Regrettably, this lesson appears to have been missed by Mr. Obama and his advisers. The administration has made it clear that they intend to cut defense spending -- even though we are at war -- despite the job losses it would entail. Just days before the inauguration, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel stated in televised interviews that "on an annual basis, we have about $300 billion in cost overruns" from the Defense Department. The interviewers on NBC and PBS failed to ask him to identify where he found these "overruns" in a $527 billion wartime budget. It apparently doesn't matter. This week, the Office of Management and Budget ordered the Pentagon to show how it can cut $55 billion from the fiscal year 2010 defense program.
To "stimulate" action in this direction, the Congressional Budget Office helpfully pointed out that "savings" of $18 billion could be "realized" by reversing Mr. Obama's pledge to increase the sizes of the U.S. Army and Marine Corps and instead cutting the number of Army combat brigades and reducing the Marines' end strength. The green-eyeshade gang at the CBO also pointed out that $2.1 billion could be "saved" by increasing health care charges for the dependents of military personnel. That should help morale.
Additional "savings" have been identified by others on Capitol Hill. Reps. Barney Frank and Barbara Lee have announced that they want to "trim" what they call "Cold War-era" weapons from the 2010 budget. Included in their "cut list" are the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter ($6.1 billion), the F/A-22 Raptor ($4.5 billion), the Marines' V-22 Osprey ($1.3 billion), the DDG-1000 destroyer ($3.5 billion) and the Army's Future Combat Systems ($3.7 billion).
Even though Iran succeeded in putting a satellite in orbit this week -- demonstrating the capability to launch nuclear-tipped ICBMs -- Rep. Frank persists in claiming that ballistic missile defense ($8.9 billion) is on the chopping block, as well, adding, "We don't need all these fancy new weapons."
In an increasingly dangerous world, in the midst of a war and serious global economic woes, this kind of thinking is lunacy. The Obama administration and their liberal allies on Capitol Hill need to set aside their deep-seated, pathological antipathy toward America's military and invest in the defense of this nation.
In the aftermath of the "Daschle Debacle," Mr. Obama acknowledged, "I screwed up." It is now time for him to make the same admission about his efforts to gut our defense budget. Spending more on defense -- not less -- is not only good for our economy but also good for all of us.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.