The Policies of Statism and the Effects on National Defense
Statism - a term typically used by libertarians usually describing a political philosophy, whether of the right or the left, that emphasizes the role of the state in politics or supports the use of the state to achieve economic, military or social goals. (Wikipedia)
Let me state up front that I spent almost 40 years of my life in the US Department of Defense (DoD), three and a half years in uniform, 27 years as a DoD civilian, and eight years as a DoD contractor. The years in uniform (US Army) included one year in Vietnam. When I began my career, Lyndon Johnson was president and the military was undergoing a buildup due to the war in Southeast Asia. When I retired from DoD in 2001, another buildup was beginning due to the attacks on September 11. And when I resigned from the contractor position in 2009, it was near the end of the first year of the presidency of Barack Obama.
The eight years I spent as a DoD contractor were in the United Kingdom working as an analyst. During the time, I visited almost every country in Europe, seeing first hand the effects of the economic policies of the member states of the European Union (EU). Most of the time, of course, I spent in the UK when the government was under the control of the Labor Party (or Labour Party as the Brits spell it), roughly the equivalent of the US Democratic Party. Most of the other members of the EU had left or center-left governments during this time, with the exceptions of Germany, Italy and France. In each of those cases, however, there were (and are) huge numbers of socialists and social democrats in their respective parliaments. In any case, virtually all the countries in Europe can only be characterized as welfare states. This experience has taught me a few things: first of all, nations that spend huge amounts of money on social welfare programs have little left for national defense. Secondly, the EU member states, most of whom are also members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), rely primarily on the US to defend them against any serious attacks as there own military capabilities, with very few exceptions, are small and underfunded.
That brings us to the current state of affairs in the US. On the 5th of January this year, President Obama announced (in the Pentagon of all places) what amounts to huge cuts in our nation’s military budget. At the same time, he stated (in essence) our nation’s security was still in good hands. What he has really done is abandon the time-honored, two-war principle by instituting severe cutbacks in our ground (i.e., Army and Marine) forces. These cuts, amounting to hundreds of billions of dollars, are on top of the five or six hundred billions of cuts to come because of the so-called Super-Committee’s failure to agree on deficit reduction. What will he have left? Well, we’ve still got Obamacare!
Iran is trying to build a nuclear weapon. They are threatening our naval forces in the Straits of Hormuz. North Korea, already in possession of some rudimentary nuclear weapons, is now ruled by a 27-year old “four-star general.” China is rapidly expanding its naval forces and Russia is in the process of modernizing its ICBM force. Pakistan, a sometime ally, has a nuclear capability. Then there’s al-Qaeda, the Taliban, Hezbollah, Hamas, etc. etc.
I lived through the years that Jimmy Carter was president and saw much of the same phenomenon: large defense cuts in order to fund social welfare programs. As I mentioned above, the EU nations have gutted their military establishments in order to fund what are, essentially, socialist economic programs. (As an aside, they are feeling the effects of this now as rioters protest against budget cuts in generous retirement programs these governments can no longer afford. It’s starting to happen there as well. See “Occupy Wall Street.”) It is, unfortunately, happening again. Obama has presided over the largest aggrandizement of federal power since Franklin Roosevelt, and has created a HUGE national debt. Some people refer to his policies as “socialist.” I am not sure whether he is a committed socialist or not but he certainly is, at the very least, a statist (see above). One thing is for sure: the current administration is doing the same thing many of the EU nations have done - gutting our national defense to fund a bloated welfare state. This is, in my opinion, gambling with our national security.
It took a Ronald Reagan to straighten out the unfortunate effects of the Carter years. I don’t know if Mitt Romney, Newt Gingrich, or Rick Santorum is another Ronald Reagan (I left out Ron Paul - his foreign policy ideas are, well, rather bizarre.), but whoever wins the GOP nomination has to be better than what we have. Politicians always characterize their opponents’ political positions as “disastrous,” “catastrophic,” and other equally negative terms. In the case of Barack Obama, these terms are all too appropriate.
When I wrote this, I neglected to add that Obama is seriously considering reducing our nuclear stockpile by as much as 80% - that would leave about 300 warheads. This is a unilateral cut and will place our stockpile to far fewer than what is in Russia's stockpile and most likely in China's as well. The current U.S. arsenal has about 5,000 warheads and a cut to 300 would put it at a level roughly where it was in 1950. Don't worry though - we'll still be able to deter Lithuania, Botswana, and Monaco. Maybe even Liechtenstein. Amazing.
The occurrences in Benghazi, Libya and the total mishandling of that situation I believe underscore the ineptitude of the Obama administration when it comes to foreign policy and, especially, national defense. It has become clear that the Obama administration (and I'm being kind here) is obfuscating the issue in order to cover up the fact that his Middle East policy has proven to be an unmitigated disaster. When I wrote the original article, the GOP hadn't been picked yet. I am writing this 2 days before the election and I hope Mitt Romney is victorious and returns our country to preeminence in the world arena.
Well, Romney lost, the GOP lost 2 seats in the Senate and a few in the House, although they still have control of the latter and John Boehner has been reelected as Speaker. The Budget Control Act of 2011calls for massive budget cuts, including DoD, if the government does not come to an agreement about fiscal policy by 1 Jan 2013, has been pushed back to 1 March. If they don't come to an agreement by then, what is known as "sequestration" will take place - in plain terms, a $500 billion cut in defense spending over 10 years. Of course, they could just "kick the can down the road again" in March . . . watch this space.
Now the sequestration has taken effect (and Obama is stating it wasn't his idea - wrong!) and DoD is going to see huge cuts if action isn't taken soon. And North Korea and Iran are racing toward a nuclear capability - North Korea even had the temerity to threaten a nuclear strike on the US the other day! On the good side of the ledger, Obama finally realized the value of missile defense and agreed to a limited number of interceptors in, I believe, Alaska. If only the Democratic Party members had any vision, we would have had a comprehensive missile defense system a long time ago (remember SDI?), but we don't. And Obama in his infinite wisdom decided not to deploy missile defense in eastern Europe (we don't want to irritate Comrade Putin, do we?) Can somebody explain to me why 60,000,000 people voted for this man?
UPDATE #5 - NOW SYRIA
So Obama's trying to show how tough he is with a "limited strike" against Assad in Syria which, of course, will accomplish absolutely nothing, not to mention he's telegraphed whatever "punch" we have. Oliver North recently put forth a three-point plan for dealing wit Syria:
1 - Increase the security of every US embassy in the Middle East and sub-Saharan Africa.
2 - Inform Israel well in advance of any action.
3 - CIA should hire contractors to go into the Syrian refugee camps in Jordan an recruit, train and field a covert action force of REAL freedom fighters to eventually depose Assad.
Now THAT sounds like a strategy. BUT - don't hold your breath waiting for this president to do something like it.