From the September 2008 Idaho Observer:

War is hell and we are going—are you hot enough, yet?

On this page is a collection of news clips showing that the winds of global military conflict are blowing all over the place. With a failing economy, an increasingly sick population, historically peerless political corruption running the show and rising public dissent, the question is, "Can the U.S. continue fighting ‘terrorists’ until it can claim global victory or is it doomed to eventual defeat on multiple fronts?" The answer is obvious. War is hell and we are going—unless the American people decide not to.

U.S. arms sale boom

While most economic indicators are down and inflation is up; while the spreading mortgage collapse is threatening the solvency of thousands of the nation’s banks; while roads, bridges, utilities, libraries, parks and museums across the nation fall into decay (or are being sold to foreign investors), U.S. arms sales are booming. Earlier this month Reuters reported that the Pentagon’s "Defense Security Cooperation Agency (DSCA)" announced U.S. government-brokered overseas arms sales are expected to reach about $34 billion in the current fiscal year, an increase of more than 45 percent over the previous year. "Our program is growing by leaps and bounds," DSCA Director Jeanne Farmer told "ComDef 2008 attendees Sept. 3, 2008.

ComDef is an annual international defense industry conference. This year’s event was held at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.

According to Farmer, the biggest government-to-government buyers of U.S. arms in fiscal 2008 (the government’s fiscal year ends Sept. 30) were Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Morocco, Egypt and Iraq. Reuters observed that, "Overseas arms sales are a key instrument of U.S. foreign policy as well as a boon to defense contractors such as Lockheed Martin Corp, Boeing Co, Northrop Grumman Corp, General Dynamics Corp and Raytheon Co."

DSCA is currently negotiating with 207 countries and had 12,262 "open cases" totaling $274.3 billion as of last month, Farmer said. "In the current environment…We do expect to continue to have large, large sales,"

The United States carries out government-to-government conventional arms transfers through the Defense Department’s Foreign Military Sales program, which operates on a no-profit, no-loss basis.

"In 2007, the Pentagon notified Congress of more than $39 billion in such potential sales to 23 countries and Chinese-claimed Taiwan, including some funded by grant aid," Reuters reported.

The U.S. government contends that arms sales strengthen U.S. national security by tightening bilateral defense ties, supporting coalitions and enhancing U.S. ability to operate with foreign militaries.

Unmanned U.S. drone kills school children

SEPTEMBER 8, 2008—Seven guided missiles have been fired from U.S. spy planes in North Waziristan, killing three persons and injuring 15 others, including women and children. According to Pakistani sources, the guided missiles targeted a madrassa, or Muslim school, and the house of Afghan commander Jalaluddin Haqqani.

A drone operated by US-led forces in Afghanistan allegedly fired six to seven guided missiles at the madrassa in north Waziristan. It then shot at the house of Commander Haqqani, who first surfaced as a guerilla during the war against Russia in Afghanistan.

North and South Waziristan tribal regions are considered strongholds of the Pakistani Taliban.

Pakistan’s tribal belt has witnessed a sharp increase in attacks by drones operated by the US-led coalition forces in Afghanistan over the past week. In response to the U.S. attack on South Waziristan, the Pakistani government has ordered that supply lines to NATO troops in Afghanistan be immediately severed for an indefinite period of time. The move comes as thousands of protesters marched through South Waziristan’s capital of Wana chanting "death to America".

More than 40 people have died in the U.S. attacks.

Russia, Venezuela to hold joint naval and air force exercises in Caribbean this fall

U.S. attempting to reestablish Fourth Fleet in region to safeguard interests and contain expanding Venezuelan influence.

London Telegraph Latin America correpondent Jeremy McDermott reported Sept. 7, 2008 that Russia and Venezuela will be hoding joint air and sea military exercises off the Venezuelan coast Nov. 10-14, 2008.

The war of words between the U.S. and Hugo Chavez that has been escalating since prior to the U.S.-backed attempt to remove the Venezuelan president in April, 2004, is quickly developing into a potential military confrontation. The populist Chavez government has been developing strong political, economic and military ties with Russia, China and Iran—nations seen as adversaries of the U.S.

Chavez is also leading the "Bolivarian Revolution"—a movement to build South American autonomy by ridding the continent of corporate exploitation.

"This is of great importance because it is the first time it is being done [in the Americas]," said Venezuela’s Rear Admiral Salbatore Cammarata Bastidas, describing the exercises.

"Sat astride some of the biggest oil reserves outside the Middle East, Mr Chavez has engaged in an unprecedented arms buying spree, purchasing 24 Sukhoi fighter jets, as well as submarines and missiles from Russia. Mr Chavez has said that he would allow Venezuela to be a strategic base for Russian bombers should it be required," McDermott wrote.

"In Venezuela they will always have a green light, they will be welcome, because Russia is an ally of Venezuela," said Mr. Chavez.

"Mr Chavez has announced he will visit China in the coming weeks with a view to buying more arms," McDermott reported.

According to McDermott:

"In June the U.S. Navy announced it was re-establishing the Fourth Fleet, disbanded in 1950, which would direct naval operations in the Caribbean and Latin America. Both U.S. presidential candidates have vowed to reduce U.S. dependence on oil imports.

"Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez has purchased billions of dollars of military hardware from the Russians in order to deter any attack from the USA."

Russia threatens to aim at U.S. missile shield in Europe

Sept. 10, 2008—Russian intercontinental ballistic missiles could be aimed at the U.S. missile defense shield in Europe, the commander of Russia’s Strategic Missile Forces said Wednesday. The senior Russian general [Col. Gen. Nikolai Solovtsov] also said that another four missiles, including a RS-24 ICBM, will be test-launched by the end of this year.

Israel temporarily halts arming Georgia

Sept. 10, 2008—Israel claims it has halted its lucrative weapons sales to Georgia in a bid to dissuade Russia from increasing military ties with Iran. Israeli defense officials claimed Wednesday that "businessmen involved in military sales to Georgia" have been urged to cease visits to Tbilisi "for the time being."

U.S. talks of long-term presence in Iraq

Sept. 10 2008—U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has hinted that Washington seeks long-term presence in Iraq. Addressing the House Armed Services Committee today, Gates said Iraq continues to face challenges and U.S. gains in Iraq are "not necessarily enduring...We should expect to be involved in Iraq for many years to come."

Russia ready for new "Cold War"

August 26, 2008—2008 Russia’s president said he was ready for the start of a new Cold War, as he set tensions with the West soaring by recognizing the independence of two breakaway republics inside Georgia. "We are not afraid of anything, including the prospect of a Cold War," said Dimitri Medvedev, after ordering his foreign ministry to start work on establishing diplomatic ties with the secessionist regions of South Ossetia and Abkhazia.

Russia and the U.S. are now on a military collision course.

Russian soldiers to stay in Georgia

August 21, 2008—Russia plans to establish a long-term presence in Georgia and one of its breakaway republics by adding 18 checkpoints, including at least eight within undisputed Georgian territory outside the pro-Russian enclave of South Ossetia, a ranking Russian military official told reporters Wednesday. The checkpoints will be staffed by hundreds of Russian troops, the official said, and those within Georgia proper will have supplies ferried to them from breakaway South Ossetia.

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