Look Out, Obama Seems to Be Planning for a Lot More War
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There's more war in America's future -- a great deal more, judging by the Barack Obama administration's reports, pronouncements and actions in recent months.
These documents and deeds include the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR), the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Ballistic Missile Defense Report, the nuclear security summit in New York and the May 3-28 United Nations nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, as well as the continuing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the 2011 Pentagon war budget request.
The United States government presides as a military colossus of unrivaled dimension, but the QDR, which was published in February, suggests Washington views America as being constantly under the threat of attack from a multitude of fearsome forces bent on its destruction. As such, trillions more dollars must be invested in present and future wars -- ostensibly to protect the besieged homeland.
The NPR says the long-range U.S. goal is a "nuclear-free" world, but despite token reductions in its arsenal of such weapons, the Pentagon is strengthening its nuclear force and bolstering it with a devastating "conventional deterrent" intended to strike any target in the world within one hour. In addition this document, published in April, retains "hair-trigger" nuclear launch readiness, refuses to declare its nuclear force is for deterrence only (suggesting offensive use) and for the first time authorizes a nuclear attack, if necessary, on a non-nuclear state (Iran).
Meanwhile, Obama is vigorously expanding the George W Bush administration's wars, and enhancing and deploying America's unparalleled military power.
The Obama administration's one positive achievement in terms of militarism and war was the April 9 signing in Prague of the new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia that reduces deployed strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads each. It was a step forward, but all agree it was extremely modest, and it does not even faintly diminish the danger of nuclear war.
The QDR is a 128-page Defense Department report mandated by Congress to be compiled every four years to put forward a 20-year projection of U.S. military planning. A 20-member civilian panel, selected by the Pentagon and congress, analyzes the document and suggests changes in order to provide an "independent" perspective. Eleven of the members, including the panel’s co-chairmen -- former defense secretary William Perry and former national security adviser Stephen Hadley -- are employed by the defense industry.
Although the Pentagon is working on preparations for a possible World War III and beyond, the new report is largely focused on the relatively near future and only generalizes about the longer term. Of the QDR's many priorities three stand out.
• The first priority is to "prevail in today's wars" in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and wherever else Washington's post-9/11 military intrusions penetrate in coming years. Introducing the report February 1, Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued this significant statement: "Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars in progress." The "wars to come" were not identified. Further, the QDR states that military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan
is "only the first step toward achieving our strategic objectives."
• Second, while in the past the US concentrated on the ability to fight two big wars simultaneously, the QDR suggests that's not enough. Now, the Obama administration posits the "need for a robust force capable of protecting US interests against a multiplicity of threats, including two capable nation-state aggressors."
Now it's two-plus wars -- the plus being the obligation to "conduct large-scale counter-insurgency, stability and counter-terrorism operations in a wide range of environments," mainly in small, poor countries like Afghanistan. Other "plus" targets include "non-state actors" such as al-Qaeda, "failed states" such as Somali, and medium-size but well-defended states that do not bend the knee to Uncle Sam, such as Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and some day perhaps Venezuela.