Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Defund the military

Suppose you are looking forward to a leisurely bath but find that the water pipes have sprung a leak. You call the plumber who crawls behind the tub with a great deal of groaning. When he emerges he proclaims the pipes repaired and charges $150. Alas, the next day, you discover that the pipes are still leaking. You might call the same plumber to complain, but you would certainly call on someone else to repair your pipes.
If a doctor you consult on some illness prescribed medicines that only worsen your condition, you will consult another physician.
It is common sense that when you consult a professional you will only trust your business to them for a second time if they solved your problem before. Whether its a plumber or a doctor, a car mechanic or a therapist, you don't return to anyone who did not help you the first time.
Everyone knows that.
But we do not follow that rule when it comes to national security. Since World War II our military has been involved in four serious wars and lost every one of them.
To be sure, they covered themselves with glory when they invaded Granada (Population 150,500) under President Reagan, and Panama (Population 3.8 million) during the first President Bush. But those were not serious wars for the most militarily powerful country in the world.
But Korea is still divided, Vietnam is ruled by the Communist Party. In the Iraq, daily bombings claim a steady number of Iraqi lives. It is not clear that 10 years of military occupation has improved lives for the long-suffering citizens of that country. We are about to leave Afghanistan after 12 years of combat. There is little reason to think that the current Afghani government will be able to resist the Taliban. After 12 years of war, security in Afghanistan is pretty unchanged from what it was in 2002.
Our military – and that includes the civilian leadership – is spectacularly ineffective. Investing billions of dollars in incredibly complex machinery, they are unable to pacify countries that fight 19th century style insurgencies.
All of this is important because it is budget time once again and the military is asking for roughly $925 billion. The generals, richly bemedaled, because they keep handing out citations to each other, appear before Congress to testify about the threat to national security if their budgets are cut. But it is not lack of money, or young men and women willing to sacrifice that made us lose wars over and over.
The military is completely unsuccessful. It is unable to win any real war. What is more they are accustomed to declare victories when they are defeated. Surely the sensible policy would be to reduce military budget by at least $300 billion.
That is about half of this year's government deficit.
If we also defunded the CIA and NSA, the budget deficit would be completely wiped out. We might even have some money left over to improve the lives of the poorest citizens of our country.