28 February, 2014


 So the USA is making a teeny-weeny budget cut, sensationally touted as “Budgetcuts to slash U.S. Army to smallest since before World War Two” by Reuters, of course, but which this BBC article more realistically puts into context by saying:

However, Winslow Wheeler, a defence budget analyst with the Project on Government Oversight in Washington DC, criticised the proposal as "hype".

He said that even after the cuts in troop levels and the elimination of the A-10 and U-2 aeroplanes, overall military spending including for the war in Afghanistan and on the US nuclear weapons programme will remain near 2005 levels.

Even with 31 billion cut from the budget, the Pentagon still has lots of moolah to spend on its 17 different agencies and its “black budgets” which don’t operate under any accountability and oversight:

The Pentagon's budget for the 2015 fiscal year beginning in October is an estimated $496 billion, about the same amount as the current fiscal year.

(Image courtesy of the BBC website. Thanks, BBC.)

This paltry “budget cut” is no time for celebration, but an occasion, it appears to me, when American and the global civil society needs to become even more vigilant and clear on the need for transparency in how these $500 to $600 billions are spent. Especially since there is mounting evidence that USA governmental oversight, accountability mechanisms as well as checks and balances between civilian and military institutions are missing. 

And then there’s abundant evidence and personal testimonies on the Internet (despite no mainstream news daring to touch it) that the US military industry complex, besides spying on people via cellphones and the Net, is out and about torturing people through electronic radar attacks that appear to be enabled by cellular technology. Then there’s all that brain research via the “Brain Initiative” (http://www.whitehouse.gov/share/brain-initiative), supported by the White House, no less, which undoubtedly lacks clear ethical guidelines. What knowledge about the brain is being used to torture political opponents? What new nanotechnology is being used to covertly and illegally spy on and attack people? Nobody actually knows, least of all the USA Congress.

Much of America’s military-industrial complex’s violations have been enabled by science, and the next frontier for human rights activists trying to figure out the extent of this regime’s violations will come from tracking scientists who have engaged with these institutions for the past half century. The Dr. Mengeles of this century are going to come out of the woodworks from the laboratories of Ivy League institutions, and it is time for people to start asking who these individuals are. And it’s time for people to start asking which companies make these cellular technologies, and who’s buying it and setting it up, since it’s clear there’s a clear link of complicity between those manufacturing cellular technologies and torture. 

 America makes a lot of money being a “dollar broker”—every country in the world wants dollars for every transaction, from trade to commerce to tourism. Even if every industry in America shut down tomorrow, it would probably make a comfortable living making small cuts from taking currency from one country, turning it into dollars, then returning it back to currency of another country. This, it appears, is a very profitable business.

I’ve found this out to my own detriment as I’ve wandered around Paris with American Express travelers cheques, hoping there was some giant office to cash it. Unfortunately, life is rarely organized this perfectly and I often ended up cashing it with questionable money exchange vendors at the shops around Gare Du Nord for insanely high fees. I imagine the French don’t particularly like people walking around with dollars, otherwise they would surely make it easier for the American Express office to maintain its office space in Opera (the Lonely Planet guidebook’s address for the Am Ex office, interestingly, leads to a non-existent dead end. It is like something out of Harry Potter— both the number before and after exist, but the Am-Ex office one doesn’t. I know, since I spent a day or two trying to track this one down.)

Engaging in dollars means supporting what is the world’s largest and most unaccountable military-industrial complex in the world—and for most people in the world who live within the norms and values of a global humanitarian world, this means supporting activities that may actively violate their ethical and moral boundaries.

Perhaps the time has come for the people of the world to seriously think about a new alternative—a global currency which doesn’t give specific power to any nation-state, but which can be used as a neutral mechanism of exchange without massive brokerage fees. I understand it could be quite complex to set up a new currency, but I believe the world is intelligent enough to figure it out, since the need for such a currency has now become inevitable.  


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