A chill has descended on Wichita, Kan. Winter weather is not the culprit, aircraft manufacturer Boeing is. The company, a longtime fixture in the city, brought the chill when it announced the imminent closure of its big defense plant there. And Wichita is not alone.
In communities from Virginia to California that have relied on steady Pentagon payrolls, people are frightened. Military spending, which totaled $7 trillion over the past decade, is slated to dip.
Good jobs will disappear.
Last August’s bitterly fought Budget Control Act, passed by Republicans and Democrats, mandated cuts of $489 billion in defense spending over 10 years. Then came the failure of the congressional “supercommittee” to agree on deficit reduction. This triggered automatic cuts of more than $1 trillion -- half from the Defense Department, half from domestic programs. Unless Congress, the president and the top Pentagon brass find a way to block the automatic reductions, the military would have to shave a total of $1 trillion from its massive budget in the decade after 2013.
Faced with masses of demonstrators clamoring for change, panicky Arab dictators and their spokesmen were quick to blame outsiders. They pointed fingers at “foreigners,” “foreign influence,” “opposition elements that live abroad,” “the West.”
With those words the Arab rulers sought to deny that their people had launched homegrown revolts. Their defensive reflex isn't new in power relations.
During a single week this month, Barack Obama agreed with Russian President Medvedev to negotiate a new nuclear arms treaty this year, told a big crowd in Prague that he would seek a ban on all nuclear tests as part of a global non-proliferation strategy and emphasized his goal of a world without nuclear weapons. Meanwhile, North Korea fired a rocket over Japan into the Pacific in what was widely seen as a test of a long-range missile that someday could carry a small nuclear warhead.