Fewer Toys for Pentagon

Bill Neinast


Snatching a toy from a two year old produces an immediate reaction.  There will be a predictable tantrum of crying, screaming, and feet stomping.

Such a tantrum is occurring in the Pentagon at the moment.  The budget for personnel and materiel has been curtailed by the sequestration and other congressional actions.  This means there will be fewer “toys” in the generals’ sand boxes.

Instead of taking a mature look at what is required for the nation’s safety and security in the current environment, there is vigorous hair pulling, gnashing of teeth, and predictions of national catastrophes.

Admittedly, the strategists and planners have access to classified information not available to the general public.  What they know might affect the following discussion of the facts that are readily available in the news media.

Today, there is no large, well equipped military force capable of crossing the borders of this country.  The military threats to the U.S. are from individuals and small disparate, disorganized, and poorly armed groups of terrorists.  Most countries, and especially the U.S., are capable of defending themselves against those threats.

The countries like Syria, Egypt, and Libya that are embroiled in civil wars against the para-military forces that have emerged internally do not pose a threat to our shores.  So now is the time for the U.S. to accept and acknowledge that it is not the policeman of the world.  

Every country needs to accept responsibility for its own safety and let the chips fall where they may.  What difference does it make in New York or Houston whether the Muslim Brotherhood or some other group controls Egypt and other countries?

Europe, which was the incubation hot house for most wars through the last centuries is now a tranquil neighborhood of cooperation. Twenty eight of the nation-states on that part of the globe are now members of the European Union (EU).  Although not a mutual defense organization, the EU binds its members into an economic support organization that makes it unlikely that any member would undertake military action against another of its partners.

NATO is still alive and well in the area.  This military alliance also includes 28 members, some of which are in the EU and some, like the U.S., are not.  

Two aspects of NATO make it highly unlikely that Russia, one of three countries still powerful enough to attempt an aggressive expansion of its territory, will become aggressive in the area. 

First, the NATO treaty provides that an attack on any member is an attack on all.  Second, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Bulgaria and most of the former members of the Soviet Union are now members of NATO.  

As this should keep Russia in check, there is no need for a U.S. military presence in Europe short of a nominal force to keep our feet under the table at NATO headquarters.

Moving to the Middle East, the experiences of Russia and the U.S. in Afghanistan, and the coalition forces in Iraq, Pakistan, Libya, Egypt, and Syria indicate clearly that foreign intervention in those areas is a senseless waste of lives and money.  The only downside to a complete withdrawal is that it would place Israel at greater risk of annihilation and leave the possibility of a Caliphate being enthroned over the entire region.

Because of our insular location, however, it would not be possible for even a multinational Caliphate to mount an armed invasion of our shores.  In addition, our intercontinental bombers, missiles, and drones are capable of making such an attempt futile.

That leaves China and the Far East.  

First to have problems there would be Taiwan and Korea.  Is there any difference between China reassuming sovereignty over Hong Kong and Taiwan, both traditional parts of China?  The dire predictions of the death of Hong Kong when Great Britain withdrew in 1997 have not occurred.  

The same applies to Taiwan.  Why should American lives be spent to protect a Chinese island that became the sanctuary for Chiang Kai-shek fleeing Mao Zedong and his communist dictatorship?

Even though China probably has designs for enlarging its empire, the chances of it launching a successful invasion of the West Coast over the thousands of miles of the Pacific are remote.  Besides, the amount of money that our children and grandchildren owe the Chinese makes us that country’s chicken that lays golden eggs.  Who would want to kill that source of income?

Finally, what about Japan and Korea?  After ¾ of a century of free protection for those countries, if they cannot now defend themselves, they never will be able to do so.  Will we then furnish protection with American lives and money into infinity?

So here’s the perspective.

This is not a suggestion to reduce the Department of Defense to a shell.  The suggestion is to reappraise our role as the world’s policeman.  

We have spent way too many lives and dollars in protecting other countries from themselves and their neighbors. 

Maintaining peace is the responsibility of the United Nations, but we muscled that organization out of the way so that we could be the big man on the block.

We may need to keep minimal forces in places like NATO, Israel, and Korea to act as trip wires.  Any tripping of those wires would trigger a U.S. response with international missiles and drones.  Such retaliation capacity can be maintained with a force much smaller and cheaper than under the current budgets.

We have gone way above and beyond the call of duty.  It is time now to rest and let the Pentagon learn to play with fewer toys.


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