Note for Tomdispatch readers: A few weeks ago, this site published Nick Turse’s “Two Men, Two Legs, and Too Much Suffering: America’s Forgotten Vietnamese Victims.” The result was a small flood of letters from readers — many of them Vietnam veterans — looking for a way to donate money toward the purchase of new artificial legs for Pham Van Chap and Nguyen Van Tu, profiled in the piece. Now there is a way, thanks to the extraordinary efforts of two men: Tom Leckinger, with the U.S. Army in Vietnam and Cambodia in 1970 and today a resident of Hanoi where he served as the country representative for the humanitarian organization Veterans for America, and Chuck Searcy, a fellow U.S. Vietnam veteran, who has lived in Vietnam for more than a decade and serves as the country representative for the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund.
Any reader can now make a direct donation to purchase (and contribute to the continuing care for) new legs for Mr. Pham and Mr. Nguyen by sending a check or money order (payable to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund) to:
Vietnam Veterans Memorial Fund
1023 15th Street NW
Washington, DC 20005
Please include a separate note indicating that your donation (tax deductible in the U.S.) is restricted to the “Two Men, Two Legs Fund.” Any extra funds will be used for similarly disabled Vietnamese. Nick Turse, who coordinated this effort, is still in Vietnam interviewing.]
Often what is hidden in our world is so simply because no cares or thinks to look. Yes, a fair amount of attention has recently been given to the staggering new Pentagon budget request, the largest since World War II, that the Bush administration has just submitted to Congress for fiscal year 2009. It comes in at $515.4 billion – a 7.5% hike for an already bloated Pentagon — and that doesn’t include all sorts of Defense Department funds that will be stowed away elsewhere (even if in plain sight), nor does it include the couple of hundred billion dollars or more in funds to be appropriated largely via “supplemental” requests for the ongoing military disasters in Iraq and Afghanistan. Even the official budget, howeve! r, includes staggering sums for procuring major new weapons systems and for R&D leading to ever more such big-ticket items in the future. According to Steve Kosiak, vice president of budget studies at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “The fiscal year 2009 budget may be about as good as it gets for defense contractors.” When all is said and done, this will probably be a trillion dollar “defense” budget.
As it happens, military budgets like this have a multiplier effect globally. After all, there’s no such thing as a one-nation arms race. It’s just that no one here thinking about what we’re about to feed the Pentagon pays much attention to such things. Fortunately, John Feffer, an expert on military policy and Asia, has been doing just that. He is the co-director of a particularly interesting website, Foreign Policy In Focus at the Institute for Policy Studies in Washington — with which Tomdispatch hopes to collaborate on projects in the future. (To subscribe to FPIF’s e-news service, click here.) In the following piece, he brings genuine arms-race news to all of us. Yes, Virginia, there is indeed an arms race underway; it’s taking off in Northeast Asia; and it’s dangerous. Tom
Asia’s Hidden Arms Race
By John Feffer