Cheney’s Lies About Iraq and Defense Spending


Dick Cheney and his equally loathsome daughter Liz have started yet another organization to push the neo-conservative agenda and are on a publicity blitz to promote it. Naturally, Dick wants to blame the situation in Iraq on Obama, ignoring his own role in the debacle.

Appearing on ABC’s This Week, Cheney was asked about his scathing Wall Street Journal op-ed criticizing Obama for withdrawing troops from Iraq and failing to adopt a more muscular foreign policy in response to the crisis in the Middle East.

Cheney is old, so perhaps he doesn’t remember that it was the Bush administration that negotiated the Status of Forces Agreement that required that we withdraw our troops by the end of 2011. Obama was following the agreement that Bush and Cheney put in place. Nah, he remembers. He’s just lying. And he does it again on the defense budget:

“We need to dramatically reverse course on our defense budget,” Cheney said. “We’re decimating the defense budget, not Al Qaeda. We need to go back to a two-war strategy, not the one-war strategy he has in place.”

Oh yes, the poor defense budget is “decimated.” Here’s a chart that shows where defense spending is and is projected to be:

2015 defense budget

Oh, so terribly “decimated.” All of this is controlled by the revised Budget Control Act caps that were insisted on by Republicans in congress as part of the sequestration deal. That deal required small cuts to defense spending (and equal cuts to non-defense spending). Obama’s proposed defense budget this year is higher than those required by the 2011 sequestration deal. The notion that we are somehow slashing defense spending to the bone is absolutely ludicrous. We are still spending almost half of all military expenditures in the entire world, for crying out loud.

Comments

  1. HappyHead says

    It appears that Cheney is using the original meaning of “decimated”, which was “to reduce by one tenth”. In that case, it’s actually a pretty accurate statement, since from 2010 to now the total DOD budget appears to have reduced by slightly more than that.

  2. Reginald Selkirk says

    “We need to dramatically reverse course on our defense budget,” Cheney said. “We’re decimating the defense budget, not Al Qaeda. We need to go back to a two-war strategy, not the one-war strategy he has in place.”

    To the extent that the defense budget might be taking any pressure, blame can be assigned to the Tea Party Republicans, not to Obama.

  3. says

    Maybe he’s referring to the supplemental war spending. That spending really did take a hit. As long as you ignore the minor fact that we aren’t fighting those wars anymore…

  4. caseloweraz says

    There is some controversy about this meaning of “decimate.” The Free Online Dictionary says only 26% of its panel agreed with any meaning that does not apply to people. and the OED blog points out that there is doubt that the first use of the word was to mean killing one out of every ten as a punishment.

  5. says

    The US spends more on “defense” than most of the rest of the world, combined. We really should be slashing military spending on the order of 90%. That would be about right.

    If Cheney wanted to do something useful with the rest of his life, he could start writing letters of condolence to the families of everyone his policies and lies killed. Start with the Iraqi civilians. He’d never finish.

  6. gopiballava says

    We spend half of the total world expenditures on defense? That means that our defense spending is about equal to that of our enemies. I can see why Cheney is worried.

  7. says

    …and the OED blog points out that there is doubt that the first use of the word was to mean killing one out of every ten as a punishment.

    One thing that is clear is that no one uses the term to mean “reduce by one-tenth” today. Only the most hardcore prescriptivist could insist on that meaning. And if for some reason we did stick to that meaning, the word would quickly go extinct because killing one out of ten people for whatever reason is pretty rare these days.

  8. D. C. Sessions says

    Well, prescriptivists and signal-processing engineers. Have a look at what a digital decimator is.

  9. says

    …We need to go back to a two-war strategy, not the one-war strategy he has in place.”

    Gee, we used to have both a two-war strategy and the budget to match, until a certain Republican President squandered it all on two unwinnable (and unpaid-for) wars in places that weren’t all that strategically important to us. I don’t recall Dick Cheney uttering one word of criticism back when that was actually happening.

  10. typecaster says

    We spend half of the total world expenditures on defense? That means that our defense spending is about equal to that of our enemies.

    I’m not sure that follows. Are you assuming that any non-U.S. spending is being done by an enemy? Great Britain, France, and Canada, for instance, have military budgets, but I’m pretty sure they aren’t considered a strategic threat to the United States.
    .
    Of course, Cheney might think of them that way.

  11. wscott says

    We are still spending almost half of all military expenditures in the entire world, for crying out loud.

    I’m sorry, but we really need to stop citing this factoid as if it has anything to do with the size or effectiveness of our military. If that correlation meant anything, we’d have the best health care system in the world, to say nothing of our schools. Our military is hugely expensive largely because 1) we actually pay our military a halfway decent wage, and 2) we rely heavily on expensive technology to reduce friendly casualties. (And I’m not saying either of those are a bad thing.) Also, we spend a lot on our military because, duh, we’re rich; if you look at military spending per GDP, we’re barely in the top 10. Similarly for the size of our military: depending on what you count (active vs reserve vs paramilitary) we’re barely in the top 10, and if you count per capita we’re not even in the top 50.
    .
    I’m not saying we don’t spend a lot on defense. I’m not saying cutting back to “only” $500B is somehow going to destroy us. And I’m damn sure not defending Darth Cheney. Our military spending went up because of the wars in Iraq & Afghanistan; those wars are now largely concluded for good or ill, so only a warmongering hack would argue against some reduction in spending. But equating military expenditures to military power is a fallacy because there’s just not that strong a correlation. It’s also putting the cart before the horse: How much spending is “necessary” is (or at least should be) determined by what we expect our military to accomplish. But that’s a much harder conversation that no one in Washington seems able to have.

  12. StevoR : Free West Papua, free Tibet, let the Chagossians return! says

    ..failing to adopt a more muscular foreign policy in response to the crisis in the Middle East.

    Coz that worked out so well last time .. oh wait!

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