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Thursday, December 15, 2005

Real imperialists waste their money wisely

That headline is my "shorter" version for today's NY Times editorial, which ought to put to rest any doubts that the "Grey Lady" is not totally a tool of the military-industrial-imperial complex. Excerpts:
After the Pentagon's spending orgy over the past five years, there is plenty of scope for cutting, without weakening America's defenses - but only if the cuts come out of the most costly and least needed Air Force and Navy weapons programs, not from the money required to replenish and re-equip the Army and Marine ground forces that have been worn down by Iraq.

Alleviating the dangerous strain on America's overstretched, underrested and increasingly taxed land-based forces must be the Pentagon's highest priority for the next five years. Even if it becomes possible to draw down some fraction of the troops now in Iraq and Afghanistan, the overall size of America's land forces needs to be increased to reverse the declines in readiness and morale, help recruiting, and reduce the reliance on the Reserves for overseas combat.

America cannot be a global military power without a healthy Army. Without significant new investment to add and train more soldiers, the Army's strength will continue to deteriorate.

Very few critics of the military's spending priorities want the United States to relinquish its current dominance in the skies and on the seas.
The Air Force and the Navy can play only secondary roles in wars like Iraq. Their spending plans are increasingly oriented toward the possibility of future military conflict with China. That is not totally absurd. China's military planning is increasingly oriented toward the possibility of future conflict with the United States, like, for example, a clash over the Taiwan Strait. But war with China is a remote, unlikely and avoidable contingency. It should not dominate current military spending - especially if China is simply being used as an excuse to justify expensive equipment the Pentagon wants to buy. Given the huge lead the United States now holds in air and sea technology, the Navy and Air Force can be re-equipped with everything they really need at a more realistic and affordable pace.

The Air Force should step up the pace of its introduction of unpiloted drones, which can be used for surveillance and for attacks. They are much cheaper than fighter jets and do not risk pilots' lives.
[I]n a world of finite resources, excessive spending on the wrong weapons comes at the expense of real military needs, like building up America's ground forces. Surely $2.3 trillion over the next five years, allocated wisely, ought to be enough to provide for all of America's military needs in all likely combat contingencies. It would be scandalous to spend that kind of money and still come up short in real wars like Iraq.

I'll start at the end. "Real wars like Iraq?" Aren't real wars fought against real enemies for real reasons? What's scandalous is starting wars like Iraq in the first place. If running out of money is what it will take to stop that idiocy, then by all means let's run out of money.

And how about cutting BOTH the piloted fighters and bombers AND the creepy drones? Let's fight the next war with George W. Bush on a mountain bike armed with a bag of pretzels.

And preparing for war with China because China is preparing to defend itself because we are preparing for war with China "is not totally absurd?" I thought they fired Judy Miller.

And count me as one critic who demands that the Pentagon relinquish its dominance in the skies and on the seas. It does almost nothing to protect or promote our security or well-being. Cut it all!!

"America cannot be a global military power without a healthy Army." They say that like being a global military power is a good thing! The military and the wars it fights are the most visible and violent means by which the wealthy continually rob the poor. The military is used to rob other nations of their resources, and to fund the "iron triangle" of corruption--military contractors, the Pentagon, and Congress. (The Duke Cunningham scandal is just the tip of the tip of the iceberg.) The U.S. would be a safer and better and more democratic place if the defense budget were cut by 90 percent or more. Instead, the NY Times is calling for rebuilding the Army and Marines so we'll be prepared to invade somewhere else. Count me out.