Battleland

New Defense Strategy: Why Wait For The Details?

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JIM WATSON/AFP/Getty Images

President Obama details his new military strategy at the Pentagon last Thursday as Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, left, and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta listen

You may recall Battleland’s advisory last week that it was too early to conclude whether the Obama Administration’s new Pentagon strategy makes sense. That’s because the devil is in the details, and they won’t be known for another month – when the Defense Department unveils its 2013 budget.

But when you’re an editorial writer with an itchy trigger finger writing for a major newspaper, sometimes you can’t wait for pesky details and other assorted facts. As Detective Joe Friday might phrase it today: Just the spin.

Bottom line: the New York Times generally approves of the scant outline provided by President Obama and the nation’s high military command at the Pentagon last Thursday to its liking (A Leaner Pentagon):

“It will mean a significant reduction in the size of the Army and Marine Corps,” says the Times. “…No one should feel sorry for the Pentagon: It has had a blank check for a decade, and even with these cuts, the budget will continue to grow.”

…while the Washington Post was less impressed (A Reduction in Force read the editorial’s headline in the print edition, but online it’s President Obama’s defense strategy rests on shaky assumptions):

“No one wants war with Iran or North Korea, but if one occurs, a major U.S. land force will be needed for a prolonged period,” warns the Post. “…this raises the question of whether the scale of the defense cuts the president is considering is appropriate.”

Their contrasting views are especially interesting because the editorial pages of each paper are run by former Battleland comrades (Andy Rosenthal at the Times, and Fred Hiatt at the Post), who used to cover the Pentagon for those papers back when the Cold War was yet to be history. If a pair of ink-stained wretches can’t see eye-to-eye on how to retool the nation’s military, don’t hold your breath waiting for the rest of the country to agree – even once all the facts are in.

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