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09:01 PDA Bulletin - Friends

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  • Charles Knight
    We have created the group Friends of the Project on Defense Alternatives on FaceBook. Please join us at:
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 20, 2009
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      We have created the group "Friends of the Project on Defense
      Alternatives" on FaceBook. Please join us at:

      http://www.facebook.com/home.php?ref=home#/group.php?gid=45978201543

      In the last month we have published two commentaries which are
      reposted below:

      "It's Time To Scrutinize The Pentagon Budget" by Charles Knight, Carl
      Conetta and James P. McGovern

      "Meeting the Enemy with Serious Talks of Extraordinary Scope" by
      Charles Knight
      ___________

      "It's Time To Scrutinize The Pentagon Budget"

      There is nothing about the absolute size of a half-trillion dollar
      Pentagon budget that should concern Americans if that expenditure is
      necessary for the defense of the nation and if, as a nation, we are
      rich enough to foot the bill. But in the shadow of 9/11 and subsequent
      wars, that budget has been exempted from the type of scrutiny it
      received during the 1990s. Still it constitutes so much of our
      discretionary spending and has contributed so much to our deficit
      spending that we can no longer afford to look the other way.

      The last ten years have seen the Pentagon's "baseline budget" grow by
      45% - from $358 billion in 1997 to $518 billion today, not including
      much of the funding for current wars and for Homeland Security.
      The Congressional Budget Office estimates that the baseline budget
      will grow another $30 billion in coming years. And it has been
      reported that the Bush Administration will pass on to the Obama
      Administration a revised five year defense plan which will push the
      budget up another $80 billion.

      Surely our national security needs are real and enduring. But there
      also is an immediate need to shore-up our economy and to speed relief
      to Americans facing hard times Americans of all ages also want reform
      of the healthcare system in order to improve access to quality care
      and to make it more affordable. We need diverse educational
      investments and major investments to reduce energy dependence and to
      curb global warming.

      Meanwhile America is slipping further into recession, likely the worst
      since the 1930s. The next several years are expected to add several
      trillions of dollars to our already outstanding national debt of $10
      trillion. As debt rises relative to revenue and new demands on the
      budget loom, we simply must use our resources judiciously. With
      millions of American households facing their own budget crises, the
      next congress will be expected to exercise more vigilant oversight of
      the government budget, the Pentagon's included.

      Since 1998 we have spent about $5 trillion on defense (in 2008
      dollars), $1.4 trillion more than the 1998 level. About $800 billion
      (57%) of this increase was devoted to the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.
      Ending them would dramatically reduce the demands on the Pentagon. The
      remaining $600 billion (43%) are additions to baseline spending. There
      is much in that figure that deserves closer scrutiny.

      For example we are currently adding nearly 100,000 troops to the Army
      and Marine Corps. These two services have suffered due to the long
      occupation of Iraq. But the increase is designed to be permanent. And
      this part of the plan begs fundamental questions: What have we learned
      from our Iraq experience? Is long-term, large-scale military
      occupation of a foreign country a worthwhile or even practical road to
      greater security?

      Apart from our current wars, the United States maintains a very large
      military presence abroad. Even in peacetime we keep more than 200,000
      personnel on foreign soil and 30,000 sailors on more than 100 deployed
      ships and submarines. No other nation does remotely as much. And we
      are planning to do more - with the recent addition of a new regional
      military command covering Africa. Is this the best, most
      cost-effective way to influence world events? Or might more be done at
      less cost and more effectively through the State Department and
      through regional and global institutions?

      Finally, the Pentagon hopes to renovate US nuclear capabilities,
      proceed with national missile defense efforts, and explore the
      potentials of anti-satellite and space-based weapons. But these
      efforts are plagued by questions about their effects on international
      stability and on arms control, and about their feasibility and
      reliability. In the case of nuclear weapons, perhaps the best course
      is to retire much of our stockpile in tandem with reductions by other
      nuclear powers.

      Any adjustment in national security planning is bound to be
      controversial - and it should be. But we can no longer afford to shy
      away from that controversy. Our current circumstance demands that we
      enter into a broad and deep discussion about national strategic
      priorities, including security priorities. And this necessarily
      entails looking behind the curtain that shields the defense budget
      from more serious scrutiny.

      -- Originally syndicated by Minuteman Media and published on 08 January
      2009 by CommonDreams.org - http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/08-0

      Also appeared on CommonDreams –
      http://www.commondreams.org/view/2009/01/08-0

      and

      OpEdNews -
      http://www.opednews.com/articles/It-s-Time-To-Scrutinize-Th-by-Charles-Knight-090108-820.html
      ___________

      "Meeting the Enemy with Serious Talks of Extraordinary Scope"

      Consider this scenario. The president's national security advisor has
      flown off to a distant capital to meet with the supreme leader of an
      enemy state. After reassuring his host that the U.S. does not seek
      permanent bases, the U.S. envoy says:

      "So that the mere fact that we are sitting in this room changes the
      objective basis of the original intervention.... For us who inherited
      the war our problem has been how to liquidate it in a way that does
      not affect our entire international position..."

      "We have attempted to separate the military outcome from the political
      outcome so that we can disengage from the area and permit the local
      forces to shape their future."

      No, those are not the words of James Jones, President Obama's national
      security adviser, meeting with President Ahmadinejad of Iran. Rather,
      equally improbably, those are the words of Henry Kissinger meeting
      with Zhou Enlai in June of 1972 ( transcript at the National Security
      Archive -
      http://www.gwu.edu/~nsarchiv/NSAEBB/NSAEBB193/HAK%206-20-72.pdf )

      Although the term "rogue state" had not yet been invented in 1972,
      "Red China" had been the object of fear-mongering in the American
      press since the Korean War and was, if anything, more of a pariah
      nation than Iran is thirty-seven years later. Few Americans at the
      time could quite imagine the President's chief national security
      adviser sitting down for a heart to heart talk with the leadership of
      such a state.

      But in 1972 Kissinger was making his second trip for secret talks with
      the Red Chinese leadership. Thirty-seven years later, when the U.S.
      once again has its troops seemingly stuck in an unending conflict in a
      distance land, the transcripts of that meeting with Zhou Enlai make
      for fascinating and instructive reading.

      Kissinger's visit to Beijing shows us the wide and daring scope of
      diplomacy that may be pursued in service of ending an unfortunate war.

      What is remarkable is how much Henry Kissinger, representing the most
      powerful nation on earth, concedes to the Chinese in an effort to gain
      their help in getting the North Vietnamese to be more responsive
      negotiators. He distances himself from the harsh statements directed
      at the Chinese by the Johnson administration. He states directly that
      the U.S. can live with a communist Vietnam, insisting only that the
      U.S. can not be expected to overthrow its sponsored allies in the
      south. He clarifies for Zhou that the U.S. expects to withdraw all of
      its troops from Vietnam and leave no bases behind. Rather directly he
      is asking the Chinese to persuade the North Vietnamese to allow the
      U.S. to leave Vietnam with modicum of dignity and plausible denial
      that they are abandoning an ally.

      The US exit from Iraq can be less demanding. The Iranians look rather
      favorably on the current Iraqi government and probably would object to
      our abandoning it. What we need from the Iranians is their help in
      persuading the Shia-dominated Iraqi government to make peace and share
      proportionate power with the Sunni minority which will only happen in
      the context of regional rapprochement of Iraq's neighbors including
      Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Syria, and Turkey. Iranian cooperation is
      essential to making this possible.

      What will the Iranians want? Much like the Chinese they will insist
      on an end to sanctions and a commitment for diplomatic recognition and
      normalization. What about their nuclear program? Much like the
      arrangement made thirty-seven years ago regarding the status of
      Taiwan, the US will need to "agree to disagree" and accept the
      ambiguous meaning of Iranian nuclear development with a silent
      understanding that Iran will not weaponize its knowledge and materials.

      Many in the US will argue that the Iranian government does not deserve
      such treatment, but it is likely that such is the price of Middle East
      stability and peace after Bush's strategic blunder with the Iraq war.

      This commentary is not an exercise in drawing analogies between the
      particularities of Iraq and Vietnam. Nor is it principally about
      similarities in the strategic context. Rather it invites us to
      imagine President Obama's Assistant for National Security Affairs or
      Secretary of State sitting down for serious talks of extraordinary
      scope with one or more of the leaders of present day 'enemy' nations
      in the Middle East.

      I am reminded that there was extraordinary suffering in store for the
      people of Vietnam and Cambodia (and, for that matter, U.S. soldiers
      and their families) for years after the Kissinger-Zhou talks took
      place. I hope we have the will and imagination for talks in Iran and
      the surrounding region that will yield better outcomes for the people
      of the region.

      Originally published on OpEdNews –
      http://www.opednews.com/articles/Meeting-the-enemy-with-ser-by-Charles-Knight-090105-777.html
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