While I think it’s crazy to create new entitlements, stimulus packages, and giving civilian federal workers pay raises while proposing deep defense cuts, I don’t think defense spending should be exempt from austerity measures. Our current system, a genorous welfare state sustained by the productive work of a shrinking sliver of the population, is not working.
Part of my confidence in the ability to cut defense spending is based on my view that much of what our country does in the nature of “defense” is wrong-headed and interventionist foreign policy, rooted in the notion that we must perpetually be involved “ensuring stability” and “spreading democracy.” Cutting this will do much to save money.
From a strictly numbers perspective, the size of our uniformed military does not seem extravagent. But the spending certainly is, based as it is on the idea of massive foreign bases in Europe and Asia, welfare-style spending at home for the military and its numerous contractors, and, above all, the idea that we must be involved everywhere all the time. We shold have a strong military, capable of defending America from all threats, securing sea lanes, protecting our borders, destroying terrorist camps, and projecting conventional and nuclear power overseas in the event of a real threat. But there is no reason the DoD cannot cut a lot, and Republicans who fall overthemselves to exempt this one piece of the government from scrutiny as if the Cold War were still raging are foolish.
Marine Major Peter Munson over at his blog, stated the matter as follows:
In what world is spending more than the next ten nations combined on defense not enough? I believe that is the figure we will be at after the coming cuts. Right now we are spending more than the next 19 countries, only two of which could be called potential adversaries. After yesterday’s strategic guidance announcement, the hand-wringing and incriminations were enough to make me ill. It started with on the ride into work with LtGen Dave Deptula, Ret, who has now been elevated to the man who designed the air war in Desert Storm, evidently single-handedly. I do not remember his exact words on NPR, but I believe the sound bite they pulled out was “disastrous.” There were plenty of other hyperbolic epithets thrown around, my favorite of which said something to the effect of “it’s all good until there’s another Pearl Harbor.” Maybe I am a naif, but I just do not buy any of it. I think the DoD needs deep, deep cuts if it is to escape the decadence of its ways that a decade of unconstrained spending has brought about.