Defense: A Disarmingly Low Priority

May 11, 2009

Defense: A Disarmingly Low Priority

By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY | Posted Thursday, February 26, 2009 4:20 PM PT

Defense Spending: In a speech that didn’t mention Afghanistan, President Obama said “we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use.” His 2010 budget shows he is serious about disarming America.


Perhaps the reason we don’t need to use some weapon systems is because we have them. President Reagan won the Cold War in part because we had Pershing missiles to deploy in Europe and were serious about defending America against missile attack with the Strategic Defense Initiative. Deterrence works.

As President Kennedy said when he called on us to “bear any burden” and “pay any price” in the defense of liberty, “only when our arms are sufficient beyond doubt can we be certain beyond doubt they will never be employed.”

Of course, that was back in the days when we were also told not to ask what our country can do for us. Now we are told we can’t do anything without the government, including making high-speed trains between Disneyland and Las Vegas run on time.

The outline of the 2010 defense budget released Thursday proposes a 4% increase in nonwar spending. But it gives few specifics on procurement except to say new weapon systems are “expensive and technically difficult” and carry a “high risk of performance failure.”

The fiscal 2010 spending plan appears to fulfill a campaign promise that Obama made to the far left group Caucus for Priorities, which called for a further deterioration in the military.

“I will cut investments in unproven missile defense systems,” he proclaimed then. “I will not weaponize space. I will slow our development of future combat systems.”

If only our enemies would do the same.


Defense is not high on the list in the new domestic order. In his address to Congress Tuesday night, the president neglected to mention the 17,000 additional troops being sent to Afghanistan. The only mention of national defense, in fact, was a pledge to “reform our defense budget so that we’re not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use.”

We may get the chance.

An increasingly belligerent Russia and an ambitious China have been expanding their forces. A Russian-built reactor in Iran has just gone live as the mullahs show their global reach with a satellite launch. North Korea is preparing a launch of its Taepodong 2 intercontinental ballistic missile.

This is not the time to gut missile defense designed to deal with these missile threats or to cancel advanced weapon systems like the stealth F-22 Raptor while the wings almost fall off our aging fleet of F-15s. Yet that is what the Obama administration clearly intends.

The president will have many willing helpers in Congress. In a Tuesday interview, Rep. Barney Frank, D-Mass., chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, said, “It’s absurd to talk about reducing the deficit while giving a pass to the military budget.”

Frank’s office released a document calling for a $160 billion cut in military spending and a 75% reduction in “nuclear forces” as well as deep funding cuts for weapon systems such as the Raptor and the V-22 Osprey, a tilt-rotor aircraft designed to ferry troops into battle.

In an article in the March 2 issue of the Nation, Frank said that “if we do not make reductions approximating 25% of the military budget starting fairly soon, it will be impossible to fund an adequate level of domestic activity even with a repeal of Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.”

Military spending, as we have pointed out, creates jobs while serving a real purpose. We live in an increasingly dangerous and unstable world in which we have real enemies who would do us harm. Investing in military infrastructure is a win-win proposition.

There’s a reason defense is mentioned in the Constitution and health care is not. The greatest social service a government can provide for its people is to keep them alive and free.


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