U.S. to become a second-rate power!!
(Cue sound of emergency alarms. Insert graphics for panic, terror, devastation and collapse here ______.)
Yes, believe it, friends. That is exactly what Outgoing Secretary of War Panetta said in a Feb. 1 exit interview with Gannett, when asked what effects looming cuts will have on the War Department if Congress fails to reach a budget deal by March 1.
Red-blooded Senate and House members eager to protect the military from even a rumor of a budget cut will certainly welcome Panetta's words. Whether it will result in the U.S. becoming a "second-rate power" is a little less certain, considering we now spend as much for war as the rest of the world put together, with perhaps the exception of Upper Volta and the Cayman Islands.
To put the Secretary's America-as-second-rate-power fears in perspective, the dreaded "sequestering" of the budget means the Pentagon will have to cut 8 to 9 percent out of this year's $535 billion dollar budget.
In the near term, according to Gannett, the cuts would require the Air Force to throttle back on flight training, the Navy to keep ships in port longer and the Army to reduce utility costs at its posts. The U.S. would be able to handle its commitments in Afghanistan and the Middle East but little else. And continued sequestration cuts over the next decade would leave the Army with only 390,000 soldiers to guard the Empire's reaches.
"We are the world's most powerful military, and we use that to promote peace and stability in the world," Panetta stated. Whether the sequestration cuts would reduce world peace and stability by more than eight or nine percent this year was not clear, nor were any estimates given on peace and stability reductions over the next decade.
"When we're called upon to do other crises, whether it is in Syria or Mali or North Africa or elsewhere, we may not be able to respond," Panetta said"as the Syrians, Malians, North Africans and Elsewherians breathed a sigh of relief.