Friday, January 7, 2011

Why does it have to be us?

After examining the symbolic budget cuts that the Republicans will try (and fail) to enforce at NPR and the NEA, Ed Morrisey at Hot Air gets down to the nitty-gritty. 

Defense spending. 
We should be looking strategically at the role of the US in the world, especially in Europe. We spend a fortune providing security to what has become a very stable and interconnected region. Our investment in Europe should be reconsidered in light of our economic problems. We won’t be able to withdraw from Korea for obvious reasons, nor should we scale back our naval power as we need to continue to protect shipping routes for secure and reliable global trade. If we really want to stop deficit spending now, we have to look for the opportunities to cut in the short term as well as the painful and necessary long-term reforms in entitlements, and that means the Pentagon is going to have to share the load.

I generally love Mr. Morrisey's stuff.  But he's begging the question in the italicized sections of that post. 

Why is our requirement to protect South Korea so "obvious" ?  Why is it our job to protect shipping lanes? 

1) Did it work out well for us the first time we helped the Koreans with a war?  How about Viet Nam?  Serbia?  (Plus, how is it going in Iraq and Afghanistan?)

2) Do people all over the world love us and appreciate our military in their countries? 

3) Would we respond well to, say, a little ol' Mexican military installation in Dallas (so Mexico could protect its investments and trading partner?) 

4) Is trade a two-way exchange?  If we're trading with Japan, isn't it time for them to start doing some of their own protection?  Does it not take Take Two To Tango? 

5) Do we have plenty of money to spend on this?  Or are we going into debt ? 

6) Name the countries that Mr. Morrisey is concerned about shutting down the Pacific trade lanes, or with attacking South Korea....Ok, there's North Korea and then there's China.  How much defense spending are we funding with money borrowed from....China ? 

7) Could we cut defense spending in half if we stayed out of everyone else's business, stopped looking for insults to our honor, and protected our own borders and no one else's ? 

8) When we declare defense spending to be "off the table", are we stark, raving mad ?

3 comments:

Nick Rowe said...

We have already reduced our forces in Europe tremendously. Where we do have bases, it's to project power into Asia.

1) Yes, the Korean War worked very well for the South Koreans who don't have to live under the hermit cult of personality of North Korea. That the war was a bloody stalemate doesn't alter the fact we maintained a free, democratic, peaceful, capitalist government in SK. They contribute strongly to world GDP. I happen to like my Samsung TV very much.

The pity of Vietnam is that we COULD have won but chose to lose. At the end of US involvement, there was not a single NVA division between us and Hanoi. They were all in Cambodia and Laos, hiding from us. The 3.5 million people who fled South Vietnam would think us being there was the right thing to do. Millions who live in poverty and oppression now wish we had won.

Iraq and Afghanistan are the only democracies in the Arab worlds. They are not strong democracies, but all such transitions take time. Political scientist Samuel Huntington recognized that democracy usually takes three waves to be successful.

2) Germany, Japan, the Philippines, South Korea and Kosovo greatly appreciated our presence. The younger generation doesn't remember the horrors they once beheld. Kuwait appreciates us. Saudi Arabia invited us. Albania loves America. So do the Poles, Czechs, Estonians, Latvians, Lithuanians, Salvadorans, many Colombians, Hondurans, and Panamanians.

3) Straw man. We do not need a Mexican Army base in the US. These other countries needed us. Why? Because of the evil regimes in the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, North Vietnam, Iraq, Iran, etc.

4) We are getting something - bases in foreign lands from which to project power in areas where our enemies seek to take control.

5) The military is a public good. We all consume equal quantities of it. And yes we have plenty of money for defense (and offense) if we didn't spend money on wasteful entitlement programs which provide purely private benefits.

6) I don't condone our debt, but China is giving us extremely low interest loans to buy products they subsidize for us. I wish all my enemies would do this for me. As for funding our military to defend against China with Chinese debt, that's sophistry. We have debt from unwise spending on many things. The Chinese debt is not earmarked for defense against China. And if it were, God bless them for it.

Gee, I wonder why China is deploying submarines with supercavitating torpedoes, a new aircraft carrier, carrier killer missiles, stealth fighters, and demonstrating missile accuracy by shooting down a satellite and launching a maned space vehicle. Does China think somebody is going to attack them any time soon?

7) 9/11 proved to us that guarding our borders isn't ample defense. So did Vietnam, Korea, WWII, and WWI. Two huge oceans aren't the defense they once were. It's a small world after all.

8) No cuts should ever be "off the table". Even defense needs to be efficient, nimble, and flexible. That's why we cancelled the B-1, Crusader, most of our F-22s, and numerous other defense programs. On the other hand, our chintzy spending during the 90s cost us thousands of soldier lives from inadequate armor protection.

The Whited Sepulchre said...

Nick,
Thanks for the comment. Will respond one by one in a future post.
But once again, Why does it have to be us?

-TWS

Flee said...

I agree with you 100%, I know this must mean the end of the world is near. The military is our biggest entitlement program and wastes more money than all the welfare queens added together over the last 40 years. Bring our troops home and have them defend our boarders.