tv Inside Story Al Jazeera February 19, 2016 6:30pm-7:01pm EST
maybe taste catholic upbringing or whatever, but i feel like-- maybe it's - i feel like i have to give back natalie merchant thank you for talking to us. >> thank you. ♪ ♪ ♪ there comes a time in every republican candidate's debate when the state of the u.s. military comes up. and thus becomes a candidate to candidate serial lament over how bad it is ill equipped, demoralized, weak, in need of a lot more money a lot more stuff. the audience applauds but is it true, is american military decline in absolute terms or
compared to rivals around the world, real? a giant in decline? it's the "inside story." welcome to "inside story." i'm ray suarez. one of the most widely held opinions among the candidates in the large republican field vying for the republican nomination is simple, that president obama has presided over an era of decline in u.s. military. planes and ships, as simple numerical evidence, power and preeminence, at the recent debates i watched the candidates broadly agree and insisting insg
they're the once to less well equipped, is this kind of thing easy to allege but difficult to quantify, is the united states a giant in decline? as senator marco rubio would have it, on purpose because president obama's actual aim is to make the country weaker, take away its head and shoulders above the rest military status? hey, it's a campaign. the idea that you're the guy to fix things is not unusual, it's the diagnose what i find unusual, of weakness of disarray. >> i would restore the military. the sequester needs to be reversed. i would have a strategy to destroy i.s.i.s. and i would immediately create a strategy of containment in iran and make it clear that we're not going to allow for iran to do what it's doing, moving towards a nuclear
weapon. >> we need overwhelming air power, we need to arm the kurds our boots on the ground and if arms are necessary then we should deploy them. but it should not be politicians, it should be military expert judgment carrying out the judgment set out by the commander in chief. >> around the world, america's judgment is in decline. iran captures our soldiers and parades us around the world on video. >> rudy de leon and mark cancion. rudy de leon do our adversaries not fear us? >> well, we're in the middle of an election season and it's entirely appropriate that military is part of the debate. but the difficulties brought in
the face of the american military are formidable. our reconnaissance networks and again the exaiivelts of our pilots and other military personnel engaged the americans are the most form tabl military in the world, the vice chairman of the joint chiefs said that verlast week. 15 years of war, still living in a turbulent middle east, dealing with a russia that is a wild car card, a north korea that continues to agitate asia and the pacific with its nuclear program and then china which is pushing back into areas of the south china sea. so it's a turbulent world but i think america is still leading and still the preeminent military of the world.
>> mark cancion, hold on a minute that's not true or that guy has a point. >> well, you have to recognize that this is a primary season and of course the whe recognizes often very exaggerated. there is a gap between the strategy that has evolved the last couple of years and the resourcing that's available for military, particularly as we look out into the future. as rudy notes, we've had changes. russia has become aggressive, china, and i.s.i.s. has had battlefield successes that we didn't expect. if we are going to continue to have a rebalancing to the pacific to reassure our allies there, and if we are going to reassure the eastern european nations that we will defend them, that's going to take more
spending and more military force than the obama administration had planned on. >> or there's money for. i mean when you say that there's a gap, between what we want the military to do, what we expect it to be ready to do, and what it's able to do right now, isn't that something where the responsibility, the burden, is widely spread? >> absolutely. i think both parties bear responsibility for this. the republicans of course push the budget control act in 2011 that took a lot of money out of the defense. yes, the president did sign it but it was driven by the republicans and kept in force by the republicans. on the other hand the president has tied defense spending with domestic spending. he is holding hostage with his defense spending, if he could get a deal to just increase defense he could have done that. >> rudy de leon, you are
insisting on the preeminence of the american military. mark came back with this idea that the mission right now exceeds the ability. are both things true? >> well, to a certain extent. the question, go to a lot of engagement both of us have worked in the pentagon, both of us are engaged in the national security debate that goes on whether it's an election year or not. say the way the discussion is currently framed in washington, away from the campaign trail but still, in terms of looking at future military capabilities, one side says we are still the largest, most modern, strongest military in the world. and the other says, there aren't enough forces and capabilities to deal with all of the threats in the world. middle east, russia, south china sea, north korean peninsula. so both of those have merits. it's a question of where the united states should deploy and use its military resources, are
we actively engaged in military operation he ors or are we deteg pad things from happening? as mark noted it would be great in our european partners could be a little bit more generous in terms of resourcing their security. in ways that actually the rebalance of the pacific has been quiek successful at completely reengaging the primacy of the u.s. security relationship in asia pacific, vietnam, the philippines, japan, very much engaged in the national security framework in asia pacific since the obama initiative was announced in australia in 2011. but to your core question, we're still -- the debate is still divided between those who say we are the largest military in the world versus these threats out there that american leadership is critical an we're going to have to generate the resources
and capability to deal with all of those threats. >> when we hear candidates talking about the number of ships, the number of planes, the number of people in uniform, and use this as a metric for relativelrestrelative decline, e numbers going to be getting smaller all the time? >> it's headed down to notionally, 450,000, now after every war the army gets smaller so that's not surprising. on the other hand, on 9/11 the army was at 482,000 and even at that level it was stressed because of demands made on it for bosnia, kosovo, all the
other global commitments the united states had made. we are talking about taking the army down stanley from what it was on 9/11. the world doesn't look a whole lot more peaceful than it was on 9/11. so yes, it is true that the force has come down. but that's to be expected. but the level looks lower than the current strategy really requires. >> the numbers game is interesting. because i guess, and, you know, i'd plead that from the beginning that i'm not a military analyst or a military expert. but what we expect troops to do has some bearing on how many there have to be, right? >> absolutely. but as i said -- >> because we didn't invade bosnia or fight there. we were involved. and that's very differently from occupying a country as we've done with several countries. >> that's true. but you still had to send troops over there. and they had to be ready to fight. they were separated from their families, they had a rotation.
the demands on the army were pretty substantial on 9/11. and we are now looking to make the army a lot smaller, they are going to be now in at least one shooting war. >> i want to hear from you when we come back on just that question. big enough, and big enough to do what. a giant in decline. stay with us. it's "inside story."
>> you're watching "inside story." i'm ray suarez. we're trying to get a better handle on american abilities when it comes to defense. national security, the projection of power, the fulfillment of explicit and implicit national responsibilities. rudy de leon and mark cancion are still with me. when we hear because of russian aggression in eastern europe, the united states must be more present. what does that take? we're not going to retake the crimea. we are not going to help expel russia from the donbas. how many people do we have to show if we're channeling the george h.w. bush that we care?
>> we communicate that we support our allies in the region. very early after the russian move into the crimea we had national guard units from the united states that wept and engaged in military training and military exercises with poland, which is now the eastern front of nato, a critical partner and a country that has really stepped up to be active in its own security. so in some cases it's showing up, it's engaging in exercises, it is working with our allies and i think particularly in terms of the russian activities, and their own sort of reckless aggression, it is staying in touch with our nato allies. our allies to the east, poland in particular, have really stepped up to meeting these responsibilities. some of our traditional allies that mark was referencing that are only spending 1% of their resources on defense and personnel, are taking for
granted that the united states will always lead. and we will. because we're not going to step back. i think the challenge is to be able to have enough forces and match the forces and those resources with what the threats are that are critical for the american people to see their armed forces deploy and serve overseas. >> so in a very real sense vladimir putin makes the american taxpayers spend money. >> i think that's true. >> so the question is do we have to be fully ready when he does that or respond with contingent forces? say okay, you did that thing. so now we'll put reserves into action, we'll mobilize, things that normally sit in tampa or central texas or michigan. how come we have to do the most expensive thing instead of the least expensive thing if what we're doing is saying, we're still here and we still matter?
>> i think we're doing the medium expensive thing. the issue is the baltic states. the baltic states are part of nato. the united states has treaty obligations to defend them. whether it was wise to extend those treaty obligations so far east, that's 15 years in the past. >> and nobody ever leaves nato? >> and nobody ever leave necessitating. the obligation to defend them, russia is right there and these countries are very vulnerable. particularly lath via aand estonia. we are going to build up cs they will train with the baltics and they'll go home and we'll put equipment into warehouses so that if we ever had to get there we could fly the people in, the equipment would already be there. that makes aa statement to the
russians about u.s. commitment. because the problem is if the russians could get to riga in three days which is what the estimates are, csis did a study on this, so did rand, and they essentially kick us out of the baltics, fighting our way back in is much, much more costly. it's much better to defend forward. >> in conversations that go on around this is there somebody in the room that is saying, come on they are not only in nato, they arhave europeans in their pocke. the idea that russia is in riga is off the charts, not going to happen. >> it's as unlikely the russians being in the crimea. >> isn't it different than russians being in the eu? isn't that right rudy de leon?
>> historically, the american presence has been to deter conflict, by prepositioning our forces in nato and in europe really from the time of 1948 through end of the cold war. but we're still there in europe in significant numbers. during the cold war we had 700,000 troops in europe, now it's closer to 200,000. but also, i think one of the big initiatives that congress has directed and that secretary ash carter is very much implementing is as we look at our ground forces, our army, we're looking at the active duty component but also we're making sure that the national guard units that were so critical in supporting the active duty in iraq and in afghanistan, are capable and ready to be deployed as a strategic operational reserve. this is very important that the army is using all of the tools in its bench. the core security concept i
think for the americans is always to deper conflict, to -- deter conflict to prevent it from occurring. not to where we are looking across the line. our forces today, that is one of our priorities. at the same time, we are dealing with a russia that is economically now dealing with $30 a barrel per oil that doesn't have a lot of financial resources. so as we did during the cold war, america can always play the long, long game. the combination of economic capabilities, plus our superb soldiers, marines am air men, coast guard, navy, air force, to play the long game. but we always want to make sure that our forces are ready, that we have the capabilities to move and deter conflict and we don't move in a time of crisis. >> stay with us, it's the "inside story."
rudy de leon and mark cancion are still with me. mark sometimes there is a circularring argument that's used in this conversation, that america has 100 base around the world. they say what do we need 100 bases around the world for? the answer is because we have responsibilities in those areas, and we are there, and we are there because we have responsibilities in those areas. why don't the filipino filipinoy about the south china sea, the senegalese worry about west africa, should the americans be everywhere all the time? >> i'm not sure we are everywhere all the time. there's no question, filipinos carefilipinoscare about the sou.
they don't have the means to go up against the chinese which is a rising military power. the united states gets a lot of benefits out of being globally deployed. and ensuring that the international system based on rules is followed. >> i understand that. but do we, since we have a tradition of civilian oversight, ever really have a thorough conversation about the costs of those responsibilities and weigh them against the benefits of those responsibilities that you've just been talking about? >> well, i think we do. i mean if you look at the primaries that are going on, sanders clearly would pull back on those responsibilities. and rand paul similarly would have done so. for very different reasons but they would have ended up in the same place. so those have been debated. the problem is that's not where most of the american people are. >> it probably tells you
something that rand paul is out of the race and bernie sanders in some cases is leading the democratic debate. >> we need to have a debate about security and about the economy, particularly here in washington. for the last eight years while our men and women in uniform have been working very hard overseas and they never let us down, washington hasn't been able to produce a budget. the core of our military strength our economic strength. and budget we've been dealing with sequestration, with continuing resolutions, sort of crises over the debt. we really need to get our economic house in order because the strongest component of our national security historically from the end of world war ii to today has been the strength of our national economy. >> the sequester has meant that military spending has grown more slowly than it probably would
have otherwise. why isn't that a good thing for everybody the services to learn how to economize? >> it isn't doing budget reductions smartly. better is to figure out what your top line is going to be and then figure out as it might help you close some of those 100 bases, to figure out what is the best way to deal with the resources that you have. to divide between personnel, between modernization, between military operations. but we've been in this unusual terperiod of continuing budget appropriations where the regular order is not in effect, and so it does not allow you or force you to make tradeoffs. you want to make sure your soldiers are trained, equipped, ready to go. at the same time, if you have got 100 bases and you only need 70 you want to be able to make that calculation. >> there is a mandarinite, if
you will, to talk about what's going on how the money gets spent, how we rationalize this situation. the people have a different concept, if there's a gap a word you used at the beginning of the program many mark cancion, that would be a good place to close, where people could come along with defense officials and understand what we're going to spend for it. >> maybe i'm jeffersonian about this, but the people said they would want the worst to end and elected officials to do that. i think they're getting a little bit nervous what's happening around the world and are inclined to put more money back into defense. it is true there is a conversation that occurs among
the washington mandarins but i think it's enough of that getting into the populace that they're able to choose wisely. >> could we do with a better debate over defense? >> what we need to do is talk about america's role in the world. both parties talk about leadership. the challenge is how do we do that? through our diplomats, through our uniform military personnel? through the media, where we have these debates regularly? we really do need to look at what do we want that role to be, and then decide how we're willing to match resources to that role. >> i want to thank my guests, rudy de leon is senior fellow and mark cancion is a senior advisor. with the republican primary in south carolina and the nevada
caucuses, we'll wrap it up monday on "inside story." i'm ray suarez, thank you for joining us, good knight. night. fp >> this is al jazeera america live from new york city. i'm tony harris. airstrikes in libya, and u.s. war planes target an isil training camp, likely killing a commander. an unanimous deal reaching an agreement that could keep them in the european union. and paying respect, justice antonin scalia. and freed,