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Archive for Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Panetta: Bigger defense cuts would ‘weaken’ U.S.

August 17, 2011

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— Large new cuts in defense spending would “terribly weaken” U.S. national security, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday as he and Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton used a rare joint interview to argue that the nation cannot afford to keep playing partisan chicken with its finances.

Panetta expressed optimism about progress by American-led forces against the Taliban in Afghanistan and by NATO forces in support of anti-government rebels in Libya. He cited those conflicts as examples of why severe cuts to spending on defense and diplomacy would be dangerous.

Panetta said the Pentagon is prepared to make $350 billion in cuts over the next 10 years, as agreed by Congress. But he warned of dangers to the national defense if bigger reductions are required.

The recent deficit compromise reached between the White House and Congress set up a special bipartisan committee to draft legislation to find more government cuts. If the committee cannot agree on a deficit-reduction plan by year’s end or if Congress rejects its proposal, it would trigger some $500 billion in additional reductions in projected national security spending.

“This kind of massive cut across the board, which would literally double the number of cuts that we’re confronting, that would have devastating effects on our national defense; it would have devastating effects on certainly the State Department,” Panetta said.

Clinton said Americans should understand that in addition to preserving military strength, it is in the nation’s security interests to maintain the State Department’s role in diplomacy and development. She suggested that the political stalemate over spending cuts has put that in jeopardy.

“It does cast a pall over our ability to project the kind of security interests that are in America’s interests,” she said. “This is not about the Defense Department or the State Department. ... This is about the United States of America. And we need to have a responsible conversation about how we are going to prepare ourselves for the future.”

Clinton acknowledged that it is harder to defend the State Department budget than military spending.

“It’s a harder case because I think there’s a lot of both misunderstanding and rejection of the work that is done by the State Department,” she said.

She and Panetta appeared together at National Defense University in an interview conducted by Frank Sesno, director of the School of Media and Public Affairs at George Washington University. Several members of the audience, which included military and civilian officials, also posed questions.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 1 month ago

It's a little late to complain about it now, but my opinion is that the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq did not increase security in the United States at all.

Instead, we should have pursued a policy of careful containment which would have been much less expensive, instead of invading countries that have no interest in being invaded by foreign powers from the West. They are constantly make comparisons to the Crusades from the Middle Ages.

Arabic nations have long memories because they have long histories.

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jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

Because we are seen as the leaders of the west, we're seen as the one's responsible for many of the problems in that region. Most of those problems evolved prior to the U.S. even existing. They even blame us for the Crusades. They have long memories and long histories. And they have twisted memories and twisted histories.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

Yea, why should the US take responsibility for anything when we can blame "them (they)" for all our image problems?

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jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

I have no problem with accepting responsibility for what we have done. But I don't think it's fair that we accept the negative consequences of things that we did not do. Or things that we did in good faith. I've mentioned before that at the onset of hostilities against Iraq, we were labeled as "crusaders", just like the old ones. The borders in that region, artificially drawn for sure, but not by the U.S. We've even been fed intelligence that turned out to be false because it was just an attempt by one faction to settle a decades or even centuries old vendetta. Everyone, us, them, whomever, needs to be held accountable for their actions.

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

" I've mentioned before that at the onset of hostilities against Iraq, we were labeled as "crusaders", just like the old ones."

For the neocons who'd been dreaming of invading Iraq for at least the previous 10 years, it was very akin to a "crusade."

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jhawkinsf 3 years, 1 month ago

And they see any intrusion into their sphere of influence in the past 900 years as a crusade. Interestingly, as their sphere of influence expands, it becomes forever their sphere, regardless of whether their influence there was for a very short time into areas that had long traditions of being within another culture. Simply retaking what was once yours becomes an intrusion into what is forever theirs.
It's interesting that while you claim the neocons are in absolute control of American policy, we are currently planning on leaving Iraq. It sounds less like a crusade and more like removing a despicable person from power and allowing Iraq to become a respected member of the world community. Of course, they may well fail in both endeavors, but a crusade, I think not.

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Crazy_Larry 3 years, 1 month ago

Oh geez...Hey, #3, can you handle this one?

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just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 1 month ago

"Large new cuts in defense spending would “terribly weaken” U.S. national security, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said Tuesday"

Depends on how you define "national security." Panetta is clearly using the operable definition of the last several decades, which is really a euphemism for neocolonial, corporate interests.

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usnsnp 3 years, 1 month ago

When the cuts come watch many of them come from pay and benifits. People are already talking about switching military retirement from present form to a 401K type plan. Here are a few facts: Retired military personnel can be recalled to active duty in a national emergency any time after they retire no matter how old they are, although the chance of being recalled after age 60 is slim but still possible. In the Navy and Marine Corp when you retire with less than 30 years you are put into the Fleet Reserve till you reach the 30 mark. They pay you receive during this period is called a retainer pay. So it seems that military retiries are at the beck and call of the nation until they die, how many other people that retire have the same committment.

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