Monday, October 31, 2011

Cutting defense spending

Defense spending is one of those issues that is almost immune to argument.  Ultimately it comes down to how you view the world.  Still, a good column on the subject today from Robert Samuelson.

Among the points that Samuelson makes:

Ø      Defense spending was 4.4% of total federal spending last decade compared to the 40 to 50% that went to the defense in the fifties and sixties when the country was poorer.
Ø      Comparing national expenditures on defense are misleading because they have significantly different salary and procurement costs.  A Chinese soldier costs far less than an American one.
Ø      Defense is job number one for government. 

To Samuelson’s points I would add that this is one area where you don’t want it to be close.  Evenly matched militaries result in horrifically bloody stalemates.  America has shown little tolerance for casualties and long campaigns; that doesn’t go well with small military advantages.

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