President Obama has finally found a segment of government spending he is willing to cut: national defense. The Pentagon will reportedly move away from current strategy, in which it can win two wars on the ground simultaneously, to a “win-spoil” plan in which it can win one while performing Libya-style operations elsewhere. As a consequence, whole brigades will reportedly cease to exist.
“When some army brigades start coming out of Afghanistan, they will basically disappear,” one official said.
Many of the key U.S. military partners in the NATO alliance are also facing tough defense budget cuts as a result of fiscal strains gripping the European Union.
The president may face criticism from defense hawks in Congress, many of them opposition Republicans, who question his commitment to U.S. military strength.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and General Martin Dempsey, chairman of the military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff, are set to hold a news conference to flesh out the contents of the review after Obama’s remarks, which are also expected to stress the need to rein in spending at a time when U.S. budgets are tight.
It’s hard to see how budgets are “tight” when Congress hasn’t even passed a budget in years, and this president has added about $5 trillion to the national debt in three years, taking it from about $10 trillion to more than $15 trillion, almost entirely by ramping up domestic spending.
Cuts to the Pentagon’s spending are not in principle a bad thing; the federal belt needs tightening across the board. But the fact is, the nation’s budget crisis does not originate in DoD spending. Entitlement spending is the leading cause of our spending problem. Entitlement spending threatens to bankrupt us. And this president has no plan to rein that in at all. The president may be hoping to provoke yet another Beltway battle by going after Defense while leaving his domestic spending spree intact.
Meanwhile, Iran is watching. Lately they have challenged the US over the Straits of Hormuz, through which about one-sixth of the world’s oil supply flows each day.