Zbigniew Mazurak's Blog

A blog dedicated to defense issues

Posts Tagged ‘defense’

Jack Hunter’s new lies about defense spending

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on November 27, 2011


Ron Paul’s official blogger (and self-described “humble servant”) Jack Hunter, who has been caught lying about defense and foreign policy issues several times before, has not given up and is still spreading lies.

And, as I expected, even the massive defense cuts which the sequester will make (now that it has been triggered) do not satisfy the opponents of a strong defense. They now falsely claim that these will not be cuts at all, merely reductions of the projected rate of growth of defense spending. That is a blatant lie, because defense spending WILL BE CUT in real terms from FY2011 levels WITH OR WITHOUT THE SEQUESTER.

Here’s Hunter’s newest article.

This entire article, just like most of what Hunter writes, is a litany of blatant lies. I’ll respond to only a part of it:

“I stress the word “perceived,” because when it comes to Pentagon spending, too many Republicans still behave exactly like liberal Democrats.”
 Gibberish. What some, if not many, Republicans recognize is that the DOD is NOT responsible for America’s fiscal woes, constitutes just 17% of the total federal budget, and is tasked with the #1 Constitutional function of the federal government: defending America.
“The truth is that we don’t need to spend as much on defense as we’re spending now.”
That is not “the truth”, that is your opinion, and it’s fallacious. My opinion is that the US is spending about the right amount of money on defense.
“We’re spending more on defense than at any time since World War II”
That is a blatant lie. The US is NOT spending more on defense than at any time since WW2. America’s current defense budget amounts to just 3.5% of GDP (defense’s lowest share of America’s GDP since FY1948, excluding the late Clinton years) and less than 15% of the total federal budget (also the smallest share since the late 1940s, this time even INCLUDING the late Clinton years). In real terms, the current defense budget (for FY2012), $513 bn, is vastly SMALLER than the Reagan-era budgets for FY1987 ($606 bn in today’s money), FY1988 ($570 bn), and FY1989 ($573 bn). Even including spending on Iraq and Afghanistan won’t help you, Mr Hunter: the military’s share of the pie then raises to just 4.6% of GDP and 17% of the total federal budget, exceeding Reagan era levels only in raw dollar terms (and only by $24 bn).
“and almost as much as every other nation combined.”
That is also a blatant lie. According to the SIPRI, the US is responsible only for 42.8% of global military spending, COUNTING spending on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the DOE, even if one accepts understated figures for China and Russia.
“Senator Tom Coburn has suggested that if we are going to start cutting, the Pentagon is the most logical place to start precisely because it is the most wasteful.”
Wrong. The DOD is not the most wasteful government department; the DHHS (which manages entitlement programs and pays $180 bn a year to crooks) is. Moreover, the idea that the Congress should start cutting spending by cutting spending on the government’s #1 Constitutional DUTY is both morally repugnant AND wrong AND against the Constitution.
“But even more importantly, these “devastating” automatic cuts that are supposed to happen aren’t really cuts. As Senator Rand Paul explained on CNN the day the super committee failed:

This may surprise some people, but there will be no cuts in military spending because we’re only cutting proposed increases. If we do nothing, military spending goes up 23% over 10 years. If we [make these cuts], it will still go up 16%.”

The only problem with this claim is that it is a blatant lie. Even WITHOUT the sequester, the defense budget will be cut IN REAL TERMS (not just in terms of spending growth) by $17 bn in FY2012 (from $530 bn in FY2011) and further in every fiscal year afterwards. WITH the sequester, the defense budget will be cut by over 20% – a whopping 20% – IN REAL TERMS. The defense budget will NOT see any spending growth for at least the next decade – WITH OR WITHOUT THE SEQUESTER. Meanwhile, GWOT/OCO spending is scheduled to go down in every FY automatically and zero out in FY2015, as US troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan. Proof:

http://armedservices.house.gov/index.cfm/files/serve?File_id=ab5d8376-1144-409f-b7bf-b8f91f66a9fb

Why are Rand Paul and Rush Limbaugh propagating those lies? Paul is a libertarian liar, and Limbaugh is an ignorant radio talk show host. They don’t care about the truth. Yes, El Rushbo, the conservative hero, is in fact an ignorant guy and an abject liar.
“Added Limbaugh:
Defense spending is going up even with sequestration … You understand the current services baseline budgeting, and even you are shocked to realize now that there is no real cut from a baseline of zero in defense spending.
 Again, that is a blatant lie which has utterly discredited Limbaugh. Defense spending will be cut IN REAL TERMS, WITH OR WITHOUT THE SEQUESTER. With the sequester, defense spending will be cut IN REAL TERMS by over 20%. Proof:
“In Graham’s defense, his view on defense spending seems to be the dominant one in the Republican Party today.”
Wrong again. If this was a dominant opinion professed by Republicans, they would not have meekly agreed to the previous 6 rounds of defense cuts nor to the debt ceiling deal which created the sequester in the first place. On Tuesday night’s debate, only two candidates condemned the cuts the sequester will make, while 3 others promised FURTHER cuts ON TOP OF the ones that the sequester will make.
“The problem is there’s simply no way to actually do what every Republican loves to talk about — limiting government, balancing budgets, cutting waste — without reducing defense spending.”
That is also a blatant lie. The budget can be balanced without cutting defense spending. As the Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have both proven with their budget plans, both of which would balance the budget by FY2020 without any defense cuts. And the claim that limited government can’t exist without defense cuts is also a blatant lie. A strong military and generous funding for it are perfectly consistent with conservative philosophy. They, in fact, irremovable PARTS of conservative philosophy. Conservatism calls for limited government, low taxation, preserving Christian values, and a strong military. None of these parts can be removed from this ideology. You either accept 100% of it or you don’t accept it at all. Furthermore, the Constitution REQUIRES the federal government to provide for a strong defense – although you, as a cafeteria constitutionalist, couldn’t care less about the Constitution.
“After entitlement spending, defense spending is the second largest part of our budget.”
 Technically true, but entitlement spending alone consumes a full 56% of the federal budget, with another 6% being used to pay interest rates on the debt. Military spending amounts to less than 19%.
“You could feasibly gut the entire entitlement system and not touch Pentagon spending, but what politician is going to tell America’s seniors they must do without so Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya and God-knows-where-else can have more?””
 The Libyan War is over, and the Iraqi war will be over by this year’s end. Plus, the sequester will make cuts to the CORE defense budget – which pays for defending AMERICA ITSELF – for the feeding, salarying, equipping, housing, maintaining, and training the military, not for wars of nationbuilding. It will make whopping cuts to the core defense budget. And the idea that defense spending should be cut before entitlements is morally repugnant, wrong, un-conservative, and against the Constitution.
“If my fellow conservatives want to know why the GOP has failed to cut government spending, look at Lindsey Graham. Then take a look at all of the other Republicans who agree with him.”
Go to hell. You have no right to call us conservatives “my fellow conservatives.” You are not one of us. You are not a conservative. You are a leftist, anti-defense libertarian and a Ron Paul cultist. You are not a conservative, have never been, and never will be. You are an utterly discredited libertarian liar. A true conservative SUPPORTS a strong defense and robust funding for it, while being mindful that waste in any government department – especially one tasked with defending America – is inexcusable and needs to be excised. Robust funding for defense is perfectly in line with, and constitutes a part of, conservative ideology. CUTTING defense is a tenet of liberal and libertarian ideologies. Go to dailypaul.com and lewrockwell.com and write your libertarian garbage there. You are not a conservative.
UPDATE: Joseph Lawler of the American Spectator, in an AmSpec blogpost titled “Perspectives on the sequester”, has proven that because the sequester will kick in, defense spending will be cut IN REAL TERMS – not just in raw dollar terms, but also as a percentage of GDP – to historic lows not seen in decades, and that it would have been cut IN REAL TERMS to historic laws even WITHOUT the sequester as a consequence of the debt ceiling deal: http://spectator.org/blog/2011/11/23/perspective-on-the-sequester
Under so-called “baseline budgeting”, military spending would ALSO decline to historic lows. Specifically:
1) Under baseline budgeting, without the debt ceiling deal, military spending would shrink from 4.5% of GDP in FY2011 to 3.0% of GDP in FY2021.
2) Under the terms of the debt ceiling deal but without the sequester, military spending would be cut significantly below the baseline, with the big cuts starting in FY2016 and widening in every successive FY, taking military spending down to 2.75% of GDP (a level not since since the 1930s!) in FY2021.
3) Under the terms of the debt ceiling deal and with the sequester, which was triggered on November 23rd, military spending will be cut significantly below the baseline starting in FY2013, with the cuts widening in every successive fiscal year, shrinking military spending down to 2.5% of GDP – less than what South Korea spends on its military – in FY2021.
The source: the Bipartisan Policy Center, reposted on the American Spectator’s website by Joseph Lawler (http://spectator.org/blog/2011/11/23/perspective-on-the-sequester).

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

Guest blogpost by William Rixon: Spencer Ackerman caught lying about the sequester

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on November 23, 2011


Hi folks,

A friend of mine has read two ridiculous blogposts by Spencer Ackerman (a leftist hack) in the Danger Room blog, has researched the facts, and sent Ackerman a comprehensive rebuttal by email. He has asked that his rebuttal be published here, as a guest blog post.

- Zbigniew Mazurak

………………………………………

Guest blogpost: Spencer Ackerman caught lying about the sequester

By William Rixon
Below is an email rebuttal I have sent to Ackerman in response to two cretinous blogposts he wrote earlier this month about the impact of the debt ceiling deal (and in particular, the sequester) on the core defense budget. Here it is in full:

Dear Mr Ackerman,

You are receiving this email in reply to your ridiculous, completely wrong Danger Room blogposts regarding the defense spending cuts underway in Washington, and in particular the following two:
You are not known for being credible and politically neutral, and neither is the Danger Room blog, where, as I’ve noticed over the last several months, much garbage gets published routinely. Yet, until recently, I didn’t deem it necessary to respond to that garbage. However, because your most recent rubbish is extremely ridiculous even for you, I believe a response is necessary.
You claim that:
“[Panetta] and his congressional allies will set to work ensuring that those automatic cuts never happen. (…) Panetta has described the automatic cuts, known as “sequestration,” as “this goofy meataxe scenario.” They’ve made the corporate defense giants sputter with rage. The military services predict disaster. And it’s all kabuki. As Danger Room explained earlier this month, the “automatic” cuts don’t go into effect until January 2013. That gives the Pentagon and its allies on Capitol Hill a full year to stop those cuts from happening…”
This is garbage. The sequester will actually kick in at the start of FY2013 – on Oct. 1st, 2012 – long before the next President and Congress will be seated, or even elected. The oft-repeated date of January 2nd, 2013 is incorrect – but even if it was correct, it would still be before the next Congress and 18 days before the next President will be sworn in. Which means that, in any case, this will be an issue for the current Congress and current President to resolve (or not resolve). Secondly, despite your selective quotes of just a few HASC hawks, you can bet that once the sequester makes the cuts it promises to make, the Congress (both Democrats and Republicans) will fight like two alpha male cats in a bag to keep those massive defense cuts. After all, the DOD is the easiest target to cut, as has been proven during the last 2.5 years. Cutting spending on pet projects such as agriculture subsidies and entitlement spending is much harder than cutting defense spending. Moreover, those who believe the Congress will overturn these massive defense cuts only needs to consider the (in)competence of this Congress as exemplified by the Super Committee. They were supposed to do the job (of cutting the deficit) this time. They failed to do it. How can anyone believe they will do the job (of saving the military and finding savings elsewhere) the next time?
Then, you ridiculously continued:
“… all against the backdrop of a presidential election in which no one is going to want to be pegged as soft on defense. Tuesday night, the Republican presidential candidates will debate national security on CNN. Just watch them step over each other to denounce the cuts and pledge to roll them back.”
As President Obama has repeatedly proven, he doesn’t care if he is, and possibly even wants to be, portrayed as weak on defense (which he indeed is), and is in any case attempting to appease his hard-left base. As for Republican presidential candidates, where are those supposed defense hawks? Ron Paul has embraced the sequester’s defense cuts and hopes they will be made. Gary Johnson supports defense cuts beyond those the sequester would make. Jon Huntsman and Michele Bachmann also support large defense cuts. Herman Cain says that as President, he would order every department without exception to immediately cut its budget by 10% and then by another 10%. Rick Perry’s stance on the sequester is unknown. So that leaves us with only 3 candidates who oppose defense cuts, and of those three, to my knowledge, only Gingrich has publicly denounced the sequester. So this claim of yours is a fantasy. It is true that if Obama doesn’t roll back these defense cuts, he will be portrayed as weak on defense – but he doesn’t care, and even without the sequester, there is much incriminating evidence that proves how weak on defense he is.
Then, you claimed that
“And it’s probably going to be one of the few bipartisan affairs left in Washington. “Arguing for strong defense is a battle-tested mantra for Democrats ever since Clinton was elected,” says Gordon Adams, a former Clinton White House budget official and advocate of steep defense cuts”
This is a lie. The Democrats have already announced they will block any attempt to reduce, let alone completely roll back, the defense cuts the sequester would make. Furthermore, the Democrats have, since the Clinton times, never been arguing for a strong defense. Already during his 1992 presidential campaign, Clinton promised deep defense cuts, and he was elected only because of a split in the GOP, and never won the majority of the popular vote. He, like Obama in 2008, was elected on the basis of economic, not defense, issues (does the “it’s the economy, stupid!” mantra ring any bells?). In 2000 and 2004, Democratic candidates lost the presidential election. The Dems are known as the party of a weak defense, and they deserve that reputation. Furthermore, Adams, who is an utterly-discredited and biased anti-military hack, must believe (as apparently do you) that the American people are idiots who will just buy the “I’m strong on defense” mantra without verifying such a claim and looking at a politician’s record. President Obama’s pre-sequester defense record is enough to portray him as the weak defense President – provided that the GOP nominee will be willing to do that.
Then, you cited Heritage Foundation analyst Mackenzie Eaglen, who is more credible than Adams but nonetheless erred:
“Not every defense hawk thinks avoiding sequestration is the easiest political lay-up. Mackenzie Eaglen, an analyst with the conservative Heritage Foundation, thinks letting the cuts go through might help President Obama’s reeelection. “He could run against sequestration and say the ‘Republican Congress’ did it,” Eaglen says. “Something like: ‘See? Look what they made me do!’ President Obama has already gone on record saying he doesn’t support defense cuts at a sequestration level so he can say Congress is hurting the military, not him.””
This is clearly wrong. Obama has already stated he supports the defense cuts the sequester would make as a “poison pill” for the Super Committee and a punishment for that Committee for not reaching a deal. He has promised to veto any attempt to abolish the sequester or at least to protect defense from its impact. Moreover, as most people know, the reason why the Super Committee failed is because the Democrats demanded a massive $1 trillion tax hike, as did President Obama, knowing full well that Republicans could not accept it (because it would gut the economy). He won’t be able to blame Republicans credibly. If the sequester is triggered, he will get the blame – and deservedly so. The question is whether the eventual nominee will be willing to exploit that.
You then commented:

Maybe. But that would require congressional Republicans to acquiesce to the cuts, which is unlikely. The Armed Services Committee chairman, Rep. Buck McKeon, took his gavel by swearing that defense cuts were a “red line” for him. And that was before the Pentagon’s chorus of outrage over sequestration.”
Oh, really? Really unlikely? Congressional Republicans have already accepted six rounds of defense cuts since Obama has taken office (including the New START treaty, which 13 Republican Senators voted for).

“All of which likely means that massive defense cuts were never really on the table anyway. Even in the face of giant deficits, cutting the defense budget requires debating what U.S. national security strategy ought to be, not shoehorning defense cuts into a political bargain that doesn’t materialize.”

Wrong. Massive defense cuts have already occurred. They began with the closure of over 50 weapon programs in 2009 and 2010, a decision which then-Secretary Gates cut $330 bn from defense budget projections. Then there was the New START treaty, which is cutting America’s nuclear arsenal while allowing Russia to add nuclear weapons. Then there were the $78 bn cuts of January 2011, despite your denials that they took place. Then there was the debt ceiling deal of April 2011, which cut defense spending in real terms. And the first round of the defense cuts ordered by the BCA will excise $465 bn from the defense budget over the next 10 years, i.e. $46.5 bn per decade, starting this fiscal year. By the Heritage Foundation’s count, defense has been cut by $754 bn since President Obama took office. If those are not massive defense cuts, then the term has no meaning.

And as your update proves, even Sec. Panetta has now begun to weaken. As it turns out, he doesn’t oppose the sequestration mechanism… just the cuts that it would make to defense… but even now, he opposes attempts to undo the sequester or at least protect defense from its impact. President Obama’s pressure is evident.

You advertise your previous blog post, which calls the sequester a “myth”, wherein, in one of the first paragraphs, you claim “there are lots of ways the Pentagon can still save its bloated budget, much like the kids on Elm Street always stave off Freddy Krueger.”

That claim is a blatant lie, just like the vast majority of what you write on the DR blog. The defense budget is not bloated by any objective measure. In raw dollar numbers, it is currently $530 bn under the CR, but will have to be cut to $513 bn as a consequence of the first part of the debt ceiling deal. The former figure amounts to 3.50% and the latter to just 3.49% of America’s GDP (which is $14.66 trillion), and both are therefore microscopic. These are the lowest shares of America’s GDP devoted to defense since FY1948 (excluding the late 1990s, a fact Gordon Adams is desperately trying to hide). Throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948, defense spending consumed a higher share of GDP, so by your own standard all defense budgets of the Cold War (including that for FY1948, which was also 3.50% of GDP) were bloated. The core defense budget also amounts to less than 15% of the total federal budget, a share even smaller than it was during the Clinton era. Even counting spending on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the DOE’s defense-related programs won’t help your claim – the corresponding figures for it are, respectively, $630 bn (per the Defense Appropriations Bill passed by the SAC), 4.6% of GDP and 18-19% of the total federal budget. And no, the DOD won’t save its budget, even if the sequester is not triggered. As stated above, the core defense budget will be cut in real terms even without the sequester. With the sequester, of course, the cuts (in real terms) will be much deeper.

Then, after presenting Adams as some ultra-credible source, you claimed that:

““But the sequester itself — the act of lowering available resources — won’t happen until January 2013. It’s justannounced in January 2012, but it doesn’t actually happen until January 2013.””

That lie has already been dealt with, but it should also be noted that the DOD operates on the basis of long-term plans, which means that every step and every decision – budgetary, programmatic, or otherwise – is planned years in advance. Therefore, as soon as the deadline passes (tomorrow), the DOD will have to start planning for a post-sequester military, i.e. begin making all the cuts it will have to make under the sequester – close programs, reduce weapon arsenals, pink-slip troops, cancel contracts, and so forth. And once these cuts are made, they will be hard, and in some cases impossible, to reverse (e.g. a shipyard, once closed because of a lack of orders, will not reopen itself when the DOD will finally get enough money to buy ships). So, the oft-repeated claim (which you have repeated on your blog multiple times, and which Adams is also propagating) that defense cuts will wait until January 2013 is a blatant lie. The DOD will have to close programs and pink-slip troops at the beginning of the next calendar year.

You then invoked the upcoming presidential election as supposed “proof” that sequestration will not happen, but that fantasy has already been dealt with above.

Then, you quoted Adams’ lies that

““In those circumstances, I don’t think the sequester will ever happen,” says Adams — even if the Supercommittee fails and sequester becomes allegedly “automatic.” Congress and Obama will have a full year to change the law, something that many in Congress already want to do.”

But that is only his opinion – the opinion of an utterly discredited, biased, anti-defense leftist from an utterly discredited Administration. So it’s irrelevant. Furthermore, the sequester is not “allegedly automatic”,it is automatic as per the BCA. That is the law of the land. Congress and Obama will have less than a year to change the law, and Obama has already promised to veto ANY attempts to change it, and in particular, to eliminate the sequester or at least spare defense from its impact.

You then lied that

“Think about it. In order for sequestration to happen, both history and the current political environment would have to be defied. (…) In other words, for the Defense Department to really face its nightmare scenario, the laws of political and legislative gravity would have to be suspended.”

This is clearly wrong. The history of America’s defense spending – since you’ve invoked it – speaks against you. Defense spending was cut severely in the 1940s, in the 1970s, in the 1990s, and – less severely, but nonetheless significantly – in the 1950s and under President Obama. If Washington could gut the military three times, it can surely do so now, as I saw first-hand when I served in the military in the 1970s, during and after the Vietnam War. The current political environment consists of President Obama, Democrats zealous to protect domestic programs and cut defense, and Congressional Republicans who routinely capitulate to Obama’s demands.

Your invocation of Congressional Republicans and of defense industry lobbyists in the paragraph are omitted is so pathetic and so desperate it’s not even worth quoting. They have a 0-6 record of losing against President Obama and the Democrats. It’s unlikely they will win this time.

You also claimed that:

“Those cuts, you’ll recall,made outgoing Defense Secretary Robert Gates uneasy almost as soon as Obama announced them in April — and Gates was the guy who had to experience kabuki Congressional angst that his “efficiencies initiative,” which cut no money out of the defense budgetwas itself too big a “cut.” That all seems like a fading dream. The Budget Control Act and the Supercommittee it created changed the terms of the debate. The ten-year, $450 billion (or $463 billion, or $350 billion, depending on whose numbers you trust, the Pentagon’s or Congress’) in cuts it imposed turned into a baseline. The prospect of sequestration became the bigger danger: cuts that would add another $500 billion or so on top of the existing ones. That’s why McHugh now tells defense reporters “we’re pretty confident we can accommodate” the $450 billion cut.”

Evidently you never bothered to listen to Gates. Gates was always of the opinion that the $400 bn cut (which Obama announced in April, when no one was even thinking about a debt ceiling deal), which later grew to $450 bn as a result of the debt ceiling deal, was painful, hard to execute, and necessitating tough choices, but nonetheless survivable, whereas the sequestration would gut the military. His successor, as well as the Service Chiefs, have been saying the same all along.

Taking cues from Adams, who seems to be your only source, you further quoted him as saying

“A $450 billion cut “is an eight percent projected decline over ten years,” Adams explains. “That’s laughably easy to live with. That’s absurd. You know what a trillion dollars would be? [A decline of] 17 percent of projected resources. Even $1 trillion — a ‘doomsday, oh my God, security will fail all over the map’ [scenario] — is just 17 percent of projected resources.””

Both of his claims are lies. Firstly, the $465 bn cut will not be “absurd” nor “laughably easy to live with”. What is absurd and laughable is making claims like those Adams makes. The $465 bn cut, as testified by Panetta, will impose real pain on the military, and reportedly, more than half of that cut will come from weapon programs. But defense cuts will not stop there. The sequester is now guaranteed to kick in, which means that defense will be cut by another $600 bn, in other words, by $1.065 TRILLION over the next decade, and contrary to Adams’ claim, this will be more than 20% of the core defense budget. (GWOT spending will be unaffected, but is slated to shrink automatically as US troops withdraw from Iraq and Afghanistan). So Adams’ claims are, as always, blatant lies.

“The generals aren’t stupid. Neither is Panetta. Neither is McHugh. By publicly warning that sequestration would be “catastrophic,” they’re increasing the pressure on Congress to roll back sequestration in 2012 if it does occur. For the Pentagon, it’s not a budgetary nightmare. It’s a dream that’s very likely to come true.”

It’s hard to see how sequestration would be a dream. And if by the “dream” you meant rolling back sequestration, you’re wrong again, for the reasons stated above.

So each of your lies, and those of Gordon Adams, have been debunked. You are as ignorant as you are arrogant. Do you realize that you discredit yourself and DR with every ridiculous blog post you write? You would be well advised not to write about defense issues any longer. Further garbage posts about these issues will only serve to discredit you further.

Sincerely,

William Rixon

……………………………

COMMENT BY ZBIGNIEW MAZURAK: Rixon send his letter to Ackerman before the debate. The debate has now been held, and Ackerman was utterly disproven, as usual. Not one candidate, not even one, pledged to undo the cuts that the sequester could make, although Rick Perry and Mitt Romney – alone among the 8 Republican candidates on stage – did criticize them in deservedly harsh terms. But even they didn’t pledge to undo these defense cuts.

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

The Tea Party Debt Commission and Sen. Coburn’s defense cuts proposals

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on November 18, 2011


The Tea Party Debt Commission unveiled its deficit reduction plan yesterday. It’s a huge piece of work, calling for a $9.7 trillion dollar deficit reduction over a decade, i.e. $970 bn per year. Their plan is great, except one part: the one that relates to defense, which is troubling.

The good news about it is that it starts with a clear recognition that

If there is one function of government clearly addressed and permitted in the U.S. Constitution, it isdefense. Defense protects all of the other functions of government, and our freedoms.

Still, as the largest military establishment on earth, America’s defense community can afford to contributeto debt reduction. We approach this challenge with the following basic goals:

- Preserve weapons systems and personnel investments that our commanders, after careful review,have deemed vital to the nation’s security.
- Cut out all obviously wasteful spending, such as the duplicative purchases of Pentagon supplies.
- Eliminate or move from the Pentagon budget all programs that have nothing to do with nationaldefense.
- Prefer specific cuts over across-the-board reductions or sequesters. (Avoid a meat-ax approach.)”
The Tea Party Debt Commission also opposes the sequester mechanism and is rightly concerned about the damage it would make to America’s defense:
The Budget Control Act of 2011, which created the Super Committee will impose an automatic across-the- board cut in defense and other spending, to make up for any shortfall in the savings produced by thatCommittee. We are worried that such a sequester, if large, could weaken our defenses, perhaps to adangerously unacceptable level. We should avoid a meat-ax approach. And happily, we can easily do so.
That’s the good news. The bad news is twofold. Firstly, even though military spending accounts for just 17% of America’s total federal budget, they want it to bear 21% of the cost of deficit reduction (i.e. a full 21% of their cuts would come out of the military budget, and it wouldn’t be just the GWOT supplemental).
Secondly, and equally more worringly, instead of doing their own thinking about what the DOD needs and what it doesn’t need, and doing their own research (or asking me to do it :) ), they blindly recommend adopting Sen. Coburn’s defense cuts proposals, contained in his Back to Black pamphlet. Now, what is wrong with his proposals, you might ask?
To start with, EVERYTHING.
Firstly, he proposes to cut the core defense budget (not counting the GWOT supplemental) by a whopping $1.006 trillion over a decade, i.e. over $100 bn per year, i.e. almost as much as the sequester would cut. Secondly, many (but not all) of the specific cuts he proposes are unacceptable, because they would significantly damage America’s military. To take a few examples:
1) Cutting spending on the nuclear arsenal and the arsenal of means of delivery by $7.9 bn per year, i.e. $79 bn over a decade, for purely budgetary reasons, by:
a) cutting the nuclear stockpile down to the inadequate levels allowed by the disastrous New START treaty (former SECDEF James Schlesinger deems them “barely adequate”);
b) cutting the ICBM fleet from 500 to 300 missiles (i.e. by a whopping 200 missiles);
c) cutting the SSBN fleet from from 14 to 11 subs;
d) delaying, again, for purely budgetary reasons, the Next Generation Bomber program until the mid-2020s when it hasn’t even been allowed to begin; and
e) maintaining a reserve stockpile of just 1,100 warheads;
f) cutting the strategic bomber fleet to just 40 aircraft compared to the current 96 nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and 66 non-nuclear-capable B-1s.
This is the worst of all his proposals by far. The disastrous New START treaty, which does not cover tactical nuclear weapons (in which Russia has overwhelming advantage), ordered the US to cut its nuclear arsenal to already-inadequate levels, so that Russia could keep nuclear parity status with the US. Cutting the US nuclear arsenal down to levels authorized by this treaty is a mistake; cutting it further would be an ever bigger mistake; cutting it by a whopping 200 ICBMs, 3 SSBNs, and hundreds of warheads would be an egregious blunder which would make America much less safe and invite a Russian nuclear first strike.
Coburn also proposes to forego any modernization of the deterrent until the mid-2020s, and then only of the bomber fleet. A requirement for a Next Generation Bomber Type is real and was officially acknowledged by the DOD 5 years ago, in 2006, in that year’s Quadrennial Defense Review.(1) It was later confirmed by the 2010 QDR.(2) It was subsequently acknowledged by the then leadership of the DOD, including Secretary Gates. Later that year, the CSBA – which Coburn likes to cite as a source – released a report (authored by retired USAF Colonel Mark Gunzinger, who has participated in all defense reviews to date) stating that an NGB is an urgent requirement which must be met by 2018 at the latest and that consequently, the NGB program must not be delayed any longer. (3)
In short, the nuclear triad is the last part of the military that should be cut. And for all of these draconian cuts, Coburn would “save” only $7.9 bn per year, whereas my proposals of cutting the administration budgets of the DOD alone would save taxpayers well over $10 bn per year.
2) End the purchases of V-22 Ospreys at no more than 288 aircraft, thus allowing some Marine H-46s to retire unreplaced, and not having the V-22 Osprey as an option for the USAF’s CSARX competition. Buy MH-60s instead. The savings: a meagre $0.6 bn a year, or $6 bn over a decade.
This proposal is just as dumb as the first one. Barring the USAF’s bombers (B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s), there isn’t a single weapon type in America’s inventory that is as combat-proven and as battle-tested as the V-22, which has been widely used in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is more survivable, and can fly much farther and faster, than any other rotorcraft in history, and can fly to places where other rotorcraft cannot. When an F-15E was downed in Libya earlier this year, it was a V-22 that rescued its crew. The V-22 is a must-have aircraft type. Orders for it should be increased, not cut. And contrary to Coburn’s claim, it costs only a little more than an MH-60: $67 mn for a V-22 vs at least $44 mn for an MH-60.
3) Cancel the Marine (STOVL) and Navy (CATOBAR) variants of the F-35, buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets instead. The saving: a paltry $700 mn per year, i.e. $7 bn per decade.
This proposal, frequently stated by those who wish to cut the defense budget deeply, is fundamentally flawed, because it’s based on two wrong assumptions: a) a Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing variant is not needed; b) the Super Bug is interchangeable with the F-35.
There is clearly a requirement for a STOVL variant, as confirmed by USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos, who is himself a Naval Aviator. He knows the F-35B better than anyone. Coburn’s assumption that a STOVL variant won’t be needed is based on wishful thinking. As for the second assumption: no, the Super Bug is not an alternative to, nor even substitute for, the F-35. It’s basically a redo of the F/A-18 Hornet, a plane that first flew in the 1970s. It is not stealthy, has a much shorter range compared to the F-35C, and a higher maintenance cost. It can operate only in benign, uncontested airspace.
4) Retire the USS George Washington early, cutting the carrier fleet permanently to 10 and cutting the number of carrier air wings from 10 to 9. This would save a paltry $600 mn per year, i.e. $6 bn over a decade, at a large cost to America’s defense.
This would also be reckless. Contrary to Coburn’s claim, during the Cold War, the USN needed – and always had – at least 15 carriers. Throughout the Cold War, the Navy had no fewer than 15 carriers. The flattop fleet was not cut until after the Cold War. In 2007, the Congress reluctantly agreed to cut the carrier fleet from 12 to 11, while simoultaneously writing a well-grounded requirement for at least 11 carriers into law. Last year, the Congress again reluctantly agreed to waive that requirement – but only for two years, from 2013 to 2015, until the USS Gerald R. Ford is commissioned. As studies by the Heritage Foundation have repeatedly shown, the Navy needs no fewer than 11 carriers at any one time. Cutting the carrier fleet and the number of CAWs would be reckless.
5) Cancelling the Precision Tracking Space Satellite (PTSS) program of the Missile Defense Agency.
This program is necessary to create a constellation of 6 dedicated satellites tracking ballistic missiles, a capability that none of America’s current satellites offer.
6) Cutting the total number of troops deployed in Europe and Asia to just 45,000.
While Europe can certainly defend itself on its own, having only one plausible enemy (Russia), this cannot be said of America’s Asian allies. The US can afford to withdraw troops from Europe but not Asia, where any American drawdown would be viewed as a sign of weakness and disengagement, which Sec. Panetta and President Obama have both recently tried to prevent, trying to assure America’s Asian allies that this will not happen.
7) Using the $100 bn savings that Secretary Gates for deficit reduction, not for military modernization as Sec. Gates wanted and the Services – which worked hard to find these savings – were promised by Gates, President Obama, and the Congress.
These savings were to be used for a number of military modernization programs, including purchases of additional ships, modernization of the Army’s combat vehicles, and the forementioned Next Generation Bomber program. Taking that money away from them and using it to pay the bills for a deficit caused exclusively by runaway civilian spending would not just be dumb, it would be an act of heinous betrayal.
(8) Delay the Ground Combat Vehicle for purely budgetary reasons. The saving: a paltry $700 mn per year, i.e. $7 bn per decade.
For purely budgetary reasons. Do I need to say more?
9) End the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program without replacement, not with a replacement as Sec. Gates proposed.
The decision of Sec. Gates (whom Coburn quotes selectively) to cancel the over-budget, delayed Marine amphibious truck vehicle known as the EFV was the right one. However, as a replacement, Gates proposed starting a new, less complex, less costly amphib program that is scheduled to produce the first amphibious trucks in 2014, so that Gen. Amos can ride in them before he retires in late 2014. As both Gates and Amos have stated, there is a clear requirement for such a vehicle. The USMC’s obsolete, Vietnam War era AAVs must be replaced. Coburn proposes not to replace them.
1o) Cutting DOD weapon RnD spending by 10% in FY2012, then by another 10% in FY2013, and then freezing it for a further 8 fiscal years.
Again, this is motivated purely by budgetary concerns, not military ones. Coburn claims that from FY1981 to FY1988, the DOD received, in constant dollars, $407 bn, and he claims that is only $51 bn per year. He’s wrong, and apparently can’t do simple math. $407 bn divided by seven is $58.142857 bn, i.e. ca. $58.143 bn. He proposes to cut RnD spending to a paltry $58.0 bn and keep it there, even though that is LESS than what was invested during the Reagan era.
On top of that, Coburn proposes to eliminate or cut many expenditures that are outright wasteful or excessive, but rather than reinvest at least a part of them in military modernization, he proposes to use them to pay for a deficit caused exclusively by runaway civilian spending.
References:
(1) The 2006 QDR, as released by the DOD.
(2) The 2010 QDR, as released by the DOD. The author will send you a copy of both Reviews at request.
(3) Mark Gunzinger, Sustaining America’s Advantage in Long-Range Strike, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2010.

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

The truth about Tom Coburn’s defense cuts proposals

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on November 3, 2011


Rick Perry has recently endorsed Tom Coburn’s “Back to Black” budget plan, which includes defense cuts of $1.006 trillion over a decade, i.e. $100 trillion per year, and would force the DOD to face bigger budget cuts than any other cabinet department.

What is the truth about these defense cuts proposals?

Like most other opponents of a strong defense, Coburn assures us that his proposals would not damage the military at all, and he claims that his proposals are only “options”, but it doesn’t change the fact that:

1) he would prefer to see all of them implemented; 2) he presents them as one indivisible set of policies, whereby defense spending cuts would total $1.006 trillion over a decade and total federal spending cuts $9 trillion over a decade; 3) ANY of his big defense cut proposals, even if implemented alone, would do significant damage to the US military and make America less safe, while implementing all of them would gut the military completely and invite a Russian first nuclear strike; 4) any of these defense cuts would be implemented ON TOP OF, not instead of, all the defense cuts already administered or scheduled (including the defense cuts ordered by the debt ceiling deal, $465 bn).

As for Coburn’s pious denials:

“However, we would hope each proposal would be debated on its merits.”

And that’s what I (and others) have done. The problem is that there is no merit to his proposals at all. NONE. And if Coburn doesn’t know that, he’s mentally deficient.

“As an example, an option to reduce the number of aircraft carriers from eleven to ten is not equivalent to an option of permanently decommissioning every single aircraft carrier in the Navy‘s fleet.”

Technically true, but this Nation cannot afford to cut its carrier fleet any more. The Congress reluctantly accepted, in 2007, a permanent cut of the carrier fleet from 12 to 11 ships, but promised there would be no further cuts to the fleet and instituted a statutory requirement that the Navy have no fewer than 11 carriers. Last year, that requirement was temporarily waived for the Enterprise-Ford “interregnum” (2013-2015). As numerous credible analysts, including the HF’s Peter Brookes, say, the Navy needs NO FEWER than 11 carriers. With fewer than 11 carriers, the Navy would have no more than 6-7 carriers available for deployment at any one time (the others would be in refit or staying in homeport after deployment), and therefore, executing the Fleet Response Plan would become impossible.

“It should also be noted what is not included in these proposals.”

Oh, so we are supposed to be grateful to Coburn that he’s only half stupid and doesn’t rpopose to close the DOD entirely? Again, like I said, the defense cuts that he HAS proposed would, by themselves, gut the military for the reasons I stated earlier. It doesn’t matter what is not included in these proposals.

“Under this plan, the Army will return to its pre-war size but not be cut further.”

So we are supposed to be grateful to Coburn for cutting the Army “only” to its pre-war size? The Army’s pre-war size is inadequate, and, as Army Vice Chief of Staff testified recently on Capitol Hill, whenever the Army’s troop strength was cut, it cost them lives.

“The Navy will remain nearly the same size”

Only if by “nearly the same size” you mean eliminating an entire carrier strike group, its associated air wing, and the ships that Gates’s savings of January 2011 would’ve paid for. (Coburn proposes to transfer all of these savings into deficit reduction, not military modernization as Gates proposed.)

“as will the Air Force as measured in total number of ships and combat wings.”

FALSE. As stated above, Coburn proposes to eliminate an entire carrier strike group, an entire carrier air wing, and 200 ICBMs, which would mean abolishing 1-2 Air Force missile wings (and inviting a nuclear first strike by Russia).

“Key modernization programs, even the Joint Strike Fighter, will continue.”

FALSE. Two variants of the F-35 – B and C – would be cancelled (with no replacement for Marines and a pathetic substitute, the Super Bug, for the Navy; the Super Bug is essentially a variant of the F/A-18, a plane that first flew in 1978 and entered service in the 1980s). The Next Generation Bomber program would be delayed until the mid-202s, even though it is LONG OVERDUE (a genuine REQUIREMENT for it was identified 5 years ago and confirmed by the 2010 QDR and by Sec. Gates in January 2011). The V-22 program would barely limp along, severely cut.

“The nation‘s nuclear deterrent will remain robust.”

FALSE. It will be severely cut to the point that Russia would be tempted to conduct a nuclear first strike against the US. Coburn proposes to cut – for purely budgetary reasons – the ICBM fleet by 200 missiles, from 500 to 300, and the SSBN fleet (with its associated SLBMs) from 14 to 11. Note that the Heritage Foundation already deems the current nuclear deterrent inadequate, and that former SECDEF/SECENERGY/defense expert James Schlesinger deems the arsenal allowed by the New START “barely adequate”, per his Senate testimony on the treaty. Russia has already matched the US in the quantity of strategic delivery systems (and has more strategic nuclear warheads than the US), having reached the maximum quotas allowed by New START, and has the financial and technological capability to add further strategic DSes (ICBMs, SLBMs, bombers). It also has over 100 Tu-22M air-refuelable bombers that the New START doesn’t count. ANY CUTS to the US nuclear arsenal or the arsenal of means of delivery would render the US weaker than Russia on that score, and thus imperil the US. Cuts of the magnitude demanded by Sen. Coburn would cut the US arsenal so badly they would invite a nuclear first strike. And, under his budget cuts, you can forget about any modernization of the nuclear triad. There wouldn’t be any money for that and indeed he says he would delay the NGB program until the mid-2020s.

“Pay levels will not be cut or frozen for active duty military service members. In fact if the option regarding defense commissaries and post exchanges is adopted, active duty military pay will increase.”

Oh, so we should be grateful that he will at least not cut military pay and only gut the military?

“While the options below represent $1 trillion in savings, the reduced spending from these options listed below would put the Pentagon back on the level of annual funding it had just five years ago at the height of the Iraq surge.”

FALSE. The FY2008 core defense budget was $481.4 bn in then-year dollars, i.e. $526 bn in today’s money. The FY2007 core defense budget was, IIRC, $475 bn in then-year dollars. The current defense budget, under the CR, is $530 bn. Cutting the defense budget by $100 bn a year would mean cutting it to $430 bn, a level of defense spending not seen since the early Bush years, i.e. a totally inadequate level.

Coburn’s defense cuts would be destructive, dangerous, wrong, and treasonous.

 

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

The CNAS report is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on October 20, 2011


The leftist “Center for a New American Security”, founded by people who are now Obama Administration officials and staffed by extreme leftists, has recently released a new pamphlet arguing for massive defense cuts on top of all the cuts already administered.

Their report is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke. Its place is in the dustbin.

It ridiculously claims that the US can afford to cut its core defense budget by $550 billion over the next ten years and still remain “the dominant superpower.” This is a blatant lie. Common sense alone can tell you that with the US military still fighting two wars, and with the vast majority of its equipment being obsolete and worn out and needing replacement, the US can’t afford to cut defense spending further.

But it’s not just common sense that tells you that. If you read the specifics, you’ll see that implementing their recommendations would indeed wreck the US military, render it decrepit, and make the US a second-rate military player, not a superpower, let alone the dominant superpower.

Just a few illustrative examples:

  • The CNAS recommends the cancellation or closure of a wide range of crucial, necessary modernization programs, including the F-35 JSF (America’s only remaining 5th generation fighterplane program, absolutely necessary to replace the obsolete aircraft of three services) and the V-22 Osprey, a combat-proven, cost-effective, survivable multimission rotorcraft that can serve as a troop transport, Carrier Onboard Delivery plane, and a CSAR platform. It costs only 67 mn dollars per copy and has been proven in three combat theaters: Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. Cutting or closing these crucial modernization programs would render the US military ill-equipped and unable to fight, let alone win.
  • The CNAS calls for cutting the Navy’s carrier fleet further, from 11 vessels to just 10 (which would mean just 9 after the Enterprise retires before the USS Gerald R. Ford enters service). A 10 carrier fleet would be inadequate with all the tasks that the US Navy must do. Multiple studies by credible analysts and organizations (as opposed to the leftist CNAS) say that the Navy must, at all times, have no fewer than 11 carriers. For a good reason, Congress wrote this requirement into law, and only in 2010 did it reluctantly waive that requirement for the Enterprise-Ford interim period. A 10 carrier fleet would mean that no more than 7, and perhaps only 6, carriers would be ready for duty at any given time.
  • The CNAS furthermore calls on huge force structure reductions in other parts of the military, for example, for cutting the Army and the Marine Corps to their pre-9/11 size (480,000 and 175,000 active duty servicemembers, respectively). It was widely recognized even before 9/11 that this force structure was inadequate. It will be inadequate even after the Afghan war ends. Remember that the US has a long southern border to protect.
  • The CNAS furthermore lectures us about “prioritizing” and claims that prioritizing, as well as withdrawing from Europe and the Middle East, can bring about significant savings while still leaving the US as the “dominant superpower.” This is garbage. Firstly, withdrawing troops from foreign countries would cost significantly more money than keeping them where they are because one would have to build bases for them in the US, whereas the bases they currently use are funded by America’s allies. Secondly, prioritizing, while necessary to do, is no panacea. Prioritizing, in and of itself, is not enough – not even close. Even if the US adopts the right priorities, it will still need to spend an adequate amount of money on defense, have a very large military, and buy large quantities of new weapons. Prioritizing is no substitute for a large military, adequate modernization programs, or an adequate defense budget. Even if the US adopts the right priorities, it won’t be a military superpower if it doesn’t invest sufficiently in defense.
  • The CNAS says that the Navy and Air Force – or rather, naval and aerial assets – should be prioritized over ground troops. That is arguably the right path, but the problem with the CNAS’s report is that it calls for cutting the entire military – especially the Navy and the Air Force – so badly that they wouldn’t be able to defend the US, so shifting emphasis to them would not be an option.
  • The CNAS claims that the US can afford to cut its defense budget by $550 billion over the next ten years and still remain “the dominant superpower”, but that any cuts beyond that amount “could severely undermine military capabilities.” Here’s evidence from the report itself that its internally inconsistent and that implementing its recommendations would significantly weaken the military. So, according to the CNAS, whacking the defense budget by 550 billion dollars is perfectly okay, but cutting it any further beyond that would weaken the military? Ridiculous. The truth is that the defense cuts they propose would already wreck the military by themselves, and cutting defense even further would do further damage.
  • Their “report” is clearly just another liberal defense cut proposal masquerading as a proposal of a responsible drawdown, as evidenced by the fact that it seeks to constrain America’s foreign and defense policy, including the size and modernization programs of the US military, in accordance with budgetary limitations, not in accordance with the global security environment and America’s actual defense needs. A prudent defense policymaker never does that. He first looks at the world and identifies all threats to the US and its key allies, then determines what exactly must be done to counter these threats (e.g. what weapons and troops, and in what numbers, are needed, where do they need to be deployed, which allies should the US support, and how, how to fight the enemy if war breaks out, etc.), then determines what exact programs and units are needed, in what numbers and how much to invest in them, and then what the total cost of all of that would be (that’s the defense budget topline). On the other hand, the CNAS would, if it had its way, cut the defense budget deeply, down to an arbitrary limit, and constrain the US military and America’s foreign policy to that limit, meaning the US could never do anything beyond it. That is unacceptable and wrong. The CNAS got the process exactly backwards. This ridiculous logic proves that the CNAS folks, including the authors of the report, know absolutely nothing about defense issues.
  • They call their report “hard choices”. Their recommendations, however, are more than hard choices: they are arbitrary, unjustifiable defense cuts which would wreck the military. For them, “hard choices” mean defense cuts. Such “hard choices” must never be imposed on the DOD.

In short, the CNAS report is a ridiculous screed. It is a litany of lies, a piece of garbage, and a joke. Not a serious person would even seriously take that report, let alone endorse it.

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

More defense cuts – this time, even more severe ones, and most Republicans don’t care

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on October 11, 2011


Defensenews.com has reported that the Obama Administration is already mulling several draconian force structure and weapon program cuts. Having imposed, by executive fiat, a diktat on the DOD to cut its annual core budgets by $464 bn over a decade (i.e. a whopping $46.4 bn per year on average), it is now forcing the DOD to make such desperate steps, such draconian cuts.

BTW, this is NOT required by the debt ceiling deal. The debt ceiling deal does require severe defense budget cuts, on top of all cuts already administered, but to the tune of “only” $350 bn over a decade (i.e. $35 bn per year on average), NOT $464 bn or even $450 bn. That is a goal that the Obama Administration has imposed on the DOD by executive fiat out of its own decision. This is not something that is required by any statute.

Defensenews.com reports that one of the cuts that could result from this decree would be forgoing the USS George Washington’s Refueling Complex Overhaul, decommissioning the carrier, retiring all of its crewmembers and plans, and not replacing them, as well as cutting the already-inadequate number of carrier air wings from 10 to 9. This would mean that the number of the USN’s aircraft carriers would fall permanently to 10, and for several years to even 9 – the lowest such number since before WW2 – during the time from 2013 to 2016, i.e. from when the USS Enterprise will be decommissioned to the commissioning of the USS Gerald R. Ford.

This means that, for three years, the USN will have only 9 aircraft carriers, about 3 of which will be in refit/RCOH at any given time, which means that no more than 6 carriers will be available for service at any given time.

Cuts of an even larger magnitude can be expected by the Navy, and all other military services, if Obama is allowed to cut defense any further, even by $350 bn or $464 bn. Thus, the US military will become decrepit and totally impotent and will be unable to defend the US.

There is only one solution to this problem. And that is for House and Senate Republicans to mount a full-scale revolt against Obama and his defense cuts. ALL Republicans except Ron Paul must participate in it.

Republicans must stand united against Obama’s defense cuts and speak with one voice against him. They must tell him that:

  • Under the Constitution, it is the CONGRESS, not the PRESIDENT, that determines the federal budget, including the defense budget, and therefore spending levels, and programmatic decisions;
  • Under the Constitution, it is the CONGRESS that “raises and supports Armies”, “provides and maintains a Navy”, and regulates the military, and therefore, has the sole prerogative to determine the US military’s end strength and force structure;
  • Because, by the Service Chiefs’ own admission, the US military is “at the ragged edge” and has been already cut too much and overused too severely, and because an entire generation of Cold War era weapons must be replaced, the Congress WILL NOT ACCEPT ANY FURTHER DEFENSE CUTS OF ANY KIND, PERIOD. This means ANY defense cuts, whether to the defense budget topline, the force structure, modernization programs, or readiness programs.
  • Any reductions in end strength must be made only without straining the military and increasing the ops tempo any further, and only in line with withdrawals from combat zones, and any resulting savings must be reinvested in the military;
  • Any savings, resulting from the abolition of any wasteful spending project or any bureaucracy, or any other savings, made at the DOD, must be reinvested exclusively in the DOD.

and follow these words up with actions.

The Congress must reject ANY further defense cuts that anyone, whether Obama or anyone else, proposes.

Furthermore, it must rescind the debt ceiling deal (the so-called “Budget Control Act of 2011″), scrap the so-called “Super Committee”, and start over. The debt ceiling deal is a fundamentally flawed deal that was misbegotten from the beginning.

When something’s basics are bad/flawed, nothing good can come of it. When something was misbegotten from the beginning, nothing good can come of it.

The Congress should rescind the debt ceiling deal, scrap the committee, and order all permanent Committees of the Congress to find savings in their jurisdictions. It should furthermore reject all of Obama’s defense cuts and pass budgets that will provide adequate funding, and finance enough men, weapons, installations, units (wings, brigades, fleets), weapon programs, health benefits, and readiness programs to provide for a military adequate to protect the US and its allies.

If Obama vetoes such a budget, the Congress should override his veto while simoultaneously exposing him for what he really is: a strident anti-American liberal determined to gut the US military and expose the US to attack.

In 1995, the Congress voted for a larger defense budget than what President Clinton requested. linton, determined to gut the military, vetoed it, but the Congress eventually struck a deal with him that provided slightly more funding than what Clinton requested, but less than what the Congress first passed.

There is no reason why Congress should not exercise its Constitutional prerogatives, end the Executive Branch’s usurpations, remind that branch of its limited, enumerated prerogatives, and enforce on Obama a defense budget much larger than what he will request and block any further defense cuts.

It is the CONGRESS, not the PRESIDENT, that writes defense budgets.

http://www.defensenews.com/story.php?i=7888931&c=AME&s=SEA

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

The real FY2012 US military budget

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on October 5, 2011


On Oct. 1st, FY2011 ended and FY2012 began. Because in the last days of September the Congress managed to agree to a Continuing Resolution (a stopgap measure), the federal government is now operating under this CR as a provisional FY2012 federal budget.

What are the funding totals provided for by this CR? As anyone who is at least slightly knowledgeable about budgetary issues and the federal budgetary process knows, the federal budget which the Congress passes is almost always different (and sometimes very different) from what the President originally requests. That’s because, as per the Constitution, the President doesn’t determine the federal budget. The Congress does. The President may only request funding. Congress may agree or not. It may agree to provide as much, more, or less than what the President requests. The FY2012 federal budget (CR) is a perfect example of that. It provides for a lot less federal funding than what President Obama requested, as the US is trying to cut spending to deal with a huge budget deficit.

The history of America’s military budgets during the last 32 years was one of conflict between two branches of the federal government. Before President Obama was inaugurated, the Congress tended to provide a lot less than what Republican Presidents requested, and more than what Democratic Presidents (Carter and Clinton) requested. Only in FY2005 did the Congress provide more than what President Bush requested. Under President Obama, however, the Congress has been providing less money than what he has been requesting.

For FY2012, Obama requested, in February, $553 bn as a core defense budget, $118 bn as a GWOT supplemental, and $19 bn for the DOE’s military programs. The Congress has authorized a lot less than that: full funding for the GWOT, but only $513 bn as a core defense budget and $15.675 bn for the DOE’s military programs. This is $43.325 bn less than what President Obama requested in FY2012. Regardless of whether you think it was right for Congress not to fully fund the President’s request or not, the fact is that the Congress has provided much less than what Obama requested.

$

The core defense budget request will fund the military on a day-to-day basis: salary, feed, train, house, operate, maintain, and equip it, as well as pay for RnD programs and health programs. The GWOT supplemental will pay for the Afghan and Iraqi wars. The DOE’s military programs would be funded as follows:

a) Defense Environmental Cleanup would receive $5.002 billion;

b) Weapons Activities would receive $7.190 billion;

c) Nuclear Nonproliferation would receive $2.383 billion; and

d) Naval Reactors would receive $1.100 billion.

Under the SAC-reported Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Development Act, the DOE would receive a total budget of $25.549 billion, $15.675 bn of which would be spent on military programs and the rest on nonmilitary ones.

All of this adds up to $644.675 bn, which is way smaller (50% smaller) than the figure that Ron Paul advisor Bruce Fein has repeatedly claimed as the total US military budget ($1.2 trillion per year). It constitutes 4.4% of America’s GDP ($14.66 trillion according to the CIA World Factbook). 4.3975% of GDP, to be exact.

So how big is the military budget, exactly?

The core defense budget amounts to 3.49% of GDP (the smallest proportion of GDP devoted to defense since FY1940, except the late 1990s), less than 15% of the total federal budget, less than 50% of the federal discretionary budget, and $1,665.58 per every American.

The total military budget (i.e. the core defense budget plus the GWOT supplemental plus the DOE’s military programs) amounts to 4.4% of GDP, less than 19% of the total federal budget (the Heritage Foundation says it’s 17.3%), less than 50% of the federal discretionary budget, and $2,110.39 per every American.

Here’s my message to every taxpaying American: the next time you do you federal tax return, calculate your total annual tax liability and multiply it by 18%. That’s the amount of your tax dollars that goes to the military.

Sources:

1) The Defense Appropriations Act:

http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=ac72ee37-9641-4e7a-8f72-3031e55ac730

2) The Fiscal Year 2012 Energy and Water Development Act:

http://appropriations.senate.gov/news.cfm?method=news.view&id=8053d2e0-2189-4c25-9046-8a90a33c0d9b

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

Gary Johnson caught lying about defense spending

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on September 27, 2011


Gary Johnson has recently called for a 43% reduction of America’s military budget, and has stated a number of lies about America’s military spending:

“When all is said and done, there is no greater threat to our national security than continuing to borrow or print 43 cents of every dollar the government spends. As long as we continue to feed an $800 billion per year military habit, we are not making ourselves safer.”

http://www.garyjohnson2012.com/presidential-candidate-gary-johnson-calls-for-43-reduction-in-defense-spending

That’s garbage. Firstly, the annual US military budget is NOT $800 bn. Not even close. The FY2011 military budget is $688 bn; that includes spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, which will zero out in FY2015. The core defense budget is just $528.9 bn. Secondly, it is not a huge portion of the federal budget. Total military spending amounts to less than 19% of the total federal budget. Thirdlyly, the US is responsible for LESS than 50% of global military spending (42.8%, to be exact), and in any case, how much other countries spend on their militaries is COMPLETELY IRRELEVANT to how much the US should spent on defense. Fourthly, even if the US were to adopt a “noninterventionist” foreign policy and stop defending (i.e. betray) all of its allies, it will still need to spend ca. $500 bn per year on defense (which, BTW, is only 3.5% of GDP). That’s how much it costs to maintain a military of 2 mn men, feed them, heal them, house them, train them, and equip them.. There is no way that we can have “a military second to none” with a $340 bn annual defense budget, which would be even smaller than any Clinton era defense budget. Furthermore, your claim that “in the face of our debt crisis everything needs be on the table” is a blatant lie. It’s the favorite propaganda claim of Democrats and RINOs (like Eric Cantor) alike. They say that “everything needs to be on the table”, but they keep many things (Including entitlements) off the table. When they say that “everything needs to be on the table”, they mean “only defense spending should be on the table”. When defense spending is put on the table, it quickly becomes the ONLY thing on the table. That’s what happened during the 1940s, late 1950s, 1970s, late 1980s, and 1990s. Johnson is lying, and I know it. Defense spending has NEVER been off the table. Not during the 1940s, 1950s, 1960s, 1970s, 1980s, or 1990s, not during the Bush era, and not during President Obama’s term.. Obama has already cut $400 bn from defense accounts, the debt ceiling deal has ordered the DOD to cut the defense budget in real terms by $350 bn over a decade, and Panetta actually plans to cut it by $450 bn over a decade. Last but not least, the Heritage Foundation has proven that even ELIMINATING MILITARY SPENDING COMPLETELY would not even stop the growth of the budget deficit, let alone reduce or eliminate the budget deficit.

Defense spending must not be cut, even by one dollar. I will NEVER support ANY candidate who supports ANY defense cuts.

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

Yet another laughable screed by Jack Hunter

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on September 9, 2011


Anti-defense liberal Jack Hunter has written yet another laughable screed at the DailyCaller.

This post is yet another laughable screed designed to cover up the fact that Ron Paul is weak on foreign policy and defense issues. This one, however, is deeply offensive to me, because in this one, the Offical Ron Paul Blogger claims Reagan’s mantle for Ron Paul and claims that Paul’s foreign policy of appeasement, isolationism, and unilateral disarmament is thoroughly Reaganesque (his screed is titled “Ron Paul’s Reaganesque foreign policy). Nothing could be further from the truth.

Don’t take my word from it. Read Ron Paul’s own resignation letter to Reagan and the GOP from 1987, in which he denounced Reagan’s foreign and defense policies in the strongest possible terms, saying that Reagan’s FP was “unconstitutional” and denouncing his defense spending as well as “spending on… warfare”. That same year, Murray Rothbard and Lew Rockwell denounced Reagan as a “warmonger” and called on the Congress to impeach him and remove him from office. And, throughout the 1980s, Ron Paul OPPOSED Reagan’s defense spending hikes, funding for the Nicaraguan contras, funding for other freedom fighters worldwide (e.g. the Solidarity trade union in Poland), and any interventions anywhere, including the interventions in Lebanon, Grenada, and Libya, as well as the shootdowns of Libyan aircraft in the Gulf of Sidra in 1981 and 1989. Lew Rockwell has recently said that “Ron Paul is not a Reaganite; he is much better than that” and denounced the B-1 bomber (which Ron Paul opposed) as a “killing machine”.

Today, Ron Paul supports MASSIVE defense cuts, to the tune of at least $1 trillion over a decade (including the elimination of the entire USAF bomber fleet), withdrawal of all American troops from all foreign countries (including staunch allies like Japan and South Korea, to whose defense Reagan was pledged), total isolationism (no interventions anywhere, not even if it’s necessary, and yes, Paulbots, sometimes it is necessary), and dumping all of America’s allies, as well as appeasing America’s enemies. He also opposed the killing of Osama Bin Laden.

So Ron Paul’s foreign policy is not only not Reaganesque, it’s the total OPPOSITE of the foreign policy that Ronald Reagan supported.

Now, what was Ronald Reagan’s foreign policy, actually?

For starters, I welcome the admission by Hunter and J Street propagandist Beinart that Ronald Reagan was not really a promiscous interventionist at all. That’s some progress. Beinart’s recitation of Reagan’s scant record of military interventions is 100% true.

But both Hunter and Beinart have omitted the biggest difference between Reagan’s foreign policy and Paul’s: Reagan supported (and actively fought for – before, during, and after his 8 years as President) strong defense as a means of both protecting America and preventing wars. Ron Paul opposed it at the time and opposes it now, as does Lew Rockwell. Throughout Reagan’s 8 years as President, Ron Paul fought against his defense policies. But how can one be surprised when Paul’s self-admitted biggest intellectual influence, Murray Rothbard, claimed that

“The United States was solely at fault for the Cold War and Russia was the aggrieved party.”?

As the Roman proverb goes, si vis pacem, pare bellum. If you want peace, prepare for war. Or, as George Washington said, “To be ready for war is one of the most effective means of keeping the peace.” Reagan invoked Washington’s words during the 1980s. Throughout that decade, even though liberals (and Ron Paul) were fighting tooth and nail every day against his defense budgets and defense policies, Reagan held firm and frequently spoke in defense of a strong defense and In Defense of Defense Spending, which is the title of my book on the subject. The Congress, including Ron Paul, repeatedly called on Reagan to cut defense spending as a means of balancing the budget, but he continually refused. At least twice, he delivered nationally-televised speeches to the public about why his defense budgets were necessary and why it would have been foolish to cut them. He explained, in simple terms that everyone could understand, why robust funding was necessary to rebuild the US military and counter America’s enemies. He countered anti-defense propaganda. He and his administration’s officials did, with words and deeds, more for the cause of a strong defense than anyone else during the last 50 years.

Indeed, Reagan has set the bar very high, and I’m badly disappointed that there is no Reagan now to fight for the cause of a strong defense and against defense cuts. Maybe Sarah Palin will do that, if she jumps into the race. Her foreign policy opinions are actually closest to Reagan’s, compared to all other candidates.

And what about the INF Treaty?

Throughout the 1980s, the US demanded the removal of Soviet IRBMs from the European continent and the signing of a verifiable INF Treaty. However, since 1983, the Soviet Union was placing an unreasonable condition: cancelling the SDI. The 1985 and 1986 American-Soviet summits ended with nothing because Reagan refused to give up the SDI. Liberals blamed him. However, Reagan held firm, and eventually the INF Treaty was signed (in 1987) WITHOUT a cancellation or even a slow-down of the SDI. In other words, Reagan won, and Gorbachev lost. The Soviet Union got NOTHING. The Treaty only ordered the elimination of all American and Soviet IRBMs. It did not say anything about the SDI. And as a result of that treaty, the USSR had to dismantle twice as many missiles as the US.

Compare that record to that of Obama, who sold missile defense to Russia in 2010 in return for a New START treaty unfavorable to the US.

Yes, a few conservatives denounced Reagan as an appeaser, but I don’t think anyone makes these ridiculous claims now.

True, he would’ve probably opposed the Iraqi and Libyan wars as well. Two of his most important Cold War era allies, William Buckley and General William Odom, opposed the Iraqi war. But the Iraqi and Libyan wars are hardly the only disagreements Ron Paul has with mainstream Republicans on the issue of foreign policy.

So, in short, Ron Paul’s foreign policy is the OPPOSITE of Reagan’s. Ronald Reagan never supported, and would have never supported if he were alive today, a policy of defense cuts, withdrawal from the world, isolationism, and appeasement. Reagan supported a strong defense, defending America’s loyal allies, standing up to America’s enemies, both Communist and Islamist, and intervening military abroad when (albeit ONLY when) necessary.

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

Fareed Zakaria’s blatant lies about defense spending

Posted by zbigniewmazurak on August 5, 2011


The Washington Compost has recently shown once again why I don’t read it. In an article published in the Compost and reproduced at RealClearWorld, Fareek Zakaria rails against defense spending, calling on it to be radically reduced. His article, titled “Why U.S. Defense Spending should be cut”, starts thus:

“The scary aspect of the debt deal meant to force all of Washington to its senses is the threatened cut to defense spending. If the congressional “super-committee” cannot agree on cutbacks of $1.5 trillion, the guillotine will fall and half of those cuts will have to come from expenditures on national security. As with so much Washington accounting, there is lots of ambiguity in baselines and terms (for instance, what is covered under “national security”?). Most experts estimate that the defense budget would lose $600 billion to $700 billion over the next 10 years. If so, let the guillotine fall. It would be a much-needed adjustment to an out-of-control military-industrial complex.”

See? Zakaria gleefully calls on the Congress to”let the guillotine fall”! He also lies that “It would be a much-needed adjustment to an out-of-control military-industrial complex.” That is a blatant lie, because there is no “military-industrial complex” in the US. The “military-industrial complex” is a popular leftist slogan designed to malign the military and the DOD. It’s a complete fiction designed to mislead people to believe that the only reason why US military spending is at its current level, or why the DOD maintains the weapon programs it currently maintains, is because of a conspiracy consisting of bankers and the defense industry which wants to maintain such programs and policies. It’s a blatant lie.

The claim that America’s defense establishment is “out of control” is also a blatant lie (just like the rest of Zakaria’s article). The DOD is run by civilians, reports to a civilian president, and is supervised by 6 civilian Congressional Committees, before which DOD officials must frequently testify under oath and face grilling. Defense spending constitutes a paltry 14.31% of the total federal budget (total military spending constitutes 19%) and a microscopic 3.5% of GDP (total military spending amounts to 4.6% of GDP). It’s hardly “out of control.”
Zakaria is totally ignorant about history and America’s defense spending, yet he lectures others about these subjects. Here’s the second paragraph of his screed:

“First, some history. The Pentagon’s budget has risen for 13 years, which is unprecedented. Between 2001 and 2009, overall spending on defense rose from $412 billion to $699 billion, a 70 percent increase, which is larger than in any comparable period since the Korean War. Including the supplementary spending on Iraq and Afghanistan, we spent $250 billion more than average U.S. defense expenditures during the Cold War — a time when the Soviet, Chinese and Eastern European militaries were arrayed against the United States and its allies. Over the past decade, when we had no serious national adversaries, U.S. defense spending has gone from about a third of total worldwide defense spending to 50 percent. In other words, we spend more on defense than the planet’s remaining countries put together.”

Learn some history yourself, Fareed. The DOD’s budget has NOT been rising for 13 years. From FY1998 to FY2001 it was flat, both in real terms and as a percentage of GDP. From FY2001 to FY2009, it did not rise from $412 bn to $699 bn. The FY2001 defense budget was $377 bn, not $412 bn. The FY2009 defense budget was $513 bn, plus another $100 bn for the GWOT, a total of $613 bn. This means a growth of 62%, and only if you including GWOT spending, which has nothing to do with providing for the common defense. In FY2010, defense spending increased only to $534 bn in 2009 dollars (roughly $550 bn in today’s money), plus another $130 bn for the GWOT, a total sum of $664 bn, and much less than what Robert Gates requested, which forced Gates to close over 30 weapon programs. Furthermore, what Zakaria has failed to mention was that the Bush defense spending hikes were done from the pathetically-low, vastly inadequate Clinton defense spending levels, which were totally inadequate, as testified in 2000 by the then Chairman of the JCS and all four Service Chiefs.

Zakaria also lied when he claimed that the US is spending more on defense than the rest of the world combined. This often-repeated myth was debunked by me several times, but I see that the anti-defense crowd continues to spout this gibberish nonetheless. Data for Calendar Year 2010 from the SIPRI indicates that the next 21 countries combined, from China to Taiwan, spend MORE on their militaries than the US does, and that the US is responsible only for 43% of the world’s total military spending, not “over 50%”. And that’s only if you accept the understated military spending figures for China and Russia – if you don’t, America’s share of the global pie is even smaller. Zakaria also lied when he claimed that Ronald Reagan “scaled back his military spending” during the 1980s. Reagan never cut, or proposed to cut, defense spending; every annual defense budget he proposed was bigger than the one he proposed the previous year, which means that he proposed defense spending hikes every year. He also spoke out against defense spending cuts throughout his tenure as President and even afterwards. When, in 1988, the Congress cut the defense budget, Reagan vetoed those cuts.

Zakaria also lied that if President Obama were to cut defense spending as badly as Presidents Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush I, and Clinton did, defense spending would still be higher than it was under all of these Presidents, which is a blatant lie, because if cuts on the scale Zakaria mentioned (27% under Eisenhower, 29% under Nixon, over 35% under Bush the Elder and Clinton) are to be implemented, defense spending would be lower than it was under these Presidents, and if the DOD was to have its budget cut to the Bush or Clinton levels, it would be smaller than it was under Eisenhower or Nixon (let alone Reagan). The fact of the matter is that no matter what measure you use, defense spending was HIGHER under Ronald Reagan than it is today, and if you use a relevant measure (percentage of GDP, percentage of the discretionary budget, or percentage of the total federal budget), defense spending is currently LOWER than it was throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948, when it amounted to 3.5% of GDP, exactly as much as today.

Zakaria also failed to mention the fact that all of those defense spending cuts (under Eisenhower, Nixon, Bush I, and Clinton) significantly weakened the US military, imperiled America, and emboldened America’s adversaries, as confirmed by General Ridgway (who resigned over a conflict with SECDEF Charles Wilson), General Vandenberg, Clinton’s own Joint Chiefs of Staff, the service chiefs of the late 1970s and the 1980s (e.g. General Edward C. Meyer), the GlobalSecurity.org portal, and Secretary Gates, who called the 1970s “a disastrous period for our military”. So those “historical precedents” were actually foolish mistakes that America should never repeat.

Zakaria approvingly says that:

“The Bowles-Simpson commission’s plan proposed $750 billion in defense cuts over 10 years. Lawrence Korb, who worked at the Pentagon for Ronald Reagan, believes that a $1 trillion cut over 10 to 12 years is feasible without compromising national security.”

Again, he’s wrong. Firstly, the Bowles-Simpson commission, which completely disregarded America’s defense needs, proposed defense cuts to the tune of $1 TRILLION, not $750 bn, over 10 years. Lawrence Korb is an utterly discredited anti-defense propagandist who works at the extremely-liberal Center for American Progress, an anti-American institution founded by George Soros, who has publicly stated that he wants to “cut America down to size”. Korb is simply doing Soros’s bidding. His claim that defense spending can be cut by $1 trillion over 10-12 years without imperiling America is ridiculous and false. It would mean a dramatic reduction of the force structure, a lack of spare parts, and cancelling modernization, all of which would gravely imperil the US.

The four Vice Service Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense (Leon Panetta), and President Obama’s own JCS Chairman nomineee have all warned the Congress against defense cuts of a much smaller scale (cuts over $400 bn, including the $600 bn cuts that the sequester mechanism would make). All of them believe, as do many other experts (including President Reagan’s former Assistant SECDEF Frank J. Gaffney and Heritage Foundation experts), that cuts of such a magnitude would severely weaken the US military and gravely imperil the US. So, whom should the American people believe? The four Service Vice Chiefs, the Secretary of Defense, and Obama’s own nominee for Chairman of the JCS, or an utterly discredited, extremely liberal, irredeemably biased Washington Compost columnist?

The next part of Zakaria’s screed is downright laughable. As a fierce proponent of socialism, a cradle-to-grave welfare state, and unlimited government, Zakaria now lectures us conservatives about the size of the federal government, its role, and defense spending! He says:

“Serious conservatives should examine the defense budget, which contains tons of evidence of liberalism run amok that they usually decry. Most talk of waste, fraud and abuse in government is vastly exaggerated; there simply isn’t enough money in discretionary spending. Most of the federal government’s spending is transfer payments and tax expenditures, which are — whatever their merits — highly efficient at funneling money to their beneficiaries. The exception is defense, a cradle-to-grave system of housing, subsidies, cost-plus procurement, early retirement and lifetime pension and health-care guarantees. There is so much overlap among the military services, so much duplication and so much waste that no one bothers to defend it anymore. Today, the U.S. defense establishment is the world’s largest socialist economy.”

That’s total garbage. Defense spending constitutes less than half of total discretionary spending. There is plenty of wasteful, fraudful, and abusive expenditures both in the defense budget and in the nondefense discretionary budget. His claim that the DOD is the only wasteful agency of the federal government and is extraordinarily wasteful, while all other agencies are immune to large-scale wasteful expenditures, is laughable, ridiculous, and wrong. Moreover, he’s vastly exaggerating the scale of “overlap, duplication, and waste” in the DOD, just like every opponent of defense spending and a strong defense. For him, the DHHS, the DHUD, et al. are immune to the waste/fraud/abuse epidemic plaguing the entire federal government. In his fantasy world, only the DOD wastes any significant amounts of taxpayers’ money. As for “overlap and duplication”, this is only a small-scale problem. Each military service has its own distinct responsibilities and its own weapon programs. That is not to say that more progress in that regard could not be made. It could. But the scale of the problem was vastly exaggerated by Zakaria.

Earlier this year, the GAO looked at the entire federal government and found wasteful and duplicative programs costing up to $200 bn per year across the entire federal government, most of it NOT in the DOD. So, there are significant wasteful expenditures in the budget of every federal agency, not just the DOD. The claim that the DOD is the only serious federal money-waster is a blatant lie which shows how biased against the DOD Zakaria is. For him and other anti-defense liberals, only the DOD wastes money.

Zakaria claims that most of the federal government’s expenditures are “transfers of payments and tax expenditures”, a liberal codeword for “redistribution of wealth from those who earned it to those who did not and low tax rates”. This phrase again betrays his extremely liberal beliefs. Low tax rates don’t cost the federal government money, they are more efficient at raising revenue than high tax rates, and this is taxpayers’ money to start with. As for “transfers of payments”, they essentially amount to a confiscation of wealth from productive people and giving it to people who didn’t earn that wealth. Zakaria falsely claims that “[they] are — whatever their merits — highly efficient at funneling money to their beneficiaries.” But this is a blatant lie. All agencies of the federal government, including the SSA and the DHHS (which administers the Medicare and Medicaid programs), are riddled with wasteful, fraudful, and abusive expenditures. There is proof: former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, who knows more about balancing budgets than Zakaria does, has found fraudful payments (to conmen) to the tune of $180 bn per year from the Medicare and Medicaid programs: $60 bn per year from the former and $120 bn per year from the latter.

Moreover, Zakaria has conveniently omitted the fact that “transfer payments” are unconstitutional and intrinsically immoral. There is NO constitutional authorization for any “transfer payments”. The Constitution does not list such a prerogative, and under the 10th Amendment, anything not explicitly authorized to the federal government is prohibited to it. (Before someone invokes the “general welfare clause”: that clause is, as explained by James Madison, only a generalism followed by a semicolon and then followed by a detailed listing of Congressional prerogatives and therefore it does not, by itself, grant any prerogatives to anyone.) It is also immoral to steal wealth from someone who earned it and transfer it to someone who did not earn it. On the other hand, defense is a Constitutional DUTY of the federal government and is morally right – America has the right to defend itself.

Zakaria also lied that “the US defense establishment is the world’s largest socialist economy.” Firstly, the DOD’s benefits are not socialist. They are accorded exclusively to people who earned it with their blood. They deserve these benefits (although their cost needs to be reduced). Secondly, the world’s largest socialist economy is the federal government’s troika of entitlement programs. The SS program alone is larger than the entire annual military budget of the United States.

Zakaria then betrayed the real reasons why he wants defense spending to be radically cut: so that the US will retrench behind oceans, dramatically curtain its role and its influence in the world, and isolate itself from the rest of the world. He also lied by claiming that the US has “a warped foreign policy”. Here’s the last part of his ridiculous screed:

“Defense budget cuts would also force a healthy rebalancing of American foreign policy. Since the Cold War, Congress has tended to fatten the Pentagon while starving foreign policy agencies. As former defense secretary Robert Gates pointed out, there are more members of military marching bands than make up the entire U.S. foreign service. Anyone who has ever watched American foreign policy on the ground has seen this imbalance play out. Top State Department officials seeking to negotiate vital matters arrive without aides and bedraggled after a 14-hour flight in coach. Their military counterparts whisk in on a fleet of planes, with dozens of aides and pots of money to dispense. The late Richard Holbrooke would laugh when media accounts described him as the “civilian counterpart” to Gen. David Petraeus, then head of U.S. Central Command. “He has many more planes than I have cellphones,” Holbrooke would say (and he had many cellphones).The result is a warped American foreign policy, ready to conceive of problems in military terms and present a ready military solution. Describing precisely this phenomenon, Eisenhower remarked that to a man with a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. In his often-quoted farewell address, Eisenhower urged a balance between military and non-military spending. Unfortunately, it has become far more unbalanced in the decades since his speech.”

This is utter gibberish. From the end of the Cold War until 2001, defense spending was being constantly CUT and then, from FY1998 to FY2001, it remained flat in real terms. From FY2001 to FY2009, the budgets of both the DOD and the DOS were significantly increased. Under President Obama, defense spending has been cut by $439 bn, while the budget of the DOS has more than doubled. These days, an average American diplomat spends $600 a day on one lunch or dinner. The DOS and its employees are hardly starving.

DOS employees, up to and including Secretary Clinton, are frequently provided transportation by the same military whose budget Zakaria wants to see cut. The USAF’s 89th Airlift Wing provides various aircraft to DOS officials travelling abroad, including B757 planes. As for General Petraeus having more planes than Holbrooke had cellphones, what exactly would the DOS need those planes for? The DOD needed them to fight the war it was ordered to fight.

The idea that a wasteful department which does nothing other than appeasing America’s enemies, issuing visas to terrorists , and negotiating treaties deeply unfavorable to the US, should receive the same priority status and the same funding as the DOD, is ridiculous and wrong.

Zakaria also refuses to recognize the fact that a strong military second to none is a precondition to being able to negotiate from a position of strength and achieve results favorable to the US. You can’t have a successful foreign policy and produce results beneficial to the US if you don’t have a strong military. Ronald Reagan, whom Zakaria cited two times in his article, recognized that fact. Zakaria refuses to recognize it.

Zakaria’s claims of “a warped American foreign policy” are not only false, but also insulting. If America’s foreign policy is so warped and so militarized, then why did the DOD and its then-leader, Robert Gates, staunchly oppose Obama’s Libyan intervention, and why did the Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton, argue for it? Why did Donald Rumsfeld warn the Bush Administration against doing nationbuilding in Afghanistan and Iraq, and why was he overruled by Colin Powell and Condi Rice (and ultimately by President Bush)?

Because Zakaria is lying.

His screed ends with an invocation of President Eisenhower warning against “the military-industrial complex” and a claim that he called for “balance between military and nonmilitary spending” in his farewell address. While he did warn against the MIC, the claim that he called for “balance between military and nonmilitary spending” is a blatant lie, as is the claim that “it has become even more unbalanced in the decades since his speech.”

Firstly, America’s federal budget is not tilted in favor of the military and is not biased or “unbalanced” in favor of the military. The truth is the exact opposite. During Eisenhower’s time and during the 1960s, defense spending accounted for half of all federal expenditures. Since FY1970, however, it has declined below that level and has never recovered. Today, America’s total military budget constitutes less than 19% of the total federal budget, and this share has been this low for two decades now. So 81% of the total federal budget is nowadays consumed by civilian spending. Even under President Reagan, defense spending never constituted more than 27% of the total federal budget. Nowadays, total military spending constitutes less than 19% of the total federal budget.

As for what President Eisenhower said, here’s what he REALLY said. Read it yourself. He never called for parity between military and nonmilitary spending:

Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Of course, Zakaria, like all other opponents of a strong defense, has chosen to ignore those parts of Eisenhower’s Farewell Address that don’t suit his anti-defense screed and his extremely liberal beliefs, for example, this one:

A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. Our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no potential aggressor may be tempted to risk his own destruction.”

That was necessary then, and it’s necessary today, as America confronts several dangerous enemies, including China, Russia (run by a viciously anti-American KGB thug), North Korea, Iran, Venezuela, Al-Qaeda, and Hezbollah.

Therefore, America must never gut its defense. A line must be drawn in the sand. No further defense spending cuts should be made. Defense spending did not cause America’s fiscal problems, and cutting it won’t solve them. Time to cut the expenditures that are really burying America under a mountain of debt: spending on the welfare state.

For another rebuttal of Zakaria’s screed, see http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/273634/superior-defense-brian-stewart

URLs:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-defense-spending-should-be-cut/2011/08/03/gIQAsRuqsI_story.html

http://www.realclearworld.com/2011/08/04/why_us_defense_spending_should_be_cut_126288.html

http://www.americanrhetoric.com/speeches/dwightdeisenhowerfarewell.html

 

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

 
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 401 other followers