According to a recent Reuters story, the military is suffering from the problem of “less money, more commitments.”
First it was worries over the South China Sea, Afghanistan, Libya, Mali and Syria. Then it was Russia’s annexation of Crimea and the hunt for Nigerian schoolgirls kidnapped by Boko Haram. Now the United States and its allies find themselves preparing once again for potential military action in Iraq.
For U.S. defense planners already struggling to implement savage spending cuts, the last year has been one of the most demanding since the immediate aftermath of Sept. 11, 2001, attacks.
The idea that the Defense Department is facing “savage spending cuts” is delusional. It is no more real than the “government shutdown.”
The point of this mainstream news story is simple: You should only fear the consequences of not spending enough and never think about what kind of suffering and destruction could result from spending too much and going too deeply into debt.
The ludicrous assumptions in this piece pile upon one another. For example:
“North Korea and Iran also haven’t gone away,” said Kathleen Hicks, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) who until last year was U.S. principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy.
“For the U.S. Navy in particular, it’s a real challenge,” she told Reuters in May. “With the size of the force, it’s tough to deter in all these places at once.
So that’s the job of the United States taxpayer now? To “deter” everyone everywhere and preserve the status quo throughout the globe by military might and spending?
The story does do readers the favor of dispelling the Obama myth that the President has been less interventionist.
In a major foreign policy speech at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point in May, President Barack Obama said Washington must become more circumspect over the use of force.
The reality, however, is that under Obama, the United States has continued, if not accelerated, its trend of sending forces to more places, albeit often in much smaller numbers.
And this trend, even with smaller numbers, is expensive.
Uncertainty about the cost of new Iraq commitments had delayed the submission of the separate Overseas Contingency Operations budget to Congress, Pentagon finance chief Robert Hale told Reuters.
That budget covers wars and this year will contain an additional $1 billion to ramp up U.S. military commitments to Europe.
What about other nations? Do they struggle like we do? While some of them have increased military spending, and are thus “closer” to us, the real difference is that they seem to restrict their military to their immediate regional needs.
While most nations focus the vast majority of their military might on their immediate neighborhoods, the United States is spread more thinly.
Yes, because we have taken upon ourselves the responsibility to “deter” everywhere on the planet.
Does anyone think that the economic collapse of the United States is not also going to be a security risk for the United States? Spreading ourselves thin—both geographically and financially—is only a financial risk, and not also a security risk? Every time we deepen our debt to deal with conflicts on the other side of the planet, we make ourselves and our futures more vulnerable.
I realize that there are other problems adding to our debt load, but the fact remains that, in order to deal with them, we need to “come home” and stop trying to be the planet’s police department.
Less money means we need to shed some commitments.