When President Obama was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize, the Nobel Committee explained that he "has created a new climate in international politics...Dialogue and negotiations are preferred as instruments for resolving even the most difficult international conflicts." While many Americans were proud that our president won the award based on potential and promises, others condemned it as premature.
A study the Institute for Policy Studies www.ips-dc.org just released reflects the fact that Obama's promises are sometimes tempered by his inability to achieve them. The sixth yearly Report of the Task Force on a Unified Security Budget for the United States, FY 2010 www.ips-dc.org/reports/usbfy201 finds that the Obama administration has yet to keep its promise of "a sweeping shift of priorities and resources in the national security arena." The needle tracking the overall balance of spending on offense (military forces), defense (homeland security) and prevention (non-military foreign engagement) stayed stubbornly in place. In the FY 2010 request -- like the one before it -- 87% of the nation's security resources were allocated to the tools of military force. This is true even excluding the appropriations for wars the country is currently fighting.
While the president has made some strides toward curbing waste, fraud and abuse in Pentagon contracting and has made ambitious cuts to unneeded weapons systems, he has yet to change the balance between military and non-military security spending. The Task Force on a Unified Security Budget--a project of Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies-- supports a shift in emphasis toward a different, less militarized approach to U.S. security policy. The report recommends reducing its nuclear arsenal to 600 warheads and 400 in reserve; reducing Pentagon waste through competitively awarded contracts, a well-trained and fully-staffed acquisition workforce, and expanding and updating websites providing public access to federal contracting data; and creating a Quadrennial National Security Review that would examine the budgets for offense, defense and prevention together, so that the relative balance of resource allocations can be considered as an integrated whole.
As debate over the wars we are waging abroad continue, we must not be distracted from the larger picture of security for our nation and its citizens.
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