Ike’s Farewell Address: Liberals Are Wrong About The “Military Industrial Complex”

 

 

1/17/61: President Dwight Eisenhower’s Farewell Address is best known for the phrase “military industrial complex,” but his target was not the Pentagon, it was pork barrel spending by lawmakers on Capitol Hill.

In his 1961 farewell address, President Dwight Eisenhower told the nation “we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.” For  50 years that quote has been used by liberals and libertarians in their attempts to cut the defense budget and to stop national security programs. Eisenhower was planning to use the term “military-industrial-congressional complex,” but in a move he later regretted, was talked out of it by his brother.
Eisenhower was a strong advocate of defense modernization programs, and the real target of his speech was Capitol Hill, not the Pentagon. In those Cold War days, America was spending 9% of its GDP on defense programs, which is almost three times the level of our spending today. National security was ranked as the number one concern of the American people, and everyone was aware of the statement of Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev, “We will bury you.”

SPUTNIK AND THE MISSILE GAP

The tone of the farewell address was motivated by Ike’s anger at the Democratic Party. In three days John F. Kennedy would be inaugurated and Eisenhower was still stung by criticism aimed at his defense programs. Democrats had campaigned in 1956, ’58 and ’60 on non-existent gaps in defense programs. During Eisenhower’s 1956 re-election campaign the focus was on the “bomber gap.”
This shifted to a “missile gap” in 1958 when the Democrats won 16 Senate seats, and the charge was repeated with more vehemence during the 1960 presidential campaign. Unfortunately the Republican president did not provide any information to rebut these claims. To do so he thought would reveal closely guarded intelligence secrets.
The missile gap can now be seen as the grand deception of the 1960 campaign. It was fueled by the launch of the Soviet space satellite Sputnik on October 4, 1957. This 184 pound satellite instantly became a symbol of Soviet pre-eminence in outer space. It was a major topic in the U.S. and shattered public confidence in our technological superiority. “The national ego had not been so affronted since Pearl Harbor,” Ben Pearse of the New York Times wrote of the national trauma.
Senator John F. Kennedy (D-MA) frequently mentioned Sputnik during his campaign to “Get America moving again.” Kennedy said Eisenhower was “putting fiscal security ahead of national security. Surely our nation’s security overrides budgetary considerations.” Kennedy said Eisenhower had always made insufficient appropriations for defense.
JFK often repeated the same theme, “The nation is losing the satellite-missile race with the Soviet Union because of complacent miscalculations, penny-pinching, budget cutbacks, incredibly confused mismanagement, and wasteful rivalries and jealousies. . . We are facing a gap on which we are gambling with our survival.”
It was also an effective issue for him during the presidential debate, and he quoted the controversial 1957 Gaither Report of the President’s science advisers on the vulnerability of American defenses. Kennedy claimed the USSR had 50 ICBMs while America only had 10, and just 5 of them were operational at any time. He said the gap would be enormous by 1961 when the Soviets would have hundreds of new missiles.
Nixon later said he could not effectively respond to JFK because the information was classified. Kennedy had no inside information about a missile gap, and his source was right wing syndicated columnist Joseph Alsop. We now know Alsop’s figures were bogus.
Many Americans thought a Soviet attack was only a matter of time. Khrushchev arrived in the United States on September 19, 1959 for an uninvited and unwelcome twenty-five-day visit. He addressed the United Nations General Assembly, taunted UK Prime Minister Harold Macmillan, and pounded a shoe on his desk in the General Assembly.
Senator Stuart Symington (D-MO), the former Secretary of the Air Force and the Democrats leading spokesman on defense said, “A very substantial missile gap does exist and the Eisenhower Administration apparently is going to permit this gap to increase.” President Eisenhower responded “The bomber gap of several years ago was always a fiction, and the missile gap shows every sign of being the same.”
In his book, “Who Ever Believed in the ‘Missile Gap’?”: John F. Kennedy and the Politics of National Security,” Christopher Preble argues that because of the missile gap rhetoric, senior Soviet military figures believed JFK was a dangerous extremist. They thought he was trying to justify a pre-emptive American attack, and this led to the Soviets placing nuclear missiles in Cuba in 1962.

THE BOMBER GAP

Talk of a bomber gap began in 1954 with the first reports of the USSR “Bison” jet bomber. On May 1, 1955, western observers at the annual May Day parade were awestruck as several formations of 10 new Bison’s thundered overhead. We now know these formations were an illusion.
It was the same pack of 10 bombers circling out of sight and then flying over Red Square six times. Americans were told 600 of these bombers existed, but Bison production was halted in 1963 with the construction of 93 aircraft. The Soviets were not pleased with the capabilities of the Bison and most of the planes were converted into refueling tankers.
In April of 1957 the Soviet Union unveiled the Bear bomber, and once again, rhetoric about a gap was intensified. U-2 intelligence flights had begun on July 4, 1956, and President Eisenhower had convincing proof that there was no gap. The same information was relayed to the Congress, but Democrats were not about to abandon an effective campaign issue. They were supported by defense and aerospace companies which wanted to keep production lines open. Their lobbying was successful and the U.S. response to the 93 Bison bombers was the construction of over 2,500 bombers for the U.S. Air Force.

THE BOTTOM LINE

The United States had a huge lead over the Soviet Union in those days, and the balance would not shift until the mid-1970s. It was known from the outset that these gaps were false, but they were effective political tools.
The campaign rhetoric was not necessary after Kennedy won, and at his first press briefing Secretary of Defense Robert McNamara said “The Russians probably have no more intercontinental ballistic missiles than the U.S.” He would later confirm that there never had been a bomber or missile gap. The debate finally ended in October 1961, when members of the Kennedy administration declared that the United States possessed overwhelming military strength in the number of bombers and missiles.

New Congressional District Data Shows GOP Rising Tide: The Biggest Winners and Losers

 

 

This week the Census Bureau released the final populations numbers for every Congressional district. The significant shift to GOP areas is obvious.

Districts That Have Gained The Most in Population Since 2000

 Of the top 25 Districts Only Three Are Represented By Democrats

District/Representative/Population Change

  1. NV-03 Heck (R) + 378,510
  2. AZ-02 Franks (R) + 331,404
  3. AZ-06 Flake (R) + 330,373
  4. TX-10 McCaul (R) + 329,844
  5. FL-05 Nugent (R) + 289,814
  6. CA-45 Bono Mack (R) + 275,656
  7. GA-07 Woodall (R) + 272,680
  8. TX-26 Burgess (R) + 263,279
  9. TX-22 Olson (R) + 259,220
  10. TX-31 Carter (R) + 250,233
  11. NC-09 Myrick (R) + 232,672
  12. VA-10 Wolf (R) + 225,723
  13. UT-03 Chaffetz (R) + 221,687
  14. FL-14 Mack (R) + 219,658
  15. AZ-07 Grijalva (D) + 214,773
  16. NC-04 Price (D) + 207,446
  17. CA-44 Calvert (R) + 205,748
  18. CA-25 McKeon (R) + 205,552
  19. TX-21 Smith (R) + 205,024
  20. FL-12 Ross (R) + 202,103
  21. TX-28 Cuellar (D) + 200,565
  22. TX-23 Canseco (R) + 196,502
  23. TX-04 Hall (R) + 194,642
  24. GA-09 Graves (R) + 193,905
  25. ID-01 Labrador (R) + 193,00

The Biggest Losers

Of the Top 25 Districts Which Lost Population, 23 Are Held By Democrats and Only 2 Are Republicans

  1. LA-02 Richmond (D) – 145,696
  2. MI-13 Clarke (D) – 143,274
  3. MI-14 Conyers (D) – 112,003
  4. OH-11 Fudge (D) – 90,236
  5. IL-01 Rush (D) – 66,607
  6. PA-14 Doyle (D) – 61,316
  7. IL-04 Gutierrez (D) – 52,498
  8. IL-02 Jackson (D – 51,320
  9. MS-02 Thompson (D) – 42,733
  10. NY-28 Slaughter (D) – 42,626
  11. MO-01 Clay (D) – 34,428
  12. PA-12 Critz (D) – 34,035
  13. AL-07 Sewell (D) – 32,279
  14. OH-01 Chabot (R) – 31,846
  15. OH-10 Kucinich (D) – 31,798
  16. OH-1 7Ryan (D) – 30,205
  17. CA-31 Becerra (D) – 27,912
  18. MI-05 Kildee (D)- 27,455
  19. MI-12 Levin (D) – 25,958
  20. NY-27 Higgins (D) – 24,929
  21. IL-09 Schakowsky (D) – 24,258
  22. NY-11 Clarke (D) – 21,726
  23. TN-09 Cohen (D) – 20,917
  24. IL-17 Schilling (R) – 18,739
  25. PA-02 Fattah (D) – 17,073

Libertarian Leaders Would Not Fight For America: A Powerful Message From Larry Bernard

 

Larry Bernard of Sarasota (center) is shown with Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL), left, and former NYC Mayor Rudy Giuliani, right.

Our friend of the day is the very wise Larry Bernard of Sarasota, Florida, who has first hand experience within the Libertarian Party. He goes beyond preaching to the choir. Activists on both sides of the political spectrum have little tolerance for their opponents. We frequently post articles blasting liberals and it is fun to have our conservative pals pat us on the back. However, are we really accomplishing anything? Larry is brave, intelligent and effective. He is greatly outnumbered, but debates his isolationist opponents on their home turf, the Republican Liberty Caucus. It is fun to see him destroy their gold standard arguments, but our favorite part is when he debates national security issues. This week Larry told them:

I was active in the Libertarian Party at the time of the 9/11 attack. A minority of activists was running the party, and we took a poll on how to respond. The majority view was reasonable but the position of the leadership was abundantly clear.
They were unwilling to support a reprisal against Afghanistan of any sort, and they hoped for more 9-11 attacks. The fact such thoughts are common in the Liberty movement makes me question if any Libertarian would truly fight for his freedom when the vandals came for him. . . I have yet to see any so called libertarian who I believe would honestly stand up and fight (and die) for his liberty.

The radical libertarians immediately pounced on Larry by saying he had the wrong priorities. He was told “We need to worry about the Zionists who run this country, not the Muslims. Until then I am going to remain focused on those who are taking away my freedoms and liberty TODAY – and it aint ‘The Muslims.'” Larry responded: “Are you enjoying conspiracy theory land? Are the rides fun? Why not just own up to hating Jews? It makes your insane rantings more sensible.”

 

Liberal Glenn Greenwald: “I Genuinely Believe Obama and the Democrats Owe a Heartfelt Public Apology to Bush/Cheney and the GOP”

 

 

In 2002, State Senator Barack Obama (D-South Chicago) thought the war on terror was “A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.” Now he is supporting all of its major elements.

Obama Has Won the War on Terror Debate — for the American Right

The Obama Administration has maintained, renewed or expanded many of Bush’s War on Terror policies. Now that Obama agrees with Bush on these issues, they are being forgotten by the left. The liberals screamed about these issues from 2002 through 2008, but now there is complete silence and the old slogans have been abandoned.

President Obama’s national security decisions have demonstrated the radical left was wrong, and George W. Bush always had a valid response to America’s global challenges. In just two years Obama has ignored practically all the national security planks in the 2008 Democratic platform.

If there is a difference between Obama and Bush in this area, it is difficult to find. Obama has continued some of Bush’s domestic policy such as the tax cut extension and presidential signing statements, but the major similarities concern a phrase the President refuses to say, “the war on terror.”

“There’s been a powerful continuity between the 43rd and the 44th president.  I don’t think it’s even fair to call it Bush Lite.  It’s Bush.  It’s really, really hard to find a difference that’s meaningful and not atmospheric. . . You’ve got state secrets, targeted killings, indefinite detention, renditions, the opposition to extending the right of habeas corpus to prisoners at Bagram in Afghanistan, and although it is slightly different, Obama has been as aggressive as President Bush in defending prerogatives about who he has to inform in Congress for executive covert action.” – Gen. Michael Hayden, Director of the CIA and the NSA, Bush Administration

Obama’s Afghan surge had overwhelming support from conservative lawmakers, and they are also backing the President’s decision to implement a no fly zone in Libya. Among some of the other notable changes few foresaw in 2008 are:

  • Democrats had super majorities in the House and Senate in 2009, and they could have easily fulfilled their promise to repeal the “unconstitutional” Patriot Act. They not only renewed it, but they enhanced it.
  • Liberals said Bush made end-runs around the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act to implement a “lawless” Terrorist Surveillance Program (TSP).  Now the Obama Justice Department says the TSP can be used under the constitutional authority of the commander in chief.
  • Obama has fully implemented Bush’s Iraq Status of Forces Agreement.
  • Liberals claimed the Bush administration was illegally spying on American citizens with the NSA’s “warrantless surveillance” program. The confirmation of former Bush NSA and CIA Director Michael Hayden was opposed by then Sen. Obama because “he had overseen the illegal NSA spying program.”  Now Obama no longer believes the program is illegal.
  • Keeping Open the Guantanamo Bay Detention Facility, although he promised to close it on his first full day in office.
  • Treatment of detainees and torture. Both rendition and Enhanced Interrogation Techniques (EIT) are still legal and available for use. The EIT authorization was withdrawn by Bush and Obama formally ended the program, but he can bring it back at any time.
  • Attorney General Eric Holder now says waterboarding is not torture. He pointed out that thousands of American soldiers, during training, received similar water-boarding and other interrogation methods over the past 15 years.
  • Committing U.S. forces to combat without Congressional approval (the left called it cowboy diplomacy).
  • Predator drone attacks on terrorists targets have continued.

Where Are the Liberals Now?

The left never really cared about national security policy, and for them it was always partisan politics. Liberal author Glenn Greenwald makes a similar argument in Salon:

Obama has single-handedly eliminated virtually all mainstream debate over these War on Terror policies.  At least during the Bush years, we had one party which steadfastly supported them but one party which claimed (albeit not very persuasively) to vehemently oppose them.  At least there was a pretense of vigorous debate over their legality, morality, efficacy, and compatibility with our national values.
Those debates are no more.  Even the hardest-core right-wing polemicists — Gen. Hayden, the Heritage Foundation, Dick Cheney — now praise Obama’s actions in these areas.  Opposition from national Democrats has faded away to almost complete nonexistence now that it’s a Democratic President doing these things.
What was once viewed as the signature of Bush/Cheney radicalism is now official, bipartisan Washington consensus: the policies equally of both parties and all serious people.  Thanks to Barack Obama, this architecture is firmly embedded in place and invulnerable to meaningful political challenge. . . I genuinely believe that Obama and the Democratic Party owe a heartfelt, public apology to Bush, Cheney and the GOP for all the harsh insults they spewed about them for years based on policies that they are now themselves aggressively continuing.
Obama has won the War on Terror debate — for the American Right.  And as Dick Cheney’s interview last night demonstrates, they’re every bit as appreciative as they should be.

The Way They Were: When Elizabeth Taylor Married Nick Hilton

 

Elizabeth Taylor, 18, and Nick Hilton, 23, were married on May 6, 1950 at the Church of the Good Shepherd in Beverly Hills. This article is based on observations in “Elizabeth Taylor: The Last Star” by Kitty Kelley and “A Passion For Life: The Biography of Elizabeth Taylor” by David Spoto.

Without the star power of Elizabeth Taylor, the GOP probably would have lost the 1978 U.S. Senate race in Virginia. Her then husband, John Warner, was elected with 50.2% of the vote. Taylor participated in numerous party functions in those years, and Republicans should be grateful to her. Her vigorous support of Israel is also admirable, and she was associated with many charitable endeavors, especially AIDS research.

She also volunteered to join Bob Hope on his USO tours. Her obituaries this week prominently noted her eight relatively brief marriages. Her first marriage lasted only eight months, and it essentially ended on the honeymoon. It was nevertheless a notable event for being the most newsworthy wedding in Hollywood social history.

Taylor signed an MGM contract at age 10 during the golden age of the studio system. From that point on her education was limited to three hours a day at the inadequate school house on the movie lot. Even as a senior citizen her spelling was poor.

The word sexy was always spelled as saxy by Taylor, but no one would correct her. College was not an option for the movie star. Taylor achieved fame at 12 with her starring role in National Velvet which won two Academy Awards. At age 18, Taylor married Conrad (Nick) Hilton, Jr, on May 6, 1950, and it was truly the wedding of the year with celebrities begging for an invitation.

Hilton’s father was founder of the hotel chain and had a 1950 net worth of $125 million (over $1 billion today). The senior Hilton was then 63 and had just divorced Zsa Zsa Gabor, 37, and was dating MGM dancer Ann Miller, 27.

The wedding took place exactly one month before the release of Taylor’s acclaimed movie Father of the Bride with Spencer Tracey.

Publicity for the wedding and the movie were intertwined. MGM paid for the lavish reception at the Bel Air Country Club, as well as the $3,500 wedding dress. At the reception Taylor had lengthy conversations with Hedda Hopper, Louella Parsons and Sheilah Graham, the reigning gossip columnists of the 1950s. Hopper’s headline was “I am so glad I waited for Nick.” Parsons quoted her as saying “Nick and I are now one forever and ever.”

  • Their 14 week honeymoon was immediately marred by too much attention. Everywhere they went the crowds were enormous, and the MGM publicity machine kept it that away. When the couple arrived in New York City they stayed in the plush presidential suite of the Waldorf Astoria, which is still the headquarters of the Hilton chain. After a few days they departed on the HMS Queen Mary for three and half months in Europe. When they arrived on board there was a handwritten note from the Duke and Duchess of Windsor asking them to dinner that evening, which they accepted.
  • Beginning in Monte Carlo and throughout Europe, Taylor devoted two hours a day to signing autographs and posing for photos. The stories about marital discord began three weeks into the marriage as the couple pursued separate activities in Europe. She was shopping, on the beach and water skiing without him, and he was gambling without her.
  • The marriage did not survive the honeymoon and when the Queen Mary arrived back in New York, Taylor immediately checked into a hospital. Hilton told his mother-in-law that Elizabeth was hysterical, and the mother of the bride promptly told her daughter to “grow up.”
  • In NYC the couple gave Louella Parsons an exclusive interview which resulted in an article saying everything was perfect with the newlyweds. They both told Parsons they were very happy, which was far from the truth. The couple then returned to Los Angeles but the marriage was beyond repair.
  • A bridesmaid said Taylor had mood swings and was frequently depressed. She “required 100% total attention, and Nick was not capable of that.” Taylor was at a brunch with Tony Curtis and Janet Leigh when a screen writer arrived an hour late. She picked up a cake and smashed it into his face.
  • Two months later Taylor spent a week at the Cedars of Lebanon Hospital. This began a pattern which remained for the rest of her life. Anytime she encountered emotional strain, Taylor headed to a hospital. She claimed to have exotic illnesses and was always preoccupied with medicine.
  • When she left the hospital, Taylor immediately filed for divorce, and charged her husband with “extreme mental cruelty.” Her action was not contested.  She cried in front of the judge and said Hilton had used abusive language and left her alone on the honeymoon.
  • The wedding presents included two mink coats and a $65,000 ring. All the presents were placed in storage when the honeymoon began, and the plan was to have them sent to a new home in Bel Air. That never happened and the presents remained in storage for 22 years. Taylor also held on to her stock in the hotel chain. It split several times before she sold it for $141,000.
  • For the rest of his life the hotel heir would be referred to as “playboy Nicky Hilton.” He did not speak to the press, did not criticize Taylor, and said he was immature at the time of the wedding. The media described him as an alcoholic, a gambler, a drug abuser, self centered and spoiled. He was always described as the cause of the break-up, but in hindsight it now appears there were two sides to this failed marriage, and it is doubtful either the bride or groom was blameless.
  • Hilton’s later girlfriends, Natalie Wood and Joan Collins, both portrayed him as devout Catholic who would never marry outside his religion. He always carried rosary beads and gave Wood a crucifix. Hilton made Taylor sign a prenuptial agreement which said their children would be raised Catholic, she would not use birth control and she would not seek a divorce.
  • Five years after the divorce, Hilton wanted to be remarried in the Catholic church. This was not possible because Taylor refused an annulment. He died unexpectedly of a heart attack at age 42 in 1969. His death occurred more than a decade before the birth of Paris and her sister Nicky Hilton, who was named after him.
  • Taylor’s CNN obituary yesterday concluded by noting:

No leading film actress today, not even Angelina Jolie, can claim to have an off-screen life as riveting, as tumultuous, and as entertaining. When people call Elizabeth Taylor the “last star,” they speak of her as the final member in a glorious parade of personalities — Gable, Cooper, Dietrich, Hepburn, Wayne, Tracy — whose magnetism grew solely in dark rooms smelling like popcorn and illuminated on a big screen. No one could claim her place in that line now. No one should.

Would Ronald Reagan Have Endorsed Ron Paul?

Similar to any Republican president, Ronald Reagan endorsed all GOP House and Senate candidates. This included liberal Republicans such as Senators Mark Hatfield (OR), Lowell Weicker (CT), and Arlen Specter (PA), as well as Rep. Ron Paul (R-TX).
The difference is Paul has taken an old endorsement from a Congressional race and attempted to make it appear Reagan endorsed the Texan as a national candidate. Nothing could be further from the truth. Rep. Paul has misrepresented the Reagan pro forma endorsement for decades and his action has been condemned by top Reagan aides.
This was a significant issue during the 2008 presidential campaign. In the New Hampshire primary, the most prominent Paul TV ad closed with the narrator saying: “We need to keep him fighting for our country,” and the words are attributed to Reagan. This was surprising because it came from the same Ron Paul who told the Dallas Morning News the Reagan presidency was a “dramatic failure.”
The endorsement controversy was addressed in the February 11, 2008 issue of Newsweek:
“Paul uses a longer version of the quotation on his Web page: ‘Ron Paul is one of the outstanding leaders fighting for a stronger national defense. As a former Air Force officer, he knows well the needs of our armed forces, and he always puts them first.’ – Ronald Reagan
“Ron Paul’s embrace of Reagan’s legacy represents a significant change of heart. Actually, it’s the second time that Paul has changed his mind about Reagan. After endorsing Reagan for president in 1976 and again in 1980, Paul became disenchanted, leaving the Republican party in 1987. The following year, he told the Los Angeles Times on May 10, 1988: “The American people have never reached this point of disgust with politicians before. I want to totally disassociate myself from the Reagan Administration.
“Paul’s disaffection started early in Reagan’s presidency: ‘Ronald Reagan has given us a deficit 10 times greater than what we had with the Democrats,’ Paul told the Christian Science Monitor in 1987, ‘It didn’t take more than a month after 1981, to realize there would be no changes.’
“Sometime between 1988 (during Paul’s run for the presidency on the Libertarian Party ticket) and 1996 (when Paul, running as a Republican once more, successfully ousted an incumbent House member in a GOP primary), Paul once again embraced Reagan’s legacy.
The New York Times reported then that Paul had used the longer version of the Reagan quote in a videotape sent to 30,000 households. According to the Times, Reagan’s former attorney general, Edwin Meese III, flew to Texas ‘to insist that Mr. Reagan had offered no recent endorsements.’
“We were unable to document Reagan’s endorsement of Paul. When we asked the Paul campaign for documentation, a spokesperson told us that the campaign was ‘a little more focused on positive things.’ The Paul campaign did not provide the Times with a date for the quotation in 1996, either.”

A Disappointing Iowa Start for Haley Barbour

 

Governors Terry Branstad (R-IA) and Haley Barbour (R-MS) in Des Moines. 

Gov. Haley Barbour (R-MS) has returned to Iowa and says he expects to make a decision by April regarding a presidential campaign. He is giving every indication he will be a candidate, and says the first-in-the-nation Iowa presidential precinct caucuses will be his top priority.
Today Barbour tried to differentiate himself from former Gov. Mitt Romney (R-MA) and former House Speaker Next Gingrich (R-GA) by calling for significant cuts in the defense budget. He said “If the GOP can’t find cuts to make in the Pentagon, we won’t have credibility anywhere else.” This is exactly what Democrats want to hear and fully half of their reduction proposals target the Pentagon.

Barbour’s comments were even worse on Afghanistan where he is for troop reduction and it is not to say money:

I think we need to look at that. What is our mission? How many Al Qaeda are in Afghanistan. … Is that a 100,000-man Army mission? I don’t think our mission should be to think we’re going to make Afghanistan an Ireland. Italy or Western-style democracy.

What Barbour does not say is that there are an estimated 25,000 Taliban in Afghanistan. The Governor says he believes in a strong national defense, but is looking at the military as an outlet ripe for spending cuts. He is advocating this even though the nation is now fighting two wars and contemplating a no-fly zone in Libya.
The Republican Party’s “Pledge to America” promises to hold the line on defense spending. The GOP is committed to rolling back spending to pre-bailout levels, but they made two major exceptions – the Department of Defense and Homeland Security.
What Barbour does not recognize is that major reductions have already occurred, and there is a dire need to modernize aging weapon systems. Practically all of our weapons are getting older, shoddier and less reliable. There are far fewer of them then just two decades ago, and they’re being used twice as hard.

A $330 Billion Savings

In both Afghanistan and Iraq the military is relying on F-15s and F-16s from the 1970’s, but because of their age they are very expensive to maintain. Barbour did not acknowledge that 31 major Pentagon programs have already been cut, which represents a cost saving of $330 billion.
In addition, two more major programs have been added to the cut list: future production of the C-17 cargo plane will be stopped, and there will be no new engine for the F-35 fighter jet. The number of military commands around the world are also being cut, and the U.S. Joint Forces Command was the first to go. Furthermore, the number of slots for senior officers are being reduced. The expected cost savings of Defense Secretary Gates’ recent reforms is expected to be $100 billion over the next five years, and all of that money is needed for modernization programs.

Military Modernization Programs Have Come to a Halt

The Pentagon budget has increased over the past decade, but these funds have not gone for weapons or equipment.  The money has gone to the 46% increase in personnel costs, and that does not include their health care or retirement pay. 54% of the budget is spent on salaries and benefits for service members. If you want to really cut the budget the easy way is to get rid of the all volunteer military and bring back the draft.
An excellent example of the major reductions which have already been made at the Pentagon is the production halt of the Air Force’s F-22 Raptor stealth fighter.  This supersonic plane is the most sophisticated fighter in the world, and it was designed for combating a high tech enemy. The Air Force wanted 648 of them when the Cold War was on, and this request was reduced to 347 places a decade later. Now the Air Force has to settle for 187 planes.

Examples of other reductions include:

  • The Air Force has already been cut from 4,200 fighters and attack aircraft in 1991 to 1,498 today. The next generation bomber has also been cut back.
  • The number of Navy ships have been cut in half since the Reagan modernization program.  The Navy’s DDG-1000 destroyer has been canceled.
  • The new Army combat vehicle is gone along with whole sections of their multiplatform Future Combat Systems. This was the Army’s top modernization program. The Crusader artillery gun and the Comanche helicopter have also been cut.
  • The Pentagon has already purchased 288 V-22 Osprey helicopters and now the program will be ended at two-thirds of the planned buy.
  • Last year Generals Stanley McChrystal and David Patraeus asked for 40,000 troops for an Afghan surge, but they got 30,000 instead.

The Pentagon Budget For The Next Decade is Already Flat.

The FY 2010 Pentagon budget represents 3.65% of GDP ($534 billion). The 2011 defense budget is $548.9 billion, but this does not include war spending. Pentagon budgets over the next five years will only have 1% increases over inflation. This 1% real growth is still  a net reduction for modernization efforts.

Once again, over half of the Pentagon budget is consumed by personnel costs which have risen significantly since the draft was ended and the nation now relies on an all-volunteer military. The budget deficit is really due to the rapid growth of entitlement programs, which are over $2 trillion/year. Domestic and social welfare spending consumes 80% of GDP and is on track to surpass 100%.

There is no serious attempt to address entitlements which represent 50 percent of all spending. In the current budget the Pentagon accounts for 14.44% of total outlays of $3.591 trillion, and it ranks fourth in government spending programs. Welfare spending is $888 billion, social security is $696 billion, and healthcare is $542 billion. That will increase significantly with the new “comprehensive national healthcare reform.”

Why Do We Have to Spent So Much Money on Defense?

The United States does spend a lot of money on defense and that is one reason America has allies. If we are not able or willing to help in a crisis there is no reason remain our allies and the system of collective security would break down. When America’s foreign policy shifts to isolationism, big wars happen, such as WW I and WW II. As Romney says: “With today’s global threats and allies’ diminishing military capabilities, freedom will increasingly depend on American strength.”

Wise Words From Defense Secretary Robert Gates:

Four times in the last century the United States has come to the end of a war, concluded that the nature of man and the world had changed for the better, and turned inward, unilaterally disarming and dismantling institutions important to our national security – in the process, giving ourselves a ‘peace’ dividend. Four times we chose to forget history. Four times we have had to rebuild and rearm, at huge cost in blood and treasure.

After September 11th, the United States re-armed and again strengthened our intelligence capabilities. It will be critically important to sustain those capabilities in the future – it will be critically important not to make the same mistake a fifth time. . . .

In economic tough times people see the defense budget as the place to solve the nation’s deficit problems, to find money for other parts of the government. My greatest worry is that we will do to the defense budget what we have done four times before. And that is, slash it in an effort to find some kind of a dividend to put the money someplace else. I think that would be disastrous in the world environment we see today and what we’re likely to see in the years to come.