Just 10 percent of the Pentagon budget could end homelessness, increase our COVID testing 44 times over, or send a $2,300 check to every unemployed American.
Retired Gen. David Petraeus and Michael O’Hanlon are correct that we should protect funding for the State Department and the Agency for International Development (“Fund — Don’t Cut — U.S. Soft Power” POLITICO, May 1) because doing so enhances our national security. Their comments are in line with those of former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who made this point several times during his time in office.
The Obama administration’s budget included a promissory note. It will take them a few more weeks to tell us what they plan to spend next year on the Afghan War. Their intention to bring that war to an end, though, is clear.
The unthinkable has happened. Sequestration — automatic cuts falling equally on the defense and nondefense parts of the budget — is now in effect. And whatever the results of political maneuvering in the weeks and months to come, “The defense industry,” as a recent article in Politico put it, “isbracing for a bad decade … Senior Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees acknowledge a shrinking military is inevitable as the U.S. withdraws from Afghanistan after more than a decade of war.”
Military spending combines the two certainties in life: death and taxes. U.S. taxpayers are paying more than anyone else on Earth to support an industry devoted to death.
By the time you sit down for Thanksgiving dinner, the 12-member congressional supercommittee will have succeeded in meeting its November 23 deadline to approve a plan to shrink the budget deficit by at least $1.2 trillion over the next decade. Or it will have failed – and produced a turkey instead.
The Association of the United States Army packed hundreds of exhibitors into two halls the size of football fields at its annual convention. Companies from around the world came to the event, recently held at the Washington Convention Center, to sell the Army everything from mammoth tanks to micro-thin wires. Corporations such as Raytheon and KBR erected multi-level installations nearly big enough to generate their own zip code, complete with conference rooms and coffee bars.
Communities all over the United States are reeling from budget cuts. Military contractors, meanwhile, have remained fat and well-fed on the one part of federal spending that so far hasn’t been touched by budget-cutting fever: the Pentagon. One community recently decided to call attention to this disparity. In Montgomery County, a relatively wealthy Maryland suburb of Washington, DC, Peace Action Montgomery got together with a group of City Council members to craft a simple, straightforward resolution.
Leon Panetta, the new Pentagon chief, got through his confirmation hearings the newfangled way: by revealing as little as possible about what he’d do in office. He tipped his hand a bit more last week by calling “completely unacceptable” the across-theboard military cuts planned in the event the next debt deal fails.