Friday, July 15, 2005

NYTimes: Defending America

The gang over at Oxblog alerted me to the NY Times editorial on US defense: The Times called for a 100,000 man increase in the US Army.

Oxblog writes: WOW. THIS NYT EDITORIAL ACTUALLY IMPRESSED ME: Even an inveterate critic such as myself considers the NYT, as a newspaper and a cultural institution, to be impressive. But almost never would I say that about its endlessly recycled anti-Bush editorials. Yet today, I am impressed.

Oxblog concludes: the Times seems to understand that no matter how much value there is to be had from international cooperation and from the forthright consideration of America's numerous flaws, the successful waging of the war on terror must rest on a foundation of incomparable military power.

It looks very impresssive indeed...until you read how the editors think we should pay for this:
To pay for expanding the Army, the Pentagon should trim the Navy by at least one carrier group and the Air Force by two flight wings. Additional savings can be realized by further scaling back the Air Force's F/A-22 stealth fighter and the Navy's DD(X) destroyer, deferring further construction of Virginia-class attack submarines and acknowledging that ballistic missile defense is not ready to graduate from research to early deployment.

In other words, this is not a call to an overall strengthening of America's military power: it's a call to slash Navy and the Air Force, and redistribute resources to the Army.

No way. The increase in the strength in the Army and Marines makes sense. A bi-partisan group--including neoconservatives at the Weekly Standard--recently called for an increase in the Army and the Marine Corps of 25,000 troops per year over the next several years.

There is no justification for getting stingy on defense. Here are the figures from OMB:

Year---Deficit GDP--Defence GDP
1940---3.6---------1.7
1941---4.9---------5.8
1942--14.8--------17.9
1943--30.8--------37.0
1944--23.3--------37.8
1945--22.0--------37.5
1946---7.6--------19.2

1980---2.7---------4.9
1981---2.4---------5.2
1982---3.7---------5.7
1983---6.0---------6.1
1984---4.8---------5.9
1985---6.3---------6.1
1986---6.4---------6.2

2000--(0.9)--------3.0
2001---0.3---------3.0
2002---3.1---------3.4
2003---5.0---------3.7
2004---4.9---------3.9
2005---4.8---------3.8 (estimates)
2006---4.3---------3.5 (estimates)

The above charts are crystal-clear. As a percentage of GDP, the deficits run to finance the War on Terror (3-5%) are running far below World War II (7-30%) and substantially below the Reagan budgets at the height of the Cold War (5-6%). Similarly, the spending on defense as a percentage of GDP for the War on Terror (under 4%!) is running far below the figures in World War II (17-37%) or during the Reagan period at the height of the Cold War (6%).

Never before has America spent so little on defense in a time of national danger.

Gang--this is ridiculous. If we want to keep the freedom given to us by our parents we had better be prepared to make the financial sacrifices they made to defend our liberty.