Consider being on a National Campaign for Nonviolent Resistance conference call on Wed., Mar. 2 at 9 PM EST to continue to plan a climate chaos action of nonviolent civil resistance at the Pentagon on Apr. 8, calling for an end to the wars and for an end to policies that make the Pentagon the biggest polluter of our earth. Call me at 410-366-1637 or email me at mobuszewski at verizon.net to get the call-in number and access code.
Published on Tuesday, March 1, 2011 by The Guardian/UK
US Military Spending On Marches
How on earth do you get a bipartisan consensus against cuts and for stimulus? Call it the defence budget
by Mark Engler
With a new Congress with a House controlled by Republicans who have trumpeted deficit reduction as one of their central priorities, it would be logical to expect that there might be trimming in one of the largest and most bloated areas of US government spending
If you have been following the headlines, you might be under a different impression. The debate over defence cuts has intensified this year, as a wave of Tea Party-backed legislators, including Senators Tom Coburn (Oklahoma), Johnny Isakson (Georgia), Pat Toomey (Pennsylvania) and Rand Paul (
So, why isn't this resulting in a smaller Pentagon budget?
Rank-and-file revolt among conservatives has made some difference. On 16 February, 47 freshman Republicans in the House broke with their party's leadership and voted to cut funding for an expensive alternative engine for the F-35 fighter jet. This is an item which Defense Secretary Robert Gates has called "an unnecessary and extravagant expense", but which many veteran lawmakers have nevertheless fought to keep alive. Beyond this, the New York Times reported that Republicans "agreed to include $16bn in military cuts in this year's spending bill, which is being debated on the floor this week".
Yet, in truth, such reporting falls for a sleight of hand performed by the department of defence. Much of the discussion of "cutting" the military budget in
Moreover, the base defence budget is likely to go up even further in 2012, despite administration vows to tighten its belt. Possibly seeking to preempt critics, in early January, Secretary Gates proposed $78bn in spending cuts, and $100bn in cost-saving measures for the Pentagon. His proposed savings, however, are spread out over several years, and are offset by increases in other areas of defence spending. In the end, Gates's "reduced" budget request for 2012 still comes to $553bn, the largest in real terms since the second world war.
There's considerable precedent for the failure of elected officials to reduce spending on the military. In early 2009, Gates appeared before Congress to propose cuts to expensive, out-of-date, and behind-schedule weapons programs, urging members to "rise above parochial interests and consider what is in the best interest of the nation as a whole". The backlash from lawmakers was immediate. As Reuters reported, "it took just minutes" before a group of senators, including Jeff Sessions (Republican, Alabama), Joe Lieberman (Independent, Connecticut) and Mark Begich (Democrat, Alabama), had penned a letter to President Obama condemning the proposed $1.4bn cut in the missile defence program, arguing that it would leave the country vulnerable to attack by North Korea.
While politicians in
There's a peculiar irony here
That Congress is now slowing increases in defence spending can be seen as a small measure of progress. But we should not fool ourselves into believing that our elected officials intend to consider serious cuts to the military as part of their budget debate. Instead, what they have "on the table" is continued expansion of a seemingly insatiable military-industrial complex.
With research assistance provided by Eric Augenbraun
© 2011 Guardian Media
Mark Engler is a senior analyst with Foreign Policy In Focus and author of How to Rule the World: The Coming Battle Over the Global Economy (Nation Books, 2008). He can be reached via the website http://www.DemocracyUprising.com