Bruce Fein caught lying about defense spending (and other issues) again

Here’s yet another litany of blatant lies by Bruce Fein. One would expect that after he utterly discredited himself with his previous screed, and after I thoroughly debunked it on the website and on my blog, he would’ve learned something and would’ve shut his mouth. Well, guess what? He’s back, again ranting against the nonexistent American empire.

“The defense of an annual $1.2 trillion bloated national security budget mounted by Jamie Fly and Robert Zarate (9/29/11) was reminiscent of a dog walking on its hind legs. It was not done well; but it was surprising to see it done at all. The two do not dispute the $1.2 trillion waste.”

But I do – because that claim, like every other claim made in that article by Fein, is a blatant lie. It was concocted by taking numbers from the President’s FY2012 budget request, summing up the budget toplines for all agencies related to “national security” functions, as well as agencies completely unrelated to it (the Department of Veterans’ Affairs, which pays for veterans’ pensions and HC programs, and debt interest payments, which have nothing to do with the military or “national security spending). THAT is how Fein got his false $1.2 trillion figure – by looking at the rejected-by-Congress presidential budget request, adding up the budget numbers for dozens of unrelated “national security agencies” and then adding to them the budget request of the DVA and annual debt interest payments. In other words, his $1.2 trillion per year figure is FALSE.

BTW, Fein needs to decide what is he going to talk about – the military budget or broader spending on “national security agencies”. The two terms are not the same. The military budget is the budget of the US military, i.e. spending on the DOD and on the DOE’s nuclear weapon programs. Fein is apparently deliberately trying to lump various unrelated “national security agencies” together and blame all of this spending on the US military.

His claim that the entire expenditure on national security is “waste” is also false. And that’s why Fein has no proof to back it up – because it doesn’t exist. There is some waste in the budget of every government agency in the US (and in every other country), including the DOD, but the claim that 100% (or even most) of the military budget is “waste” is unproven, unplausible, and false.

“Nor do they deny that the sum equals or exceeds the collective military spending of the rest of the world, accounts for approximately one-third of federal government expenditures and equals the current federal budget deficit.”

They do not, but I do, because that claim is also a blatant lie. The $1.2 trillion sum is false, as stated above. According to SIPRI, in calendar year 2010 America was responsible for only 42.8% of global military spending. The FY2011 military budget of the United States was $688 bn; in FY2012, it’s $644.675 bn (631 bn for the DOD + 15.675 bn for military programs at the DOE). And remember that SIPRI didn’t even account for the PPP differences between the US and developing countries like China and Russia.

The US military budget amounts to less than 19% of the total federal budget and just 4.4% of America’s GDP. It amounts to less than half of the annual federal budget deficit. Even Fein’s false, cooked up $1.2 trillion sum, if it were correct (which it isn’t), doesn’t equal the annual federal budget deficit, which is $1.5 trillion.
Furthermore, Fein falsely claimed that:

“Ron Paul would transition quickly to ending all entitlement programs. But he would also cease wasting trillions of dollars annually on maintaining and expanding an American Empire.”

Yet, as has been proven above, the US doesn’t spend even close to one trillion, let alone trillions, annually on its military. As for Fein’s repeated claim that America is an empire – it is also a blatant lie. The US is a Republic, not an Empire. America is a country which liberates other countries and defends them against wannabe aggressors. American troops are liberators, not legionists of an empire. American bases abroad are defensive installations, not outposts of an empire. As former Senator and Governor Zell Miller of Georgia (himself a retired Marine) rightly said:

“No one should dare to even THINK about being the Commander in Chief of this country if he doesn’t believe with all his heart that are soldiers are liberators abroad and defenders of freedom at home.”

The US has conquered, throughout the last century, just barely enough land to bury its war dead. Empires do not behave in such a manner.

Moreover, Ron Paul has already stated multiple times that he would preserve entitlements, and during the NH GOP primary debate (the second debate of this season), Paul even called for massive military spending cuts and for this money to be ploughed into entitlement programs. In other words, he has called for a massive expansion of entitlement programs.

Fein also lied that:

“The perpetual and global warfare keenly relished by Fly and Zarate is making Americans less safe by creating more enemies than are destroyed.”

This claim is also utterly false. What did the US do to earn the enmity of Russia, China, North Korea, Venezuela, or Syria? Defend South Korea against its aggressive neigbhor? Sell weapons to Taiwan for it to defend itself (in line with the CATO Institute’s recommendations)? As for Islamists, they have been waging a war (jihad) against the West for many centuries, and the US did nothing to earn their enmity. Just like Britain, Spain, France, Australia, and Indonesia (a Muslim country) did nothing to earn their enmity, yet suffered terrorist attacks (or attempts of terrorist attacks) on their soil. Anyone who has read the Quran knows that it commands Muslims to wage war against all non-Muslims. But Fein and Paul think that Americans somehow travelled back in time and caused the Muslims to write the hateful verses of the Quran. Also, Fein’s claim that Jamie Fly and Robert Zarate support “perpetual warfare” is an unproven lie; Fly and Zarate have never said anything like that.

Fein has also falsely claimed that the Founding Fathers’ creed was “Millions for defense, but not one cent for Empire.” That is also a blatant lie. No Founding Father ever said that (and none of them even dreamt of an empire). The phrase that Fein has falsified was actually “Millions for defense, not one cent for ransom”, referring to the ransom demanded by the Barbary Pirates, whom President Jefferson fought militarily without Congressional authorization.

Fein also falsely and despicably labeled the US military as a danger to Americans’ civil liberties, i.e. a domestic threat. That is also a blatant lie. He invoked James Madison:

“The means of defence agst. foreign danger, have been always the instruments of tyranny at home.”

Madison was, of course, an opponent of standing armies before the war of 1812. But, as his Wikipedia biography notes, he later became a supporter of a strong military. Moreover, one must consider the times when he lived. He grew up in the 18th century and was President from 1809 to 1817, when most Americans (and most Britons) regarded standing land armies as threats to civil liberties and civilian government. It was one thing for Madison to say something like that in the early days of the Republic. It is quite another for Fein to invoke these words two centuries later, out of context. The only thing this quote proves is that Fein is desperate to find ANY pretext for massive defense cuts.

And since Fein likes to invoke the Founding Fathers, here is an admonition from the Father of the United States, George Washington: “To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of keeping the peace.”

With all due respect to James Madison, he knew nothing about military affairs, about which Washington (a professional military officer) was expert.

Fein decries the killings of “American citizens” (specifically, terrorists with American passports like Anwar al-Awlaki) without “due process”, but neglects to mention that during the Revolutionary War, Washington executed many of his soldiers without “due process”, and that al-Awlaki was a birthright citizen, and was no more an American than the anchor babies born in the US to illegal immigrants.

Desperate to find any excuse for defense cuts and to slander Fly and Zarate, Fein accused them of writing things they had not claimed, inter alia, that:

“Aping the Romans, Fly and Zarate inflate danger from abroad logarithmically to justify permanent global warfare, crippling individual liberties and the right to be left alone. They condone spending $1.2 trillion annually to subsidize the military-industrial complex denounced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower — a national security version of TARP. The two deliriously insinuate that a handful of al Qaida associates in South Asia, the Arabian Peninsula and Africa would commence war against the United States if all our troops and weapons abroad were re-deployed to defend our borders and were equipped and pledged to incinerate any aggressor. They hysterically suggest that North Korea, Iran and Syria would launch military attacks against the United States if the American Empire were abandoned in favor of an American Republic fiercely committed to defending American lives in lieu of the lives of Afghans, Libyans, Iraqis, Yemenis and others who have no allegiance to the United States. They preposterously suggest that Russia and China are strong candidates for invading and overthrowing the Government of the United States.”

This is a blatant lie. Fly and Zarate never claimed this; they claimed that Russia and China are (and will) remain military peer competitors of the US and will, like North Korea, Iran, and Syria, attempt to harm American interests and allies abroad. Never did they claim, however, that they plan to attack the United States proper.

The one making ridiculous claims here is Fein, not Fly and Zarate.

As stated above, the $1.2 trillion per year sum is completely false, regardless of whether Fein attributes it to the US military or the broader “national security establishment”. The claim that this is a mere subsidy to the mythical “military industrial complex” (by the way, why are weaponmakers so way down on the Fortune 500 list of companies?) is also a blatant lie. As for Dwight Eisenhower, when he delivered his Farewell Address, military spending amounted to 10% of GDP and consumed half of the entire federal budget and 70% of the discretionary budget. By contrast, today it amounts to 4.4% of GDP and less than 19% of the total federal budget. Furthermore, Eisenhower is another example of a person that Fein quotes selectively, cherry-picking only the small pieces that are convenient for him. In the same Farewell Address, Eisenhower warned that “our arms must be might, ready for constant action, so that no aggressor will risk his own destruction.”

Fein falsely claims that under Ron Paul, we would see what would happen “if all our troops and weapons abroad were re-deployed to defend our borders and were equipped and pledged to incinerate any aggressor.” Yet, that is not what Fein and Paul intend for the US military. The defense cuts that they have both called for (Ron Paul in various statements and in the legislation cosponsored with Barney Frank last year, and Fein in his previous article) would render the US military completely decrepit and impotent, unable to defend even US soil. Recall that in his previous screed, Fein called for a “national security budget” of no more than $300 bn per year (i.e. smaller than it was even during the Clinton era). Even assuming  that this entire sum would be reserved for the military (i.e. no Department of State, no USCIS, no CBP, no ICE, no Coast Guard, no FBI, no DVA), that would be barely enough to pay for its personnel and for maintenance programs, with just $6.5 bn left for everything else (weapon purchases, weapon RnD, revolving and mgmt funds, health programs, etc.). That’s not enough to even sustain the Navy’s current shipbuilding program, let alone to pay for all of these categories of defense spending, all of which are necessary. This would also render the US defense budget smaller than China’s if PPP differences are taken into account.

Fein and Paul clearly don’t want the US military to be “equipped and pledged to defeat any aggressor” – they want it to be unable to defeat any aggressor at all.

And BTW, there are already al-Qaeda and Hezbollah cells in the US. These and other terrorist organizations will continue to wage war against the US and other Western countries regardless of whether the US will have any troops deployed abroad or not.

Fein and Paul ridiculously claim that America can be safe if it just retrenches behind its borders and behind oceans, just like in the 18th century, when America was protected by two oceans and coastal forts. That is a laughable, ridiculous, and dangerous policy. It is completely unfit for today’s time and today’s world, where America’s enemies possess ICBMs, SLBMs, long-range submarines, aircraft carriers (e.g. the Kuznetsov and the Shi Lang), cyberweapons, anti-ship weapons, intercontinental bombers, anti-satellite weapons, and nuclear weapons. Even one nuclear warhead, delivered by a ballistic missile and detonated above the US, would cripple this country by completely disabling its electrical network and all electrical devices in the US with the EMP blast it would cause. And let’s not forget that oil-revenue-fueled Russia and prosperous China plan to build carrier fleets of their own.

Moreover, it is ridiculous that the US can be safe if it just abandons its allies and retrenches behind oceans. A North Korean or Chinese blackmail of (or attack on) South Korea or Japan, two crucial trade partners of the US, would have devastating effect on the US economy and greatly reduce US influence in the world. A nuclear arms race in the Middle East would be catastrophic for the entire world. That is something that Fein and Paul are unable to understand.

Last but not least, Fein’s dismissal of the military capabilities of Russia and China was ridiculous and again proved that Fein knows absolutely nothing about defense and foreign policy issues. China is already on par with the US militarily, as proven by both the latest DOD report on the PLA and numerous other sources. According to the 2011 DOD report, China is rapidly closing the gap with the US and has fielded many weapon systems that pose a threat to the US itself, such as DF-21D ASBMs. And if anyone thinks that this is just the “military-industrial complex” trying to justify itself, note that independent experts on China say that this DOD report actually UNDERSTATES the Chinese threat. China now has 75 ICBMs, 67-75 submarines of various types, a prototype 5th generation stealth fighterplane, IRBMs, ASBMs, and even an aircraft carrier, the Shi Lang. Moreover, China has built an impressive network of access-denial weapons that can deny the US access to any area (including any sea) in the Western Pacific up to the second island chain, including Guam. Russia is not yet on par with the US in nonnuclear weapons, but it is making significant progress closely with modern fighterplanes, SAMs, and submarines, has strategic nuclear weapons parity with the US under the New START, and has a huge advantage over the US in tactical nuclear weapons. It has also decisively (and brutally) defeated both the Chechens and the Georgians, contrary to Fein’s claim. For Fein to dismiss these peer competitors lightheartedly is downright ridiculous and proves that he knows nothing about defense and foreign policy issues.

And, contrary to Fein’s claims, Russia and China do have allies. Russia has Belarus and Ukraine, as well as Iran, Syria, and certain former Asian republics of the USSR. China has not only North Korea, but also Pakistan, and is making inroads elsewhere. It is also trying to flood Nepal with Maoists and building highways towards India, in preparation for aggression against that country.

Fein has also again resorted to slandering Fly and Zarate with these blatant lies:

“In sum, their allegiance is not to the United States, but to world government with the United States sitting on a global throne. They would have defended King George III in the Revolutionary War, not George Washington. For them to malign Ron Paul as unfit to serve as commander in chief because of his unwavering commitment to an invincible defense of America and repudiation of empire betrays insolence, impertinence and infidelity to the Founding Fathers and the Constitution.”

This accusation is completely unfounded; Fly and Zarate do not owe allegiance to any “world government”, and as for George Washington, it is Paul and Fein who have turned his back on him and his call for a strong military (“To be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of keeping the peace”), and for them to claim that Fly and Zarate would’ve been fighting against Washington in the Revolutionary War is false and ludicrous. As for Ron Paul’s supposed “unwavering commitment to an invincible defense of America”, Paul has never given any indication or proof of such a commitment. On the contrary, he has repeatedly proven that he is adamantly and ideologically opposed to a strong military, even if it were tasked with defending only US soil. One has to look no further than the “recommendations” of defense cuts he and Barney Frank made last year, and his call for massive defense cuts during the NH GOP primary debate.

As for “fidelity to the US Constitution”, it is Fein and Paul who are unfaithful to it. Fly and Zarate (who do not condone indefinite detentions of American citizens, BTW) are faithful to the Supreme Law. The Constitution says that providing for the defense of the country is a legitimate Constitutional function, and even a Constitutional DUTY, and that the need to “provide for the common defense” was one of the reasons why the Constitution was written, and the federal government was established, in the first place. Yet, Fein and Paul want the Fed. Govt. to renege on that duty. They don’t even recognize that as a duty – they call it “waste” and “subsidies for the military-industrial complex”. They don’t believe that the Federal Government has a duty to protect America.

Ron Paul opposes a strong military categorically, as does Fein. They also both do not understand that it is no longer possible to defend the US from trenches behind US borders, because the threats to the US are not limited to America’s borders. We’re not living in the 18th century, we’re living in the 21st century, when one nuclear weapon, delivered by one ballistic missile, detonated above the US can cripple the entire country. Russia has 800 intercontinental nuclear weapon delivery systems, and China has 75 ICBMs and 5 SSBs.

I’ll end this article thus: if Bruce Fein or Ron Paul really believe in what they say, I hereby challenge them to a one-on-one debate. Anytime, anyplace. I’m prepared to debate either of them. I’m not afraid of debating them. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I can debate them anytime, anyplace. But I’m sure neither of these two cowards will accept my challenge.

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