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  • Originally published 04/17/2013

    Arms: That’s Where the Money Goes

    F-35B dropping a bomb during testing in 2012. Photo credit: U.S. Air Force.According to a report just released by the highly-respected Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), world military expenditures in 2012 totaled $1.75 trillion. The report revealed that, as in recent decades, the world’s biggest military spender by far was the U.S. government, whose expenditures for war and preparations for war amounted to $682 billion -- 39 percent of the global total. The United States spent more than four times as much on the military as China (the number two big spender) and more than seven times as much as Russia (which ranked third). Although the military expenditures of the United States dipped a bit in 2012, largely thanks to the withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan, they remained 69 percent higher than in 2001.

  • Originally published 04/02/2013

    Dilip Hiro: How the Pentagon Corrupted Afghanistan

    Dilip Hiro, a TomDispatch regular, is the author of 33 books, the most recent being Apocalyptic Realm: Jihadists in South Asia (Yale University Press, New Haven and London).Washington has vociferously denounced Afghan corruption as a major obstacle to the U.S. mission in Afghanistan. This has been widely reported. Only one crucial element is missing from this routine censure: a credible explanation of why American nation-building failed there. No wonder. To do so, the U.S. would have to denounce itself.Corruption in Afghanistan today is acute and permeates all sectors of society. In recent years, anecdotal evidence on the subject has been superseded by the studies of researchers, surveys by NGOs, and periodic reports by the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC). There is also the Corruption Perceptions Index of the Berlin-based Transparency International (TI). Last year, it bracketed Afghanistan with two other countries as the most corrupt on Earth.

  • Originally published 03/11/2013

    The Epic Story of the C-130, the Air Force's Monument to Pork

    Lockheed C-130E Hercules. Credit: Wiki Commons.Originally posted on TomDispatch.com When I was a kid obsessed with military aircraft, I loved Chicago's O'Hare airport. If I was lucky and scored a window seat, I might get to see a line of C-130 Hercules transport planes parked on the tarmac in front of the 928th Airlift Wing's hangars. For a precious moment on takeoff or landing, I would have a chance to stare at those giant gray beasts with their snub noses and huge propellersuntil they passed from sight.

  • Originally published 02/14/2013

    Jonathan Zimmerman: Whose Daughters Will Engage in Combat?

    Jonathan Zimmerman is Professor of Education and History and Director of the History of Education Program, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development.Now that women can assume combat roles in the military, I've got a question for you: Whose daughters will do the combatting?Not mine. And not yours, either, if they live in a leafy, upper-middle-class suburb like the one where my two girls have grown up.That's because the military draws overwhelmingly from the middle and lower-middle classes of our society. And that's what most of our news coverage has ignored, in the rush to congratulate the Pentagon for removing the ban on women in combat.Let's be clear: the Pentagon should be congratulated. Thousands of female medics, drivers, and other servicewomen have already seen battle overseas. But they have often been blocked from key promotions because they lacked official "combat" designations....

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