it’s not just what’s IN the $738 billion

bipartisan, House-passed 2020 NDAA…that’s important, but what’s been removed.

According to Andre Damon,

“The most important aspect of the legislation, besides the vast total sum authorized, was the stripping out of the bill of virtually every provision in the original House version that would have set limits on overseas military operations by the Trump administration.

The House-Senate conference removed a ban on US military support for the genocidal war by Saudi Arabia in Yemen, and a provision requiring that Trump obtain congressional approval before initiating any military operations against Iran.
The conferees also removed a measure that would repeal the 2002 Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF), which gave congressional approval in advance to the Bush administration’s invasion of Iraq. The AUMF is still being used—long after the overthrow and execution of Saddam Hussein—as the legal pretext for other US military actions in the Middle East.

Another House-passed restriction that disappeared in the conference committee would have barred deployment of a low-yield, submarine-launched nuclear warhead that would mark a major step towards “usable” nuclear weapons in a war with Russia or China.”

“The NDAA does include two restrictions on possible Trump military actions—but both were introduced by Democrats as part of their attacks on Trump from the right, as insufficiently aggressive towards Russia and North Korea. The bill would bar Trump from withdrawing the United States from NATO. It also bars reducing the US military deployment in South Korea to below 28,500 without a certification from the Pentagon that such a decision was in the US “national interest.”

“The conference committee also removed a provision that would have forbidden the president to shift money from the military budget to finance construction of the wall along the US-Mexico border. Trump carried out this unconstitutional diversion from the fiscal 2019 budget after the end of a 35-day partial shutdown of the federal government over the refusal of Congress to approve the building of the wall.

The bill does not rescind Trump’s executive order banning transgender soldiers in the military, and it bars the closure of the US torture center and prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.

The bulk of the bill, as the top-line number indicates, is endless spending for military buildup, including $71 billion for overseas operations (mainly Syria, Iraq, Afghanistan and drone warfare across the Middle East and North Africa), dozens more fighter jets and warships…”

“The bill provides the financial basis for carrying out the strategy enunciated by the Pentagon in January 2018, when it shelved the pretext of the “war on terror” and declared that the central axis of US military planning was wars with other great powers, particularly Russia and China.

The litany of anti-Russia and anti-China provisions includes:

  • an increase of $734.3 million in the European Defense Initiative for military construction, anti-submarine warfare
  • prohibiting military-to-military cooperation with Russia
  • prohibiting US government recognition of Crimea’s absorption into the Russian Federation
  • imposing sanctions related to the NordStream 2 and TurkStream pipelines from Russia to Germany and Eastern Europe
  • requiring the Pentagon to update its strategy against “malign influence” by including Russia and China
  • expressing support for the people of Hong Kong and their autonomy from China
  • supporting improvements in Taiwan’s military capabilities
  • adding the island states of the Pacific Ocean to the Indo-Pacific Maritime Security Initiative
  • prohibiting the purchase of rail cars and buses produced in China for federally financed mass transit systems (out of professed concern that these will be equipped to spy on Americans)

Dropped from the legislation were provisions setting standards for cleaning up toxic PFAS chemicals used in firefighting at Air Force bases and other military sites. There are at least 100 such sites in Michigan alone, and thousands across the country.”

Meanwhile, via

“The US Senate Foreign Relations Committee has approved a bill asking the State Department to determine whether Russia falls under criteria of a state sponsor of terrorism, potentially opening a way stricter sanctions.

The pretentiously titled ‘Stopping Malign Activities from Russian Terrorism (SMART) Act’ could potentially bring the already strained relations between Moscow and Washington to a new low.

Introduced by Senator Cory Gardner (R-Colorado) in April, it requires the Secretary of State to give “appropriate congressional committees” a straight answer on whether Russia could be designated a sponsor of terrorism.The bill also requires the State Department to determine and report to Congress whether the militia in the self-proclaimed Donetsk and Lugansk republics in eastern Ukraine can be considered “foreign terrorist organizations.”

And also from

“The US rolled out new sanctions against Iranian companies, including its largest airline Mahan Air, accused of “weapons of mass destruction proliferation” and transportation of lethal aid to Yemen.

The airline, which has been a target of Washington’s restrictions since 2011, has been repeatedly accused by the US of having deep ties with the Iraninan Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) and regularly transporting its troops and hardware around the region.

“The Iranian regime uses its aviation and shipping industries to supply its regional terrorist and militant groups with weapons, directly contributing to the devastating humanitarian crises in Syria and Yemen,” US Secretary of the Treasury Steven T. Mnuchin said in a statement.” [snip]

The sanctions might have “very heavy implications” for the airline, which will likely be barred from using airports in countries fearful of secondary sanctions coming from the US, as well as likely causing other problems, former Pentagon official Michael Maloof believes.

“It could affect their ability to get component parts, depending upon the type of an aircraft,” he told RT. “It could be devastating in that respect and affect the safety of passengers. It could ultimately have the effect of shutting down the airline – and maybe that’s what they [the US] want to do.”

Besides the air carrier, the sanctions also targeted an Iranian businessman, Abdolhossein Khedri, and two shipping companies belonging to him. The businessman stands accused of “terrorism support” and partaking in the IRGC “smuggling operations.”

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the move is part of “maximum pressure campaign of sanctions against Iran.”

And from our mafioso Chief Diplomat on Twitter:

(cross-posted at

2 responses to “it’s not just what’s IN the $738 billion

  1. I’m sorry not to be posting, wendye – this is really good research you are doing on this and all other matters here. I’m not finding anything I can be helpful in adding to, and that doesn’t just go for this site but really anything online where all the happenings just seem to be chaotic at present. Not chaos you or any blogger has initiated but chaos in terms of what is going on in the world.

    There was one post by a blogger named ‘norm de plume’ at NC commenting on the British election from which I’ve extracted one thing – and then I’ll give something on this particular subject as well. He said:

    “… the whole concept of party political representation is no longer fit for purpose. We need to have strong and resourceful individuals not tied to party structures (which in the end become carefully controlled ropes of restraint) standing as independents…”

    And on this post here, a very shallow reading (mine I mean) of the terms of the House bill leads me again to compare our Congress to that final paralysis of the USSR followed by the Yeltsin phase. Only difference being that the vultures are within our body politic, not coming from outside to ‘help’. Somehow during that moribund time when it seemed those vultures from the west were feasting on a very dead nation – something unperceived was happening. Because I love this country I would wish that here. Something unperceived, but nascent and rejuvenating.

    It’s all I’ve got. Norm’s entire comment was good – it’s attached to the analysis at NC of the Brit election, about halfway through.

    • it’s okay, juliania; we know your first loves are MoA. the saker, and NC (although that place i dunno bout, to say the truth), so we’re all honored by your presence when you do come by and comment. ;-)

      i’m not quite sure where norm de plume may have been headed with standing as independents, given there are any number of parties in britian, but the amerikan duopoly legacy parties have become One in far too many ways, save for a few social issues and useful (often insincere) Red Lines to shout at trump about. both parties are the parties of more war, even the ones who pretend not to be.

      wish i knew more about your analogy to the pre-yeltsin era, because this strikes me as brilliant even in my ignorance:
      “Only difference being that the vultures are within our body politic, not coming from outside to ‘help’. Somehow during that moribund time when it seemed those vultures from the west were feasting on a very dead nation – something unperceived was happening. Because I love this country I would wish that here. Something unperceived, but nascent and rejuvenating.”

      the nukes and ballistic missiles being funded? oh, god save us: from wsws this morning: ‘US tests INF-banned missile after Democrats rubber-stamp Trump’s nuclear build-up’, Andre Damon, 14 December 2019

      “The US Air Force has for the first time tested a ballistic missile (with a photo) that violated the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty in a threat to Russia and China. The Trump administration withdrew from the INF treaty in August as part of its efforts to vastly expand the US arsenal of nuclear weapons and loosen restrictions on their use.
      The test comes just days after House Democrats voted for a massive military spending bill that stripped out language limiting the Trump administration’s ability to develop and deploy new nuclear weapons.
      Notably, the latest version of the bill removes language that limited the deployment of the “low-yield” nuclear weapons being developed under Trump, which a group of former policymakers last year called “a gateway to nuclear catastrophe.”

      It also stripped out language that would have prevented the Pentagon from testing a new long-range Precision Strike Missile capable of flying beyond the INF range cutoff.

      The NDAA “supports” the plan by the military to produce 80 new plutonium pits—the heart of nuclear weapons—per year, proclaiming that “nuclear forces” are the “cornerstone of our national defense.”

      happy birthday, wd. the nuclear clock just hit 1 minute before midnight.

      glad you love this nation; i think i despise it: the largest purveyor of violence and terrorism on the planet.

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