by Simon Black: ‘Stay
and Fight': Is This Realistic?
In a recent
with Newsweek magazine, outgoing US Defense Secretary Robert
Gates lamented about not wanting to be part of a government that
didn’t have the resources and gusto to support a trillion dollar
spent my entire adult life with the United States as a superpower,
and one that had no compunction about spending what it took to sustain
that position… This is a different time. To tell you the truth,
that’s one of the many reasons it’s time for me to retire,
because frankly I can’t imagine being part of a government…
that’s being forced to dramatically scale back our engagement
with the rest of the world.”
There are some
interesting conclusions to draw from this statement.
For one, Gates
exemplifies the mentality of these career politicians who hold the
highest positions of leadership: it’s as if they feel entitled
to spend without having to deal with the inconveniences of fiscal
reality. And if that’s not possible, he’ll just take his
ball and go home.
most politicians, Gates seems completely disconnected from the real
world. To Gates, out of control spending beyond your means is what
it takes to maintain superpower status. In the real world, invading
other countries and engaging in bottomless pit defense projects
is a recipe for disaster.
the single biggest line item in the US budget, and along with Medicare
and Social Security, these three programs completely dwarf the rest
of the budget. Congress could completely eliminate the Department
of Energy (which it should…) and only save $28.9 billion. Today
this is just a rounding error.
that the US government is going to be forced to live within its
means and that Defense is going to get the axe. Unthinkable! But
with an official budget of nearly $1 trillion (not counting supplementary,
off-the-books packages), there’s more than ample room.
the obvious droves of unnecessary overseas bases that cost billions,
the US military maintains expensive, antiquated systems like aircraft
carriers and surface to air weaponry. They might have been useful
in World War II, but today represent a financial sinkhole with little
tactical benefit in modern warfare.
To give you
another example, military units often procure necessary resources
from local suppliers – this can be anything ranging from food
to print cartridges to diesel fuel to remodeling services.