Thursday, July 15, 2010

U.S. congressmen & senator want to cut massive U.S. military spending

This year, the U.S. passed the $13 trillion mark in national debt. To be precise, the amount was $13,190,583,000 at 10:20 PM (EST) on July 14, according to the US Debt Foreign countries, mostly China, hold over $4 trillion of that amount.

Today Michael Lujan Bevacqua of No Rest for the Awake posted an insightful blog, "The conversation people aren't having," questioning the affordability of U.S. massive overseas military expansion plans. An issue on the minds of many people who realize an ever-expanding, costly global military combined with ever-expanding sovereign debt is unsustainable.

Michael cited a recent widely-referenced op-ed, "Why We Must Reduce Military Spending," by Reps. Barney Frank (Democrat, Massachusetts) and Ron Paul (Libertarian, Texas) on the same subject.

Rep. Frank specifically targets the 15,000 Marines still stationed on Okinawa, calling them “a hangover from a war that ended 65 years ago." Rep. Frank asked how 15,000 Marines in Okinawa could possibly deter the over 1 million strong army of North Korea in the extremely unlikely case of a North Korean land invasion in Japan. For another matter, "deterrence" arguments don't make any sense given the fact that most of the Marines stationed there are deployed to Afghanistan or Iraq.

Now Senator Kay Bailey Hutchinson is joining the call for sustainable military spending.

The Army Times reports the Republican from Texas wants to cut back on all overseas military spending, especially new construction that benefits foreign contractors. Rick Maze's article, "Key Republican Senator attacks money for Guam military buildup" details Hutchinson's examination of costly overseas construction in Guam, Korea, and Europe:
“We are looking at $1 billion in foreign construction that we do not need,” said Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison of Texas, ranking Republican on the Senate appropriations subcommittee responsible for military construction funding.

Hutchison cited decisions to spend money in Europe, Korea and Guam, and vowed to try to get that money stripped from the construction budget...

At the end of the Cold War, Hutchison said, the U.S. military adopted a basing strategy that favored putting U.S. troops and their families on domestic bases rather than overseas.

Construction projects have been approved by Congress to achieve that goal, she said.

“We have invested more than $14 billion to build housing, training and deployment capabilities at major military installations, and we have proved we can best train and deploy from the United States,” she said.

In the 2011 budget, Hutchison said the Defense Department is asking for “expensive and in some cases duplicative” construction projects that often are more costly than building in the U.S. and create construction jobs overseas rather than at home.”

Read the rest here.
View a video and read the full text of Senator Hutchison's speech at the Texas Insider. Her speech is not simply rhetorical posturing, but instead a comprehensive and clear analysis of whether this military expansion is necessary and effective.

Overseas military bases transfers US taxpayer money to foreign contractors. In the case of Guam, one of the major proposed costs was the construction of temporary housing and additional infrastructure for an influx of thousands foreign workers on the tiny island (half the size of Okinawa, which is the size of Rhode Island).

In most situations, overseas U.S. military bases are unpopular and resented by local populations, who suffer from military noise, environmental pollution and crime, as well as the destruction of beloved historic, cultural, and environmental resources in the construction of the bases. The result: decades of diplomatic tensions between the U.S. and "host" countries and growing widespread anti-Americanism in nations that have historically been U.S. allies.

(May 28 TTT blog: "Can the indebted US & Japan afford more military spending?")

A flurry of recent articles on this topic from a diverse range of perspectives...

Frida Berrigan's "A Way Forward: Reexamining the Pentagon's Spending Habits" at HuffPost

Lawrence P. Farrell's "‘Perfect Storm’ for Defense Is Here, For Real This Time" at National Defense Magazine.

Joe Parko's "WE THE PEOPLE: It’s time to trim our military budget" at the Crossville Chronicle (Tennessee)

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