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People _ Power - America_s War Games.mp4

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 America's War Games  Aljazerra  2013 

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How the Obama administration is redefining the US military's strategic priorities with far-reaching consequences.

The United States' military expenditures today account for about 40 percent of the world total. In 2012, the US spent some $682bn on its military - an amount more than what was spent by the next 13 countries combined.

Now that the war in Iraq is over and the withdrawal of US troops from Afghanistan will be complete in 2014, the stage might therefore appear to be set for a decrease in US defence spending. Even in Washington DC, many have argued that the defence budget can be cut substantially and the resulting "peace dividend" could be diverted to more pressing domestic concerns, such as dealing with the nation's continuing economic problems.

However, a battle to ward off cuts to the Pentagon's budget has begun and the way things are going, it seems likely that the US will have the smallest drawdown or reduction of the military budget after a period of conflict since World War II - in comparative terms, smaller than after Vietnam, Korea and the end of the Cold War. 

Pentagon officials, defence companies, politicians and conservative commentators argue that defence cuts will be devastating for the military and the economy. Others point out that after sequestration, the Pentagon's base defence budget, which does not include additional funds for the war in Afghanistan - will remain above the Cold War average, and close to the highest level since World War II.

The Pentagon and defence contractors low-ball costs and exaggerate performance in the early stages of a project to "turn on the money spigot". Then the companies engage in "political engineering," they spread the contracts and employment for a weapon around to as many Congressional districts as possible. They do that so that once cost-overruns and performance problems become apparent, "you can't do anything about it [because] there's too much political support", said an analyst. 
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Pork barrel deal-making that goes on in Congress over weapons projects also makes it hard to secure a peace dividend. According to William Hartung of the Center for International Policy, "there will be a sort of log rolling process where you know, ΓÇÿI'll support your weapons system if you support my weapons system.' And so once that horse trading goes on, then it's much harder to cut anything."

Two years ago, the US army announced that it could save close to $2.8bn by pausing production of the Abrams M1 tank. Ray Odierno, the army chief of staff, said the M1 fleet was in good shape and no more tanks were needed. The Pentagon does not see much use for the M1 in confronting 21st century threats like terrorism and piracy. However, Congress did not go along. Over the last two years, it has provided $355bn to keep the M1 production line rolling at the Joint Systems Manufacturing Center in Lima, Ohio.

General Dynamics, which operates the tank plant, spent $22m on lobbying Congress over the past two years, and about $2m on campaign contributions. According to the David Berger, the mayor of Lima, General Dynamics also put together a study claiming that it would be more cost-effective to keep the tank plant open now than to reopen the plant in the future if it was needed. The company would not send us the cost study, and declined our request for an interview.

Pentagon contractors have "for years used the jobs argument to revive weapons systems that have been cancelled. To push for things that even the Pentagon itself has not wanted," says a military insider.

For months, a study has been circulating in Washington, underwritten by the Aerospace Industries Association, a major defence industry trade group. It claims that a million jobs would be lost as a result of sequestration cuts to defence spending,

The White House and the Pentagon chose to ignore the statutory requirement for a $50bn reduction mandated by sequestration. They apparently hope that sequestration can be overturned, and defence budget cuts already agreed to, reversed. Instead of laying the groundwork for a peace dividend by putting the Pentagon on a glide path to smaller budgets, the administration's proposal projects increases in America's base defence budget over the next five years.

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