This news story first appeared on November 30, 2012. For more information click here.
By Katelyn Gough, SMU Daily Campus; December 5, 2012
The phrase “fiscal cliff” has dominated much of the nation’s political news recently, and so have talks surrounding the defense budget in light of international conflict.
The John Goodwin Tower Center’s National Security Conference held on campus several weeks ago, zeroed in on the close relations between the two. Professor James Hollifield said that since the conference, talk surrounding the defense budget and its dependence on the issues regarding the fiscal cliff has continued and escalated.
“If we go off this so-called fiscal cliff, are there going to be deep cuts in the defense budget?”
Hollifield said it’s that question that is dominating many negotiations between “the president and the Republican Party.”
“The fear is that budgets are going to overwhelm stratedy,” Hollifield said.
Admiral Patrick Walsh, keynote speaker at the conference and a Tower Center fellow, said that the key factors in having the defense the country needs are forces, strategy and budget.
“All three have to work together,” Walsh said.
According to Walsh, changes in international relations over the past few decades currently drives much of what is required of the country’s defense. With the rise of nation-states and groups like al-Qaeda, he said the U.S. must take a proactive role in preparing defense.
“It is very important as we look at potential threats and risks in the future that we encapsulate the same framework,” Walsh said of keeping what works and developing new strategies for what doesn’t.
He explained that international tensions created by things like “the association with radical Islam” and other terrorist groups “is a problem that continues to linger,” and it requires far more devotion and commitment than many are willing to provide.
“It is not going to go away because we make changes to the budget or strategy,” he said. “It is a problem we are going to need to continue to pace ourselves for with a sustainable approach.”
He emphasized “the rise of the nation state,” which Walsh said stems from “an unresolved sense of national identity, integrity, and wholeness”. Cases of civil issues internationally now come with “the rise of armies and navies” thus creating an entirely new challenge to the U.S. defense plan.
“We do have to be prepared strategically for a surprise,” Walsh said.
Taking a proactive role comes back to the need for a resolved, effective defense budget and strategy Hollifield said.
He said solving the budget questions is something of immediate importance. Walsh asserted that “if we don’t have a plan to get across the fiscal cliff,” then the country is at risk of damaging “either the economy or the industrial base.” He said that would be nearly impossible to bounce back from.
“We have to do this now,” Walsh said. “We cannot afford to allow ourselves to get to the point that you cannot recover.”