Whenever I heard the argument that we should end the wars in the Middle East so we could spend the money at home, I wanted to shriek, “No! No! No!”
Whatever you think about military spending, surely you join me in proposing that the idea is to spend less at home, not to simply channel Pentagon savings into a burgeoning domestic budget.
The bring-home-the-troops-so-we-can-spend-more-at-home gang has been victorious, however. Military spending is being cut; the money will go to support–you guessed it!–entitlements.
The Wall Street Journal has an editorial on yesterday’s remarks by President Obama at the Pentagon:
President Obama yesterday put in a rare appearance at the Pentagon, flanked by the four service chiefs and his Secretary of Defense. Saying that now is the time to cash in a peace dividend, he unveiled plans for a significantly slimmed-down military.
This dance was choreographed to convey strength. Everything else about it showed how domestic entitlements are beginning to squeeze the U.S. military.
The Pentagon’s budget, unless the course is altered, will shrink by around 30 percent over the coming decade. The percentage of GDP going to the military will then be at its 1940 level. The editorial observes that the administration has made “a political decision” to spare Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid. If Obamacare is allowed to stand, entitlements will gobble up even more of our resources.
Speaking only for myself (we are a varied and contentious lot here at Inkwell), I would deplore these Pentagon cuts even if the money weren’t going to be spent on entitlements. It’s still a dangerous world out there.
The “leaner Pentagon” strategy is being presented as a mere shift in policy. But nobody is fooled. This reduction hollows out the military. It radically reduces the ability of the United States to respond militarily. President Obama believes that this is dandy because the “tide of war” is receding. I wonder if he’s been too busy campaigning for re-election to follow events in the Middle East?
The New York Times editors are ecstatic, of course. They opine that the U.S. can be “smarter and more restrained in its use of force” than in the Bush era. The editors say–charmingly–that Republicans are in “high dudgeon” over the cuts.
Still, even the folks at the Times admit that the U.S. must be “ready to face multiple contingencies.”
I call this a contingencies on a dime policy. Max Boot says it may not work:
How about the possibility of a clash with China? Or the possibility of a nuclear terrorist attack necessitating a massive response?
How, pray tell, is the U.S. supposed to get ready for dealing with all of these possible contingencies–much less for the prospect of more than one occurring at once–if the defense budget stands to be cut by as much as a trillion dollars during the next decade? The answer is, it’s impossible. Means don’t match ends. Resources are insufficient to safeguard against all these risks in a credible and convincing manner.
The subhead on the Wall Street Journal editorial says it all: “Entitlements begin to crowd out the American military.”