By William Hartung
Wall Street Journal
7 July 2011
Donald Rumsfeld misses the mark in "The Peril of Deep Defense Cuts" (op-ed, July 1). The $400 billion in cuts proposed by the president are far from deep. We are now spending roughly $700 billion per year on defense. In that context, a cut averaging less than $35 billion a year over 12 years is extremely modest. In fact, since the $400 billion is measured against the Pentagon's unrealistic plans rather than current spending levels, it can be accommodated while allowing the Pentagon's budget to grow with inflation.
The second major flaw in Mr. Rumsfeld's argument is that he is preparing to fight the wrong war. Spending hundreds of billions on troops and big-ticket weapons systems is of little relevance to the most dangerous threats we face. It could not have prevented the 9/11 attacks and had little to do with killing Osama bin Laden. Stopping the spread of nuclear weapons to terrorists is best achieved by fully funding programs to secure or destroy excess nuclear weapons and bomb-making materials—programs that cost a tiny fraction of current military spending.
The real peril is that we might continue to overfund unnecessary weapons projects at the expense of the most effective tools for fighting terrorism and nuclear proliferation.
William Hartung is the director of the Arms & Security project at the Center for International Policy.
Copyright, Wall Street Journal, 2011. Original article available here.