As debt grows, so does US exposure to attack
As President Obama and Republicans duke it out over the federal debt, they must bear this fact in mind: Growing federal debt threatens the long-term national security of the United States.
On Wednesday, President Obama grabbed onto one of the most highly charged issues in American politics: deficit reduction. The president’s speech offered a sensible way forward, even if his proposal was light on specifics. Now that the cameras are off, however, the real political challenges begin. Whether pursued through changes to tax rates, Medicare, or military spending, deficit reduction presents limitless ways for politicians to lose their jobs. And yet the American people demand that their elected leaders accept these risks, and are right to make such demands, because they sense what many experts now know: Growing federal debt threatens the long-term national security of the United States.Skip to next paragraph
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“The single-biggest threat to our national security is our debt,” Admiral Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said last year. It was a powerful acknowledgment from the high-spending Pentagon. Over the last two years, US federal debt increased from $6.9 trillion to $9.7 trillion. In 10 years, it is projected to reach $18 trillion, equaling 77 percent of GDP, the largest debt-to-GDP ratio since 1950, when the US was still recovering from World War II-related costs. At that point, federal spending on net interest related to the debt will surpass spending on the US military.
Since US economic prowess has long fueled US global influence and military power, Americans must understand the threats this situation presents.
First, long-term federal debt could gradually crowd out investments in the US military, which protects American interests and promotes international stability and peace. A similar situation developed in Britain at the turn of the 20th century, when British leaders’ focus on national efficiency and other peripheral issues distracted them from making the changes required to improve economic performance, bolster military capability, and prepare the nation for an uncertain future.
A DIFFERENT VIEW: Want to improve US national security? Cut the defense budget.
While Britain had the United States to help bail it out during World War I, no such savior exists for the United States today.