The House of Representatives will soon be debating the new Department of Defense (DoD) appropriations bill. It’s expensive – $649 billion, close to another post-World War II high. The bill covers almost all of DoD’s expenses for fiscal year 2012 – both routine expenses, such as basic payroll, training and weapons acquisition (known as the “base” budget), and war spending – for Afghanistan, Iraq and elsewhere.
Pretending reform and frugality, members of the House Appropriations Committee – Democrats and Republicans alike – packed the bill with pork and gimmicks.
The bill would spend $17 billion more than last year. But House appropriators are calling this increase a cut because it’s less than the original defense budget request President Obama sent to Congress in February. That request was made irrelevant by the president’s subsequent decision to reduce long-term security spending by $400 billion.
In addition to pretending frugality, the committee apes reform. It explicitly denies the existence of earmarks in the bill, saying in its own committee report, “Neither the bill nor the report contains any congressional earmarks, limited tax benefits, or limited tariff benefits as defined in clause 9 of rule XXI.”
Phi Beta Iota: There is nothing wrong with the US Government–or the economy–that could not be corrected quickly if the public-private sector partnership restored integrity as a non-negotiable starting point. This is what woke George Soros up–he finally realized that the degree of legalized corruption negated all reasonable operating assumptions for doing business.
I received this email from an Afghan (Pashtun) friend, who now lives in Europe and has a doctors degree from Oxford
I’m sending you this email for two reasons:
1. The account of what has happened is fairly accurate.
2. Because the author’s type of belief beggars the imagination: Namely, that a “democracy” can be imposed over-night on a social system that evolved over 2000 years with its own highly developed, deeply ingrained social dynamics, by a bunch of self-interested crooks.
I love his prescription: “The crisis created by Karzai’s Court underscores the necessity for a genuine Afghan led dialogue on democratic reform. Options must be explored to strengthen the independence and resilience of Afghanistan’s democratic institutions.”
If this could not be done during the past ten years, with this bunch in power, what hope is there that it’ll be ever accomplished with Karzai & Co. still at the helm ?
On the other hand, it’s understandable that he peddles this type of nonsense, because otherwise he’d be out of a job.
In January of this year, Afghan President Hamid Karzai yielded to domestic and international pressure and endorsed the seating of the new Afghan parliament against the recommendation of a Special Court he created to evaluate election fraud claims. Few would have predicted then that six months later Karzai’s Court would bring the country to the brink of complete political collapse.
The obvious questions, apart from how easy it is to shoot these down, is not being asked: how many deeply-qualified humans could be fielded for the same amount? The obsession with technology continues….and the Air Force has still not solved the triple-whammy of drones: 1) the reality that pilots are cheaper than bandwidth; 2) Gorgon Stare’s 50 video channels require 150 individuals (three watches of 50 each) to monitor; and 3) we are still firing very expensive munitions at people whose suspicious activity is squatting to defacate by the side of aroad.
How many giant experimental spy blimps does the military need over Afghanistan, exactly?
That’s one of many questions the Senate Armed Services Committee is asking after an intramilitary battle has erupted over what many expect to be the future of aerial surveillance. The Army and the Air Force each have their own football field-sized airships in the works; the Senate panel wants to know why it should pay for both — especially as the Air Force seems fickle about its model and keeps changing the spy sensors on board. Legislators are asking: What gives?
There is nothing more sacred to the maintenance of democracy than a free press. Access to comprehensive, accurate and quality information is essential to the manifestation of Socratic citizenship – the society characterized by a civically engaged, well-informed and socially invested populace. Thus, to the degree that access to quality information is willfully or unintentionally obstructed, democracy itself is degraded.
It is ironic that in the era of 24-hour cable news networks and “reality” programming, the news-to-fluff ratio and overall veracity of information has declined precipitously. Take the fact Americans now spend on average about 50 hours a week using various forms of media, while at the same time cultural literacy levels hover just above the gutter.
Phi Beta Iota: Although the author focuses on Fox News, all of the propaganda techniques are common to the mainstream media that refused fully paid advertisements against the elective war on Iraq (NYT, LAT, WP) as well as Huffington Post and other minor-league leftist outlets. “Idiot America” is the title of a serious book. This condition will persist as long as the government–and the country as a whole–lack the integrity to restore truth to all dialog and deliberation.
Important note to readers: This differs from the published version. I made one really dumb error (bold below) and corrected a few typos and added some hotlinks to aid referencing. I apologize for my inexcusable mistake. Chuck Spinney
The United States has always meddled in other people’s affairs. For those readers who think this statement is an exaggeration, I urge them to peruse the chronology of interventions compiled by the Congressional Research Service. This historical predilection for meddling, however, grew enormously in depth and breadth during the Cold War, and to make matters worse, it is now clear that it exploded after the end of the Cold War.
Senior Congressional sources in Washington have disclosed to The Mail on Sunday that President Obama has told the Libyan rebels through intermediaries that a condition of continued support from the US is that they must hand over Megrahi if they enter Tripoli.
The historic leader of the Libyan 1969 revolution, symbol of Libyan resistance, king of kings of Africa, Imam of Muslims, teacher of the Third Universal Theory, gave a historic speech to around one fifth of the entire Libyan population gathered to show their love and defiance.
Pakistan’s military continues to nurture a broad range of militant groups as part of a three-decade strategy of using proxies against its neighbours and US forces in Afghanistan, a prominent former militant commander said.
Phi Beta Iota: The details are compelling. What this really means is that the CIA and the Department of Defense are either incredibly ignorant of Pakistani plans and intentions, or remarkably cavalier and corrupt. What appears clear is that this is a sucking chest wound in US “intelligence” and national “defense” going back thirty years and multiple generations of so-called leaders who have no real grasp of reality in Pakistan.
Following below are several headlines about the prospects for the Defense Budget. As an overarching summary, what you need to know is that, at the working level, the fiscal decrements are already impacting heavily. We simply do not have the resources to do the routine work necessary to steward the force and plan for the future. The division I work in is currently operating at less than 60 percent of the people we need and we are supposedly one of the elite places. Money for necessary travel has dried up for all but Generals and SES’s and our capability to conduct necessary planning conferences has been formally terminated. So, at most optimistic and charitable characterization, the future looks dodgy.
Phi Beta Iota: Defense cuts will be at least 30% over the next ten years, and hopefully as much as 50%. What we have now is a circle of outright lies among all pertinent executive and legislative officials. An ethical Secretary of Defense would be identifying contracts, starting with most of what DARPA and the services are doing in the way of futures, and present a list to Congress of needed cuts irrespective of contract law, the US now being in a state of war and the exingencies of the situation mandating a legislative override of contract law. Salami slicing is the idiot’s path to temporary relief. The entire US government is bloated and broken, not just the Department of Defense. This is not a system that can be repaired in the absence of intelligence and integrity. It needs to be replaced–or not even replaced, just routed around and starved to death.
From a brave but frustrated front-line infantry leader. Shades of SLA Marshall!
as the Army stands down from conflict life will get very dull……
Yeah I am dreading that and honestly I LOVE the Army. It’s always the politics. Just like the article I read on MSNBC talking about the new strategy is to do “surgical strikes”. One of my favorite quotes ever is “Bombing from a B-52 is very effective. The bombs always hit the ground.” I just think it is funny when you blow up a mud hut in some shit hole country people think it makes a difference. It doesn’t and at the end of a week the mud hut is back and it’s back to whatever it was doing before it was destroyed. Bombardment denies enemy the terrain only as long as stuff is exploding. Once the explosions stop anybody can walk through there. That is why nothing has ever beat the infantryman. It’s why the Infantry has been around since the dawn of armies.
People are complaining about the cost of the wars and here again it’s Politics. Congressman and Senators and the general public forcing equipment training and standards onto the military that is may not necessarily need or want. We have cooks in the army we don’t need the KBR chow-halls. I have two good legs and feet I don’t need a truck most of the time. I definitely don’t want these MRAP’s that I am being FORCED to use. Give me a soft skin Humvee a mission, beans and bullets and look see what I can do. Body armor, armored vehicles and these chu’s while yes they are nice they aren’t necessary. Somewhere though somebody thought it should be the rule and not the exception and here we are trillions of dollars later and for what. I don’t really blame army leadership as much as politics. I don’t mean politicians either although they are the cause of a lot of this pain. Family and friends back home, bystanders and people who think their opinion should matter are complaining that people are dying in Humvee’s and we need something better. Hence the MRAP. People wanna know why the military doesn’t have body armor and hell cops do. Cops don’t carry near the gear and ride around on motorcycles or in cars. Take away some of my crap and let me walk, I won’t get blown up as much cause I am not walking on a road, I will be able to think clearer because I am not so miserable and let me kill the bad guys so I feel there is a purpose. To the victor goes the spoils, but since when is the spoils of war rebuilding the losers country then leaving it???
I’ve enjoyed The War Nerd for years. Great, colorful writing. The author of the column, “Gary Brecher,” was never on the same page as me when it came to warfare. However, that’s changed.
He now thinks, and makes an excellent case for global guerrilla thinking. In short: that blood and guts warfare is counter productive and that systems disruption (hiting network systempunkts/nodes to generate high ROI‘s and publicity) is a potential path to long term victory for guerrillas. In short: in the modern context, if you keep the blood/guts to a min, and keep the cost ratio massively in your favor while staying alive, you will eventually win.
“In 1994, they took the idea of non-lethal warfare a notch up by doing one of the most revolutionary things any guerrilla army has ever done: IRA mortar teams dropped shells on the runways at Heathrow Airport, totally stopping air traffic… but the shells weren’t even designed to explode. Intentional duds. That’s amazing; I’ve never heard of anything like that. It shows how far they’d come by that stage, away from the simple Al Qaeda maximum-blood crap I bought into in that earlier article. In contemporary urban guerrilla warfare, at least in Western Europe, killing civvies is counterproductive. What you want to do, what the IRA had mastered by the 1990s, was messing with the incredibly fragile and expensive networks that keep a huge city going. Interrupt them and you cost the enemy billions of dollars, and they don’t even have any gory corpses to shake in your faces. Fucking brilliant, and I was too dumb to see it!