Posts filed under “War/Defense”

Bartlett: To Cut Budget Deficit, Cut Defense

In the The Fiscal Times, Bruce Bartlett takes a well deserved swipe at the neocon deficit hawks who refuse to even consider cutting anything in the department:

“Establishment conservatives love to talk about the need to cut government spending, but they always seem to find an excuse whenever there is a serious effort to actually do it. Last year, for example, they opposed cutting Medicare as part of health care reform. Now they are banding together to stop cuts in defense spending, which is a fifth of the federal budget, even as they also insist that the deficit is our most critical problem.

This hypocrisy was on full display on Oct. 4, as American Enterprise Institute president Arthur Brooks, Heritage Foundation president Ed Feulner, and Weekly Standard editor Bill Kristol penned a joint op-ed for the right-wing Wall Street Journal editorial page on why the defense budget should be totally off limits to budget cutters.

First, they claim the military is not the “true source of our fiscal woes.” No one is saying the defense budget is the sole source of the deficit, but the fact is that it has risen from 3 percent of the gross domestic product in fiscal year 2001 to 4.7 percent this year. That additional 1.7 percent of GDP amounts to $250 billion in spending — almost 20 percent of this year’s budget deficit. And according to a recent Congressional Research Service report, the cost of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan alone accounted for 23 percent of the combined budget deficits between fiscal years 2003 and 2010.”

Born again deficit hawks are partisan hypocrites. Neocon deficit hawks are even worse, having been wrong about pretty much anything they’ve ever opined on. (If you bump into one, ask them what time it is — just to see if they can get anything right).  Many of the born again anti deficit folks were happy to pour trillions into a war of choice in Iraq, large unfunded tax cuts, and a huge entitlement program (like the prescription drug plan).

An interesting twist to the deficit debate is the media coverage of defense spending.It amounted to 69% of Total Federal Contract Spending, but received a tiny slice of news coverage from liberal New York Times, according to Pitch Interactive.

Note the bizarre juxtaposition: Domestic policy adviser to President Ronald Reagan and President George H.W. Bush Treasury official Bruce Bartlett is suggesting we consider Defense Department cuts to help balance the budget, while in 2009 the New York Times hardly covered the DoD relative Health Care, Energy, Housing, etc.

As previously discussed, your prior concept of Left Right politics are no longer operative . . .

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This graphic zooms in on the coverage:
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Previously:
The Left Right Paradigm is Over: Its You vs. Corporations (September 27th, 2010)

Source:
Neocons Talk Deficit but Won’t Budge on Defense Cuts
BRUCE BARTLETT
The Fiscal Times, October 08, 2010
http://www.thefiscaltimes.com/Issues/Budget-Impact/2010/10/08/Neocons-Talk-Deficit-but-Wont-Budge-on-Defense-Cuts.aspx

Category: Financial Press, Politics, War/Defense

War & Peace + Inflation + Secular Bull = Dow 38K ?

I mentioned this morning that Jeff Hirsch is the anti-Prechter — forecasting a wild $38K Dow in 2025. (Discussed this AM here, with Jeff’s full piece here) Jeff and I are in the same secular bear market camp; However, he argues that the current secular Bear market will end ~18 years after the last secular…Read More

Category: Cycles, Inflation, Investing, Psychology, Technical Analysis, War/Defense

9/11 Reflections

Each year, I try to avoid writing anything about 9/11. But I had some issues to work through this year, and I find jotting a few notes down helps me. My personal experience on 9/11 was secondhand. I was in the LI office of the firm where I was Market Strategist. Our HQ and trading…Read More

Category: Really, really bad calls, War/Defense

Tony Blair’s Journey

I have always been fascinated by the Tony Blair paradox. On the one hand, he seems like an intelligent, articulate, thoughtful politician (at least from NY).

On the other hand, he dragged Britain into George W. Bush’s ruinous war of choice in Iraq. Sold to the public — in both GB and the US — on false pretenses, it cost both nations a fortune in blood and treasure.

I am tempted to read his book, A Journey: My Political Life, if for no other reason than to find out why. Not that I expect honesty in any politician’s memoirs, but I am especially curious about this conundrum.

I am less than enthralled with Blair’sdiscussions on the financial crisis — at first glance, they seem to be hackneyed clichés. For the most part, he makes bad excuses. But worse, he doesn’t seem to understand what happened, didn’t see it coming, and is utterly lacking in economic insight.

All the usual excuses — “no one saw it coming, but it was not a failure of free markets” — are classic political after the fact excuse making. Expecting economic insight from any politician is like asking a prostitute for her insight into love: You are bound to be disappointed.

As to the war, consider this excerpt from the WSJ:

What is the nature of the threat? It does not derive from something we have done; there was no sense in which the West sought a confrontation. This is essential to the argument. The attacks of Sept. 11 came to most of our citizens as a shock that was utterly unforeseen. Countries like America and Britain were not singling out Muslims for unfair treatment; and insofar as Muslims were caught up in generalized racism towards those of a different race or color, such attitudes were on the way out, not the way in.

The extremism we fear is a strain within Islam. It is wholly contrary to the proper teaching of Islam, but it can’t be denied that its practitioners act with reference to their religion. I feel we too often shy away from this assertion, as if it stigmatizes all Muslims. But if it is true—and it is—it has to be faced, not just because it is true, but because otherwise we don’t analyze the problem or attain the solution properly. If it is a strain within Islam, the answer lies, in part at the very least, also within Islam. The eradication of that strain can be affected by what we outside Islam do; but it can only be actually eliminated by those within Islam.

Here is where the root of the problem lies. The extremists are small in number, but their narrative—which sees Islam as the victim of a scornful West externally, and an insufficiently religious leadership internally—has a far bigger hold. Indeed, such is the hold that much of the current political leadership feels impelled to go along with this narrative for fear of losing support.

This is a situation with practical consequences. Iraq and Afghanistan are seen as the West’s battles. With a few notable distinctions, this is not perceived as a struggle for the heart and soul of Islam. Yet the outcome is surely vastly determinative of such a struggle.

I have my criticisms of Israel and my ideas of to how to make progress. But leave aside for a moment the details of the peace process. As I started to spend more time in Palestine, I was surprised to find it is often easier to raise money for the “resistance” than to fund the patient but essential process of Palestinian state-building. Israel can and should do more to push forward the necessary changes on the ground—the West Bank and Gaza—that can underpin the peace process. However, it is also true that if the Palestinian cause gave up violence emphatically and without ambiguity, there would be a peace agreement within the year. Not enough voices in the Muslim world are asking them to.

It is America today that leads the challenge to Iran and its nuclear ambitions. But let us be frank: Iran is a far more immediate threat to its Arab neighbors than it is to America. It is of course a threat to us, too, but this is partly because of what a nuclear-armed Iran would mean for the Middle East, rather than as a direct threat.

The problem is this: Defeating the visible and terrifying manifestations of religious extremism is not enough. Indeed I would go further: This extremism won’t be defeated simply by focusing on the extremists alone. It is the narrative that has to be assailed. It has to be avowed, acknowledged; then taken on, inside and outside Islam. It should not be respected. It should be confronted, disagreed with, argued against on grounds of politics, security and religion.

Our people say, “How long are you seriously saying we should hold out?” If, in the 1950s, when faced with the threat of revolutionary Communism, I had asked you how long you expected us to fight it, you would have answered: As long as the threat exists. If I had said it may be for decades, you would have raised an eyebrow, as if to say: Well, if the threat remains for decades, what choice have we? In other words, you would have seen this as a clearly defined threat to our security that left us no alternative but to take it on and beat it. Of course, there were those who said “Better red than dead,” but that was surely one of the least appealing slogans to the human spirit ever devised, and only a minority bought it. Most people realized the threat was real and had to be confronted, however long it took.

The difficulty with this present battle lies in defining what “it” is. After Sept. 11 the phrase “the war on terror” was used. People distrusted this, partly for its directness, partly because it seemed too limited. So we dropped it. Yet if what we are fighting is not a war, what is it?”

The “Publisher’s comments” are after the jump:

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Category: Books, War/Defense

Mid-August Bullets

David R. Kotok Chairman and Chief Investment Officer Mid-August Bullets August 22, 2010 > Middle East geopolitics raise the fear quotient. The Obama administration’s response to Middle East tension remains a mixed message. Israel faces another “flotilla” plus the Iranian nuke threat. For Prime Minister Netanyahu, this is a two-front geopolitical war that can threaten…Read More

Category: Think Tank, War/Defense

Israel Window to Bomb Iraq Reactor Closed ?

Debka via UBS’ s Andy Lees (in London) by way of Art Cashin in NY: Geopolitics – Debka file reports that the announcement that Russia is set to activate Iran’s first nuclear power station by loading the fuel on August 21st has caused a major flap in Israel as it is reported that Russia has…Read More

Category: War/Defense

Cost of War

You know I am a sucker for these sorts of infographics: > Chart courtesy of NYT > Source: The War: A Trillion Can Be Cheap ELISABETH BUMILLER NYT, July 24, 2010 http://www.nytimes.com/2010/07/25/weekinreview/25bumiller.html

Category: Digital Media, War/Defense, Weekend

WaPo: Top Secret America

Huge investigative piece in the Washington Post into “A hidden world growing beyond control” — National Security Inc. — about the massive expansion of the private and government intelligence and counterterrorism activities. What was historically sensitive government-only activities has been outsourced to for-profit vendors, with a variety of problems associated with this: “To ensure that…Read More

Category: Digital Media, War/Defense

McChrystal’s Balls – Honorable Discharge

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
McChrystal’s Balls – Honorable Discharge
www.thedailyshow.com
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Tea Party

Category: Financial Press, Humor, Video, War/Defense

Missed Opportunity: BP Gulf of Mexico Disaster

One of my regular criticisms of George W. Bush as President was, when presented with an opportunity to achieve greatness, he repeatedly failed to rise to the occasion. Indeed, his presidency can be viewed as a long series of missed opportunities: “Once in a generation, the stars align for a political leader. There is this…Read More

Category: Bailouts, Energy, Politics, Really, really bad calls, Regulation, War/Defense