US military dominance

Can the US continue its military dominance? The US military budget in nearly half of world’s total. Its more than double the EU. Over 11X that of France (number 2).

Can this be maintained? Should it be maintained?

What would be so bad about cutting the amount spent is half? Why not get it down to about 2% of GDP like England or France? Or 1% like most of Europe? This could save us trillions in the coming years. Sure we couldn’t get in foolish wars like Iraq on our own, but we would still be able to defend ourselves and engage in wars with our allies.

There many countries that a spend a higher percentage of their GDP on their militaries.

We will bankrupt ourselves in the vain search
for absolute security.
D.D. Eisenhower

France is #2? Are you sure it isn’t the UK or China? It really depends upon the exchange rate, doesn’t it? But in terms of power projection and a history thereof, the U.K. with a 2 carrier fleet must be #2. China can project force locally; the U.K can project globally.

BTW I’d dispute that Iraq was a foolish war; I won’t dispute that it is a foolish occupation. :slight_smile:

cite (bolding mine)

We have already, just in the last few years, seen that both our liberties and the processes enshrined in the US Constitution can be ignored or bypassed with ease by the very people who swore oaths to protect them.

I would like to see less spending on our military, and more on education, infrastructure, and health care. But I’m afraid that the combination of fear, greed, and influence may already be too much to overcome. Bringing military spending down will require years of hard work, constant vigilance, and unflagging attention to what happens in the US Congress.

Directly to the OP: Yes, I think the US can continue it’s military dominance easily. We are the most technologically advanced country on the planet, we have an immense supply of both natural resources and people, and we have the will to remain thusly.

Near as I can tell the British were #2 in 2007, the French were #2 in 2008 ( #4 in 2007 ). The numbers of #2-5 are close enough that they are bound the shift a bit relative to each other from year to year, depending on major purchases.

Remember than France has both a slightly larger army and land-based air force than the UK. It also has a slightly larger navy by personnel ( but not ships ). Their master plan also calls for a two-carrier fleet by the way, it’s just that only one is currently active.

I don’t think it can be maintained, and I don’t think it should be. I do think we’ll try, though. America is so rabidly militaristic that I expect it to ruin itself under the economic burden of it’s grotesquely outsized military. We’ll cut social services, let the infrastructure rot, spend ourselves into crippling debt, sacrifice the rest of the country to prop up the military.

Which what DDE warned us about in his farewell address (that I quoted in my post above). He was a very smart, very compassionate man and I wish that more people paid attention to what he did and said.

Not likely with Social Security and Medicare/Medicaid BOTH larger than the defense budget (21% each to 20% for defense), and the population getting older by the day.

It’s the old farts that’ll ruin us, not the military.

Yea. Certainly I support the US having the most powerful military in the world, but we really do seem to be in over-kill territory these days, not so much because of increases in our own spending but in that the rest of the world seems to have stopped spending. Do we really need 11 carriers to fight in Iraq or Afghanistan?

It’s hard to come up with a scenario where our full military force would be necessary. You occasionally hear that we need them for some possible future conflict with Russia or China, but the fact is that China isn’t going to whip a modern blue water navy out of its 1 billion rear ends. If they start building up their military to the point where they might be able to challenge us, I have no doubt we’ll have plenty of time to match their increases and keep our advantage.

It is the military men who think twice about wars. Many are against the warring and adventuring that enriches the few at the expense of the country and its prestige. This admin loves the money making art of war. This admin is full of draft dodgers and sunshine patriots,
Check Smedley Butler for instance. War is a cruel and stupid business. Our comparative budget.

If was just that, then no. A pre ww2 cruiser navy with amphibs would suffice for most things. We could leave the carriers at port in nice neat rows till they are actually needed.

No one is going to build a fleet to contest the USN, their military planners are not idiots. But it boils down to two responses to a military engagement, nuke or conventional. Remove a sizeable amount of fleet tonnage, and all the frigate navies can now expect a fair fight and their admirals start planning war ops ‘just in case’.


I liked that part about Russia being our ally… :rolleyes:

If the U.S. reduces its armed forces it will lose a lot of its prestige/influence in non military areas but thats liveable.

But over the years America has made a lot of enemies, some through other nations envy,some through U.S. actions and it might be the case that weaker armed forces may tempt some of these countries to try a little payback operating either alone or in concert with each other.

The United States is currently in much the same positition that Britain and France were between the world wars: inheritors of the responsibility for maintaning the “world order”, but with a much shakier guarantee of being able to afford to. Right now we’re the ones pretty much paying for the following:[ul][]deterring China from occupying Taiwan, and being able to militarily threaten the rest of the Pacific rim.[]Deterring the batshit insane North Koreans from devastating South Korea.[]keeping Israel from either being annihilated or having to start a nuclear war in the mideast to defend itself.[]keeping the petroleum of the middle east flowing to the rest of the world.Maintaining NATO enough that Russia doesn’t regard reconquering eastern Europe as a viable option.[/ul]The problem is that empires rarely contract gracefully; there’s little room for the US to cut back without leaving the world a much scarier place. It would be wonderful if the EU and the Pacific Rim were more self-sufficient in their security, but that’s unlikely to happen. They’re mostly sitting back and letting the US pay to police the world; pretty much as we let Europe police the world up until WW2.

I like it too. It’s good to have powerful countries like Russia as allies instead of enemies. Which doesn’t change the fact that they may someday become an enemy again, but right this moment, they’re not.

Personally, I think that having a military budget that matches, say, the next three biggest-spending nations combined, ought to be more than enough. Especially since, with our technological advantage over most of our potential enemies, I would expect that our spending goes further than theirs. Our current position of spending as much as everyone else in the world combined only makes sense if we’re planning on fighting everyone else in the world combined.

I think we’ll see some cognitive dissonance on the part of the Navy, where they realize that U.S. naval power is pretty much unassailable at this point, yet they’ll continue to fight tooth and nail against any reduction in their funding. We’ve already seen it with the Navy’s involvement on the missile defense front (shooting down that space junk earlier this year), and I’m sure they’ll try to capitalize on Russia’s attempts at reasserting its naval power.

This makes it sound like the choices are between having our current military or no military. I certainly think we should spend enough to ensure that we will over match any likely combination of enemies. But even by that standard, I have trouble believing our current rate of spending is justified.

But how much could we cut back before we got anywhere close to a “fair fight”. Even if all the worlds navies, allies and non, came together to duke it out with us, it seems we would match them. I agree we need to keep enough of an edge so that its clear will out match our enemies, but at some point, I think its OK to say that our edge is big enough that we really don’t need to continue spending at such huge levels.

My understanding is that the domestic militaries of Taiwan and S. Korea are more or less able to fend off any likely invasion from their unruly neighbors. Israel certainly seems capable of defending itself. I don’t really see how our military is helping oil get out of the ME, and the military spending of the US could be cut back a large amount and still easily dwarf that of Russia, not even accounting for the spending by the other NATO countries.

The medicare money goes back into the economy. Doctors, nurses and many others get paid through it. Jobs are created and taxes paid. Hospitals ,clinics, pharmacists and drug companies get fat off it.
Blowing up 3rd world countries is a crappy waste of money,power and prestige.

Given how drastically the U.S. outspends everyone else, I’d think we could maintain our military dominance even with pretty substantial budget cuts. The reason these don’t happen is political (i.e., politicians not wanting to seem “weak on defense”). If we can still easily have the world’s strongest military, while also freeing up billions of dollars to spend on other priorities (whether that means social programs, or reducing the national debt, or tax relief, or whatever people think is important) then why shouldn’t we?

As far as whether maintaining our “military dominance” is even important, I guess it depends how you define military dominance. If you mean “is it necessary for us to keep spending nearly as much as the whole rest of the world combined?”, I’d say the answer is a resounding no. U.S. military spending is currently about 50% of the worldwide total, and NATO as a whole is about 70% (according to wikipedia, at any rate). Even if we cut our military spending by 1/5, we’d still be spending about twice as much as the rest of NATO, and NATO as a whole would be outspending the world by a ratio of 2:1. If that’s not enough to maintain the security of NATO members, they must not be spending their money very wisely.

Even if we merely matched the contributions of the rest of NATO (reducing our military spending to about 40% of the current level), NATO would still be outspending the rest of the world by a ratio of 4:3.

I’m not saying we necessarily should cut it that much (for one thing, I imagine making that big a spending cut all at once could screw up the economy even worse than it’s already screwed up), but at the very least it seems clear that we’re spending way more than we need to just to maintain our national security.