We live in a very deep red Congressional district. In 2018 our Congressman Jim Banks won re-election by a margin of nearly 2-1. We voted for Congressman Banks and as his constituents we watch closely to see how he is representing us. That has led to a troubling contradiction. Jim Banks is frequently talking about the national debt, like in this tweet:
National Debt – $22 trillion +
Today, I met with @POTUS to discuss how we can work together to tackle out of control spending.
My statement👇🏼 pic.twitter.com/hUXfojMWVr
— Jim Banks (@RepJimBanks) March 6, 2019
But the same Congressman is proposing a massive increase in the size of the Navy, what he calls his Five Ocean Strategy that is apparently aimed at ensuring U.S. dominance not just in the oceans that are adjacent to America but to every open body of water in the world. His proposal not only maintains our position as the world’s most powerful navy, by a wide margin I would add, he proposes increasing the size of the Navy to 400 ships, a level we haven’t seen in a quarter century. A 400 ship Navy is built for either a massive naval war against an enemy that doesn’t exist or is intended to have the U.S. Navy expand the role of global guarantor of every waterway in the world.
“As the Navy reassesses their 355-ship plan, the Department of Defense must think strategically about global maritime threats. It is clear to me that at least 400 Navy ships are required to achieve strategic success to address the challenges outlined in the National Defense Strategy. The President and Congress need to act quickly to prepare our Navy for a great power competition against technologically advanced enemies.
“A larger Navy will require a serious investment in the American industrial base to give our military the fleet of warships it needs to win the naval battles of tomorrow. According to a September 2018 White House Study, ‘Industries involved in the manufacturing of shipbuilding components were among the hardest hit by the global shift in the industrial base over the last 20 years.’ We must support our industrial base with innovative technological capabilities to adapt to the future requirements of the force.
“The Five Ocean Navy Strategy encourages the Department of Defense to strengthen our shipbuilding program to address our aging Navy, and the global strategic challenges posed by adversaries both near and far.”
This foolhardy strategy is incompatible with a policy of debt reduction. The Navy alone already has a budget of over $150 billion, an amount greater than the total military budget of every other nation on Earth except China and it is likely very close to the total China spends annually. The total Russian budget is around $65 billion or less than half of just our Naval budget, which is itself only a fraction of the total U.S. military budget that exceeds $600,000,000,000 annually.
Clearly something needs to give here.
Meanwhile our southern border remains porous. A reported 76,000 illegal aliens attempted border crossings in February. Over a 12 month time that is nearly one million illegals and the real number is much higher. We are being swamped by an invading force from the south but my conservative Congressman is talking about spending billions of dollars to protect the Indian and Antarctic Oceans. Our “allies” in South Korea, Australia and Japan are adjacent in the Pacific Ocean and much closer to the Indian Ocean than the U.S. and are all prosperous nations. Why can’t they pony up some money to keep those waters clear? We give Israel over $3,000,000,000 every year and they are an advanced nation with a high per capita GDP and we get nothing from our “alliance”. Why can’t Israel help keep the southern seas open? More broadly speaking, why is one nation, a nation already in debt up to our eyeballs to the tune of $22 trillion, apparently the only nation that must spend ourselves into fiscal calamity to keep the world’s oceans safe? We shower the rest of the world with money, over $50 billion annually, and we spend over $600 billion on our military to keep the peace and in thanks for that we get flooded with illegal aliens and “refugees” who come to our nation and screech about how awful it is.
I am in favor of withdrawing most of our forces from overseas bases, getting out of the brushfire conflicts in Africa and cutting military spending substantially, using a serious chunk of those funds to defend the border. I am not in favor of increasing the size of the Navy so we can patrol the entire world. I have been expressing my disappointment with Jim Banks on social media and yesterday I sent him this letter. We cannot afford to defend every stretch of water in the world and doubly so when we aren’t even defending our own nation.
Text of our letter to Congressman Banks:
Dear Congressman Banks
We are writing you today to express our concern over your proposal to vastly increase the size of the U.S. Navy as part of your “Five Ocean Strategy”. Just yesterday you tweeted and posted on Facebook your concerns about the national debt, a concern we strongly share. The two greatest threats to American national security are the undefended southern border and the crippling national debt, but you frequently post about increasing the size of the U.S. Navy at the same time you urge fiscal responsibility.
We cannot be a nation that is simultaneously $22 trillion in debt, and climbing by the second, and taking on the sole responsibility of securing every stretch of open water in the world. It is difficult to see how you can talk about the need for fiscal responsibility while at the same time proposing massive new spending to increase the size of our Navy. We already have more than double the number of carriers that the rest of the nations of the world possesses and ours are of far higher quality.
America has no mandate to be the sole protector of the world’s waterways. We allegedly have many partners and allies in places like the U.K., France, Israel, Japan and South Korea. These nations can and should spend a significant amount to defend the adjacent waterways that they use rather than relying on the U.S. to do all of the heavy lifting.
Any claim to be concerned with fiscal responsibility accompanied by a desire to increase military spending is empty rhetoric. We cannot afford the military we already field and there is no way we can increase it’s size without hastening our national insolvency. As your constituents our top priorities are immigration control and the national debt, not defending the Indian Ocean. We both supported you in the last election but are concerned that your priorities are not lined up with what we hoped for. We strongly urge you to abandon calls to inflate the budget of the Navy and focus your efforts on protecting America first.