The administration recently released its 2013 budget proposal, and conservatives are correctly alarmed that it calls for unprecedented spending and continued annual deficits exceeding $1 trillion. But the same conservatives complain that the budget does not devote enough funds to overseas adventurism.
I continue to be dismayed that in spite of our economic problems, most of those who call themselves fiscal conservatives refuse to consider any reductions in military spending. Doug Bandow of the Cato Institute very aptly addresses this in his recent article for The American Conservative entitled “Attack of the Pork Hawks.” He points out that conservatives are using a tired liberal argument to defend the bloated military budget: namely, that more spending equals better results. The federal education morass is merely one example that clearly disproves this.
The facts are that the president’s budget calls for an 18% increase versus the previously planned 20% increase. This is not a cut, yet Pentagon hawks continue to issue dire warnings that this “draconian” decrease in proposed future spending will seriously threaten our national security. In truth, the majority of DOD spending goes to protect other nations, including prosperous allies like Europe and Japan and South Korea — nations that could and should take more responsibility for their own defense.
Is there any amount of money that would satisfy the hawks and the neoconservatives? Even adjusted for inflation, military spending is 17% higher now than when Obama took office. Even the worst-case scenarios of Obama’s “cuts,” adjusted for inflation, still put outlays at 2007 levels, which are 40% higher than a decade ago. Our total spending on overseas adventurism and nation-building equals more than the next 13 highest spending countries in the world combined. Even if we were to slash our military budget in half, we would still be the world’s dominant military power, by far.
In reality, the military-industrial complex that President Eisenhower warned us about has become every bit the voracious monolith he feared. It wastes as much as any other arm of government, if not more, because it knows it can depend on unlimited blank checks from a terrified Congress.
Mr. Bandow concludes that America is more secure today than at any point since before World War II, and that military outlays should be reduced accordingly. We should, Mr. Bandow argues, “stop garrisoning the globe, subsidizing rich friends, and reconstructing poor enemies. Instead, it’s about time Washington focused on defending American and its people.”
I couldn’t agree more. Wasting money on overseas adventurism and nation-building threatens our national security by massively contributing to our debt. Both welfare and warfare spending are tipping our economy into a serious currency and debt crisis. We can afford no sacred cows in our budget. One only has to look to the violence and civil unrest in Greece and ask: Is that the sort of security we envision for our nation’s future?