Yesterday, Representative Barney Frank delivered a speech at the Center for American Progress on defense spending priorities. Though (only hours after the president’s announcement that Osama bin Laden had been killed) the issue may not have been the first on everyone’s minds, Frank made the case that it is all the more relevant in light of the US’ recent success.
Calling for a reduction of $200 billion a year from the current Pentagon spending amount of roughly $700 billion per year, Frank said that the United States should reevaluate its commitment to foreign military bases and large deployments of troops overseas, as well as the structure of NATO. In addition, Frank would like to see a large chunk of that $200 billion reduction come from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Having killed Osama bin Laden deprives people who want us to stay in Afghanistan for other reasons of the argument that we would be leaving in defeat,” said Frank, noting that this was a major victory for the president, who might want to “call President Bush and ask if he can borrow the ‘Mission Accomplished’ banner.”
Though the threat of terrorism is still very real, Frank argued that it is not exactly the type of threat that is fought using the most costly weapons. “I wish you could defeat terrorists with nuclear submarines,” said Frank, “because we have a lot of nuclear submarines and they don’t have any nuclear submarines.”
Other lawmakers were less quick to seize on the Afghanistan angle. “The urgency of finding those savings will remain there and won’t be affected by this,” said Senator Carl Levin, saying that the deficit would need to be reduced whether bin Laden was dead or alive.