Zbigniew Mazurak's Blog

A blog dedicated to defense issues

Rebuttal of Mick Mulvaney’s and Keith Ellison’s lies

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on February 1, 2013


In an op-ed published on January 3rd in the extremely liberal Huffington Post, RINO Congressman Mick Mulvaney (RINO-SC) and extremely liberal Congressman Keith Ellison (D-MN) made a number of false claims and a few straw man arguments while promoting their campaign to gut America’s defense together with leftist think-tanks. (Their false claims, previously made in a letter to Congressional leadership, have been refuted here.)

They begin their op-ed by claiming that defense spending must contribute to deficit reduction because it has grown by 1/3 since FY2001. But that’s a straw man argument. Defense spending, in case they haven’t noticed, has already contributed mightily to deficit reduction: to the tune of over $900 bn since FY2010 alone. This included over 50 weapon program terminations in FY2010 and FY2011 (saving $330 bn), cutting the US nuclear arsenal unilaterally under New START (which allows Russia to grow its arsenal), the $178 bn Gates Efficiencies Initiative (upheld by Leon Panetta) and the $487 bn in savings required by the first tier of the Budget Control Act – savings which Sec. Panetta has found and programmed.

By the way, successive SECDEFs and other DOD leaders have repeatedly asked, indeed begged, Congress for authorization to address the REAL cost drivers in the defense budget – military healthcare and retirement programs – and to retire obsolete/niche aircraft (e.g. C-23s, C-27s, and the oldest F-16s, A-10s, and C-130s) and close unneeded bases (Leon Panetta has requested authorization for TWO base closure rounds). Congressional consent is needed for all of these reforms (and for virtually everything else).

Yet, the Congress has repeatedly and consistently refused to authorize ANY of these reforms for purely parochial reasons.

Thus, members of Congress, including Reps. Mulvaney and Ellison, should stop blaming the DOD and look at themselves. THEY are to blame – not the DOD.

But even if such reforms were authorized, the savings would not be nearly big enough to justify deep defense budget cuts. Yet, Mulvaney and Ellison falsely claim that such savage, deep defense spending cuts are possible without harming the US military, even though that is a blatant lie. There is some waste in the defense budget, but not enough of it to make deep defense budget cuts, contrary to what the supporters of such cuts (all of whom are strident liberals) falsely claim. Any deep cuts would have to come from the force structure (which has already been cut excessively), training, maintenance, and modernization (i.e. the development and procurement of new, badly needed equipment, as well as the modernization of existing gear).

Mulvaney and Ellison blatantly lie in their op-ed that “respected policy organizations from across the political spectrum, such as the CATO Institute, the Project on Government Oversight, Taxpayers for Common Sense, the National Taxpayers Union, and the Project on Defense Alternatives” have come up with ways to “responsibly” achieve “$550 bn in defense savings over a decade”, and that the cuts proposed by these organizations would not weaken the US military at all.

But the fact is that the cuts proposed by these leftist organizations would gravely weaken the US military. That is not an opinion. That is a FACT.

Moreover, the cuts proposed by these leftist organizations seem to be deliberately designed to cripple America’s armed forces.

I have already refuted the proposals of all of these organizations here, here, here, here, here, and here. A very detailed analysis of Russia’s and China’s military capabilities is available here. In this article, I’ll refute a few of their destructive proposals to illustrate how badly their treasonous defense cuts proposals would cripple the US military.

All of these leftist organizations propose to dramatically cut America’s nuclear deterrent, even though it has already been dramatically reduced since the end of the Cold War (from over 20,000 to just 5,000 warheads) and is in urgent need of modernization, and even though Russia, China, and North Korea are rapidly GROWING their nuclear arsenals. Russia alone has 2,800 strategic and untold thousands (up to 4,000) of tactical nuclear warheads, all of which are deliverable: Russia has 434 ICBMs (most of them being multiple-warhead missiles), over 250 strategic bombers (Tu-95s, Tu-160s, Tu-22Ms), and 13 ballistic missile subs (with 200-220 missiles, each capable of carrying varying numbers of warheads) to deliver its strategic nukes, and untold thousands of tactical delivery systems (such as warships, aircraft, and artillery pieces) to deliver its tactical warheads (which range from bombs to nuclear depth charges to nuclear artillery shells).

Dramatically cutting the US nuclear arsenal or failing to modernize it – as CATO, the PDA, the NTU, POGO, and TCS all propose to do – would be worse than an utter folly. It would be suicidal, inviting a Russian or possibly even Chinese nuclear first strike on the US. This is for two reasons. Firstly, to be survivable, a nuclear arsenal has to be large, especially if the enemy’s arsenal is also large. A few hundred ICBMs, a few SSBNs, and a few bomber bases would be quite easy for the enemy to take out. Secondly, only a large arsenal can threaten the majority of Russia’s and China’s military assets (the things they really care about) and thus threaten CREDIBLE retaliation upon Russia or China in case of aggression. A small arsenal could only threaten population centers – which Russian and Chinese leaders don’t care about – and would thus not be credible at all. “Minimum deterrence” is no deterrence at all. Contrary to CATO’s and PDA’s false claims, the US nuclear arsenal is not oversized at all, and the US does not have any “overkill” in that regard.

All of these leftist organizations also propose to cut the SSBN fleet down to just 7-8 boats, meaning that only 3-4 at most would be at sea at any time; to cancel the overdue construction of new nuclear facilities to replace old, dilapidated ones; and to cancel the Next Generation Bomber.

The Next Generation Bomber is absolutely and urgently needed, and the need for it has been proven many times already (vide e.g. here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here), and reaffirmed numerous times by successive Defense Secretaries (Rumsfeld, Gates, Panetta), USAF Chiefs of Staff (Moseley, Schwartz, Welsh), other USAF leaders, and by Air Force Secretary Michael Donley.

Why is it needed, when B-1s and B-52s have decades of service life left? These legacy bombers have huge radar signatures, meaning they are extremely easy even for legacy Soviet radars (let alone modern Russian and Chinese air defense systems such as the S-300, S-400, S-500, and HQ-9) to detect and for enemy SAMs to shoot down from a long range. Any airspace defended by even primitive 1960s Soviet systems, such as the SA-2/3/4/5/6, let alone the newest Russian and Chinese air defense systems, is thus firmly closed to the B-1 and the B-52.

And that makes these legacy bombers completely useless, because a bomber’s sole purpose is to penetrate enemy airspace and deliver bombs to its targets. If it cannot do so for any reason whatsoever – e.g. being unable to penetrate enemy airspace due to a large radar sig and thus high risk of getting shot down – such aircraft is useless. Launching cruise missiles is no solution: cruise missiles have small bodies and small warheads and thus can strike only small, soft, unhardened, static targets. And due to their cost, they are useful only for short, scope-limited campaigns.

Today, the USAF’s only bombers capable of surviving in enemy airspace are its 20 B-2s (which POGO opposed, BTW) – and 20 bombers are nowhere near enough to defeat anyone but the most trivial adversary.

Thus, the NGB is urgently needed – NOW.

PDA and CATO also propose to dramatically cut the Navy’s size, to just 230 ships and 8-9 carrier groups. Similarly deep cuts would fall on submarine, surface combatant, amphibious assault, and landing dock ships. PDA and CATO would also dramatically cut the procurement of Virginia class submarines (which are needed to replace noisy LA class subs) and P-8 Poseidon aircraft. This would make the Navy unable to meet many of the missions it currently has to meet. The Navy is already able to supply only 59% of Combatant Commanders’ requests for ships and only 61% of their needs for submarines. With the cuts that PDA and CATO propose, the Navy would be able to meet even fewer of COCOMs’ needs – probably less than half. In other words, the majority of Combatant Commanders’ needs would go unmet. National security would suffer as a result – because the missions required to keep America safe would not be executed.

A ship, no matter how advanced technologically, can be in only one place at any given time. Yet, the world hasn’t shrunk since the 1980s, the world’s sealanes – which must be safeguarded – are long, the Persian Gulf remains volative, China cannot be allowed to turn the WESTPAC into an internal Chinese lake, and thus, the Navy has many commitments around the world which it must meet.

I could go on and on like this all day. PDA, CATO, POGO, TCS, and the NTU demand deep, crippling defense cuts across the board: in the ground force, in the fighter fleet, in support aircraft (such as the wrongly-maligned V-22) in crucial weapon programs across the board, in missile defense, etc. 

The fact is that, contrary to the pious denials of those RINO and Democrat Congressmen, the massive defense cuts proposals of these think-tanks would severely weaken the US military and imperil national security for the reasons stated above. So despite their pious denials, national security would be severely compromised and harmed.

In short, for all of the reasons listed here and the linked articles, their defense cuts proposals would gravely weaken the US military and put US national security at risk – despite their, Mulvaney’s, and Ellison’s pious denials. Mulvaney and Ellison falsely claim that they wouldn’t embark on this cause if it would lead to weakening America’s defense – but this is precisely what their campaign and those leftist organizations’ deep defense cuts would lead to. If they don’t know it, they should stop pontificating about issues they know nothing about.

(And does anyone really believe that strident liberals like Keith Ellison give two hoots about America’s defense?)

By the way, those “policy organizations” are not “from across the political spectrum”. Only the NTU could be said to be on the political right. CATO, the Massachusetts-based (and Barney-Frank-supported) PDA, POGO, and TCS are from the far left.

CATO was founded by anarcho-libertarian Murray Rothbard, who opposed any form of government whatsoever (i.e. favored anarchy), opposed having any military whatsoever, considered the US military to be a tool of internal oppression, blamed the Cold War solely on the US (while claiming Moscow was merely the aggrieved side), supported Islamofascists over Israel, and hailed Nikita Khrushchev during his visit to the US.

Today, CATO’s VP for “foreign and defense studies” is Chris Preble, a guy who thinks America’s military power is a problem to be eliminated and a thing that makes America less safe – i.e. he accepts the discredited liberal thesis that military strength is dangerous and provocative. (He has written a book titled The Power Problem: How America’s Military Power Makes Us Less Safe, Less Prosperous, and Less Free).

CATO and POGO are co-funded by George Soros and his Open Society Institute.

POGO was founded in 1981 to oppose and to stop Ronald Reagan’s attempt to rebuild the US military after 12 years of massive, disastrous defense cuts. They have opposed every crucial weapon system the US has developed or fielded since 1981, most of which have performed brilliantly – such as the M1 Abrams tank, the M2 Bradley IFV, Ground-Launched Cruise Missiles (put in Europe in 1983 to deter the USSR), the F-15, the B-2 bomber, the V-22, the F-22, and so forth.

The Massachusetts-based “Project on Defense Alternatives” is supported by the House’s most strident liberals, such as Barney Frank, and like POGO, TCS, and CATO, sits on the far left fringe of the US political spectrum.

Mulvaney and Ellison falsely claim that in the past, lower defense spending levels have provided “more than adequately” for national defense. This is false and, in any case, irrelevant. False, because deep defense cuts have, in the past, always led to severe weakening of the military. This is what happened after the Civil, World, Korean, Vietnam, and Cold Wars: the US proceeded to reap a “peace dividend” which turned out to be illusory, short-lived, economically useless, and deeply damaging to the military, whose force structure, training hours, maintenance funding, and equipment orders were dramatically cut, and as a result, the US military was significantly weakened each time.  And after each of these drawdowns, the US military had to be rebuilt later – at a much greater fiscal cost. So in the long term, these drawdowns and “peace dividends” saved nothing.

The only periods of the Cold War when defense was adequately provided for were the Korean and Vietnam Wars and the Reagan years. During the Reagan years, the base defense budget was significantly LARGER in inflation-adjusted dollars than that of today: $590 bn in FY1987 compared to $525 bn this year.

Yet, in the next breath, Mulvaney and Ellison admonish their readers that past military spending levels are irrelevant to today and that defense spending levels should be determined by military needs and threat assessment, not by past spending levels or percentage of GDP. Thus, they’re contradicting themselves. So which is it, Congressmen? If past defense spending levels are irrelevant, why did you bring them up? By your own admission, they’re irrelevant.

You can’t have it both ways.

Also, what Mulvaney and Ellison fail (or refuse) to acknowledge is that America’s current defense needs are large and require large and sustained investment in the military. They cannot be met on the cheap.

Defense on the cheap is not possible.

Here is an objective, impartial assessment of Russia’s and China’s military capabilities, as well as a short assessment of the North Korean and Iranian threats. To deeply cut America’s defense budget – and to eliminate the platforms, people, weapon programs, and units targeted by CATO, PDA et al., would be worse than pure folly: it would be downright suicidal. Any notion that the US can afford such cuts in the muscle of its military or that potential enemies are many years behind the US is false: Russia and China have already closed most of the gaps with the US military (while creating their own, nontraditional advantages), and are working hard on closing the remaining few gaps.

Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey has testified that the current threat environment is the most dangerous he has seen in his entire military career spanning over 38 years.

In short, Mulvaney’s and Ellison’s claims are all blatant lies or, in a few cases, straw man arguments. Their advocacy of the disastrous defense cuts proposals made by leftist “think tanks” like CATO, PDA, POGO, and TCS is an absolute disqualifier. Not one of their claims are true, and if they don’t know that, they’re mentally deficient.

Shame on them for supporting the defense gutting proposals made by these leftist organizations.

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