Once in office, George W. Bush quickly followed up on his presidential
campaign promises to set in motion "an immediate, comprehensive
review of our military" and to give the Secretary of Defense
"a broad mandate to challenge the status quo." Beginning
in February, media stories began to report that Secretary of Defense
Donald Rumsfeld had begun this new broad review of the military.
Rumsfeld's review will bring significant changes in policy. U.S.
military strategy since 1993 has revolved around maintaining the
capacity to simultaneously fight two major wars. But according
to Rumsfeld, the U.S. military has been "living a lie,"
with the two-war strategy stretching the military thin and preventing
needed investment in equipment and strategy to help wage the wars
of the future. This strategy has, he says, "brought us to
a point where we don't have the forces to do it. It has brought
us to a point where, because of the efforts to do it, we have
slighted modernization and took a prolonged procurement holiday;
we have slighted, in my view, transformation; and we have slighted
things that affect the quality of our force."
What Rumsfeld seemingly proposes is a less ambitious role for
the armed forces while not significantly cutting back on troops,
programs and equipment. This approach is designed to keep everyone
except the anti-militarists happy. It will ensure less risk to
the soldier on the ground, at sea and in the air given the aversion
of the U.S. public to seeing its men and women in uniform coming
home in body bags, yet keep military spending at high levels.
Under Rumsfeld's proposed new strategy, the U.S. military would
be required to concurrently carry out four broad missions: defend
United States territory; prevent aggressors from taking hostile
action by making them afraid of a response from U.S. forces in
Europe, the Middle East, southwest Asia, northeast Asia and along
the East Asian rim; "win decisively" in one major conflict;
and conduct "small-scale contingencies of limited duration
in other areas of the world."
On the surface, shifting away from the two-war strategy would
seem to imply a smaller military, with potentially significant
savings through personnel cuts, thus freeing up funds to modernize
the armed forces. Don't hold your breath long on this one. Maintaining
the capacity to deter hostile actions by threat of U.S. military
power will certainly mean continuing to keep troops stationed
overseas at current levels. And as more specific implementation
plans begin to emerge, Pentagon officials are pointing out that
a sizable increase in forces might be required because the military
would need to prepare for a larger number of missions and "holding
actions" in addition to the one major regional war.
And while you might scratch your head at the notion of defending
the U.S. homeland and ask why Canada or Mexico would want to invade
us, the inclusion of territorial defense as one of four top capabilities
has serious implications. First and foremost, it is a justification
for administration plans for a missile defense system and dangerous
weapons in space. The choice of Air Force General Richard Myers,
an expert in computer and space warfare, as Chairman of the Joint
Chiefs of Staff further demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a
ballistic missile defense system. If confirmed by the Senate in
September, Myers will be the first non-Army general in over a
decade to hold the military's top position. Myers will play a
major role in U.S. national security planning and will implement
Bush's plan to overhaul the military and prepare it for what the
Bush administration perceives as "fast-emerging high-tech
threats." Secondly, inclusion of homeland defense as a top
priority officially gives the military domestic duties in battling
terrorism, especially in the case of nuclear, biological or chemical
weapons. Giving the military this kind of domestic power has dangerous
ramifications for our civil liberties.
While no surprise to those of us opposed to militarism, a recent
Washington Post article, "Empire or Not?", points
out that maintaining U.S. power worldwide is the unspoken basis
of U.S. strategy, with the U.S. actually expanding its global
military presence since the end of the Cold War. Rumsfeld's "new"
strategy will perpetuate, augment and extend U.S. hegemony.
And what would be needed to transform the U.S. military to meet
Rumsfeld's requirements? Apparently more money. The defense budget
proposal now before Congress for fiscal year 2002 would increase
defense spending by $18.4 billion above an initial "blueprint"
submitted in February and is approximately $33 billion over current
defense spending. This represents the largest proposed increase
in military spending since the collapse of the Soviet Union and
the end of the Cold War. The Center for Defense Information points
out that the vast U.S. military advantage to maintain a global
presence and superiority does not come cheaply:
- At $343 billion, the U.S. military budget request for FY’02
is more than six times larger than that of Russia,
the second largest spender.
- It is more than 23 times as large as the combined
spending of the seven countries traditionally identified by
the Pentagon as our most likely adversaries (Cuba, Iran, Iraq,
Libya, North Korea, Sudan and Syria).
- It is more than the combined spending of the next
- The United States and its close allies spend more
than the rest of the world combined, accounting for
roughly two-thirds of all military spending. Together they
spend over 38 times more than the seven "rogue"
- The seven potential "enemies" plus Russia and
China together spend $116 billion, roughly one-third (34%)
of the U.S. military budget.
- Global military spending has declined from $1.2 trillion
in 1985 to $809 billion in 1999. During that time the U.S.
share of total military spending rose from 31% to 36% in fiscal
None of us should be surprised at the Bush administration's rush
to put its mark on U.S. strategy. Expanding U.S. global power
in multiple ways, including spending more on the military, was
to be expected from them. The challenge to us as anti-militarists
is to expand our efforts to educate the public on what is really
happening in this country and what the administration's policies
really mean as opposed to what they say they are doing.
Information sources: Albuquerque Journal, 2001, "Defense
Aims for Orbit"; The Associated Press, May 23, 2001, "Rumsfeld
Works on Defense Strategy," Robert Burns; Center for Defense
Information Web site, "The 2001 Quadrennial Defense Review:
Here We Go Again -- or Do We?", "Coming Clean on the
2001 Quadrennial Defense Review," "Fiscal Year 2002
Budget," "Whither the Next National Military Strategy,"
and "World Military Expenditures" (www.cdi.org); Foreign
Affairs, May/June 2001, "The New Geography of Conflict,"
Michael Clare; Los Angeles Times, August 18, 2001, "Rumsfeld
Blasts 2-War Strategy"; The New Yorker, July 16, 2001,
"Dreaming About War: Someone in the Pentagon is staging a
defense revolution and it’s not the generals," Nicholas Lemon;
Reuters, August 24, 2001, "Bush Names Hi-Tech Arms Expert
New Military Chief," Patricia Wilson; Washington Post,
August 21, 2001, "Empire or Not? A Quiet Debate over U.S.
Role," Thomas E. Ricks.
This article is from Draft NOtices, the newsletter
of the Committee Opposed to Militarism and the Draft (www.comdsd.org).