Wednesday, April 08, 2009

When up is down

Reading an op-ed in Tuesday's issue of The Wall Street Journal from the American Enterprise Institute's Thomas Donnelly and Gary Schmitt, one might be forgiven for thinking the Obama administration had just "gut[ted] the military" with its 2010 budget proposal. Write Donnelly and Schmitt, both members of the pro-empire Project for a New American Century:
The budget cuts Mr. Gates is recommending are not a temporary measure to get us over a fiscal bump in the road. Rather, they are the opening bid in what, if the Obama administration has its way, will be a future U.S. military that is smaller and packs less wallop. But what is true for the wars we're in -- that numbers matter -- is also true for the wars that we aren't yet in, or that we simply wish to deter.
While I'm glad to know the military geniuses at AEI are still preparing for "the wars that we aren't yet in" -- war of course enabling the likes of Donnelly and Schmitt to write evermore odes to Winston Churchill from the safety of their air-conditioned think-tank sinecure in DC -- there happens to be one small problem with their analysis: while Defense Secretary Robert Gates has indeed made a big show of cutting a few Cold War-era programs like the F-22 fighter jet, he is also overseeing the largest defense budget in U.S. history, and one that equals the military spending of the rest of the world combined.

As Lawrence Korb of the slavishly pro-Obama Center for American Progress approvingly notes:
President Barack Obama’s topline budget projections for fiscal year 2010 allocate $534 billion to the Department of Defense, the largest allocation of any department. The amount represents roughly a 4-percent increase over the $513 billion allocated to the Pentagon in FY2009 under the Bush administration, and $6.7 billion more than the outgoing administration’s projections for FY 2010.
The defense budget has nearly doubled in real terms in the last decade, and this year’s $534 billion baseline provides adequate funding to maintain the quality of our troops and military infrastructure, and modernize the force. This amount does not in any way undermine the war effort, as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are financed in separate supplementals, which to date total nearly $1 trillion. Obama has promised $130 billion more for these efforts in FY2010.
During the presidential campaign, the lunatic right spent much time casting Obama as the modern day George McGovern (if only), doing their part to maintain the fiction that there exists a great gulf in the ways the two parties conduct foreign policy. While neoconservative organizations like AEI might find it beneficial financially to scare their wealthy donors with the specter of Barack Obama ceding the Eastern seaboard to al-Qaeda, it's as far from the truth as AEI's case for invading Iraq.

If anything, Obama is continuing and expanding on the Bush administration's foreign policies, from escalating the war in Afghanistan to intensifying the destabilizing drone attacks within Pakistan. Though there have been some welcome efforts at increasing diplomacy with Iran and Syria, honest neoconservatives (speaking relatively) such as Max Boot have conceded Obama is more McCain than McGovern.

But just as certain Democratic groups (*cough* have sought to cast Obama as this century's Mahatma Gandhi, neocons like Schmitt and Donnelly are too invested in the Red Team-Blue Team dichotomy to admit the Democrats are largely just Republicans with more intelligent sounding imperial rhetoric.


In other news, I had no idea Blackwater author and Nation reporter Jeremy Scahill had a blog. You should read it.

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