First Casualty of War: Pentagon Budget Cuts

Politico on how any momentum for Pentagon budget cuts will likely be scuttled by our latest war:

Despite the broad coalition targeting the Pentagon budget, cuts were always going to be a tough sell at a time of two wars — let alone as the military intervenes in a third country.

“It is just plain vanilla that it will make it harder to cut defense in the near term,” said Douglas Holtz-Eakin, an economist with close ties to congressional Republicans. “We’re going to have to fund more of this than you realize.”

The airstrikes are already being used by some in the Republican establishment to blunt momentum in favor of the cuts, long considered heretical in a town in which defense contractors constitute a formidable lobby and members of Congress view the Pentagon budget as a jobs program and fear being tagged as unpatriotic.

Squeezed by political forces to his right and his left, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has led the charge against efforts to scale back defense spending.

“This would be one of those examples that can be used to buttress his argument that now is not the time for deep cuts in defense,” said Josh Holly, the committee’s communications director. The chairman’s concern is “not being properly positioned to deal with the contingencies that might be on the horizon, whether that be a modernizing military in China or (a military action) in Libya.”....

Some predict the military intervention will reawaken the public’s war weariness, undercutting support for the Pentagon by showing Washington’s general lack of restraint at a time of deep deficits. Experts said the Libya conflict’s price tag will top $1 billion.

But Domenici suggested the Libya conflict could dull the political will to make real cuts.....

While Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a potential Republican presidential candidate, broke from the GOP pack this month to endorse defense cuts, other leading possible candidates — Newt Gingrich, Tim Pawlenty, Mitt Romney — don’t agree. This is no small thing: In a presidential cycle, lawmakers often take their cues from their party’s leading candidates.....

The Pentagon budget is still projected to grow under the House Republican plan for the current fiscal year budget and under the president’s proposed budget for next year, but at a slower rate.

Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.), however, sees opportunity for cuts in this crisis:

Coburn has been an outspoken critic, calling for a defense spending freeze until the Pentagon can pass an audit.

“By subsidizing our allies’ defense budgets, American taxpayers are essentially subsidizing France’s 35-hour workweek and Western European socialism,” Coburn spokesman John Hart said. “Taking defense spending off the table keeps American taxpayers on the hook for more government at home and abroad.”....

“If you are looking for waste in the budget, the Defense Department is probably the single richest place to begin looking,” said Maya MacGuineas, president of the bipartisan Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget.

But, she acknowledged, “I’m sure all parties involved will use Libya to make the case for what they believed anyhow.”

Ms. MacGuineas speaks a truth far wider than the current Libya situation, to be sure.

Bonus Libya link: Juan Cole at The Nation tells the left that they are 100 percent wrong to think they have any reason to oppose this intervention--or, by implication, any intervention now or ever that we might guess will save anyone from death or oppression (even while, inevitably, murdering others):

If we just don’t care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren’t people of the Left. We should avoid making ‘foreign intervention’ an absolute taboo the way the Right makes abortion an absolute taboo if doing so makes us heartless (inflexible a priori positions often lead to heartlessness).

Seriously, guys--are we on the left going to be so heartless that we oppose dropping huge bombs on people and property from the air?? Is this what we've become?

And also--Churchill! He may not have been "p.c.," lefties, but he had his heart in the right place where it counts: waging ruthless war:

It is now easy to forget that Winston Churchill held absolutely odious positions from a Left point of view and was an insufferable colonialist who opposed letting India go in 1947. His writings are full of racial stereotypes that are deeply offensive when read today. Some of his interventions were nevertheless noble and were almost universally supported by the Left of his day.

Not at all sure why Cole thinks "what would Churchill do?" is or should be a burning question to the current Nation reader, but it gives me an opportunity to link to one of my favorite essays about Churchill, from libertarian historian Ralph Raico.

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  • ||

    Despite the broad coalition targeting the Pentagon budget, cuts were always going to be a tough sell at a time of two wars — let alone as the military intervenes in a third country.

    Sweet Fucking Jesus. Bush's engagements are called Wars, while oBOMBa's are called Interventions.

    Nice work, Politico. Is the JournoList listserv back online already?

  • fish||

    BS! According to the Daily Show these ...actions...are nothing more than the delivery of "Freedom Packages"!

  • ||

    When are our pilots gonna drop the "Liberty Bags" to supplement those "Freedom Packages?"

    "Humanitarian Bombing" makes about as much sense as "Military Intelligence."

  • fish||

    When are our pilots gonna drop the "Liberty Bags" to supplement those "Freedom Packages?"

    There will be an extra charge for those I'm afraid!

  • sarcasmic||

    When the weather forecast is colder than historical record is is below average and when it is warmer than historical record it is above normal.

  • KMA||

    No, they're Kinetic Military Actions.

  • Who saw this coming?||

    Oh, right, James fucking Madison all the way back in the 18th century.

    Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded, because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes; and armies, and debts, and taxes are the known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few. In war, too, the discretionary power of the Executive is extended; its influence in dealing out offices, honors, and emoluments is multiplied; and all the means of seducing the minds, are added to those of subduing the force, of the people…. [There is also an] inequality of fortunes, and the opportunities of fraud, growing out of a state of war, and … degeneracy of manners and of morals…. No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare.

  • Jim||

    Wow...I'd never read that quote before, but it's excellent.

  • sarcasmic||

    Governments wage war so they can raise taxes.

    Who can oppose a tax intended to fund the troops?
    That would be unpatriotic.

  • KMA||

    That's why using child soldiers is so appealing to many governments.

    "What? You don't support the 12-year-old troops???

  • ||

    if thats a bomb crater, this must be civilization! (w apologies to mr madison)

  • ||

    "Keep that damned chicken quiet!!!"

  • ||

    yea that was a freaky one

  • Kolohe||

    It was the last one, no?

  • ||

    Yep, although the series died to me when Frank Burns was replaced by Charles Emerson Winchester III.

  • creech||

    Is this the same Little Jemmy that declared war on England and almost caused the New England states to secede?

  • ||

    How quaint!

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Call me lazy, but can a brother get a citation?

  • Matrix||

    basically for Juan Cole, what it boils down to is "if our guy does it, it's a-okay. If Team Red's guy does it, we should impeach him and put him in jail!"

  • DJF||

    The USA’s huge military spending got us into the Libyan war since it gave the politicians the resources and also the justification for US involvement since no one else had the capability. Or as Madeleine Albright put it "What’s the point of you saving this superb military for, Colin, if we can't use it?"

    So until the military is cut back to its only legitimate purpose defending the US then the people in Washington will still use it around the world for their various schemes. As long as the huge US military exists the politicians will never stop using it.

  • KMA||

    We don't need a standing army or tanks. All we need is nuclear weapons and the will to use them.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Earlier I was thinking about what I'd do as president and part of it was to pull back and abolish a ton of the military, telling the world we aren't their police. However, I'd also add not to take this as a sign of weakness: if they attacked us we'd respond. And don't think Iraq, think Carthage.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Hate the guy who coined it, that communist fucktard, but the "military industrial complex" is real.

    The only way ti justify the trillions spent on the military is to use it.

  • fish||

    While I think there is room to cut...lets not get extreme!

    http://washingtonexaminer.com/.....attack-gop

  • ||

    I'm still kind of sitting here astonished that we've entered another fucking war. I just can't really believe it at this point.

  • ||

    It is almost time for May sweeps.

  • ||

    "War were declared."

  • Montani Semper Sobchak||

    Dude, war is not the preferred nomenclature. Kinetic military action, please.

  • sevo||

    "Kinetic military action, please."

    Helps moisturize the skin! Makes you look younger!

  • ||

    "It rubs the kinetic military action on it's skin or it gets the hose again."

  • ||

    "Kinetic Military Action! Huh. Yeah.
    What is it good for?
    Winnin' elections.
    Say it again.

    Oh kinetic military action I despise
    because it means salvation
    of political lives.

    (Apologies to Edwin Star)

  • sarcasmic||

    That's going on the Chump Line.

  • ||

    Kinetic military action, as opposed to potential military action?

    Obama's law of warfare conservation.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    We don't have any more military action than before, we have simply changed its form.

  • fish||

    A conflict re-org?

  • alan||

    No, I want play that game. They came up with that as a distraction for us to get all snide about. We're too deep in the shit to be tantalized by baubles like this.

  • ||

    Dude, war is not the preferred nomenclature. Kinetic military action, please.

    Montani, this isn't an action that built the fucking railroads here, this is an action that blew up my fucking prayer rug!

  • ||

    now wait a sec epi. its not "another fucking war". rather its (ta daa) "humanitarian war!" wherein we kill them to make them free...to be safer...cause democracies dont attack other nations. hope that helps

  • Bingo||

    Is that a quote from GWB circa 2004?

  • ||

    seems like it sorta morphed from arbeit mach frei

  • Really?||

    That Churchill essay could easily have been written, with substituted facts, of course, about Reagan.

  • Bill||

    Interesting article on Churchill but it's about 20 pages long. I had to stop reading halfway through so I can get some work done!

  • Bill||

    Interesting article on Churchill but it's about 20 pages long. I had to stop reading halfway through so I can get some work done!

  • ||

    You could get more work done by only posting comments once.

  • Warty||

    War is declared

    Except...not.

  • Pip||

    You know what pisses me off? Listening to some bitch on Morning Joe telling me that unlike Bush I & Bush II, Obama put together a coalition of nations for this Libya thing. And no one called her on it.

  • ||

    Maybe they're giving her a pass because she's a complete fucking retard and they feel sorry for her.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    But Bush put together a coalition of Congress...

  • DJF||

    Yes but this time our coalition includes the Arab League, a group of dictatorships which use police and military to keep in power so obviously what they say about Libya government using police and military to keep in power is particularly important

  • Anonymous Coward||

    A Coalition of...THE WILLING?

  • ||

    so ud rather hear it fm some dude?

  • sevo||

    OO|3.29.11 @ 3:27PM|#
    "so ud rather hear it fm some dude"

    We'd prefer reading comments that weren't from a Turing test.

  • ||

    I guess if you replace "Baghdad" with "Benghazi" it makes it all obviously acceptable.

    Heartless scumbags!

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    The 'z' makes it cool.

  • Old Mexican||

    "If we just don't care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren't people of the Left."


    Because that is what defines "The Left" - they care about people.

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/scie.....ate-change

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    I thought what defined "the Left" was "the people still organizing antiwar protests"?

  • Old Mexican||

    Seriously, guys - are we on the left going to be so heartless that we oppose dropping huge bombs on people and property from the air?? Is this what we've become?


    I can say one thing to you, Juan Cole: You need to see your psychologist!!!

  • GILMORE||

    Churchill... "an insufferable colonialist..."

    in·suf·fer·a·ble/inˈsəf(ə)rəbəl/Adjective
    1. Too extreme to bear; intolerable.
    2. Having or showing unbearable arrogance or conceit

    I don't think mssr Cole believes in any such a thing as a "reasonable and moderate Colonialist"; in fact, I'd assume he'd characterize "colonialism" as itself an "insufferable" European legacy.

    Basically what I'm saying is: Juan Cole is a shitty writer.

    And for all his political faults from the POV of the American Left, at least Winston could string a !@#*$& decent sentence together.

    I do find it unsurprising that Libya is The Good War, which Democrats support and Republicans at least initially opposed... and still have complaints about. It's Clinton/Bosnia all over again. When Democrats bomb shit it's a Humanitarian Perogative... when Republicans bomb shit, its Colonialist/Capitalist Exploitation.

    Juan Cole wrote an article called, "Ten Reasons Lybia is Not Iraq 2003"

    (here = http://www.juancole.com/2011/0.....-2003.html )

    ...and frankly I find myself unimpressed with his hair-splitting. If his case were solid enough, he wouldn't need "10 reasons" = one good one would suffice in making any significant distinction.

    OK, The UN lead the way on this one; OK, Libyans revolted BEFORE we intervened... OK, the US didn't bully the Europeans into it... all elicit a shugging, "so @#($* what?" from me. They strike me as differences in details which do NOTHING to explain why one war was Very Bad and the other Very Good. Basically, Cole seems to be saying Military Intervention is a matter of meeting certain arbitrary conditions... the principal being, "the UN said so".

    it's still a matter of western powers intervening in the middle east and attempting to outst a current regime by force. And its still not an issue of US national security being threatened. And Quaddafi was also not linked to any terrorist... well, at least he gave that up a while ago.

    And Oil doesn't matter any less in Libya than it did in Iraq. One might point out that certain European powers were particularly motivated to intervene in Libya precisely because of their own reliance on Libyan exports...

    (see here = http://www.libyaonline.com/bus.....hp?cid=311 nice chart there halfway down )

    If there's any significant distinction to be made between Iraq and Libya, its one that Cole does not state directly. It's that we're not going to invade. We're going to do this one at a distance, and it won't be 100% on our shoulders... Much more Team Blue style.

    But I fail to see how unecessary wars are any more justifiable just because you plan your engagement level differently.

    In the end, its nothing but rationalizing the exercise of power. I would have expected that the Leftists would be more mum about the issue, and pretend some kind of mild criticism, but no = I suppose full-blooded hypocricy is required so that the image of Obama as a vast improvement on the Evils of the Bush remains unblemished by reality

  • ||

    If we just don't care if the people of Benghazi are subjected to murder and repression on a vast scale, we aren't people of the Left.

    I thought the Left spent most of the last century strenuously not caring about murder and repression on a vast scale.

  • alan||

    Not caring? Don't you mean 'causing'?

  • cynical||

    Well, the foreign Left caused it, the domestic Left tried to avoid caring about it.

  • B-O||

    There are those who say I don't care about killing people. Let me be clear: I take my killing very seriously.

  • fish||

    thought the Left spent most of the last century strenuously not caring about murder and repression on a vast scale.

    To be fair that was only when they were actively engaging in it.

  • ||

    Well, I was thinking about the American Left, which was mostly wrapped up in apologia for murder and repression on a mass scale, rather than actual participation in it.

  • 1980 Redux||

    There is never a good, right, or appropriate time to "cut" the defense budget, unless you want to see America overrun by her enemies. We can easily make up the budget shortfalls by eliminating welfare transfer schemes, including SS and medicaid, all of which are much less essential than a fully-funded military.

    Note the example of the previous communist to occupy the White House before the current one: Bill Clinton. After spending on our military forced the Soviet Empire to collapse, Clinton thought he could down-size the military like one would any random corporation. And the result was our military not being prepared to meet the challenges of the simultaneous wars we were forced to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq. If we had kept the military at Reagan levels, or preferably increased it further, none of the grief we've had over the last 8 years of occupation would have happened.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    We weren't forced into either one of those.

  • ||

    We were forced to go to Iraq because they done did 911 to us.

  • 1980 Redux||

    So was 9/11 an inside job then? Because if it wasn't, we had a war declared on us whether we wanted it or not.

  • Progressive Guy||

    "There is never a good, right, or appropriate time to "cut" the defense budget, unless you want to see America overrun by her enemies"

    Good point. Also, there is never a good, right, or appropriate time to "cut" the education budget, unless you think that people shouldn't have a good education.

  • ||

    If there's any significant distinction to be made between Iraq and Libya, its one that Cole does not state directly. It's that we're not going to invade.

    Since the war has now moved into a stage that requires digging Gaddafi's troops out of cities where they are dug in with a friendly population, I think there are three likely scenarios:

    (1) The rebels can't take those cities, and there is a de facto partition of the country. Meaning there will be a border that needs to be policed. Will that require US troops in Libya? Maybe.

    (2) The rebels take the cities, but only after substantial close air support causing much destruction and many civilian casualties. If Gadaffi is smart, he's trying to get the international press to the front lines to win the PR war on the "humanitarian" intervention.

    (3) The rebels can't take the cities with just air support, and all those Marines sitting off the coast have to do it for them.

  • B-O||

    In option (1), we also probably need to enforce the no-fly zones (that have apparently transformed into no-drive, no-walk, no-stand zones) for the foreseeable future as well.

  • Joshua||

    Brian,
    Thanks for the Churchill link. I had no idea he was such a fucking monster.

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