Gutting US Defense The other fiscal-cliff fallout By Arthur Herman

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DeM Banter: hummmm, not like we didn’t see this coming. Wonder how it will all come to rest? Always interesting to watch…

New York Post
December 10, 2012
Pg. 29

While President Obama and Republicans fight over tax hikes and entitlements, another part of the fiscal cliff goes undiscussed — even though they’re supposedly in agreement on the need to avoid devastating cuts at the Pentagon.

Under last year’s “sequestration” agreement, the defense budget is set to be slashed by $500 billion over the next 10 years — on top of $487 billion in reductions that Obama has already imposed.

Most Republicans backed Mitt Romney’s promise to undo those cuts, and Obama’s own Defense Department has warned that sequestration would be “devastating to our national defense.”

How bad is it? If our Pentagon ends up going over the fiscal cliff, it will set off the most decisive shift in the balance of world power since the fall of the Berlin Wall.

Yes, in a world of trillion-dollar deficits, $50 billion in cuts per year to the Pentagon budget doesn’t sound like much.

But it will leave an already shrinking US Navy with perhaps 230 ships and subs, when at least 313 are needed to maintain our current missions around the world. We’ll have an Army smaller than it’s been since 1940. And an Air Force buying fewer aircraft than it did in 1915, and more and more dependent on a handful of expensive fighters and long-range bombers that rely on stealth technology as their edge over an adversary — even though both Russia and China have now broken that technology monopoly, and others are sure to follow.

And the Pentagon will have far less to spend on the high-tech weaponry of the future, such as lasers, hypersonic and missile-defense technology — as well as in areas where Chinese military engineers and strategists are forging ahead, such as defense of space and cyberspace.

We end up with armed forces less willing and able to project power or put their remaining assets at risk—and an America with a smaller strategic footprint than at any time since the end of the Vietnam War.

By the way, the cuts have grim implications for the US economy, too. A study by George Mason’s Stephen Fuller puts the impact at a loss of nearly 1 million defense-related jobs — many of them union jobs — and an $86.5 billion drop in national GDP.

Boeing, Lockheed Martin and Honeywell have all announced major cutbacks and retrenchments — Boeing by $1.6 billion. Lockheed will shrink its business units in defense and aerospace from 13 to 10, with some 10,000 layoffs, and that’s just for starters. Over the next decade, the economies of defense-heavy states like Virginia, Florida, California and Ohio will take severe hits — and may wonder why they ever voted for Obama.

In short, defense cuts are going to further weaken an already feeble economy — even as friends and foes alike start the countdown on the decline of American power around the world.

China’s military spending is surging by double digits. It now has two principal surface warships for every three of ours. Beijing’s surging shipbuilding program will pull it about even in a few years. And sequestration will slash more than $2 billion from our shipbuilding effort.

Since Ronald Reagan, every White House has understood that a strong US military is a pillar of world stability and peace. Even Bill Clinton kept our military strong enough to impose no-fly zones on Saddam Hussein while intervening militarily in both Bosnia and Kosovo. Now we’re about to get a cash-strapped military that will be reluctant to assert itself even in one conflict.

We made similar cuts in our forces and strategic presence after Vietnam. The result was an upsurge of the Soviet empire, and mass murder and civil war from Indochina to Africa and Latin America.

Now we’re about to make the same mistake, with possibly similar catastrophic results.

In fact, with China’s relentless bullying of its neighbors in the South China Sea and growing chaos in the Middle East, it’s already starting.

It’s not certain what the world will look like with both a broken US economy and a military condemned to a second-rate future. But I’d fasten that safety belt. It’s going to be a bumpy ride.

Arthur Herman’s latest book is “Freedom’s Forge.”

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2 thoughts on “Gutting US Defense The other fiscal-cliff fallout By Arthur Herman

  1. I hit ‘Liked’, but don’t know why. I think it was because I am thankful that you shared this with us. But, most of my thoughts are ‘Disliked.’ The Pentagon can spin all they want how they will manage through any major cuts to programs and projects, to include the Navy ship count. But, behind closed doors, the high brass of the military is already bent over ready to take it in. ***(sorry for the vivid, inappropriate image)***

    • I hear ya Dale…”interesting” is about the only word I can think of…I have yet to hear of any change in mission set either…so cut, but keep doing what you’re doing…wonder how long that “strategy” can last?

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