|Chuck Hagel - Sec of Defense|
As many of you know, I am not a big fan of the Government trying to do anything for us plebes. The one exception is the Department of Defense. I’m not saying that a privatized military wouldn’t be more efficient and thus less costly, I’m sure it would. The issue is the idea of a non-elected firm or corporation in charge of the nation’s defense (see Robocop the original one). So in the end I’ll give up some waste, fraud and abuse for security that is run by the people’s elected civilians. That being said, could someone explain the rambling of Secretary of Defense Chuck 'Sleepy' Hagel here (emphasis mine)
This defense strategy is focused on defending the homeland against all strategic threats. Building security globally by projecting US influence into deterring aggression. And remaining prepared to win decisively against any adversary should deterrence fail.
[a]s a consequence of large budget cuts our future force will assume additional risks.
Additional risks? You don’t say. Look, military cutbacks have been a central feature of Obama’s policies since 2009 (see graph below) down 22% since he took office.
Total Government Employment Since 20091
While I am not qualified to comment on the efficacy of these cuts, hell I don't know if the optimal number of troops is 1.2 million or 1.6 million, however, I would ask one question. What is the White Houses military strategy with this reduced armed force? Cutting personnel is fine and dandy as long as it is in support of a strategy. From everything I’ve read, I cannot find a coherent strategy put forth by the White House as to how these cuts will make us safer.
Tell you what, just for giggles let’s take a quick tour around the world to a couple of my favorite hell holes/pre-war places:
Ukraine - About to explode into a bloody civil war with Russia a real threat to intervene
Syria - A bloody mess with no good guys to support
Gaza - perpetual state of stupidity constantly lobbing rockets over the wall into Israel
Venezuela - About to explode into a bloody civil war that could spill over into Columbia
Iraq - overrun with al-Qaeda - and has the added bonus of the Kurds looking to self govern
Iran - close to a nuclear bomb and super-duper-supporter of terrorist around the globe
Afghanistan - a bloody mess and host to terrorist
Pakistan - a bloody mess and a host to terrorists and hates India
India/China - Disputed land on their shared border
China/Japan - Threatening to go to war over a bunch of useless rocks in the China Sea
North Korea - run by a crazy man-child with his finger on the red button
Iberian Peninsula - Catalonia looking to secede from Spain.
Italy - Northern League looking to secede from the South
And this is just a partial list. Hell even Scotland is looking to secede from the United Kingdom. So with all this s&!t-storm going on around the world, Obama decides this would be a good time to REDUCE the military.
I know, I know everybody on the left is about to start bitching about America being the global policeman, and to some extent I sympathize. But the alternative would be far, far worse. Think for a moment. If the US pulls back and takes a more isolationist view of the world (we’ve done this twice in the past and two world wars followed - Not saying, just saying). So the US decides to mind our own P’s and Q’s and leave the rest of the world to its own devices. Next thing you know, without the US Navy keeping a balance of power in the Pacific, an embolden China starts to flex its growing muscle and takes over the Pacific realm including our old friends Japan. And what do you think will happen in Europe? With us gone and no one to stop him, Putin will be able to start rebuilding the old empire country by country starting with the Ukraine. How? Energy. Russia has the ability to supply all of Europe with all the energy they need. If someone ticks him off, he’ll just turn the spigot off until the offending country gets back in line. Even in South America, without American support, pro US countries like Colombia will fall victim to either drug lords taking over or communism will. And what about the Middle East? Who's going to be there for Israel when, not if, Iran starts dropping bombs?.
So with all that on the line, why, oh why would Obama want to cut military spending? Well according to former Defense Secretary Robert Gates’ recent book Duty, since entering office, the president has worked to cut U.S. defenses in order to use the funds for domestic programs. Check out this pie chart of the president’s original 2014 proposed budget
Notice anything strange? Military spending accounts for only 17% of the entire federal budget. So in a sane world, if one wanted to find somewhere to reduce spending, the obvious answer is entitlements. But recently, Obama tried to reduce the annual growth of social security by switching to the switch to so-called "chained CPI" which would result in smaller benefit increases than under the current consumer price index model. So if we can’t even slow the growth of entitlements, what chance do we have of actually cutting them?
· In 1993, Social Security surpassed national defense as the largest federal spending program and has held the top spot since then.
· By 2015, federal spending on health care programs, including Medicare, Medicaid, and Obamacare, will surpass Social Security to become the largest budget category, and the gap will only grow larger over time.
· Federal spending on health care programs will more than double over the next decade, growing from $771 billion in 2013 to $1.590 trillion in 2023.
· Spending on Social Security, the largest entitlement today, will surge by 75 percent, from $809 billion in 2013 to $1.414 trillion in 2023.
· Medicare is the largest health care program and its spending will surge by 82 percent, from $586 billion in 2013 to $1.064 trillion in 2023.
· Medicaid is the fastest growing entitlement program and will more than double over the decade as Obamacare’s Medicaid expansion kicks in.
· Social Security and Medicare are the two largest entitlement programs, soaking up more than one-third of the federal budget. Both programs are unaffordable and growing rapidly.
· Social Security’s ($12.3 trillion) and Medicare’s ($35.2 trillion) unfunded obligations total a staggering $47.5 trillion, nearly four times today’s publicly held debt.
Good times ahead, eh! In my reading of the US Constitution, it clearly charges the federal government with the job of protecting the citizens from enemies both foreign and domestic. Further, the constitution clearly gives the authority of the federal government to create and maintain armed forces. However, nowhere in the document does it explicitly give the feds the authority to transfer wealth via all the current entitlement programs especially at the expense of the military. Yet in this upside down country we live in today, entitlements now are the priority while our national defense can wait.
As the world get more and more dangerous it will look to the US for guidance, but it appears that the Obama administration no longer sees the US as a world leader, just a player that, if we are not careful, might just get played.
1 Data comes from agency 113 monthly submissions and covers total end-of-year civilian employment of full-time permanent, temporary, part-time, and intermittent employees. Executive branch includes the Postal Service, and, beginning in 1970, includes various disadvantaged youth and worker-trainee programs. Uniformed Military Personnel data comes from the Department of Defense.