David Brooks is a conservative pundit with the New York Times who veers from the path of most “conservative” writers…his views are his own, not based on talking points handed down by the GOP. After the 2012 presidential debate in which Ron Paul asked voters to realize the distinction between military spending and defense spending, he wrote:
To be honest, my brain has hurt ever since Ron Paul made that distinction between military spending and defense spending in the debate the other night. Was the invasion of Normandy military spending or defense spending? What about the Battle of the Bulge? I’m totally confused.
I’m not sure if the comment was meant to be sarcastic humor, or simply sarcastic, but it is a reference to a topic critical to the economic well-being of the United States. How much do we need to spend on national defense?
A year later, in the midst of the sequester, the distinction between military spending and defense spending that Paul asked us to consider, the distinction is still critical.
Before addressing the difference however, the purpose of the military must be defined. Before deciding what money needs to be spent on the military, we need to know what the military is supposed to do. Shocking as some people will find it, what the military is supposed to do is simple:
The military…ANY military, not just ours…is supposed to break things and kill people. Period.
When, and to what purpose, the military does this is (for good or bad) up to civilian leaders in Washington, but the mission is the same…
When asked by the country’s elected leaders…to break things and kill people.
In order to do that there must be a certain amount of taxpayer money spent…money to pay, equip, and feed a military force (and their families) that can and will accomplish that mission. That is called “defense spending”.
What the military is not supposed to do, indeed is ill equipped to do, is be a global meals-on-wheels program. The military is not supposed to be a global police department. The military is not supposed to be a global public works department, constructing roads and schools and hospitals around the world (especially when local school districts all around the United States are working with a crumbling school infrastructure due to a lack of funds).
Further, the military is not supposed to be a jobs program for every locality that surrounds a military base around the world, mostly to provide jobs for locals who are civilian workers. (I wanted to insert the question “Do we really need XXXX military bases on foreign soil?” here, but it seems no one, not even the Department of Defense or Pentagon, knows how many bases there are. Depending on which official you ask, and which day of the week you ask them, the number seems to be somewhere between 900 and 1200 bases.) In the case of many bases around the world, their only justification for existence is to buy friends.
Finally, spending in support of defense programs and equipment that the military doesn’t want and that doesn’t work even if they did want it is military spending but is certainly not defense spending; it is money spent to support the (and I hate this term…it makes its users sound so…ant-capitalist, which I am not) military-industrial complex, and it is a tremendous waste of taxpayer money. It is money spent for one reason…to keep incumbents in office.
The best, and my favorite, example of the real purpose of military spending as opposed to defense spending is Lockheed’s F-22 Raptor fighter aircraft.
Nobody that is except Lockheed, who wanted the government (read taxpayer) money for the contract and the unions whose workers would build the plane.That’s it…just the folks who would make money off of the plane and not the people it was ostensibly being built for.
OK…I have to be honest here. There were two more people who didn’t want to see the F-22 go away, two more people who fought tooth and nail to save the F-22 in the face of its being unwanted and unneeded, two more people who lined their pockets by keeping the F-22 alive.
Georgia’s two senators, Sen Johnny Isakson and Sen. Saxby Chambliss.
Saxby Chambliss took care of his masters in the corporate offices of Lockheed so the campaign contributions would keep flowing, and he took care of the unions with members working at Lockheed to make sure he got their votes and to get their campaign contributions, but he didn’t listen to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Air Force or Army, the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff…and he didn’t take care of the citizens and taxpayers in Georgia and nationwide. He is retiring at the end of his term. Good riddance.
Johnny Isakson took care of his masters in the corporate offices of Lockheed so the campaign contributions would keep flowing, and he took care of the unions with members working at Lockheed to make sure he got their votes and to get their campaign contributions, but he didn’t listen to the Department of Defense, the Department of the Air Force or Army, the Joint Chiefs-of-Staff…and he didn’t take care of the citizens and taxpayers in Georgia and nationwide either. Unfortunately he is not voluntarily retiring Like Chambliss, but he needs to be polishing up his resume because the voters are going to retire him the next time he stands for reelection.
Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss are no different than most Republicans. They know the difference between military spending and defense spending. They know…and hope you don’t.
They also know that the libertarian-minded folks know the difference too, and THAT is why they, and most of the GOP, hate libertarians.