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Miriam Pemberton
Published: Monday 9 January 2012
“It’s time that we replaced our country’s global military overreach with a posture more deserving of the name ‘defense.’”

Obama’s New Military Strategy Doesn’t Add Up

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President Barack Obama ordered up yet another strategic review last year. This one explicitly aimed at bringing the nation's military posture into line with something we can afford.

In response to that review, his administration forged a plan, unveiled during the first week of the year, which takes a few modest steps in the right direction. The job description for our self-appointed role as world policeman will be trimmed a bit. We won't be patrolling everywhere all the time, but we'll be doing something more like check-ins in places like Latin America and Africa. Some of those U.S. troops that have been guarding Europe since World War II will probably come home. The Army and Marine Corps will shrink modestly. There's a verbal commitment, at least, to share more responsibilities with allies. And we'll cut a few more Cold War weapon systems. That's probably a safe move, now two decades since the Cold War ended.

But we're not stepping down from being the planet's top cop. We're holding onto the idea that we need to maintain a global presence and the ability to "confront and defeat aggression anywhere in the world." And we'll be projecting more power in China's direction.

The glaring question is, in this portrait of a smaller, leaner military, what happened to the idea of saving money? The speech Obama gave when he presented the plan was contradictory on this point. He first referred to necessary reductions in military spending, and then promised that the Pentagon's budget "will still grow, because we have global responsibilities that demand our leadership."

How can he have it both ways? A look at the approximately $523-billion military budget proposal that experts expect him to release after the upcoming State of the Union address provides the answer. That proposed military budget, which excludes the hundreds of billions of dollars Washington spends on nuclear weapons, the wars we're actually fighting, and subsidies for foreign arms sales, would be bigger than last year's. It would be smaller than what the administration had said last year it had in mind for 2013. So Obama has revised his plans to boost military spending. And adjusted for inflation, it's an actual reduction of about four percent.

This confusing presentation is an attempt to placate multiple constituencies at once. To Republicans seeking every opportunity to say Obama is weakening U.S. military forces, and to Democrats still nervous about that charge, he points out that this military budget will exceed the budgets of the next 14 largest militaries put together. To fiscal conservatives, he offers a budget that, in real terms, takes a tiny step in the direction of the $487 billion in military cuts the 2010 debt deal demanded.

But the predictable cries from the Heritage Foundation's James Jay Carafano and other conservatives that Obama is "gutting" U.S. military strength are ridiculous. As the president himself points out, his next Pentagon budget will be larger than it was during most of President George W. Bush's tenure.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta referred to this new strategy as a "historic shift…after a decade of war and large increases in defense spending." A shift worthy of the term "historic," however, would lay out a path to rolling back the past decade's sweeping military expansion.

But the Obama administration has no plans to do that. It's time that we replaced our country's global military overreach with a posture more deserving of the name "defense."

Stir slowly and continuously

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Stir slowly and continuously

Stir slowly and continuously until the mixture of milk and sugar thickens a bit. dumex antireflux None of the studies performed detected any significant difference in the milk of cows which had been treated with the synthetic hormone versus those who had not.

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That's an ingenious way of

That's an ingenious way of tiihnkng about it.

I'm glad to see the posters

I'm glad to see the posters not falling for it.

ALL the candidates (save for Paul) will do what the Global Elite want them to do. Obama's speech set to pit citizens against each other; the double talk works.

Its the medias job to partition information off in such a way that we will stay at each others throats instead of theirs.

This article misses one point, that Obama is not cutting defense spending. He's cutting back on soldiers and spending more on death-planes and war ships:


Give me a break--what is this

Give me a break--what is this bull---- about competeing with cancer funding? Can anybody stick to the subject. He should have cut twice as much from Defense but he wants to be reelected.

It is an election year and

It is an election year and sadly any chance at something approaching truth will be lacking from either side for about another 9 months. Obama is a politician and knows he needs to win the middle to get another four years. We are a divided nation and while I would like Obama (or perhaps someone like him) to promote a bigger, more equitable and compassionate future, either caution or perhaps lack of vision/creativity compels him otherwise. I think there are many things that would bring the middle and left, perhaps even parts of the right together: True energy independence, lifetime education/retaining, even things like welfare reform could be areas that many "work together" types of people would support. This is a different time because we have no obvious enemy to rally against. It is a harder, but also a big opportunity, since we now must face our own true weaknesses and marshal our strengths against them. America must finally grow up.

KirstenL's picture

I think we (those that voted

I think we (those that voted for Obama) can safely say that we were duped. He sold us on what we all wanted and needed to hear. Though really, McCain would have been just as bad or worse.

I agree Miriam, his speech

I agree Miriam, his speech last week about military spending cuts really did sound like serious double talk to me too! The current cast of candidates are all corporate puppets of international oil, energy and pharma interests. Huntsman, a former ambassador to China seems like the only Republican candidate not eager to get into more costly enormous military defense wars, except Ron Paul who seems too isolationist and too rigid and too old to be a good world leader. If we finally end these two major wars why doesn't our entire military budget go back down a great deal? These huge extra war time expenses were never included in the regular Pentagon appropriation budget process, they were voted in by separate additional war bills by congress and approved by Bush and now Obama, to protect our troops overseas. Many citizens want no more nuclear weapons or smart drone bombs, yet they continue to develop them and build new plants to produce them. Who can we vote for? Even Obama's failure to invest our tax money in a real profitable solar energy company for political gain seems like it might have had a hidden agenda to effectively slow down our national transition to renewable energy sources, he's still considering building more nuclear power plants too. The US military industrial complex rules the world with its threat of nuclear weapons to prevent other countries from getting nuclear energy and protect international mega-corporate interests. It does not want to give up its absolute power to any civilian authority or public policy advocates who say we need to invest in national domestic programs to create clean industrial and manufacturing jobs at home, and educate and care for the health of our own citizens. I believe we do not have a government for the people, by the people, because of the huge unlimited national media marketing spending of big greedy profit making corporate investment interests thanks to the Supreme court ruling in their favor in "Citizens United". The true hidden terrorist cells are sleeper cancer cells hiding in our own bodies. I see more and more good people dying from cancer every day in this country than could possibly die from any real foreign terrorist threat. GBYAY Anne Breen

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