So, at a time when countries around the world (most of which are not US allies) are raising their military budgets and at a time when several large countries are starting to tentatively push things in their regions (oh, say like China and Russia have been doing for the last few years, not to mention Iran), and at a time when our other allies are, well, flattening or cutting their own already small military budgets (our EU pals, for instance), we should be considering cutting our already flat military budget? Count me as ‘not in favor’, which will probably make me one of the few to take that position on this board.
The supposed bloat in our military budget is, IMHO, about as accurate as the right wingers going on about welfare and social programs.
What do you base this on? Let me guess…something along the lines of ‘the US spends more on it’s military than the next 5(or some number) of other countries’…right?
Well, let’s start with programs we don’t need, are not demonstrating efficacy, or are providing capability that isn’t useful. So…the Next Generation (Strategic) Bomber, the F-35 ‘Lightning II’ (described as being “the worst deal the DoD has ever made”), and the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System, which has been demonstrated of being capable of only defending against threats that can’t reach the continental United States. Jesus holy fuck of wastage, I just looked that the estimated lifecycle costs of all of those systems and cutting those alone (albeit retroactively) would have us halfway back to settling the national debt.
Nay, that I mean to do. Is not this a lamentable
thing, that of the skin of an innocent lamb should
be made parchment? that parchment, being scribbled
o’er, should undo a man? Some say the bee stings:
but I say, 'tis the bee’s wax; for I did but seal
once to a thing, and I was never mine own man
since. How now! who’s there?
Spoken like a true California Democrat. You have my vote!
Except, of course, for all of the benefits it brings, e.g. high investment in technology development, infrastructure support (Army Corps of Engineers), providing vocational training and opportunities for low income entry level workers, et cetera. The problem with a large standing military is the tendency to use it like a hammer on any problem which appears sufficiently nail-like, and lacking that, to engage in pointless military adventurism to justify maintaining it. However, unless you are Iceland or Liechtenstein, having military capability to protect interests abroad and defend against threats is a sine qua non of operating on the international stage, and for a nation such as the United States to sit aside and permit gross injustice and human rights abuses to be promulgated (as we too often have, military or no) is not a responsible course of action. Conflict–including military engagements–are an unfortunate but unavoidable part of being a nation with international presence, and pretending like we should just ignore the rest of the world is returning to a time when such actions caused more problems, both domestically and abroad, than it averted.
But as Robert McNamara counseled in Errol Morris’ The Fog of War, “I think the human race needs to think more about killing. How much evil must we do in order to do good?” The simplistic approach of blanket pacifism is neither practical nor responsible. But when we do go to war or engage in military action, decisions need to be weighed not in terms of political advantage or philosophical exercises in nation building as stated hypothetically on PowerPoint slides, but in the practical terms of how many mostly innocent people will have to die or be permanently maimed in order to achieve some positive result, and is it worth the enormous human costs–not to mention inevitable blowback–to resort to military action?
If we’re going to be giving federal employment handouts, I’d rather more of it go to education/infrastructure/arts/science than to soldiers.
A slightly less snarky response:
It is interesting to me that those who are questioning the OP seem to assume that we are only spending what we need in the military sector (and thus cutting spending is impossible/unadvisable), while not, I’m sure, giving any other government spending program that same degree of trust.
I thought it was the US spends more on the military than all the rest of the world, not just a few countries. I’m in favor of lessening expenses, even with all the problems that would entail. But I am fierce for remembering the debt we owe the wounded. We will have a generation of injured to care for for the next 30+ years, at least. And we should not neglect them.
GPS, the networking technologies that enabled the Internet, modern integrated circuits and embedded microcomputers, large scale software development, commercial cryptographic and cellular communications, satellite systems and the rocket launch vehicles that delivery them to orbit…the list of innovations that came from military research and that it is unlikely that commercial investment would have provided enough capital to achieve the necessary technical thresholds is almost endless, as is the construction of infrastructure by and for military services, e.g. the Atchafalaya Basin Old River Control Project, the Eisenhower Interstate Highway System, various mapping and geotechnical programs, et cetera. Far from “laughably ludicrous broken-window thinking” the vast majority of commercial technologies we enjoy today as multi-billion dollar industries were entirely enabled by the development of core technologies developed by military research and infrastructure development.
Or do you have any substantive factual arguments to the contrary?
Again, can you provide some kind of logical argument for this claim, or do you just plan to vomit a continuous string of ad hominem until people give up in trying to reason with you?
Very little is going to the actual soldiers, is it? I don’t know of any that got rich from serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. Perhaps I’m wrong. Seems to me the money is going to the manufacturers of weapons and equipment and munitions and military tech, etc…
I suppose putting blinders on and pretending that those companies don’t translate to jobs in the private sector is easy to do. They contribute greatly to the US economy. It’s not a sector I happen to even remotely be part of but it’s not hard to look around and see how many people it employs in the US as whole. I would not want to see them out of work and competing for jobs in my sector or the economy.
I’d love to simply say, ‘eff the military and cut their budget’. Unfortunately it’s never that easy or straight forward.
I do agree that the money would be well spent on social infrastructure like roads, hospitals, schools, trade training, national railway, energy grid, communications grid, etc… But it’s not like shutting down one tap and turning on the other. It takes time and it takes political will and social awareness. None of which is easy or commonly agreed on by all.
Certainly. The other nations you listed there…consider, what are the requirements their governments have for their military. What’s, say, China, the second largest spending government on their military…what’s their requirement for their military? Is their military expected to project power outside of China’s borders and across the globe? Is it expected or does it actually provide an outside deterrent beyond their immediate borders? Is it even able to project any sort of credible force beyond it’s immediate borders? The answer to all of these is no…they don’t have that ability except in their own local sphere of influence. Same goes for the other nations on that list. The US, however DOES have such requirements…and is really the only nation today that can do so, though nations like China are in the process of ramping this up. Unless and until someone decides to take those requirements off the table, that is why the US spends so much while others don’t. It’s kind of a silly comparison, to be honest…especially when you also consider that many of the countries on that list are able to spend so much less BECAUSE the US spends so much on our collective defense and ability to project The Wests™ power and deterrence across the globe. It’s one of the things that have deterred nations from pulling shit like what the Russians are doing in the Crimea more often. It’s not perfect, and frankly the fact that the US has flattened our defense budget in the last 10 years while the other allies haven’t stepped up means that the deterrence isn’t what it once was, but it’s still curtailed more of that sort of thing from happening world wide.
The majority of the defense budget goes to salaries and benefits for those service, training (and expendables…bullets and beans) as well as maintenance of existing equipment (I suppose that could be viewed as ‘manufacturers of weapons and equipment and munitions and military tech’…in a way). Relatively little of the budget in any given year is for new capital purchases, by which I interpret your ‘manufacturers of weapons and equipment and munitions and military tech, etc’.
Salaries and operations are about 50% of the budget. I imagine less military operations in foreign territories would lead to lower operational costs.
Here’s the US Military budget report (pdf) and distribution of funds. On page 83 you can find how the amounts are distributed in the past few years. The majority of the budget is not salaries and benefits, which are roughly 20% of the entire budget. Procurement and R&D is more like 25%. Operations & maint is about 30%.
First, reducing the military budget by half, which would be more than adequate in terms of national defense, would reduce our federal taxes by about 10% (assuming 20% of budget). That money could be used in any number of ways; for example, our infrastructure. This does create jobs in other sectors: construction, engineering.