Saturday, May 8, 2010
Defense Secretary Gates Has It About Right ... But He Doesn't Go Far Enough
Rational Nation USA
Finally we have some rational thought in the defense department. Forty nine years after President Eisenhower warned Americans of the dangers of a military industrial complex we have a Secretary of Defense that seems to understand he current dangers to our society. At least partially.
Secretary Gates warned Congress and the Pentagon brass that military spending, given the nations difficult economic situation, must receive deep analysis and harsh scrutiny. Secretary Gates said Saturday it is "highly unlikely" the defense budget will continue to grow in the foreseeable future. At the same time he gave lawmakers the challenge to cease funding programs that is not requested or wanted by the Pentagon.
Gates went on record saying he is directing the military and defense civilians to scrutinize overhead and slash costs, and take a hard look at how they operate. Presumably to eliminate all duplicity and maximize efficiencies just as private business must do every day, week, month, and year of their existence.
Secretary Gates was right on with his following remarks.
"What it takes is the political will and willingness... to make hard choices -- choices that will displease powerful people both inside the Pentagon and out." Gates then went on to reference Eisenhower 1961 farewell speech to the nation. "Eisenhower was wary of seeing his beloved republic turn into a muscle -bound, garrison state - militarily strong, but economically stagnant and strategically insolvent."
The Secretary said that trimming the defense budget and saving money will require thinking outside the box and changing our paradigms. As Gates said, "it will mean overcoming steep institutional and political challenges, many lying outside the five walls of the Pentagon."
Gates touched upon the increasing cost to the military with respect to health care costs. Over the last ten years health care cost for the military have increased 263 percent... an annualized average of 26 percent per year. The costs of benefits have continued to rise and the increase has been born by the government as there has been no increase in contributions from the individual soldier.
The Defense Secretary is absolutely correct in his statements. The defense department should scrap programs that are inefficient and not needed. He is equally correct that the cost of heath coverage needs to be addressed and it may mean passing a portion of the cost through to our service men an women just as the private sector does.
Do I like the realities?... The answer is no. But we simply must find a way to reverse our trend and find a way back to a strong and vibrant economy. As the Secretary said this will require different thinking and busing old paradigms wide open. We are quite simply going broke and can no longer allow the excesses of a content and sleeping nation.
While the Secretary is correct he frankly does not take it far enough. There are opportunities to save billions of dollars if we close down military bases that are no longer needed throughout the world and bring our troops home.
As a nation we need to rethink our interventionist foreign policy since the conclusion of World War II. Not only is this policy bankrupting our nation it is creating considerable ill will throughout the world. Not only is it not our place to be the world's policeman, it is also not ethical when we attempt to do so. All sovereign states the world over wish their sovereignty to be respected.
Should two sovereign states engage in hostilities it is for them to settle their differences. If another state commits an act of aggression against the people of this nation then, and only then is military action justified. Short of an act of aggression against our nation we should keep hands off.
This is not to be construed as pacifist. A strong military defense, as in defense shield or umbrella, as well as the best trained and equipped military force (second to none) is required to insure our ability to respond to any act of aggression against the people of our great great nation.
Now is the time to revisit our national priorities. Now is the time to begin thinking outside of the box. Now is the time to use our intelligence and resources to insure tomorrow's generation will continue to enjoy the liberties and freedoms of past generations of Americans.
The choices won't be easy, the forces against reason will be strong, the challenge is to rise to the occasion and make decisions that insure our strength, prosperity, and respect throughout the world. These are all things worth the effort. Are we up to the challenge? What say you?
To hear President Eisenhower's speech on the military industrial complex click here. For a better understanding of what this nation needs I refer you to The Revolution, A Manifesto by Ron Paul.