Tag Archives: US military

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.

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.

The lies of the so-called “Committee for the Republic”

DISCLAIMER: I do not support going to war without a declaration of war (or at least a Congressional authorization of war), nor do I support going to war for light reasons. But I do believe that sometimes, under certain conditions, going to war is justified.

The pseudoconservative ACU has allowed a pseudoconservative, conspiracy-theorist, libertarian group called “Committee for the Republic” (which is headed by people like Bruce Fein, a libertarian anti-defense propagandist) to open an event during the upcoming 2012 CPAC. I wanted to know what that group is, so I googled it and when I found its website, I was appalled.

This group propagates anti-defense lies that not even the most leftist Democrats would dare to utter (because they know they’d be laughed out of town if they did) and is absolutely opposed not just to a strong defense (i.e. a strong military), but to the US military per se.

Here are the false claims it makes in its goal statement:

“Citizens have a duty to educate themselves about the clear and present dangers to the Republic.” (The C4TR claims later on that the existence of the US military, military spending, and wars per se are dangers to the Republic.)

Then, it quotes James Madison out of context, saying that:

“Madison wrote Thomas Jefferson: “Perhaps it is a universal truth that the loss of liberty at home is to be charged against provisions against danger, real or pretended, from abroad. . . Of all the enemies of public liberty, war is perhaps the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies. From these proceed debts and taxes. And armies, debts and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the dominion of the few. . . . No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.””

Yet, the US is NOT in the midst of continual warfare, and has never been, and Madison himself supported readiness for war and a military ready for war. When other people objected to this, he asked them rhetorically:

“How could a readiness for war in times of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?”

The next lies of the C4TR are not just blatant, but also insulting. It falsely claims that:

“Of the hundreds of wars in American history, there have only been five declarations of war and three Presidents lied to Congress to win those declarations. For fifty years, no President has exercised effective civilian control over the military.”

Those are blatant lies. Firstly, there have not been “hundreds of wars in American history” – shorttime interventions like those in the Falklands in 1832 and in Haiti in 1994 were not wars. Secondly, the claim that “three Presidents lied to the Congress” to win declarations of war is also false. The Committee does not explain who it thinks lied, but I’m assuming they meant William McKinley, Woodrow Wilson, and FDR. Kinley didn’t lie; the Spanish DID plant naval mines in the USS Maine’s way, causing it to sink, and WERE committing genocide and other atrocities in Cuba, thus justifying an American intervention. Wilson did not lie about German aggression against half of Europe or the sinking of the Lusitania and other unarmed ships carrying unarmed American civilians, which was an act of barbarity. FDR didn’t lie about Japanese aggression, which DID happen in Pearl Harbor on December 7th, 1941, and was unprovoked. (Don’t try to claim that the Japanese were provoked or forced to do so by American sanctions recommended by Lt. Arthur McCollum – these sanctions were imposed in response to Japanese aggression and genocide in Asia and were not deadly for Japan, which was exploiting half of the continent for its economic benefit, which was the purpose of its conquests).

The claim that for the last 50 years no President has exercised “effective civilian control over the military” is also a blatant, unproven lie. Every President has exercised effective civilian control over the US military. JFK refused to listen to his generals (who demanded that Cuba be bombed during the Cuban Missile Crisis) and instituted a naval blockade instead. LBJ prohibited his generals from bombing North Vietnam effectively and imposed restrictive Rules of Engagement on the US military, thus ensuring that it would not be allowed to fight effectively. He also berated his Joint Chiefs of Staff weekly. Obama has imposed restrictive ROE on the military and has no qualms about “retiring” generals whom he doesn’t like or those who make arrogant remarks, such as David McKiernan and Stanley McChrystal. For the last 23 years, senior US generals have been nothing more than mouthpieces and spokesmen for the Presidents they’ve served under. The US military is, and has always been, under civilian control. The President (not the Congress) is the Commander-in-Chief; all senior DOD officials, from the Secretary of Defense down to Principal Under Secretaries and Service Secretaries, are civilians. No person may be appointed SECDEF or Deputy SECDEF less than 7 years after retiring from active duty with the military. The military is also required to be apolitical and not to criticize the President or the DOD leadership publicly. All combatant commands are subordinated directly to the SECDEF, omitting the Joint Chiefs of Staff. No military commander has the title of “commander-in-chief” since 2002, because the President is the military’s ONLY commander-in-chief.

“The last to do so, Eisenhower, reviewed the budgets of the Army, the Marines, the Navy and the Air Force and grilled each service chief for one day each month. In his Farewell Address a half a century ago, Eisenhower warned:

“In the counsels of Government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the Military Industrial Complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists, and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes.”

This is supposed to imply that Eisenhower supported deep defense cuts and that he would’ve supported them today if he were alive today. Nothing could be further from the truth. Not only is this quote incorrect (Eisenhower actually said “In the councils of government”), it is taken out of context and misused, as is habitual for the opponents of a  strong defense. Here is the full relevant quote:

“Now this conjunction of an immense military establishment and a large arms industry is new in the American
experience. The total influence — economic, political, even spiritual — is felt in every city, every Statehouse, every office of the Federal government. We recognize the imperative need for this development. Yet, we must not fail to comprehend its grave implications. Our toil, resources, and livelihood are all involved. So is the very structure of our society.

In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex. The potential for the disastrous rise of misplaced power exists and will persist. We must never let the weight of this combination endanger our liberties or democratic processes. We should take nothing for granted. Only an alert and knowledgeable citizenry can compel the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals, so that security and liberty may prosper together.”

If one reads the entire speech, rather than just one sentence quoted out of context, it is clear that Eisenhower did not call for any defense cuts. What he did do was to call for “the proper meshing of the huge industrial and military machinery of defense with our peaceful methods and goals”, and not to allow it to subvert America’s ordinary democratic political process, “so that security and liberty may prosper together”, which he rightly believed possible, and which has been achieved in the United States. The defense establishment HAS been combined with America’s peaceful methods and goals, and has NOT skewed the democratic political process. As for the establishment of a large peacetime standing army and a large arms industry, Eisenhower said, “we recognize the imperative need for this development.”

Morever, earlier in the speech, Eisenhower said:

“A vital element in keeping the peace is our military establishment. “our arms must be mighty, ready for instant action, so that no aggressor will risk his self-destruction.”

So, instead of seeing the military establishment as a threat to America’s civil liberties, its economy, or its prosperity, he called it “a vital element in keeping the peace” – which it is. Without a strong defense you cannot have peace. So the implication that he called for defense cuts in his farewell address, or that the defense industry and the US military rule the country or have corrupted the democratic political process, is a blatant lie.

Moreover, Eisenhower’s presidential and post-presidential papers, available at the Eisenhower Library and on its website, have shed additional light onto the speech and President Eisenhower’s intent. They confirm what I’ve been saying all along. In a 1966 letter to a Special Committee of the American Veterans Council, President Eisenhower wrote:

“Dear Mr Karson

Thank you for your complimentary remarks on the TV address I made just as I left the Presidency. I am glad to know that your organization is devoting time and energy to studying the ramifications of what I then called the “military-industrial complex”.

The influence of tremendous munitions expenditures is felt in every phase of our national life – millions today owe their prosperity, indeed their livelihood to this kind of production. Communities, and manufacturers, compete for new munitions facilities or contracts; to obtain such favorable situations political influence is sought and often given. Manifestly all of us should be alert to the possibility that munitions production could become so imprtant that whole communities will look upon it as a way of life; we may forget that these expenditures are merely for the purpose of defending ourselves and what we now have.

Our struggle against world Communist involves military, economic, and spiritual factors. Each is equally important and it is up to us to see that we maintain the necessary strength in each and the proper balance among the three.



As one can clearly read from this letter from the man himself – President Eisenhower – he was NOT calling for any defense cuts, nor did he label the US military or the US defense industry a grave threat to civil liberties and democracy. What he did call for was 1) making sure that munitions production does not become a way of life for the country; 2) keeping all three elements of national power – military, economic, and spiritual – equally strong, and keeping a proper balance among the three.

So, instead of wanting defense cuts, he wanted a strong, adequately funded defense – but also balance between military, economic, and spiritual power, as he considered all of them equally important for protecting America and for defeating the Communists.

Additionally, in a 1985 letter to Mark Teasley (an employee of the Eisenhower Library), Ralph E. Williams, who worked with President Eisenhower on writing speeches and participated in the writing of the speech, remarked:

“I have always been astonished at the attention that has been given to the “military-industrial complex” portion of President Eisenhower’s last speech, and agree with Pete aurand that its true significance has been distorted beyond recognition. I am sure that had it been uttered by anyone except a President who had also been the Army’s five-star Chief of Staff it would long since have been forgotten. But as things were, it became red meat for the media, who have gleefully gnawed on it for twenty five years.”

Moreover, the context matters. When Eisenhower took office, defense spending amounted to 14% of GDP and when he was leaving office, it still amounted to 10% of GDP and the majority of the entire federal budget. Today, total US military spending amounts to a tiny 4.51% of GDP and just 19% of the total federal budget, with the absolute majority of the TFB, 63%, being consumed by entitlements. It was one thing for Eisenhower to express doubts about the kind of military spending he oversaw in his day. It is quite another to deliberately quote a tiny, selected part of his speech out of context more than half a century later and misportray it as something it was not.

And as for Eisenhower grilling service chiefs for one day each month and reviewing service budgets, I would much rather have that kind of President than Bush the Elder, Clinton, George W. Bush, or Obama. Whereas Eisenhower reviewed defense budgets, Bush I, Clinton, and Obama have all cut them deeply (and Obama plans to make even deeper cuts). Bush I and Clinton closed hundreds of weapon programs, started a procurement holiday that continues to this day, cut the force structure in half, closed hundreds of bases, cut the US nuclear arsenal by more than half, and cut defense spending by 35% in real terms. As a share of GDP, it shrank from roughly 6% of GDP in FY1989 to 3.0% of GDP in FY2001. In doing so, they gutted the military. Obama began defense cuts on his first day as President, closing over 50 weapon programs. He has already cut defense spending by more than $400 bn by his own admission, and now plans to cut it by $487 bn. Even worse, he threatens to veto any legislation that would abolish the sequestration mechanism or change the distribution of its cuts, which is currently configure to hit the DOD by an additional $600 bn, forcing it to bear 50% of the brunt of the budget cuts even though it accounts for only 19% of total federal spending. Eisenhower was very generous by comparison.

Last but not least, Eisenhower was the author of several large-scale defense projects of the 1950s, including the procurement of 1000 bombers and tankers, the procurement of 41 ballistic missile submarines, and the construction of a complete Air Defense System consisting of radars, SAMs, and interceptor aircraft. Does the Committee like these projects? Would the Committee approve of them if they were proposed today? Of course not. Today, such projects would not stand any chance of implementation at all; they would be dismissed as too costly, not to mention all the EISes. But Eisenhower carried them out in the 1950s.

Furthermore, the C4TR lies that

“Better than any other President, Eisenhower gave voice to the original fear the Founders felt about the military.”

Actually, most of the Founders did not feel “fears” about the US military, because they understood that it was necessary and had to be strong and ready for war in order to defend America. Some of them, such as George Washington, were former professional military officers. John Adams said, “National defense is one of the cardinal duties of a statesman.” For his part, George Washington said in his first State of the Union Address to the Congress:

“Among the many interesting objects which will engage your attention, that of providing for the common defence will merit particular regard. (…) To be prepared for war is one of the effective means of preserving the peace.”

And as stated above, James Madison supported a military ready for war and a state of readiness for war, and when hearing objections, he asked: “How could a readiness for war in times of peace be safely prohibited, unless we could prohibit, in like manner, the preparations and establishments of every hostile nation?”

Furthermore, the Committee falsely claims:

“He reminded Americans that military spending competes with American businesses and undermines the nation’s economic strength. “We must not destroy from within,” Eisenhower warned, “what we are trying to defend from without.” Each armament diverts resources from the free enterprise system.”

That is also a blatant lie. Defense spending (or spending on armaments) does NOT take away money from the free enterprise system, because everything that the DOD buys – every weapon, every barrel of fuel, every missile, every bullet – has to be bought from and produced by the same free enterprise system – specifically, by the private companies that function in this system. Every DOD contract for every weapon and every piece of ammunition ploughs money back into the free enterprise system, allowing private companies to make a profit and to hire employees. Every DOD contract for every armament is fulfilled by private companies that produce all of the weapons, ammunition and equipment that the US military uses. There is no state-owned defense industry in the US. Everything the DOD buys has to be produced by private companies.

Moreover, the idea that the current military budget is somehow strangulating the free enterprise system or undermining America’s economic strength is false. America’s current military budget ($662 bn) amounts to a paltry 4.51% of GDP. It is a historically and absolutely light “burden” on the US economy.

Military spending is NOT competing with private businesses. All DOD contracts are awarded to, and have to be fulfilled, by private businesses, without whom the DOD would not have even one rifle.

Furthermore, the C4TR is ignoring the fact that without a secure country (i.e. without a strong defense), there will be NO free enterprise system – the US will be exposed to blackmail and attacks, both of which will, like the 9/11 attacks, inflict significant damage on the US economy. In short, if the country is not secure, it will be neither free nor prosperous. Just one example will illustrate the point: without a strong Navy to protect the world’s sealanes and American merchant ships, the US won’t be able to trade safely with the outside world (except Mexico and Canada), because sealanes such as the Strait of Hormuz may face closure by hostile belligerents such as Iran and merchant ships may (and are) attacked by pirates.

“Eisenhower foresaw that the American economy would suffer from a special interest takeover of the federal government. “There is no defense for any country that busts its own economy.””

The idea that defense spending is somehow busting the US economy is downright ridiculous and laughable. America’s current military budget ($662 bn) amounts to a mere 19% of the total federal budget and a paltry 4.51% of GDP. Throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948, it claimed a larger – usually much larger – share of both the federal budget and America’s GDP than that. During Eisenhower’s time, it amounted to 10% of GDP (14% when he began his first term) and more than half (i.e. the absolute majority) of all federal spending. Therefore, while it might have been high or “unsustainable” during Eisenhower’s time – given that it was as high as 10-14% of GDP – it is not any longer.

“Eisenhower warned that it was unsustainable for the U.S. to continue spending more on defense than “the net income of all U.S. corporations”. Last year, the Fortune 500 earned $600 Billion while the federal government spent $1 Trillion on defense.”

The US does NOT spend $1 trillion a year (or even anything close to that figure) on defense. The current (FY2012) defense budget, signed into law on Dec. 31st, amounts to $662 bn: $645 bn for the DOD and $17 bn for the DOE’s defense-related programs (nuclear weapons, nuclear reactors, nuclear fuel for USN warships, etc.). The DOD’s current $645 bn budget consists of a core defense budget of $526 bn and a $119 bn GWOT supplemental.

Even counting the budgets of the DHS, VA, and the DOS as “defense spending” – even though these civilian agencies have nothing to do with defense or with spending on it – does not increase the figure to $1 trillion per year or anything even close to it.

The claim that the US spends $1 trillion per year on defense is a complete fabrication. The US has never had a $1 trillion defense budget. Not this fiscal year. Not ever.

Moreover, as stated above, America’s total annual military budget amounts to just 4.51% of the country’s GDP, and the DOD’s budget request for the next FY ($613.5 bn) would amount to just 4.08% of GDP. This is not an unsustainable amount by any honest standards. Throughout the entire Cold War except FY1948 – even during the Carter years – the US was spending more on defense than now.

Furthermore, I don’t recall Eisenhower ever saying that the US should not spend more on defense per year than the annual profits of  Fortune 500 companies, and in any case, tying defense spending to any fixed limit is wrong and foolish. America’s defense spending should be determined only by its defense needs and the threat environment, not by any fixed limits.

In short, the C4TR’s entire website, including its goals statement, is a litany of blatant lies.


Rebuttals of pseudo-arguments for defense cuts

The following is a rebuttal of many pseudo-arguments for defense cuts that I’ve seen or heard uttered. Some of the rebuttals are reiterations of what I’ve said earlier; others are new.

Pseudo-argument #1: Defense spending has long enjoyed protected status from budget cuts, so it’s time to cut it.

Fact: Defense spending has never enjoyed protected status. During the Reagan years, significant DOD reforms were instituted, most wasteful expenditures were rooted out after the $600 toilet seat scandal, and after 1986, the defense budget was cut in real terms by the Gramm-Rudman Act and other Congressional legislation. During the period from 1989 to 2001, Presidents Bush and Clinton, together with the Congress, cut defense spending by 35% (i.e. more than a third), drastically reducing the military’s force structure, modernization programs, and base infrastructure. Under President Bush, numerous crucial weapon programs were closed, the DOD got smaller budgets than it wanted, and in 2005, it was ordered to cut its budget by billions of dollars. Under President Obama, over 50 weapon programs have been closed, and $439 billion has already been cut from defense budgets, even as Obama has been expanding America’s military commitments. And in April, Obama ordered the DOD to cut its budget by another $400 billion over the next 12 years. Defense spending is now lower than it was during FY2008 ($513 bn this FY against $524 bn during FY2008, in real terms). So no, defense spending has never enjoyed protected status.

Pseudo-argument #2: Defense spending and the DOD as an institution have been shielded from serious scrutiny for a long time.

Fact: Defense spending and the DOD have never been shielded from serious scrutiny. They are constantly monitored by the media (which often pick any problem of the DOD as a pretext for defense cuts), CSPAN, and the Congress, which frequently holds hearings on defense issues, including defense budgetary issues, and the DOD has to justify its budget requests and programmatic decisions to the Congress. The Congress often asks difficult questions, as anyone who has watched Congressional hearings of DOD officials would attest. One of the most difficult hearings was that of January 2011, when the Deputy SECDEF and Vice Chiefs were grilled by the HASC and the Deputy SECDEF had to embarrasingly admit, in response to a question by Congressman Randy Forbes, that no auditible finacial statements were filed for FY2010.

Pseudo-argument #3: We can afford to cut defense spending because it’s possible to maintain defense-on-the-cheap. We can afford to have a strong defense at a much lower cost.

Fact: Maintaining a strong defense is not cheap. “Defense-on-the-cheap” is not possible. During his time, President Bush, like many of his predecessors, misled the American people to believe that America could maintain “defense-on-the-cheap”, and he waged 2 simoultaneous wars with a peacetime military budget which never exceeded 4.5% of GDP. As Napoleon famously said, “An army marches on its stomach”. To have a strong defense, you need a large number of high-quality, modern weapons (tanks, fighterplanes, bombers, helicopters, warships, etc.) and highly-educated, well-trained, well-motivated people to operate them (and because the US military is an All-Volunteer Force, you need incentives to convince them to join the military in the first instance). Even so, the current defense budget is a light burden on the US economy (it amounts to just 3.59% of GDP) and so was the previous defense budget (it equalled 3.65% of GDP).

Pseudo-argument #4: We should treat all kinds of spending equally, and if we’re going to cut entitlements and domestic discretionary spending, we should also cut defense spending. Why should the DOD be exempted?

Fact: It is wrong and even insulting to treat defense spending as just another line item in the federal budget. Unlike the vast majority of the other current agencies, policies and programs of the federal government, defense (i.e. creating and maintaining a strong military) is a constitutional DUTY of the federal government. Not only is it constitutionally-authorized, it’s a constitutional obligation. Contrary to what Liberal Grover Norquist and Liberal Lobbyist David Keene claimed in a November 2010 letter to Republican leaders, defense is not anyone’s pet project, it is a sacred obligation.

The need to provide for the common defense was, indeed, one of the reasons why the federal government was established in the first place. The Preamble to the Constitution says:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and ourPosterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

The URL: http://www.usconstitution.net/const.html#Preamble

The Congress should adequately fund those few agencies who perform Constitutional tasks of the federal government, while defunding every unconstitutional agency and program.

Also, those who protest against “exempting” defense spending from cuts appear to suggest that defense spending has, so far, been exempted from cuts. This is untrue, as evidenced in the rebuttal to Pseudo-argument #1.

Pseudo-argument #5: Defense spending caused (or helped cause) the current deficit crisis, so it must be cut if this crisis is to be ended.

Fact: Defense spending did not cause America’s fiscal problems, and cutting it won’t solve them, as testified by President Obama’s own nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey.

Defense spending has grown by only 47% in real terms over the last decade, from $377 bn (in today’s money) in FY2001 to $513 bn today. (GWOT spending added another $160 bn in FY2011). In FY2000, it accounted for a full 15% of federal spending; now it accounts for 14.31%. In FY2001, it amounted to 3.0% of GDP; now it amounts to 3.5%. (The proposed FY2012 defense budget would increase that amount slightly, to 3.78%, assuming no cuts are made to it.)

Since FY2001, total federal spending has doubled, from $1.85 trillion per year to $3.7 trillion per annum, but defense has received only ca. 8% of that spending splurge. The rest was added to the GWOT accounts and to civilian spending accounts.

Federal spending has been growing year after year nonstop, as has discretionary civilian spending, while the DOD had to cut its budget in 2005, 2009, 2010 and this year. Since FY2010, defense spending has been reduced from $550 bn (in today’s money) to $513 billion. In FY2009 alone, over 30 weapon programs were closed. Several further were closed this fiscal year, and the DOD has proposed closing several further ones. Since Obama has taken office, defense spending (along with projections for future defense budget plans) has been cut by $439 billion during just 2.5 years.

At the same time, civilian spending – discretionary and nondiscretionary alike – has skyrocketed, and within, budget deficits and the public debt. So defense spending cuts have utterly failed to reduce the deficit.

In FY2008, the defense budget was $524.07 in today’s money ($481.4 in FY2008 dollars), and the federal budget deficit was ca. $400 bn. This fiscal year, the defense budget is $513 bn, but the federal budget deficit is $1.65 trillion – four times larger than it was in FY2008! So no, defense spending did not cause America’s fiscal problems.

Pseudo-argument #6: After all the billions of dollars that the DOD has wasted, exempting it from further budget cuts would mean rewarding it and sparing it the punishment.

Fact: Cutting the defense budget won’t reform the DOD. It would actually produce the opposite effect, as it would reduce in even higher cost growth, cost overruns, program delays, etc. This is what happened during the 1970s – the defense budget was cut, and yet the costs of DOD programs were growing at an average pace of 14% per year. Then, in 1981, Ronald Reagan began his DOD reforms. During the 1970s and the 1990s, defense spending was deeply cut, and yet no DOD reforms occurred. These cuts only weakened the military and exacerbated the DOD’s problems. Real reforms of the DOD occurred during times when defense spending was increased: during the 1960s, 1980s, and the Bush era (under Secretary Rumsfeld).

The only way to reform the DOD is to actually reform it, and on my blog, I’ve explained how exactly to do it. Cutting the defense budget and reforming the DOD are two different issues.

Last but not least, the federal government’s role is to provide for America’s defense, not to punish the DOD. Reducing the defense budget will not help the federal government play that role.

Pseudo-argument #7: America spends more on defense than all other countries of the world combined, so we can surely afford to cut our defense budget.

America does not spend more on its military (let alone on the core defense budget) than the rest of the world combined. It’s simply not true. The latest SIPRI estimates of the world’s military budgets for calendar year 2010 show that while the US spent $687 bn on its military in CY2010, the next 21 countries combined (the PRC, France, Britain, Russia, Japan, Germany, Saudi Arabia, Italy, India, Brazil, South Korea, Canada, Australia, Spain, the UAE, Turkey, Israel, the Netherlands, Greece, Colombia, and Taiwan) collectively spent $691.009 billion on their militaries in CY2010, more than the US. If you count America’s core defense budget only, and don’t count GWOT spending, it takes even fewer countries to outspend the US. Moreover, the SIPRI understated China’s military budget (which, according to the DOD, was $140 bn in FY2007 and about $150 bn in CY2010) and blindly accepted Russia’s understated military budget (many Russian ministries buy military goods from their budgets and give them as “free goods” to the Russian MOD). Moreover, raw dollar figures, even if adjusted for inflation, mask two facts:

1) Most countries of the world don’t have the same defense needs, and the same broad global interests, as the US has.

2) In most countries of the world, including China and Russia, one dollar can buy several times more than in the US.

In short, any comparison of another country’s military budget to that of the United States is an apples-to-oranges comparison. Other countries’ defense budgets are useless as indicators of what America’s defense budget should be.

Pseudo-argument #8: The defense budget is more than adequate. We can afford to cut it.

Fact: The FY2011 defense budget is anything but adequate. It amounts to $513 bn ($530 bn according to some sources), i.e. just 3.5% of GDP. It’s the smallest defense budget, measured as a percentage of GDP, since FY1948, excepting the budgets for FYs1998-2002.  It is very short on funding for both modernization and readiness. As all four Service Vice Chiefs testified before the Congress recently, their services are already suffering significant readiness shortages and their equipment has been worn out, and cutting the defense budget would severely weaken them. See here, here, here, here, and here. Signs that the US military’s equipment is worn out and damaged, and that the military is not ready to fight, are evident and have been publicly reported. For example, all of the USN’s 22 Ticonderoga class cruisers have cracks in their hulls, and 40% of the USN’s warships are not ready to deploy.

Pseudo-argument #9: After almost a decade of war, it’s time for the military to shed people, weapons, and dollars.

Fact: Whether wars are ending or not is irrelevant to whether the US military should shed them or not, and to how much America should spend on defense. Wars haven’t ended yet, but when they do, GWOT spending will zero out automatically. But even when these wars end, the US should not cut its defense spending and weaken its military. It is always necessary to maintain a strong defense, and maintaining it is the best way to keep peace. As George Washington said, “to be prepared for war is one of the most effective means of keeping peace.”

Pseudo-argument #10: There will be no adverse consequences if we cut the defense budget deeply.

Fact: On the contrary, there will be disastrous consequences. Modernization programs would have to be radically cut or completely cancelled, on top of all program cuts and closures already administered by Presidents Bush, Clinton, Bush, and Obama. Readiness would also suffer dreadfully, as testified by all four Service Vice Chiefs. See here. The US military is already stressed, stretched thin, suffering significant readiness and equipment shortages, and its weapons have been worn out. Cutting defense spending further would be the knockout blow for the military.

Pseudo-argument #11: We can’t afford to spend as much as we currently do. Defense has to be cut if America is to avoid a financial disaster.

Fact: America does not have to cut its defense budget to balance its budget. The defense budget ($513 bn in FY2011) amounts to just 14.31% of the total federal budget and therefore, it’s not necessary to cut it to balance the budget. Congressman Paul Ryan, the chairman of the House Budget Committee, and the Heritage Foundation have both proposed budgets that would eventually eliminate the budget deficit entirely (Paul Ryan’s plan would also eventually pay off the entire public debt). So it’s possible to balance the budget without defense spending cuts.

Pseudo-argument #12: Cutting defense spending is a better option than, for example, cutting welfare programs, entitlements, farm subsidies, and the Education Department’s budget.

Actually, if defense spending is cut (especially if it’s cut deeply), America will be harmed more badly than if those domestic programs are cut. Most of them don’t benefit the country at all – they benefit only the dependency class, seniors, and constituencies that receive pork from these programs and agencies. Many federal programs and agencies, such as naked body scanners, most other DHS programs, ethanol subsidies, and agencies that meddle with states’ affairs (e.g. the Education Department), are actively damaging. Many others, such as NASA, studies of the DNA of bears in Montana, and the study on whether a gay man’s penis size matters, are downright wasteful.

This list was meant to be exhaustive, but sadly, it is not possible to cover to all the myths, lies, and other pseudo-arguments invented by the opponents of defense spending. Perhaps monks at some monastery will attempt to do so someday.

Defense spending did not cause America’s fiscal problems. Cutting it won’t solve them.

That is exactly what I (along with a few other people such as Heritage Foundation analysts) have been saying for a long time; last month the top ranking Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee joined us; and recently, we’ve also been joined by the most important ally we could have: the nominee for Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey, US Army.

A battle-hardened combat veteran who deployed to Iraq on multiple tours, General Dempsey is no “general who is trying to protect his toys”, as American generals are frequently described by the media, by libertarians, and by liberals. He’s an officer concerned about his country and its future.

Just a few days ago, during his confirmation hearing, he warned that further defense cuts would impair America’s military capabilities, and massive defense cuts – such as the $886 billion cuts demanded by President Obama and Senate Democrats – would dramatically weaken the US military and radically increase risks for the United States. Here’s a quote from The Hill regarding what General Dempsey said:

“Cutting defense by nearly $1 trillion to reduce the deficit would be harmful to America’s national security, according to Gen. Martin Dempsey, President Obama’s nominee for top military officer.

Dempsey broke with the man he would replace as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Michael Mullen, and on Tuesday offered senators a different assessment of the nation’s top threat.

“I wouldn’t describe our economic condition as the single biggest threat to national security,” Dempsey told the Senate Armed Services Committee. “There are a lot of clear and present threats to our security in the current operational environment. … National security [spending] didn’t cause the debt crisis, nor will [reducing – ZM] it solve it.”

Mullen has for months made clear his belief that “our national debt is our biggest national security problem.” His position has been cited by Republicans eager to slice federal government spending, as well as by Democrats who want big cuts to the Pentagon.

Dempsey acknowledged that “the national debt is a grave concern,” but cautioned against large defense cuts to help fix Washington’s balance sheet.

“Our national power is the aggregate of our diplomatic, military and economic influence,” Dempsey said. “We have to address our economic stature, but that doesn’t mean we can neglect the other instruments of national power.”

Dempsey’s warnings about defense cuts larger than Obama’s $400 billion were echoed later Tuesday by the vice chiefs of the military services. Several of them told the House Armed Services Readiness subcommittee that their services need more — not less — annual funding.”

General Dempsey is right. Defense spending did NOT cause America’s fiscal problems, and cutting it will not solve them.

Defense spending has grown by only 47% in real terms over the last decade, from $377 bn (in today’s money) in FY2001 to $513 bn today. (GWOT spending added another $160 bn in FY2011). In FY2000, it accounted for a full 15% of federal spending; now it accounts for 14.31%. In FY2001, it amounted to 3.0% of GDP; now it amounts to 3.5%. (The proposed FY2012 defense budget would increase that amount slightly, to 3.78%, assuming no cuts are made to it.)

Since FY2001, total federal spending has doubled, from $1.85 trillion per year to $3.7 trillion per annum, but defense has received only ca. 8% of that spending splurge. The rest was added to the GWOT accounts and to civilian spending accounts.

Federal spending has been growing year after year nonstop, as has discretionary civilian spending, while the DOD had to cut its budget in 2005, 2009, 2010 and this year. Since FY2009, defense spending has been reduced from $550 bn (in today’s money) to $513 billion. In FY2009 alone, over 30 weapon programs were closed. Several further were closed this fiscal year, and the DOD has proposed closing several further ones. Since Obama has taken office, defense spending (along with projections for future defense budget plans) has been cut by $439 billion during just 2.5 years.

At the same time, civilian spending – discretionary and nondiscretionary alike – has skyrocketed, and within, budget deficits and the public debt. So defense spending cuts have utterly failed to reduce the deficit.

Now several groups, as well as President Obama, are demanding even deeper defense cuts. Gordon Adams, one of the architects of the disastrous Clinton defense cuts, wants to reduce defense spending by $800 bn over a decade. Obama, the Gang of Six, and Senate Democrats demand cuts to the tune of $886 bn/decade. Tom Coburn demands $1.006 trillion’s worth of defense cuts. The Soros-funded CAP demands cuts to the tune of $1 trillion.

This must be prevented at any cost. Cutting defense spending by those huge amounts, or any amounts similar to them, would utterly gut the military and invite aggressors to attack America. It would render the military totally impotent. It must not be allowed to happen under any circumstances. General Dempsey, as well as the four Service Vice Chiefs, have stated this before the Congress, under oath. Several distinguished defense issues experts, including the HASC Chairman, four HASC members (including two Subcommittee Chairmen), former Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld, former DOD Comptroller Dov S. Zakheim, and defense affairs analyst Max Boot, have stated the same.

That’s because it’s the truth. The US military is already struggling to fight three wars and defend America with an inadequate budget. All four Services are suffering serious readiness shortages, and are using obsolete, unsurvivable, expensive-to-maintain military equipment that is nearing the end of its service lifetime and needs to be replaced. Cutting defense spending further – let alone as deeply as Obama and the Senate Democrats have suggested – would totally wreck the military. We’re not talking about chump changes; we’re talking about cuts of the magnitude of $886 bn over a decade, i.e. $88.6 bn per year!

That’s why any further defense cuts must be prevented at any cost.

Obama has once again proven he knows nothing about defense issues

America’s worst president ever, Barack Obama, has once again proven he knows nothing about defense issues, including the defense budget. During his recent Twitter interview with the voters and with Democratic plants, Obama was asked (apparently by a Democratic plant) a question about whether he plans to cut defense spending to reduce the budget deficit. Obama replied:

“The nice thing about the defense budget is it’s so big, it’s so huge, that a 1 percent reduction is the equivalent of the education budget. Not—I’m exaggerating, but it’s so big that you can make relatively modest changes to defense that end up giving you a lot of head room to fund things like basic research or student loans or things like that.”

To borrow a line from Herman Cain: Mr President, with all due respect, you’re wrong.

Obama was wrong. With that reply, he has proven that he knows nothing about defense issues, including the defense budget. Firstly, the defense budget for FY2011 (the current fiscal year) is $530 billion, and the DOD’s base budget request for FY2012 is $553 billion. 1% of these sums is a microscopic $5.3-$5.5 billion, equals just 4.5% of the federal education budget (i.e. the budget of the federal Department of Education), which is $122 billion for the current FY. This is even less than the 7% that the Heritage Foundation claimed.

Cutting the defense budget by $5.5 billion would not provide enough money for student loans nor for basic research programs. And although Obama has not explained what he means by “modest changes”, it’s likely that for him, even cutting the defense budget by 15-20% would be a chump change.

And although he admitted that “We can’t just lop 25% off the defense budget overnight” and that the US military has legitimate equipment needs that must be funded, he nonetheless insisted that defense cuts are needed, prudent, required by a “strategy”, justifiable, and safe for America – which they are not.

As the DOD has reported on its website, Obama said during the Twitter interview that:

“Though he is committed to cutting the Defense Department budget as part of the overall reduction in the federal deficit, U.S.security and strategic needs must drive the effort, President Barack Obama said yesterday in his first Twitter town hall meeting.

Obama said he conducted the meeting to find out what the public thinks about how to reduce the federal deficit, what costs should be cut and which investments should be kept.

Responding to suggestions for cuts in the defense budget, the president said that is not an easy task.

“We can’t simply lop off 25 percent off the defense budget overnight,” he said. “We have to think about all the obligations we have to our troops who are in the field, and making sure they’re properly equipped and safe.” The need to replace outdated military equipment is another budget consideration, the president added.

“We’ve ended the war in Iraq, our combat mission there, and all our troops are slated to be out by the end of this year,” Obama said. And as Afghan forces take more responsibility for their country’s security, he added, U.S. forces will draw down there as well. But drawing down forces and beginning a new phase in Afghanistan must be done “fairly gradually,” he said.

Obama said that while decisions to cut defense spending will be tough, a reduction requires a balanced approach, as with any government program, to shrink the overall federal budget.

“Those who say that we can’t cut military at all haven’t spent a lot of time looking at military budgets,” he added.

However, the president said, the reductions must take place with the nation’s security in mind.

“One of the things that we have to do is make sure that we do it in a thoughtful way that’s guided by our security and our strategic needs,” he said. “And I think we can accomplish that.””

Actually, I have spent more time “looking at”, reading, analyzing, describing, and devising amendments to, America’s (and Britain’s) defense budgets, as anyone who reads my blog and my articles knows. I’ve spent much more time doing it than Barack Obama or any other Democratic politician has. I’ve spent ca. 90% of my spare time doing so during the last 4 years. America can afford to withdraw its troopers from Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya, and to zero its spending on these countries and the GWOT, but it cannot afford to reduce the size of its defense tooth or its base defense budget (which is already too small).

Obama claims that “our security and our strategic needs” should guide defense budget cuts and he thinks “we can accomplish that.” That is not true. One cannot accomplish defense budget cuts that would be consistent with America’s defense needs and strategic needs. Those needs dictate that defense spending be increased, not decreased. They do not require defense spending cuts; quite the contrary is true.

Therefore, one cannot credibly claim that “US security needs and strategy must drive the effort to cut defense spending.”

Moreover, it is ridiculous for him to claim that any cuts he will make to defense spending and America’s military will be justified by strategy. They will not. They will likely be arbitrary cuts that will weaken the US military. Moreover, they will be made SOLELY to meet Obama’s diktat of cutting defense spending by $400 bn over the next 12 years. Moreover, the DOD will likely lie that these cuts are justified, make up some excuses, and produce some “strategy” that will pretend to justify these unjustifiable defense cuts. (That’s what it did in 2010 with the QDR – it was written solely to justify Gates’ unjustifiable defense cuts.)

By ordering the DOD to cut defense spending by $400 billion, Obama has put the cart before the horse. He has ordered massive defense spending cuts and has told the DOD to find out how exactly to make these cuts.

I am appalled, but not surprised, by the fact that Obama is “committed” to reducing defense spending. He’s a wimpy weak Dhimmicrat, just like almost all of his party colleagues.


The Heritage Foundation has rightly commented that:

“The President’s accounting failures aside, there’s an even bigger problem at work. Obama is of the belief that, for starters, $400 billion can be cut from the defense budget over the next 10 years without putting the military at risk. That’s in addition to the approximately $400 billion already cut by the Administration during the previous two years. In turn, he would take those dollars and apply them to pay for his pet projects at home.

The President is proposing those cuts irrespective of the military’s needs.

Outgoing Secretary of Defense Robert Gates stated that ill-conceived cuts to defense spending could increase America’s vulnerability in a “complex and unpredictable security environment” and that “the ultimate guarantee against the success of aggressors, dictators, and terrorists in the 21st century, as in the 20th, is hard power—the size, strength, and global reach of the United States military.”

But with the President’s proposed cuts, America’s base defense budget would be at its lowest point in more than 60 years (as a percentage of America’s GDP). Meanwhile, the threats Gates spoke of continue to materialize, while challenges remain in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, and throughout the Middle East.

And then there’s the state of U.S. forces. Secretary Gates and the Quadrennial Defense Review Independent Panel have agreed that the U.S. went on a “procurement holiday” in the 1990s. Air Force Chief of Staff General Norton Schwartz has stated that the present fleet of 187 F–22 fighters creates a high risk for the U.S. military in meeting its operational demands. The U.S. Navy has the fewest number of ships since America’s entrance into World War I. And yet the President sees fit to slash defense?

Contrary to Obama’s belief, the defense budget is not an ATM from which he can pull cash to pay for other projects. And he certainly can’t do it without causing further damage to U.S. military readiness. The Constitution demands that the U.S. government provide for the common defense. That’s a fact the President should keep in mind as he looks for ways to increase domestic spending amid a debt crisis.”

Sadly, yes, Obama sees it fit to deeply cut defense spending, as do his party colleagues and most Republicans (with few honorable exceptions such as Howard McKeon, Allen West, and Randy Forbes) – despite the fact that the PLAN is already larger than the US Navy, Russia and China are waging an arms race against the US, the Russian Navy has more SSBNs than the USN, the USAF’s current fleet of aircraft is the smallest and the oldest it has ever flown (with an average aircraft age of 24 years), the USAF’s ICBMs date back to the 1970s and need to be replaced,the USAF has only 20 stealthy bombers, and access-denial weapons are making current and potential future war theaters unsurvivable and unaccessible for nonstealthy aircraft and warships. The US military has huge legitimate modernization needs, yet both Democrats AND Republicans are committed to radically reducing defense spending, as is Obama.

It is utterly unacceptable for Obama to use defense spending as an ATM from which to finance his pet projects.