It’s Not Just the Politicians Who Have Cheapened the Defense Debate
I recall from early in my career when Sen. Barry Goldwater (R-AZ) took to the floor of the Senate to attack the allegedly scurrilous report that the B-1 bomber would cost as much as $60 million a copy: in truth, it turned out to cost $200 million per copy. I also remember when Sen. Dale Bumpers (D-AR) opposed keeping battleships in the Navy because of their “teak deck:” In peacetime, the Iowa class battleships did lay wood on top of their 7.5 inch thick steel decks. No one needs to be reminded that Congressman Buck McKeon (R-CA) and Leon Panetta (formerly D-CA) have termed any further cuts in the defense budget to be “catastrophic:” If returning to 2007 levels of defense spending is so terrible, why did Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates not tell us back then?
Such outrageous statements are so ignorant that you have to assume the politicians knew they were full of baloney when they made them. They probably assumed no one would check up on them or that such bunkum “will go around the world while the truth is still pulling its boots on.” (Thank you, Mark Twain.)
Think tanks have been a part of the Washington scene since at least the end of World War II. People expect them to have competent research and logical analysis behind their comments. That can be a perilous assumption. A recent example occurred just after Christmas when the Director of the Heritage Foundation’s Center for Foreign Policy Studies invoked the name of a chief architect of the F-15 and the F-16 (and more) in a commentary to promote the F-22 and the F-35. The willfulness of the ignorance is something that senators Goldwater and Bumpers and today’s Pentagon budget boosters would recognize.
There are other characteristics of the debate on the F-22 and the F-35 that need to be recognized as badly misinformed, especially that either one is an asset to our air forces.
Four of us worked with that genius who, among many other things, had a fundamental role in two of the most successful fighter designs in recent aviation history, Col. John Boyd. We took profound offense at the ignorant and misleading assertion that he had anything but derision for the F-22 and the thinking behind the F-35. In response, we wrote a commentary–not just on the aircraft but also on the depths to which the Washington debate on these subjects has sunk.
Find our comments at any of the websites that follow, and below:
Time magazine’s Battleland blog at
Descent into Ignominy
The Heritage Foundation Then and Now
By Thomas Christie, Pierre Sprey, Chuck Spinney & Winslow Wheeler
Almost 30 years ago, in 1983, The Heritage Foundation stepped forward as a thoughtful, independent thinking participant in the then-raging debate over Ronald Reagan’s defense budget increases. In one of its major policy publications, Heritage published an insightful analysis with an unambiguous conclusion: “The increased spending secured by President Reagan should afford significant improvements in force size. It does not.” (See Agenda ’83: A Mandate for Leadership Report, Richard N. Holwill, ed., The Heritage Foundation, 1983; see chapter 4, p. 69 of “Defense” by George W.S. Kuhn.) The analysis was crammed with data and straightforward logic as it made the case for real reform in America’s overpriced, underperforming defense budget.
Since then, Heritage has come a long way in defense policy analysis, all of it downward.
Read full indictment.
Phi Beta Iota: The corrupt government is surrounded by thousands–perhaps tens of thousands–of corrupt second-string piglets. While most people are good people trapped in a bad system, the net result is that everyone lies and the public trust is betrayed. The truth at any cost lowers all others costs. 2012 is the year in which we battle for the soul of the Republic.