Let’s start with Thomas Donnelly and Gary Schmitt’s vile op-ed at War Is Good for Business — aka the Wall Street Journal (emphasis mine):
On Monday, Defense Secretary Robert Gates announced a significant reordering of U.S. defense programs. His recommendations should not go unchallenged.
In the 1990s, defense cuts helped pay for increased domestic spending, and that is true today. Though Mr. Gates said that his decisions were “almost exclusively influenced by factors other than simply finding a way to balance the books,” the broad list of program reductions and terminations suggest otherwise. In fact, he tacitly acknowledged as much by saying the budget plan represented “one of those rare chances to match virtue to necessity” — the “necessity” of course being the administration’s decision to reorder the government’s spending priorities.
However, warfare is not a human activity that directly awards virtue. Nor is it a perfectly calculable endeavor that permits a delicate “balancing” of risk. More often it rewards those who arrive on the battlefield “the fustest with the mostest,” as Civil War Gen. Nathan Bedford Forrest once put it. If Mr. Gates has his way, U.S. forces will find it increasingly hard to meet the Forrest standard.
Donnelly and Schmitt do not tell us why it’s wrong or inappropriate to “match virtue to necessity” — especially when the necessity (domestic spending) has been neglected for so many years in order to pay for military programs that don’t address real defense needs and exist only or largely as a sop to the wildly, unimaginably lucrative weapons systems industry.
Put another way, Donnelly and Schmitt have some atrocious nerve when they accuse Gates of cutting defense spending to pay for domestic “entitlement” programs, when for the last eight years, the right has been gunning for limitless military spending with no accountability at the expense of every other real and legitimate need in this country — and just days after Republican “leaders” in Congress unveiled an “alternative” budget that called for rolling back the recently passed economic stimulus package and freezing ALL new non-military spending for five years.
Now, if we had actually gotten something valuable from having a separate, off-the-books budget for war spending during the Bush administration — like, oh, say, the capture of Osama bin Laden, increased respect and admiration for Americans around the world and for democratic values in general, reduced levels of terrorism, a greater sense of well-being and safety at home, and a lowered risk of more terrorist attacks in the United States — maybe all that spending would have been worth it.
As it is, however, we are being asked to continue starving the human needs of our own people — and, indeed, to worsen the suffering and deprivation — in order to transfer all of the economic resources Barack Obama is proposing to spend on (and has already allocated to) unemployed, economically dislocated Americans drowning in an ocean of bills and debt that cannot be paid, foreclosures and evictions, losing health insurance or not having had it to begin with, waiting for hours at food pantries and in welfare offices (and believe me, I know whereof I speak), to good-for-nothing missile defense programs and defense contractors who the only thing they are drowning in is miles and piles of legal tender.
And yes, I know that’s a run-on sentence and could use a little grammatical reworking, but it expresses what’s going on in my head and in my heart the way I want it to.