Can We Cut "Defense" Spending?

Of course, says Thomas Eddlem.

The United States now spends 54 percent of the money expended worldwide on defense, according to the Swedish-based Stockholm International Peace Research Institute’s 2010 yearbook, i.e., more than the rest of the world combined. In real dollars, that’s approximately $1 trillion per year in defense/security programs, once Defense Department outlays, the cost of the Iraq and Afghan Wars, and security spending in other federal agencies (such as Homeland Security, State, Energy, HHS, and intelligence) are included. It’s a cost of nearly $9,000 per household in the United States every year.

Thus, with America in a budget crisis, many people are beginning to ask the essential questions:

• How much spending do we really need?

• Does the nation really need to spend more than the rest of the whole world combined to be safe, or is spending only more than the three or four next biggest spenders on defense enough?

• Can the United States leverage its uniquely advantageous global geographic position — isolated from much of the world by two oceans — to spend a little less than the next biggest spender?

One odd pair of Congressmen have decided the U.S. government can be safe and still spend a little less on defense: Representatives Ron Paul (R-Texas) and Barney Frank (D-Mass.). Last summer Paul, arguably the most conservative Congressman in Congress, and Frank, arguably the most liberal, proposed more than $100 billion in cuts in the defense budget for each of the next 10 years, partly based upon scaling back American troop commitments to Europe and some other foreign bases.

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