The Right Opinion

Paying the Price of Preparation

By Edwin J. Feulner · Dec. 4, 2012

At the memorial to the USS Arizona, you can watch droplets of oil from the sunken ship drift to the surface. Some say the ship is weeping for the 1,177 service members killed at Pearl Harbor 71 years ago this week. It's a chilling reminder of the heavy price our country paid when it was caught unprepared.

Today's geopolitical risks are far different, of course.

Since 1945, the United States effectively has led the world, and from that position of strength we've redirected geopolitics. For most countries, trade is now seen as a better way to advance a nation's interests than fighting. Most of the planet has enjoyed booming growth and soaring living standards as the American-style exchange of goods and services has helped make the free world rich.

Meanwhile, the Soviet Union tried to live outside this system and ended up collapsing. Margaret Thatcher explained that we won the Cold War “without firing a shot.” That happened because our unmatched military helped spread our ideals of free trade and opportunity around the globe, and the Russians couldn't afford to keep up.

More recently, China decided it was better to be a competitor than an enemy. Occasional trade “wars” might erupt over particular goods, but our overarching military strength kept other countries from wanting to challenge us head to head.

Our commitment to military dominance, however, may be starting to wane.

Our Army, for example, is getting smaller. We dropped to 551,000 active-duty soldiers this year, and deeper cuts are coming next year. At least another 80,000 will be departing, even though as many as 20,000 of that number are eager to continue serving.

If the “fiscal cliff” talks that are under way in Washington fail, we could see even deeper cuts in force readiness. Under “sequestration,” the military would be required to make 12 percent to 14 percent across-the-board cuts. Army Chief of Staff Gen. Raymond T. Odierno warns that could cost another 100,000 soldiers their jobs and leave the United States with its smallest military force since 1941 – the year the Arizona was attacked.

The Navy also is being slashed.

With the USS Enterprise decommissioned, there are just 10 carriers in our fleet. That's one fewer than Congress has demanded our fleet contain, and it's further reduced by the fact that at any time, one of our carriers is always undergoing a “refueling and complex overhaul,” which effectively leaves the Navy with nine available carriers.

Under the waves, we're also running short of ballistic-missile submarines. “These boats provide key deterrence and present the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad,” notes the Heritage Foundation's Brian Slattery. “The replacement for the aging Ohio Class ballistic subs is under development, yet under President Obama's budget – even before factoring in sequestration – the program is delayed by two years. This will cause a critical capability gap in the fleet for 14 years.”

The president famously raised this very issue during a pre-election debate. Warned that we have the fewest ships since 1917, Mr. Obama retorted: “We also have fewer horses and bayonets because the nature of our military's changed.” Quality, he insisted, was what mattered. “The question is not a game of Battleship, where we're counting ships. It's what are our capabilities?”

That, of course, should be exactly the question. Defense spending should be based on a simple question: What does our military need? Yet, as Heritage's Baker Spring wrote earlier this year, in its proposed budget, “the administration has proposed defense funding levels that are inadequate to maintaining the U.S. military capabilities described in the defense strategic review.”

That's worth keeping in mind on Dec. 7, Pearl Harbor Remembrance Day. There's still time to prepare, but if we want the military we need to protect the future, we must be willing to pay the bill for it.

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22 Comments

Pepin the Short in G-Vegas said:

The Enterprise is only being decommissioned because it is slated to be replaced by the USS Gerald R. Ford.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:24 AM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Which is 4 years away from being commissioned. Still leaves us short on carriers.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM

Mike McGinn in People's Republic of Maryland replied:

...assuming it stays on schedule in light of looming budget cuts.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:30 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

Mike, Good point! He might even mothball some of the others too.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:58 PM

wjm in Colorado said:

I am hoping Obamao weakens the military to the point the jihadis nuke Washington DC, and take out the whole swamp. I just hope Obmao isn't vacationing, or on a golf course when it happens........

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:02 AM

Gregory in Yakima Wa. said:

The Heritage Foundation is a highly partisan organization which begins with a premise based on old assumptions. What do the Joint Chiefs say? They're not worried and they're not angling for increased readership either.

The United States spends 700 billion (actually more) annually. That is more than the next ten defense budgets combined. Of those ten all but Russia and China are close allies. Combined with our allies defense budgets we and our friends spend trillions. As Mr. Feulner correctly points out: Russia and China have found trade a better bargain than war.

These facts are of no significance to the Heritage Foundation and the hair on fire kids. Their funding comes from the never enough war or killing crowd. It's funny...When the Soviet Union went into "the dust bin of history" so too did the hawks reason for existing.

The "weapons of mass destruction" in Iraq was a sad, pathetic and criminal attempt to justify huge defense spending. Put "creating new paradigms" into the dust bin too. We don't need that bull shit.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:23 AM

wjm in Colorado replied:

What is sad and pathetic is you Gregory. What a waste of skin.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:10 AM

Mike McGinn in People's Republic of Maryland replied:

The Joint Chiefs of Staff are also a "highly partisan organization". They, and every other General/Flag officer in the military is appointed by Congress. In other words, they are ultimately "political lackeys". Of course they are not worried...because neither are their "masters". Perhaps one of these days we’ll have some general officers with spines, but I’m not holding my breath.

As for spending more on defense than the next ten nations, please read your history book (and not the one issued in our public schools these days). You'll find that since the end of WWII, the United States has become the defacto “policeman” for the free world. Most of those other ten nations have been able to spend next to nothing on defense because we have covered their butts for them. I’d love to be able to send them a bill.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:41 PM

Gregory in Yakima Wa. said:

According to information obtained by the AGWVA, there is irrefutable evidence to show that the Unites States government provided and encouraged Iraq's use of chemical weapons. The United States Department of Commerce and The American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) provided at least 80 shipments of biological agents that were not attenuated (or weakened) and were capable of reproduction. These shipments included such virulent agents as Anthrax, West Nile Virus and Clostridium botulinum (S.R.103-900, May 25, 1994, pg. 264).

The AGWVA also found it very disturbing to learn that on December 19, 1983, the Middle Eastern envoy who carried a handwritten note from President Reagan to Saddam Hussein, to "resume our diplomatic relations with Iraq" was none other than our present Secretary of Defense, Donald Rumsfeld. (while he was President of Searle Pharmaceutical at the time)

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:28 AM

pete in CA replied:

Greg, you're from WA. That says it all when it comes to how you form your opinions, and apparently you have nothing else to do with your life. Here's one for you to research: Recent reports show those with the most education have the least interaction with others outside their education group, and the lowest understanding of life in general and how the majority live and see the world.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:19 PM

Gregory in Yakima Wa. said:

"According to "U.S. Diplomatic and Commercial Relationships with Iraq", 1980-August 2, 2000, www.cam.ac.uk/societies/casi/info/usdocs/usiraq80s90s.html), Nathaniel Hurd states:

"Iraq reportedly began using chemical weapons (CW) against Iranian troops in 1982, and significantly increased CW use in 1983 Shortly after removing Iraq from the terrorism sponsorship list, the Reagan administration approved the sale of 60 Hughes helicopters. Analysts recognized that "civilian" helicopters can be weaponized in a matter of hours and selling a civilian kit can be a way of giving military aid under the guise of civilian assistance."

Mark Phythian, in his book Arming Iraq: How the U.S. and Britain Secretly Built Saddam's War Machine" (Northeastern University Press, 1997) stated:

" the Secretaries of Commerce and State (George Baldridge and George Shultz) lobbied the NSC (National Security Council) advisor into agreeing to the sale to Iraq of 10 Bell helicopters, officially for crop spraying. It is believed that US-supplied choppers were used in the 1988 chemical attack on the Kurdish village Halabja, which killed 5000 people."

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:29 AM

Gregory in Yakima Wa. said:

In his own book Turmoil and Triumph: My Years as Secretary of State, George Shultz refers to a declassified CIA report which notes Iraq's use of mustard gas in August 1983, giving further credence to the suggestion that the State Department and/or the National Security Council (NSC) was well aware of Iraq's use of chemical weapons at this time. If the use of chemical weapons was known in August of 1983, and Donald Rumsfeld went to Iraq in December of 1983, he was on notice that this country was using and was going to continue to use weapons of mass destruction. Why, then, did the United States move to de-list Iraq from those considered to be terrorist nations?

On March 23, 1984, Iran accused Iraq of poisoning 600 of its soldiers with mustard gas and Tabun nerve gas. Donald Rumsfeld returned to Baghdad on March 24, 1984. On that same day, the UPI wire service reported that a team of UN experts had concluded that:

"Mustard gas laced with a nerve agent has been used on Iranian soldiers. Meanwhile, Donald Rumsfeld held talks with foreign minister Tariq Aziz."

Probably the most critical piece of information is that according to Washington Post journalist Bob Woodward, in a December 15, 1986 article, the CIA began to secretly supply Iraq with intelligence in 1984 that was used to "calibrate" mustard gas attacks on Iranian troops.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 11:31 AM

Mike McGinn in People's Republic of Maryland replied:

Greg,

Ya gotta wake up and smell the "Starbucks" coffee that comes from your part of the world. All your references and quotes don't amount to a hill of coffee beans. You must not study politics very much.

You know the old adage...the enemy of my enemy is my friend. Well...when Iraq was fighting Iran (who had recently imprisoned a bunch of our citizens and thus were not on our Christmas card list any longer), Saddam was our "buddy". Roll forward a few years (which is like a few eons for a politician) and suddenly they are our enemy.

Politicians change their tune faster than I change my underwear so I'm not surprised that in 1983 the WMD-toting Iraqis were "de-listed" a terrorist nation, yet 20 years later they are the center of the axis-of-evil. I think if you took a hard look at the Iraqis, they were pretty much the same in 1983 and 2003.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 12:50 PM

wjm in Colorado replied:

First you say the weapons of mass destruction were a lie, and now you cite evidence they were there and used. Get a clue you moron, the more you post Gregory, the less you are percieved as anything other than a completely delusional fool..I am convinced of your insanity, please jump from a tall building at your earliest convienience traitor.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:01 PM

Wayne in Hinesville, GA replied:

wjm, Remember the insane are convinced they are sane and everybody else is insane. Greg fits that analysis to a tee.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:01 PM

Greg in TX; a REAL state in Uvalde, TX replied:

Hey WA guy!
You can't have it both ways!
You're claiming BOTH; that Saddam DIDN'T have WDM, and we were lying; and that Saddam DID have WMD, and we were responsible. Settle on one method of blaming US, already!!! You're making me dizzy!
Socialist airheads can't even see their own inconsistencies!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 2:33 PM

Old Desert Rat in Las Vegas, NV said:

people who don't know history are doomed to repeat it

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 1:20 PM

rab in jo,mo said:

So basically, Odumbo's following the lead of his "fellow travelers" Woodrow Wilson and FDR in gutting our military. The US was woefully unprepared both in 1917 and in 1941 when war was raging across the ocean. So here we go again...

Military spending is minor compared to the "entitlements". Is there waste in the military budget? Certainly. Can this waste be reduced? Probably. But military spending is not what's bleeding us dry!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 3:26 PM

Tod the tool guy in brooklyn ny said:

NASA downsized, Navy downsized, Private sector downsized, America deeply divided and demoralized---All going perfect Saul Alinsky & Frank Marshall Davis(No relation to me, thank God!)FOWARD BLIND SHEEP!!!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 4:48 PM

Pushpa in New Jersey said:

I wonder how all the unemployed military people will survive? Will they get unemployment, or will they get any other benifits? Or will they have to go on welfare, food stamps or what? Or will some of them end up living on the streets like the one we saw recently on TV? And what about all the jobs that will be lost in private sector such as the defense related businesses? I can see the unemployment rising to more than 10% next year. No one is talking about the increase in unemployment. Oh well, Obama won so he does not care about unemployment rate. He wants all Americans to live in poverty like he did as a child in Indonesia and Kenya. He wants this country to go down the drain.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 9:06 PM

Gregory in Yakima Wa. said:

Having it both ways? Ronald Reagan provided missiles to Iran considering it a "neat idea". The weapons of mass destruction that the first Bush Adm. provided were used against the Iranians. The second Bush Adm. claimed Iraq still had weapons of mass destruction but they knew better than anyone it wasn't so. That's why the evidence kept changing: uranium cake from Niger was a clumsily forged document; aluminum tubes claimed as use in nuclear subterfuges was not capable of such use; trucks outfitted to manufacture chemical weapons were not. The lies went on and on.

It's the lies of the Bush Adm. that are responsible for tens of thousands dead...that and the irresponsible members of congress who didn't have the courage to speak truth to power. Barack Obama had the courage though. That's a big part of why he was nominated over Hillary and defeated McCain.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 at 10:30 PM

rab in jo,mo replied:

WTF are you talking about? Saddam used chemical weapons repeatedly against his own people (well, Kurds anyway). Chemical weapons are considered weapons of mass destruction, the same as nukes.

As to nukes, if there was no uranium cake in Iraq as you assert, why were 7tons of it transferred from Iraq to Canada after Saddam's ouster?
Frankly, if Saddam had learned to play nice with others (like Khaddafi did), he probably would have been left alone, but he didn't and continued flaunting UN resolutions until he was deposed.

Your use of the word courage in the same sentence as Obama's name is laughable. Talk about a non sequitur! The only courage he has displayed is the ability to stand before the American people and lie through his teeth.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 at 8:54 AM