An estimated $6 billion was spent on the November 7 U.S. federal elections – $2.5 billion on the two major parties’ presidential campaigns alone, $1 billion of that on television ads – and Americans woke up the following morning to discover that nothing had changed. Sadder perhaps if no wiser.
The White House and the Senate remained in the hands of the Democratic Party and the House of Representatives under Republican control. Built-in structural stalemate will continue, with no substantive legislation passed for four more years, surely none beneficial to the American people or to world peace, each party blaming the other for the lack of results. Onward to the next six-billion – or ten-billion – dollar election.
In the closing words of William Thackeray’s 19th-century novel Vanity Fair, “come, children, let us shut up the box and the puppets, for our play is played out.”
History’s most expensive Punch and Judy show completed, domestic and foreign policy affairs will remain as they are. In fact will grow worse. Especially the second.
Mere hours after Barack Obama’s victory speech in Chicago, an American drone-launched missile killed three people outside the capital of Yemen, adding to a hecatomb of over 3,000 drone killings in that nation, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Somalia and Libya since Obama entered the White House in January of 2009. His re-election will be interpreted as a mandate to continue and escalate such attacks. Yet more Predator and Reaper unmanned aerial vehicles will be prowling the sky over the Greater Missile East, firing deadly Hellfire missiles at defenseless victims.
In the three televised debates between Obama and his challenger Mitt Romney, the president repeatedly accused his opponent of wanting “to spend $2 trillion on additional military programs, even though the military’s not asking for them,” although he didn’t hint at spending even a penny less than the Pentagon demands. The Defense Department’s base budget for next year is $520 billion, over $1,700 for every citizen.
Last year’s military spending, $711 billion with the base budget and Afghanistan and Iraq wars add-ons, was the highest in constant dollars since World War II. The U.S. and its allies in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization spent over $1 trillion on their defense budgets, approximately 70 percent of world military expenditures in 2011.
With the onerous constraints placed on third-party candidates’ ability to get on the ballot and to gain exposure in the commercial news media, including the presidential and vice presidential debates, only one perspective is provided to the public: That of the Pentagon war machine.
A military colossus that is almost daily expanding its presence through the building of military partnerships and the acquisition of bases around the world and beyond Earth into space.
In the months preceding the presidential election the U.S. moved an X-band transportable missile radar battery into Turkey under the auspices of the Obama administration’s European Phased Adaptive Approach missile interception program, cloaked under unconscionable euphemisms like missile defense and missile shield, though in fact the initial implementation of the Ronald Reagan administration’s so-called Strategic Defense Initiative, in popular parlance Star Wars.
The interceptor missile program was endorsed and adopted by NATO at its summit in Portugal two years ago and was announced to have achieved initial capacity at the NATO summit in Chicago this May. It will include the deployment of 48 increasingly longer-range, higher-velocity and more lethal land-based versions of the Standard Missile-3 interceptor to Romania and Poland and the permanent stationing of U.S. Aegis class warships – cruisers and destroyers – equipped with the same missiles to the Mediterranean Sea and eventually to other seas like the Black, Baltic, Barents and Norwegian.
Last month U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Spanish Defense Minister Pedro Morenes signed an agreement at NATO headquarters in Brussels to allow the stationing of four U.S. Aegis destroyers at the Naval Station Rota in Spain.
Recent reports detail plans for the U.S. to move Army Navy/Transportable Radar Surveillance – Model 2 (x-band radar) systems into the Persian Gulf (where the U.S. is selling Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] missile batteries to the United Arab Emirates, Kuwait and other local monarchies) and the Philippines and perhaps elsewhere in Southeastern Asia as components of what major Russian and Chinese officials have correctly denounced as Washington’s global interceptor missile system.
Late last month the Pentagon’s Missile Defense Agency conducted what it described as the “largest, most complex missile defense flight test ever attempted” at the Ronald Reagan Ballistic Missile Defense Test Site in the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands and the Hickam Air Force Base in Hawaii, “resulting in the simultaneous engagement of five ballistic missile and cruise missile targets.”
The tests incorporated the triad of American interceptor missile systems: Aegis Ballistic Missile Defense with sea-based Standard Missile-3s, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 and Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (with x-band radar) assets.
On November 12, two days before Israel launched the Operation Pillar of Defense attack on the Gaza Strip, the three-week-long Austere Challenge 12 interceptor missile exercises held by the U.S. and Israel in the latter nation ended. The largest-ever joint war games, with 3,500 American and 1,000 Israeli military personnel involved, tested the Israeli Iron Dome, David’s Sling and Arrow territorial and the longer-range U.S. Patriot and Standard Missile-3 interceptor systems.
On November 14 the Pentagon’s website reported that while in Australia for this year’s annual Australia-U.S. Ministerial Meeting, Defense Secretary Panetta met one-on-one with his Australian counterpart, Defense Minister Stephen Smith, and the two reached an agreement to transfer “two key space systems” from the Western Hemisphere to Australia. They are a U.S. Air Force C-band space surveillance radar currently based in Antigua in the West Indies and a space surveillance telescope designed and built by the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) that is now located in New Mexico.
U.S. missile interception and space war assets are being deployed to Eastern Europe, the Mediterranean Sea, the Persian Gulf and the Asia-Pacific region to consolidate a global network of first-strike and counter-retaliation capabilities that will be employed for purposes of political blackmail and, in the worst case scenario, for offensive warfare of a dangerous nature never witnessed before.
Barring effective organizing to prevent it, the next four years will not be generous to the cause of world peace and disarmament.