Will We Ever Get Military Spending Under Control?
There is a classic scene in Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory where Gene Wilder, seeing yet another obvious disaster unfolding by oblivious children, recites a desultory, dull warning of “Don’t….stop…wait…,” knowing full well a tumbling debacle is about to occur yet again.
Such is my resigned state of mind as I bravely tap forth into the stupefying policy disaster of “defense” spending in the United States. Nothing will change and yet again another horror fiscal show leading to disastrous consequences will pass Congress this year with an unbelievable Defense budget bloat of approximately $560 billion, but duty to country, Party and liberalism propel me forth nonetheless.
It’s an old game to gauge scope in wonk circles but it’s still useful here, lets say USS Carl Vinson, Nimitz class aircraft carrier, steams forth from San Diego with her full air wing deployment. Who on the globe can effectively take her on in a fight?
In all the Americas, only Canada. The entirety of Africa, a vast, huge continent, no one. Asia, Japan and China. Middle East, Israel and Saudi Arabia. For western Eurasia Turkey, Italy, Spain, United Kingdom, France, Germany, Belgium and Russia. In all of the globe only 13 countries have an air force capable of taking on USS Carl Vinson.
In theory, right, operational readiness and the willingness to fight are murky variables, but not a soul on the planet doubts the absolute readiness of American weapons and the officers on the planes willing to sacrifice their lives and equipment to accomplish a mission. Can the Russians respond with that level of commitment and capability? Not even remotely close.1
Should that very unfortunate decision in fact take place to fight USS Carl Vinson be completely assured of at least 50% of your air force and pilots killed and destroyed, air defenses totally crippled, massive air base and infrastructure damage, and a crushing psychological blow to your personnel as they wander around in dazed bewilderment. Decades of precious spending, investment and training, all gone in 12 hours.
USS Carl Vinson would steam back to San Diego, replenishment for a 40% attrition rate already planned, nine other Nimitz class carriers waiting in backup. One of those ships would soon appear and totally annihilate what was left of utter fools who thought they could take on the United States Navy.
Just the Navy air wing of our country, of course, any plans to fight a foreign air force would involve a few chats from the general officers of the Unites States Air Force, yes.
We have roughly an equal number of “smaller” 45,000 ton amphibious assault carriers for the Marine Corps—they have an air wing too, naturally. The Navy has an incredible submarine, surface and supply fleet, and then there’s the United States Army. To say nothing of a vast array of global bases, space assets, and an unbelievable nuclear weapons program.
The United States could not be more militarized, we are fiercely, horrendously, expensively armed. Great harm comes from not using that money productively for our people, and as the wise Digby always reminds us, if you let them build it they’ll use it.
We’re never leaving our half-assed occupation of Afghanistan or Iraq, politicians don’t want to be accused of weakness by bombastic stupid militarists. We are in a huge undeclared drone war in Africa and southwest Asia. What has all this contributed to American security? Not a thing, blowing things up and killing humans rarely works.
My despair at getting out of this is deep, of course the Democratic Party has fully embraced the fiercely militarized solution to security issues, and to my knowledge only one politician consistently declares the need for defense spending cuts, Bernie Sanders.
I truly do not know if it’s worth taking the political risk to propose “defense” spending cuts for the 2016 general, the berserk Republicans and their terrible enablers in the media love war, oh god do they crave the rush and the ratings, Mr. Sanders could easily lose in a terrorist attack environment for being a hippy peacenik. Look at what they did to John Kerry.
If Mr. Sanders were to become President he’d never get “defense” cuts through Congress,2 even with huge Democratic majorities too many American politicians fiercely cling to the politically attractive elements of militarism. Just look at what happened to President Obama, by his own admission now a very good killer.
In fact the only ray of hope in ending American militarism and the attendant 50% cuts in “defense” spending is climate change. We have to and will soon stop burning oil, and blissfully that awful rationale of Middle East security will be gone. Cut the “defense” budget 50% and use the money for renewable energy conversion, may that day soon come to pass.
 The Italians in WWII were infamous for building beautiful, fiercely capable ships they would not fight with, they were too valuable. The United Kingdom shot out their Sidewinder missile supply in a week of fighting for the Falklands war, we quietly replenished upon request.
 It’s a very strange thing but I’m sure the sequestration budget cuts of that heinous Obama budget deal are still in place, I’m not precisely sure but the cuts seem to be targeted at domestic bases and personnel, yet the overall budget and overseas security appropriation continue to be as horribly bloated as ever. President Obama thought this weird evolution could take place, but the Republicans called his bluff.