Pentagon Spending and Procurement Crisis Looms?

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I have my doubts whether Obama can simultaneously pull off any kind of serious reform of the military services while also trying to engineer a few “Nixon Goes to China” moments in our national security policies.
He needs the generals and admirals to help him achieve strategic change — and doesn’t want to fight them right now on their internal arrangements and spending. In fact, during the campaign, Obama supports an increase in the size of the military by 92,000 soldiers.


But in this long but fascinating piece, Chalmers Johnson argues that the Pentagon is facing a major production and spending crisis that demands some tough judgment calls.
Chalmers Johnson opens the piece with this:

Like much of the rest of the world, Americans know that the United States automotive industry is in the grips of what may be a fatal decline. Unless it receives emergency financing and undergoes significant reform, it is undoubtedly headed for the graveyard in which many American industries are already buried, including those that made televisions and other consumer electronics, many types of scientific and medical equipment, machine tools, textiles and much earth-moving equipment – and that’s to name only the most obvious candidates.
They all lost their competitiveness to newly emerging economies that were able to outpace them in innovative design, price, quality, service and fuel economy, among other things.
A similar, if far less well known, crisis exists when it comes to the military-industrial complex. That crisis has its roots in the deceitful practices that have long characterized the high command of the armed forces, civilian executives of the armaments industries, and Congressional opportunists looking for pork-barrel projects, defense installations for their districts, or even bribes for votes.
Given our economic crisis, the estimated trillion dollars we spend each year on the military and its weaponry is simply unsustainable. Even if present fiscal constraints no longer existed, we would still have misspent too much of our tax revenues on too few, overly expensive, overly complex weapons systems that leave us ill-prepared to defend the country in a real military emergency. We face a double crisis at the Pentagon: we can no longer afford the pretense of being the Earth’s sole superpower, and we cannot afford to perpetuate a system in which the military-industrial complex makes its fortune off inferior, poorly designed weapons.

— Steve Clemons

Comments

31 comments on “Pentagon Spending and Procurement Crisis Looms?

  1. mulugeta Sisay says:

    After several decades slave trade emerges in the name of Neocolonialism in Ethiopia. “Blind believers on the Holy Books “(both in Bible and Quran) start a campaign that demonstrates the Inequality Human beings on the face of God.
    Amazingly, these dehumanized sections of human beings are nowadays sold in free slavery market openly in Ethiopia. The means of selling these segments of human beings are first by making them mad through injecting toxic chemicals or by giving them toxic chemicals in their food, drinking, etc. After they become mad they serve for Security Purpose.
    Really, really, they dehumanized them.
    Mothers and Fathers in particular Families in General are striving/ rushing to sell their own Children.
    A mother eats her child in Ethipia
    Save my Soul Says:
    December 16, 2008 at 1:54 pm
    Warning:-
    Now, Ethiopian is attempting to commence the establishment of A Nuclear Energy Station in Ambo town. On the other hand it is obvious that Ethiopia is now practicing the Politics of Ethnicity. And this Nuclear power is supposed to be on the hands of one Ethnic group. I, as a foreigner, suggest that Ethiopia must halt this Nuclear Energy Power Station establishment Programme.
    It is a known fact that the establishment of this nuclear Energy Power Station was carried out before in the time of the Dergue Regime (In the regime of Commrade Mengistu H/mariam’s time)
    Therefore, western countries, UN, AU and EU and Others must Pressure Ethiopia to stop this programme before a huge Disaster or Destruction happens in Ethiopia.
    Moreover, these concerned parties for the world’s peace and stability must keep a close watch on Ethiopia not to start the same programme in different and hidden places. You might assume that Ethiopia has not the capacity both in financial and Technical terms however I can dare fully say that Ethiopia has a secret, confidential relationship and strongly bonded with AL-Quaeida chain or Network.
    Do not take this thing as a futile or a pipedream you don’t know Ethiopian’s they have two hearts and they are identified by their unique surd personality.
    Really, really,………, really it is a genuine and innocent concern.
    Innocent and Genuine person, like me should not be harmed and must be protected from butcher’s/Ethiopian’s.
    SoS Says:
    December 18, 2008 at 7:27 am
    Ethiopians are known pleading you not a million’s of bucks, they are urging you a spoonful of blood. The real Vampires are now identified where they are found it is in Ethiopia. Oh!!!! Blood suckers!!!!! Their philosophy is the ultimate product of the food digestion process is blood and thus in stead of wasting your time by eating foods in the form of its primary stage ,i.e. in its undigested form they prefer and believe that sucking human’s blood is the best and advisable thing by specialist Doctor’s in the area of this Specialization . Therefore from now on wards to live in Ethiopia there is no need of either a passport or a penny the only thing that is expected from you is the ability to suck human’s blood. What amazing thing is happening in Ethiopia!!!!!!!!!!!
    I sure that the next phase or generation or development of this newly invented thinking philosophy is supposed to be advance or replaced by eating Human’s meat meat, In fact I heard through the grapevine that selling Human’s raw meat is started in some remote areas of Ethiopia however after a short periods of it will be widespread in all parts of Ethiopia.
    Oh my Lord God what a Devil sprit believers are found in Ethiopia
    SoS Says:
    December 19, 2008 at 7:18 am
    The Universal Declaration or Guideline or Procedure for the selection of Security Guy in Ethiopia:
     By majority Vote and impressing individual right under grade or stigmatize the person.
     Forcefully or by denying the individuals personal thinking decline his/her all ideas, i.e. demoralize him/her.
     Making him/her to feel guilty conscious.
     Making him/her to segregate himself/herself
     Making him/her to flamboyant
     Making him/ her Mad
     Taking him/her to Mania center
     Giving him/her the prepared drugs for this purpose through injection or meal
     Staying him/her for a certain periods of time in the mania center
     Making him/her to be tiresome in his/her stay in the center
     Leaving him/her to exit from the center bare body
     Following him through the device or technology designed for this purpose whenever he/she makes any move ,i.e. Movement is crucial for this matter
    Is there a need of any other evidence for the violation of
    Individual Right in Ethiopia
    Ethiopia Go to hell
    SoS Says:
    December 23, 2008 at 1:56 pm
    I just now bothering that what the NGOs are doing for the alleviation of the famine and the instability faced Ethiopia, In the name of the Political struggle in peaceful way political parties are pressuring the people’s to eat each other.
    Sucking human’s blood and eating human’s raw meat are rampant in all over the country.
    Anarchism, ethnicity, blood tie/unfair treatment of human being’s, discrimination of color, and discrimination of political assimilation all in all wide spread at the grass root level in all over the country.
    What is the solution? No one knows, simply peoples are leading their life instinctively. Even some are governing themselves in stead of the constitutional law the country has, they govern themselves by their backbone relatives.
    The government is now taking action as a remedy to strengthen the security of the country using human being’s as an instrument or a tool. It is targeted on human’s who has no mother, no father, no family and economically poor people. But this is with out their willingness. The harsh part of this act is even they used them as a toilet these segment of human beings, Mind you how stupid they are? Why humans have anus? It is Obvious!!!!!
    The country is governed by constitutional law or Holy books? I am Wrangling know.
    Peoples are segregating them selves by invisible spirit; they group them selves as Lion group, as tiger group as ,as rat group, as Vampire group, as snake group ,as …. Animal group. Oh!!!!! Animalism.
    I am not sure in which group I categorized myself? How can I know my kingdom type? Is it by virtue?
    I think the people are now practicing the principles of a coin:
    Flip a Man: the outcome is, the man is either …..Or….. Party supporter.
    SoS Says:
    December 24, 2008 at 10:55 am
    They Revenge me in One Way, What will be the Second part of their Revenge?
    I am writing from Addis Ababa right from the capital city of Ethiopia. Addis Ababa is no so dark more than forever before .Life in this city is too miserable for the person who has no close linkage with the Government Police or Military Power. The two groups are exploiting the people by blood tie relation. I wanna share you something that happened to me. I was born in Kennya-Ethiopian border Mobassa, but when I was five years old my families took me Asmara and grew up and learn in Eriteria. I have a BA from Asmara University. Since the Ethio-Eriterian con commences I was there. When the war starts they took me in the war front, when the war reaches at the peak point, unfortunately I wound and give hands to the Ethiopia’s troop. After awhile they me in Dessie prison station, I stayed about two year there in my stay in this prison station I passed very difficult time to mention in words they bind me, they torch me with electric, they hang me to breath words or give information to them, but I have n’t any information they want, on account of the fact that I was a civil citizen and went to the war front forcefully. Then after two months later they took me in West Harerghe prison station and stay that six months and in a similar fashion they bind me, they torch me in severely, incredibly ,may be no one not to see even not the chance to hear this draconian measure they raped me ,mind you when a male is to be raped.
    After six months of stay here they took me in Addis Ababa in some prison station which I do not know since it is my first time to see the town. And stay here for three years .When I was here I was so sick and I was in the verge of life and death. Since I was in prison for a long time, I was sick of to resist the harsh treatment of the prison. Therefore I escaped from the prison with my fellow and go to some hidden place and now still I am in this hidden place and for the sake of my security I do not want to mention the Place. But I do need your advice how can I return to my home land or plead political asylum in any foreign embassy for a short period of time.
    The fugitive

    Reply

  2. erichwwk says:

    To Don Bacon:
    I agree that Obama was clear in defining “Change” in ways other than a “progressive” (apologies for the laziness on my part implied by the use of such a general label) in at least two important ways:
    1) his willingness to continue the GWOT, by transferring the focus from Iraq (where his “withdrawal” seems marginally faster than that which the Iraqis themselves could impose) to Afghanistan
    2)his willingness to cater to the health care industry by his unwillingness to put on the table exactly what value the insurance industry adds to primary health care delivery system.
    But you seem to take a much stronger position, that his current policy is NOT as a result of being outmaneuvered by the “shadow government” in such things as, Gates attempt to revive the RRW and move the nuclear weapons factories from DOE- where his appointment seems in line w/ progressive/change- to DOD. Do you see him catering to the military to continue the aura of fear that GWB/Cheney et al used to keep domestic folk in line? His willingness to give Wall Street, and in particular Goldman Sachs primary control over the economy certainly seems to me to run counter to his economic promise of, eg redistributing money from those w/ annual incomes >$250K to those with less. As Rep. Mary Kaptur, Dem. OH said recently, the SEC and FDIC already has the tools to fix the foreclosure and subprime mortgage issue. To instead empower the 5 main banks seems to me clear evidence that Obama indeed is throwing the economic component of his change promises “in the dumpster”.
    My agreement with Chalmers Johnson is in the extent that military expenditures play in the current economic crisis. It is easy to see in NM, where the LANL is correlated with our poverty ranking – the more LANL gets, the POORER are New Mexicans. Withdrawal of resources, especially highly skilled human capital from productive uses does have its consequences, even if that income stream is a conduit easily tapped by politicians. In fact one could make the argument that our Military industrial complex exists primarily to keep incumbents in power, and to hell what it does to people’s well being.
    To Linda:
    I do indeed know that you don’t think Obama is a “gift from the Gods. If the way I said it implied otherwise, I apologize. I didn’t even mean to be as critical of Obama as I am becoming, preferring to give him the benefit of the doubt on “Realpolitik”, ie acknowledge the fact that power in the sense of resource control, especially over financial institutions, corporations, and the military is minimally altered by a change in political agents, including the president, who usually – but not always – represent money interests rather than people. That is what I meant by “gift”- that any real change must come from grassroots, not politicians. AS FDR said, “Make me”.
    And of course, as Wellstone and three Kennedy’s discovered, there are other ways than voting to counter ones enemies.

    Reply

  3. ... says:

    US Sold Phosphorus Shells to Israel
    The Pine Bluff Arsenal, a United States Army installation in Arkansas, specializes in chemical and biological weapons. The military touts them as the only facility in the Northern Hemisphere which fills white phosphorus munitions. That’s the important point here, as it once again ties the US military directly into the Israeli war in the Gaza Strip, and one of its most unseemly practices.
    http://news.antiwar.com/2009/02/03/us-sold-phosphorus-shells-to-israel/

    Reply

  4. TonyForesta says:

    Good!

    Reply

  5. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Don’t count on Obama to demand where the two TRILLION dollars went missing to during the time Dov Zakhiem was minding the DOD coffers. (Sure could use the money right now, couldn’t we?)
    And with Hillary greasing the ways, and Gates in charge of the hammer, I seriously doubt if the DOD has much to worry about as far as procurement.

    Reply

  6. ... says:

    Is Cheney Behind the Attack on Obama’s Plans to Withdraw from Iraq?
    good article over at emptywheel which ties into this story line as well..
    http://emptywheel.firedoglake.com/2009/02/03/is-cheney-behind-the-attack-on-obamas-plans-to-withdraw-from-iraq/#more-3528

    Reply

  7. Pacos_gal says:

    McCain has dropped his objection to William Lynn to the number two position at the Pentagon. His objection was based upon Lynn’s lobbying work for Raytheon.
    However, a bit of background on Lynn:
    “From 1997 to March 2001, the Under Secretary of Defense (Comptroller) who served as the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense was William J. Lynn III. In that position, he was the chief financial officer for the Department of Defense and was the principal advisor to the Secretary and Deputy Secretary of Defense for all budgetary and fiscal matters. That means he was the person responsible to make sure no money went missing and that the Department of Defense published audited financial statements — which it failed to do in those years and every year since.
    When Mr. Lynn left Defense in 2001, he joined DFI International and then in 2005 became the chief lobbyist for Raytheon. He was replaced at Defense by Dov Zakheim.”
    Between October 1998 and September 2000, the Department of Defense was “missing” $3.3 trillion.
    This would be during Lynn’s time at Defense.
    reference: http://solari.com/blog/?p=1983
    I don’t think it’s clear sailing yet for Lynn though since Sen. Charles Grassley, R-Iowa, has raised the issue of his lack of accountability during his last time spent at Defense.
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090202/ap_on_go_co/pentagon_nomination
    Something to keep an eye on.

    Reply

  8. JohnH says:

    It doesn’t help any that many of the “news” channels — NBC, MSNBC — are owned by a military contractor (GE). And that Faux News is doing its stuff. The remainder — CNN, ABC, and CBS — have all chosen the go with the flow. And then there is the tragic case of “public” broadcasting.
    Bottom line, there is no widely viewed, investigative news organization to talk about Pentagon waste, fraud, and excesses. Anything that reports those abuses will be buried. Nonetheless, exposure is the surest route to reigning in the merchants of death, boys with toys.
    And the public can start to ask their elected “representatives” why it is America can afford the F-22 but can’t afford single payer health care.
    BTW–it would require a single time payment of less than $100 billion for the government to acquire the four health insurance companies that account 30% of the market. If my math is correct, it would cost about $300 billion to buy the whole industry in toto.
    We can afford to ladle out hundreds of billions annually in Pentagon pork, but we can’t afford a one time payment of $300 billion to realize single payer health care? What’s wrong with this picture?

    Reply

  9. rich says:

    Daschle withraws.
    Not OT — the revolving door turneth once more, same as at the Pentagon.
    http://www.washingtonmonthly.com/archives/individual/2009_02/016730.php
    NYTs says it’s for tax reasons — but that’s not the case. You can’t be a reformer and a limousine liberal at the same time. I always liked Daschle, but he pulled his punches as majority leader.
    http://thecaucus.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/02/03/tom-daschle-withdraws-as-health-nominee/index.html?hp
    I’m disappointed. I wanted to find out whether Daschle was picked because Obama could colonise the Establishment and turn its biggest player against the Machine — or whether Obama and health care policy was being co-opted by a major lobbyist.
    When 40% of health care costs is lost to unnecessary administrative paperwork, settling for minor adjustments that leaves barriers between people and doctors is utterly unacceptable.

    Reply

  10. pauline says:

    Don’t forget what one war criminal said on 09/10/01, only one day before our biggest disaster.
    “Rumsfeld Sept 10, 2001: The Pentagon cannot account for $2.3 trillion”
    On Sept. 10, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld declared war. Not on foreign terrorists, “the adversary’s closer to home. It’s the Pentagon bureaucracy,” he said.
    He said money wasted by the military poses a serious threat.
    “In fact, it could be said it’s a matter of life and death,” he said.
    Rumsfeld promised change but the next day – Sept. 11– the world changed and in the rush to fund the war on terrorism, the war on waste seems to have been forgotten.
    Just last week President Bush announced, “my 2003 budget calls for more than $48 billion in new defense spending.”
    More money for the Pentagon, CBS News Correspondent Vince Gonzales reports, while its own auditors admit the military cannot account for 25 percent of what it spends.
    “According to some estimates we cannot track $2.3 trillion in transactions,” Rumsfeld admitted.
    $2.3 trillion — that’s $8,000 for every man, woman and child in America. To understand how the Pentagon can lose track of trillions, consider the case of one military accountant who tried to find out what happened to a mere $300 million.
    “We know it’s gone. But we don’t know what they spent it on,” said Jim Minnery, Defense Finance and Accounting Service.
    Minnery, a former Marine turned whistle-blower, is risking his job by speaking out for the first time about the millions he noticed were missing from one defense agency’s balance sheets. Minnery tried to follow the money trail, even crisscrossing the country looking for records.
    “The director looked at me and said ‘Why do you care about this stuff?’ It took me aback, you know? My supervisor asking me why I care about doing a good job,” said Minnery.
    He was reassigned and says officials then covered up the problem by just writing it off.
    “They have to cover it up,” he said. “That’s where the corruption comes in. They have to cover up the fact that they can’t do the job.”
    source:
    http://benfrank.net/patriots/news/national/pentagon_missing_trillions

    Reply

  11. rich says:

    DavidT,
    “However as long as it may take to produce many of our weapons systems, as expensive as they are, and as many overruns as we see in their development, I haven’t read credible criticism of the quality that eventually results.”
    That’s a bit disingenuous–one of the major indictments of American weapons systems is that they’re technologically top-heavy, and that after the extended, expensive development process, we get an expensive, overproduced product that does not work as well as it should to do basic functions. That’s been exhaustively documented time and again.
    Never mind, you say, that the Pentagon routinely mislays billions of dollars and can’t account (per Rumsfeld) for several trillions of dollars. Never mind you say that development is self-interested and procurement takes too long.
    Listen: it took YEARS to get body armor and armored Humvees to soldiers in Iraq. Friggin’ YEARS. Moms & Dads were holding bake sales and sending body armor via UPS. YEARS–Rumsfeld didn’t care; the media didn’t raise a stink; it took anti-war Democrats to get something done on that. Those in control displayed no urgency or concern.
    There’s no excuse whatsoever. And NO one’s in any position to play down the issue; to say ‘So what; it worked, didn’t it?’
    Because even the simplest device — say, body armor — didn’t work when it finally got there:
    Pentagon Recalls Defective Body Armor
    Thursday, January 29, 2009
    http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2009/jan/29/exclusive-army-recall-armor/
    Scroll down past the first four pictures here. The links are comprehensive and the documentation damning.
    http://www.dailykos.com/storyonly/2009/1/28/234649/371
    This is just one minor example of totally broken bureaucracy that can’t accomplish basic tasks and is accountable to no one. Even when weapons systems do work, their use undermines the war effort in general. Take Predator drones: Bill Moyers excellent report last weekend pointed out that for every bombing raid that kills a Taliban leader, you create 5 to 8 new enemies. Push a button, bomb a wedding party just does not win hearts and minds: it just puts America at a greater disadvantage and creates a bigger market for more weapons systems.
    All that cash could be spent on bridges and trains. And when you were done, you’d have bridges and trains. And a more competitive economy. Conversely, pouring billions down the rathole of weapons systems undermines the economy and hamstrings our ability to compete in the productive side of the economy.
    Agree we need to relieve overextended servicemen — but that’s very different from buying weapons systems and doesn’t pump up consumer demand or buying power.

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  12. Don Bacon says:

    erichwwk,
    Obama has never claimed to be a progressive so it is doubtful that he will ever be “indeed a progressive.”

    Reply

  13. Don Bacon says:

    Thanks, Pacos
    General Dynamics, the prime Pentagon contractor for the USMC Growler, a $209K jeep, spent $9,364,234 for lobbying in 2006 (wiki). Selected members of the GD Board of Directors include:
    # Jay L. Johnson, Retired Admiral, U.S. Navy
    # George A. Joulwan, Retired General, U.S. Army
    # John M. Keane, Retired General, U.S. Army
    # Lester L. Lyles, Retired General, United States Air Force
    # Carl E. Mundy, Jr., Retired General, U.S. Marine Corps

    Reply

  14. DavidT says:

    Steve,
    Glad you’re focusing a bit closer to foreign policy here. I agree that our military spending is rather high. And on this topic as on almost every other spending one, our government is going to have to make some hard choices. However as someone else points out here given the state of the economy adding personnel to the Defense Department, though very expensive, may not be so unwise. Particularly given how greatly overstretched our personnel have been as a result of the Iraq venture.
    On “Nixon to China” I once again feel frustration. I have not a clue as to what venture you might be referring to. Could you be more specific? McCain might have had such an opportunity in Iraq or Iran, but where does Obama have comparable credibility that Nixon had on communism to enable him to go to a particular country and develop relations where we had none for many years with no domestic consequences? You worked at the Nixon center so you know what “Nixon to China” means yet have you used this term rather loosely here?
    As for the twin conflicts that Johnson mentions, his argument is not very credible. Again, criticize the Pentagon and the Military-Industrial system as much as you wish. However as long as it may take to produce many of our weapons systems, as expensive as they are, and as many overruns as we see in their development, I haven’t read credible criticism of the quality that eventually results. Just because the automobile industry is doing so badly doesn’t mean we’re making crappy weapons systems (which we are selling to quite a few other countries). Feel free to object to their development or their use but if you wish to echo Johnson’s criticisms of their quality perhaps you can provide more evidence.

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  15. ... says:

    change you can believe in…..
    The Obama administration has given the Pentagon a $527 billion limit, excluding war costs, for its fiscal 2010 defense budget, an official with the White House’s Office of Management and Budget said Monday.
    If enacted, that would be an 8 percent increase from the $487.7 billion allocated for fiscal 2009, and it would match what the Bush administration estimated last year for the Pentagon in fiscal 2010.

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  16. Pacos_gal says:

    Speaking of procurement, this article is a very good example of what goes on and wrong within the defense contract industry. It’s late, it’s over budget and is it what the marines need now, as opposed to what they needed in 1999.
    Ladies and gentlemen, The Growler
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2009/02/02/AR2009020202969.html?wpisrc=newsletter

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  17. DonS says:

    Rich: “Petraus should’ve known better; he’s crossed his Rubicon.” Exactly.
    Crossing the Rubicon = violating the specific injunction about entering the city and, implicitly, the possiblity of making political mischief.
    Just on that point, the revolving door in republican Rome between the military and the Senate was legion (no pun intended). We know how Rome ended.

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  18. Pacos_gal says:

    Petraus was put in place because his views matched Bush’s and he was the man who could get what Bush wanted done. Obama should remember that and be getting advice from others rather than those who have a vested interest in furthering the Bush military policies, perhaps for their own political gains.
    This also brings into question the route that will be followed in Afghanistan. Obama might not be getting the intelligence he needs to make his decisions if that intelligence is in any way swayed by those same people.
    I think there is a difference of opinion between the pentagon and foreign policy experts on what should be happening in Afghanistan now. Whether the Taliban can be engaged, whether a “surge” in troops will give the desired results, the poppy crops, the current Afghanistan government, etc.
    Afghanistan is not Iraq and I have doubts about a “surge” of troops having the desired effect.

    Reply

  19. Linda says:

    Agree pretty much with all of the above and better post something before we get a post from WigWag reminding me and everyone who supported Obama that it should have been Hillary.
    Erich, you know that I don’t think Obama is a “gift from the Gods.” Indeed he’s just a politician that we voted to give ourselves. So far in my 70 years within two years, I don’t like the candidate I voted for–could be on the issues in this thread including Lynn as number 2 at DOD, but also on health care reform as Daschle isn’t the best person for the job. It always was Howard Dean who actually has had executive experience in VT and at DNC.
    BTW, both Hillary in Senate and Kirsten Gillibrand when in House chose to be on Armed Services Committees. They are smart politicians. However, Hillary is now stuck as part of Obama Administration and probably has no chance to run in 2012 if Obama ends up as a one-term President. Gillibrand will only be 58 years old in 2016.
    Well, everybody here has read today’s NYT. So I’d suggest putting “Dr. Strangelove” and “All About Eve” to the top of your Netflix lists.

    Reply

  20. ... says:

    dan kervick – continuity and change would appear to be directly opposite in some respects..
    the Pentagon is facing a major production and spending crisis……
    since when did that ever stop them from ‘continuing’ in the way they have this past 60 years??? do you think obama is going to change any of it? obama is more about continuity then change…
    idiocy is defined as repeating the same mistakes and expecting different results…

    Reply

  21. Don Bacon says:

    All the “CHANGE” signs are in dumpsters, along with the website.
    “Thank you for visiting change.gov — The transition has ended and the new administration has begun. Please join President Barack Obama at whitehouse.gov”
    http://change.gov/

    Reply

  22. Dan Kervick says:

    Digby says:
    “Here we go again. Honestly, I don’t know why anyone would even want the Presidency, beset as it is by palace intrigue on all sides. Then again, nobody told Obama to hang on to Bob Gates.”
    False. Two very prominent Democratic foreign policy VSPs, Brian Katulis and Nancy Soderberg, told Obama to keep Gates. They gave him that advice very publicly, in a Washington Post op-ed:
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/10/10/AR2008101000910.html
    This piece really launched the “keep Gates” movement into the the orbit of conventional Washington wisdom.
    It really is extraordinary that in the wake of an administration that is generally seen to have produced one of the most failed foreign and national security policy agendas in our history, the bi-partisan Washington establishment still had the chutzpah to argue that what we really needed at the Pentagon was continuity. And it is even more extraordinary that they got away with it.
    And it is particularly stunning that much of the the Democratic rank-and-file, which spent the past seven years in near-frenzied opposition to the militarism and neo-imperialism of the Bush years, lost much of its nerve, its brains and its balls once the Democratic national security poohbahs began advocating continuity with the same policies. The hypocrisy and lameness are breathtaking.

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  23. DonS says:

    The military — the ultimate slush fund.
    Exposing the waste seems a more likely road to having a serious discussion with eventual cost reductions than trying to leverage the idea of changing the US exceptionalist/one great power image.
    Fact is that Americans have traditionally rejected the idea that America should be the world’s policeman (out of xenophobia and American first sentiment).
    However, the “age of terror” has given the slush fund advocates a boogeyman and a new lease on life. This would be sold as “defensive” capability, even though the weapons and weapons systems that are being promoted — as implicitly highlighted in the post — have little to do with asymmetrical warfare.

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  24. Erich Kuerschner says:

    “Obama should think about reviewing how some other presidents have dealt with their generals when they go on the political war path”
    Indeed. Harry S. Truman fired General MacArthur when the General promoted an opposing plan (to expand the war in China) to the Republican House leader Joseph Martin, despite MacArthur’s immense popularity. Of course there were consequences, bad for Truman, good for the country.
    Also, for what it’s worth, I see Chalmers as right on target. Have we forgotten why the USSR disintegrated?

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  25. Don Bacon says:

    Chalmers Johnson is wrong.
    There is no crisis exists in the military-industrial complex, and comparing the MIC to the automotive industry is apples and oranges.
    I predict that the Pentagon budget will be increased in order to provide increased corporate profits, employment, electoral success and money flow into the congressional districts. Like these:
    WASHINGTON D.C. – Today, the entire Maine and New Hampshire congressional delegations united in a joint effort to create new, good-paying jobs at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard (PNS) in Kittery, Maine. In a letter to the Secretary of the Navy and the Chief of Naval Operations, the bipartisan group of lawmakers urged the Department of Navy to increase the permanent workforce at the Maine-based shipyard to help mitigate weakness in the regional labor market and increase overall employee productivity and quality of life.
    Hartford Courant: Joseph Courtney, 55 and a Democrat from Vernon, should be returned for a second term to the House. The sprawling district has many needs, and Mr. Courtney has been responsive to the major ones. He has gotten more shipbuilding work at Electric Boat in Groton. . .
    The next push will be to get Pentagon spending up to 4 per cent of GDP.

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  26. JohnH says:

    The spotlight is finally starting to shine on one half of the energy security complex. It’s only a few decades overdue.
    As a starting point, Obama out to insist that DOD pass an audit, so we know where the boys with toys waste our money. Once that’s understood, then the public will have the information needed to be outraged.
    As a second step, he should report the royalty rates the US charges energy companies to drain public lands. Once that is known, he should raise royalties to the levels charged by other countries, like Venezuela.
    A few moves like this, and you might begin to pay for the stimulus package.

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  27. Pacos_gal says:

    I second DonS’s position and to add to it, I wonder how this will play out in the future as regards to not only procurement but his “Nixon moments” when certain high ranking members within the pentagon are staging a public policy revolt.
    I am never impressed when generals start playing politics in public, yet it happens all the time and has throughout history. Perhaps, Obama should think about reviewing how some other presidents have dealt with their generals when they go on the political war path. In fact, that could make for a really interesting blog entry for someone, who was interested in doing the research, or even a news/magazine article.

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  28. Don Bacon says:

    It’s actually an increase of 92,000 soldiers and Marines, and it’s underway, boosted by high unemployment.

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  29. rich says:

    DonS,
    I saw digby’s piece this morning also.
    How very odd we have to hear the story through the Inter Agency Press Service, rather than standard media channels.
    It’s disturbing that Petraus can openly disrespect our Commander-in-Chief, to the point of insubordination. But it’s much worse that his response is to ratchet up pressure on President Obama by running straight to the media to set up a false meme:
    “The opening argument by the Petraeus-Odierno faction against Obama’s withdrawal policy was revealed the evening of the Jan. 21 meeting when retired Army Gen. Jack Keane, one of the authors of the Bush troop surge policy and a close political ally and mentor of Gen. Petraeus, appeared on the Lehrer News Hour to comment on Obama’s pledge on Iraq combat troop withdrawal.
    Keane, who had certainly been briefed by Petraeus on the outcome of the Oval Office meeting, argued that implementing such a withdrawal of combat troops would “increase the risk rather dramatically over the 16 months”. He asserted that it would jeopardise the “stable political situation in Iraq” and called that risk “not acceptable”.
    The assertion that Obama’s withdrawal policy threatens the gains allegedly won by the Bush surge and Petraeus’s strategy in Iraq will apparently be the theme of the campaign that military opponents are now planning.”
    Now, America is grappling with a military and economic crisis wrought by George W. Bush’s policies. Yet the military feels entitled to undermine the Commander-in-Chief’s decisions, when we can least afford further instability. Even though we can’t indulge in further overextending ourselves, militarily or fiscally, in an already exorbitantly costly war that was optional in the first place.
    Note that Jim Lehrer didn’t call Gen. Keane on his irresponsible scaremongering. Yesterday, national elections in Iraq went off without a hitch, Maliki’s coalition gained influence, and the military wasn’t needed to keep order.
    One fact remains indisputable: the ‘insurgency’ in Iraq is due to the presence of American troops. Remove the occupier, you remove the resistance and Iraqis can get down to the business of rebuilding their country and reweaving functional political relationships.
    But asking American taxpayers to pour money down the rathole when our military & our soldiers are completely overstretched; we’ve had no moral capital for five years; we’ve totally underinvested domestically and the budget’s busted with dim prospects for improved tax revenue in the near future? Irresponsible.
    Petraus should’ve known better; he’s crossed his Rubicon. He committed to a SOFA anyway and he’s leaving Iraq anyway–but that’s not good enough? He thinks he’s got a binding agreement with a former POTUS? He thinks he can argue with and publicly pressure the President of the United States?
    Petraus needs to go; Obama had better watch his back.

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  30. erichwwk says:

    Another important post.
    Obama needs to grow up quick, and find his real self. Is he indeed a progressive, working towards a society with equality and justice for all, or now that he is firmly entrenched within the governing elite, will he further exploitation of the many by the few?
    To elevate the clearly false Republican talking point that we have a “Social Security and Health Care entitlements problem” to the status of respectability should raise some concern in all of us as to who this man really is, and where he intends to spend his political capital. Ditto for his use of UAV’s to not only invade sovereign Pakistan air space,but to actually strike And what is with the troop surge in Afghanistan, and appointing a DOD Sect. lobbying to revive the nuclear weapons industry with the RRW????
    Are we repeating history, where the rise of populations against a similar economic exploitation led FDR to develop a military weapons industry, as a means for the governing elite to reassert their privileged control over world resources, and more importantly, to put down the domestic resurrection of workers rights, and reestablish those of monopolists? (Thank god for Eleanor – do we have the same in Michelle?)
    After all, in Winston Churchill’s own words – on p iv of the first (1948) of his post war trilogy, “The Gathering Storm” :
    “One day President Roosevelt told me that he was asking publicly for suggestions about what the war should be called. I said at once “The Unnecessary War.” There was never a war more easy to stop to stop than that which has just wrecked what was left of the world from the previous struggle.”
    Torture is rarely to “get” information; much more common is the intent to “give” information – on who is “in charge”. I find the same truth in the reasons for war. War seems to me mostly about control over domestic, rather than foreign, populations. Once one has reduced the local population to dependency on the governing elite, expanding that influence (usually by secret resource sharing agreements) is a cakewalk.
    To those seeing Obama as some “gift from the Gods” – be careful what you wish for.

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  31. DonS says:

    As Digby opines, the military doesn’t like taking orders from an administation that isn’t their rubber stamp. Specifically she notes the acrimony, not to say insubordinaton already fomenting from the likes of Gens. Petraeus, Odierno, and Keane. While the linked post deals with troop levels in Iraq, the theme may well extrapolate to military civilian conflict generally.
    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com/2009/02/man-called-petraeus-storms-white-house.html
    We’ll see how Obama, who must of course prove his military posture creds, holds up. I smell some early retirements coming, maybe even under pressure. And will Gates stay on the reservation? As to the Iraqi “stability”, if it devolves into greater hot civil war, who should be surprised. What’s the option; leave US troops there forever to validate Bush’s stupid claim that the masterful “surge” (read insurgents lay low) justified all that went before.
    (sorry to be a bit OT)

    Reply

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