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US Is Increasing Its Hegemony As the "Global War Gladiator" Under Obama

What to watch for in 2010 from the country that spends more on war than the next 25 combined.

According to the Chinese calendar, 2010 is the Year of the Tiger.  We don’t name our years, but if we did, this one might prospectively be called the Year of the Assassin.

We, of course, think of ourselves as something like the peaceable kingdom.  After all, the shock of September 11, 2001 was that “war” came to “the homeland,” a mighty blow delivered against the very symbols of our economic, military, and -- had Flight 93 not gone down in a field in Pennsylvania -- political power.   

Since that day, however, war has been a stranger in our land.  With the rarest of exceptions, like Army psychiatrist Major Nidal Hasan’s massacre at Fort Hood, Texas, this country has remained a world without war or any kind of mobilization for war.  No other major terrorist attacks, not even victory gardens, scrap-metal collecting, or rationing.  And certainly no war tax to pay for our post-9/11 trillion-dollar “expeditionary forces” sent into battle abroad.  Had we the foresight to name them, the last few years domestically might have reflected a different kind of carnage -- 2006, the Year of the Subprime Mortgage; 2007, the Year of the Bonus; 2008, the Year of the Meltdown; 2009, the Year of the Bailout.  And perhaps some would want to label 2010, prematurely or not, the Year of Recovery. 

Although our country delivers war regularly to distant lands in the name of our “safety,” we don’t really consider ourselves  at war (despite the endless talk of “supporting our troops”), and the money that has simply poured into Pentagon coffers, and then into weaponry and conflicts is, with rare exceptions, never linked to economic distress in this country.  And yet, if we are no nation of warriors, from the point of view of the rest of the world we are certainly the planet’s foremost war-makers.  If money talks, then war may be what we care most about as a society and fund above all else, with the least possible discussion or debate. 

In fact,  according to military expert William Hartung, the Pentagon budget has risen in every year of the new century, an unprecedented run in our history.  We  dominate the global arms trade, monopolizing  almost 70% of the arms business in 2008, with Italy coming in a vanishingly distant second.  We put more money into the funding of war, our armed forces, and the weaponry of war  than the next 25 countries combined (and that’s without even including Iraq and Afghan war costs).  We  garrison the planet in a way no empire or nation in history has ever done.  And we plan for the future, for “the next war” -- on the ground, on the seas, and in space -- in a way that is surely unique.  If our two major wars of the twenty-first century in Iraq and Afghanistan are any measure, we also get less bang for our buck than any nation in recent history. 

So, let’s pause a moment as the New Year begins and take stock of ourselves as what we truly are:  the preeminent war-making machine on planet Earth.  Let’s peer into the future, and consider just what the American way of war might have in store for us in 2010.  Here are 10 questions, the answers to which might offer reasonable hints as to just how much U.S. war efforts are likely to intensify in the Greater Middle East, as well as Central and South Asia, in the year to come.

1. How busted will the largest defense budget in history be in 2010? 

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