Cutting U.S. defense spending would put the nation and the current global order at grave risk. International stability and American security are threatened by dangerous contingencies that are becoming increasingly likely. Iran's acquisition of nuclear weapons would be a world-changing event. The persistence of Islamist militant groups in Pakistan threatens stability on the subcontinent and security throughout the West. Militant Islamist sanctuaries are expanding in Somalia, Yemen, and equatorial Africa. A growing number of Islamist groups are seeking recognition from al-Qaeda and declaring their intentions of attacking the United States and its allies. Security and stability in Iraq remain fragile. The war in Afghanistan is at its height. This list of current conflicts and threats excludes the kinds of potential future threats for which the U.S. military must also be prepared, including conflict with China, serious challenges to the U.S. satellite constellation, the continued proliferation of long-range missile and nuclear technology, cyber-conflict, and many others.
There is no basis either in the present global security situation or in trends looking forward to suggest that the requirements for the U.S. military will diminish significantly. Cutting defense, therefore, can be justified only on the grounds that there are greater priorities than safeguarding the nation from visible threats. Protecting the American people from external attack is one of the few indisputable core functions of the federal government. Global economic downturns generally exacerbate instability, fuel unexpected outbursts of extremism and militancy, and drive those states with the greatest interest in maintaining global stability and the best ability to do so to turn inward and allow the world to slip into chaos. America must avoid repeating this mistake and must be prepared for the conflicts that are likely to ensue.
Are there Greater Priorities than the Security of America?