Dear Voter, We Will Always Win. Sincerely, Military Industrial Complex

As difficult as it is to find any important stories not related to the health care decision at the moment, one actually appeared from Reuters late Friday.  It seems that despite ending one war and drawing down from another, the defense department cannot endure any budgetary cuts at the moment.  I recently commented on the marketing of defense/war in the interests of maintaining such a large budget so I read the article looking for a legitimate reason not to enact any cuts, particularly since the person asking for the block was Defense Secretary Leon Panetta.  Surely a member of the allegedly hard-lined liberal Obama administration would have a sensible reason not to cut military spending at a time when it should reasonably be cut.

And he did have a reason.  Saving his own job.  From the article and worth quoting at length:

Industry leaders (defense contractors) who met with Panetta this week warned that the Pentagon could face billions of dollars in contract termination fees and other costs when the new cuts go into force next year. Panetta said the industry executives shared many of the Pentagons fears about the cuts.

“They’re very concerned about the impact that it will have on their companies and on their employees,” Panetta told the news conference.

He noted that company executives faced legal requirements to notify their employees about possible terminations, letters that would have to go out just days before the November elections. (Emphasis mine)

In other words, the defense contractors have the officials in the Defense Department (regardless of political party I would add) by their family jewels and they are, in a not-so-veiled way, threatening to cause a firestorm days before an election if they do not get their way.  No doubt part of this situation is the timing of it all but it is hard to believe no one, particularly contractor lobbyists, saw it playing out in this fashion.

Let’s be clear.  Jobs and livelihoods are no doubt on the line here and that should be recognized.  However, some other aspects should also be noted.  Defense is a business in many aspects (certainly the private contracting element) and, in the case of the United States, it is an extremely big business.  And just like any other business, when sales go down/wars come to an end, cuts should be expected and actions will be taken accordingly.  This is obviously a very easy concept to understand for many considering the recent years of financial crisis and economic gloom in the U.S.  Peace should be seen as a time of recession for the defense department and anyone collecting a paycheck because of its existence.  It may hurt many defense contractors and those involved but it is part of life and, in many ways, the writing should have been on the wall for some time.

Yet it wasn’t and clearly the contractors have no intention of settling for such cuts.  And if this means essentially threatening the current administration’s chances at reelection in November, so be it.  But either way, regardless of what party is elected and how things may play out in this situation the people with the money will get their way and will have a big role in who wins this election.

Rule by the wealthy people in and around the military industrial complex.  Just like “democracy” should be.  (Warning: not to be confused with actual democracy.)

Highlights of Fortune’s Fast and Furious Detailed Report

Fortune Magazine published its very in-depth report on the Fast and Furious scandal and the details put a very different complexion on the program and how it has been played out in the media.  The article is long and deserves the time of anyone interested in the debate but there are some noteworthy things that certainly should be brought to the attention of all.

The first factor that should be addressed about this debate is the political party attacking the Obama administration at the moment over this program is the same party that would be attacking the administration if they had taken a different strategy on guns and began calling for stricter laws or taking guns away from any law-abiding citizen.  This is, in reality, one of the only other ways to attack this problem and if that path had been chosen, the NRA would have posited a war had begun on guns and everyone was going to lose their weapons no matter who they were.  The author sums this point up nicely:

But the ultimate irony is this: Republicans who support the National Rifle Association and its attempts to weaken gun laws are lambasting ATF agents for not seizing enough weapons—ones that, in this case, prosecutors deemed to be legal.

So a choice was made considering the environment the ATF had to deal with, part of which is, in Arizona:

Customers can legally buy as many weapons as they want in Arizona as long as they’re 18 or older and pass a criminal background check. There are no waiting periods and no need for permits, and buyers are allowed to resell the guns.

So first off, anyone can buy as many weapons as they have the funds for and then legally resell them with no repercussions.  Clearly, if you are law enforcement trying to stop guns from getting into the hands of the drug cartels of Mexico, this is a colossal problem.  And asking the federal government, with lawmakers so loyal to the NRA and ardent fighters for no restrictions on weapons purchases, to change the law is out of the question.

Another important point is the misconception of how big this program was and how the people at the top of the government should have known better.  We love to believe every one of these types of decisions could be tracked straight back to a certain politician’s signature or comments but clearly that is not the situation here.  The reality of the operation in Arizona:

They were seven agents pursuing more than a dozen cases, of which Fast and Furious was just one.

The key problem pointed out in this article was not the ATF or necessarily their tactics but the wall these agents hit when they tried to go up the food chain of law enforcement to prosecute.  They had plenty of evidence but were blocked because of the reaction attorney’s had toward the lax gun laws in Arizona.

“[P]urchasing multiple long guns in Arizona is lawful,” Patrick Cunningham, the U.S. Attorney’s then–criminal chief in Arizona would later write. “Transferring them to another is lawful and even sale or barter of the guns to another is lawful unless the United States can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the firearm is intended to be used to commit a crime.”

Good luck with that.  I’m pretty sure simply stating “I didn’t know what the guy I sold the guns to was going to do with them” will get anyone off from any charges.  Any gun store owner can make the same claim.  I typically stay away from using single examples to draw a picture of a problem or solution but one given in this article is worth noting to show how tough it was for the ATF to go about prosecuting this gun trade:

After examining one suspect’s garbage, agents learned he was on food stamps yet had plunked down more than $300,000 for 476 firearms in six months. Voth asked if the ATF could arrest him for fraudulently accepting public assistance when he was spending such huge sums. Prosecutor Hurley said no.

The picture that the media has painted surrounding the Fast and Furious scandal is certainly not the reality of the situation.  There are some aspects of this debate we will just have to accept.  Was the result of this program awful?  Certainly.  Was it the fault of the ATF for not prosecuting the people they were tracking?  Doesn’t appear to be true.  Is this program and the problems associated with it more an effect of little to no gun laws and prosecutors unwilling to bring those cases because of the repercussions?  Absolutely.

More information regarding this situation will slowly make its way out with time but one thing is for sure now: this scandal has been much more political than what it seems and has been driven against a Democratic administration by an alleged “liberal” media.  I fail to see why such a friendly media would do that to a supposed friend and, of course, this politically driven scandal over Fast and Furious ignores the bigger story of this whole situation.

The Reality of Health Care Polls

As we close in on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the Affordable Care Act this week, more and more polls have appeared in the news getting the reaction to health care reform and the impending decision.  For instance, ABC News reported the country is both against the health care law and against the current health care system.  But they included some polling numbers that should be noted:

Positive ratings of current care, for their part, peak among senior citizens, at 86 percent – perhaps ironically, given their enrollment in the government-run Medicare program. Current care ratings also are higher, by 15 points, among people with $50,000-plus incomes, vs. their lower-income counterparts. And strongly favorable ratings of current care spike, in particular, among people in $100,000-plus households.

In other words, people who have easier access to health care compared to the people who don’t, even if that health care is government backed, like it.  This is related to an interesting point if you have been watching much of this polling data recently.  Something has been strangely left out of most of the polls.  Most of these polls seem to avoid asking or reporting how many people thought the ACA didn’t go far enough.  Slight majorities may be against the reform but this does not take into account the number of people against the reform because they wanted a more universal system, such as Canada or Germany.

The big problem with not acknowledging this reality is it seems people are just against the ACA and therein want the status quo, which is clearly not the case as the ABC News poll indicates.  We also know people like many of the provisions the ACA is enforcing (or on its way to enforcing barring a full overturn by the Supreme Court).  For example, from CBS News/NY Times data:

85 percent said insurance companies should cover people with pre-existing conditions and nearly seven in ten supported children under 26 staying on their parents’ health plan.

But we are mostly told we don’t like it without explaining why.  Take for instance an article from the Wall Street Journal.  The article has plenty of polling data but only says this regarding people saying it didn’t do enough:

The health-care law has stirred deep passions on both sides of the partisan divide, including among some liberals who think it didn’t go far enough.

No polling data included as to what percentage believe this.  Not exactly surprising the Murdoch-owned WSJ might gloss over this part of the debate.

One poll that did include this data states, “27 percent said it didn’t go far enough.”  What people want to assume about what we should do on health care based on this information is up to them.  But one thing seems to be clear and that is the media doesn’t do enough to point this fact out in the debate and it is certainly possible what the majority wants is being drowned out of the conversation.  And if the majority wanted something, we would of course get it, right?…Right?

Probably not.  Take the Buffet Rule for instance.  Gallup reported a 60% majority favored it while CNN reported 72% in favor.  Despite these large majorities, the rule died because we live in a democra$y and that’s how democra$y work$.  Rule of the money…excuse me, many.  Maybe it’s many with money.  I’m confused.

The point is we’ve seen a lot of polling data on health care but the media has not been completely honest with us.  If they were, we might figure out the majority wants something the powerful interests at the top don’t and that is simply the same access to the same health care they have and enjoy (and approve of as noted above).  Even if it’s government backed like Medicare.

Terrorist Groups Possibly Uniting in Africa, Advanced Countries Compounding the Problem

The head of the United States’ Africa Command is now stating there are three terrorist organizations in Northern Africa possibly banding together to supply each other with more arms and funds to further their cause.  The danger here is obvious but it looks like it might be unstoppable to impede the growth of these organizations if we factor in a few things we know and look at the big picture.

One of these groups, Boko Haram, might be growing its numbers and thriving off of the abysmal socioeconomic conditions in Northern Africa.  The BBC points out:

The reality, however, may be that the real driving forces behind Boko Haram are inequality and poverty in northern Nigeria; a historic grudge between the Nigerian north and south; and an underequipped and corrupt police force.  These issues may be just as important as any links between African jihadists and al-Qaeda.

There is very little doubt inequality and poverty play a big role in people turning to extreme measures to turn their lives around in some way, even if that means joining a terrorist organization.  In addition to that, we also know programs focused on improving living and working conditions have an effect on reducing the number of terrorists around the world (I mentioned this here).  So clearly the remedy for staving off the growth of these groups is through some type of development aid to improve the living conditions in these countries.  And if that aid were to not increase or were it to be cut, we should expect a negative result.  But surely the industrialized world isn’t silly enough to cut aid and knowingly push more people into the ranks of terrorist groups, is it?

Well, it is.  As reported just a few days prior by the BBC, the Eurozone cut its aid to poor countries in the 2010/2011 fiscal year by 1.5% and with the ongoing financial crisis we should probably expect bigger cuts moving forward.  But since it is a U.S. official pointing out the problem, maybe we could count on an American increase in foreign aid since the U.S. lags so far behind most of Europe in development assistance.  I’ll allow a second for the laughter to subside.

In all seriousness, if the United States was actually realistic about fighting these terrorist groups, they might attempt to look at some factors that have worked and the shoddy amount of foreign aid would be one element to examine.  As almost comically pointed out by Oxfam:

Americans spend as much on maintaining their lawns…spend more on caring for pets…as much on candy…as the US government spends on foreign aid. (Emphasis mine)

This isn’t to suggest a doubling of U.S. aid would solve all the problems of the world and stop all terrorism (and if you’ll notice from the chart linked above, even if the U.S. tripled its aid it would still be below the UN development target).  But it is worth pointing out the U.S. clearly sees the problem growing judging from official statements and we can inevitably expect things to get worse.  We also know how to go about reducing the problem.

But the likelihood of that happening is probably around the same likelihood these terrorist groups will give up their arms and ignore their living conditions in order to live in peace.

Worthy Criticism of a Nobel Winner by a Nobel Winner

Former President Jimmy Carter had some rather harsh words and questions for the Obama administration in an op-ed yesterday as he attacked the administration’s record on human rights violations over the past three years.  Despite the fact these points deserve answers from the administration, we will likely get none.  But one part of Carter’s op-ed caught my attention:

Our nation’s violation of human rights…began after the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, and has been sanctioned and escalated by bipartisan executive and legislative actions, without dissent from the general public. As a result, our country can no longer speak with moral authority on these critical issues.

A couple of things should be noted here.  One is that this has clearly been a bipartisan effort since Democrats had the chance to change much of this after the ’08 election and chose to do virtually nothing.  In fact, as Carter argues, the violations have even been expanded in some ways with the use of drone strikes and the ridiculous declaration that any man of a certain age killed by one is a terrorist.  Another is we long ago lost our moral authority on any of these issues around the world and only anger people when our government officials try to throw stones at others behaving badly in foreign affairs, for instance Russia arming Assad in Syria.

But what should be the most eye-opening phrase from Carter is “without dissent from the general public.”  Now, I’m assuming Carter’s definition of this does not mean what it seems on the surface.  Of course, there has been dissent in the American populace as to the human rights violations by the U.S. government since the War on Terror began and I would take it for granted Carter knows this.  What I assume he means is there has been no dissent shown by voters through punishing elected officials at the polls.  We have continued to vote for many of the same people who supported these programs and have done nothing to pressure them to change the outcome.  In this sense, he is very correct and for people on the outside of the United States looking in, they have seen very little dissent.

We have seen other elected governments get punished because of their abhorrent positions on the War on Terror, Spain being one of the most famous.  The question is, will this ever happen in America in a way where the dissent is truly visible?  Unfortunately, it seems doubtful.

The Real Scandal of Fast and Furious – The Atlantic

Andrew Cohen – The Real Scandal of Fast and Furious – The Atlantic.

Really good article on the real problem of guns making their way into the hands of the Mexican drug cartels and one line of it speaks volumes:

House Republicans have resorted to partisan finger-pointing over 3 percent of the guns crossing the border — and ignored the other 97 percent.

Let’s face reality here.  If so many weapons were not being smuggled out of the United States so easily because of our nearly non-existent gun laws, Fast and Furious would have never existed as a program in the first place.  There would have been no reason to even think of ways to reduce the power of the drug cartels if we did not arm them so heavily through lack of regulation and proper checking of suspicious sales.

And if you watch the Colbert clip included in the article and here, you’ll see an almost laughable claim by the right.  Some pundits allege Fast and Furious is just an excuse by the left to regulate guns.  Colbert debunks that in his own hilarious way while also mentioning the little recognized fact the program actually started under a previous administration just under a different name.  But let’s add two important points to address the ridiculousness of this claim.

One is the simple fact of cause and effect I already mentioned.  If there wasn’t a problem to begin with, extremely awful policy solutions like Fast and Furious would not have been conjured, much less implemented.  But I do have to admit trying to spin this into some type of conspiracy theory is a great way to avoid the real problem.

The second point is the obvious scale of the problem.  Let’s look at what we know.  Fast and Furious allowed roughly 2,000 weapons to cross the border.  However, the Mexican authorities have seized nearly 70,000 weapons traced back to the United States around the same time period.  How many they haven’t seized and are still in circulation is probably anyone’s guess but it’s safe to assume it’s larger than the number captured.  Focusing only on Fast and Furious is the equivalent of a watching a pack of hungry lions running at you in the wild and being more concerned about a mosquito that just landed on your arm.

But then again it’s an election year and we do have our priorities.

U.S. Still Behaving Badly in Africa

The United States has quietly made the strange move of delaying a United Nations report on the transfer of arms from the Rwandan government to rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo led by criminal, Bosco Ntaganda.  The delay is expected to be two weeks but I suppose that remains to be seen.  And I say “quietly” since I struggled to find this mentioned in the mainstream American (“liberal”) media.  But I suppose Fox News will step up to the plate and get this one…or not.

The only guess at a reason given for the delay is the fact the West feels guilty (rightfully) over past atrocities in Rwanda since the report will in all likelihood make the Rwandan government look bad.  But it is pretty clearly the U.S. is main culprit behind blocking this report so the question is why and why now?  We can only really speculate but let’s take a stab at it considering the facts and recent events.

One fact we know is that Egypt, under Mubarak, was a heavy supplier of arms to Rwanda just before the Rwandan genocide began in the mid 1990s where “in just over three months, 800,000 people were slaughtered, at least half of whom were children.”  The relationship and arms sales of the U.S. to Mubarak and Egypt is well-known and needs no in-depth description here.  So, more than likely, a large number of the arms floating around Rwanda that are being supplied to the rebels in DR Congo could be traced back to the United States and American arms manufacturers.  Why is this so bad now and why should the report be delayed two weeks?

The answer should be obvious.  If the report includes any information confirming a relationship between U.S. arms sales and these arms falling into the hands of war criminals, the U.S. government would look incredibly more hypocritical since it is currently trying to criticize Russian arms sales to Syrian leader Assad.  I say “more” since the government already looks like a hypocrite considering the domestic arms policy and its effect on the drug war in Mexico I previously mentioned.  A two week delay buys the government enough time for the pundits not to draw too many comparisons between the two situations since it will be mostly forgotten at that point.

Forgotten by everyone except those still suffering from these destructive policies.

Waste of Time in the Kentucky State Legislature

An article from my local paper appeared Sunday that kind of touched a personal nerve with me.  The article highlights the (ab)use of resolutions by the Kentucky State Legislature to recognize entities and people around the state for their contributions.  The author notes:

Lawmakers passed 420 symbolic or ceremonial resolutions in the 2012 regular session — five times the number of bills Gov. Steve Beshear signed into law this year.

To some extent, it is reminiscent of the old quote about watching laws and sausages being made.  But there is a distinction that should be noted.  There are no laws actually being made when these resolutions are being created and then recognized on the floor.  One could make the argument these are legislative measures but let’s face it.  No one is thinking of this when they think about government and the creation of laws.

The reason this touched a nerve with me is that I served as an intern in the 2011 legislative session so I got a very close look at how the floor proceedings went.  Another element from the article that the author includes but does not elaborate on is the recognition of guests in the gallery.  Any time a guest of any importance to a representative was present they were generally recognized.  All-in-all, you could pretty much skip the first hour of every session roughly without missing any actual business, until they decided to change the rules (at least for the second part of that session) and made the recognitions at the end of the sessions instead of the beginning.

Sometimes the resolutions were very interesting and heartwarming when honoring some true heroes, for instance I believe at least one Medal of Honor winner was recognized with a telling of some of his story.  It’s hard not to be entranced a bit by some of these moments.  They are very dramatic and obviously we are drawn to that kind of heroics.  But for every one of those types of honors dealt out, there was seemingly a dozen or more where you just kind of stood there and went, “WTF?!  Shouldn’t you people be working?”  The worst day I can remember was walking into a session that usually started at 1 p.m.  I believe it was a little after 4 p.m. when they actually got to voting on any type of real legislation.  I could be mistaken but I vaguely recall the session adjourning around 5 p.m.  There were more days than I could count where the recognition of guests and the passing of resolutions took more time than the debating of any laws.

Now, I will make a couple of points here that should be noted.  The first is the importance of committees and the reality that most of the important debates on legislation happen there.  Committees give elected officials the chance to specialize in certain areas and that is a certainly good thing.  This means the floor sessions are not as in depth when it comes to debating the details of a typical bill and I see the efficiency in that structure.

The other point was made in the article:

Politicians use such measures to build relationships with voters. The gestures sometimes make the local paper or spread through the community by word of mouth — part of the advantage of incumbency.

And this makes perfect sense.  Elected officials use their platform to occasionally toot their own horns by bestowing symbolic honors on the people that support them.  Reasonable, yes, but when is it too much?

The ultimate question here is if all voters were truly aware of the amount of time devoted to these symbolic gestures that do not contribute to what most of us view as making law, would they really pay off and continue to be conducted by legislators?   In other words, if recognizing one person had a measurable effect of generating a positive reaction from ten people but a negative one from twenty, would this practice continue in its current form?

The answer is likely no but the reality is more people would have to pay attention to government in the first place for that to truly matter.

Defense Marketing

An interview with Israel’s ex-chief of Mossad (Israel’s CIA) appeared this week showing his opposition to a military strike against Iran.  He is joined in his opposition in Israel by other ex-high level officials who believe the outcome of a preemptive Israeli strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities would be dire but doesn’t dismiss the idea of Iran pursuing nuclear weapons.  His reason seems to be along the same lines Fareed Zakaria pointed out in recent months in terms of rationality for Iran.  This should all be coupled with the reality  of U.S. intelligence officials confirming there is no evidence Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons (I’ve previously mentioned).  The situation with Iran continues to be seemingly volatile and very dangerous but for reasons that don’t seem to exist.  Which makes one simply wonder, why?

Buy, Buy, Buy! (Credit: Wikipedia)

To answer one aspect of this, we should start with a question.  If defense is a big business and the government is the key producer and beneficiary, who is the marketer?  If we look at other markets the government participates in, the answer is clear.  Take, for example, education.  There are private schools allowed to market their products along with state-run institutions (speaking mostly of colleges here but obviously some previous schooling is needed for that) and there is the reality we know an education is important when we get to the age of needing work.  Health care is similar.  As we move on in life we realize we almost certainly need both of these things at one time or another.  There isn’t much need for the government to advertise for the necessity here since other elements of society do the marketing for them, but what about defense?

Everyone knows the United States stands alone in how much money goes into defense spending compared to the rest of the world.  How does this market get sold to us so it can be maintained?  Obviously, a commercial showing a country and making the case for an attack is a little over the top.  I can just imagine the ridiculousness this could take on as comedic commercials would no doubt find their way even into this type of marketing (although, some of the recent commercials we have seen with celebrities and athletes pimping war-like video games have been along these lines and give us an idea of what they would look like).

The truth is the marketing derives from the idea there is an enemy for us to fight and we need to maintain these spending levels in order to keep this enemy in check.  The enemy has evolved over time and when one runs its course another is chosen.  If we looked at Iran logically and accepted the statements of our own intelligence officials that they are not pursuing nuclear weapons, we would be discussing significant cuts in defense spending since we have no real threat.  But this isn’t happening.  In fact, Republican presidential nominee Romney is even promoting the idea of defense spending increases.  When the business is big, it must be continued and continuation means finding enemies, if necessary.  Let’s not forget Rumsfeld’s push for attacking Iraq after the 9/11 attacks which stemmed from the “Clean Break” report.  This is why there is little chance the Iran situation and the idea of military intervention as an option will die quietly, particularly in an election year.

The ultimate point here is: we have a big military (business) and we need a big enemy/threat (customer).  If that customer is no where to be seen in one market, it is up to the people running the business to find a new market to sell, sell, sell.  Hence, the marketing is now the suggestion of a threat whether real or perceived. The media obviously plays a big role in this by reporting the statements of government officials and (sometimes) not checking into the truthfulness of those statements.  But then again, how can they check them at times when the only source is the marketer of a product/government official?

The only thing we can hope to do to keep this business in check and stop abuses and corruption is through some type of oversight, similar to the idea of having the FDA making sure our food isn’t poisoned.  The way to do that is through more transparency by the government when a threat is suggested.  We are moving into an age where information flows more freely but, as we saw with the buildup to the War in Iraq, still not free enough.  If we knew the shakiness of the information to justify that war, the public would have overwhelmingly denounced it before the first shot was fired.  We should ask for that type of transparency in every action moving forward.

And if we don’t ask for that transparency, the marketers win in the short run and we lose in the long run.  Just like the Iraq War.

How Do We Decide Our Outrage About Civilian Casualties?

As the casualty count mounts in Syria, the outrage in the United States continues to grow.  The State Department has now made it clear they are very angry with Russia about their arms sales to Syria and because of those transactions, more people are dying.  Outrage is perfectly understood.  In fact let’s take it down to the bare bones.  An entity in one country is killing people in large numbers, many innocent civilians, and they are obtaining their arms from another country who benefits economically from the transaction.  The U.S. government has responded appropriately from a seemingly compassionate perspective.  The following from an article in the Christian Science Monitor:

At the State Department, spokeswoman Victoria Nuland laid the spilling of Syrian blood at Moscow’s feet. “On a daily basis, on an hourly basis, we are seeing Russian- and Soviet-made weaponry used against civilians in towns all across Syria,” she said.

People are dying “on an hourly basis.”  We should all be appalled at this and the idea a foreign country is contributing to the deaths in another through their arms policy is shameful to say the least.  In fact, we as Americans should expect nothing less from our government.  They should ask for policies that lessen the deaths of civilians in other countries and make sure the lives of so many are not ended so violently.  And we actually have another case to look at as far as this outrage goes.

There is another country in the world where arms policies are very negatively affecting the lives of civilians in a second country.  And in this one, the casualty per hour estimate has been projected to be even higher than Syria’s of one per hour.  In this country, it is estimated by the affected government to be one per half hour.  In this country, just like Syria, the death toll is estimated to be over ten thousand in the past year.  The killings in both are very brutal and innocent civilians are not safe in either.

Since the cases are so similar, we would obviously expect similar responses from the U.S. government as they would be doing all they can to stop this type of violence against civilians.  So, has the U.S. government condemned the country responsible for an arms policy that is killing someone every half hour in another country.  Well, no.  But why not?  Who are these other countries and what is this other situation?

The country negatively affected with the one per half hour death rate: Mexico.  The country with the arms policy affecting Mexico: the United States.  What’s the difference?  It certainly doesn’t seem to be casualty count.  If it were, the outrage would be the same from the U.S. government.  A hypothetical State Department quote would look like the one on Syria with a few words changed: On a daily basis, on a half hourly basis, we are seeing American-made weaponry used against civilians in towns all across Mexico.  Which leads to another potentially uncomfortable question for the U.S. government.

Is the selective outrage because the U.S. economy profits from one and the Russian economy profits from the other?  We are left to simply draw our own conclusions judging from the facts.