Pentagon cuts don't cut it. Want to really save money? Get a new security strategy.
Billions in Pentagon cuts touted by Gates and Obama recently don’t represent real decreases to defense spending. With troops in more than 150 of the world's 195 countries, the US needs to abandon its cold-war era deployment strategy. It's time for our wealthy allies to pull their weight.
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The $600-plus billion a year the US spends on defense is roughly what the entire rest of the world combined spends on defense – yet the entire world isn’t our enemy or a military threat. China is often cited as the next big threat on the horizon, but the US still significantly outspends the Chinese on defense. Moreover, with wealthy allies such as Japan and South Korea, why does the US alone have to shoulder the burden of the Chinese challenge (assuming China is indeed a future threat)? And why do we wring our hands in great angst over North Korea and Iran when US defense spending is larger than the gross domestic product (GDP) of either country? (In fact, it eclipses the GDP of all but about 20 of the richest countries in the world).Skip to next paragraph
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The real story behind Gates’ plan is that as long as post-cold war foreign policy remains on autopilot, we will continue to have unnecessarily large defense budgets. The reality is that our nation could spend significantly less and still be secure. America is in a favorable geostrategic position with friendly countries to the north and south and two vast oceans on our flanks. We do not need – as we did during the cold war – forward deployed military forces around the world to be secure. (Even before the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, of the more than 1 million active duty military nearly, 250,000 were deployed overseas).
Leave cold-war deployment strategies
We no longer need to contain the Soviet Union and there is no global-hegemonic, rival-superpower as its equivalent successor.
There are few direct nation-state military threats that we cannot already deter or defeat. And none have the power projection capability to threaten the US homeland. Moreover, the US strategic nuclear arsenal – even if scaled back by Mr. Obama’s proposed New START reductions – acts as a powerful deterrent against any countries armed with nuclear weapons (even the likes of North Korea and Iran, if the latter ever becomes a nuclear power).
Many of our allies can and should start financing their own security instead of taking shelter under an American umbrella. The economy of the European Union is as large or larger than the US economy, yet the US spends roughly twice what our European allies spend on defense. So why are there nearly 80,000 American troops deployed in Europe when the Europeans can more than afford to pay for their own security needs? The situation is similar in East Asia, where the US has upward of 70,000 troops deployed. Yet Japan has the third-largest economy in the world, and South Korea’s economy (13th largest in the world) eclipses North Korea’s by more than 30 to 1. So they, too, can afford to pay for their security needs.