Chuck Hagel And The Bloated Defense Budget

Newly nominated Defense Department Secretary Chuck Hagel was a war hero, wounded in Vietnam, helping his brother in the war theatre, being himself an enlisted man and first Vietnam veteran to be nominated to lead the Pentagon, and now he faces the neoconservatives, many of whom NEVER served in the military, and have no real concept of what life is like for the average soldier in the war theatres, whether in Iraq, Afghanistan, or earlier in Vietnam!

As President Barack Obama said yesterday, Hagel can relate to the soldiers bleeding in the soil and mud of combat zones, since he experienced it himself. And Hagel knows that there is a lot of unnecessary waste, fraud, abuse in defense spending, and that America no longer can commit major combat troops all over the world, and that there is a need for a cutback in our defense spending, which has gone out of control since September 11, 2001.

We have over $700 billion a year spent on defense now, more than the next THIRTEEN nations combined, and this includes many of our own allies and friends. But even China, with four times our population, has a miniscule amount of money spent annually on defense!

The question is why we need such a large number of bases all over the world, particularly in Germany and Japan, but also the multitude of bases in many other nations that most Americans are not even aware of the extent of our military commitment, which eats up money that could better be spent on domestic needs!

Chuck Hagel is the right man to cut back unnecessary bases and spending, as he is not beholden to the Defense establishment, and knows how to position our military to deal with threats in the future.

Barack Obama is perceptive in his choice of Hagel, and while there will be a battle over his nomination, the inconsistencies of his critics will be displayed in testimony, including laudatory comments by Mitch McConnell and John McCain and many others, who once thought Hagel was an outstanding colleague and showed regret when he chose not to run for another Senate term in 2008, in disgust at the partisanship and pettiness that existed.

Just because he chose to be an independent person, a maverick, is no reason to deny his capablities and talents to be Secretary of Defense, and politics should “stop at the water’s edge” when it comes to the operation of the Pentagon!

Hagel is worth fighting for, and despite opposition, the nation will be fortunate to have this courageous Republican maverick as the creative, reformist oriented leader that our Defense Department needs in the second decade of the 21st century as we face the need for budget reform and savings on expenditures!

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