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|Trading defense for welfare
By Mark Alexander
Last week, outlining the growing Jihadist threat to our homeland, I cited recent testimony from Director of National Intelligence, Lt. Gen. James Clapper. When asked by Vice Chairman of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence Saxby Chambliss (R-GA), "How would you characterize the probability of an al-Qaida-sponsored or inspired attack against the U.S. homeland today, as compared to 2001," Clapper responded, "I can't say the threat is any less. … al-Qaida is morphing and franchising itself ... in Yemen, Somalia, in North Africa, in Syria ... and what's going on there … is very, very worrisome."
Clapper concluded, "Looking back over my more than half a century in intelligence, I have not experienced a time when we've been beset by more crises and threats around the globe."
So, now that we're "beset by more crises and threats," which have escalated during Obama's tenure and to a degree greater than at any time in the last 50 years, BO's Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, who should provide cover for our combat troops, now insists on cutting Army troop strength to its lowest level since 1940, prior to World War II. (To be clear: We're not talking about some per-capita inflation-adjusted level, but the lowest absolute level since 1940.)
Obama and Hagel are proposing cuts to military pay and reductions in Air Force assets, but the Army is taking the biggest hit, with proposed force reductions from 520,000 to 440,000 warriors (maybe under 420,000 after sequestration, which also primarily targets defense spending).
Hagel defended those cuts as necessary "in order to sustain our readiness and technological superiority, and to protect critical capabilities like Special Operations Forces and cyber resources."
So, the commander in chief and his fawning SecDef are cutting troop strength in order to "sustain our readiness"?
Advancements in war-fighting technology and heavier reliance on SpecOps for preemptive low-intensity conflict scenarios have indeed greatly augmented our offensive and defensive capabilities. However, nothing is as effective, particularly in third-world theaters, as boots on the ground.
And remember: Our "technological superiority" could not prevent 19 members of al-Qaida from hijacking four commercial aircraft on 9/11, 2001, killing 2,996 people and bringing our economy to its knees. But Operation Iraqi Freedom and Operation Enduring Freedom successfully took the fight to our Islamofascist enemies, and have kept it on their turf since 9/11.
Remember, too, that as America retreats and asymmetric Jihadi terrorist elements reconstitute unabated on their turf, the risk of another attack on ours is inevitable. They understand that to bring down the infidels, they need only attack key infrastructure such as energy, communication and resource distribution points, with conventional weapons -- at least until Iran has enabled them to fulfill the "American Hiroshima" vision of Osama bin Laden and Ayman al-Zawahiri.
The Obama administration's insistence that technology is our national security salvation is tragically reminiscent of Jimmy Carter's efforts to gut our human intelligence capabilities around the world, in the flawed belief that our technological intel capabilities would effectively replace our intel boots on the ground. The net result: Ronald Reagan, finding that Carter had, in effect, blinded our eyes on the ground, spent much of his presidency restoring those capabilities.
As for the magnitude of the Obama administration cuts, recall if you will that in 2010, his former SecDef, Robert Gates, protested that to cut military spending by 10 percent "would be catastrophic" considering the current threat environment, and that DoD cuts should be done with "a scalpel, not a meat axe."
But Obama's proposed budget cuts, combined with sequestration, are substantially more than 10 percent.
At that time, Gates concluded, "When it comes to the deficit, the Department of Defense is not the problem."
Indeed it is not.
Not only have national security threats blossomed worldwide, but Obama and his Democrat cadres have more than doubled U.S. marketable debt from $5.7 to $11.8 trillion since he took office.
Despite the "debt bomb" Obama has dropped on our nation, itself a huge national security threat, the White House buzz last week was all about "de-emphasizing austerity measures." Apparently, when Obama calls for greater spending, he means everywhere except national defense.
Thus, the question anyone with a lick of sense should ask is, "Why should DoD take the hardest hit?"
Former Secretary of Defense and Vice President Dick Cheney aptly summarized Obama's defense budget: "It does enormous long-term damage to our military. They act as though it is like highway spending and you can turn it on and off. The fact of the matter is he is having a huge impact on the ability of future presidents to deal with future crises that are bound to arise. I think the whole thing is not driven by any change in world circumstances; it is driven by budget considerations. He would much rather spend the money on food stamps than he would on a strong military or support for our troops."
Cheney added, "[Our allies] in the Middle East -- they no longer have any confidence at all in American security guarantees. They're absolutely convinced that they can no longer trust the United States to keep its commitments -- that includes the Israelis, Saudis, a lot of others in that part of the world."
Former Carter administration DoD Deputy, Major General Jerry Curry, USA (Ret.), added, "America shouldn't increase or limit the number of soldiers, aircraft, submarines and carriers it deploys around the world based on non-military budgetary matters such as entitlement spending. We should deploy the nation's armed forces into combat based only on national defense needs, requirements and strategy."
Clearly, the DoD budget was leaked to The New York Times in order to set up a political pivot, which in turn will change the subject from Obama's colossal and cascading domestic and foreign policy failures to the favorite sport of both political parties: haggling over who can retain the most defense installations, resources and contractors in their states and districts. Additionally, it throws a bone to his Leftist NeoCom cadres.
There is unquestionably waste in DoD contracting -- just as there is with all the behemoth central government bureaucracies. But most of the spending and regulatory costs in those other bureaucracies, particularly of the "social welfare" variety, are not constitutionally authorized and do nothing to protect our nation and the future of Liberty.
In the end, however, the planned DoD cuts will come with a price tag much higher than the savings -- given that they are being heaped on the backs of our front-line warriors, who will invariably be called to do more with less in future conflicts.
And there WILL be future conflicts -- every historic contraction in our national defense has resulted in war.
As 20th-century philosopher George Santayana concluded in his treatise, "The Life of Reason": "Progress, far from consisting in change, depends on retentiveness. When experience is not retained, as among savages, infancy is perpetual. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it."
In contemporary parlance: There is nothing to be learned from the second kick of a jackass -- or in the case of today's political class, the third, fourth, fifth, ad infinitum.
Mark Alexander is the executive editor of the Patriot Post.