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April 09, 2009

Sec. Gates v. Sens. Inhofe, Chambliss, et al
Posted by David Shorr

Others here on DA and elsewhere have given us all the good defense-wonk stuff, so I'll leave that to them. I want to make sure we don't lose the big political picture for the looming battle over the budget. For so many of the issues on the national security agenda, the true heart of the matter is whether our political culture can rise to a new level of maturity. The tired demagogic weak-on-defense charge is one important test, and worth debunking. As Max and others clarify the issue of what constitutes a "cut," let's talk about whether the politics that surrounds these issues even acknowledges the need for choices in defense policy -- a question on which Secretary Gates was quite eloquent.

When Sen. Inhofe accuses the administration of undercutting those in harm's way, and Sen. Chambliss claims our leaders are willing to sacrifice the lives of servicemembers, they are declaring the defense budget a debate-free zone. Here's how I understand the underlying argument. All programs are essential for the defense of the nation and the safety of our people and our troops. Any money that can be spent, should be spent. Any money that's asked for, should be appropriated. Whatever it is that a weapon system can do, we need that. Is this really how the world's most powerful nation deliberates over its national security? Really?

On this issue, the relevant passage of the Gates speech highlights the need to:

ruthlessly separate appetites from real requirements – those things that are desirable in a perfect world from those things that are truly needed in light of the threats America faces  

All of which to say that if the focus of the upcoming budget debate is about all those great substantive and consequential questions about counterinsurgency and the wars of the present and future, it will be a welcome shift from all this frivolous demagoguery.


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It seems that Chambliss and Inhofe are using the personal safety of service members as an excuse to advocate for useless weapons programs. If Inhofe and Chamblis were so concerned about the well being of American service members, how come they voted for the Bush administration's cuts to the VA from 2001-2006?

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Great comments! You are so nice, man! You never know how much i like'em!

Yes, that's cool. The device is amazing! Waiting for your next one!

As far as I know according to Gates, there's a serious shortage of helicopter hours rather than of helicopters as such, and more trained people will get a lot more of the existing whirlybirds into the air above Afghanistan more of the time.

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