Bill Hobbs on Kerry Memo - Short on Specifics

US Military Weapon Systems

Military spending in the United States is massive. The 2004 budget for military spending asked for $399.1 billion. It takes the military budgets of the next sixteen highest spending nations to equal ours.

Is there no room for budgetary cuts in this long list? Of course there is. Weapons become obsolete, pork is too prevalent, and redundancy can become too unwieldy.

So let's not pretend, as Bill Hobbs does, that suggesting budgetary cuts in the military is working to disarm it. An efficient and focused military will only strengthen our security, not endanger it.

We've seen laundry lists of John Kerry's vote against weapons systems before. If you look at them, you'll see that only a few of John Kerry's votes are being blown out of proportion. When John Kerry voted against a defense appropriation bill that included the entire military budget, is it fair to isolate a few systems and say he opposed them? Why not say that John Kerry voted to completely disband the United States military?

Because that would be ludicrous. So too are these laundry lists. Expanding one vote into ten separate votes against specific systems is just propaganda.

However, Mr. Hobbs has discovered a memo from a 1984 Kerry campaign that does list specific weapons systems for cuts. The context for these cuts, however, isn't provided. On January 16 of that year, Reagan had begun to propose a nuclear-free world. This was because the US military buildup of the early '80s had had an opposite effect on the Soviet military - they went lean and mean. It was not Reagan's hard line that won the Cold War at all - it was his retreat from the hard line that allowed the Gorbachev revolution to take root and flourish.

So John Kerry's memo was in a context of the Reagan Administration signalling a back off from earlier rhetoric and a wild increase in military spending. The Congress was giving Reagan everything he had asked for over the years. Something had to give, somewhere.

None of these proposed cuts would have left America defenseless. Cutting five aircraft and one helicopter with associated missile systems would hardly have decimated our air arsenal and firepower. And plugging the hole of Reagan's feel-good sinkhole of Star Wars could only have released money for more useful and attainable goals.

What Mr. Hobbs needs to address is how would America's military been deficient had these weapons systems been cut. He quotes Vodkapundit's Will Collier:

Just taking the last section, as somebody who's been working on fighter jets and air-to-air weapons for the last decade, I can't even imagine how our armed forces would be able to operate today if Kerry's advice had been heeded.
Vodkapundit: long on rhetoric, short on specifics. There are and were dozens of aircraft systems and missile programs in the military - none of them could have filled the gap left by these few cuts?

And perhaps Kerry's Vietnam service helped guide his thinking. For example, the Sparrow missile performed poorly in Vietnam, yielding less that 10% kill per shot.

Give us some specifics, folks. Otherwise, we can dismiss the use of this memo as more chicanery.