The North Korea Summit Was a Trumpian Fantasy from the Get-Go

wishful thinking, lack of preparation, exaggerated rhetoric, disregard for detail, and a cult of personality.

.. Precisely what sort of agreement the North Koreans might be willing to reach, and what Kim meant by “denuclearization,” Trump didn’t dwell upon. To anybody who knows the history of the issue, these are key questions. Pyongyang has been saying it supports the “denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula” for decades. As far back as 1992, the North and the South signed a mutual declaration committed to this aim. But the reality has been a steadfast refusal on the part of the North to give up its nuclear program.

.. For decades, Trump has exaggerated his negotiating skills as he overpaid for many properties and pushed some of them, such as the Plaza Hotel, into bankruptcy court.

.. By then, some Republicans were calling for the President to get the Nobel Peace Prize, and the White House was ordering commemorative coins featuring Trump and Kim.

 

Nearly Half the Pentagon Budget Goes To Contractors

In fiscal year 2016, the Pentagon issued $304 billion in contract awards to corporations—nearly half of the department’s $600 billion-plus budget for that year.

the biggest beneficiaries by a country mile were

  1. Lockheed Martin ($36.2 billion),
  2. Boeing ($24.3 billion),
  3. Raytheon ($12.8 billion),
  4. General Dynamics ($12.7 billion), and
  5. Northrop Grumman ($10.7 billion).

Together, these five firms gobbled up nearly $100 billion of your tax dollars, about one-third of all the Pentagon’s contract awards in 2016.

Health care companies like

  1. Humana ($3.6 billion),
  2. UnitedHealth Group ($2.9 billion), and
  3. Health Net ($2.6 billion) cash in as well,

and they’re joined by, among others, pharmaceutical companies like

  • McKesson ($2.7 billion) and

universities deeply involved in military-industrial complex research like

  • MIT ($1 billion) and
  • Johns Hopkins ($902 million).

.. The heads of the top five Pentagon contractors—Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Raytheon, General Dynamics, and Northrop Grumman—made a cumulative $96 million last year.

These are companies that are significantly or, in the cases of Lockheed Martin and Northrop Grumman, almost entirely dependent on government dollars.

.. Donald Trump initially spent a fair amount of tweeting energy bragging about how he was going to bring such contractors to heel on their pricing practices for weapons systems. In fact, he’s already turned out to be good news indeed for major contractors, most of whom have seen sharp upturns in revenues and profits

.. Trump has proven eager to lift restrictions on U.S. weapons sales abroad (and enlist State Department and Pentagon officials to spend more of their time shilling such weaponry).

.. The arms industry’s investment in lobbying is even more impressive. The defense sector has spent a total of more than $1 billion on that productive activity since 2009, employing anywhere from 700 to 1,000 lobbyists in any given year.

.. you’re talking about significantly more than one lobbyist per member of Congress, the majority of whom zipped through Washington’s famed “revolving door”; they moved, that is, from positions in Congress or the Pentagon to posts at weapons companies from which they could proselytize their former colleagues.

.. Two analysts from U.S. war colleges have estimated that about 300 deliverable nuclear warheads would be enough to dissuade any nation from attacking the United States with a nuclear weapon.

.. And note that the current trillion-dollar “modernization” program for the nuclear arsenal was initiated under President Barack Obama, a man who won the Nobel Prize for his urge to abolish all such weaponry.

.. In 2011, a study by economists from the University of Massachusetts made this blindingly clear.  What they showed was that military spending is the worst way to create jobs. Putting the same money into any other area—from infrastructure to transportation to alternative energy to healthcare or education—creates up to twice as many jobs as military spending does.

.. Contractors aid and abet the process of investing in the Pentagon by routinely exaggerating the number of jobs their programs create.

.. the best jobs generated by Pentagon spending are the ones for well-heeled lobbyists and overpaid corporate executives.

.. So the next time someone suggests that the Pentagon needs yet more money for the troops, just remember that what they’re actually talking about are troops of overpaid defense contractors, not members of the armed forces.

A Nobel Peace Prize Winner’s Shame

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the widow who defied Myanmar’s dictators, endured a total of 15 years of house arrest and led a campaign for democracy, was a hero of modern times. Yet today Daw Suu, as the effective leader of Myanmar, is chief apologist for this ethnic cleansing, as the country oppresses the darker-skinned Rohingya and denounces them as terrorists and illegal immigrants.
.. For shame, Daw Suu. We honored you and fought for your freedom — and now you use that freedom to condone the butchery of your own people?
.. “My two nephews, their heads were cut off,” one Rohingya survivor told Smith. “One was 6 years old and the other was 9.”
.. Other accounts describe soldiers throwing infants into a river to drown, and decapitating a grandmother
.. When a Rohingya woman bravely recounted how her husband had been shot dead and how she and three teenage girls had been gang-raped by soldiers, Daw Suu’s Facebook page mocked the claims as “fake rape.”
.. she knows that any sympathy for the Rohingya would be disastrous politically for her party in a country deeply hostile to its Muslim minority.
.. “We applauded Aung San Suu Kyi when she received her Nobel Prize because she symbolized courage in the face of tyranny,” noted Ken Roth, executive director of Human Rights Watch. “Now that she’s in power, she symbolizes cowardly complicity in the deadly tyranny being visited on the Rohingya.”
.. Rohingya were confined to concentration camps or to remote villages Many were systematically denied medical care, and children were barred from public schools. It’s a 21st-century apartheid.
.. Daw Suu and other Myanmar officials refuse to use the word “Rohingya,” seeing them as just illegal immigrants from Bangladesh, but that’s absurd. A document from 1799 shows that even then, the Rohingya population was well established.
.. A basic lesson of history: Ignoring a possible genocide only encourages the persecutors.