The United States spends a lot on defense. By a lot I mean more than China, Japan, Russia, the U.K., France, Germany, India, Saudi Arabia, and Brazil combined. These countries are not a threat to our national security. In fact, all of these countries are considered allies. Although we stand heads and shoulders above everyone else in defense spending, we continue to spend more with no end in sight. Since World War II and the Cold War, defense spending has expanded enormously. There is no Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy, Imperialist Japan, or Soviet Union to effectively challenge the United States militarily. You could bring up countries such as Iran and North Korea as examples, but it is comparing apples and oranges. Neither of those countries could effectively beat the United States in a military conflict. Global terrorism is not defeated by battleships or tanks. These units are useless in an unconventional war which is how terrorists fight. We are spending billions to fight and enemy that does not exist.
The current budget is $695.7 billion. We could cut the budget down to $500 billion and we would still be the top global spender. I constantly hear politicians (mostly Republicans) harping on cutting the fat out of Washington and stopping the government from spending irresponsibly. Instead of this budget, I hear plans to cut Planned Parenthood and NPR (National Public Radio). Both these programs are dwarfed by defense spending. The grants the federal government gives NPR only amount to 2% of their budget. That is a paltry sum compared to $695.7 billion, which is still not the end to defense spending. Take into account national security activities which would be $35.5 billion in the fiscal 2013 year. Research analyst Mattea Kramer estimates that plus additional costs, the budget comes out to $931 billion. Almost $1 trillion. This does not seem likely to end. Both Barack Obama and Mitt Romney have pledged to keep up military spending. Romney actually proposed a $2.1 trillion rise in additional spending over the span of the next ten years. This makes Obama’s measures seem libertarian in comparison. Romney is doing this due to claims that the military is weakest under Obama because “our Navy is smaller than it’s been since 1917” and that “our Air Force is smaller and older than any time since 1947.” This discounts new technologies such a drones and nuclear weapons. I mentioned before we are still the global champion of military.
A criticism of cutting military spending is that we would lose jobs and our international prestige. Let us look at the first point of jobs. The military is a great employee. Brave men and women serve in the military. It gives valuable training to these people. However, all of the money is not going to giving jobs but costly projects. An example of this is a F-22 fighter jet that costs about $350 million. I understand defense spending for the United States creates new technologies that I most likely use. The problem is making another F-22 model. The technology has been discovered already. Do we really have to churn out another fighter jet that costs us millions of dollars? Think of the jobs that could be created with that money. We could easily scrap ridiculously expensive projects such as this. It would do no harm to this country. The budget can be cut without losing a massive amount of jobs. Next is the subject of international prestige. As mentioned before, the United States could still cut $1 billion from its budget and be a top spender. We are the global economic and military superpower. We do not have to do a constant military build-up to try to keep our stop. That is what actually one of the reasons that doomed the Soviet Union. They were spending 25 percent of their GDP on military and could not sustain it. We should refocus our efforts on areas such as education and healthcare where we are lagging behind the global community.
Jack Barnett is a fourth-year student majoring in history and political science. He can be reached at JB723722@wcupa.edu.