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Pentagon Attacked for Doing Its Job

Both American and Chinese officials have slammed the release of the Pentagon’s “Air-Sea Battle”—a war-planning document focusing on China—as damaging to U.S.-China relations. The criticism centers around concerns that the plan, which models potential scenarios for a future war between the U.S. and China, is both alarmist and irresponsible.

Alarmist and irresponsible? Far from it.

One of the main functions of the Pentagon is to predict and prepare for future threats. Given the tension between the U.S. and China, the Pentagon would be irresponsible if it didn’t to plan for the worst.

Planning for war does not make war more likely. The Pentagon needs to think through the possibility of war with China and to think seriously about what the U.S. would need to prevail in such a conflict.

The Chinese are certainly doing the same thing. But because China’s state-controlled media doesn’t carry that news, China is spared this kind of bad publicity and can go ahead and plan efficiently.

Many people in the U.S. are not going to be happy with the cost of our new Asia policy. The “pivot to Asia” is not a plan for slashing defense budgets. It’s reasonable to debate how much it’s going to cost to manage our foreign policy in Asia. And it’s a fair assumption that politicians will need to examine Pentagon shopping lists skeptically. You should never give any bureaucracy everything it wants.

But what’s happening in Asia is serious business. Peace is never cheap. War, however, is even more expensive. The shift to Asia will involve increasing some defense capabilities, and the Pentagon needs to take these changes into consideration along with the overall political situation.

There really is no other way to handle this.

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  • thibaud

    Nice to see some sanity emerging from the Artists Formerly Known as Libertarians.

    A great power needs a strong state and a well-funded military. The sole superpower capable of managing China’s rise ESPECIALLY needs a well-funded blue water navy. It cannot be done on the cheap.

    Some day, another generation of Americans will look back at the Grover Norquist / Tea party phenom as we look at the Brother John Birch Society of the last century: a temporary flight from reason that was checked and expunged before it could do major damage to a great nation.

  • Luke Lea

    If China were a democracy this wouldn’t be a problem. But China is not a democracy, yet, and we must contain her. But who is we? Why not all the democracies together. Share the burden.

  • Jim.

    The sad thing is, China has been able to find some useful idiots in this country who want to follow this piece of [international advice].

  • Gerald Owens

    Last time I checked, the Tea Party was not in favor of slashing the military budget, but the transfer payments, which are the life blood of the spoils system that their beneficiaries (present and future) stoutly believe shall and must be preserved.

  • thibaud

    #4 – here’s the TP’s leading intellectual light, such as it is, on his view of the state – which would include the military: “I want to shrink it down to the size where we can drown it in the bathtub.”

    When it comes to foreign policy, these jokers are isolationists. Not to be taken seriously.

  • thibaud

    Paul Ryan’s absurd proposal would slash the ENTIRE discretionary budget – including the military – to 3.5% of GDP by 2050!

    That’s not even enough for us to have all the bread-and-butter federal law enforcement, FAA, FDA, SEC etc agencies – let alone the highway and other huge federal spending programs whose largesse Rep. Ryan is so determined to grab for his own district.

    Ryan’s proposal would indeed starve the military. Maybe not drown the baby in the bathtub, as Uncle Grover would wish, but enough to cripple it.

  • Jim.

    Paul Ryan’s budget, though courageous in a limited way, does far too little to address the Boomer Transfer Payment abomination. Ryan is too far to the Left in his proposals.

    We need real reforms (aka reductions) in Medicare and Social Security. Once those are in place, there will be money for a robust defense.

  • thibaud

    Just for you, Jim, the latest New England Journal of Medicine analysis that notes per-capita Medicaid and Medicare spending is increasing at a LOWER rate than private payer health spending. The growth in spending in Medicaid has to do with expanded enrollment ie our recent correction of the scandalous failure to cover everyone properly instead of wasting money on absurdly expensive ER treatments for this population:

    “Evidence from the past decade shows that increases in enrollment have contributed greatly to spending growth, and forecasts for the next decade suggest that this trend will continue.

    Over the past decade, spending growth per enrollee slowed in Medicare and Medicaid, and per-enrollee growth rates in the next decade are projected to be very close to the expected growth in GDP per capita.

    “These data do not support the need for major restructuring of either [Medicare or Medicaid].

    “Between 2000 and 2005, Medicare spending per enrollee grew about 7.2% annually, as compared with 9.1% growth among private payers.

    “Between 2006 and 2010 … growth in Medicare spending per enrollee slowed to 4.2% annually, as compared with 4.5% among private payers.”

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