A Chart Is Worth 1,000 Words

  • Share
  • Read Later

Todd Harrison, the defense-budget whiz over at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, has a new report out on how the prospect of sequestration might affect the Pentagon. Lots of interesting data.

But it was a slide from his briefing that caught Battleland’s eye. It simply charts, adjusted for inflation, the amount of money the nation has invested annually in its military since World War II.

Kind of provocative when you realize it shows that we’re spending well above the Cold War average, even without adding in the funding for the Iraq and Afghan wars. Battleland stares at the blue chunk of the chart, rising and falling with the world’s turbulence, but seeing its basic, steady rise since 1947.

The ascendancy kind of resembles the Himalayas. Folks warning of disaster following any more budget cuts seem a little like novice mountaineers standing on the 28,251-foot summit of K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, and complaining that Everest’s 29,029-foot peak is higher.

2 comments
Sort: Newest | Oldest
Zbigniew M. Mazurak
Zbigniew M. Mazurak

Wow, Mark Thompson has once again proven that he doesn't even know to read a simple chart, and has once again proven his utter ignorance. He says that

"Kind of provocative when you realize it shows that we’re spending well above the Cold War average, even without adding in the funding for the Iraq and Afghan wars. Battleland stares at the blue chunk of the chart, rising and falling with the world’s turbulence, but seeing its basic, steady rise since 1947."

But the US is NOT spending "well above average". Furthermore, the blue chunk of the chart has NOT experienced a "basic, steady rise since 1947". It has seen significant increases... and dramatic cuts, in cycles. It rose during the Korean War but was deeply cut afterwards; was significantly hiked by the Kennedy and Johnson Admins but deeply cut throughout the 1970s; significantly hiked during the Reagan years but deeply cut afterwards; and significantly increased during the Bush and early Obama years. No, this is not a "basic, steady rise"; it's a zigzag, an unconsequentional, unsteady, unstable course of ups and downs.

The chart is, by the way, GROSSLY incorrect. The DOD has NEVER had a $700 bn budget, not even at the height of the Afghan war, and its total current budget is $645 bn per the FY2012 NDAA. Any claims to the contrary are false and designed to mislead.

Thompson has also utterly failed to understand (or is deliberately misrepresenting) what we defense conservatives are saying:

"The ascendancy kind of resembles the Himalayas. Folks warning of disaster following any more budget cuts seem a little like novice mountaineers standing on the 28,251-foot summit of K2, the world’s second tallest mountain, and complaining that Everest’s 29,029-foot peak is higher."

But that's not what we're saying. What we're saying is that if sequestration (i.e. an additional $600 bn of across-the-board defense cuts) is allowed to proceed - on top of all the defense cuts already implemented and scheduled, including the $487 bn in defense cuts mandated by the First Tier of the BCA, the military will be gutted. That is a fact proven by empirical data, including the specific warnings from Sec. Panetta and the Joint Chiefs on what they would have to cut, and empirical data from the HF and other defense experts. With a $469 bn defense budget, the DOD would, in any way, have no choice but to gut the military, because $469 bn is simply not even close to enough to defending America (to say nothing of defending America's allies). Not enough for the nuclear deterrent, tactical aircraft, the Navy, missile defense, etc.

Congratulations on exposing your utter ignorance and stupidity yet again, Mr Thompson.