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President Obama isn’t in the habit of keeping many promises. But he is doing his best to keep the big one about “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” (even though, during a pre-Super Bowl interview with Fox News’ Bill O’Reilly, he denied that he’d said it, pesky video to the contrary notwithstanding.)
This past week’s announcement, using Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as cover, of his intent to cut the military to levels not seen since before World War II is another incremental fulfillment of that promise.
No more of the odious “cowboy diplomacy” practiced by Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush. The president has told us the tide of war is receding, terrorist groups like al Qaeda have been reduced to a shadow of their former selves, and he has pressed the diplomatic “re-set” button with our former implacable enemies so that they no longer want to destroy us.
If you still hear any “death to America” chants, they are coming from a few harmless fringe groups with no more evil intent than Red Sox fans chanting “Yankees suck.”
Besides all that, as Hagel explained, we just can’t afford it. He claimed the cuts are necessary “to sustain our readiness and technological superiority” – you know, kind of like when a bank says it is closing a few branches “to serve you better.”
What a fabulous trade-off it will be – fewer guns, more butter. What’s not to like?
Well, several things.
First, recall that the president has called for an “end to the era of austerity.” Except, apparently, for defense.
Anyone who called for cutting an entitlement program to pre-World War II levels - many didn’t even exist then - would immediately be laughed out of the room. The proposal would be described as “devastating” and “unconscionable,” as “destroying the safety net," etc.