Beef jerky and the nation’s defense

 

So, Senator Coburn, if only the Pentagon stopped funding beef jerky, we’d have enough to pay for the deficit or something? We could save $67 billion? And what about those who say we ought to cut a trillion? Because that’s the plan.

There are plenty who believe our military is profligate, bloated, and inefficient. Sure, they’re the best fighting force the world has ever seen, but a little fat, no? Volunteers, sure, but a tad sloppy with the taxpayers’ hard earned cash. And fighting wars that, really, we don’t need to fight. We have drones, don’t we? Special forces, right? The CIA, don’t we? What are we, the world’s policeman, needing to be everywhere at once? Can’t the Chinese and Japanese fight their own fights? The Europeans deal with their own petty troubles? And those Arabs. They’re rich. Let them fuss over Yemen and Syria. Let the Israelis worry about Iran. The world’s problems aren’t America’s problems.

And the answer is, sure. We can cut a few things from the Defense Department. Even more than beef jerky. Some stupid stuff that isn’t DoD’s business anyway. But that won’t yield the rivers of cash we need to fill the Chinese debt repayment maw. For that, we’re going to have to gut the Pentagon. But… does it really matter that Hezbollah now has precision guided munitions that were the wonder of the world when America started using them late last century? Do we need to have a force strong enough to deter nations and terrorists from challenging the global order? So what if the Philippines, Singapore, Vietnam, and South Korea are worried about China? Let them manage. We can hop in maybe if we’re needed, but we won’t be. I could go on here. And still, those cuts won’t be a drop in the bucket of our deficit.

When you count up the four pennies on the dollar that we now spend out of our GDP for the finest defense any nation can buy and the global preeminence that has guaranteed a world in which we no longer need to fight in global conflicts, remember that we won’t be saving that money in order to do something better, like cut your taxes or pave your roads or improve your schools. We’ll be moving toward ending a way of life the world has known since 1945 in order to fund the largest deficit in American history – and an explosion of entitlements that is already costing the average family $29,000 a year. When we go over the fiscal cliff in January, 43% of the cash will come from the defense budget despite the fact that it represents only 11% of all budget authority. Yeah, the Pentagon doesn’t need grocery stores. But if we’re basing soldiers where there are none, what do you want to do? Base them closer to Safeway? Talk about strategery.

There are people who want America to stop being a global power. I respect their honesty, if not their views. But there are others who hide behind fiscal responsibility in order to further their isolationist ideals. Plenty on the left. Plenty on the Ron Paul right. We’re not going to right our economic ship by cutting defense. Period.

Here are the facts. Here are the numbers. Think about the implications of what we’re planning to do to our fighting forces and the people who support them. Then act.

 

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About the Author

 

Danielle
Pletka

  • As a long-time Senate Committee on Foreign Relation senior professional staff member for the Near East and South Asia, Danielle Pletka was the point person on Middle East, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan issues. As the vice president for foreign and defense policy studies at AEI, Pletka writes on national security matters with a focus on Iran and weapons proliferation, the Middle East, Syria, Israel and the Arab Spring. She also studies and writes about South Asia: Pakistan, India and Afghanistan.


    Pletka is the co-editor of “Dissent and Reform in the Arab World: Empowering Democrats” (AEI Press, 2008) and the co-author of “Containing and Deterring a Nuclear Iran” (AEI Press, 2011) and “Iranian influence in the Levant, Egypt, Iraq, and Afghanistan” (AEI Press, 2012). Her most recent study, “America vs. Iran: The competition for the future of the Middle East,” was published in January 2014.


     


    Follow Danielle Pletka on Twitter.


  • Phone: 202-862-5943
    Email: dpletka@aei.org
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