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How To Save Hundreds Of Billions Of Dollars While Making America Safer
To understand the debate over Warren’s proposal it is first necessary to understand what she is proposing to cut. The Warren plan would eliminate the Pentagon’s war budget, known officially as the Overseas Contingency Operations account, or OCO. The account was originally justified as a way to fund the initial stages of military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, which had not been planned in the Department’s initial budgets. But for years it has been used as a slush fund to pay for tens of billions of dollars-worth of items that have nothing to do with fighting current conflicts. The reason? Because the Pentagon’s regular budget has been capped under the Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), while the OCO account has not. Putting money into OCO to pay for non-war items is an evasive maneuver designed to thwart the intent of the BCA to control the deficit.
America’s Military Is Misdirected, Not Underfunded
The Heritage Foundation released its 500-page index of military strength this week. Unfortunately, what it achieves in length is undermined by its stale and unpersuasive assumptions. As usual, Heritage gives all of the military services low marks. While there’s always room for improvement, the Heritage methodology seems arbitrary at best, and misleading at worst. The biggest complaint in the index is that America’s military is a “one-war force” that could not win simultaneous wars against Russia and China. But the two-war standard is a convenient myth that has historically had more to do with justifying high Pentagon budgets than it has with any rational assessment of the primary security challenges facing the United States and its allies.
First Comprehensive Assessment of the Impact of Sanctions Against North Korea Shows Adverse Consequences for Civilians, Especially Women
As talks between the United States and North Korea remain at an impasse, a new report shows that sanctions imposed on North Korea are having adverse consequences on humanitarian aid and economic development in the country, with a disproportionate impact on women.
The Pentagon’s Invisible Man Is Winning Washington’s Power Game
An inadvertent effect of the Trump administration’s personnel management has been to make the U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s class of 1986 among the most influential in history. Its graduates include the U.S. secretary of state (Mike Pompeo), a high-profile Washington insider and reputed “Trump whisperer” (Dave Urban, who now heads up a powerful lobbying firm), an ultraconservative Republican congressman (Mark Green, who was previously a part of the mission that captured Iraqi dictator Saddam Hussein), and a bevy of Pompeo’s best buddies—including Brian Bulatao, the undersecretary of state for management, and Thomas Ulrich Brechbuhl, the State Department’s counselor. As of this summer, it also includes President Donald Trump’s new secretary of defense: Gulf War veteran Mark Esper.
Untold amounts of foreign donations are flowing into America's political system, with little accountability or limits. Although election experts say it's impossible to accurately estimate the extent of foreign financial influence over U.S. elections, many agree it has increased substantially since a landmark Supreme Court ruling nearly a decade ago opened the flood gates.
K Street’s newest star built business on dubious claims of Trump ties
Since President Trump took office, the lobbyist Michael Esposito has been wildly successful, turning a family business that once focused on municipal transportation issues into one of the fastest-growing lobbying firms in Washington.
Economic sanctions are a central instrument of U.S. foreign policy. They are a tactic short of war designed to shape the behavior of real and perceived U.S. adversaries, from Russia, to Venezuela, to Iran, to North Korea. But as a new report commissioned by Korea Peace Now has documented, broad-based sanctions can be every bit as deadly for vulnerable populations as war itself.
How Does Controlling Syria’s Oil Serve Washington’s Strategic Objectives?
Additionally, regarding the Western defense production industry’s sales of arms to the Gulf Arab States, a report authored by William Hartung of the US-based Center for International Policy found that the Obama administration had offered Saudi Arabia more than $115 billion in weapons, military equipment and training during its eight-year tenure.
As Secret Pentagon Spending Rises, Defense Firms Cash in
The share of Pentagon spending hidden from public view is rising, as are defense contractors’ revenues from it. The U.S. Defense Department’s overall budget request increased nearly 5 percent from 2019 to 2020, but classified spending rose 6 percent, according to the consulting firm Avascent. It accounts for about $76 billion, or almost 11%, of the $718 billion requested for the current fiscal year. Military officials say they can’t talk about classified aircraft, space, and missile projects, lest they cede advantage to America’s enemies. (Critics, including House Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith, D-Wash., say excessive hidden spending hinders oversight, leads to waste, and undermines public trust.)
The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea
The Human Costs and Gendered Impact of Sanctions on North Korea represents the first comprehensive assessment of the adverse consequences of these sanctions, drawing on often neglected information from UN agencies on the ground as well as the authors’ combined expertise in public health, law, economics, history, and gender studies. In particular, the report highlights the case of women as one of the vulnerable groups differentially affected by the sanctions.
Saudi ‘Davos’ turnout underscores costs of Khashoggi murder
Bankers, politicians and CEOs from around the world are set to flock to an annual Saudi Arabian business meeting this week, in part rehabilitating an event that was blackballed last year after the murder of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi.
A new piece by Bloomberg’s Anthony Capaccio underscores the lengths that the US government will go to in promoting weapons exports, regardless of whether they serve long-term US interests. The article focuses on the practice of offering discounts on major sales of US arms, at a cost of billions of dollars.
Building a Peace Economy – Shrink the Pentagon for People and Planet
This event brings together leaders who understand why and how we might redirect our tax dollars away from endless war and militarism towards sustainable community development here and abroad. Where is the waste we can cut? How can we spend less on machines of war and feel more secure? How do we counter the deep coffers of the arms lobby and shift investments to local communities for good jobs and for a healthy planet for all?
Confidence in Government on National Security Matters: Third Quarter of 2019
In July 2017, we began a polling project to measure public confidence in government institutions on national security matters on an ongoing basis. This post provides our data for the third quarter of 2019 (June-September). It includes public perceptions of government institutions and of the two major political parties’ handling of national security, the public’s comfort with intelligence authorities, and public perceptions about the president’s handling of key national security issues and ongoing military operations.
America’s laws have always left our politics vulnerable to foreign influence
The indictment of Lev Parnas, Igor Fruman, David Correia and Andrey Kukushkin for allegedly breaking campaign finance laws — including running a scheme to funnel foreign money into American elections — was extraordinary, given the accused’s ties to the president’s lawyer Rudy Giuliani and to President Trump himself. But in another sense, their actions weren’t at all novel: They were merely the latest exploitation of a political system that has always been susceptible to foreign interference.
Liz Cheney’s Turkey sanctions bill would ban US arms sales
More than 90 of U.S. President Donald Trump’s fellow Republicans in the House were poised Wednesday to introduce sanctions against Turkey aimed at ending its assault against Kurdish fighters and civilians in Syria — an assault Turkey began after Trump announced he was withdrawing U.S. troops from Syria.
So it turns out the biggest item on Washington’s tasking list isn’t rewarding arrogant education apparatchiks or enriching dastardly “defense” contractors. It’s serving the army of the entitled — via wildly popular programs.
Price of the Alliance: The F-35 Undermines Korean Peace, South Korea’s National Security
South Korean President Moon Jae-in did something very unusual in early October for a leader who once deemed the Korean peace process among the highest priorities of his administration: He promoted the very fighter jets that North Korea says undermine diplomacy.
Report outlines UAE's 'immensely influential' lobbying in US
A new report by a Washington-based non-profit organisation outlines what it describes as the United Arab Emirates (UAE) "vast and immensely influential" lobbying and public relations campaign in the United States.
Congress to launch sanctions on Turkey as Trump measures deemed ineffective
The US Congress will press ahead with a broad package of sanctions on Turkey, including cutting military support, after measures announced by the Trump administration were dismissed as ineffective, Senate officials have confirmed.
To Curb Turkey's Invasion of Syria, Cut off US Arms and Support
It’s too late to undo the considerable damage already inflicted by President Trump’s abrupt removal of US troops from northeastern Syria and the subsequent Turkish invasion, but if the US has any hope of preventing further bloodshed the best option is to cut off the US arms supplies and spare parts that sustain the Turkish military.
US Congress mulls arms export ban on Turkey for incursion into Syria
U.S. House and Senate lawmakers are readying bills to sanction and potentially ban U.S. arms exports to NATO ally Turkey to punish it over military operations in northern Syria against U.S.-backed Kurdish forces who helped fight the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
America continues its unwavering devotion to Saudi Arabia, despite the gruesome murder of Jamal Khashoggi and the humanitarian catastrophes in Yemen. What is behind this resolute support to America's undemocratic ally in the Middle East? Bill Hartung dives into the history of the U.S.-Saudi relationship, U.S. arms sales, and just how much of the arms trade actually benefits America's defense companies.
After essentially giving a green light to Turkey’s invasion of northern Syria to attack the Kurdish-led Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) forces, President Trump took a slight turn when he declared that there would be severe economic consequences for Turkey if the intervention was not carried out in a “humane” fashion.
Why is the United States still siding with the ruthless regime in Saudi Arabia?
The Post is to be commended for running a series of strong pieces to mark the anniversary of Saudi Arabia’s assassination of Jamal Khashoggi. The question remains: Why is the United States still siding with this ruthless regime?
The U.S. Gives Military Aid to Corrupt Countries All the Time
If you take Donald Trump at face value about his now-infamous phone call with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, which occurred shortly after he mysteriously stopped military aid meant for Ukraine, he was only concerned about sending millions to a country known for corruption. It was just a coincidence that he named his political rival’s son, Hunter Biden.
In this episode of Straight Talk Africa host Shaka Ssali looks at political succession on the continent. He is joined by Temi Ibirogba Program Associate for the Africa Program at the Center for International Policy and Musalia Mudavadi, Former Vice President of Kenya and Amani National Congress Party Leader.
Opinion: Trump and money are shielding Saudi Arabia from accountability for Khashoggi’s killing
Following the brutal killing of Saudi dissident and Washington Post contributor Jamal Khashoggi at Saudi Arabia’s consulate in Istanbul, Turkey, one year ago, the Saudi government became something of a toxic commodity in American politics.
Arms & Security Project and Foreign Influence Transparency Initiative
Mac Thornberry’s Retirement Leaves the Defense Industry With One Less Close Friend
Mac Thornberry, a Panhandle Republican representing Texas’ 13th Congressional District, announced on Monday that he will not run for reelection. That makes him the sixth House Republican from the state to announce their retirement, a collective scramble for the exits that has become known as Texodus.
Mac Thornberry’s retirement will cost the Pentagon one of its most polished, articulate allies in Congress. In his key roles – first as chair of the House Armed Services and then as its ranking Republican — he relentlessly advocated for more Pentagon spending, even as the department was already receiving near-record levels of taxpayer dollars.
For the past three years, we have witnessed Mr. Trump’s wars on governance, science, national security policy and public service. For the past several days, we have witnessed a new war — a war on whistleblowers that will make it particularly difficult for others to come forward in the future.
The whistle-blower scandal that has prompted the fourth presidential impeachment process in American history has put a spectacle from earlier this decade back on display: the jaw-smacking feast of scavengers who circled around Ukraine as Viktor Yanukovych, a Moscow-linked kleptocrat, was driven from power.
Tomgram: Hartung and Smithberger, A Trillion-Dollar Future Pentagon Budget?
In today’s piece, TomDispatch regulars William Hartung and Mandy Smithberger consider ways in which the Pentagon is essentially a family business (if, that is, you think of the weapons makers of the military-industrial complex as a “family”). It’s also a kind of scam (as they explain), a comfortable stop for past and future officials of that very complex. And the results of such a business model are striking, to say the least.
Some of the sources cited in your article on the implications of the Trump administration’s response to the recent attacks on Saudi oil facilities imply that attacking Iran is the only way to demonstrate an American commitment to its Persian Gulf allies. Nothing could be further from the truth.
The Pentagon and Border Security: Wall to Wall Hypocrisy
The Trump administration’s effort to use $3.6 billion from the fiscal year 2020 Pentagon budget to pay for the president’s border wall is the latest attempt to get the department involved in a controversial and damaging policy that should be none of its business.
After Saudi Oil Attack, It’s Time to De-Escalate In The Persian Gulf
The attack on Saudi oil facilities that has rippled through global markets and increased the prospects for U.S. military action against Iran underscores the need for a course correction in U.S. policy in the Persian Gulf.
How the U.S. Military Churns Out More Greenhouse Gas Emissions Than Entire Countries
When CNN hosted a climate-change town hall for Democratic presidential candidates last week, former vice president Joe Biden brought up one of his favorite campaign topics: Barack Obama. "The first thing that happened when President Obama and I were elected, we went over to what they call the Tank, in the Pentagon, sat down and got the briefing on the greatest danger facing our security. Know what they told us it was? The military? Climate change. Climate change. Climate change is the single greatest concern for war and disruption in the world, short of a nuclear exchange."