Zbigniew Mazurak's Blog

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Archive for April, 2012

Leftist Politico mag caught lying about missile defense

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 16, 2012


The left-wing Politico mag has published yet another ridiculous screed pertaining to defense issues, this time, a diatribe by a political hack named Edward-Isaac Devere regarding missile defense.

I will not go by every line of his screed and refute each of them individually, as that would be a waste of time. Rather, I shall summarize his lies and refute them in a way similar to the way I refute myths about defense spending.

The purpose of his screed, of course, is to smear missile defense and mislead the American people into believing that it is extremely expensive and totally ineffective. But since even the most leftist Administration in US history doesn’t agree, he’s been forced to quote the most leftist hacks in America, such as Joe Cirincione, as authoritative sources. (Cirincione, although hailed by Dovere as a “nuclear weapons expert and a missile defense critic who calls missile defense “the greatest scam in the DOD”, is actually just an ignorant political hack who has utterly discredited himself with his ridiculous claims.)

Lie #1: The entire missile defense system is totally ineffective. It cannot protect America against any ballistic missile attacks.

Dovere falsely claims that:

“For decades, the military’s been trying to get a missile shield system in place that would eliminate the danger of the kind potentially posed by the rocket North Korea launched Friday morning Pyongyang time. But 60 years and $35 billion later, we’re not there yet. Or, according to many missile defense experts, very close at all.”

To defend his blatant lie, he quotes a former general turned arms control activist, Robert Gard:

““You hear some of them say that it’s the only defense of the United States against ballistic missiles we’ve got. But the problem is, it doesn’t work,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Jr., the Chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.”

Those statements are blatant lies (like the rest of the article).

Missile defense systems DO WORK.

The United States Missile Defense System is comprised of a wide variety of equipment: Patriot and THAAD batteries designed against short-to-medium-range missiles, SM-3 sea-launched missiles designed against short-to-intermediate range BMs, ground-based interceptors (GBIs) deployed in Alaska and California, an experimental Airborne Laser aircraft, and a network of ground-based sensors (in the Aleutian Islands, the CONUS, Greenland, Britain), shipborne Aegis BMD radars, and spaced-based sensors. With the possible exception of GBIs and the Airborne Laser, these systems DO work, have been tested dozens of times, have passed the vast majority of their tests, and some of them have been proven in real-life crises. The Aegis radar and SM-3 interceptors have passed over 80% of their tests, and in 2008, they intercepted USA-193, an errant satellite that was about to fall down on Earth; thus, they proved themselves when human life depended on them. PATRIOT interceptors have passed the majority of their tests and have been proven in two real wars: the two Gulf Wars. During the first, they intercepted Iraqi Scud missiles launched at Israel, thus preventing Israel from retaliating against Iraq and breaking up the anti-Iraqi coalition (which Saddam hoped would happen, hence he launched Scuds at Israel). During the Second Gulf War, they intercepted the 10 Iraqi Scuds launched at Kuwait City. THAAD interceptors have passed 10 out of their 14 tests, i.e. 71.42%, and each THAAD battery can cover the area the size of New Jersey. Even the Airborne Laser has passed 60% of its tests, although 5 tests hardly constitute a sufficient evaluation. So in general, the US missile defense system DOES WORK, and if North Korea’s launch of its TD-2 ICBM had succeeded, the missile would’ve likely been intercepted.

Furthermore, the claim that the US has been developing missile defense for 60 years is also a blatant lie. There was no missile defense project at all until the 1960s. But then, Secretary McNamara killed the program (for fears it would upset the strategic balance with the USSR), and in 1972, the US signed the ABM treaty, which banned the development of missile defense systems. No real missile defense effort was made until the Reagan years, and after Clinton dramatically slowed it down, it did not pick up in the earnest until the Bush years.

Lie #2: “But raising more concern: Of the 15 missile intercept tests for the military’s system, seven have failed. After the two failures in 2010, the military delayed the next test until this December —which, if successful, would be the first test to bring down a missile in four years. There’s yet to be a fully-fledged missile defense test even attempted.”

Dovere again misleads readers into thinking, and possibly even believes himself, that the Ground-Based Interceptor (which is the particular BMD system he’s talking about here) is America’s ONLY missile defense system. That, as explained above, is not true. Likewise, the claim that no “fully-fledged missile defense has even been attempted” is also a blatant lie. As for the GBI system itself, it has itself undergone fully fledged tests, and has passed the majority (8 of 15) of its tests. Dovere blasts it for its last two tests, which were failures, but fails to mention how the DOD RESPONDED to these failures (which, BTW, happened in 2o10): by taking the program on a corrective course, detecting the failure’s causes, and eliminating these root causes, at the contractor’s expense (the contract includes a Defects Clause which made the contractor liable for the cost of correcting any flaws). Even Sen. Levin, for a long time a missile defense skeptic, has praised the MDA for doing so and has hailed its approach as an acquisition strategy model (holding contractors responsible).

Have Ground Based Interceptors suffered failures such as these two? Yes. So has aircraft development. Most flight attempts by the Wright Brothers were failures. But they kept trying and continually improved their plane, and eventually succeeded. If they had given up after 2 or even 7 failures, aircraft would not have existed today… unless someone else had resumed the developmental effort.

(And even after aircraft were eventually developed and fielded, many military leaders, such as Marshal Ferdinand Foch, claimed they were militarily useless.)

Test failures are an unavoidable part of any developmental effort. Ronald Reagan understood that and warned that missile defense would not be immune from failures but would nonetheless be necessary. “There will be successes as well as failures and setbacks”, he said in his famous SDI speech in March 1983. But test failures can be overcome, their causes can be detected and removed, and the GBI has nonetheless passed the majority of its tests.

Lie #3: “(…) lost were the questions many defense experts have been asking: whether politicians from both parties are for political reasons defending a defense network built to hold off a threat that may not ever emerge, and isn’t up to date with current thinking about the threats America and its allies face. (…) One argument against the importance of a missile shield is that neither Iran or North Korea has yet developed missiles with the range that the shield is meant to protect from, as the latest broken rocket suggests.”

Again, Dovere suggests that the GBI is America’s only missile defense system, which is untrue. America’s BMD network consists of a wide variety of systems, most of which (Patriots, THAAD, and SM-3 interceptors) are designed against short-, medium-, and intermediate range ballistic missiles, of which Iran and North Korea have hundreds (not to mention China, Russia, Syria, etc.). Obama’s missile defense program, including the EPAA, is, by his own admission, designed primarily against these missiles, with anti-ICBM capabilities to be added in 2020. The DOD’s BMD Review and actual BMD programs also prioritize addressing the SRBM/MRBM threat, which constitutes the bulk of the BMs existing in the world.

Furthermore, the claim that the NK/Iranian ICBM threat is nonexistent and may never emerge is a lie. North Korea will eventually perfect ICBM technology, and its Taepodong ICBMs can theoretically already reach the US. Iran is projected by the US intel community to have ICBMs capable of hitting the US by 2015. According to the Free Beacon, it already has some, having bought them from China. Moreover, the point of a defense is to be AHEAD of the threat, not neck-to-neck with it.

Lie #4: “Perfectly realized, the shield would mean freedom from fear of ballistic attack for the United States and its allies—though not including Israel and South Korea, because of their proximity to the expected launch sites in Iran and North Korea.”

No one is aiming for a “perfect” system, which will never exist. As for Israel and South Korea, they WILL be protected as well. Israel has already deployed two Arrow batteries and is procuring a third; Arrow has been rigorously, successfully tested and can intercept Iranian BMs. South Korea is protected by 16 American Patriot batteries and could be even better protected if it would bother to buy its own Patriot and THAAD batteries and make its warships BMD-capable. The obstacle here is political, not technological. Seoul is simply reticent in defending itself.

Lie #5: Missile defense has been protected from spending cuts even as everything else has been cut. It has become a third rail of federal spending. It’s a sacred cow.

Missile defense was targeted by Obama on his first day. His very first defense budget, for FY2010, cut BMD spending by 1.4 bn USD and cancelled or cut several crucial BMD programs, including the MKV, the KEI, and the ABL. BMD spending was only slightly increased in FYs2011-2012, never reaching its FY2009 level again. Now the ABL program is being completely terminated, and missile defense is slated to be deeply cut if sequestration of defense spending occurs. By contrast, NO federal agency other than the DOD has so far experienced more than slight budget cuts.

In short, Dovere’s entire screed is a litany of blatant lies. It is not surprising that the utterly-discredited leftist Politico mag has published it; no self-respecting publication would ever accept it. It’s nothing more than a pathetic political attack aimed at tarring all missile defense systems in the eyes of Americans with blatant lies.

Posted in Military issues, World affairs | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Why the flat tax is a nonstarter

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 15, 2012


Today is April 15th, the dreaded Tax Day, so it’s high time to think about what’s the best tax reform proposal for America.

The purpose of this blogpost is to explain why a flat income tax is no solution to the problem of the complexity of the current tax code.

Sen. Rand Paul has recently released his rehashed budget blueprint from last year which, of course, stands no chance of passing and which this year includes, unlike last year, a flat income tax as a component. Like last year, however, he proposes only 500 bn bucks in annual spending cuts.

He assumes that the economy will somehow miraculously rebound that it will produce the remaining 1 trillion bucks of annual revenue to balance the budget? It’s a fantasy. It won’t happen. Paul is merely repeating and rehashing the rosy budget blueprint that he introduced last year. It would never balance the budget. By contrast, the budget plans of the Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation WOULD balance the budget, albeit in a decade.

His flat tax proposal is a nonstarter and shows why he is not serious about tax reform. The biggest problem with the income tax is not that it is progressive, and not even the fact that it contains many tax loopholes. The biggest problem is that it is an INCOME TAX – a tax that confiscates people’s hard-earned earnings. A tax that punishes productivity and savings instead of incentivizing them. An INCOME TAX always is, and always will be, a huge drag on the economy, whether it is flat or not.

Moreover, a flat income tax will also not solve other big problems with the INCOME TAX – the bloated, oppressive IRS; the intrusive IRS audits; the burden of filling out tax returns every year, and so forth. A flat tax is not a solution at all. It is a mere placebo.

Besides, the flat tax is such a joke that it wouldn’t stay flat for very long. It could be made progressive (i.e. new tax brackets could be added) by the next Congress. It would take only one or two Congresses to undo everything that the flat tax could give us.

Don’t believe me? Recall that the CURRENT abomination of a federal tax code started in 1913 as a flat income tax. Yet, by 1917, it was a progressive income tax whose highest rate was 77% – a rate not even the most fervent advocate of the federal income tax dreamed of in 1913.

The flat tax is not a solution, mere a placebo, and should not even be considered. Sadly, too many flat tax supporters, including Rand Paul, are wedded to their precious flat tax idol, so they are not willing to consider anything else. By far the most difficult aspect of converting people to the cause of real tax reform has been to get them to at least CONSIDER an option other than a federal income tax. Once that is done, however, it’s easy to do the rest of the “convincing” task.

Mitt Romney, for one, is open to a consumption tax, including the FairTax, and has praised many of the FT’s virtue. He is not stuck on stupid on the income tax and would like to move the US away from such taxation. That means that with Romney, half of the convincing is already down. All the work that remains is to convince Romney that the FairTax is the best plan to completely replace the federal income tax.

As my friend John Gaver rightly says, and has posted on the HF’s blog:

“I just posted this to the Heritage Blog and to their Facebook page


Let’s see. The current tax abomination began it’s life as a Flat INCOME Tax. So what’s to make us believe that a new Flat INCOME Tax will remain flat beyond the next session of Congress. One look at the names of those in Congress will convince even the most jaded observer that the rate won’t remain flat.One of the primary problems with our current abomination is that, being a tax on INCOME, it drags down the economy, by punishing productivity and savings. Making a tax on INCOME flat, will not make it any less of a drag on the economy or stimulate savings.Yet another serious problem with our current abomination is that it has layer upon layer of hidden taxes, of which most people are not aware. These hidden taxes come in the form of corporate taxes that are embedded in the cost of every new product. This of course drags the economy down even more and amounts to double taxation, since consumers would be buying already taxed products, with after-tax money. Making the Corporate INCOME Tax the same level as the Personal Income Tax will do nothing to eliminate the many layers of hidden taxes, which constitute double-taxation.The whole idea of a Flat INCOME Tax is nothing more or less than a placebo. It will NOT solve any problems, but only mask the existing problems for a little while longer.By contrast, the FairTax will be entirely transparent and will eliminate all double-taxation. It will stimulate the economy, by removing the drag on the economy that ALL INCOME taxes create. But beyond that, it will encourage savings. But above all, unlike INCOME taxes, since it would be entirely transparent, raising the rate of the FairTax would be political suicide.A Flat INCOME Tax of any kind is a non-starter, since flattening the rates would be analogous to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The root problems would still exist. The FairTax is the only tax plan being discussed that would actually FIX the problems with our current tax system.

Posted in Economic affairs, Politicians | Tagged: , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

6 reasons why sequestration should not occur

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 14, 2012


Less than 9 months from now, on January 2nd, 2013, the sequestration of defense spending will kick in unless the Congress stops it.

The opponents of a strong defense are triumphing. They are this close to achieving what they’ve been striving to achieve for decades: completely gutting America’s defense, so they will be able to do what none of America’s external enemies have been able to accomplish: bring the US military to its knees.

So now, as the Congress mulls whether to save defense from sequestration, they are protesting and pressuring the Congress to allow the sequester’s deep, unjustifiable, disproportionate defense cuts to occur.

So I’d like to present the facts to the Congress and the public: 6 reasons why defense spending sequestration should not and must not occur.

#1: It would gut the military.

This is not mere scaremongering. This would be an inevitable consequence of sequestration. The sequester’s cuts ($600 bn over a decade, i.e. 60 bn per year on average, on top of the $487 bn cuts already ordered by the BCA and all previous defense cuts implemented by Obama) would require the DOD to:

  • Cancel the F-35 program completely without replacement, and thus betray foreign program partners
  • Eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad completely while cutting the bomber fleet by 2/3 and cancelling the bomber replacement program
  • Delay the SSBN replacement program
  • Cancel all except the most basic upgrades for F-15s and F-16s while cutting the fighter fleet by 35%
  • Cut the USN’s ship fleet to 230 vessels, the smallest size since 1915, and vastly inadequate (independent studies say the Navy needs 346 ships)
  • Forego the deployment of any missile defense system abroad
  • Cut the Army to its smallest size since 1940
  • Cancel virtually all Army modernization programs
  • Cut the Marines down to just 145,000 personnel
  • Cut personnel benefits programs to such depth that it would break faith with them (e.g. massive cuts in DOD health programs and retirement benefits), thus discouraging people from joining the military or reenlisting

As testified by Obama’s own SECDEF, as well as all Joint Chiefs, lower-ranking generals, and other DOD officials, and as confirmed by many independent analysts and retired officers, sequestration would completely gut the military. For JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, sequestration would produce “the definition of a hollow force”. For LTG Mills of the Marine Corps, “sequestration would break faith with those defending America.”

The HASC has come to similar conclusions and also warns that most of the damage that would be done to defense would be irreversible. For example, if you cancel a shipbuilding program that a shipyard relies on, the shipyard will have to close and be liquidated and will not be there to reopen when you’re finally ready to start buying ships again.

Moreover, first tier BCA-mandated budget cuts plus sequestration ($108.7 bn a year on average) plus zeroing out OCO spending (as a result of the inevitable US withdrawal from Afghanistan, $88.5 bn per year on average) means cutting the military budget by a total 32.11% – much deeper than the cuts made after the Vietnam War (26%) and almost as deep as the cuts that followed the Cold War (34%-35%). Now think about it, Dear Reader: we now know that the post-Vietnam and post-Cold-War defense cuts WRECKED the military. So how can we honest expect this round of defense cuts NOT to gut the military? We can’t. Simple math alone should tell you that, even if you don’t believe Obama’s own SECDEF, Deputy SECDEF, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as many lower-ranking generals, retired military officers, and independent analysts.

#2: While gutting the military, it would totally fail to address the deficit problem.

These cuts would be deep in terms of the defense budget (constituting, by themselves, more than 10% of it), but they would utterly fail to address the federal budget deficit, which is $1.3 trillion this fiscal year. Jut this year alone. Sequestration would not even make a dent in that deficit.

#3: It would mean betraying the federal government’s #1 responsibility.

The federal government’s #1 Constitutional duty is providing for the common defense. Gutting defense, as sequestration would, would mean a total dereliction of that duty. The #1 duty of any government is to provide security for its citizens. If the federal government cannot perform that function, there’s no reason to have a federal government at all.

#4: It would be a deeply disproportionate whacking.

Although total military spending amounts to just 19%, and the core defense budget (the part of the military budget that would be it by sequestration) to less than 15%, of total federal spending, it would bear 50% of the brunt of the budget cuts under sequestration. The other 50% of the sequester would be spread across a multitude of domestic discretionary programs, while entitlements would suffer no cuts at all except small reductions ($2 bn per year) of the Medicare program.

#5: It would allow entitlements and other social and domestic programs to skate away with tiny cuts and thus benefit their supporters politically.

Because these cuts would disproportionately hit defense while cutting other federal programs mildly (discretionary programs) or not at all (entitlements, except Medicare), they would politically benefit only the Left, which would win a huge victory this way by managing to protect its beloved social programs (domestic discretionary spending and entitlements) from serious cuts. That should be unacceptable for any conservative, indeed, for any Republican.

#6: It would gut the defense industry.

Although liberals and libertarians won’t like it, I’ll say it anyway: sequestration would gut the defense industry and that’s a VERY BAD THING. The defense industry has already suffered enough as a result of the closure of over 50 procurement programs and Obama’s 2009-2011 defense cuts ($400 bn by his own admission). Now the defense industry, facing the prospect of sequestration and thus mass program closures and order cancellations, is already closing facilities and laying off hundreds of workers.

Proceeding with sequestration would make matters much worse. Many more industrial facilities would be closed (permanently), and hundreds of thousands of defense industry workers would be laid off. According to Secretary Panetta and the Center for Security Policy, the unemployment rate would shoot up by a full percentage point and every state would feel sequestration’s impact on defense deeply.

And that damage would be irreversible in most companies’ and facility cases. As the HASC points out, a shipyard forced to close for many years by sequestration (and the resulting cuts in or cancellations of ship orders) will not wait 10 years for America to balance its budget and will not be open 10 years later when the US Navy will finally have the money to buy ships. Once orders are deeply cut (or cancelled outright), and once shipyards close as a result, they will close permanently.

In short, sequestration would deeply and irreversibly damage America’s defense industrial base, making it much harder to rebuild the military itself down the road.

CONCLUSION

To sum up, there is no good reason to proceed with defense spending sequestration. There are at least 6 good reasons to cancel it. Let’s hope the Congress does so.

Posted in Constitutions, Economic affairs, Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Rebuttal of the Paulbots’ “peace” argument

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 12, 2012


On the laughable AntiWar.com forum, a blogger named Justin has recently posted a ridiculous screed titled “An Open Letter to Ron Paul”, in which he calls on his pseudo-prophet to run as a third party candidate. He claims that there is a “substantial and growing libertarian wing” in the GOP and that the majority of Americans desire peace, yet the GOP, the blogger claims, disregards them, so he thinks the GOP deserves to be “punished” by Paul by running as a 3rd party candidate.

Let’s leave the issue of RP’s chances of “punishing the GOP” aside. Ron Paul is a flake and never was anything more than that. He’s not even a blip on the GOP’s radar. He’s far to the left of even Barack Obama on foreign and defense issues, so if he runs as a 3rd party candidate, he’ll siphon far more votes away from Obama than from Romney (the votes of pacifists, anti-defense leftists, Blame America First traitors, and other whackos who usually vote for Democrats).

Let’s refute the claim that the “libertarians” in the GOP want peace and that the GOP opposes it.

I’m assuming that by the GOP’s supposedly warmongering policies, Justin means the GOP’s support for a strong defense, opposition to deep defense cuts, opposition to Obama’s appeasement of America’s enemies, and support for an America that is generally engaged in the world one way or another – economically, diplomatically, and/or militarily.

I’m also assuming that the policies libertarians claim will bring about peace include massive defense cuts, the withdrawal of all American troops from all foreign countries, termination of all defense commitments to all allies (even close, longstanding allies), retrenchment behind America’s borders, not raising a finger if aggressors threaten or attack America’s allies (even key ones), and standing passively by as America’s foes expand their spheres of influence and as Iran and North Korea develop ICBMs and nuclear weapons.

Libertarians claim that these policies will bring about peace, and they they want nothing but peace. They are lying.

As history has shown, and as Obama’s failed policies are showing everyday, defense cuts, appeasement, and isolationism (or noninterventionism, if you prefer) DO NOT lead to peace. They lead to war.

We saw this happen during the 1930s, when the free world, including the US, refused to arm itself while Nazi Germany and Japan were arming rapidly, and the US had to fight a war it could’ve avoided at a high cost in blood and treasure. We saw the same repeat itself during the 1940s, culminating in the 1950 invasion of South Korea. We saw the same happen during the 1970s, when the US hurriedly withdrew from Vietnam, egan retrenching behind oceans, and the Soviet Union marched from victory to victory, as Marxists invaded half a dozen countries and killed millions of people.

We saw the opposite happen during the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the US military, stood strong against the Soviet Union and Islamic terrorists alike, and won the Cold War without firing a shot.

If America continues to cut its defense, it will severely weaken its military, and thus will fail to deter potential aggressors. It won’t just mean being unable to intervene abroad or to defend America’s allies (as important as they are); it will mean being unable to defend America itself, and there are several threats to the US itself, Iran, Communist China and North Korea just to name a few. This would lead to war, not peace.

That is what always happens when the US severely cuts its defense. It is later forced to rebuild its defense and fight against a new aggressor at a much higher price than what it would cost to keep America’s defense at an appropriate ebb of quality.

Weakness is provocative. Weakness provokes aggressors to perpetrate actions they would otherwise refrain from.

Isolationism (or noninterventionism, if you want to call it that way) would also cause a deterrence failure and thus bring about war, not peace. It would mean American withdrawal from the world, dumping all of America’s allies, breaking all defense commitments to these allies, and consequently a license for all potential aggressors in the world to perpetrate evil and attack their weaker neighbors and targets. For example, North Korea would waste no time in attacking the ROK, and China would quickly subjugate Taiwan, as well as those Asian countries it has serious territorial disputes with (Vietnam, the Phiippines, Japan, etc.). Such a policy would also give these aggressors launchpads (e.g. South Korea) from which to perpetrate further aggression against other countries (including, yes, the United States – don’t think that the crocodile would not come to eat the American people). It would also mean that America’s word, America’s commitment to anything, is completely worthless. No country would ever again trust the US on fur trade, let alone security issues.

In short, isolationism and retrenchment would lead to war and death, not to peace.

Appeasement of, or playing nice with, America’s enemies, such as the dictators of Iran, Venezuela, China, and Russia is also doomed to fail. Suffice to say that Barack Obama has been trying this policy nonstop for the last 3 years, with no success.

The fact, which pacifists, anti-defense leftists, and self-described “libertarians” refuse to recognize to this day, is that there is only ONE thing that can bring about and maintain peace and keep America safe, and that is a strong, well-funded military that will be second to none: very large, well-trained, well-motivated, and equipped with the best weapons and technology that America can produce, competitively and honestly procured in large quantities that bring about economies of scale.

That is the only thing that can bring about and maintain peace. Disarmament, defense cuts, isolationism, and appeasement only bring about death, war, and insecurity.

But pacifists, anti-defense leftists, and libertarians don’t care. Why? Because they don’t really want peace. They just want to pursue their ideological policy of massive defense cuts, eventual disarmament, and retrenchment.

The only thing Justin got right is that most Americans, the peace-loving people that they are, desire peace. But as stated above, only a strong defense can bring about peace – and in the most recent Gallup poll on the subject, 51% of Americans expressed opposition to defense cuts, even as a way of reducing the budget deficit, and only 47% agreed to defense cuts as a deficit reduction measure. (http://www.gallup.com/poll/153185/Fewer-Americans-Say-No-Military-Power.aspx) An earlier Gallup poll found that in general, 57% of Americans oppose defense cuts and this sentiment is shared by a vast majority of Republicans and Tea Partiers.

That is a phenomenal level of opposition to defense cuts, given that for many decades the American people have been bombarded by anti-defense propaganda, portraying defense spending, the DOD, and the military in a bad light, from all sides. I’d say that Ronald Reagan’s lesson that a strong defense is needed to keep the peace and keep America safe has not been lost on most Americans.

Certainly, it has been lost on anti-defense activists, pacifists, and most self-described “libertarians”. But their false claims and pretentions don’t matter. The fact is that the only thing that can bring about and maintain peace, and keep America safe, is a strong national defense, no matter how hard they pretend that defense cuts will somehow bring about peace.

DISCLAIMER: As for actual use of force, I support President Reagan’s guidelines on this issue just like I do on defense posture. Namely, the US should not intervene abroad unless there’s a clear threat to America’s security or crucial interests; troops should be committed wholeheartly or not at all; troops should be committed only with clear, achievable goals and a strategy to achieve them;, and only with popular and Congressional support; and a military intervention abroad should be considered a last resort, not the first. I do not support intervening in irrelevant countries or making American troops crusaders tasked with righting every wrong of this world, or nationbuilding.

Posted in Ideologies, Military issues, Politicians, World affairs | 1 Comment »

How Ronald Reagan refuted the “you must cut defense spending” myth

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 11, 2012


These days, we hear that defense spending must be cut deeply to balance the budget and that reversing BCA-mandated defense cuts would increase the deficit. But that’s garbage. The budget can be balanced without any defense cuts, as the balanced budget plans of both the RSC and the Heritage Foundation have proven.

 

Moreover, this is not the first time liberals are making such false claims. In 1980, as America’s defense spending was at a then-record-low-ebb and the US military was decrepit, people were telling Ronald Reagan that he would have to retain Carter’s defense cuts, or even cut defense further, to balance the budget. But he knew better. He pointed out that there was enough wasteful, fraudulent, and unconstitutional spending in the federal budget to balance it without any defense cuts.

 

Ronald Reagan’s replies to these questions can serve as useful lessons for Republican candidates for federal office on how to answer similar questions, should they be asked (which they likely will be).

(http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_8YxFc_1b_0)

Here’s a transcript of that. At the beginning of the debate, as the second question, he was asked:

 

“MR. SMITH. Mr. Stone, do you have a followup question for the Governor?

 

MR. STONE. Yes. Governor, we’ve been hearing that the defense buildup that you would associate yourself with would cost tens of billions of dollars more than is now contemplated. In assuming that the American people are ready to bear this cost, they nevertheless keep asking the following question: How do you reconcile huge increases in military outlays with your promise of substantial tax cuts and of balancing the budget, which in this fiscal year, the one that just ended, ran more than $60 billion in the red?

 

GOVERNOR REAGAN. Mr. Stone, I have submitted an economic plan that I’ve worked out in concert with a number of fine economists in this country, all of whom approve it, and believe that over a 5-year projection, this plan can permit the extra spending for needed refurbishing of our defensive posture, that it can provide for a balanced budget by 1983, if not earlier, and that we can afford-along with the cuts that I have proposed in Government spending–we can afford the tax cuts I have proposed–and probably, mainly because Mr. Carter’s economic policy has built into the next 5 years, and on beyond that, a tax increase that will be taking $86 billion more next year out of the people’s pockets than was taken this year. And my tax cut does not come close to eliminating that $86 billion increase. I’m only reducing the amount of the increase.

 

In other words, what I’m talking about is not putting Government back to getting less money than Government’s been getting, but simply cutting the increase in spending.”

 

At 21:25, he was asked this question:

 

“MR. SMITH. A followup, Mr. Ellis?

 

MR. ELLIS. Yes, you have centered on cutting Government spending in what you have just said about your own policies. You have also said that you would increase defense spending. Specifically, where would you cut Government spending if you were to increase defense spending and also cut taxes, so that, presumably, Federal revenues would shrink?

 

GOVERNOR REAGAN. Well, most people, when they think about cutting Government spending, they think in terms of eliminating necessary programs or wiping out something, some service that Government is supposed to perform. I believe that there is enough extravagance and fat in Government. As a matter of fact, one of the Secretaries of HEW under Mr. Carter testified that he thought there was $7 billion worth of fraud and waste in welfare and in the medical programs associated with it. We’ve had the General Accounting Office estimate that there is probably tens of billions of dollars that is lost in fraud alone, and they have added that waste adds even more to that.

 

We have a program for a gradual reduction of Government spending based on these theories, and I have a task force now that has been working on where those cuts could be made. I’m confident that it can be done and that it will reduce inflation, because I did it in California. And inflation went down below the national average inCalifornia when we returned money to the people and reduced government spending.”

Posted in Economic affairs, Elections, Military issues, Politicians, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Rebuttal of sequestration’s supporters’ further lies

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 10, 2012


Undaunted by the refutal of their earlier blatant lies, defense sequestration’s supporters are still making up further lies in defense of this unjustifiable mechanism which, if it proceeds, will cut $600 bn out of the defense budget over the next decade on top of the $487 bn already ordered by the First Tier of the August 2011 debt ceiling deal. As US News reports, they claim that “the American military is already vastly superior to any other force, and they say that the real threat to national security is an out-of-control budget.”

Utterly discredited strident liberal (and simoultaneously a supporter of deep defense cuts who works for the Soros-financed Center for American Progress) Lawrence Korb claims thatA budget of $472 billion is more than sufficient to protect our national security“.

They are lying. As much as I wish it were otherwise, the US military is NOT superior, let alone vastly superior, to every other military. China’s military, the PLA, is equally strong (and in some respects, e.g. access-denial weapons and in numbers, superior), and Russia is quickly catching up with the US. It plans to spend $770 bn on new weapons during the next decade and to use that money to buy, inter alia, 400 new ICBMs, 8 new ballistic missile submarines, hundreds of stealthy 5th generation fighterplanes, dozens of quiet AIP and nuclear attack submarines, and at least 200 Su-34 theater fighter-bombers. China, not to be outdone, plans to double its military budget by 2015.

And that’s the state of affairs today. America’s potential enemcould arm themselves further or increase their armament plans anytime. And even if the claim that “the US military is already vastly superior to any other force” were true, which it isn’t, sequestration would make it vastly inferior to the militaries of China, Russia, and North Korea, because it would force the DOD to, inter alia:

  • Cancel the F-35 program completely without replacement, and thus betray foreign program partners
  • Eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad completely while cutting the bomber fleet by 2/3 and cancelling the bomber replacement program (thus leading to an elimination of the bomber leg through nonreplacement)
  • Delay the SSBN replacement program
  • Cancel all except the most basic upgrades for F-15s and F-16s (thus ensuring that they will remain decrepit and unable to defend America) while cutting the fighter fleet by 35%
  • Cut the USN’s ship fleet to 230 vessels, the smallest size since 1915 (when independent studies say the USN needs 346 ships to perform its mission)
  • Forego the deployment of any missile defense system abroad
  • Make deep cuts to existing missile defense programs
  • Cut the Army to its smallest size since 1940 (when it was smaller than the Romanian army), deeply below its 9/11 size
  • Cancel virtually all Army modernization programs
  • Cut the Marines down to just 145,000 personnel
  • Cut personnel benefits programs to such depth that it would break faith with them (e.g. massive cuts in DOD health programs)
This would totally gut the military and render it completely unable to defend America (not to mention its treaty allies). This also totally disproves Larry Korb’s utterly false claim that a defense budget of $472 bn (which would be a whopping $59 bn smaller than it is today) would “more than sufficient to protect national security”. No, it wouldn’t be. It would be woefully inadequate. Not enough for personnel, operations, maintenance, procurement, R&D, missile defense, health programs, or administration.
As then-SECDEF Robert Gates rightly said in January 2011:
“I want to emphasize that while America is at war and confronts a range of future security threats, it is important to not repeat the mistakes of the past by making drastic and ill-conceived cuts to the overall defense budget.  At the same time, it is imperative for this department to eliminate wasteful, excessive, and unneeded spending.  To do everything we can to make every defense dollar count.”
Furthermore, first tier BCA-mandated budget cuts plus sequestration ($108.7 bn a year on average) plus zeroing out OCO spending (as a result of the inevitable US withdrawal from Afghanistan, $88.5 bn annually on average) means cutting the military budget by a total 32.11% – much deeper than the cuts made after the Vietnam War (26%) and almost as deep as the cuts that followed the Cold War (34%-35%). Now think about it, Dear Reader: we now know that the post-Vietnam and post-Cold-War defense cuts WRECKED the military. So how can we honest expect this round of defense cuts NOT to gut the military? We can’t. Simple math alone should tell you that.
The claim that “the real threat to national security is an out-of-control budget” and that there are no other threats to national security is also a blatant lie by sequestration’ supporters. The budget deficit/debt is a huge problem, but not a national security threat because most of the debt is held by American individuals and institutions, and only a minority of it by foreign entitities; of that portion, only a small minority is held by China and other potential enemies. Furthermore, even a huge public debt is NO EXCUSE for deep, crippling defense cuts. The country still needs, and will always need, a strong military second to none, and that need hasn’t changed despite the public debt’s growth. America’s enemies won’t wait to threaten America until it balances its budget. A strong military will ALWAYS be needed.
There are several serious threats to America’s national security: China (the gravest), Russia, North Korea (as demonstrated by its nuclear and ballistic missile tests; its missiles can already reach the US), Iran (which recently purchased DF-31 ICBMs, capable of hitting the US, from China, and is pursuing nuclear weapons), Venezuela, and a multitude of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, al-Shabab, Hezbollah, and FARC. China, not the public debt, is the gravest threat to US national security. Russia, with its huge nuclear arsenal, its huge advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, and significant conventional capabilities, is the second-biggest threat. (As judged by China’s and Russia’s recent actions, not their pretty diplomatic words.)
Moreover, even these deep First Tier BCA and sequestration cuts ($48.7 bn + $60 bn per year) will barely make a dent in the annual budget deficit (which is over $1.3 TRILLION per year), and not even dent the public debt. In fact, even eliminating military spending ($644 bn per year per the FY2012 NDAA) completely would not even halve the budget deficit or dent the public debt. So cutting defense spending is NOT the solution.
That’s not surprising to anyone who knows at least a little about the federal budget: military spending constitutes just 19% of it. It is NOT the cause of America’s fiscal woes, and cutting it, even deeply, will not solve them, as confirmed by CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey during his 2011 confirmation hearing.
Moreover, as the RSC’s and the Heritage Foundation’s budget plans have both shown, it is possible to balance the budget within 10 years (or within 5 years, under the RSC’s plan) without cutting defense spending at all. One just has to cut the REAL drivers of America’s deficits – entitlements (which already constitute 63% of federal spending and grow annually on autopilot) and runaway domestic spending (the result of the federal government trying to be all things to all people and of the cradle-to-grave welfare state). The RSC’s plan would reform entitlements and cut nondefense discretionary spending more deeply than the Ryan Plan. The Heritage Foundation plan, reviewed by the Peterson Foundation, would cut federal spending, debt, and taxes most deeply of all 6 plans reviewed by the Peterson think-tank. So no, defense spending does not have to be cut at all – let alone as deeply as the sequester would reduce it – to balance the budget.
In fact, NONE of sequestration’s supporters have produced a plan that would actually balance the budget. The RSC, the Heritage Foundation, and Congressman Paul Ryan – all of whom oppose sequestration and support a strong defense – have produced such budget blueprints.
And it’s not surprising that many people prefer to deeply cut funding for defense – the government’s #1 Constitutional duty – rather than entitlements and domestic discretionary programs. The latter are more politically popular and have far more lobbyists defending them, while cutting defense, even deeply, is politically safe and easy and entails zero risk of electoral defeat. For those who are unwilling to address the real drivers of America’s debt and find savings in them, defense – which has already been cut disproportionally – is the easiest target.
In short, sequestration’s supporters’ claims are blatant lies, and they should be ashamed of themselves for spreading them.

http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-congress-repeal-the-scheduled-cuts-to-defense-spending; http://www.usnews.com/debate-club/should-congress-repeal-the-scheduled-cuts-to-defense-spending/7-reasons-to-keep-the-defense-budget-sequestration-cuts

Posted in Constitutions, Economic affairs, Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

Romney is right: Russia IS a geopolitical foe of the US

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 9, 2012


After Obama made his promise to the Russians that he would sell America out on missile defense and other issues after the November election, which he’s arrogantly confident of winning, Mitt Romney criticized him for that, saying, quite rightly, that Obama should not be offering concessions to America’s “Number One geopolitical foe”.

As soon as he said that, pro-appeasement figures in DC, in and out of government, went furious and accused Romney of clinging to Cold War stereotypes and trying to start another Cold War. Russian President Dmitry Medvedev also reacted sharply, making the same claims. (Russia has officially endorsed Obama, knowing that he’s a softie whom the Russians can push around and force to make unilateral concessions.) State Secretary Hillary Clinton claimed that Romney had “dated information” and that he doesn’t know what the US and Russia agree on and what they disagree on.

But Romney is right. While Russia is not strictly America’s #1 geopolitical foe (that dubious distinction belongs to China, whose rise is the biggest challenge to America), Russia is indeed a hostile state, based on it actions, not Medvedev’s pretty words.

Russia supplies anti-American regimes around the world with weapons, a shield from sanctions at the UN Security Council, and oftentimes, nuclear reactors and nuclear fuel. It supports the Communist regimes in Cuba and Venezuela (and supplies the latter with tons of modern weapons, including SAMs, fighters, and rifles). It shields North Korea and Iran from serious sanctions at the UNSC and supplies the latter with nuclear reactors and fuel (which Iran is using to produce nuclear weapons). Indeed, if Russia hadn’t done that, there would’ve been NO Iranian nuclear crisis today. It also sells weapons to Tehran, as it does to Syria (where those weapons are used to slaughter civilians), whom it also shields at the UNSC from accountability with its veto.

Russia, which has perpetrated aggression against one of its neighbors (Georgia) in recent years, still maintains troops on its territory (as defined by its internationally-recognized borders) is now waging an arms race against the US, fueled by very high oil and gas prices ($110/bbl, higher than ever since the 1970s). It plans to acquire, among other things, 400 new ICBMs, 8 new SSBNs, and hundreds of modern fighterplanes and 200 Su-34 fighter-bombers in the next decade, and will spend $770 bn in total on new weapons for its military (which it can afford due to high oil prices). Vladimir Putin says explicitly that this buildup is aimed at catching up with the US. Russia already possesses strategic nuclear parity with the US and a huge lead in tactical nuclear weapons. It is threatening to withdraw from the New START treaty and to deploy nuclear weapons on its western and southern borders if the US deploys any missile defense system in Europe. It has threatened to nuke Poland “as a first priority” if it allows the US to deploy missile defense systems on its soil, and in 2007 threatened to aim its nuclear-armed missiles at all European countries if any American BMD systems were deployed in Europe.

And contrary to Russia’s lies that these systems would undermine its nuclear deterrent, 10 interceptors would hardly be a threat to Russia’s arsenal of hundreds of ICBMs, SLBMs, bombers, and bomber-launched cruise missiles. What Russia really opposes is an alliance between Central European countries (such as Poland and the Czech Republic), which were freed from Moscow’s yoke only 2 decades ago, with Washington. As LTG Henry “Trey” Obering, a former Director of the MDA said in 2008, Russia did not actually raise any objections to missile defense in Europe in talks with the US until Washington revealed plans to deploy them specifically in Poland and the CR. It did not object at the time to placing a radar in Britain. Russia knows that missile defense poses no threat to its nuclear deterrent and is lying through its teeth; it merely opposes Poland’s and CR’s free choices, as sovereign countries, to ally themselves with whomever they choose. (In the 1990s, Moscow tried its best to keep these countries out of NATO.) Before these countries came under Moscow’s yoke in 1945, half of Poland was overrun by the Soviets in 1939 (and the USSR never gave back the territory it occupied) and 50 thousand of its officers were murdered in Katyn, and before that, Poland was attacked by them in 1920 but defended itself. Before that, for 123 years from 1795 to 1918, there wasn’t even a Polish state because of the partitions of Poland that occurred in the late 18th century, with Tsarist Russia being the principal partitionary power. So Warsaw and Prague have good reasons to be afraid of Russia.

Threats, subjugation, blackmail, and in Georgia’s case, aggression are the methods Russia uses to conduct is foreign policy.

And don’t get me started on its human rights record. Just ask the families of Alexander Litvinenko and Anna Politkovskaya or Mikhail Khodorkovsky’s lawyer Vadim Klyuvgant for opinion on that.

Or, as Russian affairs expert Kim Zigfeld writes:

“To his great credit, Republican challenger Mitt Romney confronted Obama directly over his outrageous policy of appeasement towards Russia.  He expressed alarm that Obama was “looking for greater flexibility where he doesn’t have to answer to the American people in his relations with Russia” and reminded Obama that Russia is “without question our No. 1 geopolitical foe. They fight every cause for the world’s worst actor. The idea that he has more flexibility in mind for Russia is very, very troubling indeed.”

That’s dead right.  Russia has deluged Syria with powerful weaponry that has been used to carry out mass murder against women and children, and it has stood by Syria in all this against a tide of world opinion.  Russia supported Egyptian dictatorship; it supports Iran; it supports Cuba and Venezuela.  It supports American enemies wherever it finds them around the world, and that should surprise nobody.

Russia is ruled by a proud KGB spy who spent his entire life learning how to hate and destroy America and her values.  To suggest that Putin would somehow magically decide to throw away his life’s work just because the USSR collapsed is fanciful nonsense.”

It’s fanciful, indeed. It’s a delusion, but for many people, their delusions are “truths”. Medvedev himself has accused Romney of 70s’-style talk and a “Cold War mentality”, but it is Russia that actually uses Cold War language about the US, and judged by its behavior, Russia is indeed behaving like the Soviet Union – aggressively, unfriendly, and unhelpfully – towards the US. Romney is merely stating the facts. (But, as usual, stating the facts can get you into trouble.)

Even Afghanistan and the Northern Distribution Network is no proof of Russian “cooperation” or friendliness. Defeating Islamists in Afghanistan (and more broadly, Central Asia) is in Russia’s interests moreso than in America’s, because Russia is in close proximity to it and has troops in countries that neighbor Afghanistan. Islamic terrorism is even more of a threat to Russia than to the US, which is thousands of miles away (although still in danger). Russia did it out of its own selfish interest, not to help the US. And that one action hardly disproves the thesis that Moscow is a foe, or at least a dangerous rival, of America.

So, judged by its actions, Russia IS a geopolitical foe of the US, although not the biggest one – that dubious distinction belongs to China.

Those of us like me and Mitt Romney who are sounding the alarm bells about Russia are the true realists. We base our assessment of Russia based on the real world, on Russia’s ACTIONS.

Those who defend Obama’s failed “reset policy” and continue to advocate appeasement towards Moscow are the ignorant hacks here. They are unrealistic, naive children, dreaming of a pro-American Russia that ceased to exist when Yeltsin left office and will not arise again for decades, if ever.

Mitt Romney is absolutely right to point that Russia is a foe and to criticize Obama. I wish he’d go even further and call Obama’s “reset policy” what it is: a dismal failure that must be ended immediately.

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Rebuttal of sequestration proponents’ claims

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 8, 2012


With less than 9 months remaining before January 2nd, 2013, when the sequester triggered by the failure of the Super Committee will kick in (absent amending Congressional legislation), some politicians have called on the Congress to retain this sequester unchanged and thus to cut defense by an additional $600 bn, thus cutting $1.087 TRILLION out of the defense budget over a decade in total BCA-mandated cuts, and they don’t care about the consequences for defense and thus for national security. Here is libertarian House member Tim Huelskamp (RINO-KS):

“Additionally, though I opposed the Budget Control Act (August 2011 debt deal), we should enforce, and hopefully exceed, the spending cuts agreed to in the mandated sequester.”

Another libertarian Congressman, Justin Amash of Michigan, claims that although he supports a strong defense, “There is much room to cut defense spending.” No, Congressman, there isn’t, and if you REALLY supported a strong defense, you wouldn’t be supporting massive cuts to defense. You can’t have it both ways. Either you support it without any qualifiers or you don’t and you support the massive cuts that you endorse.

Liberal Republican Congresscritter John Campbell (RINO-CA) also supports the sequester:

“A minority of Republicans including California Representative John Campbell say the automatic cuts should be allowed to take effect without any changes, including the defense cuts many of his colleagues and the Pentagon say would be devastating.

“There’s a lot of waste in defense and I think we should be cutting it out,” Campbell said.”

No, there isn’t a lot of waste in defense, and certainly not $100 bn per year. Not even close.

There is some waste, and it should be eliminated (and remember, I’m the author of the largest DOD reform proposals package ever devised), but there isn’t nearly as much as $100 bn per year (which is what the sequester and First Tier BCA-mandated reductions would cut out)!

The sequester, if allowed to proceed, would cut defense spending WAY too deeply (on top of all the defense cuts already implemented and scheduled, including the $487 bn in defense cuts unveiled by Panetta in January): by $600 bn. In total, the cuts would amount to $1.087 trillion over a decade, not counting the savings resulting from withdrawal from Afghanistan. Such deep cuts would gut the military. As a consequence of them, the DOD would have to, inter alia:

  • Cancel the F-35 program completely without replacement, and thus betray foreign program partners
  • Eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad completely while cutting the bomber fleet by 2/3 and cancelling the bomber replacement program
  • Delay the SSBN replacement program
  • Cancel all except the most basic upgrades for F-15s and F-16s while cutting the fighter fleet by 35%
  • Cut the USN’s ship fleet to 230 vessels, the smallest size since 1915, and vastly inadequate (independent studies say the Navy needs 346 ships)
  • Forego the deployment of any missile defense system abroad
  • Cut the Army to its smallest size since 1940
  • Cancel virtually all Army modernization programs
  • Cut the Marines down to just 145,000 personnel
  • Cut personnel benefits programs to such depth that it would break faith with them (e.g. massive cuts in DOD health programs and retirement benefits), thus discouraging people from joining the military or reenlisting

As testified by Obama’s own SECDEF, as well as all Joint Chiefs, lower-ranking generals, and other DOD officials, and as confirmed by many independent analysts and retired officers, sequestration would completely gut the military. For JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, sequestration would produce “the definition of a hollow force”. For LTG Mills of the Marine Corps, “sequestration would break faith with those defending America.”

The HASC has come to similar conclusions and also warns that most of the damage that would be done to defense would be irreversible. For example, if you cancel a shipbuilding program that a shipyard relies on, the shipyard will have to close and be liquidated and will not be there to reopen when you’re finally ready to start buying ships again.

Moreover, first tier BCA-mandated budget cuts plus sequestration ($108.7 bn a year on average) plus zeroing out OCO spending (as a result of the inevitable US withdrawal from Afghanistan, $88.5 bn per year on average) means cutting the military budget by a total 32.11% – much deeper than the cuts made after the Vietnam War (26%) and almost as deep as the cuts that followed the Cold War (34%-35%). Now think about it, Dear Reader: we now know that the post-Vietnam and post-Cold-War defense cuts WRECKED the military. So how can we honest expect this round of defense cuts NOT to gut the military? We can’t. Simple math alone should tell you that, even if you don’t believe Obama’s own SECDEF, Deputy SECDEF, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as many lower-ranking generals, retired military officers, and independent analysts.

Speaking of the Joint Chiefs, there are only three possibilities:

1) That all of the Joint Chiefs are deliberately lying to scaremonger the Congress and the American people;

2) That all of the Joint Chiefs are ignorant guys who don’t know what they’re talking about; or

3) That Panetta, Carter, and the Joint Chiefs are right about sequestration.

I’ll leave it to you, Dear Readers, to judge for yourself which it is.

Furthermore, not only would sequestration gut defense, it would be extremely unjust. The DOD would be punished for CONGRESS’ FAILURE to design a fiscally responsible federal budget; and even though its entire budget accounts for just 19% of federal spending, and the core defense budget (which would be the portion hit with the sequester’s cuts) accounts for less than 15%. Yet, this 15% portion of the federal budget would bear a full 50% of sequestration’s cuts. This would be deeply unjust and disproportionate, in addition to gutting the military.

Huelskamp opposes entitlement reform and ridiculously claims that:

“Discretionary is the only thing we usually handle around here. To suggest we should undo discretionary cuts that are guaranteed in law in exchange for savings that may or may not occur” isn’t a solution to the spending issues facing Congress.”

But half of these “guaranteed” discretionary spending cuts would gut defense and thus imperil the country, and gutting defense with such deep cuts because this would cut spending somewhat and is “guaranteed” to happen is deeply irresponsible and downright treasonous.

The budget can be cut, and even balanced, without defense spending cuts, let alones ones as deep as this one, as the Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have shown. (Their plans would both deeply cut overall federal spending and balance the budget within a decade without cutting defense at all.)

Entitlement reform does not mean “savings that may or may occur”; it means real spending cuts, in the (by far) largest portion of the federal budget, 63% of the total, and as consequences, it means BIG spending cuts – far bigger savings than defense sequestration would ever produce. The Ryan Plan would enact real spending cuts in its first year and, over a decade, save taxpayers over 3 times more money through alternative cuts than the sequester would.

To sum up, defense spending sequestration would completely gut the military and thus imperil the country; would be deeply unjust (punishing the DOD for Congressional failure); would be disproportionate; is not necessary to reduce the deficit or balance the budget; and would save much less money than conservative plans that don’t cut defense spending (such as the RSC’s and the Heritage Foundation’s plans) would save.

Let me be clear: there is some waste in the defense budget, and I am not defending it; I support rooting it out. But there is far less of it than defense’s opponents claim, and certainly not as much as $100 bn per year. Moreover, any wasteful DOD programs need to be eliminated carefully in a targeted manner, specifically, one by one, and not used as excuses for deep, crippling defense budget cuts.

And anyone who claims there is as much as $100 bn per year worth of waste in defense spending needs to be forced to say what exact programs he claims are waste, list them all, prove that they cost $100 bn per year, and say why he thinks they are “wasteful” and how would he defend the Nation without them. The burden of proof is on the claimant.

And, as Ronald Reagan said, anyone who proposes to cut defense spending must be forced to say which defense programs the Nation can do without, why, and how it would protect itself without them.

In short, the Congress MUST protect defense from sequestration by stopping it completely.

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Paul Ryan is right; the generals are wrong; or “how dare you question Obama’s infallible generals”!

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 7, 2012


Recently, House Republicans, led by Paul Ryan, decided to stop Obama’s process of gutting America’s defense, reject his pseudo-strategy, and pass a budget that adequately funds defense – adequately according to their and their advisors’ judgment, not that of Obama and his penny-pinchers in the Pentagon.

When asked by defense cuts’ supporters why he wants to provide more funding to the DOD than the DOD itself and the Joint Chiefs request, he replied, “I don’t think the generals are giving us their true advice.”

When he said that, the Democrats, other defense cuts’ supporters, and the media went ballistic, claiming that Ryan had called the generals “liars” and had insulted them, and calling on him to apologize. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey himself took umbrage at those words, while still claiming that the DOD developed a strategy first and a budget second when everyone knows it’s not true:

“[Ryan was] calling us, collectively, liars. (…) I stand by my testimony. This was very much a strategy-driven process to which we mapped the budget.”

But Paul Ryan and other pro-defense Republicans is right, and their critics are dead wrong, for the following reasons.

Firstly, we know that Obama has a habit of pressuring senior generals to change their testimonies to suit their agenda. Just ask 4-star General William Shelton, the commander of USAF’s Space Command, who says Obama pressured him to do just that.

It is quite conceivable that the Joint Chiefs were also pressured to testify, wrongly, that the $487 bn in defense cuts ordered by Obama is survivable.

General Dempsey himself, before he was confirmed, testified that deep defense cuts would weaken defense, that “national security” spending did not cause the deficit problem and that cutting it will not solve it.

More recently, he said, quite correctly, that sequestration of defense spending (the second round of BCA-ordered cuts, totalling another $600 bn) would mean “we would no longer be a global power”. Today, under obvious pressure from the White House and other defense cuts supporters, he claims he was misunderstood and that he only meant that “we wouldn’t be the global power that we know ourselves to be today.”

No, General, that’s not what you originally said. That’s what the White House now tells you to say. I’m sure that if the White House told you “say that the sequester would be harmless”, you would be saying exactly that.

While I wouldn’t call the generals liars or fools, this is not the first time that someone has coached witnesses to deliver a favorable testimony.

Secondly, no matter how hard the generals and civilian DOD bureaucrats may insist to the contrary, the FACT is that Obama’s defense budget cuts mandate drove the pseudo-strategy the DOD issued in January, not the other way around. Obama demanded deep defense cuts, and the DOD had to produce a “strategy” to fit these cuts. That’s what happened, despite the generals’ and civilian bureaucrats’ pretensions to the contrary.

Obama demanded $400 bn in defense cuts on April 13th, 2011, during a budget issues speech at the GWU – long before there even was any talk of a debt ceiling deal. At the time, even his own SECDEF, Robert Gates, was surprised of the defense cuts mandate, and the DOD had to start working out how to implement them. Then, on August 1st, Obama negotiated a debt ceiling deal that mandated $487 bn in cuts from “security spending”, which Obama slapped exclusively on the DOD.

Only later was there any talk of a “strategy” to fit these cuts. Before April 2011, the DOD was not working on any “strategy” and was hoping that the cuts of January 2011 would be the last. Indeed, Gates himself cautioned against any further, let alone deep, additional defense cuts repeatedly, both in DOD briefings and Congressional testimonies. Yet, in April 2011, Obama slapped a $400 bn defense cuts mandate on him and the DOD.

Even if someone claims “the DOD knew for a long time that more budget cuts would be coming”, that doesn’t help them. In fact, it only proves my point. Budget cut mandates came first; the strategy came only later. Thus, the National Journal lied when it claimed

“Ryan’s frank rebuke of the generals came as he repeated an oft-heard Republican complaint: that the fiscal 2013 defense request (…) was not “strategy-driven,” but rather was based on an artificial spending cap imposed by the White House.”

That is not a mere “oft-heard Republican complaint”, that is a FACT. The FY2013 defense budget proposal was NOT strategy driven. It was based on an artificial spending cap that Obama instituted as early as April 2011 – long before there was any “strategy”!

And the DOD’s genuine strategy from just 2 years ago (when budget circumstances were even worse), the 2010 QDR, is quite different from this pseudostrategy. It called for a much larger and more capable military than this pseudostrategy calls for. Did the world become much safer in the last 2 years? No. Obama decided to cut defense even more deeply.

Thirdly, can’t we see it for ourselves that Obama’s new defense cuts would severely weaken the military? They include, inter alia, scrapping one third of the cruiser fleet (the 7 youngest cruisers), retiring 2 amphibious ships and many other vessels, eliminating 7 fighter squadrons, cutting funding for bombers by 40%, eliminating many crucial weapon development programs (including lasers, other directed energy weapons, and railguns), delaying many other crucial weapon programs (including the next-gen cruise missile) and procurements (including SSNs and SSBNs), cutting the shipbuilding plan by 16 vessels, cutting the already-underfunded nuclear-weapon-modernization program by 15%, and cutting 27 strategic and 65 tactical airlifters when the USAF already has too few of them. Anyone with half a brain should understand that this will weaken the military.

Fourthly, the generals are humans, not gods. They are not infallible – no more than I am or you are. As mere humans, they are just as prone to grave error – including a severe error of judgment – as everyone else. It’s time to stop fetishizing generals.

Lastly and most importantly, determining what’s necessary to defend America, and providing the necessary resources, is NOT the generals or the DOD’s job. It’s Congress’ job. The Congress is supposed to make America’s defense policy, and the generals, along with DOD civilians, are supposed to merely execute it. In other words, the Congress makes policy, and the generals are to obey.

The US Constitution vests the prerogatives to “provide for the common defense (…) of the United States”, “to raise and support Armies”, “to provide and maintain a Navy”, to make laws for governing the Armed Forces, to summon and discipline the Militia, to declare war, to punish piracies and felonies on the high seas, and to make appropriations SOLELY in the Congress. The Constitution gives Congress, and ONLY the Congress, the prerogative to make America’s defense policy – to determine both defense budgets AND programs and the force structure (along with bases, deployments, wars, and the UCMJ).

Of course, to make informed decisions, it needs the advice from many sources – and that includes not only serving generals, but also former military officers, independent analysts and study panels (such as the Hadley-Perry Panel), Congressional advisors/analysts, the CRS, and others.

But Congress is supposed to rely, above all, on its own knowledge and sound judgment (if it’s capable of rendering any – and it’s supposed to be). It should NOT fetishize generals and DOD bureaucrats, nor is it supposed to defer to them, let alone to President Obama. It must rely primarily on its own judgment and knowledge, for it, not the generals, is to make defense policy decisions (and take responsibility for them).

This entire  argument has four root causes. One is the understandable, but wrong deference to generals on defense policy caused by the fetish of generals. The second one is the overall worship of supposed “experts” (generals on defense policy, the SCOTUS on the Constitution, the IPCC on “global warming” – remember how skeptics like Jim Inhofe were treated when they questioned the saintly IPCC?) that Americans have been forced to perform since their primary school days. People are taught to blindly listen to “experts” and never question them; if you do, you’re condemned universally. Thirdly, decades ago, the Congress ceded its Constitutional prerogatives on defense policy to the Executive Branch long ago.

And fourthly, as schoolchildren and adults, members of Congress, like all Americans, were constantly taught and told NOT to think for themselves, to rely on others for judgment, and to defer on others on various issues. Such indoctrination not to think independently has caused most of them to be unable, or afraid, to render independent judgment.

And this needs to be corrected. Members of Congress are supposed to think for themselves, not defer to others.

Paul Ryan and HASC Republicans have shown they are capable of doing that. For that, they should be praised, not pilloried.

http://nationaljournal.com/nationalsecurity/paul-ryan-accuses-generals-of-budget-dishonesty-20120329

Posted in Military issues, Transport | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

What’s their problem with the Ryan Plan?

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on April 6, 2012


As soon as Paul Ryan unveiled his budget plan, the Path to Prosperity, he was vitriolically attacked not just by the Left but also by the putative right, specifically, by self-proclaimed “conservatives” who are conservative only on fiscal issues and would be happy to see defense gutted (and they’re neutral on social issues).

They include the Club For Growth (which urged Republicans to vote against the Ryan Plan), FreedomWorks, and 10 Republican Congressmen, 2 of whom sit on the House Budget Committee and voted against it, thus helping the Left almost defeat it.

What’s their problem with the Ryan Plan?

They don’t like it because:

  • It saves defense from sequestration; and
  • It doesn’t cut spending deeply and quickly enough.

The Club For Growth insists that full sequestration of defense spending proceed and that it remain completely unchanged. FreedomWorks’ Dean Clancy is more mild in his criticism, saying:

“Now for the bad parts.

Like last year’s Ryan budget, the new version takes Social Security and defense off the spending-cut table. These two programs together equal 40 percent of the budget.”

But that is untrue.

The Ryan Plan does NOT take defense off the spending-cuts table. It leaves the first tier of defense spending cuts ($487 bn) ordered by the Budget Control Act (the 2011 debt ceiling deal) in place. Defense spending would not be taken off the table, merely be saved from sequestration (the second tier of the BCA’s defense cuts).

Lumping defense and the SS program together is ridiculous and it obscures more than it reveals. Defense alone amounts to just 19% of the total federal budget, and the core defense budget amounts to less than 15%. But under sequestration, this 15% portion of the total federal budget (OCO/war spending would be spared from the cuts) would shoulder a full 50% of the total cuts that sequestration would make.

The Ryan Plan would therefore shield defense only from sequestration, not from First Tier BCA cuts.

But fiscal hawks object to even that. They want defense to be subjected to a full sequestration on top of all the budget cuts imposed on defense by the Obama Admin and the Congress during the last 3 years.

Why?

Because they specifically want defense to be cut so deeply and gutted. They categorically oppose a strong defense and the full funding it needs, and they don’t believe that defense is any more important or worthy than other government programs. For them, it’s just another black hole, just another waste of money, and an even easier target to attack than other government programs; hence, they single it out for such disproportionate attacks.

And it doesn’t matter to them that the Ryan Plan would, in lieu of defense spending sequestration, cut other federal spending by an amount 3 times larger than the sequester’s cuts. What they want is specifically the sequestration of defense.

And it also doesn’t matter to them that defense, unlike other government programs, is not only Constitutionally legitimate but also is the #1 Constitutional duty of the federal government (as made clear by the Constitution’s Preamble, its listing of Congress’ Enumerated Powers /more than half of them pertain to military matters/, and by Sec. 4 of its IV Article) and was deemed a statesman’s highest duty by the Founding Fathers.

So they vitriolically attack Paul Ryan and his plan because it saves defense from the sequestration disaster* (while substituting nondefense spending cuts that are 3 times deeper).

Gosh! Saving defense, the #1 Constitutional function of the federal government, from draconian and disproportionate cuts, and thus fulfilling the Constitutional duty to provide for a strong defense, while saving taxpayers 3 times more money than the sequester would save them! What a liberal heresy! Only a Big Government Liberal could come up with something like that!

Oh, wait, providing for a strong defense is an irremovable part of conservative philosophy. Try “Only a Constitutional Conservative could come up with something like that!”

Their second objection is that the Ryan Plan doesn’t cut spending quickly enough. Granted, it doesn’t, by my taste, and its author could’ve done better. But there is no perfect budget plan, the supposed alternatives are not much better, and the Ryan Plan is still a great one that actually cuts spending deeper than you’ve been told.

Per Peter Ferrara:

“even under CBO’s static scoring, the federal deficit in actual nominal dollars would be reduced to $182 billion by 2017, the fifth year of the budget. That compares to $1,327 billion, or $1.327 trillion, today. So in just five years, even under CBO’s static scoring, the deficit is reduced by 86 percent. The deficit is less than 1 percent of GDP by that year, at 0.9 percent, where it stabilizes for 6 years to the end of the 10-year budget window.

Given the sharp income tax rate cuts in Ryan’s budget, with dynamic scoring the budget would probably be balanced by that fifth year, 2017.”

It also pays off the entire debt by 2050 under static scoring, and a lot sooner under dynamic scoring. It also replaces the current tax code with just two income tax brackets, 10% and 25%, while ending the AMT and the death tax. Ferrara explains why Ryan’s methodical approach is the right one:

“You can’t discount these longer term projections as meaningless, for two reasons. First, that is how the crisis is defined, by projecting current debt trends long term. You can’t define the problem as long-term federal debt projections, and then disdain a long-term solution that transforms those long-term projections. Secondly, the solution is careful, long-term, structural entitlement reform that produces enormous changes over the long run. Under those careful Ryan entitlement reforms, no one gets hurt, contrary to the hysterics of the infantile left (…). To discount the long-term effects of those careful structural reforms as too far into the future to take seriously is to deny the possibility and opportunity of such fundamental, structural long-term reforms that are politically viable, to embrace draconian, preemptory, entitlement cuts that would be validly subject to the hysterics of infants.”

While I don’t at all agree that deeper cuts would be draconian, it would be hard to get the Congress to pass them.

So the American people have two paths to choose.

One is to do what the C4G, FreedomWorks, the COGC, and the Paulbots want to do: cut everything deeply, without looking at what you’re cutting, or even worse, cutting defense disproportionately deeply, thus gutting defense and still failing to come up with enough savings to balance the budget.

The other is to do what Chairman Ryan proposes: saving defense from sequestration, funding it adequately, cutting everything else, reforming entitlements and the tax code (to spur economic growth), and thus balancing the budget (under dynamic scoring) within a decade and paying off the entire public debt by 2050.

Which path do you think is better, folks?

Footnote:

*If you don’t believe that sequestration would totally gut defense, listen to Obama’s own Joint Chiefs and his own SECDEF.

For CJCS General Martin Dempsey, sequestration wouldn’t just lead to a hollow force, it’d be THE DEFINITION of a hollow force.

During a hearing before the HASC, USMC Commandant General James Amos said that if sequestration went through and personnel spending were excluded from it, “that would be the recipe for a hollow force.” (at ca. 0:37:00 in the video) Those are his words, not mine.

General Dempsey and General Amos are hardly alone in voicing such an opinion. They’ve been joined by all other Joint Chiefs, as well as Service Vice Chiefs.

During another hearing before the HASC, Marine LTG Mills testified that cuts to the extent that sequestration would require “would break faith with those Marines [who are defending America]“.

The sequester, if it were allowed to go through, would force the DOD to cut every budget item equally by a whopping 23%, and its total core budget also by 23%. It would thus wreck the military, because you can’t buy three-fourths of a ship or of a building. Secretary Panetta says that under sequestration, he would have to, inter alia:

  • Cancel the F-35 program completely without replacement, and thus betray foreign program partners
  • Eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad completely while cutting the bomber fleet by 2/3 and cancelling the bomber replacement program
  • Delay the SSBN replacement program
  • Cancel all except the most basic upgrades for F-15s and F-16s while cutting the fighter fleet by 35%
  • Cut the USN’s ship fleet to 230 vessels, the smallest size since 1915
  • Forego the deployment of any missile defense system abroad
  • Cut the Army to its smallest size since 1940
  • Cancel virtually all Army modernization programs
  • Cut the Marines down to just 145,000 personnel
  • Cut personnel benefits programs to such depth that it would break faith with them (e.g. massive cuts in DOD health programs)

Posted in Military issues, World affairs | Leave a Comment »

 
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