The Sequester And National Defense

As of now the Sequester has been modified to a degree by the House of Representatives, but it remains to be see whether the Senate will modify what the House has done, and if indeed the Senate will go along with those modifications at all — or even if the two bodies will in the end agree on anything.

Republicans in both houses of Congress are, of course, worried primarily about Defense Department cuts. This is, not so much about their magnitude but rather about the across-the-board nature of the cuts. All this despite the fact that the nation spends nearly 50 percent of what the world spends on defense and more than the next 10 nations spend on defense combined. The Defense of the nation will, one would think, be just fine even if the Defense Department budget were cut by 50 percent — not all at once, of course, but over time.

It’s hard to see what those Republican hawks are worried about. Given the state of military developments it’s really time to pull back anyway. The time has come to re-evaluate our military options. Warfare has become substantially more automated than in the past. If what I read in the papers is correct surgical strikes with smart bombs and drones — or even just the threat of such actions may be all that is needed in some instances. The size of nuclear arsenals and, indeed, the whole nature of warfare needs to be rethought. In fact, the Defense Department appears to agree.

Of course, I’m not a military man so I am not clear on how it will all come out. I’m just going by what the Defense department has said. We have just left Iraq and we are about to leave Afghanistan. Hopefully we can help turn down the volume in Syria, and talk the North Koreans and the Iranians into not doing anything stupid, all the while steadily decreasing the military in America, and redefining our options with respect to standing armies and the whole nature of warfare for the future.

This whole Sequester thing may turn out to be, for want of a better word, amusing. The GOP and President Obama spent a month staring each other down and well, while there were heated words and theories about dire or not so dire outcomes exchanged, no on blinked and here we are. The markets are “pleased as punch” to use an old phrase of Hubert Humphrey. President Obama took twelve of the most angry Senators Lindsay Graham could find to dinner this evening and early reports are that everyone got along just fine.  Whatever can be the matter?


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