I am in no way a pacifist. I believe in military strength, covert operations and being able to fight when someone threatens our livelihood or that of our allies. Presidential candidates John McCain and Barack Obama share that belief with me. But that is where our shared views on the military end. Both candidates have said in speeches they want to make our military even more powerful than it is today. Though I may be one of a select few to say it, I believe this idea is not only an affront to intelligent thought but also very self-destructive. I say it’s self-destructive because our military has reached a size beyond effectiveness. It is a gluttonous expense we are paying for with our financial wellbeing.
The American Civil War resulted in a massive death toll because the technology had changed, but military strategy had not. Today, the same thing is happening again. Today, we not only fight other states; we must also face many non-government actors who use guerilla tactics to engage our forces. This warfare has endangered our troops more than conventional warfare has in the last decade. So is our conventional military the best answer to these dangers? Or do we need better equipment, armor, vehicles, weapons and training for a smaller number of soldiers? I read the newspaper and see young men and women no older than myself who have died. It causes me to curse the politicians, Republicans and Democrats alike, who opted for a larger, rather than more efficient, military force.
One of the greatest products of our military’s technology has been the ability to transport our forces around the world at a moments notice. We can have ships in the waters of any coastal country within days and airplanes above their skies within hours. This begs the question: why do we need such a large permanent military presence around the world? Wouldn’t the consolidation of forces into the United States and a select few strategic locations be cheaper? I am not a military expert. I do not have the perfect answer. But I am a taxpayer, and it is my right to ask these questions.
Bureau of Economic Analysis statistics show that two-thirds of federal tax revenue goes to fund the military and the remaining one-third is for everything else, including social security, Medicare and Medicaid, education, research grants and even government salaries. As a taxpayer, this offends me. Think of all the money Obama could invest in education, health care and use to relieve some of our national debt. Think of all the tax cuts McCain could give if he reduced defense spending. He might even be able to balance the budget at the same time. Either one of them could use the money to help us out of the recession we are in and relieve some of the economic hardships.
Some believe if we cut our defense spending, our nation will become less secure. According to the CIA’s “World Factbook,” our military is so advanced and our spending to maintain it so large, that we could cut the defense budget in half and still spend more on that area than any other nation in the world. Our security worries should not be wasted on other nations. A confrontation with any of them would be a swift victory for the United States. Instead, we should use it to address our security and the non-governmental actors who threaten our great nation.