4 thoughts on “US military budget biggest ever

  1. Report: One Million Pakistanis Have Fled US Missile Attacks
    Sun Apr 5, 2009 6:45 am (PDT)

    http://www.focus-fen.net/?id=n176648

    Focus News Agency
    April 5, 2009

    Thousands flee bomb attacks by US drones

    Data Khel – American drone attacks on the border between Afghanistan and Pakistan are causing a massive humanitarian emergency, Pakistani officials claimed after a new attack yesterday killed 13 people, according to the Times. The dead and injured included foreign militants, but women and children were also killed when two missiles hit a house in the village of Data Khel, near the Afghan border, according to local officials. As many as 1 million people have fled their homes in the Tribal Areas to escape attacks by the unmanned spy planes as well as bombings by the Pakistani army. In Bajaur agency entire villages have been flattened by Pakistani troops under growing American pressure to act against Al-Qaeda militants, who have made the area their base. Kacha Garhi is one of 11 tented camps across Pakistan’s frontier province once used by Afghan refugees and now inhabited by hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis made homeless in their own land.

    So far 546,000 have registered as internally displaced people (IDPs) according to figures provided by Rabia Ali, spokesman for the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, and Maqbool Shah Roghani, administrator for IDPs at the Commission for Afghan Refugees. The commissioner’s office says there are thousands more unregistered people who have taken refuge with relatives and friends or who are in rented accommodation. Jamil Amjad, the commissioner in charge of the refugees, says the government is running short of resources to feed and shelter such large numbers. A fortnight ago two refugees were killed and six injured in clashes with police during protests over shortages of water, food and tents. On the road outside Kacha Garhi camp, eight-year-old Zafarullah and his little brother are among a number of children begging for coins and scraps. “I want to go back to my village and school,” he said. With the attacks increasing, refugees have little hope of returning home and conditions in the camps will worsen as summer approaches and the temperatures soar. Many have terrible stories. Baksha Zeb lost everything when his village, Anayat Kalay in Bajaur, was demolished by Pakistani forces. His eight-year-old son is a kidney patient needing dialysis and he has been left with no means to pay. “Our houses have been flattened, our cattle killed and our farms and crops destroyed,” he complained. “There is not a single structure in my village still standing. There is no way we can go back.” He sold his taxi to pay for food for his family and treatment for his son but the money has almost run out. “God bestowed me with a son after 15 years of marriage,” he said. “Now I have no job and I don’t know how we will survive.” Pakistani forces say they have killed 1,500 militants since launching anti-Taliban operations in Bajaur in August. Locals who fled claim that only civilians were killed. Zeb said he saw dozens of his friends and relatives killed. Villagers were forced to leave bodies unburied as they fled. Pakistani officials say drone attacks have been stepped up since President Barack Obama took office in Washington, killing at least 81 people….

  2. Posted by: “Richard Frager” science@zzz.com

    Wed Apr 8, 2009 5:24 am (PDT)

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk:80/news/worldnews/northamerica/usa/barackobama/5110918/Barack-Obama-goes-ahead-with-missile-defence-shield-despite-disarmament-pledge.html

    Obama Goes Ahead With Missile Defense
    Shield Despite Disarmament Pledge

    The United States would continue to develop a missile defence shield until Iran abandoned its nuclear ambitions, President Barack Obama said in the Czech Republic.

    by Toby Harnden and Bruno Waterfield

    “As long as the threat from Iran persists, we will go forward with a missile defence system that is cost-effective and proven,” he told a crowd of about 20,000 gathered in Hradcany Square, next to Prague Castle. “Iran’s nuclear and ballistic missile activity poses a real threat, not just to the United States, but to Iran’s neighbours and our allies.”He hailed the “courageous” Czech Republic and Poland for “agreeing to host a defence against these missiles”. Russia is strongly opposed to radar stations for a missile defence shield being established in countries that it still regarded as within its sphere of influence. But Mr Obama also spoke of the potential for a rapprochement with Iran that would remove the need for such a system. “If the Iranian threat is eliminated, we will have a stronger basis for security, and the driving force for missile defence construction in Europe will be removed.” Tehran, he said, had a choice. “We want Iran to take its rightful place in the community of nations, politically and economically. We will support Iran’s right to peaceful nuclear energy with rigorous inspections. That is a path that the Islamic Republic can take.” The centrepiece of Mr Obama’s speech was a declaration that because the United States had dropped two atom bombs on Japan in 1945 it had a “moral responsibility” to work towards securing “a world without nuclear weapons”.

    He said nuclear weapons were the “most dangerous legacy of the Cold War” and the risk of a nuclear attack had never been greater because “terrorists are determined to buy, build or steal one”. The crowd enthusiastically cheered the more idealistic parts of Mr Obama’s speech but was relatively subdued when he spoke about his backing for missile defence. Petr Sramek, 33, was among those disappointed that Mr Obama had not dropped a policy that was opposed by more than two thirds of Czechs. “I really liked the clear message on nuclear disarmament but I am against the missile defence system. It is more about geopolitical influence then defence against missiles.” Arena Protivinska, 30, described herself as a “big fan” of Mr Obama but accused him of “hypocrisy” for urging world peace while also pushing forward with the missile shield.

    “He sounded like George W Bush saying that we should be afraid in order to justify missile defence.” Speaking in a city chosen for the symbolism of its peaceful toppling of communism through the Velvet Revolution of 1989, Mr Obama denounced “fatalism” over nuclear proliferation and said he would lead a global effort to reduce and eventually eliminate nuclear weapons. “As the only nuclear power to have used a nuclear weapon, the United States has a moral responsibility to act,” he said. “We cannot succeed in this endeavour alone, but we can lead it.

    “So today, I state clearly and with conviction America’s commitment and desire to seek the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons.” Mr Obama called for a reduction of the role of nuclear weapons in American national security strategy. He wanted to negotiate a new strategic arms reduction treaty with Russia – to which Moscow agreed in principle last week – and was seeking a treaty to end the production of fissile materials used in nuclear weapons. He also announced that the US would host a global summit on nuclear security next year and that he would work to ratify the nuclear Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty, which was signed by former President Bill Clinton in 1999 but rejected by the US Senate.

    He strongly condemned North Korea over its rocket launch, which came hours before his speech. He said Pyongyang had to be called to account. “This provocation underscores the need for action, not just at the UN Security Council, but in our determination to prevent the spread of these weapons,” he said. “Rules must be binding, violations must be punished, words must mean something. The world must stand together to prevent the spread of these weapons. Now is the time for a strong international response.” Mr Obama’s reference to the atom bombs that were dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, killing as many as 220,000, was part of his effort to rebuild bridges with the world by promising, as he said in Strasbourg, “to listen to learn and to learn” and to acknowledge American failings. Gary Samore, a White House adviser on arms control, indicated that Mr Obama’s call for ridding the world of nuclear weapons should not be taken too literally. “In terms of a nuclear-free world, we recognise this is not a near-term possibility,” he said. Rather, the call was an attempt to “seize the moral high ground” in order to increase pressure on countries such as North Korea and Iran.

  3. http://www.counterpunch.org/scahill04092009.html

    April 9, 2009

    Billions More in War Spending
    How Many Democrats Will Stand Up Against Obama’s Bloated Military Budget?

    By JEREMY SCAHILL

    Much of the media attention this week on President Obama’s new military budget has put forward a false narrative wherein Obama is somehow taking his socialist/pacifist sledgehammer to the Pentagon’s war machine and blasting it to smithereens. Republicans have charged that Obama is endangering the country’s security, while the Democratic leadership has hailed it as the dawn of a new era in responsible spending priorities. Part of this narrative portrays Defense Secretary Robert Gates as standing up to the war industry, particularly military contractors.

    The reality is that all of this is false.

    Here is an undeniable fact: Obama is substantially increasing US military spending, by at least $21 billion from Bush-era levels, including a significant ratcheting up of Afghanistan war spending, as well as more money for unmanned attack drones, which are increasingly being used in attacks on Pakistan. (David Swanson over at AfterDowningStreet.org does a great job of breaking down some of the media coverage of this issue across the political spectrum).

    Obama’s budget of $534 billion to the Department of Defense “represents roughly a 4-percent increase over the $513 billion allocated to the Pentagon in FY2009 under the Bush administration, and $6.7 billion more than the outgoing administration’s projections for FY 2010,” bragged Lawrence Korb, author of the Center for American Progress’ report supporting Obama’s escalation of the war in Afghanistan, in an article called, ” Obama’s Defense Budget Is on Target.”

    Obama and his neoliberal think tankers clearly didn’t think much of Rep. Barney Frank’s call earlier this year to cut military spending by 25% to pay for urgently needed social programs and economic aid to struggling Americans. “To accomplish his goals of expanding health care and other important quality of life services without ballooning the deficit,” Frank said, Obama needed to reduce military spending. “If we do not get military spending under control, we will not be able to respond to important domestic needs.” Well, not only is overall military spending on the rise, but Obama is about to ask for billions more for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in a “supplemental” spending bill, the type which were staples in Bush’s campaign to mask of the full military budget and total cost of the wars. Obama could seek the funding as early as Thursday.

    Now, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that we may actually see some spine coming from Congress in standing up to Obama’s request for this additional $75.5 billion in war funds. The WSJ characterized the situation as one of “raising tensions” between Obama and some lawmakers opposed to the wars. It should be noted off-the-bat that the Congresspeople speaking out are, predictably, members of the usual suspects club and the Democratic leadership is probably at this moment sharing cocktails in the backroom with McCain and McConnell, but, nonetheless, it is worth examining what is being said:

    “I can’t imagine any way I’d vote for it,” said Rep. Lynn Woolsey, a California Democrat and leader in the 77-member congressional Progressive Caucus. It would be her first major break with this White House.

    Ms. Woolsey fears the president’s plan for Iraq would leave behind a big occupation force. She is also concerned about the planned escalation in Afghanistan. “I don’t think we should be going there,” she said.

    Similar sentiments echo across the House. Rep. Jim McGovern (D., Mass.) said he fears Afghanistan could become a quagmire. “I just have this sinking feeling that we’re getting deeper and deeper into a war that has no end,” he said.

    Rep. John Conyers (D., Mich.) dismissed Mr. Obama’s plans as “embarrassingly naive,” and suggested that the president is being led astray by those around him. “He’s the smartest man in American politics today,” Rep. Conyers said. “But he occasionally gets bad advice and makes mistakes. This is one of those instances.”

    Obama has vowed to break with the Bush-era tradition of seeking such supplementals to fund the war, saying that beginning in 2010 he will fund the wars as part of his overall budget. The anti-war caucus of Democrats is unlikely to have enough votes to block it given the increasingly overt pro-war nature of the Democratic leadership. And, as the WSJ notes, the funding bills are likely to pass “since many Republicans will support them.”

    An interesting point nestled half-way through the WSJ piece illustrates a point some antiwar activists have been making since Obama’s election — he is likely to win increased support from Democratic lawmakers for wars they may not have supported when Bush was in power:

    The president argues that Afghanistan has been neglected, allowing al Qaeda to regroup and exposing the U.S. to new dangers.

    Rep. John Larson (D., Conn.) suggests Democrats may be less inclined to joust with the current White House on the issue than they were with former President George W. Bush. “We have somebody that Democrats feel will level with them,” said Mr. Larson, the House’s fourth-ranking Democrat.

    This truly is one of the most important trends to watch with the Obama presidency, particularly as it relates to war policy. Obama is in a position to greatly advance the interests of empire, precisely because he is able to build much wider support for policies that are essentially a continuation of those implemented by Bush.

    Jeremy Scahill, an independent journalist who reports frequently for the national radio and TV program Democracy Now, has spent extensive time reporting from Iraq and Yugoslavia. He is currently a Puffin Writing Fellow at The Nation Institute. Scahill is the author of Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army.His new website is RebelReports.com

  4. Democrat attacks military jet spend

    US: A key Democrat in the House of Representatives has criticised fiscal conservatives for approving millions of dollars for an outdated weapon system while complaining about ballooning deficits.

    House Financial Services Committee chairman Barney Frank filed an amendment on Monday night to drop the £223m approved last week to fund a dozen radar-evading jets.

    Mr Frank said: “I’m struck that so many of my colleagues worried about the deficit apparently think the Pentagon is funded by Monopoly money that somehow doesn’t count.”

    http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/index.php/world/world_in_brief__59

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