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'Illusion of Choice'

8:54 AM, Aug 3, 2013 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Mackenzie Eaglen, writing about the weakening of the military:

Yesterday at the Pentagon, Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel unveiled the results of his Strategic Choices and Management Review (SCMR). The belated effort sought to think through the options — many unsavory — available to the military should sequestration and its $500 billion defense budget cuts remain law for the rest of the decade.

Secretary Hagel’s cafeteria menu of options for policymakers should sequestration continue is so unpalatable because this is not the first round of defense budget cuts. Sequestration’s $500 billion in Pentagon reductions come on top of the close to $1 trillion in military spending cuts already enacted under the Obama administration.

The bottom line of the Pentagon’s review: Secretary Hagel says the choice will be between a smaller and modern military or a bigger and older one. The harsh truth is that the result of sequestration will actually entail both: The US military is set to become both smaller and less modern in course of this defense drawdown. Readiness continues to fall under all options and scenarios, as well.

As the boss writes in an editorial this week:

This is all utterly unnecessary and shockingly irresponsible. We have never been wealthier as a nation than we are today. We have never been technologically more advanced. The challenges we face are less daunting than those our forefathers dealt with. Our young men and women who have volunteered since 9/11 are at least the equals of the generations who have gone before. The attack on 9/11 is still fresh in mind, and the prospect of a world in which terror is rewarded, the enemies of liberty flourish, and nuclear weapons proliferate is clear enough ahead.

The good news is that all this is manageable at a far lower percentage of gdp, with a smaller military and with fewer troops in combat, than was required for most of the last 70 years. The good news is that our current enemies aren’t really that strong or clever or formidable. But they do need to be fought and deterred. That requires a military that is technologically preeminent and globally present. And if our enemies are not deterred, they can still produce terrible destruction and fearsome chaos.

But of course the problem isn’t our enemies. We have met the enemy of American greatness. The enemy is us. 

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