US

UK official: Rising American debt could undermine national security

Tyler Whetstone Contributor

WASHINGTON — The United Kingdom’s former secretary of state for defence, Dr. Liam Fox, gave warning Tuesday morning at the Heritage Foundation in Washington, D.C., saying that Great Britain’s “national security is inextricably linked to the health of our national economy,” and that the United States is no different.

“Let’s be very clear,” Dr. Fox said, “You cannot be strong if you are broke. Debt is a national security issue.”

United States’ gross domestic product is an estimated $15.04 trillion, which ranks second in the world behind the European Union’s 27 countries’ $15.39 trillion GDP.

Dr. Fox cited estimates that U.S. debt in 2011 reached 100 percent of GDP — a roughly 20 percent climb since 2009.

Usgovernmentspending.com agrees with Fox, displaying levels of debt over the next five years as being over 100 percent of GDP — something that has not been the case since directly after World War II.

Fox’s lecture comes on the heels of the Tuesday Senate Budget Committee hearing that informed the Pentagon that it will have to cut even further — beyond the $487 billion in defense cuts already planned over the next decade — if the U.S. is to deal with its rising debt crisis.

Obama’s 2013 defense budget, which was enacted in October, is $525.4 billon — almost $5.1 billion less than the defense budget for 2012.

Because of American debt, the government is also borrowing money at a record rate — a habit Fox said does not bode well for America.

“If you continue to [borrow] as a matter of routine, you set off a fiscal time bomb that, if not diffused, will inevitably result in strategic shrinkage.”

Fox did not, however, see the reductions currently happening to the nation’s defense spending as an immediate threat to the country’s well-being.

“I think the patterns of the reductions set out [by America] are sustainable,” Fox told TheDC. “There’s always a tendency to want to keep every ability that you have as well as to add to the new capabilities that you might need.”

“The lesson still pertains that if you don’t have the economic wherewithal, ultimately you’re going to have to reduce your security as part of wider reductions,” Fox said.

The eyes of the world would be on America in 2012 and during the looming election, Fox continued, and he hopes that, as a nation, fortitude can be found.

“We all hope, for all our sakes, that you succeed,” he concluded.

Dr. Fox served as defence secretary from May 2010 to October 2011 and has also been a Member of Parliament since 1992. Fox resigned from secretary of state for defense due to allegations surrounding improper benefits given to a friend.

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