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September 14, 2008

A Competition We Always Win

By: Bernard Chazelle

Yes, we all have our disagreements about the Middle East. You say it needs more of this. I say it requires more of that. And the debate goes on. But there is one thing on which we surely all agree: what the region needs right now, urgently and desperately, is more weapons!

Thank God someone was listening in Washington!

From tanks, helicopters and fighter jets to missiles, remotely piloted aircraft and even warships, the Department of Defense has agreed so far this fiscal year to sell or transfer more than $32 billion in weapons and other military equipment to foreign governments, compared with $12 billion in 2005. [...] The trend, which started in 2006, is most pronounced in the Middle East...

The NYT calls it

"one of President Bush's most lasting legacies..."

Most lasting, indeed. I bet in 200 years kids will still have their limbs blown up because of a Bush legacy buried in the sand of a Lebanese beach.

But Mr. Lemkin, of the Pentagon, said that with so many nations now willing to sell advanced weapons systems, the United States could not afford to be too restrictive in its own sales.

“Would you rather they bought the weapons and aircraft from other countries?” he said. “Because they will.”

Damn right! And when you knock on that door to tell mom that her son was killed in action, wouldn't you relish the chance to add these soothings words: "But ma'am, be proud, his brains were blown out by a US-made cluster bomb, none of that Chinese shit, you know!"

— Bernard Chazelle

Posted at September 14, 2008 10:23 AM

I used to be in favor of reverting to "The Department of War". But now I think this misses the point. It really is, and has been for some time, "The Department of the Economy". We should change its name again.

Posted by: Aaron Datesman at September 14, 2008 01:16 PM

Aaron Datesman: I would agree that it should be named "The Dept of Economy" but I would not delete "Dept of Death and Destruction". I would also add, Arms industry executives sit on federal advisory commissions at the Commerce, Defense and State Departments dealing with arms export policy issues, ensuring that their preferences are well known to administration policymakers. Using this clout, arms exporters have arranged it so that the American public pays $6-7 billion annually to market and finance sales of their product. And US corporations receive enormous tax breaks and even lend money to other countries to purchase weapons from them. Thus the American public and recepient nation's citizenry unknowingly ( most of the time ) promote chaos and mayhem while the corrupt administration and Armament industry and their supporters make millions or should I say billions of dollars by making NEWER and BETTER products!!!! for killing innocent civillians ( specially for dropping them on weding parties!!) IT IS SICK.
By the way, middle east countries receive 25% of arms sold by the USA. Of course, that leaves NO DOUBT that OUR COUNTRY WANTS TO BRING PEACE in MIDDLE EAST.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 14, 2008 03:21 PM

Aaron Datesman, actually, I always wanted to re-rename it the Dept. of War: glad I'm not the only one.

Dept. of the Economy isn't quite accurate. Remember, it's only creating an economy for some people. We can't all be arms dealers.

If you want to be utterly specific, I'd nominate Department of Welfare.

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 14, 2008 03:28 PM

NoOnOCon: If I may, I would like to modify what you said. THAT dept is a "WELFARE STATE" within a state! It certainly functions like one!

ps in my previous comment, it should read 'wedding'. same excuse--no typing skills!

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 14, 2008 04:21 PM

Look. This is not hard. They sell us all their oil. We sell them a lot of way high tech weapons. Then when the oil runs out and they need spare parts....well, that's when they are at our mercy! Realpolitik is really quite easy.

Posted by: bobbyp at September 14, 2008 07:22 PM

Mr. Lemkin, someone once noted that you ain't worth the blood than runs in your veins. Could this be true?

Posted by: Paul Avery at September 14, 2008 08:36 PM

“This is not about being gunrunners,” said Bruce S. Lemkin, the Air Force deputy under secretary who is helping to coordinate many of the biggest sales. “This is about building a more secure world.”

Wonder how he is going to build a more secure world or rather more secure middle east and for whom.....

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 14, 2008 09:09 PM

it's gonna be way more secure, because all the brown folk, well they'll all be dead you see... I'm in favour of renaming Bruce S Lemkin as Jack D. Ripper

Posted by: almostinfamous at September 14, 2008 11:12 PM

Only broadly on-topic: I think of the U.S.' international arms trade as a litmus test. Once we have pols that crush this trade, we will have a solid indication that Empire is dying.

I will use a bit of hope and claim that that is also an indication that Democracy is growing.

In any event, it isn't likely to happy without revolution. Empires need instability at their borders and their furthest reaches. Should the outside world maintain a civilized demeanor, it would undermine the Empire because the latter is an obvious threat to civilization (since it invades countries, steals, murders, etc.) Empires fall when the instability within makes them unable to manage the instability without.

So arms sales aren't just profitable, they help maintain the health of our regime. They aren't going away without a drag-out dirty fight.

And I'd be willing to go along with the idea of most of our higher-level government agencies as being "states-within-states." All government is conspiracy: the few control the many. (This is why I hate that the word "conspiracy" has taken on the nutter's connotation: the word is needed to understand modern government.)

Posted by: No One of Consequence at September 15, 2008 08:04 AM

More than hundred countries signed a treaty to ban cluster bombs. One of the countries that did not, was, you guessed it--USA.
After the war on Lebanon, as many bomblets had remained unexploded and killed childern, Sen Diane Feinstein suggested,USA make SAFER and more DEPENDABLE cluster bombs ( whatever THAT means ).
Please join the campaign to ban cluster bombs and safe lives. Thanks.

Posted by: Rupa Shah at September 15, 2008 03:18 PM

“Would you rather they bought the weapons and aircraft from other countries?” he said. “Because they will.”

I always loved that logic. If my mom’s a heroin addict, then I should sell her the heroin and make some money off it, because if I don’t then someone else will.

Posted by: KevinD at September 15, 2008 05:44 PM