Tag: defense spending

No More Neocon Faux-Cassandra Posturing: American Defense is not “in Decline”

Two pieces got emailed to me in the last few days that nicely illustrate just how entrenched semi-imperial thinking has become in Washington, how wildly disconnected from the reality of US security our foreign policy community’s threat assessments have become, and the hysteria that greets serious debate on DoD’s size in this post-Great Recession era of high unemployment and large deficits. This, by good-journalist-turned-disturbing-militarist Robert Kaplan, and this, by the ‘Iraq was a victory’ crowd at AEI. Here’s Kaplan:

“The bottom may be starting to fall out of the U.S. defense budget. I do not refer to numbers when I say this. I am not interested in numbers. I am only interested in public support for those numbers…. Actually, we might need a big army for an occupation of part of North Korea… The public, in short, wants protection on the cheap. It may not necessarily be willing to police the world with a big navy and a big air force at least to the degree that it has in the past — that is, unless a clear and demonstrable conventional threat can be identified.”

The rest basically follows the depressing, well-established neocon pattern: the (invariably hawkish and hegemony-loving) Washington foreign policy community knows America’s interests, while the public is annoyingly ‘isolationist.’ If only they believed in the US globocop, (cue grave headshaking at our ignorance), then we wouldn’t have to write these sanctimonious, tsk-tsk op-eds. The AEI brief is even more predictable: throwaway boilerplate about the need for a strong defense in a world of unpredictable and diverse threats and all that. Got it already. Neocons and DC hawks have been saying that sorta stuff now for so long, that I really don’t even need to read this stuff anymore. And of course, any cuts automatically ‘reduce our readiness,’ the all-time favorite cliché of hawks everywhere as if somehow ‘only’ $680+ billion would leave us unable to defend ourselves. Come on, neocons! I thought you were supposed to be intellectuals. Stop recycling 1990s ‘indispensible nation’ bromides, and try a little harder. Zack Beauchamp and Daniel Drezner’s correctives are very useful here. But here’s mine:

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Say Ron Paul Won…Which US Allies would get Retrenched? (2)

retrenchment graph

Here is part one where argued that America’s 8 most important allies are, in order: Canada, Mexico, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan, India, Indonesia, Israel, and South Korea.

I argued for 3 quick-and-dirty reasons for that ranking, but I got some criticism on these in the first post, so here is some elaboration :

1. National Security: Some places, like SA and Mexico, may not appeal much to Americans, but they are so obviously important, that abandonment would be hugely risky. So yes, SA is a nasty, reactionary ‘frenemy,’ not really an ally at all, but we’re stuck with it. A Saudi collapse would set off both huge economic and Islamic religious turmoil; all the more reason to slowly exit the Middle East and pursue green energy. But until then, I think we have to be honest and say that we can’t really leave the Gulf. But the bar of this criterion should be awfully high. With some frenemies, like Afghanistan and Pakistan, we don’t really need to pretend to be allies actually. We can just get out if have to.

2. Need: In some places, the US can get a lot more bang for its commitment buck, because without us, our ally would likely collapse/lose/fail. Taiwan is the most obvious example. Conversely, other places, like Germany, pretend to need us, because they don’t want to shell out the cash (and we’re so bewitched of our God-given, history-ending, last-best-hope-for-mankind, bound-to-lead neocon unipolar awesome-ness that we let ourselves get taken for a ride).Between Taiwan and Germany, I would place Israel and SK.

3. Values/Symbolism: I don’t like this criterion much, because it reminds me a lot of McNamara, ‘credibility,’ Vietnam, the Munich analogy and all that. But still, there are a few places where the American commitment has taken on an almost ‘metaphysical,’ good-guys-vs-bad-guys dimension. The whole world is watching, and a departure would be seen as a huge retreat from critical values that would bolster dictators everywhere, especially in China and Russia. SK is the most obvious example. NK is so bizarre, frightening, and horrific that while the US commitment isn’t really that necessary anymore, it’s taken on a symbolism wholly out of proportion to events on the peninsula. Taiwan also comes to mind, as does cold war West Germany. Avoiding another such perpetual commitment was one of the important reasons to get out of Iraq. If we’d stayed, we might have have gotten chain-ganged into never leaving our symbol of GWoT ‘success.’ We really don’t need more of that sort thing

So back to the list. Now come the ones that can more easily be retrenched, because either they are wealthy enough to defend themselves, or their value to the US has fallen:

8. Japan: Here is a case where the call for retrenchment becomes more and more obvious. USFJ is almost twice the size of USFK, but its role is more about local Asian reassurance than any obvious need. If SK is outgrowing the US ‘parent,’ then Japan’s almost willful reluctance to grow up is like purposeful free-riding infantilization. The need for the US alliance is not clear. Japan has more than the necessary resources to defend itself, but spends less than 1% of GDP on defense. The direct impact on US national security is slight, unless you believe, like John Milius, that NK or China will absorb Japan in order to launch a transpacific invasion of the US. Nor is there any big values argument. Japan is democratic now; if anything, our presence there leads to a lot of local anger. The real reason for USFJ is to keep Korea and China calm by keeping Japan ‘down,’ but honestly, the longer I live out here, the more I think the America’s presence freezes East Asia’s history and territory issues in place, rather than helps resolve them. The US presence encourage domestic maximalism on all sides (because it diminishes the costs of recalcitrance), just as it does in the Greek-Turkey dispute. (This is most obvious in the Liancourt Rocks dispute.) If we weren’t around, there might be more pressure to reach final status agreements on these issues.

9. The EU: Like Japan, I don’t think there is really much left to capture here, and there’s little obvious need or symbolism 20 years after the Cold War. Do Germany and Italy need 50k American soldiers? For what? If US forces are going to be in Europe, wouldn’t they be more valuable in Eastern or South Eastern Europe, where they would be closer to Russia and the Middle East? Do we really need to keep rehearsing the tired notion that US reassurance is necessary for aging, welfarist Germany, France, and Britain to get along? Surely that’s not true anymore; as with Korea-Japan-China in point 8 above, let’s not have the US pulled into permanent ‘parenting’ role among states who don’t want to iron out their differences, probably for domestic electoral reasons. A US presence can be infantilizing as well as protective. In brief, the (western) EU states pose no obvious threat to the US, nor are threatened in such a way that requires US extended deterrence. They’re neither vulnerable, nor too poor/instable to provide for their own defense. And they are consolidated democracies like us.

10. Egypt: I’ve never understood why the US gave Egypt so much cash. Indeed, the dual pay-off scheme to Israel and Egypt felt an awful lot like a collusive racket to shake the US tree for cash. What exactly is America’s big security need/benefit in Egypt? I understand Israel’s security interest of course, but that’s not ours (although it seems like the Tea Party insists on treating Israel as a US state). Nor does Egypt need US protection – from whom? Nor did 30 years of aid get Mubarak to liberalize. In fact, Obama almost got outflanked a year ago by the Tahrir Square demonstrators into backing more Arab autocracy. Honestly, if we retrenched from Egypt in the coming years under the new government and let them find their way on their own, I can’t imagine that would be a disaster for the US. (Yes, a Muslim Brothers dictatorship could be pretty scary, but that doesn’t seem too likely, and how is that a huge problem for the United States?)

11. The rest: As usual, there is no particularly good case for US extended deterrence in Africa, Oceania, or Central Asia. Latin America and Western Europe could go too if really pressed. All that is really necessary are commitments to North America (duh), India, some on the East Asian Pacific littoral, and a little in the Middle East. It should also be pretty clear by now that Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan are not such strategic interest where the benefits outweigh the staggering costs of the GWoT.


Note that the foregoing listing is a worst-case scenario for serious US decline (or best case if you’re a Ron Paul voter). Nor does it mean that the US should walk away from these places entirely, give up on R2P, cut foreign aid, or otherwise be ‘isolationist.’ Indeed calling retrenchment ‘isolationist’ is a favorite neocon red herring. I concur, for example, that America’s attitude toward foreign aid, channeled most recently by Rick Perry in the GOP debates, is scrooge-like and callous. Or regarding Egypt, it is clearly an important country in the Middle East, and we should provide all sorts of ‘soft power’ assistance – democracy advice, training, development aid, IFI access, etc. We should actively encourage the evolution of Egyptian pluralism and democracy, and speak loudly against the MBs if they veer toward sharia.

But all this sort of engagement is qualitatively different from the extremely expensive and semi-imperial manner of US hegemony today as routed through the defense establishment. We need to restore the State Department’s role as the leader and shaper of US foreign policy, not only because it will be less prone to the use of force, but also because of the costs savings. The US national security state (defense, intel, DHS, veterans, parts of DoE) eats up around $1 trillion a year at the same time we are borrowing even more than that for Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security. America’s publicly-held debt is around $11T, 75% of GDP. At some point, this divergence will need to close, and prioritizing commitments and allies will happen at some point, if only clandestinely in the budget process. Better to think about it now than to overextend ourselves into a real crunch like Britain after WWII.

Final Caveat: This ranking assumes real US decline and coerced choice – forecasting that retrenchment will in fact be foisted on the US, as per Walt, Layne, Ron Paul, Joseph Parent, Paul MacDonald, and so many other. It is however possible that Chines growth will stall, thereby relieving Asian power shift pressures on American hegemony that suggest this image of retrenchment. If China stops growing so fast, American dominance, no matter how widely stretched, will be easier to maintain. My own sense is that China will actually reach a plateau in the next decade (try this and this). It’s true that the power shift to Asia accelerated in the last decade because of the Iraq War and wild Bush deficit spending (per the graph above). But I strongly suspect China’s ecological, demographic, geopolitical, and corruption problems will hit it hard soon and buy time for the US. As Ned Lebow argued about the end of the Cold War, the USSR declined faster than the US, so the US won by default. I suspect the same outcome here – China has a lot of trouble under the hood which we aren’t seeing through the ‘when China rules the world’ hysteria – meaning retrenchment from NATO or Japan are still unlikely to my mind.

Cross-posted Asian Security Blog.


Say Ron Paul Won…Which US Allies would get Retrenched? (1)

Here is an answer to Jon Western’s good question. Here is Steve Walt saying nice things about Ron Paul, and Layne has a nice recent piece in the National Interest, and another at ISQ, about looming US retrenchment.  Earlier I argued that I think lots of people in IR now both expect and want some measure of US pullback. The argument is pretty well-known by now – empirically, the US is doing more than it can afford, like the Iraq war (trillion dollar deficits and ‘overstretch’); normatively, we are violating far too many of our liberal values against a comparatively minor terrorist threat (torture, indefinite detention, unoverseen drone strikes). But I don’t see too much on what specifically could be cut if absolutely necessary. The British retrenchment east of Suez in the 70s is probably our best model, but of course, the Brits had different sets of commitments, so it’s not a great blueprint.
So I try below to compile a list of who would/could/should get the axe and who not. Just like the intense competition over the periodic BRACs, one could imagine US allies making their case for a retention of US bases, troops, aid, etc. In one of his speeches, I heard Ron Paul argue that we have 900 overseas bases, so the field of choice is very wide.
I can think of 3 basic criteria for judgment of whom should be cut loose and who not:
a. Direct US national security interest: This is fairly obvious. For example, no matter what the Israelis or Japanese may say, Mexico and Canada’s fate will always be more important to the US than theirs, because they so directly impinge on US security.
b. Need/Vulnerability: Some states may want the US to stay but don’t really need us. They just want to free-ride. Germany comes to mind. Modern Germany is irrevocably democratic, liberal, aging, with a small, barely deployable military, and surrounded by other democracies. There is no need to keep it ‘down’ anymore, nor is Russia a big conventional threat to Europe.
c. Values: Some places aren’t that relevant to US security, or they may have the means to defend themselves. But they represent crucial values in high-profile contests. SK is a good example. SK’s GDP is 26x NK’s; it can take care of it itself (even thought no one wants to say that publicly here). But the Korean stand-off has become a such global symbol of liberal democracy vs. tyranny, especially next to rising China, that US retrenchment would be see globally as a real setback.
So here is quick-and-dirty ranking of allies and commitments in order of importance:
1. Canada and Mexico: I imagine the Tea party would blanche at the idea of Mexico as one of America’s very highest national security priorities, but it is for the reasons mentioned above. Yes, Mexico is vastly more important to the US than Israel.
However, the rest of Latin America, including that now-pointless embargo of Cuba, really isn’t. How damaging has Chavez really been to the US? Honestly, if we were really strapped for cash and over-committed, we could cut the Monroe Doctrine loose. Latin America doesn’t really need us or the fairly condescending ‘Roosevelt Corollary’ anymore.
Strictly speaking, Canada does not need America commitment; Mexico does somewhat. But proximity alone means they are America’s most important allies. We can’t retrench from North America.
2. Saudi Arabia: Wait, what? But yes, it’s true. If you think about what the US needs (acute demand for cheap, reliable carbon, at least until the green economy gets on its feet), SA’s extreme vulnerability, and the pan-umma chaos that would result from its collapse, means that SA has to be very high on the list. I agree that places like Germany or Korea are more sympathetic, but they have also a lot more wherewithal to defend themselves. SA does not, so it needs the US more. The majority of the 9/11 hijackers were Saudis, and all were stewed in Saudi anti-western pathologies, yet we invaded Iraq??… Well, here’s why.
3. Taiwan: This one mixes need and values. Taiwan is modern and capable, but its opponent is so big, it will never even come close in that race. Also, Taiwan has emerged as a major global values contest relevant to China’s rise and Asia’s future order. Everyone’s watching. Given that China is a real long-term peer competitor to the US now, Taiwan has a global bellwether status. But is really important for US national security? Not really; that’s true.
4. India: This one mixes all 3 criteria. In Geopolitics, I argued that India will be America’s big future ally, because it shares  America’s values, and both its big threats – salafism and China. No other US ally does that. Bolstering India pushes back on Islamic terror in Asia and balances/distracts China, and reaffirms democracy in a region where democracy is often seen as a luxury that inhibits growth.
5. Indonesia: Here’s another unexpected one, but the argument is similar to India. If you think about places where a US presence could really make a difference (i.e., where we would get some dividend and not just encourage free-riding), then I think this is obvious too. For starters, it’s huge – the fourth biggest state in the world. It is a bulwark against salafism’s spread into the biggest community of the umma – southeast Asia. (No one ever seems to remember this, btw; Islam is a lot more than the Arabs and Persians.) As with India, there is a strong values case for supporting Indonesian democracy – its big, Muslim, and worried about China too.
6. Israel: I think the case for Israel is slipping. Yes, it is the only democracy in the Middle East, but not so much anymore actually. Arab Spring has changed a lot, and Israel’s own internal politics, especially its now effectively permanent occupation of the Palestinians, damages that ‘we’re the only state in the Middle East that shares US values’ line. This doesn’t mean we should abandon Israel, only that it’s rank is sliding. America’s national security interest in Israel is not particularly obvious now – the Cold War is over, S Hussein is gone, Assad is on the ropes. Nor is it clear that Israel really needs us. It needed us to survive the Yom Kippur War, but now? Its got the best military in the region, plus nukes. The real ‘values’ link between Israel and the US now is more tribal (a Judeo-Christian struggle against Islam) rather than liberal.
7. South Korea: Like Israel, the case for SK is slipping, primarily because SK so obviously outclasses NK. NK may be very scary, but a real SK military build-up (including vastly superior nukes) would be scarier still. SK’s GDP is at least 25x NK’s. Its military technology is two generations ahead. Its social capacity – health, education, institutional durability – vastly outstrip its opponent. Like Israel, SK needed us once, but not really anymore. Like the EU and Japan, wealthy SK has ‘graduated’ from the need for serious US extended deterrence. South Koreans I talk with about this worry about ‘abandonment,’ but then,  SK only spend 2.5% of GDP on defense. The US spends more than twice. That’s not free-riding as bad as Germany or Japan, but its still free-riding. If you consider that Taiwan or India would represent a greater return for the US’ extended deterrence investment, you understand why Ron Paul always mentions Korea as a basing obligation to eliminate. However, the intra-Korean contest has acquired a ‘freedom vs tyranny’ global profile. Like Taiwan, it is something of a bellwether now that would send big signal, especially now that we’re ‘pivoting’ to Asia. So the current US small commitment – 28.5k warfighters under USFK away from the DMZ – is probably about right.
Part two will come in four days
Cross-posted on Asian Security Blog.


Pentagon as Economic Dynamo: Not

The Pentagon is remarkable for its ability to contrive reasons to justify its bloated budgets.  In recent years, it and the gaggle of contractors, analysts, and journalists that support it have found military-security risks in everything from “hot zone” diseases to global warming.  But with looming budget cuts, the defense establishment is being forced to downsize, albeit modestly.

To protect itself, it has now taken to fear-mongering.  Some of this is the usual:  the supposedly dire threats we face abroad – e.g., from distant, 10th rate military powers like Iran or Pakistan or al-Qaeda, or from major trading partners like China.  All of this, of course, is stated with a straight face even while our military spending dwarfs that of other nations combined.  Somehow, however, and even with the natural geostrategic advantages provided by two oceans, the U.S., at least in the eyes of our panicky military brass remains forever UNDER THREAT.

In addition to such perennial hyperbole, the Pentagon now warns that cuts will have nasty domestic consequences, raising unemployment and killing economic innovation.  It’s hard to argue that major military cuts might lead to job losses, not only among uniformed servicemen but also among the hordes of government contractors who’ve grown fat on defense budgets paid for by taxpayer dollars.

But that’s a good thing!  If in fact it happens – and, unfortunately, that remains a big if given the proven power of the military-industrial complex to defend its narrow self-interest – ex-soldiers and ex-contractors will find other ways of getting along.   Sure there will be some temporary pain for the displaced, but this will in the end help the larger economy and certainly the government’s budget picture.

As for innovation, the New York Times’s Binyamin Appelbaum has a front-page article today about that issue – one that’s worth reading as much for its misjudgments as for anything else.  

The article strives for balance, including a number of different viewpoints on how much impact military spending has on economic dynamism.  But its take-away lines, signaled by its original headline, “A Hidden Cost of Military Cuts Could Be Invention and Its Industries,” are that the Pentagon has an “unmatched record in developing technologies with broad public benefits – like the Internet, jet engines and satellite navigation – and then encouraging private companies to reap the rewards.”

“Unmatched?” Really?  How can one possibly make such a statement without placing it in context?  But for the Pentagon’s pull on the purse strings, those contracts might have been administered through other government agencies, rather than the military.  And they might well have been far more efficient.  Alternatively, the money sucked out of the private economy by taxes to fund the military might have been used for R & D directly, by investors and entrepreneurs.  And what of the countless amounts of R & D spending that have ended in nothing – or nothing better than a more efficient killing machine, usable only in wars?

Nowhere in the article is there anything but assumption that only the military, as some kind of beneficent and far-seeing midwife of invention, could have fostered these and other innovations.  Nowhere are there convincing arguments that most if not all of these developments wouldn’t have been made either through some other government R & D agency or through the market itself.

The article’s claim that 59 Nobel Laureates have received funding from the Navy fails to impress.  The fact that future Nobelists took money from a rich vein of governmental fat says nothing about whether the Pentagon’s influence led to their prizes.  It certainly doesn’t justify the claim that the military has had a “remarkable record of success.”

Nor does Appelbaum provide a convincing explanation for this unproven success.  One factor he raises is the “Pentagon’s relative insulation from politics which has allowed it to sustain a long-term research agenda in controversial areas . . . [n]o matter which party is in power.”  This view is myopic.  Certainly Congressmen are reluctant to halt weapons programs – because they are strategically sited in every Congressional district around the country.  That is not insulation from politics.  It is the very essence of politics, and for that reason leads to vast amounts of waste.

One expert is quoted as saying that the Pentagon is superior to other government agencies because “they are the customer. You can’t pull the wool over their eyes.”  But the Pentagon buys its products with taxpayer money, not its “own” money.  It feels little pain when, for instance, boondoggle aircraft carriers like the Gerald M. Ford, have billions of dollars in cost overruns.  Cosy relationships between the military, contractors, legislators, and journalists make for few if any incentives for economic efficiency.  Worse still, many new weapons systems have had poor safety records, resulting in injuries and deaths to our servicemen.

The article, to its credit, includes quotations from economists who raise such fundamental questions, showing just how inefficient Pentagon expenditures are compared to other government spending.  Yet Appelbaum fails to see that these studies call into question his bold claims.

Meanwhile, Appelbaum’s view is backed only by those who don’t appear to have thought enough about the issues.   One expert says he’d “like to see a lot less weapons and a lot less focus on them, but [defense spending is] not all about that.”  According to him, “If catalyzing innovation is going to be an important part of our economic strategy, then we better be careful how we handle” the military budget.

But if we really care about innovation in our economy, why would we ask the Pentagon to take part, much less take charge?  A shocking 55% of all government R & D spending is allocated to the military.  In fact, the military is a remarkably poor vehicle of economic dynamism – hardly surprising since, of course, that is not its mission.  If innovation is our goal, why not better fund government agencies tasked precisely with the goal of innovation?

One answer seems to be provided by another expert who is said to believe that “the Pentagon [has] an inherent advantage in funding research and development” and is quoted as saying that “War matters more.  People take it more seriously.”  In other words, only the Pentagon can convince our short-sighted Congress to provide money for long term R & D.

How sad.  But the bright side for the future is that if less tax money is squandered on the Pentagon, there will be more funds for private sector investment.  True, some innovations that require long-term R & D might be missed without a government hand in the process.  But if as a result the U.S. loses its competitive edge, Congress might even see fit to provide such funding to new agencies aimed precisely at creating technological advances – not to a Pentagon tasked with fighting wars.

Other economists are cited as arguing that Pentagon spending saves money by providing security within which economic growth can occur.  Even if true, that claim, of course, says nothing about whether the Pentagon is a good place to spend America’s innovation dollar.  It also assumes that there are threats severe enough to jeopardize growth.  Yet the spate of warfighting that the US has engaged in since the end of the Cold War has cost trillions.  And one of the main reasons we engage in so many of these operations is not because our nation’s security is truly threatened—but because we can, because we have the overblown military forces and high technology to do so.  Worse still, there is a good argument that these wars have created more enemies than they have destroyed.

My heart bleeds for the thousands of workers in Northern Virginia and around the country who have fed at the Pentagon’s trough for so long.  But why should they be any different from the rest of the U.S. economy, which must suffer through the adjustments that our economy periodically requires? The Pentagon and military contractors have for decades been a bastion of privilege – a protected little socialist republic within our capitalist state – immune from the laws of economics.  After a decade of gluttonous expansion, there is now a modest effort to rein it in.   

I look forward to the possibility however small of more cuts – and to the increased innovation and dynamism it is likely to spark in our economy.


Priorities, priorities, priorities….

I have good friends a few miles north of here in Vermont who will be reeling from Hurricane Irene for months. One of my favorite places, Wilmington — just south of Mount Snow ski resort — was completely flooded and Route 9, the major road to the town (and all East-West travel in southern Vermont) will be out for weeks. It’s going to be a long haul getting back.

Despite the devastation, we now hear that House Republicans are holding FEMA hostage by demanding the $3.6 billion in emergency storm relief has to be offset by cuts in other programs.

So where should we cut? National Priorities Project has this handy list of spending priorities. I bet we could find some money in there.

But, for my money, I think Vermont taxpayers should take a look at this tool to figure out which trade-offs work for them. Turns out they will be paying more than $750 million this year to support the Pentagon’s budget. In the past decade, they’ve paid more than $2.2 billion for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, including nearly $250 million this year alone. Those would be the same wars that the Wartime Contracting Commission just announced lost as much as $60 billion “due to lax oversight of contractors, poor planning and corruption.” I bet some of that could be spent at home helping them rebuild….


This ain’t gonna cut it….

Friends at the National Priorities Project have a quick assessment on President Obama’s budget. Here’s their take on the defense and security budget:

Defense spending, which accounts for roughly 58 percent of discretionary spending and 20 percent of total federal spending (both based on FY 2011 estimates), will continue to grow, albeit at a slower pace than in recent years.

The $553 billion base-line Department of Defense request is approximately 3% higher than current funding levels. This figure does not include funding for nuclear weapons or $117.6 billion for the U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

…The chart below shows defense spending as 58% of all requested FY2011 discretionary spending (left bar) and security spending as 66% of the total (right bar).

This means that the projected freeze and subsequent savings on non-security discretionary spending in FY2012 will have to be absorbed by an even smaller percentage of the overall discretionary budget.


The Anglo-French Treaty and the BBC World Service: Hard Power irrelevance and a threat to the Soft Power of the UK and the West.

On Tuesday of this week, amid much pomp and fanfare (and a certain amount of suppressed hilarity) an Anglo-French Treaty was signed, providing for 50 years (no, really, 50 years) of defence co-operation. I’ve posted on this at the LSE blog here and haven’t much to add – basically there is less to this than meets the eye.  Meanwhile, back in the real world, a little noticed policy poses a genuine threat to one of the major sources of British ‘soft’ power, the BBC World Service.  As part of a wider deal on the funding of the BBC, funding for the Service is to be shifted from a grant from the Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO) to the BBC itself.  A Good Thing you might think, escaping from political control to the independent BBC? If so you would be very, very wrong. This is a disaster in the making.
Although obliged to fund it, the FCO exercises no control over the World Service which has operated in practice as a body independent of both the Government and the BBC.  Now it will become part of the latter. Many foreigners think of the BBC as the source of quality news and documentaries, and boring ‘heritage’ costume dramas (sorry, that was editorialising). This is true, but it is also true that the BBC is a ruthlessly competitive organisation, continually searching for ratings success and seeking to sell its programmes abroad. The loss-making elements of the BBC are continually under pressure; domestic loss makers, such as the serious music and culture channel Radio 3, have a certain amount of protection because they have a vociferous and articulate middle-class audience who give the BBC a bad time whenever cuts are threatened.  In spite of the assurances on continued funding that have been given, I doubt very much whether the World Service – and especially its foreign language broadcasts – will, in practice, have the same kind of protection.  They cost money and their audience doesn’t have a vote or much of a voice in Britain.
It is significant that virtually no British politician has expressed concern at the fate of the World Service – but Hillary Clinton has.  She, and the State Department in general, are well aware that the BBC World Service is an important asset not simply for Britain but for the West in general; when Barack Obama wanted to talk directly to the Iranian  people he used the BBC’s Farsi service because of its loyal audience in Iran, based on the reputation for integrity it has earned over the years with the Iranian people. Let’s hope it is still there in five years time.

Election 2010: the Foreign Policy Elephant in the Room (updated)

CBS Nevada reporter Nathan Baca tried to approach [Sharron] Angle during a stroll through the airport and the airport parking lot with questions about her foreign policy views.

After going through several evasive answers, an irritated Angle replied: “I will answer those questions when I’m the senator.”

Much of the liberal reaction to Angle’s latest evasion of the press has taken the form of “if she can’t face reporters, how can she a U.S. Senator?” In light of Angle’s general bizarreness, I can understand the comparative lack of attention given to issue areas she refused to address. But, as Dan Drezner’s noted, the 2010 elections have been marked by an almost total absence of foreign-policy debate. That’s not surprising. The Obama Administration hasn’t exactly been “soft on terrorism,” the unemployment rate hovers near ten percent, and Republican politicians basically support U.S. involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan. In short, international affairs doesn’t provide particularly rich soil for harvesting votes.

However, this election may prove quite consequential for U.S. foreign relations. Even if the the Democrats hold onto a slight majority in the Senate, the legislative branch is about to shift significantly rightward. This is not a terribly comforting thought, given that the current GOP combines an impoverished foreign-policy playbook with a scorched-earth mentality toward the Obama Administration.

Consider three signs of what’s to come.

First, Republican opposition to New START. While New START is not without its problems, none of them bear any resemblance to the outlandish criticisms offered up by the GOP. Even Robert Kagan admits that conservative objections to the treaty don’t justify blocking ratification. The charge that the administration, whose deterrence policies depend on a robust commitment to the Phased Adaptive Approach (PAA) to Ballistic Missile Defense (BMD), is willing to let Moscow veto BMD policy, should strike any observer as particularly ludicrous.

New START is, in many respects, a rather modest nuclear arms-control agreement; the major differences between a world with and without ratification are twofold: in the latter, the U.S. (1) lacks important tools to monitor Russian nuclear happenings and (2) loses significant credibility when it comes to negotiating binding agreements with not only Moscow, but other foreign powers. Yet all indications are that the Republicans will block ratification.

Second, the tenor of Republican media on U.S. foreign-policy issues. For example, The 2010 Nuclear Security Summit contained its share of successes and failures. Among the latter was a series of botched attempts to forward Turkish-Armenian normalization, which only succeeded in undermining US-Turkish and US-Azerbaijan relations (the latter wasn’t even invited to the Summit). During all of this conservative media was interested in one burning question: was a stylized version of the Bohr model actually a quasi-secret sign of Obama’s interest in imposing Sharia law in the United States, appeasing Iran, or something. Otherwise, the summit was mostly met with conservative silence.

Third, the commitment to unlimited defense budgets. Even as conservatives criticize the Obama administration for record deficit spending, they still find time to complain that military spending is too low. Seriously. The “finest” foreign-policy minds in the GOP think the Obama Administration is jeopardizing U.S. military preparedness against decades-away threats by not pushing a sufficiently large increase in U.S. defense spending. That sound you hear is Zombie Eisenhower crying.

So we’re likely in for an opposition with international-affairs positions variously inherited from the Bush Administration, dictated by a desire to oppose and embarrass the President at every turn, and determined to avoid talking about substantive foreign-policy problems. The irony, of course, is that we desperately need a “loyal opposition” to highlight and correct serious failures in Obama foreign policy. Which we’re not likely to get.

Oh, goody. I can’t wait.

UPDATE: Foreign Policy’s list of influential GOP foreign-policy congresscritters pretty much makes the point.


Pork Barrel Nation: From Prisons to Pentagon

Here is a fascinating story detailing how a network of legislators and corporations works together on bills such as Arizona’s recent and controversial immigration bill.  The two-part report shows corporations and trade groups writing laws, encouraging “lawmakers” to promote and pass them, then using the legislation to expand their businesses.  In this case, prison companies–one of the few bright spots in our woeful economy–were involved in writing the Arizona bill.  Now they stand to make millions from new jails for illegal aliens, especially women and children, awaiting deportation. 
All of this was conducted through an outfit called the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which disingenuously calls itself a nonprofit—and apparently has the IRS status to prove it.  After all, it’s not lobbying, it’s “educating” legislators, as ALEC’s leader states in the report.   Of course, ALEC is “educating “our representatives to support the bill prepared by its corporate members so that they can profit off of it later.  But it’s still education!
The focus of the report may be domestic, but the implications are obviously wider, including to the mother of all pork-barrelers, the military and its corporate hangers-on.  According to the Wall St. Journal, defense now accounts for over $700 billion annually, amounting to over 50% of domestic discretionary spending and an estimated 19% of all federal spending (dwarfing Medicare expenditures). 

Of course, we’ve heard talk from Secretary of Defense Robert Gates about the need to cut military spending.  The bipartisan National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform has discussed this as well.  And, most fortunately, with the election next week, we are bound to see an influx of deficit-hawk, Republican legislators eager to cut wasteful spending. Right?
Not.  When pork wears a uniform, it has a thousand friends—or at least 535, the House and Senate members whose districts and states feed off the swill.  We’ve already seen pre-emptive strikes against defense cuts on the op ed pages of the WSJ.   And groups akin to ALEC are laying plans to do some “educating.”  The Heritage Foundation’s James Carafano, for instance, is talking about teaching benighted freshman who might somehow question whether, in an era when there are no serious military threats to U.S. national security, we must keep on spending ever more.   Nothing like bang for your education buck!


War and the Economy

Two somewhat parallel stories have emerged, one from Europe the other from the Americas, about political leaders who believe that war fighting may be necessary for a strong economy.

First, according to the Guardian:

In a radio interview given on his return from a tour of German military bases in Afghanistan earlier this month, Köhler, a former head of the International Monetary Fund, said that the largely pacifist German public was finally coming to terms with the concept that their country could no longer avoid involvement in military missions, which helped “protect our interests, for example, free trade routes, or to prevent regional instability, which might certainly have a negative effect on our trade, jobs and income”.

The remarks were seized upon by the German left, who accused Köhler of supporting a type of “gunboat diplomacy” and of betraying the thousands of German soldiers who are currently stationed in Afghanistan.

Second, according to the Huffington Post, President Bush apparently told former Argentine Prime Minister Néstor Kirchner that all of the growth experienced by the US had been based on the different wars it had fought:

Kirchner, in a meeting with Bush, suggested that the United States replicate the successful nation-building strategy it implemented at the end of World War II.

“And he stood up from his chair and got angry. He told me, ‘A Marshall plan! No! That’s a crazy idea from the Democrats. What needs to be done here, and the best way to revitalize the economy is — the United States has grown based on wars,’ he told me. That’s what he told me,” Kirchner recounted.

Bush added, said Kirchner, that “all the economic growth that the U.S. had had, had been based on the different wars it had waged.”

The former Argentine leader, whose wife now heads the country, made the comments in an interview with Oliver Stone for his upcoming documentary “South Of the Border.”

In Germany, President Köhler resigned abruptly because of his comments; in the US, there has not been much reaction beyond the blogosphere that I can detect.

I don’t think that Köhler’s statements would be controversial in non-pacifist countries with large economies (i.e. countries other than Germany or Japan).  The main problem with his remarks was that it did not seem to make much sense when applied to Afghanistan — a country with few resources or markets that Germany needs or wants.  Köhler tried to clarify that his remarks were a reference to the horn of Africa, but apparently he did not convince many of his critics.

Bush’s comments, if Kirchner’s account is correct, seem more controversial.  To say that all of America’s economic growth is based on wars seems rather sweeping.  But I don’t think his idea should be dismissed out of hand. While the outbreak of hositilities often rattles markets, war and preparation for war fighting can stimulate an economy in terms of employment, organization of the factors of production, and technological advancement.  Of these three, my hunch is that technologicial advancement provides the greatest stimulus to growth in a large and generally competitive market economy which no longer relies on conscription for its military.  As technological inventions filter through the economy, they can stimulate growth in a wide range of economic activities (e.g. the Internet).  Innovations which increase efficiency are the major source of economic growth in an economy which has almost fully mobilized capital and labor.  These technological advancements might be possible without massive defense spending, but it would probably take longer to achieve and refine new technologies, particularly given the general impatience of capital in the US.  (But we have to acknowledge that massive defense spending is not always an efficient use of capital and often results in waste and corruption.)  So the issue is whether technological advancements created by defense spending are propelling the economy.  Certainly we can see that in the current war in Afghanistan, defense spending is leading to great leaps in surveillance technologies (e.g., drones and biometrics), and previous inventions in defense related fields are also still filtering through the economy (e.g. telecommunications).  Of course, other major technologies which propel the American economy do not appear to have much relevance to the defense department (e.g. genetically modified foods).  And while the military says it will turn toward greener technologies, I don’t think the Defense Department is the major driver in this technological field.  Finally, there are military technologies which don’t appear to have much relevance to the civilian economy (e.g. stealth technology).  So I don’t think that Bush’s sweeping argument can be validated, but a more moderate version of the argument might be compelling.

For many though the real issue with Bush’s argument is ethical rather than technical.  Some might feel uncomfortable at the realization that much of their country’s prosperity is due to the effects of massive defense spending (and from war fighting).  I don’t think that the current US economy is dependent on defense spending for technological breakthroughs, but I do think it would be foolish to dismiss the notion that massive defense spending does contribute significantly to the economy’s growth. 

This is not at all my area of expertise, so I wonder what those who have studied this issue more carefully think…


This vote really matters!

Today the Senate voted to cap the Air Force’s purchases of the F-22 at 187 planes by stripping the funding for further purchases of the plane from the Defense budget. This is a very significant vote for several reasons:

1. Its a big political win for the President. Obama threatened to veto a defense bill. That just Does Not Happen–no one vetoes money for DoD.

2. This is the first major cut to a major weapons system in recent memory. The military industrial complex is mighty powerful, and a vast range of interests lined up to defend the F-22, led by its manufacturer and the congressional delegations of many of the states where significant parts of the plane are made. Leading supporter of the F-22 in the Senate? Saxbe Chambliss, R-GA. The F-22 is assembled in Georgia. The final vote tally shows bi-partisan support for killing the plane. It also shows bi-partisan support for keeping the plane. This spending is all about pork, and little about ideology.

3. It is a major victory for the prospect of restoring some sanity to the defense budget. As Spencer Ackerman points out, lose here and Gates and Obama have no chance to reign in the defense budget. The win here brings the Defense budget back to reality (if only a little bit, but its a start). Gates powerfully made the point that DoD needs that money more urgently elsewhere. Lest we forget, there are still 2 wars going on, with troops who need stuff to fight those wars. The F-22 has yet to see any role in either Afghanistan or Iraq.

4. It offers some hope to procurement reform at DoD. Much of the modern military–both operationally and administratively–is organized around the purchase of major weapons systems. This works if you have a great weapons system, but is incredibly inefficient, wasteful, and leaves you with the Army you’ve got– pace Rumsfeld, not the one you wish you had. One of the reasons we don’t have the military we wish we had is all of the support, doctrinally, institutionally, culturally, and financially for these weapons systems. The fighter jocks of the Air Force really want the F-22. They have resisted UAVs like Predator and Reaper and ugly Close Air Support planes like the A-10. And yet, these have been among the most useful and most in demand throughout the wars we’re actually fighting. The F-22? Not so much.

5. Gates went to the mattress on this one, with the full support of the President, and he won. He’s going to be in a commanding position to institute further reforms at the Pentagon. Its rather ironic, don’t ya think, just a little ironic, I really do think, that Rumsfeld came in determined to reform the Pentagon, and, arguably, left much of it in worse shape than when he arrived while Gates, called in to clean up the mess, so to speak, and then retained by an administration of a different political party which ran in opposition to the war Gates, as SecDef, was overseeing, manages to gain the bureaucratic and political strength to make reforms where it matters. The money. All about the Benjamins, that.

So, yeah, a big deal today in the Senate.


The War that Matters

There is a massive fight simmering just below the surface here in DC, one that looks to get really ugly, really quick, and with major long-term consequences for national politics. No, its not the pending SCOTUS confirmation fight, but the battle over the Pentagon budget. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has taken on one of the most powerful and entrenched political forces in Washington, the Defense spending lobby, and as Eisenhower had warned, “In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist.” How right he was, and its taken a SecDef as powerful as Gates to launch the fight to bring this to the foreground.

The spark for this conflagration was Gates “reform budget” that reallocated defense spending. His proposal to cut or cap certain weapons systems while promoting others has rankled the Services, and their ideas of how they ought to provide for the common defense. Indeed, the US military is now about to embark on the one war it is most prepared to fight–the war for budget share and major weapons systems. Ten years ago, a fantastic little book described the DoD’s attitude toward the budget process as This War Really Matters, and its the fight that the Services, Contractors, and Congress are best prepared to wage.

The issues of the day involve the decision to shift money from legacy weapons systems designed to fight a “peer competitor” force (was USSR, now China conveniently fills that role) with weapons better suited for counterinsurgency operations, ie the ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

I trace part of this struggle to the historical evolution of an overlapping, unclear, and muddled command structure of today’s US Military establishment. In World War II, the fights between Army and Navy were epic, leading to two separate theater commanders in the Pacific (MacArthur and Nimitz) fighting, essentially, two separate wars against Japan. The National Security Act of 1947 unified the services under a civilian secretary, creating DoD. However, the Secretary was initially weak and the Services were strong, leading to several subsequent reforms. The most significant was the Goldwater-Nichols Act, giving us the structure we have today. As a result of Goldwater-Nichols, there are two separate structures of authority in the US military. Operationally, the chain of command passes from the President through the Secretary of Defense, and directly to the Combatant Commander who has complete and total command over all units in his theater (or functional area). However, for procurement, training, and equipping the force, authority passes from the Secretary to the Service Secretary and Chief of Staff of the uniformed service, who determine what the services should buy and how they will use it. Thus, the services sense of identity and mission have a huge role in procurement. Thus, combatant commanders must go to war with the army/navy/air force they have, not the one they would like.

Gates seeks to change this, privileging the needs of current combat operations over long-term service identity. Consider the most high profile of these cases in the Air Force. The AF has long seen strategic bombing and air to air combat as its core missions, and has thus pushed for a 5th generation air superiority fighter and new bomber. Gates wants to cut the future bomber and cap the F-22, instead buying more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and UAV’s. Indeed, some have speculated that the F-22 is the last manned fighter plane of its kind, with the future of air-war employing UAVs in combat roles. Current operations in the CENTCOM theater bear this out. The F-22 has not been used at all in either 6+ year long war, while the demand for UAV’s has skyrocketed, and they have become some of the most significant (if not controversial) weapons platforms in use. But, what is a modern US Air Force without fighter pilots?

Now the services and Congress are notorious for thwarting Pentagon budgeting plans. Congress sees the DoD budget as an unchallenged lard-fest, where government subsidies can be thrown to companies in a local district. Contractors facilitate this by actively distributing weapons system production in key Congressional districts, gaining allies for particular programs on the Hill. The Services have long had back-channels to lobby Congress to save particular weapons systems or insert new procurement that the Administration did not request. Gates seeks to end this practice.

The stakes are high. Hundreds of billions of dollars are at stake. Contracts, careers, and jobs are on the line. And, somewhere in there, the idea of American National Security almost matters. There will be principled arguments on both sides about the legitimate security needs of the United States. There will be a detailed discussion of the trade-offs between a counter-insurgency focused force vs. a peer competitor force. However, these principled and well reasoned arguments will probably be in the minority. Instead, we’ll see a lot more poorly reasoned arguments (I’ll let Ricks call it dumb) and faux-grandstanding about the rising China threat designed to produce only one logical conclusion: The Army/Air Force/Navy absolutely must must have the FCS/F-22/DDG-1000 to counter the “real” threats of the future.

Be wary of such arguments. Beneath all the posturing, beneath the future threats, dire warnings, and beneath the demands of 21st century warfare are good old fashion pork-barrel politics, of who gets what from whom: the most lucrative contracts in all the Federal Budget, supplying major weapons systems to the DoD.

If Gates can win this war, it will be as significant to the overall conduct of US National Security policy as operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. After all, This War Really Matters.


Scribbles in My Notebook…

I have a mental queue of about 3 or 5 post that I’ve been meaning to get up in the past couple of days, but the demands of a new baby in the house are leaving me sleep deprived and somehow unable to find time to construct the posts I want to write (go figure…). So, in lieu of that, a couple of scribbles from my mental notebook that merit your attention and our discussion.

–SecDef Gates unveiled his defense budget. This could be one the most significant policy undertakings of the Obama administration and lead to some real, meaningful reforms with profound consequences on both domestic and international politics. This issue is being covered quite well elsewhere, so I will only give a couple of quick points that I hope you keep in mind.

Stop talking about this as budget cuts. Its not. It still represents an overall increase in US defense spending. Rather, its a reallocation of funds and priorities, away from some things and toward other things.

This shows how backasswards defense policy is. The vehicle for a major reorientation of defense policy is the budget. Not a policy document, not a strategic review, but procurement. Procurement and budgets drive defense policy more than ‘policy’ does, in that going to war with the military you have, not the one you want is the product of weapons requirements from 20 years ago. The F-22, the fighter jet at the center of all this, originated with a set of requirements in the late 1980’s during the cold war. Sure, they’ve updated and reaffirmed a new set of requirements to keep the plane alive. But, current AF strategy and policy discussions surrounding this plane are still captive to budget cycles from a decade ago.

I like the go-for-broke strategy that Gates is employing, as it makes it more likely, I think, to overcome Congressional opposition to any weapons system cuts. He’s shown with his comments that he’s ready to take on the defense spending as jobs argument head on.

Check out this story on how closely the US is studying Israel’s 2006 war with Hezbollah and how that discussion is serving as a proxy for the larger debate on the future shape of the US military.

–Obama was in Europe, had a major NATO summit, and called for nuclear disarmament. Foolish critics called him naive. Reagan also wanted disarmament, he offered to give up all our nuclear weapons if the Soviets would do the same. Obama’s going to try again to get the CTBT ratified. I think these are important steps. Proliferation is one of those global, multilateral problems that no one country can address alone. Reaching any nuclear deal ultimately runs into the fundamental bargain of the NPT that leaves some states nuclear and others not. That bargain requires the nuclear states to work towards disarmament. Obama’s call for nuclear arms reduction gives him major cred in seeking further arms control agreements with new and potential nuclear powers, as he can now claim with some credibility that he is interested in matching the disarmament that he is asking others to undertake.

–North Korea launched a missile / satellite that failed miserably, crashing down in the Pacific Ocean. The interesting question, I think, is how this impacts their credibility–they continually threaten war, testing, and proliferation, but then continually fail when they try to make good. And yet, within the DPRK, this is a reaffirmation of North Korean resistance and US surrender. To the rest of the world, well, I don’t think it helps North Korea make any friends.

Obama invoked the UNSC, which was nice, but (predictably?), no one could agree on anything. Russia and China were not happy with the test, but it seems there’s a difference between not liking the test and allowing the SC to sanction a state for violation of a resolution. We shall see how much more fun this makes Stephen Bosworth’s job.

–Pirates take a US cargo ship. Charli has that covered, but as I mentioned to a couple of students we’re working with on a Pirate project this summer, Now things might start to get interesting. Which is to say, we’ll see if the US changes its tune at all when US interests / persons / items are at risk.

–Opening day for baseball, lets go Cleveland!!!


SecDef to Military: Buy weapons you can use

In a clear case of what would be called stating the obvious if it were said by the leader of any other organization other than the Pentagon,

Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates issued a clear warning to the military and its industrial partners on Tuesday that expensive, new conventional weapons must prove their value to current conflicts, marked by insurgency and terrorism, if they hope for a place in future budgets.

because the headline “Gates Wants Weapons Useful in Current Conflicts” sure sounds obvious to me.

More Gates:

“I have noticed too much of a tendency towards what might be called ‘Next-War-itis’ — the propensity of much of the defense establishment to be in favor of what might be needed in a future conflict…. Overall, the kinds of capabilities we will most likely need in the years ahead will often resemble the kinds of capabilities we need today.”

Its hard to miss the clear reference to mega-programs like the F-22–billions of dollars for a next-generation air superiority fighter that is all but useless in the conflicts like Iraq, Afghanistan, or the whole GWOT (honorable mention might also be the Army’s FCS or any number of Navy ships).

Rob at LGM has done some excellent posting on recent Air Force tomfoolery. As Rob has documented, this is not the first time Gates has called out the services on spending and mission priorities.

I think, though, two elements of the speech and NYT report are notable above and beyond the trends Rob has pointed out.

1. Gates’ neologism of “Next-War-itis.” The military has long used the fear / threat of a future war with a peer competitor (read China–for an example, see here) to justify weapons acquisitions programs. This new rhetorical commonplace (dap to ptj) opens a space to challenge that narrative (by ridicule) and legitimate a different set of policies, programs, and budget priorities. Buying the FCS or F-22 is ‘Next-War-itis’ while the MRAP or a Predator is the weapon we need today and will probably need tomorrow as well.

2. The lead of the article notes that Gates was speaking to “the military and its industrial partners.” As is well known, the services are supported by a fantastic lobbying organization known as the Military Industrial Complex. While the Army or Air Force can’t officially lobby Congress to insert yet another plane or tank into the budget that wasn’t requested, the military contractors have no problem making that case. Any reform in military acquisitions will necessarily involve dealing with those who build the stuff, and Gates is letting them know that they too are On Notice.

As a friend of mine might say, you wonder if a Democrat could get away with saying these things….


“Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice Betrays Impatience with President’s Toy Airplane Antics”

Actually, this picture accompanies news of a leaked memo outlining plans to divert spending for high-tech weaponry, including the F-35, to Iraq and Afghanistan.

Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice witnesses the signing of the Joint Strike Fighter Memorandum of Understanding between the U.S. and Australia in the Treaty Room of the U.S. State Department in Washington, December 12, 2006. The White House plans to shift $3.2 billion in defense spending – partly from new weapons like the Lockheed Martin Corp. F-35 Joint Strike Fighter – to support troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, a trade publication reported on Monday. (Larry Downing/Reuters)

Part of me thinks this is merely a trial balloon designed to put pressure on Congress to allocate more money to the war. But it wouldn’t be a terrible thing to delay some of these projects–many of which really serve no short-term strategic purpose–to more pressing needs.

Of course, if the Administration really wants to adequately fund the war and ensure another hundred years of US conventional superiority, they could always eliminate a tax cut or two. After all, we are at war and all.


The Svalbard Threat

Artist’s rendition of the Svalbard Air, Nuclear, Land, Sea, and Polar Bear Forces

Can someone explain to me why the CIA World Factbook lists Svalbard as ranking 22nd in military defense expenditures (at $ 5,501,000,000)?

Most of the sources I can find seem to agree that Svalbard, a territory of Norway, was demilitarized as part of the 1920 Paris Treaty.

I’m not the only one to have noticed this, of course.

Is someone at the Agency a Pullman fan?


Image Sources:


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