FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Bush’s Pro-Terrorism Budget

by CHARLES V. PEÑA

President Bush proposed a record $439.3 defense budget for fiscal year 2007, almost $30 billion more than current defense spending and not including funding for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. But other than funding to increase the size of Special Forces, expand language skills, and buy more unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs) ­ about $7 billion total and about 1.5 percent of the overall budget ­ most of the rest of defense spending is unrelated to the one real threat to America: radical Islamic terrorism represented by al Qaeda.

Since the end of the Cold War the United States has been in a unique geostrategic position. We have friendly neighbors to the north and south, and vast moats to the east and west. Given that no other country in the world has significant global power projection capability, America is relatively safe from a military invasion. And the vast U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal is a powerful deterrent against any country with nuclear weapons ­ even rogue states with long-range ballistic missiles.

The United States no longer faces a serious military challenger or global hegemonic threat. And the U.S. military is, by far and away, the most dominant military force on the planet. Russia comes closest to having the capability to be a military threat to us, but instead of being a menace, now has observer status with NATO and, despite having more main battle tanks than the U.S. Army, is no longer a threat to sweep through the Fulda Gap to seize Western Europe.

Certainly, Chinese military developments bear watching and although many see China as the next great threat, even if China modernizes and expands its strategic nuclear force, the United States will retain a credible nuclear deterrent with an overwhelming advantage in warheads, launchers, and variety of delivery vehicles. Moreover, China does not possess the sea- or air-lift to project its military power to threaten the U.S. homeland.

If Russia and China are not serious threats to the United States, so-called rogue states ­ such as North Korea, Iran, Syria, and Cuba ­ are even less of a problem. These countries are unfriendly to us, but none have any real military capability to threaten vital American security interests or the U.S. homeland.

The United States can afford to spend less on defense and still be secure. A smaller U.S. military would be highly capable relative to the other militaries of the world. Even if U.S. forces were downsized and pulled back from their current forward deployments, the United States could still project power if vital U.S. security interests were at risk. Although it is counterintuitive, forward deployment does not significantly enhance the U.S. military’s ability to fight wars. Both Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom were conducted without significant forces already deployed in either theater of operations. Yet military operations against the Taliban regime commenced less than a month after the Sept. 11 2001, attacks and U.S. forces swept away the conventional Iraqi military in less than four weeks.

The real threat to the United States no longer consists of nation states, but the terrorist threat represented by al Qaeda, which is relatively undeterred by the U.S. military. Indeed, an expansive defense perimeter and some 250,000 forward deployed forces around the world did not stop 19 hijackers from attacking the United States on Sept. 11, 2001.. And U.S. forces abroad ­ particularly those deployed in Muslim countries ­ do more to exacerbate the terrorist threat than diminish it. For example, the presence of 5,000 U.S. troops in Saudi Arabia after the 1991 Gulf War was one of Osama bin Laden’s consistently stated reasons for engaging in terrorism against the United States, including the Sept. 11 attacks.

Ultimately, larger defense budgets are both unnecessary and unwise because they do not target the al Qaeda terrorist threat. Most current defense spending is for two purposes: first, to maintain a large U.S. military presence deployed to all four corners of the globe (even before Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan and Operation Iraqi Freedom), and second, to procure weapon systems for conventional warfare, such as the F-22 air to air fighter, F/A-18E/F fighter-bomber, V-22 tilt-rotor transport aircraft, Virginia class attack submarines, and DD(X) destroyers that are not needed to counter the few military threats the United States might actually have to face.

In the end, having such a large and apparently overwhelming military results in the Madeleine Albright syndrome. It was she who told Republicans in the early 1990s, “What’s the point of having this superb military that you’re always talking about if we can’t use it?” Our overwhelmingly dominant forces constitute a temptation for policymakers to enter into highly dubious, if not unnecessary, military interventions. Those, in turn, are a primary motivation for the terrorist threats to the United States. We may be spending more on defense, but we are actually less secure.

CHARLES V. PEÑA is an adviser on the Straus Military Reform Project, senior fellow with the Coalition for a Realistic Foreign Policy, analyst for MSNBC television, and author of the forthcoming (April 2006) Winning the Un-War: A New Strategy for the War on Terrorism (Potomac Books).

 

 

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail