My prior blog bagan an examination of several aspects of President Obama’s inaugural speech and this blog continues that examination.
III. Military Spending
I said before that military spending is tied to bringing people out of poverty. According to budget analysis groups such as the National Priorities Project, Inc., military spending accounts for 57 percent of discretionary spending — the spending that Congress actually votes on. When President Obama released his 10-year projection of Pentagon spending, it came to just under $6.5 trillion; furthermore,as an ultimate result of the debt ceiling talks, both major political parties came to an agreement to cut $1.2 trillion in spending over ten years, half to come from military spending. Obama said he would hold Republicans — many of whom were chafing at the military spending sequestration — to their agreement. Yet when the newly appointed Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta, testified before Congress, he said the military sequestration would seriously damage the Defense Department’s mission. Why would Obama promise to honor the military spending sequestration and then send his Defense Secretary to Congress to condemn the sequestration? Note that a $500 to $600 billion cut over ten years would be less than a ten percent cut in projected military spending.
The “Pacific Pivot,” or “Asia-Pacific Pivot,” adds a whole new dimension to military spending, further reducing the money available to fund domestic needs. Both Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta have said that 60 percent of U.S. military resources are being shifted from Europe and the Middle East to the Asia-Pacific region.
The U.S. already has 219 bases in the Asia-Pacific region to China’s zero. The island of Jeju off the southern tip of South Korea is the planned site of a joint South Korean-U.S. naval base that is is being heavily protested by the Tamna people of Gangjeme village. Jeju will be a major geostratgetic point in a growing constellation of militarized points focused around China.
China, which was once labeled the “yellow peril” to keep the big money flowing to the military-industrial complex, is now serving the same function with the “Asia-Pacific Pivot.”
IV. Civil Liberties
Civil liberties are a major concern of progressives; however, the inaugural speech provided no indication that Obama will change his very restrictive civil liberty views, adopted virtually full-blown from those of George W. Bush. Obama spports extraordinary detention, indefinite detention, warrantless wiretapping and the Patriot Act. Although he claims to be hell-on-wheels against torture, when he led the effort to amend the Military Commissions Act of 2006 to give detainees more legal rights, he didn’t try to delete the provision which gives the president the power to permit the CIA to use torture under national secrity grounds. There is also good reason to believe that torture has been employed in Afghanistan during the Obama administration: Afghan detainees have testified to sleep deprivation and subjection to extremely cold temperatures as being two of the interrogation tactics being used against them.
President Obama has also signed bills which allow indefinite detention of U.S. citizens, based on ambiguous language in the bills; however, his most unforgiveable action is his assumption of the right to order the murder of U.S. citizens. Reportedly, every Tuesday, Obama sits down with his top national security advisor, John Brennan, the nominee to be CIA chief, and draws up a “kill list.” Besides the targeted killing of the U.S. cleric in Yemen, two other U.S. citizens have been killed as a result of collatral damage.
 Koohan Paik and Jerry Mander, “Blowback in the Pacific,” The Nation, January 21, 2013.