Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 16, 2012

How The Profit Motive Drives U.S. Policy

Jeremy Scahill story on Yemen provides insight into the mechanisms that drives U.S. policies.

There is no moral aspect in it. The mechanism is solely driven by an ideology of profit for the few which gets implanted into its various clients with the intent to provide a motive for more of the same.

The privatization in prisons in the U.S. is one example. If you have a private prison you want to further indictments to get it filled to, in the end, make more profit.

If you are hired for fighting terrorism you want it to stay, or even to increase, to continue your income.

The United States “funds the Political Security and the National Security [forces], which spend money traveling here and there, in Sanaa or in the US, with their family. All the tribes get is airstrikes against us.” He adds that counterterrorism “has become like an investment” for the US-backed units. “If they fight seriously, the funds will stop. They prolonged the conflict with Al Qaeda to receive more funds” from the United States.

That, in a nutshell, is how many Yemenis see the US role in their country. The United States “should have never made counterterrorism a source of profit for the regime, because that increased terrorism,” asserts Iryani. “Their agenda was to keep terrorism alive, because it was their cash cow.”

If an analyst in Yemen can figure this out why can't the U.S. electorate?

Posted by b on February 16, 2012 at 19:49 UTC | Permalink


I think the reason why most of the American electorate are turning a blind eye to war propaganda, assuming that they know it's propaganda, is because they believe that they personally have something to gain from our imperial wars -- whether it be more wealth, or more power, or both. That might have been true in the past, but today, it's not. Some of the gains from Empire used to trickle down to the masses, but now, none of them do. All of the gains remain stuck at the very top with no chance of them ever making their ways down to the rest of us.

This is largely why we no longer have a strong and vibrant middle class, and why we now have a government which caters exclusively to the rich. Wealth on Wall Street and power in government are working hand in glove to destroy what's left of our middle class. The sooner the American people come to realize this, the sooner we can all say NO to Empire and all of our imperial wars!

Posted by: Cynthia | Feb 16 2012 21:03 utc | 1

its hardly a mystery that US society is driven by money: politicians eps are powered by the funds they receive from those who understand that its not the voting that counts!

Posted by: brian | Feb 16 2012 21:03 utc | 2

and i meant to add that its a nobrainer that professionalism has the side effect of needing to augment the source of their income: so any Professional war on terror needs terrorists to justify its budget and existence.

Posted by: brian | Feb 16 2012 21:08 utc | 3

Relative to GDP, Israel has probably the world's biggest anti-terrorism industry complex, much of it for export.

If the anti-terrorism industry needs one thing, it's a bogeyman, particularly now that Obama is saying that he wants to marginally trim the exponential growth of the security industry.

Like most things Obama says, defense "cuts" won't survive the first contact with the DC political process, but it has the complex (Israel, military contractors, and anti-terrorism contractors) all spooked anyway. They're all in hyer-drive to bankrupt the US via "defense" spending.

It is the specter of those defense "cuts" that probably drives much of the supposed paranoia about Iran, the best bogeyman they have.

And who is Obama to stand in their way? Now that he's positioned himself publicly as someone favoring cuts, he'll be flooded with campaign donations from the "threatened" industries. Then, behind closed doors and out of public sight, he'll simply go back to business as usual, lavishing money on those wastrels.

Posted by: JohnH | Feb 16 2012 21:50 utc | 4

The mechanism is solely driven by an ideology of profit for the few which gets implanted into its various clients with the intent to provide a motive for more of the same.

Sort of like the German state impoverishing millions of Europeans in order to enrich financiers.

Posted by: slothrop | Feb 16 2012 22:18 utc | 5

*heh* How naïve we were back then... Big Time Crime...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 16 2012 23:17 utc | 6

Philip Giraldi really calls it like he sees it...

...It is a sad commentary on the state of the United States that ignorant, blowhard warmongers such as the BPC(and others)receive money, political support, and press coverage while groups that want to restore sanity and balance to American foreign policy are forced to scramble to raise nickels and dimes.

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 17 2012 1:03 utc | 7

Hot off the presses... From Haaretz...

U.S. intelligence chief: Iran not close to dropping nuclear plan

...James Clapper, the U.S. director of national intelligence, told the meeting that Israel might decide to attack Iran's nuclear facilities this spring, because the weather will be better then. (And after Bibi's spring election...) But he stressed that Jerusalem has as yet made no decision on the matter.

Lt. Gen. Ronald Burgess, head of the Defense Intelligence Agency, said that Iran has the "technical, scientific and industrial capability to eventually produce nuclear weapons." It also has missiles capable of reaching central Europe (Bullsh*t!) and could "attempt to employ terrorist surrogates worldwide."

Nevertheless, "the agency assesses Iran as unlikely to initiate or intentionally provoke a conflict."

Ya think...? 8-(

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 17 2012 2:21 utc | 8

'If an analyst in Yemen can figure this out why can't the U.S. electorate?'

maybe many can but they lack access to the media! Its the media professionals job to disseminate official ideas into the public mind...and prevent any flow back the other way.

Posted by: brian | Feb 17 2012 3:36 utc | 9

crude oil spot price = $102

Posted by: nikon | Feb 17 2012 5:53 utc | 10

And companies in the MIC take advantage of this type of climate. Just last night, a guy who helps to sell military aircraft said, "Ahmadinejad [of Iran] is my best salesman."

Posted by: JDsg | Feb 17 2012 8:38 utc | 11

Better yet, how the profit motive drives world policy. As sloth mentioned, Germany policy is suited to the Global Plutocrats as is Russian and Chinese policy. If Iran, Syria. Egypt.....the list goes on and on, cannot align themselves to that, they will be failed, and the U.S., at least currently, will be used as the cornerstone of the enforcement of those policies, and failing any regimes that do not cooperate, or do not fit the blueprint.

Posted by: Morocco Bama | Feb 17 2012 13:24 utc | 12

On privatizing prisons.....

Posted by: ben | Feb 17 2012 15:03 utc | 13

"If an analyst in Yemen can figure this out why can't the U.S. electorate?"

Cause he isn't in America getting bombarded with all this propaganda. Those DoDdollars buy a lot of media. You haven't done a story recently on the money going to propagandize for the DoD and the Pentagon.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 17 2012 15:09 utc | 14

Sort of like the German state impoverishing millions of Europeans in order to enrich financiers.

Why single out Germany Sloth? Except for the obvious trolling attempt.Germany is not alone in this, I remember seeing all 25 heads of state agreeing to the plan, with Britain the only one excluded due to its selfish attempts to get an exemption for the City of London.

Of course Germany is damned if it does, damned if it don't. If it sits back and does nothing everyone will scream that Germany is letting the EU states fail. But if Germany actually tries to intervene all the chicken-littles like you Sloth, will scream that Germany is taking over Europe.

But don't pin this on Germany because it is the biggest boy in the class. The EU still requires the approval of all member states to do anything. That is most likely its flaw, since the chances of getting 26 different governments to agree to one plan is maddeningly difficult. While China, Russia and the US can make descisive, bold decisions we are stuck in infinite meetings and compromises none of which ever work.

Posted by: Colm O' Toole | Feb 17 2012 15:15 utc | 15

JohnH 4, kind of like Occam's Razor is figure the most cynical angle possible--you've done it there, and I think you're right on.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 17 2012 15:17 utc | 16

@ ben - Here occupy goes again. What a ridiculous approach to ending that problem. Asking piranhas (corporations) not to feed in a swamp. If that isn't a sign of co-optation I don't know what is. As corrupt as government is, it is the only place to lobby. End the public revenue stream and you end the profit. Corporations will never quit feeding as long as government funds it.

Just like the certain failure of just ending corporate personhood... or taking on minute parts of NDAA instead of taking on the needless wars themselves... which authorizations of these wars give /or remove all of these NDAA powers.

The system is completely broken, entirely corrupted... how long will it take these occu-activists to learn this... and act accordingly? For now they look like a bunch of Dem party activists running in circles, going nowhere.

These occu-folks are simply out to rearrange furniture and place new doilies ... instead of replacing the rot with something which might just work.

Posted by: Eureka Springs | Feb 17 2012 16:15 utc | 17

And domestically, since the main "product" of the police-industrial complex is fear, it must regenerate that fear to justify and perpetuate its own existence.

Posted by: Cyrus | Feb 17 2012 16:21 utc | 18

These guys are supposed to be the Iranian intelligence officers involved in terror plots against Israel in Thailand!

Posted by: Paul | Feb 17 2012 16:51 utc | 19

Payment system SWIFT says ready to block Iran banks

Posted by: Paul | Feb 17 2012 17:23 utc | 20

ES @ 17: Agreed, but every journey begins with a first step or two, so maybe it's a beginning. Question is, how to get any message before the public given the state of our corporate media? I think maybe the rot has to be so pervasive the sheeple can't ignore it.

Posted by: ben | Feb 17 2012 17:38 utc | 21

Cynthia makes the key point: "... they believe that they personally have something to gain from our imperial wars -- whether it be more wealth, or more power, or both.Some of the gains from Empire used to trickle down to the masses, but now, none of them do."

In his "The Collapse of Complex Societies" Joseph Tainter analyses the general mechanics of this process in terms of the law of decreasing marginal returns. Beyond a certain point the costs of imperial expansion will exceed the marginal returns obtained. So these returns must be concentrated at the top to fund the ever greater costs of the imperial expansion. The reduced returns cannot be allowed to trickle down when the empire is obsessed with staving off its collapse.

Tainter's book is a must read.

Posted by: JohnE | Feb 17 2012 18:49 utc | 22

Must be a great book John. The best price I could find on my used book search was $35.13 US. For the time being I’ll settle for your synopsis which in itself I find valuable and the beginning of a good argument against Empire that might get the attention of some of the more elites than myself. Thanks for the recomendation.

Posted by: juannie | Feb 17 2012 23:19 utc | 23

Paul @ 20 -- Thnx for the link for this story of another US/Western attack on Iran's economy, this time using SWIFT.

On either CBS or NBC's evening national news broadcast, the expert brought on to discuss the situation said it would be done just like taking down someone's IP address (think SOPA, ACTA, etc.). Each country has a code, and the Iranian code would just be erased/blocked.

Now, to me, silly simple citizen that I am, this seems like a very aggressive action, possibly an act just short of war...or definitely economic war.... But I guess the biggest, baddest dog in the junkyard can just do whatever it a smaller nation or by ganging up.

Then, it struck me that possibly there are other nations in the world, some small, some much larger, which might consider this action by the US and its allies to be indicative of what the US might do to them should the US so desire. And, perhaps, there might be a strong move to develop an alternative to SWIFT, an alternative not controlled by the West.

Doable? Or would the flow of funds experience problems and, maybe, slow down international trade, transfers, etc.?

Posted by: jawbone | Feb 17 2012 23:56 utc | 24

Initially SWIFT will block sanctioned Iranian banks, but not the Central Bank. So all those Iranian banks will route their transactions via CBI, adding costs/overhead/resources.

The real question is whether SWIFT will at some point be forced to sanction CBI.

As for alternatives, I believe SIA S.p.A. has a system ( but this is also a European solution and I'm not sure whether it's in widespread use.

Posted by: Paul | Feb 18 2012 0:35 utc | 25

Paul, always remember that 'money' is completely fungible like Oil, and, even US treasury bonds...! ;-)

Fancy that, Trillions in fake T-bonds...! Anybody got a good press handy...? ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 18 2012 0:56 utc | 26

True, currency is fungible, but the move by SWIFT will severely impact trade with Iran, import of raw material, export of goods, ...

I am looking for potential solutions to this - any thoughts?

Posted by: Paul | Feb 18 2012 3:57 utc | 27

If an analyst in Yemen can figure this out why can't the U.S. electorate?

Americans (more than any other modern nation state's population) have been perpetually and relentlessly programed to consider things economic, to trump all other (human) considerations - to the point that it defines the national identity. This is the foundation of American exceptionalism, where this differential attitude is grounded as a particularly American profile that sets it apart from other countries, and is the secret to its success. Hence, the ridiculous and hysterical over reaction to the mere mention of the dreaded word "socialism".

One big problem with this overwrought favoritism for one particular "institution" over the other primary institutions is that their essential societal functions are both diminished in importance or relevance with respect to an overall societal balance, and open themselves to be infested and re-directed, if not entirely co-opted with alien and counter productive "other" interests. In this case "economic interests".

The other big problem is when economic institution(s) (on any or all levels) are permitted (or encouraged, even) to infiltrate and re-direct the function of other vital institutions - does so with with a particularly pernicious and insatiable appetite that tends to grow geometrically if not malignantly, demanding expansion at any risk or any cost. It (the economic) trends first to corrupt political and ideological institutions into deregulation, lower social responsibility, false historical narratives, and twisted objective (scientific) positions, which in turn corrupts the military away from normal defense measures into a tool for expanding economic opportunities through imperial conquest, by ultimately, disarming the final resistance on social, moral, ethical, and spiritual grounds.

All said, what we are witnessing is the red giant phase of the American empire, where on the outside it appears to grow more powerful through the fire light global expansion or adoption of its economic institutions, but in reality, and because, this expansion comes at the expense of its other human institutions, it grows more vacant internally even as it expands. The ultimate bubble. And for some reason nobody ever notices or takes heed of even a small domestic bubble until it explodes..

Posted by: anna missed | Feb 18 2012 4:05 utc | 28

Paul, India has already set up a direct Gold/Rupee exchange for Iranian Oil...! Seriously, the MOTUs are more pissed about Iran's Oil Bourse on Kish, than any potential Nuke program...! I've written about it once or twice before...! ;-)

Posted by: CTuttle | Feb 18 2012 8:41 utc | 29

its called Buddhist thought, this is one of the 3 poisons.

Posted by: brian | Feb 21 2012 20:35 utc | 30

The comments to this entry are closed.