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A National Security Budget for America in Retreat

The Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget is a 180-page document that mentions the word “threat” 44 times and yet never uses “threat” or the words “enemy” or “adversary” with explicit reference to Russia and Communist China. This is not a blueprint that protects the American people or makes enemies think twice about threatening our allies in Taiwan, Japan, Israel, or the Baltics.  

The Budget follows the Annual Threat Assessment of the Director of National Intelligence that identifies climate change as an equal or greater danger to the American people than the Chinese Communist Party or the theocratic fanatics in Tehran. In a Tweet posted by the Secretary of the Army on March 2 while visiting Fort Bragg, home of the 82nd Airborne Division and Army Special Operations Command, one would have expected her to assess the readiness of the Army’s premier conventional division and special forces. No. Instead, she tweeted to the world that “A priority for me and our Army is #resiliency in the face of climate change. At #FortBragg, we have the largest floating solar array in the Southeast United States. This is just one of many examples of how our Army #LeadsFromTheFront in climate innovation and adaptation.” A pointed Twitter response was that “These are not serious people.”

The “existential threat” mentioned at the top of the second page of the Budget calls for no less than $23 billion towards “climate resilience” across the Departments of the Interior, Agriculture, Homeland Security, and Defense. It also calls for $1.6 billion to the Green Climate Fund and a $1.2 billion loan to the Clean Technology Fund.

But that is just the tip of the iceberg of what makes the Biden Administration’s Fiscal Year 2024 Budget so dangerous. Dangerous at a time when America faces more extreme national security threats than could ever be mounted by the sclerotic old Soviet Union. Not only does it underfund critical defense investments, especially in this inflationary environment, but it also spends less of America’s GDP on defense than at any time in ...-World War II era. Not even the Jimmy Carter Defense Budget reached these depths. 

The Budget calls for $3 billion (atop nearly $3 billion the Biden Administration requested for DEI programs last year) for promoting “gender equity and equality” and more than $8 billion “to recruit, retain, and develop a diverse and high-caliber national security workforce …” These phrases are code words for an effort to embed the woke agenda that is currently tearing the military apart. Don’t take my word for it; just follow the actions of the Secretary of the Air Force, who is now tracking promotions from a “Race, Equity And Gender Standpoint.”

Fifty billion dollars is offered to the “Partnership for Global Infrastructure and Investment,” which works in partnership with the private sector to “advance climate and energy security” and “gender equity and equality,” as well as whatever the Administration defines as “health and health security,” “digital connectivity,” and “transportation infrastructure.” In the meantime, we have the smallest Navy since 1938, the oldest Air Force in our history, and our military readiness and munitions accounts are devastated. Our leaders in the field — not those in the Pentagon — sound the alarm that we are on the precipice of being outgunned on the oceans, in the air, and in space. 

As the Wall Street Journal points out regarding the underfunding of defense, Biden’s budget defense allocations are a “3.2% increase over last year, and with inflation at 6%, it means a decline in buying power. Compare the 3.2% growth with the double-digit increases for domestic accounts: 19% for the Environmental Protection Agency; 13.6% for both the Education and Energy Departments; 11.5% for Health and Human Services.”  

Rather than funding border security, the Budget talks of “hemispheric migration management.” This would send more than $4 billion to Central America and over $10 billion elsewhere “to respond to the persisting needs of the world’s most vulnerable, including those needs arising from conflict and natural disasters.”

And yet, much as we have seen over the last two years, many of those conflicts emerged because the Biden Administration has opened America’s southern frontier. Now they simply want to continue writing blank checks to their acolytes abroad with no accountability or solutions.

The silver lining of the Budget, however meager, is the sustained $3 billion in support for Israel. But there is a catch: $259 million to the Palestinians “in support of a two-state solution with Israel,” and no mention of building on the Abraham Accords. This proposal is being made while the faculty lounge lunacy that passes for American diplomacy pushes old allies like Saudi Arabia into the waiting arms of the Chinese communists.

The Budget also sets $37 billion aside for a nuclear deterrent that appears more relevant than at any time since Reagan and another $23.8 billion for the Department of Energy’s nuclear work. But these last slivers of sanity, as important as they are, should be just the first steps for a roadmap that treats the world as it is, not as activists and professors think it should be.

Golda Meir famously said that if someone repeatedly tells you he wants to kill you believe him. The Chinese, Russians, and Iranians are telling us exactly what they want to do to us, and the priorities in this Budget will not give them any sleepless nights.  

Author Biography

Robert Wilkie served in the Trump Administration as the 10th Secretary of Veterans Affairs and as the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness. He currently serves as Distinguished Fellow in the Center for American Security at the America First Policy Institute.



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