One of the most vociferous advocates of deep defense cuts today is Franklin C. “Chuck” Spinney. Spinney is a strident liberal, an advocate of defense cuts, a liar (repeatedly proven to be lying), and an ignorant anti-defense hack who has been proven wrong numerous times. Let’s review his sordid record on defense issues.
In 1977, he began working as an “analyst” for the DOD, and displaying utter, open contempt for authority in general and for DOD leaders in particular, and falsely claimed that the DOD was pursuing complex weapons, when the Carter Administration was actually cancelling such weapon programs en masse. He claimed the DOD was in a “spending frenzy”, when the Carter administration was cutting defense spending every year until FY1981.
In 1980, he wrote an utterly false “study” in which he claimed that the DOD was wrongly pursuing technologically complex, expensive weapons (when the Carter Administration was still in office and the programs it had killed still remained closed, and when defense spending reached its lowest ebb in a generation). (Wackypedia calls them “expensive, scarce and inefficient weapons”.) He wrote a second edition of the report in 1982, and it was proven to be factually wrong and unrepresentative of then-current budgets and programs by SECDEF Caspar Weinberger and David S. C. Chu, Spinney’s immediate superior.
While Wackypedia claims that
“Spinney was hailed as the Pentagon whistleblower, fighting waste, fraud and abuse inside the Pentagon in many articles in the National Journal, Baltimore Sun, The New York Times and many others.”
the fact is that Spinney is no whistleblower; he’s a blatant liar and anti-defense propagandist who has been repeatedly proven to be lying, and to be wrong, on numerous occassions.
And as even Wackypedia admits:
“Many of the systems criticized by the Defense Reform Movement, particularly the F-15 Eagle and the M-1 Abrams tank, however, performed superlatively in the Gulf War and other combat arenas. This had the effect of questioning the validity of some of the movement’s underlying assumptions, leading Spinney to issue a series of 500 of what he termed “E-mail Blasters” on the Internet publishing his criticisms and attacking his critics.”
Indeed, the vast majority of the weapon systems criticized by the defense cuts movement (it should not be called the “defense reform movement”), including the F-15, the M1 Abrams, the B-1, the B-2, and many others, have performed brilliantly in the wars America has fought in the last 22 years. This, by itself, utterly disproved the “movement’s”, and Spinney’s, blatant lies.
But it shouldn’t be called “the defense reform movement”, because it didn’t want defense reform. What they wanted was to deeply cut the defense budget, gut the US military, and emasculate it while saddling it with old, obsolete, substandard weapons inferior to the latest Soviet designs. For example, they opposed the B-1 and B-2 bombers, the F-15 and ATF fighters, and the M1 Abrams tank, and wanted the military to use obsolete, unsurvivable, easy-to-defeat B-52 bombers, F-4 Phantom fighters, and M60 tanks. Had they gotten their wish fully, the US military would’ve become totally inferior to the Soviet military in the 1980s and would’ve lost the Cold War. I repeat: the so-called “defense reform movement” did not want reform at all. What it sought were deep, crippling defense cuts and depriving the US military of new equipment.
Spinney also wrote, in the late 1990s, a screed titled “Shape Up and Fly Right: How to Build a Better Air Force for Less Money”. In it, he proposed base closure, squadron mergers, and moving more units from the active force to the AF Reserve to save money. But reserve units are just as expensive to utilize as active-duty units if called into actual service, and as for base closure and squadron mergers, the USAF has already done that to a large extent since 1988.
In another screed, he falsely claimed that:
“The Pentagon’s strategists produce budgets that simply cannot be executed because they assume a defense strategy depends only on goals and threats. Strategy, however, is about possibilities, not hopes and dreams. By ignoring costs, U.S. strategists abdicate their responsibility for hard decisions.”
Again, false. The DOD’s strategists produced budgets and strategies constrained by fiscal limitations in the late 1980s, the 1990s, and under President Obama. They DID fit their strategies and budgets to fiscal constraints when these arose. The best known example is the FY2013 DOD budget proposal, crafted by Sec. Panetta under the Budget Control Act’s fiscal caps.
Wackypedia also notes that:
“In September 2000, in a Defense Weekly commentary, he called the move to increase the military budget from 2.9% to 4% of the GDP as ” tantamount to a declaration of total war on Social Security and Medicare in the following decade.””
But that claim of Spinney’s is also a blatant lie. There has been no war or “declaration of total war” on SS, Medicare, or Medicaid. The budgets of all three entitlement programs have actually exploded during the last decade, growing on autopilot (as always – they are not subject to annual Congresssional appropriations) and now they amount to over 60% of the total federal budget. Military spending, OTOH, amounts to just 17% (including war costs and the DOE’s nuclear weapon programs). The following Heritage Foundation chart (from 2008) documents how much bigger entitlement programs are compared to defense, and how quickly they have grown over the last decade.
And increasing military spending to just 4% of GDP, which is still less than what the US spent on its military for the ENTIRETY of the Cold War except FY1948, was a very modest increase. 2.9% of GDP, the trough reached in FY2000 and FY2001, was the lowest level of defense spending since before Pearl Harbor.
In 2000, Spinney was also lying that the US was spending 4 times more on defense than at the peak of the Vietnam war, in raw dollar terms. How did Spinney reach such a conclusion? By completely ignoring inflation. In real (inflation-adjusted) terms, defense spending was, in 2000, at its lowest ebb in a generation. That’s how blatantly Spinney was (and still is) lying.
But the real reason why Spinney opposes adequate defense spending is because he’s a strident LIBERAL who wants the federal government to spend more on education, healthcare, and “alternative energy”. He’s on the “military advisor board” of the leftist group “Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities”, established by the George Soros funded “Center for American Progress”. That group, and Spinney himself, advocates a deep, 15% cut of the military budget (which would mean cutting the base defense budget down to 455 bn, not even nearly enough for even the most basic defense functions like nuclear deterrence) and redirecting that money into education, healthcare, and “alternative energy”, even though the US already spends far more on education and healthcare than any other country in the world, and even though “green energy sources” are totally uneconomical and totally dependent on government subsidies and will never be economically feasible. That’s Spinney’s logic: DOD waste (real or perceived) is bad, but wasting taxpayers’ money on wasteful, uneconomical “green energy” projects run by Democrat cronies is good.
Given Spinney’s lifelong advocacy of deep defense cuts, the closure of crucial weapon programs, and other liberal policy (including showering “education”, “healthcare”, and failed “green energy” projects with taxpayers’ money), it’s no wonder that in 2003, the George-Soros-funded anti-defense group POGO gave Spinney its “Good Government Award”.
It is also not surprising that Spinney writes screeds for the extremely leftist Counterpunch website, which, as Daniel Greenfield notes, “even Stalinists think goes a bit too far.” Birds of a feather tend to flock together. Since Spinney is an extreme leftist and an advocate of deep defense cuts, it’s not surprising to see him team up with other leftist advocates of deep defense cuts, such as the ignorant hacks at POGO and Counterpunch.
But today, the man whom POGO and PBS’s Bill Moyer called a man of unquestionable integrity, has been proven to be a shameless, dishonest liar, an extremist leftist, and an advocate of destructive policies.