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A National Security Budget for America in Retreat

Golda Meir famously said that if someone repeatedly tells you he wants to kill you believe him. The Chinese, Russians, and Iranians are telling us exactly what they want to do to us, and the priorities in this Budget will not give them any sleepless nights.  

Joe Biden
Former Vice President of the United States Joe Biden speaking with attendees at the 2020 Iowa State Education Association (ISEA) Legislative Conference at the Sheraton West Des Moines Hotel in West Des Moines, Iowa.

The Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget is a 180-page document that mentions the word “threat” 44 times and yet never uses “threat” or the words “enemy” or “adversary” with explicit reference to Russia and Communist China. This is not a blueprint that protects the American people or makes enemies think twice about threatening our allies in Taiwan, Japan, Israel, or the Baltics.  

The Budget follows the Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence that identifies climate change as an equal or greater danger to the American people than the Chinese Communist Party or the theocratic fanatics in Tehran. In a Tweet posted by the Secretary of the Army on March 2 while visiting Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Operations Command, one would have expected her to assess the readiness of the Army’s premier conventional division and special forces. No. Instead, she tweeted to the world that “A priority for me and our Army is #resiliency in the face of climate change. At #FortBragg, we have the largest floating solar array in the Southeast United States. This is just one of many examples of how our Army #LeadsFromTheFront in climate innovation and adaptation.” A pointed Twitter response was that “These are not serious people.”

The “existential threat” mentioned at the top of the second page of the Budget calls for no less than $23 billion towards “climate resilience” across the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Defense. It also calls for $1.6 billion to the Green Climate Fund and a $1.2 billion loan to the Clean Technology Fund.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget so dangerous. Dangerous at a time when America faces more extreme national security threats than could ever be mounted by the sclerotic old Soviet Union. Not only does it underfund critical defense investments, especially in this inflationary environment, but it also spends less of America’s GDP on defense than at any time in the post-World War II era. Not even the Jimmy Carter Defense Budget reached these depths. 

The Budget calls for $3 billion (atop nearly $3 billion the Biden Administration requested for DEI programs last year) for promoting “gender equity and equality” and more than $8 billion “to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse and high-caliber national security workforce …” These phrases are code words for an effort to embed the woke agenda that is currently tearing the military apart. Don’t take my word for it; just follow the actions of the Secretary of the Air Force, who is now tracking promotions from a “Race, Equity And Gender Standpoint.”

Fifty billion dollars is offered to the “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” which works in partnership with the private sector to “advance climate and energy security” and “gender equity and equality,” as well as whatever the Administration defines as “health and health security,” “digital connectivity,” and “transportation infrastructure.” In the meantime, we have the smallest Navy since 1938, the oldest Air Force in our history, and our military readiness and munitions accounts are devastated. Our leaders in the field — not those in the Pentagon — sound the alarm that we are on the precipice of being outgunned on the oceans, in the air, and in space. 

As the Wall Street Journal points out regarding the underfunding of defense, Biden’s budget defense allocations are a “3.2% increase over last year, and with inflation at 6%, it means a decline in buying power. Compare the 3.2% growth with the double-digit increases for domestic accounts: 19% for the Environmental Protection Agency; 13.6% for both the Education and Energy Departments; 11.5% for Health and Human Services.”  

Rather than funding border security, the Budget talks of “hemispheric migration management.” This would send more than $4 billion to Central America and over $10 billion elsewhere “to respond to the persisting needs of the world’s most vulnerable, including those needs arising from conflict and natural disasters.”

And yet, much as we have seen over the last two years, many of those conflicts emerged because the Biden Administration has opened America’s southern frontier. Now they simply want to continue writing blank checks to their acolytes abroad with no accountability or solutions.

The silver lining of the Budget, however meager, is the sustained $3 billion in support for Israel. But there is a catch: $259 million to the Palestinians “in support of a two-state solution with Israel,” and no mention of building on the Abraham Accords. This proposal is being made while the faculty lounge lunacy that passes for American diplomacy pushes old allies like Saudi Arabia into the waiting arms of the Chinese communists.

The Budget also sets $37 billion aside for a nuclear deterrent that appears more relevant than at any time since Reagan and another $23.8 billion for the Department of Energy’s nuclear work. But these last slivers of sanity, as important as they are, should be just the first steps for a roadmap that treats the world as it is, not as activists and professors think it should be.

Golda Meir famously said that if someone repeatedly tells you he wants to kill you believe him. The Chinese, Russians, and Iranians are telling us exactly what they want to do to us, and the priorities in this Budget will not give them any sleepless nights.  

Author Biography

Robert Wilkie served in the Trump Administration as the 10th Secretary of Veterans Affairs and as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He currently serves as Distinguished Fellow in the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute.

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  1. Arash

    March 22, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    United States is the only, I repeat the only country with significant number of military bases outside its borders.
    How many military bases does even the US have on foreign soil? Anyone keeping the count? It’s more than 800 already!!

    And for what? It couldn’t even defeat the Taliban! It couldn’t even bring peace in the Mideast. It was China that brokered a peace between Iran and Saudi Arabia!

    US military spending is already more than several next countries combined.

    And yet cringe authors like this guy, heavily vested in military stocks no doubt, keep crying that the US military is falling behind.
    What is falling behind is the state of US infrastructure and education. Not a zero mile of high speed rail exists in the US and most cities lack decent public transportation.

    Just look up photos of the Tehran subway and put that next to New York subway to understand that it’s not in military and bullying power that the US is falling behind!

  2. Rick

    March 22, 2023 at 11:02 pm

    Robert, hate to break it to you, but words in a budget won’t protect America. Maybe you should re-evaluate your career?

  3. John

    March 23, 2023 at 12:31 am

    It seems to me Biden is where America is.
    Maybe the GOP HASC will see the light, but I am not optimistic. If the party of Reagan existed, there would be a call for massive expansion of our capabilities including our nuclear deterrent. We need to be in a new Cold War 2 mode and prepare for war. Taxes have to go up to allow for 5% GDP defense spending. A 10% medicare tax would be a start. But the Right wingers want to cut defense, almost worse than the marxists.
    And strong pro Ukrainian voices seem to be coming from the Center left.
    HASC has one chance to present a much stronger defense budget including much more funding for conventional missiles drones and loitering munitions and a lot more money for acceleration of the naval nuclear cruise missile program. The 46 hypersonic Prompt Global strike missiles the Navy wants to buy should be made nuclear and be declared the naval nuclear cruise missile.
    However it is more likely that thanks to McCarthy the military will vegetate under CR until the Presidential election 11/2024. By that time we may already be wiped out by a Russian nuclear first strike

  4. A Friend

    March 23, 2023 at 7:51 am

    If you asked the MAGA idiots who complain about the assistance to Ukraine costing too much at 25 cents per capita per day to have the Democrats pay for their share all pay all 50 cents instead, of course they’d refuse. MAGA morons are pulling a Victor Orban style block of other people’s money because they depend on russia to steal the election for them.

  5. Scottfs

    March 23, 2023 at 4:17 pm

    The puppet Biden marches to the tune of Hussein Obama, a Marxist Muslim who hates America.

    Of course they stole the 2020 election; you really think Vegetable Joe got 11 million more votes than Hussein Obama?

    This is national suicide, but Marxist-Democrats would love to serve as vassals to the Chinese Communists.

  6. HAT451

    March 23, 2023 at 4:58 pm

    Increasing the military budget by 30.7 billion is not the answer if 23 billion now goes climate resistance, 3 billion more to diversity training. All of those, are what real servicemen refer to as “training distractors”. Inflation in 2022 was 6.5% with food and energy not in the inflation index increasing well into the double digits. This means that effective budget of the military was shrunk, in CY 2023.

    One of lessons relearned from the conflict in Ukraine, is that you need infantry, lots of of infantry, well trained, outfitted, men who are overflowing with what the woke label as “toxic masculinity”. With a current population of about 36 million, Ukraine is talking about an armed force of a million. Russia has already expanded the size of it’s military by 400k, and is expected to start mobilizing another 400k, next month.

    The second lesson learned is we need raw resources, supply chain, and an industrial facilities to manufacture a wide range of military equipment, systems, and armaments. It has to be simple to manufacture, maintain, and operate. 10 tanks that can send a round down range and hit the target 8 out of 10 times, are better then 1 state of the art tank that can hit a target 9 out of 10 times.

    Artillery, and indirect fire support system, there is never enough of that. Our current munitions stocks are dangerously depleted just supporting one combatant, specifically Ukraine, in one conflict. If a war was to break out against the China today, we would be out of some munitions in 7 days, with a the resupply scheduled in months or years. This needs to change.

    Tactics, techniques, and innovations by both the Russians and Ukrainians needs to be evaluated and incorporated into our armed forces. For example one of the innovations used by both sides in the conflict, is use of a home made fin adaptor attached to grenades stabilizing the grenades dropped from quad-copters, increasing the accuracy of that grenade delivery system by at least 50%

    This is important since this is the first symmetrically fought conflict in the 21st century. For equipment we have Russian verses NATO, and near parity in terms of soldiers on the ground. This conflict is a precursor of how the next major war is involved in will be fought.

  7. len

    March 24, 2023 at 9:01 am

    Will will be reduced to sending trans-persons to our defense, without guns, driving electric vehicles with no way to charge them. Be sure to use the correct pronouns when addressing our military personnel. Ooh-rah!

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