I had previously not known that the Pentagon budget amounts to half a trillion dollars. The number gets even more ludicrous when the money for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are factored in, which raises the total to around 700 billion dollars.
I remember being in awe of the statistic that the United States not only has the highest defense budget in the world, but spends more on its military than the next 14 countries combined
Where is the threat? Terrorists? North Korea? Iran? None of these proposed ‘threats’ justifies such a ridiculous amount of expenditure on the military. In spite of all the talk about nuclear proliferation, preventing ‘rogue’ nations from getting nuclear weapons, or even defending regions abroad that are of America’s interest, I really don’t see the world descending into a major military conflict. Nations are too economically attached; and even if that is not the case, nothing good ever comes out of a war: people die, economies crumble, legitimacy of rule is often called into question.
With this in mind, and with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan winding down, I really think that Congress could make a substantial dent in the military budget. Even a 10% reduction in the 550 billion budget would be quite significant.
It’s not like we have no places to spend the extra money: Imagine, instead of buying 55 billion dollars worth of guns, bullets, and tanks, we spend all of that on creating jobs for Americans, or bolster the depleting medicare / medicaid, or, better yet, help alleviate the federal debt / deficit.
That’s why I was pleased to see that some Republicans are actually breaking from tradition and saying that they might consider cutting the Pentagon budget when considering cutting overall spending.
Check out the New York Times report here, which discusses the awkward position some newly-elected, Tea Party-supported Republicans are in because, while Republicans traditionally are very reluctant to cut military spending, they were elected on a platform to cut spending and grab a hold on the deficit.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates’ proposal to cut defense spending by $78 billion over the next five years is a good start, but maybe they can trim the military budget down so that it is only more than the next ten countries combined?
It is also quite comforting to know that Colin Powell has the sense to say that cutting the military budget is a possible way to tame the deficit, as supposed to defunding the NPR or the National Endowment for the arts, which only serves as rhetorical posturing and does next to nothing in reducing the deficit.
It’s my belief that part of the unwillingness to slash the military budget can be attributed to the notion that a sizable number of Americans believe that their country could go to war at any minute, and that we need to be completely dominating all other countries in order to feel safe. This presents a perplexing image of America, as it tries to display confidence by boasting a strong military where in fact Americans end up appearing as insecure and paranoid about being attacked.
America is sliding down the world rankings in the education realm; it is beginning to lag behind in science and technology development. President Obama addressed parts of the issue in his State of the Union address. If the President wants America to once again lead the world, it can only do so with a strong economy, and, more importantly, a healthy and educated populace.