Defense needs to become an issue in the next election, but perhaps not in the way most people think.
Here are 11 truisms about our national defense to guide our thinking and that of the candidates:
1. We need to defend the United States and her possessions against all enemies, foreign and domestic.
2. We also have obligations to fulfill under a series of mutual-defense treaties with a handful of nations.
3. Doing both of the above does cost money, and we can reasonably expect to pay a bare minimum of 2% of GDP and as much as 4% of GDP on defense.
4. A ridiculous amount of money going into defense is being wasted.
5. Much of that waste can be eliminated, but only by dismantling much of the procurement bureaucracy created since WWII, while at the same time dismantling the effective chokehold that the top five defense contractors have built on the services.
6. There is a tremendous amount of Congressional pork built into the defense budget as well. This, too, must be eliminated.
7. The problems we face in fixing defense cannot be solved simply by slashing budgets, but with a realistic and sustainable defense posture.
8. All of this begins with a grand strategy promulgated from the top that provides the guidelines for the kind of military we must have.
9. This mess dates back to at least 1939, and it is unreasonable to expect it to go away in a period of less than two consecutive presidential terms. For that reason, the work cannot start too soon.
10. The first step is to elect a President who understands the above, and who places the well-being of the nation ahead of personal interest, and who has enough savvy and clout to compel a majority of Congress to lime up behind him/her.