Tuesday, March 28, 2006

"Cap The Knife" Cuts Out

It was announced this morning that former Defense Secretary Caspar Weinberger died at the age of 88.

He served, most notably, as President Ronald Reagan's Defense Secretary from 1981-1987. For more, read this extensive (and quite flattering) biography from the Department of Defense.

I always thought that it was a joke that he kept his old nickname, which hints at his affinity for economies and saving money. Why, you ask?

Well, he presided over one of the most wide-ranging and costly defense-building projects that could have ever been imagined. It was estimated that during Weinberger's tenure, the U.S. defense budget rose 43% over its levels at the height of the war in Vietnam. That's quite a lot, no?

We were, however, locked in a showdown with the perfidious and shadowy Soviet Union, and we were experiencing a period of economic expansion. Then again, it left massive budget deficits that basically insured that George H.W. Bush would be a one term president because of the economy, stupid.

The claim that it was Weinberger that pioneered the idea that we should "spend" the Soviets into submission is kinda true, kinda false. First off, the U.S.S.R. in the mid-1980's was in a rather sad state of repair. With the death of Yuri Andropov AND Konstantin Cherenenko in 1984, and a young Mikhail Gorbachev (young for a Soviet premier, anyway) at the helm, the Evil Empire never looked weaker. Years of failed economic planning, party bureaucratic torpor, the ill-concieved invasion of Afghanistan (1979) and a general culture of corruption and ignorance came to a head in these years. I hate to make this judgement, but I think it was only a matter of time. The U.S.S.R.'s days (as it had existed since the 1920's) were numbered.

So, you ask, was the massive spending on defense a good thing. You naturally realize that this is an extraordinarily complex issue that is hard, perhaps even dangerous, to cover in so short a space, but here goes...

Budget deficits? Bad.

Mutually assured destruction? Worse.

5 comments:

$ K-Diddy $ said...

God I loved Reagan and he had a great staff too. Check out Mike Deaves's book if you haven't gotten a chance. The Gipper will always be my favorite!

Lost A Sock said...

I guess I've not sat down and really thought it through, but I've always just figured spending money on defense is a good thing. Surely, with all the weapons and crap in the world, we could blow up the planet a few times over. Or again, just figuring. Now I remember why I tend to "just figure" and not really reflect on it. I don't watch scary movies, and now added to the list, I'll let the government take care of protecting me, without thinking about it.

On a lighter note, maybe I should try spending my children into submission, no? It would be a good time, at least.

:0)

Lost A Sock said...

Hey k-diddy you beat me to the punch. I'm going to spend you into submission as well. (If you'll do the same, thanks.)

Frema said...

Hi, Will!

I looked for your e-mail address on your blog, but when I didn't find it, I turned to good ole Saint Joe's alumni Web site. But that e-mail bounced, so here I am in your comments section. Thanks for the great comment you left on my blog today. The Episcopal Church (USA) is one that Luke and I are pretty interested in; what most appeals to me is the fact that differing views regarding doctrine and non-Bible issues are embraced. I could be OK being a Protestant if I don't have to shun the Catholic views I actually believe in. Now I just need to figure out what those are.

Thanks for offering to help. :) I'll gladly take suggestions regarding links, books, etc.

Aaron Cynic said...

From the bio: "In a book on his years in the Pentagon, he wrote of having 'acquired a reputation of being stubborn, uncompromising, immoderate and unpragmatic.'"

As old Reganites drop the hold they have on the future of the planet weakens.

As far as defense spending goes - it's very telling of American society that we spend more money on defense than anything else - totalling more than the GDP of many nations. They're protecting their interests, you just happen to be collaterally attached. We're spending billions of dollars a year to protect our interests, which somehow coincidentally harm much of the rest of the world.