The New York Times would have Americans believe yes, by referring back to cold war levels of troop deployment and a strange philosophy of a resurgent Russia. My Cato Institute friend Chris Preble pulls the Times editors away from the brink of hysteria with some logic and common sense.
We have cut military spending modestly, and most of the reductions have been from war costs. The base budget is still well above pre-9/11 levels when adjusted for inflation.
The Europeans, by contrast, began cutting immediately after the Cold War, and haven’t stopped cutting. Promises to get serious about defense ring hollow against this backdrop.
But if the Europeans ultimately fail to increase spending, we (Americans) have only ourselves to blame. This was the deal that we cut at the end of the Cold War–we agree to defend you, and you agree to let us. If I were in the Europeans’ shoes, I probably wouldn’t have spent much more on the military. People are generally disinclined to pay for things that others will buy for them (a concept that conservative Republicans understand when it comes to domestic welfare spending, but strangely ignore when the dependents are wealthy foreign countries).
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