Kissinger's View on Defense

March 10, 1985

Former Secretary of State Henry A. Kissinger revealed in his article (Opinion, March 3), "A Need for Defense Short of Apocalypse," that his expertise is in political science, not logic.

He makes an excellent case for not postponing doing something about the Defense Department mess but rather for doing something now when the huge deficit looming over our (and the free world's) economic well-being gives Congress and we the people some leverage to use. And he makes a case to show it is urgent and essential that we make some very strong reforms now. He pointed out that the real defense issue is not (more) money but the inability to relate defense and arms control policy to new technologies. In other words our defense establishment has not recognized that the world has changed so our defense preparations may very well be obsolete.

Kissinger wants to pass the lavish defense budget now without rocking the boat so that the Reagan Administration can have time to deal with the basic issues of defense policy and organization, but once we give away the store, what leverage do we have to get the Administration started on what it should have done long ago?

The Administration's principal arms control negotiator, Kissinger pointed out, supports a defense of missile sites in the United States that would do little to enhance the credibility of nuclear deterrence. If the Administration does not have defense policies that are sensible, why should we devote more money to implement those policies?

Kissinger goes on to tell of the paralyzing impact of overlap in operation planning and procurement and how the Joint Chief of Staff are more concerned about their services than in joint defense efforts. This is a much greater criticism than even Budget Director David Stockman made when he said that the leaders of the armed services are more concerned about their retirement pensions than they are about defense efforts.

The major argument that Kissinger should have used for doing something now rather than after we give the military a lavish defense budget is that in periods of budgetary plenty,the service chiefs spread the increase over as many weapon categories as possible, locking us in to support weapon systems for a defense strategy that Kissinger showed clearly to be outmoded.

The defense establishment must be made to join the real world before any budget increases. The time is now to demand major and very basic reforms.



How lightly Kissinger glosses over "the inconvenience and hardship" reducing domestic spending will produce as compared to the reduction of a trillion-dollar military budget, which he states, could threaten the existence of America. That sounds like the equivalent of "Our Fatherland Uber Allies." According to him, first the state, then humanity. So, once again we are told, human beings are expendable, the exact thinking of those who introduced weapons that kill people, but spare property.

Kissinger was part of two administrations that conducted disastrous military excursions in the past, just as this Administration is prepared to do now in Central America. Experienced and articulate he is, but hardly an oracle of wisdom.

That America, and the world will cease to exist, as we knew it, should the major powers fail to enact a substantial reduction in arms and a fail-safe peace treaty, does not bother him as much as keeping America first in war, weapons--and woe.

The treatment of our poor, old, sick and indigent, or our future, seems to interest him very little. Yes, I say future, for without the proper physical, medical, spiritual and educational needs of the great majority of our children being met because of our costly preoccupation with the military there will be no future worth living.

We will produce a generation of weaklings, know-nothings, poor physical and mental specimens who will not have the capacity to do anything but goose step, will not be able to learn the operation of the simplest machine, let alone the complex weaponry a trillion tax dollars will buy. What price the arms race if we lose all else?


Los Angeles

President Reagan, Secretary of Defense Caspar W. Weinberger and now Kissinger argue that reducing domestic welfare, causing hardship, does not threaten the existence of the United States as we know it.

Widespread misery brought communism to Russia. Internal collapse ended the Roman Empire. Historical parallels are never exact, but the history of Rome and the effects of militarism on the United States bear thinking about.

The free Roman farmer was a citizen and had freedom and rights otherwise unknown in the ancient world. Because of his stake and pride in his country, the Romans was motivated to go out and conquer first Italy and then the Mediterranean world. Eventually the emperors got too ambitious, went too far, and lost the last of the free legions up in Germany.

With 2,000 military bases in 33 countries and military assistance advisory groups in 50 countries and the gift of $180 million a year in foreign aid, the United States may be overextending itself.

The Roman conquests brought in thousands of slaves. They replaced the free farmers on the land. Large landed estates worked by slaves, replaced the family farms.

The displaced farmers crowded into the cities where there was no use for them. They were placated with bread and circuses, i.e. the dole and gladiator shows. They no longer had any reason to fight for Rome. And would not.

We are displacing our farmers and ordinary workers by using machines and by moving our factories overseas. If we provide welfare and TV football, will that be enough for our growing numbers of useless human beings? Can we make soldiers of them? Or will bombs be all the protection we need?



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