America’s controversial defense budget is not understood either by the majority of the Left who hate it, or the majority of the Right who accept it unquestioningly. But it is big – too-big – and growing. And for no good reason.
A complete lack of education of the American voter leads most to assume our DoD costs are for America, alone. This leads to ignorant statements such as, “America spends more on defense than the next 10 countries combined.” Well – yeah. That’s because we DEFEND the next ten countries combined, absent Russia & China, and a whole host more.
The American taxpayer pays for the defense of ALL of the West – which includes Australia and New Zealand. And Japan, Korea, the Philippines, Western Europe, Canada, S America, etc.
Want to know WHY all these countries have had socialized healthcare and enormous welfare benefits since 1945? Because YOU, the American taxpayer, have been paying their defense bill.
(Ironically, if the Left had its way and America reduced its defense spending to the levels of Europe, Europe would have to increase their defense spending so much that they no longer could afford the welfare benefits the Left ridicules America for not having. Or, they could make the choice made by Ukraine…)
Let’s look just at Europe: According to McClatchy, “The European members of NATO have about 230M more people than the US, and a combined GDP that’s slightly larger than that of the United States. Yet European nations today spend only 37% of what the United States does on defense: $270B v. $735B.”
Using McClatchy’s numbers, we make the following macro calculations and assumptions:
American population: 320,000,000
European NATO population: 550,000,000 (this does NOT include European non-NATO members, and we defend them, too, by default. They are “free Riders” just as is Canada on money spent to defend America).
American Defense spending: $735B, or $2,297 per capita.
NATO-only European Defense spending: $270B, or $491 per capita.
Let’s assume the Left is correct and that America SHOULD spend only $491 per capita. Doing so would move about $578B out of Defense (to be squandered elsewhere by our government). Basically, we spend – waste – over half a trillion dollars NOT defending America. Every single year.
QUESTION: Why should Americans spend our money defending nations unwilling to defend themselves?
ANSWER: No reason. All of these nations are wealthy enough to defend themselves and simply prefer Americans pay their bills.
QUESTION: If we were to reduce our defense spending by $500B, would Europe raise theirs commensurately?
ANSWER: I don’t care; it’s their continent and their choice. They can see the cost of not doing so in Ukraine, but the choice must be theirs. Otherwise they simply are colonies of an American empire.
QUESTION: If America reduced our spending to European levels, could the West still be defended?
ANSWER: Of course.
QUESTION: Does a historical model exist on which America could base its defense strategy and spending, arriving at a far lower level, yet keep America and its allies safe?
The problem in defending the West is not one of money or manpower. The problem is will and the ability to recognize enemies, and that enemies ARE enemies to be killed and not misunderstood friends to be won.
Inarguably America’s most successful military commander, General Eisenhower, kept under control a fractious coalition and simultaneously managed millions of men under arms to attain victory in the largest war in history. As president he knew firsthand that war is hell, that the most productive side wins, and that winning quickly saves lives, property and money. The most productive weapons in history are nuclear weapons.
Understanding productivity in war as few other leaders have, Eisenhower brought an end to the Korean War with back-channel threats to a non-nuclear China that he would nuke them if they didn’t sit down at the negotiating table. They sat. He then, through his Secretary of State Dulles at the Council on Foreign Relations in January of 1954, presented his strategic policy of defending America and its allies. The speech is called the “Massive Retaliation” speech. The policy presented is a refusal to build, maintain or deploy massive conventional armies. Rather, an attack on America or its allies would be met with “massive retaliation.” Nukes.
America can reduce its defense budget by the half-a-trillion dollars simply by letting Europe pay their own way. We can reduce it even more by reinstating the same Eisenhower policy that kept Americans out of war for 10 years, until LBJ decided to waste lives with conventional warfare, a mistake all American presidents have been repeating since – at enormous cost in money and lives – on BOTH sides of our conflicts.
Objection is made that nuclear weapons kill indiscriminately and so cannot be used, and that they kill huge numbers of people. Let’s take the last one first.
The generally accepted number of Vietnamese killed during the American action is two million. Killing those 2M Vietnamese cost America not only 58,000 dead – who would never become doctors, scientists, authors… or parents, depriving America of unknowable human capital – but also 350,000 wounded and maimed, and about $700B in today’s dollars.
Had America dropped one or two nuclear weapons on Hanoi in 1964, rather than beginning a decade-long fruitless conventional campaign that resulted in defeat, would we have killed 2M people? No. 58,000 Americans? No. Spent $700B? No. A POLITICAL solution – annihilating a capitol and enemy polity – would have resulted in no more war.
Had American leadership shown the will to win – and to take whatever measures necessary to do so – fewer lives would have been wasted, and the global stage set for reduction, perhaps to zero, of these brushfire wars, the latest of which we find ourselves engulfed in in S. Asia.
Do nukes kill indiscriminately? Yes. This is how wars are won. Did the bombing of Berlin kill indiscriminately? Yes. Did the firebombing of Dresden or Tokyo kill indiscriminately? Yes. And more lives were lost in the Tokyo firebombings than in either Hiroshima or Nagasaki.
The Navy Dept estimated in 1945 that a US invasion of Japan would cost the lives of 9M Japanese and 1M Americans. The Department of War (Army) estimated 5M and 1M, respectively. Both America and Britain planned for the war to last until 1949, or twice as long as it did because of the use of nuclear weapons.
High-end estimates on the numbers of Japanese killed directly and who died from the effects of the two nuclear bombs over the next four months range to a quarter of a million. Productivity counts. Using nuclear weapons saved the lives of between 5.75M-9.75M human beings.
Let’s bring it back to today. To April of 2014, approximately 7,000 American military personnel – and an equal number of American civilian contractors – have been killed fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan. Add to this the approximately 30,500 coalition, and 200,000 Iraqi and Afghan people (civilian and military) that have died to May, 2013. So approximately 250,000 people have been killed at a cost estimated as high as $2Trillion.
Unlike Hiroshima and Nagasaki, there are no industrial Afghan or Iraqi cities with large, dense populations. Nor would Baghdad or Kabul need to be attacked to make the point that must be made: America is serious about stopping those attacking civilization. One or two nukes on large formations of “fighters” in the countryside or occupying small towns – like Fallujah – would end any significant resistance, even if by only killing a hundred thousand – fewer than have been killed creating ISIS and our current $2T stalemate bordering on defeat, and showing no, we are not kidding.
Would civilians be killed? Civilians are being killed now, their lives destroyed, their villages overrun by barbarian savages. Their children are strapping – or having strapped onto them – bombs, and those that don’t die young grow-up to join ISIS and kill Americans. Reality is a bitch, but that doesn’t make it unreal. At least if we are going to kill or allow them to be killed, let’s do it in the cause of defeating our enemies – which we most certainly are NOT now.
The answer to ISIS is the same: one or two nuclear weapons on their locations, killing tens of thousands at zero cost in American lives – and only avgas or rocket fuel costs to American taxpayers. Would a couple of nukes in 2003 have precluded by sheer intimidation the growth of ISIS? Probably. Those guys don’t fight against soldiers or weapons; they fight against civilians and journalists. A simple example-by-detonation on one camp would show that they are up against what they cannot – and so far have refused to – fight: Serious opposition.
The Left always demands a “political” solution. Nuclear weapons ARE political weapons. This is why they are not used. To the military, all that matters is the size of the bang; what makes the bang is irrelevant. Using fusion or fission instead of powder to make the bang is a POLITICAL decision, not a military one.
Would a couple of nukes in 2001-2003 (even assuming the war in Iraq was necessary) have saved tens – or hundreds – of thousands of lives – on both sides? Yes. Do American politicians want to save lives or wage endless wars? I can’t answer for their thoughts, but their actions support the latter. Perhaps this is because of the size of the Military-Industrial Complex against which we were warned – by Eisenhower – and the size of the lobbying efforts by defense contractors, the millions plowed into Congressional campaigns by manufacturers of weapons, ordnance, vehicles, ships, aircraft and armor?
America’s defense spending can be reduced by an easy 50% simply by returning to a policy of Massive Retaliation. What possible rationale exists to sacrifice American lives in wars we refuse to win, at huge monetary – and unknown but unacceptable human – costs? (Altering our strategy to defend America could reduce our DoD budget by over 80% – we don’t NEED 10 Aircraft Carrier groups to defend America, nor two dozen SLBM subs, nor two dozen attack subs and multiple heavy divisions of ground forces.)
The American politician will not educate the voter on the true costs of more productive warfare, or on why these politicians prefer endless war to nonintervention. Politicians also will not educate on the reality of nuclear weapons, leaving that (mis)education to the special effects people of Hollywood. But the reality of tactical nuclear weapons is that they go “Bang” in a big way, do NOT destroy cities, DO end wars and DO save lives. (If you are interested, here is a website providing accurate information on blast radius, etc., for nuclear weapons detonated at optimal heights. As you will see, Hollywood is (of course) wrong.)
Cutting our defense budget will save trillions in just a few years. Moving to Massive Retaliation will likely preclude future wars – and certainly will preclude the war-without-end mentality we seem to have adopted.
Europe can – and should be allowed to – do whatever they want with their own defense. OUR defense costs are too high, and for no good reason; THEIR defense costs are THEIR business.
Those American politicians who insist on war whenever something – anything – in the world rubs them the wrong way (yes, I am talking to you, McCain, Graham, et al), must be rejected unless they plan to fight to win, and with our most productive weapons.
Nuclear weapons and a policy of Massive Retaliation will
- Reduce the Defense Budget
- Save lives
- Force Europeans to grow-up and pay their own way
- End these endless wars.
NO excuse exists for Western leaders to sacrifice other people’s children – on BOTH SIDES of a conflict – because their egos refuse to let them use our most productive weapons, or to NOT FIGHT if they WON’T WIN.
If we MUST go to war, we must WAGE WAR.
All else is lethal folly waged by greedy politicians with other people’s children.