No Military Immunity

America's bloated defense budget is ripe for cutting.

Vicky Hartzler, a freshman representative from Missouri, says one of her top priorities is "reining in runaway spending." Yet she exempts one-fifth of the federal budget and more than half of discretionary spending from scrutiny.

"Now is not the time to talk about defense cuts while we are engaged in two theaters with men and women in harm's way," Hartzler recently told The New York Times. For Hartzler and too many of her fellow Republicans, it's never time to talk about defense cuts. This irrational attitude, the flip side of automatic progressive resistance to reductions in social spending, must be disavowed by anyone who is serious about dealing with the nation's fiscal crisis.

There is a grain of truth at the heart of the sense that defense spending is special. Unlike so much of what the federal government does, maintaining an army and navy is explicitly authorized by the Constitution, and with good reason: Providing for the common defense is a central function of government.

But that does not mean anything labeled "defense" should get a free pass. Consider the two wars Hartzler mentioned, which so far have cost something like $1.3 trillion, not to mention thousands of lives. Is forcibly replacing dictatorships with liberal democracies a sensible, cost-effective way to protect Americans from foreign invaders? If not, Hartzler is citing an egregious waste of money and lives in the name of defense as a reason not to cut military spending.

A view of defense that requires reshaping the world in America's image is a blank check for the Pentagon. If it justifies $700 billion a year—about as much as the military spending of all other nations combined—why not twice or three times that amount? There will always be another hostile regime to replace or failed state to rebuild.

If conservatives applied to military spending the same skepticism they bring to misbegotten or obsolete domestic programs, they would ask whether making the world safe through democracy is a viable defense strategy. They might also wonder why we have 47,000 military personnel in Japan 66 years after the end of World War II, 28,500 in South Korea 58 years after its war with the North ended, and more than 80,000 in Europe 20 years after the collapse of the Soviet Union. These affluent countries are perfectly capable of defending themselves from whatever threats they still face.

"The Pentagon presently spends more in constant dollars than it did at any time during the Cold War," notes Andrew Bacevich, a professor of international relations at Boston University. Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), whose proposal for reducing this year's federal spending by $500 billion includes $48 billion in defense cuts, notes that "military expenditure has increased by nearly 120 percent" since 2001.

In a 2010 Cato Institute paper, Benjamin Friedman and Christopher Preble calculate that a narrower understanding of national defense—one that does not require the U.S. to police the world—would allow savings of at least $1.2 trillion over 10 years. "We spend too much because we choose too little," they write. "The United States needs a defense budget worthy of its name, one that protects Americans rather than wasting vast sums embroiling us in controversies remote from our interests."

Although House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) do not go nearly that far, they do at least agree that military spending should not be immune from cuts. Even that is too much for House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon (R-Calif.), who insists "we need the defense budget close to where it is"—especially the part that pays defense contractors in his district.

Despite her avowed concern about "runaway spending," Hartzler likewise is keen to protect the defense dollars that benefit her constituents. "I will be a staunch defender of military installations in my district and across the country," she told the Times. Apparently defense spending is so holy that it makes pork kosher.

Jacob Sullum is a senior editor at Reason and a nationally syndicated columnist.

© Copyright 2011 by Creators Syndicate Inc.

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  • Suki||

    Good moaning reason!

  • Rich||

    Nice, Suki.

  • ||

    Ah I love it when both parties can be clearly shown to be a bunch of assholes.

  • some guy||

    You must wake up and go to sleep happy every day!

  • Suki||

    heller never sleeps.

  • ||

    I have this condition called Being a Grad Student.

  • ObamaCare||

    Don't worry, buddy, I gotcha covered.

  • Realist||

    +5

  • Alan Vanneman||

    "Apparently defense spending is so holy that it makes pork kosher."

    Ba-da-bing, Jake! Give that man a soofganiyot! (A doughnut. I had to look it up.)

  • ||

    A jelly doughnut.

  • ||

    Ein Berliner.

  • ||

    I am a Jelly doughnut!

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Oh how I wish JFK had given that speech in Frankfurt.

  • ||

    I generally feel pretty apathetic about politics. But nothing makes me fell more apathetic than talk of reducing military spending. It just aint gonna happen people. Weapons is what America does. It's like proposing the French stop baking.

    I had an interesting conversation on this just last week. Spoke to someone who is on a temp job while he finishes his PhD in aerospace.

    "Aerospace?" I said. "Like space exploration? Might not be a great industry right now."

    "No", he assures me. "Aeronautics. Helicopters. We'll always have funding. Because we kill people."

    He said it in a half funny way, but you know, he wasn't all joking. They really will always have funding. America really is always in the market for better ways to kill people. Somehow, we'll find the money.

    Articles like this are nice, and it's sweet how Ms. Hartzler thinks she can do something, but let's not lose sight of what America is really about now.

  • Suki||

    Just look at Egypt. Even the MSM was advertising "Made in USA" in every story.

  • Heinrick||

    Did you read the article?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Remember the George Carlin bit? "We can't build a TV worth a fuck, but we can bomb the shit out of you. Especially if you have a lot of brown people."

  • QuietDesperation||

    Yeah, well, Carlin was great, but they couldn't all be gems.

  • JohnD||

    So you woud rather spend a trillion plus on a phony stimulus bill and several trillion on a unwanted ObamaCare bill?

    You are a freaking a_hole

  • False dichotomy||

  • JoshINHB||

    It doesn't have to be one or the other you know.

  • Fist of Etiquette||

    You know who else had his military budget slashed, leading to the use of MEFO bills and an even worse deficit?

  • Jaime Toun||

    Louis Farrakhan?

  • DJF||

    The first thing that needs to be cut when cutting the defense budget is the ever expanding commitments to defend other countries. It could be argued that even today’s huge budget is not big enough to actually cover the worldwide defense commitments that our politicians have signed the US up for.

    Once you cut commitments then its much easier to cut the US defense budget since much of the defense budget is about defending other countries.

    But instead our politicians travel the world giving out defense commitments to almost anyone they meet. For example I personally don’t think that the US should give a guarantee to Albania that the US would go to war, even nuclear war to defend it, but in 2009 the US did. Especially since the politicians who gave that guarantee will not be the ones fighting for Albania.

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    Precisely, it's that type of disingenuous faggotry that really undercuts the whole "cut spending" mantra so popular today.

    Let no oxen go ungored!

  • Mark||

    No worries dude, the Chinese are paying for it anyway!

  • ||

    What drives me nuts about all budget-cutting arguments is that we are only presented with the pros and cons of cutting the end-user service: reduce number of police on street, bigger class sizes for the kids, reduce SS payments to seniors, reduce # of active Army soldiers - but never the gigantic useless make-work bureaucracy behind the visible end-user service. I don't disagree with downsizing military and doing as Cato proposed. However, _even if_ we didn't defund a single piece of military hardware, a single base, a single service member, there are still stadium-size buildings full of unnecessary defense department employees spending their entire working days playing World of Warcraft, updating facebook profiles, posting on fine publications such as this, and generally just drawing a government paycheck because their cousin got them them in.

    If you haven't spent any time in an office of government employees recently, it's hard to understand the uselessness of most federal and state paid positions. It's not the fault of those working there, they are taking self-interest advantage of job with solid compensation and no bottom line or accountability or purpose of any kind. It's what humans do when they know the outcome doesn't matter.

    I would bet that at least 25 cents of every military dollar is going to pay for Defense dept. positions that could disappear tomorrow and no soldier or officer would ever notice the difference.

    The proportion of waste to "useful" services is even worse, of course when you look at other departments, but what is the deal with our blindness to worthless employees? Those positions cost a lot of money.

  • ||

    With the colossal amounts that are spent for the army, the corruption and inefficiencies must be big. If the budget was cut in half the army would be just as deadly and powerful, the politicians just want to have easy money flowing into their voting districts.

  • steve||

    Inefficiencies in the form of a pantload of excess capacity that we don't necessarily need. Being in the AF, I'd say we are pretty efficient with what we've been given. Problem is we are given way too much sometimes, like C-17s that the pentagon told congress we didn't need but they bought anyway. Or new aircraft are brought on line and the old ones are not retired, granted sometimes that's to keep the capability, but often its to keep money going to certain districts via the guard and reserve. We also are trying to do too much sometimes (air, sea, land, space, cyber, etc). Having all the newest toys in all these areas is what really drives the bill skyward and god forbid we ever accept 2nd place in any of them.
    I generally agree we need to cut a sizable chunk of the defense budget, but this article was a bit simplistic about it all particularly the parts about Japan, Korea and Europe. For one thing, the war in Korea never ended. For another, our presence in other countries isn't always about defending them (although I'd like to see his analysis that says they are "perfectly capable" of defending themselves), but to maintain logistical bases for ongoing/future ops or to uphold our end of treaties/alliances.

  • DJF||

    “””but to maintain logistical bases for ongoing/future ops or to uphold our end of treaties/alliances.”””’

    Which is why we need to terminate these treaties and alliances with countries which don’t bother to spend enough money on their own defense. Japan spends less then 1% GDP on defense, Europe less then 2%, even South Korea only spends 2% GDP, yet the US spends over 4% GDP on defense. If these other countries don’t think the threat is enough to spend the money on their own defense then why should the US taxpayers spend their money on it

  • steve||

    No argument here

  • .||

    Pork and waste are inevitable, but at least the military is a legitimate function of government. I'm more concerned with the general reluctance to cut or eliminate all the illegitimate functions of government that we as a nation have burdened ourselves with.

  • Suki||

    +1

  • MNG||

    What makes it a legitimate function of government, that it is in the Constitution? By that logic would you support an equivalent budget for the Post Office? We could have a post office budget which is larger than all the post offices budgets in the world combined!

  • Johnny Longtorso||

    What makes it a legitimate function of government, that it is in the Constitution? By that logic would you support an equivalent budget for the Post Office?

    That logic would allow a budget for the Post Office. Mail won't deliver itself to the wrong address, you know. Those semi-literate govt drones need to be paid.

  • JohnD||

    I know that the Post Office is an easy target. But if you look at the amount of mail they handle, they do a pretty credible job. Wold you rather pay Fex Ex 8 bucks to deliver a letter?

    Libratarians are really stupid. You people are so anti government that if you were in power, the country would grind to a halt.

    I thought Tony and MNG were the main idiots, but apparently the problem affects the majority of Libs.

  • ||

    Wold you rather pay Fex Ex 8 bucks to deliver a letter?

    If it meant the end of junk mail, yes.

  • Mark||

    Define "pretty credible."

    Critical thinking exercise:

    What would a First Class stamp cost if the USPS was actually making money (or at least breaking even)?

    What would a First Class stamp cost if FedEx had management control of the USPS's assets and processes?

  • QuietDesperation||

    Wold you rather pay Fex Ex 8 bucks to deliver a letter?

    Nah, I use this newfangled "electronic mail" that can send messages to another person's electromagneto address thing.

  • WTF||

    If Fedex and UPS were allowed to handle standard first class mail, it would probably cost about $0.25 to send a letter.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Really? Is your life run by the government JohnD? If the state were to "grind to a halt" I suppose you just wouldn't know what to do with yourself.

  • A.R.||

    What makes it a legitimate function of government, that it is in the Constitution?

    "The only proper purpose of a government is to protect man’s rights, which means: to protect him from physical violence. A proper government is only a policeman, acting as an agent of man’s self-defense, and, as such, may resort to force only against those who start the use of force. The only proper functions of a government are: the police, to protect you from criminals; the army, to protect you from foreign invaders; and the courts, to protect your property and contracts from breach or fraud by others, to settle disputes by rational rules, according to objective law."

  • MNG||

    What a load of bunk. It's ok to compel your neighbors to provide for your physical security but not for anything else.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Take it up with John Locke.

  • ||

    Who said anything about compelling neighbors? You do know that at least half of all libertarians are voluntaryists right?

    In my opinion the only thing necessary for a function of government to be legitimate is that everyone who is paying for it has chosen of their own free will to pay for it.

  • ||

    Like a frat boy with a full bubble pack of roofies, the concept of consent is beyond the leftist's grasp.

  • DJF||

    “”””Pork and waste are inevitable, but at least the military is a legitimate function of government””

    No, the military itself is not a function, it’s a method, a legitimate function of government is defense of its citizens and territory which is why we have a military. And since much of the US military is assigned the job of defending other countries and citizens then much of the US military is not operating in method to carry out its legitimate role, so it can be cut.

    It’s the legitimate role of the other countries to fund their militaries to defend their own citizens and territory and if they chose not to do so then that is their problem.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    It also bears mentioning that our "defensive" military has been fighting nothing but offensive wars for the last six decades.

  • Montani Semper Liberi||

    I know how we can save some money. Get rid of the fucking DHS. I wonder how much money they wasted taking down atdhe.net, channelsurfing.net, and some other streaming sites last night that were back up at new addresses within a matter of hours. Do they really think they can win that battle? They are nearly infinite domain names these sites can move to. DHS can't seize all of them, but I'm sure that won't stop the government from pissing money away.

  • ||

    Posts like this will only lower the Threat Level™ to yellow chartreuse.

  • ||

    Do they really think they can win that battle? They are nearly infinite domain names these sites can move to.

    Yesterday's morning links says differently. The internet is running out of addresses!!!11!

  • MNG||

    "For Hartzler and too many of her fellow Republicans, it's never time to talk about defense cuts."

    In fairness the Dems have not been very good on cutting defense either. Like many issues they have combatted being called "soft" on this issue by voting for hefty military and veterans affairs budgets.

    Iirc the defense budget is the largest part of the budget once you take the entitlements out (and both parties tend to take them out when discussing cuts). To not target that markes one as unserious about "cutting spending" imo.

    Cutting defense spending might make us have a more humble foriegn policy, which might further make a large military less necessary. It's interesting that many conservatives who otherwise revere the Founding generation seem to ignore the strong sentiment against large standing armies they had back then...

  • Sovereign Immunity||

    Until the War of 1812.

  • DJF||

    Actually during the War of 1812 it was mostly State Militia’s that did the fighting, and after the war the standing US army was very small, around 6,000 in 1820‘s.

  • ||

    If we would just cut foreign aid, and the national endowment for the arts the budget would be balanced in a couple of years.

    ...and that guy studying fruit flies, he's a big chunk of the deficit!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    You really haven't looked at the figures, have you?

  • ||

    The only cut that is absolutely necessary to any plan to balance the budget is capping Medicare spending growth. Past that, there are plenty of places to cut besides defense, not that I would want to spare defense.

  • Rich||

    "We spend too much because we choose too little."

    This^. If we chose to call it the "Department of Empire-Maintenance Weaponeering" or something, we'd probably spend less on "Defense". But we're the Wealthiest Nation on Earth™, so we don't really have to make tough choices.

    Say, what *are* our national interests these days, anyway?

  • ???||

    Navy yes, but where in the Constitution does it permit a standing army?

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Our Army is funded only for two years. It's the game they play. Every two years, Congress has to approve a new defense budget to keep decide whether to continue funding the army and how much.

  • ||

    Even the most rabid "argh we're at war!" people should be willing to look at the defense budget. If the country were truly in an existential struggle as those people claim, then it would be more important to be very very sure that all resources are being used in the optimum way. The resources available are not unlimited and their use must be prioritized. Do we really need a sprawling military complex in Bumfuckistan? The question should at least be asked.

  • JohnD||

    I have to agree. We no longer need to maintain bases in Europe. Let those arrogant bastards provide for their own defense. The main reason we were there for so long was to counter Soviet aggresion.

    Put those solders on the US border to stop the illegal alien invasion.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    What's wrong John, did they took yer jerb?

  • Congress||

    Do we really need a sprawling military complex in Bumfuckistan?

    You know, you're right.

    We'll make it a high-rise.

  • Gregory Smith||

    "cutting defense spending might make us have a more humble foriegn policy, which might further make a large military less necessary. I"

    ---Well, we already have Obama apologizing for America, yet now you want America to be humble? What's wrong with being number 1?

    Now I'll support cutting politically correct BS in the military like developing green fuels that cost about $500 a gallon, but when it comes to bombs, guns, and all the necessary things to kick some ass, I support it.

    And if we did brings our troops home, I say put them on the border so we can stop the illegal alien invasion before we all become like California.

  • MNG||

    I don't mind our President apologizing for US actions that were wrong. We've had our fingers in a lot of other people's pies and at times did things that were wrong. A strong man can admit where he was wrong, indeed it raises his esteem in the minds of many. It's regimes like N. Korea and Iran which will admit to no wrong and claim infallibility.

  • Bingo||

    No, we're #1! USA USA USA! It's just a another fucking team sport to these morons. We're the New York Yankees of the world's militaries and we need to spend money so we can stay number one. Only the sport is supported by government-sanctioned theft and its goal is to kill people.

  • JohnD||

    When are you going to apologize for being wrong 90% of the time?

  • Gregory Smith||

    And what did we do wrong? Liberating Iraqis and Afghans from horrible dictatorships is wrong? Defending ourselves from terrorism is wrong? Supporting the only democracy in the middle eat is wrong?

    We are not like North Korea and Iran, in fact, the people countries we liberated were like North Korea and Iran.

    So please, can we stop being such self-hating Americans?

  • ||

    Propping up a lot of other dictatorships who protect our national and corporate "interests" is wrong. Lest we forget, we propped up and funded Saddam Hussein in the 70s and 80s. We funded the Taliban and thus al Qaeda and at one point considered Osama an ally. Were the Muslim Brotherhood to seize power in Egypt, guess who armed and funded the military they would now control? Have you ever thought perhaps our entangling alliances and dispersement of nuclear and other weaponry makes America far less safe and being the dominant superpower whose adventurism kills hundreds to thousands of civilians a year for many paints a target on our back that is relatively easy to hit?

  • Esteban||

    We never supported the Taliban. The Taliban were kids learning fundamentalism in Saudi-funded madrassas in Pakistan during our support of the Mujahadeen in the 80s. Once the Soviet Union disappeared, we stopped caring about Afghanistan, a civil war developed and the Taliban eventually won.

    The More You Know.

  • Esteban||

    Another thing: While I think it's possible that having so many alliances may make us less safe, how many wars/invasions have we been dragged into (that we didn't initiate)?

  • Esteban||

    Oh and we've never funded Al-Qaeda, and the role that the Arab volunteers in Afghanistan played in fighting the Soviets was negligible. Bin laden played it up to gain credibility and to create a legend around himself, but he was lucky he made it out alive. Enough with the bullshit that we supported Al-Qaeda.

    For more info see Ghost Wars by Steve Coll and The Looming Tower by Lawrence Wright.

  • Mark||

    Um, the reason the Egyptian people are demonstrating to throw Mubarek out is because they no longer believe Egypt is a democracy...

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    And what did we do wrong?

    What's this "we" stuff? Man I hate how statists talk.

    Liberating Iraqis and Afghans from horrible dictatorships is wrong?

    There was no dictatorship in Afghanistan. Iraq is worse off now that it's been "liberated" than it was before the US Government ever began its attacks and embargoes (that was back in 1991 if you recall).

    Defending ourselves from terrorism is wrong?

    Our government's current military disasters in the Middle East will only serve to create more terrorists than ever before. And there were terrorists in Iraq only after "we" invaded. How does this count as "defending"?

    Supporting the only democracy in the middle eat (sic) is wrong?

    Feel free to support Israel with your own money if you like. You do not have the right to do it with mine. Also I question your calling them a democracy when most of the people that suffer under their government are not allowed to vote in its elections.

    We are not like North Korea and Iran

    You're right, neither of those two nations have started a war in over sixty years. How many have "we" had in that time?

    So please, can we stop being such self-hating Americans?

    Why do you insist on conflating the U.S. Federal Government with America. Are the two the same in your mind? I hate one, not the other.

    "Self-hating American"; gods what an idiotic phrase. You confuse the state with the individual!

  • JoshINHB||

    MNG|2.2.11 @ 8:44AM|#
    I don't mind our President apologizing for US actions that were wrong. We've had our fingers in a lot of other people's pies and at times did things that were wrong. A strong man can admit where he was wrong, indeed it raises his esteem in the minds of many.

    LOL

    Try that shit in the hood and see how long you last.

    And yes international relations are more like exercise time in a prison yard than a faculty tea.

  • ||

    necessary things to kick some ass

    Really, you're for real? You have to be a spoof.

    Really?

    Gregory Smith's thought bubble: *Jeeze, I don't know if these people know how much of an idiot I am. Well, I better post something just to let everybody know.*

  • ||

    GREEEEGGGGGGGGOOOOOOOOOO! Conservative numero uno! USA, USA, USA!

  • Gregory Smith||

    Heller, #1 PROGRESSIVE, PALESTINE, PALESTINE, PALESTINE!

    See? That's what happens when make stupid generalizations based on one comment.

  • ||

    Oh I'm pretty sure it's not based on only one of your posts.

  • Bingo||

    Wow, the comments in here. I can't believe how many people that self-identify as libertarians believe that government spending enormous money on things to kill people is a-okay in their book.

    Go back to the Republican Party, dipshits.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    I see nothing inconsistent with libertarian ideology in believing in the necessity of being prepared with a robust defense.

    I have shotguns, rifles and pistols, and plenty of ammunition for all, so that I am prepared to defend my home, my family and myself.

    We have a strong Army, Navy, Air Force and Marines - ostensibly to be prepared to defend our country.

    The problem is not so much funding military personnel and hardware, but how that ostensibly defensive force has had its mission re-defined by politicians - nation-building, preemption and such.

  • Bingo||

    What is "robust"? We've already seen neocons define robust as the ability to wage multiple battles on multiple continents in the name of "defense".

    The problem is our army is too damn big and a lot of people are apologetics for having a ridiculously large army by conjuring up the idiotic concept of American Exceptionalism in order to justify it.

    By the way, it's not at all similar to the situation you described where you have a large gun collection for defense. You put the money toward the weapons you feel necessary. You aren't forcing me to pay for those weapons.

  • MNG||

    "I see nothing inconsistent with libertarian ideology in believing in the necessity of being prepared with a robust defense.

    I have shotguns, rifles and pistols, and plenty of ammunition for all, so that I am prepared to defend my home, my family and myself."

    Fine, but don't make me pay for it. You want a bunch of guns for your defense? Fine, pay for it, and I'll pay for an amount I think sufficient for my defense. Ditto if you want a military that spends more than the rest of the world combined does, you pay for that amount. I want one about 1/50th the size, I'll pay my share of that.

    You don't want to pay my health care, I don't want to pay for your security.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    You both apparently missed my last sentence - the one in which I wrote:

    The problem is not so much funding military personnel and hardware, but how that ostensibly defensive force has had its mission re-defined by politicians - nation-building, preemption and such.

    You don't want to pay for the military to defend the country in which you live? Move to Costa Rica - they disbanded their military in 1941. I must admit, I'm not entirely clear on how they've managed to not be invaded and overrun by Nicaragua or one of the other tinpot dictatorships down there.

  • Gregory Smith||

    I'll tell you how, they have an agreement with the USA to protect them. So if Nicaragua ever decides to invade Costa Rica it will be our men who die defending those stupid pacifists.

  • Brett L||

    Have you seen the women in CR? I'll join a Lincoln Brigade tomorrow if that happens.

  • Esteban||

    I'm right with you, along with the defense of Argentinian, Brazilian, and Colombian women.

  • ||

    Yes, because the list of countries that have threatened to invade Costa Rica is so long, isn't it.

    Fact is, the country that did the most invadin' in Latin America in the last century or so is the good ol' USA.

    And Greg wonders why some countries in the region talk about forming a mutual defense pact to protect themselves from the Yanquis.

  • WTF||

    Fine, but don't make me pay for it. You want a bunch of guns for your defense? Fine, pay for it, and I'll pay for an amount I think sufficient for my defense. Ditto if you want a military that spends more than the rest of the world combined does, you pay for that amount. I want one about 1/50th the size, I'll pay my share of that.


    Odd that you can't apply this reasoning to health insurance, or any other government entitlement program.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I concur. I shouldn't have to pay some idiot's health care. Pay for your own. TANSTAAFL!

  • JohnD||

    Kiss ass, you pansy

  • JohnD||

    That was meant for Bingo

  • Bingo||

    Is this your argument, an ad hom?

    I don't think that taking trillions from an economically depressed American public to fight wars of questionable value against third world peoples is a cause to be proud of. This makes me a pansy, standing up for how the money that is taken from me is used?

    Guess what moron, if you're so goddamn tough then go put your own life and money on the line.

  • Tim||

    Everybody loves the founders, except for that business about not keeping large standing armies and relying on citizen soldiers.

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    The concern was with a standing army not answerable to the citizenry. Hence the constitutional provisions that Congress (i.e., the representatives of the people) get to fund - or not fund - the military.

  • Tim||

    I am in complete agreement with you.

  • ||

    There was also the issue that, at the time, the European Governments all maintained standing armies and were constantly at war with each other or variuos factions. The prohibition against standing armies was an answer to prevent the new Federal Government from starting offensive (pre-emptive?) wars, with the thought that in times of need, the average citizen would turn out to fight.

  • Gregory Smith||

    What's the alternative, Tim? Drafting people everytime we have a war? Give me a break, the military is a great career for those who want to be there, let them join, get a college education at our expense, and FIGHT when the times come.

    Don't want to die for your country? Don't join the military. Simple as that.

  • Tim||

    You misapprehend me. I'm making the point about a miltary that defends America, not one that occupies half the globe.
    I don't want to die, nor do I want my son to die for Iraqi freedom, Afghani reconstruction, Korean peacekeeping or Whatever the hell it is we are still doing in Germany.

  • Gregory Smith||

    Very well, I understand your point, although I disagree. Remember that song "From the halls of Monctezuma to the shores of Tripoli." Our military has been involved in foreign military operations since the time of the founders. We're not Switzerland, we're America. We like spreading freedom and liberating inferior nations. It's who we are!

  • Barely Suppressed Rage||

    Were they "spreading freedom and liberating inferior nations" in Montezuma or Tripoli?

    Yes, we've fought overseas, but under what conditions and why?

    Oh, and "inferior nations"??? WTF is that bullshit?

  • Gregory Smith||

    There are superior and inferior nations, that's why America is an immigrant magnet while other countries not so much.

    For example, Venezuela was inferior before Chavez took over. In Venezuela the roads are crap, electricity is spotty, you run out of water, even if you're rich your quality of life won't be as good.

  • Brett L||

    In fairness, there were about 5 marines at Tripoli, along with a bunch of local "contractors" attempting to put the Pasha's half-brother on the throne. It was one of those classic Anglo missions in the style of TE Lawrence where you grab a bunch of locals, give them a couple crazy white guys, arm them and send them out to wreak havoc on your enemy.

  • Mark||

    The "Halls of Montezuma" refers to the Battle of Chapultepec fought during the Mexican-American War in direct support of the defense of Texas, a US Territory.

    The "Shores of Tripoli" refers to the Battle of Derne wherein US Marines defeated a mercenary army protecting the Marine's actual target, the pirates who were preying on US- (and other) flagged ships on the open seas. This is clearly another action in direct defense of US interests.

    How do these examples equate to Viet Nam, Iraq or our continued military deployments in Europe, Japan and Korea?

  • Gregory Smith||

    My point is Americans love to fight in foreign lands. Even our songs speak of our foreign engagements. Seriously dude, you need to drop the flower power hippie crap.

  • omg||

    Ladies and Gentlemen, I'd like you to meet today's Republican party.

  • Mark||

    Um, srsly dude, I'm a 20-year USAF veteran, and I'm now going bald, so the I'm well past the age of engaging in any "hippie" crap. Making assumptions about someone's politics makes it easy to ignore the point being debated.

    Your reasoning about America's "love" of fighting in foreign lands was (and is) illogical.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    It wasn't even reasoning at all.

  • ||

    Being in the Air Force make you a hippie.

    Go Army!

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    I might point out that President Polk goaded Mexico into attacking by placing US troops in territory disputed between Mexico and Texas, the latter of which was then annexed despite the Mexicans warning of war if we did so.

    So: hardly a defensive action.

  • Doktor Kapitalism||

    Correction: had already been annexed.

  • Bingo||

    The military is a government jobs program for white people.

  • JohnD||

    If you had ever been in the military, you would know it is full of blacks and hispanics. I doubt that white people make up 50 percent of the military. Anyone have any data?

  • Bingo||

    You're neglecting the rather significant portion of the economy known as the "military industrial" sector that benefits from Uncle Sam throwing billions at them to pay for equipment. That's where the jobs program is. Dumping munitions that cost millions of dollars to manufacture on tents in the middle of the fucking desert is a perfect example of the Broken Windows Fallacy.

  • ||

    Actually, the percentage of Blacks and Hispanics in the military is only slightly higher than their percentage in the population at large.

    It is true that they have higher numbers in the enlisted ranks and lower in the officer corps and further they are overrepresented in some kinds of units over others.

    Another myth about the military is that it draws recruits from por and disadvantaged segments of society. Actually the opposite is true. Even among blacks the majority come from families at or better than the median income.

    For a group that is overrepresented see Indians and Alaska natives who join the military at a rate that is nearly three times higher than their proportion to the population at large.

  • zoltan||

    For a group that is overrepresented see Indians and Alaska natives who join the military at a rate that is nearly three times higher than their proportion to the population at large.

    It's one of the few places white leftists aren't fawning over their lost heritage.

  • ||

    The Army is disproportionately white and male.

    Especially since 9/11.

    The Army is just slightly under-represented in Blacks and more significantly under in hispanics.

    Of course we're very under in females. Interesting to note, the Army female pop is significantly over represented in blacks.

  • ||

    The Founders envisioned a Nation where all Citizens would participate in a Militia that would be ready to stand in defense of the Nation. They were not against a professional Corps of military leaders and specialized functions (artillery in their day; cyberwar in ours) who would be able to lead the Militia in that effort.

    A large standing Military only gives the Foreign Corps and Politicians a means to meddle in the affairs of others and create ill will in other parts of the world.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Which, oddly enough, is precisely what it has done.

  • ||

    Here's a thought, you would have no trouble whatsoever assembling a multitude of volunteers in few days for any just or justifiable war - which would be any war in actual defense of the country. And by actual country I mean the actual country and not some little chunk of a foreign nation 10,000 miles away that our leaders have designated as part of the "homeland".

  • ||

    There are plenty, plenty - I dare say nearly all Americans - of people who would be willing to die "for their country" if by that you mean in defense of their homes and families. If you mean by "die for their country", people willing to throw away their lives in places like Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan, well no, you won't find a lot of people stupid enough to willingly do that. Dying because your government tells you to is not nearly the same as dying for your country by any rational standard.

  • JohnD||

    So you are opposed to the US sending troops to Europe and the pacific during WW2?

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Pearl Harbor was an attack on our 'actual country'.

  • Esteban||

    But we were giving tons of money to Britain and the USSR.

  • Esteban||

    *before Pearl Harbor.

  • Gregory Smith||

    You think you can train an army in a few days? Militia members train at least once a month. Basic training lasts 6 to 12 weeks, depending where you get it. After training there's additional training unless you're going into infantry. So yes, we need a powerful military, prepared and ready for war.

  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    Considering we haven't been in a war for over 60 years, I think we could probably manage a draft 'everytime we have a war'. Not to mention the likelihood of people volunteering to help stop an actual threat to the country.

  • Gregory Smith||

    So you support a draft? Something that not even conservatives support today?

    A draft is fascist! We don't need hippies and progressive peaceniks in our military, we need men and women who want to be there.

    There's no such thing as collective sacrifice, or collective duty. Frankly, I don't know why people accuse me of not being a libertarian when I view the individual as King and people like Obama as overpaid public servants.

  • ||

    Individuals are king, as long as they don't happen to be third world citizens trapped in our military's crossfire, right?

    Moreover, if you support blank checks for any segment of government (even a valid function of government like the military), you're not a libertarian.

  • Gregory Smith||

    I don't support a blank check, I never said I supported a blank check, why do you make stuff up?

    As for third world citizens, well, I'm not a citizen of the world so don't expect me to care about them.

    Should America not have used the atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Should a million of our soldiers die to save a bunch of Jap civilians? Civilians who were loyal to our enemy Hiro Hito and his imperial forces?

    War is nasty, both Iraq and Afghanistan could have avoided if the had done what we said, they didn't so they deserve what they got.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Hey Greg, *sniff*, man you stink!

  • replevin||

    The last sentence was the most clever I've read in a long time.

  • Mark||

    +1

  • ||

    The Defense budget is not sacrosanct. Spending billions of US dollars to maintain a presence in other countries that will not drop any more dimes on their own defense; yet subsidize their industrial base so as to make exported goods to the US more profitable has always mystified me.

    If we are to maintain a presence in Asia and Europe, it should be proportional to US territorial defense interest in that area, not to defend another nation against attack from without. The operations of forward bases should be funded to maintain the ability to support operations in defense of US territory only. Expansion of that particular scope should not take place unless the host nation is willing to provide additional funds; either currency or forces (along with support) to expand that scope.

    The defense planners at the Pentagon must be informed by the People (unfortunatley that means Congress) that future funding will be predicated on a defense of US Territory only; the State Department tasked with developing treaties based on having other Nation States begin to take responsibility for their own security or begin paying for our share of the efforts.

  • Heinrick||

    It is all sort of a moot point. At our current levels of spending we wont be able to afford this in ten or fifteen years. We will have to bring our troops home.

  • CaptainSmartass||

    Cutting defense spending is one option. Another would be to exact tribute from those countries where we already have thousands of troops. Call it a "mutual defense tax" or something. But if we're going to be the army and Navy for Europe and Japan, they should have to kick in some denarii to the pot.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Unlike so much of what the federal government does, maintaining an army and navy is explicitly authorized by the Constitution,

    Well, a navy perhaps... an army not so much....

    To raise and support Armies, but no Appropriation of Money to that Use shall be for a longer Term than two Years;

    To provide and maintain a Navy;
  • Vermont Gun Owner||

    That's why we have a new appropriations bill every two years.

  • ||

    Move to Costa Rica - they disbanded their military in 1941. I must admit, I'm not entirely clear on how they've managed to not be invaded and overrun by Nicaragua or one of the other tinpot dictatorships down there.

    I'm pretty sure there's a "mutual" defense treaty with the US.

  • Ron||

    Is the military to large in some aspects yes as in our commitments to other countries that have little purpose in the defense of America. However complaints about the ever expanding ability of the equipment, I find that to be necessary since most battles are fought on other peoples lands which is better than fighting on our own. the only problem with that is it means our men are normally outnumbered so give them the biggest guns. But then you have to use them to full effect which we are not.

  • ||

    Put those solders on the US border to stop the illegal alien invasion.

    In addition to that being a lousy idea, I'm pretty sure it would be illegal too.

    Another one of those "libertarians" who thinks making America into a militarized police state will make it more free, eh?

  • Gregory Smith||

    Why is it ok to protect the White House with the secret service yet it's "illegal" to protect our own country? Borders mean something, just like good fences keep good neighbors, protected borders keep drug dealers, traffickers, gangsters, pedophiles, and other criminals (entering the country illegal is a crime) from invading us. Ask Israel, thanks to the wall and their security checkpoints they no longer deal with suicide bombings.

    Of course, freedom for you means letting your mother be raped by a Mexican bandido that got here thanks to our unprotected border.

  • Imp of the Perverse||

    Greg, you're not a libertarian. You're a right-wing conservative. You don't believe in, or understand, the concept of a free market. You support the warfare side of the warfare-welfare state and the massive redistribution of wealth that it requires. You are not a libertarian. Stop lying to yourself. Read some Mises, Bastiat, or Rothbard and you will see. You are a statist through and through; it is quite plain from you writings. Why don't you just end the charade?

  • ||

    The Secret Service is a civilian law enforcement agency, as is the Border Patrol, which is the agency already charged with the law enforcement aspects of border security. There's this thing called the Posse Commitatus Act that made using the military for civilian law enforcement illegal.

    Not that that's stopped this overreaching government from doing it.

    I'm surprised a neoconfederate like you doesn't know about the Posse Commitatus Act. it was passed because southerners were tired of the Federal occupation.

    Yep, the beaners is comin' to fuck all our white women. Worser than them darkies who didn't appreciate the good thing they had being slaves. Jesus Christ.

    Why don't you move to France or Italy where the police have the power to check peoples papers at random and everyone has to register with the local police.

    With all that intrusive power, they don't have any illegal immigration problems, do they?

    Yep, let's destroy freedom so we can save it.

  • ||

    It's also interesting that you have so much sympathy for the illegal jewish immigrants that took over Palestine from its rightful owners.

    To bad the Arabs hadn't had some decent border protection.

    Yes, I'm jerking your chain. And I won't reply to what ever drivel you come up with. The novelty amusement factor of your ignorance has worn off.

  • Gregory Smith||

    I'm sorry, Mr. Hitler, but Israel belongs to the Jews, even if you don't believe in the bible, you do believe in archeology, don't you? The Jews were there first, besides "Palestine" never existed as a country, before 1948 the average "Palestinean" saw himself as a Jordanian. After 1948 it was Jordan who conquered what is now known as the occupied territories.

    So go back to your David Duke website, maybe you can find a better argument.

  • ||

    I was all for sending the Jews to Israel. That's the place for them so they won't be living here.

    I only had to come up with the other plan because they wouldn't go there fast enough.

  • ||

    Sorry, but it's not at all clear to me what troops on the border to "stop the illegal alien invasion" are supposed to do to accomplish this end.

    Sit there and shoot any Mexicans that try to cross, or what?

  • zoltan||

    Mexican wrestling.

  • ||

    The Pentagon is where the USG/MIC, Mafia Industrial Complex, corruption is. When the level of corruption for politicians exceeds their compensation their attention, energy and devotion is to reap the benefits of corruption and the Pentagon facilitates corruption because it is easiest done in foreign countries where access to foreign bank accounts exists and audit trails are impossible because of language barriers and secret banking laws.

  • ||

    They can get rid of the Selective Service System right now. Most draft-age males are too fat to serve anyway.

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