The Pentagon brass, civilian suits, contractors, and lobbyists are jockeying for position in the fight for the status quo in anticipation of Mr. Panetta’s arrival in the Office of Secretary of Defense. Yet, senior leaders do so at their own peril. This is not Leon Panetta’s first Washington rodeo. He has seen this Potomac movie before; national security camouflaged as political patronage and money shoveling.

The truth is America’s investment in defense must be aligned with strategic reality, not short-term political wants, wishes, and desires. The nation’s vital interests are only secured against enemies, actual, potential or presumed when the nation’s scientific-industrial base is productive, kept in bounds, and society is prosperous. While there are always threats to U.S. national security there are no existential military threats; though it’s easier than many Americans think to manufacture one. Enemy armed forces are not assembling on America’s strategic periphery poised to drive a dagger into our allies or American’s heartland. Like most things in life, this condition is not permanent, but Americans cannot justify defense spending at current levels. Keep reading →