This is a rush transcript from "Glenn Beck," April 15, 2010. This copy may not be in its final form and may be updated.
GLENN BECK, HOST: Anybody who tells you that they haven't changed — anybody who hasn't changed their mind on something, especially over a long period of time, is either lying to you or they're dead. We all change. That's the point. We all learn.
In the last five years, I have — I've gone from a big hawk to not Ron Paul, but on the road to Ron Paul. Part of it is motivated by we can't spend it anymore. The other part, honestly, is I wasn't paying attention before 9/11. I didn't know what the heck was going on in the world. Now, I'm paying attention.
When people said they hate us, well, did we deserve 9/11? No. But were we minding our business? No. Were we in bed with dictators that abandoned or values and principles? Yes. That causes problems.
So, here it is if, I'm king of the world, don't screw with us. And when we fight, we'll fight to win and then come home. No nation-building, no U.N.-building. That's it. Those are my — that's my policy stuff off the top of my head.
Now, we got a couple of guests. First of all, the director of tax policy studies for the Cato Institute, we have Chris Edwards. And then, he's also the author of "Downsizing the Federal Government" and DownSizingGovernment.org.
And then, also, we have Justin Logan. He's associate director for the foreign policy studies, also at the Cato Institute.
So, this is — these are the things that you guys have been working on. The things that we've laid out, you have worked on this for quite some time, trying to put these policies together. This is what my gut tells me we should do. How far — how far apart are we?
CHRIS EDWARDS, "DOWNSIZING THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT": I think you are absolutely right on all of your points, Glenn. I would say this, that the cost is enormous — $700 billion a year. The defense budget has doubled in the last nine years.
And here is what economists would tell you. Defense spending is damaging to the economy. A lot of people think that, oh, defense spending is good because it creates jobs. It's only welfare and subsidiaries that are bad.
In fact, any economist would tell you that — you know, the defense budget damages the economy by $700 billion a year. It sucks all that money out of the private economy and puts it in the government economy.
Now, we need some defense, but it really is damaging to the economy to have such a big military.
BECK: Right. Let's see if we're apart on this.
I still want to be the biggest, baddest dog on the block. I mean, I have no intention of losing our position as — I mean it. I'm not going to screw with the rest of the world. I'm going to get out.
If it were my world, I'd get out of all of that stuff. We don't need to do that. We're going to find our own reserves here. We'll do all of that stuff, but don't screw with us.
We still have a big military. You still are cool with having the best equipment and the best trained —
EDWARDS: Oh, absolutely.
BECK: OK. I'm not talking about gutting us.
EDWARDS: I think, you know, Justin would tell us that what we will be
— have higher security with a — if we pull back the foreign troops and we focus on, you know, real defense.
BECK: Sure. I mean, in Japan, they hate us. In Japan, they're always complaining about us.
JUSTIN LOGAN, CATO INSTITUTE, FOREIGN POLICY STUDIES: It is — a surprise — a problem, an ongoing problem. And if you think about that pie chart that you showed at the beginning of the show, it's not as though the other 50 percent of the world, the other 50 percent of military spending, is made up by countries that are hostile to us.
You showed the Europeans are spending $300 billion a year. Well, I don't think we really have to worry about the Europeans coming over here and starting a war with the United States.
LOGAN: China is in the neighborhood of $120 billion a year. But, again, we're talking of upward of $700 billion per year — closer to $750 billion — that's spent by the United States.
Now, some of that, people call it defense spending. Some of it is for other people's defense.
BECK: Right. And that's the part that really bothers me, because that's what we're supposed to be defending. I want to pay for my defense. They can pay for their defense.
Let me — let me go here, because we're going to go with withdrawing the troops here in a second. But I want to go, cut weapons spending. Show me what you're talking about here. Give me just the numbers.
EDWARDS: We spend $$100 billions a year buying weapons and it's enormously wasteful. Basically, what happen is these weapon manufacturers — the Lockheed Martins of the world — they low-ball this. It cost us, they say, we can develop these new fighter jet for, you know, $100 million or whatever it is. And the costs end up soaring. They often end up being two or three times more than the originally promised.
And the Pentagon kind of goes along with this, partly because the different services in the Pentagon are competitive. Each of the services wants to get their weapons in the weapons pipeline.
And once these weapons are started and funded, the weapon's manufacturers skillfully spread out the funding to dozens of different states and congressional districts. So, once you get projects started, even if there does, you can't kill them. And it's a big problem.
BECK: All right. So, let me go — see if we have a couple of charts. Do we have the cost overrun chart by any chance or did we — did we make that? We did not?
EDWARDS: I'll give you —
BECK: Give me some examples because this is a staggering thing.
EDWARDS: One example, President Obama wants a new Marine One helicopter, OK? It should be a simple thing for the military to produce. The original cost estimate was $6 million for each one of these helicopters. The new estimate is double that, about $12 million.
So, you know, why can't the weapons manufacturers do something as simple as a helicopter on budget?
BECK: I mean, we have Global Hawks surveillance plane, estimated $989 million. Actual cost is $3.7 billion.
BECK: The Hercules, $10.9 million estimated — $430 million was its — was its cost.
BECK: Extended range munitions, $86.9 million estimated — actual cost: half a trillion dollars.
EDWARDS: It's remarkable.
The other part of the waste here is that you get projects like the C-17 transport plane that the Pentagon actually wants to cut. They wanted to cut it for five years now. And each year, they propose a budget saying we want to cut the C-17 plane.
Well, Congress doesn't let it, because the members of Congress who have it manufactured in their district, they don't want to cut the stuff that even the Pentagon wants to cut.
BECK: So, that's the problem. The military needs to be run as a business and it needs to be run without the politicians, quite honestly. I mean, I want — I want civilian control of the military clearly.
BECK: But I don't — I want them to make the decisions.
BECK: They spend how many hours a day — every day, training, studying. And then we get some — we get some a yodel from Washington who doesn't know anything. And I mean, even — even John McCain bothered me because he is not in the military. That's what the generals are for. I don't want some guy saying no, no, no. Clear this out. I'm the president. I'll show you exactly how to do it.
Fire the generals and put the right general in if you disagree with them.
EDWARDS: I think there's a bit of blame all around. I mean, McCain has tried to reform procurement. OK?
EDWARDS: And on the Pentagon side, it is also true that the top brass often want to do favors for their friends in the military — the weapons companies because they want jobs after their military careers — advisers and the like.
So, you know, Congress needs to do oversight and crack down on the Pentagon, but also, Congress needs to let the Pentagon cut the weapons that they want to cut.
BECK: Can I tell you something? We'd be better off having the military do oversight over Congress. I would like General Petraeus to do a little "oversight" on Congress.
We'll be right back in just a second.
BECK: I love what President Obama said about the space program: you know, we're going to put a man on an asteroid or Mars, you know, some place, in 25 years or so. I'm committed to it.
What is that? What is that? What are our policies anymore?
We have a guy who says, you know, he's going to get our troops out. Hello? How about acting as the world's police officer? Are you done with that? Because I am. I am not a guy who says — I'm a guy who firmly supported going into Iraq and Afghanistan. I just want to finish the job, win it and come home.
And I don't think we're — I don't think we have been intending on winning this thing in a long time.
Chris Edwards, tax policy studies director for the Cato Institute. Justin Logan associate director for foreign policy studies also at the Cato Institute.
I want to talk to you about the ramifications of what I'm saying and what you guys at the Cato Institute are calling for. You're saying withdraw the troops from Iraq and Afghanistan.
I think we're going in the opposite direction at least in Afghanistan. I think Afghanistan and Pakistan is about to become a nightmare.
LOGAN: It's interesting. There was a recent poll of the U.S. military personnel how long do they think it's going to take to achieve objectives in Afghanistan. And it's all weighted around seven, eight, nine, 10 years.
BECK: What is our objective?
LOGAN: Our objective is to achieve progressive social change. Our objective is to create a modern state in Afghanistan.
BECK: That is not going to happen.
LOGAN: That's what they say.
BECK: That's why nobody in America supported that when we went in. Nobody said, Hey, you know what? Let's make sure there are equal rights. Let's make sure that the poppy field — no. That's not what we said. Go get the guys responsible for 9/11. That is not what we're doing now.
LOGAN: No. That is exactly right. One of the other things in the defense budget is we're subsidizing European social democracy. As part of the NATO commitment, we have troops in Western Europe.
Those Western European militaries are spending less than two percent of their GDP on their militaries, although they're committed to do more than two percent of GDP.
So the next time you're roaming around in Paris or London and look at those funny little buses or trams that they have over there, you paid for part of that in terms of our military spending on behalf of Western Europe.
We can be smarter than that.
BECK: All right. So first of all, before you even ask it, bloggers: "Where were you when George Bush —" saying the same stuff. Saying the same stuff. Immoral to put people in harm's way in our name and then not use everything to finish it and finish quickly. Saying the same stuff.
Here is where I am — because I am becoming more and more libertarian on this. The problem I have with libertarians is they're immediately — "We've got to stop everything right now and come home." That is impossible because it's taken us 100 years to create this.
Nature abhors a vacuum. How do you pull everybody from overseas back home and not create just an awful, awful vacuum?
LOGAN: I think that is the most important question to ask of people like me and people like yourself now. And I think that you have to look at what we would leave — likely leave behind in somewhere like Western Europe.
How likely do you think it is that those countries, for example, are going to start World War III over there? Well, it's an open question and no one can predict the future with any certainty. But I think you actually have to be pretty creative to come up with a scenario where, for example, Germany rearms and decides to annex a piece of France again.
There has been a lot of European integration that has gone on. There have been a number of other things including spread of nuclear weapons which tend to induce caution on part of those countries — I think —
BECK: Some years ago — five years ago, I think I would have agreed with that. But you have economic chaos coming to Europe. And you have a very aggressive Russia. I mean, you just have "bad guy city" over there.
LOGAN: Right. You do have, I think, Russia's sort of activities and what it calls its near-abroad. It's definitely troublesome. But if you look at the Russian military budget, it's vastly less than the collective budgets of France and Germany, et cetera, which are already pretty low.
BECK: OK. All right.
So now give me the Middle East. We go in — the reason Saddam Hussein was successful is because he is a strongman. If you look at all of the heroes of the Middle East — even Mohammed — he was a warrior. He was a warrior.
The West looks at heroes like Martin Luther King to Jesus — peacemakers. You know what I mean? So it's a different mindset entirely.
When you have people who — Iraq is tribal. It's tribal. We leave. There is no strongman there. What happens?
LOGAN: It's an open question. Again, nobody can predict the future with any certainty. I think the problem with the current strategy is getting bogged down in these sorts of, again, whether you want to call them nation building or state building —
LOGAN: Or a progressive social change or what have you. The countries in the region look at us floundering around over there and sort of tend to snicker.
Now, ostensibly, we're going to be getting out in 2011. I think we're going to have real heck of a time getting out down to the last man and not taking the lid of this pot and having it boil over.
BECK: Here is where I have my biggest problem, and that is Israel, because I am a defender of Israel. They're the only real ally we have. They're the only — it's like walking over — when you are over in Israel, it's like walking in any American city in many ways.
The values are much alike. They're completely screwed up on some things, but they — the only thing that I even recognize over there — it's the only safe-haven. So I want to come to you when we come back. I want to come to you and just ask you that. What do you do about Israel if you are going to mind our own business?
Back in a second.
BECK: To really slash the defense budget — and that's what we've been doing today — all week, we have been talking about the overall budget — America, we're going to go through a period here where I think — where the economy is going to look like it's getting better. And you're going to be sold on — where is that? Here: "America's back."
The same magazine said we're all socialists now. You're going to go through a period because they still have — what is it? Three-quarters of the stimulus package to spend.
We're going to go through a period where it looks like it's fine. Maybe it is. I hope it is. I would prepare for the worst. And I'll ask you this week to start thinking out of the box. Restoring America, not transforming it. So what do you do? You want to cut spending.
Chris Edwards, our tax policy studies director for the Cato Institute. Justin Logan is here. He's associate director for foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute.
And we are talking about the defense budget and talking about dramatically reducing it, pulling our troops home from all around the world and only fighting wars to win them.
And I want to talk to you about Israel. Because as somebody who is — there are things that we have to fight for and principles we have to — for instance, I don't like being in bed with Saudi Arabia because everybody knows we're there for the oil. We don't have anything in common with those people — nothing. They are horrible on human rights, horrible to women. Israel is not. They're not America, but you know, who is?
So we have some things in common there and defending those principles, we're not selling out our own principles. Does that make sense? But I don't want to get into somebody else's war. How do you still defend a country like Israel and be involved in that where they're surrounded?
LOGAN: A lot of these discussions that you get into have to do with the sort of nightmare scenario, the scenario where somebody posits that one of the actors in the region — frequently, it's Iran — acquires a nuclear weapon and decides on some sort of theological or ideological grounds. Hey, let's light the whole region up even if we all die.
I think that scenario is actually less likely than other scenarios that could also be problematic for Israel. I think the Iranians are ruthless and mean-spirited and up to no good. But I think they value, above all, their own survival and the extension of the Islamic Revolution. And that is not going to be possible with Tehran a smoldering crater.
BECK: Just a minute. Just a minute.
I hope he is right. I think people in Iran, I think Ahmadinejad, Khomeini — I think they are Twelvers. I think they believe in the 12th Imam. And I hope you're right. But I think they mean they'll wipe it off the map.
LOGAN: Well, interesting. You had — during the Iran-Iraq war, for example, the Iranians built a big fountain of blood in Tehran and pledged that they would never relent if Saddam Hussein were to stay in power in Iraq.
Now, we remember talking about keeping true to the values. We were backing Saddam Hussein at the time and that, obviously, was a problem. But they had all these atmospherics of real terror, I mean, this big fountain of blood spurting out there.
And what did they end up doing? They fought a very long, protracted defensive war — because Iraq, of course, had invaded Iran — and then, they ended up pleading to the United Nations which they denigrated for years as sort of a Zionist American tool or what have you. They ended up suing for peace because they realized they were losing this war and it was not going to end well for them.
Now, that is one example and you can't draw big conclusions about important decisions based on one example. But I think those sorts of things, and there are other examples, show again they are venal and ruthless and expansionist. But are they suicidal?
You don't have to posit rationality. You just have to posit fear and self-preservation.
BECK: OK. Hang on just a second. I just want to point out something. I never understood this. If I were a German back in 1930 or 1940, if I — they said, "Hey, put on the uniform," and it had the skull and crossbones on the hat, I'd be like, "I think I may be on the wrong side."
I may want to ask people in Iran to consider the same thing. If you have a fountain of blood, you may be on the wrong side. That is just me here in New York.
Back in a second.
BECK: We are talking to Chris Edwards, tax policy studies director from the Cato Institute. Justin Logan, associate director for foreign policy studies, also at the Cato Institute about cutting the defense budget today and trying to come up with something that doesn't put us into bankruptcy.
And I want to clean up three things here. First of all, let's go with Israel. The question is, do we strike — do we stand by Israel if Iran strikes at Israel?
LOGAN: A commitment to Israel's survival is very much in the U.S. national interest.
LOGAN: The question is, at what point does it come into play? And reasonable people disagree about that. Thankfully, we're not there yet. But work —
BECK: I think Israel — I mean, everybody says, "All that will never happen." They loaded Jews onto trains and shipped them to ovens. I mean, once you see that it's happened before, I just — maybe it's just me.
I want to talk to you, Chris. We were talking on the break about nothing in common with the Iranians. And I don't mean the people in Iran.
BECK: The problem is always with the government.
EDWARDS: Right. Absolutely. The Iranian people are very entrepreneurial. And you know, they would love freedom every bit as much as we do —
EDWARDS: If they had a chance to enjoy it.
BECK: It's kind of like what we had in Russia. I mean, they don't understand the same way. They don't the same system per se, but it's the government. That's why this, I think, is so important. Nothing is in our interest without our values and principles.
EDWARDS: That's right.
BECK: They see us from abroad and they see us from a distance and we're not their dictators.
BECK: But if we are in bed with their dictators, then they're like, "Well, there is no difference."
LOGAN: Yes. The best thing to do with Iran right now is make clear that it's the Iranian people against the Iranian government.
LOGAN: To the extent we interpose ourselves, the people have this sort of nationalist response and tend to say, "Well, we don't like the outsider. We don't like the other guy anymore if he is sort of playing in our sandbox."
BECK: And the last one is budget. We can slash the budget dramatically without necessarily changing the military strategy. We're not talking about the military leaders. We're talking about the waste and not going into fight and win, right?
EDWARDS: You can actually have a smaller military. And I think you do need to change the strategy. The strategy is involved as we talked about: doing these sorts of nation building missions —
LOGAN: Defending Europeans from themselves, et cetera, et cetera. If we get rid of those missions, we can substantially change the strategy and would save money.
BECK: Right. But what I'm saying is, to Americans, defense — not military — defense is what people — we need to know that we can defend ourselves and we are still the biggest, baddest dog on the block.
But we don't use it. We use it if it's necessary. And we certainly don't use them, you know, to nation build.
LOGAN: Just to go back to your opening discussion, much of what is categorized as defense is actually foreign aid.
BECK: OK. There it is, America. We'll be back in just a second.
BECK: Well, here we are on Tax Day yet again. A year ago, I think I was in San Antonio and we were at a tea party. Sean Hannity tonight at 9 o'clock — I think it's going to be in Cincinnati. In Ohio, the Tea Parties are just taking off.
I saw in Newsweek magazine on the "America's Back" section a whole piece on hate. On it shows — oh, what a surprise, Fr. Coughlin and me. Who would have seen that one coming? Oh, we did.
But here is what it says, "Hate — anti-government extremists are on the rise and on the march."
It's not — it is important for you to tell anybody in the media that will listen to you, you're not anti-government. We're sitting here and we are slashing the snot out of the federal budget. I lay out my policy on defense, which is pretty, you know, radical to today's standards. It's not because I hate the government. It's not because I hate the United States of America. That's the uber-left.
We're doing this because we're trying to save the country. We're trying to find a way to be able to have something left for our children.
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