Tuesday, January 4, 2011

Defense and You

Rob Farley:
As I suggested above, we are approaching a political and economic situation in which real reductions (depending, I suppose, on how we characterize “real”) to defense spending can become possible. Consequently, I think it’s very important that progressives start thinking through the details of defense issues now. Non-partisan blogs like Information Dissemination and the USNI blog have commenter communities that are both well informed about defense issues and lean strongly right; there is no good reason for this situation to persist. Institutions like CAP should continue to contribute on Afghanistan and Iraq, but should also give greater attention to what US military doctrine should look like in five years, and to how progressives can and should shape overall US military capabilities. Robust, consequential progressive work on technology and doctrine will be good for progressives, and good for debates on US military capabilities.
Speaking as one of those radical sissy hippies I'm of course in favour of brutal and perhaps fatal cuts to US capabilities, but in my secret identity as hand-wringing middle-class liberal I also wonder who's gonna fill the vacuum. Because those vacuums do get filled. Go read the post. I think what it comes down to is your faith that the US can do useful things with its weapons, something you can argue for using the recent examples of Operation Skeletor's Castle and the breathtakingly successful Assault on Mordor. As well, US forces now have the Kinect, leaving those faggy Wii controllers in the dust and one American soldier can now command legions of zombies through interpretive dance; should money still be thrown at blimp-lifted trebuchets?


ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

I guess old fashioned logic like "Look what we've spent and done the last thirty years, and are we any safer? No? Than lets try the other side's plan." isn't going to fly with the milbloggers.

Substance McGravitas said...

I'm more conflicted than the silliness of the post above indicates: bunches of places around the world outsource their military capabilities to the US and the world is a peaceful place compared to the way it was when I grew up. Of course, to go along with that ridiculous power imbalance you have to accept that the US will go bananas every few years and bring on the war crimes. Is it, on balance, worth it to the world for the US to be the world's crooked cop? What other crooked cops are available?

I can't see that it's at all worth it for the American taxpayer, but then again that churning of dollars through the economy is a very big thing to let go of, and it's hard to think that the savings will be used for something nicer instead.

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

It'd be hard for the money to be spent any worse.

And think of how much money is spent destroying demons we have ourselves created. Remember, Saddam was our buddy back in the 1980s (which is when he used poison gas).

As for the Taliban, a similar story.

Pakistan is becoming one of the more unstable countries on the planet, and they do have nukes. Why? We can thank the spread of Wahhabism by our good buddies, the Saudis.

I believe the story of the Sorcerer's Apprentice fits nicely.

Substance McGravitas said...

It'd be hard for the money to be spent any worse.

Dante was wrong: there are always more circles to hell.

Smut Clyde said...

should money still be thrown at blimp-lifted trebuchets?

At the Riddled Research Laboratory we are working on perfecting the ground-to-air anti-trebuchet trebuchet, for the purpose of throwing the money.

M. Bouffant said...

the world is a peaceful place compared to the way it was when I grew up

Good thing someone changed you once in a while.

fish said...

Farley is delusional to think that progressives will actively engage in reducing military spending. I remember listening to Al Franken on Air America (yeah, I know) bragging about how it was Clinton's awesome army that GWB was using in Afghanistan. Most progressives still defend US military actions in the Balkans too. Plus it is the only real stimulus spending in the US right now. w/o it, our economy tanks even worse.

Substance McGravitas said...

There's probably a "True Progressive" argument to be had there somewhere.

But I kind of agree with the "real stimulus" angle, and in an era of really shitty trade agreements military spending is an anti-competitive subsidy that the trade agreements can't touch.

mikey said...

I dunno. Where has the US military capability actually done good? Not in Rwanda, not in Sudan, opinions vary wildly on the Balkans. Has the US forward deployment actually deterred aggression? That, of course, is impossible to say, as it would be proving a negative, but I'm not sure where that might have occurred other than perhaps the Korean Peninsula.

It's pretty obvious that the US could maintain a strategic deterrent, a robust defensive capability and some expeditionary function for a few hundred billion dollars a year. I am of the opinion that there is no benefit (other than, perhaps, the few points of unemployment that would represent a reduction in the armed forces themselves) from any additional military spending.

Of course, at the same time, as Tom Cody said so memorably, "I didn't win no medals but I liked to shoot their guns"

Substance McGravitas said...

Where has the US military capability actually done good?

A fine question. Hunting down pirates?

Substance McGravitas said...

Building earthworks around New Orleans?