January 10, 2011 3:09PM

Gates’s ‘Cuts’ and the Neocons’ Lament

As I discussed last week, Defense Secretary Robert Gates’s latest attempt to “cut” the Pentagon’s budget are phony. The Secretary would ideally like to see the $78 billion over five years in savings filtered elsewhere into the budget; meanwhile, the 2012 budget will actually grow.

This hasn’t stopped uber-hawk Max Boot and a cadre of neocons from attempting to spin the Secretary’s announcement as the latest example of military downsizing that will make our services less prepared to deal with any conflict or international issue around the globe. I rebut Boot’s claims over at The Skeptics:

In his latest offering at The Weekly Standard, Boot wails that the personnel cuts “will bring the Army’s active duty strength down to 517,000—still larger than it was in 2001 but far smaller than it was in 1991, and not big enough to meet all of the contingencies for which it must prepare.”

Boot doesn’t define the “contingencies” that he wants the military to prepare for, but it seems pretty clear that he disagrees with Robert Gates’s assessment that “The United States is unlikely to repeat a mission on the scale of those in Afghanistan or Iraq anytime soon -- that is, forced regime change followed by nation building under fire.”

One can only imagine how hysterical [the neocons] would be if Gates had actually proposed to reduce the amount of money going to the military every year. As it is, the DoD budget is slated to grow. Gates explained at last week’s press conference that his goal was “a steady, sustainable and predictable rate of growth” without explaining why the Pentagon should simply expect to see more money every year while the rest of the country is supposed to be cutting back.

My word of advice to anyone who wants to know what Gates has actually proposed: look at the facts, not the neocons’ interpretation of them.