How Does Russia View the NDAA?

New US Defense Act curtails liberties not military spending

The US Congress has already approved National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2012 (NDAA 2012) and President Barack Obama has announced his readiness to sign it. The most radical analysts are comparing the new law to the edicts of the “Third Reich” or “Muslim tyrannies”.

Even moderate observers have noted an unprecedented expansion the US executive powers, first of all an expansion of presidential power. From the point of view of liberals and civil rights activists, adoption of the anti-piracy law in the Internet or SOPA (Stop Online Piracy ACT) which has also become a subject of fierce debates, would be another blow to democratic values.

According to the new law on Defense, the US military will have the power to detain Americans suspected of involvement in terrorism without charge or trial and imprison them for an indefinite period of time. Right activists claim that the application of the law could almost completely destroy civil rights of Americans. Representatives of the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) regard the new act as unprecedented assault on the rights and liberties of US citizens.

After the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US armed forces and security services were immediately granted the powers US history has never known. Under George Bush Junior, USA Patriot Act was adopted which granted security services extensive powers, including the right to hack phones, e-mails, access medical and financial information as well as collect intelligence information against other countries on the US territory.

In this respect, the new Defense Act, or “a detention act” as it has been widely nicknamed, does not add anything new to it. The political activities linked with this Act is more likely to do with the presidential campaign but is not limited to it. Four years ago, when Barack Obama ran for his first term, he promised to put an end to detentions without trial which had become common practice during the presidency of George Bush Jr. But this has not been achieved and it obviously won’t happen until the expiration of Obama’s first term.

Russia is particularly concerned with the provisions of NDAA which deal with reduction and control over armaments including the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), providing Russia with classified information related to AMD, as well as the financing of the US military machine. Under the new law, by March 2012, a report on the state of Russia’s nuclear forces has to be produced.

The new law sets the total military spending at about $670 billion, which is slightly lower than it was in 2011. Out of this amount $554 billion will be spent on the maintenance and equipment of the US armed forces and $115 and a half billion on combat missions abroad, first of all in Afghanistan. The Act prohibits any arbitrary cuts in spending on the US mission in Afghanistan. Under the new law, the spending on the US mission in Afghanistan can be only cut after the threat level has been lowered and in the absence of urgent operational need.

Iran comes next on the list. The US is continuing to slap Iran with sanctions. During the discussion of NDAA-2012 representatives of both US parties agreed that no companies doing business with Iran will be granted an opportunity to conduct business with the US.  This is a serious blow to Iran’s ability to obtain the industrial equipment and technologies it needs. As for China, it has been declared the US main geopolitical rival and its main trade partner at the same time. That is why Washington’s activities with regard to Beijing will be restricted to monitoring, controlling and blocking China’s access to modern military technologies.

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