Major daily US paper pushes cutting war spending
|May 25, 2010||Posted by Jeffery J. Smith under Progress Report, The Progress Report|
Major daily US paper pushes cutting war spending
Will Hard Times Finally Discipline the Pentagon?
With the hurtful US economy as well as a staggering national debt, this could prove a rare window of opportunity, unmatched since the collapse of the Soviet Union and the end of the Cold War. We trim, blend, and append four 2010 articles from: (1) The Christian Science Monitor, May 20, on Gates by Gordon Lubold; (2) USA Today, May 21 editorial; (3) TruthOut May 20 on overmatch by Christopher Hellman of TomDispatch and for ten years a congressional staffer working on national security and foreign policy issues; and (4) TruthOut May 11 on the Osprey by William Rivers Pitt.
by G. Lubold, by USA Today, by Ch. Hellman, and by W. R. Pitt
- Secretary Gates: Pentagon must trim its fat
Defense Secretary Robert Gates, appearing with Adm. Mike Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that during a period of continued conflict, the military budget should grow modestly but steadily. But excesses exist and belt-tightening is important.
He reiterated his intent to recommend that President Obama veto the military spending bill if Congress insists on a second engine for the Joint Strike Fighter. Last year Gates successfully cut the Air Forces F-22 stealth fighter program.
Gates would like to reduce the number of senior uniformed and civilian leaders in Europe, where despite a smaller force there remain dozens of senior officers and civilian equivalents.
- USA Today: It’s time to put a hold on the Pentagon’s blank check
If Washington is ever going to get the federal deficit under control, Congress is going to have to change its attitude about a lot of budgetary sacred cows. That includes national defense, which for the most part has enjoyed a blank check since the 9/11 attacks.
Military spending has more than doubled over that period, when the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are included. Those wars must be fully funded, but they won’t last forever, and Pentagon spending reaches much farther and wider. It is the second largest piece of the federal budget, after Social Security, and too big to get a pass.
Fortunately, the secretary of Defense seems to feel the same way. Robert Gates harshly criticized weapons systems with huge cost overruns and a bureaucracy so swollen that it takes five four-star offices to approve a request to send a dog-handling team to Afghanistan.
“Does the number of warships we have and are building really put America at risk when the U.S. battle fleet is larger than the next 13 navies combined, 11 of which belong to allies and partners?” he asked. “Is it a dire threat that by 2020, the United States will have only 20 times more advanced stealth fighters than China?”
President Obama flinched, exempting defense from a three-year freeze he wants to impose on other discretionary spending. The deficit is so big that the nation can’t afford to exempt any part of the budget. Surely the $719 billion the Pentagon will spend this year– almost as much as the rest of the world’s defense spending combined — is enough.
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As Secretary Gates put it in a May 8th speech at the Eisenhower Presidential Library (a venue clearly chosen to bring to mind the president who first warned Americans of the “military-industrial complex”): “The attacks of September 11, 2001, opened a gusher … The gusher has been turned off, and will stay off for a good period of time.”
A March 2009 report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that total acquisition costs for the Pentagon’s 96 major weapons programs had grown by 25% over their lifetime. In addition, 42% of them had experienced cost growth of more than 25%. The GAO also found that such programs were increasingly behind schedule delivering weapons that were ready for use in combat. On average, the program delay for a major weapons system was 22 months in 2008, up from 18 months in 2003.
The level of US “overmatch” becomes more obvious when you consider US military spending compared to that of the rest of the world. According to the latest figures from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, the United States accounts for 42% of total global military spending, more than exceeding the combined spending of the next 15 most powerful countries. The United States and its allies now account for two-thirds of total world military expenditures.
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One Osprey helicopter — which the Marines call “the widowmaker” because the things don’t work (an Osprey crash in Afghanistan killed four people just last month) — costs $70 million. Bell-Boeing has sold some 450 of them, which comes to $31,500,000,000.00.
Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan cost the American taxpayers millions of dollars a minute, and have cost hundreds of billions of dollars already, and that’s leaving out the burdens placed on tens of thousands of families who have a member killed or maimed.
The Bush administration TARP bailout of Wall Street alone cost $89 billion, and that’s before we get into the cost of President Obama’s “American Recovery and Investment Act.”
What about those Ospreys helicopters we absolutely do not need, even if they did work? What about the billions stolen by US “defense” contractors in an orgy of fraud in Iraq? What about the $1 trillion allocated this year alone for the “national defense” budget?
Shaving the tiniest percent off the 2010 “defense” budget would feed, clothe, and educate every person in America, and we’d still have the most awesomely formidable military arsenal in the history of the galaxy.
JJS: We dont have to spend public dollars on basic human needs to try to justify cutting spending on war. The writers above easily show that the US spends too much on killing, regardless.
Further, is it the job of government to feed, clothe, and educate or indoctrinate? Perhaps parents, families, and individuals could handle those tasks better.
Maybe what they really need is less government: less taxation of wages, investments, sales, and buildings. Less subsidy of corporate welfare. And ultimately a fair share of the commonwealth, of all the money we spend on the nature and resources we use. Given such a geonomic reform, people could easily afford to take care of themselves. And being secure, theyd be more resistant to the siren song of military recruiters.
Editor Jeffery J. Smith runs the Forum on Geonomics.
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If the generals can be a bit rational, can politicians?
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