Some 9/11 reflections…
U.S. military spending in 2000 was $320 billion. That’s about $520 billion in today’s mini-dollars. The 2021 military spend is about $700 billion (35 percent higher in real terms) plus about $220 billion for veterans (pensions, health care, etc.).
We were recently defeated by a peasant army in Afghanistan. Might it be time to consider investing less in an area where we have a record of ineffectiveness?
My dumbest question: Why spend money on an army (1 million uniformed personnel plus 250,000 civilians)? I can understand why we might want a navy (though maybe we could lose it all in an hour or two? See Robot kamikaze submarines shaped like blue whales render navy ships useless?). I can understand why we want an air force, e.g., for drone attacks on people we don’t like, dropping bombs on the assets of governments we don’t like, etc. I can understand why we might want Navy SEALs and similar special forces. But what is the Army for in our current strategic situation?
We’re not going to invade Poland with tanks, right? We’re not going to occupy Canada (I hope!). We’re not going to try to secure the border with Mexico against unauthorized crossing. Why are we paying 1.25 million people to prepare for a land war and/or to fight unwinnable land wars, such as in Afghanistan?
One argument in favor of the Army is that it can be deployed against domestic enemies, e.g., those who violate lockdown and mask orders (see Australia and Peru) or Trump supporters who might have wanted to come back to the Capitol after January 6. Another argument is that the National Guard part of the Army can help with disaster relief, e.g., picking up people with helicopters after floods. But these roles wouldn’t seem to require 1.25 million people.
Here’s another way to phrase the question: If we had no military forces of any kind today, what would we choose to fund and build? Would a million-soldier land army be part of that?