Showing posts with label defense spending. Show all posts
Showing posts with label defense spending. Show all posts

Thursday, November 30, 2023

Pro-Israel lobby presses for US military support in war with Hamas

The American Israel Public Affairs Committee, one of the most influential pro-Israel lobbying groups in Washington, is urging U.S. lawmakers to bolster security assistance to Israel in the wake of Hamas’ deadly Oct. 7 attack.

Hamas militants killed 1,400 Israeli civilians and took 240 hostages during a surprise raid in southern Israel last month. More than 14,000 Palestinians, including an estimated 6,000 children, have been killed in the Israel-Hamas war, according to data compiled by the United Nations.

President Joe Biden made it clear at the time that his administration stands with Israel, urging Congress to “take urgent action to fund the national security requirements of our critical partners.”

Three weeks later, House Appropriations Committee Chair Kay Granger (R-Tex.) introduced the Israel Security Supplemental Appropriations Act, which would provide $14.3 billion in emergency funding for military assistance to Israel.

The bill passed the House, but Senate Democrats objected to a version of the bill that cut funding for the Internal Revenue Service, appropriated through the Inflation Reduction Act of 2022. Some Senate Democrats want to pass aid to Israel as part of the White House’s supplemental security request, which includes assistance to both Israel and Ukraine.

A November 2023 Marist poll published in collaboration with NPR and PBS NewsHour found that “more than six in ten Americans think Congress should authorize additional funding to support the wars in Ukraine and Israel,” while 14% said they supported passing military assistance for only Israel, and 12% believed the U.S. should only provide aid to Ukraine.

“We strongly support and urge quick adoption of legislation to fully fund President Biden’s proposed security assistance to Israel,” an AIPAC spokesperson told OpenSecrets. The spokesperson declined to comment on whether the organization supports passing an Israeli aid package without assistance to Ukraine.

Granger’s campaign committee received over $71,000 from AIPAC and its affiliates in 2023. Many other lawmakers advancing recent bills and resolutions in support of Israel received political contributions from AIPAC within the past year and during the 2022 election cycle, many of which were made in the form of earmarked individual donations to the committee.

In addition to pouring money into political contributions and advertising, AIPAC spent over $2.2 million on in-house federal lobbying efforts in the first three quarters of 2023 — about $260,000 more than the amount they spent by quarter three of 2022.

AIPAC’s most recent lobbying disclosure outlined its lobbying on issues including defense, budgeting and foreign affairs. AIPAC lobbied many bills, including several aimed to sanction Hamas and the Palestinian Islamic Jihad, the second-largest militant group in Gaza, as well as more generalized funding bills like the National Defense Authorization Act for 2024.

Oren Adaki, an assistant director of policy and government affairs at AIPAC, was Rep. Joe Wilson’s (R-S.C.) legislative director before leaving that position for AIPAC in Feb. 2021. Wilson chairs the House Subcommittee on the Middle East, North Africa and Central Asia. AIPAC contributed over $40,000 to Wilson’s campaign committee in 2023.

Another AIPAC’s assistant director of policy and government affairs, Zachary Moses, worked as a senior legislative assistant to Rep. David P. Joyce (R-Ohio). Joyce serves as a member of the House Subcommittees of Defense and Homeland Security Appropriations, and received a small contribution of nearly $8,000 from AIPAC affiliates in 2022.

In their press releases lauding the passage of the NDAA in the house, Joyce and Wilson both highlighted the $50 million increase of the initial $75 million funding request for joint research and development between the U.S. and Israel. The House version of the NDAA for 2024 also includes an allocation of $300 million for the U.S.-Israeli cooperative missile program.

In 2021, AIPAC established itself as the leading source of federal political contributions supporting pro-Israel candidates and causes with the creation of an associated political action committee.

A total of $13 million in political contributions were made to members of the 118th Congress through AIPAC PAC during the 2022 election cycle, as well as over $8 million in 2023 so far.

Sen. Bob Menendez (D-N.J.), who was recently indicted on charges of illegally acting as a foreign agent for Egypt, was the top recipient of AIPAC contributions in 2023, receiving over $1 million from the organization in the first three quarters of the year.

AIPAC also gave nearly $80,000 this year to Sen. Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), who joined a bipartisan Senate delegation to Israel a couple of weeks after the Hamas attacks.

A few days before the trip, Rosen signed a letter from a group of senators urging the Biden administration to provide Israel Iron Dome missiles intended to intercept projectiles from Gaza. Two weeks later, Pentagon Press Secretary, Air Force Brig. Gen. Pat Ryder, confirmed that the United States would be sending two Iron Dome systems to Israel.

Other signees include Sens. Kristen Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Kyrsten Sinema (I-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Mark Kelly (D-Ariz.) and Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) — all of whom (besides Baldwin) received contributions from AIPAC since 2021.

A separate resolution declaring America’s solidarity with Israel was the first legislation passed under House Speaker Rep. Mike Johnson, (R-La.) whose biggest contributor during his 2022 midterm elections was AIPAC. 

House Foreign Affairs Committee Chair Rep. Michael McCaul (R-Tex.) introduced the resolution to reaffirm what he called “America’s unwavering support for the state of Israel.” McCaul received nearly $120,000 in political contributions from AIPAC this year.

This article originally appeared in on November 30th, 2023.  

Please support and visit The Brooks Blackboard's website for more news stories, and this link for my brief bio.

Connect on social media: 

Facebook: The Brooks Blackboard 

Twitter: @_CharlesBrooks   

Thursday, August 19, 2021

Progressive Critics Say Investors in US Weapon-Makers Only Clear Winners of Afghan War

As the hawks who have been lying about the U.S. invasion and occupation of Afghanistan for two decades continue to peddle fantasies in the midst of a Taliban takeover and American evacuation of Kabul, progressive critics on Tuesday reminded the world who has benefited from the "endless war."

"Never has it been more important to end war profiteering."
—Public Citizen

"Entrenching U.S. forces in Afghanistan was the military-industrial complex's business plan for 20+ years," declared the Washington, D.C.-based advocacy group Public Citizen.

"Hawks and defense contractors co-opted the needs of the Afghan people in order to line their own pockets," the group added. "Never has it been more important to end war profiteering."

In a Tuesday morning tweet, Public Citizen highlighted returns on defense stocks over the past 20 years—as calculated in a "jaw-droppinganalysis by The Intercept—and asserted that "the military-industrial complex got exactly what it wanted out of this war."

The Intercept's Jon Schwarz examined returns on stocks of the five biggest defense contractors: Boeing, Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman, and General Dynamics.

Schwarz found that a $10,000 investment in stock evenly split across those five companies on the day in 2001 that then-President Georg W. Bush signed the authorization preceding the U.S. invasion would be worth $97,295 this week, not adjusted for inflation, taxes, or fees.

According to The Intercept:

This is a far greater return than was available in the overall stock market over the same period. $10,000 invested in an S&P 500 index fund on September 18, 2001, would now be worth $61,613.

That is, defense stocks outperformed the stock market overall by 58% during the Afghanistan War.

"These numbers suggest that it is incorrect to conclude that the Taliban's immediate takeover of Afghanistan upon the U.S.'s departure means that the Afghanistan War was a failure," Schwarz added. "On the contrary, from the perspective of some of the most powerful people in the U.S., it may have been an extraordinary success. Notably, the boards of directors of all five defense contractors include retired top-level military officers."

"War profiteering isn't new," journalist Dina Sayedahmed said in response to the reporting, "but seeing the numbers on it is staggering."

Progressive political commentator and podcast host Krystal Ball used Schwarz's findings to counter a key argument that's been widely used to justify nearly 20 years of war.

"This is what it was really all about people," she tweeted of the defense contractors' returns. "Anyone who believes we were in Afghanistan to help women and girls is a liar or a fool."

Jack Mirkinson wrote Monday for Discourse Blog that "it is unquestionably heartbreaking to think about what the Taliban might inflict on women and girls, but let us dispense with this fantasy that the U.S. has been in Afghanistan to support women, or to build democracy, or to strengthen Afghan institutions, or any of the other lines that are deployed whenever someone has the temerity to suggest that endless war and occupation is a harmful thing."

"We did not go into Afghanistan to support its people, and we did not stay in Afghanistan to support its people," he added. "It is astonishing, given what we know about the monsters that the U.S. has propped up time and time again around the world, that the myth persists that we do anything out of our love for human rights. We went in and we stayed in for the same reason: the American empire is a force that must remain in perpetual motion."

As Common Dreams reported Monday, while the Taliban has retaken control, anti-war advocates have argued diplomacy is the only path to long-term peace, with Project South's Azadeh Shahshahani emphasizing that "the only ones who benefited from the U.S. war on Afghanistan were war-profiteering politicians and corporations while countless lives were destroyed."

Responding to Shahshahani's tweet about who has benefited from two decades of bloodshed, Zack Kopplin of the Government Accountability Project wrote, "Adding war-profiteering generals to the mix too."