Although the defense budget tally is for $439 billion, the estimate on war costs for Iraq and Afghanistan this year alone comes to $120 billion. Since fiscal year 2003, Americans have been burdened with a monthly average of $6.8 billion for Iraq-Afghanistan conflicts. Worse still, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) shows that the war costs are surging — taxpayers could be paying an average of $10 billion a month this year.
To put the wild spending by the Bush administration in perspective, the CBO, in January 2001, projected a federal budget surplus greater than $5.6 trillion for the following ten years. Now, the CBO projects a deficit of $423 billion — nearly the same amount as the defense budget for this fiscal year.
As their stocks continuing to surge since 2002, defense contractors — Raytheon Co., Lockheed Martin Corp., Boeing and Northrop Grumman Corp. — have been granted lucrative defense projects in the United States from building missile defense systems to remote-controlled vehicles and aircrafts. In fact, defense contractors and companies that manufacture products or provide services for the military usually end up making a killing, even in times of economic deterioration.
To make any sense of the defense budget proposal, one must turn to its defense guidelines, the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). As a regular military planning policy, QDR is put forth every four years. The Bush Administration has sent two QDRs to Congress, one released just after the September 11, 2001 attacks, and the other in February 2006, the year of midterm elections. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld wanted to transform the U.S. military for the 21st century by making the armed forces “lighter, smarter, more lethal.”
The 2001 QDR laid the foundation for this administration’s defense policy — global dominance. It declares, “The United States is not abandoning planning for two conflicts to plan for fewer than two. On the contrary, Department of Defense (DOD) is changing the concept altogether by planning for victory across the spectrum of possible conflict.”
The term “conflict” not only implies combating terrorist networks as in al Qaeda in Afghanistan, but also extends to fighting nations for economic or political reasons, as in the invasion of Iraq, the looming war against Iran, followed by Syria and North Korea next in line; and the list of targets is growing.
The review entailed rapid response capabilities on the battlefields, the establishment of worldwide bases (“rearrangement of bases” where some closed, others built), the development of new technologies (missile defense systems and attack drones), including space and cyberspace programs for information warfare (controlling the media and Internet), and the horrific display of the U.S. military supremacy (shock and awe) to suppress or thwart any rivalry.
The 2006 QDR delivered in February calls for enhancing the ability of U.S. forces to conduct a “long war” against terrorists worldwide, to improve homeland security capabilities, and to prepare for conflict with the emerging rival, China. It describes four main types of threat — “traditional challenge” as in a competitor against the U.S.; “catastrophic challenge” as in a hostile nation with possession of WMDs; “irregular challenge” as in terrorists carrying out acts of terrorism; and “disruptive threats” as in interference with U.S. economic and political operations in the world.
More significantly, the review singles out China as the impending threat to the U.S. economy and military. It states, “China is likely to continue making large investments in high-end, asymmetric military capabilities….These capabilities, the vast distances of the Asian theater, China’s continental depth, and the challenge of en route and in-theater U.S. basing place a premium on forces capable of sustained operations at great distances into denied areas.”
As the 2001 QDR introduced U.S. imperialism, the 2006 QDR continues its plan for execution — “to promote constructive bilateral relations, mitigate anti-access threats and to offset potential political coercion designed to limit U.S. access to any region.” Words such as these in a QDR report have nothing to do with international diplomacy but everything to do with the military.
With the world’s most advanced and imposing military spread across the globe, the Defense Department not only wants an increase in production of conventional weapons for its ongoing wars but also in development of nuclear weapon systems. According to a report by the Government Accountability Office (GAO), "The United States spends several times more on its military than any conceivable adversary, and together with its allies accounts for more than two-thirds of total worldwide defense spending."
Although Congress and the mainstream media are pretending that the ongoing wars are limited to fighting terrorism in Afghanistan and Iraq, the 2007 defense budget shows otherwise, calling for massive spending on hi-tech fighter jets, warships, missile defense systems and nuclear weapons for low-tech confrontations now engaged in these two countries. Imposing tight restrictions on journalists and outsiders, the Pentagon is using the occupied territories as a testing ground for its new hi-tech weapon systems, in preparation for a more formidable opponent with advanced weapon systems and nuclear weapon capabilities.
The increased funding for military Special Forces has drawn quite a bit of attention. What is not transparent is that the Army has a budget for only 482,400 active-duty soldiers and anything beyond that limit is being paid for with emergency funds. The Army actually has 492,000 troops at present and plans to increase to 512,000 in a few years. It’s now clear that Bush has no plans for troop withdrawals in the coming years.
As Rumsfeld demands increased funding for robot-controlled weapons systems, unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), and Joint Direct Attack Munition (JDAM) precision bombs, he is turning the military into a war machine with the ability to kill indiscriminately. The Pentagon officially admits that 10 percent of “smart bombs” can be expected to fail owing to mechanical malfunctions or human error. The JDAM, steered by satellite-guide GPS data, can be accurate within 13 meters of a target. Of course, the U.S. military has denied any responsibility for numerous innocent civilians, including children, killed or injured in Afghanistan, Iraq, and even in Pakistan by these remote-controlled weapon systems.
Despite protests from many countries, the U.S. is using the Predator, a modified version of UAV, to kill suspected terrorists with drone-fired missiles outside of combat zones. When a Predator was involved in the assassination of suspected terrorists in Yemen in 2002, the U.N. called it "an alarming precedent, a clear case of extrajudicial killing" in violation of international laws and treaties.
More troubling, the 2002 Nuclear Posture Review proposed research and development of nuclear weapons to be used preemptively against threats from weapons of mass destruction by any terrorist group or nation, including China and Russia. George W. Bush pushed Congress for approval to develop new low-yield nuclear weapons as well as Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator (RNEP), an underground weapon that is seventy times more powerful than the uranium bomb dropped on Hiroshima. Although Congress approved the review in 2002 to conduct research in developing new low-yield nuclear weapons, it has repeatedly denied Bush the funding to develop new nuclear weapons. Nevertheless, the 2007 budget has included $1.73 million “to improve nuclear command and control and upgrade existing systems,” the White House said.
The dreadful fear is that Bush could go against the Congress, like the way he did on torture ban, with a presidential signing statement to get the budget he needs for new nuclear weapons. Who could stop him? After all, he has used presidential signing statements (at least 435 signing statements in his first term alone) more than all previous U.S. presidents combined.
It only takes one nation to trigger a nuclear global war.
With the U.S. leader who’s disconnected from reality, supported by his cabal of warmongers and followed by the military-machine, the madness to march towards Armageddon has already begun.
(First published on UniOrb.com, March 1, 2006)