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Thursday, August 25, 2011

Memo to the Media: Stop Ignoring ....

... Serious Policy Issues

The US pursues many policies in our names.

Lots of them deal with war.

War on crime.
War on drugs.
War on terrorism.

Believe it or not, the US military is involved in all of these.

And we spend a lot of money on all of them.

So, this is a story that should be getting some media attention (but it's not):

The Defense Department has just released its annual assessment of China’s military capabilities and development to Congress. The report is being covered in much of the media as a dire warning to the United States warning of the looming threat of Chinese military expansion.

The Hill notes that the report will be “fuel for congressional hawks — mostly Republicans in the House, who point to China as the main reason annual Defense Department budgets must continue to grow.” Politico quotes Rep. Buck McKeon (R-CA), whose most major campaign contributions come from the defense industry, saying that American security will be “jeopardized” by defense cuts in the wake of China’s military rise:
“China clearly believes that it can capitalize on the global financial crisis, using the United States’ economic uncertainty as a window of opportunity to strengthen China’s economic, diplomatic, and security interests,” said Rep. Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee and a leading opponent of deep defense spending cuts. “Security in the Pacific could be further jeopardized if our regional allies also come to believe that the United States will sacrifice the presence and capability of the US military in an attempt to control spending. This is an unacceptable outcome in such a vital region of the globe.”
What both the Hill and Politico fail to provide in their coverage of the Pentagon’s report and the right-wing response to it is any context about the relative levels of US and Chinese military spending. The US defense budget is six times as large as annual Chinese military spending. The following graphic from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute chronicling U.S. defense spending from 1989 to 2008 visualizes this:  

While it’s not unreasonable to discuss the growth of Chinese military spending and debate the US response, these discussions in the media should include the context of relative spending between the two countries to best serve readers.

While China’s military spending remains far eclipsed by that of the United States, there is one area where it is besting the United States: investing in clean energy. China invests twice as much money in clean energy as the United States, and for every dollar it spends on clean energy, it spends two to three dollars on defense. In the United States, every clean energy dollar is paired with 41 dollars of military spending

Oh, and then there is this, which ought to be important when politicians are SO CONCERNED about debt reduction:

Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmmm ....

1 comment:

  1. I am a proponent of having the strongest military, but you bring up a valid point. I believe that American infrastructure needs revitalizing. We need industry. We need to focus on clean energy. We need to focus on improving America. We have a lot of work to do here. We need to buy here in order to produce more jobs. We need to demand that our dependence on oil be decreased. We need to cut government waste.

    I was speaking with a former air marshal today. He spent about $36,000.00 in a year on motel stays on his assignments paid by taxpayers. This does not count the per diem that he received for food. Air marshals work in teams, so double that for the year, and you can see some amount of waste that goes into just one facet of the "War on Terror." It is just a drop in the bucket to what the military wastes.

    One of the problems that I see with the argument about China building their military is that we are giving them the money to do it. We have moved our factories to China providing their citizens with more income and their government with more tax money. We are also borrowing from China, so we are paying them interest. We are in fact building their military for them, then we are crying that we have to build our military to protect ourselves from them. Does this mean that we are going to borrow more money from them? It does not make sense.