War is Peace
'Pacification' of Europe is threat to security, US tells Nato
Obama administration accused Europe's leaders of endangering peace because of reluctance to foot bill for adequate defence.
The Obama administration accused Europe's leaders of endangering peace today because of their growing pacifism and reluctance to foot the bill for adequate defence.
In a withering attack on what Washington sees as European complacency in the face of new security threats, Robert Gates, the US defence secretary, demanded root-and-branch reform of the transatlantic alliance, voiced exasperation with Nato bureaucracy and said it was becoming increasingly difficult for the US and Europe "to operate and fight together".
Gates told a Washington meeting of Nato officials and security experts "the pacification of Europe" had gone too far.
"The demilitarisation of Europe, where large swaths of the general public and political class are averse to military force and the risks that go with it, has gone from a blessing in the 20th century to an impediment to achieving real security and lasting peace in the 21st," he said. "Not only can real or perceived weakness be a temptation to miscalculation and aggression, but … the resulting funding and capability shortfalls make it difficult to operate and fight together to confront shared threats."
The US secretary of state, Hillary Clinton, joined in what was a concerted warning to the Europeans, calling for an "honest discussion" of European defence spending and complaining that the alliance was at risk of turning into a talking shop.
Gates's criticism came days after the Dutch government collapsed over a dispute about Afghanistan and announced it would start withdrawing some 2,000 troops from August. The pull-out has spurred worries that other Europeans could follow suit.
Away from the immediate priorities of the Afghan war, Gates indicated that the Nato and European predicaments were "part of a larger cultural and political trend affecting the alliance … [which] faces very serious, long-term, systemic problems".
While the Obama administration has just asked Congress for a defence budget of more than $700bn (£454bn) – almost 5% of GDP – for next year, Gates complained that only four of the 26 Nato allies in Europe spent more than 2% of GDP on defence. A recent meeting of Nato ministers in Istanbul heard that the alliance had a €640m (£561m) hole in its budget for this year.
Gates voiced impatience with years of unredeemed European pledges to procure more cargo aircraft and helicopters. "Their absence is directly impacting operations in Afghanistan ... Nato needs serious, far-reaching, and immediate reforms to address a crisis that has been years in the making," he said.
The 28 Nato countries are embroiled in an attempt to come up with a new mission statement, and there are divisions both transatlantic and within Europe over the wording. The warnings from Washington appeared to be an attempt to dictate the key components of the new doctrine.
Money Isn’t Money When It’s Spent On Defense
It’s not a conspiracy, nor is bias. It’s more a case of a holistic condition so comprehensive that the mind, both personal and collective, is unable to wrap itself around any sort alternative. Recently, the lead story in “The New York Times” brought this home.
The ominous head line warned, “Party Gridlock Feeds New Fear Of A Debt Crisis: A Rising Fiscal Alarm.” (No Shit, Dick Tracy.) The second paragraph of the story cast a spotlight on our oligarchs’ mindset. The paragraph read:
“After decades of warnings that budgetary profligacy, escalating healthcare costs and an aging population would lead to a day of reckoning, economists and the nation’s foreign creditors say that moment is approaching faster than expected, hastened by a deep recession that cost trillions of dollars in lost tax revenues and higher spending for safety net programs.”
Notice what isn’t mentioned as a major contributor to our deficit, such as a war in Afghanistan that is costing taxpayers a cool $57,000 per minute, or a trillion-dollar-a-year defense budget.
I guess these don’t exist. They are phantom wisps floating around somewhere overseas, well out of the public’s view.
If Napoleon’s army ran on its stomach, ours runs on tires. Now the Pentagon is telling Congress that gasoline in Afghanistan costs our military $400 a gallon. That is what the Pentagon calls the “fully burdened cost of fuel” once all the expenses of moving fuel in and around a country that is without either infrastructures or gas stations.
Of course there are some locations so isolated that fuel has to be airlifted in giant bladders carried by helicopter. In that case, the fully burdened cost of gasoline jumps to $1000 per gallon. Factor in the fact that the large trucks used to haul tanks and Bradley Fighting Vehicles get seven miles to the gallon and you’re looking at one hell gasoline bill.
All of this assumes that the trucks carrying fuel escape roadside bombs and make it to their destinations. In June of 2008, 44 trucks carrying 220,000 of gasoline were lost to attacks while trying to deliver fuel to Bagram Air Field. That’s $88 million of gasoline up in flames. You could bail out a lot of underwater home owners with that kind of money.
Military sources call Afghanistan a “logistical nightmare.” It is said that in discussions of military affairs, amateurs focus on tactics while professions sweat logistics. I guess the amateurs planned Obama’s surge.
Obama plans to form a panel to “find answers” to our nation’s looming fiscal crisis. And I fear that this panel will reek of a prejudice for a neoliberal Washington Consensus as a solution that would include slashing social programs and privatizing as many government programs as possible.
Just when you thought Social Security “reform” was dead…
We may rest assured that no politician will have the courage to even suggest that a good place for some vigorous deficit reductions would be the endless corridors of the Pentagon. This simply wouldn’t do.
Besides, reducing defense spending does nothing for Wall Street while privatizing Social Security does much. And we all know whose going to be wielding the scalpel when it comes time to slash expenses.
Case Wagenvoord blogs at http://belacquajones.blogspot.com and welcomes comments at Wagenvoord@msn.com.