Sequestration 2013: Can We Strengthen the Military While Cutting Its Budget?


You’ll rarely hear people criticizing South Park for being outrageous, because that’s who they are! They’re the kid in the back of the classroom mimicking the teacher in a high-pitched voice, making everyone else laugh. Everybody loves that kid.

Everyone except for Fox News – he's the argumentative bully who only feels good if he’s making someone else feel bad. Fox is condescendingly arrogant and has no problem lying through his teeth to paint others in a bad light. He allies himself with strong athletes and popular wealth by proxy, ridiculing the poor kids and hiding behind the "institution's" moral shield like a good patriot. We all know that kid, and even his rich friends think he's a tool. 

Media Matters published a wonderful piece decrying a ridiculously misleading Fox News graphic, which depicts a supposed decline in America’s military spending and the looming specter of a Soviet-Chinese super army gearing up to parachute onto our lawns. This is Fox ringing the alarm bell for the pro-military crowd, trying to paint the Democrats as responsible for the sequester, and in turn, handing our future over to socialist invaders.

It will come as no surprise that Fox chose to leave out some essential facts. Measuring military spending by percentage increase is not an accurate reflection of the actual dollar amount spent. For instance, if you spend $5 on your lemonade stand one summer and then $6 dollars the next, you’ve increased your spending by 20%. Now if I spend $100 dollars on my mega bejeweled lemonade stand, and $101 the next summer, I’ve only increased spending by 1%.

That’s the reality of our military spending. It may not be increasing in large percentile margins, but it vastly overshadows the next 12 countries’ military budgets combined:

" ... the U.S. military spending accounted for 41 percent of the world's total military spending in 2011. The U.S.'s expenditure is about five times more than the second-highest spender, China, which accounted for 8.2 percent of the world total. Russia's military spending is in third place with 4.1 percent."

Now I don’t want to downplay the sequester, because if our Congress is stupid enough to let it happen, the Pentagon’s budget will be cut by a drastic and arbitrary $42.7 billion. Furthermore, to give the familiar "next 12 countries combined" factoid context, we should recognize that several countries don’t utilize their own military. Instead, they rely on American protection and policing – and as WWII showed us, perhaps it’s a good thing that every nation on Earth doesn’t have its own military force. Most of our allies feed from the garden of our military industrial complex, as do some of our supposed enemies. It’s a funnel of control that is far easier to manage than 250 separate armies.

But just like Democrats have to recognize that social security needs well-thought-out reform, Republicans need to recognize that military spending needs to undergo a "smart" restructuring. You can’t fight to preserve every military base in every state. You can’t keep churning out legions of new tanks when the Army doesn't have any use for them.

We need to recognize the real landscape of global conflicts. The U.S. Navy is the true military cornerstone of our democracy, because it controls all the trade routes of the Pacific and Atlantic oceans. Drones and cybersecurity are the new battlefields. Special Forces and clandestine spies are the soldiers of tomorrow. Congressmen should be fighting to ensure their states are building the bases, technologies, and educational programs necessary to contribute to the times ahead.

We need to take two steps back from our bloated defense spending, and one smart step forward to ensure our military is ahead of the curve and meeting the demands of the new world. We don't have to seek needless conflict, but rather safeguard our trade and prosperity. Our military can either be an outdated symbol of imperialistic oppression, or a modernized force for peace and economic stability. If we outthink and outbuild our enemies, we strengthen our ideals and inspire other nations to follow in our footsteps. 

"Of all the enemies to public liberty war is, perhaps, the most to be dreaded because it comprises and develops the germ of every other. War is the parent of armies; from these proceed debts and taxes … known instruments for bringing the many under the domination of the few.… No nation could preserve its freedom in the midst of continual warfare." — James Madison, Political Observations, 1795