World Order, Failed States and Terrorism

PART 5: Militarism and the war on drugs

Henry C K Liu

PART 1: The failed-state cancer
PART 2: The privatization wave
PART 3: The business of private security
PART 4: Militarism and mercenaries

This article appeared on AToL on March 18, 2005

The 1878 Posse Comitatus law that barred US federal troops from engaging in arrests, searches and seizures within US borders did not cover the use of the National Guard to quell "civil disorders", but it virtually eliminated the military's role in normal police work. The logic is that while the National Guard is the nation's militia, composed of citizen soldiers, each state unit is under the separate command of its governor for the purpose of maintaining domestic order within each state, without infringing on the principles of local community control of police power. Laws enacted since the early 1980s have weakened Posse Comitatus restrictions, enabling military and police bodies to collaborate in law enforcement. The shift toward militarism began with seemingly innocuous loans of military equipment to civilian agencies for drug control. US ground troops then began conducting training exercises along the border for the interdiction of drug traffic. The introduction of the military into police work invariably escalates the degree of violence in the maintenance of order.

In 1989, at the urging of the administration of president George H W Bush, the military consolidated its role in law enforcement by creating Joint Task Force-6 (JTF-6), based at Fort Bliss in El Paso, Texas. The task force's initial mission was to coordinate military support for anti-drug efforts along the Mexican border.

JTF-6 matches police requests with military units; police agencies get free assistance while the military gets extra funds and real-life, off-base training. For the Border Patrol, JTF-6 provides a variety of military aid, including equipment, construction assistance, intelligence support, vehicles and aerial surveillance. The task force also coordinates training in small-unit tactics, raid planning and execution, interrogation, pyrotechnics, target selection, booby-trap techniques, rappelling and more.

The military's anti-drug missions along the Mexican border always have been difficult to distinguish from immigration control. The administration of president Bill Clinton erased the line completely for 90 days in 1996, ordering the military to participate in "enhanced enforcement" of immigration laws in Arizona and California. In 1995, the military broadened JTF-6's geographic focus to the entire continental United States. Since then, more than half of JTF-6 missions have been devoted to police forces outside the southwestern US. By 1998, JTF-6 had coordinated more than 72,000 troops on some 3,300 missions in 30 states.

An example of militarized law enforcement within US borders was the federal siege of the Branch Davidian compound in Waco, Texas, that ended with 86 deaths on April 19, 1993. Specious drug and illegal-firearm allegations against the Branch Davidians became the pretext for military units aiding the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (BATF) in their raid to eliminate a religious cult. The Branch Davidians had their origins in the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, which in turn had its origin in the "Millerite" movement, a group who followed the teachings of Baptist William Miller, who in 1833 concluded that Bible prophecy told the date for the end of the world. JTF-6 arranged for military equipment and for Army Special Forces troops to assist with deadly raid preparations. The task force also arranged for armored vehicles retrofitted for gas warfare and tank-like army vehicles used in the assault. Some aspects of the military role, including the FBI's use of military incendiary devices, flammable CS gas grenades that killed 86 people, including 17 children, were concealed from the public until years later. After the disclosure, attorney general Janet Reno appointed former senator John Danforth, a Republican from Missouri, to investigate the military involvement. Danforth's report concluded that the involvement was technically legal, without addressing whether it ought to be legal.

On May 20, 1997, camouflaged on a surveillance mission for the Border Patrol, a team of four marines hiding in bushes near the village of Redford, Texas, shot and killed 18-year-old Mexican-American Esequiel Hernandez, who was herding his family's goats more than 180 meters away. Hernandez' death came only a year after the US "see no evil" policy on Nicaraguan Contra drug dealers had been exposed. The incident was the first time military troops engaged in drug control had killed a civilian on US territory. The case led to the first attempted civilian prosecution of military soldiers on a drug mission, but defense lawyers successfully argued that the troops had performed appropriately "in defense of national interests". The incident sparked no congressional hearings over the military's role in law enforcement. On the contrary, just three months after the shooting, the House of Representatives overwhelmingly voted to send 10,000 federal troops to the border, but the Senate did not take up the measure.

The military, for its part, suspended the use of armed ground troops along the border while reviewing their role in the drug war. In January 1999, the Pentagon announced that such troop deployment would require explicit authorization by the secretary or deputy secretary of defense. The change did not affect other JTF-6 anti-drug support: aerial surveillance, training, equipment loans, construction and so on. The defense secretary can reintroduce ground troops at any time, and the Pentagon is not required to report JTF-6 missions, not even to Congress, even though they occur on US soil and even though their stated purpose is to enforce domestic laws.

The policy change did not affect the National Guard, which could fill any ground-troop void. In Arizona, where illegal crossings have become endemic, property-owning vigilantes rounded up thousands of illegal immigrants and demanded that Governor Jane Hull send the Guard to aid the Border Patrol, but she refused.

If border tensions continue to increase, and anti-illegal-immigration sentiments turn ugly, fanned by the likes of CNN journalist Lou Dobbs, frequent military deployment to restore "order" can be anticipated. Sandia National Laboratories, an Energy Department nuclear-weapons facility in Albuquerque, New Mexico, that works closely with the US military, assessed border "security" for the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) in 1993, depicting all unauthorized crossers as "adversaries". A 1997 military intelligence mission for the Border Patrol designed a "threat assessment" for undocumented immigrants. At a higher level, the Pentagon's Center for the Study of Low Intensity Conflict helped design the Border Patrol's "Strategic Plan: 1994 and Beyond". The plan is almost entirely devoted to immigration enforcement, under cover of the drug war. It designed the blockades to close off preferred crossing points. The model was Operation Hold the Line, set up in El Paso, Texas, in 1993. Three other blockades were set up, with "Gatekeeper" being the largest. United Nations human rights secretary Mary Robinson and Amnesty International USA both condemned "Gatekeeper" for human-rights abuse, saying it "maximizes the physical risks, thereby ensuring that hundreds of migrants would die".

Under the strategic plan, the number of armed Border Patrol officers has doubled, making the agency larger than even the FBI. The military has built nine walls and dozens of fences, and provided an array of equipment, from trucks and helicopters to searchlights and heat sensors. Since 1994, the INS budget has tripled to US$4.3 billion, and the United States spends $6 billion annually on enforcement along its southern border. The show of force has been deadly. A University of Houston study estimated that 1,600 migrants died while trying to evade the border blockades from 1993-97. The American Friends Service Committee says the blockades have led to more than 1,300 deaths since 1995. Most of the victims drowned in the Rio Grande, the river that separates Mexico from Texas. Southeastern California and southern Arizona, meanwhile, have seen sharp increases in deaths as immigrants try to traverse that harsh land. The militarization also seems to encourage police mistreatment of immigrants. Complaints of misconduct by Border Patrol agents doubled between 1995 and 1998; the accusations include entrapment, illegal searches, brutality, sexual assault and excessive firearms use. Militarization has created a warlike atmosphere in which hate groups and vigilantes feel free to attack all immigrants, legal and illegal.

The "war on terrorism" has also become a license for domestic anti-immigrant hysteria. As a result, numerous legislative proposals have been made and laws passed targeting undocumented immigrants with racial and ethnic profiling. Former governor Pete Wilson of California proposed denying citizenship to US-born children of undocumented parents. California has recently passed legislation that denies driver's licenses and identity cards to undocumented immigrants. In California, a state with little public transportation, to be denied a driver's license is to be denied a livelihood. New York state is currently embroiled in the issue. Meanwhile, large sectors of the US economy survive through the open exploitation of illegal-immigrant laborers, who are left with no legal protection. The US immigration policy and operational abuse contribute significantly to the status of the US as a failed state.

For the most part, border-control operations remained a civilian law-enforcement operation until Operation Wetback in the 1950s. This military-style operation by the Border Patrol and other elements of the INS was led by an ex-general who participated in John Joseph Pershing's expeditionary force in World War I. It was the most massive roundup and deportation of undocumented Mexican immigrants in US history. This was not the last time ex-generals would be involved with the INS. President Jimmy Carter, in response to concerns about undocumented immigration and drug trafficking, appointed another ex-general to head the INS in efforts to strengthen the Border Patrol. Under the administrations of Ronald Reagan and George H W Bush, this "concern" grew to be called the "war on drugs", or what many would call the "war on immigrants". In 1981 the US Congress amended the Posse Comitatus Act , loosening the military's restriction on involvement with domestic law enforcement. In 1986 Reagan declared the narcotics trade a "national security" threat and shortly thereafter launched Operation Alliance, a multi-agency law-enforcement initiative targeting the border area.

Bordering on racism
In 1993, Canada, Mexico and the United States signed the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), which became effective in January 1994, bringing the three countries together to create the world's largest free-trade area. The purpose of NAFTA is to reduce trade barriers and promote cross-border investment in the region and thus increase economic and job development throughout North America that may affect immigration by changing the regional economy.

NAFTA itself discussed the temporary entry of the three signatory parties in Chapter 16. The provisions for temporary entry were modeled after those under the US-Canada Free Trade Agreement (USCFTA). However, the US immigration advantages extended to Canadians under USCFTA are not available to Mexican citizens under NAFTA for unspoken racial, ethnic and cultural reasons.

The greatest controversy over NAFTA's immigration provisions is the 5,500 limit on the number of Mexican professionals who can be admitted to the US in one year, while there is no number limit on Canadians. NAFTA also states that admission could be refused to a person whose entry might affect adversely the settlement of a labor dispute or the employment of a person involved in such a dispute.

NAFTA proponents expected Mexican migration, especially undocumented immigrants, to decrease as soon as the agreement was signed. Former Mexican president Carlos Salinas de Gortari explained the relationship between NAFTA and migration in this way: "Today, Mexicans have to migrate to where jobs are being created, the northern part of our country. With NAFTA, employment opportunities will move toward where people live, reducing drastically migration, within the country and outside the country" (San Diego Tribune, November 14, 1993). However, NAFTA did not reduce, let alone eliminate, illegal immigration to the US from Mexico.

NAFTA displaced about 1.4 million rural Mexican workers, largely due to changes in Mexican farm policies and freer trade in agriculture products. With jobs not being created for these displaced farmers in the areas where they live, they are forced to emigrate to where the jobs are, mainly across the border to the US. One study estimated that about 600,000 NAFTA-caused illegal migrants to the US would be added to the "normal" flow of legal and illegal Mexican worker arrivals. The driving factor behind NAFTA-increased illegal immigration to the US is free trade in corn. Between 30% and 50% of all days-worked in rural Mexico are devoted to the production of corn and beans. US farmers can produce both crops cheaper than Mexican farmers; the US corn price of $95 per ton early in 1994 was less than half of the Mexican price of $205 per ton. Liberalizing trade in corn over the 15-year NAFTA phase-in is expected to shift North America's corn production northward, since Iowa alone produces twice as much corn as Mexico at low US prices.

Some sectors of the US economy have great demands for cheap, Mexican immigrant labor, legal and illegal. Illegal labor is made even cheaper to US employers by the fact that these employees receive no benefits and necessitate no payroll-tax contributions from employers. Decades ago, the US did little to discourage the entry of illegal workers from rural Mexico. US employers were not punished by law for employing illegal low-wage Mexican workers. Legalization in 1987-88 permitted Mexican workers to become significant components of the labor force in food processing, construction, service and manufacturing throughout the US. Welfare reform and continued immigration continued to add unskilled workers to the US labor supply in the 1990s. On the other hand, the US unemployment rate dropped to its lowest level in 1997 and there were reports of labor shortages, especially in low-wage labor markets in areas with unemployment rates of less than 2%. Alan Greenspan, chairman of the Federal Reserve Board, warned Congress that a labor shortage would drive up wages and inflation rates unless lawmakers relaxed immigration restrictions. With Mexican-born workers spreading throughout the US in a period of rapid job growth and low unemployment, networks bridging the border were strengthened, increasing the availability to meet the rising demand for immigrant workers and making Mexican immigrant workers a permanent enough feature of many US industries and areas to temporarily delay the inevitable outsourcing of jobs to low-wage locations.

Another factor in NAFTA-increased illegal immigration is massive unemployment. Recurring Mexican financial crises, peso devaluation, and International Monetary Fund (IMF) "conditionalities" imposed on Mexican fiscal policies as well as neo-liberal prescriptions such as privatization of government-owned industries all resulted in mass layoffs. The economic restructuring of rural Mexico made small-scale farming unprofitable. In some areas of west-central Mexico, illegal migration to the US has become a way of life. Another factor that affected Mexican immigrants is the diverse networks of friends and relatives, employers, labor smugglers and moneylenders who can tell potential migrants about conditions in the US and provide them with the means to take advantage of illicit opportunities abroad.

Most industrialized nations realize they should prevent the depopulation of rural areas. The European Union and the United States pay farmers directly to stay on the farms - though gross domestic products (GDPs) would rise faster if they left the land. The 2002 Farm Bill pays US farmers a record $190 billion over 10 years, with big farmers getting the biggest checks. Mexico is too poor and has too many farmers to subsidize at European or US farm rates. US farmers, 2.7% of the workforce, receive an average per capita subsidy of $20,000 annually. EU farmers, 4.8% of the workforce, receive $16,000. Mexican farmers, 20% of the workforce, receive $1,000. Chinese farmers, 80% of the workforce, receive $35.

What is missing in NAFTA is precisely the element that makes the EU work as a free-trade bloc. The EU's regional policy pays money directly from wealthy industrialized nations such as Germany to less wealthy agricultural nations such as Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain. The result is that EU farmers stay on their farms. Like the US Farm Bill, EU subsidies violate the principles of free trade and comparative advantage, but do so for a higher cause: social stability. The absence of a regional stability mechanism in NAFTA is its great weakness. Unlike the rural nations of Europe (which included France and Italy when the EU treaty was signed in 1955, and later Spain), Mexico lacked the political muscle to insist on a regional pact when NAFTA was signed. Washington, unfortunately, was not farsighted enough, or did not care enough, to see the need for one. The result is that Mexico now faces an agricultural crisis that affects the United States as well. The pressures NAFTA puts on Mexico as farm tariffs are gradually removed and as the date for still-broader reductions comes nearer can only be solved bilaterally. The administration of President George W Bush should propose negotiations leading to a transfer of funds that helps Mexico's farmers stay on their farms and reduces illegal immigration. Instead, the US opts for using illegal immigrant workers to fight inflation and for increasing the budget of the Border Patrol through militarization to prevent illegal immigration. NAFTA contributes to the advent of failed statehood for both the US and Mexico.

The war on drugs: A poor example
Because the US National Guard is both a state and federal militia, it may be exempt from the limitations of the Posse Comitatus Act when acting under the authority of a state governor. That is, the Posse Comitatus Act does not apply to state militias. A proposal by Senator Barbara Boxer of California takes advantage of this loophole by placing the Guard's new immigration role under the auspices of the state governor. The National Guard, in addition to the army and the marines, has taken a more prevalent role along the border. Using high-tech equipment, it carries out reconnaissance missions and other technical border-control activities. In addition, it provides much labor in the inspection of cargo at the border, building and repairing fences and metal walls along the border, etc. The National Guard, in addition to providing support for the Customs Service, the Drug Enforcement Administration and other federal law agencies in the interception of drugs, will now augment the Border Patrol in its campaign against undocumented immigrants. Drug and immigrant interception are new and precedent-setting roles for the National Guard, whose traditional missions have been to fight in wartime and help states during natural disasters or civil disorders.

US drug czar John Walters announced on February 22 that the US would employ in its war on drugs some of the techniques it has been using to fight international terrorism. In his annual drug-strategy document, President Bush proposed spending a total of $12.4 billion in fiscal 2006, an increase of 2.2% over fiscal 2005. The anti-narcotics budget had increased from $1 billion in 1980 to $17 billion in 1998 and has continued to climb since. The number of drug offenders imprisoned in the United States has increased 800% since 1980, helping the US achieve the highest imprisonment rate in the industrialized world: 550 per 100,000. Under the banner of the war on drugs, a kind of creeping totalitarianism tramples more human rights and civil liberties each year: tens of millions of "clean" citizens are subjected to supervised urine tests at work; hundreds of thousands are searched in their homes or, on the basis of racist "trafficker profiles", at airports or on highways; possessions are seized by the state on suspicion alone. The protection of the innocent is forfeited as part of the collateral damage of homeland security. Americans are protected at the expense of their liberty. Such tradeoffs are the standard rationalization of dictatorial governments and failed states.

Official US surveys show that illicit drug use by American youth has increased in five of the past six years. The US Drug Enforcement Administration admits that hard drugs are more available, less expensive, and more pure than ever on the streets. Hard-drug abuse and addiction among the urban poor remains widespread. Cocaine continues to be a deal-making substance in Hollywood and investment banking. Some judges have even refused to apply harsh drug laws, such as the Rockefeller drug laws in New York state, the reform of which is supported by organizations such as Human Rights Watch. Critics have called the Rockefeller drug laws and the mandatory imprisonment of minor offenders a form of institutional racism. Opinion polls now show that a majority of Americans do not believe the war on drugs can be won. More and more people are voicing their opposition and seeking alternatives to punitive prohibition. The drug-policy reform movement in the US is growing larger and more diverse. The "war on terrorism" needs to take to heart the dismal record of the "war on drugs", rather than the war on drugs placing false hopes on applying the techniques of the war on terrorism. The very concept of waging war on anything as a solution is fundamentally flawed.

An army of mercenaries
One of the systemic propositions about the capacity of the US military being tested in Iraq these days has to do with the staying power of its all-volunteer force for long conflicts. The end of the US draft in 1973 and the conversion to an all-volunteer force fundamentally changed the force structure of the US military designed to prevail on short and narrowly focused conflicts in a peacetime environment. For long, drawn-out wars, volunteers tend to lose their enthusiasm and become increasingly reluctant to enlist. The draft supplied the citizen soldiers for the two World Wars, Korea and Vietnam. Ten million of the 15 million US soldiers who served in World War II were drafted. An all-volunteer force also changed the nature of the military, in essence to a mercenary force. Mercenaries can often be effective fighting machines, as demonstrated by the French Foreign Legion. But mercenaries, fighting for pay, lack the strong commitment to national values that is necessary for winning an all-out war.

The father of the all-volunteer force was allegedly economist Milton Friedman, 1976 Nobel laureate in economics for his achievements in the fields of consumption analysis, monetary history and theory and for his demonstration of the complexity of stabilization policy. In fact, it was largely the doing of his friend and fellow economist, W Allen Wallis, president of the University of Rochester, who died in 1998. On November 11, 1968, Wallis was asked to speak to the local chapter of the American Legion, a veterans' organization, on the 50th anniversary of the Armistice that ended World War I. The title of his speech was "Abolish the Draft". The backdrop was, of course, the escalating opposition to the Vietnam War. President Lyndon Johnson had announced a military-selection lottery in hopes of reducing resentment of America's burgeoning commitment in a senseless war. Presidential candidate Richard Nixon responded, "It is not so much the way they are selected that is wrong, it is the fact of selection."

Wallis was a graduate-school classmate of economists Friedman and George Stigler at the University of Chicago in the early 1930s. Stigler later became the 1982 Nobel laureate in economics for his seminal studies of industrial structures, functioning of markets and causes and effects of public regulation. During World War II, Wallis had, at the age of 30, organized the Statistical Research Group at Columbia University for his teacher Harold Hotelling, under contract to the War Department. Its stellar cast included Friedman, Frederick Mosteller, professor of mathematical statistics Abraham Wald, the founder of the field of statistical sequential analysis, and Jack Wolfowitz (father of now Deputy Defense Secretary Paul Wolfowitz, a chief architect of the present-day war in Iraq). The elder Wolfowitz developed with Wald the Sequential Probability Ratio Test (SPRT). Sequential analysis is a branch of statistical experimentation in which observations are taken sequentially, one at a time or in groups. After each observation, a decision is made based on all previous results whether to continue sampling or stop. At termination, an inference is made, for example, an estimate or hypothesis test, concerning the distribution of the observed random variables or some parameter(s) or functional(s) of it. Wald and Wolfowitz were the pioneers of modern sequential analysis, proving the optimality of the procedure.

After the war, Wallis returned with Friedman to Chicago. As dean of its business school, he recruited Stigler to Chicago before moving to Rochester in 1962. Friedman and Stigler (and Friedrich Hayek, 1974 Nobel laureate, Ronald Coase, 1991 Nobel laureate for his discovery and clarification of the significance of transaction cost and property rights for the institutional structure and functioning of the economy, and elsewhere, James M Buchanan, 1986 Nobel laureate in economics for his development of the contractual and constitutional bases for the theory of economic and political decision-making) then proceeded to overturn much of the view of government that had underpinned Franklin D Roosevelt's New Deal and sowed the seed for the lasting anti-government ideology that followed in its wake.

In his Armistice Day speech in 1968, Wallis put forth his objections to conscription: "First, it is immutably immoral in principle and inevitably inequitable in practice. Second, it is ineffective, inefficient and detrimental to national security." A month later, Wallis saw Arthur Burns, an economist at Columbia University who was head of Nixon's transition team and who later became chairman of the Federal Reserve Board. Burns told Wallis that if it could be shown that a volunteer force could be instituted for less than $1 billion in its first year, he would put the matter before the incoming president. Wallis quickly assembled a research team to create a blueprint, formed a bipartisan presidential commission, including liberal economist John Kenneth Galbraith, with enlisted pay quietly raised to market levels. In 1973, the volunteer army became a reality. The last draftee was discharged in September 1975 as the Vietnam War ended.

By most accounts, the volunteer force, a euphemism for a mercenary military, has been a success as a peacetime military, though recently, as the US has applied the doctrine of preemptive war, it has been showing signs of strain. One-third of those entering fail to complete their enlistments, compared with one out of 10 among draftees. The retention of highly skilled personnel requires periodic pay and benefit adjustments. Blacks compose about a third of army enlisted ranks, but less than 10% of its combat arms, so the service represents far more of an opportunity to get ahead for those shut out of the civilian economy than a chance to serve as cannon fodder, as had been feared. Some 85,000 Hispanic-Americans are on active duty, representing about 7% of all active-duty personnel. Latinos represent more than 6.2% of the army, 8.1% of the navy, 11% of the Marine Corps, and 4.4% of the air force, numbers that should continue to increase as all three branches of the armed forces step up their recruitment of minorities.

The most significant aspect of the all-volunteer army is that it had not had to face any major war of long duration until the second Iraq war in 2002. In a fundamental way, a nation that relies on a mercenary force instead of a people's army is a failed state, especially when volunteerism is motivated mostly by the search for income and job training by the poor.

From 1989-93, Paul Wolfowitz served as under secretary of defense for policy under then-secretary Dick Cheney for matters concerning strategy, plans and policy, with responsibilities for the reshaping of strategy and force posture at the end of the Cold War, the essence of which was to shift from a strategy for being prepared to fight a global war, to being focused on two possible regional conflicts, and to downsize the US military by some 40%. The first Gulf War in 1991 showed the US military to be very good at what it does. The recent wars in Afghanistan and Iraq have shown it to be mismatched with postwar aims of occupation to spread freedom and democracy. These wars of regime change pose critical challenges to the all-volunteer army. If the volunteers realize they are no longer volunteering for a peacetime army but for long-term occupation assignments in distant and hostile lands, will they demand higher pay and benefits for re-enlistment? And if a volunteer is a specialist, even among common soldiers, what happens to the military culture of all for one and one for all? Can a volunteer army motivated by money sustain a long war?

In Vietnam, the US Army explicitly contracted with its drafted troops beforehand for a one-year tour of duty. Grunts who made it that far, whether on the front line or in the rear, and usually some of each, could go home - no ifs, ands or buts about it. But the Iraq tour of duty has been happening on the fly, and now many troops who began their training a year ago have been told that they cannot go home. The stop-loss policy prohibits a volunteer from leaving his or her unit to return to civilian life even though his or her term of enlistment has expired. This policy has been invoked for people in units that have received notification of being sent to Iraq or Afghanistan or are already in one of those countries.

Now the Pentagon is planning to call up two 5,000-soldier National Guard brigades to begin 13-to-16-month deployments in 2005 in relief of soldiers and marines. Also in Vietnam, a little-noticed concomitant of the draft was never in doubt. It was understood that the military was a planned social organism. Like the family, the university and the church, it was almost entirely free of market forces or economic logic. Its organization was communitarian, ironically communistic: "from each according to his ability, to each according to his need". Its ethic was one of absolute ends: to win in war. Its motto was: whatever it takes, do the necessary. As a result, those who became involved in military service learned to attach a great deal of importance to respect for the opinions of others, even if it were grudging respect, at least in the early years of the conflict, before morale faltered in an aimless and unwinnable war. True, orders were given, often unpopular and senseless orders, but it was recognized that commands would lose their effectiveness if troops were unwilling to obey. Combat effectiveness was measured not in competence or loyalty, but by sheer willingness to fight, or at least remain in place under extreme hostility and hopelessness.

Nearly two years into an Iraq war has left more than 1,500 US troops dead and another 11,200 wounded. Recruiters are having difficulty as the US Army strives to sign up 80,000 recruits this year to replace soldiers leaving the service. The army in February, for the first time in nearly five years, failed to achieve its monthly recruiting goal. It is in danger of missing its annual recruiting target for the first time since 1999. Recruiting for the army's reserve component - the National Guard and Army Reserve - is suffering even more as the Pentagon relies heavily on these part-time soldiers to maintain troop levels in Iraq. The regular army is 6% behind its year-to-date recruiting target, the Reserve is 10% behind, and the Guard is 26% short. The Marine Corps, the other service providing ground forces in Iraq, has its own difficulties. In January and February, the marines missed their goal for signing up new recruits - the first such shortfall in nearly a decade - but remained a bit ahead of their target for shipping recruits into basic training.

Iraq marks the first protracted conflict for US forces since the end of the draft in 1973, which ushered in the era of the all-volunteer military. If the military fails to attract enough recruits and the US maintains a large commitment in Iraq, the nation may have to consider some form of conscription, predicts Cato Institute defense analyst Charles Pena. The question is whether the "war on terrorism" can survive the domestic politics of a general conscription.

A top-to-bottom audit of the effectiveness of the all-volunteer force is unavoidable in the coming years, in the context of the current "global war on terrorism", where the opponent is not another army but local insurgents. In gauging the success of the US Army's experiment with market ways, it's important to keep in mind not just its performance as a fighting unit, but the role of the military in manifesting the basic values of society at large. Most of the political leadership of the generation born after 1955 lacks any battlefield military experience, and defense of the United States is reduced to a commodity that can be purchased at the lowest possible price.

The pervading importance of the army
The key mission of the US strategy of wars to implement regime changes in rogue or failed states around the world rests squarely on the army. The other services serve important offensive functions, but it is the army and only the army that can bring about the end game with manpower-intensive operations. The US Army currently is composed of more than a million volunteers. About half of these men and women are on full-time active duty. The other half is in the reserve component, which is composed of the Selected Reserve and the Individual Ready Reserve. These three groups compose the total army. The Selected Reserve, sometimes known as the Drilling Reserve, consists of people who belong to organized units that train or drill one weekend a month and spend at least two weeks a year on active duty. The army's Selected Reserve has two branches: the Army National Guard and the Army Reserve. Both components serve as backups to the active-duty army.

Army National Guard units, which are in all 50 states, can be used by the states as militias for natural disasters or civil disorders when they have not been mobilized by the federal government, which pays for more than 90% of their costs and thus has first call on their services. It comprises combat and combat support units such as civil affairs, transportation and military police. Army Reserve units are under the control of the Department of the Army and can be mobilized by the secretary of the army. The Army Reserve is composed mainly of combat support units.

The Individual Ready Reserve (IRR) is composed of individuals who have completed their active-duty service and have not joined a Selected Reserve unit, but who still have time left on their eight-year military-service obligation, which, by law, they incurred when they joined the army. For example, a person who enlisted in the army for four years in 1998 would have been released from active duty in 2002, but would remain in the IRR until 2006. Members of the IRR receive no pay, training or benefits. Currently there are about 100,000 people in the IRR.

Special Operations forces, elite or commando units from the army, navy and air force, are trained to perform clandestine missions behind enemy lines. Currently, there are about 50,000 personnel in these units. About 8,000 Special Operations forces are deployed in 54 countries.

The active army is organized into 10 divisions and the Army National Guard into eight. Each division has between 10,000 and 18,000 people organized into at least three brigades or regiments composed of 3,000-5,000 people. These brigades, in turn, consist of battalions of between 500 and 800 people each.

The ability of any military to perform its missions depends on smart people more than on smart bombs. As Melvin Laird, Richard Nixon's secretary of defense and the architect of the all-volunteer army put it this way: "People, not hardware, must be our highest priority."

The priority given to the men and women of the US armed forces today, especially those in the army, appears to have diminished, as overextension and overuse, as well as inattention to quality-of-life issues, place severe strain on the troops. Operations in Iraq and Afghanistan have revealed deeply troubling cracks in the organization and structure of the million-strong volunteer US Army. These problems have been exacerbated both by the current challenges of the global international-security environment and the way in which the Bush administration has used the active-duty and reserve components since September 11, 2001. As a result, the US is closer to breaking its volunteer army today than at any other time in its 30-year history.

Since September 11, 2001, the volunteer US Army has been called upon to assume greater and broader responsibility than ever before. US soldiers are needed to battle terrorism around the globe, protect the US homeland, and engage in occupation, peacekeeping, stabilization, and nation-building operations. Few imagined that the total volunteer army would be used in such a manner when it was designed 30 years ago, and the Bush administration has failed to make the appropriate changes to reflect the new environment. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld's famous defense was, "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wished you had." As a result, the active-duty US Army is not large enough and it does not have the mix of skills necessary to meet current needs; moreover, the reserve component is being used at unsustainable levels. This threatens not only the quality and readiness of the all-volunteer army, but also its ability to recruit and retain troops.

The Total Force
Richard Nixon put the all-volunteer model into place in 1973, in response to widespread public dissatisfaction with conscription and its use during the Vietnam War, when most of the United States' elite managed to avoid service in what Colin Powell has referred to as an "anti-democratic disgrace". While the draft had allowed the government to pay subsistence wages, the creation of the all-volunteer force required a dramatic increase in military salaries at a time when it was also necessary to increase spending on military equipment and technology. To keep costs under control, the Pentagon decided it had no choice but to reduce substantially the size of its active-duty military to some 2.2 million people, or about 18% below its pre-Vietnam level of 2.7 million. Because finding volunteers was always harder for the army than for the other services, the army bore the brunt of these reductions, dropping from more than a million people before the Vietnam War to 780,000 in 1974, its lowest level since before the Korean War. Yet the new task of wars to implement regime changes place heavy demand on US Army manpower.

To compensate, the Pentagon developed the concept of the "Total Force". Under this plan, the US military's Selected Reserve component would, theoretically, receive enough resources to make it a full-fledged part of the military. The National Guard and Reserves were given separate accounts, and the Selected Reserve's share of the budget was doubled. To prevent a repetition of Vietnam, where successive presidents managed to avoid the political costs of waging an unpopular war by using only the active-duty force and not calling up the Reserves, General Creighton Abrams, as army chief of staff, put fully half of the army's combat units (divisions and brigades) in the reserve component. In addition, certain non-combat components that were deemed to be in essence civilian functions, such as military police, engineers and civil-affairs personnel, were allocated almost entirely to the Reserves. These skills would be needed only for postwar stabilization, or what is now called "peacekeeping".

By the mid-1980s, the all-volunteer force became the most professional, highly qualified military the United States had ever fielded, and a high-tech fighting machine at that. One of the reasons for its success is that norms and standards were established for the use of both the active and reserve components. When reservists were called up for the first Gulf War or for peacekeeping duties in the Balkans or the Sinai, they were not kept on duty for more than six months, which most analysts felt was necessary to get and keep people in the reserve component. This was in keeping with a long-standing Pentagon personnel policy that forces should not spend more than one-third of their time away from home. In fact, many reservists actually volunteered to go. Moreover, active-duty forces sent on peacekeeping missions were rotated home after six months and were not deployed overseas again until they had spent at least a year at home. These standards and norms for the use of the volunteer army began to break down after September 11, 2001, however, due in part to extremely poor planning for the postwar transition in Iraq and the inability of the United States to get substantial combat-troop contributions from other nations.

When Donald Rumsfeld took charge of the Pentagon in January 2001, he did so with a mandate to transform the military by ensuring that its weapons systems and tactics took advantage of advances in technology. He did not, however, focus on the question of the size of the army and the balance between active-duty and Reserve soldiers, which became critical issues only once the United States launched the "global war on terrorism" and went to war in Afghanistan and Iraq (see The war that could destroy both armies, December 23, 2003).

Thomas Hall, the assistant secretary of defense for reserve affairs, indicated two years ago that the Pentagon's civilian and military leadership was aggressively studying such issues. In his first press briefing of 2004, Rumsfeld admitted that rebalancing the way reserve forces are used should be his first priority for the coming year. The army has begun the process of shifting the duties of some 100,000 personnel, but this process is not yet complete. Thus the percentage of military functions currently allocated to the Reserves is substantially the same as it was in 1973 - and better represents the challenges of that era than of the present one. Reserves currently account for 97% of the army's civil-affairs units, 70% of its engineering units, 66% of its military police, and 50% of its combat forces. Moreover, the size of the active-duty army has shrunk: at about 480,000 soldiers, it currently makes up a smaller proportion of the total US military, about 35%, than at any other point in US history. As a result, the all-volunteer army is being overstretched and misused in an effort to meet the new challenges presented by national and homeland security threats.

By the numbers
The US Army currently has about 350,000 soldiers deployed in more than 120 countries around the globe. The bulk of these troops - about 200,000 - are in Iraq, Afghanistan, South Korea and the Balkans. In 2004, 26 of the active-duty army's 33 combat brigades (or almost 80%) will have been deployed abroad. Nine of the 10 active-duty divisions in the army were deployed to, getting ready to deploy to, or returning from Iraq or Afghanistan this year. About 40% of the 140,000 troops in Iraq are from the reserve component, as are almost all of the US troops in the Balkans. All told, three combat brigades from the Army National Guard are currently in Iraq and four are preparing to be deployed to Iraq in the next year.

According to a Defense Science Board study presented to Rumsfeld last August 31, the US military does not have sufficient personnel for the nation's current war and peacekeeping demands. This overstretching leaves the US potentially vulnerable in places such as South Korea. In fact, one of the two US Army brigades stationed in South Korea has already been sent to Iraq. It also means that combat units have been sent on back-to-back deployments or have had their overseas tours extended unexpectedly beyond the duration that had been promised. For example, the 1st Brigade of the 82nd Airborne Division spent December 2002 to August 2003 in Afghanistan, was deployed to Iraq only five months after its return, where it served until April 2004, and is now slated to return to Afghanistan for at least another year. The 3rd Infantry Division, the 1st Armored Division, and the 2nd Infantry Division's 2nd Brigade had similar experiences. In July 2003, the military announced that army units would have to spend a full year in Iraq, double the normal tour for peacekeeping duties.

Experience over the past 30 years shows that retention rates will decline if the army keeps soldiers away from home for more than one year out of three, especially among mid-career personnel such as army captains, senior non-commissioned officers, and seasoned warrant officers, most of whom have not made a lifetime commitment to the army. This is how the career army was broken in Vietnam. Not retaining sufficient numbers of mid-career personnel will result in a hollow army that will be less capable and less ready to carry out the demanding challenges it currently faces and challenges that are expected to intensify in the future, with flashpoints such as Iran, Syria, Lebanon, Taiwan and North Korea.

Since September 11, 2001, more than 400,000 reservists have been called to active duty. Several National Guard and Reserve units have been kept on active duty for longer than anticipated, sent overseas to Iraq and Afghanistan without effective training for the missions they are expected to carry out, and mobilized without reasonable notice. This practice not only undermines the readiness of the reserve soldiers to carry out their tasks, it also puts an unfair burden on the families and the employers of the reservists by leaving them with very little time to adjust to the absence of the soldier. Members of the Michigan National Guard, for example, were sent to Iraq with only 48 hours' notice. In another example, the Maryland National Guard's 115th Military Police Battalion has deployed three times since September 11, 2001, and by the end of their last tour, some of these soldiers had been on active duty for more than 24 months. All of this has occurred in spite of the fact that Lieutenant-General James Helmly, the commander of the US Army Reserve, has stated that a reserve soldier ideally should be given at least 30-day notice before being mobilized and not be kept on duty for more than nine to 12 months in a five-year time frame.

The Bush administration has been forced to notify about 5,600 Individual Ready Reservists that they will be called to active duty in order to replace casualties in the Guard and Reserve units deployed to Iraq or to fill out understaffed units that have been mobilized to go to Iraq. These are men and women who have completed their active-duty service and have not joined a Guard or Reserve unit but who still have time left on their eight-year military-service obligation. In addition to facing the unfairness of being called back involuntarily after having already served their country, many of these individuals are being sent to combat zones without any recent training. Thirty-seven percent of those Individual Ready Reservists who were to report to duty by last October 17 failed to show. All told, more than 2,000 of these former soldiers have resisted returning to active duty. The trend can be expected to continue if not escalate as initial patriotic sentiment for the war subsides.

The Bush administration has compounded this problem by invoking its stop-loss authority for individuals in both active-duty and reserve units. This policy prevents an individual in a unit that has been notified that it is being deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan - or is already in one of those countries - from leaving the service until three months after the unit returns from overseas. To date, more than 40,000 men and women have had their enlistment extended or retirements put on hold, some for as long as two years, because of stop-loss. On December 6, eight of these soldiers challenged this army policy in court. And on December 8, a soldier in Kuwait who was headed to Iraq publicly asked visiting Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld how much longer the army will continue to use its stop-loss power to prevent soldiers from leaving the service who are otherwise able to retire or quit.

Many of the reservists who have been called up without appropriate notice and kept on duty too long are police officers, firefighters and paramedics in their civilian lives, that is, first responders who are vital to the safety of their local communities. When these personnel are called up for military service and kept on active duty for long periods, it can reduce the ability of their communities to deal with terrorism. In addition, the fact that National Guard units have been deployed overseas undermines the ability of states to deal with natural disasters as well as potential terrorist attacks on the homeland. For example, Governor Dirk Kempthorne, a Republican from Idaho and departing chairman of the National Governors Association, said recently that he was worried because 62% of Idaho's National Guard had been called up to active duty by the Pentagon. Like his colleagues in California, Washington, Oregon and Alaska, where wildfires are a significant problem, Kempthorne was concerned that he would not be able to use the Guard troops to help with firefighting.

The current system has led to a decline in the overall operational readiness of the US Army. In fiscal year 2003, the army canceled or postponed 49 of its 182 scheduled training exercises because the units were either going to or returning from Iraq or Afghanistan. In December 2003, a senior army official informed reporters that four divisions due to rotate back from Iraq in the spring of 2004 would not be fully combat ready for as long as six months. This, in turn, would leave only two of the army's 10 active-duty divisions ready for conflict outside Iraq and Afghanistan. Furthermore, the army has decided to send the 11th Cavalry Regiment, its elite training unit, to Iraq this year, taking them away from their mission of training other units.

Personnel readiness, which depends on the experience level of the soldiers in a unit, is also declining. According to a survey of US troops in Iraq by the military's own Stars and Stripes newspaper in late 2003, the Bush administration's approach to Iraq risks doing to the all-volunteer force what Vietnam did to the conscript service. After polling almost 2,000 troops, Stars and Stripes found that about one-third of them thought the war against Saddam Hussein had been of little or no value and that their mission lacked clear definition. A full 40% said their missions had little or nothing to do with what they had trained for. And, most ominously, about half of the soldiers surveyed indicated that they will not re-enlist when their tours end and the Pentagon lifts the stop-loss order that prevents troops from retiring or leaving the service at this time. A survey of Guard and Reserve units conducted last May by the Defense Manpower Data Center had similar findings. According to the survey, fewer than half of the Army and Marine Corps reserve personnel who served in Iraq say they will likely or very likely stay in uniform. Compared with a similar survey from May 2003, even non-deployed personnel are less inclined to stay in because of the threat of being recalled, and the morale of all reservists declined over the past year.

Were it not for the stop-loss policy, which even high-ranking US officials admit is inconsistent with the principles of voluntary service, the all-volunteer force and the Total Force would be in severe jeopardy, lacking the necessary personnel to complete their missions. For example, one infantry battalion commander deployed in Kuwait and headed for Iraq said he would have lost a quarter of his unit over the next year were it not for the stop-loss order. Through a series of such stop-loss measures, the army has prevented more than 24,000 active-duty troops and 16,000 reservists from leaving its ranks. Yet even with these rules in place, the Army Reserve failed to achieve its re-enlistment requirements for fiscal year 2003. The Army National Guard fell 12% short of its overall recruiting requirement for 2004 and missed its goal of reactivating people from the active force by 44%. The active-duty army, meanwhile, met its recruiting requirement for 2004 only by dipping into its delayed-entry pool of people scheduled to go on active duty in 2005, and lowered its educational and aptitude standards for the new recruiting year.

The Pentagon is also having difficulty keeping enough experienced Special Forces personnel on active duty as more and more of these elite warriors are beginning to accept offers from private security contractors who are performing military functions in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ironically, the US needs to use so many private security contractors because the Special Forces are not large enough to carry out all of the functions they are assigned. The US taxpayer thus ends up paying twice, once to train the personnel for the Special Forces and then again for contractor services. These contractors pay up to $1,000 per day for work in war zones such as Iraq, far above the average military salary for generals. Currently, the Special Forces units are manned only at the 85% level. The experience and capability level of the army has also been hurt by the discharge of thousands of men and women for being openly homosexual and violating the "don't ask, don't tell" policy. A number of those discharged were soldiers with critical skills, such as Arab-language abilities and operators of special equipment.

The Bush administration has exacerbated personnel problems by attempting to cut back benefits that members of the volunteer military and their families need. The timing of these cuts fueled the perception of disregard for the well-being of the same troops that the administration relies on to execute its foreign policy. For example, the administration proposed cutting imminent danger combat pay by one-third for US troops in the war zones in Iraq and Afghanistan. It also proposed cutting family separation allowances by nearly two-thirds for those troops away from their home base. Public pressure ultimately forced Congress to reject the White House proposals. In addition, thousands of US soldiers have been injured abroad, yet fewer than one in 10 applicants to the military's disability compensation system is receiving the long-term disability payments they request. Almost one-third of sick or injured National Guard and Reserve veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan are forced to wait more than four months to find out if they will be compensated. The majority of those who do receive disability pay leave the military with a one-time, lump-sum payment that is inadequate to make up for the loss they have suffered. David Chu, the Pentagon's under secretary for personnel and readiness, announced on February 1 that the lump-sum death gratuity of $12,420 would be increased to $100,000 in the 2006 budget. Life-insurance payments for deaths in the two "combat zones" would be raised from $250,000 to $400,000, with the government paying the extra premiums necessary.

Finally, the Bush administration also requested a 14% cut in assistance to public schools on military bases and other federal property. In what one army commander called an act of betrayal, the civilian leadership at the Pentagon is considering closing or transferring control of the 58 schools it operates on 14 military installations. These decisions threaten not only the quality of education for the children of soldiers, but also the morale and support of military families. Ultimately, these decisions threaten the long-term viability of the all-volunteer force.

The Pentagon 2005 Third Quadrennial Review (QDR3) put together by the Rumsfeld team is focused on four core challenges that resemble a matrix of future threats, identifying four types of dangers - conventional warfare, "irregular" challenges such as the insurgency in Iraq, "catastrophic" attacks employing weapons of mass destruction, and "disruptive" breakthroughs that give adversaries a sudden gain in capabilities. The matrix assumes that the likelihood of major conventional combat is receding, while the probability of the other, unconventional dangers is rising. Defense contractors and analysts will parse QDR3 debate for hints of which weapons programs might be favored, cut or terminated, strongly impacting the future of the defense industry. The US Air Force, for example, will press its case for restoring cuts made in the Lockheed Martin Corp F/A-22 fighter program. The Pentagon's fiscal 2006-11 budget forecasts savings of $10.4 billion by ending the program in 2008 and cutting 96 aircraft, bringing the total down to 179. But the air force suggests the plane might be useful in countering China's growing inventory of new Russian-made aircraft. The F/A-22 fighter will upgrade US capability to counter growing threats in the Pacific from China.

If the US plans to spread democracy unilaterally by destroying, occupying and rebuilding countries such as Iraq around the world, in essence by itself, while also meeting its other global commitments, protecting its homeland, and treating the men and women of the military fairly and in a way that ensures that they will join and remain in the volunteer army, it must increase the army's budget, taking funds from other parts of the overall 2005 baseline defense budget of $420 billion. Defense experts have suggested that programs that can be reduced without undermining US ability to wage a "global war on terror" include the national missile defense program, new nuclear-weapons research programs, and Cold War-era programs such as the F/A-22 fighter and the Virginia Class submarine. The cost of adding to the army budget can also be offset by reducing the number of people on active duty in the navy and air force, both of which are currently exceeding their target end-strengths.

'China threat' to the rescue
Supporters of threatened programs are seeking justification for preserving them. They have found it in the issue of China's alleged military ascendance. With Central Intelligence Agency support, the Pentagon is preparing to ratchet up its assessment of the threat of China's expanding military, in a signal that the Bush administration is increasingly concerned about China's growing ambitions in the region. The CIA, battered by intelligence failure related to the September 11 terrorist attacks, is desperately seeking to identify new dangerous enemies. Reaching into its overused bag of tricks, the new CIA director, Porter Goss, pulls out China as the reliable standby target. "Beijing's military modernization and military buildup is tilting the balance of power in the Taiwan Strait," Goss told the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence on February 16. "Chinese capabilities threaten US forces in the region," he said. It was more than a casual warning. The Taiwan Relations Act, a US domestic law, stipulates that the United States must sell more arms to Taiwan to maintain a balance of power.

The 2005 QDR3, the formal assessment of US military policy, is expected to take a more gloomy view of the challenge posed by an emerging Chinese superpower than the 2001 overview of four years ago. Douglas Feith, under secretary of defense for policy, identifies the rise of the People's Republic of China (PRC) as one of the most important issues being examined in QDR3, which is expected to be completed this September. A Pentagon spokesman stated that the manner in which national-security capabilities are organized to address the "global war on extremism" will continue to dominate ongoing activities, but it is important to step back and examine the strategic landscape beyond these ongoing activities, and "the PRC's emergence as a global actor is one undeniable reality".

The CIA report and QDR3 are dismissed by China as overreaction. Beijing insists that the theory of the China threat is unsupported by data. Citing Western media, Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing at a press conference on March 5 took note that US defense expenditures had reached $455.9 billion, 3.9% of its GDP in 2004, while China spent 211.7 billion yuan ($25.5 billion) on national defense, 1.6% of its GDP. In 2003, US defense expenditures took up 47% of the global total, exceeding the accumulated expenditures of the following 25 biggest defense spenders. "China is a staunch force for peacemaking, and it's ridiculous to accuse China of [being] a threat," Li said.

After the US-Japan Security Consultative Committee in Washington held by the foreign and defense ministers of the two countries, the United States and Japan issued a joint statement on February 19 listing for the first time "encouraging" the peaceful resolution of issues concerning the Taiwan Strait through dialogue as one of their common strategic objectives. In their joint statement, the US and Japan tried to mollify China by listing development of a "cooperative relationship" with Beijing as another strategic goal. The US and Japan have agreed on a new joint security arrangement, which calls on China to increase transparency in reporting its military expenditure and expansion. For the first time, Japan publicly identified Taiwan as a shared security concern with the US. China denounced the joint statement as interfering in China's sovereign rights, internal affairs and territorial integrity. The US-Japan security alliance has shifted from a Cold War-era anti-Soviet posture to a post-Cold War era anti-China focus. Japan's 2000 White Paper on defense said for the first time that Chinese military development poses a threat to Japan. In its 2004 White Paper on defense, Japan claimed that it is facing direct missile threats from China. Beijing is deeply concerned about Tokyo's increasingly assertive approach to security issues, a concern that has become an obstacle to improved relations between the two Asian neighbors.

Washington and Tokyo have never before explicitly listed Taiwan as a bilateral strategic issue, and Japanese officials have generally avoided public discussion of cross-strait issues while privately calling for a peaceful resolution. China has repeatedly served notice that Taiwan's move toward independence will trigger an immediate military response. Washington is legally committed by the Taiwan Relations Act to supplying Taipei with adequate arms for defense, and has long hinted that the US will "help" Taiwan defend itself in the event of a military threat from Beijing. Whether that means direct US involvement remains ambiguous.

In response, China has passed its own domestic law against secession as a countermeasure for the United States' Taiwan Relations Act. Now, both governments are obliged by domestic law to military confrontation over the issue of Taiwan independence, with China committing itself by law to use force to stop Taiwan from any move toward independence and the US committing itself to help Taiwan defend itself. Thus the Taiwan issue is taken out of the flexible sphere of diplomacy to the fixed realm of a conflict between the domestic laws of two nations. It is a conflict that leaves little room for diplomacy and will lead to war.

There is also a change on the issue of Taiwan for Japan. In the past Japan had said that war across the Taiwan Strait would have an impact on East Asian security. Now it says China's use of force to prevent Taiwanese independence will "threaten" Japan directly. For Japanese strategists and politicians, it is vital that Japan can hold back an overall strategic challenge from China by the so-called curb on China's use of force in solving the Taiwan question.

With this background, the February joint statement evidently forecasts a new development of the US-Japan military alliance. In the past, Japan had not stated explicitly that it would involve the issue of Taiwan. Now, the present statement is saying that the Japanese government will join hands with the US to cope with the Taiwan Strait situation militarily. Although the statement is ambiguous, its significance lies in its timing to coincide with the current readjustment of US military disposition in East Asia to strengthen developing preventive measures pointing at the issue of Taiwan. The statement is aimed at military coordination and will give a political guarantee of use of US military bases in Japan, not for defense of Japan but against a third country.

The joint statement reflects a readjustment in Japanese policy on China. The previous Japanese position of taking an ambiguous stand between the US and China over Taiwan has been replaced by a new position that, on the issue of East Asian security involving the Taiwan question, the US and Japan are allies against China. It is natural that China will counter this new US-Japan alliance with security links with anti-US forces in Central America, the Middle East and elsewhere. This development will not only threaten the balance of power in East Asia but also will impact the entire post-Cold War world order. The US needs to ask itself whether keeping Taiwan from returning to China is worth all its dire consequences. To defuse the time-bomb, the US needs to rescind the Taiwan Relations Act to avoid giving secessionist elements in Taiwan misleading signals for unconstrained support for dangerous adventurism that will threaten world peace.

The European Union is looking to lift its embargo on selling arms to China at a time when Washington is increasingly nervous about the expansion of China's armed forces and the advance of its military technologies. US defense and intelligence officials focus on the increasing number of missiles that are being deployed across the Taiwan Strait, the acceleration in Chinese defense spending, and the rapid increase in the size of Beijing's navy. Chinese Foreign Minister Li Zhaoxing characterizes the EU arms embargo on China as "obsolete, useless and harmful" and a form of political discrimination. China poses no threat to any other country and is committed to a peaceful resolution even on the Taiwan problem, using force only as a last resort against Taiwanese independence.

US President George W Bush came to office in 2001 vowing to treat China as a "strategic competitor". But after the downing of a US spy aircraft over Chinese territory and as the White House became consumed by the unfolding war in Iraq, the Bush administration muted its criticisms of China toward the end of its first term. His administration has since sought to forge a cooperative working relationship with China, recognizing that it needs Beijing's help in its "war on terrorism" and in helping to resolve tensions on the Korean Peninsula over nuclear proliferation. But US defense officials appear to be using the fantasized future threat from China to justify expansion of America's own military to meet the need of a foreign policy of preemptive regime change in other nations.

The private sector to the rescue
The Tail-to-Tooth Commission to promote outsourcing and privatization of Department of Defense (DOD) support functions is a coalition of private chief executives and former government officials. Former New Hampshire senator Warren Rudman and Automatic Data Processing Inc chairman Josh Weston co-chair the group, which is sponsored by Business Executives for National Security, a coalition of business leaders with an interest in national-security policy and the private-sector claim to it. The "tooth" refers to combat troops and weapons systems, the core war-fighting capabilities of the military, ie the kill machine, while the "tail" refers to infrastructure and functions that support the military mission. The commission argues that the tooth is happily becoming lean and mean, but the tail remains too big and bureaucratic and should be privatized.

Commission members pledge not just to issue a report and then disband but to lobby for defense privatization and downsizing in Congress, in the Pentagon and in the White House. The commission has released one report so far, "Outsourcing and Privatization of Defense Infrastructure", in which it argues that the Pentagon should follow the private sector's example by focusing on its core competencies and outsourcing all other activities. The report also acknowledges that it's easy to identify programs that can be outsourced, but it's difficult actually to do, in part because Pentagon leaders lack a sense of urgency.

"Defense [Department] officials lack an appreciation of the relationship of time to money that drives the private sector's bottom line," the report says. "Too many bureaucratic layers prevent the department from taking advantage of the pace of business. Time is lost; money wasted." Yet the report ignores the fact that bureaucracy is instituted to handle the orderly resolution of complex deliberations that often must take into account opposing doctrines, competing turf, and sub-optimization fallacies. The private sector simplifies life by measuring all by the maximization of profit. The purpose of government cannot be simplified into profit incentives. The purpose of a nation's military is not to make its private contractors profitable, but to protect the nation from threats.

Secretary of defense William Cohen, a Republican cabinet officer under president Clinton, in a speech to Business Executives for National Security in October, sounded his support for the group's efforts. The Tail-to-Tooth Commission was one in a series of groups focused on DOD infrastructure downsizing. The Defense Science Board called for privatization of numerous functions, including accounting, information systems management and commissaries. The Quadrennial Defense Review regularly called for infrastructure streamlining as well, and the Defense Reform Task Force looked at ways to re-engineer the Office of the Secretary of Defense. In addition, the 1998 Defense Authorization Bill, passed by the House, called for the continued outsourcing of thousands of positions in the secretary's office and in the defense acquisition workforce. Will the day come when after-hour phone calls to the secretary's office are answered by operators in Indonesia, or when Defense Department software is run and maintained by programmers in India?

Unlike outsourcing, which involves contracting support services to outside sources while retaining responsibility for them, privatization involves transferring responsibility for planning, organizing, financing and managing a program or mission or activity from the government to private contractors.

The warfare environment of the future will require expensive and highly trained personnel operating costly and sophisticated weapons. These assets will require significant allocations of public resources, affordable only if the military reduces spending in non-core areas. If it does not, it will have either to rely on old equipment or reduce the number of new weapons it procures.

Congress established the Military Housing Privatization Initiative (MHPI) in 1996 as a tool to help the military improve the quality of life for its service members by improving the condition of their housing. The MHPI was designed and developed to attract private-sector financing, expertise and innovation to provide necessary housing faster and more efficiently than traditional military construction processes would allow. It is a very peculiar development since the military construction units had spun off their military expertise to the civilian sector after every war. Napoleon Bonaparte said that an army marches on its stomach. Any army that fails to maintain a first-rate logistics arm cannot win a war. The Office of the Secretary of Defense has delegated to the military services the MHPI, and they are authorized to enter into agreements with private developers selected in a competitive process to own, maintain and operate family housing via a 50-year lease.

MHPI addresses two significant problems concerning housing for military service members and their families: (1) the poor condition of DOD-owned housing, and (2) a chronic shortage of quality private housing, at a price affordable by military pay. Under the MHPI authorities, DOD works with the private sector to revitalize military family housing through a variety of financial tools - direct loans, loan guarantees, equity investments, conveyance or leasing of land and/or housing/and other facilities. Military service members receive a basic allowance whereby they can choose to live in private-sector housing or privatized housing. Can a military that cannot house its forces adequately be expected to defend the country effectively? Can a soldier be expected to risk his life to defend his country merely to leave his surviving family a 50-year mortgage?

Next: Outsourcing public security