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Lack of Pentagon Money is Not Our Top National Security Problem

The Pentagon NY Post

The House passed a budget yesterday and we are tempted to start calling it the” Lindsey Graham budget,” in honor of the military-industrial complex’s favorite Senator and his willingness to fund every lobbyist-driven item the defense industry concocts and presents to Congress.

Don’t get us wrong, House Republicans were right to look at Obama’s national security budget and conclude it was dangerously thin, but their budget gimmickry and unwillingness to make tough choices in other areas of the budget – or even choices that should be easy for conservatives – shows that they are unwilling to be honest with the American people and acknowledge that the national security and fiscal challenges facing America intersect.

Back in 2010 then-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen identified our national debt as “the single biggest threat to our national security.”

Like the other threats that have presented themselves during Barack Obama’s tenure this one has gotten exponentially worse on Obama’s watch; in 2010 the national debt held by the public was $13.56, today it is $18.1 trillion and rising.

But the difference between this threat and the threat posed by Obama’s disastrous policy in the Middle East and his open borders policy that has flooded America with toxic immigrants, of both legal and illegal status, is that the debt, which is driven by spending, is the one threat over which Congress has direct control.

Unlike the Houthis in Yemen or ISIS in Syria and Iraq Congress can actually fight the threat posed by the debt – but they prefer not to.

In the analysis of The Wall Street Journal’s Kristina Peterson, as amended, the House budget keeps military spending at the level set by spending caps agreed to in 2011, but adds $96 billion to a separate budget line called Overseas Contingency Operations. That fund, referred to as OCO, isn’t subject to the 2011 caps.

Of the $96 billion in the war fund, $89 billion will go to the Pentagon, with $7 billion heading to the State Department; an amendment passed Wednesday removed restrictions around $20 billion of those funds.

Which brings us to the other issue raised by how the House went about adding money to the defense budget – there’s no guarantee that the money Congress budgeted for the Pentagon will actually be used to confront the threats facing the United States today or in the future.

By putting the added funds in the Overseas Contingency Operations and tweaking the rules House Republicans evaded the spending caps agreed to in the 2011 budget deal, but they won’t make Obama a more effective opponent of the Islamist threat by fighting the cultural war radical Islam has declared on America or stopping the advance of his deal to legitimize Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Nor will they change his retreat from the Pacific or buck-up his weakness in the face of Russia’s aggression in its near abroad nor guarantee an uninterrupted flow of defensive arms to Israel.

What’s more, the Republican budget does nothing real to stop the waste, fraud and abuse that are endemic in the Pentagon budget.

As an example, during 2012, John Sopko, the inspector general charged with monitoring aid sent by the U.S. to Afghanistan, inspected projects, programs, and general issues that totaled $10.6 billion in funding and found nearly $7 billion was potentially wasted.

The inspector general was also sharply critical of the accountability of nearly a half-million weapons supplied to Afghan National Security Forces by the U.S. It found poor record-keeping, security and inventory of guns. Not surprisingly, thousands of weapons were found to be missing during inventory inspections at supply depots.

And one can only imagine that in the chaos that Obama has wrought in Syria, Iraq and Yemen that a vastly worse situation has developed.

In addition to the waste and fraud identified by the inspectors general, the Pentagon budget is chock full of politically motivated earmarks for projects the military says it doesn’t need; green energy and other boondoggles that actually raise the cost of defending the nation that are in large measure driven by revolving door cronyism that comes from insiders moving smoothly between offices in the E Ring and corner suites at the big defense contractors.

Radical Islam isn’t going to be defeated by the kind of big ticket defense projects that make the lobbyists and shareholders of the military-industrial complex rich – it will be defeated by reestablishing American leadership in a long war that is more economic and cultural than it is kinetic.

We take the hollowing out of the military seriously, but those in Congress who claim to support a strong national defense should have started by cutting the politically motivated fat from the budget, and especially the Pentagon budget, before they put $96 billion into what may be little more than an unaccountable slush fund which will do nothing to reverse or amend Obama’s disastrous national security policies.

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