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Old December 26th, 2010, 07:59 AM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Too much military spending.

December 25, 2010
The Big (Military) Taboo

By NICHOLAS D. KRISTOF

NY Times

We face wrenching budget cutting in the years ahead, but there’s one huge area of government spending that Democrats and Republicans alike have so far treated as sacrosanct.
It’s the military/security world, and it’s time to bust that taboo. A few facts:
• The United States spends nearly as much on military power as every other country in the world combined, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute. It says that we spend more than six times as much as the country with the next highest budget, China.
• The United States maintains troops at more than 560 bases and other sites abroad, many of them a legacy of a world war that ended 65 years ago. Do we fear that if we pull our bases from Germany, Russia might invade?
• The intelligence community is so vast that more people have “top secret” clearance than live in Washington, D.C.
• The U.S. will spend more on the war in Afghanistan this year, adjusting for inflation, than we spent on the Revolutionary War, the War of 1812, the Mexican-American War, the Civil War and the Spanish-American War combined.
This is the one area where elections scarcely matter. President Obama, a Democrat who symbolized new directions, requested about 6 percent more for the military this year than at the peak of the Bush administration.
“Republicans think banging the war drums wins them votes, and Democrats think if they don’t chime in, they’ll lose votes,” said Andrew Bacevich, an ex-military officer who now is a historian at Boston University. He is author of a thoughtful recent book, “Washington Rules: America’s Path to Permanent War.”
The costs of excessive reliance on military force are not just financial, of course, as Professor Bacevich knows well. His son, Andrew Jr., an Army first lieutenant, was killed in Iraq in 2007.

For more, see the NYTImes.

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Old December 26th, 2010, 12:00 PM   #2 (permalink)
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so you can build 20 schools for $1,000 each? Thats about what an E-1 in the military basically makes starting out.

Plus the military has been downsized over the years. I know when I was in we had 8 B-52 bases in the US. they closed 6 of those bases and retired the B-52G. They have closed other bases over the years too.

What would you like no military? We get rid of the service men and women? All that will do is drive up unemployment even higher.

Lots of times diplomacy fails. look at iraq we tried diplomacy with Saddam. even UN sanctions but still he didnt change his ways. Same goes for Afghanistan how do you rationalize with talks with a group of people that would rather stick a knife in your chest than to talk to you. You can give those people all the education in the world and they will be still the same way. Religion is a very powerful tool and hard to show a person that their god dont want bloodshed. Look at long time ago the pope was the most powerful person in the christian world. He was more powerful than kings and could have them removed on a word. Why? Everyone thought the pope talked directly to god. Even now many people think the pope is a direct link to god.

You know how we can save money in the military? Get rid of the contractors that supplies the military. You really think $40 for a hammer is the going rate or a bolt I could get in a hardware store for $2. where as the military pays $20 for the same one. Its the civilians thats bleeding the military dry and why their budgets are so high. Get rid of these contracts and go to the local hardware store and so on to get the supplies you need. You also help the local community the base is at instead of some guy ripping off the gov selling parts for outrageous prices. That is where you save money in the military.
 
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Old December 26th, 2010, 05:41 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Oh, I don't know: downsizing the US military might be a good thing.

Then Europe can defend their own damn area, instead of having US troops on hand in case something goes wrong.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 06:16 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Oh, I don't know: downsizing the US military might be a good thing.

Then Europe can defend their own damn area, instead of having US troops on hand in case something goes wrong.

After WW II, we remained in Europe as we did because of Soviet aggression, the Cold War, as it were. There are some areas of unrest in the former Soviet states in Europe, but I really don't think we have many concerns these days about the Russians or about the Germans.

There are those who think we can cut our military in half. That's something worth discussing and seriously, once the economy improves, there are jobs for mustered out military folks, and our defense contractors can expand into other lines of work.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 07:55 PM   #5 (permalink)
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After WW II, we remained in Europe as we did because of Soviet aggression, the Cold War, as it were. There are some areas of unrest in the former Soviet states in Europe, but I really don't think we have many concerns these days about the Russians or about the Germans.

There are those who think we can cut our military in half. That's something worth discussing and seriously, once the economy improves, there are jobs for mustered out military folks, and our defense contractors can expand into other lines of work.
What about china and also north korea? SUre it costs a lot for keeping bases over in europe. Bet it costs more if we had to ship everything over to europe from the states when an aggressor acts up.
 
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Old December 26th, 2010, 08:39 PM   #6 (permalink)
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What about china and also north korea? SUre it costs a lot for keeping bases over in europe. Bet it costs more if we had to ship everything over to europe from the states when an aggressor acts up.

You don't seriously think we're going to get into a shooting war with China, do you?

As for the North Koreans, we've already had our war with them, and it turned out to be a draw. I don't see another war with them.

We could be using half the military budget to rebuild the infrastructure in this country and put a lot of people to work.

The problem with having a big, aggressive military and officers who want promotions is that you tend to use that military in wars of choice, such as George W. Bush's war against Iraq.
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Old December 26th, 2010, 08:57 PM   #7 (permalink)
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No but you never know what can happen. Didnt we fight germany in 2 world wars? So dont say we will never fight N. Korea. after all they are testing the south very hard and if they do go to war then we will be drawn in. How can the money from the military be used for rebuilding the country? When our gov will squander the money like they always do. More and more companies will move their busness out the country. Because the American worker is greedy and always want more money., Just like Buisness owners tries to create a product as cheap as possible for the greatest profit margins.

every society has had a military. You have to protect what you create. if you dont protect it someone else will want it and take it by force.
 
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Old December 26th, 2010, 11:31 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Let's see... what WAS the main reason for keeping the bases we have all over the world in place again?

Oh yeah... "projection of force". It let's the world know that we're still doing the job we accepted of "world policeman".

How long after we withdraw our military presence (close the bases, stop the Naval cruises) before something would spring up that would need us to do it all over again?
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Old December 27th, 2010, 01:17 AM   #9 (permalink)
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What about china and also north korea? SUre it costs a lot for keeping bases over in europe. Bet it costs more if we had to ship everything over to europe from the states when an aggressor acts up.
Most unlikely. China is now America's best friend. isn't it? Besides where would else would America go to get things manufactured on the cheap?
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Old December 27th, 2010, 08:42 AM   #10 (permalink)
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There is no way there will be a war between China and the US
Firstly: the US wouldnt start the military action
Secondly: China wouldnt, there economy would collapse
Thirdly: China would lose
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Old December 28th, 2010, 05:51 AM   #11 (permalink)
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There is no way there will be a war between China and the US
Firstly: the US wouldnt start the military action
Secondly: China wouldnt, there economy would collapse
Thirdly: China would lose
That's what they said about vietnam. They would lose.
 
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Old December 28th, 2010, 06:13 AM   #12 (permalink)
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That's what they said about vietnam. They would lose.
Gorrilla warfare
What I mean is that if China attacked the US, they would be annihilated and also ofc unable to invade
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Old December 28th, 2010, 06:38 AM   #13 (permalink)
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Gorrilla warfare
What I mean is that if China attacked the US, they would be annihilated and also ofc unable to invade
I wouldn't be too sure about the outcome. If neither side used nukes, it would become a war of attrition. We were "attrited" out of Vietnam. Keep in mind that the US has not won a war against a significant military power since WW II.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 06:46 AM   #14 (permalink)
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So we keep spending on the military, and become so damn poor that every other country will own us. Does not seem to smart to me.

This country is in trouble folks. We need to do tough cuts. The military should be included.

Otherwise we will lose economically and spend our way into ruin.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 07:34 AM   #15 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be too sure about the outcome. If neither side used nukes, it would become a war of attrition. We were "attrited" out of Vietnam. Keep in mind that the US has not won a war against a significant military power since WW II.

Well nukes are the big "if"
China wouldnt run that risk, what 200 crappy nukes against 2000 of the finest (tho 200 would be enough)

If you look at the world powers, none of them will wage a serious war with the US or EU

The US has very little to worry about

As for Afghanistan, countries like France, Spain, Ita;y, Germany need to start genuinely contributing
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Old December 28th, 2010, 11:00 AM   #16 (permalink)
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You know how we can save money in the military? Get rid of the contractors that supplies the military. You really think $40 for a hammer is the going rate or a bolt I could get in a hardware store for $2. where as the military pays $20 for the same one. Its the civilians thats bleeding the military dry and why their budgets are so high. Get rid of these contracts and go to the local hardware store and so on to get the supplies you need. You also help the local community the base is at instead of some guy ripping off the gov selling parts for outrageous prices. That is where you save money in the military.
This isn't how it works. There are a few problems.
1) Selling to the government requires a lot of paperwork. You can't just go buy it from your local hardware store, sorry.
2) The reason you hear stories about the $400 hammer, is because they want a hammer you CAN'T get at the hardware store -- they take the specifications of two existing hammers, and combine them. No existing hammer manufacturer has the setup to produce those hammers, so they charge $400 per hammer to set up their production line for a hammer to the specifications -- it's the governments inefficiency (failure to change specifications when asked) that causes the high prices, not greed.

https://www.gsaadvantage.gov/advgsa/advantage/search/search.do?BV_UseBVCookie=Yes&cat=ADV.S10&sk=AB5BE& query=hammer&find.x=0&find.y=0

The first result, it looks like it retails for $25. Government buys it for $20 per.

Now, the government also tends to get prices better than those on the schedules for large purchases, so keep that in mind.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 11:33 AM   #17 (permalink)
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Well nukes are the big "if"
China wouldnt run that risk, what 200 crappy nukes against 2000 of the finest (tho 200 would be enough)
I think you are a little bit off on your assumptions about US nukes.

Most of our nukes are around 30-50 years old. We aren't talking the finest. When Iran and North Korea get advanced nuclear abilities, their nukes will better than ours.

The military would like to retire some of our nuclear arsenal and build ones that are better.

We aren't even sure if half our nukes would even go off...

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As for Afghanistan, countries like France, Spain, Ita;y, Germany need to start genuinely contributing
How about all over the world. I'm tired of being the policing force of the world. Let the rest of the world do it.

Let's see Europe start putting their troops in harms way, and see how well that goes.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 11:35 AM   #18 (permalink)
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I wouldn't be too sure about the outcome. If neither side used nukes, it would become a war of attrition. We were "attrited" out of Vietnam. Keep in mind that the US has not won a war against a significant military power since WW II.
Oh, I absolutely agree.

Even if we decide to use nukes, there's no guarantee that we will actually be able to.

For one thing, China has demonstrated the ability to take out satellites. Every one of our nukes is satellite guided. This means that China has the ability to make sure our nukes do not reach the target.

How scary is that. China can nuke us, and we may not be able to nuke China.

That's if our nukes even still work.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #19 (permalink)
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I think you are a little bit off on your assumptions about US nukes.

Most of our nukes are around 30-50 years old. We aren't talking the finest. When Iran and North Korea get advanced nuclear abilities, their nukes will better than ours.

The military would like to retire some of our nuclear arsenal and build ones that are better.

We aren't even sure if half our nukes would even go off...
....
ROFLMAO... this is the most crazy and saddest comment I have ever read. You truly have no knowledge of the US nuclear program, do you??
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Old December 28th, 2010, 01:34 PM   #20 (permalink)
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Oh, I absolutely agree.

Even if we decide to use nukes, there's no guarantee that we will actually be able to.

For one thing, China has demonstrated the ability to take out satellites. Every one of our nukes is satellite guided. This means that China has the ability to make sure our nukes do not reach the target.

How scary is that. China can nuke us, and we may not be able to nuke China.

That's if our nukes even still work.
ROFLMAO... your credibility is shot, gone. No idea what you're talking about, at all!!!

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Old December 28th, 2010, 01:45 PM   #21 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by byteware View Post
Oh, I absolutely agree.

Even if we decide to use nukes, there's no guarantee that we will actually be able to.

For one thing, China has demonstrated the ability to take out satellites. Every one of our nukes is satellite guided. This means that China has the ability to make sure our nukes do not reach the target.

How scary is that. China can nuke us, and we may not be able to nuke China.

That's if our nukes even still work.

Someone has been playing too many video games....
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Old December 28th, 2010, 01:48 PM   #22 (permalink)
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I think you are a little bit off on your assumptions about US nukes.
I believe the US has over 4500 nukes (tho this will fall with the new START [?])
I'd say 2000 is a reasonable estimate of ones developed after the early 70's, which should be all 100% fine

Quote:
Most of our nukes are around 30-50 years old. We aren't talking the finest.
seems more like 20-40 years old
Quote:
When Iran and North Korea get advanced nuclear abilities, their nukes will better than ours.
I highly doubt that
Seriously
Quote:
The military would like to retire some of our nuclear arsenal and build ones that are better.
of course they would
new ships, APCs, helis, tanks too
Quote:
We aren't even sure if half our nukes would even go off...
ah come on..

Quote:
How about all over the world. I'm tired of being the policing force of the world. Let the rest of the world do it.

Let's see Europe start putting their troops in harms way, and see how well that goes.
the UK does
Other countries focus on defensive action (eg Germany)
I'd certainly like to see them contribute more
An EU military is probably the way to go, and Maastricht, Nice & Lisbon were important steps towards that, but it'll take quite a while (25 years at the least)

As for other countries: who? Japan cant really, China doesnt have the Ai & Sea capabilities and seems to be quite wary of helping NATO out, Brazil, Argentina, Mexico possibly but I am not completely up on their militaries (tho I could see Brazil joining NATO [I know its South Atlantic ] if heir economic growth coninues and their lust for influence likewise), Russia and NATO dont mix, India LOL, Australia helps out, who else?
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Old December 28th, 2010, 02:55 PM   #23 (permalink)
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Oh, I absolutely agree.

Even if we decide to use nukes, there's no guarantee that we will actually be able to.

For one thing, China has demonstrated the ability to take out satellites. Every one of our nukes is satellite guided. This means that China has the ability to make sure our nukes do not reach the target.

How scary is that. China can nuke us, and we may not be able to nuke China.

That's if our nukes even still work.
This is 100% wrong as I know the nukes that we have on the B-52 was not satellite guided. I should know as I was a crew chief on it. You learn a few things about the weapons. So you need to ck your sources again.
 
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Old December 28th, 2010, 03:01 PM   #24 (permalink)
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There are more than 4500 nukes. Look at the 3 bombers the Air Force has. There are the B-52, B-1B, B-2. Not to mention the ones fighters can carry. Not even counting the ones the navy and army has.
 
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Old December 28th, 2010, 04:13 PM   #25 (permalink)
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There are more than 4500 nukes. Look at the 3 bombers the Air Force has. There are the B-52, B-1B, B-2. Not to mention the ones fighters can carry. Not even counting the ones the navy and army has.
CMIIW, but wasnt the use of B-52's to carry nuclear warheads discontinued?
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Old December 28th, 2010, 04:19 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally Posted by Reuters
The Pentagon said it had a total of 5,113 warheads in its nuclear stockpile at the end of September, down 84 percent from a peak of 31,225 in 1967. The arsenal stood at 22,217 warheads when the Berlin Wall fell in 1989
I doubt those 5000 are broken or past sell-by
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Old December 28th, 2010, 04:27 PM   #27 (permalink)
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CMIIW, but wasnt the use of B-52's to carry nuclear warheads discontinued?
NOPE they still carry them as it's one of it's primary rolls.
 
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Old December 28th, 2010, 04:37 PM   #28 (permalink)
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I think the important thing to take from the original post is that military spending keeps going up, along with our debt, while cuts are being made everywhere else. Schools is the big thing for me. Somehow we are supposed to educate our children for the future but schools are getting cuts all the time. Don't get me wrong, money is not the number one issue with why the average American student is now an imbecile, but it certainly doesn't help.
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Old December 28th, 2010, 04:56 PM   #29 (permalink)
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I think the important thing to take from the original post is that military spending keeps going up, along with our debt, while cuts are being made everywhere else. Schools is the big thing for me. Somehow we are supposed to educate our children for the future but schools are getting cuts all the time. Don't get me wrong, money is not the number one issue with why the average American student is now an imbecile, but it certainly doesn't help.
Why pick on the military ? I mean at least you can see where the money goes to. Why not focus on congress and all that money they get for their bills but never see that money in action. Just like here in va the lottery was suppose to fund the schools. Now they are looking into where that money is as the schools sure don't have it. The military is such an easy target. I for one would rather see the money goto the military than some congressman pet project.
 
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Old December 28th, 2010, 11:15 PM   #30 (permalink)
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Why pick on the military ? I mean at least you can see where the money goes to. Why not focus on congress and all that money they get for their bills but never see that money in action. Just like here in va the lottery was suppose to fund the schools. Now they are looking into where that money is as the schools sure don't have it. The military is such an easy target. I for one would rather see the money goto the military than some congressman pet project.
Everything else has been picked. The military is one area that has not been. That's the discussion at hand. Did you even read the very first post???
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Old December 29th, 2010, 01:14 AM   #31 (permalink)
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Nuclear Weapons: Who Has What at a Glance | Arms Control Association

Ours are working.

GPS targeting systems are avoided in favor of other means.

EDIT and PS - in my mind, I totally said this earlier - Personally, I don't find that byteware making a simple mistake on how nukes are targeted destroys his credibility. One boo-boo doesn't erase a history of insightful posts, whether any you agree with his position or not - you've all agreed in each other's validity on enough topics to argue out the truth.
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Old December 30th, 2010, 05:50 PM   #32 (permalink)
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So much to address in this thread.

First, I'm not sure anyone in here read the article, or if they did they failed to take away what the writer intended.

His bottom line point was not that we spend too much on our military (although that's a big component of his article), it's that in the foreign policy department we tend to rely more on our military, and not enough on diplomacy. He does recognize the necessity of a strong and robust military to back up foreign policy when diplomacy fails.

I think that the issue is much more complex than he can summarize in his short snippet. This issue has been way oversimplified.

I'll try to summarize my thoughts into a few sentences....... The military in Europe, and around the world for that matter, are there for many more reasons other than show of force. They fill a unique niche in the Foreign Policy department that Department of State, or other diplomatic channels couldn't fill. There are others areas that other facets of Diplomacy could certainly fill, but you are just robbing peter to pay paul, it's a Zero sum game. You cut the Military Budget and responsibilities in those areas, and you will end up plussing up in other areas of the government.

On to the other Tangents:

China vs US: I think you guys are looking at China vs the US through too narrow of a lens. Yes it would be highly unlikely that we would go into an all out war with China, but there are complicating factors that could draw us into a conflict with China. China has disputed territories with our allies, Taiwan is a complicated issue all on it's own, North Korea vs Korea....

Regarding the $400 hammer.... those statements are made by folks that do not understand the Government acquisition process. There are some blaring examples of government waste where you can find those $400 examples, but I can promise you those are typically the exception.

Regarding the Nuclear Arsenal. The US has more than 4000 warheads. Most people quote the START treaty as their source for guesstimating the Nuclear stockpiles of the US and Russia. The fallacy there is that the treaty only covers Strategic Nuclear weapons, not the tactical/non-strategic nuclear weapons, and the START treaty only really tracks deployed strategic weapons and their delivery vehicles (Missiles and Bombers), it does not account for any of the non-deployed warheads. Regardless, the terms of the new START treaty is more firepower than anyone in the world will ever need. On the topic of non-strategic nuclear weapons, this is one area the US has not been able to see eye to eye with Russia on.

Regarding B-52's ability to carry Nuclear Weapons. Absolutely. They are counted as a Nuclear weapon under START. Now the USAF has avoided carrying nuclear weapons with warheads attached for many years, I believe mainly because of the accidents they have had. As recent as the early 90's it was common practice for B-52's to sit on alert with Nuclear armed weapons, although that practice too has gone by the way side. Typically the US likes to avoid transporting nuclear armed weapons on nuclear delivery platforms (Submarines the obvious exception), as it can send the wrong political signals plus no one in Louisiana wants to hear about BUFFs flying overhead with nukes. Typically nuclear weapons are transported on cargo aircraft. That's why those nuclear mishaps 3-4 years ago were such a big deal.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 03:03 PM   #33 (permalink)
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Then Europe can defend their own damn area
Sorry, who was it that dragged everyone else in to the illegal under international law wars in the last decade, and want us to help go start another no one can afford?
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Old January 6th, 2011, 03:14 PM   #34 (permalink)
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Typically nuclear weapons are transported on cargo aircraft. That's why those nuclear mishaps 3-4 years ago were such a big deal.
You might be surprised to learn what rolls down your local rail line late at night. Not in all corners of the USA, and almost certainly not in densely populated metro areas. But there are certain areas of the country that handle weapons grade materials vewwy vewwy quietly. It has to get in there somehow.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 03:25 PM   #35 (permalink)
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We need a strong military. Do we need one as large as what we have now? Perhaps not, but we would still need to spend money to keep it trained and deployable. Unfortunately, our historical track record has been to draw down/stand down too much (pre-WW1, pre-WW2, and post-Vietnam as examples) and overspend to compensate later. We also need to get social engineering and political correctness out of the military culture. This is much more debilitating than a $400 hammer. A big chunk of the bloated spending nowadays is spent providing a variety of "sensisitivity/diversity/cultural awareness/try not to blow up their national treasures as you conquer their government" garbage programs.

The military needs to get back to what its fundamental job is: train your soldiers, airmen, and seamen on how to do their jobs under great duress, including life threatening conditions. Train them to be the best fighters possible. When some fanatic is shooting an AK-47 at a soldier, he's not going to ask him to please refrain from blowing up his town square when the soldier shoots back. He's trying to kill him. I'm all for making sure that "they" die for "their" cause first.

War sucks. It should be an absolute last resort in diplomacy. I agree with a previous poster that we use it quicker than we should. Thats another topic. Once the dogs of war are unleashed, that isn't the time to decide what's right about it. Either we play the war card completely and absolutely, or we don't. Doing it halfway ends up getting too many people killed on both sides.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 03:42 PM   #36 (permalink)
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We need a strong military. Do we need one as large as what we have now? Perhaps not, but we would still need to spend money to keep it trained and deployable. Unfortunately, our historical track record has been to draw down/stand down too much (pre-WW1, pre-WW2, and post-Vietnam as examples) and overspend to compensate later. We also need to get social engineering and political correctness out of the military culture. This is much more debilitating than a $400 hammer. A big chunk of the bloated spending nowadays is spent providing a variety of "sensisitivity/diversity/cultural awareness/try not to blow up their national treasures as you conquer their government" garbage programs.

The military needs to get back to what its fundamental job is: train your soldiers, airmen, and seamen on how to do their jobs under great duress, including life threatening conditions. Train them to be the best fighters possible. When some fanatic is shooting an AK-47 at a soldier, he's not going to ask him to please refrain from blowing up his town square when the soldier shoots back. He's trying to kill him. I'm all for making sure that "they" die for "their" cause first.

War sucks. It should be an absolute last resort in diplomacy. I agree with a previous poster that we use it quicker than we should. Thats another topic. Once the dogs of war are unleashed, that isn't the time to decide what's right about it. Either we play the war card completely and absolutely, or we don't. Doing it halfway ends up getting too many people killed on both sides.
Yeah I love the dont fire unless fired upon. If you follow that rule 9 times out of ten your dead. I look at if you are in a war area and carry a weapon. Guess what you're fair game. We have so many laws and rules for war. War is hell and you do anything necessary to win. In the end a Win is a win no matter how you do it. and the winner writes the history.
 
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Old January 6th, 2011, 04:29 PM   #37 (permalink)
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Couple of snippets from another great article...

“Every gun that is made,” Eisenhower told his listeners, “every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” Any nation that pours its treasure into the purchase of armaments is spending more than mere money. “It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children.” To emphasize the point, Eisenhower offered specifics:

The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities … We pay for a single fighter with a half million bushels of wheat. We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people."

-----

"The national-security state continues to grow in size, scope, and influence. In Ike’s day, for example, the CIA dominated the field of intelligence. Today, experts refer casually to an “intelligence community,” consisting of some 17 agencies. The cumulative size and payroll of this apparatus grew by leaps and bounds in the wake of the September 11 attacks. Last July, TheWashington Post reported that it had “become so large, so unwieldy and so secretive that no one knows how much money it costs, how many people it employs, how many programs exist within it or exactly how many agencies do the same work.” Since that report appeared, U.S. officials have parted the veil of secrecy enough to reveal that intelligence spending exceeds $80 billion per year, substantially more than the budget of either the Department of State ($49 billion) or the Department of Homeland Security ($43 billion).

The spending spree extends well beyond intelligence. The Pentagon’s budget has more than doubled in the past decade, to some $700 billion per year. All told, the ostensible imperatives of national security thereby consume roughly half of all federal discretionary dollars. Even more astonishing, annual U.S. military outlays now approximate those of all other nations, friends as well as foes, combined."

-----

"If anything, Eisenhower’s characterization of the cozy relations between the military and corporate worlds understates the contemporary reality. C. Wright Mills came closer to the mark when he wrote of “a coalition of generals in the roles of corporation executives, of politicians masquerading as admirals, of corporation executives acting like politicians.” Add to that list the retired senior officers passing as pundits (often while simultaneously cashing the checks of weapons manufacturers), policy wonks pretending to be field marshals, and journalists eagerly competing to carry water for heroic field commanders. Throw in the former members of Congress who lobby their successors on behalf of defense contractors, and the serving members who vote in favor of any defense appropriations that send money to their districts, and one begins to get a sense of the true topog*raphy.

With what result? Not peace, and not prosperity. Instead, American soldiers traipse wearily from one conflict to the next while the nation as a whole suffers from acute economic distress. What has gone amiss?

In the wake of 9/11, when the George W. Bush admin*istration committed the United States to a global war on terror, it was blithely confident that the U.S. military could win such a conflict handily. Events in Iraq and Afghanistan have since demolished such expectations. The irrefutable lesson of the past decade is this: we know how to start wars, but don’t know how to end them. During the well-armed Eisenhower era, American weapons were largely silent. Today, engagement in actual hostilities has become the new normal, exacting a steep price. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have cost at least $1 trillion—with the meter still running. Some observers estimate that total costs will eventually reach $2 trillion or even $3 trillion."

- theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2011/01/the-tyranny-of-defense-inc/8342/1/

Time for change is long overdue.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 04:48 PM   #38 (permalink)
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The above reminds me of something that has bothered me for awhile.

John Browning was designing weapons in his workshop (without either government regulation nor funding) for most of his life. Two of the weapons he designed (1911 pistol, M2HB machinegun) are still in service close to a century later.

John Garand created what Patton described as "the greatest battle implement ever devised". The M1 rifle is still in use today (in a "modernized" version: action remains fairly unchanged). Again, this was done without government spending or regulation...

Eugene Stoner created what may very well be the ultimate in military small arms, on his own. Hell, he even had to circumvent the normal military procurement system to get his rifle looked at (that was in the 60's: that rifle is still in use today).

Maybe we need to curtail some of the money spent by the military on R&D, and reduce the regulations that keep the "common man" from developing the next generation of weapons. How much money would THAT save?
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Old January 6th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #39 (permalink)
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Back then there were simple family traditions on what gun use was appropriate for and not for - the turning point maybe being in Stoner's time.

The common man still develops weapons systems - I'm reminded of the guy that created the shaped-charge, storm entry system from a good idea and a simple plastic molding, or the tractor guys who developed the high-speed treaded carriage (70 mph?) and turned to their local congress-critter for small funding support and an opportunity to at least be able to show it to the military.

There are parts of our larger cities where government-ok independent gun design and manufacturing might be not the best idea.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 05:01 PM   #40 (permalink)
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Maybe we need to curtail some of the money spent by the military on R&D, and reduce the regulations that keep the "common man" from developing the next generation of weapons. How much money would THAT save?
What needs curtailing is the West's appetite for war and want of dominating the rest of the World, but to do that we need to remove the corporate control of Governments. War in the past made sense, war in 2011 and beyond doesn't, so I personally don't want to see a "next generation" of weapons.

"Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both."

- Abraham Flexner

I know which I would choose.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 08:04 PM   #41 (permalink)
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What needs curtailing is the West's appetite for war and want of dominating the rest of the World, but to do that we need to remove the corporate control of Governments. War in the past made sense, war in 2011 and beyond doesn't, so I personally don't want to see a "next generation" of weapons.

"Probably, no nation is rich enough to pay for both war and civilization. We must make our choice; we cannot have both."

- Abraham Flexner

I know which I would choose.
I agree with much of what you have said. Most especially the removal of Corporations from the Government process. I think far too many people fail to realize how large corporations have completely transformed our economy and government in the last 50 years.

I agree with your sentiment that war in 2011 makes no sense. The problem is, war has NEVER made sense. But it will continue to be a part of humanity, unfortunately.
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Old January 6th, 2011, 10:27 PM   #42 (permalink)
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The military needs to get back to what its fundamental job is: train your soldiers, airmen, and seamen on how to do their jobs under great duress, including life threatening conditions. Train them to be the best fighters possible. When some fanatic is shooting an AK-47 at a soldier, he's not going to ask him to please refrain from blowing up his town square when the soldier shoots back. He's trying to kill him. I'm all for making sure that "they" die for "their" cause first.
The only issue here is that the military is scaled and equipped for the job given to it by the national command authority. The services already do the training and equipping. It's those additional duties the politicians give the military that make it bigger; Establish and maintain presence across multiple key areas in the world, Partnership for Peace through military relations, Theater security cooperation, 911 response force for multiple State Department and Department of Homeland Security core responsibilities (think Haiti relief or domestic disaster response).

If you want a smaller military, then expect to curtail the jobs it's given. But you should also expect other areas of the government to grow if the same level of influence in the world is expected to be maintained.

The old paradigm of the military being just a fighting force died a long time ago.

As far as the US wanting to dominate the rest of the world; I think that's a short sighted statement. The economies of the world are increasingly globalized and countries are increasingly interdependent on each other. To protect the interests of the US (you can insert any other globalized economy into this statement), the government looks for many ways to increase and maintain it's sphere's of influence in the world. Wanting influence in the world is not unique to the US, many of the world powers are guilty of it. Russia and the eastern European countries, China and some east Asia countries are prime examples. Countries that are isolated and only look after their own interests these days are the exception and are often not by choice (Iran, North Korea).
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