I, like many rushed to express dismay at the pending Defense cuts announced by our hand puppet Secretary of Defense, Mr. Hagel. Yup, I’ve engaged in name calling again, I must be spending too much time listening to arguments on the Left.
But I digress. Our military is more than the finest active fighting force in history; it is a message. The inconsistency is the message delivery system which is a function of who sits in the Oval Office and who controls Congress. As party dominance changes to and fro so does the message, the money and the mission.
Throughout the Cold War, while politics existed on the fringes, the core strategic imperatives remained consistent. That is likely the last challenge we will be able to point to as a demonstration of consistency across party lines, and thus we are less secure. But no such challenge exists anymore you say. I would argue that a conservative estimate of 1.5 million radicalized Muslims gives lie to that argument. The Imperialistic history of Islam would also negate the argument that we do not face threats worthy of unity. Russian and Chinese desires also give lie to the absence of unified strategy, regardless of political leaning. The absence of a unifying strategic approach leads to …… well …… what we see now; reeling from crisis to crisis making it up as we go along.
The message? The message is that we will retreat from our Post WWII role. Prior to WWII democracies existed in the single digits, in the decades that followed 120 democracies existed. They came into being because America provided the example, context and security for that growth; as America retreats that number will diminish replaced by despots and oligarchs. The message is that we’re tired and we don’t want to be a superpower anymore. The message over the last five years and the message that will exist over the next three is that if you hunger for freedom, if you are prepared to take on a tyrant, if you are willing to commit your life to such an effort; you’re on your own! Greens in Iran, protestors in Venezuela and the Ukraine; Georgia, East Africa you’re on your own. Genocide, nearly anywhere on the globe; ‘sorry, we don’t have the resources to make it stop’. Keep in mind that as we ‘led from behind’ in Libya, the Euros taking the lead quickly ran out of ordinance. This is the security environment that we will now embrace where our allies can’t seem to afford to buy bullets!
Okay, I get it, I’m tired too; I’m tired on behalf of the folks who have actually served and done the dirty work. I’m tired for the grief their families have suffered, for the wounds, for the displacements, for the nightmares. I’m tired of hearing politicians speak of their support for the troops and then turn on them when there is a dollar involved. Want to save some money, eliminate fifty percent of the flag officers meandering around the halls of the Pentagon and save the pay and benefits for those who ate dust, took fire, flew the missions and sucked jet fuel fumes. Replace seniority with meritocracy and we won’t even miss those flag officers.
China keeps 2 million men under arms, Russia 800,000; this plan will place us behind Turkey in terms of a standing Army. Turkey! Yes we have superior technology, but the history of arms tells us that the other guys always catch up. Will this budget provide for ever more sophisticated weapons development and will that development be capable of holding off the mass that potential opponents can bring to the field? Should Turkey decide that Northern Iraq is a security threat under the guise of Kurdish incursions who stops them? Should Russia invade Eastern Ukraine who will intervene? Should China move against Taiwan what will stop or even de-motivate them? Over the recent past it was the threat of American power; that threat is being taken off the table unilaterally, bit by bit. It’s not as if there have not been cuts; Secretary Gates reading the Tea Leaves set out to make common sense cuts ahead of the politics; the sequester mandated more cuts, now this.
The Administration can’t get out of its own philosophical way. The administration brings Samantha Powers to the U.N., Ms. Powers’ reputation was made as the author of a policy that argued for intervention to defend human rights; she must be very disappointed. White House security advisors operate within the context that the Military is not to be trusted. Joe Biden has poisoned President Obama related to trusting relationships with military leadership. Joe “I’m wrong about almost everything’ Biden is a chief advisor on military affairs; God save us all!
So, what’s the takeaway, the message? It’s the same message FDR delivered as he increased government spending everywhere except the military. Prior to WWII our military spending levels were behind Portugal. It’s the same message that the Soviets saw after Vietnam as they got ready to invade Afghanistan. The converse of that message was Regan as he saw American security as a function of strength and peace as a result of no one being willing to mess with you. Regan contended that his strategy was the one that would keep us out of war and, in the long run, save thousands of lives. He was correct if history is to be our guide.
But there is more than message here. There is obscenity! Outside of the sequester, I cannot, for the life of me, recall one single area of the Federal government where significant cuts have been made, not one, albeit I stand to be corrected.
The obscenity is that those who serve voluntarily, leave their families, live in extreme conditions, bleed and die must bear yet another burden because it’s the easy way out. The obscenity is that the 1% who serve to protect and defend the 99% are asked to do yet more, and more, and more!
If there is a clearer definition of obscenity, please point me to it!