Spending: An American geopolitical expert must be able to spout arrant nonsense with a straight face. Bonus points for innumeracy. Today we have a classic example for your entertainment. Unfortunately it’s not funny, as we watch America’s wealth flow down the drain.
Money paragraph in “A secret weapon to save defense“, Marc Thiessen (Wikipedia bio), op-ed in the Washington Post, 8 August 2011 (Thiessen’s most famous line is that the CIA’s torture programs were “were not only effective, but lawful and morally just.”):
“The war on terror is far from over. We face potential conflicts with Iran, North Korea, Yemen and Somalia. And as we learned on Sept. 11, 2001, new threats can emerge suddenly to surprise us.”
A sure sign that we’re being conned is an argument without numbers. Before we buy the incitements to fear of the Pentagon’s lackeys, let’s look at our spending vs. that of these fearsome foes (source: Global Security; or see the SIPIRI database). I’ve added Russia, China, and some (not all) of our allies. Estimates of GDP and military spending vary (e.g., that of the US does not include much of our large expenditures on intelligence and nukes). And military spending is, of course, only a crude index of military power. But the proportions are so great as to make the conclusion unmistakable, despite these limitations of the data.
One question for Thiessen screams from this list: how much is enough for defense? Now for the numbers…
|WORLD||Gross Domestic Product||Military Spending|
|as % GDP|
|Yemen insurgents||pocket lint||n/a||tiny|
|Korea, North||$40,000,000,000||96||25.00%||n/a||$ 10,000,000,000|
|Korea, South||$1,362,000,000,000||13||2.70%||53||$ 36,774,000,000|
|United Kingdom||$2,123,000,000,000||7||2.40%||63||$ 50,952,000,000|
|Saudi Arabia||$590,900,000,000||23||10.00%||3||$ 59,090,000,000|
|total of allies||$18,942,750,000,000||$959,066,300,000|
Any comparisons depend on who fights who. Thiessen’s assertion is daft that we need spend almost a trillion dollars per year to defend against rag-tag terrorists and two minor powers. While potentially dangerous, he offers no reasons while far smaller expenditures cannot do the job.
Different constellations of alliances would be necessary against Russia or China. But by any accounting we have large multiples of superiority in terms of spending. And far larger advantages in military infrastructure and technology.
Not of that matters to our hawks. Our enemies are always shadowy but terrifying so that any sums spent are inadequate — and no logic or evidence be necessary to justify the expenditure. Loud shouting by hordes of the well-funded Pentagon supporters. This is how the self-imposed burden of Empire will crush us. A mad empire, one both unprofitable and that multiplies our enemies.
Another example of “just making stuff up” by our geopolitical experts
“CNN Allows Fantasy Novelist to Seriously Blame Iran for Afghanistan Chopper Shootdown“, Jememy Sapienza, AntiWar, 8 August 2011 — To our geopolitical experts, any tradegdy can serve to build the current narrative. Opening:
Imperial cheerleaders have a habit of blaming Iran for everything bad that happens to a US occupation, so I have come to accept they will pull that boogeyman out any chance they get. And yet I was still surprised when CNN contributor and Bush regime mouthpiece Frances Townshend and Brad Thor, a political thriller novel author, started saying Iran was probably responsible for this weekend’s shootdown of a US chopper that killed 30 American military personnel, including members of the SEAL team that killed Osama bin Laden.
Townshend is a former Homeland Security Adviser to President Bush and is still an adviser for DHS and the CIA, whatever her merits. But who is this Brad Thor character? He was never in the military, and claims with no official verification to have “shadowed” a Black ops team in Afghanistan to research a novel. He was a regular contributor on the show of retired Fox News nutbag bawler Glenn Beck, and is for some reason a member of the Heritage Foundation. He also claims — again with no official verification — to have been invited by Homeland Security to come up with imaginary terrorist scenarios.
For more information
For a full list of posts on this topic see the FM Reference Page America’s national defense strategy and military.
Especially note these posts about our geopolitical experts:
- Exum looks at Af-Pak campaign of the Long War, revealing more about ourselves than the foe, 7 June 2010
- The threat of insurgents using MANPADS is exaggerated (SOP for our experts), 31 July 2010
- Our geopolitical experts will destroy America, if we let them, 27 October 2010
- Our geopolitical experts see the world with the innocent eyes of children (that’s a bad thing), 14 March 2011
- A child-like credulity is required to be a US geopolitical expert, 25 April 2011
- We can learn an important lesson about ourselves from the “Three Cups of Tea” affair (part one), 26 April 2011
- The lessons about ourselves we can learn from the “Three Cups of Tea” affair (part two), 27 April 2011