On the anniversary of 9/11 former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld appeared on Fareed Zakaria GPS to reflect on the past and opine on the future of U.S. defense and national security policy. Rumsfeld issued the warning:
Today with a debt crisis and a deficit crisis, we're about ready to make the same mistake we've made after World War II, after Vietnam and Korea, and then after the Cold War -- pare down our intelligence, cut the budgets in the Defense Department, and think we can get away with it. We got away with it in earlier years. It's inefficient. You then have to crank it back up, which is what President Reagan had to do after the Carter years and what President George W. Bush had to do after the George Herbert Walker and Clinton years, after the end of the Cold War.
Secretary Rumsfeld seems to forget that it was the Nixon Administration who was responsible for the builddown after Vietnam, rather than Carter. Which is odd since Rumsfeld served in both the Nixon and Ford Administrations.
Contrary to popular belief, defense spending wasn’t always as partisan an issue as it has become today. Past Republican Administrations were able to cut defense when it made sense for our country to do so. The current mantra of fear over defense cuts has little historical truth, no matter how its proponents’ would have us remember it.