Rebuttal of PseudoconservativeHQ’s blatant lies

The libertarian, pseudoconservative website called “ConservativeHQ” (but one which has little to do with conservatism and is run by Ron-Paul-supporting libertarian fanatics) has published yet another litany of blatant lies on defense issues. It calls on Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan to reject “neo-con national security policy”, which is their name for providing adequately and generously for America’s national defense.

They falsely claim that:

“Indeed, in McCain’s truculent opposition to any reduction in the Pentagon’s budget, it seems Republicans are prepared to dig in their heels to protect the vast increase in Pentagon spending that began after the September 11, 2001 Jihadist attacks on the U.S and has continued through the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.”

But that’s a blatant lie. Sen. McCain does not oppose ANY reduction of the DOD budget – he has said that “some” defense cuts need to be made (I disagree with him) and has, like others, accepted the First Tier BCA-mandated defense cuts ($487 bn), as well as President Obama’s numerous previous defense cuts, including the massive weapon program closures of FY2010 and FY2011, the New START, and the $178 bn Gates Efficiencies Initiative. Other Republicans have also accepted these defense cuts.

What Sen. McCain was speaking out against (and rightly so), as are other Republicans, was SEQUESTRATION – the additional $550 bn in defense cuts (on top of all the defense cuts mentioned above) currently scheduled for defense – cuts that would be draconian and would cripple the military for the reasons stated here.

PseudoconservativeHQ is totally misrepresenting his statement; in other words, it is blatantly lying about it.

The website also claims that:

“the political reality is that not all of the reductions in spending will come from the domestic policy side of the budget.”

But defense, as noted above, has already contributed a huge deal to deficit reduction (to say nothing of sequestration), while no other government agency or program has so far contributed ANYTHING meaningful. Furthermore, it is not necessary to make further cuts in defense to balance the budget, as proven by Chairman Ryan’s own budget plan as well as those of the RSC and Sens. Toomey and Lee. Politically, it won’t be necessary either if Republicans retake the Senate and the White House.

It is immoral and detrimental to national security to cut defense spending deeply to cut a “compromise” with the Democrats, or to kowtow to mobs. Defense is to be the #1 Constitutional DUTY of the federal government, not a sacred cow.

PseudoconservativeHQ is also lying (following a completely false US News and World Report story) that

“According to U.S. News and World Report, America spends about five times as much on defense as China, the country with the second highest military budget in the world. We spend more than twice the combined total of the countries with the four highest military budgets after ours.”

But that is evidently false. China’s military budget is difficult to estimate, but the DOD estimates it to be at least $160 bn (and possibly $250 bn), and SIPRI says it’s $143 bn. At any rate, the US does NOT spend 5 times as much on defense as China: the current US military budget is $645 bn, well short of the $715 bn it would have to be to outsize China’s military budget by 5 times even by SIPRI’s understated figures. If we accept the DOD’s figure for the PLA budget, $160 bn x 5 = $800 bn. The US military budget isn’t even close to this.

Moreover, comparisons between America’s and other countries’ military budgets are completely invalid and irrelevant for several reasons:

  • There are vast PPP differences between the US and developing countries such as China and Russia. Because of this, $1 (not to mention $180 bn) can buy much more in these countries than in the US.
  • Large parts of other countries’ military expenditures are hidden off their official military budgets. In China, this is true for the majority of their spending, including weapon purchases, the infrastructure, and personnel costs, and the PLA also has off-budget sources of income.
  • In China, military infrastructure and personnel costs are largely borne by provincial governments, not the PLA.

Moreover, both China and Russia have embarked on, and continue, large military buildups which are aimed against the US and have already exceeded their legitimate self-defense requirements.

PseuconservativeHQ also falsely claims that

“Plus, plenty of congressional pork comes in the guise of defense spending. Stories of $17,000 oil pans and other defense procurement outrages by politically connected defense contractors have become so common as to lose their attraction as front page news or to merit a special segment on one of the top TV news programs.”

But the stories of $17,000 oil pans are obsolete and date back from the 1980s and do not reflect the DOD’s today practices. Moreover, all waste in the defense budget is not big enough to pay for deep defense cuts. It’s merely a small part of the budget. The idea that the US can deeply cut its defense spending just by cutting out “waste” is a fantasy, although a dangerous one.

Recall, for example, the scandal over the Navy’s purchase of “green” fuels for aircraft: that purchase’s total cost is worth, at most, a few billion dollars. The First Tier of the BCA alone requires the DOD to cut its budget by $487 bn over the next decade.

PseudoconservativeHQ also blatantly lies by claiming that:

“At present, only two Republican national security policy alternatives seem to be on the table: the non-interventionism of Congressman Ron Paul and the more libertarian-minded among us; and the uncritical support of the Pentagon, and its bloated budget, offered by neo-cons such as Senator McCain and former Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice.”

The claim that the DOD’s budget is “bloated” is a blatant lie, and probably the most blatant of all false claims in that CHQ screed. The entire DOD budget amounts to just 4.22% of America’s GDP (which is $15.29 trillion) and less than 17% of the total federal budget. The base defense budget equals just 3.47% of America’s GDP and less than 15% of the TFB. At 3.47% of GDP, it is the lowest share devoted by America to its defense since FY1940, excepting only the late 1990s.

The claim that Sen. McCain has offered “uncritical support of the DOD and its budget” is also a blatant lie. Sen. McCain himself has criticized the DOD and its budget on many occassions, including earlier this year when he delivered a ridiculous rant against the mythical “military-industrial-congressional complex”. And as stated, he has accepted defense cuts in principle.

The claim that the only alternatives on the table are Ron Paul’s isolationism and neoconservatism advocated by Condoleezza Rice and some other Republicans is also false. There is a third option: the traditional conservative policy of peace through strength (which predates neocons by a long shot) first articulated by Barry Goldwater and later articulated even more eloquently by Ronald Reagan. This policy calls for a strong, unmatched, GENEROUSLY funded US military, combined with rigorous oversight of the DOD, honest analysis of America’s defense needs, and intervening abroad when (and only when) America’s national interests are at stake. Today’s advocates of such Reaganite policy include Sarah Palin and myself. I’ve proposed 10 basic principles for such policy.

PseudoconservativeHQ also claims that:

“If Paul Ryan and Mitt Romney are going to make good on Ryan’s promise to limit federal spending to 20% of GDP, they are going to have to reject the neo-con model and develop a new national security strategy. One based on economy of action, which rejects the influence of the military-industrial complex (and its hunger for tax dollars), and stresses the development of policy, means and systems based on an honest assessment of which nations and world events offer existential threats to the United States, and which do not.”

But the military-industrial complex is a myth. The question which defense cutters continue to refuse to answer is,  if it exists, why has it utterly failed to stop any defense cuts – even sequestration, which would gut the US military as well as the defense industry? Just 4 months remain before sequestration kicks in, and they still haven’t managed to do ANYTHING to even come CLOSE to getting the Congress to cancel it.

As for “an honest assessment”, what PseudoconservativeHQ staff seems to be ignorant of (or refusing to accept) is that such an assessment may come to a significantly different conclusion than they would expect it to, even if one were to limit it only to existential threats to America (which would be foolish; Iran and North Korea are not existential threats to the US, but they nevertheless do threaten US security and its national interests significantly). There are, right now, at least two existential threats to America: Communist China and Putinist Russia, two peer competitors engaged in a military buildup that has long ago exceeded their legitimate self-defense needs.

So any “honest assessment” would have come to the conclusion that these threats exist, are very lethal, and that America cannot be defended on the cheap and has large defense needs; and therefore, that defense spending cannot be deeply cut without jeopardizing national security. Because those are the facts.

Finally, I’d like to address an implicit notion in the title and the text of that PseudoconservativeHQ screed: that providing generously for national defense and opposing deep defense cuts is a “neo-con” policy. It is not. It is a traditional conservative policy dating back to at least Barry Goldwater, and it is mandated by the Constitution. It is a necessary requirement of being a conservative. For a website calling itself “ConservativeHQ” to denigrate it as a “neo-con” notion and to advocate deep defense cuts is ridiculous and UN-conservative.

As one of their registered users, RandyKyle7, has said:

“Well let’s see here, China is ramping up it’s military, including it’s navy, Vladimir Putin is also strengthening alliances with every other communist enemy we have INCUDING China and you imbeciles want to (just like the democowards) keep pulling our shorts down around our ankles! “To provide for the national defense” is one of only THREE Constitutional expenditures my government has! I guess I don’t know what a “neo” con is. I mistakenly thought they were just “new” conservatives. Guess not.”


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