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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

"Time to Get Tough on Defense Spending"

Calling all budget hawks:

Time to get tough on defense spending, by Katrina vanden Heuvel, Commentary, Washington Post: With the fixation on shrinking the budget deficit, why is over $700 billion in annual defense spending almost always off-limits for discussion? The ... bipartisan Sustainable Defense Task Force's June 11 report recommending over $1 trillion in Pentagon cuts over the next 10 years is an indication that some sanity might arrive inside the Beltway. ... Some of the report's big-ticket items for savings over a 10-year period include $113 billion by reducing the U.S. nuclear arsenal; $200 billion by reducing U.S. military presence abroad and total uniformed military personnel; $138 billion by replacing unworkable, costly weapons systems with better alternatives; and $100 billion by cutting unnecessary command, support and infrastructure funding.
But, the report argues, "significant savings" may depend on rethinking "our national security ... goals..." It goes on to describe "a strategy of restraint -- one that reacts to danger rather than going out in search of it.... We need not stick around in foreign lands often. "Our military budget should be sized to defend us. For this end, we do not need to spend $700 billion a year... We can be safe for much less... Our principal enemy, al-Qaeda, has no army, no air force, and no navy . . . . The hunt for anti-American terrorists is mostly an intelligence and policing task."
A reorientation of security policy will not come easily in light of ... the hawkish Democratic foreign policy advisers, the neocons, the think-tank specialists, and pundits who ... crowd out alternative policies and arguments. Lobbyists for defense contractors with hundreds of billions of dollars at stake are also formidable opponents to change.
This ... is abetted by a mainstream media that offer little exposure to new security ideas... Indeed, few in the media have covered the task force's report. Add to that mix the oft-used argument -- especially potent in an economy with double-digit unemployment -- that defense cuts are a jobs killer, and the prospect for the broader debate Americans need and deserve are dim. Defense spending, however, is one of the worst ways to create jobs per dollar spent. It makes far more sense to cut an increasingly bloated Pentagon budget than to reduce much-needed investment in jobs, clean energy, transportation and support for state and local governments...

Making significant cuts in defense spending will ... require rethinking our role in the world, as the task force report suggests. Is America Globocop or responsible Republic? As Globocop, we have spent over $1 trillion on the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq alone. Isn't it time we had an honest and open debate on that question?

Seniors will trade chickens for health care and have their Social Security payments reduced before "hawkish Democratic foreign policy advisers, the neocons, the think-tank specialists, and pundits" will even consider rethinking our military strategy. Even then, they'd likely conclude that there are many other things that must be cut first.

    Posted by on Tuesday, June 22, 2010 at 11:07 AM in Budget Deficit, Economics, Iraq and Afghanistan | Permalink  Comments (88)


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