Rebuttal of Ben Freeman’s lies about the defense budget
The crappy, leftist DefenseOne website has recently (on March 14th) published a ridiculous article by anti-defense hack and former George Soros paid anti-defense propagandist Ben Freeman, now a “Policy Analyst on National Security Issues” at the “Third Way” think tank.
In his ridiculous screed, Freeman attacks what he claims are “Three Myths About the Defense Budget”, but in fact, it is his attacks on these supposed “myths” that are lies.
Firstly, Freeman denies that the defense budget proposed by Obama is small. Obama’s requested base defense budget is $495.6 bn, less than the amount enacted last year, and he’s also requesting $79.4 bn for the war in Afghanistan, a total of $570 bn.
This, alleges Freeman, is more than the military ever received under Ronald Reagan, so, Freeman quips, Obama cannot be accused of being weak on defense unless Reagan can also be.
But Freeman is lying. His claim is utterly false for two reasons. Firstly, the military actually received much more under Ronald Reagan, and secondly, yes, Obama IS very weak on defense, as evidenced by his structural and programmatic disarmament of the US military ever since taking office in 2009 (see below).
The biggest defense budget under Ronald Reagan, the one for FY1988, was $292.9 bn in FY1987 dollars (i.e. the dollars of the year in which it was enacted). Adjusted for inflation (using the DOL’s Inflation Calculator), that amounts to $605.30 bn – over $30 bn more than what Obama has requested.
And the cuts won’t stop there; in successive years, the defense budget will be cut further. OCO supplementals will eventually end after the Afghan war ends, and base defense spending will be cut significantly further due to the sequester – which, may I remind you, Obama first proposed and insisted on (and threatened to veto any attempts to undo it).
Of course, the gap between Reagan’s and Obama’s financial commitment to the military is even greater when you consider metrics far more accurate than raw dollar numbers.
During the Reagan years, the US spent 6% of its economy, and roughly 25-27% of the entire federal budget, on the military. Today, with war and DOE spending included, that is down to less than 4% of GDP – the LOWEST level since FY1948 – and less than 18% of the entire federal budget.
Freeman is also lying blatantly when he claims that the US spends 3 times more on the military than China and 5 times as much as Russia. His claim is based on OFFICIAL Chinese and Russian military spending figures. But, as anyone with even the smallest knowledge of these countries knows, Beijing and Moscow routinely and vastly understate their military budgets.
Independent analysts estimate China’s actual annual military budget to be $240 bn, double the $119 bn figure Beijing admits to and just two times less than the US defense budget. Russia’s military budget is also far larger than the official $90 bn figure; for example, many Russian ministries buy military-destined goods out of their own budgets and then give them as “free goods” to the Defense Ministry.
Just like the Soviet Union routinely understated its military spending, so do China and Russia today. Which isn’t surprising, given that China is communist, Russia is governed by an unreconstructed KGB thug, and both are on expansionist, imperialist binges.
But it gets even worse: in China and Russia, one dollar can buy several times more than the US. Which means that even if one determines Russia’s or China’s actual military budgets, that would then have to be multiplied by at least 3 to arrive at the real extent of their military buildups.
Which brings me to another lie by Freeman – that the US military is vastly superior to any competitor.
I wish it were true, but it isn’t. And Freeman, by propagating that comfortable lie, is trying to lull the American people into a false sense of security.
Man for man, ship for ship, plane for plane, the Chinese and Russian militaries are far better than the US military – which will learn that rude lesson sooner rather than later.
Chinese troops are better trained, fed, quartered, and led – by true warrior leaders, not by politically correct careerists eager to please their civilian masters in Washington. They, and their Russian counterparts, are also far better equipped – with superior air defense systems (which render their airspace closed to all but the most stealthy aircraft), nuclear missile delivery systems, ultra-quiet, submarines, surface warships, fighters, cruise missiles, anti-ship weapons, and so on.
A few examples will illustrate the point.
The premier air superiority fighter of China and Russia, the Flanker, is newer, better armed, more maneuverable, better equipped with sensors and missiles, and much cheaper than the old, outdated F-15 Eagle (to say nothing of the small, uncompetitive F-16 Crappy Falcon, inferior even to its Chinese clone, the J-10). Their missiles are longer-ranged than any air-to-air missile in US inventory and have diverse seekers, unlike the AIM-120 AMRAAM.
Russia’s and China’s fifth generation fighters, scheduled to enter service later this decade, are all-aspect-stealthy, can carry large weapon loads over long ranges, are highly maneuverable and capable of sustained supersonic speeds, have excellent sensor aperture, and can evolve into other roles than air superiority and theater strike.
None of this can be said of the sole fifth-generation “fighter” the US is developing for its Air Force, Navy, and Marine Corps: the grossly overweight, sluggish, unmaneuverable, underpowered, underranged, underarmed, non-stealthy (contrary to what Lockheed Martin claims), and hacked (by Chinese hackers) F-35 Junk Strike Fighter, AKA the Jet That Ate The Pentagon Budget. It can’t turn, climb, nor run away from a fight. In any combat situation, US and allied F-35s would be massacred like pigeons in a pest eradication program. Indeed, Freeman’s former employer, POGO, and Freeman himself have sharply criticized the F-35.
China has modern frigates, designed primarily for anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, and Russia has the Admiral Gorshkov class. What does the USN has? A dwindling fleet of aging, obsolete Perry-class frigates and the Little Crappy Ship (LCS) that is easy to sink and has meagre weaponry.
The USN does have a good class of air defense destroyers – the Arleigh Burke class – but even here China outperforms the US with its Type 052C and D destroyers, AKA Chinese “Aegis class” DDGs.
Russia has 6,800 nuclear warheads, including 4,000 tactical ones. The US has 5,113 warheads, of which only about 400 are tactical. Nothing has been done to address Russia’s huge advantage in that area.
China and Russia have far better combat rifles – various variants of the famous AK-47 Kalashnikov (you can bury it in sand or mud and it will still fire). The standard rifles of the US military are the M16 and its shorter M4 variant – both of which are famous for their propensity to jam. These rifles have literally gotten thousands of US troops killed.
China alone has 100,000 naval mines, and Russia has further thousands. The USN is completely unprepared for this, with only 13 minesweepers, all operated by the Naval Reserve because the USN is completely uninterested in counter-mine warfare. The UK Royal Navy alone has more minesweepers than that (15) – all operated by the REGULAR Royal Navy.
China and Russia also have many kinds of weapons the US military simply doesn’t have at all: anti-satellite weapons, supersonic anti-ship missiles, and short- and medium range ballistic missiles.
China has a wide range of supersonic anti-ship cruise missiles: the Russian-imported SS-N-22 Sunburn and SS-NX-30 Sizzler (3M54 Klub) and the indigenous Yingji family of missiles. A single Sunburn would suffice to sink an American aircraft carrier. It also has DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missiles, each of which, again, is enough to sink a USN carrier. The US has no weapons of this kind.
As for short- and medium range ballistic missiles, Russia has the Iskander-M and K, the R-500 GLCM, and the Yars-M IRBM, all fielded in flagrant violation of the INF Treaty. These missiles can reach any point on th Eurasian continent. China has DF-11, DF-15, and DF-16 short-range ballistic missiles, and the DF-21, DF-25, and DF-26 medium-range ballistic missiles, along with the CJ-10 and DH-10 cruise missiles, which can strike any target in the Western Pacific, with nuclear and conventional warheads alike – out to Guam and well beyond.
The US military USED to be the strongest martial force in the world. But alas, it no longer is. It is now DECISIVELY inferior to the Chinese and Russian militaries – by a large margin.
Shame on DefenseOne for publishing Freeman’s screed, and on Freeman for lying to the American people so blatantly.