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The Mindboggling Sum We Actually Spend on National Security: One Trillion Dollars a Year

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As the country's big wars on the Eurasian continent wind down, American war-making and war preparations fly ever more regularly under the radar.  There has, for instance, been much discussion about the Obama administration's policy "pivot" to Asia -- the only warlike act in the region so far has, however, been a little noted drone strike in the Philippines.  At the same time, remarkably little attention has been paid to a massive build-up of U.S. forces in the Persian Gulf, and -- though both seem to be underway (and connected) -- who talks about the "pivot" to the Western Indian Ocean or the "pivot" to Africa?

For those keeping a careful eye out, U.S. drone (and air) bases in the region have been proliferating -- in the Seychelles Islands, in Ethiopia, and at an unidentified site on the Arabian peninsula, among other places.  Recently, however, Wired's Danger Room website reported that an Italian blogger had put the pieces together and offered impressive evidence of a larger war-making effort in the region, involving not only drones but F-15E fighter jets, possibly being used to bomb Yemen. Meanwhile, there are U.S. drone strikes in Yemen almost daily and at least 20 special forces operatives are reportedly now on the ground there, helping direct some of the fighting and even taking casualties.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Africa Command (Africom), set up in 2007, has been gaining clout.  In 2011, 100 special operations troops, mainly Green Berets, were moved into Central Africa, officially to aid in the hunting down of Joseph Kony, leader of the Lord's Resistance Army.  Recently, it was reported that a brigade of regular U.S. combat troops will soon be assigned to the command and given training duties throughout the region. Meanwhile, the U.S. has been organizing a proxy war, supported by drone attacks, against al-Shabab rebels in Somalia, using Ugandan, Kenyan, and other African troops as those proxies.  And more's afoot.  It's just that, if you weren't an obsessive news watcher, you would have next to no way of knowing that any of this was taking place.     


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