Seldom do I agree with Bob Gates, but there are a few issues I agree with him on. And one of those is that, given the present threat environment and the multiple enemies of the United States, it would be unwise for America to reduce its defense budget. During this week, Robert Gates said so several times. During his speech to the MMA, he remarked that:
“A line I invoke time and again is that experience is the ability to recognize a mistake when you make it again. Four times in the last century the United States has come to the end of a war, concluded that the nature of man and the world had changed for the better, and turned inward, unilaterally disarming and dismantling institutions important to our national security – in the process, giving ourselves a “peace” dividend. Four times we chose to forget history. Four times we have had to rebuild and rearm, at huge cost in blood and treasure. After September 11th, the United States re-armed and again strengthened our intelligence capabilities. It will be critically important to sustain those capabilities in the future – it will be critically important not to make the same mistake a fifth time.”
Earlier, during a Pentagon press briefing, Bob Gates said that:
“(…) my greatest fear is that in economic tough times that people will see the defense budget as the place to solve the nation’s deficit problems, to find money for other parts of the government. (…)
And as I look around the world and see a more unstable world, more failed and failing states, countries that are investing heavily in their militaries — as I look at places like Iran and North Korea and elsewhere around the world — as I look at the new kinds of threats emerging from cyber to precision ballistic and cruise missiles and so on — my greatest worry is that we will do to the defense budget what we have done four times before.
And that is, slash it in an effort to find some kind of a dividend to put the money someplace else. I think that would be disastrous in the world environment we see today and what we’re likely to see in the years to come.”
And that is true. Defense spending cuts would be disastrous and bad; and America has committed such a mistake 4 times already since the end of WW2: after WW2, after the Korean War, after the Vietnamese War, and after the Cold War. Each time America did so, it unilaterally disarmed itself while its enemies, such as the Soviet Union, Communist China and North Korea, were arming themselves to the teeth.
The Congress should not make such a mistake, regardless of what the political, irredeemably biased, military-loathing Presidential Deficit Reduction Commission recommends.