Slashing defense even as he promises new systems no one will be able to deliver.
There are two ways to react to President Obama’s latest round of defense spending cuts. One is emotional but somewhat justified. The second is to analyze of Obama’s plans critically to reveal a transformation of our military that is as dangerous as Obama’s transformation of our economy.
Since Obama appeared with Defense Secretary Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey in the Pentagon press room last Thursday, many commentators have written and railed at length on radio and television about how these cuts will hollow our forces’ readiness to fight.
That reaction is understandable but it isn’t on more solid ground than Obama’s plan, because neither the plan nor the common reaction deals with the real dangers our nation faces.
Under former Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Obama imposed about $400 billion in defense spending cuts by his “Queen of Hearts” method of budgeting for defense: verdict first, trial after. They ended, for example, production of key weapon systems such as the F-22 fighter, the C-17 transport aircraft, and the DDG-1000 Zumwalt destroyer.
Gates imposed those cuts before the Quadrennial Defense Review — “QDR” in the inevitable acronym — was performed. The QDR was supposed to be the congressionally mandated analysis of the threats the Pentagon is expected to deal with and from which its budget is supposed to be derived. But Gates and his team wrote the post-cuts QDR to justify the cuts rather than to justify a budget that answered the threats.
In April of last year, Obama praised Gates’s first round of cuts and then ordered a review of defense spending to double them. Last week’s announced plan was the result of that review. It repeated the Queen of Hearts exercise and took it one step further. It took the planned smaller budget, fashioned our military’s future around it, and then made big promises that cannot possibly be kept.
The plan announced by Obama and Panetta plans a revision of our force structure:
• To refocus our military to meet the rise of China’s military force by “rebalancing” toward the Asia-Pacific region.
• To be able to win one conflict and fight another to a stalemate.
• To provide standing forces, for a limited time, to engage in new nation-building operations.
• To meet every other challenge in space, cyberwar, and other fields of unconventional operations.
So if we have to fight China, Israel has to deal with Iran on its own, Europe can deal with Russia, and the Middle East can stew in its own juices. And stalemate is now a strategy.
But even that’s a very tall order for a force that may be cut by as much as $1 trillion in spending over the next ten years.
Let’s get that bogeyman out of the way first. Just because a Pentagon budget is $700 billion a year doesn’t mean that it will be more effective at deterring or defeating the threats than a threat-based $350 billion a year force might be. The unanswered questions are what capabilities do we need and what will it cost to have them?
And there’s the rub. Neither the Pentagon nor, as far as I can determine, the intelligence community has done the essential analysis to determine what we need our military to do. Obama’s plan mentions things such as missile defense, cyberwar, and space operations as targets for investment, but it also plans to pour money into strengthening the failed NATO alliance and other such boondoggles. There’s not enough money to go around.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?
H/T to National Review Online