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What Must We Defend?

Comment

"We need to be honest with the president, with the Congress, with the American people" about the consequences of cutting the defense budget, said Secretary of Defense Robert Gates in his valedictory policy address to the American Enterprise Institute.

"(A) smaller military, no matter how superb, will be able to go fewer places and do fewer things."

Gates seeks to ignite a debate the country seems reluctant to have. With a federal budget running out of balance by 10 percent of gross domestic product, what are we Americans willing to sacrifice? What are we willing to forego? What are we willing to cut?

The biggest budget items are Social Security, Medicare and defense. To Democrats, the first two are untouchables. To most Republicans, defense is off the table. Indeed, the likelihood is that any budget deal to which both parties agree will contain escape clauses to enable Congress to avoid the painful decisions and kick the can up the road.

Consider the situation the U.S. military faces.

The useful life of the planes, ships, missiles, guns and armor that date to the Ronald Reagan buildup of the 1980s is coming to an end, and the cost of replacement weapons is far greater. A fleet of 2,440 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, for example, will cost over $1 trillion.

Military health care costs have risen 150 percent in 10 years to $50 billion a year. The pay and benefits of today's forces, which are one-tenth the size of those we deployed in World War II, have seen comparable increases. These costs are eating deeply into the dollars for new weapons systems.

And while we no longer face a Soviet Union with nuclear and conventional forces equal to our own, U.S. commitments have not been reduced but augmented since the end of the Cold War. Six Warsaw Pact nations were brought into NATO, along with three republics of the old Soviet Union.

Meanwhile, the disarmament of Europe continues in the wake of the debt crisis. Of special concern are cuts by the Tory government of Great Britain, our most reliable ally for 70 years.

While the U.S. Army and Marine Corps have been shuttled in and out of Iraq and Afghanistan, China has fought no wars — but grown its defense budget by double-digits annually for two decades.

She now possesses submarines, missiles and aircraft sufficient to challenge the United States in the Western Pacific and is clearly intent on forcing a U.S.

strategic retreat from the region.

"The tough choices ahead," said Gates, are "about the kind of role the American people — accustomed to unquestioned military dominance for the past two decades — want their country to play in the world."

We face the necessity of choice, and perhaps the place to begin is for Americans to ask two questions.

First, what is so vital to our security we must defend it at the risk of war? Second, what Cold War commitments can we relinquish now that the Soviet Empire no longer exists and Russia no longer represents a global threat?

Once the Afghan War is over, certainly, a U.S. withdrawal from South and Central Asia would seem in order, as this is about as far from the United States as one can get.

The same would hold true of Korea. From 1950 to 1953, the United States, with a 330,000-man army, fought both North Korea and China. At issue was not only the fate of the peninsula, but the orientation of Japan in the Cold War.

Today, Seoul has twice the people and 40 times the economy of the North. Pyongyang has no Stalinist Russia or Maoist China backing it up in a war with the South. Can we not now withdraw our remaining 28,000 troops and restrict our commitment in any new war to air and naval support?

China today not only claims Taiwan, but the Senkaku Islands that Japan claims, and all of the islands in the South China Sea, which are also claimed by Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia and the Philippines.

Is it our obligation to validate all of these claims against China? What is our vital interest in any of these disputes when every president since Richard Nixon has agreed that Taiwan is part of China? Cannot these countries buy from us the weapons to defend themselves?

Europe is as prosperous and more populous than the United States. And the Russian army is no longer in Germany, but 1,000 miles to the east, behind the Baltic republics, Belarus and Ukraine.

What is the necessity now for a U.S. troop presence in Europe?

Retrenchment is rarely attractive. But what is apparent today to almost all is that this country is now and has been for at least a decade living far beyond her means.

We borrow hundreds of billions annually from allies, to defend those allies. We borrow hundreds of billions annually from our children's future to maintain our present lifestyle. Our leaders have yet to show the toughness and maturity the new times demand.

To find out more about Patrick Buchanan, and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate web page at www.creators.com.

COPYRIGHT 2011 CREATORS.COM



Comments

9 Comments | Post Comment
"(A) smaller military, no matter how superb, will be able to go fewer places and do fewer things."

Good! I thought it was the Department of DEFENSE, not OFFENSE.

Gates has been fighting wars for too long. He's forgotten about peace. When all you have is a hammer everything looks like a nail.

When was the last time China attacked anyone? The growth of their military is in response to the US presence and aggression abroad. When are we going to realize the we are only 300 million people in a world of 6 billion, most of whom don't make war on other nations.
Comment: #1
Posted by: Elwood Anderson
Mon May 30, 2011 10:32 AM
“Gates seeks to ignite a debate the country seems reluctant to have. With a federal budget running out of balance by 10 percent of gross domestic product, what are we Americans willing to sacrifice? What are we willing to forego? What are we willing to cut?”
Patrick J. Buchanan

We could start by sacrificing the concept of foreign aid, which is one of the largest rip-offs of the American taxpayer by the government.

Nowhere in our Constitution does it authorize the government to force the American taxpayer to play Santa Claus to the world.

We could slash spending on the United Nations and consider expelling that world body(phony storefront of the international bankers) from our shores.

Americans are clearly willing to sacrifice the so-called “Federal Reserve,” to which they remain in bondage to the international bankers. These banking swindlers charge 600 Billion dollars in yearly usury payments to the American people, for their legalized counterfeiting operation which is destroying this country and subverting its political process.

Americans are willing to forego corporate welfare, to bail out robber barons who deliberately engineer financial meltdown, in order to exact danegeld from the people, against their will.

Americans are also willing to sacrifice free trade and disastrous trade treaties like NAFTA, CAFTA and GATT, which contribute to the eclipse of our nation as an industrial giant.

Americans are willing to forego financing the Mexican Lebensborn in this country, by expelling the 40 million “guest workers”—and their “anchor babies”-- which constitute the Mexican occupation army on American soil.

Mexican hatchlings could be returned to the Mexican nest, for incubation, as Mexico has pulled a massive switcheroo, by inserting her eggs in our national nest, as a common parasitic organism of La Reconquista.

Americans would prefer to see the closure of the military bases abroad and the money saved thereby, assigned to the expansion of The United States Navy, through a massive naval buildup.

The answers lie with banking reform and true “comprehensive immigration reform,” which holds the hostile foreign power of Mexico accountable for the invasion of the United States of America.

America must garner the spoils of war and punish her enemies—not provide welfare programs and “nation-building” for countries which harbor terrorists. Charity begins at home, with pot hole repair and public shower facilities for the homeless stinkers who wander our streets.

It is time to end all foreign aid and abandon all notions that the American taxpayer is responsible for promoting the general welfare of the world.

Tariffs must be restored to free America from bondage to the international bankers and the Red Chinese asymmetrical warfare, prosecuted against our nation through a massive trade imbalance.

It is time to hold Saudi Arabia hostage, by sending that nation the bill for the destruction of The World Trade Center and the resulting fallout to our economy and national psyche. We should also be squeezing the Boa Constrictor OPEC, rather than allowing that cartel to squeeze this nation to death.

America should be utilizing its natural gas and drilling for domestic oil supplies.

It is time to roll up the welcome mat for Marxist concepts like “multiculturalism” and “diversity,” when all nations in both hemispheres of the planet have realized that everything is predicated on tribal affiliation.

Americans are willing to cut out the fat of big government and make our ostensible “public servants” live under the same programs and financial constraint their fellow Americans must deal with—mainly balancing a check book and not kiting hot checks of worthless monopoly money.

These are the mandates of the Second American Revolution.
Comment: #2
Posted by: T.H. Asgardson
Mon May 30, 2011 4:01 PM
These are all good questions. But the question remains, even though not stylish, any more, what is the nuclear balance of power and how do we manage it? That issue continues to dominate U.S. foreign policy, as unspoken as it is. You need to address that Mr. B.
Comment: #3
Posted by: Masako
Mon May 30, 2011 6:10 PM
Time for baby boomers to step up and voluntarily choose means testing for Social Security and rationing for Medicare. The money they put into these funds was spent. It's all charity now on the backs of their children.
Comment: #4
Posted by: cathy jones
Tue May 31, 2011 7:07 AM
Re: Elwood Anderson
Blame America first, pal?
Comment: #5
Posted by: T.H. Asgardson
Tue May 31, 2011 10:28 AM
Re: Elwood Anderson Elwood, please break out a history book. China attacked Korea. they attecked Tibet and they attecked Vietnam.
Comment: #6
Posted by: Edward Hart
Wed Jun 1, 2011 4:02 PM
The U.S. has invaded and occupied Iraq and Afghanistan killing and wounding over a million,are launching attacks into Pakistan. We have launched an illegal war on Libya, warned Tanzania about building a road, have told the Sudan and Yemen we are watching the violence closely, apply sanctions and threaten Iran with war almost weekly, and on, and on. There doesn't seem to be any corner of the globe the U.S. taxpayer will not be forced to defend, attack or just meddle in.
Comment: #7
Posted by: James Reinhardt
Wed Jun 1, 2011 5:39 PM
In his discussion of RED China's build up, Buchanan, in proper CNP RED China sellout
front fashion, FAILED to make any mention of the massive handovers and open espionage
long underway within our 'defense' establishment.

Just CHECK OUT that 60 Minutes piece for starters.

The RED China Globalist TREASON op remains unmentioned, unadressed, certainly
unexposed and prosecuted.

"The Americans came just like a whore, all dressed up and knocking at our back door,"
-Chou En Lai
(Nixon/MAO Summit)
Comment: #8
Posted by: free bee
Wed Jun 1, 2011 7:52 PM
Re: cathy jones
The baby boomer Social Security payroll deductions have paid the freight for better than 3 decades. The politicians raided the trust fund to pay for the War Department and its useless wars. These same politicians now claim baby boomers are the most selfish generation in US history. They insist on solving the fiscal mess on the backs of retirees by going after "Entitlements".
President Reagan "fixed" Social Security by raising the age at which boomer recipients receive full benefits. Furthermore the US is already taxing Social Security at the same rate as earned income.
What you are suggesting is essentialy a tax increase for retirees. How about going after people with the real money.
If one needs to subsidise one's parents' retirement because the government has renaged on its promises how is that going to help one's children?
It's time the least vulnerable and most wealthy step up to the plate. Go after the Banksters on Wall Street.
Comment: #9
Posted by: Mannstein
Tue Jun 7, 2011 9:07 AM
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