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The Big Yellow Book

Seeing the World from Both Oculars-- a Bananaslug's Journal

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HIdden in plain sight: the Bush military buildup-- how much is enough?
Eric Flint and I went to the Chicago History Museum last night to hear a UC Santa Cruz professor, Dan Wirls, talk about the military buildup since 2000. His talk was called "Hidden in Plain Sight: the Bush Military Buildup and its Consequences for Obama and the Nation."
Wirls started out by pointing out that the Lincoln military buildup made him a budget-busting socialist president who increased the national debt by military spending to about $2 billion. Then he began presenting data comparing the George W. Bush presidency's military buildup to his father's, Ronald Reagan's, Lyndon Johnson's, and Harry Truman's during the Korean War.

The question he posed was why there has not been a public debate on the huge increases for defense spending, over and above the war-fighting supplementary legislation Congress keeps passing.

The fact is, we are the only hyperpower in the world. Eric noted that we, not the Soviets, drove the arms race during the Cold War, and that we appear to want to do it again.

I did ask Wirls how UCSC would react to a cutback in their DoD sponsored research (UCSC does major research on the autonomous controls for UAVs among other projects paid for by the Defense Department) and he really didn't have an answer.

A thought-provoking evening.

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Interesting that he didn't bother touching WW1 or WW2.

Eric is wrong, btw. _Both_ sides drove the arms race during the Cold War.

I don't know if he IS wrong...

Eric didn't say that the Rooshians didn't escalate the arms race. What he said was that we would make a strategic move, like creating a hydrogen bomb, they would match it, and so on. That seems to agree with what I know.

Re: I don't know if he IS wrong...

Missile tech. You can look at 1950s missile the (Sputnik ring any bells? Yuri Gagarin?). Or you can look at the 70s and 80s (WHY did the US develop and deploy GLCM and Pershing II? Start with SS-21 and work from there).

Similarly, take a look at armor/equipment deployment trends in Europe in the 1960s and 70s. Soviet equipment levels kept climbing, which led to a new round of US equipment to try to fight a non-nuclear war.

Eric's hypothesis sounds like "the west would make a strategic move, the Soviets would push back". It's equally valid to say "the Soviets would make a strategic move, the US would push back." Both statements are, frankly, pretty much equally valid. But, unless backed into a corner, that isn't the type of admission I've seen Eric being happy to make.

Might be wrong, who knows. But it doesn't fit with the positions I've seen Eric take.

Hmm. Interesting take, when you look at the money angle.

Being an old-school sort, I've been looking at military manpower, and arguing that the fact it's been going up so bloody slowly meant we really weren't having that much of a build-up. I mean, after 9/11, it took us seven years for the Army's authorized end strength to go up by 9.3%! But yeah, now that I look, the budget grew by 74% over the same time span.

Perhaps outsourcing combat support services isn't really a cost-saver? ;)

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