The Bush White House promises a ground-breaking revamp of
America's military weapons and strategy, but already critics charge
that the reforms won't go far enough.
President Bush and Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld have tapped
teams of experts to make an urgent reexamination of US military
strategy for the 21st century.
The teams - perhaps 20 in all - are working in secret and include
dozens of specialists, both inside the Pentagon and outside the
government. None of their findings have been released, and some may
never be. Even so, critics went on the attack this week.
Theresa Hitchens, a senior adviser at the Center for Defense
Information, says the studies are "chaotic" and that the Pentagon
has failed to consult with Congress as it maps the future.
Lawrence Korb, who served as assistant secretary of defense
during the Reagan military buildup, says the panels are "coming up
with contradictory statements."
William Hartung, co-author of "Tangled Web: The Marketing of
Missile Defense 1994-2000," says Mr. Bush's move toward a missile-
defense system will actually make the US less safe, by prompting
China to increase its stockpile of nuclear-tipped missiles.
Like so many things in Washington, the defense debate often comes
down to money.
Cindy Williams, a defense analyst at the Massachusetts Institute
of Technology in Cambridge says she hears Bush will ask for another
$20 billion to $50 billion over current spending.
Although the standoff with the old Soviet Union ended more than a
decade ago, critics like Ms. Williams observe that US defense
spending today - $325 billion - is still at cold-war levels.
The question is: Why spend so much in peacetime? As Dr. Korb
notes, the military position of the US compared with other nations
"has never been better."
"We've been in an arms race with ourselves," Korb says. He
estimates that the US could slash military spending by 20 percent
and still maintain its edge.
Some savings could be won as the Pentagon moves away from a
doctrine that calls for the ability to fight two foes
simultaneously. But critics say the US has hung onto its multiwar
and Eurocentric mentality too long. The result is the wrong
weapons, too many of them, and too much spending.
Why maintain thousands of heavy battle tanks? Or 12 aircraft
carriers? Or why buy the new F-22 air superiority fighter when
current aircraft are better than anything else in the air? …