The case for a defense budget that focuses more on China, less on climate change

Since President Biden’s inauguration, we have seen what happens when America projects weakness rather than strength.

On May 8, the Taliban targeted and killed 85 people, mostly girls going to school in Kabul.  On May 12, Hamas launched a relentless rocket attack against Israel wounding over 500.  Earlier this year, Russia began massing over 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border and a Russia-linked cyberattack on the Colonial Pipeline last month shutdown 45 percent of the gasoline supplied to the East Coast. Beijing is increasing its military activity in the South China Sea and continues to violate freedoms in Hong Kong and threaten Taiwan. In the midst of this, the Biden administration has been absent. Weakness invites chaos and when America steps back from its leadership role in the world, as President Biden has done, violence and unrest are the result.

One of the ways America signals to the world that we will continue to be a global leader is by maintaining a strong national defense. Unfortunately, President Biden’s proposed FY2022 defense budget sends the wrong message to our allies and our adversaries. By failing to keep pace with inflation, the President’s budget amounts to a cut of over $4 billion in defense spending. Meanwhile, his budget proposes to increase non-defense spending by a massive $104 billion or 16 percent.

Furthermore, within that reduced topline, the administration redirects nearly $650 million in critically needed military modernization and procurement funding to climate change and to monitor the social media accounts of our servicemembers. These initiatives have nothing to do with ensuring we have a lethal force ready to “fight tonight”.  When we dedicate scarce defense funding to global climate change, biofuels initiatives, and social engineering experiments with military personnel you can almost hear the cheers and laughter of our adversaries.

The bipartisan National Defense Strategy Commission was very clear: to fully implement the National Defense Strategy, overcome threats from China and other adversaries, and recover from austere budgets in the Obama years, we need to grow our defense spending by three to five percent above inflation from 2022-2025. This year’s defense budget should be above the rate of inflation and entirely focused on deterring the threats from near peer adversaries. Instead, this budget, should it pass in its current form, would cede our military superiority to China and return us to a hollow force, unable to respond to events around the world, whether it’s conflict or humanitarian missions.

While disappointing, the budget numbers are no surprise. President Biden has an impeccable track record of foreign policy failures over the past 40 years. He was the architect of the 2011 troop withdrawal in Iraq, which created the power vacuum that allowed the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria to overtake 40 percent of Iraq. The rise of ISIS required us to return to Iraq, a mistake we fear he is likely repeating in Afghanistan. His precipitous exit from Afghanistan with no plan to conduct counter terrorism operations, secure our diplomatic corps, and protect the 17,000 Afghan interpreters that helped us over the last two decades is setting the stage for another national security crisis.

The Biden administration lacks a coherent and effective defense strategy. His budget falls short of meeting the requirements of the great power competition we face. Even worse, this budget is the product of the progressive left’s dream to “defund the Pentagon.”  While China and Russia plot the downfall of American and liberal democracies globally, President Biden’s progressive budget-driven strategy fails to meet the needs of the nation, shortchanges our military, endangers our allies, and invites chaos into the world. Thankfully, the President’s budget proposal is only a request. It will be up to Congress to provide for the defense of the nation.  As the ranking Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee and House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee, we are committed to maintaining our military superiority and, as President Reagan famously said, pursue peace through strength.

Rep. Mike Rogers, R-Ala., is the ranking member of the House Armed Services Committee and Rep. Kevin Calvert, R-Calif., is the ranking member of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense.

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