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Thu Dec 29, 2011, 08:22 AM

Wake Up: America Can't Afford Its Military

Wake Up: America Can't Afford Its Military
By Doug Macgregor
Published: December 28, 2011

Through the last year the defense industries and their supporters in Congress worked overtime to ensure the federal government kept the armed forces in a perpetual procurement cycle. Inside the Pentagon, the generals and admirals who lead thedefense bureaucracies worked to minimize procurement costs. This was not altruistic behavior. It's the only way to protect the armed forces' outdated force structures from more debilitating cuts; cuts that threaten the single service way of warfare along with the bloated overhead of flag officer headquarters.

Meanwhile, public pronouncements from the office of the Secretary of Defense on cost savings initiatives or about imminent strategic disaster if defense spending is reduced fell flat. In fact, everything in 2011 related to defense, from the controversial F-35 program to the multi-billion dollar contracting fiascos in Iraq and Afghanistan, looked like window dressing designed to buy more time for an anachronistic, insolvent defense establishment.


What we can say is that Americans are signing up for President Eisenhower's philosophy in the aftermath of the Korean War. He insisted the nation deserved both "solvency and security" in national defense. Like Eisenhower, Americans seem to understand the nation's vital strategic interests are only secure when the United States' scientific-industrial base is productive and our society prospers. Predictably, there is also a growing recognition that the million dollars a year it costs to keep one American soldier or Marine on station in Afghanistan makes no sense when, for a fraction of the cost, the U.S. Army and other federal agencies could easily protect America's borders from the wave of criminality, terrorism and illegal immigration washing in from Mexico and Latin America.

Looking forward into 2012, American voters seem to understand what many of the men running for President do not: Given America's fragile economic health, 2012 is no time for uninformed decisions regarding the use of force. The deficit Americans worry most about is not fiscal; it's a national deficit of integrity and reason.


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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 08:25 AM

1. "The wave of criminality, terrorism and illegal immigration washing in from Mexico & Latin America"?



Where is all this crime and terrorism coming in from Mexico and Latin America? I mean, how does it compare to all our home-grown terrorism and crime?

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 08:58 AM

3. You noticed that too, huh?

I was about to say this article made a lot of sense and then I read that sentence and it sort of destroyed the whole thing.

How about the wave of criminality washing in from Wall Street?

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Response to Zalatix (Reply #1)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 09:12 AM

6. It's the backwash from a predatory Wall Street that's wrecking the country, not Mexican drug gangs.

Occupy Wall Street . . . with the US Marine Corps. Rendition to military custody the thieving bastards at the NYSE, AIG and Goldman Sachs who have ripped-off the country blind.

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 08:52 AM

2. Memo to all the worshippers of Ronnie Raygun --

Overspending on military is what supposedly brought down the Soviet "evil empire."

Just sayin'. . . .


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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 09:19 AM

7. I thought it was his fearsome demeanor


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Response to izquierdista (Reply #7)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 09:29 AM

8. Please, a (graphic) warning would be the polite thing to do.

It's still early here in Arizona and I haven't had my iced coffee yet.

etea - (and I've already seen this http://www.democraticunderground.com/100283813)

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Response to Tansy_Gold (Reply #2)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 03:37 PM

10. Actually, the Soviet Union hit the wall the US is heading towards...


Last edited Thu Dec 29, 2011, 04:14 PM - Edit history (1)

That wall was to choose reducing the costs of maintaining its Military might to a level the Soviet Union could afford, OR raising revenue to pay for that Military Might. The Oil Glut of the mid 1980s was the final straw, revenues fell do to the drop in the price of oil at the same time Soviet Oil Production FELL.

In the mid 1980s Soviet Oil Production peaked and started to drop. The drop in price and the drop in production was a double hit on foreign revenues. The Soviet Union oil production did NOT plateau for the plateau is not only the product of existing wells peaking out, but new wells coming on line but not at a high enough level to increase overall oil production. These new wells cost money to drill, money the Soviet Union did not have for over 40% of its GDP was going to defense and thus there was no money to drill new wells (Thus after the collapse of the Soviet Union AND the subsequent mess caused by that collapse, money could be transferred to drill these new wells and oil production in Russia boom, not up to the level it had been in the early 1980s, but enough to end the disaster Russia had become during the 1990s).

Thus the collapse of the Soviet Union can be traced to a drop in oil production, a drop caused more by excessive Military Spending then Peak Oil. The Military just took to much money, so nothing was available for anything else (A similar situation had occurred in Medicine in the Soviet Union. Medical care was under funded so the money could go to the Military instead, thus life expectancy in the Soviet Union actually DECLINED from the 1960s onward).

Whatever you may think of Stalin, he did try to keep the cost of the Military in check. Given a choice between two weapons, one the best in the world, the other almost as good but at half or less the cost, Stalin would opt for the later (Thus Stalin favored the SKS over the AK, he preferred the MIG over the much more sophisticated product of Sukhoi, he preferred the T-34 and T-54 series of tanks over the more sophisticated tanks of Germany and the Western Allies, he liked towed artillery over self propelled artillery, he preferred direct fire artillery, if it was self propelled, then the much more expensive indirect self propelled artillery, he opposes a sea going fleet for on the sea the side with the more sophisticated ships will prevail, Stalin liked to substituent people for equipment for its was overall more cost effective).

After Stalin's death, Khrushchev tried to keep that tradition up, but kept running into the Soviet Military who wanted equipment on the level with the West. For this "Crime" Khrushchev was overthrown in 1964 and Brezhnev succeeded him, Brezhnev left the Military get wanted their wanted (For example Khrushchev had started building a Soviet Navy but as an expansion of Stalin's coastal defense fleet. The big buildup of the Soviet Navy started after 1964 but Khrushchev had started that expansion in the mid 1950s for Khrushchev' position within the Soviet Union was NOT that secure and Khrushchev was trying to keep the Military on his side by giving them what they wanted).

Now Stalin would spend money when he had to (The development of the Soviet Atomic Bomb and the Copying of the B-29 are two such examples), but as a whole Stalin preferred NOT to spend money on the Military perferrign domestic projects like dams, canals, factories etc.

Please note the Soviet Union had more tanks then anyone else in 1941 when the Germans Invaded. Most of these tanks had been built during Stalin fight to become the absolute Ruler of Russia in the late 1920s and early 1930s and thus obsolete by 1941. Furthermore Stalin had wreck the Soviet Military command due to his purges of the late 1930s, thus the German success in 1941-1942. On the other hand, Stalin's insistence for what works at the cheapest price possible gave the Soviet Army the advantage by middle of 1942 so that it was Berlin that fell to a Conquering army not Moscow.

Anyway, under Brezhnev the Military demanded and came to expect more and more out of the State. The T-54/55 was NOT good enough by the 1960s, the T-62, T-63 and T-72 were put into production to replace it. These Tanks were much better then the T-54/55 series of tanks, but at much higher cost of building and maintaining (The Israelis report of all the tanks in their inventory, including tanks captured from the Arabs, the T-54/55 were the easiest tank to maintain and keep in the field). The T-55 is still the most prolific tank in the world and will be used long after tanks put into service after it are long removed from service, do to its ease of maintenance AND it is still an effective tank (The US ran across T-34s during the War with Serbia, again a preference to keep something that works over wasting money on what is better, when the best return on that money is the domestic economy).

One on One with a M1, the T-55 does not stand a chance, but cost wise, is the M1 better then 10 T-55s? That is about the price to operate, maintain and acquire 10 T-55s or one M1. The M1 can take out Five to Six T-55s, but that still leaved Four or Five T-55s to take out the M1. Furthermore being tracked vehicle, tanks have much higher "Failure" rates then wheeled vehicles. In some long range movements tanks dropping out of formation can be as high as five out of six. With 10 T-55 you can almost guarantee at least two will make it to the point of decision. With the M1, your bets are all on one tank, it has a one is six chance of getting to the point of decision, and a Five out of Sex chances of NOT getting to that point.

Now, advocates of the M1 says the solution is simple, get 10 M1s. The problem is the choice is NOT 10 M1s or 10 T-55s, but 1 M1 or 10 T-55s WHEN THAT IS THE SAME PRICE FOR BOTH OPTIONS. Stalin would have said get the T-55s, the Soviet army of the 1970s and today's US Army would say get the 10 M1s, and NOT care that the Country can NOT afford it.

I picked on the Army, but the Navy and Air Force are worse. Why buy the F-22 and F-35 fighters when today's F-15, F-18s and other planes is more powerful then any plane any US Pilots will face? Furthermore it is a almost even chance that by the time the F-22 and F-35s do become the main planes of the US, their be obsolete by advancement in Air defenses AND missiles.

It is expected, given these two factors, improvements in Air Defenses and Missiles that in 10-15 years it would be more cost effective to launch a Cruise Missile at a target then to send in a plane to take out a target, thus making the F-22s and F-35s as obsolete as Battleships (and the Battleships may NOT be as obsolete, for their could be retrofitted to fire such long range missiles as was done to the Iowa class of Battleships when they were reactivated in the 1980s).

Just discussion on how the Military spending is killing this country WITHOUT protecting it. Part of this is do to the Nature of the Military. A good example of this was the French Calvary from 1650-1790. AT the end of the 40 year war, French Calvary stilled used metal breastplates, in addition the Pistol and the Saber. They had top notch horses to ride on (These were called "Cuirassiers". In the late 1600s, the French decided to expand their Cavalry but as a cheaper alternatives to the Cuirassiers, these were given inferior horses, no breastplates but were given Carbines (And thus were called CARBINIERS). Within 20 years these troops were demanding better horse so they can do a better job of being Calvary and were getting those horses, making them almost as costly to keep as the Cuirassiers. The idea of a Cheaper Calvary did not die, instead inferior horses were given to some infantry units and called "Dragoons". Again within 20 years the Dragoons were demanding and getting better horses, so they could do their cavalry duties better. The cost savings disappeared once again. The French then adopted Hussars, a type of Light Cavalry, but again the inferior horses were replaced with superior horses within 20 years and the cost savings disappeared.

I go into the above to show each new type of Cavalry was introduced as a "cheap" version of an existing cavalry type. This is typical of most militaries, every unit command wants to be able to do the best he can, and that can only be done if he has the best equipment. Thus units with "inferior" equipment always want better equipment, even if the country can NOT afford it. Unless you have someone in charge who can tell the Military NO, the Military will always slowly eat up more and more of a Nation's GDP.

It is NOT war that brings up this price, but peace (More Armed peace, with some sort of standing army ready to fight if called to do so). During war, what the military has today or can get today is all it wants for in most cases that is all the military can handle. During peace time the units look at each other and are evaluated by each other on how good the unit does in training. This gives the commanders of those units time to see how to improve those units and lobby the Government to pay for the improvements. The Government, not wanting to appear anti-military, gives in and the cost of maintaining the peace time army goes up and up, till the country goes broke.

That is what happened to the Soviet Union and has been happening to the US since WWII. An armed peace that permitted the Military to demand the Government to spend more and more on the Military so that each unit is better and better. Sooner or later the Government goes broke and the whole stack of cards falls apart (Thus the massive cut back on the Russian Military when compared to Soviet Times).

Overspending on the French Navy and Army from 1700-1789 was the main reason for the collapse of the Monarchy in 1792 (The French Army took ten years to recover (and then at a reduce costs for it became a "People's Army" of mostly draftees as opposes to an army of hired mercenaries with conscripted peasants to fill in the ranks), the French Navy never did till decades after the fall of Napoleon).

We are heading down the same path, over spending on the Military for no one wants to say no to them. Gorbachev's greatest problem was the refusal of the Military to accept his decision to cut back on military expenditures. It was for that reason the Coup against him was done, and failed for the men in the actual Military units (The Soviet Army was, and the Russian army is a Universal Service Army i.e. made up of draftees, as draftees they see themselves as one with the man on the street NOT as a military elite) knew that the Military had to be cut back, even as the leadership of the Military refused to accept that unpleasant fact (Given that the US Army is NOT a Universal Service Army and made of "volunteers" who enlisted for the pay, i.e Mercenaries, those enlistees are more likely to support the people who pay them instead of the people, a huge difference between the US and the Former USSR).

Differences exists, the US Military is more mercenary then the Soviet Army was, the US has a larger GDP then the Soviet Union had, the US is more united then the Soviet union and is Warsaw pact allies were, Russian has been attacked by almost all of the countries that borders it, the US has NOT been.

The closest thing to a country on the US border invading the US is Canada and to an even lesser extent Cuba. Under French Rule, Canada was used by the French to attack the Colones that became the US, the British used Canada as a base to attack the US in 1777 and as a base to contest US control over the Old Northwest Territory, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Wisconsin and Michigan between 1783 and 1815, and Cuba was used as a base of supply for the British attack on New Orleans in 1815, and it was used again in 1862 when the North took New Orleans during the Civil War). The US has invaded all three countries over the years, Canada up till 1814, Mexico as late as 1915 and Cuba in the form of the Bay of Pigs in 1961. Except under unusual circumstances, invasion from these three countries is unlikely given the strength of the US in comparison economically compared to Cuba, Mexico AND Canada (i.e. any of them are united and the US is divided and can NOT unite). .

My point is the US has the option of a much smaller military even to idea of disbanding all active military units, something even Russia under Yelsin could not afford to do. Russia, under Putin, is using a lot of Soviet built military equipment, equipment already bought and paid for. Many Former Warsaw Pact nations are doing the same. This permits Putin to build up his military at a much lower cost (as Napoleon did after he became Emperor in 1801). Putin does NOT have to buy anything knew, just use what is left over from the Soviet Union. The US can do the same, tell its Military to make due with what it has and save a lot of money. That by itself would save a lot of taxpayer's money, but it is something that requires the Government to tell the Military: "I will pay for Salaries for the Troops, spare parts, replacement parts. fuel and food, but NOT for anything new, make do with what you have for that is all you are going to get".

Under Yelsin, the Military did NOT even get that level of funding, remember the stores if Soviet Troops hitting the streets asking for food, for their units had none to feed them? Common stories in the late 1990s, disappeared under Putin. Putin budgeted money for food, replacement parts, but no knew equipment, thus the Russian Army improved under Putin, but it is no where near what the Soviet Army was capable of in the mid 1980s, just before the Collapse of the Soviet Union. The reason is simple, Putin does NOT have the money to do so AND even Putin accepts the fact that there is no way Russian can pay for such an expensive Military.

The US people are just beginning to understand that Government spending must be cut AND that the number one expense is the MILITARY. The problem is as soon as you start to cut defense, the people hurt (the Contractors NOT the troops) will yell that you are hurting the troops, helping "Terrorists" AND hurting America's ability to defend itself.

We are at the point where the choice is becoming, "Do you want grandma to have food to eat OR do you want America to be able to chase the Taliban back into its caves in Afghanistan?" Under the Government today, the third choice, a huge increase in taxes is off the table.

Now, I believe Deficit spending DOMESTICALLY, is needed to kick this economy into motion, but it has to be spent DOMESTICALLY to do what is needed. Spending it in Oil to keep our troops in Afghanistan is NOT domestic spending. Spending it on Welfare so people can feed themselves IS domestic spending. Buying new Tanks can be domestic spending, but running that Tank on foreign oil is NOT. Spending money on bases overseas is NOT domestic spending, but spending it on bases in the US is domestic Spending. We need to close out bases overseas, station our troops and ships in the US so that any spending benefits the US economy NOT some foreign country. Deficit spending, if spend in the US give the kick the US economy needs, but deficit spending overseas will NOT.

In simple terms, cut back on buying military equipment, i.e. do NOT buy anything that we have something that can do the job already in inventory. even if it is obsolete. Stop spending money on oil, even if that means the Military has to STOP training on using its Tanks, Ships and Planes (Give the Military a test, how would it defend the US, if it had no fuel to do so? That way the Military will spend money on food and troops but not oil). Stop spending money overseas, including cutting back payment on overseas bases.

Once the Military has cuts its expenditures down to about 10% of what it spends today, then lets look at other areas of the Government that can be cut back, but such efforts will be useless without the Military cutting back first, for the Military is the number one cost of federal expenditures and to exempt it from cuts makes the whole point of any cuts futile.

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Response to happyslug (Reply #10)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 03:59 PM

12. My point exactly. Thanks! n/t

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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 09:00 AM

4. Maybe it would be more affordable if we quit sticking our nose where it doesn't belong.

We keep interfering in places that are none of our business and where we have no national interest. We send troops everywhere from the Balkans to practically every Middle Eastern pesthole that has some sort of protest going on.

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Response to razorman (Reply #4)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 10:12 AM

9. BINGO!!!


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Response to unhappycamper (Original post)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 09:04 AM

5. Actually...


...the US can easily afford it's military - PROVIDED, taxes are raised to pay for it.

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Response to CJvR (Reply #5)

Thu Dec 29, 2011, 03:57 PM

11. I have my doubts..


The US Military is the number one user of Oil in the US. If the Military would cut back its use by 90% (what German non-armored non-airplane units had to do from 1942 onward) could it still defend the US? It be hard, but doable. The savings in fuel usage may even make the US self sufficient in oil (If you consider Canadian and Mexican Oil "domestic" which in a pinch can be viewed as such given how close all three economies are to each other).

The problem is the US Military does NOT want to defend the US, it wants to be able to win what ever war the US gets into, no matter where. That requires the ability to project power and that requires a lot of access to oil That ability cost MONEY in addition to OIL.

Thus the issue is how can we "pay" for the US Military? Do we raise taxes? or do we cut back domestic spending so that Grandma has to starve to death so that we have money to project US military power? No one wants to raise taxes, so the choice is Grandma being able to feed herself or the ability to project power. Which do you prefer? I prefer Grandma eating which means cutting back the military given NO ONE WANTS TO RAISE TAXES ON THE 1% (and that is where the money is thus where we have to raise taxes).

FDR had a 90% tax rate on the 1% (subject to a 50% long term capital gain rule, thus if the investment lead to income five years later, 50% of any gain was NOT taxable, but 50% of the gain was taxed at 90%, in effective a 45% tax rate on long term gains, but a 90% tax rate on any gain do to short term speculation including on the oil and stock markets). Kennedy reduced this to 70%, Reagan to 35% (AND treated long term gains the same as short term speculation gains, thus someone who made an investment in a factory that produced a profit in five years, was treated the same as someone who made a gain speculating on stock, bonds or oil), and Bush jr went to even lower rates.

I do NOT see a return to the 70% tax rate let alone the 90% tax rate. Thus taxes will NOT be raised, thus the choice cutting non-military spending (Social Security is the single biggest non-military item) or the Military? That is the choice, Grandma's dinner or oil for Planes flying over Afghanistan? Which is your choice given the lack of any support for a tax increase?

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