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This article was originally published by Zbignigw Mazurak and subsequently posted on May 21, 2012.

Defense on the chopping block

Undaunted by the refutal of their earlier blatant lies, defense sequestration’s supporters are still making up further lies in defense of this unjustifiable mechanism which, if it proceeds, will cut $600 bn out of the defense budget over the next decade on top of the $487 bn already ordered by the First Tier of the August 2011 debt ceiling deal. As US News reports, they claim that “the American military is already vastly superior to any other force, and they say that the real threat to national security is an out-of-control budget.”

Utterly discredited strident liberal (and simultaneously a supporter of deep defense cuts who works for the Soros-financed Center for American Progress) Lawrence Korb claims that “A budget of $472 billion is more than sufficient to protect our national security“.

They are lying. As much as I wish it were otherwise, the US military is NOT superior, let alone vastly superior, to every other military. China’s military, the PLA, is equally strong (and in some respects, e.g. access-denial weapons and in numbers, superior), and Russia is quickly catching up with the US. It plans to spend $770 bn on new weapons during the next decade and to use that money to buy, inter alia, 400 new ICBMs, 8 new ballistic missile submarines, hundreds of stealthy 5th generation fighterplanes, dozens of quiet AIP and nuclear attack submarines, and at least 200 Su-34 theater fighter-bombers. China, not to be outdone, plans to double its military budget by 2015.

And that’s the state of affairs today. America’s potential enemcould arm themselves further or increase their armament plans anytime. And even if the claim that “the US military is already vastly superior to any other force” were true, which it isn’t, sequestration would make it vastly inferior to the militaries of China, Russia, and North Korea, because it would force the DOD to, inter alia:

This would totally gut the military and render it completely unable to defend America (not to mention its treaty allies). This also totally disproves Larry Korb’s utterly false claim that a defense budget of $472 bn (which would be a whopping $59 bn smaller than it is today) would “more than sufficient to protect national security”. No, it wouldn’t be. It would be woefully inadequate. Not enough for personnel, operations, maintenance, procurement, R&D, missile defense, health programs, or administration.
As then-SECDEF Robert Gates rightly said in January 2011:

“I want to emphasize that while America is at war and confronts a range of future security threats, it is important to not repeat the mistakes of the past by making drastic and ill-conceived cuts to the overall defense budget.  At the same time, it is imperative for this department to eliminate wasteful, excessive, and unneeded spending.  To do everything we can to make every defense dollar count.”

Furthermore, first tier BCA-mandated budget cuts plus sequestration ($108.7 bn a year on average) plus zeroing out OCO spending (as a result of the inevitable US withdrawal from Afghanistan, $88.5 bn annually on average) means cutting the military budget by a total 32.11% – much deeper than the cuts made after the Vietnam War (26%) and almost as deep as the cuts that followed the Cold War (34%-35%). Now think about it, Dear Reader: we now know that the post-Vietnam and post-Cold-War defense cuts WRECKED the military. So how can we honest expect this round of defense cuts NOT to gut the military? We can’t. Simple math alone should tell you that.
The claim that “the real threat to national security is an out-of-control budget” and that there are no other threats to national security is also a blatant lie by sequestration’ supporters. The budget deficit/debt is a huge problem, but not a national security threat because most of the debt is held by American individuals and institutions, and only a minority of it by foreign entitities; of that portion, only a small minority is held by China and other potential enemies. Furthermore, even a huge public debt is NO EXCUSE for deep, crippling defense cuts. The country still needs, and will always need, a strong military second to none, and that need hasn’t changed despite the public debt’s growth. America’s enemies won’t wait to threaten America until it balances its budget. A strong military will ALWAYS be needed.
There are several serious threats to America’s national security: China (the gravest), Russia, North Korea (as demonstrated by its nuclear and ballistic missile tests; its missiles can already reach the US), Iran (which recently purchased DF-31 ICBMs, capable of hitting the US, from China, and is pursuing nuclear weapons), Venezuela, and a multitude of terrorist organizations such as Al-Qaeda, the Haqqani Network, al-Shabab, Hezbollah, and FARC. China, not the public debt, is the gravest threat to US national security. Russia, with its huge nuclear arsenal, its huge advantage in tactical nuclear weapons, and significant conventional capabilities, is the second-biggest threat. (As judged by China’s and Russia’s recent actions, not their pretty diplomatic words.)
Moreover, even these deep First Tier BCA and sequestration cuts ($48.7 bn + $60 bn per year) will barely make a dent in the annual budget deficit (which is over $1.3 TRILLION per year), and not even dent the public debt. In fact, even eliminating military spending ($644 bn per year per the FY2012 NDAA) completely would not even halve the budget deficit or dent the public debt. So cutting defense spending is NOT the solution.
That’s not surprising to anyone who knows at least a little about the federal budget: military spending constitutes just 19% of it. It is NOT the cause of America’s fiscal woes, and cutting it, even deeply, will not solve them, as confirmed by CJCS Gen. Martin Dempsey during his 2011 confirmation hearing.
Moreover, as the RSC’s and the Heritage Foundation’s budget plans have both shown, it is possible to balance the budget within 10 years (or within 5 years, under the RSC’s plan) without cutting defense spending at all. One just has to cut the REAL drivers of America’s deficits – entitlements (which already constitute 63% of federal spending and grow annually on autopilot) and runaway domestic spending (the result of the federal government trying to be all things to all people and of the cradle-to-grave welfare state). The RSC’s plan would reform entitlements and cut nondefense discretionary spending more deeply than the Ryan Plan. The Heritage Foundation plan, reviewed by the Peterson Foundation, would cut federal spending, debt, and taxes most deeply of all 6 plans reviewed by the Peterson think-tank. So no, defense spending does not have to be cut at all – let alone as deeply as the sequester would reduce it – to balance the budget.
In fact, NONE of sequestration’s supporters have produced a plan that would actually balance the budget. The RSCthe Heritage Foundation, and Congressman Paul Ryan – all of whom oppose sequestration and support a strong defense – have produced such budget blueprints.
And it’s not surprising that many people prefer to deeply cut funding for defense – the government’s #1 Constitutional duty – rather than entitlements and domestic discretionary programs. The latter are more politically popular and have far more lobbyists defending them, while cutting defense, even deeply, is politically safe and easy and entails zero risk of electoral defeat. For those who are unwilling to address the real drivers of America’s debt and find savings in them, defense – which has already been cut disproportionally – is the easiest target.
In short, sequestration’s supporters’ claims are blatant lies, and they should be ashamed of themselves for spreading them.;

The opinions expressed in Ziggy’s Defense Blog do not necessarily reflect those of

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