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Cutting Defense spending by $25 billion here, $23 billion there...

COMMENTARY | June 09, 2007

It doesn’t matter that there’s a war going on, some of the spending is obviously wasteful. The excesses are well-documented and easy to find, except, perhaps, by reporters and editors who choose not to look for them.

By Morton Mintz

"We the people of the United States" set out fundamental goals in – to paraphrase the Preamble slightly – ordaining and establishing the Constitution. One was to "provide for the common defense;" another was to "promote the general welfare." For decades, however, the government has been driven by unadmitted goals which effectively promote the private welfare – of a bloated Pentagon bureaucracy, of campaign-contributing defense contractors, and of the lawmakers who support both – at the expense of the common defense and the general welfare.

One of these goals is to buy staggeringly expensive weapons systems that are unnecessary, that don't or can't work and that are designed for wars that will never be fought. The mainstream press pays insufficient attention to this incredibly wasteful, damaging performance. Some nonprofit groups, such as the Center for Defense Information and Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities, scrupulously document outrageous Pentagon spending – but the mainstream media don’t pay much attention to them, either.

Business Leaders for Sensible Priorities recently released a report by analyst Lawrence Korb that reached an eye-popping conclusion: "America can save at least $60 billion mostly by eliminating weapons systems designed to deal with threats from a bygone era – weapons and programs that are not useful in defending our country from extremists or the other threats we now face."

The 16-page paper is called The Korb Report: A Realistic Defense for America. Its author has hard-to-beat credentials, having served in the Reagan Administration 1981-1985 as Assistant Secretary of Defense for Manpower, Installations, and Logistics. He's now a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress and a CDI senior advisor.

Here's the broad breakdown of the savings that Korb targets and that he says would not only leave "more money to spend on other priorities, but...would also make our military stronger":

  • "About $25 billion...by reducing the nuclear arsenal from 10,000 warheads to no more than 1,000, more than enough to maintain nuclear deterrence, and by keeping National Missile Defense in a research mode and preventing the weaponization of space."
  • "About $23 billion...by scaling back or stopping the research, development and construction of weapons that are useless to combat modern threats. Many of these weapons, like the F/A-22 fighter jet and the DDG-1000 Destroyer, were designed to fight threats from a bygone era."
  • "Another $5 billion...by eliminating forces, including two active Air Force wings and one carrier group, which are not needed in the current geopolitical environment."
  • "And about $7 billion...if the giant Pentagon bureaucracy simply functioned in a more efficient manner and eliminated many of the nearly 3,000 earmarks in the defense budget.

The report lays down an implicit challenge to editors and reporters and moderators of debates in the 2008 presidential, House and Senate campaigns: End the see-no-evil tradition and ask candidates hard questions raised by the waste Korb documents.

On the report’s last page, in large type, is an admonishment by President Dwight D. Eisenhower: "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. This world in arms is not spending money alone. It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists and the hopes of its children."

Posted by Kim Reading -
07/08/2007, 05:45 AM

I agree with most of this except for the part about the F-22 research. We need to be on top of stealth research. China is currently researching a stealth fighter and we don't want to be left out there.

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