The Death of Osama Bin Laden at the Hands of US navy seals affords a once in a lifetime opportunity to US president Barack Obama. Public opinion in the country, as charecterized by the sense of closure and Jubilation felt by crowds on the lawns of the white house and at Ground Zero is never more favorable to this.
I am not Naive. I live in the real world. I do know that this “operation” was probably offerred to this president at this time (they were watching Bin Laden’s suspected compound for four years) mostly because , with Budget cuts looming large over the US millitary, the Holy Cow (like Kamadhenu of hindu mythology) threw up gifts to ensure its self preservation. Im not complaining. Barack will probably be reelected, and the Tea party will be forgotten (and hopefully so will Sarah Palin).
If a 21st century US president had ONE opportunity to convert his ENORMOUS war fighting Machine (by which I mean every aspect of the state security apparatus, including the spies at AT& T who record my phone calls and the LA SWAT teams that kill poor black kids holding a banana) into a more effective and lean force based on technologies and weapons NOT from the cold war era, (and in the process cut about three quarter of a trillion dollars annually in wasteful defense spending) , NOW is that time. let me explain .
Almost ALL of the world’s armies are burdened with trillions of dollars of wasted equipment and obsolete technology. If we drew a cutoff at 1975(pre nixon) technologies, the cost of keeping and maintaining those ALONE would run , in men and materials to hundereds of billions of dollars annualy. now think about this, if you had an 1970 GE fridge , would it make sense to keep it and hire a full time technician to take care of it? yet this is the state of affairs in the US armed forces. If this is bad here, its MUCH worse internationally. with the pace of technology as it is today, it can safely be said that about 9 in 10 pieces of millitary hardware internationally(including in such worthies as Russia, India and China) is either hopelessly Obsolete or completely unservicable.
So why the upkeep? one simple reason. these serve as symbolic deterrence. It’s like a lock on a door is easily broken, but its existence deters people from trying to break in. Well this seems to have cancered into a trillion dollars annual deterrence, raising the question, ” is there a better way to do this”.
Apart from Sattilite based and Internet communications (of which digital spying is only a single facet) the advances post 1990 in technology as applied to everyday life has been humongous. Materials have become lighter, Computers more intelligent and faster, A car today , purchased at a used car lot has more high tech than a 1970s james bond vehicle. I am not arguing that obsolescence alone is the problem . the interoperability of battle systems is getting more and more integrated and as civilians are drawn into the dragnet of military technology(the military tech fills a vacuum in civilian laws. there are no laws regulating privacy from your own national security apparatus. ) it becomes easier to distribute processing and make more synergistic use of technology and resources. The Many can be replaced , at least with some caveats, by the few. Do a productivity leap.Greenspan oversaw it for the economy in the i1990s.
Reduce Global footprint
The US (or any nation with 1990’s technology in its military) does not need to have so much hardware sitting in Qatar and Kazakstan to project power. much of the fighting (bomb dropping fighting and Intelligence gathering and analyzing fighting) can be done with most people stationed in Missouri or California. Thus, unless the deployments are for surgical strategic objectives , or a plain naked exersice in class warfare , to humiliate your fighting men to show them they should not grow soft, There is little need for US troops in unnecessary or geopolitically not significant parts of the world. I recommend you draw up a list of countries where US should get the hell out of dodge and close those international bases. The (Isreali/British) model that says you must humiliate people in order to dominate them is costly and counterproductive, and brings out the worst in abuse and corruption in the US. Abjure.
What the US should spend fresh money on:
1. Light but very effective footprints in the world. this may be Intelligence, High tech weapons, Integration of Systems or research (remember when the Military research was considered a good thing in the US? even the Soviets smiled at research from JPL and MIT).
2. Doing more with less , and a visible draw down of the soviet style occupation/ Speechifying. This can ONLY be done now and with this president. if this opportunity is lost, its gone forever. you have failed to stop a Nazi style Millitary Industrial complex in the US. Those demand sacrifices of men money and resources.
3. Winning the war against terror, by recognizing that part of the terror is created by your own security establishment. for every libya, there is one Saudi Arabia. for every Rwandan genocide, there is a US caused and sponsored Indonesian Genocide. These are distractions from real global security.
4. Out thinking China. The Cold war against China will be won ONLY by outthinking it to NOT fighting wars. (that’s how India managed to have china , in 3000 years, never “unify India or tibet into one of china’s kingdoms) . China can NEVER catch up to US millitary technology even if they seem to be getting disproportionalte respect from the US millitary).
If all this above does not happen, The Alternate universe of course, is that defense companies run the US millitary Budget , and carve out corners in the Pentagon, Private contractors do all the Special operations work for US “Interests” which are global companies based in the US, to whom the American Government is but one of many, and a perpetual Gun to The US economy’s head from High oil and mineral prices.