Let’s cut defense spending


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

Related Post Roulette

23 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Dude! You’re in the big leagues!

    Now to disclose whether you’re on the Conservative version of the JournoList…Report

  2. Avatar Bob Cheeks says:


  3. Avatar Brett says:

    Congrats. I have a couple of comments on your article:

    Europe has largely put war behind it with the advent of the European Union, and save for the Korean peninsula, Asia is largely moving toward a peaceful, global economy as well.

    There’s also Taiwan to consider. They’re rather peaceful now, but all it would take would be a nationalist president pushing it too far, and we’d have a conflict with China.

    Refocusing our defense priorities into regions that have more direct implications for our own national security, such as Africa and the Middle East, would force Europe to take into account not only the defense of its own soil, but the vast expense associated with that defense.

    That’s a waste of time. For one thing, “defending” Europe is cheap right now, with our force numbers drastically down from the Cold War Era. Focusing more on the Middle East and Africa won’t save you much money, particularly since, if anything, you’ll need to spend more money on maintaining force projection in that area.

    The military-industrial complex erected over the past several decades is keeping defense conservatives from creating a truly responsive and efficient military, capable of handling 21st-century threats.

    The Military-Industrial Complex is the reason why we have such a capable military, period. People like to throw that little tidbit from Eisenhower around, but they always neglect to mention that Eisenhower said in the same speech that the MIC as necessary due to the changes in how warfare was being fought. He was just worried about it having undue influence.

    By the way, I read the Grayson bill. It didn’t sound like he was cutting pork – it read more like he was blocking the government from using a certain pool of discretionary funds for Iraq, Afghanistan, and the like.Report

  4. Avatar Travis says:

    “We’d have a conflict in China.”

    Why “we?” Do you seriously think we can win a war against China battling over an island that’s only about 100 miles from the Chinese coast?

    If China really wants to go to war for Taiwan, they can get it back anytime they want. Thankfully, Chinese leadership is sane.Report

    • Avatar Brett in reply to Travis says:


      Why “we?” Do you seriously think we can win a war against China battling over an island that’s only about 100 miles from the Chinese coast?

      Yes. For one thing, the Chinese military doesn’t have the capability to actually take the island – their sea power projection is pathetic. And the US has a far superior Navy and Air Force that would chew up the Chinese fleet.

      However, the Chinese could make it annoying, by doing things to try and cut off the island from outside (read: US) support.Report

      • Avatar Travis in reply to Brett says:

        @Brett, sending carrier battle groups into the Straits of Taiwan would be inviting suicide via cruise missile. They don’t need a giant navy to dominate their littoral waters when they have a zillion anti-ship guided missiles waiting on the shore.Report

  5. Avatar Frank says:

    In 1960, U.S. defense spending was over 50% of the total federal budget and around 10% of total GDP. Today, U.S. defense spending is around 20% of the federal budget and around 3.5% of total GDP. How is defense spending the problem?Report

    • Avatar Mike Farmer in reply to Frank says:

      Wherever there is waste, it should be cut. Perhaps it’s not THE problem, but waste anywhere is A problem. THE problem is increased spending all the way around, so cutting waste out of military spening is a part of an overall effort to cut the deficit. There are many parts of government spending which are small compared to the whole, and if each part is defended based on its smallness compared to the whole, then nothing ever gets cut.Report

      • @Mike Farmer,
        Having said that, though, a cynical person could accuse the author of testing the sincerity of NR types regarding spending cuts by throwing the sacred cow on the block to be trimmed. This could create a reaction which could go viral as an example of conservative hypocrsiy and enhance the author’s street cred with moderate-types. But only a cynical person would think this way, and it appears the article is accepted as written, to the author’s apparent surprise (“especially given the subject mater”), and mostly agreed with, or, at least no attacked so far.Report

      • Avatar Frank in reply to Mike Farmer says:

        @Mike Farmer,
        My point is that defense spending, which is one of the few things the government does today that it is actually supposed to do, is much less of a burden on our economy today than in the past, yet we have these huge deficits. They are not due to growth in defense spending, they are due to uncontrollable growth in entitlement spending, so you could cut 159 billion or whatever from defense spending and it would quickly be subsumed by the real drivers of the deficit.Report

  6. Avatar Mike Schilling says:

    Congratulations, both for the article and for achieving the well-nigh impossible task of finding good folks at NRO.Report

  7. Avatar North says:

    Seriously congrats.Report

  8. Avatar JosephFM says:

    As I said on Twitter – Congrats man. Good job, and good piece.

    Though I’m still surprised they published it even if Reihan was involved.Report

  9. Avatar Jonathan says:

    Congrats, Erik. It’s been fun watching your resume expand. You deserve all the success you’ve attained.Report

  10. Avatar Scott Wilson says:

    Interesting article and it is an idea worth pursuing, provided that it doesn’t impact training and readiness. I was in the Army during Gramm-Rudman, (Slightly different type of legislation I know, but it did impact the Armed Forces) and it had a huge effect on training. I was in West Germany, 45 km from the border in a combat arms MOS, and I shot my rifle once a year. We were told it was because of budget reductions from Gramm-Rudman. If we trim the pork, we must be cautious that we don’t trim muscle as well.Report

  11. Congratulations Mr. Kain! Your tireless efforts are proving most bountiful. Excellent article. Would that Congress turn such a prudent eye toward entitlement spending as well. National defense is, afterall, a Constitutional imperative. Social Security et al are progressive fabrications.



  12. Avatar Plinko says:

    Late to the party, but congratulations, E.D.

    I am glad to see some tiny semblance of progress in getting conservatives to come to their senses about defense spending.Report

  13. Avatar E.D. Kain says:

    Thanks to everyone for the kind words and smart criticism! Sorry it took me so long to get here and say that…Report