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Obama Expands the American Warfare State

By       Message Sherwood Ross     Permalink
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Although the U.S. is not in imminent danger of attack from any country, President Obama’s first budget further expands the Pentagon’s already dominant global operations.

Not even the prospect of a $3.1 trillion combined budget deficit for this year and next deters him. Let them chop the budget for black colleges and police officer death benefits, the Pentagon and its contractors continue to feast at the champagne-and-caviar table.

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It’s not as though for eight years the Bush Pentagon hadn’t nearly outspent the rest of the world combined on designing deadlier weapons and employing them in illegal wars.

Obama’s new $664 billion Pentagon budget is $21 billion higher (four percent) than the final Bush budget. It includes $65 billion for Afghanistan and $61 billion for Iraq. Why?

Well, here’s what Defense Secy. Robert Gates told the Naval War College April 17th: “The U.S. must not take its current dominance for granted…its battle fleet, by one estimate, is still larger than the next 13 navies combined---and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners.”

(Get that? “Larger than the next 13 navies combined.” What’s more, nearly every world power is our buddy. So where’s the urgent need to spend billions on expansion? And notice his use of the word “dominance.”)

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Gates went on to boast, “In terms of capabilities, the over-match is even greater. No country in the rest of the world has anything close to the reach and firepower to match a carrier strike group. And the U.S. has and will maintain 11 at least until 2040.”

Gates  seeks an incredible 2,400 new Joint Strike Fighter planes when the U.S. already is undisputed master of the skies. Think of that: 2,400 warplanes in the absence of an enemy!

At 100 million bucks a pop, that air armada will cost taxpayers over $240 billion.

As Sheldon Filger wrote in the May 16 Huffington Post of the Pentagon’s fiscal 2009 outlay: “This stratospheric expendure is equivalent to the combined totals for the next 25 largest military budgets on the planet.”

To get some idea of the perennial lopsided U.S. military spending requires only a  glance at the latest figures from the National Priorities Project of Northampton, Mass.:


The Pentagon claims it needs to be able to fight two wars at once.  However, if it did not go around starting wars it would be hard-pressed to find one. From what quarter does Gates expect an attack? Iran, with a puny military budget 1/100th our expenditure? Recall the last successful strike on U.S. soil was achieved not by a great army wielding sophisticated weapons but by a handful of terrorists with box cutters who hijacked airliners and used our own jet fuel for explosives. Yet the Pentagon expands as if gearing up to fight WWII.

“President Obama’s budget continues the decade-long uptick in Pentagon spending, which has grown by approximately 40% since 2000,” observes military policy analyst Travis Sloan of the Center For Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

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He notes the Obama budget “appears surprisingly large at first glance, especially in this economic climate.” Yet he sees reason for optimism as he believes Obama “will institute critical foreign and defense reforms that will make us safer and spend our money more wisely.” That’s his view.

Obama’s Pentagon budget, however, is certainly not going to make the people of Afghanistan safer.  His buildup there comes as Afghan President Hamid Karzai pleads in the strongest terms “for the U.S. to halt air strikes in his country, following attacks…that Afghan officials said killed 147 people,” Reuters reported. “We demand an end to these operations…an end to air strikes,” Karzai told CNN. (Demand? Puppets don’t pull strings.)

Defense Secretary Gates informed West Point cadets April 21st that Afghanistan is about “striking back at the staging ground of the perpetrators of the September 11th attack,” claiming “Afghanistan is widely viewed as a war of necessity.”

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Sherwood Ross worked as a reporter for the Chicago Daily News and contributed a regular "Workplace" column for Reuters. He has contributed to national magazines and hosted a talk show on WOL, Washington, D.C. In the Sixties he was active as public (more...)

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