Inviting disaster

A few weeks ago an editorial here decried the planned cuts in both the Defense Department’s budget and the number of active duty military personnel in the Army.

It was a bit surprising to read Monday that despite Vladimir Putin’s bellicosity in Ukraine, the administration is blithely going ahead with the planned cuts.

In fact, according to a story Monday on the Honolulu Star-Advertiser’s website, the earlier announced levels of active duty troops may be 20,000 lower than the figure announced two weeks ago (420,000 vs. 440,000) if sequestration goes on into 2016.

The story also related that over $200 million in military construction for Hawaii would be cut out of the new budget. Included in those cuts would be a cut from $26 million to $14 million for the Maui Space Surveillance System.

Rep. Colleen Hanabusa was quoted as saying the cuts are “inconsistent with our nation’s stated goal of a re-balance to the Asia-Pacific region.”

We’d argue that the cuts are inconsistent with maintaining an image of strength and dependability to the world.

One small piece of Monday’s story was particularly bothersome. The head of the Pacific Command, Adm. Samuel Locklear III, was quoted as telling a congressional committee that the United States is waning as a global maritime power. Because of depressed readiness, crisis response “has not been available to the level that I would consider acceptable risk.”

With troop levels and defense spending falling, the U.S. is marching right back to the disastrous isolationism of the 1930s. The planned cuts will bring our troop levels below where they were before World War II.

As we look weaker, tinhorn dictators in places like Syria and North Korea will be emboldened. Bullies like Vladimir Putin will thumb their noses at the world and gobble up their neighbors.

Congress and the administration need to stop these cuts. This is no time for a sign of weakness.

* Editorials reflect the opinion of the publisher.