Sequester and National Security: Will We Ever Learn?

National_Security_Agency_sealBattleships and other assets at sea, Air Force planes overseas, Marines on land and sea, and not least, diplomats abroad, many in dangerous posts, trying to ensure peace and security, American interests and our citizen’s well-being, along with aid workers helping to save children in danger and distress; you all now have less to work with in a still dangerous and unpredictable world. 

For the Department of State does it mean less security at Embassies? The Republicans in Congress were all over the administration about the attacks on Benghazi, but happy it seems, to put our entire diplomatic missions at threat because of possible cuts in security, intelligence gathering, and other security related programs? Hypocrisy by the crazy GOP in Congress is on high, at the cost of endangering our service people and diplomats abroad. So much for real moral acts and responsibility!

For the Department of defense it means a cut of some $46 billion and some 9.4% in FY 2013, but really an average of 13% excluding the protected military pay, over the next seven months. It also means likely unpaid furloughs for as many as 800,000 civilian workers due to no fault of their own.  Also delayed are deployments of our forces and a decreased maintenance on ships, planes and armor. Many experts think that this kind of cut is possible in our over funded military budget, but this is NOT the way to do it…….a scalpel to unneeded programs yes, not a meat clever to all despite their importance or need. As the Financial Times said today, “It is hardly an ideal moment to become a US defense secretary.”  Its editorial headline included the comment: “Chuck Hagel’s biggest problem will be Congress,” and I would concur with this insight. The FT calls for Congress to give discretion over where the cuts fall. To this I concur.

Congress left town yesterday and will hold an uneventful White House meeting after House Speaker Boehner made it clear that there would be no compromise on raising revenues. His Tea Party base was very happy to see the draconian cuts to our national security, diplomatic, and discretionary domestic budget that helps our poor and unemployed, so that the rich could enjoy their wealth even more fully.

In a larger perspective, it hurts our national security. This silly action by the Republicans has made both our friends and allies as well as our competitors and opponents wonder about our resilience, wisdom, and commitment. This is NOT good. At the moment when Secretary Kerry is trying abroad to solve or, at least improve numerous challenges in “danger” spots and to confront very intractable conflicts many, which require added resources, when there is much less in our “tool box” and less respect for our word and leadership, even while the U.S. undertakes new initiatives to solve, with our allies and friends, the key issues of the day.

Finally, the impact on domestic growth, unemployment, investment in science and technology, health care, and infrastructure will impact the fundamental basis of our national security, especially if the sequester continues for more than a few weeks.  So, hold your hats and reflect on the meaning of all of this.  

After reading this article, be sure to look at our Student National Security-Foreign Policy Solutions Essay Contest page to submit your essay today!

Secretary Kerry’s Remarks at the University of Virginia

SECRETARY KERRY’S REMARKS
AT THE UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA
CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA
FEBRUARY 20, 2013

“The kids whose lives we’re helping save from AIDS, the women we’re helping free from the horrors of sex trafficking, the students who for the first time can choose to walk into a school instead of into a short life of terrorism – their strongest lobbyists are the rare, committed Americans who stand up for them and for the resources we need to help them. And I hope that includes all of you.”

“I’m particularly aware that in many ways the greatest challenge to America’s foreign policy today is in the hands not of diplomats, but of policymakers in Congress. It’s often said that we can’t be strong at home if we’re not strong in the world, but in these days of a looming budget sequester that everyone wants to avoid, we can’t be strong in the world unless we are strong at home.”

We will continue to post more quotes from Secretary of State John F. Kerry’s first foreign policy speech in the coming weeks.

Read the full speech here: http://www.foreignpolicy.com/files/fp_uploaded_documents/130220_SECRETARY%20KERRY.pdf

After reading this article, be sure to look at our Student National Security-Foreign Policy Solutions Essay Contest page to submit your essay today!