3 February 2013

How India can overtake China in the battle for higher education and economic growth by William H Avery in Eco Times

The Economic Times

By William H Avery
3 FEB, 2013

There is a battle taking place between India and China — not for today's economic growth, but for economic growth a decade from now. The field of battle is higher education, and India is losing. Big time.

World Bank statistics show that higher education enrollment is a leading indicator of economic growth. When a country substantially increases the number of university students it educates, that country tends to enjoy a spike in economic growth in the decade that follows. It happened with Japan and Korea in the early and late 1980s respectively.

China will soon reap the rewards of its annual $250-billion investments in higher education. Since the turn of the millennium, China has doubled the number of institutes of higher education and increased enrollment five-fold. It has been the greatest expansion in university education in the history of mankind.

As a result, 26% of China's university-age population is enrolled in an institution of higher education, versus 18% in India. It was not always so. In 1990 and 2000, India bested China in university enrollment rates. Until China decided to make higher education a policy priority.

A New Medium

Do not let India's outliers — the IITs and IIMs — fool you. The key battlefield is in higher education for the masses. And on this China wins hands down, on both quality and quantity. Sure, India's IITs and IIMs offer top-notch education. But they reach a scandalously small proportion of Indian students.

The annual intake of the IITs currently amounts to about 10,000 students, a fraction of India's 12-crore-strong university-age population.

So what is India doing to catch up? Not much. The University Grants Commission's 12th Five Year Plan (covering 2012-2017) is short on ambition and long on vague laments ("considerable challenges remain" it says). While China has ambitious plans that it executes, India has un-ambitious plans that it fails to execute.

Defence Acquisition: International Best Practices

Laxman K Behera and Vinay Kaushal

Publisher: Pentagon Press
ISBN 978-81-8274-711-1
Price: Rs. 1295 [Download E-Book (PDF - 15 MB)

About the Book 

This book is a compendium of papers presented and circulated in the International Seminar on Defence acquisition organised by the Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses on July 12-14, 2011. It contains 29 chapters organised in nine key themes: technical requirement and capability definition; technical and commercial evaluation challenges; optimal procedural framework; contract implementation and project management; logistics management; offsets; defence industrial and R&D base; oversight, organisational structure; and human resource in defence acquisition. Written by the practitioners, industry leaders and subject experts, the book brings out the best international practices in defence acquisition. 

About the Editors 

Dr Laxman Kumar Behera is Research Fellow at Institute for Defence Studies and Analyses (IDSA). As a member of IDSA’s Defence Economics and Industry Centre, Dr. Behera undertakes policy-relevant research pertaining to various economic aspects of Indian defence. He was closely associated with two high-level committees set up by the Indian Ministry of Defence on Defence Acquisition Reforms and Defence Expenditure Review. He was also the consultant to the Task Force on Self-Reliance and Defence Modernisation constituted by the National Security Council Secretariat, Government of India. 
Group Captain (Retd) Vinay Kaushal 

Imjplications of French Intervention in Mali

Paper No. 5382 

By Kazi Anwarul Masud 

France has finally intervened in Mali and French forces have removed the Islamists from the areas they had occupied previously. Both the Malians and the ousted government of Dioncounda Traore have welcomed the French troops and rejoiced over the defeat of the Islamists. 

The happiness of the Malians is being interpreted as their dislike over the draconian rule of the al-Qaida affiliated Islamists who during the short spell of their occupancy of the country had resorted to cutting off hands, stoning to death and other harsh measures for “crimes”committed by the people. Additionally the Malians are known to be moderate Muslims not wedded to the “purist”’s stricter version of Islam. 

French intervention has the support of the US and the international community not so much as a humanitarian intervention but as another chapter of the global (barring a few exceptions) war on terror. Even though any defeat of the al-Qaida calls for celebration by the international community questions have been raised whether French intervention and the reception given to the French troops as liberators not only by the Malians but “Surprisingly enough, Nigeria and with it most of Africa also seem to have ignored the neo-colonial gloss, welcoming and partnering with French forces. They are far more worried about the Islamist threat to regional peace and security than about a re-ignition of French colonial ambition” (Justice in Conflict-January 23 2013) do not carry the flavor of paternalism towards former colonies. 

Glen Greenwald of the Guardian quotes Bradford University Professor Paul Roger’s apprehension that the bombing of Mali will be portrayed by the Islamists in their campaign for converts to the cause as another example of Christian assault on Islam. Glenwood further informs us that as French war planes bomb Mali, there is one simple statistic that provides the key context: this West African nation of 15 million people is the eighth country in which western powers -over the last four years alone - have bombed and killed Muslims - after Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen, Libya, Somalia and the Philippines (that does not count the numerous lethal tyrannies propped up by the West in that region). It is doubtful though that such a campaign will cut any ice even with the Muslims living at the fringe of society. 

But then again while French intervention may have broad acquiescence the participation in the conflict by the Americans and the British may remind the followers of Ayman al Zwahiri of NATO intervention In Afghanistan and in some ways reflect the Vietnam syndrome, stoutly refuted by President Obama, as the Americans prepare to leave Afghanistan with the distinct possibility of return of the Taliban. 

We would rather be called re-emerging powers, says NSA

February 3, 2013
Sandeep Dikshit 

 Shiv Shankar Menon. File Photo: R. Ragu 

Labelling India, China etc. as emerging nations does no justice to their history, he says 

National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon caused a bit of consternation at the Munich Security Conference when he pointed out that the Western construct of labelling India, China and other developing countries as “emerging nations” did not do justice to their history.

Speaking at the first-ever special session on “rising powers and global governance,” an accommodation to the economic rise of India, China, Brazil and other countries at the Security Conference, Mr. Menon felt he was not sure if this label fitted the description.

Contrary to the western discourse of calling these nations emerging powers, he pointed out that several others felt these countries were in the process of restoring the historical norm in the international hierarchy and distribution of power. “Re-emerging powers would be less condescending,” he suggested.

Along with Chinese Vice-Minister for Foreign Affairs Song Tao, he sought to debunk the notion  largely inspired by Western history that the re-emergence of these countries on the global stage would lead to conflict and dissonance in the global order. Such concepts were a result of the European experience since the Treaty of Westphalia  four out of five instances of reordering of the balance of power had involved conflicts of massive proportions. This led to the assumption that the rest of the world will follow a similar course.

Past experience and logic suggests that readjustment can be smooth. For instance, the redistribution of economic power over the past two decades had been peaceful.

A young King and ‘Gross National Happiness’

By Raj Chengappa
03 Feb 2013

Any apprehensions that India harboured over relations between Bhutan and China were allayed by categorical assurances given by the Bhutanese government that the tiny kingdom would do nothing to jeopardise relations with India.

Samuel Butler once wrote, “True greatness wears an invisible cloak, under the cover of which it goes in and out among men without being suspected.” Both power and greatness rest lightly on the young shoulders of the King of Bhutan, His Majesty The Druk Gyalpo Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. He will turn 33 on February 21, but exhibits a maturity and calm far beyond his age. His Majesty was the Chief Guest at India’s 64th Republic Day celebrations, which he graced along with his charming young wife, Her Majesty The Gyaltsuen Jetsun Pema.

The Bhutan royals with Congress vice-president Rahul Gandhi in New Delhi on Monday. PTI 

I first met His Majesty in the summer of 2005 when he was the Crown Prince and doing a course at the National Defence University in Delhi. He graciously consented to attend my lecture on India’s nuclear weapons programme to IFS trainees at the Foreign Services Institute in Delhi. When he returned to Thimphu he wrote several letters in his own hand, which used to reach me via an extra-large envelope with the royal seal on it.

By the end of that year, his father King Jigme Singye Wangchuck, who had just turned 50, announced he was going to abdicate in favour of his eldest son and would start devolving powers to him with immediate effect. Not only did the then King want to give up his powers but he also decided that Bhutan would transit to a democracy with the monarchy having a considerably reduced role in governance. Rarely has there been such an enlightened monarch who so willingly abdicated his throne and ensured a peaceful transition to democratic power. In contrast, the Nepal King was forced to give up his powers after years of civil unrest.

Kulture in Kolkata

By Indrajit Hazra, Hindustan Times
February 02, 2013 

Dear Salman,
I landed in Kolkata the same day you were supposed to arrive here. I knew this because even before I trolleyed my way out of the airport on Wednesday, I heard a series of uninterrupted dog-like snarls mixed with sounds of human quarreling and a high-pitched moan, the whole effect 

sounding the way it does when a crowd in Kolkata appears out of nowhere and mills around a pedestrian knocked down by a car. Once outside, I saw the motley crowd - some 100-150 men in grimy clothes that seemed worse for the wear, not all of them looking half as agitated as the man standing above them in the middle. 

Before getting into a cab, I turned to my wife to tell her that at last I was getting a decent reception in my old hometown. But quickly enough, I realised that the 'welcoming committee' was waiting for you. Bloody hell! What do you have that I don't which gets you a crowd waiting for you outside the airport? Actually, don't answer that. 

I took a good look at the young bearded guy standing in the middle. He was wearing a white Muslim cap - how else would he have looked Muslim? - and a light brown jacket, and was certainly the best dressed chap around. He was also the most irate of the lot. "We will not tolerate the government allowing Salman Rushdie to set foot in West Bengal. Rushdie is an insult to Islam and has insulted all Muslims. We will not allow him to enter Kolkata," he dog-snarled in Bengali while placards bearing your name were held up in a far more professional manner than the way chauffeurs outside the terminal half-heartedly hold up a piece of paper carrying the name of their passenger coming out of the airport. 

I doubt whether anyone would have sent a driver holding up your name for you to spot if you had indeed come out of the terminal into the dusty, crumbly, dirt-filled, loud area outside. It turns out that Kolkata is a place where the administration can't guarantee your safety. Considering it isn't really bothered about the safety of its own citizens - a visit to a government hospital can always be an eye-opener - I'm sure you'll understand that keeping you safe from self-appointed custodians of culture was never going to be a priority. 

Questions for Hafiz Saeed

By MJ Akbar
03 February 2013, 05:29 AM IST 

A question for the internationally recognised terrorist, ideologue and mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attack, Hafiz Saeed, resident of Lahore, who has just offered sanctuary in Pakistan to our superstar Shah Rukh Khan. Pakistan was carved out in 1947 to ensure security for this subcontinent's Muslims in a separate homeland. Why, six decades later, has Pakistan become the most insecure place for Muslims in the world? Why are more Muslims being killed each day, on an average, in Pakistan than in the rest of the Muslim world put together? 

This continual mass murder is not being done by Hindus and Sikhs, who were once proud residents of Punjab and Sindh but are now merely a near-invisible trace. Some Pakistan leaders even express pride in the fact that non-Muslims , who constituted around 20 per cent of the population in 1947, have been reduced to less than 2 per cent. In contrast, the percentage of Muslims in secular India has increased since independence. Hindus and Sikhs are not killing Muslims in Pakistan; Muslims are murdering Muslims, and on a scale unprecedented in the history of Punjab, the North West Frontier and Sindh. Why? 

There have been riots in India, some of them horrendous. But the graph is one of ebb from the peak of 1947. When a riot does occur, as in Maharashtra recently, civil society and media stand up to demand accountability, and the ground pressure of a secular democracy forces even reluctant governments to cooperate in punishment of the guilty. When Shias, or other sectarians, are mass-murdered in Pakistan on a regular basis, the killers celebrate a "duty" well done. 

History's paradox is evident: Muslims today are safer in India than in Pakistan. The "muhajirs" who left the cities of Uttar Pradesh and Bihar in 1947 would have been far safer in Lucknow, Patna and dozens of cities in their original land than they are now in the tense streets and by-lanes of Karachi. 

Could Shah Rukh Khan have become an international heart throb if his parents had joined the emigration in 1947? Since he is talented he would have gained some recognition on the fringes of elite society, but he could not have become a central presence of a popular culture that has seeped and spread to every tehsil and village. Nor is Shah Rukh the only Muslim superstar in Mumbai's film world; Salman Khan is bigger than him. Shah Rukh and Salman and Amir Khan do not hide their identity through an alias; their birth name is their public persona. 

India-Israel anti-terror axis evolves

By Ninan Koshy 
02 Feb 2013

"It is advisable for the democratic countries of the US, Israel and India to come together with an integrated task force to effectively defeat the threats of terrorists", stated former Indian president APJ Abdul Kalam in a speech in New Delhi last Friday. 

Given his status, is the former president really oblivious to the fact that such a US-India-Israel axis on counter-terrorism already exists? 

During then Israeli prime minister Ariel Sharon's visit to New Delhi in September 2003, his deputy, Yosef Lapid, told journalists that an "unwritten and abstract" axis had been created among India, Israel and the US to combat international terrorism. 

"While there was no formal triangular agreement there is a mutual interest of the three countries in making the world a more secure place for all of us. There is American support for the development of the unwritten axis", Lapid told them. "Therefore in the abstract sense we are creating such an axis." 

Just four months before the announcement of the creation of the axis by the Israeli deputy prime minister, Brajesh Mishra, India's National Security Adviser, had called for such an alliance. 

Speaking to the American Jewish Committee on May 8, 2003, Mishra said, "Only a 'core' consisting of democracies such as India, Israel and USA can deal with terrorism. Such an alliance would have the political will and moral authority to make bold decisions in extreme cases of terrorist provocations". 

He added that the countries would not waste time in defining terrorism or arguing about its causes. "Distinctions sought to be made between freedom fighters and terrorists propagate a bizarre logic", Mishra pontificated. "Another fallacy propagated is that terrorism can be eradicated by addressing the root causes. This is nonsense", Mishra declared. 

He then repeated his favorite themes: India, the US and Israel were the "prime targets of terrorism". They had a "common enemy" and this required "joint action". 

A well-laid war in Myanmar

By Bertil Lintner 
02 Feb 2013

CHIANG MAI - After heaping praise for the past year on Myanmar's supposed new democratic direction, the international community has grappled for a coherent and credible response to the military's recent ferocious offensive against the insurgent Kachin Independence Army (KIA). 

In recent weeks, heavy artillery has been used to pound KIA positions while Russian-built Mi-35 Hind helicopter gunships and Chinese-produced Hongdu JL-8, or Karakorum-8, attack aircraft have strafed military and civilian targets in an unprecedented barrage of firepower in Myanmar's decades-long civil war between government forces and various ethnic resistance armies. 

Western think tanks and other international organizations, many of which have touted the virtues of President Thein Sein's reforms, have alternately forwarded the government's line or offered other explanations to salvage their credibility amid the onslaught. Human-rights groups estimate the fighting has displaced at least 90,000 civilians and have strongly criticized the government for denying humanitarian aid to areas controlled by the KIA. 

In stumping for Thein Sein, the Brussels-based International Crisis Group (ICG) argued in a January report that "The KIO is not blameless. It has not reciprocated the President's announcement of a unilateral ceasefire and has continued offensive actions against military and strategic targets." (The Kachin Independence Organization (KIO) is the KIA's political wing.) 

"At peace talks on October 30, the Myanmar military sent senior commanders to participate, but the Kachin sent only lower-level representatives, meaning that military discussions on separation of forces could not be held. It was interpreted as a snub by the military and left government negotiator U Aung Min undermined as he had worked hard to convince the army to send a very senior army commander to attend the talks in China only for him to be stood up," wrote the ICG, which announced it will give its annual "In Pursuit of Peace Award" to Thein Sein. 

Need to diversify exports to China

By M Rafeeque Ahmed 
03 Feb 2013

China is looking towards internal consumption for propelling economic growth.

India-China trade is growing by leaps and bounds. It has already moved from US $7 billion in 2003-04 to US $75.6 billion in 2011-12. We may reach the target of US $100 billion fixed for 2015 much earlier. The rapid growth in India-China trade coincides with India’s most robust period of GDP and manufacturing growth. In all these years, the GDP growth was over 7.5 per cent and manufacturing over 8 per cent occasionally touching double digit growth. The rising trade deficit with China is a cause of concern as it has already touched US $ 40 billion last fiscal with imports reaching US $ 57.6 billion while exports were at US $ 18.1 billion. However, the trade deficit is widening due to huge demand of the Indian economy, and therefore, we need to internally assess for bridging the deficit.

The telecom revolution and unavailability of adequate telecom equipment led to huge imports from China. The increase in imports could be gauzed from the fact that the country is adding two million mobile subscribers every month. Focus on IT coupled with limited domestic capabilities in computer hardware has led to sizable increase in import of electronic and electronic components. The new focus on power generation has added to demand for power generating plants. By a rough estimate, Indian companies have already placed order to the tune of US $ 75 billion on the Chinese companies for power generating plants. High demand for active pharmaceutical ingredients and low capacity of domestic active pharmaceutical ingredient makers have led to increasing imports of salts and formulations from China.

Geometrical growth

Unfortunately, Indian exports have remained confined to raw materials and inputs ranging from iron-ore, cotton, copper, to iron & steel. The restrictions on iron-ore exports, dip in cotton prices and lesser demand for construction material have affected the exports as well. The real challenge, therefore, lies in moving to value added segments of exports. Fortunately, exports of pharmaceuticals, auto-components and end-products of plastics have shown geometrical growth in their exports.

Danger does not compute in cyber war

By David Wroe, Defence correspondent
Feb 03, 2013 

THE number of serious cyber attacks investigated by Canberra's defence spy agency doubled last year, new figures show, as security experts warn of dangerous complacency in the Australian community about data protection. 

Cyber specialists say many people and businesses take a lax approach to security because they do not think their secrets are worthy of the interest of hackers. But they ignore the danger of ''big data'' mining, in which criminals and foreign intelligence agencies vacuum up massive amounts of seemingly innocent, disparate data and weave it together into information that can be exploited, they say. 

Former minister for Defence, John Faulkner at the opening of Defence's new Cyber Security Operations Centre in Canberra.

The number of ''cyber incidents'' against government and big business networks reported to the federal government's Cyber Security Operations Centre rose from 1260 in 2011 to 1790 last year - a jump of 42 per cent. 

Those deemed serious enough for the CSOC - part of the top-secret Defence Signals Directorate - to carry out investigations more than doubled, from 310 in 2011 to 685 last year. 

A spokesman for the Defence Department declined to go into detail about the attacks as it could ''jeopardise ongoing investigations … and the ability to protect information and networks''. 

A separate government agency, the Computer Emergency Response Team, or CERT, logged 7300 attacks against the private sector last year. Many were routine, a spokesman said, but many were ''more serious incidents … such as sophisticated and targeted attacks''. 

Chinese attack on US media sets new bar for digital wars

By Chidanand Rajghatta,

Feb 3, 2013,

China has set the new bar for such warfare with information now emerging that digital warriors based in that country have been hacking into top US newspapers and email accounts of several American journalists.

WASHINGTON: The expanded contours of future warfare are quickly being redefined.

They will involve not just armies and armaments but electronic networks and digital warriors. New bloodless battlefields will include a sprawling cyberia, and soldiers will include computer jocks sitting in front of monitors. There will also be cyber-jihadis, or at least some nations will disown them and call them non-state actors.

Digital mercenaries will also serve private interests. While Ghazni and Ghori pillaged temples in search of treasures, these marauders will plunder foreign networks for information and money.

China has set the new bar for such warfare with information now emerging that digital warriors based in that country have been hacking into top US newspapers and email accounts of several American journalists for months now.

For the most part, the publications targeted, including the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post, were investigating charges of corruption against top Chinese leaders, including its premier Wen Jiabao. Key journalists whose email accounts were broken into were those involved in coverage of China.

New Sinocentrism: The ideology that may be driving China to hack foreign media

By Max Fisher
February 1, 2013

(Lintao Zhang/Getty Images)

We don’t know for sure whether or not the Chinese government was behind the four-month-long campaign of China-based cyber attacks on the New York Times. For what it’s worth, a specialist in Chinese hacking at the Council on Foreign Relations named Adam Segal explains here why analysts tend to suspect Beijing’s hand in the sophisticated and “depressingly ordinary” Chinese hacks on Western targets from newspapers to defense contractors. There are the breadcrumb trails back to facilities associated with the Chinese military, for example, and the hackers’ deep interest in topics that would only seem important to senior Communist Party officials, such as the reputations of the Dalai Lama and of party officials themselves. 

But there’s another question about the Chinese hackers and their long-suspected links to the Chinese government: Why would Beijing think this is okay to do? How could Chinese Communist Party leaders square their goal of becoming a respected global power with behavior – possibly hacking a Western media organization in response to an embarrassing story – that seems more in line with that of a defensive pariah state? 

The answer, or at least a very compelling theory, may be contained in a fascinating blog post by Christopher Ford of the Hudson Institute. Ford, a China expert, attended a Beijing conference with international analysts and Chinese military leaders in November. He was at first frustrated by his Chinese counterparts’ insistence on scolding and lecturing foreign participants. At one point, presumably at his wits’ end, Ford stood up and pointed out that Chinese officials often complain that the U.S. tells other countries “how to run their internal affairs.” So why, he asked, did he hear no Americans telling China what to do at the conference, and yet there were Chinese generals publicly insisting, before news cameras, that Japan must immediately expel its right-wing political parties and rewrite its history textbooks to better reflect China’s view of World War Two? Was this not exactly the sort of “internal interference” of which China claims to be a victim? 

Pentagon's new massive expansion of 'cyber-security' unit is about everything except defense

By Glenn Greenwald
28 January 2013

Cyber-threats are the new pretext to justify expansion of power and profit for the public-private National Security State 

The National Security Agency (NSA) headquarters in Fort Meade, Maryland. Among other forms of intelligence-gathering, the NSA secretly collects the phone records of millions of Americans, using data provided by telecom firms AT&T, Verizon and BellSouth.
Photograph: NSA/Getty Images 

As the US government depicts the Defense Department as shrinking due to budgetary constraints, the Washington Post this morning announces "a major expansion of [the Pentagon's] cybersecurity force over the next several years, increasing its size more than fivefold." Specifically, says the New York Times this morning, "the expansion would increase the Defense Department's Cyber Command by more than 4,000 people, up from the current 900." The Post describes this expansion as "part of an effort to turn an organization that has focused largely on defensive measures into the equivalent of an Internet-era fighting force." This Cyber Command Unit operates under the command of Gen. Keith Alexander, who also happens to be the head of the National Security Agency, the highly secretive government network that spies on the communications of foreign nationals - and American citizens. 

The Pentagon's rhetorical justification for this expansion is deeply misleading. Beyond that, these activities pose a wide array of serious threats to internet freedom, privacy, and international law that, as usual, will be conducted with full-scale secrecy and with little to no oversight and accountability. And, as always, there is a small army of private-sector corporations who will benefit most from this expansion. 
Disguising aggression as "defense"

Let's begin with the way this so-called "cyber-security" expansion has been marketed. It is part of a sustained campaign which, quite typically, relies on blatant fear-mongering. 

The Myths of America's Shadow War

By Loch K. Johnson 
Jan 31 2013

Taking covert action is far less clean and much more complex than many assume. 

Mohammad Ismail/Reuters 
The United States faces a world of constantly shifting circumstances, as underscored by the Arab Spring uprisings. To shield the nation in a global setting where uncertainty and hostilities are commonplace, officials in Washington have crafted a range of responses to international events that includes diplomacy and the use of armed force. The most hidden and least understood of these responses is covert action a tightly held operational secret in the U.S. government. This secrecy has yielded several myths that have misled the American people about a controversial, and sometimes lethal, approach to foreign policy. 

MYTH #1: The meaning of covert action is clearly delineated. 

With the Intelligence Authorization Act of 1991, the government did craft a formal statutory definition of covert action as "an activity or activities of the United States government to influence political, economic, or military conditions abroad, where it is intended that the role of the United State Government will not be apparent or acknowledged publicly." Put simply, covert action attempts to influence world events through the secret use of propaganda, political, economic, and paramilitary activities. The concept of "secret influence" is spongy, though, and can blur the distinction between activities carried out by the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) or by the military. Take the training of foreign covert forces by U.S. Special Operations Forces. The SOF consists of soldiers out of uniform, acting on an unacknowledged basis precisely the kind of operation engaged in by the CIA. By calling such activities "traditional military operations," the Pentagon is able to sidestep the legal procedures for reporting covert actions to Congress. 

Budgetary Misnomers and the Cost of Defense

By Paul R. Pillar 
January 31, 2013 

As budgetary battles proceed with competing rhetorical salvos about what parts of government spending are unreasonably large, or are most out of control, or are the “real” reason for burgeoning deficits (actually, every part of the budgetary equation, on both the expenditure and the revenue sides, is just as real as every other part), one welcomes the occasional breath of fresh semantic air on the subject. Veronique de Rugy of the Mercatus Center at George Mason University, using data compiled by Winslow Wheeler of the Project on Government Oversight, observes that the figures usually adduced to present spending on “defense” or “national security” understate by a long shot actual federal spending that is appropriately put under such labels. The figure most often cited is the “base” budget of the Department of Defense, which was $535 billion for FY2012. But military and defense expenditures go well beyond that, including such things as the development of nuclear weapons, which is done in the Department of Energy, or training of foreign military forces, which come under the international affairs section of the federal budget. Add in all those other things and the total is more like $930 billion rather than $535 billion. And that's just current expenditures, not taking into account follow-on effects such as additional interest to be paid on the national debt. 

Probably the most egregious bit of military-related budgetary legerdemain has been the practice of keeping the operational costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan separate from the main Pentagon budget, as if those costs should not count as much because they are, well, sort of temporary. And so the base budget figure continues to get cited as “defense spending” even though it excludes the main, and costliest, activities in recent years of the U.S. military. This practice makes as much sense as if I were to calculate my health care costs and to exclude stays in the hospital, instead only including recurring expenditures such as dental check-ups.