You cannot be anti-Big Government and pro-Big Military. The numbers don’t work and the politics don’t work.
We have just seen a perfect example of this political reality. Congress has recently passed a $1.3 trillion spending bill to fund the government through September 2018. The Republicans wanted $80 billion more for defense. The political cost from the Democrats was $63 billion more for domestic programs. This was hailed as a great example of bipartisanship on Capitol Hill. As is usually the case, the only thing the old parties can agree on is spending more money.
We will never have fiscal responsibility until we rein in military expenditures. The US government spends over $700 billion on the military each year, the equivalent of almost 40% of the world’s total and more than the next seven largest military budgets in the world, combined.
Yet the military claims not to have enough money. Although there are huge inefficiencies in the military, there is a lot of truth in this claim. If you define the role of the military to be limitless, the money will never be enough.
We will never control military expenditures so long as we try to be the world’s policeman. And we will never control all government expenditures until we control military expenditures.
We need to shut all, or nearly all, of the 800 military bases we have in over 70 countries around the world. We need to bring home all, or nearly all, of the 200,000 military personnel that we have deployed to over 150 nations around the world. We need to do this for humanitarian reasons – especially for the sake of our own troops – and we need to do this for financial reasons.
The countries that are important to America are wealthy, populous and technologically advanced enough to defend themselves; by providing military support to them, we merely allow them to be irresponsible and to drag us into fights that are not ours. The squabbles of the remaining countries are not important to our security or prosperity and, as our history has repeatedly shown, our interventions usually create many more problems than they solve.
Once we have greatly reduced the mission of the US military, we can then focus on its efficiency.
We have too many military bases in the United States. The military wants to reduce these but the regional interests of Congress stand in the way. This must stop.
Procurement for the military is incredibly inefficient, largely due to the political machinations of Congress and the military suppliers. This must also stop.
The Pentagon is incredibly wasteful and it should be audited. Preliminary steps in this direction show that, for just one branch of the military, $800 million has simply vanished. For too long, the cry of “security” has been used to justify a blank check. The military must be held accountable.