For some strange unexplicable reason, Thomas Donnelly (AEI defense analyst, former PNAC deputy executive director) felt compelled to endorse Sarah Palin's insights on national security issues in an article in the Washington Post Thursday. I resisted the urge to ruin a casual Friday, so here it is today. Tom, what the HELL where you thinking? Were you in fact thinking at all?
"In the conservative ranks and within the party, she's really quite a crucial piece in this puzzle," said Tom Donnelly, a defense fellow at the American Enterprise Institute. "She's got both political and tea-party/small-government bona fides, but she also has a lot of credibility in advocating for military strength."
This was in response to Palin's commentary on SecDef Gates' attempts to control a defense budget that has doubled over the past decade, that has seen acquisition projects skyrocket in terms of cost and schedule delays, that (combined with combat operations) has limited our ability to modernize the force.
"Something has to be done urgently to stop the out-of-control Obama-Reid-Pelosi spending machine, and no government agency should be immune from budget scrutiny," she said. "We must make sure, however, that we do nothing to undermine the effectiveness of our military. If we lose wars, if we lose the ability to deter adversaries, if we lose the ability to provide security for ourselves and for our allies, we risk losing all that makes America great. That is a price we cannot afford to pay."
"Secretary Gates recently spoke about the future of the U.S. Navy. He said we have to ask whether the nation can really afford a Navy that relies on $3 [billion] to $6 billion destroyers, $7 billion submarines and $11 billion carriers. He went on to ask, 'Do we really need . . . more strike groups for another 30 years when no other country has more than one?' " Palin said. "Well, my answer is pretty simple: Yes, we can and yes, we do, because we must."
Honestly, this level of rhetoric might not sound foolish coming out of the mouth of a 12-year old, but this is someone who purports herself to be a national leader in the conservative movement. The ignorance involved in her statement should clang like lead weights in any serious defense analyst's mind. America's greatness isn't solely based on its military power - we've been able to succeed as a nation despite setbacks like Korea, Vietnam, Beirut, and yes, Iraq and Afghanistan today. But really, what puts the icing on the cake is that simplistic mush "we can and yes, we do" spend billions of dollars on modernizing military forces "because we must."
If anything disqualifies Sarah Palin as a serious candidate for national office, it ought to be that statement, that she cannot fathom a situation where we have to reduce the defense budget from $700 billion a year back down into the $300-400 billion a year range. She must have no understanding about the need for defense acquisition reform or to develop a defense budget while recognizing the need to fund the rest of the federal government, because no one who has seriously examined defense issues would make such an idiotic statement.
So, Mr. Donnelly, when you say that Sarah Palin has "a lot of credibility in advocating for military strength," were you misquoted, drunk, half-awake, or merely being a syphocant for the current darling of the Tea Party movement? Do you want to lose all of your own credibility in discussing defense issues within the context of the conservative movement? Or were you just reinforcing the Republican party's usual lack of seriousness when it comes to discussing national security issues?