Niskanen Center’s Matthew Fay explains: “At least a few aspiring Republican presidential candidates have a bad habit of using misleading numbers while arguing in favor of increased defense spending.” Jeb Bush and Lindsey Graham, for two, are cited.
Neither Jeb Bush nor Lindsey Graham have credentials that come anywhere near the small government, dump the tax code, non-intervention platform that I believe can put our country back on track.
In a post for the Washington Post’s “Fact Checker,” Michelle Ye Hee Lee takes on the “zombie claim” Republicans continue to make about the size of the U.S. Navy. Ye Hee Lee quotes both South Carolina Senator Lindsey Graham who, in an appearance at the New Hampshire Republican leadership summit last weekend, echoed claims Mitt Romney made during the 2012 election about the Navy being the smallest it has been since 1915. She also quotes Governors Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Chris Christie of New Jersey, who unfavorably compared the possibility of a 250- or 260-ship Navy to that of Ronald Reagan’s planned—but never actually achieved—600-ship Navy.
As mentioned previously, the Navy has funny, often politically-motivated, rules for how it counts ships. But the numbers themselves do not matter as much as what is being compared. And there is no comparison between the types of ships in the fleet on the eve of America’s entry into World War I, and those in the fleet today in terms of technology and capability. Moreover, the comparisons to Reagan’s 594-ship Navy fail to take into account the lack of an adversary with a blue water navy. China’s naval modernization will continue to demand attention, but given Beijing’s focus on anti-access/area-denial capabilities, ship-type will likely be more important here too.