Supporters of President Barack Obama are contending that a second term for him would differ significantly from the first term, because he wouldn’t be saddled with as many “Bluedog” Democrats in the U.S. House; those who deserted the Democratic Party in the 2010 elections would come back due to fear of the election of a Republican president; and Obama would no longer need to trim his agenda to get re-elected. I believe that these kinds of contentions are rendered wistful in nature when looked at in terms of Obama’s performance to date and what he has revealed about his future courses of action. So what follows is a detailed look at where President Obama has stood on the issues and what he has revealed about his future plans.
1) A Bloated Pentagon – The United States, with about five percent of the world’s population, accounts for almost half of world military spending. In President Obama’s FY 2012 budget, he submitted a ten-year projection of Pentagon spending totaling nearly $6.4 trillion. Obama’s 12-year plan calls for only $400 billion in military spending cuts, or about five percent of projected spending in those years. The $6.4 trillion spending figure covers the base Pentagon budget and the cost of ongoing wars; it doesn’t cover the category of militarily-related spending, which some analysts believe to be a more accurate picture of what is spent on the military.
President Obama has also appointed a defense secretary, Leon Panetta, who sees any further cuts in military spending as disastrous for our national security.
2) More Nukes – President Obama gave a speech early in his presidency, in which he painted a picture of a world without nuclear weapons. Since the speech, the only action Obama has taken to reduce the number of nuclear warheads has been the New START treaty with Russia. Getting that treaty ratified in the U.S. Senate was costly, however, because to get it, Obama poured many billions of dollars into a nuclear weapons modernization program.
The heart of that modernization program is the building of three new facilities, which will quadruple the capacity to build nuclear warheads. The Pentagon’s JASON study found that the nation’s nuclear stockpile is safe and reliable for another 100 years or more. Besides the estimated $185 billion to be spent on modernization and delivery systems over 10 years, the future blueprint includes a new nuclear weapons-equipped submarine fleet and a new bomber capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
3) A Sprawling Intelligence Empire – There has been a tremendous expansion of building complexes, organizations, locations for intelligence work, personnel and spending since 9/11, as chronicled in a series run in the Washington Post. In the presidential campaign, Barack Obama promised to rein in the intelligence empire and increase its transparency; however, as set forth in a PBS “Frontline” program, he has taken no action to reduce the growth of this empire. Obama actually requested more intelligence funding in his FY 2012 budget than Congress was willing to give him The Obama administration also strongly objected to the request by Congress for more information on what is happening in Guantanamo and more information on government-to-government contacts. So much for the campaign pledge of more intelligence transparency.
4) Increased Focus on Anti-Missile Defense – President Obama has followed the practice of prior presidents in continuing the funding of Ronald Reagan’s Star Wars fantasy, which purported to destroy oncoming ballistic missiles (ICBMs) Not only have these anti-missile missiles failed many tests, but they stand as an admission that the national government has no faith in the large deterrent inventory of offensive missiles.
President Obama has also continued the George W. Bush plan to station anti-missile missiles in Eastern Europe to protect against Iran improbably launching nuclear warheads in that direction. The only change he has made in the Bush plan is to protect against short-range missiles, rather than long-range ones. This deployment has seriously strained relations with Russia.
5) Greater Use of Drones – The best estimate of the Obama administration’s use of drones is that it has quadrupled attacks by drones over what it was under George W. Bush. Great Britain’s Guardian newspaper says that the Obama White House has or is making use of drones in six countries: Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Somalia and Yemen. Missile strikes by drones would, in days before the War on Terrorism, have been considered to be acts of war.
Some analysts fear that the growing popularity of drones in the world may make wars more likely because there are no pilots to be exposed to harm.
Subsequent blogs will continue on this theme of what we might expect from a second Obama term.