When will we have a POTUS who will tell the Republicans in Congress (and many Dems) as well as the American people that the cold war is over!
The DoD budget is about to hit a milestone. The Pentagon has proposed a FY 2009 budget of $515.4 billion. If it is approved in full, annual military spending, when adjusted for inflation, will have reached its highest level since World War II. AND, none of this includes war funding for Iraq, Afghanistan or Iran or new the nukes Bush wants.
The good news is that as a portion of total GDP, defensive spending is holding at 4% which is much better than the 9% during Vietnam.
Never the less it's time to get real. The cold war is over!.
Who or what is the enemy that the U.S. military is protecting us from in 2008? Is it rouge nations that have armies big enough to invade neighboring nations? Does Iran have a military capable of invasion ala Saddam, or are they really a defensive military force. Is our main enemy now guerrilla armies around the 3d world, al Qaeda?
The US Navy has 11 active super-carriers with 2 more under construction and a third planned (these 3 new carriers would replace existing ones). These are the only super-carriers in the world. Few other countries have even 1 small carrier, including China which has zero but has plans long-term for one or two for 'national pride,' and Russia who's cold war fleet of 2! are non-operational (the list is here) . While I understand the role of the carrier in our ability to project force how many are needed in the post cold war world? You can be sure that number is less than 11!
Besides the US, who has a heavy tank army anymore? North Korea? Modern weapons have made them obsolete. Just ask Saddam.
Who besides the US is building air to air fighters? If no one is building air to air fighters, who will ours fight? While spending billions to build the new F-22, we're converting all our current air to air fighters to attack fighters because no air to air mission exists.
I'm all for spending big dollars on the military and might even agree to stick to 4% of GDP at least as we replace equipment destroyed in Iraq, but it's time to start building a military capable of responding to threats that actually exist today. This means smaller, lighter (ie easier to transport quickly) tanks and armored personnel carriers designed not for the plains of Europe, and the ships to move them quickly to hot spots around the world. We need an army, navy and air force that's fast and light.
And we also need to recognize,as Europe and China do, that in the post cold war world cooperation and diplomacy can solve most threats from rouge nations long before they act. See for example Iran's non-nuclear weapons program.
The world is changing and the United States seems to be the only country left that doesn't get it.
Ezra Klein via Matt puts our military spending in context with this chart based upon 2005.
Where is the economic conservatism in this spending?