Magazine article The American Conservative

Reshaping the Pentagon

Magazine article The American Conservative

Reshaping the Pentagon

Article excerpt

The systemic crisis now beginning to engulf the United States, Europe, and the global economy will bring drastic cuts in our defense spending. There is no other way to balance the federal budget without raising taxes. In this and the next four On War columns I will suggest means by which we can reduce defense outlays without endangering national security. Subsequent columns will look at each of the four armed services. Here, I want to lay out the assumptions that will shape our New Model Defense Department.

The first is that the maximum the country will be able to afford for national security will be $100 billion annually--about 10 percent of what we are spending now. That would still give the United States the world's highest defense budget. The $100 billion figure is generous; our national finances may be so bad we have to spend less.

Second, our real defense requirements reflect our geography. In terms of threats from other states, we are an island. We face no hostile armies to our north or to our south, nor at present any threatening navies to our west or east--you may safely disregard the U.S. Navy's game of puffing the Dragon. Though the non-state, Fourth Generation danger from the south is real and growing, we should deal with it as a law-enforcement problem for as long as possible.

Third, our post-collapse foreign policy will be that recommended by Sen. Robert A. Taft. American armies will no longer be spreading "democracy" in the Hindu Kush, nor along the banks of the Euphrates. Our defense budget need only be adequate for defending our territory and citizens.

Fourth, consistent with a Taftian foreign policy, our grand strategy will be defensive. If other countries, cultures, and peoples leave us alone, we will leave them alone. If they attack us, we will wipe them off the planet and out of history.

Fifth, our armed services will be reoriented toward the threat posed by Fourth-Generation war, war waged by non-state entities. We will neither plan nor structure our forces for war with other states, although we will retain a residual capability for defensive state vs. state warfare, especially at sea and in our nuclear deterrent. We will avoid land and air war against other states as a matter of grand strategy. In such conflicts, the losing state is likely to disintegrate, creating yet another fertile field for Fourth Generation entities. …

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