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Surprise! A Pentagon Spending Hike

Author: Leslie H. Gelb, President Emeritus and Board Senior Fellow
November 17, 2010
The Daily Beast


Surprise! Forget what you think you've heard for months about deep reductions in Pentagon spending. Defense outlays are not being cut by President Obama. In fact—hold on to your wallets—Mr. Obama and Defense Secretary Robert Gates are actually proposing to increase it slightly yearly for the next five years.

Yes, everyone is to be forgiven for not understanding what's going on. With all those Washington lions, especially Mr. Gates himself, roaring about slashing $100 billion, confusion is inescapable. The first step on the road to comprehension is to understand that when Washington officials speak of axing the Pentagon budget, they could mean any one of three things: (1) increasing it; (2) slicing less worthy parts of that vast money pot so that the savings can be applied to more worthy parts of that budget; or (3) actually wanting to decrease it, but hoping someone else will take the blame. It's a very complicated story.

Few in the nation's capital appear to know what's really going on. And that's what our forefathers probably intended. Mr. Gates is prime among the initiates. You can clearly see his enjoyment of the game. As Gates told Newsweek, “As an old Soviet analyst, I read the speeches of their leaders very, very carefully. And people should read my speeches very carefully.” This most justifiably esteemed Defense Secretary is telling us not to read his lips, but to watch his hands—if you can.

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