Some crisis links (11.17.2008)

It appears that the Pentagon, our Messiah and an institution which occupies a place beyond criticism and responsibility, wants to bankrupt America. How else are we to interpret this passage by Bernard Finel in the DefenseNews (via Talking Points Memo)?

The uniformed services are trying to lock in the next administration by creating a political cost for holding the line on defense spending. Conservative groups are hoping to ramp up defense spending as a tool to limit options for a Democratic Congress and president to pass new, and potentially costly, social programs, including health care reform.

They also like the idea of creating an unrealistically high baseline of expectations for defense spending that will allow them to claim President Obama has cut defense spending.

To be sure, President Obama does not intend to cut defense spending. The author then rightly points out that:

Promoting overspending on defense in order to forestall popular social spending is undemocratic — it creates a false tension between national security and other public policy goals.

The informal alliance between the services and conservative think tanks threatens to further politicize the military. The abuse of national security arguments to win political arguments is both morally suspect and threatens the security of the nation by delinking strategic assessment from public policy.

Ultimately, the most dangerous aspect of this development is the threat posed to civil-military relations.

One quibble: Finel also could have included the mortal threat an autonomous and irresponsible military apparatus poses to America's liberal-democratic institutions and, obviously, to its way of life.

The New York Times reports on the fiscal catastrophes most states are now confronting. Revenue shortfalls and tight credit share in the blame for these problems. Yet, the obvious solution is not on the table: "In most states, budget directors and legislators have said that tax increases are not likely." The Times previously doubted the ability of the federal and state governments to provide for the downwardly mobile and the impoverished (the link via Naked Capitalism).

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