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'Peace Doesn't Keep Itself'

11:03 AM, Oct 4, 2010 • By DANIEL HALPER
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Bill Kristol, AEI's Arthur Brooks, and Heritage's Ed Feulner write in today's Wall Street Journal

Defense spending has increased at a much lower rate than domestic spending in recent years and is not the cause of soaring deficits. Even as the United States has fought two wars, the core defense budget has increased by approximately $220 billion since 2001, about a tenth as much as the government devotes each year to "mandatory" spending: Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, lesser entitlements such as food stamps and cash assistance, and interest payments on the debt. These expenditures continue automatically, year after year, without congressional debate.

We should be vigilant against waste in every corner of the budget. But anyone seeking to restore our fiscal health should look at entitlements first, not across-the-board cuts aimed at our men and women in uniform.

Furthermore, military spending is not a net drain on our economy. It is unrealistic to imagine a return to long-term prosperity if we face instability around the globe because of a hollowed-out U.S. military lacking the size and strength to defend American interests around the world.

Global prosperity requires commerce and trade, and this requires peace. But the peace does not keep itself. The Global Trends 2025 report, which reflects the consensus of the U.S. intelligence community, anticipates the rise of new powers—some hostile—and projects a demand for continued American military power. Meanwhile we face many nonstate threats such as terrorism, and piracy in sea lanes around the world. Strength, not weakness, brings the true peace dividend in a global economy.

For more, see these recent pieces from THE WEEKLY STANDARD:

Gary Schmitt and Tom Donnelly: The Big Squeeze: The Obama administration’s defense budget portends strategic decline.

Gary Schmitt: The American Military is Already Doing More with Less: The country does need to get its fiscal house in order, but not on the backs of the military.

Fred Kagan: Guns vs. Butter: Debunking a tired myth.

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