I hope Senator Kyl was simply posturing.
Kyl is a serious defense intellectual, a tough-minded hawk who has been
concerned about America's eroding global position and assaults, as he
sees it, on America's sovereignty. I don't agree with Kyl's take but I
respect him as a serious thinker and strategist.
He has been
deeply involved in making sure that America's national weapons
laboratories had the resources to responsibly manage the nuclear
stockpile -- and to some degree, although he became a serious but
overcome impediment during the effort to pass the US-Russia nuclear arms
deal START Treaty last year, his wrangling with Vice President Biden
behind the scenes to get more resources into the nuclear weapons labs is
what allowed other conservatives to support passage of that vital
Whether Kyl wins or loses in the various positions he
stakes out -- some of them fairly out there in a "bomb them now and get
it over with" world with former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton --
Kyl typically behaves as a responsible legislator and doesn't make the
kind of threats he made about the supercommittee. He is essentially
saying "I want it my way or there will be no deal." That's
irresponsible, toxic and demeaning to others on the supercommittee with
whom he agreed to work.
Three quick reactions. First, I hope
Senator Kyl reconsiders; his legacy deserves more than to be punctuated
near its end by tantrums that are beneath him and the institutional
character of the Senate.
Second, the Senator needs to think back
to his positions on the Iraq War, the surge, and the various upticks he
has demanded -- and often secured -- in defense appropriations. He has
never, to my knowledge, worried about the income part of the equation to
balance out the national security spending he was engineering.
Osama bin Laden's acolytes changed the world and America with their
attack on US targets on September 11, 2001, the United States has spent
-- just in appropriated Pentagon dollars and not taking account of large
expenditures in other security accounts -- $2.263 trillion ABOVE
what it was already spending on national security before 9/11. This is
on a cash basis -- out the door -- and does not account for ongoing
obligations to veterans and other delayed costs that Joseph Stiglitz and
Linda Bilmes often mention in their cost assessments of the Iraq and
Kyl should have been the tenacious, never
give up, never surrender Senator who demanded not only more spending on
the Pentagon but also more revenue to pay for it. He has done almost
nothing that I know of to commit his core constituents -- many on the
wealthier end of America's economic teeter-totter -- to providing more
resources for the kind of national security investments Kyl demands.
while I don't share the world view that Jon Kyl has, I agree with him
that national security investments and capacity are important. If he
focuses only on dollars -- then Americans -- whether on the political
right or left -- will ultimately not feel that they are getting a good
return on tax dollars spent. Dollars do not automatically equate to