Monday, February 20, 2006


The USA's 2006 Quadrennial Defense Review

Maybe I'll better appreciate the ramifications after I've read the QDR and the National Military Strategy for the War on Terror, but for now I am very puzzled by the reactions to the QDR, and particularly by the lack thereof. The editor at the Defense Industry Daily, too, has noticed the roaring silence.

Editor's Note

JK: I strove for greater diversity of opinion in this article, but it has been difficult. Neither the liberal Brookings Foundation nor the New America Foundation had publications covering the QDR at the time this article was run, for instance (a situation that remains unchanged as of February 10, 2006), and they were not unique. This results in a conservative/libertarian weighting to the responses. I also looked for articles that were positive as well as critical, in order to provide a range of perspectives. Unfortunately, that proved something of a Diogenesian search - the 2006 QDR's early "buzz meter" is distinctly unfavourable, even among entities usually supportive of the military.

The mainstream American media seem to have covered it spread in dribs and drabs over two weeks, with no two published the same day. Their coverage looks more like book reviews than news analyses, picking out a few highlights.
The highlights include continued budget growth, no programs cancelled, no growth in headcount, growth in special operations force headcount.

Several days later, on 15 February, The Guardian published "America's Long War" by Simon Tisdall and Ewen MacAskill. This was the first which really grabbed my attention. It began
The message from General Peter Pace, the chairman of the US joint chiefs of staff, was apocalyptic. "We are at a critical time in the history of this great country and find ourselves challenged in ways we did not expect. We face a ruthless enemy intent on destroying our way of life and an uncertain future."

Why does that remind me of Walt Kelly's "we have met the enemy and he is us!"? Maybe the same reason I sometimes wonder whether the only thing George W. Bush learned from the Viet Nam war was "we destroyed the village in order to save it."? My list of ruthless enemies intent on destroying our way of life would include
  1. Everybody denying, ignoring, and generally postponing dealing with global warming.
  2. Bush and Cheney, for taking all the fun out of talking on the phone, and destroying our faith that Big Brother is not listening.
  3. Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld, and the U.S. Congress who, with Gitmo and the AUMF, destroyed our confidence that Americans believe and always apply "innocent until proven guilty".
  4. Genetic technology companies, for ignoring the lessons of kudzu, African bees, rabbits in Australia, poisonous frogs in Australia, snakehead fish, tumbleweed, and so on, working to replace natural organisms by patented ones on as large and profitable a scale as possible.
  5. AIDS (if we can admit this enemy despite its debatable ability to have "intent").
  6. High-tech fishing boats, which are doing to the fish in the sea what Americans did to buffalo (and the Dutch to the dodo-bird), and destroying our
  7. The automobile industry, both for its contribution to distorting our idea of our way of life to comprise personal vehicles and for its aiding and abetting our depletion of the non-renewable petroleum resource.
This list is neither complete nor in order of priority, I just wanted to mention some of the enemies I peruceive to be intent on destroying my way of life.


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