Donald Rumsfeld: 5 Questions with Decker; 'Defense Spending Isn't the Cause of the Deficits'

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 22, 2012 | Go to article overview

Donald Rumsfeld: 5 Questions with Decker; 'Defense Spending Isn't the Cause of the Deficits'


Byline: Brett M. Decker, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Donald Rumsfeld served twice as U.S. secretary of defense, first under President Gerald R. Ford and more recently for President George W. Bush. His long career in public service began as a Navy pilot and Illinois congressman and went on to include stints as director of the Office of Economic Opportunity, director of the Economic Stabilization Program and ambassador to NATO during the Nixon administration. Mr. Rumsfeld was chief of staff in the Ford White House before being sent to the Pentagon. A member of numerous federal commissions with extensive private-sector experience, he was CEO of G.D. Searle pharmaceutical company and General Instrument Corporation. Secretary Rumsfeld's memoir, Known and Unknown (Sentinel), which hit No. 1 on the New York Times best-seller list, was released in paperback earlier this year.

Decker: In the Oct. 11 vice-presidential debate, Joe Biden repeatedly criticized what he characterized as profligate Republican plans to increase defense spending. Given the many diverse dangers out there, what is the appropriate size for the U.S. military today?

Rumsfeld: The trillion-dollar deficits and the ballooning debt amassed by the Obama administration will crush future generations. Further, they send a signal to the world of American weakness. They must be dealt with. The fact is, throughout the Eisenhower, Kennedy and Johnson administrations, the United States was spending roughly 10 percent of gross domestic product on defense. Today, we are spending about 4 percent of GDP on defense. Obviously, defense spending isn't the cause of the deficits. They have been caused by entitlements and the failure of the government to tackle them. As to the size of our military, the goal is not to win a war, but to prevent a war. Weakness is provocative. Our armed forces have to be a sufficient deterrent so we contribute to peace and stability, without having to engage in a conflict. It is better to have one too many tanks than one too few.

Decker: The Obama administration's bungling before and after the murder of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens in Libya has been shocking to witness. Other than dead diplomats, what are the consequences when a superpower's leaders don't take its role and responsibility in the world seriously?

Rumsfeld: The Obama administration's attempt to deflect responsibility and attribute what was clearly an organized heavy-weapons attack on an American consulate to a so-called spontaneous demonstration or to a YouTube video that almost no one had seen makes so little sense that it can only be characterized as a cover-up. For the president to then leave for a political event in Nevada - rather than address the murder of four Americans, including our ambassador, and the protests and riots in some 22 locations around the world - reflected seriously misplaced priorities. It is a disappointing failure to provide leadership, and that absence of U.S. leadership has created a vacuum that is being filled by countries that do not share our values or interests.

Decker: Asian nations concerned about a hegemonic Beijing are rapidly building up their arsenals. Does China pose a threat to its neighbors in the region and to U.S. national security, and what should America's posture be toward the Middle Kingdom?

Rumsfeld: China has been strengthening its military capabilities with double-digit, defense-budget increases for the last decade, so there is clearly a seriousness of purpose which we must recognize. …

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