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Sunday, May 9, 2010

Our Foreign Policy


Look out, Obama seems to be planning
for a lot more war

by Jack A Smith, Asia Times

on May 8, 2010

http://www.alternet .org/story/ 146787/

There's more war in America's future - a great deal more, judging
by the Barack Obama administration' s reports, pronouncements and
actions in recent months.

These documents and deeds include the Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR),
the Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), the Ballistic Missile Defense Report,
the nuclear security summit in New York and the May 3-28 United Nations
nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty review conference, as well as the
continuing wars in the Middle East and Central Asia, and the 2011
Pentagon war budget request.

The United States government presides as a military colossus of
unrivalled dimension, but the QDR, which was published in February,
suggests Washington views America as being constantly under the threat
of attack from a multitude of fearsome forces bent on its destruction.
As such, trillions more dollars must be invested in present and future
wars - ostensibly to make safe the besieged homeland.

The NPR says the long-range US goal is a "nuclear-free" world, but
despite token reductions in its arsenal of such weapons, the Pentagon is
strengthening its nuclear force and bolstering it with a devastating
"conventional deterrent" intended to strike any target in the world
within one hour. In addition this document, published in April, retains
"hair-trigger" nuclear launch readiness, refuses to declare its nuclear
force is for deterrence only (suggesting offensive use) and for the
first time authorizes a nuclear attack, if necessary, on a non-nuclear
state (Iran).

Meanwhile, Obama is vigorously expanding the George W Bush
administration' s wars, and enhancing and deploying America's
unparalleled military power.

The Obama administration' s one positive achievement in terms of
militarism and war was the April 9 signing in Prague of the new
Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty with Russia that reduces deployed
strategic nuclear weapons to 1,550 warheads each. It was a step forward,
but all agree it was extremely modest, and it does not even faintly
diminish the danger of nuclear war.

The QDR is a 128-page Defense Department report mandated by congress to
be compiled every four years to put forward a 20-year projection of US
military planning. A 20-member civilian panel, selected by the Pentagon
and congress, analyzes the document and suggests changes in order to
provide an "independent" perspective. Eleven of the members, including
the panel’s co-chairmen - former defense secretary William Perry and
former national security adviser Stephen Hadley - are employed by the
defense industry.

Although the Pentagon is working on preparations for a possible World
War III and beyond, the new report is largely focused on the relatively
near future and only generalizes about the longer term. Of the QDR's
many priorities three stand out.

# The first priority is to "prevail in today's wars" in Afghanistan,
Pakistan, Iraq, Yemen and wherever else Washington's post-9/11 military
intrusions penetrate in coming years. Introducing the report February 1,
Bush-Obama Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued this significant
statement: "Success in wars to come will depend on success in these wars
in progress." The "wars to come" were not identified. Further, the QDR
states that military victory in Iraq and Afghanistan is "only the first
step toward achieving our strategic objectives".

# Second, while in the past the US concentrated on the ability to fight
two big wars simultaneously, the QDR suggests that's not enough. Now,
the Obama administration posits the "need for a robust force capable of
protecting US interests against a multiplicity of threats, including two
capable nation-state aggressors."

Now it's two-plus wars - the plus being the obligation to "conduct
large-scale counter-insurgency, stability and counter-terrorism
operations in a wide range of environments" , mainly in small, poor
countries like Afghanistan. Other "plus" targets include "non-state
actors" such as al-Qaeda, "failed states" such as Somali, and
medium-size but well-defended states that do not bend the knee to Uncle
Sam, such as Iran or the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, and some
day perhaps Venezuela.

# Third, it's fairly obvious from the QDR, though not acknowledged, that
the Obama government believes China and Russia are the two possible
"nation-state aggressors" against which Washington must prepare to
"defend" itself. Neither Beijing nor Moscow has taken any action to
justify the Pentagon's assumption that they will ever be suicidal enough
to attack the far more powerful United States.

After all, the US, with 4.54% of the world's population, invests more on
war and war preparations than the rest of the world combined. Obama's
2010 Pentagon budget is US$680 billion, but the real total is double
that when all Washington's national security expenditures in other
departmental budgets are also included, such as the cost of nuclear
weapons, the 16 intelligence agencies, Homeland Security and interest on
war debts, among other programs.

Annual war-related expenditures are well over $1 trillion. In calling
for a discretionary freeze on government programs in January's state of
the union address, Obama specifically exempted Pentagon/national
security expenditures from the freeze. Obama is a big war spender. His
$708 billion Pentagon allotment for fiscal 2011 (not counting a pending
$33 billion Congress will approve for the Afghan "surge") exceeds Bush's
highest budget of $651 billion for fiscal 2009.

At present, US military power permeates the entire world. As the QDR
notes: "The United States is a global power with global
responsibilities. Including operations in Afghanistan and Iraq,
approximately 400,000 US military personnel are forward-stationed or
rotationally deployed around the world."

The Pentagon presides over 1,000 overseas military bases (including
those in the war zones), great fleets in every ocean, a globe-spanning
air force, military satellites in space and nuclear missiles on hair trigger
alert pre-targeted on "enemy" or potential "enemy" cities and military
facilities. A reading of the QDR shows none of this will change except
for upgrading, enlarging (the Pentagon just added six new bases in
Colombia) and adding new systems such as Prompt Global Strike, an
important new offensive weapon system, which we shall discuss below.

The phrase "full spectrum military dominance" - an expression concocted
by the neo-conservatives in the 1990s that was adopted by the Bush
administration to define its aggressive military strategy - was cleverly
not included in the 2010 QDR, but retaining and augmenting dominance
remains the Pentagon's prime preoccupation.

The QDR is peppered with expressions such as "America’s interests and
role in the world require armed forces with unmatched capabilities" and
calls for "the continued dominance of America’s Armed Forces in
large-scale force-on-force warfare". Gates went further in his February 1
press conference: "The United States needs a broad portfolio of
military capabilities, with maximum versatility across the widest
possible spectrum of conflicts." Obama bragged recently that he
commanded "the finest military in the history of the world".

Evidently, the Pentagon is planning to engage in numerous future wars
interrupted by brief periods of peace while preparing for the next war.
Given that the only entity expressing an interest in attacking the
United States is al-Qaeda - a non-government paramilitary organization
of extreme religious fanatics with about a thousand reliable active
members around the world - it is obvious that America's unprecedented
military might is actually intended for another purpose.

In our view that "other purpose" is geopolitical - to strengthen even
further the Pentagon's military machine to assure that the United States
retains its position as the dominant

global hegemon at a time of acute indebtedness, the severe erosion of
its manufacturing base, near gridlock in domestic politics, and the
swift rise to global prominence of several other nations and blocs.

The QDR touches on this with admirable delicacy: "The distribution of
global political, economic and military power is shifting and becoming
more diffuse. The rise of China, the world’s most populous country, and
India, the world’s largest democracy, will continue to reshape the
international system. While the United States will remain the most
powerful actor, it must increasingly cooperate with key allies and
partners to build and sustain peace and security. Whether and how rising
powers fully integrate into the global system will be among this
century’s defining questions, and are thus central to America’s

At the moment, the QDR indicates Washington is worried about foreign
"anti-access" strategies that limit its "power projection capabilities"
in various parts of the world. What this means is that certain countries
such as China and Russia are developing sophisticated new weapons that
match those of the US, thus "impeding" the deployment of American forces
to wherever the Pentagon desires. For instance:

China is developing and fielding large numbers of advanced
medium-range ballistic and cruise missiles, new attack submarines
equipped with advanced weapons, increasingly capable long-range air
defense systems, electronic warfare and computer network attack
capabilities, advanced fighter aircraft and counter-space systems. China
has shared only limited information about the pace, scope and ultimate
aims of its military modernization programs, raising a number of
legitimate questions regarding its long-term intentions.

To counter this trend in China and elsewhere, the Pentagon is planning,
at a huge and unannounced cost, the following enhancements: "Expand
future long-range strike capabilities; Exploit advantages in subsurface
operations; Increase the resiliency of US forward posture and base
infrastructure; Assure access to space and the use of space assets;
Enhance the robustness of key ISR (Intelligence, Surveillance, and
Reconnaissance) capabilities; Defeat enemy sensors and engagement
systems; and Enhance the presence and responsiveness of US forces

In addition, the US not only targets China with nuclear missiles and
bombs, it is surrounding the country (and Russia as well, of course)
with anti-ballistic missiles. The purpose is plain: In case the US finds
it "necessary" to launch ballistic missiles toward China, the ABMs will
be able to destroy its limited retaliatory capacity.

According to an article in the February 22 issue of China Daily, the
country's English-language newspaper: "Washington appears determined to
surround China with US-built anti-missile systems, military scholars
have observed ... Air force colonel Dai Xu, a renowned military
strategist, wrote in an article released this month that 'China is in a
crescent-shaped ring of encirclement. The ring begins in Japan,
stretches through nations in the South China Sea to India, and ends in
Afghanistan' ."

Compared to the Bush administration' s 2006 QDR, there has been a
conscious effort to tone down the anti-China rhetoric in the current
document. But it is entirely clear that China is number one in the QDR's
references to "potentially hostile nation states".

According to the February 18 Defense News, a publication that serves the
military-industrial complex, "Analysts say the QDR attempts to address
the threat posed by China without further enraging Beijing. 'If you look
at the list of further enhancements to US forces and capabilities ...
those are primarily capabilities needed for defeating China, not Iran,
North Korea or Hezbollah,' said Roger Cliff, a China military specialist
at Rand. 'So even though not a lot of time is spent naming China ...
analysis of the China threat is nonetheless driving a lot of the
modernization programs described in the QDR'."

Incidentally, according to the Center for Arms Control and
Non-Proliferation, this year's Chinese defense budget, for a country
four times larger than the United States, is $78 billion, compared to
the $664 billion for the Pentagon (without all the national security
extras harbored in other department budgets). China possesses 100-200
nuclear warheads compared to America's 9,326 (when both deployed and
stored weapons are included). China is contemplating the construction of
an aircraft carrier; the US Navy floats 11 of them. China has no
military bases abroad.

In our view, China appears to be constructing weapons for defense, not
offense against the US - and its foreign policy is based on refusing to
be pushed around by Washington while doing everything possible to avoid a
serious confrontation.

Russia as well is treated better in the new QDR than in 2006, but it is
included with China in most cases. Despite Moscow's huge nuclear
deterrent and abundant oil and gas supplies, it's only "potential enemy"
number two in terms of the big powers. Washington feels more threatened
by Beijing. This is largely because of China's size, rapid development,
fairly successful state-guided capitalist economy directed by the
Communist Party, and the fact that it is on the road to becoming the
world's economic leader, surpassing the US in 20 to 40 years.

It seems fairly obvious, but hardly mentioned publicly, that this is an
extremely dangerous situation. China does not seek to dominate the
world, nor will it allow itself to be dominated. Beijing supports the
concept of a multipolar world order, with a number of countries and
blocs playing roles. At issue, perhaps, is who will be first among

Washington prefers the situation that has existed these 20 years after
the implosion of the Soviet Union and much of the socialist world left
the United States as the remaining military superpower and boss of the
expanded capitalist bloc. During this time Washington has functioned as
the unipolar world hegemon and doesn't want to relinquish the title.

This is all changing now as other countries rise, led by China, and the
US appears to be in gradual decline. How the transition to
multi-polarity is handled over the next couple of decades may determine
whether or not a disastrous war will be avoided.

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