Home     Writers     Op/Ed     Book Reviews     News     Bookstore     Photoshops     Submit     Search     Contact Us     Advertise  
  You are here: 





David Swanson: It's Not a "Defense" Department
Sunday, 13 June 2010 05:51
by David Swanson

The U.S. military budget, and the add-on war budget, and the total of the two have all been headed upwards for years and have been headed upwards for the past year and a half. Yes, I know, all you hear about is the one airplane that the so-called Secretary of Defense doesn't want but that Congress insists on giving him anyway. But he and the President have twice asked for a larger overall budget and twice been given it. And almost none of it has anything to do with defense.

The radical edge of acceptable discussion -- and really it's probably beyond the pale, and you may hear nothing of it -- is represented by a report released on Friday at http://comw.org/pda by the Project on Defense Alternatives and other members of the Sustainable Defense Task Force. They propose tweaking what they absurdly call the "defense" budget ever so slightly. Neither Gates nor Obama is likely to stand for such talk, and both are likely to nonetheless be depicted in the media as enemies of a "strong defense." Nonetheless, the new report is outrageously inadequate and laughably unsustainable. It's merely a baby step in the right direction. And such steps are so scandalous as to be met with silence in Washington.

"We should spend as much as necessary on national defense, but not one penny more," says the report, titled "Debt, Deficits, & Defense: A Way Forward" (DDD). Would that we, or even this report, could live up to that. Congressmen Barney Frank, Walter Jones, and Ron Paul, and Senator Ron Wyden requested the report, and it's a fine one as these things go. Congressman Dennis Kucinich used to be ostracized for suggesting a 15% cut to the Pentagon. Two years ago, Congressman Frank proposed a 25% cut, but much of the supposed cut came in the form of ending the current wars, something that -- as far as Frank is concerned -- will happen or not, at the pleasure of the President. The new report (DDD) looks at the non-war military budget alone and proposes cuts that would save "$960 billion between 2011 and 2020". That is to say, $96 billion per year. If the 2011 budget is $708 billion and it miraculously ceases to explode upward during the following nine years, but remains unchanged, then we're talking about a cut of 13.5%. If the budget continues to skyrocket, and the war budget too continues to climb, then we're talking about a much smaller cut.

Oh the outrage! The horror! Surely the commies and the terrorists, if not the krauts and the japs, will be marching us all off to camps tomorrow. Well, they might set off a bomb in Times Square. But because our military's actions antagonize the world and make us less safe, we are endangered by Pentagon budget cuts that are too small, not those that would be too large. DDD refers to the military budget as the "defense budget" and keeps up the pretense that it is used for defending us. The cuts it proposes are not aimed at reducing or eliminating wars of aggression, drone strikes, secret unauthorized coups and assassinations, or prisoner abuse. Instead they're focused on doing what we've been doing but doing it "right". In the words of the report:

"We have focused especially on:
• DoD programs that are based on unreliable or unproven technologies,
• Military missions and capabilities that exhibit low military utility or a poor cost-benefit payoff,
• Assets and capabilities that mismatch or substantially overmatch current and emerging military challenges, and
• Opportunities for providing needed capabilities and assets at lower cost via management reforms."

Known and very popular cialis coupon which gives all the chance to receive a discount for a preparation which has to be available and exactly cialis coupons has been found in the distant room of this big house about which wood-grouses in the houses tell.

In other words, we should cut out the waste, impose some accountability on the contracting, and buy the weapons that actually kill the most people for each dollar spent. So, according to DDD, we should reduce our nukes until we can only destroy the planet a reasonable number of times over, reduce "missile defense" programs, cut "peacetime" personnel down to 1.3 million (assuming there ever again is a "peacetime"), cut the Navy back from 10 naval air wings to 8, not buy the crazy planes and vehicles that don't work, etc. These are all moves in the right direction, but so is drilling 8 new oil wells in the Gulf of Mexico instead of 10. So is partially leaving Afghanistan in 8 more years instead of 10. So is giving Goldman Sachs $8 trillion instead of $10 trillion.

Section VII of the DDD report adds an important bit of information. Its title is "A Strategy of Restraint Would Allow Even Greater Savings." This section was drawn up by task force members from the Cato Institute who point out that:

"By cutting missions we can cut force structure -- reducing the number of US military personnel and the weapons and vehicles we procure for them. By cutting force structure and bringing back our forces from overseas, we can reduce the cost of operation and maintaining the military."

One step further in the argument would have explained the difference between offense and defense, between useful spending and spending that is not merely wasteful but actually endangers us and others. Our offensive military budget is larger than those of all conceivable enemies combined. It should be cut by at least two-thirds. But proposing to cut it by 13.5 percent is not just considered reckless; it's considered so horrifying as to be unmentionable.

Congressman Barney Frank was scheduled to hold a press conference at 10 a.m. on Friday in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center. When 100 teabaggers show up there shouting about their taxes, it's a national news story. I wonder if GE, Viacom, and Disney will fill you in on what Congressman Frank has to say about where some of that hated government spending could be curtailed. Don't hold your breath, but hold onto your wallet.

David Swanson is the author of the new book "Daybreak: Undoing the Imperial Presidency and Forming a More Perfect Union" by Seven Stories Press.  You can order it and find out when tour will be in your town: http://davidswanson.org/book.

More from this author:
U.S. v. Bush (9292 Hits)
By David Swanson Now, we almost all agree that Bush and Cheney have done bad things. But have they actually committed crimes? If you know...
The Melbourne Minutes: New Downing Street Memos from Down Under (10481 Hits)
By David Swanson Over a year before the United States launched an endless war on Iraq in what President George W. Bush told Congress was...
Be All That You Can Be: Leave the Army (8902 Hits)
By David Swanson As long as there has been a U.S. military, people have been leaving it. That choice has never been more appropriate than...
Closer to Home (8466 Hits)
By David Swanson I did something worse than St. Augustine did when I was a kid. I must confess I broke into a house on the other side of...
Honesty in Iraq (7638 Hits)
By David Swanson The Minneapolis Star-Tribune recently published an editorial that said of Bush: "His pronouncements now bear no...
Related Articles:
More “Culture Wars” Gibberish from nutcase David Brooks (16420 Hits)
Most of us know David Brooks as the balding goofball on “The Jim Lehrer News Hour” who shrugs his shoulders and giggles gleefully whenever...
Midterm Elections 2006: It's Always Darkest, Right Before ... It Goes Completely Black (13964 Hits)
by Phil Rockstroh If voting could change the system, it would be illegal. --Theodore Adorno "I can't go on. I'll go on....
It's Election Eve, Do You Know Where Your Country Is? (10916 Hits)
by Frank Lindorff When you go into the voting booth tomorrow, here are a few things you need to think about. First of all, this is not a...
Bring On The Horse Manure, It's Time For Another SOTU (5165 Hits)
by Winter Patriot The annual State Of The Union speech is due Tuesday night, so guess what we had in the news on Monday? Al-Qaeda No. 2...
The Bush Health Proposal Isn't a "Tax Break." It's Not Even a "Plan." (5958 Hits)
by R.J. Eskow The President's new health proposal isn't a plan - and it isn't a tax break, either (despite what some credulous journalists...

Add this page to your favorite Social Bookmarking websites
Comments (0)add comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger



Top 123