Saturday, February 24, 2018

Nation Debates Gun Control, US Military wants $ 716 billion for next year

While Americans are discussing domestic arms control after the mass shootings at a high school in Florida last week, military weapons funding has escaped public scrutiny. The US Department of Defense has recently released its summary of the 2018 National Defense Strategy (NDS) with little fanfare.

The first thing you notice is how little news in the media has received the NDS. When analyzing the document, however, the reason for this blackout is clear. From the nation on Tuesday:

“The NDS is to government documents what A Nightmare on Elm Street is to family films; it’s meant, that is, to scare the hell out of the casual reader.” [emphasis added]

The NDS claims that the global "security environment" has become more complex and volatile than we have experienced in the recent past, despite the fact that the US has distributed more than 1,000 bases over much of the world. If the global security environment has become increasingly complex and volatile, even if the US military is present almost everywhere, it may say more about the US military strategy than about the global community.

The NDS begins by explaining that "strategic competition in the first place, and not terrorism, is now the primary concern in the national security of the US." This sentence seems a bit like a slap in the face for the thousands of Americans who have lost their lives believing they fought a war against terror and countless innocent civilians who have also died since 2001 in this US-led world war. But for those who have paid attention all the time, it must be clear that competition between states has always been the primary concern of the United States, not terrorism.

And who are these interstate actors? The NDS makes no secret that the United States is primarily concerned with Russia, China, North Korea and Iran, bringing them all together as threats in one complete paragraph:

“China is a strategic competitor using predatory economics to intimidate its neighbors while militarizing features in the South China Sea. Russia has violated the borders of nearby nations and pursues veto power over the economic, diplomatic, and security decisions of its neighbors. As well, North Korea’s outlaw actions and reckless rhetoric continue despite United Nation’s censure and sanctions. Iran continues to sow violence and remains the most significant challenge to Middle East stability. Despite the defeat of ISIS’s physical caliphate, threats to stability remain as terrorist groups with long reach continue to murder the innocent and threaten peace more broadly.”

According to Danny Shursen of the nation, a lieutenant known as General H.R. McMaster (Trump's current national security advisor) passing by when Sjursen, a prominent departmental alumni at West Point, taught history lessons.

“In 2015, McMaster gave us history instructors a memorable, impromptu sermon about the threats we’d face when we returned to the regular Army,” Sjursen wrote. “He referred, if memory serves, to what he labeled the two big threats, two medium threats, and one persistent threat that will continue to haunt our all-American world. In translation: That’s China and Russia, Iran and North Korea, and last but not necessarily least Islamist terrorism. And honestly, if that isn’t a lineup that could get you anything you ever dreamed of in the way of weapons systems and the like, what is?”

According to Sjursen, the similarities between the hierarchy of enemies painted in the NDS referred to above and the list of McMasters are creepy.

The eleven "defense objectives" in the NDS suggest that, as Sjursen explains, the US is obsessed with hegemony, not defense. Number five on the list indicates that one of the goals of the US is to maintain“favorable regional balances of power in the Indo-Pacific, Europe, the Middle East, and the Western Hemisphere.”

If someone doubts the true objectives of the NDS, the document also mentions the following:

“Failure to meet our defense objectives will result in decreasing U.S. global influence, eroding cohesion among allies and partners, and reduced access to markets that will contribute to a decline in our prosperity and standard of living. Without sustained and predictable investment to restore readiness and modernize our military to make it fit for our time, we will rapidly lose our military advantage, resulting in a Joint Force that has legacy systems irrelevant to the defense of our people.” [emphasis added]

As stated in the document above, Iran remains "the biggest challenge for stability in the Middle East." In reality, Iran is probably one of the more politically stable countries. And it is also unclear why Iran is the biggest challenge, not the recent Yemen invasion by the UAE, Saudi Arabia's brutal bombing campaign, groups such as ISIS and the billions of dollars being pumped to encourage a jihadist takeover of Syria, to name a few.

Yet the efforts needed to combat these false threats are now estimated at $ 716 billion by 2019. Remember, both Barack Obama and Donald Trump have held their election on anti-interventionist platforms, it must be clear that we are all have been pretty well behaved.

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