Does America need to defend everybody?

Frank Sonnek, frequent commenter on this blog, has found some interesting data and raises some interesting questions about our defense budget:

our military spending exceeds ALL global military spending if you don’t count china, which spends about 15% of what we spend.

some analyses relate military spending to GDP, but I am not sure what the relevance of doing that is, as opposed to absolute spending.

let’s say we cut our military spending to be maybe 1/2 of the next top military spenders combined…. would those nations not work to defend peace and commerce? are we unfairly subsidizing the peace rather than having other nations chip in their fair share of spending?

http://www.economist.com/blogs/democracyinamerica/2010/10/military_spending

and now look at this chart:

http://www.globalsecurity.org/military/world/spending.htm

and this one… the pie chart is sort of eye-popping. the usa represents nearly half of ALL global military spending according to the pie chart.

http://www.globalissues.org/article/75/world-military-spending

Summary: I am really challenged to believe that significant cuts in the military will threaten world peace.
It would appear that the United States of America really is the policeman of the world and budgets accordingly.  Is it that we are enabling other countries to spend so little on defending themselves that they can afford free health care and all of those other welfare state benefits?  Does our status as leader of the free world mean that we have to have the capability of defending every other country, as well as our own?   Couldn’t we expect our technological superiority in warfare, expensive as it is, to result at some point in savings?
Granted that national defense is one of the few legitimate functions of the federal government and that it has to remain an important priority in this still-dangerous world, given our massive deficits, should our defense budget be scaled back?

About Gene Veith

Professor of Literature at Patrick Henry College, the Director of the Cranach Institute at Concordia Theological Seminary, a columnist for World Magazine and TableTalk, and the author of 18 books on different facets of Christianity & Culture.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Being strong is the best way to prevent war.

    I know some are laughing. I mean big war with big enemies.

  • http://theoldadam.wordpress.com Steve Martin

    Being strong is the best way to prevent war.

    I know some are laughing. I mean big war with big enemies.

  • Aloysius

    Yes, God has delegated the power of the sword to civil government, but I’ve come around to thinking that our nation is abusing that power in an essentially idolatrous quest, not just to be the “policeman” but also to be the “messiah” of the world. Professing Christians (alas, including me) have been reliable votes in the pursuit of this idolatry.

  • Aloysius

    Yes, God has delegated the power of the sword to civil government, but I’ve come around to thinking that our nation is abusing that power in an essentially idolatrous quest, not just to be the “policeman” but also to be the “messiah” of the world. Professing Christians (alas, including me) have been reliable votes in the pursuit of this idolatry.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    At some point, you get so big that everybody hates you – not for being wealthy, or for being “free”, but for parading your guns all over the show. Thus your military strength becomes your worst enemy…..

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    At some point, you get so big that everybody hates you – not for being wealthy, or for being “free”, but for parading your guns all over the show. Thus your military strength becomes your worst enemy…..

  • Kirk

    I think Klasie has it right. When you’ve got a hammer as powerful as our military, everything starts to look a lot like a nail and every nail looks like one we should hit. Frankly, the military has too much power in our foreign policy. It should be a means of last resort, not a tool to be used in concurrence with negotiation and influence. Scaling back the size of our forces would mean that we’d have to be smarter in our exertion of force (ie, we wouldn’t fight two wars at once) and, consequently, we’d save boat loads of money.

    @Steve,

    This is a very Cold War opinion. I think that the globalized economy and extreme interdependence will do a lot more to avert wars than nukes, jets and ships. Frankly, a major ground war type army just doesn’t seem necessary in an age of globalism. Maybe that’s naive, but I think it makes sense.

  • Kirk

    I think Klasie has it right. When you’ve got a hammer as powerful as our military, everything starts to look a lot like a nail and every nail looks like one we should hit. Frankly, the military has too much power in our foreign policy. It should be a means of last resort, not a tool to be used in concurrence with negotiation and influence. Scaling back the size of our forces would mean that we’d have to be smarter in our exertion of force (ie, we wouldn’t fight two wars at once) and, consequently, we’d save boat loads of money.

    @Steve,

    This is a very Cold War opinion. I think that the globalized economy and extreme interdependence will do a lot more to avert wars than nukes, jets and ships. Frankly, a major ground war type army just doesn’t seem necessary in an age of globalism. Maybe that’s naive, but I think it makes sense.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kirk – of course I’m right. Was there ever any other possibility? :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Kirk – of course I’m right. Was there ever any other possibility? :)

  • SKPeterson

    Technological superiority could result in cost savings, but not if that technology is viewed as an enabling factor to expand military intervention all over the globe. Then, costs escalate.

  • SKPeterson

    Technological superiority could result in cost savings, but not if that technology is viewed as an enabling factor to expand military intervention all over the globe. Then, costs escalate.

  • Michael B.

    “Is it that we are enabling other countries to spend so little on defending themselves that they can afford free health care and all of those other welfare state benefits?”

    An interesting point.

    By the way, even before Obama’s health care program, the USA still gives free health care, just not to all of our citizens. Virtually everyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare, and pregnant women and children. I’m a working man, and if lose my job, I lose my health care, regardless of how much I’ve put in the system. Whereas someone over 65 or a pregnant woman gets it for free even if she hasn’t worked a day in her life. It makes me so mad that people are upset about Obama extending health care to other groups besides pregnant women and the elderly.

  • Michael B.

    “Is it that we are enabling other countries to spend so little on defending themselves that they can afford free health care and all of those other welfare state benefits?”

    An interesting point.

    By the way, even before Obama’s health care program, the USA still gives free health care, just not to all of our citizens. Virtually everyone over 65 qualifies for Medicare, and pregnant women and children. I’m a working man, and if lose my job, I lose my health care, regardless of how much I’ve put in the system. Whereas someone over 65 or a pregnant woman gets it for free even if she hasn’t worked a day in her life. It makes me so mad that people are upset about Obama extending health care to other groups besides pregnant women and the elderly.

  • Tysen B.

    I really don’t mean to be another “fanboy” but Ron Paul has some good things to say about this issue. At first I didn’t like the idea of pulling our armed forces back, asking countries to take care of themselves, and using diplomats instead of guns…but it sounds more appealing every day. The pie chart above was surprising.

    Right now our out of control spending is our biggest enemy. My fear is that we (our politicians) are so in love with it that they don’t want to cut it to help the nation. It bears resemblance to an addiction.

  • Tysen B.

    I really don’t mean to be another “fanboy” but Ron Paul has some good things to say about this issue. At first I didn’t like the idea of pulling our armed forces back, asking countries to take care of themselves, and using diplomats instead of guns…but it sounds more appealing every day. The pie chart above was surprising.

    Right now our out of control spending is our biggest enemy. My fear is that we (our politicians) are so in love with it that they don’t want to cut it to help the nation. It bears resemblance to an addiction.

  • Cincinnatus

    Can one be against both the globalized economy Kirk@4 recognizes and lauds and a globalized military? Yes, I think so.

    Michael B.: So far, Obama hasn’t extended healthcare to a single solitary individual. In fact, he’s been responsible for advocating massive Medicare cuts (that will never happen), which would, at the very least, reduce quality of care for the elderly. Since, you know, they’re less important. But this is a red herring.

  • Cincinnatus

    Can one be against both the globalized economy Kirk@4 recognizes and lauds and a globalized military? Yes, I think so.

    Michael B.: So far, Obama hasn’t extended healthcare to a single solitary individual. In fact, he’s been responsible for advocating massive Medicare cuts (that will never happen), which would, at the very least, reduce quality of care for the elderly. Since, you know, they’re less important. But this is a red herring.

  • SKPeterson

    Right now we have over 700 military installations located outside the U.S.

    Oddly, some people think this is indicative of an empire. Others, think this is simply protecting our national interests; and, national interests = national defense – America uber alles.

  • SKPeterson

    Right now we have over 700 military installations located outside the U.S.

    Oddly, some people think this is indicative of an empire. Others, think this is simply protecting our national interests; and, national interests = national defense – America uber alles.

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    But also remember that this $$ is what is budgeted to the military. We don’t know how it is actually being spent. For example, we are all now painfully aware of the psychic spying project that the Air Force spent millions on. I suspect quite a bit of this goes into fun little projects like that…

  • http://www.redeemedrambling.blogspot.com/ John

    But also remember that this $$ is what is budgeted to the military. We don’t know how it is actually being spent. For example, we are all now painfully aware of the psychic spying project that the Air Force spent millions on. I suspect quite a bit of this goes into fun little projects like that…

  • Ken

    South Korea’s economy is 40 times larger than the North’s, and Japan has a robot that can conduct orchestras and climb stairs. Yet we’re defending these countries in the midst of an unprecedented debt crisis? By all means, let’s sell weapons to our allies, but 700+ bases in 100+ countries are probably not as necessary as we’ve been led to believe. A couple weeks ago, our military successfully tested a hypersonic bomb that can strike any target on the planet within an hour–and yet we still need to maintain hundreds of bases for reasons untold.

    The U.S. can certainly afford to trim its defense spending and maintain a competitive edge, as these graphs show. Even Robert Gates, no peacenik, admitted that “not every Defense dollar is sacred.”

  • Ken

    South Korea’s economy is 40 times larger than the North’s, and Japan has a robot that can conduct orchestras and climb stairs. Yet we’re defending these countries in the midst of an unprecedented debt crisis? By all means, let’s sell weapons to our allies, but 700+ bases in 100+ countries are probably not as necessary as we’ve been led to believe. A couple weeks ago, our military successfully tested a hypersonic bomb that can strike any target on the planet within an hour–and yet we still need to maintain hundreds of bases for reasons untold.

    The U.S. can certainly afford to trim its defense spending and maintain a competitive edge, as these graphs show. Even Robert Gates, no peacenik, admitted that “not every Defense dollar is sacred.”

  • Joe

    To be sure, there are cuts to be made in our military spending. I am not sure why we are in Germany any more. That war (both hot and cold) ended long ago. With our current fleet and air force we can fight just about be anywhere in the world in a matter of day(s). I don’t see the need for lots of overseas bases. May be a few here and there if really needed.

  • Joe

    To be sure, there are cuts to be made in our military spending. I am not sure why we are in Germany any more. That war (both hot and cold) ended long ago. With our current fleet and air force we can fight just about be anywhere in the world in a matter of day(s). I don’t see the need for lots of overseas bases. May be a few here and there if really needed.

  • kerner

    Kirk @4: you said:

    Frankly, a major ground war type army just doesn’t seem necessary in an age of globalism.

    Acording to Winston Churchill, that’s what the majority of Europeans were saying in 1905.

    I think the reason we seem to be the world’s policeman is that we (by “we” I mean the majority of Americans) think there should be one, and we (here I mean those in government) realize that no one will serve that function if our military does not.

    By this, I think that most Americans like to think of the USA as the “good guys”. We fight not for a national interest or ethnic group well being; our country was founded on ideals, not these other things, and ideals are what we fight for (at least in the minds of many of us).

    The problem is that “good guys” occasionally have to actually do “good”, that is we have to be the big, strong, “good guy” who chases the bully away from the picked upon weakling or the damsel in distress. If we don’t do that, then we seem like just another ethnic group defending (or expanding) the dirt it occupies. Americans don’t like to think of themselves that way.

    So the question is: Is wanting to be objectively a force for “good” in the world noble, or just arrogant? It’s a tougher question than it seems at first glance.

  • kerner

    Kirk @4: you said:

    Frankly, a major ground war type army just doesn’t seem necessary in an age of globalism.

    Acording to Winston Churchill, that’s what the majority of Europeans were saying in 1905.

    I think the reason we seem to be the world’s policeman is that we (by “we” I mean the majority of Americans) think there should be one, and we (here I mean those in government) realize that no one will serve that function if our military does not.

    By this, I think that most Americans like to think of the USA as the “good guys”. We fight not for a national interest or ethnic group well being; our country was founded on ideals, not these other things, and ideals are what we fight for (at least in the minds of many of us).

    The problem is that “good guys” occasionally have to actually do “good”, that is we have to be the big, strong, “good guy” who chases the bully away from the picked upon weakling or the damsel in distress. If we don’t do that, then we seem like just another ethnic group defending (or expanding) the dirt it occupies. Americans don’t like to think of themselves that way.

    So the question is: Is wanting to be objectively a force for “good” in the world noble, or just arrogant? It’s a tougher question than it seems at first glance.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Can you imagine if Russia or China had bases in 132 countries like we do, some of them near our borders? We would surely take that as a sign of hostile intent

    Hey, but Ron Paul is a nut case because he thinks we should close these bases down.

  • Patrick Kyle

    Can you imagine if Russia or China had bases in 132 countries like we do, some of them near our borders? We would surely take that as a sign of hostile intent

    Hey, but Ron Paul is a nut case because he thinks we should close these bases down.

  • Cincinnatus

    I agree with Patrick, and especially Ken@12.

  • Cincinnatus

    I agree with Patrick, and especially Ken@12.

  • Aleck

    Kerner @14 writes, “So the question is: Is wanting to be objectively a force for “good” in the world noble, or just arrogant? It’s a tougher question than it seems at first glance.”

    It sure is a tough question. It’s complicated by further questions like, “Has God really granted us authority over these other nations, or are we trying to “play God” in many cases?” and “Are we really the ‘good guys’ in all cases? Are our motives really as altruistic as our politicians claim?”

  • Aleck

    Kerner @14 writes, “So the question is: Is wanting to be objectively a force for “good” in the world noble, or just arrogant? It’s a tougher question than it seems at first glance.”

    It sure is a tough question. It’s complicated by further questions like, “Has God really granted us authority over these other nations, or are we trying to “play God” in many cases?” and “Are we really the ‘good guys’ in all cases? Are our motives really as altruistic as our politicians claim?”

  • DonS

    This chart is misleading, because it doesn’t account for vast differences between countries in the cost of providing an equivalent defense. For example, it shows China as spending only about 1/6 of what the U.S. spends on defense, but it fields a military force about 40% larger than the U.S. military, because its costs per man are a fraction of U.S. costs. An E1 private in the U.S. Army gets about $18,000 annually, plus full healthcare, food, shelter, and training, all of which costs much more to provide in the U.S. than in China, Russia, and most other second and third world countries. Plus full retirement after twenty years service, which is included in the SIPRI definition of military expenditure. Frank, this is why a percentage of GDP report is much more valid as a legitimate means of comparison. If you compare % of GDP, for example, you will see that in 2009 the U.S. spend 4.7%, Russia 4.3%, China 2.2%, the UK 2.7%, and Canada 1.5%. So, while the U.S. is certainly among the highest, it’s not so dramatically higher in terms of GDP and the overall costs of providing an equivalent defense as the above chart would have things seem.

    Are U.S. military expenditures too high? Yes, probably. In my view, western Europe is perfectly capable of providing its own defense — we were sucked into Libya to further European interests because they didn’t believe their hollowed-out military forces could handle it without our help. The U.S. needs to focus on its own military and defense objectives and to stay out of conflicts that aren’t aligned with them. Our military should not be used routinely for humanitarian missions — that is a very poor use of an expensive resource that is ill suited to the role.

  • DonS

    This chart is misleading, because it doesn’t account for vast differences between countries in the cost of providing an equivalent defense. For example, it shows China as spending only about 1/6 of what the U.S. spends on defense, but it fields a military force about 40% larger than the U.S. military, because its costs per man are a fraction of U.S. costs. An E1 private in the U.S. Army gets about $18,000 annually, plus full healthcare, food, shelter, and training, all of which costs much more to provide in the U.S. than in China, Russia, and most other second and third world countries. Plus full retirement after twenty years service, which is included in the SIPRI definition of military expenditure. Frank, this is why a percentage of GDP report is much more valid as a legitimate means of comparison. If you compare % of GDP, for example, you will see that in 2009 the U.S. spend 4.7%, Russia 4.3%, China 2.2%, the UK 2.7%, and Canada 1.5%. So, while the U.S. is certainly among the highest, it’s not so dramatically higher in terms of GDP and the overall costs of providing an equivalent defense as the above chart would have things seem.

    Are U.S. military expenditures too high? Yes, probably. In my view, western Europe is perfectly capable of providing its own defense — we were sucked into Libya to further European interests because they didn’t believe their hollowed-out military forces could handle it without our help. The U.S. needs to focus on its own military and defense objectives and to stay out of conflicts that aren’t aligned with them. Our military should not be used routinely for humanitarian missions — that is a very poor use of an expensive resource that is ill suited to the role.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    DonS,
    Right! see we can agree on some things. What is amazing to me though, seeing the numbers you throw, which ring true to me, before I even saw the comparison, is this, we seem to be getting a hell of a lot more bang for our buck then the other countries considering all that our military is doing.
    But I think FWS, has a point, lets let every country have their Rawanda….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    DonS,
    Right! see we can agree on some things. What is amazing to me though, seeing the numbers you throw, which ring true to me, before I even saw the comparison, is this, we seem to be getting a hell of a lot more bang for our buck then the other countries considering all that our military is doing.
    But I think FWS, has a point, lets let every country have their Rawanda….

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe,
    The thing about Germany is, we are there for a couple reasons yet. The government likes us hanging about, and those bases provide great conduits for supply. Sure we can be anywhere in 24 hours, but if we want to stay longer than 48 we need supply lines, basis in Germany provide this at a convenient half way point. Of course so do our bases in Britain but those are considerably smaller, as are our bases just about anywhere else in Europe. And relations with Russia may have warmed, but they aren’t all that easy. Russia is a bear, it hibernates for a season, but it tends to wake up with a hunger every now and then, like when it sees opportunity…

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe,
    The thing about Germany is, we are there for a couple reasons yet. The government likes us hanging about, and those bases provide great conduits for supply. Sure we can be anywhere in 24 hours, but if we want to stay longer than 48 we need supply lines, basis in Germany provide this at a convenient half way point. Of course so do our bases in Britain but those are considerably smaller, as are our bases just about anywhere else in Europe. And relations with Russia may have warmed, but they aren’t all that easy. Russia is a bear, it hibernates for a season, but it tends to wake up with a hunger every now and then, like when it sees opportunity…

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    All this is nice and fine, but can you afford it? Elephant, meet room.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    All this is nice and fine, but can you afford it? Elephant, meet room.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@20,

    Do tell, what sort of “bang for our buck” are we getting for our enormous defense expenditures? Desert quagmires? “Mind-control” programs? Jet-fighter boondoggles (read up on the F-35)? Social welfare for Germans et al. who don’t have to pay to defend themselves? Almost universal global ire?

    Look, national defense is important, but the choice between a multi-trillion dollar defense budget (when one includes our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan) and certain doom for our freedoms and oil is a false choice.

  • Cincinnatus

    Bror@20,

    Do tell, what sort of “bang for our buck” are we getting for our enormous defense expenditures? Desert quagmires? “Mind-control” programs? Jet-fighter boondoggles (read up on the F-35)? Social welfare for Germans et al. who don’t have to pay to defend themselves? Almost universal global ire?

    Look, national defense is important, but the choice between a multi-trillion dollar defense budget (when one includes our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan) and certain doom for our freedoms and oil is a false choice.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus – here we agree. Especially if you build that pipeline from Alberta to Texas….. otherwise, we have these friends in Beijing that might want to buy our oil……

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Cincinnatus – here we agree. Especially if you build that pipeline from Alberta to Texas….. otherwise, we have these friends in Beijing that might want to buy our oil……

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I found the table more telling for it showed us ranking second in GDP but we were 25 in percent of GDP defense spending. The amount we spend is more telling of the standard of living we have in the US, then it is on strict military spending. We have become the go to force because we can afford to be the go to force even with out going into debt so to speak (we go into debt because this isn’t the only thing we have allowed ourselves to be the go to guy for).

    I remember hearing that the Soviet leadership began to despair ever competing with us militarily because we were spending Billions upon billions on defense while still managing to spend 100′s of billions on entertainment.

    I think though we have reached a point where we need to reconsider how we are set up militarily. I think we are at a point where we like Great Britain of old we need a stronger navy than army along with a stronger air force because of the nature of conflict we are likely to be seeing for the near future, namely pirate/terrorist type conflicts.

  • Dr. Luther in the 21st Century

    I found the table more telling for it showed us ranking second in GDP but we were 25 in percent of GDP defense spending. The amount we spend is more telling of the standard of living we have in the US, then it is on strict military spending. We have become the go to force because we can afford to be the go to force even with out going into debt so to speak (we go into debt because this isn’t the only thing we have allowed ourselves to be the go to guy for).

    I remember hearing that the Soviet leadership began to despair ever competing with us militarily because we were spending Billions upon billions on defense while still managing to spend 100′s of billions on entertainment.

    I think though we have reached a point where we need to reconsider how we are set up militarily. I think we are at a point where we like Great Britain of old we need a stronger navy than army along with a stronger air force because of the nature of conflict we are likely to be seeing for the near future, namely pirate/terrorist type conflicts.

  • DonS

    Bror, it’s cool to agree with you on something :-) Actually, I think we agree a lot on things other than doctrine.

    Bror makes a good point about European bases, some of which clearly do serve U.S. interests. To summarize my points above: a) it’s expensive to field an all-volunteer military in a country having a relatively high standard of living, and b) we should accordingly limit our military’s mission to the defense of real and legitimate U.S. interests worldwide. Hint: Libya wasn’t a real and legitimate U.S. interest. Nor were Bosnia and Serbia.

    KK, as to your point @ 21, we can afford the defense we need. One of the primary functions of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. The problem with the U.S. budget is not defense spending, it is runaway domestic spending and entitlements.

  • DonS

    Bror, it’s cool to agree with you on something :-) Actually, I think we agree a lot on things other than doctrine.

    Bror makes a good point about European bases, some of which clearly do serve U.S. interests. To summarize my points above: a) it’s expensive to field an all-volunteer military in a country having a relatively high standard of living, and b) we should accordingly limit our military’s mission to the defense of real and legitimate U.S. interests worldwide. Hint: Libya wasn’t a real and legitimate U.S. interest. Nor were Bosnia and Serbia.

    KK, as to your point @ 21, we can afford the defense we need. One of the primary functions of the federal government is to provide for the common defense. The problem with the U.S. budget is not defense spending, it is runaway domestic spending and entitlements.

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, now illustrate to my how on earth does the US need ” but 700+ bases in 100+ countries ” (as per Ken). Note – not some bases. All 700+, in all 100+ countries?

    Secondly, can’t you see how this actually raises the threat level? How this swings the balance back to far?

    Of course then the question becomes, what would be a reasonable balance. Interesting question, he says, ducking out of the conversation.. :)

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    DonS, now illustrate to my how on earth does the US need ” but 700+ bases in 100+ countries ” (as per Ken). Note – not some bases. All 700+, in all 100+ countries?

    Secondly, can’t you see how this actually raises the threat level? How this swings the balance back to far?

    Of course then the question becomes, what would be a reasonable balance. Interesting question, he says, ducking out of the conversation.. :)

  • DonS

    KK @ 26, I agree with you. As I said @ 18, the U.S. probably is spending too much on defense and needs to re-evaluate its worldwide bases to ensure that it is only maintaining bases which serve a genuine defense interest of the U.S. I’m sure that a good number of those 700+ bases could be eliminated without a substantial detriment to U.S. defense interests.

  • DonS

    KK @ 26, I agree with you. As I said @ 18, the U.S. probably is spending too much on defense and needs to re-evaluate its worldwide bases to ensure that it is only maintaining bases which serve a genuine defense interest of the U.S. I’m sure that a good number of those 700+ bases could be eliminated without a substantial detriment to U.S. defense interests.

  • Joe

    Bror – If Russia is our fear we should move east into Poland. But a Russian invasion of Europe can and should be Europe’s problem. Germany managed to field some pretty impressive armies of its own over the centuries – let them do it again. NATO needs to be more than America East. I am not asking for isolationism, I am asking for countries that are more than capable of pulling their own weight to do so. There is no reason we could not use a base owned and operated by an ally as a resupply point if needed. It might add to the logistical mess of fighting overseas, but that would have the benefit of causing us to be more judicious …

    And of course the Germans want us there. If I were them, I’d want us there to. I like free things …

  • Joe

    Bror – If Russia is our fear we should move east into Poland. But a Russian invasion of Europe can and should be Europe’s problem. Germany managed to field some pretty impressive armies of its own over the centuries – let them do it again. NATO needs to be more than America East. I am not asking for isolationism, I am asking for countries that are more than capable of pulling their own weight to do so. There is no reason we could not use a base owned and operated by an ally as a resupply point if needed. It might add to the logistical mess of fighting overseas, but that would have the benefit of causing us to be more judicious …

    And of course the Germans want us there. If I were them, I’d want us there to. I like free things …

  • Kirk

    @Kerner,

    Yes, but that was based on the fallacious notion that society was progressing and that the man of the present was more virtuous than the man of the past. Globalism has dollars and cents behind it.

  • Kirk

    @Kerner,

    Yes, but that was based on the fallacious notion that society was progressing and that the man of the present was more virtuous than the man of the past. Globalism has dollars and cents behind it.

  • George

    We do spend a lot of the military, but then again, it is one of the few duties the outlined in the Constitution that the Federal Government actually has the authority to execute.

  • George

    We do spend a lot of the military, but then again, it is one of the few duties the outlined in the Constitution that the Federal Government actually has the authority to execute.

  • fws

    Don

    Even if we measure based on GDP, so what…. our GDP is still 3 times what chinas is. so even on that basis our military expenditures are 3 times theirs. and this is about the cost of salaries differential you are telling me?

    Something seems a little off…

  • fws

    Don

    Even if we measure based on GDP, so what…. our GDP is still 3 times what chinas is. so even on that basis our military expenditures are 3 times theirs. and this is about the cost of salaries differential you are telling me?

    Something seems a little off…

  • Dust

    Have always been told the reason we stayed in Europe after WWII was to make sure they didn’t start another war! Guess prior to that experience, it was the opinion (or fact!) that if the various European powers were to have their own very powerful armed forces, they could very likely use them to start another war, at least, statistically their history would seem to indicate it with a pretty high degree of certainty, eh?

    Same thing over in Asia. Weren’t there lots of wars over the years between China and Japan, Korea, the Phillipines (sp?) etc. etc.? One solution therefore again, is to not allow them to have their own large and powerful armed forces, so we stayed there to keep the peace and make sure things didn’t go ballistic, shall we say?

    Nowadays, with destructive capabilities so much, much greater than those old days, one could argue it’s even more important to keep watch over many parts of the world and in particular, those areas that have shown over history the ability to cause deadly and serious mischief towards their neighbors.

    It’s kind of simple, like a famous car repair ad….you can pay me now, or pay me later?

    In any case, am sure it can be done more cheaply, and am sure there is lots of abuse…but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

  • Dust

    Have always been told the reason we stayed in Europe after WWII was to make sure they didn’t start another war! Guess prior to that experience, it was the opinion (or fact!) that if the various European powers were to have their own very powerful armed forces, they could very likely use them to start another war, at least, statistically their history would seem to indicate it with a pretty high degree of certainty, eh?

    Same thing over in Asia. Weren’t there lots of wars over the years between China and Japan, Korea, the Phillipines (sp?) etc. etc.? One solution therefore again, is to not allow them to have their own large and powerful armed forces, so we stayed there to keep the peace and make sure things didn’t go ballistic, shall we say?

    Nowadays, with destructive capabilities so much, much greater than those old days, one could argue it’s even more important to keep watch over many parts of the world and in particular, those areas that have shown over history the ability to cause deadly and serious mischief towards their neighbors.

    It’s kind of simple, like a famous car repair ad….you can pay me now, or pay me later?

    In any case, am sure it can be done more cheaply, and am sure there is lots of abuse…but don’t throw the baby out with the bath water!

  • kerner

    Kirk:

    Maybe, but I thought when I read Churchill that it was more based on the European version of globalism: i.e. colonialism. The European powers had so situated themselves to be able to have all their raw material needs met by their colonial empires. No reason to invade one another. And the more primative world was no match militarily. All they had to do was not fight among themselves and there would be no need of large armies anymore. But we know how that worked out.

    But, I’m still pretty conflicted about the solution. When we see gross injustice in the world, and we can help, is the best policy to do nothing? Even if we know that no one else will intervene?

    And if there is a possibility of gaining some advantage for ourselves after helping out some oppressed people at the cost of a great deal of our money and some of our young people’s lives, is it so wrong to set ourselves up to recoup some of the cdost of being the “good guy”?

    Or is it really the best policy to forget all that idealistic stuff and ignore the suffering of other peoples all the time?

    Normally, I like to take a position and defend it, but on this question I really could go either way. And I agree with Cincinnatus that a choice between our freedoms and oil is a false choice.

  • kerner

    Kirk:

    Maybe, but I thought when I read Churchill that it was more based on the European version of globalism: i.e. colonialism. The European powers had so situated themselves to be able to have all their raw material needs met by their colonial empires. No reason to invade one another. And the more primative world was no match militarily. All they had to do was not fight among themselves and there would be no need of large armies anymore. But we know how that worked out.

    But, I’m still pretty conflicted about the solution. When we see gross injustice in the world, and we can help, is the best policy to do nothing? Even if we know that no one else will intervene?

    And if there is a possibility of gaining some advantage for ourselves after helping out some oppressed people at the cost of a great deal of our money and some of our young people’s lives, is it so wrong to set ourselves up to recoup some of the cdost of being the “good guy”?

    Or is it really the best policy to forget all that idealistic stuff and ignore the suffering of other peoples all the time?

    Normally, I like to take a position and defend it, but on this question I really could go either way. And I agree with Cincinnatus that a choice between our freedoms and oil is a false choice.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 31: The problem with the chart is that it compares apples to oranges. It costs far more to field, train, and equip one soldier in the U.S., especially in the context of voluntary military service, than it does in China, where per capita income and expenses are far lower, but the chart compares expenditures in constant dollars, regardless of the cost of living in each country.

    By looking at percentage of GDP, you take a lot of this differential out of the equation.

    As I noted above, China fields a military almost twice as large as the U.S. military, even though it only spends about 1/5 as much in absolute dollars. Clearly, because of lower living standards, China doesn’t need to spend as many dollars to field an equivalent force.

    Here’s the Wikipedia article breaking down the 2010 U.S. defense budget: http://en.wikipedia.orghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

    Note the breakdown:

    Military personnel: $154 billion (apx. 23%)
    Operations & maintenance: $283 billion (apx. 43%)
    Procurement: $140 billion (apx. 21%)
    R & D: $79 billion (apx. 12%)
    Construction: $24 billion (apx. 4%)
    Family Housing: $3 billion (apx. .5%)

    A lot of Operations & Maintenance were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are winding down.

  • DonS

    Frank @ 31: The problem with the chart is that it compares apples to oranges. It costs far more to field, train, and equip one soldier in the U.S., especially in the context of voluntary military service, than it does in China, where per capita income and expenses are far lower, but the chart compares expenditures in constant dollars, regardless of the cost of living in each country.

    By looking at percentage of GDP, you take a lot of this differential out of the equation.

    As I noted above, China fields a military almost twice as large as the U.S. military, even though it only spends about 1/5 as much in absolute dollars. Clearly, because of lower living standards, China doesn’t need to spend as many dollars to field an equivalent force.

    Here’s the Wikipedia article breaking down the 2010 U.S. defense budget: http://en.wikipedia.orghttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_budget_of_the_United_States

    Note the breakdown:

    Military personnel: $154 billion (apx. 23%)
    Operations & maintenance: $283 billion (apx. 43%)
    Procurement: $140 billion (apx. 21%)
    R & D: $79 billion (apx. 12%)
    Construction: $24 billion (apx. 4%)
    Family Housing: $3 billion (apx. .5%)

    A lot of Operations & Maintenance were the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are winding down.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe,
    A few years ago we were moving into Poland, but even trying to put missiles there has threatened to wake that bear up, if you recall.
    Hell, I don’t hardly even watch the news anymore, about once a week and I pick that up. Same with Georgia.

  • http://www.utah-lutheran.blogspot.com Bror Erickson

    Joe,
    A few years ago we were moving into Poland, but even trying to put missiles there has threatened to wake that bear up, if you recall.
    Hell, I don’t hardly even watch the news anymore, about once a week and I pick that up. Same with Georgia.

  • helen

    You are all ignoring what Eisenhower could see coming: we have a huge military expenditure because that enriches relatively few people right here. Most of the mony spent on “war” is in the pockets of civilians.

  • helen

    You are all ignoring what Eisenhower could see coming: we have a huge military expenditure because that enriches relatively few people right here. Most of the mony spent on “war” is in the pockets of civilians.

  • SKPeterson

    helen – you obviously hate America and are an enabler of our enemies. ;)

  • SKPeterson

    helen – you obviously hate America and are an enabler of our enemies. ;)

  • Bob

    And the military-industrial-congressional complex/machine that Ike warned us about in his farewell address 50, almost 51 years ago, rolls on…

  • Bob

    And the military-industrial-congressional complex/machine that Ike warned us about in his farewell address 50, almost 51 years ago, rolls on…

  • Dust

    Ike warned about other things too, but most people don’t want to talk about those…read the whole speech!

  • Dust

    Ike warned about other things too, but most people don’t want to talk about those…read the whole speech!

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Helen, I had forgotten about that Eisenhower speech. How prophetic.Only now, it is money borrowed by the state, on. Behalf of taxpayers, being funneled to a few private individuals/companies/lobbying firms. Does sound a bit like treason, doesn’t it?

  • Klasie Kraalogies

    Helen, I had forgotten about that Eisenhower speech. How prophetic.Only now, it is money borrowed by the state, on. Behalf of taxpayers, being funneled to a few private individuals/companies/lobbying firms. Does sound a bit like treason, doesn’t it?

  • http://www.thestandard.co.zw/2012/12/02/you-cant-win-them-all/ Takae

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