29 November 2018   Leave a comment

For the first time ever, the US Department of Defense issued its Agency Financial Report (AFR) for Fiscal Year (FY) 2018 or, in more common terms, its financial audit.  The report contains a wealth of information, but one needs to go to p.142 to find the important point:  the audit failed because there was no way to collect and analyze all the information to find out whether monies had been spent appropriately.  The Fiscal Times gives a succinct summary of the findings of the report:

  • The audit covered $2.8 trillion in Department of Defense assets, which account for more than 70 percent of the U.S. government’s total assets.
  • Those assets include more than 585,000 buildings and structures worldwide.
  • DoD operates 4,700 sites around the world, covering 26.9 million acres – roughly the size of Tennessee. The sites range from weather towers occupying a few square feet to the 3.5 million-acre White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico.
  • The U.S. military owns 15,700 aircraft and more than 280 “battle force” ships.
  • The Pentagon is one of the nation’s largest employers, with 1.3 million active personnel, 770,000 civilian employees, and 800,000 personnel in National Guard and reserve forces.
  • The consolidated audit was performed by the Pentagon’s Office of Inspector General and was based on 20 standalone audits performed by independent accounting firms involving about 1,200 auditors.
  • The auditors conducted over 900 site visits at 600 locations.
  • The audit took nearly a year to complete, at a cost of $413 million.
  • It found more than 2,000 problems that need to be addressed.
  • The Pentagon said it expects to spend more than $500 million to fix problems identified in the audit.

The magnitude of the task cannot be overestimated, but it is nonetheless depressing know that the agency responsible for about 70% of the discretionary spending in the entire Federal budget cannot be accounted for.

 

 

The US Senate has passed a resolution calling for a discussion of ending US support for the Saudi Arabian military actions in Yemen.  The resolution is not binding and would also have to be passed in the House of Representatives, but it would also most likely be vetoed by President Trump.  And the resolution is actually nothing more than a Congressional assertion of its powers under the War Powers Act, a law that was passed after the Vietnam War to prevent the expansion of non-declared wars.  But the mere passage of the resolution indicates deep dissatisfaction with the Trump Administration’s response to the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.  But there was also an interesting response from the Administration which took the form of enhanced threats against Iran which the Administration believes is supporting the Houthi rebels in Yemen.  Brian Hook, the State Department’s special representative for Iran, told a press conference today that military action against Iran was “on the table” given the threats posed by Iran to US interests in the Middle East.  The Hill reports:

“The Trump administration on Thursday said military action against Iran could be possible should U.S. sanctions against the country fail to curb Tehran from delivering weapons to hostile groups in the region.

“‘We have been very clear with the Iranian regime that we will not hesitate to use military force when our interests are threatened. I think they understand that. I think they understand that very clearly,’ said Brian Hook, the State Department special representative on Iran.”

The argument suggests that if the US fails to support Saudi Arabia in Yemen, then the US may be forced to take military action against Iran.  That position profoundly distorts the strategic significance of Yemen to US interests.

 

 

CNN has conducted a poll in Europe about the scope of anti-Semitic attitudes and the results were shocking.  The poll found that

“More than a quarter of Europeans polled believe Jews have too much influence in business and finance. Nearly one in four said Jews have too much influence in conflict and wars across the world.

“One in five said they have too much influence in the media and the same number believe they have too much influence in politics.

” ….a third of Europeans in the poll said they knew just a little or nothing at all about the Holocaust, the mass murder of some six million Jews in lands controlled by Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime in the 1930s and 1940s.”

Americans did not do much better in polls conducted by Schoen Consulting:  “10% of American adults were not sure they’d ever heard of the Holocaust, rising to one in five millennials. Half of all millennials could not name a single concentration camp, and 45% of all American adults failed to do so.”  Ignorance of the past is fertile ground for a politics based upon fear and stereotypes.

Posted November 29, 2018 by vferraro1971 in World Politics

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