture,' another term for it is the fox guarding the hen house.  The explosion in use of financial derivatives has also been credited with creating an unstable financial system, Warren Buffet has said "derivatives are financial weapons of mass destruction."  Financial derivatives are essentially insurance policies on the prices of things traded on a market like for instance the stock market or the commodities market but unlike traditional insurance policies where the insurer is strictly required to have substantial assets to back the liability and the holder must be insuring a liability, derivative issuers have much less regulation.  One of the reason often given for lax regulation of derivatives is that the complex mathematical models and hedging strategies used by the financial companies are self regulating and too complicated for the government to understand, unfortunately the assumptions of the mathematical models don't always hold, for instance assumptions on low volatility, and financial companies are known to take advantage of their adversaries lack of knowledge.  Secrecy in the derivatives market (over the counter derivatives means secrecy) created a situation where no one knew which financial institutions were solvent.  A good documentary on the situation is given in Frontlines 'the Warning.'  Also see the documentary 'Inside Job.'      See the 'Basline Scenario' blog by authors of 13 Bankers.

It is common for Wall Street firms to hire PhD's in mathematics or physics who's primary purpose it is to dazzle potential clients with bullshit, disguising a situation with complicated mathematical modeling when a more down to earth measure of risk would be appropriate and at times more accurate.  As Warren Buffett says "beware of geeks bearing formulas."  Here is an article with input from nobel laureate Joseph Stiglitz on the need to put U.S. bankers in prison as a result of all this and the corruption in the U.S. government that has prevented that from happening.

This has resulted in the largest income inequality in the last 100 years in the U.S. and to the fact that the top 5% of households hold more assets than the bottom 95% and the top 1% hold more assets than the bottom 90%.  There is worse income inequality than in Iran, China or Russia.  According to the CIA world factbook the Gini index of income inequality for the four countries are U.S. 45, Iran 44.5, China 41.5 Russia 42.2 where a higher Gini score indicates higher income inequality within the population.  

How income inequality is maintained

NYtimes on our Hedge fund republic

Wealth in America data

To see other ways that the United kleptocracy of America is maintained see the story of the whistle blower Mark Whitacre and the ADM price fixing fraud.  Also see the case of whistle blower Bradley Birkenfeld and the U.S. tax evasion fraud that netted the IRS 780 million, in both cases the whistle blower is the one to do the majority of the jail time.  As FBI agent Herndon who broke the ADM price fixing case says corporate corruption is "more typical than we realize."  This doesn't even open the defense department corruption can of worms.

The law makers of the United States have been complicit with the banking industry, passing financial deregulation bills over the last 25 years, see the savings and loan crisis for an earlier example of deregulation gone awry.  Another recent example of law maker fraud is Jack Abramoff, one of the most prominent congressional fundraisers and lobbyists, who extorted his funds from Indian casinos and sweat shops by providing friendly legislation to those who paid.  Abramoff did less than six years in prison.  Why has the punishment been so lenient for people stealing millions or billions of dollars?

Abramoff documentary: Casino Jack and the United States of Money

The executive branch is also in on the deal, the SEC has demonstrated its incompetence many times over when it comes to corporate crime.  Where was the SEC when Enron implemented it's massive accounting fraud?  The SEC had been warned of both Bernard Madoff's and Allen Stanford's ponzi schemes many times yet did nothing.  Who is keeping the SEC stupid?  Possibly the vary people who carry out the fraud, for example Bernard Madoff.  Madoff was convicted of the largest ponzi scheme in world history, he was a co-founder and CEO of NASDAQ, the largest U.S. exchange.  Madoff had plenty of leverage over U.S. financial regulators.  It's easier to play poker with idiots and often times Wall Street is playing poker with the federal government so it is in Wall Streets interest to keep the government stupid.  Goldman Sachs and others have been implicated in creating pools of mortgages in order to bet those same mortgages would fail without telling investors, see the NPR piece on magnestar capital and another example of implementing the same strategy by Goldman Sachs is Paulson's hedge fund, Goldman has also lied to congress about its activity.  Goldman's board is implicated in an insider trading ring as well.  Yet Goldman Sachs has a long standing reputation as having vast influence over the U.S. government, sometimes called Government Sachs.  As Warren Buffett said "I like to go for cinches. I like to shoot fish in a barrel. But I like to do it after the water has run out,"  Wall Street and Government Sachs have run the water out of the SEC.  The U.S. is a kleptocracy not a meritocracy, it just happens to be one of the most sophisticated kleptocracies in the world.  It is painfully clear that the U.S. government is more interested in protecting the corrupt and powerful than it is in protecting the U.S. public, bring on the guillotines!

 SEC incompetence

Frontline Madoff documentary

Enron: The Smartest Guys In the Room

Of course it may be that the fraud has stimulated the economy over the last 30 years and contributed to the fact that the United States has consumed a larger percentage of the worlds non-renewable resources before the large populations in the developing world (China, India) can industrialize and increase their consumption rate.