US Shrinking Military

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The US has never gone a decade without war in its entire history, but now the administration has decided to lower the cost of the military, this episode of 10 minutes elaborates on the details.

TIME CODE: 00:00_05:25

Narration: The World Bank has predicted that China will take the US place as the world's largest economy this year. The comparison has been made on the basis (PPP) (the purchasing power parity). The PPP measure is a better comparison for many purposes including military spending.

A brief review of Cold War history makes it clear that when the United States had an arms race against the Soviet Union, the Soviet economy was maybe one-quarter of the size its enemy. US has never experienced an arms race with a country whose economic size advantage is growing rapidly. Are Americans prepared to give up social security or Medicare in order to maintain US military supremacy in the world?

A newly released poll asked Americans whether they thought the United States should "take the leading role in trying to solve international conflicts?" Only 34 percent of the voters said they wanted a more involved foreign policy, while more than six in 10 Americans wanted to be more non-interventionist. Now, it seems that Americans are more opposed to military action than they were a decade ago, given the experiences they had in Afghanistan and Iraq.

According to the useconomy.about.com website, “The U.S. military budget is $763.9 billion for FY 2016. That makes military spending the second largest Federal government expenditure, after Social Security ($938 billion). Military spending is greater than Medicare ($583 billion), Medicaid ($351 billion), or the interest payment on the debt ($283billion ).”

To understand how the US military budget has been set during various eras, some facts need to be considered. Before World War II, the US government used to spend about one percent of its GDP for military purposes; In World War II, in 1945, the US defense spending was over 41 percent of GDP.

But the trend changed after the war when the country found itself in a global rivalry with Communism. Since then, the military budget has never been less than 3.6 percent of GDP.

SOUNDBITE [English] Host: “Ladies and gentlemen, The president of United States Ronald Reagan.”

Narration: During the Reagan administration, the US military budget made up 6.8 percent of GDP. However, before the collapse of the Soviet Union it started to decline, as it came under 6 percent in 1990, around 4 percent in 1996 and touched its lowest level at 3.5 percent of GDP in 2001.

9/11 changed the trend once again and the military spending saw a considerable increase in two phases. First, it jumped to 4.6 percent by 2005 following the invasion of Iraq, and then to 5.0 percent in 2008 for the “surge” in that country. The military budget increased further to 5.7 percent in 2011 when Washington decided, it wanted to be more active in Afghanistan and it was expected to decline to 4.5 percent of GDP in 2015 and 3.8 percent by 2020.

SOUNDBITE [English] Barack Obama, US President: “We spend more on our military than the next 10 countries combined; China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, you name it. The next 10. And what I did was work with our joint chiefs of staff to think about, what are we going to need in the future to make sure that we are safe? And that's the budget that we've put forward. But, what you can't do is spend $2 trillion in additional military spending that the military is not asking for, $5 trillion on tax cuts. You say that you're going to pay for it by closing loopholes and deductions, without naming what those loopholes and deductions are. And then somehow you're also going to deal with the deficit that we've already got. The math simply doesn't work.”

TIME CODE: 05:25_10:12

Narration: In a bid to get over its financial problems, the Obama Administration adopted a belt-tightening policy in all aspects including military spending.

SOUNDBITE [English] Chuck Hagel, Former US Secretary of Defense: “Today, there are about 520,000 active-duty soldiers, which the army had planned to reduce to 490,000. However, the Strategic Choices and Management Review and the QDR (Quadrennial Defense Review) both determined. This will be the first budget to fully reflect the transition DOD (Department of Defense) is making for after 13 years of war.”

Narration: The Pentagon plans to reduce the size of the Army to between 440,000 and 450,000 soldiers. The Army is currently about 520,000 soldiers and had been planning to draw down to about 490,000 in the coming year", he added. A reduction to 450,000 would be the Army's smallest size since 1940, before the United States entered World War II, when it counted a troop strength of 267,767, according to the US Army figures. Kathleen Hicks, a former senior defense official says, "Congress always modifies the president's budget request. They will repeat it for Obama's. The question is will they do it in small ways or large ways?"

SOUNDBITE [English] Marco Rubio, US Senator: “This is the worst possible time to be reducing our defense spending and yet that is what We are doing and we are setting ourselves up, for danger .I would recognize that people who have worked hard on this budget have tried to find new ways to address this through contingency funding .I respect the work they have done.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Tom Cotton, US Senator:“That was the last time the department of defense engaged, we should do In this body which is the budgeting for the military based on the threats we faced and strategy we need not having the strategy that is driven by the budget ,but that ‘s not enough.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Marco Rubio, US Senator: “The absence of the long- range bomber, they need the replacing aging submarine flee a navy that had catastrophic low number ships, all of this things need to be confronted, not to mention the factor, we are not modernizing in efficient and effective rate ,our nuclear arsenal which is a key part of our …And the world with China and Russia and others has significant start pulse of weapons, particularly the Russians ,all of these things are important and needs long range long term decision which would have a future impact on congress, a future commander in chief and on our children and grandchildren who would be the ones who live in that world.”

SOUNDBITE [English] Leon Panetta, Former US Secretary of Defense:“What I saw was the Washington , just was unable for a lot of deal what the major issues facing this country, I have seen Washington it’s best and I have seen its worst but I have never seen Washington as partisan, as divided , as dysfunctional as it is today, and obviously we are paying a price for that, we are paying price on the budget ,we fail to deal with budget , fail to deal with tax reform, fail to deal with…, fail to deal with immigration reform, fail to deal with infrastructure funding, fail to deal with the whole issue of energy and climate change, fail to deal with I mean I can even agree on war authority to… war dealing with ISIL I mean all of these things for ever reason the president, the congress, democrat, republican can ‘t come together.”

Narration: However, the U.S. politicians’ disagreement on the military spending is just tactical, but they do agree on their security strategy, a preemptive war. The dark shadow of terrorism and massacre of civilians will slide across the world, including the United States itself, as long as this strategy is followed.

   

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