Popgun Budget Cuts at the Pentagon

Much is being made over the new announcement by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates that the Pentagon is being directed to reduce its budget by $78 billion over the next five years (not counting the costs of its combat operations).

We are grateful for small favors, but are not impressed. In 2000, the total military budget was $370 billion. For 2011, the budget will be $707 billion, not including any emergency appropriations that may occur during the year. It is more useful to compare 2011′s $707 billion to the amount we would be spending in 2011 if we had increased the 2000 amount by only the rate of inflation – which would be roughly $475 billion. In other words, if we had limited our 9/11 military response to the 2001/2002 military action against the Taliban, then converted to political and economic tools to address issues Afghanistan, and never invaded Iraq, we would be saving $232 billion per year in the military budget in 2011 or $1.16 trillion over five years. Compare that to Gates’ newly-touted $78 billion.

Saving $232 billion per year or $1.16 trillion over five years? – Just by treating a political problem as a political problem rather than a military problem? Hmmm. Sounds pretty appealing in an economy with a $1.3 trillion yearly deficit and $14 trillion in outstanding debt. Let’s not forget that our military strength is entirely dependent on our economic strength.

Richard W. Vague
Afghanistan Study Group

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