The Center for American Progress (CAP) has begun releasing an overview of a multi-part study titled, “The Benefits of Implementing a Unified Security Budget.”
It appears to be a serious attempt to justify Obama’s nearly $500 billion in sequestered military cuts for next year, and a total of $1 trillion in military cuts over a 10 year period.
CAP argues that military spending is breaking the bank, and that we don’t need a military now that’s as large as the one we needed in the past.
To read the overview is to see the same kind of arguments that were made against President Ronald Reagan when he successfully pursued “Peace Through Strength” in the 1980s.
Reagan was criticized for a military-budget-gone-wild but he knew (and said) the Soviet Union did not listen to our words or our handshakes, but to our bombs, our guns, and our planes. This is why Reagan was adamant that if his choices were between balancing the budget and having a strong military, he’d take the strong military every time.
These lessons are lost on CAP, as they rely on numbers from President Obama’s Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, and others, to argue that the sequestered cuts “make sense” because they allow us to re-evaluate our “spending choices.” In other words, there are so many things we could do with this money were we to keep it out of the hands of that out-of-control military machine.
Here’s how CAP put it:
Our current military expenditures account for nearly half the world’s total. We spend as much as the 17 next countries — most of them our allies — put together, and we spend more in real terms now than we did on average during the Cold War, when we did have an adversary — the Soviet Union — who was spending about as much as we were and was an existential threat.
I’m sure you get the gist of it. Times are not dangerous like they were then. We had a real adversary then, that justified the size of our military (although that adversary never hit our homeland the way today’s unmentioned adversary hit us on September 11, 2001).
CAP continues: “Our dominance in every dimension of military power is clear. In recent years, we have been building more ‘strategic depth’ into this dominance without regard to its costs–both to our treasury and to our other priorities.”
Apparently, CAP doesn’t realize that saying, “Our dominance in every dimension of military power is clear,” is a self-defeating argument for much of what they’re trying to do with this study: for the reason we are dominant in every dimension is because we’ve understood no price tag can be placed on peace.
Another self-defeating portion of the overview of is that for all of CAP’s concern about the deficit, they don’t want to cut money from the military in order to apply it to the deficit. No, they want to cut money from the military in order to fund other things they deem more important.
Ironic isn’t it? The military is the one part of the government that works well, yet it’s also the one part of government CAP wants to defund, to a large extent.
The idea that our military spending is breaking the bank is a non-starter, because the military’s success isn’t measured the way one measures the success of a social program or a new highway. It’s measured by the fact that we’re still free enough to discuss those social programs and those infrastructure projects.
Secondly, any individual or group that thinks we don’t need a military at present that’s as large as the one we needed in the past has firm misunderstanding of two important things: the past and the present.
Peace comes through strength, and strength is not cheap.