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27 April 2011

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John Kirkman

And good riddance too.
For all the billions $$$ spent on “intelligence” it is obvious we have very little, and history writ by “surprise!!” is fraught with death to fools, which, it would seem, is us. I’m in favor of a “time out” and let’s watch the game for a while since we obviously do not know the rules. Soon, perhaps, the truth will out, even to Congress. (Doubtful, I know, but hope rests eternal etc.)
Oh, and we might send a few to language school, preferably in, say, China and other places that might prove interesting. Culture 101 in places where English will not get you breakfast should be noted in the preface to course literature.
Now if someone will suggest to the Pentagon that streets clogged with foreign soldiers is perhaps not an opening gambit known for success in public relations.
But it is perhaps futile given the solid bone from ear to ear required for public officeholders, but as a taxpayer I would appreciate an audit.

seydlitz89

Colonel Lang-

Agree, it will take a major change in US policy, which would make it the first such major change in US policy by this administration . . . now more than half way through its first term.

An abandonment of American Exceptionalism's imperial meme is long overdue, but will they actually attempt it?

Sir, do you have reason to believe a major turn around is in the cards?

JohnH

Not to worry. Panetta's job will be to give the appearance of cutting Pentagon spending--shared sacrifice--so that the esteemed leadership can get on with the business of gutting Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid.

We already have this scenario market tested in the UK, where Cameron cut social spending along with military spending. The only problem is that UK military spending continues to rise about 5% per year. Cameron was just posturing. So will Panetta.

And the American people's response? Indignation! And then they will vote for the opposition, only to find out that whoever wins, they will stay the course--Republicans with relish, Democrats with all sorts of noisy, feigned agony.

Michael Brenner

A few words to reinforce the Colonel's point that a serious defense budgeting
review cannot occur in an intellectual vacuum. A critical scrutiny of how and where we spend these vast sums would require a probing look at ‘why’ – in other words, strategic ends and purposes. Almost no one in Washington is ready to do that despite the country’s stressed finances and the dubious benefits from the numerous military ventures that we have been funding during the 9/11 decade.

Robert Gates’ tenure as Secretary of Defense has bracketed a turbulent period in American politics – and in world affairs. In those four years, we have experienced two electoral cataclysms; the rise of a Messiah and his self exposure as a false prophet; return of the loony Right as an influential force; collapse of the global financial system riddled by institutionalized theft, governmental corruption and dogmatic ideology – only to be resurrected at death’s door by heavy doses of steroids provided by the victims. Plummeting tax revenues are the excuse for slashing public service of all kinds at all levels to nineteenth century standards. The entire country seethes with confused anger and resentment. Abroad, we are witnessing an historic upheaval in the Arab world with consequences as profound as the seismic events were unforeseen.

These stunning developments could be expected to change drastically the way that America and its leaders view the country’s future, its place in the world, its goals and its capabilities. They haven't. They won't under Panetta.

Cold War Zoomie

"The Navy and Air force look like good "bets" in this environment."

Especially my beloved Air Farce. Considering it's been a decade or so since the wall came down, and the Air Farce has been cut in half (at least), I'm thinking it's time to fold it back into a US Army Air Corps. What say you fellow Zoomies?

Allen Thomson


The moves Panetta -> DOD and Petraeus -> CIA strike me as interesting and not obviously crazy. Both have a bit of track record that might prepare them for the job (kinda like Gates in the case of Panetta) and, career-wise, it's not illogical in either case. Probably Panetta will retire after the SecDefship and Petraeus, having gained some inside-the-Beltway time by spending a couple or more years at CIA, could move over to the Pentagon or into national-level politics.

Of course, I have a virtually unblemished record of failure when it comes to scoping such things out.

Colin

I agree we need a change in foreign policy and a reversal of the Bush version of American exceptionalism. The first step should be an expeditious withdrawal from Afghanistan within months, certainly before the end of summer. This would also be an astute political move for Obama as it would take it off the table for the 2012 elections, Americans having such a short attention span. Otherwise it will be a festering wound infecting his reelection campaign (another reason for Republican to insist we can’t “cut and run”).
As far as such a policy change affecting the Pentagon budget, alas I do not think it would do much good. The problem with defense spending is domestic; it is a huge socialist corporate welfare program. Literally hundreds of Congressmen and scores of Senators, and their constituents, view defense spending not as national security or foreign policy tools but pork barrel income for their districts. Until this mindset is changed in Washington, and in our people, defense spending will never be rationalized and reduced until our empire completely falls, as every overstuffed Humpty Dumpty must eventually.

jonst

My sense is Panetta's job is to appear like a 'liberal' come to cut the defense budget.....when in reality his job is to ensure that the so called 'liberals' (read: anyone with a wit of common sense who sees that this kind of spending/foreign involvement can't go on)

...that the so called 'liberals' are unsuccessful at cutting anything. IOW.....the Exceptionalists are not going quietly, or, for that matter, going any other way. And the American people be damned.

Phil Giraldi

Perhaps more interesting is the flip side regarding what will take place at CIA with Petraeus. It is already clear that the Agency, as reliant as it is on high tech and liaison relationships, is no longer very good at spying. Perhaps it will morph into an analysis component with special ops capabilities. I was at Langley a couple of weeks ago for a retirement ceremony. Everyone from my time at CIA was commenting on how bloated the management had become. Considering how bad it was pre 9/11, that is really saying something. Apparently lawyers are now in place to review each operation and there are at least three layers of bureaucrats that have to chop off before anything actually gets done. It is like a bureaucracy in its death throes, with everyone focused on getting his slice of the pie before the ship sinks.

Norbert M Salamon

Sedlitz89:

Around June 30-th you will find out: either QE 3 [and furher debasement of USD] else rising interest rates, effectively raising the deficit - via Federal [and state, county, muni] interst obligations.
If first, the might totter around for another year or so with BUSINESS AS USUAL [thoug such is an effective DEFAULT,though not de jure]. In the latter case the federal discretory will be cut {a.k,.a DoD, etc] lest there be DE JURE default.

In either case the long term price of oil will go up, recession or not, depressoion or not cauing more finncial and monetqary headaches for Uncle Sam [among all other nations]

walrus

The issue that exercises my mind is the reaction of "the military industrial complex" to the financial explosion that is just around the corner.

That deep cuts are required is obvious, absent a genuine existential threat. The financial meltdown fast approaching will see to that. It remains to be seen what the reactionary forces are going to do.

The choices facing the country are stark in my opinion. There needs to be a wholesale reappraisal of every aspect of the economy and society on a scale and of a nature similar to the Meiji restoration or the risk of the emergence of an American form of Fascism will continue to increase.

A minor non defence related example; I note that legislatures are still studiously discussing how they will pay for healthcare, instead of focussing on its ruinous price compared to other developed countries. This sort of silliness has to stop.

graywolf

Have you read this?
http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2011/04/26/a_radical_plan_for_cutting_the_defense_budget_and_reconfiguring_the_us_military?page=0,0

William R. Cumming

Friends once at OMB indicate Panetta took almost no interest in DOD budget while in Congress and while at OMB.

Any confirmation from this group?

What was Panetta's military service?

William R. Cumming

Agree with Cold War Zoomie!

Medicine Man

Looking for clarification, Col: When you say, "The Navy and Air force look like good "bets" in this environment", do you mean that cuts to those branches are good ideas or that husbanding resources for those branches is a good idea.

Patrick Lang

MM

The latter. pl

omen

thoughts offered on panetta, but not petraeus? hmm...

wonder how pakistan will read petraeus being appointed to head the cia.

William R. Cumming

What percentage of CIA staff are women and minorities?

Does the ratio of 6-1 contract staff to permanent CIA employees hold for the CIA also?

William R. Cumming

Panetta has become known as a defender of the CIA! But he has a history of toughminded recommendations to be implemented after he has skated off to new territory (does the ice break behind him?) and igt would be fascinating to be a fly on the wall at the brief he gives Petraeus since their nominations are linked and confirmations will also be linked. In other words I can see a Senator asking Panetta what recommendations did you give General Petraeus? And Asking Pannetta what were you briefed by
Secretary Gates? Testimony for a PAS is always under oath which might make for interesting confirmation hearings for both! Perhaps I would open with "Why do you think you are qualified for the job?"

And Graywolf thanks for the link!

William R. Cumming

My understanding is that Panetta has never testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee in any capacity! That may be incorrect but suggested by a knowledgable friend. That Committee will be conducting Panetta's confirmation hearing.

William R. Cumming

Perhaps I should have mentioned that Senator Carl Levin (D. of MI) is the Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and Senator John McCain (R.of AZ)is the ranking MINORITY MEMBER.
I believe Secretary Gates on record position is still in opposition to Libyan intervention.

Michael Brenner

NATIONAL JOURNAL MAY 2 2011

MILITARIZING FOREIGN POLICY

The redeployment of senior players in Obama’s national security team will have no consequential effect on American foreign policy or on defense spending. Why?

1. Shifts in strategic perspective can only be provided by the introduction of new minds with fresh ideas. The incumbents are too wedded to failed ideas and failed policies to admit error by their very abandonment. These moves just shuffle the portfolios.

2. Without a thorough revision of the current strategic perspective there can be no basis for serious reappraisal of military requirements. So inertia will carry the day.

3. Panetta has a reputation for being a tough manager. Yet, at the CIA he changed nothing. Panetta has a reputation as a budget cutter based on his tenure as head of OMB in an earlier reincarnation. But he now holds a different job with a different mandate and a different, very powerful, set of constituencies.

Petraeus’ appointment continues, and extends a disturbing trend in the conduct of America’s foreign relations. This is evident in growing reliance on hard military power; in the dominant role of uniformed officers in all manner of policy-making posts and especially in the intelligence world where they enjoy a monopoly of leadership in all of the big three agencies; and in the assignment of prime political responsibilities to the regional commands. We recently created an Africa Command that has no forces whatsoever assigned to it. This Command is now in charge of all activity in regard to Libya. Its assigned mandate when established was to win friends & influence people; build military-to-military ties; engage in intelligence acquisition; compile data bases on would be/ could be terrorists – and their possible enablers, and do some public diplomacy. Ambassadors may as well be designated as ‘diplomatic attaches.’ That is what has happened in Pakistan – with less than brilliant results.

David Petraeus, with his usual effrontery, made this crystal clear at the time when he was head of Central Command. The secret “Execute Order” that he signed in October 2009 authorized Special Operations troops to undertake reconnaissance missions and build up intelligence networks throughout the Middle East and Central Asia in order to “penetrate, disrupt, defeat and destroy militant groups’ and to “prepare the environment” for future military operations.

Where is constitutional scholar Barack Obama in all this? Not AWOL – he has given it his personal blessing.

Fred

MB,

President Obama has a Harvard law degree. He's in fine company since GWB 'only' had an MBA from Harvard. Apparently the law school has the same standard for moral integrity.

William R. Cumming

Perhaps even more remarkable is that the errection, implementation, and operation of the National Security State was largely done without lawyers. No AG has ever been a member of the NSC by statute and only two have been Ex Officio members, RFK, And Edwin Meese.

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