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Jan 6, 2012

Obama slashes military spending, focuses on Asia

Crikey media wrap: Barack Obama has announced hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to US military spending over the next ten years and a renewed focus towards Asia and the Pacific region in a rare appearance in the Pentagon briefing room.

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Barack Obama announced hundreds of billions of dollars of cuts to US military spending over the next ten years and a renewed focus towards Asia and the Pacific region on Thursday, the result of a “defence strategic review” which aims to scale back the propensity for American engagement in large-scale nation building missions (read: invasions) in the face of the county’s disastrous debt problems.

Making a rare appearance in the Pentagon briefing room, Obama’s pledged to reduce the US army, now around 570,000 people, to around 490,000. Releasing an eight-page strategy document outlining his vision, the President also pledged to invest in intelligence gathering, cyberwarfare and countering — without articulating how — the proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Flanked by Defence Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, Obama was careful to reinstate America’s military credentials.

“Our military will be leaner,” he said, “but the world must know the United States is going to maintain our military superiority.”

Predicting criticism about leaving the US ill-prepared for large scale responses — citing WWII and Vietnam as examples —  Obama vowed: “As commander-in-chief, I will not let that happen again. Not on my watch.”

Naturally reactions from the commentariat have been many and varied, accentuated by the fact that this announcement takes place at the beginning of an election year.

The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin, livid, wrote:

The voters can decide whether it is wise, when the number of threats is proliferating and when Obama refuses to clamp down on domestic spending, for him to sacrifice national security in order to make his fiscal record look less horrendous than it is.

Kieran Lalor from New York Daily News expressed concern for the thousands of jobs to be lost in NY and used the occasion to join the chorus criticising Obama’s economic cred:

Our elected representatives talk about the need for jobs, yet few have spoken up to protect New York’s defense workers from the chopping block. The massive defense cuts proposed by the Obama administration coupled with the mandatory defense cuts resulting from the failure of the debt supercommittee will put all Americans at greater risk and have a devastating impact on the economy of the Empire State.

KT McFarland at Fox News was outraged about Obama’s choice of timing and the location of his announcement. She sprayed:

Whose bright idea was it for the President of the United States to unveil his defense budget cuts [on] the cusp of a crisis with Iran and in the Pentagon’s briefing room? — What were they thinking?

Perhaps they think it makes President Obama look like a tough commander in chief to announce he’s slashing the defense budget with the victims standing right behind him.

Republicans across American predictably responded with outrage, Rep. Randy Forbes one of many:

Unfortunately, this review dangerously fails to identify risks assumed by drastic budget cuts. This laundry list of vague ‘priorities’ is not a strategy for superiority. It is instead a menu for mediocrity.

Yochi J. Dreazen from National Journal took a middle of the road approach and predicted an onslaught of vitriol from front-running Republican presidential candidate nominee Mitt Romney, who sings from a very different hymn sheet:

Talk of reducing the size of the nation’s ground forces is likewise sparking fierce GOP criticism on Capitol Hill and from leading Republican presidential candidates like Mitt Romney, who has said – without specifying how he’d pay for it – that he’d expand the forces instead.

Not all the responses have been negative. David Rothkopf at Foreign Policy, in fact, called for greater cuts:

Frankly, I think the cuts are far too small and the U.S. can go much further without materially impacting our status as the world’s sole and uncontested superpower. As the president notes, even with these cuts we will still be spending vastly more than every major military power in the world combined.

Luke Buckmaster —

Luke Buckmaster

Writer, Critic and The Daily Review Journalist

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15 thoughts on “Obama slashes military spending, focuses on Asia

  1. Archer

    Have a look at this chart and see exactly how much oil the U.S. imports from the middle east, specifically Iraq and Libya. As we say, sweet F.A.

    America gets most of its oil from Canada and less than 1% from Libya.

    So the idea is to secure supply, not to invade to take the natural resource.

    Secondly, the U.S. dependence on foreign oil has declined since 2005.
    49% of U.S. oil is imported from western countries, 23% Africa and 10% other. Only 18% comes from the Persian gulf.

    Oil does not only feed your car, it also produces:
    heating oil, jet fuel, chemical feedstocks, asphalt, plastics, food dies, flavorings and other products.

    Anyway, read about the U.S. situation in the article below and stop perpetuating this fairytale of the U.S. going for the rape and pillage. Contrary to what many may believe, the U.S. will not receive the lions share of oil leases in Iraq once the military is out. Many have been allocated to the usual suspects from Europe and one or two from Malaysia:


    P.S. You can’t and shouldn’t dictate to a person what type of car he or she would like to own. If you have a family of 6, appropriate cars are available. If you are single or d.i.n.k.’s there is a car for you. However, if you are fortunate enough to be able to afford a Ford GT 5.4l supercharged V8 or a Mercedes SL 65 AMG V12 good luck to you.

  2. GeeWizz

    [“Now compare those shemozzles to Libya, an operation Obama coordinated with competent allies under the banner of NATO, with UN support. Result = One toppled dictator. Cost to America so far = $1 billion.”]

    Utter Cr4p.

    Obama never coordinated the uprising of Libya it was an internal revolution.

    [“If there’s one lesson that neo-conservatives have failed to learn despite the overwhelming evidence, it’s the foolishness of engaging in unilateral military action without bringing in the European powers. Sure, it’s doable, but the results speak for themselves.”]

    If there is one lesson to be learnt is that it has nothing to do with the Europeans, the Eskimos or the price of tea in China.

    The lesson to be learnt is that when people in a country are ready, they will overthrow the brutal dictators that have surpressed them for so long. Thats when you roll in the bombers and fighter jets.

    Iraq would have in my view had uprisings just as we have seen in these other countries and that would have been the time to attack and bomb the cr4p out of the Iraqi Army.

    You can never force revolution upon people.. it just doesn’t work. North Korea will be up next… one day in the not to distant future the people of North Korea will get sick of being told they love their “dear leader(s)” and demand democracy… the question for the lefties then is what side of the fence will they sit on… the side of liberalism, liberty, democracy and freedom or the side of communist dictatorship.

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