As the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan wind down, the quest for a new enemy is underway. The armed services, select corporations, and politicians who wrap themselves in the flag are all zeroing in on China.
Politically, there may be reasons why Congress has supported the National Defense Authorization Act, including the many earmarks that bring costly projects to members' districts. But as a matter of national security and American principles, the bill is a disaster.
If Panetta had been interested in logical relevance, though, he wouldn't have referred to the past at all. He would have focused on the present, and in the present, we spend more on our military than the rest of the world spends combined.