Overspent and Overextended

Why is Washington spending so much on the military?

The U.S. dominates the globe militarily. America’s reach exceeds that of the Roman and British Empires at their respective heights. The threats facing the U.S. pale compared to its capabilities. So why is Washington spending so much on the military?

The military budget is the price we pay for the nation’s foreign policy. The U.S. currently is spending nearly as much as the rest of the world. In real terms, Washington is spending more today than at any time during the Cold War, the Korean War, or the Vietnam War.

In 2010 the U.S. will spend roughly $700 billion on the military. The Obama administration’s original non-war defense budget was $534 billion. The latter is an increase of $20 billion, or 4 percent (2 percent after inflation). Yet conservatives attacked Obama for “cutting” military outlays. Robert Kagan of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace charged that the administration was signaling that “the American retreat has begun.”

It is a curious form of “retreat.” The U.S. is ramping up the war in Afghanistan.  American troops continue to occupy Iraq. The U.S. remains the principal member of every major Cold War alliance: NATO, U.S.-Japan, and U.S.-Korea. America is allied with every major industrialized power outside of China and Russia. U.S. troops are stationed at hundreds of installations in scores of nations around the globe. The American secretary of state continues to circle the globe instructing other nations how to order their economies, reform their political systems, and behave in international relations.

Retreat indeed.

Despite initial plans for zero growth in defense spending in coming years, there are rumors that the Department of Defense will receive a 2 percent increase in real outlays through 2015. The Congressional Budget Office (CBO) estimates that the Pentagon needs about 6 percent more dollars just to carry out the administration’s current plans. The CBO’s Matthew Goldberg testified: “CBO projects that carrying out the plans proposed in the president’s 2010 budget request … would require defense resources averaging $567 billion annually” in constant terms from 2011 to 2028, compared to just $534 billion in 2010.

And with Congress voting to preserve weapons systems targeted by the administration, actual outlays likely will end up higher. Moreover, the “surge” in Afghanistan will boost Afghan war costs from about $65 billion to $95 billion in 2010 alone.

Still, none of this spending is enough for those determined to micro-manage the globe. The slightest caution, the least restraint, the barest hesitation is attacked as “isolationism.” Some conservatives want to enshrine a military build-up in law, mandating that outlays be fixed at 4, 5, or even 6 percent of GDP.

Hawks focus on the percentage of GDP going to the military—currently about 4.4 percent—since it has fallen over the years. The most recent peak was 6.2 percent in 1986. Thus, Thomas Donnelly of the American Enterprise Institute contends that the cost of “primacy” has been falling.

But America spends more dollars on the military today than in 1986 or at any other point since World War II. The numbers are striking. Using 2000 for constant dollars, the U.S. devoted $774.6 billion to the military in 1945, the last year of World War II. In 1953, the last year of the Korean War, military outlays ran $416.1 billion. Peak expenditures during the Vietnam War hit $421.3 billion in 1968.

In contrast, in 2010, before the Afghan surge and other unplanned expenditures, the administration expected to spend $517.8 billion ($700 billion including Afghanistan and Iraq). That is more than during two large, hot wars. More than during a lengthy, often warm Cold War. And two-thirds as much as during the worst conflict in human history.

Expenditures as a percentage of GDP have fallen because the U.S. economy has grown, not because military outlays have dropped. The 2010 GDP (in 2000) will run about $11.7 trillion. That is almost twice as much as in 1986 (also in 2000 dollars).  That’s more than three times the U.S. GDP in 1968. It is nearly six times America’s GDP in 1953. And 6.6 times the GDP of 1945.

Thus, spending the same GDP percentage on the Pentagon today as in 1986 would double outlays. Spend the same percentage as in 1968 and expenditures would be three times as large. Do the same as in 1953 and spending would be six times as high. Military outlays should be tied to threats, not economic growth. Can anyone credibly claim the military threat facing America is two, three, or six times as great today as during those years?

Equally important, the U.S. spends vastly more than any other nation and devotes a larger percentage of its GDP on the military than do most of its allies and adversaries. Of course, a few poorer or smaller states spend more—columnist Jeff Huber points to “juggernauts like Burundi (5.9 percent), Eritrea (6.3 percent), and Qatar (10 percent).” But the GDP percentage tells us little about their capabilities.

U.S. outlays per capita dramatically outpace those of other nations. My Cato Institute colleague Chris Preble figures that in 2010 citizens in America will devote more than five times as much as Germans, about eight times as much as Japanese, and more than 27 times as much as Chinese.

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  • ||

    War is the health of the state.

  • Bill in SF||

    Absolutely. You could argue that Doug has one thing backwards - the expansive foreign policy is the price we pay for having such a big military budget. You can't keep handing all that money to your buddies in the Military-Industrial Complex without giving them something to do, or the public won't let you stay in office.

    Obviously it works both ways - sometimes the foreign policy goal really is the driver, and many politicians were genuinely scared of Commies just like they're now scared of Muslims, and sometimes the foreign policy goals are to do favors for companies outside the military business (like supporting banana-republic dictators to protect United Fruit), but if you look at all the horsetrading over which Congressional district gets which fighter/bomber aircraft contracts or gets their bases closed, a lot of it's really about the money.

  • ||

    A+ for a caption from one of My Favorite Movies of All Time.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    Fuck yeah.

  • Kryton||

  • ||

    "If you told me you'd never die I would make love to you right now..."

    (Pause)

    "I WILL NEVER DIE"

  • Geotpf||

    The United States spends about as much on it's military as do the other 194ish countries do on theirs-combined.

    That's a little too much, methinks.

  • hmm||

    Timmy is goin to jail.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/deals/201.....-geithner/

    13B to GS hopefully costs some people their freedom and sphincter retention capacities.

  • TP||

    hmm,
    I've already made the prediction that by the end of February, at the very latest, Timmy will be forced to resign, and Obama will nominate Jon Corzine. Care to make a wager?

  • ||

    Chris Dodd is the new secretary of the treasury.
    At least I hope so, for the lulz it would bring.

  • TP||

    Nah, Dodd has some cushy lobbying or "adviser" position with some bank or HC company. Plus, he's got too much baggage. Corzine has been lobbying Obama for the job since Obama was declared the winner of the election, but Obama said he needs someone like him (Corzine) in the State House in NJ. Well, he ain't gonna be there much longer. Besides, Obama owes Corzine big time.

  • hmm||

    hell no. Timmy is now a toxic asset.

    OMG pun.

  • TP||

    Yeah, I'd say he's a bit toxic.

  • Jeffersonian||

    That video is much, much better with the sound off.

  • ||

    Geithner is not going to jail.

    TARP gave Carte blanche approval to buy "toxic assets".

    Define "asset" - easy, isn't it?

  • hmm||

    I'd explain hyperbole to you, but it appears everyone else gets it and you don't. Being an asshole I find that funny.

  • hmm||

    I'd explain hyperbole to you, but it appears everyone else gets it and you don't. Being an asshole I find that funny.

  • hmm||

    The spending is bad. The using is worse. I don't mind staying ahead of the curve when it comes to the ability to kill people. I tend to dislike using the ability for every fucking reason that doe or doesn't come along.

  • ||

    One of the reasons war costs us more now is because we rely so much on private contractors. A security guard at Xe can make a couple of hundred thousand a year. Far more than a NCO in the military.

    Basically by using private contractors, we paying top officer rates for someone to do a NCO's (or less) job.

  • ||

    Yeah, now that you can't (politically) enact a draft anymore, it's quite expensive to convince somebody to risk their life. However, I see that as a good thing, not a bad thing.

  • ||

    Politics shouldn't interfer with defending the nation. If a draft is necessary, it is necessary. I'm not a fan of the draft. People shouldn't be forced into service, nor should the military be forced to accept people that will behave poorly everyday to get kicked out. People shouldn't be expensive to convice if the fight is worthy of American life and treasure.

    It's not a good thing for the taxpayer. Back in the 80s the defense industry was ripping the the tax payer off by charging outragous prices for wrenches and toliet seats. They've found a new way to do that.

  • Bill in SF||

    A draft is only necessary when the politicians want to have a war and can't talk the public into volunteering. The US military has very seldom had wars to defend the nation - World War 2 was defending one of our colonies in the Pacific, the War of 1812 was a serious attack, argue however you like about the War Between the States, and there was a bit of unpleasantness with Pancho Villa, but otherwise it's been attacking other countries or at best defending allies.

  • ||

    This is ridiculous on several levels. Contractors are a very short term cost. You don't have to pay them retirement, pensions, admin costs, or life long medical expenses. They also ususally have to provide for themselves in everything but their actual weapons and gear.

    Also contractors are a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of any force in a combat zone.

    The rising cost comes from the logistics it takes to move everything around and the need for the military to reduce casualties to an absolute minimum. No losses are considered acceptable anymore. As such an enormous amount of money is now spent on each individual soldier and the units that directly support them.

  • JJ||

    Yes contractors make up a small portion of Americans in an actual war zone, but dont forget the many contractors that are working on projects stateside. Important development projects that would not be able to be done by a NCO or even a military officer. Yes they add to the defense budget, but it is an important addition. If we just had the military, with no contractors supporting them, our capabilities would be quite diminished. We wouldnt have the Predator drones that are becoming so integral to war. We wouldnt have new communications systems. Sure, DARPA does a lot, but most of our innovations comes through the market via defense contractors.

    And the companies pay health care and what not for their employees. Maybe a "contractor" in Afghanistan who drives the shit house cleaning truck doesnt have a 401k, but most others do. And the "cost" they say it costs for each soldier, I would say is probably a bit high. What was it? 1 million per? Yeah... I believe that. Ive seen it from both sides, as a soldier and a contractor, and both are important to keeping our country safe and ahead of the game in this crazy world.

  • Kolohe||

    You don't have to pay retirement, healthcare, or other bennefits to contractors. So in many cases it's a wash.

    Also, the vast majority of private contractors are not security contractors, but are in logistics and other support capacities.

  • Kolohe||

    Or what Pain said,
    (**** threaded comments)

  • Marian K.||

    A citation from Abu Muqawama blog...

    "We (USA) are criticized that we use the hammer too often. The real reason is that this is the only tool in our box that actually works. All the remaining governmental institutions (USAid etc.) are completely worthless."

  • ||

    Lol. Our hammer didn't work in Iraq, we had to buy off the insurgency. It's not working very well in Afghanistan either.

    The best I can tell, the goverment screwdriver works pretty well.

  • Rich||

    Shock and "Awwww".

  • ||

    That's a great idea. Freak out our enemies with our super high-tech military (Dear Allah, they can do that?), then do cute things during the occupation. With LOL cats and stuff.

  • ||

    If they are anything like us, put some explosives in your underwear and watch their leaders shit bricks.

  • monkeys||

    YES !!! High tech attack kittehs.

  • Marian K.||

    The hammer works as a hammer.

    It can't be doubted that the US military is able to execute tactical, purely militarily actions (performing patrols, taking a city, killing an enemy unit) quite efficiently. Consider the level of US casualties: it is very low by historical standards. Even in the recent decade, wars like "Ethiopia vs. Erithrea" would take several thousand soldiers dead per day, which is the entire aggregate body count of the US army over the whole Iraqi war.

    Nation-building is, however, more than a war, and blaming the military because it can't build a nation by itself is like blaming the real hammer that it can't build a new house by itself.

  • ||

    US military spending is all about subsidizing American industry and buying votes.

  • EJ||

    hows that any different than any other type of spending you advocate?

  • ||

    Wow, you know what I advocate?
    You must be one of them fancy mutant mindreaders?
    Are you bald and in a wheelchair as well?

  • WTF ||

    Crayon, no he is Kuato. Professor X is busy talking about his penis on another thread. You need a score card to keep these boys straight.

  • ||

    HURR DURR
    YOU DON'T KNOW MY BELIEFS
    YOU'RE JUST A REPUBLICAN IN DISGUISE
    YOU HATE BLACK PEOPLE AND GAYS
    HURR DURR

  • rather crazy that Libertarian||

  • ||

    Ooooh. Bringing so much to the conversation.

    What's next? Hand puppets?

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Crayon,

    US military spending is all about subsidizing American industry and buying votes.

    Yes, for instance, the poop bag industry gets a lot of windfall profits thanks to all the bullshit being flung around by people that say that military budgets are all about subsidizing American indsutry and getting votes.

  • ||

    The government is the problem and not the solution.
    Remember that one?

  • ||

    I don't mind spending to keep ahead of the curve, but I think it is high time we withdrew from Europe, Japan and Korea.

  • creech||

    Time for the President and Mrs. Clinton to convey this message - "The American people can no longer afford to protect your ass. Within five years, our military will focus on defending America." - to our allies in South Korea, Canada, UK, France, Germany, Australia,Japan, etc. etc.

  • MNG||

    "Why is Washington spending so much on the military?"

    You know, I hope people that keep asking that will be the first up against the wall when the Kree finally invade the Earth. "Oh I wish we had put more money into the military to save us from our weekly raping by Ronan the Accuser!"

  • Marian K.||

    MNG, with Ronan the accuser, you made my day (or rather evening). And that despite the fact that I actually like most of the Reasonite articles.

  • MNG||

    Hey, I know it's hard for many around here to believe, but I've been buying and reading Reason magazine for years!

  • Shorter MNG||

    I have poor comprehension.

  • ||

    "I've been buying and reading Reason magazine for years!"

    Then why don't you understand it?

  • MNG||

    You know, one can understand and be ultimately not convinced...

  • ||

    So you weren't convinced that coercive force is wrong?

  • ||

    Is a safe word involved?

  • ||

    Come off it!

    You know very well that the world will be saved by a geeky kid with a stolen Kree computer, the hot chick who ignored him before the kree invaded, a grandmother who knits and a colonel who was drummed out of the military because he was too aggressive.

  • MNG||

    That f*cking geeky kid, for once I'd like to see him get his!

  • NeonCat||

    He will. The Colonel will accidentally shoot him in a fit of rage.

  • ||

    Unfortunately, the military is always preparing to fight the last war.

    And to nuke everything, just in case.

  • NeonCat||

    Look, planes, tanks and ships are sexy. SF troops are not, as a group, sexy. And they always want to look scruffy in the field.

  • Marian K.||

    "Unfortunately, the military is always preparing to fight the last war."

    That is understandable, given that crystal balls haven't yet been issued to the Pentagon folks...

    European and Asian militaries are no better in this regard.

    The real question is how fast can any given military adapt to new conditions, once the sh-t hits the fan.

  • Tim Starr||

    1) Nice cost-only analysis. What about the benefits of US global supremacy? To whom would Bandow have us surrender that supremacy? China? As for our allegedly friendly relations with all other industrial powers, Bandow ignores the fact that conventional warfare has pretty much gone the way of the dodo thanks to US dominance, and other industrial powers use proxies against us like North Korea and Al Qaeda.

    2) Bandow also ignores the fact that terrorism is only not an existential threat to America because of the US foreign policy which he decries. E.g., if we hadn't overthrown Saddam, Libya would still be developing nukes and A.Q. Khan would still be in business, and terrorists would be a lot more likely to be able to send a nuke to one of our major port cities in a shipping container, then detonate it upon arrival.

    3) There's no correlation between terrorism and interventionism; or, if there is, it's inverse. The countries that have been bombed the worst by the US in the past century are Germany, Japan, Italy, Korea, and Vietnam, but no terrorists from any of those countries have ever killed civilians in America. The same goes for countries where the US has imposed the most sanctions (e.g., Cuba), or supported the worst dictators (e.g., Mao, Stalin).

    4) Try telling someone rescued from the Holocaust that "War is the health of the State!" Wars liberate people, too. They've liberated people from slavery, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, etc.

  • NeonCat||

    1) Yes, having people around the world think we're a bunch of crazy military types right out of Avatar has been TERRIFIC for America. Nukes have curtailed conventional warfare, not necessarily US dominance. Where the super and not so super powers aren't interested, (such as sub-Saharan Africa) conventional warfare still thrives albeit mostly in civil wars. Not to mention, have you ever heard of Return on Investment? Is the US getting a good or bad return on investment by spending trillions of dollars on weapons and foreign adventures? It does not seem that way to me.

    2) If the US weren't such a giant, bullying military presence, maybe we'd have fewer terrorists to worry about, or at the very least give fewer recruiting points to terrorists. After all Bin Laden's putative reason for attacking the US was the presence of US military personnel in Saudia Arabia. Now, granted, he probably would have attacked the US anyway, but do you think he'd have as many followers if some people didn't think he had a point?

    Did it occur to you that the big reason most non-Western nations have developed nukes is to resist what they see as US hegemony? Have you noticed that the US treats even small nuclear states like N Korea a lot more gingerly than we do the "working on it" states like Iran and Iraq?

    3) Maybe international terrorism is a more recent phenomenon than the military activities you mention. Maybe international terrorism really could not be seen as an effective tool until the rise of mass visual media. Maybe Islamic terrorism is helped along by cultural beliefs about dying while killing enemies. But sure, tell me that the people bombed by the US in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, etc have no reason to feel hatred towards the US. Hey, we had good intentions, after all.

    I'm pretty sure we didn't support Mao very much, BTW.

    4) Does that qualify as a Godwin? While I can't refute German/Austrian Jews and others (and one can argue they are victims of civil war), I'm pretty sure the Polish, French, Danish, Dutch, Belgian, Luxembourgian, Hungarian, Czech, Slovak, "Yugoslavian", Romanian, etc. Jews, etc. were victims of war before they were murdered by the Nazis. But you want to emphasize that war has it's uses, that it can be used for good. And this is true, but most people around the world recall that the aggressor nearly always has spent huge sums on buying weapons.

    I know you do not agree with me, but I think the US would be a lot better off if stopped using weapons development/manufacturing as public jobs programs and starting working hard on reducing our military presence around the world. If that makes me an isolationist, fine, I'm an isolationist.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tim Star,

    1) Nice cost-only analysis. What about the benefits of US global supremacy?

    Yes, that's exactly right! That is what the Romans thought as well . . . uh, until they ran out of money.

    2) Bandow also ignores the fact that terrorism is only not an existential threat to America because of the US foreign policy which he decries.

    Yes, because people really love being invaded and blown to Kingdom Come by Americans, so what gives with these terrorists, anyway?

    E.g., if we hadn't overthrown Saddam, Libya would still be developing nukes and A.Q. Khan would still be in business, and terrorists would be a lot more likely to be able to send a nuke to one of our major port cities in a shipping container, then detonate it upon arrival.

    Shocking! Shocking! See, if America had not blown to bits hundreds of thousands of Muslims, these countries would have spent very scarce and precious resources JUST to give an expensive nuclear bomb to a crazed terrorist that promises and swears to use it to blow up a port somewhere in America . . . because terrorists can be trusted . . .

    Hmmm . . .

    3) There's no correlation between terrorism and interventionism

    Totally right! This is why Luxembourgh has been attacked so many times by roving bands of terrorists! Oh, and Switzerland! All terrorists hate neutral Switzerland, because, well, its neutral, and they hate them for their Chocolates.

    The countries that have been bombed the worst by the US in the past century are Germany, Japan, Italy, Korea, and Vietnam, but no terrorists from any of those countries have ever killed civilians in America.

    Good point! In fact, the argument can be made that if you totally obliterate all their cities to the point of almost non existence, then there would be no terrorists! I mean, history DOES teach you something!

    4) Try telling someone rescued from the Holocaust that "War is the health of the State!" Wars liberate people, too. They've liberated people from slavery, Fascism, Nazism, Communism, etc.

    Totally agree! I mean, after the US defeated Stalin and Mao, all those countless of millions people were saved from extermination!

    No, wait . . .

  • Zeb||

    Well, they might hate Switzerland now for that minaret thing.

  • ||

    And the cuckoo clocks.
    Don't forget about the cuckoo clocks.

  • Marian K.||

    Pakistan actually wanted nukes because of India. And India wanted them because of Pakistan and China. And China wanted them because of the USSR.

    Americans tend to think that they are the center of all the world and the main motivator, but they are not.

  • DRATER||

    1) Benefits of global supremecy: expectation (temptation?) that the US will intervene in a host of 3rd world conflicts that have nothing to do with us. If China wants to take on that task, let 'em. As for the decline of conventional war, you can thank the US nuclear arsenal more than anything else.

    2)Terrorism is not an existential threat to the US, or any western democracy. That is just silly. A threat to Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and the like? Yeah, maybe, but a stiff breeze could topple those governments. What about the threat of nuclear terrorism? Extremely unlikely, see here:
    http://reason.com/archives/200.....d-of-osama

    3)If there is no correlation between interventionism and terrorism, then why intervene? However, if there is a negative correlation between intervention and terrorism, then we should go after terrorists, not try to rebuild the world in our image. The amount of money we spend on defense implies we are trying maintain an empire, not defend our borders.

    4) War stopped the Holocaust, therefore all wars are good. Are you really trying say this? ugh.

  • Will||

    1) Nukes and two world wars had something to do with diminished conventional warfare. Which other industrial powers are using Al Qaeda as a proxy? Are the rest of the G8 plotting against us? For North Korea, I guess you mean China. They are great friends these days with North Korea setting off nukes on China's border.

    2) Of course terrorism is a threat but again you seem to want to make connections between terrorists and states. The world is full of nukes that terrorists could get their hands on. Dropping bombs on small countries is not going to change that. I agree that the threat you describe is real which is why we should not be wasting so many resources on something that will do nothing to diminish it.

    3) And how many terrorists come from regions in which we have do not have a big military presence? What are you saying about dictators? That America should support dictators?

    4) The states you mention were all very warlike. The people liberated from them were liberated from a repression, militaristic, warlike state. We fought to end war and to bring freedom, we weren't fighting for war.

  • K-Y||

    "The world is full of nukes that terrorists could get their hands on."

    and yet it has never happened. not once.

  • Les||

    Tim, I'm afraid you have been trounced. I hope you've learned from this experience.

  • juris imprudent||

    Actually the cost analysis is the weakest part of an otherwise good article.

    Mr. Bandow, it does you absolutely no credit to hop from real to relative terms to suit your argument. That is the shoddy kind of thinking I would expect from CAP, not CATO. The only relevant discussion is how much defense (or aggression if you prefer) costs us as a percentage of GDP, or of total govt outlays. Jumping to the absolute realm in comparison to different times adds nothing.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "U.S. outlays per capita dramatically outpace those of other nations"

    That's because all the rest of them are sponging off of the U.S for military protection and have been doing so ever since World War 2.

    If the U. S. had not served as a counterbalance to the communist block countries for all that time there would be no free Europe or Asia and no systems to secure the freedom of international commerce that has had a significant impact on our national wealth.

    What I wonder about is people who want to start with the military in complaining about government spending when there are far greater amounts spent on all the entitlement programs, welfare systems, farm subsidies and the like that are nothing more that float out transfer payments with nothing of any value obtained whatsoever in exchange for the money.

    If you want to start cutting government spending - start with those things first.

  • MNG||

    If you take out the entitlement programs that people pay into, is it really a "far" greater % of the federal budget than military spending?

  • Old Mexican||

    MNG,

    Yes, it is 60% of the budget, under Mandatory Spending.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Why woud I take that out?

    Government spending is government spending.

    And the FICA taxes that people pay are just that - taxes just like any other.

    There is no ownership right to any benefit payments established by the payment of those taxes. The courts have already established that.

  • ||

    yeah, we should spend our wealth on foreigners up to the point they illegally cross our borders, then no money for them. But hey, lets cut spending on ourselves so we will have more to save the world ;-)

    Yes, I think we are spending too much and it all needs to be cut. The Constituion allows spending for the general welfare of the nation, but says nothing about the general welfare of the world. Of course, that doesn't forbid us from defending allies.

    Change the word war to security, and include the costs of all security jobs and support and the comparison would be different.

    Many people on the right consider Europe rife with anti-freedom socialist and bad for America.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    transferring wealth between individual citizens to force some to subsidize others has nothing to do with "general welfare" in any Constitutional sense of the phrase. Or any economic one either.

  • ||

    We can debate what the Constituion means when it says "general welfare". We could debate the meaning of treaties with other nations too, but not about their general welfare since the Constituion doesn't apply general welfare to foreingers. Although some in congress would support it.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "We can debate what the Constituion means when it says "general welfare"

    There's no need beceause there's nothing to debate.

    James Madison, known as the Father of the Constitution becuase he drafted most of it, explicitly stated that "general welfare" was a mere tautalogy that meant nothing by itself but only related to the more explicitly defined enumerated powers in the Constitution.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "the Constituion doesn't apply general welfare to foreingers"

    We haven't done what we've done with the military for the last 60 years for the welfare of foreigners - we've done it for our own benefit and protection.

    The United States could never survive and prosper if we decided we weren't going to do anything except attemt to deal with world's beligerents until they actually tried to hit the beach on one of our coasts.

    We are not self sufficient in all sorts of commodities, products or services. And we never could be unless we were going to go back to living like the natives who lived here before the Europeans landed. We are not even self sufficient in all the components and commodites that go into producing the weapons systesm we need for our own defense.

    The entire system of international trade that the world's economies depends on was enabled becauase the United States was there to ensure that the shipping lanes would remain open and all the other trade infrastructure would not be impeded.

    The Europeans and Asians would not have been capable of resisting the Soviets and the Chinese on their own even if they had been willing to fight instead of tacitly surrender and be absorbed into the Eastern block (which is what they most likely would have done).

  • K-Y||

    The notion that shipping lanes would collapse with 5 carrier groups instead of 11 is childish.

  • ||

    ""transferring wealth between individual citizens to force some to subsidize others"""

    Isn't that how we are paying for the wars?

  • Gilbert Martin||

    Uh no.

    Buying military equipment produces an actual product that has value - like tanks and figher planes.

    Military protection is an actual service that benefits the taxpayers. It protects their lives, property and freedom.

    Entitlement programs do nothing but take money away from one set of citizens and hand it out to another set of them. There is no product produced or service provided that is of any benefit to the set of citizens on the paying end of the equation.

  • ||

    ""There is no product produced or service provided that is of any benefit to the set of citizens on the paying end of the equation."""

    Bullshit. It does pay for programs that help some people get jobs, and better their lifes, which strengthens our economy.

    We pay Afghan farmers not to grow poppy, that a farm subsidy. We distrubited money to poor Iraqis, and Afghans so they won't be tempted by the enemies money, that's welfare. We have built hospitals in Iraq and used our taxpayer money for their health care, that's an entitlement.

    And yes, us playing save the world has its advantages, and we make friends when we spend our tax dollar to rebuild nations, well sometimes. We've been in the mid-east for decades, what have we recieved in return?

  • K-Y||

    Plus, a ton of that money goes to weapons like missiles and bombs that, unlike a harvester or water purifier, just disappear in a cloud of smoke and dust, having never paid any return on their investment and are ultimately unsellable as an asset.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "Bullshit. It does pay for programs that help some people get jobs, and better their lifes, which strengthens our economy."

    No - THAT idea is what is bullshit.

    Me paying for ANY handout to any other individual citizen creates absolutely nothing of any value for me.

  • ||

    I'm not necessarily against help other goverment anymore than I am against helping ourselves.

  • Les||

    Military protection is an actual service that benefits the taxpayers. It protects their lives, property and freedom.

    If you believe this, I have an education system to sell you.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    make that flat out transfer payments.

  • Mike M.||

    Can anyone credibly claim the military threat facing America is two, three, or six times as great today as during those years?

    I think I could make a credible argument that this could well end up being the case in the near future, depending on what happens regarding nuclear proliferation in the years ahead.

    If Iran, the world's pre-eminent state sponsor of worldwide terrorism, becomes a nuclear power, or if Pakistan enters into a state civil war and their nukes end up falling into the hands of the Islamists, the military consequences for America will be grave indeed.

  • NeonCat||

    Let me get this straight.

    The thousands of nukes pointed at us by the Russians were less of a military threat that a couple of theoretical nukes that might end up in terrorist hands.

    I think your math is lacking.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    The Russians STILL have plenty of nukes.

  • Mike M.||

    I hate to break this to you, but the Russians STILL have thousands of nuclear weapons.

    In any event, it's not the number of nuclear weapons in the world that matters the most, it's who is actually controlling them, and whether or not they're willing to use them, and under what circumstances.

  • DRATER||

    If Iran, the world's pre-eminent state sponsor of worldwide terrorism, becomes a nuclear power, or if Pakistan enters into a state civil war and their nukes end up falling into the hands of the Islamists, the military consequences for America will be grave indeed.

    This is the contrived plot of a straight-to-video action movie staring Eric Roberts and Steven Segal. see here: http://reason.com/archives/200.....d-of-osama

  • Old Mexican||

    Can anyone credibly claim the military threat facing America is two, three, or six times as great today as during those years?

    Sure! It is not like the paranoids and the schezophrenics that are running the country are exaggerating the threats, don't ya think???

  • ||

    Don't assume they would use those on us. Islamists kill more Muslims than Americans. And one or two nukes PALES in comparison to what we were facing during the Cuba missile crisis.

  • Hagbard Celine||

    National security is the chief cause of national insecurity.

  • TP||

    ...and the bombs, missiles and bullets are all shaped like dicks. It's a subconscious need to project the penis into other people's business. It's called fucking with people.

  • zoltan||

    No, TP. As ape descendants we engaged in much poo-flinging, and understandably much of it was done from a higher level (branch) to a lower level (ground). We like to see cylindrical objects drop on someone else and go splat.

  • ||

    Well, I'm not fan of our love of intervention and meddlification, but I do think this period can rightly be called a Pax Americana. The question is, what happens to us when we can't afford the cost anymore?

  • ||

    The question is, what happens to us when we can't afford the cost anymore?

    We'll find out, because we can't afford it right now, and won't even be able to fake it with our Mighty Dollar Printing Presses in a few years.

    My question is, would it be better to fake it as long as we can and have the Pax Americana end in a rapid collapse, or to start drawing down now in some kind of controlled fashion?

  • ||

    I vote draw down. First stop, Europe: "Say fellas, we're pulling out. Good luck with Russia and everything. Oh, and the Middle East? Your problem now. We can't give you any more money or military help, but here's some advice: The rest of you should continue to occupy Germany. Why? No reason."

  • Tman||

    This is what's always left out of these annoying "we spend too much money on guns!" arguments.

    The US has been providing security for most if not all of Europe for over half a century. Same with Japan and South Korea. But yet this always gets ignored in these conversations. Until we pull the thousands of troops out of these areas along with the cost of maintaining these bases, then the argument is sort of invalid.

    I don't think we should do this, as both the countries we protect and ourselves benefit from these relationships. Germany and Japan went from bombed out shells of a nation to the second and third largest economies in the world (until the 90's) following our guidance post WWII.

    Peace through superior firepower isn't just a slogan.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tman,

    The US has been providing security for most if not all of Europe for over half a century.

    Yeah. And for free! God, I wish I could get away with things like that when running my business!

    I don't think we should do this, as both the countries we protect and ourselves benefit from these relationships.

    All tax-consumers benefit from their parasitic lifestyle - I mean, it is not like the US Gov produces anything . . .

    Germany and Japan went from bombed out shells of a nation to the second and third largest economies in the world (until the 90's) following our guidance post WWII.

    And just imagine how better the world would be if the US made bombed-out shells of the rest of the planet's nations so that THOSE societies can flourish under the guidance of America!

    Peace through superior firepower isn't just a slogan.

  • DRATER||

    The US has been providing security for most if not all of Europe for over half a century. Same with Japan and South Korea. But yet this always gets ignored in these conversations.

    I'm with you here. If we can stop subsidising the defense of our prosperous allies, then we defend ourselves, without fiscal ruin.

    I don't think we should do this, as both the countries we protect and ourselves benefit from these relationships.

    Unless there is a reason to think Europe, Japan, SKorea, Taiwan, or fill-in-the-blank is completely unable to defend itself, then we should begin withdrawing our forces. If SKorea needs more time to build up its defenses, fine. But all of these countries should know that the US will not foot the bill indefinately. Any economic benefit to the US comes strictly from the absense of a war we would otherwise fight on behalf of our allies (at least from a military perspective). I think a good trade relationship with a nation can be had without writing the check for their defense budget.

  • Tman||

    I agree with you Drater, I don't believe that we should be there indefinitely. For now however, it is cheaper for us in the long run to keep the bases we have instead of having to come back in the future with ten times as many troops.

    I think this speaks to the difference between former dynasties such as the Romans. The US doesn't have a base in the middle of Korea because we want to extend our non-existent "empire". We are just trying to prevent the spread of fascism through Empire.

    South Korea is another example of a country that rose from post war shambles in to a prosperous nation whilst we maintained a military presence.

  • zoltan||

    "Free" military protection for countries in Europe and Asia makes most of those countries 1)incapable of ever protecting themselves when there is a real threat, 2)ungrateful for the "free" protection they get from the U.S. It would be better in the long run for such countries to feel the heat and understand what it's like to have to defend themselves, then allow them to wallow in anti-American, anti-defense sentiment while we foot the bill for their ungratefulness. It's like paying your adult childrens' bills and letting them shit all over you, never expecting that they will one day be on their own.

  • ||

    Bravo!

    As a Reagan conservative I was convinced that our military was off limits.

    I'm am no longer so. It is now as big and entitlement program as Social Security, Medicare or Medicaid.

    Why do we have troops in Germany and South Korea?

    Because we feel we have too so we can be the biggest kid on the block.

    Those days are over because we simply can't afford to be anymore.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Chris Slade,

    Why do we have troops in Germany and South Korea?

    So that a few Americans can learn to speak German and Korean! Don't be silly!

  • NeonCat||

    Because them frauleins and ch'yonyos is hot!

  • Chad||

    Agreed. We spend too much on the military, and it is the one meaningful and substantive part of the budget which can be cut. We should plan to cut the budget by half, relative to GDP, over a 10-20 year time span.

  • ||

    We should plan to cut the budget by half, relative to GDP, over a 10-20 year time span.

    I'm witcha, Chad, so long as we agree that "the budget" includes all the entitlement programs and miscellaneous domestic programs as will as the military budget.

    Because you realize we can't cut the budget significantly over any meaningful timeframe without cutting entitlements, right?

  • Chad||

    Of course we can cut one program and not another.

    Now, please explain your plan to cut SS and Medicare spending by half. Or what half the state department you are going to cut. And which National Parks you are going to sell to loggers and oil companies. And which research we should quit doing. And which veterans we should throw to the curb. And what to do with the legions of poor, un-insured people your plan would create.

    Thanks,

    Chad

  • ||

    It's very simple, Chad. Just make people live without these programs. I know you don't believe people are capable of taking a shit without the government helping them do it, but trust me, they will find a way.

  • Tony||

    Actually, a lot more people will die from poverty and that's just a fact of the universe. You may be okay with that, I and people who appreciate civilization aren't, and we outnumber you, and this is a democracy.

  • ||

    Short Tony: I will steal from you if I get the opportunity and claim it is for "mankind".

  • ||

    To Tony and Chad:

    Poverty that wouldn't exist in the first place if you allowed the free market to work. Poverty that wouldn't exist if people weren't addicted to government handouts. I just love this argument: "we can't stop our bad policies now because people are dependent on the bad policies."

    If people die because bad policies are removed, then it is the fault of the people who created those bad policies, not the fault of those who are trying to make things right. If you're stealing from me in order to feed your kids, you can't blame me when you get arrested and your kids go hungry. You people are the ones who aren't offering a solution. Letting injustice become the status quo is not a solution.

    Regardless of all these philosophical arguments you probably don't care about, why are you so sure that people would actually die from this? If the transition to zero welfare was a gradual decrease over a few decades, I doubt it would do much harm.

    But whatever, keep believing whatever you have to believe in order to justify in your minds the coercive status quo. Libertarianism is only a fantasy to those who can't imagine a system other than the one we have today, and they'll make whatever excuses they can to convince themselves and those around them that this is true.

  • Tony||

    Poverty that wouldn't exist in the first place if you allowed the free market to work.

    Do you have ANY evidence for this claim? I mean that's pretty out there. There would be no poverty if only the markets were free? History, reason, and common sense beg to differ.

  • Chad||

    I quit reading after the first sentence.

    This guy is dumber than dumb, and there is no reason to attempt to reason with him.

  • NeonCat||

    Drink!

  • K-Y||

    "Cause of death, doctor?"

    "Just write down 'poverty'."

  • Chad||

    As Tony said, many will die, and many will suffer mightily.

    You don't even pretend have a solution for this. This is why libertarians will never amount to a hill of beans in the real world.

  • K-Y||

    But you definitely get credit for pretending to have a solution to the problem. At the end of the world, when Jesus comes and judges us, he might say, "All of this suffering, and you did nothing."

    And we will say, "We didn't really know what to do about it. We tried out Chad's plan for awhile, but it turned out he was just pretending..."

  • ||

    No, no, ANYTHING but eviiilll loggers and oil companies. I simply hate those petroleum and wood products!!

    Science you are an idiot.

  • qwerty||

    please explain your plan to cut SS and Medicare spending by half

    Take current spending. Divide by 2. Spend that much. Pretty easy.

    In another 10 years, I'd cut the other half.

  • Chad||

    And when your grandma comes begging for dog food because she chose to pay her rent, then what?

    When the plague spreads among the poor who have no health care, then what?

    Answer the questions, you chicken.

  • K-Y||

    Why would she beg for dog food?

  • Chad||

    Because you are clearly a cheap-ass SOB, and she knows that she wouldn't get anything better out of you. Anyway, you would be too busy installing your new granite countertops that you bought with the tax savings.

  • juris imprudent||

    And there is the liberal piety that drives the left - I've decided that you aren't a nice person and I will MAKE you be one goddammit.

  • K-Y||

    I don't have a dog. Or dog food.

  • ||

    Now, please explain your plan to cut SS and Medicare spending by half.

    Hey, you're the one who set the goal.

    Please explain your plan to cut total spending by half without touching the ever-growing expenditures of the entitlement programs.

  • ||

    "There's no correlation between terrorism and interventionism"

    What are the primary reasons for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda declaring war on us in the 90's, and the subsequent terrorist attacks?

    Hint: It's not because we love baseball, apple pie, and Chevy trucks.

    I don't understand how people can believe that putting our troops in foreign countries (for "training" or "advising" or outright military actions), and placing constant pressure on their government, whether economic or military in the pursuit of our "national interests" doesn't in the slightest anger the population.
    Would these same people shrug and smile if the Chinese government had a major military installation in DC? If the Chinese government was constantly on the back of our President? No big deal?

    I don't think so. It's just that we have become so arrogant that we don't see other countries, other peoples, as being on the same level as us. And besides, we're the Good Guys, right?

  • ||

    Hint: It's not because we love baseball, apple pie, and Chevy trucks.

    Here is a hint you seem to have missed, Paul. These guys don't shout "down with American policy" as they die but "Allah Akbar" which doesn't mean "fire in the hole" in Arabic.

  • K-Y||

    That's not what they say.

  • ||

    I think they say "I bought a GM product!"

  • ||

    Gill....I'll ask again.

    What are the primary reasons for Bin Laden and Al Qaeda declaring war on us in the 90's, and the subsequent terrorist attacks?

  • juris imprudent||

    It is not as simple as either of you would have it. There are elements of reality in both of your views, but the insistence that it is ONLY your view that prevails is precisely why we don't make any headway on the issue.

  • ||

    Of course it isn't a total black and white issue, nor do I think that "my" view is the ONLY view. It's just that there is little evidence to support the idea that Bin Laden and Al Qaeda attacked us solely because we are a "freedom loving people" and/or they wanted to initiate global Jihad per the Koran and they just decided to start with us. However, there is plenty of evidence- from the mouth of Bin Laden and his associates in Al Qaeda- to support the view I hold. I'm open to any new evidence.

  • juris imprudent||

    The desire for a worldwide Caliphate does not suggest that jihadists are willing to live and let live. I do believe they would impose their world order on us even if we withdrew from the areas they currently rule. Now, we would be less a catalyst for potential recruits if we weren't right in their face, but that doesn't mean that radical Islam is amenable to a detente with the West (in general or America in particular).

    And quite frankly, if they insist on a fight with the West, I'm all for having it THEIR backyard rather than ours.

  • Tim Starr||

    Neoncat:

    1) US nuclear supremacy was a big part of the US winning the Cold War. Otherwise, there would've been no nuclear arms race. Most of the warfare in sub-Saharan Africa has been guerilla in nature, not conventional, in yet another consequence of the demise of conventional warfare as a result of US dominance.

    2) Soviet Russia was far more of a giant military bully than the US ever was, and had far less in the way of terrorist attacks against itself or its allies. Weakness is what provokes terrorism, not strength. In the case of the US, the weakness is in the form of resolve, not capability. Nuclear weapons development hasn't been motivated by "US hegemony," that's just a pretext, and the US has treated North Korea quite gingerly since the early 1950s, long before it got nukes. The US military presence in Saudi Arabia was nothing but a transparent pretext for Bin Laden, as it never cost a single Saudi Arabian life, it was to protect Saudi Arabia from Saddam, and the US has military bases all over the world (even in Muslim countries like Turkey), while the only foreign terrorists to ever kill civilians in America in recent memory have been from the Middle East.

    3) Your "maybes" are mere speculations which at best call for evidence and at worst are false. E.g., warfare against civilians goes back thousands of years, and is nothing new. If Islamic terrorism is "helped... by... beliefs about dying while killing enemies," that's just another way of saying that Islam is the problem, not US foreign policy. To repeat: there's no correlation between the US bombing foreign countries and people from those countries killing civilians in America. The people of Germany, Japan, Italy, North Korea, Vietnam, etc., have far more reason to hate the US, but they don't send people here to kill us.

    4) We stopped Chiang Kai-Shek from wiping out Mao when he had the chance back in the 1940s, then formed an alliance with Mao in the aftermath of the Cultural Revolution.

  • DRATER||

    US nuclear supremacy was a big part of the US winning the Cold War. Otherwise, there would've been no nuclear arms race.

    That's debateable. In any event, the US and Russian nuclear arsenals haven't increased since the end of the cold war, so why the enormous increases in our defense spending? And has it worked?

    Most of the warfare in sub-Saharan Africa has been guerilla in nature, not conventional, in yet another consequence of the demise of conventional warfare as a result of US dominance.

    This is not result of US dominance. This is a result of dirt poor rebels with a few AK-47's fighting against corrupt governments with incompetent militaries. The US dominance has no bearing on the intensity & frequency of these conflicts.

  • Tim Starr||

    Old Mexican: Switzerland has been attacked by terrorists, as when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine blew up an airplane at Geneva airport in the 1960s. Sweden has had many of its women raped and mutilated by Islamic immigrants who feel that Infidel women are fair game.

    Drater:

    1) Many foreign countries are major trading partners w/ the USA, such as South Korea. Their security is very much in the US interest. Many middle eastern countries are major oil suppliers to our major trading partners, such as Japan. Their security is very much in our interest.

    2) Saying that nuclear terrorism is unlikely doesn't make it so. The main reason it's unlikely now is that the US is trying very hard to discourage anyone capable of building nukes from giving them to terrorists, but we yet fail with Iran. There's also chemical and biological weapons to worry about; we know Al Qaeda was working on anthrax weaponization in Afghanistan, because we found their labs when we first overthrew the Taliban.

    3) The problem with a counter-terrorism-only approach is that it simply doesn't work. The only way to do it effectively requires counter-insurgency as well, and ultimately the development of democratic governments, as democracies have the least likelihood of going to war with each other.

    4) "All wars are bad" was the view I was countering; I never said they're all good. However, the extent to which freedom comes from war has been grossly underestimated by the antiwar movement. Virtually every instance of freedom in human history has either resulted from war or has had to be defended by war.

    Paul: Al Qaeda declared war on the US because we could defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam, and their couldn't. This humiliated them and made them feel emasculated.

  • DRATER||

    1) Many foreign countries are major trading partners w/ the USA, such as South Korea. Their security is very much in the US interest. Many middle eastern countries are major oil suppliers to our major trading partners, such as Japan. Their security is very much in our interest.
    Their security is in our interest, but not our responsilibilty.

    Saying that nuclear terrorism is unlikely doesn't make it so. The main reason it's unlikely now is that the US is trying very hard to discourage anyone capable of building nukes from giving them to terrorists, but we yet fail with Iran. There's also chemical and biological weapons to worry about; we know Al Qaeda was working on anthrax weaponization in Afghanistan, because we found their labs when we first overthrew the Taliban.
    You may be right on this one. But there could be a threat out there larger than terrorists or NKorea or China. I speak of Omicron Persei 8. They could destroy America, and the entire world. The chances of this happening are infintesimally small, but not impossible. I suggest we spend $100 trillion per year to defend ourseleves against this threat. If an invasion from outer space doesn't happen, then we will know we have succeded. Sarcasm aside, we should not ignore the possibility of a terrorist-nuke, but we need to be reasonable about our response to it. If Iran furnishes a terrorist with a nuke, it gives the US a legitimate pretext for war. It doesn't seem likely that a country would invest so much to create a weapon, give it away, and then suffer it's own destruction as a result. Same for bio/chem weapons.
    The problem with a counter-terrorism-only approach is that it simply doesn't work. The only way to do it effectively requires counter-insurgency as well, and ultimately the development of democratic governments, as democracies have the least likelihood of going to war with each other
    We have spent $1 trillion and counting on counter-insurgency, and
    it still hasn't worked. If counter-insurgency (the way we have been doing it) is the only answer, then we are doomed. We don't have enough money or soldiers to convert the world into a bunch of representative democracies.

    "All wars are bad" was the view I was countering; I never said they're all good. However, the extent to which freedom comes from war has been grossly underestimated by the antiwar movement. Virtually every instance of freedom in human history has either resulted from war or has had to be defended by war.
    I misunderstood; my apologies

  • DRATER||

    my spelling sucks

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: Tim Starr,

    Old Mexican: Switzerland has been attacked by terrorists, as when the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine blew up an airplane at Geneva airport in the 1960s.

    No, I agree with you! I mean, blowing up an airplane in the tarmac is the same as attacking a whole nation! It is not like we're both committing a fallacy of composition here, right?

    Sweden has had many of its women raped and mutilated by Islamic immigrants who feel that Infidel women are fair game.

    I did not know countries possessed women as assets. Oh, you mean that immigrants raped and mutilated female Swedish nationals? Shocking! How many is "many", by the way?

    Many foreign countries are major trading partners w/ the USA, such as South Korea. Their security is very much in the US interest.

    Mexico is a major partner - the US doesn't have troops posted down there . . .

    Maybe somebody did not get the memo in Washington, maybe some deployment orders . . . Perhaps?

    Many middle eastern countries are major oil suppliers to our major trading partners, such as Japan. Their security is very much in our interest.

    Indeed, because otherwise meek Japan would not dare get out their country to buy oil - they need American troops posted in their territory (which, by the way, also RAPED many Japanese women, especially in Okinawa) in order to buy what it is already in the best interest of middle eastern countries to sell anyway . . .

    Saying that nuclear terrorism is unlikely doesn't make it so.

    Of course it doesn't. Just see how that country was terrorized into submission with two bombs . . . Craziness. Shocking behavior.

    The main reason it's unlikely now is that the US is trying very hard to discourage anyone capable of building nukes from giving them to terrorists, but we yet fail with Iran.

    God forbid Iran gives away very expensive bombs to trustworthy terrorists instead of using them to protect their own country - I mean, what has the world come to?

    The problem with a counter-terrorism-only approach is that it simply doesn't work. The only way to do it effectively requires counter-insurgency as well, and ultimately the development of democratic governments, as democracies have the least likelihood of going to war with each other.

    And if they don't want to be democratic, we'll make them democratic, because there is nothing more peaceful than a democratic nation imposing its will on others!

    Al Qaeda declared war on the US because we could defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam, and their[sic] couldn't. This humiliated them and made them feel emasculated.

    So what Al Qaeda did was to start a dick-sizing contest, huh? If I only had known . . .

  • Les||

    Tim, every argument you make defending a bigger, more authoritarian government is easily countered. You should try Daily Kos or RedState, since both sites are filled to overflowing with folks who think the government should be able to destroy lives on the whims of politicians.

  • ||

    "Paul: Al Qaeda declared war on the US because we could defend Saudi Arabia from Saddam, and their couldn't. This humiliated them and made them feel emasculated."

    That is an interesting view. Do you have any evidence to support it?

  • Kroneborge||

    agreed with most of this, although I'm still very concerned about Iran.

    Still that might be solved by letting them know that if they ever used a nuke we would totally oblertate their country off the fucking map with our own. IE not one stone left standing on top of the other.

    As long as that threat was deemed credible, that might work to stop them.

    Then again, they have some crazy fuckers in power.

  • ||

    That's the MAD doctrine and every country that has nukes should be on notice. But unless Iran builds thousands the destruction isn't really mutually assured. We hold the advantage.

    Iran wants to be the most powerful nation in the mid-east, not a nation of glass.

  • ||

    This is ridiculous on several levels. Contractors are a very short term cost. You don't have to pay them retirement, pensions, or life long medical expenses. They also ususally have to provide for themselves in everything but their actual weapons and gear.

    Also contractors are a tiny, tiny, tiny portion of any force in a combat zone.

    The rising cost comes from the logistics it takes to move everything around and the need for the military to reduce casualties to an absolute minimum. No losses are considered acceptable anymore. As such an enormous amount of money is now spent on each individual soldier and the units that directly support them.

  • ||

    """You don't have to pay them retirement, pensions, or life long medical expenses."""

    Maybe, maybe not. Do the Haliburtons offer retirement, pensions, and cover life long medical expenses? I don't know, but if they do, the money they contribute comes from the money they make from their customers. Of course the US isn't their only customer. But our tax dollars would be at least help pay for those items.

    ""They also ususally have to provide for themselves in everything but their actual weapons and gear.""

    You really don't think they bill the US for their operating expenses?

  • ||

    The hell is wrong with these comments? I can't reply to anything.

  • ||

    And my name doesn't appear.

    I donated to you guys for this?

  • ||

    Oh wonderful now it works.

    Better sleep with one eye open server squirrels.

  • qwerty||

    If the libertarian movement ever wants to be taken seriously, it has to give up its head-in-the-sand isolationism. It is truly amazing how many people still believe that nobody will bother us if we don't bother them. Even a cursory analysis of history shows this not to be the case.

  • Old Mexican||

    Re: qwerty,

    If the libertarian movement ever wants to be taken seriously, it has to give up its head-in-the-sand isolationism. It is truly amazing how many people still believe that nobody will bother us if we don't bother them. Even a cursory analysis of history shows this not to be the case.

    You're absolutely right! It is better to stick your nose in other people's business because, as everybody know, people respect a busybody much more than a person that minds his business.

    I mean, that has been the case in history, right?

  • Les||

    qwerty, if you want to be taken seriously, you have to stop making stuff up. Not attacking and occupying countries that pose no threat to us is not "head-in-the-sand isolationism." It's possible to create financial and cultural relationships with the rest of the world, while, at the same time, choosing not to be a douchbag bully.

    And why would any thinking person want to be "taken seriously" by people who vigorously support murderous authoritarianism?

  • The Libertarian Guy||

    Don't you mean non-interventionism, querty?

  • ||

    It is truly amazing how many people still believe that nobody will bother us if we don't bother them.

    It's truly amazing that YOU don't understand, that the more you fuck with them, the more of them want to hurt us.

    -jcr

  • ||

    Probably the worst thing about the resources we waste on the military, is the waste of all those highly-skilled engineers and technicians still working on weapons to beat the Soviets.

    If those people were available to develop products for civilians, we'd have our damned flying cars by now.

    -jcr

  • ||

    It's called "protecting free trade"

    Few others will, we reap the benefits of free trade that far outstrip what we spend.

    Imagine if we kept our Navy at docks, and just let pirates do whatever they want as long as it was not near our own shore. Exactly how long do you think before trade halted and poverty made a raging comeback in the West?

  • mizuna||

    I can't tell, Doug.

    Do you love Al Qaida more than you hate America? Or is the intensity about equal?

    Clearly, we will not be safe until the US military controls every bridge, every seaport, every train depot, every airport, every zipline, every mountain top, and every valley pass.

    When every knee bends and every tongue confesses fealty to the United States government, THEN we can limit DoD spending to 6% of GDP.

    Quit siding with the terrorists, you traitor.

  • Mike T||

    I stopped reading when I realized that the author was not adjusting for inflation. As the military is about 17-25% of the federal budget (depending on what bills you lump in), it's just one of many targets that could be hit to reduce spending. Social Security alone spends significantly more tax dollars for something that is a blatant rip off to tens of millions of Americans (basically anyone under the age of 40).

  • ||

    You forgot to mention the spending by the DoE, DVA and our not so intelligent intelligence agencies which amount to another 150 billion dollars per year.

  • Tim Starr||

    Drater:

    If the security of other countries is in our interest, they're unable to protect themselves without our help, and we can help them, then it's our responsibility to provide that help.

    Allowing every tin-pot tyrant in the world to develop WMDs & sponsor terrorism will result in a situation in which those WMDs can be transferred to terrorists who can then attack the US without being traced back to their country of origin. Then we won't know who to retaliate against, and deterrence will fail.

    COIN has worked everywhere it's been tried - in Iraq, in Malaya, the Philippines, even Vietnam.

    Old Mexican:

    By your argument, the Pearl Harbor attack wasn't on the entire US, just one of its foreign outposts. No big deal, eh?

    Sweden's foreign policy hasn't immunized it from Muslim aggression, contrary to your claim. Now you're just trying to weasel out of having to admit you're wrong.

    The US doesn't need to station troops in Mexico because Mexico's not bordered by heavily-militarized dictatorships (like South Korea). The US did have to fight a war with Mexico, though, as well as invading/occupying it a couple of other times.

    Japan's economy took a big hit when Saddam invaded Kuwait, thus threatening Japan's oil supply. That's one of the reasons Japan's economy has been in the toilet ever since. Far less rapes have been committed by the US troops in Okinawa than were committed by the Japanese troops in Korea, the Philippines, and the rest of Asia. When US troops rape, they get criminally prosecuted. When Japan occupied countries, they took sex slaves and made rape their official policy (along with cannibalism & weapons testing on human subjects).

    Iran wants nukes for self-defense? Seriously? Iran defended itself quite well against Iraq in the longest convention war of the 20th century. Why would it need nukes? It's already got chemical weapons.

    If non-democracies leave us alone, we should leave them alone, but if they threaten us or our allies, then we get to alter or abolish them as we see fit.

    Les: I've always argued for smaller less authoritarian government, not the opposite.

  • ||

    The United States has been fighting other peoples wars for almost 100 years. Besides the loss of so many American lives doing so, we have had to shoulder the financial burden for fighting wars that were not of our making. To make matters worse, programs like the Marshall Plan also placed a burden on the American economy, a liability that is finally catching up with us and will undoubtedly burden our children and their children.

    I am of the position that the underlying motivation for our continued sacrifice is the failure of the parents and the educational systems of this Country to instill in our young people the real source of our wealth as a nation. Too many believe that "Money if the root of all evil" and as one consequence, we've been apologizing to the rest of the world for our success as a nation and as a people. I am not willing to put one more soldier, much less thousands, in harms way out of some misguided ideology that suggests we are guilty for being wealthy and that we owe people in other parts of the world a slice of the American Pie.

    There may be a hundred valid reasons why we should intervene in worldly events to prevent injustice.

    Guilt is NOT one of them!

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