When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, we were promised a “peace dividend,” a reduction in military expenditures with a commensurate cut in taxes. This never really happened.
Clinton half-heartedly tried to cut the Pentagon budget, but quickly realized the lobbyists were well entrenched, and he was up against a brick wall. When George W. started his totally unnecessary Iraq war, military spending skyrocketed again, this time off-budget so as to hide the real costs from the voting public.
The Soviet Union and Saddam Hussein are gone now; we are out of Iraq, and Afghanistan is winding down. There are few real military threats anywhere in the world, yet our 2011 military budget of $708 billion was larger than that of the next 38 countries combined. We still maintain 737 military installations in 130 countries around the world, spreading us so thin we couldn’t immediately respond with the force needed to repel a major attack.
President Eisenhower warned against the military-industrial (Congressional?) complex in his farewell address. This powerful lobby is committed to maintaining the highest possible level of military spending, irrespective of geopolitical realities.
Defending against terrorist organizations is more of an intelligence and special forces operation requiring less massive ground, naval and air forces or nuclear weapons. Isn’t it time we re-assessed our priorities and reduced this obscenely wasteful military spending?
Talk about lowering the deficit. Wow!
George B. Reed, Fort Oglethorpe