The CNN/Tea Party Express debate continued to expose the difference between Texas Representative Ron Paul and the rest of the Republican field on the issue of America's multiplying foreign wars. An audience member asked the candidates if any defense spending cuts should be considered.
Newt Gingrich began the foreign policy and military-spending discussion with an alarmist and unrealistic statement that "I think we are at the edge of an enormous crisis in national security. I think that we are greatly underestimating the threat to this country. And I think the day after we celebrated the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we should be reminded exactly what is at stake if a foreign terrorist gets a nuclear weapon into this country."
Of course, only a handful of nation-states have nuclear weapons of any kind. And the ability to make easily transportable nuclear weapons is perhaps limited to the United States, Russia, and Britain.
Democratic Representative Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has been harshly critical of the Obama administration as of late, and is now advocating a challenge to President Obama in a primary. According to Kucinich, such an endeavor would likely turn Obama into a better president.
Kucinich said on CNN:
Can I see someone coming forward to challenge President Obama from the ranks of the Democratic Party? I suppose it’s possible. There again, it’s going to be about the economy, and that’s what it should be about. We have to get America back to work. And frankly, we have to stop wasting money on these wars that’s causing us to be able to lose the resources we need to focus money at home. So should President Obama have a challenge? I say he should. I think it would make him a better president if he received a Democratic challenge in the Democratic primary. Will I be that candidate? No.
The military-industrial complex is pulling out all the stops to ensure that not one dime of its vast federal largess is taken away even as the nation faces nearly $15 trillion in debt. Defense contractors, Representatives and Senators, and current and former Defense Secretaries are working together to thwart actual and potential cuts in defense spending resulting from the August debt ceiling deal.
The deal calls for $350 billion in defense cuts over 10 years — an average of $35 billion per year. In addition, it tasks the newly created congressional super-committee with finding an additional $1.2 trillion in savings over that same time period. Should the committee fail to come to an agreement on those savings, automatic cuts totaling the same amount, split evenly between defense and domestic spending, are slated to occur. If that took place, defense spending would then be reduced by $600 billion, an average of $60 billion per year.
That may sound like a huge dent in the Pentagon’s budget, but there are two things to keep in mind.
The U.S. is leaning on the government in Baghdad for a new Status of Forces Agreement that will keep American troops in Iraq beyond the end of the year. The current agreement, signed by the U.S. and Iraq in 2008, requires the removal of all U.S. military forces by December 31, 2011. If nothing changes, Americans will adhere to that deadline, State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told the New York Times.
"I think our public position, our private position, hasn't changed, that our plan is to withdraw by the end of the year," Nuland said. "Were the Iraqi government to come forward and make a request for some continued security assistance, we would be prepared to look at it."
But it appears the U.S. is asking to be asked, and has been for some time. Fox News reported Tuesday that the Pentagon recently secured a commitment from the Iraqis to negotiate on the matter and the question is not whether, but how many, American troops remain in Iraq.
U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan Ryan Crocker told Reuters that American forces must continue the fight against the Taliban and for a stable Afghanistan as "the ultimate guarantee that there will not be another 9/11."
"It is going to require more resources, its going to require time," said Crocker, a career diplomat who also served as Ambassador to Iraq. "I hope we can bring all those to bear, because as hard, painful, as expensive as this has been in blood and treasure, it has cost a lot less than 9/11 did."
The Central Intelligence Agency continues to rapidly expand its global extrajudicial assassination program under the Obama administration, secretly murdering people with drones from Pakistan and Afghanistan to Somalia and Yemen. Even American citizens are fair game, according to the President.
The dramatic evolution of the agency’s priorities and operations has become so extreme that a former senior intelligence official told the Washington Post the CIA had been turned into “one hell of a killing machine.” The official, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the paramilitary transformation was “nothing short of a wonderment.”
But the dramatic metamorphosis, detailed in a recent exposé by the Post, entitled “CIA shifts focus to killing targets,” is hardly without critics. Some experts have even warned Congress that the illegal killings may constitute war crimes.
Documents discovered in the rebel-occupied capital of Libya offer evidence that the CIA assisted the now-deposed Libyan ruler Muammar el-Qaddafi in apprehending and jailing suspected terrorists. Those suspects include members of the rebel forces the United States and NATO have aided in toppling the Qaddafi regime.
The files were found by journalists and the activist group Human Rights Watch in the Tripoli headquarters of former External Security Organization chief Moussa Koussa. They show that both the CIA and its British counterpart, MI-6, turned captured enemies of the Qaddafi regime, including suspected al-Qaeda operatives, over to the Libyan dictator. Both the United States and Great Britain sent terrorist suspects to Libya for questioning, knowing the country's reputation for brutal interrogation techniques. Some of the documents included warnings to the Libyan government to respect the human rights of the detainees, the New York Times reported.
According to an American diplomatic cable released by WikiLeaks citing numerous officials and reports, a team of U.S. soldiers in Iraq may have handcuffed and then executed an entire family — including five children under the age of six and four women. The troops, who were previously cleared of any wrongdoing by a U.S. investigation, then allegedly called for an air strike on the home in an apparent effort to cover up the evidence.
The 2006 massacre, which happened in an Iraqi town called Ishaqi, left at least 10 civilians dead. Among them were 28-year-old farmer Faiz Khalaf, his young wife, and all three of their children — aged five, three, and five months. Khalaf’s 74-year-old mother, his sister, and his two nieces — five and three years old — were also killed after being placed in handcuffs, officials said.
According to multiple accounts, U.S. forces approached the house for a raid at around 2:30 a.m. on March 15. Shots were reportedly fired, though it remains unclear who was shooting and why. But what happened next — the alleged executions — is being called a war crime.
Usually when U.S. citizens argue in favor of downsizing the military budget, they are treated as anti-American by neoconservatives and other "hawks." When presidential contender Ron Paul advocates bringing the troops home and reducing federal military spending, he is called an isolationist. But what can critics say of a military general who makes such assertions?
Brigadier General John Adams, in a piece for The Hill, makes such declarations. He claims that while the federal government has increased military spending, it has not increased national security, and such spending only serves to threaten economic security and fiscal sanity: