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The War, The Defense Budget, and The Approaching Munich Moment

Monday, March 23, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

First, my Monday Washington Examiner column concerns this week’s crucial votes on the 2016 Defense budget.

My pal Kurt Schlichter is also writing about the DoD today at, but –and I hesitate to say this– he is wrong.  I don’t think we have the time to postpone defense spending even if it will be handled by Obama-era appointees (though new Defense Secretary Ash Carter appears a whole lot more Harold Brown-like than he does Chuck Hagel 2.0).

Three books have arrived on ISIS in the past week, and I have thus far read 1.125 of them.

Inside ISIS: The Brutal Rise of a Terrorist Army is a front-line account of Benjamin Hall’s back-and-forths across the Turkey-Syria border in recent years, interspersed with accounts of the rise of the Islamic State after the withdrawal of the United States from the region in 2011.  As Hall makes clear, the Islamic State has its origins in al Qaeda but has clearly evolved into a much deadlier, more brutal variant of even that deadly, brutal terrorist organization. I hope to have Hall on the program today from his London base.

ISIS: The State of Terror by Jessica Stern and J.M. Berger is both more comprehensive than Hall’s account and considerably more ideological, and at least in the early going seems determined to assign ISIS to George W. Bush’s watch even as the narrative’s integrity is driving the reader to the same conclusion –the tragedy was America’s withdrawal from the region– and I am not yet to the book’s prescriptive phase.

ISIS Exposed by Eric Stakelbeck is the most recent to arrive and will be read in turn –when the enemy is new and largely unknown, it seems common sense to read everything for the facts and truths common to all of them and tuck those away as the most reliable information on which to develop opinions– but I expect more of the same as I have garnered from the first one-and-a-quarter books: The Islamic State is rich, growing fast, likely to over-match all but the Iranian Guard led Shia militia’s, and the remains of Assad’s Army plus Hezbollah and, crucially, metastasizing rapidly to places like Libya, Tunisia and Algeria though perhaps only in words to Nigeria and elsewhere though as the reading makes clear, the words are very important.

Ass to this mix the thrusting ambitions of Tehran in Damascus, Baghdad, and Sana and Putin’s thrusts in Ukraine and expected grabs elsewhere and the PRC’s continued expansion of its blue-water navy and its aggressive construction of artificial islands and new ports and the picture you get is one that will not allow us to wait for the turning out of the ideological blinkered, wildly incompetent “strategists” of the Obama era.  We have to spend now, hope that the pros inside the Pentagon do their best to get the money where it is needed most.  It is a sort of mid-’30s strategy pursued by Churchill and his allies against the conservative ostriches on the front bench then.  I’ll try and get Schlichter as well as the ISIS experts on the show this week and suspect they will come around, especially as the president and his team of geniuses play another few losing rounds in Switzerland with the mullahs.  If and when our Munich moment arrives –and pray there is a point where Kerry realizes he risks the remains of his tattered reputation and the election of Hillary by a craven collapse before Khamenei– we will need Congress to react not just with renewed and tougher sanctions but with the sort of DoD appropriations the wasting of which will not be possible and the necessity of which is already obvious.


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Just In Case You Are Wondering…

Saturday, March 21, 2015  |  posted by John Schroeder

th_Butler_BulldogsFriday’s third hour, Hugh’s interview with Fred Barnes, in which Hugh said something about some team from somewhere in the state just east of Indiana, and referred to the mighty Bulldogs of Butler as “puppies,” is proof that what Hugh knows about college basketball can be contained the smallest thimble in the world.

Barnes, a man long known to regular listeners of Hugh’s show as one of the wiser and more sage of Hugh’s regular guests distinguished himself like never before with his statement “Don’t bet against Butler.”chr-c03

Here’s hoping college basketball will not be on the docket when Hugh is a questioner at the GOP presidential debate.

Talking Defense Spending With Lindsey Graham

Friday, March 20, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham opened the show today talking about the combined efforts of House and Senate Republicans to break the sequester cap on the Pentagon:




HH: I begin this program with the United States Senator from South Carolina, and soon, I think, to be a presidential candidate, Lindsey Graham. You can follow Senator Graham on Twitter, @Grahamblog. Senator Graham, welcome, it’s good to talk to you again.

LG: Thanks for having me, Hugh.

HH: I want to talk Defense, and I will talk that with your colleague, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee, John McCain, later. But it appears to me that Speaker Boehner today said we’re going to get rid of the sequester for a year, and I’m taking it to the floor, and he’s going to defy the cap absolutists who stand in his way. I applaud that move. Are you going to get this thing fixed in the Senate and the House?

LG: Well, my goal is to do it more than a year, but I applaud the Speaker, too. That’s leadership. Sequestration, the Defense budget cuts, are destroying our ability to defend the nation. As radical Islam rises in threats, we’re destroying the Defense Department through budget cuts that are insane. So yes, well done, Mr. Speaker, but I’m going to try to find a way to buy back all the sequestration, not just one year. Continue Reading

Talking Defense Spending With John McCain

Friday, March 20, 2015  |  posted by Hugh Hewitt

Chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee John McCain joined me to open the third hour of the show today:




HH: The longest range story is whether or not we’re going to fund the Pentagon. And at the tip of that spear is Senator John McCain from the great state of Arizona. Senator McCain, welcome back to the Hugh Hewitt Show, it’s great to have you on.

JM: Thank you, Hugh. And can I first of all thank you for your effort on bringing some sense into this situation, because we Republicans, being strong pro-Defense but also deeply concerned about this feckless foreign policy which has put is in grave danger, are now, at least some of them, want to propose less for Defense than the president of the United States. There’s a freedom caucus, and they’re all friends of mine, but as you point out in an articulate fashion, freedom isn’t free. Continue Reading

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