Mar 14 • 28M

Bloated $842 billion Pentagon Budget Openly Targets China and more...

Radio Interview on Sputnik's Political Misfits 14/03/23

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Mark Sleboda
Mark Sleboda's Radio Interviews and podcasts on International, affairs and security from a realist, Russian & multipolar PoV
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Welcome back to Political Misfits on Radio Sputnik, where we bring you news, politics and culture - without the red and blue treatment. I’m John Kiriakou here with Michelle Witte.

The Biden Administration is asking Congress to appropriate a record $842 billion for the Pentagon.  Defense News and the Federal News Service report that the request comes with an eye toward China, but “having learned the lessons of Ukraine.”  Congress has a bad habit of giving the Pentagon more money than it asks for almost every year.  And because the Pentagon is not audited, it is unclear where all the money goes.  //  The US announced that it would sell a fleet of nuclear-powered submarines to Australia, a move that was roundly condemned by Beijing as a “move down the path of error and regret.”  The subs are state-of-the-art and will be powered by British engines.  Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak are both in San Diego today, where they made a joint announcement.  Australia will take delivery of three Virginia-class nuclear subs between 2025 and 2030, with an option to purchase two more.  //  Controversy is flaring in the Republic of Georgia thanks to a draft law modeled on the US’s Foreign Agents Registration Act, or FARA.  The European Union is condemning the draft Georgian law because they say it threatens the presence in the country of NGOs, election observers, and pro-democracy groups.  But at the same time, the EU is without a FARA law, thus allowing foreign governments to influence EU policy without controls.  //  The Estonian government yesterday arrested an Estonian elected official and charged him with the crime of “anti-Estonian association.”  His crime was that he traveled to Russia.  That’s it.  He didn’t make any statement.  He didn’t provide Russia with any material support.  He simply went there on a day trip.  Estonia, which is a member of NATO and the European Union, professes to be a free and democratic society.  Unless you decide to visit Russia.  //  And today is the birthday of Marat Kasem, our Sputnik colleague who was arrested by Latvian authorities on January 23 on trumped up charges of “providing economic resources to a Kremlin propaganda outlet.”  Marat is the editor-in-chief of the Lithuanian branch of Sputnik, which has been accused of “discrediting Latvia and its allies” and was in Latvia to visit friends.  My own editorial opinion is that the Latvian government does that all by itself by arresting and detaining a working journalist and then refusing him his day in court.  We wish this birthday could be better for Marat.

We’re joined by International affairs and security analyst Mark Sleboda.


  1. It’s good to have you back, Mar.  Thanks for joining us.  Let’s start with DOD.  The Biden Administration is asking Congress to appropriate $842 billion for the Defense Department.  That is by far the biggest defense budget ever, it’s unaudited, and it’s never 100 percent clear where the money goes.  So first, give us an overview of where this money will likely go.  Will it be for weapons systems, for satellites, for new ships and subs, new F-35s, or for something else?

  2. Americans should understand, too, that this isn’t just a check that goes to the Pentagon, which then divides it up.  Much, perhaps most, of this money will instead go to defense contractors like Northrop Grumman, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, and General Dynamics.  If US policymakers are talking about confronting China, how does that policy translate into defense spending?

  3. The submarine sale to Australia is very big news, and I’m sure the French are furious about it.  These three subs, and perhaps five by the end of the contract, will be the first nuclear attack subs owned by Australia.  The Australians freely describe 

  4. Georgia’s FARA law

  5. Estonian arrests

  6. Marat Kasem

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