In a previous post, I mentioned the need for agency consolidation and promised to elaborate when I spoke about national defense, so that’s where I plan to start.
The DOD budget is far too clandestine. Otherwise, $21 Trillion wouldn’t be “missing” between 1998 and 2015 from the DOD and HUD budgets. The claim of secrecy will always be justified by the excuse for national security, but the public who pays the bills deserves to know where their money is being spent, even if they don’t always know exactly how the money is being spent.
So, here we go…
First, I recommend we consolidate as much as we can under the Department of Defense to eliminate waste and redundancy. We may need infantry, air support, and a strong navy, but do we need all the separate branches of military to achieve the desired goal? What about the different branches of special forces or military intelligence? That’s a lot of infrastructure and support redundancy.
Included in the consolidation, we need to address the roles delegated to the National Guard, Coast Guard, Border Patrol, Homeland Security, DEA, ICE, etc.
Why do we need a separate Border Patrol or Homeland Security when we already have a military?
Every effort of every one of those agencies should be consolidated for a single purpose, which leads to my second step.
Second, every consolidated agency needs to operate with an America-first priority. That means we secure our own borders first (I’ll address that in a future post about immigration reform) and our national interests abroad second.
That means we must be honest about our national interests.
To be specific, what business do we have interfering with the sovereign decisions of other nations, even if we vehemently disagree? We can argue all day long about WMDs and the potential geopolitical threat they pose, but our defense of Kuwait or invasion of Iraq should have been handled by a cooperative council of Middle Eastern states closest to the threat. If Turkey is truly an ally (they’re not), they should have led the charge without our involvement.
The same goes for Afghanistan. We should have learned from Russia. Instead, we inserted ourselves in the Russian/Afghan conflict and helped create Al-Qaeda. Then, we started the fool’s errand of repeating Russia’s mistake.
North Korea is different because they’re not simply an existential threat. If the reports we hear are credible, they have actually threatened our existence. The same is true of Iran. Those threats need to be dealt with.
In the case of North Korea, the threat should be addressed locally by their Russian and Chinese neighbors, and if that doesn’t work, then we need to eliminate the threat.
In the case of Iran, the threat should be dealt with by the same cooperative council of Middle Eastern states that should have handled Kuwait and Iraq. And, yes, that coalition should include Israel, since they have been directly threatened and reside in the Middle East. If that doesn’t work, we should eliminate the threat.
We need to stop inserting ourselves where we don’t belong, but that doesn’t mean we never engage, which leads me to the final three steps.
Third, if we are going to maintain an America-first defense posture, we need to either (1) withdraw from NATO and UN “peacekeeping missions” altogether, or (2) completely redress the mechanisms that trigger our involvement. We are not the world’s police force or military.
Fourth, we need to adopt a concrete policy of diplomacy first, with war as a last resort. If that’s supposed to be our current war doctrine, our world war-fighting presence certainly wouldn’t back it up.
If we’re forced to send our men and women into battle, we need to be resolute. We either fight to win, and win decisively, or we don’t fight at all. No more Geneva Convention-style handcuffs, and no more nation-building.
If we’re forced to engage in battle, the loser can rebuild their own nation. If an adversary doesn’t want to experience the pain of loss and the cost of rebuilding, maybe they shouldn’t instigate a fight with a world super-power who only vows to fight as an absolute last resort to diplomacy. That should be our line in the sand.
This next point is going to be controversial, but it’s necessary, so if I may quote General Sherman, “War is hell.”
Unfortunately, there will always be collateral damage in battle. We should avoid civilian casualties whenever possible, but we shouldn’t allow them to be used as human shields, effectively incapacitating our ability to fight. When that happens, the civilian deaths should be properly attributed to the people using them as shields.
Fifth, we need to consider consolidation and/or closure of bases abroad wherever our presence is not absolutely critical. To be effective in the face of true crisis, we should maintain bases abroad in a few strategic locations, but the scope of our present footprint is far too broad and far too costly.
Those are my ideas. To further the discussion, what say you?