(Source Graphic: Andy Blumenthal)
The United States is ranked as the most powerful country in the world:
But the U.S. spends more than the next 7-8 countries COMBINED!(See below chart from Forbes 2016)
In fact, military spending is more than half of all U.S. federal discretionary spending.
So the question is why are we spending so much more than everybody else, is the United States getting its money’s worth, and most importantly are we able to defend ourselves?
The U.S. defense budget is going up and has been approved at $717B for 2019.
All the other 28 NATO countries together spend less than half ($296B) as much as the U.S. alone.
If you add NATO spending as a complement to the U.S. then the total spend on our mutual defense approaches $1 trillion!
Russia ($69B) China ($146B), North Korea ($6B), and Iran’s ($16B) military spending in total pales in comparison at just $237B.
NATO as a whole is outspending Russia + China + North Korea + Iran by a factor of 4 times yet these countries are still considered major threats to us!
Despite all the truly incredible brave, hard working, and excellent men and women that serve with distinction in our military,
Therefore, again why is it that the U.S. is spending more on what others seem to get for cheaper? Is there significant fraud, waste, and abuse in the system? Are we as a rich capitalistic nation simply getting fat, lazy, and stupid?
Notwithstanding the outsized spending by the United States, incredibly from today’s Wall Street Journal, there is another article about our inability to defend ourselves:
“These are admissions that the U.S. cannot proportionally and equally defend itself in space, cyber, and response to tactical and nuclear weapons except through the threat of escalation and intrusion into other domains.”
Some poignant examples given:
– Our stationary land-based nuclear missiles are no match for Russia and China’s mobile-based ICBMs.
– Our ten busiest U.S. ports do not have an adequate defense against an underwater nuclear missile launch.
China and Russia variously are beating us out in:
- Quantum Communications
- Anti-Satellite Weapons
- Directed Energy
In fact, it was just reported that China conducted its 8th hypersonic test of a plane–with this one said to capable of Mach 10–and that it is capable of carrying nukes!
Further, our carrier group fleet and land forces are at risk with respect to Russia and China’s hypersonic weapons.
Of course, EMP weapons can fry our electrical grid and a large cyber attack could disable our critical infrastructure.
Let’s not even talk bioweapons–think Black Plague from the Middle Ages that wiped out 30-60% of Europe.
Yes, some of these are asymmetric warfare, but why are we still thinking and fighting so kinetic and conventionally.
If we are fighting the wars of yesteryear instead of the battles of today and the threats of tomorrow then what good is our military investments and assets.
To become a more capable fighting force that is less vulnerable, more capable of defending this country, and making better use of our large investment dollars here are 10-steps we need to take to transform our military; we need to transition as follows:
- From static land-based nuclear missiles to a fully mobile platform.
- From vulnerable fleets of large ships and planes to “unstoppable” swarms of miniaturized lethal drones.
- From a preponderance of earth-based kinetic weapons to space-based energy directed weapons.
- From having to generally choose between speed or power to using the power of speed as an “unstoppable” force of nature.
- From projecting a time and space bound visible presence to a persistent invisible existence.
- From attempting to defend limited points of presence to establishing a “impenetrable” umbrella shield of multi-layered defenses.
- From reactively identifying and stopping cyber threats to proactively hunting and destroying them.
- From knee-jerk instinctive putting of human lives in harm’s way to matter-of-factly sending milbots (military robots) to the front lines.
- From relying on the heroics and genius of individual human brainpower to harnessing in realtime “the collective” augmented by artificial intelligence into a hive.
- From relying on escalation of a “bigger, badder gun” to being able to fight capably in every battle arena, win in each and dominate holistically.
Over $700B per year should buy us a lot of defense, hopefully in the future we can really use it to defend ourselves. 😉
So I like this quote by Carl von Clausewitz:
“War is an extension of politics by other means.”
There is diplomacy and then there is war!
– Diplomacy is soft power–talking, persuading, negotiating, and compromise.
– War is hard power–fighting/combat using kinetic or cyber-based means.
When diplomacy fails, then war is what’s left to compel the enemy to come around to your way of thinking and do your will.
As they say, there’s the easy way or the hard way–that’s the dual before the duel.
Either way it gets to resolution. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So here we go again into our politicians pants to uncover every locker-room lewd remark they have made.
The problem is that we are losing all common sense and perspective.
When we are focusing almost exclusively at this point on getting that next verbal sexual gotcha on a hot mic from people running for office, instead of on what they’ve actually done (good and bad) in their lives, then we are being lead astray by powerful elites fighting for and to keep the power they most greedily worship.
Words do have meaning, don’t get me wrong, especially when we hurt someone with them or when they demonstrate true moral lapses in the person.
But when words are taken out of context, exaggerated, or dug up from decades ago just to sling dirt then we have a powerful political machine that is working to hurt and not help our political process.
What’s even worse is that we are becoming the laughing stock in the world in the process of the mud fest.
An article yesterday in China mocks the chaotic U.S. political system as a highly flawed “political show.”
If we and the media remain gripped in people’s political pants here, then the real and potentially catastrophic issues will continue to not be on the table or our lips.
The effect is that rather than being able to effect positive change at home and in the world, we are heads down in the sand, as for example:
– Cyberwarfare is now being considered an existential threat, even as our democratic elections themselves are under attack by the latests hacks from Guccifer 2.0 and DC Leaks.
– Our national debt has increased $9 trillion (almost doubled) in the last 8 years and is threatening key pillars of our social entitlement system, including social security and medicare.
– The global economy is on the rocks as the impact from easy credit sputters and future growth is stunted.
As these and other risks increase to the U.S., our leadership remains in a narcissistic fugue with their desire for power and sham legacies, and politics have become grotesquely about killing off the opposition by actual death or by a thousand cuts of verbal mutilation.
Sex sells and has us mesmerized, but we are missing out on all the real world drama, danger, and any meaningful dialogue. 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So I have never ever heard so much talk about doomsday as I am these days.
Earlier in the year (January 2015) the Doomsday Clock moved up to 3 minutes to midnight–that was a full 2 minute move or 40% advance to the end of times.
The cited reasons by the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists:
– “Unchecked climate change”
– “Nuclear arms race”
Essentially, these “pose extraordinary and undeniable threats to the continued existence of humanity.”
But on a daily level now–
Islamic extremism showing through post 9/11 mounting turmoil and unbelievable terror in the Middle East, including seeming non-ending ISIS brutality, Iran’s march towards nuclear weapons and advanced ballistic missiles, the Sunni vs. Shiite war for dominion centering (lately) in Syria, Iraq, and Yemen but with much larger geopolitcal overtones towards a return of a powerful caliphate to challenge the West, fighting between Muslims and Christians in countries like Nigeria, ongoing terror threats to the democratic State of Israel, and a rising tide death, casualties, and refugees.
Russian aggression in multiple countries and regions including Georgia, Ukraine, and Syria, air and naval military incursions and encroachment towards Turkey, the countries in the Baltic Sea region, the Arctic, and even a Russian military satellite parking itself between 2 U.S. satellites yesterday.
China’s militarization including greater military spending on advanced weapons, Island/posts building in the South China Sea, and ongoing threatening overtures toward Taiwan and other neighbors, and cyber warfare conducted against the U.S.government and the private sector.
Frightening new military capabilities are coming online with advances in weapons of mass destruction–nuclear, chemical, biological, and radiological–colonization and militarization of space, laser weapons, satellite killers, swarms of drones, armies of robots, and cyberwar.
The drumbeat of climate change and environmental deterioration (unsustainable practices of deforestation, overfishing, pollution, and the extinction of countless species) is being felt in changing weather patterns, global warming, glacier meltdown, alternating threats of flooding and drought in various part of the world, major storms and lightening patterns, and an uptick in natural disasters (tsunamis, hurricanes, and tornadoes), and an overall trend towards shortage and conflict.
An ailing global economy after 2 major recessions in the 21st century so far, booming national debts, stalling economies, slowing innovation, and scarcity of stable, good paying, full time jobs in an outsourcing, short-term, freelance, contractor culture, and automaton and robotization advances.
Dysfunctional political systems that are bogged down with endless indecision, infighting, bickering, finger-pointing, stalemates, shutdowns, pork barrel spending, catering to special interest groups, short-term wins at the expense of long-term goals, corruption, and a lack of strong capable leadership at the helm.
An article I read recently from Russian Times, I believe, said how the U.S. teeters just steps from potential collapse by just relatively easy societal interruptions (presumably that they could facilitate) and that with farms/food production far from major metropolitan areas, people hooked on drugs that they could not get supplies for, and other severe disruptions in our critical care needs, we would be in big trouble–the message was clearly watch out, you are extremely vulnerable.
That these tactic threats and overtures are already being made explicit is not a good sign. Just politicians and countries throwing around their weight or jockeying for position on the world stage–who knows?
But people are frail, countries are vulnerable, budgets are limited, and bad things can and do happen if we are not careful in a world ticking closer to very dangerous times and events.
The coming realization of the prophecy of a devastating world war–of Gog and Magog–is what people are saying to me.
In conversation about deteriorating world events, my wife innocently asked someone this week–“Can we avoid a major world war?” Their unequivocal response, “No, it’s inevitable!” 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
So, maybe one of the most detrimental hysts of information from the Federal government in history.
Now involving over 18 million current and former federal employees, including military and intelligence personnel.
No getting around it, but we are major screwed here–this is a treasure trove of personal and privacy information ready to use for identity theft, blackmail, assassination/decapitation attacks at home and work addresses, kidnapping of family members, and literally attacking our national security apparatus from the very inside out–it’s people.
Imagine, if at the time of its choosing, an adversary attacks our nation, but preempts this with sophisticated and coordinated attacks on our critical government personnel–generals, spy masters, political kingpins, and other key decision makers–thereby distracting them from their duties of safeguarding our nation.
This is our new Achilles Heel and overall a security disaster bar none!
Well, we can’t go back and put the genie back in the bottle–although wouldn’t it be nice if such critical information (if not encrypted–already unforgivable) would have a self-destruct mechanism on it that we could at least zap it dead.
But for the people whose personal identities are at risk–whose social security numbers (SSNs) and dates of birth (DOBs) have been compromised what can we do?
While we can’t very well change people DOBs, why not at least issue them new SSNs to help thwart the adversaries peddling in this information in the black markets.
If we can put a man on the moon, surely we can issue some 18 million new SSNs and mandate government and financial institutions to make the necessary updates to the records.
This is not rocket science, and certainly we owe this much to our people to help protect them.
Will our government be there for it’s own employees and patriots? 😉
(Source Photo: here with attribution to Donkey Hotey)
The Chinese are smart and talented, and there is a cyberwar going on.
They are suspected are having just stolen the personnel information of 4 million federal government workers.
And there are 4.2 million active, including 1.5 million military personnel.
So if as they are apt to say, “people are our greatest asset”…
…then we just sort of lost the CROWN JEWELS in terms of highly personal, sensitive, and critical information on the people that handle everything from defense and diplomacy to the economy, energy, the environment, justice, and health and wellbeing.
This is getting scary folks.
When the adversary through cyber (and other) espionage can know our people, our technology, our communications, virtually everything…then we got some big vulnerabilities!
If we can’t defend ourselves adequately (at least for now), I hope at least we are doing okay on the offense! 😉
(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
Just wanted to share this short video captured of vintage fighter planes flying over the Washington Monument in D.C. on Friday, May 8.
This was in commemoration of 70th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.
My father (A’H) used to tell me about when he was in England during the war and the Nazi bombers would fly over and carpet bomb them in a blitzkrieg.
This happened night after night, and so adaptive as people are, they sort of got used to the bombardment, if that is possible to say.
After a while, instead of taking safety behind closed doors at home, people returned to go to the movies and dancing at night, even while the buildings next door were still being blown up–to the right and the left of them.
In the morning, those who survived would get up, and see what was knocked down and what still standing.
Hard to imagine living that way!
Now with new more destructive weapons (WMD, ICBMs, EMPs, etc.), we can only imagine that the destructive aftermath of WW II would be nothing in comparison to what a round III would be like.
It is crucial that we maintain our innovativeness and military superiority and not only offensively to defeat the enemy, but defensively so that we can stop whatever is coming at us whether a dirty bomb in suitcase, an ebola-type virus in an infected person or food, a drone carrying anthrax, or malware over the network.
We have come a long way in the last 70 years technologically, but the risk and stakes have also never been higher. 😉
(Source Video: Minna Blumenthal)