Not Being Frank About Defense

Moreover, Frank appears to be either disingenuous or ignorant -- take your pick. Certainly, he is a past master at telling it like it isn’t. America’s fiscal viability is compromised, he informs us, since it is wasting its resources in “defending the Czech Republic and Poland against an Iranian missile attack.” Has Frank forgotten that President Obama reneged on this agreement, thus casting his Czech and Polish allies adrift? He goes on to claim that “there is no external enemy in Iraq.” He is clearly in need of a geopolitical refresher course to remind him of a country called Iran that is waging a highly effective covert campaign against Iraq. We are then advised that China “is decades away from being a military issue.” Is Frank unaware of the precarious position of Taiwan? Does he not know that China has boosted its military budget and is investing heavily in building up its navy and air force, to the evident distress of the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Michael Mullen? The international theater is now a more dangerous place than it ever was and the value of deterrence remains paramount. Nevertheless, Frank serenely insists there is no real threat to the U.S.

“What we face is a debt crisis,” Frank continues, “due to military over-commitments, which has devastated our ability to improve our quality of life through government programs.” One can almost see the complaisant journalist nodding her head in agreement; still, one must beg to differ. What America faces is a debt crisis which began when the Clinton administration instructed the banks to issue subprime mortgage loans, the purpose of which, in the words of a White House press release of December 8, 1993, was “to serve low and moderate geographies” and empower “persons of a low and moderate income.” The economic implosion we are witnessing today is largely the result of this “egalitarian” measure as millions of destitute American homeowners were eventually forced to default on their payments. Since this was a Democratic initiative, one can understand Frank’s aversion to being, well, frank, or Francis’ predictable reluctance to set him straight.

The jury is still out on the social consequences of such extensive legislative projects as Roosevelt’s New Deal, Truman’s Fair Deal, Kennedy’s New Frontier, and Johnson’s Great Society, but the scope and intent of Obama’s new measures are profoundly unsettling. What Barney Frank is trying to sell as a spokesman for his party is a statist agenda an order of magnitude greater than anything America has witnessed in the last fifty years. To accomplish his mission he must ensure that he has the media with him and that the American public will believe his earnest prevarications.

Journalists like Diane Francis will help him to achieve his first objective. But the public may no longer be as credulous as he might have wished, and it is to be hoped that a growing number of American voters will come to understand that an incontinent mint, unchecked stimulus packages, and indiscriminate bailouts will only dig the proverbial hole to China -- which is, ironically, precisely what is happening in reality, with China as the United States’ largest creditor, holding as of April 2009 $763.5 billion in Treasury securities. (As Romanian scholar Nicolae Popescu facetiously says, “The U.S. goes socialist to save capitalism; China goes capitalist to save socialism” -- personal communication. But the U.S. may well fail where China will succeed.)

Moreover, the gradual appropriation of much of the manufacturing industry and banking sector by a supervisory bureaucratic apparatus does not bode well for the prosperity of the country. Senator Charles Grassley sensibly argues that governments “consume wealth; they don’t create wealth. Too many people are in the wagon. We need more people pulling the wagon.” There is little doubt, however, that the current administration is busy circling the wagon.

Perhaps the American electorate will come to see that the MSM has become the cadet branch of a distinctly liberal-left administration. Perhaps it will detect that a government monopoly on national life -- Frank’s “government programs” -- is the clandestine purpose behind the ostensible solicitude for an improved “quality of life.” And realize, too, that defense spending remains the rock on which American security is erected. Francis is dead wrong when she writes that “Frank is correct” about U.S. military expenditure standing in the way of social amelioration. On the contrary, a robust military budget is what guarantees American survival in the Hobbesian jungle of international affairs, a condition of perpetual competition and aggression which Hobbes defined in Leviathan as the “natural condition of mankind.” For America is surrounded by enemies and false friends who would not shed a tear to see it go under, and one cannot enjoy “quality of life” if there is no life to enjoy the quality of.