bobjengr, Thanks for the post. Clearly you are closer to it than I have ever been, so I respect your opinion. There's no question, in my mind at least, that smart spending on the military is a good thing, while waste generally only benefits very few.
I tried to keep this piece as un-political as possible, but (as I feared) it ended up in that direction by some of our readers.
I will say that I'm happy this discussion was kept at a very respectable level. I only got really flamed by one reader, who sent me a direct email rather than post his comments on-line for everyone to see.
There are pluses and minuses to every argument and the military budget allotted by Congress isn't the exception to this rule. I agree with Richard in that with an increased budget new technology is certainly produced. When the War on Terror began, most troops were outfitted with 80's-based gear and there were no drones. Now we have 4-tube NVGs (DevGru) and a plethora of UAVs to troll the friendly/unfriendly skies. Just look how far tech has come since the beginning of WW2.
I don't engage trolls, but it is funny how it chastises a President that flew jets for the military and ignores all the Dems that not only didn't serve the country, but actively worked against the military!
I agree - we should limit Congressional ability to define set-asides or influence procurment decisions. Let the military do what is in the best interest of national defense and not in the interest of a senior member's district!
Of course it is easier said than done, as Congress must have a check on military expenditures.
Actually, you do not need to "use them up" to make more. Everything has a lifecycle, and munitions are perishable. They are just as easily used up in training as they are in real combat.
Our economic growth is not tied to the defense sector. Defense is just a small slice of the pie.
Man has fought and killed his fellow man since the beginning of time. The next war is not a question of if, but has always been a question of when. If anyone needs to take some responsibility it is the peace activists and pacifists that unwittingly encourage war. Being useful idiots, pushing the notion of a utopia where we all just get along encourages and emboldens bad actors in the world. The lesson of Vietnam to the world was the importance of covert operation to destabilize a world power on the home front.
To this day, weak politicians, the vast majority of which have NO qualifications to lead a military, fear what ignorant, yellow journalists may say. Their weakness and ignorance drives them to interfere in military operations and prevents the military from quickly attaining the 'peace' that many claim to want.
Richard, I certainly agree with your viewpoint but I would argue that when we discuss military spending we never talk about cutting waste, fraud and overspending. I spent five years in the Air Force and saw first hand the remarkable misuse of resources. There is absolutely no doubt that R&D efforts must continue for the US to remain on the cutting edge of weapon technology but buying weapon systems we don't need simply to satisfy a congressman's desire to keep $$$$$$$ in his state is wrong. We see this every year. We are in the process of removing our presence from Afghanistan and yet we will leave millions of dollars in "hardware" that will remain unused and rusting. We did the very same in Iraq. (I won't even mention Viet Nam.) The United States has uniformed military in 130 countries and 900 bases and installations on foreign soil. We are going broke maintaining these installations and no one can tell me all are necessary to insure our national safety. (OK—I'm off my soap box.) Technology YES—waste and fraud—absolutely NOT.
That's recent history. We were in the Middle East, Asia (Korea), Africa, and South America in the 1950's, not to mention Southeast Asia in the 50's (Vietnam). One of the Navy's official missions is naval presence, having a naval combatant within sight (probably radar and satellite now) of your shore makes the rascals hesitate. Choosing when and where to extend our presence across the globe is a difficult decision by Congress and the administration.
Our Nobel prize winning president (for peace!) is no different in his zeal for nation building and leaving a legacy. Isn't that what the 2nd term is all about?
I'm not too sure about spreading democracy. After WWII, we "lost" Eastern Europe, China, North Korea, and nearly Greece to the Iron Curtain. Then came Sputnik. At least to most Americans back then, the world was caving in and we were just hanging on and trying not to lose more. It was only after the Soviet Union collapsed that we became emboldened.
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