US military spending | Opinion
We are outside of Afghanistan. Good. We should have gone out before.
Our involvement there was America’s longest war, longer than the Civil War, WWI, and WWII combined. We have accomplished little good and a lot of bad. Tens of thousands killed. A trillion dollars spent.
Now the Taliban wear American uniforms and fly American planes.
The hawks say, “If we just stayed a little longer …”
Yes, there had been a decrease in violence in Afghanistan. But that didn’t mean we were winning. The Taliban were just waiting because former President Donald Trump announced we were leaving.
Are we going to keep trying to control the world?
Washington defines the national interests of the United States so broadly, says John Glaser of the Cato Institute, “that hardly any region of the world (is) considered non-vital.”
This greatness began after World War II.
“We would no longer want to canonize George Washington’s warning against entangled alliances,” Glaser writes. “Or extol John Quincy Adams’ advice that America ‘does not go abroad looking for monsters to destroy’.”
Now we go abroad several times in search of monsters.
Many Americans believe that the military and our use of military force declined after World War II and after the collapse of the Soviet Union. But that is not true either.
“The United States has carried out more military interventions in the past 30 years than it has had in the previous 190 years,” Glaser points out.
We are posting soldiers all over the world: 50,000 in Japan; 35,000 in Germany; 26,000 in South Korea. Why? Is it America’s job to protect South Korea from North Korea? Taiwan from China? Israel from Iran?
We are spending more on defense than the next 10 countries combined.
We cannot afford to continue doing this.
We cannot afford to continue to fund defense contractors’ cost overruns.
In my new video, Cato defense analyst Eric Gomez explains why Congress never does anything about it.
“A lot of members of Congress don’t want this fixed,” he said.
Defense contractors intelligently produce weapons in different states. Lockheed Martin boasts that parts for the F-35 are manufactured in 48 states.
“If you’re a congressman,” Gomez says, “they’re spending that money in your district… you don’t want to be taken out of it.”
An earlier version of President Dwight Eisenhower’s speech on the “military-industrial complex” called it the “military-industrial-congress complex”.
In Afghanistan, America spent $ 43 million to build a gas station (normal ones cost $ 500,000). Why? Some central planners have decided that this gas station should distribute natural gas, although almost no car can use it.
At least in Afghanistan, our government has tried to limit American involvement. Instead of letting the American soldiers fight … forever, America would train and equip the Afghans so that they could defend themselves.
But that didn’t work either.
The United States spent $ 200 million trying to teach Afghan soldiers to read. Five years later, half still couldn’t read.
The problem, Gomez says, is that US officials “have no clear idea of where things are going, what our goal is.”
“We have a goal,” I push back. “Make the world safe for democracy. “
“In Afghanistan, our goal was to make it safe for democracy,” Gomez says. “Our goal was to transform Saddam Hussein’s Iraq into a democratic and wealthy society. The record has not been very good.”
Today, the military budget exceeds $ 700 billion, and the Defense Ministry says it will spend more money to fight climate change because the “climate crisis” is an “existential” threat.
Spending habits are driven by inertia. Year after year, they give roughly the same share of money to the military, navy and air force, even though today’s threats from places like China mean that the the navy and the air force are much more important.
Politicians and the Pentagon have to make choices. What exactly is the military’s mission?
If America hopes to be both secure and prosperous, the military should focus on defending America itself.
John Stossel is the author of “Give Me a Break: How I Exposed Hucksters, Cheats, and Scam Artists and Became the Scourge of the Liberal Media”. For other Creators Syndicate authors and designers, visit www.creators.com.