When critics charge President Clinton with expanding the power and
scope of the federal government, he likes to counter with the argument
that he has actually cut U.S. spending.
The fact of the matter is he has “paid for” much of his new social
spending programs with dramatic and dangerous cuts in U.S. military
capability and preparedness. Worst of all, Clinton’s ax has been
wielded more recklessly than his predecessors, who were also responsible
for downsizing the military.
Consider a few facts: The defense budget has been cut, in real terms,
for the last 14 consecutive years. During the Eisenhower administration,
the U.S. spent 16 percent of its gross domestic product on defense.
Today, we spend 3 percent. Back then, the defense budget accounted for
62 percent of federal spending. Today, it’s down to 15 percent.
Since 1990, active Army ranks have been reduced from 770,000 to
495,000. The Army currently has 10 active combat divisions compared to
the 18 it had at the start of Operation Desert Storm in 1991. What’s
293,000 reservists; two reserve divisions; 20 Air Force and Navy air wings with approximately 2,000 combat
232 strategic bombers; 13 ballistic missile submarines with 3,114 nuclear warheads on 232
500 ICBMs; four aircraft carriers; 121 surface combatants and attack submarines, plus all the support
basing, transport and logistic access, tanks, armored fighting vehicles,
Four of the 10 remaining divisions — the 82nd Airborne, the 101st
Air Assault, the 3rd Infantry and the 1st Cavalry — are considered
contingency divisions and would be the first to deploy in the event of a
major conflict. The 2nd Infantry Division is already deployed in Korea.
The remaining five divisions are expected to deploy in the event of a
second front or nearly simultaneous major theater contingency or as
reinforcements for a wider war. All five have significant personnel
shortfalls. Captains, majors and NCOs are in particularly short supply.
Despite the dwindling manpower and resources, during the Clinton
administration, U.S. military forces have been asked to perform many
more missions than they have in the past — most of them under the
auspices of the United Nations and NATO. During 1997 alone, for
instance, the 1st Armored Division was directed 89 times to provide
personnel for “peacekeeping” operations. The average soldier involved in
such operations was deployed for 254 days out of the year.
“We’re in a more threatened position than we have probably been in
the history of this country,” exclaimed Sen. James Inhofe, R-OK and a
member of the Senate Armed Service Committee, in assessing the
reduction of forces. “We’re at one-half the defense force we had in
1991. We don’t have a national defense system!”
The U.S. has been slashing the military budget every year since the
Cold War ended with the idea that the major threat to American security
has been eradicated. What most officials have missed is the fact that
new and different threats have emerged — China, radical Islam, rogue
terror states, new nuclear threats. Is it necessary to point out the
tragic irony that the same administration responsible for this
unilateral disarmament of the United States is responsible for helping
Beijing modernize its military communications and nuclear targeting of
American cities with illicit transfers of sensitive technology?
An even worse oversight is the fact that Russia remains a serious
long-term potential war-time adversary.
Just last week, for instance, the Washington Times reported that
Russia’s strategic bomber forces carried out simulated nuclear bombing
raids against the United States in exercises that included test firings
of long-range cruise missiles. Hasn’t anyone told them the Cold War is
More likely is the fact that our potential adversaries have
recognized the fact that in cutting military capability so radically,
America has provided them with new opportunities, new hope of defeating
us in a future war.
President Ronald Reagan preached “peace through strength.” And it
worked. President Clinton, who once admitted he loathed the military,
has not only taken a wrecking ball to the finest armed forces in the
world, he has demoralized them with politically correct social
experimentation and hopeless global “peace” crusades.
And he calls this “cutting government.”