Monday, August 09, 2010

Who's cutting what now?

According to The New York Times, Defense Secretary Robert Gates has just announced a plan "to cut billions of dollars from the Pentagon budget." Great! With states running massive budget deficits and the official unemployment rate hovering around double-digits, what better time could there be to "trim back on unaffordable defense spending," as the Times puts it in its lede, right?

Except, of course, no one's talking about actually cutting the amount spent on the Defense Department. In fact, all Gates is proposing is basically reshuffling the money the Pentagon spends on its army of private contractors and retired advisers so it can spend more on its military occupations overseas. The Times, though, waits until the 12th paragraph to inform us of that:
The goal is to convert as much as 2 percent or 3 percent of spending from “tail” to “tooth” — military slang for support services and combat forces. Mr. Gates argued that if Congress guaranteed a 1 percent increase in real defense spending over years to come, the savings he seeks would be reinvested in the combat forces and would be sufficient to pay for national defense.

The budget measures go beyond what many previous defense secretaries have done to cut redundancies and inefficiencies.

But they do not represent an actual decline in year-to-year total spending.
So despite the fact Gates is not actually slashing spending -- the announced cuts merely intended to insulate his department from calls for real reductions at a time when cities are turning off their streetlights in a desperate attempt to save money -- the paper of record acts as if the big story is that a few DOD bureaucrats and contractors may lose their jobs rather than the offensive reality that the department is immune from budget cuts during the worst recession in decades, presenting the Defense Secretary as a stern, committed budget-cutter while neglecting the crucial detail that his vaunted cuts are simply part of an attempt to free up more tax dollars for killing people in Iraq and Afghanistan (and for not-so-covert ops in Iran, Yemen and Somalia).

Perhaps the most depressing aspect of it all? I fully expect to see a press release from the Republican National Committee tomorrow and impassioned speeches on the floor of Congress denouncing the Obama administration for "cutting defense spending" and putting us all at risk of Another 9/11 (TM); real men know that if you aren't going to increase war funding by at least 10 percent a year you might as well wave the white flag and surrender to the terrorists, after all. And so the charade continues.

1 comment:

  1. jcapan3:22 AM

    "The problem was how to keep the wheels of industry turning without increasing the real wealth of the world. Goods must be produced, but they need not be distributed. And in practice the only way of achieving this was by continuous warfare.

    The essential act of war is destruction, not necessarily of human lives, but of the products of human labor. War is a way of shattering to pieces, or pouring into the stratosphere, or sinking in the depths of the sea, materials which might otherwise be used to make the masses too comfortable, and hence, in the long run, too intelligent.....

    The war is waged by each ruling group against its own subjects, and the object of the war is not to make or prevent conquests of territory, but to keep the structure of society intact. The very word ‘war’, therefore, has become misleading. It would probably be accurate to say that by becoming continuous war has ceased to exist.”

    Chapter 3, "War is Peace"
    The Theory and Practice of Oligarchical Collectivism
    by Emmanuel Goldstein