Defense cuts are too small

There is no need for a defense budget as massive as ours.

Daily Editorial Board

Recently, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced cuts to the PentagonâÄôs defense budget over the next 10 years, which should reduce the overall budget for 2022 to 8 percent less than it was in 2011. For a Congress driven to rein in federal spending, these cuts are superficial and simply not enough. Military spending is one-fifth of the federal budget, and defense spending doubled in the six years following the attacks of Sept. 11, 2001. Furthermore, the U.S. just ended one war and plans to end another in 2014.

There is no need for Cold War-level defense budgeting. AmericaâÄôs desire to fight long foreign wars and lead international military interventions is not a duty thrust upon us by the international community, nor does it allow for the U.S. to support its own domestic priorities at home.

The capabilities of each U.S. military branch are so far beyond what is needed to effectively deter threats that even with a dramatic reduction of the defense budget, AmericaâÄôs overall security and projection of global power would still be far in excess of all other rivals.

Despite potential value as a credible deterrence, U.S. military spending is not even based on real security challenges and external threats, as it historically has been. The U.S. military is assuming a role that Americans cannot simply support. The defense cuts announced are a mere glimpse at the blindly pro-military culture in Congress. Unreasonably high levels of defense spending âÄî especially in a political environment where raising taxes is impossible âÄî prevents our country from carrying out any of its other far more important priorities.