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Mercredi, 16 Novembre 2011 21:33

Military Budget Cuts Will Get Us All Nuked, and 4 Other Lies

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If you haven't been following Washington's agonizing debate over the defense budget, let us summarize it for you: Cutting the Pentagon's allowance will kill your grandmother. Maybe the family dog, too. But definitely granny.

It's one thing to brace for the pain of cuts that will probably slice $450 billion over 10 years from the defense budget. But it's quite another to pretend, for the sake of leverage in Congress or to stroke a political or military constituency, that those cuts will open America's ramparts to the barbarians. After all, even the hugest cuts imaginable will mean the U.S. spends $4 trillion on the military over 10 years instead of $5 trillion.

Yet day in and day out, new Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, members of Congress, think-tank wonks and journalists offer up steaming piles of hysteria over the defense budget. News flash: The Pentagon's nightmare scenario of cuts north of $800 billion over a decade ain't gonna happen. But since the hysteria is only going to increase over the next week, as a "Super-Committee" of legislators wheezes to meet its Nov. 23 deadline for cutting the federal budget, it's time to compile a list of the most lunatic, paranoid, factually challenged, intelligence-insulting predictions on offer about the dire impact of defense cuts. Do it for grandma.

It's not just some dirty hippie's dream. It's what Leon Panetta says will be a reality under "sequestration" — the budgetary term of art for the defense cuts that will be imposed if the Super-Committee fails. The cuts would "Eliminate [the] ICBM leg of Triad," Panetta wrote to Sen. John McCain on Monday.

Translated from the wonk, that means no more intercontinental ballistic missiles. All 450 of them? Crated away.

No. Just — no. Iran looks like it's building a nuclear weapon. North Korea still has its own. And the Pentagon would allow the entire ICBM fleet to wither on the vine? Leaving the U.S. nuclear deterrent to be delivered only through relatively expensive bombers and submarines? Absolutely inconceivable. Demagogic. No.

Photo: DoD

Military Budget Cuts Will Get Us All Nuked, and 4 Other LiesSpencer Ackerman is Danger Room's senior reporter, based out of Washington, D.C., covering weapons of doom and the strategies they're used to implement.
Follow @attackerman and @dangerroom on Twitter.


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