Billions in Pentagon cuts touted by Gates and Obama recently don’t represent real decreases to defense spending. With troops in more than 150 of the world's 195 countries, the US needs to abandon its cold-war era deployment strategy. It's time for our wealthy allies to pull their weight.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently announced that the Department of Defense (DoD) had found “at least $100 billion in savings” and that he was “curtailing or canceling troubled or excess programs that would have cost more than $300 billion if seen through to completion.” President Obama, in his recent State of the Union address, echoed Gates’ proposal to cut defense spending. These "cuts," however, should not be confused with an actual, immediate reduction in current defense spending.
What these cuts really represent is the projected savings that would be gained over the next five years by not growing the existing budget. This plan is really just a commitment not to spend more money in the future; it’s not a plan to actually spend less money this year than last year, or even to keep spending at the same level. In fact, Mr.Gates was clear on that point. And to be sure, he should be commended for exercising some fiscal restraint (something DoD isn’t usually known for) – particularly during continued uncertainty about economic recovery. But as defense spending continues to amass nearly half of federal discretionary spending, his proposal is hardly cause for celebration.
To begin, a little perspective is in order.
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