Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton has issued an important and powerful critique of the new budget deal’s approach to cuts to the military. The military is, rightly, the single most trusted of all American institutions among our citizens. As Bolton argues, “Defense spending is not just another wasteful government program. Subjecting it to potentially massive, debilitating cuts is rolling the dice in perilous times internationally. Adam Smith himself wrote in ‘The Wealth of Nations’: “the first duty of the sovereign” [is] ‘protecting the society from the violence and invasion’ of others.”
He further writes:
In the deal’s second stage, the yet-to-be-named Congressional Joint Commission will have wide discretion on what to agree on, but if no agreement or only partial agreement is reached, the deal’s sequestration mechanism will be triggered. Broadly speaking, if that happens, defense spending will bear fifty percent of the total cuts, with non-defense spending bearing the remaining fifty percent, up to the amount necessary to raise the debt ceiling by the minimum $ 2.4 trillion required by the deal. This approach risks grave damage to our national security.
There is no strategic rationale whatsoever for cuts of this magnitude. There is, in fact, every strategic rationale to the contrary. While the appropriations process may still be able to decide which specific programs will be cut, this is no consolation. Cuts of this size are effectively indiscriminate.
No national security-minded American can read his words (in their entirety here) without sharing his existential concern for our nation’s future.