Aside from who could bring America closer to war on "day one," Republican candidates in their recent debate initially jockeyed to demonstrate who could spend more on the military:
Fiorina: We need the strongest military on the face of the planet... 50 Army brigades, we need about 36 Marine battalions, we need somewhere between 300, and 350 naval ships, we need to upgrade every leg of the nuclear triad...
Rubio: We are eviscerating our military
Trump: We build our military
Bush: Rebuild our military... If we're going to lead the world, then we need to have the strongest military possible.
Carson: we need to build up our military.
The candidates were astonished when Rand Paul stated:
"That government is incompetent and inefficient is the fundamental Republican axiom. We have a government bureaucracy, the military, which consumes $700 billion a year, an amount equal to the military budgets of rest of the world combined and six times more than China and ten times more than Russia spends. Nonetheless, our military has lost three of the last four wars it fought. Why should we spend more money on this bloated, ineffective bureaucracy?"
Everyone expected the other candidates to castigate Paul, but John Kasich agreed with him:
"Republicans rail against bloated government bureaucracy, but ignore the nation's largest and most bloated bureaucracy. In 1864 the Union Army had about 600,000 active duty troops and one three-star general. Today the Army has about 500,000 active duty troops and over 70 three and four-star generals. In the civil war it took 3 soldiers to supply and support one combat soldier. Today that ratio is 10 to 1. We must reform the military before we waste more money on it."
Ted Cruz, who claims to have fought government regulation his entire career, added fuel to the fire:
"Excess government regulation is even a bigger problem for our military. Nothing in the military escapes the dead hand of officious government regulators. They decide how you dress, what you eat, what time you wake up and go to sleep, who you work with and what you do every hour of the day. No institution inflicted with such pernicious government regulation can accomplish anything of value. It is time to deregulate our military.
Donald Trump interrupted. Expected a resounding defense of increased military spending, he instead added his unique solution to problems in the military:
"I have made billions as a businessman and I would introduce introduction of private sector practices to increase the effectiveness and decrease the cost of our military.
"Let's start with the compensation of General Officers. A four star general makes only 7 to 8 times as much an average enlisted soldier. No wonder they don't win wars. If we paid them what large company CEOs make, 300 to 700 times the average employee, Generals would be so motivated they would whip ISIS in a week.
"But the military has no bonus system. Why should a General even try to whip ISIS if he gets paid the same for sitting on his duff in the Pentagon? Face facts. Our military does not reward individual initiative and entrepreneurism. It's time to terminate the socialist pay practices that are hobbling our military and introduce free market reforms."
Even Jeb Bush wavered, stating:
"There is something to be said on both sides, or perhaps on all six sides, of this issue."
Finally Carly Fiorina had an epiphany:
"My call for a 350 ship Navy is the dumbest idea anyone has had since Hewlett Packard acquired Compaq. I just looked the numbers. A Gerald Ford-Class Nuclear Aircraft Carrier costs $14.2 billion. It must be accompanied by one Aegis cruiser, two destroyers, and a nuclear attack submarine. The total cost of a carrier strike group exceeds $25 billion and this does include another $10 billion for the F-35 air wing.
"And what good is it? We can't use against the Chinese or the Russians. They could quickly obliterate it with a few dozen inexpensive DF-21D over-the-horizon anti-ship missiles. By the time a new carrier group is deployed effective anti-ship drones will cost about $3.95 each.
"The Theodore Roosevelt carrier group is fighting against ISIS at annual cost of $2 billion and it hasn't helped much. Since ISIS has about 20,000 fighters, it would be more cost effective to bribe them all. If I had paid more attention to cost effectiveness, HP might not have fired me."
"So spending almost $1 trillion to construct an additional 87 capital ships to reach 350 is simply lunacy. For the same price we could build 125 walls along our 1,954-mile Mexican border. Alternatively we could double the number of K-12 teachers for the next nine years."
Now wonder Carly is rising in the polls.