MONITORING DEFENSE SPENDING -- (House of Representatives - May 15, 2007)
Mr. DUNCAN. Mr. Speaker, we all respect, admire and appreciate those who serve in our Nation's Armed Forces. Serving in our military is certainly one of the most honorable ways anyone can serve our country. I believe national defense is one of the very few legitimate functions of our national government, and certainly one of the most important.
However, we also need to recognize that our military has become the most gigantic bureaucracy in the history of the world. And like any huge bureaucracy, it does many good things; of course, always at huge expense to the taxpayer. And like any huge bureaucracy, our military does many things that are wasteful or inefficient. And like any huge bureaucracy, it tries to
gloss over or cover up its mistakes. And like any huge bureaucracy, it always wants to expand its mission and get more and more money.
Counting our regular appropriations bills, plus the supplemental appropriations, we will spend more than $750 billion on our military in the next fiscal year. This is more than all the other nations of the world combined spend on their defense.
The GAO tells us that we presently have $50 trillion in unfunded future pension liabilities on top of our national debt of almost $9 trillion. If we are going to have any hope of paying our military pensions and Social Security and other promises to our own people, we cannot keep giving so much to the Pentagon.
No matter how much we respect our military and no matter how much we want to show our patriotism, we need to realize that there is waste in all huge bureaucracies, even in the Defense Department.
There is a reason why we have always believed in civilian leadership of our Defense Department. The admirals and generals will always say things are going great, because it is almost like saying they are doing a bad job if they say things are not doing well and the military people know they can keep getting big increases in funding if they are involved all over the world.
However, it is both unconstitutional and unaffordable for us to be the policeman of the world and carry on civilian government functions in and for other countries. National defense is necessary and vital. International defense by the U.S. is unnecessary and harmful in many ways.
Now we are engaged in a war in Iraq that is very unpopular with a big majority of the American people. More importantly, every poll of Iraqis themselves shows that 78 to 80 percent of them want us to leave, except in the Kurdish areas.
They want our money, but they do not want us occupying Iraq. Surely, we are not adopting a foreign policy that forces us on other people, one that says we are going to run Iraq even if the people there want us to leave. A majority of the Iraqi Parliament has now cosponsored a bill asking us to leave.
It is sure not traditional conservatism to carry on a war in a country that did not attack us, did not even threaten to attack us, and was not even capable of attacking us. And it is sure not traditional conservatism to believe in world government even if run by the U.S.
Our war in Iraq has greatly damaged the Republican Party and conservatism in general. Even though this war has gone against every traditional conservative view, especially fiscal conservatism, it is seen by most as a conservative war. Even worse than the damage it has done to my party and a philosophy I believe in very deeply is the harm it has done to our relations with other countries, especially other countries in the Middle East. But worst of all, of course, is the fact that so many young Americans have been killed and horribly wounded in a very unnecessary war.
President Bush when he ran for office in 2000 campaigned strongly against nation building. Unfortunately, that is what we have been doing in Iraq. The President in 2000 said what we needed was a more humble foreign policy. That is what we needed then, and it is what we need now.
William F. Buckley, often called the godfather of conservatism, summed it up best in a column he wrote almost 2 years ago: ``A respect for the power of the United States is engendered by our success in engagements in which we take part. A point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride. It can't reasonably be disputed that if in the year ahead the situation in Iraq continues about as it has done in the past year, we will have suffered more than another 500 soldiers killed. Where there had been skepticism about our venture, there will be contempt.'' That was William F. Buckley in 2005, and the key point there, he said ``a point is reached when tenacity conveys not steadfastness of purpose but misapplication of pride.''