Those of us still hoping for proof of the “starve the beast” theory of shrinking government in the future by running up debts today have cause to get our hopes up a little higher this week:

The White House is pressing Pentagon officials to cut tens of billions of dollars from their proposed budgets over the next several years, signaling that the Bush administration’s massive defense buildup in the years following the attacks is coming to an end.…

Alas, the article goes on to set up the math for us, and these cuts don’t really amount to much:

The Pentagon’s budget for , was $310 billion. For , which was approved before the attacks, it was $317 billion, and in subsequent years, rose to $355 billion, $368 billion and $416 billion. These figures do not include supplemental appropriations for war-fighting efforts.

In , the Pentagon estimated it would need $424 billion for and $445 billion for , not including supplemental funding. Officials say those figures could both end up shrinking by $10 billion and that similar cuts could occur in subsequent years.

So, the Pentagon’s budget goes up by a third in the years since Dubya took office but starting now… it won’t rise nearly so fast. Well, it’s a start.

The actual numbers for and were $536 billion and $527 billion, not including war supplementals.


Torture: Shock, Awe and the Human Body by William Pfaff:

It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the Bush administration is not torturing prisoners because it is useful but because of its symbolism. It originally was intended to be a form of what later, in the attack on Iraq, came to be called “shock and awe.” It was meant as intimidation. We will do these terrible things to demonstrate that nothing will stop us from conquering our enemies. We are indifferent to world opinion. We will stop at nothing.

In that respect, it is like the attack on Falluja last month, which — destructive as it was — was fundamentally a symbolic operation. Any insurgent who wanted to escape could do so long before the much-advertised attack actually began. Its real purpose was exemplary destruction: to deliver a message to all of Iraq that this is what the United States can do to you if you continue the resistance.


More evidence that the U.S. anti-war movement is being put to shame by its counterparts elsewhere:

Senior British army commanders believe popular opposition to the war in Iraq has worsened existing problems in recruiting young people for the armed forces. ¶ “The anti-war movement is exacerbating our recruitment problems,” one senior source told the The Observer newspaper. ¶ “The effects have been particularly noticeable in Scotland, but are spreading to the north of England and we’re beginning to see it as well in the west,” according to the source who was not named.…

[Senior officers] said it has been worsened by an anti-war movement led by parents who have lost sons in Iraq and supported by celebrities and political figures, according to The Observer. ¶ Other sources have reported parents refusing to sign consent forms for junior soldiers to sign up, the newspaper said. ¶ In some cases, local officials who have strong anti-war sentiments are also refusing permission for recruitment officers to put up stands at certain venues, it added.


Newsweek is excitedly reporting that it has discovered a memo written by torture apologist John Yoo that told Dubya he “had the power to deploy military force ‘preemptively’ against any terrorist groups or countries that supported them — regardless of whether they had any connection to the attacks on the World Trade Towers or the Pentagon” and “that there are effectively ‘no limits’ on the president’s authority to wage war.”

Although Newsweek says that…

The existence of the memo, titled “The President’s Constitutional Authority to Conduct Military Operations against Terrorists and Nations Supporting Them,” was first reported by Newsweek in . But its contents — including the conclusion that Bush could order attacks against countries unrelated to the attacks — were not publicly available until late this week when, with no notice to the public or the news media, the memo was posted on an obscure portion of the Web site of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel.

…faithful Picket Line readers may remember that back in I linked to essentially the same content (with the same title) in a Harvard Journal of Law & Public Policy paper coauthored by Yoo.

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