BY TAYLOR MARSH

A senior Pentagon advisory group recently sent a strong message to Barack Obama. But if he follows their lead, will President Obama pay for it just like former President WJC, or candidate John Kerry? Not around here he won’t, because facts refute the uninformed.

“Not sustainable” were the words. Scaling
back or eliminating “prized weapons programs”
must be a priority.

A senior Pentagon advisory group, in a series of bluntly worded briefings,
is warning President-elect Barack Obama that the Defense Department’s current
budget is “not sustainable,” and he must scale back or eliminate
some of the military’s most prized weapons programs.

The briefings were prepared by the Defense Business Board, an internal management
oversight body. It contends that the nation’s recent financial crisis makes
it imperative that the Pentagon and Congress slash some of the nation’s most
costly and troubled weapons to ensure they can finance the military’s most
pressing priorities. […]

Insert wingnut caterwauling here.

But this is nothing new. I wrote
about it in 2004
as well, when John Kerry was getting lambasted for doing
what people like Dick Cheney did too. WJC went through it, even though it was
George H.W. Bush, Dick Cheney and Colin Powell who not only cut weapons systems,
but believed it critical to our national security agility.

Let us review:

“After completing 20 planes for which we have begun procurement, we
will shut down further production of the B-2 bomber. We will cancel the small
ICBM program. We will cease production of new warheads for our sea-based ballistic
missiles. We will stop all new production of the Peacekeeper (MX) missile.
And we will not purchase any more advanced cruise missiles. … The reductions
I have approved will save us an additional $50 billion over the next five
years. By 1997 we will have cut defense by 30 percent since I took office.”
– President George Herbert Walker Bush (State
of the Union
, 1992)

From none other than Dick Cheney
(emphasis added):

Overall, since I’ve been Secretary, we will have taken the five-year defense
program down by well over $300 billion. That’s the peace dividend. …
And now we’re adding to that another $50 billion … of so-called peace
dividend.

Cheney proceeded to lay into the then-Democratically controlled Congress
for refusing to cut more weapons systems.

Congress has let me cancel a few programs. But you’ve squabbled and sometimes
bickered and horse-traded and ended up forcing me to spend money on weapons
that don’t fill a vital need in these times of tight budgets and new requirements.
… You’ve directed me to buy more M-1s, F-14s, and F-16s—all
great systems … but we have enough of them.

We have enough of them.

Fred Kaplan also noted Colin
Powell’s rhetoric as well:

The Republican operatives might also have noticed Gen. Colin Powell, then
chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at the same hearings, testifying about
plans to cut Army divisions by one-third, Navy aircraft carriers by one-fifth,
and active armed forces by half a million men and women, to say noting of
“major reductions” in fighter wings and strategic bombers.

Granted, these reductions were made in the wake of the Soviet Union’s dissolution
and the Cold War’s demise. But that’s just the point: Proposed cuts must be
examined in context. A vote against a particular weapons system doesn’t necessarily
indicate indifference toward national defense. […]

It’s obvious why I take the time to point this out as President-elect Obama ramps up his new administration at a time of supreme national peril, which is always the case when there is a changing of the presidential guard. (See 1993 and 2001, for two American examples, one Democratic and one Republican because terrorists aren’t partisan, or Spain if you prefer.)

The tradition of Republicans
taking advantage of moments like the present when the Pentagon advises the Democratic
president (or politician) to “scale back or eliminate some of the military’s
most prized weapons programs,” because they’re “not sustainable” is part of history.
Advice from military and weapons experts inside the Pentagon, even when their own leaders follow it, is always
ignored from the wingnut side of things giving blowhards like El Rushbo and
Sean Hannity and other ignoramuses talking points that defy what’s good for
this country, using them against Democrats every time. Unfortunately, their lies can also work.

You can write the script yourself, I’m sure. Obama is going to cut defense! President-elect Obama plans to weaken our military!! President Obama will destroy our national security, because Democrats are… blah-blah-blah.

Again, we’ve been here before. But it’s even more important to them now since Republicans have lost their military and national security advantage.

So, let’s remember it when the wingnuts start rhetorically clubbing Obama-Biden
over their heads, even as they do exactly as military advisors and
senior Pentagon experts ask. Being correct has never been a good enough defense for
Democratic defense prowess before, especially against a fearmongering right-wing whose wounded, down and out, but still dangerous for a new Democratic president.