Peace Through Strength

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee says that the United States is cutting too deep into the defense budget.

631127_120223_0_frank.jpg
631127_120223_0_frank.jpg

Congressman Barney Frank ("Cut Defense Spending," January/February 2012) asserts that deep reductions in U.S. defense spending to further inflate domestic spending, in areas such as policing and education, could trigger a miraculous economic recovery. The education example is particularly apt; to think that throwing even more money at government administration and bureaucracy can "save" the economy is to ignore basic schooling in history and math. This much is true: Since 2009, the Pentagon has been undergoing a long-overdue housecleaning. More than half a trillion dollars has already been cut from the military, with another nearly half a trillion on the table. We are long past cutting the fat and are now dangerously cutting into the bone. Domestic spending, however, has exploded since 2007.

So where, then, is the recovery?

The problem with socialism, Margaret Thatcher pointed out some years ago, is that you eventually run out of other people's money. Inflating domestic spending may temporarily inflate job numbers, but as the euro crisis has demonstrated, the welfare state eventually collapses under the weight of itself. It is no coincidence that many European countries have massive, bloated domestic bureaucracies and sky-high tax rates while committing a small fraction of their resources to defense.

Congressman Barney Frank (“Cut Defense Spending,” January/February 2012) asserts that deep reductions in U.S. defense spending to further inflate domestic spending, in areas such as policing and education, could trigger a miraculous economic recovery. The education example is particularly apt; to think that throwing even more money at government administration and bureaucracy can “save” the economy is to ignore basic schooling in history and math. This much is true: Since 2009, the Pentagon has been undergoing a long-overdue housecleaning. More than half a trillion dollars has already been cut from the military, with another nearly half a trillion on the table. We are long past cutting the fat and are now dangerously cutting into the bone. Domestic spending, however, has exploded since 2007.

So where, then, is the recovery?

The problem with socialism, Margaret Thatcher pointed out some years ago, is that you eventually run out of other people’s money. Inflating domestic spending may temporarily inflate job numbers, but as the euro crisis has demonstrated, the welfare state eventually collapses under the weight of itself. It is no coincidence that many European countries have massive, bloated domestic bureaucracies and sky-high tax rates while committing a small fraction of their resources to defense.

Compare the economic drain of a sluggish federal government with that of a small government boasting a strong defense. America is a unique nation with unique responsibilities. Commerce requires stability. Our armed forces are a wonderful investment with a powerful return — a military that fosters quiet in the world’s oceans, space, and cyberspace. In a globalized economy, those are the realms where commerce flows and innovation thrives. Prosperity blooms in the fertile soil of security, freedom, and stability. We should never forget that those conditions are sowed by America’s armed forces.

REP. BUCK McKEON (R-Calif.)
Chairman, House Armed Services Committee
Washington, D.C.

Alessandra N. Ram is a researcher at Foreign Policy.

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