Rebuttal of Matt Purple’s ignorant rant against “the Pentagon”

As my fellow conservative blogger Publius Huldah says, we live in the Age of Ignorance. Many people pontificate about issues they know nothing about because they think their precious opinions matter most, and by spreading their garbage, they mislead others.


A case in point is a ridiculous article by pseudoconservative Matt Purple published recently in the American Spectator (which used to be a respectable conservative publication until it was taken over by anti-defense libertarians a few years ago).


In his screed, Purple claims that there is a chasm in the GOP between people he calls “neoconservatives”, whom he accuses of desiring endless war and unrestricted military spending, and supposed “paleoconservatives”, who, according to Purple, wish to abstain from military interventions and not “treat the Pentagon as sacrosanct”.


But the DOD’s budget has never been sacrosanct, and no one other than me is saying that it should be. It was cut deeply during the late 1940s, the late 1950s, the 1970s, and the 1990s (with the military being gutted each time as a consequence and the nation being forced to spend lots of money later down the road to rebuild the military).


In more recent years, the DOD has, so far, been the ONLY real contributor to deficit reduction. Since 2009 alone, the DOD has contributed over $900 bn to that goal, while no other federal agency or program has contributed ANYTHING. In 2009 and 2010, the DOD cancelled over 50 crucial weapon programs, including the F-22, the Zumwalt class, the CGX, the C-17, the Multiple Kill Vehicle, the Kinetic Energy Interceptor, and the Airborne Laser. In 2011, Sec. Gates programmed another $178 bn in efficiencies. In February 2012, complying with the Budget Control Act, Sec. Panetta announced another $487 bn in cuts over the next decade on top of that. All of this before sequestration.


Furthermore, those who support much deeper cuts and “noninterventionism” (which is merely another name for isolationism) are not “paleoconservatives”; they are leftist libertarians masquerading as conservatives. But gutting the military and reverting to 1930s-style isolationism has never been a conservative position (there wasn’t even any conservative movement in the US until the 1950s); it is, and has always been, a stridently LEFTIST position – and no amount of shouting “we’re the original conservatives! Robert Taft was the real conservative!” will change that.


Purple also admonishes his readers to accept massive defense cuts simply because they are “coming”, and because the nation is $16 trillion in debt.


Actually, defense cuts started in 2009, shortly after President Obama took office, as pointed out above. But Republicans – and ordinary citizens – should not accept defense cuts simply because “they’re coming”. Such cuts are man-made, elective mistakes and can be completely avoided – if one is willing to prioritize federal spending and make tough choices elsewhere. In other words, the coming additional defense cuts (sequestration and a CR) would be man-made disasters – entirely avoidable.


Purple also falsely claims that Republicans should accept sequestration, that Sen. Coburn has found $68 bn in “savings”, and that further big savings can be made by eliminating “duplicative programs”.

But there are relatively few “duplicative” programs left in the DOD, and that duplication’s price tag isn’t high, so there are few savings to be found that way. As for Sen. Coburn’s “Department of Everything” savings proposals, these, while laudable, would save only $6.8 bn per year – not enough to pay for even 2 months of sequestration ($55 bn per year). $68 bn is the projected total saving over a decade, not one fiscal year.


Furthermore, Coburn’s report is purely academic, because under sequestration – which even Republicans have now accepted as inevitable – the DOD has no flexibility whatsoever as to where to make the cuts. The result is that not only will the total defense budget’s size be wholly inadequate, but crucial programs will get hit as badly as wasteful ones – the next gen bomber as badly as beef jerky, nuclear modernization as deeply as the “Did Jesus die for Klingons too?” report and spending on biofuels.


Matt Purple’s article is a ridiculous garbage screed. The American Spectator should take it down. This will not save AmSpec’s credibility, for it already has none. But it will show that AmSpec editors are committed to at least beginning to improve the mag.

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