It is a pretty basic sweet spot for the American left; defense spending steals money from the neediest Americans. In a society which no longer is familiar with military service it is an easy sell. Once America had the "Greatest Generation" which sacrificed mightily to win a global scale war. Everyone had a father, brother, son or uncle who served. It was an exception when someone hadn't served in the military and people freely questioned why not.
That was when we had four decades of Cold War in which few doubted that there was a very large enemy which was only held at bay by America's strength, technology, manpower and training.
We can certainly debate the validity of American involvement in Korea, Southeast Asia, Panama, Grenada, Kosovo, Iraq, and deployed throughout Europe. But we can also notice that nuclear war was in fact deterred, the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact collapsed, China became a capitalist economy and world communism is virtually extinct. The few last strongholds of communist government are economic backwaters and societal jokes.
Along the way we can also note that no American ground troops have been subjected to attack from enemy air. No American ships have been sunk by enemy naval forces. And loses in ground combat have numbered in handfuls rather than thousands. Any loss is deplorable but if inevitability of losses in active defense is acknowledged than fewer is clearly better.
Now the Messiah is feeling a dissatisfied electorate breathing down his neck. He needs to strengthen his base and appeal to the "go along to get along" semi-pacifist moderates. What better way than to stand before us surrounded by his bedecked sycophantic Chiefs of the Joint Staffs and tell us he is going to slash defense spending, bestrew roses and laurels among the downtrodden masses and simultaneously keep the wolf from our door?
We'll Cut A Third, Defend with Air/Sea, and Not Buy Ships or Planes
He is going to cut a third of the manpower of the entire military and not lose capability? He somehow links this savings to withdrawal from Iraq and Afghanistan, which except for the immediate pre-war build-ups of Desert Storm and Iraqi Freedom never used that many personnel. He doesn't notice that deployments from garrison mean when the deployment is over you bring the troops back to base to train and re-equip for the next contingency. You don't simply dismantle your force.
He says we will be a better defense but won't embrace a "two-war" strategy which has served us, at least nominally, for the last 70 years. Is it even reasonable to equate Iraq and Afghanistan from 2005 until today with a "two-war" situation? Is Iran a potential large-scale conflict? If we were dragged into confrontation with Iran would Korea take a number and wait to test us? And let's not even notice China.
He describes an air/sea battle doctrine which eschews ground forces in favor of power projection by sea and employment by air while at the same time cutting a carrier battle group and essentially emasculating the F-35 procurement. He anticipates doing this and also saving money by cutting pay, retirement and promised benefits.
No one questions him.
They simply nod and snap their fingers. They've been told that snapping their fingers keeps the elephants away. The look around and see no elephants. They believe.