Defense Vs. Dependency: “Safety net” isn’t so safe
By: Daniel Clark
During the 1990s, when liberal politicians raided our military budget in order to fund their favored domestic initiatives, they referred to it as reaping the “peace dividend.” Their argument was that with the Cold War over, much of the money being used to maintain the world’s most powerful military could better be used elsewhere.
When war was thrust upon us a decade later, we were woefully under-equipped to handle it, and it’s no wonder why. The Pentagon budget, rather than being increased or cut based on its own merit, had been forced to directly compete for dollars with the pet projects of those politicians who get to determine the winners and losers. Once budget debates were framed in that way, any new military spending could be demagogued as the taking of food from the mouths of the poor.
Today, President Obama is proposing a return to the “peace dividend” model, despite the fact that we are far from being at peace. Even with commitments remaining in Iraq and Afghanistan, a crisis roiling in Iran, chaos reigning throughout the Middle East, and the deployment of a small number of American soldiers to Uganda, the president plans to decimate our nuclear arsenal, and dramatically reduce our numbers of ships, planes, and active military personnel. Meanwhile, he has proposed another $3.8 trillion budget for 2013, whose deficit will surely top the trillion-dollar mark yet again, his highly optimistic GDP projections notwithstanding.
While Obama plans military cuts of almost $50 billion per year, there’s no end in sight to his increases in entitlement spending. To the contrary, he continues to dream up new giveaways, while accusing Republicans of trying to return us to a “you’re on your own” society, where people are left to “fend for themselves.” Except for those among us who are functionally incapable of fending for themselves, isn’t that exactly what we’re supposed to do? Not in Obamaworld, where everything from college diplomas to birth control pills must be provided by Uncle Sam.
This dependency poses a far greater threat to our national defense than by simply displacing it from the front of the budgetary pecking order. It also impairs our ability to retain our technological advantage over our enemies.
No matter how brave, dedicated and excellently-trained our soldiers are, it remains that the most decisive factor in warfare is technology. The owners of the most advanced weaponry have historically been victorious, from the longbow to the repeating rifle to the atomic bomb. For well over a century, the United States has had the most technologically advanced military in the world, a fact for which most other nations should be profusely thankful. Our being a free and enterprising people has not been coincidental to this success.
There’s a reason why the USSR’s most significant progress during the Cold War was in stealing the A-bomb that had been developed in the States. It’s the same reason the Soviet leaders feared that America was capable of developing a missile defense shield, while knowing that their own country was not. Several generations had grown up under a Communist system which, under the guise of providing for its people, kept them submissive by mercilessly robbing them of their God-given ingenuity and ambition. Their inability to compete had thus been ingrained in them since their nation’s founding.
As the once-mighty nations of Western Europe have descended into socialism, they have left themselves so utterly incapable of defending themselves that if they didn’t have their American friends to rely on, they’d all be doomed. Their reliance on our military has gotten to be such that, when Obama announced the withdrawal of several thousand troops from Europe a month ago, he dispatched Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to Munich, to assuage the Europeans’ fears that we might abandon them. If America continues to emulate Europe, that which is nostalgically referred to as the Free World will be left almost totally defenseless.
Unlike a real safety net, which gives a second chance to someone who has fallen while taking a risk, the safety net of dependency is designed to be a permanent destination for the risk-averse, whose worst nightmare is having to someday “fend for themselves.” Once we’ve all climbed into that net together, it will have ensnared us, and left us hanging as easy pickings for the next predator that comes along. By then, our best hope may be to persuade it not to devour us, by offering it some of our food stamps instead.
Daniel Clark is a writer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. He is the author and editor of a web publication called The Shinbone: The Frontier of the Free Press, where he also publishes a seasonal sports digest as The College Football Czar.