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Obama v. Military-Industrial Complex

Sunday, October 25, 2009

By Melvin A. Goodman
Consortium News


Editor’s Note: Thirty years since Ronald Reagan demanded a major expansion of the U.S. military and 20 years after the Cold War ended, the United States maintains a vast array of military bases and arms contractors costing hundreds of billions of dollars a year.

President Barack Obama has made a few tentative steps toward reining in what President Eisenhower dubbed the military-industrial complex, but he faces powerful interests that are determined to protect the status quo, as former CIA analyst Melvin A. Goodman notes in this guest essay:

The national security policy inherited by President Barack Obama has been increasingly militarized over the past two decades despite the collapse of the Berlin Wall, the demise of the Warsaw Pact, the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the end of the cold war.

The president has addressed the problem incrementally, reducing growth in spending in his first defense budget, establishing a timeline for withdrawal of American military forces in Iraq, returning to arms control negotiations with Russia and supporting international diplomacy in dealing with such problems as Iran's nuclear program.

At the same time, however, President Obama has appointed too many retired general officers to sensitive national security positions; provided too much support for new weapons, surveillance, and reconnaissance systems; and continued support for Georgian and Ukrainian membership in the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

The outcome of the current high-level debate over adding troops to support a misbegotten counterinsurgency strategy in Afghanistan will provide an indication of the president's willingness to demilitarize the national security arena and to restructure civil-military relations that have tilted heavily in the direction of the Pentagon.

President Obama's predecessors since 1981 contributed to the militarization of U.S. national security policy....(Remainder.)

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