Show Details for February 24th, 2008

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This week’s guest
WILLIAM HARTUNG on redefining American security; also, examining US military spending
With the primary campaigns having barreled into Texas and three other states, what vital issues are still going unaddressed? Monitor co-host Pokey Anderson welcomes our guest tonight, military spending expert WILLIAM HARTUNG.

Both Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have committed themselves to increasing the size of the armed forces by tens of thousands of troops. Republicans John McCain and Mike Huckabee are looking to spend even more than their Democratic counterparts.

In his recent article, “Avoiding the Toughness Trap,” Bill Hartung writes:

A progressive defense policy must begin with a fundamental redefinition of what constitutes security. Security should involve protection against all threats to human life, whether they emanate from terrorism, the spread of nuclear weapons, environmental degradation, outbreaks of disease or entrenched poverty and hunger. This means that many of the most dangerous threats we face are not amenable to military solutions.

[T]he door is open for a thoroughgoing debate on the future of US security policy that goes beyond the urgent question of how to get out of Iraq. So far, mainstream Democrats have failed to seize this historic moment. The political underpinning of this failure of imagination comes from Democratic consultants, pollsters and think tanks, who argue that the party’s candidates need to project an image of toughness to overcome the “security gap” that has existed in public perceptions of Republicans versus Democrats since the end of the Vietnam War. … Rather than projecting a posture of toughness, what is needed is an effective plan for defending the United States and its allies.

So, we’ll look at redefining security. And, we’ll also utilize Bill’s expertise on the US military budget, and look at the new Bush spending proposal, which includes an increase for next year of 5% for ongoing, non-war-related military expenditures while cutting domestic programs.
According to Chalmers Johnson, “The Department of Defense’s planned expenditures for fiscal year 2008 are larger than all other nations’ military budgets combined. The supplementary budget to pay for the current wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, not part of the official defense budget, is itself larger than the combined military budgets of Russia and China.” Aside from ongoing military expenses, the Iraq war alone has thus far cost $522 billion, calculates the National Priorities Project.

Bill Hartung is the director of the Arms and Security Initiative at the New America Foundation. He is the author of How Much Are You Making on the War Daddy?–A Quick and Dirty Guide to War Profiteering in the Bush Administration (Nation Books). He was also a contributor to Terrornomics (Ashgate Press). His articles on the arms trade and the economics of defense spending have appeared in The New York Times, Newsday, The Nation, the Christian Science Monitor, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, World Policy Journal and numerous other publications.

Avoiding the Toughness Trap
by William D. Hartung
November 19, 2007 issue
The Nation
What Do the Pentagon’s Numbers Really Mean?
by Winslow Wheeler of the Straus Military Reform Project
Center for Defense Information.
February 4, 2008
The Dubious Priorities of the President’s FY 2009 Budget
By Robert Greenstein, James R. Horney, and Richard Kogan
February 7, 2008
Center on Budget and Policy Priorities

QUOTE from the article just above:

“The top 1 percent of households — those with incomes exceeding $450,000 a year — would receive more than $1 trillion in tax cuts over the next ten years [in the new Bush budget].

Households with annual incomes over $1 million would get an even larger tax cut: more than $150,000 a year, on average. This group’s … combined tax cuts would exceed the entire amount that the federal government spends on elementary and secondary education, as well as the entire amount that it devotes to medical care for the nation’s veterans.”

One thought on “Show Details for February 24th, 2008

    Douglas said:
    March 5, 2008 at 5:47 am

    Mark – How about granting immunity to the telecoms on the
    condition that they testify truthfully under oath in an
    invesitgation? This wd a) satisfy those who feel that the
    comapnies were merely trying to be “patriotic” if/when they broke
    the law (the Qwest case suggests that the law was at least
    unclear…) and b) allow Congress to get closer to the (dark)heart of the matter…

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