Secretary of State Chuck Hagel has just announced sweeping defense cuts that will reduce the U.S. Army to its smallest size since before World War II. In 2013, during Hagel’s confirmation hearing, I pointed out that his newfound love of defense cuts was a stark contrast to Hagel’s vehement opposition to defense cuts in 2005.
In an address to the Institute of Politics at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, Hagel warned against defense cuts that would repeat the mistakes of recent history:
The Europeans, our European allies in Nato, most every one of them…have been going this way [down] with their defense budgets. We did that for the first six years of the 90’s–because what was the threat? The Soviet Union had imploded, there was no evil in the world left, boundless opportunities for democracy as far as the eye can see. What was the threat? Well, for six years, we cut our defense budget, we cut our intelligence community budget, and we even cut our State Department budget…So we brought some of this [Iraq War struggles] on ourselves. It teaches us a good lesson about the world–a lesson we continue to learn, generation after generation.