Military Spending

Blog Post
What role should the United States play in the world 
and how should the US military support national policies?  
At present, we spend more on the US military than the rest of the world combined. Criticize me for suggesting that we rethink things if you will, but I don’t believe that the military should remain a sacred cow in an era of retrenchment in the United States. 
(1) The United States Military’s job is not to perform humanitarian missions. To the extent that we’re put in a position where we’re able to help, it’s ‘nice’, but it comes down at the very bottom of the list of what they should be doing. The military should be fighting or preparing to fight the militaries of other nations or guerilla forces (such as the Somali Pirates) who interfere with American commerce or that of our allies.
(2) The country has been meddling in affairs that need to be left to others to deal with (or not deal with) in a post Soviet, multi-polar world. Communist Russia is gone. Communist China is the biggest capitalist nation on the planet and makes everything you buy at WalMart, Costco, Home Depot, etc. I do not suggest that we disarm our nation or dissolve our nuclear arsenal. I simply suggest that we decide what our vital interests are, who our allies are and aren’t and go from there. The Obama Administration has made a complete hash of this.
(3) The details of defense procurement are vast and are so politically charged because of the nation’s unemployment issue that neither the Republicans nor the Democrats want to see programs cut when it means that middle class jobs will be eliminated from the government trough. While I can appreciate this concern, ‘welfare for the middle class’ is not sustainable.
(4) We initiated the war in Iraq based on a pretext that the Bush Administration knew was false at the time. In the same way, the Johnson Administration faked the Gulf of Tonkin Incident between the USS C. Turner Joy and the USS Maddox and Vietnamese PT Boats to get us into the Viet Nam War. It was wrong when Johnson did it and it was wrong when Bush did it. American lives and treasure were subsequently spilled for NOTHING.
USS Zumwalt (DDG 1000) Next generation US warship.
(5) If the United States Congress wants to declare war on Fundamentalist Islam, they should do so openly – and with their eyes open, and make their case to the American people — or we need to leave Afghanistan. If we think that we’ll do what Alexander the Great, the British Empire and the Soviet Empire couldn’t, we’re wrong. It pains me to write this, but it’s how I feel.
(6) The United States needs to decide what its policy will be toward the rest of the world before it spends money on/initiates military platforms. We don’t do that very well. Currently we want to be able to fight two or three small wars at once, respond to pirates, smugglers and guerillas, and save dirt-hole countries like Haiti during the aftermath of an earthquake — at the same time. Hegemony is fine if you can afford it and we no longer can. The Haitian relief would have been better spent at home – or not spent at all.
(7) Although strategy can dictate capabilities, capabilities also limit strategy. A military with minimal expeditionary capabilities obviously will have difficulty fighting expeditionary wars. Small land forces make large scale overseas deployments difficult. The absence of counter-insurgency capabilities may reduce the ability of the military to wage long term anti-guerrilla campaigns, although it may not. This begs the political question of what the US intends to do and how it intends to pay for it.

9 thoughts on “Military Spending

  1. I know its hard for you to write these things, LL. Much of it is hard for me to read and accept as well. Life isn't about what's easy, though, and I respect your views and willingness to express them.

    I, as a Conservative, have to apply the same analytical eye toward institutions that I hold dear as I do toward those that I am skeptical and suspicious of – otherwise there is no intellectual honesty to anything that I say or write. I agree that our foreign policy in regards to US military involvment has gone down a path very similar to the Progressive push toward Green Energy or Social Programs. They all engage in massive expenditures, seemingly without sufficient focus on objectives, consequences (intended or unintended), or fiscal responsiblity. We do these things largely because they make us feel like we are "doing something" – which is one of the weakest justifications for taking an action I can think of. I know that because I've been guilty of it too.

    We have to take a hard look at these things, and not just for reasons of living within our budget.I'm not an isolationist, by any stretch of the imagination. I do, however, desire a focused and realistic use of our money and the lives of our Sons and Daughters.

  2. LL, you have a lot of military experience and I take your opinion in these matters to heart.

    As Paladin says, our blood and treasure is precious. We must make these decisions wisely.

  3. Excellent post.

    The biggest hypocrisy is that many Americans, while they are against government intervention domestically, have no problem with the nation-building we are doing abroad with no clear objective.

    We can also no longer afford to be the world's policeman.

  4. Chris – you're on point as is Paladin. The nation needs to decide what its vital needs are and who are allies are (and aren't) and we need to forge a clear and concise path. I'm not opposed to the new F-35 or spending money on the military, but the spending needs to be based on national policy, not who needs what built in their district.

    We need to stop fighting these pointless brush wars.

  5. LL, all good points! No question we need to relook at capabilities and REAL requirements. One point, the Russians ARE coming back, and not as friends… They are ramping up their forces yet again, this time with petro-$$ and the Chinese are expanding their 'sphere' of naval influence… The other question is how many of the NATO, ANZACUS, OAS and other treaties will be redone/cancelled to meet the new reality.

  6. Super post, LL, and I agree with much (almost all, actually) of it. For some reason, our military has become a sort of jack-of-all-trades; they provide disaster relief, they are called out to clean up after natural disasters, they are dispatched to play janitor, nursemaid, and who knows what else. It's not what the military is for, not what they are trained for or should be doing. They're running around Afghanistan handing out candy and trying to "make friends" with the locals. Wtf? When did our military become Good Will or the Salvation Army? It's a horrible use of massive resources, and it does weaken us, not only because our forces are spread out all over the place playing diplomat cum U. S. mascot but because of the global perception. How intimidating are we? And don't even get me started on the wonderful orders that our military patrol without rounds. Or that they went into Iraq completely underfunded and without the equipment and support they needed. Oh no, we need to spend our military funds on important stuff, like cleaning up other nations' messes, not actually fighting wars.

    Okay, I'm winding up, and I'm only on your first point. Heh. Better stop here. But you're right, the military can't be a sacred cow; the trouble is that we can't cut defense spending with dems in charge. They'll cut training and ammo and vehicles and weapons . . . the stuff a military needs.

  7. Great post thanks for the good information. We need lots of help these days. All we can get.

  8. Times are tough … there should be no sacred cows except military pay. Cut back new acquirement's by 25% and overseas missions that border on humanitarian by 50%.

  9. I won’t say I ‘disagree’ with your comments on Iraq (4)…however, I thought then as I do now, Hussein had to be dealt with – and I hope that other nations (Iran, North Korea, Venezuela, etc.) will consider their future actions through the same hindsight that we now use to look back at ours.

    I will say that a stiff jab, followed by a right cross . . . could have worked, as opposed to the double leg takedown that has resulted in us still grappling with the situation. (I watch a lot of MMA, and am working on converting my football metaphors).

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