We have two courses we can follow. One is to follow the pathway of Europe, to shrink our military smaller and smaller to pay for our social needs. The other is to commit to preserve America as the strongest military in the world, second to none, with no comparable power anywhere in the world. We choose that course. We choose that course for America not just so that we can win wars, but so we can prevent wars. Because a strong America is the best deterrent to war that ever has been invented.
There are so many problems with this statement it’s almost difficult to begin with.
First of all, Europe is an ally. Or at least they’re supposed to be. I have no idea why the Republican strategy seems to be to insult the entire continent whenever possible, and use the word “European” in the pejorative, as if to say that Europe is a disaster and we should avoid being like them. Then we can’t seem to figure out why they don’t want to back us up when the shit hits the fan.
Secondly, this notion that the only path toward security is throwing trillions of dollars into the military to build more tanks and bombs is such a childish view of strength I’m surprised the phrase “tree fort” didn’t Freudian slip its way in there. We’re not in the middle of the Cold War or WWII. The era of needing swarms of fighter jets and six million boots on the ground is over. Technology is advancing, and so is military strategy. In the 21st century, we’re capable of tactical bombing into someone’s toilet with our iPhones and ransacking a dictator’s HQ with a team of six.
Add in the fact that we have billions upon billions of dollars being wasted every year on projects that go nowhere and produce nothing, and the amount of money we can trim from the military budget without having a negative impact on our ability to defend ourselves is enormous. Mitt Romney’s blockheaded “WE NEED MOAR TANKS” nonsense is what someone who only cares about dick-waving says. Someone who’s less concerned with genuine capability and more concerned with being able to strut around talking about how we have more missiles than anyone else.
And finally, I don’t think I can say nearly enough how much I hate this notion that the United States is what keeps the world safe. Yes, the US had a great spurt between 1910 and 1950 where we helped win some damn big wars, but after the Cold War, Vietnam, and our Middle East adventures, it’s a safe bet that the world largely sees us like that guy who you always want on your side in a bar fight but tends to cause more problems than he helps. A rottweiler with a bad attitude that guards the house but also bites the neighbors.
Our military budget isn’t a numbers game, nor is anything else. Look at the world we live in. It’s not terrifying. There has been one significant terrorist attack on US soil in the last 20 years, and it caused about 7% as many deaths as traffic accidents that year. Since then, the worst thing Americans have had to worry about has been whether or not they’ll have a job and how much gas will cost. We’re not living in Beirut or Damascus. No one walks out of their house and goes to the store crossing their fingers that a guy wearing a TNT sweater vest will fuck up their day. Our leaders aren’t afraid of having stadium-sized rallies, because they know no one’s going to shoot at them or set off a dirty bomb. Our police aren’t worried about IEDs and we don’t need the military patrolling our streets.
Some places of the world may be unsafe, but the United States is quite safe, and wrecking our economy just to impress no one with how much we spend is a disastrous policy.