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Shaping the Defense Budget

It's a mistake to just count dollars and cents.

2:08 PM, Jun 3, 2010 • By JOHN NOONAN
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Last, and most important: We're currently embroiled in two wars -- while trying to preserve freedom of the seas (off the coast of Somalia, for example), support disaster relief efforts globally (like in Haiti and Indonesia), and deter powerful aggressor states from smaller allied nations. Never before in U.S. history have our soldiers been asked to do so much with so little, a strain which is in turn slowly atrophying the military. 

Studies that simply compare the U.S. defense budget with the budgets of peer competitors make a poor case for slashing military defending. They don't factor in America's unique responsibility to world security and stability, nor are they part of the consideration in the nature and consistency of adversaries and allies alike. As Europe disarms and new potential competitors rise, the strategic demands shouldered by our military have grown exponentially since the end of the Cold War. We should fund our forces appropriately. 

It's the prime directive for disarmament advocates to illustrate that America spends astronomically more on defense than the rest of the world, and then to wield that talking point into a larger, regimented political strategy. Spending less on defense frees up more for entitlement spending, so the argument goes, and it's perhaps an effective point with the largely liberal arms control community. But it misses the larger, more complex, picture.

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