defense spending: still spending



Freddie deBoer used to blog at, and may again someday. Now he blogs here.

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11 Responses

  1. All I’m going to say is that if Will Wilkinson is right about a war in the Artic…we’re going to need these guys:

    I would also recommend activating Blizzard, Snowjob, Whiteout, Windchill and Arctic Snake Eyes.Report

  2. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:

    If we save 3 to 5% of the military budget, what do we do with the savings, redistribute it to the unfortunate poor or reduce the tax burden for those who actually pay taxes.Report

  3. Avatar Freddie says:

    If we save 3 to 5% of the military budget, what do we do with the savings, redistribute it to the unfortunate poor or reduce the tax burden for those who actually pay taxes.

    Well, let’s imagine. The budgeted amount for defense in 2008 was about $517 billion dollars. Note again, that doesn’t include the budgets for the ongoing campaigns in Iraq and Afghanistan, which are appropriated separately, nor does it include nuclear weapons, nor does it include the Department of Homeland Security. So the actual amount we spend on defending the country is much higher.

    But let’s just stick with the budgeted figure. It’s my claim that we could reduce the defense budget by as much as 5% and still remain entirely unrivaled on a military level; we could still provide for our own defense and the defense of our allies. That five percent of the $517 billion is about $26 billion dollars.

    Where to put it, spending, tax cuts or paying down the debt? How about all three? The 2007 proposed increase in S-CHIP, vetoed by President Bush, would have cost about $7 billion a year. So let’s fund S-CHIP expansion, increase health care access for children, and please lefties like me. That leaves $18 billion. Let’s hand out an $8 billion payroll tax cut for working class and middle class families. That leaves $10 billion dollars to go towards slowing the accumulation of national debt, with a valuable social program and a payroll tax cut, all without ending the campaigns in Iraq or Afghanistan.Report

  4. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:


    Great post. I have only one slight amendment. The failure in Iraq/Afghanistan is not so much failure to put in counterinsurgency (which is dubious under the best of circumstances if not really a sham) but not following up the military victory with a political and economic settlement. What Barnett calls winning the peace. That requires an entire other force and an entire other cabinet-level position.

    Either that or we massively de-centralize our army (if we think we should return to a containment only policy) and focus much more effort on intelligence gathering and courts. Basically a legal paradigm. But with nuclear weapons, who cares what the size of our Air Force is? Yglesias is right on that one. Whose the enemy you need that kind of weaponry for?Report

  5. Avatar Chris Dierkes says:

    Counterinsurgency is still another variant of thinking the problem is primarily military in nature, which therefore requires more military solutions.

    Barnett uses the example of what happens in a US city when the infrastructure goes out for a number of days. Day 1, candles outdoor card games with the neighbors, grilling, etc. Day 2, people staying mostly inside. Day 3 getting more nervous. Day 4 bad things usually start to happen.

    Analogically, in Iraq the US had basically 3-4 months to get the power on, the water running, and we blew it. After that point the peace is lost. Awakening or no Awakening. Better metrics, neato power point slides from Petraeus, whatever, it doesn’t matter. To quote Eminem: you only get one shot.

    Everything else is commentary.Report

  6. I’m hurt that no one enjoyed my GI Joe comment… : (

    As for the budget, here’s a radical idea: Require that all military personnel under a certain rank or years be single. Think of the money saved simply by not having to fund family housing. Plus, it’s always been my opinion that men (and women) without a spouse and kids at home are better warriors.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    “Require that all military personnel under a certain rank or years be single.”

    Hurray! A new argument against gay marriage. “We need these translators to not be married. For the sake of our nation.”Report

  8. There seems to be a real tendency among military personnel to get hitched about 5 minutes after boot camp. Then the govt has to lay out significantly more in money for family housing. Requiring that enlisted personnel be single until they hit 10 years of service (or whatever the benchmark) or attain a certain rank seems like a smart idea.Report

  9. Avatar Jaybird says:

    In all seriousness, here is my problem with that:

    Marriage is not the cause of the problem. (copulation) is the problem.

    The question now comes: How do we want to deal with the (copulation) issue? Is it better to have the military personnel in something approaching a long-term monogamous relationship or would regular access to (professional copulators) be a better solution?

    Not (copulating) does not seem to be an option, particularly.

    On top of that, I can totally see how marriage is much more marketable, politically.Report

  10. I think we Romans solved that one. Perhaps we should locate all military bases in Nevada?Report

  11. Avatar greginak says:

    uhh yeah if young soldiers can’t get married for a while they will either get out of the military or just have babies out of wedlock.Report