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The Price of Military Power

Updated on June 22, 2011

History Repeats Itself

It was once said, you can’t negotiate from a position of weakness. History has borne this out …and history has a nasty habit of repeating itself. America was asleep at the wheel when the events of 9/11 took place and for a brief moment it woke up to the fact an act of war had been perpetrated against our nation. An act of war paralleled only by the disastrous attack on Pearl Harbor.

Now it seems as if the country is snoozing once again, oblivious to dictatorships and rogue regimes that have made it abundantly clear they intend to bury the west. The only thing standing in their way is the U.S. military and its’ allies. Now is not the time to consider downgrading the forces which keep us a free nation.

Some argue we are sending our sons and daughters to die in a war which doesn’t concern us. Nothing could be further from the truth. The men and women who freely joined the military and are valiantly doing battle know full well why and what they are fighting for. There is no military draft. They joined of their own free will to protect our way of freedom.


The Defense Budget

It’s understandable, no sensible person wants war. But, it’s an unfortunate fact of life. Every country in the world has a standing army for defense. Those who have a weak military are quickly devoured and consumed by the stronger. A conciliatory look through any history book will bear this out…it isn’t rocket science.

To be sure, there are things the military could be cut without curtailing its’ strength. But, the 100 billion dollars being put on the altar of fiscal responsibility is ludicrous. That is, unless we want to be praying to Allah tomorrow.

The ongoing battle over cutting our defense budget might produce a productive national discussion if it began by getting rid of one repeated fallacy. That being, it’s necessary to cut defense spending to restore America’s fiscal health.

The World's Sheriff

A recentForeign Affairs”article claimed the United States faces “a watershed moment” and “must decide whether to increase its already massive debt in order to continue being the world’s sheriff or restrain its military missions and focus on economic recovery.”

Really...Let’s be realistic. No serious budget or economy analyst believes slashing the defense budget will immediately fix the national budget deficit. Federal spending on defense employs as many people as federal spending on infrastructure does. The simple fact is, as former budget czar Alice Rivlin observed, dismal projections of future deficits are not“caused by rising defense spending,” and even if one agrees defense spending increases with the inflation rate, this is “not what’s driving the future spending.” Our huge debt is caused by entitlements. A huge portion of these benefits are being drained by illegal aliens. Not “undocumented workers,” illegal aliens.

Fairness and Politics

So why are the various commissions and members of Congress, recommending defense cuts? The answer is fairness, and politics, not that cutting defense is essential. However, if Americans are forced to accept cuts in domestic entitlements, it only seems fair the price is shared equally, including the military.

This “fair share” argument is at least more convincing than the “cut defense or kill the economy” theory currently being proposed. But it is still based on erroneous beliefs. Distributing cuts equally is not necessarily the best idea.

According to a recent article in the “Stars and Stripes” newspaper, Defense Secretary Robert Gates is planning to reduce troop strength by 70,000 by 2015 due to “this country’s dire fiscal situation. He also proposed cuts for “overpriced and controversial weapons systems.” The cuts seem to be based on the pipe dream Afghan forces will take the lead in combat operations there by 2015.

All of this is being planned while our troops are seeing back-to-back deployments to Afghanistan. Units of the 82ndAirborne Division recently returning from Afghanistan will be returning within a year. Many units have seen 3 to 5 tours in combat zones during the last 5 years.

Decreasing our military strength during a time of war would not be a prudent move no matter what the cost. The number of troops in our military needs to be enough to allow at least 2 to 3 years between deployments! Cutting back will not allow that to happen. What does this say to a soldier? It says “Money is more important to my country than me putting my life on the line for it.”

Common sense would seem to dictate Defense budget cuts should be at the bottom of the list. Congress could, if they were as smart as they would have us believe, cut out all pork and earmarks before cutting our military. Unfortunately, we all know both Republicans and Democrats wouldn’t dream of cutting back there. They have to keep their constituents back home fat and happy.

Douglas Schoen of Newsweek writes “The United States’ defense is overstretched as it attempts to fight two wars, terrorism, and dangerous nuclear development. We are facing a national crisis, as we must figure out how to maintain a strong defense while trying to reduce defense spending.” Wouldn’t “…reducing defense spending” while “trying to figure out how to maintain a strong defense” be a contradiction in terms? There are many places to reduce spending without sacrificing a “strong defense.”

In an article on titled “GOP gets queasy over earmark ban,” the GOP seems more concerned about their “pork” than the military, which was conspicuously not mentioned.

According to one article at Associated, “Political Earmarks and Getting Around” (article 6163902,) the current budget that stalled in Congress had over 39,000 earmarks and a price tag of over $130 billion. Another website listed some of the more absurd earmarks: $1.2 million to study the breeding habits of the woodchuck;$19million to examine gas emissions from cows (otherwise known as flatulence;) $6.4 million for a Bavarian ski resort in Kellogg, Idaho; $13 million for an industrial theme park in Pennsylvania; $33 million to pump sand onto the private beaches of Miami hotels; $350,000 to renovate the House Beauty Salon and $250,000 to study TV lighting in the Senate meeting rooms.

Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution states in part: “The Congress shall have Power To lay and collect Taxes, Duties, Imposts and Excises, to pay the Debts and provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States…,”

The important parts of this Article are to “provide for the common Defense and general Welfare of the United States, to declare war, to maintain a Navy, to provide for calling forth the Militia to execute the Laws of the Union, suppress Insurrections and repel Invasions, to provide for organizing, arming and disciplining, the Militia…” Nowhere in the Constitution is “pork” or “earmarks” mentioned.

The glaring, undeniable truth is defense and national security, should be the very last thing cut. In actuality, defense spending is the only part of the federal budget not keeping pace with inflation. The actual value in defense spending is decreasing.

If anything, defense spending needs to be increased, to not just maintain the military, but expand its capabilities. This is essential because nations hostile to America are becoming increasingly able to harm us. And they are becoming bolder each passing day.

These hostile nations don’t care about how much or little we spend on defense. Their only concern is do we have the will and means to fight and or deter them from waging war. Sure, cutting defense might save money now. But, how expensive will it be to rebuild our defenses once the very real possibility of a full blown war erupts?

Perhaps, a good place to start trimming our deficit would be cutting off foreign aid to those who disrespect our government and way of life!


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