Jon Basil Utley is associate publisher of The American Conservative.
The sequester is messy, but itâ€™s a vital first step in bringing government spending under control. Scary reports of less infantry training, delayed shipbuilding, and fewer hours flying for fighter pilots are all part of what Ivan Eland calls, â€œFiremen First,â€ the way government tries to terrify taxpayers any time there is an effort to cut waste and expense. Our military was designed for instant mobilization to fight off a Soviet invasion of Europe. Today no nation has the ability to launch an effective first strike, and the president has not in fact threatened to dismantle our nuclear deterrent. So â€œreadinessâ€ can only mean being ready to start another war.
Even if we do have cuts to â€œreadiness,â€ we can easily wait a year with less readiness while we reform Pentagon spending. One aircraft carrier to attack Iran instead of two? Even one carrier has the power to destroy any third world nationâ€™s defenses, vital industry, and communications. And we have hundreds more bombers just minutes away on land to attack Iran from Persian Gulf bases. Is having one carrier on station instead of two a disaster of sequestration? And what about our cruise missiles and long-range bombers? Isnâ€™t Americaâ€™s power still very redundant?
Former congressman Barney Frank asked our generals at congressional hearings if we really still need the triad of ICBMâ€™s, submarines, and long-range bombersâ€”altogether amounting to thousands of nuclear weaponsâ€”for war with a weakened Russia. Wouldnâ€™t two delivery systems be enough?
Sequestration seems to be the only way to force a debate in Washington about our grand strategy and about Americaâ€™s real strengths and weaknesses. Does America really need so many redundant forces? Are we still focused on re-fighting World War II again with carriers, bombers, and fighter planes? When every missile on each fighter-bomber can hit its target, do we still need so many at the cost of $300 million each? When every nuclear missile can land within yards of its target, do we still need so many? When we have promised ourselves never again to invade a land power in Asia, do we need so much infantry? Do we need a thousand bases overseas and 4,000 within the U.S.? Shouldnâ€™t we heed the greatest war historian of all, Sun Tzu, about how to fight our wars? Shouldnâ€™t we recognize that America canâ€™t win wars against guerrillas, especially with a neighboring sanctuary? Are we now going to have a new war in north Africa? Congressmen who say we must â€œwinâ€ in Afghanistan appear to expect a delegation of Taliban to sign surrender documents on a warship like the Japanese once did.
Sequestration is not something to postpone again. It is the beginning of the real battle against a future of unending wars, loss of our own constitutional freedoms, the creation of new enemies abroad, a declining standard of living, and eventual loss of our Republicâ€”replaced with a bankrupt empire. This is what the real fight is about.