You get what you pay for. Well, sometimes, anyway — but apparently not with the U.S. military. For while its 2018 budget of $716 billion is four times China’s and 10 times Russia’s, a new report finds that we’re losing our military edge and could potentially lose a war to either of those two nations.
As SFGate.com reports:
The National Defense Strategy Commission, comprised of former top Republican and Democratic officials selected by Congress, evaluated the Trump administration’s 2018 National Defense Strategy, which ordered a vast reshaping of the U.S. military to compete with Beijing and Moscow in an era of renewed great-power competition.
While endorsing the strategy’s aims, the commission warned that Washington isn’t moving fast enough or investing sufficiently to put the vision into practice, risking a further erosion of American military dominance that could become a national security emergency.
At the same time, according to the commission, China and Russia are seeking dominance in their regions and the ability to project military power globally, as their authoritarian governments pursue defense buildups aimed squarely at the United States.
“There is a strong fear of complacency, that people have become so used to the United States achieving what it wants in the world, to include militarily, that it isn’t heeding the warning signs,” said Kathleen Hicks, a former top Pentagon official during the Obama administration and one of the commissioners. “It’s the flashing red that we are trying to relay.”
… "The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict. It might struggle to win, or perhaps lose, a war against China or Russia,” the report said. “The United States is particularly at risk of being overwhelmed should its military be forced to fight on two or more fronts simultaneously.”
As with the Roman Empire — which eventually lost much of its military advantage partially because “barbarian” tribes eventually became acquainted with Roman ways — commission co-chairman Eric Edelman said that the Russians and Chinese have learned from our successes. Edelman, a top Pentagon official during the Bush administration, warned that the two nations are preparing for a kind of “high end” warfare that we “really haven’t engaged in for a very long time.”
The commission recommends devoting more resources to the military (spending more money). Yet while this may or may not be wise, there are the obvious questions: Given that we’re spending 10 and four times as much as, respectively, the Russians and Chinese, shouldn’t our military be far superior? And if it isn’t, why aren’t we getting more bang for the buck?
In fairness, our standards may be higher, as we want to be able to defeat a major foe while simultaneously keeping other threats at bay. Moreover, we spend $156 billion annually just to operate our 800 globe-peppering overseas bases, according to author David Vine. Being the world’s hegemon isn’t cheap.
Yet another factor is waste. Government isn’t known for efficiency, and this problem is exacerbated by political self-interest. Just consider, for example, that Congress passed a bipartisan 2013 bill blocking future domestic military base closings — because elected officials don’t want jobs lost in their states.
Even more egregious, consider what the Daily Bell’s Joe Jarvis relates: “A friend who used to work in the Pentagon told me about the end of year budget meetings he had to attend. There, military personnel would frantically brainstorm ideas on how to spend the rest of their budgets. If they didn’t spend every cent, next year’s budget would be cut.”
“‘Popcorn makers?’ someone suggested. ‘Or perhaps some sort of group outings, to an event or a show,’” he continued.
This led to the Air Force spending $300,000 over the last few years on coffee mugs. “But these aren’t just any coffee mugs,” informs Jarvis. “These attach to an airplane’s control panel, and keep the coffee hot! Soup too — they will keep soup hot as well. Quite versatile.”
Price tag? A mere $1,200 — that’s for each one.
Well, maybe flyers can dump that scalding-hot coffee on Russian or Chinese troops.
Yet a perhaps more fundamental problem with our military is hard to boil down to dollars and cents: priorities. I doubt the Russians and Chinese are wasting time, resources, and brainpower trying to figure out how to integrate homosexuals, women, and “transgenders” into their militaries. They aren’t measuring military success based on Equality Dogma. They aren’t focused on social engineering, but on engineering better weapons, strategy, and tactics — and future victories.
It much reminds me of the film Rocky 3, in which famed fictional boxing champion Rocky Balboa, now wealthy and involved in frivolity, was slacking off on his training; meanwhile, challenger Clubber Lang was putting his nose to the grindstone, deathly serious about delivering a title-winning death blow.
Unfortunately, we have far more to lose than just a heavyweight belt. It’s common for people to project their own mindsets onto others, and today’s Americans are egalitarian people who believe in the brotherhood of man. But this view is far from universally embraced worldwide.
China, in particular, aspires to be the world’s dominant power and appears to believe it deserves such status. Notable here is a speech allegedly given by former Chinese defense secretary Chi Haotian in 2005, in which he suggested that biological weapons could be used to exterminate Americans and make room for Chinese colonization.
• The Chinese must tolerate America, conceal their “ultimate goals” and “capabilities and await the opportunity [to strike].”
• Their race “is superior.”
• The Chinese “are entitled to the possession of the land [ours].”
• The Nazis failed in world conquest because, in part, they were “too soft.”
• Solving the “issue of America” and “cleaning up” the United States “is the mission assigned to CCP [Chinese Communist Party] members by history.”
Of course, even if authentic, there’s no saying Chi’s prescriptions represent official Beijing policy. What is certain is that ours always has been and still is a dangerous world — and there’s no valid principle known as “peace through weakness.”
Photo: U.S. Air Force