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November 18, 2011

Leon Panetta Has Officially Lost it
Posted by Michael Cohen

Serial exaggerator and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta yesterday spoke in Groton, Connecticut to shipyard workers and said this (see if you can pick out the hidden crazy statement):

There are still threats out there. We face threats from Iran; we face threats from North Korea; we face threats from cyber. This is a whole new world in which cyber-warfare is a reality. It's the battlefield of the future. We face the threats from rising powers -- China, India, others -- that we have to always be aware of and try to make sure that we always have sufficient force protection out there in the Pacific to make sure they know we're never going anywhere. In addition to that, we've got a Middle East that remains in turmoil. We're always going to have to respond to the challenges in that part of the world as well. So when you look at the world that we're dealing with, we still have a lot of threats.

It wasn't the part where he called cyber warfare the battlefield of the future; or when he suggested that US still faces "a lot" of threats . . . it was the part where he suggested that INDIA IS A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES. India!?! In what alternate universe where Leon Panetta apparently has taken up residence is India a "threat" to the United States? 

Now before you ask if perhaps Panetta misspoke or got confused, which is today what his press office is claiming, keep in mind . . . he said basically the same thing a month ago:

From terrorism to nuclear proliferation; from rogue states to cyber attacks; from revolutions in the Middle East, to economic crisis in Europe, to the rise of new powers like China and India. All of these changes represent security, geopolitical, economic and demographic shifts in the international order that make the world more unpredictable, more volatile and, yes, more dangerous.

It's a gaffe when you say it once. It's something else when you say it twice. This all comes on the heels of Panetta's claim that returning the US to its fiscal year 2007 defense budget would "invite aggression." When I wondered at the time who that aggression might come from . . . apparently it's India.

And not only is Leon Panetta continuing to make hyperbolic statements about the US position in the world he is expressing some rather odd budgetary priorities for a liberal Democrat. Here's what else he said yesterday:

The federal budget is roughly about $4 trillion. About a trillion of that is in what's called discretionary funds on the domestic side and on the defense side. Three-fourths of the federal budget is wrapped up in entitlement programs. And I said, you know, you've cut the hell out of the discretionary side of the budget. You've taken steps; I'm going to implement those cuts. But the time has come, if you're serious about deficit reduction, you got to take on the three-fourths of the budget that has grown incredibly over these last few years, and you got to deal with revenues. 

To be clear Panetta is right that the discretionary side of the budget has been cut like hell . . . but not the defense budget, which rose annually by 9% from 2001-2009. Now granted the Pentagon is taking a budgetary fiscal and will be taking a more serious one if sequestration happens, but let's at least acknowledge that the DoD budget has been on quite the upward trajectory for the past decade. 

But that of course isn't the worst part of what Panetta said. That came when in urging the Congress to cut entitlement spending for old people and poor people he told Congress to "lead" on the issue:

I really urge the leaders in the Congress, I urge this committee: Suck it up, do what's right for the country. You know, I think the country wants these people to govern. That's why we elect people, is to govern, not to just survive in office. We elect them to govern. That involves risks, that involves tough choices, but that's what democracy is all about.

After all nothing says political courage like shredding the social safety net so that the US can preserve a bloated DoD budget to fight phantom security threats like India.


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Thought it'd be nice to have a real live person in the comments for a change. As discussed in an exchange on Twitter, I take Michael's point about the Groton speech gaffe, but don't read the earlier speech as having the same problem. When the category is: "changes represent[ing] security, geopolitical, economic and demographic shifts in the international order" that demand major adjustments from the US, India's rise not out of place on the list.

I think he is just preparing the field for raising the defense budget. The US already has a budget >4x what China's is and more than 19x that of India. I think we can easily back down to 2007 levels and not affect our ability to wage war. I am most in favor of reducing the waste, fraud, and abuse in the defense budget. Once we know what we are REALLY spending, then we can make rational decisions about what to cut.

I wonder if US is planning to invade India next!??

I wonder if US is planning to invade India next!?? really??

Such a good writing, or by I saw for the first time. I'm quite happy, you are a good writer !

what about the suggestion - INDIA IS A THREAT TO THE UNITED STATES.

hello!! Very interesting discussion glad that I came across such informative post. Keep up the good work friend. Glad to be part of your net community.

There is no paradise on earth equal to the union of love and innocence.

At twenty years of age, the will reigns; at thirty, the wit; and at forty, the judgment.

Joined states exceptionalism represents the way of thinking that the Joined Declares is qualitatively different from other nations.

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