'As US Secretary of Defense James Mattis made a case for more military funding to counter countries threatening “America’s experiment in democracy,” some members of the House Armed Services Committee questioned the expense.
“In a world awash in change and increasing threats, there is no room for complacency.” Mattis said in his opening statement, naming the threats as “rogue regimes such as North Korea and Iran,” Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS) and “long-term strategic competition with China and Russia.”
He argued that the lack of predictable funding has “eroded” US advantages in technology and warfighting, and pleaded with the lawmakers to pass a military budget.
“Without sustained, predictable appropriations, my presence here today wastes your time,” Mattis said, adding, “no strategy can survive without the funding necessary to resource it.”
Congress has approved the $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act in December, but an actual budget for the fiscal year 2018 has not been adopted, making the military and the rest of the government reliant on continuing resolutions.
Not all of the committee members were convinced of Mattis’ approach to conflict deterrence.
Representative Adam Smith (D-Washington) criticized the defense secretary’s claim that the US was facing the rise of new global powers.
“I don’t believe great power rivalry equals endless arms race,” Smith said. “It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. How do we know we have to build massive weapons? We’re not talking to [Russia and China] so we have to presume the worst.”
He also questioned Mattis’ commitment to diplomacy and dialogue as a form of national security and accused the Pentagon of effectively trying to “gut” the departments of State and the Homeland Security.
By pandering to the demands of the Defense Department, “we are degrading diplomacy” he added, calling the disregard for diplomacy “patently absurd and insulting.”'
Read more: 'Country is heading for bankruptcy': Lawmakers question military spending
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