FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

US to Become a Second-Rate Power

by MIKE FERNER

Yes, believe it, friends.  That is exactly what Outgoing Secretary of War Panetta said in a Feb. 1 exit interview with USA Today, when asked what effects looming cuts will have on the War Department if Congress fails to reach a budget deal by March 1.

Red-blooded Senate and House members eager to protect the military from even a rumor of a budget cut will certainly welcome Panetta’s words.  Whether it will result in the U.S. becoming a “second-rate power” is a little less certain, considering we now spend as much for war as the rest of the world put together, with perhaps the exception of Upper Volta and the Cayman Islands.

To put the Secretary’s America-as-second-rate-power fears in perspective, the dreaded “sequestering” of the budget means the Pentagon will have to cut 8 to 9 percent out of this year’s $535 billion dollar budget.

In the near term, according to USA Today, the cuts would require the Air Force to throttle back on flight training, the Navy to keep ships in port longer and the Army to reduce utility costs at its posts.  The U.S. would be able to handle its commitments in Afghanistan and the Middle East but little else.  And continued sequestration cuts over the next decade would leave the Army with only 390,000 soldiers to guard the Empire’s reaches.

“We are the world’s most powerful military, and we use that to promote peace and stability in the world,” Panetta stated.  Whether the sequestration cuts would reduce world peace and stability by more than eight or nine percent this year was not clear, nor were any estimates given on peace and stability reductions over the next decade.

“When we’re called upon to do other crises, whether it is in Syria or Mali or North Africa or elsewhere, we may not be able to respond,” Panetta said…as the Syrians, Malians, North Africans and Elsewherians breathed a sigh of relief.

But let’s give the devil his due.  In truth, I think the War Secretary is on to something.  For most of us in this country, coming in second would be highly welcome, a real improvement over the current state of affairs, considering that among the nations of the world we are now in:

* 22nd place when it comes to keeping our people out of long-term unemployment

* 26th place in school performance  and the same in literacy

* 35th place in keeping our fellow citizens above the poverty line

* 37th place in providing health care, or to state it another way

* 48th place in infant mortality – keeping babies alive until their first birthday – generally accepted as the best overall indicator of a nation’s health

* 50th place in life expectancy at birth

* 91st place in overall equality of income distribution and

* 116th place in the share of income held by the poorest 10% of the population.

But take heart, Mr. Outgoing Secretary, we just missed a blue ribbon at something – the amount of money spent on health care.  A “We’re Number One!” award just slipped through our grasp when those cagey Maltans figured out how to spend even more than we do, so now we’re only…well, a second rate power on health care expenses.  You’ve sounded the alarm not a moment too soon.

Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio.  He served as a Navy corpsman during the Vietnam war and is a former president of Veterans For Peace.  Email him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

Mike Ferner is a writer from Ohio and former president of Veterans For Peace.  You can reach him at mike.ferner@sbcglobal.net

More articles by:
Weekend Edition
June 24, 2016
Friday - Sunday
John Pilger
A Blow for Peace and Democracy: Why the British Said No to Europe
Pepe Escobar
Goodbye to All That: Why the UK Left the EU
Michael Hudson
Revolts of the Debtors: From Socrates to Ibn Khaldun
Andrew Levine
Summer Spectaculars: Prelude to a Tea Party?
Kshama Sawant
Beyond Bernie: Still Not With Her
Mike Whitney
¡Basta Ya, Brussels! British Voters Reject EU Corporate Slavestate
Tariq Ali
Panic in the House: Brexit as Revolt Against the Political Establishment
Paul Street
Miranda, Obama, and Hamilton: an Orwellian Ménage à Trois for the Neoliberal Age
Ellen Brown
The War on Weed is Winding Down, But Will Monsanto Emerge the Winner?
Gary Leupp
Why God Created the Two-Party System
Conn Hallinan
Brexit Vote: a Very British Affair (But Spain May Rock the Continent)
Ruth Fowler
England, My England
Jeffrey St. Clair
Lines Written on the Occasion of Bernie Sanders’ Announcement of His Intention to Vote for Hillary Clinton
Norman Pollack
Fissures in World Capitalism: the British Vote
Paul Bentley
Mercenary Logic: 12 Dead in Kabul
Binoy Kampmark
Parting Is Such Sweet Joy: Brexit Prevails!
Elliot Sperber
Show Me Your Papers: Supreme Court Legalizes Arbitrary Searches
Jan Oberg
The Brexit Shock: Now It’s All Up in the Air
Nauman Sadiq
Brexit: a Victory for Britain’s Working Class
Brian Cloughley
Murder by Drone: Killing Taxi Drivers in the Name of Freedom
Ramzy Baroud
How Israel Uses Water as a Weapon of War
Brad Evans – Henry Giroux
The Violence of Forgetting
Ben Debney
Homophobia and the Conservative Victim Complex
Margaret Kimberley
The Orlando Massacre and US Foreign Policy
David Rosen
Americans Work Too Long for Too Little
Murray Dobbin
Do We Really Want a War With Russia?
Kathy Kelly
What’s at Stake
Louis Yako
I Have Nothing “Newsworthy” to Report this Week
Pete Dolack
Killing Ourselves With Technology
David Krieger
The 10 Worst Acts of the Nuclear Age
Lamont Lilly
Movement for Black Lives Yields New Targets of the State
Martha Rosenberg
A Hated Industry Fights Back
Robert Fantina
Hillary, Gloria and Jill: a Brief Look at Alternatives
Chris Doyle
No Fireworks: Bicentennial Summer and the Decline of American Ideals
Michael Doliner
Beyond Dangerous: the Politics of Climate
Colin Todhunter
Modi, Monsanto, Bayer and Cargill: Doing Business or Corporate Imperialism?
Steve Church
Brexit: a Rush for the Exits!
Matthew Koehler
Mega Corporation Gobbles Up Slightly Less-Mega Corporation; Chops Jobs to Increase Profits; Blames Enviros. Film at 11.
David Green
Rape Culture, The Hunting Ground, and Amy Goodman: a Critical Perspective
Ed Kemmick
Truckin’: Pro Driver Dispenses Wisdom, Rules of the Road
Alessandro Bianchi
“China Will React if Provoked Again: You Risk the War”: Interview with Andre Vltchek
Christy Rodgers
Biophilia as Extreme Sport
Missy Comley Beattie
At Liberty
Ron Jacobs
Is Everything Permitted?
Cesar Chelala
The Sad Truth About Messi
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail