U.S. Wars Are Bankrupting the World


By David Swanson

The endless and infinite “war on terror” is bankrupting the planet. I don’t mean moral bankruptcy; that goes without saying. I mean financial bankruptcy. And don’t take my word for it. This is the argument made in a new book called “Terrorism and the Economy: How the War on Terror Is Bankrupting the World,” by Loretta Napoleoni, a financial reporter for Internazionale, l’Unita, il Caffe, Mondo e Missione, El Pais, Vanity Fair Spain, and Vanity Fair Italy.

Perhaps Napoleoni is insufficiently subservient to Wall Street to write for U.S. newspapers — unlike, say, the United States government: “Washington needs Wall Street’s help to keep international investors funding the U.S. debt,” the author explains, “which in turn provides the $1.6 billion needed each month to keep troops in Iraq and Afghanistan.” Which explains the lack of criminal prosecutions and serious regulation of Wall Street.

Napoleoni traces some surprising changes in the world financial system over the past nine years to the latest U.S. warmaking spree: “Though it may sound implausible, as soon as the West focused its attention on the war on terror, the United Arab Emirates and the rest of the Persian Gulf began experiencing an unprecedented economic boom. Money started to flow toward their economies.” The U.S. government did not investigate the sources of terrorist funding, but did put restrictions in place through the PATRIOT Act that led money launderers to take their business to Europe, which suffered from that transfer as well.

The U.S. claimed it wanted to cut off the terrorists’ lifeline, but Napoleoni finds little evidence of action behind the claim. Instead she sees Bush’s failure to pursue bin Laden’s bankers as in line with his failure to try to prevent 9-11 or to capture or bring bin Laden to trial. The 9-11 attacks were Bush’s excuse for war, and war was what he wanted.

Napoleoni sees the “war on terror” as a response to Islamic jihad and draws a comparison to Saladin’s jihad as a response to the Christian crusades. The Pope’s call to “liberate” the holy land in 1095, Napoleoni writes, was for “the starving masses of Europe . . . a way of feeding themselves and an escape from a life of misery and suffering. For the knights and nobility, it offered an opportunity for economic expansion. . . . Europe was a colony of Islam. Today the Muslim world feels equally subjugated to the West.”

One of the ultimate aims of the Islamic insurgency, Napoleoni writes, is “to bleed the American economy until it is bankrupt.” Bin Laden has “even calculated the amount of profits that Americans have accumulated from the sale of Arab oil. For every barrel sold over the last twenty-five years, he claims they pocketed $135. The total loss of income adds up to a staggering $4.05 billion per day, which he describes as the greatest theft in history.”

U.S. actions these past nine years have tended to self-inflict the economic wounds bin Laden desires, while simultaneously building al Qaeda into a more powerful and efficient enterprise. The United States had tended to tolerate money laundering because it benefitted the economy and the domestic money supply. The PATRIOT Act imposed regulations on money laundering and therefore on international banks, which immediately began advising their clients to avoid and divest from dollars. International crime syndicates took their money laundry to Europe. The war on terra also drove the price of crude oil through the roof. But it was the otherwise unregulated free-for-all on Wall Street that did the most damage to the U.S. and world economies. “The likelihood that bin Laden will destroy us is extremely low,” writes Napoleoni, “the likelihood that finance will do so is, on the other hand, extremely high, a virtual certainty.”

U.S. propaganda “magnified al Qaeda’s power exponentially. . . . On 9/11, few knew that this was nothing more than political theater and that few Muslims had ever heard of al Qaeda. . . . Saddam Hussein’s Iraq had no ties whatsoever to bin Laden. . . . [T]he invasion of Afghanistan decimated al Qaeda. Yet we believed what politicians told us.” Our policies — destabilizing Iraq, Indonesia, Pakistan, and the Horn of Africa — created shell states and easy recruitment for terrorism, which we thereby helped make more affordable. “The 9/11 attacks cost al Qaeda $500,000, while the Madrid massacre cost only $20,000, and the London suicide bombings less than $15,000. Osama bin Laden no longer operates costly training camps but relies upon the proliferation of jihadist websites to indoctrinate and train a new generation of jihadists at rock-bottom prices.” The U.S. has spent trillions on war, while Iraqis have successfully fought back for less than $200 million.

We can’t waste money this way without Wall Street, which is “as free and unregulated as it was before the credit crunch.” We’d transferred “bad risk accumulated by the private sector to the balance sheet of the state,” rather than eliminating it as needed. “In March 2009, the share prices of companies and banks ‘saved’ by governments were all below the levels at which the state had purchased them. . . . The desire to maintain, at any cost, a damaged and anachronistic system will only bring ruination.”

Instead, Napoleoni suggests, we should restructure the financial system, nationalize the banking sector, prune all the deadwood that does not serve the real economy, outlaw damaging products like derivatives, and preserve insurance operations while allowing gambling operations to collapse. We might learn from Islamic economics, which Napoleoni describes as “the opposite of capitalism”:

“In the Eastern world, the selfish behavior of each individual, aimed at maximizing profits and minimizing costs, is not believed to miraculously enrich entire nations. In the short shadow of the minarets, wealth comes from cooperation and joint ventures between banks and clients.” Drawing on this source, we might require that money always be invested in the real economy, thereby banning speculation on securities not tied to the underlying companies.

And instead of paying people to do nothing, through unemployment compensation, Napoleoni argues we should pay people, the unemployed and recent graduates, to convert our industries to clean energy, build infrastructure, and redesign our manufacturing base. Sounds like a plan that would even take care of the much bemoaned enthusiasm gap.

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5 Responses

  1. I sincerely believe that it is a certain element that controls the banking and monetary system. For all practical purposes, I call them ZIonist. A Zionist is a political organization comprised mainly of ultra orthodox Jewish extremest and hard liners. Sixty percent, which is a conservative figure are not even related to the first century Hebrews. They are hiding behind a religious community and are masquerading as Hebrews. I too find it a coincidence that most of the people in high finance have Jewish last names. Even if you critisize them, they brand you a racist. Their own holy book condems usury. I say whoever it is, if the shoe fits wear it. To the real Hebrew moderates, remove the corrupting influence among youl! The ADL and the AMCLU are all Zionist controled. I myself, have traced by geneology to the Moors and Phoenecians which were a semitic people from Mesopotamia and were related to the Hebrews. No man hates his own flesh. You talk about the Jews being under slavery to the Egyptians for 400 years, what about debt slavery under debt finance by the mostly Zionist Jew controled international banking system. The only way to get rid of parasites is to remove the host, which the control of the monetary and banking system. The final solution: 1-Abolish the Federal Reserve, nationalizing the Central Bank and restore monetary authority to the U.S. Treasury to create and extinguish honest debt free money based on precious metals. 2-Establish private State Banks that are Federally chartered and come under the authority of the National Bank and the regulations of the U. S. Treasury Department. I call on all the Arab Nations to abandon the U. S. Dollar, British Pound, and the Euro basing your currency on the Gold Denar.

  2. Steve De'ak says:

    Anyone who continues to pretend al CIA-duh is real, or that lightweight aluminum wingtips and tail sections can cut through steel and concrete buildings like a hot knife through butter is part of the problem and should be considered a threat to peace.

  3. Jeddy says:

    The US dollar is a commodity, it is not a currency which represents the USA. Nations which have pegged their currency to the US Dollar have pegged it to commodity. The USA can manipulate this currency any way it likes, the result destroy entire economies. Is it not strange that the USA started its War on Terror a year it was soon after Europe decided to have its single currency the Euro? The War on Terror meant involving members of NATO in Afghanistan – NATO is essentially comprised of European countries. The USA wanted this war to go to a point that Europe is forced to take austerity measures. The USA has succeeded. All across Europe there riots and strikes. Now that has been achieved, the USA will announce an end of its engagement in Afghanistan. Against China, the USA will use the same tactics it adopted in 1936, or something similar. The USA was indirectly responsible for the Japanese invasion of China.

  4. TheAZCowBoy says:

    Interesting, the top Wall Street brokerage and banking thieves (Barnake, Paulson, Geitner, Fual, at. al. all Jewish for some coincidence) and then there is Goldman Sachs and the rest of the Jewish ‘mafia’ (more coincidences) to remind us who screwed America and not a (((peep))) from the Goyem – lest that that ‘unforgiveable’ word is uttered (Anti-semitism, of course) or all the dominos fall – as has been the habit since the Jewish mafia took over the Wall Street, Banking and government in America.

  5. 100% agree with you, Napoleoni. Keep investigationg because you just stop where it gets truly hot (background of FED) and than reconsider your suggestions please. Nice you show the financial showdown to the US folks because they cant do make numbers nor think on their own. Seriously. The figure on Irak shows it clearly or like the last event in Colombia where 1000 soldiers, 50 bombs and more than 50 aircrafts has been used to kill three rebels and huge natural resources of south colombian environment. See this US business of paranoid-news & military spending has been exported to many partner countries already, guess weapon industries and moreover finance background gains always and thats what it is about always. You might be totally wrong with your Jihad analysis because enemy number one to muslem is jew-zion living in the heart of cristian cultures. Thats my personal opinion because arabs are no dump idiots and know perfectly the owners of all multi corps squeezing the arabian countries for about 100 years already. 90% capitalists of jewish origin and 10% of arabian betraidors. There is not a single cristian based company acting in arabian countries without having established respectful joint ventures on fair ground, non of them established tricky conditions on medium or long term nor are the arabs dump native camel riders allowing such. The financial snake followed by the petrol and gas elite is the only enemy to them like they should be to us as well. And as long as we do nothing against it it may happen that some muslems considering us enemies by default too.
    Still there are that much god and peace loving moslems like cristians or like jews, overdoing on religious stress is bad journalism or hate spreading intention. I never will slam a door to a moslem brother as I wouldnt to anybody

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