Defense fact check

Defending Defense: Defense fact-check

Download PDF
“Governor Romney’s plan calls for…$2 trillion in additional military spending that the military hasn’t asked for.”  —President Obama, First Presidential Debate, October 3, 2012

The president has repeatedly attacked Governor Romney’s plan to restore baseline military budgets to roughly 4 percent of domestic product as unnecessary spending that the Joint Chiefs of Staff don’t want.  In the vice presidential debate, Joe Biden went even further, claiming it was the service leaders who “made the recommendation first” to make the latest round of cuts, which total almost $500 billion. “That’s a fact,” asserted the vice president.

No, it’s not.

The fact is that this round of defense cuts was first proposed by President Obama on April 13, 2011.  In an attempt to preempt the budget-cutting fervor of the House of Representatives’ Republican leadership, he said he would trim roughly $400 billion from the defense plan that he had submitted to Congress in February 2011.  The president did not even inform Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, who was set to retire that June, about the proposed cuts.

And no wonder.  Secretary Gates had already declared his opposition to such an approach: “Suggestions to cut defense by this or that large number have largely become exercises in simple math, divorced from serious considerations of capabilities, risk, and the level of resources needed to protect this country's security and vital interests around the world.”

And so President Obama has, conveniently, rewritten the standard of military strategy to conform to his defense-budget-cutting desires.  But as The Washington Post has observed, the president’s defense guidance rests “upon the dubious assumption that there will be no need to fight land wars in the coming decade … The shrinking Navy, in turn, is at odds with Mr. Obama’s strategy of building up forces in Asia against a belligerent China.” 

The Post also rightly pointed out that Governor Romney is simply proposing to “fully fund the four-year plan laid out by the Defense Department.”

In other words:  This “additional” spending previously was asked for by the Joint Chiefs of Staff and recommended to Congress by President Obama himself.

As commander-in-chief, President Obama has the prerogative to define U.S. defense strategy downward.  But he does not have the prerogative to define defense facts.  And he certainly should not hide behind the Joint Chiefs of Staff when he does so.

Also Visit
AEIdeas Blog The American Magazine
About the Author

 

Thomas
Donnelly

 

Gary J.
Schmitt

 

Mackenzie
Eaglen

What's new on AEI

We still don't know how many people Obamacare enrolled
image The war on invisible poverty
image Cutting fat from the budget
image Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation
AEI on Facebook
Events Calendar
  • 15
    MON
  • 16
    TUE
  • 17
    WED
  • 18
    THU
  • 19
    FRI
Tuesday, September 16, 2014 | 5:00 p.m. – 6:00 p.m.
The Constitution as political theory

Please join us for the third-annual Walter Berns Constitution Day Lecture as James Ceasar, Harry F. Byrd Professor of Politics at the University of Virginia, explores some of the Constitution’s most significant contributions to political theory, focusing on themes that have been largely unexamined in current scholarship.

Wednesday, September 17, 2014 | 8:10 a.m. – Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 1:30 p.m.
Third international conference on housing risk: New risk measures and their applications

We invite you to join us for this year’s international conference on housing risk — cosponsored by the Collateral Risk Network and AEI International Center on Housing Risk — which will focus on new mortgage and collateral risk measures and their applications.

Thursday, September 18, 2014 | 2:15 p.m. – 3:00 p.m.
Speaker of the House John Boehner on resetting America’s economic foundation

Please join us as Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) delivers his five-point policy vision to reset America’s economy.

Friday, September 19, 2014 | 9:15 a.m. – 11:00 a.m.
Reforming Medicare: What does the public think?

Please join us as a panel of distinguished experts explore the implications of the report and the consumer role in shaping the future of Medicare.

Event Registration is Closed
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.
No events scheduled this day.