Former Acting Secretary of Defense Christopher S. Miller has a message for Washington: Cut the defense budget “drastically” and stop turning China into a scarecrow.

Miller argues that the Pentagon’s current $816 billion budget could be cut in half.

“We’ve created an entire enterprise that economically focuses on creating a crisis to justify outrageously high defense spending,” Miller told Washington’s chief correspondent Major Garrett for this week’s episode of “The Takeout.”

“You have to starve the beast to get people to come out of their cozy holes and start thinking creatively,” Miller said, adding that outdated weapons systems could be phased out in favor of newer, more efficient technologies.

Miller served in the final days of the Trump administration and recently wrote a book about his experience, Secretary to the Soldier.

He suggests that the military-industrial complex, a term first used by President Dwight Eisenhower to describe the symbiotic relationship between a nation’s military and industrial bases, has reached unsustainable levels and encouraged military and political leaders to exaggerate global conflicts.

He points to policymakers’ approach to China as an example and argues that they should de-emphasize potential conflict.

“I think the constant insinuation that China is a new threat and that someday we’re going to go to war with them actually plays into the hands of Chairman Xi and the Chinese Communist Party,” Miller told Garrett. “They need to have an enemy that they can, you know, focus their people’s anger and attention on, and I think we’re giving them that opportunity by constantly pointing out that the Chinese are the biggest threat to America and what not.”

The interview with Miller was recorded several days before the suspect Chinese spy balloon crossed the continental United States.

Miller served as Secretary of Defense for only 73 days. But his term in office included Jan. 6, 2021, a day he said was “still pretty raw” in his memory.

“It was a terrible day, a nightmare day for the Republic,” Miller said, defending his agency’s response to the chaos unfolding on Capitol Hill. “I felt we did our duty and served our country well.”

Miller admits there were communications breakdowns that day amid the “fog and friction,” and critics blame him for not sending in troops to stop the violence sooner.

In a Jan. 6 report prepared by the Defense Department’s inspector general, Miller said he feared that bringing military personnel into the fray would worsen the situation. “There was absolutely no way … I was stationing U.S. military forces in the Capitol, period,” Miller told the inspector general.

“If we put American military personnel in the Capitol, I would create the biggest constitutional crisis probably since the Civil War,” Miller said, suggesting that President Trump could use those troops to impose martial law and try to hold on to power.

Miller says Trump deserves the blame for what happened on January 6th. “I think so,” he said.

Asked if he would work for Trump again, Miller declined. – You should probably ask my wife.

Executive Producer: Arden Farhi

Produced by Jamie Benson, Jacob Rosen, Sarah Cook and Eleanor Watson

CBSN Production: Eric Susanin
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Twitter: @TakeoutPodcast
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