Voices from Russia

Saturday, 21 June 2008

A View from Moscow by Valentin Zorin… The Military Budget and the Electoral Race

US Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND) (1948- ), Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee


Although the American electoral race is just entering its final stage, hundreds of speeches have already been made, a variety of subjects broached, and insulting remarks and what is known as below-the-belt blows exchanged by the presidential candidates. Furthermore, the presidential hopefuls never missed a chance to lash out at Russia. However, there is one thing that they’ve made no mention of. The White House’s draft of next year’s federal budget is left unmentioned. After Senator Kent Conrad (D-ND), the chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, became acquainted with the incredibly big three-trillion-dollar  (70.553 trillion roubles. 1.922 trillion euros. 1.517 trillion UK pounds) budget, he accused the outgoing President of leaving a legacy of “utter disaster”.

Unfortunately, it isn’t only the bloated budget for 2009 that the problem boils down to. I assume that presidential candidates have to decide how they’re going to feel about the biggest military spending of the post-Second World War years. The military budget of the USA tops the total of the military budgets of all other nations taken together. Plans to spend nearly 500 billion dollars (11.758 billion roubles. 320 billion euros. 252 billion UK pounds) in all sorts of military ventures are what the next President of the United States shall inherit from President Bush. The black hole of the war in Iraq is where a good part of that money is likely to go. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel Prize winner and professor at Harvard University, speaks in his new book about “the three trillion dollar (see above) war” in Iraq, that there’s no such thing as a free war. The reckless war in Iraq definitely weakened the US economy. It’s impossible to spend three trillion dollars (see above) on a sure-to-be-lost war and evade payment for doing this.

What that celebrated Harvard professor speaks about, a weaker economy and today’s economic recession, is the price that the USA has to pay for its military operation in Iraq. Oh… one other thing. According to Professor Stiglitz, America has to pay a price for the highly ambitious strategy for national security known as the Bush Doctrine. That document says that America should aim for military superiority because the USA should rely on only on itself, for if it fails to recruit other nations to join it, it should have the strength to launch unilateral efforts. The Bush Doctrine explains why the USA has heated up the arms race and boosted its arms spending, and this presses down an unbearable burden on the national economy.



Anxious to make both ends meet and reduce the steadily-growing budget deficit, President Bush did what no other President has done; he raised his hand against as many as 140 major national social programmes. With the Bureau of the Census claiming that more than 37 million Americans live below the poverty line, the 43rd President of the United States asks Congress to axe what are vitally-important safety-net programs for his needier compatriots. This is the price that Americans have to pay for the onerous military doctrines drawn up by ambitious Washingtonian policymakers. What shall bring them to reason? It looks like a defeat in the reckless war in Iraq cooked up by the think-tank creators of the Bush doctrine doesn’t, the drawn-out war in Afghanistan doesn’t, the economic problems that explain the shrinking dollar don’t, and, even more, the worldwide wave of anti-American feeling doesn’t. Attempts are being made to saddle the USA and its next President with a record-high military budget that might destroy the ailing national economy.

This makes the silence in the speeches of the presidential contenders unnatural and almost inexplicable. I can find no mention, let alone criticism, of the well-known and notorious Bush Doctrine in what the contenders in the electoral race said. The new round of the arms race isn’t a topic for discussion in electoral debates. However, attempts to cut corners and replace concentration on crucial national problems with idle talk are unrealistic and worthless, from the point of view of politics. No matter what happens, the next President of the USA shall have to bear a heavy burden of obligation to settle those problems.

14 March 2008

Valentin Zorin

Voice of Russia World Service




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