Rebuttal of Tom Coburn’s lies about defense spending

Tom Coburn’s newest book, the Debt Bomb, has recently been published. In that book, Coburn suggests many useful fiscal reforms and savings… except when it comes to defense spending.

Coburn, who is an anti-defense libertarian and not a conservative, is an ardent opponent of defense spending per se, and in his drive to deeply cut (and thus gut) America’s defense, he’s made up a litany of blatant lies that he wrote into Chapter 13 of his book, wrongly titled Defense: Peace Through Strength Through Streamlining.

The title is misleading because what Coburn actually advocates is not peace through strength, but peace through weakness, and the spending cuts he advocates go far beyond streamlining. He advocates massive cuts to actual military capabilities. He calls on Congress to implement the disastrous defense cuts proposals he has made in his ridiculous “Back to Black” plan. To reiterate:

1) Cutting spending on the nuclear arsenal and the arsenal of means of delivery by $7.9 bn per year, i.e. $79 bn over a decade, for purely budgetary reasons, by:
a) cutting the nuclear stockpile down to the inadequate levels allowed by the disastrous New START treaty (former SECDEF James Schlesinger deems them “barely adequate”);
b) cutting the ICBM fleet from 500 to 300 missiles (i.e. by a whopping 200 missiles);
c) cutting the SSBN fleet from from 14 to 11 subs;
d) delaying, again, for purely budgetary reasons, the Next Generation Bomber program until the mid-2020s when it hasn’t even been allowed to begin; and
e) maintaining a reserve stockpile of just 1,100 warheads;
f) cutting the strategic bomber fleet to just 40 aircraft compared to the current 96 nuclear-capable B-2s and B-52s and 66 non-nuclear-capable B-1s.
This is the worst of all his proposals by far. The disastrous New START treaty, which does not cover tactical nuclear weapons (in which Russia has overwhelming advantage), ordered the US to cut its nuclear arsenal to already-inadequate levels, so that Russia could keep nuclear parity status with the US. Cutting the US nuclear arsenal down to levels authorized by this treaty is a mistake; cutting it further would be an ever bigger mistake; cutting it by a whopping 200 ICBMs, 3 SSBNs, and hundreds of warheads would be an egregious blunder which would make America much less safe and invite a Russian nuclear first strike. Coburn also proposes to forego any modernization of the deterrent until the mid-2020s, and then only of the bomber fleet. A requirement for a Next Generation Bomber Type is real and was officially acknowledged by the DOD 5 years ago, in 2006, in that year’s Quadrennial Defense Review.(1) It was later confirmed by the 2010 QDR.(2) It was subsequently acknowledged by the then leadership of the DOD, including Secretary Gates. Later that year, the CSBA – which Coburn likes to cite as a source – released a report (authored by retired USAF Colonel Mark Gunzinger, who participated in all defense reviews to date) stating that an NGB is an urgent requirement which must be met by 2018 at the latest and that consequently, the NGB program must not be delayed any longer. (3)
In short, the nuclear triad is the last part of the military that should be cut. And for all of these draconian cuts, Coburn would “save” only $7.9 bn per year, whereas my proposals of cutting the administration budgets of the DOD alone would save taxpayers well over $10 bn per year.
2) End the purchases of V-22 Ospreys at no more than 288 aircraft, thus allowing some Marine H-46s to retire unreplaced, leaving the USMC with far fewer V-22s that they believe they need, and not having the V-22 Osprey as an option for the USAF’s CSARX competition or the Navy’s Carrier Onboard Delivery Aircraft Replacement plan. The savings: a meagre $0.6 bn a year, or $6 bn over a decade.
This proposal is just as dumb as the first one. Barring the USAF’s bombers (B-52s, B-1s, and B-2s), there isn’t a single weapon type in America’s inventory that is as combat-proven and as battle-tested as the V-22, which has been widely used in Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya. It is more survivable, and can fly much farther and faster, than any other rotorcraft in history, and can fly to places where other rotorcraft cannot. When an F-15E was downed in Libya earlier this year, it was a V-22 that rescued its crew. The V-22 is a must-have aircraft type. Orders for it should be increased, not cut. And contrary to Coburn’s claim, it costs only a little more than an MH-60: $67 mn for a V-22 vs at least $44 mn for an MH-60.
3) Cancel the Marine (STOVL) and Navy (CATOBAR) variants of the F-35, buy F/A-18E/F Super Hornets instead. The saving: a paltry $700 mn per year, i.e. $7 bn per decade.
This proposal, frequently stated by those who wish to cut the defense budget deeply, is fundamentally flawed, because it’s based on two wrong assumptions: a) a Short Takeoff and Vertical Landing variant is not needed; b) the Super Bug is interchangeable with the F-35.
There is clearly a requirement for a STOVL variant, as confirmed by USMC Commandant Gen. James Amos, who is himself a Naval Aviator. He knows the F-35B better than anyone. Coburn’s assumption that a STOVL variant won’t be needed is based on wishful thinking. As for the second assumption: no, the Super Bug is not an alternative to, nor even substitute for, the F-35. It’s basically a redo of the F/A-18 Hornet, a plane that first flew in the 1970s. It is not stealthy, has a much shorter range compared to the F-35C, and a higher maintenance cost. It can operate only in benign, uncontested airspace.
4) Retire the USS George Washington early, cutting the carrier fleet permanently to 10 and cutting the number of carrier air wings from 10 to 9. This would save a paltry $600 mn per year, i.e. $6 bn over a decade, at a large cost to America’s defense.
This would also be reckless. Contrary to Coburn’s claim, during the Cold War, the USN needed – and always had – at least 15 carriers. Throughout the Cold War, the Navy had no fewer than 15 carriers. The flattop fleet was not cut until after the Cold War. In 2007, the Congress reluctantly agreed to cut the carrier fleet from 12 to 11, while simoultaneously writing a well-grounded requirement for at least 11 carriers into law. Last year, the Congress again reluctantly agreed to waive that requirement – but only for two years, from 2013 to 2015, until the USS Gerald R. Ford is commissioned. As studies by the Heritage Foundation have repeatedly shown, the Navy needs no fewer than 11 carriers at any one time. Cutting the carrier fleet and the number of CAWs would be reckless.
5) Cancelling the Precision Tracking Space Satellite (PTSS) program of the Missile Defense Agency.
This program is necessary to create a constellation of 6 dedicated satellites tracking ballistic missiles, a capability that none of America’s current satellites offer.
6) Cutting the total number of troops deployed in Europe and Asia to just 45,000.
While Europe can certainly defend itself on its own, having only one plausible enemy (Russia), this cannot be said of America’s Asian allies. The US can afford to withdraw troops from Europe but not Asia, where any American drawdown would be viewed as a sign of weakness and disengagement, which Sec. Panetta and President Obama have both recently tried to prevent, trying to assure America’s Asian allies that this will not happen.
7) Using the $100 bn savings that Secretary Gates for deficit reduction, not for military modernization as Sec. Gates wanted and the Services – which worked hard to find these savings – were promised by Gates, President Obama, and the Congress.
These savings were to be used for a number of military modernization programs, including purchases of additional ships, modernization of the Army’s combat vehicles, and the forementioned Next Generation Bomber program. Taking that money away from them and using it to pay the bills for a deficit caused exclusively by runaway civilian spending would not just be dumb, it would be an act of heinous betrayal.
(8) Delay the Ground Combat Vehicle for purely budgetary reasons. The saving: a paltry $700 mn per year, i.e. $7 bn per decade.
For purely budgetary reasons. Do I need to say more?
9) End the Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle program without replacement, not with a replacement as Sec. Gates proposed.
The decision of Sec. Gates (whom Coburn quotes selectively) to cancel the over-budget, delayed Marine amphibious truck vehicle known as the EFV was the right one. However, as a replacement, Gates proposed starting a new, less complex, less costly amphib program that is scheduled to produce the first amphibious trucks in 2014, so that Gen. Amos can ride in them before he retires in late 2014. As both Gates and Amos have stated, there is a clear requirement for such a vehicle. The USMC’s obsolete, Vietnam War era AAVs must be replaced. Coburn proposes not to replace them.
1o) Cutting DOD weapon R&D spending by 10% in FY2012, then by another 10% in FY2013, and then freezing it for a further 8 fiscal years.
Again, this is motivated purely by budgetary concerns, not military ones. Coburn claims that from FY1981 to FY1988, the DOD received, in constant dollars, $407 bn, and he claims that is only $51 bn per year. He’s wrong, and apparently can’t do simple math. $407 bn divided by seven is $58.142857 bn, i.e. ca. $58.143 bn. He proposes to cut R&D spending to a paltry $58.0 bn and keep it there, even though that is LESS than what was invested during the Reagan era.
Furthermore, Coburn claims (in the “What to cut from defense” subchapter) that his B2B defense cuts proposals are not just prudent but “necessary”. No, they are not. They would actually be deeply damaging, as they deeply weaken America’s defense and thus imperil national security. Furthermore, as the RSC, the Heritage Foundation, Paul Ryan, and Rand Paul have shown, it is possible to balance the federal budget WITHOUT significant defense cuts (even while Rand Paul, like me, proposes to withdraw US troops from Afghanistan quickly).
Furthermore, Coburn opens this chapter of his book with a selective quotation from President Eisenhower’s farewell address and falsely claims that Ike’s worst fears about the “military-industrial complex” have realized. No, they haven’t. Not even close. While the defense industry surely does a lot of lobbying on Capitol Hill and in the DOD, they have abysmally failed to prevail in the vast majority of cases, as evidenced by all the defense cuts (including the closure of over 50 weapon programs) since President Obama took office.
If the military-industrial complex exists and is so powerful, how come could it not even defend save any of those 50 weapon programs from termination?
Coburn claims that defense spending is a sacred cow. He writes:

“Of all the sacred cows that need to be tipped in Washington, defense spending is the biggest and the most stubborn.”

But the truth is that defense spending is NOT, and has never been, a sacred cow. Defense spending was deeply cut during the late 1940s, the 1950s, the 1970s (throughout the entire decade), and the 1990s, and has now been slated for $1.087 TRILLION dollar cuts over the next decade ($487 bn plus $600 bn through sequestration); on top of that, GWOT (OCO) spending is being cut annually and is set to zero out by FY2016, after the last US troops leave Afghanistan. Any claim that the DOD has ever been, or currently is, a “sacred cow” is a blatant lie.
Coburn acknowledges that

“First, it is one of the few legitimate Constitutional roles of the federal government. Also, peace through strength is not a mere slogan but a reality of life. Maintaining a strong national defense is vital to our national security. Our strength is our best deterrent. Without it, our economy, freedoms, and liberty are all placed at risk.”

and that
“Knowing what to keep and what to cut in the defense budget is our first responsibility as elected officials. Thinking critically about defense is your responsibility as well.”
 That is well said, but Coburn’s actual policy proposals are totally inconsistent with these principles that he CLAIMS he professes. On the one hand, he admits that a strong defense is necessary, but on the other, he advocates deep defense spending cuts, including draconian cuts to actual military capabilities and arsenals such as the ICBM fleet.
Coburn then commends the ignorant, biased, anti-defense hack Chris Edwards of the CATO Institute for bashing the F-22 program as a parochial project, and commends its cancellation, but the F-22 was NOT the parochial pork project Edwards and Coburn portray it to be. It was a NEEDED 5th generation fighterplane program which was WRONGLY cancelled by the Obama Administration, with Congressional consent, in FY2010. Now the future of the entire US fighterplane fleet relies on a single, troubled program – the F-35 – while Russia and China are testing their stealthy 5th generation Raptor-like fighterplanes.
Coburn also decries the former second engine for the F-35 as a pork project, yet it was actually a necessary program which was sustaining competition in the F-35 program. By killing it, the Congress gave Pratt&Whitney a monopoly on F-35 engines and forced three American military services as well as many foreign countries to rely on a single engine type. That was a reckless decision, yet Coburn lauds it.
Coburn furthermore complains that

“Congress has a rich history of ordering ships and planes our generals did not ask for and do not need.”

But the generals are hardly infallible, and per the Constitution, it is the CONGRESS, not the generals, who is supposed to decide what weapons the military needs and in what quantities. The Constitution vests the prerogatives “to provide for the common defense”, “to raise and support Armies”, and “to provide and maintain a Navy”, and to build military facilities SOLELY in the Congress. Deciding what weapons the military needs and in what quantities is exclusively for the Congress to make, not for the generals, the SECDEF, or the President. Although, to be fair, some of the earmarks he mentions were indeed irresponsible and harmful for the troops (such as the polyester clothing inserted by Congressman David Wu).
In the last 20 years, the generals, forced by successive Administrations to toe their propaganda lines and understate real military requirements, have usually testified (under White House pressure) in favor of ever fewer ships, planes, ground vehicles, and other weapons. So their testimony is not credible.
While on this subject, it’s worth noting that his own B2B plan proposes to cut many military capabilities that the generals deem necessary and worth protecting from cuts, including many procurement programs the generals deem necessary (including 2 variants of the F-35 and the V-22).
Moreover, earmarks constitute only a tiny part of the defense budget and the total federal budget, and are currently banned due to a moratorium. It is, however, only a moratorium, and needs to become a permanent, total earmark ban.
Calling us, opponents of deep defense cuts, “defenders of the status quo”, he calls defense spending’s tiny share of GDP a “misleading” figure. But I am not a defender of the status quo, merely an opponent of defense cuts (especially deep ones), i.e. of cuts to MILITARY CAPABILITIES and needed programs. I do not oppose DOD reforms; I’m actually the author of the largest DOD reform proposals package ever devised. Coburn also falsely claims that the nonwar (core) defense budget is larger today than it was during the height of the 1980s.
The current core defense budget is $531 bn. The FY2010 budget was $534 bn. The budgets for FY1987, FY1988, and FY1989 were, respectively: $606.35 bn, $574.23 bn, and $585.60 bn. So from FY1987 to FY1989, defense spending was MUCH HIGHER than it is now.
Coburn decries the fact that despite defense spending growth, the military is not stronger than it was in 2001 and is significantly smaller than in the 1940s or the rest of the Cold War. But the deep defense spending, force structure, and procurement cuts he advocates would make the problem much worse.
He also claims that “the growing cost of military hardware has been a key driver of our debt”, but that is not true. Although many weapon programs have suffered serious cost overruns, their cost (and even total military spending) has NOT been a key driver of America’s public debt. The military budget amounts to just 19% of total federal spending and accounts for only a tiny minority (less than 10%) of the spending growth that has occurred since FY2001.
The savings he proposes besides acquisition reform, while laudable and worth pursuing, would save taxpayers only $15.9 bn per year (or, including eliminating fraudulent Agent Orange compensation, $20.12 bn per year) – a tiny share of the over $100 bn worth of annual defense spending cuts his B2B plan calls for and the amount that the sequester would cut out of defense.
Coburn then cites a lobbyist (!) for Americans for Tax Reform as a credible source. The lobbyist falsely claims that the sequester would cut only $500 bn over 10 years (in reality, it would cut at least $550 bn over a decade, IN ADDITION TO the $487 bn cuts already ordered by the first tier of the BCA). The lobbyist, while admitting that sequestration would cut the core defense budget by $140 bn n FY2013 alone, ridiculously claims that this is
“hardly a huge pill to swallow, ESPECIALLY since the bill doesn’t include limits on supplemental spending. Who’s to say the 050 cut doesn’t just show up in additional supplemental spending? Something to ponder for conservatives who are concerned about ‘deep’ defense cuts.”
These claims are blatant lies. Firstly, a $140 bn annual cut (which would be deeper than even I previously thought) WOULD be a huge pill to swallow. It would amount to more than 26% of the DOD’s core budget for FY2012 ($531 bn) and its requested FY2013 budget ($525 bn). Such cuts would completely gut the military. That is inevitable. They would mean drastic reductions in end-strength, the military’s size, compensation for the troops, maintenance and training funding, and modernization (i.e. very few purchases of new equipment, at a time when the vast majority of the military’s gear is old, obsolete, and worn out and needs to be replaced). There isn’t that much waste in the defense budget. (BTW, ATR’s lobbyists waste more money every year than the DOD does.)
Why won’t these items show up in the supplemental? Because 1) the White House has explicitly prohibited the DOD from doing so; 2) to do that, they would have to increase the ANNUAL supplemental request by $140 bn per year, up from $88.5 bn requested for FY2013, and not even the stupidest Congressman will buy that trick; 3) supplemental funding is shrinking annually and is slated to shrink further every year (to $88.5 bn in FY2013 and $44.5 bn in FY2014) and eventually zero out when the last American troops leave Afghanistan. That shrinkage has been ongoing and will continue regardless of whether sequestration proceeds. Any claim that the DOD will simply move sequestered budget items worth $140 bn PER YEAR to the supplemental is a blatant lie.
That’s something to ponder for those callously unconcerned about the sequester’s deep defense cuts and those who make light of these cuts. But of course, ATR lobbyists are not on Capitol Hill to tell the truth; they are there to lie.
Coburn buys into ATR’s lies, and falsely claims that “regardless of how deep the defense cuts may look, they will never materialize.” This is a blatant lie, as proven above; the supplemental cannot be used to avoid sequestration, and the sequester itself will kick in on Jan. 1st absent Congressional action.
Furthermore, while Coburn admits that sequestration is bad because it would cut everything equally deeply – the necessities along with waste – he falsely claims that “the dollar goal of sequestration (…) was not the problem, just the method.”
He’s completely wrong, however. It’s not just sequestration’s METHOD of cuts that’s bad, it’s the DOLLAR GOAL as well. A $100 bn or $140 bn ANNUAL cut of defense spending would be deeply damaging for America’s defense, as it would cut waste ALONG WITH actual military capabilities and crucial modernization programs. That is an inevitable consequence of such deep budget cuts to an arbitrary figure. There isn’t that much waste even in the DOD. Not even close. As proven by Coburn’s failure to find more than a paltry $20.12 bn in efficiencies. Even under a different method, if required to cut its budget by $100 bn per year, the DOD would HAVE to dramatically cut military capabilities and thus weaken America’s defense. (For specifics, see here.)
Coburn claims that “even with sequestration, defense spending would still increase by 16% over the next ten years compared to 23% without sequestration.” That is a blatant lie. Under sequestration, defense spending will grow by only a few points over this year’s level, and only at the end of the decade. At the start of the decade, it will be dramatically cut, and from then on, will be growing very slowly, not reaching FY2011/2012 levels until FY2019 at the earliest, as proven by the first graph (produced by the CBO) below. As the second graph below (from the Bipartisan Policy Center) shows, under sequestration, defense would be cut to a record low, not seen since before WW2.
Coburn claims that “streamlining will strengthen, not weaken, our national security”, but the massive, reckless defense cuts he advocates (predominantly cuts to military capabilities and modernization, not to DOD waste) would gravely WEAKEN America’s defense and jeopardize national security. He ends this chapter by quoting a proverb saying that all great powers destroy themselves from within, but defense/military spending is not destroying America at all. It constitutes just 19% of the federal budget, a small share. It is not responsible for America’s fiscal woes.
In short, this entire chapter of Coburn’s book is completely worthless and ridiculous. It’s a litany of blatant lies. Conservatives should not waste their money buying that book.
[1] The 2006 QDR, as released by the DOD.
[2] The 2010 QDR, as released by the DOD. The author will send you a copy of both Reviews at request.
[3] Mark Gunzinger, Sustaining America’s Advantage in Long-Range Strike, Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 2010.

Rebuttal of the “Reason” mag’s and Jim DeMint’s false claims

Sen. Jim DeMint has recently given a lengthy, 5-page interview to the libertarian, anti-conservative “Reason” magazine, and it was conducted by RM editors Matt Welch and Nicholas Gillespie (the guy caught lying in the infamous RM video I refuted a few months ago).

DeMint wrongly said in the interview that “the GOP should adopt a lot of Ron Paul’s ideas” and “should become much more libertarian”, thus giving signs that he has converted to libertarianism and that considers Ron Paul to be a prophet.

Sen. DeMint is completely wrong. No, the GOP should not adopt any of Ron Paul’s ideas (except on the Federal Reserve, privacy, and drug legalization), and no, it should not become libertarian to any degree. It shouldn’t become libertarian at all.

Ron Paul is right only on a few discreet issues, and that proves nothing. Even a blind pig will find an ear of corn once in a while. Ron Paul is like a blind pig. Apparently, the vast majority of Republicans agree, since they have so far rejected Ron Paul in all states that have voted so far.

Ron Paul needs to be completely ignored and shunned, and that is why he has been clobbered in this year’s Republican primaries, just like four years ago.

Specifically, Sen. DeMint says this about defense spending and foreign policy:

DeMint: Well, there are a lot of obvious things. Not just the waste. We do need to rethink the money we spend on military and defense. I think Ron Paul does make a good distinction: There’s a difference between spending on military and spending for defense.

The primary function of the federal government is to defend our country. We need to make sure that we have the technology, the intelligence, the equipment to defend America from a lot of new threats. And if that is not doable with bases all over the world, we need to rethink how spread out we actually are. We have to demand that our allies actually pay a greater proportion of their defense. We’re still in Germany; we were there after World War II. We’re in South Korea. We’re in a lot of places. We may need to be in some of those places for deployment and protection. But I think it’s fair to say let’s rethink that and make sure we’re spending money in the right places.”

An examination/rethinking of defense/military spending, and a debate in the GOP about it and about US foreign policy (and America’s defense commitments to its allies), is fine and even healthy.

But that’s not what libertarians want. They want defense to be deeply cut (and thus gutted) and the US to withdraw from world affairs and retrench behind its borders.

While I agree with Sen. DeMint that America’s allies can and should start paying much more for their own defense, I also believe it would be geopolitically and strategically unwise, as well as immoral, to pull the rug from under them by terminating defense commitments to them (or at least to strategically-important allies such as SK and Japan). Furthermore, the vast majority of the defense budget is used to defend the US, not foreign countries, and therefore, the US would have to spend the same amount of money it spends today on defense even if it were to defend itself and dump all of its allies. Furthermore, spending money on defending America and its crucial allies is money well spent, so to answer DeMint’s concern, “we are spending money in the right places” – the US and strategically important countries.

And no, the US doesn’t have “bases with all over the world”, and America can be defended with the bases it currently has abroad (indeed, these bases are needed and it would cost far less to maintain them than to bring the troops back to America and build the bases for them in the US). (That is not to say that every single base/installation is absolutely needed and cannot be closed, or that US troops can’t be safely withdrawn from Germany and Italy.)

As for waste, there is not much waste in the defense budget (if DeMint claims otherwise, he needs to prove that claim). And most of the “waste” that Sen. Tom Coburn has supposedly found in it are actual military capabilities and needed weapon systems, and only a tiny minority of that is actual waste. The vast majority of the defense cuts that Coburn proposes are cuts to crucial military capabilities and modernization programs, NOT wasteful spending. So for anyone to use Coburn as a credible source is ridiculous.

While DeMint admits that the US needs modern weapons, technology, intelligence capabilities, and well-trained troops to defend itself, he fails to mention that they cannot be acquired or maintainted on the cheap and cost a lot of money. There’s no way to avoid spending a lot on them. Defense on the cheap is not possible, as the disarmament of European countries has shown.

DeMint further falsely claims:

“And frankly, some of our spending is politically driven because a particular defense system or ship is built in a certain congressional district or state. The money’s allocated not necessarily because our generals want it but because someone in Congress wants it. Those are the kinds of things we need to change. But the first priority of our federal government is to defend our people, and we need to make sure we do that well.”

That’s not true. There are no longer such weapon programs in the defense budget. There were some as recently as a few years ago, but there aren’t any anymore. Robert Gates has closed so much weapon programs that there aren’t really many remaining at all. The DOD’s current weapon programs are not parochial nor politically-driven, they are absolutely needed to replace a wide variety of obsolete, worn-out weapons, and to maintain or, in some cases, increase America’s defense capabilities.

Earlier, on the second page, DeMint said this:

reason: How much of the defense budget can be cut without hurting American preparedness or the ability to protect American lives?

DeMint: I’m not sure what that number is. But I do know there’s waste in Pentagon spending. We’ve identified waste not only in the Pentagon but all across the board. I’ve got a whole chapter on waste that [Oklahoma Republican Sen.] Tom Coburn opens for me. We can find a lot of that. But we have to have a vision for what we want our military to do. And that’s why in the last couple of weeks, I’ve said I want whoever our nominee is in the Republican Party to listen to some of the things Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas] is saying. “

Furthermore, DeMint said on that page:

“But we have to have a vision for what we want our military to do. And that’s why in the last couple of weeks, I’ve said I want whoever our nominee is in the Republican Party to listen to some of the things Rep. Ron Paul [R-Texas] is saying.”

Sen. DeMint is completely wrong. The GOP does need a vision for what the military is expected to do, but to borrow that “vision” from Ron Paul is dangerous and UN-conservative. Ron Paul is completely wrong on military and foreign policy issues.

But most troublingly, DeMint said this:

“If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can be the majority party, it’s going to have to be very inclusive of libertarians and a lot of the things they’re talking about. We’ve got to rethink a lot of the things we’re doing.

It doesn’t threaten me to sit down and talk to someone who’s got a different view on the drug war or the military. If I know they believe in limited government, decentralization of power, individual liberty; we’re on the same page. That’s one of the things I talk about in the book: If you have a shared goal, you can debate and compromise and still move in the right direction (…)”

Jim DeMint is completely wrong.

There are two possibilities. Either he’s dangerously naive, or he’s a wolf in sheep’s clothing just like Ron Paul. A common tactic that liberals and libertarians use to win conservatives’ trust is to agree with us conservatives on 90% of the issues so that we will overlook the other 10%. The 10% that counts.

To paraphrase conservative blogger Publius Huldah: I, Zbigniew Mazurak, have many flaws. But all of them can be overlooked with just a little good will. But if I were caught selling heroin to school children, that could not be overlooked.

It doesn’t matter how much Ron Paul agrees with us conservatives on as long as he disagrees with us on the most important issues: defense, foreign policy, counterterrorism, and Israel. Someone who calls for deep defense cuts and total isolationism is no more our ally than someone calling for socialized medicine. And that, BY ITSELF, completely disqualifies him (and everyone infatuated with him, including DeMint) and renders DeMint’s entire rant irrelevant.

If I were caught selling heroin to schoolchildren, would you care if I’m a good worker, taxpayer, churchgoer, and conservative? Of course not, and rightly so.

Someone who calls for deep defense cuts and/or isolationism is no more conservative than someone who calls for socialized medicine or huge tax hikes on the wealthy.

The Bible says “by their fruit ye shall know them”. Someone might claim to be a conservative and to support the Constitution. But if that person supports deep defense cuts and/or isolationism, either he’s stupid or he’s a liberal and therefore our enemy, and it doesn’t matter what he says on any other issue.

Besides, although Jim DeMint (who is not an intelligent person) clearly doesn’t understand it, America cannot have it both ways. The Nation will either deeply cut (and thus gut) its defense or it won’t. It’s that simple. There’s no middle route, no third way on this issue. Either America will gut its defense or it won’t, just as it could not permanently remain half-slave and half-free.

Furthermore, we conservatives and libertarians differ on more than defense & FP; we differ on what kind of federal government we want. We conservatives, like the Founding Fathers, believe in limited Constitutional government that performs a few discreet crucial functions well, not “no government at all”. Libertarians want the latter. That is a divide that cannot be bridged. There can be no compromise or third way on this huge fundamental difference. And even if one was possible, libertarians are not interested in a compromise; they want everything to be done their way.

Moreover, by saying “It doesn’t threaten me to sit down and talk to someone who’s got a different view on (…) the military”, DeMint essentially said that he doesn’t care about military and foreign policy issues and that he’s willing to ignore them and discard conservative principles related to these issues; and further, that he’s willing to compromise on these crucial issues for the sake of domestic ones.

DeMint (like other libertarians) clearly doesn’t understand that defense, other national security issues, and domestic issues (including civil liberties and the economy) are inextricably linked. You cannot have civil liberties and a strong, secure, growing economy without a strong defense and a foreign  policy that advances America’s national interests.

Furthermore, DeMint laughably claims:

“If we’re going to have a Republican Party that can be the majority party, it’s going to have to be very inclusive of libertarians and a lot of the things they’re talking about.”

This is rich. This comes from the guy who has zero experience and zero credentials in making the GOP the majority party; the guy who said just a few years ago that he would rather lead a small, ideologically pure minority than a large, but ideologically diverse, majority. If his wish were granted, the GOP would probably attract the small percentage of the electorate that the libertarians are, but it would simoultaneously scare away moderate and independent voters who currently vote Republican. This is a recipe for a permanent minority party.

For its part, the so-called “Reason” magazine made the following false claims on the second page:

“What about entitlements and defense spending? Because that’s where the real money is.”

Not really. The real money is NOT in defense spending; it’s in entitlement programs. Military spending amounts to just 19% of the total federal budget (20% according to the Reason magazine itself) and to a paltry 4.6% of GDP. Lumping entitlements and defense spending together is ridiculous and deliberately misleading. It’s like lumping fruit and meat together and claiming that they are the same category of things because they are food.

“The defense budget is 20 percent of all government spending and has increased about 100 percent since 2000.”

That is also a lie. The total military budget amounts to just 19%, which is a very small share, and has not increased by “about 100%” since 2000. Not even close.

The FY2001 DOD budget, signed in CY2000, was $291 bn in then-year dollars, i.e. $390 bn in today’s money. The current (FY2012) DOD budget under the FY2012 NDAA is $645 bn. That means the military budget has increased by only $255 bn, i.e. by only 39.5%, since FY2001. That is not even close to 100%. Gillespie and Welch are simply lying.

In conclusion, Jim DeMint is flat wrong. The GOP should not become any more libertarian than it is, should not adopt any of RP’s ideas (except on drug legalization and privacy), and should not be inclusive for libertarians. As Ronald Reagan rightly said, “a political party cannot be all things to all people.” And for us conservatives, libertarians are not our allies; they are not, contrary to DeMint’s claims, “on the same page” as we are. They profess a completely different ideology and vehemently disagree with us on at least 10% of the issues. The 10% that counts.

Someone who calls for deep defense cuts and/or isolationism is no more my ally than someone calling for socialized medicine.

Why states are required to recognize each other’s marriage certificates

A dispute is currently ongoing about whether or not states have to recognize marriages validly contracted in other states and whether the Congress can liberate them from this duty by statute. Specifically, this dispute pertains to gay couples. Radical social conservatives claim that the Full Faith and Credit Clause of the Constitution authorizes the Congress to allow states, by statute, to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages validly contracted in other states. In other words, they claim that states don’t have to recognize out-of-state same-sex marriages, but they don’t make the same claim regarding heterosexual marriages.

Are they right or wrong? Let’s find out.

Let’s first look at the full text of the Clause, i.e. of Art. IV, Sec. 1. It’s very short. It reads as follows:

“Full Faith and Credit shall be given in each State to the public Acts, Records, and judicial Proceedings of every other State. And the Congress may by general Laws prescribe the Manner in which such Acts, Records and Proceedings shall be proved, and the Effect thereof.”

Now, how to interpret it? I don’t know about you, folks, but most lawyers whom I talk to tell me that one should always interpret laws in good faith, i.e. try to extract clear, unambigous meanings out of them if that’s possible, and consider them ambigous only if, after multiple attempts, I cannot give the text any clear, unambigous meaning.

I believe that the FF&C Clause does require each state to recognize all marriages contracted in all other states in accordance with these other states’ laws. That’s because the Clause says “full faith and credit shall be given in each state”, and then only says that Congress may prescribe the manner in which such acts/records/proceedings shall be proven and their effect. But it doesn’t say that Congress may legislate that they have no effect in other states, or that states can disregard each other’s marriage certificates.

Thus, Congress may require, by general laws, that more than just a marriage certificate/license be presented to prove that marriage was contracted. But it may not legislate that one state can completely disregard other states’ marriage certificate.

Moreover, were I to claim that states can do that and the Congress can, by statute, allow them to do so, I would be arguing an indefensible position. Such an interpretation of the Clause makes it, or assumes that it is, internally inconsistent, self-contradictory, unclear, and ambigous. It assumes that the text is unclear and that the Congress may express this ambiguity by deciding which acts/records/proceedings other states must honor and which ones they don’t have to.

Moreover, if it were true, a dangerous precedent would be set and the country would start rolling on a dangerous slippery slope. By that same logic, the Congress could allow states to:

– refuse to recognize validly contracted heterosexual marriages from other states, because laws on who is eligible to marry vary state by state (some states allow first cousins to marry, most others do not; some states allow girls under 18 to get married, some others do not);
– refuse to recognize divorce rulings from other states (e.g. let’s say that VA decides it opposes divorce on principle, bans divorce completely, and disregards vivorce rulings from other states’ courts);
– refuse to recognize DLs from other states (after all, highway codes and DL exams vary from state to state and CA may refuse to recognize your driver license, if you have one, on the grounds that you may not have been tested sufficiently); how would you like not being allowed to drive into KY or VA because your DL is not considered valid there? or moving to VA and having to pass your DL exams all over again?
– refuse to recognize death certificates from other states; thus, a person who is considered dead in KY may be considered alive in CA.

These would be the unfortunate consequences of adopting such interpretation of the Clause. If Congress can allow states to refuse to recognize same-sex marriages validly contracted in another state, it can also allow states to disregard these other documents. Such an interpretation assumes that the Clause is internally inconsistent, self-contradictory, and unclear. It is not a good faith interpretation.

OTOH, my interpretation is a good faith one. It gives the text a clear, unambigous meaning, and one that is not absurd and is consistent with the meanings of the words in the Clause.

The only proper way to make sure that states don’t have to recognize out-of-state sex marriages is to amend the Constitution. And I support the Federal Marriage Amendment, which would ban same-sex marriage altogether.

Leftist Politico mag caught lying about missile defense

The left-wing Politico mag has published yet another ridiculous screed pertaining to defense issues, this time, a diatribe by a political hack named Edward-Isaac Devere regarding missile defense.

I will not go by every line of his screed and refute each of them individually, as that would be a waste of time. Rather, I shall summarize his lies and refute them in a way similar to the way I refute myths about defense spending.

The purpose of his screed, of course, is to smear missile defense and mislead the American people into believing that it is extremely expensive and totally ineffective. But since even the most leftist Administration in US history doesn’t agree, he’s been forced to quote the most leftist hacks in America, such as Joe Cirincione, as authoritative sources. (Cirincione, although hailed by Dovere as a “nuclear weapons expert and a missile defense critic who calls missile defense “the greatest scam in the DOD”, is actually just an ignorant political hack who has utterly discredited himself with his ridiculous claims.)

Lie #1: The entire missile defense system is totally ineffective. It cannot protect America against any ballistic missile attacks.

Dovere falsely claims that:

“For decades, the military’s been trying to get a missile shield system in place that would eliminate the danger of the kind potentially posed by the rocket North Korea launched Friday morning Pyongyang time. But 60 years and $35 billion later, we’re not there yet. Or, according to many missile defense experts, very close at all.”

To defend his blatant lie, he quotes a former general turned arms control activist, Robert Gard:

““You hear some of them say that it’s the only defense of the United States against ballistic missiles we’ve got. But the problem is, it doesn’t work,” said Lt. Gen. Robert Gard, Jr., the Chairman of the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.”

Those statements are blatant lies (like the rest of the article).

Missile defense systems DO WORK.

The United States Missile Defense System is comprised of a wide variety of equipment: Patriot and THAAD batteries designed against short-to-medium-range missiles, SM-3 sea-launched missiles designed against short-to-intermediate range BMs, ground-based interceptors (GBIs) deployed in Alaska and California, an experimental Airborne Laser aircraft, and a network of ground-based sensors (in the Aleutian Islands, the CONUS, Greenland, Britain), shipborne Aegis BMD radars, and spaced-based sensors. With the possible exception of GBIs and the Airborne Laser, these systems DO work, have been tested dozens of times, have passed the vast majority of their tests, and some of them have been proven in real-life crises. The Aegis radar and SM-3 interceptors have passed over 80% of their tests, and in 2008, they intercepted USA-193, an errant satellite that was about to fall down on Earth; thus, they proved themselves when human life depended on them. PATRIOT interceptors have passed the majority of their tests and have been proven in two real wars: the two Gulf Wars. During the first, they intercepted Iraqi Scud missiles launched at Israel, thus preventing Israel from retaliating against Iraq and breaking up the anti-Iraqi coalition (which Saddam hoped would happen, hence he launched Scuds at Israel). During the Second Gulf War, they intercepted the 10 Iraqi Scuds launched at Kuwait City. THAAD interceptors have passed 10 out of their 14 tests, i.e. 71.42%, and each THAAD battery can cover the area the size of New Jersey. Even the Airborne Laser has passed 60% of its tests, although 5 tests hardly constitute a sufficient evaluation. So in general, the US missile defense system DOES WORK, and if North Korea’s launch of its TD-2 ICBM had succeeded, the missile would’ve likely been intercepted.

Furthermore, the claim that the US has been developing missile defense for 60 years is also a blatant lie. There was no missile defense project at all until the 1960s. But then, Secretary McNamara killed the program (for fears it would upset the strategic balance with the USSR), and in 1972, the US signed the ABM treaty, which banned the development of missile defense systems. No real missile defense effort was made until the Reagan years, and after Clinton dramatically slowed it down, it did not pick up in the earnest until the Bush years.

Lie #2: “But raising more concern: Of the 15 missile intercept tests for the military’s system, seven have failed. After the two failures in 2010, the military delayed the next test until this December —which, if successful, would be the first test to bring down a missile in four years. There’s yet to be a fully-fledged missile defense test even attempted.”

Dovere again misleads readers into thinking, and possibly even believes himself, that the Ground-Based Interceptor (which is the particular BMD system he’s talking about here) is America’s ONLY missile defense system. That, as explained above, is not true. Likewise, the claim that no “fully-fledged missile defense has even been attempted” is also a blatant lie. As for the GBI system itself, it has itself undergone fully fledged tests, and has passed the majority (8 of 15) of its tests. Dovere blasts it for its last two tests, which were failures, but fails to mention how the DOD RESPONDED to these failures (which, BTW, happened in 2o10): by taking the program on a corrective course, detecting the failure’s causes, and eliminating these root causes, at the contractor’s expense (the contract includes a Defects Clause which made the contractor liable for the cost of correcting any flaws). Even Sen. Levin, for a long time a missile defense skeptic, has praised the MDA for doing so and has hailed its approach as an acquisition strategy model (holding contractors responsible).

Have Ground Based Interceptors suffered failures such as these two? Yes. So has aircraft development. Most flight attempts by the Wright Brothers were failures. But they kept trying and continually improved their plane, and eventually succeeded. If they had given up after 2 or even 7 failures, aircraft would not have existed today… unless someone else had resumed the developmental effort.

(And even after aircraft were eventually developed and fielded, many military leaders, such as Marshal Ferdinand Foch, claimed they were militarily useless.)

Test failures are an unavoidable part of any developmental effort. Ronald Reagan understood that and warned that missile defense would not be immune from failures but would nonetheless be necessary. “There will be successes as well as failures and setbacks”, he said in his famous SDI speech in March 1983. But test failures can be overcome, their causes can be detected and removed, and the GBI has nonetheless passed the majority of its tests.

Lie #3: “(…) lost were the questions many defense experts have been asking: whether politicians from both parties are for political reasons defending a defense network built to hold off a threat that may not ever emerge, and isn’t up to date with current thinking about the threats America and its allies face. (…) One argument against the importance of a missile shield is that neither Iran or North Korea has yet developed missiles with the range that the shield is meant to protect from, as the latest broken rocket suggests.”

Again, Dovere suggests that the GBI is America’s only missile defense system, which is untrue. America’s BMD network consists of a wide variety of systems, most of which (Patriots, THAAD, and SM-3 interceptors) are designed against short-, medium-, and intermediate range ballistic missiles, of which Iran and North Korea have hundreds (not to mention China, Russia, Syria, etc.). Obama’s missile defense program, including the EPAA, is, by his own admission, designed primarily against these missiles, with anti-ICBM capabilities to be added in 2020. The DOD’s BMD Review and actual BMD programs also prioritize addressing the SRBM/MRBM threat, which constitutes the bulk of the BMs existing in the world.

Furthermore, the claim that the NK/Iranian ICBM threat is nonexistent and may never emerge is a lie. North Korea will eventually perfect ICBM technology, and its Taepodong ICBMs can theoretically already reach the US. Iran is projected by the US intel community to have ICBMs capable of hitting the US by 2015. According to the Free Beacon, it already has some, having bought them from China. Moreover, the point of a defense is to be AHEAD of the threat, not neck-to-neck with it.

Lie #4: “Perfectly realized, the shield would mean freedom from fear of ballistic attack for the United States and its allies—though not including Israel and South Korea, because of their proximity to the expected launch sites in Iran and North Korea.”

No one is aiming for a “perfect” system, which will never exist. As for Israel and South Korea, they WILL be protected as well. Israel has already deployed two Arrow batteries and is procuring a third; Arrow has been rigorously, successfully tested and can intercept Iranian BMs. South Korea is protected by 16 American Patriot batteries and could be even better protected if it would bother to buy its own Patriot and THAAD batteries and make its warships BMD-capable. The obstacle here is political, not technological. Seoul is simply reticent in defending itself.

Lie #5: Missile defense has been protected from spending cuts even as everything else has been cut. It has become a third rail of federal spending. It’s a sacred cow.

Missile defense was targeted by Obama on his first day. His very first defense budget, for FY2010, cut BMD spending by 1.4 bn USD and cancelled or cut several crucial BMD programs, including the MKV, the KEI, and the ABL. BMD spending was only slightly increased in FYs2011-2012, never reaching its FY2009 level again. Now the ABL program is being completely terminated, and missile defense is slated to be deeply cut if sequestration of defense spending occurs. By contrast, NO federal agency other than the DOD has so far experienced more than slight budget cuts.

In short, Dovere’s entire screed is a litany of blatant lies. It is not surprising that the utterly-discredited leftist Politico mag has published it; no self-respecting publication would ever accept it. It’s nothing more than a pathetic political attack aimed at tarring all missile defense systems in the eyes of Americans with blatant lies.

Why the flat tax is a nonstarter

Today is April 15th, the dreaded Tax Day, so it’s high time to think about what’s the best tax reform proposal for America.

The purpose of this blogpost is to explain why a flat income tax is no solution to the problem of the complexity of the current tax code.

Sen. Rand Paul has recently released his rehashed budget blueprint from last year which, of course, stands no chance of passing and which this year includes, unlike last year, a flat income tax as a component. Like last year, however, he proposes only 500 bn bucks in annual spending cuts.

He assumes that the economy will somehow miraculously rebound that it will produce the remaining 1 trillion bucks of annual revenue to balance the budget? It’s a fantasy. It won’t happen. Paul is merely repeating and rehashing the rosy budget blueprint that he introduced last year. It would never balance the budget. By contrast, the budget plans of the Republican Study Committee and the Heritage Foundation WOULD balance the budget, albeit in a decade.

His flat tax proposal is a nonstarter and shows why he is not serious about tax reform. The biggest problem with the income tax is not that it is progressive, and not even the fact that it contains many tax loopholes. The biggest problem is that it is an INCOME TAX – a tax that confiscates people’s hard-earned earnings. A tax that punishes productivity and savings instead of incentivizing them. An INCOME TAX always is, and always will be, a huge drag on the economy, whether it is flat or not.

Moreover, a flat income tax will also not solve other big problems with the INCOME TAX – the bloated, oppressive IRS; the intrusive IRS audits; the burden of filling out tax returns every year, and so forth. A flat tax is not a solution at all. It is a mere placebo.

Besides, the flat tax is such a joke that it wouldn’t stay flat for very long. It could be made progressive (i.e. new tax brackets could be added) by the next Congress. It would take only one or two Congresses to undo everything that the flat tax could give us.

Don’t believe me? Recall that the CURRENT abomination of a federal tax code started in 1913 as a flat income tax. Yet, by 1917, it was a progressive income tax whose highest rate was 77% – a rate not even the most fervent advocate of the federal income tax dreamed of in 1913.

The flat tax is not a solution, mere a placebo, and should not even be considered. Sadly, too many flat tax supporters, including Rand Paul, are wedded to their precious flat tax idol, so they are not willing to consider anything else. By far the most difficult aspect of converting people to the cause of real tax reform has been to get them to at least CONSIDER an option other than a federal income tax. Once that is done, however, it’s easy to do the rest of the “convincing” task.

Mitt Romney, for one, is open to a consumption tax, including the FairTax, and has praised many of the FT’s virtue. He is not stuck on stupid on the income tax and would like to move the US away from such taxation. That means that with Romney, half of the convincing is already down. All the work that remains is to convince Romney that the FairTax is the best plan to completely replace the federal income tax.

As my friend John Gaver rightly says, and has posted on the HF’s blog:

“I just posted this to the Heritage Blog and to their Facebook page

Let’s see. The current tax abomination began it’s life as a Flat INCOME Tax. So what’s to make us believe that a new Flat INCOME Tax will remain flat beyond the next session of Congress. One look at the names of those in Congress will convince even the most jaded observer that the rate won’t remain flat.One of the primary problems with our current abomination is that, being a tax on INCOME, it drags down the economy, by punishing productivity and savings. Making a tax on INCOME flat, will not make it any less of a drag on the economy or stimulate savings.Yet another serious problem with our current abomination is that it has layer upon layer of hidden taxes, of which most people are not aware. These hidden taxes come in the form of corporate taxes that are embedded in the cost of every new product. This of course drags the economy down even more and amounts to double taxation, since consumers would be buying already taxed products, with after-tax money. Making the Corporate INCOME Tax the same level as the Personal Income Tax will do nothing to eliminate the many layers of hidden taxes, which constitute double-taxation.The whole idea of a Flat INCOME Tax is nothing more or less than a placebo. It will NOT solve any problems, but only mask the existing problems for a little while longer.By contrast, the FairTax will be entirely transparent and will eliminate all double-taxation. It will stimulate the economy, by removing the drag on the economy that ALL INCOME taxes create. But beyond that, it will encourage savings. But above all, unlike INCOME taxes, since it would be entirely transparent, raising the rate of the FairTax would be political suicide.A Flat INCOME Tax of any kind is a non-starter, since flattening the rates would be analogous to re-arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic. The root problems would still exist. The FairTax is the only tax plan being discussed that would actually FIX the problems with our current tax system.

6 reasons why sequestration should not occur

Less than 9 months from now, on January 2nd, 2013, the sequestration of defense spending will kick in unless the Congress stops it.

The opponents of a strong defense are triumphing. They are this close to achieving what they’ve been striving to achieve for decades: completely gutting America’s defense, so they will be able to do what none of America’s external enemies have been able to accomplish: bring the US military to its knees.

So now, as the Congress mulls whether to save defense from sequestration, they are protesting and pressuring the Congress to allow the sequester’s deep, unjustifiable, disproportionate defense cuts to occur.

So I’d like to present the facts to the Congress and the public: 6 reasons why defense spending sequestration should not and must not occur.

#1: It would gut the military.

This is not mere scaremongering. This would be an inevitable consequence of sequestration. The sequester’s cuts ($600 bn over a decade, i.e. 60 bn per year on average, on top of the $487 bn cuts already ordered by the BCA and all previous defense cuts implemented by Obama) would require the DOD to:

  • Cancel the F-35 program completely without replacement, and thus betray foreign program partners
  • Eliminate the ICBM leg of the nuclear triad completely while cutting the bomber fleet by 2/3 and cancelling the bomber replacement program
  • Delay the SSBN replacement program
  • Cancel all except the most basic upgrades for F-15s and F-16s while cutting the fighter fleet by 35%
  • Cut the USN’s ship fleet to 230 vessels, the smallest size since 1915, and vastly inadequate (independent studies say the Navy needs 346 ships)
  • Forego the deployment of any missile defense system abroad
  • Cut the Army to its smallest size since 1940
  • Cancel virtually all Army modernization programs
  • Cut the Marines down to just 145,000 personnel
  • Cut personnel benefits programs to such depth that it would break faith with them (e.g. massive cuts in DOD health programs and retirement benefits), thus discouraging people from joining the military or reenlisting

As testified by Obama’s own SECDEF, as well as all Joint Chiefs, lower-ranking generals, and other DOD officials, and as confirmed by many independent analysts and retired officers, sequestration would completely gut the military. For JCS Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey, sequestration would produce “the definition of a hollow force”. For LTG Mills of the Marine Corps, “sequestration would break faith with those defending America.”

The HASC has come to similar conclusions and also warns that most of the damage that would be done to defense would be irreversible. For example, if you cancel a shipbuilding program that a shipyard relies on, the shipyard will have to close and be liquidated and will not be there to reopen when you’re finally ready to start buying ships again.

Moreover, first tier BCA-mandated budget cuts plus sequestration ($108.7 bn a year on average) plus zeroing out OCO spending (as a result of the inevitable US withdrawal from Afghanistan, $88.5 bn per year on average) means cutting the military budget by a total 32.11% – much deeper than the cuts made after the Vietnam War (26%) and almost as deep as the cuts that followed the Cold War (34%-35%). Now think about it, Dear Reader: we now know that the post-Vietnam and post-Cold-War defense cuts WRECKED the military. So how can we honest expect this round of defense cuts NOT to gut the military? We can’t. Simple math alone should tell you that, even if you don’t believe Obama’s own SECDEF, Deputy SECDEF, and Joint Chiefs of Staff, as well as many lower-ranking generals, retired military officers, and independent analysts.

#2: While gutting the military, it would totally fail to address the deficit problem.

These cuts would be deep in terms of the defense budget (constituting, by themselves, more than 10% of it), but they would utterly fail to address the federal budget deficit, which is $1.3 trillion this fiscal year. Jut this year alone. Sequestration would not even make a dent in that deficit.

#3: It would mean betraying the federal government’s #1 responsibility.

The federal government’s #1 Constitutional duty is providing for the common defense. Gutting defense, as sequestration would, would mean a total dereliction of that duty. The #1 duty of any government is to provide security for its citizens. If the federal government cannot perform that function, there’s no reason to have a federal government at all.

#4: It would be a deeply disproportionate whacking.

Although total military spending amounts to just 19%, and the core defense budget (the part of the military budget that would be it by sequestration) to less than 15%, of total federal spending, it would bear 50% of the brunt of the budget cuts under sequestration. The other 50% of the sequester would be spread across a multitude of domestic discretionary programs, while entitlements would suffer no cuts at all except small reductions ($2 bn per year) of the Medicare program.

#5: It would allow entitlements and other social and domestic programs to skate away with tiny cuts and thus benefit their supporters politically.

Because these cuts would disproportionately hit defense while cutting other federal programs mildly (discretionary programs) or not at all (entitlements, except Medicare), they would politically benefit only the Left, which would win a huge victory this way by managing to protect its beloved social programs (domestic discretionary spending and entitlements) from serious cuts. That should be unacceptable for any conservative, indeed, for any Republican.

#6: It would gut the defense industry.

Although liberals and libertarians won’t like it, I’ll say it anyway: sequestration would gut the defense industry and that’s a VERY BAD THING. The defense industry has already suffered enough as a result of the closure of over 50 procurement programs and Obama’s 2009-2011 defense cuts ($400 bn by his own admission). Now the defense industry, facing the prospect of sequestration and thus mass program closures and order cancellations, is already closing facilities and laying off hundreds of workers.

Proceeding with sequestration would make matters much worse. Many more industrial facilities would be closed (permanently), and hundreds of thousands of defense industry workers would be laid off. According to Secretary Panetta and the Center for Security Policy, the unemployment rate would shoot up by a full percentage point and every state would feel sequestration’s impact on defense deeply.

And that damage would be irreversible in most companies’ and facility cases. As the HASC points out, a shipyard forced to close for many years by sequestration (and the resulting cuts in or cancellations of ship orders) will not wait 10 years for America to balance its budget and will not be open 10 years later when the US Navy will finally have the money to buy ships. Once orders are deeply cut (or cancelled outright), and once shipyards close as a result, they will close permanently.

In short, sequestration would deeply and irreversibly damage America’s defense industrial base, making it much harder to rebuild the military itself down the road.


To sum up, there is no good reason to proceed with defense spending sequestration. There are at least 6 good reasons to cancel it. Let’s hope the Congress does so.

Rebuttal of the Paulbots’ “peace” argument

On the laughable forum, a blogger named Justin has recently posted a ridiculous screed titled “An Open Letter to Ron Paul”, in which he calls on his pseudo-prophet to run as a third party candidate. He claims that there is a “substantial and growing libertarian wing” in the GOP and that the majority of Americans desire peace, yet the GOP, the blogger claims, disregards them, so he thinks the GOP deserves to be “punished” by Paul by running as a 3rd party candidate.

Let’s leave the issue of RP’s chances of “punishing the GOP” aside. Ron Paul is a flake and never was anything more than that. He’s not even a blip on the GOP’s radar. He’s far to the left of even Barack Obama on foreign and defense issues, so if he runs as a 3rd party candidate, he’ll siphon far more votes away from Obama than from Romney (the votes of pacifists, anti-defense leftists, Blame America First traitors, and other whackos who usually vote for Democrats).

Let’s refute the claim that the “libertarians” in the GOP want peace and that the GOP opposes it.

I’m assuming that by the GOP’s supposedly warmongering policies, Justin means the GOP’s support for a strong defense, opposition to deep defense cuts, opposition to Obama’s appeasement of America’s enemies, and support for an America that is generally engaged in the world one way or another – economically, diplomatically, and/or militarily.

I’m also assuming that the policies libertarians claim will bring about peace include massive defense cuts, the withdrawal of all American troops from all foreign countries, termination of all defense commitments to all allies (even close, longstanding allies), retrenchment behind America’s borders, not raising a finger if aggressors threaten or attack America’s allies (even key ones), and standing passively by as America’s foes expand their spheres of influence and as Iran and North Korea develop ICBMs and nuclear weapons.

Libertarians claim that these policies will bring about peace, and they they want nothing but peace. They are lying.

As history has shown, and as Obama’s failed policies are showing everyday, defense cuts, appeasement, and isolationism (or noninterventionism, if you prefer) DO NOT lead to peace. They lead to war.

We saw this happen during the 1930s, when the free world, including the US, refused to arm itself while Nazi Germany and Japan were arming rapidly, and the US had to fight a war it could’ve avoided at a high cost in blood and treasure. We saw the same repeat itself during the 1940s, culminating in the 1950 invasion of South Korea. We saw the same happen during the 1970s, when the US hurriedly withdrew from Vietnam, egan retrenching behind oceans, and the Soviet Union marched from victory to victory, as Marxists invaded half a dozen countries and killed millions of people.

We saw the opposite happen during the 1980s, when Ronald Reagan rebuilt the US military, stood strong against the Soviet Union and Islamic terrorists alike, and won the Cold War without firing a shot.

If America continues to cut its defense, it will severely weaken its military, and thus will fail to deter potential aggressors. It won’t just mean being unable to intervene abroad or to defend America’s allies (as important as they are); it will mean being unable to defend America itself, and there are several threats to the US itself, Iran, Communist China and North Korea just to name a few. This would lead to war, not peace.

That is what always happens when the US severely cuts its defense. It is later forced to rebuild its defense and fight against a new aggressor at a much higher price than what it would cost to keep America’s defense at an appropriate ebb of quality.

Weakness is provocative. Weakness provokes aggressors to perpetrate actions they would otherwise refrain from.

Isolationism (or noninterventionism, if you want to call it that way) would also cause a deterrence failure and thus bring about war, not peace. It would mean American withdrawal from the world, dumping all of America’s allies, breaking all defense commitments to these allies, and consequently a license for all potential aggressors in the world to perpetrate evil and attack their weaker neighbors and targets. For example, North Korea would waste no time in attacking the ROK, and China would quickly subjugate Taiwan, as well as those Asian countries it has serious territorial disputes with (Vietnam, the Phiippines, Japan, etc.). Such a policy would also give these aggressors launchpads (e.g. South Korea) from which to perpetrate further aggression against other countries (including, yes, the United States – don’t think that the crocodile would not come to eat the American people). It would also mean that America’s word, America’s commitment to anything, is completely worthless. No country would ever again trust the US on fur trade, let alone security issues.

In short, isolationism and retrenchment would lead to war and death, not to peace.

Appeasement of, or playing nice with, America’s enemies, such as the dictators of Iran, Venezuela, China, and Russia is also doomed to fail. Suffice to say that Barack Obama has been trying this policy nonstop for the last 3 years, with no success.

The fact, which pacifists, anti-defense leftists, and self-described “libertarians” refuse to recognize to this day, is that there is only ONE thing that can bring about and maintain peace and keep America safe, and that is a strong, well-funded military that will be second to none: very large, well-trained, well-motivated, and equipped with the best weapons and technology that America can produce, competitively and honestly procured in large quantities that bring about economies of scale.

That is the only thing that can bring about and maintain peace. Disarmament, defense cuts, isolationism, and appeasement only bring about death, war, and insecurity.

But pacifists, anti-defense leftists, and libertarians don’t care. Why? Because they don’t really want peace. They just want to pursue their ideological policy of massive defense cuts, eventual disarmament, and retrenchment.

The only thing Justin got right is that most Americans, the peace-loving people that they are, desire peace. But as stated above, only a strong defense can bring about peace – and in the most recent Gallup poll on the subject, 51% of Americans expressed opposition to defense cuts, even as a way of reducing the budget deficit, and only 47% agreed to defense cuts as a deficit reduction measure. ( An earlier Gallup poll found that in general, 57% of Americans oppose defense cuts and this sentiment is shared by a vast majority of Republicans and Tea Partiers.

That is a phenomenal level of opposition to defense cuts, given that for many decades the American people have been bombarded by anti-defense propaganda, portraying defense spending, the DOD, and the military in a bad light, from all sides. I’d say that Ronald Reagan’s lesson that a strong defense is needed to keep the peace and keep America safe has not been lost on most Americans.

Certainly, it has been lost on anti-defense activists, pacifists, and most self-described “libertarians”. But their false claims and pretentions don’t matter. The fact is that the only thing that can bring about and maintain peace, and keep America safe, is a strong national defense, no matter how hard they pretend that defense cuts will somehow bring about peace.

DISCLAIMER: As for actual use of force, I support President Reagan’s guidelines on this issue just like I do on defense posture. Namely, the US should not intervene abroad unless there’s a clear threat to America’s security or crucial interests; troops should be committed wholeheartly or not at all; troops should be committed only with clear, achievable goals and a strategy to achieve them;, and only with popular and Congressional support; and a military intervention abroad should be considered a last resort, not the first. I do not support intervening in irrelevant countries or making American troops crusaders tasked with righting every wrong of this world, or nationbuilding.