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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/14/10

Secretary of Defense Gates Defense Savings Just a Bait and Switch

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In an interview with Tribune Newspapers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates said he wanted to save $10 billion in the next four years by reducing spending on civilian contractors and put the savings into weapons systems, rather than reducing the federal deficit.[1]

Amid signs that Republicans as well as Democrats are targeting the defense budget for deficit reduction, "Gates has launched a public relations blitz this month to build a case that the Pentagon is eliminating duplication and waste and that it would be unwise to further trim the defense budget, which is likely to top $700 billion this year".[2] Further he goes on to say, "What I'm trying to do is get control of our spending"to make the case credibly that in the very dangerous world we face today and are going to face in the years to come, it would be a terrible mistake to look at the Defense Department to solve the deficit problem."[3]

Au contraire, for this is all smoke and mirrors posturing by Gates talking about "reducing spending" because when it is juxtaposed to the entire bloated and unnecessary defense budget it is nothing more than nickel and dime chump change.

As this writer has alluded to many times in these pages[4], the defense budget is completely out of sync relative to the type of threats we face and that exist in today's world. Terrorists with hand held weapons, shoe bombers or those with suicide belts under their clothing or even the terrorists who commandeered the planes on 9/11 and who killed 3,000 innocent people that day does not constitute an imminent threat to this country's existence (now or forever) that justifies the unnecessary billions in expenditures by the Pentagon each year.

What is the need for building more atomic submarines with multiple nuclear warheads, aircraft carrier groups with new generation fighters patrolling the world, military bases scattered world wide while fighting two unnecessary wars in Muslim countries (and clandestinely in others) when there is no imminent or existential threats now or in the future toward this country or any of its allies?

The potential "real" threats died with the demise of the Soviet Union in 1991. Russia is no longer a super power with a world hegemonic presence, Germany and Japan are no longer imperial menaces, China is an economic powerhouse with India just a few steps behind.

Terrorists have no massive armies, navies or air forces. They control no countries. Osama bin Laden talks of some world dominating "Caliphate" and issues "death to America" rants but his terrorism or any of the "insurgents" we have labeled as terrorists do not constitute the type of threat to justify our outrageous military expenditures.

This is a ruse perpetrated by the military/industrial/political complex (that Eisenhower warned against in his farewell speech in 1960) enabled by certain think tank experts and assorted pundits of their ilk and foisted upon the American people as something dire. Think of Bush with his "They hate us for our freedom" nonsense. And better to fight "them" over there rather than fighting "them" here.

Now Iran is presented as a primary threat accused of pursuing a nuclear weapon's capability while North Korea has developed its own small arsenal. Both of course would be annihilated in a massive retaliation by us. Though both regimes are bombastic and issue threats, neither has shown suicidal tendencies. They exhibit the usual repression of their own people and do everything within their means to retain their power and control over their people.

Stalin and Mao, two of the most ruthless dictators who ever existed and both with massive nuclear arsenals under their command were successfully contained by mutually assured destruction (MAD). Why should today's despots and their regimes be and act any different?

There are many struggles at work in the world be they ethnic or religious conflicts, remnants of past colonial rulers, border disputes, conflicts over natural resources to say nothing of the injustice inflicted upon people the world over. Add in man made economic and environmental calamities, plus earthquakes, floods, famines, droughts, hurricanes and the effects of global warming that could threaten the survival of human existence" these are real problems that require our attention.

This is where our focus should be, not on imaginary threats that simply don't exist.

[1] "Gates proposes billions in cuts in pre-emptive strike; he wants savings put back into weapons systems as din on deficits grows, by David S. Cloud, "The Baltimore Sun", August 14, 2010

[2] See footnote #1

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