Those Fox News neocons Bill Kristol and Charles Krauthammer are dying to make cuts to programs for seniors, education and other social programs. But now that President Obama has proposed cuts to military spending, they are outraged. It’s not like either of them is ever likely to be injured in any conflict but hey, why should they feel even a tad more vulnerable when we could cut back on school lunches or infrastructure or women’s reproductive rights?
The Special Report, "All-Star" panel discussed the military budget cuts on Thursday (1/5/12). Charles Krauthammer said, "This budget strategy is a roadmap of American decline. It's going to reduce our capacity, that’s exactly what the President had said he was not going to do today, which is it will adapt our strategy and our capacities to fit a budget, and remember, this is a budget without any cuts in entitlements, which is essentially what's killing us and adding to our deficits. Instead, it takes it out of defense… Sometimes a Pearl Harbor happens, or invasion of South Korea, or a 9/11 and then a ground war is thrust upon you… It's going to make it extremely hard to carry the role that we have for the last 70 years."
Juan Williams was right on during this discussion. He said, "I think the President made a point here that's very important, which is that after 9/11, there's been a tremendous increase in defense spending in this country, and that there has to be some balance, especially at a time when budgets are tight and there's a need to reinvest in the United States in terms of our domestic issues here. That’s to me totally legitimate. And it's not at all the case...that somehow our military has been decimated or that we have been weakened."
Bill Kristol disagreed. He said, "This would decimate our military, and it would weaken the United States of America. Let’s not kid ourselves… You don't cut the number of ground forces he wants to cut, cut our capacities to intervene around the world... It's unbelievably irresponsible… He wasted $800 billion on a stimulus, none of which went to the military. Doesn’t that tell you everything? … It reminds me why we need a new President in January of 2013."
Williams countered, "I just disagree strongly with Bill… Even with these cuts, the defense budget is going to continue to grow… You just want us to be totally investing in our military at a loss to every other part of the American government and to the American people at a time of economic need."
In an article on AOL called, Elites Are Wrong; Deep Cuts Won't Damage Military, Winslow Wheeler, a 31-year veteran of national security issues on Capitol Hill and currently director of the Straus Military Reform Project of the Center for Defense Information, noted the importance of focusing on efficiency and efficacy – and the lack thereof. Wheeler wrote:
The problem is not money. Under this worse case scenario, the Pentagon would be left quite flush with money – plenty of it in historical terms. But the Pentagon, as it currently exists, is incapable of surviving with less money. In fact, it is incapable of surviving with more money. Since 2000, presidents and Congresses have added $1 trillion to the base (non-war) Pentagon budget. During that period our forces decayed. Between 2001 and 2012, the Navy's combat fleet shrank from 316 ships and submarines to 287, a 10 percent decline, and the number of active and reserve fighter and bomber squadrons declined from 142 to 72-49 percent less. These are not smaller but more modern forces; major equipment age in all the services is higher today, on average, not lower. Our forces also get less training time in the US than before 9/11, and maintenance backlogs are longer, not shorter.
But neither Krauthammer nor Kristol seemed to care a fig about whether the huge sums of money the Pentagon already gets is being spent wisely.
It’s amazing how they have no Pentagon representatives or anyone from the miltary brass on their “All-Star” panel to verify or debunk their claims.