The lies of Marcy Kaptur on and the mistaken “defense must be on the table” premise

The left-wing website has recently published several opinion pieces on defense spending written by several members of Congress. Unfortunately, all of these opinion pieces are, to various degrees, wrong, and – as you might guess – written by very opinionated people.

There is, however, a difference between them.

The only error (albeit a big one) made by Sen. Lindsay Graham (R-SC) and HAC Chairman Bill Young (R-FL) in their respective opinion articles is that they, like almost all other members of Congress, have accepted the false premise that “defense spending has to be on the table” and that the US supposedly cannot solve its fiscal problems without including defense in talks and cutting defense spending. Graham even ridiculously claims in the title of his opinion piece that “the military can do more with less”.

Other than that, however, what Graham and Young wrote makes sense. Certain savings can be made (albeit they must be reinvested in military capabilities), and Graham has outlined ways to make them. Furthermore, Graham and Young are very clear about the need of avoiding cuts to the “muscle” of the US military – the tail. Furthermore, Young warns that:

“While nothing has changed over the past two years in relation to the threats to our national security or the continuing degradation of our military equipment from the 10-year global war on terrorism, our national defense budget faces a 25 percent cut should the supercommittee fail to reach an agreement. These arbitrary cuts are not based in reality, given the underlying threats to our nation and our military’s ability to counter them — threats that can be determined only by maintaining the most effective and accurate intelligence programs. (…)

As chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, I will ensure the defense of our nation is based on the threats we face — not politics. We cannot allow our nation to repeat the mistakes from the past. (…)

Let’s make sure during this economic crisis — when every federal agency and every American is being asked to do more with less — we protect our nation smartly while recognizing the very real threats we face and not be influenced by political motives or concerns.”

Politico also links to a Denver Post article wherein military veteran Mike Coffman, the Representative for Colorado’s 6th Congressional District, outlines the three reforms he deems necessary to cut DOD spending without hurting the military: shifting from a COIN strategy to a counterterrorist strategy, closing foreign bases and bringing thousands of American troops home, and expanding the National Guard and Reserve to save personnel costs, which, as Coffman acknowledged, are eating the defense budget alive, to borrow words from former Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

“Former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates repeatedly warned Congress that if the trajectory of personnel costs continues to rise, it will crowd out the acquisition budget for weapons and equipment, ultimately running the risk of turning our military into a hollow force. Gates likened this situation to our European NATO allies who have the personnel but lack the necessary weapons and modern equipment to be an effective fighting force.

The best way to reduce personnel cost is to expand the size of the National Guard and Reserves in exchange for commensurate, conditions-based reductions in our active- duty components in order to achieve a significant cost savings.”

These three members of Congress have clearly done some hard thinking about how to reform the DOD without harming the US military. It’s just too bad that they want the resulting savings to be used to pay for the budget deficit, instead of being reinvested in military capabilities, and that they’ve accepted the ridiculous “defense should not be exempt from budget cuts” principle.

But that’s my only beef with them.

Rep. Marcy Kaptur’s ridiculous screed on is, however, a completely different issue.

That entire screed is ridiculous and idiotic, as well as poisonous. Titled “Smart defense cuts possible”, it claims that “the US can retain it’s role as the world’s leader” while cutting the defense budget, and both of these claims are blatant lies. Smart defense cuts are not possible, because there is no such thing as “smart defense cuts”. It’s an oxymoron. ANY defense cuts hurt the military and make the country less safe, and therefore are dumb, not smart.

And the article is as dumb as its title suggests. Dumb, ridiculous, and wrong.

While paying lip service to the need for a strong defense and the principle that the US must have a strong military even during the present time of fiscal crisis, the article calls for numerous deep cuts that would, with one exception (the proposal to cut the cost of DOD contractors) dramatically weaken the US military and, as a result, make America much less safe.

Kaptur also makes false pretexts (lies) for defense spending cuts, claiming that

“We know that every dollar the U.S. has spent in Afghanistan and Iraq has been borrowed, adding $1.4 trillion to the national debt, or approximately 10 percent of its total.

No department has matched the growth of the Defense Department over the past decade. The defense budget, which totaled approximately $286 billion in 1999, now exceeds $700 billion, accounting for more than half of total global security spending.”

All of these false pretexts (claims) are blatant lies.

Firstly, it is not true that “every dollar spent in Afghanistan and Iraq has been borrowed”. Not even one dollar spent in Afghanistan and Iraq has been borrowed. The wars being waged in these countries are funded from federal tax revenue (which amounts to $2.2 trillion per year), not borrowed money. The US borrows money to fund its ever-growing welfare state, including entitlement programs (which already consume 63% of total federal spending), not the GWOT.

Secondly, the claim that the US defense budget amounts to “over $700 per year” is also false. The TOTAL US military budget actually amounts to $662 bn under the FY2012 CR (and will be reduced to ca. $644 bn if the Senate Appropriations Cmte. has its way). It consists of:

a) a core defense budget of $530 bn (which will be reduced to $513 bn if the SAC has its way);

b) a GWOT supplemental of $118 bn; and

c) a DOE defense activities budget of $14 bn.

In total, this amounts to $662 bn. Not even close to “over $700 bn”.

Thirdly, the claim that the US military budget amounts to “more than half” of the world’s military spending is a blatant lie. It actually amounts to 42%, according to the SIPRI.

Fourthly, the claim that the US defense budget was $286 bn in 1999 is also a lie, because that figure is in 1999 dollars, i.e. it is NOT adjusted for inflation, which erodes the value of the dollar over time. The value of the dollar has shrank significantly since 1999.

According to the DOL’s Inflation Calculator, $286 bn in 1999 dollars amounts to $389.50 bn in today’s money, which means that the defense budget was not as small as Kaptur claims.

Still, it was small, and what Kaptur conveniently neglected to mention, as a Democrat, is that it was dramatically inadequate, as was widely recognized by then by many members of Congress, think tank members, analysts, and the Joint Chiefs of Staff, who testified unanimously on the inadequacy of the Clinton defense budgets in 2000.

The FY1999 defense budget was wholly inadequate and is not a model for anything. It is not something worth returning to. The late 1990s were a nadir of the Clinton defense cuts. Comparing current defense spending levels to those of the late 1990s is like comparing America’s WW2 military to that of the Jefferson years.

The claim that the DOD’s budget’s growth over the last decade was huge and unprecedented and unrivalled by any other agency is also a blatant lie. The current core defense budget is $530 bn (under the CR). The FY1999 defense budget was, as stated earlier, $389.50 bn. The difference is $140.50 bn. In other words, the core defense budget has grown by only 36% since FY1999 – over 12 fiscal years.

The agency that has seen the biggest budget growth since FY1999 is the one that has currently has the biggest budget – the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which has an annual budget of almost $900 bn. The SSA had a budget of $730 bn last FY.

The proposals that Kaptur makes are, with only one exception, unacceptable, because they would all significantly weaken the military and and, as a result, make America dramatically less safe. Here they are, with my comments below each proposal:

“Cost overruns — Our subcommittee has taken the Pentagon to task over the 80-plus major weapons systems that are over budget. Moving forward, any program that fails to meet cost, production and quality goals is liable to have its funding cut, redirected or provided on a contingency basis.”

That would mean de facto termination (or a cut) of almost all DOD weapon programs. That absolute standard is an impossible standard to hold DOD programs (or any government programs) to. By the way, when is Kaptur and the rest of the Congress going to hold nondefense programs to the same standard? So far, defense programs are being held to an exceptionally high standard, higher than nondefense programs. The DOD has been singled out for disproportional treatment. Certain weapon programs are so important that they must be pursued regardless of the cost and the delays. The F-35 program is an example.

Instead of threatening to cut or cancel crucial modernization programs, the Congress and state legislatures should cut or cancel expensive domestic programs, such as high-speed-rail boondoggles, such as California’s HSR program, whose total cost has tripled and as a result, California taxpayers are now being asked to spend $100 bn on a project that will not see a single wheel turn for the next 22 years, if ever. (

“Contractors — I wrote in POLITICO in May that the DoD should rein in the overuse of military contractors. The budget impact is unconscionable: The DoD’s fiscal year 2012 budget proposed spending $87.6 billion on contracted services, a $23.7 billion (38 percent) increase from the previous year.”

This is the only savings proposal of Kaptur’s that I agree with. But the amount cited here pertains to the entire military budget, not just the core defense budget. Moreover, I believe that any savings made in the DOD (including savings on contractors) must be reinvested in the DOD.

“” Regarding Kaptur’s proposal to cut the nuclear arsenal:

This is ridiculous. America’s nuclear arsenal and the arsenal of strategic delivery systems is already underfunded, obsolete, degenerating, and too small. Yet, Kaptur wants to cut spending on it further. America’s nuclear arsenal should be increased, not cut. Moreover, it is so cheap to maintain that any cuts of it will yield only tiny, microscopic “savings”.


Rebuttal of 10 myths about defense spending

Several months ago, I published a blogpost refuting what I believe to be the 6 most common myths about defense spending. Since then, however, the opponents of a strong defense have intensified their efforts to mislead the American people about this subject, recycling old myths and inventing new ones, so I’ve decided to write this rebuttal of the 10 most common (as heard by me) myths about defense spending.

1) Myth: Defense spending is too high and bloated.

Fact: Defense spending is NOT “high” nor “bloated” by any honest stanard. The entire US military budget for FY2012 ($662 bn under the FY2012 National Defense Authorization Act, $633 bn under the FY2012 Defense Appropriations Act) amounts to just 19% of the total federal budget and a paltry 4.51% of GDP ($14.66 trillion according to the CIA World Factbook). Throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948, the US spent more on its military. The core defense budget, a $526 bn sum, amounts to less than 15% of the total federal budget and just 3.59% of GDP. Entitlements are by far the largest part of the federal budget, consuming 63% of it.

2) Myth: We must cut defense spending to balance the federal budget.

Fact: No. It is not necessary, and would be unwise, to do. Cutting defense spending would weaken the military while producing only tiny “savings” that would not erase more than a fraction of the budget deficit. Even eliminating all military spending entirely would not even halve the annual budget deficit (which is ca. $1.4 trillion per year).

The fact is that military spending is such a small portion of the federal budget (just 19%) that the budget can be balanced without cutting it. How? The Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation have both shown how. Both of them have devised budget proposals that would balance the federal budget by FY2020 without cutting defense spending by one dollar. (Last year, the Peter G. Peterson Foundation reviewed 6 different proposals to fix America’s debt problem at its 2011 Solutions Summit, and of all six proposals, the Heritage Foundation’s proposal reduces the national debt by the most and keeps federal spending and taxes at the lowest levels.) Moreover, GWOT spending is automatically scheduled to go down and eventually zero out when the last American troops return home from Afghanistan. So the claim that defense spending must be cut to balance the budget is a lie.

3) The US spends more on its military than the rest of the world combined, or almost as much.

Also wrong. According to the SIPRI, the US was, in FY/CY2011, responsible for only 42.8%-43% of the world’s total military spending – and that’s only if you accept SIPRI’s woefully understated estimates of China’s and Russia’s military budgets (which are significantly higher than what SIPRI, China, and Russia admit) at face value. (China’s real military budget in FY2011 was at least $150 bn.) Furthermore, according to the SIPRI, the 12 next countries on the list combined outspend the US.

4) Myth: We pay for the defense of Europe, Japan, and South Korea. If we were not defending these countries, we could afford to significantly cut our defense spending.

Fact: While the US does protect European countries (as well as helping Japan and South Korea defend themselves), it is not true that it could afford to significantly cut its defense spending if it were not defending foreign states. America spends as much on defense as she spends because the threats are so grave; America’s defense spending should be determied exclusively by the threats facing the US and its national interests. So even if the US were to defend only itself and leave all of its allies fending for themselves (a very foolish proposition) it would still need to spend as much on defense as it does now.

5) Myth: Our military budget is the biggest it has been since the end of WW2.

Fact: Only in raw dollar numbers, which are irrelevant, and only if the total military budget (including spending on Iraq, Afghanistan, and the DOE’s defense related programs) is counted. That’s $662 bn per the FY2012 NDAA. However, it amounts, as stated above, to just 4.51% of GDP (the CIA World Factbook says it’s actually just 4.07% of GDP) and just 19% of the total federal budget. Excluding the late 1990s, when it amounted to even less, this is the military’s smallest share of America’s GDP and of the total federal budget since FY1948. Throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948, and throughout the early 1990s, this share was higher. Furthermore, President Reagan’s last 3 defense budgets were also larger than the current total military budget on a per capita basis:

FY…….DOD budget ($ bn)…..US population (mn people)….DOD budget per capita ($)





As of the 1990 census, the population of the United States was 248 million people. As of the 2010 Census, the population of the country was 308 million people. All budget figures for this table are given in CY2012 dollars, having been converted to this value using the DOL’s inflation calculator.

Moreover, the core defense budget (i.e. the budget which pays for the day-to-day meintenance, feeding, housing, training, and equipping of the US military) is not the largest since WW2.

6) Myth: Defense spending is just another big government program, albeit one that is loved by Republicans.

Fact: Defense spending is NOT a Big Government program, nor is it anyone’s pet project, nor a contravention of the Limited Government Principle. On the contrary, according to conservative ideology, defense is a Constitutionally legitimate government function and indeed the #1 Constitutional DUTY of the federal government. The #1 reason for having a federal government at all is to have it defend the country and its citizens. The Preamble to the Supreme Law of the Land explains why the federal government was established in the first place:

We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

The Constitution not only authorizes a strong national defense (and consequently, robust funding for it), it REQUIRES it. Art. IV, Sec. 4 of the Constitution says as follows:

The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government, and shall protect each of them against Invasion…

As you can see, the Constitution not merely authorizes, it REQUIRES a strong defense and therefore any measures necessary to build it.

A key tenet – indeed, the overriding principle – of conservative philosophy is that we must obey the Constitution as it is written. We may not cherry-pick which parts of the Constitution we’re going to obey and which ones we won’t abide by. But that’s what Ron Paul and his minions (including Jack Hunter) are doing. They cherry-pick the Constitution and abide only by those party they like, while ignoring the ones they don’t like and pretending they don’t exist.

7) Myth: We can afford to cut defense spending significantly and still remain the world’s militarily strongest country.

Fact: This is completely wrong. No defense cuts, large or small, can be done without adverse consequences – and these consequences would be proportional to the cuts.  SmallSignificant defense cuts would significantly – deeply – weaken the military and potentially render it hollow. That is unavoidable. That’s because behind each defense cut hides a cut of the number of troops, weapon inventories, weapon programs, troop benefit programs, bases, operation & maintenance programs, training resources, or ROTC units.

8) Myth: There is no significant threat to the US at present.

Fact: There are several significant threats to America as of today. The biggest is Communist China, which is growing its nuclear weapons arsenal (and making its delivery systems more accurate, more survivable, and more numerous) and has accumulated a vast, impressive, diverse arsenal of anti-access/access-denial weapons which would prevent the US military from entering a certain geographic theater. With the second-largest economy in the world and a population of 1.2 billion people, China is a larger threat than the Soviet Union ever was. Then there is a resurgent and anti-American Russia, a nuclear-armed North Korea, an Iran racing to acquire nuclear weapons, Communist-governed Venezuela, and several terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, LET, the Haqqani network, Hezbollah, Hamas, and FARC.

9) Myth: Military spending mightly contributed to the current debt crisis.

Fact: No, it did not. Firstly, as stated above, total military spending amounts to just 19% of the total federal budget, while entitlements consume 63%. Military spending is too small to have caused thecurrent debt crisis. Secondly, the actual sphistory of spending growth over the last 1 years proves that it was civilian, not military, spending that caused the current debt crisis. The vast majority of the Bush-era spending increases went to civilian programs (79%), and only 21% of the spending increases enacted by President Bush went to the military. From FY2000 to FY2012, federal spending splurged from $2.384 T in today’s money ($1.766 T in FY2000/CY1999 dollars) to $3.8 T, i.e. by $1.416 trillion. At the same time, military spending has increased from $352 bn in today’s money ($261 bn in FY2000 dollars) to $662 bn today, i.e. by $310 bn. In other words, only 21.89% of that increase went to the military. From FY2001 to today, military spending has grown by $272 bn, from $390 bn (in today’s money; in FY2001/CY2000 dollars it was $297 bn) to $662 bn.

From FY2008 to FY2010, federal spending splurged, in FY2010 dollars, by $508 bn, from $2.983 trillion to $3.491 trillion. Meanwhile, the core defense budget (not counting spending on Afghanistan) increased by only $35.24 bn, from $506 bn in FY2008 to $542.76 in FY2010. (All figures stated in this paragraph are, unlike in other paragraphs, in FY2010 dollars.)

Since President Obama took office, civilian spending has increased even more dramatically (for example, welfare spending skyrocketed to $888 bn in his first fiscal year alone and the budget of the Department of State has doubled), while defense spending has been cut and while total military spending is lower than it was in FY2008.

10) Myth: The military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about has gone wild and is bloated. If he were alive, he would’ve advocated defense spending cuts.

Fact: This is also false. President Eisenhower did not argue for any defense cuts during his Farewell Address. Instead, he underlined the need for the military to remain under civilian control and not to exercise vast, oversized influence over the government and the society – and especially not to disturb the ordinary democratic political process, which it has never disturbed. Here’s the full quote of what he really said on the subject:

“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.”

If one reads the entire speech, rather than just one sentence quoted out of context, it is clear that Esienhower did not call for any defense cuts. What he did do was to warn the citizenry to “compel the proper meshing” of the defense establishment with “our peaceful methods and goals”, and not to allow it to subvert America’s ordinary democratic political process, “so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

Morever, earlier in the speech, Eisenhower said:

“A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. “our arms must be mighty, ready for constant action, so that no aggressor will risk his self-destruction.”

So, instead of seeing the military establishment as a threat to America’s civil liberties, its economy, or its prosperity, he called it “a vital element in keeping the peace” – which it is. Without a strong defense you cannot have peace.

Mark Steyn is wrong about defense spending

Over a month ago, Mark Steyn utterly discredited himself by rationalizing the sequester’s defense cuts and defending the concept of defense cuts in general. He’s totally ignorant about defense issues, yet he lectures us conservatives on them, even though it is immoral to pontificate about issues about which one is ignorant.

He has recently written a new article titled “The High-Spending Pentagon’s Way of Doing Things Cannot Contain Indefinitely”. It’s ridiculous and wrong. In it, he claims that:

“President Obama has called for cuts of half a trillion dollars from the military budget. In response, too many of my friends on the right are demanding business as usual — that the Pentagon’s way of doing things must continue in perpetuity. It cannot.”

That’s utter garbage. Many rightwingers, including many defense conservatives such as myself, have condemned Obama’s demand of $500 bn in defense cuts, but NO ONE, repeat, NO ONE, not even myself, has demanded “business as usual” – NO ONE has demanded that  “the Pentagon’s way of doing things must continue”, let alone “continue in perpetuity. No one is defending business as usual.

What we HAVE demanded is that (depending on which person you’re talking to) these defense cuts be dramatically reduced in scope (which is what people like Victor Davis Hanson are saying) or cancelled altogether while continuing DOD reforms (which is what I’m saying). No one, not even the staunchest defense conservative like myself, is saying that the Pentagon should be allowed to continue business as usual. Instead, I’m saying that every aspect of how the DOD is staffed, organized, and operated needs to be reformed – but that every saving made in the DOD must be reinvested in the DOD. I’m acutely aware of the DOD’s problems and inefficiencies, and I’m proud that I’m the author of the largest DOD reform proposals package ever devised by anyone. So I can’t be challenged on that score.

Steyn rightly points out that:

“America is responsible for about 43% of the planet’s military expenditure. This is partly a reflection of the diminished military budgets of everyone else. As Britain and the other European powers learned very quickly in the decades after the Second World War, when it comes to a choice between unsustainable welfare programs or a military of global reach, the latter is always easier to cut.

It is, needless to say, a false choice.”

Yet, he falsely claims that:

“By mid-decade the Pentagon’s huge bloated budget will be less than the mere interest payments on U.S. debt…”

Excuse me? The Pentagon’s “huge bloated budget”? The fact is that the Pentagon’s budget is neither huge nor bloated. It amounts to $645 bn (plus $17 bn for the DOE’s defense-related programs), which is amounts to only 19% of the total federal budget and just 4.51% of GDP! It also amounts, per capita, to a lower expenditure per American than it did during the Reagan era. The Pentagon budget is NOT bloated by any honest measure.

Steyn was also wrong to claim that:

“So the assumptions of the last 60 years are over — and not just because of the cost. If America’s responsible for 43% of global military expenditure, why doesn’t it feel like that? Why does the United States get so little bang for the buck?

It is two-thirds of a century since this country won a war (and please don’t bother writing in to say what about Grenada or Panama).”

Garbage! Firstly, 43% is a minority, and secondly, the US DOES get much bang for the buck (although it could certainly get more bang) – for example, 11 carrier battle groups, over 3000 fighters, 5113 nuclear warheads, a ballistic missile defense system, 10 Army divisions, and a Marine Corps numbering 202,000 men. And the US won the First Gulf War (in a spectacular fashion, I might add) just 21 years ago. So the claim that it has been 2/3 of a century since America won a war is false.

(To be fair, Steyn is no isolationist and no Ron Paul fan. He rightly warns that “”Fortress America” is less a fortress than a state of denial, yet it’s one with increasing appeal to many Republican voters.”)

He ends his article thus:

“With characteristic timidity, Mitt Romney says that as commander in chief his Afghan strategy would be determined by the “commanders in the field.” More tea and sympathy! But a lazy deference to the inviolability of the present arrangements for another two-thirds of a century of unwon wars will not suffice.

I am in favor of a leaner, meaner military — emphasis on both adjectives. A broke America will perforce wind up with the first. But, if we want the second, the foreign-policy right will have to make a better case than it has this primary season.”

Maybe he’s listening to the wrong right-wingers.

Maybe he should start listening to me.

In short, Steyn has once again proven that he’s totally ignorant about defense affairs. He would be well-advised not to speak on these issues again.

Conrad Black defends Obama’s indefensible defense cuts, discredits himself

Over the last few years, many previously respectable columnists, journalists, and media outlets discredited themselves by either writing articles calling for (or rationalizing) defense cuts or publishing such articles written by others.

The latest person among these people is NRO columnist Conrad Black. Writing on the NRO website, Black says of Obama’s latest defense cuts, “they may be defensible”, and claims that:

“It would be unfair to dismiss the administration’s latest assault on the U.S.’s defense capability as the folly and cowardice some commentators are already alleging. Without a worldwide rival of comparable strength threatening all American strategic interests, it is certainly possible to retrench gradually and support regional forces of stability and, preferably, moderation.”

No, Mr Black, it is not possible (nor wise) to retrench. This would not only be seen by America’s enemies as a sign of weakness, it would also mean cutting (and gutting) the US military. That is unacceptable. And where are those supposed “regional forces for stability and moderation”? They don’t exist. Even if they did, there is NO substitute for a strong US military. Regional allies and surrogates will not do. Which also refutes his claim (in bold letters) that:

“In these circumstances, full advantage can be taken of steadily more precise and efficient defense technology, and the steady proliferation of more capable secondary powers, eager to preserve and reinforce their independence, in every theater.

Moreover, how is the DOD going to buy modern military technology if it won’t have enough money to do that? Bombers, ICBMs, submarines, missile interceptors, lasers, railguns, fighters, tankers, cargoplanes, and helicopters cost. A lot.

Black dismisses the threats to the US easily, while comparing them to Nazi Germany (whom the US defeated during WW2) and the Soviet Union (whom the US defeated during the Cold War):

“There is no such threat now. Terrorism is a dreadful nuisance, but it lacks central direction and a great and powerful host country devoted altogether to its conduct, and it is incapable of attracting the intellectual and moral support of more than a few homicidal psychopaths and genocidists.”

Note that this paragraph doesn’t even mention state-enemies such as China, Russia, NK, Iran, or Venezuela. Moreover, it is factually wrong. Not only are China and Russia threats comparable to the Soviet Union, terrorism IS sponsored by states hostile to the US, such as Iran (the world’s largest sponsor of terrorism), Syria, and Venezuela (does FARC ring any bells?). In fact, there is no such phenomenon as “stateless terrorism” or “stateless terrorists”. Every terrorist organization in the world is supported by some country: Hamas and Hezbollah by Iran, FARC by Venezuela, etc.

Then, Black wrote utter garbage that:

“The alarms being set off now about the Chinese navy are a little hard to take seriously. An improvised aircraft carrier, plans for catamaran aircraft carriers (an insane concept), and new anti-ship surface-to surface missiles should not overawe the United States Navy. The Chinese are never going to exchange fire with the U.S. Navy anyway, and the idea that they will keep U.S. heavy units out of the South China Sea or the Straits of Formosa with this sort of saber-rattling is eyewash.”

He provides no proof for that – because no evidence for that exists. The alarms about the Chinese navy are fully justified and must be taken seriously. Not only has China renovated an aircraft carrier, not only does it have naval aircraft (and is training naval pilots) to operate from it, not only does it have a much larger navy (and a larger submarine fleet) than the US, not only does it have anti-ship ballistic missiles and cruise missiles, it also has secret underground bases in Sanya (Hainan) and Qingdao. China’s submarines with AIP propulsion systems are undetectable for the US Navy, while the USN’s ASW skills and aircraft fleet have atrophied. China is a real threat to, and a peer competitor for, the US.

Black then continued to blather nonsense:

“China’s neighbors, led by India, Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia, are well able to ensure a satisfactory regional correlation of forces, especially as the first appearance of plausible forces of democratization surface in Russia to discourage Putin’s maverick, compulsive trouble-making.”

Wrong. Japan, South Korea, and Indonesia are military weak, and utterly unable to confront the Chinese juggernaut, even collectively. As for Russia, despite recent protests, it will never become democratic (or pro-American) anytime soon and Putin’s regime will not crumble anytime soon.

Black then went on to paint an extremely rosy, completely fictitious picture of the world where there are no serious threats to the US beyond the Middle East:

“The Far East and South Asia can manage with minimal American attention; most of Latin America is progressing well and there are no dangerous extra-hemispheric influences, despite Ahmadinejad’s ludicrous trans-cultural minuet with Chávez. There is no threat to Western or Central Europe, and Africa has never really been a strategic theater, or one where extra-territorial interventions yielded much of a dividend (after the slave trade was abolished).”

This is utter garbage, like most of his article. The Far East and South Asia (i.e. the Pacific Rim) CANNOT manage with “minimal American attention”; they are threatened by the Chinese juggernaut and its North Korean ally. It needs not only a great deal of American attention, it needs American military protection (and intervention if need be). Latin America is NOT progressing well (unless by “progressing” Black means the establishment of socialist anti-American regimes on the continent and their pursuit of socialist policies), and IS being poisoned by dangerous extra-hemispheric influences – namely, Russian and Chinese policies as well as Iranian meddling, including the ongoing construction of a base for Iranian IRBMs in Venezuela, which would allow the Iranians to target the Southern and Southwestern US with nuclear weapons. Africa remains highly unstable, Somalia is a safe haven and a base for pirates, and its Red Sea coast is the area where maritime piracy is ubiquitous. In short, the world is much more dangerous than it was during the entire Cold War, except the Cuban Missile Crisis.

Conrad Black concedes that we defense conservatives know Obama’s TRUE motivations in cutting the defense budget and the size of the US military:

“But the fear flourishes, rooted in a knowledge of the administration’s naïveté and half-baked notions of wealth redistribution, that the defense-spending cuts are intended not as a response to strategic realities but as a substitute for entitlement reform. Certainly, trimming the military to feed welfare bloat is one of the litmus tests of a civilization in decline.”

And that’s exactly what Obama is doing. That is his true intent.

Amazingly, Black recognizes that:

“Defense is the most effective and valuable form of economic stimulus, especially in high technology, and the country’s most effective form of continuing education, as well as the only source of national security.”

Yet he gives ammo to defense cutters, saying that “Resources allocated to national defense should be cut back only for the right reasons. There is definitely room for hope, but this administration’s record, despite the fact that Robert Gates and Leon Panetta are both competent defense secretaries, does not inspire confidence.”

There are never any “right reasons” to cut defense spending. There is never any reason to cut it. And there is no reason to hope that the Administration will cut the defense budget carefully. As for Robert Gates – no, he was not a competent defense secretary. Quite the contrary, he was one of the most incompetent, most servile, and worst defense secretary in American history. As for Leon Panetta – we shall see whether he’s a competent SECDEF or not.

Using problems to solve problems Editor John Gaver has invented a novel concept: using problems to solve problems. He has shown how this works on the example of the illegal immigrant problem:

Let’s use problems to solve problems.

Everyone seems to be focusing on the problems we’re having in this country, rather than on solutions.

For example, they worry about things like Illegal immigration, rebuilding New Orleans and wild animals attacking humans in Florida. So, let’s see how we can use these three problems to solve these same three problems.

It’s as simple as 1-2-3. The result is a win-win-win situation:

  1. Dig a moat the length of the Mexican border.
  2. Use the dirt to raise the levies in New Orleans.
  3. Put the Florida alligators in the moat.

No problems.”

This method can also be used on nuclear waste. You see, America also has three other problems:

1) The US nuclear arsenal is too small and inadequate to protect America.

2) There are currently 75,000 metric tons of solid nuclear waste in the US and the federal government hasn’t found any way to dispose of it.

3) Demand for nuclear fuel is growing as a result of the Nuclear Renaissance, and so are the costs of uranium ore and nuclear fuel.

Let’s see if we can solve these problems using them:

1) Recycle all of the recycleable nuclear fuel, using the uranium from this spent fuel as nuclear fuel and the plutonium from spent fuel for nuclear weapon production.

2) Dispose of all nonrecycleable nuclear fuel by dumping it in the Marianas Trench, the deepest sea trench in the world.

See? All three problems solved!

The conservative credo

Libertarian liars like Jack Hunter claim that if you support robust defense spending and oppose defense cuts, you are not a conservative. They’re wrong. It is the supporters of defense cuts who are not conservatives. Personally, I have conservative credentials which, I believe, are unquestionable.

Here’s what I believe in:

I believe in traditional Judeo-Christian values.

I believe human life begins at conception, and all unborn children deserve legal protection, and that the Fourteenth Amendment does protect their right to life.

I believe experimentation on human embryos is impermissible.

I believe marriage is between a man and a woman and should be legally recognized that way – with a Constitutional Amendment if necessary.

I believe, like the Founding Fathers did, that governments are created to secure our inalienable rights; that some kind of government is necessary, but governments exist only for limited purposes, not to manage every aspect of your life.

I believe that, therefore, taxation should be limited to the amount necessary to fund the necessary functions of government.

I believe that every society needs some laws, but these laws must not be oppressive, and, whatever they pertain to, they must be fair, egalitarian, short, predictable, and easy to understand.

I believe that the citizen should be strong vis-a-vis the state; that if arrested, he must always have the right to legal counsel, to Habeas Corpus, to be told why he’s been arrested, to a speedy public trial, to confront his accusers, to a cross-examination of witnesses, and to obtain witnesses in his favor.

I believe that foreign terrorists deserve none of the rights to which American citizens are entitled.

I believe that civil liberties must never be surrendered, not even in the name of “fighting terrorism”.

I believe that the Constitution means what it says and says what it means; and that it should be interpreted in accordance with its original meaning as stated in the Federalist Papers, which I believe to be the most authoritative explanations of the Constitution’s meaning.

I believe that the Constitution does give the federal government several legitimate functions, but that it authorizes only a limited government – that is, limited in terms of what it is allowed to do.

I believe that the people whom the American people elect to public office are debtors who have been loaned a sum greater than any money can be – public trust – and whenever that public trust is breached, these officials should be impeached and removed from office, whichever branch of the federal government they are members of.

I believe that every dollar the federal government spends needs to be spent wisely or not at all, because it was hard earned by a taxpayer, who had to work hard and sweat to earn it.

I believe in capitalism: free markets, low taxes, low regulation, no government diktats, and no bailouts.

I believe that capitalism means opportunity, but also responsibility.

I believe that the government should not create or support any dependency classes, and should assist only those who are truly downtrodden.

I believe in states rights – but not at the expense of individual rights. I believe states rights are no excuse for trampling personal liberties, whether with individual insurance purchase mandates, bans on using cell phones in people’s private cars, smoking bans, slavery, segregation, or whatnot.

I believe in the right of every American to possess and keep firearms, and deem it supreme to states’ rights. I believe in the Castle Doctrine.

I believe that America’s borders must be secure and must be controlled; that illegal immigration should be disincentivized and punished; that a country that doesn’t protect its borders is not sovereign; but that a healthy dose of legal immigration is both acceptable and needed. I believe America is both a country of immigrants and a country of laws.

I believe that energy is the lifeblood of the US economy, and in line with capitalism, a system of opportunities AND responsibilities, the government should not subsidize nor penalize any source of energy. I believe the government should allow (but not mandate) free unlimited use of all energy resources and leave it to the free market to determine which ones are the most economical ones. Once that happens, I’m confident the free market will choose the most efficient ones.

I believe that governments should not impose any radical environmentalist measures.

I believe that providing, and adequately funding, a strong national defense is not just a Constitutional prerogative, but a Constitiutional DUTY of the federal government, and any defense cuts or other measures to weaken America’s defense (such as disarmament treaties) constitute a dereliction of that duty. I believe that defense should be funded adequately and robustly. I believe that strategies and defense needs should drive budgets, not the other way around.

I believe that providing any amount of money for defense is Constitutionally authorized and justified, and does not constitute a Big Government program.

I believe that it is much better to spend some money on defense (and therefore on preventing war) now than to spend more money later on rebuilding defense and fighting a war provoked by military weakness.

I believe in building a strong national defense to prevent war, not to start one.

I believe peace can be safeguarded only with a strong national defense.

I believe military interventions are sometimes justified, but only when there is a real threat that cannot be deterred, the objectives are clear, the government is fully committed to winning, and the Congress – the Nation’s elected legislature supports it.

I believe America has many allies around the world, and they deserve to be respected and protected, not dumped unceremoniously to retrench cowardly behind oceans.

I believe that America is the greatest country in the world, and is not to blame for the world’s problems.

That is what I, Zbigniew Mazurak, a staunch conservative, believe in.

Why a strong defense is always needed, as illustrated by history lessons

The opponents of a strong defense continue to advocate deep defense cuts. They are reckless and irresponsible. They believe America doesn’t need a strong defense and that it can afford to deeply cut defense spending and not suffer any consequences. They’re wrong.

A strong, large military is ALWAYS needed, as is robust defense spending, which is needed to fund such a military. There is never a time when it is not needed.

The Founding Fathers understood this. George Washington has said that “timely disbursements to prepare for danger frequently prevent much greater disbursements to repel it” and warned the public and the Congress against “the uncertainty of procuring a warlike apparatus at the moment of public danger.” James Madison famously asked, “How could a readiness for war in time of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?” For his part, in 1788, Alexander Hamilton noted in Federalist #24:

Though a wide ocean separates the United States from Europe, yet there are various considerations that warn us against an excess of confidence or security. On one side of us, and stretching far into our rear, are growing settlements subject to the dominion of Britain. On the other side, and extending to meet the British settlements, are colonies and establishments subject to the dominion of Spain. This situation and the vicinity of the West India Islands, belonging to these two powers create between them, in respect to their American possessions and in relation to us, a common interest. The savage tribes on our Western frontier ought to be regarded as our natural enemies, their natural allies, because they have most to fear from us, and most to hope from them. The improvements in the art of navigation have, as to the facility of communication, rendered distant nations, in a great measure, neighbors. Britain and Spain are among the principal maritime powers of Europe. A future concert of views between these nations ought not to be regarded as improbable. The increasing remoteness of consanguinity is every day diminishing the force of the family compact between France and Spain. And politicians have ever with great reason considered the ties of blood as feeble and precarious links of political connection. These circumstances combined, admonish us not to be too sanguine in considering ourselves as entirely out of the reach of danger.

Today, I’ll explain on just one example why a strong military is needed: the example of the Barbary Wars.

The Continental Navy was disbanded in 1785 and all of its ships were sold or scrapped, while the Continental Army was reduced to just 600 men. America was left completely defenseless. The US soon learned, the hard way, that a strong military is always needed.

In 1794, after the US signed the Jay Treaty with Britain, the French considered that a treachery and began to harrass, assault, and confiscate American merchant ships. (There was no US Navy at the time.) So the Congress passed, and President Washington signed, the Naval Act of 1794, authorizing the creation of a US Navy, a US Marine Corps, and the construction of six warships (the US Navy’s original six frigates, including the USS Constitution). The six frigates were not completed, however, until 1797, and in 1798, a Department of the Navy was created to administer the Navy and the Marine Corps.

President Adams (1797-1801) said in 1798, “France is at war with us, but we are not at war with her.” This was about the Quasi-War with France. During that war, the US Navy captured 80 French ships (including one previously captured by the French). It proved its mettle. The French sued for peace by 1800.

But Britain considered signing the peace treaty with France to be an act of betrayal by the US and turned hostile against America. As long as the US was at a de-facto war with France, the Royal Navy protected American ships against both the French and the Moors (Barbary pirates). In 1800, America lost that protection.

The Barbary pirates have been harrassing American merchant ships since the 1780s. Until the US took military action, America’s response was always to appease them and to pay them the ransom they demanded. Weakness provoked aggression. Barbary pirates understood that they could push American merchants and politicians around; that they could demand anything, perpetrate any aggression, and America’s response would be appeasement and ransom payment. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20% of the U.S. government’s annual revenues in 1800. Fully one fifth! Imagine what could’ve been done if that money had been devoted to defense instead!

Or, as the Wikipedia entry on the subject says:

The war stemmed from the Barbary pirates’ attacks upon American merchant shipping in an attempt to extort ransom for the lives of captured sailors, and ultimately tribute from the United States to avoid further attacks, much like their standard operating procedure with the various European states. Before the Treaty of Paris, which granted America’s independence from Great Britain, American shipping was protected by France during the Revolutionary years under the Treaty of Alliance (1778–83). Although the treaty does not mention the Barbary States in name, it refers to common enemies between both the U.S. and France, which would include the Barbary States or pirates in general. As such, piracy against American shipping only began to occur after the end of the American Revolution, when the U.S. government lost its protection under the Treaty of Alliance.

This lapse of protection by a European power led to the first American merchant shipping seized after the Treaty of Paris. On October 11, 1784, Moroccan pirates seized the brigantine Betsey. This first act of piracy against the U.S. ended in a positive light, as the Spanish government negotiated the freedom of the captured ship and crew; however, Spain offered advice to the United States over how to deal with the Barbary States. The advice was to offer tribute to prevent further attacks against merchant ships. The US Minister to France, Thomas Jefferson, decided to send envoys to Morocco and Algeria to try to purchase treaties and the freedoms of the captured sailors held by Algeria. Morocco was the first Barbary Coast state to sign a treaty with the U.S. on June 23, 1786. This treaty formally ended all Moroccan piracy against American shipping interests. Specifically, Article 6 of the treaty states that if any captured Americans, be it done by Moroccans or by other Barbary Coast states dock at a Moroccan city, said Americans would be set free and be under the protection of the Moroccan state. American diplomatic action with Algeria, the other major Barbary Coast state, was much less successful than with Morocco. Algeria began piracy against the U.S. on July 25, 1785 with the capture of the schooner Maria and the Dauphin a week later. All four Barbary Coast states demanded a sum of $660,000 compared to the limited allocated budget of $40,000 given to the envoys to achieve peace. Diplomatic talks to achieve a reasonable sum for tribute or for the ransom of the captured sailors struggled to reach any headway. The crews of the Maria and Dauphin remained in captivity for over a decade, and soon were joined by other ships captured by the Barbary States. In 1795, Algeria came to an agreement with the U.S. that resulted in the release of 115 sailors they held, at the cost of over $1 million. This amount totaled about 16 of the entire U.S. budget, and this amount was demanded as tribute by the Barbary States to prevent further piracy. The continuing demand for tribute ultimately led to the formation of the United States Department of the Navy, founded in 1798 in order to prevent further piracy attacks upon American shipping as well as to end the extremely large demand for tribute from the Barbary States.

Various letters and testimonies by captured sailors described their captivity as a form of slavery, even though Barbary Coast imprisonment was different from slavery practiced by the U.S. and European powers of the time. Barbary Coast prisoners were able to obtain wealth and property, along with achieving status beyond that of a slave. One such example was James Leander Cathcart, who rose to the highest position a Christian slave could achieve in Algeria, ending up as an adviser to the Algerian Dey, or king. Even so, most captives were pressed into hard labor in the service of the Barbary pirates, and struggled under extremely poor conditions that exposed them to vermin and disease. As word of the poor treatment reached back to the U.S., through freed captives’ narratives or letters, American civilians were pushing for direct action by the government to stop the piracy against U.S. ships.

(…) Jefferson reported the conversation to Secretary of Foreign Affairs John Jay, who submitted the Ambassador’s comments and offer to Congress. Jefferson argued that paying tribute would encourage more attacks. Although John Adams agreed with Jefferson, he believed that circumstances forced the U.S. to pay tribute until an adequate navy could be built. The U.S. had just fought an exhausting war, which put the nation deep in debt. Federalist and Anti-Federalist forces argued over the needs of the country and the burden of taxation. Jefferson’s own Democratic-Republicans and anti-navalists believed that the future of the country lay in westward expansion, with Atlantic trade threatening to siphon money and energy away from the new nation on useless wars in the Old World. The U.S. paid Algiers the ransom, and continued to pay up to $1 million per year over the next 15 years for the safe passage of American ships or the return of American hostages. Payments in ransom and tribute to the privateering states amounted to 20% of the U.S. government’s annual revenues in 1800.

America was weak and defenseless, so it was an easy target for aggressors.

But once President Jefferson decided to use the US Navy’s ships (including its six frigates) and the Marines, and deploy them to Tripoli, the game changed. America fought the two Barbary Wars (1801 to 1805 and 1805 to 1809) and defeated Berbery rulers, thus freeing itself from the duty to pay any ransom to them. The Berbery threat was eliminated.

The moral of this story is that: 1) weakness (e.g. a weak defense, or no defense at all) provoke aggressors and cause wars, while a strong defense prevents wars by deterring aggressors and defeats those few who are undeterrable; 2) America ALWAYS needs a strong military and can never afford to cut it.