Showing posts with label DOD. Show all posts
Showing posts with label DOD. Show all posts

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Romney has a bazooka in his front pocket... but an empty wallet in has back pocket

Its been a rather hot item this week. People have been picking apart Mitt Romney's latest budget proposal and it isnt pretty. The lates offering (or borrowing might fit better) of a Romney proposed budget would actually result in equal or larger deficits then we already have under the current administration. I find that odd, considering Romney has said recently that it is: "immoral to pass burdens on the next generation like that" meaning deficits and in turn the national debt.

This is the same Mittens who also said how he "can’t wait to get my hands on Washington". I had to ask myself; get your hands on it for what? Clearly, by his own admission in his proposed budget, he would actually increase the deficit not shrink it, let alone not balance the budget. 

Romney's proposed budget got me thinking... is he seriously supposed to be the candidate with business experience? You can't argue with the wealth he built up. Hell, paying only 13% of your income in taxes can have that effect on a multimillionaire, no? You can't argue with his education background or the fact that he saved the Olympics, so why is it he has a problem balancing a budget?

Surely, he had to do so in his business dealings, haggle with budgets. We know he had to do so as governor, so why is trimming the existing deficit so hard to do, let alone balance our nations budget? The short answer? He wants to appeal to everyone. That why he is flip-flop Mitt. Period.

With that said, I want to focus on one particular part of Romney's budget and that is defense. Mittens recently said he would not only not cut defense, he would commission a bump from building "nine per year to fifteen" new ships for the Navy as well as new aircraft for the Air Force. Apparently, Mittens was feeling the love from the USS Yorktown and maybe a little patriotic and nostalgic in the World War sense, because he then dropped this bomb saying (as you can see below) he would "add at least 100,000 troops to the boots on the ground capability".

The problem with that is first of all, we are not entering a world war. So where could we use this 100k influx? Iraq? We just withdrew (but lest not mention the 15K people left behind to defend the city-like embassy) our combat troops. Afghanistan? It was said two years ago that Al-Qaeda is 75-100 strong in country. That was out of the mouth of then CIA director and now Department of Defense chairman Leon Panetta. I'm guessing Panetta has no advantage of actually underselling our enemy now does he.

 These are also the same terrorists who are "on our side" in the uprising that is taking place in Syria. Hmmm, we are going to be supplying and siding up with terrorists to defeat a nation that we do not like today, but will tomorrow in efforts to stop the terrorists that we now all of a sudden hate who once used to help us.... stop me if I am wrong, but have we not seen this movie before; in Afghanistan no less, circa 1979? Oh, never-mind, this movie is titled the "forever war" (thanks Clearwater) thus we never know how it ends and the perpetual boogy man? He just keeps a comin', he just gets a new face (and accent) every now and then, ala Herbert West.

So, why do we need 100,000 additional troops for? To invade Iran? To combat terrorism? Doesn't seem plausible. Seems like using a sledgehammer to swat flies. I would assume the troop levels we have now are more than enough to defend our nation but Mitt doesn't agree:

 “We all recognize that America needs to economize, but I don’t believe that we can economize on securing our nation and protecting our citizens and ensuring that the world remains safe and free for us and for our children,” 

 In fact, if you compare our spending on defense to the rest of the world as I pointed out in an earlier article this year; it's not even close in how much we outspend the rest of the top 17 nations who spend the most on defense combined.

National defense spending has increased 38% since 2001. This idea that we are going to spend more on defense and drastically increase its scope and sheer size, leads me to the answer to my original question. So why do we need 100,000 additional troops for? And the answer is quite obvious. Just look at Romney's quote when he says:

 "ensuring that the world remains safe and free for us"

There it is. And that is the shared mentality from most of Washington not just Romney. Kind of reminds me of the newest Navy slogan "A global force for good". The problem with that? The word "Good" is awfully ambiguous. How "good" are we, if you're an innocent bystander whose lost their life or a loved one(s) in Iraq or Afghanistan. Is that "good" worth a son who was put into a battle field without even a deceleration of war from Congress?

"Good", just like the words "safe" and "free" in Romney's quote are equally indistinct. I thought we already were pretty safe. Apparently, Romney does not agree and that is why he is touting a pretty substantial face lift for the DOD. The phrase "free for us"? How can the world be free for us? Chew on that one, I know i still am.

Which leads me to my final point. Romney is proposing not only an agenda that is completely out of whack compared to what the rest of the world is spending on defense, it is also an agenda that is mathematically infeasible in an environment where we should be embracing austerity measures to live within our means. Here is a recent quote from of all people, Valdimir Putin, on the past, current and future US foreign policy outlook:

"the United States, have developed a peculiar interpretation of security that is different from ours. The Americans have become obsessed with the idea of becoming absolutely invulnerable. This utopian concept is unfeasible both technologically and geopolitically, but it is the root of the problem. By definition, absolute invulnerability for one country would in theory require absolute vulnerability for all others" 

I know some of you out there are thinking "why do we care what the future President of Russia has to say about us" and I understand that sentiment; however, it's awfully sobering to have the Russians more in line with reality than a hopeful for the Presidency of the United States. To be fair, Romney is not alone on the campaign trail in this insanity, and it clear the Oval office shares this paranoia as well.

With that, I leave you with a quote, that in today's Republican Party would be considered a Liberal stance on foreign policy. From the same man who shed the initial light on the Congressional Military Industrial Complex (how apropos), former President, Dwight D. Eisenhower:

"We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search for absolute security"

Thursday, January 5, 2012

How policies perception and reality are often ambiguous

Part 2 of a 3 part story on the Department of Defense and its coming to the realization of its own shortcomings and the realities it faces; and the motivation for those that will not go down swinging.

As we continue our buildup to combat the dangers of the War on Terror, somewhere along the way; somebody failed to tell our elected leaders that the defense budget was becoming super sized. Wasn’t the Homeland security created to organize our communications and protect us here at home from terrorism? That budget this year was 57 Billion.

But the beat goes on and the defense budget keeps increasing. It was President Bush who was once labeled a war monger by many of us (and rightfully so) yet President Obama has not only kept up the same strategies, he has expanded upon them and increased spending along the way. So what exactly is the defense budget and how does it relate to other nations spending?

First, here is a little perspective:
In 2001 (in 2010 inflation adjusted dollars) the base budget (excludes Nuclear and War funding) for Defense was 390 Billion
In 2011 (in 2010 inflation adjusted dollars) the base budget (excludes Nuclear and War funding) for Defense was 540 Billion

That is a 38% increase in 10 years. Again, this isn’t including the Nuclear Weapons programs or the wars we are fighting throughout the Middle East. If it seems like a lot; it’s because it is. Now the cuts that will take place starting in 2013 are not actually from existing defense… it’s from proposed increases. According to Senator Rand Paul of Kentucky:
"This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending because we’re only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23% over 10 years. If we [make these cuts], it will still go up 16%."
So, in reality this is just slightly blunting the momentum of the leviathan that is the DOD. The Department and its cozy relationship with Congress and Industry (queue the black and white Eisenhower farewell address) remain warm and fuzzy and most importantly to those three love birds: intact and thriving.

And that I believe is the point. It has to be. How can anyone, given the information and the trends not see defense as a bloated bureaucracy, one that should be first in-line on the chopping block? Our ever expanding Department of Defense is not in an arms race yet their budget and approach clearly says otherwise. Shouldn’t we be shaping our military to fight the battles of the 21st Century; instead of preparing for an enemy of the twentieth that doesn’t exist?

In 2010 we spent almost six times the amount on defense than China does and eleven times more than Russia; yet many if not a majority of our elected leaders refuse to accept the notion of making cuts in defense. To me, it’s pretty clear… if we take the 18 nations that spend the most on defense; the US outspends all of her counterparts… ALL 17 of them COMBINED. So cuts are not only logical in our economic situation but they are a necessity; even if we were not drowning in debt.

Isn't it a bit silly for us to be even worried about a war with another super power in the first place? The idea of us engaging in war with a China or Russia is almost laughable because of how implausible it is. For one, it would be certain nuclear mutual devastation and then you have the reality of China and the US being so economically intertwined; it would be disruptive to both countries at so many levels.

In fact so much so that even the funding of a sustainable war would be impossible. Most people in this country see China as an economic threat and rightfully so, but it’s a threat only because we depend on them so much; as they do us. Our 1/4+ Trillion dollar trade deficit with a nation has a tendency to create a little codependency.

We are building a military prepared to wage a war not seen since the days of Hitler and we are outspending every nation at astronomical rates. Who is the war on terror about anyway? Stateless organizations whom hide in caves and target random civilians around the globe. Isnt that a threat to all nations? Why do they not allocate the resources that we do?

It just doesn’t seem to make sense. To fight such an enemy that is no more dangerous or powerful than a drug cartel using conventional warfare with cold war spending and tactics. How we cannot connect these dots is astounding if it wasn’t so downright intellectually offensive.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Hi, I my name is DOD and Im a bloated bureaucracy ...

Part 1 of a 3 part story on the Department of Defense and its coming to the realization of its own shortcomings and the realities it faces; and the motivation for those that will not go down swinging.

It appears the Department of Defense annual increasing budget; coupled with the unsuitability of our foreign policy is finally starting to coalesce. Later this week, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will unveil $450 Billion in cuts over at least a 10 year span. If we remember, it was the “supercommittee” last fall who were supposed to put together cost cutting measures that would help reduce the deficit (through in part) of $600 Billion in defense cuts.
The “supercommittee” that President Obama put together to reduce the federal deficit of 1.2 Trillion dollars over ten years went up in smoke as we seen unfold back in November of last year. So, the default 1.2 Trillion reductions will take effect effective in 2013 unless Congress can work it out before then. Knowing Congress has been a huge failure, one that seems to trip on its own feet at every step - 2013 is the only option.
Then, to try and blunt the coming hatchet, Panetta went on the offensive. Panetta has said the 600 Billion cuts coming would be like: "we'd be shooting ourselves in the head." That however seems just a tad heightened dose of hyperbole if you consider what 450 Billion actually amounts to in context of the sum of fighting two wars and the base cost of the defense’s annual budget (excluding wars and nukes) over that span.
According to the New York Times, its about 8 percent of that sum. Now quick… what would it be versus the proposed cuts to enter in 2013 automatically? It is only 10.6% of the stated total cost - hardly earth shattering are those 2.5 points in the grand scheme of things now is it?
But why is 2.5% such a drastic change? What in that 150 Billion over 10+ years is so damaging? Something just doesnt make sense in all of this or does it?