Saturday, January 25, 2014

Let's Connect the Dots - Part 4

During President Clinton's first term, military spending dropped significantly. America did get some of its peace dividend. But the spending cuts bottomed out around 1998, when President Clinton was caught up in the Monica Lewinsky “investigation” and impeachment, and needed all the friends he could get. (For more information see the documentary The Hunting of the President.)

It appears that President Clinton started out a liberal Democrat and ended up a conservative Democrat. Clinton initially tried to get universal health care. But after a punishing defeat of universal health care and the loss of Congress to the Republicans in 1994, President Clinton became more like a Republican. And it appears that by the Monica Lewinsky scandal, President Clinton had completely given up on his liberal ideals.

In 1999, President Clinton led the NATO bombardment of Yugoslavia to halt the “ethnic cleansing” of Kosovo Albanians. The intervention was not approved by the U.N., but it did lead to Yugoslav forces withdrawing from Kosovo. It could be argued that this was a just war. It could also be argued that no one was attacking America – so, it was not a war of American defense. When it came to being warlike, President Clinton was no President Bush. Kosovo was no Panama or Iraq, but President Clinton was not above war. And the military/industrial complex must have appreciated that.

Something also worth noting President Bill Clinton did; was to continue on the Ronald Reagan path of privatization of military and intelligence functions. A massive private expansion into intelligence and other areas of government occurred under the Presidency of Bill Clinton (and was accelerated during the Bush Jr. Presidency). By the end of his Presidency, Bill Clinton had cut 360,000 jobs from the Federal payroll, and was spending 44% more on private contractors than at the beginning of his Presidency.

What's worse; this hasn't saved us money, the private contractors get paid more – in 2008 contractors made up 29% of the intelligence agency workforce but 49% of personnel budgets.

So, why do it? Why privatize the one thing that no rational country would want to privatize; our military intelligence? The only reason I can think of is to give favors to your political supporters. The for-profit participants in the military/industrial complex want to make more money. And they they must have seen government careers in military intelligence as profitable growth potential.

But what did America lose in that deal? Most importantly, we lost career professional intelligence officers. We lost the integrity of Federal employees, who's primary focus was on what was best for America – not profits. Sure, there were rogue agents (some who may have smuggled drugs and maybe even some who participated in the Kennedy assassination). But a privatized intelligence community can be expected to be far worse.

The intelligence community is slowly being transformed from an agency in to an industry. This is a critical change in the actual function of the intelligence community. The consequence of privatization is that paid contracts end up more important than good intelligence – good decisions. This may not seem significant until one realizes that presently we're paying people to give us the names of “terrorists” – and we'll stop paying them if they run out of names. The temptation to pull names out of a hat carries the risk of a contrived war on terror, just so our spies can stay employed. On top of that, private contractors can engage in illegal activities with impunity – because oversight is more difficult of private organizations.

Worth mentioning are a couple critical mistakes President Clinton made during his Presidency – the signing of the NAFTA and GATT trade agreements and the signing of the Financial Modernization Act (which repealed parts of the Glass-Steagall Act).

America's international trade treaties (mainly NAFTA and GATT) eliminated tariff protections, which made it profitable to export jobs to countries that permitted sweat shop pay. Consequently, in the first decade of the 21st century, America lost five million manufacturing jobs, a contraction of approximately a third.

And by 2008, it became obvious why financial institutions had been compartmentalized by lawmakers back during the Great Depression. Without Glass-Seagall protections, gambling mega-banks brought on the worldwide financial crisis.

I'm sure Republicans have used these Clinton decisions as reasons to blame the Democrats for our economic woes, but Republicans wanted NAFTA, GATT, and the Financial Modernization Act even more than the Democrats. Apparently, big business wanted to take advantage of Americans, and they paid both parties to do their bidding. Which brings up a very important point; by the time President Clinton was in office, not even the Democrats could say no to the super-greedy who pull the strings – even if it meant the collapse of manufacturing in America – even if it meant the never ending bailouts of gambling mega-banks – even if it meant unnecessary wars.

What these traumas to our economy have led to is an even greater reliance of Americans on military/industrial complex related jobs. Those were the only jobs that couldn't be exported. Consequently, the only thing Americans make anymore are weapons. I am exaggerating, of course. But increasingly, the American economy has become even more reliant on worldwide weapons sales. This is not good for a stable and safe planet. But, of course; a stable planet doesn't buy weapons.

Continue to Part 5

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