In that year of happy memory, 1972, George McGovern, the Democratic nominee, declared he would chop defense by fully one-third.
A friendly congressman was persuaded to ask Secretary of Defense Melvin Laird to expatiate on what this might mean.
The Pentagon replied the Sixth Fleet might have to be pulled out of the Med, leaving Israel without U.S. protection against the fleet of Adm. Sergei Gorshkov, and provided the congressman a list of U.S. bases that would have to be shut down.
Radio ads were run in the towns closest to the bases on the Pentagon list, declaring they would be closed and all jobs terminated, should McGovern win.
Something akin to this is going on with the impending sequester.
A cut of 7 percent, $46 billion, in Pentagon spending, says Army chief Ray Odierno, will mean a "hollowing" out of his force.
The Navy? The carrier Harry Truman will not be sailing to the Persian Gulf. The Abraham Lincoln will not be overhauled in Newport News. Thousands of jobs will be lost.
Reporter Rowan Scarborough writes that the Air Force has produced "a map of the U.S. that shows state-by-state the millions of dollars lost to local economies," should the guillotine fall.
Military aid to Israel may be cut, says John Kerry.
But if an evisceration of the national defense is imminent, why did Obama not tell us in 2012? Why were the joint chiefs silent, when they are panicked now? Are the generals, admirals and contractors all crying wolf?
Undeniably, spending cuts by sequester slicer, chopping all equally, is mindless. And with the national security, it manifests a failure of both parties to come to terms with the world we are now in.
The Cold War is over. The Soviet Union is gone. Mao's China is gone, though a mightier China has emerged, as America's share of the global economy is shrinking. Moreover, as ex-Chairman of the Joint Chiefs Mike Mullen contends, our greatest strategic threat is not Kim Jong Un or Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, but the soaring national debt.
And if, as Republicans insist, we have a debt crisis because we are "spending too much," spending will have to be cut -- discretionary spending, entitlements and defense. And the only question about the defense cuts is not whether they are coming, but where.
What is needed is what America, since the collapse of the Soviet Empire, has stubbornly resisted doing: a strategic review of all U.S. commitments abroad to determine which remain vital to the national security. Before we decide what our defense forces should be, let us determine what is in the U.S. vital interest to defend at risk of war.
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