Question: How does the President of the United States give his National Security Council more power than ever before? Answer: Appoint a National Security Advisor like General James Jones, and give him carte blanche to expand "its membership and increasing its authority to set strategy across a wide spectrum of international and domestic issues." (Washington Post, 2/8/09)
The National Security Council hearkens back to President Harry Truman. The National Security Act of 1947, designed to back up the Truman Doctrine of containing Communism, created the National Security Council. The National Security State, which arose out of the ideology and institutions thus created, gave the military ever increasing powers along with the private (corporate) institutions that supported it.
Today, the National Security State is more powerful than ever; just look at the percentage of government spending on the military. And it seems that President Obama is setting up a situation that will promote an ever increasing role for the military at a time when the U.S. desperately need to focus on serious domestic problems as well as global ones (problems that do not have military solutions, and that military actions worsen). We simply cannot afford it (financially or otherwise)!
Judging by today's article in the Washington Post, the President is giving his new National Security Advisor and his National Security Council some pretty sweeping power and reach. What does this mean for the future? With over 700 overseas military bases (and counting) in over 120 countries, new military commands in Africa AND in the U.S., and a commitment to building an extensive array of new weapons systems, it is clear that the military is not prepared to cut back anytime soon (even with the economy in a shambles).
As for the positive "power" of any serious diplomacy coming from the U.S. State Department, things are looking bleak. The following paragraph from the Post article sums things up.
Although Jones said he strongly supports increased resources for the State Department, which is increasingly dwarfed by the size and expanding missions of the Defense Department, he has long been an outspoken proponent of a "pro-active military" in noncombat regions. He has advocated military collaboration with the oil and gas industry and with nongovernmental organizations abroad.
I would certainly like to hear General Jones elaborate on what he means by a "pro-active military". Jones' statement on "collaboration with the oil and gas industry" most certainly confirms what many have suspected for years - that our military is a U.S. global oil protection force. Throw a bone to the (State Department) poodle on the chain while the pack of big dogs gets a side of beef. If history is our guide, "pro-active" means finding any (and every) reason to justify military actions.
With his longstanding military experience along with his strong corporate ties (on the boards of both Chevron and Boeing), General Jones is at the heart of the National Security State. In such a position I see little incentive for him to seek alternative ways of approaching the foreign policy and "national security" issues facing the U.S.
The Post article said that, In his initial conversations with Obama before taking the job, Jones confirmed, he insisted on being "in charge" and having open and final access to the president on all national security matters. I wonder if Secretary of State Clinton will have equal, open and just as "final" access to the President??? If not, one can see that every potential foreign policy problem will have a military solution.
So the Obama scales keep tipping from the idealist to the pragmatist, and rather than changing course from the old ways, it is full speed ahead into the sea of icebergs. Stop this ship of fools; I want to get off!
Credits: Obama's NSC Will Get New Power: Directive Expands Makeup and Role Of Security Body, Washington Post, Sunday, February 8, 2009, Page A1. Photo of General James Jones by Linda Davidson, The Washington Post
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