Monday, February 4, 2008

Military Spending

So it would appear that the latest budget request from the Pentagon would put U.S. military spending at its highest level - adjusted for inflation - since the Second World War. Clearly, much of this has to do with the strain of fighting two wars for six years running, but in a larger sense, it highlights an important difficulty the United States will have to confront in the not-too-distant future; namely, how to reconcile its defense budget with its economic and geopolitical standing. I've written in several places that America will soon be inhabiting a world that is functionally multipolar. In such an environment, it is questionable whether or not it makes strategic sense to maintain a global military presence on the kind of scale that we currently do. More to the point, it is questionable whether the American people will, in the long term, be willing to continue footing the bill. If our global posture is not politically viable at home, then it will seesaw wildly between strategic extremes to nobody's benefit. This weekend's news is just more indication that we need to start having this conversation now, rather than when the situation reaches critical mass in a decade or two.

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