…You may ask yourself, “Am I right, am I wrong?”
You may say to yourself, “My God! What have I done?”
…Letting the days go by, water flowing underground
Into the blue again, after the money’s gone
…Same as it ever was, same as it ever was
-from “Once in a Lifetime” lyrics, by Talking Heads
On 5 Jan of this year, Obama spoke at the Pentagon. This event was covered by reporters and they were tickled by his little joke about the Pentagon having such a “nice room” set aside for such speeches. The meeting was reportedly about the upcoming “cuts” to the Pentagon budget, cuts which have led in some quarters to dire predictions of doom and an inability to protect The Homeland. Even though Obama himself pointed out that the Pentagon budget will actually continue to grow, the story being bandied about is that there are calamitous cuts ahead for the military.
“… Over the next 10 years, the growth in the defense budget will slow, but the fact of the matter is this: It will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership. In fact, the defense budget will still be larger than it was toward the end of the Bush administration. And I firmly believe, and I think the American people understand, that we can keep our military strong and our nation secure with a defense budget that continues to be larger than roughly the next 10 countries combined…” – President Obama, from opening remarks to Defense Strategic Guidance.
Leon Panetta then gave a little intro, in which he talked about the US having to face multiple enemies at a time. (“…Our strategy review concluded that the United States must have the capability to fight several conflicts at the same time. We are not confronting, obviously, the threats of the past; we are confronting the threats of the 21st century. And that demands greater flexibility to shift and deploy forces to be able to fight and defeat any enemy anywhere. How we defeat the enemy may very well vary across conflicts. But make no mistake, we will have the capability to confront and defeat more than one adversary at a time…”) While it is not clear who, exactly, these multiple enemies are, it is a simple enough exercise to produce one or several at will. Especially given that we keep bombing multiple countries at a time; surely that will generate enough antagonism somewhere to roust up an enemy or two.
Reporters must have dozed off during the presentation of the Defense Strategic Guidance itself and declined to read it later, as there is scant coverage of the document in question. It is not really about the Pentagon budget, per se, so much as a suggestive guideline for implementing the President’s goals. There are no actual figures in it. It does not read like a balance sheet or a profit and loss statement – I’m sure the assumption that it would be a boring accountant’s report is what kept journalists from perusing the thing.
A note about the papers put out by the Pentagon and the President is in order first. The Pentagon or President produce several types of guideline documents regarding national security issues. These are written and appear as the Pentagon or President sees fit, based on changing conditions, rather than on a defined and regular schedule. The Joint Chiefs issue a plan called a Nat’l Defense Strategy. (This was last updated in 2008. It sets specific goals for the military. For instance, the ’08 Nat’l Defense Strategy states that the military should be capable of pursuing a “two and a half war” strategy. The ’06 Nat’l Defense Strategy contained specific plans for the utilization of Arctic zones for military advantage as the climate warmed. Yes, the Pentagon believes in climate change and, rather than seeing it as a problem to be addressed or even admitted openly, intends to use it to our advantage, militarily speaking. What happens to the planet’s overall livability is a moot point.)
The Defense Strategic Guidance, today’s topic, is a policy review produced by the Pentagon and the President together. It sets the general guidelines for the military’s implementation of the President’s National Security Strategy. Obama last updated his Nat’l Security Strategy in 2010. This outlined Obama’s initiatives at the time: closing Guantanamo, engaging in diplomacy with Iran, and the rebuilding of the American economy. (Hey, that was then, okay?) His foreign policy as given in the Nat’l Security Strategy was very bellicose and sounded remarkably like that of Bush. It talked of the military and economic domination of the world by the US and imposing the unilateral will of the US across the globe. There was no end-date in sight for prosecuting the War on Terror mentioned in the document and to the surprise of the 15 people who read the thing, Obama openly talked about using the military on US soil. “Strengthening National Capacity—A Whole of Government Approach,” is the title of one section which contains notes for further use of the military/security into civilian areas and this idea is brought forward again further later on in the document. (…”We are improving the integration of skills and capabilities within our military and civilian institutions, so they complement each other and operate seamlessly. Empowering Communities to Counter Radicalization: Several recent incidences of violent extremists in the United States who are committed to fighting here and abroad have underscored the threat to the United States and our interests posed by individuals radicalized at home. Our best defenses against this threat are well informed and equipped families, local communities, and institutions. The Federal Government will invest in intelligence to understand this threat and expand community engagement and development programs to empower local communities.”…) To this end, Obama issued his Strategic Implementation Plan in Dec. ’11. This outlines the “Whole of Government Approach” thing, which I wrote about on 11 Dec., 2011.
The Strategic Implementation Plan (SIP) is available here in html form:
…One of the opening lines reads, “The Obama Administration continues to prioritize and stress the critical importance of CVE [CVE = Countering Violent Extremism] in the Homeland.” …
Does the Obama Administration really think we are likely to see a return to economic good times? Well, no. The SIP mentions that “While preventing violent extremism is an issue of national importance, it is one of many safety and security challenges facing our Nation. As we enter an era of increased fiscal constraints, we must ensure our approach is tailored to take advantage of current programs and leverages existing resources.”
The SIP reveals an inordinate, in my opinion, fear of the internet and repeatedly includes reminders to itself to work within the framework of the right to free speech amendments. A secondary report specifically detailing what to do about the dreaded internet will be forthcoming at some future date. By that time, Congress will no doubt have done away with the pesky free speech issues. It also shows an extreme level of concentration on potential terrorists in the prison system. That’s not surprising, given the likely increase in prison populations once any American citizen can be detained indefinitely without charges.
From the SIP, departments within the government involved in the Plan:
“The following departments and agencies were involved in the deliberations and approval process: the Departments of State (State), the Treasury, Defense (DOD), Justice (DOJ), Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services (HHS), Education (EDU), Veterans Affairs, and Homeland Security (DHS), as well as the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the National Counterterrorism Center (NCTC).”
Now that is a lot of agencies. I wonder what the Treasury, Health and Human Services, Labor, Education, and Commerce departments have to do with terrorism.
So many reports and swell ideas. Back to the Defense Strategic Guidance (DSG), the latest of the defense papers and the one introduced on 5 Jan. this year. This is the newest one, which is not really just about the Pentagon budget, as I’ve said. The DSG does not sound quite as alarmist over the Global War on Terror as the NSS and suggests that the military needs to “monitor” the situation rather than using “relentless pressure” such as in the 2010 Obama Nat’l Security Strategy.
From the DSG: “The demise of Osama bin Laden and the capturing or killing of many other senior al-Qa’ida leaders have rendered the group far less capable. However, al-Qa’ida and its affiliates remain active in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, and elsewhere. More broadly, violent extremists will continue to threaten U.S. interests, allies, partners, and the homeland. The primary loci of these threats are South Asia and the Middle East. With the diffusion of destructive technology, these extremists have the potential to pose catastrophic threats that could directly affect our security and prosperity. For the foreseeable future, the United States will continue to take an active approach to countering these threats by monitoring the activities of non-state threats worldwide, working with allies and partners to establish control over ungoverned territories, and directly striking the most dangerous groups and individuals when necessary.”
In “working with allies and partners”, we can foresee more Libya-style NATO joint actions taken against the target countries. While “South Asia” in the paragraph above might refer to the countries around Pakistan and Iran, the DSG also takes pains to include the Pacific Asian countries (China, Philippines, N and S Korea, Japan, etc.). Surely Obama does not mean to imply that al Qaeda is active in the Pacific Asian countries, which would be a remarkably questionable statement.
In the next paragraph, the DSG states:
“Accordingly, while the U.S. military will continue to contribute to security globally, we will of necessity rebalance toward the Asia-Pacific region.” And later the DSG states that “the growth of China’s military power must be accompanied by greater clarity of its strategic intentions in order to avoid causing friction in the region.”
Now this is odd. It seems that economics is the actually the primary justification given for swinging to the Pacific Asian countries and away from the Middle East in the search for the “terrorists”; the continual use of the word ‘terrorist’ must be window-dressing for the sake of keeping Americans alarmed, because certainly the fact that a country might be doing middling well financially does not suggest they are terrorists. China apparently needs to explain to our satisfaction the fact that they seem to currently have expendable income (which is, by the way, declining yearly as they begin to face their own housing bubble). China has had to decrease the level of military spending since 2010, and currently the US spends 10 times the amount that China does on its military. Perhaps as the Asian countries have fared a bit better during this economic “downturn” than the US and Europe, we simply see that as the threat. So we are simply inventing a threat of “terrorism”. One might point out that the reason the Pacific countries have been doing well is that the US cleverly managed to ship millions of jobs to that part of the globe while crafting all those free-trade agreements. It turns out that if your people have jobs, your economy does better. Someone might want to clue in Congress, although we have reached the level of depravity in the US that we would rather steal wealth than create it, and Congress seems to have very little compunction toward changing this methodology now. Notably, the Asian countries are not yet under the thumb of Goldman Banks-R-Us Sachs, as are the US and Europe. Panetta was blunt about the Asian countries in his introduction – “These are the areas where we see the greatest challenges for the future. The U.S. military will increase its institutional weight and focus on enhanced presence, power projection, and deterrence in Asia- Pacific.” Apparently, we just have the right to project our power anywhere we see fit.
The DSG itself, as a matter of fact, lacks subtlety altogether. It clearly states that the US has the right to force any other country in the world to submit to our military might in order that we might prosper. We must “project power”. Other nations do not have the right to challenge even our access to, or freedom to operate in, any area we want.
Project Power Despite Anti-Access/Area Denial Challenges. In order to credibly deter potential adversaries and to prevent them from achieving their objectives, the United States must maintain its ability to project power in areas in which our access and freedom to operate are challenged…States such as China and Iran will continue to pursue asymmetric means to counter our power projection capabilities, while the proliferation of sophisticated weapons and technology will extend to non-state actors as well. Accordingly, the U.S. military will invest as required to ensure its ability to operate effectively in anti-access and area denial (A2/AD) environments.
Furthermore, while the DSG makes it clear that while we kind of hope that nukes are not needed, we will continue to use them as a deterrent and if necessary we will deploy them.
Maintain a Safe, Secure, and Effective Nuclear Deterrent. As long as nuclear weapons remain in existence, the United States will maintain a safe, secure, and effective arsenal. We will field nuclear forces that can under any circumstances confront an adversary with the prospect of unacceptable damage, both to deter potential adversaries and to assure U.S. allies and other security partners that they can count on America ‘s security commitments.
The US added 200 new warheads to its nuclear arsenal in 2010 (so much for that non-proliferation treaty) and currently has a total of 9600 warheads. The US is also the only country on the planet that lends nuclear weapons to other countries. We also have the largest stockpile of depleted uranium at 480,000 tonnes, part of which we dispose of by using it in “conventional” weaponry. The US, Israel, and NATO countries have been the only countries to use depleted uranium in this way. We also supply 30% of the overall global arms trade by ourselves. When other countries have finally had enough of our Power Projection and fight back, they will largely be doing so with weapons we sold them.
The DSG does eventually get into the Pentagon budget issue: real humans will largely be replaced by drones and cyber-war. The budget cuts will largely come from military pay, retirement benefits, and medical care.
Fourth, the Department must continue to reduce the “cost of doing business. ” This entails reducing the rate of growth of manpower costs, finding further efficiencies in overhead and headquarters, business practices, and other support activities before taking further risk in meeting the demands of the strategy. As DoD takes steps to reduce its manpower costs, to include reductions in the growth of compensation and health care costs, we will keep faith with those who serve.
And it even offers to help veterans find other jobs; this is no doubt gladsome news for the 100,000 soldiers who are about to get their pink slips. Robotics is the wave of the future, however. We currently have four agencies flying their own drones (that we know of): the military, the Dept. of Homeland Security, the CIA, and the State Department. The Pentagon by itself operates some 7000 drone aircraft. We have 60 drone bases world-wide. We are adding drone submarines and drone helicopters to the list of must-have items. Showing little insight into how angry the civilian populations of the targeted countries become as thousands of unmanned drones fly overhead and kill innocents, we intend to rapidly and significantly increase the use of drone warfare. Somewhere in the world, lots of people will be dying in our aggressive wars to Project Power, but not many Americans. (We will just die of hunger and exposure as our wealth continues to be spent on new weaponry.) The only real spending reductions are 487 billion over the next ten years – a reduction of less than 50 bb/year. This is nothing compared to the annual military budget of 700 billion. If you combine the entire globe’s defense budgets as one, the US portion alone is 43% of it.
The DSG is only one of President Obama’s documents which suggests the use of the military on American soil. He has explicitly outlined this intent in other written papers (the National Security Strategy and the Strategic Implementation Plan being but two) and recently signed the National Defense Authorization Act, which allows the military to arrest and detain – indefinitely – American citizens at home. The DSG even includes military use within the country in the title to one of its sections:
Defend the Homeland and Provide Support to Civil Authorities. U.S. forces will continue to defend U.S. territory from direct attack by state and non-state actors. We will also come to the assistance of domestic civil authorities in the event such defense fails or in case of natural disasters, potentially in response to a very significant or even catastrophic event. Homeland defense and support to civil authorities require strong, steady -state force readiness, to include a robust missile defense capability. Threats to the homeland may be highest when U.S. forces are engaged in conflict with an adversary abroad.
You may remember that in 2008, Hank Paulson used the threat of the military in the streets as a threat to get Congress to vote for the TARP bank bail-out.
Speaking on Tulsa Oklahoma’s 1170 KFAQ, when asked who was behind threats of martial law and civil unrest if the bailout bill failed, Senator James Inhofe named Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson as the source. “Somebody in D.C. was feeding you guys quite a story prior to the bailout, a story that if we didn’t do this we were going to see something on the scale of the depression, there were people talking about martial law being instituted, civil unrest… who was feeding you guys this stuff?,” asked host Pat Campbell.
“That’s Henry Paulson,” responded Inhofe. “We had a conference call early on, it was on a Friday I think – a week and half before the vote on Oct. 1. So it would have been the middle… what was it – the 19th of September, we had a conference call. In this conference call – and I guess there’s no reason for me not to repeat what he said, but he said – he painted this picture you just described. He said, ‘This is serious. This is the most serious thing that we faced.’”
Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA 27th District) reported the same threat on the Congressional floor: “The only way they can pass this bill is by creating a panic atmosphere… Many of us were told that the sky would fall… A few of us were even told that there would be martial law in America if we voted no. That’s what I call fear-mongering, unjustified, proven wrong.”
It is ironic, to say the least, that President Obama, a Democrat and the recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, can now explicitly and repeatedly state that he sees a need for military in the streets – not to mention his claim that he has the right to indefinitely detain Americans and has even assassinated Americans based on mere allegations of their “terrorist” intents – and no-one seems to be alarmed. It appears that few have even noticed.
Where are our enemies? Look around you. Look at the potholes in the street, the crumbling bridges, the overcrowded classrooms, look at the buildings, toll roads, and parking meters sold to foreign investors, the nearly zero percent interest you earn on your savings account and the 25% you pay on your credit card. Look at the foreclosed homes, with plenty more in the pipeline to “clear the market”. Look at the big banks, bigger than ever with their continuing bailouts and 700 trillion dollars of derivatives. Try to find the jobs. (You can always apply to wait on foreign travelers by entering the “hospitality industry”, according to Obama. Count your tips as your one and only benefit.) Look at the national parks and wild areas being leased or sold outright to energy giants who will dig them up and leave a toxic wasteland and poisoned water in their stead. Think about the almost 50 million Americans who do not have health insurance, more than when the famous “health-care bill” was passed, and ponder the rising profits of the insurance industry. Consider the always-increasing profits of the largest companies and banks in the country. Think about the fact that 50% of Americans now live at or below the poverty line, while CEO pay soars to heights never seen in this country before now; but taxes on corporations and wealthy individuals continually decrease. Who is illegally eavesdropping on your phone calls and reading your e-mails? Who is arresting people for merely speaking in the streets? Iran, China, Iraq, Libya, Afghanistan….those countries had nothing to do with any of this. These are choices made by our legislators – both at the state and federal levels. We voted them into office and they are giving the country away to Goldman, Sachs, Citigroup, Monsanto, and Exxon. We are allowing these strange, psychopathic grifters to steal everything right out from under us; and all the while, they continue to tear down the rights and freedoms we have always counted on as ours and ratchet up the threats against us. By voting for them and allowing this to continue without objection, we are our own enemy. Of course they fear unrest in the streets; no doubt they are surprised we haven’t yet brought out the guillotines and stormed the Bastille. Maybe we never will. Maybe we will just quietly crumble into oblivion, our last dollar finally stolen by JP Morgan and the last acre of arable land finally poisoned beyond use. Maybe the final cogent thought of the last American left will be, “Gosh, I wonder whatever happened to Nascar?” No-one is threatening to invade us – we have invaded ourselves.
Update: The Defense Strategic Guidance is not some top-secret document. It is available to the public, as are all the documents I listed in this article. I down-loaded the DSG from the Dept. of Defense public website; it may be read here in pdf form: