Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Sequestration and Defense Cuts

With talks of sequestrate cuts looming, many people are criticizing governmental cuts despite growing tensions with a frustrated and nuclear-threatening North Korea. For those of you who still are unaware of the federal budget cuts, CNN explains clearly that sequestration is in fact, "a series of automatic, across-the-board cuts to government agencies, totaling $1.2 trillion over 10 years. The cuts would be split 50-50 between defense and domestic discretionary spending...It's all part of attempts to get a handle on the growth of the U.S. national debt, which exploded upward when the 2007 recession hit and now stands at more than $16 trillion." The sequester has been coming for nearly a year, yet many people still fear cuts within our defense department. People also think that taxes should be raised before we cut certain programs, yet we have room to make some spending cuts!

I personally think our defense spending is outrageous and that cuts need to be made. Every year the United States wastes billions of dollars on military and defense spending raising our national debt ceiling. In 2010 U.S Department of Defense spent roughly $690 billion. This amounts to more than 40% of the world’s defense spending.  Senator Tom Coburn from Oklahoma contends in a working paper that there is over $70 billion in defense spending that can be cut without any impact on our defense or national security. A study from the Stimson Center, along with a panel of four military generals, which targeted the inefficiency in defense spending, also concluded that the Pentagon could absorb as much $550 billion in spending cuts over the next ten years. It is mind boggling to think how much money and resources are wasted by the defense department. The Pentagon currently administrates over 1,000 military bases in the world, calling for significant reassessment in the need for such bases. Foreign Policy in Focus reports that “more than half a century after World War II and the Korean War, we still have 268 bases in Germany, 124 in Japan, and 87 in South Korea.” The Institute for Policy Studies puts the savings from overseas base closures as high as $184 billion over 10 years. Not only would these cuts bring home many of our troops but, these cuts would help lower our nation’s debt ceiling, without threatening the security of our nation.  According to the New Republic, “Since 2001, military and security expenditures have soared 119%.  The U.S. defense budget is now about the same as military spending in all other countries combined.”  There are clear cuts in defense spending that could reduce our deficit without harming the American people or national security which should be prioritized before any sort of tax increase.

People are also worried that cutting defense spending would allow terrorism to fluorish and hurt our already deeply rooted fight against global terrorism, while in fact many experts believe defense cuts would benefit our national security. America takes an active role in counterterrorism across the world, however these actions are what causes terrorism.  According to Ivan Eland Senior Fellow and Director of the Center on Peace and Liberty at the Independent Institute, “All of the examples of terrorist attacks on the United States can be explained as retaliation for U.S. intervention abroad”.  Eland provides 64 specific examples of terrorism caused by directly by American policies. By cutting defense spending as stated in our previous contention, we would reduce intervention globally. According to the national counterterrorism center, this increase in intervention correlates with a 41% increase in terrorist fatalities.  This is the most important point in today’s debate and should be weighed as such.  Because we would be less active abroad, we would see a reduction in terrorist attacks. This is a net good to America because we are not only saving money, and American lives, but we are upholding our national security by reducing terrorism. Do you think cutting our defense spending is a good idea, even with tight military tensions with North Korea, and the Middle East?

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