As bad as it is for President Obama’s supporters to defend his budget on economic terms, the national security cuts are even less justified.
Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon reports on the $5.2 billion cut in defense spending (“the first under the 2011 Budget Control Act that requires a cut of $487 billion over 10 years”):
Critics said the cuts are being made at a time when the military needs to be rebuilt after a decade of conflict and as weapons systems developed since the last buildup in the 1980s are becoming obsolete and in need of modernization.
The cuts also come as the militaries of both China and Russia are being modernized with new conventional and nuclear forces.
Observers say the administration appears to be waiting to make larger defense cuts next year, after what the president hopes will be his reelection in November.
“Today’s budget doesn’t change the trajectory for $1.5 trillion in cuts under the Obama Administration,” said former United Nations Ambassador John Bolton. “Like the rest of the budget, it is designed with the November election in mind — the mask will come off within nanoseconds of an Obama victory.”
On Capitol Hill, the budget met with opposition from Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.), powerful chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
“The President’s budget is a clear articulation of Mr. Obama’s priorities; reduce resources for our struggling armed forces, and redirect them to exploding domestic bureaucracies,” said McKeon. “This budget reflects a true reduction, in real terms, of military spending while we have troops in combat. It irresponsibly ignores the looming threat of sequestration, while failing to adequately address threats posed by our adversaries around the world.”
Once again we see the clash between Obama’s rhetoric and his actions. On one hand, as McKeon points out, the administration touts its renewed focus on China. However, the military hardware that is necessary for implementing that policy is being cut in a budget that “calls for retiring nine ships and cuts 16 other ships from plans for new warship construction.”
Likewise, the administration has threatened a cut off of aid to Egypt if the junta goes ahead with prosecution of NGO’s personnel including some Americans. But — you guessed it — the administration’s budget calls for $1.3 billion in military assistance to Egypt. Might the administration have put that on hold as an incentive for the Egyptians to dismiss the changes? Apparently, not.
Then there is the administration’s decision on missile defense funding for Israel. The Obama team, in defending the onslaught of criticism of its Israel policy, has repeatedly pointed to its military aid and technical support for the Jewish state. But now, on the eve of what may be a military conflagration in the region, “is a request to reduce the amount of money Israel receives for its critical missile defense systems by $6.3 million relative to the 2012 budget proposal. Among these defense systems are Arrow and David’s Sling, both of which are jointly operated with the U.S.”
The administration, as one foreign policy guru might put it, is choosing decline as its national security path. So, while we might find it comical and horrifying, we shouldn’t be so surprised by the secretary of state’s comments that we can’t put peacekeepers into Syria without the permission of the butcher who is slaughtering thousands of his own citizens. (“Certainly, the peacekeeping request is one that will take agreement and consensus. So we don’t know that it is going to be possible to persuade Syria. They’ve already, as of today, rejected that.”). The gap between Obama’s rhetoric, on one hand, and his policies and our military capability, on the other, are growing day by day.