- Associated Press - Monday, September 12, 2011

WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Monday criticized President  Obama’s national security policies as often reflective of a view that “treats American power as the principal adversary, not ally, to world peace.”

In a speech to the American Enterprise Institute, Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, California Republican, warned that cuts in projected defense spending that Mr. Obama and congressional Republicans agreed on this summer pose a danger to the nation and any additional reductions would be devastating. The legislation backed by the White House and Congress sliced spending and raised the nation’s borrowing authority. It called for defense cuts of $350 billion over 10 years and was backed by several top House Republicans, including Mr. McKeon.

“President Obama’s policies often seem reflective of an ideology that treats American power as the principal adversary, not ally, to world peace,” Mr. McKeon said. “That flies in the face of both history and experience, and it resigns us to national decline.”

As the nation emerges from fighting two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Mr. McKeon said, now is the time “to reset and rebuild our military. Instead, we are lowering our gloves.”

With a deficit expected to exceed $1 trillion this year, tea-party-backed lawmakers and other fiscal conservatives have argued that military spending should be part of any mix of spending cuts, a notion that has drawn resistance from congressional defense hawks. A special bipartisan congressional panel has until Nov. 23 to propose $1.5 trillion in savings over the coming decade.

“It is impossible to pay our entitlement tab with the Pentagon’s credit card,” Mr. McKeon said.

If the supercommittee fails to come up with a plan or Congress rejects its proposal, automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion would kick in, with about half coming from defense.

“It is my suspicion that the White House and congressional Democrats insisted on that defense number for one purpose: to force Republicans to choose between raising taxes or gutting defense,” Mr. McKeon said. “That political gamesmanship is simply unacceptable.”

Defense spending, separate from what has been spent on the two wars, has nearly doubled in the past decade, with the Pentagon getting nearly everything it asked for after the Sept. 11 terror attacks.

The current base budget is $513 billion. Mr. Obama requested some $26 billion more for the next budget year beginning Oct. 1, but Republicans and Democrats in Congress cut that amount. A Senate Appropriations panel meets on Tuesday to draft a bill totaling $513 billion, plus an additional $118 billion for the wars overseas.

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