Defense budget unreality

I know we're at war, and I'm actually one who feels that government's primary purpose is to defend its citizenry. It's what government fundamentally does best. I also recognize that it is politically very difficult to call for defense spending cuts while at war and while undere the threat of terrorism. It would be politically crazy for Democrats to call for massive defense cuts. But looking at the specifics of the pentagon budget, couldn't they make a rational argumnet–and get traction on it–that our defense budget doesn't need to be cut but refocused?

Fred Kaplan in Slate points out the unreal spending better than I can. I get the numbers below from his article.

We know that our enemy today are terrorists. We should know what is urgent and of utmost priority. Instead, we are poised to spend $2.6 billion on an attack submarine when we already have 60. How many submarines does Al Qaeda have? And we're spending money ($4.5 billion) on another aircraft carrier when we already have twice as many carriers as the rest of the world's navies combined.

And the biggest diversion seems to be missle defense, which we're going to spend $10.4 billion on this year. It seems like a travesty to me to spend so much on an unproven technology while not better securing our ports. The much greater danger of nuclear attack is a bomb smuggled into the U.S.

This seems to me to be precisely the fulfillment of Eisenhauer's warning about the military-industrial complex. The industry has taken on a life of its own and seems to grow and perpetuate itself without any assessment of actual need or risks.

But my point is, couldn't Democrats explain this somehow in a way which still shows them to be strong on defense? That targeted spending is what is needed, not just a lot of spending?


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