Nice piece in the New York Times on Tuesday, previewing Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta’s much-anticipated announcement of almost a half-trillion in defense cuts over the next decade.As Mark Thompson just noted, not a whole lot of details. We are told that the U.S. military will no longer plan to fight two wars simultaneously – long a preferred fantasy. Now, it will be able to fight one big war (guess who that is), plus be able to spoil another’s attempted dirty deeds (let’s say Iran’s counter to Israel’s attack on its nuclear facilities).
Budget-cutting types, like the always smart – and fellow Battleland blogger – Gordon Adams, are unimpressed. Adams is quoted in the piece as saying we’re still largely in an arms race with ourselves. We’ll hope for more detailed commentary here after a while. My point here is merely this: the cuts couldn’t be announced until the case was made over the previous months about the compelling need to execute a “strategic pivot” from southwest Asia to East Asia to counter rising and dangerous China. This “floor” had to be laid down before any cuts were floated, because this becomes the red line (pun intended) that cannot be crossed!
Yes, the red line is mostly about protecting major Air Force and Navy platforms and the contractors who build them (the much fabled industrial base), but if the past decade has shown anything, we’re moving rapidly away from such classic metal monsters toward all manner of small-and-cheap-and-disposable-and-unmanned vehicles – aka, the swarming forces of tomorrow.
But even there the Navy and Air Force need protection, so the infamy of the Bush-Cheney wars must be erased, the Army and Marines re-cut (continuing the post-Cold War “transformational” dream of a ground force-less military) and the Chinese re-elevated as the “big war” enemy of choice.
We are being sold a vision of the world that the Pentagon needs – not one that exists.
In truth, we still face a vast world of messy small wars, insurgencies, terror networks, hacking and – yes – nations to be stabilized and built-up. And our biggest ally in all of this will be the Chinese, not by choice but by necessity on both sides. We don’t have the money and they don’t have the skills.
But with globalization continuing to integrate unstable and less-developed regions at high speed (like Africa, thank God), that requirement not only doesn’t go away, it simply grows with time.
But that is not the preferred enemy of our Pentagon facing deep cuts, and so we are sold this alternative reality, which, by the way, makes Obama seem the tough-on-China-guy president as he faces re-election.
These are delusions stacked upon delusions.