Radically rethinking US defense spending

The United States needs to drastically reduce both its absolute level of the defense budget and the proportion of its gross domestic product allocated to defense spending.  The first step would be to withdraw our forces from both Iraq and Afghanistan and let those two countries deal with their own problems.  Iraq’s neighbor countries all have national interests in that country having a government balanced among the existing factions and would provide support to maintain a stable Iraqi government.

In Afghanistan, the puppet government backed by the US is hopelessly corrupt and there is no strategic objective apparent for the US.  It appears that the objective of US activity in Afghanistan now is to allow the current US administration to show that it is tough on terrorism and to allow the Pentagon to test advanced technologies on live targets.  Supply lines to US forces in Afghanistan are lengthy and vulnerable, and it has been documented that one tactic for protecting these supply lines has been to pay local warbands not to attack supply convoys.

The US should close its bases in Europe, South Korea, and Japan and re-assign the forces currently located there to installations in the US.  America’s defense agreements with these countries should be reworked to require these countries to take much greater responsibility for their own defense.  The development of adequate military forces in these countries would provide domestic economic stimulus.  Moving American forces back to US locations would provide a boost to the local economies where the relocated units would be stationed.

The Joint Strike Fighter should be canceled immediately.  Replacements for worn out aircraft should come from production of advanced F-15, F-16, and F-18 strike aircraft which all are in currently in production.  The F-22 Raptor and remotely operated UAV strike aircraft can complete the air strike force.

US Navy spending should be strictly limited to maintenance of the existing fleet.  US Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has stated that “As much as the U.S. Navy has shrunk since the end of the Cold War, for example, in terms of tonnage, its battle fleet is still larger than the next 13 navies combined—and 11 of those 13 navies are U.S. allies or partners.”  Nothing more need be said.

The US defense budget for 2009 was more than six times greater than that of China, the country immediately below the US in global defense spending.   There is no conceivable threat that might appear in the next twenty years that would require our massively oversized military industrial complex.  A re-allocation of the excess resources from military to domestic investments or even reduction of the federal debt is imperative.

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