Defense Cuts

Tea Party calls for defense to be included in budget cuts do not herald the return to isolationism that traditional media fears.

The House Republican leadership’s determination to push through federal government spending cuts with the support of Tea Party groups has created momentum in Washington making some form of cuts inevitable. Predictably, Democrats are bemoaning the inability to provide basic services as their standard counterattack to consideration of spending cuts.

President Obama, in a stunning refusal to accept the midterm elections message of fiscal restraint, is expected to propose spending increases for job creation in his State of the Union address while promising to rein in the budget. How one increases spending while lowering spending defies all logic outside Washington. Besides, how many times can Obama continue to pivot to jobs creation and still expect to be taken seriously?

The latest Democrat attack line masquerading as conservative concern is to accuse those Republicans supporting defense cuts of favoring a return to isolationism and a withdrawal from participation in world events. The implication is that this course will lead to the same dire consequences we experienced in the 1930s as the world careened toward war while we happily whistled along in a state of blissful ignorance. However, there are a couple of factors to consider in debunking this tired line of attack.

First, we live in a global economy dependent on interconnected supply chains spread around the globe and facilitated by instant global communications. This global economy makes a return to isolationism all but impossible with life as we know it grinding to a halt. What’s more American, the GM automobile assembled in Canada or the Toyota automobile assembled in America? These and other gray area economic dilemmas point out the absurdity of a return to isolationism.

Second, defense is a strategy and not a commodity. One defines a defense strategy and procures the resources necessary to implement that strategy. One does not purchase an amount of defense or so many units of defense. As such, defense strategy is evaluated on a regular basis to determine it’s soundness in light of changing conditions and the strategy is readjusted to account for these changing conditions. Military planners are on constant guard against the fallacy of planning for the last war while ignoring evolving tactics and changing threats. For example, Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently cancelled the Marine Corps Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle due to the expectation that America will not need the capability to execute massive amphibious landings on a scale similar to those in Normandy when fighting against Islamic terrorists. In other words, the threat has changed, our tactics have changed to meet this threat change, and our resource needs have changed to implement the tactical change.

To be vigilant, it is necessary to constantly monitor potential threats and adjust defense strategy accordingly. Ignoring the threat because of silly notions of political correctness or the mistaken belief that it does not exist has been consistently shown by history to be a colossal mistake with dire consequences. Ask yourself this: what do you fear most, a Russian invasion or an Islamic terrorist with a bomb? Which of these do you feel is more likely to occur?

Teacher’s unions decry any cut to education as a threat to our children and invoke the admonition that “it’s for the kids” in support of expanded education funding. Now we’re being told that cuts to defense are a return to the isolationism that leads to war. The divide and conquer strategy is on full display when dealing with budget cuts. When considered individually, a case can be made for the necessity of any program, but, when considered collectively, that case becomes less sound in light of the knowledge that government’s primary function is the protection of its citizens. If government is unable to protect its citizens, then all other functions become moot.

America faces a grave threat to its security in the form of an unsustainable budget that demands immediate attention to prevent the collapse of its economy and the destruction of our way of life. There is no reason why the defense budget should be off limits in this perilous situation. The core function of government is to protect its citizens, but this protection strategy should be well-planned and executed relevant to the threat at hand and the threat looming over the horizon. Adjustment to our defense strategy in light of changing conditions is prudent and necessary. Just because we can’t protect against everything doesn’t mean we shouldn’t attempt to protect against what is relevant. It means precisely that we should protect against relevant threats and be mindful of obscure threats.

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