What About a War Ceiling?
With a faltering economy, rising unemployment and a dysfunctional political system, why are the White House and Congress committed to the U.S. eternally policing the planet?
Back in Washington, national security spending still seems to be on an upward trajectory. At $526 billion (without the costs of the Afghan and Iraq wars added in), the 2011 Pentagon budget, is, as Lawrence Korb, former assistant secretary of Defense under President Reagan, has written, “in real or inflation adjusted dollars … higher than at any time since World War II, including the Korean and Vietnam wars and the height of the Reagan buildup.” And the 2012 Pentagon budget is slated to go even higher.
Now consider the actions of elected officials in Washington. America’s credit rating is in danger of being downgraded, jobs are disappearing, infrastructure is eroding, homeownership levels are falling rapidly, foreclosures are sky-high, times are bad, and even the president admits that the political system designated to make things better is “dysfunctional,” yet Congress and the president remain committed to guarding those global ramparts, fighting those wars, and continuing to build and feed a massive national security complex — larger than anything ever imagined when the U.S. still faced a nuclear-armed superpower enemy.
So here’s a question at a moment when financial mania has Washington by the throat: How would you define the state of mind of our war-makers, who are carrying on as if the only sensible role for the United States is to eternally police the planet?
Americans have been focused on raising that debt ceiling, as onscreen countdown clocks ticked away to disaster. In the process, few have asked the obvious question: Isn’t it time to lower America’s war ceiling?
The Debt Crisis Forces the West into Retreat
The US debt debacle may signal the end of the American century not only economically, but also militarily and diplomatically. A minor exchange last weekend hinted at the shape of things to come. On a visit to Afghanistan, Admiral Mike Mullen, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked by troops if they would get paid if the US defaulted. “I really don’t know the answer to the question,” came the reply.
There, in a nutshell, is the new geopolitical reality confronting the US. It can no longer afford to be the world’s policeman. A large slice of the $2.4 trillion cuts package will come out of the defence budget.