Meet the Press: what conservative publications are saying about Obama’s defense cuts

I’ve been very critical of President Obama’s massive, $487 bn defense cuts, but I’ve realized that the editors and columnists of conservative publications such as the WaTimes and the National Review can express similar criticism better than I can (they’re simply better wordsmiths), so let’s hear what these conservative publications have to say.

The Washington Times’ Editors:

“The document is a new milestone marking America’s strategic retreat. The Cold War-era requirement that the United States be able to fight and win “2 1/2 wars” was downgraded to “two major-theater wars” during the Clinton administration. Under the new guidance, we are down to a war and a half. “Even when U.S. forces are committed to a large-scale operation in one region,” it declares, “they will be capable of denying the objectives of – or imposing unacceptable costs on – an opportunistic aggressor in a second region.” So, while Washington will pledge to defeat one adversary, in the second, smaller conflict, U.S. forces will only be able to play for a draw. This was a strategy that worked well in the Vietnam War – for our enemy.

To make up for the decline in U.S. power, the new defense document promotes the idea of “building partnership capacity,” a concept inherited from the George W. Bush administration. America will “seek to be the security partner of choice,” which reduces defending freedom to an uninspiring marketing plan. The guidance suggests pursuing partnerships with “a growing number of nations … whose interests and viewpoints are merging into a common vision of freedom, stability and prosperity.” Unfortunately, this statement is flatly untrue; freedom, stability and prosperity are not growing but are in global retreat like Obama’s America. The guidance suggests the future lies in “innovative, low-cost and small-footprint approaches” to global partnership, which is like calling for a coalition of Facebook friends.

“Today,” Mr. Obama declared, “we’re fortunate to be moving forward from a position of strength.” The Joint Chiefs of Staff, arrayed behind him like extras on a movie set, stared grimly ahead, in silence.””

The National Review’s Editors:

Obama’s Indefensible Cuts
On national security, decline is a choice.

By The Editors

The president’s remarks, as well those of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs of Staff chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, contained much vague talk of a “smarter,” more “agile” military that would “evolve” to find new ways to meet its existing commitments in Europe and the Middle East, along with a reaffirmation — all but offered as consolation — that we will be enlarging our footprint in Asia. But behind the euphemistic vocabulary and the strategic veneer is a simple truth: This is a retreat. (…)

Our combat mission in Iraq may be over, but the peace is fragile and violence continues. In Afghanistan an accelerated withdrawal and negotiated peace with the Taliban is likely to create more national-security threats than it dispatches. The Arab world remains one giant powder keg, and the potential for new threats from a destabilized North Korea, a radicalized Pakistan, a nuclear Iran, and even a suddenly unpredictable Russia are too manifold — and too fearsome — to contemplate. So while our part in the fighting may be drawing down for the moment, the volatile mix of geopolitical conditions that made that fighting necessary remains.

At its Cold War peak, U.S. military strategy called for the peacetime ability to simultaneously fight and win two major theater wars and a “brushfire” conflict. The years after the Soviet collapse saw that capability pared down in the name of the “peace dividend,” just in time for the 9/11 decade to deliver . . . two major theater wars and a series of “brushfire” conflicts, from counterterror ops in Yemen to air support in Libya, that stretched our forces thin even as we increased them. (…)

This will have consequences. Reducing our war-fighting capabilities can only be interpreted as an aggregate disengagement of U.S. power, or the potential use of power, that will cause global actors to think and decide differently — starting not next decade or next year, but today. It will change the way we think and decide as well. Since a nation with decreased capability tends to change its behavior to match that capability, the next few years could see a United States acting less muscularly simply because it has less muscle — regardless of what the right policies might be. Imagine a “win-spoil” American military engaged in a land war while the next Saddam invades Kuwait, or while the Chinese make a dash across the Formosa Strait. Strength creates options. Weakness limits them.”

The NR’s Arthur Herman:

“(…) the lasting damage the Obama chainsaw does is not to our military’s present, but to its future.

Of course, Obama’s team says it can still defend that future by spending smarter and cutting out “waste, fraud, and abuse” — this, from the people who inflated our deficit by $1.5 trillion, and gave us the $787 billion non-stimulus and Solyndra. In fact, it’s the programs that define the cutting edge of future military technology, and will lead the next military revolution, that are now the most in peril.

A good example is the Future Combat Systems, the program for transforming the Army into a highly mobile force with unmanned combat vehicles and other futuristic technology launched by Donald Rumsfeld’s Pentagon. The program itself was axed two years ago, with the promise that the resources allocated for modernization would go directly to the Army and Marines. Don’t count on that now.

Other examples are the Airborne Laser, also axed in 2010, and the Navy’s hypersonic electromagnetic rail gun, which could help combat Chinese anti-ship missiles aimed at our carrier strike groups in the event of a conflagration in the Pacific, the region President Obama claims he’s so worried about. It lost its funding earlier this year. Missile defense will certainly be next to feel the knife.

Unlike our big army or naval bases, these programs have little or no constituencies, which means they get little attention or protection from Congress. Yet they are vital to preparing America for its future wars, and to its credible strategic presence. A cash-strapped Pentagon is bound to cut them first, even as our present force structure is dwindling to potentially perilous levels.”

The NR’s Jim Lacey:

As the uniformed military salutes and does its best to carry out the new guidance, there are some things about it that all Americans must be made aware of. The most important is that this is not a strategy aimed at securing the country. Rather, it is designed for one purpose only: to cut hundreds of billions of dollars out of the defense budget — consequences be damned.

HumanEvents’ military affairs corresponded Robert Maginnis:

President Barack Obama’s new defense strategy is chock full of myths as his soon-to-arrive 2013 budget promises to detail national security changes at this critical “moment of transition.” 
Last week Obama spoke from the Pentagon briefing room saying this “moment of transition” is the confluence of ebbing security challenges and the necessity to put our fiscal house in order.  He promised his new strategy will “guide our defense priorities” and satisfy Congress’ mandated cuts, while maintaining the “greatest force … ever known,” without repeating past mistakes.
That is a tall order, but for now all we have to judge are statements and the Pentagon’s strategy, “Sustaining U.S. Global Leadership: Priorities for 21st Century Defense.”  Those sources espouse at least six myths that should alarm Congress and the American people about the President’s stewardship. (…)

Myth #5:  A smaller nuclear force will provide all the deterrence needed.  The President’s strategy calls for further reductions in our nuclear weapons inventory and “their role in the U.S. national security strategy.”
Defense officials decline to elaborate on how the administration will maintain our nuclear deterrence with fewer weapons and a downsized atomic triad of ballistic missiles, bombers and submarines.  The key is making certain our force is optimal in size and capability, but that is the catch.
The U.S. has about 5,000 nuclear warheads, and agreed with the Russians via the 2010 New START treaty to reduce the number of deployed weapons to 1,550.  Does Obama intend to cut beyond the START numbers, and does he plan to invest in modernization as are the Russians and Chinese?  Getting more deterrence from a smaller force in a growing nuclear-threat environment demands a lot more explaining than a sentence in the new strategy.

Syndicated columnist Charles Krauthammer on Fox News:

“This budget strategy is a road map of American decline,” Krauthammer said. “It is going to reduce our capacity. It does exactly what the president had said he was not going to do, which is it will adapt our capacity and our strategies to fit a budget.”

One of the premises of the Obama strategy is the notion that the United States won’t be involved in another large-scale ground war. Krauthammer noted that such wars aren’t always planned for.

“Sometimes a Pearl Harbor happens or an invasion of South Korea or a 9/11. Then ground war is thrust upon you. It’s not as if it’s a choice,” he said. “This is a budget that is going to reduce American capacity. It will make it extremely hard to carry on the role that we have for 70 years.”

American Thinker contributor and military veteran Jim Yardley:

“Mr. Obama tried to counter the expected criticism of his plan by claiming that the United States will, even after his proposed cuts, be spending more than the top 10 military budgets of other countries combined.  Depending on which set of statistics Obama was using, this might actually be accurate.  But in checking a copy of the 2009 edition of The CIA World Factbook (and I am not making that up — you can get a copy from Amazon), in 2005, the United States was spending approximately 4.06% of its GDP on defense.  China, one of that group of 10 nations that Mr. Obama referenced, was spending about 4.3% of its GDP on its military as of 2006.  With the phenomenal growth of the Chinese economy in the past several years, if they continue spending at that 4.3% rate and continue growing, their military will be a rising threat.  The president considers the PRC to be a threat to our interests in the Pacific, and their military has recently added a full-sized aircraft carrier to their fleet.

It is apparent that the president, in developing his strategy, used the same extensive knowledge, his superior intellect, and worldly wealth of experience that he brought to his strategy for his $800-billion stimulus, his strategy for providing cost-free health care to millions of Americans, and his strategy for using “smart diplomacy” to defuse hot spots around the world.”

American Thinker contributor J. Robert Smith:

“Military service reinforces, not diminishes, enlistees’ natural conservatism.  And one suspects that those men and women who enter the armed forces less conservative or more liberal leave duty more oriented toward conservative values.

Note well that Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats have fiercely resisted reforms and budget cuts impacting entitlements, welfare, and the size of Washington government (outside the military).  Yes, there are philosophical and ideological underpinnings that lead Democrats to want big, nonmilitary government.  Yes, since the Vietnam War, Democrats have evinced varying degrees of hostility to the nation’s military.

But the tawdry underbelly of Mr. Obama’s move to slash the budgets and size of the armed forces has to do with votes.  His voters are big government beneficiaries.  Restructuring entitlements, reforming welfare, and making net reductions to the federal workforce do no favors to Democrats trolling for votes every two years from base constituencies.”

What I didn’t know until I read these articles was that the Navy’s promising electromagnetic railgun program had already been defunded and cancelled. But it isn’t surprising. During the last 3 years, the Obama Administration and the Congress cancelled over 50 crucial weapon programs.


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