Short Cuts

Bloggers lined up this week to give their takes on Defense Secretary Gates’s push to cut defense spending, including the complete elimination of the Joint Forces Command (JFCOM). Dov Zakheim, Kori Schake, and Marc Ambinder point out that, although the cuts will be substantial (much to the chagrin of a large number of Virginians), Gates is still seeking to keep the “topline” budget expanding—although more slowly—at 2 to 3 percent per year. Ambinder also says “the cabinet’s superstar” is providing President Obama “plenty of political cover” heading into the midterm elections, and Zakheim mentions that the cuts hinge completely on whether Gates stays in his job long enough to see them through. Stephen Walt, always to be counted on for bringing the conversation back to grand strategy, says until a fundamental debate takes place over reducing America’s overseas commitments or force structure, any talk of cutting defense spending is largely cosmetic. And in typical fashion, Max Boot warns against cutting spending during wartime, but then can’t resist asking why stop at JFCOM and not just go ahead and start cutting big entitlement programs, too?