Three key players are stepping up to protect the vital effort under way to rebuild America’s armed forces.
First, Senator Jim Inhofe and Congressman Mac Thornberry (incoming and outgoing chairman of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, respectively) published a piece in the Wall Street Journal blasting the idea of a cut in the defense budget.
Then over the weekend, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis cited the WSJ piece in arguing that the effort to restore American strength should not be sacrificed on the altar of deficit reduction. And in testimony to the defense subcommittee last week, Mattis said, “We all know here today that America can afford survival.”
Mattis was not overstating what is at stake. The threats to America’s vital interests are growing in every major global theater. I’m not talking about the danger of regional instability that temporarily depresses the stock market. I’m talking about the possibility of a devastating EMP (electromagnetic pulse) attack on the homeland or aggression by a great power against the sovereign right of the United States to move, trade, and travel on the same terms as other countries in sea, air, space, and cyberspace.
To take one example: The Chinese have asserted the rights of a hegemon in the East and South China Seas. They have turned pristine coral reefs there into artificial islands and turned the islands into military bases. They are signaling, by word and deed, the intent to treat their near seas as Chinese territory.