On October 8th, the day Mitt Romney delivered his VMI speech, the Washington Examiner published an utterly ridiculous screed by Gene Healy. It’s utter garbage, written of course by a leftist libertarian from the CATO Institute (which is co-financed by George Soros).
Firstly, the US does not have a “bloated” military budget. Not even close. The total US military budget amounts to a paltry 4.22% of America’s GDP and just 17% of the total federal budget, not 20% as Healy claims.
Any claim that America’s military budget is “bloated” is a blatant lie.
Secondly, America’s extended force posture, while arguably overstretched, is necessary to protect America itself, not merely its allies (although they are worth protecting). Hiding behind oceans will not protect the US, just as it failed to protect America everytime this cretinous policy was tried before.
Today’s threats, such as foreign countries acquiring long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons (vide North Korea, Iran, and others), conventional peer competitors such as China and Russia (both of whom are led by anti-American governments), terrorism, piracy, and other threats – not to mention aggression and coercion against America’s crucial economic partners like Japan and South Korea – necessitate the forward deployment of US troops abroad. Like it or not, it’s a reality. And they require a large and very capable military – far larger and far more capable than the CATO Institute would be willing to accept.
Protecting America requires the same capabilities as protecting its allies, in nearly the same quantities, because the US is a huge country with a huge territory, population, and coastlines to defend, not to mention Russia’s and China’s huge nuclear arsenals whose owners have to be deterred. Protecting America cannot be done on the cheap, as explained here:
Defending America itself requires, among other things, providing:
- A large, survivable nuclear triad;
- Conventional long range strike retaliatory capabilities;
- A robust, multilayered missile defense system;
- A superlative fighter fleet consisting of the most modern fighters available;
- A robust CSAR aircraft fleet;
- A large, versatile Navy with a full set of diverse capabilities to protect America’s three coasts and American civilian shipping around the world (from pirates, for example);
- A large ground Army to guard America’s southern border;
- Cargo aircraft to haul cargo, mail, and personnel around;
- A robust, diverse intelligence apparatus;
- Space capabilities;
- A very diverse set of ISR platforms and early warning radars and aircraft;
- Medical programs needed by the troops;
- The training that the troops need; and
- Other capabilities.
And that’s assuming an isolationist foreign policy and not defending any allied country.
None of these capabilities is cheap, yet all of them are absolutely needed in large quantities to protect America itself.
So like I said, any claim that America’s military budget is “bloated” is a blatant lie.
Healy accuses Romney of not being morally serious, but it’s Healy who isn’t morally serious here. He falsely claims that the defense budget is exempt from budget cuts. This isn’t even close to being true. Defense has already contributed $920 bn in savings since 2009 (and will contribute more as US troops withdraw from Afghanistan), while no other government program or agency has contributed any significant savings and most haven’t seen any budget cuts at all.
In 2009 and 2010, the DOD had to kill over 50 crucial weapon programs. In 2010, the US ratified the New START treaty, which obligates only the US (not Russia) to cut its nuclear arsenal deeply. Then, in January 2011, Secretary Gates announced another $178 bn in budget cuts. Then, in April 2011, Obama demanded another $400 bn in defense budget cuts. He got more than what he demanded in the Budget Control Act, whose First Tier obligates the DOD to cut its base budget by $487 bn over the next decade, on top of all defense cuts already
implemented. And now, sequestration, i.e. a round of a further $600 bn in defense cuts, is scheduled to kick in on January 2nd, 2013. Only a shameless liar would claim that defense is being exempt from cuts.
Secretary Gates, whom Healy likes to quote selectively, has actually spoken out strongly against further defense cuts, including sequestration, most recently during a CSIS videoconference on the subject. See here:
Transcript here: http://csis.org/files/attachments/120917_Strengthening_America_Forum_II_transcript.pdf
Healy lectures Romney about the Constitution, but he clearly doesn’t know the Constitution himself. Under the Supreme Law of the Land, defense is to be the Federal Government’s #1 Constitutional DUTY. On the other hand, entitlements, welfare programs, agriculture programs, education spending, and so forth are utterly unconstitutional as they are outside the scope of the federal government’s legitimate prerogatives.
Healy lectures Romney about the President’s Constitutional responsibilities, but he apparently doesn’t know what the Constitution obliges him to do. One of the President’s duties is to “take care that laws be faithfully enacted.” Among the laws he is to enact are the defense treaties the US has validly signed and ratified with its allies. But of course, CATO, as a “noninterventionist” institute, wants these treaties to be scrapped.
Furthermore, there is nothing in the Constitution prohibiting the President and the Congress from intervening abroad, establishing military alliances, or defending allies when they deem that necessary.
But most importantly, Romney was talking about the President’s MORAL responsibility. And on that, he’s right. It is immoral to passively stand by as Islamists are taking over one country after another, assassinating American ambassadors, and conducting terrorist attacks; as Israel is being threatened with annihilation; as Iran is progressing fast towards nuclear weapons, which would trigger a regional arms race; as China is threatening its neighbors in the Pacific Rim and preparing for aggression against them. It is indeed the President’s moral responsibility to stand up to these aggressors and to defend America’s allies – because America’s security depends on this as much as allies’ security does.
Healy objects to the US using its power to shape history, but the reality of this world is that either you shape the events, or the events shape you. That’s the only choice you have.
Last but not least, Healy’s claim that “
A Romney administration will pivot like a dervish, directing American force and authority everywhere at once.” is utterly false, just like the rest of his screed.
Romney is NOT advocating “directing American force and authority everywhere at once” – only where and when they are absolutely needed, against the gravest threats. Thus, Mitt Romney would reassure America’s Central European allies about America’s commitment to them, and possibly deal with Iran militarily (which is now the only viable option; containment would be an utter failure) and bolster American deployments in Asia. Those are his 3 priorities. He would also arm Syrian insurgents, but they would have to win their freedom themselves. That’s a far cry from “directing American force and authority everywhere at once.” Healy’s claim, like the rest of his screed, is not even close to being true.
Shame on the Washington Examiner for hiring him as a columnist, and shame on the Examiner for publishing this ridiculous, pathetic screed. It only serves to discredit this pathetic newspaper.