Political courage and popular will to reduce America’s bloated defense budget have been gaining momentum recently, particularly as debate over the debt ceiling heats up. Sen. Kent Conrad (D-ND) floated a proposal that includes an $800 billion reduction in military spending, nearly double what President Obama proposed just last April. Even Republicans are embracing the need to drastically reduce the Pentagon’s budget. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) said on Sunday that trimming $1 trillion off DOD’s budget over the next ten years is “not super hard.”
However, there are some hold-outs. House Armed Services Committee chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) isn’t happy with Conrad’s plan (McKeon previously called DOD cuts “dangerous” but never said why). And the war hawks at right-wing think tanks the American Enterprise Institute, the Foreign Policy Initiative and the Heritage Foundation got together and released a report criticizing Pentagon budget cuts. “Warning: Hollow Force Ahead!” the title reads. The report contains a series of random “myths” and “facts” that argue for more spending, more military, and more troops, and it even seems to suggest that it all might be needed for war with Iran:
Forces in Iraq and Afghanistan would represent only a part of U.S. posture in the greater Middle East — a historically unstable region now in the throes of a further transition and facing the prospect of an accelerated regional nuclear arms race sparked by Iran. … The long-term geopolitical trends reflect protracted and persistent irregular wars in the Middle East.
But without any sense of irony whatsoever, the report concludes with the following:
While no comprehensive analysis for long-term readiness has been undertaken, the rough overall pattern is apparent: the future of American national security is being mortgaged to fight today’s wars and reduce the deficit by an insignificant amount. As a result, America’s armed forces, which have been stretched thin for nearly a decade, will likely be asked in the years ahead to do the same or more with even less if defense spending is cut once again.
Yes, that’s right, the folks who brought you the Iraq war, and thus the protracted predicament that the United States now finds itself in in Afghanistan, are now complaining that those wars have stretched the military thin and are selling out future American national security. As one national security analyst told ThinkProgress responding to the report, “Having killed their parents, the neocons are now complaining about being orphans.”