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Hiroshima Day: US Passes The Largest Military Spending Bill in its History.

August 6, 2007

Congress will be marking Hiroshima Day this year in its own special truly `American’ way.

– They won’t be commemorating or mourning the 250,000 or so people who were vaporized at Hiroshima and Nagasaki at the end of World War II, one whose shadows has been etched into cement for eternity.

– They won’t be talking about the hundreds of thousands of other Japanese that died slow deaths in its aftermath or the American soldiers and sailors who were used as guinea pigs in subsequent nuclear blasts – downwinders they’re called ( – and were rewarded by their country by dying extraordinarily painful deaths from exotic forms of cancer, often with no help from the Veterans Administration.

– Nor will they be talking much about all those US veterans and Iraqis from the first Gulf War (1991) who have come down with condiitions as a result of being exposed to depleted uranium.

That said, Congress is marking the occasion.

Two days ago by a vote of 395 to 13 – with overwhelming bi-partisan support – the House of Representatives approved the 2008 defense appropriations budget of $459 billion. However like the recent Middle East arms deal, which was first publicized as a $20 billion arms purchase from Saudi Arabia, but when probed turns out to be a $75-100 billion deal to Saudi Arabia, Israel, Egypt and at least 5 other Gulf states, the defense appropriations budget is much larger than it appears.

Not included, as John Feffer noted in a Foreign Policy In Focus piece, was:

nearly $50 billion in defense spending on the Department of Energy’s nuclear programs (which are a part of a separate budget and formally not included in defense)

$150 billion in supplemental Bush Administration requests on the Iraq and Afganistan wars

Nor does it include any of those parts of the budget that are considered `Black’ – or hidden from public scrutiny

 So it is impossible to tell precisely how high this budget ultimately goes, but that the $650 billion figure is quite conservative. The fact that Democrats were able to pare down the original proposal by 1% is something less than impressive. That they might try to make political hay of it as I would imagine they will, is pathetic and disingenuous.

Again, it underlines the essentially bi-partisan support that the war on terrorism – or more accurately, the war for US global hegemony – enjoys in Congress. It challenges the notion that despite their cries to the contrary, that when push comes to shove, the Democrats are a serious opposition to the Republicans. To say, as US Congressman Mark Udall has, that this is necessary to `support the troops in Iraq’ is such patent demagogy that it does not deserve a reply.

The winners here are obvious: the arms merchants, the Lockheed Martin’s, Boeings, Ratheons and the like, the private military contractors that have been getting a larger and larger share of the piece, the different arms services and intelligence agencies that live off of the public dole and need the myth of a terrorist threat to keep the money rolling in. Many of the systems for which the money is allocated are non-functional, like the Star Wars project.

Nothing exposes the Bush Administration’s priorities as clearly as this military budget. And to think this budget was pass the same week – actually almost to the day – the federal government said it doesn’t have the money to repair the nation’s bridges in the aftermath of the collapse of a major bridge in Minneapolis.

The politics of this budget and those of the Middle East arms deal are in some ways similar. The Bush Administration is coming through in a big way – deals that will go on for decades – for one of its more important constituencies – the arms industry. There is a message in this and that is a kind of unstated threat that if a democrat is elected president, this gravy train might stop (not likely) or if not, slowed down a bit.

The military industries are rather good at reading political messages and it can be presumed without straying to far from reality that they’ll gear up for the next year, pony up big bucks and strategize with Bush how it might be, that despite the most disastrous presidency for the people of Iraq, Afganistan and Palestine, despite the radical chipping away of civil and democratic rights here in the United States, that the Republicans might just find a way to pull of winning again next November.

Unlikely? Perhaps?

Impossible? Just remember how the Dems lost the last two elections.

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