When All is Said and Done, Clinton and Obama Remain Pentagon-Huggers

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katrina_vanden_heuvel twn.jpgKatrina vanden Heuvel, editor of The Nation, has challenged Nation contributors Jeremy Scahill and Naomi Klein with misreading the tenor of the magazine’s endorsement of Obama.
Her main point is that despite suggesting editorially that he is the best candidate, The Nation‘s endorsement is not full-throttled and highlights serious concerns about him.
I particularly liked this clip from vanden Heuvel’s piece:

It is true that The Nation has endorsed Barack Obama. But as we have explained, that does not mean that The Nation endorses every one of his Iraq-related policies. Obama’s plan to end the war falls short in some important respects. We have been critical of the size of the embassy he plans to maintain, his ambiguous stance on private contractors and his plans for a sizable “follow-on force” (concerns raised in Scahill’s March 17, 2008 Nation piece, “Obama’s Mercenary Position“.
In the remainder of this presidential campaign, and no matter who wins the Democratic nomination, the very definition of withdrawal will be repeatedly contested. We will continue to publish articles and editorials like Scahill’s that strive to sharpen and clarify the terms of that debate. Moreover, we will continue to oppose the commitment of both Clinton and Obama to increasing the size of the military and to spending more on our military than the rest of the world combined. We believe, as Klein and Scahill do, that progressives must use the continuing primary race to challenge these policies.

Katrina vanden Heuvel echoes an issue that I mentioned on Rachel Maddow’s show on Air America Radio last night: Obama and Clinton are both “Pentagon-huggers.”
Neither one is saying something that is strangely absent from political discourse today.
America’s economic and national security portfolios are in a shambles today — and both pretty much want to add programs (which have high costs) and bolster the size and responsibilities of the American military. Even any financial benefits from withdrawing from Iraq will not be available for domestic infrastructure spending or other health, education, or social programs — because the military will have “rebuilding needs” in addition to building out the size of its manpower.
America spends more on national security when including Iraq and Afghanistan supplemental spending bills than all other nations in the world combined — and yet we still don’t feel like a safe nation. This is a classic “management problem.”
We are misdeploying resources and frankly, overspending on the Pentagon by a vast degree. Neither Obama nor Clinton is saying this.
While Katrina vanden Heuvel’s editors have endorsed Obama, I like that she has qualified the publication’s support and not offered the kind of full-throttled endorsement that overlooks serious issues.
— Steve Clemons

Comments

23 comments on “When All is Said and Done, Clinton and Obama Remain Pentagon-Huggers

  1. acerimusdux says:

    Another thing that goes unremarked is that the Pentagon has never even been able to even pass a financial audit.
    Yes, it’s a management problem. When a private company gets a qualified opinion on it’s financial statements, the markets stop supplying funds. Managers are fired.
    Instead we keep increasing budgets for the Pentagon, and even talking about the massive management problems seems to be politically taboo.

    Reply

  2. Mr.Murder says:

    Depends on what you definition of “adding ” is, steve.
    If you mean cut out contractors and their pork, restore equitable service family support with education and health care instead of throwing every dollar down Halliburton/Bechtel/KBR pieholes,
    then maybe your policy is meeting that of Sen.Clinton.

    Reply

  3. Suzanne Grenoble says:

    No candidate has mentioned education. Obama, Clinton and McCain are absorbed in an elite game of musical chairs where the prize is leadership of the free world. As they rush to sit in that last chair on the world stage, a silent tragedy is unfolding. Offstage and out of camera range, our children suffer the indigities of underfunded or nonexistent programs, overcrowded classrooms, unsafe toxic buildings, little or no enrichment programs, outmoded or no technology, huge disparities between minorities and whites in achievement and opportunities, unacceptable dropout rates, fried foods in our cafeterias, guns in our schools and playgrounds.
    But why should the candidates really care anyway. They all graduated from private schools, and so will their kids.
    But wait, what about independent voters? I can tell you this: once they find out their candidate of hope, change and ideas is nothing more than the usual froth of cappuccino foam and hot air, there will be anger and a sense of betrayal.
    You can’t fool all of the people all of the time.

    Reply

  4. Realist says:

    John McCain earmarks (comprehensive total):
    $0

    Reply

  5. DonS says:

    As Steve points out, our economic and security military potfolios are intertwined. Neither candidate is saying this. Even moreso, again, neither one is deviating far from the conventional approach that has engendered the huge and mismanaged military posture.
    I’m basically repeating Steve’s point with a little extrapolation. My take is that you can regard our present dilemma, the trajectory of our “resources”, as too big for any new administration to significantly change in one or two terms. Or you can see it as a challenge that can be met if the will is there.
    I, too, have not heard, in word or inference, either candidate have a vision that doesn’t fondle the neocon or neocon lite talking points.

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  6. pauline says:

    imo, HRC would dive smiling into a pool of blood and guts just to appease the denfense contractors/pentagon masters (of war).

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  7. pauline says:

    “A number of legal issues are coming home to roost, just in time for the closing act of the Bush/Cheney Administration. It is about damned time — if ever there were a nation in need of an enormous amount of sunshine in all the darkest nooks and crannies in order to fully consider the enormous implications of political choices prior to an election, it is us at this time in this year.”
    “Speaking of election consequences, a reminder: we have fantastic book salons scheduled this weekend. On Saturday, Free Ride: John McCain and the Media will be discussed at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT. And on Sunday, I’ll be tackling the inside scoop on the SCOTUS with Jan Crawford Greenburg’s exceptional Supreme Conflict, also at 5 pm ET/2 pm PT. Both will be great discussions, so do mark your calendars.”
    “The NYTimes points to high profile terror cases which may be imperiled due to the destruction of tapes and evidence in the cases by the CIA/Bush Administration. The sheer stupidity involved in thinking you could sustain a long-term cover-up of destruction of evidence is bad enough. That they would try and supress it as a means to end-run fruit of the poison tree arguments on evidence obtained through maltreatment and torture isn’t exactly surprising.
    The fact that they would so blatantly subvert justice, thumb their noses at the very foundations of a right to confront all the evidence and…well, who am I kidding, it’s par for the Bush/Cheney course, isn’t it? No wonder they fought so hard to eviscerate habeas with the MCA. No review means a delay in discovery of wrongdoing. Someone ought to ask Lindsey “Joe Lieberman is a national treasure” Graham how he feels about being the Bush/Cheney cover-up point man.”
    from Christy Hardin Smith
    see —
    http://firedoglake.com/2008/03/28/the-growing-legal-maelstrom/

    Reply

  8. JohnH says:

    Those at the commanding heights of the economy and the media have been too busy pigging out to be outraged. However, that might change when the economy tanks. Nixon’s impeachment took place during a recession and probably in large part because of it. All we need is for a few more moguls like Bear Stearns Cos. Chairman James Cayne to see their $billion fortunes evaporate, and there will be plenty of outrage to show on Fox and CNN. And they might even give the green light to their lackies running for President and Congress to tap into it.

    Reply

  9. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    Bob H:
    Obama is not trying to block anything. Besides, Harold Ickes(who is heavily involved in Hillary’s campaign) was one of the people who approved the whole penalty thing anyway. Do you really think Obama is trying to block a re-vote in Michigan? Why would he? Hillary could only gather 58% of the vote against uncommitted. If they had a re-vote, Obama might even win this time. There is more to that situation then we know.

    Reply

  10. Joe Klein's conscience says:

    Dan Kervick:
    What do you expect from one whose hero is “Scoop” Jackson(He might not be at the top of the list, but the DLC touts “Scoop” alot and she is DLC through and through)?

    Reply

  11. Steve LaBonne says:

    While I won’t dispute the general thrust of vanden Heuvel’s article, I think it should be pointed out that there is no doubt that Clinton wins hands down over Obama in any Pentagon-hugging contest.Yes, but vanden Heuvel is still absolutely right- the mere fact that Obama is one degree less bad on this doesn’t mean he’s anywhere close to being actually good. Progressives need to be prepared to keep constant pressure on an Obama Administration, and also need to do a far better job of educating the public as to why large cuts in our grotesquly bloated military are not only reasonable but essential. The older voters with an unshakable emotional commitment to America being the baddest bully on the block are gradually dying off. Younger voters are much more likely to listen to sanity on national security issues, especially given the neocon Waterloo in Iraq.
    Bob H- Obama is the nominee. Deal with it. We’ve had enough of non-reality-based politics.

    Reply

  12. bob h says:

    If Obama’s supporters continue to block delegate representation from Michigan and Florida, the Nation should withdraw its endorsement.

    Reply

  13. Carroll says:

    Posted by PissedOffAmerican Mar 27, 11:09PM
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>
    US gave $300m arms contract to 22-year-old with criminal record
    Guardian, UK – 4 hours ago
    AEY also purchased 9 million cartridges from a Czech citizen who had been linked to illegal arms trafficking to Congo. At first, the Pentagon defended its …
    House panel to examine Afghan arms contract= International Herald Tribune
    US halts contract with arms dealer, 22 Telegraph.co.uk
    Waxman says he is going to have hearings on how twenty somethings got 300 million in contracts from the pentagon to send 40 year old weapons from third world countries to Afghan for the US trained Afghan forces against the Taliban. But I imagine when he finds out one of the boys is the son of the Rabbi who runs the Jerusalem Fund he will find a way to forget the hearing.
    TPM has a good post on this up at it’s site.
    Remember when I said I woke up every day wondering what I would see that day that was more absurd than what I saw yesterday?

    Reply

  14. PissedOffAmerican says:

    Amazing, isn’t it, Carroll? When we should be marching these lying treasonous pieces of excrement into prison, instead we see magazines being congratulated for not giving them “full throttled endorsements”.
    I have yet to see these posturing frauds address Mukasey’s criminal endorsement of Bush’s lawlessness. In fact, none of the three candidates seem to be interested in restoring accountability to Washington, or even admitting how far these bastards have strayed from being subject to the checks and balances that were designed to protect our democracy and the rule of law.
    Same-o same-o, despite all this horseshit we are hearing about “change”.

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  15. Carroll says:

    “Am I the only guy in this country who’s fed up with what’s happening? Where the hell is our outrage? We should be screaming bloody murder.
    We’ve got a gang of clueless bozos steering our ship of state right over a cliff, we’ve got corporate gangsters stealing us blind, and we can’t even clean up after a hurricane much less build a hybrid car. But instead of getting mad, everyone sits around and nods their heads when the politicians say, “Stay the course”.
    Stay the course? You’ve got to be kidding. This is America, not the damned “Titanic”.
    I’ll give you a sound bite: “Throw all the bums out!”
    You might think I’m getting senile, that I’ve gone off my rocker, and maybe I have. But someone has to speak up. I hardly recognize this country anymore.
    The most famous business leaders are not the innovators but the guys in handcuffs. While we’re fiddling in Iraq, the Middle East is burning and nobody seems to know what to do. And the press is waving ‘pom-poms’ instead of asking hard questions. That’s not the promise of the “America” my parents and yours traveled across the ocean for. I’ve had enough. How about you?
    I’ll go a step further. You can’t call yourself a patriot if you’re not outraged.
    Leaders are made, not born. Leadership is forged in times of crisis. It’s easy to sit there with your feet up on the desk and talk theory. Or send someone else’s kids off to war when you’ve never seen a battlefield yourself. It’s another thing to lead when your world comes tumbling down.
    So here’s where we stand. We’re immersed in a bloody war with no plan for winning and no plan for leaving. We’re running the biggest deficit in the history of the country. We’re losing the manufacturing edge to Asia, while our once-great companies are getting slaughtered by health care costs. Gas prices are skyrocketing, and nobody in power has a coherent energy policy. Our schools are in trouble. Our borders are like sieves. The middle class is being squeezed every which way. These are times that cry out for leadership.
    But when you look around, you’ve got to ask: “Where have all the leaders gone?” Where are the people of character, courage, conviction, omnipotence, and common sense? I may be a sucker for alliteration, but I think you get the point.
    Who would have believed that there could ever be a time when “The Big Three” referred to Japanese car companies? How did this happen, and more important, what are we going to do about it?
    I have news for the gang in Congress. We didn’t elect you to sit on your asses and do nothing and remain silent while our democracy is being hijacked and our greatness is being replaced with mediocrity. What is everybody so afraid of? That some bonehead on Fox News will call them a name? Give me a break. Why don’t you guys show some spine for a change?
    That’s the challenge I’m raising in this book. It’s a call to “Action” for people who, like me, believe in America. It’s not too late, but it’s getting pretty close. So let’s shake off the crap and go to work.
    Let’s tell ’em all we’ve had “enough.”
    Excerpted from “Where Have All the Leaders Gone?”.
    Copyright (c) 2007 by Lee Iacocca.

    Reply

  16. Dan Kervick says:

    While I won’t dispute the general thrust of vanden Heuvel’s article, I think it should be pointed out that there is no doubt that Clinton wins hands down over Obama in any Pentagon-hugging contest.
    Clinton, who was famously dubbed “Mama Warbucks” by the Village Voice, last year secured more defense earmarks in the FY 2008 budget than any Senator other than Carl Levin. Clinton’s total was more than 33 times that of Obama. She has also received more than four times as much camapign cash from her earmark recipients since 2001. As reported last year by the Seattle Times, here are the relevant totals:
    2007 Defense Earmarks:
    Clinton: $110,520,000
    Obama: $3,300,000
    2001-07 campaign contributions from earmark recipients:
    Clinton: $378,660
    Obama: $97,250
    As is her practice, Clinton has again refused to release her earmark requests for this year.
    And despite a commitment to expand the ranks of the active duty armed forces, Obama has also pledged to cut billions from the defense budget, specifically in the areas of missile defense, the militarization of space, and R&D on future weapons systems.

    Reply

  17. Carroll says:

    O.K…so now that the neo’s and congress have bankrupt the country by singlehandly taking on Islam and installing democracy..McCain has adopted the new “neoliberal” “Concert of Democracies” ..gotta have some new financial financial partners for WWIII eh?…. gee how many ways can you package the same old shit?
    The “transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical”….My ass.
    The transcendental threat to the US is the deranged, stupid crap that passes for leadership in this country.
    McCain:
    “The United States cannot lead by virtue of its power alone,” McCain said, noting that the United States did not single-handedly win the Cold War or other conflicts in its history.
    Instead, he said, the country must lead by attracting others to its cause, demonstrating the virtues of freedom and democracy, defending the rules of an international civilized society and creating new international institutions.
    He renewed his call for creating a new global compact of more than 100 democratic countries to advance shared values and defend shared interests, and said the United States must set an example for other democracies.
    “If we lead by shouldering our international responsibilities and pointing the way to a better and safer future for humanity … it will strengthen us to confront the transcendent challenge of our time: the threat of radical Islamic terrorism,” said the four-term senator and member of the Armed Services Committee.
    “Any president who does not regard this threat as transcending all others does not deserve to sit in the White House, for he or she does not take seriously enough the first and most basic duty a president has — to protect the lives of the American people,” McCain added, suggesting that neither of his Democratic rivals, Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton or Barack Obama, understand the stakes at hand.” Yahoo News

    Reply

  18. JohnH says:

    Lest we forget. After Texas cut taxes twice to help Bush get elected President, the state ended up with a “historic revenue shortfall.” Bush’s disdain for fiscal conservatism was well known before the 2000 election. But lots of fiscal conservatives voted for him anyway. http://www.jessejacksonjr.com/issues/i0122036549.html
    In fact, Texas’ plight was so bad that they could only afford a lone star on their flag!

    Reply

  19. Carroll says:

    Well..this is what happens when US politicans are running for “Masters of the Universe” instead of representatives of the American people.
    They have all exceeded the authority of their offices with their self assumed roles as “the superpower leaders of the world”.
    And all we American sons and daughters of the shoe maker must go without shoes so they can spend our every resource on “protecting us” from the blowbacks and fallouts of their universal meddling.
    BWTTGASO

    Reply

  20. erichwwk says:

    Steve writes:
    “America’s economic and national security portfolios are in a shambles today — and both pretty much want to add programs (which have high costs) and bolster the size and responsibilities of the American military. Even any financial benefits from withdrawing from Iraq will not be available for domestic infrastructure spending or other health, education, or social programs — because the military will have “rebuilding needs” in addition to building out the size of its manpower.”
    High on this list of military expenditures that no one talks about is the expenditure on nuclear weapons, which have made up roughly one third of total military expenditures, while making American LESS (not more) secure. Despite Congress consistently killing the RRW (new nuclear weapon) and the CMRR (the factory to build it) the current NNSA EIS claims that Congress has required the NNSA to build it, and hence refuses to discuss whether production of new nuclear weapons are “needed”. Essentially NNSA argues that the unitary executive has the power to negate the Constitution (by refusing to make International treaties ratified by 2/3 of the Senate binding domestic law as the Constitution explicitly states in clear language, and require a project Congress not only refuses to fund, but in the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill, required the formation of a bipartisan committee to study the issue, and recommend a size of a nuclear stockpile as well as what facilities would best support that stockpile. In addition, they recognize the obsolescence of the 2001 Nuclear Posture review, and have mandated that the new incoming President generate a new 2009 Nuclear posture review. Yet 200,000 cubic yards have been excavated at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in hopes of spending enough resources on a nuclear bomb factory before Domenici and Bush leave office to commit the taxpayer to complete our “bridge to nowhere” – a factory that will be obsolete (40 year life span) before the plutonium triggers (pits) might require replacement (the oldest “might” wear out 70 years from today according to the independent “JASON” longevity report (Thank you Sen. Bingaman, no thank you Rep. Tom Udall for not killing this nonsense).
    See for example pp.7-8 of the recent Summary of the NNSA SPEIS here:
    (in .pdf): http://tinyurl.com
    We have spent more federal dollars on nuclear weapons than we have spent on health care, and almost as much as on social security, over the life of the program since WWII, making clear that we have neither a social security nor a universal health care problem – we have a military-industrial-congressional complex problem, led by obsolete nuclear weapons.
    Kudos to Steve for recognizing that:
    “Neither one is saying something that is strangely absent from political discourse today.”
    So Steve, how about taking leadership on this issue for the New America Foundation, and invite
    Joseph Cirincione [ http://tinyurl.com/2tvfoq ]
    to lead such a forum, forcing this issue into political discourse?
    Better to address how to keep our economy united, then discuss how to put the pieces back together, as happened in other military dominated states such as USSR and Germany where self delusion also crowded out reality?
    Steve writes:
    “America’s economic and national security portfolios are in a shambles today — and both pretty much want to add programs (which have high costs) and bolster the size and responsibilities of the American military. Even any financial benefits from withdrawing from Iraq will not be available for domestic infrastructure spending or other health, education, or social programs — because the military will have “rebuilding needs” in addition to building out the size of its manpower.”
    High on this list of military expenditures that no one talks about is the expenditure on nuclear weapons, which have made up roughly one third of total military expenditures, while making American LESS (not more) secure. Despite Congress consistently killing the RRW (new nuclear weapon) and the CMRR (the factory to build it) the current NNSA EIS claims that Congress has required the NNSA to build it, and hence refuses to discuss whether production of new nuclear weapons are “needed”. Essentially NNSA argues that the unitary executive has the power to negate the Constitution (by refusing to make International treaties ratified by 2/3 of the Senate binding domestic law as the Constitution explicitly states in clear language, and require a project Congress not only refuses to fund, but in the FY2008 Defense Authorization Bill, required the formation of a bipartisan committee to study the issue, and recommend a size of a nuclear stockpile as well as what facilities would best support that stockpile. In addition, they recognize the obsolescence of the 2001 Nuclear Posture review, and have mandated that the new incoming President generate a new 2009 Nuclear posture review. Yet 200,000 cubic yards have been excavated at Los Alamos National Laboratory, in hopes of spending enough resources on a nuclear bomb factory before Domenici and Bush leave office to commit the taxpayer to complete our “bridge to nowhere” – a factory that will be obsolete (40 year life span) before the plutonium triggers (pits) might require replacement (the oldest “might” wear out 70 years from today according to the independent “JASON” longevity report (Thank you Sen. Bingaman, no thank you Rep. Tom Udall for not killing this nonsense).
    See for example pp.7-8 of the recent Summary of the NNSA SPEIS here:
    (in .pdf): http://tinyurl.com
    We have spent more federal dollars on nuclear weapons than we have spent on health care, and almost as much as on social security, over the life of the program since WWII, making clear that we have neither a social security nor a universal health care problem – we have a military-industrial-congressional complex problem, led by obsolete nuclear weapons.
    Kudos to Steve for recognizing that:
    “Neither one is saying something that is strangely absent from political discourse today.”
    So Steve, how about taking leadership on this issue for the New America Foundation, and invite
    Joseph Cirincione [ http://tinyurl.com/2tvfoq ]
    to lead such a forum, forcing this issue into political discourse?
    Better to address how to keep our economy united, then discuss how to put the pieces back together, as happened in other military dominated states such as USSR and Germany where self delusion also crowded out reality?
    PS JohnH -Glad you recognize the nonsense.
    Here in NM we were once as high as 34 in relative US median income, and since Domenici has increased the LANL budget significantly, median income has DECREASED, down to the 46-48th level. Sad that people are bamboozled in believing that withdrawing resources from productive use into meaningless (or in our case, even destroying productive resources) somehow makes one better off. Yet most politicians still tout LANL as a cash cow, or economic engine. (of course, in terms of funding political campaigns, it is indeed that.)
    “What gets us into trouble is not what we don’t know. It’s what we know for sure that just ain’t so”. — Mark Twain

    Reply

  21. JohnH says:

    Interesting how the defense budget has been getting fatter and fatter, but average Americans are getting poorer.
    We should demand that candidates answer how they will fund the government’s operating budget over the next few years. The operating budget has had a HUGE deficit under Bush, which he funded by raiding the social security trust fund and by borrowing from China. The social security surplus will go negative in about a decade, and China’s willingness to take increasingly worthless dollars is doubtful. Exactly where will the money come from?
    Of course, Paulson’s strategy is to avoid talking about the immediate problem of the operating deficit, while insisting that we do something about future imbalances and make cuts in social security. Nor will the rest of our esteemed “leadership” talk about the immediate problem, which, depending on how you look at it, is caused by excess spending on defense and homeland security or insufficient tax revenue.
    It’s time the candidates address this issue, but don’t look for any debate moderator to broach the subject.
    It’s simply amazing how many things in Washington are off the table for discussion.

    Reply

  22. playitagainkatrina says:

    Given the vanden Heuvel family legacy and minor members of the Kennedy court is it no wonder that The Nation is nothing more than a house organ for the Obama campaign?

    Reply

  23. Ned says:

    This is the kind of thing I wish we saw more of from public supporters of every candidate – vocal support that doesn’t turn into hero worship and acknowledges their candidate’s flaws.

    Reply

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