That Cold War is so hot right now. A couple of days ago, the Secretary of the Air Force, Deborah James, cited Russia as “the biggest threat” to the United States. Today a New York Times headline blares: “Joint Chiefs Nominee Warns of Threat of Russian Aggression”—referring to Gen. Joseph F. Dunford Jr., the nominee to be chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. So why all the sudden admissions when we’ve been playing two-hand touch instead of tackle so far?

Oh, that’s right: Budget cuts are looming.

Russia’s aggressive behavior and its nuclear arsenal, yadda, yadda. The Pentagon can’t make due without the $500 billion that it will be denied under budget cuts and sequestration, Joe says. One gets the impression that the Pentagon and the elite (as represented by the Times) feel that it’s so much easier dealing with Russia and old-style war than terrorism. In fact, terrorism is a word that evidently the right-thinking new top military officer has also dispensed with in favor of “violent extremist organizations.” Does Joe actually believe they deserve that money?

In appearing before the Senate Armed Service Committee to be grilled (okay, maybe charred), Joe answered written questions offered by the committee. They are normally boilerplate and catechism, because after all a staff of thousands writes and vets them. But this answer caught my eye:

“The 2014 Quadrennial Defense Review superseded the 2012 Defense Strategic Guidance. This QDR did not fully anticipate growing Russian aggression, the emergence of the ISIL threat, and the increase in cyber intrusions.”

In other words, just last year, our best minds and our magnificent intelligence establishment got this year wrong. They didn’t anticipate ISIL? Are they serious? And we’re supposed to watch as our top military commanders and political leaders bungle their way through the world, permanently oblivious as to what might happen next year, or the year after that? Excuse me if I think a $500 billion budget cap should be the least of our worries. Oh, that’s just a projection of what they won’t get, not a true reduction from the $600 billion annually that they expect.

[Images via AP.]