The more I think about the line from president’s speech that he will save money by “not paying for Cold War-era weapons systems we don’t use,” the more I can’t figure out what he could possibly mean. There are Cold War weapons we have not used—nuclear weapons. It is a good thing that we have not used them. We keep them as a deterrent. Everything else we used to fight the Cold War—tanks, planes, ships that we still have is already bought and paid for; scraping them means they will have to be replaced—that will cost money. What’s left? Every system that we are buying now or plan to buy has been justified over the last twenty years by Democrat and Republican presidents and funded by Democratic and Republican Congresses based on “future requirements” not refighting the last war. Missile defense is a case in point. We didn’t start building defenses until after the Cold War ended and we built it not to counter the Soviet threat but deal with new missile powers like North Korea and Iran.

There are sensible ways to build the future force. Cutting the budget by just labeling a program a “Cold War” system is not one of them.