The Biggest Threat to America’s National Security
Here’s a statement with prophetic reverberations. It was uttered by America’s top military officer, Adm. Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, to students at Fort Bliss back in March:
“I actually think the biggest threat to our national security is our national debt” (emphasis mine).
Militaries cost money, and none more than America’s. The U.S. has spent more on defense than any nation in history: close to a billion dollars a day, every day, for over six decades—more than the rest of the world combined.
But the times they are a changin’. America is getting crushed by debt, and such spending is simply no longer sustainable. And while this reality has hardly slowed the current U.S. administration from continuing to spend itself sick virtually everywhere else, the one area it seems eager to make cutbacks is within the military.
As a result, the nation’s best war leaders are being forced to divert more and more of their energies into “boosting efficiency” and cutting costs.
What will be the effect on history’s most powerful military? Admiral Mullen is one of many observers who fear the possibilities. But biblical prophecy gives us the answer.
The truth is that the defense budget getting squashed by a bloated debt is only a symptom of a far greater problem.
In the past two years, more than 30 defense-related programs have been “canceled, capped or ended,” Defense Secretary Robert Gates recently acknowledged. Among them: plans for a long-range bomber; the F-22 program; the Joint Forces Command in Norfolk; two Pentagon agencies. The nation’s nuclear stockpiles are to be reduced by 30 percent; the missiles, subs and bombers used to deliver them, halved. The ranks of admirals and generals have been thinned. Hundreds of military bases have closed.
Earlier this year, Secretary Gates announced $78 billion more in long-term military spending cuts and an additional $100 billion in reallocations. The Navy axed the U.S. Second Fleet, which trains all strike groups before deployment. The Army canceled a missile system. The Air Force consolidated three numbered Air Force staffs. The Marine Corps got rid of its expeditionary fighting vehicle. The Army and Marines agreed to shrink their numbers.
Then in April, President Obama set a target to slash an additional $400 billion in defense spending over the next 12 years on top of the cuts already planned. And to replace Gates as defense secretary next month, he chose Leon Panetta—the man who oversaw the last major round of defense cuts during the Clinton administration. It appears the president made this choice because he needs a good pitchman for further cuts. As National Public Radio reported it, “The White House believes that Panetta’s sales kit contains the right tools. Having earned his hard-power stripes as cia director, he may be able to reassure Congress that particular cuts won’t harm the nation’s defense posture.”
But even if he can convince Congress of that, would it be true? Admiral Mullens says no. Secretary Gates—who has dutifully saluted and carried out previous ordered cutbacks—is now openly concerned. At a speech last month, he warned that the latest proposed reductions would result in “a smaller military” that could “go to fewer places and … do fewer things.”
Nevertheless, this is reality. Even as the world grows more volatile, more explosive, less predictable—even as other major nations deliberately, substantially boost their defense spending—America has passed the apex of its power militarily.
And economic constraints are certain to accelerate its descent. In fact, the armed forces are getting dragged down by the same millstone that is pulling the nation under: entitlements. Even if the defense budget remained level, rapidly rising personnel and health-care costs are swallowing an ever larger percentage of defense-allocated dollars. As Secretary Gates recently pointed out, the military’s health-care costs alone have soared from $19 billion just a decade ago to $52.5 billion today.
“The whole thing is being driven by the U.S. defense budget and the deficiencies in the American budget as a whole,” says defense analyst Charles Heyman. As politicians and military commanders face off, he says, “The politicians are always going to be right because they hold the purse strings. … At some stage in the next 18 months to two years we’re going to see a real ax taken to the American defense budget.”
A real ax? Already, the 18 combat divisions the Army had in the 1980s now stand at 10. The Navy’s 600 ships have been reduced to less than half that—fewer than at any time since the First World War. The Air Force’s tactical air wings have dropped from 37 to 20. Its planes are now fewer and older than at any time in its history. “The useful life of the tanks, artillery, planes, ships and missiles that date to the Reagan buildup is ending, and the cost of replacing them is now far greater than it was back then,” writes former Army officer Jeff Lukens. “Many of the Army’s weapons have already missed several rounds of modernization. Many of its soldiers are on their fourth or fifth tour of duty in Iraq or Afghanistan. And the Army Reserves have been on repeated deployments overseas since 9/11 as well.”
Being a superpower is incredibly expensive. Just ask Britain. During its glory days of empire, it was ridiculously wealthy, the master of global trade. The picture dramatically changed with World Wars i and ii, which bled Britain of its finest men and the lion’s share of its treasure. These wars left Britain bankrupt, unable to sustain the operating costs of empire—particularly maintaining a military that could protect resource-supplying countries. The United States then took over as the world’s greatest power, and today Britain languishes in irrelevance.
Now, though, it is America’s turn to find itself priced out of the superpower market.
Just as with Britain, though, the nation’s economic woes are not the cause of its problems. They are a symptom that points to the cause. They themselves have a far greater cause that must be understood.
Herbert W. Armstrong explained the reason for Britain’s and America’s rapid decline in his landmark book The United States and Britain in Prophecy. “There is a reason!” he wrote. “It is bound up with history and divine promises pertaining to Israel.”
America’s massive and growing problems—epic indebtedness, impossibly expensive entitlement programs, unwinnable nation-building-type military projects—all stem from the nation’s having turned its back on the Source of its prosperity and broken His immutable laws.
Just as Herbert Armstrong warned, America’s financial predominance is disappearing—and with it, its military predominance. Now, he continued, “the American nation is slated to go down even more suddenly [than Great Britain] to utter ignominy and loss of all national wealth, greatness and power!”
As the U.S. struggles to determine the best uses for its dwindling resources, one area it is scrutinizing intensely is Europe. For decades it has committed itself to helping defend the Continent and devote resources to the North Atlantic Treaty Alliance. In recent years, though, America has grown insistent that Europe step up and take responsibility for its own defense. It has been taking steps to draw down its forces there; base closures on the Continent have saved the Army $8.6 billion in the past eight years. Of the 213,000 U.S. troops stationed in Europe in 1989, only about 42,000 remain. Plans are to shrink that number to 37,000 by 2015—and many wonder whether that reduced force will survive future trimming. Even as Robert Gates has been overseeing America’s defense cuts, he has been vigorously lecturing Europe about how it needs to boost its military spending and upgrade its war-making capability.
For students of biblical prophecy, this is bitterly ironic. Why? Because of what Scripture reveals to be, in fact, the biggest threat to America’s national security!
That is, a militarily dominant, unified European superstate!