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The weekly Daley: Beat more swords into plowshares

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From page A6 | February 08, 2013 | 10 Comments

Word out of Washington is that “they” may cut pay increases to the military by a percent or so. That’s a slap in the face not only to the soldiers but also to their families — and to all off us. And the reason is because of the sequestration deal that’s looming a little over the horizon. That’s the deal manufactured by one of the “gang of gangs” to punish each other and us for not negotiating a budget and debt deal a year-and-a-half ago.

Taking it out of the troops’ paychecks is a pretty chicken way to save money. No doubt it will save some money, but there’s a lot of much pricier stuff that could be looked at before you start biting the hand that feeds you, in a manner of speaking. And there’s a real smack of disingenuousness in referring to all our troops as “heroes” on Monday and cutting their pay on Tuesday.

Many of us are led to believe that there is tremendous waste and fraud in the medical/healthcare industry. Whether or not it’s really true, I don’t know, but I suspect if not a tremendous amount, there’s plenty.

Likewise, who could doubt that there’s every bit as much waste and fraud connected to defense and the military/industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about so long ago?

Julian Zelizer, a history professor at Princeton and online commentator wrote this week:

“Despite all the dramatic rhetoric (about how much the cuts will degrade the military), the fact is that the United States spent more in 2011 ($711 billion) than did China, Russia, the UK, France, Japan, India, Saudia Arabia, Germany, Brazil, Italy, South Korea, Australia and Canada combined ($695 billion).”

He also quoted Time Magazine reporting that even with all the cuts in the sequestration, our overall defense spending would only be reduced from 40 percent of the world’s defense spending to 38 percent. Much of our spending is generated by legislators whose districts include big-time defense contractors. Meanwhile, we’re told that a significant portion is being spent on old weapons or technology the military no longer even wants.

Zelizer leans a bit to the left, but if the data is accurate, how can we justify not reducing defense spending of that magnitude? Who are the enemies that we need to outspend 10 or 20 or 50 or a billion to one? The Shoe Bomber? The Underwear Bomber? The rebel army in Mali? Al Qaeda is still out there along with any number of what’s called al Qaeda-linked organizations, most of which have no particular agenda that includes bringing us down. They’re too busy fighting for their own survival in failed states whose economies are primarily based on sand. And most of them think a nation without sports, TV and beer, but with women you can’t see and lots of severed hands would be heaven on earth.

We need super strong homeland security and super alert intelligence systems and super effective Special Forces and super reliable allies. Gazillion-dollar nuclear submarines and globe-shattering missiles and the like aren’t going to catch the occasional nut who puts a bomb in his drawers.

Threatening to begin draconian deficit reduction by picking the pockets of soldiers is about as blatantly political a scheme as one could imagine. I get it. It’s meant to shame Congress into taking some realistic and legitimate steps toward cutting debt and balancing a budget, and with any luck, taking a hard look at why we are spending $700-plus billion a year on defense.

Chris Daley is a staff writer and columnist for the Mountain Democrat. His column appears each Friday. 

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Discussion | 10 comments

  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 1:09 pm

    Navy announces, due to pending defense cuts, that they cannot refuel a carrier?? Thought they were nuclear?? Cannot refuel a carrier unless the DOD gets $700B a year? Think my BS detector is going off.

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  • rodFebruary 08, 2013 - 1:18 pm

    Mr. Daley, “Those who hammer their guns into plowshares, will plow for those who don’t”. Do you purport to know something that Thomas Jefferson did not? Its pretty clear the freedoms we share today, and with the entire western world are a direct result of the United States…. and our ”Military industrial complex”. You’ve managed to throw that Red Herring out there about how unjust cutting pay for active military is, then in the same breath disparage American corporations and industry who invent, produce and supply the same troops with new technology and superior weapons they need and must have to protect this very nation in an ever increasing hostile planet. “Beware of the military industrial complex”, so often quoted by pacifists and agenda driven socialists, yet they can’t explain where we would be without it. General Eisenhower rode the coat tails of that ‘complex’ all the way to Berlin in 1945 saving the Brits, the Russians and the entire western (and eastern) hemispheres from despots and enslavement. The P-51 mustang, the best air superiority fighter of WWII was designed and built by North American Corp. The B-17 “flying fortress” built by Boeing Ind carried the war all the way to the doorstep of the third Reich. Fairchild, Ford, General Motors, Packard, Curtiss Wright, Chance Vought, Consolidated, Bell, Republic, Grumman, Goodyear, Lockheed, etc, members all of the very complex you and I owe our freedoms to. Today we have General Electric, still improving on the quietest, most powerful nuclear sub propulsion systems in the world, General Atomics still inventing ever more optically endowed predators. Lockheed Martin inventing super stealthy aircraft and UAVs like the VTOL F-35 air superiority fighter and the ‘invisible’ Sentinel…. and many others. The biggest problem is they need MORE money not less, as stated by DOD chief Mr. Leon Panetta… but refuted by our commander in chief. “Who could doubt that there’s every bit as much waste and fraud [Medicare] connected to defense and the military/industrial complex Eisenhower warned us about so long ago?” REALLY? Show some respect Mr. Daley, who’s leaning left now? Our Military and its ‘complex’ is about the last bastion of productivity and good left in this country, about the only thing we can take pride in anymore, unless you want to include the rising complex of head shops, thrift stores, tattoo parlors, pharmacies and liquor stores. You have the power of a newspaper columnist, influencing hundreds of minds, show some integrity Mr. Daley. If you are going to give us your ‘opinion’ please, at least be somewhat objective about those things outside your area of expertise. Just like your prior letter elucidating the perils of Global Warming, a regurgitation of EPA speak, in fact, next time how about the facts, just the facts sir. Thank you! You are concerned with cutting spending like many of us. Why not START with all the foreign and domestic advertising and gifting of free food, housing, college tuition, job training and amnesty for millions of illegal immigrants… or is that more important than our military?

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  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 1:28 pm

    While Rod makes some good points, I had no idea that President Eisenhower was a pacifist and an agenda driven Socialist. Beware of the military industrial complex - Ike.

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  • rodFebruary 08, 2013 - 2:36 pm

    Ike.... the general, was different than Ike the 'politician'. to be both is oxymoronic...but you knew that...right?

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  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 4:14 pm

    Rod, you're right, but with my 31 years of service I can tell you that generals are better politicians than politicians. So much better. In fact, officers above the grade of captain and up would be put politicians to shame. Oh, Pentagon politics, the stuff of professionals. Back to your comment -- was President Eisenhower a pacifist or an agenda driven Socialist, and if not what did he have in mind with his statement about the military industrial complex at the end of his presidency?

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  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 4:16 pm

    *** strike the word "be"

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  • rodFebruary 08, 2013 - 4:49 pm

    Ditto on most of your comments, eventhough generals are political, they are not after public vote. In 1945... 95% + of our GDP was the MIC, don't you think any 'politician' might tone the rhetoric down...dissengage a little? "History does not long entrust the care of freedom to the weak or the timid". Now does that sound like the same guy who wrote, "Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed."? case closed? Still have a lot of respect for the man...the ONLY man that could muster all the forces of such disparate skepticle allies as the english, the ruskies.... and defeat Hitler, Musolini, Franco... capeesh?

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  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 4:59 pm

    I capeech your position, but apparently you believe Ike went Socialist at the end. I don't think so -- we will have to agree to disagree.

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  • James E.February 08, 2013 - 5:03 pm

    ADDED, Ike didn't make his comment in 1945 or 1946 -- it was at the end of his presidency -- late in the year 1960 or early 1961 (just before JFK took over)-- 15 years after the war. Long enough for him to acquire a different view of the military industrial complex.

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  • RichardFebruary 09, 2013 - 7:39 am

    Tom McClintock has a former Naval Aviator who at the pinnacle of his career was Captain of one of our nuke powered carriers working in his office. Rods responds seems to be that of an insider.......

    Reply | Report abusive comment
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