|JANUARY 2001 - Issue #131||PUBLISHED BY AMERICANS FOR A SAFE ISRAEL|
President Clinton's most important legacy will not be his serio-comic sex scandals, but his dead serious disarmament of the United States and his self-serving appeasement of powerful and determined enemies....The administration's policies have endangered not only the United States, but the peace and security of the entire world.
This chilling passage from the new book Betrayal: How the Clinton Administration Undermined American Security, by Washington Times defense correspondent Bill Gertz, accurately sums up a problem which has been grossly underreported by our media, but which will have major implications for the future security of the United States--and Israel.
For a number of years, there has been a steady hollowing out of America's armed forces. The Defense Department last year was given its first real budget increase of the 1990s, and the 4.8% salary increase for military personnel that was included hardly kept pace with the rate of inflation. A recent study by the Center for Strategic and International Studies found that the U.S. armed forces are "stressed out, underpaid, and worried about the military's ability to meet all of the new demands placed on it."
Those demands have included a 300% increase in overseas deployments, at a time when America's military forces have been reduced by more than one-third over the past decade. The Air Force, which dropped from 557,000 men in 1988 to 432,000 in 1994, last year fell short of its recruitment goal for the first time in twenty years. The Army likewise could not meet its goal of 74,500 recruits last year, falling short by 6,290. According to the Army Times, recruitment is at its lowest point in twenty-six years.
Altogether, between 1992 and 1999 (the Clinton years), all branches of the U.S. armed forces lost 700,000 active personnel, and 300,000 reserves. The army lost the equivalent of eight full combat divisions, as well as 2,000 combat aircraft.
One hopes the election of George W. Bush, with his professed commitment to a strong military, will begin to reverse these dangerous trends. But it will not happen overnight. The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Henry H. Shelton, points to the need for budget increases of many billions of dollars each year; the Brookings Institution estimates that the procurement budget alone will require an additional $20-billion. That money will not be instantly available.
It will also take time to rebuild America's army training schools. Major-General Tony Stricklin recently cited a study which found that twelve of twenty schools for critically important military skills have dipped to a rating of C-4, the military's lowest.
During this rebuilding period, Israel's role as America's only reliable ally in the Mideast will be more crucial than ever before. While the U.S. gradually rebuilds its morale, its ranks, and its arsenal, Israel can function as the crucial strategic outpost for America and the West in that part of the world. George W. Bush's recognition of Israel as a "strategic ally" of the United States indicates that he understands Israel's importance. What is vital, however, is that he understand how the current "peace process" is shrinking and weakening Israel and could make it impossible for Israel to serve America's interests. If Bush continues the Clinton policy of forcing Israel back to indefensible borders, so that it will be fighting for its life instead of being capable of defending Western interests, he will be throwing away a precious asset at a time when the United States is unable to muster the forces it would need to make up for what Israel can offer.
Herbert Zweibon is chairman of Americans For a Safe Israel.
IN THIS ISSUE:
Two Thousand Years--For Nothing? ...3
The Real Purpose of Oslo ...8
January 2001 - 1 - Outpost