Thursday, March 13, 2008

Our Poor Defense Department

Rebecca Hagelin's latest article takes issue with a headline she characterizes as "strikingly idiotic." The headline? "Ending War through Diplomacy." She points out that Diplomacy is only for pansies and losers, and begins extolling the virtues of defense spending.
Polls suggest that many Americans think we already spend too much on defense -- never mind adding more. Others think it makes up the largest part of the federal budget. Quick: How much of gross domestic product do you think we spend on defense?

25 percent of GDP? 50 percent?

The actual number is less than 4 percent. Bet you’ve never heard that from the establishment media or liberal leaders.
Did you see the switch there in the first paragraph? She says that some people think that Defense makes up the largest part of the budget, and then moves to comparing the Defense Budget to the GDP. I guess she hopes people won't notice that the GDP and the federal budget aren't actually equivalent. The Federal Budget covers everything that the Government spends, the GDP covers the entire American Economy.

She goes on to point out that in World War 2 military spending made up 34 percent of the GDP. But she fails to note that we had come through two decades of strikingly low defense spending in the wake of WW1, and we were way behind the war machinery of the Axis Powers. It's a tribute to the strength of America that we caught up so readily.

So in the 1940s we were starting well behind everybody and we had to sprint to catch up. In 2008 we are way the hell ahead of everybody. We spend more than anybody else in the world; our 2005 military budget was larger than the next 168 biggest spenders combined and we spend over eight times as much as our biggest international rival, China. So why exactly do we have to keep spending?

And of course there's a real question of whether or not we are spending our money where it will do the most good, considering the enemy we fight.

On the other hand, I do approve of the phrase "strikingly idiotic." I can certainly think of some articles to which that phrase applies.

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