Coalition for the Common Defense
Statement of Principles

Today our nation faces the greatest fiscal crisis in its history, a debt of such magnitude that it threatens a standard of living that has become a hallmark of what it means to be an American.

That standard has been secured, however, by the United States military. Without provision for the “common defense,” as articulated by the Founders, the freedom that has allowed unprecedented opportunity and prosperity to flourish in this country would soon be imperiled.

In a world characterized by growing threats to freedom and the U.S. Constitution, America’s exceptional role, and indeed our country’s very existence, is at risk.  For example:

·        Rogue states Iran and North Korea threaten their neighbors and seek international concessions to their conduct through blackmail with weapons of mass destruction.

·        Such weapons – perhaps including ballistic missiles with which to deliver them – may soon find their way into the hands of terrorists willing to use them.  If so, we could be subjected to  a high-altitude electromagnetic pulse attack, with catastrophic effects for our country and its people.

·        China’s unprecedented military buildup threatens the region, while a reemergent Russia seeks to reassert its dominance across the borders of the old Soviet Union.

·        Terrorism and insurgency frustrates any development of self-government in the Middle East or such expressions find themselves violently suppressed by authoritarian rulers.

·        Cyber-attacks present risks to communications, financial and other data networks that could further compromise an already-teetering international economy as well as national security assets that employ them.

In short, threats to the United States and the world are escalating, not regressing.  Nonetheless, the notion has emerged that a panacea to America’s fiscal woes can be found in stripping national security of the priority it was assigned in the Constitution and the funding necessary to meet that requirement.

Even as these threats intensify, the United States military has undertaken $350-$400 billion in cuts imposed by the current administration.  These cuts have already compromised our ability as a nation to carry out current missions.  Now, the recently enacted “Budget Control Act of 2011” has empowered a congressional “super committee” to devise federal budget cuts in an effort to rein in the nation’s skyrocketing debt.  Unfortunately, this legislation effectively guarantees that the burden of such cuts falls disproportionately upon the military – whether in the form of the proposal that super committee may devise or, in the event of its rejection, in the form of the “sequestration” provisions mandated by the law.

We believe these budget priorities reveal a shortsightedness that puts the nation in danger.  Economic prosperity depends on a strong national defense.  Without the liberty our military secures, economic growth and prosperity are likely to prove unsustainable, irrespective of our fiscal condition.  Consequently, present and emerging dangers internationally make a robust national security posture essential to our future wellbeing.  It is not simply ill-advised to consider the necessary investments in defense as bill-payers to avoid cuts in entitlements and discretionary domestic spending; it is reckless.

In particular, the deep cuts that have already been made in the national security accounts, let alone those now in prospect, risk returning the armed services to the “hollow force” days of the post-Vietnam era.  Most immediately, they imperil the courageous men and women who volunteer to defend our country by denying them the modern, effective weapons they need to perform their missions safely and effectively.  Inevitably, outdated arms, equipment and other shortages will metastasize from isolated instances of under-supplied and ill-equipped units and warfighters to ultimately greater peril for the nation they serve, because – as history has taught – our weakness is provocative.

Given these misguided ideas, misplaced priorities and poorly-designed remedies, we oppose the headlong rush to rectify past budget mismanagement and shortfalls at the expense of the armed forces.  We reject the false choice between military strength and economic health.

We call on elected officials, candidates for office and others who share our commitment to the common defense to join us.  We must return the United States to sensible fiscal principles without sacrificing our national security.