July 28, 2010 4:01PM

More on that Alternate QDR

Gordon Adams weighs in on the QDR Independent Review Panel, and makes the important observation that their report:

doubled down on the basic weakness of the QDR itself by failing to prioritize missions, examine risk, or set any limits. Then, rather than justifying the claim that we need to be all things to all people, the panel simply asserts that outside forces strip us of our discretion and require this mission expansion.

Nothing could be further from the truth. This lack of planning and budgetary discipline ignores the country’s economic problems and flagging political support for high defense budgets. Now is the time to take a closer look at the military’s missions, make a realistic risk calculation and reshape a smaller and better tailored force.

This is a point worth repeating. Strategy is always about choices: who you choose to fight; who you choose to help/​ally with; how you choose to fight; whether you choose to fight; etc. The alternate QDR folks simply pretend that there aren’t any choices. In their formulation, we spend because we must; and if what we spend proves insufficient, then we simply must spend more.

But saying it doesn’t make it so. The fact remains that we have chosen to spend this money, in part because we have chosen an expansive foreign policy. A more restrained foreign policy, one focused on a narrower set of objectives, would allow us to spend less.