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Entries tagged "military"Page 1 • 2 Next
February 22, 2013 · By Miriam Pemberton
This strange animal called sequestration is certainly wreaking havoc with our customary ideological boundaries.
If you’re an advocate, Iike I am, for revamped federal priorities that shift resources from a bloated Pentagon budget toward neglected domestic priorities, your take on this animal can’t be simple. You say cutting everything indiscriminately is a bad way to run a government (this view is nearly universal). You oppose the cuts in the domestic budget that will leave us with fewer food safety inspectors, medical researchers, Head Start teachers, and airport baggage screeners on the job. But you can reel off long lists of ways to cut waste in the Pentagon budget to the levels prescribed by sequestration, and show that these cuts will leave us completely safe.
But you also know that the whole conversation is focused on the wrong topic. It’s past time to shift this conversation away from austerity and toward investment to create jobs, as clear majorities of voters said in November was what they wanted.
Now let’s look at the Washington Post’s blogger who says he writes “from a liberal perspective,” Greg Sargent. On Wednesday he went at the Republican position on sequestration, wielding a new report from the non-partisan Congressional Research Service. The report found that the single most important cause of increased income inequality in recent years is the favored tax treatment given to capital gains and stock dividends — i.e. what the rich have used to get richer.
The Democrats, as Sargent points out, want to change this, taxing the rich and using the proceeds to replace the sequester cuts. The Republicans want to stick with sequestration and keep this favored treatment for the rich.
But all of this puts the Republicans, says Sargent, in the position of “openly conceding that the sequester will gut the military.” It’s a concession that Sargent appears to be taking at face value. Or at least not calling into question.
Gut the military? That’s what the Joint Chiefs of Staff have been saying any chance they get. Sequestration would “invite aggression,” says lingering Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. It will “put the nation at greater risk of coercion,” says the Joint Chiefs Chair, Martin Dempsey. When asked at a recent congressional hearing which nation might coerce us, though, he couldn’t say.
In fact, sequestration will not “gut” our military. Our military budget has nearly doubled since 2001. Sequestration would take it back to the level it was in 2007 — when we were still fighting two wars. Adjusted for inflation, it would leave that budget higher than its Cold War average — when we had an adversary that was spending roughly what we were on its military. Now, as Michael Cohen notes in The Guardian, the closest thing to a peer adversary we have is China, and we are spending more on research and development of new weapons than the Chinese are spending on their entire military. We spend more on our military, in fact, than the next 14 countries put together.
After the longest period of war in our history, we are due for a defense downsizing. Sequestration would create a shallower downsizing than any of the previous postwar periods since World War II. We can do this, and we should. We need the money for other things.
As sequestration threatens to confuse us all, let’s be sure to stay clear on that, at least.
January 15, 2013 · By Emira Woods
"There cannot be a military solution to this crisis in Mali," Emira Woods said on the PBS NewsHour. "The crisis has its roots in political and also economic processes, with people in the northern part of the country feeling completely marginalized from the rest of the country."
Woods is the co-director of Foreign Policy in Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies. You may read the full transcript of her comments on the NewsHour's website.
"So clearly what you had was an opportunity because of the intervention, the NATO intervention in Libya, unleashing weapons, both from Qadaffi's coffers as well as from the international community, weapons flowing from Libya, across borders of Algeria, into northern Mali, to be able to actually create a crisis, and further destabilize northern Mali," said Woods. "So I think what you have is a situation where unilateral intervention could create complications down the road, both for civilians that could be targeted in these airstrikes, as well as for further complicating a political crisis that may not be resolved militarily."
July 25, 2012 · By Matias Ramos
Did you know there are more than 800,000 government officials with top-level clearance to combat terrorism? A friend of IPS went on MSNBC last week to sort out what that costs us during a time of massive deficits:
The Ed Show's guest host Michael Eric Dyson reported last week on former Vice President Dick Cheney's visit to Congress, where he lobbied Republicans in the House of Representatives to oppose defense cuts to which their party has already agreed during the so-called "Super Committee" process last fall. Under the agreement, sequestration will result in automatic cuts to both defense and safety net programs in January 1, 2013.
His guest, Col. Lawrence Wilkerson (Ret.) is a member of a task force organized by the Institute for Policy Studies and the Center for American Progress. It produces the yearly Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States. In the report, experts from various fields explain how a new approach that emphasized diplomacy and collaboration would help balance the budget and make us safer.
December 22, 2010 · By Karen Dolan
Let's celebrate this day, Dec 22 2010. It is the day President Barak Obama signs into the law the repeal of the onerous policy of "Don't Ask, Don't Tell" in which a person can be expelled from the U.S. military based on his or her sexual orientation. This policy was egregiously discriminatory and should never have been implemented. That the Senate was able to garner significant bipartisan support for its eleventh hour repeal this 111th Congress is remarkable and reason for celebrating indeed.
Finally, a victory.
Finally, a campaign promise fulfilled.
Finally, a long-overdue step forward for civil rights achieved.
Now, I don't want to diminish the victory nor dilute the champagne and I won't. But I do simply want also to point out that as a nation, and certainly as a human society globally, we have a long way to go toward advancing equal rights and equal protections for gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered youth and adults. And, as a nation and a global human society, we have a long way to go to transform from a militaristic, war-torn world into one in which governments and their militaries- gay, straight or otherwise- end war crimes and imperialistic ventures for profit, power and greed.
Its Christmas. Whatever your religion or lack thereof, its a good time to contemplate Peace on Earth, Goodwill to All. In that vein, celebrate the repeal of the discriminatory Don't Ask, Don't Tell policy and rededicate yourselves to continuing the struggle for peace and equality at home and abroad.
Tis the Season.
June 14, 2010 · By Jennifer Doak
The Hill reported Friday on a congressional panel, commissioned by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA), which proposed a new mindset toward defense:
The Sustainable Defense Task Force, a commission of scholars from a broad ideological spectrum…laid out actions the government could take that could save as much as $960 billion between 2011 and 2020.
Measures presented by the task force include making significant reductions to the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program, which has strong support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates; delaying the procurement of a new midair refueling tanker the Air Force has identified as one of its top acquisition priorities; and reducing the Navy’s fleet to 230 ships instead of the 313 eyed by the service.
The taskforce also "recommended cuts to the U.S. nuclear arsenal, a reduction of 200,000 military personnel, smaller U.S. military presence in Asia and Europe and fewer tactical Air Force fighter wings. Other savings would come from shrinking the Navy to 230 ships from 287 currently, spending less on research, cuts or delays in big weapons programs, and higher health care premiums for the military," according to Reuters.
Even Frank admitted that getting Congress on board with many of these recommendations would be an uphill battle. The acceptance of the recommendations would depend on a “philosophical change" and a “redefinition of the strategy,” Frank said at press conference on Capitol Hill.
But it's time for such a change. The vast amounts of money spent on faulty or deteriorating weapons systems and unused nuclear weapons are sorely needed for jobs, infrastructure, and green technology research. And a good place to start consolidating existing defense funds would be through a unified security budget. Writes IPS research fellow Miriam Pemberton (who was also on the taskforce):
The budgets they draw up for the Pentagon keep on growing, and the cuts in military programs they support are almost exclusively designed to be plowed back in to other military programs.
As our nation continues to struggle with the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, it's even more important that every penny of our tax dollars is spent wisely. It's encouraging to hear Obama administration officials taking a fresh look at more balanced and efficient national security budgeting.
You can read the Sustainable Defense Task Force's full report here.