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Thursday, February 09, 2006

The long war

The WSWS reviews the Pentagon's Quadrennial Defense Review, which documents how the government intends to waste the half-trillion dollars a year budgeted for "defense." It's very scary. Excerpts:
Envisioned in the document, the Defense Department’s Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), is a vaguely defined “long war” that will involve the use of military power all over the globe to suppress challenges to US interests both from popular insurgencies and geo-strategic rivals. In particular, the document singles out China as a potential military competitor that must be deterred.
With the increase, combined with tens of billions of dollars more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as well as funds separately allotted to the Energy Department to maintain America’s nuclear arsenal, US military spending will climb well above the half-trillion-dollar mark in the coming year. This is more than the amount spent by all other countries combined, accounting for more than half of the estimated $1 trillion in worldwide arms expenditures.
This will bring the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan thus far to $440 billion, rapidly approaching the cost (when adjusted for inflation) of the 13-year-long war in Vietnam.

The anticipated spending rate of $10 billion a month is 50 percent higher than last year. The Pentagon said the dramatic hike was due, in part, to the inclusion of funding to repair and replace the large amount of military equipment that has been damaged or destroyed in Iraq.

This massive spending proposal is driven ultimately by a policy, supported by the decisive sections of the American ruling elite and both major parties, of utilizing US military superiority as a means of countering the relative decline of American capitalism on the world market. The buildup of the US armed forces is aimed not at countering some ubiquitous terrorist menace, but at defending American economic and political hegemony against challenges from both popular movements and powerful economic rivals.

This strategy is spelled out in the QDR document released in conjunction with the budget request. That the document uses the term “long war,” a phrase that is increasingly replacing the “global war on terrorism” in Washington official-speak, has ominous implications. The term is aimed at accustoming US military personnel and the American public at large to a state of permanent warfare that will continue regardless of the outcome of the current interventions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

As the document states: “Currently, the struggle is centered in Iraq and Afghanistan, but we will need to be prepared and arranged to successfully defend our Nation and its interests around the globe for years to come.”

In another significant terminological shift, the Pentagon document defines the main enemy not as terrorists, but rather as “violent extremists” or merely “extremists.” This choice of words is not accidental. The thrust of the strategic conceptions outlined by the Pentagon review is the organization of the US military to violently quell any and all opposition to US domination.

Those who resist Washington’s economic and political hegemony are to be branded “extremists,” no matter what their ideological conceptions, and ruthlessly suppressed. The counterinsurgency methods elaborated in the document are aimed not merely at Islamist terrorist groups, but at any popular movement that emerges against US imperialism and its client regimes.
In case that wasn't clear enough, the QDR spells it out:
In regards to Latin America, the document presents as a growing concern in US military planning the “resurgence of populist authoritarian political movements in some countries, such as Venezuela,” which it says “threaten gains achieved and are a source of economic and political instability.”
Then there's this:
The document likewise spells out Washington’s intentions to increasingly deploy the US military for domestic purposes. The Pentagon, it states, will, on the order of the White House, use military forces to support “civil authorities for designated law enforcement and/or other activities.” It adds that it intends to “provide US NORTHCOM [the military command created in 2002 to oversee the US itself] with authority to stage forces and equipment domestically prior to potential incidents when possible.”
Orwell, like Murphy, was an optimist.