February 27, 2009

Back in January I threatened to inflict on Takimag readers a series of articles on how to convince patriotic conservatives that it’s time for America to scale back significantly on the military spending that wastes so vast a portion of our national resources, inflates our deficit (and hence our currency), and gives irresponsible civilians “€œbig ideas”€ that entail sending Americans to die in questionable causes. These often result in blowback that actually threatens American security. We”€™re borrowing money from rivals and possible enemies to buy a really big gun, then using it to shoot ourselves in the foot.

Instead of a five- or six-part series, as I”€™d planned”€”let’s face it, who reads such things?”€”I”€™ll condense them all here into a small box of armor piercing bullet points. Each of us has friends who reflexively support a “€œstrong military,”€ out of healthy instincts and old habits that once made sense”€”when the U.S. faced a massive Communist enemy active around the world. Our situation is radically different now, and it’s time that our thoughts gained some tenuous contact with reality. Why not start your friends thinking by offering them one or more of the following observations:

1. The U.S. spends more money on its “€œdefense”€ than every other nation in the world combined. Are we really in that much danger? If so, from whom?

Radical Islam: Fine. How do nuclear submarines and Navy attack helicopters protect us from camel-polishing suicide bombers in Sheboygan?

Russia: What is Russia threatening to do? Which vital interest of ours has Russia endangered in the past five years? The past ten years? At any point since 1989? Now it’s true that Russia invaded Georgia, but so did Abraham Lincoln. And anyway, isn”€™t it great the way those Russian tank divisions reduced street crime in Atlanta?

China: Agreed, the Chinese are a rising power, with military aspirations to dominate places like… the China Sea. So why are we putting our entire economy in hock to them, moving all our computer factories over there, and in return… selling them rice? Remember when we used to sell cars to Latin America, loan them lots of money, and they”€™d pay us back in bananas? Well, that’s our emerging relationship with China. How exactly does this make us safer? Wouldn”€™t it be better to spend our money more judiciously, pay a little extra for tanks and computers built in the U.S., and keep some manufacturing base within our borders? As it is, we”€™re in no position to push back if the Chinese decided to expand; we”€™re dependent on them, as Mussolini’s Italy was tied to exports from Britain. And our chances of thwarting China’s wishes, the way we”€™re going, are about as good as the Duce’s.

2. We keep military bases on every inhabited continent, with thousands of troops protecting wealthy countries that don”€™t defend themselves, like South Korea, Japan, and Germany.

With our economy collapsing, our taxes soaring and deficits metastasizing like cancer, why are we serving as volunteer rent-a-cops for wealthy foreigners? What are we, idiots? It’s not like these countries even follow our lead when we go to war. The Germans elected a prime minister mostly because he opposed our war in Iraq, the Japanese use the money they save on defense to undermine our manufacturing base, and the South Koreans hate us for defending them. What gives? What do you think would happen if we put such countries on notice that in five years our troops would come home and they”€™d be on their own? What is the worst that could actually happen? Would it affect your day-to-day life one bit? Would it threaten your children”€”the way that massive deficits and a crashed economy do?

3. Do we really need the world’s largest military to remain a great country? Is that the only thing that’s great about America? Do we really need to frighten people into respecting us? Didn”€™t we get to be big and powerful by building things and working hard, saving our money and only sticking our necks out when our national interests were at stake? It was countries like Spain and France that emptied their treasuries trying to prop up unprofitable empires… while we ate their lunch. Why should we let China do that to us today?

4. We have enough nuclear weapons to blow the earth into a different orbit around the sun. No major power is going to attack us”€”ever. If they do, the whole human race goes bye-bye and we can all explain ourselves to Jesus. We didn”€™t go to war with the Soviets over Hungary or the Chinese in Korea. Neither are the Russians, Chinese, Pakistanis or Venezuelans going to try invading the U.S. today, tomorrow, or ever. Except, of course, as immigrants…. So why are we arming ourselves to refight the Korean war?

5. It doesn”€™t impugn the courage and sacrifice of our fighting men to admit that the Iraq war was a disaster.  It got thousands of Americans killed, left tens of thousands permanently disabled, poured trillions of dollars down a big black hole, made us enemies around the world, and gave control of the White House and the Supreme Court to the Democrats. All for what? So a bunch of Arab Moslems who still hate us can democratically elect which anti-American leader will run their country, sell us expensive oil, and denounce us for human rights abuses. Why did we ever care what happened in Iraq in the first place? Because of a bunch of lies told to our soldiers by a bunch of cynical civilians with “€œother priorities”€ than serving their country. If our soldiers were safely home, we could forget the place existed. In fact, if Sauron, the Romulans, or Cthulu came down tomorrow and sucked Iraq off the face of the earth, would you or your neighbors notice? As long as Sauron kept the oil flowing….

6. The way to keep dangerous criminals like Al-Qaeda from coming into our country is to… keep dangerous criminals from coming into our country. Now we don”€™t know which criminals are dangerous in advance, so it might be safest simply to keep out all the criminals. Which includes people coming in here illegally, with the help of drug-lords and human smuggling rings. So one smart way to protect America might be to use our military force to protect the borders of our own country”€”instead of, say, the borders of Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, Georgia, Poland, and South Korea.

7. If you knew a family that had more guns than all its neighbors put together, but was living on credit cards and cadging loans from people who hated them, what advice would you give them? To pay down their debts and start to save… or borrow more money to fill up their bomb shelters with even more semiautomatics?

There are a few good counter-arguments against the U.S. slashing defense spending”€”and I have to give credit, they came from my girlfriend. As she said, in essence:

“€œIf we cut defense and saved hundreds of billions, wouldn”€™t the Democrats just use that money on more diversity programs, classes teaching Mexicans Hmong as a second language, and brightly colored condoms for kindergarten? Besides, if we”€™ve wrecked our economy and turned ourselves into a Third-World country whose only claim to fame is a massive military, maybe we better hold onto those weapons. They”€™re all we”€™ve got.”€

In essence, she argues, the U.S. is well on the way to becoming a rogue state. It might as well be a really powerful one that everyone else is afraid of.

Needless to say, she is a Texan.


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