Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been proving his loyalty to his real constituents — the defense contractors, not the country or you and me — by telling anyone who would listen that a tiny cut to our defense budget would doom the nation and the world. Former CIA agent Barry Eisler bluntly says he’s full of shit.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta wants you to be scared.
In a letter to Senators Lindsey Graham and John McCain, Panetta warned that after possible cuts in the military budget, “we would have the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.”
Which would be pretty damn bad… if we wound up having to go to war with America’s 1940 army, 1915 navy, or some historical version of America’s Air Force. If we’re lucky, though, and don’t have to go to war with past incarnations of our military, Panetta’s comparison is logically nearly irrelevant. In fact, even the most massive cuts currently under consideration would return American military spending only to 2007 levels. So as long as we don’t have to go to war with our 2007 military, we should be okay.
If Panetta had been interested in logical relevance, though, he wouldn’t have referred to the past at all. He would have focused on the present, and in the present, we spend more on our military than the rest of the world spends combined. And we spend more than five times more on our military than the second biggest military spender, which is China (numbers 3 and 4 are France and the UK, American allies).
But Panetta doesn’t want you to know these numbers. If you did, you might laugh at him when he describes military cuts as meaning “doomsday” for America.
The rest of Panetta’s Very Scary Letter is equally misleading. “You cannot buy three quarters of a ship or a building,” he warns. Well, true, three quarters of a ship wouldn’t be very useful. I mean, it would be like three quarters of a bullet, or something! But you could settle for, I don’t know, say, nine out of the twelve new ships you wanted — three quarters overall. Either Panetta is too stupid to know this, or he’s hoping the public is too stupid to notice it for him.
The closest Panetta comes to anything specific about America’s defense needs is to note that cuts would be bad for contractors. At which point, you start to get a feel for what really drives him and who he really represents.
Now here’s the most ridiculous part. Faced with these very reasonable criticisms, Panetta’s spokesperson responded with this Tweet:
@barryeisler Calling the US mil a special interest is insulting to those who risk their lives to protect your freedom to call them that.
Ah, of course, the “why do you demean our troops” response whenever anyone dares to question whether the military should be getting such a huge chunk of our money or should be invading nations full of brown people every few years. It’s the kind of thing that is laughable to all but the most deluded simpleton. Eisler didn’t insult American soldiers, for crying out loud; he said that Panetta’s arguments about why a miniscule cut in the defense budget would destroy the world are false. And they are. Instead of responding to those perfectly valid criticisms, he responds with emotional demagoguery. With Democrats like Panetta, who needs Republicans?