Increasing military spending poor solution

On Monday, Jan. 2, President Clinton announced his proposal to shore up the armed forces with an infusion of $100 billion over six years. Once again, the federal government needlessly throws money at a problem instead of instituting reforms and revising policies that could more effectively and economically solve the problem.
The United States spends more on its armed forces than France, Germany, Japan and Russia combined. Annual U.S. military spending never dipped below $260 billion during the Cold War, and reached a peak of $365 billion in 1987 under the Reagan Administration.
Despite the end of the Cold War, Americans are told that the military must retain these spending levels due to the rise in ethnic conflicts and terrorism around the world. The government hauls out the usual suspects such as “rogue states” of which Libya, Iraq, Iran and North Korea are the most dangerous.
In contrast, the “Annual Report” of the secretary of defense contains no explicit reference to military threats from a single region or country for the first time in 35 years.
The truth is, the United States has no potential enemies capable of producing a fighting force equal to that of pre-Gulf War Iraq. The closest are China, Syria and North Korea.
Yet none of these is particularly threatening to the United States. It would take China at least a decade to muster an army the size of Iraq’s in 1991, one which U.S. forces readily defeated. Syria is now engaged in peace talks with Israel, and North Korea is an impoverished nation of 23 million and is occupied with a much stronger South Korea.
Why then the need for more weapons and more money?
Increased spending will fund more bombers, fighter planes and cruisers. Such high-tech weaponry supposedly will help the United States maintain world peace and deter terrorists from striking at democratic nations. However, just in the past year attempting to use these weapons in this manner has proven ineffective.
The United States bombed a terrorist base and a medical facility in the Middle East, merely renewing hatred of Americans abroad and skepticism from the president’s opponents at home. Osama bin Laden still plots against the U.S. government and our embassies abroad are still not any safer than they were before we lobbed cruise missiles into the Sudan, Afghanistan and Iraq.
In order for the United States to truly be effective in promoting world peace, diplomacy must take the place of bombs. We must treat our enemies as people with whom we can reason, not as fanatics whom we must bomb. Without a clear target for our armed forces, every military action risks killing civilians and enraging the very groups we hope to intimidate.
Military spending should be directed toward reducing weapons and training peacekeepers. Instead of purchasing new aircraft carriers, we need to refocus our priorities on bringing our enemies to the negotiating table so that we may resolve our conflicts like rational human beings and not violent barbarians.
Cutting ridiculous spending on more weapons and increasing diplomatic efforts will do much more to stop the spread of weapons and terrorism than bombers and cruise missiles, despite what the government and the military insist.