Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Memo to 'Planet Panetta' from Planet Earth

While Defense Secretary Leon Panetta moans about possible cuts in defense spending, I find myself cheering.

Are we living in the same country? On the same planet?

Here is Panetta as reported in today’s Oregonian (which didn’t report the view from my “planet”)

Panetta “warned” the deeper defense cuts being considered by the Congressional "Super Committee" would:

• Leave the military with the smallest ground force since 1940. (Last time I checked, World War II was over. Likewise the Cold War.)

• Force the military to rethink its strategy. (How are you liking the current one?)

• "Affect" the military’s ability to “support” the war in Afghanistan. (Exactly!)

• Lead to a fleet of fewer than 230 ships. (Who’s complaining except the Navy and the defense contractors?)

• Cut back, delay or end weapons programs such as the Joint Strike Fighter, the "next-generation" Ballistic missile submarine, new Army helicopters and missile defense. (The military-industrial complex at the trough. Orwellian alert: Note the inevitability inherent in the term "next-generation.").

Panetta’s comments in a letter to two senior Republican senators (John McCain and Lindsey Graham) were larded with references to the cuts’ resulting in “substantial risks.” (Ask wounded veterans and the families of the dead — civilian and military alike — about the risks of our present “strategy.”)

Unfortunately, the story didn’t list some other facts which can be found HERE on the Friends Committee for National Legislation web site. They describe a world far different from Panetta’s.

Here are just four (FCNL's annotated and sourced site cites ten).

• The U.S. military budget accounts for 46.5 percent of global military spending.

• U.S. presence in the world includes hundreds of military bases in Europe – particularly in Germany. (See reference to the end of World War II and the Cold War above)

• Military contracts are not job-creation engines. Military dollars spent in a state yield the least number of jobs, compared to investments in health, education, transportation, and even tax cuts.

• The unaudited Pentagon budget has a history of cost overruns -- $300 billion above what Congress authorized for various weapons systems in the last five years.

Which world do YOU live in?

P.S. To put this in a political context, the last time I checked, Leon Panetta took his orders from one Barack Obama. And which planet does HE live on?

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