There is a better way to make America safer, more prosperous and freer.
More here from the Cato Institute policy analysis, Budgetary Savings from Military Restraint by Ben Friedman and Chris Preble (displayed below).
The United States does not have a defense budget. The adjective is wrong. Our military forces’ size now has little to do with the requirements of protecting Americans.
Embracing our Good Fortune: Our military budget should be sized to defend us. For this end, we do not need to spend $700 billion a year—or anything close. By capitalizing on our geopolitical fortune, we can safely spend far less.
Contrary to conventional wisdom, counterterrorism does not require much military spending. U.S. military forces are most useful in defeating well-armed enemies. Terrorists are mostly hidden and lightly armed. The difficulty is finding them, not killing or capturing them once they are found. The best weapons in that fight are intelligence and policing. The most useful military tools are relatively cheap niche capabilities: surveillance and intercept technologies, special operations forces, and drones.
As for our potential great power rivals— Russia and China—we would have no good reason to fight a war with either in the foreseeable future if we did not guarantee the security of their neighbors. Both lag far behind us in military capability.
As a rich state remote from trouble, we can take a wait-and-see approach to distant threats, letting our friends bear the cost of their defense. We should stop confusing foreign disorder with foreign threats.
By avoiding the occupation of failing states and limiting commitments to defend healthy ones, we could plan for fewer wars. By shedding missions we can cut force structure—reducing the number of U.S. military personnel, the weapons and vehicles we procure for them, and the force’s operational cost. The resulting force would be more elite, less strained and far less expensive.
In Part III of Defenseless in America I will lay out specific proposals by the authors for reducing spending.
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