With all due respect to Mr. Felzenberg and Mr. Gray, I’m not sure that our Libya campaign shows the folly of cuts in defense spending. One might argue as easily that our $1 trillion or more in defense spending shows the folly of the Libya campaign. We’re lobbing missiles that go for about $750,000 a copy into a country for the entirety of which I would not trade the change behind my sofa cushions, inasmuch as Libya strikes me the very definition of a negative asset, one that we are in the process of taking custodianship over. (Why are we doing that, again? In order to give the Arab League a chance to break the land speed record for stabbing us in the back? Which took about three minutes.)
Yes, I wrote $1 trillion. Even though the last DOD budget was only — only! — about $550 billion, supplementary war funding brings the number up to about $663 billion. But lots of military spending takes place outside of DOD: at NASA, at DOE, DHS, Veterans’ Affairs, etc. And NASCAR, for Pete’s sake. Throw in all that, and the interest payments on debt incurred for previous military spending, and you get a number between $1 trillion and $1.4 trillion, depending on how you count it up. I’ll be conservative and call it a cool trillion.
If the experience of the last ten years has taught us anything, it should be this: We can bomb our enemies into the Stone Age, but we cannot bomb them into the 21st century. We can, however, keep Saudi nationals, Yemenis, Egyptians, etc. out of the United States — at least until we are very, very certain that the people we’re letting in are not threats, or apt to encourage homegrown threats. And doing so is cheap, at least compared to trying to build liberal societies in Iraq and Afghanistan or patronizing revolutions in Libya. Securing our borders is a much, much better investment than regime change in Libya, which either is or is not the objective of the United States, depending on who is explaining the view from the White House.
There is a finite number of trillion-dollar expenditures that the U.S. government is capable of financing when it is borrowing 40 cents of every appropriated dollar. Who wants to find out what that limit is?
God help us if we should have an actual military emergency around the same time the fiscal crisis is upon us. The troubles we have today are minor compared to the ones we are preparing for ourselves.
Surely, we can find some savings in that $1 trillion.