Defense Spending

The Defense budget is always liberals’ first choice for spending cuts when difficult choices have to be made. Instead of emulating Greece and refusing to acknowledge the obvious unsustainability of entitlement spending, American politicians should be learning from Europe’s mistakes, but Democrats have decided to sacrifice our defense to protect their careers. 

The presidency of Barack Obama will be remembered for instigating a marked increase in animosity between Republicans and Democrats to the point where little agreement could be found on any issue. Partisan gridlock is common in politics as each side fights for its fundamental positions until a compromise is eventually worked out. However, our current episode of gridlock is poisoned by personal animosity and a willingness to go over the brink on each side to the detriment of our country. Where in past gridlocked situations contentious issues might be dropped altogether for the sake of political expediency, that is no longer the case as competing bills are passed by each chamber containing their view of the contentious issue.

As an example, the federal government was funded entirely by Continuing Resolution in FY11 as no budget was ever submitted by the Democrats who controlled both chambers of Congress and the White House. FY12 has begun with another Continuing Resolution as no budget has been submitted for it either. Congress can’t even perform the basic governmental function of developing and passing a budget to fund the function of government. Partisanship has gotten to the point where Democrats are fighting tooth and nail for unsustainable spending that they know is irresponsible yet cannot publicly admit. In today’s political climate, no politician can afford to express doubts about their party’s position for fear of showing weakness that can be exploited by the other side.

So, instead of admitting that entitlement spending is unsustainable and reforming the system, Democrats prefer to ignore reality and sacrifice America’s defense to preserve the status quo. Never mind the fact that our troops are engaged in two foreign wars, are supporting a U.N. operation in Libya, and are engaged in fighting Islamic fundamentalist terrorists across the Middle East whose stated and demonstrated goal is the complete and utter destruction of America. Their attitude seems to be that we can’t touch Social Security so we’ll just cut defense.

I’ve written before that the primary purpose of government is the protection of its citizens from foreign invasion. Governments were organized in the first place around this founding principle and serve no higher calling. The protection of a clan from its rivals insured its continued existence as a distinct entity, and government was the organizing tool that made this protection possible. America’s leftist elites (an oxymoron if ever there was one) have completely forgotten this axiom like so many others in their self-deluded belief that they have discovered a revolutionary political theory so much better than anything presently undertaken. In studying the fall of past civilizations, the point where defense is allowed to wither is when the Vandals storm the city gates, loot, pillage, rape, murder, burn the city to the ground, and put an end to wistful dreams that everyone should be able to live in perfect harmony.

Unable to make the difficult choices required of them, the politicians have created a deficit super committee charged with discovering politically acceptable budget cuts with the threat of unpalatable across-the-board cuts as the gun against their heads. Little is expected of this super committee given the current poisonous political atmosphere, with the expectation that these across-the-board cuts will be triggered. The defense portion of these automatic cuts would amount to $650 billion and would be piled on top of the $400 billion of cuts over ten years currently factored into the defense budget, leaving America’s defense gutted and hollow to say the least.

Given these cuts, it has been estimated that the Army would shrink from 100 battalions to 60, the Air Force would lose 400 fighters, and the Navy would lose two complete carrier battle groups. Remember, these cuts would be made while American forces are fighting two overseas wars and defending the country against Islamic terrorism. This is tantamount to opening the city gates and inviting in the hordes during the siege.

Much is made of leadership and the need for politicians to display it, especially during election season, but leadership as a quality is rarely defined in terms the electorate can understand. Leadership is the ability for one to persuade the electorate that they should adopt an unpalatable course for their own long-term good and pursue this course against withering opposition at his possible expense. Leadership takes a remarkable amount of character. Does the individual have what it takes to pull the country though when the chips are down like Winston Churchill did for Britain in WWII? Or will he fold under pressure like Neville Chamberlain did prior to WWII to enable Hitler to ravage Europe? Will he be another Lincoln seeking to preserve the Union, or another Carter floundering about in search of an answer?

Reformation of America’s unsustainable entitlement system requires genuine leadership ability to wean addled and addicted citizens off the government dole and into productive lives while providing retirees a more responsible safety net that doesn’t end up being a golden parachute. Leadership will be required to reform our bloated and incomprehensible tax code to produce something much simpler that encourages entrepreneurial effort, rewards saving, and stops supporting industrial fads. Only when leadership of this type is displayed can America bring its spending back under control and step back from the temptation of sacrificing its defense to the whims of political expediency.

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