Shrivel the military & watch out
Let's shrivel our military and rescue ourselves from debt, say some. They are confused.
They should note that this is the second decade of the 21st century, far from the days when military spending took up as much as half the budget. It's 18 percent now, a dwarf next to the budgetary Goliath it used to be. The Goliath today is entitlement programs.
Military spending came down significantly after the Soviet Union waved goodbye. Remember how economically jovial the Clinton years were? One reason was major military reductions in federal spending.
Today you could substitute pea shooters for drones as part of a transformation-to-tiny military budget and still witness bloat in overall spending as baby boomers retire and Medicare, Social Security and other programs usher us to a continent-shaking debt calamity.
Never mind, says the administration as it proposes something resembling a pea-shooter initiative that includes the hacking of Army manpower to the lowest levels seen since before World War II. The president frets little about the entitlement threat, instead giving us another entitlement, something a third of Americans say has already made their lives worse despite legally dubious delays of its imposed tribulations. I speak of ObamaCare. I speak of gross negligence.
The confusion about military spending does not end with faulty awareness of what's big and small in dollar distributions. It extends to the point of not knowing how dangerous the world still is or what kinds of strategies might make a difference.
You see, there's Russia, and there's Vladimir Putin. While he is not exactly another Soviet premier, he is tap dancing in that direction. There's China playing bullying games with Japan and still making threats about Taiwan as it enlarges its military. There's nuclear-armed North Korea headed by someone whose character attributes appear to be murderousness and wackiness. We haven't even mentioned Africa or the Middle East or jihadism yet, and when you put it all together, it's not as if there's nothing that may need deterring.
Oh, no big deal, retort some, observing how our military is larger than the next 10 largest militaries without getting it that it's not a helpful idea to make this a fairer fight if it comes to that. We want to win decisively with as little loss as possible and we want to keep it from coming to that by scaring possible aggressors to shivers and shakes. Not only that, but the challenges to us come from every possible direction, meaning our forces could be spread here, there and yonder fighting many enemies.
Yes, it's true that any bureaucracy will have waste, that priorities and needs change, that readjustments are needed and that sometimes savings are involved. But when you run across liberals or libertarians telling you that we can cut military spending enormously, ask them about strategy.
I asked a libertarian that once after a debate had arrived at a question-and-answer period, and he snarled that I was expecting him to say all we had to do was have weapons and troops on our shorelines. No. I was looking for an analysis equal to his opponent's intricate illustrations of what might achieve what where. As best I understood by the time this person had quit rambling in search of an answer was that he thought we could just have weapons and troops on our shorelines.
I am sorry. It won't do.
Jay Ambrose is an op-ed columnist for McClatchy-Tribune.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- National Weather Service predicts up to 7 inches of snow before Sunday night
- Steelers not limiting themselves in free agency
- Rossi: Pirates must pay for Mr. Right
- Arrogant media elites mock Middle America
- Man killed in Shaler house fire identified
- Coyotes proliferate despite year-round hunting
- Burnett’s farewell tour wishlist has just 1 item: Pirates World Series
- Under Rutherford, it’s been a sizeable shakeup for Penguins
- Winnik impresses Penguins in first workout
- Chicago’s 1st black major league baseball player Minoso dies
- Police investigating shooting at Strip District club