Senator Obama has proposed a cut in ALL aspects of the U.S. military. His proposal includes ending the deployment along with the research and development of missile defense systems, reducing the number of active Army and Airforce units, reducing the number of naval ships and the systematic reduction of ALL procurement of new weapon systems. This cannot have any other effect than to significantly reduce overall capacity to wage war by our military. Yet this type of change has been implemented before.
President Jimmy Carter implemented many of these ideas during his administration. The net effect was an overall drop in capacity and efficiency within all aspects of the U.S. military. As it turned out, President Carter (And the U.S.) did not need the military to be up to scratch.
The overall point here is that many of the changes proposed by Senator Obama are NOT new. Many of the economic policies he proposes were also implemented by the Carter administration. One of his economic advisors is Paul Volker, who was head of the Federal Reserve during the Carter administration. Remember him? Inflation fighter by raising interest rates up to 22 percent. He has been given credit for defeating inflation. Of course, all new presidential candidates use former administration officials in an advisory capacity. But this is not new either.
President Regan did not implement many new ideas either. The so-called ‘Regan’ economics or ‘supply’ economics were just a shift back to many of the fundamentals that this country’s economy was founded upon.
President Carter was fond of saying how Democrats liked and looked forward to change. He had the advantage of having his party control both houses of Congress at the time, so implementation of change had few obstacles to hold them back. They were effective in creating change. The concept of ‘Stagflation’ WAS new. The problem was, many of the changes were not positive.
Please note how I have not discussed President Clinton. His administration took over after a huge victory by arms over Iraq. The military was downsized significantly during his administration. However, after the previous decade of increased spending and the victory in Gulf War I, the U.S. military had some slack to adjust. Also, during the Clinton administration, no wars of any duration occurred. The supply of ammunition ran low during our bombing of Serbia, but this problem has been around a long time. The point I would like to make here is that the new President in 2009 will inherit a situation that is more like 1977 than 1993. In both cases, after a prolonged, unpopular war that the military has been fighting on a peacetime budget. Probably one of the most significant differences here is that the wars today in Iraq and Afghanistan are much, much smaller than our involvement in Vietnam. No two situations are exactly alike.
I don’t know politics well, but I do know that many of the ideas that Senator Obama is proposing are not new. Of course, the result may be different. The variables present are so many and so vast that a repeat is unlikely. However, the general pattern looks similar. We may not get the same results, but I would expect something similar.
One final potential difference: The U.S. just may need the military to be in far better shape than it was during the Carter administration. The war today has the potential to become much larger. Our current enemies are far less likely to ‘turn their ships around’ in order to avoid nuclear warfare. If this became a reality, the U.S. would be at a much greater disadvantage than if we did not favor ‘change’. In many cases, this is only a minor problem. However, in warfare, men die as a direct result. The question at that point would be, how many would we lose and how bad would it be?