It’s bad enough that we conservatives have to fight liberals and libertarians to protect America and to rebuild its defense. It’s even worse that we also have to fight the Washington Establishment.
One of its best-known members, cocktail partier George Will, has recently written a ridiculous column that has been published in the pseudoconservative Human Events magazine. It denies the depth of the defense spending cuts that the Budget Control Act of 2011 entails, exaggerates US defense spending, defends Obama’s national-security-related policies, and is COMPLETELY MUTE about the biggest threats to the US and Obama’s handling of them.
What utter garbage, written of course by the utterly-discredited liberal Beltway columnist George Will, the same guy who bitterly opposed Ronald Reagan during the 1970s and the 1980s and fought the Gipper every step of the way.
Firstly, NO, the US does NOT spend more on defense than the next 17 countries combined, only more than the next 11 countries combined. The next 12 countries combined outspend the US. Moreover, one dollar can buy much more in China, Russia, and other developing countries than in the US, so the military budgets of China, Russia, and other developing countries should be multiplied by a factor of at least 3. Thirdly, how much other countries spend on defense is totally irrelevant to how much the US is spending – the US defense budget should be determined solely by America’s defense needs, and these needs are huge. Fourthly, the US has by far the world’s largest economy and can afford things other countries cannot. Fifthly, the allies that George Will invokes spend little on their defense and are scheduled to cut their small defense budget further, thus making it necessary for the US to invest more in defense.
George Will also lied by claiming that
“Are Republicans really going to warn voters that America will be imperiled if the defense budget is cut 8 percent from projections over the next decade? In 2017, defense spending would still be more than that of the next 10 countries.”
No, defense spending will not be cut merely from projections, and not by a mere 8%. Even if the sequester is somehow stopped, or redirected away from the DOD budget, the core defense budget will still by cut by $487 bn over the next decade, i.e. $48.7 bn per year on average, shrinking below FY2011 and FY2012 levels and not returning there until at least FY2016 (and only in nominal terms). Meanwhile, the OCO budget, which pays for the Afghan war, will automatically zero out in FY2015, when the last US troops leave Afghanistan.
But should sequestration proceed (as it will, unless Republicans win back the WH and the Senate this year and quickly stop the sequester in January 2013), the core defense budget will be cut by over $1 trillion over a decade, i.e. by more than $100 bn per year on average, and will not return to its FY2011 size in real terms until the 2020s (or until FY2019 if you use nominal terms). And of course, OCO spending will automatically zero out in FY2015. This will mean cutting the DOD budget by 34% – as deeply as it was after the Cold War and far more deeply than it was after the Vietnamese War (26%). So GW’s claim that defense spending will be cut by only 8% is a blatant lie. The US completely gutted its military by cutting its defense budget after these two wars. What can you expect if the US now cuts it much DEEPER than it did after Vietnam, starting from a LOWER treshold of defense spending?
But even much worse than those defense BUDGET cuts will be the resulting cuts to the force structure, modernization programs, and other defense programs, especially if sequestration proceeds, whose consequences have been described in detail by Secretary Panetta.
George Will also falsely claims that
“GOP critics say Obama’s proposed defense cuts will limit America’s ability to engage in troop-intensive nation-building. Most Americans probably say: Good. Critics say defense cuts will limit America’s ability to intervene abroad as it has recently done.”
That is a lie. Firstly, these defense cuts will limit more than America’s ability to engage in troop-intensive nation-building or intervene abroad; they will severely limit America’s ability to DEFEND ITSELF (which is the #1 Constitutional duty of the federal government) and to defend its treaty allies, including crucial allies such as Japan and South Korea. They will entail significant cuts in the USAF’s tactical aircraft and airlifter fleet and in the Navy’s fleet of cruisers, as well as a delay of several crucial warship programs, including the SSBNX. Secondly, contrary to his claim that most Americans would probably approve of these cuts, the fact is that a majority (or at least a substantial plurality, depending on which poll you’re reading) of Americans opposes any defense spending cuts. According to the single most recent poll on the subject, com. by the Hill magazine, 49% of Americans oppose defense spending cuts, even in the face of the current budget deficit and debt, while 40% support them – and this is after decades of incessant, false, anti-defense propaganda by liberals such as George Will. According to other polls, such as those done by Gallup, a solid Amerity of Americans (56%-57%) OPPOSES defense spending cuts.
So it is ridiculous for him to claim that:
“Well. Even leaving aside Iraq and Afghanistan, do Americans want defense spending to enable a rump of NATO — principally, Britain and France — to indulge moral ambitions and imperial nostalgia in Libya, and perhaps elsewhere, using U.S. materiel and competence?”
That’s a straw man argument. No serious person is saying that US defense spending should be used for that purpose. But defense spending is being used for, is intended for, and should be used for, much more than that – for purposes much better than that – such as compensating the troops generously, maintaining US military facilities and equipment in good condition, maintaining the force structure, replacing worn-out or obsolete weapons, and developing new equipment for the troops. THAT is what Americans want defense spending to be used for.
Will wants us to believe that
“Romney may, however, be premature in assuming the futility of new sanctions the Obama administration is orchestrating, and Panetta says Iran acquiring nuclear weapons is “unacceptable” and “a red line for us” and if “we get intelligence that they are proceeding with developing a nuclear weapon, then we will take whatever steps necessary to stop it.” What, then, is the difference between Romney and Obama regarding Iran?”
The difference is that Obama is, as usual, lying through his teeth, while Romney probably MEANS IT when he says he’s willing to use the militry option to stop the Iranian nuclear program. Obama is known for making promises he routinely violates and for lying. He claims the military option is on the table, but he’s evidently not willing to exercise it (if he were, he would’ve done so already) and, as Jed Babbin rightly notes in AmSpec, he’s forcing Israel to do that instead of him. To this day, the Obama Administration even denies that Iran is pursuing nuclear weapons at all! They deny tht Iran has yet made the decision to build nuclear weapons, even though Iran is working on uranium deuteride, which has NO civilian application and can be used only as a trigger for nuclear weapons.
George Will also falsely claims that
“Obama says that even with his proposed cuts, the defense budget would increase at about the rate of inflation through the next decade. Republicans who think America is being endangered by “appeasement” and military parsimony have worked that pedal on their organ quite enough.”
The truth is that Obama is lying (that wouldn’t be the first time that Obama is lying, would it?). Defense spending will NOT increase at all during the next decade, with or without sequestration. Even if sequestration doesn’t occur – which is highly unlikely – defense spending will still see zero growth and be cut in real terms, by $487 bn over a decade, and will not return to FY2011 levels until FY2016 (and only in nominal terms). Already the enacted FY2012 defense budget under the NDAA was smaller than the FY2011 budget, and the requested FY2013 budget, if enacted, will be smaller than the one for FY2012. Cuts will total $487 bn over a decade.
But if sequestration proceeds, defense spending will be cut IN REAL TERMS by over $800 bn below FY2011 levels over a decade, and will non return to its FY2011 level until the mid-2020s (in real terms). The claim that defense spending will still be growing, just at a reduced rate, is a blatant lie, although one that is popular these days with politicians and pundits.
But equally outrageous as George Will’s lies are the facts and issues that he has failed to mention, perhaps deliberately to make Obama look better. No mention of Obama’s appeasement of, and repeated capitulations to, Russia, on issues such as missile defense and nuclear disarmament. No mention of Obama’s appeasement of China, as documented in the recently-published Bowing to Beijing book. No mention of Obama’s appeasement of Communist countries in Latin America and of the easing of sanctions on Cuba. Not one mention of Obama’s lack of any effective action towards North Korea. His article doesn’t even mention these countries. I’ts easy to understand why. In order to protect President Obama, of whom Will approves, it is better for Will not to even mention these countries or Obama’s appeasement of them, because doing so would prove Will wrong and make Obama look bad.
In sum, the truth is that despite George Will’s false claims, Obama is extremely weak on defense and foreign issues and Republicans can win this election handily if they attack this Achilles heel of Obama’s and present their own, alternative, Reaganite policies. But that will require Republicans to renew their commitment to a strong defense and to refuse to listen to cocktail party pundits from the Beltway such as George Will.
In his time, Ronald Reagan was willing to do so.
Will Republicans do so today?
PS: Do you know, Dear Readers, what’s the difference between me and George Will (besides the fact that he’s well-known and I’m not)? I’m a Tea Partier; he’s a cocktail partier.