Obama and the Search for Audacity

Like too many of our presidents, Obama entered the White House with little experience in national security and limited knowledge of the decision

makers in previous administrations.  Obama correctly perceived the Iraq War as the “wrong war,” but he misperceived the Afghan War as the “good war.”  He soon realized that both wars were hurting U.S. interests and that his national security team—Obama’s team—would not stand up to the Pentagon’s powerful military commanders.  He should have followed his vice president, Joe Biden, who warned that Secretary of Defense Gates and his senior military commanders would do their best to “box in” a new president in 2009 in order to put more forces in Afghanistan.

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More Bloat For Bloated Defense Spending

The justification for additional defense spending is reminiscent of traditional Cold War justifications.  The Senate’s defense authorization act even empowers the Pentagon to establish a “strategic competition initiative” for the U.S. African Command, which would lead to an expanded U.S. military presence in Africa.  The United States has already trained leaders of coups in Mali and Guinea, and provided aid to repressive regimes in Uganda and Niger.  The Pentagon can’t even provide an accurate inventory of the military equipment it has provided to African countries.

American Exceptionalism: Our Gun Culture at Home and Abroad

There is an insidious and unspoken connection between our gun culture at home and abroad.  U.S. politicians and pundits believe that huge defense budgets provide international security for the United States, and many Americans believe that personal weapons provide safety at home.  We don’t question the use of deadly weaponry in unnecessary wars overseas; Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan are the most recent examples.  At home, there are more guns than people — 120 guns for every 100 people.  The United States is exceptional because some of the same weapons designed for war are available to teenagers fighting their personal demons.

Containing the National Security State

Containing the National Security State