The United States currently spends more than the next eleven countries combined on defense. Despite that staggering statistic, Republicans have predictably announced they want to increase military spending yet again. President Trump’s $54 billion increase would bring the total defense budget to roughly $650 billion. That represents more than 1/3rd of the total federal budget and 40% of the world’s defense spending. Before Congressional Republicans sign on, they should take a serious look at our current empire first. It is clear upon further examination that, if anything, we need to cut military spending. The United States does not need to spend more on defense than the next fifteen countries’ combined.
When comparing the militaries of different countries it’s important to take into account more than just dollar figures. One should also consider the military hardware that is being purchased and maintained. Of course, the United States comes in at the top of the pack in nearly every metric. The Navy has more operational aircraft carriers than the rest of the world combined, more than 75% of the world’s cruisers, more cruisers than Japan and China combined, and nearly half of the world’s nuclear submarines.
The United States’ combined air forces account for two thirds of the world’s twenty thousand war planes. In addition, we maintain more attack helicopters than Russia and China combined. The only major metric where the U.S. military doesn’t come in first place is for battle tanks. Although, while we might only have the third most, behind Russia and China, at least all of ours are operational.
That brings us to another incredibly important point. The United States military is actually maintained in working order that is far superior to that of other potential enemies. Although they recently increased military spending, Russia’s military hardware is falling apart. It’s hard to even consider their lone aircraft carrier operational. The Admiral Kuznetsov has been banned from scores of ports because of the black soot its ancient engines belch. The ship can’t make it a hundred nautical miles without breaking down and thus requires a tug boat to travel with it everywhere it sails. That same sorry state of disrepair doesn’t describe any branch of the United States military.
Finally, one last argument against increasing military spending is that the nine of the next eleven military spenders are allies. Saudi Arabia, with all of its faults, is still one of the United States’ most important partners in the Middle East. The United Kingdom, France, and Germany are all members of NATO. Australia, Brazil, Japan, India, and Korea are all allies as well. Only China and Russia could be considered potential foes. Even that is unlikely considering the trillions of dollars in trade the United States does with China.
When all this is taken into account, there is no justification for increasing spending by nearly as much as Russia’s entire defense budget. The United States military is already an unequaled force. There is no benefit to maintaining such an empire in a world without any serious challengers. The money would be far better spent paying down the debt, which many major military figures such as Admiral Mullen say is our largest national security threat.
Military spending should be cut in order to eliminate the gaping budget deficit. The government must stop adding to the $20 trillion national debt. The further the United States goes into debt, the more likely it becomes we will one day be unable to afford the interest payments. As Rand Paul famously said during the 2016 Republican primary debates, “we can’t project power from bankruptcy court”. Borrowing a million dollars a minute to pay for more military spending will not make the United States any safer.