Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has turned up the heat on Congress warning that looming automatic budget cuts of $600 billion or more over the next decade would undermine national security and set off a financial chain reaction from the Pentagon, to the battlefields of Afghanistan, to civilian assembly lines.
"The impacts of these cuts would be devastating for the department," Panetta told the two most influential U.S. government military hawks, Sens. John McCain, R-Arizona, and Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina in a recent letter, saying they would trigger 23% across-the-board reductions and a halt to many new projects.
"It's a ship without sailors. It's a brigade without bullets. It's an air wing without enough trained pilots. It's a paper tiger, an Army of barracks, buildings and bombs without enough trained soldiers able to accomplish the mission," Panetta whined pitifully at a recent news conference, implying it would lead to a military with a shell but no core.
"It's a force that suffers low morale, poor readiness and is unable to keep up with potential adversaries. In effect, it invites aggression," he insisted. The reductions would "generate significant operational risks: delay response time to crises, conflicts, and disasters; severely limits our ability to be forward deployed and engaged around the world; and assumes unacceptable risk in future combat operations," Panetta warned.
"The consequence of a sequester on the Defense Department would set off a swift decline of the United States as the world's leading military power. We are staunchly opposed to this draconian action," the senators responded in a joint statement. "This is not an outcome that we can live with, and it is certainly not one that we should impose on ourselves. The sequester is a threat to the national security interests of the United States, and it should not be allowed to occur."
Gee, the situation sounds terribly dire, doesn’t it? If we can’t stop spending hundreds of billions of taxpayer dollars every year on new military stuff and new military adventures which would ultimately bankrupt the country, we’ll turn into a paper tiger nation with no claws or teeth. Oh, dear!
But wait a minute. President Obama just declared an end to the war in Iraq and brought home most of the troops. That ought to save us a ton of money in the future, right? That should help ease the pain of the looming defense cuts, right? We won’t have to spend so much money in the Middle East cesspool any more, right?
Wrong! The Obama administration was planning all along to bolster its military presence in the Gulf after pulling out its remaining troops from Iraq because U.S. military officers and diplomats are worried that the withdrawal could bring instability to the region.
So Washington has been negotiating to maintain a combat presence on the ground in Kuwait and is considering deploying more warships in the area. The U.S. also wants to expand its military ties with the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) -- Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, Bahrain, Qatar, the United Arab Emirates and Oman.
We’re “ending the war” in Iraq and pulling out the troops so they can stay scattered all over the Middle East waiting around for another conflict which is sure to start. Bottom line -- we’re not going to save a nickel.
Moreover, the U.S. is planning on staying in Afghanistan indefinitely and far into the future. A long-term security pact is in the works.
An Afghan national assembly has endorsed President Hamid Karzai's decision to negotiate a long term military pact with the U.S. with conditions, including an end to unpopular night raids by military forces searching for insurgents.
The U.S. calls it a “Strategic Partnership Document.” As part of a future deal, both sides visualize a force of several thousand, which would train Afghan forces and help with counter terrorism operations. The Afghans want a strong and binding agreement to govern the presence of American forces in the country after 2014.
Washington insists it is not seeking a "permanent" military presence in Afghanistan, saying instead it is looking to help Afghan security forces with intelligence sharing, air power and logistics beyond 2014.
"If they want military bases, we will allow them, it is in our benefit, money will come to us and our forces will be trained," said Karzai. "Regarding the strategic partnership with the United States, everyone said it is a must for the Afghans. It is the only way for Afghanistan to survive," said Mahmoud Karzai, the president's brother.
Karzai also reassured Afghanistan's neighbors, many of whom are concerned about a long-term US influence in the region, that any strategic partnership deal would not hamper relations with them. "Afghanistan sees its national interest in having good relations with neighbors and want our independence to have good relations with neighbors such as China, Russia and others."
But the average poppy pickin’ Afghan peasant doesn’t want us in their country any more than the average American peon wants us there. More than 1,000 university students, for example, blocked a main highway in eastern Afghanistan in protest of the pact to keep thousands of U.S. troops in Afghanistan past 2014.
"Death to America! Death to Karzai!" they shouted. They won’t accept any partnership with the United States.
The Taliban predictably condemned the pact calling its supporters traitors and puppets of the Afghan government. NATO and U.S. forces are occupiers in the eyes of the Taliban.
You see, the Karzai puppet government needs us to keep it in power. They want our continuing supply of cash. They want us to protect them while they do business with our rivals, Iran, China, Pakistan, Russia, and the rest of the motley lot. They want us to pay for it all while our rivals pay nothing.
It’s a sweet deal for Afghanistan and everyone else in the region who hate our imperialistic guts -- a sour pill for the American taxpayers – we get nothing out of the deal.
If the U.S. simply packed up and got out of the Middle East altogether as we should, leaving the myriad bands of savages there to fend for themselves; if we only put ourselves back where we were before George W. Bush caused this mess, our military financial problems would be solved in a heartbeat.
Leon Panetta and the rest of us would no longer have to suffer any military angst.