Hawks Claim Defense Cuts Could Jeopardize ISIS Campaign. They Won't.


Wikimedia Commons

As the specter of a decreased rate of increased defense spending looms over the Pentagon, hawks of all feathers are flocking together to battle sequestration, reports The Hill. Because Assad ISIS:

A growing number of congressional Republicans say the spending cuts, set to return next year, will threaten the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS).

 But budget experts are calling B.S. Literally.

"The technical term for that is bullshit," said Stan Collender, executive vice president at Qorvis MSLGROUP. "They're just using it as an excuse to raise the defense cap," Collender said. "The truth is that long before ISIS, the defense community was lobbying to get rid of sequestration so they're just taking advantage of what was presented to them, to spin the situation."

"You never let a serious crisis go to waste" is clearly a maxim common to both Obama administration officials and defense apparatchiks. But the kicker is that Operation Inherent Resolve isn't even tied to the overall defense budget affected by any sequestration, as Todd Harrison, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, pointed out:

"That's kind of a bogus argument because war-related funding like operations against ISIS comes from emergency supplemental funding not subject to the budget caps," he said of those saying the ISIS fight will be hampered by sequester cuts.

The multibillion dollar slush fund in question is the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account, a pot o' gold liberally used by both the George W. Bush and Obama administrations for the Iraq and Afghanistan imbroglios (and more recently, for the ill-advised military campaign against Ebola).

In a world of perpetual crisis, however, inconvenient truths can be as readily wished away as Iraq war justifications. A GOP aide told The Hill that defense cuts will still adversely affect whatever it is we're doing in Syria and Iraq because the OCO doesn't cover military training and preparedness. Hence, the argument goes, a sequestration can obliquely screw up our campaign against ISIS.

It's hard to take seriously hawks grumbling about cuts that won't even affect the funds being used for their latest imprudent bombing campaign. But then again, it's hard to take seriously any apocalyptic warnings from a defense establishment that already spends more than the next eight countries combined, particularly when the military weathered the last "draconian" cuts just fine.