Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Is it time to cut the Pentagon's budget?

If you're an American looking to cut spending (as many apparently were today), the most unbelievably obvious place to start is with military spending. The Department of Defense spent somewhere around $800 billion dollars last year - that's around 30% of taxes collected in the United States and almost half of the world's military spending.

That's why Cato's Gene Healy believes that the U.S. needs to make "genuine, and deep, cuts to miltary spending."

Call for seriously downsizing DOD, and people tend to sniff at you like you reek of patchouli. Our stale defense policy debate only has room for two teams: hippies or hawks. Would you like to buy the world a Coke, or would you rather cow it into submission?

Fortunately, there's another option. Two of our better presidents pointed the way in their farewell addresses. George Washington condemned permanent alliances abroad, and Dwight Eisenhower warned against "mortgag[ing] the material assets of our grandchildren" to the "military-industrial complex."

Healy (and a book he recommends) argues that military spending as massive as that undertaken by the U.S. leads to decreased security since it encourages free-riding by American allies, and that it is no longer aimed at defense, which was its constitutional purpose.

You can read all of Healy's post here.

Cross-posted to The Shotgun.

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