The More Things Change

The heads of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Air Force are all joining the don’t-cut-the-defense-budget push. In a joint show of force, appearing before the Congress yesterday, they said that making cuts in excess of $450 billion would have serious consequences. General Ray Odierno, the Army chief of staff, called the risks to national security “unacceptable.” He didn’t mince words: “Cuts of this magnitude would be catastrophic to the military, and in the case of the Army would significantly reduce our capability and capacity to assure our partners abroad, respond to crises and deter our potential adversaries, while threatening readiness and potentially the all-volunteer force.”

Palestine may have been accepted into UNESCO, but Palestinian leaders are not stopping they. They have their sights set on a number of other UN agencies and international organizations, like the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the UN Conference on Trade and Development. Despite these moves, according to U.S. ambassador to the UN Susan Rice, “The reality is nothing is going to change.” It has been Washington’s position that the only way to true sovereignty is direct negotiations with the Israelis. Israel meanwhile has followed UNESCO’s acceptance of Palestine with an acceleration of settlement building. White House spokesman Jay Carney responded, “Unilateral actions work against efforts to resume direct negotiations, and they do not advance the goal of a reasonable and necessary agreement between the two parties.”

President Obama is in France for the G20 summit. He told Europeans that resolving their current economic crisis was the “most important task” and sat down with French president Nicolas Sarkozy to talk about the situation. And Defense Secretary Leon Panetta hasn’t made it official, but Washington is hoping to keep somewhere around 4,000 troops in Kuwait after forces are withdrawn from Iraq. From Kuwait, troops will be able to operate in Iraq or neighboring countries on short notice.