published Friday, March 14th, 2014

Hart: Military Spending: Fewer good men needed

By Ron Hart

“Defense is not a budget issue. You spend what you need.”

— Ronald Reagan

We currently spend more on defense than the next 13 highest spending countries combined. China is second at $125 billion a year, and they are only spending that because they want to be ready to come collect on all the money we have borrowed from them.

The Defense Department has become the Offense Department. We invade and occupy; we do not “defend.” The staggering amount we spend on defense does not include military aid to countries such as Pakistan and Egypt, nor does it include border security, Homeland Security, the NSA, the CIA or the FBI.

The F-35 fighter is a classic example. It is a jet many believe we don’t need. It got funded because it is built in 46 states. Defense contractors spread their money around different districts to ensure that their products will be funded. Long ago, economic logic yielded to politics in our military procurement system.

The military–industrial complex might not need a war. It can make money selling weapons to Obama to use against Congress and Fox News.

American voters’ appetite for wars is fading. Only 25 percent wanted us to strike Syria, and the other 75 percent still want to know why we occupied Iraq and Afghanistan. We will need fewer soldiers going forward. Future wars are going to be more drone- and special ops-driven, like the bin Laden raid.

Should a major enemy evolve, it would do so slowly over time. We could get back into a war footing pretty quickly, like we did in World War II. If there is a galvanizing cause, Americans will come together.

We need to pay veterans what we owe them for their service and stop making so many of them. And we need to thin the top-heavy, war-itching military brass. If you have a hammer you are always looking for a nail, thus our wars.

The risk to America is our spending, not that some conquering army will cross the ocean to attack us. Radical Muslim sects don’t get along with each other. The only reason they might unite is when they coalesce around their anger when we occupy their land. They aren’t a threat. They don’t even have processed cheese or dial-up Internet.

The real threat today is cyber warfare, not some 500,000 of our soldiers invading a country. We are always preparing to fight the last war, not the next one. We have smart bombs, but dumb politicians.

Ukraine is not our fight. The risk is to Europe. Europe should bear the cost, not us. We should get out of the business of being the world’s policeman unless our national defense is truly threatened.

Our strength for now is economic rather than military. With sanctions coordinated with the community of like-minded nations, we will have more sway. Economics matter. Even kleptocrats like the past Ukrainian leader realize you have to have economics and trade so you can steal from business owners.

When Obama took over, the Feds took $2.1 trillion from us to fund themselves. In his new budget, five years later, Obama is taking $3.3 trillion — $1.2 trillion more to come from us and to Washington, which, to boot, borrows 35 percent of it. If there is any hope of stopping this spending, the GOP has to be economical on defense to make Obama think of cutting the welfare state he wants to grow.

Sadly, Obama will not use the defense cut “dividend” to pay down our debt but to pay up his political cronies.

Ron Hart is a syndicated op-ed humorist and award-winning author. E-mail him at Ron@RonaldHart.com.

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librul said...

Aside from the hilarity inherent in quoting Ronnie Ray Gun who never saw a Pentagon proposal he didn't like, increasing US military spending by 43% over the peak years of Vietnam during his White House residency, and giving right wing paramilitaries American tax money and resources in support of neo-liberal destruction of democratically elected governments in Central America, and supporting the fledgling Osama bin Laden; I have to say I can meet Ron almost halfway on this one. I'm particularly excited about his mention of a campaign against Fox Noise.

March 14, 2014 at 12:57 a.m.
nucanuck said...

Did someone take over Ron Hart's column? Has the man had a late life conversion? Does the TFP editor know about this?

March 14, 2014 at 1:30 a.m.
SisterSledge said...

Hart is the best writer working today. He is open to both sides and leans libertarian. You liberal bloggers need to stop eating your young and judging. Hart Rocks!

March 14, 2014 at 10:56 a.m.
Rickaroo said...

SisterSledge, anyone who self-identifies with one ideology or another is open to the other side only to the extent that that other side happens to agree with his/her position. Ron Hart is no different. He is not any more "open to both sides" than anyone else.

I don't know the extent of his libertarianism but if he is truly a libertarian then I'm not surprised in the least to see this article from him. Liberals and libertarians seem to share the same views on a number of issues, but where we differ - and it is a huge difference - is that libertarians live in a fantasy land wherein they think that if left to our own devices individuals will choose to do the right thing (just like conservatives foolishly think that in laissez-faire capitalism the market will always magically self-correct and end up doing the right thing) and if they don't, then the rest of us should suffer the consequences or deal with their greed or malice ourselves, on an individual basis. Or if not that, then it is up to each individual state to enact the necessary legislation. Basically, libertarianism ascribes to a very childish, romanticized notion of individual liberty and calls for a govern-less utopia that has never been even remotely realized and never will, especially in such a large, diverse, multi-cultural society like ours.

Actually, in matters of civil rights and our drug laws, where libs and libertarians seem to share common ground, we don't really have that much in common. We libs believe that there are certain rights that trump states' rights and there should be nationwide laws to protect those rights. But libertarians believe that if a particular state deems abortion, for example, or pot-smoking or gay marriage illegal, then that state should have the final say. They give an inordinate sense of power to each state government and they detest the federal government even worse than conservatives do - if that's possible.

As for us liberal bloggers eating our young, that's an interesting choice of words but it doesn't make a bit of sense. And as for calling us out for judging others, well, that's a hoot. If anyone is going to so much as stick their toe into the mud-wrestling arena of political discourse, then judging others and their opinions and engaging in a little, or a lot, of mud slinging is just part of the game, sister.

March 14, 2014 at 1:29 p.m.
jjmez said...

Many today's Libertarians are nothing more than far right wingnut extremist GOP tea partiers dressed up in Libetarian garb who've frigtened away even traditional libertarians. After they've royally screwed up the GOP they slithered away and hid under the name Libertarian.

Read, EDWIN LYNGAR: Why I fled libertarianism — and became a liberal

excerpt:

There are a lot of libertarians in the Tea Party, but there are also a lot of repugnant, religious nuts and intolerant racists. “Birthers” found a comfy home among 9-11 conspiracy people and other crackpots. After only a few months, I had absolutely no desire to ever be linked to this group of people.

As evidence, I offer the most repugnant example of many complaints. I’ve heard the n-word used in casual conversation from people I would never expect. Some people might not believe it or think I’m playing the race card, but I’m not. I’ve heard the word more than I care to admit and more often in the run-up to the 2012 election. Perhaps because I’m a big, fat and bald white guy with a mean goatee, racists think I’m on board with them. I am not, and I’m ashamed to admit that my cowardice at confronting this ugliness makes me complicit.

Salon

March 14, 2014 at 2:23 p.m.
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