The New Red Scare

From Andrew Cockburn:

In one sense, the new Red Scare has had the desired and entirely predictable result. Defense spending, though hurt by troop wind-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan, is now exhibiting renewed vigor. Introducing its upcoming $583 billion budget in 2016, the Pentagon specifically cited “Russian aggression” as a rationale for spending. NATO allies have meanwhile pledged to increase their defense spending to 2 percent of GDP.

Yet despite all the rhetoric, practical responses to the “existential threat” have been curiously modest. Even with 480,000 troops, the U.S. Army generates surprisingly little fighting power. According to its chief of staff, this force is hard-pressed to field more than a third of its “ready” 4,500-man brigades, overwhelmingly light infantry, that can deploy and fight in less than a month. “These are paltry numbers for a force that approaches nearly a half-million,” Douglas Macgregor, a former colonel and pungent commentator on defense topics, wrote me recently. To achieve “this stellar result,” added Macgregor, the U.S. Army has eleven four-star generals scattered throughout the world.

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