Every year or so I write a piece that offends many of my friends. This is the one for 2013. We do not need to spend nearly as much on our military as the rest of the world combined, and sequestration seems to be the only way to tame the beast.
Before talking about how much we need, lets put aside the question of what we do with the military and state department that we have. If this were thrust of the discussion, I wouldn't be offending my friends:
- Obama withdrew from Iraq and did not make an effort to leave a small peace keeping force behind. He will also abandon whatever progress has been made in his greatly expanded war in Afghanistan. They will have to fend for themselves.
- Obama has chosen to not get involved in the messy side of the Arab Spring - Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria. They will have to fend for themselves.
- Obama is doing little to reassure our friends in Japan and South Korea about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. They will have to fend for themselves.
- Obama is doing little to reassure our friends in Israel and Saudi Arabia about Iran's nuclear program. They will eventually have to fend for themselves.
- Obama is doing little to reassure our friends in Poland and the Czech Republic about our missile defense program for them, now that Obama has been reelected and has "more flexibility". They will have to fend for themselves.
- Obama is committing to a significant reduction in our nuclear arsenal on the hope that our adversaries will follow suit. Fend they will.
- Obama has chosen a Secretary of Defense who shares his vision for a reduced military which will be less involved in the world. Senators fend for Senators.
Lets also stipulate that Obama proposed the sequestration concept and, as Commander in Chief, has structured the implementation to inflict maximum pain and damage on the military with the expectation that conservatives would again cave in to give him tax increases without meaningful budget reductions. It would appear as if the House Republicans are finally saying "no mas", regardless of how many firemen, teachers, and soldiers Obama can line up behind him for his histrionic speeches. Good for them. The union will survive, and we may have finally turned the corner on our debt, which Chief of Staff Mullen famously called the greatest threat to our national security.
Now the hard stuff. We have the same military structure that was created in 1947. Ike warned about the "military-industrial complex" in 1952, and it is still out if full force in opposition to the sequester. Donald Rumsfeld tried to shift from aircraft carriers and new generations of Air Force fighters and Army tanks - getting more unconventional forces after 9/11, but not getting rid of the old stuff. Now the Pentagon has taken on a cyber-defense mission, but again hangs on to the past. We have a military that is a jobs plan (for the bloated corps of admirals and generals as well as the folks at Boeing, Northrop Grumman, and L3 Communications), not a defense plan.
For the optimists, maybe, just maybe, the House Republicans will have passed the tipping point, and - thinking of the warnings of Admiral Mullen, Ike, and Rummie - they will ask the staffers down in the bowels of the Pentagon and over at the think tanks to envision a military which lets us do what Obama chooses not to do, but doesn't cover simultaneous wars on three oceans and the plains of Poland, while obliterating Russia 10 times over.
That's a hope, but if the House has come far enough to accept military sequestration, maybe real change is possible.
This week's video extends the White House's battle with Bob Woodward, in which he was threatened for detailing the facts of Obama's original proposal of the sequestration.
bill bowen - 3/1/13