Friday, January 7, 2011

War Zone

I've said it before (no links, sipping gin): Robert Gates impresses me. He, alone among Republicans, is willing to address reducing defense spending. His latest announcement, and the response thereto, is as revelatory as it is predictable. His plan is hardly a huge shift in the paradigm; disturbance in the force, if any, is minimal.

WASHINGTON – For the first time in more than a decade defined by costly wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, the Pentagon announced plans Thursday to freeze its ballooning budget, forcing the services to shrink the Army and Marines and increase health care premiums for military retirees and their families.

The Pentagon says it can stop asking for annual budget increases in 2015, adjusting its spending only for inflation. The last time the Pentagon's budget went down was in 1998...

... Although it took Gates more than 30 minutes to read an explanation of the reductions, he called the proposals modest and realistic.

This, of course, gives Republicans the vapors. Right on cue, they lashed out at our terrorist-loving president:

Almost immediately the proposal ran into opposition in Congress, including Republicans who say President Barack Obama is short-changing the military.

"I'm not happy," said Rep. Buck McKeon, who as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee helps oversee the military budget.

"This is a dramatic shift for a nation at war and a dangerous signal from the commander-in-chief," McKeon, R-Calif., added.

(That's from the guy who sees the war in Afghanistan as fulfilling Mormon prophesy.)

Nor were Democrats uniformly on board. There's money in that there budget:
"I'm willing to work with Secretary Gates and the president to cut wasteful defense spending, but cutting the budget on the backs of Ohio's workers is unacceptable," said Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio

Hope? None. Political courage? In the White House, maybe. Public support? Dip me in hot water and call me Earl Grey.

P.S.: Here's another reason to admire Gates.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's pretty sad when promising to stop increasing your budget faster than inflation in four years is seen as significant and a sign of wisdom. Especially when the primary reason for budget expansion (war) is no longer expected to be there. If we were living in a place called reality, that would be derided as incredibly optimistic (and unrealistic) rather than the end of the world. Because in the real world, the question would be how much to demobilize the military.


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