I searched high and low for a clip of Romney talking to the troops, but all I got was Romney banging on about Glenn Beck’s caliphate and how we need to fight the axis of evil before they take us down. That was in 2008. Iran was developing the nuclear bomb and they were coming for us.
Here’s Romney foreign policy in 2008, railing on elites while in his tux, banging on about Glenn Beck’s religious caliphate, wanting to add at least 100,000 troops and raise military spending to at least “4% of the GDP”. Easy to say when he dodged the draft and none of his kids have served their country (unless you count serving Mitt as serving our country, as he does):
Romney said the only thing that could save us was more troops, more shows of power, and more military spending. Oh, and sending more troops to train moderate Islamists how to defend themselves. Well, we actually were already doing that then and we’ve been doing it since, but the troops on the ground tell me that hasn’t worked out so well. They’re tired and they don’t see an end and they want to come home. Granted, I am not polling the entire military, but I speak to many of them who have just returned from Afghanistan, and they tell me they hope Obama will get us out yesterday.
As for Romney’s claim that military spending should be “at least 4% of the GDP”, in 2008, defense and security spending was 5.6% of the GDP. Furthermore, defense & security was 3.6% of the GDP in 2001 (Clinton’s last budget) and increased by +2.0% by 2008. That’s a huge increase.
When you hear Republicans talk about increasing military spending, you’re probably thinking well, gee, we are at war. Naturally, we all want the troops to have what they need to fight safely and effectively.
However, the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities reported in 2008, “What is less well understood is that a large amount of that increase is the result of extremely rapid growth in regular defense funding that is unrelated to Iraq, Afghanistan, or what the Administration terms the “global war on terror.” Ongoing and routine funding for the Pentagon has increased remarkably since 2001. Even excluding the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the global war on terror, funding for defense and related programs has grown at an average annual rate of 4.8 percent per year since 2001, after adjusting for inflation — substantially faster than the growth in Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid.”
Here’s how they break down the spending from 2008:
• There has been no rapid rise in funding for domestic discretionary programs in recent years; in fact these programs have shrunk both as a share of the budget and as a share of the economy.
• In contrast, funding for defense and related programs has exploded. Since 2001, it has jumped at an annual average rate of 8 percent, after adjusting for inflation and population — four times faster than the average rate of growth for Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid (2 percent), and 27 times faster than the average rate for growth for domestic discretionary programs (0.3 percent).
• Funding for defense and related programs has shot up by 2 percent of GDP in just seven years. It is expected to take more than two decades for Social Security to grow by 2 percent of GDP.
• Even when costs for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the “global war on terror” are excluded, funding for the regular defense budget has risen at a stunning rate that dwarfs the growth rates for all parts of the domestic budget.
• The combined effect of the Administration’s tax cuts and its defense spending increases (including the war) has been a budget deterioration equal to 3.3 percent of GDP since 2001. By contrast, increases in costs for all domestic programs combined have cost a little less than 0.6 percent of GDP.
Let that sink in as you ponder “entitlements” and ask yourself, where did all of that money go if it wasn’t spent on the “war on terror”? Too often it did not go to proper outfitting for our troops, the Bush administration’s 2004 defense budget capped pay raises, and it often didn’t go for basic necessities (like bullets). CBS reported, “Correspondent Steve Kroft talks to a general, soldiers in Iraq, and their families at home about a lack of armored vehicles, field radios, night vision goggles, and even ammunition – especially for the National Guard and reserve units that now make up more than 40 percent of U.S. troops.”
If Romney’s rhetoric sounds familiar but slightly more crazy, that’s because he was then doubling down on Bush with a Beck gravy of religious extremism for extra hot fear.
That’s not all talk. This time around, Romney’s hired what appears to be a Bush redoux for his foreign policy advisors.
We have to ask what has changed since that speech in 2008 and today. Does Mitt Romney still believe in Beck’s religious caliphate or was he simply pandering? He is still beating war drums against Iran, and yet Romney was positive they were coming to destroy us in 2008. He was unwilling to negotiate with them then, let alone now. Why is that? What was so urgent that we need to rush to war with Iran in 2008?
In Georgia, on March 4, 2012, Romney said, “It’s pretty straightforward in my view: If Barack Obama gets reelected, Iran will have a nuclear weapon and the world will change.”
Romney speaks as if a nuclear Iran is a given, and yet what we know is that the IAEA reported on Nov. 8 that Iran has carried out activities “relevant to the development of a nuclear explosive device.”
Obama is trying sanctions first. President Obama has put in place:
“(T)he toughest sanctions ever imposed on the Iranian government…” Sanctions have been “biting much, much more literally in recent weeks than they have until this time,” CIA Director David Petraeus recently told the Senate Intelligence Committee.
Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Martin Dempsey warned that a military conflict with Iran could be destabilizing for the region and have potentially severe economic ramifications for the U.S.
What does Romney know that Petraeus and Obama do not?
In March of this year, Romney said, “A nuclear Iran is not only a problem for Israel. It is a problem for America, and a problem for the world.” Romney also said that there is no room for negotiation with Iran. “We do not have common interests with a terrorist regime.”
Obama shot back, “Now, what’s said on the campaign trail — you know, those folks don’t have a lot of responsibilities. They’re not commander in chief. And when I see the casualness with which some of these folks talk about war, I’m reminded of the costs involved in war.”
On this Memorial Day weekend, it is the cost of war that we should be thinking about. We need to honor those who have made the ultimate sacrifice, while not failing to remember that one of these wars was entered into on a false premise. When we send brave troops to fight for their country, we ought to do it as the last resort. It ought to be a matter of grave contemplation. We need to ask if we can afford another war based on fear-mongering, much less based on something so absurd as Glenn Beck’s religious caliphate theory.
In early May, as Romney accused Obama of politicizing the bin Laden kill, Obama was in Afghanistan doing his job as Commander in Chief. He explained the Security Partnership Agreement with Hamid Karzai’s government to the troops, in which there would be a limited US presence beyond 2014, but he ruled out permanent American bases and troop patrols.
The President said, “My fellow Americans, we have traveled through more than a decade under the dark cloud of war. Yet here, in the pre-dawn darkness of Afghanistan, we can see the light of a new day on the horizon. The Iraq War is over. The number of our troops in harm’s way has been cut in half, and more will be coming home soon. We have a clear path to fulfill our mission in Afghanistan, while delivering justice to al-Qaeda.”
Those are fitting words for Memorial Day weekend.