Rebuttal of William Hartung’s blatant lies about the threat environment
The leftist “BreakingDefense” website has recently (on Dec. 12th) published yet another utterly ridiculous leftist screed, this time by ignorant anti-defense hack William Hartung from the far-left “New America Foundation”, an organization that seeks to turn America into a socialist, militarily weak country. In that garbage screed, Hartung falsely claims that:
1) The world is much safer now than during the Cold War and there is no significant threat to America’s or her allies’ security;
2) US military superiority is uncontested and there’s no one able to contest it;
3) The US spends too much on defense and should cut it by $100 bn per year, below Cold War average levels;
4) The only threats to US security on the horizon are the politically-correct threats of man-made climate change, disease, hunger, and nuclear-armed terrorists, and potential “miscalculations” in the current territorial disputes in East Asia. Hartung falsely claims none of America’s current or future security challenges can be solved through the “traditional means of military power”;
5) The Ryan-Murray budget deal would give an additional $20 bn to the DOD every year and would effectively increase defense spending.
All of Hartung’s claims are patently false. All of them.
1) Despite his pious denials, the world is far, far more dangerous than at any point during the Cold War except the Cuban Missile Crisis over 50 years ago. It is, in fact, more dangerous than at any point since WW2, again excluding only the CMC. During the CW, the US had to deter only one hostile superpower. Today, it has to deter and keep in check TWO hostile superpowers with large nuclear arsenals – Russia and China – as well as a nuclear-armed and belligerent North Korea, soon to be joined by a nuclear-armed Iran. It also has to fight terrorist organizations, such as AQ and Hezbollah, around the world. To cut US defense spending even further (after all the previous, pre-sequestration rounds of defense cuts implemented by the Obama admin) would be suicidal. No, the US is not spending too much on defense; if anything, it is spending too little. The world is decidedly NOT safer now than during the Cold War; for all of the above reasons, it is far MORE dangerous.
2) US military superiority is mostly a thing of the past already. Russia and China both wield large, modern, and growing nuclear arsenals as well as large, modern conventional militaries. In most categories of weapons, they’ve already matched or bested the US and are now working on closing the remaining few gaps. Their Flanker fighters are superior to everything the US flies except the F-22 and upgraded F-15C/Ds. Their PAKFA, J-20, and J-31 stealth fighters will best everything on the planet except the F-22 (whose capability they will nonetheless approach). Their Sovremenny and Type 052 DDGs are better than the USN’s DDGs, their submarines are quieter than the USN’s (who also sucks at ASW), and the PLAN already has far more attack subs than the USN does. In a few years, the PLAN will have more submarines, and more ships, in total than the USN. They both also have IRBMs, a class of weapons the US does not have, and China also has a huge arsenal of GLCMs. It is now also developing a stealthy, intercontinental bomber capable of reaching the CONUS.
But most troublingly, these countries (and on a lesser scale, rogue states like the DPRK and Iran) have fielded large, multi-layered networks of anti-access/area-denial weapons and capabilities that can shutter the US military out of entire war theaters completely, by destroying US land bases, USN surface ships, US satellites, and crippling US cyber networks as well as denying access to their airspace to all but the most stealthy a/c (F-22s and B-2s, plus the future LRSB/NGB). Their air defense systems can shoot any nonstealthy aircraft from hundreds of kilometers away. This means the US will have to acquire a wholly new series of long-range strike platforms that can access even the most heavily-defended countries, hit their assets, and operate at great distances, as well as disperse, harden, and fortify its current land bases and upgrade its air and missile defenses. This cannot be done on the cheap – it will require significant and sustained investments.
So Hartung’s claim that there’s no threat to US military supremacy is also a blatant lie – like the rest of his screed.
3) How much money the US has spent on defense in decades past is completely irrelevant to how much money should it be spending on defense right now. The only way to determine the right amount is to ask: “What exact capabilities (and thus weapons) do we need, at what level of sophistication, and at what quantity, and how much will it cost to recruit, house, feed, equip, train, maintain, care for, and compensate such a military?” Only this way can the right amount of defense spending be determined.
Raw figures and exclamations, like “oh my gosh, we’re spending $480 bn to $500 bn per year on defense, can’t we provide for our security with that amount?” and “oh my gosh, we’re spending more than during the Cold War on defense!” are utterly irrelevant and childish. Not to mention that the dollar is worth far, far less today than during the Cold War, and that as a share of the federal budget and of GDP, the US now spends LESS on defense than at any point since FY1940.
Hartung, whose goal is to totally gut America’s defense, OTOH, wants to arbitrarily cut US defense spending deeply so that it will be woefully inadequate.
4) Despite Hartung’s blatant lies that the world’s current security threats cannot be solved by military means, nothing could be further from the truth. Today, the biggest threats to America’s and its allies’ security are: an ascendant and aggressive China, a resurgent and aggressive Russia, a nuclear-armed NK preying on its southern neighbor and the US itself, an Iran speedily developing nuclear weapons and BMs, and terrorist groups of global reach like Hezbollah and AQ. These threats cannot be defeated by ANYTHING other than military means – because the ONLY thing these potential aggressors understand and respect is military strength. It’s the only thing that can deter and if necessary (Hezbollah, AQ) defeat them.
5) Contrary to Hartung’s blatant lies, the Ryan-Murray budget deal would not add a penny to the defense budget. It would only slightly reduce the amount of sequestration-required budget cuts the DOD would have to make in FY2014 and FY2015: by roughly $20 bn this FY and $9 bn the next, out of over $50 bn in cuts mandated by the sequester for every FY going forward thru FY2022. After FY2015, the sequester would return in full force.
Even before sequestration, the DOD had already cut almost a TRILLION dollars out of its budget: in over $330 bn in cuts resulting from the killing of over 50 crucial weapon programs by Sec. Gates, $178 bn in his later “efficiencies”, and $487 bn under the first tranche of BCA-mandated (pre-sequester) budget cuts. Sequestration is only the newest series of defense budget cuts being implemented by the Obama administration, which targeted defense for deep cuts as soon as it took office. Any claim that Ryan and Murray want to add any amount of money to the defense budget is a flat-out lie.
6) The Stimson Center’s proposals are useless, because they would “achieve” $25 bn in “savings” only by deeply cutting the military’s MUSCLE – America’s military CAPABILITIES, not the fat. Specifically, the Army would see even deeper cuts than those proposed by Obama, and the Navy’s planned SSBN replacement fleet would get cut from the barely-adequate planned number of 12 to just 10 boats. This is the defense policy of a madhouse.
7) Hartung shows his true colors when he calls on Congress not to spare the DOD at all from the sequester… but does not object to Congress reducing the scheduled sequester cuts to nondefense (domestic) discretionary programs, the vast majority of which are unconstitutional. This proves, once again, that Hartung’s goal is NOT to save taxpayers money, but to gut America’s defense.
And for that, he should be damnated forever as the traitor he is.
Shame on Hartung for lying so blatantly, but above all, shame on BD and its editors, Colin Clark and Sydney Freedberg, for publishing his litany of blatant lies and thus giving him yet another avenue to lie to the public, as if he didn’t have enough. Shame on you, Messrs. Clark and Freedberg!