Hart: Military Spending: Fewer good men needed

Hart: Military Spending: Fewer good men needed

March 14th, 2014 By Ron Hart in Opinion Columns

"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.