While the push to defund cops has been drawing a lot of attention (and rightly so, given the many violent protests), there’s another defunding push on the horizon. This one will target our troops — and Bernie Sanders, who has emerged as the policy shot-caller in the Democrat Party, is behind it.
The recent fire on USS Bonhomme Richard (LHD 6) served as a reminder that our military in general is in need of rebuilding. Like any other organization, a fighting force and its systems can become outdated. In September 2001, President George W. Bush committed it to fight the asymmetrical war against Jihadistan — but a huge error of omission during an otherwise strong response put a lot of unnecessary strain on the force.
Then our Department of Defense took hard hits from eight years of Obama-Biden neglect. The F-22 Raptor, for example, saw production halted way too soon (with now-deceased Republican Senator John McCain giving Obama cover to do so). We saw the Navy decline, and the carrier force in particular was badly mismanaged, including the USS Enterprise (CVN 65) being sent to the scrap yard.
Thus, after years of hard use under the Bush administration and years of reckless cuts on Obama’s watch, our military was overdue for investment. But despite its initial infusion of cash for the Pentagon, the Trump administration has fallen off the necessary pace. The Navy needs more hulls in the water, and urgently so. The Air Force needs more front-line squadrons, especially with Russia and China becoming more belligerent and teaming up. Both the Army and Marines need some serious rebuilding, especially as they’ve taken on the brunt of the burden from the operational requirements of the Global War on Terror.
Many on the Left (and some on the Right) believe that our Pentagon budget is bloated, but maintaining a strong military is as much about deterrence as it is actual combat readiness. Otherwise, a nation with grander global ambitions might consider a conflict with the United States to be a good bet. We are arguably at that point now with China, which has carried out a massive naval buildup over the last two decades.
The stakes in 2020 seem obvious. A Biden victory would have a number of deleterious effects for a host of conservative policy goals, including a modernized military. If our forces are subjected to even four years of neglect during a Biden administration, the geopolitical fallout won’t be pretty.