Saturday, March 26, 2011

Time for the Tea Party to go after the welfare queens in the Pentagon, too

A Tea Party Defense Budget

(The American Conservative) -- by William Lind --

Tea Partiers rightly fear national ruin unless government spending is reduced. The numbers quickly show such reductions must include the defense budget. The national-security state devours about half of all “discretionary” federal spending. Years ago, Sen. Charles Grassley said to President Ronald Reagan, “It’s great that you are going after the welfare queens, Mr. President. But when are you going to go after the welfare queens in the Pentagon?” The Tea Party, to achieve its goals, must answer, “Now.”

Bean-counting won’t do the job. For meaningful savings, we must begin by changing our grand strategy, which presently defines virtually everything that happens in the world as an American interest. Against the Founders’ advice, we are not only playing the great power game, we are attempting to be the globe’s dominant power.

In consequence, America does not today have a defense budget. It has an empire budget—perhaps the Tea Party should call it that. Derailing the neocons’ (and neolibs’) imperial ambitions and returning to the defensive grand strategy America followed through most of her history would save not tens but hundreds of billions of dollars.

We would no longer need a 3:1 “rotation base” for forward-deployed forces because we would no longer have forward-deployed forces. More important, we would have fewer enemies because we would not be inserting our nose into everyone else’s quarrels. That is true national security: reducing the threat by not posing a threat.

A second large tranche of savings would come from designing and equipping our forces for tomorrow’s wars—those that are forced upon us—not yesterday’s. Almost all the ships, planes, and weapons we are buying are designed for conflicts against other states. They are useless or worse for Fourth Generation wars against non-state opponents. Why do we need the F-22 and F-35 fighter aircraft? To shoot down Taliban flying carpets.

Canceling the programs—not just reducing the buys—would save tens of billions now and later. (The more complex the system, the higher its maintenance costs.)...MORE...LINK


DJF said...

One of the first things that need to be done is reduce our world wide defense commitments. It can be argued that today the US does not have enough military assets to cover all the places around the world that the politicians have given either formal or informal guarantees. Once you get rid of these foreign commitments then cutting defense back to levels needed to actually defend the USA is much easier.

As the article points out, we need four times as much capability just to be able to forward deploy I unit overseas. We have around 500 large refueling aircraft because of our world wide commitments compared to other countries which have maybe a dozen at most. We need eleven aircraft carriers just to keep 3 overseas

And even worse because of the priority given to overseas deployed units, this means that units actually in the USA often have the lowest priority for personnel, material and money and its only when they are assigned overseas that they are brought up to combat readiness. So the priority given to overseas actually reduces the ability of US based military forces to actually defend the US. And this overseas priority also effects US politicians, media, think tanks etc who waste huge amounts of time worrying about Libya and others when there are huge problems in the USA.


Chris Moore said...

Good points, DJF.

I think what we can take away from all of this is that like all Big Government programs which originally started out to fulfill an ostensible need, Big Military has become an end unto itself, and is now doing more harm than the original good of national defense it was initiated to fulfill.

The Founders provided the Constitution as the mechanism that would have prevented the nation-destroying Big Government outcomes with which we are contending today, but unfortunately, various self-serving interest groups and contending ideologies (and their corrupt political stooges) have been allowed to flout, erode and undermine the limits it imposed systematically.

Hence, look at us now; we're a mess.