Friday, May 8, 2009

Defenseless - The Obama Budget

Obama sent a record budget to Congress, proposing billions in funding for every left wing cause imaginable, then claimed yesterday that he is fiscally responsible for asking for cuts amounting to 1/2 of 1% of his total budget. It is shameless to the point of parody. But scratch the surface of the budget and the savings and you quickly go from parody to ominous.

The bulk of Obama's proposed savings are coming from our Defense budget, the one place where significant increases in funding are necessary. And to make matters worse, among those handful of billions Obama intends to save, a goodly part of it comes from deep cuts in our missile defense program. This in a world that is getting more, not less, dangerous, and with our military desperately in need of expansion and refit. Obama is ignoring the exponential growth of the nuclear threat and he is reordering our defense spending priorities in the same manner that France did prior to 1939.

You can read at Hot Air the story of the Obama budget and Obama's mind-numbingly ridiculous assertion of fiscal responsibility for his proposing of $17 billion in budget cuts. And Bizzyblog points out that even the $17 billion in cuts is all smoke and mirrors. I will not add to that. My concern is with the defense side of the coin - and a small coin it has become.

Our military is in dire straights in terms of size and equipment. The following is from an article by MG Robert Scales discussing our military readiness posture in April, 2007. It was, at the time, critical, and there is nothing that I have seen since to suggest a significant change to that posture.

We have learned from painful experience in Iraq and Afghanistan that tomorrow's ground forces must be re-equipped with many more fighting vehicles that are light, mobile, easily transported and capable of keeping more soldiers protected for longer periods. Properly equipping the Army to win the long war will be very expensive. But we have fought 12 wars in the last 30 years and all but one has been decided on the ground. We will fight another one sooner than any of us would like. If we are to break the cycle of underfunding followed by rapid re-funding that has caused so much human tragedy, we must start now and must build a new Army for tomorrow rather than put yesterday's Army back on the shelf.

- MG Robert Scales, discussing the degraded state of Army readiness as of April, 2007. Indeed, as he points out, but for the Reagan era, our military had suffered significant underfunding for decades - under both Republican and Democratic administrations.

You will recall that a central argument of Obama and the left for bringing the Iraq War to an immediate surrender was because our military was undersized and the Iraq war was taking a tremendous toll on our equipment. The fact of a degraded military was certainly true, though the answer to that was not to surrender in Iraq, it was to make a big increase in defense spending. Bush and the Republican administration through 2006 attempted to fight two wars without increasing the defense budget to realistically account for equipment degradation and shortfalls. This remained true when the left took over Congress in 2006.

Now that the left has the reins of power, the one thing that Obama is not doing is making any increases in defense spending. Indeed, instead of rearming the military so it is prepared for the most difficult of confrontations - a conventional war - Obama is making huge cuts in expensive weapons systems that we will need for such confrontations in the future. He is instead, through Sec. of Def. Gates, reordering priorities in order to fight the much less costly "last war." You can read the itemization of cuts here. Secretary of Defense Gates seems fully complicit in this - and if his performance at Senate Hearings the other day are any indication, then he is both acting as the front man for specific Obama policy he is willing to be less then honest in furtherance of that policy. I am very surprised by that.

But that is an aside. The long and short of it all is that, instead of keeping us on a track so that we maintain superiority on the conventional battlefield, Obama is ordering our military to focus on unconventional warfare - i.e., the "last war." While it gives Obama the luxury of not having to sink billions into defense, the "last war" theory of military preparedness has ever been a trap for nations. For example, one need only to look to France in the late 1930's. They prepared for the next war expecting a replay of the last one - and thus, they based their defense around fixed fortifications of the Maginot Line. The line was breached by a new form of warfare - blitzkrieg - using superior weapons. France fell in days.

And it is not as if we face a paucity of conventional war threats. China, North Korea, Russia, and Iran are the four most obvious of those threats at the moment, but who knows where the next threat will come from. Indeed, Iraq was a conventional threat in 2002. But our conventional warfare capabilities then were so superior that they quickly folded - as indeed, they had near a decade earlier. Moreover, we now know that the Soviet Union considered attacking the West in the 1980's. Kim Il Sung put North Korea on a war footing about a year or so prior to that. Both pulled back. Why they did so is simple to assess - they had a very realistic respect for our capabilities to fight a conventional war. To paraphrase - it was "peace through superior firepower." But take away the perception of that superiority and, as surely as night follows day, the enemies of the West will not feel so constrained.

If we remain fully prepared for a conventional war, we can still also be prepared for unconventional conflicts. The reverse is not true. And thus, if we give away our conventional warfare superiority, we do so at great cost. Nor will it be something that can be at all easily resurrected. Combat systems today take years to develop and then years to ramp up production. The decisions made today will be with us for decades to come.

Compounding this situation by orders of magnitude is Obama's unfathomable decision to cut spending for missile defense. One of the cuts about which Obama so spuriously crowed yesterday was almost a 15% cut - 1.2 billion dollars - in the budget for the Missile Defense Agency. Can there be any possible justification for this? This is a system that grows more critical by the day. Pakistan is on the edge of takeover by the Taliban. North Korea wants to sell its technology to the highest bidders. Iran is continuing with their nuclear program and it has kick started proliferation throughout the Middle East. With that in mind, nothing could be more important to the defense of our nation and the free (for the moment) world than a robust missile defense.

Obama's cuts in defense are not rationale. ACORN is set to receive vast amounts of funding, while our military capabilities are to degraded. It leads one to wonder whether Obama is simply cynical and opportunistic, or is he really as naive and unrealistic as his budget priorities make him appear? Or is it a toxic mix of all four?

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