Women. Power. Peace.

Sayre Speaks: The Cuts Are Coming!—What Do They Mean for WAND?


Budget Cuts

Described as “a change of doctrine,” military cuts have been outlined, first by Defense Secretary Panetta, then in a speech by Obama.  $450 billion over the next ten years amounts to significant cuts. WAND members might have been surprised by Obama saying “We will still be bigger than the next 12 countries combined.” Here he was defending a fact we like to use as proving the absurd size of our military budget!

We could at least take comfort from Defense Secretary Panetta’s announcement that from now on, we will not be able to fight two major wars at once—at least one lesson was learned from our “decade of war” when we abandoned Afghanistan to invade Iraq. But other aspects of his interview were discouraging: his emphasis on how dangerous today’s world is, how many “emerging threats” we might face, mentioning after the obvious Iran and China, amazingly Russia and India! He also stressed that if we weren’t going to be enlarging our military we would be enhancing it, probably with new weapons technologies.

Evidently our nuclear weapons arsenal isn’t seen as a source for savings.  The only cut suggested so far is taking out one of its three delivery systems, bomber aircraft. WAND members will continue to advocate for deep reductions and ultimately, the phasing-out of nuclear weapons themselves.

Meanwhile our media continues to feature the cuts as threats to our security. “Obama Plan Would Slash Army, Limit Ability to Endure Long-Term Conflicts” was how The Wall Street Journal headlined the President’s announcement of coming cuts. While the Journal continues to promote threats in articles such as, “China Military Build-Up Takes Aim at U.S. Military Might,” The New York Times more temperately deals with the projected cuts in a daily series entitled “The Next War.”

A real threat to our military is revealed by the news that China is developing long-range weapons that could potentially sink our aircraft carriers in the China Sea. The loss of one carrier with its population of 6,000 could produce more casualties than the entire war in Iraq. And yet work continues on our second biggest carrier in a new class, destined to replace aging carriers and to last for the next fifty years. Today the yearly budget for keeping our 11 carriers in service, more than 30 billion, is larger than the total military budget of many countries. Meanwhile Iran says it doesn’t want our carrier back in the Persian Gulf.

What to do as the rest of the world begins to show impatience with our continued overwhelming projection of military power? For those of us who welcome the end of the two wars it seems time to rejoin the other countries of the world in a partnership to provide real security for its people. Continuing to support U.S. world military dominance, as all but one of our Republican presidential candidates do, and our president and secretary of defense partially do, is not a viable alternative. It will be a big job to persuade Americans that real change and deeper military cuts will not be a loss but a gain for our economic problems and the only hope for a more peaceful future.

Written by Sayre Sheldon

Editor's Note: The views expressed by WAND's guest bloggers are not necessarily shared by WAND or part of WAND's official policies.


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