While Dick Cheney attempts to lead the 9/11 decennial news cycle by re-litigating waterboarding, other hawks and defenders of the military-industrial complex also plan to capitalize on any patriotic fervor surrounding the anniversary. Following Cheney, who will address AEI as the weekend’s commemorations begin, Congressman Buck McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, will address the hawkish think tank on 9/12. His speech has the jumbled and ambiguous title “Defending America and the Quest for Peace: 10 Years after 9/11”:
In the decade since the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, America’s armed forces have been called upon to perform a large number of extremely varied of missions, from lightning-quick invasions to persistent counterinsurgency campaigns and global counterterrorist manhunts. America’s men and women in uniform have shown amazing tenacity and adaptability and achieved startling successes; but these have come at a cost. Beyond the physical casualties, the high rates of deployment and the constant though sporadic fighting have taken a toll on service members, their families, and their equipment. And now America’s military is being asked to return another “peace dividend” – a dividend beyond the peace itself – in the pursuit of reducing America’s spiraling debt and deficit.
Last November, prior to his installation as Armed Services Chairman, McKeon insisted on an increase in defense spending. The California congressman was also the biggest booster of a redundant engine for the F-35 fighter project, an extra cost even then Secretary of Defense Gates concluded was unnecessary.
In the wake of the debt ceiling battle, McKeon finds himself forced to give more ground, now arguing that defense outlays must at least be maintained at close to post-WWII historic highs.
There’s also a new ace that McKeon and other hawks have been counting on recently — and are likely to play again on 9/12: China. After the death of Osama bin Laden, they’re eager to make a new bugbear out of America’s biggest creditor. Never mind that China’s first and only aircraft carrier — America has 11 — was constructed over an unfinished scrap of hull from Ukraine. Sounds like they have a military that knows how to get value for money.