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October 27, 2005

A Budget for Halloween
Posted by Lorelei Kelly

With indictments imminent, DC is very jumpy these days--giving everything the John Stewart-esque-Halloween glow of wacky, ironic foolishness.  In this spirit, I will now proceed to link the DDX destroyer and genocide in the Sudan.

But first a little background.   I grew up in the Berkeley Hills--the original nuclear free zone--where we painted peace doves on the walls in elementary school and figured out ways to hide Salvadoran refugees during the pot lucks at church.  When I was 12, my single parented family moved to Northern New Mexico, where big letters on the way into my new hometown read "Roll Your Own Ammo" and little signs linking the United Nations with satan popped up like baby tumbleweeds on the median. Ah, the 1970's. We went from nuclear family to nuclear fallout in 14 months. 

None of this stuff mattered at age 12 because I soon got a pony.  I do however, think it gave me an ability to rationalize contradictions.  But this skill,  for the life of me,  fails to help me understand the priorities of our elected leaders these days.

I've been wandering around town all week thinking about a discussion on the Sudan that I participated in on Monday.  Discussion leaders included both American humanitarians as well as Sudanese citizens.  Mostly, we covered the African Union  mission presently ongoing in the Sudan (called AMIS). It is a ceasefire monitoring mission now 1.5 years old.  Here is a new ICG report on it. The speakers had  just returned from the Sudan and reported that this mission is under serious stress.   The AMIS soldiers are being shot at  and kidnapped and even killed. The government is not providing security.  The government btw, has AK 47s, artillery and  attack helicopters. AMIS has a few RPGs and rifles.  The monitoring soldiers from 5 different African nations patrol in toyota pickup trucks.  Canada has  recently given 105 armored vehicles--which is generous--but split between  64 teams it is spread thin. This mission  is being tested by roaming violent gangs and the Sudanese government, the speakers believed.  They don't have enough wherewithal nor the mandate to enforce stability.   

The AMIS mission is  like a  trip-wire. It is symbolic. The numbers of soldiers is so small that its most important effect is the show of resolve.   It is a vital test-drive of international willingness to stand for something.  We are not only letting them down, we're missing out on an opportunity to blaze the trail on behalf of early warning and response--key policies for combatting terrorism.

I was thinking about this talk today, as I walked through the Capitol South metro station on my way up to the Hill.  Metro stations are full of large advertisements. This fall,  the defense bills have been wending their way through committees.  Hence fighter planes, guns,submarines and lots of gadet laden soldiers float along the walls of most DC metro stations like an X-box dream menu.  Capitol South had a nautical theme. ....

I learned that the Coast Guard's Deepwater program is made in 41 states.  That the shiny ship I was looking at was "the future of littoral combat" (Fire that ad agency!) and that the DDX destroyer was going to guarantee my freedom.   

Now why couldn't the advertising budgets of the defense industry be re-directed to peacekeeping in Africa? I'm not kidding.  It would be a sacrifice for next generation national security.  Those ads are probably tax payer financed anyway and the Sudan has lots more to do with combating terrorism than that Cold War  orphan the DDX.

The final bit of unseriousness came when I picked up the Hill newspaper and read that a new Senate group the "Fiscal Watch Team"  had joined House Conservatives on the Republican Study Committee  in proposing offsets in the federal budget to mitigate the costs of Katrina.  The Fiscal Watch Team proposes 5% across the board cuts to domestic spending. Defense and Homeland Security are off the table.  Defense industry advertisers are probably very grateful for this decision as they can now spend their earnings on flu shots, which they will need, as American hospitals are in the cross hairs of conservative budgeteers just as avian flu marches closer to the Atlantic ocean.  I thought the House's "operation offset would be more fair because it included a section on defense. But the only cost savings on defense ideas they have are a garage sale for old boats and some sort of privatization scheme for veterans health.

This is not a government that is serious about national security.


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Well, no, nobody is serious about anything in Washington these days.

Well, at least a government that is not serious about fiscal prudence.

You might be interested in an entry posted on the Ruminations on America Project ( about a book called Thou Shalt Not Kill Unless Otherwise Instructed by Mike Sharpe. This is the permanent link in case you'd like to forward it to other interested parties.

All the best to you,

Rita J. King

Anti-Dubya philosophers have turned to Darfur as their area of concern, since the Iraq vote has amazingly proven Mr. Bush's unilateral action beneficial.

What the Dafurists do not realize, is that this "African" conflict is yet one more in a long string of Islam-versus-everybody microwars, wars which will continue unabated, should the impressive western armamentarium ever become unattended.

The single issue myopia of relaxed armchair activism
blinds newly hatched "Darfur Progressives" to perhaps a dozen equivalent jihads elsewhere.

Those who get their world information through
"the movement" and its spin channels, are seriously deficient in corrective overview. Their "movement" controllers (paid advocacy spokespersons) do not wish to dilute the contributions beyond the point where their own NGO's will suffer, and so keep it narrow.

This month, it's Darfur.
Next month, maybe Pakistan, or Sri Lanka.
Ho Hum.

All the Best to Everyone


As anti-globalists rage on about Corporate evil,
they do so unaware of a movement, one might say a fad,
within corporate board rooms to gut their own internals,
so as to re-emerge purged of the unproductive, the less-than-connected,
with the ship of enterprise firmly commandeered by its own leaders,
much in the manner of Chairman Mao & his "Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution".

This purposeful removal of all but the most profitable aspects
of organizations that could, in other times, function as
social powers, ameliorating societal problems, leaves every organization
holding a "poison pill" under its tongue, as constant rounds of
corporate tag sales and house cleanings become taught as the greatest
business wisdom.

This "light beer" newthink is why our armed forces we went into Iraq
with 100,000 less soldiers than victory required. It could not have
been otherwise. Detractors might take note that the very zeitgeist
which now spins up ennui & defeatism as "intelligent" or "inevitable",
is the same zeitgest that sent American youngsters overseas
with a half empty toolkit.

To have cake, and to simultaneously eat cake, is the fondest hope
of every controlled , mistaught, & spun up "progressive" criticizer.
But alas, except in quantum space, you cannot have both.

Fat Army = World Peace.

Prove me wrong.


In the silence, healing

In the Blog emptiness which followed the Constitutional acceptance vote in Iraq
there's not been a lot discussed... at least on the Progressive side.

With this lack of issues, this silent time to heal our perspectives,
to search out a bit of a deeper truth, to look around for just
how out-of-step, or in-step America is right now....

we find that indeed, national policy has been consistent, since 1998,
since before the New York Times WMD articles, since before Rove, & Condi

Check out these links

It's a bit obscene to imply, even tangentially, that if the US wasn't wasting money on DDX's something could have have been done about Darfur.

The link for the DDX totals 2 sentences and is by no means authortative and is in fact simply wrong that converted Tridents would do either a better or cheaper job than a DDX. The DDX is not a cold war program but a replacement for the cancelled DX program which one might call a cold war program but is certainly a replacement program for the 31 ship Spruance class DD's.

The DDX is far too expensive but that is a function of many things but mainly so few ships being built leaves us with close to no competition. The USN needs affordable ships but in any case it must replace classes of ships as they approach the end of their service lives. Every time this is put off the bill gets bigger.

Lane Brody

I stumbled across your blog while I was doing some online research. I personally wouldn't mind in the least if the government used my tax dollars towards peacekeeping missions in Africa rather than squandering them on defense industry ads.

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