Foreign Policy: Opinion: Tom Ricks: Want a Better Military? First Make it Smaller: Why America Can’t Afford to Police the World

Foreign Policy: Opinion: Tom Ricks: Want a Better U.S. Military? First Make it Smaller

If you truly believe in a strong American military and that it is essential for not only America to be safe, but for us to play our part in seeing that the rest of world has a shot at living in peace and you are not part of the anti-military far-left, or anti-military libertarian-right, or the America police the world Neoconservative Right, then you believe there are and has to be limits to what we put our military and our service people through in seeing that we accomplish those goals of a secure America and a safer world.

Theoretically any country that controls its own currency which is most of the world outside of the European Union can borrow and print money indefinitely to finance their military and other governmental operations. Well until their currency is so weak that it becomes essentially worthless. Borrowing money is just that and when you run up debt you have to pay that back even if it is a little bit at a time. Even if your national government doesn’t pay the debt back that debt gets passed down to its taxpayers in the form of higher interest rates. Everything that government does has costs including the military.

And based on this when countries figure out their national budgets every year they have to look at what they need to finance. The money available to finance those operations including the military and what they can afford to spend on those public investments. The military is always part of any national budget and the key word being budget. Even the United States has to budget it’s military and we simply can’t afford to police the world anymore based on previous debt we’ve already run up and the current shape of our military.

Which means other countries especially developed countries have to play their part in securing their own national defense. And I’m thinking of Europe, Saudi Arabia, Japan and Korea to use as examples. Which means American taxpayers shouldn’t have to pay for the national defense for people who aren’t willing to pay for their own national defense. And I’m thinking of Europe especially, but Japan is another big one. And what we should be telling those countries is that “we still want to be your allies and work with you and even help you be able to defend yourself like with training and equipment. But those things aren’t free and you are going to have to compensate us for those resources”.

We should get our military out of Europe and Japan and even Saudi Arabia and Korea and perhaps have a fleet of ships in the water nearby in case there are some new developments and threats that emerge in those countries. That no one could see coming that would pay us to do for them. But America has its own problems and we need to be rebuilding America and getting our own economic and fiscal houses in order and demanding that countries that can afford to pay for their own national defense do exactly that.

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